Friday, December 31, 2010

It's Not Too Late To Set Family Goals for 2011

2010 is history!  Have you chartered your course as a family for 2011?  I'm not talking about resolutions that will last a week before you break them, but a plan of action for the entire family.

Here's one of our goals:

As parents of 4 and 6 year olds, we recognize the important role of cultural enrichment to expand upon what they learn in school.  To that end we will visit a museum/cultural center each month.  We actually started early by attending the Medieval treasure hunt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the Cloisters yesterday and a quick visit today to the American Museum of Natural History.  We had to pull the kids away from the galaxy exhibits where Brooke learned about supernovas.  Ryan lit up when he saw "Rexy" the dinosaur from Night at the Museum.  I can't wait to watch how they grow and develop as a result of these monthly excursions. 

See not so bad...

In addition to our personal goals, each child has their own goals too: 

Read a chapter book a month
Make up bed/keep room clean daily
Learn to ride bike without training wheels
Eat vegetables...
You get the picture. 

Our friends at Kadence LLC , advise that you break annual goals into quarterly goals to help you stay on track.  Check them out for upcoming workshops to help you get the best out of 2011. 

My husband Spencer forwarded the following article to me about setting family goals, so I'm playing it forward by sharing it with you.

Here's to raising our families together! 

Wishing you a blessed, healthy, prosperous and joy-filled 2011!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Chocolate Chip Guide to Christmas 2010

Welcome to the Chocolate Chip Guide to Christmas 2010....

We've made our list and checked it twice...
Here are a few of our favorite things of the holiday season:

Our favorite television programs......

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Truly a classic!! My brother, cousin and I used to ROFL watching those kids rock out to Schroeder's tunes on the piano!!! (I know EVERY dance- Do you?)

It's not Christmas until my mother hears Linus respond to Charlie Brown's plea:

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"
Check it out on hulu now:

The Sound of Music
"The hills are alive....."
I absolutely LOVE watching the Sound of Music which traditionally airs the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. The music, the songs, great plot and story line...Just LOVE it!
Watch this classic with the children.

The Arts....

Alvin Ailey- Revelations
"I've been 'buked and I've been scorned...."
Sinner Man, Fix Me Jesus, I Wanna Be Ready, Wadin' in the Water.....I LOVE every movement of this signature classic of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
Without a doubt my most favorite activity of the season! 
At least one tear (who am I kidding, MANY) will find its way down my cheek as I watch mezmorized by the strength, beauty, fire, power, joy and grace of this American classic set to the Negro spirituals.  Revelations touches my soul every time! 
Catch Ailey at the New York City Center now thru January 2, 2011.  You won't regret it.

The Nutcracker Ballet
If you're a member of the Chocolate Chip family, you know that our annual family outing was made extra special this year with Brooke's appearance in the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance production of The Nutcracker

Whether you see the NYC Ballet (thru January 2nd) or a local more modest production, the story of Clara and her most favorite Christmas gift set to Tchaikovsky's score is not to be missed. 

The Westchester County Ballet presents their production at the Westchester County Center this weekend 12/18-12/19  Check out the link below for tickets.  Advance sales: $18, children and seniors $12. All tickets $22 on the day of performance

Special Events...

The Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens

Thru Jan 9th, 2011  Come to my hometown, the BX, to check out what is without a doubt the BEST way to see NYC!

While you're there check out the Gingerbread Adventures, The Little Engine That Could™ Puppet Show and Thomas the Tank Engine (1/1-1/9).  Our 4 year old Ryan is going to LOVE that!!!

March of The Wooden Soldiers
As performed by the Rockettes at the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City thru December 31,2010

Ah this brings back such fond memories of my high school years....Shout out to Cardinal Spellman's Flag Corps (I see you Karen and Melody) who perform it annually

And the traditional NYC spots....

...The Tree and Herald Angels at Rockefeller Center
...The Christmas Windows: Macy's and Lord & Taylor

Ice Skating

Although we've yet to brave the cold and long wait at Rockefeller Center, your local ice skating rink will certainly do the trick

Until a few weeks ago, my husband had NEVER ice skated in his life!! Inspired by Shani Davis and Apollo, our 4 year old got on the ice this year for the first time and thoroughly enjoyed it! 
Our local department of recreation even offers family free skate and $20 lessons for children. 

Nothing follows ice skating better than
Hot cocoa in a mug!

We've added a new Westchester spot to our list this year. 
Please send us your own.  We'll be more than willing to conduct a taste test:)
And don't forget Spencer's secret ingredient: a dash of cinnamon

MarieBelle Soho: The Cacao Bar
484 Broome St, between Wooster St and West Broadway
Simply divine European-style Aztec Hot Chocolate- YUMMMMMM!!!!

(Gotta love a great brand name!)
607 East Boston Post Road
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
Phone: 914.777.3600

Don't forget to add
Your Personal Touch...

A Warm Gathering...
of Family and Friends. Potluck with the girls night crew or your neighbors.  
In all the busyness of our demanding schedules make sure you make time to share joy with those you love. 
We've even turned a play date into a holiday experience.  This Sunday 12/19 Brooke will be meeting up with her BFF at Lola's Tea House to decorate a ginger bread house.

Your special holiday dish
Ask my husband, the kids, their pediatrition (even her husband and staff put in their requests) and teachers... 
I only whip them up for the holidays which makes them an extra special treat! 
I'm also known for my Gingerbread Waffles (thanks Rachel Ray). 
 Share you speciality with the Chocolate Chip family:)

and finally but FOREMOST...

The Reason for the Season

Celebrate the birth of Christ with
Christian Culture Center's
Creative Arts Department Anuual Christmas Production
12020 Flatlands Avenue
Brooklyn, NY
Wednesday 12/22 and Thurs 12/23

Whatever you do make this blessed and joyous holiday season an extra special one for you and your family.

From our family to yours,

Merry Christmas!!!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Gift of Reading- Great Childrens Books for the Holiday

I'm excited to share this book with you written by The Play Groop, a collective of moms.  I must disclose that many of the authors are Alpha Kappa Alpha members and Jack & Jill mothers, so  I am especially proud and applaud them on their inaugural effort, Trying My Best to Be Good! 

It is a sweet story about a little girl trying her best to be good as she counts down the 5 days before Christmas.  It is when we're trying our hardest, that test and temptation come knocking.  And so it is for this little girl.

We LOVE the David series by David Shannon and It's Christmas David! is no exception.  We often substitute our son's name because he can be equally as mischievous:) 

As usual David is getting into all sorts of stuff...sneak peaking at Christmas gifts, eyeing the Christmas cookies too closely, and  running down the street bucked naked (as the late great Robin Harris would say) as only classic David would do.

A delightful holiday read for the little boys in your life.  Check out the entire series. No David! and David Gets In Trouble are among our 4 year old's favorite books. 

'Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters' by President Barack Obama "celebrates the characteristics that unite all Americans - the potential to pursue our dreams and forge our own paths."

"Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters" is a tribute to 13 groundbreaking Americans, from the first president, George Washington, to baseball great Jackie Robinson to artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

The president will donate any author proceeds to "a scholarship fund for the children of fallen and disabled soldiers serving our nation,"

Excerpts from Washington Post:
Purchase it on Amazon:

Lastly, I've decided to add the Sugar Plum Ballerina series by Whoopi Goldberg to my Christmas shopping list.  We've been so focused on Judy Moody, Ramona and Wimpy Kid lately, that I'm hungry to sprinkle some color into the mix. 

#1: Plum Fantastic
#3: Perfectly Prima

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Something for the Dads!!

7 Moves That Will Make You a Better Dad

Found this article on MSN today and had to share it with all the Chocolate Chip dads.

After you read the article, check out The Fatherhood Initiative They are doing incredible work supporting dads.  You've probably seen their psa (my favorite) while pumping know the one of the dad jumping rope with his daughter and her friends.  Priceless!

We hope it makes a difference for your family.  Make sure you play it forward by sharing and passing our link onto another dad:)

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Nutcracker- Purchase College Conservatory of Dance 12/3-12/5

You may recall from Chocolate Chip's Guide to the Holidays that we have a family tradition of seeing a performance of The Nutcracker annually during the Christmas season.  This year is extra special for us because our daughter is performing in Purchase College Conservatory of Dance production of The Nutcracker which premieres this week!

Consider this an open invitation to our Chocolate Chip family to join us if you're looking for a special treat to jumpstart the holiday season.

I am proud to share that through a generous angel donation, the 2nd grade class of Pennington School was in the house today for the school performance cheering on their class mate.  What a wonderful way to expose children to the arts.  It has been an incredible learning experience not only for the young patrons, but also for the over 200 community children involved in the production.

Public Performances are as follows:
Friday 12/3 @ 7:15pm*, Saturday 12/4 @ 2:00pm and 7:00pm and Sunday 12/5 1:00pm and 5:00pm*.  Purchase tickets online or call the box office at 914-251-6200.

Special shout out to Jack & Jill girls Kiersten Hardy and Chloe Edwards who are Angels in the production.

Hope to see you there!


* Brooke's performances

Friday, November 12, 2010

Little Diva Tea Party featuring LaChanze!

Chocolate Chip
Proudly Presents
A Little Diva Party
featuring Tony Award Winner & Author

Sunday, November 21, 2010
Lola's Tea House
130 Fifth Avenue
Pelham, NY

Price: $22.00 per child 
Reservation Required.  Space is limited
RSVP: 914-738-2100

Join us as LaChanze presents her debut children's book, Little Diva,
a story about a day in the life of Nena,
a little girl with BIG Broadway dreams...

Includes story book reading, book signing, lunch, a diva decorating activity and a special musical performance.

Little Diva will be available onsite for purchase. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Fashion for Your Chocolate Chip

Our series featuring my favorite style makers and our salute to "mom"preneurs collide with this special post.  

Chocolate Chip called on Pamela Watson, celebrity stylist and creative director of Brycewear (a children's collection named after her 7 year old son) to give us the run down on what's hot for fall for our kids.

When we reached out to Pamela we envisioned featuring her as a guest blogger, giving her free reign to publish a piece with pics galore of new looks.  When she challenged us to a video shoot, we had to step up our game.

So with camera in hand, off to H&M White Plains we went to shoot our first fall fashion segment.  We enlisted the help of film maker/director, Mia Moody and during post-production blended in the sultry sounds of music producer (and yes Chocolate Chip co-founder) Spencer Bellamy to bring you.....

More with Pamela Watson
Fall Fashion for Your Chocolate Chip

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Co Founder to Appear on the Nate Show 10/12/10

Tune in to watch Chocolate Chip Co-Founder Jasmine Bellamy on
The Nate Berkus Show on Tuesday October 12, 2010
NBC, 3pm EST (NY Metro)

Click on the link below to check out the preview of the segment

Hair and make up credit: Kiam Barrese, Backstage Beauty and Cosmetix

Friday, October 8, 2010

CJ by Cookie Johnson- Post Event Follow Up

Check out Chocolate Chip Co-Founder, Jasmine Bellamy at Brunch with Bevy in honor of Cookie Johnson at Neiman Marcus Westchester.  The moms were looking fierce and FABULOUS!!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Empowering our Kids...featuring Kadence LLC.

Our kids are under great pressure when they leave our presence. Whether we're protecting them against bullying or navigating the complicated issues of race or just a little teasing, it's critical that we give our children the tools to stand strong against outside influences.  This post is all about EMPOWERMENT

When my daughter was concerned that a classmate would tease her about wearing afro puffs, we armed her with an empowering response "I love my pom poms and they look good on me".  When she lost her 2 front teeth and was concerned about being called snaggle tooth from family and friends, she adopted the rebuttal "I love my smile and I look beautiful".  Its just enough to get her pass an uncomfortable situation while ensuring that she feels good about herself.

Chocolate Chip is pleased to present empowerment coach Karen St. Hilaire of Kadence, LLC.  She inspires us daily with her Kadence Sips, but here is some advice especially for the Chocolate Chip children.

Kadence Empowerment for Kids

Every time your child turns on the television to watch their favorite show, a new impression gets fixed on their brain. These impressions manifest in the area of speech, attitude, manners and even sleep patterns. The average 8-18 year old watches 4.29 hours of television per day. And within that number, 8-10 year olds watch 2.26 hours of television per day. That is an enormous amount of time for your child to be influenced by the media.

As a parent, you empower yourself daily in order to be the best mom/dad that you can be to your child. It is with the same energy that you should encourage your child to be the best ‘me’ that they can be even when you are not next to them. You should not leave empowerment and self love lessons to cartoons and tween shows. They may impress values that may be totally different from yours and you may not be able to undo the wrongs of the matrix.

Teach your children the following:

Self Love

Say your name with authority. At this stage of your life, your name is all that you have going for you. You may be great at basketball, but you will be ‘Marcus’, who is great at basketball.

“The color of my skin is beautiful.” We are all different shades but you were wonderfully made for a specific reason.

“I love the texture of my hair.” Kinky, straight, stringy, short or long. Love your hair and always make sure that you comb it because it’s the crown that you wear every day.

“I love the way my teeth are shaped.” Love your features; love how your face looks, the size of your nose. Love it all. They’re yours.

“I love the way mommy and daddy smile at me.” Mom and dad are your biggest cheerleaders so know that they will cheer for you when you win or lose.

“Mommy and Daddy tell me that they love me just as I am.” They said that I am one of a kind and that means that there is no one else like me.

Teaching your child ‘Self Love’ at an early age will help you during the teen years when peer pressure, media and society become influential. A child with a strong foundation will be ready to lead the world.

Karen St. Hilaire is the founder of Kadence, LLC.a social empowerment practice that encourages young women and men to achieve maximum success in their personal and professional endeavors.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Something Special for the Moms with Curves...Cookie Johnson @ Neiman Marcus 9/25/10

Neiman Marcus


invites you and a friend

to meet special guest

Cookie Johnson

co-owner and creator of


the premium denim

collection for curvy women with

an eye for style

Saturday, September 25

1:30 – 3:30pm


Level Two

2 East Maple Avenue

White Plains, NY 10601

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

4 Days to the Independent School Recruitment Event- VIDEO Post

Chocolate Chip and RIISE are SO excited about our Fall Boutique Recruitment Event coming up on Sunday 9/26/10 at 3pm at Heimbold Visual Arts Center on the campus of Sarah Lawrence College.  This is a unique diversity initiative that you won't want to miss!

We have 10 confirmed Independent schools participating from Northern Manhattan to lower Connecticut recruiting grades K-12 (see list below) and they are coming specifically to speak to YOU!

So what's on the agenda for the day??  Click on the link to this special video post or view it in our new video bar... 

Whether you have no idea what makes an Independent School education valuable or your child will be applying this fall or in the near future- this event is for YOU.  Don't miss this unique opportunity to forge relationships and create strong memorable first impressions with the admissions staff of your school of interest.  Spread the word!

You don't have to leave the kids at home. Child care will be available on site so the kiddies will be entertained during the panel discussion:)

Presenting Sponsor

Riverdale Country School

Supporting Sponsor

Hackley School

Participating School Sponsors

Brunswick School

The Rye Country Day School

The School of the Holy Child

Participating Schools

Convent of the Sacred Heart

The Calhoun School

Ethical Culture Fieldston School

The Greenwich Country Day School

The Waterside School

3pm – A Discussion: What makes an Independent School Education so valuable?

4pm – School Mix & Mingle

5:45pm – Closing Remarks



Media Sponsor

Diversity Prep Magazine

Food & Beverage Sponsor

Village Pediatric Group

Community Sponsors

African American Men of Westchester

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, Omicron Eta Chapter

Greater Centennial Church

LAC Enterprises, LLC

Vibrant Health

Friday, September 17, 2010

For Colored Girls...Moms this is For You!

I have been a fan of Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf for as long as I can remember.  I danced the role of Sechita as a freshman at Syracuse (shout out to Jacqui Welch) and commissioned my sorority sisters from Brooklyn to bring their production to Westchester County several years ago (shout out to the grand diva director Tomasina Boone in the Down Under).

I also LOVE Nina Simone.  Three Women paints such a vivid portrait of the complexity of our collective stories.  Goose bumps run up my arm every time she belts out MY NAME IS PEACHES!!!!!  (Thanks Avis for sharing the gift with me.)

The combination of these two pieces of art is .....POWERFUL!  The trials, struggles, heartache, rejection and fear .....strength, beauty, resilience, tenacity and passion illustrate the depth of our pain, our aptitude to love and faith to move forward regardless of past hurts.. 

Needless to say, I am THRILLED about Tyler Perry's production (it better be good!) coming to theaters November 5th and I'm pleased to share the trailer with you!

The closing line of the choreopoem still rings clear in my head like a clarion bell.....

"I found God in myself and I loved her, I loved her fiercely".

So this is for you, beautiful Colored girl! Save the date and make it a special Girls Night Out and celebrate us, together.

Celebrate Family Tour Coming to NYC 9/21/10

Over a decade ago, my pastor led me to adopt a habit that I watched my grandmother practice during my childhood; I began listening to Christian radio.  I would wake up to catch AR Bernard's program at 6:25am on WMCA AM 570 for a little snippet of a Sunday sermon and some much needed early morning inspiration.  As it happens when you tune in, by default I began to listen to the programming that followed: Georgia preacher Charles Stanley at 7am and Dr. James Dobson's Colorado Springs based Focus on the Family at 7:30am which in many ways inspired the birth of Chocolate Chip. 

Solidified by an incredible infrastructure and tremendous depth of programming, Focus on the Family is a massive organization with significant political influence.  They galvanize the right to raise their voices against public policy that are not aligned with their values.  I learned ALOT.  Although I was often blessed by the practical yet powerful testimonies, it was necessary to filter through the ultra conservative views to gain the nuggets and insights on the practical and spiritual development of our families. 

Well Focus on the Family is coming to NYC with their Celebrate Family tour on Tuesday September 21, 2010 at the Hammerstein Ballroom at 7pm.  Admission is free.

Over time I stopped listening because of the demands of busy morning, but recently began tuning in by clicking in to the live feed online.  I must admit, I was led to the Celebrate Family tour announcement by an online ad featuring a lovely African American family strategically placed during Pastor Bernard's show (the incredible power of marketing).  The fact is we'll probably be in very small number, but if my experience over the past 10 years is evidence, attending will be well worth it.  Check it out.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Brooke Zone- volume 2

So school is in full swing already and it's only been 1 week!  Summer vacation feels so far away. 

In June Chocolate Chip featured a post on Apple Camp.

If you "like" us on facebook, you know that we enrolled our daughter and took advantage of this FREE and unique opportunity to learn how to make your own film with I Movie.

Well, we're pleased to present another installment of The Brooke Zone.......with the Chocolate Chip premiere of  The Fishing Trip starring Brooke with cameos of Ryan and Pop Pop!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Rememberance, Part 2....9/11/01

From the Chocolate Chip Archives.....

I wrote this post last year and began to cry all over again as I re-read it today.

No need to re-write what's already been written....

All I can add is....

Thinking of those we lost and praying for those left behind to mourn and remember....

You know who you are...I Love You!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday Back to School Mashup: Independent School Recruitment Event, The Momtographers and more...

Hope the back to school season is off to a great success!  We've been busy editing our Back to School/Fall Fashion video segment that will be coming your way next week!  Stay tuned....

Until then, here are a few of our favs that put FAMILIES FIRST!  We think you'll like them too:)

Don't forget to mark your calendars for The Fall Boutique Recruitment Event: An Intimate Discussion with Parents and Independent Schools presented by Chocolate Chip and RIISE on 9/26 3pm at Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY  Spread the word.  This is an important event as we continue our mission to provide an EXCELLENT education for our children.

Great Schools: Involved Parents. Successful Kids.
For ratings on public and private schools, parent reviews, school comparisons and informative articles such as "The Science of Great Teaching", Great Schools is your source. 

The Momtographers: The Online Home for Moms Serious About Their Snap
I had the privilege of enjoying a spa day recently with co-owner Krista Njapa.  This site is AWESOME because it's all about family pictures...only better.  The Momtographers serves up the tools and inspiration (the pics are fantastic) to help every novice improve their shot.  Maybe your next photo will be selected as Kristia's Monday Munchkin:)

Mommy Poppins:  Get More out of NY with Kids
Chocolate Chip mom Rahesha Harrison put me on to this site.  Great calendar of events across NY.

Enjoy the weekend with the family!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Your Personal Stylist....Meet Monica Diaz

With such busy and complex lives as mothers, wives, community leaders, career women and entreprenuers its a wonder we don't LOSE OUR MINDS!!  The speed in which we move would make anyone dizzy.  Armed with Blackberries, IPhones and IPads we have MASTERED the art of managing multiples schedules for multiple people.  We are the PERSONIFICATION of MULTI-TASKING! 

With all that we manage, it can be a challenge to find the time to take care of ourselves, but we MUST!  There will always be demands on our schedules...deadlines looming, children to drop off at activities, meals to cook...or not, households to manage, meetings to attend and work to be done. But we must put numero uno on the top of our TO DO LISTS. 

Keeping ourselves "together" is CRITICAL not only for our public faces, but most importantly for our own emotional well being.  We DESERVE to feel good about ourselves. 

I am BLESSED to be surrounded by some incredibly CREATIVE people who bring their own definition to the word: STYLE.  Over the next few posts I will feature their work to inspire us to take a moment to reflect on our INNER and OUTER beauty.

First up on deck.....Monica Diaz!

Not only is Monica an incredible stylist and knowlegeable professor and consultant of Fashion, she's also an author!  I'm so proud of her it makes me tingle:)

Here's a description of her new book, 7 Days To Style:

"In 7 Days To Style personal stylist Monica Diaz guides you through the process of defining your authentic style. Each day holds a new fun discovery. You will learn how to better express and define your style by assessing who you are and how others see you. Clean your closet and organize your wardrobe in a couple of easy steps. Define your shape and learn the colors and clothing styles that work best for you. Shop with a focused list for what you really need. At the end of these 7 days you will be a more confident and stylish You."

We all know how CRUCIAL it is that we look the part.  But you're really FIERCE when your look reflects your authentic self.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

RIISE & Chocolate Chip Present A Fall Boutique Recruitment Event

Let's face it, selecting an educational institution is one of the toughest decisions we will make for our children.  We go on tours and network with other parents to find what we hope will be the perfect choice.  We look for answers to questions like...

How is the school performing?  Does the school have a strong reputation for academics?  Are the teachers using up to date methodologies?  Will my child fit in?  Will he/she be treated fairly?  Will he/she be challenged?  Will this school prepare him/her for a bright future and help shape them into a well-rounded intellectual?

I've spoken with so many STRESSED out parents, overwhelmed and almost paralyzed by the pressure of making THE best decision for their child(ren)'s academic future.

As a parent considering Independent Schools for my own children, I am excited to share this unique opportunity with you to hear directly from administrators, parents and students about what makes Independent School education so valuable.

Is it right for your child? Come see for yourself.

Chocolate Chip & RIISE
Resources in Independent School Education

A Fall Boutique Recruitment Event:
An Intimate Discussion Between Families and Independent Schools

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sarah Lawrence College

Heimbolt Visual Arts Center
Bronxville, NY

Presenting Sponsor
Riverdale Country School

Participating School Sponsors
Brunswick School
Rye Country Day School

Participating Schools
The Calhoun School
Greenwich Country Day School
The Waterside School
And more to come....    

Special thanks to our Community Sponsors:
LAC Enterprises, LLC
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc
Omicron Eta Chapter
Vibrant Health

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Calling all Beautiful Ballerinas......Audition for Dance Theatre of Harlem

The American cultural institution, Dance Theatre of Harlem, is having open auditions Saturday, August 21, 2010 for their
Community (Saturday) and Pre-Professional (after school) Programs:

ages 3 to 6: 10:00am-11:00am
ages 7- 9: 11:00am-12:00pm
ages 10-14: 12:00pm-1:00pm
ages 15-18: 1:00pm-2:30pm

Dance Theatre of Harlem
Everett Center for The Performing Arts
466 West 152 Street (between Amsterdam and Convent Avenues)
New York, NY 10031

Tuition Assistance is available, along with a limited number of Scholarships.
For more information, call (212) 690-2800.

Leotard/tights and ballet slippers or t-shirts/shorts/socks.
No jewelry, skirts, or extra warmers. Hair should be neatly pulled back and secured.

Arrive 30 minutes prior to the audition.
Young ladies already on pointe bring both pointe and soft ballet shoes.

See link below for details:

Also check out Beautiful Ballerina featuring the young dancers of Dance Theatre of Harlem.  It's the perfect book for your beautiful ballerina.

Special Shout out to DTH ambassadors Michael Armstrong, Lori Hall Armstrong and Theresa Kump Leghorn!!!

Stay tuned to Chocolate Chip for details on a FREE Dance Theatre of Harlem performance coming in the Fall and the exhibit Harlem? Harlem! 1969-2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How to Make the Most of 11th Grade

This is a post that you'll want to print out, save and share with anyone you know that has a child in high school, especially 11th grade. 

Chocolate Chip is honored to have Admission Director, Karen Abigail Williams as a guest blogger sharing her insight and perspective on maximizing the junior year of high school. 

Making the Most of 11th Grade:

Tips for Helping Students Reduce the Pressure of Senior Year by Planning ahead in Junior Year

By Karen A. Williams

August 10, 2010

As summer comes to a close for students around the country, this is a perfect opportunity to begin thinking about and (planning for) the “tipping point” of high school- junior year. Traditionally, students and their families waited until 12th grade to go into full planning mode around the college process. Today, more and more families are beginning to realize that the12th grade is too fast paced and high pressured to spend much time thinking. Senior year is the time for action. Junior year is the time for thinking.

Take advantage of the following tips so that the 11th grade can be the period of preparation before the launch. The time you spend planning as a junior can ensure that you will sail smoothly through senior year.

1. Get serious about your studies
As a Director of Admission, most of my colleagues will tell you that we like to see more A’s and B’s on the transcript than C’s and D’s. Take as many challenging classes as you’d like but be sure of your ability to do well in them. Register for a rigorous academic schedule and do your very best to score as many good grades as possible. If you can handle it, consider signing up for advanced classes. Admission officers don’t expect you to take more than 1 or 2 as a high school junior.

2. Take the SAT or ACT at least once for practice but do not have the scores sent to any colleges.
This process will allow you to take the test under regular test conditions without the pressure of having someone see the scores. Use your scores as the basis for improvement while you study or hire a tutor to for test prep.

3. Commit to a sport (or instrument) if you haven’t already.
Generally, admission officers aren’t impressed by the students who are a “Jacks of all trades, masters of none.” If you run track fairly well but you’re great at volleyball, drop track and focus on becoming excellent at volleyball.

4. Commit to regular community service or an extracurricular activity or get a job.
Do something with your lives besides studying. Admission officers want to admit interesting and well rounded students.

5. Begin thinking about the kind of college you'd like to attend and add yourself to mailing lists.
Take this time to consider the following:

Location: do you want to live at home or could you live an hour or two away? Can you go across the country, and if so, can you afford to get home quickly when you're homesick?

Size: do like small classes or are you just fine in large lecture halls?

Style of the college: do you need to have close personal relationships with your professors or would you prefer to blend in among your other classmates? Do you want to pledge a fraternity or sorority? Do you play sports? Are you interested in an HBCU?

Consider your school types carefully as there are major differences between large state institutions, ivy league schools and small liberal arts institutions.

And finally, here are a few tips for parents so that the whole family can make the most of this year:

1. Initiate conversations about the process of choosing college but don't force it.
Let your child guide the discussion. Every child is at varying stage of readiness in the 11th grade. Inaction or procrastination in 11th grade isn’t a huge deal but juniors shouldn’t waste the year being so disengaged that they end up under pressure (with nothing accomplished) in 12th grade. Severe procrastination about the college planning process could be a sign of fear and anxiety about moving on.

2. Don't connect every mistake they make to their chances of getting into college
Kids make mistakes. Sometimes, kids make really stupid mistakes. In the admissions field, we’ve seen them all. Don’t panic. Colleges consider grades, courses, and activities over the four year period of high school but we focus most on 11th and 12 grade. If you child gets a C or D or experiences disciplinary action in school, sit down with them, understand the issue, and rectify it- quickly. Also, be prepared to explain it during the college admission process.

If your child is consistently late for school or received detention in the 9th grade, don’t sweat it. We'll never know.

3. Stop waking them up in the morning, doing their laundry, and making their beds immediately.
No one at the college will do it for them.

The best way to prepare your children for this new phase of life is to help them become self-sufficient. Support them as they make their own phone calls, secure their own applications, and write their own essays. Helping them is fine. Hovering over them makes you a “helicopter parent” and this is our greatest pet peeve as admission officers.

4. Finally, lead by example. Don't allow this process (or your child) to make you crazy.
Your child will be fine wherever they attend college.

President Barack Obama may have attended Harvard and Columbia but successful people attend all kinds of colleges. General Colin Powell attended City College, Oprah Winfrey attended Tennessee State University, and Drs. Bill and Camille Cosby earned their doctorates from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Remain open to the possibilities. Don’t use junior year to program your child into loving the school that you love.

With your guidance and support, they will achieve every goal they set their minds to. In the meantime, let’s make junior year as pain-free and enjoyable as possible.

Karen Abigail Williams is the Director of Admission at a highly selective liberal arts college in New York City. She specializes in college admission counseling, the first year experience and retention issues among at-risk and first generation students. Karen is completing her doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration at Northeastern University and is a married mother of two, a son age 12 and a 16 year- old daughter, who will become a high school junior in the fall.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Purchase Dance Corps Nutcracker Auditions: Dancers 5-13 yrs old

One of the moms at Brooke's dancing school Rooftop Rhythms told me about this exciting opportunity for children.  Boys and girls ages 5-13 are invited to audition on Saturday, September 11 and Sunday September 12 for roles in the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance production of Nutcracker ’10.

Here are the details: 

Where: Studio E of the Dance building at Purchase College 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY.

Audition schedule:

Saturday , September 11
Group 1 (7-8 yrs old as of Sept .1, 2010)
Registration 9:15 AM
Audition 10 AM-Noon

Group 2 (9-10 yrs old as of Sept. 1, 2010)
Registration 12:30 PM
Audition 1-3 PM

Group 3 (11-13 yrs. Old as of Sept. 1, 2010)
Registration 2:45 PM
Audition 3:15-4 PM

Sunday, September 12
Group 1 (5-6 yrs old as of Sept. 1, 2010)
Children attend one of three ½ hour sessions
Registration 12:30 PM
Audition 1-3 PM

Callback audition
Registration 3 PM
Audition 3:30-4:30 PM

Children who audition should have some previous dance experience and be no taller than five feet. Dance attire or sweatpants should be worn to audition. Boys are encouraged to audition.

Rehearsals will begin October 5 and will vary from one to three rehearsals per week, depending on the role in which the children are cast.

The Purchase Dance Corps performs this traditional version of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic from November 30-December 5, 2010 on the main stage in the Performing Arts Center.  Nutcracker ’10 stars Principal Dancers with the New York City Ballet and inlcudes more than 200 area children and nearly 200 Conservatory of Dance students. Artistic director is Bettijane Sills, former New York Ballet soloist and member of the Conservatory faculty.  The Conservatory of Dance is recognized as a preeminent center for training professional dancers and choreographers.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Voices and Images of Girls by Girls

Join Girls Inc Westchester for a presentation of

"The Voices and Images of Girls by Girls"

Thursday, August 12, 2010
Hackley School, Tarrytown NY
RSVP by Monday 8/9/10 to

Chocolate Chip will be in the house and we hope you will be too!

"Inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold"
Click on the link below to learn more about Girls Inc

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Chocolate Chip TGIF Brag Wall

Hi Chocolate Chips!

The one thing that ties us all together are our children!  In most social settings it's inappropriate for us to talk about our children's accomplishments in detail or for too long. 

Not true for Chocolate Chip!  Every Friday we will open up the blog for you to brag about your childrens' accomplishments!  We want to know all about them!  So post your comments and shout outs without apology and let the world know how proud you are of your children!

I'll start....

Ryan (3): Won a 2nd place medal in soccer during Junior Olympics!!!
Brooke (6): Completed her first film, "The Fishing Trip" at Apple Camp and won 4 first place ribbons (3 of which were perfect 10's) at her first gymnsastics meet in June!!!


Go ahead!  Don't be shy.  We can't wait to hear what your children, neices, nephews, godchildren or grandchildren are up to.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Chocolate Chip Guide: 5 Things to Do Before School Starts-The NYC Edition

It's back!  You loved our Chocolate Chip Guide to the Holidays and now we're getting you through the last few weeks of summer before school starts.  These are great cultural activities that are also big FUN! Your Fav 5 didn't make the cut?  Let us know about them.  You never know they may make the 2011 edition.

1. Harlem Week
It's not summer without Harlem Week!  Here is a recap of some of the upcoming children's activities:
Saturday, August 14, 2010
NY City “Children’s Festival”
W.135th St. btwn. Malcolm X & A.C. Powell Jr. Blvds.
Featuring Excerpts from Disney musicals, games, arts & crafts, live music and dance, healthy eating and living exhibits, open houses by the Harlem YMCA, “Back to School” exhibits, sports and recreation clinics.
National Historic Black College Fair & Expo
W.135th St. (btwn. Malcolm X & A.C. Powell Jr. Blvds.)
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Kids' Night on Broadway (KNOB) and HARLEM WEEK 2010 have partnered this summer to give kids age 6-18 a chance to see a participating Broadway show for free when accompanied by a full-paying adult.
For a complete listing of activities click on the link below:

2. Arthur Ashe Kids Day
The kick off the 2010 US Open Season
Saturday August 28, 2010
9:30 am – 1 pm: Grounds Activities at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center – Free for all!
1:00 pm:  Arthur Ashe Stadium Show featuring Disney stars The Jo Bros (aka The Jonas Brothers) and Demi Lovato
Great seats for $10 & $20!
To purchase tickets click below

He's been gone since 1993 and I'm still touched by his inspiring story.  To help children ages 4-8 learn more about Arthur Ashe pick up the book written by his daughter and photographed by his wife Jean in his final days: Daddy and Me : A Photo Story of Arthur Ashe and his Daughter Camera
Brooke and I borrowed it from the library around Father's Day and it left an indelible mark on her not only as a budding African American tennis player, but most importantly as daddy's baby girl. 

For young adults and parents check out Days of Grace, a poignant autobiography chronicling the life of this amazing man, husband, father, athlete and activist!

3. Jazz for Kids
@ the Jazz Standard
116 E. 27th St., New York, NY 10016
$5, Sundays from 2-3pm
Performance by the Jazz Standard Youth Orchestra
The food at Blue Smoke is pretty good too:)

4. Family Art Project @ Wave Hill
Saturdays and Sundays 10am-1pm in the Ecology Building
West 249th Street and Independence Avenue (front gate)
Our neighbors told us about these great activities that they try to check out weekly. 
Wave Hill is a public garden and cultural center tucked away NOMA (North of Manhattan) in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.
Free admission to the grounds Saturdays until noon
Spray a Garden, Flutter with the Butterflies, Fishy Fun, Be a Bee and more to come

5. 64th Annual Shinnecock Powwow
Shinnecock Reservation
West Gate Road
Southampton, NY
Presented by Shinnecock Indian Nation
September 3 - 6, 2010
I vividly remember attending this event as a child with the E. 218th Street delegation led by Flo and Drew Suggs, my neighbors who owned their own bus company.  The Harvest celebration is an outdoor gathering on the beautiful Shinnecock Indian Reservation. Activities include music & dance performances, fire lighting at sunset, demonstrations, foods and native crafts.
Grounds open Friday: 3:00pm, Sat-Mon: 10:00am
Tickets: $12 Adults, $10 Kids, Seniors & Handicap

Monday, August 2, 2010

Public Schools Private Innovation

As a parent of a child attending a public school, I am EXCITED about this upcoming Ebony Education Roundtable to discuss the REAL issues!

In this age of cutbacks, we have to find creative solutions to ensure our children still WIN on the academic front.  Have you ever asked your child's principal what you can do to help your school?  Our schools can benefit tremendously from not only our ideas, but access to our networks and resources as well. 

When teaching assistants were eliminated from the kindergarten classrooms, my mother, a retired educator, volunteered her time.  A dad concerned by the lack of physical education at my son's school organized a brand new program for the children in partnership with the tennis club where he serves as director.

Your schedule may prevent you from serving as a class parent, but perhaps you can get your company to donate computers or even write a grant to subsidize the music/arts program (that's my goal for this year) to help make a difference in your child's school.

So tune in to catch the webcast of
Public Schools Private Innovation: Building Successful Public Schools on
August 11, 2010 6:00pm-7:30pm EST at or
view it on MSNBC on August 15, 2010 12-:00-2:00pm EST

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Work That! Great News for Working Moms

Working moms: Raise your hand if you felt guilty when you returned to work after having your baby?  

I remember those days so vividly.  I stayed home for 3 months with my daughter and 6 months with my son.  I was fortunate that my mom took care of them during the day so I could go to work with my mind at ease knowing my baby was being loved and cared for.  I used to joke: Have pump will travel, because that black Medela backpack was almost like an appendage:)  

I tried not to feel guilty.  I found comfort in knowing that the income I received allowed us  to provide a lifestyle for our family that would serve my children well for a lifetime.  I did my best to keep the big picture in perspective.

I remember a colleague being so overwhelmed with guilt from leaving her little one at home while she commuted into the city to work everyday.  My heart ached for her.  How could such a noble thing like industry feel like the ultimate betrayal?    

The new study, "First-Year Maternal Employment and Child Development in the First 7 Years" may bring hope and much needed stress relief to working moms!  The results indicate that the positives (higher income, greater "maternal sensitivity" or responsiveness toward their children) related to moms working out of the home full-time outweigh the negatives (somewhat lower cognitive test scores) which is positive news for both mom and baby.

See link below to the Washington Post article forwarded by Chocolate Chip fan KG.  Thanks for sharing!

What do you think about the study and its results?  Stay at home moms, we want you to weigh in on this topic too.  What are the pros and cons of being a working mother?  We look forward to hearing from you...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Get Swabbed!! Shannon Needs our HELP!!

We came together and saved Jennifer Jones Austin, now Shannon needs our help!

Shannon is a talented pre-teen who was blessed to audition for The Lion King and land the role as Young Nala. This past spring, Shannon was diagnosed with Leukemia and now she is fighting for her life.

Chocolate Chip family you know the drill. You, your family and friends can help Shannon by getting swabbed to determine if you are a match to donate bone marrow. As you know African-Americans are under-represented on the bone marrow registry which makes it difficult to find a match when our people are stricken with this deadly disease. If your bone marrow can't help Shannon, it might help save someone else's life. So GET SWABBED TODAY and help save Shannon! To find out more about joining the registry check out this link:

Click below to see Shannon's story in her own words.

In memory of Mia Blanco Gatling
Wife- Mother-Friend

Is Your Child a Triple Threat??

Disney is having auditions this Saturday, July 10, 2010 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for the roles of Simba and Nala. If your child is 9-12 years old and can sing, dance and act, they have a shot. Previous stage experience is not required.

Check out the link below for details.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More...with Pamela Watson- VOTE for Chocolate Chip Mompreneur

Chocolate Chip is Proud to Announce.....

Celebrity fashion stylist, Kidswear Designer, Wife and Mompreneur

Pamela Watson

is competing for

Your OWN Show
Oprah's Search for the Next TV Star

with the debut of

More...with Pamela Watson

Check out Pamela's 3 minute spot, spread the word and VOTE often!