Saturday, December 10, 2011

The 2011 Chocolate Chip Guide to Christmas

Welcome to the Chocolate Chip Guide to Christmas 2011....

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?  Now even my 7 year old even joins in!
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 and sing all the songs with the children.

New addition to our 2011 guide..."It's a Wonderful Life" The timeless classic starring Jimmy Stewart helps us to reassess what's truly important in life.  You can usually catch it on Christmas Eve.

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!  So excited to be taking my 7 year old ballerina for the first time this year. 

At least one tear (who am I kidding, MANY) will find its way down my cheek as I watch mesmerized 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 1, 2012. You won't regret it.

The Nutcracker Ballet

Whether you see the NYC Ballet perform George Balachine's The Nutcracker (I promise to treat myself in 2012) (thru December 31st) 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.

Special Events...

The 20th Anniversary Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Gardens

Thru Jan 9, 2012 up in the Bronx where the people are fresh...(my hometown).  Check out what is without a doubt the BEST way to see NYC!

March of The Wooden Soldiers

As performed by the Rockettes at the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City thru January 2, 2012
Ah this brings back such fond memories of my high school years....Shout out to Cardinal Spellman's Flag Corps who perform it annually

And the traditional NYC spots....

The Tree at Rockefeller Center

Check out the tree and watch the skaters and while you're there watch the Christmas Light Show across the street that beams off of the facade of Saks Fifth Avenue.
Although we've yet to brave the cold and long wait at Rockefeller Center, your local ice skating rink will certainly do the trick.  We're particularly impressed with World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows Cororna Park

Nothing follows ice skating better than...

Hot cocoa in a mug!

For 2011 we've added a new Westchester spot to our fav list.

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!!!!

Cocoa Chocolate Shop
2107A Boston Post Road
Larchmont, NY 10538
Phone: 914.834.6464

Check out Mommy Poppins Ultimate NYC Hot Chocolate Crawl for other spots throughout the city

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

A warm gathering of family and friends. Potluck with the girls night out crew or your neighbors. In all the "busy"ness of our demanding schedules make sure you make time to share joy with those you love.

Your signature holiday dish
Like my Aunt Nora's cookies!  Mine is CHEESECAKE!! Ask my husband, the kids, their pediatrician (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

Join our church family.  Your invitation is open and endless!
Christian Cultural Center
12020 Flatlands Avenue Brooklyn, NY

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!!!!!! 
Prospero ano y felicidad! 
Wishing you prosperity and happiness in the New Year!

THE FINAL STRETCH: The Private School Application Process

I know that we're not alone as we prepare for the final stages of the admission process for independent schools for the 2012-13 academic year.  The recruitment events, open houses and informational sessions have ended.  The applications have been/are being submitted.  Parent interviews are being conducted. Student visits scheduled and entrance exams are being administered.  It can be a daunting and demanding process but it's one of the journeys many parents take on their quest for academic excellence for their children. 

With the admissions deadlines quickly approaching, I reached out to our friend, Gina Parker Collins, Founder of RIISE- Resources in Independent School Education to get some last minute words of wisdom for parents in the final stretch.

Indeed, we are approaching the holiday season wrought with festivities, pageantry, gift wrapping, and gift giving. It is a race to the finish struggling to be mindful of the value of family and the time we spend together.

Some families have a competing race at this time of year, the private school application process. Some have crossed the finish line and completed the process, while others are still looking and hoping for opportunities to find the right school that's still looking for great candidates.

Here are a few things to keep top of mind:

* If you've completed the process then take a breather and enjoy the holidays. But, if you have not sent a thank you note send one, then take a breather!

*The interview. What should you expect?  What does the admissions team want to know? What are they looking for? Remember you are in the driver's seat too, so ask thoughtful questions. The Admission team wants to like you. They also want to know that your family will contribute your time, talents or both. As for your child, let them know they have the stage, the spotlight, the chance to share what they know and love.

*Search out current families in your close and distant circles for insight on the culture of the school community to make sure that what you love about school really exists.

*Make sure your first choice school knows they are number one. Beware!  Be honest about your first choice.  There can only be one!

*Work on a Plan B. It is very important to have a strategy for attending the best possible school if your child doesn't get accepted to any of your choices. There are good charters and public schools out there but you have to do the research. Let’s Talk Schools  is a great online community to check out.

*Be prepared financially. Financial aid or not, tuition is a fiscal responsibility, for a long time. Think of it, do the math.  If you have applied for support pray you get what you need (you’ll know when you get acceptance letter). If you don't, please don’t give up, I have seen success in the appeal process.

*Lastly, if you are not accepting the offer of placement please notify the school immediately with a thank you note so they can offer the space and financial support to another family.

Perhaps you are a family just starting to consider private independent schools, it is never too early to start looking. Ask around and visit school websites. Begin to think about your values and personalities as a family and match them up with schools mission. Think about what your families return on investment should, or can be. The spring is a great time to begin to make appointments to casually tour campuses. Organizations like Prep for Prep, Oliver Scholars , and Reach are great prep programs for the older kids, and Early Steps for the younger. Make sure to visit us often at RIISE, and check out Family Voices blogs, RIISE spotlights, Workshops & Events, from a parent of color’s perspective on independent schools.

Happy Holidays & Phenomenal New Year Chocolate Chip!

Gina Parker Collins


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2nd Annual Independent School Recruitiment Event- 10/16/11

With the 2011-12 school year in full swing, the 2012-13 admissions cycle for Independent Schools is just beginning.  It's the perfect time for the 2nd Annual Fall Boutique Recruitment Event (FBRE) hosted by Resources in Independent School Education (RIISE).  Chocolate Chip is proud to serve as this year's social media sponsor. 

As a parent who personally will be diving into the application process this fall (be sure to follow our journey over the next few months), I can't emphasize enough how important it is to tool up for the road ahead by attending this event.  This is the perfect opportunity to speak one-on-one with admissions staff, alumni/current students and parents from multiple schools under one roof.  Last year's panel discussion was SO informative and I'm confident this year will take us to another level.  Attendees really get a unique opportunity to consider the value of an independent school education, learn the ins and outs of the admissions process, discuss the financial commitment, gain insight into the philosophy of the various schools and how best to position your child in a competitive process.

Plan to spend your afternoon this Sunday 10/16/11 on the campus of Sarah Lawrence with RIISE and a host of Independent Schools from Riverdale to Connecticut.  Reserve your seat today!  Check out the link below for details.

From the Chocolate Chip Archives....filmed in 2010 prior to the 1st Annual FBRE, this video blog with RIISE CEO/Founder Gina Parker Collins explores the value of independent school education and why it might be the right choice for your family.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Who Runs the World....GIRLS!

The girls of JG3 at Mount Tom Day Camp danced to Beyonce's "Run the World (Girls)" in yesterday's talent show, so the song has been pumping through my iPad the last few days.  I've even learned a few of the steps so Brooke and I both get a kick out of dancing together!  Luckily my 7yr old doesn't understand what "who runs this mutha" means so we're all good....but I digress. made me think back to Jada Pinkett Smith's book Girls Hold Up This World.  As a new first time mom to a little girl, I remember tearing up on first sight of the cover displayed in the front window of the bookstore as I strolled by.  The picture of Jada and a young Willow (we should've known then that she'd be whipping her hair less than a decade later) pierced straight through my heart.  I rushed in and immediately purchased it and it quickly became apart of our bedtime routine.  A photo book depicting girls across the world in all ages and stages coupled with an empowerimg message throughout makes it one of those books that should be in the library of every mom with a girl.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I AM a Pretty Brown Girl!

What a BEAUTIFUL family!  Chocolate Chip is where family comes FIRST!  Since we CONNECT INSPIRE and TRANSFORM families, we are THRILLED to introduce the Chocolate Chip family to..

Pretty Brown Girl

Founded by Sheri Crawley, "Pretty Brown Girl’s (PBG) mission is to empower girls to love themselves and encourage cultural awareness."  What I love most about PBG is the pledge, which our 7 year old Brooke proudly recited along with her 11 year old cousin, Kailiah.  The PBG pledge aims "to encourage confidence, inspire dreams and empower from within."

  While you're there don't forget to stop by the shop.  Just in time for September, pick up / Pretty Brown Girl-My First Day of School by Sheri Crawley

 for the newly minted kindergartner.  Your special little girl can rock out in a PBG t-shirt or the Pink Chiffon Pettiskirt with Brown Ruffled Layers if you have a budding fashionista on your hands like me:)

Become a part of the MOVEMENT!  Share the pledge with every pretty, brown girl you know!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Girls Inc Westchester- Power of the Purse

Save the Date: 
October 5, 2011

Girls Inc Westchester's inaugural gala, Power of the Purse, will take place on Wednesday, October 5, 2011 at 6:30pm at LIFE: The Place to Be in Ardsley, NY.  "This high-fashion fundraising fete will encourage guests to invest in the next generation of women leaders by supporting Girls Inc. programs that develop economic literacy and financial independence for Westchester County girls."

Click on link below for more details.

For more information on Girls Inc.’s ‘Power of the Purse’ gala, contact Barbara Weinstein at Girls Inc. at (914) 419-0764 or visit  Spread the word and be sure you tell them you read about it on Chocolate Chip:)

Disclosure: Jasmine Bellamy is a member of the Power of the Purse Committe, Girls Inc. Westchester

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father's Day Serenade....

Happy Father's Day to all the Chocolate Chip dads! Here's a special double feature salute just for you!

We celebrate you for who you are and for the central role you play in our families. Whether you're administering tough love,wrapped around someone's finger or somewhere in between, our lives are brighter because you are in them. You protect us from the storms of life and you pick us up when we fall down.

We love you and honor you especially today! Thanks for being DAD!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Apple Camp 2011

Apple camp is back and movie making with the Mac and iPad is on the agenda.

Last year Brooke and I participated and had a BLAST!  Check out her movie, The Fishing Trip!

Here's the link to register your child for Apple Camp 2011

Let us know if your child participate and we'll be glad to host the internet premiere of their original film!

Looking forward to seeing the creations of all our budding film makers!


Do You Know What Today Is?

It's our anniversary......Tony Toni Tone

On June 15, 1996 in the church that I attended since I was 5 years old, there was a loud gong of the church bell and the procession began to my new life with my husband, Spencer.  In that moment to clear the jitters, my dad quietly whispered, "if you cry, I'll punch you in the face".  Laughter emerged and the festivities commenced. 

"This day I marry my friend, the one I live for laugh with dream with love."  What a day it was!  My aces: Karen, Elise Tina , Seana and Esi stood by my side and my sorority sister Natalie blessed us with the most beautiful praise dance that symbolized our commitment.  Then the party began!  Let me paint one of my most memorable moments from the reception...after the band finished it's set, the dj, my high school friend Clemont, spins our favorite songs on the wheels of steel, including my new husband's single "Tried by 12".  All of a sudden you hear the hypnotizing beat of "The Big Payback" accompanied by Total, "Can't you see what you mean to me our love was meant to be you were made for me..."Spencer and I dance across the room to the middle of the floor and rock out in a way that would make Diddy proud.

15 years and 2 children later what a journey it has been.  I've learned and grown so much over the years...While we enjoyed the day, designing a life together has been where the rubber meets the road. 

So what are the secrets of our success?  Glad you asked....

Our faith...1 year after we walked down the aisle, I walked down to the platform at Christian Life Center and submitted my life to Christ.  While I grew up in the Catholic Church, my spirit was drawn that day and my life was changed.  So much wisdom I've gained through my pastor A.R. Bernard and his lovely wife Karen.  Married over 30 years, they have generously shared the truth of what marriage is all about.  The joys and it's sorrows, its triumphs and obstacles.  To paraphrase, marriage is the one relationship where we are vulnerable because we grow right in front of someone else.  Ain't that the truth!  When we needed wise counsel, Minister Onorio was there to guide us back to each other when we seemed so far away.

Our support network...Surround yourself by positive people who support marriage.  Our family and close friends have truly stood by our side through the years.  It's so good to have a counselor in the family!  My sister Karen and my brother-in-law married 18 years have shared some timeless truths and helped me sort through things when they felt overwhelming.

Watch your tongue.  Speak only in truth and love.  Use your words to build up, not tear down.  You can't take back what you say so use your words wisely.  After 15 years, communication is one of our biggest challenges but our commitment to working at will only make it better.

After God, keep your marriage first- don't let parenting or the busyness of life take you away from your first love.  Schedule regular date nights to make sure you stay connected.

It's been a wonderful journey and I'm looking forward to our silver 25th anniversary when our children will be old enough to celebrate us:)  Black love truly reigns supreme!  Believe it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Semi-Happy Marriage

As we get ready to celebrate 15 years of marriage next month, I found this interview (see link below) with  Pamela Haag, author of Marriage Confidential, quite intriguing and had to stop everything to share it with you.  I love it when I receive leads from our Chocolate Chip family so keep them coming!  Thanks Cyril for sharing!   

Raising children, balancing career and family and managing all our other responsibilities and interests are a huge challenge.  With the troubling economic environment and the pressure to keep it all together, it's easy to focus less on our marital relationship while managing the other storms and challenges in our lives.  Even in those season we have to come back to ensure we don't take advantage of our spouses and become complacent in our marriages.  We all deserve more than that. 

Pamela Haag is quite courageous to write on such a private and sensitive subject which really challenges all of us to raise the bar and give our best in our marriages.  I applaud her for her efforts.  I just pre-ordered it on ibooks and look forward to checking it out.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Prom Dress Giveaway- Volunteer/Donate

Free Prom Dress Giveaway

Friday May 13, 2011

5pm - 8pm

Mount Vernon High School

100 California Road

Mount Vernon, NY 10550

***Adult Volunteers***

are needed to give of their time for the entire event to assist girls with selecting and choosing appropriate dresses and to provide etiquette and grooming advice.

Will YOU volunteer?


Formal or semi formal age-appropriate dresses are needed in all sizes (0-16). Dresses should be from the year 2000 or later, clean and ready to wear. Call Laura 646 399 8844 to arrange pick up day/time.

Accesories: jewelry, purses, shoes are also needed

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day from Chocolate Chip!

It's our day ladies! I hope you are celebrating because we deserve it! You are the hand that rocks the cradle. You love, nurture, protect and shape the future as you raise your children. No record will ever reflect the endless hours and countless effort you pour into your children and for that we lift you up and honor you today on Mother's Day!

My 7 year old sent me an email that I extend to each of you today. You are fierce and fabulous and we honor you for who you are and all you do!

Hi mommy happy mother's day. Enjoy your Mother's day mommy. You are the coolest mommy and don't forget it.I love you mommy. I am lucky to have a mom like you.I am blessed to have a mom like you.I love you with big hugs and big kisses.You are a special person in my family because you gave birth to me.I know that you went through a lot of trouble.But I thank you.



From our family to yours we wish you a blessed Mother's Day! Check out the link below for a salute to you!

From the Chocolate Chip Archives...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Choolate Chip Pee Wee Golf

Our pee wee golfers were out in full swing this afternoon! This special parent/child class introduces 4-6 year olds to golf while preparing mom and dad to coach their kids in the fundamentals of the sport.

Putting was the focus this week. Check out our son Ryan (of course in the Rondo jersey) and his BFF as they learn the proper way to hold the putter. Everyone will get to put their skills to work next week during the mini golf challenge! 

Special shout out to the Chocolate Chip families that joined us today for the kick off of the 2011 season.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April 3, 2011: Changing the Face of Independent Schools One Family at a Time

Tomorrow is the day we can begin to change the face of Independent Schools!

Join Chocolate Chip, RIISE & Fairchester Independent Schools
April 3, 2011 3-6pm

Fairchester Boutique Recruitment Event
The Italian Center of Stamford
1620 Newfield Avenue Stamford CT

25 great independent schools!
Brunswick School, Covent of the Sacred Heart Greenwich, Greenwich Country Day School, Greenwich Academy.Greens, Farms Academy, Hackley School, Harvey School, KING, The Masters School, Rippowan Cisqua, Hopkins School, The Long Ridge School, The Mead School, New Canaan Country School, Rye Country Day School, St. Luke's School, Whitby School, Windward School, Wooster School, The Storm King School, Waterside School, The Milestone School, Loomis Chaffe, School of the Holy Child, The Montessori School

4 Informative Breakout Sessions!

You WON'T want to miss this event!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Students get first-hand lesson on Japan devastation

Are we raising emotionally intelligent kids?  The recent crisis in Japan is a current event that provides an opportunity to discuss empathy and the calamaties that others face. 

Our kids pray for the Japanese every night and my daugther has decided to host another lemonade stand (the other was for Haitians after the earthquake) to raise money for the cause.  I also encouraged her to ask her teacher to coordinate a group philanthropic activity for her class. 

Check out this news story out of Charlotte, NC.  See how this school is teaching third graders about Japan:  the devastation, the language and culture. 

Congrats to Chocolate Chip kid Tasan Gandy-Smith on his television debut!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Chocolate Chip Mompreneur Roxanne Ferrance on BronxNet!

Congratulations Roxanne Ferrance

Chocolate Chip Mompreneur and owner of Cake in a Cup NY
on her television debut on Bronxnet!

Check out the link below:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy Black Marriage Day!!

Chocolate Chip wishes you
Love, patience, kindness, honesty, humility, laughter and joy
on this
Black Marriage Day!

We're sharing the Message Bible version of The Love chapter for your edification....Also something special from the Chocolate Chip archives


From the Chocolate Chip Archives...

A Chocolate Chip for your marriage

1 Corinthians 13 (The Message)

The Way of Love

1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up.

Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.

Love doesn't strut,

Doesn't have a swelled head,

Doesn't force itself on others,

Isn't always "me first,"

Doesn't fly off the handle,

Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,

Doesn't revel when others grovel,

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,

Puts up with anything,

Trusts God always,

Always looks for the best,

Never looks back,

But keeps going to the end.

8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Friday, March 25, 2011

From the Chocolate Chip Archvies: Prep School Negro Melissa B. Ivey

I remember how proud I was of my friend Melissa when I first read her story.  As we gear up for next weekend's Fairchester Boutiqe Recruitment Event on April 3, 2011, , I thought it was a perfect time to dig into the vault and re-visit Melissa's remarks on her prep school experience and her decision to educate her children in prep schools.

For those considering the journey I hope you find her thoughts provocative and informative.  Let me know what you think.  Post your comment in the box below.

Golf Anyone?

My how time flies when you're having fun!  Looking at this picture, I can't believe that 3 years have elapsed so quickly!  Our Uncle Jimmy, an avid golfer, first put a golf club in our daughters hands at the age of four during a family bbq.  It became apparent very quickly that she had a natural swing and great form even at that ripe young age.  Inspired by what he saw, her grand uncle quickly blessed her with her very own Barbie golf clubs:)

To introduce Brooke to the sport he loves, Uncle Jimmy brought us to an incredible program, The First Tee of Metropolit​an New York.
For a few weeks we hoofed it from Westchester to Newark and then quickly decided to find a program closer to home.  When a pee-wee division (ages 4-6) wasn't available nearby we formed our own 4 week session on Saturday afternoons for our littlest golfers.

Now that she's seven we've signed up her up for the junior program which cost only $15 for 6 1 hour sessions!  You can't beat that!  Classes begin mid-April so check out the site to find the location nearest you.

Our little guy is 4 now and he's ready to tee up.  Chocolate Chip will be organizing another 4 week pee-wee class for 10 4-6 year olds on Saturdays at 2:30pm at Mosholu in the Bronx.  Space is limited to 10 children and will be filled on a first come first serve basis.  So if you're interested in exposing your little one to golf, comment on the blog below and we'll be in touch and add you to the class list. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Congratulations to our Chocolate Chip Scholars!

The Independent School admission process has a reputation for being daunting and is not for the faint at heart.  Many of our families began the process by attending our Fall Boutique Recruitment Event. After school visits, student and family interviews and other opportunities to get to know the schools, they toughed it out and made it through and lived to tell about the experience.

Well the acceptances letters are in and it's time to celebrate!  Join us over the coming days as we shout out our Chocolate Chip Kids! 

Congratulations to Rachel (one of my son's BFF's) who has been admitted and will be attending Riverdale Country Day School in the Fall!!

I'm especially proud of her because I've watched her grow over the years into sweet, well-mannered, self-disciplined and wise young lady.  She is truly the "mother hen" of her class!  Kudos to her wonderful parents and The Milestone School- where good beginnings never end.

Yeah for Ian (one of my daughters long time friends)!!  He's on his way to the Hackley School this fall!!  Ian is a product of The Milestone School and Harlem Succeess Academy. 

We have a special connection to Ian and his family because we're blessed to be apart of the same spiritual family.  Special shout out to Christian Cultural Center! 
Congratulations Ian!  Keep up the excellent work!

There are more to come.  Know a Chocolate Chip kid that we should feature.  Post a comment on the blog below and we'll be sure to collect the information.

Don't Miss Our Independent School Recuritment Event April 3rd

Did you miss us?  We've been busy creating this AMAZING educational experience for our families.  If you missed our Fall Boutique Recruitment Event here's a chance for you to learn the ins and outs, dispel the myths and hear first hand the value, challenges and triumphs of private school.  If you are thinking about applying to schools in the fall or in the near future, attending this event is a MUST!

Chocolate Chip, RIISE and Fairchester Independent Schools present the Fairchester Boutique Recruitment Event: An Intimate Discussion between Parents and Independent School Educators on Sunday, April 3, 2011 at The Italian Center of Stamford 1620 Newfield Stamford, CT at 3pm.

So why are we doing this and why should you attend?  The answer is simple.  As parents we know educating our children is our top priority.  We understand that academic excellence is paramount and is an investment in our children's bright future.  It is critical that we examine the pros and cons as we search to to find the best fit for our children. 

We're partnering with RIISE & Fairchester Independent Schools to help support and encourage the recruitment of African American students to cultivate diversity in private schools.  The event will facilitate the discussion and engage our families as they consider independent schools as a viable option to fulfill their family’s educational goals. 

The event will promote 20+ Independent Schools from Westchester and Fairfield counties. Featuring a dynamic keynote speaker and informative break out sessions, key topics for discussion include:

Admissions Process
Diversity & Inclusion
School Philosophy & Curriculum
Return on Investment

Mix & Mingle with school administrators, current students and families

So post it to your profile or share it on facebook or tweet this information to your heart's content and tell every parent you know with children pre-school -12 why this is an event they don't want to miss. 

Featured Schools:

Brunswick School

Covent of the Sacred Heart Greenwich

Greenwich Country Day School

Greenwich Academy

Greens Farm Academy

Hackley School

Harvey School


The Masters School

Rippowan Cisqua

Hopkins School

The Long Ridge School

The Mead School

New Canaan Country School

Rye Country Day School

St. Luke's School

Whitby School

Windward School

Wooster School

The Storm King School

Waterside School

The Milestone School

Loomis Chaffee

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Brown History for Kids...The Harlem Renaissance

designed by Royal Amethyst LLC
 In the world of my 4 year old son, Black people are brown and White people are peach.  If you follow me on Twitter, you may have read that he told me he wanted to celebrate Brown history, not Black History because his skin is brown.  Teaching our history clearly starts at an early age.

You may recall from my facebook post that I am the chair of Black History month at my daughter's public school.  After it being a non-event last year, I volunteered myself to ensure that a meaningful celebration of our culture took place.

For Black History Month, students are often given bits and pieces of information without context.  One day learning about Dr. King, the next Harriet Tubman and the next Jackie Robinson with no understanding of how they relate or the historical timeline or social conditions that existed at the time that they lived.  To counteract that, I wanted to take a more integrated approach enabling children to learn in a more wholistic fashion making a greater impact.  

So as I began to make my plans, my first step was to choose a theme: The Harlem Renaissance

Taking a comprehensive approach gave me the platform to present the history, geography, philosophy and artistic elements that emerged in addition to the key figures of the era.  

In a school that is 50% African American and 50% White, it was also important to me to celebrate the brilliance, creativity and success of Black people.  I remember being horrified when my preschooler came home and blurted out, "Martin Luther King was shot".  Not that he was factually incorrect, but what a harsh way for a 3 year old to learn about one of our greatest leaders.  Clearly his legacy can be broken down in some other manner that children can grasp at that young age.  The message that Black folks were college educated, created art forms like Jazz, were wealthy and accomplished and not only slaves was critical to expanding the knowledge of these elementary school children.

So what are we doing?  I'm glad you asked:)

Each week takes an element of the Harlem Renaissance (history/geography, arts, key figures) and breaks it into small chunks of information.  We share the information daily during morning announcements and send a summary home in a weekly newsletter so families can share in the learning and reinforce the information. 

Students get to test what they have learned in the Black History Challenge.  Each perfect score gains the student a ticket into raffle with phenomenal prizes such as a Family Membership to the Studio Museum in Harlem and a gift certificate to the renowned Hue-Man Bookstore & Cafe in Harlem

Our grand finale is our school wide assembly featuring Victoria Bond and T.R Simon, authors of the acclaimed book Zora and Me and award winning illustrator Bryan Collier  (Uptown, Visiting Langston and Doo-Wop Pop).  The students themselves will also take center stage taking us back to the Savoy with the Jitterbug, reciting Langston's poems, discussing the art of Romare Bearden and singing Lift Evry Voice to name a few.

It is my hope that after all is said and done, we will have made a positive impact, expanded the students' body of knowledge an left an indelible imprint of the souls of Black folk.  

How is your child(ren)'s school celebrating Black History Month?

Special thanks to my co-chairman and Chocolate Chip mom, Tara Lattimer-Wilson, Royale Amethyst LLC for the beautiful banner and Marva Allen of Hue-Man Bookstore and Cafe for helping turn my vision into reality.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Prep School Negro Comes to The Calhoun School

The Prep School Negro Comes to The Calhoun School

You haven't seen The Prep School Negro yet? Well you're in luck!
RIISE presents the criticially acclaimed documentatry at The Calhoun School February 15, 2011.

Click above for details and to RSVP because space is limited.

Check out one of our early reviews from the Chocolate Chip archives...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Who's Ready for Satchmo?

What a fantastic way to jump start your Black History month festivities by introducing your children to Jazz.

Characterized by syncopated rhythms and improvisation, Jazz originated among African Americans in New Orleans over a century ago.

Jazz at Lincoln Center presents,Who is Louis Armstrong?, the 2nd installment in it's Jazz for Young People Series on Saturday January 29, 2011 at the Rose Theater. Showtimes: 1pm and 3pm. Tickets: $12, $20 & $28. Click the link below for more details and to purchase tickets.

Stay tuned for Chocolate Chip's month long exploration of the Harlem Renaissance designed especially for kids young and not so young:)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Should You Tap Into Your Inner Chinese Mother?

I have been talking with moms about this article ALL day and couldn't wait to get to my laptop to share it with my Chocolate Chip family.

In this WSJ article, Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior, author Amy Chua introduces readers to her new parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and gives a sneak peak into what it takes to raise successful Chinese children. 

Do you praise your children?  Are you concerned about their self-esteem and give them opportunities to share their opinions and make choices?  Do you allow them to watch tv, play video games and have playdates?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are clearly NOT a Chinese mother by Amy Chua's standard.    

Are you the disciplinarian?  Think you're hardcore in your parenting?  Hold onto your seats. You might cringe when you read how this Chinese mother handled piano practice at home with her 7 year old daughter. 

Want more info?  Check out the book review in Speakeasy produced by Chocolate Chip friend, Christopher John Farley.

Chime in by commenting in the box below.  Is Amy Chua on point?  Will you take a page out of her motherhood handbook?  Or does she go overboard?  We want to know what you think.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Self-Expansion and the "ME" Marriage

At Chocolate Chip we believe healthy marriages are the foundation of healthy families.  Consider us your resource for strengthening your marriage as you strengthen your family.

To that end, we are sharing, The Happy Marriage Is the ‘Me’ Marriage, by Tara Parker-Pope recently published by the New York Times.  The article examines the evolution of marriage from primarily an economic and social institution to contemporary unions where individual emotional and intellectual needs and the desire for spouses "who make their lives more interesting" is critical. 

So is self-expansion, "how individuals use a relationship to accumulate knowledge and experiences", the key to happy and sustainable relationships?  Click the link below to read the article, then post your comments below on the blog.