Wondering what to do this weekend? WONDER opens in theaters this Friday! Here’s why you need to go see it!

WONDER, directed by Stephen Chbosky and produced by Cleveland’s own Todd Lieberman, is based on the best-selling children’s book by R.J. Palacio.

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WONDER tells the incredibly inspiring and heartwarming story of August (Auggie) Pullman played by Jacob Tremblay, who was born with facial differences. Despite 27 corrective surgeries in his 10 years of life, Auggie stands out as looking different from the other children.

In order to help Auggie adjust to a more normal life, his parents, played by Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson, make the decision to enroll him in the local private school, feeling somewhat certain that 5th grade is as good a time as any. The school further attempts to facilitate Auggie’s adjustment to a mainstream school setting by arranging an orientation before the school year begins with 3 fellow students, Charlotte (Elle McKinnon), Julian (Bryce Gheisar), and Jack Will (Noah Jupe.)

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Auggie’s first interaction with these students, as well as his experience on his first day of school, does not go very well and he is met with stares and harsh words. Despite his efforts using certain coping mechanisms and techniques, this is still incredibly difficult for Auggie. He is not sure if he will ever fit in.

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As a parent, I’m very excited about this film. It’s very rare to find a true family film that appeals to everyone without containing content that some may find offensive such as foul language, sexual themes, or gratuitous violence. Instead, WONDER advocates kindness and really gets to the heart of the serious, prevailing problem of bullying, helping its viewers to think deeper about what’s going on behind the scenes in a person’s life. What makes a bully a bully, and if you are a victim of bullying, how to go about dealing with it and handling it?

The message in this movie was simple but profound. When it comes to showing kindness, most of us would like to think we would never be unkind to a person like Auggie because of differences beyond their control, but the reoccurring message of “choose kind” presented in this film, will make you think deeper and examine your relationships with people you come into contact with on any given day and ask yourself, “am I really choosing kind in ALL my interactions?” It helps the viewer to remember, everyone is fighting a hard battle! Let’s face it, it’s easy to be kind to people you know and like. The challenge in choosing kind is to do so when we are unfamiliar with the person, or especially, with those not being so kind to you.

Everyone can benefit from kindness, even the bullies. In fact, there is a really great scene with Auggie’s main antagonist, Julian, and his mom and dad which provides great food for thought for parents. The scene also gives more insight as to why bullies such as Julian act the way they do. What message are we giving our children? Are we excusing or allowing their behaviors and unkind treatment of others just because “kids will be kids”, or are we setting the best example we can in how to show sincere kindness towards all?

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The entire cast does an excellent and convincing job in their roles; Julia Roberts as the mom who had to put aside her dreams when a child is born to her and is in unexpected need of the extra attention as well as the extra challenges and worries she has to deal with , Owen Wilson as the supporting husband and father, Mandy Patinkin as Principal Tushman, who seems to understand the children and their challenges in a deeper sense and really tries to assist as best as he can, and Daveed Diggs as Mr. Browne, the teacher who truly takes his job to heart by doing what he can to help his students really examine who they aspire to be.

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In this movie, however, it’s the younger cast who rule the film. You’re going to love the impressive talent as they do an incredible job of realistically portraying the struggles and choices we all have to make in our relationships. There’s Charlotte – the privileged child star, Julian – the bully and popular kid who has a strong influence on the other students, Summer – the girl who just wants some nice friends for a change but has to do so by taking a chance and leaving the popular kids to get to know Auggie better, and Jack Will – a 10 year old nice guy who is struggling with a decision of loyalty for his long-time popular friend who he knows is wrong and the new unpopular kid who could really use a true friend.

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Izabela Vidovic who plays Auggie’s older sister is also very notable in her role, as the movie takes the time to show not only how Auggie is affected by his differences but also the perspectives of those who know and love him, like his sister Via, (Vidovic), who has always had to take a back seat because of all the attention given to her little brother.

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There are many cute and funny moments in the film that will make you laugh and help to balance out the strong emotions but trust me, you will definitely need to remember the tissues, especially for the end!

The reaction to the trailers and screenings have been so positive. So many people I have talked to are looking forward to this movie and I can’t wait for everyone to see it. WONDER’s message is such a positive one and I can see it setting a new paradigm in how we view and treat each other. This is a great movie for young and old alike as Auggie grows so much throughout his personal experiences and really proves beyond a doubt that “you can’t blend in when you’re born to stand out.”

This is my first movie review and so I don’t really have a system for rating movies yet, but I would definitely give WONDER a 10 out of 10 for the storyline, the pace, the overall message, the family friendliness, the acting, and the effect it will have on the viewers. It’s no WONDER why this movie won Heartland Films 2017 Truly Moving Picture Award!

Please see this movie! If you have kids, talk about its message before and after with your children and about ways that we can all do more to “choose kind”.

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If you have a few minutes, I would love to hear your thoughts and reactions in the comments below or if you prefer to share your thoughts on social media, remember to tag them with the official hashtags: #WonderTheMovie and #ChooseKind and please tag me as well with #CleKids so I won’t miss them!

Official Site: www.wonder.movie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WonderTheMovie
Instagram: www.instagram.com/WonderTheMovie
Twitter: www.twitter.com/WonderTheMovie
Hashtag: #ChooseKind, #WonderTheMovie

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Talk Like a Pirate on Sept. 19 to Receive $5 Arrff at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium!!!

WELL, BLOW ME DOWN! TALKING LIKE A PIRATE ON SEPT. 19 TRANSLATES TO $5 OFF AQUARIUM ADMISSION

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Ahoy, me hearties! Save your doubloons by celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day (ITLAPD).

In 1995 John Bauer (Ol’ Chumbucket) and Mark Summers (Cap’n Slappy) proclaimed September 19th the day when we should all talk like pirates and that’s what is happening at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium on September 19th,  because who wants to be thought of as a boring, bilge-sucking son-of-a-biscuit-eater who’d rather swab the deck than embark on an aquatic adventure?

On Tuesday, September 19, read a randomly selected phrase while doing your best pirate impression and receive $5 off of your admission that day.

The first 200 brave buccaneers receive an eyepatch.

In addition to regularly scheduled full facemask dive shows and stingray feeds, other Talk Like a Pirate Day Aquarium activities for kids include:

  • a dress-up chest and paper plate pirate craft
  • a swashbuckling story for the wee ones told by our own Lake Erie Monster-seeking Captain NEO
  • an appearance by land shark mascot Finn
  • a target shark feed and
  • a chance to search for treasure in the exhibits.

Where: Greater Cleveland Aquarium West Bank of the Flats, First Energy Powerhouse, 2000 Sycamore Street, Cleveland, Ohio 441113  216.862.8803 greaterclevelandaquarium.com

When: Tuesday, September 19, 10am – 5pm (last admission ticket sold at 4pm)

For more information, visit greaterclevelandaquarium.com.

Follow or share on social using the hashtags #ITLAPD and #CLEAQUARIUM

Grandparents are FREE at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium – September 8 – 10, 2017

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Hey Grandparents! Looking for something fun to do with the kiddos?  Well, how about the Greater Cleveland Aquarium?

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is offering one (1) free admission for Grandma or Grandpa on Grandparent’s Day Weekend (Friday, September 8 – Sunday, September 10 from 10 am to 5 pm) with the purchase of one child or adult general admission.

Whether you go nose-to-nose with a spiny tailed lizard, feed a stingray or take a selfie with a shark, it’s a great opportunity to make memories!

The first 50 grandparents each day receive a commemorative button.

Families can fill out an aquatic-themed word search for a chance to win a 1-year Grandparents Annual Pass (good for 2 adults 60+ and 2 children ages 2-18).

And youngsters can also make a hand-trace Grandparents’ Day fish card in the 2nd floor Exploration Station.

Other activities throughout the weekend include special cichlid “Dish on Fish” feeding talks by Aquarium staffers at 11:45 am daily.

Grandparents visiting on Saturday and Sunday will also be treated to complimentary coffee and tea from 10 – 11 am.

The Greater Cleveland Aquarium is located in the FirstEnergy Powerhouse – Flats West Bank, 2000 Sycamore Street, Cleveland, OH 44113

For more information, call 216.862.8803 or visit greaterclevelandaquarium.com!

Grandparents’ Day weekend discounts can only be applied to in-person admission purchased September 8 – 10 before 4pm at the Aquarium front ticket counter. Admission must be used that day and cannot be combined with another offer.     

Fairy Gardens for a Cause – Summit Mall – September 14th!

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Join Summit Mall, a Simon mall, for the Fairy Gardens for a Cause event on September 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Dillard’s Women’s Court.

This fundraiser, sponsored by Party’n With Plants, will benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation to continue the fight against breast cancer. Kids and adults will be able to plant and create their own magical gardens for $10 each.

  • Thursday, September 14, 2017
  • 6:00-8:00 pm
  • Dillard’s Women’s Court ((Near Center Court by Starbucks)
  • $10 per person (1 garden)

Be a part of this fun & fabulous fundraiser and plant & create your own fairy or dinosuar garden!

Decorate your garden with a huge selection of miniatures including turtles, lady bugs, bunnies, mini fences, mushrooms and more!

FUN FOR ADULTS & CHILDREN ALIKE!

SPACE IS LIMITED – Please be sure to make your reservation today!

To RSVP, please visit the following link:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/summit-mall-fairy-gardens-for-a-cause-tickets-36936283418

For more information about this and other events, visit www.shopsummitmall.com or like Summit Mall on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/summitmall.

Music, Food & Family Fun at the Cleveland Garlic Festival!! (Ticket Giveaway!!!)

UPDATE!!! Congratulations to Jeannine B! You were chosen by random.com as the winner of the two tickets to the Garlic Festival on August 26 & 27! Thanks so much to everyone who entered and I hope you all have a great time at the festival this coming weekend!!!

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Just a couple more weeks until Shaker Square is filled with music, food, and family fun at the eighth annual Cleveland Garlic Festival, August 26-27, 2017!!!

The kiddos have their very own place for fun at the Cleveland Garlic Festival in the Mighty Locavores Kids Zone with activities such as:

  • Pedal Tractor Maze
  • Cooking classes
  • “Taste the Season” Game
  • “How Does your Garlic Grow” with Cleveland Botanical Gardens Green Corps
  • Euclid Beach Rocket Ship Car and Thriller Car
  • Flower Clown
  • Apple Tastings
  • Storytelling by Shaker Library

 

Also back are crowd favorites, including:

  • “Top Chef” Garlic Grill-Off Competition
  • GARLIC FRIES
  • Local Craft Beer
  • Mitchell’s Garlic Ice Cream
  • Miss Garlic and so much more.

Cleveland Garlic Festival is the annual fundraiser for North Union Farmers Market,  a nonprofit whose mission is to champion local healthy foods and farmers.

This is Midwest’s ground zero “for all things garlic” combined with great live music. Garlic-themed dishes will be prepared by Cleveland celebrity chefs, a parade with Miss Garlic 2017 and her fairy princess court, cooking demonstrations on how to prepare garlic, local artists, and a belly dancing troupe!

When: Saturday August 26 from noon – 9 PM and Sunday, August 27 from noon – 6PM

Admission: $9 for adults, $5 for seniors (65+) and $5 for children 4 to 12 years old. Children under 4 are free.

Where: Shaker Square 13219 Shaker Square, Cleveland OH 44120

But wait!!  The North Union Farmers Market has given me TWO FREE TICKETS to give away to a Cleveland Kiddos reader!

 To enter to win TWO FREE tickets, all you have to do is check out the Cleveland Garlic Festival’s website: ClevelandGarlicFestival.org and then leave me a comment either below on the blog or on CleKids Instagram account letting me know what you are looking forward to most about the Garlic Festival.  You have until Monday, August 21 at 11:59pm to leave a comment.  I will choose a winner and notify them on the following day!

Also, be sure to check out The Cleveland Garlic Festival on their social networking sites:

Visit www.clevelandgarlicfestival.org for tickets and schedules or call 216.751.7656.

***Disclosure: I was asked to help promote the Cleveland Garlic Festival. In exchange, I will receive two tickets for myself and two tickets to give away.As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***

Visit ClevelandKiddos on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram!

Miller Ferry to Put-In-Bay For an Unforgetable Family Fun Day!

Last year we discovered how easy it is to enjoy some family fun away from, but still pretty close to home!

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Miller Ferry to the island of Put-in-Bay  is just a short drive from Cleveland but even just a day there felt like a perfect getaway vacation!

The kids loved it so much last year, they decided that it would become a new summer tradition.  And this time, we brought some friends!

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When you arrive at the Miller Ferry port, there is plenty of free parking nearby.  Getting your ferry tickets involves a short wait in line and during summer hours, there’s a ferry ready to take you away every half hour.

After a relaxing ferry ride to the island, we were ready to check out Put-In-Bay’s new FREE family-friendly music festival.  Some of us brought our own transportation (my daughter was so excited to see that longboarding IS allowed on the island) but the rest of us needed a ride!

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E’s Put-In-Bay Carts and other places to rent a golf cart or other transportation, are just a short stroll ahead after you step off the ferry.  I would definitely recommend reserving your cart ahead of time.  You’ll receive a discount if you book online, plus on busy days, you’ll be sure you have a cart before they sell out!

Trust me, you want to have a cart ready for you so you can start your island adventure as soon as possible!

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There’s so many fun things to do on the island, but honestly, for this busy mom, I love that you don’t have to do anything at all and still have an amazing day!

Because we were really looking forward to the music fest, we headed straight to Perry’s Monument where the music fest stage was set up.  We found the perfect shady spot under a tree, with a great view of the lake and of the music fest stage.

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The girls rode their longboards and the boys enjoyed yard games like cornhole, while the adults enjoyed lazily lounging around to good music, food and drink.

Finding downtime for myself is a luxury and so I could have stayed under that tree the entire day enjoying the breeze off the lake and the variety of music, but since our friends hadn’t been to Put-In-Bay and there are plenty of things we didn’t do on our last visit, we eventually picked up our things and headed out on the carts to check out the island.

One of the places you know the kids are going to want to spend some time at is Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center for a friendly game of putt-putt.

Put-In-Bay has so many other things to do such as lakefront restaurants, playgrounds, water activities, wineries, a campground and lots of fun events happening all season long.  You can easily visit the island as a spontaneous day trip, but better yet, you can check out Miller Ferry’s website for all the latest updates and offerings so you can plan the perfect trip for your family too!

Also,  check out Miller’s Ferry’s coupon page for lots of great offers for various places on the island.

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There’s still plenty of great weather left to visit Put-In-Bay this season via Miller Ferry so make sure you put it in your calendar for 2017 and while you’re at it, don’t forget to save the date for the 2nd Annual Put-In-Bay MUSIC FEST on Saturday, June 9, 2018!

One more thing, check out this gorgeous sunset on our ferry trip back to the mainland.  Lake Erie was a little choppy this trip and we discovered that standing near the front of the ferry was more like the splash zone and made for an even more fun ride back!

Many thanks to Miller Ferry for the invitation to visit the island with my family for the music fest, and for the complimentary golf cart and ferry ride to Put-In-Bay! All opinions in this post were genuinely 100% mine.

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Great Lakes Science Center terrace picnic & Mather deck party offer great views of Blue Angels over Labor Day weekend

The Cleveland National Air Show is a Labor Day weekend tradition along the downtown lakefront, and Great Lakes Science Center has two great ways to enjoy the show!

Happening Friday, September 3 through Monday, September 5, the Science Center has two family friendly options for some of the best Air Show views in Cleveland.
Guests can check out the Air Show Family Deck Party to see the show from the deck of the Steamship William G. Mather, a historic floating museum docked right on Lake Erie! Or, relax on the Science Center terrace that overlooks North Coast Harbor for an Air Show Family Picnic!
Deck Party
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  • Onboard the Steamship William G. Mather
  • Tickets are $19 per person ($15 for Science Center members)
  • Includes access to adjacent beer garden
Family Picnic
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  • Out on the Science Center terrace overlooking the harbor
  • Access to family games such as corn hole, stomp rockets, bubble station and more
  • Includes food voucher redeemable for a hot dog, hamburger or bratwurst as well as chips and a soft drink
  • Tickets are $29 for adults, $27 for children and $19 for Science Center members
Tickets can be purchased for either event by calling 216-621-2400.
The Science Center has resumed its summer operating schedule and is open seven days a week through Labor Day weekend — Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Fall operating schedule resumes once again after Labor Day weekend. The Science Center will be closed for cleaning and maintenance from September 6-16.
About Great Lakes Science Center
Great Lakes Science Center, home of the NASA Glenn Visitor Center, makes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) come alive for more than 300,000 visitors a year through hundreds of hands-on exhibits, traveling exhibitions, OMNIMAX® Theater, Steamship William G. Mather, daily science demonstrations, seasonal camps, family workshops and more. The Science Center is funded in part by the citizens of Cuyahoga County through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. Visit GreatScience.com for more information.