Maximizing Family Time

5 tips for spending more time with loved ones

Now as much as ever, close family ties can make a significant impact on young lives. Constantly emerging technology sometimes limits personal interaction, while many school-age children experience unprecedented stress levels.

Building strong connections with trusted adults can give kids a sense of security and a better foundation for achieving their potential. Make spending time together a priority with these engaging activity ideas that allow the whole family to get in on the fun.

Plan a Movie or Game Night

Kids thrive on routines and clear expectations, so a regular special event like a movie or game night can give them something to anticipate each week. Watching TV at home may not be a novelty, but you can make it an occasion to celebrate by adding special touches like dimming the lights to mimic a theater, pulling out cozy blankets and preparing popcorn or other treats. If you opt for game night instead, keep the enthusiasm strong week after week by creating long-range tournaments or allowing kids to rotate game selection privileges.

Read Together

Sharing books together not only creates an opportunity for bonding, it’s a way to give your child an academic boost outside the classroom. Studies show that daily reading promotes literacy, helps kids build their vocabulary and improves overall academic achievement. Also, the benefits don’t end with elementary-age children.

Parents can connect with older kids through books that carry important lessons about life and relationships. Reading books individually then coming together to discuss them, similar to a book club, can provide the chance for thoughtful talks about difficult topics. For example, “Regretting You,” from bestselling author Colleen Hoover, explores a tumultuous relationship between a mother and her daughter who must turn to one another when a tragedy shatters their lives. Find more information on the novel at amazon.com.

Cook Meals Together

Eating together is a goal for many families, but preparing meals together takes those benefits even further. Engaging kids in meal preparation creates a sense of cooperation and instills pride for a successful project. It’s also a chance to share family traditions and pass on recipes that have traveled through generations.

Enjoy a Craft Day

Kids need the chance to let their imaginations soar, and arts and crafts projects can provide the perfect outlet for creative expression. An art session may be as simple as enlisting everyone’s help to make decorations for an upcoming event. Another thoughtful way to channel all that creative energy: have little artists make cards to deliver to a local senior or retirement community.

Take a Trip

Discovering new places is an exciting way to create shared memories. A trip need not be costly or even far from home. Even a day trip to explore a new community nearby can provide a natural setting for the whole family to connect and form lifelong memories.

No matter what activity you choose, investing in time together strengthens relationships so kids can flourish with the confidence of a support system behind them. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
Amazon Publishing

Jesus Christ Superstar Amazes Patrons in Austin

Aaron LaVigne and Jenna Rubaii and the company of the North American Tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Aaron LaVigne and Jenna Rubaii and the company of the North American Tour of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

Lexus Broadway In Austin’s presentation of “Jesus Christ Superstar” raucously tells the story of Jesus in the final dramatic days leading up to his crucifixion.

Having no spoken dialogue, this modern day rock opera, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice is loosely based on the biblical Gospels, focusing on the personal tensions between Jesus, his disciples, the people of Israel, and the leadership of Rome.

Unique among biblical retellings, this theatrical portrayal makes great emphasis of Judas’ concerns for Jesus’ increasing popularity and the potential negative repercussions from local authorities that may ensue, as Judas criticizes Jesus for accepting his followers’ unrealistic beliefs in him. Meanwhile, Caiaphas, the High Preist of Israel, assembles the Pharisees together at the Sanhedrin to hold council about Jesus and his disciples unwillingness to accept the Romans as their rulers and the threat of imperial authority being debased. Caiaphas soon concludes they kill Jesus for the greater good, and the Pharisees concur upon his decision.

Upon Jesus’ exultant arrival in Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, has a dream in which he meets with the Galilean and then receives all of the blame for the man’s violent and mournful death, predicting the rise of Christianity.

Chorus upon chorus regale the familiar epic history that follows with Judas’ betrayal of Jesus to the Pharisees, the last supper, Peter’s three-time denial of Jesus, the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas’ kiss upon Jesus cheek inciting his apprehension by Roman soldiers, the numerous interrogations and tortures that ultimately placed the Man from Galilee upon the rough timbered surface of the cross, all the while Mary Magdalene and countless followers stand helplessly by as Jesus is raised in to the air for his final pains taking breath and ignite a movement singular only to not only the King of the Jews, but the Son of God.

Visit Lexus Broadway in Austin for more details at https://austin.broadway.com/shows/jesus-christ-superstar/.

4 Fun Ways to Take a Home Sports Viewing Party to New Heights

There’s nothing better than having all your favorite people over to watch a sporting event together. No matter the sport, team, or event – be it a random NBA game, the Super Bowl, or March Madness – there’s just something fun and relaxing about watching with your own crowd. And you can make the experience even better by shaking things up a bit, and upping your watch party preparation to include more than chips, dip, and beer.
Amp Up the Eats

Chips and salsa may be easy to dump into a bowl when company’s coming, but it’s usually nothing special. And if it’s become a common staple at watch parties, it’s time to try something else anyway! One way to spice it up (pun fully intended) is to try a nacho-style fondue station. You can add something like Ro-Tel dip to the cheese if you want it to be hotter, and then give guests dipping choices besides tortilla chips. Add in extras like pretzels, bite-size sausages, or even french fries. It’s basically the ideal snack station, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort, and everyone will wind up satisfied.

Have An In-House Betting Pool

If you and your friends are all into it, you can certainly have fun getting your own game going while you watch whatever event is on TV. Online sports bookie sites are becoming more readily available and more user-accessible than ever before, which in turn means more people are becoming familiar with the ins and outs of betting (in terms of how to read odds, which tips to trust, etc.). You might all simply place bets together at one of these sites, but you could also use them as a basis to set up your own, in-house betting pool. And really, it doesn’t even have to involve money. Betting candies, gift cards, or anything else fun and innocent can be a great way to give everyone a stake in the action. And for that matter, if you have regular watch parties, you could even organize season-long betting pools!

Watch Outside

Another very fun way to spice up a watch party is to structure it like your own home tailgate, no matter the season. You can get some lawn games going, set up a tent outside, and move a TV out under the shade if it’s super hot – or put the TV in the garage and set up heaters if it’s a cold fall day. Supply extra jackets or mittens for your guests, and even a hot coffee, hot chocolate and/or cider station. (If you’re feeling extra festive, add single shots of whiskey to make those hot drinks even more delicious.) Whatever the case, you can set up a grill outside, embrace the elements, and make whatever you’re watching the game with that much more satisfying in the process – be it a cool beer on a hot day or a piping-hot burger in a chilly garage.

Go Virtual

While watching at home generally gives you a better view than nosebleed seats at the stadium, there is now a way to get an even better angle. Watching a game through a VR headset is becoming an option, and allows you to enjoy the best seats in the house even though you’re at home. Not all leagues and games facilitate the option yet, but if it is an option, your friends might love getting in on the action together. Granted, it takes a little bit of the communal fun out of things, in theory, but particularly while it’s still aa novelty, we don’t think that will be a problem. It will be a blast to sit and talk with friends on comfortable couches while all enjoying first-person stadium views together.

You can always find fun ways to change up watch parties according to your personal interests and those of your friends as well. Maybe there’s something you all like to eat or drink every time, or maybe you have your own sort of betting or fantasy side game to go along with the action. But for more general ideas that anyone can try, the above options can make watching sports with the gang more fun than ever.

To Love Another Person is to See the Face of God

Written by Scotty Rigtrup, Contributing Writer for InFluential Magazine 

Photography courtesy of Matthew Murphy.

The company of LES MISÉRABLES performs “Master of the House” with J Anthony Crane as ‘Thénardier’ and Allison Guinn as ‘Madame Thénardier.’

Lexus Broadway In Austin’s presentation of one of the most iconic and longest running musicals, Les Misérables pierces the mind with the incredible strength, resilience and indomitable spirit of human kind, layered deeply within the absolute fragility of it all, as we learn of Jean Valjean and his plight of imprisonment and subsequent release.

Haunted by his conviction and scorned by society, Jean struggles to start over until Bishop Myriel shows great mercy to him by interceding in yet another altercation with the law and encourages him to become a new man. Emboldened by this life changing act of charity, Jean Valjean strips away his past by assuming a new identity as Monsieur Madeleine and goes on to build two factories, gain great financial wealth and become mayor of his city.

While accomplished by any stretch of the imagination, Jean is again brought to humbling depths as he learns of the horrific struggles of a former employee Fantine, who is gravely ill and the abusive treatment of her young daughter Cosette by the Thénardiers, innkeepers charged with her care who extort money from Fantine to supposedly support Cosette. More burdensome still, Jean Valjean decides to turn himself in to the police to save a man wrongly accused, only then having to escape in order to rescue Cosette, though tragically not before the passing of her mother.

Now orphaned, Cosette is lovingly raised by Jean Valjean, who as a beautiful young lady, falls in love with Marius, a young law student   who fights at the barricades and is rescued by Jean Valjean after being seriously wounded. Marius and Cosette soon marry and Jean Valjean separates himself from the young couple for fear of living a double life and jeopardizing their future for which Marius takes the opportunity of alienating him further because of his disproval of Jean’s criminal past, which breaks Jean’s heart and hastens his ultimate mortal demise.

Jean Valjean’s lifelong example of love and sacrifice deeply prick the conscious in this somberest of musicals accentuated by soaring ballads, despairing interludes and cynically jovial riffs. Leaving none without reason to ponder and aspirations to love more fully with Jean Vajean’s closing words, “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

The 2019/2020 Lexus Broadway in Austin presented by Texas Performing Arts season opened with Les Misérables on September 10-15, 2019 at Bass Concert Hall.

8th Annual Austin Originals Benefit Concert & Live Stream Featuring Wild Child

The Austin Originals Benefit Concert (AOBC) is Austin Child Guidance Center’s annual fundraising gala at ACL Live at the Moody Theater to be held this year on August 24, 2019 featuring Wild Child.  Each year, the event brings together community supporters, local businesses, musicians, and mental health advocates to raise money for children’s mental health services and concludes with a concert.

2019 Austin Originals Benefit Concert

The event also features live and silent auctions; the Austin Originals Tasting Grove with food bites from local Austin favorites; an exclusive VIP reception; and the annual Phyllis Richards Austin Icon for Children Award presented to two individuals making exemplary strides in improving outcomes for children (list of this year’s finalists and nominees found here.)

With your help, each year the Austin Originals Benefit Concert raises thousands of dollars in support of children’s mental health.

For sponsorship and ticket inquiries please reach out to the Development Team.

Seek Outdoor Entertainment for Personal Satisfaction

Making time to enjoy the outdoors is a simple way to boost your physical and mental well-being, no matter your age. Whether you venture out to the porch to watch the sunset or lace up your golf shoes for an afternoon on the course, there are plenty of ways you can take in some fresh air.

Going outside generally results in more physical activity than if you were to stay cooped up inside, and it’s an easy way to socialize and interact with others. It also plays an important part in maintaining your vibrancy.

Get inspired to spend some quality time outside with these ideas:

Take up a hobby. Planting a garden or tending a flower bed is terrific motivation to spend more time outdoors, and you’ll have the bounty of your work to enjoy, as well. Even a box garden designed for a smaller space requires regular care, so you’ll find yourself outdoors on a consistent basis nurturing plants to grow.

Take in a performance. Outdoor theaters offer numerous forms of entertainment from music concerts to plays. Before shopping for tickets, be sure to consider any discounts you might be able to use. For example, AARP members can find discounts on tickets for a wide range of events.

Increase your exercise. Even if you have some physical limits, keeping your muscles stretched helps maintain mobility. That might mean taking a walk or playing a round of golf. You could gather family or neighbors for a game of croquet or just move outdoors to do your daily stretches. Find a way to blend your daily exercise with the chance to get some fresh air for maximum benefits.

Go on a trip. The sights and sounds that go along with exploring somewhere new make it easy to enjoy spending time outside. Be sure to make plans for entertainment while you’re on the road, and rather than driving home in the dark or when you’re tired, consider making a hotel reservation through the AARP Travel Center. You might even consider organizing a weekend getaway with a partner or friend who shares your interest in discovering a new destination.

Enjoy a meal out. Dining al fresco is a treat when the weather cooperates, but you can incorporate a delicious meal as a bonus when you’re out and about even when the weather is less than ideal. You could opt to spend your wait time outdoors, or reward yourself after a walk with a special seafood, Italian or steak dinner. You might even pair the meal with a concert or a show for a truly enjoyable evening away from home.

Get creative when you think about how you’ll make more time to spend outdoors and remember that resources exist to assist with planning and saving money along the way. Learn more at aarp.org/memberbenefits. (Family Features)

SOURCE:
AARP Services, Inc.

38th Anniversary of Princess Diana and Prince Charles Celebrate Their Union with the Princess Diana Musical

 

July 29th marked the 38th anniversary of the marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

All of August many will be remembering the life of Princess Diana. Karen Sokolof Javitch has written the Princess Diana Musical which brings to life the Princess’ relationship with Prince Charles, focusing on their courtship, marriage and divorce.

Besides Karen’s 15 albums, she has co-written four musicals and was the creator and co-host of a popular Omaha radio show, It’s the Beat. Her musicals include Princess Diana the Musical, From Generation to Generation, and Love at the Café.  These shows have been performed in many cities in the United States. In addition, Ms. Javitch has raised over $350,000 for national and local charities with her original music.

The marriage is still the most watched royal wedding in history.  Millions still remember how Princess Diana omitted the word “obey” for the first time ever in a royal wedding.

Karen wrote all 33 of the songs for the Musical. The songs reflect Diana’s transition from being an unknown 19-year old to becoming the most famous woman in the world.

Karen’s diverse creations include songs about exercising, celebrities, holidays, political figures, babies, children, math, patriotism, love and family.

The musical has been played in multiple cities across the country. You can find info about the musical and the rest of her music at her website.  https://jmrproductions.com/.

We’re pleased to have the opportunity to chat briefly with Karen Sokolof Javitch and share highlights of our conversation. 

InFluential Magazine:  What about Princess Diana inspired you to make this musical? 

Karen Sokolof Javitch:  I was always drawn to her compassion and her empathy for the downtrodden.  She knew what pain was – as she felt abandoned at age 6 when her mother was forced to leave after her parents’ divorce.

InFluential:  What song is your favorite off the musical?  

Karen:  The songs range from fun to serious to hopeful and much more.  I have two favorites – the love song There was a Time is the break-up song between Diana and Charles.  It expresses how she loved him but there was always doubt about whether he loved her.  My other favorite is Hope in my Heartbecause that is what Diana gave to all of us.  We still miss her and long for her love after 22 years. She would be very proud of her boys, William and Harry and how they are following in her footsteps.

InFluential:  What other music have you been working on? 

Karen:  I like to write current event songs – especially about politics because there is so much going on. I have fun writing political satires like – Why Don’t You run for President? and ‘We’re so Unhappy with Our Leaders.” You can find them on YouTube! I also love to write children’s songs – many of those songs are found on YouTube with cute animation!

InFluential:  One of your songs,Here in the Nursery, about the mother who had octuplets went viral with about 10 million YouTube views. What are some of your most popular songs and music videos? 

Karen:  My best-selling album is the one about Princess Diana and I have put many of those songs on YouTube.  My children’s songs are popular, and I have a family musical – From Generation to Generation that has a lot of fun and beautiful songs.  My children’s math album, You’re Math-errific, also does really well.

InFluential:  Where may people find your music? 

Karen:  My website – JMRProductions.com and on CDbaby.com, Spotify, and iTunes. Just type in my name – Karen Javitch and you can find my music!

‘Princess Diana: the Musical’ Playing in Theaters Across U.S.

Written by Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

 

With July 29th having marked the 38th anniversary of the marriage between Princess Diana and Prince Charles, it’s a poignant reminder of how beloved “Princess Di” was in life and so remains in death. With this in mind, award-winning singer-songwriter Karen Sokolof Javitch has written the “Princess Diana: the Musical” that spotlights Princess’ relationship with Prince Charles, focusing on their courtship, marriage and divorce.

“The marriage is still the most watched royal wedding in history,” notes Javitch. “Millions still remember how Princess Diana omitted the word ‘obey’ for the first time ever in a royal wedding, and so began a reverence for this maverick royal.”

For this touching, one-of-a-kind musical, Javitch wrote all 32 of the songs, arranged by Chuck Penington of Mannheim Steamroller, which reflect Diana’s transition from being an unknown 19-year old to becoming one of the most famous women in the world. Not surprisingly, the musical is gaining in popularity and has been produced by theater groups and troupes in multiple cities across the United States.

Musical theater buffs may listen to one of the songs from the show, “There Was a Time,” that was the main song to “Princess Diana: The Musical,” here and the full array of songs may be accessed on Javitch’s web site here.

Besides Javitch having co-written four musicals performed throughout America, she’s also produced no less than 15 albums with original music and was the creator and co-host of a popular radio show, “It’s the Beat.” Her family-friendly music includes a variety of songs about exercising and good health, celebrities, holidays, weddings, politics, children, babies, education, patriotism, love and family.  Also philanthropic, Javitch has raised over $350,000 for national and local charities through her original music.

Especially this month, Javitch’s Princess Diana: the Musical represents one phenomenon celebrating another—a noble endeavor indeed. 


As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist. As prolific consumer trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. The best-of-the-best across all product, service and travel categories—as well as noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers—are spotlighted in her exclusive cross-media platform that reaches multi-millions each month through several syndication channels: print and online publications as well as broadcast TV and terrestrial radio. Connect with her at
www.TheLuxeList.com / Instagram www.Instagram.com/LuxeListReviews / Twitter www.Twitter.com/LuxeListEditor / Facebook www.Facebook.com/TheLuxeList / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided at no cost or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***

Join Big Brothers Big Sisters for, Ice Ball 2019, Austin’s Brightest Gem

ICE BALL 2019

Saturday, August 24th

6 PM – Midnight

Fairmont Austin Hotel

Join Big Brothers Big Sisters for Austin’s brightest gem, the Ice Ball gala. Enjoy cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, seated dinner, live and silent auctions, live music, dancing and more! Tickets to Ice Ball  include admission to The BIG After, Ice Ball’s official after-party. Visit https://www.bigmentoring.org/ice-ball for all the juicy details.  

GUIDE: The Best Places to Catch Your Fave Celeb in ATX

While events like SXSW and Austin City Limits Fest draw floods of celebrities to Austin, it doesn’t mean that the city doesn’t play host to famous folks throughout the rest of the year. From the Intercontinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel downtown to Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, here’s a cheat sheet to spotting a celebrity in the Music Capital of the World on any given day.

Stephen F.’s Bar & Terrace at the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel 

Standing tall next to Austin’s iconic Paramount Theater and located in the heart of downtown, Stephen F’s Bar & Terrace offers a hot spot for celebs looking to stop by for late-night cocktails after major events or shows. With ideal views of Austin, along with creative cocktails, an incredible whiskey selection, and delicious bites, Stephen F’s Bar & Terrace also features a private lounge area, The Whisper Room, perfect for celebs looking for more private outings — complete with its own terrace overlooking downtown Austin, elegant tableside cocktails, and a full cigar selection. Notable celeb visits include the likes of Austin native Matthew McConaughey, David Spade, Charlize Theron, Eva Mendez & Ryan Gosling, Lance Bass, Joan Rivers and more.

The Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, TX

Photography courtesy of Kenny Braun.

Photography courtesy of Kenny Braun.

Originally founded over half a century ago in 1967, The Salt Lick has become one of the most popular and successful BBQ restaurants in the country. With three locations across Texas, including an expansive vineyard and multiple private event spaces at the original location in Driftwood, The Salt Lick offers guests, including celebs, chefs, musicians, and tastemakers from around the world a place to relax and enjoy some of the best BBQ while they visit Austin and Central Texas. Well-known guests and endorsers have included folks like David Letterman, Neil Patrick Harris, Anthony Bourdain, Adam Richman, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray, Kelly Ripa & Mark Consuelos, Kyle Chandler, Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, Willie Nelson, Jerry Bruckheimer, Ron Howard, U2, Matt LeBlanc, Ron White, Robert Rodriguez, Portugal. The Man, and countless others such as current and past elected officials like former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Circuit of The Americas 

COTA Tower

COTA Tower

As the only purpose-built Grand Prix facility in the United States designed for all classes of racing, Circuit of The Americas welcomes celebrities from all over to experience high-adrenaline racing year round, and heading to the track is a surefire way to spot celebrities in Central Texas. The MotoGP Red Bull Grand Prix of The Americas at COTA has seen celebs including Keanu Reeves, Channing Tatum, and Kyle Chandler. Race fans like Gerard Butler, Gordon Ramsey, Lindsey Vonn, Venus Williams, Bill Clinton, Matthew McConaughey, and Gayle King among many others have been spotted at the Formula 1 Pirelli United States Grand Prix. Jesse Metcalfe and Colt McCoy ushered in the inaugural IndyCar Classic at COTA this year.

Kemuri-Tatsuya

Puff Puff Pass and Matcha Painkiller.  Photography courtesy of  Julia Keim.

Puff Puff Pass and Matcha Painkiller. Photography courtesy of Julia Keim.

Kemuri Tatsu-Ya, from the Tatsu-Ya Family behind acclaimed concepts Ramen Tatsu-Ya, Domo Alley-Gato, and DipDipDip Tatsu-Ya, offers ample comfort and adventure for guests seeking both. The Texas-influenced Japanese izakaya has achieved national acclaim, including Bon Appetit Best New Restaurant in 2017, Restaurants of the Year 2018 in Food & Wine, as well as a Best New Restaurants James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalist — and has become a hot spot for celebrities like Patton Oswalt, David Chang, Dan the Automator, and Action Bronson, especially during SXSW.