Volunteering in New Orleans (where they still need a lot of help)
Common Ground Relief effort in New Orleans

Volunteering in New Orleans (where they still need a lot of help)

All along the block in the middle-class Lakeview neighborhood where the Strauss family lives, less than a mile from the 17th Street Canal levee break, are houses in various stages of construction. Some are still boarded up; others are brand new, with flowers planted outside. Fewer than half the houses in the neighborhood are occupied.

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MEETING THE FOLKS BEHIND THE MOUSE’S MAGIC
Disney from the inside

MEETING THE FOLKS BEHIND THE MOUSE’S MAGIC

They are Imagineers. That means they spend their workdays (and probably a lot of work nights) dreaming up and ultimately implementing new attractions for Disney parks and resorts around the world. There are about 1,000 Imagineers, 750 of whom work in Glendale, Calif., in an office building (once a cosmetics factory) that has tighter security than many government buildings.

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Families working to help the Strausses get back into their home
Volunteers at the Strauss home in New Orleans

Families working to help the Strausses get back into their home

Eleven year old Izzie Alley, who is from suburban New York, is looking around the converted garage where the Strauss Family is living while their house is being rebuilt in…

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It’s New Orleans — LET’S EAT!
Brennans Restaurant in New Orleans

It’s New Orleans — LET’S EAT!

I think New Orleans is a great city to encourage kids to sample food they might not have tried before (Turtle Soup, or fried alligator anyone?) Every restaurant has its own version of gumbo, the rich seafood stew. But there are also plenty of places to get a burger, pasta or chicken fingers. Here’s just a sampling of the good eats I enjoyed in my few days in New Orleans recently. And I certainly left my diet at home (unfortunately).

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New Orleans — a Tale of Two Cities
Jackson Square in New Orleans

New Orleans — a Tale of Two Cities

This is a tale of two cities -- literally. Walk the narrow streets of the French Quarter, where I was staying in the historic Hotel Monteleone with its Carousel Bar that turns (once a haven for writers) and the city that was devastated by hurricane Katrina in Aug 2005 seems back to normal. But go just a few miles, and it’s clear to see that all is not yet well in New Orleans.

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HEARING WHAT KIDS THINK ABOUT CRUISING

There are all the other kids onboard (more than a million children cruise every year, reports the Cruise Lines International Association, more than 1,000 on each Disney ship) and organized kids' and teen activities from morning until night. "You'll find a friend on the first day," promises Brooke Abzug, 10, who likes the shipboard scavenger hunts staged by the kids' clubs.

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A LAST-MINUTE SPRING BREAK
Spring Break Ideas

A LAST-MINUTE SPRING BREAK

What are you waiting for? Spring Break is looming and you haven't planned a getaway. We're not talking a Big Trip -- a cruise, for example, or an adventure trip to Costa Rica, though, according to Travelzoo.com, there are good last-minute deals to be had in Costa Rica.

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You can have fun and help out in New Orleans

I just got back from New Orleans and it was packed with spring breakers. They were doing their share of drinking on Bourbon Street but they were also doing their share of helping to clear debris and build houses in neighborhoods that still have not rebounded nearly three years after Hurricane Katrina.

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