Review: Thomas & Friends Play and Watch App

Like many other preschoolers, my little dude is absolutely fascinated by Thomas & Friends. There’s something about those quirky locomotives and their daily duties that mesmerizes their audience. 

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Designed to further engage young fans of the show, Thomas & Friends has released a brand new app from PBS Kids called, Thomas & Friends Watch and Play app.  There are three problem solving games that encourage open-ended play: Track Builder, Track Repair and Steam Team Snapshots. I totally thought the snapshot game was a photo app to take selfies. ha! Not quite. These games are fun for preschoolers to explore and create on their own. I appreciate that the graphics are just as robust on these games, as they are on the show. 

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In addition to the three games, Thomas and Friends features a video player that showcases episodes within an interactive frame that kids can pretend to be the conductor.

Thomas and Friends Watch and Play is available now for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and costs $2.99. The app is rated for 4+, but my 2.5 year old could navigate through most of the app on his own. This is the first Thomas app that offers full-length episodes, in addition to games that promote problem-solving. Waiting in the doctor’s office with a restless preschooler just got a little bit easier!

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We had a great time getting a sneak peek of Thomas and Friends Watch and Play app, and we had a lot to say about it. Check out our video as we navigate through the app for the first time:

 

Full disclosure: I received a promo code to facilitate this review. As always, opinions are my own on NKT.

2014 Best Baby Gifts

Since this year was the year of the baby within my circle of friends and family, I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite baby products from the year. Beyond all the typical baby gifts, my favorite baby gifts to give and receive are always the practical ones. So, here are just a few of my faves:

 

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1. O-Ball Linky Loops

This cool take on the classic links provide a modern aesthetic while giving babies great grasping toys to play with and chew on while in a carrier or stroller. Links are always some of my favorite toys because you can link them together and attach other toys to the carrier.

2. Cloud B 

Cloud B makes some of the coolest illuminating toys that are perfect for baby’s nurseries. The Tranquil Turtle combines soothing sounds with a relaxing glow, giving it a tranquil, almost spa-like feel for babies and kids to enjoy as they fall asleep.

3. Stokke Trailz

Stokke entered the all terrain territory with its new Stokke Trailz stroller. This sleek stroller merges that chic Scandinavian design with function. Like their other strollers,Stokke Trailz boasts an elevated seat and ample storage. This new stroller allows families to navigate all terrains, whether it’s bumpy city streets of unpredictable surfaces in the country.

4. Hape Roller Derby

Some of the best toys for babies are the ones that are kid-powered. Hape is one of my absolute favorite brands for fine wooden toys, and this Roller Derby is no exception. Babies and kids love ramps and balls, so the Roller Derby offers the best of both worlds.

5. Little Me

Perhaps some of the best gifts for babies, or rather the parents, are well-made classic clothes.  Little Me makes some of the most beautiful clothes for babies and toddlers. The fabric is soft and durable, yet classic and age appropriate. I love that you can invest in their clothes and pass them down to younger siblings or other families.

6. Aden and Anais

Aden and Anais seems to always make it onto my baby gift list, and all for good reason. I love their products and so do kids! I’m currently coveting the Dream Blanket, and will actually be getting my little dude this dream blanket for Christmas. He’s grown out of his baby blanket and has always loved the muslin blankets from A&A. This bigger size will accommodate kids and adults too!

7. Tommee Tippee

Tommee Tippee is another all-time favorite baby brand, quite simply because the products work well for us. The Truly Spill Proof Straw Cup is one of our most used kid products right now, so I am going to be getting a few more as stocking stuffers! These Sippys are one of the only ones that I know won’t leak and they use the straw design which is what I need for my growing toddler.

8. Stride Rite

Another all-time favorite practical baby gifts are Stride Rite shoes. The thing about Stride Rite is that they fit well and always look sharp. I appreciate the SRT Technology that Stride Rite employs in some of their early walker shoes, which helps to stabilize those wobbly baby feet. 

Lenscrafters Provides Total Eye Care For the Family

Over the summer, I was invited to a lovely event in downtown NYC to check out the latest and greatest in eyeglasses from Lenscrafters. Lenscrafters, well known for being a total eye care solution for families, provided an informative forum as we perused the latest offerings of glasses.

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I had the chance to speak to several eye doctors to learn about helpful information to share with all of you.

Reports show that 1 in 4 kids have an undiagnosed vision problem. Lenscrafters suggests that the start of the new school year is an ideal time to make sure kids are seeing their best. But if you ask me, the start of a new year is a good time to start fresh, too!

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And because we’re a big sports family, I found this stat particularly interesting:

Nearly 22 million kids between the ages of 6 and 17 play sports. When playing sports it’s essential for kids to have the right eyewear so that they can see clearly and perform their best, including protective eyewear such as sunglasses.

Beyond the stats, it’s always interesting to hear what the experts have to say firsthand. At the Lenscrafters event, we spoke to several eye doctors who shared great information that had me rethinking my thoughts eyewear. 

“Kids receive more than three times the annual sun exposure that adults do because they seldom wear sunglasses and their eyes are especially susceptible to UV-related harm,” says Dr. Mark Jacquot, O.D., Lenscrafters’ senior director of eye  care.

“Make sure children wear sunglasses all of the time they are outdoors, and make sure the lenses provide 100 percent UVA and UVB protection.”

Lenscrafters makes eye care for families easier. Not only do they have highly regarded in-house eye doctors, the glasses are put together for you there too. The turn around time can’t be beat.

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With all of the different glasses and sunglasses Lenscrafters offers, it’s great to know they have simplified things, especially for indecisive people like me. Described as a virtual mirror, the My Look App harnesses technology to help provide a better look at your choices. I love the way it lays out all the great choices on one screen, with YOUR look!

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The opticians at Lenscrafters are always so helpful, yet not too pushy. Having an app to help choose glasses makes the decision that much easier. For kids, Lenscrafters offers a variety of brands that appeal to kids, including Disney, Polo and Oakley, among others. I personally love the Disney frames with the cool details on the sides.

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As a kid, I remember hating my glasses; with choices like these, glasses for kids are much more appealing. Though my guy doesn’t need glasses, he was practically begging for the fun Disney frames!

 

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Because my prescription was pretty minimal, I went with new reading glasses and Biggie went with some super cool Oakleys. Our optician was super patient when we were going through the options. So, for indecisive customers like us, this is huge.

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In the end, we absolutely love our choices and couldn’t have asked for a better total eye care experience. For busy parents, eye care is one of those necessary tasks that we all wish could be easier, and thanks to Lenscrafters, it is! I appreciate that Lenscrafters offers everything in house and is an overall great experience. 

 

Full disclosure:

We were provided with complimentary products and eye exams to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

A Day at the New York Children’s Theater: The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess

One of the many advantages of having NYC in our backyard is that we have easy access to the arts. Even better, we have access to art programs that involve children! New York City Children’s Theater is one of the many wonderful cultural resources that’s within reach, and we’re so grateful for that!

A few weeks ago, we were invited to visit the New York City Children’s Theater to enjoy the debut show of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess.  New York City Children’s Theater is well known for making books sing, and Barbara Zinn Krieger did just that with this production. Laurie Berkner wrote the songs and lyrics, which made this production fantastic and fun.

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The story follows the pursuits of a mime named Harvey and what happens when he encounters a spoiled princess. Harvey’s friends and the princess’ parents add some fun and giggles to the stage.  
The set was a simple stage, transformed by various boxes and lights. The main characters, Laura Hankin and Ben Laxton, engaged young children while bringing a lovely story to life. Sarah Charles and Liam Fennecken seamlessly morphed into multiple characters, bridging the best parts of the story with imagination and grace.

 

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Harvey, the main character and child mime, was fun and silly. Ben Laxton was convincing and charismatic as he made his way from the seaport in a box all the way to the princess’ home. Princess Mindy was bratty but bold. I loved her solos and animated tantrums which elicited a few giggles from the crowd. Sarah Charles’ Gert and queen characters were fun and formidable. Charles’ voice was mesmerizing and well suited for her royal role. Fennecken’s Gert and king characters rounded out the ensemble with his hilarious portrayals and regal role.

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The music and lyrics, without a doubt, were a highlight of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess. Throughout the production, with the upbeat accompaniment and cheerful, catchy songs, it was evident that Berkner lent her talents to this wonderful play. The guitar, keyboard and percussion instruments playfully sustained the tone of the play, enhancing the fun characters and coloring the words with smiles. Berkner fans (like us) will appreciate this fun production, and even the sweet surprise song for the encore.

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The New York City Children’s Theater’s production of The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess is a treat for music and theater-loving families. I appreciate that this is a preschooler-friendly production that keeps even the littlest theater-goer engaged. It was so fun to take my 2-year old to this his production, which is based on the book called Harvey the Child Mime written and illustrated by Loryn Brantz. At just 50 minutes long, The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess was a great timeframe for kids and parents.  

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The Amazing Adventures of Harvey and the Princess is playing at the New York Children’s Theater at Theater 3 311 W. 43rd st., 3rd floor until December 7. 

Peapod Celebrates 25 Years of Online Grocery Shopping + Review

Twenty-five years ago, the internet was hardly a blip on the radar, yet innovative websites were starting to bloom. In fact, in 1989, the era of floppy disk and dial up, brothers Thomas and Andrew Parkinson developed Peapod, the first online grocery store.  64 million bananas ordered and twenty five years later, Peapod has changed the way we think about grocery shopping, and quite simply, has made life easier.

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I’ve tried my hand at all the online grocery stores, but Peapod is one I don’t get to use all that often.  So, in honor of Peapod’s 25th anniversary, I was thrilled to be able to take the service for a spin once again.

The online site features a user friendly interface. It’s easy to navigate, has clear instructions and a functional search tool. When you first log in to Peapod, it asks you to pick a delivery or pick up option and time.  Keep in mind: if you logout or end your session, you’ll have to reconfigure the delivery or pickup.  This is my main grievance with online grocery shopping. I’m one of those people who always forgets things so I need to go back to the grocery store on the fly. I appreciate the way the specials and sales are highlighted; this is something I look for since I try to buy things on sale to match them up with coupons.

 

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I bought mostly produce, deli meat and fresh meat, so I didn’t have a chance to use many coupons, other than what was offered on the site.  The site is organized by categories and the photos of each product is clear with the information and price posted concisely. Some of my recipe sites have the option of creating a grocery list, which is helpful if you’re organized.

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That said, Peapod has a tab that features lists that you can create. Peapod allows you to configure your lists in three different categories: it has a Past Purchases, My Specials and Personal Lists. Past Purchases is especially helpful if you buy the same sort of food every week. If you’re in a big hurry, be sure to check out the Express Shop tab which allows you to enter your list and Peapod then finds the items for you. Easy peasy!

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As always, the actual shopping part is a lengthy process for me. After I was able to narrow down my grocery list, I found it extremely easy to enter my shopper rewards information and then my payment information. It was fast, secure and straight forward.

Since I opted for the pick up method, it was helpful to arrive at the store and be able to park at the front at the designated Peapod pick up spots. I waited just two-three minutes and called the number listed on the sign.

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The delivery person saw me since I was the only person waiting for groceries. She quickly loaded my groceries from the outside storage unit and then promptly placed my groceries in my trunk. I loved not having to get out of the car, but I did step out to say thank you. This was my only verbal exchange with the Peapod worker.

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Though it was quick and efficient transaction, it was also impersonal. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it was just something I noticed since I’m so used to speaking to people at the grocery store. Above all, on that cold and rainy day that I chose to pick up groceries, I loved not having to disturb a sleeping toddler to go grocery shop. This, in itself, was worth the pick up fee.

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Speaking of fees, prices vary for Peapod.com depending on delivery or pick up. For deliveries over $60, it’s $9.95. For deliveries over $100, it’s $6.95. The Pick Up Fee runs you about $2.95 I live on a hill so we have a lot of stairs. On these freezing winter days, the delivery fee is worth every penny. You just have to reserve your delivery slot early!

 

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As for food prices at Stop and Shop, I felt they were on the more expensive side. I hit Costco every two weeks for our most-used items, so it was a bit difficult for me to pay almost twice the amount of certain items just to have them delivered. I paid about $75 for several bags of essential items; and quite frankly, these items barely made it to the end of the week. So, if you’re a frugal grocery shopper, shopping online and having it delivered might not be an every-week scenario for you.  Most of the stuff I bought was pre-packed which attributed to the higher price, including the fresh meat and produce. I know someone commented on my Instagram photo, worried about the produce selection when someone else picks it for you. I was pleased with everything I bought, and even more impressed with the packaging of certain items that aren’t typically packaged when I shop elsewhere.

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The convenience and accessibility that Peapod.com allows you is worth the investment and time and sanity saved scouring the store with kids who may have not be cooperative or downright tantrum-y.  For parents who work outside of the home, having this convenience is yet another way to simplify the day to day rituals, giving you more time at home.

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Above all, Peapod is a revolutionary online grocery shopping portal that takes the brainwork out of an otherwise tedious task. Peapod allows you to save time and effort, while bringing your groceries to your doorstep or trunk! Here’s to 25+ more years, Peapod!

Full disclosure: I was provided with a promo code to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

 

 

 

 

Cyber Monday Deals for Kid Gifts

It’s Cyber Monday, you guys, and the deals are out in full force today!  I thought I’d share a quick roundup from my favorite stores and shops. Happy shopping!

Gamestop 

One of my favorite deals for the day, or should I say, week: Gamestop has extended their deals to go all week long. So, if you’re on the hunt for some deals on Disney Infinity or Skylanders Trap Team, before you go anywhere else, check out Gamestop.  

 

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Here are their posted deals:

New Hardware

•$70 off Xbox One Holiday Value Bundle ($329.99) and $50 off Xbox 360 500GB Holiday Value Bundle ($199.99) – available only online

New Video Games & Accessories

•$20 off new video game titles for Xbox 360 and PS3: NBA 2K15 ($39.99), Borderlands the Pre Sequel ($39.99), WWE 2K15 ($39.99); and $10 off BioShock Infinite Complete ($29.99) – available only online

•Free Great White Shark and Bull Shark cards with purchase of PS3 Grand Theft Auto V video game ($30 value) – available only online

•$20 off Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Spider Racing Wheel ($79.99) – available online and in stores

 

Cyber Monday deals offered all week, include:

Pre-owned Video Game Consoles and Titles, and Consumer Electronics

•PlayStation 3 console bundles for only $199.99 and Xbox 360 console bundle for only $149.99 – available only online

•Wii console bundle for only $89.99 and Nintendo DS bundle for only $69.99 – available online and in stores

•Various Xbox 360 video game bundles ranging from $9.99 – $34.99, and PS3 video game bundles ranging from $19.99 – $59.99 – available online and in stores

•$50 off Nexus 7” tablet – available online and in stores

•Apple iPhone 4 staring at $99.99 – available online and in stores*

PC Games

•Save 75% on Sid Meier’s Civilization V ($7.49) – available online and in stores

•Save up to 95% off on select PC download games – available online and in stores

Gymboree

Like they did on Black Friday, Gymboree is offering 50% off of everything online and there’s no minimum.  Gymboree is one of my can’t miss destinations on Black Friday, especially because you can use a coupon at the store. I just checked a few coupons and it doesn’t look like you can pair them with Cyber Monday, but it’s worth a shot.  This is a great chance to pick up pieces for those Holiday outfits and to stock up for next year by clearing out the clearance rack!  The quality of Gymboree’s clothes at these prices can’t be beat! Some restrictions apply, be sure to check out the fine print on their site.

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Amazon

As expected, the mecca for online shopping, Amazon.com, has some of the best deals for Cyber Monday. I’m personally addicted to Amazon Prime, so I am planning on taking advantage of several of these great deals. But since we focus on everything for kids and families, I thought I’d highlight some of the best deals on toys and games:

Toys & Games:

  • 50% off select LeapFrog toys
  • Buy One, get one 50% off select Blue Orange Game (We love the Pengoloo game from Blue Orange Game!)
 
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And here’s the rest of their awesome deals:

Electronics:

  • Sony 40-inch 1080p LED TV, $298
  • LG 49-inch Smart 4K Ultra HD LED TV, $999 plus 15% back in rewards (no signup required)
  • Samsung 40-inch 1080p LED TV, $298
  • 15% back in rewards on select LG Smart LED Premium TVs (no signup required)
  • Up to $50 Amazon.com credit with purchase of SONOS wireless speakers
  • $30 off select Bose headphones
  • Kids Cameras at unbelievable prices
  • Top-selling digital camera, $70 off
  • Acer Chromebook at $149
  • HP 110-430 Desktop + 2371d 23-inch Monitor Bundle — $299.99
  • 25% off new iHome Bluetooth Executive Music Station
  • 25% off new splash-proof Philips DOT Bluetooth speakers

 

 

 

Books, Movies and Music

  • Up to 50% off popular books including Guinness World Records 2015, What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey and The Cook’s Illustrated Meat Book
  • Save up to 57% on over 12,000 movies & TV shows on DVD and Blu-ray including House of Cards: Season 2Lone Survivor, and The Dark Knight Trilogy

 

Kitchen:

 

Tools and Home Improvement:

 

Patio, Lawn & Garden:

 

Home:

 

Automotive:

 

Pet Supplies:

 

Industrial & Scientific:

  • 3D printer under $400

 

Wine:

  • Amazon Wine will feature deep discounts starting at 60% off on over 100 unique wines

 

Fashion:

  • Puffers for women, $34.99 and under
  • Puffers for men, $24.99 and under
  • Save 50-70% off cold weather outerwear and accessories for boys and girls
  • Save 40% off Cole Haan for men
  • Save 50% off Kenneth Cole Reaction boots for girls and boys
  • Save 50-70% off Nautica for girls
  • Save 60-70% off U.S. Polo Association for boys
  • 4-piece pajama sets for girls and boys, $15 and under
  • Hello Kitty clothing for girls, $15 and Under
  • Save Up to 60% off Quiksilver for baby boys

 

Jewelry & Accessories:

  • 50% off FRYE Women’s Wyatt Harness Short Western Boot
  • Save 60% off the Amazon exclusive Antonia Satchel from Cole Haan
  • Kenneth Cole Reaction leather messenger bag, $39.99
  • Versace “Dafne” Watches, starting at 70% off
  • Stuhrling Automatics, 50% off everyday price
  • Save 50% off Lego Movie Watch 2 pack – Batman & Superman
  • 14K gold 0.5 carat diamond stud earrings, $299
  • Myia Passiello Swarovski 6 cttw Round Stud Earrings, $23.99
  • 1928 Holiday Necklace, $19.99

 

Sports:

  • Save 25% off Withings O2 Pulse
  • Save 20% off the TRX Suspension Trainer
  • Save 25% off big logo hoodies from Under Armour

 

Outdoor:

  • Schwinn Discover Men’s Hybrid Bike, $179.99
  • Schwinn Discover Women’s Hybrid Bike, $179.99

 

Baby:

  • Save up to 40% off Stork Craft Dressers
  • Save 35% off select Graco swings, playards, and more
  • BABYBJORN Baby Carrier Active in white mesh, $69.99
  • More than 40% off The First Years True Fit IAlert C685 Car Seat (select colors)

 

Beauty:

  • Save up to $30 on Oral Care including Oral-B Electric Toothbrushes and Crest Whitening products
  • Save up to $100 on men’s grooming including Braun and Panasonic shavers
  • Save 30% off FMS-270H Foot Massager
  • Save 30% off Baxter of California shaver’s skincare kit
  • Hair styling tools including hair dryers, flat and curling irons from Remington, John Frieda, Remington, Conair, and Revlon, starting at 20% off
  • Save 20% off Conair Sonic Facial Skincare System
  • MANGROOMER body groomer and hair shaver, starting at 20% off
  • Save 25% off Axe toiletry bag
  • Save 40% off Conair P1AM sound therapy pillow

 

Be sure to head to Amazon.com to take advantage of these great deals!

 

Melissa and Doug

One of my favorites for kids’ toys and gifts, Melissa and Doug, has some pretty awesome deals for Cyber Monday! I especially love the $20 off $100 and free gift of Holiday Cookies Wooden Play Food Set for purchases of $50 or more.

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A Look Behind the Scenes at Macy’s Parade Studio

Tucked away in an industrial area of Moonachie, NJ, artists, builders and welders toil away in preparation for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. From the unsuspecting exterior, you’d never know that the office building that overlooks a distant NYC skyline houses the makings of magical displays and festooned floats. The 72,000 square foot building is home to Macy’s Parade Studio, which builds and designs many of the floats and balloons featured in the storied Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

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After a 40-year stint in Hoboken, Macy’s Parade Studio has called Moonachie, NJ home for the past three years. From this studio, floats of all different shapes and sizes are designed, produced and assembled before the big day—Thanksgiving Day. 

  

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As families gather together, whether in-person along the parade route or in front of the tv to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, many hands had a part in the preparation for the festivities. Macy’s Parade Studio’s team of designers, carpenters, animators, metal fabricators and electricians are responsible for bringing creativity to life. As these creations come to fruition, the team must factor in logistics so that they’re able to make it from the Studio through the Lincoln Tunnel and safely to its Upper West Side destination by ensuring the floats can collapse to no more than 12.5 ft. tall and 8-ft. wide. And before the floats and balloons head for its grand NYC stage, we got a glimpse at the Macy’s Parade Studio for a firsthand look at some of the newest additions to this year’s parade. 

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This year, the parade lineup boasts the most new character balloons ever assembled, along with five new floats. Timeless classic Paddington Bear, Pikachu, Pillsbury Doughboy, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, Skylanders’ Eruptor and Thomas the Tank Engine will take flight for the first time. Returning balloons include favorites Adventure Time, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Elf on the Shelf, Hello Kitty, Papa Surf, Ronald McDonald, Snoopy and Woodstock, Spiderman, SpongeBob and Toothless. 

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I had the chance to participate in a Q&A with Macy’s Parade Studio VP John Piper, who gave us a lot of really interesting background info on the parade, the new floats and how they get those floats from New Jersey to NYC.  

Cracker Jack Popcorn, Beauty of Beijing, Dora and Friends, Goldieblox and Pirate’s Booty will debut as new floats this year. Inspired by America’s pastime, the Cracker Jack float’s modern baseball theme will be a home run with its live cameras, giving spectators a chance see themselves on LED screens aboard the float and providing a surreal take on the ever-present selfie.

 

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Beauty of Beijing showcases ancient and contemporary elements of Chinese culture.

 

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Nickelodeon’s Dora and Friends’ float, full of vibrant colors and bright details, showcases Dora’s new home of Play Verde.

 

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The Girl-Powered Spinning Machine from Goldieblox brings creativity and engineering to life with a myriad of spinning gears, pinwheels, parachutes and jogging wheels.

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Meghan Trainor, pop star known for belting “All About that Bass,” will be performing on the GoldieBlox Girl-Powered Spinning Machine. Ubiquitous lunchbox staple, Pirate’s Booty Treasure Hunt pirate ship will make its inaugural voyage with its detailed Treasure map sail and plundering Pirate at the helm.

 

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New Jersey’s own B&G Foods, which is based in Parsippany, distributes Pirate’s Booty among other popular food and household brands.

 

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The 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will air Thursday, November 27, nationwide on NBC at 9am. The parade will step off at 77th Street and Central Park West and will travel down to Columbus Circle  and continue down 6th Ave to 34th street and make its final turn at 7th Ave. in front of Herald’s Square.

 

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade by the Numbers

16 Giant Character Balloons, 

33 Novelty/Ornament Balloons, balloonicles, balloon heads and trycaloons

27 floats,

1,300 cheerleaders and dancers

1000 clowns

12 marching bands

 
 
 

 

Town Shop Offers Great Selection of Maternity and Nursing Bras

I received compensation as part of my relationship with the Quality Blue Community.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Shopping in NYC is unlike any other experience. There’s a store for everything, and everything is always accessible. But with the prominence of big box stores, often the personalized shopping experience is sacrificed for the accessibility. 

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But something an NYC boutique gets right: an intimate and attentive shopping experience. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit the Upper West Side Institution, Town Shop. The lingerie and bra boutique that’s been family-owned for four generations capitalizes on its bra-fitting expertise, staying abreast on industry trends and their penchant for catering to their customers, whether its at their famed “bra bar” or one of the gorgeous fitting rooms.

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On the evening of my visit, I was greeted by the eye-catching fluorescent pink sign. The vertical sign, akin to a statement piece, has its own history, and one that current owner Danny Koch would tell me all about. Koch and his wife, Nicole, gave me a personal tour of the store. But before I had their undivided attention, Nicole attended to one of their last customers for the evening. Even minutes after the shop closed, Nicole carefully and charismatically assisted the customer, who had an urgency for a specific bra. Upon procuring THE bra for the customer, Nicole joined our conversation that outlined the storied history of Town Shop.

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In between the anecdotes that painted a picture of this unique boutique and its expansive selection of hosiery, bras and loungewear, Danny showed off the growing corner of maternity and nursing bras and garments. Several racks showcased everything from bras to nightgowns to loungewear, with many of my favorite specialty maternity brands in between. One bra in particular that caught my eye was the Cache Coeur, a French nursing bra that features a magnetic closure. Genius!

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Danny, who not only does the buying of merchandise for the store, works the floor alongside of the other fitters.  Danny detailed several other nursing bras and was able to tell me about each one and why he chose to sell it in Town Shop. All of the nursing bras were innovative and reflected the discerning taste of clientele that typically shops at Town Shop.

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In addition to the nursing bras, Town Shop has a great selection of pajamas and loungewear for pregnant and new moms. The maternity section boasted Belabumbum and Ingrid and Isabel cotton night gowns with nursing-friendly silhouettes and flattering cuts, among other maternity wear. I especially appreciated the stylish maternity swimwear, which is something quite difficult to find these days. The various bathing suits came in different cuts and in both one and two pieces.

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Beyond the nursing and maternity offerings, Town Shop touts an exceptional selection of undergarments of all colors, bathing suits and tights for all figures. I absolutely loved going around the store and learning about Nicole’s favorite things. The L.A.M.B. cami and Lysee tights were just a few of my favorites. (I’ve since added them to my Christmas List.) Not to be outdone by their selection or stellar customer service, Town Shop’s strength lies in their expertise for bra fitting.  As Danny and Nicole told me, they don’t use a measuring tape to fit their customers. Each bra, just like their customer, is different. Ultimately, the way a bra fits transcends a measurement. 

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I learned so much from Danny and Nicole Koch, but most importantly, I came away learning that bras have more than 30 moving parts, and that a good bra is a great investment. Town Shop has the knowledge and resources to help customers make educated decisions, especially when it comes to nursing and maternity wear.

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A big thank you to Danny and Nicole for taking the time to show me around Town Shop!

 

Penguins of Madagascar is a Smart and Funny Family Flick

The Penguins of Madagascar are back, and this time, they’re stars of their own movie. Produced by Dreamworks and distributed by 20th Century Fox, Penguins of Madagascar is a fast-paced and funny story about four penguin friends.

 

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Penguins of Madagascar, which hits theaters on Wednesday, November 26, sheds light into the backstory of the funny foursome: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private. The spinoff to the Madagascar franchise, the Penguins’ adventure follows their pursuits in preventing the peculiar Dr. Octavius Brine from taking over the world.

 

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Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private must work together with North Wind undercover agents while keeping their character in tact and eating as much Cheezy Dibbles along the way. Above all pursuits, Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private embrace their brotherhood and prove the importance of loyalty.

 

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Famous names lend their voices to this fun film: John Malkovich is Dave, Ken Jeong is hilarious as Short Fuse and Benedict Cumberbatch is Classified the gray wolf. Like other Dreamwork films, the humor in Penguins is witty and smart, relevant for the parental audience, but still silly and fun for the kid contingent.  With all the action, adventure and fun, Penguins has all the elements for fantastic family film and impeccably-timed for the holidays.

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In honor of the Penguins Movie, we were invited to a press junket in the City. Together with several other bloggers’ families, we enjoyed the day at the Bronx Zoo, where we toured the Madagascar exhibit and watched a private feeding of Magellanic Penguins and were treated to breakfast and lunch courtesy of Residence Inn. 

 

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After our day at the Bronx Zoo and following our screening of the Penguins of Madagascar, we were hosted at the new Central Park Residence Inn. Residence Inn and the Penguins have a partnership promoting the family travel experience, and we were quite fortunate to experience this partnership firsthand.

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Overlooking Central Park from a few blocks away, the Residence Inn is a convenient midtown location that’s close to a myriad of NYC tourist destinations.  The decor is modern and sleek, the complimentary breakfast is expansive and the rooms are cozy and comfortable; the Residence Inn is ideal for families who seek a midtown hotel with ample amenities.

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My kids were in amazement of the unbelievable views of the city from our room at the Residence Inn. As if watching the Penguins movie before anyone else wasn’t cool enough, getting to stay in a really cool hotel overlooking Central Park was certainly a highlight of the weekend.

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Check out Penguins of Madagascar on Wednesday, November 26!

 

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Residence Inn announced a promotion in line with their partnership with the Penguins of Madagascar release. Contestants can enter the Penguins Picture Mission contest on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram by reenacting their favorite “Penguins of Madagascar” pose with the hashtag #PenguinsMissionPromo between now and December 7. Contestants can enter up to six times, once per week. Each image will be generated into an online photo gallery, giving fans a chance to check out the competition.

 

The grand prize includes round trip airfare to Tampa for four, a three-night stay at the Residence Inn Tampa Downtown, four tickets to see “Madagascar Live! Operation Vacation” at Busch Gardens Tampa, two-day admission tickets for four at Busch Gardens Tampa, and more. Every week for six weeks, participants will also be entered to win prizes including a package of Madagascar DVDs and a $150 Residence Inn gift card.

 

Full disclosure: my family was hosted at the Bronx Zoo, Residence Inn and to a screening of the Penguins of Madagascar, with thanks to DreamWorks Animation and 20th Century Fox. A big thank you to Big Honcho Media and the studios for hosting my family on such a lovely event.

 

Partying with LeapFrog’s LeapTV

The other day, we had a mini-party to celebrate the weekend. And because we’re all about play, we were tasked to have a party with MommyParties to celebrate the launch of LeapFrog LeapTV .

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LeapTV is a new video gaming system from LeapFrog, the brains behind the LeapPad and LeapReader. With the LeapTV, kids can learn through motion as they jump, dance and go crazy. This system is unique because it was designed for kids specifically in the 3-8 year age range. The interface is simple and intuitive, the graphics are sharp, the motion-sensing camera puts kids front and center and the games are forward-thinking.

With LeapTv, there’s 3 unique ways to play: body motion, pointer play and classic control. Through these methods, kids get to experience fun games with plenty of educational content in between.

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I found LeapTV to be much more appealing than I had envisioned. I thought, “a kiddie gaming system?” I was certain I wasn’t going to like it, even though I’m a diehard LeapFrog fan. Truly, LeapTV exceeded every expectation and then some. From my delayed 2.5 year old to my gamer 7 year old, LeapTv satisfied both kids’ gaming desires. It was easy enough for the younger guy, yet engaging enough for my seven year old.

 

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At just $149, I think LeapTv is a great primer gaming system. LeapTV can be a bit redundant if you already own an Xbox or another gaming system that has a camera. It’s perfect for littler guys who express an interest in video games, yet can’t quite play any games on the Xbox. The camera and games geared for the smaller ones make this system appealing for families who aren’t ready to invest in a full blown gaming system. Above all, I loved watching my small and big guy interact together while they moved, grooved and reached for action words and slapped odd numbers. So fun! LeapFrog did it again with LeapTv!

Here’s a video we put together that showcases our LeapTv experience:

 

Full disclosure: I was provided with a review unit to facilitate this post, and to share with friends and family at our LeapTV party. Affiliate links are included in this post.