The Emoji Movie Review and Celebrity Interviews with Maya Rudolph, T.J. Miller, Jake T. Austin and more

Deep within our smartphones, a world of technology and emojis comprise a complicated and quirky world, according to Sony Pictures Animation’s new film, The Emoji Movie. While humans have never been more connected, the Emoji Movie divulges how the Emojis and the other citizens of Textopolis are disconnected in more ways than one.

IMG 6626

The Emoji Movie features the voices of T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Jake T. Austin, Christina Aguilera, Sofia Vergara and Sir Patrick Stewart, and is directed by Tony Leondis.

When the Meh Emoji, voiced by the hilarious T.J. Miller, is introduced at the beginning of the film, we learn that Gene (Meh) is anything but unimpressed about life. The Emojis are encouraged to maintain their one emotion and persona at all times, but Gene, an Emoji full of other emotions can’t help but reveal his true personality and range of other emotions. When Gene is tapped with putting his best ‘meh’ face when his user, Alex (Jake T. Austin,) needs him during a text conversation with a girl he likes, he freaks out and reveals his imperfections.

IMG 3174

Gene is then deemed a glitch by the Emoji leader, the superficial Smiler, voiced by Maya Rudolph. Threatened by Gene’s imperfections, Smiler enlists bots to destroy Gene, who, is then forced to run from Textopolis. On the lamb, Gene meets some fellow outcasts, including Hi-5 (James Corden) and the anti-conformist Jailbreak (Anna Faris).

The Emoji Movie examines the importance of friendship, loyalty and being true to yourself. As emojis and texting continues to be method of communication for many people, regardless of age, The Emoji Movie has impeccable timing. In a world where social media clouds in-person dialogue and encourages the unnecessary need for online popularity, Gene’s quest for discovering his genuine self and realizing the importance of true friendships is a lesson for the ages.

 

IMG 3220

The Emoji Movie is reminiscent of lighthearted storylines with an underlying message of other popular animated films like Wreck it Ralph and Inside Out. While there are so many parallels to other animated movies, The Emoji Movie conveys several important messages while telling a quirky story. The storyline line gets a bit complex and twisted at times, certainly much more verbose than a young grader schooler can comprehend. The literal bathroom humor and slapstick jokes might be enough to entertain the younger masses, and undoubtedly annoy the adult cynics. While it’s hard to take poop seriously, in this volatile climate in the “real world” this is exactly the kind of fun and comedy we need. The Emoji Movie was unexpectedly filled with more substance than I expected, and one that my kids can’t wait to watch.

In addition to screening the movie, along with several bloggers, Sony invited me, along with several fellow bloggers, to a series of interviews with the director and some of the talent.

 

IMG 3183

In our world at the moment, there’s a movement where not caring is considered cool. Director Tony Leondis says, “we wanted to show the opposite, in that caring and connecting with people IS cool. Who needs that in this world? We have enough of that.”

 

IMG 3201

As a parent of a tween who recently started to connect with his friends via texts on his iPod, internet safety and smart social media usage is more relevant than ever these days.

When asked about her thoughts on social media, cyber bullying and internet safety, Maya Rudolph, who voices the superficial and super-crazy Smiler, had a lot to say about parenting in the digital age.

“Being a parent today means you have to manage devices.” said Rudolph, a mom to 4 kids. “My kids are not on social media yet, but my daughter recently wanted to go on a site where she makes outfits. It gave me pause because there’s the anonymity aspect and option to give likes.” Rudolph went on to say that the need for likes and popularity contest isn’t something she wanted her kids exposed to at this age.

IMG 6617

Amid the often crazy context and elaborate storyline, The Emoji Movie does a great job delivering the message to its core audience that friendship and relationships transcend “likes” and popularity online. Real people require real in-person connections and genuine emotions. For a kids’ movie, I expected silly laughs and quirky characters. While it probably won’t go down as the theatrical masterpiece of the year, The Emoji Movie might go down as the movie that provided a reminder for everyone to examine the true value of their relationships and ongoing social media behavior. 

To take a page from page from Gene’s book, being different is what makes us who we are, so embrace the quirks that make you unique!

If you’re looking for a fun, lighthearted animated flick that the kids will dig, check out The Emoji Movie! The Emoji Movie is officially out in theaters nationwide today, July 28.

 

IMG 3175

Full disclosure: I was invited by Sony Pictures Animation to participate in a blogger roundtable. As always, all thoughts are my own.

Best in Show: Finds from the New York Baby Show

The other week, Josh and I spent the afternoon at the New York Baby Show at Pier 94 scouring the booths for the latest and greatest in baby gear. From well trusted names in car seats to gadgets helping to create smart nurseries, there were so many new products featured at the New York Baby Show.

IMG 2905 JPG

We searched high and low, snapped tons of pics, peeked into many booths and found a really great selection of gear from baby brands that we love, as well as products from new and upcoming companies!

Here are just a few of the many great products we spotted at this year’s New York Baby Show:

Pello

With is gorgeous textiles and poufy circular shape, Pello is described as a luxury newborn lounger. This new take on a pillow can be used for feeding or for a convenient way to help baby sit somewhat upright during his/her waking hours. When baby outgrows the newborn phase, this pillow looks ideal for helping to support during the sitting up and standing phases.IMG 2941 JPG 

Pello has a great selection of colors and fabrics. It can be found on Amazon and retails for $120.

Sage Spoonfuls

A longtime fan of Sage Spoonfuls, I love watching this baby feeding brand flourish. I’m so excited about the Happy Foodie stainless steel divided plate and lid. Plastic plates and feeding ware are among the first items to go in my house because they are the most used and abused. Our stainless steel lunchboxes have lasted 5+ years. 

IMG 2962 JPG

So, I can only imagine how well the Sage Spoonfuls Happy Foodie product line will do. Safe, non-toxic, BPA, lead and phthalate-free and easy to clean!

Britax Frontier

Since we first shopped for carseats 10 years ago, Britax has been one of my all time favorite baby brands. This is, yet, another brand that I’ve loved watching flourish and working with over the years. I was so excited to see the various new strollers and carseats on display, but what truly caught my eye was the Frontier booster.

 

IMG 2988 JPG

 

We are solidly in the booster phase with my preschooler, so boosters have been on the brain. This new fabric is chic and unique; combining safety with style is something that Britax does so well. And speaking of safety, the Britax Frontier’s Click Tight Technology makes car seat installation as easy as buckling a seatbelt. This technology is designed to be seamless, especially for families who travel frequently or need to switch seats regularly. Click Tight is a game changer!

IMG 2993 JPG

IMG 2991 JPG

 

Volvo

And speaking of traveling, I loved that my dream car brand was at the New York Baby Show. I’ve been eyeing Volvo’s SUVs for quite some time. Sadly, the price tag hasn’t been in the budget.

IMG 2996 JPG

We decided that this specific Volvo was too small for our needs, what with our year-round sports, lake gear and coaching equipment.  Nevertheless, it’s fun getting a peek at my dream car at the Baby Show. Josh loved sitting in the driver’s seat and checking out the trunk. 

 

IMG 2997 JPG

IMG 3004 JPG

IMG 3014

With thanks to Momtrends, we enjoyed meeting up with fellow bloggers in the Blogger Lounge, as well as livestreamed our favorite finds from the show. My little guy loved having the chance to play! 

IMG 2915 JPG

IMG 2910 JPG

 

Above all, we loved checking out all the awesome goodies and gear at the New York Baby Show. Stay tuned for more fun finds!

 

IMG 2962 JPG

New York Baby Show Free Ticket Giveaway

As Spring starts to roll in, so do more fun events in the City and around town. Always on the hunt for new and innovative baby and kid products, I’m thrilled that the New York Baby Show is once again docking on the West Side at Pier 94 in NYC. This great event showcases many of the coolest gear and gadgets for babies and kids. I love bringing the whole family to the show to scout out new gear for babes and the site.

26983017281 34528c308a b 2

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of my favorite parenting experts and famed pediatrician, will be one of the speakers at the New York Baby Show. There’s a long list of great exhibitors, including 4moms, Tula, Britax, Clek, Cybex, among other favorite baby and family brands.

Are you expecting or have a little and looking for the best baby gear, I definitely recommend heading to the New York Baby Show taking place May 20-21. Tickets are $30 per family or $20 for individuals.

And because we’re such fans of the New York Baby Show, I’m so excited to give away some free tickets to the show. I have 10 tickets to giveaway, and you can grab them here. These free tickets are first come first serve.

NYBS2017 Ticket Giveaway Blog 700x500 2

Once the free tickets are gone, I’m happy to share 50% off tickets to the New York Baby Show. To grab this discount, please head here. 

New Year, New Toys, New Toy Storage

Hi everyone! I hope your the New Year has been kind and generous to you thus far! I’m still reeling from the Holidays and our trip back home. 

To be honest, we’ve been home a week and I’m still wrapping my brain around purging BEFORE I can unpack completely. I’ve been pinning playroom storage, office organization and overall de-cluttering. I’ve bought several new containers to organize, but the fact of the matter is, I need to sit and figure out what we’re keeping, what I’m selling and what we’re donating.

Since I’m writing about it, it’s GOING to happen. ha! We’ll see about that! But, before I get to it, I wanted to post some of the ideas I’ve had about playroom organization.

IKEA Cubbies and Bins

I think the cubby and bin storage system is a popular one for many playrooms, possibly because it’s easy to maintain and affordable. We have something similar to Kallax from IKEA and I’ve put various Threshold bins to store toys.

Kallax shelf unit with inserts white 0480267 PE618835 S4

I’ve found that with this system, however, that my kids tend to “forget” about toys if they can’t see them. That said, I’m going to start labeling the bins with words and images or pictures. I’m going to try stock logos and images first to see how Josh does with this. Since he doesn’t read yet, and is the biggest mess offender, finding what works for him is the most important.

 

Nerf Peg Board Wall

As you may know, we are huge Nerf fans at our house. We had a big Nerf party and of course, these guns continue to be among the most played-with toys. Even though storage is limited, I still got Jack a giant Nerf gun for Christmas. Y’know, to add to the 30 other giant guns that litter our living room and playroom. 

Nerf Imgur

Source: Imgur
I decided a few ago to get the gun madness into control. I want Jack to enjoy the guns and invite him to play whenever he wants, but I don’t want to step all over them and continue finding rogue bullets in my kitchen cabinets. 

I’ve seen various ways of Nerf gun storage, but the peg wall is byfar my favorite. The above photo isn’t mine, but it was shared on Imgur. It looks accessible and streamlined. As with any organization method however, I’m sure it only works well if it’s actually implemented. I’ll report back when we finally put our gun storage together!

Closet Rack for Games

I’ve written about this before, but I like keeping our board games in the closet in a fabric organizer. I have to help with this storage method, but for the most part it works.Playroom I try to keep the older games up high and the younger games and puzzles down low so Josh can access those. Without fail, though, it gets messed up over time. But, when I do keep up with it, this system seems to work. I’m going to comb through the games today actually to donate and purge games that have missing pieces or haven’t been played with in awhile. We get so many games to review that I have to do this regularly.

Do you have any playroom organization hacks? What storage systems do you use? I want to hear ‘em!

It’s my hope that the kids can actually play in here again, rather than this being a storage room. In a perfect world, we’d have enough room to film videos for our toy reviews! Fingers crossed. I’m going to tackle the madness, so wish me luck!

Best STEM Toys and Kits

With a kid who is obsessed with computers and coding, STEM toys and kits are at the top of our list this year. We’ve had the chance to tinker with various STEM toys. Here are just a few of the many fun toys and kits that have piqued our interest. As of today, these great gifts are still available at select major retailers.

 

nktstemlarge

1. LittleBits

Rule Your Room Kit

It’s no secret that the Maker Movement has been trending and gaining popularity with our budding coders and programmers. LittleBits has created several unique and award-winning STEM kits where kids can create tangible items for themselves. The Rule Your Room Kit contains various bits where kids can create unique inventions like a moving collage for their room. These kits teach coding, electricity, engineering, as well as encourage creativity and confidence. LittleBits has several other kits worth looking into, too! These are among my favorite STEM kits in the very big toy space right now!

2. BoseBuild Speaker

The BoseBuild Speaker is an incredible kit that allows kids to build and create their own Bose Bluetooth speaker. With this kit, they learn the basic fundamentals of sound, magnets, electromagnetivity and technology. Bose is well known in the sound space, so this kit fits their durable and reputable product line. This kit is a great parent-kid bonding activity, and one that delivers a really incredible product and usable tween staple.

3. HexBugs Vex Robotics Snap Shot

This is another really great kit that embraces building, creativity, engineering and math. HexBug Vex Robotics allows kids to create a functioning Snap Shot Shooter with easy to connect snapping pieces. My older guy who is HUGE into Nerf absolutely loves this kit. It took him a bit to get started, but once he got going, he loved the end product. We’re looking forward to creating more cool creations!

4. SnapCircuits

SnapCircuits is a classic toy that teaches kids the ins and outs of electricity and conductiviy. I believe my older brother had a toy similar to this from Radio Shack. The best thing these kits have going for them are the fact that they’re timeless toys that teach the fundatmentals of building and electricity.

5. Kano

Kano is a cool computer kit that the kids learn how to build. Perfect for budding techies, this kit allows kids to get their hands on the parts and pieces that make computers work. The kit includes Raspberry Pi 3, case, speaker, wireless keyboard, memory, HDMI and power cables, coding challenges, stickers and lots of appsKano has kits for the computers and a kit for the screen, both of which are in the $150 range.

6. Magformers

Magformers are among the most played-with toys in my home. They’re great for learning the fundamentals of building and creating objects with shapes. My little guy loves to create houses with squares and triangles or little jails for the Joker with triangles. Some of the best aspects of Magformers is that they’re compact, easy to clean because they stick together and they provide hours of open-ended play.

7. LakeShore Survive the Quake Engineering Kit

My kids love the premise behind this kit. It’s another great toy for kids who are interested in building, and for those who love a little bit of element of surprise. Lakeshore Learning always gets it right when it comes to fun and engaging toys that incorporate learning—even when the kids don’t realize it!

Rocking out with Rock Band Rivals

When it comes to music, we can only hope that we’re doing our best with influencing our kids’ taste and appreciation for great music. Thanks to stellar family games like Rock Band Rivals from Harmonix, we can rock out to both classic and current songs while instilling a stellar rock repertoire from one of the best music games series. 

RockBand Rivals logo

Rock Band 4 carries over the well-known drum, vocal and guitar games in a fun play back format. Players can choose a song to play and earn points collectively while sharpening their musical chops.

 

My guys and I had the chance to give Rock Band Rivals a spin in our own living room. Let’s just say that my kids were born ready to rock and have no problem performing on a stage, even if it’s just our living room.

 

Since most of the songs in the music library are classic hits, my older guy wasn’t familiar with the songs that I loved. The kids, of course, were familiar with the likes of modern pop hits from Imagine Dragon and Maroon 5. I, on the otherhand, could comfortably sing Elivs’ Suspicious Minds and R.E.M.’s The One I Love—by heart, no less.

RockBandRivals BandKit group xb1

 

 

The drum kit controller in the Rock Band Rivals set is user friendly and easy to set up. Each player was comfortable with playing the drums in Rock Band Rivals. We even brought out our own drum stool because we’re crazy like that. The guitar, styled like a sleek Fender, is cool and also easy to use.Though we found it hard to maneuver for smaller hands, those of us with more dexterity could strum the Fender like a rock boss. The instruments/controllers were seamless throughout the whole game. I especially loved how you could switch from bassist to guitarist from song to song. The microphone felt sturdy, yet basic. Obviously, as a component of the game, the microphone didn’t amplify as loudly as one would expect.

 

Overall, we enjoyed the different playing modes of Rock Band Rivals. Although we’re musically inclined, albeit a bit rusty, we appreciated the no fail mode since we have younger kids who needed a learning curve (as much as we did.) The music library, as previously mentioned, has a lot of great songs that I love, as well as great songs that my husband loves. Since I love pop and alternative and he listens mostly to country and classic rock, Rock Band Rivals complemented the whole family’s musical taste.

 

Though it took some time to familiarize ourselves, it was easy to read the screen in playmode. The different colors and areas for notes made it easy to follow, even for people who aren’t familiar with certain songs. There were so many great features that made this game especially more fluid as a family game. Each player could be assigned a different difficulty level. So, if one person was more advanced, and another was a beginner, each player was challenged just enough to make it enjoyable all around.

 

RockBandRivals Voting

 

We also enjoyed the playlist selection, where we could answer a few questions and the game would help assign a playlist so that we could continuously jam out to said playlist. And speaking of jamming out, we all got a kick out of the rockers in the game. Each song had a different backdrop and band appearance. Some were more eclectic than the next.

 

RockBand GameplaynoHUD

The highlight of Rockband Rivals is that it could be played in various modes, which makes it truly engaging for the whole crew. You can perform through a rock documentary about your band in the campaign mode and join Crews to show off skills and battle opponents in challenges. 

 

RivalsHub

We spent hours trading places in Rock Band. For one song I’d be the singer, the next the guitarist, the next the drummer. My husband and the boys all loved taking turns playing the drums.

 

My older son decided he loved the bass more than the guitar. He could feel the bass in the songs, which gave him a better understanding of the way music blends together. My younger guy, who is under the age bracket for Rock Band Rivals, had a fun time rocking out, even though he didn’t quite connect the dots. 

 

IMG 2360

 

Rock Band Rivals is a fun way to get the family together and rock out collectively. This latest iteration of Rock Band doesn’t disappoint. In fact, I can’t wait to check out the other songs available so that we can have more current songs for the kids to enjoy!

 

Rock Band Rivals is rated T for Teen and is available at major retailers. The Rock Band Rivals ($199) kit includes the drums, guitar, mic and game. Be on the lookout for great deals for the Holidays!

Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post in partnership with KidzVuz and Harmonix. I was provided with a review unit and compensation to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

 

 

Momtrends Holiday Soiree: Celebrating the Holidays in Style

The Holiday season is officially here, and what better way to kick it off than with friends and style. Last week, Momtrends hosted their annual Holiday Soiree, where, together with fellow bloggers and editors, I got a glimpse of some stylish gifts and entertaining ideas.

IMG 2148

Nambe offers a beautiful selection of gifts, including place settings, serving ware, jewelry and so much more. As a major silver fan, I fell in love with several of the rings. What I loved about Nambe’s offerings was that they look highend, yet at an attainable price range. I have this fun ring on my wish list!  

IMG 2169

Arizona Teas shared an array of 100% natural Good Brew teas. I kept going back for the delicious Lemon tea and Peach tea. The fresh taste of these teas are ideal for those who like iced tea all year round. 

IMG 2235

Avery as a perpetual DIYer, I loved absolutely everything that Avery was showcasing at the Soiree. While I loved the funny emoji labels that use the circle tags, I also love those square labels and gift tags. I plan on doing several DIY projects to showcase here on the blog, so keep your eye open for those fun gems.

IMG 2162

Mabel’s Labels is another one of my all-time faves and staples. Mabel’s Labels are the preeminent brand in personalized labels, so it’s no surprise that they have personalized gifts covered too. I’m definitely eyeing those personalized books. My little guy loves Paw Patrol, so we’ll have to ask Santa for those fun books. The stocking stuffer label set are my faves. I decided that I’m going to use those as labels for my nephews this year. Fun and functional!

IMG 2164

American Girl Doll has a beautiful lineup of classic dolls. Wellie Wishers are a popular segment that features a diverse cast of sweet dolls. I personally fell in love with the Asian doll, Emerson. Like the other gorgeous Wellie Wishers, Emerson is a lower price point at just $60.

IMG 2199

Avon always has a fantastic variety of makeup and other beauty products to pamper yourself or to save for gifts. Aside from Avon’s gorgeous palettes, these wonderful products are a great option for a home-based business. I loved learning how some people sell Avon to offset school expenses and other expenses.

IMG 2178

Armigami is a glamorous multi-function shawl that comes in a variety of fabrics and textures. It can be worn as a shawl over the shoulders, a cape, a bolero, a skirt and so much more. This unique shawl would be ideal for nights on the town to traveling to use in lieu of a blanket or coat. I was so fortunate to win the gorgeous black sequined Armigami which I can’t wait to wear to my community holiday party!

IMG 2226

I loved learning about Pearhead, a fun gift company that offers so many unique novelties, many of which can be personalized. IMG 2206In addition to baby  handprint gift sets, Pearhead offers pet gifts, ornaments, fun signs and even photo prop sets, which we had a blast trying out ourselves!

 

 

A big thank you to Nicole and the rest of the Momtrends crew for throwing another fabulous Holiday Soiree! Thank you to the sponsors for the generous gift bag, many of which were mentioned. Keep your eye out for my gift guide which will feature more items from these companies.

IMG 2155

The Summer of Nerf

As Biggie starts to get older, he’s been expressing a lot of interest in blogging and taking a more active role on The Next Kid Thing. J has often been the subject of my posts, not to mention a key reviewer, so it’s fun to help him take on these new responsibilities. Because of J’s obsession with Nerf, I gave him a job to write a post and recap his summer. Fun barely scrapes the surface—it was a phenomenal summer with memories to last a lifetime! And without further ado, I give you J’s first blog post:

This summer was the best!  I live in a lake community, and we spend almost ever day outside and play fun games such as Nerf guns. I got to play with all of my friends with Nerf guns every day. Besides swimming and playing on the sand, that’s all I did and I loved it.

IMG 5446

This summer I had a Nerf war I could not wait. It was a bunch of fun. We had target practice and capture the flag.

IMG 5460 

In the battle, I used a Doomlands Lawbringer and got a lot of my friends. I thought capture the flag was fun because we used cardboard boxes as walls. Even when we’re not at our lake, we have fun with our Nerf Guns. We had a Nerf battle where most of us had vests.

IMG 5464

IMG 5465

IMG 5477

I also got a bunch of Nerf guns—they are so BIG! A neighbor who was moving gave us a bunch of classic Nerf guns. My dad, brother and I have fun shooting each other. Sometimes, my dog gets scared of our Nerf guns.

14370329_10154538489099860_2289894846194880290_n 14358971_10154538488994860_6229577728561887513_n

 Now that summer is over, I will always remember this as the endless summer of Nerf!

Full disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. Nerf guns and gear are supported by this boy’s obsession and our own checkbook.

Great Lunch Box Gear & Goodies

We’re a week into the new school year, and so far, so good. Since we’re all about gear and gadgets that make life easier, I thought I’d share just a few favorite lunch box gear & goodies that have gotten our school year off to a great start!

NKTLunchBoxGear

Genuine Thermos Brand

Probably half of my lunch box gear is Genuine Thermos Brand simply because these products work well and are durable. The Dual Lunch Kit in teal is replacing a branded Thermos lunch box that we’ve had for a few years. We’re loving this lunch kit because the dual compartments make for great space while not over complicating it. The side mesh pouch is perfect for a small water bottle or even a banana. The little pocket with a zipper is great for ice cream money.

The Funtainer Food Jar is another staple in our lunch box. The boys love the licensed characters, especially Star Wars; I personally love the versatility of the food jar. I’ve packed spaghetti, salad, mac & cheese and oatmeal, but Little’s absolute favorite lunch that I pack for him in the food jar are easy chicken fajitas (more like nuggets) with tortillas on the side. I’ll have to devote a whole post on different ideas on what to pack in these fun containers.

I used to waste money on juiceboxes, until I came to my senses. Genuine Thermos Brand Funtainer Bottles are a must for kids who have outgrown sippy cups. The ease of washing the straw pieces, lid and stainless Funtainer Bottle make bringing milk/juice/water to school that much easier.

GoGo SqueeZ Yogurtz

We’ve been longtime fans of GoGo SqueeZ, but after being introduced to their new Yogurtz line earlier this summer, we’re officially smitten. These shelf-stable yogurt packs come in three delicious flavors: banana, berry and strawberry. GoGo SqueeZ Applesauces have been some of our go-to travel snacks, so I’m glad we have another option. These convenient yogurt packs are so easy to pop into the lunch box or throw in my bag for after school snacks. And, as if we don’t love GoGo SqueeZ enough, it was recently revealed that GoGo SqueeZ was named the official applesauce for Disney World and Disneyland.

GoGo squeeZ is the presenting sponsor of allrunDisney Kids Races, a fun way to engage kids early in healthy activities as part of Disney’s race weekends. The brand is also a sponsor of the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and of all Disney Social Media Moms Celebrations.

Sabra Hummus

Singles ToGo Hum ClassicHummus is such a versatile snack, I love including it in the kids’ lunch box. Sabra makes it super easy with their single packs. The classic flavor hummus is a great complement for veggies, pitas, pretzels and crackers. Sabra also has individual packs of guacamole, which adds lunch quesadillas and chips.

Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars

BlueberryFigBar

I’m slightly obsessed with Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars because of the great ingredients, great taste and better nutritional offerings than similar bars. Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars are non-GMO, cholesterol-free, dairy free, kosher, whole wheat, and the now have gluten-free bars. While apple is my personal favorite, we’ve been known to have a box of blueberry fig bars in our car since we’re constantly on the go.

Sneaky Chef No Nut Butter 

81Gg2 vCWqL SY606

Like many students, my preschooler cannot bring nut products for lunch. Though Sunbutter has been an option, it’s nice to have other alternatives onhand. We recently had the chance to taste No Nut Butter from Sneaky Chef. This delicious option is creamy and is made entirely of peas. So, not only is it a great alternative to peanut butter, it also has veggies! While I don’t typically hide ingredients, I did find this No Nut Butter a fun way to include veggies in my kids’ sandwiches. My little guy love dipping carrot and celery sticks in the No Nut Butter. It’s been an overall hit in our house! I’m currently working on a couple of recipes to keep things interesting. I’ll be sure to share!

Lunchboxbuddies

Nalgene Lunch Buddy

Nalgene, the maker of the incredibly durable water bottles, now makes a great lunch box. The Lunch Buddy is a lunch box that has a convenient outer case. I love the Lunch Buddy because I can easily pack my guy’s lunch and just strap it together. My 4yo can easily open and close it, which makes it ideal for preschoolers and younger grade schoolers. I love that I can just throw the lunch box into the dishwasher if something leaked. Also, the outer case can be thrown in the washing machine! So cool! Nalgene offers a lifetime warranty on all of their products, so it’s great to know that we won’t be going through a lunch box every year!

Full disclosure: I received some samples from Genuine Thermos Brand, Sneaky Chef, Nalgene and GoGo SqueeZ to facilitate these reviews and round up. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

 

KidzVuz Back to School Bash

Heat wave aside, school lists and back to school bargains are starting to roll out! Thank goodness for our friends at KidzVuz, we had the chance to check out more back to school trends at their recent Back to School event.

IMG 4293

At KidzVuz’ events I love bringing along my bigger guy to help scope out all the cool stuff. This time around though, my guy was busy with summer sports, so I attended solo. Nevertheless, I met with so many great brands, two new brands had young spokespeople and entrepreneurs at the helm. 

 

LuckyBar

IMG 4305

LuckyBar protein bars was a product of a mom’s ingenuity. When one of her sons wasn’t eating much, she was elated when he ate a protein bar. Because of this, she wanted to share these bars with other families so that kids could enjoy a great tasting protein bar while placating a finicky palate. I absolutely enjoyed the Chocolate Campfire and it was no surprise that my own finicky eater devoured the LuckyBar sample I brought home. I had the chance to chat with the founder’s son, which I’ll share in another post.

Classroom Direct

 

IMG 4318

Back to school also means shopping for new supplies, not only for students, but for teachers, too! Classroom Direct is a one-stop online shop for teachers’ supplies, school supplies and other educational supplies. I loved learning that Classroom Direct has all kinds of learning resource supplies for teachers such as Common Core Curriculum kits and posters; classroom management tools such as, really cool timers, certificates and charts; and even gear and supplies for special needs students. I loved checking out the sensory animals stuffed with a beady-like material. They were a bit weighted, so toys like these double as tools for students with sensory issues. 

 

 

IMG 4320
 
 

Juicy Juice

IMG 4348

Never one to miss out on delicious snacks and treats, I loved that Juicy Juice was at the Kidz Vuz Back to School event. I loved having a chance to taste the Juicy Juice Splashers, which is a mix of filtered water and juice. Juicy Juice Splashers has 50% less sugar, no added sweeteners and definitely no high fructose corn syrup or unnecessary colors. Flavors in the Juicy Juice Splashers line up include: Berry Lemonade, Peach Mango and Tropical Twist. I had the Tropical Twist and couldn’t get enough.

IMG 4350

 

 

Zandra

IMG 4365

I have to say, meeting Zandra and testing out this young entrepreneur’s line of natural beauty products was probably the highlight of the KidzVuz Back to School event. I loved learning that she started her business after constantly asking her dad for new lip balm, and frustrated with buying her so many lip balms, he told her to research and make her own. And she did.

IMG 4383The fact that Zandra researched the benefits of natural ingredients and fragrances makes her products even better. Her big balms, sugar scrubs, soaps and lotions boast delicious scents such as: Almond Alfresco, Japanese Kumquat, Lavender Vanilla Chai, Lemon Tea Tree and For the Love of Mint. These products are currently available Be on the look out for Zandra’s Beauty Products at select retail locations and online because they are absolutely divine!

 

Philips 

IMG 4394

The Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush for kids is one of my all time favorite toothbrushes for my guys. The brush allows for personalization, as well as a powered, more efficient toothbrushing experience,  with upwards to 500 strokes per second. The built in timer is helpful, especially for those brushers who finish after 3 seconds of brushing. Need even more help to get the kids brushing their teeth with more care? There’s an app for that!

 

IMG 4393

 

Philips has an interactive app for kids to brush along with, to help them keep the task at hand while coaching and motivating them along the way. What’s even cooler? The Philips Sonicare Electric Toothbrush for kids has a super cool Ice Age themed brush to go hand in hand with the latest release of Collision Course. 

Mabel’s Labels

Mabelslabels

As always, KidzVuz has such a fun swag bag filled with gear and gadgets to try out on our own to share on our sites. I love that Mabel’s Labels Write Away Labels found their way into the bags. These handy labels are durable labels that can be customized by you. These writeable, self-laminating labels are perfect for when you don’t necessarily need a singular name to label your belongings. I often use these for containers that my boys use interchangeably. 

Full Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I am being compensated to share my experience at the KidzVuz BTS Event, however all opinions on NKT are my own.