Free Printable: Paw Patrol Class Valentines

I don’t know about you but, Valentine’s Day always seems to sneak up on me. By the time I remember to put together Valentine’s Day cards, we’re usually scrambling or whatever character the kids like is no longer available. So, usually take it upon myself to create something fun and personalized.

This year, since Josh and his classmates are still huge fans of Paw Patrol, I made a quick tag to attach to leftover party favors. These stationery set party favors that I found at Target’s Dollar Spot are totally in line with the no candy route that so many schools have been taking. 

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Since learning about and falling in love with these new Avery labels at Momtrends’ Holiday Soiree, I find myself using them whenever I need to personalize something on the fly. I adore the 22802 Printable Tags with Strings because I can use them for gifts, crafts or whatever I need personalized. The labels can be quickly personalized on their website software Design & Print Online. It’s super easy, quick and efficient, and sure beats lugging out my cutting machine for a quick project.

 

I love that the software allows you to create tags or labels specific with the tags that you have. There are templates online, as well as blank canvases that you can upload your own design. I did a little bit of both; I added a photo of Chase from Paw Patrol and then included some text. I’m big on puns, so You’re Paw-sitively Awesome seemed apropos! Since I wanted my 5 yo to include his own signature, I left a blank space for that. I also left a space to include the gift recipient’s name. If you’re like me and short on time, this tag works if you just need to throw on your name. Don’t want to handsign each one, you can also edit these labels to add your kid’s names so it prints out. I’d recommend using Snapfish, Illustrator or other similar software.

Hoping this helps others, I’m sharing this file for you to use! You don’t have to use the labels for this printable, you can most certainly print them out and cut them as needed. There are 8 to a page and can be easily edited as needed.

Download the Paw Patrol Class Valentine’s Day here!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Family Fun: Disney Social Media Moms 2017

After the holidays, I found myself tired and overwhelmed with picking up the remnants of Christmas and trying to look ahead to the new year. Foggy and fragmented, I promised myself a more organized year with more adventures. When the much-coveted invited for Disney Social Media Moms landed in my inbox on the last wave of invitations, the husband and I wavered, but decided that our boys—our family—needed a break from reality. Since our invite came just a month out, we decide to surprise the boys with the trip. It was fun hiding all of the details until this morning when we drive to the airport! And by fun, I mean totally complicated!

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So, here we are back at Disney for another Disney Social Media Moms Celebration. Because I’ve been around for about 9 years, I’ve had the great fortune of being invited to this incredible event several times. Just as our family has grown and evolved, we’ve seen DisneySMMC grow from a small intimate affair to this grand production that’s become a highlight in my kids’ childhood. I love interacting with the great sponsors, learning about the Parks firsthand and experiencing unique opps. I don’t take these opportunities for granted one bit. We savor every single second, and I’m so grateful my kids get to experience these special events.

I stayed up until 3am last night finishing projects and woke up at 6am this morning. After traveling all day, I made the family head to the parks so we could take advantage of the small window of downtime I had for the day. Verdict? Totally worth the exhaustion.

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But of course, a little bit of Starbucks on Main Street helped with my delirium. 

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The events staff had a beautiful welcome dinner for us in Animal Kingdom. The food was a delicious array of savory and sweet treats, with plenty of exotic influence. The food never disappoints! After dinner, the group watched a River of Lights, but unfortunately, we were way too tired and left after dinner.

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We’re headed out to Epcot tomorrow, Disney Springs and then Hollywood Studios for some fun! 

Combining the best of the Parks and Disney Cruiseline, this year is the first ever Disney Social Media Land and Sea Celebration. We’re spending Tuesday and Wednesday at the parks getting the latest information on new additions, shows and more. On Thursday – Sunday, we’ll be setting sail aboard the Disney Wonder for a 3-day Bahamian Cruise.

When Josh was sick a few years ago, brighter days and dream trips kept us afloat. A Disney Cruise has always been one of our bucket list trips, simply because it combines everything we love as a family. I can’t wait to share this experience with my guys and to see this dream trip come to fruition.

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Be sure to catch me on Instagram, where I hope to share stories of our #DisneySMMC adventure!

Watch PBS Kids 24/7

Earlier this month, PBS Kids, the pioneers in children’s programming, introduced a new TV channel and a live stream on digital platforms. PBS stations across the nation are able to broadcast PBS Kids shows like Curious George and Wild Kratts 24 hours a day on an additional television channel and offer a live stream. Kids will have their favorite PBS Kids shows during primetime and after school, or really, whenever they might need it!  

Nielsen data demonstrates that live TV is the dominant way children access video, accounting for 68% of the time children spend watching video content.  And most of kids’ TV viewing takes place on weeknights and weekend afternoons and evenings – especially within low-income families, underscoring PBS’ mission to reach all children with high quality, educational content.

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Families will be able to access the new channel on-the-go with the digital live stream which complements on-demand clips and full episodes. Viewers will be able to watch the station-branded live stream through pbskids.org and on the PBS KIDS Video App, which is available on a variety of mobile devices, tablets and over-the-top platforms such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Xbox One and Chromecast.

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PBS Kids is a staple in our home. Since we’re constantly on the go, I love that my little guy can access his favorite shows while he’s waiting for big bro to finish up his sports. For a kiddo with speech delays and unique needs, I’m so grateful that we have access to such excellent programming at home and on the go, regardless of the time of day. Bravo PBS Kids!

 

 

Mother Nurture: Sweet Treats, Baby Shower Gifts and Goodies

A few weeks ago, I attended one of my good friend’s baby sprinkle for her second baby. Baby shower gifts are always some of my faves, especially when I get to include fun treats like Mother Nurture Enhanced Waters and Chocolate Truffles.

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Since most of us are moms of multiple kids, it was the perfect reason to get the girls together for a brunch with cocktails! After feasting on our bacon, eggs and quiche, we sat together to “sprinkle” my friend with the group gift. Since this is her second run at this mama thing, she already had most of her much needed gear and goodies. She did, however, request a hard to find bedside bassinet made by Chicco.

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And, as hard as it was, it was almost impossible to not over-shower her with pink and purple clothes. While I love shopping and including my favorite swaddles, socks, toys and such, this time around I included some treats for mama in my gift basket. In addition to the fun clothes, I added a bottle or two of Mother Nurture Enhanced Waters and a box of the Chocolate Truffles. In between unveiling my favorite essentials, it’s a must to shower the mama-to-be!

My friend, who watches everything she eats and is a self-proclaimed ‘water snob’, texted me few days after her shower to thank me for the goodies, but to also thank me for introducing her to Mother Nurture waters! She said she is always thirsty and loved the taste of Mother Nurture. LOVE hearing that!

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Mother Nurture products are created with moms in mind by professionals known for creating great tasting food and beverages. Mother Nurture Enhanced Waters boasts natural ingredients such as filtered water, sugar and natural flavors. The waters come in Tropical Splash, Mixed Berry, and Pink Grapefruit. The truffles, which come in Milk Chocolate or Chocolate Raspberry, have natural ingredients, Folic Acid, DHA, calcium and Vitamin D. 

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If you’re looking for a tasty or refreshing treat to add to baby shower gifts, be sure to check out Mother Nurture Enhanced Waters and Chocolate Truffles. Mother Nurture Products can be found on Amazon.

Full disclosure: I received samples for review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

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.

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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. 

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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.

 

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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!

Printable Gratitude Advent Calendar

It’s December 1st and the holiday season is officially underway.  Today’s the day that many people break out their advent calendars and start the countdown to Christmas. Inspired by other advent calendars and the need to instill gratitude and giving thanks for my kids, I created a Gratitude and Giving Thanks Advent Printable Calendar.

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I recognize that there are so many wonderful calendars floating around promoting kindness and the importance of the holiday season. I wanted to create something that would give my kids ownership for their actions. While I absolutely believe in the importance of acts of random kindness, I think showing gratitude and giving thanks is of equal importance.

We’ve done every kind of toy and candy calendar out there, but in my house, I think the significance of Advent got clouded by all the milk chocolate and daily gifts of tiny Legos. Gratitude is an extremely vital virtue that seems to be an afterthought in our age of entitlement. I curated acts of gratitude that can be done with the whole family throughout the entire holiday season.

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I researched various organizations that are kid-friendly or that can help achieve the end result as described in the calendar. For the red underlined items I will provide the links to the organization’s website for addresses below. I think showing gratitude is a relevant act for the whole year, but for this calendar, I filled in suggestions until the end of the month.

If you’d like to print out this calendar, click here for a larger PDF of the file above. Feel free to share this printable!

Links
December 1: The Gift of the Magi
December 3: Give a Book
December 9: Big Brothers and Big Sisters
December 10: Kids That Do Good
December 12: Holiday for Heroes 

I will be cutting out each day of the calendar to tuck into my kids’ Advent Calendar, right next to their little morsels of candy. I hope you join us on this journey of showing gratitude throughout the holiday season. If you do, be sure to share on Instagram and use #givethanksgiveback

While researching for this calendar, I found this especially thoughtful quote that moves me on so many levels.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.  – Melody Beattie

Happy Holidays! 

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. 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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. 

 

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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.

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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!  

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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. 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Kevin Can Wait Q&A and Set Tour

Last week, I had the unique opportunity to visit the set of Kevin Can Wait, CBS’ new hit comedy starring Kevin James and Erinn Hayes. As a longtime Kevin James fan, I was so thrilled to get a closer look at what it takes to make this funny new show and to hear the stars thoughts on the story, upcoming episodes and much more.

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Just an hour outside of Manhattan, Kevin Can Wait is filmed at Goldcoast Studios in Bethpage, NY. The show’s premise revolves around James’ character, a middle aged, newly retired cop who is excited about finally focusing on himself, after years of working long hours protecting others. Much to his dismay, Kevin’s focus on himself quickly shifts to everyone else, including his kids’ various needs.

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James plays a lovable, yet flawed and extremely relatable Kevin. His counterpart, Donna, played by Erinn Hayes, is a likable working mom hoping to find her own balance. Together, their chemistry and storylines make for a comical portrayal of a middle class family and enduring the highs and lows of life.

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Our Q&A was hosted by accomplished director and equally funny Andy Fickman. Fickman read our questions to Kevin and Erinn, while interjecting his own commentary in between. We learned about how Kevin grew up in Long Island, and how his character is based off of one of his friends. Erinn shared that she, herself, is a working mom whose family is still on the west coast. She relates to the juggle and trying to make it work.

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I’ve participated in another junket with Kevin James, and just as one would suspect, he is just as funny as the characters he portrays. He’s obviously not as physical and bumbling as his comedy; he carries himself professionally and is a much more subdued person than the silly characters we know. I had no idea that he is a father of 4, but as always, I enjoyed chatting about how he loves the Mets.

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Since we have baseball on the brain with the World Series going on, one of my questions had to do with the Mets. I said, since your love for the Mets is like a secondary character in your films and shows, will there be a Mets cameo on Kevin Can Wait?

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As soon as I asked this question, it’s as if the Mets heard me over in Flushing and revealed a teaser of none other than Noah Syndergaard dressed up as a Viking on the Kevin Can Wait set. So, tonight, in time for Halloween, beloved pitcher, Syndergaard, who is also nicknamed ‘Thor’ will have a cameo as a Viking who has an altercation with Chale, Kevin’s daughter’s fiancé. When I told my husband and sons this news, I think they squealed louder than I did!

 

I’ll have more to share from my Q&A and set tour, but for now don’t forget to tune in tonight to check out the crazy shenanigans on Kevin Can Wait. Kevin Can Wait airs on Mondays at 8pm on CBS.

 

Full disclosure: I was invited to participate in this set tour and Q&A. I received a stipend for my participation. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.