Toy Fair 2015 Faves: Knit’s Cool, Snap Pets, Lego Minecraft, Plan Toys

There was so much to see and do at Toy Fair this year. Before I share about the trends I saw, I wanted to share a few of my favorites from this year’s show. Most of these toys won’t hit shelves until this summer or fall, so here’s your sneak peek at a few of my favorite next kid things:
 

Knit’s Cool
 

Spinmaster’s Sew Cool did so well last year that they’re riding the maker trend with a number of cool activity sets for Tweens. Knit Cool is an interesting set that allows kids to knit with ease, similar to that of finger/arm knitting. I can’t wait to see this generation of kids continue to make cool things with their own imagination and ingenuity.
 

Snap Pets

Selfies and tech toys were displayed loud and proud at Toy Fair. Snap Pets from Wowee is a fun selfie tool that can be used to take selfie images or as a remote. Tweens will love the small size of this cool selfie tool. 
 

Lego Minecraft

Speaking of creations, Lego, as expected, has a slew of cool new sets. Because Lego Minecraft was one of hottest gifts last holiday season, I thought I’d share a few photos of the upcoming sets in this series.

I saw a lot of new and upcoming Lego sets that encourage kids to forego the instruction manual and enjoy open-ended play. The crafting box is just one of many sets that give suggestions on what to build, but just like the digital version of Minecraft, this set capitalizes on pure imagination.

The Mine is another cool set that I loved seeing coming to life. The skeleton, creeper and spider are my favorite part of this set!

The Ender Dragon is another cool set that is sure to be huge among Minecraft aficionados.

Plan Toys
 

Plan Toys remains one of my absolute favorite toy companies, not just because they produce aesthetically pleasing goodies, but also because they’re eco-friendly and socially conscious.
Here are just a few of my favorite finds from my Plan Toys booth visit.
 
This chalkboard table set would look super cool in a playroom or classroom!

This rocket nesting toy is so eye-catching. The toys nesting inside were never-ending!

I can’t resist boat toys. This sailboat was so classic and cute!

If only NYC taxis could be this innocent and cute. Nevertheless, I love this sweet wooden taxi.

You can’t go wrong with wooden pull toys. Plan Toys owns the cute card in this category.

 More details and fun finds to come!

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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16 Practical Baby Arrival Gifts

It’s been the year of the baby for my circle of friends and family. Between a few neighbors to close friends to one of my cousins, we’re welcoming quite a few new babies these days. In fact, I was in the midst of stalking my good friend’s Facebook page the other morning, just waiting for a baby update, knowing that she went in for a C-section.  So, I decided to write this post instead.

Between baby showers and registries, everything is preplanned and dictated, there’s not much spontaneous gift-giving going when it comes to baby, or is there? For close friends and family, baby arrival gifts are a small token to welcome and congratulate families. When gifting for baby’s arrivals, think beyond the tchotchkes and excess and head straight to the practical gifts. New parents don’t necessarily need more stuffed animals or ceramic sleeping babies, so when in doubt, give them something they will use.

After checking out remaining items on their registries, I love bringing my closest friends and relatives gifts that I’ve tried and loved. In other words: I love gifting baby products that my friends didn’t know they would need. On that end, here are just a few of my favorite practical baby arrival gifts.

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aden + anais swaddles

1. My absolute favorite gift to give friends are aden+anais swaddles. Over the past few years, this line of super soft and versatile muslin blankets has grown. They have exclusive prints for various retail partners and carry an assortment of other products such as bibs, sleeping bags and full size blankets.  But for me, the aden+anais blankets are possibly one of the most versatile baby products. I loved using these swaddles as a sunshade (sorry, not a fan of those special blankets made for carriers), as a burp cloth, nursing cover, and of course, as a swaddle blanket. Because I used these blankets so much, I made sure to have several onhand at all time. I’ve even seen babies adopt the swaddles as their lovies; that’s a true testament to how much use these blankets truly get. 

Honest New Baby Arrival Kit

2. Diapers, hands down, are one of the most practical baby gifts for new parents. On average, newborns go through 12-15 diapers a day, making them a huge commodity for new parents. If the new parents didn’t already stock up on their diapers, consider getting them a new baby kit, like the one from Honest. This kit is a sampler pack, and comes with 7 diapers, 2 small packs of wipes, hand sanitizer spray, shampoo and body wash, face and body lotion, healing balm and baby teether.  Looking to splurge or chip in for a group gift for new baby? What about a diaper and wipes bundle, which starts at $79 a month.

Food

3. A home-cooked meal is always a generous gesture for new parents adjusting to their new normal. For out of town friends or family, I usually send pre-made meals or delicious frozen meals. The less effort involved, the better. One of my favorite resources pre-made meals is Fresh Direct since they deliver to my area now. Don’t have Fresh Direct near you or the new parents? Try ordering delivery from one of their favorite restaurants. Omaha Steaks and Schwann’s are both well known delivery serves that ship to many areas.

Earth Mama Angel Baby C-Mama Healing Salve

4. For many new moms, c-sections are unplanned and usually a medical necessity. In my case, my older guy was stuck and was in fetal distress. As someone who had a difficult recovery and didn’t get much advice, I appreciated when an acquaintance told me about getting some balms and other stuff for my recovery and soothing the incision. So, for close friends who had c-sections, I like giving them healing gifts. Earth Mama Angel Baby C-Mama Healing Salve is a favorite, and one that boasts natural ingredients like calendula, st. john’s wort, olive oil and a lot of other goodness.

 

 

5. NüRoo Pocket
The NüRoo Pocket is a baby wearing shirt that promotes skin to skin contact in the newborn phase. The shirt features a cross and hug closure that provides a custom fit as your body changes and baby grows. I met the creators of this amazing product a few years back and have been smitten ever since. This pocket is much different than carriers or slings, it gives more accessibility for skin contact while giving mama some mobility.

 

6. Custom ArtCustom artwork is a rare find these days. I love personalized art as baby gifts because it’s a chance to celebrate the new babe with a unique gift. To be safe, consider getting a modest size piece that would complement nursery decor. Paper Cut ABCs custom art from Minted is a fun framed piece that would dress up a nursery or playroom. Baby’s name personalized at the bottom makes this gift that much more special. 

 

7. Photo Gift Card
With the prevalence of social media, the news of baby’s arrival is practically instant these days, complete with a photo slideshow! Call me old fashioned, but there’s nothing better than a classic paper baby announcement. While gifting a baby announcement itself wouldn’t be ideal, perhaps gifting a gift card to a photo site like Minted would be helpful for new parents. If announcements aren’t in the new parents’ realm, other stationary or printed photos of baby’s first few days would be a gift they’ll always remember. I can’t tell you the last time I had photos printed of my second son, but if I had a gift card, then my walls my be more even with both kids’ photos. 

8. Baby hat
Babies have to wear hats to keep them warm, especially fall and winter babes. Most layette outfits come with those knit hats, but a truly warm, well-made but stylish baby hats are hard to find. I particularly love the look of this sweater bear hat from Baby Gap. The gray makes is modern but neutral, and a nice change from the pinks and blues. 

9. Personalized baby robe
Bathtime is quality time for many families. For new parents, bath time takes on a whole new meaning. A fun personalized baby bath robe is a luxury, but also one that comes in handy when trying to wrangle a wet baby. The personalization on these plush robes from Red Envelope set them apart.

 

 

10.  Unicorn 
Pottery Barn has almost everything a baby and kid could ever need, including unicorns! While a unicorn isn’t a necessity, a fun playmat that isn’t a blanket always comes in handy. The unicorn is just something different and cool!

11. California Baby gift set
Chances are, the new mom received a lifetime supply of soaps and lotions at their shower—or did they? Every shower is different and every new parent is different. I had 3 baby showers, yet I didn’t receive any lotions or soaps until my friend sent me this exact California Baby gift set. I fell in love with all the different scents and I’ve been a loyal fan ever since. The thing about baby soap and shampoos, they last for awhile and smell so good!

 

12. Patemm 
We change a lot of diapers during the baby days. It helps when we have stylish, but durable changing pads to help us out! Patemm is another one of my favorite gifts. They’re a luxury, but truly different. I appreciate the round shape and ability to store items in the pockets. Since we cloth diapered, Patemm pads were always our savior.

13.  Baby medicine kit
One of the many things new parents often overlook is a medicine kit for baby.  Sure, they’ve stocked up on thermometers and lotion, but what about medicine cabinet essentials for the first few months? Gripe Water was one of the must-haves for my first baby, yet I had no idea where to get it. Now, it’s practically everywhere, but as a new mom i had no idea where/how to get this necessity to calm my baby. Think of other baby essentials that might come in handy and send them some tips while you’re at it!

14. Sweet onesies
Selfies anyone? Baby may not necessarily need another onesie, but who can resist fun catchphrases or silly slogans on baby clothing? And Instagram Star? Genius. The babies practically own Instagram on my feed! 

15. Pampering for mom
Whether it’s a beautiful nightgown with nursing accessibility or a generous spa card, mama needs a lot of loving too. If you’re family, ask to watch baby while mom naps. Make her go out for an hour to roam Target for an hour…anything, really, to feel a little “normal” helps. I personally loved getting a mani/pedi gift card, as well as comfy pjs that were incision-friendly AND nursing friendly. Belabumbum is a wonderful brand that has a beautiful range of loungewear for maternity and new mamas.

16. Baby socks
Not just any socks, but fun socks! Trumpette is best known as the novelty sock gifts for babes. I love the cute shoe designs, especially these argyle socks and loafers! Since babies don’t need to wear socks and baby socks always seem to disappear in the wash, you really can’t have enough cute little socks! One of the best things about these socks, other than being super cute, they actually stay on those baby feet!

But, as I always say to my friends, what works for me might not work for you. (In essence, gift thoughtfully and save those receipts!) Happy baby shopping!

Last Day of Kindergarten Survey Printable

It’s the last day of Kindergarten for my Big Boy, and what an exciting day it is!  The school where Biggie attends has been our extended family for the past two years—two important years where we’ve grown, learned and sought comfort.  We may be transitioning to our public school next year, so I wanted to do some special things to help us remember these first formidable years.

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Kindergarten is such a special time.  For many, it’s the first formal year of school.  For others, it’s a new beginning in a brand new place.  For us, it was another year at the same school, where Biggie attended transitional Kindergarten.  Nevertheless, graduating Kindergarten is a big deal for the littlest guys.  It’s a time when kids begin to learn how to read, spell and write.  At 5 and 6 years old, these guys often say the funniest things.  So, when I saw a friend on Face Book post this cool gift from one of her students, I thought I’d recreate it for my own use.  

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 I compiled several easy questions for my Kindergartener to answer and complete himself.  This Last Day of School Kindergarten Survey is a great way for teachers to not only remember kids, but also a special way for them to see how far they’ve come!  It’s an easy add-on gift for kids to give teachers, especially if your class does a group gift.  Some people frame it, I just printed it out on card stock and used wash tape to attach a picture.  

 

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 As mentioned, I didn’t create the questions myself, I just edited them for my own use AND designed this fun printable.  The survey can be easily edited for any grade. In Pic Monkey, just create an overlay on the grade and rewrite the text.  Anyway, since I had so much fun creating this Kindergarten Survey, I thought I’d share the it.  

To download the 8×11.5 PDF, just go here.  This is free to use for personal use.  If you use it and take a pic, send me a shout and tag me on Instagram.

SheBuysCars and Toyota Host Girls’ Night Out at NYIAS

Earlier this week, at the New York International Auto Show (NYIAS), car manufacturers unveiled a lineup of new and concept cars for the auto industry and the public to revel and revere.

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Just before the doors opened to the general public, however, together with an esteemed group of women bloggers, I was able to get a sneak peek of events.  SheBuysCars, Toyota and NYIAS, who were the organizers and sponsors of the Girls’ Night Out event, hosted a wonderful presentation and fun events for what was, perhaps, the first female-focused gathering of its kind at NYIAS.

According to an article in Forbes

Here’s what is true: Women buy just over half of all cars sold in the United States and take part in 80 percent of all family car-buying decisions. And women car buyers do more research than men, generally speaking.

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As a tech enthusiast and blogger who has been to my fair share of car and auto media events, I absolutely appreciated the girls’ night out presented by SheBuysCars.  It was a platform for the NYIAS to speak to us directly, and for us, women and members of the media, to get a firsthand look at the some of the most sleek, chic and technologically-advanced cars—even if some were just for show.  

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I loved that my friends and fashion experts, Audrey and Vera, were on hand to discuss trends in fashion.  More often than not, style and fashion trends are parallel with style aspects of new cars.  The colors, designs and how it all meshes together, makes all the style choices come full circle.

Just a few of the cars and sights I loved while taking a tour of the NYIAS showroom floor:

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The NYIAS is open until tomorrow, if interested in checking out these rides for yourself.

Kardashian Kids Debuts at Babies ‘R Us

Kim and Kanye may be making waves after their recent Vogue cover reveal; however, we’re totally focused on Kardashian Kids, a new baby girl (k)collection featuring sparkly, animal print and ruffly motifs.

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Now available at select Babies ‘R Us, Kardashian Kids, a collaboration with Jupi Corp, is the latest brand extension for the reality family and first foray into their own children’s clothing line.  Kourtney used her own daughter, Penelope, as the inspiration for this first collection. With cream and gold as the dominant color scheme, butterflies, stars, and of course, animal print round out the Kardashian take on “affordable high fashion” for babies.  

“Since becoming a mom, I’ve been so inspired to create Kardashian Kids with perfect prints, heavenly fabrics for a baby’s skin and to bring fashion to the baby world that is affordable,” said Kourtney, mother of Mason and Penelope.

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Kardashian Kids line includes baby essentials such as onesies, caps, blankets, as well as two-piece sets, jackets and dresses in sizes ranging from newborn to 24months. Prices for the new baby line range from $15-30. Here’s a look at a few of the new pieces:

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Kourtney, who was said to lead the way for Kardashian Kids, is hosting a blogger event with Babies ‘R Us.  I had to decline because of my schedule, but am definitely interested to see how this line does.  I know quite a few people who like the Kardashian line for women at Sears, so I’d like to see if this gets the same response.  My first impression, though, it seems pricey for being dubbed “affordable.”  Looks like some people who submitted reviews over at BRU feel the same.  

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The pieces are absolutely adorable, and much more subdued than what I was picturing.  Though not practical for everyday outings, these outfits look ideal for Easter gatherings and such.   Also, I would have liked to see boys clothes included in the collection.  Obviously, I’m a boy mom and personally love boys clothes; but I love the way Kourtney dresses her son, Mason, so I’m bummed that boys clothes didn’t make it into Kardashian Kids from the start.

What about you, mommas?  Would you invest in the new Kardashian Kids?

5 Things We Learned From Mr. Peabody and Sherman

A throwback to Rocky and Bullwinkle, Mr. Peabody and his son, Sherman, are back and they’re sharing their adventures with a whole new generation. Together with several fellow bloggers, we had a chance to preview the movie and participate in a Q&A roundtable with Director Rob Minkoff, Ty Burrell (voice of Mr. Peabody) and Max Charles (voice of Sherman).

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We had a fun time getting to know the stars of the movie, while taking turns asking them burning questions.

I’ll share more on that soon, but first, I wanted to share five things that Mr. Peabody and Sherman taught us.

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1. Family is family 

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a fun story about a dog who adopts a boy and goes on to explore the world, with boy in tow.   Mr. Peabody, a genius Renaissance man, er, dog, is good at most anything he does.  Despite the fact that he was never adopted as a pup, he, himself went on to adopt a boy.  His son, Sherman, grew up as the son of a dog, something that was rather unique and special, though he didn’t know it yet.  When Sherman gets teased for having a dog as a parent, Mr. Peabody, who never considered the consequences of their unique family, consoles his son without hesitation—because that’s what parents do. 

When Sherman makes a mistake and takes the WABAC without asking, Peabody comes to rescue.  When kids are sad, confused and feeling overwhelmed, parents swoop in with their unconditional love and find a way to make things better.  What’s so fun about this movie is that instead of focusing on Mr. Peabody being a dog, it underscores the love between a parent and their kid.  Family is family, after all.But ultimately, Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a reminder that every dog needs a boy.

 

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2.  History is fun

I was an English major, so I read a lot of period pieces and books.  The best thing about literature is that it schools you on history, too.  I have always appreciated the arts and history in general, so I absolutely loved that Mr. Peabody and Sherman took the audience to memorable eras such as the Renaissance, the French Revolution, early American history and beyond.  Even better?  These historical references were fun and witty, but in the end made for an ongoing conversation with my six year old.  The kids will appreciate the Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s adventures, but parents will love the bits of edutainment.

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3. Traveling and seeing new places can bring families joy

The world is a big place, and there’s so much to see.  In Mr. Peabody and Sherman, the dog and son duo travel through time in their WABAC time machine and learn a lot about the historical places and locations they visit.  At the same time, they learn about their relationship with each other.  Traveling as a family is so important and strengthens your bond in ways you never knew how.

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4.  It’s important to take risks

When Sherman’s nemesis-turned-friend, Penny, urges him to take the WABAC for a spin, the kids disobeyed and broke rules.  There’s a fine line between breaking rules and taking risks, but when Sherman takes a risk, he learns something about himself.  During the Renaissance era, Mr. Peabody, Sherman and Penny find themselves hanging out with Leonardo Da Vinci, the Renaissance Man himself.  Penny and Sherman take Da Vinci’s Flying Machine for a spin, even though the inventor said it didn’t work. Sherman insisted to Penny that he didn’t know how to fly. Penny encouraged her friend and unbeknownst to him, Sherman could fly! His risk paid off and he did Da Vinci a favor in the process. Taking risks are character-builders, and something that kids and adults can learn from.

 

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5.  Variety is the spice of life

  Mr. Peabody is a genius dog, and something he hopes to instill in his son. While perfection isn’t necessarily something to strive for, (in my opinion, anyway) I can wholeheartedly agree that kids need room to “run.” Whether it’s playing sports, reading voraciously, drawing, coding, life should be about discovering your passions. Everyone’s path is decidedly different, so it’s totally fine if your best friend embraces music and you find joy in soccer. Mr. Peabody discovered and invented a myriad of things; while his life was fulfilling, in the end, nothing made him happier than his family.

 

   

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Mr. Peabody and Sherman hits theaters tomorrow, March 7. The humor appeals to kids and adults, and the story is engaging and relevant.

If you appreciate smart humor as much as we do, then you’ll love this!

I was a guest of Dreamworks Animation and participated in a Q&A. As always, all opinions are my own.

Toy Fair 2014: Day 1

 

As I gear up for Day 2 of Toy Fair, I thought I’d share some preliminary thoughts of Day 1 of #TF14.

Sunday is typically one of my favorite days of the International Toy Fair, dubbed the largest trade show for toys in the western hemisphere.  There’s something like seven football fields worth of toys and games, and like always, I have a lot of  ground to cover.  But on the first day, there’s that sense of newness and exciting energy.  All of the exhibitors seem to be fresh-faced and newly rehearsed on their spiels, sharing the kind of knowledge that I simply thrive upon.

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I started day one bright and early with a blogger breakfast with one of my all time favorites: Spinmaster.  The brains behind some mega hits, Spinmaster is involved in a whole host of hot properties and brands that make kids go wheee!  LIke the best in the business, they have a whole team dedicated to media relations, several who focus solely on blogger interaction. Needless to say, it was great having that one-on-one time with the smart people who can give us the best insight on their latest wares. I loved the way they had their event set up. Each table had a brand manager or designer who talked us through several of the toys they were highlighting.  I’ll give an in-depth look at the toys they chatted about, we got a good look at the super cool Paw Patrol toys.  This Nickelodeon show and Spinmaster property is a huge—and I mean HUGE —hit with preschoolers.  The rescue pups who herald bravery and heroism from their service work will have their very own toys  hitting the shelves this summer.  We had a look at the firetruck and smaller characters, and I have to say, I know they’ll be a big hit with preschoolers. 

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I had a great look at what’s new with Flutterbye Fairies, Tenkai Knights, Boomer the dino, new Spinmaster games and an interesting interactive doll named Gabby.

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The show started off with Alicia Keys cutting the ribbon and saying a few words to the Toy Fair crowd.  It was the biggest crowd I’d ever seen for the opening ceremony for ToyFair, perhaps thanks to the celeb aspect.

 

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I have a systematic game plan when walking this trade show.  Since this site encompasses new and notable products for babies to big kids, I have particular interest in seeking out small companies who have great ideas. It’s all about getting new products into the right people’s hands, whether it’s the media, buyers or other industry professionals.

I loved these tooth pillows I found at SuperFly, and all the fun superhero accessories.  This was their first showing at TF, but they right away caught my attention with their bright colors, genuine conversation and great products.

 

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These drink holders, I thought were really cool.  Another new company, I appreciate the idea and genesis behind the product.

 

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I had meetings throughout the rest of the day with companies like Tomy, Learning Resources, Educational Insights, Melissa and Doug and MGA.  I also attended showcases for two firms who showcased their clients’ highlighted products.  For now, I’ll post a few photo highlights with more information to come on these, where I can fill in the blanks.

Melissa and Doug

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Educational Insights

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 Chinese Cubes

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Much more to come!

 

 

 
 

Review: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’s Minnie-Rella

With heart’s day in the pipeline, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse’s latest full-length adventure, Minnie-Rella is now available on DVD.  Inspired by the classic Cinderella fairy tale, this Mickey Mouse Clubhouse adaptation of Cindy’s story gets a Minnie twist.

 

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Minnie is given a pile of chores at the Clubhouse, but when she falls asleep, she dreams that she is Minnie-Rella.  Just like the Cinderella tale, Minnie has her own Fairy Godmother, except her name is Clarabelle.  With her tomato-turned carriage and beautiful gown, Minnie hopes to make it to the enchanted dance to meet up with her Prince Mickey.

 

We loved that the whole gang was involved in this sweet Minnie inspired fairy tale.  The music and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse inspiration made this version of Cinderella that much more magical.  With a “Mouseke-doodle-lee-do,” our family had a fun time singing along with this sweet Minnie-fied fairy tale.  This is a must-watch for preschoolers and beyond, and makes for a fun family movie, too.

I particularly loved the bonus episodes: Pluto’s Tale, Mickey and the Enchanted Egg and Daisy’s Pony Tale.  These shorts were perfect complements to the Minnie-centric show.  Even better, I loved the free castle playset include within the dvd packaging.  A lot of fun to be had in this little package.  Wouldn’t this make the cutest Valentine’s Day present for the kids?

 

Be sure to grab the DVD which is in stores today, or catch it on the Disney Channel and Disney Jr. on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

 

And all in the name of Minnie-Rella magic, how about some fun downloadable activities:

 

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The Lego Movie is an Awesome Hit + Valentine’s Day Printables

Not surprisingly, The Lego Movie did smashingly well at the box office this weekend.  It took the top spot and had glowing reviews to boot.

 

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One of the best write ups I read today, in fact, was from CNN via EW.com whose headline caught my eye:  “Is the Lego Movie Really That Good?”  I asked myself the same question and read on:

 

Based on the ubiquitous lock-block toy and licensed with many of pop-culture’s most ubiquitous heroes, “The LEGO Movie” is a sly Trojan horse of a movie. “Using the building-block world of LEGO to parody the creeping conformity of our world, ‘The LEGO Movie’ proves even more biting than ‘WALL-E,’ because it has the sauciness to send up its own rise-of-a-hero story line,” writes EW’s Owen Gleiberman.

 

Combine the beloved building blocks, personified—rather, animated with mini figures—and throw in comedic timing, sauciness and you get family fun at the theater.   This movie, in my opinion, seemed like a perfect formula for success:  Everyone loves Lego, many of us are enduring cabin fever in the tundra that is our winter and this older kid bracket is an untapped (boy) market in the movies right now.

 

Considering how obsessed we are with Warner Brother’s Lego Marvel video game, I have no doubt that we’ll love this movie just as much.  We were actually focused on another movie this weekend, but we’ve got Lego Movie on our docket to come.  In the meantime, I’ve been loving reading the reviews from traditional outlets, as well as from my friends.

 

And, in case you have Valentine’s on your mind like we do this week, how rad are these Lego Movie Valentines from Warner Brothers?  

 

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Click on the above image to head to the full version of the Lego Movie Printables AND other versions as well.  I know these are promos for the movie, but how perfect are these for Lego lovers and movie enthusiasts alike?