Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Comfi-Neck Bibs

Like so many of you, I’m very brand-loyal, especially when it comes to products for my kids and gifts for friends and family’s kids. Tommee Tippee for years has been a mainstay in our home. From bottles to feeding supplies, we’ve always used tommee tippee products because they’ve worked for us. I even searched the archives for a baby Josh wearing a Comfi Neck Bib.

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Tommee Tippee’s Closer to Nature Comfi Neck Bibs are just some of the many feeding products that I’ve always used for my babies, and they’re staples for baby shower gifts. I love the soft texture of these bibs which are 80% cotton and 20% polyester. They’re soft and suitable for sensitive skin, which is something I always appreciated.

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The newer line of Comfi Neck Bibs are reversible, which gives the bibs a little splash of color and style and added functionality. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to flip over bibs to extend the wear because it’s all I had in my diaper bag.

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Speaking of functionality, the cushioned neck—hence the Comfi part—are such a smart feature for bibs. Both of my babies were major dribblers, so whether they were being bottle-fed or breast-fed, their dribbles were absorbed before dripping to their neck. The easy velcro fasteners are soft and subtle; it works quietly when it counts.

There are several colors and styles to choose from in the Comfi-Neck Bib line. The Comfi-Neck Bibs can be found at major retailers where Tommee Tippee products are sold.

Full disclosure: I was provided a sample and compensation to provide this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: Interviews and Review

A mysterious and surreal tale that celebrates peculiarity and the power of friendship, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children hits theaters on September 30. The film, directed by the illustrious Tim Burton and based on the best selling novel by Ransom Riggs, left me enchanted and wanting more of this incredible story. It was a vivid portrayal of good vs. evil and how finding your true self is just as important as making and creating lifelong friends.

When Jake discovers clues to a mystery that spans alternate realities and times, he uncovers a secret refuge known as Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he learns about the residents and their unusual abilities, Jake realizes that safety is an illusion, and danger lurks in the form of powerful, hidden enemies. Jake must figure out who is real, who can be trusted, and who he really is. 

 

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This week, I had the unique opportunity to participate in a few roundtables with Ransom Riggs, the bestselling author of Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Colleen Atwood, the costume designer for the film and several stars of the film.

 I enjoyed hearing what Ransom Riggs had to say on what seeing his book created into a film by Tim Burton.

 

Well, it helps when the person changing it is a director you’ve looked up to for 25 years.  So, you know, if it had been anyone else, I might have been more nervous.  But, I think also, I went to grad film school and I’m a total film nerd, and I’ve written screenplays that no one is going to buy or anything like that.But I’ve dabbled enough to–I think to have a good perspective on how much work needs to be done and adaptation to make it a genuinely satisfying cinema experience that stands alone as a movie.  So, I totally respect that.  And, yes, I don’t watch the movie and go what about this?  What about that?  I just try and remove myself as the author and say, “Am I enjoying this as a movie?” And, yes, absolutely, I think it works so well.

 

 

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Because the film was set in modern day and then went back in a time warp, the costumes helped depict the story in such an eloquent way. Colleen Atwood had a unique task to create timeless and elegant costumes for this unique cast.

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On her inspiration behind Miss Peregine’s beautiful look for the film:

 

Well, the main thing that, that Eva Green [Miss Peregrine] and I talked about was having the costume sort of have some kind of quality that was birdlike without saying I’m a bird.  So she has such an amazing shape.  I mean she has an amazing physique so she lends herself to that sort of slim kind of goth middle and the kind of pointy shoulder.  She was a little bit pointy as a character.  So, we kind of did those instead of doing a puff sleeve we did the points on her sleeves.  I didn’t really want to put her in a black costume.  I really badly wanted it to not be black, and, and I found this amazing piece of navy blue, navy blue wool crepe which is what I ended up making the costume on.  And, then I sponged into it a little bit with a little bit of green and some other colors, like how feathers reflect different colors.  So, you really probably don’t see it in the film in the sense.  It only just keeps it from being a really flat surface to photograph.  It makes it more interesting photographically, and inside her shoulders there is a little inset.  There’s a box pleat.  There’s a feather that’s embroidered in a metallic and silk thread that sort of–I like how animals in nature sometimes they have a little piece of color or something that’s sort of bright that their own species catch but other people don’t catch, and then sort of that was my inspiration for that in her costume.  And, I wanted to make her long – her things are all pointed kind of like feathers, and her jacket goes down in a little V in the back that, that kind of helps sell bird a little bit without being too aggressively birdlike.

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 We also had the chance to talk to several of the actors from the film. Varying in age and experience, these young actors were all so well spoken and so some thoughtful things to say about their work on the film. We interviewed Asa Butterfield (Jake), Ella Purnell (Emma), Lauren McCrostie (Olive) and Finlay MacMillan (Enoch).

On their key takeaway from being in the film, Asa Butterfield said: 

You make a lot of good friends in a film, with every film you do, because you’re working so closely with people for a long amount of time.  You get close, and you’ve made these friends, and you probably, hopefully, going to know for the rest of your life.

 

 

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children in in theaters September 30. Be sure to catch this amazing film!

Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O’Dowd, Ella Purnell, Allison Janney, Rupert Everett, Terence Stamp, with Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson
Directed By: Tim Burton
Rated PG-13

 

 

 

Full disclosure: I was invited by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation to participate in this roundtable. As always, all opinions on NKT are my own.

Curious George: Let’s Get Curious Exhibit at Liberty Science Center

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a Curious George fan. I can still remember my librarian in elementary school reading to us from a well-loved hard back copy of Curious George. Curious George and his many adventures have grown with me, and I’m so happy to see that he’s grown with my boys as well.

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Lucky us, the Curious George exhibit is back at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, and it’s fantastic. The Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! exhibit features everyone’s favorite curious monkey and the The Man in the Yellow Hat.

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The exhibit, which is at LSC for a four month engagement, celebrates the 75th anniversary of George’s debut. The exhibit embraces several educational concepts in science, math and engineering and geared to the preschool and grade school contingent. 

What to See and Do

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Upon entering the exhibit, you’re greeted by a picturesque cityscape background reminiscent of the iconic Curious George books.  At the Apartment Building, kids can operate wheels and pulleys and the climb up the fire escape and then experiment with color, light and shadow.

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The Space Rocket welcomes the littlest space explorers for an Outer Space Adventure. The slide down is a favorite feature, and one that we found ourselves doing the most.

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The Sidewalk Produce Stand reminded us of a little street vendor or bodega. The kids had fun playing cashier and shopper and taking turns (somewhat) and interacting with other children. The produce stand gives kids a chance to explore shape, sorting, weighing and counting with fruits and veggies.

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The kids visited a little farm to pretend play with small animals and explore wind power, windsocks and whirligigs. My little guy had fun opening and closing the little chicken coop and making the piggies smooch each other!

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The golf area was a fun way for the kids to learn cause and effect with physics, and engineering, while exploring with pipes, ramps and funnels.

IMG 7603IMG 7608The Construction Site was another fun station where kids enjoyed climbing into the trailer and exploring different building materials. Both guys had a fun time operating the conveyor belt and sorting bricks and trying to work together. This spot got pretty hectic at times, but it worked well when all the kids were taking turns.

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My Little guy stopped in his tracks when he spotted a full-size Curious George in the City Park. He planted a big smooch and hug on George before running off to check out the Park’s busywall activities.
 
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My personal favorite of the entire exhibit was the Museum Within the Museum. There were many historical posters and literature on display, including the manuscript’s escape from Europe during WWII. 

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I loved learning about the historical timeline behind this beloved character. I also got a big kick out of all the little kids playing with the retro landline phone on the desk—perhaps something they don’t see enough in the time of iPhones and smart phones.

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Curious George at LSC 

My preschooler and third grader had a wonderful time exploring; we quite honestly could’ve stayed there all day. There are enough features in this exhibit to entertain the kids for an hour or two. While a majority of the activities are geared to toddlers and preschoolers, my older son had fun interacting with the conveyor belt and helping his brother with certain aspects.

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LSC remains one of our family’s favorite NJ museums, and Let’s Get Curious exhibit is a complement to the 12 museum exhibition halls, live animal collection, aquariums, 3D theater and their huge IMAX Dome Theater. Whether you’re in NYC, NJ or elsewhere, Liberty Science Center is worth the drive for a fun day of science and exploration.

Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! will be at the Liberty Science Center form September 17, 2016 until January 8, 2017. This super fun exhibit is included in general admission tickets ($21.75 for adults and $17.75 for children 2-12)

Giveaway

And in partnership with Liberty Science Center, we are giving away a 4 pack of tickets for you and your family to enjoy. Enter below for a chance to win!

 

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Full disclosure: In partnership with Jersey Moms Media, my family was hosted at LSC to facilitate this review. I received a stipend for transportation, but as always, opinions on NKT are my own. 

 

 

 
 
 
 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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!

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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

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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 

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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!

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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.

 

Bridget Jones’s Baby: Tea with Renee Zellweger and Sharon Maguire

Bridget Jones is back, and this time, she’s having a baby. Finally, her career is on track, but her love trials are as interesting as ever…and now, there’s a baby on the way!

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Bridget Jones came into our lives several years ago when Helen Fielding’s popular books became a pop cultural sensation and inspiration for the movie franchise. In the films, we watched a 30-something Bridget (Renée Zellweger) struggle with her career, love life and, well, life in general. Her self-loathing and bigger than life adventures are realities that so many of us—30 and 40 something moms, especially—have endured ourselves.

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I’ll always remember Bridget’s love triangle with Darcy and Daniel, and how she wanted nothing more than to be loved and to love someone else. As a 20-something, working as an editor in NYC when Bridget Jones’s Diary first came out, the film resonated with me and became the Rom Com anthem of my life. And now, as Bridget’s life reaches a parallel to my own now that I’m in my 40s, the latest installment is as endearing as ever.

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Bridget finds herself in quite the predicament when she literally falls for an American math/love guru named Jack. Their romance was quick and spontaneous, but progressed into something sweet and dreamy. Around the same time, Bridget kept bumping into Darcy who was on the verge of a divorce, but still very consumed with his work. After a sweet connection, Bridget and Darcy found themselves together again. The rest of the story is cunning and hilarious, and kept us laughing and guessing. I was laughing so hard at some scenes, I’m almost positive I snorted at the premiere! That would’ve been so Bridget!

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This week as part of their promotional tour, I had the chance to participate in an intimate blogger roundtable with director Sharon Maguire and Renée Zellweger. These roundtables are always so exciting, but this one was especially lovely. With the London NYC as the backdrop, Maguire and Zellweger sat with us for afternoon tea.

Zellweger arrived in a stunning Reem Acra tea length dress and Maguire had an equally elegant outfit as well. Their demeanor was as gracious as one would imagine, and I remember that I couldn’t stop smiling.

 

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On playing Bridget Jones again

Q: So, what was it like to come back to this character after all these years?

 

Zellweger: It was exactly like you said.  When they sent the script, it felt like this fantastically happy reunion, and it’s reminded me how much I love her.

I love her friends and her parents and her world, and then, I got really terrified because I thought, “Oh God.  I really–I don’t want to mess this up” because, I mean, I know that like–like myself, you know, who, when I discovered her in the books, like so many other people, you know, we fell in love with her.

It was so much fun to be back in her shoes or her boots and her walk and her laugh and her voice and her not quite altogether wardrobe and, you know, and back with her friends.  

 

 

During our roundtable, we talked about a lot of things, but I particularly loved our conversation about being creators. Zellweger and Maguire had so many deep answers to all of our questions, but this was one of my favorites:

 

On Women in Hollywood and Being Creators

Q: Sharon, since the first one 15 years ago, as a female, as a working woman, as a working mother in Hollywood, how has it changed in terms of getting the type of movie made that you wanted?

Maguire: I kind of took time out after I made the movie really because I needed–I felt I needed to go away and breathe.  And so, that’s what I did.
And so, then, I kind of got hooked on that.  You know, I kind of thought, “Oh, okay.  I don’t need to be on the runaway train of work and, you know, define myself just like that.  You know, I can live a life.”
All I know is that I don’t understand why there aren’t more women directors in Hollywood.
I really don’t understand because I can’t believe the whole movie industry is sexist.  But, you know–so, the only thing I think that we need to do is I think we need to make–there needs to be a stronger thing about–in the curriculum for schools, there needs to be storytelling.  

And I think part of storytelling is by film or by novels or whatever, and if we all learned storytelling from the roots up, I think there would just be more women filmmakers.  You know?

I think probably Hollywood goes with what’s worked before.  And if a man’s directed it before and that’s worked and it’s made money, we’ll go back with a man, you know, because people put a lot of money into these things.

But, I know loads of women directors in TV everywhere.  You know?  So, I don’t know why they haven’t translated it enough to Hollywood, you know, yet.  I really don’t understand it.  

 

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Zellweger: I do think it’s changing because women are creators, and the things that are being put out there are becoming recognizably financially viable.

And when there’s a financial incentive to do something, people come running and sexism takes a backseat to–to, you know, capitalizing on somebody’s work.

And also, on this tour, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting ladies like–no offense–ladies like you in the room.

Ladies like you who are not waiting to be invited by the establishment to express yourselves.  You’ve created forums for yourselves to share with likeminded people, women, who will share your interests and gives you an opportunity to express yourselves creatively, to exercise your creativity as writers, producers.  You’re editors.

You are basically your own channel.  You’re your own, you know, entertainment entities.  Young women on AOL have their own channels, and they develop the content.

And they edit it, and they get, you know, access to whomever it is that they’d like to speak with because it’s effective.  People are interested in what they have to say.

They’re not waiting, again, for that invitation.  And, again, when there is a recognizable response, then people have to change and–and–and adapt and embrace that, “Oh, you know, we’ve been wrong.  The conventional way of doing things is kind of passé, and we should start to recognize that all of these women have something to say and it’s valid and it’s important.”  I loved it.

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On Motherhood and Friendships

Q: What is a scene that you can relate to or one that resonated in your life?

Maguire: I kind of probably relate most to the jump around scene.  Probably that. You know, sitting alone at home thinking, “I’m in my forties, none of my fantasies have come true.  Great.  Great birthday.”  

Zellweger:  Well, I guess more than a scene maybe a theme in the film that her friends have kind of moved on.  And they have families, and they have partners.  So, their lives have changed.

And I believe that with–from what I’ve experienced with the people that I’m closest to, you evolve when you become a mom.  You become a bigger version of yourself.  You become a more powerful version of yourself, a fully realized version of yourself.
 

And I’m watching all of my friends and my, you know, family members evolve in this way.  And I’m a bit of a late bloomer, and so, it’s interesting to kind of be chronologically in that place, but not have–not experience that same transformation at the same time as your friends and the people closest to you.

It’s very strange, and it’s–it is a very unique kind of loneliness.  It’s a bit of–yeah.  It’s–it’s very unique because then it means defining your growth in a different way and insisting that it happen despite the absence of this thing that makes it happen naturally.

 

 

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This roundtable with Sharon Maguire and Renee Zellweger will do down in the books. What a lovely conversation; I wish we could’ve chatted even longer. We did, however, get to hop in the photo booth with Renée and Sharon after the roundtable. What a surreal experience!

Bridget Jones’s Baby is, perhaps, my favorite film from the series, and definitely the most hilarious of the bunch. It’s a great film for date night with the husband, but an even better night out with the girls! Bridget Jones from Universal Pictures is in theaters now.

Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones and Emma Thompson Writers: Helen Fielding, Emma Thompson, Dan Mazer Directed by: Sharon Maguire Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward

 
Full disclosure: I was invited by Universal Pictures to participate in this roundtable interview. I did not receive compensation. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Celebrating World Play-Doh Day + Unboxing Fun Play-Doh Package

It’s World Play-Doh Day and the brand is also celebrating 60 years of fun today, September 16, 2016!  We are so thrilled to celebrate such an iconic brand, and a fun toy that has brought so many laughs and smiles to our home and millions of others.

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Over the years, we have used Play-Doh to build creatures, help with reading reinforcement, sensory play, brother bonding and so much more! We’ve made a few videos of our own, too!

 

In case your kids aren’t on YouTube as incessantly as mine, Play-Doh has an entire sector and fanbase for videos on the social platform. I can’t even tell you how many hours Littles has spent mesmerized watching people unbox cool Play-Doh sets and creating fun things with this fun squishy compound. 

 

 

It was a @hasbro superhero-filled day for this guy! #marvelspectacular

A photo posted by Jen Rabulan-Bertram (@jenrab) onOct 24, 2015 at 12:12pm PDT

 

Our friends at Hasbro know how obsessed my guys are with Play-Doh, so they sent us a fun box in celebration of World Play-Doh Day. Check out the chaos that ensued:

 



More Play-Doh, Please

Our playroom might be overflowing with every color on the spectrum of Play-Doh, but here’s just a few of the latest sets that we have our eye on:

 

Play-Doh Town 3-in-1 Town Center

This cool playset allows kids to create their own town. They can create everything from the clock tower, to the figures’ hairstyles, to the local birds hanging out on the rooftops! Before the citizens go on a downtown drive, stop at the mechanic shop to make custom hubcaps and other automotive details.

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Stamp and Roll Featuring The Minions
Combine those quirky Minions with Play-Doh, and we are officially obsessed! The rolling tools are always a hit; and I love that the Minions are Can Heads! These are two of our favorite things, so this cool collaboration will be a fun stocking stuffer or surprise.
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Doctor Drill and Fill

This set reminds me of one of my favorite Play-Doh sets as a kid. Who doesn’t love playing doctor or dentist, especially when you’re the one performing the work and NOT in that chair!912bf8282096532304af38327b2f06b8f6adf9a4

Full disclosure: Though we are genuinely obsessed, this is not a sponsored post. We did, however, receive a fun package form Hasbro. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Insider Tips for Shopping at The Mills at Jersey Gardens

My family has often joked that I shop like it’s my job. Well, friends, I’m here to tell you that dreams do come true! I’m so excited about my most recent partnership with one of my absolute favorite malls, The Mills at Jersey Gardens.

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Located just a few minutes outside of NYC in Elizabeth, NJ, The Mills at Jersey Gardens is an incredible shopping destination with over 200 stores, with many of them being outlets and factory stores. Just some of the featured stores include: Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5TH, Marshalls, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Michael Kors, Century 21 Department Store, Abercrombie & Fitch Outlet, Coach Outlet, Tommy Hilfiger, Uniqlo.

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I was tasked with doing some back to school and fall shopping for my family and sharing my experience. So, today, for Takeover Tuesday, I over on the Mills’ Instagram sharing some of my favorite adventures from this massive outlet mall. Head over to the Mills’ Instagram account and double tap for some of my fave stuff.

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And because I’ve been obsessively shopping here for well over 10 years, I know this mall like the back of my hand. Here are just a few of my favorite insider tips.

Savings Passport

Many of the stores at The Mills are outlets or factory stores of the brands that we know and love. If you grab one of the Savings Passport at the Information Desk, you can find a list of the stores who offer additional savings. IMG 7064 2 hese discounts can often be stacked with other sales within the stores. My favorite discounts found in the Savings Passport are from the Gap, Under Armour and H&M. The discounts found in the Passport can only be used once.

Spend the Day

The Mills at Jersey Gardens isn’t one of those Malls that you can just run in and run out. Well, it can be if you are on a mission.

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If you have the time, especially on big shopping trips or sale times, consider spending several hours at the mall. I always bring my preschooler’s stroller, which comes in handy when he gets tired and when I need a place to haul all of my bags. ha!

Prime Parking

On extremely busy shopping times, The Mills will get crowded. Best time for me is during the week without kids or when it first opens on the weekend. I recommend parking at Bed Bath and Beyond and going through the store. BBB is located upstairs and is next to many of my favorite shops. When leaving or if I have to drop bags off and go back to shop (this has happened many times) BBB is a central location. I love to pick up home essentials at this Bed Bath, which is perfect since I can grab it on my way out. Not to mention, Bed Bath and Beyond has a bathroom available for their shoppers which is located by the Registry area, somewhat close to the back door! It’s always quiet, there’s a changing table and rarely has a line. Perfect for families with littles!

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From our latest trip to The Mills, I grabbed a ton of basics and grabbed a few new fun accessories for myself! If you’re looking for a new bag or wallet, don’t forget to check out Michael Kors, the Coach Outlet and the newly opened Kate Spade downstairs. 

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As a sports mama, we go through athletic clothes, sneakers and cleats incessantly. Be sure to check out the massive Marshalls for cleats for kids and adults. I always save at least 50% on cleats at this location. This time around, I bought my big guy some new Nike football cleats for $20. I spotted the same ones at a big box sports store for $45! Score!

Don’t forget to catch me on The Mills at Jersey Gardens’ Instagram page!

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received compensation to share my experience. 

Getting the Dirt on Germs at Lysol Germ School

 This is a sponsored post. Thank you for supporting The Next Kid Thing.

 

Before the kids go back to school, I went back to school—Lysol Germ School—to get a crash course on germs.

 

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Photo credit: Will Star


Hosted by my friends, Audrey and Vera, several of my blogger friends and I gathered together in a very chic classroom setting at Offsite in NYC.

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Photo credit: Will Star

 

 

 

After catching up with friends and grabbing breakfast, including a delicious smoothie from House of Juice, I settled in to my desk right in the front of the class. Audrey and Vera welcomed us and gave us a great overview of what to expect.

 

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 Photo credit: Will Star



Germ expert, Joe Rubino, led an informative discussion on the different types of germs. 

Key facts that I learned: bacteria can be reproduced inside or outside the body as they cause infections and viruses need to be inside living cells in order to grow and reproduce.

 

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Photo credit: Will Star

 

Another very memorable fact from Rubino’s slide show was that people with cold and flu infections can spread the virus to others up to about 6 ft. away.

As the R&D Director, Hygiene Personal Care & Surface at RB, Rubino is considered an expert in hygiene and hygiene-related fields. Needless to say, with two school-aged kids, I was all ears during the crash course on germs.

For a closer look at how to avoid and control the spread of germs, Rubino led an exercise where we spread a gel on our hands and were then asked to wash with soap.

We all scrubbed our hands, presumably how we’d do it at home and how we’d teach our kids to do. Upon our return, Rubino shined a black light on our hands to show spots that we missed or and any other dirty spots. It turns out, many of us missed washing the outer most part of our palms, right above the wrist. I washed my hands thoroughly two times and made sure to open the door with a paper towel. It turned out, I had very minimal spots that glowed in the black light. I confessed that we spent a lot of time in hospitals, so proper hand washing has ultimately become an ingrained part of our routine.

 

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Photo credit: Will Star

 

For the second part of our day at Lysol Germ School, I sat in on a roundtable discussion with pediatric consultant Dr. Jennifer Zubler. She answered many of our questions about health. She reinforced that hand washing with soap is the most effective way to avoid the spread of germs.

Sanitizers, such as the alcohol-based gels that are common in our mom bags, are the next best thing. Sanitizer is not as effective, but it works when you don’t have access to soap and water. Someone asked about how to clean electronic devices to avoid the spread of germs. Dr. Zubler recommended using Lysol Disinfecting Wipes when it comes to cleaning screens and keyboards.

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Photo credit: Will Star

 

According to the CDC, 38 million school days are missed due to the flu and tens of millions more are lost due to colds. Practicing healthy habits like hand washing and surface disinfection can help prevent the spread of germs, helping reduce the number of sick days.

At our school, multiple canisters of Lysol Disinfectant Wipes are at the top of the school supply list. I use Lysol around the house, in almost every room because I have two boys who gravitate to anything gross. I tend to pick up multiple packs from Harmon or Bed Bath and Beyond, where I can use our 20% off.

 

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Photo credit: Will Star

As a Box Tops collecting family, I loved learning that Lysol has partnered with Box Tops for Education as the exclusive household cleaning brand. You can help support your child’s school with Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray, which are eligible for Box Tops redemption. And speaking of great partnerships: Lysol has partnered with the National Education Association (NEA) and National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) to create the Healthy Habits Program. Healthy Habits Week will kick off on September 19, the peak back to school season. To learn more about the Healthy Habits Program and family activities on healthy habits, check out Lysol.com/HealthyHabits

 Start the new school year off with a fresh and healthy start by revisiting proper hand washing and sneezing techniques. Cover your mouth and wash your hands with soap is a constant refrain with my guys!

 

Full disclosure: I was compensated for participating in Lysol Germ School hosted by Audrey and Vera. As always, opinions on NKT are my own

Power Their Dreams: Racing with Heart and the 2016 Olympics

This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/P&G. Thanks for supporting The Next Kid Thing

Having just finished up an exciting summer packed with sports and outdoor fun, staying active is what keeps my boys busy and content. It’s such a luxury to have so many different youth sports available within our town and community. You name it, my boys probably play it, but it’s track and field that truly challenges both of my boys.

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Last year, both of my boys gave track and field try, and it was an exciting change to the other organized sports that are offered in our area. At just 8 years old, Biggie, is my uber competitive athlete who thrives on the thrill of any sport. Littles is my dreamer and uncoordinated daredevil. Because of Little’s unique medical needs, his seizure disorder left scarring on his brain where coordination originates. Needless to say, his drive outpaces his physical speed. Because of this, I love that both of my boys are able to harness their different athletic abilities and shine in their own way during our community track season.

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We often celebrate Bigs for his many achievements, including his recent completion of a kids’ triathlon. He swam, biked and ran his way to 2nd in his age group. Though competition was fierce, I caught myself as we cheered and overdid the competition aspect at times. I was reminded to check myself when I noticed a mom running along side of her 5 year old who was struggling to finish the running part of the race. At this age, these activities are all about trying new things and having fun, despite what the super competitive kids (and their equally driven parents) might say. I strive to be that mom running alongside of her kid, regardless of where they come in the race.

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No matter the sport, Littles is always alongside of us cheering for big brother. If his athletic ambitions match his drive, I know he’s going to shine in his own unique way. He will be the kid that gets out there and races his heart out every single time. Even though he was a bit young to compete, last year, Littles participated in a timed run. The coaches called the race, and they were off! Many of the kids were 3-4 years older than him, but my guy ran as fast as he could and finished the race with a beaming smile.

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If there’s anything I learn from having two totally opposite kids: it takes a lot of courage to get out there, it takes even more heart to finish a race.

And speaking of racing, we will be all eyes when decathlete Ashton Eaton has his chance to shine on August 17 during the Olympic Games. These athletes not only have one concentration, but 10 different events to compete and champion.

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And with these accolades and achievements we’ve been watching during The Olympics, I constantly stress to my guys that these athletes have worked multiple years to get to where they are today. Many athletes forgo traditional jobs to focus on training for their sport. By purchasing products from sponsors such as P&G, we’re able to help athletes such as Ashton Eaton race to the finish line or leap even higher.

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The hus is currently using the Gillette Fusion ProShield Razor with FlexBall Technology, which is one of the many P&G products that can be found at Walmart http://bit.ly/2aDcGeR  and supports Team USA. This razor’s FlexBall Technology helps with full contact to keep my husband’s beard trimmed and groomed. 


Whether it’s running a triathlon for fun or racing for Gold in The Olympics, I hope my kids learn that hard work and heart go a long way. Let’s power their dreams. Buy brands that support Team USA, such as P&G products at Walmart.