Monday, January 26, 2015

Having A Moment: It's Tough Saying Goodbye to 2014, My Year of New Beginnings


I'm Baaaacccckkk! Sorry I've been MIA for a bit, I needed to take some time to reflect and couldn't return to this space until I could get this post done. It's really hard to sum up a year of happenings in one post without boring you all to death.

We're officially almost a month into the New Year and I'm honestly having a hard time letting go of 2014, which I know seems silly but with all the events and milestones that happened this year I'm actually kind of nervous about what the future has in store. It actually didn't sink in until I started collaging the photos for this post, just how monumental this year actually was in various ways. I get goose-bumps thinking about the amazing people my boys and I have been fortunate enough to meet, and when I play back inspiring conversations I have had, I get freaking excited thinking about how to bring those words to fruition in 2015. 

Now don't get me wrong, by no means was 2014 perfect! I shed tears, I got angry, I doubted myself, but oh boy did we have some great laughs & good times! And it took a low moment during the beginning of the year for me to realize we needed to celebrate life despite our circumstances because as cliche as it sounds, tomorrow just isn't promised.



January 23, 2014: after 26 days in the hospital and an emergency surgery due to strictures and fistulas in my intestines (I couldn't eat anything thicker than the consistency of applesauce and the photo taken is the next morning after 2ft. of intestines were removed) due to Crohns disease, I vowed that 2014 would be my year of New Beginnings. After dealing with such a roller-coaster ride of flare-ups and pain killers and then facing an unnerving experience like that hospitalization, I decided to only focus on the things that were in my control and that would make me and my family happy. We needed to just live in the moment!


 Living in the Moment in NYC: Creating Memories

So as a family, we did what we do best: despite any health issues or financial woes we hit the streets and enjoyed experiencing our crazy, fast paced city and discovered new places and connected with people unexpectedly.

Thanks to Facebook, relationships were re-established as my hubby reconnected with his father and that side of our family after 16 years!!! Our lil' monsters met their Grand-pops, theor daddy's brother and sister (the trio of bald headed guys is my hubby on the left, his dad in the middle and brother on the right) their great-grandmother and a ton of aunts, uncles and cousins over the summer. So, crazy right?


From my baby Tristan starting preschool and having his first school birthday party, to my oldest experiencing Alvin Ailey and getting excepted to a prestigious ballet program in the city, I was one proud & emotional mama that year. Their daddy and I couldn't be more lucky, to have been chosen as parents to, two monsters who are beyond amazing little boys and it makes me sorta sad that the time is just speeding by before our eyes.

NYC is nothing short of things to do and we made our best attempts to see as much of it as we could while not hurting the wallets too much. We rounded up family for a trip to Flushing Zoo and  the adults reminisced and while riding the carousel & as Marvel lovers we had so much fun checking out the incredible, stunt-filled live show at the IZOD center. Some of the coolest things we got to do as a family for the first time was to visit Madame Toussand wax museum, discovered a secret water feature at The American Museum of Natural History and explored midtown on The RIDE, a one-of-a-kind tour bus experience which featured the boys picture in a local newspaper for a few days before the year ended. 

Our metrocard took us everywhere from the New York Public library for a unique exhibit on children's books, to an off Broadway shadow puppet performance of The Old Man and The Old Moon at the New Victory theater and then got us to Brooklyn to check out the dopest street art in the boroughs and to the Bronx Zoo  to explore with our nature club for hours once a month.

Although we make sure to prioritize our free time to our kids, we find it equally important to carve in moments for ourselves and with friends, which ensures we don't lose our sanity & sense of self. I'm always looking forward to celebrating any occasion  whether with my three long time friends from high school while dolled up in sequins over dinner or with my hubby who cooked up the sweetest surprise rooftop brunch right above our apartment for our 6 year wedding anniversary in August.

Blogger Life

                         

It's really kind of crazy how in just a year, my little blog that started off focusing on the fun we had been having in NYC as a family, has allowed us to meet so many awe-inspiring people and how it's been a platform to help us form great relationships and to create some pretty-freaking awesome memories! 

I've sort of just been learning as I go along & fortunately I have met some fantastic and supportive bloggers & digital influencers along the way at events like: Well Rounded NY's Tips by TrimesterGirls Night Out  at the car show and at conferences like Blogger Bash (my first conference) and Fashion Forward who have given sound advice, have been my cheering squad and many of whom I call my blogger babes. In all honesty, we probably see each other more than we see our closest friends and family and even our kids look forward to the next event & hanging out with their blogger buddies.

I love that blogging is something that allows me to spend time with my family and gives us something to look forward to from month to month. My two boys even discovered they love making videos and started recently creating reviews for their series Must Haves for Lil Monsters and started another with their dad, Lil' Monsters in the Kitchen , which we are hoping to do more of this year.

 The Amazing Things Crossed of our Bucket List:

1. Attended the NYC Wine and Food Festival which was probably my hubby's fave event.
2. Watched celebrities walk the red carpet of The Amazing Spiderman 2  premier.
3. Saw the Lion King on Broadway, which was phenomenal.
4. Saw not 1, but 2 shows for NYFW and one was under the tents at Lincoln Center.
5. Got the closest I ever dreamed of getting to Oprah at the Live Your Life tour.


Becoming WWE Ambassadors



If my maternal grandma was alive today, I know hands down she would have loved to share in the amazing experiences we had thanks to the WWE, their Superstars and Divas. I grew up watching the greats like the Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker, Hulk Hogan and Brett the Hitman Hart with her and my dad and it brings back so many great memories. Now that I have two boys who are die hard fans I'm so beyond grateful that blogging has allowed us the chance to experience such exciting moments as a family. 

When we took pics with Triple H at the  Scooby Doo Wrestlemania Mystery event I literally got teary eyed because he was one of my gramps's favorites and I knew she was smiling from heaven. From attending Extreme Rules and seeing Evolution get back together to fight the Shield, to my oldest son CJ singing & dancing with Darren Young at the KidzVuz BTS party and meeting his crush Natalya........ to bringing my dad to his first live event, creating a WWE tribute video and becoming WWE Brand Ambassadors, we are so thankful for the fun that has brought us closer together. And let's not get it twisted, my boys are huge fans and can name all the signature moves but i'm the true fanatic! 


A lot of people I know just aren't moved much by meeting celebrities because honestly, they are human just like us. And well, although that's very true, excuse me while I say " I took a freaking selfie with Boo (Lea Delaria) from Orange is the New Black at a Kiehls party, haha!" and she has some pretty awesome moves on the dance floor.

I love meeting celebrities, especially ones who have impacted my way of thinking in a huge way. Meeting GMA anchor Robin Roberts was probably one of the most moving moments for me last year, her book "Everybody's Got Something" although it was her testimony on how she handled beating breast cancer and a rare blood disorder, her journey resonated so deeply with my heart. From page to page I found myself scribbling in the margins my own reflections and crying at how easily I could relate to her story.  

        1O More Fave Celeb Encounters by Far Were:  

1. Winning an Instagram contest to meet celeb stylist June Ambrose a few days after my release from the hospital and the day after my birthday. Also in attendance was the Glow Maven Latham Thomas, owner of Carols Daughter Lisa Price and NJ Housewife reality star Dina Manzo, who I all admire as mom-preneurs.
2. Attending the Henry and Me Premier with my hubby and meeting Yankee Coach Joe Girardi and his daughter and making my sister seriously jealous when I told her we met Chazz Palminteri from the movie A Bronx Tale who joked with us about opening car doors.
3. Getting complimented on my color blocked outfit & advise from Amber Sabathia at a NYFW event hosted by The Moms Network.
4. Channeling my inner DIY'er and getting crafty with Sabrina Soto  who was named Velcro Brand Amabassador.
5. Enjoying a summer day in Brooklyn at an Essence Magazine Festival and meeting two of my fave bloggers Gorgeous in Grey and Rae Holliday and Project Runway star Korto Momolu who said she was love'n my statement necklace.
6. Listening to tips on how to capture the best family moments from photographer Anne Geddes who was a keynote speaker at Bloggerbash.
7. Reminiscing on my days as an MTV lover and chatting it up at a #FeelGlade event with Sway
 who is hilarious.
8.  By Far Robin Williams was one of my all time favorite actors and I wish he could've been in the room the day I had the chance to interview the cast of Night at The Museum: Secret of the Tomb, you could see how hard it was for Ben Stiller  to discuss their final moments together.
9. My high energy kids enjoyed an afternoon away from all the gadgets and gizmos and headed to a Nickelodeon Day of Play event and had a blast meeting Nick Stars like Jack Griffo.
10. I wrapped up my year by attending a luncheon where I got to sit next to Marlo Thomas 
as she shared the inspiring mission of St. Jude's Children Hospital & the Thanks and Giving campaign.
So, What Now?

Before this month is over I promised my boys I would print out a book of photos for them because these experiences were beyond special and deserve more than being stored on my phone or liked on Instagram and Facebook. I want them to be able to flip through the pages of this year even when I'm gone and remember all the fun they had, people they met and achievements and firsts that happened.  We always joke about all the cool things our boys have been able to experience before the age of ten, that we are just experiencing in our 30's and that we never even dreamed of happening and I hope if nothing else they learn from this year that there is light after darkness and as cheesy as it sounds, brighter days after you weather a storm!

For me, 2014 proved that after darkness there is light, I can't even wrap my head around the idea that I might not have been alive to experience all of this.  I'm not sure how 2015 can top my year of New Beginnings but my boys and I say bring it on! We are looking forward to a year of good health, growth and happiness and wish the very same to you and yours!

What was the highlight of 2014 for you & what are you most excited for this year?


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Give the Gift of Self Care & Ring in the New Year with a #DoveBeautyBar Giveaway

Disclosure: Opinions expressed are 100% my own, guests received a gift bag for attending and I received no other compensation to host this giveaway.




In just a few hours we'll be counting down to the end of 2014 and excitedly welcoming in the New Year and most likely a new set of resolutions, or what I refer to as daily steps to improvement. One of my biggest vows to myself is to set aside more "Mom - Me" time, even if it's a brief twenty minutes to myself (when the kids are asleep & hubby is at work, I squeeze in an episode of New Girl & flip through a magazine while indulging in a cookie & glass of Moscato) in some shape or form.

 It's funny my hubby and I were just talking this morning about how he manages to get in his "Dad-Me" time even if it means just grabbing the dog and taking him for a walk to clear his head. Yet I, and I'm sure quite a few other ladies out there don't put themselves as a priority and when we do, often feel guilty & question what other more important tasks, we could be crossing off our lists. Shame on us!




Earlier this month I attended the Dove  Build Your Own Beauty Bar event on behalf of Lady and the Blog, at the De Berardinis Salon where both media and the public were invited to an evening of pampering. Guests stocked up on beauty essentials for the season, enjoyed a customized makeover and got festive nail art at the mani station, while mingling and enjoying light bites and cocktails.   

One of our very first actions of the day is probably where our self-care and beauty regimen should begin, right in the shower! I remember after having each one of my boys, managing to hop in the shower was one of those fleeting luxurious moments and even now with them both 9 and 4 I live for that quite solitude (maybe not so quite while I belt out tunes on spotify) to help me jump start the day.

Dove has been a long time staple in my house, and has been since I was a kid (I always loved the scent and how creamy the lather was & how soft my hands felt after washing them). Having received the Best of Beauty Award from Allure magazine and If you've ever used a Dove beauty bar, you know it's not like any ordinary soap. And if you haven't tried it yet you'll discover that with it's signature 1/4 moisturizing cream it replenishes nutrients lost during cleansing and helps your skin feel firmer and more elastic, not tight, itchy or dry. I hate when my face feels like it's cracking after using some other products in the past.

No matter the fragrance preference we can all enjoy the beauty benefits in the New Dove Beauty washes that are made with an ultra-mild cleanser found in face moisturizers &  provide smoother, softer skin after just one shower (I won't even lie, I've stopped buying shaving cream and replaced it with this collection because the lather works just as well for me). 


This time of year, my skin gets super dry & flaky so I know it needs lots of moisture and that I need to stay hydrated. That evening, leading, dermatologist, Dr. Ellen Marmur was on hand to prescribe guests the type of Dove products that would help address their skin's personal needs.





Without a doubt the ladies were enjoying their consultations and getting a bit of pre-holiday glam, for FREE! I had such a good time with my glam-fairy Michael who had me laughing the entire time as he helped me create my customized lip-color, and they made it right in front of me! 


This event was a lovely reminder before the holidays that we all need to take time out to focus on ourselves. I am true believer that in order to take care of others we first need to make sure to take care of ourselves. Yes, Be GOOD to YOU! 

So as a special treat to welcome in the New Year, I've teamed up with Dove to offer one reader a year supply of Dove Beauty products: Your choice of an assortment of (8) Dove Beauty Washes or (16) Dove Beauty Bars. This giveaway is open to U.S residents only ages 18+

To enter: Simply answer the question below in the comments and then the rafflecopter for any additional entries. Lots of Luck and continued blessings in 2015!

How are you planning to take better care of yourself in the New Year & Which Dove Beauty Wash or Dove beauty Bar  are you hoping to try or gift ?



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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Don't Miss Your Opportunity! 4 Reasons Why You Should See The New Annie Movie #AnnieMoms #NorwegianMoms



I remember the day after Thanksgiving I planned to have a family movie night at home with my two boys.When they first saw my choice, they both gave me this weird scrunched up face and started whining "Mom what is this?, not this mom can we watch something else?" I mean I didn't blame them, Annie did look outdated, but I convinced them to give it a chance in hopes they'd love it the way me and my sissy did growing up. Needless to say they were instantly hooked! Seriously who could resist all those amazing songs and such a sweet story? After watching, my 9 year old CJ who loves singing and dancing looked at me and said "Mom, It's not fair! I'll never get to play a part in Annie because the orphans are all girls."

As soon as I spotted the invite from The Moms in my inbox to attend an early screening of Annie prior to it's release in theaters on Dec. 19th.  I quickly rsvp'd (the hubby even put in a late slip for work) because we really wanted to see this latest interpretation of the film. The event which was hosted by Denise, Melissa and Norwegian Cruise Lines was held at the Sony screening room and was filled with all my favorite mom/parent bloggers, vloggers and their kiddies who were all excited to see the film and rocked Annie tees and red dresses. .



Like Annie who showed grit while making it in NYC, many of us know sometimes it can be "A hard knock life." It was great to hear from The Moms and their kids about how much fun they had escaping city life for some family fun while cruising like a Norwegian. One great feature they raved about was Freestyle cruising which enables guests the opportunity to create their own unforgettable memories by allowing flexibility in creating their dining, fun and activities.



At the end of the screening we were all treated to a special sit down with the young girls who played the "Foster Kids" in the film and enjoyed listening to how much fun they had on set with Jamie Foxx (Will Stacks) and Cameron Diaz (Miss Hannigan), their reaction when they found out they had gotten the part, and how the opportunity to act changed their lives. Watch the video, aren't they adorbs?

Here's 4 Reasons why you shouldn't miss an opportunity to see the film:



An updated Modern twist: The movie stayed pretty true to the original story line: Annie is the bubbly, witty, and beyond wise-for-her-age little girl who remains optimistic through it all as she hopes to be reunited with her parents. After spending time with a wealthy, unattached mogul who saves her from her foster mom, he is swept off his feet by the young girl who teaches him how to love and to loosen up enough to be loved in return. But clearly the biggest difference was that the movie featured cellphones and mentioned tweeting, facebook and George Clooney which got a few laughs out of us. As   pointed out in their interview "it's really relate-able to this generation of kids."

Talented cast:  Nobody in our house loves Quvenzhane Wallis more than my 4 year old Tristan who was mesmerized while watching her rambunctious character Hush Puppy in the movie Beasts of the Southern Wild (although the context was totally over his head he could totally relate to her wild spirit) and you couldn't help but fall in love with her as she sang her heart out and put so much emotion into playing Annie. You could also see the  seemingly natural, heart-tugging dramatic & comedic connection she had with Jamie Fox on set which definitely made their relationship play out beautifully.

I think the first time my son CJ had ever seen Jamie Foxx in a film was earlier this year in his role as Electro in The Amazing Spiderman 2, so after this film when he turned to me and said "Mom I didn't Know Jamie Foxx could sing" I understood why, but let it be known that it was nice to hear his smooth voice again (says the woman who belted out his hit songs back in her high school days).

Miss Hannigan was actually one of my favorite characters in the original film, you couldn't help but love to hate her and I think she was just desperate for attention and misunderstood. I've gotta say Cameron Diaz was awesome, playing the uncaring foster mom who was a tad bit overbearing, extra flirty & unexpectedly really funny. 

Catchy pop music and lyrics with Meaning: Have you heard the soundtrack yet? Without a doubt you may find yourself tapping your feet to the beat just a bit because these well known songs seemed to have gotten a bit of a pop remix that was integrated with the sounds of NYC streets & it really works. There are just so many positive, teachable moments within the lyrics of songs like "Tomorrow" and "You're never fully dressed without a smile", that provide lessons on staying optimistic and dreaming big.

               

Opportunities seemed to be a reoccurring theme in the film: Mr. Stacks had the opportunity to become mayor or to change the life of a NYC child and make a difference. Miss Hannigan was bitter about missed opportunities of stardom as a singer years ago and the jerky villain of the film Guy (Bobby Carnavale) didn't want to lose out on the opportunity of a big pay out, regardless off the consequences.

The newest song "Opportunity" which is sung by Quvenzhane and Sia on the soundtrack was so heartfelt and inspiring, especially for my family as our 9 year old CJ was just selected to attend a prestigious public school for ballet in the city after randomly auditioning (and training one day a week for 3 months) . He's since heard the song a few times and can totally relate, realizing it's such great moment and he decided to transfer schools after the New Year. I'm hoping he'll one day hit the stage to perform to it. I tear up every time I hear it.

"Oh, now look at me, And this opportunity
Is standing right in front of me
But one thing I know, It's only part luck and so
I'm putting on my best show
Under the spotlight, I'm starting my life
Big dreams becoming real tonight
So look at me and this opportunity
You're witnessing my moment, you see?"


I'll be the first to admit that most times, when I read or hear about an Iconic movie from my childhood being redone I can be a bit of a skeptic, especially when it comes to musicals. Sometimes the remakes just don't go over as well and the magic of the original really just couldn't be duplicated but this latest version wasn't over the top & was nice to see.

Don't you want to see what the buzz is all about? Did somebody say Golden Globe nomination(s)? Stay up to date on any news by following Annie on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Friday, December 19, 2014

Must Haves for Lil' Monsters: Crayola Paint Maker Review and Giveaway (3 Crayola Paint Makers + $50 Visa Giftcard) #MustHavesforLilMonsters


Disclosure: The Crayola product, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Crayola. The opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own, no other compensation was received.



When searching for gifts I usually have the hardest time deciding on what type of product to purchase and get so caught up in the idea of what's trending for lil' monsters vs. what the kid's parent would appreciate the child receiving. More times than not when I ask a parent what should I purchase, they request getting board games or puzzles, books and supplies for arts and crafts. With the weather changing and more time being spent indoors, I think arts and crafts activities like painting are the perfect way for children to pass away the time by allowing them to express themselves creatively. 

Recently my boys got the chance to try out the Crayola Paint Maker and just loved making their own colors and how simple it was. Their cousin in Arizona was born on Christmas day and so we're sending her a package to celebrate and we thought it would be fun to paint stencil designed shapes in various colors. Personalized gifting always seems like a sweet touch and both the kids that help to create it and the person receiving it feel extra special.



Steps:
After pouring the white base paint into the pot, you would tear the required number of (primary colors: red, blue, yellow) strips to put into the paint pot to make the colors liked best.

Then you would place the small pot of paint onto mixer and stir it up to make your color, just make sure to put the perforated strips as far inside the white base paint so that the color dissolves .

            

Benefits
• Allows kids to be in control of their creative experiences while
also sparking their imagination
• Enables kids to make a REAL Crayola product in the colors they
want to create with
• New paint strip technology and washable paint base
• Fun, easy process

Features
• Create customized washable paint colors
• New color strip paint technology reduces mess
• Built in storage
• Includes:
• 1 Paint Maker base unit
• (1) 2.5 oz bottle of paint base
• (10) 6” x 9” sheets of white paper
• 75 Paint Strips
• 15 Paint pots
• 15 paint pot labels
• 1 Coloring Mixing Guide
• 1 Paint Brush
• 1 Instruction Sheet

Age: 8+
SRP: 24.99



The boys then grabbed some stencils and their inner lil' artists got to work while they painted birthday decorations and used crayola broadline pastel markers to stencil in a message.


Using the Crayola Paint Maker is really simple and relatively mess free! I must say the coolest part for the boys, was naming their paint color : Elmo red, Graper purple, Sonic blue and Kermit green.



Because we loved it so much we want our readers to enjoy a little paint maker fun in the new year, so we're choosing 4 winners & offering to giveaway:

(3) Crayola Paint Makers and (1) $50 Visa Gift Card 
to anyone 18+ years and lives in the continental U.S.. Closes 12/31/14

First Step: leave a comment down below: What would you name 2 of your paint colors? and then enter the Rafflecopter for additional Entries.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

WWE's Tribute to The Troops Holiday Special Airs Tonight 12/18/14

                           
The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends and creating those long lasting memories and traditions. During this time of year I'm always moved by the messages we see on T.V delivered by the many troops overseas to their families, while away for the holidays. This time of year is extremely special to me and I couldn't imagine not being around my hubby, and two lil' monsters and family. Growing up I remember when my gramps was still living, she would watch the Bob Hope specials that would come on, after fixing us dinner and it was always so nice to see these men and women who serve our country be recognized and treated to such a special day when they've done so much for us and deserved to be saluted.




Multi-platinum recording artists and two-time CMA Vocal Duo of the Year winners, Florida Georgia Line will join WWE Superstars and Divas to honor the United States Armed Forces with the 12th annual WWE holiday special, Tribute to the Troops, which will air on USA Network as a part of “WWE WEEK” on Wednesday, December 17, from 8-10pm ET, and will re-air as a one-hour special on NBC on Saturday, December 27, from 8-9pm ET.


In the tradition of Bob Hope, WWE brings together the best of entertainment and pop culture with celebrity appearances and performances for our servicemen and women to celebrate their dedication and commitment to our country with a holiday program that is considered one of television’s most patriotic and heartwarming shows. NBCUniversal joins WWE in saluting our troops with special messages from some of their networks’ biggest names such as TODAY anchors Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Natalie Morales, and Al RokerSeth MeyersThe Kardashians, Andy Cohen, Giuliana Rancic, Katherine Heigl, Lester Holt, Padma Lakshmi,Mark Feuerstein, Debra Messing, Tom Brokaw, Rachel Maddow and Carson Daly, as well as the coaches of The Voice, PharrellWilliams, Gwen Stefani, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton.

“For 12 consecutive years, WWE has been entertaining American military personnel both overseas and domestically as a way to thank them for their commitment to our country,” said WWE Chairman & CEO, Vince McMahon. “Our servicemen and women work tirelessly for our freedom and we are proud to continue our Tribute to the Troops tradition.”

WWE Tribute to the Troops will chronicle WWE’s visit to United States Army post Fort Benning, where WWE Superstars and Divas will spend two days giving back to those who serve and their families with hospital visits and Be a STAR anti-bullying rallies. Fort Benning supports more than 120,000 active-duty military, family members, reserve soldiers, retirees, and civilian employees and has been the home of the Infantry division since 1918.




The television special will also highlight WWE’s annual goodwill visit to our troops who are fighting for our freedom overseas. WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon, WWE Superstars Big Show® and R-Truth® and WWE Divas Summer Rae™ and Alicia Fox™ will travel abroad to spread some holiday cheer to the men and women serving our country far from home during the holiday season.

WWE’s dedication to the military is a long-standing tradition that continues year-round, through programs that boost morale for soldiers, offer free tickets for active servicemen and women, and provide workforce assistance for veterans through a partnership with Hire Heroes USA.

For more photos, videos and info on the WWE's efforts in supporting the troops: WWE.com/military 

*Disclosure: As a WWE brand ambassador I will share with readers information on programming, community involvement, events and products. Any opinions expressed are 100% my own and there was no compensation for sharing this content. Photo credit: WWE 2014 







Monday, December 15, 2014

Must Haves for Lil' Monsters Holiday Gift Guide & #Giveaway


It's kind of crazy that the year is almost over and that Christmas is only 10 days away, yepp that's right less than 2 weeks! This year my two lil' monsters and I have been able to work with some of the best toy brands, that have always aimed to create the coolest, most innovative and educational products for our children and over the next week we will be wrapping up our Must Haves for Lil' Monsters series for the year with reviews from some of our featured top 12 Toys for this holiday season. We thought it would be pretty awesome to celebrate the holidays by offering a few of these amazing toys in a giveaway to our readers as a thank you for supporting us this year.

  • InnoTab MAX is the perfect tablet for kids ages 3-9 with 650+  cartridges and age appropriate downloadable content. Kids can take pictures, create movies, with Kids Connect they are able to send text messages to their parents (for free), play videos, music and more! Watch & read our review.
  • Your little singer will love belting out tunes with the My Little Pony Equestria Girls Singing Twilight Sparkle doll who has fun rainbow-tied colored hair, wings, microphone stand and can really sing!
  • Fans of the new TMNT cartoon are going to love the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Monopoly that's based on the show and features 22 locations in NYC (Shredders hideout, Splinters Lair, Donnies Lab) and has some great token pieces they'll love to use as either a good guy or bad guy (shredders mask, a pizza pie, Kraang, Spike). 
  • If you know a dino lover who'd love to tame a T-Rex, they will have a blast with Zoomer Dino an interactive robot that moves and sounds like a real dinosaur. You can use your hand or controller to try and tame him but beware like any other T-Rex he may chomp, roar and spin around if you make him angry. For laughs, he may even dance or let out a silly burp or fart (CJ thinks these functions are hilarious). 
  • Wouldn't it be awesome to be able to design your dream car on paper and bring it to life in an app? Race car fans and kids of all ages will think the Virtual Design Pro Car Collection is amazing as they race their designs across a virtual stunt course. With 10 designs to choose from the racing fun can begin using iOS and android smartphones and tablets as well as an ipod touch.
  • Tristan loves watching Elmo the musical & your child will have a blast singing, counting and playing along with Let's Imagine Elmo who wears 3 different hats and pretends to be, a cowboy, prince or sea captain. Kids will love the interactive games and songs and when Elmo is just being himself he's still tons of fun.

  • We absolutely love supporting small businesses and are big fans of Etsy and featuring shops on our site and recently featured a product in our gift guide for "Him" from Handz/ReStyle Art. With all the exciting buzz over the new Star Wars movie coming out in 2015 we thought we'd feature this trio of Star Wars themed Scandinavian retro print posters that are beyond cool to look at it.

  • Encourage STEM based learning with the robotic VEX Ant that promotes hands on play by having little ones build this humongously cool robot using 150+ easy to snap on pieces. The robotic ant can be controlled or you can let him guide himself as it tries to steer itself clear of any obstacles in the way.
  • If you've been on Pinterest you must have stumbled upon the obsession with melted art and Crayola has created a simple to use MeltDown Art set that's tons of fun for your budding artist who loves getting messy while being creative.
  • Who doesn't love taking a Selfie? Grab your friends and family for some indoor fun, filled with laughs. The Selfie Game is a cross between apples to apples and charades, where players have to act out the silly prompt given on the card, whoever gives the best interpretation and collects the most cards wins! Check out how much some family friends had playing the Selfie game on Halloween.
  • Get ready to make some tasty Krabby patties, with the Spongebob Krabby Patty Maker, which has realistic cooking and frying sounds and your little ones will like that Spongebob has 12 fun phrases.
  • CJ has recently been intrigued by yo-yo's and if a child you know is just learning they will build confidence with the Rookie: Yomega Brain Yo-Yo that automatically returns to the players hand, making it great for beginners & if he or she is a skilled yo-yo trickster, they'll love having the coolest yo-yo in the galaxy with a Star Wars Yo Men high performance character yo-yo and action stand.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog has returned, better than ever with the recent release of Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric  (Wii U) where Sonic, Amy, Tails and Knuckles have to set aside their differences to save the world from Lyric and his mongering robots and in the new (3DS) Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal Amy discovers an ancient secret language and manuscript detailing where to find the lost crystal of power and gets kidnapped by evil Lyric. Sonic must team up with Knuckles, Tails and new friend Sticks to save her.
If you haven't gotten all your holiday shopping done yet, we hope our holiday gift guide was helpful, and we will have a few more review posts up throughout this week and you can catch a few previews on Instagram. Now that you know our fave picks, we are going to offer 1 lucky reader a few amazing products that you can gift, donate or save for another occasion. Winner
must be 18+ and live in the continental U.S, contest will run from Monday Dec. 15th and closes on Thursday Dec. 18th.  Best of Luck!

Just answer this question in the comments below & rafflecopter for extra entries
Which 2 products in this gift guide would be a Must Have for your lil' monsters this holiday season?
                                                                PRIZES (Valued at $300)
              (1) Crayola Meltdown art set 
              (1) My Little Ponny Equestria Girls: Twilight Doll
              (3) Star wars retro print posters from Handz size 11x14 (A3)  or smaller
              (1) Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric for Wii U  or  (1) Sonic Boom Shattered Crystal                           for 3DS
              (1)  Selfie Game
              (1) Yomega Brain yo-yo and (1) Yo Men Storm Trooper yo-yo
              (1) VTech InnoTab Max 




a Rafflecopter giveaway


*Disclosure: Dellah's Jubilation was not compensated for this post but have received products to review from brands participating in giveaway, any opinions expressed are 100% my own.
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