Thursday, August 21, 2014

Head Back to School & Stomp Out Bullying w/ the WWE & The Creative Coalition's Newly Launched Be a S.T.A.R Alliance #WWE #BEaSTAR


* Disclosure: As a member of the WWE Brand Ambassador program I was given a chapter tool kit and information to share with readers. There was no monetary compensation and opinions expressed are 100% my own.


Kids across the United States have headed back to the classroom or will be between now and Sept 4th. Aside from teachers and administrators planning curriculum and organizing classrooms & parents doing back to school shopping for supplies and creating healthy lunch menus, there is another issue of concern that they unfortunately have to think about this school year and it's Bullying. Did you know that 160,000 kids miss school every day due to fear of bullying by other students (National Education Association)?

Be a STAR is an anti-bullying initiative co-founded in 2011 by The Creative Coalition and WWE. Its mission is to encourage young people to treat each other with tolerance and respect through education and grassroots initiatives. WWE and The Creative Coalition leverage the power of The Creative Coalition’s entertainment industry constituencies and WWE’s global brand and platforms to help combat the bullying epidemic plaguing today’s youth.

Be a STAR, which stands for "Show Tolerance And Respect," promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals.  Last week The Creative Coalition and WWE who are the co-founders of the Be a STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) anti-bullying initiative announced the launch of the S.T.A.R. Alliance, a group of actors, musicians, comedians, athletes, television personalities and members of The Creative Coalition, who have joined together to help put an end to bullying.

Members of the S.T.A.R. Alliance will join WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon, WWE Superstars such as Big Show®, The Miz® and Mark Henry, and The Creative Coalition to spread the Be a STAR message. 



S.T.A.R. Alliance members include:
Description: • Quinton Aaron (The Blind Side)
• Kris Allen (American Idol Winner)
• Jose Bautista (Toronto Blue Jays)
• Andrea Bowen (Desperate Housewives)
• Erin Cummings (Astronaut Wives Club)
• Tim Daly (Madam Secretary)
• Daughtry (Grammy Nominated)
• Omar Epps (Resurrection)
• Flo Rida (Grammy Nominated)
• Florida Georgia Line (Award Winning           Country Superstars)
• Skylar Grey (Grammy Nominated)
• Chelsea Hightower (Dancing with the Stars)
• Caleb Johnson (American Idol Winner)

,Description: • Arielle Kebbel (John Tucker Must Die)
• Piers Morgan (Piers Morgan Tonight)
• Ryan Ochoa (Pair of Kings)
• Sharon Osbourne (The X-Factor)
• Darius Rucker (Hootie & The Blowfish)
• Cassie  Scerbo (Make It Or Break It)
• Kendall Schmidt (Big Time Rush)
• Chaske Spencer (The Twilight Sagas)
• Train (Grammy Award Winning)
• Gerard Way (formerly of My Chemical Romance)
• Pete Wentz (Grammy Nominated Fall Out Boy)
• Constance Zimmer (House of Cards)



As an educator and parent some of the problems I've noticed within the school community is that a lot of times, kids who do the bullying most likely are having problems of their own, sometimes stemming from life at home, or they don't even realize that when they think they are just "joking" around, they are actually being hurtful and inconsiderate of a peers feelings.Both in the classroom and at home it's imperative to have the conversation about the affects of bullying and how to find a solution. 

I think it's really important for kids who are being bullied or had been in the past to see that the celebrities they're a fan of in the movies, on T.V or that they rock out to on the radio have had similar experiences that they can relate to. And honestly what kid isn't going to listen to WWE superstar The Big Show when he tells you that in order to Be a STAR you have to help stomp out bullying?


CJ is headed to the 4th grade this September and can't wait to enlist a few of his friends to take the pledge to stop bullying.  You can start a Be a S.T.A.R chapter by getting more information here and by helping to jump-start the conversation at home and in school.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Patriotic, Striptease Date Night with Wasabassco Burlesque #RevelinNY


Disclosure: The opinions expressed are 100% my own and I received 2 tickets to review the show as a social media curator for Flavorpill. No other compensation was given.


So I'd like to share with you guys our most random, yet very entertaining way to spend the Fourth of July here in NYC. Our kids ended up spending the holiday with their nana watching the fireworks from  her apartment in Queens and the hubby had to work the night shift at the midtown restaurant he works for because his boss thought they were going to have an influx of customers, seeing that the fireworks had been moved to the east side of the city. Totally wasn't the case by the way. This year started off by far as one of the most boring 4th of July's I had ever celebrated in my life. We usually head to Long Branch and spend hours on the beach, or BBQ and this time around I was pretty peeved I had to watch the fireworks solo from our rooftop with my neighbors instead of with my boys. However  I was beyond excited that I signed up to spend the evening at a Wasabassco Burlesque show in the city that I was given tickets for to review.

Have you ever been to a Burlesque show before? Does the thought of one sound like a lot of fun or does the idea of seeing a bunch of scantily clad women and men make you a bit uncomfortable? Well this was our second time, the first performance we'd seen was more of a circusy type show with hula hoops, bubbles and those sorts of things and although entertaining not very provocative. Honestly we didn't know what to expect from this show at City Winery but we were completely open-minded and up for anything!


We freakin' loved the show from beginning to end, everything from the venue and music to costumes and just the performers personalities overall made for a great show. Right from the beginning Nasty Canasta (pictured at very top) got the energy level up and made sure the crowd was excited to be there. The audience was filled with couples, friends and a few bachelorette parties who decided that was the place to celebrate and rightfully so because you could tell throughout the evening from the laugher and applause that filled the room, that everyone had a great time. I didn't bother to look into the venue beforehand but it was a plus that City Winery had an open bar and delicious flatbreads for those with the late night munchies.

It would seem that most of the guests didn't want to be too up close and personal and passed on the seat that was in the front, dead center. Oh but not me, I grabbed the hubby's hand and told the hostess we were fine sitting up front. I assured him, after he gave me a discerning eye that nobody would pull him up on stage or make him wear tassels, lol but what the heck did I know. Honestly even though I know he'd kill me, I was secretly hoping someone would. Fortunately for him the show wasn't so out of control that you'd feel too nervous to be sitting center stage, the ladies did some tassle twirling, some splits and a lot of seductive, leg lifts, bends, shaking and teasing but it was all tasteful and fun to watch. The most the hubby got was a few winks and smiles as the ladies lustfully, unzipped and tossed costume pieces across the stage floor. But hey I got a few winks myself, so we'll call it even.






This lovely lady photographed with the hubby was always standing by to pick up any items the performers may have left behind on stage and managed to pick them all up while showing us how flexible she was. I must say we were completely impressed with how poised and limber she was, she was shaking what her momma gave her and she was so cute while doing it.



There was an amazing playlist of music to keep the crowd engaged, everything from old school blues and jazz, to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air's Summer Time, to hard core rock and songs by Kiss. The costumes matched the portrayal of the characters and featured a variety: from coy women dolled up in sweet little maiden dresses, to stunning divas that were glammed out in sequins and feather boas and ladies who rocked edgy, sexy leather and completely dominated the stage. Of course twirly tassels and bedazzled and laced gloves to seduce and add to the allure were a necessity. It wasn't a surprise to learn that these ladies received accolades and awards from around the country with the way they worked the stage.

Seeing as it's a live performance do keep in mind while enjoying the show to live in the moment and try not to watch from behind a camera. Throughout the evening it was highly recommended by the hosts that we put down our phones so not to miss anything, otherwise what was the point of being there in the flesh to see it? And to keep in mind that Facebook and Instagram would still be there at the end of the show.





This date night was completely an out of the box night out on the town, but we were so glad we took advantage of an evening sans the lil' monsters. An evening with the fantastic ladies and gentleman of Wasabassco really saved what started off as an epic fail for a holiday and turned it into an entertaining & explosive performance of striptease that was unforgettably fun.

Monday, August 11, 2014

8 Sweet Suite 14' Must Haves for Lil' Monsters at Blogger Bash NYC #Sweetsuite14 #bbnyc


It's that time of year again where educators will be looking for toys, crafts and technology to fill their classrooms with and where parents and loved ones will be on the hunt for the latest and greatest new products to gift the lil' monsters in their lives for the holiday season. During Sweet Suite 14 at Blogger Bash NYC parent bloggers were able to preview and play with some of the awesome, fun, new kids toys hitting store shelves as early as this month, with more products launching in the fall. I decided I'd round up a few of my favorites that you will surely want to get your hands on early or will end up finding yourselves on line for after stuffing your face full of turkey and stuffing on Black Friday. Be sure to click on the product name for more details on these great toys.


Treasure Trax  (USAopoly) :  Grab your preschooler and go on an adventure filled scavenger hunt through your home. Kids can actively play & learn daily with prompts that will help them with colors, letters, image and word recognition by using their thinking skills.
Ages 3-5 // $19.95

Zoomer Dino- Boomer (SpinMaster Toys): Dino lovers will have a roaring good time with this remote controlled prehistoric friend.  Boomer has sounds effects, mood indicating eyes that light up & can do a handful of tricks like his robotic predecessor Zoomer the pup can do, like follow your hand with its motion sensory. But beware, if you pull on his tail you may just make him angry! Kids will love that it can be programmed to guard their room from nosy parents and siblings who steal their toys. Take a peak at Boomer the Dinosaur in action during Sweet Suite. (Image Courtesy of Janice Croze)
Ages 5+ // $99.99

Leap TV (Leap Frog) As a parent to a 3 year old who is always trying to get it in on the gaming fun with his 9 year old brother and his dad, I'm always concerned about the content he is being exposed to at such an early age. I am really excited about Leap Frog introducing the new Leap TV gaming system for younger gamers because it allows them to get active while developing their reading, math, science and problem solving skills through games with their favorite characters like Sofia the First and Spider-man. I think it's ability to give audio instructions is a great feature for younger children that can't read just yet.
(Image Courtesy of Janice Croze)
 Ages 3-8 // $149.99

Moxie Girlz
(MGA Entertainment): The positive message behind these fashion savvy, fun dolls is that girls can be amazing by having the courage to accomplish anything they set their minds on doing. Children will love that these stylish dolls have colorful, adorable poopsy pets and lots of accessories and clothes for them to dress these fashionistas in.

(Image Courtesy of Janice Croze)
Ages 3+ // 14.99 and up 

The Big Creativity Can (Faber-Castell): Let imaginations run wild in the classroom or at home! Perfect for a rainy day or just because your lil' monster's creative juices are flowing, the Big Creativity Can has 100+ crafty materials that include googly eyes, pipe cleaners, feathers and more!  (Image Courtesy of Janice Croze)
Ages 4-94 // $19.99

Paw Patrol Rescue Racers (SpinMaster Toys): These push and play character race cars will have your Paw Patrol fan excited for lots of adventures with Rubble, Chase, Zuma, Skye, Rocky, Ryder and Marshall as they race out to save the day!  
(Image Courtesy of Janice Croze)
Ages 2+ // $5.99

Lalaloopsy Color Me Trace E. Doodles This latest Lalaloopsy doll (from MGA Entertainment) will provide endless hours of fun for your lil' creative because they can draw + color new looks on her clothes and pet with 4 vibrant neon markers and two stamps. As soon as the masterpiece is  complete they can wipe it clean and start the fun all over. 
(Image Courtesy of Janice Croze)
 Ages 4+ // $49.99

 Kidizoom SmartWatch (Vtech):  If your kids are anything like mine, they are always trying to use your phone or camera to take pictures or record video. Now they can be their own independent photographers and videographers with this smartwatch which is pretty awesome wearable technology for kids. Aside from taking pics and recording, this smartwatch will help your children learn to tell time and will keep them engaged with educational games. These stylish watches come in 4 colors and is splash-proof and comfortable for active kids.

Ages 2-9 // $59.99
 
Which of these Must Haves do you think your Lil' Monsters will add to their holiday wishlist?


*photo credit: Janice Croze photography



                                                      Blogger

Friday, August 8, 2014

Marvel Fans Assemble! A Recap of our Fun-Filled Night at Marvel Universe Live! #MUL #Marvel


To say that my family loves Marvel Comics is an understatement, we are a bunch of super-hero loving fanatics and my 3 year old lil' monster Tristan and his big brother CJ are probably the biggest fans of the group. Seriously, when Avengers came out on DVD it was the first real movie Tristan had ever watched in it's entirety and although probably not age-appropriate he was fascinated by the characters and loved the action, so much so, that he'd watch the movie repeatedly and you could see his lil' monster fingerprints on the back of the disc because he'd grab it first thing in the morning to watch it again.  I'll never forget the Halloween the boys dressed up: CJ as Thor and Tristan was a baby Hulk because we laughed at the mighty strength he had as a toddler as he effortlessly lifted activity tables and pushed furniture around the house.

The boys, hubby and I were beyond excited when we got our invitation to attend opening night of Marvel Universe Live at the Izod Center last week on July 31st as guests of Feld Entertainment. When I learned about the opportunity to win extra tickets as a social media hero, we took on the mission of tweeting, sharing Marvel themed pictures on Instagram and recruiting other Marvel fans on Facebook to join in on the fun and build excitement for the show. In anticipation we bought Marvel T-shirts and even enjoyed a behind the scenes show on ABC & a super hero Sunday movie marathon on FX prior to the show.  

Feld Entertainment is the creative genius behind other great family-friendly shows like Disney on Ice, Monster Jam and Ringley Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, so you know they are pros at putting on a spectacular show! If you haven't seen the commercials yet I can best describe Marvel Universe Live as an exciting, live- action, stunt-filled, circus like performance featuring an extremely talented cast that are dressed as your favorite Marvel heroes and villains. Marvel Universe Live features more than 25 characters that we all love, who are battling it out for the Cosmic Cube which is the ultimate source of power. We couldn't wait to see Spiderman, Hawk Eye, Captain America, Thor, Wolverine, Ironman and Black Widow defend the universe against Loki, Red Skull, the Green Goblin, Electro and other enemies, while doing acrobatic stunts, cool tricks during high-speed car chases and while flipping in the air on BMX bikes as they traveled around the world.

 My oldest has been to the circus before and other theatrical shows but Tristan had never, so we had fingers crossed that he would like it. The show was captivating for both children and adults with an engaging story-line, colorfully accurate costumes and tons of action and special effects. It almost seemed like my boys never blinked so not to miss a moment while they cheered and clapped for the good guys who were on a mission to put an end to the bad guys evil plans. Without giving away too much detail I will say that I was impressed with how the story-line was easy for even the younger age group, like my 3yr old to follow along and the sets changed seamlessly without ever loosing his attention and the movie-like pyrotechnics and larger than life second half was by far our family's favorite part. Both my brother and brother-in-law admitted after the show, that they'd never seen anything like Marvel Universe Live when they were kids. 




When we arrived at the Izod Center we got to hang out with our favorite parent bloggers and their kids in the Winners Circle, where we noshed on yummy finger foods like mini burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, pretzels and popcorn. The kids were excited to play around with Marvel props, and I kept saying Thor's infamous line "You want me to put the hammer down? I'll put the hammer down!" because in my house, mama is boss! Lol. I have to tell you though that hammer I'm holding was the real deal, it was really heavy and we couldn't imagine Thor flying around with that thing, let alone throwing it at bad guys all the time.  CJ couldn't get too close to us in the picture because according to him Wolverine stands alone because of his temper. 

Photo courtesy of Lynda of MainStreetMama.com

 After taking a few photos we headed to our awesome seats, the boys and I sat across the arena from our family who were with other social hero winners in the center third row, so some of the pics you will see are from their perspective. But trust me any seat is a great vantage point to see this amazingly choreographed show, you won't miss any of the high-flying fun that makes full use of the arena floor. Make sure you are prepared to purchase the fun goodies that will be tempting your kids in the aisles, everything from character masks and whirling Spiderman decorated webs that light up to Marvel themed tumbler cups and bags of cotton candy that are too cute to resist. Also have your camera on hand to take some great pictures but remember to live in the moment and enjoy the show because there's a lot to be seen in the 90 minute performance.














There is still time to witness your favorite Marvel characters join forces in an epic battle of good vs. evil so don't miss out on the fun! Marvel Universe Live will be at the Izod Center in New Jersey only until Aug. 10th before moving on to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn from Aug. 13th-17th and then Nassua Coliseum from Aug. 21st - 24th . For Further details head to the Marvel Universe Live site and stay updated and follow all the excitement on the Marvel Universe Live Twitter, Facebook , Youtube and Instagram pages. Now go grab your Marvel loving friends and family and assemble for a spectacular show!



*Disclosure: We were not compensated monetarily for this post, we received tickets to opening night in order to do this review and my children received goodie bags. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.




Monday, August 4, 2014

Get Back to School Ready with Momtrends #Momtrendsbts




Can you believe we are already in the month of August? Before you know it, Labor day will have come and gone and we'll be packing lunches and laying out clothes while sipping that barely warm cup of jo {or in some instances a mimosa} to prepare for the first day of school.

Luckily for me, the lovely Nicole Feliciano of Momtrends helped a few of us parent bloggers get in the right frame of mind, by hosting her 4th annual Momtrends Back to school event in the lovely Vera Bradley showroom on 5th ave, here in NYC.  Throughout the event we were able to connect with well known brands and other bloggers and editors while discussing insider tips on everything from staying organized and eating healthy to preventing lice, and then we previewed the most adorable fashion show of kids sporting the latest fun trends in back-to-school wear.






When we arrived, guests were able to catch up with with their favorite familiar faces in the blogging, media world while learning about what was new with brands : Vera Bradley, Stride Rite, French Toast, Mabel's Labels, Revoultion Foods, Vamousse, The Orange Rhino and Wall Pops.



The colorful and vibrant prints in the Vera Bradley showroom were the backdrop for the back-to-school fashion show, which featured Vera Bradley backpacks, lunchboxes and accessories, too cool for school pieces from Appaman, Lands End and Carters, updated and fresh uniforms from French Toast and fun footwear from Stride Rite.

photo courtesy of Momtrends
  
After watching the cute kids of guest parent bloggers strut their stuff like little runway pros, Barbara Bradley Baekgaard who's the co-founder of Vera Bradley talked to us about the growth of her company and how she went from turning her dream into a reality by borrowing $250 from her hubby to start this company that now has been around for over 30 years and has 3,000A nd yes she made sure to repay what she borrowed to her hubby! I think most of us in the room could totally relate when she advised us to never let anyone tell us that our dreams couldn't be made a reality.



As a mom to two active boys 9 and 3, clothes that are affordable, durable and look cool are essential. French Toast is a notable brand that parents trust and for good reason. The company has been around for 50 years and offer high quality uniform pieces which parents can afford. With a years worth of uniforms only costing $125, you can't go wrong with such a bargain! Aside from the price point, some great details guests were raving about were the blinged out buttons on tops, and the stretchy material in pants for girls as well as the double knee lining feature in the pants for boys. Parent shoppers will also appreciate that you can search your schools uniform requirements right there on their website.


When it comes to back-to-school footwear Stride Rite has great designs for every stylish kids needs. We were able to check out the new Fall 2014 line and there were so many great choices for our busy kids who love to walk, run and jump that provide much needed comfort. Stride Rite shoes are light weight, are made from breathable material and are sturdy. Be sure to check out their two new trendy collections: Orange is the New Black for boys and Ocean Blues and Berry Hues for girls. Currently on their site, on select styles if you buy one you'll get a second pair at 40% off.  


Organization is key when school is back and session and Mabel's labels has created a stellar line of products that will save parents from loosing their cool and make it easier for teachers and students to find supplies, shoes and other items that get misplaced in the classroom. Honestly as a preschool teacher for 5 years, I was always thankful for the parents who labeled their child's belongings with these durable, colorful personalized labels. The great thing about these labels is that they are laundry, dishwasher and microwave safe, yepp I know genius!

Co-founder of Mabel's Labels Julie Cole, should be deemed the back-to-school organizational queen because she has 6 children all in school and a well thought out system in place to make sure things run smoothly. Her tips include:

  • Get things ready the night before: If the kids want a say in what they wear to school, all decisions are final once they wake up the next morning.
  •  Foster independent kids: Have them set out their cereal bowls, snacks etc. Why should parents be frazzled in the a.m?
  •  Create a checklist or in her case, a Ready, Set, Go board: Your kids can refer to it when they find themselves staring like a deer in headlights when they can't figure out what they needed to do next. 


 
Wall Pops was also on hand to show us some really cool peel and stick decals that combine fashion and function while keeping us organized. Their new dry erase decals include calendars, message boards, maps, weekly planners and more to keep busy families on top of things going on in their lives, from homework and P.T.A meetings to field trips and vacations.

Now let's be reasonable, even with all of these great tips and organizational tools, parents are only human and entitled to spazz out every once and again but with the help from author Sheila McCraith of  The Orange Rhino we learned about her 365 day journey to yell less and love more. Parenting with more composure can definitely be a challenge, sign up for it  here if you think you can, even if it's for just one day.

photo courtesy of Momtrends
 
photo courtesy of Momtrends

 Unfortunately one dreaded issue that pops up while our kids are in school are cases of head lice, which seems to be happening more often these days. With Vamousse products parents can treat and get rid of lice with a pesticide free formula that kills not just the bugs but the eggs too!




Once we get in the swing of things there are bound to be times where the days speed by faster than you'd like, or moments where your child has returned home from school hungry because they either didn't like the lunch you packed or they weren't a fan of the schools pizza like my son CJ. I remember the judgmental faces parents would give each other at the preschool I worked for when they saw another student eating Lunchables. Let's face it they are a quick solution and kids like it, but I can hear my mother-in-law's voice now "Oh my that's too much sodium" every time I pass them in a target aisle and I'd cringe because I knew she was right. Revolution foods was founded by two moms who have probably faced these same conundrums and saw the need for healthier quick food options in our homes and in our schools. Their meal kits feature: meat raised with no antibiotics, no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, no cheese from cows not treated with rBST and 1 serving of fruit all packaged in a resealable box. Here in NYC you can find these convenient meals in Fresh Direct and more locations soon.

photo courtesy of Momtrends


To say we enjoyed ourselves is an understatement, we learned a lot of valuable information, saw great new products and walked away with some awesome goodies, courtesy of all the sponsors and Momtrends.

A special thank you to all of the brands, Nicole Feliciano & the Momtrends team! Stay tuned for some upcoming fun back to school reviews and giveaways over the next few weeks.



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