It's that time of year... time for TOYS TOYS and more TOYS!!! I'm heading to event after event to bring you the best toys for Christmas 2023!! The first event of the season was The Toy Insider's 2023 Holiday of Play! Be sure to watch my highlights video with some great toy demos, with affiliate links to all the toys below to help you get your shopping done!!
Disclaimer: Affiliate links below - as an Amazon associate, I receive commission from qualified purchases made after clicking below links, they help fund the blog - thank you!!!
My favorite toys in order of appearance in the above video:
1. Beast Lab from Moose Toys
2. Dog-E Interactive Robot Dog
3. Style Bae
4. Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Interactive Dobby
5. Firefighter Dolls
6. NeeDoh by Schylling Gumdrop, Nice Cube
7. Fingerlings Luna Unicorn
8. Tamagotchi Uni
9. Hot Wheels Rift Rally
Toy Insider's HOT 20 List:
Toy Insider's 12 under $20 List (i.e. great birthday and holiday gifts!!)
The Toy Insider's STEM 10:
Have a tip about 2023 hottest toy or trending products?? Leave a comment below or shoot me an email!! I have a few more fun toy events coming up including 2023 New York Toy Fair, so stay tuned!!
NY & NJ area moms, dads, kids, and kids of all ages - let's go to the Circus!!! Circus Vazquez that is! No animals, just SUPER talented humans performing for you at a number of nearby locations over the next couple of months!
Circus Vazquez, now in its 54th year and run by the five Vazquez brothers (third generation of their family to manage this circus), is returns to the NYC area with its brand new 2023 production featuring new thrills, new laughs and new excitement!
Circus Vazquez, featuring incredible performers from Mexico, Columbia, Mongolia, Chile, Ukraine, India and the U.S., is the largest family-owned circus in the United States! They'll be making SIX stops in New Jersey, Long Island and New York City including a first-ever stop at Randall's Island! Presented in English in the largest tent currently touring in the U.S., and it's climate-controlled with bathrooms, concession stand, and lots of great light up and spinny merch of course!
Watch our fun highlights video from when we went to see Circus Vazquez in Paramus NJ last year to see the awesomeness you can expect!
Enter to win a FOUR PACK of tickets
to your choice of upcoming shows in NJ or NY!! Details follow:
MY PERSONAL REVIEW:
We were provided tickets to check out the Gazillion Bubble Show in NYC in exchange for our promotion and let me just say, myself and my kids (even my jaded 10 year old) were BLOWN AWAY (pun intended).
They rotate the bubble artists and we had Guinness Record holding Anna Yang at our show. She was just amazing! Like a bubble magician! HOW could she do all of this stuff, like blowing tiny bubbles into a larger bubble, or reaching into a big bubble and pulling a gas filled bubble out of it!?? LIKE... HOW!?!?! It was just jaw dropping super fun and amazing show.
There were several opportunities for kids to volunteer to go up to stage (one of my 3 got chosen and she's just over the moon!), and volunteers all got rewarded with bubbles and bubble machines which was a fun extra bonus! It's a great show for those visiting NYC and for those who live in or nearby and come into the city frequently.
It's a convenient location in midtown so we took the bus from NJ and it was a 15 minute walk from Port Authority, check out my highlights video of our most recent "Saturday in the City" where we went to both Gazillion Bubble Show and Japan Parade - so much fun! I love our city!!
Get your Gazillion Bubble Show tickets for as low as $49* (Reg. $79)!! Read on for more info and to get your discounted tickets today!!
Celebrating 15 years in NYC, Gazillion Bubble Show is the unpoppable international hit for the whole family! Bubble lovers of all ages are delighted with an incredibubble experience, awashed with a bubble tide, and perhaps even find themselves inside a bubble. Mind-blowing bubble magic, spectacular laser lighting effects and momentary soapy masterpieces will make you smile, laugh, and feel like a kid again. You have to experience it to bubblieve it!
3 WAYS TO BUY YOUR TICKETS:
ABOUT DOG MAN THE MUSICAL:
A Hilarious Heartfelt Family Adventure Based On The Worldwide Bestselling Series!
With the head of a dog and the body of a policeman, Dog Man loves to fight crime and chew on the furniture. But while trying his best to be a good boy, can he save the city from Flippy the cyborg fish and his army of Beasty Buildings? Can he catch Petey, the world\'s most evil cat, who has cloned himself to exact revenge on the doggy do-gooder? And will George and Harold finish their show before lunchtime?? Find out in this epic musical adventure featuring the hilarity and heart of Dav Pilkey's beloved characters.
NY Times Critic's Pick
Best buds George and Harold have been creating comics for years, but now that they're in 5th grade, they figure it's time to level up and write a musical based on their favorite character, Dog Man, the crime-biting sensation who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!!?How hard could it be?
SAVE UP TO $30 ON SELECT TICKETS MARCH 4 - APRIL 2!
$51 Discount: Mon 7pm, Fri 7pm, Sat 430pm
$61 Discount: Sat 11am & 2pm, Sun 12pm & 3pm
New World Stages Box Office, 340 West 50th St Btw 8th & 9th Ave NYC
3 WAYS TO FETCH YOUR TICKETS:
1. ONLINE: Visit TelechargeOffers.com & enter code: DMGEN23
2. CALL: 212-947-8844 & mention code: DMGEN23
3. IN PERSON: Visit New World Stages Box Office, 340 West 50th St Btw 8th & 9th Ave NYC
"You have to love a family show that makes adults laugh, too." -New York Times
"This show is perfect for everyone." -Newsday
"Dog Man should be every kid's best friend." -Theater Life
"Epic musical adventure." -New York Family
"Non-stop enjoyment from beginning to end." -Plays To See
"Hamilton was a game-changer for Broadway shows. It was new, fresh, different, brilliant, etc. I put Dog Man in the same category. What a great way to introduce young people to the stage with something to which they can relate." -Craig, DOG MAN fan on Twitter
*Offer valid on select performances 3/4/23 - 4/2/23. All tickets subject to a $2 facility fee. Normal service charges apply to phone & internet orders only. All sales are final - no refunds or exchanges. Offer subject to availability & prior sale. Not valid in combination with any other offers. Performance schedule subject to change. Code valid for purchases made through 4/2/23. Offer may be revoked or modified at any time without notice.
Stranger Sings! The Parody Musical is running Off-Broadway in NYC through April 30 (unless the show gets extended AGAIN, which it might, cuz it's THAT GOOD!!!), and if you like ANY of the following , you're going to absolutely love it:
I had only ever seen episode 1 of Stranger Things before, so to know that I'm not very familiar with the suuuuuper popular Netflix series is important. Despite this, I still utterly enjoyed this musical. Literally laughing out loud throughout. It's hilarious!!! Jokes related to the show, jokes related to the 80's, jokes related to teenage angst and puppy love and silly dancing and omg it's just so so so so good you guys!!
Watch my video below for a sneak peak into the really cool theater, which is decorated in such a fun way with Christmas lights and 80's paraphernalia! It's small and intimate, meaning NO BAD SEATS (they actually even have bean bag chairs on the floor if you want to go that route)! The cast even had a little "dance party" for us after they took their bows - you can really tell they love their roles and their jobs!!!
Many wonder if this show is appropriate for kids and I'll say, if you are comfortable with your kids watching the Netflix show, then yes, it'll be fine. The only potentially inappropriate things I noticed were cursing and silly scenes eluding to making out / sex, but nothing was graphic or gory, just 100% pure silly camp. There were several tweens and teens at the matinee I attended, and while my own kids (7, 7, 10) probably wouldn't have gotten half the jokes, they would have enjoyed it, for sure!!
In a nut shell - great original songs, beautiful singing, non-stop laughter (from the lyrics to the spoken dialogue to the slapstick comedic movements, dances etc). I mean, come on, Will was a frickin' PUPPET (see photo above), the boys had choreographed bike ride using just the handlebars, and the mom had a whole song about her alter ego being Wynona. So. damn. gooooooood.
Grab your tickets NOW!!!
Located at Playhouse 46 in NYC's Theater District (steps from Times Square and Hell's Kitchen)
Guest post provided by Bounce - instantly find locations nearby to drop off your luggage wherever you go!
At the western end of Long Island, Brooklyn is a fantastic place for a family trip with all of the beaches and parks in the borough. It may be small, but it has the most people in the state of New York with over 2.6 million residents. Everyone has heard of the Brooklyn Bridge, but there is a lot more to Brooklyn than that.
Brooklyn has over 30 museums with a children’s museum, toy museum, and museum of food and drink that kids of all ages will love. And just a quick train, bus, or Uber ride away, you cannot forget the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty! But you cannot bring your luggage, so drop it off at a Brooklyn luggage storage facility before starting to explore.
Between all these visits, you have to stop and eat. Shake Shack is a favorite for families with locations throughout Brooklyn and New York City. Stage Door Deli and Pizzeria in lower Manhattan has sandwiches, pizza, and all kinds of other yummy foods. And for dessert, go to Laboratorio del Gelato in NYC's Lower East Side (or New JerseY) where they have 15 kinds of chocolate and 40 flavors of fruit gelato.
To further plan your visit (or staycation if you're a NYC local), check out some of these great resources:
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased :)
We just got back from a full (hosted) day at the Liberty Science Center and had THE. BEST. TIME! For the full experience of the new dinosaur exhibit and see what the entire center has to offer from the largest planetarium in the western hemisphere to hot wheels exhibit and and so so soooo much fun for the kids (and adults!), be sure to watch our highlights video here, then keep reading for details on their latest exhibition, Sue the T-Rex Experience!
I've always been into dinosaurs, I mean, who isn't!? I've seen my fair share of fossils and full-size replicas but honestly, Sue the T.Rex Experience at Liberty Science Center is a completely different ball game and you will LOVE. IT!
Upon entering the exhibit, you immediately find yourself face to face with the huge and menacing Sue, named after the paleontologist who discovered the fossils during a commercial excavation trip in South Dakota in 1990. Standing at 40 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hip, she is the most complete and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever found and has helped scientists learn more about T. rex than ever before... and now we can learn about her at Liberty Science Center!
They do a great light show on Sue, which is beautiful and educational - they highlight different bones as they talk about what each finding has revealed about her life, and death! This was fascinating, as well as the large movies they play on the opposite side of the room where you can watch daily life for her and other dinosaurs at the time, including some pretty action-packed fight scenes which my kids found especially captivating (me, too)!
Another highlight was the life-size replica of Sue enjoying a tasty meal (see above right image) - you can see the bloody tooth marks on her prey, you can touch the skin, it's just really breath-taking and makes it feel so incredibly real! Just next to it you can even take a whiff of what they think her breath smelled like. WARNING: it's revolting!!!! Watch our video to see our hilarious reactions! But as with everything at LSC, it's a fun learning experience - we learn her breath would have smelled horrible, of rotting meat, because they had small gaps between the teeth where meat would get trapped, and obviously, they couldn't brush and floss LOL!
While large and in charge Sue dominates the exhibit, there are some other fossils and replicas to see and learn about, like the life-sized Triceratops (above right)! Give yourself at least a few hours (if not a full day) to explore this exhibit and the rest of the museum. It's a great family-friendly trip!!
We hadn't been to Liberty Science Center (or any indoor activities like it) since the time I now refer to as #PrePandemic, so I was very curious to see how things would be handled. Rest assured, we felt completely safe! They took the kids' temperatures upon entry to the science center, masks are required for ages 2+ (regardless of vaccination status), they kept exhibits to a low capacity with short lines outside so they could maintain safety without crowds, and the cafe is closed, however they do have limited spaced out indoor dining seating (outdoor as well) and if you find yourself in a pinch they also have some vending machines with drinks and snacks.
Moving can be totally overwhelming, and expensive. But don't worry, I gotcha covered! I've moved internationally several times, and domestically with a toddler, and am now in the thick of selling our home and moving to a rental... with 3 kids... during a pandemic! PHEW! But anyway, this isn't a competition, I'm here to help you with a handy dandy checklist for moving to a new rental home - everything from how to search for a home to who to notify of change of address, booking a moving company, and much much more! Read on and leave a comment with any of your own tips, or questions!
**Disclaimer: there are some affiliate links below - You won't pay more but I'll receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking (it's one of the ways I fund the blog, of course)!
This is the time to go full on Konmarie - purge the heck out of your stuff!! Whatever doesn't bring you joy anymore or you haven't used it in a year, go ahead and sell, donate, or toss!! For inspiration, you can read or listen on Kindle to Marie Kondo's books "The LIfechanging Magic of Tidying Up" & "Spark Joy" (affiliate link) or you can watch her Netflix show "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo".
FIND A NEW RENTAL HOME:
NOTIFY YOUR LANDLORD:
Check your lease and make sure you are giving your landlord property notification. Most require one month's notice. If breaking your lease and leaving early, you may still be responsible to fulfil the full term's rental fees, even if you're not there!! This happened to us when leaving our last rental, but management clarified that if I found a new tenant we'd be good. Thankfully I posted the rental in a local Facebook parenting group and within 2 days found a new tenant for them. PHEW!!
BOOK A MOVING COMPANY:
There are TONS to choose from. Some are for local / same day service only, others specialize in long distance moves. Last time we moved within Brooklyn we were very happy with Shlepper's, and this time around they gave me the best quote again! Shleppers and Flatrate are both very popular and will give you a detailed quote (either coming to see what you have ahead of time or currently doing it all over the phone - you tell them exactly what's going, and be specific as you can). They don't charge hourly and won't hijack your stuff until you pay additional fees (yes, I've heard of other companies doing this, if you can believe it!!!). There are some companies going green, too, using biodiesel fuel and reusable boxes. You'll pay more but the Earth will thank you. And of course, if neither of your buildings have a stipulation about needing a licensed and insured moving company (mine does unfortunately), you can totally save $$$ by DIY moving - rent a Uhaul truck and pay some friends in beer and pizza!
BUY MOVING BOXES (and pack)
Book your moving company first since some will provide boxes. Movers Not Shakers, for example, is a "green" moving company and will drop off reusable plastic boxes and collect after the move. You should also check craigslist and FB marketplace to see if you can get free or cheap boxes from someone local who just moved - this will save money and the Earth! Otherwise, you'll have to buy them. You can find tons of options on Amazon (affiliate link), with other popular sites being Uboxes / Box Engine (who has really convenient kits based on home size, including bubbles, packing paper, tape etc), Uhaul, Home Depot, etc.
CHANGE HOME/RENTERS INSURANCE
If going from one rental to another, you'll probably be keeping the same insurance and just updating with new address. If going from ownership to rental or vice versa, it'll be more complex. For renters insurance, you're just covering your own property and liability. If you'll have a pool or trampoline or anything especially risky, make sure you're covered plenty (some companies cover these, some only if they're fenced in, and others not at all). During my own search, I found Allstate to have the best price (though that could be because we already have car insurance with them), followed by USAA (I'm a member thanks to my dad's military service), Lemonade, and Geico.
CHANGE YOUR ADDRESS / FORWARD MAIL:
There are a tonnnnnnnnn you need to notify of your address change. As more and more things go paperless, this becomes less of a headache, but it's still a headache. Most important notification is probably USPS since they'll forward items from your old to new address for 1 year. But... some things don't end up forwarded. So, do your best to notify all of the following directly:
FIX UP THE HOME YOU'RE LEAVING:
To avoid getting slammed with loss of your security deposit, be sure to check with your landlord what condition you're expected to leave your home in. You probably have to remove all nails, patch up holes, and paint back to neutral colors.
You'll need to schedule the date to stop previous utilities and start new ones. Gas, electricity, water, sewer, trash, phone, cable, internet, etc. Note that most internet providers will not let you out of a contract simply because you're moving, but rather only if they don't have service at your new home.
FIND A NEW DOCTOR/DENTIST:
This can be tricky depending on your insurance, but hopefully rather painless. You should be able to log onto your insurance's website to change your doctor and address.
UNENROLL / ENROLL IN SCHOOLS:
You'll need to official unenroll from your old school and have them transfer records to your new school, where you'll need to register. Note that if you have younger children in Pre-K - 2nd grade, their birthday could mean they get held back or skip a year. For example, in NYC the age cutoff is December 31 and for most of New Jersey it's October 1. In some places children will be assessed and it'll be a discussion between parents and administration, but NYC public school system is very strict about not allowing a child to be held back when entering Pre-K, K and 1st grade - they MUST be turning the correct age Jan 1 - Dec 31 (turning 4 for Pre-K, 5 for K, 6 for 1st grade), no matter what grade they last completed.
I'm so excited to be working with the world famous Harlem Globetrotters to promote their Pushing the Limits World Tour!! We've never been to a game before but have been provided tickets to one of their upcoming games here at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on February 16 (locally in NYC they're also playing Madison Square Garden on February 17).
This is more than a basketball game. It is more than a show. It is the one and only Harlem Globetrotters in an all-new, larger-than-life world tour. You'll be on your feet, out of your seat, laughing until it hurts and loving every moment. The 5th Quarter - The game isn't over after the final shot! Meet your favorite Globetrotter courtside after the game to get an autograph and photo.
Don't miss out - get your tickets today and save SAVE 25% for ALL Harlem Globetrotters Games with promo code FUNFAM. Must purchase 14 days before Game Date, valid for any game, expires May 1, 2020.
You can view their full schedule here - they'll be playing throughout the US, Canada, and even several countries in Europe!!
Of course, stay tuned - I'll be posting a blog post and YouTube video of our experience at the game - I can't wait!! It's going to be a really fun show! Have you been to one before??
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links - you won't pay more but we'll receive a small commission from purchases made after clicking.
One by one, cities and states and countries around the world are hopping on board the train to Save the Planet. No matter how small, each step every person takes can make a difference. But let's be honest, sometimes it takes policy change to force individual change. This is why I couldn't be more thrilled to hear that NYC's "Plastic Bag Ban" is taking effect March 1, 2020!! That's right!!! Any retailer required to collect NY State sales tax will not be allowed to distribute single use plastic bags.
Retailers can, but don't have to, sell single use paper bags for $0.05. And many will have reusable bags for sale for those who forget a bag. But don't be this guy who ends up buying bag after bag because you keep forgetting!! This is rather wasteful, after all, which is what we're trying to avoid here! Stock up on a few great bags now - keep one in your work bag, your diaper bag, in the stroller, a few in the car, you get the idea!! Shop local if you can, and if you prefer to order online, here are a few cool ones we've seen, as well as a few other hacks like using a wagon or home delivery!
Self-Storing 2oz Polyester Fabric Reusable Bag
This super lightweight polyester fabric reusable washable bag weighs only 2oz yet can hold a max weight of 40 pounds. It folds into its own pocket for super quick and easy storage, with no extra bag to lose!
Ripstop Polyester Fabric Reusable Bag
Made of lightweight but durable ripstop polyester fabric, this washable and reusable bag squishes into a 4" carrier and can hold up to 50 pounds.
Washable Cotton Mesh Bag
Made of 100% cotton, these washable and reusable mesh bags hold up to 40 pounds and are great for produce shopping.
Cart or Wagon
Of course, you can go beyond bags. I have been LOVING my wagon - it carries my kids and their stuff, and it also carries my groceries, no bags required!! Many New Yorkers are used to the standard vertical carts, but they're not so practical as you have to be very careful with stacking your goods. My Wonderfold Wagon can hold up to 200 pounds, and it collapses so it doesn't take up too much space in our entry way! Get 25% off a W1 or W2 model at wonderfoldwagon.com with code "heathert25", or find on Amazon.
Home Delivery (Fresh Direct)
You may find this the push to do more home delivery, which will use more gas, and require a tip and possibly a delivery fee, but it sure is easy to shop from home! Personally, I'm a huge fan of Fresh Direct - they have same and next day delivery, and the bonus is that they use HUGE reusable bags. They'll pick up your last batch of bags with your next round of groceries, and in between you are free to use their bags as needed - I usually fold a couple and keep them in my wagon to organize local grocery shopping! Did I mention, THEY'RE HUGE and very strong!!
I'm a NYC metro area mom blogger living in NJ with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1), focusing on fun and honest product and travel reviews, saving moms time finding the best for their families! Find what you need in the menu bar or search section above!