I want to start this post off with a HUGE THANK YOU to King Kong Broadway, for providing us tickets in exchange for this post, but moreover, for providing my husband and I with a much needed (and LONG overdue) date night! And a thrilling one, at that!!
King Kong officially opened up on Broadway in November 2018 and has been receiving rave reviews, and I can now say personally, for good reason! Before heading to the show, I checked out their website and Instagram feed, but frankly, wasn't quite sure what to expect. A broadway musical... about King Kong? What the heck??? But now I'm here to tell you what you can expect: to be absolutely thrilled, breathless, enthralled... I could go on! And it starts from the moment you arrive at the theater.
Their logo, with the heroine's silhouette within King Kong's shadow, love it! They've got it shining on the stage curtain when you walk in as well, so don't miss the opportunity to run up and take a photo in front of it as we and countless others did! They also have great merchandise, even water bottles with King Kong on them!
The story takes place in 1931, during the Great Depression, and we are quickly introduced to our beautiful and brave heroine, aspiring actress Ann (played by Christiani Pitts), who goes from dreaming of being Queen of the City to sleeping in Central Park and waiting in the soup line. She runs into her perceived savior, Carl (played by Eric William Morris), a film maker, who takes her on an incredible journey across the seas to Skull Island.
Now, I want to pause here a moment to go over the incredible stage. How they were able to transform it from the streets of New York City to bobbing up and down across the ocean - they actually build the bow of the ship in front of your eyes and have it on hydraulics (I'm assuming?). AMAZING!! You actually feel like you're sailing across the seas with them!
On Skull Island, Ann is captured by King Kong, then saved by him, and finally her crew captures him and transports him back to NYC for exhibition. Because, it's all about the money, isn't it? This is the part of the story we're all familiar with. His fate is doomed, of course, which is utterly tragic and I have to admit I was very close to tears at the end. But the way they transform the characters, use King Kong's demise to inspire the characters and the audience to do the right thing rather than the easy or greedy thing. It's truly beautiful! The final song is upbeat and helps you leave the show feeling alive and excited rather than walking out bawling over the epic destruction of such a beautiful beast.
Speaking of the beast. He was basically a modern day puppet. Hung from strings, and operated by a group of hooded puppeteers on the stage and above (taking a bow, above). You could see them climb up his back and jump down making Kong's arm raise quickly and dramatically as his ROAR boomed across the theater. It was simply fascinating to watch him. They somehow figured out how to have him running across the jungle or streets of NYC, with exciting techno music, Kong staying in one spot but the screen behind him flying by, puppeteers moving his arms and legs in running motion. Your mind knew it wasn't actually running, but you simply couldn't believe otherwise. He is fast and ferocious, and this crew is nothing but masterful in its portrayal!!
Kong's face was also spectacular. His eyes had soul, and so much emotion came through in the subtle motions made by the robotics team backstage. He's obviously not a real live gorilla, or is he?! Sometimes I almost forgot.
The story, the music, the dancing, the acting - all top notch, holding its own on Broadway and definitely well worth your time and money. But King Kong himself, he is the show stopper. He is what makes this a truly unique and unforgettable experience!!
So, make haste and grab your tickets today!! Get $55 off with code KKPVM129 here through 9/1/19! One final note, though. I personally wouldn't recommend this show for young children (under 4 years not permitted in the theater, but I would say under 7 may get afraid during certain scenes). I mean, I'm a grown woman and found some scenes downright terrifying - that roar, man, not something you soon forget!! Here's a great montage:
This post is made possible by support from King Kong Broadway. All opinions are my own.
A couple of weeks ago I spent the day at Toy Fair New York 2019 and phew, it was a BIG day! This was my 3rd year in a row attending Toy Fair New York, which is only open to toy makers & distributers, buyers, and media. Since it's not open for you guys, the consumers, I always feel responsible and excited to walk the expo floor, booth by booth, hours on end, to find the new, exciting, and mind blowing products new to the market or coming soon. Many of these will be the hottest toys for Christmas 2019, and will be on all of your kids' wish lists! For the kids at heart out there, there are some great toys for you, too, as well as some non-toy products!! So, watch my Toy Fair New York highlights video below featuring my picks for the BEST TOYS OF 2019, and keep reading below that for some photos and details of a select few items from the video (some affiliate links are included, which provide our blog with a small comission from items you purchase - thank you)!
BEST ACTIVE TOYS:
BEST ARTS & CRAFTS TOYS:
BEST BABY & TODDLER TOYS:
BEST BOOKS & READING TOYS:
BEST COMPOUND TOYS:
BEST COOKING TOYS:
BEST PRETEND PLAY TOYS:
BEST PLUSHY TOYS:
BEST TRAVEL TOYS & PRODUCTS:
BEST VIDEO GAME & TECH TOYS:
OTHER HOT ITEMS (not toys):
In case you missed my Best Toys for 2018 video from Toy Fair New York last year, watch it below, LOTS of gooooooood stuff!
~ sponsored post ~
It may be freezing outside, but the time is NOW to plan your children's summer! Most summer camps' early bird discounts expire in March, and others are fully booked up around that time! Our 2019 Summer Camp Guide will go live in a week or so, in the mean time, we're thrilled to introduce you to Kids in the Game (KING) Summer Day Camp!!
KING offers an action-packed classic day camp experience at their 5 NYC locations, including Park Slope, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Inwood, and Riverdale. Emphasizing enrichment through movement and play, campers will have a blast in activities such as sports, Zumba, art, STEM, theater, yoga, twice-weekly pool days, and weekly field trips!!
Children entering Pre-K through 8th grade are welcome to register at Kids in the Game, where activities are designed to instill teamwork, introduce friendly competition, build sportsmanship, develop confidence, and create an unforgettable summer experience!
KING Summer Day Camp runs Monday to Friday, 9AM - 4 PM, with complimentary early drop-off as early as 8am and extended day til 6PM for just $15 per day.
There is an Early Bird Discount of $50 off registration before March 1, and 10% sibling discount for each child.
PARK SLOPE LOCATION:
Saint Saviour High School (701 8th Ave; with gymnasium, cafeteria, classrooms, and library will be used for indoor activities each day), and much time spent at Prospect Park (1 block away)
DATES: 7 weeks (July 1 - August 16)
Kids in the Game also offers camps for shorter school breaks, sports and school programs, and birthday parties!! Get more info here and be sure to sign up for their e-mail list serve to be kept in the loop!
This post was sponsored by Liberty Science Center through a Momtrends blogger campaign, however all thoughts and opinions are my own (cuz... I'm no sell out!!)!
Little by little we're making our way through my list of the best day trips & weekend getaways from NYC, as well as the best kid-friendly spots within the 5 boroughs, and this past Saturday brought us to a new one which is now one of my all-time favorites: Liberty Science Center!! In a nutshell, the entire facility and all of the exhibitions were immaculate, there were endless hands-on activities for everyone from toddlers through adults, and it's relatively easily accessible for NYC dwellers despite it being "all the way over" in New Jersey LOL!! Watch my video highlights here and keep reading below for more details about the center in general as well as some brand new exhibits!
DOC MCSTUFFINS EXHIBIT:
Open from October 6, 2018 - January 27, 2019, this exhibit is based on Disney Jr.'s award winning children's TV series, Doc McStuffins. Children can feed newborns in the nursery, complete check-ups in the ER, care for animals in the Pet Vet, tune-up toys, and more! My kids loved every nook and cranny of this exhibit, and my girls were specially fascinated with the pretend hand washing stations, haha!!
SHERLOCK HOLMES EXHIBIT:
Walking through this interactive adventure, you could really find yourself carried away to another time and place. Each center is meticulously decorated with forensic clues to read and examine - see first hand how blood splatter analysis works, how foot prints differ going forward and backward, and much more!! Do note that this is a premium exhibit, meaning it's not included in general admission. You can pay an extra $6 or so to go the planetarium OR a premium exhibit, or about $10 extra to do both. Don't expect to follow along and actually solve the crime if you have little ankle biters in tow like we did (though it's still enjoyable to walk through and take it all in), but if you have older kids or adults only, spend an hour in here and have an exciting crime-solving adventure!
I could not believe my eyes when walking into this room, and seeing on their website that it's the "Biggest Planetarium in the Western Hemisphere", yep, I believe it!! It's massive!!!!! When sitting down, it's overwhelming and absolutely breathtaking!! When seated you pretty much had a 180 degree view from left to right, and the screen and images even wrap up and behind you a bit. We saw the "One World, One Sky: Big Bird's Adventure" Sesame Street Show and it was really adorable - we learned some of the basic constellations and even traveled to China and the Moon!! Currently playing, they also have "Black Holes" and "Wonders of the Night Sky". It's not included in the standard admission fee, it's an add-on just like the "premium" Sherlock Holmes exhibit mentioned above.
OTHER NOTABLE ACTIVITIES & EXHIBITS:
Liberty Science Center is just a 40 minute drive from Bay Ridge Brooklyn (about 1 hour 15 minutes by bus / Path / NJ Light Rail), so totally doable if you plan to spend half a day there or so - great for a cold or rainy Saturday or Sunday!! They're open 9am - 4pm on Tuesdays - Fridays and 9am - 5:30pm on weekends (closed Mondays). Parking is $7. Admission is $23.75 per adult ($19.75 for ages 2 - 12), plus $6 for a combo pass (1 planetarium show OR 1 premium exhibit) or plus $10 for a Premium Pass (1 planetarium show AND 1 premium exhibit).
But here's where you can get a great deal... the FAMILY MEMBERSHIP!!! At just $175, basically the same price as 2 visits with a family of 4! It includes unlimited admission for 2 adults and 4 kids, 6 single-use passes (which can be exchanged for theater show tickets), member-only events (including member mornings and nights), and discounted theater/planetarium shows, premium exhibits, science camp, gift shop & cafe! Membership also grants you free admission to over 340 science & technology centers around the world as part of the ASTC Travel Passport Program (they must be at least 90 miles from your residence or science center where you are a member).
Thanks again to Momtrends and Liberty Science Center for hosting all of us bloggers and our families - we had a blast (above pix from our private party that included breakfast, learning about Bernoulli's Principle of Flight via 9 rolls of toilet paper, and making ice cream with liquid nitrogen - SO FUN!!)
The New Victory Theater is THE best place to introduce your kids to theater, serving as "New York City's premier nonprofit performing arts theater devoted year-round to kids and their families and classmates". What's this mean? They are amazingly kid-friendly, with incredibly entertaining shows, activities before and after the show, stroller parking, changing tables, free lockers, and more. And oh yeah, tickets are actually affordable!! You can read more about The New Victory Theater in my blog post here, but THIS blog post is more specifically about the show they currently have running, Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams - keep reading for more and enter to win a 4-pack of tickets in the giveaway app at the bottom!! Please note: The show runs through December 30 but the giveaway vouchers will be good only for performances through December 23.
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams is an exciting acrobatic show put together by two brothers from Ethiopia, who dreamed of joining the circus and are now sharing that dream with the world! Knowing the backstory makes it even more interesting. The brothers, Bibi and Bichu, had this dream of joining the circus without ever having seen a show in person, and headed to England at the age of 12 and 13 with one of the first Nigerian troupes to tour Europe. They went on to perform all over the world, and since 2010 have been funding and providing equipment to several circus schools, including one in Ethiopia. From these schools, they've found the incredible and inspiring acrobats they've cast in Circus Abyssinia.
Geared toward guests ages 5 and up (but my 3 year old twins LOVED it!!), you'll be on the edge of your seat grinning and applauding to jaw-dropping contortionists, jugglers, Chinese pole acrobats, tumblers, an aerialist, a hula hooper, cloth spinners, and a hilarious comedian! Some of the acts are pretty typical, others are incredibly unique (an aerialist on chains instead of silk!? what!?), matching the talent you'd find in any great cirque show. Though the added African flare woven in through music, costumes, and dance really makes it feel a step beyond pure entertainment - it also feels like a bit of a cultural experience. You'll laugh, you'll scream, your spirit will be moved by the beauty and sensuality of some acts, and just try not to clap and dance along in your seat during the hula hoop and Chinese poles performances!! SO FUN!!!
As always at The New Victory Theater, you're also sure to enjoy the pre- and post-show fun and kid-friendly Family Engagement Activities! Our kids had fun balancing feathers on their hands and walking across tight ropes (i.e. jump ropes on the floor) before the show. It's a small theater that feels really intimate - there are really no bad seats. The staff is incredibly friendly and helpful, and the ushers will bring your little ones boosters!
Running November 30 - December 30 (with Autism-friendly show December 14 @ 7PM), the performance is 90 minutes with one intermission, and tickets start at just $22, but don't forget, you can enter to win a 4-pack of tickets below (giveaway vouchers will be valid for performances through 12/23).
GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Open to US residents ages 18 and over. The winner will be selected randomly and have 24 hours reply/confirm; they will receive a Family 4-pack Voucher to The New Victory Theater. This includes 4 tickets to any performance of CIRCUS ABYSSINIA: ETHIOPIAN DREAMS scheduled through Dec. 23, 2018, based on availability.
**12/1/2018 update: the giveaway is over and the show is mid-run but I wanted to do a quick update because we went to see it last night and it was AH-MAY-ZING!!!!! The acts were simply out of this world, jaw dropping, exciting, hilarious, beautiful, all rolled into one crazy good show! Our 3 year old twins took a nice long nap during the day so were able to stay awake and in absolute awe during the entire show (we saw the 8pm show which had a 20 minute intermission), my 5 year old unfortunately as much as he loved it couldn't keep his eyes open even til intermission, he's so bummed today!!). So that's my only recommendation, try to get the matinee show if going with small kids! But as for the show, it's truly good for all ages - I would have loved it as a date night with hubby, but perhaps for the first time in my life I enjoyed something with my kids even more than I would have alone? Seeing their faces watching it, their laughter, their "WOW!!!!!s", simply the best!!! If you can get tickets for today or tomorrow, or whenever the next time Cirque Dreams comes to town, do it!!!
Guys!! I'm thrilled to let you all know about an amazing tour coming to Brooklyn! Cirque Dreams Holidaze will be lighting up the stage of Brooklyn's Kings Theater from November 29 through December 2. I'll be GIVING AWAY A 4-PACK OF TICKETS (enter to win below) and all can get 20% off tickets with code FAMILY (lap children under 1 year old do not need tickets, and the theater will have a stroller check).
Featuring 20 of the world’s best acts, the finest singers, original music and seasonal favorites, audiences will be dazzled and amazed by this gravity-defying holiday celebration that is fun for the whole family.
The Holiday Spectacular is making its first ever visit to Brooklyn, and they'll only be here for 4 days, so grab your tickets quick before they sell out!! Cirque Dreams Holidaze run dates – November 29th – December 2nd, as follows:
BROOKLYN KINGS THEATER (1027 Flatbush Avenue)
You can purchase tickets through the Ticketmaster link here (don't forget to use code FAMILY for 20% off!!)
My family has been provided tickets in exchange for this promotion, and we couldn't be more excited!! Check back in after the 30th as I'll be adding my review in here (but don't wait til then to grab your tickets)!!
And now, what you've all been waiting for - the giveaway!!! Enter to win below (open to US residents ages 18+ only). Once you leave a blog comment and click in the giveaway app that you've done so, it'll open up more options to gain extra entry points. Some are daily, so come back and keep increasing your chances!! The giveaway will end on Monday, November 12 at 11:59PM EST and the winner will be randomly chosen and contacted on November 13 (and will display in the below app). Good luck everyone!!!
Family vacations are so important, for making memories and experiencing new things together, but if I'm being honest, as a mother of 3 small children, they sometimes don't quite feel like vacation to me. I just kinda feel like I'm parenting in another location, and deserve a vacation after coming back from the vacation! But this past weekend, we found the answer to our vacation woes. A super duper family-friendly ALL-INCLUSIVE resort near NYC that includes, wait for it, CHILD CARE!!! This amazing place is none other than Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, New York, just a quick 2 hour drive north from New York City (or hop on Amtrak and they'll have a shuttle pick you up from the station!).
Full disclosure, we were provided our stay free of charge in exchange for our review and promotion. But don't worry, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased - I'm no sell out!!!
Watch our fun video here and keep reading for details on the Rocking Horse Ranch accommodations, activities, food, and more!!
The main grounds of Rocking Horse Ranch are pretty compact, which made everything super convenient! Our room was located in the Main Lodge and we could get to the pool, dining room, arcade, and theater without going outside! And it was just a quick walk outside to the other areas including the playground, stables, day care, fun barn, etc.
They have rooms accommodating 4 - 6 people. We got the "Main Lodge AA" room for 6 people, which included 2 queen beds and a bunk bed, which my kids were over the moon for!!! Our 5 year old took the top bunk (which has built in rails) and our 3 year old twins shared the bottom bunk (I simply pulled 2 wooden chairs over to use as a makeshift rail and it worked like a charm. But frankly, everyone was so exhausted after a full day on the ranch that they crashed quickly and slept like the dead. The room was spacious and included a TV, fridge, shower/bath, toilet, 2 sinks, coffee table, dresser, and tons of hanging / storage space.
The room, like the entire hotel, had a fun ranch / cowboy / Wild West theme, and seemed newly renovated. Everything was in immaculate condition, super clean, and honestly impressed the heck out of me!
As you would expect at an all-inclusive resort, all meals were included. Breakfast and Lunch were buffet style, and dinner was sit down and order off the menu, however there was no limit on how much you could order. On your first day, you must make a dinner reservation and that same time will remain your dinner time for your entire stay. We struggled with what time to sign up for, not wanting it to cut into our fun activities and also not make us rushed to get to the 8pm nightly entertainment! We settled on 6:30PM and it was perfect. The dining area itself, just like the rest of the hotel, has a beautifully decorated rustic cowboy type theme, complete with dozens of antler chandeliers, views of the surrounding forest, and a gorgeous fireplace (bring your cameras, this is one of the many great spots in the hotel for some family photos)!
Breakfast was delicious, featuring eggs, pancakes, french toasts with strawberries, bacon, eggs, danishes, oatmeal and yogurt stations, tons of fresh fruit and individual cereal boxes, bagels, etc. You can also order eggs anyway you like, we got a bacon and cheese omelet that was ah-may-zing (be sure to scroll through the food gallery above)!!
Lunch had some standards like hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and DIY sandwiches, pastas, make-your-own bar like tacos, sloppy joes, etc. The fun part about lunch is the Character meet-and-greet. Even though they weren't well-known characters from TV, our kids were so excited to hug and high-five Betsy the Horse, a Prospector, and a Cowboy (see below)!
Dinner consisted of a soup, a salad, 2 appetizers, 6 or so main dishes, and 2 sides. Menus of all meals are posted before each meal outside the dining room, just in case you want to go over it before sitting down at the table, which can be a crazy time for families like mine! You could order as much as you wanted, and even order basics not on the menu that might be more picky-kid-friendly, pizza for example. As hard as it is with all that endless food to devouer, I encourage you to SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT because they have a to-die-for selection of pies, as well as soft serve ice cream sundae bar, cookies, etc. YUMMMMMMM!!!!!
There are two self-serve drink bars in the dining room, with all kinds of sodas, whole milk, chocolate milk, water, and flavored waters. A separate server comes around in case you want to order alcohol at dinner, which is not included. There is also a 24-hour coffee / hot chocolate / pastry station located in one of the common areas near the lobby - all free, of course!
At Rocking Horse Ranch, child care (or "day camp" if you prefer) is free of charge for ages 3 - 12, and $12 per hour per child under the age of 3! No reservations needed, just drop-in between 9am - 5pm and pick them back up whenever! Use as long or as often as needed during your stay! It was SO AMAZING, I don't ever want to go on "vacation" again without a child care option LOL! Not only was it great to get some (free) alone time with my husband, but the kids LOVED it there! They actually begged to go back!! They have 2 rooms, one for ages 0-5, and one for ages 6-12. They have tons of age-appropriate activities in the rooms, but they also give the kids the option to go on trips outside to the various activities. They took our kids moon jumping, to see the animals, to the play ground, etc!
PONY RIDES & HORSE BACK RIDING:
Now, it wouldn't be a RANCH without some horses and other animals, and they are certainly in abundance here! With over 100 horses to ride, they're able to guarantee a free daily trail ride to every guest (must be 48" and above, under 48" can take pony rides). You'll need to select a time (same daily) for your ride, but you can also get extra rides waiting standby at other ride times. We met some girls who were riding 3 times a day! They accommodate any level, from first-time beginners (like us) to intermediate (walk-trot) and advanced (walk-trot-canter). You can attend a demonstration to learn more about the horses, the stable, and how to ride, or you can wing it as we did - the staff will give you a 30-second instruction about how to hold the reins and control the horse, and then you're on your own to keep your horse in check as you head out with a group on your 45 minute trail ride.
I'm not gonna lie, I was rather terrified. Those horses are huge and while they're tame and more or less know what to do because they do the same trail ride several times a day, you had to be careful not to let your horse get too close to the next horse or else they might spook each other or bite or whatever, oh my gosh it was very nerve wracking for me. There are wranglers riding along with the group though, and they gallop over to come to help out within a few seconds (nothing major happened on our ride, just a few horses got out of line to munch on some grass and occasionally a rider needed help getting back in line). I'm very proud of myself that I did it, despite my fear, but we decided not to go back for a second ride haha! My sore butt thanked me.
Our kids, on the other hand, were absolutely in love with their pony rides!! The last time Emi had a chance to ride, a year ago at 2 years old, she was so petrified she wouldn't even touch the horse. But this time, she was so happy to be up on that pony. All of them were. And my heart nearly exploded with the cuteness of it all!!!
Rocking Horse Ranch has a great indoor water park area with a big pool in the lower section (with a fun bobbing platform area to walk across), a nice splash area for the younger crowd in the upper section (with 1 small and 2 medium sized slides), and a MONSTER of a water slide for the older kids and adults. That slide is 250 feet long, and let me warn you, you go FAST!!! It is really really fun!!! I was shocked my 5 year old was brave enough to go it alone, but he did and he loved it, rode it about 5 times during our stay!!
The water and air temperatures in there are kept at a balmy 85 degrees fahrenheit, so no chills to worry about, and they also have great life jackets for the kids to wear (for 30-50 pounds). Down one flight of stairs (which isn't kept as warm, so you'll need to dry off or bundle up) you'll find bathrooms, showers, changing rooms, and saunas. Or you can run through the hallways from your room to the pool in your bathing suits, as we did haha!
ACTIVITIES, ANIMALS, & ENTERTAINMENT:
No matter your age or interest, you will find plenty to do at Rocking Horse Ranch, and nearly all of it is free of charge for guests (the only things I ran across that cost extra were alcohol, arcade games, and mining camp, but anything that costs extra will be noted so on the daily activity guides).
In the indoor Fun Barn (pictured above) you'll find a bouncy house, large jungle gym with lots of foam ball shooting devices, badminton, ping pong, and electric rock climbing. Outside of that, you'll find 3 moon jumping trampolines (pictured below) and a rock climbing platform.
Near the stables, you'll find an enormous playground (pictured above), indoor BB shooting range & archery, Highland Cattle, zebra, camel, pigs, donkeys, and goats. You can watch a silversmith make horse shoes (they have over 100 horses, each needing new shoes every 6-8 weeks - be sure to watch our video to see them putting new shoes on a horse, it's fascinating!!).
Our favorite activity was definitely the mountain tubing. They have a "Magic Carpet Lift" that brings you and your tubes up, and fly down down the huge hill at super speed!!! You cannot double up in one tube, but even our 3 year olds were fine riding solo. Sometimes they'll let you go double with 2 tubes (1 person in each) and 1 person holding the leash of the other tube. We enjoyed that as well. At night they light it up in fun colors and it brings it to a whole new level of fun!
Inside the main lodge, in the basement, you'll find the Lucky Horseshoe Arcade with pay-to-play machines as well as 2 lanes of free mini bowling, and a fun interactive floor game.
Down the hall from the arcade, you'll find the Silverado Saloon where they have daily activities such as scavenger hunts, trivia games and nightly live entertainment (we saw a great magician there).
In the summer they have more outdoor activities open up including an outdoor pool and water slide, and in winter they have snow tubing and skiing! They also have a softball field, tennis courts, horseshoe pitching, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, horse-drawn wagon or sleigh rides, and you can take a shuttle to a golf course and the Walkway Across the Hudson!
Seasonal, of course, they make a killer haunted house, with nighttime tours as well as "not as scary" (but still super creepy and gross) day time behind the scenes tours, which my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed. They tell you how they made it, how they mange from above the crowds, use trap doors etc. Be sure to watch my video for some of the cool behind the scenes tour!
So there you have it, our family vacation at Rocking Horse Ranch in a big amazingly fun nutshell!! I'm not going to sugar coat it, this is not a low-budget vacation. But you can find deals and make a splurge, because honestly, it's SO worth it!!! Prices I've seen on their booking page range from about $349 - $979 per room per night, but don't forget, this includes EVERYTHING during your stay!
What do you think?? Is this on your list of places to visit? Have you been before? Have another place to recommend for us to try out? Be sure to head on over to our great FAMILY-FRIENDLY DAY TRIPS & WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM NYC page for some other great destinations!!
One of the greatest things about being a "mom blogger" is learning about the latest and greatest products, trends, and innovations, and getting to share them with all of you! Momtrends has been such an amazing resource for me, both as a mom and as a blogger. Their influencer events are always a blast, helping us connect with brands and learn about them in fun and creative ways. This year's 3rd Annual Moms' Night Out was no different, and I couldn't be more excited to tell you guys all about it!! Read on for a glimpse of the event and the wonderful brands and products that were represented there!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own and completely unbiased. Amazon links below are "affiliate links" - you don't pay more, but I may get a small commission to help fund the blog, it's a win win!
The event was hosted by Parents Magazine at the Meredith Publications HQ in downtown Manhattan. There couldn't be a better match than Momtrends and Meredith, they totally run the parenting market in print with Parents and Parents Latina magazine (even if you're not receiving them at home, you're certainly reading them at your pediatrician's waiting room like I did yesterday), and digital on momtrends.com and parents.com (the latter did a piece on my twin pregnancy stop motion video that went viral 3 years ago!).
The night included fashion, food, massage, drinks, toys, giveaways, friends, and... being "moms' night out and all... no kids! YASSSSSS!
Now let me get down to the sponsoring brands, the great products they have, and the fun ways we got to learn about them!
The Culturelle booth was my first of the night, they had a selection of great diaper bags to chose from and asked us to fill one as we would for a family trip! Lucky for me I don't have to bother with diapers anymore, but with kids in tow you still have plenty to think about - snacks, entertainment, illness, etc! They had amazing must-haves to throw in there! I ended up going with some KIND bars and Happy Family Happy Tot Fiber & Protein bars, Aquaphor Baby lotion, Babyganics sunblock, Johnson & Johnson mini first aid kit, sippy cups, and of course, Culturelle Baby Calm + Comfort Probiotics and Culturelle Baby Grow + Thrive Probiotics!
Culturelle has probiotics for the whole family - for digestive health, wellness, and even an entire line focusing on building a strong foundation for your baby's healthy growth and development. It's actually the #1 Pediatrician recommended brand (based on a 2016 survey among pediatricians recommending a kids probiotic brand). Culturelle® Baby Calm + Comfort Probiotic + Chamomile Drops help reduce crying and fussiness due to occasional digestive upset. Culturelle® Baby Grow + Thrive Probiotics + Vitamin D Drops promote the development of a healthy digestive and immune system, and help them build strong bones. You can shop for Culturelle products on culturelle.com, Amazon (affiliate link), and your local drug store. Read more about Culturelle in my blog post here!
The next booth was deeeeeee-licious! Boiron USA wanted to provided a healthy and Instagrammable booth for us to enjoy, and they sure did, with a full smoothie bar!
Boiron USA is a world leader in homeopathic medicines, providing family-friendly products that work without causing drowsiness or drug interaction, and is best known for their top-selling flu medicine Oscillococcinum. Their baby & children's line features Children's Coldcalm Liquid Doses (multi-symptom cold relief for children 6 months and up) and Children's Chestal Honey Syrup (relieves all types of coughs). Boiron's homeopathic medicines have no risk overdose, won't interact with other medications, herbs, or supplements, and don't contain any of the ingredients questioned by the FDA for use in children under age 4. Amazing right!? You can purchase Boiron USA homeopathic medicines on boironusa.com and Amazon (affiliate link).
JCPenney's Peyton & Parker Collection
Now, I wouldn't call myself fashion forward or at all fashionably inclined. I struggle with this big time, so I was a wee bit intimidated upon hearing JCPenny's booth involved styling a mannequin family with items from their new exclusive Peyton & Parker Collection. They had a couple of racks lined up, and once I started flipping through, it was actually fun!! They have super cute stuff that coordinate quite easily! Check out me and my little mock-family below!
JCPenney's new lifestyle brand, Peyton & Parker, launched TODAY (October 19) and will be sold exclusively in select JCPenny stores and online. Designed entirely by their in-house Design Team, Peyton & Parker is a collection of classic womens, mens, kids and home looks that mix & match to create effortless, yet put-together style for the family. The pieces are classic and versatile - fresh, approachable trends that work for every family’s lifestyle, no matter the occasion.
Am I saving the best for last? Perhaps... VTech wanted to demonstrate that their toys will keep your children entertained and engaged enough to provide you with some much needed "me time". So what did they offer at their booth? Well, tons of great toys for us to play around with. But also, MASSAGES!!!
VTech is a world leader in developing high-quality, innovative educational products that enrich children's development and make learning fun! From Kidizoom smart watch (that I'm playing with above) to digital cameras, musical instruments, activity walkers, and more! Be sure to check out their Holiday Guide (sorted by age group) to make your shopping this year easy peasy! You can purchase at vtechkids.com, on Amazon (affiliate link), and at local stores.
Great stuff, am I right!? Are you already a using and loving any products mentioned above? Have you just added some to your shopping carts? Lemme know in a comment below!!
updated since originally posted 5/27/2016
In addition to mommying 3 littles, running this blog & Bay Ridge Families, and managing social media for a handful of companies, I'm also founder and admin to a few Bay Ridge groups on Facebook. I created the groups when my son was 3 months old, because being a SAHM with a baby was terribly isolating and I had no mommy friends or sense of community! The groups that I am most proud of, and simply couldn't live without, are the Bay Ridge Baby/Toddler/Kid Mamas groups. A group that started with just 5 members in 2013 is now a community of 4000 supportive mamas!! The following list includes businesses run by these mamas (and their partners) - local brick & mortar shops in Bay Ridge, online stores, direct sales, blogs, you name it!! Shop Local and Support Small Businesses!!
LOCAL SHOPS, RESTAURANTS & SCHOOLS:
LOCAL SERVICES FOR BODY & MIND
ONLINE SHOPS & GIFTS
BLOGS & PODCASTS
I spent hours last weekend meandering through the 2018 New York Baby Show, the biggest baby expo in the country!! It was my 6th year in attendance, and as always, I was simply blown away with some of the innovative and amazing new products out there for baby, toddler, and parent! Keep reading for my top picks, and don't miss my highlights video at the bottom featuring exciting demos of some of my favorites! I'd also like to give a big shout out to Momtrends for their ongoing support of us NYC mom & dad bloggers, and their sponsorship and organization of the #NYBSBloggerLounge!
Please note, there are some affiliate links below - if you shop through these links, you won't pay anything extra but we will receive a small commission to help fund this blog - win win!!
Best for Bath: Summer Infant My Bath Seat
Bath time can be fun for baby and parents, but it can also be terrifying and exhausting, not to mention downright dangerous - especially when bathing twins or multiple children!! The Summer Infant My Bath Seat provides a baby or young toddler a safe place to sit and play - the seat secures to both sides of the tub and the back!! Please take care, even if using a safety seat such as this one, please PLEASE never never ever leave your child unattended in the bath (or even in the bathroom when water is running)!!!
Best for Twins: Romp & Roost
Snap in the mesh divider for a play pen built for two, or remove it for an oversized play yard or roomy toddler bed! It also folds up for easy transport (about 32 pounds, same as a double stroller). Where was this when my twins were itty bitties?!?
Best for Sterilizing: Coral UV
From baby bottles to pacifiers, and tooth brushes to make up brushes, the Coral UV will sterilize (without use of heat or water) any non-waterproof products that can fit inside, in just 10 minutes!! It also has a 30-60 minute dry feature which could come in handy to dry freshly washed items, as well as a storage option that sterilizes every 2 hours to keep items super clean and ready to go.
Best for Toddlers: STAYnEAT, The Helping Plate
This plate pretty much addresses every issue I've had with my toddlers' self-feeding messes and mishaps! It is non-slip but you can also press in the center to activate the toddler-proof suction stay power (simply lift the corner to unseal). It has an outer lip to prevent spillage, and the inner plate has an incline to keep juices from mixing in and messing up flavors and textures of other food on the plate. It's double sided with one side being divided and the other side being a simple plate. And oh yeah, It's also dishwasher safe.
Best Infant Bed: Mumbelli
With a removable inclined wedge (great for babies with reflux) and an adjustable foot support for a comfortable womb-like fit, Mumbelli makes a wonderful co-sleeper, crib-insert, or travel bed for baby's first few months of life (until they're ready to start rolling over).
Best for Car Travel: Travel Tray
So simple yet so brilliant - this little tray fits into any cup holder, making it the perfect accessory for a car seat (or stroller, movie theater seat, you name it)! It'll still hold your child's cup or bottle, but also snacks and small toys.
Best Stroller: Evenflo Pivot Xpand
There are a few strollers out there boasting the ability to transition from 1 to 2 kids, but the Evenflo Pivot Xpand is the only one I've seen that does so without the need for any tools or extra parts (you just need to buy the 2nd seat and/or stroller board, but no add-on converters - they're already built in!!). It can hold up to 150 pounds of cargo and kids (up to 3 kids: 2 in seats and 1 on ride on board), has an expandable basket up to 2 feet long, and it's also gorgeous! Be sure to check out the demo in my video at the bottom of this post to see it go from infant seat to toddler seat to 2 toddler seats (both are infant compatible making it a great option for twins) and adding the ride-on board (which just snaps on!!). Up to 22 configurations!!
Best for Dribble: Bibby
Babies drool and spit-up, some more than others, and even the best bibs often allow that dribble to hide deep in those adorable neck folds. Until now. Say hello to Bibby, featuring a thick tall turtleneck type top and a velcro closure! BRILLIANT!
Best for Monitoring: Nanit Smart Baby Monitor
Baby monitors are getting smarter and smarter, and parents have to decide exactly how much they really want to keep track of. The Nanit is a cool new monitor that not only offers a birds eye view of your sleeping angel (on multiple users' phones) and keeps track of room temperature and humidity, but also helps track, monitor, and improve your baby's sleep! It'll send key notifications to you such as when baby wakes and falls asleep, and track on an app sleep cycles, when and how often a parent tends to baby, and give suggestions about how to help baby sleep longer and better based on current trends. Do note, the higher level tracking and tips require a $10/month subscription.
Best for Boobies: Ta-Ta Towel
Now, I haven't tried this personally, so I can't attest to how good the support is, or how well it lays under a shirt, but you can't argue that this isn't a truly unique nursing bra!! If I could rewind 2.5 years I would totally lounge around the house in this day and night! To top it off, the Ta-Ta Towel bras are handmade by women for women, in an eco-friendly factory in Los Angeles!
Best for Screen Free Digital Stories: Lunii
If it's for sale at MoMa, you know it's gotta be cool! This screen-free interactive digital device allows children to select their main characters, setting, and central object, which provides them one of 48 pre-loaded stories!! What's more? It's available in 8 languages! I see this as a great road trip item - since it's screen free, it shouldn't contribute to motion sickness (once all the characters are selected they just sit back and listen to the story)!
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE BABY SHOW:
About Me ^_^
I'm a NYC mom blogger, Influencer, YouTuber, & Entrepreneur living in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with my Japanese husband & our 3 kids (twins plus 1)! My blog is chock full of humor, honesty, family travel & product reviews, and giveaways galore! It's also home to Bay Ridge Families, with weekly local kids' events roundups and annual guides for families here in South Brooklyn!