Inside the KidzVuz Holiday House Party (Video)

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

100 mom and dad bloggers from all over the Northeast  - and their awesome kids, about 140 of them! – came ready to party with KidzVuz in NYC on November 24th, 2013.  We had amazing large sponsors like Homewood Suites by Hilton, Dermalogica, Samsung, Nintendo, Hasbro, Spinmaster and Audible.com along with smaller NY based brands we love like Downtown Bookworks, IScream NY,  Battery Pop, Green Mustache, Fairway Market and Chloe’s Soft Fruit.  Plus incredible non-profits like The Broadway League, ESRB and The Lamp NYC.

With hands-on activities throughout the room, and video stations where kids could talk about the fantastic products and sponsors that they really loved, the KidzVuz Holiday House Party kicked off the holiday season with joy, fun and plenty of candy to go around!

Watch the video and you’ll instantly see why KidzVuz is the only company that truly brings kids, families and awesome brands and experiences together in a really engaging and unique way!

Scary Santa (or Being Jewish on Christmas)

There are many aspects of Christmas that I envy as a Jewish girl.  Tree trimming,(and the fabulous ornament shopping and collecting), baking, decorating, just one morning of gifts instead of eight nights of pressure, and the amazing holiday songs (the best of which were written by Jews)

But Santa was never a source of envy for me.

A strange man manages to break into your home, even though your parents have assured you that could never happen. He eats your cookies and tries to win your favor by leaving toys.  (Don’t take toys from strangers, right?)

But weirdest of all is that your mom will stick you on the strange man’s lap and expect you to be happy about it.  If you’re Jewish it is especially strange to partake in this tradition.  Or, as you can see from this photo of me, and my screaming sister, terrifying.

scary santa

And don’t get me started on the Easter Bunny.

Check Out KidzVuz on WPIX Morning News: Hot Holiday Picks for Tweens!

Yesterday, Nancy Friedman and I were incredibly excited to do our first live on-air TV segment for KidzVuz.com.  We were featured on the WPIX Morning News here in NYC with two awesome KidzVuz reviewers to show the best holiday picks for tweens – by tweens!  Aren’t you sick of hearing adults go on and on about what kids want – only to discover your kid didn’t really care about that supposedly “hot” toy at all?  Well, we are lucky to have kids all over the country telling us what’s cool, trending or on their wish lists every day on KidzVuz.com.    Check out our awesome segment with the incredibly wonderful Tamsen Fadal who was beyond genuinely nice and great with the kids!

And check out the amazing giveaway for some of these products and a Windows HTC phone on KidzVuzParents.com.  Plus there’s still time for your kid to enter to win a $100 Visa Gift Card on KidzVuz.com.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Flashback

In 2004 my sister worked at CosmoGirl in the temporary offices of the Hearst Corporation, used while they were building the new fabulous building on 8th Ave.  These offices perfectly overlooked the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – right at eye level with the giant balloons.  My daughters were two years old – and totally in awe.

 

A Very Chocolatey Halloween with Jacques Torres

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This week we were seriously delighted to go to Jacques Torres in Tribeca and create chocolate Halloween confections with Jacques and his amazing team.  If you follow me on twitter you already know that I documented my first Wicked Hot Chocolate of the season on the first chilly day in October.

I love Jacques Torres chocolates, so when he opened a store near my daughters’ school it was a mixed blessing – for my dark chocolate tooth.  I sort of hid how awesome it was from my daughters, because the last thing I need are girls who love lobster AND high quality chocolate.  If a 50 cent Kit Kat makes them happy who am I to tell them otherwise?

But, I was super excited to bring my girls to have this incredible experience of both meeting Jacques and getting to work with his delicious chocolate to create really fabulous Halloween chocolate treats.  I had no idea how awesome it was going to be, but it was one of the experiences that surpassed my expectations.

First, the girls were given chef hats and smocks and I was given a hair net (this is why there are no pictures of me!)  Then they were led into the back of the store to the actual chocolate factory.  Vats of chocolate were stirring, racks of finished products were stacked to the ceiling, and the tables were laid out with jars of candy, sheets of molds, containers of fruits.

colored chocolate for decorating

All the fixings for candy chocolate making

They immediately dove in and started making Halloween lollipops and giant tombstones.  After filling in the details with colored chocolate they used a huge pastry bag full of dark, milk or white chocolate to fill the molds to the top, and then they were whisked off to the refrigerators to set.

Filling the tombstone mold

That would have been fabulous enough, but then wax lined baking sheets appeared with huge dollops of chocolate waiting to be decorated and candy covered.

Then, a giant Jack o’lantern (Jacques o’lantern) puzzle mold.  And finally, the huge haunted house molds.   Before I knew it my girls had created 40 pieces of chocolate Halloween goodness.  40!!!

Entire Halloween chocolate creation haul!

On top of all that, Jacques Torres couldn’t have been more wonderful with the kids.  He obviously loves what he does, and loves sharing it.  His team was incredibly gracious, patient and encouraging even though they were over run with sugared up kids (and parents.)   They even packaged everything up professionally to take home.

40 chocolate Halloween creations!

And now, I think that little Jacques Torres store near my daughters’ school will never be just my place ever again.  Also, I’m totally ordering the chocolate turkeys for Thanksgiving!

Get ready for Thanksgiving next!

Pinned on Pinterest: Tween/Teen Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

I’ve been a pinning maniac lately over on our KidzVuz Pinterest Board.  It’s such a great way to share our reviewer’s picks with parents of tweens, and also a super fun way to curate the best of what we see trending for tweens on the web and on KidzVuz.  Here’s our Valentine’s Day Board – we’re adding new stuff every day so follow us on Pinterest!

The Yule Log – An NYC Wordless Wednesday Fireplace

Nothing says holidays in NYC like the Yule Log.  Because who builds a fire in an NYC apartment?  If you grew up in the 70′s and 80′s in NYC the answer was WPIX (channel 11).  Now it’s available on demand on TWC channel 1006 – in HD.  So much better than hauling wood – and greener too!

Creating a Magically Priceless Holiday Season in NYC

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It goes without saying that I love raising my kids in NYC.  One of things I love the most is the incredible opportunities that are available to us just by living here.  We’ve gone behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Opera (this actually fulfilled one of MY biggest wishes), been to the Origami Tree Lighting at the American Museum of Natural History, skated in Central Park and watched the giant Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloons get inflated a block from their school. I’m always looking for the unique and special experiences that will be memorable and make my girls fully appreciate where they live.

This year I’ve discovered the Mastercard Priceless NY events to add to my must do holiday list.  I had the seriously fun pleasure of going to FAO Schwarz at 7:00 am – BEFORE it opened – to tour the store, get a first-hand look at all of the hottest new toys this season (many of which are featured in the KidzVuz Tween Gift Guide) and finally stock up on an awesome bag of candy!!  I didn’t take my daughters since they had to be at school – but really, being an adult at an empty FAO Schwarz was plenty fantastic.  I grew up in Brooklyn, and FAO was one of those magical places – like the Met, Lincoln Center and Broadway – that was reserved for a very special occasion, or a visiting relative.  I am so happy that they did not close it and have maintained much of what makes it magical.

While this event was great, even better is that I have now learned about all of the incredible Mastercard Priceless NY events and I’m hooked.  The NY Botanical Gardens Train Show before it opens to the public?  Yes.  A day spent with New Yorker cartoonists?  Definitely.  And there are so many more.  I’ve become addicted to the site actually – checking off all of the experiences I want to do and trying to figure out how to make them all work in our holiday calendar!  I think living in NYC is priceless – but it’s easy to lose sight of it sometimes.  So, I’m loving a site that helps me remember why I choose to raise my kids here and help us take full advantage of all there is to enjoy!

Check out the unique offerings at Mastercard.com (they’re doing London and Toronto too – so if you live there check those out!)

I received a gift card and a whole lotta candy at the FAO Schwarz event but it in no way influenced this post (except for the sugar rush, which contributed to the rambling)

The KidzVuz Gift Guide for Tweens is Here!

I’m all for bargain hunting, though Black Friday is pretty much my least favorite event in the world.  Nothing is worth the crowds and madness (and pepper spray) in my book.  But I do love to figure out exactly the right gift for the people in my life.  There is nothing better than watching someone’s face when they open your gift and it’s PERFECT! Of course some people are easier to buy for than others – and one notoriously difficult group to buy for are tweens.  Too old for your typical kids gifts, too young to be completely jaded and want only gift cards, you have to hit this group right on target or risk the eye-roll, or worse.

So, with that in mind we actually went to the source and asked our KidzVuz reviewers want they want this holiday season.  Then we did some pretty cool scouting ourselves at Toy Fair, from our friends at The Big Toy Book, and at all of the cool tech and toy previews we’ve been to this year.

We made our list, we checked it twice (actually about 50 times but we don’t want to make Santa feel like a slacker)  Then we threw in a whole bunch of amazing giveaways and came up with our gift guide.  It’s so big we’ve broken it into three parts rolling out today, Monday and Wednesday.  So hop on over to the KidzVuz.com parent blog and start making your list and entering our giveaways so you can be the gift giving champion of the season!

 

The 5 Scariest Things About Being a Mom

In honor of Halloween and all the horrors that await I thought I’d throw in some scary truths about being a mom – on Halloween and beyond..

  1. Your child is the same person they were at two weeks old.  And there’s nothing you can do about it.
  2. Your child will roll their eyes at you one day, and you will know they are right: you are embarrassing.
  3. You can’t protect them forever or everywhere, but you will never stop trying – your gray hair and worry lines will be your reward.
  4. By the time you figure out what you’re doing your child will move on to a new terrifying phase.
  5. And…No matter what you accomplish people will judge you by how your children turn out.  Or at least all the other moms of the world will.

Feel free to add your scary mom truism in the comments!