Monday, July 28, 2014

Parent Bloggers Work Hard & Play Harder at Blogger Bash! A Few Tips & Highlights From my First Blogger Conference #bbnyc #sweetsuite14




When I spotted a posting in my Instagram feed offering a chance to win a ticket to this years Blogger Bash by submitting a 15 second video, I said to myself "What the heck, I'll give it a shot. I'm on a budget, I'll get my two monsters involved and have some fun with it." To no surprise Blogger Jennifer S. was announced as the first winner because her video and need to escape the kids was easy to relate to & beyond hysterical. It took the boys and I about 4 attempts in about 20 fun-filled minutes to make our silly video and we were really friggin' excited when our video was chosen. Obviously me way more then them because I was going to get the chance to play with toys not even released yet, forge relationships with brands my family love and to mingle with bloggers I'd been following from behind the screen for a few years now.

Although I've been blogging for almost 3 years this summer, I still consider myself a newbie to the world of "mommy" blogging as I gradually learn the ins and outs of transitioning from blogging as a hobby about our life in NYC, to blogging to establish a community, network, make brand connections and potential income.  And from the looks of it, the possibilities and opportunities seem endless if your willing to create a blog that's authentic, has a unique voice and is creative. Luckily, I've been fortunate enough to meet a lot of NYC mom bloggers through Instagram and at events who have been really sweet and helpful and it has truly been an amazing experience filled with priceless moments that neither my family, friends or I will ever forget.

 So What is Blogger Bash NYC?

When brands like Fisher Price, Disney and Activision are in need of getting the word out about their latest and greatest products they know to turn to parent bloggers who have a digital presence and who's opinions are trusted by their vast followers. The amazing ladies who dreamed up and orchestrated this well thought out conference {Joey Fortman, Charlene Deloach & Laurie Schacht}  figured why not create an experience where bloggers could Make an Impression & grow professionally by providing them face-time with both well-known and up and coming brands through speed dating with their representatives/round table forums, events and parties.

Sounds fun right? Well it really freaking was! Leading up to the event all of the registered attendees followed Blogger Bash on Facebook where we waited to hear the latest buzz on guest speakers, contests and more! That Facebook wall itself had turned into a community allowing for people to search for roommates and travel buddies and for newbies to ask questions and gain insight from more experienced bloggers. There were even posts that shared tips on everything from what to wear to how to stay organized. I thought I'd share a few of these tips [in no particular order of importance] with you real quick because I feel that they can be applied to numerous conferences:

  1. You've brought your ticket, make sure you have your confirmations for everything, especially if you are traveling out of town. Having printed copies wouldn't hurt either, even in this age of technology.
  2. Dress comfortably! Of course you need to make a good impression, but I'd say going business casual is always a safe bet, especially if you are going to be playing with awesome toys!
  3. Make sure you know all of the hashtags being used during the event and even have them saved on your phone so you can just copy and paste.
  4. Think about how to keep track of your business cards. Lots of brands use the same pr company and their representatives don't always have business cards that say the name of the specific product you may be interested in so write the name of the product on the card so that you know why you want to stay in touch, separate cards based on what portion of the conference you met them at. Someone suggested labeling envelops and placing cards in each one. It was also recommended that while making connections that you keep business cards in the lanyard with your name badge if applicable.
  5. Make sure you remember your own business cards, I overheard a few Pr reps and guests saying that they had forgotten theirs.  Don't just give them to the companies but to other bloggers/ guests you'd like to keep in touch with or collaborate on a project with. If you ordered new business cards, use your old business cards {if the contact information is the same} for any raffles. And make sure your cards are easily accessible, don't waste time digging through your bag.
  6. Make sure you do your research on guest speakers, products etc and write down any questions you may have for brands you are really interested in working with. And it's totally fine to not have a clue about a product, because if you have great conversation and seem genuinely interested , it's all good.
  7. Lastly, just be fabulous you and have a good time! You have hundreds and probably even thousands of readers & social media followers for a reason. Show those companies why they need YOU to do their sponsored reviews and to be apart of their ambassador programs. Yes you are there to learn and network, but every now and then put down the phones, stop tweeting & texting and live in the moment with the people you have just met IRL {In real life} and truly connect.
OK, enough of the serious stuff.. Here's a few pics I had from the event and I know I missed tons of stuff but it's OK because the amazingly talented Janice Croze of 5 minutes for Mom captured some beautiful pictures that I can assure will have you excited for next years Blogger Bash, take a look at them here.

Sweet Suite & Stella Angry Birds After Party

During Sweet Suite guests got to ask brand experts lots of questions & channel their inner kids by indulging in sweets {think chocolate covered Oreos and Lemon Head martinis} while trying out the latest in video games, crafts & toys that will be on every child's holiday wishlist this year from brands like Activision, Fisher Price, VTech, Playmates Toys, Just Play, Disney Infinity, Crayola and USAopoly. Check out this fun Instagram video of me playing with the Kurio Tablet.
 




Once Sweet Suite was wrapped up, the Angry Birds Stella after party kicked off where guests learned all about this sassy lady's new game. After a few signature drinks and delish cookies we were able to let loose on the dance floor {cha-cha slides and all} until 11pm.
  
Lego Batman 3 Preview & Bat-Tastic Breakfast




While noshing on Batman themed fare to get energized, bloggers kicked of day 2 by previewing the latest installment in the Lego Batman series and were able to take home an exclusive T-shirt. After breakfast and challenging friends in some Gotham city, gaming mayhem there was lots still on the agenda. During the media panel we sat in on a discussion between influential female experts in the industry: Ciaran Blumfeld of Hashtracking & Momfluential, Deborah Mitchell of Deborah Mitchell Media and Associates, Samantha Meiler of Nick Mom and Samantha Murphy Kelly of Mashable who all delivered advise on everything from personalizing hashtags to segueing into television and being authentic.

The day continued with speed dating with various brands where we were able to engage in conversation a bit longer at a table of 4 or 5 other bloggers depending on the flow. I liked this aspect of the conference because it gave you a chance to further interact with a brand you thought aligned well with your blog after meeting with them and demoing products the day before. Another great aspect that I somehow missed seeing was the Bloganthropy awards which celebrated bloggers who positively impact their communities. 

During Mommy Tech guests were able to check out the latest in wearable technology and more throughout the day and we grooved to playlists created by our fellow bloggers who were hoping to win a set of amazing Korus speakers.

Johnny Rockets National Milk Shake Day Lunch, Baby Palooza w/ Photographer Anne Geddes & Kidzvuz Back to School Party with WWE Supers Stars Natalya & Darren Young



Our Johnny Rockets lunch was centered around National Milk Shake Day and I can surely say from the looks around me, everyone was thrilled to cool off with their own special creations. We also got to witness some amazing art made solely out of ketchup and you can watch a clip of the finishing touches on a ketchup made Statue of Liberty.



As a huge fan of baby photographer Anne Geddes in high school, I knew I couldn't miss her talk on how to take great family photos during the 2nd annual Baby Palooza. A few tips were:
  1. When taking photos, give the picture some actual thought & keep your backgrounds simple. 
  2.  Take photos of babies earlier in the day when they have the best temperament and get down to the child's level. 
  3.  Make sure to include yourself in the photos! 
There were some huge fans present and a line that wrapped around the entire room of sentimental mamas waiting for an autographed copy of her book Little Blessings, I heard a few ladies even cried. Make sure you run out and get a copy of her latest gorgeous work entitled Under the Sea which will probably be my favorite because I love seahorses and turtles and we were all lucky enough to get first looks at the images which made me really miss those tiny baby toes and button noses.


Chicken Soup for the Soul was on hand not only with their fantastic books but to demo how to make easy one pot/ pan dishes that had incredible flavor using their new broths, soup toppers, salsas and sauces combined with simple ingredients. I was convinced that even I, the 5 recipe mama could add some new yummy dishes to my repertoire, that the kids would love and that the hubby would be glad he didn't have to prepare...lol

During the EA Social events suite, parent bloggers ate cake to celebrate Smokey the Bears 70th birthday, chose vibrant and fun color-licious lipgloss for a makeover with Covergirl, were spoiled with manicures, tried on gorgeous Joseph Nogucci jewelry,  played with bouncy Wubble Balls and stirred Alex's Lemonade to raise funds for children with cancer.

 


 If you have kids and haven't checked out KidzVuz yet, what are you waiting for? It's a pretty awesome site where kids can post their own video reviews, with consent from a parent or guardian of their favorite toys and games. I wish I could say I had more photos of the KidzVuz Back-To-School party, but CJ and I had so much fun and my battery was on 2% by the time he finished meeting WWE Diva,  Natalya & Superstar Darren Young. CJ was over the moon that he got to take pictures with them both and when he asked Darren if he'd sing the words to the Prime Time Players theme song and Darren said yes and grabbed him to dance, I thought he'd nearly pass out from disbelief. 

After playing WWE 2k14 with his friends for nearly 20 minutes or so we checked out some back to school first day faves from Lands End. Of course he insisted on the button down shirt and blazer look and was really excited when he got a pretty cool new black and red Lands End backpack, because he's so beyond character themed backpacks heading into the 4th grade. One other highlight was of CJ and I taking a really fun Guardians of the Galaxy photo, where we are in a line up with some of the characters. The photo has now made it to our superhero fridge collection of pictures alongside Spider-man and Captain America.


CJ was also really proud of himself for winning a few back to school supplies for him and his brother from School Specialty which also allowed for them to donate supplies to child in need on his behalf.

The excitement didn't end at the KidzVuz Party though, the next morning CJ received a tweet from Natalya and he was in shock the entire day and kept saying he couldn't wait for school to start again to tell his friends she was following us on Twitter.



To say I had a good time, is an understatement. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go to such an an amazing event, thank you Blogger Bash team for setting the bar so high for my next conference. I don't think any of us that attended can imagine the sweat and tears that went into planning all of this, but it was definitely successful. When it was all over I had a bruised shoulder, sore feet and binged on candy for a day or two but I wouldn't have it any other way! I would recommend Blogger Bash to anyone looking for a conference where they can learn a lot from the movers and shakers in the industry while working hard & playing harder!






























































































































Monday, July 21, 2014

High Flying Fun at the Planes: Fire and Rescue Screening #Planes2Mamarrazi #Lilmonstersapproved

*Disclousure: My family and I were invited as guests, the opinions expressed are 100% our own and we received a goodie bag for attendance. No other compensation was given.





Who wouldn't love spending fun, quality time with their family while viewing the latest kid friendly action-packed animation from Disney? Add seeing an interview between mom of 3 boys (including twins), actress Julie Bowen who plays Claire Dunphy on the hilarious ABC sitcom Modern Family and the media mom mavens Denise Albert & Melissa Musen Gerstein of The Moms, some awesome local NYC parent bloggers and their families & your afternoon is sure to be nothing but good times!

Last week my two monsters headed to the Elinor Bunim Monroe Film Center with my hubby and brother to check out the newest, beautifully animated Disney sequel Planes: Fire and Rescue that was released this past Friday, July 18th in theaters. When my family arrived they were excited to see their friends, took a few photos & enjoyed tasty hot dogs from Wind Mill Hot Dogs and sweet cupcakes from Baked by Melissa before sitting in on an intimate chat between The Moms and Julie Bowen. In the recording my hubby did for me, I loved listening to Julie Bowen when she realized not only was she an animated character but that she was also now a vitamin and excitedly told The Moms and guests "If I am a plane and a vitamin, I've made it! Who needs awards, who needs Emmy's!"



Courtesy of The Moms

Courtesy of The Moms

Courtesy of The Moms

 
courtesy of The Moms


Courtesy of The Moms {My boys receiving their goodie bags}

Kids who attended the screening were sent home with a goody bag filled with an assortment of delicious multi-vitamin gummies from NatureSmart LLC, including a pretty awesome Planes version:


 
·         Unique Planes-shaped Gummies in 3 fantastic flavors – grape, orange and cherry.
 
·         Provides over 10 essential vitamins and minerals for your child's healthy growth and development,* including Vitamin A for eye health, B Vitamins for energy metabolism and Vitamins C&D to support immune function.* 


·         For adults and children 4 years and older, chew two (2) gummies daily. For children 2-3 years of age, chew one (1) gummy daily. 
·         Free of milk or milk derivatives.
NatureSmart is the brand behind a number of popular ©DISNEY, ©MARVEL, ©DISNEY/PIXAR - licensed vitamin gummies for children. They are sure to please parents who want to supplement their child’s healthy routine, and delight any Disney or Marvel fan. Make sure you head to naturesmartvitamins.com  
to sign up and receive free samples.

 *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. ©Disney, Manufactured by NatureSmart, LLC.




 My 3 year old Tristan {excuse his bedhead} is already a huge fan of gummy vitamins and always asks first thing in the morning for one for him and his brother CJ. I'm so glad they have a child proof lid because he'd raid them whenever he got the chance because they taste so good. The boys wasted no time and despite us having a bottle opened up at home, they insisted that we open one up while staying with their grandparents because these NatureSmart vitamins were way cooler, with fun character shapes and tasted great! They've already decided they were going to open the bottle with Perry the Platypus on the front next. As a gown-up who really despises taking vitamins in pill form, I admit I enjoyed the NatureSmart gummy vitamins too!

   Movie Plot & Review:

In the new Planes Fire and Rescue film the main character Dusty who's a famous aerial racer, discovers that his engine is damaged which means he may never be able to race again. The movie teaches that there are always second chances when viewers see Dusty join a team of high flying, firefighting aircrafts including Dipper (played by Julie Bowen) a spirited super scooper, who are responsible for protecting Piston Peak National Park from a dangerous and destructive wildfire. Dusty's adventure teaches a valuable lesson on what it means to be a hero and that "When others fly out, hero's fly in." My 9 yr. old CJ thought "This one was really good and funny too, especially the character Cad Spinner. I liked the new one better than the first one. Kids going to see it will be way more excited watching this one."


  

We totally recommend you go out and see Planes Fire and Rescue and head to a neighborhood retailer like Price Chopper, Kroger, Target, Walgreens & Duane Read for NatureSmart Vitamins because they are #Lilmonstersapproved!



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lil' Monsters in NYC: Grand Opening of Teich Toys & Books




*Disclosure: The opinions expressed are 100% my own, we were invited to the grand opening but there was no compensation for this review.

Every now and then New York City can surprise you with a new shopping experience that's inviting and relaxing, in a space where you'll discover hidden gems so good you'd want to keep them a secret from your friends. I for one am always on the look out for shops that allow me to look for unique gifts without all the hustle and bustle of being in some of the larger department stores with lil' monsters in tow.

Last month my boys and I headed to the new Teich Toys and Book store  that just so happens to be across the street from Bleeker Playground, which made for a fun way to wrap up our enjoyable afternoon. The grand opening was on a perfectly, sunny Saturday in the West Village and the vintage circus themed celebration included a talented juggler, bubbles and awesome circus Tattly tattoos. As soon as you step foot in the door, you can't help but want to take a seat and a few cute pictures in front of the larger than life toy train that kids will really love to play in.






 




The store is perfect for kids of all ages & filled with everything from old school childhood favorites like the slinky and Chinese checkers to new, engaging products from brands that are trusted and loved, like Crayola and Green Toys. And if you're someone who's looking to give a gift that doesn't focus on the latest technology or feature bright lights and overbearing sounds you'll be really impressed with Teich's selection of toys for imaginative play, books, games, crafts and Eco-friendly goodies.

CJ and Tristan were complimented on how extremely well behaved they were by Allison, who is a mommy to an adorable 3 year old and owns both Teich Designs and Teich Toys and Books with her husband JJ McGowan. My boys refrained from running around the space while exploring, mostly because I know they were banking on the possibility of me buying them each something cool.










 
There were so many great choices that caught our eyes and the boys had such a hard time making a decision because there was something that catered to several of their interests. They both agreed to join forces to pick out a larger item and went along with the Green Toys Pizza Parlor. Excited doesn't begin to describe how they felt about their purchase, so much so that they wanted to skip the park and meeting their dad for lunch all together just to go home and play.





You honestly can't go wrong with any item you decide to bring home or give as a gift but the monsters and I decided to share a few of our stand-out favorites that are featured at the top of the page.

  • What kid wouldn't love fun circus themed Tattly tattoos starring a ringmaster, circus monkeys, a strong man and more? A few of the grownups were seen sporting them throughout the store.
    • Pretend play with a wooden cash register is a great way for kids to imagine they are ringing up their own toy sales.
    • The Crumpled NYC Map was by far a favorite amongst visitors I overheard admiring all the iconic city details featured for kids and families. 
    • Mix and match shapes to create your own fun or scary creature combinations with monster blocks . 
    • Kids will have hours of fun pretending to be chefs by making their own yummy creations with the Green Toys Pizza Parlor set (our household favorite).
    • Test how good your memory is while you learn more about the city that never sleeps, from it's buildings, bridges, venues and more while playing New York City Memory Challenge  .

    Be sure to stop by the new store location to enjoy story-time, puppet shows and other fun activities! 

    Teich Toys and Books

    573 Hudson Street (at west 11th street)
    Mon - Sat 10am -7pm and Sundays 10am - 6pm
    212-924-2232








    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

    Elated with Etsy: 9 Faves of Random Goodness


    This week I thought rather than sharing a fabulous shop or a curated theme of favorite Etsy items, I'd give you guys a dose of the random goodness that showcase the talented businesses on the site.  I apologize in advance if you proceed to grab your wallet.


    Pom Poms and raindrop garland are sweet for a babyshower or to decorate your lil' monsters nursery.

    Gift your latest travel finds in this historic maps wrapping paper and have the receiver in wanderlust.

    A graphic print headband is perfect for those hot & humid city days, making it a necessity.

    Every pie & cookie lover will agree that this quote cake stencil is on point.

    A Winterfell candle will have you picturing yourself warm by a fire set in a Game of Thrones scene. 

    Because your space requires Good Vibes Only, hang this simple yet beautiful reminder.

    Head to the beach and rock the fruit trend in this retro swimsuit.

    Great your guests with a fun + comfy, geometric print Hello pillow.

    Herb sticker decals will help you showcase your in house spices by labeling the pot they sprout in. 



    Which of these goodies has caught your eye?



    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Must Haves for Lil' Monsters: Make Bubble Blowing Easier with Fubbles Bubble Puppy + #Giveaway



    *Disclosure: The opinions expressed are 100% my own, we were given the product to review and no other compensation was given.

    Summer is officially here, which means my boys and I are excited about the longer days of warm weather fun ahead of us. One of our favorite things to do has always been to blow bubbles, whether it's outside in the yard, or playground or indoors while taking a bubble bath. We have had every kind of bubble maker imaginable and no matter the type, my 3 yr. old Tristan would always pull out the bubble wand, puff out his cheeks as far as he could + blew, only to see a bubble or two float off and solution trickle down to the ground. You'd either see Tristan trying  to pucker his lips to blow so close to the wand, he was basically licking the solution off or he'd be pouting somewhere in a corner because he was frustrated and wanted to prove he could do it all o his own, like his big brother.

    A few months ago I attended the Time To Play Magazine Toy preview and found some adorably, fun and affordable toy products from Little Kids Inc. One of my favorites by far was the Fubbles Bubble Puppy which is part of Little Kids Inc's new EZ 2 DO bubble line. What differentiates itself from many of the other bubble making products we've seen, is that the wand is this really cute looking puppy character, who's head is a conically designed mouthpiece to help lil' monsters like mine master bubble blowing by guiding kids to use the wider end of the wand. This design is perfect for bubble blowing newbies ages 2+ because the air blown is funneled directly through the wand, and your little ones mouth never touches the solution.

    Tristan was super excited to try it out and so right after I poured the solution (which comes in a bottle that resembles a can of dog food) into the doggie bowl, he was all set to dip in the wand and start blowing. Naturally, because he was so used to trying so hard while using other wands he had puffed out his cheeks really big, and blew so hard. When I showed him how to blow softer he got the hang of it right away and was able to do it all on his own and I wasn't worried about him drinking the solution.






    Tristan was really proud of himself for being able to blow bubbles like a big boy with the Fubbles Bubble Puppy. At one point he turned to me and said "See mommy I don't need CJ's help, I can do it, watch me!" It was awesome to see him accomplish creating bubbles all on his own, he was so confident.
    After a few rounds of blowing bubbles by himself, Tristan Riley decided it was time to let his big brother join in on the fun, and was really impressed with CJ's bubble blowing skills.





    As a special treat to our Dellah's Jubilation readers, my lil' monsters and I are hosting a giveaway for 1 lucky reader to win an EZ 2 DO Fubbles Bubble Puppy for lots of bubble making fun. All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter below by answering the blog post question in the comment box and feel free to gain more entries by completing other Rafflecopter tasks. Good Luck!





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