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Friday, July 24, 2015

Philips Avent NEW Toddler Cups Giveaway

My boys recently tested out Philips Avent's four-stage toddler range – featuring everything from bottle trainers to grown-up cups. Each of the four unique stages features a variety of drinking options and teach a new skill as children embark on their journey to independent drinking.

Previously, we've been using Avent's My Penguin Sippy Cups that provide 100% leak-free drinking, but we're now ready for the My Twist 'n Sip Straw Cups and Philips Avent My Natural Drinking Cups.

My boys took to the straw cup easily, but are still mastering the natural drinking cup without turning it upside down. I especially like that unlike the previous straw cups that I was using, the Philips Avent cup has a locking system that bends the soft silicone straw back into the cap for on-the-go and preventing leaks. Right now the Twist N Sip Straw Cup is available now Online or at Walmart for $8.99 for a 2-pack.

To help parents discover which might be the best fit for their toddler, Philips teamed up with Scholastic to create “Sip, Sip, Hooray,” a story of several toddler friends and a mischievous Mama “Sippopotomus” who’s hunting for the perfect sippy cup for Baby “Sippo.” You can read the story digitally here. The last few nights, my boys have had me read it to them. They get excited when they spot the sippy cups that they are using in the illustrations.

Enter below to win the full Philips Avent toddler cup range as well as a hard copy of the book “Sip, Sip, Hooray.” Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Important Safety 1st Back to School Car Seat Tips

Having twins naturally means having two car seats, but now that the boys are about to start pre-school we now need four car seats!! Two for my husband's car when he drops them off in the morning and two for my car when I go to pick them up at the end of the day.

So, when we set out to get two more seats this summer, it was important to have ones that would grow with our growing boys, so that we wouldn't have to buy two more car seats in another year either. Luckily, Safety 1st just launched their Grow and Go 3-in-1 convertible car seat. Its rear and forward facing from 5-100 pounds!

The Grow and Go claims to be the first and last car seat parents and caregivers will need, making it simple to keep your little one safe in the backseat. In addition, the seat features side impact protection, a no rethread harness, buckle holders, two cup holders and an easily removable and machine washable seat cover (so important now that we're potty training too). The Grow and Go is exclusively available for $169.99 at Babies ‘R’ Us, but it's on sale for $149 online right now.

With children going back-to-school or starting school for the first time like ours, here are important back-to-school car seat safety tips from Safety 1st. It definitely got us thinking about toys/projectiles in our car!

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 75% of car seats on the road are installed incorrectly.
• The safest place to install a car seat is typically in the center of the rear seat.
• The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
• Check in with a local Child Passenger Safety Technician to ensure your child’s seat is installed correctly. You can visit a local police station, fire station, AAA office or Safe Kids Chapter for guidance.

Where is Baby?
• It may seem like common sense but never, leave a child alone in the car. Hyperthermia is a severe form of heat stroke and last year 30 children died after being left or trapped in a hot vehicle. Being in Florida, it has me especially concerned.  You can learn more about this issue and easy tips to prevent it here.

Safeguard the Car 
• Just as important as safe guarding your home, don’t forget about the car. Especially on long road trips. It’s important to eliminate projectiles, anything in the car that is not secured is a possible projectile. That could be a child’s toy, wet nap container, or a water bottle. In a crash, objects take on greater weight due to crash forces.
• Make sure unused shoulder belts are not in reach of children as they can pose strangulation risk.

Car Seats Expire 
• Car seats expire. Especially if you get a hand-me-down car seat you should always check the expiration date to confirm the seat is safe for your child. You can find the expiration date on the back or the side of the car seat. Also, another very important tip - once a car seat has been in a crash you should not use it, plastic can warp and materials can fray. To properly dispose of a car seat check with your local waste management facility to see if they recycle number 5 plastic.

Disclaimer: Tips were provided by Safety 1st along with one car seat to facilitate this review. No further compensation was provided and all opinions are of course my own.
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Friday, July 17, 2015

Ant-Man Screening with Paul Rudd

While back in New York City this week, I attended an advanced screening of Marvel’s ANT-MAN hosted by the adorable Paul Rudd.

Not being familiar with the tiny super hero or the comics series, I wasn't planning on running to the theater's to see Ant-Man. HOWEVER, I was beyond pleasantly surprised to have enjoyed it a LOT.

Being a fan of The Avengers films, I was also delighted to discover that it connects to the series as well. I really loved that tie-in and knowing that Paul Rudd/AntMan will be back in future Avengers' films!

If you're not familiar with the story either, here's the plot: The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man.” Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Evangeline Lilly (Lost) also stars as Pym's daughter Hope, who is a tough chick who begrudgingly helps to train Scott in karate. Besides the amazing special effects that it took to shrink the character and enlarge the rest of the world, I was also impressed with how they made Michael Douglas look like his 1987 self in the beginning of the film. It was like watching him again in Wall Street.

Overall, I thought Ant-Man was a fun adventure and Paul Rudd of course was charming in his role and in person when he addressed the audience of moms beforehand. You can watch part of the quick video interview below where he talks about joining the Marvel universe:

ANT-MAN opens in theaters everywhere Today, July 17th!
Watching Ant-Man with my cousin
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Shaving Cream and Cars - Summer Toddler Activity

While working on a round-up of Kids Summer Projects for, I came across a fun sensory activity - Shaving Cream Car Wash and thought I'd give it a try the other day with my toddler boys!

My kids had sooo much fun, I felt like a super mom and it was such a simple project. However, I've listed some tips and lessons learned from my first attempt.

Tips & Lessons Learned:
  • Put on swim clothes or wear as little as possible. I wish we did this at the start, but I wised up and just let my boys be in their diapers, which allowed them the fun of painting their bellies with shaving cream too. I also ended up changing into my bathing suit, because I was soon covered in cream as well. Oh, and be prepared for everyone to jump in the shower, tub or get hosed off after. As you can see below, my boys had it in their hair and everywhere.
  • Buy two cans of shaving cream. We used up one full can in a half hour and my boys kept asking for "more bubbles," but I didn't have a second can handy. Also, be sure and buy foaming shaving cream and not the gel kind. I purchased the cheapest one I could find. 
  • I purchased a box of used match box cars on eBay not only for this project, but it seems we can never have enough Hot Wheels to satisfy them.
  • Find a shady spot as they will not want to go in anytime soon. 
  • Have a clean wet towel ready to wipe any cream from their eyes. 

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Real Wedding: River Vale, NJ

My friends Laura & Josh tied the knot earlier this month in River Vale, New Jersey at The Estate at Florentine Gardens for a beautiful outdoor ceremony and indoor reception.

I was really impressed with how the couple brought in the latest technology & social media to add to their celebration and to better connect everyone.

Guests were given the custom hashtag #ChasingLaura (the groom's last name is Chaise, so how cute is that?) for any photos uploaded to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. We were also given a code to use a free wedding app called WedPics, which allowed everyone to post their mobile pics directly to a group album to view, share and download instantly.

The Knot recently listed the Top 10 Trends in Weddings for 2015 and among which was embracing tech like selfie sticks. Remember years ago, people would put those disposable cameras on the table? Now, brides and grooms should consider adding a Selfie Stick to encourage  candid pics that a wedding photographer wouldn't take. I thought I'd test this idea out and brought with me a Selfie Stick from The Click Stick, which allowed for some fun dance floor pics and large group shots. Sure, I looked a little weird having it around, but I had a blast. The cool thing about this selfie stick is that no batteries nor a Bluetooth connection are needed. It also has a button on the stick itself to snap the final photo. Since I'm petite, it also gave me additional height to snap the perfect pic. I also made this fun video using video that I captured via the stick.

Here are some other real wedding touches that the couple used:

Gotta love a LOVE ice sculpture 

 Peonies make such a bold and fragrant bouquet addition, perfect for a spring wedding 
You can't leave out matching flowers on the cake either

Or colorful rose petals strewn along both sides of the aisle during the ceremony 

 I thought their chuppah was romantic and unique too 

Bold centerpieces  

Oh, and the mint ruffle dress that I wore, I found via this pin on Pinterest! 

As if the beautiful cake wasn't enough, this dessert trio was provided as well and yes, that is an edible chocolate spoon!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

INSIDE OUT Sneak Peek #DisneySMMC

At the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, we had the awesome opportunity to see an advanced screening of Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out, well at least the first 3/4 of it. Even without seeing the whole thing though, I already fell in love with it. Yes, all of Pixar's films are magical, but this had the charm and sweet sentiment of Up. It was simply adorable, go see it and you'll know what I mean!

The film delves into the little voices inside people's heads, in particular, an 11-year-old girl named Riley. When Riley's family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind—taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge of the teenager's emotions.

During the conference, we also had the privilege of hearing from the film's producer Jonas Rivera, who said the story "is a parents love letter to their kids."

Rivera also shared the backstory on the film with inspiration coming from director Pete Docter watching his own daughter go through this turbulent part of growing up. He explained how she was always so happy when visiting their offices, but then when she became a teenager, the happy child all of a sudden was sullen and had her headphones on. Her father then remarked, 'I wonder what is going on in her head' and that's where the idea for the film came to be. However, what they then imagined is just brilliant. I mean, only the folks at Pixar could come up with such a lovely idea.

Inside Out producer Jonas Rivera at #DisneySMMC Photo by Disney - Preston Mack

Plus, the five characters/emotions are so perfectly casted with comedian Lewis Black voicing the role of Anger; Amy Poehler as the infectiously optimistic Joy; Bill Hader is funny as the paranoid Fear; Mindy Kaling is supreme as Disgust; and my favorite, Phyllis Smith as Sadness (not my favorite emotion in myself, but my fave of the characters. She's like a lovable Eeyore).

Meanwhile, the opening animated short Lava was also incredible. It actually made me cry. My husband keeps playing the abbreviated version of the ukulele song featured in the short on YouTube. I can't wait until we can buy the whole song.

Disney•Pixar's Inside Out and Lava opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, June 19, 2015.
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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On the set of TV's Graceland

I love going on set visits and seeing how the magic happens.

Last month, I was once again on the set of Graceland, USA Network's action-thriller, to interview the cast regarding what's to come this upcoming season. Since they film over in Fort Lauderdale, it was an easy trip.

Season 3 meanwhile, premiers Thursday, June 25, but if you haven't watched this addictive show yet, you can now binge watch on Netflix streaming!

A couple of reporters and I did round-table interviews with the cast in an office space near the sound-stages and after which we did some group shots with the cast.

Here we are with Brooklyn actress, Vanessa Ferlito (CSI: NY, 24, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps).
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
With Brandon Jay McLaren who you might also recognize from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and She's the Man.
Photo by: Jeff Daly/USA Network
Posing with Serinda Swan (Chicago Fire & Tron: Legacy) and the gorgeous Daniel Sunjata (Grey's Anatomy, Rescue Me and Ranger in One for the Money)

We also went on a tour of the set, which is based on a real house in Malibu, California. It's amazing how much it looks and feels like a real house when you're inside it. Even the fake water backdrops seem real when looking out the windows.

I especially loved the artwork in the home, like this beach girl painting and wooden surfboard:

More pics from our set visit can be found in my Google+ photo album and be sure and read my complete Season 3 Sneak Peek with light spoilers now live on The Huffington Post.

Also, check out photos from last year's set visit experience, which included a visit to the props trailer and a tour from actor Manny Montana

Oh, and my cute dress was a selection from a recent StitchFix delivery! :)
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Thursday, May 28, 2015

You don't know who Bette Midler is??

For my birthday back in December, my hubbie suprised me with Bette Midler tickets for her May concert in Tampa. Not just any tickets though, but FRONT ROW seats! I was beyond stoked.

However, in the weeks leading up to the show, I was shocked to discover that several twenty-somethings that I met didn't even know who Bette Midler is. *SMH* I can maybe, but not really understand, that they might not know her music, but what about her films? These 23-year-old girls didn't even know Hocus Pocus, never mind all her other clasic comedies and dramas, argh!

Having grown up watching her films, I can't think of a time when I didn't know who Bette was. I also saw her in concert when I was 11 and the power of her voice gave me goose bumps and brought tears to my eyes, especially when she sang From A Distance. From there on out I was a Bette fan. In high school I had her keychain on my key ring while my friends were all about NSYNC. Yeah, I never claimed to have been the coolest kid.

Bette is now 69-years-old and still puts on a great show and I really enjoy her wise cracks throughout. Being in the front row was definitely unreal and her voice still had the power to give me chills and make me cry. I was also delighted to see her come out in full Hocus Pocus costume and sing "I put a spell on you," watch bootlegged clip here.

Bette Film Fest

If you know of any other clueless folks out there or simply want to introduce your family to The Divine Ms. M, below is my reccomended film picks.

The Comedies:
  • Ruthless People
  • Outrageous Fortune
  • First Wives Club
  • Big Business
The Tearjerkers:
  • Beaches
  • For the Boys
  • Stella

Bette Midler Triva

Also, here are a few trivia questions that I quizzed my husband and a fan that we met before the show with. How many did you get right? 
  1. What TV mom was once one of Bette's back-up singers?
  2. What famous male singer was once her piano player?
  3. Where was Bette born? 
  4. She was nominated twice for Best Actress Academy Awards, what were the two films?
Answers: 1. Katey Sagal from Married with Children 2. Barry Manilow, 3. Honolulu, Hawaii, 4. The Rose and For the Boys, but sadly no wins :(

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