Friday, July 10, 2015

They're Back! The Minions Have Returned to the Big Screen #Minions

Those Twinkie resembling, gibberish speaking, comical and mischievous Minions have cracked us up in Descpicable Me 1 and 2 and now those laughter-inducing little guys have their own film that's sure to be enjoyed by kids of all ages.

 If you aren't aware of Minion Mania you must be living under a rock or possibly back in prehistoric time because they are taking over the world as we know it! My lil'  monsters and I couldn't wait to screen the movie earlier this month in anticipation of finding out how the Minions came to be.

This July, go back to where it all began. #Minions is in theaters in RealD & IMAX 7/10
The story of Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions begins at the dawn of time.  Starting as single-celled yellow organisms, Minions evolve through the ages, eagerly hoping to serve the most despicable of masters. After many unsuccessful attempts at keeping these masters—from T. rex to Napoleon—the Minions find themselves without someone to serve and fall into a deep depression.

 But one Minion named Kevin has a plan, and he—alongside teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob—ventures out into the world to find a new evil boss for his Minion brothers to follow.

The trio embark on and adventurous journey that ultimately leads them to their next potential master, Scarlet Overkill (Academy Award®winner Sandra Bullock), the world’s first-ever female super-villain. 

They travel from frigid Antarctica to 1960s New York City, ending in mod London, where they must face their biggest challenge to date: saving all of Minionkind...from annihilation.


Starring: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney & Steve Coogan
Directed by: Pierre Coffin & Kyle Balda
Rated PG

Get Social with the #Minions

Like ‘MINIONS’ on Facebook
Visit the Official Site

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Grand Fiesta Americana Launching of the New $ 2M EduTainment Providing Coral KidZ Club

We aren't avid travelers yet but we hope to get bitten by the travel bug sooner than later now that my Crohns disease flareups have subsided a great deal this year.Of course we daydream of where our next family destination will be and ultimately it will have to be kid friendly. We know first hand as parents to a 10 year old that appealing to Generation Z is not easily accomplished because kids today are so easily consumed by the abundance of apps that take them on adventures without the need to ever have to leave their cushy sofa or to move away from a screen. With that in mind, where do you go as parents to escape to paradise and that has fun "Edutainment" for kids?

We recently headed to the Sony Wonder Technology Lab in NYC to learn all about The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun opening it's doors to its newest family member, the $2 million, 40,000 sq ft state-of the-art ‘Coral KidZ Club.

Designed for children ages of 3 to 12 or ‘Gen Z-ers,’ the new Coral KidZ Club will turn up the dial on make-believe and take the playground concept to another level.With the use of cutting edge technology, the club is designed to encourage interaction with other children as well with parents. It would almost seem torturous to our kids if we had them travel without any of their gadgets and gizmos. I honestly would welcome a reprieve for all of us from technology and social media to sit on a sandy beach and take in the calmness..

“We wanted to create the best possible kids club, one that breaks the mold in terms of innovation, and technology. It is why we wanted to work with Launch by Design as they have created some of the world’s most impressive children’s programs,” said Alberto Gurrola, Managing Director of Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun 

Anna Bada Crema is an award winning designer and the founder and president of Launch by Design Inc. Under her vision the company has become a world leader in creating dynamic state of the art spaces for kids entertainment and learning experiences. While chatting with Anna about the new Coral Kidz Club she conveyed to us that everything she does is driven by her passion to inspire children because they are our future. 

From the very moment when they enter the Coral KidZ Club, kids are greeted by bright colors and fun patterns’ that are splashed on the walls along with international greetings which make guests from all around the world feel at home. After checking in, kids can store their personal items inside a cubby and set off to find their age appropriate zone.

Having to figure out how to keep our two boys, who are nearly 6 years apart entertained is no easy feat these days as our oldest, CJ (now age ten) has been spending more of his downtime on the phone with friends and plugged into his tablet and video games. Recently at a local amusement park I ended up allowing CJ to hangout with the thrill-ride chasers closer in age, rather than be miserable with his lil' brother following behind him.

Young guests between the ages of 3-5, will find an area devoted to imagination and learning where toddlers can choose their own path - city, park or jungle. The cityscape features: Mexican-style homes and a fire station with a firehose which can be used to put out a virtual fire; an I-spy wall made up of Latin American iconography; a construction zone; a Mercado and play kitchen. Next door is the Jungle room, a quiet zone deep in the forest where kids can curl up in a nook with a book. As soon as our 4 year old spotted this room on the slideshow, his eyes lit up in excitement as he spotted the monkey (his daddy he calls him monkey) swinging from the vine. Having individualized spaces based on age is such a great detail that makes the experience more personalized for kids of all ages.

Tweens and teens will pass through an awesome illuminated arched portal and are transported to the computer zone & in the futuristic gaming area they will enjoy the latest interactive video games. With the goal of bringing the Mayan culture into the 21st century, Launch by Design commissioned an interactive 30 square foot LED wall with an electronic game that teaches children about the ancient culture through learning, interactive play and fun facts. Kids will love the idea that they can earn rewards from playing these games and can claim their prizes throughout the hotel. 

If your children are little creatives then they will delight in an Open Play Theater which features a stage with a digital backdrop, theatrical curtains, a light-up dance floor and a backstage dressing room complete with costumes, make-up and dressing mirrors. While the Arts and Crafts area is designed for maximum creativity and offers stunning views of the ocean through three large porthole windows.

The Coral KidZ Club extends its fun and sense of discovery to the outside.  Active play is enhanced with innovative NEOS®, the world’s first electronic play system for the playground, that combines both the speed and fun of video games with the lively movement of aerobic exercise.  In the Open Play area kids will also find a basketball hoop and custom race car track for racing their very own remote controlled cars, while traditional Mexican sidewalk games can be found on the ground throughout. A casual outdoor lounge area with rock-shaped furniture is a spot for both children and adults who want to take a moment to relax. 

After mingling and enjoying flavorful Mexican fare and drinks, my hubby and our boys headed back into the theater with a few other kids and dads to play video games. But they missed out on AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT!

Little did they know, that while they were immersed in gaming, after me placing my business card in the raffle bowl at the last minute we were blessed enough to be chosen as 1 of 3 Winners of a 4 day, 3 night stay at The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Resort and our prize includes our meals for the duration of stay. Isn't that amazing? We are so thankful for such a beautiful opportunity to share with the lil' monsters. I was dang near in tears, CJ couldn't stop cheeseball smiling while the hubby profusely said Thank You! We already agreed to unplug once we landed and since we haven't been on a trip on our own ever (even during our honeymoon we had family join us) and managed to persevere through a bumpy 2 years due to my Crohns disease, we definitely plan to take advantage of dropping the boys off at the Kids Zone which launches in less than a week! Beyond Exciting!


Make sure to follow The Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach on FacebookInstagram and Twitter & Launch By Design on Facebook // Instagram and Twitter!

We can't say thank you enough to Alberto, Marcusio Anna, Launch By Design and Grand Coral Beach for such a generous opportunity and we can't wait to take you guys, our readers on vacay with us as we share the trip on social media and the blog, so stay tuned! 

*Disclosure: We were invited as media to attend, opinions expressed are 100% my own. No other compensation was received for this post. We entered  raffle to win the trip provided.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Kicking Off Summer Vacation at Cabana Cove Grill's Blog-B-Q at Six Flags Hurricane Harbor

Six Flag's Great Adventure

Can you think of a better way to kick off summer vacation then to spend it splashing around in the water, soaking up the sun and diggin' into some delish food on a Friday afternoon? Summer is meant for fun adventures with family and friends, so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to head to Great Adventure's Hurricane Harbor in Jackson, New Jersey to try their assortment of lunches at the new Cabana Cove Grill for a wonderful Blog-B-Q. Unlike the lil' monsters and I, my hubby had been to Hurricane Harbor in the past and couldn't wait to get the boys in the water after we tried out the menu. 

Despite the cloudy skies, the weather was warm and we knew we were going to enjoy the day with our blogger friends and their families. Hurricane Harbor definitely gives you a laid back, mellow feel in comparison to it's counter part Great Adventures. It was great that we couldn't hear the loud whirling rides in the distance an could just kick back. We were greeted by super friendly Cabana Cove staff that guided us to our private cabanas for the day, which was a really nice experience. They were extremely attentive and offered their assistance often, and offered us refreshing fruit smoothies while we got acclimated.

Have you ever rented a Cabana at an amusement park or resort before? Renting one was new to us but everyone enjoyed t for sure. The kids were so excited, they kept referring to the cabanas as "home" and would run from one to the next to visit each other. Each cabana came furnished with a  a few chairs, table, a fan and a fridge for comfort and convenience.  

Six Flag's Great Adventure

After we all dropped off our belongings we headed for lunch at the outdoor bar and grill  and gathered around tables that overlooked the wave pool. My boys chose the foot-long hotdog and grilled chicken sandwich with chips, while the hubby ordered a Jerk chicken sandwich {he's Jamaican, so any chance he gets to indulge in Jerk-anything he will} and I had the fresh Jerk chicken Caesar salad. 

The food was prepared in front of us, while the cooks chatted with the kids and we were given large red tumblers that allowed us to get refills on drinks throughout the day. The menu has something for everyone and offered generous size portions that left us all happily full. Sometimes it's nice to just "Go" somewhere without worrying about packing lunches for the day like we normally do for our day excursions. The great thing about renting a cabana is that the packages for up to 4 people provide you with food!

 Six Flag's Great Adventure

Six Flag's Great Adventure

Six Flag's Great Adventure

Six Flag's Great Adventure

After chowing down and relaxing, it was time to SPLASH AROUND!

It was nice to watch my boys relax after a very hectic school year and I was so proud of them for being brave enough to jump in the Blue Lagoon wave pool with their daddy and friends. The older kids had the best time because there were way more attractions geared towards them, they had a blast on The Cobra and The Bamboo and Reef Runner and the littlest monsters enjoyed a few spins around the lazy river.

If you're looking for a little escape from the hustle and bustle we'd definitely recommend living it up poolside to enjoy the cabana experience and lunch at their outdoor grill and bar Cabana Cove. Thanks for having us Six Flag's Hurricane Harbor, we had a fantastic time!

Disclosure: We were invited for a media day with complimentary admittance. Opinions expressed are 100% my own and no compensation was received for this post.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Google Maps Code The Road Tour: Celebrating 10 Years & Exploring the Community with Sesame Street

Sesame Street Workshop

If you grew up on or raised a child to watch Sesame street, the infamous, catchy sing-song question "Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?" is oh so familiar. As educational programming that teaches children everything from the alphabet and number recognition to who the people are in your neighborhood, a collaboration between Sesame Street and Google Maps is the perfect way to teach today's children map skills and geographic literacy. With lil' monsters having access to technology and kid-friendly apps at early ages, incorporating essential & engaging skills and tools to help them navigate the real world and everyday experiences is key!

Sesame Street Workshop

To celebrate 10 years of Google Maps API, the 14 stop Code the Road Tour invited media and their kiddies out for an afternoon of fun at Sesame Workshop earlier this month. I took my preschool lil' monster along to cover for my blogger babe Nancy Horn of & met up with my vlogger babe Betsy of and her adorable daughter Z. On the subway ride there I'm not sure who was more excited to visit Sesame Workshop, but I for one was beyond giddy to meet Elmo, Abby Cadabby & Alan.

Sesame Street Workshop

We were greeted by our two favorite monsters, Elmo & Cookie Monster after posing in the trash can beside Oscar the grouch. Because Elmo and I share a birthday [February 3rd] I insisted we take a selfie. Clearly I need to remember to look into the camera, and step up my selfie game like my furry friend.

Sesame Street Workshop 

Sesame Street Workshop

We don't travel out of state often but the boys have a fascination with and collect maps from local NYC sites like Coney Island, The Bronx Zoo, Lincoln Center and the Subway system as they try to figure out how far away different locations are like the monkey house from the bug carousel or guests that visited the workshop were able to test their map skills by using sticker locators to place where family, friends or they themselves lived and put together a large, colorful floor puzzle of the 50 states. 

Sesame Street Workshop

Sesame Street Workshop

Sesame Street Workshop

As a stay at home Mama to Tristan the first 2 years of his little life and a preschool teacher I would always plan out themed lessons like ones on colors, the alphabet and transportation. So imagine how cool it was to hear Abby, Elmo and Alan sing our fave Sesame Street songs like " Going for a Ride", "Are we There Yet" and "Let's Go Driving" while incorporating essential map skills like counting our steps to measure distance.

Sesame Street Workshop

Sesame Street Workshop

Sesame Street Workshop

Sesame Street Workshop

Sesame Street Workshop

As they made their way from state to state, highlights of the Code the Road Tour were visitors testing out android navigation systems, and demonstrations of interactive technlogies from Walt Disney World, iFit, The Weather Channel and more! Check out the video below on how the tour kicked off in San Francisco and make sure to pop by the site for other video on how Google Maps celebrated 10 years. 


Disclosure: Opinions expressed are 100% my own and as guests we received a gift bag no other compensation was received. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

10 Tips on How to Power Through the Outdoors w/ Duracell Quantum from Climbing Expert Kevin Jorgeson

Duracell Quantum

Yepp, that's me on the bottom left, completely feeling myself for actually mustering up the courage to try indoor rock climbing. Oh man back in the day before being diagnosed with Crohns disease or juggling motherhood with grad school and work I used to run track and field, studied Ju Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do, and considered squats and crunches fun and had awesome rock-hard abs to prove it. These days I'm lucky if I can run to catch the bus without keeling over, undoubtedly out of breathe. But this year I've decided to make fitness more of a priority and my inner bad-ass was extremely excited to be invited to Pier 60 at Chelsea Piers by Duracell for a morning of rock climbing with climbing and outdoors expert Kevin Jorgeson. Most notably known for his record-breaking free climb of El Capitan's Dawn Wall, Kevin was there to explain first hand the rewards and challenges from outdoor climbing.

Indoor rock climbing is one of this year's biggest fitness trends, whether done at an indoor facility or braved in the great outdoors & with warm summer days in full effect it only makes sense that people are moving their workouts outside. I've always been in awe of watching the strength and power that help rock climbers persevere to the top & that afternoon I learned a lot about the challenges and importance of planning and proper gear.

To shine a light on taking your climb from the wall to the wild outdoors Kevin offered up some great tips on how to tackle the unpredictability of the outdoors no matter day or night:

One significant tip was the importance of dependable power "During my free climb of El Capitan's Dawn Wall, Duracell Quantum was the only battery I trusted to provide dependable power because it lasts longer in 99% of devices vs. the next leading brand."

Duracell Quantum Batteries

Duracell Quantum Batteries

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little anxious about climbing this wall in the dark but it made me even more so impressed with Kevin's level of skill and passion that had developed as a child. Fortunately I was confident climbing alongside him knowing we powered up the wall with all of Kevin's favorite, dependable essentials from the headlamp and shoes to the pack you are carrying. He coached me up the wall (which I only made it half way up, but to my credit it was the most difficult side) and I could totally relate to him sharing how rock climbing was a way to relax with his dad after all the hustle and bustle of the day to day.

Check out this video of his story 


Duracell Quantum Batteries

Thank you to Duracell and Kevin Jorgeson for such an inspiring and fun morning! I'm not sure you'll ever catch me outdoors journeying through the wild, climbing walls but I look forward to experiencing it with my boys at a local indoor location and powering up with Duracell Quantum which will be great for all our high drain devices and emergency needs.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Leap Frog Introduces a Free Camp & Offers Tips to Prevent Summer Brain Drain for Kids

How to Keep Kids Busy during the summer

With kids across the country finished with the school year, they can celebrate summer and look forward to days free from homework, studying and reading logs. As a former preschool teacher and mom to two boys, I plan on balancing our weekly excursions and screen time with educational ways to keep my two busy bodies entertained while learning over the next two months thanks in part to LeapFrog who strives to continue exposing children to great themed lessons despite school being out. 

While vacation is exciting, it can also have a negative impact on child development – what educators call the “Summer Brain Drain” or “Summer Slide.” For example:
  • Kids can lose up to three months of learning during summer, especially in STEM subject like Math and Science. This can add up to four years of learning loss by 12th grade.
  • It’s worse in lower income communities. More than 80% of kids from economically disadvantaged households lose reading skills over summer.
  • At the start of school each year, teachers spend almost a full month re-teaching materials students have forgotten over the summer.

How to Keep Kids Busy during the summer
Luckily there are some easy ways to keep children’s minds and bodies engaged all year long. LeapFrog’s Director of Learning, Jody Sherman LeVos, PhD has created three simple tips for parents to avoid the Brain Drain and turn it into Brain Gain. 

How to Keep Kids Busy during the summer
LeapFrog is also offering a free virtual “Summer Camp,” that's designed for ages 3-8, where parents can sign up to receive eight weeks of resources like printables, activities, articles, videos, and more summer. Each week presents a different theme, with materials covering skills in math, reading, science, creativity.

How to Keep Kids Busy during the summer
  How to Keep Kids Busy during the summer

The site was a life saver today as I tried to juggle my first day of working at home with them, seriously it was a brutal Monday. So far 4 year old Tristan is loving the camp and the themes for the first 2 weeks which have highlighted two of his favorite topics: Maps and Animals. I'm confident that he'll enjoy it the entire summer because he's always asking for more worksheets and videos. How are you planning to avoid the Brain Drain this summer?

Disclosre: Opinions expressed are 100% my own, no compensation was received for this post.
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