KizVuz Holiday Party 2014

holiday 2014 gifts toys kids

This was the second year we were lucky enough to go to the KidzVuz Holiday Party. I can only hope we're lucky enough to go again next year, because my kids are already planning on it! 

After posing for pictures at the step and repeat, we went into the event space at Chelsea Piers. Which was awesome, by the way. The first thing we did was get frozen yogurt from 16 Handles. In addition to their awesome name, they had awesome yogurt too. 
kids frozen yogurt

Before their yogurt was even finished, the Ubisoft video game area had suckered the kids in. Hugmonkey was in such a hurry that he let me finish is frozen yogurt, so it was a win for everybody. I let the kids play for a while, they checked out the new Rabbids game and Monopoly. They enjoyed both and I didn't understand either, which seems to be how video games work at our house. After I pointed out all the kids waiting eagerly for their turns, the kiddos agreed to check out the rest of the party.

Ironflower spent a lot of time at the School Specialty craft table. She made flowers and picture frames.

We also saw our friends from BatteryPop, where they were playing the promotional video Ironflower appeared in. Then it was on to iScream, where Ironflower asked me to add all of the cute pillows (especially the donut shaped one) to her Christmas list. We did get one of their blankets in our swag bag and Ironflower is totally in love with it. And if she wasn't? I would totally steal it because it is super soft and warm. 

While the boys weren't as into iScream's products, they were very happy with the candy art at the iScream table. 

I felt like this year I really got to talk to all of the people sharing their products and ideas and that made me so happy. Once again I didn't talk to other bloggers as much, except I finally got to chat with Gay NYC Dad, which made me so happy. I also had a nice talk with Jill from Scary Mommy, who was there to talk about her Thanksgiving Project. It's such a great cause, if you can help, please do. 

I managed to have those conversations while the kids were back with the video games. Because of course they went back to the video games. 

Before that, though, Ironflower got a braid from FiercelyFabNYC, which she really liked. We also talked to Emily from Ribbon Barrettes; definitely the most inspiring 5th grader I've ever met. She is selling ribbon barrettes (my fave thing in 1980) to raise money to help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. 

We spent a very long time in the HP area. First it was the art project while I talked to someone about printers. I really want a new printer. From HP. Then we played with the HP Stream laptops and tablets. I couldn't get Hugmonkey to ditch his long enough to make our Flipbook. Which is not surprise, except that later he was all about dressing up at the Broadway Kids Night table. 

The kids also had a lot of fun learning about the Gamma Heroes and playing an app involving them. 

Perhaps my favorite thing was discovering Sweet Loren's. It's frozen cookie dough, which normally doesn't thrill me. Not that I won't eat it - because of course I will, I love cookies - but there's a lot of bad stuff in most pre-packaged foods. This dough, however, is made with whole, unrefined ingredients. It's dairy free. And the cookies taste like Famous Amos ones. For real. They sell it at Whole Foods and I'm definitely going to buy some the next time the kids want cookies. 

I'm sure I've forgotten something, so make sure to check out more from the KidzVuz Holiday Party on Facebook. 


Take This Drama and Shove It

Making new friends has been difficult for me since I've had kids. And while I'm definitely not in the same position as I was when I started blogging (ie suddenly staying at home with a toddler and a newborn, exhausted, insecure and having trouble relating to people who aren't also obsessed with my children), I don't really socialize much unless it has to do with my kids. Thus most of the women I talk to regularly in real life have at least one child or grandchild the same age as one of mine.

It's sort of like having pleasant co-workers; I enjoy talking to them at work, but no one gets together after hours. And while the lack of after hours socializing prevents deep friendships, it also helps avoid drunken antics and hurt feelings and fights and general drama. 

So imagine my surprise when one of these pleasant co-workers forwarded me (and a few other innocent bystander moms) an email argument she was having with another mom. And then she sent another email to a larger group of moms that put us all into the middle of her drama. 

I'm not going to get into the details of the argument - since I shouldn't even fucking know about it - but I will say this; don't be confrontational about hearsay from children. 

Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm posting about this, except to ask, is this kind of crap normal? My jaw dropped so far while I was reading the emails that I may have drooled a bit; I can't remember ever dealing with stuff like this.

At least not on email - which we didn't have when I was in high school and this kind of drama was par for the course. The whole crowd of moms hovers close to, if not above, 40. The only people who have an excuse to behave this way over the age of 25 are people on the Real Housewives.

Since no one is paying me to act like an aging prom queen on Bravo, I did not respond to the forwarded emails, nor the email essentially asking us all to pick a side. In high school, I would have written a scathing diatribe back (on paper, since that's what we used to communicate back then) detailing not only why the rest of us shouldn't have been dragged into the fight, but how the forwarder was completely in the wrong in the fight anyway. I also probably would have told the whole story to everyone in our mutual circle of acquaintances.

I was very passionate about my opinions in high school.

Now I can only imagine that someone who could create all this drama (she even created the initial fight, to be honest) has all kinds of issues. Issues that will not be helped by me yelling at her. Obviously, she must be terribly unhappy with something in her life. Or several somethings. But since no one is paying me to be her therapist and she doesn't seem to be a danger to herself or her kids, my instinct is to just pretend this never happened.

And yet I have this terrible fear that she's not going to let it go. That we'll be innocently chatting at a birthday party or the playground or whatever and she will bring up the whole mess. This fear is shared by the other innocent bystander moms, we all agree it seems likely. So then what do I do?

No, seriously. What do I do? Duck out of the conversation? Calmly suggest that she's at fault for all of it? Nod, smile and back away slowly? I'm not going to listen to her badmouth another mom and/or kid, that's for sure.

This is why I don't socialize more. I can't handle stressful interactions.


Inspired By Annedroids

When my kids talk about, draw or build their dream houses, several things are always included; a candy room, an indoor slide and a science lab. From their descriptions, I'm pretty sure their science lab would also include every art and craft material known to humankind, as well as a large pile of "junk" that they could use for their various projects and experiements.

I'm pretty sure the creators of Annedroids, Amazon Original's new show for kids, have the same daydream. Anne is a kid genius and scientist, with a couple of human friends, a couple of android friends and a huge junkyard laboratory. The live action show emphasizes STEM learning, problem solving and is way more appropriate than most shows aimed at tweens.

After we watched a few episodes, I asked the kids if they'd been inspired to develop a project or experiment. Lovebug's idea was to turn the basement into our own junkyard lab, but since I'm not a TV parent, I wasn't supportive of dragging power tools, old cars and piles of junk into the house to entertain my 6, 8 and 9 year olds. Instead I pointed out that we had plenty of stuff that would work for projects in the real world, where elementary school kids don't get to repurpose cars.

Recycling household "junk" into "cool stuff" (as described by Hugmonkey) became the plan for the afternoon. Ironflower started out by sketching some very elaborate plans for turning paper towel rolls into drawer organizers. As of this writing, that project is still in progress. I do feel that the show inspired Ironflower to solve one of her organization problems instead of just complaining about it.

Lovebug's project involved all the toy catalogs he hasn't let me recycle. He's making a catalog of his own, with the "best stuff" from each of the others. He is also determined to do "something cool" with all of the scraps.

Hugmonkey immediately went for the paper towel tube. Then he chided me for not saving "all the paper towel tubes ever." I see an extra recycling box in my future. Anyway, Hugmonkey made a light saber.  When Lovebug suggested that they find a way to make it actually light up, Hugmonkey was reluctant to try it with his light saber that he'd worked so hard on, but he's will to try it with the next paper towel tube.

Possibly unrelated: Hugmonkey and Lovebug are trying to use paper towels for everything lately.

I just love the ideas behind this show. Common Sense Media named Anne one of the role models of 2014 and it's easy to see why; she's bright, creative, searching for solutions to problems and handles failure gracefully.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Big Hero 6

Thanks to an email from Sandbox Strategies, Game Mill Entertainment and Disney Interactive, the kids and I got to go to a screening of Big Hero 6 yesterday. I admit that when I got the email, I hadn't really heard much about Big Hero 6.

But my kids had off from school that day and my dad is awesome about driving us into the city for stuff (I hate taking the kids on the train. I also refuse to drive into the city. This could be a bigger problem, but between my husband and dad it's not. Yes, I am spoiled.) So I figured, "It's a Disney movie. It's gotta be decent."

The kids were just happy to get to see a movie in the theater. That before going to the theater we walked around Times Square was a big enough bonus that I'm pretty sure they would have sat through that horrible Dora movie they all used to love.

And then on our way in we got popcorn, drinks and 3D glasses.

It began to matter even less how good the movie was. We heard a couple of presentations first; one on the very cool NintendoDS game that continues the movie's story and one on the characters being added to Disney Infinity. I'm pretty sure Lovebug would have taken notes if I'd had a pen. The games look cool, but any game reviews will have to be written by Lovebug at a later date.

Big Hero 6 is the story of Hiro, a brilliant 14 year old and his group of equally brilliant friends. There are some sad moments, but the creation of Baymax (the large white being who sort of looks like what would happen to the Pillsbury Dough Boy if he went badass) mitigates them. I loved, loved, loved the characters in this movie. They were diverse, interesting, smart and not one of them fit some simple stereotype.

I think this might be the most subversive Disney movie ever.

I loved it.

And I don't think that it was recently turning six that made Hugmonkey sit so still in the theater. My kids were completely enchanted; they loved it too. We are all looking forward to watching it again with Daddy and honestly? There are very few kids movies I want to sit through once, let alone twice.

While there is humor in the movie, it's not snarky. There aren't a lot of jokes meant to appeal to just adults. And there is absolutely no romance whatsoever. I have nothing against romance (unless it's Nicholas Sparks - then I loathe it), I may have teared up during the wedding of The Princess and The Frog. But my kids aren't interested in romance. My daughter doesn't need the idea of a wedding always being the happy ending shoved down her 9 year old throat. And of course I'm gonna love a movie that turns smart nerds into superheros.

This is definitely worth seeing with your kids, no question.