GIVEAWAY: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Fashion Runway Playset

I don’t know about you, but growing up, Easter was by far my favorite holiday. Sure, Santa Claus, countless gifts and yuletide carols made Christmas wonderful, but old Saint Nick didn’t have anything on the Easter bunny.

See, I love the spring. Trench coat weather, flowers in full bloom, pretty pastels abound and of course, Easter! What’s not to love? My penchant for Easter and spring has been passed down to my kids too.

From egg dyeing to backyard egg-hunts, I make Easter fun and hopefully unforgettable for my family. This year, I’ve partnered with Hasbro to make my daughter’s candy-filled Easter basket even more special. The popular toy brand has recently released, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Rarity® Fashion Runway Playset, that I know my daughter will fancy. She’s been obsessed with My Little Pony since she was four—I am an ‘80s baby so I totally understand—I grew up collecting the adorable ponies too.

The fashion-centric playset comes with 3 super cute clip-on outfits and 7 hair and fashion accessories. I know my daughter is going to flip when she sees this in her Easter basket on Sunday. I’ve never put toys in there before so I’m sure this will be a welcomed surprise. Now, I have to figure out what toy the “Easter Bunny” will place in my son’s basket!

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My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Rarity® Fashion Runway Playset available here, $20

What are you planning to put in your children’s Easter baskets this Sunday? Since it might be two late to get this playset in time for Easter, it would still be a pretty awesome just-because gift that I’m sure the little girl in your life would adore. Simply leave a comment below sharing your most memorable Easter growing up (or as an adult) or tweet me @BrownGirlGumbo.  Two lucky winners will be randomly selected and notified via email on or by Thursday 4/20/2017. This giveaway is only open to U.S residents. 

New Victory Theater’s ‘Something’ Has Something for Everyone

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Living with two small children under the age of 8 can sometimes make my apartment feel like my own private circus. Every night I get the pleasure of sitting ringside watching my kids in action—the nonstop acrobatics, tricks and constant stunts seem to transform my living room into a stage of never-ending antics.

So, when I heard about New Victory Theater’s new show, Something,” I knew that it was something that my kids would love! This past Saturday we headed to Times Square to see the contemporary Italian cirque (circus). Featuring awe-inspiring aerial acts, dance, and physical comedy, the show was jam-packed with entertaining bits throughout. Comprised of an incredibly talented troupe of seven, the 60-minute show was perfect for my two kids. My 3-year-old son couldn’t stop clapping while my 7-year-old daughter’s looked on in amazement.

From colorful balloons seemingly lifting a performer into the air to a foot-tapping game of poker, the fun props, costumes, silly sets and scenes set the stage for an enjoyable afternoon. In fact, some of acts didn’t end at the theater—for me; many of the scenes were “recreated” the rest of the weekend back in my living room. The only thing that was missing was the popcorn.

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New Victory Theater always offers complimentary arts and crafts that complement the performance before and after each show.

New Victory Theater always offers complimentary arts & crafts and educational activities that complement the performance before and after each show.

New Victory Theater always offers complimentary arts & crafts and educational activities that complement the performance before and after each show.

New Victory Theater always offers complimentary arts & crafts and educational activities that complement the performance before and after each show.

“Something” runs into April 16, 2017. Click here for tickets and more information.

What’s the last live show you’ve seen? What’s your favorite Broadway or off-Broadway show?

3 Reasons to Love the Disney Wonder Cruise

Last month my family and I went on our first Disney cruise and I can’t stop thinking about our wonderful experience. We sailed on the newly renovated Wonder, which is an absolutely stunning ship and one of Disney’s four vessels in their cruise line fleet.

For three nights and four days, we sailed from Orlando to the breathtakingly beautiful Bahamas and docked at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. I’m still daydreaming about endless eats and turquoise sea. Our cruise was truly a trip of a lifetime. Even though we went as part of Disney’s Social Media Moms Celebration, the average cruiser would also be blown away by the amenities, activities and outstanding dining options.

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Incredible Eats

Who doesn’t love good food? Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, or somewhere in between, the food options onboard the Wonder are endless. The ship boasts three fine dining restaurants: Tiana’s Place, Animator’s Palate and Triton’s. The food at each restaurant was top-notch, high-quality cuisine. From southern classic shrimp and grits to scrumptious pastas to delectable desserts, my family enjoyed everything that was served. Plus, for those midday and late night nibbles—Cabanas, a casual dining option on the top deck provided quick bites like chicken fingers, French fries and tacos. Oh and did I mention 24-hour room service? We ordered from the extensive menu each night, including warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. The outstanding service and delicious food exceeded our expectations every time.

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Southern classic, shrimp and grits served at Tiana’s Place.

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MJ eating breakfast at Cabana’s.

Grilled Garlic-marinated shrimp served at Animator's Palate.

Grilled Garlic-Marinated shrimp served at Animator’s Palate.

My daughter, Ava, is allergic to eggs so the chef at Triton's served this special egg-free ice cream sundae to her delight.

My daughter, Ava, is allergic to eggs so the chef at Triton’s served this special egg-free ice cream sundae to her delight.

Kid’s Club fit Kings & Queens 

If you have a child over the age of three, the Oceaneer Club will be their favorite hangout. Admittedly, I didn’t think that we’d use this drop-off service during our time aboard the Wonder, but boy was I wrong! Like many paranoid parents, I was hesitant to leave my toddler and 7-year-old in a giant playroom in the middle of the ocean without us around. The impeccable security put all of my fears to rest. Plus, the staff was incredibly personable, friendly and patient—all of the things you need to be when dealing with children. The space was truly a child’s dream: interactive games, arts &crafts, food, movies, slides, iPads, character appearances and more. I literally had to bribe my kids to leave because it was that much fun!

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High-Caliber Productions

We live in New York City, home of the Great White Way. So we’ve been to a couple of Broadway shows, but let me tell you, they aren’t cheap. For a family of four, ticket prices can soar upwards of $800 for a popular musical. That’s why we were so impressed by the shows performed onboard each night. They were comparable to multi-million dollar productions that keep theatergoers coming back to Broadway time after time. During our cruise, we were lucky to see “Golden Mickey’s,” “Dreams” and last but definitely not least, “Frozen.” Each of the shows displayed high-energy performances, awesome storylines, and amazing sets & costumes.

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If you’re Wonder-ing if you should take a Disney cruise, the answer is “yes!” The memories you’ll make with your family will be priceless. We’re already planning our next cruise. Maybe we’ll see you real soon too!

Have you ever sailed aboard a Disney cruise? If so, what was your experience? If not, do you have plans on taking one?

Movie Review: ‘Boss Baby’ Will Deliver a Bundle of Laughs

If you’re a mom, chances are you’ve often wondered if your beautiful newborn baby was in fact your boss. From their big demands to always being on-call, it’s hard not to imagine your tiny infant calling the shots in your life.

For many parents, that notion never really goes away. That’s why I couldn’t wait to check out Dreamworks’ new animated movie, “The Boss Baby.” But, I was in for a few surprises. The movie, which was adapted from the popular 2010 book of the same title, touched on babies being the bosses of us helpless parents, but the film’s main focus was how a new baby’s arrival impacts families, especially young siblings.

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Told through the eyes of an imaginative 7-year-old boy named Tim, the story unfolds with the classic sibling rivalry tale. With hilarious hijinks throughout, Tim soon finds out that his new baby brother isn’t what he seems to be.

Voiced by Alec Baldwin, the Baby Boss is an adorable suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying infant who is really an undercover spy in a baby’s body. In order to complete his mission, he’ll need Tim’s help and his big brother is more than willing to lend a hand—for his own gain.

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The film is full of funny bits that both of my kids enjoyed. Unlike the brothers, my children have never displayed any signs of sibling rivalry. In fact, their super close relationship is something I’m the most proud of as a mother. Despite not witnessing any sibling rivalry in my home, I know that many parents will totally relate to the characters’ somewhat rocky, yet endearing relationship.

If you’re looking for a hilarious, yet endearing animated movie that the entire family will enjoy, “The Baby Boss” is a sure bet.

It arrives in theaters March 31st.

Check out the trailer here:

Special thanks to The Moms Network for hosting the private screening and treating us mom bloggers with yummy Subway sandwiches after the film. 

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If you’re a mom of two or more, did your children ever experience  any sibling rivalry?

‘Put Me in the Story’ Makes Story Time Personal

It’s no secret that story time with your little one can foster a lifelong love of reading and create a strong bond between mother and child. That’s why I’ve always made bedtime reading a family ritual and it’s just gotten better.

Put Me In The Story turns books into individual tomes by personalizing them with your child’s name. Your mini me will be fascinated by the fact that her (or his) name appears throughout the book—making story time even more special.

Seeing their names woven into the story promotes reading comprehension and allows your child to truly be a part of the story.

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Disney’s Dream Big, Princess is available here, $34.99. Hurry, order by 12/16/16  11:59pm EST in time for Christmas arrival. 

From Disney’s Dream Big, Princess, to Marvel’s “Avengers,” these books make excellent gifts for your little reader.

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I have one for my daughter and I can’t wait for her to unwrap it on Christmas. Hey, maybe seeing her name on and throughout the book will inspire her to become an author! You never know what can spark their interests.

Have you ever purchased a personalized book for your child?

Inside Sprout Studios: A Tour to Remember

There’s nothing more precious than witnessing your child experience a priceless moment.

I had that special pleasure a few weeks ago when I surprised my children with a visit to Sprout, the premier 24-hour cable network for preschoolers. Nestled on the 6th floor of Rockefeller Center in the heart of Manhattan, the NBC-owned channel is home to popular children programs like “Caillou” and “The Berenstain Bears,” as well as several original animated series such as “Dot.,” “Terrific Trucks,” and “Floogals.”

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But the main star of the network is “Chica,” the chipper, gibberish-speaking chicken from the flagship, Emmy-nominated program, “The Sunnyside Up Show.” Not only does Chica serve as a co-host on the aforementioned show, she also makes appearances alongside hosts, Emily, Kaitlin, and Tim for birthday announcements, sing-alongs, holiday specials, etc. between programming breaks.

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The private tour started with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the control room. Having never visited a television studio before, seeing the multiple screens, monitors and unfamiliar knobs and buttons were fascinating for both of my kids. Watching their little faces light up in amazement was a true joy. But that excitement couldn’t compare to the jubilation of meeting Emily and Chica.

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As we turned the hallway and walked into the studio where all of the action happens, the moment I’d been waiting for had finally arrived: they met Chica! Ava was excited, but certainly not as enthused as my 3-year-old son. His excitement was palpable and confirmed by his constant squeals and shrieks.

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But, Chica wasn’t the only notable in the room. Emily is bonafide celebrity in our home so they were both pretty thrilled to meet her in person too. Her warm, peppy personality was just as vibrant off-camera as it appears onscreen.

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After chatting with Chica and Emily, checking out the set, green room and makeup room, we were on our way with memories (and mementos) that will last a lifetime!

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Be sure to look out for Sprout’s holiday specials throughout the month. Click here for more information. 

Are your children Sprout fans? If so, what’s their favorite show(s)?

Disney’s ‘Moana’ is a Music-Filled Gem with an Empowering Message

There’s no denying the power of Disney movies.

From “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to “Finding Dory,” Disney’s animated films transport audiences to a magical world that’s typically filled with music, valuable lessons and of course courageous, strong characters—leaving you feeling happy, empowered and optimistic. That winning formula remains in place with the new release of “Moana.”

Last week, my kids and I were invited to a special preview screening hosted by The Moms and sponsored by Subway. Thanks to the “eat fresh” fast-food chain, the kids had a healthy sandwich, fresh fruit and juice to enjoy before the movie. After noshing on the tasty bites, they were excited to finally see the animated film on the big screen. Admittedly, I was looking forward to it too since I had learned about the movie earlier this year at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration.

And we were in for a treat!

The movie opened with an adorable baby Moana, the lead and title character. Disney has a knack for creating lovable younger versions of characters that grow into the strong protagonists.

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Disney

Moana is indeed a strong girl. Voiced by actress Auli’i Cravalho, she is an iron-willed leader determined to expand her horizons despite her father’s well-intentioned reservations. Without spoiling the story, she goes on a quest to help her village, which requires her to go on a dangerous voyage beyond the ocean’s shore. While on her journey, she encounters a friendly former demigod named Maui, played by actor Dwayne Johnson aka “The Rock.”

Together they take viewers on a fun, action-packed musical adventure that explores ancestry, bravery, friendship, and self-exploration.

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These coconut pirate action figures and charm bracelets are a few of the Moana-inspired toys that come with Subway’s Fresh Fit for Kids meals.

The story was inspiring and I especially loved that Moana was a young girl of color that children can look up to. I applaud Disney for showcasing more diversity in their animated series and feature films. It’s so important that they see positive and dynamic characters that look like them on screens, big and small. My daughter is now obsessed with Moana and has added a few Moana-inspired items to her Christmas list! Oh, and I haven’t been able to get the catchy tune, “You’re Welcome,” out of my head since seeing the movie. It’s an ear-worm that I welcome!

If you’re looking for a feel-good, inspiring movie for your kids (especially daughters) this is a can’t-miss film!

“Moana” is now showing in theaters nationwide. 

What’s your favorite animated Disney movie?