Presenting Beth’s Official Splurge-Worthy Holiday Gift Guide

For anyone who knows what it’s like to be a parenting (aka Mommy) blogger, I’m going to clue you in to a little secret. About 12 years ago when I started blogging, my writer friends and I wrote about what we loved – whether it was storytelling, shopping or saving money. Nobody paid us when we wrote about them and we chalked it up to a stroke of luck when a brand discovered us and started sending us things for free. I mean when I started to get free Nintendo games for my kids, I seriously thought I hit the mother load. 

Today, my kids are a lot older so video games are not going to cut it. I guess I should be grateful that my son is obsessed with Fortnite so I really don’t have to spend that much on him anymore. But enough about my kids. This year, I’m coming up with my holiday wish list and damn, it’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

Just so you are aware, I’m what you call an “early adapter.” I discover things before they actually become popular so if you want to be ahead of the curve, then please feel free to follow my lead and happy shopping… 

 Beth’s Holiday Wish List…

  1. The Peloton Tread:  This is absolutely #1 on my list to purchase at some point this year. I have been Pelo-obsessed since I first splurged on the state of the art spin bike more than two years ago. But now, I’ve been eyeing their brand new treadmill that offers live and on demand classes that’ll finally solve the “why do my legs always look so big problem.” I always find that when I start jogging, my legs thin out so as soon as I land a few more projects, that treadmill is totally going to be mine. If you decide to pull the trigger and order a Peloton or a Tread, feel free to use my Referral Code: QJMKEY – think of it as a GoFundMe so I can raise money to get the Tread. Kidding, not kidding. 🙂

2. The Ninja Foodie: I have so many appliances on my counter and recently, I discovered a brand new combo appliance that puts the Instant Pot and Air Fryer all in one place. As my friends and family can attest, I cook practically everything these days in my Instant Pot and Air Fryer. The Ninja Foodie looks like a total game changer and a space saver all in one! 

3. Away Travel: Since I watch MSNBC all day and listen to it in the car too, there are certain commercials that have now been embedded in my memory. One is Madison Reed – which offers a simple way to color your hair (thanks but no thanks), the second is Third Love, a revolutionary bra that will change your life (nope) and the other is Away Travel…yes we have a winner! If you travel a lot or if you are obsessed with your phone, then this is the ideal gift for you. A suitcase where you can charge your phone at the same time! No more looking for wall outlets right before you board a flight. You can be plugged in at all times! 

4. Seaweed Villa in Treasure Beach Jamaica: Now that you have your luggage, here’s the place you’re going to want to stay. We’ve been to Treasure Beach several times and while it does take some work to get there (it’s about 2.5 hours from Montego Bay airport), it is totally worth it. If you can’t afford SeaWeed – which is an unbelievable villa with an in ground pool, jacuzzi, views of the beach, a staff to take care of your every whim, gazebos galore and gorgeous bedrooms, then head to Jakes Hotel which also has beautiful cottages with ocean views too. 

5. A New Car for My Hubby: For the last three years, Darin has been driving around in a tiny Hyundai Elantra and at last count, I think he has blown about 10 tires since driving out of the showroom. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not the car’s fault. He should have changed the tires during the winter or not driven on the roads in our neighborhood until all the pot holes were filled. Thankfully, his lease is up in the next two months so we’ll be on the hunt for a new set of wheels. Something tells me, it’s time for an upgrade. (Dare to dream).

So there you go. My dream holiday wish list. I probably won’t be getting everything on my list, but even if I can splurge on one thing, then seriously, I will be a very happy camper.

Happy Holidays!  

Holiday 411: Best Gifts of 2012

iStock_000021061287XSmall.jpgNow that the gifts have been distributed and the kids are having fun with toys, gift cards and accessories, here at Role Mommy, we’ve compiled a list of the best gifts this holiday season. If you haven’t yet purchased one of the gifts below for your child or loved one, here’s the good news. It’s probably on sale right now so get out and go shopping!
Our Top 10 Gift Picks of 2012
1. For Any Teenage Girl: Anything from American Eagle, Forever 21, Delia’s, Hollister, Abercrombie or American Apparel. Having navigated my way through all these stores during peak holiday shopping days (two days before Xmas), I can now say that when in doubt, if your child is a fashion plate like mine, you can’t go wrong with any of these stores. Opt for a gift card so they can’t go overboard on their purchases.
2. For the Music Lover: Beats. I have no idea why these headphones are the must have item among tweens and teens, but it just is. Could it be the noise canceling quality or the fact that you can tune out your parents when you’re wearing them, all I know is that if you bought your child Beats this year, you were a really cool mom.
3. The Wii U: This super cool new game station arrived on our doorstep last week and my son can’t stop playing it. The cool thing is you can play your favorite games on your TV and when you want to watch your favorite show, your child can continue playing on a console without disturbing the rest of the family. Plus, you can also use the console to control the volume on the TV and order movies from Netflix too. And best of all, the folks at Nintendo know me so well, they even sent me a karaoke game that comes with a microphone too. Can’t wait to kick the kids out of the living room on New Years so that I can play with all my girlfriends!
4. Microsoft Surface: At $500, the Microsoft Surface actually makes a great gift for the entire family — kids can do their homework assignments, you can craft powerpoint presentations, there are tons of great apps to choose from and you can even play Xbox games too. Plus, there’s a built in camera too.
5. iPad Mini: If you’re a Mac family and own an outdated iPad without a camera, then you might be ready for an upgrade to an iPad mini that has all the bells and whistles of the iPad we’ve all grown to love but smaller, lightweight and less expensive. SOLD!
6. Madden for XBox: : We bought my son the latest Madden NFL game for the Xbox and have to say that he is totally hooked. He and his dad have been playing it every day since we first brought it home and when we visited our friends’ house last night, they had it too, which means it’s a popular game since they always get the best gifts.
7. Gift cards, gift cards and more gift cards. When in doubt, there’s nothing like a gift card that your kid can use to buy whatever his 10 year old heart desires. Sure, you can’t get much for $25 but if you pool your resources, you can cobble together enough cards to make it substantial.
8. Scrabble Anyone? I don’t know about your spouse, but mine is totally hooked on Scrabble. He plays it constantly online and also loves playing the old fashioned board game version with friends. It’s time to invest in a fancy board and learn how to master those pesky two letter words, but either way, if you live with a wordsmith, you can’t go wrong with Scrabble.
9. A Nook, A Vook or A Kindle Fire Truth be told, I haven’t read much in a while but when I do, I gravitate towards an e-reader since it’s so easy to just download a book, kick back and read. Here’s hoping I can dive into several great books in 2013 — including my friend Yvette Manessis Corporon’s (and my Peeing in Peace co-author)…so excited for her and cannot wait to read it.
10. Give the gift of Vacation If you’re like me and you stayed home this holiday season, why not plan for your next getaway? Check out sites like Kayak, SniqueAway and Travelzoo for getaway deals and if you’re looking for cheap airfare, makes sure you make your purchases on a Tuesday when flight deals are typically posted. Some of my favorite getwaways? Jamaica, Florida (with a cruise added on to the trip), Puerto Rico and Europe…can’t wait to one day go back to Italy!!!

The Ultimate Holiday Mom Blogger Gift Guide

It may only be November but the great thing about being a mom blogger is that my kids, hubby and I have had the chance to try out lots of toys that will be hitting the toy stores this holiday season. Plus, I also reached out to some of my favorite mom writers who are sharing links to their fabulous gift guides to help you navigate your way to the must-have toys of the year. Before I share their holiday gift guides and reviews, here are a few of our favorite tech toys of the year for kids and adults. I’ll be posting reviews of tons of innovative new games, toys and books and if you comment, you can win a valuable prize.
FOR TWEENS, TEENS (& MOMS)…
boogie-superstar_multiplayer-dance_2.jpgBoogie Superstar – Call me a cheese ball but there is nothing that quite compares to challenging your entire family to a karaoke/dance competition complete with judges who comment on your performance. We just received Boogie Superstar for the Wii a few days ago and I have to say, we have played it dozens of times. In fact, I’ve already set a date for my girlfriends to come over so we can share wine and sing – just need to send the kids to somebody else’s house. If you’re a karaoke and dance show fanatic, you will love this new game.
IMG_0552.JPGDisney Sing It! Okay…hold the phone. I had the chance to attend a party thrown by Disney Interactive this past week and was able to sample their latest Karaoke game Sing It! If your child (and you – admitting it is the first step) are big fans of Hannah Montana, High School Musical, Camp Rock, The Cheetah Girls and more, you’ll now have your chance to sing along with the stars of the shows and films and sing duets, compete against teams or against each other and the best score wins. No dancing on this one, but check me out giving it a whirl the other night while Kim at Mom in the City enjoyed wine, appetizers and great conversation – too much fun! Incidentally, if you don’t like to sing, Disney also just released Ultimate Band for Wii too and according to Kim at Traveling Mom, it’s easy to use and she totally felt like a rock star after just one turn!
IPOD’s with Lyrics from Itunes Here’s a really cool option from those geniuses at Apple. If you own an iPod or plan to purchase one as a holiday gift, for a $20 upgrade on iTunes, all your songs will come with words, which means wherever you or your kids go (yes another item you’ll both be fighting over) – on the street, in the car, in the bathroom, in the gym, you could be singing right along to your favorite songs. Microphone not included, of course!
106177627.jpgHuru Humi – These new interactive mini dolls can have full on conversations with each other or your child can chat with them too. And let me just warn you by saying some of the girls are really nice and others may have a bit of an edge to them. The good thing about them though is that once you hear the Huru Humi girls chatting up a storm and sometimes insulting one another you can actually start a conversation with your own kids about not being mean to their friends. Plus, my husband now wants to take the pocket sized Huru Humis to work so he can get a chuckle out of his cubicle mates.
FOR KIDS 6+
wiis07_music.jpg
Wii Music – For the budding musician, the folks at Nintendo have come up with a fabulous instructional music experience with this latest Wii game. You can even use the Wii fit balance board to play the drums and easily turn your controller into a clarinet, piano, bass and more. Then, put all the instruments together and you can conduct an orchestra. Since my son just started taking guitar lessons (he was a Guitar Hero fan and decided to try his hand on a real live guitar), he is now totally hooked on Wii Music.
animal-crossing-screen.jpgNintendo’s Animal Crossing for Wii – This brand new game from the folks at Nintendo hasn’t hit stores yet, but once it does, kids and adults will be hooked. Animal Crossing is a virtual city where you can play games, send mail, chop trees, catch fish, get your hair done, attend a show, visit a fortune teller, have conversations with townspeople and much more. And along the way, you’ll earn bells that will enable you to go shopping in clothing and furniture stores and much more. Nintendo threw a launch party the other night to release the game which Barb at One2One Network, Amy at Selfish Mom, Kim at Traveling Mom and young adult novelist Marianne Mancusi, whose new book “Gamer Girl” was just released in bookstores, all attended along with at least one hundred gamers who were eagerly waiting to get their turn, so something is telling me, this one will be flying off the shelves.
ds-cover.jpgClub Penguin for Nintendo DS – If your child is hooked on Club Penguin (who hasn’t tricked out their igloo or visited the pizza shop?) then they are going to be over the moon when they find out that Nintendo has just released a game (actually the street date is November 22) where you will get the chance to play Club Penguin, win coins and then load those coins via wifi into your child’s virtual world. That means more cool gadgets and products for my son’s two penguins who I have to admit are pretty deprived since we don’t invest in the monthly member fee. The games on the DS are a lot of fine – I was having a blast catching fish until one of my favorite blogger moms Jessica from NYC Moms arrived with her family!
61lyXrGSnBL._SL500_.jpgWii Outdoor Challenge – While the Wii Fit was all the rage in our household a few months back, these days my kids are obsessed with the Wii Outdoor Challenge. If you’re looking to get fit with your kids by playing hilarious games from trampoline tricks, to rollerblading, jump rope, riding down a tunnel, log jumping and much more, then this is the game for you. And the best part is it won’t reprimand you or make you feel guilty if you’ve gained weight. Just pure fun and laughs for the whole family.
myBABY_minigameSCREEN.jpgFOR PRE-SCHOOLERS
My Baby Village
Beginning November 10, SouthPeak Games introduces the 21st century baby doll with the new My Baby Girl and My Baby Boy series for Nintendo DS. The new baby doll is designed to allow children to nurture, engage and raise their baby at their own pace with their own sensitivities, instincts and style. How they raise and relate to their baby will be their very own personal experience. From how to change a diaper to how to hold a bottle, children learn all the ways they can keep their baby healthy and grow. As the baby meets certain developmental milestones, new age appropriate activities get unlocked. If you’re ready to introduce your little one to the Nintendo DS, then this is the perfect first game for your inquisitive pre-schooler.
princess_1.jpgMY PRINCESS ACADEMY – If your little one loves to play dress up and computer games then you are in luck! My Princess Academy is about to have its grand entrance at the 2008 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day with an enchanted castle float featuring Interscope Records tween pop group, The Clique Girlz. The site, www.MyPrincessAcademy.com offers both a virtual and real world experience for girls. Created for girls ages three and up, My Princess Academy offers children a chance to play games and have fun on and off-line while learning how to become their best selves, defined not only by physical beauty but by inner beauty. The site is filled with interactive games and exciting princess-themed activities. The website is also home to the My Princess Academy Shop where girls can purchase dress-up clothing and accessories – from princess dresses and tiaras to diaries and castle canopies. With each purchase, girls advance to new levels of the Virtual Princess Academy Castle, all while earning Princess coins that can be redeemed to decorate their own virtual Princess Dorm Room.
SAFE TOY GUIDES…
Cool Mom Picks
A Child is Chosen
THE LATEST MOM BLOGGER HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDES
Princess Loves Pink Holiday Gift Guide
Parents with Style
Baby’s First Gift Guide
Gifts for Little Dreamers (toys for pretend play, ages 3 and up)

Gifts for a Happy Home (helping your family have a meaningful
Christmas)

Gifts for Learners
Cool Mom Picks – Holiday Gift Guide Released Today!
Holiday Gift Guide 2008
Mommy Daddy Blog just posted their holiday gift guide today!
Modern Mama – Just released her holiday gift guide this week! Take a look and see some of her fabulous picks for your family!
Tech Savvy Mama – Tech Savvy Mama Holiday Gift Guide is going up all week with a guide launching every day for a different age group. They currently have toddlers & preschool and elementary guides up. Teens & Tweens will be up tomorrow and their adult guide will be up on Friday. Plus, it will be chock full of giveaways and coupons too!
Mommy Goggles – straight from Iowa, here’s a comprehensive guide to great gifts for your family.
This Full House – Holiday Survival Guide 2008 – compliments of one of my favorite mom bloggers, Liz Thompson.
Twitter Moms Holiday Gift Catalogue
My Kids Registry
Posh Point of View
Jersey Bites
A Parent in Silver Spring
Mom Dot Christmas Guide with the chance to win over $1000 in prizes!!!
Cool Mom Guide
Mommy Mandy’s Gift Guide
All American Mommy
Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies
Gifts for Mom Too…The Gift Closet
Two Blue Peas – Gift Guide and Great Discounts!
Holiday Guides Coming Soon…
Steals and Deals – Will be hosting a 12 days of Christmas celebration December 1-12th. They will have a new product review each day with a giveaway included. Then draw all the winners on the 15th.
 
The Dirty Shirt – This site offers a review and giveaway of a product for Christmas now through the month of December.
MOM BLOGGER FAVORITE TOY PICKS

Classy Mommy
Here are a few all time favorites for gifts – think something unusual, unique and NOT plastic! I’ve also got a few all time TOY favorites as well for affordability, durability and the fact that these toys are the kind that GROW with your kids from 6-9 months – 5 or 6 Years of age!
Personalized Apron $23
Personalized Storybooks
Bee Bop Band Music Toy Set by Parents $22.99 (Target best price i found!)
iPlay Lift Off Rocket $26.99 (best price amazon)
Mom in the City: LeapFrog Fridge Farm Magnetic Animal Set: Appropriate for ages 12 months to 3 years, this award-winning toy has been popular with both of my sons.  (I also see it in the homes of several of their friends.)  This is a great, fun way for kids to both practice matching skills and be creative with mix-matches.  The matches include animal names, sounds, facts and songs.  This is an all-around great toy. 
APPROX. RETAIL: $ 14.99

Fisher-Price Little Superstar™ Classical Stacker™: Recommended for ages 6 months and up, this has been a popular toy with both of my sons and many of their playmates (including their group classes).  There are four sparkly stars that light up while the music plays.  It helps the kids gain a variety of skills and it gives us parents a visual of their growth.  (It’s cute to see how they go from banging the stars together and putting them in their mouths to actually figuring out how to stack them, spin them, etc.)
APPROX. RETAIL: $ $10.00
Mom Advice: I have to say that my kids are really loving the LeapFrog Tag System and it has been a hit with both my beginning reader and my 2 year old. It doesn’t require as many motor skills as the game systems do and it is a great way to get your kids to understand word recognition. It was originally intended for our son, but I am buying books for my daughter’s third birthday because she loves it so much.
If you are a mom blogger and have a favorite holiday toy you’ve reviewed this holiday season or if you’re going to feature a gift guide, we want to hear from you! Please comment below with a link to your review so and you can win valuable prizes!