Archives for December 5, 2020

Through the Night * An Endearing Love Letter To Essential Workers And Single Mothers

Through the Night explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider – whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Abigail L. comments, “Through the Night provides a heartwarming message about the courage and struggles of single mothers as well as the importance of essential workers. This documentary successfully advocates the importance of raising awareness of the hardships of working families and maintaining a stable life for their children.” See her full review below.

Through The Night

By Abigail L., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 16

Through the Night is an endearing love letter to essential workers and single mothers in the form of a documentary film.  

The story focuses on a New York daycare center, open 24 hours, run by Deloris, or “Nunu,” and her husband Patrick Hogan. The daycare is a safety net for many working families, especially single mothers, who struggle to make ends meet on top of the difficult task of raising children. Especially with Americans working longer hours across multiple jobs, 24-hour daycare centers are beginning to flourish.

The progression of time in the film is very easy to follow. For example, in one scene a mother and her children wear Halloween attire with jack-o-lantern tattoos, and later, there is an event where several people wear turkey hats, which helps to distinguish October from November. Some scenes in the middle of the film that discuss the struggles of being a single mother feel slightly repetitive, even though that’s somewhat understandable. The variety of locations and situations brings more color into this documentary, and emphasizes the message of this story. Each interview is purposeful and ties into the flow of the documentary seamlessly.

My favorite part is the music which helps set the somber, but ultimately hopeful, tone of the film, while not overpowering the voices and sound effects. The camera angles also help convey the intimate, artistic style of the film, and so the audience feels immersed in the film, as if watching the events unfold in front of them. Lastly, the text effect used to show Patrick’s message to the other daycare workers is visually pleasing and effectively communicates the gravity of the situation Patrick describes.

Through the Night provides a heartwarming message about the courage and struggles of single mothers as well as the importance of essential workers. This documentary successfully advocates the importance of raising awareness of the hardships of working families and maintaining a stable life for their children. Furthermore, there is a strong representation of POC, including Mexican and African Americans, a relevant theme in 2020 America. Although this film is not rated, parents should watch out for sensitive content including the use of prescription pills and references to difficult home lives.

I rate Through the Night 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. You can watch this documentary in theaters and in virtual cinemas beginning December 12, 2020.

The Christmas Chronicles 2 * Heartwarming, Filled With Magic and A Daredevil Santa

It’s been two years since siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) saved Christmas, and a lot has changed. Kate, now a cynical teenager, is reluctantly spending Christmas in Cancun with her mom’s new boyfriend (Tyrese Gibson) and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Unwilling to accept this new version of her family, Kate decides to run away. But when a mysterious, magical troublemaker named Belsnickel threatens to destroy the North Pole and end Christmas for good, Kate and Jack are unexpectedly pulled into a new adventure with Santa Claus (Kurt Russell). Written and directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Harry Potter) and co-starring Goldie Hawn, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two is an action-packed adventure for the whole family that’s full of heart, humor, and holiday spirit. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ethan P. comments, “I like The Christmas Chronicles 2 because it is a heartwarming film, full of magic and adventures which makes it so fun to watch. Santa Claus is not the typical Santa we are used to seeing in other movies. This Santa is a type of daredevil Santa.” See his full review and talent interviews below.

The Christmas Chronicles 2
Ethan P., KIDS FIRST!, Film Critic, Age 12


I like The Christmas Chronicles 2 because it is a heartwarming film, full of magic and adventures which makes it so fun to watch. Santa Claus is not the typical Santa we are used to seeing in other movies. This Santa is a type of daredevil Santa.

If you watched The Christmas Chronicles in 2018, you must know that Kate (Darby Camp) and her brother Teddy (Judah Lewis) are friends with Santa Claus, played by the one and only Kurt Russell.  Kate’s mom and her boyfriend Bob (Tyrese Gibson) take Kate, Teddy and Jack (Jahzir Bruno), Bob’s son, to celebrate Christmas in Cancun, Mexico. Kate doesn’t want to be there as she misses her dad who passed away two years ago. An evil kid named Belsnickel (Julian Dennison) wants to destroy Santa and uses Kate to get to the North Pole to do his dirty deed. Jack follows her so they both end up at the North Pole and that’s when ALL the adventure begins!

My favorite part is when Jack picks two of Mrs. Claus’ special homemade cookies – confidence and bomb. When he needs confidence he forgets which one of the cookies is confidence and almost eats the cookie bomb. The graphics and digital effects are amazing. The reindeers and the cougar look real. The music is very appealing in every scene. The costumes are very seasonal. Mrs. Claus (Goldie Hawn) gives this movie a special touch, which makes this film different from the first movie. Mrs. Claus creates Santa’s Village and takes good care of it. The movie mentions how it should be called Mrs. Claus Village, which gives this character the importance she deserves because, in reality, she is the person behind Santa, supporting him, taking care of him and his business. 

The moral of this movie is to move on, be happy, and let others be happy. Throughout the film, we learn that Kate doesn’t like her mom’s new boyfriend and doesn’t want Bob substituting for her dad. Santa shows her that family is everything and that they matter the most, so why not cherish that her mom is happy because she found love again in Bob? Kate needs to accept that her mom loves Bob and that doesn’t mean she stops loving her dad. She needs to understand her mom deserves to be happy. Life continues; people need to move on.

I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 5 to 18, plus adults. The Christmas Chronicles 2 comes out on Netflix on November 25, 2020, so get your hot chocolate and cookies or popcorn ready to enjoy this magical film!

Looking for Gift Suggestions for your Pup?

SodaPup.com has durable chewers for dogs even a Pumpkin and a RIP Headstone make a great seasonal gift for your dog to chew while you gobble up your Thanksgiving dinner! Specializing in innovative, American-made dog toys for power chewers SodaPup and their targeted collection of products are manufactured in the USA to ensure the integrity of the materials, process, and ultimately the quality. The team at SodaPup adds, “We know not all dogs, and not all dog parents are alike, so we’ve created unique collections to appeal to different audiences. Our brands include USA-K9, Industrial Dog, Spotnik, MuttsKickButt, and, of course, SodaPup.” SodaPup stands for durability, safety, American-made, giving back, and sustainability. Check out their variety of chew toys and treats at SodaPup.com.

If you remember we featured them back in October and we are big fans!

Self Disclosure: We received free samples and images were provided.

Beauty Stocking Stuffers!

Here are my favorite Beauty items this season and they would all make terrific Stocking Stuffers!

Hair ties, headbands, and scrunchies can be more than just an accessory! They can be fun! With Scenties, you can add a fun twist to your kids’ hair ties, headbands, and scrunchies. These accessories are fragranced with playful scents, which can be enabled by simply Stretching and Sniffing the product, just like we used to do with the Scratch and Sniff stickers!  Your kids will be able to wear these products as hair accessories or bracelets, while also choosing from 7 different scents, including Cotton Candy, Bubblegum, Vanilla Cupcake, Strawberry, Sour Apple, Watermelon, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. These are sure to be a hit with kids of all ages!

Founder of Scenties and mom of 4, Kara Dahn, grew up in the 80’s and was obsessed with Scratch & Sniff stickers. She is also an accessories enthusiast that believes that you can never have too many accessories, which is why creating Scenties was the perfect way for her to put together two of her favorite things and create an incredibly useful and original product out of it.

In addition to the exciting new addition to the Scenties collection, the brand is also partnering with Child Mind Institute, which is an independent national nonprofit dedicated to transforming the lives of children and families struggling with mental health and learning disorders. As a mom with a history of anxiety, and now seeing her children struggling with anxiety too, Kara didn’t think twice about supporting this incredible cause.

All of Scenties’ fragrances have been created to comply with the International Fragrance Association Standards. Each scent lasts for at least 6 months, and all you have to do to activate it is stretch your Scenties product; It’ll almost feel like you’re wearing a new perfume every day!

  • Retail Price: $6.99- $21.99
  • Available for purchase via the website

Glitter Peel-Off mask from 7th Heaven blitzes away dirt and grime to reveal a radiant, fresh complexion. It’s the ideal detox for skin after a long day to cleanse impurities that can lead to breakouts! Featuring pomegranate, cranberry and biodegradable glitter, the fresh fruity scent and fun glitter helps uplift your mood! Available in single-serve pouches for $1.99, it’s a steal! 

Refining Sugar Cleanser from MyCHELLE smells like a sugar cookies and is so amazing, you want to eat it. Fantastic scrub for the face and body to get rid of dead skin cells and renew skin! I absolutely love this one! It smells terrific and you only need to use a small amount!

Piggy Paint is great as a kid’s stock stuffer – it’s a line of adorable super safe nail polish for kids that is made from the safest ingredients and come in the most fun colors! I love that these are safe for little ones to wear!


SOPHi
 makes great nail polish for adults (especially pregnant mamas because it is all natural and free of all the nasties!!) I love how this would be a great gift for those who are expecting!

GuruNanda Modern Diffuser provides 6 hours of aromatherapy Enjoy aromatherapy with the GuruNanda Modern Essential Oil Diffuser! This powerful ultrasonic oil mister is perfect for helping you relax after a long day or to help get you energized or motivated in the morning hours. Simply plug the GuruNanda Modern Diffuser in with the included AC adapter, add water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and turn on! This oil diffuser covers up to 200 sq feet with natural fragrance and has a run time up to 6 hours per fill! This stunning and elegant aroma mister also features rotating color lights and TURBO mode to give you a powerful stream of instant therapeutic mist.

Self Disclosure: I received free samples of the above items to facilitate this Beauty Holiday Gift Guide. Images were also provided.

More Holiday Gift Suggestions!

Here are some more of our favorite gift suggestions for the holidays!

Looking for a great gift idea for the little ones on your list? Here are a few of our favorites!

Shape Sorter Xylophone and Piano:

Toddlers will be able to sort shapes while making wonderful music with the Shape Shorter Xylophone and Piano from Hape! This colorful xylophone and piano encourages children to discover color and shape assortment while creating musical notes with every puzzle piece. Children can match the five colorful puzzle pieces to their corresponding holes, by shape or color, and make wonderful Do, Re, Mi Fa, So melodies by pressing down or by tapping them with the red baton!

Age: 12 months + | MSRP: $17.99

Availability: starting in November

Retailer: Target

My First Block Set:

This 80-piece set of sturdy blocks will inspire hours of play and generations of builders!This colorful setencourages children to identify shapes and objects as they stack and build upon their imaginations. The child safe materials and non-toxic finishes are perfect for every little builder!

Age: 12 months + | MSRP: $16.99

Availability: starting in November

Retailer: Target exclusive

DOLCE Primo Kangaroo

This giant Kangaroo is perfect for cuddling! It comes with a bonus, baby Joey, in and additionally, the kangaroo pocket features a shaker egg. Featuring a peek-a-boo door on one of its feet and is also adorned with beads and a teether on its other foot. Dolce stands for Develop, Observe, Learn, Create, Educate. Let your baby DEVELOP sensory skills with a variety of quality textured fabrics. OBSERVE the colorful fabrics. LEARN cause and effect through the activities. CREATE fun, learning and role-play with your favorite Dolce friend. Let the beautiful, interesting and activity rich Dolce toys EDUCATE through play. MSRP: $39.99; ages 0m+

Stick-O Forest Friends 16Pc Set

Explore the great outdoors with The Stick-O Forest Friends 16Pc Set. Kids can use their imagination to build adorable animal friends including an elephant, duck, caterpillar, bunny and more. The Forest Friends 16Pc Set includes 3 Spheres, 3 Sticks, 2 Discs and other magnetic accessories including bunny ears, flowers, cones, flower pots, and elephant ears. MSRP $24.99; ages 18m+

Here are a couple great gift ideas for the older kids!

EXIT: The Game is a new series of party games for up to four players that offers a unique, unforgettable gaming experience. These games allow you to bring the excitement, intensity, and team spirit of an escape room to your living room. In each EXIT game, your team starts out locked in an imaginary room or trapped somewhere. You must solve a series of riddles and puzzles in order to unlock doors and reveal new riddles. Each correct solution brings you to another riddle and eventually to freedom. The clock is ticking: You must solve all of the puzzles as fast as you can because the faster your team escapes the room and the fewer hints you use along the way, the more points you earn. Get ready to test your creative problem solving and logical thinking skills, because the rulebook in an EXIT game doesn’t reveal all the rules like in other games. After the rulebook gets you started, it’s up to your team to discover for itself how the rooms look, what the clues are, how to decipher them, and how to escape. Can you crack the codes and manage to escape the room? EXIT: The Game is constantly expanding with new stories (Dead Man on the Orient Express, The Abandoned Cabin, The Forbidden Castle, The Forgotten Island, The Mysterious Museum, The Pharoah’s Tomb, The Polar Station, The Secret Lab, The Sinister Mansion, and The Sunken Treasure) RETAIL PRICE:$14.95 ◾ # OF PLAYERS: 1-4 ◾ SUGGESTED AGE:10 and up ◾ PLAYING TIME:1-2 hours.

Lost Cities: Rivals: Use your cards to venture down expedition routes that take you to far-flung and mysterious corners of the Earth: to an abandoned mountain temple, a decaying circle of stone, a city sunken under the sea, an ancient Stone-Age settlement, and a town inside of a mountain. Your goal is to plan the routes in such a way that they bring you the greatest possible fame. If you are especially daring, you will also be able to wager on the success of your own expeditions. But watch out: You are not the only one traveling! Which routes will you pursue and how much gold is it worth to you? Plan well and use your resources wisely. Only the player who has collected the most fame at the end of the game will be the winner. RETAIL PRICE: $14.95 ◾ # OF PLAYERS: 2-4 + ◾ SUGGESTED AGE:10 and up ◾ PLAYING TIME:40 minutes.

  Have a Bugs Bunny Fan on your shopping list? They will love this one! “Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”

BUGS BUNNY 80TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION will surely be a hit!

Three-Disc Collection Features 60 Shorts Along with Bonus Content  Including 10 Episodes of Looney Tunes Cartoons,  A Documentary and Collectible Memorabilia  

This is an amazing collection and I love the bonus content! I also really like that it includes a FULL-SIZE GLITTER FUNKO FIGURE! Bugs Bunny 80th Anniversary Collection is available to own on Digital for $39.99 SRP in the US and $49.99 SRP in Canada FROM WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT.

Happy Holidays!

Stay tuned! Our final Gift suggestions post coming up next week!

Self Disclosure: I received free samples of the above items. No other compensation was received. Images were provided.