We may be the toy experts, but some recommendations need to come straight from the mouths of people just like you—parents! The Toy Insider’s Parent Panel features a group of individuals who take to their blogs, YouTube channels, and national TV to tell you exactly what they think about the issues facing parents today. They’ll also provide you with insight on what toys they love the most, and give ideas on great ways to engage in playtime with your kids! These men and women have a keen sense of what toys make great play opportunities. With 11 children between them, they know everything about toys from baby books to products for teens. If you’re wondering what to buy a 3-year-old for a birthday party or what to give to your tween for the holidays, these six parents have you covered.
Meet the Parents!
After writing laws for 15 years, Charlene DeLoach now blogs about whatever she wants; specifically, fabulous things like travel, toys, fashion, and fitness. She has worked for the White House, the Massachusetts Legislature, and big-name insurance companies and state agencies as an attorney.
Now, Charlene blogs about luxury at CleverLuxe.com; life at CharleneChronicles.com, and local activities at Metrowest-Mamas.com. She has been featured on NECN, The Rhode Show, Fox25 Morning News, the Boston Globe, Boston.com, Boston Herald, and Parents.com. In her downtime, she loves shopping consignment, and advising parents about best toys for children on the Autism Spectrum. Charlene lives outside of Boston with her husband, kids, and two teeny, tiny dogs.
Stephanie Glover is owner and editor of A Grande Life. The mom of two energetic and spirited boys, Stephanie knows all about balancing work and life and has been writing about it on A Grande Life for the past seven years. She is also an award-winning photographer in the Philadelphia area, and has been capturing stunning images of families since 2009. A total Nikon junkie, Stephanie’s passion for photography has led to a beautiful career that has garnered the attention of Main Line Parent Magazine and Kodak. Stephanie has been featured on 6 ABC with Amy Buckman, she has been named one of the Top 25 Baby Journals by Circle of Moms in 2011, and she was awarded Best Food’s Blue Ribbon Winner #74. When she’s not out finding the best toys and vacation destinations for you and your children, Stephanie can be found creating delicious treats, blogging tips and tricks to make you a better writer, and always has her camera in hand to capture the beauty in her every day.
Melissa “Mommy” Hunter
Melissa “Mommy” Hunter is the owner and founder of Family Video Network and the Mommy in the YouTube phenomenon known as MommyAndGracieShow. Melissa and her daughter Gracie became fans of YouTube when Gracie was only five years old. They would lie down together at night and watch videos about dolls and make-up and crafting tutorials. Having been forced into early retirement due to Multiple Sclerosis, Melissa faced her first summer home with Gracie while having limited mobility. When Melissa asked Gracie what she wanted to do in the summer of 2012, Gracie’s response was, “Let’s start a YouTube channel, and review dolls like WookieWarrior23.” In June 2012, the “Mommy and Gracie Show” premiered on YouTube, and it became a huge hit; the channel has become a destination for doll and toy collectors of all ages. The show’s unique, off-the-cuff reviews coupled with its pioneering “Doll Hunters” videos keep viewers coming back to see what this mother and daughter (and father) will do next.
Navigating the confusing landscape of YouTube on her own, Melissa realized that there was a need for someone to help other family content creators reach their intended audiences, and in July of 2014, Family Video Network LLC (FVN) was born. FVN brings family-focused brands together with family-friendly content to create fun and mutually beneficial YouTube experiences. FVN also provides parents with a good starting point for their children’s YouTube viewing via its YouTube network hub channel of the same name. Melissa is dedicated to using both her business brain and mother’s heart to help companies and families succeed together while making kids happy. Melissa has a background in sales and business operations, having worked for HP in Site Operations, and as a residential Realtor with Weichert. When she retired, she was the Director of Manhattan Operations for Regus.
Glyndon, AKA G
Glyndon, AKA G, is the dad who sits in the middle seat between his two daughters on their YouTube channel the Greer Girls. The Greer Girls is a family activity that everyone gets involved in, with Mom running the camera. Glyndon grew up performing in dramas and skits. He loved the stage, but when his father brought home a very large case containing a VHS camcorder, he fell more in love with creating videos and movies—maybe that’s where the girls get that same love for being in front of the camera and creating videos.
Front and center underneath slime, food, or messy challenges, you will find TOYS. The girls’ first video was of them opening their first Shopkins and many videos later you can still find them trying to complete a full season of Shopkins. Toy reviews and unboxing toys has always been the focus behind their channel. While toys are the main focus, family is the main reason behind why G loves being in the middle. Reviewing toys is one family activity they can all agree on!
Bringing more than 25 years of experience in the entertainment industry into the family realm, James Zahn, aka The Rock Father, is an Illinois-based entertainment writer, media personality, commentator, director, actor, musician, adventurer, raconteur and “toyographer” (he’s obsessed with toys). He became The Rock Father upon the birth of his two girls, “The Rock Daughters.”
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, G4, The Chicago Tribune, PopSugar, Fangoria, Starlog & more. He’s appeared as a music expert on CNN’s AC360 and has been quoted in BusinessWire, CNN & Babble, in addition to making appearances on ABC News and WGN. He is a former contributor to Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, and Chicago Parent.
Tim Burns, author of A Geek Daddy, is the father of 7-year-old twins who blogs about the adventures of parenting from a fun loving dad’s perspective. A connoisseur of comic books and remote control cars, he enjoys family road trips and is an avid Detroit Tigers fan.