The Toy Insider may be the toy experts, but some recommendations need to come straight from the mouths of people just like you—parents!
The Toy Insider Parents are unique individuals who take to their blogs, social media, YouTube channels, and national TV to tell you exactly what they think about the issues facing parents today. They are the experts in their respective blog niches and have real life experience within those fields.
The Toy Insider Parents have a keen sense of what things make great play opportunities. With more than 15 children between them, they know everything from baby books and board games to craft ideas and seasonal recipes. If you’re wondering what to what is fun to do with the family this weekend, these nine experts have you covered.
Parent Panel Legacy Team Lead
Charlene is the lead Toy Insider parent for the third year in a row. The rest of the time, she is a a dairy/gluten-free lawyer turned blogger who loves bargains, toys, puns, and anything with pink and sparkles. She has her own popular blog chronicling her adventures and discoveries at CharleneChronicles.com. She has been voted as top blogger in Massachusetts several years in a row. Charlene has been featured on NECN, Mass Appeal, The Rhode Show, Western MA News, Fox25 Morning News, the Boston Globe, Boston.com, the Boston Herald, and Parents.com. Her specialty is advising parents about the best toys for children on the Autism Spectrum. Charlene lives outside of Boston with her family and three teeny, tiny dogs.
Charlene has been a Toy Insider Parent since 2012. Connect with her on Twitter @CharleneDeLoach.
Best-known as The Rock Father, James Zahn is an Illinois-based writer, media personality, commentator, director, actor, adventurer, raconteur and overall pop culture and toy enthusiast at TheRockFather.com.
James and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, Fox Business, NBC, ABC, G4, USA TODAY, the NY Post, The Chicago Tribune, PopSugar, Fangoria, Starlog & more. In addition to The Toy Insider, his writing has also appeared in the pages of The Toy Book, and he currently pens a regular column for the Pop Insider. In 2018, he made his debut at San Diego Comic-Con International (SDCC) as a first-time panelist.
While his travels often take him to Los Angeles and New York, he remains based in the Chicago area, where he resides with his wife and their two daughters. Tying it all together, James also serves as a brand ambassador and consultant for a number of globally-recognized toy and pop culture brands.
James has been a Toy Insider Parent since 2016. Connect with him on Twitter @TheRockFather.
Destiny Paquette runs Suburban Wife, City Life. She is a mom to two adorable and fun kids and wife to Mike. Destiny works full-time in New York City for Blue Man Group and lives in the suburbs of New Jersey. She’s been featured on Huffington Post, iBlog Magazine, Bon Bon Break and multiple other blogs for her DIY ideas, travel tips, and life hacks. Never one to turn away a carousel ride, she loves traveling around and discovering new and old carousels of America with her family. Her blog has allowed her to experience and share new adventures, and check out the hottest toys. In her free time she enjoys reading, sewing vintage dresses, and dancing.
Destiny has been a Toy Insider Parent since 2016. Connect with her on Twitter @suburbanwifedp.
Video Game Virtuoso
Drew Bennett has had a life-long love affair with toys. From his first LEGO set, to his first Transformers figure (Wheeljack), to his favorite NES video game (The Legend of Zelda), Drew has never stopped loving toys and prides himself as being a big kid. Now, more than 30 years later, he can see his favorite toys come to life on the big screen and can immerse himself in the land of Hyrule with his Nintendo Switch.
Drew shoots a photograph every day, and has spent 4,500 consecutive days behind the lens. He also creates daily videos on YouTube. When not in front of or behind the camera, Drew is a father of two, a loving husband, an avid kayaker, a speaker, podcaster, and writer for his blog BenSpark Family Adventures.
Drew has been a Toy Insider Parent since 2017. Connect with him on Twitter @BenSpark.
Board Game Geek
Darcy Zalewski is an avid gamer at Stay At Home Gamers who believes gaming is an excellent family activity. Happily raising two little geeklings with her equally geeky husband in the land of cheese, aka Wisconsin. Darcy loves both video and board games as they provide infinite family bonding opportunities. When she’s not gaming, she’s crafting, reading dystopian novels, or discussing one of her many fandoms. Her writing has also been featured on Babble, CafeMom, and Mom.me.
Darcy became a Toy Insider Parent in 2018. Connect with her on Twitter @darcyzalewski.
Dusty Pendleton is the owner and editor of the family lifestyle and entertainment site, Sun & Sea Salt. She has been a blogger and influencer for more than seven years. Together with her husband, she’s successfully had one son leave the nest and now raises an 8-year-old mini-me.
She has been featured on her local ABC station, on Mom Talk Radio, and in iBlog Magazine. She loves comic books, Marvel movies, everything Disney, and travel. She also has a workshop in her garage and loves DIY projects.
Dusty became at Toy Insider Parent in 2018. Connect with her on Twitter @SunAndSeaSalt.
Healthy Food Fanatic
Lisa is a pharmacist turned health & wellness lifestyle blogger with a style that’s all her own. She lives in the Washington DC metro area with her college sweetheart and their two homeschooled children.
Since trading her script pad for a keypad, Lisa has never looked back. Inspired by changes in her own diet and health, her blog The Domestic Life Stylist offers posts on healthy living. Lisa passionately believes that food/wellness (and not pharmaceuticals) are the first line to attaining optimal health…self-care is a necessity (not a luxury)…and “momming” with style is not an oxymoron.
Lisa is frequent tv guest and has appeared on shows like the Dr. Oz show and Good Morning Washington. She’s also the author of the popular e-book, “7 Dangerous Health Mistakes Every Mom Makes”.
Lisa became at Toy Insider Parent in 2018. Connect with her on Twitter @Dlifestylist.
Debbie Zelasny was an elementary school teacher for over a decade before taking the plunge into the world of motherhood and blogging. She now owns and operates The Jersey Momma, an entertaining website for families and fun-seekers of all ages. Debbie loves going on adventures with her family, trying out new toys, giving travel advice, and sharing a myriad of cool stuff on her blog. She’s not afraid to let her inner child shine through and she doesn’t think you should be either. Debbie’s writing has been featured in The Mailbox Magazine, Yahoo! Voices, Pink Cake Box, and Thrive Global. She also really, really loves her dog.
Debbie became at Toy Insider Parent in 2018. Connect with her on Twitter @TheJerseyMomma.
Family Travel Guru
Allison loves to play! Her entire business focuses around playing. For her job, she gets to ride roller coasters at theme parks, zip line across cruise ships, or snorkel with turtles in Hawaii. She created and runs an online travel business at www.destinationsinflorida.com, specializing in family travel. She gets to travel around the world playing with her husband and two kids (Kelly and Hunter). You can follow along with The Jones Family on a travel YouTube channel called Jones Family Travels or at jonesfamilytravels.com.
Allison became at Toy Insider Parent in 2018. Connect with her on Twitter @JonesTravels.