September 14, 2021

GIVEAWAY: Roar Like A Lion (Kids Devotional Book)

With eye-catching art, fascinating stories and facts, Bible verses and prayers, and simple action steps, this 90-day devotional will help your kids approach both fun moments and tough times with their hearts set on God's faithfulness.
 
Roar Like a Lion covers highly relevant topics such as:
  • Facing fears about school and friendships
  • Dealing with peer pressure and bullying
  • Handling new challenges, disappointments, and grief
  • Having courage to try something new
  • Understanding how we each fit into God's great story

My kids have really enjoyed this so far. For reference my kids are 9, 8, 5 & 1. Each devotional is 2 pages long, with some application and then some fun facts. My oldest son, Braeden, loves learning facts about people, places and animals. He just soaks it up, so I can see him doing this devotional for a long time coming!


WIN IT: 1 physical copy of Roar Like A Lion
Note: This giveaway is limited to US winners only. 


 #RoarLikeALionMIN #roarlikealion #tommynelsonbooks 

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive the product in exchange for this review and post.

September 09, 2021

NEW SHOW TO WATCH: VINDICATION

 

Vindication is a unique crime drama series that alters the perception of faith-based entertainment. Detective Travis (Todd Terry, Breaking Bad) has spent 15 years solving cases in the small town of East Bank, Texas. When the addition of an eager trainee upends his routine, Travis is forced to adjust his ways while balancing a growing number of suspiciously consistent cases. At home, tensions between the cynical detective and his devoutly religious wife escalate when their estranged daughter returns home.

My husband and I watch shows like Big Brother, The Equalizer and In the dark....some reality and some crime shows. We like a mix of shows, but we find we are often out of new episodes to watch on TV or our streaming channels, which is why I love discovering new shows we can watch together. We watched a few episodes of Vindication on Pureflix together. If I'm being honest the acting is not the best, but it's entertaining. Each episodes has the same detective but a different plot and a different crime to solve. There isn't anything graphic or disturbing so even those with a weak stomach can enjoy this show.

#VindicationMIN

September 07, 2021

Passing the Time!

 

Let's face it, during the pandemic and the stay at home order I scoured the web for ways to keep myself and my kiddos busy, and I found some really fun options. We discovered online art classes and Youtube videos. My son and I took up crocheting (it was short lived for him, but I've been doing it for years). My big kids and I sewed our own stuffed animals, and even a few stuffed monsters, and puppets from socks. We also learned how to type using an online typing class (typingclub, as seen above). We actually had challenges to see who could type faster or type with the most accuracy. It was actually really fun! We like to challenge each other. We also found some really fun online gaming options and apps. 

Not only did my kids introduce me to popular games like Minecraft, Roblox, Pet Shop and Township (which I may or may not have been addicted to for a solid 6 months), but I found online gaming sites that provide free entertainment, and some educational games too (splashlearn & prodigy). So while my kids were occupied with fun educational sites, I decided to see what was out there for me and I found sites with games for all ages (https://www.solitaire.org/) with a host of games to choose from. This site has games like solitaire. They also have pyramid where you have to find pairs of cards to equal 13 in hopes of clearing them all. These are only a few games available; there are so many more, and FREE to play!

So after we learned to sew, bake, draw, crochet, type and game, it was time to get back to the real world (at least some of the time), so we started taking more family walks around our neighborhood, having picnics, taking day trips to the park or the beach, playing basketball outside, re-learning to ride bikes at a nearby parking lot and much more. I think it's really important to have a healthy balance. Screen time and learning new hobbies is great, but it's also important to enjoy nature, and connect with other people close to you.



I hope this gave you some ideas if you are still under the stay at home order, recovering from an illness or injury, or just looking for ways to pass the time!

July 31, 2021

The Nature of Small Birds - A Book Review


 In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adoptive family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival into their lives.

Though her father supports Mindy's desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he'll lose the daughter he's poured his heart into. Mindy's mother undergoes the emotional roller coaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy's sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family--but also speak of the beauty of overcoming.

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code.
 

My Thoughts: 

I thought I would love this book being a parent of adopted children, but I really hated that it went back-and-forth between four or five characters so it made it very hard to follow who was telling each chapter. We are in the past in one chapter with a female narrator, and in the next we jump to the future and it's from a man's perspective. No only changing people, but also changing time frames. The story was interesting, as I was not familiar with operation babylift, but it didn’t really grip my attention the way other adoption books have in the past.  I’m only giving this one three stars out of five.

June 05, 2021

Dino Stroll - life like dinosaurs up close and personal!

Dino Stroll, produced by Canterbury Village Events, is the only tour that lets you walk along and stand next to over 75 life-like and life-size dinosaurs standing over 25 feet tall and spanning over 60 feet long, including T-Rex, Velociraptors and Stegosaurus, just to name a few. During Dino Stroll, the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center will be transformed into the Mesozoic Era with prehistoric dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, throughout! 

Dino Stroll is the most realistic tour back into history with animatronic dinosaurs that are created with moving heads, necks, tails, wings, eyes blinking, mouths that open and close, breathing movements, synchronized sounds and many more exquisite details that bring them to life. 

Dino
 Stroll has a national charitable giving initiative to support those struggling within the communities of each city they visit.  In Philadelphia, Dino Stroll has partnered with PACS (Phoenixville Area Community Services) and will be hosting a food drive encouraging attendees to bring canned or non-perishable food items to the event.  There will be collection bins located at the front entrance for Dino Stroll.  By collaborating together, all collected food items will then be donated to help children and families in the Phoenixville area facing hunger and food insecurities. 

WHEN:       Dino Stroll will take place June 5-6, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m  

WHERE:     Greater Philadelphia Expo Center 

As you can see my kids had a blast, especially my older son, Braeden (pictured here). He brought along a pack of dinosaur cards (in his hand) so he could match up the cards with the dinosaurs we were seeing. It was like having our own little tour guide with us, providing us with additional facts on each type! Some were inflatables, while others were mechanical with moving pieces. If you have young ones who enjoy dinosaurs they would really enjoy this!

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See this site for other location dates/times: www.DinoStroll.com

June 01, 2021

Giveaway: Sesame Street: Cool Counting Collection DVD

Los Angeles – On Sesame Street, you can count on your friends … and count with them, too! Sesame Street: Cool Counting Collection will be available on DVD and digital download on June 8, 2021 from Shout Kids and Sesame Workshop. Join Elmo, Abby, Cookie Monster, and more as they sing, play, and laugh their way from 1 to 20. Learning numbers has never been more fun—or more furry!

Animations, songs, and favorite moments from recent seasons make counting as easy as, well, 1-2-3! Celebrity friends help the little ones practice their numbers, too: Elvis Costello wants to count to 10, but he’s missing an important number; Feist sings about her favorite number 4; and Liam Neeson gets an acting lesson from Count von Count while they count to 20.
 
The DVD is packed with over two hours of fun and comes complete with bonus features, including quintessential counting segments from Elmo’s World and Abby’s Flying Fairy School. Also included with the DVD is a Count with Elmo! mini-book for young fans.
 
Bonus Features:
·        Street Story: Numeric-Con
·        Street Story: Elmo and Zoe’s Hat Contest
·        Abby’s Flying Fairy School: Sheepytime
·        Elmo’s World: Counting

Currently in its 51st season, Sesame Street is the country’s longest-running children’s television program and has received more Emmy® Awards than any other show in television history.

WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:

My 5 year old loves Sesame Street so he was thrilled to get this in the mail. He's watched it almost every day since and he said "I was so happy that it had special features." It not only allowed him to build on his counting skills but also gave mom a little break during the day. He does not watch TV or moving normally, so it was nice to find something educational that he really enjoyed!!!

WIN IT: One reader will win a copy of this DVD

HOW TO ENTER: a Rafflecopter giveaway  

May 26, 2021

GIVEAWAY: Gary LeVox (formerly Rascal Flatts)

Gary LeVox, former lead singer of Rascal Flatts, is releasing his first solo EP, ONE ON ONE! 

Gary LeVox's ONE ON ONE released Friday, May 21st and fuses two of his biggest passions - music and faith! 
 
When asked about the role God has played in his musical journey, LeVox said, “I feel like God graced us with a platform where we can not only touch people’s lives through music, but by being men of God offstage too,” explained LeVox. “At those times when we are with fans that are going through something like cancer, it is so wonderful to not only sing for them but to hold their hand and pray with them. I want them to know that they have a friend in me. I’m not just some guy on the stage. I feel like Christ has put me in this position because He knew I could handle the obligation, which often means taking the time to lift someone up in prayer.”

I always loved Rascal Flatts. I even saw them in concert once and it was amazing. I didn't realize that they were also men of God at the time. I think it's amazing that Gary could transition from country to Christian and express his faith in song. Not only do I love the sound of his voice, but I've been listening to the words of the songs and they are very reassuring and calming. Some are about doubts, some about love and kindness. We need more of that, especially right now! I think this will be a big hit!

The music is OUT now, so listen today!

GIVEAWAY: Win a signed 8x10 Gary LeVox poster

HOW TO ENTER:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Many thanks to Capitol Christian Music Group for providing this product/product information for review.  Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

#GaryLeVoxMIN #MomentumInfluencerNetwork

May 25, 2021

Our To-Do List During Covid

So for those of you who know my husband and I, you know that I am the more laid back one, and he is more type A/go go go. He always has to have a project (or ten) going at a time or on his to-do list. It's very hard for him to relax, so the stay-at-home order was a personal challenge for him, to see how many things he could get done during this time. COVID was a time to do all the projects on his bucket list. I thought it was time to read some good books, do some artwork, and bake a TON! I got to do some of that, but also got ropes into many of these house and garden projects, but to be fair, we get so much more done around the house because of his desire to make things better and make things happen. We make a great team when it comes to projects because I don't think to do them, but once I'm given a task, I'll get it done (in between caring for 3 small humans, of course).

If you are curious what was on this bucket list, let me name a few:

1. Repaint the stucco on our home

2. Landscape our front garden

3. Repaint the garage doors (they're black now, and were white before)

4. Plant trees in our yard (Yes, we've removed 30+ since moving in, LOL)

5. Mulch the garden beds

6. Switch out my son's (Gavin) nursery into a big-boy room

7. Paint molding inside the house

8. Organize my son's (Braeden) closet [he had no rod before and needed one]

9. Install a Ninja gym in back yard [the kids barely used it, so we took it down after the season]

10. Re-do our powder room

These are only a handful of projects, but the last one is the one I had the most say in. Our previous powder room was a mid tone tan shade. Not warm and not cool, just a neutral medium tan. Nothing fancy. The fixtures were bronze, mirror was black, and floor was brown. It had been bothering my husband for awhile that it wasn't "fresh" and that the vanity counter was starting to crack. It lacked personality so my husband opted to have crown molding added, and we picked a nice spring green to paint the walls.  We are still working on the final touches, but it's coming together thanks to a photo we got from photowall. They have wall paper, canvas prints and poster with all sorts of images, patterns and colors to pick from. We chose a black and white canvas that came in a box and we had to assemble, which was strange. I'm used to art coming assembled, but it wasn't difficult at all, just surprising. As you can see from the photo, it looks fresh and ready for guests.

Many thanks for Photowall for allowing us to pick a print for our project. It turned out really well!

May 20, 2021

Ways To Pass The Time

Let's face it, during the pandemic and the stay at home order I scoured the web for ways to keep myself and my kiddos busy, and I found some really fun options. We discovered online art classes and Youtube videos. My son and I took up crocheting (it was short lived for him, but I've been doing it for years). My big kids and I sewed our own stuffed animals, and even a few stuffed monsters, and puppets from socks. We also learned how to type using an online typing class (typingclub, as seen above). We actually had challenges to see who could type faster or type with the most accuracy. It was actually really fun! We like to challenge each other. We also found some really fun online gaming options and apps. 

Not only did my kids introduce me to popular games like Minecraft, Roblox, Pet Shop and Township (which I may or may not have been addicted to for a solid 6 months), but I found online gaming sites that provide free entertainment, and some educational games too (splashlearn & prodigy). So while my kids were occupied with fun educational sites, I decided to see what was out there for me and I found sites with games for all ages (plays.org) with a host of games to choose from. This site has games like mini golf 2D, which at first I thought would be easy, but it got harder each round, introducing hills and obstacles to hit the ball over. They also have connect the dots where a shape or animal pops up and the child has to connect the dots in order from 1 to 2, 2 to 3 and so on, until the shape is finished. It's timed so it forces kids to count with some fluency. It's a great beginner game for toddlers and little kids. They also have an online foosball game which my older kids will LOVE. They were obsessed with the real game last summer when they had a chance to play...and these are only a few games available; there are so many more, and FREE to play!

So after we learned to sew, bake, draw, crochet, type and game, it was time to get back to the real world (at least some of the time), so we started taking more family walks around our neighborhood, having picnics, taking day trips to the park or the beach, playing basketball outside, re-learning to ride bikes at a nearby parking lot and much more. I think it's really important to have a healthy balance. Screen time and learning new hobbies is great, but it's also important to enjoy nature, and connect with other people close to you.


I hope this gave you some ideas if you are still under the stay at home order, recovering from an illness or injury, or just looking for ways to pass the time!

May 07, 2021

Rethinking things during a global pandemic

I feel like this global health crisis has made so many of us rethink our lives - what we value, what we enjoy, where we spend our money, where we live, what we need in life and more. In a time when there are so many uncertainties we've had to change the way we live, and that may include changing how we approach money or the home we live in.

Many of us have gone from a daily commute to working from home which created a challenge all of its own. If you were used to working in a quiet remote office, it would be quite an adjustment to working on the kitchen table surrounded by loud children, or noisy neighbors. Many people have had to rethink their living arrangements because this turned out to be a longer term situation than many of us had originally thought. Some people had a smaller living space, but now need a home office so they're looking to purchase a larger home. Or perhaps you're in the opposite boat, and were in a large home which you now can't afford due to financial strain of this pandemic and you must downsize.  A third scenario would be maybe you have the space, but just need to reallocate how your space is used. Your former dining room may need to become your office for the foreseeable future. There are many ways to create a home office so you can remain in your current home. You have to think about your living situation to determine which is the right decision for you.

I have always been a planner and saver and in times like these I am grateful for my Plan B's and Plan C's, but not everyone thinks like I do. This is why being wise with the money you have, especially when planning to purchase a home, this is crucial!  There are many ways to make your money go further and ways to stretch the money you have. Stopping unnecessary entertainment services, perhaps going from two cars to one is not a feasible option, or perhaps lowering a cell phone plan because you're all together now would be an option. The first step should be eliminating all non essential costs so you know what you have to work with moving forward!

If purchasing a new home is in the cards for you, either because you can't maintain the home you have, or because you need more space than you have, there are many sites that help you calculate what your mortage would be and see what you can afford. Look at your costs each month against your bills and expenditures. The amount you have to spend may be less than before this pandemic, but you should work within your means and only look at homes you can easily afford. I feel it's always smart to plan for an emergency, so you aren't stuck when one arises.

So regardless of the situation you find yourselves in, this health crisis has made all of us stop and think about our lives. What is working? What is not working? What do we need to change? If you need to make some big changes in your life, it's always helpful to do research, talk to trusted sources, and make decisions when you have ALL the information. 

Stay safe and keep on going!

March 15, 2021

Ready to Live Again!

Sometimes you just want to dress up, even if there isn't anywhere to go, but 2020 really took a hit on my wardrobe and how I put myself together. I'll be honest, there are items in my closet with the tags still on, that I purchased before the pandemic hit. There are cute items that I really wanted to wear on my next mom's night out or outing with my family, but come March 2020, as many of you know, things came to a screeching halt for many of us. What used to make many of use feel pretty or put together went out the window and were quickly replaced by sweatpants and slippers. No more LBD's, no more sexy heels, fancy hair do's, glam makeup etc. Sometimes it was hard to feel like myself without all the pizazz.   

Now, as the pandemic winds down (fingers crossed), and things open back up, you may be anxiously waiting the day when you can walk back into a store and actually try things on (foreign concept; I know), especially if you love shopping and posting the perfect OOTD pics on the gram.  Perhaps you miss enjoying fine cuisine and the company of good friends. I personally miss the days of testing makeup products in stores like Sephora and Ulta, to pick just the right shade. Everyone has an area where they can't wait for the "normal" to start again. Hopefully that day will come soon, and we can enjoy the things we once used to without abandon!

February 25, 2021

When Twilight Breaks - By Sarah Sundin

 

Munich, 1938. Evelyn Brand is an American foreign correspondent as determined to prove her worth in a male-dominated profession as she is to expose the growing tyranny in Nazi Germany. To do so, she must walk a thin line. If she offends the government, she could be expelled from the country--or worse. If she fails to truthfully report on major stories, she'll never be able to give a voice to the oppressed--and wake up the folks back home.

In another part of the city, American graduate student Peter Lang is working on his PhD in German. Disillusioned with the chaos in the world due to the Great Depression, he is impressed with the prosperity and order of German society. But when the brutality of the regime hits close, he discovers a far better way to use his contacts within the Nazi party--to feed information to the shrewd reporter he can't get off his mind.

This electric standalone novel from fan-favorite Sarah Sundin puts you right at the intersection of pulse-pounding suspense and heart-stopping romance.

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I must admit that as a kid history class was my least favorite of all. I did not enjoy learning about the wars and battles and timelines and dates, but as an adult I can't get enough historical fiction novels, especially written by Sarah Sundin. She brings the characters and places to life. It truly makes me feel like I'm in the book, invested in the characters (of course, without all the danger of actually being there). She is a very gifted writer, and I jump at the chance to read any new book she comes out with!

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