Monday, June 18, 2018

Summer Reading Takes You Outdoors with Arbordale Publishing

With school ending and summer vacation in full swing, Arbordale Publishing is once again kicking off their summer reading program. This year they have 10 dual-language ebooks free on the website, paired with activities to inspire outdoor fun.

Arbordale Publishing has handpicked 10 books that showcase animals found in your backyard and others that might require a trip to see. Either way, learning about nature is always fun. Go from the screen to outside for a scavenger hunt, start your own kids' book club, or learn about seashells even if you can’t get to the beach!

Looking for book giveaways? Follow on Facebook (Arbordale Kids), or Twitter (@ArbordaleKids), as they will be hosting giveaways throughout the summer for Summer Reading participants. #ArbordaleLovesSummer

I received no compensation for this post.  This post is in partnership with Arbordale Publishing.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Jarlsberg Cheese - Specialty Cheese Review

Whether as a snack or included in a main dish, I like cheese.  I'm pretty open to flavors and varieties.  Although they've been around since 1956, I only recently learned about Jarlsberg Cheese.  How did I not know about this company until now?!

Jarlsberg® is famous around the world for its characteristic mild, sweet and nutty taste and its large round holes.  As part of the legend, the recipe is a big deal of being a guarded secret in Norway. Jarlsberg® Cheese is endorsed by the Good Housekeeping Nutritionist Approved Emblem. All Jarlsberg Cheese varieties are naturally lactose and gluten free.

In addition to specialty cheese, Jarlsberg also crafts cheese snacks and Cheese Crisps.  I served both to my Small Group one Tuesday evening.  The individually wrapped cheese snacks were perfect to grab, unwrap, and eat.  I dumped the Cheese Crisps into a bowl and they offered delicious taste with a crisp crunch.  Small Group lasts a little over two hours and that's all it took for both kinds of cheese snacks to be gone.  They were a hit!

Have you ever tried Jarlsberg Cheese?

Which flavor of Cheese Crisps would you like best:
Chipotle (the flavor we tried)
 Rosemary & Olive Oil
 Garlic & Herb or 
 Mediterranean Sea Salt?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Alex & Me - #AlexandMe Blu-ray Giveaway

I will receive product in exchange for this post from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.  This post contains embedded widgets.

Get ready to fall in love with Alex & Me!  It’s an inspirational tale for the whole family.

Soccer superstar Alex Morgan scores her movie debut with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in the full-length feature film Alex & Me on Blu-ray™ & DVD June 19, 2018. Also featuring Nickelodeon star Siena Agudong (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn and the upcoming Star Falls), the film follows the uplifting story of a young female athlete who learns how you need passion, determination and self-worth to make all your dreams come true.

Alex & Me will be available on Blu-ray (SRP $24.98), DVD (SRP $19.98) and Digital (SRP $14.99).

About Alex & Me

Teenager Reagan Willis (Agudong) has one dream – to play soccer like her hero, Alex Morgan. Her bedroom is a shrine to all things Alex, including a life-size poster of the Olympic gold medalist. Yet in the Willis house, Reagan lives in the shadow of her prep football superstar brother, Logan. When Reagan fails to make the cut of the premiere local soccer club team and is humiliated by her rival Claire, she’s certain her ship has sailed. But after accidentally hitting her head, Reagan’s poster of Alex Morgan suddenly comes to life and everything changes!

An Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion with a penchant for goal scoring, Alex Morgan is one of the top soccer players on the planet, currently playing forward for the United States Women's National Team and the Orlando Pride of the National Women's Soccer League. Away from the field, Morgan is also an accomplished author of “The Kicks” series, a collection of chapter books filled with wonderful messages of empowerment for young girls. The first The Kicks book, “Saving the Team,” debuted at No. 7 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

Eric Champnella (Thunderstruck, Mr. 3000, Eddie) wrote the Alex & Me screenplay and is also making his full-length feature debut as the film’s director. Alex Morgan serves as co-producer. Producers are Mike Karz (Blended) and William Bindley (Mother’s Day). Todd Williams (The Illusionist) is the executive producer.

Jerry Trainor (iCarly) also stars as Nigel, a less-than-reliable youth soccer coach, alongside Matt Cornett (Bella and the Bulldogs) as Reagan’s brother, Logan; Colin Critchley (Legends of the Hidden Temple) as Reagan’s soccer-playing pal, Ben; Chuiti Tiu (Nashville) as Reagan’s mother, Ann Wills; and Jim Klock (True Detective, Scream Queens) as Reagan’s father (and biggest fan), Joe Wills. Jessica Treska (HBO’s upcoming Sharp Objects) plays Reagan’s arch-rival, Claire.


• Getting to Know Alex
• Aspire to Inspire: Success in Hard Work
• Soccer, Script to Set: A Playbook on Alex & Me
• Outtake

Alex & Me Soccer Emoji Creator Blog App:

• Create your own Soccer Emoji and share it with the world! Pick your player's look, signature move, and fun tagline.

• Setting goals is key to success, and the sooner your kids learn that the better they'll be prepared for life. Download the Family Goal Chart and have your kids set and mark off goals.

Win It!

One person will win Alex & Me on Blu-ray.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA. Each household is only eligible to win Alex & Me Blu-ray via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.*

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Go Organically's Four Creative Ways to Celebrate Father's Day

With Father's Day quickly approaching, here are some creative ideas on how to celebrate Father's Day, courtesy of Go Organically Fruit Snacks. Though traditional gifts have their place, most fathers could probably do without another "World's Greatest Dad" mug or hobby-themed tchotchke (we're looking at you, golf ball statue!). So in the name of doing away with dust collectors, Go Organically has put together these four creative ideas for celebrating Father's Day that dad is sure to love.

Take a hike. Buy dad a cool piece of hiking gear—like a trendy, insulated water tumbler or an old-school compass—and attach an invitation to go hiking together that very day. After all, what better time to hit the trails than a Sunday in June? Up the stakes by printing out Nature Bingo cards that let you check off items as you see them—from squirrels to berries to ant hills and beyond.

one of our favorite memory books

Make a memory book. Get those pics off your phone and into dad's hands! While social media is convenient, there's nothing like showcasing photos and preserving memories in a tactile, hard copy format. Print a dozen or so favorite family snapshots, and paste them in a mini scrap book along with handwritten captions and mementos like ticket stubs or hand-drawn artwork. Dad will be proud to display the book on the family coffee table or at his workplace.

Have a "favorite foods" feast. Make a meal out of all of dad's most-loved eats—even if they don't seem to go together! Set the table with a plate of bacon, a bowl of mango, a side of potato chips and a meatball sub...or whatever suits his fancy!

Send him on a wild goose chase. On Father's Day morning, present dad with a rhyming "clue" written on an index card. One clue should link to the next clue, ultimately leading dad to the final destination—and his gift! For example:​​​
Clue #1: "It's Father's Day morning. Get up and go! Start your day with a cup of joe."
Clue #2 taped to coffee pot: "Breakfast in bed is what you crave. But first wash up and have a shave."
Clue #3 taped to bathroom vanity: "You're on the trail and your gift is near. Behind the wheel is where you steer."
Clue #4 taped to car steering wheel: "We couldn't get you a brand new ride. But open the glove box and look inside!"
Inside glove box: Include a Happy Father's Day note along with a handy car accessory, such as a gas card or a USB phone charger.

Which of these creative ideas do you like best?
Have you tried Go Organically Fruit Snacks?

I will receive products in exchange for this post.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Watermelon Smash - #WatermelonSmashChallenge Game Review

Hot days call for cool toys.  For a fun twist to the water roulette challenge, take a chance with Watermelon Splash.  It's a new game introduced by YULU Toys.  Players take turns spinning the spinner to determine their fate. Following the spinners' instructions, players press the watermelon against their head. When the watermelon opens, that player is out of the game and wet with water. 

The plastic watermelon comes in two pieces.  There is a rectangular bar on one piece and a hole in the other.  When the two are connected, the watermelon is one whole piece.  No batteries are required.

Players take turns spinning the spinner.  Whichever number it lands on is the number of times the player must tap the watermelon against their head.  That's where the suspense begins!  If timing is just right, the watermelon will "crack" and the player will get wet.  The player who is dry at the end wins.

Kids seem to enjoy playing Watermelon Splash and I love to hear them squeal in suspense, waiting to see if they'll get wet.  The watermelon doesn't pour out enough water to drench someone but does pour out enough that it gets the player a little saturated.  

If you want to play inside, there are plastic watermelon seeds included.  Instead of water, the seeds will spill out when the watermelon cracks.

Will you end up dry or getting splashed when the watermelon gets smashed on your head?!   That's the fun of Watermelon Splash!

I received product for review from YULU Toys.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Claire's - Show Off Your Stars and Stripes for 40% Off

Claire’s is an iconic brand known for being a fun and exciting fashion accessory destination for kids and teens to embrace their own style.  Customers can find a whole host of products such as jewelry, hair accessories, beauty, sunglasses, cell phone cases, bedroom d├ęcor, and more.

Right now you can shop Claire's 4th of July accessories and receive 40% off.  This offer expires June 18, 2018.

This post contains an affiliate link. Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services. Your opinions and results may differ.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

MySoftsoap: Customized Hand Soap - Review

I'm a sap for personalized products.  Whether I'm purchasing something as a gift for someone else or as a keepsake for myself, I think it's got a cooler effect if it's personalized.  Personalized details make all the difference, especially when it comes to adding the right accent piece to your home or throwing the perfect birthday party. What better way to tie a party’s theme together than with a custom created MySoftsoap bottle to accent every sink in your home.

I'm a fan of Softsoap hand soap to begin with, so I was super excited to learn that I could customize my own hand soap with that brand.  Choosing all the details was easy. 

First, you select a scented formula out of four available.  There's Fresh Scent, Wild Basil & Lime, Peony & Plum, and Jasmine & Mint.  I chose the latter.  Then you choose which layout and pattern you'd like.  There's many to choose from.  Photos, monograms, and messages can be added based upon which layout you choose.  Some of the pattern categories include wedding, kids, and holiday.  I went with a floral design.

If you want to include a photo, you will need to upload it from your computer.  I used a photo of me and Jason that was taken in the Spring.  The next step is adding text.  You even have the option to select which color text and font you want.  Mine has "The Heck's" written in red cursive font.  Once that step is complete, you can review your design and place an order.  MySoftsoap will create two bottles of the same design, so you will receive two hand soaps for a little over $20. 

I am super pleased with how MySoftsoap turned out and how it adds flair to my home decor.  One bottle is in my bathroom and the other is in my kitchen.  I've received numerous compliments on them.  Once the liquid hand soap is gone, I can refill the bottles to use again and again.

How would you customize MySoftsoap for yourself?  Which photo, pattern or message would you use?
I received products for review from Colgate-Palmolive.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Disceez Flying Disc - Review and Giveaway

Technology is great but I'm a big advocate for active play.  Going outdoors and playing with friends, doing different games and activities, keeps kids full of life.  Disceez are a new-ish flying disc that promote active play and the development of hand-eye coordination.  

Disceez precision flying discs are the ultimate "Thing to Fling". Compact and lightweight, Disceez fly straighter and further than other discs while performing aerial drifts and awesome stunts.  Disceez are easier to fly due to its ultra-light construction, smaller size and more stable flights. They are also easier to catch with a unique soft rubber grip.

There are three performance types of Disceez to choose from, and you can see which is which by looking at the package.  I received a Disceez in the pixel design and it is the Cuda performance type, made for greater distance.  

Disceez are not hard or plastic like traditional flying discs.  They are made with a light silicone construction.  Disceez are very bendable and flexible.  Due to their design, Disceez are meant to be easier to throw and catch.

Disceez performs equally well indoors as they do outdoor because they are safe on impact. The collapsible core won't damage household objects like traditional flying discs.  Logan's been throwing our Disceez both inside and outside, so I can vouch that it won't destroy your things!  

In fact, one might think that Disceez isn't much because it looks like a thin silicone disc with a neat design.  There's not a whole lot to it.  But, it actually does fly high, fast, far, and mostly accurate!  
Because of how they're made, Disceez are ultra-portable and flexible.  You can fold it up and stash it in your pocket.  Right now, there are 24 designs of Disceez.  Each design is printed in limited numbers and have a rarity level which is indicated on the package.  The Disceez I received has a medium rarity level.  An all new series of designs will be introduced in 2019 and the current designs will be discontinued.  So, if Disceez are something that interest you for a fun game or to collect, be sure to get your desired designs now!

Win It!

One person will win a Disceez flying disc.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received product for review from Worx Toys.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
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Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 126

I believe in a God that hears prayers and answers them. I've witnessed the miraculous gift of answered prayer. And, I want to pray for you. I've started weekly Power of Prayer post every Thursday. We are now on week 126.  If you are needing prayer in an area of your life, please leave a comment and I'll commit to pray for your need or request. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Whether it be for healing, salvation, finances, emotions, or another area of life, I'd like to lift it up in prayer.

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
–Galatians 2:20

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Ranger Rick Kids' Guide to Hiking - Book Review

Book Overview:

Ranger Rick Kids’ Guide to Hiking shows you everything you need to know to have the most amazing hiking experiences! The book includes a real working compass that will help you find your way.

Hiking is more than just a walk in the woods. Every outing is an adventure, and you never know what a hike will bring. By reading this book, you’ll learn where to go to hike, when to go, what to wear, and what to bring with you. You’ll also learn how to take care of nature and how to stay safe while on the trail. But best of all, this book shows you how you can have the most fun while hiking.

For some kids, hiking itself might be adventure enough. But you can also bring along a nature journal or create land art. Bring a special hiking buddy with you—one who knows lots of good jokes, riddles, and games to pass the time. You can hike with your pooch, and believe it or not, you can even hike with llamas!

The more you know about hiking, the more fun you can have on your adventures. So read the tips in this book at home before you go, and then head for the great outdoors and use the compass to help you find your way. Happy hiking!

My Review:

I'm not an expert hiker by any means but enjoy going along offbeat trails once in a while.  I love listening to nature and viewing the Earth in its natural beauty.  When my kids were younger, we spent more time hiking than we do now.  I cherish the memories made, with very few distractions.

A book that will fascinate young hikers, Ranger Rick Kids' Guide to Hiking is written and illustrated in a way that's entertaining and understandable to kids.  Shoot, as an adult, I even found it interesting!  I learned how to spot poison ivy and poison oak.  I was given pointers on proper trail etiquette, and discovered what should go in a hiking bag.  A cartoon raccoon named Ranger Rick gives helpful pointers and tips, alongside realistic photos.  There's even a small working compass inlaid on the cover of the book.  If you plan on taking your kids on a hike, I definitely recommend this book as reading material.

I received book for review from Quarto Knows.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Hug-a-BooBoo - Kid's Bandages Review

Ever notice how a boo-boo seems to feel just a little bit better a little bit quicker when a child is wearing a band-aid with cute designs? Whatever works, I say.

A company that knows all about cute bandages is Hug-a-BooBoo.  The bandages feature animal characters with outstretched arms, ready to give a hug.  A hippo, bear, frog, and dog make up the cute characters.  There are 20 bandages to a box.

In addition to being child-friendly, Hug-a-BooBoo bandages have small amounts of extra padding in the "arms" of the characters, offering extra protection to the surrounding areas of the wound.  This patent-pending feature, called "Peripheral Wound Area Protection" (PWAP), provides an extra level of comfort, protection and reassurance.  Hug-a-BooBoo padding is also a whopping 18% thicker than the average child's bandage.

For these bandages in particular, I like that they are unisex.  I also like that they are packaged so each bandage character can be seen. With some bandages, they have cute designs but it is hard to tell which one is which due to how they're individually packaged. A child can choose which Hug-a-BooBoo bandage they'd like applied by visually looking at the bandage silhouettes.  Either way, they're going to get a cute animal character that helps heal wounds. 
Which Hug-a-BooBoo animal would your child like best?

I received products for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Wordful Wednesday - It's A Boy

Made you think I was talking about a baby by the title, huh!  

Someday, oh someday, I'll be blessed with bio grandchildren.  But, for now, I get grandkitties.  And recently, a new grandpuppy!  

Shelby and George (daughter and SIL) picked up the pup a couple months ago.  I'm as smitten with him as they are.  I don't know the breed but the parents must have been cute ;)

Kirito Sun Johnson was named after a Japanese character from Sword Art Online.  (Don't ask me anything else about it because I know Jack Squat about anime.)

Welcome to this crazy ole' family, Kirito!

Rahjae, my bonus granddaughter by marriage, holding the new pup

Drop It - Board Game Review and Giveaway

Getting a game out in my home means quality time with the family and some friendly competition. Although we have our favorites, we're not picky with what kind of games we play. Card games, board games, word name it, we'll play it.

Studies show that exercising in brain activities has many benefits, including sharpening the mind. Puzzles, board games, and logic books are great resources for putting the brain to work.  It is my belief that games sharpen the mind, form bonds, and bring out a healthy dose of competition.

Drop It is the newest family board game released by Thames & Kosmos.  Though easy to learn, Drop It is deceptively mind-boggling. One at a time, each player drops a shape into the vertical game board's drop zone. Players earn points for the highest level that their shape reaches when it lands and extra points for touching bonus circles. But be careful not to break the Landing Rule! The shape you drop is not allowed to touch matching shapes or colors after it lands. If you break a landing rule, you will go away empty-handed. The winner is the player or team with the most points at the end.  Drop It is recommended for ages 8 and above.

A game for 2-4 players or two teams, Drop It comes with fairly understandable instructions.  There is just a little assembly required to play. Included is a vertical board with base and a scoring track.  There are several green, blue, red, and yellow wooden shapes.  

Diagrams in the instruction manual shows how many of each shape a person should get based on how many people are playing.  Players start out by choosing one of their shapes, then dropping it in the drop zone.  You want to make sure your shape didn't break any of the landing rules.  For instance, your shape is not allowed to be touching any shapes of the same color and your shape is not allowed to be touching any areas marked by symbols of the same shape or color on the side or bottom edges of the drop zone.  

Points are determined on the highest level in which your shape landed.  You can also receive bonus points.  Variant ways to play the game are included in the instructions.  The person with the most points at the end of the game wins.

This game is competitive, fun, and challenging.  It definitely gets you thinking and strategizing!

Win It!

One person will win a Drop It board game.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I received product for review from Thames & Kosmos.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
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Saturday, June 9, 2018

MagnaReady: Magnetic Apparel for Men - Review

Necessity was the mother of invention for Maura Horton when she came up with the idea for MagnaReady®. Maura was inspired when her husband, a college football coach, had to rely on a player for help when the effects of Parkinson’s Disease prevented him from buttoning his shirt. Determined to help her husband remain independent, Maura came up with the idea of a magnetically infused shirt that did not require finger dexterity to wear. MagnaReady® is the original magnetic shirt company. 

I have to be honest, I've never heard of apparel that uses magnets as closures.  I was definitely interested in seeing how it worked.  I chose a black polo shirt in size XL and a dress shirt in size XXL for Jason.  Upon first looking at them, they didn't seem to be much different than other shirts he owns.  But, upon further inspection, we saw what made this apparel incredible - the magnetic infused closures!  

MagnaReady® shirts simplify the dressing process by eliminating the need to maneuver buttons through button holes. A patented magnetic closure system securely holds the shirt front closed. “Buttoning” up only requires overlapping the two sides of the shirt front and the magnets click together.  In other words, it's super easy to put the shirts on and take them off.  

The blue long sleeve dress shirt was neatly folded when received.  I did have to wash and dry it before being worn because it was wrinkly once I unfolded it.  After the first wear, Jason hasn't had any problems with wrinkles.

wearing the MagnaReady Birdseye Polo in black

The MagnaReady Birdseye Polo is crafted for a luxurious feel using a blended weave of Pima Cotton and Micro Polyester. Two decorative buttons are sewn at the neck on the shirt placket for a traditional polo aesthetic. The polo is cut for a classic fit, and is available in two colors. 

Jason doesn't really have a need for adaptive fashion at this time (or maybe ever) but we were still impressed with the long sleeve shirt and the polo.  Jason was a little apprehensive at first, wondering if the magnetic closures would stay close the entire time wearing them.  If you pull on the front of the shirts like The Hulk, they're going to easily open.  But, if you leave them alone and wear them like they should be, the shirts will not "unbutton".  Both shirts have a classic look and fit well.  Jason's been wearing them when working during church or while doing hospital ministry.

Don't pay attention to the chest hair on the left.  Divert your eyes to the right, where you'll see the square markings.  That's where the magnetic button closures are located.

Do you know someone with a need for adaptive fashion? 
Have you heard of MagnaReady?  

Friday, June 8, 2018

Mommy & Me: Baby Care Product Hacks for Mom - Giveaway

To celebrate all moms, Baby Magic is sharing helpful tips on how busy mothers can save time on their skincare routines – by using their favorite baby care products! While baby washes and lotions are gentle and soothing on baby’s skin, moms can also incorporate these items into their daily beauty habits. Check out favorite “mommy and me” baby care hacks below and see how moms can save time while taking care of their skin as well as baby’s!

·         Baby Magic's Original Hair & Body Wash (SRP: $2.99) is a perfect hypoallergenic product for both baby and mom’s sensitive skin! This wash can be used to bathe a little one and also as a gentle makeup remover. Plus it’s also tear-free and perfect for taking off stubborn mascara!

·         To keep your skin hydrated, Baby Magic’s Creamy Baby Oil (SRP: $2.99) is an amazing product to use after shaving! This Creamy Oil soothes and moisturizes skin and will give skin a beautiful glow.
Win It!

One person will win a bottle of Baby Magic Creamy Baby Oil and a bottle of Baby Magic Original Hair & Body Wash.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

I will receive products for review.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

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