Reviews, giveaways and memes - Jumpin Beans

23.4.17

Ways to Boost Kids' Self Esteem

Self Esteem in children is really important to me!  I used to be a greeter at Broxton's school in the morning and I would make sure to try and start their day off with a huge smile and let them know they were awesome.  You don't know how many high fives and smiles I have received walking through those doors.  This is a guest post, but one that I think is important.


Ways To Boost Kids’ Self-Esteem
For the first two quarters of the school year, Olivia’s grades were perfect, all A’s on the report card of the second grader. Olivia was involved in the school holiday play, she was in the inventor’s club, she got along with everyone and always looked forward to going to school.
Something changed once school started again after winter break. Olivia began to withdraw from her friends, she was making up illnesses to stay home and when she was at school, her grades were slipping.
After some prying, Olivia’s parents found the root of her problem: A new teacher had taken over her classroom after her original teacher took maternity leave. With the new instructor came a stricter environment, one that didn’t allow for students to voice their opinions or explore creative options in the classroom. One that didn’t show mutual honor and respect but strict discipline and negative reinforcement without freedom of expression. 
“Children need consistent guidance to build positive self-esteem. Knowing a few key strategies will help build solid foundations for children,” says Sharon Thayer, children’s advocate and author of the children’s book “If You Tell Me, I Can Fly” .
 “Verbally shooting a kid down can have a negative influence on his or her life, the same way showing respect and affirming a child’s positive behavior can have a negative effect.”
Once parents know it doesn’t take much effort and just takes consistent interaction and feedback over the course of time, one of the top gifts they can give is a positive sense of self. Building self-esteem is an on-going process that is not hard but has to be consistent.
Here are some ways to achieve that:
• Encourage kids to try something new. Art, music, sports, dance, summer camp, science clubs – a little time away from the electronics. Try to direct them toward some things where you know their success will come easily, but also let them choose options that will be challenging. It’s difficult to predict how new adventures will turnout, some will fizzle unexpectedly and what may appear to be a dead-end could be the beginning of a passion with no end.
• Acknowledge and compliment your children. When you notice moments of creativity, talent and genius, celebrate those milestones, accomplishments and improvements, but also acknowledge failures and attempts that don’t go well. Help them learn from their failures and see they are simply stepping stones on the path to success. The freedom to fail is vital to success. 
• Honor and respect children’s ideas, knowledge and opinions. Kids today have more knowledge in some areas than many of adults (i.e. electronics). That’s great, sit back and let them be your teacher, as you honor this reversal of roles. Include them in family decision-making processes and responsibilities – with power comes responsibility is a valuable lesson.
• Tell your children you believe in them and their dreams.Show your love every day; the successful, the average and the days of frustrations and failure. Regardless of their direction, accomplishments or disappointments, let your children see you are always there to help guide them through the maze to reach the goals they have chosen.
About Sharon Thayer
Sharon Thayer, a single mother of three and now a grandmother of five, has been an advocate for children throughout her life. Thayer is a graduate of Iowa State University, earning a degree in family services. She is the former director of Brass Ring Ranch in Littleton, Colo., a facility for survivors of abuse. Thayer later went on to start Kid Central, a nature-based childcare center in Conifer, Colo., for children ages 3 to 15. Thayer’s first children’s book, “The Myth of Santa’s Beard” was a national award winner and sold more than 20,000 copies. Her latest book, “If You Tell Me, I Can Fly”, has won a bevy of awards and includes versions for both boys and girls.

Mars TV Series #Giveaway #MarsDay

If you remember my earlier post, we have been enjoying the Mars TV Series.  Lucky for us, we were sent a review copy and that has been something we enjoyed watching as a family. I was excited to get it, for Broxton, but it has proved to be great for all of us. Now, one lucky reader will win a copy of their own!  Just enter the Rafflecopter below!


FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

If you didn't read my first post, head on over to read about preparing for life on Mars! Then, head back over here to enter the giveaway!

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22.4.17

Looking for a great birthday gift? @readysetgobox has you covered!

If you saw one of my latest Instagram posts, you surely have seen my post about Ready Set Go Boxes. I will totally admit I have a slight obsession with looking at all the goodies in these different subscription boxes.  They have boxes for everything and this Ready Set Go one is pretty cool!!!  
We were sent their BIRTHDAY BOX and it was full of goodies that we have enjoyed. They also have a monthly subscription service and I think that might be something we look at down the road.  The monthly boxes are packed with goodies for children aged 3-5 years old.  I know that my family calls and asks what my kids are into each month.  I have also had friends call and say, hey what do you recommend to give to a boy/girl and then list the age that they are looking to buy for. The Ready Set Go Box will help those that don't like asking for suggestions, but want to give a great gift!  

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

As I said, we were sent the Birthday Box from Ready Set Go and it was customized to include the "Happy Birthday Savannah" message on the top inside. (Do you see it?!)  I am going to pull that off and let her color it, then we can keep it with her birthday cards! No, it isn't her birthday yet, but I am never one to not stock in advance if I can!!!! Want to see the goodies inside?
Once you open the tissue paper, you see it really is full of goodies for kids that are on the go!  I loved that they include a paper tiara for her to wear.  You can color it, add stickers, or decorate it any way you want to. It is up to you (or the kid) to make it just the way they want it to look!  Isn't childhood about playing and having fun and letting your creativity shine?

I tried to do an "unboxing" video for you to see, but Broxton decided to act like a nut job with a silly accent and a goofy face and I was not about to put that online for the world to see.  Can't be mad at him, he was having a good time and really, isn't that what life is all about??
So, what was inside it??


READY?
SET.
GO!


We got a little BOOMCHICKAPOP popcorn.  (We love it, so that is one that we will be sharing!  If you haven't tried it, you need to read this post and then go to the store to grab a bag or twenty!)  
There were gummies in there.  Great for snacking ON THE GO! 
I loved that there was a book in there that was not only a book to read and enjoy, but it was also a coloring book!  Yes, crayons were included, so no need to worry about that! 
They also had an activity book, memory game and a magnetic sketch board.
Oh, since we are giving this for kids on the go, they also had hand sanitizer and even boogie wipes! 

Remember I said the birthday tiara was great to let them decorate?  They also include a bunch of stickers, great for doing just that, or adding to a sticker book! 
I love this box and really want to get one of the monthly boxes to check out.  I think this is a great box to give a child that has every angle covered.  Did you notice the same thing I did?? There is NOTHING in there that needs batteries!  Yes, just good old fashioned play time!!!! 
Now that I shared how awesome this is, let me add a little information about Ready Set Go Boxes to show just how cool they are...

What is ReadySetGo Box?
   ReadySetGo Box is a Monthly subscription box for children on the go. Each month, we send out a box full of hand selected games, toys, and activities that are perfect for children ages 3-5. All items are chosen for their educational and developmental qualities as well as portability. 

What are Birthday Boxes?
    I had numerous requests to start a Birthday themed box for parents to give to their children or family members as gifts. Each box include various games, activities, and snacks as well as a personalized Birthday Crown that they can color and wear for their special day. Our Birthday boxes are our only boxes in which you can specify a gender. All other ReadySetGo Boxes are perfect for boys and girls. Our Birthday boxes are suitable for ages 3-6 years. 

One more thing before you go.  I know you want to order a BIRTHDAY BOX for kids you know and love.  Brian (the creator) has made a special code for you to get 20% off a birthday box!!!  Yes, just head to the site and order.  Use the following code:  JUMPINBEANS20

19.4.17

Prepare for Life on Mars!!! #MarsDay

I don't know about the kids in your house, but around here, our likes and dislikes tend to change from one thing to the next, while others stay around forever.  The latest?  Broxton has really been into space, talking about the planets and the moon all the time.  I was thrilled when we were selected to be sent a copy of the National Geographic Mars t.v. series.  Except, when it arrived, I was informed "mom, you know I am not into SPACE stuff these days!"  Well, excuse me, you were (as of last week,) so I thought it was cool.  I ignored him no-longer having an interest and started the Blu-Ray for me to watch.
FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation


As I started watching, I was tempted to turn it off.  Hey, I am just being real with you guys.  It was sort of over my head and I was having a hard time getting into it.  Space is NOT my thing, so I think that was it.  I kept watching though and soon enough, I noticed Broxton stopped playing his Wii and was watching the show.  Marc stopped what he was doing and was watching the show.  It was neat to me how it pulled us all together to sit and watch.  I will admit, I started getting into it, as I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Here are our thoughts:
Broxton liked it, since he decided that space was his thing still.
I liked the fictional part of it, since it makes me want to know what happens next.
Marc likes that it goes back and forth, historical references and facts, then you have the mixed in fictional story.  (It jumps from 2016 to 2033 throughout each episode.)
I think we all liked how it makes you think.
Examples-
Would you go on a mission knowing you might not make it to complete the mission, much less return home?
What would you pack to survive out there?
How do they know how much oxygen to pack for each person?
We wanted to know how they slept in space, so we had to google that. They can strap down sleeping bags, if you wanted to know!

We have yet to finish it, but we are planning to watch more episodes AS A FAMILY each night to see them all.  Make sure you check it out, I am sure you will enjoy it too. (Even if space isn't your thing!) This series is available now to purchase!

11.4.17

Heads up on a great movie!!! #Giveaway #SINGMovie #SINGAway

Stop what you are doing right now and go purchase the movie, Sing.  We were able to review it recently and we all loved it.  We had a family movie night to see it and it was a great one.  We even had Marc watching it with us and everyone from the youngest to the oldest loved it. 

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.


Savannah and Broxton both love music, so I thought this was going to be a good one for us to enjoy. Broxton wanted to set it up like a movie theater.  We had to dim the lights, then turn them off all the way. We had drinks and snacks and we made the most out of it.  Remember, sometimes it is the little things that mean the most!!!!
So, what is SING???

SING Special Edition is available with 3 New Mini-Movies on March 21 – just in time for Friday Family Movie Night!
From Illumination Entertainment, the studio that brought you THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS comes an animated comedy about finding the music that lives inside all of us.
SING stars Matthew McConaughey as Buster Moon, an eternally optimistic koala who puts on the world’s greatest singing competition to save his crumbling theater; winner Reese Witherspoon as Rosita, an overworked and underappreciated mother of 25 piglets desperate to unleash her inner diva; Scarlett Johansson as Ash, a punk rock porcupine with a beautiful voice behind her prickly exterior; and Taron Egerton as Johnny, a young gangster gorilla looking to break free of his family’s felonies.
SING is the musical comedy event of the year!





This would be great to give for an Easter gift!!! (Or an I LOVE YOU gift!)  Head on out and buy a copy for your house... but before you go, enter to win a copy on here!  If you win, you can give lots and lots of laughs to a friend!

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10.4.17

Believe It or Not! Ripley is now publishing board books - ODDphabet & Wacky 1-2-3

I love books and love that my children seem to love them as well.  We have them in pretty much every single room in our house.  They are in the car, when I take my purse, I normally have one or two small ones in there for Savannah. Not too long ago she went to the dentist. (FIRST TIME! Mommy's baby is NOT a baby anymore!)  Since both of the kids had appointments, I knew we were going to be there for a bit, so I brought a book for each one. We had just received a couple new ones for review, so it was perfect timing!  The books we took were the latest from the Ripley's Believe It or Not series.  Yes!  You surely did read that right, they just released two board books for the younger crowds! 
FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.



Ripley Publishing is expanding its line of popular children's books with the launch of the company's first board books, Ripley's Believe It or Not! ODDphabet and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Wacky 1-2-3, suitable for ages 3 and up.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! ODDphabet and Wacky 1-2-3 make learning letters and numbers tons of fun! From a painting elephant to singing mice, and everything in between, each quirky character is based on a true Ripley's-verified story.
From A to Z and 1 through 12, rhymes and colorful illustrations engage young readers to learn the basics while promoting inclusivity and individuality.
"Not your average board book, we created ODDphabet and Wacky 1-2-3 to make learning fun for children and parents alike," said Amanda Joiner, Director of Publishing Operations.
Both books feature highly engaging illustrations by Ripley cartoonist John Graziano, who also illustrates the daily Ripley's Believe It or Not! cartoon.
As I said, we took it to the dentist with us.  Savannah was a bit too busy exploring new territory, so another little girls mom asked if they could look at the book.  Of course I said yes and they really enjoyed it as well!  They even asked where they could purchase their own copy!  Needless to say, one of these is now in our car, the other in the living room!  Great to have readily available when a little one climbs in your lap and asks you to read to them!
If you are looking for a great board book to give (HELLO EASTER!)  Think about getting either (or both) of these books!  Kids and adults alike will enjoy looking at these!

Know about Kleynimals? #AmericanMade

When it comes to baby gifts, what is a gift you normally give?  I like to give something they can use as well as something they can keep!  When we had Broxton's baby shower, my best friend requested that instead of buying cards for us, to write a message in a book for us. That was a great idea and something I try to do now!  I was given the chance to review a beautiful keepsake gift recently and I am telling you now, it is a beauty! Are you familiar with Kleynimals?


FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

Kleynimals are super cute and stylish gifts that are must have baby gift items this year!  Read more about them below:

Say hello to Pippi the Polar Bear, Scout the Snowshoe Hare, and Otto the Snowy Owl. This adorable Stainless Steel Rattle is the newest addition to the Kleynimals family and makes the perfect gift for that special baby this year. Your sweet baby will shake, rattle and roll with their new favorite toy. Like our toy keys, the rattle is satisfying for baby with a pleasant jingling sound and a cool, shiny metal texture. Dishwasher safe, 100% stainless steel and American Made, our rattle is the perfect answer for parents seeking organic rattle options. Kleynimals products make a wonderful heirloom gift. Retails for $35.
Kleynimals feel strongly that every set of toy keys, rattle or flatware sold should make a positive impact in our World, starting with the manufacturing process and proceeding all the way to a happy and satisfied customer. Kleynimals donates 1% of every purchase to Healthy Child, Healthy World and another 1% to World Wildlife Fund. They also enlist the help of The Providence House, a local non-profit organization that supports developmentally disabled adults in living self-directed lives, for the assembly and tagging of products.

I know I said they are stylish, but want to know an additional major plus for why I like this so much? Umm... Did you read where it said you could throw it in the dishwasher?!  Talk about an easy way to clean and if your house is anything like mine, the dishwasher is in frequent use!  

Image Credit- Kleynimals 
Although Savannah isn't a "baby" anymore, she still loves playing with her Kleynimals!  She likes pretending it is like a bracelet and then plays with the animals as well!  Talk about multi-use!!!
If you are looking for a great gift idea, think about adding Kleynimals to the mix and make everyone smile when they see such a beautiful gift.  

9.4.17

Pete the Cat at Center for Puppetry Arts!

I was able to experience a first for me this weekend.  At almost 40 years old, I have never seen a live puppet show!!!  (Please tell me I am not the only one!) So, let me tell you about it. It was at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta and the puppet show featured Pete the Cat.  If you don't know who that is, Pete the Cat is a character in a book that Broxton was first introduced to in preschool, so we are familiar with him and we love that groovy cat!  

Photo Credit - Darrell Hazelrig
FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

The Center!!!!
Pete the Cat will make his puppet stage debut at the Center for Puppetry ArtsApril 4 – May 28! Based on the New York Times best-selling books by Georgia authors James and Kimberly Dean, this original production has been in themaking at the Center for more than two years. Audiences will travel through a day in the life of Pete and all of his groovy adventures that ensue!

As I said, it was my first time at a puppet show, so obviously it was my first time at Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta.  Let me tell you about that first.
When you get there, remember that there are plenty of one way streets there, we sort of missed the parking the first time around!  We eventually got parked and headed inside. Again, you are in Atlanta, so take parking into consideration.  I knew there was limited parking and I wasn't about to go looking for parking with two kids, so we got there super early to guarantee a spot.  (Taking that in mind, I would also recommend the noon showing versus the 2:00 show, since parking might be an issue then.) They have a play ground there, so if you get there "too early" you can let the kids play outside before you head in. 

The stage, ready for the show!  No photography allowed during it, but we were able to snap a photo before it started! 
Once inside you can get your tickets to the show and line up to get your seat. It is general admission, so depending on where you want to sit, you will know when you want to get in line. They don't have "seats" it is a big long bench with padding and a cushion on the back . I thought that was perfect if you have kids that want to sit all on you, you aren't trying to cram everyone into one seat!!  
If you want, you can purchase a pass to see the museum and go check that out while you wait, or you can see it after the show.  They are really laid back on that, so its whatever is best for you and your family.  
Kimberly and James Dean signing books!
We ended up picking a great day to go!  We not only got to see Pete the Cat and his friends enjoying the day, but we also were there for a book signing by the author/ illustrators, Kimberly and James Dean!   That was a new experience for the Center, so there was a bit of frustration, but it ended up all working out.  I do hope that they took the day as a learning experience to try and make improvements for special events like that.  Given that it was a learning event, I will skip past that and focus on the rest of the day.
We got to see the show.  Pete the Cat is basically following a day in the life of Pete, with different book titles as scenes. We had Magic Sunglasses, Valentines Day, Bedtime Blues and more. Remember how I said the creators were there?  We were lucky enough to sit near them, so as the show was going on, it was pretty neat to see them enjoying it for the first time!  I even caught Mr. Dean singing along with Pete!!!!!  
If you are worried about taking younger kids, don't!!! I had an 8 year old and a 1 year old.  In front of us was a 4 year old birthday party and a 5 year old birthday party.  The kids in the party were standing up singing and dancing along with the show!  Savannah got fussy for a bit, (nap-time) and I was able to walk her out, calm her down and then reenter.  NO problems!   
We really enjoyed it and I want to go back again!  Pete the Cat is there until the end of May.That is great to allow more people to see it, but selfishly, I wish they would do a new production each month so that we could go again soon to see another show!  
Okay, so we saw the show and then headed to get our books autographed. 
Friends we all know and love!
Big Bird!!!!


Jim Hensons desk!

Fraggles!!!!!  I was immediately taken back to my childhood, even had the song humming in my head!

 After that, we quickly went through the museum.  Like I said, nap-time was being missed and we were having a bit of a meltdown.  We were probably in there about 30 minutes.  They had different scenes from Jim Hensons life.  We got to see his work desk and even got to see Elmo, Big Bird and some of the Fraggles!  I loved that, I got to say HELLO to my childhood as well as let the kids see familiar friends!  
Savannah was captivated by this in the global wing of the museum.

Like I said, I knew nothing about the Labyrinth, but this looked like something many would be familiar with.
The other section of the museum was a global event that both really liked.  We quickly went through the Labyrinth exhibit, but it was unfamiliar to us all, so it was a quick walk through. With our tickets, we were also able to make a Pete the Cat Puppet.  As I said, nap-time was being postponed, so I was happy to see you could grab a to-go kit and make it later.  You can believe that is what we did!  
I am so glad we were invited to such a fun event!!!  We love making memories and this made for a great family day!!!!

Can you have Too Many Carrots? #BookReview

Are you looking for a book for Easter?  We have a cute book that we are reading right now.  Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson is what I am talking about.  I will say, I was about to say I didn't like it, until I finished it.  It is a book with a great message!  

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.


Too Many Carrots follows Rabbit as he collects carrots.  He just LOVES them and feels that he can not get enough of them.  He is a bit of a hoarder... It eventually leads to him not having room to live in his own place.  Lucky for him, he has great friends that want to help him out and each offers for him to stay there.  The problem is this, Rabbit is a bit selfish and takes all of his carrots with him, ending in destruction of each of his friends place to live.  You will need to read the book to see what ends up happening, but like I said, the story has a great message and I ended up loving it.  
(You should have seen me in the beginning, I was not a fan of Rabbit and was really hoping one of his friends would put him in his place, but they were better than I think I would have been in the situation.)  Too Many Carrots is a great book to read with your kids any time of the year!  

8.4.17

Let @Zulily know about your favorite teacher!

Do you know of a teacher that really made a difference in someones life? Maybe you had a teacher that really made an impression on you as a child.  Maybe it is / was a teacher for your child(ren.)  The point is this... (Just my opinion, but hey, I can say what I want to on here, right?)  Anyways, I feel that teachers don't get the recognition they deserve.  They work long hours, they spend so much of their "free time" on each student and then don't even get me started on the pay...  Not paid enough, if you ask me.

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

Zulily is taking nominations right now for people to enter their favorite teacher to win a classroom revamp! (Read more about it below.)  Lucky for us, I have an extra special teacher in our life.  Mrs. Chickvara was the "first person I ever left Broxton with" that wasn't family.  Yes, until he started K-3, I had never left him with anyone. Sure, he had done nursery at church a few times, but I was in the church and he was right down the hall from me.  When I left him in "school" for the day, I was no where near him for the day. She took care of him like he was her own.  She showed us she was super special.  Add to it that she was MORE THAN a teacher.  He invited her to his birthday party... SHE CAME!!!!  Maybe that isn't that big of a deal, but get this... He invited her to one of his baseball games.  Want to know who showed up, in the rain and sat in the dugout cheering him on? Yep!  Mrs. Chickvara! Might not be a big deal to you, but to a young child, it shows that she really did care, more than just teaching him during school, she cared about him OUTSIDE of the classroom!
Not only did she help grow a love of imagination, reading and education, she helped to plant the seeds of love for everything!  Broxton is 8 years old now and in 2nd grade.  His school has READ ACROSS AMERICA DAY where people come and read to the kids.  Do you know that although Broxton is no longer at the school Mrs. Chickvara teaches at, she has came the past two years and read to his class??  If you ask me, that is going well above and beyond any duties of "teaching."  As I said, she is someone who makes an impact, not just in the life of the student, but in the lives of the parents too! Bet you can't guess who I am nominating!

Calling All Parents: Nominate Your Favorite Teacher to Win a zulily Classroom Revamp
in Honor of Teacher Appreciation Week

WHO: zulily, an online retailer obsessed with bringing customers special finds every day – all at incredible prices.

WHAT: zulily is celebrating and recognizing the efforts of 50 of the country’s most beloved educators by awarding them $500 in zulily credit to help outfit their classrooms.

                      WHEN: Nominations accepted between  Monday, April 3 – Sunday, April 9
                      Celebration will run on zulily during National Teacher Appreciation                                            Week: Monday, May 8 – Friday, May 12, 2017

WHY: It’s important to give a child’s favorite teacher something extra special. With so much of children’s time being spent in the classroom, talented educators play an immeasurable role in shaping the great minds of America’s future. On top of investing time and patience, according to Money.com, teachers are spending $1.5 billion annually of their own money on school supplies with the average teacher spending $500. Great teachers who go above and beyond are remembered for a lifetime and zulily wants to thank them in a major way.

HOW: If a child’s teacher deserves special recognition, parents can nominate them on zulily by sharing stories of inspiration, kindness or coolness. It doesn’t matter what grade level or school, zulily wants to know why they are so special and deserve to be honored.

6.4.17

Touring @ARMHC and their #WishList

Not too long ago, we were invited to tour the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House. You can read about our first tour at the Sandy Springs, Georgia location if you like.  The houses are similar, as far as the fact that they are there for making things easier for families that already have enough on their plate.
The night we were invited, The Atlanta Hawks had their flight team there to sponsor a night of fun for the families that were staying there.  We were able to get a tour and then have a fun night with the Ronald McDonald House Guests.

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

Being that the Ronald McDonald House is for families dealing with children fighting sickness, you know that they will have a great play room for the kids to go to and unwind during their free time. This is for the patients, as well as their family members.

The average number of nights a family stays at a Ronald McDonald House is eight.  Instead of having to worry about finding a laundry mat, they have a laundry room on site.  Laundry supplies are donated by the community. 
This is the Home Office area that is available for those staying to use when they need it.  

I loved heading into the dining area and seeing that they had activity pads and crayons readily available for the kids to have during dinner, or to take to their room afterwards. Sometimes, it is the little things that do make the biggest difference.  

This is the pantry.  It is open for family members to head in and grab what they need.  While we were there, a gentleman was making a box of goodies to take back to his room.  See that table in the middle? It has flowers in buckets.  The best part?  There was a note there saying " Families, please help yourself to some flowers!"  I actually saw a lady walking by with the biggest smile on her face. I overheard her talking about how sweet it was that the flowers were there and she just loved them.  She held them close to her and kept smelling them.  Again, the little things.  I never would have thought about that.  
After our tour, we headed back to the activity center to see what was going on with the Hawks crew.  It was great seeing the children in their playing and able to "escape" their sickness, even if only for a few minutes.  They had a hoops station set up.  The kids played against each other and even some of the Hawks crew played them!  

Savannah decided that she was going to give corn-hole a go. She liked it, but loved it when Harry the Hawk played with her.

All the kids were able to take the foam fingers.  They also had health activity books for them.  Oh yeah, we even saw the crew coloring sheets with the kids!  

Like I said, Savannah had a blast with Harry playing corn-hole!  
If you are in a position to give, they recently posted a WISH LIST on Instagram.  I am pretty sure you could order things online and have it sent to their location.  

Available at Walmart - Heidi on DVD

I hope I am not the only one that gets old and forgetful.  I remember watching Heidi as a child, but I can not tell you anything about it. I also know I liked it, but I don't remember the age I was or anything else about it.  Lucky for me, we were just send Heidi for review!  We will be watching it over Spring Break.  I hope that Broxton and Savannah enjoy it as much as I think I did! Did you watch or read Heidi in your younger days?
This is sold exclusively at WALMART, so head on out and buy a copy today!

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

With more than 50 million copies in print, Swiss author Johanna Spyri's beloved 1880's novel, "Heidi," is one of the all-time classics of children's literature, which has also spawned numerous adaptations - from a 1937 Shirley Temple vehicle and several Japanese anime series to a Hanna-Barbera feature.  This April, Omnibus Entertainment invites families everywhere to head for the hills with HEIDI, a new, lavishly produced adaptation starring Bruno Ganz and marking the big screen debut of Anuk Steffen as the titular Swiss mountain girl.
 
Orphan girl Heidi spends the happiest days of her childhood with her eccentric grandfather, Alpöhi (Ganz), cut off from the outside world in a simple cabin in the breathtaking Swiss mountains. Together with her friend Peter, she tends to grandfather's goats and enjoys freedom in the mountains to the fullest.  But these carefree times come to an abrupt end when Heidi is whisked to Frankfurt by her Aunt Dete.  The idea is for her to stay with the wealthy Sesemann family and be a playmate for his wheelchair-bound daughter Klara, under the supervision of the strict nanny, Fräulein Rottenmeier.  Although the two girls soon become close friends and Klara's grandmother awakes a passion for books in Heidi while teaching her to read and write, young Heidi's longing for her beloved mountains and her grandfather grows ever stronger.
 
Spyri originally published "Heidi" as a two-volume novel - "Heidi: Her Years of Wandering and Learning" and "Heidi: How She Used What She Learned" - and, according to the original subtitle, was written "for children and those who love children."  Aside from being translated from the original German into over 50 different languages, HEIDI has also become an enduring figure in children's entertainment through many theater productions; television programs, including one by the BBC and one by Walt Disney; films, including a silent one; a musical play co-written by Neil Simon; a video piece with Paul McCartney and Mike Kelley, and a talking dog version with Angela Lansbury.  There is even a "Heidiland" in eastern Switzerland.

5.4.17

Broxton loved the Mario shirt in the past @Lootcrate

I am totally loving the whole "subscription box" shopping that is going on these days.  It makes things fun and interesting.  I have been so lucky to have been working with Loot Crate in hosting reviews of their amazing boxes.  Each month, I think they have got to let me down at some point, I mean just how AWESOME is a company that always goes above and beyond, more than they did the month before?  Well, Loot Crate has YET to disappoint and that says so much to me!

When opening your Loot Crate, this is what you first see.  You know you want to dive in and check it all out!!!!

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  
The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

When I finally had time to review this past Loot Crate, I set it all up to see what was inside.  I was in LOVE with the shirt.  I called Broxton in to check out the loot and I wish I had set up the camera to record his face.  Now, Mario was a game I played on my Nintendo back in the day with my dad.  I am honestly not sure if Broxton has ever played it... but he sorta freaked out when he saw the shirt! "MARIO!"  I love it!!!!  We were getting ready to head out to run errands, so of course he wanted to know if he could wear his new t-shirt, aka his "swag."  Yes, "swag" is a key word in the daily vocabulary of my 8 year old son.  

As you can see in the photo, you have Superman on the inside of the crate.  This month, as you turn your crate inside out, you transform it to be a COMIC BOOK HOLDER!!!!!   (I love this, as Broxon has decided out of nowhere that he loves comics and he wants to be a comic illustrator!) 
Included in the January : Origins LOOTCRATE:
The LOOTCRATE Magazine - This is a pretty cool one. 
Articles include: Superman through the ages, An interview with Rogue One : A Star Wars Story Writer and Who is Captain America's Biggest Inspiration.
Captain America Golden Age Shield  - Broxton loved this as he is a huge Captain America fan. This is a metal replica of the original shield. It comes with a stand and a certificate of authenticity.
Mario T-shirt -As stated, Broxton's favorite and has already been wearing it everywhere! 
TMNT Muglet - This is just too cool.  It is a mini - Tiki mug.  I think I will be adding it to my shotglass collection.  Either way, Broxton is NOT getting this one! 
Exclusive Action Comics #1 REPRINT - This is an authentic replica reprint.  We haven't looked at it yet, as Savannah set her sights on it and we don't want her messing it up!  

As I have said time and time again... Impressive!  Make sure you head over to the LOOTCRATE site to see what you want to get.  They have different crate options, I really think I want to check out the SMALL GIFT CRATE. You know, a throw back to my childhood!  SANRIO!!!!!   
Check out my Instagram page to see just how excited he was in that Mario Shirt!

4.4.17

Easter Basket Idea ? The Swan Princess - Royally Undercover

We love movies here. It is fun to unwind and just relax from time to time. I had no clue that an elementary aged child could have such a busy social life! It is nice for a break, so when we get the chance to review movies, we are all about it!   We were lucky enough to be sent The Swan Princess - Princess Tomorrow Pirate Today for review a bit ago, so when we were told about The Swan Princess - Royally Undercover, we were all super excited to watch it!  

FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

After watching the first one, I knew Broxton was going to watch this one too!  Although the title is about a Princess, it is so much more than that. Both boys and girls will love it.  In the latest movie, Princess Alise teams up with Lucas to become spies!  Hello!  You know that has the attention of kids everywhere!
The cool spy gadgets are awesome and I think they would be able to make a good thing out of making toys to go along with this movie! Dolls for the characters, plush (and figurines) of the animals, the spy gadgets, the ship and the castle... Come on, let's get on it!  I have two kids that would love the whole set.  Anyways, getting back to the movie.
I think this movie would make a great movie night.  We are on Spring Break and the weather started off pretty nasty. This was great for us.  Maybe you can plan a movie night, or have it for entertainment while headed to your destination.  Even better.. EASTER basket filler!   Yes!  Kids (and adults) will love it!

Read on for more information:

The Swan Princess is back, with an all-new feature length movie! Get ready to go on an undercover detective adventure when THE SWAN PRINCESS: ROYALLY UNDERCOVER arrives for the first time on DVD March 28 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The newest installment of the beloved animated franchise follows the enchanting tale of young Princess Alise and her friends as they embark on a new adventure where they solve a royal mystery using their detective skills and spy gadgets. Featuring fan-favorite characters and all news faces, this next installment is the perfect fit for a new generation of Swan Princess fans, as well as nostalgic fans of the franchise.
Join “The X Factor” star Macy Kate in the studio as she records the theme song for THE SWAN PRINCESS: ROYALLY UNDERCOVER, "Born to Be Me." Macy Kate also sang the theme song in the previous installment, THE SWAN PRINCESS: PRINCESS TOMORROW, PIRATE TODAY, which was titled "I'll Be Your Star."

Synopsis:
After mysterious visitors arrive in the Kingdom, Princess Alise, Lucas and their friends go undercover on a secret spy adventure to see if they can be trusted. They will need all of their superior detective skills as well as some super cool gadgets to solve the royal mystery and save the Kingdom.

2.4.17

Let @DreamlandBBQ make more family time #AintNothingLikeEmNowhere

Alright yall.  It is Spring Break here in our area, so that means FAMILY TIME. Next up after that we have Easter, so I thought this would be a perfect time to post about Dreamland BBQ.  Living in Atlanta, I have heard of Dreamland for years, but sadly I had never tried it out.  Recently, I was invited to try out their Family Meal plan and LET-ME-TELL-YOU.  I have been missing out on some good eating!   
FTC Compliant Review Policy:  The product(s) featured in this review were provided free of cost to me by the manufacturer or representing PR agency for the sole purpose of product testing. Opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.

Up first - the Dreamland BBQ family to go menu.  Now, you might want to go and have dinner there, which is totally fine, but then again , you might want to stock up with their tasty food to have on hand over Spring Break.  You know, to keep YOU out of the kitchen cooking and allowing more time for family, especially over a great meal!  

I was impressed when we pulled up to the Roswell, Georgia location.  Just look at all that wood they have out there for cooking their meats!!!!  

As you saw in the above menu, you get to pick what side items you would like for your meal. I decided that we would go with ColeSlaw and Potato Salad.  The coleslaw was amazing and the guy I spoke with said he loved putting slaw on his sandwich.  Needless to say, Marc tried that and I do believe that was how he ate all of his sandwiches from then on!  

I will tell you now, I was tempted to order the chocolate dream, but after hearing that they are known for the banana pudding, I knew I needed to give it a go.  OH-MY-WORD.  That was the stuff dreams are made of. If I was told that was how they got the name Dreamland, I would totally believe it.  For real, that good.  Unfortunately, I told Marc about it... and Savannah... and ended up having to share.  I should have hid that in the back for a mommy time out treat!  (Mental note for future reference!)

I do hate that I didn't take more photos, but once I had it on the plate, it was all I could do to not dive in right now and say forget the photos for you guys!  Surprisingly, I have never really been a fan of BBQ, but this has me rethinking it. (Marc loves it, so I normally just go for the chicken!) That being the case, I thought I would be all about the chicken and not the pork, but I was constantly going to the pork when it was time for a meal!  I will tell you this, I thought the BBQ sauce had a bit of a kick to it.  I still enjoyed it, so it wasn't that much, but it is just enough to stand out and make you take notice.  I really liked that it was on the side, so I could add the right amount for me... and also have it to keep for other meals!  After being surprised with the flavor of the pork (and my choosing it over chicken)  I am eager to try the sausage next time!  Marc has already put in a request for the Rib Tips! 
While we really enjoyed the family meal, I do need to share one more thing.  I saw that they had fried okra on the menu, so we had to try that out too! If you follow me on Instagram, you saw I posted it. Like I said, it was a good 30 minutes from home, so the okra wasn't about to make it.  I opened it and they were flying in my mouth like they were scared to go for a ride.  Broxton decided he wanted a couple and next thing you know, half of the order was completely GONE!!!!   If you like friend okra, make sure you order it when you go.  There was just enough batter to make them perfect.  Not too much, but enough to enjoy the "fried" of it all. The okra inside was just right as well.  Not to mushy, nor too crunchy!  
As soon as we got home, we had to go ahead and make the food to give it a try.  I loved it all! The portion size was amazing and it gave us plenty for multiple meals. The closest Dreamland BBQ is a little over 30 minutes from us, but it is in an area that we go to from time to time.  I see that being a place that we order the family meal from when we are in that area.  If you are near a location, they do ship.  Make sure to check it out! 
Like I said, it is Spring Break here, so if you aren't going anywhere.. Make it a night in. If you are headed out of town, grab some to have a picnic on the beach! Don't forget you can order ahead and have it ready to enjoy on Easter too!  
*** They have location in Georgia and Alabama.  Look to see if they are near you

1.4.17

Get Outside and Get Active

Did you know that today was National Love Our Children Day?  I didn't either, until just a bit ago. That being said, I thought it was great to share this email I received with you all.  (That and it is Spring Break here... Thought we could all use the push to get outside!)

WASHINGTON– Spring is here and it’s a great time for families with children to spend time outdoors and together.  The Episcopal Center for Children (ECC), a nonprofit organization providing mental health and special education services to children ages 5-14 in the greater Washington, DC area, offers tips to help families.
Being active as a family can benefit everyone. Adults need at least two and a half hours a week of physical activity, and children need 60 minutes a day.
“Several studies have shown that being outside and staying active improves health and well-being for adults and children,” said Dodd White, president and CEO of ECC. “For families supporting children with unique needs, doing activities together outside can promote positive behavior, relieve stress, improve focus, and help everyone in the family be mentally and physically healthier.”
Tip #1 –Set specific activity times for your family. Find time slots throughout the week when your whole family is available. Devote a few of these times to physical activities together outside. Try doing something active after dinner or begin the weekend with a Saturday morning walk.
Tip #2 – Get outside and get moving. Take your dog for a walk. Play “I spy” while walking somewhere. Play in the park or go to the community center. Play tag, hopscotch, or jump rope.
Tip #3 – Cope with any anxieties. If a child is anxious about going outside, bring along a favorite snack and anything familiar and comforting that can help extend “safe” feelings into the outdoors. Take a Teddy Bear Hike where each child brings a favorite stuffed animal along for the adventure.
Tip #4 – Use technology as a supportive tool. Technology can help children coping with special needs transition from indoors to outdoors and help them explore nature. For example, encourage them to use a digital recorder (or your cell phone) to record bird songs, a babbling stream and other pleasing sounds in your yard, the park, or along a trail. When you are back indoors, your child can use these recordings to calm themselves and reduce anxieties.
Tip #5 – Use tech gear to focus. Smartphones, digital cameras and binoculars are a great filter for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or autistic spectrum disorders. These items can help them focus on a single feature being observed and remove the extraneous visual stimulation around them.
Tip #6 – Start small. Begin by introducing one new family activity and then add more when you feel everyone is ready. Take the dog for a longer walk, play another ball game, or go to an additional exercise class.
Tip #7 – Use school activities as a jumping board for family activities. Talk about what your children learned at school in gym or physical education class. Ask them to show you what they learned. Help them practice.
Tip #8 – Build new skills. Try yoga, mindfulness practices or dance as a family. There are free resources on the internet and special classes in some communities designed for families and for individuals coping with special needs. Enroll your children in classes they might enjoy such as gymnastics or other sports. Encourage them to practice and go to their activities as a family.
Tip #9 – Plan ahead. Write your activity plans on a family calendar. Let your children help plan the activities. Allow them to check it off after the activity is completed.
Tip #10– Plan for all weather conditions. Have some ideas for indoor activities on standby in case the weather does not cooperate. Try mall walking, indoor basketball, or active video games or board games.
“Once you start getting outside regularly with your child, you will begin to see the results. Symptoms of anxiety, depression and acting out can lessen,” said White. “Self-esteem, focus and participation in social settings may improve too. And hopefully, you’ll be feeling better too.”
About the Episcopal Center for Children
The Episcopal Center for Children (Center) is a nonprofit, nondenominational school and treatment program for children contending with emotional challenges from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Accredited by the Joint Commission, the Center serves children who are 5-14 years old in grades K-8. The goal of the Center’s treatment, therapeutic milieu, and individualized special education program is to empower each child to function productively within his or her family and community. Building on strengths within children, the Center partners with families in treatment and focuses on enabling its students to access and become their best possible selves. More information is available at eccofdc.org 
 
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