Thursday, May 31, 2012

When Your Centerpiece is Made of Play-Doh and the Dog Has Eaten Your Crayons- Book Review

I am constantly looking for books about parenting, after all it is a never ending learning experience. I think even parents of adults would agree. I am the parent of 3 children that are 4 years old and younger and were all born in quick succession (I have a pair of two year old twins) I don't know if that exasperates things for me or if it is common for any parent of a young child to have a need to seek out as much information as I can get my hands on!

Jennifer M. Koontz's book When Your Centerpiece is Made of Play Dough and the Dog Has Eaten Your Crayons got my attention mainly for the title. I thought that was a really cute title and with pre-school and toddler kids in my house, it sounds about right! For me, this book was more observational than advice, Koontz even mentioned in the first chatper about being a teacher and a parent and not an expert. It was nice just to take a peak into another mom's brain and know that we all struggle with a lot of the same issues and feelings. Not to say there isn't some good advice in this book. I found the list in the last chapter particularly helpful! Some of Koontz's tips struck me as odd. The privileges system seems like a great concept to me overall and I like the main message it sends of teaching kids to be responsible for their actions, but some of the suggestions of priviliges are things I would never take away from my kids, as I consider them learning experiences and growing tools, not priviliges, such as reading a book together or doing a puzzle or playing outside together. A few of the examples were great examples of privileges such as not getting to watch a tv show or play a video game or get extra time in the bathtub or getting a toy taken away. I think the overall idea is wonderful, but might need a little tweaking, at least in my house. I will chalk this up to a difference in parenting styles...and there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with that. We all do what we feel is best for our kids! I like that I can take a look into another person's percpective and pull out ideas that will work with my family. It is so great learning from others!

Something I really loved about this book was the use of humor and personal stories. I loved each time the author thought back to a member of her family. I loved reading about her father's grandpa and the close relationship they had with each other and about her aunt and how she is her super hero! That is how I feel about my aunt as well! Personal stories do make a book more endearing.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good read, if for nothing more than a peak into someone else's thoughts on motherhood. I have definitely come away with some thoughts on parenthood and some new things to try with my kids!

*Disclaimer- I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Net Galley.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

AMF Summer Unplugged & Summer Pass

This summer AMF wants to get family's active by offering two programs for the summer- Summer Unplugged for kids 15 and under and Summer Pass for 16 and over. Some of my best memories growing up are bowling with my mom, brother and sister. Bowling is a great way to be active and spend time with your family.

Here are the details of the two summer programs-

AMF's Summer Unplugged is this summer's best bowling deal for kids!  And adults get in on the fun too with Summer Pass.

Summer Unplugged:
 Zip, Zero, Zilch for Kids 15 and Under

At select AMF centers, two free games of bowling per day for kids 15 and under. (Shoe rental not included, but they’re worth paying for.)

  • Time: Free bowling until 8:00PM, 7 days a week.
  • Dates: Monday, May 14 through Monday, September 3 (Labor Day).
  • Parents go to to select a participating center (over 250 locations) and complete a simple registration form.
  • Free game coupons emailed every week starting May 14 – it’s that simple!
  • $3.29 Kids Meals
And the teens and adults can also bowl all summer for very little with Summer Pass:

Summer Pass: Great Deal for Everyone 16 and Over
2 free games, per day for up to four people ages 16 and up (shoe rental not included).
One $29.95 Summer Pass is good for 2 games per day for up to four people all summer long - that's $7.50 per person! (Same dates and times as above.)
Available online at

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What are some ways you like to be active with your family? Does your family like to go bowling? I haven't taken my kids yet because they are little, but I plan to take my oldest soon. I am definitely not the best bowler in my family, but I look forward to teaching her to bowl and hope she will enjoy it as much as I always have!

*Disclaimer- I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network and am eligible for a prize drawing.  All opinions stated in the post are my own.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Back to Resolution by Rose Dee- Book Review

Bay Anders is a wealthy girl who just feels empty inside. After her mother passes away, she leaves the United States to return to Australia, where she is searching for the father she doesn't remember. A local stranger- Flynn McKenna is the only one who can help her find her father, who has gone missing! Bay drives Flynn crazy, but he just can't stop himself from thinking about her. Will they find her father? Will Bay and Flynn find common ground or continue to deny their strong desire for one another?

I really enjoyed Back to Resolution. I love books that have a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance. What can I say? I can be a girlie girl. I felt sorry for Bay in the beginning of the book because you could tell that even though she could have every material thing, she didn't feel fulfilled and definitely was not feeling loved, especially by her mother. I liked that the story was set in Australia, somewhere I have never been, but always wanted to go. It was kind of fun and different that it was set on island with only a handful of residents. An island which doesn't have any modern amenities, which forces spoiled Bay to learn how to "rough it" a bit. I loved going on this journey with Bay, to discover where she came from, search for her father, find her way to faith and of course, get to hang out with a handsome stranger! I found myself wishing I could go hang out on Resolution Island with them!

I thought this was a great debut novel from Rose Dee and I look forward to returning to Resolution Island soon with Dee's second novel, Beyond Resolution.

Learn more about Rose Dee and her novels at 

*Disclaimer- I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the Book Crash program. All thoughts are 100% my own.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cowgirls N' Angels- Opening in select theaters today!

I recently had the chance to watch an advanced screening of Cowgirls N' Angels, a sweet, family friendly movie about a little girl named Ida who has dreams of finding her dad, whom she's never met. Her search for her dad connects her to the Sweetheart's of the Rodeo, even though she is a little young, her potential as a trick rider secures her a spot on the team. In this new sport, she finds a passion she never knew existed, and being a Sweetheart just might be the key to finding her dad!

I thought Cowgirl's N' Angels was a cute movie and I loved that it was about something different. Most movies about kids and sports are usually about something more mainstream, like baseball, I liked this change of pace. I also liked that the lead character was a girl. I think families will enjoy watching this movie together, it is a refreshing change of pace to not have to worry about what language or graphic scenes might show up on the screen, but there is nothing to worry about with this movie. It's just a heartwarming little movie, with a pretty cool cast. Jackson Rathbone, famous for his role as Jasper in the Twilight movies, has a role as the love interest of one of the Sweethearts of the Rodeo. And the founder of the Sweethearts is played by veteran actor James Cromwell.

Check out the trailer for Cowgirl's N' Angels below-

For more information check out the Cowgirls N' Angels Facebook page

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Style United- New View, New You

Sometimes I just don't know where to begin when I want to buy a new outfit, or try a new look with makeup. I like to experiment with makeup and fashion, but sometimes I like an extra boost getting started with it. Enter a new website devoted to helping you discover your best bets in fashiona and beauty-StyleUnited. Style United is a great website full of tools to help you discover trends or even experiment with different looks. There are "style file" quizzes you can take to tell you what your style is in different categories. After you take the quizzes, the website will suggest different products to you.
I had a lot of fun taking these quizzes. For the fashion quiz, my result was "flirty romantic" which I think hit the nail right on the head. The outfits they suggested were almost all things I would consider wearing. I love that there is an option to save the things you like in your profile.

For the makeup quiz my result was "fresh" which once again I felt was dead on. There were some great product suggestions in this category as well. You can also input information for your skin type (mine is dry) and hair type (mine is wavy) to find the best products to fit your needs.

I really like the StyleUnited website and I plan to utilize it quite often when I am the mood to get a new outfit. I find that I like the fashion part of the website the best. There is definitely something for everyone at Style United.

After you join StyleUnited, head over to this blog post by She Speaks for your chance to win a $500 gift card to Macy's or Nordstrom just by leaving a comment telling She Speaks you've joined the Style United website. Don't miss the opportunity to be one of the first people to check out this innovative fashion and beauty website- for free!


*Disclosure- I am receiving a complimentary gift from P&G/SheSpeaks in exchange for this post, but all  opinions are 100% my own."

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Genesis Code DVD review & giveaway!

The Genesis Code begins with college journalist Kerry Wells  being assigned to interview the newest hockey star at her school, Blake Truman. As Kerry gets to know Blake and they start to become friends, she learns that Blake is going through a huge personal crisis. She suggests he turn to prayer and he in turn tells her he believes that modern science completely disproves the Bible, especially the story of Genisis. With the help of her brother, who happens to be a science whiz, Kerry sets out to prove that maybe both science AND the Bible are right!

I thought this was a really interesting movie. I found all of the many characters likeable and their questions and reservations to be valid concerns that someone might face, especially in college. I really enjoyed the explination of how science and the Bible are both true because of the difference in how time was perceived in Biblical times and how it is now. I thought this movie did a great job of drawing the parallels between the two. The Genesis Code will cause it's viewers to think outside of the box, a wonderful sign of a good, thought provoking movie.

The only complaint I have is that a good portion of this story is about a hockey player, so I thought there would be at least some hockey in the movie. The beginning starts off with a game, but it also happens to be the beginning of Christmas break, so there wasn't too much hockey. It only bothered me because it seemed to be that it would be a part of the story, however it didn't take away from the story line at all and it wasn't really a big deal. Just a personal bit of knit-pickiness. :)  I still really felt this was a good faith based movie with a great cast. Fans of The Love Comes Softly series will love seeing Logan Bartholomew in an entirely different role and there is even a small part played by Catherine Hicks from the popular television series, Seventh Heaven.

Sound like a movie you would like to check out? One lucky reader will win their very own copy of The Genesis Code. Enter via the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!

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Wait No More: One Family's Amazing Adoption Journey Book Review

There are over 130 million orphaned children worldwide, and not just in third world countries. There are over 107,000 waiting for families in the United States alone. There are over 500,000 kids in the foster care system in the United States in between homes.There are orphans everywhere, probably including near to where you live. The Rosati's felt led to help this orphans in the highest way- by adopting them. In Wait No More John & Kelly Rosati give us an uncensored look into going through the adoption proceess, not one, not two, not three, but four times!

I like that through this book the Rosati's give a true glimpse into the adoption process through the foster care system. It is not always sunshine and roses. Many times orphaned children come with physical, emotional and/or mental scars. Sometimes it takes time longer than expected to get through the adoption process, there can definitely be bumps in the road on the way to becoming a child's "forever family."

The start of the Rosati's adoption journey began in April in the year 2000. They were living in Hawaii as a result of John's airforce assignnment. This journey would continue on for years as they meet and fall in love immediately with each of their adopted children. Wait No More takes us along on this ride with all of it's emotional higs and lows. They adopted all 4 from right where they lived at the time- Hawaii.

May is national foster care month. I urge you to pick up this book and learn more about being a foster parent. I think many people that have a heart for adoption do not know that you can do so through being  a foster parent first, which can cut down on the costs of adoption and cut down a bit on the time it can take. I Care About Orphans is a website that can connect you to kids that need forever homes in your neck of the woods.

I know not everyone feels the calling to adopt or even be a foster parent, but I think all of us probably in some way feel the calling to help these helpless children. If you feel lead to help, check out for several ways you can help, whether it be by spreading the word, donating money or even just praying for these children .

*Disclosure- I was provided a free copy of Wait No More by Tyndale House Publishers. All opinions are 100% my own

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Original Sprout Review

Original Sprout is a company I was already somewhat familiar with because I have been using their curl calmer and leave in conditioner in my kids' hair since they were infants. I jumped at the chance to review some of their products I had yet to try because I feel very comfortable with the company and the ingredients they choose to use, as well as the icky stuff they make sure NOT to use. Inga, the founder of Original Sprout, is a master stylist and started a quest that would end up lasting 9 years, the end result- Original Sprout.

For this review, I was sent Original Sprout Miracle Detangler, Original Sprout Shampoo and  Face & Body Sunscreen from the new Tahitian Family line.

The first product I used was the Face & Body sunscreen from the new Original Sprout Tahitian Family line. I am very particular about my sunblock. I, of course, only use sunblocks that are not full of a bunch of ingredients I can't pronounce. The last thing I want to rub onto my body, or worse yet, my kids bodies, are chemicals that could harm us. I have tried a ton of natural sun blocks on the market, there are very few that I use on a regular basis. Many of them just won't rub in all of the way. The Original Sprout Tahitian sunblock was not too thick and not to thin and it rubbed into my skin super easily without leaving any greasy residue. It worked fantastic at keeping me from getting burned and smells so good! Right on the front of the packaging it is labeled Free & Clean and even goes on to tell you what it is free of- No parabens, nano particles, formaldehyde, petroleum oils, propylene glycol, dioxanes, sulfates, gluten, soy or dairy. I love that it is all right there for you to see, for me, a disclosure like that makes me feel comfortable with buying a product I know I will be putting on my children. Did I mention that Original Sprout products are also vegan friendly and biodegradable?

Next we tried the shampoo on my three kids. Let me start this by saying my two year old boys HATE getting their hair washed. It is a fight usually nightly. The Original Sprout shampoo has the same Free & Clean label as the sunblock, as well as the other Original Sprout products. I lathered up the kids' hair and was delighted to find that this shampoo washes out super quickly. That is a big deal to this mom of twin two year olds who hate getting their hair wash. It left their hair soft and shiny and smelling awesome. Another cool thing about Original Sprout is that while they all smell amazing the are all made with naturally derived ingredients & are certified FREE of phthalates, lavender, tea tree, PG, DPG, parabens, dioxanes, benzenes, formaldehydes, acetaldehydes, styrene, toluene, chlorobenzene & glycol ethers. Who says you can't have a great smelling product without using synthetic fragrance?

Finally, we tried the miracle detangler on my 4 year olds thick hair that is prone to tangling. We sprayed it on right after we towel dried her hair a bit after washing it with the shampoo and that stuff really is a miracle! Usually when I spray detangler on my daughter's hair, It takes me brushing through it a few times before I can brush through it. With the miracle detangler, the hair was soft and easy to brush through right away!

Original Sprout products have been outselling other brands in boutiques, salons, and health food stores and have a cult following among "green" hollywood, salons and women's who want high quality, safe products for their families! Original Sprout is a family owned company run out of San Luis Obispo, California.

Want to check out what all of the fuss is about? Try it out for yourself! You can purchase Original Sprout online, find it in health food stores like Central Market, in Salons like Cool Cuts for Kids and locally, Sweet & Sassy in Plano, TX just started carrying Original Sprout products this week!

If you order online at, enter the code FIRST_ORDER_10-U for 10% off your first order!

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*Disclaimer- I was given complimentary Original Sprout products in exchange for my honest review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions are 100% my own.

Snapatoonies Abby Apple and her fruit friends dvd review & giveaway

My kids are all at an age where they think learning new things is the coolest. My oldest is 4 1/2 and learning how to spell words and my boys are 2 1/2 and really starting to take an interest in naming everything around them, forming sentences and even naming letters and numbers. When the opportunity arose to review a new dvd focused on teaching kids, I new it was something our family would enjoy. The show is called Snapatoonies and there will be 4 seasons full of 52 episodes total about multiple things. There are shows about art, colors, numbers, phonics, the list goes on and on. We were sent Abby Apple and her fruit friends episode to review.

I sat the kids down to watch it and they can be little wiggle worms, but as soon as they heard the inviting intro and saw the cute images of the kids on the train in the opening sequence, they were glued to the tv. It doesn't hurt that the video we were sent is of fruit...all 3 of my kids are fruit fanatics and they especially love apples, so I think they were excited to see such familiar foods. I loved that the dvd included several different fruits in addition to apples, including oranges, lemons pear and plums, and even showed how some of them can come in several different colors. Something else I liked about this movie was the mix of live pictures mixed with adorable animation. My kids loved seeing kids on tv, but the vibrant colors of the animated fruit really held their attention.

Abby Apple and her fruit friends helps teach things such as colors, different types of fruits, counting, phonics and the interactive games really got my kids involved. I loved hearing two year old Noah proudly shout the answers back at the screen! It was also pretty cool that it shows kids where exactly this fruit comes from, by showing it picked in the orchards. That is a pretty interesting thing for little minds to learn.

The kids definitely enjoyed Abby Apple and her fruit friends and I know that they would love to see many of the other episodes in the future. This series is intended for children ages 6 months to 5 years.

Watch a preview of Abby Apple & her fruit friends on YouTube:

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Great news! Snapatoonies wants to give one lucky read their own copy of Abby Apple and her fruit friends! And even better news-this giveaway is open to the US AND Canada! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win!

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*Disclaimer- I received a complimentary copy of Abby Apple and her fruit friends from Snapatoonies in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Oogaa Mealtime Set Review

Miles & Noah trying out their new Oogaa mealtime products for the first time.
When I was pregnant with my first baby in 2007, my brain went into hyper mode about researching anything and everything that would be coming into our home. This was also around the same time that is became known to many of us that the Bisphenol A (BPA) in most plastic products was a health danger and I knew immediately  we needed an alternative. The pregnancy and birth of my first child definitely launched me on the path to wellness and I spend a lot of time, even 5 years later, making sure that I am up to date on what is in the products my family uses.

We really have tried to avoid plastic in any form, but we have had some BPA free stuff at our house because it is just impractical to use our porcelain dishes with our two year old boys. I was so excited to learn that a new company, Oogaa, created by a mom concerned over the very same issues that I have been concerned over, makes all of their meal time products with silicone. Silicone? Why on Earth had no one thought of this before? Silicone is durable and does not leach harmful chemicals Not only that, but silicone is a sustainable material, which enables us to help do our part to protect the environment.

We were graciously sent a bowl, place mat and spoon for each of our boys, Noah & Miles. Right away, I noticed the adorable animals that appeared in the bowls and on the place mats. They are offered in great kid friendly colors such as purple, blue, green and pink. The spoons are too cute for words. They make meal time a little easier and fun with an airplane or train right in the middle of the spoon. The entire spoon is made of silicone, which makes it a great spoon for the sensitive gums of infants. I also love that the place mats are silicone as well because it makes them super simple to wipe off and clean! In fact, all of the items we received were super easy to clean. We even ate chili one night using the bowls and I thought they were going to stain, but they didn't. The boys seem to really enjoy eating with this mealtime set and even my four year old was asking for her own bowl. We were definitely impressed. We would love to see a silicone plate from Oogaa in the future. And maybe a larger sized place mat option for preschoolers.

The Oogaa mealtime products are definitely a win all around- kid friendly, mom friendly AND Earth Friendly! This is a product line you can really feel great about buying from!

You can purchase Oogaa products for a discounted rate on Zulily.Com until Wednesday May 16th!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter by: Katie Ganshert- Book Review

I can not say how much I loved this book. I was drawn into it from the very first line. I was invested in the characters from the get go. It is full of many tragic circumstances that make the main character re-evaluate what she thinks is important in her life. Bethany Quinn is a jaded woman. She grew up in a very small town where the tragic circumstances surrounding her father's death when she was a little girl, make her shut everyone out. As an adult, she is a successful architect in Chicago and content in her life, until even more tragic events bring her home to the small town in Iowa she swore she'd never return to. The second she gets there, she is itching to leave, but there's something about her grandpa's live in farm hand, Evan, that she can't quite put her finger on. Evan is equally as drawn to Bethany. She infuriates him half of the time, but he also finds himself wanting to find why she is so adamant about locking her feelings  away.
I find myself wondering the whole book whether Bethany would ever stop being so standoffish and open herself up to Evan. I also wondered through out the book what exactly happened to her dad that made her feel the way she did and I was cheering throughout the whole book for her to get over herself and open up to Evan. I thought this was a fantastic book from any author, but I was very surprised to  find it was a debut novel. I thought the story flowed well and as soon as I reached the end, I thought that I would love to read a second book involving some of these characters and was happy to see in the author's acknowledgments that there is indeed one in the works. I can only hope that Evan and Bethany at least in some way, are a part of that book as well. I know it will be a great novel regardless and look forward to reading it!

Read the first chapter!
More info about the book
Katie Ganshert's website

*Disclaimer- I was provided an advanced copy of Wildflowers from Winter from WaterBrook Multnomah via their Blogging for Books program in return for my review. All thoughts stated here are 100% my own.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Going on Vacation

Today, I will be boarding a plane to leave the heat of Texas and take on all of the beautiful scenery and weather in Colorado to visit my best friend. I can not wait and you can look forward to some reviews of all of the fun things we have planned when I get back!

I will still post some reviews while I am gone the next 5 days, but will be noticeably absent.

What are your favorite places to visit in Colorado? I know we will be spending time in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Georgetown and probably Denver. I have only been to Colorado once a long time ago and I can't wait to be there this evening! I hope everyone has a

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Copy Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables DVD Review & Giveaway

All mothers want what is best for their kids and one of the most important things we can do for them is introduce them to healthy eating habits. Doing so has just become easier with a new dvd- Copy Kids- Eat Fruits and Vegetables.

The idea for this project came about when Cai Dixon noticed her young daughter was more willing to try fruits and vegetables when she saw other children eating them. Kids love mimicking other kids, I know this firsthand from years of experience in the child care field, but I must admit, I was a bit skeptical that watching other kids eat veggies would encourage my kids to do so themselves. They are all huge fruit fans, so we focused on watching the vegetable portions of the dvd.

Maddie-4, Noah-2, Watching
Copy-Kids and sharing a
bowl of carrots!
I wanted to start off with something familiar, so the first time we watched Copy Kids, we got some carrots to eat. All 3 of the kids ate all of the carrots I provided them with. They usually just eat a few and leave the rest. I knew then that this was probably going to work. I let them watch some other sections of the dvd without a food to eat because they were interested and I was not going to say no to them watching other kids practicing good habits. My 4 year old, Maddie, has asked to watch this movie every day since the first time we watched it. We watched it and ate bell peppers (one of my two year old twins devoured half a red bell pepper and then half of a yellow before I cut him off!), then another time with cucumbers and we plan to watch it while eating avacado and broccoli soon. Maddie is really excited about this movie! It is really fun to watch because it is unscripted and kids being themselves always makes for the best entertainment. It really is a cute movie.

Maddie,Noah & Miles
Eating Bell Peppers while
 watching Copy-Kids.
The dvd is divided in chapters making it easy to watch just one segment focusing on one food or choosing to watch several. The vegetables and fruits included on this dvd are bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, tomatoes, broccoli, oranges, bananas, raspberries, strawberries and apples.

I know that getting kids to eat vegetables and even fruit in some cases can be a chore. I usually don't advocate eating in front of the tv, but I think this is a wonderful way to introduce your kids to new, healthy, natural foods. It's fun for them, it's healthy for them and it makes things easier on you!

Eating cucumbers while watching
Copy-Kids with Daddy!
Watch the trailer for Copy Kids Eat Fruits & Vegetables

Selected as one of the 10 best audio/visuals for 2011 by Stevanne Auerbach PhD/Dr. Toy, Copy Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables  is intended for children 6 months- 5 years old. I will be recommending this dvd to everyone mom I know of kids in this age group. Copy Kids Eat Fruits and Vegetables is available $19.95 and has a run time of 115 minutes.

Copy-Kids is a media company encouraging positive habits in young children. More videos planned for the future include tooth brushing, exercising, tying shoes and number & letter recognition.

Copy Kids Media wants to provide one lucky reader with a copy of the dvd! Enter via the rafflecopter below for your chance to win!