A Modern Day Fairy Tale

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Secrets,Murder, Romance: A Buried Secrets Review & Family Christian Giveaway #FCBlogger

**I received a copy of this book from Family Christian in exchange for my review. All thoughts are my own.

Taking a look at the previous book reviews I've written, you've probably come to the conclusion that I seem to prefer very positive, inspirational selections. And that's true, I DO love surrounding myself with positive stories. But on occasion, I also love to read a good mystery! Something to mix it up a bit, to test my own mystery solving skills.

So, I was excited to have the chance to review bestselling author Irene Hannon's newest book, Buried Secrets! Take a look:

After seven years as a Chicago homicide detective, Lisa Grant has hit a wall. Ready for a kinder, gentler life, she takes a job as a small-town police chief. But then the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew at the edge of town brings her right back to detective ways. Unable to accomplish solving the crime with the few resources the town has, Lisa calls for help.

Detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL, arrives on her doorstep, and as they work to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, danger begins to shadow them. Someone doesn't want this dead person telling any tales--and will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried.

If you're just looking for a book you can read here and there when the mood strikes, I'll warn you... this is not it. I could not put it down! Unlike many mysteries where we have to wait to discover the killer along with our heroes, in this one the reader learns very early on who the culprit is... but don't think that that spoils the story! With each page, we learn more and more secrets and things get more interesting! I could not help but read on to discover what would be uncovered next or what the outcome would be. Mystery, drama, secrets... this book had it all! Even romance! This was much more than a murder mystery, it was also the story of a developing romance, which was almost as much fun as the drama. In fact, I personally found myself wishing there was even more of a followup to see this love blossom.

Now, perhaps you saw the disclaimer and couldn't help but wonder what kind of suspenseful romance novel would be available at Family Christian!? These things just don't sound like they'd go together... but this isn't your typical 'Christian' novel. In fact, I'm not sure I would really consider it one at all. Oh sure, there are brief mentions of praying to God, church and the like, but it's not the sole focus of the story... it is more that these characters happen to be Christian and speak about it. It wasn't cheesy, it wasn't in your face, it just was. I love that this opens the book up to a broader audience, because anyone could enjoy it- Christian or not. But it also means that it is clean. Don't get me wrong, it can get fairly dark at points where the murder is concerned- but there is no language, no explicit romance scenes... it is a suspenseful romance that my conservative self can feel good about reading... I don't feel like I have to wade through the muck to get to the story!

This was truly a great read and I cannot wait to read more selections from this Men of Valor series! But don't just take my word for it, you can purchase your own copy at Family Christian!

For more great selections from Irene Hannon and other great authors, be sure to connect with Family Christian at the links below:

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And one very lucky reader is going to have the chance to win a $25 Family Christian Appreciation Certificate! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

Let It Be Jesus: Christy Nockels {A Music Review & Giveaway} #LetItBeJesus

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

I've said it once and I will say it again... I just love music! Especially Christian music! There is nothing that can turn a bad day around like turning on a great album and belting out praises! I have often said that I truly could not feel closer to God than those moments in song, so I am always looking for fun new artists to listen to... and there are certainly a lot of great options out there! From country to rock to pop, there is Christian music to suit every taste! But more than anything, I just want something I can sing along to!

So, I was thrilled to have the chance to experience Christy Nockels' new album, Let It Be Jesus.

Unfamiliar with Christy? Here's a little background:

As a worship leader for many years, she has been an integral part of Passion Conferences from its inception in 1997.  She's seen first hand music sweep people into the presence of God in a powerful way. 
A pastor’s kid, who was born in Fort Worth and raised in Oklahoma, she grew up singing in church. She met her husband, Nathan, in 1993 at the Christian Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Co. They recorded an independent record with fellow worship leader Charlie Hall under the name Sons & Daughters that led to an invitation from Louie Giglio to participate in the first Passion conference in Austin. Christy’s voice gained a national platform when she and Nathan formed the duo Watermark, recording four acclaimed albums before that musical season ended, paving the way for Christy’s solo career. In 2008, the couple moved to Atlanta to become part of Passion City Church where she serves on the worship team with sixstepsrecords labelmates Chris Tomlin and Kristian Stanfill. The following year, Nockels released her acclaimed solo debut, Life Light Up and spent much of the next two years touring with Tomlin and Passion.

To be honest, I don't believe I had heard of Christy Nockels myself before this review, so I was looking forward to experiencing her music for the first time. And it did not take long for me to become a fan! Her voice was absolute perfection! So beautiful, soulful... there are many great singers in this world but nothing takes a performer to the next level than the passion and emotion... both quite evident in this live album. I was honestly glad I decided to listen to this while at home not on the road as I normally do with new CDs, because I found myself wanting to close my eyes and simply take in the words... and what beautiful words they are! In many ways, I was very much reminded of a female version of Chris Tomlin- simple, powerful lyrics... nothing over the top, but simply allowing the words to speak for themselves! 

Though I don't typically prefer live albums, with this particular album I actually felt that it was a perfect fit. It allowed that fire and that passion to burn through each and every song... absolutely beautiful! This has certainly become a favorite in my music rotation and I find myself wanting to discover more from Christy as well!

Want to see more from her? Check out the links below:

Let It Be Jesus will be available to purchase on April 28! And one very lucky reader is going to win a code to download a copy for themselves! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Be a #SidelineHero for Your Soccer Hero with POWERADE {+ Free Printable} #ad

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SidelineHero #CollectiveBias

Meet Shaun. He's seven years old, and a fantastic soccer player.

Okay, okay... mommy goggles aside, he may not be THAT fantastic. He sometimes runs in the wrong direction, struggles to remember the rules, kicks the ball out of bounds and cheers or scores for the other team. He gets distracted often and well, there's this...

But I could not be more proud of my soccer player! In my eyes, he is the best, he is a champ!

Why do I say this? Because he goes out on the field and he plays. And he does it with his whole heart, smiling each and every step of the way. He loves his teammates, he loves his coach and he loves to go out and play.

You see, my son has autism and for the longest time the idea of playing an organized team sport seemed like a far off dream. He has struggled with understanding directions. He has struggled with playing WITH his peers, not just beside them. He has struggled with changes in routine, aggression and sensory issues in crowds. He has always preferred to do his own thing, and be by himself. So, when he said he wanted to play soccer... on a team... naturally, we were thrilled and jumped in headfirst. And he did wonderfully! He had a wonderful coach, great teammates and an overall great experience. He played on a league that wasn't overly competitive but instead focused on teaching kids the fundamentals. It was a perfect fit.

Admittedly, Shaun may not be the greatest soccer player in the world. He's not going to give David Beckham a run for his money or anything, but he is still MY hero on the soccer field. And I strive to be his hero on the sidelines! His biggest fan!

Do you want to be a hero for your soccer star? There are plenty of ways to show them that you are behind them every step of the way- make signs, make t-shirts, cheer- loudly- the possibilities are endless. But one great way to show them you care is by creating a fun treat bag to keep them energized and hydrated as they play. I took a little trip to my local Walmart to find just the treats I needed to be my son's sideline hero.

Now, kids may prefer the sugar-y sweets, but when it comes to keeping my son active and healthy, being a real sideline hero means providing him with healthier options. So I picked up some fresh fruits and veggies ideal for kids on the go- grapes, blueberries, carrots, celery, apples... so many great options. My kids love their fruits and veggies anyway, but to make it more fun and offer a little more encouragement, I created this fun printable to spice it up. Print your own, attach to the treat bag, and you're set. Almost!

When playing soccer (or any sport), staying hydrated is key! And for that POWERADE® is a great option.
Here's why:

  • ION4® Advanced Electrolyte System helps replenish four electrolytes lost in sweat: sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
  • POWERADE® is formulated with Vitamins B3, B6, & B12 to support energy metabolism, and a 6% carbohydrate solution to help provide energy to working muscles.

    POWERADE® believes that we all have the ability to power through and reach our athletic potential. POWERADE® is teaming up with the Boys and Girls Club, providing the belief, emotional and physical support, and hydration young athletes need to perform.
    Look for a coupon on the 12-pack 12 oz POWERADE® packages and you can get $1 off Walmart fresh produce when you buy two 12-pack 12 oz POWERADE®. Hurry this deal is only available while supplies lasts!

    With fresh produce and 
    POWERADE® on my side, I can truly provide not just the emotional encouragement, but the physical support my kiddo and his team need to power through and play their best! I love being a sideline hero for MY soccer hero!

    Don't forget to connect with 
    POWERADE® at the links below:

    Follow on Twitter.
    Like on Facebook
    Follow on Instagram.
    Subscribe to YouTube.

    How are YOU a sideline hero for your little athlete? How can 
    POWERADE®  help?

  • Get Mom Fashion Show Ready with The Organic Face Makeup {A #MomFashion Giveaway}

    Welcome to The Mommy Fashion Show, a giveaway hop event hosted by The Mommy Island & The Kids Did It. All giveaways run from April 20-May 4, 2015 and features prizes valued at a $15 minimum to help mommy look her best! Enter my giveaway and hop along for more great prizes!!


    **Product received for review. All thoughts are my own!

    As a stay at home/work at home mom, there are many days that I don't even change out of lounge clothes! And sometimes, that's a nice feeling... but honestly, I LOVE those chances I have to actually get dressed up! I love fashion and always find I feel much more confident when I look better. And for me, makeup is definitely the finishing touch to complete the look.

    It's amazing how much a little makeup can completely change your whole look isn't it? Personally, I like to keep things very simple and natural looking. A little foundation, a little mascara and a little lip gloss is my everyday look. It's simple, doesn't look overdone but gives me that 'finished' look. So, I'm always on the lookout for great products to help me accomplish this ideal look.

    Still, as much as I want to look my best, I also try to use more natural products where I can! So, I was excited to have the chance to try out a fabulous natural makeup company, The Organic Face! Here's a little bit about the company:

    The Organic Face is a proudly owned Made in the USA Beauty Company dedicated to creating natural organic cosmetics and skincare products using active botanical ingredients and minerals. Our mission is to create beauty products that are as safe for you on the inside as they are to your skin on the outside.

    We invest in the best active botanical ingredients and naturally occurring minerals to find the most innovative and natural formulations that work hard to enhance your skin’s natural beauty. Quality ingredients combined with fashion forward colour palettes, deliver a flawless finish every time, while also being suitable for people with sensitive skin or conditions like acne, eczema, dermatitis, and rosacea.

    • Patented Pending Formulas
    • Mother Nature's Finest Gifts
    • No Synthetic Fillers & No Talc
    • Pigmented From The Earth
    • No Animal Testing
    • USDA Certified
    • 100% Natural 95% Organic Lipsticks
    • 100% Natural 95% Organic Foundation Powders
    • 100% Natural 95% Organic Lipsticks & Lip Glosses
    • No Dyes or Chemical Preservatives

    Sounds pretty great, right? Naturally I could not wait to try it out. For this review, I received the Addiction Lip Gloss in Dusty Rose.

    This was the perfect color to give me the natural look I wanted with just the right amount of shine. It went on smoothly, and looked wonderful. More importantly, I felt comfortable not only using it on myself, but smothering my kiddos in kisses with it on! This has quickly become a favorite for my daily look and I hope to add more shades from the line for different looks!

    If you're looking for great makeup that will help you look beautiful naturally, The Organic Face has you covered! And until June 30, you can save 20% on your purchase with the code SPRING20. You can see more and connect at the links below:

    Shop the Website.
    Like on Facebook.
    Follow on Twitter.

    And one lucky reader will be chosen to win an Organic Face Lip Gloss in choice of color! ($20 ARV) Open to Continental US residents only Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

    Friday, April 17, 2015

    David Phelps: Freedom {A Cd Review & Giveaway} #FCBlogger

    **Product received for review. All thoughts are my own.

    Music has always been an important part of my life. For as long as I can remember, I was singing! I'd sing around my house, I'd sing in the car... my first job was actually going from store to store 'caroling' with my sisters during an Easter celebration in the town my mom worked at. We were paid in gift certificates from the various stores in the area, but were even offered a regular 'gig' at a bakery there that featured local musicians. We did talent shows (and won) and attended karaoke nights. As I got older I participated in choir and school musicals. Every Sunday night, I'd also perform with one of my close friends. As you can see, music was important to me.

    These days, I don't perform anymore... at least not for anyone but my children! Still music still remains an important part of my life- especially Christian music. I cannot help but find myself being brought closer to God as I listen to Christian hits while driving in my car or cleaning my house. I love finding new artists and new lyrics that speak to me. So, I was thrilled to be given the chance to experience David Phelp's new album, Freedom:

    GRAMMY®-nominated, classically trained tenor David Phelps showcases his award-winning voice and three-octave range on his all-new recording,
    Freedom. Featuring unique arrangements of cherished gospel classics such as “We Shall Behold Him” and “Ain’t No Grave” as well as riveting arrangements of new songs, Freedom highlights Phelps’ unprecedented style and underscores his ability to bring music to life.

    Track List
    I'm Coming Home
    Who Do You Say That I Am 
    Ghost Town (Freedom) 
    Little White Church 
    Ain't No Grave 
    We Shall Behold Him 
    What I Need is You 
    Holy (Sanctus) 
    Parable of the River 
    Your Time Will Come 
    The Lily 
    Heaven’s Shore 
    When the Saints Go Marching In

    Now, before receiving this album I had heard OF David Phelps, but never heard his music that I recall. I'd heard great things about him and knew he performed with The Gaither Vocal Band, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as I knew some selections from The Gaither Vocal Band were a bit old-fashioned for my taste. When I put the CD I was pleasantly surprised. David's voice is beautiful! A few songs had hints of country- such as Little White Church (perhaps my favorite on the album), while others were more classic hymns. Soulful, deep, beautiful... this was truly a fantastic album all around.

    Now, this wasn't the most contemporary selection in the world, nor was it the most get up and dance selection either. In fact, this would not be first on my list for those days when I throw on some music to energize myself... but for those times when I need a bit of relaxation? This is perfect. Listening to David's soulful sound, I cannot help to calm down and take in the words! Absolutely beautiful!

    But you don't have to just take my word for it! Family Christian is offering one lucky reader the chance to win a copy for themselves! Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

    And don't forget to check out Family Christian for ALL of your Christian music needs:
    Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FamilyChristian 
    Follow on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/familychristian/ 
    Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FamilyChristian?ref=bookmarks 
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    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

    Thursday, April 16, 2015

    Sensory Seeking on a Budget

    For children (and adults) with sensory issues, there are generally two types of people- those who seek sensory input and those who avoid it.

    My son Shaun is (mostly) a sensory seeker.

    So, what does this mean? What does it look like?

    Like all things with autism, it can look a little different for each individual but to put it simply, a sensory seeker craves sensory input- they're often in constant motion, like to touch everything, love deep pressure and physical activity. For Shaun, it looks like a bundle of energy- there is a reason that when my husband and I were asked to draw a picture to represent him, we individually came up with The Flash logo! He is always moving- jumping, dancing, spinning, hopping on one foot... even in his sleep he tosses and turns, kicks and flails. He loves flashing lights, watching things spin, vibrant colors. At 7.5 years old, he still mouths absolutely everything and is always wanting to eat- regardless if he just ate a full meal. He touches everything- walls, people, whatever he happens to walk past. He's loud- constantly talking or making noises of some sort... the noisier the toys, the better. He likes to smell things- good or bad, he will sniff it all and seems to remember and recognize scents easier than most. Touch, smell, sight, sound... he wants to take it all in.

    On the outside, that sensory seeking looks like a child bouncing off the walls...quite literally. It's climbing, it's jumping, it's spinning, it's constant... and as a mother, it's a little bit exhausting! So, we are always on the lookout for great ways to allow Shaun to get that sensory input he craves at home. The problem? Our budget!

    Honestly, in an ideal world I would have a room dedicated to my son's sensory needs- swings, mats to jump on and climb on, tools for deep pressure...the works! Unfortunately, all of these things would quickly add up and are way out of our budget. Autism is expensive! But over the years we have found there are some much less expensive options that can help. Today, I wanted to share how you too can give your sensory seeker a positive sensory experience at home, without breaking the bank:

    • Create a Pillow Fort. Sensory seekers love crashing into soft surfaces. Use a kid tent or build your own fort and fill with pillows and plush toys. This will give your little one a soft place to land and can be quite calming.
    • DIY Ball Pit. You can typically find inexpensive ball pits at toy stores, but they tend to be just big enough for a toddler. Instead, purchase the balls separately and get creative. Use a kiddie pool, fill a tent, use a playpen. There are a ton of great options!
    • Chewing Gum. For a kid who craves oral sensory input, gum can be a must have. Not only does it offer them something to chew (aside from shirts, toys, etc), but also gives them some flavor as well. 
    • Body Pillow Squeezes. Sensory seekers love deep pressure, so for an easy at home trick invest in a body pillow. Have your little one lay on the pillow and squish their legs/bottom in the pillow. (Don't have a body pillow, just squeeze them between a few regular pillows!)
    • Bear Hugs. No extra equipment needed- there is nothing my son loves more than the biggest bear hug I can muster!
    • Play Dough/ Moon Sand/ Clay. These can all provide great sensory input... and is super fun for everyone. Buy Playdoh or create your own more natural/allergy friendly options (recipe coming soon!). For even more fun, hide some small toys within the sand/dough and let your little one search for them!
    • Bargain Toys. Believe it or not, toy bargain bins can be a great resource for sensory friendly toys. Find inexpensive toys with fun lights, cool textures and sounds. Anything squeezable or that spins is ideal! One of my son's current favorites is a Pin Art toy which we found for just $5 at Target! Keep some of these set aside for when your little one really needs them to keep the novelty from wearing off.
    • DIY Weighted Products. I cannot say enough positive things about weighted products, but they are quite price-y. If you are crafty however, you can make your own. (Google for tutorials!)
    • Exercise Ball. You can generally buy a large exercise ball for $10-20... this is a great tool to have on hand. Help your little one bounce on the ball with your support, lay them on their tummy over the ball and roll gently or even just take it outside and roll it into each other.
    • Just Exercise! When my son starts to get overly excited, he'll start doing jumping jacks or push ups. This gives him the physical motion he craves but is more productive than jumping aimlessly.
    • Aromatherapy. For the child who likes smells, aromatherapy can be great. They get the sensory input they crave AND the therapeutically benefits of essential oils. I personally love calming oils like lavender for my overactive son! Plant Therapy offers some wonderful child friendly options at a great price!
    • Check Yard Sales. Chances are you probably won't find actual therapy tools at yard sales, but there are many bargains that will do the job. Anything that spins, has lights, fun textures. Look for small trampolines or a crib mattress for jumping fun. Sit-N-Spins can be great for spinning and a pretty common yard sale find. Also look for lava lamps or other interesting lighting! Use your imagination.
    • The Cocoon. There are many products on the market that allow for a snug 'cocoon like' feel, but again, they can get pretty expensive. But if you have blankets, that's all you need. Break out your swaddling skills and wrap them up. My son LOVES having peace and quiet in his cocoon!
    These are just a few of many ways to give your little one a fantastic inexpensive sensory seeking experience. The important thing to remember is to use your imagination. Autism can be very expensive, but it doesn't have to completely break the bank.

    Do you have other at home sensory experiences to share? Leave your ideas in the comments below.

    Wednesday, April 15, 2015

    God Made You Special: A DIY Autism Awareness Cross

    It's no secret that we are a little Veggie Tales obsessed around here! If you're familiar with the show, you know that each episode ends with the signature sign off, "God made you special and he loves you very much."

    Could there be any greater words to teach our children? As the mother of a special needs child, I find this to be an especially true sentiment. Despite my sons differences, I want him to realize that he is made just as God intended- and is absolutely perfect as he is. So, this month, in honor of Autism Awareness Month I wanted to do a little craft to remind him just that- an Autism Awareness Cross!

    Want to make your own? Follow these simple instructions:

    • Cross Base
    • Painted Puzzle Pieces
    • Glue

    1. If you aren't using an already made cross base, start by creating this. I personally prefer using a precut craft cross myself, but if using this in the classroom, craft popsicle sticks work well for a cost effective option.

      Here is an example of what this popsicle stick option would look like:

    2. Next up, start gluing. Go in a pattern, add at random... there are no rules.Keep adding puzzle pieces until it's covered!
    3. That's it! You're done! Add a ribbon to hang, back with card stock or leave as it is! 
    4. Display proudly throughout April and beyond.
    Tips: Not sure where to find puzzle pieces to paint? I personally love finding them at yard sales. You can generally find them for under $1 and it doesn't matter if they're missing pieces. Thrift stores and Freecycle are also good places to check. If all else fails, check your local dollar stores for inexpensive puzzles! I generally hand paint all my puzzle pieces with craft paint, but should you come across a puzzle with darker backing, spray paint is a great, quick alternative!!

    I did this project with my son to remind HIM how special he is, but this is also a great lesson for ALL kids to teach that God has made us all special, and that we should respect those who may be differently-abled.

    For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. -Psalm 139: 13-14

    Looking for more Christian lessons for kids? Be sure to check out this Pinterest board from Family Christian for more inspiration:

    Follow Family Christian's board Classroom Ideas on Pinterest.

    In what other ways can we teach our children to love and respect individuals with special needs?