A Modern Day Fairy Tale: 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015! Hello 2016!!

2015 is coming to a close, and can I just say...what a relief!? I have to admit, 2015 has not been the kindest year to my family.

Much of the year was spent adjusting to life as a civilian family...and we found that that was a life that just wasn't for us. In August, we became a military family once again when my husband joined the National Guard as a recruiter, bringing along its own adjustments. In the midst of these big life changes we found ourselves dealing with setbacks with our oldest child, and a stream of bad luck all around.

Still, despite the negatives the year brought, I am hopeful that 2016 will be a much greater year for us. And like most of us, I have many plans and goals that I hope to focus on in the new year. I don't like to think of them as resolutions so much- that word puts a lot of pressure on us to keep them, doesn't it? When we fall short as we so often to, we get disappointed and frustrating and often feel as though we should just give up completely. Instead, I like to set more attainable goals for myself. Rather than saying 'I will stop', I tell myself 'I will do better'. For me, I've found that this makes keeping those 'resolutions' much easier.

So, what AM I looking forward to in 2016? Here is a brief look:

Adjust to Our New Normal. My husband only officially started as a full time soldier in November, so needless to say this is all still very new again for us. In 2016, I hope to continue that transition and get back in the groove of being a military family yet again, and finding out what that means now for us as not a Marine Corps family, but a National Guard one.

Find Ways to Stress Less. I'll admit, I'm a worry-er...I worry about just about everything! The last few months of 2015 have been prime examples of that for me. I don't believe I will ever stop being a worry-er completely, but I do hope to find even more ways to help lessen my stress levels in the new year- whether that means through stress relieving activities like coloring or lightening my load where I can, I'm not yet sure, but we will see where the year leads us!

Help My Children Grow. Isn't that a goal we all have for ourselves as mothers? As I said, for my oldest we have dealt with many setbacks this year- all part of life with autism I suppose. In the new year, I hope to continue to find ways to reach him and help him through his struggles. I cannot set any definitive goals for him, as I don't even know what our day to day might bring, let alone the whole year. I can only hope to continue to find ways to do the best I can to be there however he needs me most.

Be a Better Homemaker. With two kids running around making messes, I must confess at times my house seems a little out of control. I've cleaned up one mess and they've made three more. (Anyone else?) Now, I'm not going to stress those messes TOO much- after all, the kids are only little one- but I would like to find a routine that helps me keep it under a bit better control!

Improve this Blog. This has been a goal of mine for the past few years, and it's one that I must say I think I've done pretty well with. I may not have the huge numbers that some other bloggers I admire have, but I'm okay with that! I have created some wonderful content that I can feel proud of, which is the most important thing anyway and something I hope to continue in 2016.

Take Better Care of Me. Yes, I'll admit that I am one of those moms that tend to put everyone else before myself... and that's not always the best thing! Now, as my daughter is getting a bit older, I have to remember to take that time. Whether it's a long shower by myself, an occasional shopping spree just for me or sleeping in without guilt, this is something I definitely need to improve upon.

Do you set New Year's Resolutions/Goals? I would love to hear what you are working on this year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Simple Ways to Say 'Thank You, Teacher!': A Gift Book Review

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

Teachers do so much for our little ones don't they?

They spend their days working with our children to help teach them everything they need to know to succeed. And it doesn't stop when the bell rings. They spend their evenings grading papers, writing lesson plans and coming up with new ways to reach their students. Many teachers even use their own money to make sure their classroom is stocked with everything our little ones need.

And when you have one of those great teachers who goes above and beyond...? Oh, what a difference that can make. Having a child in special education, we have seen both bad teachers and good teachers...and those great teachers really make such an amazing impact, inspiring a love of learning that will carry on beyond the classroom. Yes, teachers truly do a lot, and they deserve the utmost appreciation for all they do.

But, how do we show teachers how much they are appreciated?

Here are a few quick ways:

  • Volunteer in the classroom. Teachers have a lot on their plate, when possible, volunteer your own time to help lighten the load.
  • Donate supplies. As I said, teachers often pay out of their own pocket for classroom supplies so help out by donating what you can.
  • Help your child at home- be a team! Teachers cannot do it all without parental support. Make sure to help your children outside of the classroom as well. Let your child's teacher know that you are willing to do your part too.
  • Give a Starbucks gift card. Who couldn't use an extra pick me up in the morning? It doesn't have to be much, but a simple cup of coffee can be a great way to say I was thinking of you!
  • Simply say thank you. 

Another fun way to say thank you is with the fun new book Thank You, Teacher!:

Thank your teachers for everything they do by giving them this adorable gift book Thank You, Teacher! Cute and compact, this book expresses appreciation for the knowledge and encouragement teachers offer their students, and also recognizes all the tasks they perform outside the classroom. With charming illustrations and sweet words, this book acknowledges instructors with a special note of gratitude. Tell your mentors how much you appreciate them with Thank You, Teacher!

This book is an adorable, fun way to let your child's teacher know that you appreciate all they do. It acknowledges those late nights, it acknowledges those moments when our kids are having struggles and aren't acting their best, it acknowledges the inspiration and creativity that a good teacher will bring. Whether for the holidays, the end of the year or just because, this truly is a gift that your child's teacher will treasure for years to come! It is an inexpensive gift, with a message that goes a long way.

Ready to show the teacher in your life how much they are appreciated? Thank You, Teacher! is available to purchase now.

Wake Up! with Van's Foods Waffles: A Giveaway #winvansfoods

Let's talk waffles!

How do you like to eat yours? Are you a 'just the basics' type of waffle eater- sticking to simple toppings like butter and syrup or maybe a little bit of fruit? Or are you a 'go all out' waffle eater- creating elaborate meals starting with a simple waffle?

No matter how you like to eat them, when it comes to waffles, no one can beat Van's Foods:

Van’s, the leader in frozen, better-for-you waffles, brings great nutrition, whole grain goodness, non-GMO verified ingredients and gluten-free options to breakfast, lunch and snack time.

With lines that include the popular 8 Whole Grains, Power Grains, Organic and Gluten-Free waffles, Van’s has creative ideas for wholesome breakfasts, lunches, snacks and appetizers perfect for the colder months ahead.

Whether it’s a quick, warm, nutritious breakfast, an allergy-friendly stand-in for bread, or a delicious whole-grain dessert, Van’s waffles are popping up in all kinds of recipes that can be shared again and again.

In my household, we love Van's Foods! They truly have foods that my whole family can enjoy, that are both allergy friendly and delicious too!!! Mostly, we keep our waffles pretty simple around here, but I am loving these ideas for great recipes using Van's waffles:

They all sound pretty fantastic, right? I never would have thought that a simple frozen waffle could be turned into such elaborate and fantastic meals. Which one would you love to make first?

To make those delicious breakfasts a little easier, Van's Foods is offering a giveaway! One very lucky reader is going to win $25 worth of FREE Van's products coupons, a tote bag & water bottle AND a $100 Visa gift card!! Awesome, right? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Superhero Girls in the Bible {Bible Belles' The Adventures of Rooney Cruz Review & Giveaway}

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

Being a mom to a little girl in today's world...well, I have to admit, it's a little bit scary! With pop culture sending our girls so many negative signals, I worry about the lessons she is learning from it all. Of course, I try to set a positive role model for my daughter myself and try to be the type of woman that I want her to strive to be, but I know that at some point, the idea of being like mom isn't go to be a good one! Aside from that, I'm only human and only one person. I want her to have many strong female role models to look up to. But she's certainly not going to find those in most celebrities these days (nor would I want her to). So, where do we find those women?

Believe it or not, these superhero women are as close as our Bibles. The new series Bible Belles shows us some great examples:

Bible Belles' The Adventures of Rooney Cruz is an original children’s series that presents real heroes like never before. The series highlights five superhero women of the Bible: Hannah, Esther, Abigail, Ruth, and Deborah. In today’s world, the girls who are the loudest are the ones who get noticed.
Together, the Bible Belles show all of us how to make a different kind of noise.

Sounds like a fantastic series, right? I thought so too, and was excited to experience the first book in the series for myself, Hannah: The Belle of Prayer-

In Book One of the Bible Belles series, Rooney Cruz isn’t exactly having a great day. The normal teasing on the playground and, oh, that mud puddle! But soon an angel appears, and Rooney begins a journey that will change her life forever.

She makes a shocking discovery: superheroes are real, and she’s one of them!

Join Rooney as she uncovers the first secret superpower that she possesses: the Power of Prayer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will transform her into the greatest superhero of all: a Bible Belle!

I've said many times that my kids are big fans of Bible stories. They love reading all those classics, and even about those lesser known characters as well. But with as many Bible stories as we have read over the last few years, Bible Belles is completely unique! This isn't JUST a retelling of a classic Bible story. Instead,we start in the present time, dealing with an issue that unfortunately all too many girls these days are dealing with- teasing and mean girls. We are then introduced to a Bible story that seemed just as familiar. By taking those real life modern issues that girls face and relating it to these Bible stories, girls will not only learn valuable lessons from their stories, but will discover that the Bible is not just an outdated book of stories that happened a long time ago. They truly are stories that are relevant to them even today. The who, the what and the how may change with the times, but many things stay the same, and the Bible can be our go to for any issue we might face.

But most importantly for young girls, it's fun too! It's written wonderfully in a way that is easy for kids to understand and enjoyable for them...and the illustrations are cute and fun too! Though at 2 years old my daughter doesn't actually understand the lessons they teach, but already she enjoys the fun pictures! I look forward to reading this and future books from the series with her as she grows and giving her those fantastic Biblical women to look up to too!

I loved this debut book, and cannot wait to see more books from this wonderful series! If you have young girls, this is one series you are going to want to check out!

Learn more and connect at the links below:

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

And one very lucky reader is going to win a copy for themselves. 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

Monday, December 28, 2015

Grow Closer To God in the New Year with The Bible Is My Best Friend 365 Days {A Review & Giveaway} #FCBlogger

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

With the new year approaching quickly, now is the time that we start to think about goals that we have for the next year. Goals of bettering ourselves, both physically and mentally. For many of us, even bettering ourselves spiritually, with goals of our family growing closer to God. I don't know about you, but that is one goal that I feel like I always want to be working on! Through the start of the new year and beyond.

A few weeks ago, I shared some simple tips to help you to teach your children to love the Bible. I also introduced the fantastic new series by Sheila Walsh- The Bible Is My Best Friend.  As I said in that post, we instantly fell in love with the first book. The fun pictures and sweet story were kid friendly and truly just a great reminder for all ages of just how important the Bible truly is. It is more than a book. It truly is a friend who is there for us in our times of need.

Today, I am excited to share with you another fun product in this collection that truly will make growing closer to God and digging into the Bible much more entertaining in the new year- The Bible Is My Best Friend 365 Days:

Spend a few minutes each day focusing back on God's Word with The Bible Is My Best Friend Flip Book. Wherever you keep it at, the Flip Book can be used in memory practice or as a daily reminder for families reading through its companion title, The Bible Is My Best Friend Family Devotional by best-selling author Sheila Walsh. The Flip Book is also a great standalone product for anyone who wants to revisit key scriptures daily or weekly.

Now, this may look like any other daily tabletop calendar but believe me, it is far from it. For starters, it's not really a calendar at all. It doesn't have the day of the year, but instead just offers a devotion for each and every day. So, while the new year is certainly a great time to start using it, it can be started any time of the year. Each week, kids are given a little something to read daily. On the first day, it's a memory verse that they can come back to and memorize throughout their week. The rest of the week features fun tidbits and activities that go along with that verse, and the final day comes back to the verse again.

For instance, the first week starts with creation. The memory verse was Genesis 1:31: God saw all that He had made and it was very good. The rest of the week focuses on all the good God created. There are facts about the largest and smallest animals, a fun question about God's animals to make us think outside the box, some random Bible info and a prayer again focusing on God's creation. The next week, the topic changes but the fun remains the same- there are more fun facts, parent to kid challenges, kid to parent challenges, riddles, jokes and so many more fun activities. Unlike some devotionals that are all Bible verses all the time, this one mixes the fun with the Bible to make it a one of a kind, must see devotional. It truly helps kids to start their day on a positive note, excited to see what that day's devotion will bring.

Whether used with Meet My Best Friend and/or The Bible Is My Best Friend Family Devotional, or used on its own, this truly is a great way to get the kids excited to learn more about their Bible every single day. You can pick up your own copy at Family Christian.

Find more great products and connect with Family Christian at the links below:

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 
Follow on Tumblr: http://family-christian.tumblr.com 
Follow on Instagram: http://instagram.com/familychristian

And one very lucky winner is going to win one for themselves.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, December 25, 2015

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Enjoy Some Good Clean Laughs with Chonda Pierce {A DVD Review & Giveaway} #FCBlogger

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

This time of year is one filled with a lot of joy... but it has its fair share of stress too, doesn't it? The preparation for the holidays, amplified family and financial stresses, even the letdown after the holidays have passed and life goes back to normal. Then comes the stress the new year brings- the desire to make resolutions to better ourselves, and the pressure to stick to those resolutions.

I don't know about you... but I think we could all use a little laughter in our lives, don't you? And for that I have JUST the thing to end our year off with a laugh: Chonda Pierce Still Laughing After All These Tears - Ultimate Fan Collection:

Still Laughing After All These Tears collects all of Chonda Pierce’s special edition versions of her seven bestselling DVDs and brings them together in this one collection. Included in addition to the full-length comedy routines is an exclusive DVD full of special features.

Product Details: 
Disc 1: Have I Got a Story For You
Disc 2: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid
Disc 3: A Piece of My Mind
Disc 4: Stayin' Alive
Disc 5: This Ain't Prettyville
Disc 6: Did I Sat That Out Loud?
Disc 7: I'm Kind of a Big Deal
Disc 8: Exclusive Bonus Features:
A new, never before seen show
Life Today Interview
Preview of Chonda's first movie "Laughing in the Dark"
Laughtones for your phone,
new taped interviews introducing all 7 shows
desktop pictures for computer and/or tablet

Now, I have to admit... I'm typically not a huge fan of stand up comedy. Don't get me wrong, I love to laugh, but most of the comedians you hear about get those laughs through inappropriate jokes and making fun of others. Quite frankly, I just don't see the need for that! If I feel the need to put in a good comedy DVD to lift my spirits, I don't want to have to worry that my kids will walk into the room and hear something that they shouldn't. I just want a little good clean fun! Is that too much to ask?

Actually, it's not. Chonda Pierce provides just that! Again, I have to be honest...until this review, I really had no idea who Chonda Pierce was. But I figured if this set was exclusive to Family Christian, it would probably be a safe choice for me! No inappropriate content to worry about! So, I took the chance! I'm glad I did! This DVD set has provided just the fun and laughter I needed, without anything I didn't! It's truly no wonder she has often been called 'The Queen of Clean'!

But seriously, Chonda was born in Kentucky and raised in South Carolina, so she has that fantastic southern accent that I could just listen to all day...What is it about a Southern twang that makes an already funny store even MORE hilarious!? Chonda Pierce is definitely a fantastic story teller and I found myself wanting to hear more and more...which is great, because this set is packed full! Not only does it have all 7 of her bestselling DVDs, but it has tons of bonus features too! I haven't quite made it through the whole set just yet, but I'm loving what I've seen so far. These are the perfect DVDs to pop in after a long day when I just need to unwind and have a laugh!

Whether you're a long time Chonda Pierce fan, or someone like me who has just heard of her, this set is definitely worth checking out. It is available EXCLUSIVELY at Family Christian!! Amazing!

You can find this and more good clean fun at Family Christian. Check them out and connect at the links below:

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 
Follow on Tumblr: http://family-christian.tumblr.com 
Follow on Instagram: http://instagram.com/familychristian

And one very lucky reader is going to win a copy for themselves! 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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Songs of the Season: A Few of My Favorite Christmas Songs

Christmas is almost here! I could not be more excited!

One of my favorite parts of Christmas has to be the music! Honestly, I would listen to it all year if I could. I love hearing those old Christmas favorites, and discovering new ones too. Some of my favorite songs are those that share the true meaning of the holiday. Today, in anticipation of the Christmas I wanted to share a few of my favorites with all of you to enjoy:

I Celebrate the Day- Relient K

And the first time
That You opened Your eyes did You realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever
To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me
In the hope that what You did
That you were born so I might live
To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me
And I, I celebrate the day
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life

Mary Did You Know- Pentatonix

Mary did you know.. Mary did you know

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.

A Christmas To Believe in- Matthew West

More than just a Merry Christmas
I'm wishing you a Christmas to believe in
Where the moments turn to memories
And years from now you'll close your eyes and see them
More than just another busy season
I'm wishing you a Christmas to believe in
A Christmas to believe in

Hallelujah, we believe in Christmas

It's grandpa's Bible opened up to Luke Chapter 2
It's the greatest gift of love being born for me and you
It's a heart returning home to the One who is the reason
Every Christmas is a Christmas to believe in
May your Christmas be a Christmas to believe in

Do you have a favorite Christmas song? Share in the comments, I'd love to listen!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Make Worship Fun for Kids with Bethel Music Kids Come Alive (A Review)

**Product received for review. All thoughts are my own.
Do you kids enjoy those CDs where it's all kids singing versions of the top hits on the radio?

I have to say, every time my oldest sees these he gets very excited! There is just something about a CD by kids for kids that appeals to, well, kids! But I have to be honest, even though I know that these do sometimes change the words a bit to make them more suitable for children, I'm just not sure that many of the songs featured are songs I really want my kids listening to. I don't want to have a kid friendly version to have to be made, I want them to listen to songs that are safe for them to sing, without changing the words!

This is one reason that you will find that our radio station is always set to K-Love. I love surrounding my kids with positive, Christian music that I can feel good about them singing along too- straight from the radio station!

Still, as I said, my son is drawn to those kids singing for kids CDs. So, I was thrilled when I learned about Bethel Music Kids and their new album, Come Alive:

Bethel Music is thrilled to present their first and highly anticipated kids project, “Come Alive”. A high-energy album and DVD, “Come Alive” presents 11 Bethel Music worship favorites sung by kids from the Bethel Church community.

The album’s tracks have been reconstructed into synth-pop dance mixes with a life all their own. The accompanying concert film presents 11 story-based music videos full of vibrant group choreography that invites viewers to join the fun. Ten of these engaging music videos were shot on location at various businesses and locations in the city of Redding, California.

Ideal for kids and families, this project is aimed at cultivating in the next generation the greatness they possess as children of God, the inseparable connection they have to Jesus, and the truth that they are powerful vessels of worship and contributors in the kingdom. With friends or family, Bethel Music Kid’s “Come Alive” will move your heart and move your feet. 

This fun album takes everything that my son is drawn to from those 'other albums', but with songs that I approve of...and many that we already know and love! Take a look at this awesome track list:

01) Chasing You

02) This Is Amazing Grace

03) You Make Me Brave

04) O Taste And See

05) You Are Good

06) Breaking Through

07) Freedom

08) Deep Cries Out

09) This Is What You Do

10) Ever Be

11) One Thing Remains

This fun album and DVD too truly do bring worship music to kids, making it fun and accessible to them! It makes worship fun for them- isn't that what it should be?

The Come Alive album and DVD is available to purchase NOW! Learn more and purchase at bethelmusickids.com

Monday, December 21, 2015

Whatever Is Lovely: The Ultimate Coloring Worship Experience (A Review)

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

Have you gotten the coloring bug yet?

If you've already started coloring and are on the search for another great addition to your collection, you've come to the right review. If you've not yet started your addiction, I've got the coloring book that just might win you over: Whatever Is Lovely:

Color your way to peace and worship.

We live in such a busy, hectic world—but what waits for you inside this cover is a way to quiet the noise, express creativity, and spend some sweet time with God. Each page features an original design from one of a dozen different artists, beautifully illustrating a contemplative quote from an inspirational writer, a beloved hymn, or Scripture. 

When we create, we echo the heart of our Creative God who designed everything and gave us the capacity to recognize beauty. 

So go ahead! You have permission to pick up your colored pencil and be reminded of truth in a fresh way. 

To help set the perfect mood for worship, contemplation, and creative expression, a link to the “Whatever Is Lovely” playlist is included. 

I mentioned before that my love of adult coloring books actually began as an extension of Bible journaling. I'm far from a great artist, so I thought if I found a design I loved in a faith based coloring book, I could trace it into my Bible and make it my own from there. Sounds like a great idea, right? But I quickly discovered that I actually enjoyed coloring all on its own. It took many of those aspects that I loved about Bible journaling, in a slightly different package. I didn't have to find the verses I loved and come up with a beautiful scene to depict it, I simply had to color it in. But it still gave me that relaxation that Bible journaling created, and when I was using faith based coloring books, I could still reflect on God's goodness. Perhaps that's why I'm particularly drawn to those.

Since I started my coloring book obsession, I have quickly built up quite the collection and I love them all...but Whatever Lovely might be my favorite yet! So, what makes it a favorite? Let's take a look:

The Artwork.
First and foremost, the most important part of any coloring book has to be the artwork...and this one lives up to the title- whatever is lovely. It's absolutely beautiful. Most of the coloring books I have already are illustrated by a single person, so while every page is beautiful and unique, the style stays the same. This one features a variety of illustrators so there truly are several different styles to choose from, making each turn of the page something fun and unique from the last.

The Inspiration. As I said, faith based coloring books tend to be my favorites, as I love that they give me the opportunity to reflect on my relationship with God. Whatever Is Lovely offers a perfect combination of not just scripture, but also words from classic hymns and even quotes from various bloggers. As much as I love scripture art, I do love that these quotes give me a whole new perspective to reflect on as well! Plus, I really love seeing the words of some of my own personal favorite bloggers!

The Experience. Much like Bible journaling, I truly feel that coloring books such as this one can be a great outlet for creative worshiping. While we are coloring, we can also reflect on the words on the page and just spend that time with God. But beyond the coloring, beyond the words, I also love that Whatever Is Lovely completes the worship experience, there is a playlist available to fully complete the worship experience. This is one coloring experience that truly is unlike any other!

As you can see, there are many reasons to fall in love with this coloring book! If you love to color already or are just getting started, this is a must add to your collection! It is available to purchase now.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition Gift Set: A Review & Activities

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

Christmas is almost here! And I don't know about your home, but in mine, the excitement is all around! We absolutely, positively love the holidays! We love the lights we love the music... we love it all. But perhaps my most favorite thing about the Christmas season is the tradition of it all.

When we take a look back throughout the years we see that many things in our lives have changed. We've gotten new careers, we've moved, our children have grown older...as have we. But when it comes to the holidays, so many things always remain the same. Maybe it's the annual family trip to spend the holidays together as a family. Maybe it's a traditional meal that you eat each year, no matter where life takes you. Maybe it's traditions like Elf of the Shelf, or writing letters to Santa. Christmas Mass, caroling, holiday parties...everywhere we look Christmas is surrounded by traditions.

And it's not just the big traditions that I enjoy, but those little things too. Like watching all of our favorite holiday films all over again each year! When it comes to Christmas movies, no collection would be complete without the classics like Santa Claus is Comin' To Town, Frosty and Rudolph. And with the new anniversary collector's edition gift set, adding them to your collection could not be easier:

The Original Christmas Classics Anniversary Collector’s Edition Gift Set
Share the wonder and the joy of these seven timeless stories with your children and grandchildren…creating new memories and holiday traditions that you will cherish through the years.
Gift Set Includes:
  • Santa Claus is Comin' To Town!® 45th Anniversary Collector's Edition
  • Frosty The Snowman 45th Anniversary Collector's Edition
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 50th Anniversary Collector's Edition
  • Plus Frosty Returns, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, Little Drummer Boy, and Cricket on the Hearth!
In my family, like so many others, these are Christmas staples. We have seen them again and again and never tire of watching. We have grown up with them ourselves, and have introduced our children to them now. I don't have to tell you what these movies are all about, or why they are so great...you already know!

But these anniversary editions do bring some fresh new fun to the table with all new bonus features! They allow us to take a behind the scenes look at all our favorites! They let us sing and have fun and get in the Christmas spirit with fun holiday sing-a-longs. And perhaps our favorite part, we are even able to learn how to draw our favorite characters from these beloved tales! The movies are great all by themselves, but these fun features take our holiday celebrations to the next level!

What are you waiting for!? Pick up your gift set today!

Ready for even more fun? Click the buttons below for more fun & games!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Importance of Reading For Girls { + a Faithgirlz Review}

**Thanks to Family Christian for sponsoring today's post. All thoughts are my own.

From as early as I can remember, I have been a bit of a bookworm. While the other kids were running around riding bikes or playing tag, I could often be found sitting on the porch swing with my nose in a book. While the girls my age were requesting Barbies for Christmas, I was instead asking for books (though I did enjoy Barbies too, of course!). This is a love that has stayed and grown with me throughout the years, and as I watch my 2 year old daughter, it is one that I hope I will have passed onto her as well. So much of who I am today, is because of those many books that I read as a young girl, and I am ever so thankful to have had parents who encouraged that love in me as well.

As a mother, I truly feel that there is nothing greater that we can do for our children- especially our daughters- than to inspire in them a love of books. Of course, we all know the many reasons books are important for all kids- they aid in focus, increase vocabulary, they exercise their minds... but they do so much more than that too! Today, I'm sharing my own thoughts on the importance of encouraging girls to read, through my very own experiences as a child bookworm.

It inspires creativity. Try to find a writer who doesn't also love to read...give up? Chances are, you won't find one! But it's not just creative writers that reading can inspire. The more you read, the more experiences you have to draw upon. It allows you to open your mind and discover new ideas you never would have thought of on your own.

It allows you new experiences. I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Actually, that's not true...I grew up at the end of nowhere, a dead end gravel road (often referred to as the holler) in the country without so much as a post office. Arcades, bowling alleys? No way. The nearest mall was an hour away. Don't get me wrong, I love the county where I grew up, but the reality was there just wasn't a lot of opportunity for new experiences there. But my books gave me that. I may not have been able to hop on a plane and travel the world, but with each turn of the page I was able to travel through time and place and discover worlds unlike anything I could find in my country homes. Though I am not one who enjoys change, I believe it was through these experiences that I truly found that there was more beyond my little piece of the world and helped me to make the decision to explore it a little more. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd have ever had the courage to leave my home and my family behind to move to California with my husband had I not been as avid a reader.

It keeps boredom at bay. Like I said, I grew up in the country. There wasn't a whole lot of entertainment to be had. We didn't have a lot of money, so no Nintendos to be had in our household, nor did we have cable/satellite for a long time either. We had to make our own entertainment. But when you can open a book and find yourself on a pirate ship or discovering a beautiful garden to make all your own...well, that sure beats any old video game any day! It's hard to be bored with so many grand adventures right at your fingertips.

It inspires strength and independence (and other great character traits). This one of course depends on just the type of book your little one is reading, but I know for me personally I found myself drawn to characters with strong females. These were girls who thrived on adventure, and who looked for the positive in less than ideal situations. These are just the kind of traits I want to teach my own daughter!

As you can see, there truly are many great reasons why we should encourage our daughters to read... but how exactly can we do that? First, it's important to introduce them to reading young by reading to them, of course. But once they are old enough, introduce them to books that will catch their interest. Books that are fun and imaginative. Books that feature characters that you hope they can learn from.

Books like The Good News Shoes series from Faithgirlz:

Join Riley Mae Hart on her adventures as the new spokesgirl for the Swiftriver Shoe Company. Along the way, she learns tough but valuable lessons about family, friendship, and what it means to be a godly young woman.

The Books:
Riley Mae and the Rock Shocker Trek
Riley Mae and the Ready Eddy Rapids
Riley Mae and the Sole Fire Safari

For me, series were always the greatest. When I fell in love with a character, I wanted to continue to read about them for as long as I possibly could. I wanted to follow them along on all of their adventures. I wanted more.

Now, I may be 28 years old now, but I have to say Riley May was a pretty easy character to fall in love with. She sweet, she's spunky and she loves adventure and fun. I know that she is just the type of character I would have fallen in love with when I was a child. In the first book, we're introduced to this fun character and her new role as the spokesgirl for the Swiftriver Shoe Company. As the series continues, we follow her along all the adventures that this role leads her own, and the many lessons she learns along the way.

Remember how I mentioned I loved that reading gave me a chance to experience all new experiences different from my own? The Good News Shoes series is a great example of this. Most of us will probably not have the opportunity to travel the country as a spokesperson, but through this series our girls will enjoy the experience through Riley. And while their circumstances may be completely different, the lessons Riley learns are valuable to all girls. This is just the type of series I myself would have loved as a young girl, and just the type of book I hope for my daughter to enjoy when she is a little bit older!

But what about the girl who still just isn't interested in reading? How can we make reading more enjoyable for them?

While I loved a great fictional story when I was young, unfortunately, some girls just aren't going to be interested. But don't give up! Reading is reading, so be it fiction, comic books or even age appropriate magazines...just encourage her to read whatever interests her.

Faithgirlz has great options for this too, such as the new book 101 Things Every Girl Should Know:

The editors of Faithgirlz! and Girls’ Life have collected their best advice to help girls take charge and feel confident in a variety of situations, from changing a bike tire to talking to your teacher about a bad grade, from being threatened by a bully to falling down the stairs at school. What do you do when you’re at a party and you don’t know anyone? What’s the formal way to set a table (and why does it matter)? This random collection of problem-solving strategies helps with everyday stuff, big and small. With tips, advice, and lots of humor, this is a book every girl needs.

This book (and others like it), read much like a magazine with vibrant pictures and fun information that is truly just FUN to read. I was reminded of similar American Girl books I recall enjoying as a child, but loved that these feature more faith friendly topics--- without being overly preachy so it still appeals to young girls. This type of fun, quick read is a great way to inspire girls who may not otherwise not be interested to pick up a book and fall in love with reading!

Whether it's going on adventures and inspiring creative thinking, or making it fun and entertaining, encouraging girls to open a book could not be more important! These fantastic books from Faithgirlz are just some of the great choices that can help.

These books and more are available to purchase now from Family Christian.

See everything they have to offer and connect with Family Christian at the links below:

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 
Follow on Tumblr: http://family-christian.tumblr.com 
Follow on Instagram: http://instagram.com/familychristian

Do you have young girls? How do you encourage them to love to read? What other book choices are at the top of their lists?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Family Fashions On a Budget {Tips & Sites to Help Your Family Look Great...Without Breaking the Bank}

**Post contains referral links.

Yesterday, I shared some tips on how you can save money on your everyday household products, but that's not the only area in our lives that many of us tend to spend a lot.

For many, the biggest money drainer can be fashion. Let's face it, we have to wear clothes and we want them to look nice...but that can cost a ton of money! So, how do we get the fashions we love for every member of the family, but with a price tag we can afford? Today, I'm sharing a few tips and websites that I personally enjoy that can help you save money!

Shop Thrift Stores. It's no secret that I am a huge thrift shopper! I love searching the racks and finding beautiful pieces for ridiculously low prices. I always try to shop sales whenever possible too, to make those thrift store prices even better! Yes, there is sometimes some searching involved, but when you hit gold, it's completely worth the time and effort.

Check the Clearance Racks. I love a good clearance rack! If you're lucky, you can often find brand new, name brand clothes for a fraction of the cost! Depending on where you live and the thrift stores available to you, you might even find clearance racks allow you to get clothes even cheaper than secondhand!

Set Limits. When you're shopping for deals, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of a good price and buy it all...which kind of defeats the purpose of shopping on a budget! So give yourself a limit before you go into the store and try to stay within it every time.

Out With The Old/In With the New. Perhaps this sounds like more of an organization tip than a money saving one, but in reality it's both! When it comes to fashion, I like to change it up. So, I will do closet purges often. I sell those items in my closet I no longer wear and use that money to put towards new ones. It keeps my closet from getting TOO full, and helps to keep within my budget. This also works well for kids clothes when they're ready to move onto the next size.

Check Out These Websites. When it comes to getting great deals on clothes new and used, there are many great websites to help. These are a few that I personally enjoy and suggest checking out:

  • Schoola. This is probably my top choice for great deals on kids and womens clothing. What makes it so great? Simple. Just for signing up, you get a $20 credit- with no minimum purchase! Set up a collection for an additional $10 credit! That's $30 FREE credit, which you can use towards fantastic used clothing. AND it doesn't end there, when you share with your friends, you can earn even more free credits... you'll receive $20 for EVERY friend that joins and places an order! Awesome, right? I have personally used this site and checked out owing absolutely NOTHING for name brand clothes, and yes the clothes came. (They do offer great deals on new clothes too, but these do not work with the free credits.) Even better? Each purchase helps give money to schools across the US! Great deals, AND a great cause! This is definitely a must join!! You can sign up here.
  • ThredUp. Much like Schoola, ThredUp gives you a $20 credit just for signing up, and allows you to earn more credit for referring friends too. You can use this credit towards fantastic clothes for yourself or your children. They also BUY your clothes from you too! Simply order a bag (no cost), send it in and earn money for the clothes. You can spend it on new items, donate to a cause or cash out via Paypal. Awesome! You can join ThredUp here.
  • Groopdealz. Now, Groopdealz is a little bit different from the previous two. You won't get free credit for signing up, and the clothes aren't used so you won't be paying quite as little for these clothes...but there are some great deals to be found nonetheless! Groopdealz features boutique fashion and more at a fraction of the cost. Deals are ever changing and pretty fantastic if you ask me. And while you don't get that sign up credit, you CAN earn a $10 referral credit for every friend that joins and purchases! You can sign up for Groopdealz here
Are you a bargain shopper? What other tips would you add to this list?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

3 Simple Tips To Help You Save Money #PINCHme

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

Anyone who knows me well knows that I hate spending money. I try not to splurge very often, and even on those daily must haves, I try to save whenever possible! Over the years, I've gotten pretty good at saving money and am constantly having people asking me, 'How do you do it?'

So, today I'm going to begin to answer just that! I've come up with just three quick tips to help you get started on the road to saving on your everyday household needs like groceries, cleaning/paper supplies and beauty products. While these are not the ONLY ways to help save in these areas, they are the basics to get you started!

Use Coupons. When it comes to saving money, this is often the first tip you're given, with good reason. It truly can save you a ton of money! Still, many find that the coupons in their weekly paper just don't happen to be for products they personally use. But did you know that you can email the companies you DO like and ask for coupons? Some may not, but many will send them... and in my personal experience, these tend to be of even higher value than those found in a typical circular. Some even free! Yes, it takes a bit of time, but the savings can be worth it. You can typically find the company email on their webpage.

Use Store Shopping Apps/Rewards Programs. Now, I will be honest, we no longer subscribe to/purchase our Sunday papers because we a) don't read them and b) found that we were paying more for the papers than what the few coupons we did find useful on a weekly basis were saving us- they just again weren't for products we used! Instead, I turned to my store's shopping app for digital coupons and rewards! These often do have more variety of products, and its much quicker than clipping paper coupons.

Request Free Samples. So, how much money do free samples really save us in the long run? Honestly, quite a bit...but not just for the reasons you think! We all know that they give us a small amount of product, which helps us to stretch our budget a little further, of course. But let me ask you, how many times have you purchased a new product only to discover you really don't like it? That's money down the drain! Free samples allow us to try before we buy, so we're not spending extra money trying to find a product that works for us. We already know we like it! So, not only do they allow us to stretch our budget by giving us small amounts of great products, they help us avoid wasting money on products we don't like! Win/Win! And did I mention that samples often (though not always) include coupons too!?

But where do you get those free samples? There are many great ways to find them, but one of my recent favorites is PINCHme- a fabulous subscription box service that delivers FREE samples right to your door each month!!

If you missed my previous post, here's a little recap of what PINCHme is all about:

-Each month, on Sample Tuesday, you will have the opportunity to 'fill your box'. You choose the samples you like so that you don't have products that are of absolutely no interest cluttering your home.
-The samples you select are delivered to your door for FREE each month.
-After trying your samples, give feedback!

That's it, super easy! This is one subscription box that we can ALL fall in love with! Take a look at some of the sample options in December's box:

Rejuvenate your skin: Nuxe Beauty Cream (Pick one of four!)
Freshen up: Olay Ultra Moisture Body Wash
Get some extra sleep: ZzzQuil™  Sleep Aid
For your furry friends: Beyond® Grain Free White Meat Chicken & Egg Recipe Dry Dog Food
For expecting moms: Gerber® Good Start® Gentle for Supplementing Formula

Want to join in the fun for Sample Tuesday? Click here to JOIN NOW!

Have a Beary Merry Holiday with the Disney Princess: A Magical Pop-Up World {A Review & Giveaway}

Welcome to A Beary Merry Holiday Hop
Hosted by LeahSay's Views and Planet Weidknecht 

From December 15-January 1, participating bloggers are giving you the chance to win some great prizes! All giveaways are family friendly and valued at $25 or more! After you enter my giveaway, please visit the linky at the bottom of this post, and hop along for more chances to win! Happy entering!


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

The way I see it, there are two types of people in the world. There are those who love Disney... and there are those...

No, wait...I take that back. There is only ONE type of person in the world, because how can you NOT love Disney!? I know I certainly do. Especially Disney princesses! Most girls do seem to go through the princess phase, but for some- like myself- that love never goes away. In fact, that love often grows even stronger.

I have been a fan for as long as I can remember and told my not-yet-husband at the time all about when we first began talking via Myspace over 9 years ago, from across the globe. You can imagine my surprise and delight when upon our first meeting in person he greeted me looking rather princely in his dress blues, carrying a single rose and my very own pair of glass slippers. (Which I naturally wore to the Marine Corps Ball just a few weeks later.)

As I said, I absolutely, positively LOVE Disney and Disney princesses!!

Does that sound like you or someone you know- of ANY age? If so, this post is for you! Today, I'm sharing the fabulous new book- Disney Princess: A Magical Pop-Up World:

Starring the timeless characters that have made the Disney Princess films a treasured part of pop culture and animation history, this visually stunning volume is packed with intricately designed pop-ups, transformative scenes, and many other surprises. With state-of-the-art paper engineering and beautifully rendered illustrations, Disney Princess: A Magical Pop-Up World brings these castles and characters brilliantly to life, capturing the magical worlds that have enthralled audiences for decades.

This collectible piece of Disney Princess magic spans eleven films and princesses, including fan-favorites such as Belle, Snow White, Ariel, and Rapunzel. Through twenty-seven pop-ups and transformative scenes, the key moments from these beloved films leap from the page, and the accompanying text makes this book a wonderful interactive reading experience that families will treasure.

Join Cinderella as she transforms for the ball, Jasmine as she embarks on a magic carpet ride, Aurora as she pricks her finger on Maleficent’s spinning wheel and is saved by her prince, and Merida as she bravely fights to decide her own destiny.

The ultimate pop-up for collectors, Disney fans, and kids of all ages, Disney Princess: A Magical Pop-Up World is an indispensable celebration of these enduring characters, stories, and fairy tales.

Let me just say simply, this book is amazing! I remember loving pop up books as a child, but this one takes those fun surprises to the next level. They are elaborate and beautiful...and of course, magical! It is absolutely everything that I love about Disney! With each turn of the page, I loved discovering something new and exciting. In addition to the main pop ups on each page, there were also little sections that allowed us to read more about all of our favorite characters and little mini pop up scenes to unfold as well. The larger scenes were of course the most elaborate and several included options to see it change right before your eyes. The scene with Aurora with a simple pull changes to Maleficent in all her evil dragon glory. Ariel under the sea quickly becomes Ariel and Eric during their 'Kiss the Girl' boat ride. There is so much to see on every page, I could just look at it all day long.

The downside to pop up books? You have to be careful with them. I cannot tell you how many pop up books (made for children), my little ones have managed to rip and destroy. While this beautiful book might draw the attention of a princess loving toddler, it's best to keep it out of their reach until they're a bit older! I cannot let my 2 year old near it, but my 8 year old did pretty well. But even as a grown up, this is something that I can truly appreciate. It is not so much of a children's storybook to me as it truly is a work of art for the Disney fan who is young at heart!

Looking for the perfect gift for the Disney fan of any age on your list? This is one you must check out.

Learn more about Insight Editions and connect at the links below:

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

And one very lucky reader is going to win a copy for themselves! 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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Pay It Forward with Post Surgery Gift Ideas from Family Christian #FCBlogger

**A huge thanks to Family Christian for sponsoring today's post and giving me the chance to pay it forward!

"If you were given $50 to spend at Family Christian, how would you use it to pay it forward?"

It's no secret by now, that I absolutely love being a Family Christian blogger and sharing such a wonderful company with all of you. Questions like the one above are just the reason why. This is a company that truly is all about giving back and paying it forward. I love that.

When us bloggers were most recently asked the question above, I knew just the right person I wanted to pay it forward to: my mom!

I know that everyone says that their mom is the best mom there is, but my mom truly is! She is such a kind and caring person, willing to give whatever she can to help others and asking back nothing in return. She is strong, she has an outstanding faith and she truly is just the perfect example of the kind of woman that I aspire to be. She truly deserves something special for no reason at all.

But this time, there was a reason I chose her. On December 29th, my mom will be having surgery. The what and the why are not important, and not mine to share, but depending on how the surgery goes she will be recovering from several days to several weeks, so I wanted to create a fun post-surgery gift bag just for her. To remind her how much she is loved and to show her some of that kindness that she shows to others.

Now, when most think of post surgery gift baskets, we tend to think about more logical things- restaurant gift cards, maybe some comfortable clothing or freezer meals too. But instead of all that, I decided to focus on gifts that would make her recovery a little less boring:

Post Surgery Beat the Boredom Gift Ideas

  • A Devotional. My love of books comes from my mom, so I knew that I wanted to include a book or two, but I was a little nervous of finding one she'd like and didn't have. I knew that she liked Amish fiction, but I'm not a huge fan, so I wasn't sure what was good and what wasn't.  So, instead of going with a fictional novel, I decided on a devotional that I have and love myself: 5 Minutes with Jesus. I loved that this is a devotional that she can do each day that won't take up a ton of time, so that when she's back on her feet she has plenty of time to continue.

  • Coloring Books. I've already shared my own personal love of adult coloring books, so I was thrilled to learn that my mom enjoyed them too. These truly are a great way to unwind and pass the time. I especially love those that have a Christian theme... not only do they have the calming effects of coloring, but they have that added benefit that they allow your to focus your attention on God as you color as well. I knew my mom would appreciate these too. So, I started with one of my own personal favorites Today Is Going To Be A Great Day. With a title like that, I knew it would be perfect to raise her spirits...but mostly it's also just really beautiful!! I also thought she would really enjoy Color Your Blessings, so we added that to the bag too! (If you're creating a post surgery gift basket for someone who has not yet started coloring, you might want to include some colored pencils as well. I knew that my mom already had some, so for her it wasn't needed!)

Deciding on these products was really easy, but I knew I wanted to give her a little something else to round it out. Again, I contemplated more books, but I wasn't sure where to begin. Then I thought about a nice blanket so that she could relax comfortably, but I knew she already had many great blankets that she already loved. I thought about music but wasn't sure what she had.  After much thought, I came up with the perfect solution. Something that she could enjoy without any effort at all!

  • DVDs. As I was wandering around my local store, trying to find the perfect finishing touch, I came across some Little House on the Prairie DVDs! I knew my mom was a fan of the show, and didn't already have them, so I grabbed her a couple of seasons to enjoy. This would give her something to focus on if/when she wasn't up to reading or coloring, but just needed to lay down and relax! Movies are a great option too of course, but I find when you really have a ton of time to kill, television shows truly are the way to go!

This post surgery gift is of course catered directly to my mom and her interests, but if there is someone in your life who you would like to bless with a similar gift to help their recovery, it can easily be tailored to anyone's needs. Replace the devotional with another that's more suited to their taste or surprise them with some books from their favorite writers. Not into coloring? Maybe a Bible journal or a Bible study might be better suited. Customize the DVD choice to fit their individual tastes! Or even throw in some more fun stuff like nail polishes, scarves or comfortable sweaters.

All of the products seen above and many more are available at Family Christian. Stop by your local store or shop online today!

And don't forget to follow along and connect at the links below:

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 
Follow on Tumblr: http://family-christian.tumblr.com 
Follow on Instagram: http://instagram.com/familychristian

Do you have a loved one preparing for surgery soon? What other gift ideas would you add to this list? In what other ways do YOU pay it forward?