A Modern Day Fairy Tale: April 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Celebrate MARVEL Avengers: Age of Ultron! Embrace Your Inner Geek: Avengers Style! {#AvengersUnite #Ad}

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

"You're such a geek!"

In some families this might be an insult, but in my household, it's just the opposite... because quite frankly, we're all a little nerdy! We have our different fandoms of course- from video games to movies and tv shows to comic books, but one thing we can all agree to love is superhero movies! I mean honestly, who DOESN'T love a good superhero movie!? Full of action, adventure and fun for the whole family! Needless to say, we are all looking forward to tomorrow's big release of MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron in theaters!! And we're taking the opportunity to embrace our inner geeks and share them with the world... you see, in our family geekdom is something to celebrate! So, in honor of this great new movie, join us. Be a geek! Celebrate your geekiness, Avengers-style with these few quick tips:

Shop Like an Avenger.
You cannot be an Avenger without the proper gear, so we took a little trip to our local Walmart to find everything we needed. From food to toys to clothing, they have it all!!

Eat Like an Avenger.

Every superhero needs their energy, and what better way to embrace your fandom than with Avengers themed foods? It could not be easier with these specially packaged Cheez-Its and Fruit Snacks! (Or Doritos and Dr Pepper, for the older Avengers fans!!) These are perfect for after school/post saving the world snacks. Of course, I couldn't resist packing my son a super fun Avenger themed lunch box either!

(For more inspiration on eating like an Avenger, check out these fun recipe ideas from my fellow #AvengersUnite bloggers: Hulk Smash Cupcakes or Avengers Inspired Trail Mix )

Play Like an Avenger.
Embracing your geekdom means you're never too old for toys... so get to playing! Act out your favorite Avengers scenes with action figures. Put together Avengers puzzles. Blow Avengers bubbles. Even fly an Avengers kite! There are many great Avengers activities that the whole family can enjoy together-inside and out.

Dress Like an Avenger.

Ah, yes... the ultimate way to embrace and celebrate your inner geek is to dress the part... no need to wait for ComicCon to do it! Of course you can keep it simple for your day to day life with a basic tee... but if you REALLY want to show your geekdom to the world (and have a ton of fun in the process), why not go all out and go full costume! You'll be the coolest family in line at the theater! Plus, you know what they say: The family that plays together, stays together!

As you can see, we are excited and READY to catch the new MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will be in theaters TOMORROW May 1st. How about you? Are you ready to let the world see the geek within? Because let's face it, we ALL have a little geek inside of us!

Do you have an Avengers fan in your home? How are you celebrating the upcoming release? How do YOU embrace your inner geek?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Take It To The Edge with Simple & Healthy Rocket Ship Snacks { #VBS #KidMin #FCBlogger}

Ah, Summer... Time at the pool, vacations, theme parks, barbecues...and for many of you, VBS! I know when I was a kid, it was certainly a highlight of mine! Getting together with friends, learning fun new songs, arts and crafts...what was not to love?

Recently, I shared with all of you a super fun lesson and craft that was ideal for Vacation Bible School. You can check that out here. But, I know one of my favorite parts of VBS had to be refreshments!  Typically a quick look at the typical refreshment table would probably show a lot of sweets... and of course, the kids love that! But as a mom, I'd certainly prefer some less-sugary options as well! So that's what I set out to create. Instead I created some super fun themed snacks that are both healthy AND fun- and perfect for your space themed event (like the To The Edge VBS theme!). Take a look:

Star Sandwiches.

You will need:

  • Bread
  • Sandwich Filling (Peanut butter is super easy and a kid favorite, but please be mindful if there are any peanut allergies in your group. Ham or turkey are also great options, though you may find you will need toothpicks to hold them together a little better!)
  • Star Shaped Cookie Cutter

  1. Make your sandwiches, just as you normally would!
  2. Use a cookie cutter to cut into desired shape. I have found metal cookie cutters work best on sandwiches! To get the most out of your supplies, try to get as many stars out of each sandwich as possible... for larger cutters you may only be able to get one. (My kid loves eating the 'scraps' as well... another way to reduce the waste!)
  3. If using meat, insert a fun toothpick into the center to keep your sandwiches together. Peanut butter will stay together on it's own!
  4. Dispay and enjoy!
These simple sandwiches are the perfect size for little hands and much more filling than sugary snacks!

Next up, we wanted to go with something sweet, but still healthy! Fruit is a great way to do this! This is also great for those like my daughter who are gluten free and tend to get left out of the fun treats!!

Rocket Ships Fruit Kabobs.

You will need:

  • Fruit of Choice (Think of fruits that are easy to cut into shapes- watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, etc. as well as small fruits/berries like grapes and blueberries.)
  • Skewers.
  • Knife.

  1. First up, wash and cut your fruit. You will need a variety of shapes- lots of squares and rectangles, and of course triangles for the tip. 
  2. Star adding your fruit to your skewer, starting with the triangle at the tip. The goal is to have your kabob resemble a rocket ship, so keep adding fruit until you've accomplished that look. 
  3. Enjoy!

Rocket Fuel Water Bottles.

Finally, the most important part- keeping the kids hydrated! We're keeping up with the idea healthy snacking options and sticking with water, but that doesn't mean we cannot have fun with it! I created this super fun 'Rocket Fuel' label to go along with our theme! Simply download and print, and tape around your existing water bottles. Super easy!

And there you have it, fun and healthy snacks perfect for VBS (or any space themed event)! For more great VBS snack and craft ideas, be sure to check out this great Pinterest board from Family Christian:

Follow Family Christian's board Vacation Bible School on Pinterest.

And be sure to check out Family Christian for ALL your Vacation Bible School needs! 'To The Edge' is just one of many great themes available:

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Do you have more fun rocket ship themed snack ideas? What theme is your VBS this year and how do you plan to incorporate it into your refreshments? How can Family Christian help YOU have the ultimate VBS experience?

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Praying for Teachers {Teacher's Appreciation Day} #FCBlogger #teachers

**A huge thank you to Family Christian for sponsoring today's post. All thoughts are my own.

Let's talk teachers...

Oh, what an important job they have. While we as parents shape our children's minds at home, we must also trust their teachers are doing the same at school. Being a mother of a special needs child, I have seen even more just how much influence a great teacher can have!

But teaching is tough. They are responsible in making sure that all of our children are learning what they have to in the classroom and coming up with fun ways to teach. They must deal with parents, be patient with students, and find new ways to encourage each student. They put so much of their own time, not to mention their own money into helping each of our children reach their full academic potential. Yes, teachers certainly deserve a lot of appreciation and celebration, which is just what we will do in just one week- May 5, National Teacher Appreciation Day!

Now, there are many great gifts that are perfect for teachers (I will even share a few at the end of this post), but aside from a fun gift I also want to encourage each of you to pray for your children's teachers! So, how exactly do we do that? Here are a few ideas:

Pray For Their Patience. Do you ever get a little overwhelmed when your little one is having a bad day? Imagine that times 20. Children can be strong willed and well, a little crazy! Teachers must keep their patience through it all. Pray that God will help them to keep their cool on those tough days!

Pray That They Connect With Your Child. Did you ever just have a teacher that you didn't connect with? When this happens, it makes school a whole lot less fun... and keeps our children from learning all that they can. Pray that your child's teacher will find a way to connect with each child so that they might help them reach their full potential.

Pray For Their Health. If you have a little one in school, you know how the germs can be spread like wildfire! And when the teacher is out sick, the classroom routine is disrupted (particularly tough on special education like my son). Pray for good health for all of the teachers.

Pray For Their Personal Lives. Let's face it, while we try to leave our personal lives at home, we are only human and it's hard not to be distracted by them, the same goes for teachers. Pray for their personal struggles (whether you know of any or not), so that they might give their full self to the classroom.

Pray For Their Words. Words can have such an impact, can't they? This is especially true for those teaching our children. Pray that the words they speak will reach our children in a positive way.

Pray For Their Peaceful Class. We've already prayed for patience when things get crazy... but it's also important to pray that there is peace in the classroom- with minimal distractions so that students may focus on learning rather than drama.

Pray For Their Strength. Again, teaching is not an easy job... especially for that of special education teachers. Sometimes it is not just mentally exhausting, but can be quite physical as well. Pray for their strength of heart, mind and body so that they might continue to teach with their full self.

And finally, Pray in Thanksgiving. When your child has a great teacher, it can change their entire world. I have seen it in my own son- how an amazing teacher (or two) took the time to get to know him and what he needed to thrive and did everything they could to see that he did. When you have a teacher like this, give thanks to God! They are truly a blessing!!

Want to remind them how thankful you are for all that they do? Family Christian has some great gifts to do just that. Check out these quick ideas for inspiration:

Teacher Journal // Teachers Desk Plaque // Teacher Sticky Note Folio //
Willow Tree: Wisdom // Teachers Are a Blessing Paperweight // Willow Tree: Thank You

Do you pray for your child's teacher? What other areas would you add to this list?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Let's Shower Mom! A HUGE Baby Shower Giveaway!!! CLOSED

They say April showers bring May flowers... Well, our April shower is going to shower one lucky mom with over $1200 in prizes! We've brought together several AMAZING sponsors to offer one HUGE prize package:

BabyBjorn: This Swedish, family-owned business started in 1961 and their goal has remained the same: to make day-to-day life easier for parents of small children by developing safe and innovative products of the highest quality for children up to three years old. Their wide assortment of products consists of baby carriers, bouncers, travel cribs, cradles, potty chairs, high chairs and kitchen products. You may be familiar with BabyBjorn's iconic line of baby carriers, but if you don't know about their Travel Crib Light, you're definitely missing out! This is truly one of Thrifty Nifty Mommy and Viva Veltoro's favorite pieces of baby gear - and they've tested a lot of products! The Travel Crib Light can be used with children from 0-3 years of age and is easy to set up in one simple movement. Just open the bag, lift out the crib and the legs fold out. Once you place the soft and comfy mattress inside you have a stable travel crib to use at home or on trips. There are no loose parts or tricky buttons to find. Weighing in at only 13 pounds, it's so easy to take with you, especially thanks to it's included travel bag.
Raindrops: Raindrops is an original, American manufacturing company specializing in beautifully designed and innovative infant and toddler accessories for precious babies since 1936. Raindrops is steeped in American history and began with the founders invention of a waterproof baby covering which was a precursor to waterproof baby pants and much later, even waterproof disposable diapers. Over the years it has evolved into so much more than just baby bibs. They now create blankets, layette wear, baby gift sets, Christening accessories, sleepers, baby bath items, and more. A true American manufacturer, Raindrops cuts, sews, screen prints, and embroiders everything in-house in Downers Grove, IL. Almost everything is made in 100% cotton fabric and will last through multiple children, which makes them a very eco-friendly product, since they are not poor "disposable" quality items filling up landfills. Raindrops wants to give one lucky family one of their beautiful 13 piece, Welcome Home Baby Large Gift Baskets! Inside this beautiful basket you will find: an appliqued footie, an appliqued body suit, a cap, a nice heavier weight, appliqued receiving blanket, a blankie and a bear for baby to cuddle, a bib, a unique Yucky bib bag for soiled bibs and four re-usable wipes. It's available in a pink bear version for girls, and a blue bear version for boys, or a yellow bear version for a unisex choice. This gift set is also available in a medium basket set and a smaller sleep basket set, too.
Combi: Combi USA strives to provide stylish, practical and innovative juvenile products. Derived from the word "combination," Combi refers to the critical relationship between children and their caretakers. They offer a variety of products including lightweight strollers, fun mobile entertainers, feeding products and everything in between! One of their newest items is the Combi Fold N Go Stroller, which will be launching May 14th and will be available in two great colors: Salsa or Black! It provides ultimate convenience while encompassing a lightweight, compact, and portable design. The self-standing stroller features a one-hand quick fold and a sleek aluminum frame. The padded seat includes a 5-point harness system with plush harness pads for your child's comfort. The extra-large canopy with a mesh ventilation window enables you to keep an eye on your child at all times and allows air to flow easily in and out of the seating area of the stroller. Dual front wheel suspension ensures a smooth ride, while the lockable front swivel wheels improve maneuverability. One single step locks both rear wheels simultaneously, making it easy to park and stroll as you wish. A parent cup holder, large basket, and canopy pocket offer storage of essential items right at your fingertips. The Fold N Go is suitable for children 6 months and older and with a weight capacity of 50 pounds, a child cup holder, and a multi-position recline, it's sure to please!
Medi-Pals: Giving your child medication or vitamins has never been easier thanks to Medi-Pals medication dispensers. This product was invented by parents for parents and their kids and it's easy to see why it works so well! Available in 3 whimsical designs (ladybug, frog, or crab) that are fun and familiar to your child, Medi-Pals are easy to use and ensure that the child is always getting the accurate dosage of medicine. Medi-Pals are softer than a straight syringe thanks to the nipple that the syringe snuggly fits inside. This also helps to ensure that no medicine gets lost so the dose is sure to be accurate. The faceplates are interchangeable so you can switch things up to make dosing more fun, and Medi-Pals are dishwasher-safe, and easy to clean. Plus, they're made in the USA! Make sure you check out Thrifty Nifty Mommy's full review the Medi-Pals medication dispensers, and check out her video review of Medi-Pals to see these dispensers in action with an infant and a toddler. You can get your own Medi-Pals on Amazon.
Step2: The Step2 Company, headquartered in Streetsboro, Ohio, is the largest American manufacturer of preschool and toddler toys and the world's largest rotational molder of plastics. Their mission is to be the leading innovator of children's products that build imaginations and enrich the family's celebration of childhood. Step2 knows that when you have a baby, you also amass a great deal of "stuff" - from bibs to onsies to tiny socks, it can be hard to stay organized with all of the supplies you have on hand. That's why they want to give one lucky person a Fun Time Room Organizer! This creative storage center is perfect for parents and kids. It offers two sizes of storage bins for all kinds of storage needs, so you can organize baby's items now, then eventually toys, books, crafts, coloring books and more in this tasteful yet playful design. All bins (9 large, and 2 jumbo) detach for easy and portable clean-up and all surfaces are easy to clean. Plus, there are safety wall anchor included to prevent any accidents. The Fun Time Room Organizer is made in the USA of US and imported parts from China. Winner can choose from Tropical, Pink, or Corvette (based on availability).
BornFree: Developed by 3 dads in 1996, BornFree was a pioneer in making safe baby products, without BPA and PVC. In 2011, the brand was acquired by Summer Infant and they've expanded their line to include way more than bottles. One of their newest (and super innovative) products is the Bottle Genius. The BornFree Bottle Genius takes the fuss out of feeding. This time saving machine creates mixed baby bottles at the perfect temperature, ready to serve. The innovative and sleek design is handy enough to keep in your baby’s nursery, allowing for easy use and clean up. It can easily measure out bottles ranging from 2-10 ounces at the push of a button, allowing for measurements in odd numbers too so you'll never waste formula. Their SmartScale technology automatically portions out formula and water for the perfect bottle, every time. Water is heated on-demand, saving time and energy (plus you can choose whether to serve room temperature water or warm). The Bottle Genius has a clear view water reservoir that holds enough for four 8 oz. bottles and it works with all major bottle brands and powder formula brands.
Summer Infant: Summer Infant was created in 1985 and is dedicated to developing the safest and most innovative products that stand the test of time. Summer Infant is well known for their amazing baby monitors and they're giving away one of their best new monitors to one lucky family. With the Sharp View HD High Definition Video Monitor, mom doesn't need to have eyes in the back of her head. The latest innovation in baby video monitoring technology, this monitor provides the highest resolution of HD video available on the market today. It features a 5.0" color LCD flat screen monitor that offers two-way communication and temperature display. The camera, equipped with a soft glow night light, is able to pan, scan, and zoom in stunning HD quality so say goodbye to grainy images of your precious little one. Be sure to check out Viva Veltoro's article about the Sharp View HD High Definition Video Monitor and why it's a baby must-have.

One lucky person will be "Showered" with this amazing $1200+ prize package from Baby Bjorn, Raindrops Baby, Medi-Pals, Combi, Step2, BornFree, and Summer Infant!
Open to the Lower 48 US states only, ages 18 and up. Ends 5/11/15 at 11:59 PM EST. 

Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. Good Luck!

Disclosure: This giveaway is hosted by Thrifty Nifty Mommy and Viva Veltoro of Dynamic Duo Media, and generously sponsored by the participating brands. Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Viva Veltoro, and the participating blogs are not responsible for prize fulfillment. Please contact thriftyniftymommy(at)yahoo.com with questions about this giveaway. One winner will be randomly selected using the Giveaway Tools random selector and notified via email. Once notified, the winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Affiliate links may be used in this post.

Give Something #SpecialForMom with Love Inspired Books {A Review & Giveaway} CLOSED

Welcome to the Something Special for Mom Giveaway Hop hosted by the Lindsey Blogs and Viva Veltoro. Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, which is why a group of fabulous bloggers have come together to share gifts and giveaways that are perfect for the special lady in your life - or maybe even yourself! Be sure to hop around to them all, including the TWO Grand Prizes. Viva Veltoro has an amazing gift package for one beautiful Mom featuring products from Cake Maternity, Chewbeads, and Poncho Baby and on Lindsey Blogs you'll find Gift Cards for Jamberry Nails and aka originals hand stamped jewelry.


"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.

If you asked most women, they'd probably tell you they like a little romance! I mean, just look at a few of the movies that most of us just cannot seem to get enough of- The Notebook, Titanic... it's all about the love. And for the reader, it doesn't stop at the movies either, we love reading a good love story as well.

But honestly, as much as I adore love stories, I find I don't really read a ton of romance! Why? Most of them are just a little too steamy for my tastes. Now, I realize that some women like that, but it's not for me... I want a nice G-rated romance with a great story...something I don't feel the need to hide if someone walks in! And good, wholesome romance novels for adults can be a little difficult to find. This is why I'm excited to share with you one such series that fits that need, the Love Inspired series:

Love Inspired® books offer wholesome, faith-based entertainment for women that nourishes the soul as it affirms the values of devotion, hope and love. Books are available online and in-store. Love Inspired readers believe hearts can heal. Love Inspired stories show that faith, forgiveness and hope have the power to lift spirits and change lives—always.

This series has been around for quite some time, so you may have already heard of them. In fact, you may have even read a few. I know throughout the years I've picked up a few at the book store and yard sales as well... and I love them. Now, I'll admit, sometimes they may be just a little cheesy... but such is the way of romance novels, right? Call me crazy, but I don't mind a little cheesiness in this type of book! The great thing about the Love Inspired series is the large variety. This isn't a series in the sense that they are different stories with the same characters, they're not at all. In fact, they're not even written by the same author. Instead they offer a variety of stories by a variety of authors- some with an Amish theme, some a little country, some a little modern... but the one thing they have in common is that  they are filled with love stories sure to inspire.

And there is always something new. Every month, 6 new books are released and have a shelf life of just one month! If you're a speed reader who goes through books like nobody's business like myself, this is certainly a plus... there is always something new to read. Books can be purchased individually or as a set! Just take a look at the variety of this month's selection:

Martin's Crossing
Brenda Minton
When Oregon Jeffries introduces rancher Duke Martin to the daughter he never knew he had, can they move beyond the mistakes of their pasts and possibly build a future together?
Cedar Springs 
Felicia Mason
Dr. Spring Darling wants a family of her own. But when she falls for single dad David Camden and his little boy, can she get past the architect's plan to ruin her historic family home?
Home to Dover
Lorraine Beatty
Connected by a mutual tragedy, Shawn McKinney promises to care for widow Lainie Hollings and her girls. Can working together to restore the town library bridge the gap between these two wounded hearts?
Missy Tippens

Having given up her child for adoption years ago, Dr. Violet Remy is given a second chance at the family she's always longed for when new daddy Jake West seeks her help in raising his adorable baby niece.
The Donnelly Brothers
Jean C. Gordon
Single mom Becca Norton is fighting Jared Donnelly for the preservation of her neighborhood, yet when she must battle for custody of her children, can this former bad boy come to her family's rescue?
Patricia Johns

Firefighter Matt Bailey needs a fresh start in a new town. But he can't abandon the boy he once found on his doorstep—or the boy's amazing adoptive mom. Despite his past mistakes, can he be the hero they both need?

Don't these all sound wonderful? A little something for everyone! And with a sell date of April 21-May 28, there could not be a better selection for the book loving mama this Mother's Day!! Plus, with this coupon you can get $1 off any Love Inspired book, until August 31! To see more, connect at the links below:

Shop Online.
Like on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter.

So, in honor of Mother's Day, they are offering one very lucky reader the chance to win ALL SIX BOOKS!  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. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

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. So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, and the Something Special for Mom participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Friday, April 24, 2015

On Family Planning & Healthy Pregnancies {The Mother & Child Project Book Review} #FCBlogger

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

I was 19 years old (a few weeks shy of 20) and newly married when my oldest son came along, and my husband and I could not have been more thrilled with his arrival. Still, being young parents living on a single military income and with the chance of deployment being inevitable, we knew we wanted to wait awhile for another baby, and took the steps necessary to see to that. We assumed it may be just a few years, but when our son was diagnosed with autism at two years old, we realized it would be even longer. In fact, for a time we did not believe we would have any more children at all.

You see, for about a 2 year period- from the time Shaun was 2 to 4, he did not sleep well. At all. He would wake screaming every hour on the hour, which naturally meant I didn't sleep well either. He also had a tendency to climb out of windows, run off, have violent outbursts. Though I loved being a mother, I also realized that my son needed a lot more attention than that of his typical peers and felt that I needed to give him my sole attention at that point in time. In fact, it wasn't until my son was 5 years old that we made the decision that the timing was right, and decided to try for a new addition to our family. A few weeks after my son's 6th birthday, Finley entered our world, and the timing was perfect for our family.

Reading our story, it seems like we made the right decision- did the responsible thing by using family planing methods. The right thing. But family planning can be a bit of a controversial topic, can't it? Especially among Christians. After all, if we are supposed to live according to God's plan, why are we taking the control OUT of his hands and into our own? To be honest, I've contemplated this often myself. It's a topic that I still sometimes question, but ultimately I have to feel that God places these options into our life for a reason, and perhaps that IS part of his plan. 

Still, regardless of how you personally feel on the topic, isn't it wonderful to live in a country where we have the choice. A country where we knew the options, have an abundance of information at our fingertips and the medical care necessary to have healthy and happy pregnancies no matter how we decide to plan our families? Sadly, for many mothers around the globe, this is not the reality. This is the topic of discussion in The Mother and Child Project:

Dozens of influential leaders have heard the pleas of mothers and children in developing countries. Raising their voices to inspire a movement to increase healthy pregnancies and lower death rates, Melinda Gates, Kay Warren, Bill Frist, Kimberly Williams Paisley, Michael W. Smith and more speak out about why people of faith must get involved in The Mother and Child Project: Raising Our Voices for Health and Hope. Almost 287,000 women die each year because of pregnancy and birth complications. Many orphans are left behind in the wake of this tragedy, and without a mother, many of those children die as well. If only enough people knew. We have the resources to prevent this crisis, but we must take action. 

Fortunately, Hope Through Healing Hands, a nonprofit organization promoting awareness for healthy mothers and children worldwide, is already spreading the word. Not only can we save lives, reduce abortions, and decrease death rates, but also we can help build healthier, thriving families and bring stability and sustainability to families, communities and nations. 

The question is, will you join them?

All I can say about this book is simply... wow! What an eye opener! Here in America, we have many options available to suit our needs- not just about family planning, but about our pregnancy and delivery experience as well. We can choose to have our babies at home, in a birth center or at the hospital. We can choose to do so unmedicated, with an epidural or even elect for a c-section. We can have the most detailed birth plan, or we can decide to go with the flow. No matter what we decide on, we have the CHOICE. And for most of us, it's not a life or death choice, but more about preferences.

For many women around the globe, it IS life and death. In The Mother and Child Project, we learn of women and children dying due to lack of medical care, pregnancies too young or too quickly. We learn of children being left orphaned after their mothers die in childbirth. And we learn that many of these issues could be addressed simply by teaching about family planning (birth control & natural family planning- NOT abortion). It is truly astounding to see how critical this information is to these families... and how truly blessed we are! This is a must read for every mother and every woman (or man) who cares about women's issues! There is a lot to learn and a lot we can do to help, and this book is a great place to start.

The Mother and Child Project is available to purchase now at Family Christian.

Find more great reads and connect at the links below:
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Does GOD See Us? {A Bible Lesson & Craft About Masks} #FCBlogger #KidMin #VBSCrafts

A huge thanks to Family Christian for sponsoring today's lesson. All thoughts are 100% my own.

Who are you? How do you define yourself. How do others see you from the outside?

If you were to ask your children this question, how would they respond? Perhaps they'll talk about how they are an athlete... a dancer... my son would likely call himself a gamer.

What about you? How do you define yourself as a mom? The soccer mom? The homeschooling mom? The working mom? These are ways we define ourselves ... but are they who we truly are on the inside? Or are they masks of how we hope others to see us (or even who we hope/strive to be)?

This is what we're talking about today in this simple Bible craft and lesson that is all about the masks we wear.

But first up... let's make those masks! Here's what you'll do:

  • Paper Plates
  • Scissors
  • Large Popsicle Sticks
  • Glue
  • Misc Craft Supplies (markers, stickers, foam shapes, etc)
  1. First off, make the base of your mask by cutting eye holes out of the paper plates. 
  2. Finish off the base by gluing a large craft popsicle stick to the back for the handle. (Alternately, you could use string to tie masks on, but having a child with sensory issues, I tend to find this handheld mask to be a better option!!)
  3. Now, ask your child(ren) the questions above, with a focus on the last one: How do others see you? What makes you you? With this in mind, ask your child to decorate their mask to represent how others see them. (Are they an athlete? Decorate it with a sports theme! Are they the 'smart kid'? Make it a school theme. When I personally did a variation of this activity in high school I used music notes to represent my love of singing. Have fun with it!) Use markers, glitter, stickers- whatever craft supplies you have on hand to make these masks truly unique to each child. My son prefers to keep things simple, so we stuck to drawing... a superhero mask and a Minecraft player mask!
  4. Allow to dry, if needed.

Now that the masks are done, it's time for the lesson. If you'd like, let each child talk about their masks and why they decorated it as they did. Discuss again how these masks represent the faces that we allow everyone in the world to see.

Now, ask them how God sees them? Give them a chance to answer/discuss and then read them the following verse:

"The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

Discuss how no matter what masks we choose to wear on the outside, God sees our inner most self- who we truly are. He does not see a great athlete, he sees a child with a genuine love for others, willing to help his teammates on and off the field. He sees not only the successes that we show to the world, but also our struggles that we hide. He knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us unconditionally. This is a great time to remind them to be themselves in the outside world as well, and to be sure that the attitudes they are showing the world are genuine and pleasing to God.

This simple Bible lesson is not only a ton of fun, but also a really GREAT lesson for kids of all ages... and completely customize-able! We used paper plates and focused on how God sees us. Definitely ideal for a younger audience. When I did a similar activity as a high schooler at church camp, we actually used plaster to create masks of our faces- much more teen friendly. You could also expand the lesson using verses like 2 Corinthians 3:18 or Matthew 23:25-26 for these older audiences.

This is a great activity for home or church. With summer quickly approaching, it would make an ideal option for Vacation Bible School- it's easy, it's fun and it's easy and inexpensive to do for a crowd. For more great inspirations for VBS, be sure to check out this great board from Family Christian:

And be sure to check them out for ALL your VBS needs and connect at the links below:

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Support Autism Acceptance with the #AutismUniquelyYou Campaign!

As most of you already know, April is Autism Awareness Month.

Now, there are many things I can say about Autism this month. I could share all the statistics, how 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with Autism. I could share with you the sign, the symptoms and the process of diagnosis. I can share with you the struggles that having a child on the spectrum brings. But I feel like I've talked about all of these things endlessly in the past. While I do feel like it is important to share this information as well, I feel that the information is out there and most are pretty aware already. Aside from that, with some organizations using fear tactics in the name of raising awareness, I truly feel like the greatest thing I can do is to share the positives of autism... to share how my son, and kids like him have a lot to offer this world, despite of (perhaps even because of) their diagnosis. I never want my son to feel as though he is a burden or in need of fixing. I want him to realize that he is awesome and unique just as he is!

This is why I was thrilled to learn about the #AutismUniquelyYou campaign from The Autism Society of America! So, what's this campaign all about?

 It's a simple, fun, family-friendly hand-painting activity.

1.) Paint your hands, make your UNIQUE impression on an object and take a video of the process or a picture of your handprint.
2.) Post your video or photo to social media and tag it using the hashtag #AutismUniquelyYou. Share the fun and invite friends to participate.
3.) LIKE the Autism Society on Facebook. Then head to autism-society.org to make a donation.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Naturally, we had to join in the fun! And after much thought we came up with the perfect way to celebrate... a DIY t-shirt:

This was super easy and inexpensive to make. We made a large puzzle piece sticker, applied to the t-shirt (found at the Dollar Tree for a very inexpensive project!), painted Shaun's hands and let him go to town!! He had a blast, and loves his new shirt celebrating HIM!

Want to join in the fun? Get creative, have fun and support a GREAT cause!

The Autism Society of America is truly an amazing organization that does a lot for autism families like my own. I am proud to stand behind them! I'd love to hear how you're spreading the word and your unique handprint ideas too!

Don't wait, grab some paint and celebrate #AutismUniquelyYou!!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Secrets,Murder, Romance: A Buried Secrets Review #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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Let It Be Jesus: Christy Nockels {A Music Review} #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!


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?