Tuesday, September 27, 2016

How to Let the Kids Have Fun, WHILE Learning (review and giveaway)

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this product, free of charge,from Magic Sketch/ Boogie Board, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it, all opinions are my own.

What if I told you there was a FUN way to get your kids back interested in homework and learning?

And that it is virtually undestructible?

You'd be pretty interested, right?

Meet the Magic Sketch:

magic sketch kit

Magic Sketch is a fun new way for your kids to draw, play, and learn! Its flexible, LCD screen is transparent, allowing kids to trace with the provided stencils or from their own images!  Magic Sketch is from the makers of the hit product Boogie Board, who bring their greatness of use of crystal display technology to a childproof device! 

We were sent the full Magic Sketch kit to check out, which includes a Protector Guard, 1 stamped Roller, 3 fun stamps Stamps, 10 reversible Learning Stencils, 10 reversible Games Stencils and 20 reversible Art Stencils. 

miss grace and magic sketch

As you can see, Miss Grace had a great time using the magic Sketch for her math homework! She loved being able to write out her sums in rainbow colors on a large screen, and then be able to clear the Multicolor screen with just the push of a button, and start over again! 

magic sketch contents

As you can see, you get plenty of extras to keep the fun going! The roller stamp features a star pattern, that is fun for kids to use, while the small stamps allow for making fun flowers and more. I love how the cards re reversible, so kids have more options. Even older kids will benefit from the letter practice. Miss Grace found it great for practing her handwriting too!

magis sketch cards

 The mazes are simple, and the word searches stretch kids' imagination. Learning to draw animals will amaze kids and allow them to amaze their friends!

Unlike most tablets, the Magic Sketch is super kid proof!  They can drop it, toss it, even step on it -- it won’t break!  It’s completely water resistant, so if they have a spill, just wipe it off and keep going! Thanks to its protective case (blue backing), the Magic Sketch is safe to take just about anywhere! Its stylus conveniently slots into the side container. And thanks to its 7 year battery, the Magic Sketch's fun will last and last!

As you can see, the rainbow screen makes for some fun looking drawings, and kids adore rainbow screens, as you know! With Magic Sketch your kids can create all kinds of amazing art and actually havign FUN sharing it with siblings and friends!

I do wish the screen was a a bit LIGHTER, as sometimes it can be hard to see through, and if you are writing all over , then the blue section is hard to see sometimes. but other than that, Miss Grace gives it a high 5, and says kids of all ages will love it!

The Magix Sketch would make a great gift for the holidays, or to surprise your homeschooler with, to make everyday learning more fun!

flashing Win

Giveaway: One winner will win the complete Magic Sketch set, as shown above

Give the Reason for the Season This Year (review and giveaway)

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this book, free of charge,from Zonderkidz, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

And now for our first two Christmas books of the season....

I know, I know....

But if you re gift giving this season, both of these books would make wonderful presents, as they are timeless, and would become a family treasure, whichever one you give!

The first comes from an author parents will know well:

night of great joy cover


Mary Engelbreit presents A Night of Great Joy, a delightful picture book that celebrates the joyful season of Christmas. This book tells the story of the nativity through the performance of a children’s Christmas pageant. With adorable illustrations and simple storytelling, Engelbreit paints a wonderful picture of the night that Jesus was born.
A Night of Great Joy recalls that fateful night with wonder and awe. From the arrival of Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem to the gathering of many before the baby Jesus, this holiday treasure leads children through the tale of the birth of Jesus, guiding them with the star of Bethlehem.
Mary Engelbreit, New York Times bestselling illustrator of the blockbuster Christmas classic The Night Before Christmas, brings readers a new holiday picture book that’s sure to become a family favorite.
Check out the trailer, for pictures from the book:

This is a charming telling of the Christmas story, featuring kids in a class putting on the story as a play, something we are all familiar with. Primarily aimed at ages 3-6, it is a fun book for older kids to read with their siblings. Kids will enjoy pointing out things that are not part of the traditional story (like no donkey or who serves as Baby Jesus), and discussing why they were used instead! As always Mary's illustrations are bright and charming, and enchanting for kids, as you can see from the trailer above! This is the perfect book for giving to a child who will be in a Christmas play this season, as a way of preparing, and then remembering, the fun they had.
About the Author/Illustrator:
Mary Engelbreit grew up studying the illustrations in the vintage storybooks of her mother’s own childhood, and she developed a unique style that harkens back to those simpler times. Mary’s distinctive images have made her a celebrity to millions, who eagerly snap up gift items, calendars, books, fabrics, and more. Mary’s dearest wish has always been to illustrate for children. Her New York Times bestselling The Night Before Christmas is already part of the holiday tradition for families across the country.

and the second:

goodnight manger cover


It's bedtime for Baby Jesus, but who knew a manger could be so loud? Mama, Papa, and all of the animals try to lull the baby to sleep, but between itchy hay, angels' joyful hosanas, and three kings bearing noisy gifts, it's just too loud. Until Mama finds a way for everyone to work together to shepherd Baby into peaceful dreams under the twinkling stars.
With sweet, rhyming text in the style of Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site, Goodnight, Manger offers a unique twist on the classic manger tale, deftly weaving together the comforting and familiar routines of bedtime with the special magic and wonder of the manger story.

goodnight manger sample 1

Also aimed at the preschool to 1st grade level, this is an adorable rhyming book, that features charming illustrations, that will entrance younger kids- Miss Grace thought some were very cute, like the one below with the donkey looking over Joseph's shoulder. Parents will be happy with the more realistic look for Mary and Joseph, and the multi-cultural choir or angels! Kids and parents will relate to having a new baby that won;t sleep, or keeps getting awakened. It's part of the charm of taking a familiar story and adding a realistic touch to it, that all kids understand- don't wake the baby!  We recommend it as a way to shake up the traditional storytelling, and offer some humor to the season!

goodnight manger sample 2

About the Author/illustrator:
Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in rhyme. She writes daily from her century-old home in New Jersey where she lives with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie. Check out her website for more info.
Jane Chapman is a multi award-winning artist who has illustrated over one hundred books including five New York Timesbestsellers. She lives in Southern England with her husband, Tim Warnes, two children and five chickens. Visit Jane Chapman at www.ChapmanandWarnes.com.

flashing Win
One lucky BTHM reader will win Goodnight Manager for their own family, or for gift giving!

Bless Their Little Giveaways Linky: Sept 27-Oct 4 2016

blessings button
Monday, September 26, 2016

Get Your Pink On- AKA Be Ready for October!

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received these products, free of charge,from Trudeau for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about them, all opinions are my own.

BTHM WTFY 2012 button

If there is one color that is also synonymous with Fall, it's Pink!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and pink will be everywhere!

In fact, it's already turning up at all our local stores, as next Saturday is the first!

So I thought I'd share a way for you to be ready BEFORE October, to show your support
(and pink!) all month long, with not 1, but 2 products you'll use ALL the time

Our friends over at Trudeau have done it again!
They have come up with an entire line of great products that not only allow you to beat thirst in style, but to eat in style, while showing your support:

trudeaus bcrf product line

The Trudeau Corporation has been supporting the fight against breast cancer with their exclusive BCRF collection of hydration bottles and thermal tumblers and mugs. These products, developed with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, are designed exclusively for Trudeau’s product donation program and are sold in support of breast cancer research initiatives. To date Trudeau has donated over half a million dollars to BCRF alone.

The 24oz BCRF Cool Off Hydration Bottle from Trudeau is perfect for long trips, or for extra long dance classes, as Miss Grace soon figured out, after seizing taking the bottle when it came in! The bottle is guaranteed to be leak-proof (and it is, as no 9 yr old will EVER keep a water bottle upright!) with a non-slip grip, making it was easy to grab when your hands might be sweaty or west from practice! We also both like how it is double wall insulated, so that the water stayed colder and thus kept condensation at bay, which meant no water rings on the dance floor! Plus it has ounce markings on the side, so if you are mixing in electrolytes, or similar, then you can judge how much to add, based on water in the bottle! As a parent, I'm thrilled it is made of SAN and is BPA free too! Miss Grace loves how the flexible straw is protected from germs and gunk, until you're ready to use it, thanks to the concealment top. The straw goes ALL the way to the bottom of the bottle, so you get ALL of your water our, but it comes apart easily for cleaning! Plus it comes with it's own pretty dark pink carbiner, so it can be easily attached to your bike, gym bag, or wherever you need it! With its 5-year warranty, and low $17.99, price, this is a water bottle that will serve you YEAR round! 

Since Miss Grace claimed the water bottle, by default I got the Lulu Travel Tumbler, but I was perfectly happy with that as it is both cute and practical! This 16oz tumbler features a stainless steel exterior accented with a bright pink floral pattern, and matching pink split top lid. The top is a leak resistant flip, sip-and-go lid, making for safe travels with hot coffee! This tumbler can actually cover you for hot or cold drinks! I found that the polypropylene, double wall insulation, really did give you solid heat retention up to 2 hours, with about another hours for room temp. For cold drinks, I got more of three hours cold, though the ice had melted. This tumbler isn't meant to replace your expensive all day tumblers, but rather to get you from that first cup of java in the am to morning break, and it does! It's non-slip base is great for keeping it safely on your desk, or solid in your car's cup holder (which it fits in nicely), as well. This is my new favorite daily tumbler to drink coffee from, as I get more than a couple cups when I'm at home, or at work. For long travels, I might use a different mug in the car, but this is perfect for normal use! I love that it also comes with a 5-year warranty, and retails for $14.99, making it great for gift giving this October as well!

bcrf colelction

Additional hydration bottles/tumblers available:

Top left: The perfect bottle to infuse water and favorite drinks with citrus, cucumbers, berries and more,Trudeau's 17 oz. Rejuvenate Hydration Bottle is constructed of thick and resistant borosilicate glass that leaves no aftertaste. The flip-top lid is leak-resistant and comes with a silicone pulp filter underneath that minimizes pulp intake. Includes practical silicone carry strap and built-in fruit infuser basket that is easily removable for cleaning. BPA Free. Retails for $19.99

Top left bottom: Get up and go to the office meeting or just about anywhere with this 16 oz. travel size workhorse. Its leak resistant construction is accented with an easy open and close “drink anywhere around the rim” 360° lid.  Stainless steel double walled insulation keeps beverages hotter or colder longer (3 hours+). The elegant satin stainless steel body is accented with a pink TPE sleeve and ergonomic 2-tone handle with non-slip rubber base to firmly hold the mug in place. Fits most car cup holders and comes with a 5-year warranty. Retails $24.99

Top right: With this travel tea tumbler you’ll be able to brew loose tea or tea bags in minutes! Even better, you can do this on the go with leak resistant lid! Plus, this double wall insulated tumbler will keep your tea hot for up to 2 hours. It has a convenient (and attractive) carry and go design and will hold up to 14 ounces of your favorite beverage. The stainless steel mesh basket is removable and allows you to infuse loose tea or tea bags for the perfect brew, anywhere, anytime. This BPA-free tumbler and includes a 5-year warranty. Retails for $14.99

And be sure to check out the rest of the great BCRF product line for lunch wear too! 

Trudeau makes products that LAST, and you can be assured that once you grab any of these bottles or tumblers, you'll love them as much as we do!

YA Book Review: Color Blind by Sheila Sobel

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge,from F+W Media, Inc via Edelweiss, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it,  all opinions are my own.

Staying with our color theme....

A coming of age story set against the lush backdrop of Katrina-ravished New Orleans. 

color blind cover


April is alone in the world. When she was only a baby, her teenage mother took off and now, unbelievably, her dad has died. Nobody's left to take April in except her mom's sister, a free spirit who's a chef in New Orleans--and someone who April's never met. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, April is suddenly supposed to navigate a city that feels just like she feels, fighting back from impossibly bad breaks. But it's Miles, a bayou boy, who really brings April into the heart of the Big Easy. He takes her to the cemetery where nineteenth-century voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried, and there, April gets a shocking clue about her own past. Once she has a piece of the puzzle, she knows she will never give up. What she doesn't know is that finding out the truth about her past and the key to her future could cost her everything--maybe even her life.


A few weeks ago I attended the Jefferson Parish Writers Association lecture, that featured mystery writers from New Orleans, and one of the Pet Peeves that was discussed, was how New Orleans gets represented in books-its either totally right, or totally wrong. SIGH, the entire crowd was in agreement. So I had high hopes that this book would be on the right. Nope. For example, one does NOT get to the Causeway bridge to cross the to Northshore, via New Orleans east from the French Quarter. You would go through Metairie for that bridge, or preferably, take the shorter route via the Slidell bridge. SIGH. It's a little thing, but once you notice that, then others will pop up. But on the flip side, there are many things Sheila got right- the community of NOLA, the neighborhoods, the cemetaries....

The story itself is a bit of a page turner for teens and adults, as April searches out the family history and mysteries, to determine why her mother left her and her dad, and why her family had nothing to do with her. The story leads a predictable tone, but then gives an ending that feels bereft, unless a book 2 is on the way...Adults used to authors ending books this way may get aggravated, but roll on. Teens may be very unamused and forgo checking to see if there is a coming sequel. There is much to offer in this book, but maybe a bit more editing and fact checking could have taken it to a better place in the hearts of teens.

About the Author:

An active member of the youth writing and film-study community, Sheila Sobel was recently nominated for the Allegra Johnson Prize in Fiction Writing. She lives in Beverly Hills with her husband, her dogs, and her cats. This is her first novel.

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