Monday, May 29, 2017

Winners in May 2017

Quest Chasers Book Tour: $10 Amazon Gift Card

Congratulations to the winners: Mahdi M., Rebecca M., Leela, Lisa B., and Candice!

Hoodie Bear or Sweater Bear from Teddy Bears Personalized

Congratulations to the winner: Melissa C.!

My Little Pony -- Friendship Is Magic: Twilight and Starlight (DVD)

Congratulations to the winners: Jennifer T. and Elizabeth M.!

50th Anniversary Edition of Brown Bear, Brown Bear Signed by Eric Carle

Congratulations to the winner: Darlene O.!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul (hardcover) & $25 Visa Gift Card

Congratulations to the winner: Marilyn N.!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (May 27, 2017)

I can't believe we've almost completed another school year! I'm sure I say this every year, but time always seems to pass so quickly. I hope your family has some fun planned for the summer. Get the party started now by entering some giveaways! Bookmark this page and visit daily to see what new giveaways have been added so you have plenty of chances to win great prizes! And don't forget to peruse the huge list of giveaways listed on my right sidebar. If you're hosting a giveaway on your blog or website, feel free to share it with us in the linky below. Share these great contests with your friends on social media so they can join in the fun, too!

Red’s All-Natural Burritos, Enchiladas and More for Yummy Meals on the Go!

As a busy mom, it’s a given that I don’t always have time to prepare a meal from scratch. Sometimes, it’s necessary to grab a quick bite on the go while I’m at work, heading out the door to a baseball game, or rushing out in the morning. Many of my favorite grab-and-go items come from Red’s! They have a large line of delicious burritos, enchiladas, taquitos and bowls. Not only are they yummy, but they are made with 100% all-natural ingredients, antibiotic-free meat, cage-free eggs, the best dairy, and NO preservatives. And the icing on the cake, so to speak, it’s that they can be popped into the microwave for a quick meal!

Our whole family loves Red’s products. For breakfast, we enjoy the new Chicken Chorizo Egg & Cheese Burrito! It’s packed full of hearty ingredients that give us a good start to our day. For lunch, I pop a couple of Red’s Chicken Taquitos in the microwave and eat them while I’m working. For dinner, we love the Shredded Beef and Chicken Enchiladas. We haven’t had a chance to try the Bowls yet, but they’re definitely next on our list! I love that my teenagers can easily cook Red’s products themselves as a tasty alternative to a boring sandwich or unhealthy treat.

Next time you’re at the grocery store, be on the lookout for Red’s products in the freezer section and bring some home to your family. Not sure where to get them? CLICK HERE to find a Red’s retailer near you!

Visit Red’s at:
Twitter: @redsburritos

Disclosure: I received complimentary product samples to facilitate my honest review.

Giveaway: "MAX 2: White House Hero" Blu-ray Combo Pack, Plus Play the Exclusive Run Game!

**Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I featured in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.**

MAX 2: White House Hero is out on Blu-ray from Warner Bros Home Entertainment on DVD, Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and Digital HD Now!

Man's Best Friend Is the Country's Biggest Hero

Duty calls again, and our hero dog Max returns to action in Max 2: White House Hero. His new assignment brings him to Washington, D.C. to serve on the U.S. president's Secret Service detail. When a foreign leader arrives with his precocious daughter Alex (Francesca Capaldi), tensions arise between both countries. First Son TJ (Zane Austin), along with Max and Alex, uncover a dangerous plot that puts both kids and both nations in jeopardy. A highly sensitive mission will push Max’s specialized skills, intelligence and loyalty to the test. It’s an adorable film that the whole family will love!

Do you have a furry hero in your life? I have to admit that my two beautiful black cats are more heroic at sleeping and cuddling than saving lives, but they're still heroes in my life for providing so much love and entertainment for our family!

Play the Max 2: White House Hero RUN GAME!

• Help Max save TJ and Alex! Click anywhere on the game screen to jump over obstacles and make your best time.
• Watch the trailer and buy Max 2: White House Hero on DVD & Blu-ray.

Visit the Max 2: White House Hero Website:

Follow Max on Facebook:


One lucky winner will receive a copy of Max 2: White House Hero on Blu-ray! This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM ET on June 7, 2017. The prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS. No P.O. Boxes please.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (May 20, 2017)

Welcome to another edition of the Super Saturday Giveaway Linky! Bookmark this page and visit daily to see what new giveaways have been added so you have plenty of chances to win great prizes! And don't forget to peruse the huge list of giveaways listed on my right sidebar. If you're hosting a giveaway on your blog or website, feel free to share it with us in the linky below. Share these great contests with your friends on social media so they can join in the fun, too!

The Pros and Cons of Apps for Kids, Plus Educational Apps Worth Considering for Toddlers and Preschoolers

This post originally appeared on the Dealspotr blog. Dealspotr is the most accurate coupon site that pays you to save. I'm @ParentingAuthor on Dealspotr, use my link to join today and earn 5,000 bonus points.

Guest post by Angela Brown

Technology is advancing so quickly! When I was a kid, the only learning tools I had access to were books (encyclopedias and dictionaries included), television and people. Today, kids have access to a myriad of learning tools and games at their fingertips. Mobile devices, tablets and unparalleled access to the internet make learning easier than it has ever been before.

Unfortunately, access to so much information has a few drawbacks, too. The quality of information available for parents and children varies widely. And while letting little ones play games and learning activities on phones and tablets can certainly help them get ahead, it can also be a dangerous waste of time if you don’t know what to look for.

I’ve included some helpful tips for finding the best apps and avoiding the cruddy ones at the end of the article. So, don’t forget to keep reading after the app suggestions.

Are apps good for kids?

Before I get into the list of apps, let’s chat for a second about the benefit of these games for kids. Some parents will tell you they let their kids play on their tablets all day; other parents would sooner lock themselves in a room with a zombie than let their kids touch the things.

Fortunately for everyone, the answer falls somewhere in the middle. There are a few clear benefits to letting little ones have some time with electronic games including:

Kids prepare for the future: Many jobs today require people to know how to use computers, tablets, and cell phones. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. Kids are quick learners (my 8-year-old can navigate my phone faster than I can) and mastering the technology at a younger age could help them in the future.

Apps are portable: Kids can learn anywhere. To sort of quote Dr. Seuss: You can use them in a box, with a fox, in a house, and with a mouse. They can use apps on a train or in the rain. They can use them here or there. They can use them everywhere. While they certainly shouldn’t have their faces staring at a tablet all the time, they can learn anywhere -- even on long car trips!

Apps can develop hand-eye coordination: If you find the right learning apps, your little ones can get a handle on tough muscle tricks like tracing and following patterns.

There are negative drawbacks to the introduction to this type of technology at a really young age, but those drawbacks are almost always tied to too much exposure. A child can have trouble falling asleep and become more agitated if they spend hours in front of a TV or a tablet. Monitoring the amount of time your little ones use electronics is very important.

If you’re struggling to keep media time in check, here are a few ideas:
  • Set a timer for your little one. When the timer ends, it’s time to get off the tablet.
  • Put a lock on their tablet during off hours so they can’t access games without your permission.
  • Have your child earn media time by doing chores, reading a book, or participating in other activities that don’t involve a screen.
  • Play with your kids on their tablets. Sit down and do some of the activities with your little one. You’ll get a little extra cuddle time while you help them learn.

The best apps for toddlers and preschoolers

We’ve compiled a list of apps that are educational and fun for the toddler age. These games rank well among parents, are free from adult content, and provide learning opportunities along with fun characters and games. Some of the free apps may run occasional advertisements, but to date, we’ve had no issues with inappropriate (or excessive) interruptions during game play.

When considering apps to include on this list, we looked at a variety of sources (including our own phones and tablets!). We looked at educator recommendations, parent comments, and general feedback from users. We skipped apps that were mostly video based and tried to find games that were as interactive as possible to encourage active learning.

Alpha Tots

Ages 2-5 - iPad ($2.99) - Android ($2.99)

Alpha Tots is an interactive game that is colorful and fun and provides educational reinforcement as little ones learn their letters and their letter sounds. Alpha Tots is appropriate for kids with special needs.

Tots will learn their letters and alphabet sounds with bright colors and fun noises. Visual and audio cues help kids learn to associate each letter with the appropriate sounds. This app is easy to navigate, so little ones can learn and play all on their own.

Each letter features a game (like growing tomatoes, recycling, and playing with robots) to help kids associate that specific letter with a fun activity. Parents like that kids are having fun while learning, and that the interactive aspects of the app keep little ones entertained for more than a few seconds.

Montessori Crosswords

Ages 3-10 - iPad ($2.99) - Android (Free)

This app is perfect for toddlers to elementary school age kids. The versatility of this app (paired with literacy learning) makes it a great option for parents with older and younger kids.

Beginning levels show kids how to match phonetic sounds with the corresponding letters. Older levels on the game help kids master basic skills while increasing their vocabulary. The app features thousands of crossword puzzle games and 300 vocabulary words. Kids will learn new skills and how to apply the information.

Fun colors and chunky letters make the game appealing without feeling too babyish. Fun sounds and animations keep the app feeling like a game. Other features include the option to display text in all capitals, lowercase or cursive letters. Parents like that the app also features hints so a child doesn’t get too frustrated if they are struggling to find an answer.

Little Writer

Ages 2-5 - iPad (.99)

Little Writer is a tactile way for little ones to learn how to shape letters and numbers in a fun environment.

Kids will love that this app feels and looks like a game. Bright colors and fun cartoon animals and vehicles show kids how to trace their letters and numbers. The app reinforces proper letter formation with the timing of their tracing pal. Kids get positive feedback every time they finish a letter, number, or word. The interactive instruction of this app is like having an actual instructor sit with the child offering positive reinforcement.

An extra perk: perfection is not a requirement. If kids get a bit off track, they can keep going. The app will start them over on the letter (or latest step in drawing the letter) if they go too far off course.

Parents love that they can customize the app including choosing the order in which letters appear, adding new words, and recording their own voice to narrate the activities.

Rosetta Stone: Kids Lingo Letter Sounds

Ages 3-6 - iPad (Free) - Android (Free)

This app was recognized as the iKids Awards Winner for Best Preschool Learning apps. The app offers English and Spanish reading and speaking games and activities.

The app teaches letter sounds and Spanish vocabulary. Kids will love animated friends that help them through each activity. Using the microphone on a smartphone or tablet, kids can practice speaking their new Spanish vocabulary to get help with their pronunciation.

Parents can receive email updates about their child’s progress (and usage) in the game.

Note: The game can be upgraded to a “full” version for a fee. Parents can add a password to avoid any inadvertent in-app purchases.

Park Math

Ages 3-5 -  iPad (Free) - Android (Free)

This app excels at teaching math effectively using different learning methods for maximum reinforcement. Unlike many other math apps that just have children click to answer, this app teaches through story problems and contextual correspondence (like having your child feed 7 apples to a hungry hippo).

Kids will love the colorful characters, fun games and cheerful voice helping them through their challenges. This app also covers all basic math skills from counting and sorting to sequencing, patterns, logic, and operations. There are two levels. The app is easy to navigate so kids can play this learning game on their own.
This app follows some of the common core standards, helping to reinforce what your little ones are (or will be) learning at school.

Dr. Seuss Collection

Any age - iPad (free) - Android (Free)

We love Doctor Seuss. This free app provides free access to digital copies of the books including The Cat in the Hat and The Foot Book, among others. The app also includes a few extra features, which is why it earned a spot on this list.

In addition to the original text and illustrations from Seuss’s books, the app also includes games and the ability for a kid (or parent) to record their own voice reading the stories.

Kids will love the ease of the app and the ability to have their favorite stories read to them in a click. They’ll also love the sound effects and music that accompanies the stories. Considering that most children’s book apps charge a monthly fee, we think this app is a steal!  

Busy Shapes

Ages 2-5 - iPad ($2.99)

This game combines shape learning with logic and progressively gets harder providing a constant challenge for little minds.

The premise of the game is that kids drag items into different holes based on shape and/or color. As the levels increase, obstacles appear to encourage more creative problem-solving skills. Busy shapes include 38 levels and allows parents to create more than one user profile.

Kids will love the colorful graphics and different textures in the images. Parents will love that the app is simple to use and provides increasingly difficult challenges.

Moose Math

Ages 4-6 - iPad (Free) -  Android (Free)

Moose math lets kids tackle a variety of different math skills including counting, basic geometry, and basic algebra in a modern “building environment.” The game uses real world examples (like following a recipe) to boot.

Kids will learn math skills with the aid of their friends Moose, Puck, and Sass. The games take place in a virtual city where kids can visit one of three buildings to take on different challenges. Kids will love that they are able to earn rewards to decorate their city for completing tasks. Each game has six different levels so kids can keep earning prizes as they develop their math skills.

This game meets common core standards so that kids can apply what they are (or will be) learning in school.  Parents will also love that the app sends a progress report showing how their little ones are doing and in which areas they could use a little help.

Music Superheroes

Ages 2-6 - iPad ($1.99)

I love that this app isn’t just another noise-making music player. Kids get to play with instruments, but they also learn how to keep tempo, follow a rhythm, and read notes.

Music superheroes includes five games. Each game covers a different topic including tempo, rhythm, notes, play, and instrument identification. Kids can graduate to more difficult levels within each game. The app also exposes children to popular tunes as well as classical tunes.

Kids will love the variety, colorful background, and fun musical tunes. They’ll also love learning how to play a song. Parents will love that the noise the app is producing is worth it, as kids learn to recognize instruments and clap on a beat.

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame

Ages 2-6 - Android (free) - iPad (free)

Kids can have a hard time learning how to calm down when they’re upset. This fun app teaches little one’s simple techniques to lower their anxiety level when they are angry or upset. A little less crying after we say no? Yes, please.

Kids will love interacting with their favorite sesame street characters. While the game is short, it’s sweet and one the kids can play multiple times. Kids will also enjoy learning different ways to wait patiently. The game functions in English and Spanish.

Parents will love watching their kids learn how to work through problems and how to deep breathe. The parent’s section also includes a few helpful tips for managing their toddlers when they’re being less-than-saintly.

Choosing the Right Apps for Your Kids

Like all things techy, there are dangers lurking in the shadows of the app store. Some of the “dangers” are more inconvenient, while others threaten to expose your children (or their devices) to adult content or viruses. Taking time to do a little research will ensure that your little ones have access to quality learning/entertainment sources safely.

A few things to look for:

In app purchases: I learned the hard way that you need to password protect any app that offers in-app purchases ($40 and 12 Frozen e-books later). Shockingly, some apps geared towards kids charge upwards of $99 for “special” packages. Don’t believe me? Jack Black’s kid spent almost $3,000 in in-app purchases before dad caught on.

Most apps tell you if they offer in-app purchases. You can shut them off (or put on a password) to keep your wallet safe.

Advertisements: A lot of apps that are free are free because ads interrupt game play. Some children’s apps don’t have many (or any) outside ads. Try playing a round or two of the game to see if the advertisements are going to be too much for your little one. There are also apps you can download that block all or some advertisements so your kids don’t see inappropriate content. Many work well with apps.

Chat features:  There’s been a recent scandal regarding a popular kid’s app Roblox. The game features a chat function where kids can talk to other players. Some adults have allegedly been using this feature to prey on young kids. If an app has this feature, in addition to the games, you should be able to block the chat function completely.

One final tip: You can do a quick search for most apps on Common Sense Media. The website will give you an age range and let you know what type of content to look out for.  Don’t forget to check out reviews on your Google Store of Apple Store before downloading an app. Customers can give helpful feedback about the program.

What are your favorite educational apps for your kids?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Arriving in Theaters on Friday, May 19: "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul"! Celebrate by "Wimping Yourself" and Enter to Win a Visa Gift Card and Hardcover Book

*I will receive a complimentary Visa gift card as a thank you for sharing this information, but all opinions are 100% my own.

I was SO excited when I heard that the Wimpy Kid series was coming back to movie theaters! My kids and I loved the first three Wimpy Kid movies, as well as all of the hilarious books by Jeff Kinney, so we were thrilled to hear that there would be another movie. Of course, the casting is all different since the original actors have outgrown their parts, so we're anxious to see how believable the new cast will be. Read on to learn more about the new Wimpy Kid movie, learn how you can "Wimp Yourself" and your family, and then enter to win a great Wimpy Kid prize!

Buckle up for a wild summer. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul opens in theaters this Friday, May 19!

In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, based on the record-breaking book series, a family road trip to attend Meemaw’s 90th birthday party goes hilariously off course -- thanks to Greg’s newest scheme to (finally!) become famous.

Starring: Jason Ian Drucker, Charlie Wright, Owen Asztalos, Tom Everett Scott, Alicia Silverstone
Directed By: David Bowers
Written By: Jeff Kinney and David Bowers
Produced By: Nina Jacobson, Brad Simpson

Watch a trailer!

Check out this clip from the movie entitled "No Devices"! I had to laugh when I saw it because my boys would have the exact same reaction as Greg and his brothers if they were told there would be "no devices" on a road trip!

Wimp Yourself!

Calling all Wimps! DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL has a brand-new site where you can create your own family road trip photo in the style of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Go to now to make an awesome #WimpyKid memory to share with everybody! Here's the awesome "family portrait" I did of our family!

Enjoy these scenes from the movie!

Official Websites
Visit the Official Website
Follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

I hope you'll join our family this weekend when we head to the theater to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul!


One (1) lucky winner receives:
$25 Visa gift card to see the film in theaters
Copy of the hardcover book, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

Open to US mailing addresses only
Prizing and samples courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway ends at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, May 26, 2017.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Celebrating 50 Colorful Years of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" with a Giveaway for a 50th Anniversary Edition Signed by Eric Carle!

Fifty years ago, Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle collaborated on their first book together, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Since then, Brown Bear has become a perpetual favorite for generations of teachers, parents, and children.

To celebrate Brown Bear's 50th birthday, this special anniversary edition is a larger size, has an updated cover, and includes an audio CD. Brown Bear fans will be able to read along with the story as it's read on the CD, and hear the author and illustrator talk about this beloved book.

Watch this wonderful interview with Eric Carle as he talks about and reads Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

I work in a library, and Eric Carle's books are always among the most popular and beloved of our children's books. I am so pleased to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this book and to be able to offer the following giveaway to my readers!

One lucky winner will receive the 50th anniversary edition of the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? signed by the legendary Eric Carle himself! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, May 28, 2017.

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Disclosure: This prize is being generously donated and shipped by the publisher.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (May 13, 2017)

Welcome to the Mother's Day edition of the Super Saturday Giveaway Linky! We hope you'll give a big hug or a phone call to all of the mothers, grandmothers and special women in your life this week. And if you fall into this category, be sure to relax and take some time for yourself. You deserve it! While you're relaxing, try your luck by entering some giveaways! Bookmark this page and visit daily to see what new giveaways have been added. And don't forget to peruse the huge list of giveaways listed on my right sidebar. If you're hosting a giveaway on your blog or website, feel free to share it with us in the linky below. Share these great contests with your friends on social media so they can join in the fun, too!

Start the Day Out Right with Caveman Coffee!

Many of us like to start out our day with a cup of coffee, and I love discovering new brands and types of coffee to add variety to my morning routine. I recently found out about an awesome brand called Caveman Coffee. I love the name because I definitely feel like a caveman (or cavewoman) some mornings before I’ve had a chance to wake up and make myself presentable!

At Caveman Coffee, a single-origin coffee roaster based in Los Angeles, CA and Albuquerque, NM, they specialize in sustainably sourced fair-trade coffee beans. They never use pesticides on their plants, which are grown in Colombia. And to make sure that you never miss your cup of coffee in the morning, you can sign up for a subscription plan that saves you 10% and drops your coffee at your door every month. No longer will you have to give a caveman clap to your forehead and exclaim, “I forgot to buy coffee!” Of course, if you’re just the kind of person who would rather trek to the store, then you can use this store locator to find out where you can get Caveman Coffee near you.

Caveman Coffee was kind enough to send me some of their White Gold Roast. This is a lighter roast with a slightly nutty flavor. It was perfect for me since I don’t like a real dark, heavy coffee. White Gold also contains chlorogenic acid, which includes anti-inflammatory properties and promotes fat loss by regulating the glucose levels in your system. I always knew that coffee was healthy! And, of course, if you do like a darker coffee, Caveman Coffee has several other types to choose from with fun names like Blacklisted Roast and Sabertooth Roast. And there’s a decaf coffee for those of you who don’t want caffeine.

Despite its name, Caveman Coffee isn’t just about coffee. They also sell teas and something interesting called 100% Coconut Derived MCT. This is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) coconut oil that you can put in your coffee or other beverage that Caveman Coffee says will increase your energy, stamina, and nutrient absorption; boost metabolism; improve and sustain digestive health; and improve mental clarity. I’m hoping that works for me! Caveman also has fun apparel and other branded items in their online store.

I hope you’ll visit Caveman Coffee online to check out all of the wonderful products they offer. Be sure to sign up for a subscription plan so you never run out of your favorite morning brew!


Disclosure: I received complimentary product samples to facilitate my honest review.