Sunday, September 15, 2019

Blu-Ray Review and Giveaway: The Case of Hana & Alice (Anime) ~ 3 Winners!

About the Movie:
When Alice transfers to a new middle school, she hears an urban legend about a student who disappeared the previous year and is suspected to have been killed by his fellow students. Even worse, Alice discovers that she lives next door to his former house, a supposedly haunted home, now occupied by a reclusive classmate named Hana.

Hana and Alice decide to investigate this “murder case” together, but soon find that their lack of detective skills may be an obstacle. This unusual and charming film from famed writer-director Shunji Iwai is a shaggy-dog mystery tale that ultimately gives way to a wonderfully nuanced story of young female friendship, and the fantasies and thrills of everyday teenage life.

Watch the Trailer!


The marvelous anime film The Case of Hana & Alice will be available in North America for the first time on September 17, when it comes to Blu-ray™ from GKIDS and Shout! Factory. The release includes over two hours of bonus features, including a greeting from the film’s premiere and a message from animator Makoto Shinkai (Your Name) that are exclusive to the physical release.

Bonus Features:
· Interview with Yu Aoi and Anne Suzuki (voice actors)
· Film Completion Press Conference
· Film Premiere Stage Greeting
· Interview with Director Shunji Iwai
· Message from Makoto Shinkai (animator)
· Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots

Review by D.T.
The Case of Hana & Alice starts out as any coming-of-age film: Understandably frustrated, 14-year-old Tetsuko Arisugawa, or Alice, has recently moved into a new home in the country. She is picked on at school, partially for being the new girl, and partially because she has unknowingly overstepped a local legend and has been declared cursed by the other students. She lives with her mother, who is going through a divorce with Alice's father and is trying to get the attention of single men (much to the embarrassment of Alice). Meanwhile, her father flippantly reveals all of their “family secrets” in a popular book series. To make things more chaotic, she cannot even decide on her own name, having recently disposed of her childish nickname, and she is now changing it again after being dubbed “Alice” by a childhood friend. Everything seems to be a mess. However, Alice is a positive girl, and she slowly turns her life around. She joins the track team at school. She takes up ballet, again. She learns about the area from her childhood friend, who has lived here for a while. Her last goal is to confront that local legend that has cursed her and made her unpopular at school. Through a silly series of events, she finds herself face-to-face with Hana, the reclusive neighbor, and together they go on an adventure to track down the source of the legend and learn the truth.

At first, the film seems simple. The animation of the characters is very plain. The music is cheery, but childish. And everything follows Alice as she lives out her day-to-day, middle-school routine, trying to adjust to a new life in a strange place. As it continues, the plot gets more and more complex, and you start to notice the details in everything. The art seems to come alive, their movements lifelike, and the vistas are masterful watercolors. Meanwhile, Alice’s life turns around, and she slowly but surely gets entangled in Hana’s life. They are both miserable in their own way, but that somehow only draws them closer. And as their journey comes to an end, you can’t imagine that these two have not been friends their entire lives. As the movie finishes, you also can’t imagine that they will ever not be friends from here on out. The story seems like it has probably happened to someone at some point, and the unbelievable just becomes a wonderful tale that they will recount for others some day as the “story of how we met.” Hana and Alice encapsulate both the frustration and the joy of being a teenager, and their story is sure to capture your heart.

GIVEAWAY

Three (3) lucky winners will receive a Blu-ray copy of The Case of Hana & Alice! Enter through the Giveaway Tools form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Monday, September 30, 2019.




Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this film to facilitate the review.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Baby Safety Tips from MAM for #JPMABabySafetyMonth, Plus a Giveaway for $30 Worth of MAM Baby Products!


September is #JPMABabySafetyMonth, sponsored annually by the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). This month-long event increases consumer awareness of baby safety issues and the safe selection and use of baby products. For the past 40 years, MAM’s top priority has been the development of products for the well-being, safety and health of babies that make life easier for parents and allow them to focus on the joy of family. Below are some recommendations from MAM and top baby registry site GuGu Guru to help raise awareness of key things we can all do to protect our babies.


Consider pacifier usage when placing baby down for sleep and remember that the pacifier may not be reinserted once baby falls asleep. Pacifier use is shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. MAM supports the AAP published guidelines for pacifier usage. Check them out here: http://bit.ly/AAPInfantSleepSafety

For more information about pacifiers and how they reduce the risk of SIDS, visit http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/5/1245


Cold Mist Humidifiers are a safe and natural way to thin baby’s mucus when congested and alleviate symptoms that may be preventing them from getting a good night’s rest, such as dry skin, bloody noses, sore throat, and dry cough. For more information from our friends @craneusa on Cool Mist Humidifiers, visit www.crane-usa.com.


There are two main components to car seat safety according to our friends @thetotsquad: fitting the seat into your vehicle, and fitting your child into the seat. A correctly installed car seat should not move more than 1" in any direction when testing tightness at the belt path. Always make sure you have the right seat for your child's age and measurements and ensure the harness is tightened so that you cannot pinch the material over the child's shoulders. For more information visit: www.thetotsquad.com.


Keep the wifi products in your nursery (baby monitor, sound machine, etc.) secure from web intruders with these three tips from our friends @EvozBaby:

1. Do NOT use wifi products that have default credentials.

2. Do NOT use wifi products that run extra programs, otherwise know as ""backdoors."

3. Only use wifi products with secure encryption.

Lastly, be mindful of cords! Anything that plugs into an outlet should be placed at least 3 ft (0.9 m) away from your child. For more information, visit www.myevoz.com.


Always keep baby visible and kissable! Our friends @babyktan say that keeping your little one's head at a kissable height when in the carrier means that you can monitor their airway (and snuggle -- it's a win-win!). For more information, visit www.babyktan.com.


Keep it clean and simple when setting up your crib. Here are a few tips for creating a safe sleep environment for baby from our friends @colgatemattress:

1. Remove anything with a soft surface from the crib, including stuffed animals and blankets. These items can block baby’s airway during sleep.

2. Provide a firm mattress with a fitted sheet.

3. Lay your baby on his or her back at bedtime and nap time.

For more information, visit www.colgatekids.com.


Stuffing is a choking hazard. Our friends @mouselovespig recommend to always double check the seams of soft toys to make sure that no stitches have popped loose. For more information, visit www.mouselovespig.com.


Remember the ABCs of Safe Sleep: Alone | Back | Crib.

We recommend an easy-to-use swaddle, like Love To Dream’s Swaddle UP™, from birth so you don’t have to worry about baby breaking out of a swaddle blanket. Choose a size according to baby’s weight, not age. Stop swaddling as soon as baby shows signs of rolling and transition to an arms-free sleep product, like the @lovetodreamUSA Swaddle UPTM 50/50 Transition Bag.

For more information, visit www.lovetodream.com.

About MAM – standard-setting baby products

MAM combines technological innovation, medical function and contemporary design to develop superior baby care products that support a baby’s development from day one. Since MAM developed its first pacifier in Vienna in 1976, it has evolved to become a global authority on baby care product design and quality. Today, MAM products are used by families in over 60 countries and on six continents. To find out more and view MAM’s baby care range of award-winning pacifiers, bottles, cups, teethers, oral care items, coordinating accessories and gift sets, visit www.mambaby.com.

Follow MAM
Facebook: facebook.com/MAMbabyUSA
Pinterest: Pinterest.com/MAMUSA
Instagram: Instagram.com/mam_usa


GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive a $30 gift package of assorted MAM baby products! Open to residents of the United States and Canada only. Enter through the Giveaway Tools form below. This giveaway ends at 11:59pm ET on September 30, 2019.



My Favorite Things


I love to try out different products, but invariably I end up going back to the same things that really work for me. So, here’s my list of things that I can’t live without. None of these products are sponsored. They’re all things I buy on my own. I’d love to hear what you love, too!

Lipstick: Avon Ultra Color Lipstick in Country Rose. I love this color. It has a little bit of shine, and the price is right! I buy several at a time and keep one at home, one in my purse, and one in my desk drawer at work.

Foundation: Clinique Even Better Makeup. Go to a Clinique counter and have them match a color to your skin tone. (My perfect match is Crème Chamois.) I like the Even Better makeup because it provides good coverage and some sunscreen, but it’s not overly heavy.

Mascara: Clinique. This is really by default. Whenever I order Clinique Even Better Makeup, I order online from whatever store is offering a free gift set with a purchase. The gift sets almost always include a mascara, so that’s what I use, but I really like it, too.

Eye Makeup Remover: Avon True Color Moisturizing Eye Make-Up Remover Lotion. I keep this in the shower and put just a little dab on my fingertip when I take a shower at night. No need for cotton pads or tissues. I just rinse in the shower. It’s not greasy or oily.

Moisturizer: ROC Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Crème. I prefer the fragrance-free version since most moisturizers are too perfume-y for me. If you’re in your “middle years” like me, anything with retinol in it helps keep the wrinkles at bay.

Face Cleanser: Philosophy the Microdelivery Exfoliating Facial Wash. I look for buy-one-get-one-free or 40% off specials and buy the giant 32-ounce size. It comes with a pump, and I keep it in the shower to use on my face. Just one squirt goes a long way, and this big size lasts forever. I like that it exfoliates, too, to keep my skin feeling smooth and soft.

Toner: Witch Hazel. I’ve used a number of brands, but I find that witch hazel is not drying, and it works well both on my middle-aged face and on my teenagers’ acne-prone skin. My teens won’t make the effort to wash their faces before school, but they’ll give their face a quick swipe with witch hazel on a cotton pad to remove the oil that’s accumulated while they slept.

Shampoo and Conditioner: TRESemmé Keratin Smooth with Marula Oil. I get highlights in my hair, and these products seem to help retain the color. Plus, even with the oil, they don’t weigh down my hair but keep it moisturized and healthy looking.

Mouthwash: ACT Dry Mouth Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash with Xylitol. It leaves my mouth feeling fresh and minty, but it doesn’t burn like a lot of minty mouthwashes. It tastes good, and it’s alcohol-free!

Bras: Warner’s. I hate underwires, but I love support. Look for the Warner’s bras that have a roll of soft padding at the bottom of the cup. It provides great support and “oomph,” but is extremely comfortable. I wash them by hand and hang them to dry so they don’t become discolored in the wash.

Watches: Skagen. I love the watches with mesh bands. They’re so beautiful, and these watches last forever!


Friday, September 13, 2019

Wondrous Weekly Giveaway Linky (September 14-20, 2019)

It's still hot here in south Florida, but fall is right around the corner (at least, judging by the wonderful appearance of pumpkin-spice-flavored everything!), so let's celebrate by entering some giveaways! Bookmark this page and visit it daily to see what new contests have been added to the linky below. And if you're hosting a giveaway on your blog or website, feel free share it in the linky. Don't forget to invite your social media followers to join us, too. Best of luck!

NOTE: Where it asks for "Your Name," enter the name of your giveaway along with the end date. For the URL, enter the exact URL where your giveaway is located. Comments are appreciated but never required. Thank you!



Saturday, September 07, 2019

Which Is Your Favorite "Aladdin" Movie? Giveaway for the New Live-Action Film AND the Animated Classic!

If, like me, you love the original animated Aladdin film from Disney, you might have had some reservations about watching the new live-action version. Would it be as good? Would Will Smith be as great as Robin Williams playing the genie? Would they change the storyline? These were my thoughts going into the theater… And my thoughts leaving the theater? Wow! That was awesome! Yes, the live-action version makes some changes, but the film is just as enjoyable as the original. And Will Smith makes an amazing genie! I’m glad he didn’t try to copy Robin Williams but instead put his own spin on the role. I really liked his performance … and he even got a special “happy ending” that wasn’t in the original movie. Disney’s choices for the lead characters were spot-on, too. Naomi Scott’s Jasmine became a bolder, independent woman in the new film, and Mena Massoud as Aladdin added a lot of spunk and fun to the role.

Watch the trailer for the live-action Aladdin:


Watch the trailer for the animated Aladdin:


Fortunately, Disney is making it easy for you and your family to watch and collect both versions of Aladdin. The live-action adaptation of Aladdin came out on Digital and Movies Anywhere on August 27 and debuts on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD on September 10! At the same time, Disney has added the original animated classic to its Walt Disney Signature Collection, which allows fans to watch the movie in 4K for the first time. Plus, both films have plenty of bonus features. The live-action version includes a deleted song and scenes, the story of Jasmine’s new song, “Speechless,” music videos, bloopers, and much more! The animated version has a sing-along, an interview with Scott Weinger, who voiced Aladdin, genie outtakes, alternate endings, and more new features.

Both versions of Disney’s Aladdin are incredible, and I hope you’ll add them to your family’s video collection so you can watch them over and over again. Discover the unique features of both films, and have a magical movie experience!

Enjoy these scenes from the new live-action Aladdin:




Check out Aladdin on Social Media:
Website: Movies.Disney.com/Aladdin
Facebook:
Facebook.com/DisneyAladdin
Facebook.com/AladdinPrincessJasmine
Facebook.com/AladdinGenie
Twitter: Twitter.com/DisneyAladdin
Instagram: Instagram.com/DisneyAladdin


GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will win BOTH the new live-action version of Aladdin and the Walt Disney Signature Collection version of the animated classic! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, September 22, 2019.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Disclaimer: I received complimentary copies of these films to facilitate my honest review.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Wondrous Weekly Giveaway Linky (September 7-13, 2019)

Wow, what a week it has been! Here in South Florida, it felt like the longest week ever as we prepared for the possibility of a Category 5 hurricane hitting us and endured the uncertainty of what was going to happen. However, the feeling now is that we aren't taking for granted how lucky and blessed we were, while those in the Bahamas are now suffering considerably. I hope you'll take some time to pray for them and think about how you can best help them out. Now that the danger has passed, we can breathe a little easier -- and enter some giveaways! Bookmark this page and visit it daily to see what new contests have been added to the linky below. And if you're hosting a giveaway on your blog or website, feel free share it in the linky. Invite your social media followers to join us, too.

NOTE: Where it asks for "Your Name," enter the name of your giveaway along with the end date. For the URL, enter the exact URL where your giveaway is located. Comments are appreciated but never required. Thank you!



Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Our Weekend with Kabillion, a FREE Video-on-Demand Streaming Service for Kids!

One of the goals of our long Labor Weekend was to check out a new network for kids called Kabillion! The holiday weekend always involves food, so we got our popcorn ready...


We made some party foods, like deviled eggs and chocolate-chip cookie bars...



Then we learned that our relaxing Labor Day weekend had turned into a Waiting for Hurricane Dorian weekend!


Fortunately for us in south Florida, we were spared the wrath of Dorian. (Please direct your prayers to those in the Bahamas.) Nevertheless, the school and work closures were extended, so we had even more time to enjoy good food and TV viewing.

So, here's what we found out about Kabillion! First, it's important to know that Kabillion is a FREE app on Roku, XUMO, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV. That means you can watch it anywhere that you can use the app. It's also available as a free service with most major cable providers, which makes it easy to view at home. As for me, I fired up my Roku and easily found the Kabillion app.


Once I got to the Kabillion screen, it was really easy to explore all of the wonderful family-friendly programs they offer. They even had sections labeled for the preschool set and those of school-age.


My boys are in their teens, but even they discovered shows they love, such as Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, LEGO Ninjago, and Transformers.



And I recognized many programs for the little ones that I'm going to tell my moms-of-tots friends about, such as My Little Pony, Thomas and Friends, Bobby's World, and Dive Olly Dive!



Best of all, they're adding new programs to explore all the time, such as the new anime series, Future Card Buddyfight!

So, our Labor Day/Hurricane Dorian party turned into a relaxing afternoon exploring the fantastic shows on Kabillion. Parents will have peace of mind in knowing that the programs are child-appropriate. They will keep the kids and even anime-loving adults perpetually entertained. Even better, it's all FREE! Visit www.kabillion.com to learn more.



Disclosure: I received a complimentary "family-night" pack as a thank-you for sharing this terrific information with you.

Movie Spotlight and Giveaway: "Catching Faith 2"

I'm pleased to announce that RLJE Films will release Catching Faith 2 on DVD, On Demand and Digital HD on September 3, 2019! Set four years after the original film, this powerful sequel about a family and their struggle to do it all features many returning cast members, including Lorena Segura York (Hollywood Heights), Bill Engvall (The Bill Engvall Show, Last Man Standing) and Garrett Westton (Buried Secrets).

About the movie:
Everything seems to be going wrong for the Taylor Family right now. Just as Alexa is starting her dream job, she’s overwhelmed by caring for her mother suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Her son, Beau, has just lost his professional football career to an injury and her daughter, Ravyn, needs help planning her last-minute wedding. Only with the support of friends and the guiding grace of their faith can the Taylor family find the strength to cope with the tidal wave of drama and tragedy that is rolling over their lives.

Watch the trailer!


Follow on social media:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive a DVD copy of Catching Faith 2! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Sunday, September 15, 2019.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Friday, August 30, 2019

Wondrous Weekly Giveaway Linky (Aug 31-Sep 6, 2019)

Welcome to this week's Wondrous Weekly Giveaway Linky. Well, it was supposed to be a nice, long holiday weekend, but here in Florida it has turned into a scramble to prepare for Hurricane Dorian! For those of you, like our family, who are in its potential path, my prayers and thoughts are with you. In the meantime, if you need a distraction (and have power), enter some giveaways! Bookmark this page and visit it daily to see what new contests have been added to the linky below. And if you're hosting a giveaway on your blog or website, feel free share it in the linky. Invite your social media followers to join us, too.

NOTE: Where it asks for "Your Name," enter the name of your giveaway along with the end date. For the URL, enter the exact URL where your giveaway is located. Comments are appreciated but never required. Thank you!



Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Look! Babies Head to Toe: An Author Interview and Board Book Giveaway!

LOOK! BABIES HEAD TO TOE
By Robie H. Harris
Illustrated by Anoosha Syed
On Sale August 27, 2019 | Abrams Appleseed | ISBN 9781419732034
Board book | $7.99 | 20 pages | Ages 3 and up

Look! Babies Head to Toe is an exuberant introduction to the parts of the body and the senses. Filled with fun, repetitive sounds and a melodic voice, this book will captivate babies and toddlers.


About the Author
Robie H. Harris has written award-winning and internationally acclaimed children’s books and is known for writing about serious issues with honesty, understanding, and humor. Harris has written over 20 books for everyone from toddlers to older kids, including the definitive Family Library about sexuality: IT'S PERFECTLY NORMAL, IT'S SO AMAZING!, and IT'S NOT THE STORK! Harris travels around the country speaking about how picture books address the genuine feelings and concerns of young children.

An Exclusive Interview with Robie H. Harris!

1. At what age should children be introduced to books? As early as possible. What does early mean?
— Could mean four or five months or six months. Just holding a young infant in the crook of one’s arm and reading the words out loud as the infant hears the words and gazes at the art in the book is a comforting time and a sharing time for both the infant and parent or caregiver. Often, you will hear the baby gurgle and coo while listening to your voice and at times even reach toward or touch one of the babies who are illustrated in a book—books such as LOOK! and WHO? How do I know this? From my own experiences of sharing a board book with an infant. One parent sent me a video of her six-month-old baby gurgling and cooing while my first board book, WHO? A Celebration of Babies, was being read to the baby just as I have described above. The infant also reached its hand out to touch a few of the babies that artist Anoosha Syed created for LOOK! I also know this happens because parents and caregivers have told me about having the same kinds of experiences when sharing WHO? and LOOK! with infants. Others have sent me photos. These kinds of interactions that I have just described are also backed up by exciting new research that talks about the benefits of introducing board books to younger infants, older infants and toddlers. Older babies and toddlers also love board books and can be totally engaged in them. Sharing a board book with an infant or toddler is early literacy in the making and helps to create a love of language, art, and books for years to come.

2. How do you come up with the ideas for your books?
— Lots of ways. Of course memories of my own children as babies and also my grandchildren as babies fuel my thoughts for all of my books, including my two board books. Another way that an idea for a book pops into my head happens when I am out and about and see an infant or toddler or young child doing something that fascinates me or catches my eye, along with the sounds and the language that child is using. I always grab a pencil or pen and pad or a scrap of paper ASAP and write down those words and the actions that I have just witnessed. While young infants do not begin to say actual words until they are older infants, the sounds that they make is their language, one of their ways their ways of talking and interacting with us and telling us how they feel or sometimes even what they want or need. So words matter the most to me. And soon, a story begins to pop into my head. And after a while, I begin to write. As I am writing, somehow, even though I can’t draw for beans, images pop into my head that could be the images that an artist such as Anoosha Syed might just put into the book I am beginning to write. But I always want to see what images the artist comes up with first before my thoughts are passed on to them. That’s because they often see things I do not see and come up with wonderful ideas that have never entered my mind. After that, I often comment and make suggestions on early sketches and later art that is sent to me. That’s just what happened as Anoosha created her joyful, endearing and engaging art for LOOK!

3. How did you develop your interest in early childhood education?
— My mother loved babies and toddlers and young children. And I as a child and as an adult found them fascinating from the day they were born, through their infancy and toddlerhood and all the way through their years as young children to their young adult years. I also had the good luck to spend two days a week for a year on the world-famous pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s Child Development Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital. Along with those in training to become pediatricians, I would observe infants and toddlers and young children and together with Dr. Brazelton discuss the normal development of infants, toddlers, and young children. This was another experience that helped me understand just how amazing and fascinating our very youngest children are and continue to be. So as a children’s book author, how could I not weave into my books what I saw and observed at my time on Dr. Brazelton’s unit?


4. What advice do you have for parents to help them encourage their children to love reading?
— Make sure you read to your child once a day, every single day. And find a quiet time to do so, if possible, and don’t be interrupted by a call on your phone or anything else. Just enjoy your special time together. Start early and keep on reading books to them. Have a basket of board books on the floor with just board books in it—nothing else. And it’s okay if your infant or toddler sits on a book, chews on it, puts it on top of their head, drools on it, or opens it and is looking at the book upside down. These are simply some of the main ways books become part of their lives and will continue to be part of their lives as they grow up and older.

5. How do you respond to people who say it's easier to write children's books than books for adults?
— Most often my response is, “Children’s books from board books to YA literature are all difficult to write. The children’s book authors I know and respect all work as hard as anyone writing for adults. Writing is hard for most every author I know, no matter who their audience may be.”

6. What in your background prepared you to write children's books?
— It may have been my elementary school, where the first thing we did every morning no matter how young or old we were was create stories, whether written or told out loud. In kindergarten, we dictated our stories to our teachers who would write then down for us and then we would illustrate them. One might say that I began to create children’s books in kindergarten!And I would venture to say that by eighth grade most of my classmates were wonderful writers of both fiction and nonfiction. The experience that also influenced me and helped to prepare me to write board books me was the year I mentioned above spent at T. Berry Brazelton, MD Child Development Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital. Dr. Brazelton and his colleague Josh Sparrow MD who is now the director of the Brazelton Touchpoints Project, read drafts of each of my board books and commented on what I had created. Their comments helped me to think in new ways about how to write a board book.


GIVEAWAY

One lucky winner will receive a copy of the board book, Look! Babies Head to Toe by Robie H. Harris! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM ET on Tuesday, September 10, 2019.

a Rafflecopter giveaway