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August 2014

LEGO Ninjago Nindroids Game - Review and GIVEAWAY

Yep, that's my son and I up there on YouTube*.  We were asked to review Warner Bros. newest game LEGO Ninjago Nindroids which was released on July 29th exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.  

Photo courtesy of LEGO

As you can see, we both think LEGO Ninjago Nindroids - Nintendo 3DS is super cool.  Based on the popular animated TV series, LEGO Ninjago Rebooted which my son absolutely loves, LEGO Ninjago Nindroids is a fast paced game that brings the player into the show to defeat evil or even unlock characters on both sides to play from different perspectives.  

But beyond that, we also love the graphics, the music and the boards.  We love how LEGO makes the storyline just a little bit quirky and fun.  Even the most serious subjects can be LEGOized to make them easier for kids to grasp and understand.  We love the game and want you to try it out, too!

We've been given the opportunity to give one copy away, so be sure to enter to win using this Rafflecopter form below.  As always, please remember to complete the tasks required in order for your entry to count!  Best of luck to you!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

 For more information on LEGO Ninjago Nindroids or other LEGO products, visit their website at LEGO.com

*I know the quality is not the best on the video and you can't really hear the music as well as I had hoped, but it's only our second attempt in about 3 years of trying out video.  I'll keep working on my skills!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of LEGO Ninjago Nindroids to review free of charge.  No other compensation was given.  All opinions are my own.  This post also contains my Amazon affiliate link which means I could be compensated if a purchase is made through it (which I appreciate very much!) 

Summer Sleep-Away by Ofer Aronskind - Review and GIVEAWAY

Summer-sleep-away - CoverHave you ever read a book that when it's over and you close the cover, you just smile to yourself?  My daughter and I just finished the book Summer Sleep-Away by Ofer Aronskind and we both had the same reaction when we finished it.

This is the story of 12 year-old Mattie Kleinfield who is going to sleepaway summer camp for the first time.  The story begins highlighting all the insecurities you can imagine a preteen boy would have going to an unknown place without the comfort of knowing a soul on the bus.  But it evolves to prove the saying "The worst summer camps make the best friends".

Summer Sleep-Away reads like you stepped onto the set of the movie Stand By Me or the show The Wonder Years.  It is told in a reflective manner by the author in first person.  I love that it gives an intimate knowledge of his feelings throughout the book about his new friends, his adventures and the camp itself.  There are a few emotional points in the story, but they are handled beautifully with lots of love.

It is hard to determine what books will be appropriate reading for preteen children these days.  Especially when your child is an advanced reader.  Finding the balance between a story that is compelling to read while not being too "young adult" and one that is also at a challenging reading level is never easy.  Summer Sleep-Away was perfect for my 10 year-old daughter who reads at a 7th grade level.  

I would love for you to read Summer Sleep-Away and hear your reaction.  So I have been given the opportunity to give away a book to one lucky reader!  Just enter below using hte Rafflecopter form.  As always, be sure to complete each task that you mark off on the form.  (If you choose to comment, you have to actually comment when clicking the "completed" button.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't win the giveaway, don't worry!  Y oucan purchase Ofer Aronskind's book Summer Sleep-Away through Amazon.com for $12.56 ($3.99 digital) using this link:


And don't forget to check out the rest of author Ofer Aronskind's work at oferaronskind.com.  

You can also visit his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

I hope you enjoy Summer Sleep-Away by Ofer Aronskind as much as my daughter and I did.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Summer Sleep-Away as well as compensation. All opinions in this review are my own.  Also, if you make a purchase using my affiliate link on this page, I may earn a commission to which I will be grateful.  Thank you.


best. morning. ever.

I should be working, but I just had the best morning and wanted to get this out before the scent of playground metal leaves my hands.


Some days even the most tedious of activities can turn into the most fun.  This week I started working again.  I mean, I'm a mom, so I'm really always working. But I started writing for pay again on Monday which means I have to be on an actual schedule or I will pretty much fall victim to my own lack of self discipline and immediately regret my work before I even start each day.  

So I put myself on a strict write-five-articles-each-day-before-the-sun-comes-up regimen and have been sticking with it.  Although last night I looked at the calendar and realized that this morning I would have to change it up a bit because circled in red were the words Allergy Shots right there staring back at me.

Every second of every minute for the rest of last night I sat calculating and recalculating how I would get the rest of my work done this morning considering I had to stop midstream and go to the far reaches of the next town to get stuck with magic allergy needles.  I couldn't concentrate on anything else.  I basically burned the toast for our dinner BLTs.  I still don't really know if the kids took showers or even brushed their teeth before bed.  I couldn't sleep when I went to bed.  I was kept awake by the fear that I would lose my entire week of being disciplined simply because I had a slight change in my schedule.  I felt like a smoker who quit years ago but was on the brink of having just one more and then watching the rest of my life go down the tubes...

But when I woke up this morning, guess what I did.  

I just said f**k it.  

I sat in front of the laptop aimlessly trying to figure out how I could work the day and instead of giving it any more thought I closed the lid, got up and went into the living room where my son was sitting.  I asked him to go wake up his sister and we were off.

Instead of worrying any more, I just stopped.  We got my allergy shots and then went to breakfast at the diner.  I let my 10 year-old daughter order a short stack of chunky monkey pancakes from the adult menu while my son ordered the "Boots" from the kids menu (which was a short stack of chunky monkey pancakes).  My son got some hot chocolate with whipped cream.  We talked and laughed while I sipped my coffee and the two ate their identical yet completely different breakfasts. 

"What should we do next?" I asked.

We decided on the park at their school because it is always exciting to play at school without all the rules.  Instead of sitting on a bench and watching, I joined them in their quest to be as quiet as possible while climbing across everything.  We were ninjas.  We walked up the slides.  We scaled the tops of the handrails with our feet.  We jumped from the rock wall to the next obstacle with ease.  

We ruled.

We rested in the climbing tube all tangled up with each other's limbs.  I could see my daughter's hair was stuck to her face.  I'm sure mine was, too.  My son's cheek was right next to my lips so I kissed it.  It felt surreal; like it couldn't possibly be real life.  But just as that moment felt like it was about to flit away like a dandelion seed, it rushed back into my heart and stayed there.  

We all decided that this has been the best morning of the summer.  Hands down.  No contest.  

And all that work I was worried about last night?  I still have to do it.  But I know it will flow off my fingertips now.  All because I stopped worrying.

Stop Reacting and Start Responding by Sharon Silver- book review

photo taken from proactiveparenting.net

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book for my honest review.  No other compensation has been received.  All opinions are my own.

On most days I wear two hats simultaneously: a Mom hat and an Information Junkie hat.  Sure, there are others, but mostly those two hats get the most use out of all.  So having a parenting book I can reference at any time is important to me.  

When I was asked to review Sharon Silver's book Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be, I jumped at the chance.  My kids and I have outgrown all the books I have on my shelf (Secrets of the Baby Whisperer doesn't quite cut it when trying to parent a 6 year-old and a 10 year-old), so I have been looking for something new to flip through when I'm at a loss.

Sharon Silver is a  educator with 4 certifications in parent education, facilitating for the Cline/Fay Institute and Redirecting Children’s Behavior programs and creator of the Proactive Parenting Approach which helps parents become more aware of their own parenting techniques.

I read most of the book and was very pleased with Sharon Silver's advice.  The main goal I took away from the book is to pay more attention to the reason why my child is acting a certain way rather than just quelling the situation at the time.  

For example, I recently noticed that my son is quite bossy in certain situations when he is playing with his friends.  Until now, I was at a loss in deciding how to handle it.  Sharon suggests the following in her book:

"Bossiness is a child’s attempt to practice her developing leadership skills, but since she’s young, she does it in an unrefined way. If you can look at her bossiness that way, you may become more inspired to teach her how to be a good leader instead of punishing her for being bossy."

I had not thought of it like that before.  Now I will.  

After flipping through and pausing to read several chapters,  I recommend it to any parent looking for a great reference.  Stop Reacting and Start Responding is set up with short, easy to read chapters that can be read straight through or referenced separately when you want quick answers.  Each chapter also has a "Quick View" section at the end which sums up the chapter for even easier reading.  

You can purchase Stop Reacting and Start Responding through the Proactive Parenting website for $12.95 hardcopy or $9.95 e-book using this link.  I hope you will check it out!


Love Sea Glass? Check out Jersey Shore Sea Glass Carvings - jewelry review

Sea glassI don't get out much so I don't really "do" fashion.  Most of the time I am in my mom uniform of jeans and a T-shirt and I'm completely fine with that.  

But last month I was planning on going to Blogger Bash and needed to dress myself up.  That was a very hard task because I have NO idea what looks good and what doesn't.  I miraculously found some outfits with the help of my awesome mother-in-law who shopped with me until we both about dropped.  But when I got home I realized that I probably should wear some sort of jewelry.  

That's where my friend Ellie and her fabulous sea glass talents came in.   

Little backstory: Ellie and I met at a birthday party at a mutual friend's house.  Through the magic of Facebook, Ellie and I have kept in touch and become much better friends over the past few years even though we only met that one time in real life.  

About a year or so ago, Ellie started taking bits of sea glass she found along the NJ beach and using carving tools to make them into gorgeous pieces of wearable art.  

I had been admiring Ellie's jewelry since she started and have enjoyed watching her come up with all the unique and beautiful pieces she creates.  So when I was looking for something exciting and different ot wear around my neck for Blogger Bash, Ellie was the one I contacted.

We discussed what type of piece would be appropriate for me.  Because I'm a blogger from New Jersey going to a blogging event in New York, I wanted something that would be representative of both my personality and my roots here in NJ.  Together we came up with the idea of a sea glass New Jersey made in green.  

When Ellie sent me my necklace, I was blown away.  It was so beautiful and perfect.  I wore it like crazy at Blogger Bash, and haven't stopped since!  It flows seamlessly between dressy outfits and my comfortable mom uniforms.  

My beautiful green New Jersey pendant came in a seafoam colored box with the Jersey Shore Sea Glass Carvings logo affixed to the top.  The box was filled with cotton and safely wrapped in bubble wrap to protect the delicate sea glass from breakage.  The necklace itself has a kelly green bail and came with a black necklace (which I chose). 

Sea glass NJ

You can also see a collection of the pieces she has already done on her Facebook page.  Here are a few samples from her album:

Sea glass anchor
Clear anchor
Sea glass heart
Blue heart
Sea glass message
Vessel made to hold the ashes of a beloved pet. Carved from the top of a bottle.
Sea glass scallop
Green shell

Each piece is custom made to your specifications.  You choose the color of your sea glass, bail, and necklace cord.  Prices are tiered from $65 to $95 depending on the difficulty and size of the piece Ellie will be carving.  

If you are interested in getting your own custom sea glass necklace from Ellie at Jersey Shore Sea Glass Carvings, check out her website www.jerseyshoreseasglasscarvings.com.  You won't be disappointed!