Monday, September 14, 2015

The Biggest Story - Book Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

My family knows I'm a bit of a book collector (borderline hoarder according to the hubby). Children's books are my main passion. I've read so many hundreds of books to my children and they have become like members of our family. I have trouble parting with children's books because of the wonderful memories associated with reading them. We did a quick count at one point (before I started downsizing) and realized I had more children's books than some small town libraries.

When I heard I could review a new Christian children's book, I was all in. And the book is incredible. The illustrations grabbed me and drew me in. The first several times I sat down with the book I didn't actually read anything, I just looked at the beautiful pictures. I discovered there are so many things going on in some of the pictures that I had to keep studying to find all the elements. Look at the illustration below. Absolutely beautiful and amazing. (There's also a video that brings the illustrations to life - take a minute to watch it.)

Reading it was another delight. As explained in the notes to parents, Kevin DeYoung wanted to tell the story in the Bible as one larger story. He felt that often we only know certain stories in the Bible like Adam, Moses, Noah and we view them as disjointed stories not connected. He wanted to connect the stories together as the Bible is one book. I thought he did an excellent job of transitioning from one story to the next while always making the point that Jesus fulfilled a lot of promises and prophecies given from God. The message is clear and my kids enjoyed reading it as much as I did.

Keep reading to find your own opportunity to win a copy for your own home or head over to Amazon to purchase the book.

About the book:
Hardcover: 132 pages
Publisher: Crossway (August 31, 2015)

In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung - a best-selling author and father of six - leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heave and new earth.  With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible's core message-how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden-will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God's promises are even bigger and better than we think.  

About Kevin DeYoung:
Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan.  He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous well-known books, including Just Do SomethingThe Hole in Our HolinessCrazy Busy, and Taking God At His Word.  He lives with his wife and their 6 children in Central Michigan.

About Don Clark:
Don Clark is an artist and the cofounder of Invisible Creature, a widely respected and award-winning design studio in Seattle that has worked with clients such as Target, Nike, LEGO, and WIRED magazine.  He lives with his wife and their 3 children, 4 goats, 12 chickens, and 1 crazy dog on a farm just outside the city limits.

Who wants to win a GIVEAWAY?!?!
I know how much my family has enjoyed The Biggest Story. I'm thrilled that I get to give away a copy of this book to a reader of my blog. Please enter using the Givewaway Tools form below and good luck!

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.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Movie coming of 90 Minutes in Heaven Book - Review and Giveaway #HopeLives

Disclosure: I was provided a copy to the book and a sneak peek at the opening scene of the movie in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Do you ever wonder what happens after you die? Do you think about heaven or hell? What if you could hear about one person's experience in heaven...would you want to hear it? Well Don Piper has this story for each of us. I was able to read the new version (the movie version) of his book 90 Minutes in Heaven. I found that it wasn't the fast and easy read I thought it would be. There's a lot about Don's life before and after his time in heaven. Don was killed in a car crash in 1989 and went to heaven for 90 minutes. When the prayers of another pastor brought him back to life on earth, he had a long recovery and is still coping with being in heaven, then back on earth. While none of us really wants to die, once we are in heaven with all the glory of the Lord and Jesus himself--who wants to come back?

In this highly introspective and thought-provoking book, we look at Don Pipers life before and after being in heaven. We also get to glimpse what he saw from the outer gates of heaven while he was there. It is hard to read at times and difficult to absorb all that is going on. That doesn't make it a bad read, but it did slow me down because I was being more introspective myself. 

The 90 Minutes in Heaven movie releases in theaters next Friday, September 11. I got to watch the opening scene and it looks like it's going to be an awesome movie. The opening sequences held my attention and left me wanting more. I can't wait to see it. Check here to find theaters near you.

About the movie presented by Giving Films:
Releases in theaters everywhere September 11, 2015
Rating: PG-13 (for intense accident and injury images) 
Starring Hayden Christensen (Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith), Kate Bosworth (Remember The Titans, Blue Crush) Michael W. Smith, Fred Thompson, Dwight Yoakam, and Jason Kennedy, 90 Minutes In Heaven is based on the inspiring New York Times best-selling book that has sold 7 million copies.  

About Giving Films:
Giving Films is passionate about sharing hope-filled movies and donating ALL of their profits to charities and ministries who serve those in need.  Beginning with their first film, 90 Minutes In Heaven, Giving Films is allowing all of us to be a part of making a difference.  Anytime you go to a Giving Films movie in theaters, visit and select which charities you want to receive the profits from your ticket.  Their charitable organizations are Christian Alliance for Orphans, Faith Bridge Foster Care, Hire Heroes USA, Hope International, LifeWater, Street Grace, and World Vision.  

About the book:
Paperback; 245 pages
Pastor Don Piper died January 18, 1989 when a semi-tractor truck crushed his car.  Declared dead by the first rescue workers to arrive on the scene, Don's body lay under a tarp for the next 90 minutes.  Don's soul, meanwhile, was experiencing love, joy, and life like he'd never known before.  Don was in Heaven.  

When another pastor's prayers helped bring Don back to life, he became a living miracle!  Yet this is one miracle Don wished never happened.  Heaven's bliss was replaced by excruciating pain and emotional turmoil.  With the support and prayers of his beloved Eva, their three kids, and friends near and far, Don clings to his faith in God and fights to regain a semblance of his previous life.  The Piper family's incredible true story of perseverance and overcoming the challenges of life - and death - will bring hope and encouragement to all who see it. 

I'm so excited that I get to give away a copy of the book 90 Minutes in Heaven to one lucky reader. Please enter using the Giveaway Tools form below and good luck!


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.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Nichole Nordeman's new CD - The Unmaking - Review & Giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the CD in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Nichole Nordeman just released her newest CD, The Unmaking. I can't tell you how excited I am. First of all, she's an incredible musician and her music touches my heart. It speaks to me where I am in my life and the interviews I've heard show how genuine and real she is. On the new CD, I can't stop listening to the song "Name." Be sure to check it out. Love the catchy tune and the words. I find myself humming and singing this song all the time. The entire album is terrific...but this is the one song that I love the most.

Be sure to check out Nichole's album and enter below for your chance to win! I respect Nichole Nordeman so much as an artist and a woman of faith. Her heart shines through her lyrics and I can't tell you how much I enjoy listening to her music. If you haven't heard her before, check out her YouTube VEVO Channel and let the music wash over you. 

About the new album The Unmaking:
"Before things in our lives can be resurrected and given new life, certain things must die.  Before beauty blooms in spring, roots must do the hard work under the hard frozen soil of winter.  Before you renovate and re-build, you tear down the parts of the structure that are weak or damaged or dangerous.  Before we make, we must unmake."  Nichole Nordeman 

About Nichole Nordeman:
Nichole Nordeman is a recording artist and songwriter for Sparrow/EMI CMG, with numerous number-one and top ten singles to her credit and cumulative CD sales of over one million.  A two-time Gospel Music Association winner for Female Vocalist of the Year, she has won a total of nine Dove Awards, including the best-selling album, Music Inspired by The Story.  Her best-known songs include "Holy", "Legacy", "Brave", "This Mystery", "Why", and "What If".  She lives with her family in Tulsa, OK.  

Enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. One lucky winner will receive their own copy of Nichole Nordeman's new CD The Unmaking.

One entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor (Propeller/Fly By 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.
Winner must reside in US or Canada.
Winner has 24 hours to respond to winning email or another winner will be chosen.
I wish everyone the best of luck. I hope whoever wins loves the CD as much as I do.

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.

Friday, August 07, 2015

TobyMac - This is not a Test CD Release

Disclosure: I was given a download of this CD in exchange for my post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Who likes TobyMac? Can I get a Woot Woot?!?! We are big TobyMac fans in this house and have seen TobyMac several times in concert. It's always amazing that the energy in the live shows comes through in the CDs. I had the opportunity to listen to the newest album, This is Not A Test, before it was released. (And if you preorder at iTunes, you'll get 4 bonus tracks.) Trust me - you're going to love it!

I found the album to be full of driving rhythms and both tunes and lyrics that stuck in my head. I would find myself humming parts of songs for days after listening to them. Certain refrains were in my head. I love it when good, solid, Christian music gets stuck in my head. I know that posibive message and influence helps keep me looking forward with hope. 

Not sure I can pick a favorite song off the album. Of course, I loved the title track, "This is not a Test." But "Backseat Driver" and "Beyond Me" were also often on my repeated playlist. My kids have other favorites off the album ("Like a Match" and "Lights Shine Bright"). My favorite moment was when we were listening to the CD on my phone on our way into church. Our youth pastor (and big fan) pops her head out of the youth room and says, "That sounds like TobyMac...but I don't know that song...and I know ALL his songs." She knew that his new album was coming and was so happy for my kids. They even sing some TobyMac during youth church services. 
Toby McKeehan(known professionally as TobyMac) is a husband, father, performer, songwriter, producer, and businessman.  Growing up in the northern Virginia suburbs adjacent to Washington D.C. helped instill his love for rap music.  While attending Liberty University during the mid 80s, Toby met Michael Tait and Kevin Max Smith and these three friends formed the Grammy winning, platinum selling group dc Talk.  Toby began his solo career in 1999 with his first solo album, Momentum, releasing in 2001.  Momentum has been followed by four additional studio albums, Welcome to Diverse City (2004), Portable Sounds (2007), Tonight (2010), and Eye On It (2012), along with his first live album, Alive and Transported (2008).  This Is Not A Test is his 6th studio album to be released.  Starting with dc Talk, and then going solo when the group disbanded, Toby still clings to such rootsy notions as hard work, persistence, patience, and - perhaps most relevant of all - the power of music, which he insists is still what keeps him going.  "It's the truth," he says.  "I still believe that a song can penetrate a heart.  I believe God can use a song to open someone's mind and heart."   

This Is Not A Test  (Deluxe Edition) Songs: 
1. Like a Match
2. Backseat Driver (featuring Hollyn & TRU)
3. This Is Not a Test (featuring Capital Kings)
4. Lights Shine Bright (featuring Hollyn)
5. Til the Day I Die (featuring NF)
6. Feel It (featuring Mr. Talkbox)
7. Move (Keep Walkin')
8. Love Broke Thru
9. Beyond Me
10. Love Feels Like (featuring dc Talk)
11. Undeniable
12. Lift You Up (featuring Ryan Stevenson)
13. Fall
14. Beyond Me (Phenomenon Remix)
15. Like a Match (Garcia's Remix) 

Make sure you keep up with TobyMac on social media. Click the links below in order to follow:

Be sure to enter TobyMac's Feel It Giveaway

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Putter's Pride in Denver Area #Review and #Discount

Disclosure: I was given free passes in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Putter's Pride is a fun-loving miniature golf haven in the big city. We were staying downtown in the concrete jungle of Denver when we discovered this little gem. You see, my family loves miniature golf. They thrive on it. They seem to instinctively understand where the 'sweet spot' will be to best hit the ball into the hole in minimal strokes. Meanwhile, I struggle just to make it through the front 9 before I quit. I do not find the sweet spot and I seldom feel like I have control when the ball goes in the hole. It's luck and a few prayers. 

But the rest of my family, the Fearsome Foursome, absolutely LOVES mini golf. So they thought Putter's Pride was a really fun treat. It has many of  the usual features of mini golf, but a few bonus items that really made their time even more fun. 

I think the second favorite hole was the dinosaur hole. I'm not sure the hole was so difficult as lining up this shot. (I mean camera shot, you know.) Keep reading to find out about the favorite hole. 

The kids (both the big kid and the little ones) had such a fun time that we decided to keep on golfing. They were having so much fun I had to talk them into pausing for lunch. 

Debating the best way to play the hole.

Nathan has a look of fierce determination.
He's going to make--that--shot!

The hardest course has the best 18th hole. It's an outhouse. You have to try to get the ball in the toilet bowl. Crazy funny. we couldn't stop laughing. And of course, I didn't get a good shot of it. Let me tell you it is worth the trip to see and play on the outhouse hole. It was our favorite hole at Putter's Pride. 

Overall, we had a terrific time at Putter's Pride and look forward to visiting the Denver area and this course again. Be sure to get your discount coupon which is good for birthday parties as well. Receive Buy 1 Round Get 1 Round FREE Or 20% Off Birthday parties. Can't beat a deal like that!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Challenger Sports - British Soccer Camp Week in Review

Disclosure: I was provided a free camper registration in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Rebekah had a busy week last week. She was so excited to get to particiapte in the Challenger Sports - British Soccer Camp. What a whirlwind week it was. Challenger brings in soccer coaches from England (we had two from London and one from Yorkshire) to coach the kids. Rebekah said she learned a lot about better dribbling and ball control/footwork. I noticed that having a different 'coach' gives her a different perspective and that these coaches focused on some different skills than her season coach.

To keep the kids motivated and having fun, they are put on a "World Cup Team" for the week. Rebekah was on the Cuban team (Go Cuba!) Different activities and homework gave the team points and at the end of camp, one team was awarded the World Cup Trophy. Last week, at our camp, France won. Congratulations to the French team from camp.

Monday they received their soccer balls (included with the cost of camp) and were told to decorate and bring every day.
Tuesday, Rebekah won for the most decorated ball.
Wednesday was "Wacky Wednesday" and they dressed crazy.
Wacky Wednesday
(Note she is wearing someone from our
home's boxer shorts...they were clean.)

Wacky Hair for Wacky Wednesday
More Wacky Wednesday Participants
For Thursday, they learned 3-4 fun facts about their country.
Friday, they brought their country's flag to camp. (Prizes for largest, smallest and most creative.)
PLUS - Friday is Fun Day Friday so they did lots of games during camp which culminated in a big water fight.

Water Fight Rules

Coaches get ready to take the 
first wave of water (poor things)

Coaches don't get mad...
they get even. LOL!
Here's my video of the water fight - I crack up everytime I watch it. Listen to Coach Katie scream as someone hits her with ICY cold water. 

Here's what I saw as a parent:
  • I had a child excited to go to soccer camp (when she's not always keen to go to soccer practice). 
  • I had a child with a soccer ball between her feet and who started practicing moves again each night. 
  • She is still doing drills almost every day. 
  • She had fun, got exercise and brushed up on her skills before fall ball starts.
  • She even learned some fun information about other countries and got to ask coaches from England about their home country. 
  • Did I mention how much fun she had? 
I wasn't sure if going through the Challenger Sports - British Soccer Camp was something that we would find valuable. It was so much more than just a skills camp. There was a lot of teamwork taught, integrity on and off the field reinforced, and they had fun while learning the skills. It is something she thoroughly enjoyed and looks forward to doing again next year. 

Notes from the coaches at the end of one of the days of camp. 

There are still camps available both in Omaha and around the country. Even some rual Nebraska towns will have camps in August. For more information and to register, please visit the Challenger Sports website. In various areas around the country, they also have fall and spring ball. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tom+Chee Omaha Location - Check out Summer Delights and #Giveaway

Disclaimer: I was given free samples and vouchers in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.

Who here loves Shark Tank? I know I do and our family watches regularly. So we were extra-excited when Tom+Chee (as seen on Shark Tank) opened a franchise in Omaha. Hubby and I couldn't wait to try it out and LOVED the food. But, I'll admit, as summer came along, we sort of dwindled on our visits because I think of the food as 'winter only'. After being invited to blog about Tom+Chee and attending the blogger tasting, I've learned how wrong I am! You can't believe how much summer fare is on the menu.

A few important things to note that really impressed me. 

  • There is no microwave, no freezer, and no fryer. Everything is made fresh.
  • KIDS NIGHT - Kids eat for 99 cents on Tuesday's after 4:00 p.m.
  • They have gluten free options, vegetarian choices and vegan options including vegan cheese. 
  • The pesto is nut-free. It's made from sunflower seeds so people with nut allergies can still enjoy. 

While I did eat main menu items, let's skip to dessert first. Have you tried the Strawberry Lemonade Donut? You will NOT regret it. The lemons are candied in house and the strawberries are fresh. The whipped cream is not fake and the combo with the grilled cheese donut is over the top. It is sweet enough to hit the spot, but is light and so flavorful that summer is the perfect time to experience it.

Strawberry Lemonade Donut
And I should not forget the donut that started it all, the Grilled Cheese Donut. I must admit that after trying the Strawberry Lemonade Donut, I wasn't sure I'd like the plain Grilled Cheese Donut. Let me tell you, the taste was out of this world. Yum, Yum, Yum!!!

Grilled Cheese Donut

For the sandwiches, we tried quite a few. The most popular is the Flying Pig which is roasted turkey, bacon, pickles, gouda on sourdough. Liked it a lot (and I normally pick pickles off everything). The pickles really rounded out the flavor explosion of this sandwich.

Flying Pig
Then came the Grilled Mac and Cheese with a sample of the Creamy Tomato Basil soup. Loved the sandwich and the soup was incredible. Later, I did try the Classic Tomato and the Chunky Tomato Basil soups. Liked the chunky a lot...although the Creamy Tomato Basil soup will be my favorite forever. The Classic Tomato soup is heart healthy and was a little more bland. I thought it would be great for my kids who don't want a 'flavor explosion' in their mouth. This was also a fun combo because the soup offsets the sandwich and I felt like it was a terrific summer duo. (I must admit that you HAVE to dip the sandwich in the soup, me.)

Grilled Mac and Cheese with Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

After trying all of these other sandwiches, we got to try out the Hippie Chee. It's a vegetarian option that can be made vegan if they use the vegan cheese (yes, they have vegan cheese). I didn't think I'd like it--not a big veggie fan. Knocked my socks off and this may be my new favorite sandwich. Since I was so busy eating it, I forgot to take a photo. Thanks to Lisa, from The Walking Tourists who allowed me to use her photo.
Hippie Chee

Then came out the salads. And I'm saying, "You have salads?" These salads are HUGE! I don't think you can get a sense of how big those platters were. And the dressings were really delicious. I may or may not have dipped one of my sandwiches in the dressing left at the bottom of my sample bowl to make sure I soaked up every, single drop.

Caprese Salad

Green Goat

Overall, I had a wonderful time getting to know the menu even better at Tom+Chee on West Maple in Omaha. I've always gotten the same items every time I have visited and it was so much fun to try things that might be out of my 'normal' choices. I found out some of my favorites really aren't my favorite. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to try the various items. I'm so happy to have a 'year round' dining place since I now know that there is so many summer offerings. I hope you'll enter my giveaway below and I have also listed the other bloggers in Omaha doing a Tom+Chee giveaway on their blogs.

My Tom+Chee Selfie

Please enter using the Giveaway Tools form below. And be sure to check out the additional giveaay links at the bottom of the post.

Must be able to travel to Omaha, NE in order to redeem.
Two winners will be chosen randomly from all entrants.
Only one winner per household/address.

The Omaha Bloggers at this Event
Thanks to my fellow Omaha Blogger friends who are also doing Tom+Chee Omaha giveways on their blogs. Be sure to hop over and enter!

The Walking Tourists

Oh My Omaha!


Bakes in Slippers

Happy Sammy

Making Mine

Sarah Eats Omaha

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Pizza Ranch Living Hope CD - Review and #Giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the Living Hope CD in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Have you been to Pizza Ranch? We are blessed to have several in Omaha and I found it interesting that as I was being selected for the Living Hope CD project, my daughter and her Bible-reading church friends were picking Pizza Ranch for their celebration lunch. They had no idea that I was trying to participate in this project and I had no idea that the three of them were picking Pizza Ranch. 

My daughter is reading "A Chapter a Day" in the Bible. By doing one chapter a day (M-F), she will read the entire New Testament in a year. She's completed this twice and is looking for a third year in a row. Every couple of months, our youth pastors take the kids who have read every day out for a special lunch. So last week, it was Pizza Ranch. When I asked why they picked that restaurant, one of the girls piped up and said, "Because they play Christian music there."

Interesting to me that our children pick up on things that seem so small or insignificant, but have Kingdom impact. I love that Pizza Ranch has taken a stand and plays uplifing music while we eat there. And from that interest in uplifting people comes the "Living Hope CD". Wait until you hear the music on this CD. It has been absolutely wonderful to listen to as we drive around town. We are learning the songs we didn't previously know and we all sing along together on the familiar songs. All of our favorite Christian artists have a song somewhere on this CD. It's amazing!

If you would like to hear from the artists of the album the reason for the songs and get a little more 'insider information' about the CD, be sure to check out the Pizza Ranch Music You Tube Channel. 

And as a very important side note, we have so many friends with autism who follow a gluten-free diet. That's how I found Pizza Ranch for the first time when they initially opened in Omaha. They offer Gluten Free menu items (that actually taste good). For anyone needing to follow a Gluten Free diet, Pizza Ranch allows you that flexibility in a restaurant.

About the Living Hope CD Project:
On June 2, 2015, Pizza Ranch released a CD called Living Hope containing twelve songs from many of their favorite Christian artists.  Most of the songs are brand-new and written exclusively for this CD around the theme of Hope.  Artists include Colton Dixon, Francesca Batistelli, Ellie Holcomb, Sidewalk Prophets, Kevin Max, Bart Millard, Passion Band featuring Kristian Stanfill, Michael W. Smith, and Mark Schultz.
The CD will be available to purchase for $5 plus tax exclusively in Pizza Ranch restaurants or for download at through August 31.
From Adrie Groeneweg, President & CEO of Pizza Ranch, Inc.:  "This album has a very special meaning for Pizza Ranch.  Although Pizza Ranch is not in the music business, many things have been happening, conversations have been taking place and doors have been opening for this album.  Through these events, I believe it was obvious that God has been behind this for His specific purpose and putting it on our hearts to collectively create this project.  As such, we call this our miracle album, Living Hope."
About Pizza Ranch:
Adrie Groeneweg had a dream that started in Hull, IA, in 1981, when he was just 19 years old.  It was simple.  Why does everyone have to drive out of town to get a pizza?  With just six specialty and single topping pizza recipes developed by Adrie's mother, Lorraine, Pizza Ranch was born.  Pizza Ranch's vision and mission is to glorify God by positively impacting the world and to give every guest a legendary experience.  They have 190+ locations across 13 states including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. 
The Giveaway:

I'm so excited that Pizza Ranch and Propeller Consulting have agreed to give one of my readers their own Living Hope CD. To enter, please read the rules and use the Giveaway Tools form below. Good luck!
  • 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.
  • Winner must reside in US or Canada. 

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.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

AMC Announces Expansion of Sensory Program #SensoryBlogHop

When I attended the Autism Society of Anerica National Convention, I was thrilled to hear from AMC Officials that they will be expanding their Sensory Friemdly Movie program later this year.

If you've never heard of the program, AMC was the first movie theater chain to launch "sensory friendly" film showings. Currently held on specific Saturday's at 10:00 am, the movie is shown without trailers, the lights are left up a little bit, and the sound is turned down. Wandering is allowed and while we are working to teach our kids when you can (and can't) talk in a theater, the atmosphere is more relaxed. Currently the program includes G or PG films. They are all geared at younger children. The next film will be August 22 when they will show "Underdogs." To see the titles and participating locations, click here for the listing.

But as the population with sensory needs is growing (and aging), AMC realizes they need to add to what they have. Coming this fall, there will be a second date added each month and they will be showing films that are gears towards a little big older audience and they will include some PG13 films in the series. Since my son with autism is now 13, I was thankful to hear this news. He's managaed to move from sensory friendly to a regular movie, but he has friends who still can't do it. I'm grateful to AMC for recognizing the need and expanding the program.

Did you know about the Sensory Friendly Films? And what do you think about the expansion?

Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop -- a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it's like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month's Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Did this just happen? #BlackDayBook and My Reality Check

Anyone else feel like the older you get, the more out of body 'surreal' moments you experience? I had one such experience tonight that still gives me goosebumps.

Let's go back to the beginning - 25 years ago. My BFF from high school was the first of all of us friends to be pregnant. We were all still in college so it was exciting to think we'd all have a little niece or nephew to dote on. (I know we're not related by blood, but you KNEW we were all going to be aunts to this baby.) Then comes the call--I have a beautiful baby boy named Marcus...pause...and he has Down syndrome. In that moment, all I could say was congrats--and it's going to be ok. Even though I didn't really know much about Down syndrome and we all knew many things were not ok.

Fast forward to the elementary years. There were some ups and downs along the way, but the boy who was obsessed with puppets and had every Disney movie memorized was starting to come out of his shell. He would repeat complicated passages from multiple movies and act them out. If you didn't spend much time around him, you probably had no idea what he was saying because it was garbled and almost impossible to understand unless you knew the movie he was parroting.

Then came the teen years where Marcus started creating stories - sometimes quite elaborate ones - where he would weave different favorite characters together into one place and one new story. Then he started assigning his friends and family parts in those crazy shows--that were always going to be musicals. So the @MarcusMusical twitter handle was born.

Marcus today.
Now fast forward to last night. Marcus is 25. Marcus still dreams up musicals and plays. He wrote a One Act play that I got to see performed. And today, for his birthday party, we celebrated the release of Marcus Sikora's first book, Black Day: The Monster Rock Band. And what I saw was an absolutely surreal, out of body moment in my life. My baby boy, the shy one who couldn't, then wouldn't talk, reading his part of the book that he authored. And we saw the preview for the DVD which is coming soon.

Marcus & Mardra Sikora reading the Black Day Book

The kids were enthralled.

Then I got to purchase my own real live copies. And I got them autographed. The boy that we prayed so hard for when he had open heart surgery as a baby, the one we walked the floor with as his first babysitters, the boy who so many people in society believed would never amount to anything is a pubished author signing his autograph. Be sure to head over to and get your copy. 

And a big shout out to Kitchen Sink Cookie Company for making the official monster cookie for Black Day. (They are delicious!)

Friday, July 17, 2015

Village at Copper Mountain Activity Pass Fun Times

Disclosure: I was provided free passes in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Have you ever tried to plan a vacation that appeals to an elementary aged, a middle school aged, a high schooler, adults and senior adults? Might I tell you up front--good luck! Good news for me, we booked a vacation at Copper Mountain in Colorado. We were able to stay in a condo at "The Villages." Our condo happened to be in East Village, but it's a 4 minute walk (or take the free shuttle) to Center Village where all the main action and attractions are located.

We got the summer activity passes (you can purchase daily passes for $49 or season passes for $109). My readers can save $10 off a daily pass or $20 off a season pass with this coupon. We used daily passes which gives unlimited lake activities (bumper boats and lake bikes), lift rides, Diggler, mini golf, equiptment hauling, and climbing wall. You also get 3 Bungee jumps (trampoline), 1 Zip Line, and 1 GoKart ride. There's more fun in a pass than you can imagine. And there was something for each one of the age brackets on our trip.

Zipline & Water Activities:

Almost all of us tried out the zipline. It goes over the (shallow) lake and the folks in the water boats may try to squirt you with water. But, thankfully, no matter how close they are, they can't reach you. Phew. The water boats and water bikes were a big hit. We managed to get there early on a couple of days and were able to spend almost an hour on the boats/bikes with nobody else in the water. When other familes would arrive, we would graciously give up our boats and move to the next activity. But the water activities were our go-to favorite at all times. 


A diggler is an all terrain scooter. The base is a little wider (more like a skateboard) and the wheels are thicker and can go over dirt as well as cememt. The younger kids loved riding these (although we saw many teens & adults on them, too). One quiet afternoon, Rebekah even got to race Ben--the man in charge of digglers. It was a strong race, but Rebekah prevailed. 

Bungee Jump:

The bungee jump was not what I expected. It is really a trampoline jump with bungees to help you go higher and be able to do acrobatics that you might not normally be able to do. It was a lot of fun and Rebekah's #1 favorite activity. She bounced as many times in a day as she could and she mastered the backflip. All three of my kids and dad & I did the bungee jump. Lots of fun!

Go Karts:

Copper Mountain boasts of having the only go kart track in Summit County. And what a fun track it is. With 7 minute rides, you can really get some racing in during a go kart race. We could be found at the track every day. Sean & I are go kart kids at heart so we made sure to use all of our kart passes. 

Rock Wall & Mini-Golf:

The rock wall looked like fun, but not one of us is truly a climber so we may have gotten a photo or two, but left the climbing to those with real skills. We did spend time on the golf course repeatedly. It's a fun little 18 hole course with some unique hazards and traps built in. We did a lot of laughing and made great memories on the links. 

Ski Lift and Center Village Open Air Park Area:

The ski lift runs year round in Center Village. The American Eagle lift is smooth and relaxing. It's about a 15 minute ride each way and when you reach the top, you can learn about the equiptment used on the mountain, stop for a bite to eat in the restaurant, or you can have your bike hauled up on the lift so you can take the amazing mountain bike trails down. Lots of choices. We went on the ride to catch the views and they were spectacular!

Ski Lift View
Ski Lift View of Center Village

"The Square" and playground in Center Village

All in all, our time spent at Copper Mountain made us feel like kings on top of the world. We look forward to returning soon for another relaxing mountain getaway. 

Related Posts with Thumbnails