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Category Archives: Reviews

Children’s Book Signing in Pittsburgh: Papa’s New Home


Book Review: Papa's New Home by Jessica Lynn Curtis

Papa’s New Home is the award-winning story of a young girl who loses her grandfather, Papa, only to get to see him again in a miraculous visit to his new home, heaven.

Book Review: Papa's New Home by Jessica Lynn Curtis

Here are a few of my favorite things about this book.
I like that the book not only mentions Jessie’s sadness and confusion about Papa’s death, but also her anger. I think that anger is an often overlooked stage of grief in regards to young children. While anger is only mentioned in one or two sentences I think that it’s enough to open up communication with a child who is experiencing anger in grief.
I like how Papa explains that bodies can get old, or sick, or hurt and stop working, but that our spirits never die.
I really like that Papa is portrayed as still looking the same age as when he passed. Many hold the belief that everyone in heaven is young, but I think that concept can be confusing for young kids.

Book Review: Papas New Home by Jessica Lynn Curtis

This book obviously contains spiritual elements with mentions of heaven, spirits, and angels. However, this is not a specifically Christian book as there is no mention of God or Jesus. This book would appeal to families of many different faiths. It paints a very vivid picture of Heaven beyond what is mentioned in Scripture depicting lost loved ones with jobs they enjoyed on earth (such as gardening) and living in houses with beloved pets and eating chocolate cake with relatives.

Book Review: Papa's New Home by Jessica Lynn Curtis

The story is beautiful and the lovely illustrations definitely help portray a feeling of peace. For the right child it could be a powerful tool to help with the loss of a grandparent.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area you can meet the author of Papa’s New Home, Jessica Lynn Curtis, at a book reading and signing this Saturday!

Book Signing: Papa's New Home by Jessica Lynn Curtis

BOOK READING AND SIGNING EVENT
Meet author Jessica Lynn Curtis, who will be reading and signing
copies of her Mom’s Choice, award winning title, PAPA’S NEW HOME!
Saturday July 26, 2014 11:15AM
The University Store on Fifth
4000 Fifth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Click here for directions or more information
(Book can be purchased at the University Store on Fifth)

Buy Papa’s New Home on Amazon!

You can also like the book on Facebook and follow Jessica on Twitter (@JessieLynn817!

*Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. If you purchase through one of these links I may receive a small amount of money. I was not compensated for this review, all opinions are my own.


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Product Review: Blackout EZ Window Cover


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We’ve been very blessed that we have little difficulty getting the children to sleep at night. We usually begin our bedtime routine (potty, pajamas, brush teeth, books, songs, sleep) around 6:30-6:45PM and both kids are asleep by 7:30PM most nights (often sooner!).

Then there’s summer with all of the sun and all of the brightness going on until nearly 9PM. So last year I began my search for the best window covers to block out the most light so that we could continue with our glorious early bedtime routine. Well, I found them
Blackout EZ Window Cover!

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Seriously, if you need to block the light coming from a window these are the window covers that you need!

In the following video I sing the praises of the Blackout EZ Window Cover and I demonstrate just how dark the room is with them installed. (Watch on YouTube)

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We love these window covers so much that we have them in ALL of the bedrooms…including ours! My husband works shifts, so when he works midnight and sleeps the next day, the Blackout EZ Window Cover keeps the room really dark so that he can get the best quality sleep.

Not only does the Blackout EZ Window Cover block out all of the light, but it has many other great features that make it the best window cover on the market.

*It’s super easy to install!
All you need is a tape measure and scissors! (And you don’t really NEED the tape measure either)
No drill, screwdrivers, or other tools needed!

*It installs with your current window treatments already in place!
You don’t need to remove your curtains or blinds to install!
*It’s well made!
Don’t ask me how, the fabric is practically indestructible but cuts easily with scissors.
*They look great!
No ugly blanket or funky shades, from the outside all you see is white, which is in compliance with most Home Owner’s Associations. (Scroll down for photo)
*Easy to clean.
In over a year I haven’t needed to clean them, but if I do you just wipe them down…unlike blinds and shades which are horrible to clean.
*Total privacy
The cover blocks out everything, unlike blinds, no one can see anything inside.

If you can’t watch the video right now here a few photos showing the level of light in the room before and after the covers were installed. To see what the room looks like with the lights off you’re going to have to watch the video because, well, the photos would just be black, so…

WINDOW 1
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WINDOW 2
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WINDOW 3
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View of WINDOW 1 from the outside
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Disclaimer: I found, purchased, and reviewed this product on my own. I did NOT receive anything for free, I was NOT compensated in anyway for this review, and I was NOT asked to do this review. All opinions expressed are my own. I just really think this is a great product!

If you have the time, watch this great demonstration video from the inventor of Blackout EZ Window Covers himself. He shows you how to install the covers on 3 different windows.
(Watch on YouTube)

Blackout EZ Window Covers are available for purchase on their website: www.blackoutez.com.
You can follow Blackout EZ Window Covers on Twitter (@BlackoutEZ), Pinterest, and like them on Facebook as well.

If you found this review helpful please leave a comment here or on YouTube, “thumbs up” the video on YouTube, and feel free to like, pin, tweet, and otherwise share this review! Thanks!

Do your kids have trouble sleeping while it’s still bright out?
How do you keep your rooms dark for sleep? Let me know in the comments!

Fun in a dark room!
Shadow Puppets (Links)
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Family Movie Night: Change of Plans Movie Review


Does your family have a movie night tradition? There’s something special about purposefully setting aside time to watch a movie as a family. Turn off the lights, pop some popcorn, put the sleeping bag on the floor, and enjoy each other.

Family Movie Night is back! Change of Plans starring Brooke White, Joe Flanigan and Phylicia Rashad will air this Saturday January 8th 8/7c on FOX as the fourth movie in Wal-Mart and P&G’s “Family Movie Night” series. The first three “Family Movie Night” movies were Secrets of the Mountain, The Jensen Project and A Walk in My Shoes.

As a BuzzBlogger for www.teambuzzplant.com I was provided a link to watch Change of Plans online in advance in order to give you a review. First read the synopsis from their website below:

Up to this point, Sally Danville’s life has played out just as she hoped it would. A beautiful and free-spirited musician, she and her fighter-pilot husband, Jason, live life on the go, free of domestic responsibilities. But with a single phone call from Child & Family Services case worker, Dorothy (Phylicia Rashad, The Cosby Show), she learns that things don’t always go according to plan. Sally (Brooke White, American Idol) is met with the news that her best friend from college has died in a tragic accident on a Peace Corps mission and has named Sally the legal guardian of her four kids – 3 of them adopted from third-world countries. Now Sally and Jason (Joe Flanigan, Stargate Atlantis) must quickly learn to parent this instant family and help the kids deal with the culture clash of life in America. The story is both humorous and heartwarming, revealing how fulfilling life can be when you look beyond your own plans and invest in the lives of others.

Sally and Jason have a happy marriage but their lives are full of travel and prior commitments. Their house is full of musical and electronic equipment and computers…overall not very kid friendly. Sally is sweet, but scatter brained and admits that she doesn’t know how to cook. Their lives are turned upside down when they’re faced with the challenge of parenting four newly orphaned children. The oldest daughter is a biological child and the other three children were adopted from Guatemala, China, and Uganda. The children and their parents had been living in Uganda prior to the accident which adds another element of change and transition for the children. The children have many obstacles to overcome, grieving the deaths of their parents, moving to a new country with a new school, and adapting to life in a new home with new parents. Sally and Jason have to adjust as well and you can really see their priorities change as they begin to open their hearts to these children who need them.

I really enjoyed this movie. It was sweet and heartwarming. It tackled a difficult subject without the whole movie being incredibly sad. Brook White and Joe Flanigan were adorable together as the couple Sally and Jason. Phylicia Rashad was terrific (as usual) but her part is rather small 😦 My only complaint is that the movie is too short. I would’ve liked to have seen even more but I understand that not everyone wants to watch a 2 (or 3, or 4) hour-long movie like I would…certainly not when you’re watching with children 😉

On the family friendly aspect the movie definitely delivers. There isn’t a bad word, questionable scene, or scantily clad body in the film (THANK YOU). I hope that you can have a Family Movie Night this Saturday and watch Change of Plans with your family. Be sure to stop back and let me know what you thought of the movie.

Click here to watch the trailer and to enter for a chance to win an HDTV, a portable DVD player, or copies of the DVD/soundtrack.

Show the networks that we want family friendly programming by supporting this movie and others like it. Spread the word, you can use the “Share” buttons at the bottom of this post.

***As a BuzzBlogger for www.teambuzzplant.com I was provided a link to watch the Change of Plans online in advance. My opinion of the movie is my own and was not influenced by the early screening of the film. I’m passionate about quality family friendly programming for children and their parents and would like to see such shows succeed in hopes that similar programs will be available in the future.

Movie Review: Homeless for the Holidays


**As a BuzzBlogger for www.teambuzzplant.com I was given the opportunity to review the movie Homeless for the Holidays. This is the first product/movie review that I’ve ever written, so I hope I do this correctly!

Homeless for the Holidays is a story about Jack Baker a busy executive who doesn’t have enough time for his family. Jack is very blessed and has a nice lifestyle but he isn’t at all generous. He loses his job but remains loyal to his former company believing that they’ll hire him back. Eventually Jack is forced to accept a low-paying and humiliating job to try to support his family. This film is based on the real life experiences of writer/director/producer, George A. Johnson.

Throughout this movie I saw the effects that unemployment has on a marriage and a family. The Baker family’s experiences are very real and it’s easy to relate to their situation. Despite the fact that Jack begins as an unlikable character I was able to quickly empathize with him and his family and hope for a happy ending. At the beginning of the film I wanted to smack Jack and by the end of it I was crying. I especially liked how the Baker family came together and formed a closer bond through their hardship. The Baker children express the very real truth that what kids really value is love and attention from their family. As the film progresses and the characters evolve I saw much kindness, generosity, and a true spirit of giving. It’s a timely reminder as we approach this season that often times is so commercial and promotes a spirit of greediness.

Despite the film’s subject matter it wasn’t depressing like I originally thought it might be. There are quite a few humorous moments throughout the film. Even without the humor the examples of kindness displayed later in the film more than make up for any “darker” moments there might be. You will certainly walk away from this movie encouraged (I know I did…and a little inspired too!). A Christian message is present in this film as God and church are mentioned throughout. This film does not have a strong (if any) salvation or gospel message and that is not the purpose of the film. In contrast to the negative attitudes that are displayed earlier in the film it also contains examples of Biblical virtues such as patience, kindness, and generosity. I also saw loyalty, hard work, and perseverance.

The acting in the film was okay. It wasn’t wonderful but it wasn’t terrible. It was on the level of many movies that I’ve seen on The Hallmark Channel during Christmas. It was superior to many other Christian films that I’ve seen.

The back of the DVD case said that the DVD features include Deleted Scenes, Production Diary, Auditions Highlight Reel, Scene Index, and Commentary with Writer/Director/Producer, however, the features were not included on my copy of the DVD so I am unable to comment on them. There were outtakes that played during the credits and while they were entertaining I was a little unprepared for them as I was still crying processing the positive message that the film left me with. If you plan on using this film as an aid to teach others about giving or to simply inspire and encourage the spirit of giving within them…you might want to turn off the DVD before the outtakes begin so that the message isn’t lost.

I really liked Homeless for the Holidays and I’m certain we’re going to add this to our collection of Christmas films to watch each year. This movie fit in great with my blog purpose in that it showed a family having fun together and creating new traditions in the simplest way during the most difficult of times. This movie is a great tool for teaching children about giving and caring for others. Homeless for the Holidays is such a good reminder to be thankful for what we have, to give God the glory in all things, and that we always have the ability to be generous and giving to others despite our financial situation.

If you would like to purchase the movie Homeless for the Holidays or learn more about the film visit the website www.homelessfortheholidaysmovie.com

Homeless for the Holidays was awarded 5 out of 5 Doves Seals by the Dove Foundation.

**As a BuzzBlogger for www.teambuzzplant.com I was given a free copy of the DVD “Homeless for the Holidays” to watch and review. I was not asked or obligated to write a positive review. All thoughts and opinions I’ve written regarding this film are my own and were not influenced by receiving the product for free.

Wordful Wednesday: The Flight of the Midnight Moth


 
At midnight I went into my bathroom. I turned on the light and was immediately startled by a large bug fairly close to the light switch. I did a little gasp and small jump backward and then realized it was only a moth. I said aloud to myself, “Oh, it’s just a moth…you scared me for a second there.” (or something like that). As I was going into the cabinet to get something I thought, “Was that a moth?”. Despite my minuscule fear that it might be some other more fearsome insect that wanted to eat me or lay eggs in my ear (and despite the fact that you and I both know how these situations always end) I decided to turn around and lean forward ever-so-slightly for a closer quick look. At that exact moment the moth took flight. I let out a squeal and started jumping and shaking out my shirt and smacking my hair around sitcom-style for fear that it was “on” me somewhere.  

For the most part I’m not afraid of bugs (though I don’t particularly like them either thankyouverymuch) and I have absolutely no fear of moths…but that doesn’t mean that I want one on me. And I wouldn’t mind having one on me if it was by choice and I had invited said moth to rest lightly on my finger. However, this particular moth was just a little more aggressive in his introduction than I am comfortable with considering the “getting all up in my personal space” thing it just did. I don’t even want my husband touching me without asking first (sorry, dude. Love you!). Had Mr. Moth not scared the crap outta me (twice) I normally would’ve asked him his name, invited him to stay, and then written a poem about him. Maybe he’ll think of that next time he is contemplating scaring the bejeesus out of a poor, unsuspecting housewife (who ought to be in bed rather than blogging about moths at midnight).  
  
 

While leaving the bathroom I noticed that he was hanging out on the shower curtain. I don’t believe that he ever did touch me, but the erratic flight pattern was enough to freak me out (don’t you hate how moths fly?!). So, like any good blogger would I went to get my camera so that you would have a visual of this harmless yet altogether terrifying moth that has nothing better to do at midnight than to fly in the faces of innocent women.

This is the spot where Mr. Moth was originally.

And here he is…
 

 

Ew. I think you can see the flash glimmering in his little mothy eyeball. So creepy.

Okay. So I ended up writing a poem anyway. Enjoy.
 
The Flight of the Midnight Moth
We could have been friends, you and I
But instead you decided to fly

Without warning too close to my face
Made me jump all over the place
Some of us are moth-friendly folks
Who like hearing moth knock-knock jokes
And would be quite happy to
Become Facebook friends with you
So next time please think before flying
And sending some poor lady crying
The whole thing makes me quite sad
When I consider what we could’ve had

 

 

This post is linked to Wordful Wednesday

You can check out my Wordless Wednesday post here.

 

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