Holiday Shopping – iPad Mini and iPad Air 2 Accessories

Hey iPad users!  Need some extras for your iPads this Christmas?  Here are a few of the essential accessories for the iPad2 and the iPad mini. Create your own unique style with beautiful cases and functional accessories. The units will be easier to use with a keyboard and having a portable power supply is a must. 



Gumdrop Cases Bounce Skin for iPad Air

Gumdrop Cases Bounce Skin for iPad Air

These beautiful cases for the iPad2 come in a variety of colors and styles. They will add a unique look to any iPad2.  This looks like it would provide a good amount of protection, too…a MUST with my kids. 


Gumdrop Cases – Bounce Skin for iPad Air-Pink by Gumdrop Cases – $34.95, 5.00 shipping – Available at Gumdrop Cases

i-Blason Apple iPad Air 2 Case for Kids

i-Blason Apple iPad Air 2 Case for Kids

This fashionable carry case has an easy to hold handle and a stand that allows for a number of positions. Who doesn’t love pink!


i-Blason – iPad Air 2 Case – i-Blason Apple iPad Air 2 Case for Kids [ArmorBox Kido Series] Light Weight Super Protection Convertable Stand Cover for iPad Air 2nd Generation 2014 Release (iPad Air 2, Pink) – $9.99, 4.98 shipping – Available at Marketplace

Aukey Multi Ports USB Charging Station Wall Charger

Aukey Multi Ports USB Charging Station Wall Charger

iHome Swivel Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad mini

iHome Swivel Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad mini

This Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad mini allows portability and function in one useful accessory.


iHome – Type Series: Type Swivel Bluetooth Keyboard Case for iPad mini, Black – $49.99, 6.95 shipping – Available at

Otterbox Defender Carrying Case iPad mini

Otterbox Defender Carrying Case iPad mini

Otterbox is one of the best names in cases. This case will keep your iPad safe and sound without a need to worry about damaging that precious cargo.


Otterbox – Defender Carrying Case Holster for iPad mini – Black (Drop Resistant, Bump Resistant, Shock Resistant, Scratch Resistant, Dust Resistant, Debris Resistant – Silicone) – $69.99, 10.95 shipping – Available at Cabelas

Apple – iPad mini 7.9″ 16 GB Wi-Fi White Tablet (iOS 6.0, LCD Touchscreen, 1024×768, 10 Hours)

Apple - iPad mini 7.9

And of course, if you don’t have the iPad itself, it’s available for purchase as well.  Great gift idea!!


Apple – iPad mini 7.9″ 16 GB Wi-Fi White Tablet (iOS 6.0, LCD Touchscreen, 1024×768, 10 Hours) – $249.00, Free shipping – Available at B&H Photo-Video

(7 reviews)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links provided by Postpresso.

Their Name Is Today by Johann Christoph Arnold – Giveaway!


TheirNameIsTodayDespite a perfect storm of hostile forces that threaten to deny children a healthy, happy childhood, courageous parents and teachers can turn the tide.  Yes, we can reclaim childhood, says Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books have helped more than a million readers through the challenges of education and family life.  In Their Name is Today, he highlights drastic changes in the way our society treats children.  But he also brings together the voices of dedicated parents and educators who are finding creative ways to give children the time and space they need to grow.  Cutting through the noise of conflicting opinions, Arnold takes us to the heart of education and parenting by defending every child’s right to the joy and wonder of childhood.


What a great book.  It keeps things very real, but also provides REAL hope in the futures that we can provide our children, and in the moments now that we have with our children.  There is so much sound advice in this book – advice that I will take to heart and apply to my own children.

The author’s story about Berto the monkey and the family having to leave him behind touched me and taught me a great lesson – and that’s how the entire book is written.  Personal stories, personal experiences, whether his own or those he knows, intertwined with messages intended to improve our lives.

This is a book I’ll refer back to often.  I’m so glad I had the chance to read it!


More about the author, Johann Christoph Arnold:

People have come to expect sound advice from Johann Christoph Arnold, an award-winning author with over 1.3 million copies of his books in print in more than 20 languages.4ef3c31d326e0a82390a00.L._V357127432_SX200_

A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, and end-of-life issues, Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities. With his wife, Verena, he has counseled thousands of individuals and families over the last forty years. His books include Their Name Is Today, Why Forgive?, Rich in Years, Seeking Peace, Cries from the Heart, Be Not Afraid, and Why Children Matter.

Now, thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC, I am able to offer my awesome readers a chance to win a copy for yourself!  Are you looking for advice to help your children reclaim childhood?  Are you looking for ideas and ways to lower your children’s stress load?  If so, enter below; this book just may be what you’re looking for!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Budgeting – The Basics

Okay, so most of us are familiar with the term “budget.”  If it’s something that is fairly new to you, let me give a very simple overview and explanation:

What Exactly is a Budget?  The Basics:A good builder uses a set of building plans to build a house. If he didn’t, the kitchen might get overlooked completely.  That’s how important a plan is.

Yet most of us handle our finances without any plan at all.

Not very clever of us, is it?

Without a money plan, we will travel on our financial sea without a direction and end up shipwrecked on the island of financial grief.

A money plan is called a budget.  A budget is the ultimate financial management tool and it is crucial for us if we are to get to our desired financial goals.  Budgeting is simply having a plan or guideline showing how your money will be allocated or spent during a particular period.  I usually build my budget for a month’s time, although you can certainly do it for a week instead, if that works for you.

The main objective of budgeting is to produce a spending list that is equal to or less than your income.  Being aware of how you spend money is the most critical step in financial freedom.  Budgeting is one of the hardest financial disciplines to keep (not the actual making of the budget; that’s fairly easy to do. It’s sticking to the budget that is difficult)!  And that’s okay. It’s a work in progress, after all.

The best way to make a budget that you can stick to in the long term is to make it realistic. Never (and I repeat never) make it a financial starvation plan. Instead make reasonable allocations for all your necessities, entertainment and savings as well as the occasional luxury item.

Why should you even bother with budgeting?

You will be shocked at ‘non-necessaries’ you spend money on.  If we can get control of the expenses that really don’t matter in the grand scheme of our lives, we can enjoy financial freedom eventually.  And that is what we all want, isn’t it?



Menu Plan and Weekly Goals Oct 27 – Nov 2

So, I skipped a couple of weeks of menu planning.  Not very organized, but hey, I’m keeping it real.

I gotta be honest with everyone.



I can’t keep up with anything, and I’m getting more and more stressed out. This whole 65 miles every day JUST to get my son to and from school is rough.  It’s what you do when you have a special needs child, though.

And you want to know something?  This whole having to eat 6 times a day, but not being allowed to eat soy, dairy, gluten,  sweeteners, canned/frozen/juiced fruits/veggies, processed anything, shellfish, table salt, etc is getting old.  REALLY OLD.  If I was seeing better results, I might feel more motivated.  I couldn’t think of what to make for dinner before when I could eat all that stuff, and when I only ate 3x a day!  Holy cow, it’s a production just to make a snack:  buy some dry beans, cook them for 8 hours to soften, then dry and roast for an hour to make them crisp again.  Yay, I have one snack!  Ugh.

Ah, well.  I s’pose that’s why I need to MAKE time to menu plan.  Right?  Geez, one day.  One day I’ll have my head screwed on straight.  I’ll be sure to let you know when it happens, so you can watch out your window for all of the flying pigs.

Sorry.  I’m ranting, and I hate when I do that.  It does feel better to have it out, though.  I know I’m blessed, and I know I’m lucky.  I’m just having a day.  Forgive me.  I’ll get to the meal plan:



  • Whole grain toast (for the kids)

  • Cereal (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit (for all of us)

  • Steel Cut Oatmeal

  • Home canned applesauce


  • Leftovers (for me)

  • Whole grain bread (for the kids)

  • Fresh fruit and fresh veggies (for all of us)

  • Greens chews (for the kids)

  • Turkey bacon (for the kids)

  • String Cheese (for the kids)


Steak and Potato StewDinners:

  • Monday – Leftover chicken and roasted potatoes

  • Tuesday – Mexican Style Brown Rice, Homemade Refried Beans (adapted so I can have them)

  • Wednesday – Roasted Potato Soup (from Monday’s leftover potatoes)

  • Thursday – Leftover Night

  • Friday -Roasted Turkey, Carrots, Lettuce Salad

  • Saturday -Steak and Potato Stew

  • Sunday – Brown Rice and Homemade Turkey Gravy (made with home canned chicken broth and leftover turkey)


The goals for the week:

  1. Start new HIIT Training program designed by my doctor just for me (so I guess there is some benefit to these weekly dr appointments!)

  2. Finalize Halloween costumes for the kids.

  3. Go to church Trunk Or Treat on Tuesday.

  4. Wednesday:  NBA Jazz game (we got free tickets)

  5. Go over final budget numbers for October.


Noah – A Wordless Picture Book by Mark Lundy – Review

indexA hundred years before the Great Flood, a man named Noah came home talking crazy. God wanted him to build the biggest ship the world had ever seen. The future of humanity depended on it. How would his wife respond? What would the neighbors think? Was it even feasible? This lavish re-imagining of one of the greatest stories of all time will fascinate children and adults alike. Nuanced and playful, yet meticulous in following the biblical narrative, Mark Ludy’s world-class art digs deeper than the Sunday-school tale of cuddly animals, exploring Noah’s relationship with his family, the natural world, God–and a formidable engineering challenge. Immerse yourself in this stunning wordless epic. Whatever your age, you’ll never read this story in the same way again.

Mark Ludy’s world-class artwork lets people see, as though for the first time, the beauty within this story – revealing a clearer picture of the nature and character of God and his relationship to humankind. It’s immersive and epic in scale and scope. The wordless format invites conversation and storytelling, key building blocks of literacy. And as with his previous books, Ludy’s signature mouse Squeakers appears hidden on every page.


My Thoughts:

Wow – the above description is exactly right.  This is a full picture book, without any words.  The pictures in this book are incredible.  The lack of words simply provides the reader with more opportunities to discuss and “feel” the story.  My son and I both really enjoyed talking about the scenes as they appeared before us, and it was a lovely experience to be able to answer questions he had – questions he probably would not have had if we’d simply read the story from the Bible.  Having the bright and beautiful visuals encouraged discussion, and simply made the story more real for my kids.  The joy that you can see on Noah’s face after the flood has gone down is just so….ALIVE!

I’m giving Noah by Mark Ludy 5 stars.  I absolutely LOVE it, and will cherish it with my children for many years!

Seasons of Grace Sweepstakes and Giveaway!

3dbookIn bestselling author Lauraine Snelling’s new novel, To Everything A Season, the tight-knit town of Blessing, North Dakota faces change and challenge at every turn.

In the middle of the maelstrom is young Trygve Knutson. He’s devoted to his family and his community, but he sometimes dreams of other horizons–especially since meeting Miriam Hastings.

Miriam is in Blessing with one goal: to complete her training as a nurse, and get back to Chicago to support her siblings and her ailing mother.  But the town of Blessing has a way of drawing in the most reluctant visitor, and soon Miriam’s attachment to Trygve and his family has her questioning her entire future.

To celebrate the release of this heart-warming novel, Bethany House and author Lauraine Snelling are pleased to present the SEASONS OF GRACE Sweepstakes. This sweepstakes features three special prizes, each closely connected to the book:  One prize to sweep you back into history, one prize to enable you to give to someone else, and one prize to help you celebrate a little of the story’s romance, in your own home.



This giveaway starts October 14, 2014 and ends November 3, 2014 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Tuesday November 4, 2014, and announced at  See how to enter below!  Check out these fantastic prizes:




In To Everything A Season, new visitors, old friends, and important supplies are transported to town on these rails, and the arrival platform is a place of warm greetings and new beginnings.

Our Grand Prize winner will have the chance to experience some of the same warmth and excitement with an authentic taste of the golden age of railroad travel:

A $200 value Scenic Steam Train Ride for Two (Location and dates available nationwide and will be specific to the winner’s state).




In the story, the inventive Ingeborg Bjorklund is well-known for her cooking, bread baking, and cheese making, and now she’s pondering another new idea to help her hometown: a delivery service!

Like the hard-working people in Blessing, many of our friends and family members carry heavy workloads and health burdens, and could use a helping hand and a comforting meal.

While we may not be able to deliver Ingeborg’s cooking, our Second Prize winner will win the next best thing, to be used for themselves, or as a gift to brighten the day of a friend facing chemo, a military spouse, a lonely senior citizen, or other worthy recipient:

$175 meal delivery gift card for – Provide a full Thanksgiving meal for 6, or an extended selection of meals for 1 or 2. Gluten free, low sodium, and dialysis-friendly meals available.




The peaceful farming community of Blessing faces an unexpected threat when robbers target banks and businesses in towns nearby. As the town comes together to find a solution to the thieving problem, Ingeborg notices another kind of stealing going on: the new nurse in town, Miriam Hastings, has completely stolen the heart of her nephew, Trygve.

Soon Trygve and the dark-haired nurse with the sad eyes are regulars at the Blessing Soda Shop, sharing thoughts and dreams over Rebecca Valders’ famous fizzy concoctions.

Our Third Prize winner can share their own thoughts and dreams, and enjoy a taste of Blessing’s Soda Shop at home, with the Steal Away Date Night Pack.

This $100 value package includes: The UnGame Couples Edition, the Soda Stream Fountain Jet Home Soda Starter Kit, and the Homemade Soda Recipe Book.

How to Enter:

Go HERE and complete the entry box, anytime between October 14 and November 3.


Good luck!!

Update on our Dental Journey!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for LISTERINE. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.


Laying down as the dental sedation meds start to kick in.

Laying down as the dental sedation medication starts to kick in.

So, a couple of weeks ago I told you about my son’s horrible dental experience, and about how costly and stressful it was.  Never again!  I’ve been scared into action, ha ha!  I got much more serious about my family’s dental health, and decided I needed to try new ideas and tools for making the teeth brushing (and flossing) more successful in our home.

At the same time, I was invited to review some products from LISTERINE.  Oh my goodness, the timing was perfect!  Heaven sent, in my opinion.  The kids were excited to see a package of samples in the mail, and I tried to capitalize on that and keep them excited and motivated to work on their oral care routines.


I figured since I’m being honest about our dental woes, I should be a good girl and follow up – let you know how things are going:

  • The LISTERINE ULTRACLEAN ACCESS FLOSSER definitely makes flossing easier for my boy.  He’s still not always excited to floss, but since I’m forcing the issue, he’s doing it.  He can get the back teeth much better now.  He still prefers to use regular-style floss for the front bottom teeth.  I had tried mini flossers in the past, but this LISTERINE FLOSSER has a much longer handle, so it helps him reach better.

  • I have tried the GENTLE GUM CARE FLOSS.  It’s not at all what I expected!  The floss is actually made out of thread or something, so it has a “cloth” feel to it.  I was initially concerned that it would be harder to fit into my tight teeth ( I never had braces, okay?), because it seems so thick.  It didn’t really prove to be a problem.  My sensitive gums seem okay with it.  I’m still bleeding, but not in as many spots, so I’m hoping it’s due to this floss.

  • Munchkin and I have both been using the POCKETPAKS BREATH STRIP, and holy cow!  That is some powerful stuff.  We were excited when we learned that these strips not only freshen your breath, they also kill 99% of the germs that cause bad breath.  I believe it, man!  They are SO strong, and we get a kick out of watching each other after we take one:  our eyes water, and we always make some sort of vocal sound (oooo-eee! or something similar).  I actually took one this morning in the car, and my son in the back seat could tell.  He wanted to know where the mint was.  Seriously, powerful stuff right here. :)

  • I got a medicine measure cup (you know those 2 Tbsp size cups) and wrote each of my kids’ initials on one.  They now have their own mini cups they can use to pour the mouthwash.  Buddy Boy, as expected, won’t even try the mint flavored one, but LISTERINE has another flavor option, thank goodness!  He’s loving the Bubble Gum flavor, and is willing to take it daily.

Some things we’ve got to keep working on:

  1. Buddy Boy doesn’t swish the mouthwash for nearly long enough.  I’ve told him he can sing his ABCs or count to 20 in his head while it’s in his mouth, and we’ll see if it helps.  So far so good.

  2. I’m finding that Munchkin wants to delay brushing her teeth before school, and then just use the POCKETPAKS BREATH STRIPS.  She feels that since it kills germs, why not?  Uh, nope.  I’ve gotta stay on top of that one.

  3. I’ve got to start using the mouthwash consistently.  I’m SO BAD about it!  Bad mom, bad.

    Gentle Gum Care Floss

    Gentle Gum Care Floss


Overall, I feel like we’re making progress, and I’m definitely grateful to have the new stuff to help.  Sometimes with my kids, using “bells and whistles” really makes a difference.  In this case, it’s definitely paying off, and if it’ll save me $500 worth of dental work in 6 months, it will be more than worth it!


I’ve been following the LISTERINE YouTube page for the last couple of weeks as well, and it’s got me wanting to do a better job all around regarding my children’s health.  With the health problems I was experiencing over the summer, and seeing the turn around that I’m seeing, I’ve felt more strongly than ever that I HAVE to put healthy habits at the top of the priority list.  My kids are probably not thrilled, but I’ve been serving more vegetables at every meal.  Do they happily eat them all?  No.  But I’m exposing them, and I do make them at least sample the food.  I find that having a veggie option I know they’ll eat, along with an additional option, works best for me.  I’ll have to share in another post all of the things I’ve started doing, and you can decide which options may work for you, if you are interested in doing so.  I want to be a Healthy Hero! :)



The Martian by Andy Weir – Book Review

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

unnamedAfter a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?


My Thoughts:

Okay, I’ve gotta be honest. My very first impression upon opening the book and reading the first few pages:  Wow, I’m not impressed. The author is inserting profanities like a drunken sailor here.  Strong profanities.  In the first 3 sentences, the “F-bomb” is dropped twice.  I will never see the need for that, because I’m pretty sure there are other ways one can get their point across. What can I say? I’m not a lover of strong profanity.

That was my first impression. As I read on, I became more impressed with the writing.  There are still more curse words than I could count, but once I was into the STORY, I was able to focus more on that.  Andy Weir is a talented author, there’s no doubt about that.  The character, Mark Watney, is a very likable one…he’s got a biting sense of humor and loves sarcasm.  He is witty and intelligent, and I definitely found myself rooting for him.  I figured I would have a good idea about how it would end, because at first it’s written in the first-person.  However, it later switches to the third-person, and there are definitely a lot of hints that have you guessing.  Once I was able to look past the language, I really enjoyed the book – had a hard time putting it down, in fact! I even had a dream the night I finished it – a dream that I can definitely tell you was based on my high level of emotional investment while reading.

Really well-written novel!  Engaging and entertaining.  I could easily see this being made into a movie.  I’m giving it 4 stars.  I really liked it. If I hadn’t had a problem with the strong language, I would have given it 5 stars.


I received The Martian by Andy Weir book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Looking for a Super Hero Costume?

Super Hero movies dominated the cinema market over the past few years, so it’s only right people like to dress up as them. You’ll find many of your favorite costumes available this Halloween but the tough choice is deciding which one to choose.

I confess, I’m a bit of a grinch when it comes to Halloween.  I just can’t bring myself to work so hard to dress up…so buying a pre-made costume might come in handy for me!

Rubie’s Costume Company has a lot of adult super hero costume options:

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Deluxe Mens Muscle Adult Dark Knight Batman Costume R888630-M

Rubie's Costume Co. - Deluxe Mens Muscle Adult Dark Knight Batman Costume R888630-M

Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire by day and a vigilant by night. This Batman costume is sure to be a fan favorite without breaking the bank. With it’s signature mask and cape you can’t lose.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Deluxe Mens Muscle Adult Dark Knight Batman Costume R888630-M – $35.91, 5.90 shipping – Available at WholesaleHalloweenCostume


Rubie’s Costume Co. – Womens Catwoman Grand Heritage Costume R887212-M

Rubie's Costume Co. - Womens Catwoman Grand Heritage Costume R887212-M

This classic 60’s Catwoman costume is sure to get the attention it deserves. The jumpsuit and gold necklace adds a purrrfect touch to everybody’s favorite cat burglar.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Womens Catwoman Grand Heritage Costume R887212-M – $98.91, 5.90 shipping – Available at WholesaleHalloweenCostume


Rubie’s Costume Co. – Batman Arkham City Harley Quinn Sexy Costume R880586-M

Rubie's Costume Co. - Batman Arkham City Harley Quinn Sexy Costume R880586-M

This Harley Quinn costume is sexy and sleek. The corset vest, gloves and choker adds to the ensemble. Find a friend to dress up as the Joker for the perfect costume combination.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Batman Arkham City Harley Quinn Sexy Costume R880586-M – $53.91, 5.90 shipping – Available at WholesaleHalloweenCostume


Rubie’s Costume Co. – Grand Heritage Superman Costume

Rubie's Costume Co. - Grand Heritage Superman Costume

The Man of Steel is always a popular costume for super hero fanatics. The signature red cape and logo on the chest gives this costume a updated feel to a classic costume.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Grand Heritage Superman Costume – $225.33 (38% off), 6.45 shipping – Available at


Rubie’s Costume Co. – Wonder Woman Corset Costume Red Women X-Small

Rubie's Costume Co. - Wonder Woman Corset Costume Red Women X-Small

If you’re looking to WOW super hero fans this Halloween, then this Wonder Woman costume is the way to go. The sexy red corset, silver gauntlets, and blue skirt will make any woman feel like they have super powers for the night.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Wonder Woman Corset Costume Red Women X-Small – $78.99, See Site shipping – Available at


Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links provided by Postpresso.