Friday, August 22, 2014

Children's Book Review: The Icky, Sticky Tea Party By Anne M. Jenks


By: Anne M. Jenks

Illustrated by: Gaston Hauviller

Published: May 23, 2014

Publisher: Laredo Publishing

Anne Jenks is back with another children's book on a helpful topic.  I previously reviewed BITSY BEAR that dealt with the topic of stranger danger. To see my review of BITSY BEAR, click HERE.

In THE ICKY, STICKY TEA PARTY, Jenny and Cindy are stuck inside with a babysitter. The babysitter is too busy texting and Cindy is too busy playing video games to have a tea party with her younger sister, Jenny.  Jenny decides to have a tea party with her dolls and their dog, Moose.  Jenny ends up using her icky medicine for the tea and the babysitter and Cindy soon find out what a problem that will cause.  The whole family learns a valuable lesson on medication safety.

The story includes a real-life situation with well-created illustrations to share a fun and important message on safety. Even the youngest child will appreciate the pictures and understand that someone in the story ends up very sick.  The information is shared in a concise and appropriate level for younger children along with a helpful guide at the end of the book for parents. The guide includes safety tips on medications as well as other creams, lotions, and household products that can also be harmful to your child.

This story is a great way to have this discussion with your child without it being just a lecture.  They will remember the story of Cindy, Jenny and their dog, Moose and the importance of medication safety.

As a side note, Anne is a high school classmate of mine (there was only 30 of us) and I am honored to tell all of you about her books. I purchased this book on my own and hope that you will do the same!

Anne M. Jenks 
Anne M Jenks grew up in a loving family in NE Iowa and was the oldest of four children. Being a big sister makes you aware of the safety of your younger siblings. Whether it's because you care so deeply about your brothers and sisters or because you just don't want to get in trouble from Mom and Dad, this awareness of younger children's safety becomes a part of you.

After graduating from University of Iowa with a doctorate of pharmacy, Jenks started working as a retail pharmacist. Implementing the three E's in her books is a key focus. Jenks's purpose in writing is to engage, entertain, and educate her audience.

To purchase a copy of THE ICKY, STICKY TEA PARTY, click the photo below:

I will be linking up with other bloggers on Saturday as part of Booking Mama's Kid Konnection. Be sure to click over to see other great children's book reviews. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DIY Porch Board

If I can make a board like this, then you can too. 
I am not crafty what so ever. 
It certainly isn't perfect, but I did it and I think it adds to our front porch.

I first saw these boards at a farmer's market in Omaha in May.

They were heavy and we had walked there from our hotel, 
so I didn't have a way to get one back to our room.
Also, they were pricey.

I thought, I could make one of these.
Then my mom said, "Your father can get you the board."
So, my dad got me this great board all cut and sanded.  
The board is 11 inches wide x 4 feet long and is 1 1/2 inches thick.
It is a heavy, solid board and would be too heavy as a wall hanging. 

I painted the board with 3 coats of the Black Acrylic Paint on all sides.

Then I chose the Gold Metallic Paint for the letters. 

I got the paint at Michael's Craft Store.

I also got the stencils at Michael's. I chose 8 inch stencils.
Since I needed 6 letters, I had to shorten the 
"R", "K" and "W" just a half an inch to fit the letters on.
Not ideal, but the next size letters I could find were too small
for the look I wanted. 

You have to be extra careful when working with stencils. 
The paint bled through underneath the stencil, 
so I had to repaint the black over top of the gold in a few spots.

I also found some decorative stencils 
to place in the corners to add some definition. 

I finally sprayed it with Lacquer 
to finish it and waterproof the paint.
It doesn't get really wet on our front step when it rains, 
but I still wanted it protected.

Again, I'm really happy with how it turned out.
I have thought about painting the other side 
with a different color and word, 
but I want to see how this holds up this fall and winter first. 

My dad won't tell me how much the board cost him, 
but the paint was minimal. 
I think I spent under $15 and probably about 4 hours of my time, 
even though it took me all summer!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: The Life List By Lori Nelson Spielman


By: Lori Nelson Spielman

Published: July 2, 2013

Publisher: Bantam


When I was 39 I created a "bucket list" of forty items that I wanted to complete by the time I turned forty. The things I wanted to accomplish at forty are much different than the things I would have dreamed of accomplishing as a teenager.  In THE LIFE LIST, Brett must complete a list that she wrote as a teenager, but she is now an adult. A list with items such fall in love, have a baby, buy a horse, be an awesome teacher, and perform live on stage seem impossible because she has to complete these items in a year. Some of these items would change the course of her who future. Brett's mother has passed away, and for Brett to receive her inheritance, she must complete this Life List. Brett assumes, after her mother's death that she will take over as CEO of Bohlinger Cosmetics, marry her current live-in boyfriend and live happily ever after.  But, her mother clearly has different plans for her.  Through this list, Brett is able to continue to have conversations with her mother through letters her mother has left behind. These letters open doors to Brett that she thought were closed a long time ago.

Brett must first come to terms with the fact that her inheritance is tied to this list.  She must have regular meetings with the lawyer that has the job of monitoring her progress. On top of grieving for her mother, she must try to understand her mother's motive for all of this.  Finally, she must decide how to tell her boyfriend, Andrew, that she a list to complete that could change their entire future.

Brett's struggles, frustrations and emotions are real and easy to empathize with. The dialogue moves you through the story quickly and you can't wait to see how Brett accomplishes each of the items on the list.  There will be laughter and tears as you travel through the pages. You will be reminded to live each day of your life to the fullest.

This is a really wonderful story of a mother's love for her child and a daughter's love for her mother. It reminds us to take chances, stay young, and live our dreams. Maybe the life we really want is the one we dreamed of as a teenager, but life just gets in the way.  Take a couple days out of your schedule and read Lori Nelson Spielman's debut novel, THE LIFE LIST.  I hope another book is on her Life List.

Lori Nelson Spielman - source
A former speech pathologist and guidance counselor, Lori Nelson Spielman currently works as a homebound teacher for inner-city students. She enjoys fitness running, traveling, and reading, though writing is her true passion. She and her husband spend their winters cursing the god-awful Michigan weather, and their summers sailing the glorious shores of Lake Michigan.  For more, visit her website, You can also find her on Facebook, HERE and Twitter, HERE

If you'd like to purchase THE LIFE LIST, click the photo below:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Back-to-School Teacher Emergency Kit

Last Thursday was our Back-to-School Open House night and today is our First Day of School.  I wanted to put together something special for Reagan's fourth grade teacher.  She has been the fourth grade teacher for all three of our kids, which I think is pretty neat.  

I have seen various versions of Teacher Emergency Kits on Pinterest and decided to make up one of my own.  Since I am not very crafty, I used a label from THIS SITE.  There are so many great ideas on Pinterest for letting your child's teacher know how much you appreciate him or her. I am looking forward spoiling Mrs. Kimm this year.  She deserves it! To see some of the great gift ideas I have pinned, click HERE

First I got a big 11x13 pencil box from Target during our school shopping. 
Then I attached the label to it. 
Again, I used a free printable thanks to CRAFTING CHICKS.   

I filled it with all kinds of things that I thought 
I would want to have on hand in my desk drawer.
I wanted to include things for days when she maybe 
had to miss breakfast or maybe even lunch. 
Things for days when she needed a bit more caffeine. 
Things for days when a mishap happened. 
Things to boost her energy or her spirits.    

The items I included in the kit:
Chocolate, gum, breath mints, lip balm, dental floss, quarters, 
Tide-to-Go, K-Cups of Coffee, and Crystal Light drops for her water

Yogurt covered blueberries, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, scentsy pods, 
and oatmeal (Nature Valley has new oatmeal packets that are made in Keurig machines.)

I asked one of the other teachers what some of Mrs Kimm's favorites things were 
so I could make it a bit more personal for her.  
I found out she loves coffee, chocolate, mint gum, 
and has a Scentsy Pot in her room.  That made it easy for me to fill up the box.  

We gave the Emergency Kit to her on open house night 
and I think she was quite surprised.  
I hope it comes in handy over the next 180 days of school! 

I also wanted to share this great blog post about teachers and why we should buy that bigger package of EXPO Markers while doing our school shopping.  Click HERE to read it. 

I work at the school and I personally know how much time, effort, and money teachers put into their jobs.  Please take a moment to write a note, share a gift card, or personally thank a teacher today! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Snippets 8.17.14

I have been looking for a way to share snippets from our family life here in Iowa.  I used to post Scenes From Our Week every Sunday, but posting every Sunday became difficult.  Then, this summer I tried High Five Friday, posting five things we were excited about. But, I didn't want to be tied to a number of things and I didn't really like them on Fridays.  

So, I am back to Sundays, with just snippets, glimpses from our week or the past weeks or month. Whenever I have something to share.  It might be one thing or ten.  It might be every Sunday or just one Sunday in a month.  Life is busy, but I want to share and reminisce, just not be tied to a specific timeline or number of items.

I am hoping to make this a button (if I can figure it out) and you are welcome to join me in sharing snippets from your life. 

From our past week:

On Tuesday, I met up with my niece and her three kids at the Iowa Children's Museum in Coralville. She lives in NE Iowa so it was quite a drive for them, but so worth it. The kids had a blast and we were exhausted by the time we headed home.  I had such a great time catching up with my niece and watching the kids play.  Thanks for the great idea, Kenan!

Aubrey's ice cream cone was almost as big as her head! I also got the opportunity to take her shopping for her birthday. We went to Children's Place and she had fun picking out just what she wanted. 

Henry could have stayed in their airplane room all day long. He loved the flight simulators and flying the planes. He did not want to leave. 

Reagan and Ella also had fun together. They are only two months apart in age, but don't get to see each other very often. They also enjoyed flying the planes as well as playing in the pizza restaurant and grocery store. 

If you have children 10 and under, I highly recommend you visit the Iowa Children's Museum. Block off a day and spend time really playing with your kids! They have a hosptial/dental area, grocery store, restaurant, music room, drama area, art room, post office and bank, the airplane room and so much more. When the boys were little we went to a Children's Museum in nearly every city we visited and I think ours is one of the best. 

Our Back-to-School Open House was this week.  School starts TOMORROW.  Where did summer go? It always goes by too fast.  Every year I wish we had more time.  But, it is over and another school year is beginning.  We have a freshman, an 8th grader, and a 4th grader. We will keep busy with cross country meets, marching band competitions, football games, and basketball games in the coming weeks and months. 
Reagan all ready for 4th Grade
I hope you have many snippets of joy in your upcoming week! Thanks for sharing in mine!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Steak Sauce Review

I have been reviewing products for BEST CHOICE Brands.  I compare their product to a similar name brand product and offer my opinion on which one is better. They will then be posting my reviews on their site and when they appear, I will share them with you here.  You can always see reviews of the Best Choice products by myself and other mom bloggers, by clicking HERE

I am always so excited to open up the box and see what I am reviewing next.   In our area, we can find Best Choice products at Alco stores and smaller independent grocery stores. Stay tuned for more product reviews from Best Choice. I think you may be surprised by our results.

This summer was the perfect opportunity for us to taste test A1 Steak Sauce and Best Choice Steak Sauce. My husband fired up the grill, we invited a friend over, and we all had a great time tasting the different sauces.  Click HERE to see which Steak Sauce won in our taste test.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Review: Paperboy By Vince Vawter


By: Vince Vawter

Published: May 14, 2013

Publisher: Delacorte Books 

Fiction - Middle Grade/YA

I was drawn to this story because it tells of a young boy and his struggles with stuttering. Both of our teenage boys stutter. The author himself stuttered as a child and wrote this story from his childhood experiences growing up.  Vawter has since learned to overcome his struggles with speech and has worked in the newspaper business for many years. PAPERBOY is his first novel and I hope there are more to come. His way of writing for young people is enjoyable for adults as much as the kids.

The main character is an eleven-year-old boy who takes over his best friend's paper route while he goes to the farm for a few weeks in the summer of 1959 in Memphis. He narrates the story, much like the narrator in the movie "Stand By Me". He has an arm that can throw the meanest fastball in town, so he knows throwing the paper won't be a problem. But, as he begins his paper route, he realizes that for the next four Fridays, he will have to approach the people on his route to collect the money. He will have to speak to them and the problem with that is, he stutters. He can't even say his own name without passing out from holding his breath.

Through the paper route, we are introduced to other characters who turn out to be critical to the telling of the story. Mrs. Worthington's sad cries and beauty will forever haunt the boy. Mr. Spiro's wisdom, patience, and house full of books could be just enough to bring him through his stuttering.  Ara T's looming presence and secret shed just might put him in danger. Finally, Mam, his family's black housekeeper, gets in trouble and he might be the only one who can save her.  Lil' Man, as Mam calls him, will have to make a choice and confront one of his biggest fears over this hot Memphis summer.

Through this story, we see Lil' Man grow up and gain confidence in just four short weeks. We see how some adults ignore him and kids make fun of him. We also meet others who treat him like the great kid he is. We are privy to his thoughts and the words he wishes he could say, but instead stays silent. Beyond PAPERBOY being a coming-of-age story, it also reminds us that we can all overcome the things that scare us most.

PAPERBOY is great for kids in upper elementary as well as adults who grew up in the early 1960's. I know I will be sharing it with our boys who will be able to identify with Lil' Man and his fears, struggles, and frustrations.  If teachers out there would like to share this with their classroom, there is an educator's guide available for download, HERE.

Vince Vawter - source
Vince Vawter has admitted PAPERBOY is part memoir and part fictional story. As a boy who stuttered, he learned to overcome enough to have a successful career in the newspaper business. He currently lives in Tennessee with his wife.  For more on the author, visit his website, You can also find him on Twitter, HERE and Facebook, HERE.

If you would like to purchase PAPERBOY, click the photo below:

I'll be linking up with Booking Mama and other bloggers for this week's Kid Konnection on Saturday. Check out Kid Konnection for other book reviews and posts related to Children's and YA books.