KidloLand App Review and Giveaway

*I was given a free subscription to this App in order to review it for my readers.  All opinions are my own*

We don’t do a ton of screen time at our house, especially playing on the iPad.  The screen time the kids do have is closely monitored, both quality and quantity.  We keep track of how much they get during the week with popsicle sticks….one stick equals one show or 20 minutes of iPad time, and they get 10 sticks for the entire week.

As for quality, I’m picky.  My basic feeling about apps is that, in this day and age, there is absolutely no reason why they can’t be engaging and entertaining while still being educational.  Just like TV shows, if I don’t feel like my kid is walking away a smarter or better person, the app is a waste of time and brain space…what I call junk.  And unfortunately, there are a lot of junky apps and tv shows out there that contribute nothing of value to my children.

However, I’ve found a new app that thoroughly entertains Lincoln {and even Millie}, while teaching him some basic toddler concepts.  It’s called KidloLand.KidloLand Toddler App: A review and giveaway #toddlerapp #giveaway #ad @KidloLandWhen I opened the app for the first time, I was amazed at the main menu….so many options that cover all the pre-school concepts {numbers, letters, shapes, colors, animals, vehicles, phonics, nursery rhymes, etc.}.  And in each section of the menu, there are on average 10 different activities or stories to do.  Many with more!KidloLand Toddler App: A review and giveaway #toddlerapp #giveaway #ad @KidloLandAll of the activities are interactive, so even while a song or story is playing, the images on the screen can be tapped and manipulated.  Although some of the overlapping sounds and music are a bit much {for this mama’s ears anyway}, Lincoln loves the interaction.  For this kid who doesn’t get much touch-pad experience, it’s a fantastic app for cause and effect and basic tapping/dragging skills.KidloLand Toddler App: A review and giveaway #toddlerapp #giveaway #ad @KidloLandAnd while KidloLand is perfect for a toddler because of the songs and simple games, my 5 year old also has taken a liking to it after watching her brother play.  She prefers to “read” one of the 20 brand new stories, all with interactive characters.  I like the option of the narrator reading to her, so she can follow along with the words as she reads.  It also makes a great bedtime incentive….it’s amazing how fast teeth can get brushed when the bedtime story is literally an interactive book from the “Bedtime Stories” category.KidloLand Toddler App: A review and giveaway #toddlerapp #giveaway #ad @KidloLandMillie and Lincoln also use the app to practice their sharing skills. The “Games” and “Activities” categories flow from one right into another, and have varying difficulty.  This makes it easy for the kids to share, as Lincoln likes the “Tap-Tap” games and Millie likes the “Connect-the-Dots.”  It’s nice seeing them working together and taking turns.

Lincoln’s favorite game to play is “Chomping Monsters” in the Games category.  He has to click and drag puzzle pieces to complete a piece of fruit.  Then he has to drag the fruit into the monster’s mouth.  And of course the monster makes all sorts of chompy noises which makes Lincoln laugh.  I like that he is solving multi-piece puzzles and learning to identify new fruits….like guava and fig.KidloLand Toddler App: A review and giveaway #toddlerapp #giveaway #ad @KidloLandAlthough there is a limited free version of KidloLand, we are really enjoying the subscription with access to everything.  Categories like Vehicles, Fruits & Vegetables, Dinos, Animal Kingdom, Nursery Rhymes, Months & Days, Christmas Songs and Colors & Shapes provide more than enough new material to keep these kiddos entertained.  And because it doesn’t need wi-fi {just a lot of storage, which you can manage in Settings}, it will be a great entertainer in the car as well!

Today, I’m giving away FIVE winners a three-month subscription to this awesome app {a $39.99 value}.  The giveaway ends on Friday at midnight, so don’t miss out!  There are a ton of ways that you can win a 3-month subscription to KidloLand….check it out!

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If you want to bypass the giveaway and just download it now, here are the links you need to get it!

iOS (KidloLand) :

Google Play Store (Nursery Rhymes For Kids):

Amazon Appstore (KidloLand)

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‘Serafina and the Twisted Staff’ Review and Giveaway

*I received these books and promotional materials free of charge,  for review purposes on this blog. No other monetary compensation has been received or implied for this post.  All views are 100% my own.*Serafina and the Twisted Staff book review and GIVEAWAY for pre-tween girls @DisneyHyperion @BeattyAuthor #Serafina #win #giveaway #ad #kidlit #tweens #booksforgirls A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a couple of friends online begging for recommendations for books for pre-tween girls.  You heard me.  Girls who are NOT yet tweens, but still love to read.  Because I’ve got one.  Just to brag on my kid for a minute, but Jayna could read fluently when she was 3, reading chapter books by 4, and Nancy Drew by 5.  Before you start judging me, NO, I don’t think Nancy Drew is really appropriate for five-year olds…too many kidnappings, possible ghosts, and lost clocks.  You know, the stuff five-year-old nightmares are made of.  She started out reading Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, which is geared for younger elementary kids, and then she “graduated” to the classics without me realizing it, after stumbling upon my childhood stash while “cleaning.”

Needless to say, she breezed through the rest of the ND series, Magic Treehouses, A to Z Mysteries, Little House on the Prairie, Wizard of Oz, Alice and Wonderland, and any other chapter books she could get her paws on.  I was running out of “appropriate” books for her very quickly.  Even the Christian chapter book section at the library was no good, as most of the books on her reading level {middle school} dealt with coming-of age/puberty stories about girls.  First of all, I’m not quite ready for her to learn about some of that stuff {especially if she isn’t hearing it from me!}, and I just don’t feel like she needs to read about middle school/high school girl problems.  Plus, she is really into the thriller/mystery set.

Anyway, one of my friends online suggested Serafina and the Black Cloak.  It got rave reviews online, and the only issues that people had was the possible intensity level for the lower age range that it’s recommended for {8-12 years old}.  So, we decided to give it a try.  But, because I’m the resourceful blogger I am, I reached out to their Public Relations staff, and not only did they send me that book, but they also sent me an advance copy of the sequel, Serafina and the Twisted Staff, not to mention posters, bookmarks, tattoos, notebooks, pens, and pins.  Jayna opened the package and immediately gathered up everything and retreated to the little library we’ve created under the fort in our playroom.Serafina and the Twisted Staff book review for pre-tween girls @DisneyHyperion @BeattyAuthor #Serafina #win #giveaway #ad #kidlit #tweens #booksforgirls Two days later, she emerged.  Just kidding, but really.  It took her a whopping two days to read both books, and she had her nose in them every second she could, adequately ignoring everything else that was going on around her.

So I thought I’d let Jayna give you her thoughts on the books.  Can’t get a more honest review than from a 7 year old, right?

Serafina and the Black Cloak AND Serafina and the Twisted Staff
{Disney Hyperion}
Author: Robert Beatty
Ages: 8-12 yrs

A review in her own words, by Jayna {age 7}

What are the books about?
 Serafina and her Pa live in the basement of The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in the 1800’s.  He is the maintenance man, and she is the Chief Rat Catcher.   In the first book {Seraphina and the Black Cloak}, Serafina becomes friends with Braeden, the Vanderbilt’s nephew, when they discover a strange man in a black cloak….and notice rich children from the estate disappearing.  In the second book {Serafina and the Twisted Staff}, Serafina and Braeden team up again when they realize that the animals on the Biltmore property are being controlled by someone, and attacking people.

What did you find interesting about the books? I had never heard of a catamount before, and the idea of Serafina being part cougar was really cool.  I also liked reading about the different rooms in the Biltmore house.  Someday I want my mom to take me there so I can see some of the secret entries and fancy rooms that were in the stories.

What were some of the scariest parts of the books?  In Serafina and the Black Cloak, the man in the black cloak…he was the villian… covered the children with his cape and they disappeared.  When I was reading that part, I was in bed and I had to take a little break and hide under my covers for a minute.  I wasn’t too scared, it just creeped me out.  But then I kept reading because I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.  I knew it would have a happy ending.

In Serafina and the Twisted Staff, I was a little scared during the part where they found all the animals in the graveyard, but I kept reading.

What did you think of Serafina’s character?  I think she was really brave to fight the bad guys and protect other kids that she didn’t even know.  She has a little bit of a temper, and gets into fights easily though…she needs to work on that.  But I guess it’s good that she stands up for herself.

Would you recommend these books to other kids your age?  Sure!  Even boys would like them because they have some fighting and magic in it.  They might be too scary for kids under um, 6, though.  But if they can handle Nancy Drew books, they probably would love Seraphina.  It’s like, the same level of mystery as Nancy Drew, but a little more intense since there is magic and some fighting.  And the whole book’s setting is creepy….Nancy Drew just has  little scary parts here and there.

Did you enjoy reading these books? Oh yeah!  They were awesome!  I read them so fast because they were so good.  I’ll probably read them a million times.  Or maybe a thousand.  Or maybe I’ll let Caroline borrow them, because she likes mysteries too.  I can’t wait until the next one comes out….maybe they’ll make a movie of them!!

Serafina and the Twisted Staff book review for pre-tween girls @DisneyHyperion @BeattyAuthor #Serafina #win #giveaway #ad #kidlit #tweens #booksforgirls

So there you have it.

The Serafina books were a hit with the kid.  After reading them, Jayna and her friend Caroline {who hadn’t even read them yet} acted out the stories while playing.  I don’t even have time to read my email, let alone an entire book, but I did glance through the ending of the Twisted Staff, and I was completely hooked.  I ended up reading the last five or six chapters with zero awareness to what was going on around me.  And I did catch this quote toward the end of the book, which just confirms my feeling that Serafina might be a good role model after all…

“She remembered being so frustrated by her limitations, by what she could and couldn’t do at that particular point in her life.  She realized now that her life wasn’t just about who she was, but about who she would become.”

And now for the good part.  THE GIVEAWAY!

Ends on Friday!  Good luck!

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Mark your calendars for a Serafina event near you…including meeting the author at Y’all Fest in Charleston on November 12!

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As always, all opinions in the post are 100% my own.*

Sunday Scripture: A Mama’s Prayer

Dear Lord,

Please keep your arms around my children as they settle into their school routine.  Help them to hear your voice in everything that they do.  Remind them to be kind, helpful, and respectful to all.  Encourage them to be good role models, and to rise above peer pressure and temptation.  Sunday Scripture: A Mama's Prayer #faith #children #backtoschool #SundayScriptureReassure them when they make mistakes, and whisper reminders to me to be forgiving as well.  Thank you for your unconditional love!

In Your Holy Name, Amen.

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{Sunday Scripture image found on Along For the Ride}

First Day of School Jitters

Whelp, here’s the obligatory “First Day of School” post.  As if you didn’t see enough of my kiddos on Instagram and Facebook this week!  The past few weeks have been a blur of busyness, school shopping, and sibling nit-picking.  Pretty typical for the end of summer in most houses, I’d like to think.

But now, the school year has officially started, and all three are in new classes and new schools.

Jayna and Millie started 2nd and Kindergarten at a brand new school up the street.  It was a little dicey whether it would open on time, but we had Meet the Teacher on Sunday afternoon and the kids were ready to roll on Monday morning.First Day of School 2016They hyped up the new school opening with a balloon arch, a “photo op” backdrop, and their own hashtag!  The girls were more than happy to pose with their best friends while we waited for the doors to open for the first day of school.Rockstars on the First Day of SchoolI was a little nervous about Millie’s transition to “Big School,” especially since it was a completely new environment {she had at least visited Jayna’s old school a few times}.  And the school itself was only about 80% done by the first day of school…safe for kids, but not as inviting as an established building with cubbies and colorful bulletin boards.  But I know it will get there, and I’m just happy the school opened on time!!The First Day of School (and Kindergarten!)Millie’s teacher, Ms. Miller, is a veteran teacher, and happens to be married to one of the developers of the new development where the new school is located.  So she’s familiar with the plan for the new community, and felt like she was meant to find a home in the new school too.  She seemed truly excited for the school year, and I found it endearing that she still gets choked up meeting her new little ones even after teaching for 20-some years!First Day of School and 2nd gradeAgain, it might be just because the school barely opened in time, but Jayna is in a Big Kid classroom this year.  No carpet squares.  No colorful calendar for Circle Time.  Real desks instead of tables.  Jayna’s teacher, Ms. Cushman, transferred over from our old school, but we don’t know anyone that had her….so it’s a blank slate!  Jayna is thrilled to have a neighborhood friend in class with her, and can’t wait for Reading and Writing time {surprise, surprise….}.First Day of School in the Two Year Old ClassLincoln had his Meet the Teacher on Monday, after his big sisters went to school.  My little guy had no problems acclimating, making fast friends with another handsome blondie, and mastering the peg puzzles that were out on the floor.  He was ecstatic about the dress-up clothes, which should please Dave because there were waaaaaay more Firefighter/Doctor/Superhero outfits than Princesses!  And I am thrilled that his teachers, Ms. Lianne and Ms. Christy, are friends of mine from when Jayna was a baby at CDC too!I took the traditional “before school” picture, that I have taken with all the kids each each they start CDC.  And I managed to dig up the girls’ pictures from their first day of the 2-year old class.  It’s fun to see them when they are all the same age!It's always reassuring to get a mid-day pic of a smiling kid on the First Day of School! #teacherwinI have to say, as a parent with a Little at school for the first time, it was so reassuring to get a {SMILING!!!} picture in the middle of the day.  Linc barely kissed me goodbye at drop-off before he ran over to join friends.  And when I picked him up, he didn’t want to leave!  He even told me in the car that he was going to “take a nap and THEN go to ‘cool again!”.  Needless to say, I think they ALL are going to have a fantastic school year!

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Sunday Scripture: A-Z Prayers for the School Year

I have three kids in school this year.  My seven-year old, starting 2nd grade, is pumped for the school year and feeling very confident.  My four-will-be-five-a-week-after-school-starts kindergartener is a bit nervous about starting “big school.”  And my two-year old has no clue that he’s about to start preschool, but his mama has mixed feelings about letting her littlest go.

Prayers needed.

So, I found this awesome website that has specific A-Z prayers for the school year, in a printable version.  So I thought I’d share with you some of the prayers I will be focusing on this week, as my three head on to their adventures in school.The kids are back in need some prayers for the school year! #printables #SundayScripture #faith #backtoschoolI love these printables from Arabah Joy .  She prints them out and puts them around her house, so she  remembers to pray throughout the day.The kids are back in need some prayers for the school year! #printables #SundayScripture #faith #backtoschoolThe kids are back in need some prayers for the school year! #printables #SundayScripture #faith #backtoschoolThe kids are back in need some prayers for the school year! #printables #SundayScripture #faith #backtoschoolThe kids are back in need some prayers for the school year! #printables #SundayScripture #faith #backtoschoolI know all three of my kids are going to be just fine and have a fantastic school year.  And hopefully, yours will too!

Have a blessed week!
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Upcycled Sock Donuts

When my best friend Betsy came to visit for a week with her three little girls….we realized that our last names meshed together sounded like the word “raccoon.”  So, being the cheesy, crafty mamas that we are…we decided to call our little yearly get-togethers “Camp Rakuhn.”  And every year, we do a couple of  crafts late at night {just us mamas}, and a couple of crafts with the kids.

So this year, one of the crafts we did with the kids was Upcycled Sock Donuts.  Sounds a little gross, but it ended up being an adorable little project that got rid of some lonely socks and kept the kids entertained for hours!Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksAnd it was literally the easiest project I’ve ever done.  All you need is a sock, a little felt, and some puffy paint.  Cut the toe off of the sock, and start rolling outward toward the top of the sock.Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksUpcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksWhen you get to the top, fold the elastic part over the top of your donut, then flip it over.  This is important, because when you glue the felt icing on, it will secure the sock into the donut shape, so the kids can’t unroll it.Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksI let the older kids cut up their felt squares into icing for the donuts.  You can’t really mess it up, since the icing is supposed to be dripping off the donut.  They did need a little help cutting the hole in the middle though.Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksThen comes the fun part….Puffy Paint!  After creating my entire 4th grade wardrobe out of oversized sweatshirts and puffy paint, I can honestly say I never thought I’d buy another tube of neon orange…Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksBut puffy paint sprinkles are perfect for 6 kids under seven to do…all. by. themselves.  Because the globbier, the better.  The puffier, the prettier.  Not to mention it makes the sprinkles much more lifelike!Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksObviously, an adult needs to do the hot-gluing of the felt “icing” onto the sock “donut.”  If you can, glue the felt over the edge of the sock, so it doesn’t come unrolled.Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksThen, you are done!  The kids will play “bakery” for hours!

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Sunday Scripture: Teachers

It’s hard to believe we are already at the last week of summer.  All of my teacher friends head back to work tomorrow, setting up their classrooms and attending trainings to prepare for the school year.  As a former teacher, I remember the mixed feelings I always got at this time of the year.  Brand new school supplies and a fresh start got my Type-A personality all excited, but I also mourned the end of summer and stressed out about the x factor of the personalities of my incoming students.

So my Sunday Scripture today is from 1 Peter 5:2.  Let’s take a moment and pray for the teachers and faculty of our schools.  After all, they will be shepherding our children for 6-8 hours a day.  Give them patience, wisdom and kindness to deal with everything they have to deal with every day. {Bless!}Sunday Scripture: Teachers #backtoschool #SundayScripture #teachers #prayerHave a blessed week!
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Weekend Wedding in Atlanta

Last month, we went to one of Dave’s cousins’ wedding in Atlanta.  We had a blast….and took ALOT of pictures.  I’ve been editing every night trying to get this post out to you!  Dave comes from a HUGE family, most of whom live in the Atlanta area.  So when his cousin Abby got married, we packed up our clown car and headed west.

We don’t get to see everyone very often, but Dave has a bunch of cousins that are our age, and then all of our kids, who are about the same age as well.  It’s amazing how kids who haven’t seen each other in years {or ever!} can pick up immediately and become best friends…at least for the weekend!The girl cousins pose before the wedding in Atlanta!We started the weekend hanging out with the family at one of the Aunt’s houses.  The girls hung out with the bride and played piano, the bigger ones played board games in the basement, and the boys rough and tumbled all over the house!  And the adults talked…and talked…and talked…

Friday, we had kind of a free day as half of the cousins went to bridal luncheons and hair appointments.  So, naturally, we went to the mall.  And immediately spent way too much money on the first thing that we saw….trampolines.  We harnessed the girls up and video-taped their every jump for the next 10 minutes.  Millie enjoyed jumping all over the place, and *ahem,* trying to flip. Jayna caught on to the flipping right away, and I got dizzy just watching her!

On Saturday, we spent the morning napping and swimming…my perfect vacation!  And it was a good thing we rested up, because the reception turned out to be quite the party.

The reception was held in this old converted train depot…huge chandeliers, exposed brick, and the wood bathroom stall doors were even gorgeous!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!And the groom’s cake was so cool, featuring a Georgia Tech stadium complete with a real jumbo-tron!The traditional cake, and the groom's "cake" for the wedding in Atlanta....a Georgia Tech stadium with truffles as spectators and an iPad Jumbo-tron!But the highlight of the wedding in Atlanta was the Photo Booth.  I just can’t.  The kids were so stinkin’ adorable in that booth!  And it was set up in a way that I was able to sneak behind the camera and get some priceless shots!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!These three were immediately pros…especially when it came to silly faces.  I guess all 4ish year-old kids are naturals when it comes to silly faces.Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Cousins, dancing and a Photo Booth of course!Little Lincoln {in his adorable bow-tie!} spend the evening with a full dance card….all the ladies wanted to boogie with him, but his favorite was “Princess” Abby!Our weekend away for the wedding in Atlanta! Lil' Man has a crush on the bride! Everyone had a blast dancing the night away!  We can’t wait to hang out with the whole family again soon!

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Sunday Scripture: Mountains

This is normally the time of summer that we pack up the van and literally head for the hills.  I’m not sure what it is about the mountains that is so calming to me.  I’m overcome by a sense of humbleness, as I sit on the porch with my coffee… feeling small compared to the dense forest and sprawling mountain range.  But to think that He made all that…and still wanted to make one of little ole me too.  Wow.

Sunday Scripture: Hills Psalm 121

So, even though we didn’t make it to the mountains this year, I thought this verse {and this print, specifically, from Seeds of Faith Designs}, was a perfect Sunday Scripture for today.

Have a blessed week!

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Sunday Scripture: Friends

I have been overwhelmed lately.

With heavy emotions and sadness over all the tragedy happening all over the world, but especially so close to home.  With worry about the future of the leadership of our country.  With busyness in our everyday summer schedule.  With stress over the things on my to-do list.  With frustration, when my kids are at each others’ throats and not doing a darn thing I’ve told them to.  With, with, with.

I need to breathe.  I need to pray.  I need my friend.

Luckily, she is literally on her way to my house!!!!

And with that thought, I feel some of the weight fall off of my shoulders.  The thought of an entire week surrounded by my children and my God-daughters rekindling their relationship with each other, while being in constant proximity to my best friend….just soothes my soul.

Sunday Scripture: Friendship

Today’s Sunday Scripture Image is from In-Courage

Usually, we go to Montreat during the summer.  Or at least hide out in the mountains for a week.  But this year, the whole crazy train is coming to my house, and I couldn’t be happier.  So I’m signing off for the week for some much needed Betsy-time.  Follow me on Instagram if you want to know what we’re up to!

Have a Blessed Week!

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