Summerville Farmers Market

One of my favorite things to do on Saturday mornings is to wander the Summerville Farmers Market.  It’s your typical Southern small town farmer’s market, with banjo pickers, popsicles and miles of fresh veggies grown just up the street.  Even it’s location {tucked behind Town Hall on Main Street} stereotypes the small town atmosphere!  The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeThe Summerville Farmers Market forms a loop around First Citizen’s Bank, with street and garage parking within feet of the market.  It also backs up to Short Central, which is a little cobblestoned street lined with boutique stores and cafes….a perfect stop for lunch after perusing the handmade goodies at the market.  The Summerville Farmers Market is open 8am-1pm on Saturdays, April through December, with live music starting at 10am each week.

Staying true to the picturesque stereotype…you’ll see toddlers and elderly couples dancing to bluegrass, kids with  King of Pop popsicle juice running down their chin, and dogs trotting beside Radio Flyer wagons full of flowers.  It seems like everyone knows everyone, and people are just as content to mingle and “window shop” as to truly do their weekly produce shopping.The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeAlthough it is totally worth a trip out to Summerville to experience it for yourself, I thought I’d give you a quick tour of some of my favorite vendors in the loop.  Just past the live music and face painting, you come to the gourmet food booths.  Honey, bread, spices and pizza sauce, just to name a few.  Click on the pictures to visit each vendor’s website.The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeThe Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeNot pictured above, the line of about a dozen people patiently waiting for fresh pasta and ravioli from Rio Bertolini’s…. who regularly sells out!The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeThe Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeI love all of the unique gift ideas that you can find all in one place at the Summerville Farmers Market.  As a handmade small business owner, I can really identify and appreciate the commitment and passion they have for their creations.  You can regularly see the craftsmen working on products or personalizing merchandise right there on the spot.  You’ll find wood products, all natural soaps and creams {that are awesome for eczema!}, handmade children’s clothing and accessories, candles, and even dog treats!The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeTucked in a little cul-de-sac of vendors is some fresh coffee from Summerville’s own Coastal Coffee Roasters, some jarred goods, and my girls’ personal favorite, KB’s Unique Creations.The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlife She handmakes all of her cork ornaments and bottle cap necklaces.  But our favorites to look at are her clothespin magnets.  A perfect gift for a teacher, each set is themed and has a magnet on the back to make it that much more versatile for refrigerators and chalkboards.The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeAbout this time on the loop, my littles usually start to itch for a snack, so we head for my preference {Kettle Corn Popcorn}…but really it’s a tough choice with all of the fresh and yummy goodies to choose from!The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeThe Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeRound the corner, just past the Lil Red Barn food truck, you’ll pass a couple antique cars and then you come upon the gardeners.  Flowers down the entire length of the street, ready for planting and already arranged and ready for your kitchen table.The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeThe Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeAs you peruse the pallets of greenery and pops of color, listen for the “whirrrrr, pop!” of the 1917 Meadows Grist Mill that The Flying Farmer uses to grind yellow corn into grits and meal right on site.The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeAnd suddenly, we’re in the homestretch of produce.  Our garden produces so much, that I usually don’t buy much…but it’s admittedly my favorite part of the Summerville Farmers Market.  Row after row of colors, blending one booth into another.  It’s hard to tell who you are buying from, not that it really matters…everything is beautiful and fresh and local.  My kids beg to taste the sweet raspberries and blackberries.  They are equally mesmerized by the different shapes and colors of some produce that they haven’t tried yet.  Promises of trying new foods come flying gout of their mouths as they persuade me to buy a few bags worth….we’ll see.  But hopefully, picking out their own food will encourage them to take one more bite of those collards….The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlifeWandering the Summerville Farmers Market has become one of our family weekend traditions.  In the midst of house projects, birthday parties and softball games that divide up our weekends… spending Saturday mornings as a family while supporting local businesses is how we stay grounded!

The Summerville Farmers Market is straight out of a chick-flick featuring a small Southern town! Take a quick tour of our favorite booths and products. #farmersmarket #Summerville #CMB #SouthCarolina #smalltownlife

Sunday Scripture: Honey

I got schooled in kindness by my eldest daughter the other day.  Our insane dog will let just about anyone into the house in the middle of the night without even twitching; but will bark incessantly at a car door three miles away.  And like clockwork, she went on a barking spree at the mailman who may or may not have even been in our neighborhood.  Right after I put the baby down for his nap.  Grrr.  My instinct is to yell at her, clap my hands, and get mad.  But the other day, as I was carrying on, Jayna took over.  “Mom, I got this,” she said, interrupting my noisy {and futile} attempts to shut the dog up.  And she left the room and went into the dining room where the dog was, out of sight.  And sure enough, the dog immediately got quiet.

So as Jayna walked back in the room, I asked her how she got Maggie to stop barking.  And Jayna simply said, “I killed her with kindness.”  I had taught this metaphor to her the week before when she was dealing with an annoying kid on the bus, never dreaming that she would apply it to the dog.

She went on to tell me that she just started petting Maggie and telling her that it was OK, it was just the mailman, and thanking her for “letting us know.”  And after she acknowledged and affirmed the dog, Maggie felt like she could stop barking.

So when I came across this beautiful print of Proverbs 16:24 from French Press Mornings, I just knew I had to use this as a Sunday Scripture for this week.Sunday Scripture: Like Honey #faith #killemwithkindness #SundayScriptureI am a sensitive soul.  I don’t respond well to criticism in general, but I find that my attitude towards it is greatly affected by how it is delivered.  And a sincere compliment goes a long way with me.  I had an older woman compliment how I handled some behavior in Publix the other day, and I ran on that high all week!  It made me feel like a rockstar, and encouraged me to respond with the same attitude and patience the next time a kid was pushing my buttons.  Hopefully I can remember these words this week when I feel like I need to kill somebody else with a little kindness!

Have a blessed week!

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DIY {Almost} FAIL: Sidewalk Chalk Popsicles

I am the first to tell anyone that I am not a very creative person, but I’m an excellent copycat.  So today’s post on Sidewalk Chalk Popsicles totally has to send props to Grey House Harbor on Project Nursery for her original instructions that I found on Pinterest.  I was looking for simple DIY projects to do during Camp Rakuhn, either ‘with’ or ‘for’ the six kids under seven that would reside in my house for a week.  The stuff that would keep them entertained so that Betsy and I could catch up.

DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsSo I thought this recipe for Sidewalk Chalk Popsicles would be a simple project for us, and provide at least 10 minutes of independent play for the kiddos.  But it turned out to be WAY more dramatic than that.  And I may be a good copycat, but it turns out, I don’t follow directions very well.

For this project, please use the EXACT materials listed.  And for goodness sake, follow the instructions!DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #crafts{Affiliate links are provided if you prefer to purchase materials online at no extra cost, while also supporting my blog}

Materials: A deep silicone mold {I used a Wilton brownie pop mold to get the “popsicle” effect.}, Plaster of Paris {at least 2 lbs}, Tempera Paint {the liquid kind, but make sure it says Tempura on the label}, fat tongue depressors cut in half, 8 SOLO {aka throw-away-able} cups, and 8 plastic spoons.  You will also need measuring spoons and a measuring cup, and about 3c cold water {put it in the fridge for a half an hour before you start}.

Note: This is a messy project.  Do it outside or cover your workspace.  Kids can help stir the liquid under supervision, but please make sure they don’t ingest the liquid or solid chalk.  And finally.  DO NOT POUR plaster of paris down your drain.  Just throw away the Solo cups when you are done.

1. Pour 1/3 cup of cold water {from your fridge} into each cup.DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #crafts2. Put 2 Tbsp of each color Tempura Paint in each cup, and stir well with plastic spoon. {Feel free to mix colors to create new ones!}  Yes, the amount matters.  The original post that I found this “recipe” for called for Neon Tempera Paint…which I couldn’t find.  So I bought Neon Liquid Paint that was located next to the Tempera Paint at Walmart.  But, it did not specifically say Tempera Paint.  My first mistake.  I later found some purple Tempera Paint in my craft closet at home, and tried this recipe with that and it worked just fine.  So….Tempera Paint is important.DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #crafts3. Stir in 1/3cup of Plaster of Paris into each cup. I’m not sure where we went wrong here, but the original recipe called for 2/3cup…and it ended up being too thick.  But then again, we were also using the wrong {not Tempera} paint.  After doing 2/3c on the first two colors, we halved the amount of Plaster of Paris, and the result was much smoother.  The consistency needs to be similar to thin yogurt or melted ice cream.  Depending on the brand of Tempera Paint, you may need to tweak your amount as well….but start at 1/3cup and add a little more at a time if needed.  You’ll see in the following pictures that we still went ahead and made one chalk popsicle out of this “chunky” mix…can you tell the difference?DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsThe above picture {purple} is with 1/3c Plaster of Paris and 2 Tbsp of purple tempera paint.  I was most pleased with the color and consistency of these pops in the end.  Bright colors on the sidewalk and pretty to look at on the stick too!

The picture below has 1/3c Plaster of Paris and 2 Tbsp of the neon liquid paint.  It had an OK consistency, but took longer to dry and the color was not as vivid.  However, you can really see the consistency that you need in the mold.DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #crafts4. Pour each color into the silicon mold.  Tap the sides a little with your finger to remove any bubbles. It should look smooth.

DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #crafts

The one with the stick is the one with the 2/3c Plaster of Paris. It was literally like cement…took a long time to dry and wasn’t very good as chalk. The Purple Tempera Paint was the best!

5. Let it harden for about 5 minutes, then add a popsicle stick.  It should stick straight up without any help.  If it doesn’t, let it harden for a few more minutes.  Let it harden completely over night.  You’ll see that the water evaporates and the sides  of the chalk separate from the sides of the mold.  It will be hard for the kiddos to wait, but will be completely dry {not crumbly} when you pop each Sidewalk Chalk Popsicle out of the mold, and be easier to draw with.DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsLike I said before, although I only had purple, I really think they turned out the best.  The neon chalk popsicles that had the 1/3c Plaster of Paris were OK, but crumbly when used and did not show up on the sidewalk as vividly.DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsDIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsDIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsDIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsAs you can see in the second photo above…it was really difficult to draw with the chalk popsicle that was made with 2/3c Plaster of Paris.  The others were much easier.DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsAnd I lucked out making numerous purple chalk popsicles….that seemed to be the favorite color too!DIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsDIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #craftsDIY Chalk Popsicles #tutorial #CampRakuhn #kidprojects #crafts

And just like that, I had 4 happy girls and a beautiful driveway!

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{Giveaway!} The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!

**Sony Home Video provided me with some of the materials I used in this Blog Post/Giveaway. The opinions I share are my own.**

As the mom of two girlie girls who love anything princess, I find it challenging to find age-appropriate movies that appeal to them as well as my son.  Ideally, a movie featuring princesses and pirates with lots of adventure and life lessons would be perfect for our family.

Good news!  The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today! just released from Sony Home Entertainment, and fits the bill!

In the brand new original animated film, Princess Alise is training to be the perfect royal but in her heart all she wants to do is sail the seven seas as a swashbuckling pirate! After setting sail, Princess Alise is shipwrecked and washes ashore on an island where she meets Lucas, a young boy who has been living there by himself. They have to work together to survive and get back to civilization!

And I’m trying to spread the word about this family friendly flick by giving away a copy of it today! {All you have to do is click to take the quiz below!}

With creepy creatures,

sword fights,

songs to sing along with, laugh out loud moments,

and lessons in bravery, cooperation and being true to yourself,

this movie is the perfect compromise for brothers and sisters to watch.  And they will love the Sing-Along and special features!

The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today! Giveaway! #giveaway #ad #princess #pirate #kidmovies

Buy The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!

Follow The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!  Giveaway ends on Wednesday, September 21st!

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Fine Print:  Each household is only eligible to win The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today! DVD via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.  The prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS.  No P.O. Boxes please.

Camp RaKuhn

If you didn’t already know, I am kind of a dork.  The only jokes I know are cheesy.  I can recite random lines from movies.  And I love me a good mash-up of two names.  So when I randomly tried to get the attention of my kids as well as my friend Betsy’s….it came out “Ray-Kuhn kids, let’s go!”  And, Camp RaKuhn was born.  Complete with a raccoon mascot, of course.We normally go somewhere to see each other every summer {either Montreat, NC or West Jefferson, NC}.  So when Betsy and her crew decided to come to our house for a week instead this year, the pressure was on to create the same kind of memories we do each year together.  Crafts galore, outings, porch sitting, splashing in creeks.Too bad all of our bodies of water have gators, we literally could not fit all 8 of us in a single vehicle for outings, and our porch is hot and dirty.  I was feeling discouraged.  I was worried Camp RaKuhn at our house was going to be a bust.

But, with a little last minute prep from Dave, we were able to transform our back porch into a lantern-lit, canvas-curtained, coffee-cozy retreat that Betsy and I were able to sit on while the kiddos came and went.  It was a great in-between for yard play and house play.We managed to get a couple of outings in over the week.  The big trip was to Bee City, our favorite little local petting zoo.  The price is right, the animals are so sweet, and there is something new every time.  The kids had a blast!I’m not sure if you can count the grocery store and the pool as outings, but we sure were a spectacle while traveling.  One mama loaded up with all 6 kids under 7, plus supplies….and the other one laughing and posting to Instagram….The nice thing about being local for our staycation is that Bets and I were able to sneak out  for an afternoon alone, thanks to a babysitter and naptime!  So naturally, we went to Walmart and Hobby Lobby.Our final group outing was to Cracker Barrel in town, where we had a lovely last-brunch before Betsy and the girls hit the road to head back north.  And just a few more photos….after all, the kids were sporting their brand new Camp Rakuhn tee-shirts!The tee-shirts were SO easy to make.  We worked on them a little each night {we had 6 to make after all!}, and customized each shirt with different colored lettering.  I’ll show you how we did it in another post, but we were able to find numerous images of the same cute little raccoon doing different things, so we’ll have shirts again next year!!Overall, I think Camp RaKuhn was a hit, and as soon as they got here and the kiddos all just jumped right back where they left off last year, I stopped stressing about activities.  One day, they literally entertained themselves for 45 minutes making the babies run back and forth between them!Upcycled Sock Donuts using Puffy Paint, Felt and SocksThey were more than content to just play with each other…although the Sock Donut Shop was also a hit!  Betsy and I got many hours of coffee and catching up, as well as out fill of crafts at night.Til next year, my dear!

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Sunday Scripture: Separate

One of my favorite things about being one of the leaders on the Kids’ Ministry Team at my church is getting to immerse myself in the curriculum from a planning perspective, as well as experiencing it as a parent, through my children’s eyes.  We use the Orange Curriculum, specifically the First Look Preschool series for all of our kids under 5. Sunday Scripture: Separate #preschool #curriculum #faith #BibleVerse #SundayScripture

Every month, Lincoln comes home with a new monthly memory verse.  It’s always simple, and with motions, to help the toddlers memorize it.  Here was August’s verse:

“Nothing can separate us from God’s love.” -Romans 8:38

And I love that my two year old has already learned that God loves him, no matter what.  What an awesome foundation for him to have!  Although this week’s Sunday Scripture image is from MadeFourLove, here is another link to Preschoolers and Peace, that has a bunch of other Toddler-Friendly verses.

Have a blessed week!

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Mom Tricks: How to get out the Door On Time

One of the biggest challenges I personally face is tardiness.  I am almost always about 4-8 minutes late.  To everything.  Even when we are ready to walk out the door, someone {me} usually forgets something {my keys}, and bam! we are late again.  And it seems that no matter what, the last 10 minutes of trying to get my family out the door is pure chaos and stress.  Not a great way to start the day.Tips from a Mom on how to get your family out the door on time #punctual #momtricks #hacks #parenting #lateBut, we are doing a bit better lately.  We’ve perfected a few little tricks to prep for our mornings to help us get out the door on time.

Wake up purposefully.  This goes for me, as well as the kids.  I usually get up about 15 minutes before the older kids, allowing just enough time for me to grab a shower, start the coffee and get myself composed before going in to help them wake up.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not a morning person.  Neither are 2 out of 3 of my kids.  But allowing a slow, lazy, wake-up routine keeps the kids drowsy all morning and sets us behind almost immediately.   I’ve found that by getting them out of bed and into the bright bathroom immediately to brush teeth and whatnot, helps speed up the waking up process.Tips from a Mom on how to get your family out the door on time #punctual #momtricks #hacks #parenting #latePrep as much as you can the night before.  For me, this means restocking the baby bag, having backpacks zipped up with homework and projects already ready to go.  Having a designated spot for school supplies or sports equipment really helps to keep things corralled.  Having outfits already picked out and laid out helps my school aged girls have independence in getting dressed {as well as letting having a say in what they wear, but we can argue talk about appropriateness the night before, rather than in the morning!}

Tips from a Mom on how to get your family out the door on time #punctual #momtricks #hacks #parenting #late

The Organised Housewife has some fantastic ideas for corralling kids’ school stuff. This was my favorite!

And speaking of picking out appropriate outfits, the “three outfit” system works for us.  The girls and I pick out three complete outfits {including socks and underwear} that match, are school/activity appropriate, and are separate from the rest of their cloths.  We have a spare drawer under each of their beds in which we keep these three outfits.  And when they are choosing their outfit for each day, they are allowed to choose any of those three.  It gives them some say in what they wear day to day, but I can make sure they match and are dressed for the weather ahead of time.  That way I’m not having to supervise every minute of the dressing routine.  And it’s nice to have those few extra minutes in the morning to actually throw on some mascara or straighten my hair drink some coffee while they are doing their thing.

Tips from a Mom on how to get your family out the door on time #punctual #momtricks #hacks #parenting #late

Dave made the girls custom beds with storage underneath…perfect for ready-made outfits! Click here to see the rest of the room.

Make lunches ahead of time!  I’m not talking about soggy sandwiches, I’m thinking out of the box.  Like macaroni and cheese bites, mini muffin pizzas and little pot pies.  Things you can make in bigger batches and then freeze…they’ll thaw out in their lunchbox!  If you can’t pack the kids’ lunches ahead of time, do it while multitasking in the morning.  In our house we get completely ready before coming to the breakfast table.  I figure I can send a granola bar to school if we run out of time to eat, but they can’t get dressed on the bus!

Tips to get your family out the door on time: Make large batches of freezable lunches..they can thaw in the lunch box #punctual #momtricks #hacks #parenting #late

This school lunch roundup post I did a couple of years ago is my MOST POPULAR post…check out some of the ideas!

So while I am fixing their breakfast, they are picking out items for their lunches {fruit, chips, etc.}.  I keep everything accessible to them so they can get it themselves.  One of our crisper drawers in the fridge has a constant stash of pre-bagged baby carrots, grapes, peppers, etc.  And I either buy individually bagged dry snacks, or I pre-bag every fishie and pretzel stick that comes into the house into snack bags.  In fact, we specifically rearranged our pantry to accommodate for little ones helping themselves!  Then, while they are eating breakfast, I’m double checking lunch boxes and backpacks.

Tips to get your family out the door on time: separate snacks and lunch items into individual, ready-to-grab bags to speed up lunch prep

Go check out this post by Sweet Tea & Stilettos…they have a TON of fantastic, healthy ideas for pre-made snacks.

Set your clocks.  Our clocks in the house are all about 5 minutes fast….allowing for a pleasant {and on time!} surprise when we get into the car to see the actual time!  I also set lots of alerts on my phone to keep us on track.  I have alarms for wake-up times, alarms for breakfast time, alarms for leaving time.

So, I’m not promising that we will be early, or even on time to whatever it was that you invited us to, but instead of being 8 minutes late, we’ll only be 4 minutes late! Palmettos and Pigtails Signature

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}