Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Smurfs the Lost Village Giveaway

My kids can't wait for the new Smurfs movie to come out. I fondly remember watching the Smurfs on Saturday mornings when I was a kid, and now I get to watch them with my kids!

The new fully animated movie centers around the premise that there is a "lost" village. What if these aren't the only Smurfs? What if there are others out there? Armed with a map, the Smurfs set out to see if they can find the lost village. And of course they have to contend with the evil Gargamel, who is also looking for it!  I am curious to see whether there will be a lost village!

If you visit their website you can find fun stuff like coloring pages, recipes, a tour of the smurf village, and more! There's also a meet the characters page which gives you a description of each character. I also have a discussion guide which you can use to talk about the movie with your kids after you see it. Click for the study guide.

Today I have 2 movie codes to give away to 2 lucky readers! With these codes you will be able to order tickets online to see the new movie! The codes are good April 8-April 16.

You can enter to win in several ways.

1. Follow this blog on google+. See the widget to the right of the page. Comment below that you have followed. Be sure to include your email address!

2.  Share this post on social media sites or on other blogs. Once you have shared leave a comment with the link to where you shared and your email address. You will get one entry every time you share, so remember to post your link each time!

Giveaway ends April 7 at 5:00 pm, EST., and you can share as many times as you like until then. I will email the winner the 2 Fandango codes to use to see the movie.
 Good luck! 

“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 a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Audubon Insectarium

While in New Orleans we visited the Audubon Insectarium. It's a small insect zoo located inside the US Customs House, around the corner from the Audubon Aquarium. Since it is a government building you have to go through a metal detector and can't bring in any knives or weapons. I'm glad I saw that on their website before we went so the boys could leave their pocketknives in the car!

Once inside you are in a long hallway with insect displays down the middle. Branching off to each sides are various rooms with different displays. One room is very dark and simulates what it is like if you lived underground, complete with giant replica bugs.

This is the roach house. There are roaches all over. You can actually go on their website and watch the roach webcams. I sure don't want to watch a bunch of roaches but some people most like to!

You can even stick your head inside and get an up close look at the roaches.

Near the back they have the insect kitchen. Here they have treats baked with insects inside that you can sample.
King cake with bugs. I can't remember what was in there.

Chocolate chip cookies with crickets.

Just gross!

Billy was the only one brave enough to try the bugs. In one section you could touch a millipede.

 And there was also a love bug!

Besides just looking at bugs there were plenty of signs around telling the history of bugs and all about the bugs. It was entertaining while being educational.

I thought these displays were very cool.

They also have a short 4d movie for the kids. The very end is the butterfly habitat. you can walk through and watch all the butterflies eating and flying around. It's ok if they land on you, but you can't pick them up or touch them. They also had a large room with lots of cocoons where you could watch the butterflies coming out. 

In all we enjoyed our visit. We learned a lot about bugs and the kids liked seeing all the different kinds from around the world!
Check them out here.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

USS Alabama Battleship

On our way to Mississippi we stopped to visit the USS Alabama Battleship which is in Mobile, AL. We had been a few years ago but Junior and Bri didn't remember a lot of it. In addition to the battleship there is also a submarine you can go in, and a museum with a lot of old planes and helicopters in it. 
The battleship itself is huge! When you go in they give you a tour guide which outlines 3 different tour routes. One takes you down below, one takes you around the middle, and the last one takes you all the way to the very top. It is a LOT of walking and climbing up and down ladders.

This is the outside. I couldn't even fit the whole thing in my frame without getting far away!

All 3 tours took us about 3 hours total. We started by watching the 20 minute video about the ship. It has guys who were actually stationed on the ship talk about what it was like to live on it, and about one of the major battles they were in. I would definitely recommend seeing the video first, because then later on you can see the places they were talking about. The kids would be like 'Hey, this is where that guy was talking about when.....' You get to see the engine room, and the ammunition room where they stored all the ammo. It was cool to see the chutes that they put the ammo in to send it up to the top decks.

Huge missiles! 

The ship was really like a floating city. They had a doctor and dentist, cobbler, laundry, tool maker, post office, store, a huge kitchen complete with a bunch of storerooms, and more. 
On the deck you could really see how big the guns are!

After the battleship we went to tour the submarine. It is very small and cramped. If you are claustrophobic I would not recommend going in there! 

It was amazing to see all the dials and instruments they had on the submarine. 

Some of the sailors slept right over the torpedoes! Their beds folded down out of the wall.

You can definitely spend a whole day here if you love old planes and boats. There are a lot of memorials throughout the grounds that we didnt look at because it was cold out. At the minimum you need 3-4 hours to see the battleship, submarine, and museum. You can check out their website here. If you are in the area this is a great way to spend the day!

Friday, October 28, 2016

BRAKES Teen Driving Class

Last month I took Billy and his friend to the BRAKES teen driving class. BRAKES stands for Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe. It is a free, pro-active defensive driving program. It is geared for teens ages 15-19 who have a learners or drivers license and at least 30 hours driving experience. It is a 4 hour course, and it is worth the time! I felt like the kids learned a lot from it, and got to try out some things they wouldn't normally get to do.

This is not your typical driving school! This class aims to improve the teen's skills and confidence. First we met in a room and they showed the kids some safety videos and talked about safe driving practices. One of the things they taught us was how to adjust your side mirrors. They said everyone has always been taught to adjust their mirrors so that they can see the side of their car in them. But this creates blind spots. He said you should lean over to the side the mirror is on, then you adjust the mirror out and stop when you just cant see the side of your car anymore. This way you don't have any blind spots. You can see everything either in your rear view mirror, or when they move out of the view of it they will pop up in the side mirrors. I have started using my mirror like this, and I must admit it takes some getting used to. it's weird not seeing the side of your car. The instructor made jokes about it. He said "I promise you it's still there! The side of your car isn't going anywhere! You don't have to look at it!" 

Another safety issue is the practice of "hooking". He said women are more likely to do this because they saw their mothers and grandmothers doing this growing up. Hooking is where you turn your arm around and stick it through the steering wheel to grab the top of the wheel and turn. This is dangerous since most cars have airbags nowdays. If the airbag comes out while you have your hand like this it will break your wrist and elbow. If you are caught driving like this by the instructor you are branded a "hooker".  I got caught doing this within 30 seconds of being in the drivers seat. I have really tried to stop , though I still catch myself  doing it sometimes. 

 After the videos and short talk the teens were split into 4 groups and they went outside to start the driving part. We adults had another short talk about the importance of letting the kids drive and practice, and getting in lots of instruction time. It's crazy to think kids have hundreds of hours of instruction in playing sports, but then they only get 30 or 40 hours of instruction driving and are given a license! We went outside to watch the kids and drive. The adults got to participate in 2 of the activities the teens did. There were 4 hands on courses at the one we went to at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

Accident Avoidance/Slalom- In this course you are driving down a single lane. The lane then splits into 3 lanes. There are lights above each lane. One light will turn green and the other two red. You have to swerve into the lane with the green light without stomping the brakes. They said if you hit the brakes it makes the car harder to control. Then there are a bunch of cones you weave through to make your way back to the start. The parents got to try this one. I did it right on my first try!

Panic Stop- In this one you are driving full speed down a lane towards a cut out cardboard of a kid. When the instructor says Now! you are to lock down the brakes and turn the wheel to avoid the kid. It gives the kids a chance to feel what the brakes feel like locked down, and it shows them that you can steer when the brakes are locked down. I had problems with this one. I was nervous driving towards a kid, even if it was a cardboard cut out. The first time I didn't hit the brakes hard enough to lock them down. The instructor said I babied them. He made me do it again. The second time I did better and locked them down, but forgot to turn the wheel and steer around the kid. At least I didn't hit him!

Skid Recovery- This one was really cool! They have these bald tires that they put on over the regular tires. With the bald tires they have no traction, so when they turn they skid. The instructors taught them how to turn into the skid, and then when they felt the tires grip recover it and turn back the other way. The parents didn't get to do this one, because the tires are very expensive and they said sometimes they can wear out a set in just one day! I did go watch for a while. Most of the kids completely spun out and would go in circles. It made me dizzy watching them! Here's a close up of the bald tires.

Distraction- In this one the kids get to wear "drunk goggles". They put these goggles on and it makes everything look distorted. They have to drive through an obstacle course wearing the goggles while the instructor blares the radio, talks loud, and takes selfies with the driver. This one was hilarious to watch. The kids were creeping around the course so slowly, running over cones and going outside the lanes. 

When the parents aren't taking turns driving, there is a covered area where you can sit and watch. They also provide drinks and snacks. One of the instructors drives the parents around the courses in a large 8 passenger van so you can get an upclose look at what the teens are doing.

After the driving part is over everyone goes back inside and the kids get a certificate. Some insurance companies will give you a discount if you send them a copy of the certificate. The event is sponsored by Kia, so of course we had to get a pic with the Kia Hamsters!

Billy and his friend both really liked the course and said they wanted to do it again. The highlight of the course for Billy was that his instructor was Jerry Nadeau, a former Nascar driver! He got into an accident during a race years ago and suffered a brain injury. He can't race anymore, so now he volunteers his time with BRAKES. Billy was thrilled to meet a real Nascar driver!

If you want more information about the BRAKES class you can check out their website here. They have a schedule so you can see if they are coming to your area. The class is free, but you do have to send in a $100 deposit. The day of the class you can get your deposit back, or you can choose to donate it. BRAKES is a non profit and runs off of donations, so every little bit helps!

Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family

Today I have another book review and a giveaway! I recently received a copy of this book, and it has changed my perspective on parenting! 

In the midst of folding laundry, coordinating carpool schedules, and breaking up fights, many parents get lost. Feeling pressure to do everything “right” and raise up “good” children, it’s easy to lose sight of our ultimate purpose as parents in the quest for practical tips and guaranteed formulas.
In this life-giving book, Paul Tripp offers parents much more than a to-do list. Instead, he presents us with a big-picture view of God’s plan for us as parents. Outlining fourteen foundational principles centered on the gospel, he shows that we need more than the latest parenting strategy or list of techniques. Rather, we need the rescuing grace of God—grace that has the power to shape how we view everything we do as parents.  Freed from the burden of trying to manufacture life-change in our children’s hearts, we can embrace a grand perspective of parenting overflowing with vision, purpose, and joy. 
Being a single parent with no other parent around is hard. There's no one to discuss things with or share the parenting responsibilities with. Sometime's it's overwhelming to think about the fact that turning these kids into well-adjusted responsible adults is all up to me. This book has really given me something to think about, and shown me some things I need to change in my parenting style. The most eye opening principle is the fact that we can't change our kids. We can punish them and try to direct their ways, but the only one who can really change their hearts is God. We need to try and direct their hearts to Him, and then he can change their hearts and behavior.  
You can buy a copy of this book on Amazon
They have the hardcover and the Kindle edition. You and your family will be blessed by this book!
 I love it so much I am giving away a copy to one lucky reader! Enter below for your chance to win! Giveaway ends Nov 2. Winner has 48 hours to respond to the winning email or another winner will be chosen.

“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 a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Veggie Tales Devotionals for Boys and Girls

Over the past couple weeks Junior has been reading the new Everyday with God Veggie Tales Devotions for boys. These books come in a girl or boy version. The recommended age is 4-7, but Junior is older and he still likes reading it.

Each book has 365 daily devotionals. They are numbered, but not dated, which I like better. When we have devotionals with dates we can never keep on track! Each entry has a scripture, a short message, a thought for the day, and a prayer for the day. Junior likes them because they are short and don't take long to read. I like that it is something he will read on his own and he is still learning about the Bible!

Some of the topics are: Being Thankful, God is Always With Us, Encouraging Truth, The Necessity of Obeying God, and Learn From Your Mistakes.

The pages are bright, colorful, and decorated with all your favorite Veggie Tales characters. For younger kids this would be a great book to read to them at bedtime. Although there is a boy and girl version, I really think they could be for either. I don't see anything in the boy's version that a girl wouldn't enjoy! It appears that the boy's version just has more boy characters while the girl's has more girl characters. 

With Christmas coming up these book would be a great gift for your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or anyone! You can find them on Amazon or at

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Biggest Story DVD and CD review

Recently we were given the opportunity to review The Biggest Story dvd and audio book. The dvd  follows along with the book written by Kevin DeYoung, and the cd is the book read aloud. The story follows the Bible from Genesis through Revelations.

I chose to watch the dvd with the kids so that I could answer any questions they may have. I was impressed with the way the dvd told the entire story of the Bible from creation to Jesus saving us by dying on the cross in a short 30 minutes. The images come from the book, and are richly illustrated with vibrant colors. The cd is great to listen to in the car while running errands or while on a road trip. You can even play it at night while the kids are going to sleep. We really enjoyed this story. It is a great tool to teach children about the Bible or to go more in depth about what they already know!

From the promotions company:

The Animated Short Film: Featuring beautifully animated illustrations adapted from the book, The Biggest Story: The Animated Short Film will captivate children and parents alike as they see how all the classic stories in the Bible connect to Scripture’s overarching message about God’s glorious plan to redeem his rebellious people.

The Audio Book: This audio book of The Biggest Story—written and narrated also by the best-selling author Kevin DeYoung—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ's death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth.