Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Books We Love: New Candlewick Press Books Celebrate Fathers!

I don't think you can ever own too many good books.  But what makes a good book? For most families, it includes an engaging story, great illustrations, and lots of laughs.  (A simple life lesson is also a big plus.)  These Candlewick Press books all contain the essential elements to earn our "Books we Love" label, and they say really great things about Dads.  Is there one that you'd like to invite into your home?

We're Going on a Bear Hunt Jigsaw Puzzle Book by Michael Rosen 

This book combines one of my older kids' favorite songs with puzzles!  The song is recited throughout the book, along with colorful illustrations and represent the fun verses.  Each page is also a cardboard jigsaw puzzle, giving the kids almost an hour of fun when done all at once.  My 4 and 7-year-olds enjoy reading and puzzling with this book together.  It's very sturdy, and the pieces fit nicely into the pages, so clean up is a breeze, as well. ($15.60 via Amazon.)

There, There by Sam McBratney 

I can't stand the sight of blood, so my husband takes on the role of "first aid" professional at our home.  My kids know to go to Daddy with any ouchies, and he does the job so well!  This cute story follows a young bear who is used to going to his dad for all of his injuries, as well.  He gets the chance to return the love one day when his daddy has a minor owie.  It's an adorable read that puts fathers in the positive light they deserve to be in! ($12.12 via Amazon.)

The Almost Fearless Hamilton Squidlegger by Timothy Basil Ering 

This book cracked me up.  The illustrations are a perfect combination of goofy with a little creepy thrown in.  The main character, a young creature that kids can relate to, is completely and totally afraid of the dark.  The parents deal reluctantly with this issue (to the point of getting no sleep) and the whole family comes together to figure out how to put the fearless back into nighttime -- for the sake of everyone!  This is a quirky read that belongs on the shelf for your bedtime story collection. ($12.75 via Amazon.)

*Books received to enjoy with our children and review.  Opinions are 100% our own.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Big Fights Come in Little Packages: Help Cure Childhood Cancer!

I have been so blessed with 6 healthy children. With the exception of a few minor injuries and the common flu, we have been free from hospitals and machines, treatments and tubes.

But not all of our friends can say the same thing.  A good friend of my husband (who is now a dear friend of mine) lost a child to childhood cancer.  It was a heartbreaking thing for us, in that we couldn't bring ourselves to imagine how painful the process of treatment is, much less the realization that you have lost your fight -- and eventually your child.

As we watch our friends and family, a couple of whom are fighting cancer as adults, we pray daily for advances to be made in research and treatment that would one day -- hopefully -- take cancer out of our current vocabulary and make it a thing of the past.  Auntie Anne's, who has been helping make family moments like these in our own family, is working -- once again -- with Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) to help make more family moments for kids with cancer!

Four of my blogger friends have joined me to tell you about this initiative, and I think it's pretty exciting!  We are working together to support a “Mini But Mighty” Hero - a child who has survived or is battling cancer. Jordan, the child we are supporting, has been fighting cancer since 2003 (when she was 4).  She lives in Santa Monica, CA and she inspires others with her drive and vow to "kick cancer's butt."

Kids like Jordan depend on the funds raised by wonderful companies -- such as Auntie Anne's (and the kind individuals who give) for new treatments, care, and support.  It costs a lot of money to fight cancer, and we want to give you a way to get involved.  From July 28 - September 15, you can give (even a little) to help these little fighters do big things! (The link won't be live until July 28th!)

In the meantime, let's do something fun: I will give away a free Auntie Anne's Pretzel to a reader who comments with a note of encouragement for Jordan!  I will take comments until August 15th, and at that time, I'll randomly pick a commenter to get the prize. (Prize awarded as a coupon for a free pretzel.)
Open to U.S. only.  One comment per person.

Let's show our support in a BIG way!  I'll be following up with again soon with news of this exciting fundraising event.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review of Henry's Humdingers Raw Honey Products

I first heard of Henry's Humdinger's on an episode of "Shark Tank". I thought that the idea of flavored honeys with unique ingredients would be a good fit for my family. (And I was very impressed that the company started with the hard work and vision of an 11-year-old boy!) We use honey on most anything, and we also really enjoy playing around with spices.  We were given 4 kinds of the honeys to try, and they were all very well received.

Naughty Nana is a blend of honey with spicy pepper and ginger.  It was a little peppery, and my husband and sons really enjoyed it on just about anything from bread to crackers.  I don't like spicy stuff, but I could eat this.

Diabolical Dad had habanero peppers and lime.  It was too much for me, and I wasn't sure of the lime component.  The boys ate this on tortilla chips!

Grumpy Grandma was full of spicy red pepper and garlic.  Garlic and honey are a great match, and we've used this on meats as a marinade and as a basting sauce.  It's great on chicken wings!

Phoebe's Fireball has chipotle chili and cinnamon.  This is yummy on dessert breads and tortillas.

Note that these are raw honey, so you will want to avoid feeding it to babies under 1.  (Although most babies won't appreciate the spice, anyway.)

I love that this company is an effort of a boy and his family.  If you want to support small business, innovation, and amazing flavors, I recommend buying Henry's Humdingers!  The jars are cute, as well.  They make great gifts.  (And a portion of all sales goes to help save the honeybee.)

* Samples received. Opinions are my own.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Child Hunger is STILL a Problem (but We Can Fix It!)

I'm thrilled to be partnering with The Motherhood to share this exciting news about ConAgra's Child Hunger Ends Here program. Opinions are my own.

My husband buys a ridiculous amount of pudding when it goes on sale. But this summer, each specially-marked pack helps feed a child in need (and I do love pudding.)
If you've read my blog for any significant length of time, you know that I am passionate about the issue of child hunger. I've partnered with ConAgra and their Child Hunger Ends Here project many of the last few years, and I follow their progress in working with our local communities here in Nebraska in helping make sure kids get fed.

This year, I've been able to help work with them again, to update my friends and readers on news in the battle against tiny tummies going empty at night.  It's truly a sad way for kids to spend their sleeping hours, and no little one should be asking for food and not getting it.

Did you know?
  • More than one in five children in the U.S., including more than one in four Latino children, may not know where their next meal is coming from. That’s nearly 16 million children, a number that could fill 8,000 playgrounds.
  • Children who experience even intermittent struggles with hunger may suffer serious, long-term consequences to their health, well-being and educational achievement. What’s more, being hungry robs kids of the promise of childhood – the ability to play, grow and learn.
While all this may make you sad, there is hope!  ConAgra Foods is partnering with P&G to get people involved and to donate up to 7 million meals through the Child Hunger Ends Here campaign.    (Yay!)

How can you help?

Just buy the ConAgra Foods and P&G products you already buy and locate the red pushpin and code on the packaging.  Then enter it at ChildHungerEndsHere.com by the end of August (or enter it in the space on the left-hand side of my blog here), and the brands will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to Feeding America, a nonprofit dedicated to putting food in the mouths of kids who need it!

As with most years, there is a celebrity partnership going on with this year's campaign.  Hunter Hayes (who we were blessed to see in concert not that long ago) is busy on his “We’re Not Invisible” tour -- which is sponsored by Child Hunger Ends Here. For every download of Hunter’s new single, “Invisible,” on iTunes, Child Hunger Ends Here will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to the nation’s leading hunger-relief charity, Feeding America, up to 1 million meals.

I know.. it's a LOT of news to take in.  To find all of it explained very well in one place, I encourage you to visit the official Facebook page, where you can see updates from the brands, charities, and Hunter, himself!  You can also follow the conversation on Twitter and Instagram @ChildHungerEnds.

Here's also a short video with a good explanation:

But wait!  There's more!

Child Hunger Ends Here is giving fans ages 14 and older the exciting opportunity to “Ask Hunter” a question about being a role model —and he may answer it personally! Just enter a code on www.childhungerendshere.com for the chance to ask Hunter Hayes a question. Each month through August 2014, Hunter will personally answer one question (using the winner’s name!) about what it takes to be a role model and post the video to the Child Hunger Ends Here Facebook page.

Before you go...  Would you help us gauge awareness of child hunger in the U.S.?  By filling out this quick survey, you can make this program even better.  Your participation means a lot to me!

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