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    giveaways, holiday gift guide series, product reviews, Uncategorized

    $100 Lakeshore Learning Gift Card Giveaway + The Ultimate Fort Builder

    We can’t get enough of the products from Lakeshore Learning. I am consistently impressed with their quality, service and affordability. Through my partnership with them, I am now able to try out products at home with my kids like their awesome Ultimate Fort Builder that my kids are obsessed with.

    The Ultimate Fort Builder includes 45 durable poles and 25 kid-friendly connectors, which can be put together to create an igloo, a castle and other creations. The structures are strong enough to support a sheet or blanket on top, and the kit also includes instructions for easy construction.

    Before the kids started building, it was easy to see that several skills would be needed for success in building their forts:

    • teamwork
    • organization
    • following directions
    • critical thinking

    With zero adult instruction or help, my kids opened up the box, sorted the parts and started building.

    Once their fort was complete, the kids added a blanket on top and a few pillows on the floor. While not sturdy enough to climb on, their fort was well-made and not likely to come down without effort. The kids enjoyed playing inside and there was plenty of room for them to move around comfortably.

    Some other great benefits of building with the Ultimate Fort Builder:

    • encourages imagination and creativity
    • fosters cooperative play
    • helps boost kid’s confidence when they complete each project on their own or working together as a team

    More to Love About Lakeshore Learning
    Did you know Lakeshore has been making award-winning and high-quality educational products for over 60 years? They are a brand my family and I trust for their unique and exclusive products that are designed by teachers. Their products encourage curiosity and imagination and help kids develop a love of learning. Have you seen their 2020 Gifts for Growing Minds collection yet? It has all the gifts and learning toys you need to complete your holiday shopping for kids on your list.

    Save with my Lakeshore Learning Coupon
    You can take advantage of using my unique code if you are shopping on LakeshoreLearning.com this holiday season or in-stores. Use my code 7933 to save 25% off any single non-sale item. Coupon valid ‪through 12/31/20 for one-time use in stores or online. Limit one coupon per customer. Not valid on items with shipping restrictions. Other exclusions may apply. Visit http://bit.ly/3bRGxeZ for details.

    Lakeshore Learning $100 Gift Card Giveaway!

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    diverse books, parenting, product reviews

    How We Make Sleep, Reading and Diversity a Priority in Our Home

    Disclaimer: We partnered with Hatch to share a few thoughts about the Hatch Restore and Hatch Rest and to showcase how we’ve incorporated these products into our bedtime routine. As always, any opinions expressed are my own.

    Sleep. It is absolutely essential to our overall well being. There are so many benefits to getting a good night’s sleep like: memory retention, improved appetite, increased energy and mood regulation.

    Reading also has amazing benefits for both your physical and mental health and those benefits can last a lifetime. The same is true for the topic of diversity. It can benefit and enrich our world by providing more colorful life experiences and enhance our social relationships and communities.

    When people are well rested and well read they are more likely to have empathy and be open to embracing diversity and inclusion in order to build a balanced world for our future children. Yes, sleep, reading and diversity can go hand in hand if you allow it to.

    Our nightly bedtime routine usually consists of the following

    • eat dinner together as a family
    • 15 – 30 minute clean up time (wash dishes, clean the kitchen, put away toys, gather books for story time)
    • bath time
    • story time (15 – 20 minutes)
    • bedtime for the kids (their Hatch Rest alarm clock goes off at 8:30pm during the school week)
    • My Hatch Restore alarm goes off at 9:00pm to prepare my mind and body for sleep

    We’ve enjoyed incorporating our Hatch Rest and Hatch Restore into our nightly routine. It has really helped us make sleep more of a priority in our household. Since you can personalize Hatch devices to fit the normal rhythm of your family that really makes it so easy and seamless to set them up on your own using their handy app.

    When it comes to reading and diversity, these two topics have always been a priority for our family. When searching for books that serve as mirrors and windows for my children, I’m always mindful of exactly which books we choose to read. While we don’t discriminate when it comes to literature, I do make it a point to select diverse books that reflect my children and our family. Why?  Because I know if I don’t expose my kids to these books, they might not see them otherwise.

    I believe all children should be exposed to a wide range of people, experiences, abilities, races and cultures. As a parent, my goal is to present my children with a full spectrum of brown and Black characters in a variety of books. I want their experiences of story and representations of the world to include people of color, people they can imagine being like — people like Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Misty Copeland, Michelle Obama, and Michael Jordan — or fictional characters with whom they can identify.

    I also use bedtime stories to help my children grow and learn about other important topics such as race, LGBTQ+ rights, disabilities, and mental health.

    If you’d like to make sleep, reading or diversity a priority in your home, here are a few tips:

    • Set a goal – Whenever something is important to me, I make it a goal. Make it a goal to get a certain number of hours of sleep each night (or week), read a certain number of books or incorporate diversity into your life in various ways if it’s important to you.
    • Establish a custom bedtime routine that matches the rhythm of your family’s schedule
    • Limit screen time and electronic devices before bed
    • Read a variety of diverse books that showcase people of all colors, religions, abilities and cultures
    • Use a sound machine like the Hatch Restore which also includes guided meditations to help encourage sleep before bedtime

    Your turn:  I would love to hear your favorite tips on how you make sleep, reading or diversity a priority in your life. Feel free to share in the comments.

    Meet Hatch Rest

    Rest is the magical all-in-one sleep must-have that parents are raving about. It can be controlled remotely from your phone and is completely customizable — making it a parent’s dream come true. Perfect for babies, toddlers, and big kids!

    Check out the features for Hatch Rest:

    ● Sound machine: Parents can choose from a range of sound options, from white noise to soft lullabies. Simply crank up the volume remotely when the dog barks or the neighbors throw a party.
    ● Night light: This feature provides soft and soothing for midnight feeding sessions, or parents can adjust to be bright and reassuring when the dark feels scary. Choose from a rainbow of colors to make it your own.
    ● Time-to-rise: Green means go! This feature enables parents to teach toddlers and preschoolers to stay in bed until it’s time to rise (and enjoy those extra minutes of sleep).

    Rest means that parents are no longer the bedtime bad guy, and bedtime struggles and early wake ups are a thing of the past.

    Designed for the Modern Nursery: Rest features a modern design with a night light, sound machine, and time-to-rise in one smart device.

    Controllable Remotely from Your Phone: Turn Rest on and off and change the volume and brightness remotely from your smartphone so there’s no need to disrupt a sleeping baby. Or, set programs to run each day to help your child get on a healthy sleep schedule.

    Personalized with Custom Colors and Sounds: Create the ideal sleep environment for your child’s unique sleep needs by choosing from a range of custom colors and sound choices. The night light feature, which stays cool to the touch, helps your child feel secure and has the option to stay on all night.

    The device also comes equipped with a toddler lock so only you can make adjustments when it’s enabled.

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    adult books, giveaways, product reviews, reading tips

    Bookworm Essentials: Tools & Resources to Enhance Your Family’s Reading Life + A Giveaway!

    With the growing accessibility of books and reading materials, bookish accessories are in high demand now more than ever before. But let’s face it, being a bookworm is a lot of work. It takes dedication, concentration and plenty of time. Below I’ve compiled a list of essentials I have found to be essential to ensure a pleasant, stress free reading experience.

    Read Everyday. Essential #1: Something to read
    If you’re going to be a bookworm (or a writer), you’re going to need a lot of books to read. So start by compiling a wish list of books you’d like to read and start reading.

    No Dog Eared Pages, Please! Essential #2: Book Darts
    These magical little bookmarks are invaluable for not only marking your place, but prepping for book club (or blog post writing). Mark not only your page, but the exact line you want to remember. Once you try them you might not want go back to your old bookmarking ways.

    Say Goodbye to Flapping Pages. Essential #3 Page Anchor
    If you’ve ever struggled with pages flapping in your face while reading a physical book, this little accessory may just be your reading BFF. You can read my previous review of the Page Anchor here. BONUS: Use my coupon code HEREWEEREAD15 to get 15% off your Page Anchor! Head over to www.page-anchor.com now!

    Let there be light! Essential #4: An LED Book light
    If you read in bed like I do, you may want to have an LED book light like this one handy. I find portable book lights really useful for reading in bed at night. I also use my book light in the car or while traveling by plane.

    Protect your bookish investments. Essential #5: A book sleeve
    Whether you’re book is in your home, at the bottom of your beach bag or the top of your carry-on, it will be protected from the bumps and bruises of travel inside a cute protective sleeve.

    Read while you eat. Essential #6: A wooden book holder
    Do you love to read books while eating,cooking, drinking tea, having coffee, or while knitting? Do you need a gadget to hold books open while you are reading? Then you might want to invest in a wooden book holder like this one. Bonus: It also doubles as a cookbook recipe holder or a tablet holder.

    Set a daily reading timed goal. Essential #7: A reading timer
    I aim to read for at least 20 – 30 minutes daily in the morning and at night right before bed. I find using a reading timer helps me stay on track with my daily reading goals. Simply set the timer for the allotted period, read until it goes off, then lights out. Both of my kids use this children’s reading timer since they don’t have mobile devices of their own yet.

    Bookmark It. Essential #8: Literary Tattoos
    Ok, so these are not essentials, but they are fun… Literary Tattoos!
    Just add water: Simple stick, wet, and peel instructions mean easy application for all of these temporary tattoos.

    Bookmark It. Essential #9: Bookmarks
    I’m really picky when it comes to bookmarks. In the past, I have used paper bookmarks, bobby pins, paper clips and index cards to save my place in a book. However, over the years I’ve learned bookmarks have to be functional, easy to use and long-lasting. Today, there are so many types of bookmarks to choose from – even magnetic ones!

    Lately, I’ve been loving the durable leather bookmarks from our friends at Ox and Pine. Oh, and did I mention their bookmarks can be personalized? They also sell beautiful journals and a few other bookish items.

    And hey, fellow bookworm, have you heard of our diverse summer reading challenge? Although summer is almost over, you can still use this resource all year round. Happy Reading!

    The Giveaway!
    Our friends at Ox and Pine are offering two FREE personalized bookmarks to one (1) lucky US based resident! Enter for your chance to win below. Good Luck!Ox and Pine: Two Personalized Leather Bookmarks

    Your turn: What are some of your favorite bookworm essentials? Feel free to share in the comments.

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    children's literacy, product reviews, technology

    Adventure Academy: WordPlay with Kwame Alexander

    My kids are absolutely LOVING Adventure Academy and I can’t lie, so am I! It is so good, truly. Created by the creators of ABC Mouse, Adventure Academy builds critical knowledge of essential topics in language arts, math, science, social studies, and more. It’s recommended for kids ages 8-13.

    Our family recently got a sneak peek into WordPlay, a new series that will soon be featured on Adventure Academy. We were invited to an exclusive virtual screening and we can’t be more excited about this forthcoming show for kids!

    What is WordPlay?
    WordPlay is a brand new 10-episode kids video series created by Kwame Alexander. Wordplay will be available in September exclusively within Adventure Academy. The educational series provides a master class in storytelling and writing for elementary students. In essence, WordPlay teaches elementary-age children how to write short stories in a highly engaging format. Kwame Alexander created, executive produced, and serves as the host of the show.

    Each episode of WordPlay features Kwame working through a key stage of the storytelling process with the help of his diverse group of friends. Celebrities and other well-known guests make an appearance in the episode shows. For example, actor and author Maulik Pancholy of 30 Rock and former VP of Animated Shorts for Nickelodeon Samantha Berger, offer insights into various elements of the storytelling process, such as exposition, character development, and how to build a sense of mystery.

    WordPlay with Kwame Alexander

    WordPlay also features “The Pajama Drama Club,” a book club of kids who act out stories by performing literary songs and jokes in a theatrical production.

    Do your kids or students use Adventure Academy? Feel free to share in the comments. Look for the Wordplay series to be rolled out to Adventure Academy starting in September 2020.

    For more information on WordPlay, visit www.adventureacademy.com/wordplay and Adventure Academy, visit www.adventureacademy.com.

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    our latest obsession, product reviews

    My Latest Bookish Obsession: Page Anchor (for Bookworms Like Me)

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary product from Page Anchor to enjoy and share with my audience. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

    When I initially saw an ad for Page Anchor on Instagram, I immediately fell in love with the product and the overall concept. Page Anchor is a beautiful, functional, anchor-shaped metal pin bookmark. The sleek and elegant design is pleasing to the eye, it’s easy to use and it really helps to prevent your book from closing while you’re reading. Simply put, Page Anchor is an elegant tool to transform the way you read. Say goodbye to holding pages of a book in place with your fingers while you read.

    I received the Rose Gold Page Anchor in the mail a few weeks ago and I’m obsessed with it! It’s a beautiful, high-quality product and is now easily the most stunning bookmark I’ve ever owned. As their website states, “Its body is crafted in surgical grade 316L stainless steel, in order to keep even the thickest of books open. The anchor is then ion-plated with a layer of rose gold and hand-polished to create its highly elegant appearance.” Each Page Anchor comes with a simple user guide, a cleaning cloth and a handy small pouch for storing when not in use.

    To use your Page Anchor , simply slide the pin into your book and it will hold the pages to prevent your book from closing. Your hands are now free to do something else like sip on your favorite beverage, type on a computer keyboard, highlight passages or take notes while you read or study. I really enjoy using it to keep the pages of my cookbooks open if I’m trying a new recipe. When you’re ready to turn the page of any book, slide the pin up, turn the page and then slide it back down again to hold your pages in place. Easy, peasy! You can use your Page Anchor bookmark on everything from hardcover and paperback books to journals and cookbooks.

    In addition, for as long as you own it, your Page Anchor will be covered by a lifetime warranty. Their warranty covers all problems related to manufacturing defects, that may cause damage throughout your ownership of the anchor.

    Since receiving my Page Anchor I’ve used it everyday for my daily reading and it truly has transformed my reading life for the better.

    Ready to try or gift a Page Anchor for yourself or a friend?

    You can use my coupon code HEREWEEREAD15
    to get 15% off your Page Anchor!

    Head over to www.page-anchor.com now!

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    family fun, product reviews

    The Easiset Way to Learn How to Play Chess for Ages 5 – 105: Brainblox Family Fun Chess

    Disclaimer: My family received a free Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox to review and enjoy with our family in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

    If you’re like me and have little to no experience playing the game of chess, you may be wondering how to teach kids to play chess when you don’t even know how to play yourself! Thankfully, Brainblox is here to help! They recently introduced a beautiful Family Fun Chess set to their product line and it’s so great.

    If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen me talking about it recently in my Instagram stories.  I also hosted a giveaway in partnership with Brainblox where we gave away one chess set to a lucky winner.

    What is Family Fun Chess?

    It’s a color-coded, FUN, learn-as-you-play game for kids and adults to learn chess!

    When it’s your turn, simply roll the Chess Cube to see which piece to move! The Reference Cards make it easy to learn-as-you-play, while the full-color Instruction Book and videos tell you everything else you need to know.

    The chess set includes:

    • a folding wooden chess board
    • 32 wooden chess pieces
    • 2 reference cards
    • a full color chess book
    • a wooden cube

    Learning how to play chess the “Family Fun” way was very easy to understand for me and my kids.  We found the reference cards to be super useful in helping us all understand how each of the chess pieces are able to move on the board during the game.  I also appreciate the fact that Brainblox included instructions for playing chess the standard way too.  This will come in handy once we’ve fully grasped the rules of chess and are ready to move on to learning how to play standard chess.

    The thing I love most about learning to play chess and teaching my kids to play is all of the benefits associated with understanding the game.

    Here are just a few of the benefits of playing chess:

    • increases concentration and memory
    • helps with paying attention to detail and strategic thinking
    • improves problem-solving and spatial skills
    • exercises both sides of the brain

    Even more importantly, I find learning to play chess alongside my children to be much more meaningful because offers quality time and experiences that we will remember for a lifetime. If you’re sold on learning to play chess with your little ones, you’ll first need to get your family a chess set.  If you can’t already tell, I’d highly recommend the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox.  It makes a great holiday or anytime of the year gift for ages 5 – 105!

    Not ready to invest in a chess set of your own yet?  You can also look into local chess clubs for kids in your area.  Find out if your child’s school or your local library has a Chess Club. That’s a great place to start, so kids can get basic instruction and have peers to play with.  There are also many online resources and apps available to use too.  You can choose to play against friends, connect with other players at your level, or get live or virtual tutoring.

    Your turn:  Do you or your children know how to play chess?  Are you excited to learn about the Family Fun Chess set from Brainblox?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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    literary road trip series, product reviews

    Literary Road Trip Series: Adorablue Travel Tray for Kids + A Giveaway!

    Have you ever wondered how your child can make better use of their downtime while traveling on road trips or running daily errands in the car?  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s okay to just look out the window and watch cars or people pass by.  However, if you’re looking for a travel tray to help keep kids entertained, I’d highly recommend the one made by AdoraBlue.  It’s convenient for kids to eat, draw, watch movies and most importantly it helps keep things organized.

    On one side of the tray, there is a station for kids to eat, play with toys (like the AdoraBlue Scavenger Hunter game) read books, or to watch/play on the iPad/tablet at eye level.  The erasable side is for drawing, writing and creating.  Yes, it’s reversible!

    I love the media tablet holder being secured by a zipped plastic pocket to keep it protected from accidental spills.  We all know how messy life can get with kids, right? I also like how versatile and portable the travel tray is.  You can either use it as a lap desk in the car/stroller, on a plane for various fun activities, or use it indoors sitting on the couch or in a restaurant.  The custom design appeals to boys and girls alike.  It also has easy access to a large storage with zippers and a built-in bumper to keep your space mess-free whether your child is creating a masterpiece or munching on snacks.

    Here are some of the features:

    • Made of a vegan leather surface that is is easy to clean and soft to the touch.
    • It buckles either around the child’s car seat or stroller.
    • It has large mesh storage pockets on the side and a 2 inch wall to stop food, toys, markers or crayons from falling.
    • It is ideal for short and long trips.
    • It’s portable!  It can also be used indoors at home on your couch or in a restaurant.
    • Fits most car seats and boosters.
    • Comfortable, safe and 100% waterproof.
    • Includes cup holders for baby bottles, water bottles or sippy cups
    • Erasable board for drawing and expressing creativity.
    • Contains 3 different stations to play, eat, draw or use the iPad/tablet in a zipped, waterproof casing.

    The best part?  Our friends over at AdoraBlue were gracious enough to sponsor an Instagram giveaway for one (1) travel tray.  In addition, for a limited time, our audience can get 40% off a travel tray as part of a Mother’s Day promotion.  Click here to get a travel tray using the 40% discount (discount applied at checkout).

    Connect with AdoraBlue!

    Website | Instagram | Facebook

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