Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Greatest Showman- Reimagined album Review

This post is sponsored by Atlantic Records but all opinions are my own.  
Did you know The Greatest Showman - Re-imagined album comes out TOMORROW, Friday, November 16th? It showcases songs from the film, all written by GRAMMY®, Tony, and Academy Award-winning duo Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (La La Land, Dear Evan Hansen) covered by a remarkable cast of artists! The stars include Kesha, Missy Elliott, Panic! At The Disco, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles,Ty Dolla $ign, James Arthur, Zac Brown Band among others. Want to know my personal thoughts on the album as I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview?? 
The Greatest Showman movie was one of the most heartwarming films I have seen in a very long time. From talented vocalists to inspiring themes of humanity this film has it all. I felt so emotionally connected to the characters and what would unfold right up until the very end. This album had some major shoes to fill because after watching the movie it needs to deliver in the same manner. I am happy to report that I feel it has. It is my opinion that these artists truly gave you another reason to sing these theme songs. Each one giving you a little twist in their particular version. In some cases I prefer the artist verison of the song verses the movie! My personal favorite: This Is Me by Kesha. I honestly enjoy this version over the movie song and want it on my play list! 
Here is the complete track listing for the album: 
1.The Greatest Show – Panic! At The Disco A Million Dreams 
2. P!nk -A Million Dreams (Reprise) 
3. Willow Sage Hart -Come Alive  
4. Years & Years and Jess Glynne -The Other Side  
5. MAX and Ty Dolla $ign -Never Enough  
6. Kelly Clarkson This Is Me (The Re imagined Remix) 
7. Keala Settle, Kesha and Missy Elliott Rewrite The Stars  
8. James Arthur and Anne-Marie Tightrope  
9. Sara Bareilles - From Now On  
10. Zac Brown Band 
BONUS: 
The Greatest Show -Pentatonix 
Come Alive - Craig David 
This Is Me - Kesha

Have you seen the movie??
Are you excited to hear the NEW re-imagined album?? 
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Celebrate Family Caregiver’s Month this November

Today I want to share a little about my care giving over the past few years. This post is in conjunction with Family Caregivers and AARP, I could not be more thrilled! I hope you find this not only beneficial but insightful! If you are a care giver, know you are NOT alone!
This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
When I was 16, I moved out of my Mom's home and rented an apartment. We both needed time to recover from years of abuse. It was hard, I worked a full time job while putting myself through high school. When I graduated I moved around until I officially had a 2 bedroom apartment on my own. Sure I dated but taking care of my younger brother was my priority. At one point I turned down my engagement to my long time relationship because they were deploying and I wasn't ready to leave my brother. You could argue that I have been in the "Care giving" role most of my life and you would be right! 
Luckily as I got older, my Mother and I, mended our fences. I truly can say I would be a complete wreck if I ever loose her!
Can I just take a moment and say though that Care giving is HARD! They defined "caregiving as providing support with basic functional (e.g., help with eating, bathing), household (e.g., meal preparation, help with shopping),  medical/nursing tasks, and arranging and coordinating care.
I remember the first time I was put in the Care giving role with my Mom. She just had a hip replacement which grew a nasty infection following. It was so bad she was emitted to a hospital 2 1/2 hours away. They would not allow me to spend the night and watch over her (in a college town there was no hotels rooms to be had). So, I drove to be with her everyday for 10 days (200 miles round trip). I watched her slip further and further away from me. That day I realized parents aren't the superheros you have made them out to be. She was a fragile human just like the rest of us.
When she finally came home we were her around the clock care. Bathing, feeding, cleaning and emptying her incisions. No one ever prepares you for this. What can I say it's gross, it's embarrassing, it's humbling but it's necessary. Sure I could have shipped her to a facility but she's my Mom. I wanted to care for her. The same women who changed, fed and bathed me as a child needed me. 
Can I give you some advice? TAKE BREAKS! If you are in the situation of caring for another make sure you are also taking care of yourself. This was such a hard lesson. I would joke how one of the major aspects of my life was a mess in order to fill the others. My house was clean, my Mom and family was taken care of, but I was a MESS! 
Finally my spouse gave me the best advice I could honestly pass along. If you are not making sure you take care of yourself you are no good to anyone! Think of yourself as a cup full of water. Each time you give a little water leaves your cup. You need to keep replenishing your cup daily or you will be empty. 
Did you know that Caregiving is one area that touches every generation. Surprisingly, 24% of the 40 million family caregivers in the United States are Millennials (those born between the years 1980 and 1996). The proportion of this group holding full time jobs is higher than any other generation, yet they are the least likely to identify as caregivers or talk about their unpaid family responsibilities in the workplace, minimizing the opportunities for support.

So, if you are a care giver...you are NOT alone! Can I promise you will not get frustrated and the person you are caring for won't get on your nerves? No, I fight weekly with my mother over silly things like taking her to Physical Therapy. Not because we are bad people but this is a HUGE adjustment for both of us. She depends on ME! She is used to coming and going as she pleases and now can't drive. Plus, I am the one in charge, most parents have a hard time taking orders especially from their kids. 
It's hard, but we get through it one appointment at a time. 
Since it is Family Caregiver’s Month this November, we are reflecting on our personal care giving journeys! I hope sharing a little about my journey helps. I also want to share some amazing resources that WILL help you along your way!



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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Holiday Clean Up with Mean Green

Christmas is fast approaching and I am already overwhelmed. This year we will have not just our family but our hockey players as well. If you have followed some of my past remodeling posts you might remembered we refinished our entire basement. This was to host hockey players down there. They come in from all over the world and play for our local NAHL team. They are a talented bunch of guys who really have devoted their lives to the sport in hope to sign with colleges. It has been such a great experience for our family. 
**I received a free products to facilitate my review. I was not required to write a positive review in any way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
It has also been a gigantic learning experience. I now have teenagers in and out of my home where we once only had our nine year old. Talk about adjustments. With the Holidays coming I needed a game plan because I don't want to be embarrassed by my homes state. The first thing I have control over is the organization and cleanliness of our home. 
 Instead of stressing over the amount of work cleaning up will be. Have a plan and use quality products! I could not stress to you enough that using quality products really do make the difference. Check out the Mean Green line of products I swear by them!!
My next piece of free advice on getting ready for the Holiday Clean up?? Ask for help. I know I am not the only parent who feels overwhelmed. Yet, we rarely ask for help. No one in my house can read my mind. Even if I have asked for help and they managed to wiggle out of dong something this is the time to remind them. I am not suggesting you nag them but Tis the Season of giving. I am sure they do not want their dirty laundry out when company comes over.
My last piece of advice before the Holiday Season is in full swing? Enjoy it! Stop stressing over all the small little things and remember to enjoy it. These years are precious. Try not to waste them.
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Friday, November 9, 2018

Give back to Nurses and Doctors this Holiday Season with CharMED

 Who enjoys the Holiday Season coming up? Christmas is fast approaching and I have been busy putting together my 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for you all! Gift giving can be so stressful! Anyone else feeling the pressure?? You want to get the right gifts for your family and friends without breaking the bank. Who do you even buy for and where should you cut off your spending? We have a  pretty long list of people we buy for but I shop all year to accommodate it. 
Want to know the people who are usually forgotten.....nurses, doctors and medical personnel. 
When was the last time you "Thanked a Nurse"??
Compensation was provided by charMED via Momtrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of charMED or Momtrends. 
I remember studying for the Nursing exam while working full time. It was so incredibly hard. I remember stressing out, using index cards, I was a wreck!! At the end of the day it's worth it because ever day you have the opportunity to literally save a life! If they are not touched by your bedside manner, you are touched by there perseverance or personal life story. 
It's truly a job no one really "wants" but we would be lost if no one did. 
Since I know many of you have a nurse, doctor or Medical professional on your list I wanted to give you a gift suggestion!! 
Let me introduce you to CharMED charms! They are the perfect yet discreet option for the medical field people on your list! 
These Stethoscope charms will help the medical professionals in your life, personalize their stethoscopes. How cool is that!! Trust me the boring white lab coats and light blue scrubs get old day after day! With these CharMED stethoscope charms you can add a tiny little hint of style and flair, that patients, especially kids, will love!! 
You can select from numerous options: monograms to coffee cups or even tiaras! I personally selected: Breast Cancer ribbon (for my Grandmother who lost her battle and because I am a survivor), The "Mom" charm because being a parent was the greatest gift ever given to us and the "Coffee" charm because without it this walking Mombie in the morning would not be able to function let along help anyone! I can't wait to hear what you think of this gift idea!!
Do you have a Medical professional on your list??
Which CharMED would suit them, Check the styles out here.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

My Game Day Spread using Krusteaz

 When the cooler temperatures start to filter in many Americans, including us celebrate the football season. From Fantasy football competitions to watching our favorite teams take to the turf. One of MY favorite part of enjoying the games?? Creating an elaborate game day spread and enjoying it with family of course!! If you have ever met a Buffalo Bills fan, you may know we are just a TAD bit over the top and extremely passionate about this sport! I mean if we have cheered a loosing team for this many years clearly we are DEDICATED!!

This post was in collaboration with Krusteaz. All opinions and photos are 100% my own.

My first piece of advice if you are to have a Game party at your house...make LOTS of food. Let me take this time to thank Krusteaz for sponsoring this beautiful Game Day spread. My family LOVED the food and we are rather excited for this weeks games!
This past Sunday I made two kinds of Krusteaz cornbread, ordered a ton of wings and set out finger foods for the kids! The cornbread was such a hit! I simply cooked it in cake pans and sliced it like a pie. 
This made the pieces easy to place on a plate or napkin. 
Even the kids enjoyed the elaborate spread I put out this week. I love inviting the whole family over and enjoy the game. As we pass down our love of the game they enjoy running around the house screaming "touchdown"!
 
Need some suggestions for a Game day party at your house. Set out easy to make foods. We found these Krusteaz mixes at our local Wegmans. You can also find them at Tops Friendly Markets, Dollar General or online here.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

How to create a Scavenger Hunt

We have really been trying to get outside and enjoy the Fall leaves.
A few years back I created a great Fall game for us to play, a Scavenger Hunt.
What you need:
An excited, fun loving child
Ziploc bag
A notebook to write the Alphabet on 
Set out to find things Fall related and collect them in your bag. His first item was a yellow Leaf. You simply place it in the bag and write "Leaf" next to the letter "L" since it starts with an "L". This teaches children to learn as they play this game.
The first time we played I decided to add the "no living" things in the bag rule! When out you might also see cigarette buds, not something I think you want children picking up, so add rules for those as well! 
Also teach them not to touch things that could cause them harm. Education can happen around ever corner. There is so much to learn and teach little ones these days. We always find several Fall things. At first my son didn't understand the game but picked it up quickly. 

Do you make up fun games to play with your little one's??
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Monday, October 22, 2018

My thoughts of Francesca Battistelli album "Own It"

If you enjoy Christian music, like I do, you may have heard of Francesca Battistelli before. I am so excited, to share in spreading the news, that her new album, “Own It”, is coming out!! In today's post I will share my favorite songs, all her tracks included and a little behind the scenes on making this particular album!


I’ve partnered with Word Entertainment for this sponsored review. All opinions are my own.
Battistelli exclaims. "These songs are so empowering. What they represent to me is my desire to own my identity in Christ, to kick fear out of my life, to own the present moment and not live in the past or even the future. I don’t want to walk in half of what God has for me. I want to walk in all of it. I want to own it! And I want that for everyone who listens too"

As far as this particular album she states: "I thought I had a handle on what this album was going to be, but my husband and I prayed before every songwriting session, and God gave me a completely different set of songs than I was expecting (Francesca Battistelli website)."
One of the first songs I heard was: "This Could Change Everything".
In the second verse the lyrics really hit home for me:
"Every new sunrise is one step closer
It's a sign in the sky that the fight's not over
So face the world, it's now or never
This is the moment, let it begin".
A little back story on why... I was abused at a very young age up until I was 16. Christian music truly saved me during this time. I was a lost soul until I found God. Many years during (and after) the abuse I clung to my new found faith through music. When I hear an artist sing about grasping to face the world it just brings me back to how far I have come as a person. I never gave up but instead saw it as a sign that the fight was NOT over! Even in times I thought taking my life was my only option. 
This song was such a powerful reminder of my strength that over came these past obstacles. 
Which brings me to my next favorite song... Royalty.
If you are feeling alone, worthless or wanting a place to belong...this song captures how faith can help! "Worthy and Wanted", "Crowned in dignity" are just a few phrases, in this song, I listen to on repeat. I think everyone needs to be reminded we are so loved and wanted!
I hope this song (and album really) lifts you up and inspires you as much as it has me!
Francesca Battistelli album "Own It" debuts on October 26th!! 
Track Listing: 
1. The Breakup Song 
2. The Very Best 
3. Love Somebody 
4. Royalty 
5. This Could Change Everything 
6. As Good As It Gets 
7. You Belong 
8. Let The Light In 
9. Defender (feat. Steffany Gretzinger) 
10, Freedom
You can pre-order it here>>http://bit.ly/OwnItPre
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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Drive the way you want your teen to drive

The First Year of driving for Teenagers are among the most exciting and dangerous. The number one killer for teens are car crashes. "More than 12 young people losing their lives in car crashes each day.  As their parents, we want to keep them safe—and we can, if we understand the risks teenagers face. We can help them beat the odds by staying involved as they gain experience over that first year. 
This is a sponsored post to encourage safe driving. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.
Teens crash most often because they are inexperienced – not because they take more risks behind the wheel. 
Here are some common risks/reasons:
-->Other teen passengers
 -->Texting while driving. Encourage them to drive NOT text!
--> Inexperience driving at night (most crashes happen between 9 pm to midnight.
--> Not wearing Seat belts!

If they do get caught in a crash, teach them how to handle the situation! When we were in an accident (the first picture in this post) it was important to stay level headed and get help. A driver slide through a stop sign and T-boned us. I was unconscious with a back injury. Luckily our little one was unharmed but it was rather scary for the next few hours. 
By calling for an ambulance, calling our insurance company we were able to get help immediately. Because I was injured we needed a tampa personal injury attorney. Something I never thought I would need but this is what happens when people drive without insurance and there is medical bills to be paid!
 We can help them beat the odds by staying involved as they gain experience over that first year, as they transition from novice to experienced driver. 

Practice with new drivers: Sit beside them as they drive and schedule 30 minutes of practice time each week—before and after they get their license—to check in and see how they are doing. Set a good example: Drive the way you want your teen to drive. Your sons and daughters have learned from you all their lives. They don’t stop learning now that they have their license. 
How did you learn how to drive?
What helped you learn to drive??
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Monday, October 15, 2018

Streaming with Google Chromecast Streaming Media Player

Last year we finally got our house into this century by purchasing new tech gadgets ðŸŽ§!! Where cords once ran from this system to the next the Chromecast Audio eliminated them all together using our Wifi instead! We could also stream crystal clear high resolution sound anywhere we went. This year it was time to switch things up the the new Google Chromecast Streaming Media Player! 


The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.
We can NOW stream from our phone to our TV!! Just by plugging the Chromecast into the HDMI port on our TV. This allows us to watch shows, listen to playlists, play games, and enjoy over 2000 apps (like Netflix, YouTube, YouTube TV, and HBO NOW).
I set up my devices in just a few minutes using my phone, but you can set up the Chrome Audio from a tablet, computer or even your car.
Best part?? Chromecast and Google Home work seamlessly together!! I can now say “Ok Google, play Stranger Things from Netflix on my living room TV.” 
VOLA, I have upgraded my TV without buying a new Smart TV!! Perfect device to give as a gift especially if you have a teen in college!!
Watch movies, shows, live TV, YouTube, and photos streaming on your TV from all of your family’s devices.

How would you use the new Google Chromecast Streaming Media Player?
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Be an Upstander, the fight against Bullying

This post is in collaboration with Forward Influence Network. All opinions (and memories!) are my own.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month! If you have kids in school you might have already known that because they usually do a week long program on it. Now is a GREAT time to talk to your little one's (and big one's) about bullying both in person and online. I would love to say that my son who is currently in fourth grade has never been the victim of bullying but that is not the case. It seems to be the norm and I would love to encourage that to change!
So many of the kids, that walk through the hallways, have had been bullied or watched it happen. Now with computer labs becoming part of the school curriculum and Social Media being so popular; kids are now also being bullied online. Let us open up the conversation and be an Upstander! 
What is an Upstander you ask??

An Upstander fights bad behavior and stands up for kindness and positivity.

With the young generation growing up on technology we need to remember to teach safe practices. I have partnered with Google, today, to give you some great resources that I think will help you not only start a conversation but fuel your children as they experience bullying both in person and online!
First let's talk about the Be Internet Awesome campaign!! Google’s created this free multifaceted program designed to teach kids the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety so they can explore the online world with confidence. The program is available in English and Spanish!! Consisting of an an adventure-packed online game about digital safety! Kids will have fun learning about internet safety along with other valuable resources.
These resources include playingInterland with your kids at g.co/KindKingdom and put your kindness skills to the test!
The five areas they focus on for Internet awesomeness are: 
SMART: Where we learn to share with care 
ALERT: Where we learn not to fall for fake 
STRONG: Where we learn how to secure Our digital stuff 
KIND: Where we learn that itʼs cool to be kind 
BRAVE: Where we learn that, when in doubt, we talk it out 
Online, you’ll find the teacher curriculum and family guide (coming soon!) - a complete resource on the basics your family can build on and play with or learn together.
As I stated in the beginning many students have either been bullied or seen bullying first hand! 
Let's try and encourage our young to help those 71% of students who have witnessed bullying to become an Upstander rather than a bystander! 
Here are a few tips:
1. Tell an adult. Often times kids never say anything which can drastically increase the chases of the bullying to continue.
2. Find a way to support the person being targeted. 
3. Calling out the mean behavior when it is safe to do so!
We all want our children to have the best experiences in school. It is no surprise to any of us that they will have struggles along the way. If we open the lines of communication and address problems as they happen these negative experiences will become fewer and less common!
Learn more about how to Be Internet Awesome g.co/BeInternetAwesome. Also be sure to tell your kids’ teachers or other parents about the online curriculum so they can introduce these activities in the classroom!!
Have you ever been bullied?
Has your child ever been bullied, How did you handle it??
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Monday, October 8, 2018

Parenting through the Years

This post is sponsored by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. All opinions (and memories!) are my own.
THEN:
How I could fit you in my lap while I bottle feed you. How you were determined to do things yourself even when I offered to help. How you knew every lunch lady, janitor and worker by name in your school because you love to make people smile.

NOW:
How you can play video games for hours after a long day of practice and work. How I hear the funny things you say to your buddies when they come over to hang out. How determined you are to get a full college scholarship through your immense hockey talent. 

Watching kids grow up can be so hard. We have to let them go sometime, this video touched me in the feel good places:

It goes hand-in-hand with this piece from Dr. Ken Ginsburg at the Center for Parent and Teen Communication. It helps to remember all the things I loved about babyhood and see that a lot of it repeating in the teen years. Check out this new resource because we could all use a guide on this parenting journey.

What are some of your favorite babyhood memories? 
What are your teens excelling in now?

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Monday, October 1, 2018

Sharing about Celiac Disease & Schär products

Enjoy this feature from Allison Slagle, one of my writers, as she shares about Celiac Disease. 
In 2013, a year after my sons birth, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Celiac disease is an auto-immune condition in which your body will attack the lining of your intestine (the part that absorbs nutrients) when you ingest anything with gluten in it. Gluten is a protien that is found in many grains including: Wheat, Rye, Spelt, and Barley. Gluten is found in so many of today’s products. If you look at any number of grocery store staples, you will find that more often that not, the items are not safe for folks with celiac disease. It is estimated that as close to 1/100 people have celiac disease and most do not even know they have it. If you are celiac, ingesting gluten can cause a wide variety of symptoms including gastrointestinal issues, skin issues, anxiety, sleeplessness, weight problems and malnutrition. Luckily, celiac disease has been taken much more seriously in recent years and we have trustworthy, safe, and delicious companies to buy our gluten free items from. One of those companies is Schär gluten free. One of the industry’s leading brands, I can walk into any grocery store and have the ability to pick up a Schär product! In my opinion, Schär does gluten free products perfectly. They sell items that are brilliantly packaged and offer fantastic alternatives for the items I remember eating before my diagnosis. Since gluten is responsible for elasticity of bread and dough, Schär has come up with awesome recipes in their products to mock that classic bread taste! I absolutely love their bread products. The artisan bread collection is just perfect for lunchtime sandwich making.
Schär also has quite an extensive line of treats, sweets, and snacks. Living with celiac disease used to mean giving up everything you loved, now these items are made with celiac customers in mind and are available in the store just like everything else. The chocolate grahams are perfect to bring to a fall bonfire for celiac safe s’mores. They are a wonderful sweet treat that in my opinion is sturdier and more flavorful than a traditional graham cracker.
At any given time, I have a number if Schär products in my pantry. I am so thankful for the care and concern they take for individuals with dietary restrictions. I love that taste and convenience of their product line and will always continue to support them. I look forward to seeing the new products that Schär continues to introduce for me and my family!
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