Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Student Body - Politically-Charged Film on Childhood Obesity

Politically-Charged Film on Childhood Obesity Releases Nationwide
Los Angeles, CA - January 24, 2017

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Michael Webber (The Elephant in the Living Room)
unleashes his politically-charged film, THE STUDENT BODY, on all major cable, satellite,
and digital platforms in North America. Winner of the 2016 Independent Spirit Award,
Webber’s ground-breaking new film tackles the heated topic of childhood obesity while shining a
critical light on the government's ill-conceived efforts to solve this global epidemic.

The Student Body follows the inspiring story of a shy high school student turned brave journalist
who seeks justice for her peers. In many states throughout the country, lawmakers have
passed controversial mandates forcing schools to perform body mass index (BMI) tests on students.
What soon followed sparked a heated national debate. Coined the “Fat Letters” by students,
notification letters were sent to kids whose body mass did not fall within a narrowly acceptable
range; essentially telling children, even as young as kindergarteners, that they are fat.  

When a determined sixth-grader in Ohio voices her protest against the letters, student journalist
Bailey Webber is inspired to take up her fight. Convinced that her fellow students are being
unfairly profiled and bullied by the government, Bailey's investigation soon turns into a battle of
wills between herself and the bureaucrats who passed the law.

THE STUDENT BODY is a true underdog story of two brave girls who take a stand against
government hypocrisy while exploring the complex and controversial truths of the childhood
obesity debate.

The 411:

I watched this award winning documentary late year featuring high schooler Bailey Webber. Bailey after hearing  Maddy a 6th grade student speak up at a School Board meeting how she felt after receiving a letter from her school stating she wasn't in a healthy weight range. The school apologized and all seemed well but it got Bailey thinking.  

The documentary is interesting, thought provoking and even funny. I loved how Bailey professionally interviewed all these adults on how this "fat letter" could go out and and affect children's lives then pull out a scale and ask each adult to get on the scale like the kids in scale were asked. It was interesting to see some of them decline and hear her say "to be given a choice, would you like that?"

Bailey spoke to health professionals, educators, other students and spent a long time trying to get the Senator in her state.  She is definitely fearless!!!  When she finally got her Senator meeting I cheered. While he handled the interview well I was just as annoyed as Bailey during the interview. When she hands the Senator the letter and he is almost surprised that Maddy "wasn't happy to get the letter at all" I wanted to scream.  The senator was sorry Maddy reacted the way she did. He feels doctors are incompetent and parents are clueless so he is standing by the need for BMI testing in schools. URGH! Then when Bailey pulls out the scale and the Senator is visibly nervous and confused and says I will do it but I think it is only fair that you warned me you were going to do this" I literally wanted to punch him. Really?! Would my son and daughter be given notice prior to being told to get on the scale at school? I think not!  

BMI is not a perfect, accurate measure of health so why are lawmakers putting so much emphasis on this number?

The last thing I would want my children to think about is a number that "the state" has decided is the "healthy range". Kids especially have enough to worry about at this awkward, uncomfortable time of their life. It killed me to hear these beautiful, healthy, thin kids talk about the letter they received telling them they are outside the "healthy range. How some went into their rooms and cried asking their mother if they were fat.

This is wonderfully done and if you take nothing away from this look at the tenacity of this young journalist. My tears flowed when at the end when Maddy and Bailey were going to hand out the "fat letters" the those who got on the scale during the interviews Maddy couldn't do it. She couldn't shame them!

To Purchase:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Young Adult Book Conductoid by M.B. Lehane

Fatherless Jack and Phoebe are completely non-identical twins. Jack's so vague he has daydreams within daydreams. He dreams he's a Conductoid. Beings from other dimensions can only use their powers on earth through him. But the days for dreaming are over. Just ask Jack's teachers. Don't they know lives will be lost? For the difference between the "impossible" and the "possible" is but two small letters.

And as for Phoebe, well, the twins are completely non-identical.

The 411:

I am always looking for books I can read with my kids and this is one of them We read often as a family and I need it to be something for Spring break they will both be into but also one I won't  hate reading again.  

M.B. Lehane combines every category I look for when selecting a family read; fantasy, adventure, humor, friendship, and great characters.  I enjoy reading a book before my kids so I can build on it as we read. I am excited to see what my kids think about Conductoid.

Conductoid is about a brother and sister much like my kids and while my kids are not twins like Jack and Phoebe they are completely different.

From the first page you are thrust into the daydream world with Jack. He can't help himself.  Jack is amazing in his dreams. Always the super hero and always saves the day. He even has a ceiling that rolls back so he can jet pack out of his bedroom anytime he is needed to save the world. Staying in reality isn't easy for Jack and why would he want to. He is constantly bullied, his mom doesn't seem to understand him. He and his sister don't get along and he is constantly in detention but what if Jack really is all he imagines. What if he is magical in other dimensions? What if he actually has powers.

The story isn't just about Jack and his specialty it is about family, trust, loyalty, perseverance and the secondary characters are just as important to the story too! I love Phoebe and Skye.

Like all the books this is being compared to; Harry Potter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Percy Jackson, even Lemony Snicket (not a bad book in the bunch) Conductoid is also a great read for a boy or girl.  

Head over to the Conductoid website and read Chapter 1 for yourself.

To Purchase:

Friday, February 24, 2017

Cooks 6-in-1 Digital Wonder Pot

Do you guys know what a Wonder Pot is? I had never heard of one until Phoenix Trading Company asked if I was interested in checking out the Cook's Companion Digital Wonder Pot.

Why is it called a Wonder Pot? Well my friends you can cook rice, steam, make soup, bake, stir fry, stew and keep everything warm with just the touch of a button.

Included In The Box

Cook's Companion 500W 3.2 QT Ceramic Nonstick 6-in-1 Digital Wonder Pot
Measuring Cup

It feels kind of like a crock pot where you throw everything in the pot BUT without the LONG wait. It took me 23 minutes to make rice, wheat berry and soup and I didn't have to tend to it. I just press the button and walk away until I hear the timer sound.

I love the size because my counter space is big and we need our kitchen appliances to be kept to a minimum. If it is on the counter, it is something we will be using often. The Cook's Companion is on the counter.

About Phoenix Trading Company:The name Phoenix comes from the mythical bird, the Phoenix, which is reborn to soar again. They have everything from clothes, shoes, handbags, health and beauty, and home and garden products. They purchase large quantities of out-of-season, overstock and clearance designer merchandise from national retailers and TV shopping channels, then pass the savings to you—on average offering our goods at 60% below retail. And by the way, the pictures of shoes and clothing you see on our site are the actual items that you’ll get in the mail. Nothing photo-shopped here.

: I received a complimentary product for my honest opinion. No monetary compensation was offered.

Getting Kids Off the Couch and Out the Door

As the ground starts to thaw and temperatures warm, it’s time to get the kids off the TV, iPod Touch and Xbox and outside to play. The task of peeling kids from their devices though isn't an easy one. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that excessive screen time for children aged 5 to 18 can lead to increased obesity, bullying and less sleep. They recommend families develop a family media plan that reflects your goals and rules for screen time. A balanced plan that includes outdoor play, exercise and face-to-face interaction is critical for healthy development of children.

Set Up Camp

Set up a fully stocked campsite in your backyard. Your campground can include a large tent with a rain fly, a fire pit (no real fire, of course, unless supervised), blankets and sleeping bags, old pots and pans for “cooking,” and a cooler with juice cartons and bottles so kids can pretend to make their own meals. When you can participate with them, unpack your propane stove and make pancakes, popcorn and s'mores just like if you were really at a state park. The bonus: You can easily disassemble the tent and take a real camping trip with your kids any time.

Play Lawn Games

Why keep the bean bag toss, bocce ball set and croquet stored away in the garage where no one ever remembers they exists? Get those dusty outdoor games out of the bins and set them up permanently for the spring and summer. If you don’t have many games, there’s many options for DIY carnival-style games such as bean bag tic-tac-toe, giant Connect Four or homemade Plinko. You can even keep a box of dollar store prizes for winners of games to choose from.

Bounce it Out

Is there a better way to get kids outside and exercising than with a trampoline? If your yard is big enough, invest in a trampoline large enough that you can join in the fun. A 12-footer is probably the minimum size for a couple kids to play at once; better to go bigger if you can afford it and have the flat yard space. When it gets really hot, place the yard sprinkler underneath and let the kids go crazy jumping and getting soaked. Another bonus: Trampolines are great for camping under the stars without a tent.

Make Nature Art

If your child is an aspiring artist or loves crafting, encourage nature crafts. Use the opportunity for a little learning too. You can turn the quest for outdoor items into a scavenger hunt. Give each child an empty egg carton and ask them to find 12 unique items, one for each egg cradle. With glue and cardboard at the ready, ask the kids to then create a picture using the 12 items, gluing them and designing around them with art pens. Kids can also collect flowers and learn to dry and press them, later using the dried flowers to make an art collage. Or, keep it simple and have kids find rocks and sticks they can paint.
Most important, be a good role model and demonstrate the behavior you want to see in your children. That means putting down your own iPhone. Go outside when they do, participate with them or if you can’t, find something you can do in the yard alongside them such as gardening or reading a book. Show them through your actions how fun it is to be outdoors and your kids will want to be outside more.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The College Bucket List by Kourtney Jason; Darcy Pedersen

The College Bucket List
101 Fun, Unforgettable and Maybe Even Life-Changing Things to Do Before Graduation Day
Kourtney Jason; Darcy Pedersen


Are you ready to experience the best four years of your life? Take a shot at half of the exciting ideas in The College Bucket List, and your first years of freedom will be absolutely legendary.

• Go on an epic road trip
• Throw an ugly sweater party
• Organize a student protest
• Buy your professor a drink
• Kiss someone you just met
• Audit a cool class just for fun
• Find the best late night taco truck
• Do a summer internship
• Visit friends at other colleges

The 411:

Over the past three years many nieces and cousins have started the path to college life. Some have gone away and some stay local but all have had wonderful experiences. College life is the first time some get to be responsible adults to some degree and most of us wish we could go back for a short time and relive or experience the world that is college life.

The College Bucket List is the perfect companion for someone going into college. It is a life changing experience and while it is a lot of work you should get the most out of it because it is the last time you get to just be without the stress of an full time job.

The book is broken down by section.

Things That Will Ignite Your School Spirit gets you started by suggesting things like Learn Your Fight Song and Participating in Traditions.

Things To Share On Social Media includes hashtags and suggestions taking epic trips, going camping and changing your look.

Things That You'll Treasure Years From Now mentions you should write a letter to your future self and starting a blog!

Things You Won't Regret Probably the chapter most parents will blush over has you possibly dating outside of your usual type, seeking out new music and organizing a protest. The blushing will be about the suggestions of having a one night stand, kissing someone you just met and doing the walk of shame. Oh College Life!

Things That Are Good For Your Health wants you to reel in all that partying. There is mention of a fitness program and recovery days after you party too hard.

Things Not To Tell Mom Or Grandma is the drinking chapter. See what drinking games are out there and go ahead...dance on a bar or two.

Things That Are A Rite Of Passage is where we get a little responsible and pay back the people who are there for you. Cook dinner for your parents, register to vote and be the designated driver are just a few of the really good suggestions in this section!

Things To Add To Your Resume helps beef up that piece of paper that will be your face for the next few years of your life. Join a club, do an internship and get a scholarship are among the suggestions here.

Things To Do With Your Friends That You Will Never Forget is going to round out your experience by hosting and organizing parties and making memories.

This is a great and fun read. I love the set up of the sections and the collegiate fonts used at the start of the sections. It is definitely a great idea as a high school graduation gift, something you leave behind when you move them into their dorm or sent in the first care package.

Can't wait to give this to my besties daughter (who I watched born just yesterday wasn't it?) when she starts college in September.

To Order:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary product for my honest opinion. My reviews are 100% honest and true based on my personal opinion not on a company’s description or request. No monetary compensation was offered or received

Opposing Teams Sibling Rivalry

The kids had a half day today. I picked them up and headed to my friend's house for a little while. The kids were playing with her dog and I noticed they were wearing Football Jersey's today. My son is a diehard FOOTBALL fan. He loves the sport but when asked over four years ago who his favorite team was he stated Dallas Cowboys. My husband is a life long NY Giant's fan. He hates the cowboys so it was only to be expected that his son would have an opposing team favorite. My husband and his dad didn't like the same team either. My daughter is NOT a football fan but her Daddy likes the Giants so she likes the Giants. Maybe one day she will find a love the sport. I have been trying for over 35 years and still can't get into it.

A Rainbow of Smoothie In A Bowl by Leigh Weingus

A Rainbow of Smoothie Bowls
100 Wholesome and Vibrant Blended Creations
 By Leigh Weingus  

Discover the coolest new trend for healthy eating based on the delicious açaí bowl of Brazil and Hawaii

Offering you a more nourishing alternative to greasy fast food and microwavable biscuits, this book’s 100 quick-and-easy recipes provide a wide array of beautiful and convenient creations. There are colorful photos and step-by-step instructions for preparing fresh and whole food packed smoothie bowls from easy-to-find ingredients, including fruit like açaí, dairy like Greek yogurt, and greens like kale. For extra flare, A Rainbow of Smoothie Bowls shows how best to top your bowl with oats, berries, coconut shavings or even chocolate flakes. The world of smoothie bowl creations is endless! A Rainbow of Smoothie Bowls offers the easiest way to whip up grab-and-go recipes like Matcha Vanilla Bowl, Butternut Squash Raspberry Bowl, Peanut Butter Maple Bowl, and more.

The 411:

With our February weather in New York hitting 60 today I am excited to make my first Smooth Bowl.  Have you ever heard of a Smoothie Bowl? Me neither until last year. Basically  you make the smoothie thick enough that you can eat it with a spoon in a bowl with a ton of fresh fruit and more on top.

In a Rainbow of Smoothie Bowls you will learn how to create 100 different smoothies broken up by season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Evergreen and Light Bowls.

The book also comes with 40 colorful photos so you can see how to plate your Smoothie.

A Smoothie bowl starts with something frozen, a liquid and fresh fruit and more for the top of the bowl.  For instance here is the recipe for the Cherry Pie Bowl.

I cannot wait to try it!

Don't these look amazing? So much fresh fruit. You can even add chocolate chips. 

With St. Patrick's Day coming here is the St. Paddy's Day Bowl. YUM!!! It includes Spinach, Banana and Almond Milk. 

What I love best about each recipe is that each one includes variations. This one had dried apricots, sliced kiwi and shredded unsweetened coconut.

You can order at Target, Barnes and Noble or below at Amazon. Just hit the link to get to the book.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary product for my honest opinion. My reviews are 100% honest and true based on my personal opinion not on a company’s description or request. No monetary compensation was offered or received

Spring Cleaning Can Be a Breeze! Get Your Home Organized, Clean and Ready for Spring

Step 1: Get organized and have the right tools

Have a plan. Make a realistic list of what you want to accomplish and stick to it. Also, make sure you have what you need in terms of equipment before you start: vacuum with extra bags, cleaning products, cloths, gas for the lawn mower, sharpened clippers for the hedges… whatever is on your list of things to tackle, make a secondary list of the tools you will need to get the job done. There’s nothing more distracting than having to stop everything to make a trip to the local supply store. Start with that, armed with your to do list, and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and delay.​ 

Step 2: Start with decluttering

There are two things that contribute to clutter. Number one is the fact that we often don’t put things in the right place — which is because we often don’t have a ‘right place’ for it. Two, we have too much stuff. This becomes patently obvious when you discover boxes in the basement of things that you never unpacked, from two moves ago!

There are four areas of the house that are typical clutter zones:

•    Kid bedrooms
•    Mud rooms or entrance ways
•    Dining room
•    Garage or sheds

For the kids bedrooms, see the tips below on how to ‘get everyone involved’. The mud room and garage are places where everyone tends to drop things on their way to another part of the house. So go back to the plan in Step 1 and figure out where everything is going to go. If everything has a place and everyone knows what those homes are, in time, fewer things will get dropped in the middle of the room.

You can add storage items to your mudroom or entranceway to make even the smallest space more efficient: Baskets for mittens and hats, racks for shoes and boots, hooks for bags. The garage or shed would benefit from the same treatment: hooks for shovels and rakes, metal storage racks with buckets for odds and ends.

As to the dining room? Make a new rule: anyone who dumps stuff on the dining table will find it in the garbage in short order (if it’s homework, you may just want to hide it away for a day or two!) The whole family will learn quickly enough!

Step 3: Get everyone involved

Speaking of learning, there are kids out there (somewhere) who are super efficient and keep their toys properly organized in color coded boxes, neatly stacked in the playroom. Okay… now back to reality. No kids do that, but they can learn to. They can learn that every toy, book and article of clothing has a home and that home is not the living room sofa.

If your kids are little, print a picture of whatever needs to go in which box, shelf or basket and tape it to the front of the receptacle, so they learn where everything goes. Cooperation is best achieved with a little incentive: the good stuff like video games or tablet time need to be dependent on having a tidy room and the prompt removal of toys from the common areas at the end of a day of playing…

Are you living with a tiny hoarder? It might be time for some ninja stealth action when they are out of the house and clear some of the toys from their rooms. Tip? Don’t throw the toys out right away. Store them in the basement or garage in a plain box for a month before tossing them, just in case it turns out you tossed out something they had their hearts set on keeping. Don’t worry: you’ll hear about it soon enough!

Step 4: Big items get done first

The sense of achievement you’ll feel if you get a few of the big things out of the way make the rest of the smaller tasks easier.

Like what?

•    Flipping and cleaning the mattresses (Tip: Throw some baking soda on your mattress and leave it for a few hours before vacuuming it of. It will neutralize any odors. You can also drag it outside for some sunlight, which has the same effect, but it’s not always a practical option!)

•    Steam cleaning the carpets (Need an easy fix for dents made by heavy furniture in the carpet fibers? Put an ice cube in each dent and let it melt. When it has melted and the area is dampened, take a cloth and blot the excess water and iron the area, again with a towel over top. Once the area is dry, you’ll be able to fluff up your carpet fibers so they look as good as new!)

•    Emptying and cleaning out the refrigerator or freezer
Once some of these bigger chores are done, reorganizing the junk drawer in the kitchen won’t seem daunting at all.

Step 5: Inside And out

Don’t forget to look beyond the walls of the house to the garden areas. Stand on the sidewalk or in front of your house and look at it: does it look like you could put it on the market to sell it? No? Time to add to the list from Step 1. Whether it’s a coat of fresh paint or a spray wash, fixing shutters or hanging baskets, trimming the bushes or raking up the leaves from last fall, there’s always plenty to do outside. This is another great area to get the kids involved, since they benefit from a breath of fresh air too! No job seems quite as bad with the sun shining on your head!

Art Freedman is the founder and CEO of Max Warehouse your one stop shop for all your home and garden needs from home organization and improvement, to auto and lawn care and everything in between. They have your back!  With free shipping over $50, you no longer need to spend your weekends in the aisles of home improvement stores. https://www.maxwarehouse.com/

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Backpack Raising Community Awareness

Sydney Paige and Rainbow Pack Unite
Buy One, Give TWO

It’s a huge month for Sydney Paige because of their recent team up with the new and inspiring philanthropy, Rainbow Pack. Rainbow Pack is a nonprofit organization started by founder Riley Joy Gantt when she was just ten years old with a dedication to providing elementary school students with educational tools they need to be successful learners no matter their financial circumstance. Sydney Paige has agreed to donate two of their premium backpacks for every bag purchased while Rainbow Pack has committed to fill all bags with their very own ‘homework’ supplies. This is a major twist to Sydney Paige’s Buy One/Give one mantra as they have implemented a Buy One/Give TWO model.

The Buy One/Give TWO program has been an amazing change and addition to Sydney Paige’s vision, and with the help of Rainbow Pack, they have both been able to raise awareness of the importance of education and give back to the community. Lead by young philanthropists at Rainbow Pack, it’s been an outstanding inspiration for Sydney Paige as they work together and give back.

See how Sydney Paige and Rainbow Pack have united to end the cycle of poverty:
  • Providing young students with the supplies needed to help further and encourage a higher education
  • Filling not one, but TWO donated backpacks with a full set of age-appropriate ‘homework’ supplies like pencils, erasers, crayons, etc.

Sydney Paige and Rainbow Pack both work hard to recognize the financial hardships low-income families face and have committed to dedicate their work to making a difference in the lives of underserved youth. Sydney Paige backpacks are made from eco-friendly materials of 100% cotton canvas, natural leather, nickel free hardware and/or recycled polyester and all Rainbow Pack’s ‘homework’ supplies are provided to give those children the opportunity to continue learning from home. 

For more information, please visit www.sydneypaigeinc.com

About Sydney Paige
Sydney Paige is a Buy One | Give One benefit company, giving children in need quality backpacks and school supplies to help them learn and thrive in school. www.sydneypaigeinc.com

About Rainbow Pack
Rainbow pack  has been dedicated to providing elementary school students with the supplies they need to be successful learners. They give the supplies out with a team of volunteers at back-to-school events, as well as sending the message that they believe in their power as young people. www.rainbowpack.org