Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review: Summer Sleep-Away

I recently was sent a copy of Summer Sleep-Away to review.
The book is a  a young adult novel by local Short Hills, NJ author Ofer Aronskind.
I have to say even though it was a young adult book I really enjoyed it!
It is the perfect time of year too, being summer and all.
Plus, the author made the main character Mattie Kleinfield completely relate-able.
Mattie is a shy boy whose parents send him to sleep away camp one summer.
On the bus ride there, and the first few weeks, he wants nothing more than his parents to come pick him up and get out of that place.
Which I think is pretty typical considering he is kind of a loaner at school and in his neighborhood.
Then in a turn of events, it turns out THIS is Mattie's summer.
Everything goes his way!
From becoming a sports star, to a camp hero, to securing the camp's cutest girl as his girlfriend!
In the end he enjoys camp so much that he doesn't want summer to end.
I particularly loved this book because I am a mom to three boys.
I loved the way the author told the book from a pre-teenage boy's view.
I will definitely be giving a copy of this book to my children when they are older and have already gifted a copy to a few of our pre-teen male cousins in the family.
Ofer Aronskind does a fabulous job of maintaining Mattie's innocence all the while sharing and showing you just how much he is growing and maturing at camp-and it is all done very tastefully.
I also think there is a bit of nostalgia in the book as least for me there was.
As a young, pre-teen girl, I wanted nothing more than to spend a summer at sleep away camp bonding with my bunk mates, doing each others hair, making friends, competing against other bunks, singing camp songs, and drinking "bug juice" aka a container of homemade juice supplied at breakfast, lunch, and dinner on every table in the dining hall!
This book was able to bring me right back to that point in my childhood and made me really, really enjoy it!

Ofer Aronskin is on Social Media as well.

 received a copy of Summer Sleep-Away as well as compensation. All opinions in this review are my own.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Can you DIG it?

I attended the Activation/Digger press conference and to celebrate their partner ship I was invited to stay the day at no charge.  All opinions are my own.

This past weekend a special group of ladies and I, along with our families, were lucky enough to be a part of two amazing organizations coming together for the greater good of their communities.
DiggerlandUSA and ActivationReact have officially partnered with one another to help those in their communities, in need, when disaster happens.
Yesterday my family spent the day at DiggerlandUSA and I have to say it certainly was a highlight of the summer for not just my boys, but me too!

As a mom of little boys my life for the past  8 years has revolved all things boy-including tucks, machinery, etc.
Dump trucks, diggers, backhoes, you name it my kids knew the name of the vehicle and what it was used for.
Well at DiggerlandUSA my boys got to live out their childhood dreams by actually driving-yes driving! a few of these amazing construction vehicles, and ride on the others. 
The way their eye's lit up, I know this is a memory they will hold onto for the rest of their lives. 
I even saw some of the dad's who were with their sons having the time of their lives as well!
Construction trucks and dirt....what little boy doesn't love that?!
I was also impressed with the cleanliness of the park, the attentiveness and up beat personalities of the park employees (who all dress like construction workers-its so cute!), and the short lines!
DiggerlandUSA isn't like every other amusement park that lets a crazy number of people in, to the point where the park literally is bursting at the seams and you are waiting 2 hours to get on a ride.
 Rather, they only let a certain number of people into the park, which is great because their is virtually no wait for any of the rides!
This is a HUGE plus in my book!
The day we went was 85 degrees and sunny....I'm talking so sunny there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
But not to worry-DiggerlandUSA has you covered-literally!
At almost every attraction their is a huge beach umbrella by the line, and there are many, many picnic tables spread all throughout the park that also have umbrellas.
So while it was really, really hot they make sure to provide as many places for shade as possible-which was key for my family!
The one and only thing I think DiggerlandUSA could improve upon is their snack stand.
The park opens at 10, but the snack stand doesn't open until 11. 
So if you have thristy/hungry girls and guys (like I did-especially on such a hot day),
there is only one soda machine located in the middle of the park-and it wasn't in service :(
Luckily one of the attentive workers called over a manager who could tell we were desperately in need of some hydration and he was kind enough to pop open the machine and hand us two bottles of water to hold us over until we hit the concession stand!
Honestly, I was really impressed with the way they handled this situation.

The highlight of the trip for my oldest (8) was the ropes course- which happens to be the WORLD'S tallest rope course at
 4 stories tall! 
My middle son (5) enjoyed their craziest ride called the spin dizzy, and my youngest guy (3) loved the toddler play park with all of the crazy slides!  
I left DiggerlandUSA this past weekend with my heart just about exploding!
My kids genuinely enoyed themselves and every attraction at DiggerlandUSA.
DiggerlandUSA allowed my boys to live out their childhood dreams, and in my book that is Priceless!
Regular admission to the park is $34.95 (walk up) and $29.95 (online).
I have a coupon code for $5 off ticket price through 8/31 by using coupon code

Both DiggerlandUSA and ActivationReact are both very active on social media and can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
 Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post but as always, all opinions are my own.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Different Place

This week our kids attended camp.
This was a first for our family.
I knew our oldest would flourish as large groups of people, less rules than usual, and platforms to express himself are right up his alley.
Our middle son didn't quite have the same experience-which totally suits his persona.
He had a harder time adjusting as we very well expected.
But on the very last day he showed us just what he was capable of!

This post probably isn't going where you think.
Yes my kids loved camp.
Yes they made lots of new friends, learned to play new games, felt self sufficient as they were forced to go out of their comfort zones, but most importantly they renewed and developed their relationship with Jesus.

Our family has really been in a rut the past few months.
Our church home has been in transition for about a year now.
Our young, amazing, fearless, welcoming, Pastor whom we loved, cherished, and who MARRIED us (hello!! that's a big one!) felt the calling to move to another church home in OHIO :(
And while our family was downright devastated by this news we decided we were going to stick it out.
We were going to stand strong, and continue to grow with our already centered church family.
The same church family where 2/3 children were baptised, who came together and got our family through my stroke, and where my husband took communion for the very first time-ever!
But a few weeks after our amazing pastor left....we could feel a piece of our hearts had left too.
It just wasn't the same. The sermons weren't the same, the service wasn't the same, and most of all the connection wasn't the same.
That fire that once was burned inside of me to completey devote our lifes work to our church and His word had gone out.
The passion and empowerment I once felt waking up and getting our family ready, heading out the door, and pulling into that parking lot no longer existed.
Something had changed. Shifted.
For the past couple of months I haven't been able to put my finger on what exactly it is, but there has been a huge void.
A void in my heart, in my head, in our family.
This week all that changed.

Each night that I came home from work and walked in the door I was flooded by overly excited, eager children who couldn't wait to tell me all about their day at camp.
They proudly told me all about their counselors, the games they played, the lessons they learned, and the friends they made.
But mostly what made my momma heart skip a beat happened probably on day #2 of camp.
I could hear them upstairs proudly singing a song at the top of their unison.
At first I listened very quietly, not wanting them to know I was listening for fear of them stopping :)
This is what I heard:

"Whatever is true, whatever is right,
whatever it pure, whatever is light
lead me in your wayeverlasting
 don't ever stop, don't ever stop"

"I saw the light
I saw the light
No more darkness
No more night"

When I tell you my momma heart was bursting at the seams....boy oh boy was it!!!
It straight up exploded!
My children. Our family. We NEEDED this.
We needed this connection. A refresher of our faith.
To see their little faces light up, hands in the air praising our Lord like that?! OH MY!!
There simply are no words for just how I felt. 
There is only tears.
Big ole hot tears welled up in my momma eyes.
Partly because it has been so long since I have been moved by a church service.
Partly because I finally had that calling, that pulling, that notion saying, "you're right where you are supposed to be"
and partly because it was one of those moments where every part of my heart and soul, all of my momma being, that I spend day in and day out pouring into these little ones of mine, is finally coming to fruition.
Right before my eyes.

I don't want their faith to be fleeting.
I don't want their faith to be this inconsistent-only use it when you need it-thing.
I don't want their faith to be uncomfortable and awkward.

I want them to be completly comfortable in their faith.
I want their faith to be second extension of who they are.
I want their faith to be the first thing they run to when they have a problem, and the first thing they go to, to give praise and thanks.

I want them to realize that all of our blessings come from above.
They come from Him.
And this week.....I saw that.