Thursday, April 28, 2016

Contest: Home & Family/Retail Me Not

Home & Family has partnered with Retail Me Not to do a giveaway for Mother’s Day.

The contest is simple, all you have to do is upload a video of your kid/kids telling us WHY YOU ARE THE BEST MOM IN THE WORLD! All entries must be under 30 seconds & the 10 winning videos will be announced on our Home & Family FB page on Friday, May 6. Happy Mother's Day from Home & Family!
Upload your video by using the hashtag #‎HFMomGiveaway on Twitter & Instagram, or click this link here:

Amazing Apps: My Conscience, My Choice

It's important to make sure the food brands you buy live up to its claims, especially when it comes to healthy eating. 
Dory Kurowski created her app, My Conscience, My Choice ( to provide a simple resource to find and buy eco-friendly, cruelty-free and natural alternatives to most consumer food products.
Unlike other apps out there, she does ALL the research herself.
My Conscience, My Choice app has:
    Suggestions for alternative products to your favorites
    The option to scan labels as you shop
    Offers the option to buy brands right through the app
    Costs only $1 to purchase the app

Amazing Apps: Sketches II

Tayasui, a French independent development studio pioneer in the design and publishing of mobile applications, recently launched Sketches II (Pro version here) for the iPad and iPhone, the latest release to the company’s popular Sketches family, which has more than 20 million downloads to date. This new version of the award-winning Sketches application has been entirely reengineered with the support of a new 64 bits engine specifically created to respond to the 300,000+ weekly active users requests and expectations. This major update features even more powerful and realistic brushes, a streamlined interface, incredible watercolor effects and 4 new highly demanded tools : cutter, smudge, ruler and ink.

The new redesigned user interface in Sketches II delivers an overall top-notch organization, enabling to mix both Portrait and Landscape images with an improved drawing management system and access to import and export made much easier. On iPhone the UI has been completely rethought for a much better fit to this particular medium.

Sketches II includes a new watercolor engine, with a never seen before “wet brush” that improves greatly the blending of colors and gets textured when “drying”. An unlimited number of shades and colors can now blend seamlessly for further realism. Pastels and Acrylic paints have also been reworked from the ground up in order for the users to better mix the colors and facilitate a variety of techniques and effects. Added to that the new smudge brush allows artists to brush over existing colors to blend them together.

Lastly, a set of new tools wraps this souped up version. The cutter, which permits to cut and paste and duplicate part of a drawing. The smart ruler, which simplifies horizontal and vertical outlines and a new incredibly realistic Ink pen.
Sketches II is the most comprehensive, versatile and user-friendly sketching app ever designed for a mobile device. This exhaustive artist's toolbox helps you create dazzling sketches, cheerful paintings and smashing illustrations anywhere you are.
Current owners of Sketches will automatically benefit from the upgrade to Sketches II without any additional purchase. The new features will only be available for the Sketches II Pro version or through IAP purchase.

Device Requirements:
* Compatible with iPhone, iPad
* Requires iOS 8.1 or later
* Optimized for iPad Pro and Apple pencil
* 86.8 MB

About Tayasui
Tayasui is a French independent mobile applications developer, focusing on delivering playful and creative applications with a special dedication to user-friendly interfaces. Since the successful launch of its first application Talking Carl, which was showcased in 2011 at the New York MoMA exhibition Talk to me, the Tayasui community keeps growing with more than 20 million downloads to date.

Parenting Pointers: Avoiding Adoption Scams

Each year in the USA, more than 135,000 adoptions take place annually. About 13,000 to 14,000 of these adoptions involve babies who are voluntarily relinquished domestically.  Of non-stepparent adoptions each year, approximately 59 percent are from the child welfare system, 26 percent are international, and 15 percent are voluntarily relinquished domestic infant adoptions.  Most of the time, the adoption process goes very-well especially when a mother or father or family gets to hold the adoptive child in their hands for the first time.  However, there is some adoptions scams that every consumer should be aware and alert for if starting the adoption process.  

Executive Director of The Adoption Consultancy Nicole Witt from Tampa Bay, FL has rounded up "red flags" that could lead to an adoption scam and ways to avoid this happening to you
  • PERSONAL CIRCUMSTANCES: If a birth mom has placed a baby (or babies) for adoption before, but her personal circumstances have changed significantly. Generally, a birth mom having placed before can be a positive sign for the likelihood of an adoption going through because she knows what to expect from the process emotionally. But, if her circumstances have changed to the point that she’s in a much better position to raise a baby, then she may take her knowledge of ‘how the system works’ just to make money during the pregnancy.
  • IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY: If the birth mom is very focused on the finances. Has lots of extreme drama and urgent, last-minute needs for funds.
  • WATCH OUT IF BIRTH MOM SAYS "TWINS": Says she’s having twins. She knows this is something many pre-adoptive parents long for. Fact check.
  • ISN'T TRUTHFUL ABOUT WHY SHE CHOOSE YOU: She says she found you online but can’t give you details about where, when or why she selected you.
  • NEEDS A PLANE TICKET TO USA: She claims to be stuck in another country (often Cameroon) and needs money/a plane ticket to get to the U.S. so she can place the baby with you.
  • NO AGENCIES INVOLVED: Says she doesn’t want to work with an agency/attorney but just wants to deal directly with you.
  • CLOSED ADOPTION: Says she wants a closed adoption. This can certainly be a legitimate circumstance but it’s a circumstance to be cautious of. The less interaction she has with you, the better for someone who is scamming.
  • DOESN'T ASK FAMILY FOR DETAILS: A birth mom who wants to match with a family very quickly and seems to not take much interest in the details of the particular family.
  • RESEARCH AND REVIEW BACKGROUND: Check IP address of all online communications and make sure they match up with what the birth mom says.
  • WORK WITH ADOPTION PROFESSIONALS: Work with reputable adoption professionals who have a strong track record and agencies/attorneys who are having in-person interaction with the birth mom. Try to meet her in person yourself.
  • NEVER HAVE THE BIRTH MOM CONTACT YOU DIRECTLY: If you advertise online, don’t have the birth mom contact you directly. Instead, have her go through your agency/attorney.
  • CHECK GOOGLE IMAGES: When you get a sonogram picture/proof of pregnancy/picture of the baby (child), search Google images to see if a public image was used.
  • NEVER, EVER SEND CASH: Never send a birth mom money directly. Always have that handled through a reputable agency/attorney.

Book Nook: The Whole Truth: What the Spotlight team of the Boston Globe fail to uncover about Sexual Abuse in America

The Child Maltreatment report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children's Bureau reports that upwards of 61,0000 cases of child sexual abuse have been reported in the United States in one year. This number does not include the thousands of children that are suffering in silence, afraid to come forward.
The Whole Truth: What the Spotlight team of the Boston Globe fail to uncover about Sexual Abuse in America 
exposes the breadth of the bias against the Catholic Church using the child sexual abuse dilemma in society as a means for headline news. An amazing and liberating story told by the most credible and unprejudiced source, Joe Klest, the attorney who has successfully obtained a $28 million jury verdict in one of the highest awards in a sexual abuse case. In Joe's research he has found that there is no statistical evidence that shows more abuse occurred in the Catholic Church than in any other institution or organization. The problem is similarly present across all religions, organizations or nationalities. The Whole Truth by Joseph Klest sheds light on the overwhelming reform that has transformed the Catholic Church into a blueprint for prevention and intervention of abuse. The steps you can take to protect your children from abuse and the legal recourse available if your child has been abused.

I had a chance to read the book. It is a tough read, just because of how widespread the issue is. However, it was helpful, especially with some of the legal and protection tips that it provides to parents.

About the Author:

Author Joe Klest is a Chicago native who has practiced law for over 30 years. He is highly respected by his peers and is nationally recognized for his work in helping abuse victims. Mr. Klest has obtained significant outcomes for the victims of sexual abuse and assault. An especially notable result is a milestone victory for sexual abuse victims involving a $28,000,000 verdict in the matter of Snyder v. Kenny. The verdict represents the largest civil sexual abuse verdict in Illinois history and is among the largest in the nation. He is the coauthor of Illinois's 2003 Child Protection Act, which expanded the statute of limitations to allow more victims to sue their abusers, and was a member of the American Association for Justice – Childhood Sexual Abuse Litigation Group.

Money Makers:

That old cell phone can be put to new use - and land you extra cash! will buy pre-owned consumer electronics. The process is easy – just look up your old device on and receive a cash offer. Gazelle sends packaging materials and pays shipping costs. Then just wait for a quick payment by your choice of check, Gift Cards or PayPal.

Americans send 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills every year  and most of the clothes could have been worn again The clothes kids have outgrown can now be turned into cash to support their school. Former school principal Stacey Boyd founded Schoola as a fix for the devastating school budget cuts that are affecting schools nationwide. Parents donate gently used clothing and Schoola sells the items online with money going right back to the schools from where the items were collected.

ecoATM kiosks offers another way to get instant cash for old, unwanted, electronics. It’s easy to find one at many stores and malls nationwide. Simply plug an old smartphone or tablet into the machine and receive cash for it right from the dispenser! It’s also a great way to safely dispose of broken phones so they don’t end up in a landfill.

Book Nook: The Golden Princess

I love how many princess stories nowadays deviate from the "boy saves girl and falls in love" formula. I had a chance to review another new princess story, "The Golden Princess," by L.R. Garner. His main character, Alice, was written with growth in mind, following her journey from age eight and on through college years. The novel was written in a unique way, with letters he wrote to relatives containing pieces of the story, which eventually formed into the novel. My own eight-year-old enjoyed reading it, even though the character ended much older than she is now. I found it a good book for anyone who is going through a growing up phase right now.

About the author
L.R. Garner is a New Zealand Army veteran, serving in Borneo and Vietnam. For his final posting in the army, Garner served as the Director of Defense Movement and a Transport Member of the National Civil Defense Committee. He is the Genealogical Secretary of the New Zealand Branch of the Jardine Clan Society.

Fun Freetime: Double Ditto

Double Ditto is a fun party game that challenges participants to quickly come up with answers to simple subjects, such as commands for a dog, things that scare kids, and so on. With 400 category cards, there are plenty to add variety, and the short 15-second timer keeps the game moving quickly. 
The point of the game is to match other players' answers. As cards are read, it's a great way to see where everyone things alike or differently. The game, which I got to try out, was really fun to play with my girls, and even more fun to play with friends we know. The better you know the group, or the more common your answers, the easier it is to earn points. 
The setup is easy, the rules are straightforward and the fun is endless. This party game can be played by large groups, and by sorting out the cards by theme (ie. birthday, work, family), you can customize the game based on the event where it’s being played.
Get your set of Double Ditto online at for just $19.95.

Consumer Critique: Boppy Skin Care

Celebrate new motherhood with gentle pampering of the Boppy Bloom® Skincare Collection, hypoallergenic, paraben-free and phthalate-free products that will soothe, relieve and relax new mothers’ skin.  

I had a chance to sample the collection, which includes four unique products that are safe and effective in helping moms-to-be and nursing mamas with their pre- and post-natal skincare needs — all under $15!I'm well past needing them, so I shared with some of my pregnant or recently new mom friends. I liked the scent of the belly butter and body oil, and the products did absorb well into skin. The friends I shared them with liked them too.

  • Fight stretch marks and all-over body moisturizing with the Boppy Bloom® Stretch Mark Cream, a rich blend of coconut oil, shea butter and vitamin E. Available for $12.99.
  • Boppy Bloom® Renewing Body Oil is a non-greasy body oil that absorbs quickly and has a luscious White Citrus Shea scent. Priced at $9.99.
  • For stretch-mark protection with a delicate scent, the Boppy Bloom® Whipped Belly Butter is a unique whipped-butter formula with a yummy White Citrus Shea scent. Available for $14.99.
  • For moisture-rich relief from sore or cracked nipples, Boppy Bloom® Soothing Breast Balm is a 100% natural and lanolin-free formula great for before and after nursing. Priced at $11.99.
And now, it's even easier to help that new or soon-to-be mommy in your life get pampered because Boppy is offering a $2.00 discount* on Boppy Bloom's Skincare! Just click on the link below and print out your coupon today!
*Coupon redeemable at your local Babies”R”Us store.

About The Boppy Company
Founded in 1989, The Boppy Company is the world leader and expert in creating comfortable, supportive and award-winning products for mom and baby. To date, Boppy® Products have won over 50 awards and continue to be named must-have products around the world. Most well known as the maker of the world’s original nursing pillow, the iconic Boppy® Feeding and Infant Support Pillow, The Boppy Company has expanded into skincare, pregnancy pillows, breastfeeding accessories, baby loungers, baby clothing, plush goods, baby travel products, nursery products and baby seats. For more information, visit The Boppy Company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Artsana Group,

Consumer Critique: creates custom photo products perfect for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and graduations. Personalized gifts really show that you thought of the recipient, and they're often more special than other options. I know that both my parents and in-laws have commented that they love getting gifts with pictures on them, especially the grandkids.

I had a chance to order one of their canvas collages for review. I chose three churches that my husband photographed on our recent vacation with them, because their faith is important to them, and picked churches that have special meaning - one in Bremen, Germany, and one in Rathenow, Germany, where part of my parents' families are from; and one of Luther's churches in Wittenberg, because we went there together as well. (The preview is shown here, but the finished product will of course look much better.)

The quality of products is solid. I've been happy with everything I've ordered from them, and I've always found the costs and delivery time quite reasonable. As always, every order is backed by their Just Right Guarantee, too. is a Google Trusted Store and their customer satisfaction team is available to help out 7 days a week by phone, email, and live chat.

If you're looking to buy something for this Mother's Day, check out the shipping deadlines that guarantee delivery by the holiday. They also give you an idea for future holidays how far out you need to order. Right now, you can save 60% on your first order if you're a new customer, so it's a great time to check them out! They also have frequent sales on specific products, so check out their current promotions to see what you can get now.