Reviews

Book Review: Welcome to the Roller Coaster

May is National Foster Care Month. Get to know the many faces of foster care. #FosterCareMonth

To kick off National Foster Care Month, I have a treat for you! Have you ever wished for a secret window into the real lives of foster parents? Maybe just a little peephole into their inner thoughts and feelings? How about a no-holds-barred-tell-it-like-it-really-is account of the roller coaster that is foster parenting? I thought so, and you’re in luck!!

I received a complimentary copy of Welcome to the Roller Coaster to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. 

Fourteen foster moms, who have fostered a combined total of over 135 children, decided it was time for the world to see a real picture of foster parenting - the joy, the heartbreak, the frustration, the fact that we don't live in a Lifetime Movie....Fourteen foster moms, who have fostered a combined total of over 135 children, decided it was time for the world to see a real picture of foster parenting – the joy, the heartbreak, the frustration, the fact that we don’t live in a Lifetime Movie….

I have the privilege of knowing a few of these women personally, and I have to say – they have really outdone themselves. Welcome to the Roller Coaster is a candid, unapologetic  collection of stories straight from the hearts of real foster moms.

If you are a foster parent, or know a foster parent, or have thought about becoming a foster parent, or even just wondered if Ms. Hannigan is the real-deal, this book is for you.

From the first call for placement, to reunification, to a child moving to an adoptive placement, Welcome to the Roller Coaster covers the gamut of foster care realities and of foster parents’ emotions.

I was astonished by the openness and honesty of these moms, who laid their triumphs and struggles bare in their quest to not only show non-foster parents what this life truly looks like, but also to assure other foster parents that they are not alone on this wild ride.

I’ve talked about the necessity of building your Foster Parenting Sisterhood, and Welcome to the Roller Coaster is a built-in sisterhood that you can have delivered immediately to your Kindle!

The Ultimate Daddy Diaper Bag

Disclosure: I received a complementary diaper backpack to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.

I’m so excited to tell y’all about the coolest diaper bag I’ve ever seen! Seriously. Check out this guy just chillin’ at a rooftop bar in Nassau.

SuperDad and I took the Twins on an Adoption Celebration Bahamas Cruise just before Thanksgiving. Because we planned to use two umbrella strollers, rather than our double Cadillac, we knew that SuperDad would be the one schlepping the diaper bag.

After half a dozen ^subtle^ hints, I realized that this plan wasn’t acceptable with any of our current diaper bags. (^actually I had a plan all along, but it was funny to watch him try to hint around about it^)

I reached out to a couple of diaper backpack people and was thrilled when DadGear said they were willing to hook us up exchange a backpack for an honest review. They even let SuperDad pick out a cool rock-concert-ticket-inspired backpack. You would never know this is a diaper bag, would you???
 
The first thing that was clear when we received the backpack was that it was designed by dads, for dads. Whereas bags designed for moms typically have room for EVERYTHING, this bag is designed with one thing in mind – efficiency. Period.

(more…)

They’re HERE!! Jillycakes Orlando is a reality!! Grand Opening THIS WEEKEND!!

Ok, so full disclosure: I have ^the tiniest^ fan-girl crush on Jillian Hopke, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars and owner of
The Grand Opening starts on Saturday, December 13th at 12pm. And you MUST be there. Go support a local business/celebrity and tell her Starfish Confidential sent ya!


SuperDad and I have a bit of an addiction to cooking-based reality competitions, and I always wonder how much of the personalities you see are real, and how much are editing? Jillian is a perfect example, I mean, how can anyone be that sweet and adorable and yet not annoying in real life? Right?

But now that I’ve met her in person, and I can tell with absolute authority – SHE REALLY IS THAT FANTASTIC!

Now, on to the important bits. I was honored to be invited to a blogger media event at the new Jillycakes Orlando retail location and I had the BEST time!! I also won Twitter a fabulous gift pack.

Fun Fact: The counter tops were made with hundreds of thousands of REAL rainbow sprinkles.

Jalapeno Popper Cupcakes
(notice the counter under the cupcakes!)

The menu for the media event included three savory cupcakes (Jalapeno Popper, Spicy Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and Thanksgiving Dinner) and three sweet cupcakes (Cranberry Orange, Pumpkin Pie, and Maple Apple Gingerbread).

To be completely honest, I’ve always been more than a little skeptical about savory cupcakes. Don’t get me wrong, I *LOVE* me some cupcakes, but they are supposed to be sweet, indulgent and diabetes-inducing. Unfortunately, I had to pass on the Jalapeno Popper cupcakes – Taco Bell mild sauce burns my mouth, and when asked how hot the Popper cupcakes were, Jillian responded that they would “melt your face”.

However, the Mac ‘n’ Cheese wasn’t terribly spicy and definitely won me over. ^I may or may not have had more than one a couple.^ I was intrigued to try the Thanksgiving Dinner cupcakes, but still not sure what to make of “your whole Thanksgiving Dinner in two bites.”

Let me just tell you —- Oh. M. G!!! If I could have taken three dozen of those puppies home with me, that would have been our family Thanksgiving. I would have inhaled those suckers all night long, if I hadn’t worried that bogarting all the goodies would get me banned from future Central FL Lady Bloggers events (notice the lack of sarcasm font – I am not EVEN kidding).

After Thanksgiving Dinner, it was time for some sweet treats. Did I mention that the Pumpkin Pie cupcake was filled with ACTUAL PUMPKIN PIE!?!?!

So, long-story-short (^yes, of course I realize it’s far too late for that^), Jillycakes is freaking awesome-sauce. Go check them out! I will definitely be a frequent flyer, so maybe we’ll run into each other. Meanwhile, follow the crew at Jillycakes Orlando on Facebook and Twitter to see all the awesome treats they can conjure.They are all set to make your confectionery dreams come true.

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Hint: It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.

Book Review ~ Jesus Calling: 365 Devotions for Kids

Disclosure: I received a complementary copy of this book to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own.

For everyone who thinks I can’t make a long any story short, I am going to cut right to the chase. I didn’t read much past the introduction of this book; I won’t be reading it to my kids; I suggest you don’t either.


The author, Sarah Young, states in the introduction that the devotions in the book are some of the messages she has received directly from God through a process that sounds suspiciously like automatic writing. Directly. from. God.

I was quite taken aback by her claims, and embarked on some research about Sarah Young and her previous book, Jesus Calling. What I found was very alarming. It seems that the author does indeed rely on automatic writing for receipt of her messages. Now, she doesn’t appear to ever use the term “automatic writing,” for very good reason – the practice is not only NOT scriptural, but also considered to be a psychic ability by practitioners of the occult.

As tempted as I am to get into the whys and wherefores of all the things wrong with this, instead I will link you to A Precautionary Review By Pastor Mark Barrett of Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

I will not deny that the devotions I did peruse are inspirational, with worthy sentiments. And the author includes scripture that supports each devotion. Regardless, the theological issues are, for me, insurmountable.

All of that being said, if you are interested in any of the Jesus Calling products, you can get them all at the above link for 50% off starting on Friday, November 14th. To kick off this amazing sale, there will be a Twitter Party Nov 14th 1-2 pm EST. Use the hashtag #JesusCalling to participate – 5 winners will receive the 10th Anniversary Edition of Jesus Calling plus a $50 gift certificate for Family Christian Bookstores and 5 winners will receive a $50 Family Christian Bookstores gift certificate.

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Hint:
It has recently come to my attention that not all of my readers can easily tell when I’m being sarcastic. That is truly unfortunate, so finding a solution was imperative. ^Obviously, the easiest answer is to assume that if something can be read with sarcasm, it should be;^; but that’s not really workable, I guess. After reviewing several options for a “sarcasm font”, I’ve come up up with my own system. Whenever you see italics inside carrots (^snark^), that is my “sarcasm font”.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Gigantumongous Beach Bag from Saltwater Canvas

As a Florida resident living 30 minutes from the coast, I spend a lot of time at the beach.To be honest, I don’t particularly enjoy the beach. I love the ocean; can’t stand the sand. I would MUCH rather be on a sailboat in the middle of said ocean than on the shore dealing with sand and tourists.

But my family loves the beach, so I do what I can to minimize the torture enjoy myself. So far, my best source of beach enjoyment is cute accessories. I’ve got a cute little shade umbrella and an adorable beach blanket (that actually doesn’t come out of the car very often because it’s so damn hard to get all the sand off…) I’ve been on the hunt for a cute bag to complete the ensemble.

I’m sure you imagine that there is no shortage of cute beach bags in Florida. However, here’s where things get impossible interesting. As a mom to 3 under the age of 3 (all still in diapers) and 2 teens, my beach bag has got to be a yeomen. And it has to be easy to clean, because, ya know, I HATE sand.

Enter the Saltwater Canvas Whale Bag!

According to the website, the Whale bag holds 6 beach towels, toys and drink….. PFFFT!!! Did I mention that SuperDad and I head to the beach with our infant, 2 toddlers, and 2 teenagers? And occasionally our oldest joins us with his girlfriend. That equals:

 

  • 9 beach towels
  • 3 infant/toddler swimsuits + rashguards
  • 3 infant/toddler changes of clothes
  • 3 infant/toddler hats
  • 2 pairs of toddler sunglasses
  • 16 diapers (6 swim/10 regular)
  • diaper wipes
  • diaper cream
  • diaper changing pad
  • 2 sippy cups
  • 1 bottle
  • formula caddy
  • After-sun aloe lotion
  • Bug spray
  • 2 cans of sunscreen
I don’t know if you can tell from the pictures, but we use really big beach towels. So you could probably get 9 normal-sized beach towels, and I don’t know, a sand-castle kit?
And I know that it looks like it weighs a ton, but it really doesn’t. I wouldn’t want to carry it cross-country, but it’s really not as heavy as I expected it to be.
Plus, the mesh dries really quick – when we get home, after the bag is emptied, I hose it down and set it on the porch. It’s always been dry within an hour – and that’s in Central Florida’s 1,000% humidity.
Whale Bag specs:
  • 10 Colors to choose from below
  • 9 big outside pockets; zippered inside pocket
  • Snap hook for keys or glasses
  • 15″ tall & 15″ x 12″ oval base (stands independently for easy loading and unloading)
  • 1.5″ doubled shoulder straps run length of bag
  • Machine Washable, hang dry
And here’s the best part:
I got you a discount code!!!! 
Now through July 31st, 2014, use discount code duckmommy for 20% off EVERYTHING at SaltwaterCanvas.com, including clearance and overstock bags.

*I received a whale bag for review purposes. I was not financially compensated in any way and all opinions are my own.*