A Modern Day Fairy Tale

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Support the Wounded Warrior Project Just By Grocery Shopping {#BelieveinHeroes #sp}

I’m participating in the 2014 Believe in Heroes® blogger campaign and received compensation as part of the program. 


As many of you already know, our time in the military is very quickly coming to an end. After eleven years and four deployments, my husband will officially be leaving the Marine Corps in just ONE week. Scary, isn't it? Having married my husband pretty well just out of high school, the military life is truly all I have ever known as an adult. Though in many ways I will miss our military life, and wish it wasn't coming to an end so soon, there is one thing that I absolutely will not miss: the deployments!

When I first met my husband via Myspace, he was on his second deployment in Iraq. Even having just 'met' him and never having even seen him in person, I worried about him. Constantly. I would await his phone calls and messages to hear word that all was well. I remember one phone call during this deployment when he announced to me that they had been blown up. He was fine, of course, as were those he was with, but it was a scary reminder of just where he was and what he was doing...and just what I was getting myself into!

After we were married and started our family, my husband went on two more deployments. The first was a MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit), which in many ways felt safer but also meant longer gaps between phone calls and a lot of wondering. During what would be his final deployment, he was back in Afghanistan for a whole year. As much as my husband would tell me not to worry, I couldn't help it. I'm a natural worrier. Living on base in some ways made the worries more real. In our trips to the hospital for doctors appointments, we would see the consequences of battle- the wounded warriors. 

After four successful deployments, we do not take the fact that my husband came home safely each and every time for granted. We know that others are not so lucky and want to do our part to give back to those that make that sacrifice. It is for this reason that we proudly support the Wounded Warriors Program.

Today, I'm excited to share that the Believe in Heroes campaign makes supporting the cause as simple as going grocery shopping. Let's take a look: 

Believe in Heroes® is a national cause marketing campaign that brings grocery retailers, trusted brands, and shoppers together to raise funds for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), a non-profit organization whose mission is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. Believe in Heroes® was established in 2010 by Acosta Sales & Marketing, a full-service sales and marketing agency in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. 
      The campaign has generated $16 million for WWP to date and has helped enable the expansion of its critical veteran programs that now directly serve more than 40,000 injured service members. This year, Acosta hopes to exceed the amount raised in 2013 as WWP recognizes its 10-year anniversary, reflecting on a decade of service and reaffirming its commitment to serving injured service members for their lifetime.
      Beginning September 7, 2014 and running through Veterans Day, November 11, 2014, Believe in Heroes® calls on Americans to show their support and appreciation for the newest generation of veterans through the common household task of grocery shopping, while enjoying great savings and sharing how they made a difference to help raise awareness.

So, what can YOU do to help? There are a few very simple ways:

  • Download $25 in coupon savings by clicking here! Shop for these great brands partnering with Believe in Heroes to support WWP. You save money AND give back...It's that easy! Coupons are available through November 30, while supplies last.
  • Not a couponer or don't use these particular products? No problem! You can purchase Believe in Heroes merchandise in stores or online. You can even make a simple donation instead!
  • Spread the word! Share this campaign with your friends and family via social media! Don't forget to use the hashtag ##BelieveinHeroes.
You can learn more about the campaign and where to shop here.

It's such a simple act, but can make such a difference in the life of a real life hero. How will you help the cause?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Creating A Greener Home...One Step At A Time!

**This post contains affiliate links.

A few years ago, I made the big decision to create a greener home for my family. After doing my research on the harmful chemicals found in our every day products and my family history of cancer, I knew I wanted to do everything I could to reduce these risks and create a safer home for my kids. But making the switch...well, it wasn't/isn't always easy! When you think about all of the products we use in our lives, switching them all out at once sounds crazy! For us, I decided if I were to be successful in this venture, it would be best to go one step at a time. Here are a few places YOU can start looking at creating a greener home:

Green Your Cleaning

For me, cleaning seemed like the easiest place to start. These were the products I felt were most dangerous to my family (as my son continually found ways to get into them, despite our precautions to keep them away). When it comes to green cleaning, there are a few different options-

  • Make your Own. Making a basic all purpose household cleaner is super easy! In fact, I found for most jobs, a simple spray of vinegar, water, and essential oil(s) of choice did a fantastic job! Personally, I like using  orange for that citrus fresh scent and extra cleaning power, but peppermint or lavender is a really fun twist as well. The possibilities are endless. Want more in depth recipes? A quick web search will provide you with recipes galore!
  • Buy Greener Options. While I love my homemade cleaners for most everyday jobs, when it comes to the tougher jobs, I prefer to have something already made! The great news is there are many great natural cleaners available to choose from!
Green Your Bathtime

Next up on my list was bathtime. When my daughter arrived, we very quickly realized she had very sensitive eczema prone skin. I had to pay VERY close attention the labels for her bath products to avoid eczema flare ups...watching those labels more closely was certainly eye opening. I could not believe that there was so much...well, crap...loaded into these products that we put on our bodies daily...let alone in CHILDREN'S products! Thankfully again, there are many eco-friendly options to choose from in varying price ranges. Now, I'll be honest, this one was particularly tough for my frugal self, as these do tend to cost more than their mainstream counterparts, but a change that was well worth it for my peace of mind (and daughter's skin!).

Green Your Medicine Cabinet

I've always been of the opinion not to overuse medicine. Even with my son, I used Tylenol only when absolutely necessary...if he was a little under the weather, I'd let him fight it off if possible. The same is true for myself.  It was only after jumping further into the green lifestyle that I learned of many more great natural alternatives. There are fantastic homeopathic remedies available. Essential oils are also a great way to relieve many aches, pains and illnesses without the use of mainstream medication...and they are great for other areas in your home too!!!

Of course, these are just three of the many areas in our lives where we can make changes to live a greener lifestyle....still sound overwhelming? Remember, it doesn't have to be all or nothing! Change  what makes sense for your lifestyle. I cannot honestly say that we are green in all aspects of our lives, but we try to do better where we can...and in the end, a little bit is better than nothing at all!

Whether you are 100% crunchy or just learning the ropes, Abe's Market is a fantastic resource for all your green living needs! From the products listed above to toys and home organization, they have a little bit of something for us all! Check them out and start living greener.

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission on any purchases made from these links. Products pictured above are available for purchase at Abe's Market.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spark the Imagination with Just Pretend Kids {A Review & Giveaway}

**Product received for review.

As a child, I always loved letting my imagination soar. I wasn't one for video games (not that we owned them anyway) or sports...instead, I was always making up little stories or pretending in some way or another. Perhaps it was the writer in me, or perhaps it was growing up in the country and having to find ways to entertain myself...or most likely a combination of both. Regardless, being creative has always been important to me. When I became a mother I knew I wanted to encourage my children to grow their imagination as well. So when Just Pretend Kids contacted me about reviewing one of their adorable tutus and fairy wings...I was THRILLED!

Whether it's doctors and cowboys or princesses and rock stars, playing dress up is a fantastic way to get the imagination going. And for little girls, it's all about the fairies and princesses and all things pretty...or at least it was for THIS girl. When I discovered I was having a daughter, I looked forward to all the pretty dress up clothes. Now, she may still be too young to TRULY play pretend, but that doesn't mean we cannot start collecting items for dress up already, right?

Just Pretend Kids offers a large variety of adorable tutus and coordinating wings and accessories. Choosing just one was TOUGH, but I finally decided on the Peggy Purple and Turquoise Tutu with the Flutter Wings Turquoise and Purple wings! These colors reminded me a bit of Frozen, my daughter's favorite movie...and were just absolutely stunning anyway. In person, they are even more beautiful. The skirt is full and fluffy and the quality of both is wonderful. They are truly a perfect dress up trunk addition for every girly girl.

As I said, my daughter is too little to really appreciate and share her opinion, so instead I asked my 5-year-old niece what she thought. She LOVED all the beautiful choices, and we plan to go on a fun fairy princess photo shoot later in the summer. She could not be more excited, and isn't that really what it's all about? I cannot wait!

This is just one of the stunning selections from Just Pretend Kids. To see more, check out the links below:

Visit the Website.
Like on Facebook.
Follow on Twitter.

And one lucky winner is going to win a tutu and wand of their choice for the little one in their life too!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.
Disclosure: I received the product mentioned above in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts are my own.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Big Picture Story Bible {A Review + Gift Card Giveaway}

**Product received for review. Post contains affiliate links.

My son loves Bible stories...from creation to Noah's Ark to Jonah, he loves them all. As a Christian mom, this could not make me happier or more proud, so naturally I love to give him options on ways to enjoy those stores he loves in different and exciting ways. From videos to storybooks, we welcome them all. But as I've said in the past, Bible stories can be a little bit confusing for adults and children alike. So I am always on the lookout for a good way to share these with my son in a way that is both entertaining as well as easy to understand. The Big Picture Story Bible was a great solution. Let's take a look:

The Bible is a big book, about a big God, who keeps a big promise! In the 
The Big Picture Story Bible, children learn all about the remarkable story of God's love for them and the world. Designed for kids aged 2 to 7, this book features stories from both the Old and New Testament with simple words and striking illustrations.

Now, my son is seven years old but an advanced reader so the simple stories may have been a bit too easy for him reading wise, but were just right in helping him to understand what the Bible is truly all about. Now, if I were to be 100% honest, at first I thought the illustrations- while beautifully done- were a bit boring in comparison to similar books we have already. Still, the more I read through the more I appreciated the simple artwork. It still added that color and fun that kids so enjoy but didn't take away from the stories. My son? He loved it all. Again, he has several other Bible storybooks but seems to be especially drawn to this one. In fact, it has made it into his backpack book pile (a selection of favorites that he takes to school to read on the bus- a high honor in our home!).

In addition to the storybook, we also received the accompanying Family Devotional. Here's a bit more on that:

Parents want to teach their children about the Bible and God’s love for the world, but it can be hard to know where to start or how to communicate the deep truths of God’s Word to young minds. 
The Big Picture Family Devotional provides an excellent solution.
Designed as a complementary resource for the best-selling Big Picture Story Bible, this family devotional offers parents a year’s worth of material for teaching their kids about God, the Bible, humanity, and salvation. 
Intended for families to use three times per week for 5–10 minutes a night, each brief lesson begins with a “Big Picture” memory verse, followed by a short passage of Scripture, a devotional paragraph reflecting on how the passage connects to the Bible’s overarching story, and two reflection questions for the whole family to ponder and discuss.

Now, despite his love of Bible stories, I always worry that my son won't understand it all, or realize these aren't just stories or what they truly mean for him. Though I would like to open these discussions, I'm honestly not sure where to start. How do you explain something so HUGE to a child so small? I loved that this devotional allowed me to have a starting point to get the conversations going. With my son's autism diagnosis, I did find that some questions may have been a bit out of his understanding (though perfectly within range for a typically developing child), but certainly pointed us in the right direction of where to focus when reading these stories and teaching our children about God. It helped us to dig deeper into the words than we might have before. The lessons are brief- keeping kids' short attention span happy, but still allowing us to take that time during our week to grow closer to God as a family.

Have a musician in the family? They will love the songs found in the back of the book that they can learn to play and sing to go along with their stories. This was probably my son's favorite part of the devotional- reading through the songs (even though no one in our family plays an instrument).

Whether you are looking for a fun bedtime story or a way to bring your family closer together in the Word, these books offer the perfect solution for your needs. Both can be purchased at Family Christian stores in your area or online.Be sure to check them out at the links below:

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/FamilyChristian
Follow on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/familychristian/
Like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FamilyChristian?ref=bookmarks
Follow on Tumblr: http://family-christian.tumblr.com
Follow on Instagram: http://instagram.com/familychristian

To celebrate this great book, one very lucky reader is going to win a $25 gift card to Family Christian. You can purchase these books, some Veggie Tales DVDs, Christian decor...whatever your heart desires- there is a LOT to choose from! What will YOU choose? Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Autism and Bullying: Thoughts from an Autism Mom

Lately, it seems as though every time I sit down to browse my Facebook news feed, I'm bombarded with new stories of individuals with autism being bullied...horribly bullied! Perhaps the most notable story is that of the ALS ice bucket challenge gone wrong. People were rightfully outraged...none more than autism parents like myself.

Having a child on the spectrum, bullying is a very real fear. These stories- though perhaps making more headlines as of late- are nothing new. When Shaun started mainstreaming this year, my greatest fear for him was not that he would not be able to handle the academic standards- but of how he would be treated by the other students.

As Shaun has gotten older, his little differences have become more and more noticeable by his peers. My Shaun is perhaps one of the sweetest, most friendly kids I know. He LOVES meeting new people and making new friends. BUT he doesn't always handle social situations appropriately. He will run to a complete stranger and greet them with a hug, get into their face, hold their hand. He will ask them the same question over and over or try to talk to them about things that are of interest only to him. In his mind, this is how you make friends...and that's all he is trying to do. He does not realize that not everyone shares his interests or is as affectionate as him. At just 7 years old, I already see the looks of annoyance and disapproval that kids give him...and unfortunately, it's not just kids but adults alike. As much as it breaks my heart to see my little man struggle to make friends, this is nothing in comparison to the bullying that so many on the spectrum experience, and the bullying I fear my son will one day face himself.

So, when does it go from a mere not understanding to these acts of violence? Why is this still happening, and still accepted? How can we as parents help to end this violence towards those with developmental delays? In my personal opinion, I think it all begins with a change of attitude.

I have on many occasions, shared my support of a fantastic organization, Spread the Word to End the Word- which seeks to end the use of the r-word. So, what does that have to do with autism and bullying? Again, it's all about the attitude. When using this word in a derogatory manner, we are saying-intentionally or not- that those with developmental disabilities are inferior than. We are saying that they are these things that we are using the r-word in replacement of- dumb, stupid, silly, less than. We are saying that they deserve less respect. Jokes at their expense- special education, short bus jokes, etc...? Same thing. All of these things, though perhaps said with no ill intent, only go to add to the perception that it's okay.

But it's not just the words we use, but our actions as well. How many times have you cast a judgmental glare at the mom whose child was having a very loud, very public meltdown? You think- perhaps even voice- that YOUR child would never act that way. But unless you're in that situation, you truly do not know. You don't know the years of therapy that child might have had and how far they came, or what was going on in their life to trigger that meltdown.

A few years ago when we made the move from California for Indiana, our family decided to have dinner out at a family friendly restaurant in the area. With the excitement/anxiety over the move and going into a new and unfamiliar place, it just ended up being a bit much for Shaun, leading to a meltdown. Being older than what was typically acceptable for that type of behavior, it drew some attention. We were no strangers to meltdowns and were actively calming him, when another man at the restaurant started yelling at MY child. We quite calmly tried to explain the situation, and yet he continued on, much to the embarrassment of his family. Now, while this man had no young children with him, this is not an uncommon experience faced by autism families...and sometimes these people DO have children. They see these outbursts, those looks of disgust and judgmental faces and once again are shown that there is something inferior about individuals with autism.

My hope is that one day, my son can live in a world where he is not only accepted, but also celebrated for his differences. A world where parents like myself don't have to worry about sending our children off to be bullied. A world that understands that individuals with developmental disabilities are not inferior and deserve the same respect we all seek...and the first step is changing our attitudes and teaching our children by example.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dress Up Your Little Princess with Kings Daughters on Etsy {A Frozen Inspired Review & Giveaway}

**Product received for review.

It's no secret that perhaps one of the most fun things about having a daughter is getting to dress her up in pretty dresses! During these summer months, my daughter's wardrobe has primarily consisted of them- easy and pretty. I particularly love dressing her for the special occasions- holidays, weddings and of course her birthday! This year for her very first birthday I wanted something very special for my girl. Something that reflected her and showed off her natural beauty- so I went to Etsy to search. What I found there was Kings Daughters.

Kings Daughters is a children's boutique featuring fun items for special occasions like ruffle pants, embroidered tops and my personal favorite- pillowcase dresses. For this review, I received a personalized Frozen inspired pillowcase dress.

First of all, how absolutely gorgeous is this? The colors were perfect, the design adorable...absolutely perfect for my Frozen obsessed princess! Personally, I love pillowcase dresses for a couple of reasons. First of all, they are incredibly simple- they're not over the top fancy, but truly allow a child's natural beauty to shine through, simply complimenting that beauty. Gorgeous. I'm also a bit hesitant to purchase clothing online due to sizing, but I think these dresses seem to have a lot of give in their size. The 18 month dress we received fit wonderfully now, but could have fit just as well were she a little bigger or even smaller, so it's certainly a good option if your daughter is between sizes (or if you're ordering in advance and guessing at size!).

The dress was beautifully made with great quality. I personally loved how the various fabrics and patterns coordinated so wonderfully...giving it great visual appeal without being over the top. My daughter loved that it featured her favorite character...she kept bending down to get a better look...adorable!! And it looked beautiful on her as well!! It truly was the ideal birthday dress for my little Princess.

But this is just one of the many cute designs available from Kings Daughters. To see more, connect at the links below:

Shop on Etsy.
Like on Facebook.

And one very lucky reader is going to win a dress for THEIR little princess too! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be contacted via e-mail after giveaway ends, and will have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. One entry per household, winning entry will be verified. Odds of winning depend on valid entries received. A Modern Day Fairy Tale is not responsible for prize delivery.

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