Category Archives: Reviews

Friday Finds and Favorites #61 D’s Reptile Koala Crate

Hello Friends!

It’s been a rough week with my health. I’ve spent many days curled up in bed (when able) with a heating pad. I’ve kept up with pilates to the best of my ability, but it’s not easy. Spring is very difficult for most ICers. I’ve read that there is a link between seasonal allergies and interstitial Cystitis and I completely believe and agree with that. (I feel that I’m living proof of that!)  I’m doing my best to balance rest and living. It’s so difficult when you want to be somewhere, but your body is telling you not to over do it.  #justkeepswimming

So let’s talk about something I love right now. D’s Nana (my mom) bought him a subscription to Koala Crate. If you have never heard of Koala Crate, it’s awesome! Each month you get a box with 3 projects to complete, as well as a magazine, and everything you need for each craft. D had a blast completing his and I believe if I hadn’t split it up, he would’ve tried to do it all in one day! This month’s theme was reptiles! So we were able to learn some new things about some of D’s favorite creatures.

Please note that this review is just for fun and I was NOT compensated in any way for it.

D’s first project was making this cute chameleon. It changes color when you touch it! It came with three bugs to try to knock over/catch with the chameleon’s tongue.

We had the best time making this stuffed snake!

Our last project was making this Turtle box. This one was especially awesome because we received velcro like material to put on the feet and head, so that you can make the turtle hide in his shell. So creative and educational!

My plan was to break this up more to show you the specific items, such as the magazine, but unfortunately, my phone had other plans. :/ Hopefully, I’ll be able to do a better break down next month with D’s second crate. This phone thing is crazy! First, D drops my best phone and destroys the screen in the Aldi parking lot, so I go back to using my pink phone that had already took a dive into a toilet. It lasted a few days before it’s time was up. So I’m now back to my super old 4 and the phone doesn’t want to charge. We are hoping that it’s just the charger. John’s co-worker gave us a charger to try yesterday, so here’s hoping it works! I’m so over phone issues.

Now on to the Friendly Fill-in’s for this week!

  1. My favorite cereal is G free granola from Aldi. They have three different kinds and are all under 10 grams in sugar. There’s cranberry, honey and almond, and apple. They are tasty and I don’t feel as bad as I would eating those packed full of sugar cereals. I use these during flares when the thought of food is just too much.
  2. My prom was a different experience each year. My sophomore year I was invited to prom by an upperclassman. It was a fun night, but ultimately was cut short because I had a very strict and narcissistic stepfather. He was very controlling and didn’t want other boys to give me attention. My junior year, I went solo with a few of my girl friends. It was a fun experience. I didn’t attend my senior year and I have no regrets about it. When I attended college, my now husband and I agreed that we wish we could attend prom together after having an amazing night at our college formal. <3
  3. The funniest thing about our cat Sasha is that she loves to look out the window and watch us when we are outside. She also enjoys watching the birds and has crashed into the window trying to catch them on more than one occasion.
  4. I cannot help getting commercial jingles in my head. Sometimes it can be annoying, but most of the time they are pretty catchy at least. :/

Our Sasha

Now it’s your turn! You can link up your favorites and awesome finds below! We have no rules, just keep it family friendly. This means you can share as many posts as you would like. 🙂 Also be sure to contact one of us, as we are still looking for one more blogger to join as co-host. Thanks so much! Be sure to grab a button below! (optional)




Wishing you all a safe and wonderful weekend!

<3 Anna

I’m going to give you a Bear Hug! Book Review

Hello Friends!

I received this book from #Flyby to read and review. I received no further compensation. As always, these are my honest thoughts and opinions. <3

I was bummed out when I discovered on Thursday that my website server was down. It took the whole weekend to get through to tech support because (apparently) I wasn’t the only one having issues. :/ Thankfully, Katherine from the Bluehost tech support group was super helpful and solved my problem in a matter of minutes!

Do any of you remember Caroline B. Cooney? She is a very accomplished young adult author. I remember reading The Face on the Milk Carton series and how that story really stuck with me. (It makes me want to go back and re-read them.;)) So you can imagine that I was super excited to learn that she also writes children’s books!

Nothing better than a bedtime story and snack!

Declan loved this story of different types of hugs. The book flows well and the illustrations are beautiful and fun! It’s the perfect story for bedtime or any time really! I would recommend this book for kiddos age 4-8.

Just one example of the beautiful illustrations!

Grand Rapids, MI– – December 27, 2016– -I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug. Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet and simple rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is a sweet loving bedtime story book that is also sure to become a Valentine’s Day favorite for little ones who enjoy celebrating a day full of hugs and kisses from loved ones. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug will be available in hardcover for $16.99 in retail stores nationwide and online on December 27, 2016. Pre-order opportunities will begin on September 28th .

About the Author: Caroline B. Cooney was born in New York, grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in South Carolina. Caroline is the author of 90 Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug is her first picture book. It’s based on a verse she wrote for her own children, Louisa, Sayre and Harold, who are grown now.

About the Illustrator: Tim Warnes has been illustrating childrens books for twenty years. He lives in Dorset, England, with his wife, children’s illustrator Jane Chapman, and their two sons. When he is not drawing little critters, Tim loves to write, watch birds and play his banjo.  Visit Tim at

Zonderkidz™, the children’s division of Zondervan, inspires young lives through imagination and innovation. As the leader in Christian children’s communications, it creates products that awaken the hearts and touch the souls of kids under 14. Zonderkidz is also publisher of the NIrV (New International Reader’s Version) Bible translation, the third grade reading level edition of the NIV. For additional information,please visit

Zondervan is a world-leading Bible publisher and provider of Christian communications. Zondervan, as a part of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., delivers transformational Christian experiences through its bestselling Bibles, books, curriculum, academic resources and digital products. The Company’s products are sold worldwide and translated into nearly 200 languages. Zondervan offices are located in Grand Rapids, MI. For additional information, please visit

What is your child’s favorite bedtime story?

<3 Anna

Where Jesus Slept Review and Giveaway!!!

Hello Friends!

Today, I’m excited to share this beautiful read with you and your family. It’s perfect to get your kiddo(s) excited for this wonderful season!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

This book is well written and beautifully illustrated. D really enjoyed it and I was surprised that it held his attention throughout the whole story from beginning to end. This is no small feat! It’s very hard to get this child to sit still for more than a few minutes at a time. 😉 He asked if we could read it again today, so it definitely gets two thumbs up from this guy! <3



D loved pointing out the different letters he knows.



About the book:

“This is the bed where Jesus slept. This is the straw that lined the bed where Jesus slept.” From here, the story builds with each spread, adding a new element and explaining the relationships among the participants and witnesses to the first Christmas. From Jesus sleeping sweetly to the wise men bringing gifts, this charming book reminds readers young and not-so- young of the joyous event we celebrate at Christmastime. Children will love the delightful illustrations and the engaging repetition in this cumulative tale.

Format: jacketed hardcover

Trim size: 10×10

Page count: 32

Retail price: $16.99

Reading age: 4-7

About the author:

Norma Lewis is the author of ten books. She lives in Grand Haven, MI, with a marmalade cat named Scalawag. They both love spending time with her six grandchildren, ranging in age from three to twenty.

Illustrated by Katy Hudson.

If you would like an opportunity to win a FREE copy of this book, please enter the giveaway below! I will announce the winner on November 30!!!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


<3 Anna

Declan’s Favorites (November)

Hello Friends!

It’s always nice to look back on D’s favorites over the months.  It’s amazing to see how much he changes in only a matter of months. What is he loving this month?


  1. Doc McStuffins


Declan visited Georgia in October during my surgery and he spent a lot of time with his cousin Miya who loves Doc McStuffins, well it is now his new favorite show. He loves pretending to be a doctor or veterinarian and making others better. 🙂

2. Little Einsteins


D and I watched the Halloween episode and Declan fell in love with the Trick or Treat song. I think his music class helped with this new favorite. I’m very excited about his newfound love for this show.

3. D’s Music Class


D has really enjoyed his Kindermusik class. He only has two more before the class comes to an end. I’m not sure what direction we will go in next, but I’m so happy we invested in his future with this class. He has always loved music and that has only grown since signing up! 🙂

That’s all for this month! What are your kiddo(s) loving this month?

<3 Anna

Happy Halloween!

Hello Friends!

This post contains affiliate links from Amazon Associates. This means that if you click one of the links, I may receive a small compensation. This means you are helping to keep this blog running, helping fund my son's music class, or helping me to get a tube of lipstick. ;) As always, thoughts shared here are my honest opinions. :)


I hope all those who celebrate have a safe and fun evening! For those who don’t, I hope you treat yourself in some way anyway! 🙂

Today, I wanted to share a few links to some great books, movies, etc. to help make your Halloween extra fun!

YouTube Links:

5 Little Pumpkins-This video is great for toddlers and preschoolers!

Humble in a Heartbeat did a great job of collecting several classic and new(ish) cartoons from YouTube. You should definitely check them out for your littles. D absolutely loved The Little Einstein’s Halloween episode. He has started watching the show because of it. This is great because it’s a very educational show and D has always loved music! 🙂


My Leaf Book is a great introduction to fall and leaves! The illustrations show the leaves close up and shares the types of leaves and their origins. This books is great for preschoolers and young readers!


The Itsy Bitsy Pumpkin is a great board book for toddlers and preschoolers.


Where’s Boo? is great for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Your littles will enjoy searching for Boo. 🙂


itsy-bitsy I love you is the sweetest tribute to a Nursery Rhyme ever! It actually makes me like spiders and those who know me know that isn’t an easy feat!


Ten Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book is one of D’s favorites. He enjoys the illustrations and counting in this fun read.



The Ugly Pumpkin is a great book to read just after Halloween. You will have to read to see why. 😉


Netflix Instant Watch Recommendations:

Do you still need some fun Halloween movies/episodes for the big day? Consider these! 😉

Mickey Mouse: House of Villains

I really love this collection of cartoons. This episode includes a fantastic newer cartoon about Mickey’s house that I love. It also has a few classic Halloween cartoons that you will love! 🙂 This one is a great choice for the whole family.

Dreamwork’s Scary Stories and Shrek Scared Shrekless

This is a fun one that I would recommend for much older children—probably 10+, but it really depends on the maturity of the child. Every kid is different. 🙂

The Addams Family

This is a must! I’m not sure if the Addams family tv series is on instant, but The Munsters is also on instant as well. 😉

There are lots of great options to check out and I only scratched the surface, so be sure to search away and share what you find today!

I hope you all enjoy the links I shared and have a wonderful day! I look forward to seeing all of your Halloween pics. 🙂 What are your plans for the day/evening? Do you have any recommendations you would like to share? Sound off, below!

<3 Anna

Friday Finds and Favorites #49

Hello Friends!

I’m still on the mend. I’m back to my normal routine for the most part, but still moving at a slower pace. I’m okay with that given that I was confined to my bed for about 2 weeks. That is not an easy transition to bounce back from! I had my first check up since surgery with my urologist on Wednesday, I’ll share more on that in an upcoming post. Stay tuned!

I was happy to have a brief family outing on Saturday to the local Apple Festival. We all got a nice family walk in and lots of goodies to enjoy later!



We enjoyed a tasty lunch at this booth.

This deli had some delicious sandwiches and treats. We purchased a cinnamon roll and sweet potato bread. The sweet potato bread was so tasty it actually tasted similar to pumpkin bread!


Taking a breather before making our way to the car.

We also could not leave the festival without a few apple goodies. We purchased an apple pie, apples, and apple cider on our way out. 😉


I also have two perfect fall favorites to share with you all today!

Happiness! :)

Happiness! 🙂

This hand cream is so lovely! It smells heavenly and isn’t oily. I don’t like that feeling with creams/lotions. I was so excited to find it one day at Cracker Barrel. (I had originally discovered the brand while vacationing in TN and wasn’t able to purchase any at the time.) It was so nice to find it locally and be able to buy it at my leisure. The brand carries a variety of scents including peppermint, sugar cookie, butterscotch, and many more! 🙂 You can check out the website here or go to your local Cracker Barrel. 😉


These cookies are such a treat! I limit myself to one box per year because they are highly addictive…at least for me anyway! 😉

Now it’s your turn! Share your favorite memories and finds this week! Leave a comment below. Add your blog to our linky and don’t forget to visit my amazing co-host, Camille! Feel free to grab a button it’s optional! 😉




Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!!!

<3 Anna

Friday Finds and Favorites #38

Hello Friends!


Or shiver…you can always shiver…BRRR! We have had frost watches for the past three days now. Ummm…I looked at the calendar and it’s April, folks! Someone didn’t get the memo. (I don’t envy my friends up north, who are enduring snow right now.) I am slightly relieved about the prospect of us planting a late garden this year. It wasn’t our plan, but sometimes everything happens for a reason!

This week’s find, I read about in an IC support forum. Ever since my diagnosis, I haven’t had much luck with salad dressing. I’ve made a few from scratch that were not good at all. I bought Tessemae dressing for the Whole 30 and it was pretty good (It’s definitely not the Ranch you are accustomed to!), but like many dressings it had lemon juice and/or vinegar. (Both of those are BIG no-no’s for me.) So I did some digging and discovered this recommendation.

marie's dressing

It’s very true to it’s name. (It’s a very creamy Ranch!) BUT it’s pretty tasty. I’m happy to see that it has no preservatives and is gluten free. The ingredient’s list is good for a bottled dressing that you can buy from the store. It’s probably as good as you will find, unless you go to like an organic health store or something of that nature. So far it hasn’t caused me any problems with flaring. So I’m very thankful for that. It’s definitely worth checking out if you have dietary restrictions. This product does contain eggs and dairy! 

Now it’s your turn! What was your favorite moment and/or find of the week? Be sure to link up in the comments below! Also check out my co-host’s blog and grab a button! (Optional!)




Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!!!

<3 Anna

Triggers Book Review

Hello Friends!


One of my goals for March was to read Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. This was such an excellent read! I feel like every parent should read this book. It’s overflowing with sound advice!

The book is broken up into two sections: external and internal triggers. The first section discusses the common things our children do to annoy us, such as: back talk, lying, ignoring instruction, manipulation, etc. The second section focuses less on what the kids are doing and more on what we can do as parents to improve our situations. Each chapter has a topic such as back talk and the authors share a story or an example and what God has taught them through dealing with said circumstance. Each chapter, also ends with a prayer and signature of the author who is sharing that particular chapter.

This book along with much reading on gentle parenting has helped me and John tremendously! I won’t say we never yell, because we are still human…BUT we are so much more mindful of it. I enjoy getting down on D’s level and looking him in the eye when speaking with him. I don’t want to be a dominant force in his life. I’m his mom. I want him to know that he can come to me, but also that he will be punished when necessary. BUT let’s be honest, it isn’t always necessary. It’s very easy to get carried away in our own agendas and/or get angry and then react, instead of speaking with our child in a calm voice and trying to figure out what is really going on. It can be very tough!

It reminds me of an analogy I heard on a recent podcast listening session. This particular podcast was on The Wellness Mama. It was titled “The Overmedication of America.” Okay, so how does this relate to gentle parenting? I promise it does! The nurse in this episode shares an example of a tree. She talks about how doctors don’t want to get to the root of the problem and how we end up getting several prescriptions because of the side effects caused from the drug prescribed from the first issue. (Our leaves are brown!) The same thing is true for parenting. We go in and immediately want to save those brown leaves. We want to stop the crying, stop the whining, stop the back talk, etc. We miss the problem in the child’s roots or more often in our own roots.

Mamas, I encourage you to look at your own roots. Do you need some self- care? Are you burnt out? Are you angry and don’t know why? Healing can begin when we seek the Great Physician. He knows our hearts and He can heal all wounds. Let’s allow him to hold us. Let’s allow Him to carry us today. <3

As you can see, this book gets me fired up! It’s such a positive life-changing read. (No, I’m not getting paid or anything like that to share this opinion. 😉 )

***** 5 stars!!!

<3 Anna

PS. That Wellness Mama podcast I mentioned, is totally worth a listen. It’s only about 30 minutes and it’s eye-opening!

The Better Bladder Book Review

Hey Friends!

Before I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, I did a ton of research on bladder pain. In this research I discovered The Better Bladder Book: A Holistic Approach to Healing Interstitial Cystitis and Chronic Pelvic Pain. I began reading it before I was even diagnosed with IC. I was determined to be ahead of my diagnosis—after about 2 1/2 years of unexplained pain, I knew that IC must be a part of the problem and even if it wasn’t this book needed to be a part of my library!


This book is filled with so much information. It can feel like information overload! So I tried to stick with reading a chapter a day to truly absorb all of the many tidbits.  The book is broken down into three different sections: Part I: Finding Your Healing Path, Part II: Beginning the Journey, Part III: Further Along the Road to Recovery: Suggestions for Those Who Are Still Struggling. I chose to read it from cover to cover (pretty much!), but you can definitely skip around and read the information that feels most pertinent to your situation.  Maybe you’ve been diagnosed for many years and you just want to get the diet info, go for it! You can benefit from every part of this book, but you don’t have to feel confined to the first chapter-final chapter.

My takeaways from the book:

  1. Tiger Balm Patches/Tiger Balm Relieving ointment is my bestie. 

These guys help tremendously with my daily and mostly nightly back pain that is very common with IC. It’s amazing to get some much needed relief so I can sleep at night!

2. Diet is vital to bladder health and your overall health.

This is going to sound like a duh, Anna! BUT hear me out…Did you know that food can do serious damage to your bladder? Well, it can and it’s not the only thing! Just like various foods/drinks can damage your teeth enamel. The same is true for your bladder. Food sensitivities are HUGE in maintaining bladder and overall health. This is why I’m doing a Whole 30 this month. I want to pinpoint what my food sensitivities are and eliminate those harmful foods from my diet. I’m well on my way now!

3. This book reemphasizes the fact that IC and conditions like IC are very individualized.

This means that I might have IC and have a gluten and lactose intolerance and this other person next to me might have a peanut allergy. Food isn’t the whole puzzle, but it is definitely the place to start your journey.

4. Many doctors will (immediately) talk drugs when you are diagnosed, but don’t jump at that prescription.

I knew this one before I finished the book and before I received my diagnosis, but I wasn’t aware of all of the forms of treatment that I should explore. Besides diet, there is various physical therapy, acupuncture, various herbs, supplements, etc. I’m currently taking two aloe vera capsules three times a day. As of me writing this (March 1), I’m not sure if it’s helping. This is because it can take two to three months to feel the effects. As I said before, I use Tiger Balm patches and on very bad days/nights I take 1 Aleve. This is when nothing else helps. I also love and use essential oils to help with lowering my stress level. Stress only makes things worse! I’m having to learn how to chill.

5. I can and will feel better one day!

This is such a relief. When you are diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, it can feel like this is your forever. It’s not! I may never be completely pain free, but there are things that I can do to improve the new journey I am on. I can seek out support from family and friends. I can find foods and natural medicines that can heal my whole body and not just focus on my bladder. I can keep a positive attitude and stay informed on what research is being done to further the study and awareness of IC. There is so much that I can do. I can focus on that. Remember there are so many cans. Don’t focus on the can’ts.

If you or someone you love (I sound like an afternoon special…oh well!) , has been diagnosed with IC or Chronic Pelvic pain, I highly recommend this book. I also highly recommend this book to anyone that is experiencing reoccurring UTI’s or hasn’t been diagnosed and feels like they could also have IC. This book will change your life. This book will give you the guidance you need to get back on track and feel like you have a new normal. <3

*****5 stars, yo! 😉 Read this book, please! 

Please note this is NOT a sponsored post. This book is very important to me and I felt the need to share its awesomeness with anyone that is dealing with the same pain or similar that I am. We can feel better, my friends! <3

<3 Anna 

Friday Finds and Favorites #35

Hello Friends!!!

***I received products to review for this post. I was not compensated in any other way. Regardless, these are my honest thoughts. ***


This post will be a bit of a hodgepodge, I try to only blog three times a week to keep from burnout and to have a nice balance for other interests. This sometimes causes me to have fuller posts, but I feel like they are definitely not fluff! 😉

First, I’m excited to be working with Susie’s Hope (again) and Dogs Deserve Better to raise awareness to end animal cruelty across the world! Would you like to help? Great!


From the month of February 1, 2016- July 31, 2016, Susie’s Hope and Dog’s Deserve Better are teaming up! For every Susie’s Hope DVD that is sold, $5.00 will be donated to Dog’s Deserve Better! (Dogs Deserve Better is a non-profit that is dedicated to freeing chained dogs and raising awareness surrounding the harsh realities of chained and penned dogs in our country.) As a special THANK YOU purchasers who enter the promotional code DDB on the Susie’s Hope website will receive a 10% discount on his/her purchase of the DVD and or “Susie’s Hope Bundle” (Which includes the DVD and a “Susie” plush doll.)


Susie’s Hope is such a powerful movie. The cruelty that Susie endured will break your heart, but it’s such an amazing and thought provoking story! I don’t want to give away the story, but you can refer to my original post for more info on the plot.

I was sent the prize pack and the plush is just adorable! It would make a great gift for your daughter, niece, granddaughter, etc. <3

I hope that you will consider looking at the website and helping raise awareness for this very worthy cause!!!

Next up, D’s First Soccer Game!!! I honestly didn’t know what to expect…D’s practices didn’t go exactly how I pictured. (When does it really?!) So I made sure that we practiced every day that we could and we talked with Declan about playing and not throwing a fit. The morning of, I made him a breakfast of Paleo Banana Pancakes, Sausage, and Blueberries in hopes that I could fill his tummy before the game. He ate most of it. John and D practiced before the game and I gave D a Coconut Creme Pie Lara Bar before the game to munch on in the car.

This was the first half.

This was the first half.

So yeah, the first half was rough. When D was on the field he wanted to sit and when he was off, he was crying and throwing a fit on me. Despite our promising start, he didn’t have a strong start for his first game. :'( Things changed for the second half, D told me he needed to go potty, so I took him to the restroom and I don’t know if it was the talk we had or the change of scenery, but he came back super strong!


My Soccer guys! <3

My Soccer guys! <3

The second half was such a change! It was amazing to watch! We gave D lots of high fives and praise for his awesome soccer playing skills! 😉 I look forward to this week’s game, but I’m trying to remember how unpredictable three year old’s are. There is no way to know what might happen this week?! As a parent you hear often about “the terrible twos” but I think someone got confused. What about “the terrible threes”/threenagers?! D throws more tantrums now than he ever did when he was two. *sighs* I just try to remind myself that he is learning so much right now and he is also learning to assert his independence. This is a tough time for all of us, but we are all learning along the way!


We grabbed a few items at Aldi and Target after the game and then had lunch together. After lunch, D and I went to the park while Daddy played golf. I’m so glad the weather cooperated for him. <3

I love this pic! <3

I love this pic! <3

D loves the sand box. He came home with sand everywhere!

D loves the sand box. He came home with sand everywhere!


Now it’s your turn! Link up your favorite posts from the week and share with us your favorite moments and finds! Grab a button (optional) and pop over to my wonderful co-host’s blog to see what she is up to as well!


Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

<3 Anna