Have you heard about Disney’s heartwarming newest film release? It’s called Queen of Katwe and will be in theaters September 30, 2016. I’m happy to share information about the movie today, and tell you a little about an unlikely hero of my own.
Queen of Katwe is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess, and, as a result of the support she receives from her family and community, is instilled with the confidence and determination she needs to pursue her dream of becoming an international chess champion. Directed by Mira Nair from a screenplay by William Wheeler, Queen of Katwe is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher, p.g.a. and John Carls, p.g.a. with Will Weiske and Troy Buder serving as executive producers. The film stars Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo, Oscar winner and Tony Award nominee Lupita Nyong’o and newcomer Madina Nalwanga.
In the film, a young girl named Phiona becomes an unlikely champion when, through the support of her mother and a local missionary, she learns the game of chess, then excels at it and advances farther than anyone thought possible. We have all met an unlikely champion in our lives at some point. I’m lucky to call mine my husband.
My husband, Jared, was first born with some health issues. He was a sickly baby and then at 7 years old, he was found to have scoliosis. It was such a severe case that he had to undergo multiple back surgeries just to correct the extreme curves. He had metal rods implanted and then removed from his spine, as well as staples down the length of his back–this was before the days where laser surgery was routine. Going into surgery, he was told there was a chance he might not walk again if anything went wrong. This was at 14 years of age. After an 8 hour surgery, then 2 weeks of hospital recovery including ICU time, Jared was sent home to recover for a few more months. When he finally returned to school, he had to wear a back brace–which is always fun for a high school boy who was already on the small side.
My husband made it through all of these struggles wonderfully, and when we first met and started dating, he laid it all out on the line for me–bravely, as if saying, “This is what I am, take me or leave me.” I loved him for it then and there, and now nearly 12 years and 2 kids later we are still going strong. Jared is a champion because he’s living his everyday best life and providing for us, though sometimes he still experiences pain. He refuses to sit around and let others do for him, or try to portray that he has any disability. He is a hero to our two boys, and to me.
I hope you’re now thinking about your own unlikely champion, and you will take them to go see Queen of Katwe, opening tomorrow!
For more information, visit the Queen of Katwe website.
Sometimes, you decide that one or even many rooms in your home are in need of a new look. Or perhaps you’ve just moved into your own place and want to put your personal spin on its’ decor. You want your home to look its’ best and reflect your style, but you need to do it on a budget.
This is absolutely possible with Replica Furniture Melbourne. Here you can shop for the hottest trends in furniture at a fraction of the price. Some popular designer replicas featured are Philippe Starck, Hans Wegner, and Noguchi.
Pieces are are of the utmost quality and are sure to pass for the real thing to your friends and family. Whether you need to update your living area, bedroom, kitchen and dining area or outdoor patio, you can find the right item to fit your style. Real, natural materials are used, just as in studio pieces, so you will know your new furniture purchase is a solid buy. And there is a money back guarantee for most items, so you really don’t have anything to lose.
Don’t spend thousands on decorating your home when you don’t have to–it’s time to give replica furniture a closer look!
Someone Must Die
by Sharon Potts
When her six-year-old nephew vanishes from a neighborhood carnival, Aubrey Lynd’s safe, snow-globe world fractures; it shatters when the FBI’s investigation raises questions about her own family that Aubrey can’t answer.
Aubrey picks apart the inconsistencies to expose the first of many lies: a ransom note—concealed from the FBI—with a terrifying and impossible ultimatum. Aubrey doesn’t know what to believe or whom to trust. The abduction is clearly personal—but why would someone play a high-stakes game with the life of a child? The more she presses for answers, the more Aubrey is convinced that her mother is hiding something.
Desperate to save her young nephew, Aubrey must face harsh truths and choose between loyalty to her family and doing the right thing. And she’d better hurry, because vengeance sets its own schedule, and time is running out.
MY THOUGHTS: 2 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I haven’t read as many kidnapping/mystery/thriller type books in recent years as I used to. I believe it’s because I found the books to be getting repetitive and myself as a reader getting harder to actually surprise. This novel unfortunately had both of those aspects going on, and I struggled to finish it.
The story begins when 6 year old Ethan, who’s just recently united with his grandmother, is kidnapped while under her watch at a carnival. The grandmother, Diana, had only a few months ago made amends with her son, so losing his only child was a devastating blow to their shaky relationship. Diana’s younger daughter, Aubrey, comes back home to be there for her family and try to help the authorities in any way she can.
It took me a couple of weeks to finish this book–it just never really grabbed me. I didn’t truly feel a sense of danger or thrill conveyed through the author’s writing. I didn’t care for the style that much–the dramatic ending sentences of chapter, which I’m sure were supposed to be darkly foreshadowing, felt overdone to me. I was actually reminded of the way chapters end in the Goosebumps series of books I read about 20 years ago–not good if you’re trying to write for adults.
There are several avenues the investigation goes. Diana is involved with a man running for judge, Ethan’s other grandparents are ridiculously rich, Aubrey’s ex boyfriend is even mentioned as a possible person of interest, but it takes some digging to find out that the kidnapping is connected to a past Diana still suffers everyday. Of course, the police don’t learn this information; Aubrey investigates on her own and interrogates her mother without their help.
Many things about this book felt unrealistic and disjointed to me. The ending was also very lackluster and kind of sudden. I made myself finish this book because I started it, but I can’t say there was too much I liked about it.
About the Author
Sharon Potts is the award-winning, critically acclaimed author of five psychological thrillers, including In Their Blood—winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award and recipient of a starred review in Publishers Weekly. A former CPA, corporate executive, and entrepreneur, Sharon has served as treasurer of the national board of Mystery Writers of America, as well as president of that organization’s Florida chapter. She has also co-chaired SleuthFest, a national writers’ conference. Sharon lives in Miami Beach with her husband and a spirited Australian shepherd named Gidget.
At some point in their career as a homeowner, many people find that they’re dissatisfied with the look and feel of their residential property. If you’re feeling this way right now, it’s time to implement the changes necessary to take your home to the next level of comfort, functionality, and visual appeal. Luckily, there are several simple strategies you can implement to achieve these outcomes. Some of them include:
1. Buy New Blinds.
Having nice blinds improves the aesthetic appeal of your windows while simultaneously shielding you and your loved ones from excess light or visibility to the neighbors. Since this is the case, it’s a good idea to buy new blinds every now and then. You can purchase your product of choice from companies like Next Day Blinds Winchester. This organization has a website which can be accessed at Nextdayblinds.com.
2. Create More Space.
Physical clutter in your home is unaesthetic. Additionally, it can create a sense of anxiety and disorder that detracts from your ability to enjoy your home. As such, it’s a good idea to implement strategies that will enable you to create more space at your private property. There are numerous techniques you can use to realize this goal, one of which is to simply getting rid of your old furniture. You can donate this furniture or dispose of it through a yard sale.
3. Implement A Meditation Practice.
If you’re serious about getting your home in great shape, be sure to implement a meditation practice. Doing so will afford you the opportunity to designate a specific room or region of a room to a calming practice. This strategy will help you learn to associate your home with the peace and calm that is induced through the meditation practice. Additionally, you can decorate your meditation space with calm, cutting edge color schemas that optimize your sense of tranquility while also enhancing the visual appeal of the room.
In addition to enhancing the ambiance and aesthetic appeal of your home, meditation can improve your health by reducing stress levels, enhancing sleep, and optimizing the functioning of your respiratory system.
4. Let The Professionals Help You.
If you really want to make your home a haven, be sure to let the professionals assist you. By hiring an interior decorator or contractor, you can attain assistance from industry experts who have extensive experience in the home optimization process. To ensure that you select the best home designers on the block, be sure to do online research so you attain a clear, thorough understanding of the company’s reputation, specialties, pricing, level of customer service, etc.
Individuals who are interested in taking their home to a new level of exceptionalism should know that they can start the optimization process immediately. To attain the best results quickly and correctly, it’s a good idea to think and act strategically. Some of the strategies that you may find particularly useful include buying new blinds, creating more space, implementing a room for meditation, and letting the professionals help you. Once you implement these techniques, you’ll likely start to love the look and feel of your home!
DISCLAIMER: Sony Home Video provided me with some of the materials I used in this Blog Post/Giveaway. The opinions I share are my own.
When I was a little girl, I loved the original Swan Princess film. Recently released on September 6 is another addition to this fun, beloved franchise–The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!
In the brand new original animated film, Princess Alise is training to be the perfect royal but in her heart all she wants to do is sail the seven seas as a swashbuckling pirate! After setting sail, Princess Alise is shipwrecked and washes ashore on an island where she meets Lucas, a young boy who has been living there by herself. They have to work together to survive and get back to civilization!
Would your child like to WIN a copy of The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today of their very own? To enter, simply have your child take the quiz below to find out if they are more pirate…
Leave your answer in a comment and one lucky winner will receive a DVD copy of the film!
My big boy took the quiz and yeah, he’s proud to be a pirate. He’s now asking me if he can play in the forest all day! (You’ll know what I mean when you take the quiz.)
Please leave your results below and one winner will be chosen by September 25!
CLICK THE PHOTO TO TAKE THE QUIZ
Buy The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!
Follow The Swan Princess: Princess Tomorrow, Pirate Today!
I am excited to share my thoughts on the faith based, heart grabbing film GREATER, releasing in theaters on August 26, 2016. The movie stars Neal McDonough and newcomer Chris Severio as Brandon Burlsworth.
Brandon Burlsworth is perhaps the greatest walk-on in the history of college football. Brandon had always dreamed of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but was considered too short and too fat to play Division I. Undeterred, Brandon took a big risk and walked on in 1994.
Written off by fellow teammates and coaches, Brandon displayed dogged determination in the face of staggering odds. An extremely devoted Christian, Brandon never cursed or drank. He was genuinely humble and low-key. He worked harder than anybody, on and off the field, becoming the first Razorback to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree while still playing. The overly-fat kid who was once an embarrassment to his teammates and an annoyance to his coaches, ended up becoming the most respected player in the history of the program, changing the lives of all he touched.
Eleven days after being drafted into the NFL, Brandon was tragically killed in a car accident, crushing all who knew him. Brandon was “too good to be true”. How could something like that happen to this guy? The age-old question slammed down upon all with terrible force: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Brandon’s story is more than mere football. It is the ultimate expression of the question “Why?” Greater will provide hope and inspiration as it strives to wrestle with this challenge and find reasons to trust. It is “Rudy” meets “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
To me, this was the story of the rewards from never giving up, learning to be faithful, and the bond between brothers. Brandon is extremely close to his older brother Marty, who at 17 years older is something of a father figure to Brandon. Marty inspires Brandon to succeed, celebrates with him when he does, and consoles him when he doesn’t.
I enjoyed seeing Brandon push himself to be the best. He did whatever it took, whatever his coaches told him and more to achieve his dreams. I have two young sons and I hope that they will take these same lessons with him in their lives, both on and off the sports field.
I liked how the film didn’t just focus on the football aspect or the faith aspect of Brandon’s life; we also get to see how he sometimes struggled socially, liked to be by himself, and even battled with obsessive compulsive disorder. I believe this is so important to show, because there are so many kids out there with issues like this who need to know they’re not alone and they can be successful just like Brandon was.
Both my husband and I were very touched by Greater and had tears in our eyes by the end. Yes, it’s a faith based film and to some that will make it a little corny or sappy in some parts, but the actors’ performances get you into the story and feeling their emotions.
I recommend the film Greater to sports fans, parents, and anyone who loves a story with a lot of heart.
I have a special giveaway for my readers courtesy of Grace Hill Media. Two winners will receive a promotional Brandon Burlsworth GREATER jersey, with his number 77 and in the Arkansas colors, as modeled by my son here!
Giveaway is for US only and will end 8/31/2016. Please leave a comment telling me who you’re rooting for this college football season!
DISCLOSURE: This is a sponsored conversation from Mums the Word Network and Amwell. All opinions are my own.
When your child has been at home for the whole summer, sometimes their immune systems can take quite a hit when it’s time to return back to school. So many kids, teachers, visitors…so many germs. If your child has picked up a bug, you don’t have to leave home and sit in a pediatrician’s office all afternoon! Get your child checked out through Amwell, the app where you can have a phone or video visit with a real health care provider within minutes!
I downloaded the app on my phone (it is available for both Android and iOS) and was looking at available doctors within a few seconds. On this particular day, they were busy! I did have quite a wait but it was OK; I folded a small mountain of laundry while we were waiting.
We finally connected with Dr. Grandstaff, a very amiable man from Massachusetts. I explained to him how my 7 year old son had been battling a yucky cough for the past three weeks. He asked us some questions, we performed a couple of tests, and he told me his diagnosis and what we could do for him. He was prescribed a medication and that was that! We were done with our visit in less than ten minutes. I’m extremely glad we didn’t have to leave the house on this particular day, because our area is being threatened by flash flooding. Perfect time to use an Amwell visit!
After your visit you will receive a transcript and your doctor’s notes on your case. This is very handy for medical records or if you have any questions later.
There are so many reasons to use Amwell for your family!
Lower cost. At most, your visit with am Amwell provider will cost $49, and in many cases it can be covered by your medical insurance. This is ideal for those on a budget or without insurance.
Accessibility. You can reach a provider after hours, on weekends and in the middle of the night (24/7/365)…and we know that is almost always when kids start coming down with something.
Convenience. You don’t need to schedule an appointment nor do you need to wait to be seen. The doctor can be seen from the comfort and convenience of your own home.
Quick prescriptions. If you have a good idea of what’s wrong and what your doctor will be prescribing (ie, your kid has an ear infection and you need antibiotics), it’s very quick and easier than having to go sit in an office and wait.
Peace of mind. Rather than self-diagnosing or visiting a social forum for medical advice, users can obtain second opinions directly from board certified, licensed doctors.
Doctors are ready to help with issues such as:
- Sinus infection
- Sore throat
- Urinary tract infection
- Sprains and strains
- Respiratory infection
- Weight concerns
- Smoking cessation
You have access to mental health providers and nutritionists as well as medical providers. With all these benefits, it’s no wonder that Amwell is positioning itself to be “the Amazon of health care” .
Ready to see a provider? You can have your first Amwell visit and pay only $1 with code HEALTHY35!
by Hannah Gersen
As the high school football coach in his small, rural Maryland town, Dean is a hero who reorganized the athletic program and brought the state championship to the community. When he married Nicole, the beloved town sweetheart, he seemed to have it all—until his troubled wife committed suicide. Now, everything Dean thought he knew is thrown off kilter as Nicole’s death forces him to re-evaluate all of his relationships, including those with his team and his three children.
Dean’s eleven-year old son, Robbie, is withdrawing at home and running away from school. Bry, who is only eight, is struggling to understand his mother’s untimely death and his place in the family. Eighteen-year-old Stephanie, a freshman at Swarthmore, is torn between her new identity as a rebellious and sophisticated college student, her responsibility towards her brothers, and reeling from missing her mother. As Dean struggles to continue to lead his team to victory in light of his overwhelming personal loss, he must fix his fractured family—and himself. When a new family emergency arises, Dean discovers that he’ll never view the world in the same way again.
MY THOUGHTS: 3 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I decided to read this book because of the comparisons to Friday Night Lights, a series my husband and I watched and loved. I guess what the synopsis writer meant was that it has some of the emotional core that FNL has, because there’s no football in the book. Yes, the main character was a coach, but that’s as far as it goes in this story. High emotion running throughout the novel is basically the main thing it has going for it.
Dean Renner is a high school football coach and suddenly single father of three after his wife commits suicide. His adopted stepdaughter Stephanie is starting college and struggling with the guilt that she should have saved her mother. Son Robbie is in middle school and beginning to delve into the angst that comes around this age, compounded by the loss of his mother. Youngest child Bryan is the peacekeeper and seems to unknowingly provide clarity to his family when they need it most.
I found this book to be pretty slow moving and I had to put some effort into finishing it. I would compare the story to that of a Lifetime TV movie. Yes, there are dark threads dealing with death and depression, but they are never really explored heavily and get somewhat glossed over rather quickly.
Dean appears to move on pretty quickly, starting a relationship with someone new just a few months after his wife’s death. We learn that not everything was great in their marriage, but this really didn’t do much to make me feel better about how long it took him to hook up with other women. I guess I felt that their thirteen year marriage and having kids together should have meant more to him. Or maybe he was reaching out and trying to find any connection. This could go either way and I guess it’s all in how the reader interprets it.
Stephanie, who had before her mother’s death been so excited at the prospect of leaving her tiny town and reputation as “the coach’s daughter” behind, suddenly feels alone and vulnerable when she gets to college. She acts out, taking drugs, drinking, and failing classes. In a lot of ways, she’s doing the same things as her father, which says a lot when a 40 something year old dad is acting the same as his 19 year old daughter.
There were several predictable moments for me, a lot of cliches hit: a stepchild telling her dad he is not her real dad, those left behind wondering about the existence of God, the family coming back together because of a crisis. All this made Home Field a “just OK” read for me. If cozy or family type novels are your thing, you’ll love this, it hits all the bases. But it wasn’t a standout for me.
About the Author
Hannah Gersen was born in Maine and grew up in western Maryland. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and her writing has been published in the New York Times, Granta, and The Southern Review, among others. Home Field is her first novel. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Follow Hannah at her website.
The Tumbling Turner Sisters
by Juliette Fay
In 1919, the Turner sisters and their parents are barely scraping by. Their father is a low-paid boot-stitcher in Johnson City, New York, and the family is always one paycheck away from eviction. When their father’s hand is crushed and he can no longer work, their irrepressible mother decides that the vaudeville stage is their best—and only—chance for survival.
Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business, however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.
MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS
I knew next to nothing about vaudeville when I started this novel, and though it didn’t delve especially deep, I felt I learned a ton about it–but most of all, I enjoyed the journey.
At the book’s opening in 1919, a father injures his hands and it puts him out of a job. The mother, Ethel, has always had dreams of fame and know now is the chance to grasp those dreams, through her four daughters. Soon Nell, Gert, Winnie, and Kit are traveling the vaudeville circuit, meeting all sorts of interesting people, and falling in love.
The book is told in alternating chapters from Gert and Winnie’s points of view. Gert is the second oldest sister. She’s attractive, knows it, and uses it. She’s always felt too big for her small town. Winnie is the third sister, smart, bookish, and driven. She’s also the peacekeeper. Most of the time she and Gert butt heads, but as the family goes on the road together, they have to rely on each other and find themselves coming closer together.
The heart of the book is a coming of age theme, but there are love stories, grief, racism, and other issues touched on as well. The author did a great job of putting lots of relevant historical facts of the time into the novel without making them feel shoehorned in.
Each sister and each vaudeville character we meet definitely has their own unique personality. Some are helping the Turner sisters, and some just want them to get out of their way. Every performance is different, every city they stop in has its own feel.
I think if you enjoy history as well as a great story with fascinating characters then you’ll love this novel. I was a bit heartbroken at the events in the end, but I suppose it’s more realistic than a happily ever after, perfect ending for each person in the story.
About the Author
Juliette Fay is the award-winning author of three previous novels: The Shortest Way Home, Deep Down True, and Shelter Me. She received a bachelor’s degree from Boston College and a master’s degree from Harvard University. Juliette lives in Massachusetts with her husband and four children. The Tumbling Turner Sisters (Gallery Books/S&S) is her fourth novel.
To learn more, visit JulietteFay.com.
Like Juliette on Facebook: Juliette.Fay.Author
If you’re a mom of an infant, you need to know that despite your best efforts, they will get a cold before their first year. It might not be anything too severe, but any illness or change in routine can make your baby cranky. It goes without saying that an infant can’t voluntarily blow his nose, so how do you get rid of his congestion?
Even up to just a few years ago, you would have used a bulb syringe. You know the thing they use in the hospital to clear your newborn’s airway by sucking the fluids out?
With my first son, I hoarded the one I came home with from the hospital, for I’m sad to say, 2 years. When he’d get a stuffy nose, I used a combination of saline rinse and this syringe to try and suck out the mucus in his nasal passages. It was working OK, I guess, but I could almost always hear more in there that I couldn’t get to.
It’s been seven years in between my sons, and I’m ecstatic to say that within that time, the makers of family favorite Neti Pot, NeilMed have developed a better, gentler, more complete way to help your child breathe when he has a cold: the Naspira Nasal-Oral Aspirator.
So how does this crazy looking contraption work? Simple as using a straw. Place the bulb end into your baby’s nostril, put the orange tip into your mouth, and as you would suck through a straw, suck gently and you will be pulling the nasties out from way back in your child’s nasal passages.
I know, I know, if you’re anything like my friends and family, you are probably saying, “EW! I don’t want to suck snot out of my kid’s nose!” But let me tell you, once you use the Naspira and see the results it produces, you will never go back to that old orange syringe. Several friends who are moms of young babies told me the same thing–they were totally grossed out at the idea of using it. But once I assured them that through the Naspira’s filtered design, they weren’t actually going to get any of the mucus in their mouths, they gave it a try and couldn’t believe how much better it worked than their old methods.
Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to give the NeilMed Naspira a try:
–You don’t have to only use it as a nasal-oral aspirator; you can remove the tubing and use the bulb by itself.
–The tip of the bulb is made of soft silicone that won’t hurt your baby’s delicate nasal openings.
–You can take apart the Naspira completely and sanitize all parts, something you definitely cannot do with the old bulb aspirator! I had a feeling mine was never fully clean, but I was too scared to cut it open and look. YUCK.
–Using the Naspira is a natural, gentle way to clear your baby’s nose without having to give him any medication.
So are you convinced and ready to make the switch? You can find the NeilMed Naspira at a ton of retailers, including WalMart, Target, Rite Aid, and Amazon. You can also order now from neilmed.com and use code MOMSBLOG for $3 off your purchase!