Have you ever gone out for dinner because you didn’t have clean silverware? We have! With a family of 6 very active people, I tease that the dishwasher is the heart of our home.
The Heart of Our Home
The dishwasher can make or break an evening for us. My kids have had to rush to dance or Taekwondo with no dinner (and are very mad) because the dishwasher wasn’t run and what they needed was dirty (and no time to clean.) This sets off a domino effect and usually isn’t a good one. Everyone is cranky and hungry. They come home crankier and take it out on me.
On the flip side, if the dishwasher has been run and there are clean dishes, everyone has a smoother evening. The kids come home from school, make themselves a good dinner before they rush off to dance or Taekwondo. They are happy and have a good lesson and come home in a much happier mood.
So, yes, the dishwasher is the heart of our home. Our dishwasher runs at least once every day (and sometimes twice.) The last thing we have time for is cleaning dishes with all the activities my kids have.
Do we need a new dishwasher? You bet we do. We are on our 3rd dishwasher in 12 years and this one is going too. We have to use towels on the floor to make sure it doesn’t leak. It’s always a bet whether the detergent cap will come off during the correct cycle or will we have to waste more water and run the dishes through again.
You see that dish towel hanging off our dishwasher in the photo above? That is there because we need to dry our dishes as they come out of the dishwasher (and we also have to rinse them thoroughly before we put them in the dishwasher.) If we had one of the new Kenmore Elite Dishwashers, we wouldn’t have to do that.
The new Kenmore Dishwasher cleans better and dries better. Yes, you heard me.
A few more really cool features that I love:
LED Lighting in the dishwasher so you can see inside when you are loading and unloading. I’ll bet that will solve the “Is the dishwasher clean or dirty” problem too. My kids always say they can’t see if the dishes are clean or dirty because it’s dark in there.
There are 24 spray jets that will get inside each bowl and glass and get clean everything. That means you will have crystal clear glasses. AWESOME!
The new dishwashers are very quiet. Your dishwasher won’t wake you up anymore when starting up.
The dishwasher will know the best drying cycle that matches the washing cycle so all loads will dry completely.
My Not Me Secret
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I named the dishwasher “not me” because every time I ask who is supposed to load the dishwasher everyone says, “not me.” So the poor dishwasher has become the “not me” in our home. Blamed for everything.
Peace at The End of the Day
As much trouble as our dishwasher can be sometimes, at the end of the day, when I hear the dishwasher start, I know we survived another day. But I’d be totally ok if I got to sleep through the dishwasher starting up.
Tell me about your dishwasher. Is it the heart of your home?
Disclosure: As a Kenmore Ambassador, I receive payment for my participation. All opinions are my own.
Have you ever read a fairy tale and thought, “What if?” What if Aladdin never found the lamp? Hmmm?! Your wish is granted, A Whole New World.
A Whole New World
A Whole New World was written by Liz Braswell. After spending 10 years producing video games, she finally turned to writing books.
This version of the Aladdin story is darker and explores what might have happened had Aladdin not found the lamp. Jafar steals the lamp and uses his first two wishes to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Aladdin and Jasmine must unite the people and rebel against Jafar. Their fight turns the kingdom upside down and what happens next will surprise you!
A Whole New World is available in stores now.
Enter the Fairy Tale 2.0 Prize Pack giveaway at the end of this post.
The Fairy Tale 2.0 Collection
There are two more books in the Fairy Tale 2.0 collection, Once Upon A Time: Red’s Untold Tale and A Frozen Heart.
Follow the #FairyTale2pt0 hashtag for giveaways of these two books.
The book is about Red, who is 16 and her struggle between her wild side and her strict upbringing. She lives with Granny in a village where they have to board up the house and hide when the wolf comes out. If you watch, Once Upon A Time on ABC, you will recognize some of the story.
A Frozen Heart
A Frozen Heart written by Elizabeth Rudnick is available in stores on October 6.
This book tells the backstory of Anna and Hans’ relationship from their perspective. (I’m excited to read this book.)
For more information on the Fairy Tale 2.0 collection:
Do you have a shelf in your home that looks something like the above photo? With 4 kids, I have several shelves like that. I’m always moving objects around to get to the books I want. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could capture those objects (and more) and keep them? Even add them to your digital scrapbook pages? (See how I did this at the end of the post.)
Sprout by HP
Sprout by HP is a one of a kind all-in-one desktop computer. I purchased my Sprout a few months ago and it has changed the way I scrapbook. Heck, it’s changed the way I do everything especially related to graphics.
3D on Sprout by HP
The one thing that excites me the most about the Sprout is its 3D scanner capabilities. I’ve tried scanning a 3D object on my 2D scanner and you get a weird flat picture. It doesn’t work.
But, the 3D desktop on the Sprout will capture your object in 3D. You can turn it all around and upside down and see what it looks like from all sides.
A video posted by Michele McGraw (@scrappinmichele) on
The process of making the 3D design is a lot of fun. Instead of describing it to you, I made a quick 40 second time-lapse video of the process. I love watching how the object takes shape on the screen with each scan.
Wasn’t that cool?
What To Do With a 3D Object
Now that I got the how out of the way, why would you want to create a 3D object? As I mentioned above, kids art projects are one example. Having a 3D model is a lot better than a picture. Let’s face it, we can’t keep every art project from every kid forever. But it is cool to preserve the project. You never know when they might become a famous sculptor and that art project may be worth millions!
Ok, maybe it would just be fun to show them the projects when they are 40 and show your grandchildren.
Create a 3D design of all the vacation objects you collect (shells, bracelets, etc.)
If you have small things around your house that may have sentimental value, but you don’t really want to keep them anymore, create a 3D scan of the image. You can also share with other family members too.
Create a 3D scan of your child’s hand every year on their birthday.
Add 3D scans to digital scrapbook pages.
Lego toys. My kids will get a new Lego, create the toy and then eventually the pieces come apart and it no longer looks like it originally did. My son had the idea to scan in pieces of it as you make it so you’ll remember how it looked. Some of the Legos are too large to fit on the 3D stage, but if you scan it in as you are creating it, it would be helpful.
Use a 3D scan and the Light Stencil software to trace something you need at any size like the shells I traced below.
I don’t think that is too bad for a first try. My sons both like to draw and are always trying to draw new things. I can also see this would be useful for school projects. Enlarging a state so you can draw the cities on it and so much more.
Printing Your 3D Scanned Object
Once you have the 3D design in the computer, you can manipulate it in many ways. Pull the 3D scan into 3D Builder and you can scale it to what you need. If you have a 3D printer at home, then you can use 3D Builder to print it.
HP has it set up so you can send your 3D scan to be printed and it will be shipped to you.
Creating Digital Scrapbook Page With 3D Images
I created this digital scrapbook page for my son using several of the Star Wars (and Star Trek) art projects that he has made in the past.
Here is the Sprout by HP. The pink arrow is pointing to the desktop which is exactly like the one you are used to using. I have Windows 10 on my Sprout.
The blue arrow is pointing to the mat which is similar to a mousepad (for lack of a better comparison.) It does so much more than a mousepad. There is a projector above the desktop that projects an image to the mat.
The mat (and desktop) are touch and stylus enabled.
This is the Sprout Workspace that shows up on the desktop (pink arrow above) when in the create mode. I used this mode to create my scrapbook page above.
This is the mat with the Create app and the stylus. I swiped the images from the top desktop (pink arrow) down to the mat (blue arrow) with just a flick of the image. Then it appears below. I used the stylus to write on the image.
Working with touch and a stylus gives you the most precise tool. You use whatever works best for you for the task you are doing. I love the options it gives me.
The Sprout by HP is so different from any other all-in-one desktop I’ve used. If you can think it, the Sprout can help you make it. You are the maker and the Sprout helps you make it.
Adding the 3D scanner stage gives a whole new level of creativity to the Sprout.
Disclosure: This is a Sprout by HP sponsored post. I was compensated and received the 3D scanner stage in exchange for this post. I purchased the Sprout by HP all-in-one desktop myself. All opinions are my own.
I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Virgin Mobile USA which is one of Sprint’s prepaid brands. I received two Virgin Mobile smartphones to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
Does your family have a mobile data hog? My family does. My daughters watch a lot of video on YouTube, Instagram and Vine and can quickly use our data mid month. Virgin Mobile (available only at Walmart) has a tool for parents that will help you divvy up that data. Add a chore chart and you can now reward your kids with data!!
Reward Your Kids With Data
I LOVE the idea of rewarding my kids with data. I have tried taking phones away when chores are not done and it may work, but I always prefer the reward method. I want my kids to do their chores on their own and learn that you have to work for what you have.
You can choose how many gigs are automatically given to mom and dad. I chose to give my kids 1 gig as a base. Anything after that is earned by doing their chores.
Here is how you divvy up the data using the Virgin Mobile app:
It’s so easy. When my daughter’s data ran out, she cleaned her room and I was able to immediately reward her with more data as I was checking her room. Easy peasy!
Data Hog Infographic
This infographic explains my data hogs perfectly. They fit the age range and the usage. It has cost us a lot of money when we were not tracking it closely. It was an expensive lesson.
And the pain scale! My husband has been at level 6 when the bill came.
Head to the closest Walmart and each member of your family can choose the phone they want. The Virgin Mobile app comes preloaded on all Virgin Mobile phones. You do not need to sign a contract. Just pick the Multi-Line Data Sharing plan for your family.
Using the app, you can add money to your account using prepaid cards. Parents have control of who gets the data, when the apps, calls and texting can be done. (You can turn it off when they go to bed.)
You will also get a free hotspot, so you can use the data with your laptop if needed. I use this when I am trying to do some work when I’m waiting for kids at dance.
One feature that came in handy for us was the unlimited usage apps. For $5/month, you can add unlimited streaming for a particular app like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pandora. Instagram is the one that gets my kids in trouble a lot, so that is a nice feature.
What are your thoughts on rewarding kids with data for their phone?
Disclosure: I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Virgin Mobile USA which is one of Sprint’s prepaid brands. I received two Virgin Mobile smartphones to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.
As I was writing this post, I had a change of heart. I started writing about shows on Netflix to watch to get back into the school swing of things. I was watching Project Mc2 while writing this and decided this show needs a post of its own.
What is Project Mc2?
Project Mc2 is a TV mini-series on netflix. There are three episodes on Netflix. It is about four super smart girls who join NOV8, a spy organization. The show has science, technology, engineering, arts and mail.
Here is a quick trailer:
Doesn’t that look like fun? How cool would it have been to be a spy when you were a tween? I have a tween girl and she would love it.
S.T.E.M. Role Models
I love Project Mc2 because these girls remind me of any tween girl you will find in middle school and they are super smart and love science, technology, engineering and math. #GirlPower
I want my daughters to know that science and technology is not just for boys.
These four girls take selfies, love clothes, do experiments, are spies, hang out with their friends and are BFFs.
I watch with my tween daughter and she thought it was different. She liked it and wished there were more than three episodes. She said she could relate to the girls and liked that they were smart and loved science.
So, grab your favorite tweens and watch Project Mc2. It’s definitely worth the time. Tween girls need to see more role models like these four on TV. They don’t even have a boy sidekick. Just the four girls.
I like to stock up at the beginning of the school year so that I have memory cards available when we need them.
When buying a memory card for your digital camera, be sure what size you need. It will probably be either an SD card or microSD card:
You can transfer video and photos at higher speeds with the SanDisk memory cards. That is so important for me because I always want the photos off my camera NOW. The SanDisk cards are over 10x faster than ordinary cards.
Tablets and Smartphones
There are several options for tablets and smartphones. Some have an expansion slot where you can insert a microSD card right in the device. You can add from 4GB to 200GB to store more photos, video or documents on your device.
USB for iPhone/iPad is another option for devices that do not have an expansion slot. You can easily transfer media off the iPhone or iPad to your computer leaving room to add more to the tablet or phone.
Android devices have another option of the Dual USB to free up space. Moving media to your computer leaves more free on the device.
Disclosure: Thereviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free
Have your kids been reading this summer? I encouraged my kids to read new books. I didn’t tell them what to read, but I asked them to find something new.
As I talked about in the past, summer drain sucks and I’m not big on homework, so summer reading is our alternative.
Back to School Fun
But as we head into August, we start thinking about going back to school. We went shopping for school supplies last weekend during our state’s tax-free weekend.
I still remember getting so excited to shop for new notebooks, pens and pencils. Even though I’m a tech addict, I still love paper and pens. My kids have my love of paper too.
5 Word Book Review
To make it easy, I’ve asked them for a 5 word book review. They sum up the book in 5 words. It’s a great way to get your kids to think about the overall book and share with you and you won’t get the sad face you would get if you asked for a book report in summer.
I asked everyone to give me their 5 word book review of their favorite book they read this summer. Here are the results:
Nathan – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – “It’s Harry Potter. Enough said.”
Sami – Vanishing Girls– “Shocking Plot Twist. Beautiful Story”
Nicky – Skeleton Creek – “It’s very scary and interesting”
Megan – Emily Windsnap Series– “Mermaid becomes who she is”
Me – Gone With the Wind – “Life on old southern plantation”
Energizer® and Scholastic are also partnering to create the “Power the Possibilities” Instant Win game. Starting on May 4, 2015, you can buy any specially marked pack of Energizer® brand batteries to scratch for a chance to win one of thousands of prizes that will power discovery and learning for your kids.
Scholastic Resources for Parents
If you are looking for more resources for reading geared towards parents, check out the links below. The tips are great for year round reading as well as summer reading.
And as summer draws to a close and the kids go back to school, it is still important for them to continue to read. I’ve found the best trick to get my 4 kids to read was to have a lot of books in the house. Finding books they enjoy is key too.
When my son was in grade school, he hated reading and I’ll never forget when he discovered that reading was fun. He had ordered a few comic type books through Scholastic at school. He finished the book and wanted more. It may not have been a chapter book, but it sparked his interest in reading.
Disclosure: This is a Scholastic sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
Which Bluetooth speaker should I buy? I get asked that question a lot. My answer is always, “the one that fits your lifestyle.” Insignia has two Bluetooth speakers a Best Buy that will fit just about everyone’s family lifestyle. Whether you are on the go or at home, one of these speakers is perfect.
Insignia Plug-in Bluetooth Speaker
When you are at home, a plug-in speaker works well because you do not need batteries. I like to put the plug-in Bluetooth speaker in my kitchen to listen to music while I’m cooking. The Insignia Plug-in Bluetooth speaker is my go-to home speaker.
The nice thing about this plug-in speaker is that it comes with a rechargeable battery. If you want to take the speaker into another room, the battery will last for 2 hours. The best of both worlds.
This Bluetooth speaker is compatible with most Bluetooth devices and comes with an audio input for your non-Bluetooth devices.
There is a USB port on the side to charge your device while using Bluetooth.
This Bluetooth speaker is very small and lightweight. It can be wrapped around a purse strap or attached to a backpack. The material is soft and it is splashproof, so you can listen at the beach and not worry about splashing water on it.
I love this one so much and I’m going to buy one for each of my four kids. They can easily take this with them anywhere and always have a Bluetooth speaker available. It comes in four colors and has up to 6 hours on a full battery charge.
The Planet Earth movies are some of our favorite. We learn so much about the planet and they are always interesting. Whether it’s about cold weather animals or the oceans, the BBC has a way of making learning fun.