Monday, August 14, 2017

The Bedtime Book By Mary Engelbreit Giveaway

The Bedtime Book
by Mary Engelbreit
Publisher: Zonderkidz
ISBN: 9780310733294

Summary:

Mama comes to tuck you in,
Pulls the covers to your chin,
Squeezes fingers, squeezes toes,
Lays a kiss upon your nose.
New York Times bestselling author Mary Engelbreit presents The Bedtime Book, a beautifully-illustrated picture book that pairs sleepy time text with Mary’s beloved, timeless art. From endearing poems and snuggly stories to sweet blessings and precious prayers, each page of The Bedtime Book features ways for you to read your little one to sleep.  The Bedtime Book has a beautiful cover decorated with embossing and spot gloss.
My Review:

I remember one of my favorite times with my children was bedtime. We'd read books, I'd tuck them in, and we'd pray. I always loved that time with them. We had a stack of bedtime books that we'd go through. Some were their favorites, others were mine that I loved sharing with them. I have always loved Mary Engelbreit, and was excited to see she had a new book out for children.

The first thing you notice is the beautiful artwork of Engelbreit! It's undeniable that this will quickly become a family favorite! There are familiar stories, sweet poems, and prayers. Each one gets it own set of critter families that children are sure to love.

This is an absolutely delightful book, and one that should grace any child's bookshelf.

About the Author:

Mary Engelbreit
Mary Engelbreit grew up studying the illustrations in the vintage storybooks of her mother’s own childhood, and she developed a unique style that harkens back to those simpler times. Mary’s distinctive images have made her a celebrity to millions, who eagerly snap up gift items, calendars, books, fabrics, and more. Mary’s dearest wish has always been to illustrate for children. Her New York Times bestselling The Night Before Christmas is already part of the holiday tradition for families across the country.
Now you have the chance to win this book for your family! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Threads Of Suspicion By Dee Henderson

Threads of Suspicion
by Dee Henderson
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN:

If you've read my reviews before of any Dee Henderson's books, you know I'm an avid fan. Whenever I have the opportunity to do a review of her books, I definitely jump on it. This time was no exception! Thanks to Bethany House, I was able to read the next installment of her Evie Blackwell Cold Case series.

Summary:

Evie Blackwell's reputation as a top investigator for the Illinois State Police has landed her an appointment to the governor's Missing Persons Task Force. With so much public fanfare surrounding the launch of this elite investigative team, the political stakes are high, and the team will have to produce results--and quickly.

Evie and her new partner, David Marshal, are assigned to a pair of unrelated cases in suburban Chicago, and while both involve persons now missing for several years, the cases couldn't be more different. As Evie opens old wounds in a close-knit neighborhood over the disappearance of a college student, David searches for a private investigator whose last case involved a high-powered client.

With a deep conviction that "justice for all" truly matters, Evie and David are unrelenting in their search for the truth. But the questions that lie just beneath the surface in Evie's personal life are also begging for answers.

My Review:

Do you ever think, "If I could have the mind of so and so, I'd be able to _______!"? That's how it was for me reading Threads of Suspicion. The reader is able to watch as Evie takes on the case of a missing college student. She's teamed up with David Marshal who's also trying to solve a missing person case in the same area. His approach to working through a case and Evie's is different, but it also helps both of them to work through the crimes. I'd say that's the part that I enjoyed the most throughout the story.

There was also the side stories of the relationships they have with their boyfriend and girlfriend. Evie is trying to work through her thoughts and emotions about potentially being married to Rob. David has been dating and engaged to a famous pop star for years, but after he became a Christian, Maggie struggled with his new found faith.

I found some interesting overlapping of cases and relationships in the story. Seems that six degrees of separation can happen even in crimes. Henderson keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as she takes them from one possible answer to another as Evie and David try solving their mysteries! I'm already looking forward to the next installment!

About the Author:

Dee Henderson is the author of numerous novels, including TakenUndetectedUnspoken, Full Disclosure, and the acclaimed O'Malley and Uncommon Heroes series. Her books have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, such as the RITA Award, the Christy Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion. Dee is a lifelong resident of Illinois. Learn more at www.deehenderson.com.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summer Fun Giveaway Event With The Rope Co.

Last year I had the pleasure of working with The Rope Co. on a review and giveaway of their doormat. It still graces my front door. I can't wait until we have a patio and I can add one there, too. I've already seen some of the ones they're working on for Christmas, and this gal is planning ahead!

This year I've partnered with them once again! With it being the month of July, our month of Independence, and working with this Made in the USA company & The Rope Co. makes my heart happy how could I choose any other? And if you haven't checked out their Instagram feed, you're missing out on some great photos! I'll be doing a review soon on their beautiful bins.




Aren't those wonderful? The bin I'll be receiving is similar to the top one in color. The only thing I have to do is figure out where I'm going to put it because I have a LOT of ideas where I'd like to see it. I'll probably end up getting a couple more!

Now you have the chance to win The Rope Co. bin, too!


School is out, the days are long, the sun is hot, and the giveaways are a plenty! Come join us for some summer fun . Anderson's Angels, This Mamas Life, The More The Merrier and Woven by Words, are very excited to bring you the Summer Fun Giveaway Event! We've teamed up with over 15 other wonderful bloggers, to bring you another great giveaway event! Each blog has gathered a prize package worth $25 or more so be sure to visit each blog and enter!

Hosts & participating hop bloggers of the Summer Fun Event are not responsible for sponsors or self-sponsoring bloggers that do not fulfill prize obligations. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 7, 2017

Be Prepared For Bad Weather

One of the things I looked forward to when I moved to the East Coast was no more threats of tornadoes. Well, I learned pretty quickly that Maryland has tornadoes just like Minnesota! In Minnesota one of my first purchases was a Midland weather radio. Now that we're full on into tornado season, I reached out to Midland to see if I could do a review of their WR120. Thank my lucky stars they agreed!


I left mine in Minnesota honestly thinking I wouldn't need it here. I mean, if there's a hurricane, everyone's going to know about it, and I'm just going to drive to my mom's with plenty of time to spare. Finding out there were tornado warnings

When we lived in Washington, the girls had to put together a bad weather kit to bring to preschool and elementary school. It was in case an earthquake happened and they were stuck at the school for an extended period of time. I was shocked they didn't do the same in Minnesota for possible tornadoes.

I took this in the dark so you could see how bright the notification is.

So, I uproot the family and head to VA/MD and find out, SURPRISE! they have tornadoes, hurricanes, and have had the occasionally mild earthquake. What the...? And here I sat with nothing around the house to warn us in the middle of the night if something is heading our way. I also wasn't expecting to live close to the Bay and a hurricane would do some seriously mess with our home.

This bad boy will alert us anywhere in this house because the alarm is LOUD! lol The first night we had it plugged in, it went off downstairs at like 4am. Thankfully I figured out how to work that radio and we shouldn't be freaked out at 4am unless absolutely necessary! Let me just say, it's been moved to the bedroom so it can alert us and we can make decisions on what to do after the alert.

Now we have the new WR120 from Midland to help keep us alerted to any weather that would effect us and our home. It was extremely easy to set up.

What I like about weather radios is that you can pick the areas around you that you know you're close to, which is called Specific Area Message Encoding. You can pick up to 25 of those areas! I've usually picked the ones that surround out county. That way if something is possibly heading to our area, we'll know with plenty of notice.

I decided on the tone display at the lowed volume. I figured the voice might freak me out in the middle of the night and the display wouldn't wake me up even thought it's bright enough. Even at the lowest volume it's enough to wake us up in the middle of the night.

When we lived in Minnesota, we had a type of shelter in our house that was mostly surrounded with concrete and was under the stairs. We called it the cubby. If we heard the word "tornado" and it was anywhere near us, we'd head into the cubby and sit there until the weather had passed us. I always just kept a deck of cards down there and had them grab something from their room to pass the time.


Now I know it would've been better to have kit created for each kid so they could just have it in the cubby or safe place when the need arose. Every spring or late fall we ended up sitting down there for at least 15 minutes. I put together a couple of kits to give you ideas of what you could include:

Bad Weather Survival Kits For Kids

  • Granola Bar
  • Water Bottle
  • Deck of Cards
  • Travel Game
  • Activity Book
  • Crayons
  • Rubik's Cube
  • Sudoku (for mom or dad)
Be prepared for bad weather with these survival kits that your kids can use! They're definitely boredom busters when you're trying to stay safe.

A great place to find some inexpensive books and games is at a dollar store or maybe even Goodwill! Super easy to keep the kids distracted, especially if you end up having to stay in your safe area for longer than expected.

I'm glad to have a weather radio again. I can't think of a home that couldn't put one to use, whether for a thunderstorm, tornado, or other bad weather that could effect your family.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Purity Box

So far with each of my four kids, we've had the purity talk. Having grown up without any sense of making good choices, it was extremely important for me to let my kids know there IS an option other than doing what everyone else does. They don't have to experiment. They CAN save themselves for marriage, and it's ok!


For me, training up my kids in this starts a lot earlier than when they're in middle to high school. It starts when they're younger. It's part of the conversation and how I raise them. We all learn at a very young age how we should approach certain things in life. One of the first lessons I learned, when I was training up my girls, was how I was going to train up my boys.

It's never been about telling them what to do. It's been about explaining why I ask them to do something. If we're at the movies and previews aren't appropriate, I ask them to look elsewhere. Why? Because boys/men store thousands of images in their brains. If they fill their brains with half naked women, women undressing, or people engaging in any form of sensuality, then those images will come to mind over and over again.


That being said, I've conveyed to them how beautiful a woman's body is. That our bodies were made to enjoy sex and experience intimacy. God created us with that desire and drive. If God created it, then it's not a bad thing, right? What I believe is that it's to be saved for marriage. Unfortunately, I will never have the joy of giving myself to one person. I will never know what it's like to save my all for the person I hope to spend my life with. My prayer is that all four of my children will. They might not, but my hope is that they will.

So, what's up with this purity box? It's something that came to me when my oldest daughter was entering her teens. We hear about luggage that we pull and drag with us as we go from relationship to relationship, right? I wanted my kids to understand that their purity is a gift. It doesn't have to be luggage.


I wrapped a box that has a ring inside it. I gave this one to my youngest son. Here's how it works. We give the box to my son. I explain pretty much what I've shared here. That his gift to his wife will be his purity. With the hope that he's saved himself for his future wife, he can present her the ring that's inside.

We let him know that we love him and share what we believe God has designed intimacy for. Then we explain what happens to his gift if he decides he'd like to share it with someone else before his wife. He may end up getting some tears in the wrapping. Maybe he and a girl only date for a couple of months and don't go "all the way." Well, we know that intimacy is intimacy no matter what "base" they make it to.


Maybe he decides he likes how it feels to be in a relationship or just the intimacy with a girl. The more relationships he's in the more the gift is ripped and torn. And it's not just physical intimacy that effects the box. Emotional and mental intimacy (basically baggage) begins to deteriorate the box as well. Since we can't see the future, we don't know what kind of shape the box would be in by the time he finds "the one." What he CAN see is what the gift could potentially look like when he hands it to his future wife.

The kids are able to see the contrast between the gift when it's first presented to them from us, to when he's ready in life to give it to the woman he loves. As he's growing up, he has a choice to make. It's not easy to make what we consider to be the right choice. It's not the popular choice in the world we live in. That's ok. Isn't everyone encouraged to buck the trend? These days I figure pursuing purity is doing just that!

Talk to your kids about the purity option. This is one way to teach them a different path to choose!

Giving our kids a purity ring or necklace isn't the end all be all of the discussion. It's open ended. It's also not a magical box. I know it won't make it so my kids don't make different choices. It's mostly symbolic of our hope for our kids. We love them and definitely want what's best for them. Purity is what we hope and pray they'll choose.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Dragon Seed By Marty Machowski

Dragon Seed
by Marty Machowski
Publisher: New Growth Press
ISBN:

I really love when I get the chance to review books for youth! I received this one from Litfuse Publicity and shared it with my 14 yr old.

Summary:

An angry teen, a desperate mother, a missing father, and a shadow lurking in the background.
Things were going from bad to worse for Nick and his family. Tempted to run away after yet another argument with his mom, Nick receives a handwritten, leather-bound copy of an old book-a family legend passed down to him from his great grandfather. The book, called Dragon Seed, leads Nick deep into his family's history and introduces him to another angry young man who lived in the shadows (the shadows of the tombs). Like Nick, you'll be shocked to discover where he fits in this story of epic proportions!
This page-turning, young adult fiction story invites older children and teens into the real-life struggles of Nick. But it also ushers them into an imaginative exploration of the life of the young man Jesus saved as he wandered through the tombs. Best-selling author Marty Machowski uses both stories to introduce the reality of spiritual warfare and how its shadows affect and change us.
Machowski, a trusted teacher for children of all ages, presents a thoroughly biblical view of spiritual warfare that emphasizes the importance of humility and dangers of pride. Teens will be drawn to the story of Nick and his struggles and will learn, as they read, to also identify the shadows in their own life and turn from them. While the biblical teaching is evident throughout the narrative of Dragon Seed, Machowski also includes a twelve-lesson Bible study at the end of the book to help teens ground their understanding of spiritual warfare on biblical principles.
Youth pastors, leaders, and parents will also want to explore with teens the small group study at the end of the book with its unique take on spiritual warfare that emphasizes the biblical theme of humility. This is a perfect book to read with a group and discuss together the implications of Nick's struggles for their lives.

My Review:

I thought this was an interesting book. The idea of it initially reminded me of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I wasn't sure how my son would take to an allegory book, but he seemed to like it. This would be a good book for pre-teens and teens.

I think the family that's represented is very relatable. Kids from the same family react differently to life situations. Nick is mad at the world and takes it out on his family. His sister, Martha, is putting all of her effort into being a fabulous student. Mary, along with her mom, is trying to keep what's left of her family from falling apart.

A story has been passed down through the family in the form of an allegory. I love how these kinds of stories work to really help the reader understand through the hidden meaning of how important our faith is. Through Nick reading this story, teens are able to understand the spiritual world. In fact, I really appreciate authors who point out the things that happen around us that we're rarely aware of.

Now, I thought the names the author gave the demons were a bit cheesy. I thought for this age group he could've gotten a bit more creative. The names seemed more like you'd find them in an elementary story than a story like this. There were a few spots where I thought the story was trying too hard to be allegorical. Can a story sometimes be too descriptive? Then again, this book is geared to young teens so maybe that's more to their liking.

At the end of the book there's a 12 day prescription to help the reader work through uprooting what the author refers to as the dragon seed. You'll have to read the book to find out what he's referring to. It's a good way for the kids finish the story and really attempt to relate it to their own lives.

I think this would also be a good book for teen youth groups to work through as a small group.

About the Author:

Marty Machowski is the Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, where he has served on the pastoral staff for over 25 years. Marty leads Promise Kingdom, the children's ministry of Covenant Fellowship. He is the author of a systematic theology for children entitled "The Ology," "Long Story Short," "Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God," "The Gospel Story Sunday School Curriculum" and the companion "Gospel Story Children's Bible." He and his wife, Lois, and their six children reside in West Chester, Pennsylvania area.
Find out more about Marty at martymachowski.com.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

My First Awesome Con

What do you do when you're surrounded by guys who love everything Marvel Comics, DC Comics, and Star Wars? You make your way to Awesome Con, DC's Comic Con! I reached out to the people who put it on, and they sent me a press pass to check it out for the first time!


Now, when I was a teenager, eons ago, I was fascinated by Dr. Who. I started watching it with my dad when Tom Baker was the Time Lord. That was back in the early 80s. I didn't realize at the time that I was watching a series that would become a cult classic. I hadn't actually kept up with it at all. Then a couple of months ago, I randomly started watching BBC America. Dr. Who would play for a few hours and then Star Trek would come on. Needless to say, my husband was mystified as to what was going on with his wife.


That being said, I watch these kinds of shows & movies for fun. My guys, and attenders at events such as Awesome Con, are serious about everything. Fred is a huge fan of Star Trek. He can tell me the names of planets they've visited, what each of their weapons are called, which crew goes with which captain, etc. My oldest son could pretty much tell you everything about Star Wars and Marvel. I have a feeling he'd like to be best friends with Stan Lee!


So, when we got to DC, Fred had to take the lowly front entrance since he paid for his ticket. He was able to mingle with all of the elaborately dressed people. A couple thousand of his closest sci-fi loving friends. I on the other hand was able to enter through the press entrance and walked right into the event. When I got in, right at opening, it was super quiet on the floor. Man, that is the WAY to go! No lines for anything, no trying to squeeze myself through throngs of people. I made the most of it!


I walked around all of the merchandise booths. SO. MANY! I had no clue there was so much to sell at a Comic Con event. I also didn't realize that there were so many artists. I walked through the Stan Lee collection and sakes alive, it was amazing! Again, it was so nice to be able to spend time looking at everything without being surrounded by hordes of people. I can't imagine what it's like being Stan Lee and living with such a vast collection of memorabilia.


After walking through the collection, I walked down to where the actors were hanging out. They each had a little booth. Not many were there yet, but wow, being an actor at an event is definitely a money maker. The actor who used to play Harry Kim on one of the Star Trek seasons would take a selfie with you for $25! Others like John Barrowman was there and I think with a signed photo it was $40? He also had his sister there who was out chatting with people in their line.


I meandered down to the large, closed off curtain area, and I guess that was where Stan Lee was going to be. To get inside the curtain, you paid $120 to take a photo for him to sign. It is definitely GOOD to be Stan Lee. I know my son would've given his left arm for that autograph, but I just didn't have it in me.


Fred finally made it into the conference center about an hour and a half after I did? lol Poor guy. By that time, I was hungry and getting something to eat at one of the handful of vendors. After he got in, we walked around and looked at the artists and merchants. I've never seen to many leather bustiers in one place! lol


We found an artist who had a portfolio full of original work. Displayed he had the artwork printed and able to be purchased. It was black and white, but if you wanted pieces of the characters colored in, he would charge a higher amount. We bought my son The Arrow and the mask was colored green. Then we found a lady who was doing artwork on a variety of journals and doodle pads. We got Fred's daughter one with a dragon on the front of it.



One of the booths Fred wanted to go see was the Legion. They have people who dress up like Star Wars characters for a variety of events and donate money to a good cause. We caught them as they were doing a fun group photo!



I'm hoping we can get back again next year. If so, we're definitely dressing up and we're taking the boys with us. I'll have to make sure they bring a good amount of money because I know they're going to want to meet the actors and actresses. lol

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Eating Before & After A Workout

I wanted to share what I've learned about my body since I started going to the gym back in February. When I started going, I wasn't sure what to eat or when to eat it. It's still a huge process for me, and a ton I still don't understand about how food works with our bodies, but here's what's worked for me.


I realized that I needed to eat at least two hours before any workout I do, which is pretty much always Zumba. What I also figured out is, I can't eat just anything 2 hours before. The best thing I've figured out to eat is a small bowl of zucchini pasta with spaghetti sauce. I was eating regular spaghetti, but I've really been digging zoodles these days.

There were days that I grabbed a banana and ate it shortly before class. Bad choice. Even though I was eating something healthy, it made me feel sick to my stomach. If I was hungry before class, but hadn't eaten anything it wasn't going to be good. After class I typically didn't feel well either. In fact, for the rest of the evening I'd feel sick to my stomach. I'm sure a fitness guru would be able to explain why.


The other piece is that I couldn't drink a lot of water while working out. I found that I needed to hydrate mostly before I started my workout and just have sips during it. Again, I'd start to feel sick to my stomach if I drank too much during the class. It's just the craziest thing. I mean, who'd expect that when you want to be hydrated, right?

If I eat something small before class, by the time I get home I'm pretty hungry, and typically have a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with a glass of milk or zoodles! I'm pretty consistent with what I eat. Of course, I have no idea if those are the things I "should" be eating, but it gets me through the time before and after, so I'm good with it.


So, for me, it's about understanding my body. Not that I really understand it all too well. At some point my goal is to learn how to utilize food as fuel before and after my workouts, but for now, just not feeling sick during and after is my goal!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

The Captain's Daughter
by Jennifer Delamere
Publisher: Bethany House
ISBN: 978-0764219207

As a fan of historical Christian fiction, I was excited to receive this book from Litfuse Publicity to review.

Summary:

Warm-hearted Victorian romance brings 1880s London to life.

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.
A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he's glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can't wait to leave behind.

My Review:

As a first introduction to Jennifer Delamere's writing, I have to say, it was a delightful experience! The Captain's Daughter starts off with the reader getting a quick introduction to three sisters: Cara, Rosalyn, and Julia Bernay. The sisters have had it rough, but they're looking towards the future hopeful.

Rosalyn's situation starts off with promise, but when we meet her, things have clearly gone south. Circumstances have her landing in London, and things get even worse, which doesn't seem possible. God is at work in the midst of it, and provides at just the right time. With the author's writing, you can sense the turmoil Rosalyn's going through, but you also want to help her out by steering her in a different direction. lol

We're introduced to Nate Moran at the start of the story as well. Poor guy, trying to help Rosalyn, ends up not being so helpful. Thankfully soon after they're able to meet properly and under better circumstances. Nate seems to feel a pull towards Rosalyn, but with being burned once before and planning to head back to India, he tries to keep an emotional distance from Rosalyn.

I was really pulled in by the storyline of the opera house. It was fun recognizing names of the people Ms. Delamere wrote about like Gilbert & Sullivan and George Müller. I think because the story covered such a short period of time the reader is easily pulled into the theater world of the story. There were characters I enjoyed like Jessie and Mrs. Hill as well as ones who rubbed me the wrong way like Tony Hayes. It was fun also getting to know Nate's whole family. Makes me hope the author writes more about her, although I'm hoping the next book in the series will either be about Julia or Cara.

As for the summary, I was a little confused as to the "talented musician and singer" part. Rosalyn sings a sweet lullaby to her sister in the prologue, but you don't really get that she's grown up to be that person. It seems like she mostly would sing to herself since she spends years as a companion to a widow. When she sings for the first time for fun, you wouldn't think she was a seasoned musician and singer, but that's not really how she's written in the story. As she continues to work at the theater, you can see her natural talent shine through and her joy being part of it all.

If you're looking for an easy summer read, this should definitely be on your reading list. I finished it in a day! I'm already looking forward to book two in the London Beginnings series!

Delamere pin 2

About the Author:

Jennifer Delamere's debut Victorian romance, "An Heiress at Heart," was a 2013 RITA award finalist in the inspirational category. Her follow-up novel, "A Lady Most Lovely," received a starred review from "Publishers Weekly" and the Maggie Award for Excellence from Georgia Romance Writers. Jennifer earned a BA in English from McGill University in Montreal, where she became fluent in French and developed an abiding passion for winter sports. She's been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades, and lives in North Carolina with her husband.
Find out more about Jennifer at jenniferdelamere.com 

Monday, June 19, 2017

My Week With Blue: Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD

Do you ever experience something and wonder how you are going to share everything you want about it? That's where I'm at right now. I just finished experiencing test driving the 2017 Mazda CX-9 Signature AWD, and it was amazing. I've been trying to figure out how to encapsulate it in one post, so hopefully I can do it!


My only experience with Mazda has been my dad's Miata, and that was fun to ride in. When the CX-9 showed up I kind of gave it a judge eye because I have a crossover (do we call them that any more) and I wasn't sure how it would compare. Let me give you a comparison as to what this drive was like.  Right now the car I drive is an '09 and would describe as a flip phone. The Mazda CX-9 is like the newest smartphone that's just hitting the market! THAT'S how vastly different they are.



So, where do I start? Maybe by telling you I named her. I've never named my cars. She was easy to name. I named her Blue in honor of how I knew I'd feel once she left me. I referred to her as Blue during our adventures which included baseball games, birthday parties, garden centers, and just tooling around town.

My first step was to figure out all of the bells & whistles. There was so much to familiarize myself with. I started with the center console, where you control much of what goes on "smart wise" in the car. It's what they call MAZDA CONNECT™ infotainment systemIt's the size of a tablet that sits on the dashboard. It's basically your command center sitting right next to you. It didn't take nearly as long as I expected to familiarize myself with everything, but it all came together in no time.



Let's chat about the seats. The driver and passenger are able to control their own temperature and the passengers in the 2nd & 3rd row share one as well. The Signature comes with divine premium Nappa leather. Those seats were heavenly to sit in. Made me miss leather seats. Speaking of those seats, the driver and passenger have heated seat options! Gosh I love that. The driver's seat also has 2 memory buttons, something I genuinely miss in the vehicle I have now.



Between the seats is the dual armrest. I've never seen a split armrest, but each side can open a half. Not impressed with that, and it doesn't make sense to me, but each to her own, right? There are two USB ports inside the armrest. There's also a plug in towards the floor on the passenger's side, but it's really awkward to get to. None of those 3 spots works while the car is off. Definitely a negative for me, BUT (and this is the strange part) the drop down armrest in the second row also has dual ports, but one actually charges while the car is off. So there IS that. If it comes down to needing a charge, it's found in the 2nd row armrest.



Now let's talk about one of the feature that does a TON for this Mazda. It's called i-ACTIVSENSE®. This gives you some added safety features that you didn't realize you shouldn't be living without. I'm missing them A LOT now that Blue is gone! I honestly won't be able to do it all justice in my explanation, but if you watch my Facebook Live video you'll see everything I'm talking about.

 

If you are using cruise control, the sensors will pick up if you're getting to close the car ahead of you and will slow your car down and then speed it back up when needed. There's the Advanced Blind Spot Monitoring when a car is in your blind spot. It will show up in your side mirrors, on your monitor in your windshield, and as a chime. It. Is. Amazing! Then partnered together are the Lane Departure Assist & Lane-Keep Assist. If the car detects you're departing from your lane, it'll push you back away from the line and jiggle your steering wheel. So stinking cool! Really not sure how I'm supposed to live without these in my old car!



Ok, these next two pieces, which you will also see in my video, are just mind blowing to me. One is super simple and now that I don't have it, I want to cry while driving in the dark. lol So, you know how when you're driving at night and you have to keep switching your low beams to your high beams. Oh my gosh, it can drive a person batty, right? Well, their High Beam Control does it for you. FOR YOU! Whoever came up with that should get a raise or at least a bonus! Then...seriously you have GOT to check this out, they have something called the Adaptive Front-Lighting System. Your headlights freaking turn WITH you...as in they move as you go around a corner then adjust back with your steering wheel! I was absolutely fascinated by this feature. You've got to experience it all to really get the full effect. Again, you can see this in my video!



Oh! Something else that really wowed me was the attention to certain lighting details. There is very subtle lighting inside the door handles. I always feel like I'm searching for the door handle to get out of whichever vehicle I'm in. There's also the LED grilled accent lighting that gives it just that extra bling. The interior lighting is bright, but not harsh on the eyes.



I've never had a moonroof in any of my cars, and with this gorgeous weather, I made sure we enjoyed every single moment of it. That meant I didn't get to try out the rain sensing windshield wipers. I actually hoped for a rainy day just to experience them. Another feature I've missed from my minivan days of old is the power lift gate. From the driver's seat you can push a button, you can push it on your key fob, or if you squeeze the lift gate handle it will open! Magical I tell ya!

Moving back to the second and third row seats, they do a lot more than any of my seats have ever done. The second row seats are rather heavy to push up and I wasn't able to do it one handed. I was actually surprised at how much they weighed. lol It's a 60/40 split and can slide forward to give more room to the back and will also recline! The third row seats 2 and is a 50/50 split. Dropping the back row definitely gives more cargo room if you're road tripping it somewhere or just going to the garden center like I did and stocking up on new plants and soils.



I never had a chance to pack Blue full like we do on occasion with our own vehicles. The Mazda CX-9 is surprising strong for a little 4 cylinder. I think it would probably haul the normal things we'd stick in the back. Maybe next time I'll put it to the test! Speaking of the engine, it has what they call SKYACTIV® TECHNOLOGY which helps with "driving dynamics and efficiency." Now, say you're driving this baby and getting onto the freeway, this came with something called Sport Mode. You can switch that on at any point and kapow, you've just kicked it up a notch. Let me tell you, zoom zoom definitely comes into play. Of course, your mpg drop when you use this Mode.

Going back to our own cars has been quite the transition. Before it was picked up to be shared with another driver, I had to move Blue and my crossover out of the driveway. Pulled her out easy peasy. Got in mine, and sakes alive, it felt like I was moving a tank! I hadn't driven it in almost a week, and the difference was that significant. Letting Blue go wasn't going to be easy. Since Blue has been gone I've compared her to my car every time I get behind the wheel. I realized how important a role those safety features play in your every day driving, and I appreciate them more now that I no longer have them!
Overall Blue was a fantastic automobile to drive. She was fun and zippy. There were a couple of things that I wasn't fond of (as mentioned above), but not so much in a way that I'd pick a different vehicle over her. Mazda has thought of pretty much everything, and I'd give her a place in my driveway!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Season Of Baseball

My youngest son has been playing baseball since he was just a wee little boy. He played with all of his little friends from school. Aside from one year, when we lived in Virginia, baseball has been a big love for our spring.


He's definitely improved year after year. This year has been a really good growth year for him even though his team hasn't won a single game. lol So, in this county they mix ages. My son is finishing 8th grade and he's playing with kids who are two years younger than him. There's even one boy on the team who's in 9th grade, but turned 15 after the age cutoff.


Unfortunately, he's on the B team this year. That's because of two things: there aren't any tryouts and the coach who's doing both A & B teams doesn't know my son's abilities. Thankfully he was able to see my son's skill with the game and has brought him up to the A (Gold) team several times the past few weeks. My boy seems to be the first kid he asks now. Gotta love that as a mom!


This post is basically a brag about my kid. lol I don't have crazy aspirations of him becoming a pro baseball player. I just like him keeping active outside. He's willing to play, so Fred & I are will to drive him to practices and games! Besides, I love cheering my kid on.


He's only got one game left for this season and then he's on to high school ball next year. That means things are going to get dicier. There's going to be real competition for positions and being off the bench. Up till now every player got equal time on the field and at bat. Not sure what next year will look like.


For the first time, this year he's gotten to play first base every single game. He wasn't looking to play that position, but they realized he's very reliable there. The other position he played was center outfield, which is what he's played for the last few years. He's got a strong arm and can throw far.


What he needs to work on is hitting. It's probably his biggest weakness. This weekend's game he kept connecting with the ball and it was amazing! Actually, the past couple weeks he's increased his contact with the ball.


Once he gets on base though, it's no holds bar. That boy can steal a base! It's one of the things I tried teaching him at an early age even though he wasn't able to do it until he was in middle school. HA! It's come in handy the past few years though, and he's just gotten better at it. He knows how to watch the pitcher. Now, that being said, several games ago he was getting pretty cocky, and almost ended up being called out trying to steal home.


When he got back to the bench, he looked at me and knew. lol We have this great connection when he's playing the game. If he gets a good hit, makes a good steal, has a good play out in the field, he automatically looks at me and we either pump fists, give a thumbs up, or something that says we know what just happened with the play. It's really something I cherish. Well, when he got back after this at bat, we talked about his cockiness and that it wouldn't serve him well every time. I don't ever want him getting too big for his britches and he really saw how badly that could go even though he made it home to get the run. Don't get me wrong. I love him challenging the pitcher to try and make a steal, but how he did it this one time nearly cost him an out.

I'm sad that the season is almost over since I love watching him play, but I'm looking forward to what's to come with his enjoyment of the game!

 
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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.