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Time for the 2014 Ultimate Blog Party

April can only mean one thing in the Blogosphere. It is time to get hopping from blog to blog to meet new friends, and say hello to some from the past. Yes, it is time for the…

Ultimate Blog Party 2014

I really do enjoy The Ultimate Blog Party because it reminds us to head back out into the blogging community to do what we used to do all the time. You remember what that was, right? Oh the good old days of roaming around and leaving comments to our fellow bloggers. Now when so many people reading blog posts on Feedly or mobile devices many of us (including myself) are guilty of saying they will leave a comment later. So pull up a chair, have some delicious goodies, and let me introduce myself.

Snacks for the UBP 2014

My name is Beth and I have been writing on The Angel Forever since February 2007 when I was expecting my second son. I wanted a place to capture memories and be able to vent. All these years later, my blog has given me opportunities and experiences that I never would have imagined. Even more important, my blog has allowed me to meet some amazing people online and in real life who are now my very good friends.

Views from my world

The Angel Forever is a lifestyle blog where I write about my life. I have been married to TechyDad for almost 13 years and we have two boys, NHL 10 and JSL 6. I often write about books that we are reading for Tuesday Tales and participate in the fun Disney Wordless Wednesday to show my always present #DisneySide. As an educator, a passion of mine is Public School Advocacy. This week we joined countless families around New York State who had their children refuse the grade 3-8 ELA exam. In addition to this, I am an autism advocate who tries to educate others. Why? Well, two years ago, our son was finally diagnosed as an Aspie. Now I strive to help others to understand his perceptions of the world. Knowledge is power and the more people know, the better the level of acceptance will be.

In a way, blogging is therapeutic for me. It gives me a way to express how things are going in our life and share our adventures. Plus, in life there are no limits, so something fun or important is perfect for sharing here on The Angel Forever. Some of those items are our Whovian/geeky side, my fondness for tech items (I am a Verizon Lifestyle Blogger), my creative side with arts/crafts/knitting/crocheting, and travels to museums near and far.

We hope to share more of our travels and life experiences as we keep on swimming.

Are you participating in the Ultimate Blog Party? If you are, please let me know your post link and I will be sure to stop by. If not, why not join the fun? Take some time to look around and enjoy. I look forward to the fun over the next week and beyond!

FYI, you can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

It's Me

Previous posts about education and autism advocacy:

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Capture A Day and Instagram Photography Fun

It is hard to believe that at one time I did not have a smartphone. Now, as a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I have been able to try several different phones over the last year and share how they work in my life. In October, I was sent the Droid Mini to use and wrote about the lack of screen glare, how it helped with parent advocacy on the go, saving with the Isis Mobile Wallet, and more. I have to admit, I was planning on going back to another phone for a larger screen, but the smaller size in the winter months has been nice. The bone chilling cold means not being able use my phone while outside of school waiting for the boys, or in other locations. Still, if I want to take it out of my pocket I can snap a quick picture to use later.

Photo Challenge Fun on Instagram

Minnie, yes I named her, has been a wonderful asset when keeping up with social media channels like Instagram. I love to see what other people in my Instagram feed are doing. It really is a great community where you can get to know people and see how friends and family are doing. One items that I adore participating in is the #CaptureADay Instagram Photo Challenge from A Frugal Friend and Simple Sojourns. Just before the start of the month, Debra, Cathi, and David post the photo prompts. This was the one for February.

#CaptureADay Instagram Photo Challenge

Some days are more difficult, but it is fun to think outside of the box. The boys have also joined in and often ask me what the word is and try to help me to coordinate the photo. Here are a few example of my February #CapureADay photos.

Having fun with mini figures and ‘outfit’ options. Feb 11 #CaptureADay #PhotoChallenge
Not in ‘love’ with this mess. Feb 14 #CaptureADay #PhotoChallenge
Trying to ‘pack’ some fun into the last day of winter break. Feb 23 #CaptureADay #PhotoChallenge
It really is a lot of fun and thanks to Minnie, I can use my smartphone camera, apps to make collages, apps to watermark, and Instagram to share within that community, Twitter, and Facebook. So do you particpate in any online photo challenges? I would love to hear about them and please consider joining in the fun from my blogging friends.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I received the Motorola Droid Mini to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. There was no other compensation. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Puffy Paint Snowmen and The Last Snowman Blog Tour

When I wrote my review of The Last Snowman on Tuesday Tales almost two months ago, I kind of fell in love with the book and snowmen in general. As I watched JC share more of the reviews, I started to think about snowmen crafts to try with the boys if we were stuck at home. An opportunity came up to run a giveaway of The Last Snowman and some swag for my readers to celebrate the release of the paper book version. In case you are wondering, you can still purchase the Kindle version of the book for $3! Oh and if you grab that check out how the book is designed to ‘animate’ when you flip pages. I instantly knew what I wanted to try with the kids and include as a perfect activity to pair with reading this book. As you can see below, I now own a copy of the paperback version as well!

Puffy Paint Snowmen Paintings

So, when I agreed to be part of The Last Snowman blog tour I knew what I had to make. Years ago, I saw another teacher make puffy paint with kids to use in the classroom. It looked like the perfect paint to try for making our own Last Snowmen. The puffy paint only needs two simple ingredients. Of course, it is all about the props and accessories for the snowmen so other items had to be located from around the house.

Painted Snowman Supplies

Supplies for Making the Puffy Paint:

  • shaving cream
  • white liquid glue
  • construction paper – you do need something to paint on
  • paint brushes – different sizes work for for snowmen and snowflake making
  • bowl to mix paint
  • glitter – optional if you want your Last Snowman to sparkle

Supplies Suggestions for Decorating your own Last Snowman:

  • googly eyes – all snowmen need eyes that move
  • construction paper – makes great snowmen hats, scarves, mittens, and more
  • scissors – carrot noses need to be shaped along with other items
  • foam sheets – we did not use this, but had it in case we wanted to use it for snowmen arms or clothing
  • yarn – great for mouths and could be used for scarves
  • pom-poms – many uses within your painting
  • beads – my kids loved these instead of buttons for decorating their snowmen

You could honestly use almost anything you have in your crafting supplies to decorate your own Last Snowman. Think outside of the box and let your kids go wild.

Ready to make your paint? Just add equal amounts of white glue and shaving cream and mix. It really is that simple. I let each of my kids have their own bowl to test it out. When we found that one was a little too sticky on the paint brush, I added a smidge more shaving cream and it was ready to go. Your kids will love watching the mixture puff up. It really does this right before your eyes. Give everyone a piece of construction paper and let them get started.

Making Puffy Paint

Once the boys had their snow down onto their papers, it was time to decorate them. They decided that they wanted to stick with the construction paper to make hats, scarves, and arms for their creations. One nice feature about the puffy paint is that you just use a little bit on the items you want to add to your pictures and they will stay in place thanks to the glue.

Painting and Decorating Snowmen

Of course, once the kids were done, I had to try this out for myself. There was extra puffy paint, so I made my own snowman as well. Here are our three creations before they dried. (FYI – when it dries the snow puffed up even more. I was very impressed.):

Last Snowman Puffy Paint Creations

Giveaway Time:

Now that you can make your own Last Snowman with puffy paint, would you like to win a prize courtesy of author JC Little and her sponsors? Here are the prize details:

Giveaway Items for The Last Snowman Blog Tour

  • Author JC Little is giving the winner a paperback copy of The LAST Snowman. In addition to this, she is adding in a cute mug from her Zazzle shop that will feature illustrations from the book. As she notes, it will be perfect for a little hot chocolate after playing in the snow.

…and sponsor swagstuff. I’m so proud to offer this to your readers in both the USA and Canada! These are brands that I use myself all the time and I believe in them. – JC Little

  • Boiron will including a winter-themed swag bag with items that are specifically for the cold and flu season like Oscillo, Coldcalm, and Chestal.
  • Dot & Lil have designed a custom soap just for The LAST Snowman blog tour. The winner will receive a limited edition “Hot Chocolate Swirl” soap! It will be chocolate scented and have chocolate soap sprinkles on top, with the book cover design on the label. In addition to this, their gift bag will include Shea Rescue Butter for lips and nails.

Rules for Giveaway:

  • MAIN RULE – If you had to design your ideal Last Snowman, what would he or she look like? Tell me what they would be wearing and other details about their personality.

The following Bonus Entries may also be done. Please be sure to leave separate comment each time you complete this item.

  • 1 Bonus Entry – Tweet about the giveaway using the share button. Be sure to include @TheAngelForever and #TheLastSnowman within the message. Also feel free to thank the giveaway sponsors @BoironUSA and @DotandLil. You may do this entry twice a day.
  • 1 Bonus Entry – Head over to say hello to The Animated Woman and check out the other blogs participating in this tour. Leave her a message and let me know that you did this in the comments below.
  • 1 Bonus Entry – Draw or paint your own Last Snowman and share it via Instagram (if you do multiple snowmen or the kids do…share each one and enter below for each of your creations). Be sure to tag me @TheAngelForever @TheAnimatedWoman and #TheLastSnowman. When finished come back here and share a link to you picture.

Please follow the rules above within the comment section. Giveaway begins February 4, 2014 and ends February 10, 2014 at 10:59 EST. You do not have to be a blogger to enter, but must leave a valid e-mail address for me to contact you once the giveaway is over. I will select the winner using and contact you via e-mail. You will have 24 hours to claim the prize. If there is no response, another winner will be selected. Open to US and Canadian residents only.

So get your paint brushes ready, make a snowman, and be sure to enter the giveaway thanks to JC Little and her sponsors.

It's Me

Additional Disclosure: I wrote this post to participate in The Last Snowman Blog Tour because I love JC Little and wanted to share her success with my readers. I received a copy of the paperback book (which is gorgeous) and all opinions are my own. No other compensation was received and all giveaway items will be sent from JC Little and her sponsors to the winner.

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Tuesday Tales – The Last Snowman

The beautiful thing about story telling is that a simple life event can be inspiration. This is exactly what happened when JC Little, also known as The Animated Woman, decided to draw and tell the story of The Last Snowman. I had read about the book coming out, but one day TechyDad was talking with JC on Twitter and mentioned it would be perfect for Tuesday Tales. The rest is history, thanks to a review code being sent.  Oh and just an FYI, once the print copies are available I will be paying for my own to add to our library.

The Last Snowman by JC Little

If you are not familiar with JC, I have written about her Pickle Weasel app before. While the app is a lot of fun, JC’s blog is where she shares funny and sometimes more serious tales with her amazing animations. I mean come on, only JC can write about mammograms and squished boobs. More recently her post about self-publishing being similar to giving birth seems fitting with this post. Her blog is actually where The Last Snowman first appeared in a shorter format. Now, it is expanded and better than ever. You can purchase the eBook  in Kindle format and the print version is coming soon.

What I love about JC’s book is you can read the it and immediately take on her emotions as the mother looking at her teen daughter building a snowman.

Reading The Last Snowman by JC Little

As you read along, you can see the shift from pure story retelling, to a mother and daughter trying to hold onto some joys of childhood before becoming an adult. I could tell you more, but too much would really ruin the story. JC’s beautiful illustrations of that day and bigger life story truly give readers a lot to think about. Don’t be fooled, this book is not simply for mothers and their teens. I read the book with both of my young boys, and they really enjoyed the story of The Last Snowman as a picture book. This book would be a great talking point to use with teens, parents, and others that are going through a major life shift. I know I can not wait to see the next book from JC Little and hope that the birthing process is a little easier now that her first has been born.

What is your favorite post by JC Little on The Animated Woman?  If you have never read any, what are you waiting for?! As always, Tuesday Tales is all about sharing our love of books. Please let me know what you have read recently. Be sure to link up to your book posts in the comments below. Include something you read on your own, with a child, or someone else.

It's Me

Disclosure: As noted above, I received an eBook copy of this book from JC Little to review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

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Mandatory Trip to Menchie’s

It is no secret that I am a big fan of Dole Whips. While typing this up, I can already visualize walking through the Magic Kingdom and heading over to Aloha Isle to wait in line for a delicious Dole Whip Float. Yum! For Disney fans that adore this treat, you know that finding them outside of Disney parks is very tricky. There had been very few locations beside Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the Dole Pineapple Plantation in Hawaii. Last week, Lisa from Babes in Disneyland posted about a new discovery. She found out that a frozen yogurt chain called Menchie’s carried Dole products. Before you could say pineapple, I was on the Menchie’s website to see where they were located. That’s when I saw there were three stores in the Capital Region area. What I did not realize at the time was that the Colonie Center store was opening that very weekend.

Menchie's Opening Day at Colonie Center

Opening day of the new Menchie’s was also TechyDad’s birthday. He was curious and wanted to try to go there. Since they were giving away free yogurt for the first few hours, the place was packed and there was a giant line. We decided to go and have lunch and head back later. Of course, when we went back we were not hungry. We went inside and stumbled upon the manager of all of the local stores. He confirmed that the Capital Region locations do in fact have the pineapple Dole variety and it will be in the rotation of flavors. We were told that they would be updating their Facebook page with flavors. My guess is the first week has kept them on their toes and this has not been done, but I am hopeful that it will show up one day soon.

While JSL was in camp, NHL and I went out and he begged to go to Menchie’s to try something. So lunch that afternoon was a stop in Menchie’s. We had good timing with a quiet store so we could explore the flavors (no pineapple), toppings, and more.

Trying out Menchie's

NHL finally decided to have ICSB, which is ice cream sandwich. He added some fruit, popping boba, cookie dough, a chunk of brownie, and whipped topping. I decided to have a cake batter variety with strawberries, blueberries, popping boba, and a little cookie dough. NHL and I both enjoyed our creations and decided that we would have to go back another day when they have Dole Pineapple flavor to enjoy it with JSL and TechyDad.

So my question to you this week:

Have you ever been to a Menchie’s? I would love to know your dream creation there or at any other frozen yogurt destination.

It's Me

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this Friday fun. These days, Pamela at A Renaissance Woman is reviving the fun Friday Meme. Head over there to link up and join in the fun.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #250

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