Thursday, November 10, 2016

Visiting Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse

Reviewing our Visit to Portsmouth Lighthouse


Our son moved to New Hampshire this summer, so we made our first trip to visit his family in September.  While there we all took a Sunday afternoon drive to the coast and visited the town of Portsmouth Harbor.  I love lighthouses and I was anxious to show my two young granddaughters their first lighthouse.

The Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is just north of the city of Portsmouth on the grounds of Fort Constitution.  Fort Constitution is a Revolutionary War fortification.  My granddaughters enjoyed walking around the grounds and seeing the old fortress.  After looking over the grounds we made our way to the lighthouse.  The lighthouse was available for climbing that afternoon so several of us decided to make the climb.  We found out the lighthouse is sometimes called  Fort Point Light, New Castle Light, and Fort Constitution Light in addition to Portmouth Lighthouse.

The photo below shows my granddaughter Emily climbing the steps to the lighthouse with her Mom.


View from the Top

Here are several photos I took from on top of the 48 foot lighthouse.  The first is the lens that can be seen for 12 nautical miles.


Zazzle Products from my Photographs


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Reviewing 4 Beautiful, Affordable Scarves for The Women in Your Life!

There isn't a woman around who doesn't love the look and feel of a beautiful scarf around her neck.  

There is something wonderful and enticing about the colorful scarves that just seem to make an outfit go from okay to a Knock Out!

Scarves can take your everyday little black dress and make that dress just "Pop". One black dress can look so different depending on the addition and color of a simple scarf.

Beautiful Scarves for Women

What I love about this accessory is that there are literally hundreds of different styles and colors to choose from. Large squares are great for accessorizing your wardrobe. There are also long rectangular scarves that lend themselves to be knotted in many different ways.

Ways to Wear or Tie a Scarf

They are an inexpensive addition to your wardrobe that can lift your outfit from plain to outstanding. Long scarves can be knotted, draped or just left sitting on your shoulders. Each way you choose to wear it gives it a different look.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure it all out. But, let me help you with this video and you can try these methods at home. See which way you like to knot your scarf and then try something different on another occasion.

Scarves can be dressy or very casual. I suggest the silk scarves for work or evenings out. Silk scarves just say "special occasion or dressy occasion" to me.
As you can see from this picture, scarves can be made out of many different fabrics. Each one has its place in your wardrobe. Colors are also so varied that you will have no problem finding the ones that you like the best. Wherever you travel you will find that scarves are one of the hottest items to buy for your friends back home or for yourself.

A few years ago, Oprah made the Pashminas (light wool and silk scarves) so fashionable that the prices of them became prohibitive for most people. Today you can buy them at much more reasonable prices, but the fiber contents may vary. Let's just say, they were beautiful and extravagant! Scarves can be affordable and still beautiful. One will never ever be enough.

Long cotton scarves can be used for hiking and horseback riding adventures. Going out to the country fair and wanting to look just a little dressy will be so easy with some heavier scarves. Depending on the time of year, even woolen scarves would be appropriate and even very classy. If ever you need a gift that will make a lady happy and smile, I would suggest a beautiful scarf. They are a gift that will be used and enjoyed for many years to come.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Goliath Season 1 Reviewed

An Excellent Crime Drama To Stream

Judge's Gavel from
If you are looking for a good crime drama to stream, I can highly recommend Goliath (Season 1) currently available with an Amazon Prime membership. My guess is that later on, you may be able to purchase episodes without the membership but I don't know that for certain. 

My husband and I love to stream both movies and series on a regular basis. I have to say that every original series or movie from Amazon has been most excellent including the series released in October of 2016...Goliath. 

Billy Bob Thornton plays the character of Billy McBride who was once a very powerful attorney. He is now pretty washed-up and burned out and at first glance is nothing like the man he once was. He lives in a motel room and spends a lot of time in a bar that happens to be next door to the motel. In the beginning episode it is difficult to imagine that this guy helped start one of the most influential law firms in the city. Well, looks can be deceiving!

McBride is approached to help with a wrongful death suit with the idea that it will never go to court and that a settlement can be reached quickly. McBride was never one to go for an easy case and at first says that he is not even remotely interested. When he starts to hear the facts of the case, he quickly sees that there is something way more sinister at play and agrees to take it on. Oh, he doesn't plan on a settlement, he wants to expose just how wrongful the death was and make the bad guys pay for their crime. His approach is unorthodox in many ways but his results are intriguing and remarkable. 

This series is so well written and the actors and actresses chosen for the roles are superb.

I should warn you that if foul language offends you, you may not like this show. Personally, I think it makes the story more believable because unfortunately people do talk that way. There are also a few scenes that would never make it on prime time television but they aren't too horribly revealing with the nudity. Just want to give you fair warning if you find those sorts of things offensive.

My husband and I have really enjoyed watching these episodes and applaud Amazon for taking risks and finding series and movies that no one else will produce and providing them for their members. Goliath has turned out to be yet another "I'm so glad we watched it!" kind of streaming experience for the two of us. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Monday, November 7, 2016

Reviewing InkJoy Pens - Popular and Colorful Pens

The factors that make me loyal to certain brands of pens are: low-cost, high quality, and reliability. I'm not asking for much, am  I? I don't think I am and I've found that with the InkJoy retractable, ballpoint pens, all of those needs are met. Recently, I ran out of my own personal stash of pens at work the other day and I realized I should recommend these pens to others. I should spread the joy. InkJoy pens are my first choice of pens for work and personal writing. 

Highly Recommended - InkJoy Ballpoint Pens by Paper Mate 

There are many reasons I love these pens enough to buy my own for work, rather than use the free pens that work provides.  

Reliability - These pens work every single time I pick one up.  There's nothing worse than being in a meeting, or trying to write down a phone number when someone is speaking quickly, and have the pen not work at all, or work only after your hurridley scribble in order to get the ink flow moving again. Annoying!  

No Ink Blobs - I really, really, REALLY hate running my hand through an ink blob on the paper. Smeary ink and blobs are so frustrating.  My InkJoy pens have never left a blob.

InkJoy colors 20 count
Inexpensive - Each time I purchase a pack of InkJoy pens, I compare with the less expensive "stick" pens.  I'm a penny-pincher so I try to remember to compare costs.  The InkJoy pens are usually slightly more expensive than the stick pens. But not by much. The cost tends to even out as I throw away a few of the stick pens that blob or do not work well. Also, my purchase of InkJoy pens is more costly than the free pens the agency supplies to employees. But I'd rather pay a few dollars for the reliability.

Color choices - At work I am limited to black ink.  When I pay bills, I often rebel and use blue ink. But, when I write journal entries, notes in my day planner, and other personal items, I go for the InkJoy color pens.  It is so much fun to use the variety of colors.

Ballpoint or gel pens - I prefer the retractable, medium ballpoint pens. However, InkJoy also makes a gel pen variety that is very popular. I cannot keep the InkJoy gel pens in my office.

InkJoy black ballpoint

Many Uses for InkJoy Color Pens (ballpoint or gel pens)

  • addressing holiday or special occasion envelopes
  • creation of eye-catching and pretty invitations
  • letter writing
  • scrapbooking
  • journaling
  • drawing and doodling
  • making those to-do and grocery lists more fun
  • gifts for artists, children, people who journal, and so on
  • popular school store item and/or children's rewards
  • and so much more - take a peek at the very short video and just imagine what you could do

Related Links

Journals - Technology makes writing and recording things as easy as a tap of a key or a flip of a switch. But I love journaling. There is something that increases my creativity when I use the process of hand-writing. Read about Writing and Remembering the Old-Fashioned Way

Drawing and Coloring - Colored pencils are a fun and popular way to create and color. Our very own Heather has created her own line of high-quality colored pencils. If you are giving art supplies as gifts or are yourself artistic, check out Heather's introduction to Aurora Art Supplies

Poster-Sized Color - In the event you need BIG and bold colors, for posters and such, Sharpies are amazing. Sharpies come in marker-sized "fine point", "chisel tip", and "extra bold marker point". 
Colorful Sharpies for those large creations

introduction graphic design created by the author using FotoJet

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Sunday, November 6, 2016

When You Have An American Heart - A World of Good

Find American Heart by Faith Hill Here
And More Inspirational Songs About America Here

Stand Beside Her and Guide Her

"From the small town Friday night lights, to the Broadway neon burning up bright, We're all the same and it's in our veins, A spirit that you can't keep down, A fire inside that'll never burn out if you are the owner of an American Heart" (Lyrics from American Heart by Faith Hill)

America The Good Representing a World of Good

The inspirational song by Faith Hill, American Heart, reminds us about not only the good in America, but also in people who proudly call themselves members of the free world.

Free speech, compassion, human rights and the collective good remain a constant work in progress and as a Canadian, like my brother and sister Americans, I'm blessed to be a part of it.

As people of earth, our diversity along with our sameness are the weights that create the balance. It's cliche, but it really is our differences that teach us and our common ground that unites us.

As an example, even with a physical border between Canada and the USA, the earth doesn't shift when you place a foot on one side or the other: Stand on one side, or stand on the other, I'll venture a guess our aspirations are fundamentally the same; those being prosperity, peace and the pursuit of happiness.

We all know Canadians and Americans share the longest peaceful border on planet earth. This speaks loudly about the people who inhabit both sides of this man-made invisible line.

The most successful friends on the planet have earned a few bragging rights and the Oscar should go to the people of both countries, not our governments. For it's the people who set the pace in a free country; it's people who push governments one way or another, and in a free world governments reflect who we are.

Belting out the lyrics of American Heart, Faith Hill sings these inspirational words 'We're all the Same'. The song is speaking to the soul that makes up America. Today I'll push these worthy sentiments forward to encompass my own country, and even further out to wrap these words of hope around the planet.

When times get tough, play Faith Hill's song American Heart full blast:

Cause it beats like a drum down in New Orleans
Sings like a Motown Melody,
It dreams like California,
Bigger than a Texas sky,
it Bleeds,
it Scars,
it Shines when Times get Hard,
and you can't break an American Heart..

(Lyrics from American Heart)

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Reviewing Vegan Holiday Cookbooks

Jennifer Katzinger Vegan Holiday Cookbook
As a vegan cook, the holidays are especially tricky. Most holidays including Thanksgiving, usually center around a big meat dish. Here I'll give you my reviews of the vegan cookbooks I've used throughout the holidays.

Some are better than others, of course. Some give you menus to work from while others have given me ideas to get me started on my own menus for the various holidays. Whether you want to serve a full vegan holiday dinner, or just need some good ideas for vegan dishes for your guests, you can find the recipes and ideas you need in each of these vegan holiday cookbooks.

My Favorite Vegan Holiday Cookbook

Reviewing vegan holiday cookbooks
Gluten-Free and Vegan: Celebrating the Year

My favorite, the one that I turn to most often, vegan holiday cookbook is by Jennifer Katzinger titled, Gluten-Free and Vegan: Celebrating the Year with Simple, Satisfying Recipes and Menus. I've reviewed it more extensively in an article for Cooking for the Holidays site, so I'll just summarize here.

Author Katzinger is a long experience vegan chef, but she's a baker by love. Her desserts are amazing. She shares her vegan and gluten-free versions of traditional holiday desserts. It's her Thanksgiving menu, with all of the simple recipes that I turn to most often to celebrate this holiday. Appetizers, main courses, side dishes and desserts are all combine to make a great Thanksgiving dinner.

reviewing vegan holiday cookbooks
Happy Herbivore Holidays

The Happy Herbivore Vegan Holiday Cookbook

Lindsay Nixon has made a name for herself as the Happy Herbivore. She has many cookbooks on the market, but her Happy Herbivore Holidays and Gatherings: Easy Plant-based Recipes for Your Healthiest Celebrations and Special Occasions is one of her best in my vegan opinion.

I was delighted at how easy her recipes are. Since I'm basically a lazy cook, I needed simple, yet tasty recipes. She has a wealth of them. And she doesn't require exotic ingredients in her recipes. That sure helps if ethnic markets are not close by.

Fair warning here. If you are already a Happy Herbivore fan and have others of her cookbooks, you will discover that she recycled many of her other recipes. But, these are organized for those big holiday celebrations.

The good news is that all of my non-vegan friends and relations enjoyed my vegan menus. Even my son-in-law didn't feel the need to rush to McDonald's for a McRib sandwich or two! Now that is a true compliment to the Happy Herbivore.

Planning Your Own Vegan Holiday Menus

Reviewing Vegan Holiday Cookbooks
But I Could Never Go Vegan

If you want to plan your own menus for the holidays or just looking for interesting vegan recipes, I have a favorite cookbook for you. But I Could Never Go Vegan, by Kristy Turner, is it. Forget boring standard fare, Turner gives you an amazing collection of unique and interesting recipes.

Avocado and Kale Florentine is one of those unique and interesting recipes. I've included it many brunch menus. Talk about a hit! Author Turner has plenty of these hits. Her vegan Cheesy Veggie Stromboli is usually part of my vegan Thanksgiving dinner. Savory Corn Cheesecake makes a stunning presentation of your holiday table.

Whether you want a full menu to make a vegan holiday meal, or just looking for something special to add to your table, any of these cookbooks could be your answer. Each one holds a special place in my cookbook collection.

You can always find more cookbook reviews at Review This! Books.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Friday, November 4, 2016

Reviewing Travel Money Belts & Pouches

Best Gift for a Traveler

A Travel Money Belt or Travel Pouch may not be the prettiest gift you will ever give, but it could easily be the most important gift for anyone who travels.

A Travel Money Belt or Travel Pouch may not be the prettiest gift you will ever give, but it could easily be the most important gift for anyone who travels.

A travel money belt or travel pouch is not our first thought when preparing for a trip.  Unfortunately, we might not see the need for a money belt until after we are victimized while traveling.  Having a purse or wallet stolen while traveling can quickly ruin the most anticipated and expensive trips.  Not only are pickpockets everywhere, you simply cannot pack your valuables and expect them to be safe in a hotel room or on a plane.  

A Travel Money Belt really will give you safety and peace of mind.

There are several different styles of travel money belts and pouches.  Over the years, I have traveled extensively and I feel uniquely qualified to recommend the best travel money belts available on the market today.

Image:  Premium Expert Money Travel


Never carry anything in your wallet you cannot afford to lose! 


My Personal Favorite Travel Money Belt

 Eagle Creek Undercover Money Belt DLX 
Choose the Right Size:  Don't look for the smallest money travel belt.  Look for the best size money belt.  You will want to carry the following items in your money belt, so choose a money belt that will hold them all securely.
  • Cash
  • Passport
  • ID ~ Drivers License
  • Credit Cards
  • Insurance Cards
  • A List of Wallet Content
  • Emergency Contract Information
My personal favorite travel money belt is the Eagle Creek Travel Gear Travel Money Belt.  Based on my own personal experience, this is the Travel Money Belt I would most highly recommend. 

  1. Two(2) Pockets are zippered to avoid spilling content when riding amusement park rides or other activities that may turn you upside down. 
  2. Wide enough to hold a passport ~ US Passports measure 3 1/4" x 5" 
  3.  Moisture-wicking, breathable mesh back panel
Also Available in Mocha 

A Gift for the Traveling Couple

Wear Travel Money Belts & Pouches UNDER your blouse or shirt


 Lewis N. Clark Deluxe Neck Stash, Beige

Most Highly Recommended Money Pouch  

Some travelers prefer a Travel Money Pouch. They prefer to wear a pouch around their neck instead of a money belt around their waist. This is especially true for people who do not see well or who don't want to lift their shirts in public should they need to access additional funds or ID.

This Travel Money Pouch has two zippered pockets, two inner compartments and an adjustable neck strap.  I have used this style myself when I know I will definitely need access to my passport, credit card or cash.

Bra Travel Pouch

For a lady who doesn't want to wear a money belt or doesn't like the travel neck pouch, there is a reasonable option.  This Bra Pocket Travel Safe is highly recommended for those who wear a bra.  It secures to your bra straps instead of having a separate neck cord or belt.

You won't be able to carry as much in this travel pouch, but it is definitely sufficient for cash, drivers license and credit cards.  Personally, this is the style I would use for things like my passport that I am not comfortable leaving in a hotel room, but will not need access to when I am sightseeing.


 Travel Money Belts are Essential for Travel Safety!


See More Product Reviews on



Related Travel & Safety Articles
How to Pack for Your Vacation 
Tips for Traveling
Clever Travel Companion Leggings with Secret Pockets Reviewed
Tomtom Portable GPS Navigator Review

Product Review of Travel Money Belts & Pouches Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thoughtful Thanksgiving Hostess Gifts

You're invited out to Thanksgiving dinner! Here are five thoughtful gifts your hostess really wants.

Reviewing Gifts Your Hostess Really Wants

You've been invited to a friend or family member's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Lucky you! So now you have a dilemma: what would be the perfect hostess gift to say thank you for the hospitality?

To make your job easier, I've  chosen five different gifts that I'd love to receive if I were serving as your Thanksgiving hostess this year. While your hostess may not have the same tastes that I have, I think there should be an idea or two here that will work to elicit a "Thanks for being so thoughtful!" response from your hostess.

Give the Gift of a Seasonal Spa Treatment

The Gift of a Seasonal Spa Treatment For Your Thanksgiving Hostess | ButterCosmetics on Etsy
ButterCosmetics on Etsy
Who wouldn't need a spa treatment following a busy Thanksgiving day, or even a long weekend, of cooking, eating, and entertaining? This is a first class gift item, handmade with the best, soothing, healing ingredients you'll find anywhere. Honestly, I'm not usually much of a spa gal, but I would love to treat myself with these bath and lip products. A Thanksgiving hostess gift definitely fit for a queen.

A Gift for the Thanksgiving Cook

Premium Vintage Serving Spoon from MilkandHoneyLuxuries on Etsy, a beautiful, thoughtful hostess gift.
Look at this "I'm Thankful For You" serving spoon. Show me a cook who doesn't need another serving spoon and I'll show you . . well, it doesn't matter because any hostess could use an additional big serving spoon at Thanksgiving dinner. And how special is this one? Hand stamped with the words, "I'm thankful for YOU" with a heart, this is beautiful and such a very thoughtful gift! This premium vintage serving spoon is made to order by the creative and well-known folks at Milk and Honey Luxuries. I adore it and bet your hostess will, too.

The Hostess Gift That Keeps on Giving

Pass the blessing along with this Thanksgiving hostess gift, a Giving Platter from DaySpring.
DaySpring Cards and Gifts
Gift your hostess with a plate of your own specialty cookies, candies, or bread presented atop this "Share" Giving Platter. How does it work? The hostess gift arrives on the plate, homemade or even store-bought by you. The printing on the plate says "share," and a simple canvas tag with a verse is included, tied with a ribbon of jute. The verse on the tag begins, "This plate has no real owner, its journey never ends. It travels on a spontaneous path to neighbors... family... friends."

So after Thanksgiving, when life has settled down for a few minutes, your hostess friend can add her own goodies and present the plate to yet another neighbor or friend. Perhaps the plate, eventually, will make its way back with you since, as the verse says, "its journey never ends." Consider this gift idea for a hostess who is known to be a "giver." She'll love passing the blessing along in the future.

A Simple "Thank You" Will Do 

Thank You figurine by Willow Tree and Dayspring, a thoughtful Thanksgiving hostess gift.
Thank You Figurine by Willow Tree
This "Thank You" figurine by Willow Tree on Dayspring would be a beautiful choice for a hostess. She's little, just 5 1/2 inches high, but her message ("So appreciative of all you do!") is a big one that will encourage and lift up your hostess each time her eye catches this thoughtful gift.

Artist and sculptor Susan Lodi creates every figure in her Willow Tree collection with expressions revealed through gestures and absence of facial features, so the recipient can interpret its meaning in a personal way. What a beautiful way to show your appreciation for the kindness your hostess shows you.

Say "Thank You" With Flowers

Beautiful, Fresh Fall Flowers from FTD and DaySpring
When in doubt, flowers are a tried and true thank-you gift for a hostess. This beautiful, fall-colored Give Thanks Fall Bouquet would make a perfect, seasonal choice for a Thanksgiving hostess. More arrangements are available at the link. Good news is that all you have to do is the ordering; FTD delivers!  

How did I do? I hope you've discovered the perfect gift for your Thanksgiving hostess this year. I'd love to know what you chose, so don't be shy about leaving a comment below. I hope both you and your hostess have a very happy Thanksgiving!

~ Susan

Still looking? Check out these Gift Reviews from our Review This! team.

~Susan Deppner
Read more of my reviews.

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Review: Two Biographical Novels about Theodore Roosevelt for Middle Schoolers

These Books Bring Theodore Roosevelt to Life

I loved reading biographical fiction when I was in fifth grade. I still enjoy it today. I recently reread Bully for You, Theodore Roosevelt by Jean Fritz in order to review it and to compare it with an ebook I had just purchased,  Bully! (The American Hero Series) by Ryan Stallings. Both books are aimed at middle school students. Both books will help students learn more about Roosevelt, since the details of his life are accurate. They just use different techniques to introduce "The Colonel" to young readers. 

In the first, Bully for You, Theodore Roosevelt, Fritz introduces our 26th American President by telling the fascinating story of his life. In the second, Bully!, a fully grown Roosevelt enters the modern world from the past to interact with a grieving boy and his father. 

Review: Two Biographical Novels about Theodore Roosevelt for Middle Schoolers
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States in his private office, White House, Washington, D.C., courtesy of Library of Congress Public Archives, Copyright Expired

Bully for You, Theodore Roosevelt

Jean Fritz is known for writing biographical fiction for young people. I have a page of mini-reviews of Jean Fritz's books here and some biographical information.  In Bully for You, Fritz shows us how a weak child disciplined himself to overcome the physical odds against him to become strong. His father had challenged him to make his body, telling his son, '...without the body, the mind cannot go as far as it should.' Young Theodore took this to heart, working out regularly in a gym his  father built for him. It took strenuous effort, and he had to exert himself, but he did become strong. He continued to push himself against all odds in his adult life. 

Review: Two Biographical Novels about Theodore Roosevelt for Middle Schoolers

I believe Fritz does a good job in capturing the reader's interest with her humorous and action-packed account of Theodore Roosevelt's life and accomplishments. But the book is more than plot and action. It is full of ideas.

For example, young Roosevelt had read that you could  conquer fear by acting as if you were not afraid. He decided this might also work in conquering unhappiness. When he was working through his grief after his father's death, he acted happy in the only way he knew how. He threw himself into activities he enjoyed. It helped somewhat as he grieved. 

One can learn much in this book about politics and how things are done in both the state and national governments. The chairman of the Republican party called "Teddy" a madman and a dam*ed cowboy when it appeared he might be nominated for Vice President. Any of that sound familiar? 

After William McKinley was assassinated and Roosevelt became president, his friends reminded him that McKinley had been the most dignified president ever, and they urged Roosevelt to act in a more dignified manner. They didn't like the way he dressed for his walks or the way he charged full steam ahead through his agenda and activities. Roosevelt decided he would continue to be himself. 

I would recommend this book to any middle school student who needs to read a biography of an American historical figure. It is entertaining and offers much insight into American politics and history. Even adults who don't want to work at reading history will learn much from this book. Find a more detailed review of the book here. 

Bully! by Ryan Stallings

In Bully! we meet exactly the same Teddy Roosevelt presented in Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt. We just meet him in a different context. He enters the modern era as a transformed teddy bear to help a grieving father, Senator Paul Douglas, and his son Jamie, through a terrible time in their lives. Jamie had just lost his mother to cancer.

If one reads the Fritz biography, first, one will see why "The Colonel" as Roosevelt asks to be called, is uniquely qualified to help the family heal. He also knew grief and loss, and although he was a weak boy, as was Jamie, he determined to become strong and he succeeded. He knew how to help Jamie face and defeat the bullies who were assaulting him. As a family man, he knew how to make Paul understand he was failing at his most important task and to help him find a way to succeed.

Before Jamie's mother died, she bought him a teddy bear she had planned to give him for his eighth birthday. Paul gave it to him in the limo as they were going to drop Jamie at school after the funeral service. Paul thought they should resume their normal routines as a way of dealing with grief.

 It was a horrid day for Jamie, and you can read more about it in my longer review of this book. After his traumatic experience, Jamie comes home to an empty house and his father stays away all night working. Jamie sits the bear on a rocking chair facing his bed and tells him 'I wish I had a real Dad.'

When Jamie woke up the next morning, the bear was gone. Instead, a man he did not know was sitting in the rocker. Jamie was scared to death -- so scared that he screamed. So did the man in the chair, and he had a very high voice. They both kept screaming, but when they were out of breath Jamie finally asks the man who he is. He soon discovers his intruder is none other than Theodore Roosevelt, who says he came because Jamie asked him to. He asks Jamie to call him "The Colonel." Jamie stopped being frightened and was soon happy to have the Colonel as his friend.

Both Jamie and Paul learn a lot from Roosevelt to help them cope with loss and go on with life. Colonel shares many of his own experiences with the two and becomes part of their lives until he is no longer needed. Although the author means for the readers to learn about the life of Roosevelt, he also addresses in words and actions how to deal with grief, how to deal with bullies, and how to be a good parent. In addition, Roosevelt (as the Colonel) helps Paul make decisions about his political future.

Although this book is supposed to be for children 7-15, I think a child should be about ten before reading it independently. It might work as a read-aloud for younger children, but parents would be wise to include discussion as they read it. The transformation of the bear into the colonel can be confusing, though no more confusing than the transformations common in fairy tales. The big difference, though, is that Roosevelt is a historical figure many children have studied.

As an adult, I had to keep asking myself how other characters in the book would deal with meeting Roosevelt. Jamie's teacher and many others thought he was an actor. There was no way people were going to believe he was really the historical Roosevelt back among them. We can see how this might work if only Jamie could see and interact with him, but everyone saw him when he was with Jamie or Paul. He even got arrested and jailed a couple of times. If readers are willing to accept this convention, the book is an educational and enjoyable read. I think it would be best used as families or classes read and discuss it, especially if a child is dealing with grief or bullies.

Shirts with Theodore Roosevelt Quotes

Theodore Roosevelt is very quotable. He was a wise man. Below is a sampling of shirts from Zazzzle that capture some of his wisdom and advice. If you click through, you can find shirts with the same quotes available for women or children and in many styles and colors. 

I couldn't resist adding this one last quote I found on a bumper sticker. Enjoy!
Roosevelt on the Senate Bumpersticker
Roosevelt on the Senate Bumpersticker

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Farm Advent Calendar Reviewed

Count Down To Christmas With Playmobil

Christmas Chocolates from
Do you plan to help a child count down to Christmas this year with an Advent Calendar? Are you looking for one that would be great for the younger members of your family? There are so many options available with so many different themes. I have found one that I feel is pretty practical because your child or children can play with it after the Christmas holiday is over. 

Many traditional Advent Calendars offer small little chocolate gifts as the days before Christmas are counted down. Those are nice and you can use them each year if you just replenish the little hiding places with new and fresh candies. 

I would like to recommend an Advent Calendar that children can enjoy and learn about the animals on the farm, too. Children love little toys and they love animals so why not combine the two while teaching them to count as they wait for the Jolly Old Elf to arrive?

What I love about this cute little play set is that it is also an advent calendar and the figures can all be played with after Christmas. They can be added to any Playmobil sets that your child may already have. Wonderful little animals that can be found on a farm like sheep, goats, cows and chickens. As each of the 24 days before Christmas approach the child opens one little window to reveal some of the pieces. By the time Christmas Eve arrives they will have 72 pieces to play with.

Families have been using advent calendars since the 1800's. It is a tradition enjoyed by many and each year brings wonderful selections for the family to count down the days with. I think this calendar set is a nice alternative to the food ones and is perfect for the younger family members to enjoy.

How about you? Does your family use an advent calendar?

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