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Growing up, I spent every Friday night at my grandparents’ home, only a few blocks away from my own.  And we were often in and out of their house during the week as well.  Like as not, when I walked in, I’d find my grandfather sitting in the living room in his favorite chair.

My grandfather wasn’t what you’d call a smiley man.  His resting face was grim.  But he’d beam when I entered the room.  “Hi, Granddaughter!” he’d say.

Always I remember him in that chair, his ash tray stand to one side, the table with the reading lamp and the clock with the numbers that flipped on the other, his feet propped on the ottoman while he watched the nightly national news, or Lawrence Welk, or his soap operas, or as he read Time, Newsweek, or U.S. News and World Report.

Sometimes I’d watch t.v. too, with him cautioning me not to sit too close to the big cabinet television with the record player in one end of it. “You won’t be able to have children when you grow up,” he’d warn me.  Sometimes we’d play checkers on the ottoman.

Granddaddy died on September 24, 1980.  It was my first encounter with death.  I remember entering the house for the first time and dreading the sight of that empty chair.

Granddaddy's Chair 2

When my grandmother decided to relocate to a retirement community, my mother moved into the house, and the furniture Mima couldn’t take was given away.  My little sister got the chair.  I took the Naugahyde recliner from the basement (which I believe was the predecessor of the chair I’m writing about).  It didn’t last long–my kids have always been hard on furniture.

I love old things and I love family things, and over time I had filled my house with items from my grandparents’ house.  I was the one who took that cabinet t.v., even though it didn’t work anymore.  I had the oil pastel portraits of my grandmother and great-grandmother, the Seth Thomas clock that used to hang in the living room, and so many other treasures that I took because I appreciated them and had room for them.  When our house burned down almost five years ago, I lost it all.  And felt guilty for being such a poor steward of family heirlooms and memories.

We’ve lived for five years in a house furnished by the love of friends and family.  We’ve even added a few heirlooms from John’s grandmother’s house.  Over time, the furniture has become ours, safe and familiar.

My sister moved at Christmastime.  She decided she didn’t have room for Granddaddy’s chair and she asked me if I wanted it.  She knew how much it would mean to me to have it.  It found a new home in our family room.

I had visions of spending time sitting in it, but honestly it isn’t a very comfortable chair, at least not for me.  Emily sits in it sometimes, but more often than not it’s inhabited by cats.  Still, it makes me happy whenever I see it.

 

Graddaddy's Chair 1

Y’all may remember that not long ago I shared a review of some items I received from AdoramaPix.  If you didn’t read it, here’s the summary:  I loved them.

Now I have another opportunity (because I’m a U.S. Family Guide Blogger) to sample another of their products and share my thoughts with you.  As usual, this opportunity for me includes one for you as well:  a coupon that you can use to order the same item I’ll get for free (in exchange for my HONEST opinion).

You can give AdoramaPix a try now, or maybe you want to wait until I post my review.  The offer will be available for awhile.

So here’s the scoop (what the company wants me to share with you):

Your memories deserve more than a lifeless screen! Breathe life into your photos and turn them into beautiful keepsake photo books that will last for generations. AdoramPpix’s custom books are high quality and display your images in rich detail. Choose from gorgeous linen, hardcover and leather covers as well as 6 stunning paper finishes. Stop swiping and start printing your family memories with AdoramaPix photo books!

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I’m pretty excited about this offer because 1) I already have experience with this company and am confident I will like the product and 2) Like many of you, I’m sure, I have a bunch of pictures on my computer which I have never printed out and am never likely to without an excuse like this one!

Here’s the offer for my readers:

15% off photo books. Use code: PhotoBook15. Sale ends 11/05/2016 11:59 PM EST

Shop Here: AdoramaPix PhotoBook Offer

Check back in a few weeks to here what I thought about my photobook!

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Rosalie 1

Y’all, isn’t that just beautiful?  The verse comes from one of my favorite passages in the Gospels, the one that ends: “Neither be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Isn’t that a message we could all use right about now?  How would you like to have this beautiful watercolor print to remind you of God’s constant love and care?

Well, maybe you can because this is a giveaway! But first, let me tell you a little about the artist.

A former atheist turned Catholic, Rosalie Contrite now strives to live for the Lord and spread His love. She works from home, blogs and podcasts professionally, and homeschools her children.  She sells the print above and many more via her Etsy shop, Contrite Catholic Shop.  You can also visit Rosalie on her website and on Facebook.  I know her via a Catholic Bloggers Group of which we both are members.

Her work is just beautiful.  In exchange for hosting this giveaway and promoting her shop, I will be receiving a print of my own and I had a terrible time deciding which one to get.  This is a picture of the one I chose:

Rosalie 2

Now’s your chance!  You can enter by visiting the link below:

Rosalie Contrite Print Giveaway

The giveaway will end on Sunday, July 24 at midnight.  U.S. entries only, please.  I will contact the winner to get mailing info and Rosalie will ship the print directly.  Thank you for entering!

I didn’t write anything about how awful people were when the little boy fell into the gorilla enclosure.  I didn’t say anything about how quick people were to judge the poor parents whose child was killed by the alligator.  What finally put me over the edge were the comments on an article about the most recent instance of a baby dying in a hot car, left there by her father due, as usual, to a change in the family routine.

It was an accident, terrible and tragic.  Witnesses saw the father sobbing in the driveway.  His child is dead.  Nothing can change that.  And although it WAS an accident, he will forever believe it was his fault.  He will never stop going over that day in his mind, imagining what he might have done differently and wishing that he could have a second chance.

And yet the comments on this article were vicious.  Inhumane.  Merciless.  People wrote that he should be locked up forever–or in a hot car for a few hours.  They accused him of lying, said he did it on purpose, called him a terrible father.  How could he, they asked.  I would NEVER forget MY kid, they said.

The same hate that has polarized the country over issues like gun control and presidential politics has seeped into every area of public discussion.  We are all firmly entrenched in our little self-righteous camps, unwilling to listen to one another or to extend any benefit of the doubt or God forbid any mercy to ANYONE.

Loudly judging other parents arises from fear.  It’s our way of saying that we are not like THOSE parents and that something like that could never happen to OUR kids.  It’s a way of asserting control but it’s just an illusion because no one can control everything.

Chances are your kid won’t fall into a gorilla pit or be eaten by an alligator.  But let me tell you, at some point a Bad Thing will happen to your child.  Maybe he will break a bone, or be in a bad car accident, or flunk out of school, or use drugs, or shoplift, or get caught drinking underage.  Maybe she will wander away from you in the mall and get lost, or turn into a Mean Girl, or develop an eating disorder, or experience an unplanned pregnancy.  And if people find out they will talk about how you weren’t protective enough, how you weren’t paying attention, how you didn’t raise that kid right, how there must be something wrong with you, how that would never happen to THEIR kid.

And you will probably be telling yourself some of those same things.

Let’s cut each other some slack, shall we?  Let’s accept that we are human and make mistakes, some of them with tragic consequences.  Let’s concentrate on what we really CAN control–loving our kids and offering mercy to those who need it.

Blesssed are the Merciful- Showing Mercy to Parents Who Need It

 

OK, y’all, so you know how much I love to hike.  There’s a new batch of trails in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness that Emily and I just started exploring yesterday, as a matter of fact (and more on those later!).  Now as a US Family Guide blogger I am going to receive a product that I hope will help make those excursions more convenient–at least when it comes to carrying things.

Here’s the scoop:  New carrying concept, the Walkabout by Kangeaux Outdoors, is designed to be an industrial-strength and multifunctional carrying tool for the outdoor adventurer and sports enthusiast alike. With the development of the Walkabout, Kangeaux Outdoors has designed a carrier like none other. It is predicted to become a standard for those “In The Field” — but just as easily, its ergonomic fit is ideal for the everyday carry. The Walkabout’s adaptable nature creates easy solutions for both athletic essentials like sports bottles and baseball caps, as well as everyday items like keys, phones, sunglasses, etc. There is truly no other carrier like the Walkabout.

So, I think this things sounds pretty cool.  Here are some pictures of the product and of people using it in various ways:

Here’s an offer for my readers:

Save 20% on your entire purchase!  Sign up and stay up to date with our Kangeaux Newsletter and receive a coupon code for 20% off your entire purchase! http:// www.kangeaux.com

I’ll be reviewing this item (honestly, as ever) when I receive it if you want to wait to hear what I have to say before purchasing.

 

 

Y’all, I am late doing this review and I feel really bad about it, because I LOVE this service and these products and I will definitely be spending my own money here in the future.

So, yeah, to get business out of the way, this IS a sponsored review, which means that U.S. Family Guide hooked me up with this sweet deal: to get free pictures from Adorama Pix in exchange for my honest review.

So here’s what this company does:

AdoramaPix helps people turn their digital photographs from abstract computer files into beautiful keepsakes designed to last a lifetime. Their contemporary metal prints capture memories in rich color and vibrant detail. Because your images are infused right into the metal, and not painted on the surface, their metal prints are extremely durable. Not only will your metal image be water and weather proof, but scratch resistant as well. You can even clean it with glass cleaner. Your memories deserve to live in true, archival luxury with AdoramaPix metal prints.

You can find all the fun gift ideas HERE:
http://www.adoramapix.com/app/home/

As I said, I am late doing this, which means you only have a few days to save:

My readers get to save! 25% off Hexagon #Metal Prints! Use promo code: PXHEXMTL25 expires 06/ 15 /2016

Luckily, I know from experience that there are many other offers if you register on the site, which is the first step of the process.  It’s any easy process, too, and the only thing that made it take any time at all is deciding which options to choose.  There are shapes, sizes, and finishes to pick from, as well as display options.  I was supposed to try the new hexagon print, which can be used to make cool displays like this one:

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I still had money to spend after I picked my hexagon, so I also got a basic square picture and one with a cool silvery finish (which I thought matched the non-digital old picture which I had scanned).

The hardest part for me was picking the right pictures.  They need to be of a certain quality to work well, and the tool on the website rejected my first few choices.  Someone who is more tech-savvy would probably know in advance what would be the best pictures to use.

Anyway, here’s what I got back (super quickly, by the way) along with a complimentary cloth to keep them nice and shiny.  The hexagon print is meant for hanging on the wall but the other two came with features so they can stand for display.

adorama 1

This is the old photo.  Keep in mind that this is a photo of a photo (which itself was made by scanning a fire-damaged 35 mm print that was about 15 years old).  The perspective is also skewed because the back of this has a fold out stand that I did not want to fold back in all the way! Anyway, the silvery finish is perfect; in person, it masks the imperfections of the photo and gives it an old-timey feeling.

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This iPhone photo taken at close range turned out the be the best of the lot according to the online tool.  And I do love this picture of William at 13! This one came with a little strip of wood to stand it up in.

adorama 2

Finally, my hexagon print! I love this picture of downtown Knoxville, and I can envision this as the center of a display of lots of other Knoxville pictures.

I spent $55 (including shipping) for the three pictures above, the hexagon being the most expensive.  You can get a nice picture from Adorama Pix for $12, and I think that’s a deal.

Remember, you have four days to save using my coupon!  If you do give Adorama a try, please let me know what you think.

I got a new car a few months ago–new to me anyway!  In our family, you generally don’t get rid of a paid-for car until it is more expensive to keep fixing it than to give in and buy another one (or unless, of course, it gets burned in a fire.).

John surprised me with this car (which he happened upon at a friend’s used car dealership).  I was driving a Honda Odyssey that I had not had for very long.  But he knew that I had been wanting a Toyota Sienna for years–and this one was even the color I preferred (you don’t often get to pick your favorite color when you are buying used!).  Jake needed a car badly, so we passed the Odyssey down to him.

Typically, my cars are pretty messy and dirty.  Because for years I’ve been driving five kids around and letting them eat things, and some of them are slobs who leave stuff everywhere.  And then the boys started driving, and sometimes I had to share my car with them, and they were not always as conscientious as they might have been about removing their debris before returning the car!

So far, I have managed to keep the interior of this car clean.  I mean, I don’t vacuum it or anything, but I pick up all the trash and make people bring their belongings inside.  Not really hard now that I mostly only have two kids in it.  But it has been getting dustier and dustier, and every time I get in the car I think to myself that I should do something about that.

My regular readers might remember that last year I did a review and giveaway of a product from e-cloth.  I loved the product and am impressed with the company.  Their products will allow you to clean without using any harmful chemicals.  That’s right–the special fibers in their products trap dirt, dust, and even germs without using anything other than water.  In many cases you don’t even need the water!

I’m still very happy with my Flexi-Edge, and I was excited to hear that e-cloth had branched out with e-auto and was sending me some items to try on my car in exchange for my honest opinion.  I received the Interior Car Cleaning Kit, which included a Water Atomizer, a Car Cleaning Cloth, a Storage/Laundry Bag, and a Glass and Chrome Cloth.

Glass and Chrome Cloth

Car Cleaning Cloth

Here is some of what e-cloth has to say about these products:

  • The Car Cleaning Cloth quickly and easily removes dirt, grime and grease from all vehicle surfaces better than other cloths with less effort.
  • e-auto cloths have 1.6 million fibers square inch.
  • Using e-cloth’s unique fiber technology with water, the Car Cleaning Cloth breaks up and holds dirt, grime and grease which normal cloths leave behind.
  • Quickly and easily removes dirt and road grime from bodywork, lights, trim, chrome and glass.
  • Clean with just water saving you time and money – will also perform well with a little bit of your regular cleaning liquid.
  • Use the Glass and Chrome Cloth to produce a perfect smear-free, lint-free and polished finish on windshields, glass, chrome and mirrors using just water.
  • Use the cloth dry on a dampened surface to remove light grease and finger marks and to dry to a perfect, smear-free, polished finish.
  • Both cloths are guaranteed for 300 Machine Washings.
  • The Glass and Chrome Cloth’s advanced microfibers can potentially remove wax/polish from the car body, especially residue that would harbor dirt and bacteria. It will not remove or impact the protective paint finish.

Here’s where I get to share my experience–and it was a good one!  The Car Cleaning Cloth picked up every bit of dust off the interior surfaces of my car with no water at all.  The Glass and Chrome Cloth left the windows smear-free (it did a BETTER job than Windex and paper towels and left no lint behind!).  I’m going to be keeping the cloths and the atomizer in their handy storage bag in my car, and I will use them regularly from now on.

Would you like to win some e-auto products of  your own?  While the component parts of the kit I reviewed are still available from e-cloth (at extremely reasonable prices!), they no longer package them as a kit.  So this giveaway will be for the Car Cleaning Kit.

ecloth car cleaning

  • Kit includes one (1) each: Dual Action Mitt – 10” x 6.75”, Dry & Shine Cloth – 16” x 24”, and Glass & Chrome Cloth – 20” x 16”
  • e-auto Dual Action Mitt’s Orange “soft-fingered” side will quickly handle all the tough initial cleaning and get into hard to reach areas, and the smooth grey side is for general and spot cleaning.
  • e-auto Dry & Shine Cloth is used after the e-auto Dual Action Mitt – use dry on the wet body, glass and shiny surfaces for the perfect water mark free, polished finish.
  • e-auto Glass & Chrome Cloth produces a perfect smear-free, lint-free and polished finish on windshields, glass, chrome and mirrors using just water.

There are many ways to enter the giveaway by clicking the link below:

Car Cleaning Kit Giveaway by e-cloth

Open to US residents over the age of 18 only.  Giveaway ends at midnight on 4/18/2016.  I was provided with products in return for my honest review; as always, my opinions are my own.

To learn more about e-cloth, check them out at the links below:

e-cloth website

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