The Little Scholar (Plus a GIVEAWAY!!)

Three more days of school here. The countdown is on and in full effect. And then, after a few days of glorious freedom, it will start. The choruses of “I’m bored.” And while I don’t for a second think it is my job to keep my kids entertained all day I would be lying if I didn’t result to some screen time many days to keep everyone sane.

I have always subscribed to the belief that a little screen time never killed anyone, but I really like the kid’s TV programming and computer games to be educational. We are big fans of Animal Jam, but I am always looking to keep things fresh and add new things to my arsenal.

I was beyond thrilled when I learned about a company right here in Grand Rapids that is dedicated to providing top notch educational products to kids. You might have seen the School Zone logo on books, flashcards and workbooks before.


Last year they jumped into the world of technology and created the Little Scholar, a tablet designed with preschoolers and early elementary kids in mind.


Silas could not be more excited that he has a tablet all to himself. And I am thrilled it comes loaded with games encouraging math, reading, spelling, logic, creativity, and geography.

Here are my favorite features:

  • Able to play with our without wi-fi
  • Packed with Start to Read!® Books with read-along audio tracks
  • Front and rear facing camera with tons of fun effects
  • Runs on Android’s operating system
  • Abel to download additional apps from the School Zone Market or the Amazon App Store from a password protected parent center
  • Parent app where you can monitor your child’s progress and activity
  • Comes with a sturdy protective case and a carrying case to transport out and about

Silas and I have had so much fun reading, listening to music (from our FAVORITE Brian VanderArk), coloring and playing each other in memory. Because there are so many different levels and subjects he never gets bored. This week his favorite is a geography program that teaches him, among other things, every state bird.

I know buying a tablet for a preschooler isn’t for everyone, but I have to say I feel a lot better about him using this one than the other ones in our house where he has access to all sorts of time wasting apps and inappropriate content. I feel so much better knowing that everything he is doing is safe.

Check out the Little Scholar at your local Meijer or online. Or leave a comment below letting me know what your favorite feature is and you could win one of your own!!

Disclosure: I was provided with a Little Scholar for my review. 

Netflix- Celebrating Families

Growing up I thought my family was totally normal. I had two married parents. Our family had two kids, a boy and a girl. We lived a very middle class, small town life. We all got along (for the most part) and loved each other very much (and thankfully still do). It was kind of a Leave it to Beaver life. And when I was growing up most every family on TV looked a lot like mine.

I remember when Rosanne came out and it was such a big deal because TV families had never looked and talked like that before. And although it looked nothing like my family and I didn’t really understand what all the fuss was about, I think it was the beginning of the evolution of the TV family.

Now TV families look radically different than the TV of my childhood, for better or worse (sometimes both). While I miss the wholesome family shows of my childhood, I must admit I enjoy out of shows like Modern Family where the love is still very much there even though their family looks much different than mine.

As I grew up, I slowly realized very few families actually looked like the Cleavers, I think TV families were part of the thing that helped me realize it was okay. And even when it wasn’t necessarily okay (the pain of divorce, lost jobs, unhappy marriages, dysfunctional parent relationships, etc) it was reality for many of the people around me. At the end of the day, what truly matters in families is that we are trying our best to love each other (and in our case, love God at the center).

Netflix offers a lot of programming that celebrates all different kinds of families. I love finding new shows that our whole family can watch together and so many of these fit the bill. Check out these great titles on Netflix this month.

For your little kids:

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1. Lily’s Driftwood Bay
2. The Tigger Movie
3. Guess How Much I Love You: S1E5 Big Like You (one of our favorite childhood books, love that it is a show!!!)
4. Angelina Ballerina: Superstar Sisters

For your big kids:

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And for teens and adults:

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1. Raising Hope
2. The Fosters
3. Gilmore Girls (on the absolute top of my “next show to binge watch” list)
4. Life Unexpected

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and was provided with a year’s free service. 


#TMSelects and My Favorite Things

Normally on the weekends I round up some of my favorite posts from around the web. This weekend instead I wanted to tell you about a few of my favorite things.

Last month I was very honored when The Motherhood reached out to me as part of a select group that would receive a fun little package in the mail. They had rounded up a few of their favorite things (Oprah style)

and wanted to share them with me. I waited in eager anticipation like a kid waiting for Christmas morning. I had no idea what awaited me, but if my past work with The Motherhood was any indication, I knew it had to be good.




I thought it would be fun to share them with you because don’t you love hearing about what products other people love? It is honestly one of my favorite things!



1. S’well Water Bottle: I have mad love for companies that give back.  S’well Bottles not only keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12 hours, they also work with charity partners to provide clean water to places that need it. I was just talking this week with a friend about how water is such a luxury and how much we take it for granted. I love that every time I use my S’well water bottle I can be reminded just how lucky I truly am. And they aren’t kidding about the cold thing. I really truly is amazing.



2. Wild Explorers slippers: How insanely gorgeous are these moccasins? I had high hops that they would work for Silas but they are too small so my lucky little nephew will get them. His birthday is next week. Coincidence? I think not. These moccasins are hand crafted by a fellow mom and the quality is seriously the highest. These would be a fantastic gift for a baby shower or to a new mom friend.


3. EOS Lip Balm: I have been obsessed with these little guys for a long time. I have every flavor tucked in every corner of the house. I suffer from chapped lips a lot in the winter and honestly all year long I just like my lips to be really soft. These are definitely my preferred lip balm because they go on smooth, smell amazing and taste good too. I know. I’m weird. But ever since the Bonne Belle Smackers of my youth I end up licking the balm off my lips.


4. LÄRABAR: This is another product I have long loved. Ever since going gluten free (and often toying around with dairy free) I have found it difficult to find a snack bar that I can have and that doesn’t taste like dirt. These bars come in a ton of delicious flavors and are the perfect snack to stash in my purse. Their ingredient list is short and sweet so you know you are still eating healthy on the go. My favorite flavors all involve the word peanut butter.


Thank you so much to The Motherhood for sharing your favorite things with me and my readers. I would love to hear from you.

What is something you have been loving lately?


Brain Chase 2.0 (Plus a HUGE Giveaway!!)

About a month and a half ago I shared with you guys an awesome summer learning program called Brain Chase. Well if you can believe it since that time I have become even more enthused about it and have lots of new things to share. Now I am pretty much just counting down the days until we can start on our adventure! (June 22nd- 46 days)

Brain Chase logo

First of all, Brain Chase has a new academic partner. I must be honest and tell you that if I hadn’t of already signed my kids up, this would have completely sealed the deal. Brain Chase is now partnered with Rosetta Stone to offer your child a language module (your child may opt for this instead of the writing module). Each student will be required to complete 2 lessons (a total of a little over an hour) each week in order to fulfill their language requirement and unlock the next episode. There are over 30 languages to choose from! My kids take spanish at school but the program isn’t very strong so I will be encouraging them to use this to boost their skills over the summer. 

A few weeks back, Lily had the opportunity to participate in a mini-challenge to get a feel for how the program works. We weren’t able to give it quite as much time and attention as I would have liked because the end of the year school is trying to kill us, but she was hooked pretty quickly. In fact I had to make her stop because she wanted to do a whole weeks worth of work in one sitting. She was super motivated to work and loved how interactive it was. Plus there was a decoder ring. I mean honestly. Is there anything cooler than that?! (the decoder ring is from last year’s challenge, but I have been assured there will be equally cool tools this year)


You might not have a chance to do a mini-challenge, but your kids can check out the demo dashboard to get a feel for how everything works. I actually poked around myself, because it is killing me that there is no “Brain Chase” adults. Surely spending an hour balancing my checkbook and working on a budget should get me some sort of fun rewards.

I have been super excited to see trailers popping up as ads on various streaming devices. The word is getting out about this awesome program. Have you seen the latest trailer?

I mean seriously. Does that not get you excited. It makes me feel all Indiana Jones-ish. And I love that they have used children that my kids can relate to. I always love a strong female heroine.


As you can see, the theme of this year’s challenge is The Sunstone of Cortés. Did you know there is an ACTUAL Sunstone buried somewhere in the world?  It is about 12 inches in diameter and has mechanically rotating components that open to reveal the center compartment, where the key to retrieve the $10,000 prize will be hidden. I seriously get all giddy when I think about it. The winner LITERALLY gets to dig up a buried treasure. ACK!!! I can’t even stand it. 

A few more tidbits that won’t apply to all of you, but might apply to some of you.

  • Teachers: Brain Chase is offering $15 to teachers for each of their students they refer to Brain Chase. Registrants who hear about Brain Chase from a teacher can simply enter that teacher’s name and school name at registration. Kids fight summer brain drain to win a treasure… and teachers win too! Here are some flyers you can hand out to your students.
  • The Brain Chase Library Challenge: Throughout the month of May, Brain Chase will be hosting a 4-city Library Challenge. In each of the following cities, they will hide a voucher worth $1,000 in a local public library. A unique riddle will lead adventurers to the exact location of the voucher and a complimentary Brain Chase registration:
    Seattle (May 11)
    Boston (May 18)
    Orange County (June 1)

The coolest thing of all? I have one complimentary Brain Chase registration up for grabs. That is a $199 value! Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter (subscribers may need to click over to enter). Winner will be drawn May 13th. Good luck!! And don’t forget you can still get 15% off your registration with the code JUSTJILLY15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This is part of a sponsored campaign with the Motherhood and Brain Chase. I was given a complimentary registration, but bought another one with my own cold hard cash because I think the program is so awesome. All opinions, as always, are my own. 

Liar, Liar #StreamTeam

Confession. Ryan and I have not been watching much TV lately. This is definitely not normal for us, but we are kind of in between binge watching series (nothing can replace The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and haven’t really jumped back in. I would love to say that instead we were spending more time looking lovingly in each other’s eyes or reading “War and Peace.” But in reality were more likely goofing off on Facebook (me) or playing Angry Birds (him- I can’t even).


I was crazy excited when I got my Stream Team email this week and saw that a new Netflix original was starting staring Kyle Chandler. You may recall that the hubby and I were OBSESSED with Friday Night Lights. Although it will be weird to see him as anyone other than Coach Taylor, I think the plot sounds really intriguing (although much darker than FNL).

Bloodline follows a family caught between the ugly truth and the terrible lie that covers it up – a storyline that conjured our friends at Variety to predict that, “.. those who give Bloodline a chance will, pretty quickly, find themselves hooked.

Um yes please.

Since one of the themes of Bloodline is lying, Netflix has put together a list of shows for all ages that address lying. Goodness knows my kids can never get the message too much that lying is wrong. Probably isn’t too bad for the adults to remember either.

For the little kids:

Lying Movies on Netflix for Littles
1. The Gruffalo

2. Care Bears: S1E8: Untruths and Consequences

3. Veggie Tales in the House: S1E9, Lie-monade (have you checked these out on Netflix yet? we LOVE the Veggie Tales!!!)

4. Little Princess: S1E9, I Didn’t Do It


For the big kids:

Lying Movies on Netflix for Bigs
1. Totally Spies!

2. A.N.T. Farm: S3E9, Pants on Fire

3. Spy School

4. Jessie: S1E14, World Wide Web of Lies (my kids love this show and it actually is pretty cute)


For the REALLY big kids:

Lying Movies on Netflix for Teens and Adults
1. Bloodline

2. Revenge

3. The Bling Ring (this one looks totally fascinating)

4. Pretty Little Liars (along with Revenge, these seem like really good guilty pleasures)


What are you binge watching on Netflix these days? I need a new show! 

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I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team. This post is part of an ongoing partnership.