Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kid Beowulf Book Review (Book 1)

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Graphic novels are the preferred genre in our home. You see we are an artistic family so it should come as no surprise that comic style books area huge hit. Both kids go through graphic novel series so quickly that I am always on the search for exciting new series they will enjoy. Well just before Christmas I was contacted by Andrews McMeel Publishing about doing a review on Kid Beowulf The Bloodline Oath. I took one look at the front cover and knew it was right up my kids alley.

A moms review:
Kid Beowulf is a series (currently 3 books, plus an educational guide and prequel) inspired by the epic poem "Beowulf" and introduces children to classical literature in a way they will enjoy and understand. Any book that introduces my children to classical literature gets a star in my book.

Kid Beowulf is geared towards children ages 8-14 years old. It is a 280 page soft cover book written and illustrated by Alexi E. Fajardo. This story is about 12 year old twin brothers Beowulf and Grendel and their quest to redeem their fallen ancestor. Throughout the book there are dragons, monsters, kings, an enchanted swords and oh a pig! This book will appeal to Percy Jackson fans who love mythology and adventure. The book teaches important lessons about family, loyalty and integrity.

One of my favorite things about the book is the more to explore section in the back of the book. This section includes a world map showing Beowulf and Grendels adventures, key terms, character glossary, Beowulf family tree, origins of the epic poem, information on monster slayers, a how to draw Beowulf lesson and even the anatomy of a comic book page

Gwyns Review:
Okay so let's hear about the book from one of the kids that read it. Gwyn is soon to be 11 and a reading fanatic.

The book is about a boy who was being raised by his Uncle who sets out on an adventure after his ghost father tells him to stole away on a ship to find his long lost brother......but ends up finding much more. The story taught me that family bloodlines may not be what you always expect. The book is really funny and many of the characters are sarcastic. My favorite character was the dragon because he has a really cool backstory. He used to fight King Arthur's dad and took off the Kings hand in return the King took the dragons eye. I also like Grendel because he frees animals out of traps. The character I could relate with most though was the sword because he never stops talking, just like me. I recommend the book to kids who are interested in mythology, bloodlines and comics.

I am really looking forward to reading book #2. I cannot wait to find out what happens next with Beowulf's family.

About the Author and Illustrator:
Alexis E. Fajardo is a student of the classics – whether Daffy Duck or Damocles – and has created a unique blend of the two in his graphic novel series, Kid Beowulf. Lex has taught cartooning throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently resides in Santa Rosa, where, when not penning Kid Beowulf, he works for PEANUTS at the Charles M. Schulz Studio.

Be sure to check out the Kid Beowulf website for some games and download a teacher guide.

Where to buy:
The retail price is $10.99 and the book can be purchased at local books stores and on Amazon.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

5 Ways to Plan a Frugal Family Getaway

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details

If you’re looking for ways to plan a budget-friendly family vacation, you may be wondering what you can do to save money. Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to make your trip more affordable. Here are five ways to plan a frugal family getaway. 

1. Book your trip at the right time
. When you plan your vacation during the off-season, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. Rather than going to Walt Disney World during the summer months, why not book during the schoolyear? If you can’t manage to take your kids out of school, you might consider going over a holiday weekend. You’ll spend less time there, but the savings may be worth it. 
2. Use credit card rewards to your advantage
. Cashback rewards can work in a cycle. You can use your cashback money to put towards your vacation, but you can also earn more cashback rewards by using your cards while you’re on vacation! If your cards offer frequent flyer miles, you can also use them to your advantage. To come up with a plan to get free plane tickets using credit card rewards programs, you may want to check out RewardExpert
3. Consider taking a staycation.
Who says you need to go far in order to have fun? You can create lifetime memories just by going to a local amusement park or the nearest beach. You may even consider going camping at the nearest state or national park. The possibilities for a frugal family staycation are endless! 

4. Rent or share a vacation home.
Renting a house can be cheaper and also gives you more space than a hotel room would. If you have friends or family who are traveling to the same location at the same time, why not see if they want to share a house? I’ve had good success finding vacation homes to rent on HomeAway and FlipKey.
5. Consider renting a car for your road trip.
Although it seems cheaper to take your own car on a road trip, there are a few scenarios in which renting a car can be a wiser option. If your car already has a lot of miles on it, road tripping too frequently will just decrease its value. If you lease a car, you may also go over your mileage and end up owing more at the end of the year. To find the cheapest car rental, check out AutoSlash, which helps find you discounts and even re-books you when it finds better deals. 

These are just five of the things you can do to plan a frugal family getaway. Whether you’re going to Walt Disney World or your local amusement park, it’s possible to make a trip fit into your family’s budget! 
Erin Gifford is a mother of four who looks up and down for ways to save money on travel for her big family. She has a family travel blog, Kidventurous, which was recently selected as a top family travel resource by Parents magazine. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

An Unschooler's Not Back To School Guide + A Giveaway

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

The World is our classroom!

Wow this Summer has flown by. Not that it really matters for us since we unschool and learning happens all the time...even during the Summer. But believe it or not even unschoolers need to prepare for a new "school" year.

So what does an unschoolers "not back to school" preparing look like? Well it is definitely not stressful and is basically a time for us to regroup. Here are some of the the things that occur when we are getting ready for a new "school" calendar year!
  • Make a list of everything the kids want to learn about and explore during the year. This list definitely grows throughout the year, but it's helpful to have a good launching point. This list includes everything the kids are interested in learning about whether it is dinosaurs or shrunken heads!
  • Buy some books, because you can never have enough books! We utilize the library every month and check out around 100 books a month (on average) but we also like to add a few books to our personal library. Our two favorite publishers are National Geographic and Usborne.
  • Load up the Netflix queue with educational programming that compliments what the kids want to learn about. Yes the television is a resource in our home.  Netflix and Amazon Prime are loaded with fabulous, educational documentaries and movies.
  • Stock up on supplies! I love taking advantage of the "back to school" sales. Who doesn't love to save money? Just like you can never have enough books you can never have enough pencils, crayons, scissors or glue! I swear my kids eat the crayons and glue, just like the dryer eats the socks :)
  • Clean out the "homeschool room" or as I like to call it our resource room. I know Spring is over, but it is better late than never to go through that dreaded room (you all know what room I am talking about) to organize and purge. I did ours a few weeks ago and it felt wonderful. I got rid of several boxes of resources we no longer utilize and gave them to a homeschooling family that is starting their first year!
  • Fill up the calendar with experiential learning experiences, fieldtrips and camping trips. If you follow me you know I run the largest homeschool group in the Southeast USA. So not only am I busy finding and creating amazing experiences for my children, but I am also busy helping out other families too!
  • Celebrate! Get together with homeschool friends and celebrate with a "not back to school" party! After all Summer is NOT officially over yet and we still have a couple months to enjoy it with "hot" weather activities like swimming at the lake!

Several bloggers have gotten together to host a great giveaway for you just in time for back to school! One lucky winner will receive a $100 US Amazon Gift Card . Giveaway ends 8/1/16 and winner will be announced 8/2/16. Please enter via the rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read some more great Back to School tips from my fellow blogging friends:

Friday, July 1, 2016

Everglades Holiday Park (Home of the Gator Boys) Review #usfg

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

Everglades Holiday Park is South Florida's premier gateway to the state's most exciting natural attraction-the Everglades. The park started nearly three decades ago by George M. Bridges who build the first airboat by hand in his backyard in 1982. The park is a family fun entertainment destinations and offers everything from guided Everglades airboat tours and live alligator presentations to food, souvenirs and fresh water fishing,

A moms review:
Visiting the Everglades has been on my, "places to visit list" for a very long time. So when we received an opportunity to review Everglades Holiday Park during our visit to Florida I just had to say yes. Everglades Holiday Park is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida so it took us about 3 1/2 hours to get there from the Orlando area but the drive was well worth it.

We arrived at the park around 11 am. Parking was plentiful and it was very easy to locate the gift shop where we received our airboat tour ticket. The gift shop was quite large and offered snacks, souvenirs and fishing gear. There were well maintained restrooms located just outside of the gift shop. There was also a deli located next to the gift shop in case you need to grab a bite to eat. After receiving our airboat tour tickets we went outside to sit on the covered porch in front of the gift shop to wait for our tour number to be called. In about 10 minutes they announced our tour number over the PA system and we proceeded down to the boat dock.

Once at the boat dock a staff member gathered our family and took a souvenir photo. And guess what the photo is included in the cost of your tickets! How cool is that? No need to pay another $20+ for a photo to remember your experience.

At this point the kids were getting really excited.....okay so was I. Our Captain walked us up the dock to the boat and we piled in. The boats seat 20+ people and are covered so you don't have to worry about melting in the Florida sun! After our Captain Mike went over some rules we were off on our 60 minute thrilling airboat tour of the Everglades.

WOW! We learned so much in 60 minutes. Mike told us the history of the area, how the Native Americans lived off the land, and how to survive if you ever get lost in the Everglades (which I hope never happens...eek). He also showed us the numerous flora and fauna of the area and yes we did get to see a couple of them was only a few feet away from the boat! Our Captain really made our experience a fun and remarkable one. It is one that we will never forget. He was funny, informative and you could tell he was very dedicated to his job. **Important note: bring cash to tip your airboat Captain and the Gator Boys that do the presentation...they deserve it. The Everglades Holiday Park airboat experience is perfect for all ages and a must for nature enthusiasts, thrill seekers and artists!

A video posted by @kbalman on

This video clip explains it all!

After our airboat tour we picked up our souvenir photo and headed up to the waiting area for our gator show with the famous "Gator Boys"! If you don't know who the Gator Boys are let me tell you a little bit about them. The Gator Boys are a group of people (and not just boys there is a woman too) dedicated to rescuing nuisance alligators around Florida. Their reality show airs on Animal Planet, in fact many of their episodes were filmed at Everglades Holiday Park. When it was time for our show they walked us down to a covered walkway located in front of the "gator pit." **Important note: Everglades Holiday Park is in the process of building an arena area for future shows! The 20 minute show is an adrenalin-charged good time filled with exciting stunts, tricks and some of the best entertainment around. It is also very educational which is a plus for our homeschooling family! The show is very animal friendly and in fact the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue actually helps nuisance alligators by giving them a place to live and eat in a natural setting. These gators, if not rescued would have been euthanized...instead they are now animal ambassadors helping to break down alligator stereotypes!

After the show is over you can head over to the photo area to capture some more special memories. For a small fee you can get a memorable experience and photo holding a baby alligator, snake or other critter (animals do vary but they generally always have a baby alligator available for a photo shoot). Look at their grins. They were in absolute heaven.

We give Everglades Holiday Park 5 stars. The cost, experiences and staff were all stellar. We highly recommend this experience to any family looking for a one of a kind way to spend their time in Florida! I promise you will not be disappointed. When I posted our photos to social media several followers told me they had similar experiences with Everglades Holiday Park and visit every year when they vacation in Florida!

Extra details:
  • Ask QUESTIONS! The captains are a wealth of knowledge and being prepared with questions can definitely enhance the experience.
  • Take along sunscreen and bus spray...after all it is Florida and a swamp!
  • The airboat ride can be very loud at times. If you have a child sensitive to loud noises take along ear protection, 
  • Don't forget to take cash along to tip your airboat Captain and the Gator Boy or Girl doing your show!
  • All ages can ride the airboat, children under 3 are free!
  • Find out about various family friendly events taking place at the park by visiting the Gator Kids Club page.
  • Everglades Holiday Park is home to many animal species learn more about them here.
  • If you want to get a glimpse of the park before visiting check out the web cam.
  • Everglades Holiday Park can accommodate various groups and offers discounts for 15 or more, read more here

21940 Griffin Road
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33332  

Links to follow:
-Everglades Holiday Park Website
-Everglades Holiday Park Facebook
-Everglades Holiday Park Twitter

Friday, June 10, 2016

Everglades Holiday Park Limited Time Coupon Offer #usfg

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure Page for details.

We are really excited to be heading to Florida soon for our family vacation. We have some fun things lined up one of which is Everglades Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale, FL. As you know we are a nature loving family so it should be no surprise that we would choose an airboat tour though the swamp as one of our activities. Everglade Holiday Park is home to the Gator Boys Alligator Rescue. The park has been in operation for nearly 3 decades and promises visitors a one of a kind, unforgettable experience. Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see photos from our Florida adventure.

At Everglades Holiday Park your family will glide across the River of Grass in a state-of-the-art airboat before taking in an alligator presentation performed by the Gator Boys from Animal Planet's hit TV series, where you'll learn all about the American alligator. Included with the adventure is 1 free group photo to remember your fun-filled day. Everglades Holiday Park has endless options for continued fun, including animal encounters, fishing, bike trails and more!

After our visit to the park we plan to hit up Everglades National Park so we can get in another National Park visit this year as we celebrate the centennial anniversary of the National Parks System.

Don't worry after our visit I will be sure to do a follow up post reviewing our experience. In the meantime check out the reviews on Trip Advisor.

Limited time offer - SAVE $4 Off Adult and $2 Off Child Airboat Tour, Gator Presentation & FREE Group Photo Ticket - Everglades Holiday Park -- home of the GatorBoys! Click here to obtain your coupon.

There's Only One Everglades, and Only One Way to See it!

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