The Importance of Being Reese

Vivino: The Perfect Wine App



Disclaimer: Although I was compensated for this post, all opinions expressed below are solely my own. 

Never pick another bad wine...

If you're like me and enjoy pairing your wine and food, but you still need a bit of guidance, your life just got easier.

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a mobile app called Vivino, and it has changed the way I shop for wine in a major way. This app literally takes ALL the guess work out of selecting the right wine for your meal. Hate all the work that goes into searching for that perfect bottle of wine? No problem. With Vivino you have instant access to wine prices, ratings and reviews anywhere, anytime, all at the palm of your hands.

Better still, if you're new to the wine scene and don't yet know the lingo, Vivino has thousands of intriguing wine-related article to help you become an expert on all things wine related.

Vivino is currently leading the pack in the wine app department. With more than 10 million users, you can feel confident that you'll have access to reviews and prices for all those wines on your "must try" list.


So far I've used this app to select a few bottles of wine. The reviews I read were pretty spot on, and the average price was right on the money. I'm a fan of keeping it simple, and Vivino does just that. This app is simple to navigate, but contains a plethora of information about wine.

So to review...

1. Easy to navigate
2. Plethora of wine related information
3. Saves you money and time
4. Vivino = your new best friend.

This handy app is currently available to download FOR FREE on iTunes and Google Play. Want in on more wine-related news and deals? Join the party on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you downloaded Vivino? If so, what do you think so far? Share your thoughts below!

Until next time,

10 Educational Websites To Promote Summer Learning



No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks... 

Summer is officially in full swing. Now that your children are at home full-time, the dreaded summer slide has begun. Studies show that students who don't read, or participate in educational activities over a three month period are far more likely to have major set-backs at the beginning of the school year.

Today I'm sharing 10 awesome educational websites dedicated to helping you and your kids defeat the dreaded summer-slide. These 10 kid friendly sites will keep your kids (and yourselves) learning all summer long!

All Ages

National Geographic
Dive into underwater adventures, or spend the day in the Serengeti. Another valuable learning resource, National Geographic is useful for children of ALL ages, even your "Littlest Learners." National Geographic is a great site to help build your children's interest in animals and travel.

PBS Kids 
From math focused games, to mind-boggling puzzles. PBS.org is designed to make learning fun. The best part about PBS Kids is that all ages are welcome. If you have a house full of toddlers, or a house full of pre-teens PBS Kids is the go-to site to make education a fun and rewarding experience.


Littlest Learners: Ages 1-6

Sesame Street
I grew up watching Sesame Street, and as the mother of a toddler, it's refreshing to see Sesame Street is still alive and kicking.  The Sesame Street website is designed for early learners, so this is a great site to start introducing your kids to at an early age. Your little learners can choose from hundreds of video clips and games to help them learn numbers, words, animal sounds, colors, shapes, rhymes and more. This is a great site to help get your children started on the road to success.

FunBrain Jr.
FunBrain Jr is designed to help your littlest learners develop math, literacy, and basic problem-solving skills at a young age. The site contains fun games, stories and printables that make learning an exciting adventure for your little ones.

Nick Jr.
If your little ones are fans of Bubble Guppies, Wonder Pets!, or Dora the Explorer, they'll love Nick Jr.com. Specifically designed to keep your little learners intrigued, Nick Jr. has full-length episodes of your child's favorite shoes, exciting learning games and so much more.


Middle Minds: Ages 6-10

Make me a Genius
This site is PERFECT for summer! Filled with exciting information about science projects, the solar system and electricity, Make Me A Genius is a great way to encourage your children to become more interested in science at a young age.

Spelling City
Is your kid falling behind in their reading and spelling? Spelling City is the perfect solution! Spelling city offers award-winning games and learning tools for vocabulary, spelling, writing and language art.

ABCYa
ABCYa is intended for kids in grades one through five. The site is composed of games and learning tools that incorporate areas such as math and language arts while introducing basic computer skills. Have upcoming plans for a family vacation? Take ABCYa on the road with you via their mobile tablet games.


Bigger Brains: Ages 10-17

Cool Math
"An amusement park of math and more," Cool Math is specifically designed for kids ages 13 and up, however, kids (and adults) of all ages can have a great time on this site.  Cool Math offers a variety of games and puzzled to help children learn the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The site even delves into some of the harder math topics such as fractions and money.

How Stuff Works
Now that your kids have graduated from Sesame Street and Nick Jr. How Stuff Works is a great site to keep them fascinated with the way, well, stuff works. The beauty of How Stuff Works, is that it doesn't focus on on particular area of interest, but instead, includes basically everything but the kitchen sink.

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Keep your kids (and yourselves ) interested in learning this summer. It will pay off in the long-run when your child is cheerfully accepting scholarships to the top-notch college of their choice!

What are some of your go-to educational sites for your children? Share below in the comment section.

Until next time,


Win A "Paleo Pack" From Jurassic World




Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Jurassic World, but all thoughts and opinions expressed below are my own. 

Jurassic World is back and even better than ever. A few days ago, Mr. A and I had the opportunity to check out the pre-screening for Jurassic World and it was even better than expected. Which is saying something, because I expected it to be pretty amazing!

Jurassic World takes you on an incredible thrilling journey from start to finish. And watching it in 3D was the cherry on top. It literally immerses you in the film and you feel as though you're the one being hunted by a pack of velociraptors. I may have screamed a few times during the movie. It was just that real.

Watching the Jurassic saga as a kid sparked an interested in me with all things dinosaur related. As a result, we spent quite a bit of time at dinosaur exhibits. As an adult, I'm still fascinated by them. Which is why I'm so incredibly happy to help Jurassic World kick off their latest movie with an awesome giveaway.

In addition to making incredible movies, the Jurassic World staff has put together an awesome giveaway prize for one of my readers. If your kids are a fan of dinosaurs, check out the giveaway below and enter to win an awesome “Paleo Pack” for your little paleontologist’s first dino-mite adventure!

Winner will receive
A set of Jurassic World headphones,
A Jurassic World Hat
An awesome Jurassic World backpack
An super cool dino toy and lego set for your future paleontologist!

The giveaway will run until next Saturday. Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win. And of course, make sure you get out and see what's basically guaranteed to be the BEST film of the year! Stop by the Jurassic World website for an exciting behind-the-scenes look at all the amazing dinosaurs featured in the film.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

50 Fun Summertime Books for Your Toddlers and Babies




Summer is just around the corner and now is the perfect time to head to your local library or bookstore and stock up on some great reads for your little ones. With expectations for school-aged children at an all time high, schools are encouraging parents to get an early start on at-home learning. This list of 50 baby and toddler friendly books will increase their reading comprehension and captivate their attention.  Ditch the television and give your little ones a chance to savor summer fun, and learn in the process.

Enjoy!


1. Welcome Summer 
Ages: 0-2
This bright, tactile board book celebrates a first encounter with the hottest season: summer! Bold, simple illustrations and textures show what a child first sees, hears, touches, and tastes. And no matter how sticky it may be outside, this child ends up safe and cool in Daddy's arms. The last installment in this series of four seasonal offerings.

2. Summer
Ages: 0-2
With fun pictures about the hot Summer holiday season, this is an engaging book to share with babies and toddlers. There pictures of cold ice-cream, the hot sun, the sandy beach and more to look at, and the pages have different touch-and-feel textures, which little fingers will love to explore.

3. Baby Loves Summer
Ages: 1-4
Little ones will love lifting the flaps in this new Karen Katz book to reveal a big yellow sun, flip-flops, an ice cream cone, and everything else that Baby loves about summer! The sturdy format and easy-to-lift flaps make this a perfect summertime treat for parents and children to share.

4. Where's Baby's Beach Ball?
Ages: 1-4
It's summertime, and Baby is looking for the beach ball--but where can it be? Little ones can lift the large, sturdy flaps in this board book to reveal pretty seashells, crawly crabs, and more! Babies will love this interactive adventure!

5. Buzz Buzz Baby 
Ages: 1-4
In this adorable book from Karen Katz, little ones can lift the flaps on each spread to reveal cute critters such as little ladybugs, crawling caterpillars, teeny-tiny ants, and more! Filled with Katz’s signature multicultural babies, this book with its sturdy, easy-to-lift flaps is perfect for parents and children to share.

6. To The Pool With Mama
Ages: 2-4
It is Friday, and John J. and Mama are off to the pool. Bathing suit and towel are carefully stowed in a backpack. In the baby pool are many toys, and the water is just the right height for a toddler to splash and roll around in. Water is great fun to play in, but it is important for John J. and his friend Elise to remember that water belongs in the pool, not on the deck or each other's heads!Going to the pool is tiring, and at the end of the day a happy, snuggly little boy is carried home, warm and safe in the arms of Mama.

7. Caterpiller Spring, Butterfly Summer
Ages 2-6
This beautiful story about a caterpillar's busy day features a colorful, fabric-covered spring that lends a bouncing effect to the lively artwork, mimicking the motion of a crawling caterpillar.

8. Let it Shine 
Ages 2-6
School is out and the sun is shining. It's time to play outside! Celebrate all the wonders of summer in this final book in Maryann Cocca-Leffler's delightful series about the seasons. With soft-colored art, adorable children, and vibrant outdoor scenes, LET IT SHINE celebrates all the seasonal awe of summer.

9. Mouse's First Summer
Ages 2-6
Mouse and Minka invite YOU to celebrate summer with a picnic in the park. Roll down the hill on tickly green grass. Fly kites fluttery high in the sky. And don't forget juicy watermelon! But before it's time to go home, a summer surprise sparkles in the sky.

10. Summer Days and Nights
Ages 2-6
On a hot summer day, a little girl finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She catches a butterfly, sips lemonade, jumps in a pool, and goes on a picnic. At night, she sees an owl in a tree and a frog in a pond, and hears leaves rustling. Before long, she’s fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights.

11. Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef
Ages: 3+
With painstaking detail each illustration is created entirely of polymer clay, then photographed, creating a 3-D impression of tremendous vitality. Kids will sing, clap, and count their way among pufferfishthat puff, gruntfishthat grunt and seahorses that flutter, and begin to appreciate life in the ocean.

12. Summer Stinks
Ages: 3+
Summer stinks. What more do you need to say about a hot, sweaty, bug-riddled season? Well, Marty Kelley, author of Fall Is Not Easy has a few things to say (and draw) about summer--26 of them, in fact. Summer Stinks, Kelley's paen to the "estivally dispirited," takes a comic look at both the alphabet and summer. From "A is for ants" to "Z is for [bug] zapper," Summer Stinks is a seasonal treat that you can enjoy all year long.

13. Summersaults
Ages: 3+
What do you like about summer? Mountain hikes? Picking cherries? Curve balls? Ice cream cones? What do you not like about summer? Blackouts?

14. Summer
Ages 3+
Oh, the wonderful things that summer brings—swimming at the beach, making sand castles, catching butterflies, eating watermelon, toasting marshmallows, watching fireworks! The simple, timeless activities featured in this abridged, board-book edition of the classic Beginner Book Summer make it perfect to share at the shore (or anyplace else!) with young and old alike

15. How I Became A Pirate 
Ages:3-5
When Braid Beard's pirate crew invites Jeremy Jacob to join their voyage, he jumps right on board. Buried treasure, sea chanteys, pirate talk--who wouldn't go along? Soon Jeremy Jacob knows all about being a pirate.

16. Mama, Is It Summer Yet
Ages: 3-5
A little boy who can’t wait for summer keeps asking his mama, “Is it summer yet?” Mama says, “Not yet, little one,” then points to the signs that spring is turning to summer—the softening of the earth, the nest-building of squirrels, the singing of birds—and encourages her son to savor the beauty of spring.

17. How I Spent My Summer Vacation
Ages 3-7
Some kids spend their summer vacation at camp. Some kids spend it at Grandma's house. Wallace Bleff spent his out west...on a ride, a rope, and a roundup he'll never forget.

18. Hey Little Ant
Ages: 3-7
What would you do if the ant you were about to step on looked up and started talking? Would you stop and listen? What if your friends saw you hesitate? That’s what happens in this funny, thought-provoking book. Originally a song by a father-daughter team, this conversation between two creatures, large and small, is bound to inspire important discussions. It might even answer that classic childhood question: To squish or not to squish?

19. Beach Bugs: A Popup Book
Ages 3-7
From picnic bugs and fireflies to rollercoaster bugs on a warm summer night, this next installment of the wildly popular Bugs series captures what everyone loves about summer!

20. A Night Before Summer Vacation
Ages 3-8
A little girl and her family are getting ready to go on vacation . . . or at least they are trying to. In the effort to pack everything that will be needed, there's bound to be something overlooked, and what that is provides a funny ending to this meter-perfect "twist" on Clement Moore's classic.

21. The Icky Bug Alphabet Book
Ages: 4-8
For many children, "icky" bugs are endlessly fascinating. This book helps children discover why farmers like the praying mantis, how the water spider breathes underwater, and other intriguing facts about the world of bugs and insects.

22. What Lives In A Shell
Ages: 4-8
A house is a home for you, a nest is a home for a bird, and a cave is a home for a bear. But for some animals a shell is a home. Snails and turtles and crabs and clams all have shells that act as their homes and protect them from harm. In this book you'll learn all about these and other crustaceous creatures, for whom a shell is just the right sort of home.

23. Come On, Rain
Ages 4-8
Newbery Medalist Karen Hesse recreates the body and soul-renewing experience of a summer downpour after a sweltering city heat wave.

24. The Raft
Ages 4-8
Nicky isn't one bit happy about spending the summer with his grandma in the Wisconsin woods; he'd much rather be back in the city. He's not too thrilled about all the chores either—especially fishing. Before long, though, a raft appears in the nearby river, and it changes everything. As Nicky explores, the raft works a subtle magic on the obstinate young boy, opening up the wonders all around him: the animals of river and woods, his grandmother's humor and wisdom, and his own special talent as an artist.

25. Blackout
Ages 4-8
One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. The TV shuts off and a boy wails, "Mommm!" His sister can no longer use the phone, Mom can't work on her computer, and Dad can't finish cooking dinner. What's a family to do? When they go up to the roof to escape the heat, they find the lights--in stars that can be seen for a change--and so many neighbors it's like a block party in the sky! On the street below, people are having just as much fun--talking, rollerblading, and eating ice cream before it melts. The boy and his family enjoy being not so busy for once. They even have time to play a board game together. When the electricity is restored, everything can go back to normal . . . but not everyone likes normal. The boy switches off the lights, and out comes the board game again.

26. Weslandia
Ages: 4-8
Now that school is over, Wesley needs a summer project. He’s learned that each civilization needs a staple food crop, so he decides to sow a garden and start his own - civilization, that is. He turns over a plot of earth, and plants begin to grow. They soon tower above him and bear a curious-looking fruit. As Wesley experiments, he finds that the plant will provide food, clothing, shelter, and even recreation. It isn’t long before his neighbors and classmates develop more than an idle curiosity about Wesley - and exactly how he is spending his summer vacation.

27. Plantzilla
Ages: 4-8
When Mortimer Henryson offers to take care of a strange plant called Plantzilla for the summer, he is in for more than he bargained for.

28. One Crazy Summer 
Ages:4-8
 Eleven-year-old Delphine is like a mother to her two younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern. She's had to be, ever since their mother, Cecile, left them seven years ago for a radical new life in California. When they arrive from Brooklyn to spend the summer with her, Cecile is nothing like they imagined. While the girls hope to go to Disneyland and meet Tinker Bell, their mother sends them to a day camp run by the Black Panthers. Unexpectedly, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern learn much about their family, their country, and themselves during one truly crazy summer.

29. The Berenstain Bears Go To Camp
Ages 4-8
The Berenstain Bears are at in again. Join them on their latest adventure, to camp!

30. Biscuits First Beach Day
Ages 4-8
 Biscuit is going on his first trip to the beach! He is excited about making sand castles, collecting seashells, and playing in the ocean. Have a great day, Biscuit. Woof!

31. Canoe Days
Ages 4-8
A fawn peeks out from the trees as ducklings fan out behind their mother. Butterflies pause and fish laze beneath the lily pads. Ruth Wright Paulsen’s sunlit paintings and Gary Paulsen’s poetic text capture all the peace and pleasure of a day when water and sky are one.

32. The Night Before Summer Vacation 
Ages 4-8
The first day of summer camp is almost here, and one little camper doesn’t know what to expect. For a while everything is hunkydory . . . until rest time rolls around and he gets a bad case of nervous butterflies. But an unlikely friend appears out of the crowd and reassures him that the best cure for the summertime blues is tons of summertime fun!

33. Zoomers Summer Snowstorm
Ages 4-8
Who's ever heard of a snowstorm in the summer?Zoomer, that's who! It's a hot summer day and Zoomer is all ready to cool off with a snow cone. But when the snow cone–making goes too far, the hot summer day turns icy cold! Luckily Zoomer knows just how to make the best of the situation: He goes on a snow safari, visits the polar empire of Zoomarctica, rides his snow locomotive—and that's just the tip of the iceberg!

34. One Hot Summer Day
Ages 4-8
An effervescent city child dances through a hot summer day until a thunderstorm brings welcome relief. Executed in collages made from color photographs, imaginatively redefined in unexpected juxtaposition....A wonderful concept book, grounded in ordinary events yet touched with magic, that will strike a familiar chord with preschool audiences while enlarging their perceptions.

35. Pictures From Our Vacation
Ages: 4-8
Does 1 + 2 + 3 = summer vacation? What about how it felt to swim in the lake? What about the stories their cousins told and the taste of a just-invented strawberry and whipped cream dessert?For those memories—the memories of summer and the memories of family that mean the most—they need to look someplace else. Someplace deep inside. Someplace permanent.

36. Watermelon Day
Ages: 4-8
There's a watermelon growing in the corner of the patch where the fence posts meet, and Jesse is waiting for it. Waiting for it to fill up with the cool summer rain and the hot summer sun. Waiting until at last it is ripe and ready for eating. Waiting until it is ready for her family's annual Watermelon day.

37. Carl's Summer Vacation
Ages: 4-8
Carl and Madeleine are supposed to be napping while Mom and Dad get the summer cabin ready for company, but this lovable canine and his charge have better things to do. They escape from the hammock to do some canoeing, pick blackberries, and enjoy a picnic

38. Painting The Wind
Ages: 4-8
On an island, surrounded by water and light, a young boy waits for the sun to shine, and for his friends, the painters, to return: The landscape painter and the painter of flowers. The painter of still lifes and the painter of faces. They all come to the island to paint when the days are long and their dogs can run free. The young boy watches and learns. This summer he will try to do what he has never done before. He will try to paint the wind.

39. Heat Wave 
Ages: 4-8
The mercury is climbing in Lumberville, and the folks are doing everything they can to keep cool. Officer McGinnis spends the day in a cold bath, Lottie Mims does her housework in her bathing suit, and Abigail and Ralphie Blue sell ice cubes. When the temperature refuses to relent, the entire community seeks solace by the river--where everyone dreams of cool relief.

40. Taffy Saltwater Yummy Summer Day
Ages: 4-8
Taffy is determined to build the perfect sandcastle, but when Rollo, the cheery beach ball, is carried off in the style of Mary Poppins, via umbrella, Taffy must hurry to rescue him. Fortunately, Bob the inflatable sea serpent is in Taffy's bag, and soon he is tearing down the beach, in hot pursuit.

41. Lemondae Sun 
Ages 4-8
 Like the spicy sweetness of an ice-cold glass of lemonade, these bright and happy poems promise--and deliver--a shiver of recognition and refreshment. From the classic subjects of "My Lemonade Stand" and "Jacks" to the jazzy rhythms of "Jump Rope Talk" to the lyrical beauty of "Backyard Bubbles," this stunning collection from Rebecca Kai Dotlich is drenched in summer colors and pleasures.

42. The Berenstain Bears Go On Vacation 
 Ages: 4-8
 It's summer vacation, and the Berenstain Bears are off to the seashore for sun and fun. There is so much to do—swimming, fishing, building sand castles, browsing through the general store, eating delicious dinners at Gull Island CafĂ©, and visiting Gull Island Museum. Each glorious sunrise heralds a new adventure!

43. Guess How Much I Love You In The Summer 
Ages: 4-8
It's summer and Little Nutbrown Hare learns about all the different colours there are - the red of the berries, the green of the leaves, the blue of the sky... but can he guess what the loveliest colour of all is?

44. Curious George and The IceCream Surprise
Ages 4-8
George is looking for a way to beat the summer heat. Swimming, running through sprinklers, a glass of lemonade—none can help George cool off! What George really wants is a sweet, cold treat from the ice cream truck, but will he ever catch it?

45. The Fourteen Bears In The Summer and Winter
Ages: 4-8
Once upon a time, in a summer forest, there were fourteen bears . . . so begins a sweet story of a bear family’s life throughout the year, told in loving and simple detail. This book features two popular stories written by noted Southern author Evelyn Scott, and has been out of print for decades. We’re pleased to reissue this book in response to the requests of several booksellers, and hundreds of people who want it for their children and grandchildren.

46. A Swim Through The Sea
Ages:5+
This 1994 alphabet and alliteration book continues to be a favorite of kids, parents, and teachers everywhere. It is truly an exceptional swim through an alphabet of sea creatures. Each page highlights a selected species with a full-color illustration and a paragraph of fascinating facts, surrounded by a frame full of extra creatures and vocabulary.

47. Seashells By The Seashore
Ages:5+
Counting from one to twelve, Sue picks up shells--periwinkle, kittens paw, scallop--and carefully adds them to her bucket as a gift for Grandma. She and her friend identify the shells, and when they discover one that still has the mollusk living inside they put it back in the water--learning that shells are actually the (usually) abandoned homes of sea animals

48. The Gardner
Ages:5+
The Gardener introduces readers to a winsome and determined young heroine, whose generosity will reward all who meet her." A cute book of simple letters from the heroine Lydia Grace accompanied by sweet illustrations. Children and adults will appreciate.

49. Swimming Lessons
Ages 5+
Although she has found many excuses for refusing to take swimming lessons, Jane finally faces the inevitable and jumps into the water for a very good reason.

50. The Summer Solstice
Ages: 6+
From ancient times to the present, people have found many ways to express their thankfulness for the sun's gift of warmth and light. The Summer Solstice depicts the mysterious rites of the Egyptians, the tales of fairies and selkies, the modern parades and baseball games--all part of the fun and folklore of this happy time. What is summer solstice? Read this book to find out!

Did I miss a good one? What are your favorite summertime reads for your littles?