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Grandma's Back Room is where you'll find all kinds of fun stuff, including GIVEAWAYS, REVIEWS, SPONSORED POSTS and more!

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    Grandma's Briefs, Grilled Grandma and all content unless otherwise noted Copyright © 2009-2015, Lisa Carpenter. All rights reserved.
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    More summer reading for kids: Three unique books with unique twists

    There's still plenty of time for summer reading fun. Not long ago, I shared summer-themed picture books for little ones. Here are three fun ones for older kids, those who have a hankering for something beyond the picture books.

    Each of the following three books — which I recently received free for review — have a unique twist kids (and adults) will appreciate. Take a look:

    The Big Bad Wolf Goes on Vacation by Delphine Perret (ages 4 and up, Sterling Publishing, $12.95 hardcover). First up is the perfect story for summer time, especially for kids who get a kick out of comic-style books. Louis and his grandpa enjoy annual vacations at the sea, just the two of them. This year, though, Bernard — a cookie-munching and kooky wolf made famous in Perret's 2006 The Big Bad Wolf and Me — wants to join his pal Louis on the adventure. Silliness ensues as the road trip takes the trio on a memorable trek to the beach. The humorous text and drawings will keep not only the kids giggling at Bernard's antics, but any adults who share the story with their favorite kids, too.

    The Remarkable Ronald Reagan: Cowboy and Commander in Chief by Susan Allen, illustrated by Leslie Harrington (for guided reading level P — third and fourth grades, Regnery Publishing, $16.95 hardcover). When my girls were young, I had a set of books called Value Tales, which told the stories of famous folks and enlightened kids of all ages on the values that led the subjects to success and celebrity. This book feels much like those old books (which I so wish I had kept), only with much more heart, soul and solid information. Our 40th president is the subject here, and Allen — who once met "Dutch" in person — shares the story of Ronald Reagan's life, from his humble beginnings as a lifeguard and sportscaster, on up to his years as an actor, then governor, then revered president of the United States. Highlights of the book include the colorful illustrations and solid story line, plus the extensive information (important dates and quotes and more) shared in the back pages. Beyond kiddos, this is a book any history/presidential/Reagan buff will want to add to his or her library.

    Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse To Stay Up Late by Laura Overdeck, illustrated by Jim Paillot (ages 3-8, Feiwel and Friends — an imprint of Macmillan, $14.99). I used the word unique in the intro above, and this book is truly the most unique of all. So much so, in fact, that in order to do it justice, this book with a mission to make math a fun part of kids' every day life (including bedtime), I'd like to share with you the trailer for the book instead of trying to explain it in mere words:

    One point I'd like to make is that although the age range for Bedtime Math, per the publisher, begins at 3, I believe — as the grandmother to a two-year-old and a five-year-old — that the math problems noted for "wee ones" may be too challenging for wee ones of 3; age 4 or 5 might be a better place to start. That said, though, the ability to tailor the book to a child's age is one of the great things about it. Another is the opportunity to attend Pajama Party events featuring Bedtime Math at various libraries and bookstores across the country. Check the Bedtime Math website to see if there's a pajama party near you.

    Disclosure: I received the above books free for review. Opinions are my own.


    Better together: Summer fashion plus P&G products from Target

    Disclosure: This sponsored post is part of a DailyBuzz Moms Tastemaker program with P&G. Opinions (and outfit) are my own.

    When it comes to summer fashion, I like to pair the practical with the pretty. It's a given that grandmas must wear something practical, considering the job description and the hours spent hanging out with kids, doing all the fun things kids do.

    That doesn't mean, though, that grandmas must forego the pretty. No dowdy frocks for today's grandmas, as practical plus pretty can be pretty simple — and makes for a pretty darn good pairing, too, if I say so myself.

    An example? Take a look:

    My practical piece...

    cropped denim 

    plus my pretty piece...

    floral top

    equals Grandma, ready for the day, ready to play with her grandsons...

    summery grandma 

    Practical plus pretty fashion pieces are but one example of what goes better together for summer. Another example? Those better together pieces of mine — the cropped denim and floral top — stay looking better longer thanks to a few P&G products from Target, products that work better together in keeping clothes up to 50 percent newer longer than stand-alone value detergents.

    I'm talking specifically about these P&G products from Target:



    plus Downy®...


    plus Bounce®...


    equals a better together combination for keeping summer clothes looking newer longer — for everyone from grandmas on down to the newest of grandbabies.

    Based on my personal experience with the P&G products from Target, the combination keeps summer clothes smelling great, too. And looking newer longer plus smelling great always equals a plus in this grandma's book.

    The formula is simple: Just as it is with grandmas plus grandchildren, summer fashion plus P&G products from Target equals better together!

    This post is sponsored by P&G. With Tide®, Downy® and Bounce®, you can keep your summer fashions looking new up to 50% longer.* Text CLEAN to TARGET (827438) for mobile coupons.

    *vs. leading value detergent alone

    P&G Better Together


    Win 'Inspiration for Writers' from Chicken Soup for the Soul

    I am a writer. I write articles here and there, and I hope to one day publish a book. Not a novel, simply a book of essays and such.

    I'm also a blogger. Which is pretty much the same thing as being a writer.

    Writing and blogging can be hard work, contrary to what many non-writers/non-bloggers might think. Continually coming up with new words, new angles, new ideas then executing them in a way that even ever-so-slightly resembles the greatness of the ideas in one's head isn't simple. Nor fun, much of the time. As is the case with many writers (and as the oft-quoted saying goes), I don't really like to write but I like having written.

    Hearing from other writers and bloggers on how they manage to eke out words on a regular basis and where they find inspiration, plus their own words of inspiration to writers in the same spot was exactly what I needed when I received my most recent Chicken Soup for the Soul book in the mail for review.

    Chicken Soup for the Soul's Inspiration for Writers: 101 Motivational Stories for Writers — Budding or Bestselling — from Books to Blogs arrived on my doorstep at exactly the right time. I've been floundering a bit on the words I need in order to meet my deadlines (self-imposed and editor-imposed). I needed inspiration and, just as the title promised, Inspiration for Writers provided it.

    You won't find the biggies in this volume. No David Sedaris, Anna Quindlen, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver waxing philosophical with advice and inspiration for the masses. What you will find, though, are writers not too far removed from the level at which the rest of us word smiths who struggle day in and day out while putting pen to paper or bytes to computer screen. Their words offer comfort, support, guidance and, yes, inspiration.

    Chapters include:

    • Facing My Fears
    • A Little Help from My Friends
    • Making Time to Write
    • Take My Advice
    • Wrestling with Writer's Block
    • The Healing Power of Words
    • Mentors Who Mattered
    • Reflections on Rejection
    • Finding Inspiration
    • Try, Try Again
    • Writing Changes Lives

    If you're a writer — of blogs, books or anything in between — even just the chapter titles resonate. We all need a little inspiration and advice for the daily grind now and then, in all of those areas. This book offers it. And you can win it!

    Inspiration for Writers: 101 Motivational Stories for Writers — Budding or Bestselling — from Books to Blogs ($14.95) can be purchased wherever books are sold. Follow Chicken Soup for the Soul on their website, Twitter or Facebook.


    The Chicken Soup for the Soul publishers have offered up two copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul's Inspiration for Writers: 101 Motivational Stories for Writers — Budding or Bestselling — from Books to Blogs for me to give away to readers of Grandma's Briefs. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Entries will be accepted through June 20, with the winners chosen and notified via email on June 21.

    Good luck! And happy writing!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review, as well as the offer of two copies for giveaway, to be shipped by the brand.


    Back to school with Staples and NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight

    review badgeWhen my daughters were in school, one of the most important back-to-school items was a backpack, necessary for lugging around all the other back-to-school items, especially the books. As my girls progressed along their academic journeys, the books grew in size and number, the backpacks grew ever larger and more cumbersome. If only NOOK e-readers had existed back in those days, my daughters wouldn't have had to lug around bajillions of books (worth bajillions of dollars, during the college years).

    NOOKs do exist now, though, and because they're available at Staples, it's easy peasy to pick one up for students — and one for yourself, too — when purchasing all the other items on the back-to-school shopping list.

    The beginning of summer may seem an odd time to discuss back-to-school needs. Considering the summer reading expected of high-school and college students, though, now is actually a prime time to consider purchasing a NOOK, whether as a gift for a grandchild or a necessary item for a child.

    I recently had the opportunity to try out a NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight, courtesy of Not only does it make an awesome bedtime and anytime reading tool for grandmas like myself, it's not hard to see (a little GlowLight humor there) that the light, thin e-reader is an ideal alternative for students who want to literally lighten their load yet still accomplish the reading required of them.

    NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight

    With 2GB of space (meaning it holds up to 1000 books), the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight puts all a student's reading in the space and weight of less than a paperback book. If for some reason more space is needed, a microSD card ups that to 32GB. Books, including text books, can be purchased for the NOOK from the Barnes & Noble website or borrowed from the public library. It's far less expensive (60% less, per B&N) than purchasing hardcovers and so much easier to carry or keep handy for reading any time.

    This was my first experience with an e-reader, so I was a tad apprehensive about the NOOK. Turns out there was no need, as figuring out the NOOK was super easy. It comes with a printed Quick Start Guide as well as a full-length manual on the reader. The touch navigation made it a breeze to connect to Wi-Fi and be up and running — and reading — in no time. After perusing all the menus, of course.

    NOOK menu

    Though the NOOK came loaded with Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, I choose to purchase a book from B&N just to see how it works. That, too, was super easy, super quick. Within a few clicks and a matter of seconds (seriously!), I had David Sedaris' latest in my NOOK library.

    The GlowLight technology — a new addition to the NOOK — provided just the right amount of light, whether I read indoors or out, during day or night.

    NOOK GlowLight 

    The text size, margins, and font are easily adjusted to fit one's preference.

    NOOK text settings

    Especially useful tools for students include the ability to highlight passages, leave notes, and bookmark spots throughout books.

    NOOK highlighting

    As I mentioned, trying out the NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight was my first experience with an e-reader. Though I still need to practice with the highlighting to get the text I want to mark marked on the first try — plus, I do wish I had a NOOK cover to protect it — I was pleasantly surprised by everything about the NOOK, from tweaks for personalizing it to the speed of downloading to the ease of reading (thanks to the GlowLight, anti-glare screen, and crisp and clear fonts).

    I imagine the NOOK would be even more enjoyable for students who need a break not from books but from carrying around so darn many. Just don't forget to pick them up a NOOK cover while you're there.

    The NOOK Simple Touch with GlowLight is available at for $119. Dimensions are 6.5" H x 5.0" W x .47" D, 6.95 ounces, and it comes with a one-year limited manufacturers warranty.

    Easy button

    Full disclosure: provided me with these products for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own. Feel free to shop their entire line of E-readers online.

    Grown-up kids still growing up? A book (and review) for you!

    I used to tease my daughters when they were in their early 20s that you know you're a grown-up when you make your bed every day. They're all now 30 or pretty close to it, and if that's truly the test of having reached adulthood, my daughters still have lots of growing up to do. Well, all but my youngest, who does indeed make her bed each and every day. The other two? Not so much.

    Fortunately for them, bed-making isn't the barometer of being a big girl, er, adult, by any means. There are, though, markers that do signify adult status — and they're far different than what they used to be, according to When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up? by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Fishel.

    It used to be — for most baby boomers and older generations — that finishing one's education, moving away from home and getting married meant, viola!, you're an adult. That's not the case with the current generation of kids now ages 18-29. Not just in their minds, but in the minds of their parents, too. And this book, subtitled "Loving and Understanding Your Emerging Adult," is for those parents — and for parents of kids well past that age who can still use the advice and/or find comfort within.

    Parents of today's 20-somethings look to different markers to signify a child has reached adulthood, according to a survey conducted by the authors of When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up?. When asked "What is important in reaching adulthood for your child, in your opinion," the top three answers given by parents had nothing to do with finishing school, moving out or marrying. The top three were "Accepting responsibility for him/herself," "Becoming financially independent," and "Making independent decisions." Farther down the list were, of course, the traditional markers, plus "becoming more considerate of others" and "having a child."

    So if those traits are the goal with our adult children, why do they seem to be taking so long to get there nowadays? Arnett and Fishel offer plenty of reasons, as well as advice for how parents can remain supportive but allow their children to develop the necessary skills, traits and characteristics that now define in today's culture a fully emerged adult.

    Parents of children over the age of 18 may have thought they no longer needed parenting books. Consider this the last one you'll likely need... and you probably really do need it. There's not only advice and insight on the child at this stage, but excellent information on dealing with the empty nest and the effect it can, no will, have on the parents — their marriage (or non-marriage) one's own self-image and plans for the future. And it's all told with a sense of humor. Serious stuff here, but not dry and stuffy by any means.

    The information and advice given in When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up? — whether focusing on the child or the parent — is real, accurate, helpful, insightful. How do I know? Because I've been there, done that, could have used that. In my family, the kids are alright. And those alright kids are no longer kids, really, for they have surprisingly, successfully, emerged into adults.

    It sure would have been nice, though, if I would have had this book while we all struggled through the "emerging into adulthood" process as a family, to let me know I was doing alright, too. Those years featured many long days, sleepless nights, and plenty of fights, all which made me believe my husband and I had clearly not instilled something or another that we should have in our daughters. This book shows otherwise, made me feel better. I'm pretty sure it'll make parents still in the process of watching their children emerge into adulthood feel better, too.

    Unfortunately, though, the book won't teach grown-up kids how to make their beds every day. But as we all know, that's not really what matters anyway. (Just don't tell my daughters.)

    When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up? by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Fishel (Workman, $23.95) is available wherever books are sold. Learn more on the Workman Publishing website.

    Still on the fence about the book? The following book trailer will surely resonate with — and make chuckle — those who will most appreciate When Will My Grown-Up Kid Grow Up?

    Disclosure: I received a free and unsolicited copy of the book for review. Anecdotes and opinions are my own.


    Froggy Boogie: Eye-popping summer fun

    Summer has arrived! Time to get out and have some fun in the sun. Unless, that is, you live where summertime outdoors is far too hot for fun in the sun or any other outdoor spot. Hot places such as in the desert... which is where my grandsons live.

    Summers at my grandsons' house often mean finding fun inside rather than out, at least on those days when heat advisories from the National Weather Service prohibit outdoor play.

    One game ideal for such times — perfect for play any time, any where, in fact, even outdoors in fair-weather climes — is Froggy Boogie from Blue Orange Games. The all-wooden game carries the tagline "The eye popping, frog hopping, memory game!" It's designed for two to six players, ages 4 and up.

    Froggy Boogie

    As I'm a long-distance grandma and have not yet had the joy of playing Froggy Boogie with my oldest grandson (who celebrates his fifth birthday in June, putting him in the perfect age range), I'll share with you here a video of the game play:

    My grandson adored the last game we received for review from Blue Orange Games (SpotIt!), and Froggy Boogie seems like it 'll be an equally great time. I'll surely bring it along on my next visit — and likely end up leaving it with my grandson, just as I did SpotIt! because he loved it so.

    A few of the impressive aspects of the Froggy Boogie game, from a grandma's perspective, include the fact all the game pieces are fully (and finely) crafted of wood. Wooden games harken back to a simpler time and have entertainment value younger kids likely aren't exposed to often anymore. That also means it's sustainably made — a perk for the environment.

    Other aspects I appreciate about Froggy Boogie:

    • Players focus on memory skills, color identification, fine motor skills.

    • Game play time is relatively short, right in line with the attention span of young players.

    • Winner of several awards, including FamilyFun Magazine Toy of the Year.

    Froggy Boogie has a suggested price of $29.99 and can be purchased from Blue Orange Games (with a 30-day money-back guarantee), as well as from and other game retailers. Blue Orange Games can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

    Disclosure: I received the product free for review. All opinions and anecdotes are my own.