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Welcome to Grandma's Back Room

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

So go ahead: Enter the giveaways, read the reviews, peruse the sponsored posts. And be sure to take a moment to visit the websites of the kind folks who have provided the goodies of which I write about, give away or plug.

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    Dioptics Solar Shield Shades: Inexpensive alternative to tinted prescription glasses

    Dioptics Solar ShadesAs I've gotten older, I find I depend more and more on my progressive lens glasses. I once wore them only when working at my desk, but because I regularly use my iPhone — with its itsy, bitsy print — indoors and out, I wear my glasses in the house, outside of the house, in the car and even at the park.

    Indoors, I'm okay. Outdoors, it's far too bright for my eyes, so I need sunglasses. My progressive lens glasses, though, aren't tinted. Which is why I was delighted to have the opportunity to try out Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses. They promised to be stylish shades that can be worn directly over my progressive lens glasses.

    Now, I've tried wearing sunglasses over regular glasses in the past — and not only looked like an idiot while doing it, but they didn't stay on well and made it more difficult to see, not less.

    Solar Shield ShadesI chose to review the Shades by Solar Shield model from Dioptics Fits Over Sunglass collection. (They also offer clip-on shades.) The Solar Shield shades claims included:

    • Designed to fit over eyeglasses
    • Lightweight nylon frame
    • Polarized lenses reduce glare
    • Lenses block 100% UV rays
    • Sleek, fashionable frame shapes

    My Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses came just before I left to visit my grandsons. It was perfect timing, considering the amount of time I spent outside with my grandsons.

    While outside with my ever-active grandsons, I took a lot of photos — with a camera that requires me to see the small print on the dials and such. Plus, I needed to be able to read any texts on my iPhone that came from my daughter checking in on us while we were out and about.

    Using my camera and phone in the bright desert sunshine is usually a silly juggling act, swapping shades with progressive lenses and back and forth again and again. This time while visiting my grandsons, though, there was no juggling required, no matter the hundreds of photos I took of them outdoors during my week with them.

    The Shades fit perfectly and comfortably over my progressive lens glasses. There was no funky coloring as I looked through them, unlike some other sunglasses I've worn in the past that make everything orange or green. They provided just the perfect amount of shade that kept me from squinting... yet allowed me to read the dials on my camera, ensure my photos were coming out okay, read texts that came from my daughter, see the little bugs and such my grandsons pointed out on our walks (not to mention, be able to see where to open the darn fruit snacks packages they were treated to now and again while at the park).

    The only thing I found funky about the lenses was the way my iPhone screen appeared when looking at it through the glasses. It's hard to explain, but there was a bit of an iridescence to the screen, surely related to the polarized lenses. Not a big deal, as the funkiness went away if I held my phone in a bit of an awkward position. Time on the phone while outdoors was short, so the polarization was more important than an easily viewed smartphone, for sure.

    One thing I worried about with wearing glasses large enough to fit over prescription glasses was that they'd be unwieldy as well as unfashionable. My daughter — one of the more fashion conscious of our family — let me know right away that the glasses were quite fashionable, in fact, and looked great.

    I always appreciate being fashionable. More important to me, though, is being economical. The Dioptics shades, at around $25, are far less expensive than tinted prescription glasses. They're easy to find, too, available at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and other major retailers. They also can be purchased online at

    Disclosure: I received a free sample of Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses via Vibrant Nation's Vibrant Influencer Network. I was compensated for this post; opinions and anecdotes are my own.


    Never too old for dinosaurs: Three new dino discs from BBC


    The fascination with dinosaurs never fades, as evidenced by the recent re-release of the fantastic-yet-fictional Jurassic Park, now in 3D.

    For those seeking equally fantastic yet factual information and more on all things dinosaur, come three new DVDs from BBC Home Entertainment on the amazing creatures, sure to captivate the hearts and minds of dinosaur lovers.

    Extreme DinosaursExtreme Dinosaurs (single disc, 100 minutes, $19.92 MSRP) includes two features that challenge long-held beliefs about Tyrannosaurus rex. The first, Extreme Dinosaurs narrated by Paul Brightwell, provides tremendous information and evidence to show that the six-ton Argentinosuarus just may be a more fierce predator than the T-Rex.The second, T-Rex: Warrior or Wimp? narrated by Jack Fortune, further challenges the idea that the T-Rex was the most fearsome dinosaur of all. Both features include numerous interviews with paleontologists, dinosaur hunters, and experts of all degrees. There's a fair amount of time spent on Pete Larson, who found "Sue", the most complete T-Rex fossil, which was then confiscated by the FBI.

    Predator DinosaursPredator Dinosaurs (single disc, 100 minutes, $19.92 MSRP) was my favorite disc of the trio. In this one, Bill Oddie presents facts on the most brutal dinosaurs of all (think T-Rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Anklysaurus) in a fascinating and fun manner, with many humorous asides. Techniques used to provide a more in-depth and interesting look at the dinosaurs include CGI, biomechanics, high-tech scans and more. A fun demonstration in which men reenact a possible tussle between a T-Rex and a Triceratops was one of the highlights for me. Well, that an a lengthy discourse on how an ostrich is seemingly a long-lost relative of the T-Rex.

    Prehistoric ParkPrehistoric Park (2-disc set, 288 minutes, $19.92 MSRP) is the most dramatic of the features, closely resembling Jurassic Park. The gist of it is that Nigel Marven, a zoologist and wildlife expert, travels 65 million years back in time to collect dinosaurs to populate his dinosaur park. It's a race against time, as he needs to nab at least one of each species before dinosaurs are rendered extinct thanks to a meteor hitting earth. Marven seemed much like a dinosaur-hunting version of Steve Irwin's crocodile hunter, and the CGI creatures he'd come across and curate made for a fun safari of sorts.

    What I loved about the trio of features: While Extreme Dinosaurs was jam-packed with interesting tales primarily of those who dig for and research dinosaurs, the CGI, re-enactments, and sometimes cheeky humor (deliberate or not) of the second two made them fun viewing even for folks who may not be diehard dinosaur lovers. As is the case with all things presented by BBC Home Entertainment, the graphics, photography, research and more that go into all three of the features is beyond compare.

    What I didn't love so much: Because dinosaurs hold such appeal for youngsters, I thought the features would be more accessible to young kids. The extensive research and interviewing, though, rendered these DVDs more likely to appeal to kids over, say, the age of 10, I think. That said, the first might be too dry and factual for all but adults.

    Extreme Dinosaurs, Predator Dinosaurs, and Prehistoric Park were released by BBC Home Entertainment March 12, 2013, and available for purchase on the BBC website.

    Disclosure: I received copies of the DVDs free for review. All opinions are my own.


    Blogglebeans: Get your code for free grandchild connections

    Not long ago, I shared with you all about, a place where kids and their grandparents can play and share online. Feel free to refresh your memory — or learn about Blogglebeans for the very first time — by reading my Stay connected with Blogglebeans post.

    Blogglebeans is now offering Grandma's Briefs readers unlimited FREE grandchild connections* until May 4, 2013, using the exclusive code UKIDSGB.

    The free membership includes:

    • One grandparent account
    • One free grandchild connection  
    • Access to a variety of gifts, games and activities to share
    • A calendar system parents can use to keep you updated on your grandchild’s activities
    • One-to-one messaging

    Now, you can use this discount to add additional grandchild connections for free (a $9.99 value). Offer good only until May 4, 2013.

    Once you join, enter offer code UKIDSGB at the checkout to receive your free child connections. This offer is good for multiple uses – but, again, only until May 4, 2013!

    Plus, Blogglebeans users can now connect on-the-go with Blogglebeans' new App. Members can download the Blogglebeans app for free from the App StoreSM and access Blogglebeans via iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® – making it easy for grandparents and grandchildren to play and share anytime, anywhere.

    *Membership is free and comes with 1 child connection. Grandma’s Briefs offer includes 100 percent off additional grandchild fees in the Blogglebeans experience. Not valid with any other offer. No cash value. Offer ends 5/4/13.

    Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post. I am publishing this information merely as a service to my readers.


    How to introduce your partner to your grandchildren

    —This is a sponsored post, with content provided by 

    Who says romance is just a young person’s game? Discovering love later in life is a wonderful and exciting experience, whether you met through or through a hobby — but how will your relatives respond?

    Introducing a new partner to your children and grandchildren requires tact, sensitivity and patience. But at the end of the day, remember that the people closest to you should be supportive of your newfound happiness.

    So, if you’re planning on bringing your partner home to meet the grandkids, here are some tips on how to make the process as smooth and comfortable as possible.

    Be sensitive
    It’s important to realise that your grandchildren may be upset or confused to know that you have a new partner. This is especially common for younger children, or for those who remember the presence of a previous partner.

    For adult children it’s important to realise that a lot of their reluctance will stem from feeling protective. They may perceive a new partner as competition for your time, or worry the new person is trying to assume the role of their much-loved former grandparent.

    These are all common concerns — so be sensitive and give the process plenty of time.

    Make it fun

    First impressions do count, so make sure your first introduction is a memorable one, for all the right reasons.

    Try and think of a fun and enjoyable activity that provides plenty of opportunity for your grandkids to interact with your partner. Try and plan a day out where they can get to know each other and experience the best bits of each other’s personalities.

    Is it serious?

    Bringing a new partner home can be a confusing and potentially disruptive experience for your grandchildren. For this reason it’s important that you make sure your new relationship is serious and committed before introducing them. For older grandchildren this will help to avoid any confusion and upset, while for younger children it will prevent any feelings of detachment and later loss. - anissat

    Are they the right person?

    New romance is exciting and that heart-racing sensation can make you feel like a real teenager again. But just because a new partner is working wonders for your self-esteem, it doesn’t mean they are a right for your grandkids.

    It’s important to make sure your partner is the kind of person you want to introduce into your grandchildren’s lives. Do they have any bad habits? Are they a good influence or role model to have around?

    If you can’t confidently answer these questions, then perhaps they aren’t truly the right person for you. Remember that just because you’re searching for love later in life, it doesn’t mean you should settle for second best.

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. All content was provided, and I was compensated for publishing it.


    Speedeebee and Spot it Jr.! Animals: Two super fun, super quick family games

    My family and friends are big on playing games together. As a kid, playing games as a family just wasn't in the cards. As a mother and grandmother, though, I regularly seek out new games we can enjoy together.

    Two new ones recently came my way for review, courtesy of Blue Orange Games.

    speedeebee gameThe first is Speedeebee, a fast-paced word game for 2-6 players, ages 8 and up.

    When the game I received free for review first arrived at my door, I shared with my husband during dinner that two new games had been delivered. Once we were through eating, I pulled out the games to show him — and Speedeebee looked like so much fun, we decided to try a quick game right then and there, before even clearing the table.

    Quick is the operative word — as in we quickly decided we loved the game and it would be one of the games played with two of our daughters and their boyfriends after Easter dinner .

    The game comes in a round tin and has 150 word challenges on 50 game cards. One or more of the four included dice are rolled in accordance with the card play, for challenges such as, "Name something shorter than one inch, starting with one of these letters (throw all 4 dice)" and "Name something that smells bad (to you), containing this letter (throw the die of your choice)."

    Even with just two of us playing, the word play was fun... and fast. We decided to go through the entire stack of cards instead of just 20, as recommended in the illustrated rules for play. Still, the game was completed in about 20 minutes. (For the record, I won!).

    Here's a look at the game play, courtesy Blue Orange Games:


    Speedeebee has won a variety of toy industry awards and recognitions, including The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. The game can be found where games are sold, online and off, with a suggested price of $14.99.

    Speedeebee is the game recently offered for review by the Blue Orange Games representative. When I told her I'd be happy to try it out, she took a look at my blog and — because Speedeebee is made for ages far above the age of my grandsons — she graciously offered a second game to go along, one more appropriate for my grandsons.

    spot it gameThe game she sent along was Spot it Jr.! Animals. This one is similar to Speedeebee in that it comes in a tin and features round playing cards. It's intended for 2-6 players, ages 4 to adult. According to the Blue Orange website, the skills tweaked for kids playing include visual perception, reaction time and focus.

    I look forward to sharing it with my grandsons when I visit in a couple weeks, but my husband and I couldn't resist playing it, once we opened the tin. Spot it Jr.! Animals may be primarily a kid game, but I must admit that my husband and I both got quite the brain workout as we tried to beat one another in matching the animals on our cards to the card in play. (Okay, I admit it: My husband won this one.)

    Take a look:

    Spot it Jr.! Animals has won awards, too, including being named a "Dr. Toy 10 Best Games." The game has a suggested price of $9.99 and can be found most places games are sold.

    Considering the fun they provide as well as their small size (making them perfect to tuck into Easter baskets!), both Speedeebee and Spot it Jr.! Animals would make super gifts for spring-time holidays,  school graduations... or just for the sheer fun of it.

    For more information on both games, as well as plenty of other fun-looking family game options, visit Blue Orange Games.

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


    Chicken Soup for the Soul honors Billy Graham, and you can win a copy

    Billy Graham and Me 

    Regardless of one's spiritual beliefs, political leanings or age, it's hard to deny the impressive influence and appeal of Billy Graham, world-renowned author, preacher and evangelist. Presidents past and present have requested his prayers and presence during times of crisis. Celebrities as well as the not-so-celebrated find comfort in his humble message and unpretentious manner.

    At a time when cultural heroes, athletes, politicians — even Elmo — continually let us down, Billy Graham continues to lift us up and serves as a true American icon.

    The publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series appreciate the unprecedented impact Billy Graham has had on people of all faiths, races, genders, age and politics. For the first time in the brand's twenty-year history, it has published a Chicken Soup for the Soul book focusing on one individual — Billy Graham.

    Billy Graham & Me: 101 Inspiring Personal Stories from Presidents, Pastors, Performers, and Other People Who Know Him Well, edited by Steve Posner and Amy Newmark, celebrates and honors the calm yet courageous man known as "God's Ambassador." The sheer diversity of the contributors attests to the wide appeal of the man who regularly preaches to others to not be judgmental and to model love.

    As Steve Posner mentions in the book's introduction, "The personal stories in this book show us why so many individuals from differing faiths, nationalities, and political beliefs regard Billy Graham as a touchstone of goodness." Posner points out that although there have been numerous books and articles written on Billy Graham since he was first catapulted to fame in 1949, the stories in this collection "give us an inside glimpse of the ways in which the everyday Billy Graham has lived as a loving father, brother, grandfather, uncle, mentor, pastor, statesman, and friend."

    Contributors to Billy Graham & Me include Tony Blair, Dan Rather, Barack Obama, Wynonna Judd, Ricky Skaggs, Philip Yancy, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Roseanne Cash and many, many more (101 total, in fact). Plus, there are more than 40 historic photos of Billy Graham with family and friends — including Ronald Reagan, Charlie Daniels, Pope John Paul II and hip-hop artist tobyMac — and an evocative afterward by Billy Graham.

    What I loved about the book: Billy Graham seems to have always been a part of our culture as long as I remember, yet I was never incredibly familiar with his extensive work and influence across the globe, in large ways and small. I was touched by the deeply personal accounts and recollections of Graham shared by the public figures who have had the privilege of meeting him, working with him, or just plain counting on his message to give them strength during tough times. 

    Plus, the photo section made me think of my father. Not in the figurative sense, the father with a capital F, but my father, my dad, whom I've always thought looked strikingly similar to Billy Graham, especially in both their younger years. Even more so, one of my uncles — who, interestingly enough, was once a pastor — looks even more like Billy Graham, back in the day as well as now.

    Mostly, though, I loved the way the stories moved me and made it clear there really are American heroes who surely won't fall from their pedestals. At a time when I've been questioning many so-called heroes of our culture, the words about and from Billy Graham came through for me in unexpected ways.

    Billy Graham & Me: 101 Inspiring Personal Stories from Presidents, Pastors, Performers, and Other People Who Know Him Well, published February 2013, has a suggested price of $24.95 (hardcover) and can be found nearly any place books are sold, in hardcover and electronic versions.


    The publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have graciously offered to give two random winners a hardcover copy of Billy Graham & Me: 101 Inspiring Personal Stories from Presidents, Pastors, Performers, and Other People Who Know Him Well. Giveaway entries accepted via Rafflecopter (below), through midnight MST April 3. The two winners will be drawn April 4 and contacted by email for shipping information.

    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.