It’s Back to School Time Already

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If you walk into a store and see parents and kids running around with paper in their hand, you can pretty much guarantee that it is Back to School time once again.  As a teacher and a mother, I know how overwhelming  and EXPENSIVE this time can be.  I have had to buy my own share of binders, graphing paper, calculators, etc…  Buying supplies is only the tip of the iceberg really.  You gotta find time and money to buy school clothes, shoes, and accessories.

I am not here to talk about those things though; I am here to talk about school lunches! When I was a kid, I never brought my lunch to school.  My parents expected me to eat the food that the school served and not to complain.  I survived off of school lunches!  I even eat them from time to time as a teacher.

 When I became a parent, I jumped on the bandwagon to feed my kids a wholesome lunch that only I could provide.  So began the tedious task of prepping school lunches each evening or morning if I was running behind.  I wanted to offer them a variety of things.  I figured if I kept it exciting, they would be less likely to trade the items out.   Their lunches consisted of a variety of easy to eat colorful foods cut into fun shapes.  This was even before the time of Bento.  I made sure it contained the following:

Protein/Starch

Peanut butter or turkey sandwich;  Hummus and crackers

Veggie

Celery, Carrots

Fruit

Grapes, Strawberries, Apple slices

Dessert/Snack

Yogurt, energy bars

Water

Do you need some new ideas?  I have scoured the Internet to find some new ideas for you…….. even for the pickiest of eaters!

50 Back to School Lunch Ideas (food.com)

Back to School Made Easy (foodnetwork.com)

21 Back to School Lunches Kids Will Love (realsimple.com)

Healthy School Lunches and Snacks (parents.com)

School Lunch Recipes (allrecipes.com)

20 Easy Bento Lunches (parenting.com)

Do you have any great lunch ideas?  Have you had any lunchbox “fails” that you want to share?  What about lunch box “wins”?

Who wants to win 1 $100 Amazon gift card?  I have teamed up with some awesome bloggers 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.  Click on the Enter Here below to enter.

ENTER HERE

Be sure to check out their posts on Back to School

Zoom-Zoom in the 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

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We are a Mazda family, and this week we reviewed the 2016 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring .   This sporty and sleek  subcompact crossover is engineered with SKYACTIV® TECHNOLOGY3   which basically means that it provides excellent fuel efficiency without compromising performance.  As we expected, we were very pleased with the driving experience the Mazda CX-3 provided us.  A company that promotes the motto “Driving Matters,” we know that they care about the experience with the details they provide in their automobiles.

The CX-3 is a 5 passenger subcompact crossover.  With four doors and a rear hatch, the Mazda CX-3 has plenty interior room.  The leather and suede seats are quite  stylish and comfortable.  The front seats are fully adjustable allowing you to move forward, recline, or lower or higher.  With the 60/40 split fold-down rear seat back, there is plenty of room for packages and even tailgating!

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With 35 HW MPG and a sport mode, the handling of this subcompact crossover provides a smooth and quiet ride that allows the driver to control the extras while driving.  With an easy to read dash with a variety of high-tech tools, you can do many things just from my steering wheel such as answer and make phone calls, lower or raise the volume, and even change the radio stations.  My favorite feature is the voice command that allows me to call my family as we are out and about.

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As a current Mazda owner, the Mazda CX-3 has a great navigation system with a seven-inch full color touchscreen display.  Mazda’s touchscreen’s are easy to read and feature many cool options.  One of my favorite features is the speed limit indicator that is designed to inform drivers  on what the speed limit is on each road.   It even changes as your speed exceeds the limit.   Plus, there is nothing like the Mazda Navigation system.  I have been using my iPhone to navigate from place to place.  Having the directions clear and easy to see on the touchscreen screen will make getting from place to place so much easier!   It will also alert us to  nearby places of interest.

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 The HUD (Heads-Up Display) or Active Driving Display (noted in the picture below) is located above the dash of the driver.  It is a reflective screen that can be moved to adjust to the driver’s height.  The screen provides the driver with a digital view of the car’s current speed.  The numbers are easy to read and do not interfere at all with the driver’s view of the road.  This allows you to focus on driving and not worrying about looking at your dash to determine your speed!

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If you have been following me for any length of time, you will know that one of my favorite features to highlight in a car is the stereo system.  Mazda’s come equipped with a Bose Surround Sound system.  With seven speakers,  this music lover knows firsthand what great sound quality is and the Bose sound system is where it is at!   We even went to a drive in and got to experience the surround sound system as we watched The Secret Life of Pets.  It was AMAZING!    Of course, we also took advantage of  syncing our iPhones to the vehicle and so we could enjoy everything that we have downloaded.  And I can’t fail to mention the Sirius XM system in the CX-3.  You have a variety of entertainment and genre choices with this.  Our dials pretty much stayed on 25 and 26.

As if it could not get any better, it does!  The rear camera feature is really superior to any I have tried before. The image and resolution are crystal clear and proved to be quite useful when traveling through the various terrains in our area.

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  The LED headlights are absolutely incredible! The winding mountain roads are DARK and hard to navigate through.  Having a vehicle that properly illuminates the road is a necessity.  With an adaptive front lighting system, I had no trouble seeing the roads at night!  The lights in the vehicle turn with you as you turn through corners and curves allowing you to visually see what lies before you.  This is such a great feature to have especially when you live where we do.  It helps aid in spotting lurking animals, and it helps you see the winding roads ahead of you.

The 2016 Mazda CX-3 is available in Sport, Touring and Grand Touring.

One last thing I would love to say about this company before I close out this blog post and we get ready to hit the road.  Mazda cares about others.  Each time I have been given the wonderful opportunity to test drive one of their cars, I am given a $25 gift card to give to a charity of my choice from Mazda.  Now I do not know about you but I love a company that supports giving back!  It makes me happy to know that the Mazda 6 we invested in is from a company that knows the importance of giving back.

Overall, the Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring is a great sporty subcompact crossover that drives extremely well.  It has strong a performance and great fuel economy!   If you are looking for a sporty vehicle that has some zoom-zoom, you gotta check out the Mazda CX-3!  It is a great value for the money!

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Social Media Connections

Mazda Website

Mazda Facebook

Mazda Twitter

Mazda You Tube

Mazda Instagram

Beat the heat this summer with family favorites at the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival

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Celebrating family fare while creating memories to last a lifetime, the Fox Theatre continues to thrill audiences of all ages with movies for the youngsters and the young at heart as part of the 2016 Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival.

From ogres and dinosaurs to singing mermaids, the festival offers a full range of flicks sure to please even the toughest budding critic. Cinematic favorites will be presented on an impressive 26-foot high x 56-foot-8-inch wide big screen, and under the starry canopy of  Fox Theatre’s distinct blue sky with twinkling stars and fluffy clouds. For select showings, Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival offers guests a magical pre-show experience that includes a sing-a-long with a vintage cartoon and the world renowned Mighty Mo organ.

For guests of the Saturday, August 27 showing of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Sing-a-Long, best princess and prince attire is requested, as a Mermaid Princess will be on hand for complimentary photos guaranteeing free family fun.

 

2016 Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival Schedule*

*All showings are at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted

 

Thursday, July 21                             Shrek, 15th anniversary

Thursday, August 18                       Jurassic Park

Saturday, August 20 @ 10 a.m.    Saturday Morning Cartoons

Saturday, August 20                        Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (’71), 45th anniversary

Saturday, August 27 @ 2 p.m.      Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Sing-a-Long

General Movie Ticket Pricing

Discounted movie tickets are available at the Fox Theatre Ticket Office, online at www.foxtheatre.org or by calling 855-285-8499. All tickets will be $10. Tickets purchased day of the show will be $12. Additional fees may apply.

Specialty Movie Ticket Pricing

“Disney’s The Little Mermaid” (Sing-along) is Reserved Seating only.  Tickets are $15.00 in advance or $20.00 on the day of show. Additional fees may apply.

Movie Tours and Parking Pricing

Tours must be purchased with a movie ticket, and are not sold separately. Prices are $35.00 for the movie ticket and tour ticket combined plus any processing fees at point of sale. Special $5 parking will be offered in select Lanier lots around the Fox Theatre, while spaces are available. For additional information on the movies or parking, please visit www.foxtheatre.org.

Note on Movie Tours: Space is limited; 20 people per individual tour. Movie Tours are not recommended for children under 7 due to the travel and tight locations.  Children 2 and under are not permitted.  Everyone must have a ticket. A few of the locations on the tour route are not ADA accessible and there are many stairs involved.

For more information, visit www.foxtheatre.org.

 

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is coming to the big screen October 7!

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Take it back to the schoolyard with CBS Films’ MIDDLE SCHOOL: THE WORST YEARS OF MY LIFE. Based on the bestselling book series from author James Patterson, the upcoming comedy starring Griffin Gluck, Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle, Thomas Barbusca, Isabela Moner, Andy Daly and Adam Pally opens in theaters October 7th!

Rafe has an epic imagination…and a slight problem with authority. Both collide when he transfers to an oppressive, rule-crazy middle school. Drowning in do’s and don’ts, Rafe and his scheming best friend Leo hatch a plan to break every rule in the school’s Code of Conduct. It’s Ferris Bueller meets Home Alone as their battle with Principal Dwight explodes into chaos both real and imagined. But Dwight displays his own fiendish creativity, striking back at the rulebreakers. Meanwhile, Rafe struggles to hide his misbehavior from Jeanne, the straight-A, overachieving girl of his dreams, and at home, his mother’s boyfriend — a moochy, jack-of-no-trades named Bear — threatens to become his stepfather.

 

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Cast: Griffin Gluck, Lauren Graham, Rob Riggle, Thomas Barbusca, Andy Daly & Adam Pally
Directed by: Steve Carr (Paul Blart: Mall Cop)
Produced by: Leopoldo Gout and Bill Robinson of James Patterson Entertainment.
Screenplay by: Chris Bowman & Hubbel Palmer and Kara Holden.
Based on the book by: James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts.
Executive Producers: James Patterson and Steve Bowen of James Patterson Entertainment. Jeff Skoll and Robert Kessel of Participant Media. Susan Cartsonis and Michael Flynn also serve as executive producers.

Middle School:  The Worst Years of My Life Social Media Connections 

Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

The Life We Never Expected

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Life seems to have a mind of its own.  As a child, I remember having my idea of what I wanted in life.  I had envisioned myself having this and that and living in this particular place.  It is funny how we  dream like that.  When we get older though we realize that life is not as easy as just dreaming as a child.  I am married and have a beautiful fmaily, but life has never always been easy as I had pictured it to be.  We have had our fair share of problems, but at least we are all healthy.  I do have a son with ADHD and anxiety, and that has been challenging to say the least.  There have been many days where I wondered to myself if I am doing this parenting thing right.

Recently I read the book The Life We Never Expected.  I could not help think about my life and how I take it granted.  You see, The Life We Never Expected is a story  told by Andrew and Rachel Wilson about their life raising two children with autism.  They help readers to see that through their lives which at time can be filled with heartache, their support in found in our beautiful Heavenly Father.  He is the one that guides you through this thing we call life.  He is the one that helps you navigate through the waters esp through the storms crashing waves.

As a teacher, I have taught students with special needs.  I know how hard it is for parents as I have had countless conferences where the tears fall freely.  I hear their frustration. While I may not live it day to day as they do, I do feel for them.  As a teacher o f special education students,  there are days that can be hard.  However, not all days are.  But in those moments when the child is having a hard day coping and adjusting to whatever it is we are doing in the classroom, I look to the ultimate Healer.  I look to Him to help me connect with them.  I look to Him to give me the patience and the wisdom to do what is best.

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Are you living the life you expected? I am guessing the answer is probably no.  As you go through this life grappling with hard and painful circumstances that have turned your world upside down, check out  Andrew and Rachel Wilson’s refreshingly honest book that explores the highs and lows of raising children with specials needs.   This book will get you reflecting on the broader question of how to cope with suffering of all kinds.  Through the sharing personal stories from the Wilson’s lives, you will find encouragement rooted in the truth of God’s Word,  Andrew and Rachel highlight lessons they’ve learned related to fighting for joy and thriving in the midst of trials—ultimately pointing readers to Christ, the One who promises to make all things new.

You can purchase the book here on Amazon.

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My Sweet ‘n Southern Dessert — Georgia Peach Cheesecake

 

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I am looking forward to attending Blog Life University’s conference when it comes to Atlanta later this July.  There are so many great bloggers speaking that I know I am going to walk away with a burning passion to blog even more!

One thing is for sure, I can’t help but participate in the Sweet ‘n Southern Desserts Recipe Contest!   Dixie Crystals is sponsoring the ultimate Blog Life Conference contest.  All you have to do is create a unique recipe around this year’s theme of Sweet and Southern Desserts….the only rule is to use at least 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Don’t delay because this contest ends at midnight 7/10/16.  All winners will be secretly notified by 7/19/16 so don’t wait to get your conference ticket.  The official Grand Prize winner will be announced during the Dixie Crystal’s Sweet Spa Reception Friday night.

CLICK HERE for the contest rules.

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So, as I was thinking what on earth could I make?  Then it dawned on me that I needed to do something with what Georgia and Atlanta are known for-PEACHES!  After all, the Blog Life University conference is being held in Atlanta, the home to hundreds of peach related streets, businesses, etc…  Now that I had the fruit and the Dixie Crystals sugar as two ingredients, I had to think, think, think, think…..

One of my favorite desserts to make it a cheesecake.  So why not make a peach cheesecake.   Seems fitting to the occasion in my opinion!

Georgia Peach Cheesecake

Ingredients

1 package of cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup of sour cream

2 teaspoons of Peach whiskey OR vanilla extract, not both

1/2 cup of Dixie Crystals sugar

1/4 cup of brown sugar

2 large or 3 medium firm Georgia peaches, cleaned, pitted, and sliced into wedges (freeze until use and also save scraps to mix with ingredients)

Crust of choice (graham cracker or flaky)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add all ingredients except peach scraps to a mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Then add in the scraps of peaches if you choose to do so.

This allows for bits of peaches to be in mixture.

Pour into crust of choice.

Place a pie pan of water on the bottom rack of oven to prevent cracking of the cheesecake.

Bake at 350 for one hour.

Let it cool completely and decorate with the peach wedges.

Cut, serve, and enjoy!

Serving size:  6 to 8

Sizzling summer programming to heat up Aurora Theatre this July

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Sun’s out, fun’s out! Aurora Theatre is kicking summertime into gear with its sun-sational July programming! Theatre goers of all ages are invited to explore the many offerings of Georgia’s second largest theater including the annual City of Lawrenceville Prelude to the Fourth featuring Aurora’s production of The Little Mermaid and the ATL Comedy Arts Fest semifinals and grand finale competitions, in addition to the opening of the 2016-17 Peach State Federal Credit Union Signature Series with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit sensation In the Heights! With this much fun in store, this is sure to be a summer to remember!

Special Summer Programming

Prelude to the Fourth: Disney’s The Little Mermaid
Sunday, July 3; 7 p.m.
Celebrate Independence Day with City of Lawrenceville‘s annual Prelude to the Fourth featuring Aurora’s production of the Disney family favorite The Little Mermaid, as well as a dazzling display of fireworks immediately following the show! Enjoy a variety of cuisine options from food trucks, as well as libations from McCray’s Tavern (on tap for purchase for those 21 and up). Admission to the show is FREE with seating on the Lawrenceville Lawn beginning at 5 p.m. For families wishing to pack their own dinner and snacks, outside food and drinks are permitted. VIP tables are available for parties of six for $100.

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ATL Comedy Arts Fest: Semifinal Competition and Grand Finale Presentation
July 22-23; 7:15 and 9:15 p.m. (semifinals)
July 24; 8 p.m. (grand finale)

Comedy lovers are invited to join Aurora in its first-class Studio for the semifinal round of the citywide, multi-venue stand-up ATL Comedy Arts Festival and Symposium featuring the top comedians in the region, as well as up-and-coming comics! The festival will culminate with eight half-hour TV episodes and two one-hour-long specials being filmed at Aurora Theatre and one other venue! Tickets are $18 for the semifinals and $20 for the grand finale, and festival passes will be accepted. For more information, visit bit.ly/atlcomedytix.

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La Esquinita, USA
July 28-31; Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Acclaimed actor, filmmaker and solo artist Ruben C. Gonzalez will bring his fascinating one-man show to Aurora Theatre for a limited one-week engagement, July 28-31! The new theatrical work will bring the story of the once booming fictional town of La Esquinita in disarray when the Thompson Tire Factory moves to China, leaving the residents scavenging for what little remains. Narrated by Lencho and experienced through the eyes of Daniel, a young man standing at the threshold between light and darkness, audiences will be captivated by this tale of love, forgiveness and ultimate redemption. Tickets range from $20-$30.

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Henry Cho on the Mainstage
July 31; 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.
Wrapping up the month with his witty, yet clean comedy is Aurora Comedy Nights alum and audience favorite Henry Cho! For one night only, Cho will dish out his unmistakable blend of Asian and Southern humor for Atlanta patrons, as he takes the comedy stage by storm with his versatile stand-up routine. Tickets are $18.

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Summer Comedy Nights

Headliner Brad Tassell featuring David Perdue and Joe Pettis
July 8-9; 7:15 and 9 p.m.
Kicking off the 2016-17 Aurora Comedy Nights season, club comedy on the square will bring full-time funny guy, author, speaker and educator Brad Tassell to the forefront of the favorite Aurora tradition! With seven books, major publications, a new television show set to debut this fall and a feature film under his belt, Tassell is a funny force to be reckoned with this season! Along with featured comedians David Perdue and Joe Pettis, Aurora will set the stage for a weekend of laughter and good times to be had by all! Tickets are $18.

Continuing Summer Events

Aurora Theatre Academy Summer Camps

Camp Aurora
July 11–15, 9:30 a.m. –12:30 p.m. (Mini)
July 11–15, 1 p.m. –4 p.m. (Master)

For younger students interested in learning what it takes to put on an actual performance, Camp Aurora is a weeklong session giving students the opportunity to have valuable stage experience, all the while encouraging teamwork and collaboration with peers. These half-day sessions will allow students to become hands-on and create portions of the sets, costumes and props! Tuition is $200 per morning or afternoon session.

Acting Edge Camp
July 11-22; 10:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. (grades 6-12)
Atlanta’s favorite improv group will bring back belly laughter to Aurora Theatre with its one-of-a-kind interactive performances this summer for middle and high school students! Tickets are $10.

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2016-17 Season Opener: In the Heights
Thursday, July 21- Sunday, August 28; various times

Atlanta audiences are invited to sway along to the salsa rhythms and rich melodies of New York’s vibrant Washington Heights community, a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the pulse of three generations of music through the Manhattan streets. Written by Hamilton creator and pop culture icon Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony Award and Grammy Award-winning In the Heights will open Aurora Theatre’s 2016-17 Peach State Federal Credit Union Signature Series! This universal tale, a co-production with Theatrical Outfit, will deliver a poignant message on the power of family and the strength of community in the face of adversity.

Lawrenceville Ghost Tours
Friday and Saturday throughout July; 8:30 p.m.
Looking for a spine chilling scare this summer? Enjoy a ghostly stroll through downtown Lawrenceville with real stories about really spooky places. Tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for children. For more information, visit scarystroll.com.

For more information on Aurora Theatre programming or to purchase tickets for events, visit www.auroratheatre.com or call the Box Office at 678.226.6222.