Hillsong..Let hope Rise & Great DVD Giveaway (FREE STUFF!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

   We were the only Jews on our block when I was growing up.   Luckily, our neighbors were open-minded and although many of them had never really known Jews before, it did not matter to them. They became life-long friends. Religion, although important to all of us, did not play into being neighbors and friends during both good and bad times.

   Our neighbor, a nice man from Minnesota, made us a menorah out of wood in his workshop. Our neighbors did not leave us out when they were delivering Christmas cookies or caroling.  We reciprocated with Potato Latkes and dreidel lessons.

   As young girls, my sister and I  could not understand why Santa could not come to our house like he did to all of our neighbors'.  So we hung up stockings and left cookies and he did visit. We got to double dip! 8 Crazy nights of Hanukkah presents and Christmas Presents. Doubly blessed!

   What Christmas means to me if different from what it may mean to others. I love Christmas Trees and Santa and make sure to donate to both Christmas and Hanukkah based Charity events during the season. I don't get insulted if you send me a Christmas Card or wish me Merry Christmas even if I'll be eating Bagels at my mom's annual brunch held on Christmas Day.

   My point is that just because we may believe in different things, most of us believe in the same things...take care of one another, be kind, keep the faith and peace on earth.

    Hillsong-Let Hope Rise  & Great are great films that are coming out on DVD. They are coming out on December 20th and will make great gifts! Hillsong Media has given me copies of these movies on DVD. If you are interested in winning a copy, leave a comment below (tell your friends).  I'll pick a winner by random drawing!

   Here are links to the trailers...

Greater Trailer

Hillsong Trailer


The good thing about a hurricane heading your way...

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

     Hurrican Matthew is a big, bad storming heading towards my home state.  Hurricanes suck and blow. (Pun intended). They make everyone in town insane.

     Television news makes everything worse. This morning, during the on air hysteria, the reporter actually interviewed a person who got the "THE LAST FLASHLIGHT AT HOME DEPOT". I have plenty of flashlights around here, yet this report made me feel like I needed to go out and try to find more. They then showed lines at gas stations and empty water shelves at the supermarkets in an effort to make everyone more insane. They stated that tons of flights are being canceled but later mentioned that they were only flights to Haiti, The Bahamas and Cuba where the Hurricane was striking.

      Luckily, I was able to procure gas and water the day before the hysteria (Chalk one up to being a life long Floridian) but I did have to go to Publix to  get some extra provisions this morning including Pop Tarts and pretzels. Lord help us all if a true life emergency ever hits here because Publix was like a war-torn country. Everyone was  driving their shopping carts like true a-holes. No manners whatsoever. So much for humanity and looking out for your neighbors. I literally witnessed an argument between strangers in the bread aisle and someone trying to steal water (only the really expensive stuff was left) out of someone else's cart.

    My cashier was on the verge of tears. I contemplated giving her cash tip or one of my pop-tarts. By the way, television meteorologists, supermarkets, and Home Depot LOOOOOOVE when a hurricane approaches. It is like their own personal Black Friday.

    So, do you want to know the good thing about a hurricane heading your way? Your Facebook Friends stop posting political posts and start forecasting the weather. That's something I guess.

    Currently, my house is out of the cone of destruction but we are expecting crappy weather. Go away Matthew.  Matthew McConaughey is aways invited to the Hurricane party....

The Queen of Katwe!

Friday, September 23, 2016

With all the political nonsense and horrible news on television these days, it's time to head to the movies. I just love movies that have a heartwarming and good message, so I can't wait to see Disney’s QUEEN OF KATWE  which opens nationwide on Friday,  September 30th.

The film is based on the inspiring true story of Robert Katende and Phiona Mutesi. Phiona was a young girl living in the slums of Katwe, Uganda. One day she stumbles upon Katende and a group of children playing chess in a makeshift church. Through the guidance of Katende and the game of chess, Phiona is encouraged to believe in herself. Eventually, she finds herself not only competing in local chess matches, but winning in international competitions. Robert and Phiona’s story celebrates the notion that champions can come from the most unlikely places. Here's a trailer...

I know a lot of unlikely champions. People who overcome obstacles in their lives are so inspiring. Who is your favorite unlikely champion these days?

Inspiration in the form of a movie plus paying it forward to a coach!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

  My kids detest when I write about them on the blog but let's just say someone I know just got dropped off at college. I'm so excited for him. The biggest challenge for him and for any college freshman is to balance the freedom and all the fun that comes with it with the work that needs to be done. During the drop off, I tried not to cry and tried to squeeze in some last minute words of wisdom like " Don't do drugs!" and "Don't skip School!" Seriously, my hope is that all of the years and hard work leading up to this time in his life will remind him not to give up when the going gets tough and to keep his eye on the prize.

  During  the trip to college,  my son and I were lucky enough to get to screen the new film GREATER. Greater is an inspirational movie based on the life of Brandon Burlsworth.  As a kid, Brandon only wanted to play football for the Arkansas Razorbacks. However, Brandon pretty much stunk at football and  was written off by coaches and teased by his fellow teammates.  Most people in his situation would just quit but Brandon kept showing up for practice. He woke up early every day and worked harder than anyone else. Guess what happened? He got better and better. His hard work and determination paid off,  not only was he given an opportunity to walk-on and play football – he became one of the greatest players on the field, and was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. This film could not have come into our lives at a better time. Hopefully, he will remember Brandon when faced with challenges at school and be inspired to persevere.

The producers of GREATER, have given me a $25 gift card to give away to someone who inspires children. I'm going to give it to a teacher that I know that always reaches into her own pocket to make sure that her students have what they need to be successful. If you get a chance, take the family to see Greater. In the meantime, what inspires you? I'd love to hear!

Inspirational People....(and a giveaway)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Sorry that I've been MIA from the blog but all in good around Japolinaville. I'm out of hibernation to tell you about a great TV series and a contest!!!!

BORN THIS WAY chronicles the lives of a group of young adults born with Down syndrome as they pursue their passions while defying society's expectations. The series also follows their parents who share their own journey of joy, sacrifice, and unconditional love. BORN THIS WAY premieres Season 2 next Tuesday, July 26 on A&E Network. I love the show and can't wait to watch the new season. Click here for a sneak peak

A&E has given me a $25 Target Gift card to giveaway. Just nominate an inspirational person in a comment below and the most inspiring person will get the gift card mailed to him. Easy Peasy. Just post before July 25th at midnight E.S.T. I will post on the 26th, the name of the winner.

The most recent person to inspire me is Jen Bricker. If you've never heard of her, google her. She was born in Romania with no legs and when her birth parents saw her, they abandoned her. An American family, Gerald and Sharon Bricker, adopted Jennifer and raised her in a small town in Illinois. Gerald and Sharon did not allow Jen to learn the word can't. When she wanted to become a gymnast, they said "Go for it" and she became a tumbling champ. She was obsessed with the Olympic gymnast,Dominique Moceanu and it turns out that Moceanu was her biological sister. Crazy story. Regardless, the fact that Jen never lets her lack of legs stops her really is a message that many of us need to pay attention to. If she can become a gymnast with no legs, most of us have no excuses.

Inspire me with someone who inspires you. Don't forget, giveaway ends on July 25th! Tell your friends. A $25 gift card to Target is a great prize. Thanks A & E

My day at a Japanese Spring Fair (in South Florida!)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

South Florida is not exactly at hotbed of Japanese culture except for at one spot, the Morikami Museum and Gardens in Palm Beach County. The museum is located on the land where, in 1904, a Japanese American organized a group of pioneering Japanese farmers and lead them to Boca Raton where they formed a farming colony they named Yamato, an ancient name for Japan. It was not a success and the farmers eventually went back to Japan. In 1977, a museum and gardens were opened in the same spot to celebrate Japanese culture.  It is a unique treasure for the area and if you are ever down here, you should absolutely check it out. 

This weekend, we headed to the Hatsume Fair at the Morikami. Hatsume is a once-a-year weekend festival celebrating spring. The $15 festival ticket not only granted access to the gardens but also a Japanese food street fair, art and merchandise booths and demonstrations of dancing, martial arts,and taiko drumming. 

An added bonus to the festivities was that there was a cosplay contest and I'd say about half of the people that I saw during the day there were dressed up in costumes featuring their favorite Japanese anime characters, not one of whom I recognized. (I don't know the first thing about anime). Regardless it was sort of surreal walking about the magnificent gardens following people with blue hair and horns. No, old Japolina did not dress up but I made lots of new friends who did...
These were some new friends we came across at Hatsume!

The festival was quite interesting and a great way to spend an afternoon. If you go today (or next year) here are my tips:

1. Go early, like when it opens early. We got there at 11:45 (it opened at 11) and it was very already crowded. By the time we left, the lines to get in were really, really long.

2. Take the kids. It really did not feel that we were in Florida 

3. If you are into wearing a costume, go for it

4. Bring cash. The food was expensive but trying mochi ice cream was worth it! 

5. Bring sunscreen. This is sort of a given for any SoFla adventure, however it was quite hot. Summer is here!

6. Bring a good camera. The photos on the blog today are courtesy of my son. He got some great shots and was glad that he schlepped along the good camera, rather than the usual cell phone one!

Midnight Special (the movie) Giveaway....

Monday, March 14, 2016

A cool new movie is coming out and Grace Hill media has generously offered to give one of my readers "movie money" to go see it!   The movie is called Midnight Special and no, it is not about gun violence.  (Thank goodness!)

Midnight Special is about the power of a parent’s love – How far a mother and father would go to protect their child. This movie will encourage us to reflect on the importance of family and the responsibility parents have to encourage and shield their children from society’s wrongful perception of what “normal” should look like.  Sounds amazing! As an added bonus,  Adam Driver, Hannah's ex-boyfiend on Girls is in it!

The film written and directed by Jeff Nichols stars Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, and Jaeden Lieberher. 

If you want to win movie money, leave a comment below about anything you want. Contest ends March 17th at noon and a winner will be picked by random drawing. Check back on the 18th to see if you won!

I may become a shut in...

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

    First of all, let me just disclose that this is free advertising for Amazon. They really should hire me to do PR for them because I just love them more and more as time goes on.  I've been a fan since their inception and unlike my love affair gone sour with Target and many other businesses, my love for Amazon just keeps growing and growing. If you're reading this Amazon, I'm available for hire!

   I've been paying for Amazon Prime for years. The free two day shipping was a lifesaver for me. I live in a part of the big city of Miami but the closet real book store is about 45 minutes away which is absurd.  Luckily, right about when Barnes and Noble moved out of my hood, Amazon Prime came along. My kids were always needing books for school and it really became a life saver for me.

    I order tons of stuff on Amazon now. Shoes, socks, printer ink, vitamins and shampoo are just a few of my most recent orders. It is so much easier than running around town trying to find exactly what I need and is usually less expensive than my local stores which is just crazy.

   My love for amazon became greater last year when Amazon "Prime Now" became available in my area.  This means that many items can be delivered to my house within two hours. For free. Yes, you heard that right.  Cases of bottled water, flu supplies, 25 pounds of kitty litter and a king sized duvet are just a few of the things that have shown up at my door within two hours lately.

    Today my apple mouse started to act wonky. I was in the middle of a lawyer project and the thought of heading to most germ-filled place on earth (The Apple Store in my mall) was too much for me to handle. As I rattled through closets looking for a back up, I decided to check Prime now.  They delivered a brand new Magic Mouse 2 within two hours for $3.00 less than it would have at the mall. Now that is great service.


In other news, I'm writing in Limberbutt McCubbins on my ballot on Tuesday. I think old Limberbutt is cuter than anyone else running.

Why aren't your eBay items selling???

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

    I belong to some Facebook groups of fellow Ebay sellers.   One of the things that never fails to show up on my wall is a post with someone lamenting that they have not had a sale in days.   It is very discouraging, especially for new sellers. 

     After almost 16 years of selling on the site,  I don't claim to have all of the answers but here are my top six tips for sellers who seem to be in a slump.

1.  List something every day. Do not "re-list". You can "sell similar" or sell a completely new item but list at least something every day. When you list as "sell Similar" or start a new listing, supposedly it shows up higher in the searches.  I try to list at least five new  listings or "sell similar item"  every day and it is rare that a day goes by without at least one sale. The only time that I "re-list" an item is when there are 2 or more watchers on it.  

Caution, make sure to delete the unsold listing after you "sell similar". Ebay hates when sellers have duplicate listings of the same item and I have heard stories of suspensions from the site because of this even when it is done in error.

2. The shorter the term of the listing, the better. Some seasoned sellers disagree with this. They like the "LIFI" method ("list it and forget it"). They go with "Good 'til canceled listings/GTC". Not me. I find that the more often your listing is "fresh", the more you sell. This is because some buyers filter their searches by "newly listed" or "ending soonest" choices. If your item is listed for 5 days it will show up near the top of both of those choices. If it is listed for 30 days or GTC, it will show up near the top much less. Furthermore, some potential buyers have "saved searches" and get emails when something that matches their search is listed. They don't get emails when something is re-listed unless they were "watching" that item

3. If an item has been sitting around your ebay "store" for a while, take a look at the listing.  Perhaps there are errors or a better way for you to describe it.

4. Play around with keywords. Sometimes all it takes is a change in the title of your listing. Take out the color and put in an adjective or vice versa. 

5. Look a similar solds. This is a given whenever you are selling anything but sometime overlooked. Make sure that your price is not out of line. See what other sellers did in their successful listing. As long as you do not steal another sellers photos or word-for-word description, you are free to copy away! 

6. Change the price.  Macy's and other department stores do it all of the time. Sometimes I raise it and add best offer. Sometimes I run a quick "sale" in my store. Sometimes I drop the price of an item by a nominal amount. This often seems to shake up the site a little bit and adds sales when there is a slump going on. 

Here's an example...this sweet thing was sitting in my Ebay store for months. I added best offer and it sold within two days. The buyer just left feedback that she received it and loved it! 

If you have any tips, I'd love to hear them below in the comments! Also, I plan on blogging more about Ebay so if there is any topic that you'd like me cover, let me know.

Seven Things that I wish I would have known before my son started applying to college….

Thursday, January 28, 2016

If you know a mom whose first born is a senior in high school, be especially nice to her right now. Besides the emotional roller coaster that she is going through thinking about the joy and sorrow of her first baby leaving the nest shortly, she (and the baby bird) are likely going through the hell of the college admissions process …

Here are seven things that I have learned so far that I wish I would have known before my son started applying to college.

 1. It is way more complicated than when we applied to college

I’m pretty sure that, in the Fall of 1984, when I applied to the two universities that I wanted to go to, the only parental involvement was writing two small checks for the application fees and actually getting those applications in the mail. These days every college has different application requirements and you literally need to make an excel chart to keep track of who wants what.  

Some schools accept the common application, some do not. Some colleges require essays, teacher recommendations, portfolios and interviews while others just want a transcript and copies of your SAT/ACT scores.   Some schools even want you to self-report your grades on a crazy form that seems like an admission test in itself. 

Lesson Learned:   Don't wait until the last minute. Start getting your ducks in a row during the end of the junior year. Trust me, this will make the fall of the senior year, a tiny bit less insane.

2. “College”  gives you a whole new area to nag/fight about with your child and husband

Depending on your kid and your spouse, the level of nagging and fighting about where to apply to, actually getting the essays and applications completed and where to eventually attend, this time may be the start of World War III in your home. For me, I felt like I was going to a whole new level of threatening and nagging from the second my son arrived home from his summer adventures until the last application was put to bed. 

  Luckily, we all seem to be on the same page about where he wants to go right now, but that can change at any moment. Many of my mom friends are clashing right with people who live in their houses about the college decisions. Teens don’t usually listen to parents about mundane things like what to wear so don’t expect for them to understand that the surfing program at the University of Hawaii is not quite as practical or affordable as studying computer science at Michigan State. 

Lesson Learned: Sit down with your spouse and child and have a serious pow-wow about viable choices for schools and be clear about finances, etc from the get-go. It would be disaster to have to explain to your child that he can't go to a school after he is admitted because you don't feel that it is a good choice for him. 

3. Go on college tours   

I made two huge mistakes last year and you can learn from me. First, we did not tour every place that my son was planning on applying. We figured that we would tour some of our choices after he was admitted.  In hindsight, this was not smart. We toured the first school that accepted him weeks after his acceptance and he was less than enthused. He pretty much stated that he would attend there only if he did not get in anywhere else.  Besides that being a horrible way to go into what should be the best time of his life, applying there just seems like a big waste of time and money to me now.

The second mistake was touring one of the schools on a weekend. In fact we toured at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning. The campus was lovely but looked like an abandoned office park. We got no read on the “mojo” of the school.  We toured other colleges during times when classes were in session and we were able to see what a typical day was like on campus. Just watching the students change classes or walking through the quad and seeing all the tables set up for various clubs and events really gave our son a taste of what campus life is like.

Lesson Learned: You don’t want any college that accepts your child to be a consolation prize. Every college that your child applies to should be a true possible match. 

4. There is no such thing as a sure thing/safety school

College admissions might be the most illogical thing you’ve yet to encounter as a parent, and you dealt with toddlers.   All around America, story after story are passed around at PTA meetings about students that clearly met the qualifications but did not get into their top choices.  I know some pretty amazing young adults that had perfect grades and scores yet did not get into places where they met the criteria. Things besides the resume are taken into account by admissions officers , many which are beyond your control and may never be known. 

However, there are also plenty of stories where kids got into their “reach” schools but not others that seemed more like a sure thing.   Because things are so competitive, many kids apply to 10 schools, some of my friends' kids applied to 20! Colleges love this, but for applicants, it means that the admission rates are lower than they should be. Even schools that used to be sort of easy to get into now have admissions rates lower than 50% . 

Lesson Learned: There is no such thing as a sure thing for most kids so the worst thing that you can do is let your child get focused in on one school alone. Make sure that she keeps her options open.  

5. It’s expensive, and I’m not just talking about tuition

Before you start cutting those $60,000 tuition checks, the 11th and 12th grade years will give you little hints of things to come.  Barely anyone takes the SAT or ACT just once so start adding up those test fees (around $50 a pop). SAT tutoring courses cost around $600-800 and a good private SAT tutor can run up to $100 or more per hour.  Private college counselors around here run in the $3500-6000 range and applying to colleges themselves run any where from $25 to $90 per application so times multiply that five or ten times.  Add in travel costs for visits to tour colleges and it makes those years where you complained about the cost of karate or ballet lessons seem utterly ridiculous.  

Oh yes, you should also place non-refundable housing deposits at any school that your child was accepted to as soon as you can because you want to make sure your child does not get stuck in the crappy dorm should he end up there. I guess it is like when you were pregnant and you could not sleep and it was supposed to prepare you for not sleeping once the baby came. Here you are getting used to spending all of your money on college! 

Lesson Learned: You might want to put off that big home improvement project, plastic surgery or fabulous vacation for a few years.

 6. Those competitive moms are in full crazy mode

Remember those moms in your mommy & me class who loved to brag about their three year old’s ability to play piano or read at a fifth grade level. They are back in full force during this time period and should be avoided at all costs.  They will lie to your face and claim that their child is handling all of the college application stuff on their own and stare at you blankly if you complain about having to nag your child to complete his college essays.  They will spew out a list of the top ten colleges in the country and explain that their child is certain to have a hard time choosing which one to actually attend because they are all courting their genius.

They will also look at your with distain because your child is considering a solid state school.   My non-scientific research has shown that the less intelligent the mother, the snobbier she is about where her child should go to college. Instead of figuring out what is the best match for her child not only academically but also socially, geographically and economically, she is just walking around with the US News and World Report list as her bible.

Lesson Learned:   Just avoid or ignore those crazies until you run into them at freshman orientation at that solid state school. 

7.  Rejection

Don’t be surprised if you instantly and vehemently detest any college that rejects or defers not only your child, but any our your friends’ kids.  I think that many universities are just plain stupid for not accepting some amazing children and young adults that I know.  You may find yourself saying things to your friends that you said to them 25 years ago at the dining room table at the sorority house like “it’s their loss” or “they don’t deserve such a great girl”. This time you’re not speaking about some dumb fraternity boy but about Stanford.

Lesson Learned: It's their loss. They don't deserve such a great girl (or boy)!  

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