Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Have a Brightly Summer

For most family's with school-aged children a summer break filled with fun activities has begun.  Unfortunately, one fun activity that is often neglected over the summer months is reading which often leads to kids regressing in their literary capabilities which were developed over the previous school year.  I've discovered a nice resource that supports parents in helping their children avoid the "summer slide" with a variety of online articles, tips, and resources.  BRIGHTLY (www.readbrightly.com) provides free downloadable SUMMER READING FUN PACKS specifically designed for Preschoolers (3-5 years old), Growing Readers (6-8 years old) and Tweens (9-12 years old).  A resource of Penguin Random House, BRIGHTLY also offers summer reading book suggestions for every age group from Preschool through High School with a few ideas that mom and dad might enjoy themselves too.

BRIGHTLY sent A Geek Daddy a complimentary care pack to help my kids avoid the summer slide consisting of a nice tote bag filled with a GROWING READER - SUMMER READING FUN PACK and some age appropriate books for my 7 year old twins to enjoy.  Summer reading is going to be an important focus for my kids over the next few months and I hope our readers will make it a priority for the children in their lives too.  To help one lucky A Geek Daddy blog reader or social media follower accomplish that goal, BRIGHTLY has also provided a Summer Reading Prize Pack for us to giveaway that will include an age appropriate Summer Reading Fun Pack and a Penguin Random House book selection based upon the gender and age of a child the winner selects.



To be eligible for this giveaway you must follow @Geekdad248 on Twitter and retweet our original contest tweet embedded above before July 5, 2016 @ 11:59 pm EST.  Must be a US  resident over the age of 18 to participate.  One entry per person and we'll randomly select a winner from all eligible entries.

BRIGHTLY can be a valuable resource for parents to help their children avoid learning loss over the summer, but it is also filled with great information on a wide variety of subjects that can be utilized throughout the year to help promote with kids a life-long interest in reading.  As a fan of comic books who enjoys sharing my enjoyment of them with my son and daughter, I appreciated the site's article "8 Graphic Novels Tween Girls Can't Get Enough Of" encouraging female readers to check out the medium and "7 Graphic Novels Elementary Schoolers Love" to promote comics with young readers.  I also appreciated the site's outreach to dad's with articles like "5 Things I Never Expected to Love About Being a Dad."  BRIGHTLY is filled with author essays, informational articles, and more that are meant to be helpful for moms and dads in making their way through that grand adventure know as parenting.  It is also full of activities that are educational and entertaining at the same time such as their Family Book Club and a variety of printable activity sheets to help parents get their children to embrace reading as an interesting and enjoyable activity that they want to do rather than be forced to.



The current BRIGHTLY Family Book Club selection is The BFG to commemorate 2016 being the 100th anniversary of the author's birth, Roald Dahl passed away in 1990, and to tie-in to the excitement of Disney's summer movie based upon the children's book about a Giant and the orphaned girl he befriends.  This section of the BRIGHTLY site includes suggestions for activities, crafts, snacks, and games with a The BFG theme plus group discussion questions for parents to engage in with their kids after the whole family has read the book.

Check out readbrightly.com as it really is a brilliantly useful resource for moms and dads.



Disclaimer & Rules / FTC Notice:  A Geek Daddy Blog will be responsible for selecting the winner of this contest, but Penguin Random House is responsible for fulfillment and delivery of the prize. By participating in this contest you waive any liability towards A Geek Daddy Blog or its publisher that may arise from your involvement with this promotion. A Geek Daddy Blog hosted this contest and blog post based upon Penguin Random House providing the prize to the selected winner. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. Must be a US resident over 18 years old.  If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Prize will be delivered by UPS or FedEx so no P.O. Boxes are allowed as mailing addresses. A Geek Daddy Blog is hosting this giveaway as a benefit to our readers.  A Geek Daddy Blog did not receive any financial compensation for publishing this post but did receive one of the prizes for personal use.

Monday, June 27, 2016

National Geographic Kids Magazine - Summer Issue

My kids always are excited and get a big smile on their face when an issue of our NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC KiDS MAGAZINE subscription arrives in the mail.  We just received our Summer Edition of this entertaining and educational publication for children 6 to 12 years old which includes a feature article about Jaguars along with being filled with eye-catching kids-oriented photography by National Geographic photographers, interesting trivia, plus fun games and puzzles.

My son has had a fascination with jaguars ever since he was a toddler watching "Dora the Explorer" and took a liking to the "Baby Jaguar" character on the show. So he was thrilled by the magazine's in-depth article which highlight's how these animals' one-of-a-kind features make them stand out from other wild cats.  This four page spread is filled with up-close photographs and informative facts.  Did you know for being a "small" wild cat that jaguars can grow to be 6 feet long and weigh 300 pounds?  One of these cats can grow to be bigger than I am!  This section also has a fun game challenging readers to match a fur pattern to the wild cat it belongs to.

Catering to a child audience, the issue is full of wacky and goofy facts, jokes, trivia and other things kids delight in.  "Weird but true!" trivia, Guinness World Records, out-of-this world facts, and Extreme Weirdness Photographs are just a few segments that have kids learning while they enjoy flipping through the magazine.  With the Summer Olympic Games coming up there is also a great tie-in article about the host country, "30 Cool Things About Brazil."


There are also of fun games and puzzles to keep a child's attention including a "Backyard BBQ" word puzzle and a swimming themed Funny Fill-In.



Also included are pull-out Animal Trivia Cards that provide True & False questions that kids can challenge their friends to answer and trade among themselves.


I've just highlighted a few key items included in the Summer Edition of National Geographic Kids Magazine but there is plenty more to check out included within it.  Each issue is filled with content that will encourage readers to learn more about adventurous activities, geography, science, wildlife and the lifestyles of other children from around the world.  An annual subscription is for 10 issues and costs $15 for a print version or $12 for a digital edition.  CLICK HERE for more information about subscribing to National Geographic Kids Magazine.

A Geek Daddy is a member of the National Geographic Kids Insider blogger program. Insiders get a behind-the-scenes look at National Geographic’s resources, activities, content and projects for kids and families. They also review copies of books, magazines and toys, and are offered interviews with authors, explorers and editors. I do not receive any financial compensation for my participation as a National Geographic Kids Insider.

Major League Baseball Teams Wearing Patriotic Themed Uniforms During Fourth of July Games

On Monday, July 4, 2016, Major League Baseball teams will be sporting special patriotic themed caps and jerseys during their games to honor America's Independence Day holiday.  The jerseys will incorporate a stars and stripes / fireworks theme to the lettering and numbering while the caps will either be blue or red with a background of white stars emblazoned on the front.



In addition to adding some patriotic spirit to America's pastime on the Fourth of July these uniforms will be assisting the charity Welcome Back Veterans which assists U.S. military servicemen and women with making a successful transition back to civilian life.  Major League Baseball's licensing royalties from the sale of the replica caps and jerseys their teams' players will be wearing on the field for Independence Day will be donated to this veterans charity.


These specialty Fourth of July uniforms are altered each year to make them collectible and maintain fan interest in each year's new design.  Check out your favorite team's Stars & Stripes cap and jersey by visiting shop.mlb.com.  I have to admit not really taking much of a liking to this year's Stars & Stripes cap and jersey designs for the U.S. teams but ironically the Blue Jays Maple Leaf Cap version of the Fourth of July uniforms in my opinion comes off really sharp. The Blue Jays will wear their specialty caps and jerseys on Canada Day (July 1) as well as on the Fourth of July.  So what do you think of this year's Major League Baseball Independence Day uniform designs?

Sunday, June 26, 2016

DIA "INSIDE / OUT" ART DISPLAYS HEAD TO NORTHERN MICHIGAN FOR THE SUMMER MONTHS

Six years ago the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) began a community outreach campaign to expand the awareness and appreciation of the museum with local residents.  The DIA placed weather-proof, high-quality reproductions of artistic masterpieces from its collection outdoors in a few select cities within the three counties surrounding Detroit for people to enjoy.  The goal of the displays was to bring the art IN its galleries OUT into communities for people who may not normally visit the downtown Detroit museum to enjoy. These representations were so accurate that police departments in these communities began to receive calls from concerned citizens that stolen artwork from the DIA may have been put up as a prank.  Rave reviews from the public about the displays have made INSIDE/OUT an annual on-going program since its inception.

The INSIDE / OUT program selects several local cities and townships each year to host these art displays. The nice thing about the program is that seven to twelve images are clustered within walking or bike-riding distance so you can have a fun family outing searching for the artwork and exploring the community where it has been placed.  I've gone on an art hunt with my kids in at least one of the INSIDE/OUT communities hosting the displays each year since the program began.  It is nice too that they've rotated the participating cities and townships during the life of the program so the displays aren't always hosted in the same places and new artwork is regularly introduced year to year keeping going on art hunts fun and exciting.  Metro Detroit locations hosting INSIDE/OUT in 2016 include Eastern Market and the Dequindre Cut greenway trail in the City of Detroit, plus the communities of Hamtramck, Ecorse, New Baltimore, Pontiac, and Warren, among other locations.


Because of the popularity of INSIDE/OUT  the displays will also be included over the summer in three northern Michigan towns popular with summer vacationers -- Alpena, Traverse City and Mackinac Island.  If you are planning on going on an Up North Michigan adventure this summer these INSIDE / OUT exhibits will be on display until September.  I hadn't realized that the INSIDE / OUT artwork was going to be on display in Northern Michigan until we stumbled upon one of the portraits during a family trip to Mackinac Island while walking to our hotel.  Because of our family's past art hunts we instantly associated it with being INSIDE/OUT artwork.


 Mackinac Island is known for prohibiting motor vehicles so walking, bike riding and horse drawn carriages are the primary means of getting around while visiting the Michigan state park which is filled with historical buildings, scenic landscapes, and lots of fudge shops and souvenir stands. The INSIDE / OUT artwork is sprinkled throughout the island's downtown and the grounds of the historic Grand Hotel.  Some of the artwork really stands out along the island's thoroughfares while others are a bit more subdued so they are not so easy to discover without looking out for them.  Of course we went on an art hunt to our Mackinac Island activities once we realized the DIA reproductions were there searching for all the INSIDE/OUT displays adding an extra element of fun to our trip.

I've shared a few of the Mackinac Island INSIDE/OUT portraits we discovered.  If you visit can you find them all?  If so let us know!  Plus if you make it to Alpena or Traverse City this summer, have some Pure Michigan fun and go on an art hunt!  Of course we'd enjoy seeing your INSIDE/OUT art hunt photos.  Please share your pictures by tweeting them to @Geekdad248 so we can share in your fun!

If you are planning a Metro Detroit art hunt be aware that they switch up the locations and displays in August with the new exhibit locations staying up through October.  Upcoming locations include Belleville (Wayne County), East English Village (Detroit), Beverly Hills (Oakland County) and Romeo (Macomb County).   For more information, visit www.dia.org.

Metro Detroit Salvation Army Thrift Stores Summer Sale

We regularly go through our bedroom closets and dressers at the beginning of each summer to weed out clothing items that are in good condition but don't fit or just aren't worn anymore for our family to donate to the local Salvation Army thrift stores.  I just dropped off our annual summer donation of unused clothing and household items to The Salvation Army the other day.  It is a win-win-win deal when donating items to The Salvation Army thrift stores because it provides a tax donation to the donor, recycles unwanted items so they don't end up in landfills, and supports a good cause -- The Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center.

You've heard the phrase relating to how alcoholics and drug addicts are dealing with sobriety as "on/off the wagon," well that saying goes back to the 1800s when The Salvation Army had horse-drawn wagons going through the streets offering rides to addicts wanting help.  More than 200 years later those efforts continue with all the proceeds from The Salvation Army's thrift stores in southeastern Michigan supporting an independently funded, 180-day residential rehabilitation program that is free to any man or woman desiring to break free from alcohol or drug addiction.  Shopping at these thrift stores transforms people's donations of physical items into revenue to fund the Adult Rehabilitation Center and can also provide shoppers with some great bargains.

Save by the dawn's early light at The Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center family thrift stores as they celebrate summer with special deals during the non-profit's annual Fourth of July Sale.  Visit any of the 36 Metro Detroit Salvation Army thrift store locations to enjoy 50% off clothing on Monday, July 4, 2016.  Plus there will be great deals on fashion accessories, home goods and other items during surprise bonus sales that will be announced throughout the day.

“The Fourth of July celebrates the independence of our country, and our Fourth of July sale is helping more Americans become independent – from drugs and alcohol,” Merle Miller, administrator of The Salvation Army Southeast Michigan Adult Rehabilitation Center, told A Geek Daddy Blog. “By attending the sale and stocking up on summer essentials helps us to help the brave men and women who are facing their addictions at our rehabilitation center.”


Founded by William Booth in London, England, in 1865, The Salvation Army is a faith-based, non-profit organization dedicated to serving people in need without discrimination. The Adult Rehabilitation Center is an integral part of The Salvation Army's mission, and offers substance-abusing adults the opportunity to rebuild their lives through a voluntary, short-term residential self-help program designed to establish a sense of dignity, self-esteem and personal strength that will allow them to resist the desire to abuse a substance and regain their rightful place as contributing members of society. Completely self-funded, the Adult Rehabilitation Center draws its entire operating budget from the revenue of  thrift stores located in Southeast Michigan -- none of the donations from The Salvation Army's well known Holiday Bell Ringers campaign supports this program. Additionally donations to these thrift centers annually recycle or diverts more than 24 million pounds of waste from area landfills. For more information visit www.salarmythrift.com or call 313.965.7760.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

PARKA'KITO MOSQUITO REPELLENT

 **A Geek Daddy received the featured product to review for free **
 I always enjoy a trek hiking the bluffs of Mackinac Island looking out across the water of the straits where the Great Lakes of Huron, Michigan and Superior come together.  It is always a relaxing experience hiking through this tranquil setting full of impressive natural scenery.  Unfortunately, often times there is one major drawback that puts a damper on an otherwise fun time leaving you itchy and welted by the conclusion of your hike ... the forest full of mosquitoes.  The island may not have bears, lions or snakes to fend off but the wet and shady habitat at this Michigan state park makes a perfect breeding ground for pesky mosquitoes looking to steal a bit of your blood.  Ugh! if you are lucky you'll only be left itching for a few days and being unlucky could lead to a more serious problem like an infection of the West Nile Virus or a case of Encephalitis, among other illnesses.  I've used a variety of bug deterrents when going on hikes in the woods with mixed results over the years.


For my most recent trip to Mackinac Island, I took along with me some samples I'd been sent from PARA'KITO MOSQUITO REPELLENT to try out knowing that it could really come in handy based upon my past treks.  During my hike, I wore a wrist band and had a clip on my backpack that each contained a pellet filled with oils that interfere with mosquitoes sense of smell reducing the critters capacity to identify you.  I was a bit hesitant that this simple sounding solution would work, but PARA'KITO passed the "smell test" as I made it through my hike relatively unscathed without a noticeable mosquito bite.

With people having renewed concerns about mosquito-born illnesses due to the recent Zika Virus outbreaks as well as a societal trend to avoid physical interactions with harsh chemicals, PARA'KITO uses all natural-based active ingredients to ensure that its products sufficiently protect people from mosquitoes without the use of chemicals that could potentially cause their own negative health side effects.  PARA'KITO mosquito repellent is DEET, parabens and phthalates free.  It's mosquito repellent pellets made from a mixture of Citronella, Rosemary, Geranium, Mint, Clove, Peppermint and Cinnamon oils provide consistent protection for up to 15 days.  When they've worn out just pull the pellet out of your refillable band or clip and slip in a replacement. Refills can easily be ordered online and shipped to you.



Refillable bands made from neoprene can be worn on wrists or ankles are available in sizes for both kids and adults in a variety of shades and designs.  Kids designs feature pandas, pirates, monkeys and sharks.  Adult colors and designs range from standard black or blue to cosmic purple or camouflage among a variety of selections.  Clips are easy to use too - place them on strollers, bikes, backpacks, belts or purses among other things to keep the mosquitoes away.



Because PARA'KITO mosquito repellent is a hassle free, worry free product that is applicable for the whole family to use and with which I personally had success with using, it gets A Geek Daddy nod of approval. Enjoy your summer without having to worry about those pesky mosquitoes!  For more information, visit us.parakito.com


Also stop by the PARA’KITO Facebook page this summer for a chance to win their weekly contest on its Facebook page. Starting the week of June 20 through September 21, PARA'KITO will give away two wristbands (a $39 value!) to one lucky Facebook follower! Entering to win is easy! First 'LIKE' the PARA'KITO USA Facebook page. Then visit PARAKITO.com and share your favorite product from the collection in the COMMENTS section of the weekly Facebook post PINNED at the top of the Facebook page. Be sure to use #PKgiveaway in your response. Around 4pm ET each Thursday, they'll announce a weekly winner!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

HARVEY BEAKS Two-Part Steampunk Themed Musical Special on Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon's HARVEY BEAKS animated television show is featuring a steampunk themed two-part musical special that will debut on Thursday, June 23 and Friday, June 24, 2016 at 5:30pm (ET/PT) on the cable channel.  Harvey and his friends set out on a brand-new, imaginary and musical journey where they explore the cogs, gears, and fantasy of the world Steamburg.

In Part 1 which premieres on the evening of June 23rd, Harvey imagines he is in a steampunk world, and is blamed for breaking a floating city.  Part 2 follows the next evening of Friday, June 24 where the songs and mystery continue when Harvey continues his quest to fix the floating city, but danger looms around every steamy corner.  This special two-episode story arc will feature four original songs: "Steamburg," "(Here In Our Town Called) Reject Town," "I Can Tell We're Gonna Be Friends" and "Friendship Can Do Anything."



Created and executive produced by C.H. Greenblatt (Chowder), Harvey Beaks follows the life of a big-hearted and big-headed kid and his impetuous two best friends. Together with an odd assortment of townsfolk in their magical forest, they get into all sorts of adventures and trouble. But no matter how ridiculous things get, they always find a way to stay true to themselves.

Visit the Harvey Beaks page on Nick.com or the Nick App to learn more about the show and its characters, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the series. Episodes of Harvey Beaks are available on Nick.com and the Nick App, along with digital download and streaming platforms that include iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, Google Play, Vudu, Playstation, and Nick On Demand.