Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Embracing Love & Light for Christmas

Hello and happy holidays to anyone who happens to read this post!
Have not posted in several months, as we have been busy with a variety of exciting projects!
 As Christmas approaches, have been reflecting about the idea of truly embracing love and light for Christmas this year.
That might seem obvious to some of you to embrace love and light at Christmas.
For many people, Christmas is a such a happy time spent with family and friends celebrating the birth of Christ, exchanging gifts, having great meals, and enjoying the wondrous holiday season.
While it still is all of these things for our family, for the last seven years, Christmas has been bittersweet, as there is a bit of an underlying sadness...a pain like no other...memories of a time when we lost our little precious baby daughter via miscarriage.
This year, I have had some blue moments thinking of what our lives would be like now if we had our little girl who would be turning seven prepping to see Santa and helping to make cookies, but that was not meant to be.
Instead of getting stuck in feeling down about the loss of our precious one, I have decided to really focus on embracing the LOVE that surrounds our family...the love that radiates from my dear hubby and from my sweet sons, as well as from friends and extended family.
We are truly blessed! 
Every year, we honor her memory by placing an angel ornament that has a memorial on the reverse side of it. We say a prayer for our baby girl as we place her angel on the tree.
I have read all kinds of inspirational ideas of honoring those whom we dearly miss at Christmas and two of the ideas that really seem to speak to our family (in addition to the angel ornament we created in her honor) are the ideas of creating a Happiness Jar and A Remembrance through Giving Envelope.
Our family enjoys working on a variety of philanthropic endeavors and charitable projects, but we have never created a Remembrance through Giving Envelope.
From what we have read, the idea is to write what we do as a family and then place the card into an envelope onto our Christmas tree in memory of our dear Bryn Elizabeth.
That is what we are going to do this year and hopefully, it will help us to embrace love and light for Christmas.
We are also going to create our own Happiness Jars.
We are starting them tomorrow and will add to them throughout the year and then, we will read what we have added next Christmas of 2016.
A whole year of happiness to review! Yay!
It feels great to give from the heart...to help others in a variety of ways...but what is amazing is that in giving, you receive so much love and feel so light so that there is even more room in your heart for joy and happiness!
Jesus is the reason for the season and he is the Light of the world, so preparing our hearts for His birthday celebration eases the pain of our loss.
If you are reading this and have lost someone dear to you, maybe you will want to try creating a Remembrance through Giving Envelope and a Happiness Jar for you and your family too.
Hope that you will feel a warm hug of love and light and that you will enjoy this Christmas season to the fullest!
If you need some thoughts and prayers to get you through the holidays, please feel free to leave a comment and we will pray for you!
Best wishes to everyone celebrating their special holidays at this time and a very Merry Christmas to all who celebrate Christmas like our family does! 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Cool Tech for Kids - Review and Giveaway #ItCanWait #ATT #Google #Microsoft

Recently, we were invited to be a part of the Back-to-School Tech Event that was sponsored by AT&T.
The event featured all kinds of great tech that would be perfect for students of all ages.
Following the event, Big Bro was given the opportunity to test out a Smart Phone, The Microsoft Lumia 640XL. He tried it out for over a week.
Here are some of his comments about the phone:

The Microsoft Lumia 640 XL Smart Phone was very smooth, and ergonomic. It was sturdy but yet light. 
Also, the Cortana feature was excellent, because it easily recognized my voice and successfully did what I asked it to do. 
I loved the over-sized display screen and also, the clock feature. 
It also had a very nice camera that helped me to take great photos. 
All in all, I think that it would be an awesome phone for anybody, especially for middle school aged kids like me!  Thanks AT&T and Microsoft for letting me test out this cool phone!

In addition to Big Bro testing out the Microsoft Lumia 640XL, both boys were also given the opportunity to test out the AT&T Google VR that was developed to be a part of the AT&T #ItCanWait Campaign.
If you have not viewed this campaign, it is a powerful message to all people about the importance of not texting and driving.

Little Bro had this to say about his experience using the Google #VR #ItCanWait viewer:
I liked how you can walk around the world but stay in your home. I was able to see streets in Rome, Paris, and New York. It is cool as you can see so much and it was easy to use. 
My favorite thing to see was the Eiffel Tower. 
We also watched the #ItCanWait Campaign by AT&T. That was kind of scary, but it shows how important it is for big people who are driving to not try to do other things other than drive. Texting or playing on your phone is not what they are supposed to do. I think that the #ItCanWait Campaign is great to help people remember how to be safe.

Would you like to win a Google #ItCanWait Viewer? 

To enter, please leave a comment either here or Tweet the following:
#ItCanWait #VR @ATT @google @F5th

No Purchase Necessary. Void where prohibited by law. 
The Prize is the Google Cardboard #ItCanWait #VR Viewer, not the Apps or a Smart Phone that you will need in order to  use the viewer. 
The Google Cardboard #ItCanWait #VR Viewer prize is not to be used by people with motion sickness, or by those who wear a pacemaker. 
The Google Cardboard #ItCanWait #VR Viewer prize contains small magnets so the viewer is not to be used by children under the age of 3. 
Winners will be announced September 4, 2015. 
The announcement of winners will be featured on this blog, Sunrise Learning Lab, as well as via a Tweet by @f5th. 

Winners will be sent a link to check out Big Bro's Video Review of the Microsoft Lumia 640XL Smart Phone. 

Sunrise Learning Lab was given the chance to try out the phone for free in exchange for an honest, kid-friendly review. 
We were also able to test out the Google Cardboard #ItCanWait #VR Viewers. Thanks to Karen from AT&T for contacting us, as we thoroughly enjoyed testing these out for you and for AT&t, Google, Google Carboard, and Microsoft. 




Monday, June 1, 2015

The Florida Aquarium is Turning the Big 20

If you don't know already, our family LOVES The Florida Aquarium!
We recently purchased our annual pass and let me tell you, the boys absolutely love going there!
This Spring, we decided that it was time to let the boys start to plan our homeschool field trips.
Little Bro's first field trip plan was, of course, to one of his all time favorite spots in our region: The Florida Aquarium! It was a great curricular tie-in to the boys' study choices for Spring:
  • Flora and Fauna of Madagascar 
  • Water Conservation
Little Bro made out a list, packed some snacks for our car trip there, and then, planned out exactly what he wanted us to learn while there.
We all were instructed to bring notebooks and pens or pencils.
He decided that at every area, that we should select our favorite animal in the exhibit and write down its name, including its scientific name in Latin. He then instructed us to collect facts about the animals.
He checked out the various program offerings and decided that our family should go to the Secret Sealife Superhero Show. Both boys were very excited that their dad was selected to be a part of the show!
Dear Hubby was chosen for the role of Team Sea Turtle Superhero Captain.
We did extensions related to Madagascar and then, after our second trip, the boys focused on water conservation and clean up efforts following oil spills.
Big Bro helped to plan the second trip back to The Florida Aquarium. Even though he has studied some of these topics before, he still enjoyed getting to revisit some of his favorite areas and to see some of his favorite animals. We dubbed our second field trip Water Lab Day. We checked out that area there and then, the boys did various science experiments related to water conservation at home.
Such a great way to make natural connections to their learning!
So nice for them to take an active role in planning their areas of interest for their studies too.
If you have not been to The Florida Aquarium in a while, you really need to revisit this gem of an aquarium! If you have not been there ever before, you are missing out!
Here are some fun photos from two of our most recent visits to The Florida Aquarium:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's Been a While

Yes, it has been a while (a long while) since I wrote my last blog post!

We have had a busy and challenging few months...

We are in the process of a very unexpected update to our home, thanks to a report that aired in early March.
Big thanks to AC for airing his investigation. We are so thankful to him for his hard work and for sharing it with the world!

His investigative report led to some changes here, as until we have a new product added to our home, we have had to either cancel, reschedule, or make alternate arrangements for our enrichment activities. Thankfully, everyone has been understanding of these changes.

We have had to spend time pouring over the huge stack of medical records and bills, and have had to try to locate receipts from a while back. Then, we have had to compare that data with the timeline of purchasing and installing said product.
We have had the product tested and have anguished over all that we went through medically and emotionally.
It was hard enough living through the medical journey that we were on when we just thought that it was the luck of the draw, but it has been that much more frustrating / devastating to know that all of our health issues did not need to occur, that the trajectory of medical issues would not have existed if the product that we purchased would have actually been safe as it was supposed to be...for a family like ours, a family with pets and kids with asthma.

On a happier note, we have had some quality time with both sets of grandparents. We have met up with several friends and family members who have come our way to have some fun in the sun...twenty-four people in all. It has been great to get to spend time hanging out with cousins, old neighbors, and friends from our old stomping grounds. We feel blessed for these happy friends and family times and are very thankful that they overlapped the time of having to revisit medical records, bills, and receipts.

As the visitors have started to make their way back North, seeing that Spring breaks have ended and Snow Birds are migrating home, I have been keeping busy with doing various educational consulting projects and spending time doing things with the boys.

Try to keep myself as busy as is humanly possible, as when I don't, I go to a place of reflecting upon the medical issues that our whole family has endured over the last several years...and that they read like a checklist of the items on the can cause list (Thankfully, no pulmonary edema here, but we had much of the list checked here.).
Decided to read as many comments from others about their take on this product line (comments from employees, from customers, from research facilities, and from the media) to see if somewhere, there was more information.
While I did uncover quite a bit of information, instead of providing answers, many times, it just led to more questions:
Do these people have this product in their own homes?
For real, they have it in their homes or is it just for a photo shoot? 
Do they care that there is a family like ours who has been gravely affected by this product?
What would these people do if it was their family that was ill from such a product?
Why would they defend products that have been shown to have failed safety tests?
Why would employees with children try to get the word out that this product is safe when testing from accredited facilities are showing that this is not the case, that this product line is a health hazard?
Why would these people (especially those with children) feel that it would be okay to donate said product to families with pre-existing medical conditions?

Hopefully, some people will do some soul searching and will help to make a change for the better.
Hopefully, some people will learn from the mistake of putting profit ahead of children.
Hopefully, there are more compassionate people who will do what it takes to make things better.
Hopefully, they will do the right thing, not the easy thing...

Obviously, there are loads of very dedicated, hard working families who might be without a paycheck if they were to up and quit.
But why not try to make some positive changes from within?
Why just continue to wear blinders and not see that there indeed is a true problem with this product line?
Why not spend some time reflecting upon the families who have had medical issues that are related to exposure to this product line?
Did any of them spend vacations at medical clinics and hospitals having blood tests, MRIs, CT scans, nebulizer treatments, and other medical treatments that tie in from the exposure to this product line?
Why isn't there someone or some people to be the voice of reason to say, hey, why don't we help those who were affected and make it right for them?
Why don't employees and stockholders who don't want the company to go completely bankrupt figure out how they can possibly work out a viable solution to help families who have had horrible medical issues related to this product line? And then, offer to replace the product without it having to be a long, drawn out process?
Why not try to see if there is a way to turn things around to make things better? Why not be a part of the solution? Fix the problem means in this case that people work to change out the product, replace it with something that is safe, and to help with the medical expenses and hardships families have endured for purchasing this product that was supposed to be so safe but was not.

Everyone loves it when companies admit to their faults and change their ways and make things better when there are errors or omissions.
If those in leadership positions aren't willing to do this, then why don't employees and shareholders demand that there be some changes?

Our family was able to do extensive research, to find all kinds of things...from scholarly journal posts to social media. Our research is quite impressive when you look at the breadth and depth...

We are hoping that there will be people out there (employees, shareholders, various organizations and  people within the industry) who will want to do right and will want to make things better for families like ours.

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!

We are happy to announce our gifted pilot program starting Fall of 2014!
***This program is for residents of Florida only...

More Gifted Program Details!

More Gifted Program Details!
Sunrise Learning Lab™ and its Gifted Pilot Program belong to Colleen Murray Bowers. © 2014 Colleen Murray Bowers.

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