Friday, September 19, 2014

Kidecals Product Review and Discount!

Disclosure:  I was given free product for the purposes of review.  All opinions are my own.

With three kids, we have tons of STUFF.  Clothes.  Lunchboxes.  Backpacks.  Electronics. Books.

While my middle son is the child who has his head in the clouds most often, it's my oldest son who seems to be the most careless with this things.  He's lost a couple of lunch boxes.  Tragedy struck when the Nintendo 3DS he had saved up for and bought after Christmas got left behind in a hotel room in a Disney resort during his February birthday.  Never found.  I tried to maintain my composure when I noticed his beloved Under Armour sweatshirt was MIA.

Enter Kidecals!



Kidecals are labels that come in all different sizes and styles.  They are waterproof and dishwasher proof.  They are Kid Proof.

Their website has so many decals to choose from!  They are helpfully listed by use, gender, age, shape, style... prepare to spend some time - they have so many designs!  You can do more than put your child's name on them.  Especially helpful to parents of kids with allergies is a label that you can place on your child's clothes or on their lunchboxes that reminds caregivers of your child's allergies.

They have a lot of labels geared toward general organizing which EVERY mom or dad could use!!!

With my older boys in middle school, I tried to keep the labels I customized low-key and not too little-kid looking.


I like having the different sizes.  My son's handheld game?  That gets the small one.  My Kindle Fire?  Slap a big one on there.

I labeled their lunch boxes.  You better believe that once we purchase winter coats, the labels will be put in there right away.  I was walking around the house looking for stuff to label, with my older boys yelling at me to leave their things alone.  The youngest Boy Child was bringing me things he wanted me to label. Water bottles will be next.  And I can't wait until summer camp next year - I will be labeling every single thing they own.

Here is a picture our PTA president posted on our school's Facebook page:


The announcement said that they had returned to students everything that was labeled ; this was what was leftover and would be donated if not claimed soon.  That's a lot of stuff!

There is another hat I wear, and that job sings the praises of labels as well.  I'm a preschool teacher.  I teach young 2 year olds, most of whom do not speak very well if they are speaking at all.  It's pretty pointless for me to hold something up and say, "Who does this belong to?"

Kidecals wants to give you the chance to love them as much as I do!  Use code ilovelabels for 15% off your order!  Even better?  Free shipping.  On all orders.  I am a complete and total sucker for free shipping.

I really like these labels and I feel better about them taking pricier things out of the house now.  I have to wonder if my oldest's DS might have been returned to us if we had put any kind of contact information on it.  Check out their site and place your order - you can't go wrong with a discount and free shipping!

Do you label your children's things?  What are some of the things you would immediately label with Kidecals?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Giveaway From The Atlanta History Center & The Big Read!

It's a good week for discounts and giveaways!

The Big Read is in full swing at The Atlanta History Center.  The Big Read is a program encouraging the Atlanta community to bond over one book - Mexican-American author Luis Alberto Urrea's Into the Beautiful North.  From the AHC press release:
Urrea transcends the "us against them" discourse of immigration and writes with compassion, complexity and humor about the people and places caught up in the border wars.  The U.S. - Mexico border is not just a line on a map; it is a dream-like destination and departure point, surrounded by desperation and expectations.  
The Atlanta History Center is hosting several events for The Big Read, both at the AHC and elsewhere.


Check out The Big Read page at The Atlanta History Center's site for more information regarding programs for adults AND children!  When on social media, use #AHCbigread to connect with others reading the book! 

The Atlanta History Center is offering one of my readers a free copy of Into the Beautiful North!  Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  The winner can pick up their copy of the book at The Atlanta History Center anytime during regular business hours.  

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Zone Perfect Resolutions - Kept or Broken? A Giveaway!

Disclosure:  As a member of the Blog Forward program, I have received Zone Perfect products as well as promotional items.  However, I am free to comment about this program and these products in any way I choose.  All opinions are 100% my own.  

Time to check in again!  Back in January, I was asked by Zone Perfect to participate in a Blogger Resolutions Challenge.  I was to come up with three resolutions and track throughout the year how I was doing with them.


Resolution #1: Eat Healthier
I've had ups and downs with this one.  Yeah, I have my fast food cravings, but I really have gotten in the habit of keeping a stash of Zone Perfect bars around to curb hunger.  I throw one in my purse if I'm running late to something but absolutely need to eat.  With so many different flavors, I don't get tired of eating these.  Even better?  My pickiest eater loves these bars, too.  If he eats one as a snack, I'm glad he's getting something good in him!

Resolution #2: Be More Consistent With Chores And Allowance
Better late than never, right?  I have done such a crappy job with this one.  Just last week I found some cute "Daily Routine" printables from A Bowl Full of Lemons that I thought were just the thing to help this slacker momma avoid having slacker children.  Instead of them picking up their Nintendo DS when they get home from school, I refer them to the chart.  Already I've seen benefits - my two youngest children have taken on my task of walking the dog every night, and they take her on much longer walks than I do!



Resolution #3: Cut Down On Screen Time - for ALL of us!
Holy crap, this is hard.  My friends live in the screens.  :)  But I know how much better I feel when I shut everything down and don't think about social media anymore.  I'm starting to set a timer when I get on the computer to handle tasks related to my blog in the hopes that I don't slide down a rabbit hole.  My kids?  It's a constant struggle.  School has started and grades are already starting to slip, so we are considering making a blanket "No screens during the week" rule.  That's like cutting off my kids' oxygen, but we need to make the impression that school comes first - always.

Whether you have just gone back to school or you have been in a while now like us, it's time to take care of you!  Zone Perfect has provided me with a Well Beings Essentials kit to giveaway to one happy reader!



Included:

  • plastic tumbler
  • pedometer
  • hair ties
  • lip balm
  • hand sanitizer
  • a box of Zone Perfect bars
  • a coupon for your next Zone Perfect purchase
Open to US residents only.  Giveaway held from September 17 and closes at midnight September 24th.  


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Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Battle in The Mommy Wars: To Volunteer or Not To Volunteer?

Recently, I mentioned in a Facebook group of my friends how much I loved showing up at my kid's school and my dream of being a professional volunteer.  I even went so far to say that I would do this every day, all day.

If you know me, you know that I am not Suzy Homemaker.  I am not slavishly devoted to my children, nor am I impeccably dressed.  I am often quite peccably dressed.  I am the mom scarfing down a Diet Coke and a Zone Perfect bar while trying not to speed wheels up through the school parking lot even though I am already late for whatever it was I signed up for that morning.

The Mommy Wars - To Volunteer or Not To Volunteer


I read a lot of blogs trying to be funny about this issue and sharing why they no longer agree to volunteer.  For most of them, I am right there with you, sisters.  #Solidarity.  I am for all intents and purposes an "older" mom.  I'm not new and shiny at this. I cleared the second of my older two kids out of the elementary school last year.  When my oldest's 5th grade teacher saw me for the first time this year, she asked in shock, "You have another one here?"  Yup - first grade.  You've got me for another 5 years, y'all.  I'm tired.  But for my youngest kid's sake, I'm also invested.  (Great post from 4BoysMother expresses this so well!)

So this is not about the glory of trying to be all things to all people.  It's not about trying to get attention for me or my kid by being at the school all the time, although one perk is that I don't even have to state my name to be buzzed in anymore - they see my awkward "smiling for the camera" face and they know exactly who I am.

I actually LIKE being there.  I like being around the kids.  The kind of attention I look for is when a first grader comes up to me shyly in the media center and quietly asks, "Are you Eli's mom?"  I like working at the welcome desk and chatting with all my kids' teachers, past and present, as they go by.  Our school staff rocks and I like getting to know those people.

Okay, maybe I'm not so down with Field Day.  You have to be able to pick your jobs to avoid pain and suffering.  Manning water games is a waaaaay better gig than standing out in a field trying to teach K-2 the concept of Beach Ball Volleyball.  I shaved years off of purgatory with that one.



But let's make a deal.  Don't make fun of me for being at the school all the time and volunteering for bunches of stuff.  I won't try to shame you for not doing it.

Do you work full-time?  Do you have to save your days off to show up when it counts the most - when your kid would be the only one without a parent present?  I get that.  Send the Room Mom a check when she needs it for the Chrismakkuh party and Oreos & paper plates to help teach the kids the phases of the moon and you will be an in absentia Rock Star.

Do you have little ones at home?  Truly, many times it would be better if you did NOT drag the younger siblings in so that you can volunteer.  We all know that you will spend more time wrangling your own kids than actually doing what you signed up to do.  It's a stressful gig.  A friend of mine who just had a baby volunteers to do the stuff she can do at home - cut out all those freakin' box tops and send in food for teacher lunches.

Yes, I tend to see the same people volunteer over and over.  But I like that - it's how I get to know people.  I promise you, those of us who are serial volunteers are not pointing you out at school events and looking to make digs at you for not showing up during the class day.  At least, not the people I see.  This is another way that moms get to support each other.  You would rather stick needles in your eyes than sit at the Welcome Desk?  Don't worry, sister, I got you covered.  With 3 active kids and living on 1.5 incomes, I don't have a lot of cash to throw around.  You'll make up the difference they need to help keep the science teacher around another year?  Thanks, girl.

There is a place and a way for everyone to be involved.  Let's support that and be thankful that everyone's time, talents and treasures don't all manifest in the same way.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

When A Dog Is NOT A Runner's Best Friend

About a week or so ago, I was out on my weekend run.  I had just completed 4 miles in nasty humidity and was more than ready to be done.  On my cool-down walk through my neighborhood, I had this guy come bounding toward me.


Yup - a pit bull.  A big one.  He came and put his paws right up on my back.  Even more terrifying was that he came from the house that also has a HUGE rottweiler that barks viciously and paws the fence every time I go by.  If THAT guy made an appearance, I was screwed.

I looked around - I was right in front of the house of my son's close friend, but it didn't look like they were home.  I stood stock still and didn't look at the dog.  It came up and sniffed me a few times and jumped up on me again.  When I was fairly confident that it wasn't going to hurt me, I started walking slowly toward home.  I pulled out my phone - slllllooooowwwwwlllllyyyyyy - and called my husband.  I told him what was going on, that I was almost home and I just wanted to stay on the phone with him in case this dog flipped out on me.  



The dog followed me all the way down my street and thoroughly enjoyed the stroll, taking time to stop and smell the roses.  He / she turned out to be sweet and harmless.  I was amazed to realize that this was my first scary dog encounter in 4 years of running!  

Here is everything I recall ever being told about how to handle an aggressive dog:


Stop - stand still.  If the dog is friendly, it might think you are playing chase.  If the dog is not friendly, running away will be viewed as weakness and a challenge.  Don't start moving until it is clear that the dog is not coming any closer to you.  When you start moving, go slow and DON'T turn your back on the dog.  

Don't make eye contact.  Dogs view this as a direct challenge.  Also, don't smile at the dog.  It could be seen as baring your teeth which is also taken as an aggressive act on your part.

Protect yourself.  If the dog is small, a sharp blow to its nose could be all you need to send it running away or, at the very least, stun it long enough for you to get to help.  If the dog is large and is attacking, drop to the ground and curl up in a ball.  Give that dog as little of your surface area to work with as possible.  

Reconsider pepper spray.  My husband's first thought was that I needed something like pepper spray to carry on my runs.  I've read, though, that this could just anger an already aggressive dog.  

My friend Patty wrote a post on staying safe while running - safe from humans, not dogs.  But her tip about carrying a whistle seems like it would still be a great idea in this situation.  The loud noise of the whistle could have the double benefit of scaring the dog to inaction while attracting the attention of someone who could help.  

Have you encountered an aggressive dog while out walking or running?  Do you have any other tips for us?  

Please share with your runner friends!  

Monday, September 8, 2014

Time to FALL for a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort! (And A Fun Giveaway!)

Disclosure:  I was provided with these giveaway items by Jenn Greene, an agent with Destinations in Florida with whom I am affiliated. All opinions are my own!

Fall is an amazing time to visit the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party

I am desperate - DESPERATE, I tell you! - to take my youngest to this fun event.  Trick or treating in the Magic Kingdom?  Sold!

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks

Your family can have loads of fun with dance parties, the Boo-To-You Halloween parade and the Hallowishes Fireworks show!  A separate ticket is required for this event and all guests who do not have a party ticket are ushered out of the park at 7:00pm.  It's a great way to experience your favorite rides and characters in a much less crowded Magic Kingdom!  Here's my favorite tip:  although the party officially starts at 7:00pm, you can get into the Magic Kingdom as early as 4:00pm with just your party ticket - no additional park admission required!  This is a nice option for families who will be coming into the Orlando area in the afternoon and don't want to use one of their park admission days.

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks


Not really into Halloween but you act like a kid at Christmas?  Oh, then I've got a must-do event for you!

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

I was lucky enough to attend this event last year when I ran the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and it was AMAZING!  This is where I want to bring my middle son - this would be his jam!  Christmas lights, special parades & fireworks shows, characters in holiday outfits... it was so fun!  Y'all - it SNOWS periodically on Main Street, USA!  Cinderella Castle is lit up in icicle lights and is breathtaking.  Stations around the park hand out cookies and hot cocoa.  I have a strict "No Christmas Before Thanksgiving" rule but I gladly broke it so I could experience this Christmas magic!  Same deal as the Halloween Party - a separate ticket is required and you can get into the park as early as 4:00pm with that ticket.

The DisBroads on the Jingle Cruise!  

Jenn Greene of Destinations in Florida travel agency can hook you up with some great late fall rates so you can attend these events!  I was pricing them out myself and you can definitely save a bundle by taking advantage of the offers Disney has out right now.  Let Jenn take care of all your planning, including scoring those dining reservations and special event tickets.



Jenn has graciously offered this fun little prize pack for one of my lucky readers!  It includes a Monsters, Inc. reuseable tote, a t-shirt with Mickey & friends (kid size 7-8), stickers, sunglasses, a notebook, a light up badge and more!


Contest runs until midnight, September 15, 2014.  U.S. residents only.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Hey, Girl - It's My Birthday!


Yup.  Allllllllll day.  And in case you feel awkward about asking, the magic number is 44.

YOWZA.

I'm not really down with that.  You know, it's not the number so much as it is how I feel and what I see when I look in the mirror.  We bloggers joke around about selfies, but I don't take too many.  They're just too damn close up.  I try not to be all self-conscious and to age gracefully, but it's not working.


 Replace "thighs" with "wrinkles / bags" and I am working on making this my mantra.

The pros about getting older?  Things that I did not have going on when I was in my 20's?

  • The ability to be even quasi-responsible with money (Although my husband might be coughing "Bullshit!" right now)
  • Health / discipline - the thought of me running 11 half marathons and training for a full would be a completely foreign concept to 24 year old me.  I probably would have been horrified.
  • An appreciation for short men.  Really short.  At least for now.  The older two are already gaining on me and may force me to look up to them soon.  But I have a relatively new appreciation for fart jokes and gross stuff.  And soccer.
  • Curves.  Yeah, there are some leftovers from "the baby" (who is now 6) that I would like to get rid of, but I'm a lot more filled out now than I was at 24 and 98 lbs.  I'm bringin' booty baaaackkkk!  
  • I'm smarter.  Sweet fancy Moses, am I smarter - about most everything.  
So, there's all that.  



What hasn't changed?  The most important thing - friends.  I may not be as close with the same friends through all these years, but from high school to now I have been blessed with absolutely amazing friends - BOATLOADS of them.  We extroverts like to travel in packs and I have always been able to find My People.  Fun people.  Lord, have I had fun.  

So, when I see the wrinkles, I keep reminding myself that they are there because I have laughed - A LOT. I've spent a good portion of my life loving "summer and sun and all things hot".  So, I guess those wrinkles are the cost of being happy and having fun.   That puts them a lot more in perspective.  So, if they say that happiest girls are the prettiest, then I'm going to work on being able to get to this in the next year:



If you need me, I'll be off laughing with my friends and eating cake.  Oh, sweet mother there had better be cake....