Monday, July 06, 2015

Tips for Heading Back to School … and the Master Lock Products That Can Help!

Summer is certainly flying by, and a new school year will be here before we know it! This is a huge year for my twins because they will be starting middle school. It’s been over ten years since my older boys were in middle school, so it feels like I’m starting all over again. However, I do remember some tips that really made the summer-to-school adjustment much easier.

  • If your child is attending a new school, he’ll feel more comfortable if he has visited a few times. Be sure to attend any open houses that are offered or even make an appointment to tour the school. Help him find the cafeteria, media center, and other places he’ll be visiting.
  • Start looking for deals on clothes and uniforms. I purchase these items throughout the year as I find sales. If you must purchase closer to the start of the school year, see if your state offers a tax-free period when you pay no sales tax on school-related purchases. You’d be surprised at how quickly these savings can add up!
  • Many stores run out of certain supplies as the school year approaches. Sometimes, you can’t purchase items until you get a supply list from your child’s teachers, but other items can be purchased ahead of time, such as backpacks, lunch bags, pencils and notebook paper. Do this during the summer while there’s still a big selection.
  • One advantage I have now as my twins head to middle school is that I’ve learned a lot about the many school safety products available from Master Lock. As a blogger for their Live Secure Safety Squad, my family has had the opportunity to try out many of their products, and we’ve found that they are often ideal for school use. For example:

Master Lock has a HUGE selection of combination padlocks for your child’s locker. I especially like the 1530DWD Letter Combination Dial Padlock because many children find it easier to memorize a word combination rather than a number. And the three bright metallic colors make it a perfect choice for kids. My boys will be using a locker for the first time this year, and they're really excited to pick out their Master Lock padlock!

If your child will be riding his bike to school, he’ll definitely need a bike lock. I love Master Lock’s 8152DASTWD Cable Lock because it also has a word combination and comes in fun bright colors for easy identification. It's super-strong and will withstand active kids' wear-and-tear.

Kids are packing more valuables in their backpacks these days, such as phones, iPads and graphing calculators. Protect them with a Master Lock backpack lock! The 1550DAST backpack lock is an ideal size for backpacks, sports bags and children's luggage.

Heading back to school doesn’t have to be stressful when you plan early. Head to the stores this summer while the selection is good and prices are reasonable, and be sure to visit for all of your school safety products.

Disclosure: As a member of the Master Lock Live Secure Safety Squad, I receive products and compensation for my participation. However, all opinions are 100% my own.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Create Your Own Colorful Coral at Home with Little Passports' Coral Reef Kit!

Are you looking for a fun science project for your kids to do? What about one that can spark conversations regarding different ecosystems around the world? Sound like something for your Little Explorer? Little Passports has you covered!

With simple step-by-step instructions, this easy science activity for kids demonstrates how crystals form and encourages an understanding of underwater ecosystems.

Set up your trays with the paper coral forms, add the terraforming solution, and enjoy your child's amazement as you both watch the transformation!

The Companion Guide features new adventures in Australia with Sam & Sofia as they explore the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef.

The kit includes:
  • Three coral forms, trays and terraforming solution
  • Instruction booklet with easy to follow step-by-step instructions
  • Companion Guide, featuring more Australia adventures with Sam and Sofia
The Coral Reef Kit is recommended for ages 6+

This fun science project is only $12.95 + shipping! Click here to purchase your very own Little Passports Coral Reef Kit.

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (July 4, 2015)

Happy Independence Day! Let's celebrate the holiday by entering some giveaways! Check out those listed on my right sidebar and in the linky below. Come back throughout the week as more are added. And if you're hosting a giveaway on your blog or website, please share it with us in the linky. Have a fun and safe holiday!

Inspyr Socks: Sharing Empowering and Motivational Messages (GIVEAWAY)

Have you ever noticed a shirt or other item of clothing that had a really offensive message on it? If you’re like me, it didn’t exactly put a smile on your face! That’s why I love Inspyr Socks. They include motivational words on them so that people feel good when they read or wear them! The socks include messages such as Never Quit; Earn It; and Step Up on the back so everyone can see them and smile. Inspyr Socks come in a variety of styles, including:

Inspyr Socks are 62% polyester, 21% nylon, 15% cotton and 2% spandex. They are very well-made, with heel-and-toe reinforcement (a must-have with active kids). They’re designed to retain their form-fitting shape wash after wash. All socks are available in youth shoe sizes 12 to 3 and in adult shoe sizes 8 to 13.

My 11-year-old boys each have a pair of the crew socks with the following messages:

Aren’t those great messages to impart to young men? As a parent, I love that they’re wearing clothes with messages we believe in and that may inspire their peers when they wear them. Be sure to add Inspyr Socks to your tween’s or teen’s school shopping list this year. Visit the following sites to learn more.

Inspyr Socks Website


One lucky winner will receive a pair of Inspyr Socks! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, July 16, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received complimentary product samples to facilitate my honest review.

Fairy Tales Hair Care: Safe and Gentle Products Created for Kids (and Parents, Too)!

Our kids are precious, and we want to be sure that we’re nourishing their bodies, both inside and out, with products that won’t harm them. This applies not only to food, but to hair care products, too! Thankfully, Fairy Tales Hair Care has created a line of natural hair care products that have no harsh chemicals, pesticides, toxins, parabens or sulfates. They contain nourishing natural ingredients that make them safe and gentle, but still effective. Their products include:

A Sun & Swim line to remove sea salt and chlorine from the hair of little swimmers.

A Tangle Tamers line to help detangle hair with no tears.

A Rosemary Repel line and Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit to help prevent or treat head lice.

One of my sons is on a swim team, so we jumped at the chance to review the Fairy Tale products in their Sun & Swim line, which includes a Lifeguard Clarifying Shampoo, Lemon-Aid Conditioner, and Coco Cabana Sun Spray. Honestly, my son’s hair has never looked better! I can’t believe how shiny and soft it looks. You would never know that he dunks it in harsh chlorine several days a week. With natural citrus extracts, coconut oil and banana leaf, these products smell yummy, too!

If you’re looking for natural, healthy and effective products to use on your child’s hair (or yours!), I hope you’ll check out the products from Fairy Tales Hair Care at You can also find them at national retailers like CVS and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Visit Fairy Tales Hair Care on:

Disclosure: I received complimentary product samples to facilitate my honest review.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Winners for June 2015

Joshua and the Lightning Road, by Donna Galanti (eBook)

Congratulations to the winners: Heather P., Tracee, Tammy H., Cynthia B., and Mai T.!

Spare Parts (DVD+Digital)

Congratulations to the winner: Nicole C.!

Sovereign, by Michael W. Smith (CD)

Congratulations to the winner: Lisa P.!

Come Out and Play Giveaway Hop: Konfidence Floatsuit ($39.99 Value)

Congratulations to the winner: J Ivy B.!

Wonder Horse, by Anita Daher

Congratulations to the winners: Mona C., Nikki H., Elizabeth C., Sharon E., Heather B., Nicole K., and Penny O.!

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom (paperback)

Congratulations to the winners: Deanna S., Susan W. and Melissa O.!

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Spotlight and Print Book Giveaway: "Stop Giving It Away," by Cherilynn Veland

Being caring and compassionate is important, but too many women allow the weight of others’ needs to press so hard on them that they find they often fail to speak up for what they want and need. And women do this all the time. It’s time for these women to stop worrying quite so much about everyone else—and start taking care of themselves.

In Stop Giving It Away, therapist Cherilynn Veland utilizes her twenty-plus years of counseling experience to untangle what binds so many women to other people’s needs, wants, and expectations, and to build a case for what these women can do to make changes that will help them live more fulfilling personal and professional lives. Stop Giving It Away is a personal toolkit to help readers recognize unhealthy behaviors, develop healthy relationship strategies, and set good personal boundaries.

About the Author:
Cherilynn Veland has worked extensively in psychiatric settings, child welfare agencies, domestic violence, sexual assault, and substance abuse treatment programs, and has consulted for corporate and employee assistance programs. A clinical social worker licensed through the State of Illinois to provide counseling for individuals, couples, and families, Veland holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Alabama and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers. She currently runs a successful therapy and counseling practice in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago. Connect with Cherilynn at,, and @cherilynnveland on Twitter.


One lucky winner will receive a print copy of Stop Giving It Away, by Cherilynn Veland. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on July 31, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received an electronic copy of this book as a thank-you for featuring it on my blog. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (June 27, 2015)

It's the last linky of June! I know we say this every year, but this summer is passing way too quickly! We actually received an email from our boys' middle school today ... just a reminder that the new school year is just around the corner. But for now, let's dwell on the present and enjoy the summer by entering to win some great prizes! Check out the giveaways listed on my right sidebar and in the linky below, and bookmark this page so you can come back throughout the week to see what's been added. If you're featuring a giveaway on your website, be sure to share it in the linky and let your social media friends/fans know about this page. Let's celebrate summer!

Enjoy High-Quality Coffee Delivered to Your Doorstep from Green Label Roasters

There is nothing better than a smooth cup of coffee in the morning, and Green Label Roasters can make sure that you never run out! With their subscription service, they’ll ship fresh, hand-picked coffees to your home or office so you’ll never run out of that much-needed and -appreciated cup of coffee. When you sign up, just let them know if you prefer a medium or dark roast, whole or ground, and they take care of the rest! And this is not mass-produced coffee. The quality is superb! Check out their selection process:

“Our expert roasters perform rigorous cuppings to sample the beans we source and ensure they are of the highest quality. Cupping is a coffee tasting technique used by roasters to evaluate the flavor profile and aroma of a coffee.

“Every aspect of the bean is measured and evaluated using a methodical, almost scientific, approach to ensure that all batches are graded in the same way for consistency. Both green and roasted beans are sampled side by side from the different regions we buy from. Samples are measured and tested using a highly controlled set of processes to determine taste, acidity, aftertaste and body of the roast.

“Our extensive selection process allows us to be confident that the coffee we send to you is the freshest and best tasting around.”

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sample some coffee from Green Label Roasters, and my husband and I both agreed that it was superior. It was smooth and smelled as wonderful as it tasted. We look forward to our morning coffee even more when we know it’s from Green Label Roasters.

For a limited time, you can receive an air-tight, vacuum-sealed container (shown at left) that is guaranteed to keep your coffee fresh. It even includes two free 2 oz. coffee bags! Valued at $25, you pay just $5.99 for packing and priority mail. We have one of these containers, and it really is ideal for keeping coffee fresh. You can literally hear the vacuum-seal when you close it up.

If you appreciate good coffee and want the convenience and reliability of having it delivered right to your home or office, head to and sign up for their subscription service. They have free returns after a week of order, free shipping for orders over $20, and even a gift service to send their delicious coffee to another coffee drinker in your life. Drink up!

P.S. Visit Green Label Roasters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product sample to facilitate my honest review.

SOPHi Nail Polish: Eco-Friendly, Natural, and Non-Toxic! (GIVEAWAY)

One thing that really bothers me about giving myself a manicure is the awful smell of the nail polish! It smells toxic to me, and it lingers in the house long after I’ve finished doing my nails. That’s why I was excited to learn about SOPHi nail polish. This eco-friendly nail polish is non-toxic, odorless, hypoallergenic, vegan and cruelty-free, as well as made in the USA. Best of all, it doesn’t stink! And the nail polish remover is just as odorless. SOPHi products are even safe to use during pregnancy.

I recently used SOPHi’s PRIME + SHINE + SEAL System, which means that it comes with a primer and a sealer for extra durability. I followed the directions to a T and used both the primer and sealer with several coats of polish, while drying each coat with a hair dryer. The color I used is called It’s a Girl Thing (shown at right). Here is the result! (My photography skills aren't great. These look even better in person!)

So pretty! There are 12 great colors available, including shades of red, pink, blue and purple! And if you’re the mom of a little girl and you love to do your nails together, be sure to pick up some Piggy Paint nail polish that is especially made for kids.

To learn more about the new SOPHi line (and Piggy Paint), locate a local retailer or make a purchase, visit You can also visit SOPHi on Twitter and Instagram and support this mom-invention by LIKING SOPHI on Facebook!


One lucky winner will receive a package of SOPHi and Piggy Paint products! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, July 10, 2015.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Moms Share Tips to Keep Your Marriage Strong After Baby

Post Wedding Life recently asked 17 moms (including me) to share their best tips and advice for a strong marriage after baby. I think you'll find their advice to be invaluable if you're expecting or have a new baby. Read the full article HERE!