Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Are you throwing away money?

My husband is amazing, people...amazing.  We've been married (almost) 9 years...been through a billion different life-changing experiences, and he's still holding on strong.  There have been a few stressful situations, for sure, but nothing we haven't been able to handle!

One such stressful situation is happening right now.  As I type, in fact, he's sitting on the couch next to me doing some crazy bio-statistics-type homework.  Homework.  Ick.  I miss college some days, but homework is one thing I certainly don't miss, and I am reminded of that nearly every day as we sit side by side on the couch, me playing on the computer, him doing his biology.

My husband is in college (again), working on a Biology degree, with certification in Bio-Tech (or something like that...I like to just say it's a Bio-Tech degree, but I guess it technically isn't).  He started college a million years ago as a Bio/Pre-Med student (we both did).  After 2 years of that fun, he felt a call to ministry, packed his bags, moved across the country, and got a degree in youth ministry!  Several years later, we're back at it.  Biology.  It' through all this together.  Or maybe stressful.  Or fun.  Whatever.

Do you know how many college textbooks we've purchased over the years?  Let's see...I have a BA in English education, and he has a BS in youth ministry AND 3/4 of a degree in Biology.  I'd say we've spent roughly...WAY too much money on textbooks.  Many of those books we were able to sell back to our school bookstores for a teensy fraction of the cost we paid to purchase them (even if we purchased them used).  Many of those books are sitting in boxes (and boxes...and boxes) in our garage, taking up much needed space.

Wouldn't it be great if there were a place college students could go to rent their college textbooks instead of having to buy them every semester??

There IS a place like that!

At CampusBookRentals, textbooks can be rented for 40-90% off the retail price! Not only that, but there is free shipping both ways, so you're not paying that expense either!  CampusBookRental BUYS textbooks, too!  If you have some lying around, it might just be worth your while to see if they'll buy them from you!

You can see an example here of how the pricing compares between buying Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections (7th Edition) on Amazon ($169.33) and renting the very same book from CampusBookRentals ($31.23 for a semester)!  If it's not a book you're SURE you want to keep, this is a great deal!

I know what you're thinking.  I did it too.  I wrote in my books.  I highlighted.  I USED my textbooks when I was in college!  (Don't tell my friends that, though.  It might ruin their image of me.)  I couldn't possibly have rented textbooks because they'd want them back the same way I received them!  Right?  WRONG!  With CampusBookRentals, it's okay to highlight!

It's risk-free to try it out.  You have 30 days to decide you don't need that book after all and send it back for a full refund!  This is an awesome deal, because seriously, how many times have you purchased a "required" book from the campus bookstore only to find out two weeks into class that you aren't really going to use that book anyway?  How many times have you gone to buyback with a brand new book, still in the plastic, and gotten $10 for it?  That's not going to be a problem with CampusBookRentals!  If you don't need them, simply send them back within the first 30 days!  Easy!

CampusBookRentals is a great place to get books without having to pay the costly bookstore fees!  Check it out!

As if the savings weren't enough, CampusBookRentals has partnered with Operation Smile, an organization that helps to pay for life-changing surgeries of children born with cleft lips and palates!  If you've been around a while, you know that craniofacial deformities are very near and dear to my heart.  This partnership with Operation Smile makes  A portion of the rental fee for EVERY book rented through CampusBookRentals will be donated to Operation Smile until they've paid for at least 1,000 surgeries!  This is an amazing, life-altering gift for children in need!  Thank you, CampusBookRentals and Operation Smile!

As you gear up to start the fall semester (it's coming sooner than you want to think) or summer semester if you're not taking the summer off like my husband is, please consider renting your textbooks through CampusBookRentals this year!  It'll save you a ton of money, save a few trees, and help to give a child a new life!

This post has been compensated by CampusBookRentals.  I have not used the program and can not give my personal opinions.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In the Car

This summer we're going to Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells.  We're super excited!  I'm the only one in our family that's been to the Dells, and none of us have ever been to a Great Wolf Lodge!  We couldn't be more ready for this trip!

Or yeah, maybe we could.

We have 3 kids.  Three little kids.  Little Lou's 6, Bugsy is 4, and Stinky is 2.  They're great ages for water park fun, but they're NOT great ages for road trip fun!  Just imagine it: three kids, packed door to door in carseats, in the backseat of a Ford Focus.  GoogleMaps tells us (as does Little Lou, almost daily) that it will take 7 hours and 18 minutes to get there.  That's roughly 8.5 "real world" hours, or 850 "virtual" hours if we hear "Are we there yet" with the frequency we did this last weekend on our hour and a half trip to Ohio!  So that sounds fun, right?

I WANT it to be fun, even the car trip part of it.  I really want it to be fun!!  

I need your help.  Your tips.  Your favorite travel products.  Your best "he's looking at me" solutions.  HELP!! I KNOW we've got some seasoned travelers around here.  (Maybe I'm just hopeful??)  Tell me what you do to keep the trip enjoyable for EVERYONE!

Thanks in advance for your ideas and tips! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Fever Giveaway! Catch it!!

It's Spring!  It's warm(ish) and dry(ish) and absolutely wonderful!  It's that time of year again when we pull on a sweatshirt instead of a coat, pull out the outdoor toys, and dust off the camping gear.  It's one of my favorite times of year!  (You know, right along with summer...or fall...or any day that isn't cold!)  My kids are getting bigger and warm weather is getting even more fun, because there is so much world out there for us to explore and enjoy!  I am so excited to get out there with them!  

If you've been following my posts this week, you know that I've got a whole host of gear to help you get out and get going this spring, and I'm going to give it all to one of you!  It's about $450 worth of stuff, and it's a GREAT package to start your spring strong!  So, without further adieu, my lucky winner's loot! (Please click the link and visit the sponsor spotlights!)

Prize 1:
ARV $25

Prize 2:
ARV $149.95

Prize 3:
$59.95 Value

Prize 4:
ARV $74.99

Prize 5:
ECOlunchbox Oval AND ECOlunchwrap
ARV $37

Prize 6:
Schwinn Throttle or Mist
ARV $101+

Enjoy, my friends!  I want to win this as much as you do, trust me!  Contest ends on 21st!  I'll draw a winner on the 22nd.  Good luck!

(Be sure to follow the linky after the Rafflecopter form to enter a bunch more awesome Spring Fever giveaways!)

I was given most of these products at no cost to me in order to facilitate reviews.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Spring Fever: Ride it out!

Last night we pulled up to my in-laws' house just in time to see our 8-year-old niece go zipping past the driveway on what was once my sister-in-law's bike.  There were 3 other kids (7 total kids once ours were added to the mix) playing on an assortment of bikes and ride-ons and scurrying around the front yard.  Crazy Mammaw actually says she likes it when the grandkids, which currently number 11 (with one of those still being on the inside), all come over to spend the night!

It fascinated me, though, to see that out of those 7 kids in the yard, there were 4 toys they were fighting over: a toddler push mower (note to self: Stinky loves mowing grass), an ancient pink "big wheel", a 14" bike with training wheels, and that bike my 8-year-old niece was streaking by on, a 20+ year old purple Schwinn bike!  There was so much yard to be traversed, yet those kids were all drawn to the bikes!  Why is that??  (Oh, and Mammaw seriously needs more bikes!)

So, I got to thinking.  Why do we ride bikes anyway?  I mean, when I was a kid I rode everywhere.  My sister and I used to ride the 5 miles into town just to buy an ice cream cone, and then ride home.  I can't imagine sending my own kids on a five mile trip, but if we ever live in the country like I did, and they're a little older like I was, I supposed I'd at least consider letting them!  Anyway, I'm sitting here pondering why anyone rides anyway.  It's really a lot more work than just jumping in the car, you know?  So what did I do?  I asked my old friend Swagbucks!  (I used to ask Google.  Then I learned I can earn actual MONEY by asking Swagbucks, and I've never looked back!)  Mr. Swagbucks has all sorts of ideas about why we ride!

We ride for our bodies!  I'm pretty sure you knew that.  It's great for your cardiovascular health.  In fact, according to a whole slew of websites, it's the best cardiovascular exercise out there.

We ride for convenience!  It's so much easier to find a parking spot, or to zip through "traffic" at a festival, or to  get through a traffic jam!  You never have to gas up on a bike.

We ride for savings.  Foot power doesn't cost $4 a gallon.  Gas power does!

We ride for the environment!  Since we don't have to gas up, we're also not spewing our toxins into the air every time we make a trip.  We don't have to dig out new paths for a bike.  Sure, it's easier to ride on the road or a trail, but we can really ride bikes anywhere, even through grass and rocks!

We ride for causes!  Many causes, like Bike MS, have riding events every year to help raise money for their research and patients.  It makes us feel good to ride for causes, like we are actually doing something--and we ARE actually doing something!  I can tell you with 100% certainty that even if your ride or your dollar seems miniscule in the wide scope of the event, it makes a huge difference in the mind of at least the one person you're supporting!  (If you want to donate to a cause, I'd love for you to drop a dollar or two into my WalkMS bucket!  You can read why here!)

We ride because it's FUN!  Nothing gives you the same exhilaration as the wind whipping through your hair on a long stretch of a good ride!  When you're a kid, it's a way to get to your friends' houses or the park or the ice cream store.  When you're an adult, it's a free way to clear your mind!  Nothing but you and the world.  Refreshing.


I want to throw this out there, though: ride responsibly and teach your kids to do the same.

Maybe it wasn't irresponsible, but when I was a kid we didn't wear helmets and knee or elbow pads.  I'm pretty sure they weren't as big of a "thing" as they are now.  People, teach your kids to wear helmets!  It's so much safer!  PLEASE make sure your bike is the right fit!  

If you're not sure how to get a good fit on a bike helmet, visit Schwinn.  They have a great tutorial! We're actually trying right now to figure out a good trip for Bugsy.  His cranial reconstructions have given him a very oddly shaped head! 

Learn how to signal a turn!  They'll need to know the information for driver's ed someday anyway, but teach your kids to signal turns!  My parents taught us to signal.  Do the drivers around us know what we're doing when we're motioning?  Some do.  Doesn't matter, though.  We're doing what we can to keep ourselves safe.  Schwinn has tons of tips about bicycle safety.

Make sure you and your kids are riding the correct size bikes!  There are different sizes, as much for ease of ride as for safety.

 My 3 kids are all different sizes, and according to the Schwinn website, they should all ride different sizes of bikes!  Stinky is so little Schwinn says he should ride a 12 inch bike, but on the 12 inch bike at our house, he can't even begin to reach the pedals yet.  He'll be there soon, because I'm pretty sure he's going to grow.  Bugsy needs a 16 inch Schwinn bike.  He doesn't have a Schwinn, though, and the hand-me-down he was given a couple weeks ago works for him.  It's a 14 incher.  Little Lou's "size" is a 20 inch.  She actually owns an 18 inch bike, but it's probably a little small for her.  Good grief!  She's only 6!  How can she need a 20 inch bike??


When you're looking for a bike this summer, be sure to check out Schwinn!  Not only can you look at the great variety of Schwinn bikes, they have SO many tutorials and tips!  Even if you have a bike, it's definitely worth perusing Schwinn's trusted website!


I know some of you are looking for bikes this summer.  You're going to want to stick around next week!  Starting at midnight tonight, you'll have a chance at winning one of Schwinn's kids' bikes!  You even get to choose whether you want a bike for a boy or a girl!  These bikes are very cute, and Schwinn is a very trusted name in bikes!  Check these out:

Introducing: Schwinn Throttle

·         Sturdy steel freestyle frame
·         Coaster brake w/front & rear caliper brakes for stopping power
·         1-Piece crank w/cutout chain wheel gives freestyle feel
·         Fan spoke wheels w/painted rims for custom look
·         Handlebar pad for safety
·         Printed saddle adds style
·         $101.95 on  

and Schwinn Mist!

·         Schwinn girls low stand-over frame for easy starting
·         Coaster brake w/front& rear caliper brakes stops securely
·         1-Piece crank with steel chain guard adds durability
·         Colored rims w/ knobby tires for stability
·         Custom handlebar bag offers convenience
·         Quick release saddle to easily adjust seat height
        Also available on!

Schwinn will be giving away the choice of these two bikes to my super DUPER lucky Spring Fever prize package winner!  Be watching!!

I was not compensated in any way for this post.  All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Fever: Eat it up!

In January of this year, I told my hubby that he needed to start taking lunch to work each day, rather than continuing to eat out.  I figured it'd save us a ton of money, and likely save him even more calories!  I started packing up some "leftovers" before we eat dinner each night, and sending them along with him in the mornings.  I can't really attest to the calorie savings (although I'm sure it's there), but I keep track of the bank account and I KNOW there's a difference there!!  

When we first started the lunch-taking endeavor, we were using a lot of plastic baggies and the like.  There was a ton of disposable trashiness going on, and frankly I got tired of it!  I began a quest for GOOD reusable containers.  I found a few I liked and a lot I didn't really care for.

Then spring came.  We picnic a lot in the spring.  We're used to taking our sandwiches in, you guessed it, plastic baggies!  We take our baby carrots in...plastic baggies.  Our grapes?  Uh huh.  You get the picture.  


So, the search began again!  I found myself on the hunt for something reusable, sustainable, responsible.  Something that would pack easily and stack nicely in a picnic tote.  Something that would be great for the hubby's every day lunch use, but adaptable for family use come picnic time.

What I found was ECOlunchbox!  ECOlunchboxes are great little bentos made of non-toxic stainless steal!  They're oval or rectangular or round or square.  ECOlunchboxes are washable fabric wraps, sacks, pouches, and napkins.  They're bamboo or stainless steal "sporks."  They're exactly what I was looking for!

You all might think I'm crazy, but I LOVE the ECOlunchwrap!  What a neat idea!  It's a 24"x24" square of fair-trade, hand-printed, BPA-free fabric.  It's machine washable.  It's convenient.  It's easy to use.  Not to mention you just look cute carrying your little wrap full of yummy stuff!  This might sound a little crazy, but I love that I can actually use the lunchwrap as a napkin!  I don't have to carry a napkin along, because it's washable fabric and I can just use it, wrap it back with the mess on the inside, and take it home to wash it!  It's not super practical for a family picnic unless each family member carries one, but for lunch at work (or a kids' lunchbox!) it's perfect.

I have a thing about food storage containers.  I sort of "collect" them.  Ask my hubby.  We have two cabinets overflowing with them.  I actually asked my mother-in-law for storage containers for Christmas one year!  I have one VERY strict rule about my containers: they have to be dishwasher-safe!  (I know, I know, there are many many more important things, but we all have our priorities, right?)  My ECOlunchbox Oval is absolutely dishwasher safe, as is the small round cup that comes inside and its lid!  Score one for ECOlunchbox!

The containers are lead-free stainless steel, and the plastic lid for the small cup is BPA-free!  Score two for ECOlunchbox!

I have to be honest, I was a little concerned about putting food in the containers and then putting them in hubby's lunch cooler.  They said the cup won't leak, but would it really?  I put some water in it, turned it upside-down, shook it, rolled it across the kitchen floor (no kidding) and it didn't leak a bit!  So, I figured we'd be safe.  We have been totally safe!  

My hubby doesn't seem to mind at all unsnapping the sides of the oval...or at least if it bugs him he's never said anything about it.  I actually think the metal clasps are easier to open than a plastic container's lid can sometimes be!  The lid of the small cup seals really tightly, but there haven't been any complaints about that, either.  (That's what keeps all that moisture inside!)  What hubby has complained about is that I like to put a sandwich in the oval, and it's a pretty tight fit.

(I promise you, the bread was already squished, thanks to Stinky who squishes my bread at the grocery EVERY week!)

I understand that if you cut a sandwich in half it'll fit stacked with room for other yummy goodness, but hubby doesn't want his sandwiches cut.  He just has to wiggle the sandwich out.  No biggie!

I really like the ECOlunchbox oval for salads, though!  

I love that I can secure a good amount of salad in the oval, and then put exactly as much dressing as I need in the cup!  I'm not worried the lettuce will get soggy from dressing, and I'm not worried the dressing will leak!  In fact, hubby's cooler isn't exactly the right shape to hold the oval laying down, so I stand it on end.  The cup typically has to go on its side next to the oval.  Still, no leaks...ever!

(Yes, there is a plastic sandwich container in there as well.  I haven't been able to completely change over my stock...yet!)

Isn't that a nicely organized cooler?  If you know me, you know I love organization!

ECOlunchboxes have changed the way I am thinking about food storage and transport.  I really love them!  I'd love a cabinet full!  (Or two...who's counting?)  

Do you want some of your own?  You can purchase the ECOlunchbox oval from ECOluncbox for $22, and for another $15, throw in a reusable ECOlunchwrap!  You won't need to buy plastic baggies anymore, and you won't have to carry your lunch in an old grocery sack!

One of you is going to be super lucky next week and win your very own set!  You'll get to carry your own ECOlunchbox oval to work in your very own ECOlunchwrap!  Will it be you?  You can't enter if you don't win!  Be watching on Sunday!

I was given this item at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Spring Fever: Take shelter!

Every once in a while I get a wild hair and we throw out the dinner plans, slap together a few peanut butter sandwiches, and head outside to eat.  I am the queen of forgetfulness, though.  What typically happens is we get to our destination, only to discover that mommy forgot to pack a blanket, or sunscreen, napkins, or even plates!   We’re left to eat off our laps in the grass, and if we’re lucky I’ve brought along the diaper bag and we can clean up with baby wipes.  It’s a little frustrating and annoying, but hey, it’s life!

This year, though, when we hit the yard, or the park…campground…beach…sprinkler park…we won’t have to worry as much!  This year, we’ll be able to sit and eat in the shade!  This year, we’ll be using the LightSpeed Quick Cabana tent!

I can hear our questions.  How is that going to solve any of my problems?   Isn’t that just one more thing to forget  remember? 

Yes, yes it is.  But it’s really one of the most important things to remember!

The Quick Cabana tent sets up super quickly.  

Less than a minute, no joke.  It takes a teensy bit longer to set up if you’re short, but it’s still quick and easy!  (I stand on my front step when I’m setting it up in my yard.)  If we’re picnicking at the park, I can quickly set it up before I even get the kids out of the car…OR while they’re all getting unloaded!  It’s that quick!

I know it doesn’t sound like a huge deal to some of you, but I often forget to bring a blanket.  We’re scouring the park for benches or a log or a smooth patch of grass.  Not anymore though, because the LightSpeed Quick Cabana tent has a floor!  Not just a small floor either!  There’s a floor big enough that all 5 of us can sit on the floor of the tent, and if we want we can even sit on camping chairs on the tent floor!

I told you I don’t always remember plates.  The truth is, I pretty much never remember plates.  We’re left eating our sandwiches and fruit slices and pretzels (or whatever) off our knees!  Remember that floor I was telling you about?  It’s wipeable!  When we finish a picnic, we can sweep it out and wipe it down and we're good to go!  If (when) I forget the plates, we're fine to just eat right off the tent floor!  (It's definitely not idea, but people, when you're eating in the great outdoors, nothing's inherently clean, you know?)

One of my favorite features of the LightSpeed Quick Cabana tent is shade!  I don't know about your house, but at my house there's one tree.  At the park we visit there are a couple of picnic tables, but they're kind of graffiti covered and nasty.  Shade is pretty sparse.  The Quick Cabana fixes that problem!  We just position it so that the sun is behind the tent, and we're good to go!  

The kids LOVE the windows!  It's nice to have a breeze blow through the picnic anyway, but they love that they can open the windows themselves.  The just roll up and hook with little hooks and buttons.  They provide a nice spot for a view or a breeze, but are able to be closed when mom and dad get tired of the wind! 

All in all, the LightSpeed Quick Cabana tent is a great little tent.  There's not room for an adult to stand up in it (my hubby's biggest complaint) and it's like a cave, so there's no door or anything.  A zippered flap would be kind of nice, but it is great and functions exactly as it's supposed to the way it is!  

We really enjoy the LightSpeed Quick Cabana tent, which you can buy from Sam's Club or Amazon!  It's currently $64.28 from either retailer, but the regular price is $74.99!  Particular if you are an avid camper or regular picnicker, you'll love the easy and shelter of the LightSpeed Quick Cabana tent!

Do you LOVE the Quick Cabana tent?  Wanna win one?  Be watching next week for your chance!

I received this product at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Fever: Itchy itchy scratchy scratchy!

A Flea! 
(A Flea!)

A Flea, a fly!
(A Flea, a fly!)

Flea, fly mosquito!
(Flea, fly, mosquito!)

Itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy, ooh I've got one down my backy!
(Itchy, itchy, scratchy, scratchy, ooh I've got one down my backy!)

Beat that big bad bug with the bug spray!


That's right.  I was a Girl Scout (albeit briefly) and I went to day camp.  We sang this little ditty as we were walking.  I don't know why I remember it.  I was probably 6.  It's in my head, though, so you needed to hear it!

This year, spring sprung early!  It did here, anyway, with temperatures in the upper 80s in March!  That might now sound all that crazy to you, but our averages in March are in the 40s.  It was bizarre!  (Very, very welcome, but also bizarre!)  The problem with warm weather, though, is that for some reason, all the bugs think it's time to come out of hiding.

I don't know how it is at your house, but at my house, we've got a bit of bug-loving going on...AND a bit of bug-phobia going on!  My boys could sit and watch ants crawl all day.  Bugsy loves hunting roly-polies in the back yard.  (He's staked out a great spot in an old log!)  He'll even pick up spiders--SPIDERS--with his bare hands and move them somewhere else!  Little Lou, though, could see a bug three counties over and come running, panicked, with a desperate need to be inside.  NOW.

Many of you probably remember last year at this time when I talked about Selestial Soap and their awesome detergent and bleach alternative.  People, it's awesome, but it doesn't keep bugs away.  

What DOES keep bugs away is Selestial Sun's newest product, I'll Fly Away!

I'll Fly Away is brand new.  SO new, in fact, that you can't even buy it on the Selestial Sun website yet!  You're not going to be able to find many reviews about it, because it just hasn't started circulating yet, but you might as well just take my word for it.  It works!

As I said, Little Lou has a fear of anything that buzzes.  She runs, literally runs, from mosquitoes!  Most years we would have a bit of time yet before we had to worry too much about the little pests, but this year, they're already out in force, especially in the evening--and especially when we're having a cookout.  I'm so glad we have I'll Fly Away on hand this year!  

I mentioned yesterday that I hate putting chemicals into my kids' bodies.  I also hate putting chemicals ONto my kids' bodies, because I know that whatever is ON their skin is going to soak in!  Bug sprays and sunscreens, while very helpful in the spring and summer months, are so chemical laden I'm hesitant to use them because of the chemical leeching I'm sure their little bodies are experiencing!  Selestial Soap has solved that problem, at least on the bug spray front, with I'll Fly Away, a natural insect repellent!

When you first use I'll Fly Away, you'll likely notice a strong cinnamon smell.  At first I wasn't sure I liked the smell, but it grew on me very quickly.  It's that cinnamon that deters the critters!  Who knew??  (Well, that and the combination of other ingredients Selestial Soap uses.)

I'll Fly Away will be available on the Selestial Soap website very soon, for just $11.99 for a 9 oz bottle!  That's a fantastic deal for a natural, safe bug spray!  Your kids are worth every penny of it!

Don't want to wait for I'll Fly Away to hit the virtual "shelves?"  You don't have to!  Be watching on Sunday to enter to win your very own I'll Fly Away straight from Selestial Soap...but not a 9 oz bottle of it!  Nope...FIVE 9 oz bottles of it!  You'll be set for spring!

I was given this product at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Fever: Spring is Messy!

Have I ever told you I have kids?  I do!  Three of 'em!  Two boys and a girl.  Three boys and a girl, if you count the 4-legged boy!

We've already established, of course, that my house is completely spotless nearly 100% of the time.  Or not.  I'll let you believe whichever.  Just promise to give me at least a 30 minute notice before you show up on my doorstep, okay?  Not that I need it, of course.  You know, it's just common courtesy.  And for real, if I'm going to whip up a fresh batch of cookies for you, I'd like to be able to use that 30 minutes to at least sweep up the flour dust...

What?  You don't believe me?  I thought I was pretty convincing!

In real life, though, I live in a small house in a small town in Indiana.  We don't have room for such luxuries as a mud room...except for in months like April when our whole house is pretty much a mud room!  If you've ever lived in this area, you understand.  April showers really DO bring May flowers!  (Except, of course, for this year, when March showers brought April flowers.  But whatever.)  So, I'm left mopping my kitchen floor EVERY day, vacuuming the floor more than once most days, and feeling like this:

( sister left this gem on my camera!)

Do you know how frustrating it is when the minute you finish mopping, which even in my small kitchen takes a good 45 minutes or so, someone (2 legs or 4, it makes no difference) goes stomping across the sparkling wet floor and leaves a mess of muddy paw prints?  If you don't know that feeling, you're probably not the one that mops at your house.  Go get that person and bring them back here to read this.  Go ahead, I'll wait...

Hi there!  I hear you're the one that mops the floor at your house!  That's fantastic.  Let me tell you something that happens on occasion at my house.  I mop my kitchen floor.  I do.  At least once a week, usually more...and right now, as I've already mentioned, almost daily.  The floors as clean as I can get it with a mop and bucket and a bit of Lysol.  Every once in a while, my toddler drops a bit of food on the floor.  Believe it or not, sometimes that little guy picks up the crumbs sooner than I can get to him to stop him!  

Imagine, for a minute, a sweet blond 2-year-old eating crackers at the table while his mommy mops.  With Lysol.  Imagine that sweet little boy drops a cracker onto the wet floor, and before mommy can get to the cracker, that little sweetie has picked up and eaten the Lysol-ed cracker!  I don't think that tiny amount of chemical nastiness is probably going to hurt him, but still it bothers me to think about him eating cleaning products!

This is one of the main reasons I am SO thankful for Haan!  Haan has a line of residential steamers to fit a wide range of needs, including the needs of my crumb cruising toddler!

If ever there was a time of year that floors could get messy, I'd say it would be springtime.  Spring is messy. Let's face it.  We've been cooped up inside all winter.  It's warming up and we are desperate to get outside and enjoy the change of pace!  Spring is wet, though, and the grass hasn't grown to cover all of the winter's muddiness just yet.  If you love the messiness of spring outside, but are disgusted by it inside, look no further than Haan!

They have a variety of products, as I mentioned, from hand steamers to garment steamers to floor steamers! Brand new this season is the Haan Total, a great multi-purpose floor sweeper!  

The Haan Total isn't a steamer.  It isn't a vacuum.  It's amazing!  

This sweeper/steamer can be used on tile floors and carpeted floors.  It can be used to sweep up a cheerio mess or mop the spill of a cup-training toddler.  It'll steam urine out of your carpet!  (Uh...not that I know from experience...okay, okay, I do.  Stinky's potty training and the Total has been a life saver!)

I love that the sweeper and steamer can be turned on to run simultaneously!  It's never been easier to clean my kitchen floor.  I can just kick the kids outside, heat up the Haan Total (it only takes 20 seconds for the steamer to be ready!) and sweep, mop, AND sanitize the kitchen floor in about 10 minutes!  The best thing about sanitizing the kitchen floor with the Haan Total is that when Stinky drops his crackers onto the freshly cleaned floors and then eats them, he's eating--get this--WATER!  That's right!  The Haan Total cleans with hot water!  And it does it well!

The Haan Total is super easy to put together, too.  It comes looking like this:

But no kidding, the whole thing just snaps together, in about a minute, and you have this:

It's easy to put together, sweeps and mops well, and is very intuitive (if you know how to use a vacuum cleaner, at least).

The only problem I've had with the Haan Total is that if the floor is really "hairy," like when you've been too busy to clean the bathroom floor for a few days, you really need to run the sweeper function and then run the steamer.  Otherwise dog hair will mix with the water from the steamer and collect in your corners!  Remember to run the sweeper function first, though, and you don't have a bit of a problem!

Haan has made a really great product with the Total!  It does exactly what it's made to do.  It's lightweight and portable, and moves easily into corners and under furniture.  I'd highly recommend the Haan Total, particularly to anyone who has children or pets or who ever ventures outside in the spring and then comes back in!

Do you want to try the Haan Total yourself?  You can order your very own from HaanUSA for $149.95!  It's a great deal for this multi-purpose tool!  Haan has also agreed to give one of my lucky readers a Haan Total of your very own in my Spring Fever giveaway, which starts on Sunday!  Be watching!

I was given this product at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Fever: Walk it off!

Almost a year ago I reviewed a pedometer.  A really nice pedometer.  A Fitbit pedometer.  Several months later, I reviewed their "new improved" version as well.  I love it.  I wear it every day.  I catch myself, several times a day, pushing the button to see how many steps I've taken.  Some days it's a lot, some days not so much.  I'm not going to embarrass you by telling you how awesome I am today, but let's just say you'd be blown away...or not!

Shortly after I received the pedometer, my kids started asking me randomly throughout the day how many steps I'd taken!  I'll tell you what, nothing's more of a motivation than having your kid ask how well you're doing...except giving that same kid a pedometer of her own!  About a month ago we received a GeoPalz pedometer in the mail for Little Lou to test out!  I thought it'd be a super fun Spring activity to start a little "contest" between the two of us to see who walks further on an average day: a 1st grader or her stay at home mom!

GeoPalz are super cute kid-sized pedometers, built to encourage kids to get moving!  Encourage they do!  Little Lou loves wearing her pedometer!  She especially loves that most days (when she remembers to wear it...which is most days) she walks more steps than I do.  She loves the cute design.  She also loves showing it off to her friends at school!

I love that it has a cover, so Little Lou doesn't accidentally hit the buttons while she's playing and reset it or change any of its settings!

The GeoPalz pedometer is pretty thin, so it doesn't get in her way when she's running, climbing, playing...being a 6 year old!

GeoPalz also has a really good website, where you can not only log your own steps, but those of your family members as well!  My Fitbit monitor links to the GeoPalz site, so it can automatically upload my steps!  It's a really neat program.  We have had occasional "glitches" on the website, but nothing terribly major, and they've all been rectified!

One of Little Lou's favorite things about GeoPalz is that for every mile she walks, she earns a "point."  Those points add up, and she can pick prizes!  We haven't ordered any prizes yet, but she is SO excited to do that!

The one thing I don't like about the GeopPalz pedometer is that the clip hold SO tightly that it's really hard to get onto some clothes.  I love that it holds tightly.  It makes me feel more secure that the pedometer isn't going to fall off of her waistband during a day of play.  Little Lou just gets tired of standing still while I struggle to get it onto her pants!

Would I recommend the GeoPalz pedometer?  I've considered cashing in some of my swagbucks to get an amazon giftcard to buy one for Bugsy!  I would most definitely recommend it!  I love that, from a very early age, it encourages kids (and families)! to get moving!

Want to win your very own GeoPalz pedometer?  Stay tuned on Sunday...there'll be a GeoPalz pedometer (ARV $25) up for grabs as a part of my AMAZING Spring Fever package!

I was given this product at no cost to me in order to facilitate a review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Spring Fever!!

I LOVE Spring and Fall!  They are, by far, my favorite seasons.  Right now I am sitting in my livingroom in jeans and a sweatshirt.  The only thing that would make it better is if I were outside in the sunshine, but Stinky's sleeping and I don't like to be outside for very long while the kids are napping!

I love that springtime encourages playing outdoors.  We've been cooped up all winter and we are busting at the seams, here, waiting for the doors and windows to be thrown open so everyone can run!  This year, God's been good (as always) and we've had strings and strings of nice, warm, sunny days!  We've been playing outside since late February!  Winter coats have been packed away for several weeks now.  We're super excited to just be together in the great outdoors!

Are you ready for Spring too?  What's your favorite springtime activity?

I'll be showcasing a few of our favorites over the next few days, along with some GREAT products to not only help you have fun, but to stay clean, safe, and dry while you're enjoying the springtime sunshine!  Are you ready??

Thursday, April 5, 2012

We Bought a Zoo! (And had a fun family night!)

Did you know I love getting good deals?  I do!  Did you also know I love spending time with my little family?  I do!  And when I can marry the two together?  Love that!

We Bought a Zoo came out on video this week!  We hadn't seen it yet, but had been anxious to!  We were waiting for it to come to the Redbox, but then found that it was on sale everywhere and couldn't wait!  I visited Walmart to get a copy right away on Tuesday!

I was expecting there to be a big display that was easy to find, but there was not.  The movies were just on the regular shelf, no fanfare!  I had read online that they were on sale, but when I got to the store they weren't signed as such.  No problem, though, they really WERE on sale!  The Blu-Ray combo pack was just $22.96!  We love having the digital copy!

We couldn't do "pizza and movie night" like we usually do, because it wasn't Friday, so I got some snacks to go along with the movie. I bought some Del Monte fruit cups to make a relatively healthy dessert for the humans (you can find a $0.50 off coupon in First for Women!), and some Del Monte branded dog treats for the canine family member, because #iLovemyK9! Harrison, our black lab, loves both Milkbones and Pup-Peroni treats, so he was a lucky dog! I'd heard that there were $4 off coupons for the movie on some of the dog snacks (when you bought 2 snacks), but I couldn't find them in my store. :( Hopefully you can find them in yours! You can find more about Del Monte pet snacks in Women's World and Parade magazines! I bought some training wheels for Bugsy, too. He was SO excited! (You can read more about our shopping experience here!)

The Blu-Ray combo version came with not only the digital copy, but there's also a free child's zoo admission!  We haven't looked into that yet, but we will!

So, we settled in with our movie and our yummy treats, and got ready for a fun evening!

The kids were loving the movie, but we hit the halfway point and Mommy decided it was time for a snack, so we broke out the desserts and chowed down!  We all loved the Del Monte fruit/jellow/marshmallow dessert!  And then it was back to the movie!

I know what some of you are thinking.  I can hear your thoughts, you know.  You're thinking, "We saw We Bought a Zoo at the theater, and it has a LOT of language.  It is not appropriate for those little kids!"  I agree.  You're 100% right.  We didn't see it in the theater, but I read online that the language was questionable, so The Daddy and I previewed it on Tuesday (the day it came out!) and decided that IF it was appropriate for the kids, we'd show it on Wednesday.  The reviews we'd read were right.  there was quite a bit of foul language for a PG movie!  There were also a few bits where the themes were questionable and there was one particular hand-drawn image early on that was a bit graphic and scary. 


We Bought a Zoo DVDs and Blu-Rays have something I've never seen on another movie!  They have a "Family Friendly Audio" option!  You can choose to watch the movie the "normal" way, with the regular audio, or you can choose to switch into family friendly mode, where they've taken out the bad words!  Personally, I think if you can make the movie without the bad words you should, but that's just me.  We were able to switch into family friendly mode and show the movie to the kids!

We all really enjoyed We Bought a Zoo!  The Daddy said, "The cool thing is, we get to KEEP this one!"  The story was a bit above the kids in a lot of spots.  There were some themes and innuendos that they (thankfully) didn't understand at all.  Overall, though, it was a perfect family movie!  (I think the kids mostly liked the idea of living at a zoo!  I already live at a zoo, so I paid more attention to the story.)

We Bought a Zoo is a great movie with a great message!  I'm inspired to find my own 20 seconds of courage!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBiasAll opinions are my own.