8/30/13

Coping with Back to School Resistance

The first day of school is always exciting and a little nerve-wracking, not just for the parents but also for the kids. A few tears may fall during the first week of separation, but eventually children quickly acclimate to a new school year. But what do you do when your child all of sudden refuses to go to school? Should you drag them out of bed and force them to go? Back to school resistance can be the cause of many frustrating mornings filled with temper tantrums, stalling in the bathroom, and slow eating at the breakfast table. What are parents to do?

First, you should find out the cause of the resistance to attend school. Could it be that your child is being bullied by peers? Could it be that a teacher embarrassed them in front of the entire class? Could it be that your child's lunchbox isn't cool enough or that someone found out your child is on the free lunch program? Maybe your child is behind the rest of the class in reading or math? Maybe your child's hidden disability showed its face during class and now insecurity has set in? It's time to sit down, parents and child together, and get to the root of whatever is causing the distress. Ashley Tutors has a great resource quiz called "How ready are you for the new school year?" and it takes just minutes to complete the nine questions. Helping your child to pinpoint the problem is the first step in helping them find a solution. Then together, you can find a solution, which may include a conference with the teacher or principal, speaking with your child's doctor, finding a tutor, or maybe even as simple as showing empathy and understanding to your child.

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Puff's Fresh Faces - Review

Disclosure: I received products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
If you're familiar with the children's product called Boogie Wipes, then you're going to love this new product! Puff's Fresh Faces are built on the same high-quality foundation of moist saline wipes. To take the concept beyond just yucky noses, the new Puff's Fresh Faces are designed for adults (YAY!) and ALL the stuff our face has to face.
I've used them in several ways over the past few weeks and simply love them. Puff's Fresh Faces are excellent for removing makeup. They work wonders as an after-workout facial refresher and even as a daily cleanser. When it's hot and humid outside, they help to cool the skin and remove dirt and oils. They also, of course, are exactly what I need for big sneezes and yucky mucus from colds, allergies, and the dreaded flu. Puff's Fresh Faces come in Fresh Scent, Light Lavender, with a touch of Vicks, and Fragrance-Free. As a seasonal allergy sufferer, I'm so glad they make these saline wipes for adults (because I felt a bit silly using the grape-scented Boogie Wipes).
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Find Puff's Fresh Faces at Target stores nationwide!

Escape to Aruba, One Happy Island

This post brought to you by Aruba Tourism Authority. All opinions are 100% mine.

Now that the children are grown, we've set our sights on fabulous ways to experience this new life. One of the places we're dreaming of visiting is the island of Aruba. It's one happy island that contains everything you need and more for a fabulous vacation escape.
The beaches of Aruba offer visitors opportunities to relax and lounge, read a good book, soak up some rays, or swim in the turquoise Caribbean waters. After fully relaxing, it will be time to experience the excitement of snorkeling to see coral formations and maybe even do some windsurfing in the beautiful sunshine.
Horseback riding along Aruba's many beaches is definitely on my list of things to do. Perhaps we'll spend challenging day hiking through twenty miles of rugged trails in Airkok National Park to see the rock formations and Indian caves. Or maybe we'll take a comfortable air-conditioned motor coach tour across the entire island of Aruba.
The culinary scene of Aruba travel shows visitors the cultural melting pot of the island. The combination of exquisite, diverse foods prepared by world-class chefs and fine international wines is just what we need to start an evening of fun night-life. We can dance to live music, see carnival shows, visit the many stores and hit the casinos to test our luck. There is even a barhopping bus! With so much to do, we'll need to stay about a week to see everything.
Visit www.aruba.com to see all the fabulous activities, events, resorts and restaurants, and start planning your getaway too! What would you do first on Aruba? Be sure to like them on Facebook and check out their awesome Aruba Travel Guide app and special deals.
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T-fal Ultraglide Easycord Iron - Review

Disclosure: I received this product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
Every family needs an iron. If you're like me, you're not particularly fond of ironing. I go out of my way to purchase clothing that I can toss in the washer and dryer, then hang it until I wear it. On the other hand, I also tend to purchase budget curtains and drapes, which requires me to iron all the wrinkles out of them.
This T-fal Ultraglide Easycord 4446 Iron is the ultimate dream of an iron (other than having a hired laundry person to do everything for me). It's easy to use, easy to fill with water, and easy to clean. It's got a super booster of steam and even does vertical steam.
I love the wide, extra-stable heel because I've knocked one or two irons off the ironing board in my lifetime and it's not pretty. It's also very lightweight and glides easily across a variety of fabrics without pulling. One of my favorite features is the cord support that holds the cord up when the iron is horizontal. I no longer have to worry the cord is going to wrinkle what I just ironed!
The soleplate is specially designed to provide optimal steam diffusion. It super durable and even comes with a limited lifetime guarantee. I used this iron and my old iron to compare results and this iron wins by a landslide. The old iron is now donated to the second-hand store. I love this T-fal iron and definitely recommend it! It's available at Target nationwide for just $39.99.
Tips to Improve Your Ironing Skills Courtesy of T-fal:
  1. Ironing will be easier and faster if the items are not too dry. If they are, lightly spray with water ten minutes before ironing.
  2. Make sure to sort out the laundry accordingly – read the labels carefully so that you can easily work up from the coolest to the hottest temperature and avoid ruining a garment.
  3. Test whether your water is hard by putting a spoonful of soap flakes into a bowl with two cups of water and mix vigorously. If bubbles appear that means your water is soft. (Fun fact: T-fal steam irons and stations are specially designed to use tap water- their construction resists scale, whatever the water hardness.)
  4. If you are unsure about ironing a particular item, test a hidden part of the fabric with the tip of your iron.
  5. When ironing delicate or dark items, place a clean towel or press cloth between fabric and iron. For black dresses or trousers, use the steam setting with the iron touching the fabric.

Ruby's Rockets Frozen Fruit and Veggie Pops - Review and Giveaway

Disclosure: I received products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
It's a constant battle to get kids to eat nutritious foods. Especially when it comes to vegetables. But offer them some ice pops and they'll eat three of them right before dinner. Ruby's Rockets are ice pops made from healthy, home-grown fruits and vegetables! Now moms and kids both win!
Ruby's Rockets ice pops are sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, GMO-free, and fat-free. There are no artificial colors or artificial flavors, plus they are great sources of essential vitamins and they contain probiotics. At just 25-35 calories per ice pop, even grownups can (and will) enjoy them!
Ruby's Rockets come in three flavors - Orbit Orange, Rock-It Red, and Galaxy Green. Orbit Orange is flavored with orange, lemon, strawberry, sweet potato, and carrots. Rock-It Red is flavored with sweet potato, beet, carrot, strawberry and lemon. Galaxy Green is flavored with kiwi, spinach, avocado, and lemon.
My favorite is the Galaxy Green, but they are all delicious. They are also kid-approved according to the kids in my neighborhood who helped me sample them. They are available at select grocery stores and you can also purchase them online at rubysrockets.com. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter, then enter below to win a free box of each flavor!
Four Winners will each win Three Boxes of Ruby's Rockets!
To enter, just fill in the easy Rafflecopter form below. You must be at least 18 years old and reside in the USA. Giveaway ends at midnight on 9/15/2013. Good luck!

Guest Room Makeover featuring Lakeside Collection #DIY

Disclosure: I received products at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
These beautiful quilts from The Lakeside Collection are my inspiration for this makeover. When we moved into our new empty nest home, two of our three kids were still living with us, waiting for their first year of college to start. Over the past two weeks, both boys have moved into their dorms and I decided to do some rearranging and decorating. Our empty nest home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Since we have three grown kids and are hoping they all show up for Christmas, I needed to set up the two guest bedrooms to sleep my sons and my daughter. We reassembled the two twin beds from each room into the original bunkbeds that we purchased about 15 years ago.
First off is the room for the boys. There was already a desk and nightstand in the room, so I kept those in the room, then swapped out a tall dresser in the room for a wide, short one so I could have the tall one in the master bedroom because it matches our bed and nightstand.
My challenge was to make this guest room comfortable enough for the boys to stay in the same room when they are home for visits. Since they are both living with roommates in the dorm, I figured it wouldn't be much of a stretch for them to share here.
The dresser is big enough to pack a few days worth of clothing into the drawers. It's also pretty close to the color of the bunkbeds. Since the top bunk railing and ladder are many years gone, the sturdy little nightstand is the perfect step up to the top bunk (I discovered this when I went to make up the beds).
The quilts from Lakeside Collection are beautifully made and provided the base colors for making over the room. They offer a warm, inviting combination of browns, greens, reds and blues, so I paired the quilts with light grey sheets for a contrast. I've decided I definitely need to order the window valance that matches the quilts.
I love the "cabin feeling" these quilts give to the room! I've added a few details to the room since one of the boys is visiting this weekend, but I'm still trying to choose the wall hangings for the room. In the meantime, I added the musical instruments since the desk and chair are black, to balance that color across the room.
The area rug from our previous family room is now in this guest room too. The colors are black, brown, and tan, with a touch of bluish-grey, plus the swirl pattern in the area rug softens the right angles of the bunkbeds and the quilts.
The underside of the quilts is a soft, silky poly/cotton blend and the Vermicelli stitching on the quilts adds a luxurious touch. They are machine washable so I don't have to worry about special fabric care when visitors depart, which makes my life much easier.
These quilts allow me the opportunity to decorate the room with rich, warm tones that the boys will love. I decided my beloved moose statue was essential to the cabin look of the room, so he is now perched on the dresser next to a basket of books. I also added an artificial orchid in a small terra cotta planter. So, what do you think of the makeover? What would you add to the walls?
You can purchase these beautiful bedding sets from Lakeside Collection, as well as hundreds of great items for your bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, garden, and even your garage. They also offer toys, electronics, sports, baby items, apparel, and holiday products. You can find exclusive items that will help you easily make over any room of your home at an affordable price.

Caught Stealing! Throwback Thursday #tbt

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Caught Stealing!

My family often camped at a Missouri campground. It was the place of many wonderful childhood memories. And a few bad memories. One of the times that is clearly imprinted in my mind is when I was probably about seven years old. The campground had lots of things for campers to do. There were several pools for swimming that surrounded a lodge and a rec center. The lodge had a big tv, lots of couches, several pool tables (where dad taught me to play), and a little gift shop. The rec center was filled with fabulous pinball machines (I had high score on the soccer one), and a couple of video game machines (Pac Man and Asteroids). There was also a snack bar there that hosted the opportunity to play mini golf. There was also a big lake for swimming, fishing and paddleboating. Best of all, was the stable full of horses. I loved to ride the horses, especially on the trail rides throughout the campground. So anyway, when I was about 7 years old, I was in the gift shop, drooling over their magnet collection. Each one probably cost about a dollar, but I had no money on me at the time. About 30 of those little magnets found their way into my pockets and I got away without being discovered. I was so excited, so ashamed, and so scared. When my mother found out, because mothers always do, she made me march right back up to the gift shop to return the magnets and apologize. I learned a very important lesson that day and I had to repeat it with my own daughter many years later when she stole a package of Pokemon cards from a 7-Eleven store!


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8/28/13

Woolzies Eco-Friendly Wool Dryer Balls - Review


Disclosure: I received product at no charge in exchange for my honest review.
Woolzies are a very unique product and I was excited to get to try them. They are are natural fabric softener, made from 100% pure New Zealand wool and shaped into balls. They are guaranteed to least for 1000 loads, which is a real value considering I've been paying almost $10 a box for 160 one-use dryer sheets.
Woolzies will also reduce dryer time by up to 25% and are chemical-free, completely hypoallergenic and are even safe for those with wool sensitivities. All six Woolzies dryer balls go into the dryer with a wet load to soften your clothes naturally without shedding wool or distributing chemicals onto clothing.
I put Woolzies to the ultimate test by tossing them in with my towels load. Since they are often the heaviest fabrics that I wash, they usually take a long time to dry, sometimes up to 90 minutes. I don't buy those little bath towels either; I like the huge bath sheets.
My towel load was dry in 45 minutes. The Woolzies do add some noise while they're tossing around the dryer, sort of like when sneakers are in the dryer, but I always keep the laundry door shut anyways. One huge bonus I discovered was that they totally eliminated static cling from my towels, something my dryer sheets weren't doing. I'm very satisfied with this product and definitely recommend them!
Order yours at www.woolzies.com 
and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

How to Keep Your Car Healthy

This post brought to you by Pep Boys and Techron. All opinions are 100% mine.
Your car is probably one of the most important and expensive purchases you will make. It needs to be safe and reliable every time you get in it. Imagine breaking down with three wound-up kids in the back, miles from home, and your phone battery is dead, all because you assumed your car was doing okay when it really just needed a bit of attention. You can keep your car healthy with Techron Fuel System Cleaner and Pep Boys!
Techron Fuel System Cleaner is designed to give you a cleaner engine and when your engine is clean, it gives you better fuel mileage, lower emissions, and maximum power. When parts of your engine get dirty or gunked up with deposits, it actually costs you more to drive. Techron Fuel System Cleaner has a unique chemical formulation that reduces deposits and even allows for better air flow, so you can use every last drop of gasoline in your engine. Best of all, it's so easy to use!

Cauliflower Power Lunch #Recipe

CAULIFLOWER POWER LUNCH
*easy, quick, nutritious*

In a saucepan, combine cauliflower, diced green peppers, and diced ham.
(I used frozen cauliflower and frozen peppers)
Boil for five minutes, drain, place in bowl and top with shredded cheese.
Delicious!

Benefits of Cauliflower: 
Vitamins C and K, Antioxidants, Cancer Prevention, Anti-Inflammatory

Benefits of Green Peppers: 
Fiber, Vitamins C and E, Antioxidants, Eye Health

Benefits of Ham:
High Protein, Vitamins B6 and B12, Source of Iron

Benefits of Cheese:
High Calcium, High Protein, Cavity Prevention, Bone Strength

Wednesday Wealth Giveaway Link Up

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Easing Back to School Stress, Plus a Giveaway

Are your kids back in school yet? Have you had the fun experience of sitting in the school pickup lines that go around the block? Do you wish there was a way to make that morning rush to eat, dress, and get out the door on time just a bit less stressful? Well, then read on! Here are some great tips to that might just help you.
7 Back-to-School Strategies to Help You Stress Less and Simplify Your Life

Whether your kids are toddlers or teens, the start of a new school year signified opportunity, a fresh start, and a chance to do things differently. If you’re feeling some anxiety around the all the transitions, adjustments, juggling and driving that usually accompany a new school year, take a deep breath, pause and consider the following ideas for a simpler, less stressful school year. Adopting even one of these ideas could make a huge difference in how you experience this potentially hectic time. Begin with compassion and baby steps as you consider the following:
  1. Identify what’s #1 for your family this fall. What values or new ways of being are most important to you in the upcoming months? Perhaps creating a calm morning routine, eating dinner together, having dedicated family time, developing a good homework routine or mapping out a game plan for regular communication? Consider creating a vision board together around your shared values.
  2. Set yourself up for success by enlisting a support team. What type of support do you and your family need to feel nourished and nurtured as you transition into the new season? Perhaps a tutor or parenting coach, a new carpool team, a source for ready-made healthy meals or a couple of back-up baby sitters for monthly dates with your partner? Line up help now and post your “support team” list in your kitchen where the whole family can see it.
  3. Schedule replenishing nature respites. Being in nature elicits a relaxation response; it helps us shed worries and restore and replenish our bodies and minds like nothing else. Pull out your calendar and schedule some family hikes, a father/son camping trip, a visit to a country cabin or lake house over a holiday break, or a potluck at a nearby park with your neighbors or friends.
  4. Do less to experience more. In our office, we love the mantra, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” A key cause of stress is ambition and trying to do too much. Researchers in the field of positive psychology say we’re happiest when we have fewer options and decisions to make. What can you say “no” to so you can simplify your family’s life? Our quality of life is enhanced not by adding things, but by letting go of that which we don’t need.
  5. Be mindful of technology. In a recent survey I did, families across the U.S. said overuse of media was the top culprit for derailing their family’s emotional well-being and sense of connection. Consider doing an informal family media use survey (include phones, computers, tablets, TV) and create some clear media guidelines for how and when your kids can be online, play video games or use other devices. Many families also are finding keeping (or getting) a land-line helps with screening calls and preserving precious family time in the evenings and on the weekends.
  6. Decide how you’ll communicate as a family. Regular, open, heartfelt communication is key to people feeling heard, seen, safe and secure and knowing their ideas matter. Especially when schedules are full. Some families have weekly communication meetings (post an agenda on the fridge and have your children add items to the list that they want to cover), some parents have Sunday evening planning meetings after the kids go to bed and others adopt practices as simple as everyone sharing a “thumbs up and thumbs down” at dinner each night. Do what works for you.
  7. Designate weekends for rest and relaxation (as best you can!). While it’s easy to stack our weekends with errands, household cleaning, social activities, sports and more, weekend time is sacred. The primary purpose of this 48 hour break is to rejuvenate and restore your energy reserves so you can return to work and school Monday with a fresh, excited outlook—ready to learn and take on new projects. While spending the weekend in a hammock may be unrealistic, realize rest and relaxation are essential to problem solving, idea generation and creativity. At least a portion of your weekend—and maybe all day Sunday-- should be devoted to physical and emotional renewal.
Now is a great time to mindfully reflect on what has worked and not worked in the past for your family and to explore how you might implement some of these strategies now, so you enter the new school year feeling cool, calm and connected.

More ideas, exercises, monthly meditations and inspiration on how to reconnect, stress less and experience more balance and harmony in everyday life in Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life (New World Library 2013) by Renee Trudeau.
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