Give yourself a break and let someone else worry

Doesn’t fall just seem like a time to breathe again? I love the carefreeness and fun of the summer, but the return of structure that comes with back to school is not unappreciated. If you aren’t feeling the structure in your life yet, there are a couple of things to get in the groove of things….without being overwhelmed. The way our schedule is right now, I’m spinning constantly…. going from point A to B to C to F and Q and three places in between. Some things I can control and some I can’t… here are a few ways to give yourself a break!


Photo Credit:

Reduce Stress/Baggage: The holidays are fast approaching and you’ll be getting lots more coupons and sales flyers in the mail. Create pre-defined piles for mail to keep things separate now (one of which should be the trash pile), and sort your mail as soon as you get it out the mailbox. Reducing the pileup of clutter during the cool “cozy” months will go a lot way to allowing you to relax and focus on the things you need to do.  LifeLock protection reduces the amount of pre-approved credit card offers you receive. It may seem simple but NOT having all of those extra offers and envelopes to open will reduce your stress!


Get Your Finances In Order: Now’s a great time to begin preparing your budget and finances for the beginning of the year. Getting these ready now avoids the panic of the first of the year, when you’re trying to gather a years worth of data in an already hectic time.


Another important aspect of getting your finances in order is checking your credit for inconsistences. Holidays are a time when identity theft is even more common than usual, and it’s NOT something you want to fall victim to. If you have LifeLock, you don’t have to worry about this. LifeLock  has a product called LifeLock Ultimate Plus that offers credit/identity monitoring with activity alerts and features to put you at ease.  That means LifeLock is monitoring FOR you, for information and activity on your identity. Less for you to worry about.


Relax! Fall’s a cozy time. The summer is soo much geared to entertaining the children, it’s time to get some focus back to you. Grab your laptop/tablet or a good book and your boots with a cozy sweater and curl up in a corner of your local coffee shop or bistro. The next time you hear on the news about your favorite store having a security breech, or a major email program being hacked- you can relax. LifeLock will notify you of things like security breeches so you can relax- and not worry so much.

lifelock offers 5 points of protection
Visit the LifeLock Site to learn more about LifeLock’s services and how they can help lead a less stressful life! Enter code LifeLockSafety to save 10% today! Prices range from $9.99 a month to $29.99 a month. With today’s hectic schedules, that’s an investment in your well-being- giving someone else the worries to bear!

What’s your number one way to decrease stress in your life? What’s your number one fear about having your identity stolen?



This post is brought to you as part of my Ambassador relationship with LifeLock. Opinions are my own. Advertisement

Share a video, support Make a Wish #WishPower #StraightTalkTesters #Giveaway

If you had one wish, what would it be? What is one thing that you would love to see or do in your lifetime that would bring you fulfillment? Would you travel to Paris? Meet someone you admire? I can think of lots of things I’d like to do, if given the opportunity. The thing is, we often take these things for granted.  That’s why I love the Make-A-Wish foundation. They give children with life-threatening medical conditions the chance to make their wishes come true! I have friends and family who’ve been granted wishes, and I know just what these granted wishes give to families.  It’s not about things, it’s about memories.  I love that my favorite cell provider, Straight Talk, has teamed up for such an important cause. I will be heading out of my way tomorrow simply to be sure to give a minute and help make a wish. I hope you’ll join me. It’s one of the easiest ways I’ve seen to support Make a Wish!


I’m VERY excited to share that this month, Straight Talk Wireless is rallying  fans and friends to help raise up to $1 million to grant the wishes of deserving kids as part of their “Give a Minute, Help Make-A-Wish” program.


And guess what?


You can help!


Here’s how:


  1. When you’re doing your shopping at Walmart this month, take a moment to stop by the wireless department. By taking one minute of your time to view a Straight Talk product demo, you will trigger a $1 donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation. You can stop by participating Walmart stores any Saturday in September.
  2. Can’t make it to a Walmart? That’s okay! Visit and share a wish story. You can also share any of the wish stories posted to Straight Talk’s Facebook or Twitter


For every share you make from the above sites, and for every one-minute demo you attend, you will trigger a $1 donation from Straight Talk to Make-A-Wish! I absolutely love that there is the option to trigger a donation without even leaving the comforts of your home!


Want to find out if your local Walmart is participating? Visit the website, and enter in your zip code. You will then be given a list of participating Walmart stores in your area!


While you’re on the site, don’t forget to check out and share some of the heart-touching stories of children whose wishes have been fulfilled thanks the Make-A Wish foundation!

One reader will win a Straight Talk prize pack for families on the go, valued at about $90!



This is a sponsored post as part of the #StraightTalkTesters program. Opinions are my own.

Fun ways to spark conversation with your kids

How many of you have asked your kids a question and gotten a one word answer?


How many of you have carefully worded your question so that the response will clearly need more than a one word answer?


How many of you have kids who can still turn any question into a one word answer?


That happens here far more often than I care to admit.  It used to be that I could ask 2-3 questions and it would almost breeze into them sharing detail for a moment or two about their school day.  Like ” Who did you sit with at lunch today? What were you playing at recess?” and quickly I’d know a good amount of information about how at least part of their day played out.


My kids are, however, smarter than I am and I have to really work to get them to talk (to me) at times.  Sure, they talk incessantly, but often it’s to one another (in talk or screaming, or both), but to mom and dad?  Not always.

kidq screenshot


Well, I found an app to help with that.  An app from our friends at Scholastic that offers fun ways to spark conversation with your kids.

kidq q

What I like about this app is that it’s FUN stuff about things that kids and adults can be and often are curious about or want to know more about.  Little factoids, answers to those questions that pop up in the middle of nowhere that are relating to something mom and dad haven’t ever studied not for one single second of their lives. Stuff like that.

kidq answer

Questions and facts to ward off boredom, to spark conversation, or further dialogue. Sadly for some of us (me), you won’t find answers like “Hair turns grey when kids don’t listen” and you may find many parenting myths dispelled.  I’m so sorry. 😉


Scholastic Parent & Child believes that one of the best ways to connect with your child is through conversation. The KidQ app for iPhone and Android facilitates conversation via fun Q&A’s about the things that kids (and parents!) are the most curious about, like Why is the sky blue? And Why do we say “ears” of corn? Each day, users are notified of a new playful question that serves as a conversation starter along with the official answer. Families will have a blast as they compare their explanations to the facts!


Download the free KidQ app from Scholastic Parent & Child by visiting and see where your conversations go now!


What are your favorite ways to spark conversation with your kids?


I received compensation from Scholastic Parent & Child in return for your agreement to post on behalf of this program


Surface Lightens Load for Backpack Awareness Day #lightenmyload #windowschampions

Times have changed a whole bunch since I lugged all of my notebooks and textbooks to all my classes from K through my grad school time.  I never had a laptop, a tablet, anything!  Students are kicking off the new school year, and it goes without saying that technology like laptops, tablets and readers are more present than ever before. This ends up with the vast majority of students carrying more limited-purpose devices, rather than consolidating to fewer devices that can help them do more. Recent research by Microsoft, found that 96 percent of people who carry a tablet also still have a laptop. All of these items increase backpack weight and take a toll on health, with back pain being the most frequent physical health complaint among college students. In fact, Karen Jacobs, an occupational therapist and clinical professor at Boston University said that according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission more than 22,000 people were treated for backpack-related injuries in the United States last year.


Surface Pro 3, a powerful and portable tablet that can replace a laptop can cut the weight a student carries in half. It weighs in at only 2.41 pounds with an attached Type cover and Surface Pen for digital note taking via OneNote meaning that it can replace the need to carry multiple devices and notebooks.   September 17, marks the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) National School Backpack Awareness Day, created with the assistance of Jacobs in 2000. Microsoft will be taking part in a weigh-in event at Boston University where students can weigh their bags, get more info and tips to help reduce health impacts and learn how using one devices like Surface Pro 3 for everything can help lighten their loads.   Additional Points and Facts: o   When students and parents take in guidance from the AOTA about how to select and pack a backpack to maintain good health, they should take a hard look at Surface Pro 3 as a device that can do everything they need and more, while reducing the weight they carry around campus. o   The Problem:

  • Students often carry multiple limited-purpose technology devices in their bags, along with text books, notebooks and other necessary school items. All of which add up to a heavy load – with the average college student’s backpack now weighing over 11.5 pounds – which can strain the lower back and cause long-term health problems.
  • Back pain is the most frequent physical health complaint among college students.
  • Twenty-nine percent of college students report having lower back pain.
  • According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 28,000 people were treated for backpack-related injuries in the United States last year. That figure included 8,500 children between the ages of 5 and 18 who wound up in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms.
  • The cost—in medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and legal liability—tops out at more than $1 billion annually.

o   Surface Pro 3—The Tablet That Can Replace Your Laptop (and your notebook)

  • Surface Pro 3, is a powerful and portable tablet that can replace a laptop, and at only 2.41 pounds with an attached Type cover and Surface Pen for digital note taking via OneNote, it can cut the average weight of technology a college student carries in half – with a 14” laptop weighing an average of 4-5 pounds.
  • Surface can actually replace a student’s tablet, laptop, notebooks and pens to help them be more productive, organized and stay entertained while moving around campus with more ease and reducing the chances of damaging their health.

o   AOTA Tips for Preventing Backpack Injuries:

  • Check that your packed backpack weighs no more than 10 percent of your body weight. If it weighs more, determine what you can leave at home that day to reduce the load.
  • Always select a backpack that is the right size for you.
  • Distribute weight evenly. Load heaviest items closest to your back and balance materials so that you can easily stand up straight.
  • If a backpack has a hip belt, wear it to improve balance and take some strain off sensitive neck and shoulder muscles.
  • If the backpack is still too heavy, consider a book bag on wheels.

For More Information: Visit the Surface website, your local Microsoft retail store or AOTA website for more health tips and resources for student backpack use. National Backpack Awareness Day page for additional information on events.



Information provided by Microsoft’s PR firm. No compensation received for this post. 

Back to school learning, memories and lunch!

The house is quiet, and I can actually hear myself think. You know what that means? School is now in session. I had mixed feelings about my children heading off to school this year. On one hand, summer was awesome and I hated to see it end. On the other hand, it’s nice to get back into the groove of the school year. For the first time, I have 3 kids in full day school.  My children have already buckled down and hit the books. The three things that pop into my head when I think of back to school are; learning, memories, and lunch.  Luckily, I have all three bases covered!

 Back to school learning, memories and lunch!




Have you heard of Sphero? By fusing technology with robotics, Sphero toys teach and inspire children to be innovative and inventive. Sphero is a teachable robot that is app-controlled! The SPRK (Schools, Parents, Robots, Kids) allows children to use Sphero as an educational tool, whether in the classroom or at home. No matter what their current skill level is, Sphero gives children an introduction to programming and robotics, while strengthening their skills in math and science. Simple download SPRK (a free app) and get to learning!


I’d really like to find a way to incorporate Sphero into one of my Junior Girl Scout meetings.  We’re really trying to make a concerted effort to include STEM concepts in the next few years with the girls!!  I think they’ll have a lot of fun with it but also learn and grow with their math and science skills.




The second thought that back to school brings to mind is memories. Children grow so quickly, and I find myself struggling sometimes to keep up with all the memories. Every parent knows that any given moment is a photo-opp, and it’s pertinent to stay prepared! Because of this, I find myself with pictures spread out across all of my devices. Lyve, an app that helps you rediscover photos that live across all of your devices, helps me stay organized. My photos are stored safely in LyveHome and automatically organized, making it easy to whip out my kids photos and show them off, no matter what device they were taken on!




Last but not least, back to school brings the age-old stressor of what to pack for lunch. The stress of this task is dramatically heightened if your child has food allergies. Even if YOUR child isn’t the one with food allergies, someone in their class may have them. One if four moms were stopped by school administrators from providing snacks at school events because of the dangers of nuts and other food allergies. This doesn’t have to be you.


Rich Products has committed to becoming a leading provider of peanut-and-tree nut free cookies with it’s line of classic and nut free cookies! Rich spent nearly two years developing their line of tree-nut and peanut free cookies. Each package is clearly labeled to provide an added peace of mind, and is a GREAT options for class snacks and lunches. Rich’s Nut-Free cookies are available in many varieties including Oatmeal Raisin, Fudge Brownie, Snicker doodle, Frosted Sugar cookies, Chocolate Chip, and two new varieties coming soon; Red Velvet and Chocolate Frosted Cookies. You can find information on  Rich’s products on their website: or


Each of these products has helped me to get my children off to a seamless and smooth school year.

Check out PTPA’s Back to School Book!

What pops into mind when you think of back to school?


One person will win a back to school prize pack including: one (1) LyveHome, one (1) Sphero and one (1) package of Rich Product’s Our Specialty Nut-Free Frosted Cookies!

 PTPA Back to School Contest!

“Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Back to School Brand Ambassador Program with Sphero, Lyve and Rich Products. I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.”

Back to school safety #LifeLockUltimatePlus

It’s back to school time again, and a common subject that comes up is that of safety. While that’s always something to worry about (especially when you’re a parent), back to school time brings up a whole bundle of concerns in itself.

 Back to School Safety

How will your child get to school?


Can they walk to the bus stop alone?


Can they be trusted to stay home alone?


Can they be trusted with their own house key, or should a neighbor let them in?


This and many other issues are things that you must consider during the fall. Safety is important, especially when it comes to children. While there isn’t any easy button for parents to magically keep your children safe (trust me I’d be the first investor), there are logical steps that you can take to prevent as many hazards as possible.


Same rings true for your household, and your identity.


That’s why, if you haven’t already, you should include LifeLock’s identity theft protection to your back to school list. The LifeLock Site offers an entire suite of products tailored to fit your individual needs. Purchase as much, or as little protection as you need for your family.

lifelock logo

Here are some of LifeLock’s newest features:


Traditonal LifeLock Standard is still just $9.99 and includes all the create features it always has.


In addition to the standard version, you have a few more options; LifeLock Advantage at $19.99 and LifeLock Ultimate plus at $29.99. Both of these products include personalized activity alerts on credit card, check, and savings account transactions.


The LifeLock Ulitmate Plus product also includes activity alerts on member’s investment accounts adding more peace of mind against identity theft. Want to protect your children as well? Of course you do. LifeLock offers a junior product for children alont with the adult membership. This gives you an alert anytime someone is looking for your childs info for credit and services. If something is found, you’ll be alerted by text, phone or email.


LifeLock covers the bases for your entire family. Hop over to and use the promo code “LifeLockSafety” to receive 10% off your purchase with LifeLock.


It’s back to school time again, and a common subject that comes up is that of safety. While that’s always something to worry about (especially when you’re a parent), back to school time brings up a whole bundle of concerns in itself.


How will your child get to school?


This post is brought to you by our friends at LifeLock. Opinions are my own.


LeapFrog LeapPad3 Tablet for Kids

A few weeks ago, LeapFrog’s new LeapPad3 tablet for kids arrived at our house for review.   We had the original LeapPad which we all enjoyed, and had actually shared with some friends of ours not long ago.  I was very intrigued by the release of the 3rd ‘generation’ of the LeapPad- toys from LeapFrog were among the first we purchased when our oldest was a baby, and we’ve always thought the brand to be excellent quality and worth the money.The  improvements and updates on the LeapPad3 promimsed to be great. I like that they can be safe on the web, they can have fun with games, edit photos and make videos. Find FREE LeapPad Games!


There were 2 things that I didn’t love about the former LeapPad that have changed, and improved, so so much.  The screen clarity (so much higher resolution now!) and a rechargeable battery.  The screen resolution is MUCH higher now, and much easier for kids and parents to see and use. As for the battery- I hated using batteries and disposing of them so frequently- as I do with just about anything in our house. I love being able to recharge things as we go and not have to add waste to the world.  6 hours of battery time is a LOT. My kids are now 5, 7 and 9 – they all use it easily and it’s nice that the battery will hold on for more than a short time for other kids’ turns.


LeapFrog’s always been about toys that let them learn while they play- the LeapPad 3 is like the intro to the world of tablets, but in a safe, comfortable place that allows fun and learning with a lot of room for creativity without risk of inappropriate content. Each of the kids has their own login for the tablet, so no one can take over someone else’s score on a game, etc.  There’s a spot for a guest to login as well.

Built in wifi is an update that arrived with the LeapPad3. LeapSearch is powered by Zui-created by LeapFrog experts to be age appropriate and safe for kids- offering over 1000 videos, games and more for kids to explore.  They’re online, and learning to navigate the internet, but in a sort of cocoon as it were, so no risk of adult content or them seeing something you really don’t want them to see. Just because THEY think they are ready to handle the big old internet doesn’t mean they are.  I’m 40, and I’m a blogger- and not twice but 3 times my husband and I have gone to search for a local store with a name that could also be interpreted as adult in nature, and been taken quite by surprise at the search results and images that came after we hit enter.  I don’t want my kids having those experiences, but I do want them to be able to successfully use computers, tablets and laptops- for good or bad, technology is here and part of our lives. It’s in our homes and it’s in our classrooms.


A fab new feature of the LeapPad3  is the built-in Wi-Fi and LeapSearch which is powered by Zui, a kid-friendly selection of more than 1,000 games, videos and more. Anything and everything your child can access has been pre-screened by the LeapFrog experts to be safe and age-appropriate. Want more assurance? Use the parent mode,  and control the wi-fi and manage the content your children have access to.

My only hesitation with the LeapPad3 is that the games available for purchase for the device are on the higher side and could be prohibitive for some families. I have noticed that I’m seeing more and more sales, coupons and deals for games and cartridges (we opt to get ours online, via download, no cartridges to lose and it’s in our account, available to download again later if need be). There are always ways to save, and I would give a full five stars to this device in a review if the games and apps were at a lower price point.

What do you look for in a tablet for kids?

Thanks to LeapFrog for sending the LeapPad3 for review, via our affiliation with MomSelect.

Monitoring driving habits #StraightTalkTesters #giveaway

The Safe Drive Car connection by Straight Talk is a really great device, which greatly decreases the worries of having a driving aged child. As part of Straight Talk’s new product category “connected life” the Safe Drive Car Connection helps you keep up with your teenager when they’re on the road, and allows them to sharpen up their driving skills in the process. Monitoring driving habits (of your kids and yourself) with smart devices is something many of us should consider. I know it’s made me more cognizant of things! car_connection_straight-talk

We all know texting and driving is one of the most dangerous habits in young people and adults alike. We also know that it can be hard to fight the urge at times, especially for younger, easily-distracted drivers. With the free, third-party ZoomSafer app, available on both the iTunes App Store and  Google Play, Safe Driver Car Connection can restrict text messages and phone usage while driving to eliminate this risk. It also allows you to track your vehicle through the use of GPS at any time, right from your home computer OR from your cell phone or tablet. You can see if your car is being towed, moved, or if your teen has driven outside of a predetermined area you gave them permission to drive! That feature alone is enough to convince me of its worth!







But there’s more! Ever wondered how your child (or spouse) drives when you aren’t present? Safe Driver Car Connection actually allows you to receive a driver score report to monitor anyone’s vehicle use and driving habits! I’m not going to tell you who was driving the van recently.  (Photo above) You’ll notice the driving score is a 70 – one of us has been a little heavy on the gas pedal.  That number may not seem significant, but as you scroll through the data on the Car Connection app, you can see how those types of habits literally cost you more money, based on the average price of gas for where YOU live. It IS significant.


Another device in the Connected Life line of products is the Remote Alert System. This system allows you to stay connected with your household while you are away. Its built-in wireless module can send an SMS Text message or place a phone call to up to eight pre-assigned numbers when a sensor is triggered in your own home. You can enhance this kit further by adding accessories like an additional motion sensor, magnetic door/window sensors, and a remote control key fob.

One reader will win a Safe Drive Car Connection Device from Straight Talk!



This post is brought to you as part of my ongoing participation in the Straight Talk Testers program.  While I am compensated via service, product and payment for my participation, I’m also well into my third year of being a Straight Talk customer and have been very happy with the services offered.

How to Get Started Geocaching

Geocaching is a great activity to do with the family.  It gets you outdoors, walking around and makes you use your mind.  We started Geocaching a year ago and we still are loving it. If you are wondering how to get started geocaching, read on!

What Is Geocaching?

Geocaching is a global treasure hunt.  Participants use GPS enabled devices to locate specific coordinates where they can search for a hidden cache.  The caches are small to large containers that will have a log to sign and often fun little items to trade.  These caches can be in a parking lot, a nature center, just off a trail or on a small island that can only be reached by boat.  Geocaching has so many different levels of difficulty and terrain.


What do You Need to Start Geocaching?

What is Geocaching


Good Shoes

Start by going to where you can sign up for a free account.  There is also a Geocaching 101 section that helps explain the game.  I also recommend getting the app.  You can use app to find a cache, mark it as found and leave notes.  The site and app are both very user friendly.

Next, find caches near you and head out on the hunt.  We were surprised to find that we had a few within walking distance of our house. After just one evening of geocaching, we were hooked.  It is kind of like being in a secret club and only the members know where the caches are.  I like driving by spots knowing there is a cache there.

Some walking trails and biking trails have several geocaches along the way.  I always check the recent logs on caches before I go.  If it looks like it has not been found or is really hard I may skip it.  Always remember that kids have a different way of looking at the world.  Sometimes I over think the hiding places or clues and my son will find it quickly.

geocaching 101

Why We Love Geocaching

The number one reason is that we can go geocaching as a family.

It gets us outside and seeing parts of our state that we have never seen before.

The excitement of the find is addictive.

My son gets to trade fun small items, like toy dinosaurs, compasses and rubber chickens. I recommend going to party store and picking up some small items to trade.  This is really fun for the kids.

When we go on vacation it is fun to find a cache or 2 while exploring new places and we get to see spots that are away from the typical tourist attractions.

geocaching swagCheck out these other Geocaching posts.




 What is your favorite outdoor family activity?

Follow the World Cup with Windows Apps #worldcup #brasil2014

Calling all (fellow) soccer fans!! Happy World Cup!  #WorldCup and #Brasil2014 are here, and I have some Windows and Windows Phone apps help you to make the most of World Cup 2014! Don’t miss a beat!

Follow FIFA World Cup with Windows Apps


ESPN FC on Windows and Windows Phone offers comprehensive worldwide football coverage 24/7 for all major league teams.


With Bing Sports on Windows and Windows Phone you can keep up with all the sports and teams you care about with top headlines, scores, schedules, standings, statistics, team information and personalized team tracking.


Wherever your friends and family are in the world, Windows and Windows Phone apps help you enjoy the fun of the World Cup together! With Air Soccer Fever you can play an online multiplayer soccer game in real-time against your friends and family on your Windows or Windows Phone devices and take home the title!




Or face the goal keeper one-on-one and play against your friends around the world to win the Online Cup with Penalty Kicks on your Windows Phone.



With FIFA 14  (I just included this in my best Windows Apps for Sports Fans post) you can build your ultimate fantasy team with more than 16,000 real players and feel the excitement of every pass, shot and tackle with new touch controls – even listen to commentaries in a variety of languages.



Whether you are playing a game on these Windows apps, keeping up with the latest scores or streaming the games live, the Lenovo Yoga 2 has the perfect position for the best viewing experience! From laptop mode to stand mode, tent mode to tablet mode, the ThinkPad Yoga flips around 360 degrees so the screen is always right where you need it – for work or play!

Want to see what others are saying about World Cup 2014?  Visit the #brasil2014  and/or #worldcup hashtags on Twitter!


Who are you cheering for in the World Cup?

I am a Windows Champion and this information was shared with me as part of my partnership with Windows and Microsoft.  Opinions are my own.