Must Have School Supplies

As you prepare for back to school shopping, there’s a few supplies you’ll most definitely want to grab! Some of them are extras, so if you’re trying to stick to a strict budget, you may choose to forego them, but this list has the best of the best when it comes to school supplies!


1. Paper!

Of course you need some great paper to last throughout the year. It’s best to buy in bulk, so buy a pack of paper to last all year long!  Notebooks, filler paper– whatever your kids prefer to use, stock up early!


2. Glue sticks.

Glue sticks are typically a must for any elementary class, and your kids will go through lots of them for school projects! It’s a good idea to buy a large pack just in case you lose one or go through a few in a school year. These purple glue sticks are awesome and you can buy them in a pack, which is even better!


3. Highlighters.

Highlighters are essential for note taking and studying, and you’ll want to make sure your student has a variety of colors as well. There are tons of different kinds out there, but these retractable Sharpie highlighters are awesome and you don’t have to worry about losing a cap and drying them out!


4. Pencils.

Pencils are an absolute must! Mechanical pencils are generally easier to use and last a lot longer, so buying a pack of decent quality mechanical pencils is a great idea. BIC is great quality and very well known, and their pencils are exceptional!


5. Organizers.

Organizers are essential for staying on track during the school year and making sure everything gets done and turned in every week, especially for students with multiple classes in middle or high school. You’ll want one that organizes by each class with dividers and they’re fairly inexpensive too! Project Organizer


By buying all of these essential school supplies, your student will be sure to succeed! This list will lead them to be prepared and ready to go when school is back in session!

What school supply is your first buy every year?


On colic and babies #ReducedCrying

4:00am and I’d been up for more than 24 hours. Sleep wasn’t anywhere in the near future either. My body had begun to operate in autopilot, and I’m sure that even my reserve tanks of energy were exhausted. How did this used to be so easy to do when I was in my college years? The days when pulling an all-nighter usually stemmed from reluctantly to let the party die down. This wasn’t any party though. And the only beverages being served were water, and some tea concoctions that I read online would help to keep my milk supply up. Nope, this was a whole new ball game.

I was a mom.

A mom of a baby who seemed to cry all the time.

If you’re a mother yourself, I know you can relate to this. The worry. The sleep deprivation. And mostly, the constant onslaught of advice. Everyone has their different ways of parenting, and they all seem to live in the notion that their way is the best (and sometimes ONLY ) way to raise a healthy and happy child. The opinions seemed to be everywhere I turned! From the magazines in the waiting room at the doctor, to the lady in the checkout line at the grocery store advising me on what I should do to calm my howling infant, as I tried to juggle the baby, the cart, and somehow dig my debit card out of my purse to pay for the transactions.

So who did I listen to?

All of them!

I didn’t take every bit of advice literally, of course. What I did do, however, was take bits and pieces of advice from each and every source, and begin to fashion my own “style” of child raising. Just like every parent is different, every baby is different as well. What works for calming one child, may not work for another. There were a few products along the way that I found to be helpful with all three of my children. One of these was Colief Infant Drops!

Colief Infant Drops helped to relieve fussiness and colic from each and every one of my babies. Do you deal with colic, or fussiness in your baby? Do you even KNOW what colic is? The video below is a must watch!

Being a parent isn’t easy, and it’s nice when you come across a trusted brand that can ease the stress a little for both you AND baby. Colief does just that. It’s also very convenient to pick up when you’re out and about. You can buy Colief Infant Drops at; Walgreens, Duane Reade, HEB, and

You can also checkout Colief on Facebook!

Check out the fabulous Colief Pack ‘n Go Giveaway

Entry periods for the Colief Pack ‘n Go Giveaway accepted till 12pm EST August 28th
One winner (five winners total) will be chosen and announced on Facebook at around 12:30 P.M. EST each week on Thursday, July 31st, August 7th, 14th , 21st and 28th to win a Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Bag to hold all your mommy necessities, a $25 retailer gift card to stock up on supplies for baby and $4.00 worth of Colief savings.
Winners are announced on the Colief Infant Drops Facebook page
Learn more at

There isn’t a single parent that doesn’t have a story to share about the struggles of those infancy days. I want to hear yours! Drop it in the comments below.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Colief®. The opinions and text are all mine.

Get a haircut and donate a hair cut #ShareaHaircut

During the entire month of August, Hair Cuttery hosts its largest charitable program of the year- ‘Share a Haircut.’  The program provides haircuts to children in-need. By taking your child (18 and under) to Hair Cuttery for a haircut (just $13 at our salon), you are also donating a haircut to a child in need in your community.  This isn’t the first year that Hair Cuttery is doing the promotion- this is the 15th year of it, and to date, over 800,000 kids have received a free hair cut right before school starts! The folks at Hair Cuttery want to hit the 925,000 mark this year, and I’m hoping we can all help them.


Once your child’s haircut is finished, they’ll get a sticker, and have the chance to take a picture with Joey, the “face” of the Share a Haircut promotion.


My son was in need of a good cleanup from his early summer buzz cut, and we headed to a local Hair Cuttery yesterday to get him looking spiffy before school starts.  He was so excited that just by having his hair cut, he could make sure that another child would have a nice new haircut to start their school year with, too.


We had to leave to get to our appointment right when my son got out of his swim lesson so he was in a damp bathing suit and rather chilled for much of his appointment.  Jamie, his stylist, was quick to offer a towel and an extra cape for him to try to warm him up.  As it was, he was still chilly (the a/c was on) and she popped him under the dryer for a few minutes to warm him.  Extra touches like that make a big difference!


Each year the program is a little different, but in 2014 there will be a ‘Share a Haircut’ microsite fans may visit to upload a picture of themselves to the gallery wall and/or share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  Each share/upload to the gallery equals one (1) haircut to the effort.  It’s a virtual experience of when you make a donation in-store and the store associate provides a wall decal for you to sign.  However, this program requires no monetary donation.


 Have you done your kids back to school cuts yet?  Will you participate in #ShareaHaircut? 


We’ll be going back to get the girls’ trimmed up before school starts.  With prices from about $13-15 each, it’s a fabulous deal- and we can support our neighbors in need!



Thanks to Hair Cuttery for asking us to partner with them to promote Share a Haircut.  Opinions are my own. 

Solutions for distracted driving #giveaway

I consider myself a fairly cautious driver. About as much as possible with a little one in the back that constantly wants my attention. The older two usually don’t really want to do anything but hear “awesome” stuff on the radio. By the time we reach our destination, I’ve usually explained at least 11 times that mommy can’t “look at this”, because I have to focus my attention on the road. That’s if we’re traveling somewhere close by… Regardless, it’s usually the high pitch squeals that catch me off guard every time. The reason is usually that we’ve passed a favorite ice cream shop, or that there’s something “really cool” on the side of the road. It’s never the life changing tragedy it sounds like when she does it. It’s often just a favorite bird sighting. I’m always looking for solutions for distracted driving so I can keep my bird watcher and my two radio lovers safe!

Let’s face it, driving while mom isn’t easy. (Also, sometimes, wife, as seen above) That’s why I’m so excited to share the new systems by Safe Drive, which focus on Keeping Kids Safe. Safe Drive offers a variety of features each uniquely created to keep your family safe while you drive. The newest feature to this line up is the RD 140 RDR . Depending on the system, this features allows you to avoid head on collisions by constantly monitoring your distance to vehicles ahead of you. This is important since it only takes a moment for an accident to happen!

The real-time analysis feature warns of any potential dangers ahead of you, helping you to prevent accidents and fatal injuries to yourself and others. Both of the systems have a neat radar system that track moving items of any size. This can be anything from another vehicle, to a child riding their bicycle. Upon tracking the object, the systems provide you with 20 seconds advanced notice, allowing you time to safely react.

Seeing these systems allowed me to realize how much more I could be doing to keep my family safe. It’s those few seconds that can be used to safe a life. It’s even scarier to know that moms are 3x more likely to wreck with babies in the car. We invest in safe vehicles and car seats. Now it’s time to take keep our children a step farther with Safe Drive.

How do you avoid distractions when driving with children? Or should I say, how do you deal with distractions that come with driving with children?

For more information on Safe Drive Systems, please call (800) 735-6055 or fill out the form here.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SafeDrive Systems. The opinions and text are all mine.

Enter to win a RD 140 RDR Safe Drive System!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

School supply shopping is FUN! #BTSwithTarget

It is, it really is. My kids actually LOVE going shopping for school supplies. I might still grab myself a supply or two for old time’s sake…. and our fave place for school supply shopping is always Target.  I’m actually not sure my kids are aware other stores may carry school supplies. Target has all that they need, in characters/styles/colors they want, and pricing that works for my wallet.


This year, my littlest one is going to Kindergarten all day.  My son will be in second grade and my oldest, she’ll be in fourth grade.  My kids attend a PreK-8 school and grades 4-6 are in the upstairs of the school.  My oldest  needs a larger sized backpack, to hold the larger amounts of homework and supplies needed for this change. She has been adamant lately that she’s not into pink anymore. Like, at all.  It’s for little girls, mom.  (And as you can see…..)


Naturally, my oldest has decided she’s GROWN UP and hitting the big time and wants big kid themed supplies.  I guess she’s done with the cute and adorable phase. (Or so I thought…)


Apparently, no one’s ever too old for adorable puppies. Sigh. If  only she needed a binder this year!

There are SO many fun new backpacks and lunchboxes out there. We couldn’t stop giggling at the Minion lunchbox from Despicable Me 2!

There’s a matching backpack. In fact, there are many fun backpacks that light up and/or make sounds at Target- for boys, girls, and for all kids!  We may have spent a while in this aisle playing with them. Maybe not.

My littlest isn’t in need of a backpack or a lunchbox this year but she IS happy to be in need of her own crayons, markers, and colored pencils for the first time.  She’s SO excited about starting Kindergarten in a few weeks!





Every little thing is a really big deal.

Where do you go for fun school supplies for your family?

Compensation was provided by Target via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target.


7 Ways to Feel Your Best

No offense to the men in our lives, but ladies, I’m speaking to you today.  Myself, included.  I’m not even going to talk about LOOKING your best, because I am of the firm belief that feeling your best leads to looking your best. We can, for the most part, figure out what makes us look best.

5 Ways to Feel Your Best


1. Get enough rest

This would be on that most of us don’t get enough rest. How can we expect to feel our best when our bodies aren’t rested?  I say this having unintentionally gotten lost in a new book and realizing only after 2:30 am that I was still awake and still reading…and am currently feeling like my head is full of cotton and that I may be part zombie all day today). I’m also quite guilty of staying up late to finish up laundry, baking for something, or getting up extra early to get something ready for that day. Many of us are.


2. Exercise

It should be a no brainer- but we all need to do it.  Find little ways to add it in if you (like me) aren’t in top shape. Park further away when you go someplace.  Try some planks while commercials are on.  Sit on an exercise ball to watch your favorite program.  Choose to head outside and enjoy the amazing world that we live in even for just a few minutes each day.


3. Do things for YOU.

If you have a hobby you enjoy- DO it. Make the time to do this, and commit to that time. I’m again guilty of not doing this but have been really working hard to get back into this (scrapbooking is a big hobby I love and haven’t done in years- I let so many other things come first). We need an outlet, each of us.  It doesn’t have to cost money and it doesn’t have to involve a lot of time- it could be as simple as picking up a book from the library and giving yourself 20 minutes a day of uninterrupted reading time

carefree image


4. Have friends who build you up

This is true for all of us in life.  We don’t need a lot of friends.  We need the friends who matter, who lift us up, who are there not because we ask them to be but because they know we need them.  Those friends who don’t judge us, don’t criticize us. The friends who build us UP and fill our buckets.


5. Ask for help when you need it

Again, not always easy. Asking for help when you need it instead of trying to do this superhero thing that no human is actually able to accomplish on their own isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of being human.  We all need a little help sometimes.  That’s what friends are for.  (See #4!)

 6. Eat Well

Please note I’m not preaching.  Feed your body.  Eat healthy, indulge on occasion.

sweet potato tacos

7. Drink Water

Each and every one of us needs to drink water.  Staying hydrated will help us feel our best for sure!




So soft, so thin, so absorbent. Carefree® Acti-Fresh® daily liners leave you feeling nothing but fresh. Get $0.50 off any Carefree product at




Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Energizer Personal Care via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Energizer Personal Care.


5 Things to Know About School Nutrition Programs

Last week I was invited to attend the School Nutrition Association‘s National Conference for a day. Having three kids in school full time this year for the first time means I’ll have three kids who may buy lunch at school. I like to be informed about what my family is eating.

Attending the conference was a great experience for me. Not only did I get to meet two long time blog pals in person for the first time but I also learned oh so very much about school nutrition programs in general. I really kind of had no idea just how uninformed I truly was before I went to this conference!

Five Things About School Nutrition Programs

things to know about school nutrition programs

1. This is not your mama’s school lunch.

Or even my school lunch. Times have changed. Menus have changed.

I have vivid memories of some of the stuff that was served on our plates in school Especially vegetables!  They didn’t, not once, look anything like these!

school nutrition-simplot

2. What you see on school menus is not what you find at the grocery store.

This was a big one for me. Seeing toaster pastries on the menu for breakfast or chicken nuggets, for example, for lunch often gave me pause. But ANYTHING served in schools has to meet standards- so maybe that brand of chicken nuggets you use at home is the same brand they serve at your kids’ school, but the breading used is whole grain… the toaster pastries have to be within a set number of calories, grains, salt content, etc…the pasta served isn’t the same as you have in your pantry.


Even cereals served for breakfast are lower in calories, lower in sugar, lower in fat content, and made with whole grains. So while we adults may not love the idea that Fruit Loops are served for breakfast, it makes (most of) the kids happy, and we can know that the kids having that for breakfast are not having the same sugary cereals that we see on supermarket shelves.


3. There are federal guidelines for school nutrition programs.

This probably should be higher in the list, but this isn’t a list based on importance.  The USDA has requirements and guidelines for foods served in schools.  Period.  The items on the school menus that come home (or pop up in your email) ALL have to meet those guidelines.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update these nutrition standards for the first time in 15 years. The new regulations, effective July 1, 2012, require cafeterias to offer more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and limit sodium, calories and unhealthy fat in every school meal.

To ensure all foods and beverages sold in school during the school day are healthy choices, HHFKA also required USDA to create nutrition standards for foods and beverages sold in competition to reimbursable meals. These “competitive foods” are sold in vending machines, snack bars and a la carte lines. In June 2013, USDA issued the “Smart Snacks in School” interim final rule establishing these standards, which go into effect July 1, 2014.


4. When a brand you recognize (ie Pizza Hut, Dominos) is listed on your school lunch menu, the foods are made for school programs and are not the same as what you get in the restaurant and/or store.

I honestly thought when seeing Dominos Pizza or Pizza Hut on the kids’ lunch menus that perhaps the school had an agreement and it was a way to save costs!  But, as it turns out, both brands, as well as others, have their school nutrition versions of products.  Pizza is a popular food in my house (as it is in many) and is always a day that the kids, especially my son, want to buy lunch when it’s up on the menu.  It’s a lot easier to agree to him having pizza for lunch once a week knowing that the ingredients meet the USDA requirements and are made with whole grains, lower sodium and fat levels.


5. Most school nutrition programs aren’t funded by the board of education. Most offer a la carte items to offset costs.  Even the ice cream bars, for example, have to meet FDA guidelines for school nutrition.

Starting this year, my oldest had a la carte items available for purchase every day.  You can imagine my surprise to hear that she had ice cream available for purchase every day.  Actually, the first time I spoke with the PR team from the School Nutrition Association about attending this conference, this was one of the first things I said to them.  I realize I’m in a position most aren’t, and was able to attend a conference for the folks who work with school nutrition in so many aspects.

I was also brought around to some of the booths set up in the expo hall by a Nutrition professional from Connecticut (where I live, if you don’t know) who knew of my concerns and took the time to plan visits to brands and companies that she knows meet the standards we have here in CT…including Blue Bunny ice cream, which she knows to meet our state standards. While I’m still not enamored with the idea that kids have ice cream available for purchase daily, I do understand more now that this is to help with the costs of running school lunch programs and a la carte items are one way to help offest those costs.  I am MUCH more comfortable with the idea that those ice creams available to the kids for purchase  have to meet the same standards that anything else in a school cafeteria , which means they cannot be over a certain number of calories, fat content or sodium content.  I (wrongly) assumed, as many other parents have when I have spoken with them, that those ice cream products offered to the kids in the a la carte line were the same as what we could see in the grocery store freezer cases.  They aren’t. The folks at Blue Bunny and my guide, Cindy (thank you Cindy!), were really great about showing me just what met our standards and what the calorie counts must be for snacks, serving sizes, sodium content, etc.



Be sure to like Tray Talk for Parents!

 So now that you know what I’ve learned- my question to you is this.  Did you learn anything new about school nutrition programs from this post? Do you have more questions?

3 ways to enjoy Cheerios Protein #CheeriosProtein

There’s really two things I eat for breakfast regularly. I’m pretty boring and pretty basic. It’s almost always eggs or cereal with milk. Eggs are broken yolk, over hard- basically, cook ’em until they are rubbery and then I’m happy.  With cereal, plain is where it’s always been for me.  One of my favorite cereals since childhood and even today is Cheerios.  I eat them for breakfast and I eat them for snacks on the go.  I love them.  My family loves them too.  Some of them like Honey Nut Cheerios more than the classic version, but me? Original.  The classic. That ever familiar yellow box. When Cheerios reached out and asked if I’d like to try their new Cheerios Protein, I was willing, although the 5 year old deep inside my head was all “I’m not going to like it as much as my yellow box variety!”

Cheerios Protein. There are clusters of Oats & Honey, and Cinnamon Almond. Clusters of crunch.  Clusters of yum.

Move over, regular Cheerios. You’ve been replaced.


Who doesn’t want more protein for breakfast (ok maybe kids don’t, but adults, we have to pay attention to things like this!) ? We have a really busy schedule in the summer, with swim team practice, tennis lessons for the kids and then swim and dive lessons.  All daily.  We need a GREAT start to our day even in the summer to keep our energy up! During the school year, my kids are early risers, and they are done with breakfast by 6:30 am.  Their lunch waves aren’t until 11:40 and later at our school, so I really try to make sure they have a great breakfast every day.


Three ways to enjoy Cheerios Protein


In a bowl with milk (Note: Tastes amazing with Silk Almond Milk!)

On top of a bowl of yogurt (Yogurt is all of our mid morning snack in this family, and the kids will be happy to have some of these to sprinkle on top for their snack at school.  We are all about the crunch in this house, and Cheerios Protein delivers on that).

Plain as a snack (My favorite. The kids and I have been packing these in our snack bags for the pool almost daily. So good).


So why am I so excited about the new Cheerios Protein? Well, getting this family going in the morning means that I need to get going. I need the protein and energy as much as the kids.  We ALL need it.  More protein gives us the energy to do what we need to do and keep our bellies full! So many parents (even me, at times) don’t feel that their familygets enough protein in the morning. 2 out of every 5 see the time it takes to make a protein-rich breakfast as a barrier, making way for Cheerios Protein as the time-saving solution. Sure, a big spread would be nice, but it’s rare for anyone to have the time to make that kind of breakfast let alone sit down to eat it these days.

While 9 out of ten (89%) parents see the importance of starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast, half (51%) admit there isn’t time to prepare it. We all have places to be and things to do.  It’s how our society is.  Having cereal that’s giving me- and the family- an extra boost of protein in our cereal means we’re heading off to those places prepared for the day (at least, our bellies are) with enough fuel to last the morning.

Have you tried the new Cheerios Protein? Which is your favorite?



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

Things to do before you travel #LifeLockSafety

Being prepared for a vacation can make or break the entire experience. If you’re anything like me, you spend countless hours preparing to make sure that nothing is forgotten. I make lists. I make lists of my lists. I go over and over the luggage, to be sure that each article of clothing is included. Next, I check that we each have everything we need in our carry on bags, all of our personal hygiene items are packed, we’ve got cash, cards, itinerary’s, tickets, hotel reservations, etc.   Once I’m satisfied that we’ve packed each and everything we need, I inevitably spend the entire ride to the airport wondering whether we’ve remembered to close the garage door, shut off the iron, and lock all the doors.

One thing I never thought about, however, was that traveling actually leaves you even more open to another kind of threat. Identity theft. Advertisement Luckily, I have peace of mind against identity theft. I have LifeLock! LifeLock is at the forefront of identity theft protection.


In fact, a recent article on their website gives some awesome tips to help protect you against identity theft during the summer travel season.   Here are a few of the my favorites things to do before you travel from the LifeLock list:

Stop mail: Call your local post office and have your mail stopped while on vacation. Letting it pile up, or even having a neighbor deliver it, is an indicator to predators that you are not home.  

Call your bank and credit card companies: Be sure to alert them that you will be traveling. Alerting them to when and where you will be traveling will help them to monitor your accounts right along with you.

Don’t tell the world you’re traveling: Save your travel photos until you return home, when possible, and be careful sharing on social networks that you will be traveling.


These are just a few of the many great tips provided by LifeLock. Be sure to read the full list here. LifeLock also has a new book out called  “Stolen Identity: What Anyone with a Name, Birthdate and Social Security Number Needs to Know Now.” Identity theft is one of the most widespread and fast-evolving crimes, but many people don’t realize that it goes far beyond having a credit card number stolen. It can jeopardize your healthcare, block you from receiving the tax refund you’re due, interfere with a job or loan, and even run up debt for your children or elderly parents. Learn more about the alarming ways identity in which thieves operate today and what you can do to reduce your chances of having your identity stolen.

I value the peace of mind I get with LifeLock, and would love to share it with all of my readers. Hop on over to the site and use the promo code “LifeLockSafety” for 10%!

lifelock logo

This post is brought to you by our partnership with LifeLock. Opinions are my own.

One of my readers will win the new LifeLock new book, “Stolen Identity: What Anyone with a Name, Birthdate and Social Security Number Needs to Know Now.”

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?