Tuesday, July 26, 2011

blue sky home series review and giveaway

you know the summer is winding down when people start asking the kids if they are ready to go back to school...that and all the glaring "back to school special" signs all over target.

i am feeling pretty thankful right now that we still have another month before we have to think about heading back to school.  this fall i will have three different kids going to three different schools.  i can feel myself start to panic, just thinking about it.  thanks to the blue sky home series of calendars and planners, i'm starting to think i may just be able to keep everything straight after all.

above you can see the weekly/monthly compact planner ($9.99).  i really like how there is a monthly overview view, alongside a "do," "call," "buy" page.  i think this is the section each month that i will use the most.  i really like having a monthly overview so that i can get a big picture of what is on our plates.  when you turn the page, there is a week by week place to write everything you have to do each day, or driving directions to the places you have to go, or any other information you might need for each day.  each month has its own tab so you can easily flip to the appropriate place in your planner.

the next tab is for essential info.  here you can write down medical contact information, personal contact information, plan a trip or a party, make a list of essentials for the car or for the grocery store.  i don't think i will use these as much.  i would love a grocery list that tore out but this only has a couple pages that certainly won't last the whole year.

the last tab is labeled "notes."  i think this will be very handy.  i like to have a place to jot blog posts and ideas when i'm out and about.  i can see myself pulling this out when i'm in the car waiting to pick up kids and getting some "work" done that i wouldn't otherwise be able to do.

i'm sure those of you with smart phones and ipads (jealous intake of breath) are thinking you have no need of paper versions of these things.  i feel like, even if i ever manage to get an ipad, i will always want to have a paper calendar and paper for notes.  i like to be able to write stuff down and see it in hard copy form so that it will stick in my brain better.  i think the blue sky home series is stylish and pleasing to the eye so i will actually enjoy carrying this planner around and using it throughout the school year to keep track of the various school events and activities that i'm sure we will have going on.
i also received a mousepad/notepad with "do," "call, "buy" headings on it ($5.99).  i like the idea of this because i am always reading an important email, thinking about what i have to do, call or buy and then forgetting as soon as i log off the computer.  this way i have the pad handy, ready for anything that i need to remember after i leave the computer.  unfortunately, my mouse isn't working as well on top of the paper so i will probably just keep this next to the computer instead of using it for a mousepad.  i'm hoping this will help me keep track of the things i need to be sure to do better than i've been doing so far.

i have to admit, when i first received this last product, i thought it was a little weird.  door hanger to-do lists ($9.99)?  i am not the kind of person to hang things on my door knob.  i wasn't sure i would ever make use of these.  then i realized that they would make great chores lists for the kids.  we had returned from vacation after school ended, and i knew i wanted to institute a better method of checking off chores.  i wrote a list for each child, laminated it and now they keep them on the door knob in their rooms.  each day i can wipe off their check marks for us to start again.  i also made one for each of the rooms in the house that i wanted help cleaning.  the system isn't working perfectly due to human error, but the door knob lists have been fabulous.  i'm glad to have a whole pad available for other lists i will want to make when school starts.  i can also envision using them before a field trip, science fair or some other school event where we need to remember to bring extra things to school with us.

overall, i am very pleased with the blue sky home series.  the quality of the paper is excellent and perfect for this type of usage.  the series offers 14 different products, all under $10 (an excellent price for the quality).  one other product that i am interested in is the big monthly desk calendars ($9.99 for a variety of choices).  i would love to put together a family calendar using those so we can all see what is coming up for the month.  there is also a weekly family board (dry erase for $5.99) if your family prefers operating on a weekly basis.  i may have to purchase the grocery checklist ($3.99) with tear-off sheets to facilitate my weekly shopping trips. you should be able to find all of these products at target, as well as at the blue sky home series website.

i am so excited to be able to offer a giveaway package to one of you readers. just leave me a comment telling me what your best organizational tip is. i will choose a winner using random.org on august 1, 2011 (usa residents only).

i received three different calendar/planning products (and a set to giveaway) from blue sky home series/susy jack contemporary paper. regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

playtex sippy cups and teethers review

remember when lilianna was this little? 

i don't either.

i do remember wondering how i was going to get her to drink from a cup when she had never really had a drink from a bottle.  i was ready for her to have more water during the day but had no earthly idea how to get her to drink.

that was about the time i was introduced to the "first lil' gripper" cup by playtex.  for me, this felt like a miracle sippy cup.  i could put the straw in her mouth and then squeeze the cup a little bit to get her started.  as she felt the water in her mouth, she naturally started sucking and began the process of drinking on her own.

you can tell by the death grip lilianna has on the cup in this picture (who cares if i'm in my sunday best and prime for picture-taking?  i will absolutely not let go of this cup!), that we had to make sure always to have one handy.

since we never wanted to be without a sippy cup, i was glad to have this cheaper bpa- and phalate-free option available to us, compared to some of the pricier brands that also are free of the harmful chemicals. 

while the packaging says it is 100% break-proof and leak-proof, occasionally when we are trying to fill it for her, water will come up through the straw.  this makes it seem like it is leaking.  since we only give her water, this hasn't really been a problem for us, but if you are going to put juice or milk in there, you will want to close it carefully (with the straw flipped down) so that the suction doesn't force milk or juice out of the straw before you are ready.

we have four of these cups, and i have been completely happy with them.  even now that lilianna is able to drink out of a variety of sippy cups, i still like the easy-grip handles and the fact that it is so easy to clean compared to other cups.  i just pull the straw out, wash the three pieces in soapy water and let dry.  while it says that the pieces are top-rack dishwasher safe, i prefer not to wash anything plastic in the dishwasher.  regardless, i have not had any problems keeping this cup clean.

what has been a problem (how do you like that segue?) is teething.  for a really long time, lilianna had no teeth.  then, she had two.  then, she decided to make up for lost time and grow 6 teeth all at once.  i don't know who was more miserable, her or me.

i had this great idea to try the new playtex teethers.  they look just like pacifiers, but they have a ridged flatish silicon piece instead of the nipple.  i thought it would be perfect for lilianna.  she could hold it with her hand and bite on it to her heart's content.  i even thought of trying it myself for stressful moments. 

unfortunately, she didn't like it as much as i did.  she tried to just stick it in her mouth and forget about it, just like a pacifier.  it was too hard to hold in her mouth that way so she would give me a dirty look and toss it over her shoulder.

i wonder now if i had used it earlier with her, or if she wasn't so used to a pacifier, maybe it would have been more acceptable to her.  like the cups, they are bpa-free and easy-to-clean. 

i still think they are a great concept.  too bad lilianna didn't agree with me!

i received a free sippy cup and set of teethers from playtex for the purpose of this review.  regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

general mills kung fu panda giveaway

sometimes it is hard to know who is more excited about certain movie releases, bill or the kids. kung fu panda 2 is one of those movies. we have long been fans of jack black; we were thrilled to observe that everything we love about jack black's characters translates into loveable po the panda.

we're all looking forward to seeing part 2 as soon as possible. until that time, we are enjoying the kung fu panda disc launchers that are available in many general mills cereals: cocoa puffs® (11.8 oz.), trix® (10.7 oz.), golden grahams® (12 oz.), reese’s puffs® (13 oz.), cheerios® (14 oz.), apple cinnamon cheerios® (12.9 oz.), cookie crisp® (11.25 oz.), lucky charms® (11.5 oz.), cinnamon toast crunch (12.8 oz.) and honey nut cheerios (12.25 oz.).

we also want to get ready for the sequel by watching the original a few more times. thanks to general mills, you have an opportunity to watch the original kung fu panda over and over again yourself. just leave a comment below telling me your favorite character from kung fu panda. you can have a second entry by subscribing to this blog. i will choose a winner on july 10 using random.org. make sure to leave me your email address so i can contact you if you win (usa residents only).

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