Monday, February 25, 2013

Review Roundup and a Contest too! - February 25, 2013

The fact that I love getting to try new products and then write about them sometimes gets me into a bit of trouble. I'm not a review or a giveaway blogger, nor do I aspire to be, but I like throwing both things in from time to time. So when I got two big packages from Purex Insiders at the same time (and right after I got the Dry Idea package), I must admit I was a bit overwhelmed! But I am going to tell you about both things right here.

First, I got to try Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blend cereal. And I didn't like it. It was just a mashup of far too many flavors, overly sweet and then tangy and then coconutty, fighting for space on my tongue. It didn't work for me - but I do LOVE Honey Bunches of Oats Vanilla Clusters, so I'm not giving up on this particular cold cereal brand. I'm just not going to be buying a box of this flavor any time soon.

That said, I would be all about winning a prize from Honey Bunches of Oats and Outrigger Hotels and Resorts. The grand prize is a four-night stay at Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach for two people. Ah, that's a lovely dream - a vacation with just me and my husband...alone... Maybe instead one of you will win and you'll take me as a guest, and he can stay home with our beautiful child having oodles of fun. Right? First place winners get a year's supply of Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash Detergent (I've used Purex Natural Elements detergent before - without being given a free sample, no less! - and liked how it cleaned my clothes) and Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blends. (Hey, you might like it better than I did!) ENTER HERE! You totally want to!

Next, I got to try Soft Scrub All Purpose Bath and Kitchen Cleanser in the lemon scent. And this stuff I really liked. I tried it on my kitchen countertops and it got off a ton of gunk. I tried it on various sinks in my house and it was excellent at making them shine. The lemon scent wasn't overly perfumey and didn't linger (nor make me want to run out of the room). I'd buy this again.

Soft Scrub is also holding a contest - lucky you! You can win some great prizes, including $1,000 cash and a year's supply of Soft Scrub - ENTER HERE!

Now for my contest. Two people will win two coupons each - one for a free Soft Scrub product and one for a free box of Honey Bunches of Oats. (Yes, that's a random combination.) Contest open to U.S. addresses only. Contest runs until March 8, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was given free samples of both Soft Scrub Total All Purpose Bath and Kitchen Cleanser and Honey Bunches of Oats Tropical Blend so I could review them. My participation is voluntary and all opinions are mine - obviously.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Day My Daughter Hung Out with the President - February 2013

One Sunday night in February, I was getting ready for my daughter to go to camp the next day (held in the same building as her pre-K program since school was out for the week). Ping! Up popped an email from her teacher, which I thought was odd because while we always get a weekly update, school was out.

The email shared the news - President Obama had chosen Decatur, Georgia - my city - and College Heights - my daughter's pre-K school - to visit on Thursday.

The President. Would Be Visiting. My Daughter's School.



I screamed! A lot!

Let us get this out of the way right now: I'm an unabashed Obama fan. If that bothers you, stop reading my blog. And please do not try to get political with me because that is not what this is about. Thank you. 

So the real reason he was coming to Decatur was that he was also going to give a speech about universal pre-K. He'd picked my city/my kid's public school as a great example of that program working here in Georgia.

We were given very few details as the week went on. The school would reopen during vacation and all of the kids were invited to return for a full day. No parents would be allowed in after dropoff. That's pretty much it. (And yes, I was jealous for a few minutes of my five-year-old child.) Her teacher did call me though - and she asked me to add something special to her AAC device - "It's nice to meet you, Mr. President."

The day of the President's arrival (Valentine's Day!) was basically like any other school day - except with a metal detector and Secret Service agents. I was afraid that the AAC device might cause problems, but I had asked earlier and was assured it wouldn't, and it was fine. Overall, the security process was easier than going to an airport - I even got to keep my shoes on. They ran a wand very quickly over my kid - she just thought it was funny. The walker got a cursory glance. The talker was looked over and returned to me to put in its case. Everything was kept very quick and casual.

As we walked down the hall, some of the Secret Service agents noticed my daughter running with her walker and smiled and cheered her on. "Look at her go!" But we noticed that there were two VERY SERIOUS agents who did not smile or do much other than look menacing stationed outside of her classroom door. (As they should!) And there were a few other clues that the President was going to be going INTO HER CLASSROOM. There are several pre-K classes, so this was a BIG DEAL. (I found out later that it was chosen for reasons that you might not actually expect, but basically it was pretty likely just a coincidence that it was my kid's class or even an inclusion class at all - and still, it WAS my kid's class!)

I reluctantly left her in the capable hands of her teachers and then spent the day with a friend, watching for the motorcade. As it finally passed by me, after it left the school, I got a glimpse of Mr. Obama's head - he had cracked the window and was looking at us all, which was really wonderful. He wasn't buried in text messaging, phone calls, or paperwork - he was taking Decatur in. The only protesters/dissenters I saw were from PETA (they were dressed as elephants and their signs were about the mistreatment of elephants in the circus - the kids around us who were also waving at the motorcade were REALLY EXCITED to see elephants). It was one big fun party out there.

The President was taken to the rec center where he gave a rousing speech on the importance of early education - and he was introduced by my daughter's amazing teacher Mary, who happens to not only have won Teacher of the Year but also is the lead special education teacher for preschool and pre-K. I'm so happy for her and so proud and...yeah. Gushy gushgush.

And when we picked the kid up from school at the end of the day, she told us she played with sand, she mentioned the library, she gave us a thumbs up, but there was no mention of the great man she'd met. I checked the media and found lots of pictures where she's in the background (and you can see her walker in a lot of them and another classmate's Dynavox is front and center in some) - but I have been told that the press pool was only allowed in the room for a short time and then asked to leave, while the President stayed and worked with/met the rest of the kids and at some point took a group picture. The pictures from that portion of the day (taken by the official White House photographer) have not been made available to me yet, but I'm hopeful they will be someday. 

The President hung out with the kids while they did "small group" work - four groups of four kids, each one focusing on another learning activity. He also attended a school assembly and according to a very brief clip I saw on the White House website, he sang and did the hand motions to the song about community that the kids always sing. So everyone in the school got to interact with him a little.

And as for my daughter specifically? She was able to greet the President with her AAC device (a Prentke Romich Vantage Lite2 for those new to my blog). He asked her name and she was able to answer. And she got a hug! And I realized that if this had all happened before she got her talker, she wouldn't have been able to do most of that. She is getting better with her verbal speech and among other things, she can say her name--and she can even say Obama. But she's hard to understand right now. Instead she was able to have a CONVERSATION. It still makes me choke up.

There are several children with IEPs in my daughter's inclusion class (and more than one who uses an AAC device). The President was also in a room with children of all economic backgrounds. Children who were born in the United States and children who were born in other countries. Children of all colors, shapes, and sizes. It's just how Decatur is. He definitely noticed - he mentioned many of these things in his speech. I hope that somehow the inclusion model made an impression on him and that maybe he will think of this experience when fighting for things like insurance reform, which affects my kid directly.

So that's how my daughter got to meet the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States Barack Obama. And yes, I'm still a bit jealous.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Contest: Win two coupons for a free Dry Idea product!

Sometimes I get to try new products and talk about them, and I always think that's fun. This time I was invited to try out Dry Idea AdvancedDry Fresh brand deodorant and antiperspirant. All opinions are mine and I didn't get any payment for this post other than a free bottle of the deodorant and the coupons to give away. They can't make me say anything neener neener.

My review: I like that it lasts for 72 hours and I think it's really interesting that it has this "pulse activated" system to keep you from being all sweaty and disgusting. Plus it smells good - a clean, green-ish scent. I have used it and it works as promised. On the downside, I really don't like roll-on/liquid deodorants because you have to wait for them to dry on your skin (annoying and time consuming) although they probably work better than solids/sticks.

I'll definitely continue to use the freebie they sent me, and if it's on sale in the future I might consider it, but I'll probably stick to sticks. Not much else to say here, honestly (and really, do you want to hear all about my sweat? no, you do not).

So on to the good stuff - do you want to win two coupons for one free Dry Idea roll-on, gel, or aerosol product? SURE YOU DO!
Contest runs from February 11, 2013, through February 22, 2013. US addresses only please. Winner will receive two coupons for one free Dry Idea product. Enjoy!

Rafflecopter, take it away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Great Deals on Valentine's Day cards, photo books, and gifts from Shutterfly! - February 5, 2013

I'm now a Shutterfly affiliate - and I signed up to be one because I really love the products and services that Shutterfly provides! This means I can now offer promo codes for Shutterfly as well as information about all sorts of great deals - just please note that they are affiliate links -- I do get some money if you click them and sign up for things, but I don't endorse products in which I do not believe.

Here are the current promo codes that are available so you can get your photo books, photo gifts, Valentine's Day cards, and more, all for a really reasonable price! (I particularly love the $10 off $10 deal - but hurry, these deals end tomorrow!) Thanks for looking!

$10 off $10 from with promo code LOVESTRUCK. Offer valid 2/1-2/6

Free Valentine's Day card from with promo code CARD4U. Offer valid 2/1-2/6

Up to 40% off all photo books from Offer valid 2/1-2/6

20% off most photo gifts from Offer valid 2/1-2/6

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Thrifting post with terrible pictures - February 2, 2013

I currently am under contract for a really nice freelance gig, but it requires me to work somewhat regular hours, so I don't have the free time I usually do when I make my own hours/work evenings and weekends. Yesterday I left immediately after I finished up my day to hang out with my thrifty friend. We went into three stores total - my favorite tiny indie store, my second-favorite large-ish indie store, and one Goodwill (at which I bought....NOTHING....).

When we got back to her house, my daughter pulled everything out of the bags and then my friend folded each piece beautifully and lovingly. I got home and realized I couldn't remember which piece of clothing came from where (not that anyone really cares, but I like to keep track because I'm ridiculous that way!) so I'm going to just guess. Also as you will see I unfolded everything and made a giant mess. Plus I Photoshopped some of these pictures and left some alone. Forgive me. Just enjoy the general idea of Thrifting Is Fun, OK?

First, the kid clothes. Everything below was either 50 cents or 70 cents.

Matching thermal shirts.

Gymboree top. I forget the leggings brand. They don't necessarily go together but it made for an easier picture.

These capris sparkle. They're really cute. I hope they fit her!

Technically a Gymboree pajama top but I might see if the kid will wear it during the day. Either way, adorable.

Long sleeved, short sleeved.

I adore both of these shirts.

This one's a bit big but she's also growing really fast...
And now for what Mama got.

Another running skirt for about a dollar. It's by Avia and it looks brand new.

Plain, boring brown shirt for days when all I want is a plain, boring brown shirt. I think this was $2?

Super cute, super soft T-shirt. $1.50.

Back of shirt.

I bought this shirt (for $1.50) because it had a cute design (and a squirrel that you can't really see). I looked it up because it seemed kind of fancy. It's by a brand named Lucy and is worth about $35. So it cost more new than every single thing I bought yesterday. I love thrifting so hard.

Basic brown capris.

Jamba Juice shirt. I don't even remember if I've ever been to a Jamba Juice, and I don't know if this shirt is for employees or for buying or what. But it's cute and it fit. $1.50, maybe?

Express top. $2-ish. Update: After I washed it, I was folding it to put it away and saw what I missed when I bought it - a hole on the back. A hole large enough that it would be rather obvious if I wore it out and about. I threw it away. Dear everyone who donates to a thrift store: If there is a hole or a stain, please don't donate it. Freecycle it if you must, but don't get someone to pay for something that is unwearable. That's just rude. Thanks.

Terrible awful non-flattering picture of a really lovely Ann Taylor Loft dress (from before Loft was just Loft). I think this was $4-ish. I folded it up in the picture, but it's actually a really long skirt.

Ridiculous ringer shirt event or something? I have no idea, but I liked how it fit. $1.50.