Friday, July 24, 2015

Support local schools while back to school shopping {Plus a giveaway!}

Raise your hand if you're a procrastinator!

I confess that I tend to put things off and wait until the last minute a lot, especially when it comes to things like back to school shopping. First of all, here in Washington, we start late- like usually the first week of September. So while all of my other mama friends all over the country are stocking up and getting their kids' supplies in July and August, I'm sitting back thinking "Suckers! I've got until September." Well, that plan always fails when the back to school sales come and go, everything has been picked over, and I'm left scrambling on Labor Day trying to find all of these very specific classroom items on my children's school shopping list. It happens pretty much every year. Not this time! This year I vowed to get things done early, and I even saved money and helped out my local school in one easy stop at Walmart, where I did back to school shopping like a boss.

OK, I already mentioned what a slacker I am when it comes to all things back to school. This year I've got two kids to shop for, plus a very needy, active 1 year old at home, so I pretty much need the easiest and least painful way as possible. That means getting everything in one place and not spending a fortune, and I know exactly where to go for that kind of thing: Walmart. It really is the place to go for one-stop shopping. Plus, you can't beat their prices, especially on school supplies.

I zipped down to my local Walmart store and thankfully, they had some very well-stocked aisles! That's the key to successful back to school shopping: go early. Sounds simple enough, but trust me, you don't want to have to play tug-of-war with another mom over the last gold-dipped 3 ring binder the teacher is requesting this year (kidding). In all seriousness though, you don't want to drive all over town looking for what they need, or up the first day and grimace while you explain to the teacher why you don't have everything on the list. Been there, done that. Sorry teachers- I know, I suck at this.

Did I mention that I helped out my local schools while doing my back to school shopping? You might be asking how I did this, and I'll explain: box tops. Box tops for education- have you heard of them? We've been collecting them for years in my household, ever since my oldest child was in kindergarten and we first heard of the program. Basically, you see them in the store on items, clip the box tops from select brands, and turn them into your school, where they trade them in for cash. The school gets $.10 for each box top. 10 box tops = $1.00, which adds up really quickly! We have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends who clip box tops for us, so every few months we'll get a little bag full of a hundred or so extras to turn in along with the 100 or so that we have. 100 box tops is $10 for the school! It's such an amazing program and such a simple way to raise funds for local schools, which we all know could use some extra cash.

Walmart has specially marked Kimberly Clark products with bonus box tops on them so you can shop back to school like a boss and stock up on your family's household paper needs. I already use and love these paper towels- the Viva Vantage ones really are my favorite brand, so those were a no-brainer. The rest is all stuff we needed and I opted for these brands simply because of the bonus box tops. I do that a lot! If I'm looking at a certain product and I see one similar with box tops, I almost always grab the one with the box tops on it. Check out the bonus box tops on these!

Just with these 3 products I got 20 box tops, which equals $2.00 for the school just in one quick shopping trip. If every kid turned in 20 box tops just one time during the school year that would be around $1200 (our elementary school has roughly 600 kids). Now imagine if more people donated 20 box tops each month!

Don't have any kids in school? Don't worry, I'm sure there is someone in your life that you can clip box tops for. Please don't throw them away! It's like throwing away money, and it doesn't take much effort. Clip them and save them for your niece, nephew, grandchildren, cousins, neighbors, kids from church, etc. Or, just give them directly to the school. I'm sure they would appreciate it. It's like giving them cash! I wish I could say I had some fancy-shmancy box top holder, but I just use a zip top baggy held onto the fridge with a magnet. It works.

So that's what I call back to school shopping like a boss! I got the school supplies early (in one stop), stocked up my house on paper supplies, and I earned bonus box tops for my kids' school.

To help kick off your back to school shopping and start your box top collection I'm giving away $25 paypal cash -OR- a 25 Visa gift card (winner's choice). Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below!

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Must be 18 or older to enter. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by and will be notified via email. Winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize before a new winner is chosen.

What are your tips for going back to school? I'd love to hear them! You can join in the conversation on social media- just use the hashtag #BSTLikeABoss, and make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I'll be looking for your tips :)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Life lately + some crafty stuff

We've been having a pretty low-key summer since we got home from vacation. The temps here in Washington state have been  hovering around the 100 degree mark for weeks now, so staying inside with the icy chill of the AC has been a must. Unless you're in water, it's too dang hot to be outside, and venturing out to our favorite summer spot sounds like a lot of work nowadays with Harper around. The big kids and I were able to hit up the lake for a few hours one day while Harper hung out with Grandma. I wanted to take her with us but the secluded spot we frequent doesn't offer a lot of shade, so my blonde, fair-skinned sweetie would have fried out there!

Obligatory beach selfie for Instagram.

This is what they looked like at the end of the day.

We also enjoyed a beautiful day outside at our friends' house for a little play date. My pregnancy/mommy buddy invited us over and had a kiddie pool and slip n' slide set up for the little ones. Now, normally us moms try to get together on a school day and just let the babies play and nap so we can have our "bitch session" on a somewhat regular basis. However, summer has kind of put a damper on our mommy-friendly visits, and we spent more time hollering at the kids, applying sunscreen on wriggling, squirmy bodies, and cleaning up spilled drinks (thanks Harper) than we actually spent talkingwith each other. It was still fun and I managed to scarf down a fair amount of yummy chips and salsa for the afternoon.

I tried my best to get all 5 kiddos in the picture, but you can't really see Harper under her giant hat!

I finally broke out of my crafting rut and started working on a quilt. I've had this fabric forever but wasn't sure what to do with it until now. Doesn't it make the sweetest little baby quilt? 

This was a fun way to quilt it together! I love that it's all random spacing.

Machine binding- my favorite part.

It took me 2 nights to finish this one. More pictures to come later on!

 Up next...

Just as I started getting in my quilting groove, I broke my last machine needle and had to take a break. I hate when that happens! 

That's all for now! I'm working on a new gel polish tutorial for you all very soon :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What to Expect- even the third time around!

As a three time mom, you might think I'd be an expert at all things pregnancy and baby related. Yeah...I may have been through it three times, but most days I feel just as clueless as a new, first-time mom. Every pregnancy is different, and every baby/child is unique! I'm the type of person who has to have all of the information possible on any given topic, so as soon as the big fat positive sign popped up on that first pregnancy test, I was out the door and on my way to pick up the "pregnancy bible": What to Expect® When You're Expecting.

I think everyone has heard of this book- it's spent over 600+ record breaking weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and is recommended by moms and doctors all over the world! I read this book with each one of my pregnancies and loved following along during those 9 long and exciting months while preparing for baby. Like I said, every pregnancy is different, plus when you consider the age gaps between your pregnancies and "mommy brain" (it's a real thing) you definitely need a little refresher course each time around. I loved curling up with What to Expect® every night and check in on what was going on with my body and the tiny, precious little baby that was miraculously growing inside of me. I couldn't get enough! It was all I could think about. It was fascinating to see how that little guy grew every month and the amazing changes my body was going through (and how to prepare and cope with some of those big changes). There's also a special section devoted to eating well, which really helped me keep my weight right on track and stay healthy throughout my pregnancies.

What to Expect® really helped put my mind at ease while pregnant, all three times. You really do forget what things are like and especially with this last pregnancy, I had a hard time remembering if certain symptoms were "normal" or not. Luckily, I had a pregnant buddy who I could compare with and we both would refer to What to Expect® for the real answer. I'd text her something like "OK, is it normal to have shortness of breath, leg cramps, and Braxton Hicks contractions this early? I " And she'd reply with "I haven't had any contractions or cramps, but yeah, it's getting harder to breathe. What to Expect® says it's normal! Stop worrying and put your feet up mama!" 

The best part is that What to Expect® doesn't just end when the baby is born. The end of the book focuses on labor & delivery, postpartum (the first 6 weeks), a section on illnesses, sickness, and complications, and a chapter completely devoted to the dads. The postpartum section is awesome and includes everything you could ever want to know about recovering from labor (all types), breastfeeding, diapering and cleaning your baby, and more. 

Beyond that, there are three other books in the What to Expect® series to help guide you through the first few years of parenting. They are each set up in the same style as the first book, and go through each month in great detail. 

I've read and love What to Expect® the First Year. This book helped me so much as a new mom, and I read it from cover to cover probably a dozen times. It has so much helpful information in there about anything and everything baby related. I actually just consulted it a few days ago when I had a question about weaning and breastfeeding. It also has a section in the back that talks about keeping your baby safe, which includes CPR and first aid information- this is great information that every parent should read! I made my husband go over and familiarize himself with it just in case. I'm so excited to now have What to Expect® the Second Year too so that I have a great reference for beyond the first birthday (which is quickly approaching!)

I recommend this book to all of my expecting mom (and dad) friends! Since I love them so much, I'm offering a giveaway for all four books in the What to Expect® series for one lucky Lulu & Sweet Pea reader.

Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Must be 18 or older to enter. Giveaway is open to US residents only. Winner will be chosen by and will be notified via email. Winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize before a new winner is chosen.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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