This contest is now over. Thank you for all who entered!! The winner has been notified via email. Have a great school year!! –steph
Thank you to Staples for providing a backpack for me to review (and for my daughter to keep), and for providing another backpack for a reader give away. Your generosity is appreciated.
It’s back-to-school frenzy season. I have a bit more time with my kids before they head back — our district isn’t beginning until after Labor Day this year. In fact we JUST got the supply list this past week and I was startled when I checked around that the local stores were already picked clean and were gearing up for Halloween!!
I don’t host very many reviews or giveaways on this site, and opt to keep them on the review page, but wanted to make sure that you don’t miss out on this cool offer.
I’ve got a seventh grader this year.
A VERY PICKY SEVENTH GRADER. (said with love, lots and lots and lots of love. I was picky in seventh grade, too.)
Her chosen backpack last year didn’t hold up to being jammed into a locker and kicked around after school during soccer practice. The bottom seam ripped and I ended up securing it with duct tape in April.
The backpack that Staples sent over? It’s wonderful. It’s terribly durable (it’s made by SwissGear, the founders of the Swiss Army Knife) and meets the seventh-grader-it needs-to-look-cool-but-not-too-cool-like-I’m-trying-to-look-cool-test.
I like that there’s a padded pocket in it for future laptop use, and I like that since we don’t have a laptop for her, she can stuff an extra binder into that slot. The straps are nicely padded and don’t dig into her shoulders even when it’s weighed down.
There are a few “secret” compartments, which is quite helpful since she just got braces and needs to carry around dental supplies.
I think you’ll really dig this backpack — it looks like it will hold up for a very long time; I’m impressed.
Staples has got pretty much anything you might possibly need for back-to-school supplies, and
would like to offer a backpack for the student in your home. One lucky winner will receive a brand new backpack of their choosing — up to a $60 value.
To enter this contest, simply leave a comment below with a valid email address in the email line. I’ll randomly choose a winner in a week — so this contest will end on Tuesday, August 27th at 5pm pacific time.
I’d also like to throw in a copy of my Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life book for the lucky winner since it follows the school calendar. This is it! This is the year you’re going to get organized!
good luck to all!
this will be the best school year, ever. I promise!
Spring Break and Summer Vacation are sneaking up on me. We’ve got Spring Break the week leading into Easter, and then have another day off to recover from the holiday. That’s 6 days of me being home with all three kids that I’ve got to figure out how to fill so I’m not subjected to days upon days of Netflixed episodes of The Wizards of Waverly Place or (#someonepleasehelpme) Caillou.
[side bar: did you know there was an I Hate Caillou page on Café Mom? Hysterical.]
Anyhow, when BlogHer asked if I’d test out the subscription-based Kiwi Crate art box, I said #yespleaseandthankyou right away.
[another side bar: I had this as a work-from-home business idea back in 2003. I was going to call them Preschool Packets and make up worksheets and art projects and sell them online, and on Ebay. I think I have a domain name or two that I'm still paying for...]
My idea was complete amateur hour compared to the Kiwi Crates. This is a very well designed and executed product. I initially thought the art boxes were kind of pricey at $19.95 each, but once I saw what they entailed, I changed my mind.
The “crate” is a thick cardboard box–the kind a really expensive pair of shoes comes in-and the kind that my kids COVET for all of their collections (more often than not the “collection” is gum wrappers, or Popsicle sticks, or soda can tabs. #Icantevenexplainhowmuchthisannoysme) and the art supplies are wrapped in tissue paper.
The presentation worked on my kids–they were instantly excited and could hardly wait to dig in.
Our box contained three art projects: a stained glass mosaic, a color-your-own spinning top, and a canvas art bag that was colored by wetting tissue paper squares with a water dropper. Totally cool. The box also contained two bluntish Fiskars kid scissors, markers, and 3-D glasses.
We invited our neighbors over, and pulled out some construction paper and stickers to keep the babies busy. I had 2 seven-year-olds, a ten-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 2-year-old all sharing the supplies from this box (along with the aforementioned stickers and paper for the little guys).
The kids worked straight for about an hour, and really enjoyed themselves. The markers were small and were a bit dried out; so I replaced them with our own Crayola washables.
All the kids occupied themselves long enough for my friend Jen and me to make and enjoy two cups of coffee. And
That is so worth $19.95.
Also, we have enough leftover for a few more collage projects, and the kids are enjoying the canvas art bags (good quality; the baby put in a bunch of pointy rocks and dragged it around outside) and the Fiskars scissors will last a life time.
If I wanted to buy everything at Michael’s and put this together myself I’d spend more than the $20 and would have to prep everything–not something I’m honestly going to do.
I really like this as a gift idea. I’m going to see if I can get the grandparents on board and get an annual subscription for the kids for Christmas this year. I think the kids will get a kick out of opening a new box with a new activity/project each month and the anticipation of awaiting a new arrival. They really like mail as it is.
In the mean time, I’m going to sign up to get us through the summer months. We’re laying low again-I hate paying for lots of activities, and I really like having the kids home with me, even if they argue and bicker more than I’d like them to. (socialization! in action!)
And the projects are cool. My tweenager (#notmymostfavoriteterm) was all into the art supplies, and I can definitely see her and her friends working on these types of art activities together out in the yard.
Before they head off to middle school next year.
Which isn’t okay with me.
I wonder if Kiwi Crate has some sort of time machine project where I can have the kids on “pause” for a while?
I admit it. I got sucked into the Pinterest bubble. I find this site *fascinating.* I’m fascinated by how quickly it’s grown, what a monumental force it is in driving web traffic, and how it’s such a colossal waste of time.
fascinating. utterly fascinating.
I must admit, though, that there is definitely a feeling of anxiety and insecurity when it comes to Pinterest. It’s easy to feel that if you aren’t already engaging in the site you’ve missed the boat (not true), or if you are on the site that you aren’t doing it “right.” Again, not true.
I did a little work for BlogHer this week. I spoke on a social media and how it effects women’s commerce panel, and wrote a little fluff piece on how Pinterest is a big traffic driver and shouldn’t be ignored. I still feel that way–this site should not be ignored.
I stayed away for quite a while (I joined last month at the encouragement from an IRL friend) because I was scared to get sucked into yet another THING. I’m kind of tired of having to “check just one more thing” before logging off the computer.
And then I started tracking my google analytics and realized that this THING was driving a crapload (technical term) of traffic my way. Pinterest is now my #2 traffic driver to the slow cooker site (after google) – I easily get thousands of hits a day from it. This isn’t someTHING to ignore.
(embarrassing disclosure: I’m not a typical BlogHer member. I’m a very late adopter to technical things. My slowcooker url is still on blogspot, I don’t have a facebook account, I was late to join twitter, and I don’t own a smart phone).
That said: If you aren’t on Pinterest yet, I’m going to boldly suggest that you poke around a bit, and create an account—even if you’re just doing so to claim your name. To see what from your site has been “pinned,” type the following into your browser bar:
It’s important to see what has already been pinned so you can then maybe re-link or refresh these particular articles, and to see what type of writing is currently the most appealing and most likely to be shared.
I wrote those words on Wednesday. Today is Friday. I still stand by them, but I have one caveat: be careful. If you are the type of person who gets intimidated easily by women sharing all the (perceived) wonderfulness of their lives, tread carefully.
Don’t follow as many people as you can; follow your friends (maybe even your in-real-life friends, not your blogging friends). Don’t believe that just because so-and-so repinned a photo of a “fabulous mudroom” her mudroom actually looks like that. Don’t assume that EVERYONE is doing art projects with their kids every hour of every day. Don’t get sucked into wanting to throw away all of your clothes to buy all new ones. Don’t make the mistake of judging a person’s bank account because they repinned a pair of $450 boots. They probably didn’t click through to see what the boots cost.
at least I hope that’s the case. otherwise my own boots feel terribly unworthy.
Pinterest is women-driven. And although most people (men) would think that men are the competitive sex, I’m going to suggest it’s actually women. Women want to do everything well all the time. Or at least we want to make it look that way. The fact that Pinterest is actually a vision board is quite telling. This isn’t real. This is a fantasy. Take a deep breath and remember that you are already good enough. You don’t need to have rockhard abs while whipping up 37 different varieties of cheesecake in order to feel good about yourself.
just be you.
56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest on CopyBlogger
Stop Being a Pinterest Sexist on Clever Girls
What are your thoughts on Pinterest? Important? A Waste of Time? Just another social media THING? (my pinterest page is here, pinterest/stephanieodea)
The Business of Blogging series:
and other stuff:
November 2nd, 2011. I know. I can’t believe it, either.
Things have been quiet on this blog for quite a while—-I keep thinking of things to write about, but then Life happens and the thought/urge/will disappears.
A few years ago I would have been annoyed at myself, but these days I’m just kind of rolling with it. It feels good to be free.
Did you enjoy your Halloween? I did. There are many more children in our neighborhood now, and I really got a kick out of seeing new little (sticky) faces running up and down the street as they compared bounty and reported on the “good houses.”
While I followed the baby make her way up and down the stairs (the big kids were up ahead with their friends) it really struck me how even in a friendly neighborhood where you think you know everybody, you don’t. I don’t. I surprised myself at how very little I know about the guy with the white truck who always takes the garbage cans out early in the afternoon instead of waiting for the last minute, and how I never knew where the fast-walking mom with the expensive Bob stroller lives. I didn’t know the mail lady lived only three streets away. I didn’t know that the older gentleman who stops almost daily to chat about roses (they came with the house — I know nothing about roses) lived in the green house with the peeled paint that I drive by 6 or 7 times a day. And I didn’t know he had a cat; now I have something else to talk to him about.
How can I live in a tight-knit community and not really know anyone? I know natural disasters are supposed to bring neighbors together— surely I can’t wait for that to happen.
No. I can’t.
but I can walk a little slower and stop and chat when I’m on the way to the library. I can leave the house a few minutes earlier to go get the kids and pick new people in the school yard to talk to. I can return conversation in the checkout line instead of trying to get all my gossip-reading in as quick as possible.
I can get to know the person, the real person, behind the picket fence. Or the stroller. Or the library bag. Or the shopping cart. Or the truck with the offensive bumper sticker (well, maybe not that guy).
So that’s my plan for November. To try to connect— to be a better listener. Every house I hurry by on my way to somewhere else has a real person, or a real family, with a real story, and I can’t keep pretending that I (or my own family, my own problems) am the only one that matters.