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Totally Together

Back to School with Staples — $60 backpack giveaway!

August 20, 2013 by · 154 Comments 

staples back to school backpack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!!

wowsers.

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.

super classy.

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.

back of backpack

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.

inside backpack

  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.

You can choose the one I chose, the SwissGear, or any others from this list, up to $60.

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!

 

Going on a Vision Quest

September 13, 2011 by · 16 Comments 

We recently got back from a roadtrip to Oregon, where we spent (not enough) time at Crater Lake National Park.

If Crater Lake isn’t on your “we really ought to go there” list, I urge you to write it in. I’m a sucker for National Parks. I like being out in nature, but I like the we’re absolutely and perfectly safe feel the National Parks provide with their paved roads, clearly marked signs, trimmed vegetation, readily available flush toilets, and stocked soap dispensers.

I was startled by the  blueness of this lake— it was as if someone had dumped in a vat of crayola paint— the blue didn’t look natural, and yet it was. After watching the video in the visitor’s center, I learned that for many many years Americans didn’t believe this lake existed— they thought it was a myth. I also learned that Native Americans would have annual pilgrimages to the lake for Vision Quests. They believed that they would discover the answer to all of life’s questions by looking deep into the blue water.

I did not have a epiphany while staring into the water. Instead, I was busy keeping the baby from climbing the safety walls and the big kids from trying to touch the ground squirrels (oh my. they were just too cute).

but I felt different. I was acutely aware that I was in a naturally made location that had been this way for hundreds and hundreds of years. I loved that I was able to see the lake with fresh eyes the way the Native Americans or the original pioneers must have (which is difficult in this day and age, since we have Google Earth!).

I loved being in the moment, pausing, and realizing that my two older kids will remember this trip. They’ll remember driving the 30-mile perimeter, and rolling their eyes every time Daddy pulled over to take “just one more picture.” They’ll remember how their mean old mom banned the Nintendo DS for the day. They’ll remember sitting in the squeaky chairs while watching the long and boring movie, and I’ll remember marveling at how well-behaved they were during the long and boring movie.

They’ll definitely remember the ice cream bar. Ice cream is always remembered.

Everyone’s Vision Quest, or life’s purpose is different, and I’d venture to guess it changes pretty often– depending on your age, your choices, and probably the seasons. The revelation comes when you have this startling deep down feeling that you are doing exactly what it is you are *supposed* to be doing.

and again, this is different for every person. It could be being the best darn teacher, or bank teller, or caregiver, or amusement park ride operator ever. It could be any  number of things—- IT is relative.  But when you’ve found the IT, you’ll know it.

and it will take your breath away.

Back to School, back to work

August 26, 2011 by · 9 Comments 


Photo inventory:

1 basket of clean laundry, unfolded and dumped on the living room floor

1 basket of clean laundry, folded and left on couch

2 “used” baby socks

2 brand-new shoes still bungee corded together

1 too-expensive rolling backpack

45 whole crayons; 3 broken

1 broken blue bead necklace (hanging from the couch cushion)

3 empty Target bags

and when I swivel away from the living space to look at the table:

Photo Inventory:

1 new lunchbox that is supposed to be used FOR SCHOOL ONLY

2 new BPA-free water bottles

1 water bottle ‘cozy’ that came with the lunchbox (completely unnecessary)

random leftover lunch stuff: sliced turkey meat, cut up apples, tortilla chips & hummus

1 abandoned laptop and 3 notebooks

1 very cheeky 19-month-old baby (helping herself to hummus)

106 new gray hairs

I mistakenly thought I could get some work done while the children played peacefully inside or frolicked in delight outside (isn’t that what children are supposed to do? Frolick?) . Yeah. I know.

delusional.

But you know what? This is real life. Not a glossy magazine. Stuff happens. Mistakes happen.

Life happens.

and it’s okay.

Give yourself a hug—- you’re doing a fantastic job. Already.

 

School begins for us on September 6th. I loved having everybody home with me for the summer, but I’m done.  How are things going with you?

update to Family Game Night

July 20, 2011 by · 9 Comments 

 

I seem to be getting gutsier in my old age. A month or so ago I wrote about starting a Family Game night tradition in your house, and listed some of our own family favorites. Kim and I talked in the comment section about how it would be neat to have a lending library of family-friendly games at school or in the community, and I really liked that idea.

So I emailed Hasbro.

and they sent two HUGE boxes of games— 50 in all — for the school.

I couldn’t be happier.

Thank you, Hasbro.

I need to make some sort of checklist for checking out the games, and figure out where I’m going to house them. I may need to work out of the back of the van if I can’t find an empty cabinet somewhere! The girls (and their friends) are making inventory lists for each board game, and are putting the little pieces into separated ziplocks. So far the biggest hit game has been “girl talk” which has been deemed the BEST SLUMBER PARTY GAME ever. I haven’t looked over the cards very carefully, so I’m not sure exactly how appropriate the content is, but the boxes say ages 8 and up. I’ve noticed a lot of walking backwards and duck quacking…

I’ve been trying to figure out how our PTA can give back to the school for a while (without spending any money, since there ISN’T ANY), and having a lending game library will be a huge help. We just lost our biggest “free” fundraising effort–the Amazon Affiliates account, because of the new California tax laws. This is a big blow to our school, and I am looking into ways to replace that income. If anyone has any ideas (we have Scrip, and need to campaign big time this year to get more people involved) I’d love to hear them. I really liked the Amazon thing because it was such easy money and parents didn’t feel nickled and dimed—

I’ve got six weeks to figure it out.

ack.

In the mean time, I’m going to enjoy the last month or so of summer vacation and soak every bit of it up that I can. I love having everyone home—even though it means I’m in constant fire-fighter mode.

things are going well for you?

 

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