Inspire Writing with BIC Kids {Giveaway}

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions are 100% mine.

With another school year started, we are in the thick of homework, projects and research papers.  I am happy that my daughters’ school puts an emphasis on creative writing and I am thrilled that my kids have started their own blog to reinforce what they are learning in school.

But in this digital age, why is handwriting important? Research has shown that writing fosters children’s emotional and cognitive development, helps foster critical thinking skills and improves academic achievement.  Because writing is by far one of the most important learning tools for a child’s academic success,  BIC’s is encouraging more students to practice, practice, practice with the “Fight For Your Write” campaign.

The campaign offers information about writing and tips from literacy expert Pam Allyn to help parents, caregivers and students make a commitment to write more often.  You will also find some pretty great resources for teachers and parents to inspire kids.

One way to inspire handwriting is to give your kids the right tools.  This year, BIC has launched the first line of children’s writing instruments in the U.S. designed specifically to help children learn to write called BIC Kids.  The products, which were designed with the help of teachers and other experts in the field, provide young students with a unique guiding line to direct finger placement and are ergonomically designed specifically for kids’ hands.

And even though I am a digital girl, I am a pen and paper advocate at heart.  A fresh calendar and fancy writing tools like the BIC Pencil X-tra Shine make me want to sit down and get organized.  And my oldest daughter can use pens for the first time in school this year, so tools like the BIC 4 Color Metallic Pen make her excited to do homework.

How do you encourage your kids to write?  Tell me in the comments below and enter in the Rafflecopter widget to win a Back to School Pack from BIC!

 
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Back to School Nail Art

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

It happened.  Summer is officially over and my two daughters have returned to school.  In honor of the big day (and searching for inspiration on Pinterest), my daughters decided to make the first day of school fun with themed nail art.  Here’s how you can have Back to School Nails, too!

Nail Art is all the rage in my house right now. But with a 6 and 9 year old, the finished product doesn’t always come out the way you planned.  Through trial and error, we have learned that the right tools are imperative to success.  To achieve this look, we used Hot Designs Nail Art Pens.

Each pen has two colors and each color has a brush to apply base color and a fine point for details.  In order to create our “Back to School” themed nails, we began with base color.  Red for the apple, white for the paper and blue for the ruler.  The paint dries quickly so we were ready to move on to details within minutes.

Next we simply used the fine tip to draw the ruler, the lines on the paper and the stem of the apple.  Ta-da! Admittedly, I am not a professional manicurist but I think my daughter’s nails came out super cute!

Do you have a cute nail design to show off?  Hot Designs is giving fans the chance to win the ultimate beach package including a $250 Target gift card by submitting a selfie of your summer style using the hashtag #WinHotLooks and tagging @GetHotLooks on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, or @Get_Hot_Looks on Instagram. Plus, I have one set of Hot Designs to give away to one of my lucky readers.  Enter below:

 

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Raising Money for Your School with Schoola #Clothes4Schools

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Schoola.  All opinions remain 100% mine.

11.  Eleven.  This is the number of days until my kids start school.  Where did the summer go? We have had some amazing adventures but it’s time to settle down and get prepared for the start of the new school year.

Just because my kids wear uniforms to school does not make me exempt from back to school shopping.  On top of the expense of uniforms, my girls are getting older (read: more social) and require multiple outfits for after school activities, weekend parties and field trips.  And don’t even get me started on shoes! Thanks to my two fashionistas, my Fall budget is tight, so I am all for saving money wherever I can. I am happy to add Schoola to my list of ways to do just that!

Schoola is an online shop dedicated to recycling brand-name children’s clothes, with 40% of the proceeds going to schools in need. The innovative new program – which saves parents money and gives back at the same time – has been heralded by Fox News, the LA Times, Forbes and Parenting Magazine. So, how does it work?

1. Simply request a Schoola bag to be sent to your home. Fill it up with gently used outgrown clothes and drop it in the mail (Schoola pays for postage).

2. If items are acceptable, Schoola lists your items and online shoppers benefit from drastically reduced prices.

3. The school you designate will receive 40% of the proceeds from the sale of your donated items. What a great fund raiser!

From now through September 14, 2014, I am focusing my efforts on Yick Wo Elementary which s trying to raise $25,000 to fund an art program for their students.  Unfortunately, when schools face daunting budget cuts, the art and music programs are the first to go.  But, I love that the parents at Yick Wo Elementary make sure that their school’s students have art class anyway, and Schoola is forming a community to help them do it.

You can help Yick Wo reach their goal as well!  Click through my referral link and every transaction that is made or Schoola donation bag requested, Schoola will donate $1 to Yick Wo. PLUS – when you donate clothes and fill out your child’s school information, $2 of every $5 made will go back to YOUR CHILD’S SCHOOL.

Ready to start saving money while raising money? Let’s get this school year off to a great start!

Is Carnival’s Seuss at Sea Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Worth It?

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines. While travel accommodations were complimentary, all opinions remain 100% mine.

You saved up all year to take an epic family vacation with Carnival Cruise Lines. Suitcases packed with your cruise travel essentials, you board the ship ready for some much deserved rest and relaxation.  If your family is like mine, you head straight for the food and quickly become mesmerized by the seemingly endless options all included in your price of admission.

But on your first full day at sea, your family wants to take part in the Seuss at Sea Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast…for an additional charge. What?! Why spend more money when you have already paid for the buffet?  Below, you will find my reasons why the $5 per person is completely and totally worth it.

1.  Let Kids Be Kids: We asked a lot of our kids on this trip. While we had tons of fun, we asked them to wait in lines with patience, sit at fancy dinners quietly, and walk long distances without whining. But THIS breakfast was ALL about THEM and they could let it all out!

2. Dine in Whoville: Carnival went all out with the themed decor at this breakfast. The entire dining hall was transformed into a colorful and magical world complete with a beautiful ice sculpture.  My girls could not wait to sit down at our polka dot table!

3. Fun Food: There are no boring omeletes, plain pancakes or bland bowls of oatmeal at this event.  My kids got to choose from menu items such as Horton’s Cereal Crusted French Toast, Truffula Tree Pancakes and of course, the always popular Green Eggs & Ham.

4.  Character Dining: Similar to other character breakfasts at other theme parks (which are WAY more expensive), the whimsical Dr. Seuss characters roam the dining hall and visit with every table. You are allowed to take pictures with your own camera so you do not have to pay extra for professional pictures.

5. Fancy Footwork: The wait staff on Carnival is over the top friendly and really go above and beyond to make your trip memorable.  This breakfast is no exception! The Staff dresses up in costume and performs a fun routine for guests which my kids loved.

The Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast on the Carnival Dream was more than a meal, it was an experience and in my opinion well worth the price.  This was the perfect was to start off our Sea Day which was followed by a kid-centric agenda of water slides, comedy hour and mini golf.  No wonder Carnival hosts more than 700,000 kids aboard it’s fleet each year!

Spice Up Summer Learning with Netflix

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy. As a member of the Netflix Stream Team a complimentary subscription is received. All opinions remain 100% mine.

When the last school bell sounds, the last thing my kids want to think about is books, projects, tests and assignments.  But even though it is summertime,  it’s not time to stop learning.  For my kids, we just approach learning in a different way during these months.

We were fortunate enough to take a few family vacations recently and honestly I think traveling and experiencing different people and cultures is an invaluable source of knowledge.  My kids watched the changing of the guards in Ottawa, swam with stingrays in Grand Cayman and went tubing along the Great River in Jamaica.  My daughter loves her Atlas and we track our travels to facilitate discussions on what to expect along the way.

When we arrived home from our cruise, the kids were fascinated with all things marine, so we headed to Netflix Kids to see if we could find any documentaries to help explain the biology of what we experienced.  The Blue Planet: A Natural History of the Oceans narrated by David Attenborough was the perfect fit.  With episodes such as “Ocean World” and “Coral Seas”, the kids learned more about the dolphins, turtles and stingrays encountered on our trip.

If you are looking for inventive ways to continue learning over the summer months, you can find a variety of options on Netflix.  Whether its a documentary about dinosaurs or a math adventure to the moon, there is something for all of the days spent outside the classroom.

 

Finding Fall Trends at Carter’s {Giveaway}

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Carter’s and The Motherhood.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% mine.

With two girls in my home, it should come as no surprise that they LOVE to shop.  From a very young age, it was very clear that I had two fashionistas on my hands.  But because they both wear uniforms to school, they don’t get to express their individuality with their wardrobe very often.  So, I was thrilled to take them to Carter’s to explore the new Fall trends and see what caught their eye.

Carter’s has been one of my long time “go-to” stores from the time my girls were babies. Did you know that they sell over 400 million pieces of children’s clothing each year?  But what I love even more than the convenience is that Carter’s is dedicated to value, superior quality and age-appropriate style and these goals are immediately noticeable when you enter any one of their stores.

In a recent virtual briefing with Laura Barber, Vice President and GMM of eCommerce for Carter’s, I learned about the exciting Fall Trends for 2014.  Here’s the scoop so you can be on point as well:

  1. Camo: It’s not just for boys anymore! Add camo to your child’s wardrobe by mixing patterns (especially florals) to create a fun twist and make it more feminine.
  2. Activewear: The easy t-shirts (many have fun positive messages) can be paired with mesh shorts for Summer or layered under a jean jacket for Fall.
  3. Vintage Prints: The smaller, sweeter graphics caught our eye especially the ones with ponies and puppies!
  4. Tomboy Chic: Pair a sweatshirt with a lace layered skirt to be both comfortable and feminine.

After trying to spot each trend in the store, my 6 year old (very opinionated) daughter selected two complete outfits which she was very eager to model.

Aubrie chose a denim dress that she can wear in the heat of a New Orleans Summer but which can be layered with a camo or perhaps animal print cardigan for Fall.  For her second outfit, she was drawn to the vintage print of this adorable skirt and decided to pair it with some really feminine and fun colors. Because our local Carter’s does not carry Lily’s size, she was unable to participate.  But good news! Some Carter’s locations are now carrying sizes 7-12!

Looking for more Fall Fashion advice?  Laura Barber offers this:

The thing to remember is that there aren’t any rules that apply anymore! Let your kids go into their closets and put crazy things together! It inspires creativity, and in this season probably more than ever!

Ready to start shopping? From now through August 5th, Carter’s entire store is 40% off!  In addition, you can print the following coupon for 20%, too.

Download and Print the Coupon Here

To help you stock up on Fall Trends, I also have a $50 Carters Gift Card to giveaway to one lucky reader.  Enter below for a chance to win:

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Planes Upholstered Chair from Delta Children {Giveaway}

How many times have your kids seen Disney’s Planes: Fire & Rescue this Summer?  I’ve been hearing great things about it, but we unfortunately haven’t made the trip to the movie theater.  But from walking the aisles at just about any store, I can tell it is wildly popular with all of the merchandising available.

Do you have a “Planes” obsessed child in your home? I have one Planes Upholstered Chair from Delta Children (available at Walmart) to giveaway to one lucky reader (ARV $50).  About the product:

This great new Planes Upholstered Chair is the perfect chair for your little one. Planes Upholstered Chair, the soothing chair provides a perfect spot for your little Pilot to watch his favorite shows and relax after a long day. The upholstered chair is built with a sturdy durable frame making it the perfect chair for studying and relaxing.

Enter below for a chance to win!

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Top Ten Travel Essentials for Cruising

I wrote about my experience with Poise Microliner as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars. #PoisewithSAM

In just 5 short days, I will be boarding the Carnival Dream and heading off on an epic 40th birthday celebration.  This trip has to be perfect so I thought I would share with you my Top Ten Essential Items for Cruising.

Cruise Essentials #PoiseWithSAM

1. Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus: Did you know that cruise ships don’t have irons?  For this wrinkle-phobic Mom, I may have had a panic attack.  Fortunately, this product kept my family and I looking elegant night ready!

2.  Brita Water Bottle: Half the fun of a cruise are the exotic excursions and exploring new parts of the World. But to keep the fun going, you need to stay hydrated.  Don’t forget to take along your water bottle every time you leave the boat.

3.  Cute Accessories: There is just something about setting sail that just begs for a killer sandal, trendy sunglasses and a floppy hat.  Check out my Pinterest Board for inspiration!

Follow Bridgette’s board Sail Away With Me on Pinterest.
4.  Poise Microliners: I am sailing away to escape turning 40, but unfortunately I can’t escape my LBL I was left with after having 2 kids.  But, because Poise is thinnest liner available in the light incontinence category, I can be confident on those rugged adrenaline filled excursions. Get a free Poise sample for your next adventure!

5. Sunscreen: Don’t forget to shield yourself from harmful UV rays.  My essential sun protection product is Neutrogena Wet Skin SPF 85 Sunscreen which is perfect for our beach destination.

6. Lanyard: Consider purchasing a different lanyard for each family member before boarding. It’s much easier to keep track of your “Sail and Sign” card when it’s around your neck leaving your hands free for more food and drinks!  Letting the kids choose their own lanyard not only gives them some ownership to their card but provides an easy way to tell the cards apart in a hurry.

7.  Waterproof Phone Case: You are going to want to take pictures…and lots of them! But don’t ruin your phone in the crystal clear water and on the pristine beaches. Protect your tech with a waterproof case.

8.  Light Jacket: So you are cruising to the Caribbean, why would you pack a jacket? If you plan to partake in any onboard activities such as comedy clubs, casino or live theater, they can be downright cold. Be prepared.

9.  Hand Sanitizer: Is it obvious that I have a degree in Microbiology? Happy Hour is EVERY hour for bacteria and viruses on cruise ships. Stop them in their tracks by using hand sanitizer and anti-microbial wipes.

10. Bungee Cord: Want to fall asleep to the sounds of the Ocean? Hold open your balcony door with a bungee cord or use it to hand wet swimsuits overnight.

11. (BONUS) Your Inner Child: Don’t forget to have fun! Go down the waterslide, dance the night away, cartwheel on the beach and cross off as many bucket list items as you can. Enjoy!

What is one of your cruising essentials?

Get Tough with #NexcareNana

This post is written by the Experimental Mommy and brought to you by Nexcare Waterproof Bandages.  All opinions are 100% mine.

When I visit the ballet and see the finished product of a professional production, I am in awe of the delicate and demure ballerinas performing on stage.  They are so graceful, limber, elegant and peaceful.  But being a dancer myself and the Mom of two little ballerinas, I know the hard work that goes on behind the scenes.

Hours, days, and years of hard work go in to the making of that graceful ballerina you see on stage.  And underneath the glittery tutu and tiara lie many bumps, blisters and bruises.  Viewing my daughters’ dance class is proof that dancing takes dedication, strength and toughness which are qualities you don’t normally associate with ballet.

Often things are not as tough as they seem.

At the dance studio, there is a drawer for emergencies which includes pony tail holders, bobby pins, safety pins and Nexcare Waterproof Bandages.  A dancer’s feet are their most valuable commodity and must be protected with a tough bandage that will stay put under the most extreme conditions.

Fortunately, in the Nexcare “Will It or Won’t It” series, the Nexcare Nana has gone through great lengths to show just how tough these bandages can be (and Nana is pretty tough herself) in over the top situations.  In her first video, Nana puts the Nexcare Waterproof Bandages to the test against the strength of a fire hose. Don’t worry, no Nanas were injured in the making of this video!

Nana’s strength and toughness shine through in each video, symbolizing the staying power of Nexcare Waterproof Bandages. Nexcare Bandages stay on because the 360-degree seal provides a protective barrier to keep out water, dirt and germs, making them useful in everyday life.  These bandages stay in place and stand up to long-wear making them perfect for a dancer’s feet.

Do you know someone as tough as the Nexcare Nana? Explore all of her videos and nominate someone special in your life for the Tough-as-Nana Sweepstakes for a chance to win one of three trips including swimming with sharks, skydiving or a race car driving experience.