Jun 132014
 

Pictures.

Pictures.

PICTURES.

Spend just 30 seconds in my home and my obsession is apparent.  Yes, I was the psycho pregnant lady stalk-calling Picture People to make sure I fully understood their membership options six months before my first child was born.

I like memories. I like smiles.  And I like things that make me happy.

Back in the old school world, this worked out pretty well.  I burned through rolls of film with my allowance and begged my parents to drive me to KMart to get them developed.  The photo counter dude? Obviously my first crush.

Fast forward twenty years and then this silly little fad of technology took over.  Digital pics, memory cards, Dropbox, texts, attachments would all work well if I wasn’t so dumb about these things and if my phone wasn’t some archaic vintage piece that takes a half hour to fire up. It may involve a hand-crank.

The picture situation got so stressful at BlogU that I handed my phone over in desperation to the photo-savvy Courtney of Our Small Moments every time I wanted to capture a memory.  She’s very, very nice and I was pitiful, so she humored me.

But the pervasive reality is that my pictures are a confused mess, and since I generally struggle to find time to manage the laundry, the photos that I have managed to print are lying in ambiguous heaps waiting to get properly filed in an album.  This may happen before I die.

Enter Everalbum. What is Everalbum? It’s an online photo storage service that gathers your photos from your phone, PC, and social profiles, and brings them all together in one place.

Let me take you behind the scenes of the fab Mom of the Year home for a minute. On more than one occasion, our laptop has completely crashed.  I started to panic, cry a little, and then my sweet husband ended up spending the entire night babying our hard drive so our precious photos of our kiddos aren’t lost forever.  He does it because he loves me, but I know he really spends the next day cursing me out under his breath over sixteen cups of coffee.

With Everalbum, this won’t happen.  We don’t need to worry about about losing family photos because even if our computer breaks, or I lose my phone, once the pics are in Everalbum they are backed up and safe forever.

My other favorite late-night scenario is that our memory card or Dropbox maxes out.  Since I don’t know how to empty them myself (no really, I’m hopeless), I end up begging my husband to sort it, again leading to a similar next-day coffee cursing situation, I am sure.

But by using Everalbum, running out of space on our phones is a non-issue. Once photos from the phone are backed up, camera rolls can be deleted and any future photos taken will automatically be added and backed up to Everalbum. Can you hear my non-giddy husband giddy-dancing in the corner?

Also, with Everalbum, no worries about privacy or having your photos public. Privacy is taken very seriously by the company and they’ve done everything possible to guarantee all of your photos are private to you and only you by default, except when you want to share your photos privately with family and friends.

THIS is the reason I can't afford to play around with my pics.  Courtney of Our Small Moments is too important to me.

THIS is the reason I can’t afford to play around with my pics. Courtney of Our Small Moments is too important to me.

Everalbum is AFFORDABLE. At $7.99/month, or by snatching the 20% discount buying yearly package for $79, you will have up to 50,000 photos backed up in full resolution and the peace of mind of never worrying about GBs, or MBs storage.

The thing is, if you’re a family, or you otherwise have a life of some fashion, you are probably busy.  You probably have better things to think about on a daily basis than proper back-up of your photos. Or, at the very least, you have dirty dishes threatening to topple out of your sink, and simply don’t have time to address your picture situation.  So let Everalbum do it for you.

The cost that we retro gals used to spend on film and development? It’s wonderful that we can now save some allowance cash, but the fact is, we still need to invest a little to protect our photos.  The smiling faces of the ones we love are more than worth it.

And why not do it with the super-smart convenience of Everalbum? This service is genius and trusting my memories with them? The perfect solution!  Go check them out!

******************************************

Everalbum did compensate me to write this post, but rest assured, my love of this service is 100% original–go check them out!

May 302014
 

PACT clothing @meredithspidel @wearPACTEarlier this week I wrote about embracing a thus unknown fashion sense with Stitch Fix.  And while I really do have high hopes of vogue-ing it up a little in the days to come, truth told: as a WAHM of two young ones on any given average day, it is very convenient when my carefully chosen “outift” can roll over from daywear to jammies to exercise gear the next morning.  It’s all about efficiency around these parts.

So when PACT asked me to check out their line of super-soft organic cottonwear, it didn’t take much convincing.  I live and breathe in cottonwear–tees, undies, leggings and socks, all of which PACT specializes in. These duds are my happy, comfy home.

I have spent years seeking the perfect cotton tee without success.  Sure, I have found some fav brands from my familiar haunts, but I had yet to discover the truly perfect tee.  A tee that not only fits well, but also holds up well through the wash and is super-soft.

I had yet to discover such a tee, that is, until PACT, a line of super-soft organic cottonwear for men, women and babies.

Check out these sweet items for the ladies!

Check out these sweet items for the ladies!

My husband was excited to try his new stuff too!

My husband was excited to try his new stuff too!

I love all the stuff I got from PACT. The undies have a great fit and don’t ride up at all (I have already ordered 2 more pairs). The leggings are obscenely comfortable.  The tights?  Please bring on winter again for the sole reason that I can’t wait to wear them.

You know that ONLY for a brand I love would I sport printed leggings and post a pic of myself in them for all the world to see...SO COMFY!!!

You know that ONLY for a brand I love would I post a pic of myself in printed leggings…SO COMFY!!!

But the tees.  The tees.  The tees.

The thing is, PACT tees fit.  They look cute.  And they wash well. Very well.  So well, in fact, that after multiple launderings, they have not pilled, thinned, or lost their shape–all while remaining incredibly soft.

The prices are very reasonable in my opinion. When you consider that a PACT tee will be hanging out in your closet for a loooong time, it’s worth it to spend a few extra dollars over the mass-marketed cheapies that need replaced after every season.

LOVE this blue color!

LOVE this blue color!

It’s the quality of this clothing that I can’t highlight enough.  PACT clothing is the real deal.

I am thrilled to find a cool new line of clothing that is committed to not only superb standards, but to also respectfully caring for our environment.  As their site says, PACT is obsessed with a big idea: super soft organic cotton that makes the world a better place. Socks with soul, altruistic underwear and other everyday essentials ethically manufactured with fabrics that feel good and go easy on the environment. Sounds good? Oh it is.”

They make fab duds for men and littler ones too!

You know what they say–the couple that wears PACT tees together…;)

It is so good.  And the fact that this company describes their underwear as “altruistic” makes me love them a little more. ;)

Go check PACT out, love on them and enter below for a chance to score a PACT sock wardrobe!  As long as you are a 18 or older and a resident of the continental U.S., you are eligible to win!*  One winner will win one of the 5-pack socks below (winner can choose which pack to claim) Below are pictures of all the different sock packs winner can choose from:

Ladies' socks

The ladies are stepping out!

Deck that dude out

Deck that dude out

Sweet feet for baby girls!

Sweet feet for baby girls!

The little man's gotta take his first steps in style!

The little man’s gotta take his first steps in style!

I am thanking my lucky stars that I’ve finally found a brand that will deliver those perfect tees I have long been fantasizing over.  Next time I need to stock up on tees?  PACT it is.  PACT it SO is.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

****PACT provided compensation for me to review their product, but my love of this brand is 100% genuine****

*PACT will be adding e-mail addresses of those who enter the giveaway to their mailing list

Apr 182014
 
The choices are maddening.

The choices are maddening.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m desperate to shave off a bit more of my muffin top before summer hits us with all its adorable little tees and capris, so when Yoplait asked me to give their new Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry a taste and compare it to the flavor of Chobani Simply 100 Strawberry yogurt, it wasn’t a hard gig to get behind.

I’m a huge Greek yogurt fan.  The best luck I’ve had with shedding pounds was during a time in my life when I was dedicated to my daily Greek yogurt.  I’m a sucker for the creamy fruitiness, but what really made me a loyalist was the protein.  If I noshed on a cup in the morning, I was able to hold myself off relatively painlessly until lunch.  But you see, that was back in the old school days.  The days when Greek yogurt wasn’t just 100 calories per serving.  Now the new lower-calorie products have made the prospect of throwing the sweet stuff into your diet even more appealing.

Chobani is usually my favorite brand, so I admit I was skeptical about Yoplait’s offering, but the claim to fame of this new yogurt is that in a national taste test, Yoplait® Greek 100 Strawberry beat Chobani® Simply 100™ Strawberry”. Confident in their product, Yoplait encouraged me to try both and give my genuinely honest opinion.

Specifically, I was intrigued that 4 out of 5 tasters preferred the Yoplait over the Chobani. Yoplait suggested getting my co-workers on board to help with the taste-test.  Excellent, no problem.  As it turns out, they are exactly 5 people on staff at The Mom of the Year, so bring on the experiement.

Start with my son (his window of tolerance is about 2 seconds, so grab him while you can, you know?)

YOPLAIT! No, really this wasn't rigged.  And there were only minor bribes to get him to smile.

YOPLAIT!
No, really this wasn’t rigged. And there were only minor bribes to get him to smile.

My daughter was insanely serious about her tasting duties:

Yoplait again, voted for by a genuine Cinderella princess! (though perhaps this may have something to do with the fact that she's right-handed...)

Yoplait again, voted for by a genuine Cinderella princess! (though perhaps this may have something to do with the fact that she’s right-handed…)

Dr. J I think is honestly shocked that he likes Greek yogurt and is trying to cover it up with a spoofy thumbs-up:

Dude, Yoplait. Or, as he more eloquently later stated, "If you are looking for the classic strawberry yogurt taste, Yoplait is the one."

Dude, Yoplait.
Or, as he more eloquently later stated, “If you are looking for the classic strawberry yogurt taste, Yoplait is the one.”

And the dog, of course, was extremely opinionated about his favorite:

He thoughtfully considers...

He thoughtfully considers…

Then he digs in...and refuses to stop until it's licked clean.

Then he digs in to the Yoplait…and refuses to stop until it’s licked clean.

I love it when my “team” makes my job easy.  Without influence or persuasion, they unanimously went for the Yoplait vs. the Chobani.  As for myself, I admit to being sort-of on the fence.  If you are looking for a kick of strawberry flavor, Yoplait Greek 100 strawberry is the way to go, yet I still really enjoy the subtle smoothness of the Chobani.  I would eat either, but since my family obviously prefers the Yoplait, I’m off to the grocery store to stock up. And there you have it, at the The Mom of the Year headquarters, we are very scientifically 4 out of 5 for the Yoplait.

Yoplait vs. Chobani #tasteoff @meredithspidel

But hey don’t take our word for it, go take this test yourself.  Yoplait is so pleased with their product, they are calling all testers!  Since it’s available nationally in 12 flavors, you’re going to find one that appeals for you.  And your co-workers.  Be them human or canine, you’ll be grabbing up those 5.3 ounce cups and throwing them in your cart.

So spoon up the Greek and weigh in with your opinion!  Get ready for some creamy goodness at only 100 calories a pop, whichever brand you settle on.

*********Compensation for this post is being provided by Yoplait, but all opinions are 100% mine (or my family’s or my dog’s in this case).*********

Apr 042014
 

HOST MOAM blog tour & giveaway button @meredithspidelYou may remember a bit ago when I hung out with the Mother of All Meltdowns, the groovy book that tells the truth of momhood like it really is.  I loved this book. When I read it, I felt real, which is always a score in my book.  So when the super ladies of this book announced they were touring to share their new MOAM Community, I was in!

Was is this community? A home for the perfectly imperfect mother.  A place where you can let your guard down and talk about the meltdowns, struggles, and less rosy aspects of being a mom…in short, it’s my kind of place!

To celebrate this new community, these ladies are throwing a giant giveaway that you want to enter.  Trust me.

With fabulous sponsors like The Oaks at OjaiCarilohaWicker CentralMetropolis Coffee CompanyWind & Fire JewelryChuao ChocolatierGlobal Rose, & Anew Riesling , the No Mother is Perfect, But Every Mother is Unique Mother’s Day Giveaway is pretty much a dream-come-true.

As the ladies of  The Mother of All Meltdowns say, “Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 11th 2014! And we want moms everywhere to accept the meltdowns, stop chasing perfection, and embrace their uniquity. You won’t find this word listed in Webster’s, but you will find it within every mother on the planet. Enter between April 1, 2014 to May 11, 2014 to win one of three fabulous prize packages including a three night stay for two at a destination spa!”

So go check it out and treat yourself, and do your mental sanity a favor by grabbing a copy of the book that started it all, available today through Mother’s Day for only $0.99 on Amazon!

Mother of All Meltdowns Community Giveaway Enter to Win! #NoMotherIsPerfect #EmbraceUniquity @meredithspidel

********************************************************************

 And to keep the party for this new community and giveaway hopping, I’m hashing it out below with Danielle Herzog, one of the book authors and the blogger behind Martinis and Minivans.  This is such an honor for me, as her blog was one of the first I found when falling into this online world. 

Her tagline, “a blog for anyone who has ever needed a martini after driving a minivan around all day. Or for anyone who has just ever needed a martini”? She is gold. That she reports that she “is currently writing her first novel while gaining 10 lbs from binge eating Girl Scout cookies after each draft edit”? I am totally in love with her and starting the Danielle Herzog Fan Club NOW.  Join up with me.

Below she humors me on some questions about The Mother of All Meltdowns and her writing.  xo, Danielle!  Thanks for hanging out at The Mom of the Year!

*******************************************************************************

@martinisandmini @meredithspidel

 

1.      What color is a meltdown? Clear. Like the color of vodka.

2.      What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘meltdown’? See previous answer

3.      What was your story about? It’s what REALLY happens when you find out your pregnant. From taking four pregnancy tests at once, to then driving directly to the OBGYN’s office holding my pee sticks; it was the meltdown before the baby was even born.

4.      What did you like best about working on The Mother of All Meltdowns project? Hands down – the contributors. It was an instant camaraderie between us all, even though most of us have never met. Each person laughed at each other’s stories and worked together to share our best words. It’s an awesome experience when women all work together to build each other up and produce an incredible book that showcases each of our unique stories.

5.      What advice do you have for other mothers who melt from time-to-time? Keep a flask on you at all times, and pretend to be sick some days so you can lay in bed and catch up on DVR’d reality shows.

6.      What is your favorite story in the book? Why? You’re at the Happiest Place on Earth. Why are You Crying? by Dana Hemelt. I love that Disneyworld really wasn’t all that magical. Expensive and full of mouse ears, but maybe not all that magical.

7.      Why should people buy the book? It’s a simple reason. It’s [darn] funny. It’s one of those books where you laugh that very specific laugh that says, “I totally relate but never wanted to admit that happened to me.”

8.      If you could associate any one song with the word meltdown, what would it be and why? I would choose “I’m Sexy And I Know It” – I have to keep telling myself that when I have a Goldfish stuck on my [butt] and spit up in my hair.

9.      What made you want to contribute to The Mother of All MeltdownsI wanted to show the world that they are probably a better parent than I am. That really does make us all feel better most days, doesn’t it? That someone else does it a wee bit worse?

10.  What’s next for you? I’m writing a memoir about the letters my grandmother and I wrote to each other for over a decade. It’s the story of my life weaved through our correspondence. It’s her words of advice and wisdom she shared with me during my clueless thirty-something years of life.

************************************************************************

I KNOW.  Now go hang out with the new MOAM community and check out Martinis and Minivans on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest too!  Keep on keepin’ it real, Danielle!

Mar 302014
 

It was a nasty kind of evening.  It had been the I’m-pretty-sure-I-have-a-sinus-infection-but-don’t-have-time-to-go-to-the-doctor sort of day followed by an “invigorating” dinner with my kiddos while my husband worked late.  Let’s just say by the time Dr. J got home, I was very much wanting hole up ALONE and make nice with my INFJ personality.

Doubtful that anything could really help knock off my grouchy pants, but wanting to try, I picked up my copy of Suburban Haiku: Poetic Dispatches from Behind the Picket Fence by Peyton Price.  I read the first page.  I snorted.  I read a few more pages and started fumbing for the post-it pad I keep in nightstand.  I wanted to tag a couple of the haikus as my favorites. Twenty minutes later, I had blown through my entire stash of post-its.

The problem with marking my favorites?  They were so many gems, a post-it pretty much ended up on every page.  The moral of this story?  Buy the book and throw a stockpile of post-its in your Amazon cart before you check out.  You’ll need them.

With haikus such as these, you may also need to grab a box or two of Kleenex for all the laugh-tears you’ll shed:

When I’m in snit
I throw away recycling
Haha! Take that Earth!
 
That Whole Foods trail mix
is for this Friday’s playate
Just have a Pop-Tart
 
At Target for socks
but we do need a blender
and patio chairs

 

Peyton is a very cool chick with a wicked sharp sense of humor.  She is not only funny, she is multi-talented.  As she self-describes on her “About the Author” page, “Her special skills include getting the worst end of the deal in every single carpool and not realizing she just replied-all to a group text.” I know.  This girl really can do it all.

And since it comes in such a sweet perfect little pink hardcover square shape?  It’s screams, “Gift me!”.  Snatch it up for that someone in your life–anyone who is rocking out suburbia or who can appreciate all the fine intricacies of life in the preschool pick-up fastlane.

Since Peyton is so fantastic, she not only designed the tote above, she is giving away one of them with a copy of the book to one of my readers!  So hop in the Rafflecopter below, friends, and go show her some lovin’.  As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible to enter!

Go grab her book and spend a fantastic evening hanging out in the burbs with Suburban Haiku: Poetic Dispatches from Behind the Picket Fence!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was sent a copy of this book for review, but no other compensation was given in exchange for this review.  All opinions are 100% mine.  Though I do have a ginormous crush on Peyton, mostly because of her adorable first name, so my glowing adoration of her might be slightly blatant.

Mar 242014
 
Source C'mon over; we'll get the word out!

Source
C’mon over; we’ll get the word out!

I have long wondered about doing more formal advertising here at The Mom of the Year.  Would it work?  Was it really my kind of thing? Would anyone think it was worth it to stick their name on my blog to get some lovin’? Was I insane?

I’m still not totally sure.  But friends, it’s been almost two and a half years since I kicked this puppy off.  And the thing is, it’s grown. While this is a tremendous blessing, I’d be lying if didn’t say the time investment wasn’t a stress and strain on my family.  Any blogger gets what I’m saying.  So to keep with it, it has become time to bite the bullet so I can pursue some fancy things like scoring a sitter for my kids–and maybe once in a while my blog too, so my husband doesn’t divorce me.  I have heard rumors about this crazy “unplugging” thing??

And since The Mom of Year has grown and continues to grow so much, through publication opportunities, readership, and social media reach, I’m now in a position where I able to help spread the word about some other nifty blogs out there.  Building a blog?  NOT EASY.  I remember when I first bought ad space. I remember how patient and supportive the blogger was with me, and how very cool it was to get new eyes on my site and connect with new readers.  I could now offer this same help for other bloggers?

Source We'll shout your awesomeness out together

Source
We’ll shout your awesomeness out together

See, I like The Mom of the Year.  I like it a lot.  I like the space that’s been created–not just here on the site, but on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.  I would love to share it with some other blogs who are looking to grow. So c’mon over, let’s hang out together and work to spread the word about what you are trying to do.

I have created a new page explaining the new advertising opportunities that are now available, so please head over and check it out!  And as a bonus for the first month of kicking this off, I am offering a special promo discount of 50% off!  Promo code: MOTY, expiring 4/24/14. That’s right, since you’re my first customers, I want to do a great job for you AND give you a super-awesome bargain.

Sign up and let’s make this happen together!

Source Can't promise to be Peggy Olson and I'm not backed by the Dream Team, but we'll get the job done.

Source
Can’t promise to be Peggy Olson and I’m not backed by the Dream Team, but we’ll get the job done!

Mar 072014
 
What in the world is this insanely cool thing I'm wearing??

What in the world is this insanely cool thing I’m wearing??

We have a problem here, folks.  My 2 yr. old daughter is not yet potty-trained (I know, I’ll wait while you gasp in the horror over this grave parental short-coming).  She also never stops moving. Ever. Even in her sleep, the adorable young thing thrashes about with a vigor known to wildcats the world over .

Now we’re no stranger to baby blow-outs and leak-throughs around here, but I am learning this whole insanely active toddler still in diapers is its own beast.  Even the most well-timed diaper changes leave her sweet nursery teachers handing me plastic bags filled with her soiled duds when I go to pick my gal up after her class is over.

Gah. Someday, hopefully soon, we’ll school this whole potty-training situation, but in the meantime, when Huggies asked me to check out their new diapers, I was all, “Yes!  Oooh!  Me, please!!” With a name like “Huggies® Snug & Dry Diapers with SureFit* Design“, I was feeling really hopeful.

We got the diapers (read: I made the typical panicked begging call to my husband to stop on his way home from work because we were almost out) and I decided to let these diapers have the true test–I set my daughter loose on them.

It IS him!  That's Mickey!!

It IS him! That’s Mickey!!

After she finished squeeing over the pictures of Mickey, we got them on her cute little butt.  Typical Elyse-behavior commenced.  She climbed on the walls, she danced, she spent a lot of time looking at herself and being thrilled.  And you know what else?  Mommy fell in love because the diapers stayed in place.  And didn’t leak–even overnight.

I know, check that ruching!

I know, check that ruching!

What’s new about these diapers?  In addition to the same trusted Leak Lock® protection parents have come to love, only Huggies® Snug & Dry Diapers have SureFit*Design, to provide long-lasting fit for up to 12 hours of leakage protection.  My favorite part is the underwear-like SnugFit Waistband for that seems to hug my daughter’s waist and move with all her twists and turns.  Her favorite part?  Definitely those cool Mickey Mouse pics.

I’ll be honest, I’m really hoping we can kick diapers to the curb sooner than later, but until we do?  Huggies® Snug & Dry Diapers with SureFit* Design is our new best friend.

Since they are available from size 1-6, if it takes longer than I hope to boot the diapers, we should still be able to squeeze her in them for a while.  And not that I ever love paying for diapers, but if you have to, the suggested retail price of $9.99 for a Jumbo Pack and $19.99 for a Big Pack is pretty reasonable.

Every good doctor needs to be well supported

Every good doctor needs to be well supported

Another reason to love on Huggies?  You can visit the Huggies Challenge website to take the Huggies® Challenge – complete challenges and win prizes.  When you take the Huggies Challenge, you can win Huggies Rewards Points which can be used towards free diapers and free samples. Two lucky testers will win Huggies diapers & wipes for an entire year! Drawings for these prizes will take place on May 12th and August 25th.

And completing a challenge isn’t only fun with the hope of scoring something cool, it’s a way to help others out too.  For every new challenge completed, Huggies Every Little Bottom will donate diapers to a baby in need.  Love it.

With challenges like "Bubble Popping", Huggies might have just found a way to keep family entertained for a few minutes.  God love them!

With challenges like “Bubble Popping”, Huggies might have just found a way to keep family entertained for a few minutes. God love them!

So go ahead–stash that pile of dishes out of sight for another few minutes and go treat yourself to teensy break.  Trust me, with challenges like “Triple Mess Manor” and “Baby Date Night”, it’s all relatable good fun ;)

Go play a game, get your Huggies on and help a diaper up a sweet little bottom!

********* This post is sponsored by Huggies, but my love for Snug & Dry and all opinions are my own!**********

Feb 032014
 
The Before Gah! Ghastly, I know...

The Before
Gah! Ghastly, I know…

When SmileBrilliant wanted to send me a teeth-whitening system, I was all “twist my arm”.  Not that I’m paranoid about my yellowish teeth at all…

You see, Mike from SmileBrilliant was patient with me.  He was kind.  He encouraged me to participate and followed up when my whole consumed-with-the-holidays situation left me a bit sluggish with sending in my teeth impressions on a timely basis.

Whaaa???  Teeth impressions?  Yes, you’ve got it.  Smile Brilliant is the real deal–they go all out and send you a package to take impressions of your teeth and send them back to the company.  The company processes the impressions and sends them back to you as perfectly formulated molds.  In the comfort of your own home, you then fill the molds with the whitening gel Smile Brilliant provides and experience a custom teeth-whitening experience.

Since I generally find comfort in numbers, I begged my sister to give this a swing with me.  As it turns out, she surpassed me in teeth-whitening savvy.  She is just “that good”. Not jealous AT ALL. Whereas my initial impressions were insufficient (apparently I inadvertently wiggled the molds too much), she got it right on the first try.  No loss; SmileBrilliant gave me a free “second chance” to get them right, and after Attempt#2, we were off and running.

Teeth whitening trays in place. Result? I only look marginally psychotic, so success declared

Teeth whitening trays in place. Result? I only look marginally psychotic, so Success declared

HOLY COW.  In just one usage, I saw a DIFFERENCE.  Since my sister is more competent than me and got her molds right on the first attempt, she has had opportunity to use her whitening system more and reports significant results.  Maybe someday I can catch up to her; for now, I will just be thrilled with the MAJOR IMPROVEMENT I HAVE SEEN AFTER A FEW USES.

Listen, you can throw your cash out on all the drug store whitening systems you want, but if you actually want to change up the color of your teeth, you need to go pro.  Go pro with a system like SmileBrilliant.  They are the real deal.  They provide customized trays for your mouth to get you the results that you want.

Use them. Trust me. And if you’re on the fence? Enter below to win a complete customized teeth whitening system (valued at $150!).  As long as you are a resident of the continental United States, you are eligible to enter.  I’m kind of super-excited to offer this giveaway because SmileBrilliant has been such a terrific thing for me–I would love for you to have the same experience.

Not that scary, really,  and SUPER-IMPRESSIVE

Not that scary, really, and SUPER-IMPRESSIVE

So enter, love on in to SmileBrilliant and next time you see me?  PLEASE make a remark as to how shiny white my teeth are–I will love you forever.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

****This is a compensated post from SmileBrilliant, yet all opinions remain entirely my own****

Jan 292014
 
Source Hold onto that remote--there's a lot to be said for these commercials

Source
Hold onto that remote–
there’s a lot to be said for these commercials

Who loves commercial breaks?  No one, unless you have to pee or they’re the fantastic ads aired during the Superbowl. But commericals are a bit of a sticky wicket because they are necessary.  If you want to see your nifty TV shows, you’ve gotta pay for them somehow (and unfortunately, the right arm you donated to Comcast last month somehow still doesn’t cover the bill?).  So we pony up, and suffer through yet another ex-Jenna Maroney Tropicana orange juice commercial because Revenge never gets old.

The thing is, this blogging world isn’t so different than TV. While we bloggers are always instantaneously full of effortless wit and deep life-changing insight, we are still human.  I know, I’ll let you take a minute to digest this mind-blowing (and perhaps totally sarcastic) revelation.  We still have families who house goldfish crackers in bulk, wrecked minivans to repair on a frighteningly regular bases, and there is, of course, the water bill for the showers we try to squeeze in at least every few days.

Also, we work incredibly hard at it.  Pouring your heart and soul out publicly a few times a week?  Not so easy.  Doing it with minimal spelling errors and a general respect for proper English language?  It can get tricky.  Throw in endless hours doing the necessary networking so you don’t get buried in the blogosphere and trying to beat the latest Facebook algorithims so you can get at least 10 eyes on your status updates, and well…it’s a lot.

Source Oh yeah, we're making bank around here

Source
Oh yeah, we’re making bank around here

On Monday I already went on about why this gig is important to me. And it is, so, so important to me. Dr. J and I have prayed about it until God’s ears hurt, and the upshot: this is what we’re doing right now.  But it is hard, very hard, and getting compensated for the hard work would be swell.  Not so I can make a ton of money and be famous (show me a blogger who has done that and I’ll say, “Yeah, I know, The Bloggess is awesome”), but so this job could have the normal result of any other job: I get paid for it so I can help pay our bills.  Maybe even do something crazy like hire a sitter once in a while so my kids can get attention while I work?

So this brings us to the commercials–this is how bloggers get paid and they are going to happen.  How do the commercials look on a blog?

  • ad space in the sidebars (maybe banner ads on the top and bottom too).
  • Sponsored posts. This is when I dedicate an entire post telling you about a specific product or service. I can promise you this will always be something I genuinely think is cool and as a bonus, many of these will have neat giveaway for you, my readers, so it’s not a bad thing to tune into these posts.
  • Social media touts, or posts/pins/etc. put up on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google +.

What can you do?  Just like a real commercial, if they really irritate you or you have to quick change up a load of laundry, tune out.  It’s okay. I won’t know, and I understand.  I am so thankful to have readers who do this and don’t complain, tolerating the paid stuff because they know it needs to be done.

However, if you’ve got a spare second, like I said, tune in.  You might find some really cool stuff through these posts and winning something is always the best.  I remember the first time I scored a treat through a blog giveaway and burning my new lux candle was so sweet!  (Thanks, Caffienated Chronicles of a Super Mom!)

Also?  You could help me.  Any likes, comments, or shares dramatically helps me boost my reach, especially on Facebook.  YES, IT MAKES THAT MUCH OF DIFFERENCE IF YOU JUST CLICK “Like” ON ONE OF MY FACEBOOK STATUSES.  This is a good thing for me, because it helps increase my stats overall, which can in turn help me get better and more compensated opportunities for me (companies regularly check bloggers’ numbers).

And as I mentioned before, Facebook is really making it challenging by limiting who they show our posts to.  If you don’t already like Mom of the Year, or could ask some friends to follow me, this would truly mean the world.  It’s a small thing, but makes a big difference.  It is always super-helpful if you sign-up to subscribe by e-mail to get posts (upper right-hand corner on this blog).

In short, thanks for your patience.  And now back to your regularly-scheduled programming. xo, readers.

When More than Mommies nailed this explanation of compensated blogging.  You rock, ladies!

More than Mommies nailed this explanation of compensated blogging.
THANK YOU, ladies!

Jan 222014
 
Hanging out with my gal

Hanging out with the cool gal

In this world, it can be a little tricky to meet people you connect with.  Finding those kindred spirits?  What a rare gift. I can’t say how blessed I feel that my path crossed with Stephanie Giese, the powerhouse behind Binkies and Briefcases, a while back through this blogging world.  Steph is a breath of fresh air with her realism, kindness and wicked smartness.  She’s a true friend, and there is no one I would rather be planning this Blog U Conference with.

Steph never fails to impress me.  Most recently, she is hitting it out of the ballpark with her new children’s book, The Cookie Jar Parable.  She tells you all about the book and the sweet, personal story and prayer of how it came to be here, but in short, she wrote this book to help kids process their grief after a loss in a way that makes sense to them.  

illustration-from-the-cover-of-The-Cookie-Jar-Parable @meredithspidel @binkiesandbrief

As it says on the back of the book:

Elliot’s grandpa is in Heaven now, and Elliot is sad. He is a little nervous to visit Grandma’s house since Grandpa won’t be there anymore. Will she be upset? Is she lonely?

During their visit Grandma shares a special story with Elliot. Her story is about a jar full of cookies that have been created to be part of a great celebration. Through “The Cookie Jar Parable” Grandma is able to help Elliot understand that it is all right to be scared of death and loss, but on the other side there is a wonderful celebration waiting for us.

This book is perfect for my kids.  At 2 and 4, they are only starting to get that their Grandma is “gone”. My 4 yr. old son is working really hard on the concept of “death” and “Heaven”, and anything that can help us with this would be, in the most literal sense of the word, a Godsend.

The meaning of the books translates well into different faiths, and is full of colorful illustrations to appeal to young ones. Also, it’s only 6″x7″, so it’s great for small hands and for throwing in a backpack.

illustration The cookie jar parable @binkiesandbrief @meredithspidel

illustration-from-The-Cookie-Jar-Parable

I’m so thrilled with this book!  Thanks to Steph for creating such cool tool to help us parents as we navigate through a more difficult piece of this world with our kiddos.

Check it out on Amazon (you can preorder now and it will be available for sale on 1/28/14), enter below to win one of 2 signed copies below.  As long as you are 18 or older and a resident of the continental U.S., you are good to go!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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