5 Tips to Save Big on Back-To-School Shopping

Below are five easy ways to save loads of time and money preparing your child for school.

Do Your Homework 

Start by making a complete Back-To-School Shopping List. Know exactly what you need to avoid over-buying. Next, compare prices online to find the best deal. There are way too many apps and websites available today to NOT to compare prices both online and in-stores. Write down the store/website with the best deal next to the item. When you've gone through your list, jotting down the best stores/websites, check for stores or websites that overlap. It takes time, but it will save BIG BUCKS!

NOTE: Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, and the in-store price matching offers, there is no reason to pay full price anymore, Online AND in-store. 

Shop Online to avoid temptation.

My husband is always giving me shit about how it's impossible for me to walk into Target without spending $100 in the first four aisles. You can get your child's entire school supply list online. With free shipping after $25, it's become the only way I can shop Target without spending at least $100. To reduce budget busting temptations, shop from the comfort of your couch. TIP: Make sure the kids are around driving you crazy, this will further reduce the temptation to buy extra stuff for the heathens.

TIP: GiftCardGranny is a totally legit website to get gift cards at super discounted prices. So before you head to the store or buy a gift card, check Gift Card Granny first so you can add even more to your savings.

Don't Discount The Discount Sites

Websites that offer deep discounts like Groupon, Zulily, Overstock, Wayfarer, Amazon, and my new favorite, Jet.com...  all will be fighting for your attention during the back-to-school season, so capitalize on it!  Most are offering free shipping with no minimum purchase.


If you buy ANYTHING online and don't search for a coupon code first, you need to be slapped. Hard. It's seriously as easy as typing into the search bar, "Coupon code for Target," and like magic, money-saving coupons appear. It takes thirty-seconds to find the coupon, copy the code then go back to your shopping cart and apply the coupon code. Seriously,  in less than a minute, you can save up to 90%! Agin, if you're not doing this, you need to be slapped. Hard.

Moms, you know how your child thinks Forever 21 is what their Heaven looks like? Groupon Offers Coupons that will save you big there!

Get Cash Back!

And last, my favorite tip of all, get cash back on your online purchases. My longtime time readers know, I stress this every chance I get! I have made so much CASH BACK over the years using Ebates. I don't even do anything differently. I added the Plug-in to the browser, and now every time I shop an Ebates pop-up shows me how much cash back I can earn (3%, 5%, 10%) and any available coupons. It's mental, at checkout, Ebates automatically tries the coupon codes. I love love love Ebates! Seriously. On August 15, a check for $100 will be deposited in my account.


Do you have a super Shopping tip? Please share, us Parents need all the help we can get over the next two months!


Top 10 Words Of Wisdom for ALL parents.

I'm pretty sure if God gave out 10 Parenting Commandments, this is what they would be...

1. Laugh at yourself- First and foremost, Laugh. Parenting is hard enough, if you don't find the humor in it, you will go batshit by the end of the first 6-weeks.

2. Laugh at your child- Kids are hysterical, laugh at them. Most of all, laugh with them.

3. Forgive yourself- There is no such thing as the perfect parent. No. Such. Thing. We all make mistakes. If at first you don't succeed... you will eventually.

4. Forgive your child. Those little shits... mean well. Just like us, kids make mistakes too. It's part of life. For little ones, life is all about trying new things and testing limits. They are bound to screw up a few (hundred) times.

5. The Joneses are assholes- Damn those Joneses trying to set standards and pass judgmentsPay no attention to the talking heads, they don't know you or your child.

6.  Your instinct is right, listen to it. Mom. Dad. Listen to your inner parent, it knows what's best. Don't let someone or some book make you think otherwise. Start with your instinct, then go from there.

7. The "Right Way" is the way that works for your family. Your family is the new normal. Don't let a book tell you your instinct is wrong. You know your child(ren) better than anyone else, work within those bounds.

8. Say I love you and hug your family every day. Who doesn't love a little acknowledgment and affection? I know kids especially do. So give it to them. Make there be no question just how loved they are.

9. The dishes can wait. Don't sacrifice your family time. Take the time to be with your family now, because tomorrow is not promised. Besides, the dishes will always be there.

10. Love every second and every stage because when they pass, you will miss them dearly. Yes, even the really annoying stages. Every day goes by so fast, try to remember and document as much as possible.


Genevieve Gorder's Top Tips For Creating The Perfect Nursery

While writing an article for Parenting.com on tips for designing a nursery, I had the great fortune of interviewing, Genevieve Gorder, on her top tips for creating the perfect nursery. Below five of my favorite takeaways from the interview.  

Consider Your Infant's Needs First

No matter what, keep the nursery airy, light and free of clutter. Stick to as many natural products and design elements as possible. Your baby won't even be able to see across the room for a couple of months, so think about health and cleanliness first. Fresh air, light and safe spaces should be your first concern. Also, babies grow quickly, so consider easy to change design elements. The last thing you want to do is paint and redesign your child's room every couple of months.

This is a perfect gender neutral art piece. Credit: 76th & Newbury

Avoid matchy-matchy themes

Sticking to one color palate is not stimulating, it's boring. The nursery is your first opportunity to share the world, it's colors, shapes, textures, and sounds, so make the most of it. Sticking to gender-specific colors and toys creates a one-dimensional room. Babies need textures, colors and shapes to interact with, not just pink ruffles and blue bears. Start with a neutral wall color that allows for easy incorporation of different colors, shapes, and textures, bold design elements. The neutral wall also makes it easy to change the room's design throughout the first few years of your child's life.

I love everything about this shot of a nursery from 76th & Newbury. Spot on.

Include as many sentimental pieces as possible

Before you buy one piece of furniture, look to family and friends FIRST! And while you're there, look for folk art, antiques and other design elements to add a personal touch. Use grandma's old dresser for a change table, spruce up the old rocking chair on your parent's porch, beg to borrow or just steal that mirror you've always admired at your mother-in-law's house.  Have an artist in the family, ask for a piece to add to the room. Who knows, many years from now, your child may use that same piece in her nursery. 

LOVE this custom tree art from &6th & Newbury

Look to Nature 

One of my favorite tips from Genevieve was to use nature for design elements. She recommends walking around the yard or a nearby park to collect strong tree branches then wrap them in bold yarn colors in varying textures to create a sturdy shelf. One of Genevieve's favorite design element in her daughter's nursery was a large dried root from a tree that cost under $50. She hung it on the wall using a large hook and fishing line then hung photos and other child-friendly elements. Now, seven years old her daughter still cherishes her, "Tree of Life." (Shown below now hanging at the top of the stairwell.)

Photo credit: Genevieve Gorder

There's Only One Thing You Should Splurge On

Linens. Your infant will be spending a great deal of time sleeping on those crib sheets, make sure they are gentle, natural and hypoallergenic. Consider all linen options before buying off the rack at a big box store. All you need is two sets, and they'll be worth every penny. 

To read my article click, here.


These Stain-Fighting Hacks, Every Parent Should Know

While I'm a firm believer every child is different, one thing rings true across the board, stains. Those little creatures are stain making masters. From the first spit-up to Big Red, stains happen. Add animals into the mix and, well, shit may literally hit the fan. Which is why when Empire Today reached out asking me to join a small round-up of super-bloggers to share stain-fighting hacks, I was all-in. Stains, I friggin' know. I have a boy and a puppy. I'm a stain-fighting Jedi.

It is my honor to share my stain fighting tips with you today, along with five other stain-fighting-Jedi moms and bloggers.

We were asked to share my tips on:

Coffee Stains. 
Colored Drink Stains
Crayon, Marker, Ink

Here's what I had to say:


For stubborn stain-makers like coffee, I start by saturating the stain with plain white vinegar. While the vinegar works it's magic, about five minutes, I fill a bowl with hot water and a few drops of dish detergent and grab two clean, dry cloths. With one towel I blot up as much vinegar, and hopefully the stain, as possible. I take the other towel and dip it in the soapy water and alternate between gently rubbing the stain out and blotting the carpet. I'll repeat this with a clean area of the cloth until the stain is no more.


Being a mother and pet owner, I know mud tracks. I know how messy and nearly impossible they are to clean out of carpets. I also know to avoid mud tracks like the plague. Thankfully, unlike sudden spills, mud tracks are predictable.


There’s only trick to getting back breaking mud stains out of carpets, avoid them!
To do so, I lay old towels by the door on rainy days and keep a pack of baby wipes handy to clean muddy paws.


Pet stains are the worst! Not only are they tough to remove from the surface of the carpet, but the stinky residue clinging to the fibers is near impossible to eradicate. To add insult to injury, that stinky residue is a calling card to your pet screaming, come back, I'm the best toilet ever! There's only one way to fight these stains, declare war with 2 tablespoons powdered detergent (OxiClean) with 2 cups warm water and a few drops of dish soap and mix until detergent is fully dissolved. Pour the solution over the stain to saturate it, but not oversaturate it, then using a gentle scrub brush work the solution into the carpet, allowing to penetrate for 10-15 minutes before blotting away the liquid. Spot treating stubborn areas with the leftover solution if necessary


What's a life without wine? And where's there's wine, there's inevitable spills, splashes, and whoopsies! For those moments, I reach for Club Soda and saturate the spill before blotting up the liquid with a clean, dry cloth. Crisis averted!


Finding waxy residue on your carpet can be downright scary. (Think: Red wax on a white carpet.) But have no fear, it can be done using a paper towel or paper bag and a HOT iron. Place the paper towel over the wax and press the iron into the wax, careful not to let the iron touch the carpet, hold for ten seconds. The heat will melt and draw the wax out of the carpet fibers and into the paper. Repeat, using a clean area of paper until wax is completely removed from the carpet fibers.

For more stain-figting tips and to see what the other bloggers had to say click, here


5 Back-to-School Tips For Beginners

Between orientation, buying school supplies, paying fees, and leaving my son with people I had only met once before, I thought I was going to need an IV of Valium to make it through the first week of school. Thankfully, I survived to tell the tale...

Nothing beats first-time parent ignorance. Silly me, I thought back to school would be easy and fun. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Thankfully, I survived to tell the story. Below is a full recount of the top 5 Eye-Opening Lessons I Learned During my first Back-To-School Week.

1. It's A Whole New World- So much for the easy days of the 'Mother's Day Out' program, my son attended 2-4 days a week at church; 'Real school' is a whole new world.

Picture it, Parents everywhere, children everywhere, kids crying, parents crying, photo after photo being taken in front of the school. Teachers shoving stacks of papers in your hand with lists, rules, expectations, and snack rotation schedules, all while your child is clinging to you for dear life, begging you not to leave him in this madhouse.

I'm not really sure what I expected, but I definitely didn't expect all that chaos. I quickly learned my son and I were one of MANY. The sooner we got with the program, the better. Give yourself PLENTY of time on the first day of school to swim through the chaos.

2.  Your child isn't the only one crying on the first day of school. The first day of school was rough for both Ollie and I, but we were certainly not the only ones. It was beyond cute watching the moms and dads taking photos in front of school with their child in the favorite outfit. Whole families were tearing up. At times, I couldn't tell who was being braver, the parents or the child. Starting school is a huge step, yes, but it's also a huge reminder that our babies are growing up.

3.  Moms bite. Hard. Especially in the morning. I get it. It's 8:30am, everyone is trying to get the kid(s) to school and be at work by 9am for the Monday morning meeting, but who knew the morning rush is a full-on knockdown, don't-fuck-up-carpool and get-outta-my-way mad dash? Get ready to watch the seasoned parents show you how to get your kid in class and be back in the car in 4.3 seconds flat.

Thankfully, I am not that mom, so I am a little less rushed, but God help me for not getting out of the way of the mom that is! The mornings are the worst. Thankfully, it gets a little less frantic about a month into the new year.

4Organization is key. During the orientation and the first few weeks of school, expect a small forest in reading materials. I cannot get over how much there is to know about school in general, State laws in regard to education and the ridiculous amount of activities, fundraisers and school events... I'm expected to attend and work.

By bestie and seasoned mom said the best thing you can do is print out the school's calendar of events for the entire year to stay on top of important dates and events, check the backpack DAILY and open a solid (respectful) line of communication with your child's teacher immediately.

5.  Make hand washing a household rule.  The inner walls of a school are full of germs, sneezes, coughs, viruses and miserable sick children whose parents had to get to a meeting. You've got two choices when it comes to dealing with the petri dish full of kids, stay vigilant or sick.

If nothing else, handwashing must become a MUST. Make it a rule, beginning on the first day of school, the second your child(ren) walk through the door after school, hands have to be washed. Well.

Most of all, Get ready, your little one isn't the only one learning and growing up as a result of starting school.


DO THIS Before Buying Back-To-School Clothes

No doubt back-to-school (BTS) shopping and preparations can send even the most budget-conscious family into financial hell. I'm constantly trying to find ways to save, repurpose and trade my son's toys and clothes. I had a garage sale last weekend, that wore me the fuck out, that not only cleared out our junk and clutter but helped pad the budget for BTS shopping.  

The goal was to shed the crap and clutter weighing my family and house down. This includes all of the clothes we all no longer needed. I have a super method for plowing through the clothes quickly. The goal is to clear out the crap, make as much money as possible, then use it as a guide to my back-to-school shopping budget. Let's just say, creativity keeps my family clothed. 

So, if like me, you live on a budget, have limited closet space, and would like 50-75% of your child(ren)'s school clothes paid for, keep reading...

Here is how this whole thing works. I have two or three storage tubs for each of us and two for our coats as well. I start by emptying out the storage bins into four piles; Keep, Donate, Dump and Delusional. Let me explain...


This is, of course, the clothes I/Ollie/FTD plan on wearing for the season. This pile also has the Spring Break t-shirt from 1996 that holds too many memories to part with, the tops I spent too much on, and the hideous grandparent gifted sweaters I have to keep readily available for surprise invites and drop-ins.


This is the pile of clothes needs to belong to someone else. Hopefully to paying customers at the yard sale... This pile is everything that will never ever be worn again by your people. The more you let go of, the more you will make, so be honest with yourself.  This pile also holds the Christmas, birthday and awful baby clothes I will NEVER EVER put on my body or my child's. Thankfully, my trash is someone's treasure. After all, someone bought these fine specimens of shit clothes thinking they were superb. These same people are also on PeopleofWalmart.com 


This pile is the worst of the worst.  While it is meant for the city dump, it should be burned to ensure these articles of clothing never see the light of day again.  This one holds the clothes I painted the wall and myself in, things I wore until they fell apart. Literally. Things even the Goodwill will not take. You know it is bad when Goodwill throws the bag back in your car, screaming "LEAVE!"  Again, for examples go to PeopleofWalmart.com


This happens to be a very special pile. This pile is beautiful. All of my favorite clothes that I cannot fit into anymore,  or Ollie's clothes I want to save because parting with them would break my heart love so much I cannot part with are piled, very high, here.  Why do I call it the delusional pile and keep it separate from the keep pile?  Because I am so incredibly delusional, I think I will be a size 4 again, or that somehow I will be able to pull off that twenty-something look at thirty-something. No, really, I think it possible!  What if this whole, "Wait until you start chasing a toddler, the pounds will melt off," is true?  Granted the whole, "Breastfeed and the pounds will melt off," proved to be a load of horse turds. But, maybe, just maybe, the toddler marathon will get me into my pre-teen denim!

ONce finished sorting through the clothes, Put away the delusional, Dump the crap and start preparing for the yard or sidewalk sale. Believe it or not, clothes are the best selling item at a garage sale. You've got a good chance of selling most all of your clothes, and best of all, making enough to cover 50-100% of this season's back to school shopping. 

TIP: Now that the closets are fully clean, hang all of the new clothes with the hanger hooks facing you, once you take the garment off the hanger I turn the hanger back around. This way, at the end of the season whatever has not been turned around should be donated or dumped. 


Beat The Heat With These 5 Back-To-School Sports Lifesavers

I can't help but be sad for the little ones and their families risking heat stroke and sunburns for 'the love of the game.' Damn, it must suck. But, I get it, the fall sports season has technically begun. So, today, I'm dedicating this post to the parents and families sweating cats and dogs on the field. Keep reading, below are the five things I used to keep my family cool the weekend we braved 107-degree temps to win a cake and ride the rides...  

(Note: This is in no way a sponsored post. The below products I found and purchased myself. Congrats to these companies for making great products. Here's some free advertising.)

Every year during the third weekend in July, the Catholic church two blocks from my house puts on the best picnic and carnival EVER! The three of us look forward to it all year long. This year, the forecast put the weekend at one-hundred degree days and ninety degree nights. Knowing there was no way we were going to miss the four days of fun and family thrills and chills it provides, I decided that I would prepare my family as best as I could. 

I scoured the Internet, novelty stores, Target, and The Dollar Tree for anything that would promise to keep my family cool and protected from the sun's rays and stupid-hot July temps. Below are the five things that kept us cool, hydrated and protected from the suns rays.

The Hydro Flask ($30): First and foremost, if nothing else, hydrate your child. And I cannot recommend the Hydro Flask enough for the job! My best friend sent it to me for my birthday this year, and I use it every single day. It is the most indestructible amazing liquid holding contraption ever. It keeps ice water icy cold and hot soup super hot. You can seriously put a few ice cubes in this thing in the morning and fill it full of water, and by the end, the ice cubes will be intact

The Ultra Soft Cooling Towel ($9): If you bought one of the first cooling towels to hit the market, then you know, once they dried out, it was like a hard cardboard sheet. Thankfully, the towels have had an upgrade. The new ones stay soft always wet or dry.  Now, you can throw it in your handbag, and all you've got to do is just find a little bit of water soak it, snap it a few times and you instantly have a cold towel. This is a mom emergency heat stroke life saver. Seriously, every mom should have one in her handbag. And they're so cheap why not.

The Necklace Fan ($16 for Two or $10 for One): This thing is hysterical!!! But so friggin' great. All you do is pop in some batteries, slip the fan over your head and tighten it up around your neck and BOOM, instant hands-free air conditioning. Definitely not the most fashionable thing, but it works. Well. And it totally worth the money! I gave one to a girlfriend who runs her family's YUMMY ice cream food truck at the Catholic picnics, She LOVED it! Shoutout to Haywood Ice cream!

The handheld USB rechargeable hand held 3-speed fan with light ($15). This fan was a wild-card winner! I was floored when it arrived... So well-made, the three speeds are fast, faster and hurricane force winds... and the light on the back...  and has a power bank that can charge my phone!!!! OMG!!!! This fan is my new favorite. We now own three. If you need a handheld fan, buy this. 

UPF 50+ Bucket Sun Hat UV Sun Protection with Mesh Rim ($10-$15): 

I'm so in love with the hats I bought for all of us. All three were inexpensive and have been Lifesavers since day one. The boys love their hats. They stay super cool, and the mesh rim around it lets the air blow through. Most of all, the UPF material actually blocks some of those seriously harmful sun rays.  

What are your favorite summer cooling go-to's? 




Selling Your Home? Do This To Kick-Up Your Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal is key to getting prospective buyers in the door. You know what they say about first impressions... Below are a few great tips to help you Kick-Up Your Curb Appeal.

The front door



Keep it clean

Add some greenery

No matter how much space you have to work with, adding some color or some greenery will really boost the look of your home. Large planters filled with colorful flowers or even some neatly trimmed foliage will look fantastic.

Health Risks Associated with CDC-Recommended Vaccinations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend a series of vaccinations for children beginning at birth and continuing through adulthood. Over an average lifetime, an individual following the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedules will receive well over 100 vaccine injections, including immunizations for at least 16 different preventable diseases.
The benefits of vaccination are undeniable; and, according to the CDC, the risks of vaccination are far outweighed by the risks of being infected with a disease such as influenza, measles or tetanus. However, some people who receive immunizations will experience debilitating and potentially-fatal medical conditions. The risks of shoulder injury related to vaccine administration (SIRVA), Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and other injuries and illnesses are well-documented, both in the medical literature and in the case history under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).
What are Some of the Most-Common Injuries and Illnesses Linked to Vaccines?
While each of the CDC-recommended vaccines has its own risk profile, there are a number of injuries and illnesses that are common among multiple different types of vaccinations. Some of the most-common injuries and illnesses linked to vaccinations in the United States include:
  • Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM)Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) is a neurological disorder that causes the immune system to attack the myelin in the brain and spinal cord. It has been linked to vaccinations including the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). Long-term effects include loss of vision, loss of coordination, muscle weakness and paralysis.
  • AnaphylaxisAnaphylaxis is a severe allergic response that can be triggered by egg proteins and certain other vaccine ingredients. In severe cases, anaphylaxis must be treated as a medical emergency, as patients can experience severe throat swelling resulting in disruption of respiratory function.
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and its Variants – Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) and its variants, including Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), are potentially-serious autoimmune disorders that have been linked to the flu shot and tetanus vaccinations. Symptoms vary in nature and severity, but many patients diagnosed with GBS or CIDP will experience severe long-term complications.
  • Shoulder Injuries Related to Vaccine Administration (SIRVA) – Shoulder injuries related to vaccine administration (SIRVA) result from errors during vaccine injection. This includes errors such as injection the needle too deep into the arm or too high on the shoulder, or using a wrong-size needle. Some of the most-common forms of SIRVA include adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder), brachial neuritis, bursitis, rotator cuff tears and tendonitis.
  • Transverse Myelitis – Transverse myelitis is an inflammatory condition affecting the myelin in the spinal cord. It can cause sensory problems, weakness or paralysis, and bladder and bowel dysfunction, and it has been linked to the vaccines for hepatitis B, MMR, diphtheria and tetanus.
Many individuals diagnosed with these and other types of vaccine-related injuries and illnesses will be entitled to financial compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Since its establishment in 1988, the VICP has paid more than $3 billion to successful claimants, including compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. Anyone with concerns about a potential vaccine injury or illness should seek medical attention promptly, and should discuss their rights with a lawyer who handles VICP claims as soon as possible.

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