Mega Back-to-School Giveaway!


So many first-day-of-school photos have popped up in my social feeds this week. My kids are back in just a few, and it certainly feels like crunch time to pick up all of the necessary supplies, clothing, and items for back-to-school.

It’s been a while since we’ve shared a great giveaway – and we’re so excited to join-in on hosting a mega back-to-school jackpot giveaway with over $400 in items for one lucky winner!

We’ve tried many of the items ourselves – and this buddle of goodies is fantastic for parents with kiddos of all ages. Check out all of the awesome prizes below – this is a giveaway you don’t want to miss!

Prizes Include:

  • Discount Glasses ($100 Store Credit)
  • pediped (1 pair of kid’s shoes)
  • Mini Hornit LIDS (1 child’s helmet)
  • Mabel’s Labels (Ultimate Back to School Combo Label Set)
  • MiFold (1 Grab-and-Go Booster Seat)
  • MyPhonePouch (1 Phone Case)
  • SqueasyGear (2 Squeasy Snackers)
  • My Travel Tray (2 Trays)
  • Wubba Water (Variety 6-pack)
  • Munchie Mug (1 spill-proof Snack Cup)
  • Mama Never told Me….A Diary of Unbelievable Comments and Questions Posed to a Pregnant Woman (1 Book)

Big thank you to all the brands and Heather of US Japan Fam for organizing! Best of luck!

UPDATE: Giveaway closed

This post is sponsored by Mode.


Healthy Habits: How To Fight Germs During the School Year and Beyond

Consideration provided by Lysol.  Opinions, as always, are my own.

Raise your hand if you’re the mom with immediate psychosomatic symptoms as soon as those school notices start rolling home in your kids’ folders!  I so experience immediate head itching as soon as I read the words “lice found” on a classmate’s head – and don’t get me started on stomach bugs, mysterious rashes, pinkeye and more.

My hope for kids (not just my own) is to be as healthy as can be during the school year and beyond.  But we all know how quickly germs spread; how awful it is to see our little ones ill; and how taxing it can be on an entire family when illnesses rear their horrid little heads.

That’s why I was down with revisiting my public health classroom years by attending “Lysol Germ School” and gleaning fascinating and perhaps somewhat disgusting info about the transmission of infectious agents, the heartiness of germs, and so much more.

Washing-Hands-Lysol-Germ-PreventionI may have been the one who sneezed in germ school (whoopsy daisy!), but here I am attempting to be the valedictorian of hand washing knowing that I’d endure careful hand-examination under a black-light flashlight when I headed back to “school”.

In a true classroom setting, complete with desks, chairs, backpacks, and more – the presentation began with “germ expert” Joseph Rubino, The Director of Research & Development, Hygiene Personal Care & Surface at RB.   This guy is the real deal – the sort of researcher who’s sampled doorknobs in department stories to identify and report on all the junk found living on them.  He ran us through some interesting facts, which made me want to up my cleaning game immediately.

  • The flu virus can live on hard surfaces for 48 hours.
  • The amount of germs in our body weigh collectively nearly the same amount as our brain.
  • 22 million school days are missed each year due to the common cold
  • Shaking hands transmits more viruses than kissing.
  • The Flu virus can travel up to 12 feet in the air, traveling at 100 miles per hour.
  • Flu season stretches from October through May.

Pediatrician, Dr. Jennifer Loubler was also on hand to address questions and reinforce healthy habits to avoid illnesses.  Hand washing is key (along with keeping hands out of mouths!), disinfecting surfaces and sneezing into elbows.

I was already a Lysol fan before attending germ school (their Dual Action wipes are my favorite) – and I left with an even deeper commitment to having a more solid prevention plan in place as we enter the school season next month.

From lunch pails to car-seat buckles, public transportation and so much more, we all come into regular contact with so many germs on a daily basis. But if we collectively work on prevention (keep sick kids home, wipe down surfaces, wash hands effectively) – we can help prevent what feels like the plague once it comes around.

Why Lysol? It kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria including all the funky ones like Influenza A Virus (H1N1), Human Coronavirus, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli (YES! E.Coli!), along with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (stay away from my family ALL OF YOU, thank you very much.).  You can also count on Lysol to get rid of more than 95% of allergens and remove all the gunk that the kids manage to cake all over the place (I’m telling you Dual Action wipes are the way to go!).


Also, we’re thrilled to find Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray as an official Box Tops for Education partner to help support schools.


Armed with a plan, I’m facing the school year with confidence.

Wishing you all a healthy school year and beyond!

Image number one via Will Star.  Special thank you to Lysol and Audrey and Vera for including Marino Bambinos in this sponsored event.


The Art of Handwriting


I’m rarely without a small notebook and pen in my bag.  Some think it’s old fashion, but I believe in writing things down. In many ways, writing channels my creativity, requiring a presence in thought and handwriting (which happens to be horribly messy by that way).  That said, in an increasingly digital world I want my kids to believe in the power of the pen and master their own style of handwriting (hopefully neater that mine!) – as it really is a unique and integral part of themselves.  And so we joined BIC in sparking excitement for the back-to-school season and their mission to remind parents of the emotional and cognitive benefits that handwriting has in shaping children.


With fantastic packs of BIC pens and pencils, my kiddos were eager to join in the early morning writing fun.


Principal for a day?  The big girl would absolutely add a pool to her school and dye her hair in a kaleidoscope of rainbow colors to celebrate the occasion.


And her love for reading and Harry Potter is still going strong. She carries her beloved books everywhere – a trait that I adore.


Our soon to be first-grader is getting super expressive in his drawings along with his writing – which is always a fun incentive for working hard. His growing confidence is precious – and taking the time to work on handwriting helps to show him his incredible potential.


BIC’s Velocity Slide Clic Mechanical Pencils have proven strong enough to withstand the pressure of our eager six-year-old pressing down while writing (perhaps a bit too hard!) without breaking – and BIC’s EXTRA-Fun #2 Pencils with stripes add tons of bright two-tone fun to the kids’ work area.  We’re also huge pen fans and found greatness in BIC’s Cristal Xtra Precision Ball Pen and their 4-color Stylus and Pen – which is entirely nostalgic of my childhood, featuring interchanging pen colors (that you press down to switch!).

We’re excited to help share BIC’s Fight For Your Write mission in partnership with to help give children the tools they need to thrive in school.  For every signature that BIC receives for its pledge to celebrate handwriting, BIC will donate a pen or pencil with up to 200,000 products.

BIC-Back-to-School-FightForYourWriteJoin us in‘s contest! What would your kid(s) do if they were principal for a day?  Have them write down their ideas for entry to win a $10,000 scholarship!  Hurry up because entry submission ends on 8/15 (no purchase necessary, U.S. only, 21+) – find official rules and entry options on BIC’s website.

Wishing your kiddos a smooth transition back-to-school!

This post is sponsored by BIC.  Opinions, as always, are my own.


Style Stars: Back-to-School Fashion That Your Kids Will Love

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of OshKosh B’gosh.  Opinions, as always, are my own.


We may still be swimming in summer – but I know that some kids are currently meeting their first-day-of-school.  I’ve learned that starting back-to-school shopping well in advance is always a good thing, especially with children who crave fun and independence when it comes to fashion and style.


Some days call for cat-ear barrettes.

And a graphic tee with your favorite jeans (on repeat). Don’t forget to add shades for recess to compliment that bright future.


Fierce sharks are cool when you’re six!


A fighting ninja? Even cooler!


For our big girl, it’s all about the accessories.  And a favorite first-day-of-school dress that will later be paired with soft leggings and a denim jacket as the crisp fall air rolls in for good.


As in every season, this mom turned to OshKosh B’gosh to tackle back-to-school shopping – with versatile kids’ clothes that are adorable, durable and always age-appropriate.  Can I tell you how excited I am that the boy is newly obsessed with OshKosh jeans?!  This perfect pant for all seasons matches with every possible combination. For now, he’ll rock his jeans with interchanging cool tees (and collared shirts for a more polished look) – and then add layers when needed. While my daughter will continue to personalize her style with accessories, I’ll be dreaming of that darling boho dress in my size!


I always feel better sending the kiddos off to a new school year in comfortable clothing that makes them feel good about themselves.  I can depend on OskKosh for this – with affordable prices, on-trend styles – and significant savings in every order.  Find an OshKosh B’gosh store near you and grab the below coupon to save 25% both in store and online.


I’m so excited to see my little loves thrive in this school year to come.


Wishing your babies (big and small) all the best as they head to their new classrooms, as well.  Cheers to new beginnings!


Document The Day: First Day-of-School Photo Ideas

Back to School, already?  We too are lamenting the fact that everything around us seems to always be a season ahead.  All that we want to do right now is linger in the amazing summer that has just begun – but a little preparation will make the transition back to school so much smoother.  Since I’ve always been the mom scrambling for a sharpie and printer paper on the first-day-of-school, I’m sharing the best in back-to-school photo ideas over on MODE.  Please chime in with your ideas – I’m determined to step up my game this year!


Check out Document the Day: First-Day-of-School Photo Ideas

by Monica Marino at Mode

This post is sponsored by MODE, where you’ll find other great stories. Thanks for reading!