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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 05:33

I was provided with a 10 day test drive of the Ford Focus featured in this post. This post has not been monetarily compensated. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.
2014 Ford Focus car review

Recently I attended a conference in Boston. As I am in New Jersey, it takes literally about the same amount of time to fly there as it does to make the 5 hour drive. It’s one hour to the airport, 1-2 hours before flight, hour in the air, disembarking, and that’s if there’s no delays and I’m not checking luggage. I love to drive, and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to take a little solo road trip. I drove a 2014 Ford Focus Titanium Edition.

I’d never driven a Ford Focus before. I expected it to look and feel small. I expected it to be more of a single person’s car, or a commuter car. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

2014 Ford Focus car review

I think the look of the nose has a sort of sporty look to it.

2014 Ford Focus car review

Inside the front of the car it is surprisingly roomy. I am 5″ 10″. I generally feel very cramped in smaller cars and was happy to find that I had plenty of legroom. The leather seats were super comfy, and both drivers and passengers side were heated.

2014 Ford Focus car review

I did fit in the back seat, as did my 18 year old son who is 6 foot tall. We didn’t feel like sardines like we have in the back seat of some smaller cars. However, it would be a tad trying if attempting a long journey as the two full size adults pretty much take up the whole back seat. There are charging ports accessible from the back seat.

2014 Ford Focus car review

Speaking of the back seat. It’s a split bench. Either side can be laid down independently or they can both be laid down simultaneously to have a completely open cargo space.

2014 Ford Focus car review 2014 Ford Focus car review

The trunk was rather sizable for a smaller car. It is the home of the large part of the amazing sound system. More on that later, just take note of the large speaker on the right.

2014 Ford Focus car review

Once in the driver’s seat the gauges are organized neatly right on the dash in front of you. I liked the little hoods that separated them, it also helped cut down on glare on the gauges when driving in very bright sunlight. You don’t need a key to start the Focus, it has a push button start. And speaking of keys.

The Ford Focus has MyKey owner controls, a feature that lets you program individual keys so that two members of a household can share the car and yet have their own personal settings. Some of the settings available include:

  • restricting the vehicle’s top speed to 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph
  • limiting the audio system to 45 percent of maximum volume
  • providing a warning when the fuel tank reaches 75 miles to empty
  • selecting speed alert chimes at 45, 55 or 65 mph,
  • setting the Belt-Minder® to chime while muting the audio system until the safety belt is buckled

2014 Ford Focus car review

I kid you not, this car is amazing on gas mileage. I wound up nicknaming the car the camel. I filled the car up at 6,262 miles. I’ve driven up through Boston a number of times before, as my husband’s family lives in New Hampshire. I’ve always had to get gas part way. Not this time! I kept watching the gas gauge waiting for it to get low enough for me to have to stop. It took forever to drop! I told my Dad when I called them that I felt like the car was a camel and had humps with gas in them. I was ten miles short of empty according to the gauge when I stopped to refill the tank at 6,633 miles. That’s a whopping 371 miles! That made me a very happy girl!

2014 Ford Focus car review 2014 Ford Focus car review

To the right of the dash is the car’s console, which is connected to the dash where the media center is housed. It’s pretty small and compact, containing two cup holders. There are charging ports located here.

2014 Ford Focus car review

Many things can be controlled right from that media center screen in the center of the dash, including frequently used controls. And all of my favorite features. (FYI most of the same features can also be controlled from the steering wheel.)

2014 Ford Focus car review

You’re greeted by the familiar blue oval logo when you turn the car on.

The blue oval gives way to the media center.

2014 Ford Focus car review

Moving clockwise in the home screen, you can quickly and easily access your phone, GPS and maps, climate controls and stereo. If paired up with the Focus using Bluetooth you have full access to your phone, contacts and even messages. The media center also gives you the ability to change different settings such as establishing (or in my case disabling) a volume limit, and putting your phone on do not disturb so no calls or messages come through. The car also has voice-activated technology available to help you stay safe and hands free while managing phone calls, text messages and even the stereo.

The GPS was the easiest GPS system that I have used in a car to date. I loved that it allowed me to choose what view I had of the directions it provided. The stereo, well I could write a whole post about the stereo. It is awesome. (And yes these things are important to me.) The car has a Sony audio system with 10 speakers, which includes that big subwoofer I told you to notice above. The system has HD radio and SiriusXM built in.


2014 Ford Focus car review 2014 Ford Focus car review

2014 Ford Focus car review 2014 Ford Focus car review

When the vehicle is moving in reverse the rear view camera is automatically activated and overrides whatever is on the media center display.

There was only one thing about the car that I wasn’t crazy about. The interior posts were a grayish white. I found them to cause a little bit of a glare which was a little distracting. The color of the posts may be a choice when purchasing and not a fault with the car design itself.


2014 Ford Focus car review

I really enjoyed driving the Ford Focus. It was fun and so awesome on gas. If I were looking for a car for local commuting or local driving for a family of four or less I’d definitely consider it. It’d be great for regular and frequent travel as well, provided you didn’t need a lot of leg room in the back for long distances. The Focus would also be a great car for college students, so that they didn’t spend a ton on gas when they wanted to come home to visit.

The 2014 Ford Focus has an MSRP Range of $16,810 – $35,170. It is available in a number of configurations including an all electric model.

What features do you look for when car shopping?


Ford Focus websiteFord Focus on FacebookFord on FacebookFord on TwitterFord Focus on Twitter

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Author: "valmg" Tags: "Reviews, Travel, car review, featured, F..."
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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 01:12

This post is sponsored by Bayer / Seresto and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about the Seresto product, but Mom Knows It All only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Bayer / Seresto is not responsible for the content of this article.

Tick Distribution Map

Years ago, when I was working in computer sales, I leaned back in my seat to stretch and scratched my head. I felt a funky bump on the back of my head. I called my friend, who sat one aisle over, and asked her to come see what it was. She checked me out and discovered a tick. She removed it and that was the end of that. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t long before I wasn’t feeling well. I didn’t think much of it at the time. Until I woke up one morning and couldn’t smile. I went to the doctor immediately. I’d developed a Bell’s Palsy, which is a loss of muscle tone in the face. It’s also a symptom of Lyme disease. I had to see several specialists and take some medications. Most of the Bell’s Palsy corrected itself, but unfortunately for me a tiny bit of it was irreparable and remains to this day. I’m lucky the doctor figured out what it was, it only took a series of questions that I was easily able to answer.

According to the Parasite Risk Map found on Pet Parents (shown above) we have four main types of ticks here in New Jersey – Brown Dog Tick, American Dog Tick, Deer Tick, and the Lone Star Tick. Some people think that ticks only are a big problem at certain times of the year. I was one of those people, by the way, I’d always thought that ticks were seasonal. That isn’t the case – there’s always at least one species capable of feeding year round. Some people also think that ticks only carry Lyme Disease. There are other illnesses that can be attributed to tick bites as well.

Besides the Lyme disease I mentioned, the well known Deer Tick can transmit the organisms responsible for anaplasmosis and babesiosis.

According to the CDC, Anaplasmosis is a tickborne disease caused by the bacterium Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Of the four distinct phases in the tick life-cycle (egg, larvae, nymph, adult), nymphal and adult ticks are most frequently associated with transmission of anaplasmosis to humans. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, chills, and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks of a tick bite. The first line treatment for adults and children of all ages is doxycycline.

According to the CDC, Babesiosis is caused by microscopic parasites that infect red blood cells and are spread by certain ticks. Although many people who are infected with Babesia do not have symptoms, for those who do effective treatment is available. Babesiosis is preventable, if simple steps are taken to reduce exposure to ticks.

Both the American Dog Tick and the Brown Dog Tick are responsible for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

According to the CDC, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a tickborne disease caused by the bacterium Rickettsia rickettsii. This organism is a cause of potentially fatal human illness in North and South America, and is transmitted to humans by the bite of infected tick species. In the United States, these include the American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis), Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni), and brown dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus). Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, abdominal pain, vomiting, and muscle pain. A rash may also develop, but is often absent in the first few days, and in some patients, never develops. Rocky Mountain spotted fever can be a severe or even fatal illness if not treated in the first few days of symptoms. Doxycycline is the first line treatment for adults and children of all ages, and is most effective if started before the fifth day of symptoms.

The Lone Star Tick transmits ehrlichiosis, tularemia, and STARI.

According to the CDC, ehrlichiosis is the general name used to describe several bacterial diseases that affect animals and humans. Ehrlichiae are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Typical symptoms include: fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. Usually, these symptoms occur within 1-2 weeks following a tick bite. The first line treatment for adults and children of all ages is doxycycline.

According to the CDC, tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Humans can become infected through several routes, including tick and deer fly bites and skin contact with infected animals. Symptoms vary depending upon the route of infection. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

According to the CDC, STARI is a rash similar to the rash of Lyme disease. The rash may be accompanied by fatigue, fever, headache, muscle and joint pains.

Seresto flea & tick collar

Unlike humans, pets don’t have the ability to speak and say what’s wrong with them. That’s a big part of the reason why we need to do what we can to keep our pets safe. One thing you can do to help prevent ticks is regularly groom your dog at home. Brushing and combing not only helps your pets look good, but it can also be the first tool to find potential problems like ticks. Another thing you can do is to use  flea and tick prevention. Seresto® repels as well as kills ticks which may help reduce risk of transmission of these organisms.

We’ve been using the new Seresto flea & tick collar for a couple of months now. The collar is designed to work for eight months. We’re quite pleased with the collar and think that it works great. It’s much simpler to use then products that require a monthly application, since there’s no need to remember to apply a product every month. The collar is waterproof, odorless and non-greasy.

Pet parents, be sure to check out PetParents.com, a great pet community and helpful resource where you can find answers to your questions about pet health and well-being. And, if you’re ready to try the new Seresto collar, you can sign up to get a $20 Seresto rebate.

What ticks are active in your area? Have you ever found a tick on your pet?

Seresto logo

The post Tick Tock, Ticks Are Always On The Clock #Seresto appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Lifestyle, Lyme disease, Pets, Seresto, ..."
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 21:28

The product featured was provided free of cost to me for the sole purpose of product testing and review. Please note that any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

CampusBookRentals logo

I’m having some issues. My oldest child, my firstborn, my baby (ssh, I’m not supposed to call him that) is stating college in under two weeks. He attended orientation and registered for classes earlier this week. I know this is a good thing. But I know it’s the next step in my having to let go. Feeling clingy. Anyway.

Textbooks are just as ridiculously expensive now as they were two years ago when I went back to college. And they’re still just as important to have. More so, if you happen to have decided that after two years you’re going to continue on to go to college to the tune of almost $80k per year. We’ll need to save every penny we can, and that might as well start right now with college textbooks.

TJ is taking four classes, for which six books are required.

Here’s the bookstore prices.

T College textbook prices

I immediately took the list from the college bookstore website and entered the info on campusbookrentals.com.

Here’s the CampusBookRentals prices.

Campusbookrentals College Textbook Rentals

They didn’t carry one of the textbooks (it’s apparently made specially for my son’s college), and one other book we decided to purchase from the bookstore since he’ll use it again. That still left us with a pretty expensive list.

The English book cost $84 new at the college bookstore. To rent it from campusbookrentals.com it was $40.98.

The Sociology book cost $96 new at the college bookstore. To rent it from campusbookrentals.com it was $52.53.

The Survey Of Math book cost $198 new at the college bookstore. To rent it from campusbookrentals.com is $177.57.

There’s $100 in savings right there on three books!

Basically, renting textbooks makes sense. Some students may keep some textbooks, but I’d hazard a guess that many students never use most of their textbooks again after finishinig the course. So why spend the money and buy them?! Renting college textbooks makes sense if you have no plans to ever use that textbook again. Students can save 40-90% off of bookstore prices by renting their texts from CampusBookRentals. CampusBookRentals carries a HUGE selection of textbooks. All of the textbooks are US edition, meaning they’re the same textbooks you’d get from your college bookstore. Plus, CampusBookRentals offers free shipping both ways!

Perhaps you’re wondering how long you can have the rented text. As long as you need. Rental periods are flexible and you can even set your own return date.

In case you’re wondering, you can treat the rented textbook the same way you’d treat one you bought. (unless you’d disrespect it, in which case go spend the money.) Students are able to highlight in rented textbooks.

CampusBookRentals donates to Operation Smile with each textbook rented. Operation Smile is an organization that performs life changing cleft lip surgeries on children whose families could not otherwise afford it.

Here’s a brief video on how CampusBookRentals works.

Now about the one book we had to buy from the college bookstore. Guess what we are planning on doing with that? We’re planning on making money from it. RentBack is a fairly new program that allows students to rent the textbooks they own to other students. This service makes you the student money, on average it’s 2-4x more money compared to what you’d make through college bookstore buyback programs.

Here’s a brief video explaining how RentBack works.

If you or someone in your family is starting college this fall, or is already in college, CampusBookRentals is where you want to look when you’re shopping for college textbooks.


CampusBookRentals on Facebook - CampusBookRentals on Twitter

Do you think college textbooks are justifiably expensive?

The post How To Spend Less On College Textbooks appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Lifestyle, CampusBookRentals"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 20:21


Over the past couple of months I’ve written several posts about how important it is to try and achieve your pet’s perfect weight. I wrote about it twice for Dobby, in May and June, and once for Jules in early August. Basically, the short version of the whole topic is this. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 50% of pets in the U.S. are overweight. If your pet is at an unhealthy weight it has a direct effect on your pet’s quality of life and life expectancy. The Hill’s Human-to-Pet Weight Comparison tool  shows that just a tiny bit of extra weight on our pet is the equivalent of much more in people terms. For example, five extra pounds on a 70 pound Golden Retriever is the equivalent of 8.9 extra pounds on a woman. Once you understand what an impact your pet’s weight can have on their health, it’s easy to understand why it’s beneficial to feed quality pet foods such as  Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight dog food and Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight cat food or other Hill’s® Science Diet® Life Care products for cats and dogs.


Here are two additional things you can do to keep your pet healthy.

See the vet every year for an annual checkup. D. Ashley Gallager, a vet at the Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington, D.C., reminds us that dogs and cats age much faster than humans, so missing even one yearly checkup can be like you not going to the doctor for over 5 years!

For those of us that have children, we teach them young to brush their teeth, stay clean and exercise. It isn’t any different for pets. Aside from eating a quality food, regular exercise will also help prevent your pet from becoming overweight. Plus they love it! There are many ways to exercise including walking, running and playing! Brush your pets teeth or have them cleaned. Also, there are some dental chews that will help remove tartar from your pets teeth. Dental hygiene is just as important for pets as it is humans. Regular grooming serves a number of purposes. First of all it strengthens the bond between you and your pet. Second it keeps them looking their best. Regular grooming is a great way to watch for potential flea and tick problems.

Hill's Healthier Pets Happier Lives

To help pet parents with their pets’ health, Hill’s is introducing a new program – “Healthier Pets. Happier Lives.” The program provides resources for pet parents to #GetHealthyHappy. To learn more about the program visit ScienceDiet.com/GetHealthyHappy. While you’re there, be sure to enter to win a $100 gift card towards your pet’s next vet checkup. Hill’s Science Diet will be giving one gift card away everyday for 90 days!

How does your pet make you happy?And how do you help to make sure your pet is living a happy and healthy life?

Hills Science Diet LogoThis post is sponsored by Hill’s and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Food, but Mom Knows It All only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

The post #GetHealthyHappy By Helping Your Pets Achieve #PerfectWeight #ScienceDiet appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Lifestyle, #GetHealthyHappy, #PerfectWei..."
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 15:15

The product(s) featured in this review was provided free of cost to me for the sole purpose of product testing and review. This review has not been monetarily compensated and is based on the views and opinions of my family and/or self. Please note that the opinions reflected in this post have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

Some of the posts on this site, such as this one, contain an affiliate link. This means I MAY get paid a VERY SMALL commission if you purchase the product or service.

Sesame Street: Learning Rocks DVD

Sesame Street: Learning Rocks

  • DVD Release Date: July 22, 2014
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Sesame Street

Famous rocker Virgil Von Vivaldi (Michael McKean) is in town to recruit musicians for his all-rock band. Can Elmo and Abby help him find the right rocks? Then LMNOP (Donald Glover) is set to perform on the Street but loses all of his equipment. Can the Sesame crew help him make replacements in time for the show to go on?

Filled with over two hours of stories, songs, and learning, including Abby’s Flying Fairy School and Elmo the Musical. Guest starring Rev. Run and Dax Shepard.

This DVD is just fun. All Sesame Street DVDs are, but the music (for us anyway) made it extra fun. Hearing un childrens songs put to the beat of songs I know from years ago just made me smile. This DVD is a fine example of educating and entertaining at the same time. I think children learn best when they don’t even realize they’re learning. This DVD is a must have for all Sesame Street fans.


Sesame Street WebsiteSesame Street on FacebookSesame Street on TwitterSesame Workshop website


One (1) winner will receive their own Sesame Street: Learning Rocks DVD.


Enter using the Giveaway Tools widget below. The winner will be selected by the Giveaway Tools widget. If you’ve entered any of my giveaways before then you know that you must complete the mandatory required entry, and that only comments containing all of the requested information will be eligible for entry. US addresses only please, no PO Boxes. Good luck to everyone!

What kind of music does your child enjoy?

The post REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY – Sesame Street: Learning Rocks DVD appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Current Giveaways, Giveaways, Reviews, D..."
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 14:43

The product(s) featured in this review was provided free of cost to me for the sole purpose of product testing and review. This review has not been monetarily compensated and is based on the views and opinions of my family and/or self. Please note that the opinions reflected in this post have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

Some of the posts on this site, such as this one, contain an affiliate link. This means I MAY get paid a VERY SMALL commission if you purchase the product or service.

Sofia The First: The Enchanted Feast DVD

Sofia the First: The Enchanted Feast

  • DVD Release Date: August 5, 2014
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  • ASIN: B00K2Y0TWI

Episodes include:

  • The Enchanted Feast
  • The Buttercups
  • Tea For Too Many
  • Great Aunt-Venture
  • Two Princesses And A Baby

There’s more than meets the eye when you join Sofia The First for a royally scrumptious adventure! All the monarchs from Enchancia’s neighboring kingdoms have come to watch a dazzling display of magic: First, Cedric will conjure up a fabulous feast. Next, he’ll transform the banquet room into a hall of amazing “morpho-mirrors.” But before the fun begins, wicked Miss Nettle (disguised as “Sascha The Sorceress”) crashes the party with a scheme to steal Sofia’s magical amulet. Can Sofia foil the bad fairy’s plan before it’s too late? Perhaps…with help from Snow White, who reminds her it’s important to trust your instincts. Sparkling with music and excitement — plus four more spellbinding episodes — The Enchanted Feast may be the fairest of them all!

The Enchanted Feast is especially fun because it brings in a long-time favorite princess we all know – Snow White! As usual there are positive messages. In this case Sofia is learning more about people, and how to use her best judgment, trust her instincts and use her voice. Sofia The First is just cute. I myself think the show is fun, and I hope they introduce more male characters in the future. The DVD comes with a free mirror, something your little princess is sure to enjoy!

Here’s a clip.


Sofia The First website

If you had Sofia’s ability to talk to animals, what animal would you want to talk with first?

The post REVIEW – Disney Sofia The First: The Enchanted Feast DVD appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Reviews, Disney, DVD, DVD Reviews, Sofia..."
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 10:34

WW - Butterfly Zoo, Rhode Island

Thanks for stopping by! If you have a picture up for Wordless Wednesday, leave your link below! Feel free to head on over to my food blog From Val’s Kitchen, or to my Mom’s blog Here And There, for more Wordless Wednesday fun.

The post WW – Up Close With A Butterfly appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Me And Mine, Butterfly Zoo, Rhode Island..."
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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 21:51

This is a sponsored post. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions expressed are my own.


I’ve learned a fair amount about DNA over the years. Sort of comes with the territory when you have a child with an extra chromosome. Some people are very into the concept of DNA testing. I came across the following infographic, which has some very basic info on DNA testing. There is much more to DNA testing then any one infographic can show or tell you. As such, if DNA testing is something you are considering for some reason you should definitely speak with health professionals such as your physician at length before doing any at home tests. Explain to them in detail what you want to know. They may be able to answer for you. If not they can tell you exactly what things a DNA test can and cannot tell you with certainty.

What Can Your DNA Tell You? Infographic
Presented By GTL

The post At Home DNA Testing appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "This and That, DNA testing"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 22:22

This post is brought to you by Diggerland USA. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

Diggerland USA theme park

Remember back in March I published a post about a new theme park that was opening here in New Jersey? I’m referring to the theme park Diggerland USA, a part of Sahara Sam’s. Diggerland USA is the first US-based construction theme park. The park offers a variety of children’s rides, with general height requirements tiered at 36″ and 42″ and with the majority of them available in some form after 36″. There’s a special play area called the Kid Zone for children under 36″.

Diggerland USA rides include the Barrel Train, Dig-Around, Giant Diggers, Big Diggers, Mini Diggers: Ducks, Mini Diggers: Treasure, Mini Diggers: Bowlers, Dumper Trucks, Skid-Steers, Mini-Land Rovers, Backhoe Adventure, Operation Battletruck, Excavator Express, Sky Shuttle, Rock Wall, Ropes Course, Turnpike Tractors, Ground Shuttle, and Spin Dizzy. That’s a lot of rides! Even though my youngest is a little larger then the height requirement I have no doubt my youngest would have a blast there if he were able to go.

Diggerland USA theme park

Diggerland USA theme park Diggerland USA theme park

Here’s some hot news for you, particularly if you live in the Tristate area of NJ, NY and PA or if you’re planning on traveling through it.  Park visitors can now purchase Diggerland USA annual memberships!

If an annual membership/season pass isn’t for you, how about a nice discount on a ticket! The folks at Diggerland USA have created an exclusive promo code for Mom Knows It All readers. Use code MKIADIG5 to get $5 off full day admission tickets purchased online. That means a ticket would end up being 24.95 ($10 less than the walk-up full day admission tickets). The promo code can be used online until the end of August. http://diggerlandusa.com/admissions/general-admission/

Diggerland USA will be hosting a Bike Safety Parade out front of Diggerland on August 23, 2014, starting at 9 AM. The parade is free to the public. The first 40 riders there will receive free helmets from Safe Kids NJ. They will also be hosting a bike decorating contest, where the best decorated bike will get 2 free tickets to Diggerland USA.

What part of Diggerland USA do you think your child would enjoy the most?


Diggerland USA websiteDiggerland USA on FacebookDiggerland USA on Twitter

Sahara Sam’s websiteSahara Sam’s Oasis on FacebookSahara Sam’s on Twitter

The post Check This Out! @DiggerlandUSA New Season Pass Info, Discount Code And Bike Safety Parade Info appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "This and That, Diggerland USA, New Jerse..."
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 00:55


This post is brought to you by Schoola, the best place to buy discounted kids clothes all while give back to schools in need. Click here to learn more about Schoola. Click here to see what people are saying.

Summer is almost over. That means it’s almost time for summer break to end for my boys. It also means it’s also almost time for my term as PTO president to come to an end. I have really enjoyed being an officer for the past several years. Even though I won’t be an officer anymore, the needs of the school will still be on my mind and I will help when I can.

c school art

Raising money is tough. One of the big things we’ve raised money for is our school’s art program. All of the students enjoy and benefit from it, as do their families. I can’t imagine my son’s school without it. Recently I learned of a new way to help – Schoola, a program that raises money for schools through sales of outgrown children’s clothing.

As I mentioned last month, that is an issue that Yick Wo Elementary in San Francisco, CA is facing right now.

Art can be one of the most important parts of a young student’s life. It teaches kids that it’s okay to be creative and take risks at school—not just in the art room, but in math, languages, and every other subject they study. The educational benefits of an art program are well known, but it’s still not covered by most public school budgets. 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.

Yick Wo Elementary is trying to raise $25,000 to fund an art program. Why? That’s simple. They can’t afford one without help. Sometimes it’s hard to help. Things are tough all over, as they say. With Schoola, it’s easy, painless and doesn’t cost parents a cent. Here’s how parents can help.

When parents request a Schoola bag everyone benefits. For every free donation bag requested, Schoola will help Yick Wo Elementary by donating $1 to their campaign. How can you pass that offer up?! And it gets better! When you donate your children’s used clothes, $2 of every $5 made will go to the school you choose, which could be your own child’s school! Just by requesting a bag you’ll be helping save the art program at Yick Wo, and possibly your own child’s school! That’s a win/win for everyone!

After you request a bag and it arrives, fill it with outgrown clothes and drop it in the mail. Remember, Schoola covers that postage! After the bag arrives at Schoola, people all around the country buy childrens clothes at dramatically-discounted prices. Forty percent (40%)  of proceeds from each sale are donated to the school, helping to keep and expand important programs such as art and music programs.

Here’s a brief video explaining how Schoola works.

So as you find yourself looking to finish your school shopping, be sure to keep Schoola in mind. Through August 20, Mom Knows It All readers can save an additional 20% off purchases with their already low prices simply by using the code BacktoSchoola20.  Please note there is a limit of one use per customer.

No time like the present!  Request a bag today!

What do you do with your child’s outgrown clothing?


Schoola websiteSchoola on FacebookSchoola on Twitter

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Author: "valmg" Tags: "Lifestyle, school art, Schoola"
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Date: Thursday, 14 Aug 2014 00:26

Edmunds Car Mashup

Here’s a question for you.

If you were a car, right now, what car would you be?

That’s the question Edmunds is helping people answer with their fun car personality quiz.

The quick quiz has 15 this or that questions whose answers help determine Edmund’s answer to what car it thinks you would be. For those of you unfamiliar with Edmunds, they know cars. Edmunds is the top third party auto website.  I have used their site many, many times. Edmunds.com offers tons of helpful information on cars, such as pricing, model info, model comparisons, car values, selling tips, and more.

Recently I drove a car with a built-in back-up camera. I thought it was a really useful add-on feature. I had no idea, until I was browsing Edmunds, that back-up camera will be mandatory in 2018. The site is chock full of useful information. Planning a road trip? They’ve got an article where they go over four of of the current popular smartphone traffic apps, comparing them in detail. There are even forums where you can chat with other people that share an interest in a certain make or model of car. The site is a great resource for anyone interested in cars, whether they are buying, selling or just interested casually and want to stay up to date.

Take the Edmunds car personality quiz!


Edmunds website

Edmunds on Facebook

Edmunds on Twitter

What kind of car did the quiz say you are? Do you agree?

The post If You Were A Car What Car Would You Be? Take Edmunds Quiz And Find Out! #edmundsquiz appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Lifestyle, #edmundsquiz, Edmunds"
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Date: Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 19:55

winners congrats smiley

To select the winner of these giveaways I used “Giveaway Tools”. I did confirm each winner selected by the plugin was eligible.

Kinsights winner – Stacy L

NCircle Entertainment Summer DVD giveaway winner – Heather D

Dirt Stopper Chart Topper Giveaway winner – Elaina

YesVideo $50 GC winner – Marci

Thanks to all who entered the giveaways! Please consider subscribing to my feed so you don’t miss out on the latest posts, reviews and giveaways.

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Author: "valmg" Tags: "Winners, Kinsights, NCircle, YesVideo"
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Date: Friday, 08 Aug 2014 21:11

This post is sponsored by Hill’s and the Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s Science Diet Perfect Weight Food, but Mom Knows It All only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.


If you’re read Mom Knows It All for a while or if you follow me on Instagram, you  probably know that we have a Siamese cat named Jules. Now for the record,  I am a cat lover to start, so I think cats are terrific. I have had a lot of them. Jules is one of the two best cats I have ever had. That’s saying a lot, considering that I have just about always had a cat for my entire 48 years of life.

We’ve had Jules since he was a kitten. He darted out in front of my younger brother’s car, and when my brother stopped to be sure he was okay, Jules hopped into the car. I was out of town at that particular time, but hubby wouldn’t allow Jules to go to a shelter where he might or might not get adopted or even stay alive. So Jules was a surprise to me, but one of the best ones I’ve ever gotten.

Jules has always been a “solid” cat. Over the past two months he we noticed that when he walked or ran across the floor you could actually hear a thud when his feet hit the ground. As a result he earned the nickname “fat cat” and occasionally “lard butt”. And then about a week ago the noisy gait got me to wondering. Is Jules fat?

Jules sleeping

“According to a recent survey by the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, more than half of dogs and cats can be classified as overweight or obese. Even worse, these overweight dogs and cats are prone to a variety of health issues, including arthritis, heart disease and diabetes.”

That’s a scary number really. I mean think about it. More than half of our pets are overweight. Being markedly overweight isn’t a healthy thing for anyone, whether person or pet. Being overweight can impact health and life. Here’s another scary number. According to a recent survey by the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, only 11% of parents of overweight pets realize their pets are overweight. As Jules is a very important member of our family, I have to be mindful of his weight and do what I can do make sure things are what they should be.

So how does one know if their pet is overweight? There are signs of an overweight pet. One guideline to use is that if you can’t see your pet’s ribs or feel them while placing your hands on the side of their chest, they are probably overweight. Of course, the only way to know for sure if there is need for concern is to see your vet. Veterinarians are always the best qualified to determine your pet’s body condition as well as help determine an appropriate course of action to lose weight. Recommendations may include a change in diet, along with lifestyle changes such as adding in more exercise.

Dr. Ashley Gallagher, vet at the Friendship Hospital for Animals in Washington D.C., explains how to identify if your pet is overweight.

Hill’s has introduced new Science Diet® Perfect Weight, with its breakthrough blend of natural ingredients that helps pets lose weight without the hassle of counting calories. The new food offers  100% precisely balanced nutrition, and prebiotic fibers for gentle digestion. Over 70% of dogs and cats lost weight within 10 weeks when fed this nutritional pet food.

10 Week Turnaround

The 10 Week Turnaround program was designed to help encourage people to feed Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight dog food and Hill’s Science Diet Adult Perfect Weight cat food to their pets for 10 weeks and share their success along the way. More than 70% of dogs & cats lost weight within 10 weeks when fed Perfect Weight foods. Those results are fantastic! No calorie counting was needed, just proper portions of a quality food made of a breakthrough blend of natural ingredients. Along with proper feeding the program also encourages responsible snacking.

Cat weight loss was important to Shawn Teets of Indianapolis, IN, so put her cat Ethel on the 10 Week Turnaround program. Ethel lost 11% of her weight in just 10 weeks. That’s a noticeable difference!

“Knowing the reputation of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, I felt good feeding it to her. I was very pleased for Ethel to be chosen for the program and am quite happy with her results,” said Teets.

Hill's- ethel Hill's- ethel

Pets having a healthy weight adds to their quality of life and life expectancy. Those things also benefit us, since our pets are like members of our family. I, along with the rest of my family, love Jules like crazy. I hate the thought of his life being shorter then it has to be so understand that his weight is something I need to stay aware of.

Hills Science Diet

Is your pet overweight?

The post Is My Pet Fat? #PerfectWeight #ScienceDiet 10 Week Turnaround appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

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Date: Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 00:36

Screen It Sunday

I’m frequently sent information on upcoming entertainment news. I’ll be compiling and sharing the best and most interesting news with you here each week.

Alice In Wonderland is one of my most favorite animated movies ever. I’m looking forward to seeing what Disney comes up with for this!


Alice In Wonderland

(image courtesy Oh My Disney)

Filmmakers Return to Beloved Stories of Lewis Carroll for All-New Adventure to Underland and Beyond

BURBANK, Calif. (Aug. 4, 2014) – Disney’s “Alice In Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass” begins principal photography this week, featuring an award-winning production team and all-star ensemble cast, including Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. James Bobin (“The Muppets,” “Muppets Most Wanted”) helms the film, which revisits Lewis Carroll’s beloved stories with an all-new new tale that travels back to Underland—and back in Time. “Alice In Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass” is produced by Joe Roth (“Maleficent,” “Alice in Wonderland”), Jennifer Todd (“Alice In Wonderland,” “Memento”), Suzanne Todd (“Alice In Wonderland,” “Memento”) and Tim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Frankenweenie”). John G. Scotti (“Muppets Most Wanted,” “The Muppets”) is the executive producer; Linda Woolverton (“Maleficent,” “Alice In Wonderland,” “Beauty and the Beast”) penned the screenplay. Shooting on location and at Shepperton Studios in England, the film is slated for release on May 27, 2016.

The all-star ensemble cast includes:

Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “Alice In Wonderland,” “Mortdecai,” “Black Mass”) returns to the big screen as the Mad Hatter—Hatter Tarrant Hightopp.

Anne Hathaway (“Les Misérables,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Alice In Wonderland,” “Rachel’s Getting Married”) portrays the White Queen—Mirana.

Mia Wasikowska (“Tracks,” “Jane Eyre” and “Alice In Wonderland”) once again appears as Alice Kingsleigh, who’s on a quest to help the Mad Hatter.

Helena Bonham Carter (“Cinderella,” “Les Misérables,” “Alice In Wonderland”) returns as the Red Queen—Iracebeth.

Rhys Ifans (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I,” “Nanny McPhee Returns,” “The Amazing Spider-Man”) fills the shoes of Zanik Hightopp, the Mad Hatter’s father.

Matt Lucas (“The Labrynth,” “Alice In Wonderland”) returns to the revelry in a dual role as Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

Ed Speleers (TV’s “Downton Abbey,” “Eragon”) portrays James Harcourt in the film.

And Sacha Baron Cohen (“Hugo,” “Les Misérables”) was called on to bring Time to the big screen.

“Alice In Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass” also boasts an extraordinary voice cast.

Stephen Fry (“24: Live Another Day,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” “Alice In Wonderland”) is back as the voice of the Cheshire Cat.

Toby Jones (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Infamous,” “The Girl”) provides the voice of Wilkins.

Alan Rickman (“Harry Potter” film series, “Alice In Wonderland,” director/actor/co-writer “A Little Chaos”) returns as the voice of the Blue Caterpillar.

Michael Sheen (“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” Parts 1 & 2, “Alice In Wonderland,” “The Queen,” “Frost Nixon”) once again serves as the voice of the White Rabbit.

Timothy Spall (“Mr. Turner,” “The Kings Speech,” “Harry Potter,” “Alice In Wonderland”) returns to voice Bayard.

BAFTA-winning actor, writer and comedian Paul Whitehouse (BBC’s “Harry and Paul’s Story of the 2s” and “The Fast Show”; “Alice In Wonderland,” “Corpse Bride”) is back as the March Hare.

Barbara Windsor (“Carry On,” “EastEnders,” “Alice In Wonderland”) provides the voice of Dormouse again.

The film welcomes back several key members of the “Alice In Wonderland” team, including award-winning composer Danny Elfman (“Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Big Eyes,” Silver Linings Playbook”), three-time Oscar®-winning costume designer Colleen Atwood (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Chicago”), who won Oscar, BAFTA and Satellite awards, among others, for her work on “Alice In Wonderland,” and five-time Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Ken Ralston (“Forrest Gump,” “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi”), who won a Satellite Award for best visual effects for “Alice In Wonderland.”

Bobin’s award-winning production team also includes Oscar®-winning production designer Dan Hennah (“King Kong,” “The Hobbit” trilogy, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Oscar for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”), and Stuart Dryburgh (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” Oscar nomination for “The Piano”) as director of photography. The film welcomes Oscar-winning make-up and hair designer Peter King (“Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” Oscar nominee for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”), and Oscar winner Neil Corbould (“Gravity,” “Gladiator”) is special effects supervisor. Andrew Weisblum (“Noah,” Oscar nominee “Black Swan”) is editor.


Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” follows the exploits of 11-year-old Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) as he experiences the most terrible and horrible day of his young life—a day that begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by one calamity after another. But when Alexander tells his upbeat family about the misadventures of his disastrous day, he finds little sympathy and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him. He soon learns that he’s not alone when his mom (Jennifer Garner), dad (Steve Carell), brother (Dylan Minnette) and sister (Kerris Dorsey) all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Anyone who says there is no such thing as a bad day just hasn’t had one. “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” directed by Independent Spirit Award-winner Miguel Arteta (“The Good Girl,” “Cedar Rapids,” “Youth in Revolt”) from a screenplay by Rob Lieber, is a 21 Laps Entertainment/Jim Henson Company production.

Like ALEXANDER on Facebook: Facebook.com/DisneyAlexander

Follow ALEXANDER on Twitter: @DisneyPictures


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Date: Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 22:37

I received accommodations at The Inn At Mystic in order to facilitate this post. This post has not been monetarily compensated and is based on the views and opinions of my family and/or self. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions expressed are my own.

Inn At Mystic

If you’ve ever driven through Connecticut on I-95 you’ve probably passed by or gone into Mystic. We’ve driven past the exit for it dozens of times, as we used to drive to New Hampshire to see hubby’s family. We stopped at the village there once for a potty break. But only recently did I actually finally have the opportunity to spend some time in the area. Of course when traveling you need a place to stay.

Inn At Mystic

The Inn At Mystic can be found just minutes from the popular Mystic Aquarium, perched atop a hill overlooking overlooking the Mystic Harbor and Fishers Island Sound.

Inn At Mystic

A throwback to yesteryear, The Inn At Mystic is not a big box or tower like some that you will commonly find in areas that tourists frequent like Mystic. The Inn At Mystic feels more like a quaint resort from the Victorian era.

In March of 2014 the Inn at Mystic was acquired by new ownership. I personally met with the new owner and got to chat about the renovations and exciting changes that are currently underway. I loved learning that room renovations are being done one or two at a time, as opposed to entire wings, floors and buildings like some properties do. The one at a time approach to me means that individual thought and attention is given to each and every room.

Inn At Mystic

My room, one of those recently upgraded, was in a wing off of the main building, on the first floor.

Inn At Mystic

Rooms are decorated and furnished with a definite nautical feel. My room had a king sized bed. The bed was super comfy, I wish my bed at home was that comfortable! I liked that there was a good assortment of choices of covers. I get cold easily, but also have my moments where I get hot. No they aren’t hot flashes. I hate to travel and stay at a place where there’s only being one thing on the bed and no other options anywhere to be found. It’s so much easier to feel relaxed while traveling if you’re comfortable, don’t you agree?

Aside from the bed, the room contained a private bath and a private balcony.

Inn At Mystic Inn At Mystic

Rooms are equipped with single-cup coffee makers. I personally love that, as it means whether burning the midnight oil or waking with roosters I can have coffee in the comfort of my pjs as opposed to having to get dressed and go out or wait for room service. Other included amenities included parking, an HD flat screen television with cable tv, an iPod dock alarm clock radio, high speed wifi internet, hair dryer and complimentary bottled water. All FREE.

Inn At Mystic Inn At Mystic

The bathroom was clean and well lit. I was very pleased with the water pressure. I sometimes get a bit displeased with certain low pressure shower heads in hotels, as I feel like I might get more pressure from a rain shower or someone spitting on me.

Inn At Mystic

My room had a private balcony off the back. The view was gorgeous! Not all rooms have one, but if you like to sit and relax with a cup of coffee (remember it’s right in your room) and start the day go for the balcony! Some rooms also have wood burning fireplaces or oversized Jacuzzi bathtubs.

Inn At Mystic

The property offers some really great things for guests for free. Bicycles, for instance. Yes, bikes! Guests can take them out and ride them all around Mystic. The Inn also offers an outdoor swimming pool, canoeing and kayaking, hiking/biking trails and fishing. All FREE!

Inn At Mystic

Right about now you might be wondering what to do if you get hungry. The Harbour House is a restaurant and bar on the premises. FYI, you do not need to be staying as a guest in order to eat there.

Inn At Mystic

I had breakfast at Harbour House. The food was freshly prepared to my taste. The eggs were fluffy and the sausage was delicious! I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.

Inn At Mystic

It was raining but easy to see that the patio would be a lovely place to eat on a nice day.

Inn At Mystic

There’s also a mansion that sits at the top of the property called the Haley Mansion. Listed on the National Registry of Historical Places in America, the mansion is one of the highest, if not the highest, points in Mystic. Near the mansion is a gate house that’s also undergoing some repair. The gate house was originally the guest house of the Haley Mansion. The Gate House is noted for being the hideaway where Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall honeymooned in 1945.

The mansion is surrounded by gardens, a waterfall, meadow pond, and sprawling lawns that are perfect for outdoor ceremonies, events, gatherings and photographs. The mansion also currently has some renovations going on. The mansion can be used for private events such as weddings and corporate functions. I have a small network of people in the Northeast and I actually envisioned the mansion as being the perfect site for a one or two night retreat for groups like mine.

Inn At Mystic Inn At Mystic

I found The Inn At Mystic to be a relaxing and quiet place to stay. It’s run by locals, many of whom have lived in the area for much of their lives. There are plenty of brochures in the lobby for things to do in the area, and the people there are more then happy to help you put as well. I really enjoyed my stay and would recommend it to anyone looking for a clean place to stay with friendly people. Two thumbs up here for sure.

What do you look for in accommodations while traveling?


Inn At Mystic
3 Williams Ave
Mystic, Connecticut 06355
Phone (860) 536-9604

Inn At Mystic websiteInn At Mystic on FacebookInn At Mystic on Twitter

Mystic Country websiteMystic Country on FacebookMystic Country, CT on Twitter

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Date: Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 16:02

This is a sponsored post. Please note that any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

T Driving

Just last year I faced some of my scariest moments yet as a Mom. My oldest got his driver’s license. He paid attention and listened and did well while he had his permit. He passed his test and got his license. That afternoon, when he borrowed my car and drove away, I thought I might cry. I was more nervous at that moment then during the whole time he had his permit. Why? Because I wouldn’t be in the car with him any more. Recently he got his own car. I felt myself get that nervous feeling all over again, and went over the rules yet again. If it was hard for me, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be a parent of quintuplets knowing 5 will drive at once, which is what the Jansen family is now facing..

Having a driver’s license is important to many teens, it’s a step towards freedom and independence and adulthood. He learned the rules in the book, and aced his written test. We taught him things he’d need to know to stay safe on the road besides rules for safe driving, things like not using the cell phone to call or text and staying alert.

Car crashes have been the number 1 killer of teens for over thirty years, and the first year behind the wheel is the most dangerous. State Farm is in a position to know this, as State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada.  They know a few things about teen driving. The State Farm Celebrate My Drive program encourages new drivers to enjoy life and celebrate getting their license but also to make positive choices and stay safe on the road. Celebrate My Drive asks all drivers to think 2n2®: 2 eyes on the road and 2 hands on the wheel. Learn more about the initiative at www.celebratemydrive.com.

Celebrate My Drive

As part of the State Farm Celebrate My Drive program, the company is teaming up with The Band Perry to encourage safe driving in high schools across the U.S. and Canada. Last year more than 6.3 million safe driving commitments were made through this program. Through October 7, administrators at U.S. and Canadian high schools can go to www.celebratemydrive.com to register to participate in the celebration. Teens and community members can commit to safe driving once a day every day from October 15-24 in support of their favorite high school. Two grand prize winning schools will receive a private concert from The Band Perry. The 100 high schools with the most online safe driving commitments will win a grant award of $25,000 or $100,000.

Since releasing their self-titled debut album in 2010, The Band Perry has ascended to dizzying heights. Fronted by Kimberly Perry and rounded out by her younger brothers Reid and Neil, the band has notched a string of hit singles from their platinum debut and their gold sophomore release PIONEER, including: the quintuple-platinum No. 1 “If I Die Young,” the platinum “You Lie,” the No. 1 “All Your Life,” the platinum No. 1 “Better Dig Two,” and the gold No. 1 “DONE” (which earned Reid and Neil Perry their first No. 1 as songwriters). They’ve also enjoyed sold-out tours and a showering of honors, including multiple ACM, CMA, and CMT Music awards, including the 2014 ACM Award for ”Vocal Group of the Year, ” and CMT’s 2014 ”Group Video of the Year,” along with many GRAMMY®, AMA, ACA, and Billboard Music award nominations — all of which have cemented the sibling trio as one of the hottest acts in recent history. The band is currently nominated for a 2014 Fox Teen Choice Award for ”Choice Country Group,” and is spending the summer touring the U.S. at dozens of venues and for hundreds of thousands of fans. For a list of all tour dates and more, visit www.thebandperry.com.

“We have such great memories of when we first got our driver’s licenses and we love that Celebrate My Drive is such a positive program that supports new teen drivers,” said members of The Band Perry. “Teen driver safety continues to be a major issue, and this program gives us a platform to spread the word and encourage safe driving in teens’ first years behind the wheel. It’s a privilege to partner with State Farm to shed light on this important issue and hopefully help save lives.”

“Getting a driver’s license is a major milestone in a young adult’s life, and The Band Perry is the perfect partner to help celebrate it,” said Leif Roll, Marketing Vice President for State Farm. “Teens, in particular, connect with music in a major way, so it only makes sense to partner with one of the biggest acts in music to celebrate this new generation of teen drivers. As a leader in auto safety, we feel Celebrate My Drive has proved to be a positive way to help educate teens and their parents about teen driver safety.”

Working together, we can all help reduce teen crashes and deaths, and help teens celebrate getting where they want to go safely.

Do you now or will you soon have any teen drivers in the house? How are you helping teach them to drive safely?

The post Celebrate My Drive -Teaching Teens To Drive Safely And How To Win A Concert For Their School appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "This and That, Celebrate My Drive, drive..."
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Date: Monday, 04 Aug 2014 02:49

This post is part of a partnership with the School Nutrition Association. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

Me At SNA National Conference 2014 Boston

I remember school lunches as a child. I ate them for many years. In the early 80s, school lunches were industrial looking and didn’t look much like real food. Noone really knew what was in them or where they came from. Fast forward over thirty years and you’ll find that some things haven’t changed. There are still people out there that don’t know much about school lunches. I was one of them myself until recently.

When I told my oldest son I was attending the School Nutrition Association’s National Conference, he fired a barrage of questions at me. When I asked people on Facebook what they’d want to know about school lunches, many people had questions there. Some of the questions were the same ones I’ve had for years. The same questions I never really bothered to ask myself. It brings to mind the phrase “the only stupid question is the unasked question”. Of more then 30 questions people asked me, most fell under two recurring themes. Nutritional values and food allergies.

So off to Boston I went, looking forward to learning about school lunches and getting some answers. I spent a good portion of my day at the convention on the expo floor with Jon Dickl, the Director of School Nutrition for Knoxville County in TN. He was a really nice man who was super friendly. He took me around the floor to see what he looked for in products, He introduced me to brokers and manufacturers alike. It was absolutely fascinating and very interesting. I was late to one of my demonstrations because I was really having a great time talking with everyone and learning a ton!

Here’s some things I’d like you to know.

First of all, and this is something I should have done myself, ask the questions you have. If you want to know more about your child’s school lunches, ask. It is as simple as dialing the phone or visiting the school. You might be surprised at what you find. Back in the early 80s the women in my high school cafeteria were definitely the stereotypical grouchy, elderly lunch lady. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the people involved with the school lunch process are experts in their field, including chefs, nutritionists and more.

Next, take everything a child tells you with a  grain (or pound) of salt. I heard more then a few anecdotes about how kids told their parents horror stories, only for parents to go into the school and see for themselves that the horror story was grossly inaccurate. Kids exaggerate. If you’re in doubt or skeptical, go check it out for yourself.

Foods on school menus are not just pulled randomly out of the air. Foods on school menus must meet several sets of guidelines. There are daily requirements set by the USDA that meals must meet. There are also regulations in place to ensure there are healthy choices. Regulations put into place with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) require the USDA to update their nutrition standards for schools, which in turn required cafeterias to offer more fruit, vegetables and whole grains while also limiting sodium and unhealthy fats.

sna lunch sna lunch

Did your school lunches look like that? Mine sure didn’t. I borrowed those two photos from the SNA Facebook page, the pictures come from two very real schools in the US. Because we were on an expo floor all of the vendors had their own booths, so trays were not possible. I just wanted you to know that real school cafeteria food can look good.

To that end. Foods do not necessarily come in industrial vats. I was surprised to find how many things are made fresh, within a school or school district, on a daily basis. Some schools offer freshly made salads and meals. And best of all, every bit of food that I saw looked like real food, not fake, nasty stuff. It all looked appealing.

Food served on a large scale basis does not have to taste bad. The different manufacturers and vendors on the expo floor were only to proud to let me sample just about anything I wanted. They work hard to make their products taste as fresh and tasty as possible. Every single thing I tasted was good. (And I did a LOT of tasting.)

Food brokering was something new that I learned about and it is fascinating. Some foods are commodities. A school can buy a tractor trailer full of USDA quality chicken and have another company turn that chicken into something. For example, my guide buys chicken and has a company turn it into Asian meals. I tasted four different dishes and I was shocked to find that they tasted as good as dishes I have had out in restaurants. Who knew!

Ever heard of Red Gold? I’ve used their products in my own home and blogged about them on From Val’s Kitchen. Well, their tomatoes are considered a commodity. A school buys tomato paste as a commodity. They make a number of products approved for schools including spaghetti sauce, marinara, ketchup, BBQ sauce and others.

Foods From SNA National Conference 2014 Boston

Foods in the school cafeteria may surprise you. How so? Well, there are brands you know, right in school cafeterias.

Heard of Pillsbury? Yep. Starkist tuna? Yep.

Heard of about Domino’s or Pizza Hut? Yes that’s right, the well-known national pizza companies do make appearances in school cafeterias. But they don’t bring their consumer pizza with them, they bring an approved school version of pizza that is made with whole grains as well as lower sodium and fat that meets USDA requirements.

Anyone know Lindy’s cookies? I had a package of their chocolate chip cookies almost every school day for almost four years. Those three cookies were so yummy! Well, Lindy’s is still making yummy cookies. The cookies are a little smaller and there are two to a package. These days they’re made with whole grain contain no trans fats, and have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.

Milk is always available in the cafeteria. Some cafeterias are also now offering products such as new Nestle Pure Life Exotics Sparkling Water and Nestle Splash flavored water, in an effort to provide healthier options then soda.

SNA National Conference 2014 Boston - Dole

Dole? Yep yep yep. They’re actually in recipes in the district. And the great thing is that by being a part of the School Nutrition Association all of the great recipes they come up with share shared to many schools. They made some yummy stuff for us during a session right on the Expo floor!

Chobani. Greek yogurt is considered better for you then regular yogurt by many. Well, it’s in our schools.  Their Greek yogurt is now being used in some schools as a healthier ingredient then common things like oil. mayo, butter, buttermilk and cream cheese.

Parents concerned about food allergies will be delighted to know that there are products out there available for schools to buy. There are a lot of them and more and more come onto the market all the time. If you aren’t seeing food allergy friendly foods on your school’s menu or if want to see more of them in your school you need to do something. What? That’s easy. Tell them. Let your school know that your child has specific food allergies. If the nutritional department doesn’t know how many children need these types of foods they won’t know that they need to get it on the menu. Many people have concerns about peanut allergies. I tasted Albie’s EZ Jammers, which like an Uncrustable but made with whole grain bread and WOW butter, which is a soy butter that tastes just like peanut butter but isn’t made with nuts. it tasted just like peanut butter, seriously.

Speaking of food allergies. Some of you may have heard of a product called Butter Buds, it’s a butter flavored product you sprinkle on foods like potatoes. I spent a bit of time with some of the folks from Butter Buds and they were just some of the nicest people. We talked a lot. Their Alfredo Buds make an amazing sauce, and their Cheddar Buds make a cheese sauce that macaroni would be happy to have on it. Many of their cafeteria foodservice products are all natural and gluten-free, and contain no transfats. Cafeterias using products like this instead of margarine for cooking are making a sound choice.

I was truly surprised by everything that I learned while at the School Nutrition Association’s 2014 National Conference in Boston. I’ll have a little more to share with you in another post, so be sure to check back.

Did you learn anything new or unexpected about school lunches from this post? Do you have any other questions about school lunches?


The School Nutrition Association is a national, nonprofit professional organization representing more than 55,000 members who provide high-quality, low-cost meals to students across the country.

School Nutrition Association websiteSchool Nutrition Association on FacebookSchool Nutrition Association on Twitter

Tray Talk for Parents!

The post Things You Wanted To Know About School Lunch But Didn’t Ask appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Lifestyle, Boston, MA, Massachusetts, Sc..."
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Date: Sunday, 03 Aug 2014 20:34

I received a massage free of cost to me in order to facilitate this post. This post has not been monetarily compensated and is based on the views and opinions of my family and/or self. Please note that the opinions reflected in this post have not been influenced by the sponsor in any way.

Massage Envy Spa

I’ve only ever had one massage, a couple of years ago. A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of having my second massage ever, at the Brick location of the Massage Envy Spa.

For those unfamiliar, Massage Envy Spa is the national leader of affordable massage and spa services. Opening nearly a decade ago, Massage Envy Spa was launched in the wellness industry market to promote a healthy lifestyle through affordable massage and spa services. Today, there are  more than 980 Massage Envy Spas located in 49 states.

After checking in I was escorted over to a seating area. Beverages such as water and hot tea are available to clients. As a new client I was asked to fill out a form intended to give them an idea of my health and what type of massage might benefit me the most. Yes that’s right, there are different types of massage. Quite a number of them actually, including Swedish, deep tissue, sports, cranial sacral, geriatric, prenatal, reflexology and trigger point therapy. I really wasn’t sure what to answer. I was asked to describe any issues, concerns or problems in order to help find the best answer. I explained that most of my stress lives in my neck and shoulders. It builds up there and gets really uncomfortable. I’ve generally been able to do neck rolls and it would help a little, but for the past month even they weren’t helping at all.

Massage Envy Spa

After completing the form I was introduced to Casey, my massage therapist, who took back to one of the private massage rooms. The room was dimly lit but it was easy to see that it was clean, and consisted mainly of the massage table, as well as a corner for changing and another area where the therapist kept all of her things.

Casey was very friendly and professional. She asked me a few clarifying questions about my form, which actually made me feel good. I don’t know about you but I’ve been to many doctor’s offices where I filled out a form with a bunch of questions only to find that noone read it. She read it and wanted to be sure she understood it.

You could tell that Casey was an experienced massage therapist by the confidence she had and how comfortable I felt. She was intuitive on the type of massage and where to concentrate her efforts. The hour long massage was a very peaceful and sensory experience. The room remains dimly lit, with soft music playing. Different levels of pressure were used, along with hot towels and even a cooling breeze from a fan.

I really enjoyed my massage experience at Massage Envy and am hoping to return in the future. I can’t recommend getting a massage enough. It was totally relaxing and so needed! There was a noticeable decrease in tension and pressure in my neck and shoulders after the massage. As far as my massage therapist Casey, she was fantastic, and I’d recommend her to anyone. After my massage she gave me a detailed cars with her name and hours, as well as her recommendations for future massage services.

Massage Envy offers a variety of services. If you know you’ll be wanting to get a massage often consider getting a Massage Envy membership. A membership is paid for by a monthly fee. There are a number of benefits to having a membership, the biggest one being a savings on massage pricing. If you are shopping for someone else and aren’t sure what they might like, Massage Envy offers gift cards that can be redeemed for massage therapy sessions, Murad facials and customizable spa enhancements.

If you’ve never had a massage, this video is really helpful. It is exactly how my first session at Massage Envy of Brick went, down to the letter.

Have you ever had a massage?


Massage Envy websiteMassage Envy on FacebookMassage Envy on Twitter

Massage Envy Spa of Brick NJ webiteMassage Envy Spa of Brick on FacebookMassage Envy Spa of Brick on Twitter

The post REVIEW – Massage Envy Spa, Brick, NJ appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Reviews, beauty, massage, Massage Envy, ..."
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Date: Saturday, 02 Aug 2014 16:53

Screen It Sunday

I’m frequently sent information on upcoming entertainment news. I’ll be compiling and sharing the best and most interesting news with you here each week.

Marvel Stay After the Credits

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy

In case you are looking for a fun family activity over the weekend, Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is now in theatres.

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.

James Gunn is the director of the film with Kevin Feige, p.g.a., producing. Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Nik Korda and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman.

Peter Quill Guardians Of The Galaxy

Meet the Guardians of the Galaxy Featurette: Peter Quill

Like GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on Facebook: www.facebook.com/guardiansofthegalaxy

Follow GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Guardians

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is now playing in theatres everywhere!

Into The Woods

INTO THE WOODS Teaser Trailer Released

“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them. Rob Marshall, the acclaimed filmmaker behind the Academy Award®-winning musical “Chicago” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” directs the film, which is based on the Tony®-winning original musical by James Lapine, who also penned the screenplay, and legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, who provides the music and lyrics. Produced by Marshall, John DeLuca, “Wicked” producer Marc Platt and Callum McDougall, “Into the Woods” will be released in theaters Dec. 25, 2014.

Like INTO THE WOODS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyIntoTheWoods

INTO THE WOODS opens in theaters everywhere on December 25th!

The post Screen It Sunday Entertainment News appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Announcements, Into The Woods, Marvel's ..."
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Date: Saturday, 02 Aug 2014 03:34

I received a gift card to facilitate back to school shopping at Kohl’s. Please note that, as always, any personal opinions reflected in this post are my own and have not been influenced by the sponsor or compensation received in any way.


I set out this week to try and finish up back to school shopping for my two boys. As I have for years, I planned on getting most of the clothes at Kohl’s. I buy a lot of their clothes there, because they have good looking, quality clothing and good sales. Since I was running errands, I stopped into the Kohl’s one town over, which is set up a little differently then the store in my town. I knew that Kohl’s was carrying back to school supplies this year. But had I not known, I would have been aware as soon as I walked in the door as there were back to school and #findyouryes signs everywhere.


Not only do they carry backpacks, they now carry school supplies as well, as part of a partnership with Office Depot!

One stop back-to-school shopping? Yes please!

Kohl's back to school shopping

There were sales signs everywhere in the store.


On my last trip to Kohl’s I got most of the clothes I needed for fall for my youngest son, along with supplies I knew we needed. This most recent trip was all about my oldest son, the man child.

If you’ve never shopped for an 18 year old boy let me assure you, it can be challenging. If you have the model of young man that truly likes clothes shopping, congrats. I do not have that model. I have the model that hates to go clothes shopping and hates trying on clothes even more. I will say I am fortunate in that my son doesn’t demand super expensive brands. He just likes clothes that have a certain look. He’s very tall and pretty fit. Fortunately I am able to find a lot of things for him at Kohl’s.

He loves skulls. I found several different neat looking shirts with skulls. On sale.

Kohls Kohls

He really needed jeans. Now if I weren’t shopping at Kohl’s this might be a problem.


Kohl’s has a huge variety of brands and styles and sizes. Last school year he was wearing a 30×32 “slimbo” style, which are basically those really skinny jeans that are snug all the way down to the ankle. I noticed recently they were loose on him at the waist. I asked him to go shopping for clothes with me and he didn’t want to. He asked me to please get him the pants a little larger. Knowing the ones he already had were loose enough for skinny jeans I interpreted his request as one for jeans that weren’t the “slimbo” style. Meaning he was looking for jeans that weren’t snug, he was looking for something with closer to a regular “classic” fit. I found a bunch of brands of men’s jeans on sale. I grabbed the same size he’s been wearing, but got different styles. Regular fit, relaxed fit, relaxed slim fit and slim fit. I told him to try them all on and any he wasn’t thrilled with the fit of I’d take back and exchange for one of the other styles he did like the fit of. Because Kohl’s will let you return things if you really need to, and without putting you through a grand inquisition like some stores!


I $89 on this particular trip. I got five pair of jeans and four t-shirts. I saved over $100 by shopping the sales. I used Kohl’s cash I had from my last trip to make the savings even greater. Oh did I mention that I got $20 in Kohl’s cash back for this trip? Yes I sure did! And that I’m going to spend on me!

How many stores do you usually have to go to in order to get all of your back to school shopping done?


Kohl’s website

Kohl’s on Facebook

Kohl’s on Twitter

Kohl’s on Pinterest

Kohl’s on Instagram


One (1) winner will receive a $100 Kohl’s GC.


Enter using the Giveaway Tools widget below. The winner will be selected by the Giveaway Tools widget. If you’ve entered any of my giveaways before then you know that you must complete the mandatory required entry, and that only comments containing all of the requested information will be eligible for entry. US addresses only please, no PO Boxes. Good luck to everyone!

The post Finishing Back To School Shopping In One Stop At Kohls – With $100 GC Giveaway appeared first on Mom Knows It All..

Author: "valmg" Tags: "Current Giveaways, Giveaways, Kohl's"
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