Tips for surviving Back to School season from Balance Bar


Girl drawing back to school

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… 

I don’t mean Christmas (although that is a wonderful time). I’m referring to back to school time.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids and I enjoy doing things with them over the summer. But there comes a time when parents are ready for the kids to go back to school and return to regular schedules. For example, my kids are up to 2:00 or later, then they sleep until noon (you’ve got to love teenagers). By the time I get home from work they are just getting up or too tired and grumpy to want to do anything.

A lot of my daughter’s friends work (she’s been looking for a job with no luck). That means there is no one around to hang out with so she’s been very bored this summer. We also haven’t been able to do as much as we wanted to due to financial reason (lack of $$$).

Surviving back to school time is a whole other story. Getting the kids up, ready and out the door, keeping on them to study and do homework, making sure they pack a nutritous lunch… it can get crazy!

Parenting expert and mom blogger Jenny Ingram from Jenny on the Spot has some great tips for surviving the Back to School season.

Balance Back to School Survival Kit

Keep Smart Snacks within Reach. Back to school isn’t only exhausting for kids. Moms and dads get worn down too so smart snacking is important. Pack a supply of nutritious snacks to have in your purse for when you’re running errands or going from school to practice. ItzyRitzy’s reusable snack bags are perfect for keeping your on-the-go snacks organized and always handy. Fill them with grapes, almonds, carrot sticks and Balance bare bars for a healthy snack sure to satisfy both busy moms and kids until dinner!

The (digital) calendar is key. To make sure no one misses an activity, homework deadline or playdate, color code each kid in your calendar so you know exactly who is doing what and where and when. I love the Cozi app – it’s free and great for organizing your upcoming activities and goes everywhere you do since it’s on your phone.

Pack bags within your bag. If you’re like me, you have a huge bag. It’s great for storing lots of things, but it can be a wasteland and hard to find anything if you’re not organized. I keep a mini bag that holds my chapstick, hand sanitizer and other items I regularly reach for in a brightly colored small bag that stands out. An Itzy Ritzy snack bag can even double as an organizational bag that’s stylish too!

Miniature First Aid Kits. It’s helpful to have some first-aid basics in your bag for everyday incidents that are bound to happen. My homemade first aid kit includes Band-aids, Neosporin, Kleenex and wipes. Trust me on the wipes – they’re much more effective than napkins at cleaning up whatever messes my kids have.

Be prepared for homework. With after-school activities, keep homework supplies in your car and bag so your children can do their work while you’re waiting for soccer practice. Keep rulers, pencils, pencil sharpeners, scissors, calculators and a clip board in the car to make sure you’re prepped for any homework assignments.

Label everything. With 3 kids, and all the supplies and gear that come with them, I’ve learned to love labels. Before schools starts, I put Mabels Labels on their lunchboxes, backpacks, jackets, shoes, sporting equipment and anything else I can get my hands on. You’ll never have to hear “she’s wearing my sneakers” again and also helps avoid lost items in the school coat closet.

Pack healthy school lunches efficiently.  Trying to accommodate everyone’s lunch needs is hard. Make their sandwiches and then let them choose 3 snacks for themselves. In your pantry, have mom-approved snacks (like Mixed Berry Balance bar bars) in three drawers and every kid is allowed to choose 1 item from each drawer to add to their lunch.

Transitioning summer bedtimes. Yes, I’m probably guilty of letting the kids stay up a little too late during the summer. But that’s what summers are for! However, those late nights are not going to work once school starts, so I like to gradually transition their sleep schedules. 4-5 days before school starts, I’ll move their bedtimes up 10-30 minutes. It’s a slow process but really helps to ensure they’re rested and ready for the first day.

These are some great tips!

Check out this infographic too.


Getting my kids back on their bedtime routine is really hard. They are teenagers in high school and feel like they shouldn’t have a bedtime. As parents we disagree. They need ample sleep to do well in school. Not only that they are beasts when you try and wake them up when they are tired. Plus when they are super tired they tend to not hear the alarm clocks and then they end up missing the bus and we have to drive them into school late.

We normally have them start cutting back about 10-14 days before the first day of school so that we can get them to go to bed by around 10 PM which we feel is a decent time (although I would rather it be 9-9:30).

I already try and keep school lunch foods and supplies with an easy access (after school snacks too). My kids are old enough to make their own lunches but as a mom I want to make sure they have plenty of healthy options to choose from.

Speaking of school lunches and snacks, have you tried then new Bare Balance Bars? They are YUMMY!!!!

I received a few samples to review. They are delish!

Bare Balance Bars are currently available in three flavors – Mixed Berry Nut, Sea Salt Caramel Nut and Sweet & Spicy Nut. All three flavors are Non-GMO, gluten free, soy free and dairy free. 

Bare Balance Bar

To be honest it’s hard to pick a favorite from the three flavors. The Sweet & Spicy Nut and Sea Salt Caramel Nut are both vying for top position. Don’t get me wrong, the Mixed Berry is yummy too.

My family has always loved Balance Bars. The Bare Balance Bars are not coated in chocolate like regular Balance Bars. That is why they are called “Bare”. All you see are the nuts, fruits and other natural ingredients.

Look for Bare Balance Bars where ever Balance Bars are sold. You can also purchase them online on the Balance Bar shop website. There is also a store locator on the site too.

Visit www.BalanceBars.com for more information. You can also find the brand on the various social media sites.

Jenny Ingram and Balance Bar are hosting a Twitter chat tomorrow (August 19th) at 2:00 PM (EST). Those who attend are invited to ask Jenny for her tips and tricks for staying organized during the busy back to school season.

Join Balance Bar (@BalanceBar) and Jenny (@jennyonthespot) and a few others for the hour long Twitter party.

The official hashtag is #BalanceisintheBag. Those who attend the Twitter party and use the hashtag will be eligible to win prizes from Balance Bar and Itzy Ritzy products.

Balance Bar is also hosting a fun Pin 2 Win contest on their Pinterest page. From August 19th (today!) to September 12th fans can pin or repin images of how they keep balanced in the bag with all of their back to school must haves. I hope you’ll enter and join in on the fun.



*I received free product samples in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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A new PBS Kids DVD release – Arthur Goes Back to School


Arthur Goes to School

Do you have a child or grandchild who is heading back to school in the next few weeks? My kids have about three weeks of summer vacation left. Where has the time gone? It seems like just yesterday they were finishing up their final exams.

Going back to school can be a stressful time no matter how old you are or what grade you are in. Even elementary school aged children can have some concerns about the new school year. Will they like their teacher? Will they make friends? Will they get a lot of homework? I think all children feel that way when they go back to school.

Arthur has always been a favorite character in our home. My daughter watched his series on television when she was younger and she passed along her love for Arthur to my son. Some where we even have a cute Arthur doll (I wish I knew where he was).

As a parent I have always enjoyed Arthur as well. I would watch the show with my children and read them Arthur books. I feel that Arthur is just pure, clean, wonderful entertainment for children. The characters are so enjoyable and the stories are wonderful.

Just released on DVD from PBS Kids in a new collection of Arthur episodes that focus on school. This is perfect for little ones who are anxious about going back to school – or even starting school. It’s called Arthur Goes to School.

Arthur Goes to School features four full length Arthur episodes and run for just under an hour.

The DVD also includes fun printable coloring pages and activities that you and your child/grandchild can enjoy together.

The episodes featured on this DVD include;

To Eat or Not to Eat

A brand new candy bar is in town! But why is it making everyone act so strangely?  And what exactly is this ingredient called Tri-Enzomated Zorn Jelly, anyway? Buster decides to do a little digging into these mystery chemicals before he takes his first bite but he – and all the other kids – may not find the truth appetizing.


It’s time for the kids at Lakewood Elementary to take the Stoddard-Wilkins Elementary Aptitude Test, or “S.W.E.A.T.” But with anxiety running high, it becomes clear that the kids need to learn some relaxation techniques. Luckily, Mrs. MacGrady is on hand to teach them a thing or two about de-stressing.

Baseball Blues

It’s Grebelings season and George can’t wait to play! After all, no one knows more about baseball than George. But when he realizes knowledge of sinkers doesn’t guarantee success in the field, will he throw in the towel?

Brain’s Biggest Blunder

When Brain gets teamed with Buster and Binky in the annual Arithmattack competition, he immediately enrolls Buster in binomial boot camp. Can Brain transform Buster into a mathematic marvel? Or will he be forced to eat humble pi?”

I sat and watched this DVD and my daughter happened to notice it was on and sat and watched it with me. She went on and on about how she loved to watch Arthur when she was younger.

This DVD is perfect for back to school time and I think it would make a great gift for a young student who might have some worries about the new school year. It shows how Arthur and his friends deal with school related issues. I especially enjoyed S.W.E.A.T because I think all children (and teens!) need to find ways to help them de-stress, especially when it comes to tests and speaking in front of the class.

Make sure to enjoy the printables after you’ve watched the DVD. :-)

Look for PBS Kids Arthur Goes to School where DVDs are sold.

For more information about PBS Kids visit PBSKids.org. You can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.



*I received a free screener copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Going back to school with KIND snacks


Girl drawing back to school

As much as my kids try to deny it the first day of school is rapidly approaching. It’s almost time to trade in bathing suits and camping with loaded backpacks and chapter tests. Sigh… It seems like summer just began and here we are nearing the end.

I’m already thinking about how things are going to be when my kids go back to school. My daughter is a senior and taking college courses at the high school this year. She also goes in late and leaves early. Meanwhile my son is a sophomore this year. He has a full schedule and has to catch the bus at 6:45 AM and he gets home after 2:30 PM. That means I have to put him on the bus, come home, drive my daughter to school, go to work, leave work, pick my daughter up from school then get back to the bus stop to pick up my son. Yikes! That is going to be crazy!

I’m always thinking about lunch for my kids this year. Last year my son had an early lunch period so he never ate at school (he simply wasn’t hungry). By the time he got home from school he was famished and eating everything he could find.

This year his lunch is still early, but not as bad. To prevent him from eating us out of house and home when he gets home I want him to pack a snack or a light lunch (if he doesn’t feel like he wants a full lunch). I don’t care if it’s some cheese & crackers, a piece of fruit and/or another healthy snack.

Here are some great things to consider as you’re planning for your children to go back to school.

Breakfast Checklist: If your kids are in too much of a rush for breakfast, their school performance could suffer. This study found that kids who eat breakfast miss less school, average higher math scores, and 20% are even more likely to graduate! Easy, quick and nutritionally dense options are best to ensure they can at least grab breakfast as they run out the door in the morning. Make sure you check off protein, fiber, and healthy fats for this meal for energy and brain power. 

Pack a Snack: Packing healthy options is the best way to help your kids avoid all the unhealthy choices lurking around their school. Between vending machines, bake sales, candy fund raisers and the snacks in the lunch line, who knows what they’re eating throughout the day! If they keep some healthy snacks in their locker or school bag, they’re less likely to fall prey to all these temptations, and they’ll be getting the brain food they really need.

Lunch Punch: Did you know that in school lunch lines, pizza and french fries are considered vegetables? It might be the safest option to pack a school lunch to ensure your kids are getting the real vegetables they need, as well as fruits, proteins and whole grains. Make it interesting with some bold flavors to ensure they actually eat what you pack!

Parent’s Lunch Crunch: Don’t forget mom or dad! During back to school it can be all too easy for parents to forget about taking care of themselves when they’re taking care of their kids. When you’re in a time crunch, make sure you too have easily accessible, healthy foods to snack on and reach for when it’s lunch time. Maybe pack your own lunch at the same time you pack for your kids so you can ensure a healthy meal is ready when you are!

The “Lunch Punch” tip made me laugh (but not because it’s funny). In our school district they consider nachos smothered in greasy cheese and mozerella sticks as LUNCH menu options. Seriously? Since when have appetizers turned into “healthy” lunch options. It’s no wonder my kids won’t buy lunch at school. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t either.

I work for a few hours in the morning (9:00 AM – 12:30 PM). Around 11:00 AM I start looking for something to snack on. I try and bring in something healthy. Lately I have been enjoying KIND bars. Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond is my new favorite. I LOVE! LOVE! LOVE that flavor. It combines a sweet chocolate and rich dark roast coffee with the crunch of nutty almonds. Mere words cannot describe just how delicious the KIND Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond bar is. Caramel Almond Sea Salt is also delicious.



I knew KIND made bars, but I didn’t know that they also offered Healthy Grains Clusters which are bits of granola and other healthy goodies that you can enjoy “as is” or put on top of yogurt, oatmeal, cereal or even ice cream.

I tried the Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds. I enjoyed it “as is” straight from the bag. I also enjoyed it on some Greek yogurt. Mmm.. it’s so good!

The Healthy Grains Bars are great too. In fact I had one this morning at work but I accidentally knocked it when I removed it from the wrapper and it broke apart and fell into the garbage. I probably couldn’t do that again if I tried. At least it landed in the garbage and not all over the floor. LOL.

Vanilla Blueberry is very good. I can’t wait to try another flavor – Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

If you want to keep your children from snacking on “not-so-good-for-you” snacks be sure to stock up on plenty of “better-f0r-you” options like KIND products. They are great to keep at your desk at work to keep you from hitting the vending machine.

What I like about KIND products is that they are all delicious (I never met a KIND product I didn’t like). Aside from being flavorful I also find them satisfying. They are like a mini-meal as far as taking the edge off when you are hungry.

All KIND Healthy Snacks are made from all-natural whole nuts, fruits and whole grains. No secret ingredients and absolutely nothing artificial here. Just a delicious way of getting your body essential nutrients like fiber, protein and antioxidants (to name a few).

KIND products are sold by many retailers around the country. You can also purchase KIND products online.

To learn more visit www.KINDSnacks.com. You can also find the brand on the various social media sites.

Have you tried KIND products before? Do you have a favorite?

Do you have any healthy back to school tips you’d like to share?



*I received free product samples. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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It’s Back to School Time!


Girl drawing back to school

It’s back to school time and you know what that means – back to school shopping.

There was a time where my kids were excited to go back to school shopping. The older they got the more they dreaded the experience. This year my daughter is excited to go back to school shopping because she’s a senior in high school this year and it’s her official last “back to school” shopping time. This time next year it will be heading off to college shopping. Sigh…

I remember when I was a child back when the dinosaurs roamed freely (ha ha). I used to get so excited to go back to school shopping. I loved having new supplies. Back then we would have to cove cover our books with brown paper bags. I used to love to write the subject nearly on the cover. After a few weeks the book covers were covered in stickers, doodles and notes to and from my friends.

Crayola logo

I loved having brand new, freshly sharpened, pencils and a brand new box of Crayola crayons. A brand new box of Crayola crayons was my favorite back to school supply because I loved to cover and doodle (art was always my best subject in school). I love the smell of a new box of crayons and I love seeing all the crayons with the perfectly pointed tips.

It’s not back to school shopping time without Crayola! :-)!

When I was young all Crayola offered was crayons. These days Crayola carries a lot of supplies idea for back to school shopping (and beyond).

Crayola is always adding new products to their ever expanding product line.

Many Crayola products are considered standard school supplies.

Here are some products to put down on your shopping list.

12 ct Ultra-Clean Markers FL

  • Crayola Ultra-Clean Washable Markers. These are brand new for 2014. They feature all-new washability technology that allows these markers to wash out of skin, clothing and now from painted walls! Ultra-Clean will allow teachers to wash off common classroom desks with ease.
  • Crayola Visi-Max Dry Erase Markers are designed to help maximize classroom visibility. New for Spring 2014, Visi-Max Dry Erase Markers have improved color vibrancy, making them easier to read.

And who can forget about those other back-to-school necessities?

We ALWAYS pick up a new box (or two) of Crayola crayons. I always have a box of 64 crayons (with built in sharpener) in my home (my husband and I love to color – we find it relaxing) as well as smaller boxes for my kids to use just for fun or with their classroom assignments.

Washable markers are a must have – especially with young children. I used to hate letting my kids use markers when they were younger because they would get all over the place and were next to impossible to wash off. As a parent I can appreciate the value of washable markers.

I work in a child care situation, tending to children involved in court cases (neglect, custody, adoption, divorce…). A lot of children like to color with markers. After a stressful day in court no one wants to pick up their child covered in markers. With Crayola’s washable markers we can let the kids color to their heart’s content and not have to worry about them making a mess.

Crayola Visi-Max Dry Erase Markers

The washable watercolor paints are also wonderful to have. We have regular paints for the kids to use but they make a huge mess and I dread cleaning it up. The washable watercolor paints are fun to use and a snap to clean up. They work really well too. You should see some of the lovely things that have been painted with the washable watercolor paints (I am unable to take photos of the kids at work).

We use a dry erase board at work to make notes on the calendar. I also use a dry erase board at home to make notes for my family. I am loving the new Visi-Max Dray Erase Markers. The colors are fabulous and the chiseled tip helps you to get thin lines. These are ideal not only for students and at home use they are also great for teachers and places of business.

Check out these and other Crayola products at retail stores, grocery stores and drug stores across the country. Many places have excellent back to school sales too.

For more information about Crayola products visit www.Crayola.com. You can also check out the brand on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (social media links found at the bottom of the brand’s home page).

Do you have a favorite Crayola product?



*I received free product samples in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Chu’s First Day of School by Neil Gaiman


Chu's First Day of School jacket

It’s hard to believe that for some children summer vacation is almost over. Across the country some children will be heading off to school in just a matter of a couple of weeks.

Some children will be starting school for the very first time. I can’t remember my first day of school, but I do remember the excitement, anticipation, trepidation and nervousness my kids felt for their first day of school. There are so many “unknowns” to take into consideration – Will the other kids like me? Will I have a nice teacher? Where will I sit in class? Will I make any friends? These are just a few concerns that go through someone’s minds when they go to school for the very first time. This could also apply to students attending a new school.

There is a book by famed author Neil Gaiman that addresses the concerns of the first day of school. It features a familiar Neil Gaiman character name Chu. Chu is the little Panda with the big sneeze from the adorable board book called Chu’s Day.

Chu's Day jacket

In Chu’ First Day of School Chu is nervous about his first day of school. He likes his teacher and the other students in his class seem nice, but what will the think of him if he sneezes in class? Chu’s sneezes are a bit explosive which was made known in the book Chu’s Day. In Chu’s Day his sneeze toppled and entire circus.

In Chu’s First Day of School the book leads up to the potential of a massive Chu sneeze. Chu certainly doesn’t want to let one go, however when it comes to sneezes sometimes you can’t hold on to them and you just have to let them go.

Will Chu sneeze in school? If he does, what will his classmates think of him? To find out you need to pick up a copy of Chu’s First Day of School available where most books are sold including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I thought it was a really cute book. I actually read both books – Chu’s Day and Chu’s First Day of School. They were both cute stories and I loved the illustrations. The books are illustrated by Adam Rex. I love all the creatures featured in the book.

For more information please visit Neil Gaiman’s official website, www.NeilGainman.com.

Check out this cute video created for Chu’s First Day of School.



*I received a free copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Join Auntie Anne’s & Alex’s Lemonade Stand to help fight childhood cancer


Childhood Cancer

Cancer is an ugly word. Unless it’s your zodiac sign no one ever wants to utter that word. Cancer is cruel. It has no limits and knows no boundaries. It doesn’t care if you are young or old, black or white, Italian or Irish, rich or poor. Cancer can strike anyone, anywhere at anytime.

Cancer has touched my life over the years. My grandfather had breast cancer, my great-grandmother died from ovarian cancer, my mother-in-law died from pancreatic cancer, my brother-in-law had cancer and a family friend died from brain cancer at the young age of 11. I recently went back to work and learned the site’s director had a cancerous tumor on her ovary. She’s only 24. They removed it and thankfully she’s doing OK.

Cancer is difficult for anyone to deal with. I think it’s even harder when it strikes children. They have their whole lives ahead of them. No one wants to watch a precious, innocent child deal with this sometimes fatal disease. It breaks my heart when I hear about a young warrior who is battling this cruel disease.


One such Mini but Mighty Hero is Victoria. Victoria lives in Houston, Texas. Victor’s battle began when she was only six months old. Now four years old, she’s happily in remission. Her mom proudly writes, “Victoria is my hero because she has been through so much more than I could imagine going through myself. She has always been a positive and happy person.”

It’s wonderful to hear that through it all Victoria has remained hopeful and happy. That is very important not only for the child but also their families.

I hope and pray that Victoria’s cancer forever remains in remission and she goes on to have a long, happy and healthy life that she deserves.

Victoria is just one of many Mini but Mighty Heroes.


Auntie Anne’s and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation have joined forces to help raise awareness and funds to fight childhood cancer.

Auntie Anne’s makes those delicious pretzels you often see sold at the mall. Their Sweet Almond is my favorite. My family and I often enjoy an Auntie Anne’s pretzel or another one of their yummy snacks when we go to the mall.

The Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation has been helping to fight childhood cancer for many years. It was started by a four year old cancer patient named Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996 – 2004). She told her family that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to help raise money to find a cure for all children who had cancer. Her selfless act of kindness and good will towards others helped shaped her simple idea of a lemonade stand into the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

Thousands of volunteers across the country carry on her legacy of hope. To date the foundation has raised over $75 million dollars and helped fund 375 research projects nationwide. Alex would be very pleased. If only she lived long enough to see her idea bloom and grow like it has.

Please check out this brief video to see how Auntie Anne’s and the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation have partnered to help find a cure.


There is something YOU can do to help. From July 28, 2014 – September 15, 2014 you can donate to the Join the Mighty Fight Campaign.

Here is a little more information about the campaign.

This summer, our goal is to find cures for children who are in the mighty fight of their life against cancer. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of these mini fighters. How can you help? By donating, you’re helping Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation fund potentially life-saving cancer. Here is what your donation could fund:

  • $5: Supports Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation one cup at a time.
  • $15: Provides a gas card to help a family drive to a hospital for treatment
  • $25: Funds a half hour of childhood cancer research
  • $50: Funds one hour of childhood cancer research
  • $100: Enables a family to reside at a nearby hotel so they can stay close to their child receiving treatment
  • $400: Funds one day of childhood cancer research

If we reach our goal of $35,000, we will help fund 700 hours of childhood cancer research! In appreciation of your donation, Auntie Anne’s will send all donors a $1 off coupon, valid at participating U.S. stores, within 7-10 days.

We also believe a small donation goes a mighty long way. For every share of the Mighty Fight, Auntie Anne’s, Inc. will donate $0.25 (the cost of a cup of lemonade!) towards childhood cancer research.

I hope you will consider joining the fight and help the campaign reach it’s goal. Every little bit helps. Even if you can only donate $1.00 it will help.

Perhaps the next time you are waiting on line to get your morning mocha latte you might consider giving it up for just one morning and donate that $5 to help find a cure for childhood cancer.

For more information or to make a donation visit the Join the Mighty Fight campaign page.

Has cancer touched your life? Do you know a Mini but Mighty Hero?

The Mighty Fight campaign


*I was not compensated for this post. I am posting this to support this charitable campaign. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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