Category: Giveaways

Back to School, Plus a Chance to Win a $1,000 College Scholarship from Groza Learning Center!

Many children across the U.S. are getting ready to head back to school. But here in Northern Virginia, public school doesn’t start again for another four weeks.

Still, the summer has seemed to fly by for us. For one thing, it’s a week shorter this year: Our district shifted the school calendar so that school will end a week a week earlier in June and start a week earlier (the week before Labor Day). But because the 2016-17 school year still followed last year’s calendar, our kids still got out at the same time. That means this summer break is only 9 1/2 weeks for us, instead of 10 1/2.

Then, Matt had a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy only three days after school ended. Due to a complication, the recovery took two weeks. Add to that a 10-day trip to New York and lots of pool time, movies, ice cream, and other fun in between, and more than half of summer break sailed by.

In some ways, the thought of the kids starting school again makes me sad. I’ve been loving our more relaxed schedule: staying up too late to roast s’mores and play catch, sleeping in, lounging around in our pajamas all morning instead of rushing out to catch the school bus.

Ice cream cones
Nothing says “summer” like ice cream before dinner!

But at the same time, I know that in four weeks we’ll all be ready to get back to our regular routine. Our bodies will crave a more consistent sleep schedule and healthier meals instead of frozen yogurt for lunch. Our brains will need to be challenged again (I’ve cut back on work for the summer). The kids will be excited to see all of their school friends again.

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Summer has us sleepy like…

Still, the first few weeks of school will be an adjustment. Lily will start preschool a week after the boys go back and will only go to school 12 hours a week, so I know she’ll be asking for her brothers at first. And when all three are at school, I’m pretty sure it will be a bit unnerving! Yesterday, Lily told Keith, “Daddy, soon my brothers will go on the school bus and Mommy will drive me to school and then she will be ALL ALONE!” Keith replied, “Yeah, and then Mommy will have a party!” If you call writing stories, working out, and showering without interruptions a party, then he’s right!

But as big of an adjustment as I and all of my fellow parents will have once school starts, it can’t compare to the big changes parents with kids heading off to college will go through! I’m sure they’ll be feeling a mixture of excitement, sadness, nostalgia, and pride as they drop their kids off at their new schools. And with the average cost of tuition and fees being $33,480 at private colleges (according to the College Board), many of them will also be feeling some sticker shock.

Groza Learning Center in Pacific Palisades, CA—which specializes in tutoring, test prep, reading, and homeschooling—understands the high costs of college tuition. So, the center wants to help students reach their goal of attending college or university by offering a $1,000 scholarship to 2017 high school graduates or currently enrolled college or university students. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2017. Click here for more information about the scholarship and to apply. Good luck!

I wish all of the students heading back to school—and all of their parents—a healthy and happy school year! In the meantime, we’ll be enjoying the rest of our summer at the beach, the pool, a theme park, and baseball games!

Disclosure: This a sponsored post on behalf of Groza Learning Center. 

A Chemical-Free Baby Wipe … Plus, Win a $100 Walgreens Gift Card!

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. 

Baby wipes are a necessity when you’ve got little ones in diapers. Unfortunately, many of the baby wipes on the market contain chemicals that can irritate babies’ sensitive skin. So the very thing that keeps babies clean can also cause awful diaper rashes. It’s just one of those unavoidable aspects of parenting, right?

Not necessarily. I recently discovered WaterWipes, the only baby wipe in the world that contains no chemicals. In fact, WaterWipes contain only two ingredients—99.9% pure Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract, a natural skin conditioner. That means WaterWipes are gentle on baby’s skin and help prevent diaper rash and other skin conditions. The National Eczema Association has even awarded WaterWipes the Seal of Acceptance.

When I first read these facts, I figured WaterWipes must be flimsy like other sensitive baby wipes I have tried. I was thrilled to find that that’s not the case at all. WaterWipes are actually quite durable! They also work very well, meaning I don’t need to use 10 of them to get Lily clean. And, they’re not inter folded in the package, a feature that’s supposed to help make them more sterile.

Sounds like a product that could only be available in health stores, right? Actually, they are fully stocked at many major stores, including Walgreens. That’s where we got our WaterWipes. They were very easy to find, smack in the middle of the top shelf of the baby aisle.

WaterWipes

WaterWipes

Even Lily was excited to buy them!

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We have been using WaterWipes for a few weeks now and have had a great experience with them. Though Lily has never had very sensitive skin, I still feel good knowing I am using such pure and natural wipes on her. I may not be able to protect her from everything, but why wouldn’t I avoid using harmful chemicals on her as much as I can?

Lily seems to love them, too. Have you ever seen a baby so happy to have her diaper changed?

Baby with WaterWipes

Click here to learn more about WaterWipes and get a coupon for $1.00 off.

Want to buy your own WaterWipes? Influence Central is giving away five (5) Walgreens gift cards. That’s enough to purchase WaterWipes and other necessities for your little one! Just click below by October 7, 2016 to enter:

WaterWipes Walgreens Giveaway

I-C will randomly select winners from all program entries and will facilitate fulfillment of the winning prizes (5 winners). Good luck!

Giveaway: Win A VersaVia Kid-Proof Car Seat Cover

If you have kids, there’s a good chance your car’s backseat is covered with goldfish, spilled milk, muddy footprints, and more disgusting messes. And chances are, the seat protector underneath your child’s car seat does little to contain the mess. Trust me, I know—before Lily came along, the space between the boys’ car seats was gross.

What I really could have used at that time was a VersaVia Kid-Proof Car Seat Cover. Unlike most seat covers meant to go under car seats, the VersaVia covers the entire backseat. This thing is no joke! At 54 inches wide and with adjustable straps, it fits securely in most cars, small trucks, and SUVs. It’s made from a heavy-duty waterproof material (polyester and nylon) to protect seats from even the biggest messes. And it comes in grey, tan, or black, so it matches most car interiors.

We received a grey VersaVia car seat cover to test out ourselves. Unfortunately, the cover does not have openings for middle seat belts, so we couldn’t use it in our SUV because we have all three car seats across the backseat. We do, however, have spare car seats for the boys in Keith’s Acura (sometimes one, sometimes both), so we put the VersaVia in there. And we love it!

IMG_9860The VersaVia seat cover blends in nicely with the car and does not look out of place at all. It was quick and easy to install. Because it has a non-slip backing and seat anchors, it does not slide around, and the car seats still have a tight fit. It has openings for both seat belts and latches, but we found it fit more securely with the latch system, so that’s what we used. And so far, after two months of use, it looks as good as new. It also has a lifetime warranty!

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I highly recommend the VersaVia Kid-Proof Car Seat Cover for anyone with one or two car seats in their backseat. You can purchase it on Amazon—it’s currently priced at $79.90—or you can win one by entering my giveaway!

To enter, just leave a comment below by midnight on Sunday, December 6, letting me know your choice of color—grey, tan, or black. I will choose a winner at random on December 7 and the company will send your prize directly to you. Good luck, and thank you for entering!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary VersaVia Kid-Proof Car Seat Cover to facilitate this review and giveaway. All opinions are my own!

GIVEAWAY: Win A Copy of “The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish”

If you’re a parent, then you probably know who the grumpiest fish ever is—the Pout-Pout Fish, who swam into our hearts in March 2008 in a book of the same name. That book has been in heavy rotation in our house ever since the twins were big enough to request it, and it’s one of our favorites.

Since the debut of The Pout-Pout Fish, author Deborah Diesen and illustrator Dan Hanna have teamed up to release several more titles in the New York Times best-selling series, including The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark, and more. In total, there are more than 2.5 million copies of the books in print.

In September, the latest book in the series hit stores, and it’s perfect for the holiday season!

Not Very Merry Cover

In the book, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, Mr. Fish is down in the dumps over holiday shopping. He is so consumed with buying the perfect gift for each of his friends that he forgets the true meaning of the holidays. Just like the other books in the series, this one is full of catchy, repetitive rhymes that kids love:

“A gift should be big,
And a gift should be bright.
And a gift should be perfect—
Guaranteed to bring delight.
And a gift should have meaning,
Plus a bit of bling-zing,
So I’ll shop till I drop

For each just-right thing.”

When Mr. Fish—with his signature Pout-Pout Fish frown—comes up empty-handed, Miss Shimmer intervenes with a plan to make homemade gifts. He soon learns that it’s not about busting the budget or gifting the season’s hottest item, but giving from the heart. Together they experience the joy that comes from giving and sharing—the merriest gifts of all.

We received a copy of The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish for our review, and the boys and I are loving it! The illustrations are beautiful, and it’s a nice break from all the Santa- and Rudolph-heavy books in our holiday rotation.

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish is published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux Books for Young Readers, a division of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, and is geared toward kids ages 2 to 6. It is available for purchase at a wide range of retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

But before you purchase a copy, enter my giveaway to win a free one! Macmillan will send a copy of The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish to one lucky Double Duty Twins reader just in time for the holiday season! All U.S. residents are eligible to win.

To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post and let me know who you’ll give the book to if you win. But hurry—the contest ends at midnight on Tuesday, November 24, 2015! I will pick one winner at random on November 25.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish to facilitate this review and giveaway. All opinions are my own!

GIVEAWAY: Win a Family Four-Pack of Tickets to Blue Man Group!

If you read my Blogger Bash recap, you saw that I got to attend a special performance of Blue Man Group. The show was wildly entertaining and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

Blue Man Group combines music, comedy, and state-of-the-art technology to create a truly unique form of wacky entertainment. It is continually refreshed with new music, stories, and instruments.

Blue Man Group has been performed in 15 countries and seen by more than 35 million people worldwide since 1991. It has permanent productions in New York, Las Vegas, Orlando, Boston, Chicago, and Berlin. There’s also a tour in North America and Latin America.

Here’s what I found especially cool about the show:
  • The music. The band was super talented and had everyone rocking for the entire show!
  • The neon paint drumming. Audience members in the first few rows even had to wear head-to-toe ponchos to protect them from splattering paint.
Blue Man Group National Tour Credit photo: ©Paul Kolnik paul@paulkolnik.com nyc  212-362-7778
Blue Man Group National Tour
Credit photo: ©Paul Kolnik
paul@paulkolnik.com
nyc 212-362-7778
  • The fact that it was really interactive. The Blue Men came into the seating area several times to interact with audience members. They even recruited two members to go onstage and backstage to help them with bits. Here’s a photo of vlogger HeyThatsMike helping the Blue Men make body art during our special performance:

Blogger HeyThatsMike onstage helping create art at the Blue Man Group Blogger Bash performance
Now, the big question: Should you bring your kids? Blue Man Group touts itself as a family-friendly show, appropriate for ages 3 and up. And on the show’s website, you’ll see photos and testimonials of happy children who loved it.

I do urge you to use caution, though, when deciding whether to take your own kids. If you have children who get easily frightened by darkness or loud music, you may want to hold off on taking them. Also keep in mind the following:

  • The show is 90 minutes long with no intermission.
  • The lights are often turned off or really low to illuminate the neon paint, costumes, and more used in the show.
  • The band wears glowing neon skeleton outfits and face paint:

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Older kids and teens would definitely find Blue Man Group to be really cool. If you do decide to take your children, you can find some fun activities and resources on the show’s website to prepare them before the show.

So, do you want to go? Cue the giveaway! One lucky Double Duty Twins reader will win a family 4-pack of tickets to any Blue Man Group show of their choosing in New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Las Vegas, or any of the North American Tour dates! The winner will receive a certificate in the mail that can be redeemed for any show from September 8, 2015 through June 8, 2016.

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me who you’d like to bring with you to Blue Man Group. Then click on “Leave a blog post comment” in the form below, followed by, “I commented!” Once you do that, you’ll unlock opportunities to earn three more bonus entries. You have until August 28, 2015 to enter, and I’ll pick a winner at random on August 29. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CONTEST RULES
PRIZE RESTRICTIONS
THE FULFILLMENT PERIOD BEGINS SEPTEMBER 8, 2015, FOR SELECT PERFORMANCES ONLY, AND TICKETS MUST BE REDEEMED BY JUNE 8, 2016. ALL REQUESTS ARE SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY AND MUST BE SUBMITTED A MINIMUM OF TWO (2) WEEKS IN ADVANCE. IT IS NOT UNCOMMON FOR BLUE MAN GROUP PERFORMANCES TO SELL OUT, SO ADVANCE PLANNING IS REQUIRED. THE BEST SEATS AVAILABLE ARE LIKELY TO BE SUNDAY THROUGH THURSDAY SHOWS. HOLIDAY BLACKOUT PERIODS VARY BY CITY, AND THE CERTIFICATE IS NOT VALID DURING THOSE BLACKOUT PERIODS. THE CERTIFICATE DOES NOT GUARANTEE THAT TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR CHOICE. CERTIFICATE HAS NO CASH VALUE AND IS NON-TRANSFERABLE. VALID FOR THE BLUE MAN GROUP SHOW ONLY WITH SEATING LOCATION AT THE DISCRETION OF THE BOX OFFICE. NOT VALID FOR VIP UPGRADES, THEME PARK, CLUB, OR SPECIAL EVENT ADMISSION. PARKING IS NOT INCLUDED. THERE ARE NO REFUNDS OR EXCHANGES ONCE TICKETS HAVE BEEN ISSUED. ALL REDEMPTIONS ARE FINAL. NO SUBSTITUTIONS, CASH EQUIVALENTS OR TRANSFERS ARE PERMITTED. NOT FOR RESALE. CERTIFICATE IS NOT VALID AFTER EXPIRATION DATE OF JUNE 8, 2016. BLUE MAN GROUP IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR REPLACING LOST OR STOLEN TICKETS AND/OR VOUCHERS.
ELIGIBILITY
EMPLOYEES OF BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, SPONSORS, AND ANY OF THEIR RESPECTIVE AFFILIATES’ EMPLOYEES AND EACH OF THEIR HOUSEHOLDS ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO ENTER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY.
GENERAL CONDITIONS
ALL ENTRANTS RELEASE SPONSORS, BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE FOUNDERS, PARENT COMPANIES, AFFILIATES, SUBSIDIARIES AND THE DIRECTORS, OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES, AND AGENTS OF THE FOREGOING ENTITIES, AND ALL OTHERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE DEVELOPMENT AND EXECUTION OF THIS CONTEST (ALL AFOREMENTIONED PARTIES, THE “RELEASED PARTIES”) FROM ANY AND ALL LIABILITY FROM INJURY, LOSS OR DAMAGE OF ANY KIND. SPONSORS AND BLUE MAN GROUP RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CANCEL, MODIFY, OR TERMINATE THIS CONTEST OR ANY OF THE PRIZES AT ANY TIME, INCLUDING AFTER WINNERS ARE CHOSEN. ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION SUPPLIED BY ENTRANTS TO SPONSOR OR ITS AFFILIATES WILL BE SUBJECT TO SPONSOR’S PRIVACY POLICY , EXCEPT WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW AND BLUE MAN GROUP’S PRIVACY POLICY LOCATED AT HTTP://WWW.BLUEMAN.COM/PRIVACY-POLICY, ENTRY AND/OR WINNER’S ACCEPTANCE OF A PRIZE OF ANY KIND CONSTITUTES PERMISSION FOR THE SPONSOR AND BLUE MAN GROUP TO USE WINNER’S NAME, ADDRESS (CITY AND STATE), PHOTO, LIKENESS, BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION, STATEMENT AND VOICE FOR ADVERTISING/PUBLICITY PURPOSES WORLDWIDE AND IN ALL FORMS OF MEDIA IN PERPETUITY, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE TO OR COMPENSATION IN CONNECTION WITH SAID CONTEST OR THE PRIZE AWARDED. ALL ENTRANTS EXPRESSLY RELEASE THE SPONSOR, BLUE MAN GROUP, AND THEIR AFFILIATES, PARENT, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE AGENTS, EMPLOYEES, LICENSEES, DESIGNEES, AND ASSIGNS FROM AND AGAINST ANY AND ALL CLAIMS WHICH THEY HAVE OR MAY HAVE FOR INVASION OF PRIVACY, DEFAMATION, OR ANY OTHER CAUSE OF ACTION ARISING OUT OF ANY SUCH USE.

MISCELLANEOUS
BLUE MAN PRODUCTIONS, LLC, IS NOT THE SPONSOR OF THE CONTEST AND IS SOLELY PROVIDING THE PRIZE. THIS BLOG IS THE OFFICIAL SPONSOR. ENTRANTS AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE PRIZE RESTRICTIONS, ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, AND SPONSOR RULES. BLUE MAN GROUP AND ALL RELATED INDICIA ©2015 BLUE MAN GROUP. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

GIVEAWAY: One Double Duty Twins Reader Will Win A Free Night’s Stay at an AmericInn Hotel!

AMERICINN HOTELS IS SEEKING WILD AND WACKY VACATION PICS!

Wild, Wacky and Wonderful. That’s what AmericInn Hotels is looking for this summer—in your travel photos. And they are giving away prizes!

AmericInnHotel&Suites logo PMS

AmericInn—the largest midscale hotel brand in the upper Midwest—is inviting adventurous travelers to enter a selfie or other photo of their wildest, wackiest, most wonderful travel moments.

If they pick your pic, you’ll win a free night at any AmericInn location ($200 value). Even better: up to two people in your photo will also win a great prize. AmericInn is awarding a prize each day all summer long, and will be awarding an additional free night’s stay exclusively for readers of Double Duty Twins!

From the world’s only corn palace (Mitchell, S.D.), to the world’s largest concrete gnome (Ames, Ia.), to statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox (various locations), there are plenty of off-the-beaten-path locations, unique events, and small-town festivals to see and enjoy, and AmericInn wants to be part of the fun. Original photos from anywhere in the world—or anywhere else you can get to—can be submitted online.

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HOW TO ENTER:

To be eligible for the free night’s stay reserved for our readers, follow these three quick steps:

  1. Use this link to submit your photo to the AmericInn contest: https://adventure.americinn.com?blog=DoubleDuty.
  2. If you haven’t already, like Double Duty Twins on Facebook.
  3. Leave a comment on the Double Duty Twins Facebook page or below this post and tell me what you submitted a photo of—or share the photo!

And that’s it! You’re entered!

Entries must be submitted by Tuesday, July 14. On July 15, AmericInn will choose one Double Duty Twins reader to receive the free night’s stay! You can choose from roughly 200 locations throughout the Midwest and in Connecticut, Delaware, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

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Photo entry winners will be selected based on the uniqueness, creativity, and fun reflected in the photos. Entrants may also create a digital postcard with their photo on the contest website.

In honor of the contest, here is a photo of Keith, my brother, and me with the twins back in December 2011, when they were 6 months old. It’s at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, CO. We weren’t being wacky, but I think it’s hilarious that the boys were so bundled up, you can’t even see their little faces in the photo! It was about 25 degrees that day!

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So get wild, get wacky, get wonderful, and get going. We can’t wait to see where you’ve been! Good luck!

UPDATE: The winner of the free night’s stay at any AmericInn hotel is Jennifer Hayden! Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to Jennifer. Please check back for more exciting giveaways to come!

GIVEAWAY: “Big Tractors with Casey & Friends” Book and Toy

Know a young tractor fan? He or she will love the new “Casey & Friends” book series published by Octane Press. The books give kids a glimpse into life on a farm and the machines of modern agriculture. They are geared toward kids ages 4 to 8, but I think even younger tractor buffs would enjoy them. The author—educator and national curriculum writer Holly Dufek—joined Pixar “Cars” artist Paul Nunn to help kids make the connection with farm equipment and the food they eat.

We received a copy of the second book in the series, “Big Tractors with Casey & Friends,” to review. The book was released last month. We also received a CASE IH Magnum 370 CVT tractor toy.

Matt and Nate have never shown great interest in tractors specifically, but they’ve always been big fans of vehicles in general. They both got really excited when they saw the toy tractor. They did the typical routine—fought over it, had it taken away, and finally agreed to take turns playing with it. Luckily it seems to be really well made, so it stood up to the yanking quite nicely!

CASEIH Tractor Toy

Then we settled in to read the book. The boys were drawn in by the real photos of iconic red CASE IH tractors and the descriptions of the tractors’ parts. A cast of cartoon characters, led by a little girl named Casey, explains all of the tractors’ jobs and how they work. Each page has a sidebar with fun farming facts.

A Year on the Farm-cover

The first “”Casey & Friends” book, “A Year on the Farm with Casey & Friends,” was released in January. Two more—”Combines with Casey & Friends” and “Planters & Cultivators with Casey & Friends“—come out in June and September of this year.

And now, here’s the fun part—giveaway time! Octane Press is celebrating the launch of the “Casey & Friends” series by giving a copy of “Big Tractors with Casey & Friends” and a CASE IH Magnum 370 CVT tractor toy to one lucky Double Duty Twins reader and a special kid in his or her life.

The contest is open to all U.S. residents. To enter, like Double Duty Twins on Facebook or follow the blog on Instagram at @jmwalters718. Then leave a comment here OR on the Double Duty Twins Facebook or Instagram pages telling me who you’d like to win the book and toy for. I’ll choose a winner at random on May 31.

Good luck!

UPDATE: The winner of the book and tractor toy is Amanda Evey! Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to Amanda. Please check back for more exciting giveaways to come!