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Entries in back to school (6)


Delivering Backpacks Becomes a Bigger Lesson

Last month I had the chance to participate in a backpack drive to benefit needy kids in the DC area.

This was part of a campaign that GM Northeast organized and it started with a giveaway on a local blog.  My participation was small. I received a beautiful GM car, a Cadillac XTS that was already pre-filled with backpacks and school supplies. I did scour my house to find additional items I could donate. But really, all I had to do was deliver the goods on a pre-determined day. That said, the experience turned into so much more...

Here's the car. I have to say, as I continue to shop for cars, I LOVE the new features like the review camera.

Cadillac XTS with rearview camera

I can imagine that has saved more than one life!

I had the Twofer come with me for several reasons. One, it was summer and they were not in camp that week and I had used up all of my play date favors. Two, we had a 40 minute drive into DC and I wanted their feedback on the features found in the backseat of this beautiful car (the pull up window shades were a HIT!) Three, it was the perfect time to discuss exactly WHY we were delivering a trunk load of backpacks and school supplies. They need to understand many kids start school with little else than the clothes they are wearing. Many kids don't even bring a lunchbox to school.

The girls had a moment to think about that.

Operation Backpack at Central Union Mission in DC

We pulled into the Central Union Mission and unloaded our goods. It was a pleasure to meet some of the staff and also fellow DC area blogger, Vicky from The Mummy Chronicles.

After the delivery and the photo session it was time to go.

I wasn't quite done.

It felt strange to hop into my Cadillac (even if it was only a loaner) and drive back to my suburban life without somehow showing my girls what "homeless" and "needy" really means.

I wanted those words to be more than just quotes. I asked the director for a short tour of the shelter.

Central Union Mission is a shelter and half-way home for homeless men in the DC area. The do, however has lots of services for families including a food bank where they give out groceries, as well as the backpack program for kids who need school supplies, and a little extra love. There is a religious element to the place but it's not overwhelming and my take is a little God never actually hurt anyone.

We saw the rooms where the men stay in their various stages of progress: the bunk room for those right off the street to the small rooms (with doors that close for privacy) for those who have stuck around and are working toward a goal (high school diploma, drug rehab).

The girls were wide eyed and asked me a few whispered questions.

What really struck me, was the kitchen.

Central Union Mission kitchen via Instagram

This little kitchen serves three meals a day. It serves over 150,000 meals in a year.

That is a lot of hunger.

We got back into our fancy loaner car.

The girls as a LOT of questions.

We had a frank, open, honest discussion about just how lucky we are to have what we have. We discussed the two little girls waiting for their mom to pick up groceries at the shelter. We discussed how easy it is for people to go from ok, to needy.

I want to say a special Thank You to GM Northeast for donating to Operation Backpack, for giving me the opportunity to participate, and for the loaner car.

Have you ever taken your children to a shelter, soup kitchen, or something similar? I would love to hear what your kids thought.



Great Resource for Home Tutoring Just in Time for Back to School



Where to go for help when you kids need help in school?

So far my girls are doing fine in school, but as they get older and their school work is more challenging, I will definitely consider hiring a tutor to help them stay on track. But where do you start when looking for someone who you trust, who has a knack for teaching, and who your child will be able to relate to? Where can you find a tutor that you know is qualified, and that you are comfortable having around your child? Varsity Tutors is one reliable resource that can help you find a local tutor that can help your child with specific academic work and test preparation.

Hand-picked Tutors

Not everyone can be a tutor. Someone may have tested well themselves and received perfect grades, but they struggle with communicating complex topics in a simplified way. Varsity Tutors has a rigorous screening program that includes phone and in-person interviews, review of transcripts and test scores, prior teaching or mentoring experience, and a background check.


Here's how Varsity Tutors works:

Visit and enter your location and contact information.

Varsity Tutors will select the pre-screened tutor that best fits your needs and email you the information and pricing.

The tutor will call you to arrange the sessions at a mutually agreed upon location (your home, at a library, or anywhere else that is convenient).

For any tutoring provided at a client's home where the client is under age 18, they require a parent or legal guardian to be at home during tutoring.

Want more information?

Visit to learn more and fill out the short form to receive information on a tutor that fits your needs. You can also browse through tutors and read testimonials.

Have you hired a tutor for your child? I'd love to hear how you found them!



Disclosure: I received compensation in exchange for introducing my readers to Varsity Tutors.


GM Wants to Help You with Back to School Supplies

A few months ago I test-drove a Chevy Eco for a week as a treat for simply being a Mom.  Now I'm partnering with GM Northeast to help fill backpacks of school supplies for local families! 

Operation Backpack

I'll be getting a GM loaner car to use to deliver much-needed backpacks filled with all sorts of school supplies to Operation Backpack.  My twins will be entering 4th grade and I am expecting to spend $50 or $60 on supplies...NOT including a new backpack and lunchbox! That is an incredible burden on many families in our area who have already been affected by the mortgage crisis, layoffs, and more. If you think you can help, I encourage join us August 9th as we deliver supplies for Operation Backpack to Central Union Mission at 1350 R Street, NW Washington, DC 20009. You might also consider donating direct to the Operation Backpack program at Volunteers of America.

Do YOU Need Help with School Supplies?

Lands End wheeled backpack my twins use

One local blogger is giving away $100 gift card for a local family to win to help purchase school supplies. Not only that, the winner will be chauffered around in a GM loaner car as they shop!  Want to enter or do you know someone who really needs the help?

Visit  The Mummy Chronicles to nominate someone you think might benefit from the generosity of both GM, and Vicky who is hosting the giveaway.


Disclosure: I have not been compensated for this post though I will receive a loaner car for a week for the purposes of delivering filled backpacks to Central Union Mission. All opinions expressed here are my own and this post was neither reviewed nor approved prior to being published.


Portable Homework Study Carrel is My Crafty Piece de Resistance

We have finally figured out a way to provide some quiet study space for homework and keep twin eyes on their on work. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you, the DIY study carrel:

 homework study carrel

This nifty project was not only fun, it will help the girls focus on their own work.

Create your own study carrel

I first saw this project on the Disney website. Since I'm all about reusing now, I started looking around the house for materials we already had. I grabbed some clear plastic boxes I had saved this year (chocolate bunnies from Easter I believe) and cut off the top, then lined the inside with a cute image.

 reuse material for pencil box


I taped the image just lightly to the back of the box so we can swap it out for something new or seasonal whenever we want

We loved the blue in the Disney sample so we purchased a similar blue tri-fold presentation board but you can get them in all different colors. We cut the board in half to make two study carrels. Then I scrounged around and found some foam mounting squares , Command hooks , and self-stick Velcro to attach all the necessary items:

  • pencil holder (the clear box)
  • magnet strip (this came from Ikea)
  • ruler
  • clear plastic folder to hold week-long assignments
  • calendar

I cut up some plastic packaging the erasers came in to create a smaller container and used velcro to attach the pencil box so that we can take it off to change the image.



Homework Time Made Easier

With all the drama we has last year, I'm not quite sure why I didn't search for something like this sooner. These study carrels can fold up easily, and used on a table or even on the living room floor. The storage boxes means I'm not search around the house for pencils and erasers and glue. And the folder keeps weekly assignments like spelling lists in a safe place.

clear plastic folder on study carrel

Dare I say the love homework time now? And I'm earning my crafty mom badge!


for more of my attempts at crafting see:

DIY American Girl accessories

Crafty Crafters playdate frames

Disclosure: some links are affiliate links.


Who the hell needs a watch anyway? Oh wait, I do.

My watch battery died, oh, 4 months ago?

I've been living without.

Occasionally I'll wear one of the watches I got in Disney at the Social Media Moms Celebration. But I don't want to lose those and they aren't waterproof.

So instead I've been walking around asking people what time it is.

Or, I staple my cell phone to my hip so I can check the time.

Or, I ask one of the girls to go in the other room to ask Daddy what time it is and then come back and tell me.

Of course by then it's 5-10 minutes later because you know they don't do anything in a straight line.

I think it's time for a new watch.

Something sporty?

Something waterproof?

Something retro?

Or maybe something that reflects the way I feel some days.

melted watch image via

And by that I mean squeezed! Not pear-shaped!

What watch are you wearing?


Disclosure: some links are affiliate links.