Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Magic Castle Bounce House Giveaway!

Sponsored by Blast Zone
Hosted by Conservamom
Kids love to bounce, play and have tons of outdoor fun. That's why the line of Blast products that are both available for home and comercial use are perfect for any family with kids. From Water Slides to bouncers that are the perfect addition to an active and healthy child's life, Blast Zone has the perfect activity for your size family.
Now through May 2015 Blast Zone has agreed to give all of our readers a 10% discount off all bounce houses . Use code BOUNCEBLOG, for those interested in purchasing an inflatable. At this time , BlastZone.com does not have coupon functionality, so this will be a special deal where you would need to call in. Finally, Don't forget to check out Conservamom's Review of the Spray N' Splash 2 and the fun her family has had with it.
Now for the Best part, One lucky reader will have the chance to win a Magic Castle Bounce House RV$399.99. With fast, easy setup taking just a couple minutes, up to 3 Kids will be bouncing quickly on a bounce floor made of commercial-grade vinyl. Low enough to clear standard ceilings but tall enough to keep the kids safely inside, this bouncer is ideal for almost anywhere in or around the house. In the backyard or the living room, your kids will bounce freely while you take comfort knowing they’re well protected by safety netting.

To check out more information on their great line of products, make sure and follow Blast zone!
To enter to win this fun giveaway head below for your chance to enter to win!Giveaway is open to US only and ends on 6/8 at 11:59 pm.
Disclosure: All opinions are 100% mine. This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network.All opinions and experiences are Conservamom‘s. Open to Continental US , must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor will be responsible for product fulfillment to winner(s) of the giveaway. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions or to see your product featured in an Event you can contact Elia At Conservamom

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Day that Changed Our Town

It has been a little over a month since an EF 4 tornado hit our town, but it still seems a little surreal when we look back on that day in April.  The kids at the school where I work were all excited because that Thursday was our open house.  My son could not wait to show me everything he had been working on this school year.  We took two cars that afternoon because I was planning on taking our daughter to her tumbling class after the school open house.  We had heard on the weather that there might be some strong thunderstorms heading our way, but when you live in the mid-west you are pretty used to thunderstorms in the spring, in fact I used to look forward to those rainy spring evenings.  Everything was going fine when we arrived at the school, with the exception of some light rain starting...but we had umbrellas so everything was fine.  Shortly after walking into our son's classrooms we were notified that there was a tornado warning and we all had to head into the hallways until the warning had passed.  We had the option to leave if we wanted to, so we figured since there was only a few minutes left on the warning, and the storm system looked like it was not headed in our direction, we decided to head home.  The kids were worried about the dogs so we thought we would ease their minds and just leave.  As we were leaving another storm system popped up, this one however was heading for us.  Our house is a few miles outside of town, but not in a subdivision.  As we approached the 4 way stop which is a little less than a mile from our house it started to hail, my husband who was in the car ahead of me, pulled over and started pointing at the cornfield to our left. There it was, a long narrow funnel cloud coming our way.  This was the first, and hopefully the last, funnel cloud I have ever seen.  

The kids started screaming as I drove as fast as I could and pulled into our driveway.  I hurried the kids into the basement and wrestled the dogs down.  My husband stayed outside and watched which way the funnel was heading.  As I settled the kids into the basement, the power started to flicker and my daughter was panicking.  She ran to get something from upstairs and let one of the dogs out of the basement.  I rounded up my kid and wrestled the dog downstairs again and quickly ran to check on my husband.  The tornado had grown in size and was now what they call a wedge tornado....this thing looked like pure destruction.  My husband said that it was not heading straight for us, but it was heading for a subdivision (there are actually a few in that direction) which was on the other side of a cornfield behind our house.  It was heading directly for my parents house.  I had called my dad a few minutes prior just to make sure they were aware of what was going on since out in the country we don't hear the tornado sirens, but now I was franticly calling him again.  He answered and told me that it sounded like a freight train was heading for them.  They were in the basement taking cover.  As my husband and I watched from our back yard, this gigantic storm plowed through the subdivisions directly behind us.  We could see the destruction it was leaving in its path, and several homes that were once standing were no longer there....homes of people we knew, families that had kids that went to the school I worked at.  It was like a horrible dream...we didn't really know what to do.  The tornado, we later found out was half a mile wide and left a path of destruction of fifty miles.  As soon as it was away from our area, we jumped in the car to see what had happened. 

I called my parents and they said that it literally went around their house, but many of the homes around them were gone.  As we tried to get to them down one road, we were told that there were trees down and we could not get through.  We went around in another direction and although we could not get to my parents subdivision, we did pull into one where several people we knew were living.  All the homes were gone....just piles of rubble lay were homes used to stand.  Thank God that most of those families were not home, many of them were at the school for our open house....all those kids and parents were safely huddled in our downstairs area and bathrooms at the school.  In the subdivision, the people who were home started coming out and helping others.  

Home owners were pulling in to find their whole lives were completely gone.  My husband got to work helping one of his friends try to salvage whatever they could find....in the dark and rain....I had the kids in the car and my husband asked if I could run home for some garbage bags, rain boots and a flashlight.  I was not sure if the road would be blocked off so I was hesitant to leave him there.  I decided it was work a shot and headed out.  I needed to run to town and get gas too so as I was pulling out of the subdivision I asked the police officer if I would be allowed back in, he said yes so I headed home.  At the house I quickly grabbed what I needed and headed to town for gas.  Since were a few miles from town this took a little while, and when I got back the police had blocked off all entrances to the destruction zone and I could not get back in.  All three access roads were completely blocked.  I tried to call my husband to let him know that I could not get back to him, but his phone had died.  I called my dad, who was inside the destruction zone but not in the same area as my husband, and he told me that there were too many trees down and he could not get to him either.  Well, I had no choice but to head back to our house and wait.  Worst case scenario, he could walk across the cornfield to get back home.  My phone was ringing and texting off the hook, friend and family from around the country had already heard about what had happened in our little town.  I found out that the town of Fairdale, not too far from us was completely wiped out, also that a restaurant a few miles from us had 12 people trapped in their basement when the building was destroyed.  I finally got a call from my dad that my husband had somehow made it to his house and he was considering taking a bike back home...but by some miracle one of our friends found a road which went all the way around the nearby conservation club that was not blocked off and was able to bring my husband home.  My parents got lucky, other than a few branches through their roof, a couple of uprooted trees and a damaged AC unit, their house was standing.  Many of their neighbors were not so lucky.  For days after, our community came together like never before....thousands of volunteers from all over, flooded in to help in any way they could.  Every news station around was stationed less than a mile from our house.  Red Cross provided food and supplies and everyone young and old rolled up their sleeves to clean up the mess.  The only thing I could think of was just how lucky we all were that no one lost their life that day.  

Someone was looking out for us and our community...and how crazy that all those people were at the school that day and out of the storms path.  Over the next week or so, peoples belonging were being found as far as as 70 miles away.  Facebook was buzzing with pictures of photographs and other personal items being shared until their owners were found.  It was something that I will never forget, and hopefully never have to experience again.

Now, a little over a month later, homes are being rebuilt and lives are being put back together.  I feel as though our community has grown in strength and somewhat bonded over this horrible tragedy.  Though many people lost so much that day, it really shows that there is some good that comes from all bad situations.

To see more images or videos just Google Rochelle or Fairdale tornado 4/9/15  #RochelleTornado #Tornado #HubStrong

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Little Tikes Sand and Water Table Giveaway!

Hosted by Conservamom

Young treasure seekers will have an exciting time looking for buried treasure with the Little Tikes Treasure Hunt Sand & Water Table. Kids can sift the sand to find buried treasure and transport it via train to the boat waiting in the water! The lid doubles as a water basin where kids can even hunt for treasure underwater. This activity table is loaded with tons of different ways for kids to play! Perfect for kids Ages 2+ and retails for $59.99! You can check out Conservamom's Review of the Treasure Hunt Sand & Water Table here. Now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will get their very own Treasure Hunt Sand & Water Table! Open to US only and ends on May 29th at 11:59pm.

Disclosure: All opinions are 100% mine. This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network.All opinions and experiences are Conservamom‘s. Open to Continental US , must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The sponsor will be responsible for product fulfillment to winner(s) of the giveaway. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. For questions or to see your product featured in an Event you can contact Elia At Conservamom

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kitchen Aid Mixer Giveaway {and Some Gluten Free Recipes}

Welcome to the Kitchen Aid & Van's Giveaway
Sponsored by Van's Natural Food
Hosted by Conservamom

Kitchen Aid mixers save you time in the kitchen, enter below for your chance to win one!

Now a word from Van's:

Hi from Van’s! As you probably know, May is Celiac Awareness Month, and we at Van’s would like to mark the occasion by sharing five of our favorite gluten-free swaps – and by offering the chance to win a Gluten-Free Gift Pack, including a Kitchen-Aid Mixer (entry form and contest rules located at the bottom of this post).
At Van’s, we are committed to providing wholesome, delicious options for a wide variety of dietary needs. That’s why we have worked for years to provide nutritious, whole-grain options for our gluten-free fans – starting with our waffles and expanding in recent years to our crackers, snack bars, cereals, chips, granola and even pasta. As our gluten-free line expands, one of our favorite things is seeing all the creative ways our fans use Van’s gluten-free foods as ingredient substitutes to make delicious gluten-free dishes good enough for the whole family to enjoy. Here are our top-five gluten-free substitutions from some of our talented blog partners:

  Gluten-Free Waffle Pudding







Now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will win a Kitchen Aid 4 Qt Mixer and a Van's Gift pack. Total prize value is $375! So head below for your chance to enter to win. Giveaway ends on 5/17 at 11:59pm EST. This giveaway is open to US only and you must be 18+over to enter. Good luck!!

“This is a sponsored post written by Van’s International Foods, Inc. and facilitated by ConservaMom” All opinions are 100% mine. This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network.. Open US only must be 18+. Confirmed Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Van's will be responsible for product fulfillment to winner(s) of the giveaway. For questions on this giveaway or to see your product featured in an Event you can contact Elia At Conservamom

Monday, April 27, 2015

Free Comic Book Day

May 2nd marks this year’s Free Comic Book Day!  Free Comic Book Day is an annual event where comic book shops across North America open their doors and give free books to anyone who visits (while supplies last). More than two million books will be given away to readers of all ages, with the ultimate goal of introducing a whole new generation of comic book fans.

For younger comic readers, DC Entertainment will be releasing two special editions including TEEN TITANS GO! Chapter 12, based on the hit television series currently airing Saturday mornings as part of Cartoon Network’s DC Nation programming block, and SCOOBY DOO TEAM UP! #6, an all-new adventure featuring the Scooby gang teaming up with the Super Friends.

Additional details, including a list of participating locations, can be found at www.freecomicbookday.com

Monday, April 20, 2015

Preserve Even More of Your Baby's Stem Cells {and an Awesome Contest}

It is a fact that stem cells in cord blood have transformative potential and have been used to treat over 30,000 patients worldwide. It’s been shown that using a higher number of stem cells in a transplant leads to better engraftment and survival. Did you know that you can preserve significantly MORE of your baby’s stem cells by adding placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection?

Banking the most stem cells can be critical, and only through banking both cord and placenta blood do you have this opportunity. Numerous studies published in top medical journals have shown that transplanting more stem cells significantly increases success and transplant survival rates. In fact, customers who bank placenta blood in addition to cord blood with LifebankUSA preserve 60%-70% more CD34+ stem cells – the cells that are the most important for rebuilding diseased blood with healthy blood.

Every day, parents are choosing to bank their child’s cord blood because they know these powerful cells could one day be used to save a close family member’s life. Parents choose to also bank placenta blood with LifebankUSA to make their cord blood collection even more powerful, providing them with even greater peace of mind [T1]
LifebankUSA is the only cord blood bank with proprietary technology offering [T1] placenta blood banking with cord blood banking to expectant parents. We are also the only company in the world to release placenta stem cell units for transplant.

Your child is being born into a world of extraordinary possibilities that include the enormous potential of stem cell banking. Make the most of this once-in-a- lifetime opportunity by choosing LifebankUSA and add placenta blood banking to your cord blood collection, for a very real, proven layer of protection for you and your family.

LifebankUSA has an awesome contest just for you! Click HERE to check it out.

"LifebankUSA is a pioneer in placenta-stem cell technology. Our stem cell banking program meets and exceeds the highest standards in the industry-and we are the only company that can provide access to technology that allows you to boost the number of cells you can recover after birth." - Robert Hariri, MD, PhD CEO and Founder of LifebankUSA

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Summer Camps Help Kids Affected By Cancer

Summer is just around the corner and while both kids and parents anxiously await a much-needed vacation, there are a few others who need something more...a break from the heart-wrenching challenges they face every day as a result of a family member who is battling, or who may have lost the battle, with cancer.

Angel On My Shoulder is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that has established a number of cost-free camps, both summer and year-round, that were designed to address the needs of young people whose lives have been affected by cancer through the illness or passing of a close family member (parent, sibling, or grandparent).

Angel On My Shoulder weekend camps are funded through donations. so that everyone who wants to attend may do so. They provide kids with an opportunity to meet others like themselves in a well-supervised atmosphere of understanding.

“When a family is affected by cancer, the focus has to be on the patient. Too often though there are children who are also experiencing loss or confusion,” said Lolly Rose, founder of Angel On My Shoulder. “That’s where Angel On My Shoulder comes in. We’re helping these kids feel good and have fun with others they can relate to; to see their faces light up again is an amazing feeling.”

Angel On My Shoulder offers five different weekend camps for kids who have a close family member who is battling cancer. Camp Angel is for kids ages 7-12; Camp Teen Angel is for teens ages 13-15; Camp Angel Adventures is for older teens ages 16-18; and Camp Angel Adventures Extreme is for 16-18 year olds who want to experience more extreme activities, and Camp Hozhoni, is a family camp for families with a child 18 or younger who has cancer.

The purpose of the camps is to give kids the chance to meet other kids who are in the same situation and give them the opportunity to participate in activities tailored to their age group that will provide many happy memories. Summer camps include swimming, kayaking, canoeing and fishing. Winter camps feature snowshoeing, ice fishing, dog-sledding and sleigh rides.

Darci Sullivan (far right) enjoys a wet and wild ride at Angel Adventures

Angel On My Shoulder also sponsors two retreats for adults: Angel Care and Healing Angels. Angel Care is for Cancer Caregivers, and was created with the express purpose of giving cancer caregivers a respite from the often times grueling work of caring for a loved one with cancer. The retreats are held several times a year and provide activities such as yoga and discussion sessions to help these selfless individuals give back to themselves. Healing Angels is for cancer survivors who are in remission. The intent is to provide them with a weekend of mental, physical and spiritual healing that will contribute to their growing sense of well-being.

New campers get ready for a weekend of fun at Camp Angel
“I am constantly inspired by the people I meet through Angel On My Shoulder from donors and volunteers to those families whose lives we touch,” added Rose. “This community is quick to lend a hand and help one another and our organization is very thankful for that.”

To lean more about Angel On My Shoulder watch this video

This is a sponsored blog; while the views expressed here were genuinely mine, consideration was paid to me by Angel On My Shoulder to review this product

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Giveaway for All Downton Abbey Fans

Its a show that takes you back to tradition, manners and upper class dinner wardrobe changes, Downton Abbey has taken us by storm and pulled us in to all of its scandal.  One of my favorite characters on the show is Mr. Bates played by Brendan Coyle. Mr. Coyle is in a new movie called Noble that is giving you the chance to win big!

This giveaway is made possible by the new film, NOBLE, about Christina Noble, an Irishwoman who's saved over 700,000 orphans in Vietnam. Deirdre O'Kane and Brendan Coyle (Mr. Bates on Downtown Abbey) star in the award-winning film. For another chance to win, enter the She is Noble contest, inspired by Christina's story. Go to the website and nominate a heroic woman you know who's quietly changing the world around her. You could win a free 5-day/4-night trip to Ireland!

What does it mean to be a noble woman? It’s living fearlessly and loving recklessly. Who is that woman in your world? In your neighborhood or school or church? We want to tell her story. Take 30 seconds. Go to www.sheisnoble.com and nominate a noble woman. Include a brief description, your name and email. Done. A team of storytellers -- from writers to videographers - - will take it from there, ready to take your nomination and tell her story. That’s all, except that you could get a trip to Ireland for doing so -- and the woman you nominate could get $10,000 for her work. www.sheisnoble.com

When you enter, use my unique referral code: DIARYOFASAHM 

I am also giving away a fantastic prize pack to sweeten the deal!   If you are a fan of the show Downton Abbey you do not want to miss this giveaway! You could win the following:

• One (1) photo of Brendan Coyle, autographed by Mr. Coyle himself!
• One (1) The World of Downton Abbey hardcover book by Jessica Fellowes
• One (1) signed NOBLE movie poster

All you have to do is follow the Rafflecopter instructions below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In accordance with FTC regulations, you will need a disclosure that you will receive the same prize pack. Example: "I will receive the same the same prize pack for posting this giveaway. All opinions are my own.

Friday, March 27, 2015

S.T.E.A.M. education: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math!

If you are looking for something fun, engaging and educational for your kids to do this summer, you don't want to miss this.

ROBOTS-4-U Summer Camps is Now Enrolling - Where Fun, Thinking & Learning comes to Life! 
Check them out at www.ROBOTS-4-U.com or on twitter @Robots4U  and facebook at Facebook.com/Robots4Usummercamp

DYNAMIC ART & DESIGN Summer Camps are also Now Enrolling - Where Technology Meets Creativity! You can visit them at www.dynamic-art-design.com @Robots4U #DynamicArt or on facebook at Facebook.com/DynamicArtClass

- Camps are 1 week (5 days) long

- Days: Monday to Friday Times: 9:00-11:30a.m. and 12:30-3:00 p.m.

- CAMPERS RATIO: 1 Instructor to 16 participants

-Register early as camps do fill up quickly!

- Robot / Science / Engineering / Day Camp / Challenges

- Camps Girls and Boys - Aged 7 to 14

- Robot Camps and Dynamic Art Camps offered during June, July and August

- Hands on Learning, Self-Paced. Beginners to Expert!

- Each Camper Individually uses a ROBOTICS or DYNAMIC ART Kit. Robot kits do not go home with campers but are available for purchase!

Campers having a BLAST, while learning and playing in a dynamic environment. Learning about Robotics and Science, in an independent and exciting way!

Visit the websites to see dates and locations for these day camps.

Coding Lets Kids Learn, Build and Create Using 21st Century Skills

Sophia, 9 years old, shows off the new game she’s working on. “You click here as fast you can to make the bullying message go away.” It’s an anti-cyberbullying game, and she’s building it in an after school coding class offered by Power Up Tech Academy in Chicago, in which she is allowed to work on any project she chooses. Elsie, in the same class, says she wants to build an app to teach her 5 year old brother math skills. The other students work on their games and other projects with remarkable persistence, coming back to the same project week after week to get it just right.

This is not a special group of kids, even though they are great kids. This is what happens when kids get their hands on tools to build the technology that they have been using since they were toddlers. They have great ideas coming out of years of experience as a game player and app user, they see ways to improve their world because they interact with that world through so many different apps, and they are motivated to learn and create because the end result is meaningful and real to them.

Coding classes for kids are wonderful for many reasons. The skills learned are very practical - logical thinking, problem solving, understanding technology. But the real magic comes from the kids themselves. They are able to use coding to explore and express the ideas that are interesting and important to them. They are making and building their own learning, and it comes out in very real ways.

In another Power Up Tech Academy class, kindergarteners play a board game called Robot Turtles. There is lots of giggling and fun, but when each kid’s turn comes they think and concentrate very hard to figure out where their turtle needs to go. They have to select 2 commands at a time, which teaches them to think in sequences, a key skill for programming and broadly applicable in other areas as well. After Robot Turtles, the kids work for a while in ScratchJr, an iPad app. Although they can’t read and write well enough to write stories yet, they can create digital stories with multiple characters and scenes, and use the recording feature to add sounds and dialogue. Today, Andrew has a dragon flying around the library and the librarian running away screaming.

Coding for kids is exploding on the education landscape. It is the "new literacy”, a critical 21st century skill that most of our schools still don’t teach. Some countries, though, are starting to bring it inside the educational system. Coding is being taught to all children in Britain, Estonia and Finland from the earliest grades, and strongly advocated in Canada, Australia and here in the United States. But with limited time in the school day and limited specialist teachers, it may be quite a while before our kids have access to year-round, quality coding instruction at the elementary level.

Unfortunately, for parents of kids who are ready to learn to code now, there are very few options available. One-time introductory events are starting to become more common, but the availability of multi-week coding classes to build these complex skills over time is extremely spotty.

The lack of such options in Chicago is why Power Up Tech Academy was started. Their vision is to make coding available to all kids in grades K-8 in Chicago. They are currently offering classes through partners such as Alphonsus Academy and Pickle's Playroom, and in April they will open Chicago's first year-round Kids Coding Center.

If your child is ready to start learning to code, check out Power Up Tech Academy’s Chicago classes and summer camps, with offerings for kids from grades K-8. Spring 2015 classes start mid-April in Lincoln Square, Clybourn & Diversey, and Hyde Park. Summer camps are available at Clybourn & Diversey. Visit http://powerupta.com for more info and to register, or email  at tamasin@powerupta.com with your questions about kids coding!