Spring Cleaning with BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac, the Best Handheld Vacuum + A GIVEAWAY!

Hey friends, today's post is of the sponsored variety ... featuring the one and only BLACK+DECKER and their fab Pivot Vac. I think it's pretty neat-o and I hope you do too! And, as I've chatted before, it makes me smile and is super helpful when you engage in these posts - plusalso, there's a giveaway to be had! Yippee!

I've confessed before that I'm not a super housewife when it comes to cleaning. I manage clutter and don't let the dirt get too out of hand, but the deep cleaning tends to get, well, pushed under the proverbial rug.

Once a year or so, usually in the spring, I roll up my sleeves and force myself to do a little grunt work. I hate it, but Merry Maids isn't knocking down my door so what's a girl gonna do? I'll tell ya, I don my apron, crank up Lourdes (or the Frozen soundtrack if I get outvoted) and go hunting for those darling dust bunnies.

This year I decided to kick off my spring cleaning in the kitchen and what better companion than the BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac. It can get in all the nooks and crannies that a normal vac can't reach and being cordless it's an obvious go to for small messes.

I'm working through my kitchen tidying checklist and this lil' Pivot Vac is no doubt the best handheld vacuum I've encountered. Here's what I'm up too ...
  • Empty drawers and cabinets and organize contents, get rid of what I don't need or love
  • Vacuum each drawer and cabinet, this is where the BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac saves the day
  • Wipe down microwave with a disinfecting cleaner, Pivot Vac works here too if you've got a microwave of crumbs ... like me, hangs head in shame
  • Run the oven self-cleaner
  • Wipe down cabinet door fronts, wait, you don't have sticky little fingers leaving handprints everywhere?
  • Remove everything from the counter, dust and wipe counter top appliances and scrub counter
  • Organize the top of the fridge (I keep a basket of paper plates and my aprons on top of ours ... and apparently A LOT of other crap falls into that basket)
  • And then the fridge ... good luck there :)

Ready to get your spring clean on? You can win your very own Pivot Vac (valued at $79.99)!

To enter, you must first click here and take a peek at the features of the BLACK+DECKER Pivot Vac. Then, leave a comment sharing your favorite feature and what mess or deep clean project you would clean up first.

Submit your comment on or before May 15, 2014 and I'll contact the winner on the 16th!

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Mother's Day Giveaway

Happy Monday, friends!

I'm kicking off this week with something I've been working on for a few weeks now ... a grand ol' Mother's Day Giveaway! Because that's right, our day is just around the corner and there is no doubt in my mind that you deserve something special.

A handful of lovely ladies and shops have joined with me to make this giveaway extra fabulous. So enter yourself and send the link to your hubs to enter on your behalf too!

Here's what's up for grabs ...

$50 shop credit from Brave Sunday 
I featured two of Jill's pieces here and have since scooped up another pair of earrings. Love me some Brave Sunday!
12x12 Archival Print from Katie m. Berggren
Remember when I gushed about these motherhood prints? I still adore them and now you'll have the chance to hang one in your home too! You get to pick your favorite!

Jinja Infinity Scarf from Noonday Collection
1) I love scarves 2) I love Noonday's mission and 3) Aimee is one of my favorite mamas and just so happens to be a Noonday Ambassador ... add those all together and one lucky lady is going to be stylin' this Mother's Day!

24 Square Prints from Printstagr.am
What mama doesn't love capturing memories of their little ones? And since most of those snapshots are trapped on our phones these days, Printstagr.am prints are no doubt a must have.

And, possibly best of all ... $65 for your shopping pleasure from Tammy, Melissa, Aleisha, Rebecca and Tracy!
Been saving for a new pair of shoes? Maybe a massage is in order? Or perhaps just a night out with your mama friends for a movie and cocktails? The winner will see $65 in their PayPal before they can say, "yippee!"

Exciting giveaway, no? Enter below and I'll contact the winner next Monday!

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Some Call Her Miss Frizzle

What happens when you drop an upper middle class white woman fresh out of her Master's coursework into a diverse, title one middle school in a rough neighborhood? 

Do you think she would be scared? Perhaps the center of some student hazing? Would you imagine that she'd be the selected as the lead of her department? That when prompted, a young female student would tell their counselor that Miss Robertson is the only teacher she feels like she could confide in because she knows that she truly cares?

Today, in honor of Office Depot's Teachers Change Lives Program, I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to my sister. 

Katie, more often known as Miss Robertson (and sometimes Miss Frizzle), is remarkable. Growing up she was my meek and mild younger sister; the middle sister in our family of all girls. She was a tomboy, but has since updated her dating profile to read "fashionable" because she has grown into a fresh, chic style of her own. She has always been a cautious adventurer, and yet, rock climbs weekly and has crossed off skydiving from her bucket list. When she was little she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but has found a calling in a different field of science - the field of educating 6th graders on ecosytems and genetics.

Honestly, I never thought Katie would become a teacher. Our mom teaches kindergarten, so teaching is not foreign to our family, but Katie never seemed like the lesson plan guru with a love for dreaming up field trips and correcting exams.

I've always known her more as a people lover, the kind who cares deeply about your feelings and strives to fill your love tank in small, meaningful ways. I imagined Katie as the animal healer she dreamed of becoming or perhaps a counselor, but teaching? It just never entered my mind.

Goes to show how much I know, because teaching is no doubt Katie's calling. It's hard for her - callings always are. She cares immensely for each of her 120 students. She wields control in her classroom while emanating compassion and encouragement. She takes dull, cracking leaves of children and morphs them into beautiful blossoms who exude a confidence they've never known. She is a healer, a counselor. She's a daytime mother to many and an inspiration. She speaks life into students with heart wretching stories and plants seeds of hope for their future. She is a small, but powerful force in many lives - year after year - one at time.

Teachers are often characterized by apples and chalkboards; science teachers by lab coats and bubbling beakers. But my Katie, Miss Robertson, she's a cut above the rest. My sister is a teacher who wakes each day ready to sacrifice herself - she focuses on planning during her normal bathroom breaks and meals, after school she hosts clubs in her classroom, coaches girl's basketball and pours over Pinterest for engaging lesson ideas, she spends her personal money on supplies and surprises to help make science fun, she travels to teaching conferences during the summer to learn new ways to facilitate a meaningful classroom and one student at a time, she's changing lives.

Much like Katie, Chris Emdin, a fellow science educator, is changing lives. Take a peek at his video and Katie, I'd love to see your rendition of one of his rap lessons :)

I'm sure your life, or your children's, have been touched by an influential teacher. Share your appreciation by contributing to the Teachers Change Lives Program. Follow the steps here to donate to a teacher or register your classroom through the Adopt-a-Classroom website.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Favorite Things

Spring Ride

Click the mini photos to see details and links!

I jumped ship to Polyvore for my favorite things collage - if you haven't polyvored yet, you must. It's kind of addicting and all sorts of fun.

So, my current favorites ... the earrings are my new daily go tos. I'll be sporting them at a wedding we're off to today while we swoon to Bastille on the car ride. The bike is my Mother's Day wish - only $88 at Walmart! And the reviews are decent! My mama ordered the sandals for me as a treat. Yes, I know she's the sweetest and tell her as often as I can. After trying them on though I've found I need a 1/2 size larger, so keep that in mind if you follow suit. I'll be returning and reordering through Ebates because why not earn 6% back from my Nordstrom purchases?

Succulents, duh.

And the stress relief bubble bath? I've shied away from all Bath & Body Works products but am absolutely smitten with this soft scent - eucalyptus tea. Dump me in a bath with that and you won't see for quite some time. Mostly because I'm already on to book two and have been reading in the tub every night lately. Why are dystopia stories so intriguing? Lastly, hats ... are you a hat person? I really really want to be. I may have even thrifted a similar one this week for a mere $7. Perhaps I'll wear it soon for ya'll. Maybe. And then you can all comment on my leaping fashion sense by saying, "Oh Kale Yeah" :) Let that be the precursor to a Style File of me in a hat holding a cuppa kale-infused juice. Well, I can't promise that, but I do have a yummy green juice recipe coming soon!

That wraps up my favorite things - and so "I simply remember my favorite things and then I won't feel so bad"! Not that I was, but how do you not break into song when thinking of favorite things?

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Homeschool | All About Grace

After our successful ocean life unit I was high on my horse to launch into our second homeschool theme. Except we all got sick. So, life paused for a bit. I suppose my second lesson in homeschooling was the grace it allows. Oh, and how I've needed grace. Stock in grace actually.

So, the week of and the week after Valentine's Day we studied love. Jemma was absolutely enthralled, mostly because she believes that Valentine's Day is Max's special day because his middle name is Valentine :)

Our favorite "craft" was pink playdough - an aromatherapy version that exudes love :) I also had grand intentions of making crazy hearts and some glitter projects. And then I didn't, because ... grace?

We did however fall in love with these library books ...

In February Jemma has made great strides in writing her name. Although, she has informed me that "O" is her favorite letter, so when we sit down to practice she often prefers to just do those. Oh, three year olds :)  

After all things "love", we kicked off our fire safety study and thus far, it has been the favorite. Probably because it included a field trip to a fire station :) Daily Jemma reminds me that she wants to be a fireman when she grows up. And she spouts off fire safety facts all. the. time. For example ...
"Hey Mom, when the fireman comes into our house and is yelling, 'Jemma, Jemma, little girl, where are you?' I will yell back, 'Here I am! Come save me!' Even though they look crazy."

"We DO NOT play with matches. They's DANGER-us. We run to tell our mommy."

"Fire is soooooooo hot. Do not touch. DO NOT let Max touch. I will keep him safe."
Yep, fire safety success. These books were a hit too: A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe Around Fire and Stop Drop and Roll. Truly the field trip was the best. I can already tell that Jemma is going to be an experience learner. Which is fine by me - I love outings. Max on the other hand is such a little homebody. It was super easy to schedule a visit too - I just emailed the local firehouse that three sweet lil' homeschool mamas and their kiddos were interested in a tour and that was that.

Since, we've moved into Easter mode and continued practicing name writing and letter sounds. We've also been practicing some money knowledge - names of coins, counting variations, how to earn money and best of all, what she wants to purchase with her commission. Most days it's "Belle Movie" (Beauty and the Beast) or something My Little Pony related. 

On her own accord she has started writing her name ... a backwards J, uppercase E, two M's (also known as an up-down-up-down), and a "tent with a line". She's also whipped out some people pictures - eek! The last one was of her and I holding hands. Awww .... #mamaheartexplosion

Inspired by Lacy, we made marshmallow bunnies. Jem loves all things glue and Max especially loved the flavor of this project. Yes, with my back turned for a mere moment, Max plucked 5+ marshmallows from Jem's project and gobbled them up. Glue and all. There has been a fine line between bunnies/candy/eggs and Jesus' Resurrection, but Jemma is grasping little details. We've discussed that Easter is about when Jesus died and rose again. But that always leads into questions about my middle name, which is Rose. So, yeah, maybe next year we'll understand Resurrection more :)

Last week I informed Jemma that we'd choose one more unit study before breaking for summer. I asked what she was interested in and she had obviously been thinking about it because she quickly replied, "I know, I know ... let's learn all about trees, grass, worms, sun and clouds!!!" So I think we'll be wrapping up the year with a nature study.

Honestly, this whole homeschooling thing has me shakin' in my boots. I'm wary of these younger years - the teaching to read and multiply, all the basics you really need to know. But when it feels overwhelming I'm reminded of why I want to do this - to experience learning with my children, to give them opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have. Plus, I don't have to start anything "official" or declare homeschooling intent until Jem turns 7. So until then our play will be our learning and we'll figure out all the book work eventually. Through it all I'm assuming grace will be our greatest ally. And I'm heartily welcoming her.

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