Secret Sisters by Sandra Byrd Review

Secret Sisters: (se’-krit sis’-terz) n. Two friends who choose each other to be everything a real sister should be: loyal and loving. They share with and help each other no matter what!
 
I have to disclose that Sandra Byrd sent my daughter, who is seven, the kindle edition of this series to review and give her opinion free of charge.  I also have to inform you that this review is not written by a seven year old but by her mother based on her opinion, actions and reactions. 
 
Secret Sisters is a six volume series of books that are written with girls between eight and 12 years old in mind.  My daughter, Drama, is only seven but reads on a much older level.  She still has the maturity level of a seven year old.
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She started off with the second book.  We wanted to know if a girl would be confused by not reading the first story.  Drama did not have any issues reading series out of order.  She loves Secret Sisters and has filled me in on the stories many times over.  I hear her talking about which one of her friends will be her Secret Sister.  I have heard all about Tess losing her mother’s jewelry and Drama promises me she will never do that to me.  I know it will happen though, it is almost a right of passage to lose your mother’s jewelry.
Each of the six volumes in this exciting series for girls aged 8-12 contains two complete books. Come along with Tess and Erin and they visit a dude ranch, spend time at the beach, sign up for modeling school and have the surprise of a lifetime at an Indian reservation.
Each volume includes everything tweens want in a book: fun, friends, family, faith and a fast-pace. Go ahead – give them a try! Click links to download a sample read from any volume.”
I don’t think your daughter has to be eight years old in order to read an enjoy the Secret Sisters series.  However, don’t try to throw your kindergartener or first grader in here if she is struggling to read.  You should pay attention to your daughter’s skill level.  There are a few other series by Sandra Byrd that I will be adding to our library since I have three girls in my house.  I don’t think you can have enough books!
Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free or monetary compensation in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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Or, In Which You See My Messy Kitchen!

By Messy Mama Traci

There are less than 100 days until Christmas! I know I love to savor every season and the holidays they bring, but there is also a lot to be said for planning ahead. If you are looking for a fun and memorable gift for a hard to buy person on your list, I think the Soda Stream could be a great fit. Also, at 25 cents per serving, it could be a fantastic investment if you already enjoy carbonated or flavored drinks on a regular basis.

I am so grateful to the folks at Soda Stream for allowing our little family to enjoy their fantastic product! Since we are not big soda drinkers and only a few of our kids enjoy Sprite some of the time, it was quite a novelty to have a huge amount of flavors we could make in any amount, big or small, on a whim. If we were big soda drinkers to begin with, I could easily see purchasing another down the road both for ourselves and as gifts. I have since noticed Soda Streams available for sale at my Kroger near the other kitchen gadgets.

It is slim, light, easy to handle whether you leave it on your counter or put it away until you are entertaining.

Just so that I can keep my Messy Mama status real here, I will show you where it landed in my kitchen, conveniently shown with the cereal box to give you point of reference as to size and scale. To my credit, Cuddle Bear was home sick with me this particular morning with a pesky virus and my youngest, Wild Cat, not yet in preschool, was happy to have a buddy to “home school” and thus the lovely artwork you see drying on said counter top! Also, this is the only area of my counter that doesn’t have cabinets above, so I did find myself wishing it was a few inches shorter somehow just so that I could keep it in different places, but other than that it really is a very convenient and slim design.

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Extra credit if you spy the little orange inhaler! Ugh that was a Messy Week!

And it hides nicely in one of my lower cabinets when not in use.

Anyhow, we have already brought it along to an afternoon football game gathering with friends as well, which was fun to share, especially since it was easy to transport and set up with the rest of the food and drinks. It just added a festive element that was fun conversation piece and a huge hit with the kids especially.

For me, the most appealing part was not standing at the store debating how many varieties and how many of each variety of drinks to bring along! So much less hassle buying heavy 2 liters at the store since with the Soda Stream, you just set out the flavors and simply use cold tap water or filtered water. This way we only make servings as needed and even at your preferred level of carbonation with three options available. I am really thrilled to be well stocked with drinks for entertaining without having an assortment of heavy 12 to 24 packs or 2 liters in my basement pantry!

They have over 60 flavors way beyond the typical soda flavors (although I really liked their root beer!) including flavored teas, Splash V8 and Crystal Light, just to name a few, here is a link to their flavors page for their whole line up. Flavors can be added either by individual caps per 1 liter of water or by capfuls from their larger Soda Mix bottles that provide flavor for 12 liters of soda. I found both to be very convenient and they are both recyclable.

Their regular flavors contain no high-fructose corn syrup, and are lower in calories than national brands. Diet flavors are sweetened with Splenda® brand sweetener, not aspartame.

Less waste is another thing I really appreciate about the soda stream, both less packaging and less transportation costs in getting the traditional soda options from the store. Our kids keep us very environmentally conscious and I like having another way to make environmentally considerate choices.

Of course water is always the healthiest, cheapest, mostly environmentally friendly option but I would bet that most of us or someone we know does enjoy soda or flavored drinks on even just an occasional basis. I would highly recommend visiting their website if you think you or someone you know would enjoy this product, it is very easy to use and very well designed!

 

$50 Amazon & Old Spice Fiji Head to Toes Prize Pack

$50 Amazon & Old Spice Fiji Head to Toes Prize Pack
Giveaway Host: Reviewz & Newz
Sposored by:  Double Duty Divas and Old Spice
I love Old Spice!  It reminds me of my father growing up.  I know this is a new scent and it isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago but I am a brand lover and Old Spice holds a special place in my heart.

Some things are just better together! The manliest men’s grooming brand on the planet is back to inform guys that when they use Old Spice antiperspirant/deodorant, body wash and shampoo together, the result is a manly, amazing, irresistible freshness from head to toes.
Whether at the beach in Fiji or closer to home, your man can’t go wrong with cool sunglasses and Old Spice. See for yourself here: Old Spice Soccer  Celebrate great combinations with Old Spice Fiji scent line up PLUS shades of his choice (via Amazon.com).

WIN The Old Spice Fiji Colllection


The Old Spice Fiji Head to Toes Prize Pack includes:
·         $50 Amazon.com Gift Card
·         Antipersiprant/Deodorant (1 stick)
·          Deodorant (1 stick)
·         Body Wash (1 bottle)
·         Bar Soap (1 pack)
·         2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner (1 bottle)
·         Body Spray (1 can)

And this $50 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This review and giveaway was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Old Spice. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.


Kids Embrace Combination Car Seat Review + Win It!

Since all the children are heading back to school we as parents tend to update a lot. WE update school supplies, shoes, clothes and other items. Why not check to see if you need to update the car seat you are using also? Kids Embrace sent me a free Combination Toddler/Booster Seat for FB and me to test out and report back to you what I found. She is very girly when trying to keep up with her big sisters or when pretending to be a princess. However, she has fallen in LOVE with her Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle (TMNT) car seat from Kids Embrace.

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Prior to having the TMNT Car Seat she would hem and haw about getting into her seat. Once or twice there were a few tears. Now, once she is in her seat she stays but it is a hassle trying to get her there with a handful of grocery bags or other items in tow. Since we’ve installed the TMNT car seat she races to the seat even calling out to her sisters “I get the Turtle Car Seat!”

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I like how simple it was to install. I might have a leg up though, in the past eight years I have installed dozens of car seats in cars for my children. I do recommend that you check with your local fire department as they usually have one or two staff that are certified to install car seats properly. I should be certified with all the experience that I have. The five point harness position offers features like a one-handed harness adjustment. The five point harness is for children 22 to 65 pounds, while the combination booster car seat accommodates children 30 to 100 pounds. I feel safer with the deeper headrest with EPS foam for improved side impact protection.

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I’m that crazy overly cautious mama who will keep her children the five point harness car seat for absolutely as long as safely possible. Please be careful, if you are like me, not all combination seats allow you to have your child in a five point harness up to 65 pounds. As much as we mamas want to keep our children safe, if you are going against the manufacturer’s suggested uses then you are most likely putting your child at risk for injury or death. If the car seat is only good for a five-point harness up to 40 pounds, do not use it through 45 pounds because you feel better. The seats are made specifically for certain sized children.

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Another score for me on this car seat is that the cover is removable and machine washable!  Win for mama!  I don’t generally allow my children to eat in the car.  However, FB will find any pile of dirt or mud and make it her home as long as possible.  So, needless to say, I have had to clean a lot of car seats in the past.

How can you not love the TMNT Car Seat? I mean, I grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles saving the day and now my children know who they are. Plus, if your eight year old is embarrassed to give you a kiss when you drop them in front of school then chances are they don’t want to climb into a car seat in front of their friends. However, give them a car seat with their favorite character featured and they will race to get in the seat before their sibling gets there. Oh, yes, if you have more than one child, you’ll want to get more than one character car seat from Kids Embrace otherwise, you’ll just have bickering.

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For now we have the TMNT Kids Embrace seat, but Mr. Messy hasn’t seen the newest Spiderman Car Seat recently released by Kids Embrace! One lucky reader will win a TMNT Car Seat from Kids Embrace! Must be 18+ and a resident of the Continental U.S.A. Good Luck!!!!

So tell me, who do you think would like to have the combination TMNT car seat from Kids Embrace above?

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free or monetary compensation in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

 

Back to School Week: Smoobee Review

By Messy Mama Traci

School starts this week!! For my four sweet children, like many of yours, returning to school means we all must be out the door at 8 a.m. sharp with backpacks and lunches packed, teeth brushed, and presentable clothes and for my only daughter, presentable hair.

However, this summer the sun and chlorine have taken a toll on her hair to the point where she insisted she liked how it looked “curly” when she didn’t brush it. We twirled buns and twisted ponytails out of the tangled mess, plopped a headband on top and kept moving through our busy summer days. I knew this was not going to fly for school mornings but milked summer for all it was worth.

This lovely package came not a moment too soon and I was so excited to open it!!

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But I did not, because Little Miss Sunshine could do that herself too. This was 100% all hers, no mom needed and for this category that was a welcome change of pace.

Even the packaging is kid friendly. Two pieces, no staples nor fused seams, no sharp edges, just cardboard backing with plastic cover that slides off.

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I received this product for free to review and I was both excited and nervous, this is my first review and I was hoping I would only have good things to say but concerned this adorable brush was up against one tough test subject.

A few weeks prior, Messy Mama Amy had brushed and braided my daughter’s hair at her house with her Smoobee without so much as a peep of complaint but she also had some fancy oil to smooth the tangles. Plus kids are always nicer to adults that are not their parents. Now it was just me, the brush and Little Miss Sunshine with her freshly chlorinated tangled mane after yet another afternoon of swimming, flipping, jumping without a care in the world.

I had a feeling the maker of this product must be a pretty smart lady and likely a mother of daughters. For about $3 an irresistible bag of “bling” can personalize this amazing tool. Little Miss Sunshine has never met a craft she doesn’t love, particularly ones that involve pink and sparkles.

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I forgot to get a before photo to show just how crazy her hair started, but I figured I could just give this a shot first and then if it flopped I would level the playing field by at least washing her hair and give the poor Smoobee a fighting chance. Shower averted for yet another day because Little Miss Sunshine jumped right into using her personalized treasure and I still had not touched a bit of it!

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Done! If I had more daughters I would have more Smoobees. I received this one free to review but I know what I am getting for the next little girl gift on my list. It is a gift to the whole family. We have no more tears, no more dreading when I can catch her still to make her hair presentable, I just remind her to grab her Smoobee to smooth out her hair and it looks great, I am just thrilled! It is made of solid wood and ceramic so it is high quality and durable, it feels like a special treasure and it showed in the princess like manner my daughter handles it, it is much more than just another hairbrush. School mornings just got a lot easier and with two weeks of summer left the timing was absolutely perfect. Thank you Smoobee!!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free or monetary compensation in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Back To School Week – Go Green Lunch Box Review & Giveaway

School starts tomorrow for the Messy Girls and we could not be more giddy. My favorite back to school product so far is lunch box that I was given to review from Go Green Lunch Box. When I first opened the boxed my immediate thought was that it was too nice to send with my second grader. I mean look at just how pretty it is! Then I started opening it and I thought “wow, what have I been missing?”

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Let me explain what I’m talking about. Last year I purchased a special character lunch box for almost $20. Within five months of using it for school lunches alone it had several rips and tears and I was really nervous about it lasting the rest of the year. I spent money on zip lock bags, water bottles and other snack sized products. Plus, all of this is thrown into landfills! According to Go Green Lunch Box the average American child can generate 67 pounds of lunch packaging waste each school year. WOW! Let’s stop that now and save some cash!

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The Go Green Lunch Box only costs $34.99. That might seem a little steep for a lunch box, at least it did to me at first. However, when you add up what you spend in one year on lunch boxes and packing materials, it’s either the same or less. Then, this is high quality. It will more than likely last more year. I can’t actually state that it does since I haven’t actually had it for a school year, but I’d be willing to bet that if you check with me in August 2015 we will be using this exact Go Green Lunch Box again. Plus, if something does go wrong with it, they sell replacement parts right down to the cap for the water bottle.

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About:

“In 2008, Go Green Lunch Box was founded simply out of “frustration.” Packing two lunches everyday, I was appalled at the amount of waste generated by the packaging of single-serve items (sandwiches, juices, snacks, desserts, etc.). All of that – plastic baggies/wrap/cups, paper cartons/bags, cellophane bags – eventually wound up in our landfills. Upon reading a statistic about a typical American child generating 67 pounds of lunch packaging waste each school year, I knew I had to make some changes. After buying food containers and trying, unsuccessfully, to fit all the containers into the lunch boxes we already owned, resulting in either the lids or containers (or both!) not being brought back home from school, I decided to solve the problem . . . hence, Go Green Lunch Box!”

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I am so in love with the Go Green Lunch Box I’ve received that I am purchasing a second for my first grader. It hasn’t arrived yet but we are watching for it everyday. My second grader has no problem opening and closing her Go Green Lunch Box. I like the way it locks. There is a little arrow on the top that turns from “open” to “closed” and if it’s pointed towards closed you can’t open the lid. That’s awesome! It’s just a little extra measure to make sure your children don’t do what children do and spill the contents all over.  I really love the dry erase board too.  I can write a different note for my sweet girl everyday!

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One very LUCKY reader will win their own Go Green Lunch Box. Enter on the form below – winner must be 18+ and a resident of the continental U.S.A. Good luck!!!

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Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free or monetary compensation in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Back To School Week – Keysocks Review + Win It!

As kids head back to class all across the country we mamas try to keep up with trends. It’s hard to do for ourselves much less for our children. One of the trends in recent years has caused a major dilemma in the Messy House. It’s the ballet slipper shoes! Those cute and comfy, or so you thought, flats!  So, I was super excited to be given Keysocks for a review.

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I love them on little girls and on grown up girls too! My biggest problem though and where Drama and I butt heads is that I don’t like them with socks! I don’t think those adorable shoes should have ugly socks in the way of them. Not that I think all girls should worry about it, I see little girls wearing them with socks all the time and it still looks adorable. It’s kind of like my thoughts on little girls wearing dresses to the playground. I think it’s fine for all the little girls I see in dresses and skirts but I just can’t dress my girls like that for playgrounds. I just can’t put socks on myself or my girls with those cute ballet slippers.

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Well, then you run into all sorts of other problems: blisters, sweaty feet, hot feet and all around yucky feet. Apparently though, I’m not the only one out there with this problem. Shelby McKee solved my problem with Keysocks!

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In 2009, Keysocks founder Shelby Mckee was getting ready to go to a Cincinnati Bengals football game on a brisk fall Sunday. Wanting to wear flats and with the temperature falling, she realized she needed “no show” socks. Traditional footies always fell off her feet or scrunched up and never provided warmth, so armed with scissors and sheer genius, she cut a hole in her husband’s knee-high dress sock and the Keysock was born!

Shelby recruited her two sisters, Stefanie and Christy, and began working to build the first and only no show knee high sock. Keysocks have brought style and comfort to women and girls all over the world desiring to wear flats or heels with pants. Keysocks are the ultimate solutions for keeping your feet comfortable without showing you are wearing socks.”

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I’ve worn the Keysocks around the office several times.  I’ve shown them off and every time another woman sees them the reaction is the same!  They gasp and rave about how cool they are.  The first question is “do they stay put” and my answer has been “YES!!!!”  Keysocks have been a blessing and my feet would like to send Shelby and her sisters a great big THANK YOU!   Not only are they for women but they are for girls too!  I love the cute styles they offer as well.

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One lucky reader will win four pair:  2 pair of women’s keysocks and 2 pair of girls’ keysocks!  Enter by the form below, winner must be 18+ and a resident of the Continental U.S.A.

GOOD LUCK!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free or monetary compensation in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Back To School Week – Stuffed Backpack Giveaway


BACK TO SCHOOL PENTEL STUFFED BACKPACK


GIVEAWAY HOSTED BY: REVIEWZ & NEWZ
GIVEAWAY SPONSOR: PENNY WISE

I was elated to receive this backpack stuffed with Pentel products for another back to school giveaway from Penny Wise.  This Ogio Metro backpack was stuffed full of pens, mechanical penciils, lead, erasers, executive pen and pencil set colored pencils, and many other items, all from Pentel.

Photo courtesy of Pentel

I know how expensive school supplies can be so I am happy that one lucky fan will win this backpack STUFFED with Pentel products.

Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.  Don’t forget to come back for the daily entries!

Reviewz & Newz is not responsible for shipment of prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: Confessions of a Messy Mama has not received any compensation for this post and is not responsible for prize shipment.

Back To School Week – Lee Jeans

// Back to School is a stressful time for us mamas. Sometimes in the chaos of it all we forget to take care of ourselves. Our children need back to school clothes, yes, but we could use something nice for ourselves too. Thank goodness Lee takes care of both your children and you! This year Lee sent me a pair of jeans for Drama and for me to try.

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Drama received the Bonnie Skinny Bootcut jean to keep her in style!  I love these jeans on her.  I have to admit that they have to be hemmed.  She is only seven years old but like a lot of children her age she wears a few sizes up to fit her.  That also means the pants she gets are usually a little long.  That’s okay though, it’s a simple fix and one that I expected.

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I decided to try the new Curvy Fit by Lee.  I asked for the Curvy Fit Sadie Bootcut Series (in petite since I am only five foot tall) and I am so glad I chose those!  I couldn’t be happier with the fit all over!   The length of jeans is usually off even if I get petite, believe it or not sometimes petites are too short for me.  I know, I don’t get it!

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“Curvy Fit:  Tilted rise, no gap waistband and Shape Memory highlight your curves for a flattering fit.”

These fit everywhere PERFECTLY!  I usually have some problem with pants fitting my rear end and thighs but not my waist. This is so frustrating for a mama of a toddler, well for any woman really!  I am in love with the No Gap Waistband!  I love love love it!  The waist doesn’t come up to my chest but it also isn’t so low that I have to have a long shirt on to sit down.  It’s amazing and I am seriously in love with these jeans!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free or monetary compensation in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Back To School Week – Penny Wise and Win It!

Some parents literally start singing “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” when August rolls around.  That is until they have to start shopping for school supplies again!  I am exhausted from the fun of Summer by the time August rolls around but I guess I miss my girls so much while they are at school that I am still excited to have them all to myself again!  Shopping for school supplies for more than one child is exhausting too!  Penny Wise Office Products has eased a little of my stress by sending me some items!

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I love the selection of products that Penny Wise Office Products offers.  The supplies offered are more for older school children, college students and offices but they still have some things that elementary students need.  Thanks to Penny Wise my 1st graders has the Avery binder she needs and I won’t need to worry about either replacing it in the middle of the year or (gasp) duct taping it to get it through the rest of the school year!

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I also received a Zebra Backpack filled with Zebra writing instruments.  Unfortunately though, now I am a pen snob!  Oh, these pens write so beautifully smooth and the grip is amazing!  There are so many different styles to choose from too!   My favorite is the Zebra Styluspen and is exactly what it sounds like.  It’s a pen on one side and a stylus (for your phone and other touch screen device) on the other.

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The girls of course went crazy over the Zebra 28 Pack of Mechnical Pencils.  They have such fun designs on them and my girls were totally stoked that they didn’t have to sharpen their pencils.  I am jealous a little too since my mechanic pencils growing up never looked this fun!mechanical pencils

All the choices of writing instruments kind of made Mr. Messy’s head spin.  He thought he knew all their was to know about pens.  He’s a long time pen snob (I am new to the club but catching on quickly).  There is fine print and medium print.  You can get “Advanced Ink” with Low Viscosity Ink.  There are also pens with Evolutionary Rapid Dry Ink (no smear/no smudge)!

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One lucky reader will get the same Zebra backpack that I received filled with lots of Zebra goodies also!  Please enter below.  Must be a resident of the Continental U.S.A. and 18+.  Good Luck!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or Services mentioned above for free or monetary compensation in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.