As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

August is almost here, which means that move-in time for college students is quickly approaching. Leaving for college can be stressful, especially when it’s your first time, as you’re flooded with lists stacked with items you’re supposed to bring and textbooks you’ll need to buy. To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of five must-haves for any college freshman or college student in general who’s heading back to school this fall.

Mattress Topper

mattress topper for a college studentOne of the biggest parts of your dorm is your bed. After all, you’ll spend most of your time in your dorm sleeping. However, dorm beds can be quite uncomfortable if you don’t come prepared with a mattress topper to soften the blow on your body. With LUCID’s Memory Foam Mattress Topper, you can transform the average dorm room bed into a plush and comfortable bed for sleeping. The 4-inch mattress topper is made of gel memory foam that adds a soft and comforting feel. Infused with gel material, this mattress topper captures and distributes heat for a cooler memory foam experience. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3gaFc4u

Storage Cart

Storage cart for college dorm

 

It’s no secret that some dorm rooms can be rather small. Students have to learn to utilize storage wherever they can so that their rooms don’t become overwhelmed with clothes, textbooks, and more. Luckily, there are storage containers designed to make the life of a college student easier. The Studio 3B 4-Drawer Storage Cart is one of those products. Not only is this storage cart perfect for textbooks, notebooks and other school supplies, but it can also double as a night stand for next to your bed. Plus, it has wheels, which makes it perfect for move-in. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2Bl4sFX.

 

Personal Safe

Personal safe Life with a roommate can be nerve-wracking at first, especially for students who have never shared a living space before. When it comes to your most valued items, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when sharing your room with someone else. With Master Lock’s Personal Safe, you can ensure that your expensive items remain safe and secure when you’re not in your room. This portable Personal Safe is designed with a four-digit combination that you set yourself and is shock absorbing with an earbud and charging cable access port so students can charge devices or listen to music from devices that are locked inside the safe. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2V5xkZX

LED Desk Lamp

LED desk lamp for dorm deskLet’s face it: college dorm lighting isn’t great. The lights provided can be harsh or too dim, and make it difficult to do work at night when light is no longer pouring in from the windows. Luckily, Yostyle has created the perfect desk lamp to solve this problem. With their LED Desk Lamp Light, students can adjust their lighting with the 4 adjustable brightness settings. Plus, the light has 4 USB ports and 2 outlets, allowing students to charge devices while at their desk, or wherever the light is to be placed. Don’t just settle for average dorm lighting. Make your life easier with Yostyle’s LED Desk Lamp. Buy here: https://amzn.to/31UZv22

Shower Shoes

Shower shoes for dorm bathroomThe idea of a “communal bathroom” can be frightening at first, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that bad, as long as you have one very important item: shower shoes. When utilizing a communal bathroom, you’re sharing the showers with multiple other students on your floor, so to avoid potential fungal infections, shower shoes are an essential. With Ranberone’s Shower Sandal Slippers, you can enjoy your showers without any worry. Built with drainage holes throughout the shoe, these slippers are quick-drying and are perfect for the shower, plus their anti-slip design gives your feet a good grip without any fear of slipping. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3dzBNKV

The idea of moving to college can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be! With these items you’ll be well prepared to enjoy your time this fall.

 

As a blogger, I get compensated for some of my posts when I discuss a product and someone purchases it. This is my job and how I get paid. I will not, however, recommend or discuss a product that I don’t feel is of benefit or value to my readers. My thoughts on these products are my own.

With the past few weeks being filled with high school graduations, students and parents alike are realizing that the inevitable fall semester is arriving faster than they expected. However, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, it appears that colleges and universities will be making changes to adjust to what we’ve begun to know as the “new normal”.  Below are five items that I think any and every college student could benefit from having on the new versions of their campuses.

Customizable Mask

Customized facemasks You can’t drive around your town or walk into any building without seeing at least one person wearing a mask. In fact, some states like Massachusetts have even made it illegal to walk around outside without having a mask on your face. For students, in-person classes may require you to wear a mask, so why not have one that also promotes school spirit? With Just Customized’s Reusable Customizable Mask, students can do just that. The polyester/spandex blend makes for a comfortable, breathable mask that’s made right here in the United States. It’s washable, reusable, and perfect for students who don’t want to wear a boring mask when sitting in their lecture halls. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2YtdMj5

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizerAs we all learned at the beginning of the pandemic, hand sanitizer can be hard to come by which is unfortunate considering it’s been rather crucial during this time. When on a college campus, students can come into contact with a number of things, so with PURA D’OR Cruelty Free, Non-Toxic, American-made hand sanitizer, students can be prepared to rid their hands of any germs they stumble into during their daily-life. Plus, with a two-pack, students can keep one in their backpack at all times, and the other in their dorm room so they’re always ready to sanitize. Buy here: https://amzn.to/3hxkqxs

 

Multi-Surface Cleaning Spray

Mrs Meyer's multi-surface cleaning sprayWhen it comes to college surfaces, they can be quite dirty after being touched by so many students. One important item to have in your dorm room at all times, is multi-surface cleaning spray. Whether it’s for your bedroom, kitchen, common room or bathroom, to avoid contact with COVID-19, it’s necessary to be maintaining a clean space. With Mrs. Meyer’s Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner Spray, students can ensure that their living space is clean and COVID-free constantly. This lavender scented Cruelty-Free spray is perfect for keeping those surfaces clean. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2MRdsF8

 

Food Containers

Meal prep containersDining halls are a huge part of the college experience. They’re filled with pre-made food, they’re social and they’re often scattered throughout campus, making them easy and accessible. However, they’re also crowded, filled with students who need something to eat or a place to study. During this “new normal” students may choose to eat their food elsewhere, whether that be outside where it’s safer, or in their dorm room where they feel more comfortable. With Freshware Reusable Food Containers, students can still get their food from the dining hall but have the ability to bring it somewhere else to eat. These containers are microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe, and are reusable, stackable and leak-resistant. Students will get the food they want while avoiding large crowds. Buy here: https://amzn.to/37pXs6A

Shower Caddy

Shower caddy for dorm showerOne thing that most college freshmen can look forward to is communal bathrooms. When using such bathrooms, it’s important to utilize a shower caddy. During this “new normal”, students should be careful to protect their shower items from coming in contact with other people using the communal bathrooms. With Handy Laundry’s Dorm Shower Caddy, the items stay covered in the easiest way possible. Plus, the caddy can also fold flat for storage, making it perfect for packing. Made of porous and durable nylon mesh, this shower caddy can go straight into the shower. Buy here: https://amzn.to/2UEUyFT

While this “new normal” may seem overwhelming, it’s important to remember that companies are pushing products to make it easier for you. Regardless of where your student may be going off to school, their safety is most important, but that doesn’t mean that college can’t be fun and enjoyable. Stay safe, stay healthy, and enjoy your fall semesters!

 

 

 

My daughter is graduating high school this year and for her, like so many other kids, it’s a far cry from what they imagined their senior year would look like.  Let’s face it – it sucks!  My heart breaks for the memorable events she’s missing, and I would do anything to make it better.

But as I was talking to a friend the other day, I realized a few things.  This group of seniors, whether they realize it or not,  have learned some incredibly important life lessons that will carry them far. They will be different that the Classes before them and will ultimately shape the future.  And I believe that these life lessons are way more important than any lessons they would have learned in school these past few months.

They’ve learned resiliency.  They’ve had to deal with disappointment and adapt to uncertainty.  For years now we’ve been bemoaning the generation of entitled kids, those who receive a trophy win or lose and are sheltered from setbacks. Not this group.

They’ve learned to enjoy the present moment. They didn’t know that the last day they were in school might be the final time they’re all together as a class. They will appreciate every game, competition and even party because it truly might be the last.

They’ve learned that social connections in real life are important.  For a group that spends hours Facetiming, texting, Snapchatting and living online the thing our Seniors are missing the most is spending time with their friends.  Sure, missing prom or the last day BBQ is disappointing but more than anything they simply want to be with their group of friends before they head off to college.

They’ve learned self-discipline.  Distance learning has forced kids to focus on their assignments in ways they never had to before. Without a teacher standing in front of them distractions are plenty. They will most likely be the pioneers of a generation that has less face time with supervisors and can work more productively and efficiently virtually.

They’ve learned to not take things for granted.  Just a few months ago they were shopping at the mall with their friends, going to a movie and hanging out at Starbucks and didn’t give it a second thought.  Yes, we’re a privileged society and the  Class of 2020 will recognize that more than most.  They’ve also spent more time with their siblings and parents playing games, walking the dog, making cookies and just sitting outside than most kids.  And they’ll probably tell you it’s not that bad.

This is most certainly a year they’ll be telling their kids about.  There will be stories of missed events and disappointments but hopefully there will also be stories of life lessons that changed them forever.

This Sunday is Easter.  It’s also the birthday of my sweet angel Connor, my first born who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.  He would have been 23 years old.

His birthday has only fallen on Easter once before – the first year he was gone.  I still recall the pain I felt that day.  Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays.  The beauty of spring and the hope of rebirth.  It was impossible for me to wrap my head around how this beautiful day could bring me such sadness.  All I could think about was how unfair life was that my baby wasn’t with me anymore.

And now here I am 23 years later.  Does it feel different this year?  Yes. The pain isn’t as raw.  It’s more of a dull sadness that hits me at moments I least expect.  For those of you whose grief is still new and all-consuming please know, you’ll get to where I am.  As the Executive Director of First Candle I frequently speak with families who have just experienced a loss.  They look at me with hope.  Seeing me let’s them know that somehow, they will go on.

But this isn’t a typical Easter or year.  Because of COVID 19 we’re isolated from one another and witness the struggles of so many people both financially and emotionally.  That first year I survived Connor’s birthday with the help of friends and family who surrounded me with love and hugs.  My heart breaks for families who have lost a baby and don’t have that support right now.

Today my husband’s dad is being buried.  We can’t attend because it’s too far away.  His sister will Facetime us so that we can be virtually present.

This weekend we will plant a tree in honor of Connor and his dad.  For me the tree represents hope through loss.  The year Connor died I received a Rose of Sharon plant.  Over the years it grew to over 12 feet tall.  When I looked at it, it was a reminder of just how far I had come in my own grief journey.  We moved from that home so now we will plant a new tree and our grief journey will continue.

My life is divided into two parts  – before my son’s death and after. Connor was my first child and he died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at 3 months and 24 days. I barely remember the person I was. I do know that I was carefree and naive and at the same time arrogant. Arrogant to believe that unspeakable tragedy could only happen to other people. I credit Connor’s death with making me empathetic – for recognizing that everyone has a story and if we open ourselves up to people we connect through our vulnerabilities.  

The time between his birth and death is also a blur – after all it was only four short months.  I remember the normal first-time mom anxieties of worrying how to hold him to give him his first bath. But I also remember quickly falling into a wonderful routine.  His death was like a bomb exploding – it happened so quickly without any warning.  What began as a perfectly ordinary day changed in a second with the phone call from the daycare provider who uttered one of only two sentences I remember from that day; “There’s a problem with the baby. He’s not breathing.”  After that it was the chaos after the explosion and all that was left was me standing in the rubble of my life. 

As the CEO of First Candle I speak to hundreds of bereaved parents – some within days of their baby’s death and others many years later. The new ones always ask me the same question – “When do you start feeling better?” There’s never an easy answer to that. Again, it’s similar to the bomb analogy. The initial pain and trauma thankfully don’t last forever but there are times when it comes back such as seeing your friends’ babies who are the same age your child would have been. The first birthday after your child has died and the first anniversary of his death are especially painful and instantly take a parent back to that day when life changed forever.

Researchers now agree that the grief a parent experiences after the loss of a child is a type of PTSD.  I was one of the lucky ones – I had the support of my community, family, friends and co-workers.  Others aren’t as fortunate. There are parents who, after their baby has died, must deal with insensitive investigators and state workers and are forced to re-enact the time of death using a baby doll. Families who face the reality of having their living children removed from their home because they are suspected of abuse. Recovering from these experiences takes years and even decades.

For the first year after Connor’s death I wouldn’t let anyone take a picture of me.  I just couldn’t bare to see how sad, old and tired I looked.  Physical ailments are common among bereaved parents.  Grief causes our immune system to crash and induces chemical reactions in the body what can last over a long period of time.

  • Digestive problems such as loss of appetite or overeating
  • Sleepiness and sleeplessness
  • Heartache and chest pain
  • Forgetfulness and memory loss
  • Cognitive changes including general confusion and difficulty concentrating
  • Emotional changes including sadness, crying, and prolonged weeping
  • Respiratory problems including shortness of breath and asthma
  • Panic attacks; i.e., sweating, rapid heartbeat, numbness, and tingling
  • Confusion with an associated feeling of loss of control or a feeling of “losing one’s mind”

I became pregnant very quickly after Connor died which was the right decision for our family, but my second son has intellectual disabilities and to this day I wonder if it’s due to the stress of grief I was experiencing. 

As a society we’re not good at dealing with grief and it can ruin relationships. The rate of divorce is high among parents who have lost a baby. Men and women often express grief in different ways and it’s difficult to understand if a spouse appears to not care or shut down. We often receive calls from men who are afraid to grieve in front of their partner because they feel they need to be “the strong one.”  Months after my son died a friend was talking about how exhausting it is to have a toddler. I felt like screaming that I wish I had the chance to be that exhausted and had difficulty getting over what I perceived as an insensitive and thoughtless comment.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. If you’ve experienced a loss, what advice would you give to a newly-bereaved family?  Share below.

On Sunday I spent three hours with my daughter helping her overcome fear.  She’s an All-Star cheerleader and, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the sport, it’s nothing like sideline cheer.  It’s extremely competitive and requires a great deal of strength as there’s a lot of tumbling involved.  My daughter’s been doing one of these tumbling moves for several year and then, one day, she couldn’t do it anymore.  It’s not because she injured herself, it’s because she developed a mental block.  Suddenly, she had an all-consuming fear of doing it.  Something that used to come so easy to her was literally impossible for her to do.  Or so she thought.

A mental block isn’t uncommon in the All-Star cheer world.  At some point though, the athlete needs to overcome it. 

Both her coaches and her older sister (who is an also an All-Star cheerleader) worked with her in every way to get her to “just throw it.” Over the past few weeks it’s been building up in her head until now it’s a big thing.  Like a REALLY big thing.  Losing her skills has consumed her (and me) to the point that she’s in tears every day.  If she doesn’t through her tumble pass her coaches will be forced to take her off the team.

So yesterday, in the sweltering heat, I sat there watching her on the trampoline trying to force herself to throw her back handspring.  I encouraged, I threatened, I tried to piss her off – anything to JUST DO IT.

Her sister and I both told her, all the classes in the world won’t help, she simply must decide that her fear of doing it will not overpower her love of cheer.  There was about an hour of her screaming “I’m TRYING” and me screaming back “DON’T TRY JUST DO!” I’m sure my neighbors think I’m a horrible mom.

And then, after three hours, something clicked, and she did it.  And then she did it again.  And again.  She stopped trying and just did it.

That really is what it comes down to with fear isn’t it?  You can’t try you just need to do.  Whether it’s tumbling, leaving an unhappy marriage, quitting a job or anything else that brings fear, at some point you need to realize that “trying” isn’t going to change the situation.  It requires action.  Yes, taking action against fear is hard – it’s like standing at the edge of the diving board and deciding you will take that next step and dive in.

What are you trying to change in your life?  What action do you just need to do?  Share your story and let’s support each other.

Last night I spent time researching colleges with my 16 year-old daughter.  She commented that she’s anxious to figure out which colleges she wants to apply to and get it done.  She can’t wait for college.

She’s ready to take the next step in her life.

I’m just not sure I am.

Recently, we were with some friends and I was reminiscing about something cute she had done and her comment – with the requisite eye-roll – was “Mom, I was..like.. 12!” To me it feels like yesterday.

I wish I had every minute of her life on video so I could look back. Trying to capture moments on my phone has never been my thing however.  I don’t want to put something between me and living the experience but now I think back and I’m sad because there are so many moments I can’t remember.

Probably one of the reasons for my memory lapses is the stress I was under.  When she was young I was going through some major drama –a divorce, major financial problems, my current husband was diagnosed with MS and my dad was disappearing into Alzheimers.  I had a lot on my plate and it was difficult not to simply be in survival mode.  I try to live without regrets but I wish I had been better able to put those feelings aside and focus on the good stuff.  To breathe in every scent, feel every touch, view every smile and hear every laugh.

At the same time that I’m trying to capture every moment with my older daughter, I want to also be present for my younger daughter.  It’s a tightrope walk, especially for someone who was an only child and had my parent’s sole attention.

There are so many “firsts” and “lasts” coming my way it’s sometimes overwhelming.  But I know I need to embrace them and let life play itself out.

I think back to when I moved to Los Angeles when I was 22 and wonder how my mom let me go.  I had no idea how hard that must have been.  When I asked her about it recently she simply said that she knew it was the right thing to do.

So, like her I’ll let her go when I need to and accept that it’s a new chapter in both our lives.

 

 

Disclaimer  – I have a material and/or financial connection because I received a gift, sample of a product and/or compensation for consideration in preparing to write this content. All opinions stated within are my own.

It seems as if our lives are now made up of finding even the smallest ways to save time.  From smart devices that will lock your doors and turn off lights to being able to simply push a button and having your dog food arrive at your door the next day, every second counts when you’re trying to fit all the “to-dos” into one day.  Even pre-measured items such as meal delivery kits and home cleaning items shave time off your busy schedule and ensure you’re always using the right amount of a product.

One of the items I always have automatically delivered to my house these days are liquid laundry packets.  There’s never a need to guess whether you used the right amount of detergent or if you’re close to running out – you know when you’re down to your last one or two.  While these products are convenient and effective, parents, grandparents and babysitters need to be careful when it comes to using and storing liquid laundry packets. As a blogger who focuses on family and child safety, I’ve always been vigilant on making sure that I store liquid laundry packets up and away every time, even in between loads.  This has since become habit for everyone else in my house doing laundry, too.  Whether you have toddlers or not, you certainly can have friends and relatives visiting who bring their little ones along, so making laundry safety a habit is important.

Now in its sixth year, the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) created the Packets Up! campaign to educate parents and caregivers about the importance of properly using and storing liquid laundry packets out of sight and away from children.  They have worked with public safety officials and consumer groups to put in place a series of packaging and labeling measures as part of a new standard that can help reduce accidental exposure.

ACI recently conducted a national survey among 1,000 parents and caregivers to learn more about laundry routine habits. What they found is that about 15% of families with kids under the age of four allow their kids to help put liquid laundry packets into the washing machine drum and 19% store them on an open shelf.

Especially as we’re getting ready to start spring cleaning around the house, ACI is encouraging all parents and caregivers to organize their laundry rooms and make sure their liquid laundry packets are stored safely. To help, they have a Packets Up! website where you can order clings for the front of your washer and dryer (as well as those of friends and family) that remind everyone, including Grandma, babysitters and spouses, to put always keep liquid laundry packets up and out of sight from children.  Check out this video, Through Their Eyes, on the ACI site to understand how to keep toddlers safe by seeing the world from their perspective.

Most importantly, be sure everyone in the house understands these important safety messages

  • Accidents can happen in an instant, never let children handle laundry packets.

  • Children are naturally curious, and they explore the world with their mouths.

  • Proper storage and handling of liquid laundry packets is essential in preventing accidental exposures.

  • Liquid laundry packets can be harmful if swallowed or get in the eyes.

  • Keep laundry packets up and away. Always store them out of sight and reach of young children.

  • Always keep laundry packets in their original container and close the container securely after each use.

  • Call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if there is an accident.

ACI would love to have everyone share the message of why they put their #PacketsUp.  For me, we adopted a puppy three months ago.  He’s the reason why I put my #PacketsUp because he chews everything!  And while I don’t have toddlers anymore in the house, my daughters babysit all the time and need to be aware of this when they watch toddlers.  I put my #PacketsUp so my teens remember this important message when they’re babysitting.  What’s your reason?  Share your #PacketsUp story below and help spread the word!

Visit packetsup.com and follow #PacketsUp on Facebook and Twitter for more information.