Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Illinois Field Moms

Remember the days of elementary school field trips? Some of my favorites were always the outdoors ones, whether it was visiting a farm or a zoo or an old homestead for school or Girl Scouts. I loved being outside, and I loved feeling a little bit more connected to my life and especially where my food came from.

As an adult, I've enjoyed chaperoning field trips, and one of my favorites was the Waggoner Farm field trip in Glenview, Illinois where we visited an 1800s farm and learned all about how it worked. Yes, the kids even churned their own butter to put on crackers. I thought it was pretty cool, too, and I learned why some chickens make brown eggs and some white eggs.

Now you have a chance to do the same kind of thing with the Illinois Field Moms program. They are currently recruiting applicants to come learn about Illinois farms and where we get our food. It's a grown up sort up, field trip, and pretty cool, I think. As a field mom, you'll have a chance to go visit various farms and ask any question your heart could desire. The tours will take place on Saturdays, with transportation provided to and from Chicago. Even better for moms? Reasonable childcare and transportation expenses will be reimbursed - making things even easier!

Each Field Mom will be provided with a video camera to capture the tour and what she's learned so that you can share your adventure with other people. You do not need to be a blogger to participate, although the Illinois Farm Families will ask that you post about your experience on their blog. There may also be some media opportunities to share what you learned and saw.

The exact farms and types of tours will vary based on what the Field Moms are interested in seeing, which will make it all the more interesting. There are opportunities to see beef, pork, dairy, corn, soybean, and more farms at different points in the life cycle. Tours will occur starting this fall and continue through early next summer to allow the Field Moms a chance to see the work done during different seasons.

Why are the Illinois Farm Families doing this? They know that consumers, especially moms, have questions about how their food is grown and are interested in taking an opportunity to answer those questions one-on-one. As they said, "We’re proud of what we do, and we’re opening our doors to show you how we grow and raise your food."

They are looking for Chicago area moms over the age of 18 who have at least one child under the age of 13 living at home. Obviously an interest in learning about where our food comes from is key! They are taking applications through August 21 at the Watch Us Grow website.

Go. Apply. Have fun (and good luck!). And tell them I sent you. If you have any questions, shoot me an email which you can find on my about me page or you can email info (at) watchusgrow (dot) org.

There will also be a meetup on on August 8 at 7pm to learn more about the program. While it isn't required that you attend the event to apply, but it's a great opportunity to learn more about the program. There will be fun, food and wine - and possibly some fun giveaways, too. You can learn more on their Facebook page - and please RSVP if you're able to go so they can plan for the right number!

I hope to see you there!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been compensated as part of being an ambassador for the Illinois Field Mom program. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Giveaway: BusyBodyBook Organizer

It's the middle of July. In my household, that means it's time to start working on the calendar for the next school year. With the wee ones in school - and my husband as a schoolteacher - my life revolves around the start of the school year. I remember the days when my calendars started in January, but that ship has sailed. My biggest problem in recent years has been trying to coordinate my schedule with my husband's schedule with each of the wee ones' schedules (that are shockingly filling up as they enter school) to ensure that everyone arrives in the right place at the right time and ... we have adequate child care coverage.

Trust me, it's been a problem in my house.

My husband writes something illegible across an entire square of a day, leaving me no room to write anyone else's information. He has a nasty habit of writing "no school" in a square, leaving me to guess later if it's him who has no school, Little Miss who has no school, or Mister Man who has no school - or possibly a combination of the above? It's lovely when I have three people at three different schools, let me tell you. Our calendar has been the source of more than one "disagreement" between my husband and me.

That's stopped for the most part as of last year. I wrote about my BusyBodyBook Organizer and how much easier it was making my life. We'll ignore the part about how one has to actually look at the calendar for it to work properly - witness my husband "forgetting" today to take Mister Man to tae kwon do, although it was on the calendar under Mister Man's box and I reminded him before I headed into the city. Some things apparently can't be fixed by the BusyBodyBook ... yet.

I am still thrilled with the book. The 2011-12 version (which comes both in calendar year and academic year versions) has the same great column idea as the 2010-11 version. It still runs from the first week of August to the first week of September - and thank goodness for the overlap, because we do have activities scheduled into September already, yikes! It has the to do lists both on each week for reminders of what I have to do at a given point in time and that are perforated so that I can rip them out and hand them to others as reminders or use as my shopping lists.

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It even has features that I don't use but that I can see being really useful to others. There are pages to notate recurring dates like birthdays and anniversaries you need to track. There is a month at a glance calendar for the current year (I have a hard enough time writing information down once; it isn't going to happen a second time!), and there is a place to start writing down the plans for the next calendar year as you start edging into that "uh-oh, I have something coming up in six months but my calendar doesn't stretch that far" phase. Sadly, I know me, and I need to write those on the last page of my current calendar rather than being more efficient and writing them on the month for a future calendar as the BusyBodyBook obviously urges. Old habits die hard.

I appreciate that the calendar comes in four different designs - two each for the academic year and calendar year versions - though I never close my book. It is always open to the current week, so I had to actually close my 2010-11 version to even see what my design is. The ones for 2011-12 are new ones, interestingly, perhaps to help ensure you can keep track of which is the current year and which is the next year? My biggest issue with the BusyBodyBook last year is that the bookmark in the calendar was not very sturdy. I moved it once to a new week, and I could never get it to stick in the book again. They took this feedback to heart, and I've tested out the calendar book mark a few times now, and it's much more sturdy and has yet to fall out of the book - even when I shook it sideways. Yay!

The book remains a great size, meaning I can fit it in my purse (10"x7") so keep track of my calendar and commitments while at meetings. Oh and remember those to do lists and weekly notes (or "to doodles" as they're called - it still cracks me up)? Let's just say that those have saved me more than once when I forgot a notepad.

Of course if there were a way to attach a pen to the BusyBodyBook, I'd like it even better. Having a notepad and calendar to write down information is only helpful if and when I have a writing utensil or can beg/borrow/steal one. Even an elastic loop on the front cover would be great. The only other change I'd make to this calendar would be to make the upper right hand corner perforated so I can tear off the top at the conclusion of each week and be able to mark my spot. It's a little easier than the book mark - and my preferred method - although the book mark will work much better this year now that I won't lose it the second time I open my BusyBodyBook.

Are you ready for your own five column calendar to help you organize your life, be it work versus personal life or each child or your co workers or various projects you're working on, I can see this being supremely useful for lots of folks. Better yet, you can buy your BusyBodyBook for $17.95 or you can win your very own copy here because I have a copy to give away! So what do you have to do to win? First of all, let me stress that you must follow all the rules. If you do not follow the rules, your entry will not count!

This contest is open until Tuesday August 2 at 7pm CST. I must have a valid way to reach you, so leave me your email address in your comment or be sure your profile has your email address visible. No duplicate comments will count. This giveaway is open to US residents age 18 and older. Winners will be selected via and must respond within 48 hours of being notified by me or I will select a new winner.

Mandatory Entry: Tell me - what is your biggest calendar challenge?

Bonus Entries (leave a comment for each entry - if you put it all in one comment, I'll count it as one entry):

1) Earn one additional entry for following me on Twitter, then tweeting this contest with the following tweet: "Need to get your life together? Win a BusyBodyBook Organizer from @honestandtruly." (leave a link to your tweet as your comment and make sure you do all the steps!)
2) Earn one additional entry by following Honest And Truly Reviews publicly via Google Friend Connect.
3) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly! publicly via Google Friend Connect.

While it won't get you any extra entries, I do encourage you to like Honest & Truly on Facebook so you can stay up to date on giveaways and other cool info and news.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent a BusyBodyBook for review purposes. I received no compensation, and all opinions expressed are my own.


Yikes it's been awhile since I've posted here. My apologies; I've been out of town way too much lately. That said, I am about to change that, yay, right? First off, I have to announce two winners of contests that ended:

Allison of Sassy Moms In The City won the copy of Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go. I can't say again how much I'm loving that book as ideas of where to take the wee ones. I highly recommend it if Chicago is anywhere in your future!

Tina from Bonggamom Finds won the Wendy's gift card.

Congratulations to both of them. They have 48 hours to get back to me before I have to choose a new winner.