Monday, August 27, 2012

Gutzy Gear Giveaway - The New Cool In School

August is Little Miss's birthday party, and we're still in the midst of the big birthday party part of life.  I love those parties - seeing all the happy smiling faces and hearing the giggles - but the goody bags kill me.  I sort of hate them.  They're generally filled with candy we can't (don't) eat and little cheap toys that we throw away.  This year?  We used Gutzy Gear as our goody bags.

So wait, you haven't heard of Gutzy Gear yet?  Oh, you're missing out.  Gutzy Gear are straps that wrap around the straps on your backpacks or bags or anything along those lines.  They then have patches in hundreds of patterns that Velcro onto the Gutzy straps.

The patches have all sorts of different personality with awesome names (as the wee ones pointed out to me) from Chip and Quench (a walking cookie and glass of milk) to Bones and Head Honcho (fun looking "dude" and pirate-y skull and crossbones patches) to Little Miss's favorite Kernel and Cheesy (a popcorn box and animated slice of pizza).  There are two series releases of Gutzy patches so far, plus character patches of Marvel super heroes, SpongeBob Square Pants, and more.

The patches are sold in packages of 2 for $4.99 apiece at stores ranging from WalMart to Target and specialty toy stores, as well as online at the Gutzy Gear site.  The backpack straps are $9.99 and come with two strap covers and two Gutzy patches.

There are so many patches to choose from that it's hard to decide what you like best.  Fortunately, part of the fun of Gutzy Gear is that they are designed to be traded with friends.  Remember growing up and how sticker album and trading stickers?  I spent more recesses and play dates doing that, and so did all my friends.

When the kids walked into the party, it was obvious that they'd never seen Gutzy Gear before.  The looks on their faces as they walked into the party and saw the table piled with the Gutzy Gear was priceless.

Gutzy Gear filled with patches and straps for birthday guests

Knowing that these are primarily second graders, I didn't want the free for all I knew was bound to happen.  Instead of having the children rush the table (save me) or handing children a patch and having them ask for a different one, we played Gutzy games for them.  The favorite was a version of bingo.

The kids each had a GUTZY card with images of the various Gutzy characters in the boxes.  As I called out the Gutzies, the kids used the snacks to cover their cards.

Snacks for bingo markers

As each child "won" at GUTZY (I had two kids tell me that the game was GUTZY and not bingo - smart cookies!), they were allowed to head to the table to choose a strap and patch pack.  Watching them agonize over the decisions was adorable.  Fortunately, everyone ended up with something they enjoyed - and a delicious snack to eat after they finished the game.

Each child had the hardest time choosing the "perfect" Gutzy Gear

I loved how the kids were so excited to receive their Gutzy Gear as a goodie bag.  Some who had siblings who weren't there begged to take one home for them.  Given their covetous looks, I was doubtful that they were actually going to make it to the siblings, but I agreed.  And to my surprise, not only did I see one of the siblings in school on Tuesday wearing the Gutzy straps, but he stopped to talk about the straps with Mister Man and point out that they had the same ones and how perfect that he had a smiley face with braces since he was about to get braces, too.

Everyone loved Gutzy Gear

Now this?  This is a goody bag I can deal with.  The wee ones were so excited to put them on their backpacks, and Gutzy Gear is flooding our school.  The only "problem" is that the wee ones want more Gutzy patches.  I know what to tell people when they ask what Mister Man wants to his birthday.  And both the wee ones will get some in their stockings, I'm sure.  It's such a fun way to express personality.

Best of all, right now you can get a free rare Gutzy patch when you buy any Gutzy product in stores from now until September 30, 2012.  You simply send the receipt and the completed free Gutzy Gear redemption form.  Best of all, you can do it once per week per person.  I can't wait to see what Gutzies we get after the wee ones choose their next patches and I go buy them!

There is also a Gutzy Gear contest right now with over 100 gift cards to Toys 'r Us being given away.  Between now and September 7, your kids just need to show how they "go gutzy" in a photo.  Upload the photo to the Gutzy Gear Facebook page.  It isn't just the backpack you can personalize with the Gutzy Gear straps.  Get creative.  Is it your soccer goal?  Maybe Gutzy goes on your desk at school.  Figure it out, and best of luck to you!

Excited to start the year off with something fun?  I have three prize packs to give away that include a starter Gutzy Gear set and three patch packs of your choice.  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 Monday September 10 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's your favorite collectible from childhood?

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: "Win the coolest new school trend from @GutzyGear and @honestandtruly - starter pack and 3 patch packs. 3 winners!" (leave a link to your tweet as your comment and make sure you do all the steps!)
2) Earn one additional entry by following this review blog publicly via Google Friend Connect.
3) Earn one additional entry by following my “regular” blog Honest & Truly! publicly via Google Friend Connect.
4) Earn one additional entry by liking Honest & Truly! on Facebook. (Yay, it's legal again, so long as you know you have to leave a comment here to enter and that simply liking me isn't the entry, along with acknowledging the fact that Facebook has nothing to do with this giveaway whatsoever.
5) Earn an additional entry by putting me in your Google Plus circle. Am I already in your G+ circle? No problem - just leave a comment letting me know that you've added me or already have me there.

Good luck!

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a Mommy Party box of Gutzy Gear to share with my friends.  I was not compensated as part of this campaign.  As always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rivet and Sway Review

I've worn glasses off and on since I was in the fifth grade.  Thanks to Rivet and Sway, I'm wearing them all the time now.  But before now?  Yep, off and on.  I had glasses for awhile because I thought they were cool - nifty cotton candy pink ones, if I recall correctly.  Then I didn't wear them for awhile, and eventually I got contacts around high school.

I'd wear them sometimes but not all the time because I'm that odd person who has one near sighted eye and one far sighted eye.  It sort of balances out, so I can get away with not wearing them.  Periodically, I'll get a new prescription and glasses, but I think the last time I did was almost three years ago.  Remember when I wrote about losing my sunglasses not too long after getting them and miraculously finding them a year and a half later?  Yeah.

When I was offered the chance to be a Rivet and Sway Original at BlogHer and get some new, fashionable glasses, I was all over it.  Rivet and Sway is different from my local optometrist in that the glasses are mail order.  Yikes, right?  How do you know if you're even going to like them?  And at $199, you'd better like the glasses you're getting.  Rivet and Sway has figured out the answers to all this.

First, you can order try on kits with blank lenses so you can try on up to three different eyeglasses at a time at home for free.  With the oh so awesome tool on the website that helps you select the right lenses for your face - including both your face shape and whether you need narrow or wide frames for your head - you've got a pretty good shot at success right there.

I ordered my three frames, and they arrived two days later via FedEx.  I loved not having to wait a long time.  Rivet and Sway estimates that the whole process takes 13 days from start to finish if you order your glasses the third day you have your try on pairs, and that's not bad!  I loved the packaging the frames arrived in, and I appreciated knowing that any glasses I ordered would arrive safe and sound.

Everything Rivet and Sway has a personal touch to it

I have to admit the glasses were a lot nicer than the ones I had to choose from the last time I bought glasses.  The Je Ne Sais Quoi lenses were unfortunately not a good fit for my head, but I took the other two pairs on the rounds with my friends to get their opinions.  What do you think?

My three Rivet and Sway pairs - which do you like best?

I will be honest that I liked the middle pair's shape the best.  The little flair up from the middle was great, but the color wasn't quite right.  While most glasses - including the Tusk- offer multiple frame colors, the black and white or galapagos green weren't really a good fit for me personally.  The blue and grey of the "ripcurl" colored The Little Voice glasses - the photo on the right - ultimately won out.

Once I had my glasses chosen, I simply peeled off the preprinted postage paid return sticker and resealed the box the glasses arrived in - a matter of merely pulling off the top of a sticky - and stuck them in my mailbox.  I typed in the information from my new prescription, something this review opportunity inspired me to do, and waited for my glasses to arrive.  I was lucky that my optometrist gave me a very clearly written prescription that had everything I needed.  If I needed help, I could have either scanned my prescription for Rivet and Sway or had them contact my optometrist directly.  Can you say convenient?

The only downside is that some frames only accept prescriptions up to a certain level.  If you have a stronger prescription, make sure the glasses you order will work with your prescription - fortunately not an issue for me.  At this point, Rivet and Sway doesn't offer progressive or bifocal lenses, either, which is somewhat limiting.  The other thing I'd love to see offered that they don't currently provide is prescription sunglasses.  I have very sensitive eyes and cannot go outside even on a cloudy day without them.

As for my specific experience, the glasses arrived in the same style of very cute cardboard box used for the try on pairs.  Inside was also a little bag to keep my glasses safe and unscratched, which I appreciate.  When I tried on my glasses, even just the little change in my prescription was apparent.  I loved the glasses.  And so has everyone else.  I've gotten more compliments on my new glasses than I ever dreamed I would, from the friends who knew they were new to the owner of the tae kwon do dojo where Mister Man goes.

My Rivet and Sway glasses rock

The glasses are a high quality, which I would expect for $199 (including shipping and lenses).  They are polycarbonate lenses, with scratch resistant and glare free 100% UV protection coatings.  That results in thin and lightweight lenses, making them easier to wear.

I have had my glasses adjusted slightly, which is something my local optometrist can easily do (you can see them sliding down my nose a bit in the picture above).  They fit beautifully, and I love them.  Even if that weren't the case, all is not lost.  Rivet and Sway will allow you to return your glasses or any reason in the first 60 days and either credit your card or send you a new pair.  How can you possibly lose?

I can make it a little more tempting for you, actually.  I have a code that will give you 20% off a pair of Rivet and Sway glasses.  Note that the code expires on August 26, 2012, so get your act in gear.  You can order your try on pairs now and get your prescription together at a later date, as you need that only to order your final pair.

Discount code for 20% off Rivet and Sway: CWHOUB017D894C

C'mon, you know you need new glasses right?  Did you know your prescription expires after two years?  And that it's recommended that you get your eyes tested every year?  Which pair(s) would you choose?

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a pair of Rivet and Sway glasses for review purposes.  I was not compensated as part of this campaign.  As always, all opinions expressed remain my own.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

T-Mobile Summer Safety Tips

I first attended a T-Mobile event last November.  At the time I was very unhappy with my current provider but was stuck in a contract I wasn't willing to break until April 14 of this year (yes, I know the date, and I was counting down the days).  As I learned more about T-Mobile and what they were doing that night, I figured out who my new carrier would be.

And on April 14, I signed a new contract with T-Mobile for myself and my husband.  We had been on a plan with just voice for both of us and data for me.  We upgrade to voice, unlimited text, and data for both of us.  And we're now paying 2/3 of what we were with our old carrier.  To say I'm happy would be putting it mildly.

When I was invited to another T-Mobile event a couple weeks ago focused on safety tips, I jumped at the chance.  When both Melisa and I showed up with our T-Mobile phones that we'd converted to since the last T-Mobile event, we were mini rock stars for a moment, but the focus wasn't truly on us... it was about what T-Mobile is up to.

Showing off our T-Mobile phones
Photo credit to Jyl Johnson Pattee

The wee ones aren't quite old enough for phones yet, but I've already heard some horror stories from friends of mine, and I love all the safety and monitoring features that exist now.  T-Mobile offers Family Allowances® where you can set not just a limit to how many texts or minutes allowed on a line, it also allows parents to control what hours calls can be received or made and how much money can be spent on apps.  Much as I'd love to trust the wee ones, their brains definitely won't develop enough to make good decisions all the time until they're out of the nest.  And the $4.99 monthly fee may save my sanity - and my pocketbook, depending on what the wee ones choose to do.  Even better, this works not just on phones associated with the T-Mobile account but also any tablets, too.

T-Mobile FamilyWhere® is another nice check-in feature.  Again, I'd like to trust the wee ones to be where they say they will go, but knowing I can check in with them is an added bonus.  The caveat is that the phone's GPS has to be turned on to make it accurate, but it allows me to log on to see where the phone is (and I'm guessing it's not likely that they'll leave the phone behind on purpose).  Or I can make it more proactive for them where they periodically check in with me via text, and the text include a link that tells me where they are.  I'm hoping this is nothing we ever need, but it's nice to know that it exists for $9.99/month.

One I know I'll use on a regular basis is the Web Guard.  While the phones I get for them (someday) will initially not be smart phones, it's hard to find phones now that don't connect to the Internet.  And there are a lot of sites out there that I don't want them to see.  There's a great free service T-Mobile offers Web Guard filters that you can adjust to fit your child's age.

A few other tips to help stay safe this summer?

ICE - Save In Case of Emergency as a contact in your phone so that if there is an emergency or someone else needs to get ahold of you, they can.  List it as ICE Mom Cell so that it's clear who it belongs to and include a few, in case you aren't available for some reason.

Stay Charged - Make sure that your kids know that cell phones have to stay turned on when they aren't at home (except at school and other forbidden places), whether so you can reach them or to help track them.  To ensure they don't run out of batteries, have them get into a routine of charging their phones every night.  Look into the battery chargers that plug into a wall and store up a charge so you child can charge while out and about, if necessary.

Current Photos - Again, this is one of the ones you hope to never need to use, but keep current photos of all family members on your phone so you can use them in case of emergency.  Update the photos every six months, and put the photos on everyone's phone.

Memorize - Phones are great.  But there are times when they don't work or they run out of batteries or get broken or lost.  In those situations, you and your children need to have key phone numbers memorized, just like in the olden days when we had phones with cords.  Make sure that your children have family phone numbers memorized and that they know what number to call in an emergency.

Check-in Text - While parents sometimes love embarrassing their children (and I'll admit to it on occasion), you'll have much better luck with your children voluntarily letting you know where they are if they don't have to call you to update where they are but can instead send you a text that others are less likely to notice.  You'll still know when they arrive somewhere or leave somewhere, and it's something they can do without embarrassing themselves in front of their friends.

Family Contract - This is a biggie for me.  I remember when my friend Melisa posted about the cell phone contract she had her son sign when he got his first phone.  And I get it.  In fact, I saved that post as a document so I can reference it someday.  Figure out what the rules are for the phone, and make sure your children know what they are.  They need to know clearly what they are and what the consequences are for not following them.  It's just good parenting.

In the interest of full disclosure, I attended the T-Mobile event described above.  They provided the information I shared in this post, though this is my wording.  I was not compensated, nor was I asked to write about it.  As always, all opinions remain my own.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Glad Feeds My Family During BlogHer

I'm headed out to BlogHer in New York, and I have to admit, my expectations for what happens at home while I'm gone always sinks. And not by just a little.  The math pages the wee ones are supposed to do I know won't be looked at.  There will be clothes strewn about the house, both dirty and clean somehow.  And who knows what my husband will be feeding them, but I always come home to plenty of restaurant charges on my credit card.

This time around, I am doing my best to counteract this just a little bit.  I got sneaky and prepared food for everyone.  I stocked up on the lunchmeat.  I made more zucchini bread than any family should have in the house at one time.  And Glad sent me the fixings for some chicken enchiladas.

I'm not going to say that my husband is lazy, but if the food isn't prepped for him, the likelihood that it gets used isn't that great.  In fact, I can almost guarantee that the two mangos that were just about ripe when I leave will be still sitting in the fruit bowl, just more ripe.  Rather than rely on my husband to put everything together for the enchiladas, I did it for him.  I didn't just buy the rotisserie chicken; I removed the meat from the carcass and cut it up for him.  I put all the ingredients he'll need into a pile on the kitchen counter with the recipe stacked nearby - the corn tortillas, peppers, and enchilada sauce provided by MomSelect and Glad, as well as the onion and spices I'm providing.  The cut up chicken went into a Glad Ware container that will keep the meat fresh until he is ready to use it, with the cheese and salsa sitting right next to it in the fridge, so my husband can't possibly miss it, right?

Lay out the ingredients so my husband can't forget to make chicken enchiladas

Ok, this is my husband.  He may miss it, and there might be a phone call coming my way.  That said, I feel a whole lot better that I've got some meals prepped for him.  Even if they don't do their homework or keep the house clean, there's a chance that they're eating the way I would want them to.  

And once he's cooked the meal and there are leftovers - and in our house, it seems like there are always leftovers - he'll have the storage containers to put them in, as Glad included 2 large containers for us that go from fridge to freezer.  My personal favorite part is that the containers now resist cracking when you have them in the freezer and they - oh, I don't know - fall out.  I have more than one storage container I've lost that way.

But the Glad Ware containers have gotten better. Know what's really cool now? They're BPA free. I can feel more confident storing my leftovers in these containers without worrying that BPA will be leaching into their foods. I'm still not going to microwave anything in plastic, but the storage issue goes away.

Oh. And did I mention that Glad is a Labels for Education partner? Yep, that code gets cut out and returned to school, and that's another five points towards something on a teacher wish list!

So what do you do to try to keep your family healthy when you aren't around?

In the interest of full disclosure, I was sent a 2 pack of large Glad Freezer Ware containers, along with some of the ingredients to make chicken enchiladas while I was attending BlogHer.  I was not compensated, but I have been entered to win a gift card.  As always, all opinions expressed remain my own.