Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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Slim down with Skinny Tees

Let's face it, I'm not getting any younger and when it comes to looking as young as I feel, I need all the help I can get.   I used to wear tank tops all the time, but with the sagging boobs and belly rolls, I've been layering them under cardigans and shirts more often than not. I hate wearing girdles and other shapewear -- but now that I've discovered SkinnyTees, I don't need to!

SkinnyTees makes seamless tanks, tees, tops, skirts, dresses, bandeaus, leggings and activewear. Thanks to their lycra/spandex material, they smooth out curves just like shapewear, but they can be worn alone just like regular clothes.   Celebrities like Britney Speirs and Nicky Hilton have been spotted wearing SkinnyTees, and now I know why -- SkinnyTees sent me a sample to review, and they're great!  I received the Blue Ombre Tank Top, which I had originally intended to give it to The Pea, but when it arrived, I quickly decided to keep it for myself!  I love the gradual change in color from light blue to dark blue, and I love the material: it's soft and silky and it does help smooth down those side rolls :)

A word about sizing: I'm honestly amazed that a "One Size Fits Most" size actually fits me and looks good on me!  Usually these kinds of garments are way too short and tight, but this was neither.  The straps might actually be a bit long for someone shorter they were the perfect length for me (I'm 5 feet, 8 inches tall). I also loved the longer length, which hits mid-hip for me (it might be tunic length for shorter people?).  It did have a tighter fit than what I saw online, but I was comfortable enough to wear the tank on its own.

By the way, great news for curvier women:  SkinnyTees also comes in a "And a Little More", their plus size.  Currently the only style that offers "And A Little More" size is the camisole -- but it does come in 10 colors.

SkinnyTees are available through QVC, various boutiques across the country and on their website Check them out!

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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American Girl launches the BeForever collection

American Girl BeForever

There's something big happening in the American Girl world!  Today American Girl relaunched their Historical Doll line with a fresh new look and a new name: the BeForever Collection.  This line of historical dolls, books, clothes, playsets and accessories includes the following characters:



Yes, that's right!  Samantha is back!  American Girl has pulled her back from the archives to celebrate the launch of the BeForever Collection.  Not only that, Samantha and all the other dolls come in fresh new outfits (everyone, that is, except Caroline).

American Girl BeForever


The stories for each character are the pretty much the same, but the old 6-book series has been condensed into 2 books, and these books have new covers featuring photos of real girls.  Also, each character stars in a new "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" type book, along with a girl from today who travels back in time.  The new BeForever "Journey" book series has multiple endings, letting readers choose what happens at key points.

American Girl BeForever

Contemporary Clothing

Instead of identical dress-like-your-doll clothing, the new BeForever girls clothing collection features modern-day clothing inspired by the historical characters -- so these are clothes that girls can wear every day!  I love this idea!
American Girl BeForever

American Girl's new BeForever Collection is sure to inspire a whole new generation of girls!  I can't wait to explore this new line!

Disclosure: I received a press kit announcing the BeForever collection along with a sample book to review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Filter your drinking water 10X faster with the CamelBak Relay pitcher

Do you ever get irritated when you find your water pitcher empty?  This happens to us constantly, and it drives Alfie crazy.  He's constantly having to refill the pitcher himself, no matter how many times he tells the kids to refill it when they empty it.  I don't think he'd mind so much, but it always seems to happen when he wants to pour himself a cup of tea -- but has to wait for ages before the water is filtered and he can finally pour some of it into the kettle!  So when CamelBak sent us a sample of their new Relay Water Filtration Pitcher, we set out to compare it against our current pitcher.  Check out our video below comparing the filtration speeds!

The Basics

CamelBak Relay is an innovative water filtration pitcher that filters water at the speed of your faucet, saving time and eliminating the common frustrations with products currently on the market.

CamelBak listened to consumer’s complaints about the water filtration pitchers currently on the market (it’s slow, the lid falls off, it spills on my counter, etc.) and decided to do something about it. CamelBak Relay filters water 10X faster than the leading competitor, the filter lasts twice as long, the locking-lid gives a controlled pour and it filters twice; once as you fill and again as you pour. No more waiting 10+ minutes for your water to filter (drip, drip drip), life changing.

The Bongga

The CamelBak Relay really does filter water so much faster than any other pitcher I've seen!  We did a little test earlier today to prove it, with Jammy pouring 2 cups of water into the Relay and 3Po pouring 2 cups of water into our regular pitcher.  The Relay filtered the 2 cups of water in less than 20 seconds, pretty much as quickly as Jammy poured it in.  As for our regular pitcher, it took so long that I finally stopped the recording (too boring!).

Here are a few other things I like about the CamelBak Relay:

  • It's top-rack dishwasher safe.
  • The main body is made of a single piece of plastic, so there are no little crevices for dirt and molds to get stuck in.
  • It's 100% BPA-Free
  • Spill-proof locking lid prevents leaks when filling or pouring

The Blah

2 things I'm not too fond of:

  • The Relay uses double filter technology that allows you to filter your water as you fill and again as you pour. I'm not so sure I like this.  It makes the pouring speed slower, which is actually great when little kids are pouring water (it doesn't rush out all at once and spill all over the kitchen counter), but not so much when I'm impatient for my glass of water.  Besides, why filter water that has already been filtered?  

  • The design of the pouring spout means that I have to hold the pitcher practically upside down in order to pour out the last drops of water.

  • The snap-on lid doesn't always snap on properly (note: the instructions do warn about this and say it will get easier as time goes on).  

One other thing to note, the filters may seem expensive -- $12 for a single filter and $28.50 for a pack of 3 filters -- but they last about twice as long as filters for most other brands (which cost about $7 for a single filter and $30 for a 6-pack), so the cost actually works out to be the tiniest bit cheaper.

The Bottom Line

For Alfie, nothing matters as much as pouring speed, and he's 100% in favor of dumping our old pitcher and switching to the CamelBak Relay!

Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information (in italics) is provided by CamelBak. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Be safe and positive online, join the #ShareAwesome campaign with National PTA & Lifelock

baby photos

To share or not to share?  That is the question.  I've been grappling with that question ever since I started blogging in 2006.  All my blogging focused on my kids, and of I wanted to share all of their funny sayings, their beautiful artwork, their cute photos.  Just a few months after I began blogging, I decided to use pseudonyms for me and everyone else in my family.  It took me a bit longer to nix the embarrassing baby photos and embarrassing stories (I don't want my kids or my husband to be angry and embarrassed about anything on my blog!).

baby photos
But there's always a gray area that I struggle with.  Nude baby photos are out, but what about diaper photos or underwear photos?  In February 2007, to celebrate 3Po's and Jammy's move to big boy pants, I posted a photo of them in their undies.  I thought they looked adorable in their Calvin Klein boxers but I was uncomfortable enough to block out their faces.  Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to sharing, but safety has to be where you draw the line.

Now that everyone is on social media, making good choices about what to share and what not to share is more important than ever. We want our kids to enjoy the benefits of social media and be able to share their lives with friends near and far -- but we also want them to know that such an awesome tool comes with responsibilities. I always tell my kids that what they share online lasts forever. Even deleting a photo is no guarantee -- anyone can take a screenshot.  Anyone can save files to a disk.  They never use their real names.  They are never allowed to share names or places when they chat online. They are never allowed to post contact information on their profiles. They are never allowed to share their passwords (except with their us, their parents).

To find out more ways to be safe and positive online, National PTA has partnered with LifeLock in the #ShareAwesome campaign.  The campaign seeks to build an understanding among parents and students that no matter the device, the app or the networking site – the skills we need to be safe and positive online are similar to what you need offline.  Today’s families use digital technology in every aspect of life – from learning and socializing, to gaming and shopping! Broad access and use of technology is awesome – and opens so many new opportunities for so many students. But like any aspect of life, there are things you need to know to make positive, safe decisions.

Here's what you can do to participate:
* Visit the #ShareAwesome website at

* Take the #ShareAwesome quiz.

* Take the pledge to #ShareAwesome.

* Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag!

* Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes!

#ShareAwesome on Instagram

More about the #ShareAwesome contest
The #ShareAwesome contest invites social media users to share a smart and safe decision, uplifting accomplishment, or positive action for the good of others using hashtag #ShareAwesome on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Students who enter a photo between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will be eligible to win fantastic prizes! Visit to learn more.

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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Stop snacking spills with Snackeez 2-in-1 drink and snack holder

Like all kids, mine love to snack. They're always on the go, so smaller meals combines with healthy snacks makes perfect sense. It also means that the back seat of our van is all too often an icky, sticky mess. The cup holders are always full of crumbs and wrappers and squeezed-out juice boxes (with juice dripping and puddling at the bottom of the cup holder).

This week we tried out Snackeez, a cool new solution for mess-free snacking. A Snackeez looks like a regular lidded cup with a straw, but the top section is actually a snack container. Kids can hold their snack and their drink with one hand, leaving the other hand free to turn the pages of a book or hold a pencil or do whatever it is that kids like to do when they eat.  The snack container lid snaps shut, so crumbs and spills are minimized.  Even spills are minimized, thanks to the lack of a vent hole -- it becomes more difficult to sip the liquid.  

The kids have been seeing ads for Snackeez on TV for a while, so they were excited to try it. based on past experience, Alfie and I have in a healthy sense of suspicion for any "As Seen On TV" product -- but I have to say that Snackeez actually does deliver what the ad promises. It's fun to use, the kids love the bright colors, it's easy to clean, and it doesn't spill when you knock it over (we tried holding it upside down and shaking it, and juice did begin to dribble from the straw, so it's spill-resistant, not spill-proof!). I wouldn't pack it into the kids' lunch boxes, but I think it's perfect for car trips and great for nighttime TV snacking!

Disclosure: I received a sample product for review. All opinions are my own.
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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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Republic Wireless: making the most of WiFi & Cellular to offer cheap plans, great service

Tired of paying big bucks and signing your soul away into a long-term phone contract?  Youve got to check out Republic Wireless.  They have phone plans starting at $5 per month!  Republic Wireless sent me a Motorola MotoX phone to try out with their $40 plan (unlimited talk, text and 4G data on WiFi and cellular networks), and I think this one's a winner.  Keep reading to get an overview of their service, and what I think about it (and enter to win a Google Chromecast!).

The Basics

Republic Wireless is a low cost, no-contract cellular phone service. They offer 2 kinds of phones:

  • Motorola MotoG ($149)
  • Motorola MotoX ($299)
... and 4 plans:

  • $5 WiFi only plan 
  • $10 WiFi + Cell Talk &Text 
  • $25 WiFi + Cell (3G) Talk, Text & Data
  • $40 WiFi + Cell (4G) Talk, Text & Data (available only on Moto X) 
How do they keep prices so low?  Their phones utilize Hybrid Calling technology to take advantage of WiFi networks for calls, texts and data when a WiFi network is available.  When a WiFi network isn't available, their phones use the Sprint Network for calls, texts and data (if the phone plan you sign up for includes it). Their techonology allows for a seamless WiFi to cellular handover experience for uninterrupted calls and high call quality.  No extra steps or apps are required to make a phone call, even when on the WiFi network).  Utilizing WiFi whenever you can makes so much sense!

The Bongga

Republic Wireless wins on all of the 4 C's of cellular service -- cool phones, coverage, convenience, and cost!

Cool Phones: I'm LOVING the Moto X!  It's a really nice Android phone, with a very sleek and sophisticated profile, sporting lots of bells and whistles.  The camera is AWESOME.  It takes great photos!  Check out these 2 amazing photos my daughter snapped on the fly with the MotoX, no editing or Photoshopping needed.


Coverage: Republic Wireless runs on the Sprint network, which is the network I use for my cell phone plan.  I have no complaints about Sprint network coverage, so I'm confident about the coverage for the Republic Wireless phone!  So far, call quality has been great, no interrupted calls, even when I'm walking from my car (cellular network) and entering my house (switch over to WiFi).  Sprint's 3G network tends to be slow, but only if you're browsing the web on your phone -- it's perfectly fine for checking email, or posting to Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest, or using most web-enabled apps and games.  Sprint's 4G network is lightning fast, even for web browsing.

Note, I have yet to enter a location that offers free wifi with sign-in (i.e. Starbucks, McDonalds, airports, etc...), so I don't know how seamlessly the phone will switch from cellular back to wifi, or whether it will switch at all.  The Republic FAQ page says you'll have to sign in the first time, then subsequent visits will be seamless, but I do need to try it out for myself.

Convenience:  With a Republic Wireless plan, you're not bound to a contract.  You can even switch from one of their plans to another -- up to twice per month!   And because the data plans are all-inclusive, you're charged a set amount each month, and you don't have to worry about hidden costs.  The only fees you incur are state and local taxes.

Cost: I can't think of any all-inclusive, no-contract service that's cheaper than Republic Wireless.  Even the phone itself is inexpensive:  just $149 for the Moto G and $299 for the Moto X.  This is how much you would pay for a phone with the other big networks -- but only if you lock yourself into a 2 year contract!

The Blah

There are only 3 things I'm not fond of:

1) You cannot make any international calls on a Republic Wireless phone.  This is a major deal breaker for Alfie and me, because all our family is overseas (it's not a deal breaker for our kids' phones, though, since they can always use our phones to call their grandparents in the UK and the Philippines).

2) You cannot bring your own phone over to a Republic Wireless plan -- you have to purchase one of their phones, and currently, your only option is the MotoX or the MotoG (which only works with 3G plan, not the 4G plan).  It's not a problem for me because I love the MotoX, but if you're wedded to a particular brand of phone, you're out of luck.

3) You can't use your Republic Wireless phone with any other plan.  This is because Republic's phones are specially modified to be able to use WiFi calling without having to open another app, and to use the WiFi around you.

The Bottom Line

If it weren't for the no international calls restriction, I would sign up for a $5 per month Republic Wireless plan today, and make that phone our Home Phone.  Other than that, Republic's low cost option has definitely won me over --when The Pea's phone contract comes to an end, I think we just might be switching her over to Republic Wireless!

Win a Google Chromecast

TWO lucky Bonggamom Finds readers will receive a Google Chromecast! This digital media player plays audio/video content on a high-definition display via streaming Wi-Fi.  In other words, plus Chromecast into your HDTV, and you can watch YouTube, Internet shows, or any content that you can stream over your WiFi network from the internet!
(photo source: Wikipedia common images)

Required Entry
Leave a comment on this post and tell me which Republic Wireless plan would be right for you.

Extra Entries
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry with a way to verify the entry (i.e. tweet link, blog post link, Facebook id, Twitter id, etc.).

1) Follow bonggamom on Blogger (1 entry)

2) Follow bonggamom on Instagram (1 entry)

3) Follow bonggamom on Pinterest (1 entry)

4) Pin this giveaway on any of your Pinterest boards (1 entry -- you can use the "Pin It" button at the bottom of this page!).

5) "Like Bonggamom Finds" on Facebook and write this on my wall (1 entry):
I entered the Google Chromecast giveaway from Republic Wireless!  Giveaway ends 9/5 at

7) Tweet this once per day (1 entry per day)
Enter to win a Google Chromecast fr @republicwireless! Giveaway on @bonggafinds ends 9/5

8) Join any open giveaway on Bonggamom Finds (1 entry for every giveaway you join)

The Rules
This giveaway ends at 11:59PM PST on September 5  2014; I will draw a winner at random, on September 6 and post their name after they confirm acceptance. Continental US residents only. For additional giveaway rules, click here.

Disclosure: Republic Wireless provided me with a MotoX and 3 months of Republic Wireless service to facilitate my review, and Chromecast units to give away.  product or give my opinions. Product information (in italics) is provided by the featured company/product. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Kia Soul: High End Feel, Low End Price

I tend to do a lot of driving during the weeks leading up to the First Day of School.  There's so much to do to prepare-- the last of the summer camps, Back to School Shopping, PTA volunteering -- and let's not forget the One Last Summer Road Trip that we just have to squeeze in before school starts again!

I've spent a LOT of time in the car this last week -- but fortunately, I was able to spend it test driving the Kia Soul. Never in my life would I have thought that I would grow to love the Kia Soul as much as I did!  I've always hated boxy-type vehicles -- too square, too trying-hard-to-be-hip, too claustrophobic.  But I couldn't help falling in love with the Kia Soul.  Yes, it's square, but it's so cute and cheeky, it's hard not to fall in love.  Here are some reasons why:

* The perky green color (the official name is "alien green", how cool is that??) only adds to the appeal.  The green is kind of in-your-face, but in a cheerful, zippy way.

* The interior feels much roomier than it should, given the car's small size. Everyone loves the leather seats, panoramic sun roof, and cool front speakers that change color to the beat of the music! FYI, the Soul is on Wards Auto's list for 10 best interiors, alongside cars that cost $10,000 more.  Kia has received a lot of praise for the Soul's premium feel. 

The Soul is not just style at the expense of substance. It earned the government's highest overall safety rating in NHTSA crash tests.  Also, just named the 2014 Soul as one of its Top Five Cars for Urban Families.  

Best of all, despite its premium feel, the Kia Soul starts at a $15,000 base price!  Alfie and I were shocked when we Googled it; we expected it to cost about $5000 more.  What's more, the 2014 Soul won ALG's Residual Value Award for subcompact utilities, retaining its value better than any other vehicle in that segment (57% of its value after 3 years of ownership).

Of all the cars I've tested out and written about this past year, the Kia Soul just might be my favorite -- it's about neck and neck with my previous favorite, the Kia Optima Hybrid.  In fact, the only 2 things that would make us love the Kia Soul even more would be if they offered a hybrid version, and if they offered a turbo version (unlike the Kia Optima Hybrid, acceleration for the Soul felt a bit slow and sluggish, even with the EcoDrive feature turned off).

I think the Kia Soul looks just perfect in front of our house, don't you?  We think so too!  In fact, it looks like our next car just might be a Kia Soul -- we're looking to replace our BMW 328 in a year or two, and thanks to last weeks's test drive, the Soul is currently our top pick! After all, if the Kia SOUL is good enough for Pope Francis, it's good enough for us :)

Disclosure: I was lent a Kia Soul to drive for a week, for review purposes.. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Banish Back-to-School tangles with The Wet Brush

I received a sample for review

Our school year begins tomorrow, and in just about 12 hours we are going to wake up to the sound of an alarm for the first time in 10 weeks.  Goodbye, lazy summer, and hello, rush-rush-rush school morning routine!  The Pea and I will soon be racing against the clock to eat breakfast, pack a lunch, and look decent, all before 6:30am.

One of the most difficult things about our morning routine is taming our wild, wavy, frizzy hair.  When The Pea was a toddler and preschooler, she used to scream whenever I would try to brush her tangles away!  Now that she's older, she  grits her teeth and does it herself, but it's no less of a pain (literally and figuratively).  Starting out with wet hair does help tame the frizzies somewhat, but brushing wet, tangled hair isn't good for hair -- it weakens the shaft. Fortunately we've discovered The Wet Brush.  This detangling brush has Intelli-flex bristles that glide through knots and tangles.  I honestly don't know how they do it, but it's true!  It's like they've doused the bristles in conditioner.  It's noticeably easier and less painful to comb through wet, tangled hair.

This is what I look like coming out of the shower. Note the wet, tangled mane of hair.

Here I am, beginning to brush out the tangles with The Wet Brush. I don't feel my hair pulling or stretching at all, and the bristles don't dig into my scalp.  

Even 3Po told me, "Mom, this brush really does glide through your hair much easier than your other brush!".

My hair is all smooth and straight and shiny -- and undamaged, thanks to The Wet Brush!

If you have anything other than ultra-straight, silky hair, you definitely need to get The Wet Brush!

Disclosure: I  received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Back to School with

Back to school shopping can be tiresome and expensive, but there's a great online site that makes it easy for busy parents to outfit their whole family in timeless basics for the whole year. carries over 100 brands and hundreds of thousands of items -- tops, bottoms, outerwear, bags in all kinds of styles and colors, for men, women and children.  They sell clothing from many of my favorite brands, like Adidas, Hanes, Bella, Fruit of the Loom, and more.  They have the cheapest American Apparel shirts I've seen anywhere, and the rest of their products are just as reasonably priced! offers basic clothing as well as some not-so-basic customization services such as custom embroidery, screen printing, applique, laser etching, decals, and stickers -- which makes them great for team wear, school uniforms, school logo wear, band uniforms, and other school and afterschool activities. .

ApparelnBags offered to send me an item of my choice so I could see their quality and service, so I went online to begin my search.  Because fall is coming soon, I chose a Sport Tek hooded fleece vest to keep me warm while watching the boys' soccer games on chilly autumn mornings.  All of the vests I see in retails stores cost $40 or more -- this one only cost $19!  My order arrived before I even had time to remember to check, and I couldn't be happier with the style and the fit:

The material (combined cotton/poly) is super soft and comfy. I love the soft heather grey color, and I love the stylish hood.  I feel so swag when I wear it! :)

Definitely check out ApparelnBags -- it's one-stop outfit shopping for Back to School!

Disclosure:  I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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Use social networking to help raise money for your child's team with

With 2 parents who love soccer, it was almost inevitable that 3Po and Jammy would play soccer. they started when they were about 2, when they would sit on the sidelines as their big sister played soccer with her kindergarten friends. The Pea's coach saw how eager the boys were to play, and bless his heart, he let them join. At that time, the soccer ball reached above their knees!  They haven't stopped playing since.   They have been playing on a competitive team for three years now, and they love it. soccer dominates our weekends, both on tv (watching the English Premiere League) and in real life (playing league games and tournaments).  They love it so much, and they say they want to play soccer professionally!  Even though they may never play in a professional league (or on a college team, even!), soccer is teaching them so much about dedication, teamwork, sportsmanship, and hard work.

Right now, soccer is the boys' only after school activity. It's a big investment in both time and money! We have to pay for uniforms, player registration fees, tournament fees, even teambuilding events like an end-of-year pizza party!  It can be difficult to find the money for the team, but guess what, there's a new company that makes it easy for teams to raise money by using the social networks of the team parents and their friends.  Pear is a social engagement platform that helps groups earn sponsorships from brands – for free.· Pear matches up sponsors with groups and organizations within the communit
Pear works as the middleman to help connect sponsors and groups in need.· Pear helps the group leader create a Pear, and the group leader invites others to join.· A dedicated community manager at Pear will help groups get the most money from their Pear.· Groups earn sponsorship money by creating a Pear for their group and sharing with others who complete digital incentives to earn more money.

Here's a video with more details on how works:

Sponsorships can come in various forms, such as fundraising donations, food donations, shirt donations, and more.  One item that every team needs is a set of uniforms.  It helps with team morale and it looks great on the field! If your child's team needs uniforms, you're in luck!  Safeskin Sport Wraps & First Aid Tape has joined as a sponsor, offering up to $1,000 towards custom t-shirts for qualifying teams on Here's what you have to do:
  • Sign your child's team up at
  • Each team member completes a series of social network actions on behalf of Safeskin -- things such as liking Safeskin on Facebook, following Safeskin on Instagram or signing up for an email. For every step team members complete, they'll get dollars towards their goal.
  • Team members have 10 days to complete their online tasks.  At the end of the 10-day period, the team can claim an online certificate for whatever amount was earned by the whole team.
Does your child's team already have uniforms?  You can always support another team, like the Coweta Soccer Club!  All over the country, there are teams looking for sponsors via PearUP, and it only takes a few minutes of your time to engage with brands and help the teams out.

It's easy and it's free.  What a great way to keep the team spirit alive on the field and off the field!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, courtesy of Global Influence.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Find some Runs Worth The Drive with the Buick Verano Turbo

Stanford Dish
I've been running to stay in shape for almost 20 years now.  It's free, it's easy to learn (not so easy to do!), it's great at burning calories -- and I love the runner's high I get that makes me feel like I could conquer the world!

Most of the time, all I have to do is step out of my front door and start my workout.  But convenient as it is, running around the neighborhood, time and time again, passing by the same houses and cars and sidewalks, can get old.  Sometimes it's nice to get in the car and drive somewhere totally different.

I'm definitely not alone in this; in a recent survey, 71 percent of users of MapMyFitness apps said they drove to a specific location to start their workouts. Whether it's a new route or new scenery or a new challenge that you crave, mixing up your runs can definitely keep your running workouts fresh and exciting!  That's why Buick partnered with MapMyFitness this summer to create the "Runs Worth the Drive Challenge" -- to help runners find, record and share their favorite routes, while also learning how vehicles like the Buick Verano fit into an active lifestyle.
Buick Verano Turbo

The Challenge ended last week, with a record-breaking 89,000 participants!  I was one of those participants; Buck actually loaned me a Verano Turbo for a week, encouraged me to sign up for the Challenge, and challenged me to explore some running trails to see whether I could discover some "Runs Worth the Drive".  After a week of driving the Buick Verano Turbo to some great running trails, I have to say I enjoyed the drive to the trails just as much as I enjoyed running those trails!  Here's what I loved about the Buick Verano Turbo:

Buick Verano Turbo

* It drives like a dream.  The problem with driving to trails, of course, is that you need to allow time to get there, which makes your total workout time a lot longer -- but the Verano Turbo zips along the highway like a dream.  Driving this car gives me a sense of freedom and "one-ness" with the road that I get when I'm running down a hill!   I'm not surprised that Buick claims the Verano Turbo is "more powerful and faster than Lexus IS250, Acura ILX and Audi A3".

* I feel safe driving it. Even though it can drive really fast and accelerate like no one's business, I still feel in control.  And I love the safety sensors that beep when you're in reverse and something (a car, a pedestrian, a bike) is approaching the car from the side (it's called Rear Cross Traffic Alert).
Buick Verano Turbo

* The interior screams luxury and comfort.  After a tiring run, it's so nice to get back to this car, turn the airconditioner on, and just take a moment to breathe.  The interior is nice and roomy, and the model I drove came with beautiful leather seats.  And even though I get all hot and sweaty and gross after a run, Buick tells me that the interior has been tested for resistance against the effects of sweat, sun, sunscreen and bug spray -- so the car won't start smelling funky after 3 months of driving it.

* It's surprisingly affordable.  Guess what?  MSRP for the Buick Verano Turbo is $29,990!  Car and Driver says the average price paid is $28, 491 (note: I think these prices are for the 2014 model; pricing for the 2015 model is still unavailable).  I think that's great for a car in the compact luxury class. In fact, the Buick Verano was recognized for 5-Year Lowest Cost of Ownership of Entry Luxury Sedan by Kelly Blue Book.

I do think they could have made the car look a bit more like a sports car and less like a sedan, but on the whole, I think the Buick Verano Turbo is a great car for anyone who wants a car that can keep up with their active lifestyle.

Now, on to the big question: are there any Runs Worth The Drive in my area?  You betcha!  I ran 4 times that week, at three of my favorite local running destinations:

Cornelius Bol Park
Bol Park has a trail that's great for beginners: it's about a 1.5 mile loop with mild elevation.  There are so many trees, you'd never guess you were in a neighborhood park (yes, some lucky folks don't even have to drive there!).  The trail leads you past a creek with a rope swing, past the famous Barron Park Donkeys, and across two creeks.
Cornelius Bol Park, Palo Alto

Baylands Preserve near Shoreline Lake Park 
Shoreline Lake Park has a trail running through about half of the lake's edge, but there are nicer, wilder, and longer trails just behind the lake, where the paths join with the Palo Alto Baylands. There are a ton of trails of various lengths, weaving in and out and around the Baylands, and the surrounding area is filled with plants and wildlife.
Shoreline Lake, Mountain View

Stanford Dish
The Dish is my favorite running trail to drive to!  I try to go there at least once a week (I went twice last week!).  I can't even take a photo of the car next to the trail, because you have to park a bit of a distance away.  The Dish is not for the faint of heart; a complete loop is 3.7 miles of up-and-down torture.  I have never been able to run it the whole way, and even walking it is guaranteed to give anyone a great workout -- but you are rewarded with a view of practically the entire Silicon Valley, as well as close encounters with all kinds of wildlife.  I have seen squirrels and gophers and hawks and deer and snakes; I haven't seen mountain lions yet, but sightings are common.  The beauty of this place never fails to fill my soul.
Stanford Dish, Stanford

Disclosure: I was loaned a Buick Verano Turbo for a week.  Product information (in italics) is provided by the featured company/product. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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