I need Back-to-School help – a reader challenge/contest

I admit it. I’m a deal shopper.

I have spent many a July Sunday going through sale ads, cutting coupons, seeking penny pencils. I have arrived at a variety of big-box stores bright and early on weekday mornings, avoiding crowds and grabbing deals. I have hunted the elusive 8-pocket divided pocket folder from place to place.

I kind of liked it.

But now I’m a full-time working mom. My habits have to change. I am already predicting the many ways our lives will alter (and fearing the ways I haven’t even thought of.) Here’s what I know.

  • We will have less time to get ready in the mornings.
  • My sons will go to after-care each day, meaning I’ll need to provide additional school snacks.
  • I will no longer be available for, “Mom, I forgot my…”
  • Weekday school supply shopping is not an option.

Since I have three sons with crazy supply lists, less time, and no inclination to fight the evening and weekend crowds, I’ve already been looking for solutions to my school supply challenge. I was so glad when a friend hooked me up with The Write Stuff, a prepackaged school supply company, based right here in Illinois. While my sons’ school doesn’t participate in their school program (Boo-hoo!), I can order almost all of what I need through their website, at a good price and shipped right to my home (hooray!). Since they each have specific items on their lists, building 3 separate “a la carte” kits will just take a little time on the computer.

That’s one challenge down, but what about the rest?

So I turn to you, dear readers. I’m looking for your best back-to-school advice. Please comment on this post with helpful tips for getting and staying organized for the school year.

On Monday, July 16, 2012, I will choose one random winner for a Write Stuff school supply kit, to be shipped in time for this school year. (Tips may also appear on the websites and/or blogs for The Write Stuff as well as Go Girl Communications.)

Thank you friends.

Disclosure: I sometimes receive complimentary products and services in connection to my blog, in this case a school supply kit. I choose to write only about products, destinations and services that I enjoy. All opinions are 100% my own.

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The Write Stuff kit ships in a keepsake box.

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I was surprised at how much fits in that box. Brand name supplies including dry-erase markers and highlighters.

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Blue Asylum: New review and GIVEAWAY

I have never read anything by Kathy Hepinstall, but was happy to win a copy of her latest novel, Blue Asylum, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Set in an insane asylum in the Civil War south, I predicted a perfect summer beach chair read. And I was not wrong, but I was thrilled to discover that Hepinstall added a number of genius layers, elevating Blue Asylum beyond predictable historical fiction.

Iris Dunleavy, a seemingly proper Virginia plantation wife has been committed by a judge for some mysterious wrongdoing against her husband. The author unveils that back story slowly while we come to meet the patients/inmates trapped on the island which houses the asylum.  Because the narrator’s voice alternates between Iris, the asylum’s doctor, his son, and another patient, you view the characters from a variety of viewpoints.

Ambrose killed his first man in filtered sunlight.”

Does this make him crazy? Can Iris save him? Can the doctor? Can he save himself? Hepinstall does not try to answer every question. Instead she follows the natural storyline of alliances and adversaries when all participants are help in captivity. Irish and Doctor have an especially contentious relationship.

They had engaged in what could not be called treatment or even discussion, but open combat, the two of them a microcosm of the great war raging in the far distance: one side that desired autonomy, and the other that took independence as a sign of madness.”

Of course, setting her story during the Civil Way, Hepinstall is telling a bigger story about captivity and the quest for freedom. Sometimes she makes that point in an obvious way, and sometimes she works subtly and brilliantly.

The doctor wished the lamb had never been brought to the island. He hadn’t missed it, not until it came and went. Now every other meat was going to taste like not-lamb before it tasted like chicken or pig or beef or fish.”

Overall, she handles the subject and story beautifully, making Blue Asylum a terrific summer read.

So now for the GIVEAWAY!!!

Since this book was sent to me as a prize, I want to do the same for one lucky reader. Just comment on this post for your chance to win.

Want a second chance? Those of you on Twitter can copy and paste this tweet

Who doesn’t love a freebie? Enter for a chance to win BLUE ASYLUM from @AlenaMurguia http://wp.me/p2g3Iz-dl

— on your feed and I’ll put your name in the hat a second time.

I’ll pick a winner on Friday, June 29, 2012.

Good luck and thanks for participating in my first giveaway. Follow this blog for more giveaways to come.