Category Archives: Giveaway

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The Secret Lives of Animals: Book Review

On the heels of their highly successful and informative books, The Truth About Nature and The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book, authors Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer are back with another delightful and fact-filled book that illuminates nature, The Secret Lives of Animals: 1,001 Tidbits, Oddities & Amazing Facts about North America’s Coolest Animals. Also returning for the third book is talented illustrator Rachel Riordan.


Like their other titles, The Secret Lives of Animals is colorful, easy to use, and appealing from start to finish. Animals are helpfully grouped by category, and each gets its moment in the sun, with illustrations, details and little-known facts.

Kids who are curious about animals will learn a lot about their favorites, as well as some creatures they’ve never heard of. Those who want to get outside to experience animals directly will find plenty of ideas. There is also terrific general science information to help explain concepts like migrations, taxonomies, the continental shelf, anadromous fish (I had never heard that term either), metamorphosis, keystone species, and how to tell a horn from an antler.

Inspired by the book, my family and I returned to some of our favorite activities, like crabbing, tidepooling, and making a bird feeder to attract and feed and local birds. We also took a walk to identify squirrel nests, looked at a spider web with a magnifying glass, and listened for animal sounds at night.



In addition, we learned a lot of fun facts about our animal friends and devised a quiz based on the tidbits in the book. See how well you do! (answers below.)

               Secret Lives of Animals Unofficial Quiz

  1. How do prairie dogs help their local grass?
  2. Are caribou and reindeer the same species?
  3. Do sockeye salmon change color after they spawn?
  4. What are baby mice sometimes called?
  5. Which animal dates back more than 300 million years and had a wingspan of up to 2 feet?
  6. Can you tell how old a rattlesnake is by counting the number of rattles?
  7. The Giant Pacific species of what animal weighs more than 600 pounds?
  8. How many species of fly are there?
  9. Can a sponge grow to be bigger than a human?
  10. What animal did Benjamin Franklin propose as America’s national bird, rather than the Bald Eagle?

                Quiz Answers

  1. They keep it trimmed.
  2. Yes.
  3. Yes.
  4. Pinkies.
  5. Dragonfly.
  6. No.
  7. Giant Octopus.
  8. 150,000.
  9. Yes.
  10. Turkey.

If you enjoyed playing along, you will enjoy The Secret Lives of Animals! I have one copy to give away. To enter, leave a comment below, listing either your favorite animal or one you want to learn more about. I’ll choose a winner using a random generator by Midnight, PST, Weds, Nov. 4. The winner will be notified by email.

Five Ways to Nourish and Renew Your Spirit + a Giveaway

I’m thrilled to offer you this guest post from Renée Peterson Trudeau. This article originally appeared in her book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family. In the spirit of retreat and renewal, Renée is also offering an exciting Year of Self-Care Mother’s Day Giveaway. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how you can enjoy nourishment, relaxation, empowering coaching and inspiration for an entire year (a $2,700+ value)!


It’s 1976, and my mom and dad are sitting quietly with their eyes closed, hands resting upward — thumb and index finger touching — while my younger siblings crawl on their backs and shoulders. My older two brothers and I sit nearby, holding our own meditation poses, bored, rolling our eyes and counting the minutes until this ritual will end.

At least once a week or whenever things got stressful, my parents would pull all five of their children — ranging in age from ten to one — into our library for a family meditation. As much as I complained, a part of me yearned for this spiritual practice.

Spiritual renewal is essential to our emotional well-being. It helps us nurture our essence, feel centered, build inner strength, live in integrity, and trust life. It allows us to experience a connection to a higher power, feel a sense of purpose, and experience meaning in our lives.

There are many different ways we explore and nurture our spiritual lives. For some this includes spending time in nature, yoga, prayer and meditation, or musical or artistic expression. Some of the daily practices that provide me spiritual nourishment include:

Creating Ritual

We all crave sacredness and ritual in our everyday lives — not just around birthdays and weddings. Rituals can be both carefully planned events and casual but regular remembrances such as voicing gratitude before a meal or creating dedicated space in your day for contemplation.

When we mark important transitions or milestones in our lives — whether it’s your daughter’s first period or your son starting kindergarten —  we connect to the sacredness of everyday life. We remember that life is mysterious and we’re more than our to-do lists!

Cultivating Stillness

Stillness, whether experienced through prayer, meditation, or reflection, is our time to be alone and connect to our inner wisdom or our higher power — what I call our internal GPS system. It’s essential for all of us to carve out time for quiet reflection each and every day.

One of the biggest gifts I’ve received from a daily meditation practice is theability to live more comfortably with what is–whether that’s my husband’s recent layoff or a car accident. Life is like the weather in Texas — constantly changing. Meditation has helped anchor me, so that despite this impermanence and turmoil, I’ve learned how to be still and find my center in the face of it all.


Practicing Service to Others

Mother Teresa says, “The fruit of love is service.”

We are all interconnected. The more we reach out and are present to one another’s pain and suffering, the stronger we become and the easier it is to embrace the esoteric idea that we’re all one. I believe huge shifts in consciousness can occur when we reach out and help one another navigate this sometimes scary, often isolating and perplexing, but beautiful world. Sometime that might look like serving soup at your local homeless shelter and other times, it’s helping out your neighbor who just lost her husband.

Living in the Present

Many great spiritual teachers believe the answer to everything is to just “be here now,” and that our suffering and emotional distress would end if we simply stopped resisting the present moment.

One weekend as I sat on the couch with a full-body cold: a splitting headache, body chills and a nonstop runny nose, I thought about this principle. And, as I watched the things I was missing fly out the window — my friend’s birthday party, my son’s piano recital — I connected to my breath and felt myself arrive in the present moment. I sensed my resistance begin to dissipate and a feeling of peace slowly settled over me. I temporarily suspended my desire for things to be different and I embraced that on the couch, with a cold, was exactly where I was supposed to be.


Choosing Happiness

Three of my immediate family members died unexpectedly between my twenty-sixth and thirty-fourth birthdays. For years I let those losses dictate how much and how often, I could experience joy. Anytime I started to feel light, free, or happy, the old feeling of “waiting for the other shoe to drop” would creep in.

Can you only be happy if things are going your way and all the stars are aligned in your favor?

I believe we’re born with the innate capacity to experience emotional well-being and joy; it’s our birthright to feel good. Happiness comes from within; we’re wired for it. We just have to remember to choose this moment to moment.

It’s easy to forget who we really are. To lose sight of what really matters. To fall asleep and not remember how interconnected we all are and that we’re fully human and, at the same time, divine.

A regular spiritual practice — whether that’s daily prayer or meditation, being in a spiritual community, or singing— serves to anchor us. It grounds us and helps us navigate the challenges we face from just being human. It helps us stay awake.

So ultimately, we can begin to let go, trust the rhythm and flow of life and relax into the beauty of our true nature.

# # #

The preceding was based on the new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family ©2013 Renée Peterson Trudeau.

Life balance coach/speaker Renée Peterson Trudeau is the author of the new book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family.  Thousands of women in ten countries are participating in Personal Renewal Groups based on her first book, the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. Visit her online at


Enter Renée Trudeau’s Year of Self-Care Mother’s Day Giveaway and enjoy nourishment, relaxation, empowering coaching and inspiration for an entire year! This is a $2,700+ value that includes an all-expenses paid trip to Renée Trudeau and Deborah Kern’s Putting Yourself First: The Ultimate Self-Care Retreat for Women at Omega Institute , a RTA-Certified Facilitator Deluxe Starter Package to lead self-renewal groups/retreats, a personalized, high-level coaching session and much more.

Learn how to enter the giveaway. Entries close May 11.

Photos: Susan Sachs Lipman, Graphics: Renée Peterson Trudeau

Win $5,000 for your School Garden from Dole and Captain Planet Foundation

School gardens provide such a unique learning environment for kids. I’ve seen gardens used to teach science, math, history, social studies, art, language, and other subjects, in addition to teaching kids the mastery and joy of caring for living things, and the methods to grow and harvest their own food and other items. Often school gardens are the only places in which kids will gather these crucial experiences and even get outside during their school and home days.

So I was thrilled to learn that DOLE Fruit Bowls® and Captain Planet Foundation are teaming up to host the “DOLE Fruit Bowls & Captain Planet Foundation’s Learning Garden Challenge.” The contest will recognize K-8 schools that have established school gardens that provide occasions for learning and environmental stewardship, and an understanding of the role that fresh fruits and vegetables play in a healthy lifestyle.

If your school has a learning garden, you could win $5000 plus a bunch of other prizes from Dole and the Captain Planet Foundation — It’s easy! Enter here. The deadline to enter is March 12, 2014 at 11:59PM ET.


This post is sponsored by Dole and the Captain Planet Foundation. The opinions expressed are my own.

Images: Dole, Susan Sachs Lipman

Other Slow Family posts you might like:

It’s National Pollinator Week: Have fun attracting and helping bees, butterflies and birds
Make a Quick and Easy Valentine Bird Feeder
Happy Earth Day: Beginner’s guide to getting your garden growing
Earth Day and Every Day: 11 ways to make gardening extra fun for kids
The Rise and Fall of New York City’s School Gardens


Take Drazil Kids Tea Back to School and or on a Family Adventure

My whole family is thrilled that we found Drazil Kids Tea just in time to enjoy this summer and pack into healthy school lunches. Drazil is immediately, amazingly good! The flavors are fantastic. Anna instantly loved Grape Bliss. Each of the other flavors – Punch Passion, Tropical Burst, and Yummy Berry – was a favorite of other kid (and adult) testers. This tea is really good.

In addition to the fabulous taste, there are a lot of things for parents to be excited about when it comes to Drazil Tea. The portability is fantastic. We’ve already taken Drazil along on many bike rides and hikes. It is backpack- and lunchbox- ready.

Drazil Tea is also a healthy alternative to many juices and juice drinks. Drazil has 35% less natural sugars than 100% juice and half the calories of many juices and juice drinks. It’s sweetened with real fruit juices, rather than cane sugar. The teas are caffeine-free and contain lots of naturally occurring antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The yummy taste comes from a unique herbal blend of Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Rooibos, Pomegranate, and fruit pieces. The teas are pasteurized and contain nothing artificial. All good!

We’re thrilled that we can find Drazil Tea throughout Northern California and on Amazon because we will be stocking up.

Enter the Giveaway

One lucky reader of this blog will win a variety pack of Drazil Kids Tea (32 boxes in 4 flavors). Follow the instructions in the widget below for your chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post is sponsored by Drazil Tea. The opinions expressed are my own.

Enter the OgoSport PlayRefuel Contest

Outdoor Play Equipment from OgoSport

Where do you and your family like to play and eat?  Share your tips and take part in OgoSport‘s PlayRefuel Summer Contest! The contest is designed to help families discover places to eat and play in cities and towns across the U.S.  Share your favorite playgrounds, parks and outdoor spaces (Play), and/or places to grab a bite with kids (Refuel). You’ll be entered in a drawing for a $250 OgoSport gift basket and other fun prizes. The contest runs through August 31. Winners will be announced in fall.

Here’s how to play:

1. Enter OgoSport’s Twitter or Facebook contest page:

2. Click on either Twitter or Facebook.

3. Submit the name and location of a favorite place to eat or play and two brief descriptions of what you like about it.  If on Twitter, use the hashtag #playrefuel; on Facebook enter the contest link for details.

You can also send submissions via a postcard or letter to:

OgoSport, LLC
Brooklyn Navy Yard, Bldg. 3 Suite #408
63 Flushing Avenue, Unit 137
Brooklyn, NY 11205

4. Each submission – up to 10 – will enter your name in our raffle drawing for a chance to win a $250 OgoSport gift basket in addition to other prizes.

Get inspired by OgoSport’s disks, darts, bits, kits and other fun sports equipment for outdoor play.

I look forward to playing, refueling, and sharing my top spots for both.

The OgoSport Mini Disk FORA


This post is sponsored by OgoSport. The opinions expressed are my own.

Photos: OgoSport



NFL Play 60 Encourages Kids to Be Active, Prizes Awarded for Original Games

The National Football League has announced a new campaign to help reverse the trend of childhood obesity. The NFL Play 60 Program encourages kids to be active for 60 minutes each day through school and community events. They are also sponsoring the NFL Play 60 Invention Contest, to inspire kids 6-13 to invent their own game, activity, piece of fitness equipment, football-themed innovation, or training device for a chance to win $5,000, a 3-day/2-night trip for two to the Grand Prize Event, and an NFL Prize Pack. Two finalists and 12 semi-finalists will also receive prizes. The contest site offers brainstorming tips and inspiration to get you started.

Many NFL players and other athletes utilize a simple and extremely inexpensive piece of fitness equipment to help them stay in shape – a jump rope. Jumping rope has gone in and out of fashion since ancient Egypt, when both men and women jumped over vines. It wasn’t until the 20th century that jumpers incorporated the sing-song games and rhymes that many of us associate with childhood and particularly girls.

As a fan of simple and inexpensive games and equipment, as well as the origin and continuation of playground games that are passed down through the generations through oral history, I love everything about jumping rope. As inspiration, here are three fitness benefits to jumping rope. It can be easy to fit jumping rope into your 60 minutes of daily fitness. Below are some fun jump rope games that will keep you singing and laughing as well as help keep you fit. They are games my mom taught me and I taught my daughter. Who knows, you might invent the next jump rope or other fun game.

You’ll need:

One regular jump rope for one person, or a longer jump rope for two turners to turn, while a jumper (or more) jumps.

The jumper jumps over the rope each time it hits the ground. Jumpers can jump in one jump each turn or one big jump followed by one smaller jump each turn. A turn ends when the jumper fails to jump over the turning rope. The following are classic, easy jump-rope games. They don’t have tunes, so much as chants, so they are especially easy to pick up.

A My Name is Alice

This is a fun add-on game that also calls for a little creativity and is different every time

The first jumper starts with the letter A, and fills in the blanks in this sentence, however he or she chooses:

A my name is ____ and my husband’s name is ____ and we live in ____ and we sell ____.

For example: A my name is Alice and my husband’s name is Al and we live in Albuquerque and we sell Apples.

If the jumper hasn’t tripped up, he or she moves on to the letter B, such as:

B my name is Betty and my husband’s name is Bob and we live in Boise and we sell Beans.

Jumpers move through the alphabet as long as their turns last. New jumpers usually start with A (that makes it easy to compare how far each gets) and choose new names.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

This jump-rope game is a little more advanced, as it requires player to pantomime the activity they are singing about (to the best of their abilities) as they are jumping.

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn around,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, touch the ground,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, tie your shoe,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, that will do!

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, go upstairs,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say your prayers,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, turn out the lights,

Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, say good-night!

The following games involve counting as far as jumpers can get during each turn.

Mabel Mabel

Mabel, Mabel, set the table,

Do it as fast as you are able,

Don’t forget the Red. (pause) Hot. (pause) PEPPERS!
On “Peppers”, start turning the rope doubly-fast, counting a point for each turn. The jumper jumps until they miss and are out.


Cinderella, dressed in yella

went downstairs to kiss a ‘fella.

By mistake she kissed a snake.

How many doctors did it take?

1, 2, 3, ..  (Count each turn of the rope successfully jumped.)

 Apples, Peaches, Pears and Plums

Apples, peaches, pears and plums.

Tell me when your birthday comes.

January, February, March, .. (Count one month for each turn of the rope successfully jumped.)

Have an idea for a NEW way to get active? Encourage your kids to enter the NFL Play60 Invention Contest! Enter today!

Want a free NFL Play60 poster? Email with your mailing address to request one!

These jump rope games were adapted from Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, which contains this and 300+ more fun family activities.

This post is sponsored by NFL Play 60. The views expressed are my own.

Jump rope photo: Flickr Creative Commons

New Bookboard App Helps Inspire a Lifelong Love of Reading

Our whole family adores books. Especially children’s books. And with that comes delightful, but groaning, shelves (and piles and boxes and an attic full) of books.

What if there were a way to cut down on the volume but still enjoy current and classic children’s books that were available as easily as streamed movies, that challenged our children to grow and discover new titles, and that made books as accessible, interactive and fun to use as the latest game app? There is. Bookboard brings you all of the above and more in a well-designed new system that lets kids read books and participate in fun online progress metrics that they unlock through their reading achievements. Book titles are based on personalized suggestions and are immediately available for download, the same way Netflix movies are available for screening.

Parents can also follow their children’s progress and help them find new titles. Bookboard encourages many of the traits that help create lifelong readers, even among those who are reluctant. These include variety and choice of materials, social interaction, and both new and familiar experiences.

On a test-run, we found Bookboard’s books and graphics attractive and its interface appealing and easy to use.

As a book-loving mom in a family of lifelong readers (hence the groaning bookshelves), I’m thrilled that there are new opportunities for new generations to enjoy reading and books in a way that is comfortable, natural and appealing. Neither Michael nor I would give back any of the hours that we spent with Anna, reading her multiple bedtime stories night after night. The time we spent reading together helped create an intense bond that lasts to this day, a bond due both to our physical closeness and to the wonderful books we all discovered together and still talk about.

Bookboard is free for a limited time. A subscription service is planned.

Sign up and read a book from Bookboard between now and February 11, 2013,  and you’ll be entered in a giveaway for an iPad Mini. When you sign up, you’ll have access to Bookboard (and their current slate of titles) free of charge for one month. See Bookboard for rules and details.

This post is sponsored by Bookboard. The opinions expressed are my own.

Images: Paper Tigers, Bookboard

Make Yummy Desserts with Tillamook Yogurt

Ever since Tillamook introduced its regular and light yogurt, we’ve been eating it, well, almost as quickly as we eat Tillamook cheese. We recently decided to branch out from breakfast and check out some of the yogurt recipes on the Tillamook site. We were very glad we did!

My mom used to make yogurt pie, using a graham cracker crust. I so associate it with my childhood summers, and have made it for my family over the years. I was especially delighted to find this recipe for Yogurt Pie made with a shortbread crust and drizzled with melted chocolate. It’s delicious and kicks the traditional yogurt pie up a notch, while still being very easy to make.

Yogurts also make wonderful bases for smoothies and shakes. The Bronson Sunrise Smoothie is terrific in the morning, after a bike ride, or after school. We also like all these Shake recipes, which can be made in a blender to create a shake or a smoothie.

Tillamook yogurt contains no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial growth hormones.

Click the coupon below for “Buy one, get one free” Tillamook yogurt coupons.

Read my review of Tillamook yogurt flavors.

Tillamook provided sponsorship and coupons to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Tillamook Yogurt: Spoonfuls of Flavor from Oregon Creamery

My whole family has been longtime fans of Tillamook cheese, especially sharp cheddar slices, which work really well for my daughter Anna’s favorite sandwiches. So we were naturally delighted to learn that Tillamook had branched into yogurt and that it was available in our local stores.

I bought a few different flavors and brought them home. In addition to cheese, I’m a longtime yogurt eater. (Never met a dairy product I didn’t like.) Anna and yogurt, however — that’s a different story. She never liked any yogurt I urged upon her (and there have been many.)

And then she tried Tillamook. And things changed.

What did she like so much? She and I both like the lowfat strawberry. (All the flavors we tried were lowfat.) The Oregon strawberry yogurt is very bright and full of sweet strawberry taste. It’s very pleasing and bound to be a kid favorite in many homes, just as it now is in our house.

The raspberry yogurt is also bright and fruity. The blueberry yogurt has a very nice distinctive  blueberry flavor, partly drawn from sweet bits of fruit. Mountain huckleberry boasts a big, dark berry flavor. We found the marionberry yogurt tasty and the most subtle of the berry yogurts.

French vanilla bean yogurt is also wonderful. The vanilla flavor is extremely smooth, distinct and tasty.

All the flavors and textures we tried were very kid-friendly — pleasing, full, a bit on the sweet side, and very yummy.

The Tillamook web site reveals 31 yogurt flavors in all, including lots of exotic ones that sound fun to try, such as strawberry lemonade, pomegranate blackberry, dark cherry, baked apple pie, and country orange cream, just to mention a few intriguing sounding ones.

Tillamook yogurts have a very smooth texture, with the fruit already mixed in.

All Tillamook yogurt contains no artificial sweeteners, no artificial flavors or colors, no high fructose corn syrup, and no artificial growth hormones.

Click the coupon above for a chance to win free Tillamook yogurt for 6 months.

Tillamook provided sponsorship and coupons to facilitate this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

BabbaBox Provides Fun, Easy Activities to Engage Kids

In the course of speaking to people about my book, Fed Up with Frenzy, I’ve met many parents who want to do more fun things with their kids, but don’t know how to get started. Some don’t know the rules to playground and other games and some are intimidated by gardening or crafts. While my book contains hundreds of simple activities that families can do right away and either require no materials or basic items that they probably have around the house, some people would still like a little more help, particularly when it comes to crafting.

That’s where BabbaBox comes in. BabbaBox makes it convenient to start spending quality time with your kids because all the materials and content for a variety of activities are included in each box. Boxes can be purchased individually or by a monthly subscription that provides a different themed box each month.

These are some of the upcoming monthly themes: Royal Kingdom,
Rainforest, Recycling, Awesome Artist, and Gratitude.

Each BabbaBox includes four major components centered around the ways kids engage and learn: Create, Explore, Story Tell and Connect. Children create through two or more projects they make themselves.  A thought-provoking activity helps them explore.  Also included in the box are a book that presents the monthly theme, and links to digital downloads.


This is included in the Gratitude Box:

CREATE: Materials to make three projects, including a serving tray, thank you cards and a hot pad to gift.

EXPLORE: A disposable camera and photo album to make a gratitude journal.

STORY TELL: Giving Thanks, an illustrated book about a father-son nature walk.

CONNECT: Gratitude app downloads that helps kids bake their own cookies to virtually gift.

Click to watch a video preview of another wonderful box, the Awesome Artist box.

With the holidays coming, BabbaBox, at $24.99 a month, makes a reasonably priced gift that provides more long-lasting, quality play than a lot of other toys.

Would you like to win a free annual BabbaBox membership, $1500 in cash, or gift cards from Starbucks, Target,, or others?  Enter the BabbaCo Holiday Sweepstakes.

Have fun engaging with your family.

Photos: BabbaCo

This post is sponsored by BabbaCo. The opinions expressed are my own.

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