Monday, September 26, 2016

2016 Fall To Do List

*Celebrate Noah's 11th Birthday
*Go to the Pumpkin Patch
*Scrapbook last year's school photos
*Carve pumpkins
*Toast pumpkin seeds
*Create Halloween costumes
*Try a new pumpkin muffin recipe
*Plan ahead for Christmas
*Plan ahead for Lydia's birthday
*Attend lots of Fall Ball games
*Go to a Harvest Festival
*Take the kids' annual photos
*Decorate my front porch
*Make apple cider in the crockpot
*Watch the stars come out
*Go on a couple of picnics
*Attend a couple of field trips
*Try 2-3 new pumpkin recipes
What are your goals for the fall?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Give me a high five!  We finished Josiah's thank you cards already.  And believe me, that's a feat when you realize you're working with a 5 year old.  I also got Noah's birthday invitations finished and worked on a shadowbox.

What I'm Reading:  I'm working on Mentoring Mom and All Joy and No Fun.  I'd heard a few things about the second one and I'm finding it very insightful into parenthood.  Sad, happy, ... so many emotions.

What I'm Doing:  This week we're in the full swing of fall... swim, dance, baseball, school, selling a few things on Facebook.  

What I'm Watching:  I love Wednesday nights on ABC and the fall shows are returning.  I was pleasantly surprised by Speechless.  Not appropriate for kids under 13, but very funny, especially for those of us involved in special ed, social work.

What I'm Enjoying:  Organic, farm apples... apple cider... middle school physics... 

What are you up to?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Saving Money on Food at Disneyland

*This post was originally published on 2/3/14.  Enjoy!

Having lunch with Great-Grandma photo 180103_10150145038981276_8359379_n.jpg

We are a Disneyland crazy family.  There's just something about a singing and dancing mouse that gives us warm fuzzies.  Yeah, now that I put it in writing, it sounds a little crazy to me too.  Anyways...

Luckily for us, our extended family is just as crazy about that mouse as we are.  That's made for some really fun family vacations.  As we're gearing up again to go later this spring, I'm thinking more and more about how to save money and still enjoy ourselves.  Especially with these three bottom-less pits I call my children.  :-)

When it comes to saving money on food at Disneyland, these are a few tips and tricks that have served us well:

*Look to stay at a hotel that serves breakfast (or eat before the park)-- Many hotels in the area serve a continental breakfast.  Start out your day on budget by saving money in this area.  If your hotel does not serve breakfast, make a run to a local supermarket the night before and stock up on granola, yogurt, fruit, and other quick items to serve for breakfast.

*Pack a soft sided cooler-- While you cannot carry in a hard sided cooler or glass containers, Disneyland does allow soft sided coolers.  If we have an extra set of hands, we might pack a small cooler with an ice pack.  I can throw in hard boiled eggs, string cheese, go-gurts, packaged dips, etc.  

*Packing quick snacks-- Even if I'm not packing a soft sided cooler, I pack a ton of snacks in a backpack.  Pretzels, fruit, dried fruit, veggies, granola, bars, etc. are easily thrown in and ready to avoid a meltdown.  Not only will these handy snacks save you a ton of money, they're also great for when you're stuck in line.  I can't tell you how many times my kids have said their hungry right in the middle of the longest line in the park.  Luckily I almost always have something quick and easy with me.

*Drinks-- We're a big water drinking family, but the price of bottled water is outrageous.  So we carry our water bottles.  We fill them up with ice before leaving the hotel in the morning and a few hours later, it's melted nicely to drink.  Most restaurants in Disneyland will refill them free of charge throughout the day.  Additionally, you can always refill with filtered water in either of the baby stations found in both Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.  On the rare occasion that we do drink something other than water, the kids know that it's a treat and sodas will not be bought at every meal.

*Snacks are overpriced-- I know.  I'm supposed to be giving you ideas on how to save money.  But walking into the day knowing that you will spend more than usual can actually be reassuring.  If I walk into my day not allowing any room for splurging, I get a little grouchy.  So know your limit.  It is one special snack a day or two?  A certainly snack allotment for the trip?  Or a special family treat at dinner?  Know that it will be somewhat pricey and PLAN when you're going to spend that money.  (for us, it's always a Dole Whip and a cinnamon roll)

*Check out menus before hand-- I try to grab means from the restaurants as we walk through Main Street first thing in the morning.  This gives me a chance to check out the selection and prices before we're all hungry and clamoring for food.  It's a lot easier to plan when the kids are happy rather than hungry.  My husband and I will skim what we feel is nutritionally acceptable (if there is such a word at Disneyland) and within our budget.  Then as we're walking to the restaurant later, we can tell that kids what their choices are within that.  Often times, we've also found items that can be shared between parent and kids or between two kids. This has saved us a ton.  Many of the menus can be viewed on Disneyland's website as well.

*Look for items you can split-- I touched on this already, but many of the restaurants have meals that are easily large enough to split.  My husband and I split a soup and sandwich at the Jolly Holiday and still count it as one of our favorite meals.  Rancho Zocalo have great items for splitting and an order of clam chowder in a bread bowl can easily fill two people.

*Food offsite is expensive too-- Know that food outside of the park is expensive too.  So if you're trying to save money by leaving for meals, it's probably going to cost more when you factor in lost park time and travel.  For us, it hasn't been worth the hassle.

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So what are your splurges?
And what are your tricks for saving money on food?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Homemade Dancing Ribbons {Frugal Gift Idea}

I love the preschool years.  They're so full of discovery and excitement.  Every day's a new adventure!

And as part of that adventure, my preschoolers have always loved music.  Learning to move their bodies to the beat and dance around the room has been a favorite activity for getting their wiggles out, often exploring into a case of the giggles.

So we've always had a set of these dance ribbons in our home and when my niece had a birthday, I had to make her a set too.  They're frugal, functional, and so much fun.

 photo IMG_1158_zps82de801d.jpg

Here's what you'll need:
*Set of shower curtain rings (Dollar Tree has several colors)
*Lots of ribbon (Dollar Tree or partial rolls on clearance)
*Hot glue gun

These are so simple; it's ridiculous. 

*Measure your ribbon to your desired length.  I measured from about where my kid held their hands to just above the floor. 

*Now double the length, adding a bit more for your loop.  Cut.  

* Loop your ribbon over the curtain ring.  My ribbon kept wanting to slip.  So I hot glued the loop into place.

* After the glue dries on your ribbon dries, hot glue the opening on the curtain rings as well.  This will keep the ring shut and keep the clasp from pinching little fingers.


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These have made a great addition to music time and my kids love playing with them.  Plus they're a great gift for any preschooler who loves to dance.  

How do you encourage music and movement in your home?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Weekend Links

This Week:

What I Made:  Finally finished up all the games and decorations for this party.  Yeah!  It's gonna be a fun one.  And I finished the title scrapbook page for Josiah's one year album.

What I'm Reading:  I'm reading the book for the month's book club: The Mentoring Mom.  Each chapter is a quick read and full of great ideas.

What I'm Doing:  We're hosting family this weekend and throwing a birthday party.  It warmed up today so I'm trying to beat the heat as well.  :-)

What I'm Watching:   Lots of baseball... watched the finale of Master Chef this week (and picked the winner!)...  

What I'm Enjoying:  cantaloupe... dice math... poetry... memorizing Scripture with my kids...

What are you up to?

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