Monday, July 6, 2015

5 Tips to Vacation on a Budget



School is done and kids are going to be getting bored. What does that call for but an amazing family vacation where you can relax, the kids can get out of the house and you can all take a much needed break from your regular life. Instead of spending thousands of dollars, there is a way to take a vacation while on a budget.


Choosing Your Destination



Before you decide to fly across the country, find out what great things are within a few hours of your current location. Driving is definitely cheaper than flying! Your local state park is always a great choice (and they are sometimes even free to visit!) On a recent visit to Mt. Rushmore, we found that not only was it free to visit the park, but there were several attractions nearby that were also free.

Research, Research, Research!


Now that you've chosen where you're going to go, check LivingSocial for the deals nearby. You can often find an experience that your kids won't soon forget at discounts of up to 75% or a relaxing day at the spa for yourself at a great price.

Make sure you also do a search of the local attractions and find out if they offer discounts. On a trip to Bear Mountain USA, we found that not only did we get a discount because we had a child under the age of two, but they also offered a military discount!

Ask Friends/Relatives to Care for Pets


Instead of boarding pets, consider asking a loved one that you trust to care for them while you're gone. Depending on the length of travel, this could save you hundreds of dollars! Make sure you include enough food, toys, and treats for you dog. A treat for your friends would also be much appreciated!

Consider Camping

 


Nothing brings the family together like a night or two under the stars, sharing a tent, roasting marshmallows and talking about your lives. Many campgrounds offer showers, bathrooms and other amenities, like wi-fi, so you'll still be able to enjoy some of the comforts of home, while saving a bundle! As an added benefit, while you might need to bring some bug spray for the mosquitos, you won't have to worry about bringing bedbugs home with you!

Plan Meals Carefully


If you don't have a plan, you can easily spend as much on meals as on the rest of your vacation combined! Instead, plan on bringing sandwiches for the road, hotdogs to roast over the fire, and check LivingSocial for the meals you plan on eating out. Instead of spending your money at a fast food joint and getting a greasy burger, you could spend the same amount at a sit-down restaurant and feel great!


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

LivingSocial - Experiences + a Giveaway!

Summer is the perfect time to introduce new experiences to your children... or have a fun one yourself! LivingSocial is THE place for affordable deals this summer, whether you're looking for a couples retreat or a trip to a waterpark for the family.

The great thing about LivingSocial is that even if you don't quite know what you want to do, but know that you're ready for some fun, all you have to do is enter your location and they will find the action for you! At the tips of your fingers, you'll find exciting trips to take, beautiful hotel stays, amazing restaurants, and even fabulous entertainment all at discounts that will make your wallet happy.


The offerings will vary by location, of course, but some of the exciting offerings are:

As you can see, no matter where you are in the country, you will be able to find something unique and fun to do. The best part? New deals are always being added in your area and they are always a deal compared to what you'd find at the event.


To get you started having fun this summer, LivingSocial is reaching out to offer a giveaway for one lucky winner. They will get $50 in Deal Bucks, to spend on anything on LivingSocial, whether it be tickets to a concert, a day at the spa, or attending dance classes. If you're in the mood to learn something new or take a much needed break, enter the giveaway on the form below.


Entry-Form
*I received compensation for this post. Regardless, I only promote products/services that I myself use and/or would use.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Little Leader Method to Getting Children to Eat Vegetables



*Today's Guest Post comes from Jennifer at MomTricks.com

My name is Jennifer and I have a new blog at MomTricks.com.

And I have a confession to make: I love vegetables. I even loved them when I was a kid.

While I know it's pretty common for kids to be fussy about them, I was never like that at all.

Unfortunately, my son didn't follow in my footsteps. He was a very picky eater, and I was convinced it was probably something I did wrong. We did go to McDonalds, and he loved his McNuggets, but getting him to eat veggies was an entirely different story.

He would just refuse to do it. Completely.

All hope wasn't lost, though. We did eventually get him to open up to eating new fruits and veggies, and while he isn't exactly the veggie-devouring machine his mama is, I'm always impressed with how brave he is about eating new things. Especially compared to how he used to be.

So, how did I do it?

I used what I now like to call the Little Leader Method.

Basically, I got him to help me make the meal, from start to finish. He was in charge, meaning he made the decisions. And it really helped!

First things first, I let him pick out the veggies.

Since he was young, he couldn't have just walked through the grocery store and picked something out. So, instead I picked out a few different things, like carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and potatoes. Then I let him pick which one he preferred from the bunch.

It turned out that the zucchini was the most appealing, so that's what we got!

If you start off like this, I believe even young children can make the connection between buying the veggies in the store and them winding up on their plate later.

It removes a lot of the fear and mystery behind the new and strange foods!

Next, I let him pick the recipe. What I think works best is to look online, especially on Pinterest. I find Pinterest to be the absolute best place to find new recipes!

Best of all, they always include high-quality, awesome and tasty pictures of the final dish. What I did was pick out which ones I liked, and then let my son pick from them.

That's all you really have to do. It's an important step, because they feel like they're important and making the decisions along the way.

All you have to do is head over to Pinterest and do a search for the veggie you have. For example, if you have a cauliflower, just look for “cauliflower recipes” and you'll instantly get a whole bunch of great recipes.

Then, just let your child pick one of them!

Finally, I let him prepare the meal. I think this is the most important part, because even a young child can make the direct connection between the preparation and what they eat at the end.

Since my son was young, I had him help wash the veggies and tear up lettuce leaves for a salad. That's something any young child can do.

But if your child is older, they can be more involved, and even do things like help cut up veggies or meats.

All that's important is that they do something to help, so they feel important and like they're in charge. It is called the Little Leader Method, remember!

I really believe that if you let them help as much as possible, it makes a big difference in how willing they are to eat the meal at the end. There's no more mystery: they know where the veggies came from, they know how they were used, and they helped with washing and preparing the meal.

Remember to have patience and understanding, and things will be much easier. I know you can help your son or daugther overcome their picky eating habits!

*Jennifer is a stay-at-home-mom, blogger, and full-time kid wrangler. She blogs at MomTricks.com on a variety of topics, all aiming to making your life as a mom easier. Stop by and say hello!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

BGCA’s Third Annual Cyber Safe Futures Event

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Club of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Internet safety is becoming a thing in my home. With children who've been exposed to the internet since they were wee ones, they are well aware that it holds many interesting games, jokes, videos, and things to learn.  What they aren't fully aware of yet, is that it also holds many dangers.


My oldest child is only ten, so I was shocked when, several months ago, I caught him getting up in the night to go on my computer without supervision - something he admitted to doing several times previously. It really shook me, but I realized that I just didn't have all the information to give him that he needed to know about how to be safe online.

That's where the Boys & Girls Club of America Cyber Safe has been a real help. It helps to bridge the gap between parents and kids and answers a lot of questions that we all have regarding cyber safety. Teens these days are more internet savvy than most parents and as such are the best resource when it comes to learning how to detect internet risks.

My favorite part of the site has to be where parents can ask expert teens questions about how to talk to their own kids, their thoughts on internet safety, and even what they should be on the lookout for with their kids. They give tips that most parents like me don't know. For example, did you know that a kid has to be 13 to use Facebook or Snapchat? I didn't and I know I've seen children younger than that on Facebook!

Not only is there a ton of information for both parents and teens (or pre-teens!) to learn, but BGCA is offering 3 iPad mini's and $500 to the BGCA of choice to lucky winner's who submit questions to their panel of teenage experts.

If you have questions about how to make your teens more safe online and want to imbue them with knowledge of how to protect themselves, take the quiz, ask some questions and get a conversation going! Be sure to follow BGCA on Facebook and Twitter for more tips and advice!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Ready, Set, Drone!

It's summer and with summer comes beautiful days to spend outside. Picnics, bike rides and sidewalk chalk abounds. Kites, though, have never been our thing. A far cooler option is the 3D Robotics Solo Drone. Best Buy is the destination for drones, including the new Solo™ by 3DR. Mostly Together Dad is in agreement and is currently begging for one for his birthday.



Solo, the Smart Drone, arrived in over 400 Best Buy stores on June 8, just in time for Father’s Day. It’s the first-ever drone powered by two integrated Linux computers, making capturing the perfect shot easy for anyone. The Solo retails for $999.

The really cool thing is that  Solo can define its own flight, freeing users to focus on getting the shot. This intelligent drone is also the first to support full control of GoPro® cameras and deliver live HD video either wirelessly to your mobile device or through the controller’s HDMI port for live broadcasts. Who wouldn't love that?


Can you imagine getting great shots of kids playing in the soccer game, or time spent fishing on the lake? Using the Solo makes it easier than ever, especially for those of us unwilling to climb to uncomfortable heights or get too close to prickly wildlife.

There is a great offer from Best Buy right now for the Solo. You can Get a FREE Solo Smart Battery (Reg. Price: $149.99) when you purchase the 3DR Solo Drone (Sku: 5354101). Valid 6/7-7/11 at Best Buy. (Disclaimer: Offer valid with purchase of the 3DR Solo Drone SKU: 5351035)

What would you use the Solo for?

*The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Summer Reading Program with Family Christian


With summer well underway and school naught but a distant memory, now's about the time that kids are coming inside, sweaty and hot from playing outside and announcing for one and all, "I'm bored!" Instead of feeling frustrated and wishing away the summer months, it's a perfect time to get involved with a summer reading program.


Family Christian has a great program going where kids under age 12 can read any 6 Christian books and complete a book report for each one. Don't worry - it's only 3 questions, so even the young children can participate with a parents help. Once the book reports are completed, simply take them in to your local Family Christian store and turn them in for your child's $10 Savings Pass - Good for any purchase of $10 or more! They can sped their certificate in store or online, it's up to them!

The great thing is that if, like me, you don't live near a Family Christian store, you can simply email them to CUSTOMERSERVICE@FAMILYCHRISTIAN.COM. My kiddo's are really excited about this, because it allows them to win something more than a cheap dollar store toy and they get to actually choose their prize. I love it because it reinforces the love of reading that I work to instill in them. It's also a great way to help bridge the gap between the school year, so kids won't lose reading skills during the summer months.

Need some ideas for your child's summer reading? My 7 year old daughter is into an really eclectic book selection, from the Imagination Station series (based on the Adventures in Odyssey radio program), to A Horse for Kate, and she's long loved the Gigi:  God's Little Princess series that she is now enjoying reading to her 2 year old sister!


My 10 year old son is over the moon for the Jack Staples series and is so excited for the latest book to come out, Jack Staples and the Poet's Storm. Jack Staples is a fantasy series for boys and girls about good triumphing over evil.

*This post is brought to you by Family Christian.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

LILLEbaby COMPLETE 6-in1 Baby Carrier Review

Taking a two year old anywhere is an experience. They are either feeling tired and want someone to carry them everywhere or have so much energy that it's impossible to keep up with them. Often, they like to switch from one to the other with no warning and woe to the parent who isn't ready for it! This is where a good baby carrier can come in handy.


I was sent the LILLEbaby COMPLETE 6-in-1 Baby Carrier to review and I was so excited to try it out, mainly because of all the different positions you can use to carry a little one. True to the title, you can wear your baby in six different positions, whichever feels most comfortable for you and your little one (or which is best recommended for their age and weight). You can wear your baby in front in the fetal position, infant, outward, and toddler. You can also wear them in the hip carry and on your back.

I really, really wanted to like this carrier. And there certainly are a lot of things to like about it. Unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that this one just isn't for me, due to a variety of factors, one of which being my size.

As a tall (I'm 5'8), plus-size mom, finding the right fit can be quite a challenge. Learning that the waist circumference can go out to 52" made me think that it would be fine, but the fit just didn't feel right for me. Luckily, Mostly Together Dad was willing to try it out for me, as he is the one who usually wears our little lady while we are out and about.

Pros:
  • Multiple Positions
  • Neutral Colors
  • Sturdy - It is definitely well made and I don't see the seams coming apart any time soon
  • Handy Pocket
  • Hood - While this isn't something I needed as my daughter is older, I could see this coming in handy as a breastfeeding cover, or as a sun shade if baby is asleep
  • Longevity of Use - Usable from newborn to 45 pounds
Cons:
  • Gets Hot Quickly (Other LILLEbaby carriers do have a mesh backing which can help with this problem)
  • Not Easy to Use - Lots of straps and buckles can be confusing
  • Requires 2 people - One of the buckles fastens in the back, so unless you are double jointed, you'll need two people to get situated
So, even though this isn't the carrier for me, it's got great reviews on other websites, so there are a lot of women who find this is the best carrier for them. With more practice, the straps probably wouldn't be as confusing and the buckles might become easier also. If you are a smaller woman (or man!) I would certainly recommend giving this one a shot.

*I was sent a LILLEbaby 6-in-1 Baby Carrier in exchange for my honest review.