Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Greetings From Santa

Delight and surprise your child this Christmas season with either a letter or video message from Santa Claus. I have always used the free versions of each service although they have additional services for a fee if you want to add to your letter or video. I appreciate the fact that even with the free option, there are many ways to customize the message for your child and it is easy to use, taking only a few minutes to put together. We have done this for a few years and the kids are always so happy to get a personal greeting from Santa.

Free Letters:

Free Videos:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Try Start Sampling For A Stockpile Of Sample Size Products

Start Sampling is a website where you can go and request free samples of products to be sent to your home. Make sure to check out the forums where people will post other free sample opportunities, coupons, savings websites and much more. It is a great way to get free travel-size products and try some new things out. I have amassed quite the stockpile of toothpaste!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Get A FREE Santa Call!

What Christmas season would be complete without a phone call from Santa himself??
Every year, I have scheduled at least one phone call for the kids to receive from Santa. They love it and the call is always helpful to remind them of the behavior Santa expects in anticipation of his visit.
There are several websites to check out for scheduling calls. I have always used Cincinnati Bell, which is a southwestern Ohio phone company, but there are other websites that will call no matter what area of the country you reside in.

Cincinnati Bell:

Santa Dial:

Dial My Calls Santa:

Check out these sites to find one that would suit the type of Santa call you want your child to receive. Many local phone companies will also offer the service so I would check with them as well.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick List of 10 Stocking Stuffers for Kids

Boy, this time of year crept up fast! Here we are already talking about "everything" Christmas. I have compiled a short list of 10 stocking stuffer ideas for kids.

1) Favorite candies- I am sure everyone is full of candy coming off Halloween and Thanksgiving as well as Christmas parties, but who doesn't appreciate a few of their favorites.

2) Personalized paper pads and crayons/markers- There are several places that print personalized paper pads very cheaply.

3) One-Time Use Digital Camera- Kids love taking pictures so why not give them a cheap camera to take some Christmas morning shots. And, you won't have to worry if it gets dropped.

4) Deck of Kids' Games Cards- Add a game of Go Fish, Uno, or Old Maid

5) Flavored Chapsticks- There are so many novelty chapsticks these days that taste like popular food brands.

6) Dollar Store Gift Card- My kids love going to the dollar store and having a small gift card makes them so happy, they feel like they can get so much.

7) Pieces of a Nativity Scene- A nice tradition is giving a piece of the nativity scene each year as a stocking stuffer until it is completed and the child has a whole nativity set of their own.

8)Trading Cards- They make trading cards for so many popular kid brands and sports teams. Pick up a pack or two and add them to the stockings.

9) Silly Bandz

10) Mini Snow Globe- Start a cute tradition as well as a collection by adding a miniature snow globe to the child's stocking each year.

I hope a few of these ideas will help you on your way to gathering stocking gifts!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

5 Things To Make Eating Out with Kids More Economical

Most people enjoy eating out, but with the economy sluggish, it can be an expense that many families just can not afford on a regular basis. While it would be nice to have a home cooked meal every day, the fact is that in today's fast-paced society, there are many days where dinner comes at a restaurant table. So, how can you still work in the growing expense of eating out with kids? We do not eat out as much as we have in the past, but I have tried to stick to some "restaurant rules" to keep costs down while still enjoying a meal out. Of course, there are special occasions, but for the routine restaurant  trip, I really attempt to stick to a budget.
Here are a few of the "rules":

1) Check out the kids' eat free deals and/or coupons/Groupons/Entertainment books first before deciding where to go. Unless it is someone's birthday meal and they have carte blanche in the decision about where they want to eat, try to go for one of the places where you know there is going to be a savings. Case in point, we recently had dinner at Steak-N-Shake for $12 for a family of four. The kids got a free meal since it was kids' eat free on the weekends and we had a coupon for the hamburger and fries meal that I usually get. Plus, we had a coupon for buy one, get one free milkshakes so my husband and I were both able to get full-size milkshakes. That is a huge savings!

2) Drink water. It's great for you and your digestion and it's free. Think about how much that glass of soda is going to cost you, especially when half of it is filled with ice. And, I love soda pop, but when eating out it is very rare that I would actually purchase one. Anymore, a beverage in most restaurants will cost at least $2-$3, multiply that times every person in your family, every time you eat out and it can seriously add up.

3) Stay clear of desserts and appetizers in addition to a full meal. If you are ordering a meal, cutting out a $5-$8 add-on like an appetizer and/or  dessert will save a lot of money. I know so many people that order the appetizer in addition to their meal and then barely eat a bite of the actual entree since they filled up on the first course. Obviously, there are exceptions, but we do not routinely go out as a family and order a bunch of additional things besides our main meal.

4) In the same breath, embrace the appetizer. Many times, appetizers are fairly large and can actually be the preferred choice to the entrees. In that case, why not order an appetizer as your meal. It will no doubt be cheaper. My daughter and I will sometimes split a larger appetizer and we still can not eat it all, but it saved us from purchasing two separate meals.

5) This is completely dependent on the place you are eating and the ages of your kids, but when at all feasible, have them split a meal. With my children's ages, there are still restaurants where the kids' portions are fairly large and after I realized that neither of them were able to eat more than half of their own meals, I started having them share. There were certain places where the kids' meal consisted of 3-4 large chicken tenders and a whole plate of fries and cup of fruit and my toddler/preschooler was in no way able to eat the whole meal.

Hopefully, by tweaking a few eating out routines and rituals, money can be saved while still being able to enjoy a dinner out as a family.

Friday, November 16, 2012

FREE Kids' Workshops

Home Depot and Lowes offer FREE kids' workshops to foster do-it-yourself skills, promote creativity and teach tool safety. The workshops are aimed at the 5-12 yr. old age group and the kids not only get to keep the craft they made, but will get an apron and certificate of completion. My kids really enjoy these workshops and have made some handy gadgets along the way.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Parenting Books: 5 Love Languages

The 5 Love Languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell is a very helpful book for parents wishing to pinpoint the expression of love that is the most easily communicated for their child. Not only is the book useful in assessing the individual love language (Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch or Words of Affirmation), but also offers practical suggestions on how to interpret and apply the information. The book is a quick and easy read which  I definitely recommend . Check out the website at:


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Make A Thankful Plate

I saw this idea last year on Pinterest in a baby shower theme and thought it could be worked into a fantastic way to celebrate Thanksgiving. 
Buy some $1 ceramic plates at a dollar store. They can really be any color as long as the color you chose for the marker will coordinate. At a craft store, find a Porcelaine 150 pen or other marker that is for writing on ceramics. Have the kids name off things they are thankful for, adding them to the plate as you go along. Once you are done, bake the plate according to the marker directions for the ink to completely set and dry.
Voila, you will have a wonderful reminder and keepsake of a year’s worth of blessings! Once a few years have gone by, there should be a nice little family stockpile of thankful plates to use for Thanksgiving dinner.

Monday, October 29, 2012

1+1+1=1: Resource for Kid Printables and Learning Activities


1+1+1=1 is a terrific website/blog with tons and tons of fabulous free ideas, activities, tot and preschool packs, tot trays and printables. I have found some awesome learning tools to use with the kids. This is definitely a bookmark-worthy site. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Great Gift Ideas: World Wildlife Fund

A creative gift idea for kids and adults is to "adopt" their favorite animal from the World Wildlife Fund. While other organizations do this as well, the WWF seems to have the biggest selection of animals. There are different levels of price-points so for as little as $25 you can pick out a really creative and meaningful gift. So far, I have only done the panda and it was a big hit!

Monday, October 22, 2012

House Party: Freebies and Time for Moms

Host a House Party and receive freebies and coupons and exclusive new products to try. Just apply for the party you are interested in having and once selected you will receive a party pack with the sponsoring companies' products. Invite your friends and family to come try it out and provide feedback based on the response to the product.
I have been to several parties, one for pizza and the other for Pull-Ups. A fun and easy way to get freebies and provide feedback on the products before they are fully marketed.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Starfall: Great Beginning Phonics Website

Starfall is a beginning reading website for young children, mainly aged 3-7. Great graphics and fun games make learning letter sounds easy and enjoyable. There is a paid portion, but the free part has more than enough to keep children busy.
Website address:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

FREE Ebook: Making Thanksgiving Meaningful: Kid-Centered Activities for the Holidays

FREE Ebook!! Making Thanksgiving Meaningful: Kid-Centered Activities for the Holidays

Download a copy, available on a number of devices. This ebook contains 20 fun Thanksgiving activities for kids to help capture the spirit of gratefulness and foster family togetherness.
You can download a copy here:

                                     Cover for 'Making Thanksgiving Meaningful: Kid-Centered Activities for the Holidays'