Explaining Death to Young Children

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Explaining Death to Young Children

Explaining death to young children is never a particularly desirable subject, I find, as we wish to preserve their innocence and shield them from anything that may burst their fragile bubble, believing all is always well in their world.  However, death is inevitable.  Some folks lose loved ones later in life, while others experience death of a loved one at a tender, young age.  Following is my story, explaining death to my five-year-old daughter, Carol.

My grandmother was fortunate enough to raise her five children, not only to see all eight of her grandchildren grow up, but also see her eight great-grandchildren, AND meet three great-great-grandchildren.  She lived for almost 18 years after my grandaddy passed away, and was the last of her twelve siblings to survive.  She lived through the great depression, and lost her own mother at a very young age.  She was, in every sense of the word, a good Southern woman.  She had the greenest thumb I’ve ever seen, able to revive even the limpest plant, and made the world’s best cornbread, biscuits, green beans, and fried apple pies.  Fond memories of sitting on the front porch, eating watermelon after a big Sunday lunch sit firmly in my memory, holding a very special place in my heart.

She was four days shy of her 95th birthday when she went Home. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Pointing Fingers Can Be FUN! {review + giveaway}

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 Pointing Fingers by Hasbro

If you’re looking for a grown-up, slightly more sophisticated version of the classic “Truth or Dare” of our youth, look no further.  Enter: Pointing Fingers.  I was recently sent a copy of the game for review, and am delighted to share it with y’all, AND offer y’all a chance to win the game for yourself!

Pointing Fingers is one of Hasbro’s newest games, and it’s a fun-filled, hilarious game for anyone over the age of 12-ish.  It’s best played with at least 4-6 players.

When I opened up the box, I was met with six green foam fingers, as well as super-cute game pieces, like truth meters and a stack of thought-provoking cards!

Pointing Fingers truth meters

You see, with this game, you have to figure out who in the group has done which crazy antic – the more accurate your guesses, the more points you earn.  BUT, with all the beans being spilled in such a revealing game, there is one rule to keep in mind: what comes out during Pointing Fingers, stays in Pointing Fingers.  There’s even an honesty oath for all participants to partake before festivities commence.

Pointing-Fingers-Oath

Seriously, it’s a super-cute game, and you’re guaranteed to have gobs of fun – and perhaps learn things you didn’t know (and maybe didn’t WANT to know!) about your friends and family.  I’d tell you about my experience in playing the game, but -well- remember that whole oath thing?  😉  Let’s just say, lots of laughs ensued, as well as a good time had by all!

Pointing-Fingers-cards_bannersWant a chance to win your own copy of Pointing Fingers?  It’s super easy: just follow the steps below:

  1. First, leave a comment below, sharing who you’d likely play Pointing Fingers with;
  2. Then fill out the Giveaway Tools form below.
  3. There is no #3.  See?  Super simple, right?  😉

GOOD LUCK, y’all!!

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

FREE Disney Custom Printed Map

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



We *just* got back from our latest trip to Disney, and we are still holding on to a bit of magic and pixie dust.  We took advantage of a fantastic deal through my in-laws Mustang club, and enjoyed three nights at a Disney resort.  This means, we rode the Disney bus every day.  (Even though my 20 mo old son kept calling them “Mickey fire trucks” — but that’s a story for another day…)

What I wish we’d had on hand during our two days at Disney was this super-cool FREE Disney Custom Printed Map! How cool is this!? There were enough new attractions at the Magic Kingdom, and enough rides our four-year-old daughter was finally big enough to ride. However, even with the best of intentions, we still found ourselves fumbling around, trying to figure out our next move!  Click the banner below to get your FREE Disney Custom Printed Map:




Also, it’s not too late to grab the FREE Disney Parks DVD, to help plan your next vacation or to just dream! My daughter has enjoyed watching hers over and over again, reminiscing about her latest trip – and, um, offering up suggested new rides in the future. (Jasmine really needs her own ride, ya know? And Ariel should have three or four.)


Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Missing

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What SHOULD you do if your dog is missing?  We recently went through this terrible experience, and I don’t wish it on anyone.  While we were extremely lucky with our outcome, it could have easily not rather unfortunate.  SO, I’d like to share what I’ve learned from my experience, to perhaps save y’all the trouble and heartache, if you ever find yourself in my shoes.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Missing

Prevention – Things to Do Beforehand

  • Get the chip.  If it’s within your budget and your pet is young, get the chip implanted. It’s the easiest and fastest way to have your beloved pet return home to you.  Our dog is almost 15 years old, and the chip wasn’t available when my husband got him.  (Yes, he got the dog before he got me…)
  • Keep updated tags on him.  Our dog is prone to losing his tag, so it’s a good idea to keep an extra one handy, if yours is the same way.  Check frequently to ensure tags are still in place, and that the information hasn’t rubbed off.
  • Take pictures!  You’ve probably heard about taking pictures of your children before going to a big amusement park, so you’ve got an instant identification of her if you were to get separated.  The same principle applies to your pet.  Make sure you have updated pictures of you pooch, so people will know who to look for!

During the Search – the First Few Hours

  • Begin walking around your neighborhood, calling your dog’s name.  If you frequent a particular route when you walk, go that way.  
  • Perhaps bring a treat or favorite toy, especially if it makes noise.  
  • Also, bring a leash, so he’s easier to walk back home.
  • If a walk around the neighborhood doesn’t turn up results, hop in your car, and do the same thing, only cover a larger radius.  If there are enough adults to do so, have one person walking the route, while another drives around, to cover more ground and faster.
  • If your dog is at all like ours, once he’s spotted, don’t rush over to him — that may just make him run further, and if you’re in a high traffic area, that’s obviously a no-no.  Just continue to approach your dog at a normal pace, with an upbeat tone, perhaps offering that toy or treat.

During the Search – Getting the Word Out

  • Put up posters immediately.  Keep it simple.  Offer a brief description, and make a phone number easily visible.  I recommend running to the dollar store and grabbing some neon poster board. Use a BLACK sharpie to legibly write information, or just type the info (Arial font is best) and paste to poster board.  Posters should be visible all around the neighborhood, and in spots where folks are most likely to see them, like on busy streets.
  • Also, the posters our dog’s founder used were wrapped with plastic wrap, to prevent the rain from ruining them.  Or if you have easy access, laminate them.  (But bear in mind, this could get expensive if you go to an office supply store to do so.)  Clear contact paper may also work well, too; you can grab a roll at Big Lots for $2.
  • Remember the frequent pictures you’re supposed to be taking fo your pup?  Now’s the time to find the best ones to put on social media.  In this day and age, a dog could potentially be lost, found, and returned in an hour’s time, thanks to the overwhelming amount of technology on our hands.  Facebook has groups for neighborhoods, but you can also post on your feed, and ask locals to share. 

During the Search – Contact local establishments

  • Of course, contact your local animal shelters.  Since I live on the border of THREE counties, we contacted all three county’s animal shelters.  One had a way to upload his picture to their “missing” board online, but they all required you to come in person to ID and pick up your dog.  Each suggested we check their “up for adoption” list, which was updated at various intervals.
  • Contact local pet stores and veterinarian offices.  Lost pets can turn up there, and are frequently held there, at least temporarily.  One easy way to see how many pet stores are near you is to do a simple “Yelp” search by proximity and key word.

Our dog was found because my husband happened to spot a poster on his way home from work for a “found dog” about 3 miles from our home.  It turns out, he showed up in the neighborhood of a sweet, older couple the next morning, and was enjoying their company that day.  They’d taken him to the local vet (our vet!) to check for a chip.  They’d gone out and gotten a small supply of dog food, and bought supplies to create about 8 posters.  We came prepared to pay them, but they absolutely refused payment.  However, we did go around the neighborhood, and removed all of their signs for them.  That was the very least we could do!

My hope, of course, is that you’ll never need to take this advice.  But chances are great, if you’re reading this, you’re already looking for a missing pooch.  I certainly hope this proves helpful, and that you and your fur baby are reunited quickly!

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Paper Christmas Tree Craft (with free download!)

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Every year we make all sorts of holiday crafts and decorations with our children, and I’ve ended up with a whole box of crumpled, torn paper crafts as a result.  I want to save them all, but I’m running out of ways to display (and repair) them!  This year, we decided to start a grow-with-me holiday centerpiece that we can add to every year and proudly display on the table or mantle.  Check out this fun, easy craft below!

Keepsake paper christmas tree craft 

Supplies needed:Keepsake paper christmas tree craft

Cardstock (see link to the right for free template download)

Markers/crayons

Scissors

Glue

Paperclip (optional)

 

Instructions:

1. Print out the template on cardstock and have your child decorate it as desired.

2. Cut out the colored tree. (You may need to help younger ones with this step)

3. Fold the tree in half down the center.

4. Glue the tree halves together, back-to-back.

5. Glue the last two backs together.

6. Fan out the papers so the tree can stand on its own.

7. Enjoy your new holiday decoration!

Keepsake paper christmas tree craft

A few notes here:

-If you want to add to the tree each year, don’t glue the last two backs together.  Instead, clip with together with a paper clip.  The tree can be folded flat after the holidays for storage, and you can easily add in new trees each year.

-Be sure to download and save the coloring sheet you choose to use, so you can have it next year and in years to come.

-Have children write their name and the year on the bottom of the tree for future reference.

-If you have less than three children, you’ll need to have them color more than one trees for the finished tree to be able to stand.

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Ten Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



Often around the holidays, we are faced with buying gifts for families with multiple children. Trying to figure out what to get for each person, and fitting those individual gifts into your budget can be draining, both mentally and financially. One of the things we always suggest to friends and family when they ask what to buy, is that they put together a family present that everyone can enjoy. Here are some great “whole family” gifts that everyone is sure to love.

10 gift ideas for the whole family

10 Gift Ideas for the Whole Family

1. Movie passesAlmost all major movie theater companies offer gift certificates or cards that you can load with an amount of your choice.  You can also order them online in $25 and $50 denominations if there isn’t a theater near you (Regal and AMC gift cards are available on Amazon). Surprising a family with a gift card that will allow them to take their children to a movie and purchase some popcorn or candy is a gift solution that never disappoints. This works especially well for families with teens or children of varying ages, because everyone loves going to the movies! If that’s still too much for your budget, a movie gift basket is a great alternative. One or two DVDs, boxed candy and popcorn, and a bottle of soda makes for a fun night in, and they can watch the movies over and over in the future. (Psst…if you are a Costco member you can buy cheap tickets online and in store!)

Also, if you live near a Studio Movie Grill, Groupon frequently has a GREAT deal for movie tickets!

 

2. Museum, Aquarium or Zoo memberships

My children love to visit local museums, and we’ve received family passes as gifts in previous years that allowed us to go multiple times over the course of a year. Many museums have exhibits that change several times a year, so there is always something new to see each visit. Be sure to check and see if their local museum, aquarium, or zoo is part of a reciprocal program, such as ASTC, NARM, or AZA.  Reciprocal programs allow families to use their memberships for free admission to other participating museums, zoos and aquariums.  Another thing to consider with museums and aquariums is that they are inside, whereas zoos are not, so if they live in an area with extreme weather conditions, they may get more use from a membership that allows them to be indoors during their visits.

3. Video games

We have several gaming systems in our home, but they are specifically for use as a family.  If the family you are shopping for has an Xbox or Playstation system, buying them a game that they can play together is a wonderful gift. Just Dance and Mario Party are two of our favorites, as we can play together as a family, instead of just one or two kids zoning out in front of the television.  If the family you are purchasing for doesn’t have a gaming system, and it’s in your budget to purchase one for them, there are quite a few bundles available right now on Amazon that include the system, multiple controls, and often more than one game.

 

4. Board gamesBoard games can also be a lot fun, especially the ones that can be played by a wide range of ages.  Yahtzee is very popular in our house, even though the younger ones don’t really understand the concept, we team up and they have fun rolling the dice and writing down the scores.  Pictionary, Jenga, and Guesstures (like charades) are fun classic choices too. Of course, if you really want to knock it out of the park, you could go for some newer games that are SUPER popular right now, like Pie Face, Gas Out (eww, I know!) and Speak Out (aka the cheek retractor game). All of these games are simple enough for young children, yet still entertaining enough to keep the older ones involved.

 

5. Hotel weekend

Who doesn’t love staying the night in a nice hotel?  Find a hotel that is close to the family you are shopping for, and book them a room for the weekend.  Be sure to look for hotels that have free wifi, continental breakfast, and a pool that is open.  Some hotels even offer free happy hour appetizers in their restaurant, or a game room in the lobby.  You may not be able to buy them a vacation, but you can gift them a faux getaway, and that can still be loads of fun!  We have a hotel about 10 minutes away from us that we love to take the kids to for a treat.  They have an indoor pool, a lending library, a game room, a snack bar, free breakfast, and awesome happy hour deals.  It’s a ton of fun for them, and a nice break from the stresses of home for us.

These family gifts are sure to be enjoyed by everyone, and you don’t have to go broke buying them.  Still not sure?  Here’s another quick couple of suggestions below:

6. Outdoor games such as bocce, badminton, trampoline.  Check out these great outdoor toys for little ones!

7. Pizza/Date night Offer to take the kids out for pizza while the parents go on a date night.  Make sure to peruse Scoutmob and local Groupon deals for date night inspiration, and to try out new pizza places!

8. DVD set of classic movies (Disney is a great choice)

9. Family Fun Center pass (miniature golf, bowling, arcade, go karts)

(If all else fails, and you don’t think any of these would work for your situation, you can NEVER go wrong with #10)

10.  Amazon gift card

You can buy one last minute, you can send it via email, and they can choose whatever they want for themselves.  Clothes, games, toys, electronics, gift cards, you name it, Amazon has it.  Some people feel like gift cards can be impersonal, but I’d much rather get a gift card than some ugly sweater I’m never going to wear!

Have you ever received or given one large family gift?

What do you think about gift cards as presents?  Practical or tacky?

*This post includes affiliate links, and I earn a small commission from any items purchasedMaybe even enough to take my kids out for some family fun!*

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Frugal Family Fair Outings

**This post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**



We have a large county fair that comes in town each fall, and we always take our family on a Saturday and spend the whole day there.  Going to the fair can be rather expensive, especially with a large family.  We plan for several months in advance, so we can be sure to have money saved and be fully prepared for that day.  I’ve listed a few tips below on how to get the most for your money, and to make the day as fun (and less stressful) as possible.

Frugal family fair outings

 

Frugal Family Fair Outings

1.  Buy all access passes, in advance if possible.

Our local fair (Gwinnett County) offers the option to purchase tickets or all inclusive hand stamps.  Tickets are $1 each and each ride is at least 3 tickets.  For a flat fee of $20-25 (depending on the day), you can purchase a stamp that will allow you to ride everything.  For our family of 8, that can cost us $200!  We were able to purchase hand stamps in advance this year at a local drug store for $17 each, which saved us $64!  Even without the advance purchase discount, $200 is still a good deal for a family of our size.  We would have only been able to ride 6-8 rides each if we purchased $200 in tickets.  Instead, we were able to spend 8 hours there and ride as many things as we wanted.

Frugal family fair outings

2.  Bring your own snacks and drinks.

Fair and festival food is not only greasy and unhealthy, it is also very expensive.  Some fairs will let you bring in a bag with drinks and food.  We chose to eat a good lunch and head over around 2:00pm.  I packed beef jerky, peanuts, chips, cheese cubes, and water.  We carried it in a backpack that we took turns holding.  I also have water bottle holders that I made from old ties that my kids were able to use to carry their own drinks (see picture below).  12 water bottles get really heavy, really fast, when one person is carrying them!  Our fairgrounds also have a nice, cold water fountain, so we were able to refill bottles as they were emptied.  If you are particular about the taste of water from a fountain, you could always bring packets of flavoring, such as Kool-Aid or lemonade to add to your bottle once it is refilled.  If you don’t have the option to bring in food or water, look for a booth that will allow you to purchase a reusable cup that can be filled at a discount.  Ours offered fresh lemonade for $5, with a $3 refill option, and $3 cokes with a $1.50 refill.  Also be sure to check and see if you can leave and get a stamp for re-entry.  If so, you could always leave a cooler in your car and take a break to have sandwiches before going back in for more fun.

Frugal family fair outings

3.  Bring along a friend or family member.

Last year, my parents joined us at the fair to lend a hand with the kids.  They didn’t want to ride anything, so there was no charge, and they enjoyed spending time with their grandkids.  They stayed for a few hours with the little ones in the kiddie land, which let us take our older kids to ride some of the larger rides.

Frugal family fair outings

4.  Let your kids earn money to buy their own treats.

We started a month before the fair with a system for our kids to earn money for goodies.  We do not give our kids a regular allowance, but instead offered them extra tasks they could do for pocket money.  We gave them the option of $1, $3, and $5 tasks, ranging from cleaning out our van to organizing the pantry shelves.  The younger ones were able to earn money buy doing simple things like sweeping the stairs or neatly organizing their bookshelf in the playroom.  They were very motivated to earn cotton candy money, and we didn’t have to listen to whining about what they wanted once we got to the fair.  And of course, it’s a great learning opportunity as well!  My oldest earned $13 to spend, while my 7 year old (not so motivated) only earned $5.  The younger one was kicking himself when he saw how much his brother was able to buy with his extra earnings.

Frugal family fair outings

5.  Plan to stay for several hours.

If you purchase an all inclusive pass, then plan to stay as long as you can so you can really get your money’s worth.  We left after lunch and arrived at around 2:00, and stayed until 10:30 that evening.  Normally my children are in bed by 8:00 at the latest, but some of the rides are just more fun to do once the sun goes down.

Frugal family fair outings

6.  Take a picture of your kids before entering the gate.

This is a great tip for any outing to a crowded venue.  If you happen to get separated from your child, you can show the security exactly what they look like and what they are wearing.  It is also important to discuss with your kids what they should do if they get lost.  My younger ones knew to stay where they were and tell an adult in uniform that they could not find their parents.  My older children knew to meet us by the restrooms, as they have a large yellow balloon above them that can be seen from anywhere on the fairgrounds.  Of course, be sure to go over the rules about strangers, and point out to children what the police officer and fair worker uniforms look like.

Frugal family fair outings

Going to the fair can be a wonderful way to spend the afternoon with your family, and give them something to look forward to each year.  With the right planning, you can save money and stress, and be able to just relax and enjoy the time with your family!

Do you have a local fair that you go to every year with your family?  What are your tips for a fun outing with the kids?

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

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