May 20, 2020
Corona Crazy, and no I do not mean from the bear. The Coronavirus is really starting to get to me and my family and the purchases we are making are showing it. Fortunately, for us we have been able to keep our jobs and the lack of traveling to work is actually letting us save a little money. The bit of extra cash has allowed my husband to talk me into a rather strange purchase.
A little bit about us first. We moved to the country a few years ago and have roughly three acres of land. Besides the extra mowing required, thanks hubby, there really has not been a whole lot of difference to our lifestyle. The extra peace and quiet has been nice but we have not really :gone country” . Not until now at least.
Enter The ATV
My husband has been talking about getting our family some ATV’s but I have been unsure, especially with smaller kids. The other day, I let him convince me though. We were driving home and there was a family out riding and it looked like so much fun. I did some research on riding safety and what gear we would need and told him I was in. Just as long as everyone was wearing full protection when riding.
So we started shopping for ATV’s and soon landed on the Honda ATV website. Not the cheapest ones out there but they definitely have a reputation for quality. 2 kids ATV’s and 2 Full sized adult ATV’s which added up to about 18,000 dollars after taxes. Ouch, but we are Corona Crazy afterall.
Still, that is a bit over our budget so we took a look at some of the cheaper versions. Turns out that we can get some cheaper Tao brand ATV’s for about half of the price which seemed like the way to go, until I thought a little harder. Why spend that kind of money on something that is probably going to break or require constant maintenance?
Financing The ATV’s
Normally I would not want to finance something besides a house or a car, but we really wanted these ATV’s and we only have about 10,000 dollars at our disposal. We might have been able to find them used but then that could just open up a big can of worms. So, enter the idea of simply financing Honda 4 wheelers. It was a very attractive idea.
We got a quote and then weighed the option. Have a bit of a payment, buy used ATV’s or buy cheaply made Four Wheelers. Not wanting to just be buying a headache, I grudgingly accepted the financing.
With financing in hand, we headed down to our local Powersports dealer and picked out our new toys. The hubby and the kids had no problem finding theirs but they did not have mine in the color that I wanted. The dealer located my color at another dealer a few hundred miles away and agreed to transfer it for no cost.
Hurray. Only problem is that we have to wait a few days to get them. We wanted to wait until we had them all to take them home so, they should be here after the weekend. Can’t wait. Ill be sure to share as soon as I get them.
So, what about you. How have you gone Corona Crazy? Let me know so that I do not feel alone.
May 9, 2020
If you have kids, you know that every year you have to struggle with planning that birthday party. You want to make it special and at the same time, you want to keep it within your budget. To that end, I have a few great ideas for you that are relatively inexpensive.
Bounce House Party
A bounce house is an epic children’s birthday idea. No kid will ever say that they do not want a bounce house and you have probably noticed that any time you drive by one, their attention is instantly on it. What you might not know is that they can be surprisingly affordable.
A bounce house rental can be had for 100 to 150 dollars in most areas. That will give you 6 to 8 hours of pure child satisfying activity. Add to that a few balloons, some pizza and a cake and you have the recipe for success.
The great thing about a bounce house is that the kids will have fun and they will be totally exhausted by the end of the day. That gives them a great day and mommy a great night.
Have you seen those large gymnastics buildings, well they are not just for people actively pursuing gymnastics. These places also make themselves available for parties on the weekend.
Like with a bounce house, this will allow your kid to do what they like to do most, bounce. They will also learn about some basics of gymnastics. In any case, you get a structured activity period for your children, that they will love, followed by a room to have food and cake afterwards.
Have A Cookie Party
There are two ways to go about this. You can do the organized, professional route or you can do it all by yourself.
If you are not the do it yourselfer type, you can find a local bakery that has cookie decorating classes. For a few hundred dollars, you can have a group of kids that will have the time of the life. As a big plus, you get to eat the fun at the end of the day.
The great thing about a cookie decorating party is that you can also save a lot of money and do it yourself. Just buy some frosting, sprinkles, candies and make some basic sugar cookies. Then have the kids go to town decorating. For around 20 to 30 dollars, all will have a good time and, once again, you get to eat the cookies at the end.
Create A Kite Party
If the weather will be good at the time of your kids special day, why not spend it at the park. Most cities have parks with Gazebos or covered seating that you can reserve for free or for a little charge.
Reserve a space and then buy what you need to make some homemade kites. All that you need is some string to tie the kite to and some sticks or poles for support. Then get some paper to coat the frame and some markers or paint for the kids to decorate the kites with.
The beauty of a kite party is that you give the kids an outlet to express themselves and then you can let them tire themselves out later by flying the kites. Top it off with some cupcakes and you have a great day.
May 5, 2020
So I did a thing. Call it going “Covid Crazy” or call it “Cabin Fever” but I decided that my craft room was no longer up to snuff.
Sure, i had an old dining table and some raggedy shelves and I was making due with it. It was fine and I probably didn’t need anything more but I started thinking, is this life the new normal. If it is, and I will always be spending this much time crafting, I need more.
So I decided to upgrade. I still haven’t got my stimulus check, but I expect it any day so I just got an installment loan for 1500 dollars online. Maybe not the best choice but I know that I can pay it off right away when I get my money from the government and I am tired of waiting.
My Craft Room Upgrades
So, now that you have the background, let’s take a look at the upgrades that I made with the money. Most of them will have to do with storage and activity space but they sure have turned a drab room into a much more fun space.
First off, I wanted a new craft table. The old dining table that I had been using has seen better days. It was of course covered in paint and it was a bit unsteady. I have been counting the days until it literally just falls down.
So, enter the new and improved crafting table.
This crafting table cost me just under $600 but I feel that the expense will be well worth it. A nice clean work surface that is easy to clean and plenty of storage on the side for all of my commonly used items. It has not arrived yet because of how slow Amazon is lately, darn pandemic, but it should prove worth the wait.
Next, I decided to tackle my storage needs. Tired of shoe boxes full of crafting supplies being stacked in the closet, I looked for a better solution.
What I came up with was this, Kallax shelf system from Ikea.
At just under 100 dollars a piece, I decided to pick up two. That and a few miscellaneous bins and storage containers to fit the shelf.
What I loved about it was the varying heights of the shelf. It not only makes it a bit more fun, but also a bit more practical. I will now have a space for craft supplies of all shapes and sizes.
The shelf is up and attached to the wall, safety first, and it looks like it should be a perfect match for the desk.
Last but not least, I ordered an influx of new arts and craft supplies.
This was not a part of the original plan, but once I got my original supplies organized, I realized that I had room for oh so much more. Literally, the boxes and boxes of supplies that I had amassed over the years only filled up half of my storage space. Tough problem to have right.
So I found the kit above on sale online and picked it up. Me and the kids are super excited to get to work with it, once the craft table arrives of course.
So That Is My Thing
So, what do you think, did I go crazy? Am I insane to upgrade my crafting room during a pandemic?
Probably, but If you have read many of my other posts, you probably know that I am a bit off kilter anyway.
Anyway, thanks for reading and check back soon and see how it finally all comes together.
May 4, 2020
It is finally here, warm weather, and with it comes countless opportunities for outdoor fun. Even better, most of these activities are very cheap or even free. If you are looking to give the kids some things to do without breaking the bank, I have got some great ideas for you. Take a look.
If there is one common denominator between kids it is that they all love bubbles. It is amazing how much fun they can have with just a couple dollars worth of them.
Head to the dollar store and pick up a few bottles on the cheap and then head to the backyard or the park. Even better, if you want to drop an extra 10 dollars, you can get an automatic bubble maker.
2) Sidewalk Chalk
Once a gain, the dollar store is your friend here. A couple bucks and you have enough chalk for dozens of artistic sessions.
Sidewalk chalk gives your kids an outlet that they can use to express themselves and get a little dirty in the process. Best of all, clean up just involves dusting off the kids and spraying down the sidewalk.
3) Flying A Kite
Kites are one of those timeless and cheap activities. With just a few dollars spent and some wide open spaces you can create some memories and even better, kill a lot of free time.
Want to make the event even cheaper and occupy some more of your kids time, why not make your own kites. It is much easier than you think and the kids will love flying them even better.
4) Park Hopping
If you are like most parents, you probably have a favorite park that you take your kids to. Surely your kids love it but wouldn’t something new be much appreciated?
Why not plot out several different parks and spend a few days hopping from park to park. All it costs you is a little time and maybe some gas and you will give the kids something to talk about.
5) Have A Picnic
A picnic might be a bit cheesy in your mind but to kids it is something new and exciting. Anything new is appreciated by children.
When it comes to a picnic you can do it the cheap way by packing a lunch or you can simply run through the drive through and pick up a happy meal. Then take it to a park, a nice lakeside location or even a cool courtyard in an office park.
6) Break Out The Water Guns
A water gun fight can not be underrated. Nothing is more fun for a kid than to be able to spray each other, and you with water. Plus, if things get out of hand, you get to break out the water hose and win the fight.
April 23, 2020
There is no doubt about it, our lives have changed, possibly forever.The lockdown caused by the Coronavirus has caused us to change the way that we do things and things may never really go back to normal. If you are struggling to parent during these tough times, maybe I can help.
Below are a few tips that you might consider to help you get through this tough period.
1) Develop A Routine
Kids need structure and routine. We all know how crazy things can get when you change nap time or the time they eat lunch. Well, with schools being closed, their normal routine is shot.
You need to replace your routine with a routine that works for the changing times. You might think that you should just let them enjoy the break but this is a huge mistake. Kids still need a time that they need to get up, work that they must do, play times, nap times and bed times.
Structure is the key to getting through this time, you do not have to try to replicate their old “school days” schedule, but come up with something and stick to it. For their sanity and yours.
2) Modify Your Work Schedule
If you are forced to suddenly work from home, you are probably finding that is is quite a challenge when you are surrounded by kids. You may have to modify the way you work.
Home schooling will occupy them at times but it also requires your participation. Try to switch your work to the hours before they wake and after they go to sleep.
Gone may be the times when you could bear down and work for hours at a time. You may now need to break down your work day into manageable 30 to 45 minute blocks. This will allow you to divide your time between your work and your kids.
3) Let Your Kids Reach Out (Digitally)
Children need interaction, whether that means with their friends or their relatives. As the lockdown goes on, they will miss these interactions more and more.
Help your kid to reach out with their friends and family digitally. If you have Apple devices, Facetime is a great native app that everyone is familiar with. If you are an Android user, try Skype or one of many other similar apps.
Try to let your kids use one of these services at least twice a week so that they can stay in the loop and continue to feel part of an extended family.
4) Get Them Some Exercise
A tired kid is a happy one. Kids need physical activity and it can be all too easy to settle in to the lockdown and not give it to them.
When possible, get them outdoors, while maintaining social distancing of course. Avoid playgrounds and areas with public seating. You want wide open spaces like fields and even nature trails.
If the outdoors is not possible, look for ways to entertain them inside. My advice, let them bounce. Small and inexpensive trampolines are a hit with small kids and if you are prepared to spend a bit more, you can even look into a bounce house. Bounce houses can be had on places like Amazon for well under a couple hundred dollars. It is an investment that I have made and it is paying dividends, huge ones.
5) Don’t Forget Art
When your kids are at school, they usually have a little arts and crafts time, particularly small kids. It is very easy to stick to a home schooling or online education plan and forget about the art.
Try to give your kids time each day to do a little artwork. That could be simply coloring a picture or it could be full blown crafting with paper towel rolls, pop-sickle sticks, glue, paint, etc.
Whatever the case, let them be creative.
April 14, 2020
It is almost here, Summer, and while we mostly enjoy having our kids around, it gets old fast. Soon they will be driving you nuts and the cause of this is one simple thing, boredom. Prevent the kids from driving you nuts by keeping them busy.
Now, there are several ways to do that. You can spend a fortune on toys and activities or you can get a little creative. Take a look at a few simple and fun kid activities that involve no or very little money.
You probably have a local park that you visit all the time but kids get bored of the same routine, just as you do. Instead of hitting the same old park every day, why not do a week or two of park hopping.
Choose a new park to go to each and every day. New equipment, new colors and even new kids to play with. Finding all those parks is very easy and there are two ways to do it.
First, you can look at the parks department page on your city and neighboring cities. They should list every park that they maintain.
Another option is to use Google maps. Find your location and scan for parks in the vicinity. They are typically highlighted in green so they are easy to find.
During the Summer, public libraries are always hosting special events for children. This could be story time, puppet shows or similar activities. Check out all of the libraries in your city and surrounding cities and see what is going on. While you have to be a city resident to check out books, you usually do not have to reside in a city to participate in an activity.
Besides events, you can also do something novel at the library, check out books. Get your kid into reading during the Summer and actually send them back to school a little smarter.
Arts & Crafts
While not free, this can be a very cheap activity and when you consider the fun that your kids will have, it is quite a deal.
Gather a bunch of arts and craft supplies and let your kid or kids go to town creating. Shop dollar stores for glue, paints, glitter, etc. For just a few dollars in materials, you can have the base for a pretty good art kit. Add to that some cheap things around the home such as toothpicks, water bottles, paper towel holders, etc.
Once you have all of your supplies, be sure to set your kids up in an easily cleanable location. Outdoors is ideal but the kitchen table can be doable if you have cleaning supplies on hand for the almost guaranteed spill. Be prepared to handle the messes before they become permanent reminders of the day.
Another nearly free activity is fishing. Although not an activity for the very young child, if your kiddo is 6 or older, it can be a fun activity. Learn about getting your kid involved in fishing here.
Kids generally do not require a fishing license so all that you need to buy to make a fishing trip happen is a bit of fishing gear. Kids poles are very inexpensive and nearly free at used marketplaces such as Craigslist. For less than 10 dollars a child, you should be able to put together a fishing kit.
April 6, 2020
If you have kids, you know that part of the battle is keeping them busy. A bored kid is no good for anyone. They will just get into trouble and, quite frankly, annoy their parents to death. So, let’s keep those kids busy. Here are a few ideas to do just that.
- Paper Towel Rockets
An old paper towel tube can be the base of the rocket. Then you simply use a piece of construction paper to form the cone nose and let your kids go crazy decorating. Paint stripes, shapes or even flames on the side. Then, let them run around the house flying their new toy rocket.
This is a great little project because it is time consuming, let’t them get out creativity and energy. To top it all off, it is cheap.
- Paper Plate Music Makers
Take a paper plate and fill it with dry beans or rice. Now glue or tape another paper plate n top of it and you have music makers. This project is fun, easy and it lets your kids do one of their favorite things, make noise.
While helping your kids make noise might not seem like the brightest moves, it has some advantages. The noise from these makers is more of a white noise and you can tune it out much easier thank many other kid sounds.
- Garden Stepping Stones
On the surface, this might sound difficult, but it is not. You can find 1×1 concrete garden stepping stones for around a buck a piece at home improvement stores. You then get some basic paint and water it down a bit. Watering it down will allow it to penetrate the porous stone and leave some texture on the surface. That will make them suitable as stepping stones because they will not be slick.
Once you have all of your supplies, simply put the kids in some old clothes and let them do their painting in the yard. They get to have fun and you get some memories for your garden.
- Personal Planters
Teaching your children about the life of plants is always a great idea. Start with a custom planter. Purchase a few small Terracotta planters, some brushes and paints.
Let your child or children paint the planter as they see fit and then, once dry, fill it with potting soil. Then allow them to choose one of several seeds from the home improvement store to plant. Make it their job to water and care for their plant every day until it sprouts.
This is a great little project that gives them something artsy to do, let’s them learn and occupies their time for days to come.
- Sidewalk Chalk Drawings
Sometimes it is the classics that are the most appreciated. Sidewalk chalk is cheap, easily cleaned and allows your kids to express themselves.
Be sure to stay close by to keep the out of the street and have a camera ready to record their art, it will be short lived.
There you have it, five easy, fun and best of all cheap activities for your kids to enjoy.
April 5, 2020
If you have recently been gifted with twins, congratulations. Enjoy this precious gift. As you probably realize though, there is going to be a lot of work ahead. One of the first things that you have to think about is strollers.
You basically have two choices when it comes to strollers. You can go with a side by side or an inline stroller. Both have distinct benefits and disadvantages. Here is some food for thought.
These strollers place one baby in front of another. Pretty simple, right. If you are going with car seats that can move to a stroller, inline is usually your only choice.
The advantages of the inline stroller are many.
First and foremost, it will give each baby it’s own little space. This means that if one baby is sleeping, the other one will not wake it up. That is a huge plus as twins are not always on the same page when it comes to sleep times.
Second, an inline stroller is much easier to navigate when you are out and about. It will fit through doorways much easier and will be less awkward to move around, although the turning radius will be larger.
The main disadvantage of this type of stroller is the fact that your babies are separated and twins like to be together.
Side by sides.
A side by side, as the name implies, places the babies next to each other or side by side.
The main advantage of this type of stroller is that the babies get to interact with each other. Ideally, it will help them sync up as well. Eating at the same time and, fingers crossed, sleeping at the same time.
In addition, the side by side makes it easier to tend to your babies. You can get in front of both of them at the same time to comfort feed, etc.
The downside to the side by side stroller is the width. They can be awkward and you will find that they are sometimes a tight squeeze through doorways. Most commercial doorways will be passable, although tight. Residential doorways may require you to remove the babies to pass.
Which One Is Better
The answer of which one to choose, depends on you. What do you value more, convenience or mobility?
The ideal solution would be to have one of each to pick and choose. Yes, that adds to the cost but you could always shop the used market.
What I did with my twins was have both. I bought a brand new inline stroller that worked with my car seats. That was great for shopping. Then I bought a used, side by side jogging stroller. When space was plentiful, the side by side was a dream. In addition, the soft suspension on the jogging stroller was fantastic for babies and me.