Back to School Deals!

Nothing like school supply sales popping up to remind you that the summer is coming to an end (at least right now in the US), right? As much as they might love to stay home and “play all day” I think they might be ready to get back to school and see friends!

When it comes to buying school supplies you probably have two options

  1. Buy the supply packages from the school (if your school offers this)
  2. Scope out the deals and collect the supplies on your own.

Honestly I try to watch for the sales, it saves us money because I get them on sale versus the school packages at a premium price. That is not to say that some times it pays to grab the supply packages the schools put together. If you don’t order them over the summer they sometimes have extras during the “Meet the Teacher” nights.

 

Pros and Cons of buying the school supplies from the school

  • Pros – Saves time, guaranteed to have all supplies
  • Cons – You pay more by missing sale prices

There is the convenience factor I believe a lot of parents are going for and well I don’t blame them, some items are hard to find and instead of searching store after store, why not let someone else do it. Time is valiable and if paying a little extra to NOT stress over collecting supplies, that’s what the packages are there for.

Pros and cons of collecting school supplies on your own

  • Pros – Can save money shopping sales, kids can pick out their own colors
  • Cons – Collecting supplies takes time and a chance if you wait too long you may not find ALL supplies requested.

Of course, I seem to like a challenge because I still hit the store sales for school supplies. We are a family of 5 and on a tight budget, so I do my best to try to find ways to save money any chance I can. Every dollar counts, right? If I start early enough I schedule trips when I am already going to be in the area, so no special trip needed.

The stores are now putting out their school supplies and putting sales on certain items. Time to stock up! I have a 4th grader, 2nd grader and one beginning Preschool this year and we already have their supply lists. Here we go!

For the hard to find supplies, check out these specialty office supply stores :

  1. Staples
  2. Office Depot

The following stores have great deals on basic School Supplies like crayons, notebooks, pencils, etc.

  1. Wal-Mart
  2. Kroger
  3. Walgreens
  4. CVS

Amazon.com* also provides school supplies, backpacks and clothes!! With a few clicks, Amazon.com will deliver straight to your door! Join Amazon Prime and it will be two-day shipping!!

Anyone else shopping the sales to gather school supplies on their own?

 

 

**There may be affiliate links in this post, by using these links they are for your convenience and at NO cost to you, if you find something you like I may earn a few coins in the bank. Thank you for visiting**

 

How do you handle a Picky Eater?

First let me say that over the years I have been able to figure a few things out about being a parent with young kids. Lots of trial and errors! With my first-born, we were bombarded with advice on how to handle our son until our ears bled and we were frantic with “are we doing it all wrong”. Bottom line is no two kids are alike, just like my parenting style may not be the same as yours. I learned to listen to my gut more and so far it has not led me down the wrong path. Yes my kids have been (and still are I suppose) picky eaters, to the point I want to pull my hair out because food is being wasted! They will grow out of it! My oldest is 9 years old now and can out eat me! I have to believe eventually the picky eater phase will pass even though it seems like it’s a never-ending battle.

“I learned to listen to my guy more and so far it has not led me down the wrong path”

The one thing I do require of them is to taste new to them foods. If they don’t like it, fine don’t eat it but at least you know what it tastes like. I have learned that threatening to take dessert away if they don’t clear their plates only works 25% of the time at our house, depending on the child.  I do notice that they will eat certain foods at their grandparents house but won’t eat it at home! Now how messed up is that!

 

When I ask them what their favorite meals are:

  • Homemade Spaghetti and meatballs
  • Chicken Fried Steak & Mashed potatoes
  • Chicken nuggets ( definitely my Little Bits favorite meal besides PB&J sandwiches)
  • Fish Sticks and Macaroni and cheese.

Out of all those options my pickier eater is my 3-year-old Little Bit, he would only eat Chicken nuggets. On a good day or maybe if someone was bribing him he would TRY the other items on that list. Oh well, he will eat veggies and fruit without a problem most days.  I do have to keep reminding myself that he will grow out of it! Except by the time they grow out of the picky eater phase, my three boys will be hard to fill up and my worries will no longer be about wasting food, but do I have enough!

Food

Something that I remember from my mom, is that if you don’t like what she cooked, don’t eat it because she is not a “short order cook”  making everyone a different meal every night. I carried it over into our home because let’s be honest that’s a lot of work at the end of the day – picky eaters won’t go hungry if you served them the same meal everyone at the table is eating! If they are hungry, they will eat it! Have I maybe made a peanut butter & Jelly sandwich for one of my kids I knew wouldn’t like to eat at the restaurant we were going to, yes.. that I have done when they were younger if it meant we had a nice relaxing family outing.  So see, no one is perfect. Sometimes throwing a PB&J for dinner to save momma’s sanity is necessary!

healthy-eating-for-kids

 

I love Pinterest for finding new recipes that will be a healthy version of what they love to eat. So far my attempts to find healthier versions of say.. chicken nuggets or fish sticks are not well received and I just wasted a bunch of food. UGH!

I would love to hear some recipes that have worked in your family!

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Puddle jumping, might as well join them!

It’s been raining and raining, which means puddles everywhere! Time to throw on the rain jacket and rain boots and head out! There is only so much inside time that I – er, I mean my kids – can handle before cabin fever sets in! Little Bit woke up the other morning asking to head to the splash pad, oh silly boy head out to the backyard, it’s a splash pad out there haha!

rain boots

The thing about my boys, they will wear their rain boots year round rain or shine. They will wear holes in them before their feet grow too big for them. Well then my husband decided I needed my own pair in order to follow them around as they got older.. mine have lasted much longer! Too bad I don’t enjoy wearing mine as much as they enjoy theirs,  it would be helpful.

We were out shopping and it had been raining, of course TODAY we don’t have our rain boots on, and Little Bit found EVERY puddle in the parking lot to jump in from the car to the front door, it was so cute to see his excitement until we made it inside the store. Awesome! Wet, squeaky shoes skipping along the aisles of the store until he complains that his socks are wet and he wants to take his socks and shoes off. Count down to temper tantrum starts now ! You know I was speed walking through the store to finish my shopping while trying to convince him that taking his shoes and socks off now would just be a bad idea. He didn’t believe me of course. He’s so cute at 3, I love this age and some days I cannot stand it. Giving up on my attempt to focus while shopping we eventually made it out of the store and went home so they could splash in the puddles, get muddy – and then come inside and mess the carpet up.

Enjoying time with the boys and letting go of the need to control the crazy mom inside who doesn’t want to clean the carpet AGAIN from muddy messes and just get out there and play with them. The messes will wait, obviously not going to go anywhere unless I deal with them, but I do miss so many moments WITH the boys because I catch myself trying to be “supermom” who does all! They are growing up and these moments that they want to play with mom won’t last forever, I just need to learn to let go more.

 

Grab a book and start an adventure!

I don’t know about your family, but my crew loves to read. Now that school is out, we have immediately gotten lazy with TV and even Legos could last all day if I let it (trust me, if they got along that long I might consider a day of Legos just so I could catch up on all that’s left on my To-Do list! – just every now and then, ha ha). The local libraries have started their Children’s Summer Reading Programs offering prizes for reaching goals. Problem is, last summer my kids read through the program in a few weeks – THAT’S how much they enjoy reading or maybe the enjoyment of being competitive with each other. Which brings up an interesting issue for me as I scour the internet for help – what do 7-9 year olds read these days? We have exhausted the following series:

  1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
  2. Big Nate Series
  3. Junie B Jones
  4. Magic Treehouse

My 9 yr old had just started bringing home the Harry Potter series towards the end of the school year and books involving dragons, magic, etc. Geronimo Stilton is a new series my 7 yr old picked up and now they are both reading through quickly together, trading books at night and discussing what they read – it’s like they have a little book club of their own, it’s so cute! But I wouldn’t dare say that to them, that would be uncool – right? I could use some more ideas for children’s series or books to read this summer if anyone wants to lend a fellow parent a hand!

Our local library is currently running a Children’s reading program where they earn rewards for the amount of books (or pages) they have read. So far, we are off to a slow start and I am hoping they will perk up after they earn that first reward which I believe is an envelope of free coupons from around the city, next one is usually a toy. Last year we enjoyed most of our freebies and they were excited (at least the older two were, Little Bit was like – “I don’t want paper!” hopefully this year he will have a better understanding of those little papers) I have also added a step for my oldest, because he reads so FAST, I have asked him to write a book report on each book he has read. He’ll be in the 4th grade next year (oh man, that was hard to type out! Where did my baby go?) so I need to make the reading more of a challenge.

Even though they love to go to the library and check out books, my two oldest boys received Amazon’s Kindle Fires for Christmas and we downloaded the Overdrive App* so that they can connect with their libraries in the area and check out books to read on their tablets. This has become a lifesaver at times when we can’t get out to go to the library and they have already finished all their books they checked out.

 

All-New Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa*

 

 

We have rules with the tablets, and one of those rules is they can have it before bed if they are reading a book (or listening to an audio book with their headphones) I have so many parental blocks to keep my little ones safe from the internet and steer them towards “safer” apps that have been approved by mom and dad. Yes – having my kids join the internet phase of life is scary for me, doesn’t it make you nervous?!

Today is a rainy day, so it is a great time to read! What usually happens is at one point I will glance up and see we have stacks and stacks of books all around the room! I ask them if they read like this at school in the library, of course the answer is no, so why do they do it here? Amazing how these little guys are sweet gentleman at school, but little hell raisers at home – thanks guys, your mom appreciates it, now please go clean up!

 

*There are affiliate links in this post, this doesn’t cost you a thing – just means I earn a few more coins in the bank if you like what you see – enjoy them, because we love them and wanted to share with you!*

To Fathers on Fathers’ Day

Happy Fathers’ Day! 

For a while now the boys and I have been working on their little surprises they want to have ready for daddy. I try hard to have them put some thought into their gifts but make it fun too because their daddy is a fun-loving guy. He usually ends up with some pretty interesting things!

Having a list of questions to ask kids about dad at any speaking age is fun to see what they come up with. Of course, I live in a house of all males so you can only assume some of the answers on a Fathers’ Day questionnaire are going to be filled with potty humor. Apparently it never gets old to them, imagine that!

*Since I know he will be reading this… I can’t give away his surprises since he is working today. Thank you to my husband, who is a wonderful father to our three handsome loving sons, Happy Fathers’ Day – we love you and appreciate all that you do for us!*

I would like to acknowledge all those hardworking dads out there. Even when you come home exhausted from a long day at work, you still muster enough energy to play with the kids. Thank you dads for being so thoughtful to ask the kids about their day because you truly wanted to know what you missed while you were gone. You are making memories with the kids each time sit down to talk or play. You are showing them love with hugs, it will leave an everlasting impression.

My boys are all mommas boys of course (for now at least), but they adore their daddy too. When he is home they follow him in hopes to get a chance to help him do something- anything amazingly great with DAD! From fixing a broken toy to grilling hotdogs on the grill or mowing the lawn, Dad rocks! Dad is even a superhero at our house when he brings home a rental car, might seem a bit sad I know.. but these wonderful kids remind us to get excited over the little things!

How about those dads who are stay at home dads? Holy cow, you ROCK! I offered to switch places with my husband, so he could stay at home, raise our barely 2 yr old son (before we had 3 boys!) and I would go back to work full-time. He said he was pretty sure he was not going to be able to do the Stay at home daddy thing. I love staying home with my boys, still do and I bet Stay at home dads do to! It’s the most challenging, yet rewarding job ever! 
Dads you guys are amazing. Thank you for being at home with your little ones. Handling the cleaning, cooking,  diaper changing, snotty noses, book reading, temper tantrum throwing, playground groups … oh so much more.

Dad’s providing LOVE to their children, GUIDANCE when needed, being PROUD of their children for accomplishments and COMFORT if you fall.

Happy Fathers’ Day! 

Go outside and play!

Yea! It’s summer break! Woot Woot.

I’m way too excited.. way.. way.. too excited. Seriously, no sarcasm here.

Hold that thought! My dear sweet, sweet angels, school just let you out for summer one week ago and so far you have been on a road trip during half that time. For the past few days my sweet, sweet angels have sat on their bums and watched TV and played Legos. Did they go outside when the sky cleared of rain.. yes! For about 20 minutes and I received the “do you know the temperature gauge says its 100 degrees outside? It’s way too hot for us to be outside” as they dramatically go for gulps of water and get comfortable on the couch. Oh heck no! We are NOT starting the summer like this!

hot outside

Sigh, I could say I let them sit there while I caught up on all my bills and blog posts that I have half written…geez, I really need to get some work and cleaning done around here, but nope I was a good momma and told them to help me clean the house or go back outside, because I’ll be honest I’m at my wit’s end with all three acting like the lazy couch potatoes, they end up fighting more this way too.  2 out of the 3 opted for outside time (go figure the oldest stays inside, beginning to think he’s not my outside kinda guy) I can already feel the overwhelmed feeling slide over me as they are getting restless but whiney too. Ah summer has just begun! Breathe momma. You’ve got this! They are lightweights, you can take them! (cue the Rocky music)

keep-calm-and-play-outside-36

I was not mentally prepared for the everyday – “I’m bored” whining, back talk and temper tantrums. I do believe I picked up the wrong children some days! Who are these boys?? They look like my sweet babies and there are moments during the day where I get a glimpse of them but then they disappear. I think they are suffering from withdrawal from school, maybe I should start mini classes in the morning- at a decent hour after I’ve had my coffee of course- and then they can learn things like how to organize bills, create grocery lists on a budget based on meals we will make! Before long I can micromanage my children to run this house! haha.. yea that’s not going to work, but it was a nice thought at first!

Here’s my frustration with my little love munchkins –  who need to learn to deal with boredom and let mommy take care of her long, long To-Do list – I don’t feel the need to entertain my kids every second of the day. I know it’s “their summer break” (yes! someone actually said this to me as if to make me feel guilty that I still needed to run my household instead of plan out their entire summer), as I pointed out so eloquently to my 9-year-old the other morning, summer means no school until mid August – there is it, that’s it! You can sleep in a little later (which he doesn’t by the way, none of them do – that will change right? My mom laughs and says ‘Yes and then you won’t be able to get them to wake up when you want them up’) and stay up a little later at night, but I am not planning on running you around town and visiting everyone we know EVERY DAY just so you have something to do. I have to get things done, then we can do something together, I promise.

Messy house

I have a house full of toys that need to be picked up continuously or be threatened garbage day disposal, but they act like they have nothing to do if the TV is off and Kindles are put away. GO OUTSIDE my loves! Find bugs, play in mud, climb trees, catch frogs – be typical little boys! We have had our days of mud runs through the house because it IS hard to remember to take off your mud-caked boots when you have to come inside to get a drink of water or to go potty (if they haven’t already gone outside! ah little boys). I can teach you to run the carpet cleaner – just get outside while the weather is nice, put those Kindles down, stop begging to watch TV all day and get excited over going outside! Build a fort and chase each other! (ooh Hide and Seek! Hmm they are too competitive with each other for this game, it’s ridiculous how they need supervision for it !)

It is still early in the summer, with mommy and daddy’s schedules just as busy as they were during school time, I know they are frustrated with all this free time. It’s not like I left them hangin’ with nothing to do! It may not be running to the park every afternoon, museum, movies, vacations, etc. every week or a new adventure every morning but eventually that will exhaust them. (even if they don’t believe me) I have my limitations health wise right now and they “know” that but they don’t  understand how that exactly impacts them in the long run I guess. I do my best while daddy works, glad we have lots of family close by and they love the attention, crave it almost. We will have a great summer break, maybe some small adventures with those closest to us but they will make some of the biggest memories!

My kids’ idea of summer needs to come back to reality – let me help ya with that, sha! Summer is for relaxing, I will not be stressed – WE will not be stressed as a family! We will learn to love this time of the year with each other and the journey we will take every year. Breathe momma, no pressure right? haha!

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Traveling underpants.. or just kids

Summer-Fun-Kids

Summer is here and it is time to break out the suitcase! We have our first road trip coming up this summer and it’s time to start packing! We will be driving, fitting 5 people inside a vehicle for 5 hours takes nerves of STEEL people! Especially when they were little, potty training, breastfeeding, etc… (shiver) oh man looking back makes today seem like a breeze all of a sudden! How did we do that back then?! We made a 14 hour trip in a car with a 3 month old while I was still exclusively nursing (we made this trip multiple times throughout the years by the way) and we did it without blinking an eye. Amazing! (Love you GMC) Of course, each time we stopped to take a break I was unbuckled and feet out the door before the car was at a complete stop! MOMMY NEEDED ALONE TIME, DADDY’S TURN! Here’s the part where public restrooms come into play (If you missed my post about Little Boys and Public Restrooms , check it out! ).. I do NOT care for them, but I would gladly RUN to them to find some peace! It was interesting how my husband was always so sweet to drive the whole time, never complained. I guess driving long stretches seemed easier than trying to calm little babes in the back seat, HA!

Today, my boys are responsible for packing their own entertainment for the trips. Of course, I still have to send out a reminder of WHAT would make a decent entertainment! Maybe even an inspection of what goes INTO the car before it gets packed. No, no.. please do NOT bring the light up, siren wailing firetrucks that is half as big as your are in the car to play with.. can we bring a book or two? No, no we cannot bring the Nerf guns in the car and definitely not the play lawnmower. Granted he is 3 years old, he still needs pointers and I think some of the suggestions *cough, Nerf guns, cough* were from his big brothers maybe, who knows – I am positive they will deny it. There are a few in the car games I like to try out like license plate bingo, Truckspotting or Would you Rather?

Dramamine Kids
Dramamine Motion Sickness Relief for Kids, Grape Flavor, 8 Count(*Affiliate link)

I have one child who gets carsick if he reads in the car, or does any activity that keeps his head down – like playing the DS or his Kindle while the car is in motion. He can however watch movies on the overhead player, so I have to get creative on the long trips because after a while he gets tired of watching movies (that are appropriate for little ones eyes & ears) He dislikes the taste of the Dramamine Kids but they WORK! We made a 14 hour trip with only having to take this once about 4 hours into it (because he was sleeping the wee hours of the morning away) 

sea band
Sea-Band Wristband Child Morning & Travel Sickness (Pack of 2) colors may vary (*Affiliate link)

Another must have for our trip for my buddy is these Sea-Band Wristbands! I used them during all three pregnancies, helped slightly for me. My son always asks for them when we get into the car, so it must help him if not at least provide some comfort if anything! If all else fails I keep plastic grocery bags stuffed into a Tupperware container, along with wipes and extra set of clothes. No matter how hard we try to prevent, some times it just happens.

 

SNACKS! Yes my boys’ favorite part of any outing! Such a guy thing right? FOOD! Now that they are old enough (except Little Bit needs assistance here too!) I have gotten to the point where I make each of them a brown bag with their name on it and fill it with snacks for the entire trip and they are in charge of their own snacks. (I get tired of being asked every 15 minutes for a snack) All wrappers and juice boxes go right back into the brown bag when finished. Snacks are usually planned out like crackers, Fruit Snacks, trail mix, raisins, etc. They always have their water bottles with them so if they have a juice box it’s for lunch time and they know not to touch it or they won’t have anything to drink at lunch. I have fruit and veggies in a cooler that I hand out during times when we stop to stretch legs and run off some pent-up energy! Lately we are keeping a football or baseball in the car (#boymom!) I check on Pinterest to see what other mom’s are doing to keep their kiddos busy in the car, Follow my Pinterest Board Oh The Places We Go! because there’s always some neat find or fun traveling find I will pin into that board. If you have any suggestions SEND THEM MY WAY! I would love it!

So when it comes down to picking out the outfits for the week and fitting everything into bags/suitcases, who does it in your house? Does everyone have equal say in what they wear and how they pack or what they bring? Or does Mom carry that burden all on her shoulders? I would have raised my hand a year ago or so, but I am slowly but surely giving up that stress! That’s all it is, unless we are going to a particular event such as a wedding, I do not care what you are wearing. I seriously don’t and no my boys are not walking around in dirty mismatch ripped clothes, I at least wash them silly! My 3-year-old picks his clothes out daily, why can’t he pick his clothes out to pack too. He actually is pretty good at it, I try to give advise but some times comfort wins out over what matches. In the past I have made the packing lists with pictures of shirts, shorts, socks, etc. to help them learn to pack but that really meant I was doing it while they checked it off the list, woohoo making progress! Then we just started to talk it out using a calendar and marking the days we will be gone and what clothes we would need depending on the weather. That was more interactive and they remembered more the next time we packed. So now if I were to make a list for each of the boys (we travel to visit family often so they have it down pat now) on what to pack for each day and night, it’s to help signal their completion of an assignment.

Underwear travel
Son thought he would be funny by separating his pajamas by using his underwear.. hehe

They know how to stack/roll their outfits together for me and set them out on the bed so, I can put them in the suitcase. I have learned to pack a suitcase like a champ! Fit a family of 5 into a tiny suitcase – no problem! Thank goodness I have all boys or there would be bows, dresses, skirts, leggings, etc.. nope I have the shirt shorts socks.. done. #BOYMOM My husband more or less packs for himself now too, go you honey! Now if I could get him to not wait until the last second of the last day, THAT would be nice. Small steps.

I think once we have all gotten back into the traveling together groove, things go smoothly and we have more fun. I pack the way I do so everyone can easily get to their clothes quickly without tearing apart their suitcase. I will have to take more time to break that down one day! I think the inside of the car is always a different story so any tips are welcome!

Hope you are planning your first summer trip soon, stay safe. Until next time!

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