Exploring Free Play- Fostering Imagination and Growth

As a Gen X parent, I never quite understood why we “had” to fill our kids afternoons and free time with 10,000 activities (sports, club meetings, scouting, etc.). My brother and I didn’t have tons of stuff each day after school. By the time I was in the 5th grade, both my parents worked, and frequently we were left home alone for a few hours after school a couple times a week.

We did our homework, played, read, and did chores. Even before that, there were plenty of times where we were home without structured activities. We still had scouts, soccer (my brother did AYSO for one season and decided it wasn’t for him), Key Club, Choir, JV Football. Many kids in my generation were latchkey kids and filled their afternoons with free and imaginative play.

Free play is an incredible learning tool for kids. It fosters imagination and gives kids opportunities to discover and explore. There are all sorts of toys that encourage free play- dolls, food toys, blocks, legos, to name a few.

My two love Playmobil. Playmobil is a German company that has been around since the 1970’s. They have so many different sets and types of toys- everything from princesses and fairies to knights and safari sets.

A jungle adventure after preschool. Complete with a feast

Recently, my son and daughter started pulling out some of their people as well as some of the animals and created their own adventure. Enter Carl the Mongoose and Mr. Chicken. Carl is a Meerkat, and Mr. Chicken is a Bald Eagle, but the names have stuck.  Other characters include The Birdkeeper and The Man with the Gray Hat, and Cleopatrick (my daughter named her). All of these people are from various sets, Cleo was the only one that sort of resembles her name, as she came from an awesome set of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar.

The animals and their people have all sorts of adventures. They have run a food truck, run a zoo, been on a cruise, gone on safari, hunted for wild animals, opened an iron and gold mine, run an orphanage (we have a lot of little kid Playmobil people), gone to college, gone to preschool, and taken a road trip to the “ocean” in Ohio. We paused the game for a bit to look at the US map to discover there is no ocean in Ohio, but they could go to Lake Erie instead. It was deemed the “Lake Erie ocean beach” adventure.

These adventures give the kids a chance to explore themselves and work on interpersonal relationships, even if it’s as a talking Bald Eagle and his keeper.

Even in these crazy times where nothing is certain, give your kids some time to play and explore. Taking a “brain break” (which is what the big kiddos teacher calls them) throughout the day for some playtime may help your kids more than you think.

Right now we are all home together, trying to scramble into some sort of routine of distance learning, being quiet while we all learn/work, breaks, and trying to play after school is over without making too much noise while grown ups work. It’s tough. It’s crazy. The house is messy, we’re frazzled, and we weren’t “with it” last week to follow our meal plan. But we got through it, and we’re trying again this week.

We’re all learning. And that means we should grant ourselves grace.

Be kind to yourself. Wash your paws, wear a mask, flatten the curve. Have a good week!

 

FREE Virtual All-Inclusive READ 3X3 Literacy Event (San Diego and Imperial Counties)

 

This FREE virtual event on Saturday Sept. 12, is hosted by the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego and San Diego Family Magazine.

Three local authors, Henry Herz, Margarita Elizondo and Cindy Jenson-Elliott, will entertain children with a virtual book reading and craft.

Each child that registers for the event will receive a free book and craft supplies, donated by the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego and San Diego Family Magazine.

Families who register will pick up their FREE event book and craft supplies bags* through a contactless drive-by pick up. Details will be sent after registration is complete.

Sign up on Eventbrite today! Please register for the county you live in.

San Diego County: www.eventbrite.com/e/all-inclusive-read-3×3-literacy-event-san-diego-county-tickets-115791719149

Imperial County: www.eventbrite.com/e/all-inclusive-read-3×3-literacy-event-imperial-county-tickets-117657008279

*Tickets are limited.

A big thank you to our event sponsors!

Bitmo: Score a Free $2 Dunkin Donuts Gift Card and More!

Bitmo is an app that I haven’t written about before, but it’s been around for a while. It’s an app that you can use to send and receive gift cards.

You can also earn rewards when you shop through the app at specific retailers, like a lot of other apps (Dosh and Ibotta to name a few).

And one other thing that Bitmo does is it donates 2% of your gifting spend (that’s how much you spend on gift cards for others) to a charity- there are currently eight, including the San Diego Zoo, Rady’s Children’s Hospital, Feeding America, and The Salvation Army.

Well right now, current Bitmo members can gift $2 Dunkin Donuts gift cards through Bitmo to those folks who are not Bitmo members.

It’s easy. And if you are interested, shoot me an email at hewesfamilyfun@gmail.com with your cell phone number. Terms and Conditions for the offer are here- I’m pretty sure it’s US only.

And for those who already have Bitmo- Check your email for details, or open your Bitmo App!

 

8/21/2020 Friday Freebies and Deals!

bright boxesThis Friday’s freebies and deals: This week is chock full of Freebies! I’m stoked.

If you find a cool deal or freebie, please leave a comment!

Freebies:

Free 30-Day Supply of CBDistillery Broad Spectrum CBD Softgels

Teachers – Free TeachKind Magazines, Posters, Kits & More

Free Coca-Cola Energy for Kroger & Affiliates

Free Gatorade Bolt24 for Kroger & Affiliates

Free BESTEK 3-Outlet Vertical Cube Mountable Power Strip

Free Jar of Beyond the Equator Chocolate 5 Seed Butter

10 Free Promise Cards

Free Mask Helpers Sewn or Non-Sewn Masks

Free Sugarfina Candy Care Package

200 Free Custom Business Cards

Free Degree Dry Spray Antiperspirant

Free Scoop at Baskin Robbins

Free Sample of Suave Professionals for Natural Hair

Free Water Wipes

Free Sample of Clinere Earwax Cleaners

2 Free Cans of Fussie Cat Cat Food

Free Hand Lotion

Free STOK Tumbler

Free Wild Zora Instant Grain-Free Cereal Packs

Free Kamala Harris Sticker

Free Kichler Lighting Products

Free Eceutica Nutritional Sample

Free Google 3D Animals Virtual Safari in Your Home

Netflix Party -Host a Free Virtual Movie Night With Your Friends

 

Deals:

Makeup Sponge with Handle ONLY $3.99 Shipped

HOT $10 Sale – Toys, Backpack Sets, Headphones, Legos & More

Batman Animated Series Blu-ray DVD ONLY $44.99 (Reg. $80)

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Paw & Nose Lotion $1.94 on Amazon

Equate Hand Sanitizer – Large Bottle in Stock for $5.46

Nabisco Fun Shapes Cookie & Cracker Mix 20-Ct ONLY $6.13 Shipped

Play-Doh Sparkle Compound Collection ONLY $4.49 (Reg. $10)

Non-Perishable Food Today at Faith Chapel!

If your pantry is looking a little bare, cruise on over to Faith Chapel this morning! They hve non-perishable items bagged and ready to distribute to you, TODAY beginning at 9am.

9400 Campo Rd.
Spring Valley, CA 91977

This is a drive-thru style event, so you don’t have to leave your vehicles.

If you are looking for other free food resources:

Food Resources for Eastern and Central San Diego

Food Resources for Northern San Diego County

 

My Quarantine Beauty Favs and a Giveaway!

Here in California, as well as all over the nation, many businesses that are not essential are closed. That means no hair cuts, manicures, pedicures, massages, all the fun stuff that helps us relax and de-stress. Lemme tell you, after 5 months (as of Thursday) of being home with the kids all the time without knowing what is going on most of the time (or what is coming up next), I’m feeling a little stressed.

Most of you, I’m guessing, are in a similar situation. Recently I took some of my side hustle cash and splurged. Well, for me it was a splurge. I spent money on myself on some self-care items that were very much needed. These are my favorite beauty/personal care items that are helping me get through these uncertain times. 

I’m in love with this scrub! Everything by Tree Hut is awesome, but this sugar scrub is tits. It’s got Shea Butter to moisturize, sugar to exfoliate, and it smells like summer. I usually buy it at Walmart, but Amazon has it cheaper (especially when you subscribe and save).

 

Nature Nut Hair Conditioner for Dry & Damaged Hair– I discovered this conditioner through one of the companies that I test and review products through, and for the life of me, I can’t remember which one. Regardless- I am HOOKED. First of all, it smells great. Second, and most importantly, it makes my hair feel great. Smooth, soft, shiny, all that good stuff. And that’s important because my hair has been through some ish this past year. Purple hair is a lot of work. The shampoo is good too, but the conditioner? That stuff is tops!

Speaking of purple hair, I use Ion Permanent Brights Creme from Sally Beauty in Purple. Of course, you gotta have a developer, and a bowl and brush, and gloves too. I color my hair with this about every 8-10 weeks. My hair grows pretty fast, and to be honest, my hair is coming in more and more grey, so it’s super noticeable. To stretch my permanent color, I’ll hit the ends with a semi-permanent dark pink about week 4-6, and refresh the remaining all-over color with a semi-permanent purple. Right now I’m digging Color Jamz ( Reapsberry Kamikaze and Purple Passion to be exact). I use the pink on Bitty Bird’s hair too- It washes out in about 2-4 weeks.

I’m a huge fan of good skincare products. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen my self-care DIY facial flat lays. A couple of my go-to summer skincare products are:

Noexema– Seriously. It is incredible for soothing sunburned skin. I keep a jar under the skin for this very reason. Slather on a thick layer over sunburned skin and rest for about an hour. Rinse off any excess on a cool shower. Pat skin gently to dry.  

Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater This toner is very soothing and calming. I stash this in the fridge in the summer and give myself and the kiddos a spritz a few times a day. And it smells nice too. 

I know that some extra time in the shower, scrubbing with some yummy sugar scrub isn’t going to make all the shenanigans going on in the world melt away. But if I can give myself some grace, chill the fuck out, and have a few extra minutes to myself, I’m going to do it. 

Oh, and if you are wondering what kind of hand sanitizer (called hanny-sanny by my daughter) we like- Usually I’d say whatever is on sale, but since there was a recent debacle about some imported Hanny-Sanny being poisonous (WTF?), we’ve got a couple of large bottles of Kundal Fresh Water Hand Sanitizer that are pretty good. And it’s not sticky. Having used many types over the past few months, I’ve come to discover that some types/brands are sticky. EW. Also, I’ve come to realize that most of it smells like cheap vodka, and now I have no desire to drink vodka. 

And now for the Giveaway- I want you to splurge and get yourself some awesome self-care goodies too. Leave me a comment on this blog post: What would you buy FOR YOURSELF with a $25 Amazon GC? You can earn a bonus entry by commenting on this Instagram post. I’ll choose a winner on 8/23/2020. I’ll notify the winner via email.

8/16/2020 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the weekly calendar/schedule and prepping the snack box for the week.

I’ve been buying snacks in bulk and only putting weeks worth out in the snack box. It keeps us out of the stores, and its healthier. I’ve been doing this for about 2 months, and I’ve gotten really good at hiding the extra snacks.

I took the kids with me to the grocery store today, and while we picked up a few extra things, overall we were good and stayed within our budget. I did forget to buy cat litter, though, so I’ll be off to Target tomorrow morning.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Lunches will be whatever the kids want for the time being (Peanut butter sandwiches and baguettes toasted with garlic butter are high on the list as of late). I may make up a cheese pizza and serve that for a few lunches during the week with apple slices (or apple sauce), cheez-its, and milk (as well as some sort of dessert- I made these cookies over the weekend, and they make a good lunch dessert)

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

School starts for us on Wednesday. We are distance learning for the foreseeable future, and while I never imagined I’d be teaching Kindergarten and Special Ed 4th grade at the same time, here we are. The kids are still excited about going back to school, seeing friends via their class Zoom meetings. I am going to try and organize a socially distanced Pokemon hunt with Pokemon Go for some of our classmates and friends who play.

  • Sunday:  Leftovers
  • Monday  Stuffed Peppers, garlic bread, fruit
  • Tuesday: Salad and Sandwiches
  • Wednesday: Stir Fry veggies and chicken
  • Thursday: Pizza Night (pizza and salad or fruit)
  • Friday: Salad and Soup
  • Saturday: leftover fiesta

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Leaning Into My Side Hustles: How I made $200 in two weeks!

Disclaimer: This article is FULL of links for affiliate programs, survey companies, and the like. Some of which I may receive a bonus or commission on if you sign up. Think of it as buying me a cup of coffee (that you don’t directly pay for). For the record, I like Iced Lattes, no sweetener.

Like so many other people, I haven’t been able to work as much over the past six months as I am used to. And this includes my side hustles, which sadly, have fallen to the side. A couple of weeks ago I decided to dive headfirst back into my side hustles and see if I couldn’t make a little bit of money. School will be starting next week (although for us it is distance-learning, so I will be teaching both kindergarten and special ed fourth grade- I don’t know if I’m up for it, but I’m gonna give it my best).

Usually, the beginning of school is the time where I get back into my side hustles and moneymaking endeavors, and I’m able to spend more time working because the kids are… Back in school.

A woman in one of my mom’s group post it on Facebook the other day asking about research studies, and that led me to realize that this post needed to be written. There are other people in similar positions as myself, and we need to make money.

The past two weeks I have spent a lot of time working my side hustles, mostly early in the morning or late at night. Or while I am sitting on the patio watching the kids splash in the kiddie pool. By the way, said kiddie pool was paid for using Amazon gift cards that I earned doing a side hustle.

Here are the side hustles I’ve been working the past two weeks and approximately how much money I’ve made.

Paid Viewpoint: I have done about 10 surveys for them over the past two weeks. Their surveys take usually less than 10 minutes to do, and you’re prequalified for them, so you’re not gonna waste a bunch of time only to be told that you’re not earning any money. They will email you when you have a survey, but you can also just log onto your account and see if you have any surveys to do.

Sometimes if they have something that is time-sensitive, they’ll email you right away and there is usually a small bonus ($.50 or less) to do the survey right away. Their payout is $15, and I cashed out this afternoon with $16.10. 

Pinecone Research: I don’t know if they are currently looking for new members, but you can always go to their website and take the survey and if they’re not looking for your demographic, they add you to the waiting list and when they need you they will email you. This is another survey company that only send you service that you were prequalified for. Most of the time it is for products that may be coming to marketplace soon and the Company has questions about packaging pricing structures and they just want opinions. Most of the time Pinecone Research surveys pay $3 each. You can either save it up and cash it out or just cash it out as you make it. I get my money via PayPal but they also have gift cards and other stuff too. I made $9 this week.

Field Agent: This is one hustle that you can’t do at home. Field Agent is a secret shopping/audit app. Right now they have a lot of “Buy and Try” for alcohol. I have only been doing Field Agent tasks when I am already going to go to a location where they have an available audit/secret shop. I’m not going out a lot of other places. Usually, you get a reimbursement for purchase plus a bounty for the survey. It’s quick, it’s easy, and you get to try new products. It’s pretty fun.  I haven’t been able to go to the gym in a while, I’ve pretty much stopped drinking. So I’m trying to avoid audits and secret shops that involve alcohol.  I’ve made $20 over the past two weeks.

Digsite: I don’t remember how I discovered DigSite (I think it was a targeted Facebook Ad). I have done surveys and research studies with them for about a year, and they generally pay between $25 and $200. over the past two weeks, I have done two research studies with them, it’s about 5 to 10 minutes each day for three or four days. They ask your opinions about a specific topic, sometimes you have to take a picture, or do a little bit of homework, but, overall it’s fun. Dig site pays in Amazon gift cards. Over the past two weeks, I have made $90 in Amazon gift cards.

Q-insights: Q-insights is a research study firm that’s based in Orange County, California. Once you get on their email list, they will send you emails when they have open studies. A lot of them are done online, but a few of them are done in person in Orange County in various locations. Cute insights surveys tend to pay in excess of $75, but, they can be a lot more work. They pay via check sent through the mail. I signed up for 2 of their upcoming studies, fingers crossed I get into them!

UpVoice: It’s a pretty passive way to earn money. As long as you’re active on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and you shop on Amazon, UpVoice is a pretty simple way to earn some spending cash. It is a chrome extension, I cashed out for $20 last week. In theory, if you are a regular social media user and have the upper voice chrome installation extension, you will be making $10 every 6 weeks or so for no extra effort.

Fetch Rewards: I use a bunch of different cashback apps in conjunction with my couponing to save money on groceries, but my favorite is Fetch Rewards. I’ve been putting receipts in like a madwoman, and I cashed out my points for $15 In Amazon Gift Cards.

Ibotta: When I got a new phone recently, I hadn’t transferred over all of my apps to my new phone. I realized this week that I needed to add Ibotta. When I did, I noticed I was almost to the $20 payout minimum, so right before I sat down to write this article, I scanned in my Food4Less receipt from earlier today, and that bumped me to $21.00! I cashed out lickity-split! (For some apps that I use to save and earn money, check out my post here).

Achievement: This is a super passive hustle, but it’s super fun. Here is the article I wrote last month with all the information about how it works. I cashed out for $10 on Monday. 

That’s a total of $201.10! I also sold a few things on Facebook Marketplace that we were getting rid of during our recent household purge. I didn’t include those above, since I can’t do that frequently (But it was $65 cash in my pocket!).

Talk Back: I would love to hear about some of your side hustles. How do you make extra cash?

Help Others & Score a $10 Ralphs Gift Card!

 

ElderLove is a NPO that helps seniors with in home care. They are located here in Southern CA. Right now they are asking for Ralphs shoppers to designate ElderLove as the recipient of their Ralphs Community Contribution Program. As a thank you, ElderLove will give you a $10 Ralphs Gift Card!

It’s pretty easy- and you will be helping an NPO that helps the elderly- it’s a win/win!

Step 1: Go to the Ralphs Community Rewards website here.
Step 2: If you already have a digital account at Ralphs, then you can immediately search for us at the link. Otherwise, you will need to create a digital account.
Step 3: ““Elder Love USA” or our Nonprofit Organization (NPO) number AQ317 (Note: Elder Love USA is three separate words)
Step 4: You will then see a confirmation that you have successfully enrolled. Very Important: Take a screenshot, photo or print out the confirmation showing you have chosen Elder Love as your charity of choice.
Step 5: Email your confirmation image to us at Shannon@elderloveusa.org along with the mailing address for your gift card. You will receive a confirmation email within 24 hours. If you do not, please call ElderLove at 888-336-8322.

The last step is to like their Facebook Page.

 

8/14/2020 Friday Freebies & Deals!

bright boxesThis Friday’s freebies and deals: There are some back to school deals, samples, and cool freebies!

If you find a cool deal or freebie, please leave a comment!

Freebies:

FREE Amazon Baby Box Samples Back in Stock
Free Sample of FLIP Lube
Arm & Hammer Kitty Krew – Free Cat Products
Free IT Cosmetics Eyebrow Gel or Eyebrow Pencil
Free Body Lotion Repairing Cream
Free eos Stickers (Email)
Free Kernel Season’s Samples
Possible Free Collective Laboratories Hair Serum
Free Pest Proof Your Home with EarthKind Party
Free Natural Sheer Nail Polish
Free Half Day CBD Oil
Free Coffee at Dunkin
Free Pancakes at IHOP
Free Price*s Pimiento Cheese Spread
Free Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion
Free Biden-Harris Sticker
Free MERV-13 Face Mask Inserts
Free $5 Off $5 at Ace Hardware = Free Item
Free Citizen Science Soil Collection Kit

Deals:

Buy 1 Get 1 FREE Boneless Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings
3 Grilled Chicken Tacos for ONLY $2.49 at Del Taco
Cold Brew Medium Iced Coffee ONLY $1 at Sonic Drive-In

Elmer’s Liquid School Glue 12-Pack ONLY $6.00 (Reg. $27)
Save $20 When You Spend $100 on Baby Products on Amazon
Pilot Frixion ColorSticks Erasable Gel Ink Pens $8.06 (Reg. $18)
Ozark Trail 10-Pack Aluminum Flashlight + 30 Batteries for $5.97
Learning Resources Answer Buzzers Set ONLY $10.66 (Reg. $20)
Crocs Classic Tie Dye Shoes ONLY $27.97 (Reg. $45)
Giant Enfamil Gentlease Milk Powder Formula 3 for $75 on Amazon
Touchless Digital Infrared Thermometer for ONLY $9.99 RUN DEAL
FREE 2 Months of Kindle Unlimited Reading (Save $19.98)
Aveeno Baby Eczema Therapy Nighttime Balm ONLY $2.63 Shipped
Hudson Baby Hooded Animal Blanket ONLY $7.79 (Reg. $13)
Melissa & Doug Seaside Sidekicks Nesting Pails ONLY $4.99
Hollow Butterfly Rhinestone Bracelet ONLY $1 Shipped