Tryazon: Another New Exploding Kittens Game!

We’ve been participating in Tryazon events for three+ years. We’ve gotten to try all sorts of fun toys, games, and food.  You can learn more about Tryazon here.

Exploding Kittens is back again with another Tryazon Featured Party opportunity! Introducing Hand to Hand Wombat, a totally unique take on classic social deduction games. Players work together in teams with their eyes closed to either repair or sabotage three stacks of square towers before time runs out. The goal is to earn points, figure out who’s working against you, and get opposing players out of the game before it’s too late!

Tryaon Has 250 hosting spots open for this opportunity! Those selected get to receive a party pack with a Hand-to-Hand Wombat game and other extras to share with friends and family! Learn more and apply here.

Carter’s Giveaway: Enter to win holiday PJs for the entire fam!

This came across my email today. We love Carter’s kid’s clothes, and who doesn’t love Holiday PJ’s for the whole fam?

Enter to win Carter’s festive winter holiday PJ’s for the whole family! This contest is only open today, August 25, 2022.

Five (5) grand prize winners will be selected. Each grand prize winner will receive a two hundred and fifty dollar ($250) Carter’s e-Gift Card. Prize will be fulfilled approximately 6-8 weeks after winner verification is complete. The approximate retail value (“ARV”) of each grand prize is $250. For the complete rules, etc, click here.

 

Enter to Win Hulafrog’s Family Vacation Giveaway

We could all use a vacation, right? Hulafrog contacted me with this contest, and I had to share. I’d love to take the kids to see some of our National Parks, and I think this trip is so amazing.

THE ULTIMATE NATIONAL PARKS FAMILY VACATION: A once-in-a-lifetime family vacation to Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks guided by Austin Adventures, the family-owned Montana-based company that has been curating one-of-a-kind experiences for families for over 35 years.

TRIP DURATION: 6 Days, 5 Nights

VALUE: Up to $15,000

To learn more about this trip or to enter the giveaway, check out the Hulafrog website here.

Managing a Household with Neurodivergencies (ADHD, ASD, etc.)

Earlier this week my friend Sam posted on Facebook, “Neurodivergent Friends what are some tools you use with others that help you with daily life, communication, relationships?”

A few friends posted that they needed help with meal prep, day-to-day stuff, and as y’all know, that’s my bag, baby!

Both my kids are Neurodivergent (ADHD/ASD and ADHD), and their dad has ADHD (combined type/ C) and because of that, we’ve had to make some adjustments to our daily life and how we function. And while our processes and schedules may not work for everyone, hopefully, these tips give you some idea and hope if you need it.

Some of these directly affect/benefit the kids, and some make my life easier, which in turn makes their lives easier.

Having an accurate(ish) pantry, fridge, and freezer inventory. I have made my own sheets in the past (using Canva), but the ones from Organized Home are great.

Meal Prep and meal planning (this includes using Dream Dinners once every few months). This frees up time each night to read, hang out, bathe, and get kids ready for bed.

Meal Prep can be as easy as cut up veggies, fruit, pre-portioned foods, and easy meals or side dishes prepared in advance that only need to be heated up to avoid wasting money eating out because “there is nothing to eat”. Also having one night for take-out. And I have a whiteboard that lists our meal plan for the week- I try and post it weekly on Instagram.

The Snack Box- I also organized our fridge and pantry to be more ND-friendly. Stuff that should be eaten (healthy food like fruit, cheese sticks, yogurt, etc.) is at kid eye level in clear packaging and is labeled (I use expo markers on my Rubbermaid containers), and I have a “Snack box” in the pantry that is available 24/7 for hungry faces. It’s got individually portioned shelf-stable snacks and meal components. And on days when I am too tired/rushed to cook we have “Meal of snacks” where I serve a variety of snacks on old-school sectioned cafeteria trays- fruits, veggies, crackers, cheese, cookies, and a drink (juice or iced tea is a hit).

We have a list of snacks on the fridge so the kids know what there is to snack on. It is a visual list (I drew it), and when we are out of specific items, I cover the picture with a piece of posit note.

Calendars– in the kitchen, and one in each bedroom. I update them weekly, plus the grownups use the calendars on their phones and we have a shared family calendar. Kids get reminders each day in the morning and afternoon of any appointments or events that will take place during the day. The visual and auditory reminders really help cement the appointment in their mind.

Visual reminders– next to the front door at eye level there is a sign that reminds us we need: cellphone, wallet, keys, and garage door opener. It’s laminated.

Visual schedule– this is mainly for the kids. I drew up a daily schedule using words and pictures. I wrote a post about it here.

Lists– Everyone has a “Care tasks” list each week that includes appts, returning borrowed items, and tasks to do throughout the week. You can read about my weekly Care Tasks here. 

Larger font digital clock with day of the week, date, and what part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening, night). The kids can read a clock, but it can take time to engage their brains and count by 5’s, but the “old people clock” as it was marketed on Amazon helps them instantly and helps a lot with the “is it time for xxxxx yet?!?!”

Using your phone to stay on top of details- I saw this on Facebook in a group and I’ve started doing this. If you have an iPhone, there is a notes section in each contact. I’ve seen them used to keep track of favorite fast food at various restaurants, favorite foods/drinks, clothing sizes and brands, favorite colors, birthdays, and anniversaries. It’s such a game changer.

The fidget/stim box– we have a plastic box full of fidget/stim toys for everyone to grab when they need to focus. And everyone has some in their room too. This includes headphones to cut down on loud sounds (I buy the landscapers kind from harbor freight). We have 3 pairs in the house and two pairs in the car. For those not familiar- fidget toys can help calm the body so the mind can focus.

Some favorites include pop-its, hand strengthening eggs, fidget cubes, fidget spinners, stretchy tubes, pop tubes, and stress balls (the kind with Orbeez are super satisfying). Amazon sells really great fidget toys mutli-packs.

Medication Boxes- We refill our medication boxes each week (both AM and PM).  The three of us take our meds together each morning at breakfast time. Our medication boxes live on the kitchen counter, along with our pill minders: Jon Cena and Skeletor.

Stuff has a place– The kid’s shoes and backpacks are always by the door during the school year, ready to be cleaned out and refilled each night. My car keys and purse live in the same spot, the pool key has a special spot. The extra toilet paper and paper towels are always in the same spot (under the front bathroom sink). These are just a few examples of the ways that we remind ourselves and create routines. Creating routines can give us a sense of normalcy and be calming.

The Family Binder– One last thing that doesn’t directly “help” the kids but helps the family, especially in times of emergency is the family binder. I’ve had one since 2010 in various incarnations. I have a really old post about it here.  It’s basically my brain in paper form. It’s got all of our important papers, insurance info, important phone numbers, policy numbers, warranty information, receipts for expensive/valuable stuff, copies of most recent IEPS, copies of diagnosis paperwork, lists of everyone’s meds, doctors info, etc. Think of it as all the info you’d need if you lost power for an extended period, your house burned down, or there was a tornado.

There are a lot of other things that we do in our home to help the kids- keep them safe, regulated, and happy. The stuff listed above is just a small sample. Everyone’s home runs differently. And this was and continues to be a lot of work. The examples above are continually changing, and evolving in our home, and are a combination of 11+ years of hard work, learning, and failing. Some of this stuff I did to try and get organized in my late 20s, even before I was married and had kids.

 

 

Tryazon: Summer Game Night from Spin Master


We’ve been participating in Tryazon events for three+ years. We’ve gotten to try all sorts of fun toys, games, and food.  You can learn more about Tryazon here.

Beat the heat this August with a cool Tryazon Featured Party opportunity, from Spin Master Games! Featuring five great titles including Beat the Parents, Hedbanz, Sink N’ Sand, and more! Spin Master Games has just what you need to make your time together fun and memorable by bringing everyone together through laughs amidst friendly competition that the whole family will enjoy.

Tryazon has 250 hosting spots open for this opportunity! Those selected get to receive a party pack with a variety of Spin Master Games to share with friends and family! Learn more and apply here.

Starting Off 2022 Right!

For years I have written year-end articles to help save money, earn money, live frugally.

As the years go on, these articles have evolved and older articles contain outdated or no longer relevant tips (like clipping coupons- Sorry friends, 99% of your savings and deals will now come from apps).

So as 2021 draws to a close, let’s focus on how we can make 2022 great!

The 7 days of greatness will include:

  1. Starting fresh in 2022
  2. Budgeting 101
  3. How to save money at the grocery store and beyond.
  4. Making Money without driving your car as part of a hustle.
  5. TikTok “hustles” tested.
  6. Using time wisely (Saving time vs. Saving Money)
  7. Setting yourself up for Sucess in 2022 and beyond

These posts will be up throughout the next two weeks. I’ll be taking time off to hang out and play with the kids, so I don’t have a set schedule yet, but there will be a lot of great info coming your way before 2022 starts!

Have Your Hot Girl Summer on a Budget

I’m sure by now everyone has heard the phrase “Hot Girl Summer”, but do you know what it means? The phrase can be traced back to a Megan Thee Stallion song a few years ago.

On Twitter, she explained: “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party, etc.”

A couple of my friends have embraced it, and I think that it’s a pretty amazing outlook to have, especially since last summer was, well, Sad Trombone Noise? I know the kids are looking forward to having fun, more adventures, and getting out of the house. Here are a couple ways I’m bringing Hot Girl Summer (and sharing it with the fam).

New Bathing Suits. Kids grow, but what about me? Well after having the same swimsuits for 3 years, it’s time. Especially since we swim daily.  I bought a few new suits from Amazon. Since I’m fair-skinned I picked up one with long sleeves, the kids tease me about working at SeaWorld. This is just one of the many suits I’ve got. It’s perfect for prime sun time.

 

New Pool Bag and New Pool Toys. Every Summer it seems, we need new pool toys and a new pool bag. The Chlorine wrecks our bag (which is mesh- this helps the pool toys dry quickly), and daily use of toys leaves them.. wrecked. Dollar Tree has a great selection of sturdy pool toys, including inflatables for kids (We have a cool cookie ring that has a “bite” taken out of it). For me, I picked up a sweet inflatable float pool chair. 

Plans to meet up with friends. Now that most people have access to the vaccine, getting together with friends is a lot more feasible. We are still limiting ourselves and staying away from large gatherings where we don’t know everyone, but dinner and drinks with friends sound amazing. I’m hosting dinners a couple times a month over the summer for a few reasons: 1. To keep all of our costs down (Dinner out with drinks costs $$$ these days), and honestly, I don’t feel super safe going out for dinner all that often, especially now that there are no mask regulations in our state. And I’m having a weekend getaway with some girlfriends in a few weeks. I am really looking forward to a weekend away in a vacation rental doing a whole lot of nothing!

Take Advantage of the season: What does that mean? Summer has all sorts of fun advantages: Long days, Amazing fruit and veggies are in season, nice weather. Spend time outside (poolside, at the beach, exploring nature), enjoy a big bowl of fruit salad, make a huge salad! Community events are starting to come back (with limited event sizes), and there are lots of free events throughout the summer. EventBrite is a great place to find community events.

Make Time for You: I know… So many blogs and social media tell you to get self-care time and spend time doing things that you love, but as a parent, it can be hard without staying up late or waking up before dawn. Finding a sitter can be tough too. It’s ok to lean on family and friends. The past year has been exponentially tough on parents, and you need time to yourself. Swap child care with friends, or if you want to have a night out, split the cost of a sitter. Your kids can hang out together, while you and your friends get some time away.

Take Care of Yourself: And I don’t mean the stereotypical self-care of putting on a mud mask and drinking water with lemon slices. That’s fun, but I mean the simple acts that we often overlook as caregivers.

  • Sunscreen for your face and any exposed areas when you’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes during peak sun hours (usually 10am-4pm). Don’t forget the tops of your ears. Being super fair-skinned I also wear a sun hat too. Not super sexy, but I don’t want skin cancer.
  • Take something to drink with you. I know most of you pack snacks for your kids when you leave home, but take a few extra minutes to make yourself something that you like (bonus if it’s a snack that your kids do not like- No sharing!), and fill your water bottle. This is the water bottle I use. If you like fruit-infused water, bottles like this are great.  You can also opt for an infuser to go into your favorite bottle or insulated cup.
  • Find Something to Keep You Occupied.  Besides your kids. Pick up a book, grab a craft kit (I like embroidery- it’s easy and portable), Craftsy has some cool online classes to get you started.

I’d love to hear about how you are bringing Hot Girl Summer. Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

No Joke! Legoland California is Back 4/1/2021!

Oh, man, the kids are going to be pumped when I tell them about Legoland!

LEGOLAND® California Resort is excited to offer Park Preview Days with access to select rides and attractions beginning April 1, 2021, under California’s reopening health and safety guidelines with official reopening on April 15, 2021.  After closing its gates one year ago, the theme park built for kids is offering priority access to Hotel guests, pass holders, and existing ticket holders impacted by COVID-19 Park closure, for the month of April.

Park Preview Days offers access to select rides including Driving School, LEGO® TECHNIC™ Coaster, Fairy Tale Brook, and Coastersaurus.  Kids and families can also enjoy socially distant character meet and greets, live entertainment, a wide variety of food options, and Miniland U.S.A.

The Resort officially reopens on April 15, offering access to SEA LIFE® aquarium and LEGO® CHIMA™ Water Park. Guests will once again be immersed into the creative world of LEGO® and some of the Park’s more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions.

Guests are required to purchase tickets and make hotel bookings online in advance to reserve access for their desired dates to visit.  Guests wanting to book hotel reservations can do so now. The Park reservation system will be made available soon.

“It’s been a long and challenging year for all of us and we are extremely excited to be able to start reopening our Resort not only to our guests so they can build family memories, but for our staff who have been patiently waiting to return to work, “ said LEGOLAND California Resort President Kurt Stocks.

To further prepare for reopening, LEGOLAND is hiring for multiple positions within Attractions, Water Park, Food and Beverage, Retail, and Hotel.  Individuals interested in joining the LEGOLAND team can visit: www.legolandjobs.com

To ensure a safe and healthy experience for its guests, the Resort is implementing safety guidelines which include reduced capacity, cashless payments, social distancing practices, and enhanced cleaning regimes. Face coverings will be required for all guests two years of age and up as well as all staff members and temperatures will be taken upon check-in.  For more information, Park and Water Park guidelines, health and safety guidelines and to purchase tickets, visit: www.legoland.com/california.

Legoland California Update! Build and Play and More!

My kids miss Legoland California like whoah. I won’t lie, I miss Grannie’s Apple Fries. I got an email from Legoland California this morning about some upcoming openings in the park and at the hotel.

LEGOLAND® California Resort’s “Build ‘N Play” Days starting March 5, 2021.  This new experience offers guests a chance to explore play structures within the Park such as Kai’s Spinners and Cole’s Rock Climb in LEGO® NINJAGO® World and DUPLO® Playtown, building activities, a scavenger hunt in Miniland U.S.A., live entertainment, character meet and greets, shopping at The Big Shop and more!

With ticket prices starting at $19.99, Build ‘N Play activities include a Miniland dance party where guests can do the LEGO limbo, design their own Minifigure on the roof of the Model Shop, rock out to live musical appearances in Fun Town, and taste crazy food concoctions such as deconstructed S’mores and colorful churros. Two building activities have been designed to stretch children’s imaginations with separate sanitized brick packs and space for children’s creations to stay on display each weekend.

And this is the part that is super exciting to me (and I know the kids will dig it too)…

LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel guests can double their splashing fun by having exclusive access to LEGO® CHIMA™ Water Park! From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on visits between March 12 and May 2, Cragger’s Swamp, Lion Temple Wave Pool, Build-a-Boat, and Wolves’ Den Grill is open exclusively to Hotel guests.

Guests at LEGOLAND Castle Hotel can see movies outdoors at night, enjoy an outdoor play structure, listen to bedtime stories and meet their favorite LEGOLAND costume characters! Reservations for LEGOLAND Castle Hotel can be made online and guests can choose from three different room themes: Knights and Dragons, Royal Princess, or Magic Wizard rooms. Breakfast take out plus lunch and dinner take out and dine-outside options are available plus an in-room treasure hunt for the kids.

I’m going to start saving our pennies and see if we can make this happen over Spring Break! We’ve been to Legoland so many times, but we’ve never been to the water park. Both kids love Legoland, especially Chima and Ninjago-themed activities and rides.

Holiday Light Displays: Socially Distanced Family Fun!

One of our favorite family activities this time of year is to drive around the county and check out Christmas lights. I pack some snacks and hot chocolate (or just white milk for the Bitty Bird- She doesn’t like cocoa- I know…), and we head out for an adventure. I usually grab a couple extra fluffy blankets too. They tend to fall asleep on the way home!

I’ve included our family favorites, as well as some that came recommended by my Facebook fans. I did not include any that charge a fee to see. There are quite a few professional displays that charge a fee to drive-thru all over the county.

There are a few that I did not include as I have heard they are dark (Knob Hill in Vista), or the owners of the homes have moved or chosen not to do a display this year.

East County:

  • Jingle Bell Hill (also known as Pepper Dr. Lights). Solomon Ave./Pegeen Pl. and surrounding area. Off 67 & Bradley. Dec. 8-26, Mon-Th 6-9 pm, Fri-Sun 6-10 pm.
  • 10248 Paseo Palmas Dr. Nicknamed “Tinsel Town”. Dec. 1-25, 5:30-9 pm. Most of the houses on this street are very well decorated with lights and moving displays! They have a Facebook page too!
  •  Starlight Circle, East and West Glendon Circles. Through December 26th, 7-10 pm. This is extremely popular!  Starlight Circle even has a Facebook page!

North County:

  • 12631 Stoutwood St., Poway Off Twin Peaks Rd. & Deerwood St. Nicknamed “The Griswolds.”
  • 23542 Bassett Way, Ramona  Sun-Th, 5:30pm -10pm; Fri & Sat, 5:30pm – 11pm

Be safe, stay in your cars, or mask up and stay socially distant from others.

If you know of any light displays in San Diego County that are active this year and free- Please leave a comment! (that you have gone to- please no linking to other websites)