Summertime Plans on a Budget!

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School is out for us on Tuesday. That means I’ve got 67 days to fill with adventures and “excitement” as my 6 year put it. No pressure, right?

Here are just a few things we’ll be doing to have lots of fun, but not spend a ton of money.

  • Taking advantage of free community events! Our local libraries have tons of fun events during the month.  Lego Club, craft afternoons, story time for pre-schoolers, and our local library has a great slate of summer events, including a summer reading program!
  • Using passes and memberships that we’ve already paid for. For us, that’s the San Diego Zoo and the YMCA. I plan on taking full advantage of the YMCA membership daily to get the kids out of the house and playing with others, as well as swimming at the activity pool.
  • Packing snacks and drinks when we leave the house. Henry’s pre-school backpack has become our go to snack backpack. I wrote about our family snack backpack yesterday.
  • Meeting up with friends at the park to play. We love playing at the park. It’s a great way to get out the wiggles, meet new friends, and catch up with old friends. There are tons of groups on Meetup.com or Facebook. If you haven’t checked out Momco on Facebook, it’s a great way to find moms looking to meet up and play!
  • I love to arrange craft or science get togethers. The kids get to make something or try a science project and play with friends. I’m not really into Pinterest all that much, but I do have a Pinterest Board with some of the science and crafts we want to do this summer.  I try to use the supplies we have on hand. I find that a lot of the supplies can be picked up at 99 Cents Only, or cheaply at Target.
  • We’ll also be painting a lot of rocks and hiding them all over this summer. Have you heard of Santee Rocks? Both kids love it and it’s a great way to get kids out and active!  It’s an awesome Facebook Group. Learn more here.
  • The Beach! I know not everyone has the beach near them, but if you do- take advantage!  Google your favorite beach and Tide Chart and find out when low tide it. Low tide is the perfect time to hunt for shells. If you are in San Diego, or will be visiting this summer, check out Coronado for the SS Monte Carlo. It’s a sunken ship that is visible and explorable at low tide.
  • Don’t forget the $1.00 kids movies at Regal Cinemas!
  • Here are a few of my other tips for a fun, frugal San Diego Summer.

Camping with Kiddos!

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As we prep for our annual family camping trip, I thought I’d share some of the fun things we do with the kids when we camp.

In addition to all of the usual camping stuff: Tent, blankets, pillows, air mattress, clothes, toiletries, Sunscreen, food, camp kitchen stuff…. You need stuff to do!

A friend and I made a huge batch of play dough last week, and we’re taking half of the batch, along with some cookie cutters, small rolling pins and other fun play dough stuff I got on my local Buy Nothing Group.

Games: High Ho Cherry-O, card games (like Uno, and a few regular decks of cards), lawn bowling.

We also have a craft box. It’s a large tote, like this one. I’ve filled it with all sorts of craft odds and ends. Mostly stuff leftover from other projects, as well as stuff I’ve gotten from Craigslist Curb alerts, and my local Buy Nothing group.  There is paper, scissors, glue, beads, pipe cleaners, paint, and so much more! The kids rifle through it and come up with some of the most interesting projects. I really believe that kids need to have free reign over creative play, so as long as I am there to make sure they are safe, they are free to create and play how they wish.

Bubbles. I make about a gallon of bubble solution, and we have all kinds of wands and stuff (Dollar tree and Target’s Dollar spot are great places to find bubble toys). We also make some out of pipe cleaners.

We also cook a lot when we are camping. We use dutch ovens to make all kinds of baked goods, including our favorite: Beer Bread. My dad has a cool clay Pizza oven (it’s this one), and we make pizzas in the late afternoons to snack on. Our favorite pizza recipe is here.

Here are a few pictures of our adventure last year:

We also of course, play at the campground play ground, go on nature hikes (and do some fun nature scavenger hunts- check out Pinterest for a bunch). We spend time with family and friends, and of course, check out all of the events and fun at the big camping event in which we are participating.

Camping is a great family activity, and here in San Diego there are so many places to camp! From the beach, to the mountains, to the desert, there are campgrounds, both private and public for low prices!

If you are a camper, where is your favorite place to camp?

Fun Free Easter Events in San Diego!

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Looking for some fun this week to celebrate Easter? I’ve been combing the internet looking for some fun to share!

Here are just a few of my favorite free or cheap San Diego Area events! Most are Easter specific, but there are a few that are just good spring fun!

Meet the Easter Bunny, and hunt for Eggs at Lake Murray Playground this Friday, the 14th! I am sponsoring this event. We’ll have lots of fun for all kids!

Spring Eggstravaganza in Santee. This is a very busy and very popular east county event! It features continuous egg hunts for ages 8 & under, pony rides, crafts, inflatables, petting zoo, carnival rides and games, and more. April 15, 9 am-3 pm. Ride/activity tickets $1 each (cash only). You can park outside the lakes and walk in, otherwise entrance to the park is $6/car. Santee Lakes, Lake 5, 9310 Fanita Pkwy *Get there early to avoid the rush. We used to go when Lil’ Man was smaller to this event, but there are just too many people for us.

If you are going to be in Mission Valley, check out the free monthly craft at the Lakeshore Learning store! For ages 3 and up 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 15 at 7510 Hazard Center Drive (San Diego)

Grossmont Center, La Mesa is hosting an egg hunt for all ages, costumed characters, face painting and a train display. Free event. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. April 15.

A lot of the Rec Centers around San Diego are hosting events on Saturday. Here are just a few!

FREE Spring Egg Hunt at Adams Recreation Center. Egg scrambles, face painting, crafts, music and more. April 15, 10 am-12:30 pm. Bring a basket. 3491 Adams Ave., San Diego. http://www.sandiego.gov; 619-235-1149.

FREE Egg Hunt at Morley Field Sports Complex. Also, games, arts and crafts, egg toss, sack races and cake walks. April 15, 9:30 am-noon; egg hunt at 11 am. 2221 Morley Field Dr., San Diego. 619-525-8262.

FREE Eggs & Goodies at Pacific Beach Recreation Center. Egg hunts plus a 40-foot obstacle course, a bounce house, arts and crafts, and face painting. April 15, 1 pm. Returned eggs will qualify participants for special goodie bags. 1405 Diamond St. For details, call 858-581-9927.

FREE Torrey Hills Egg Hunt. Also, crafts, music, jumps and face painting. April 15, 9-11 am. Torrey Hills Community Park, 4262 Calle Mejillones, San Diego. 858-552-1687.

Louis A. Stelzer County Park, Lakeside 10 – 11 a.m. event April 15 at 11470 Wildcat Canyon Road, 619-561-0580. There may be a $3 parking/park entrance fee per vehicle.

 

It’s Spring!

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It’s Spring and we’ve been busy!

Spring break starts on Monday for us, and that’s two weeks of fun! To keep us busy I’v planned a trip to the San Diego Zoo and a Scavenger Hunt at a local park. Those event are open to anyone who wants to come, so if you’re in San Diego and you’d like to join us, check out the event pages on Facebook!

In addition, we’re doing a tie dye day (using clothing I picked up at two recent local clothing swaps), beach day, trip to the local splash pad, and daily trips to the YMCA for child watch (and so I can exercise!).

Besides spring break planning, Lil’ Man and I have been planning out our spring garden. We love growing strawberries, and thankfully one of our plants survived last year.  Using a Lowe’s gift card I earned from our American Express Rewards card, I picked up some planters and soil.

We’re going to plant carrots, radishes and peas from seeds. I’ve gotten some free seeds in the mail (poppies-our state flower) that we’ll be planting too. Lil’ Man loves Cacti, we’re planning on getting some different types of “spiky plants”.

I’m also doing some spring cleaning and sharing some treasures with my local Buy Nothing Group. I love that I’m able to share with my neighbors and keep the stuff that’s still in good repair out of landfills!

So What are you up to this spring?

Our Buy Nothing Week- The Results

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Our first Buy Nothing week was a success. I wrote about my plans here, and they went well. We managed to eat at home all week, pack snacks, and find all kinds of free fun.

I managed to inventory the pantry, clear out and donate some food that we weren’t going to eat, and did a toy purge and gave away some toys that no longer held the kids attention.

We tried it again this week, and well, it didn’t go so well.

Failures:

Wednesday night we went to the Lego Store at Fashion Valley for a free Lego Build (it was a cute platypus), but while we were there, we picked up a few blind bags and Lil’ Man’s Birthday gift. Mr. is part of the Lego Club, where you earn points for every purchase. It is double points month, so we earned enough points for $5.00 off. Since Legos seldom if ever go on sale, we took advantage. Then we had dinner at CPK. I used some money I had earned selling some stuff on Craigslist.

I also had to go buy milk, but I had figured that I would need to, so I set pulled out a few dollars in change from our change jar.

 

But then again, I had a few successes:

We tried some new recipes and improvised using what we had on-hand.

I ran out of tape while packing up a box to mail, so I borrowed some packing tape from my parents.

We played a lot, and did some fun crafts. We also discussed how we could have fun at home and in the neighborhood without spending money.

Yesterday a friend shared her food Co-op bounty with us, so that helps keep me out of the store for a few more days.

Overall, I am pleased with how the week turned out. We were more conscious of spending money and used work arounds and more careful thinking to use what we had, relied on neighbors and family when we needed help.

We’ll be doing it again, but probably not for a month or so. This next week is Lil’ Man’s birthday, and we need to prep for his birthday party. We’re doing a Lego themed party, and I’ll be posting about it next week.

 

Lego Batman Days at LegoLand California!

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Ahoy, Building Adventures AHEAD!!

One of Henry’s favorite things to do on a Buddy/Mommy date is go to LegoLand! And, lucky for him, LegoLand hosted us yesterday to experience the fun of Lego Batman days!

img_1694There was so much to do, that we only went on ONE RIDE!!

We did the Mosaic build, which was super fun (We left before it was finished), and it was fun to sort through legos and build something that was going to be part of a project that was so big!

We got to Meet Lego Batman, but by that point my phone battery had died. Henry didn’t care, he was just so excited to meet Batman and tell him how much he loved his movie.

We did the scavenger hunt and built and raced our own Batmobile creation. That was probably the most fun. Henry won two races! It was so much fun watching the kids (and adults) build cars, sharing Legos, swapping, and helping each other.

And of course, no trip to LegoLand is complete without building and racing boats!

 

llc-batman-logo-small.jpgIf you’ve got little friends that love Lego Batman, you’ve still got one more weekend to check out Lego Batman Days! Next weekend, the 25-26th, there will be tons of fun to be had!

We also picked up a few blind bags at the Big Store on our way out. The newest series (series 20, for anyone counting) is all characters from The Lego Batman movie.

I got March Harriet, Henry got Harley Quinn, and hubs got Ballet Batman. We always bring hubs home a blind bag mini-fig… And a key chain.

Frugal Tip: If you are looking for a way to save on admission, most San Diego area Denny’s locations have kids get in free with the purchase of any adult admission coupons.

Thanks to LegoLand for Hosting Henry and I yesterday, as always we had a blast, building and exploring!

Looking for Frugal Fun for Christmas? Check out Neighborhood Light Displays

One of the family traditions I want to carry over from when I was little is driving around to look at Holiday light displays. And for those of us in San Diego, we’re in luck!

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Bitty Bird, Excited to see the Sesame Street decorated house at Starlight Circle!

Here are our favorites, addresses and info courtesy of San Diego Family Magazine.

Here is a link to the original PDF so you can print it off and take it with you!  It’s got addresses and more info.

We’ve already visited most of these east county locations:

EL CAJON, 92021

  • 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. Our favorite is the Nightmare Before Christmas House!

LAKESIDE, 92040

  • 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!

SANTEE, 92071

  •  Starlight Circle, East and West Glendon Circles. Dec. 17-26, 7-10 pm. This is extremely popular! You can park and walk through. There are neighbors selling cocoa, coffee, popcorn, and cotton candy. If you walk, take money with you! Starlight Circle even has a facebook page!
  • 9773 Roe Dr. 27,000 Christmas lights dance to 10 songs over 128 computer channels. Food Bank and St. Jude donations accepted. Dec. 3-Jan. 2. Sun-Th, 6-10 pm and Fri & Sat, 6-11 pm.www.DBChristmas.com It is very impressive!
  • IMG_0879.jpgIf you love South Park, after you stop by Roe, cruise down Lake Canyon Drive (in the 9400 block, East of Carlton Hills Blvd) and check out the Woodland Critter Christmas Display.

 

We pack the kids into the car after dark with snacks and head out for a drive. It’s a fun way to spend time together, and it’s pretty frugal!

What holiday traditions do you want to share with your kids?