October is Kids Free Month in San Diego!

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 8.56.48 PMI know I’m early, but it’s worth bookmarking… Kids Free October is back for the 8th year!

For those of us with curious kids, this is perfect! Kids can get into over 40 museums in the San Diego area free with paying adults (all the info can be found here).

Some of the participating organizations include:

Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Fleet Science Center (Galleries only)
Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum
Heritage of the Americas Museum
Japanese Friendship Garden
Living Coast Discovery Center
Maritime Museum of San Diego
Marston House Museum & Gardens
Mingei International Museum
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Museum of Making Music
Museum of Photographic Arts
San Diego Air & Space Museum
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
San Diego History Center
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)
Tijuana Estuary Visitor Center
Timken Museum of Art (it’s always free for everyone FYI)
Women’s Museum of California

A full list can be found here. Oh, and as part of free October, Kids can get into the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park free when accompanied by a paying adult!  Other Kids go free attractions include: Legoland, Sea World, and the USS Midway!!

More info can be found here, and other fun, free stuff for kids can be found here and here.

And I’m hoping to have more info on some free events for Halloween over the next few weeks.

Advertisements

6 Tips for Combating the Mid-Year Frugal Slide

8517c9bb93cc1354d4320f323cf0afa6.jpg

It’s July, and for most of us, Our New Years Resolutions are a thing of the past. Mr. and I were talking today about ways we could reign in our budget. We’re not making it rain by any means, but… we could make a few changes. Here are my top ten tips, and trust me, I’ve already started incorporating some of these. I’ll have all of them back in the works by weeks’ end.

  1. Back to meal planning and sticking to it. No more trips to Denny’s when I am feeling lazy in the morning, or Mondays after group therapy.  That means I’ll be back to meal planning posts and new recipes too. And I’ll have several “back up dinners” on-hand in case the day gets away from me, or it’s too hot to cook the original meal. I took advantage of the sale on chicken breasts at Smart & Final the other day, and picked up 10 lbs. I came home and cut up the whole half breasts into more manageable sizes, and marinated some of it with different spices and put it in ziploc bags in the freezer. 10 lbs of chicken should get us 5 dinners, plus leftovers from each meal.
  2. Back to maintaining a robust snack bag in the car, refilling it daily, and remembering our water bottles when we leave the house. I fill our water bottles (we have these for the kids and these for the adults- in 40 oz) with water and ice before we leave in the AM and refill them as needed throughout the day in various places.
  3. In conjunction with #2, start taking surveys on receipts for deep discounts and free stuff again. I am Sonic’s text list, so when they have a daily deal that I have change in my car for, the kids and I stop for .50 ice cream cones, 1/2 price drinks (cherry limeade!). Frequently when you check out, there is a survey on the bottom of the receipt that will score you an XL (Route 44) size beverage for free! I really need to get back into stretching the buck.
  4. Check all my apps before I go shopping. I’ve been bad about this over the past few months. I’m sure I’ve missed out on Ibotta deals, Checkout 51 offers, and Cash Dash promos. No More! I’m back, baby!!
  5. Allowance. Yup, just like a teenager, I’m putting myself on an allowance, and Mr. is going to as well. I’m sticking to $40 in the summer, and $25 once we are back to school. This will just be for “fun money”. I still shop around for gas to stay within budget for gas each week. Costco is usually the cheapest.
  6. Keeping eyes open for cheap entertainment. Big Dude is in ESY (summer school) for the next few weeks, so a lot of the traditional summer things that are fun and cheap we haven’t been able to do (like Regal Summer Movies). We’ve mostly been doing fun stuff at the library, which is free, but I think we need to look beyond that. It’s starting to get too hot for park play dates!

I’d love to hear from you about how you combat the frugal slide. What do you do when you feel yourself slipping off your track?

Kids, Schedules, and Summertime!

file000981824153.jpgWe keep to a schedule at our house, even in the summer. I know summer is a time for lazy days, playing it by ear, and fun adventures, but when you have a kiddo on the autism spectrum you need a little structure in your life at all times.

Here is a copy of part of our daily summer schedule, I’ve cut off the afternoons as it contains our therapy schedule, as well as lessons/classes. Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.00.47 PM.png

Ok, so first of all, I know you are thinking, “Who the hell gets up at 7:30 during the summer?!?!”, well, us. My kids are usually up by 7:30am in the summer, and that’s sleeping in (ugh, 6:30am, you come too early during the school year).

I’ve included the analog clock  because the big guy is learning to tell time and it helps him visualize on the clocks in the house.

Despite the structure, there is room for creativity and flux. We have freedom in choosing breakfast, what to wear, and there is a 2-hour window of play time, where the kids can do whatever they want: free play, crafts, read a story, watch cartoons.

When my buddy was younger, we frequently went without a schedule, and honestly, I was nuts. Just wandering all day without a plan, I frequently had a headache at the end of the day, and would be dreading the next.  Now we have a loose overview of what to expect each day, and we fill in our time with free or low cost events. Check out your local library branch- they frequently have fun classes or events.

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 9.45.05 PM.png
The menu for El Cajon, CA free lunch locations. Pizza and salad twice a week!

And for some reason, kids are bottomless pits in the summer, we try to check out some of the free lunches for kids a few times a week. It helps keep our grocery budget in check, but most importantly, it exposes the kids to trying new foods, and new experiences.  I try and find out the menus ahead of time and expose the kids to 1-2 new foods per week in an environment where there are peers who already like to eat the “new food”.  When kids see peers eating something that’s new to them, often times they try it, even if they may give mom or dad some resistance. I’m not saying that peer pressure is always a bad thing.

In addition to free lunches, I try to keep our family snack bag well stocked. I tend to visit Grocery Outlet and 99 Cents Only for most of our snack needs. $25/week is my budget for lunches and snacks for the summer.

I try not to set our schedules in stone- We get invites to hang out with friends, go to events, or maybe some relatives will come out for a surprise visit (who knows). We want the kids to have fun over the summer, and I do my best to make sure they get a balance of fun times, learning, and relaxation.

I’d love to hear about what you do in the summer: Do you wing it, or have a schedule?

 

More Free Summer Meals for Kids!

freelunches.jpg

This is an update to this post, which has sites all over San Diego County listed.

I just received this in my inbox this morning!  Here is a great list of East County resources for free lunches for kids- And many sites also serve breakfast too!  We’ll be checking them out in the coming days, and I’ll post pictures (probably on Instagram), so make sure to follow me! Dates vary by location.

I am really excited about Hilton Head Park being on the list- That is a great park with a splash pad (only $3 to use for the whole day), shaded picnic tables, and a fun, sandy playground!

If you aren’t in the San Diego, CA area and are looking for more information on free lunches for kids, check the USDA website here. THe USDA plans to serve over 200 million meals to kids 18 and under this summer!

Comic Con is Coming to San Diego… Are you Ready?

file3411293943936.jpgOk, so if you are new to town, or have been living under a rock for some time, you may not be aware that Comic-Con is coming to town next month! July 19-22 the downtown area turns into a completely different place!

You’ll see your favorite heroes and villains for comics, movies, tv, and cartoons! If you haven’t gotten a pass to comic con, you are probably out of luck, unless you are able to win one (all of the radio stations have contests a few weeks before). Passes sell out fast, but just because you haven’t gotten one, doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on all the fun…

Outside Comic Con has a great listing (and it keeps getting updated!) of all of the fun events around the con. Some are free, and some are not. Some are kid friendly, and well, others are not.

There is usually an area between the New Children’s Museum and the Trolley Tracks that is chock full of fun events and demos, and behind the convention center there has been movie and cartoon screenings on the grassy area.

If you want to wear a costume, here are my tips for doing it on the cheap.  I’m not planning on dressing up for con this year- I’m butt deep in designing and making costumes for Romeo & Juliet!

Regardless of your costume status, my recommendation is to wear comfy shoes, ’cause you will be walking a lot! And bring a refillable water bottle. And a snack (protein bars are great!). And a camera (or really, just your phone these days!).

 

Free Meals this Summer for Kids!

file0001360139839.jpgI’m still pulling together resources and lists, so I’ll be posting more resources as they become available.

School will be out within a month for most kids in San Diego, and that means there are some parents (and kids) who usually rely on free or subsidized school lunches may find themselves wondering what to do.

Thankfully, a lot of great organizations have stepped up and partnered with local area schools, libraries, rec centers, and civic organizations to provide free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for al kids 18 and under this summer.

You can search here for a list of California Department of Education sites that offer free meals (some sites offer breakfast, lunch, and/or snacks).

Some Library sites offer lunch too! Here is a complete list of areas that offer free lunches or snacks.

Some County of San Diego Library Locations offer lunch or snacks. Here is a filtered list for the month of June. Most libraries have a print calendar each month available that can be picked up with more info. The El Cajon Library on East Douglas has a really great lunch program in the summer with a fun activity/craft afterwards.

San Diego Unified School District has partnered with some awesome sponsors to host the Sumer Fun Cafe 2018 all over San Diego County! Lunch will be served at over 30 locations all summer for kids 18 and under! The kick off Summer BBQ (with free lunch for adults too) at Skyline Hills Park 6/20/17 10:30am-2:00pm! There are all kinds of activities too!

What I love about this program is that there are tons of rec centers hosting these lunches and they are usually adjacent to a playground, which means after a long morning of playing, the kids don’t have long to wait to get a yummy lunch!

Looking for a few ideas of summer fun with a nearby lunch?

If you know of more summer lunch programs for kids in San Diego County, I’d love to hear about them! Please leave a comment!

LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel opens tomorrow (and a deal)!

The kids and I are so excited! In just a few hours, we’ll be headed up to Legoland California for the opening of the Castle Hotel. We’re getting a sneak peak today, and the hotel opens officially tomorrow!

The kids are excited because the Hotel featuring more than 2,000 LEGO models made out of three million LEGO® bricks, a Knock-knock Joke Door (Henry is big into knock knock jokes), LEGO play pit, interactive play structures and themed entertainment each night. Oh, and the pool.

LLstatueInstall_0152.JPGThe pool has two interactive features: a water fountain and two tipping baskets which will splash guests in the pool from above.

The Royal Courtyard also features a picnic/cinema area with a large movie screen and seating, a stage for daily performances, a DUPLO® play area for toddlers and a Knight Training interactive playground for those children ready to balance, climb and play.

So, be expecting a lot of photos and posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I can’t wait to show you all of the awesome stuff going on up at Legoland and the new Legoland Castle hotel.

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 8.33.29 AM.pngAnd if you are looking for a deal on Legoland Tickets, Don’t forget to check your local Denny’s location for a Kid’s Go Free Coupons! I found these at our local Denny’s!

I spied a fresh new pad of these coupons out at our local Santee Denny’s last week!

Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 8.33.29 AM.png