Prepare for Wild Fires & Natural Disasters: What to Pack in Your Bug Out Bag

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As most of you are aware, there are a few current wild fires going on in Southern California. And that means that some of our friends, family, and neighbors are having to evacuate their homes.

During times like this is hard to distill your entire life into whatever you can load into your vehicle or carry on your back.  I lived through the 2003 and the 2007 wild fires in San Diego. In 2003, we had no power for 3 days, but we didn’t have to evacuate. We had everything packed up and ready to go just in case, as the fire was just up over the hill.

At that time, we received a lot of great advice in regards to what we should be taking with us. That includes:

1.Meds for everyone- If you have a chronic health condition, pack your meds into your purse/bag FIRST (but make sure they are easily accessible). If you have meds that need to be kept cold, have blue ice packs stashed in your freezer.  Having a good First Aid kit you can grab is important too. We have this one at our house- It’s been very helpful.

2. The next few items can be kept all together in a box some place safe. If not originals, then copies of each.

  • Health Insurance Cards for everyone in the house (this includes pets).
  • Car insurance ID cards, Registration for all cars (especially if you have to leave one or more behind).
  • Information on your homeowners/condo unit owners/renters insurance. If you don’t have a copy of the policy, have your agent/Insurance carrier email you a copy and print it out. Write down and take contact information for your land lord or mortgage company (including your loan number).
  • Birth certificates, Marriage licenses, Passports (We keep all of our important papers in a family binder, along with copies of one of each of our bills, so I can have account numbers and contact numbers for each utility/creditor).
  • Food for pets, any special snacks or food that everyone in your home needs in case of dietary concerns.

3. If you are in a hurry, instead of trying to pack bags of clothes, grab your laundry hamper. Sure the clothes are dirty, but more than likely, everything you need for a few days will be in there.

4. Family heirlooms: Wrap paintings/art in blankets and layer them flat in a vehicle. Most people keep their photos on a terabyte drive or the cloud instead of family photo albums these days. Grab your albums and/or your external hard drives.

5. A Dop Kit/Toiletry Kit, diapers and wipes if you’ve got kiddos.

That’s pretty much the important stuff. Other stuff if you have time…

  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Something to keep your hands/mind busy (books, magazines, knitting, small crafts, coloring
  • Extra chargers/cables for any and all devices you are taking with you. Portable emergency charger (like this one).

Most local fire agencies have a twitter feed you can follow too to keep up to date.

 

**This post contains links to products on Amazon. These are affiliate links, and I might earn a commission if you purchase them.

 

 

Release Your Inner Mermaid with Sun Tail Mermaid!

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Ok, so doesn’t every little girl dream of being a mermaid?  Make your little girls dream come true! Sun Tail Mermaid has created the world’s best swimmable mermaid tails and mermaid flippers. Their mermaid tails are soft, comfortable, and come in a wide variety of designs and colors. They are made of high quality swimsuit fabric with 4-way stretch.

Sun Tail Mermaid’s monofins are extremely comfortable and virtually unbreakable. Their patented monofin is several steps ahead of everyone else in engineering, durability, comfort, and functionality. The propulsion and control is exceptional. The monofins come in a wide range of beautiful colors, so you can match your mermaid tails or look amazing wearing it alone.

Check out this cool video of the mermaid tails in action!

I’ll be receiving one to review in a few weeks. I am super excited! When I was a kid The Little Mermaid was on constant repeat!

Right now my readers receive a 10% discount on your order at www.SunTailMermaid.com by using coupon code: BestGiftEver

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Legoland on a budget: It can be done!

DSC06398.JPGWe love Legoland, but it can get to be pricey. Here are a few tips that we personally use that can keep our trips more affordable!

Tickets:

  • Look for coupons savings. A quick search of Google is a good place to start. Frequently fast food or quick service restaurants will have Buy and adult pass, get a kids ticket free. Recently Denny’s had coupons up front near the register.
  • Sometimes schools and libraries also have these coupons. Our school had some in the front office last year, all you had to do was ask!
  • A few times a year, Legoland will have buy one day, get a second day free for the same price as a 1 day pass. That’s the perfect chance to enjoy two days to play and explore!
  • Don’t forget to check Costco or Sam’s Club! They frequently have discount 1 day, multi-day, or annual passes.

Snacks:

  • Take water bottles or travel cups with straws. Most restaurants with fountain drinks will fill your bottles or cups with filtered water for free. There are also tons of drinking fountains in the park.
  • There are lots of picnic areas, and places to sit and eat. We always bring our snack backpack (it’s this one) stuffed with applesauce cups, granola bars, dried fruit, popchips, 100% juice pouches, and other yummy snacks.
  • 180s.jpgSplurge on one snack or treat. Our favorite treat in the park are Granny’s Apple Fries! They are soooo good. It’s a batter dipped apple slice that’s flash fried and served with vanilla whipped cream. They are heavenly.
  • There are so many places to eat in the park too! Check eat location for specials like Kids Eat Free (last time we were there, the pizza and pasta buffet was having a promo after 3pm).

 

Souvenirs:

  • Our tradition is to buy a new min-figure keychain on every trip. I let Lil’ Man chose. He also gets to spend $20 on whatever he wants in the main gift shop. He earns money helping around the house and also when we do secret shops (he loves it, he thinks he’s being a secret agent).
  • Unlike Disney and other companies with theme parks, you can’t really get deals on Legos or buy them at discount shops and give the kids the goodies once in the park (that’s what we do with Disneyland). You can however bring in your own glow sticks and glow necklaces if you’ll be there after dark to save some money.

Etc:

  • There are tons of play areas in the park. If you are tired from waiting in line for rides, stop by a play and build area. There is a great Duplo themed one in Heartlake, and large play area in Castle Hill, complete with slides and tunnels! Take time to play and let your kids build and use their imagination!
  • Bring towels if you’ll be in the park when it’s hot. There are multiple water fixtures and splash pads for the kids to cool down. No need to pay to get into the water park (which is only open seasonally).
  • Bring a mini-figure or two to trade! Most Park employees have min-figs on their name tags and they will trade.

I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for saving at Legoland!

Great gifts for kids that won’t break the bank (or your sanity)

DSCN9862It’s that time of year, when friends and relatives start asking you and your kids the dreaded question.. The Holiday gift question.

First of all, if you don’t have kids, please do your friends WITH kids a favor: Skip the toys that make noise/require batteries. Many a night I was woken by a phantom toy mysteriously going off. This Stupid Fisher Price Dog was the main culprit.

This year, we’re skipping all the “hot” toys. Why? Well, we don’t have cable, so Lil’ Man doesn’t really know about what toys everyone else has or wants. We mostly watch PBS and Netflix. I’m trying to get away from “stuff”. We have so many toys and stuffed animals. We don’t need a lot more stuff. I’m asking for more “experience” type gifts. Here are a few things that are always welcome in any household:

  • Groupon/living social/Amazon Local discounted vouchers or gift cards to places that  kids love to go, but can be a little pricey. For us, that’s Urban Jungle, Kid Ventures, Boomers, bowling. Zoo tickets, movie tickets, and museum passes are great options as well!
  • If you have a vacation planned, ask for gift cards. We have a friend who takes their family to Disney World each year, and she asks her family to buy the kids Disney gift cards to help offset the cost of their vacation (bonus- Disney GC can be used almost anywhere in the park- food, gift shop, even admission!).
  • Accessories for toys or games the kids already have. We always need more train tracks for our Thomas the Tank Engine trains. Most kids could always use more pretend food (we like these and these from Melissa and Doug).
  • Gift baskets that include experiences: I know I keep going back to experiences, but kids and families love to do stuff together. Movie baskets that contain popcorn, candy, redbox codes or GC for redbox is always a big hit here. We’ve given pizza night baskets that contain the fixins for a pizza (boboli crust, toppings, sauce) and a board game. Use your imagination!
  • IOU’s/GC for dates or time with the kids: Lil’ Man and I have a special date every week. We go out to eat and do an activity together. Maybe you have a little in your life that you’d like to spend more time with? Give them the gift a a date! Ice cream feeding the ducks, exploring nature- all of these things are inexpensive for you and mean a lot to a kid.
  • Craft supplies. The most popular gifts we’ve both give and received have been treasure boxes (usually a decorative cardboard box from Michael’s) full of craft supplies. Dollar Tree has a great selection of craft kits, glitter glue, stickers, feathers, pom poms, construction paper, water color paint, acrylic paints. Add in some wooden cut outs from Michaels (.50 or less EACH), and a few paint brushes and the kids will have fun for hours. The best part: for less than $20, they’ve got a cool box and tons of stuff to keep them busy and unplugged!
  • Monthly Subscription Boxes: Kids love to get mail. Monthly subscription boxes like Kiwi Crate, Little Passports, Green Kid Crafts are a great option for kids to get a little something fun in the mail each month- and monthly subscription boxes aren’t that expensive! Adults love them too! BirchBox (makeup), UrthBox (snacks), and Dollar Shave Club (razors and shaving accessories for men and women) are all popular options!