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!

Summer Reading Programs for Kids!

With the Covid-19 shutdowns, most libraries are not doing a summer reading program.

If your local library isn’t doing a program, here are a few programs that are online. You can of course do as many programs as you (or your kids) would like.

bookitNow Enrolling: Camp BOOK IT!
Parents, join us for our first ever Camp BOOK IT! and keep rewarding your kids all summer long. Track and reward your kids’ reading for June, July, and August in our digital dashboard. When they meet their monthly reading goal, they’ll receive a free one-topping Personal Pan Pizza® from Pizza Hut! We’ll also share fun activities and book recommendations each week to keep the fun going throughout the summer! For more info on the 2020-2021 school year Bookit program, check out this post.

The City of San Diego library system is doing its summer reading program with some modifications. You can learn more and sign up here.

scholasticScholastic has a summer reading challenge in which kids go online to record the minutes they’ve read during the summer. This year, kids can build an avatar, make new friends, earn virtual rewards, and help unlock donations for kids with limited or no access to books. All you need to do is sign up and keep a “reading streak” in Scholastic Home Base over the summer!

RIF

Soar with reading while summer is out with Reading Is Fundamental, the nation’s largest children’s literacy non-profit. From RIF reading lists and a collection of free ebooks to interactive materials on Literacy Central and a brand new Literacy Central app, Reading Is Fundamental has tools for every level to raise reading to new heights this summer and beyond.

Thanks to We Are Teachers for the heads up on some of these summer programs.  The original article has some additional resources that are regional (and not applicable to San Diego/Southern CA).

Tips to Reign In and Out Of Control Family Budget: Saving on Entertainment!

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This is one of the most divisive topics I write about. I am completely serious. Television. Specifically- cutting or lowing your cable or dish package to save money.

This is a big bone of contention for a lot of people who ask me how we live on one income. For some people, they “need their shows“ or they “have to” watch the game every week.

Cable and satellite television is expensive, and now with all of the streaming services in addition to cable, it is conceivable that a family may spend upwards of $300 a month on television. That’s JUST TELEVISION! That doesn’t include movie tickets!

Sit down and gather up the cost of each streaming service and/or cable subscription/dish subscription. Where is there overlapping entertainment?

  • Hulu Plus has a live option, which gives you access to sports, and television shows on the same day they air on cable television.
  • If you have cable that includes the Disney Channel, CBS, HBO, or Showtime, is there really a reason for you to pay for the subscription/on-demand versions of those networks?

If you feel like you are ok with changing your television viewing habits, ditching cable in favor for a few streaming options and over the air television which can be viewed with our digital antenna (which is easy to use/install) and is available for purchase for about $50-$100.

Depending on how strong the signals in your area are, you should be able to receive:

  • ABC
  • CBS
  • NBC
  • CW
  • Fox
  • PBS (We get three PBS channels)

There are additional networks that are available in various areas of the county.  Here in So Cal, we also get:

Plus we get a few more Spanish language channels, and one Korean language channel.

Now that you’ve trimmed/cut the cord, what other entertainment do you see/attend/do? We don’t go to the movies too often, but we have a weekly date night budget of $50. I try to get it out of the bank in cash and if we are going out together, we spend it together, but if we are going out with other friends, or staying home with the kids, I give him half.  If we don’t use it one week, we roll it over to the next week!

images.jpgOne of my other main sources of Entertainment is the gym. I try and go at least 4 times per week for at least an hour.  Other places that you can trim and your family budget can include your gym membership. If you don’t require a gym that has the bells and whistles and lots of classes, you might consider changing your full-service gym to a more budget-friendly or discount gym like Crunch or Planet Fitness. Both of them have extremely reasonable rates, but they don’t offer classes or childcare usually.

If you’re looking at something that is slightly more family-friendly, I cannot recommend the YMCA enough! For our family, we pay $69 a month, and that is inclusive of childcare on-site for both children up to four hours a day (two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon as long as there is a lapse of four hours of time in between the two sessions), we can visit any YMCA location in San Diego County, and also have travel benefits if we go out of town. There are free classes for everyone in the family, on various types of exercise from family yoga to family kickboxing to open gym for the kids two-three times a week.

They have great swimming facilities for spring and summer, and the family swim is available year-round in the large pool at our local YMCA. I also like that they have trained people in the childcare/kids club area that know how to work with kids who have special needs, so I never feel like my big kid will be ignored or be feeling out of place. If you are a local and want to check out the YMCA, let me know and I’ll get you a guest pass!

In the past we had some really bad experiences with 24-Hour Fitness. We were also paying a lot of money to go to 24-Hour Fitness (upwards of $120/month Between our membership dues and the cost of the on-site childcare) and I felt like our fitness goals could not be supported because of the lack of support and education with their child care employees.

I also like that the YMCA offers discounted rates/scholarships for military families (active duty and retired), those with low-incomes, or receiving certain government benefits.

As far as kids’ entertainment, our local community library has us covered over school breaks. Between summer reading programs, spring break events, Star Wars Days, Back To School supply giveaways, and Christmas cookie decorating/Polar Express PJ parties. You would be surprised at all of the cool stuff going on at your local library!

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about how you save money on entertainment!

Free Reading Event for All Kids at Central Library (San Diego, CA)

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On June 22 from 10am-1pm, the Special Needs Resource Foundation of San Diego and San Diego Family will be holding an All-Inclusive Read 3×3 Literacy Event: 3 Authors, 3 Hours, 3 Times the Fun at the San Diego Central Library.

San Diego Family Magazine is partnering with the San Diego Central Library @ Joan & Irwin Jacobs Common, Binford I CAN, Too! Center to promote literacy in kids from 0-10, put a free book in the hands of every child, teach empathy and compassion through stories and promote summer reading.

Every child that attends will receive a free book (while supplies last) donated by San Diego Family Magazine. We will have 3 authors (Salina Yoon, Sally J. Pla and Andrea Zimmerman) each read two of their books, followed by a craft for the kids.

The San Diego Central Library houses the Binford I CAN, Too! Center serving children with accessibility needs and their caregivers. The Binford I CAN, Too! Center offers access to technology, allowing patrons access to the following:

  • ZoomText: computer screen magnifier
  • JAWS: computer screen reader for the visually impaired, Read & Write Literacy: speech-to-text software, SARA Reader: converts text from printed to spoken
  • Optelec ClearView: 22” magnifier, High-definition keyboards, Adjustable height tables and Assistive Mouse/Ball Tracking.

In addition to the technology and equipment, the Center also provides periodic programming for and about children with special needs. These programs provide children with the opportunities to socialize, learn and have fun. Additional resources include large print and braille books, Sensory Integration Kits for children on the autism spectrum, and parent resource materials.

I’m excited to take the kids to this event and check out the Binford I CAN, Too! Center this summer.

Summer Fun on a Budget!

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It’s here again… Summer Vacation. Soon we shall hear the sounds of sighs, the boredom, and the wailing about how there is nothing to do or eat.

Ya’ll can feel me, right? Ok, so here are some ways to beat the boredom without breaking the bank.

Kids Bowl Free All Summer! Just pay for bowling shoe rental!

Free Summer Lunches for kids– Lots of locations have events or activities nearby, so you can have fun and have a free lunch!

The splash ground at Santee Lakes is GREAT! It’s only $2.00 per kid to play and if you park outside the Santee Lakes, you don’t have to pay to park! Take a picnic and it’s a great frugal outing! We go at least once a week in the summer and it’s always
a GREAT time!

The Santee Lakes hosts free summer movies throughout the summer.  If you park your car outside the gates (there is lots of street parking!), there is no cost of the movies.  If you drive your car into the park, it’s $8.00 per car, regardless of how many ppl are in your car.   Bring a picnic and some blankets and kick back for a fun family movie!

There are a bunch of municipal pools in San Diego that have open swim times, and a couple that have splash pads!

Most San Diego, CA area YMCA locations have fun events for kids a few Saturday nights per month. Our local Y does Kids Night at the Y twice a month. It’s only $20 per kid (Just a little more if you aren’t a member), and your kids go have fun for 4 hours. It’s cheaper than a sitter and a lot more fun!

Speaking of the YMCA- Most locations have pools, splash pads, or other aquatic fun, entrance is included with YMCA membership. If you aren’t a member, entrance fees are just a few dollars (it varies by location).

Balboa Park still offers Free Tuesdays at various museums in the park.

San Diego County Libraries have story time and various kid events each week.  I love taking the kids to the Santee library story time!

El Cajon, La Mesa, and Escondido all have classic car shows/rallies each week that are free.  Most have free live music too!  Check out some sweet rides, cool tunes, and have a fun frugal night with the fam!

San Diego County has great parks, as do most of the cities in San Diego County! Our favorite parks include Big Rock Park in Santee, Kennedy Park in El Cajon, La Mesita/Junior Seau Park in La Mesa, Harry Griffin Park in La Mesa (great for little kids).

If you’ve got a Starwood Managed Mall Near you (We do- It’s Parkway Plaza), check out their fun kid’s events each month called: MallStars.  There are different crafts, games, and sometimes even snacks for the kids (10 and under) to do! Times and locations within the mall vary, so check with mall management.

Talk Back: What kind of stuff do you do to keep your family entertained for free?

2019 Free Meals this Summer for Kids!

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Like last year, I’m still pulling together resources at the time that this is published, and I’ll be adding additional sites as soon as I can.

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.

For any of these opportunities, there is NO PROOF OF INCOME OR PROOF OF NEED REQUIRED. You take your kiddos, show up at a location near you during the lunch period (each location sets its own hours), and the kids get a yummy, healthy lunch for free. Menus vary, but all lunches meet USDA guidelines for a healthy lunch (think of the food pyramid).

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).

Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 1.52.03 PM.pngFor those of us in Eastern San Diego County, Cajon Valley School District sponsors free lunches!

Menus will probably be available in the next few weeks. Last Summer every Friday was pizza day! And there are usually vegetarian options daily for those of you who have meat-free kiddos (previous options included bean, rice, and cheese burritos, hard boiled eggs, string cheese, cheese sandwiches, nut butter sandwiches, or Uncrustables)!

Last summer The El Cajon Library had lunch and activities (crafts, story time, etc) each day (Monday -Friday).

Screen Shot 2019-06-01 at 2.03.13 PM.pngSan Diego Unified School District has partnered with some awesome sponsors to host the Summer Fun Cafe 2019 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 Penn Athletic Field on 6/20/19 10:30am-2:00pm! There are all kinds of activities, community resources, and even free produce for families to take home!

Most locations will be serving lunch on June 17-August 16, 2019.

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?

  • There is a lunch location down at the Waterfront Park- which is also free (You have to pay to park at the meters)! It has a great playground and a splash area.
  • The Tierrasanta Rec Center has a cool kids splash ground that’s open early in the day. It’s not free, but it’s pretty cheap ($2/ kid, $4/adult).

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!

If you aren’t in the immediate San Diego area, text FOOD  (Or COMIDA for a list in Spanish) to 877-877, or call 211 and you can find a list of free summer lunch locations near you.

 

San Diego Families: In Need of School Supplies?

apple and books.jpgBack to school approaches! For us, school starts on August 23rd. For some families, back to school is a hard time because the cost of backpacks, school supplies, new clothes and shoes can really add up.

For those in need, the SMOAC (That’s Santee Mobilehome Owner’s Action Committee) is helping out families in need. On August 19th at the Santee Library, starting at 10am, SMOAC will be handing out backpacks with supplies to families in need.

SMOAC is looking for donations too- if you aren’t in need and want to help, there are lots of ways to help out!

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 8.32.01 AM.pngOn August 11th from 5-9pm Chipotle in Santee is hosting a fundraiser.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 8.21.30 AM.pngDonations of items such as: backpacks, #2 pencils, paper, pens, glue sticks, rulers, pencil sharpeners, white glue, notebooks, scientific calculators, crayons, safety scissors are requested. Most of these items can be picked up at Target, Walmart, Office Depot, or 99 Cents Only fairly cheap.

Donations can be dropped off at Santee Library, Cameron YMCA, Mission Realty Group in Santee, Santee Lakes General Store, El Cajon Toyota, Oggi’s Pizza in Santee, and the Santee Chamber of Commerce. If you are busy and can’t make it to the store and drop off locations, You can buy a gift card for a teacher or send a check to SMOAC.  The mailing address can be found in the photo above.

The goal this year to to help 1500 East County families in need!

No Proof of need is required, just show up at the Santee Library on August 19th. The event starts at 10am, but you may want to get there a little early to beat the rush.

6 Tips for Combating the Mid-Year Frugal Slide

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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.

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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!

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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!