Top Ten Must Haves for Your Summer Swim Bag!

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We braved the very very cold pool at our HOA today, which prompted me to go through our Swim Bag and make a list of new Pool Toys that we “need” (according to the kiddos).

I usually replace the pool toys once every 2-3 years. We swim 5+ days a week in the late spring and summer, that means our pool toys and swim equipment gets a lot of wear. I tend to buy a lot of the items on the list below at Dollar Tree or 99 Cents only. The quality is usually the same as what you find at Target at the Dollar Spot area, or at Wal-Mart in the seasonal area. The main reason we’re doing an overhaul or our pool toys this summer is it has been 3 years since I’ve bought new ones. Some of our current pool toys will be kept as they are in good shape, but some of the older toys (mainly the squirt guns) are starting to fall apart or have developed extra holes.

Here are the Top Ten things you need in your Swim Bag:

First off, you need a good bag! I like the All Purpose Utility bags, like these. They’ve got pockets on the outside. Roll up your towels and stuff them into the pockets, or use for SPF, bottles of water, or snacks- You can’t forget the snacks!

    1. Goggles. We go through a lot of goggles, mostly because my kids are clumsy, or they share them with friends and they disappear. I usually pick some up at 99 Cents Only to keep just in case, but we have several pairs of these Aegend goggles and they are excellent.
    2. Floaty toys- Like Inflatable Rings, or animal shapes. We’ve got a giant shark that lives in the garage in the off-season (November-May).  I like picking up a handful of inflatable rings at Dollar Tree and stashing them in the closet. If I need extras when friends swim with us, we won’t be short. I like these rings. I ordered 8 online for store pick up. Kick boards and arm floaties also fall under this category. I usually keep a few of each in the arsenal, just in case.

3. Fun Toys. Henry enjoys playing frisbee in the pool, so we’ve got a couple. Margaret likes trying to swim after an inflatable ball, so we’ve got a few of those. They both love the diving sharks. They are big, and they glide like a torpedo under water. The weighted diving toys like dive rings and the little ribbons with the weight attached are nice too.

4. Squirting Toys. Squirt Guns are a favorite. Not Super Soakers, but regular, old fashioned small squirt guns. Another favorite are the water squirters that look like long, giant pencils.  I usually get them at 99 Cents Only. Our rule is: No squirting people in the face!

5. SPF- Ok, this should really be #1. A good SPF. Water proof, sweat proof. You want a broad-spectrum SPF that protects against UVA (the rays that age skin) and UVB (The rays that burn skin). I like mineral sunscreen. And remember to reapply as needed!

6. Good Towels. I’m not talking about Egyptian Cotton, plush, fluffy towels that cost a fortune, but good, durable towels. I like to get white ones, since the chlorine from the pool can bleach the colors out. We tend to get the larger towels, or bath sheets. We have these from JCP. They were around $7 each.

7. Extra sunglasses. I don’t know what it is about my kids, but they lose sunglasses ALL THE TIME. I pick up a fistful at the beginning of the summer at 99 Cents Only or Dollar Tree, and dole them out. I keep 2 pairs in the swim bag.

8. First Aid Kit. Seriously. Kids get hurt all the time. It doesn’t need to be a fancy one. You can get small first aid kits with everything you need for less than $8.

9. Reusable water bottles. It’s hot and you are in the sun playing. Hydration is important. We have an Extreme Canteen, and it’s really awesome. I fill it with ice and water, and it stays cold all day with minimal ice melting.

10. A waterproof sealable pouch or bag to keep your keys, phone, and other important stuff in (Like snacks). We usually use a large ziploc bag (or two and double bag).

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Henry age 3, swimming with Mommy.  I’m pretty sure the pool was freezing then too. 

Now a few bonus items that Henry told me to mention (we may have a guest writer on our hands soon) include a swim mask (like this one), a shark fin and tail (like the one he got for X-mas), and diving fins. Those are all items that he uses regularly in our swim time.

Talk Back- I’d love to hear what’s in your Swim/Pool Bag!

I’ve included many links for reference. Please refer to my disclosure policy regarding possible bounties or compensations I might receive.

 

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Our Summer Bucket List (Have you made yours yet?)

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Summer is lurking… Can you feel it? I got a sunburn over the weekend, so I can definitely feel it.

The kids and I have already started our bucket list- stuff we gotta do while we’re running wild this summer.

So far Henry has requested:

  • Checking out the soon to be open re-done Kids slash ground and pool at the Santee YMCA.
  • And the splash area at the Tierrasanta Pool.
  • Hunt for shells at Silver Strand State Beach.
  • Swim everyday (he has said this at least once a day for a week).
  • Free Museums at Balboa Park on Tuesdays
  • Using our Zoo and Living Coast Discovery Center passes.
  • Play with friends at the park and have “Free Picnics” (aka free lunch for kids-As soon the websites are updated, I will post them).
  • Lots of crafts- And I’ve got tons for him to do, including shrinky dinks and faux stained glass projects.
  • Go to the La Brea Tar Pits.
  • Go to Legoland solely to go to the waterpark.
  • Family Movie night with the “puffy bed”- Set up the air mattress in the living room and snuggle and watch movies.
  • Special events at our local library- They always have fun stuff for kids during the summer.
  • Ride the coaster and have lunch.
  • Ride the trolley with friends to Seaport Village. Ride the carousel and have ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s.
  • Go to the “Kids Movies”- Regal Cinemas has discount second run kids movies all summer a few times a week. They are just $1.00!

I’d love to hear about your summer bucket list and plans!

Find (Frugal) Family Fun in Your Community

xmas eve 013.JPGSummer vacation is on the horizon, and that means that there will be choruses of, “I’m bored!”

Having a kid who has ADHD and ASD, I frequently hear that lament after school (like, before we even pull out of the school parking lot in the afternoon) complete with body slump and flailing of arms.  To combat this, I’ve assembled a list of events that can keep kiddos entertained with little to no cost.

Everyone knows about their local, neighborhood parks for free fun outside, but don’t forget your local libraries and community centers for sources of free fun!

Our local library has events after school (starting at 3pm) for kids grades K-3, including:

  • Read with Grandma Marcia ~ Every Tuesday
  • Kids Exploration Day ~ 2nd Wednesday of the month
  • LEGO Club ~ 3rd Wednesday of the month
  • Creative Play ~ Each Saturday from 10:30-11:30 am. Children learn through play! Meet new friends and have fun while developing early learning skills. Geared for ages 5 and under (but they are not strict with it- as long as the kids behave).

With all of these activities, a responsible adult must be present and participate.

Check out your local library’s website.

San Diego County Libraries

San Diego City Libraries

Screen Shot 2018-04-14 at 6.38.53 PM.pngIf you have a Starwood Mall nearby you (Here in San Diego, Parkway Plaza is a Starwood property), check out their kids club called MallStars. From the Parkway Plaza website, “MallStars Kids Club offers exclusive kid friendly events in a safe, community environment, throughout the year. MallStars Kids Club is a FREE kids club open to kids 10 years of age and younger.

The program features exclusive, kid-friendly events for its members throughout the entire year. MallStars members also receive free giveaways; a quarterly newsletter with upcoming events and special offers; as well as priority registration and exclusive invites to mall events.”

Last Month we got to make pizzas, and learn how to roll out dough with friends at Fuertes NY Pizza!

My kiddos love 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.

If you have a YMCA membership, check out their free programs for members. Our local Y has Open Gym three times a week, plus a mommy and me craft time for little kids, and lots of other fun programs that are included in our monthly dues. If you are interested in checking out the YMCA but are lacking funds, I encourage you to visit your local Y and ask about scholarships or financial aid.

I also find lots of local events and free fun stuff by checking the “Events You May Like” section on Facebook Events.

Talkback: I’d love to hear what kinds of free (or cheap) fun stuff your family does!

Free Admission to Sea World for Active Duty Military & Veterans!

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Did you know that active duty military and veterans can receive up to four free passes to Sea World (also selected Busch Gardens and Sesame Place)? It’s true!

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 7.19.30 PM.pngSea World has a program called Waves of HonorWaves of Honor permits any qualified active or former U.S. military service member to one complimentary admission per year for military personnel and as many as three guests.

This isn’t available at the park, so you’ll have to sign up here and fill out all the forms before you go.

Parking isn’t included in this offer and starts at $17, depending on which park you visit and what level of parking you select.

This offer is limited in time. Offer available online through September 30, 2017. Visitation must take place by December 30, 2017. If you qualify and want to take advantage, do it sooner rather than later!

 

Super Busy Summer!

I haven’t had much time to sit at the computer and write lately, but we’ve been busy! There are so many free and frugal things to do in the summer, and we haven’t even done a 1/3 of what we have planned!

Here are just a few of the adventures we’ve been having (and you can try them too)!

 

 

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Henry’s Handiwork!

Rock Painting!  Some of you have seen pictures of the painted rocks we’ve been making, hiding, and finding all over town on my Instagram feed.  Santee Rocks was started by a local teacher to spread kindness.  There are lot of other “rocks” groups all over San Diego, and the US! We even hosting a Rock Painting party at a local park! Over 30 people showed up, painted, and played. We hope to host another one in July.

We’ve also been hitting up our local libraries for all sorts of fun events and activities. Our favorite is the El Cajon Library. They serve lunch M-F, 11:30-12:30.  Afterwards there are a variety of events and activities from special speakers, concerts, and even crafts! And they even serve an afternoon snack!

There is a small play area for kids with an interactive discovery structure, and a Duplo Wall! There is a shaded playground out front as well. It’s a great way to spend a few hours in a climate controlled place without visiting the mall or any place where you might spend money. We usually end up bringing home a few library books too.

We’ve been on adventures with friends! Playing T-ball at the park and going on the hunt for decorated rocks was the biggest hit so far.

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Playing dress up is a frequent stay at home activity. Here we have the Pirate T-Rex, trick or treating for meat.

And of course, We spend time at home, doing crafts, swimming in the community pool, playing Legos, and just hanging out!

I’m of the mind that summer doesn’t need to be packed with activities sun up to sun down. Frequently, we spend our time at home spending time together. We have friends over to play, but it’s super low-key.

I’ve taking a break from trying to pound out an article or post each day. I want to spend time with the kids and family.

What kinds of activities and adventures has you family been having this summer?

 

Healthy, Frozen Fruit Pops!

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It’s summer and my kids would eat popsicles 24/7 if I let them. Most commercial popsicles (or as they are sometimes called, frozen dessert confections) are full of sugar and artificial ick. A few months ago my dad bought me a package of Zipzicles on Amazon. Zipzicles are long, skinny zip top freezer bags that can be filled with whatever you’d like and frozen. Think DIY Otter Pops.

What I really like is that you can be creative, use what you have on hand, and create healthy and fun treats with your kids.

Here are two recipes that the kids and I came up with. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this pictures recently.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 7.46.47 AMMixed Berry Pops

Makes about 12 pops

  • 2 cups mixed berries (use whatever you have, I used 1.5 cups of strawberries and 1/2 cup blackberries)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 t. honey

Place all ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth. Use a small funnel to fill the zipzicle pouches. Place all Zipzicle pouches into a cup or larger zip top bag and place in freezer. Ready to serve in approx 4-6 hours, or as soon as frozen solid.

Screen Shot 2017-06-23 at 7.46.35 AMTropical Pops

Makes about 20

2c frozen bananas
2c frozen Strawberries
1 pkg frozen mangoes
2c Orange Juice
Blend together, pour into Zipzicle pouches ( I use a funnel). Store in freezer until it’s time to consume.

They are so good, and no extra sugar is needed, because the bananas are so sweet.

Next, I think we’ll be making Bachelor Mousse treats. I think it will freeze well, and everyone loves fudgsicles!

For your convenance, Zipzicles can be purchased here (affiliate link), but you can also find them at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

What would you put into your Zipzicles?

Summer Lunch Resources for Kids in San Diego!

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School is out (for most of us, the rest will be getting out next week), 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 school, rec centers, and civic organizations to provide free breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for al kids 18 and under this summer.  For those of us in East County, here is a list of locations!

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Those of us in the greater San Diego Area, there are a lot of great options all over town!

There is a kick off BBQ at Skyline Hills Park 6/21/17 10:30am-2:00pm! Parents eat free at this BBQ and there are all kinds of activities!

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 12.53.16 PMLindo Lake in Lakeside is hosting a summer BBQ that’s free for kids, and only $4.00 for parents on August 15th! The best part is that each family leaves with 6 lbs. of fresh produce thanks to Feeding America! If the two lists above aren’t in your area, you can also turn to the USDA Find Summer Meals map here.

 

All of these programs are free and there is no proof of need and you do not have to sign up in advance. Just show up and hte kids get a tasty meal!

 

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!