Enter to Win Hulafrog’s Family Vacation Giveaway

We could all use a vacation, right? Hulafrog contacted me with this contest, and I had to share. I’d love to take the kids to see some of our National Parks, and I think this trip is so amazing.

THE ULTIMATE NATIONAL PARKS FAMILY VACATION: A once-in-a-lifetime family vacation to Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks guided by Austin Adventures, the family-owned Montana-based company that has been curating one-of-a-kind experiences for families for over 35 years.

TRIP DURATION: 6 Days, 5 Nights

VALUE: Up to $15,000

To learn more about this trip or to enter the giveaway, check out the Hulafrog website here.

Summer Stuff I love (Grown Up Edition)

Friends- I’ve been working on this post for a few days. I’m not feeling especially summery today (and wasn’t yesterday afternoon either), but I’m hoping to distract you over the weekend, so on Monday we can come together and help our friends and family who will need us in the coming months. I’m spending the afternoon crunching on Sonic ice cubes!

It’s summer, and that means for most parents keeping the kids entertained (or letting them get bored), constantly filling the snack box/drawer, and looking for ways to make sure everyone makes it through the 12 weeks of Summer “vacation” without injury. I use vacation in quotes because it’s not a fun, leisure-filled 12 weeks. Most of us have to work, in addition to balancing all of… this.

BUT- That doesn’t mean that parents can’t have fun or enjoy their time in the summer sun. Here are a few things that I have recently come to love:

Sonic Ice Cubes. They are the little pebble ice cubes. If you don’t have a Sonic near you, or if you are looking for a way to make the perfect Sonic type ice at home, look for a Nugget or Pebble ice maker or ice tray. Walmart has a table top nugget ice maker here.

Electrolyte drinks. Not Gatorade, something better. I know a lot of people like Liquid IV, but this frugal lady likes Hydramate from Dollar Tree and Key Nutrients Lemonade flavor from Amazon. These newer electroylte drinks also have vitamins and other key nutrients that we can sometimes miss out on.

I made a list on Amazon of some of my other favorite things this summer:

  • Good SPF- Gotta take care of your skin. You only get one body!
  • Speaking of SPF, a Long sleeve 1/2 zip swim shirt. They are amazing.
  • Reusable cups with lids – I like the color changing cups.
  • Yoga strap for stretching- especially good after a long day behind the week (or a long day sitting on the floor building legos).
  • After Sun lotion- even if you wear a good SPF, the sun and the sea/pool water can dehydrate your skin.
  • Compression socks- seriously. We walk a lot in the summer, and wearing compression socks has really helped my feet and legs from getting so heavy and tired.
  • These sweet kicks from New Balance. They are my go to shoe for a day full of walking.
  • Beach Towels– JCPenney has a great selection and they are on sale!
  • Cuticle oil. The summer sun is rough on your hands, especially your cuticles. Give them some love.
  • Bermuda Shorts. I’m pale, I’m plus size, and I am not a fan of short shorts. Bermuda shorts cover all of my pale parts. And they make me happy because htey have decent sized pockets.
  • Character popsicles. There are a couiple places in San Diego where you can buy the popsicles that the ice cream man sells in bulk or at a discount. California Ice Cream and Candy in Lakeside (that’s near my house), and Circus Man Ice Cream in National City.  The kids and I hit up our local store each week and drop $20 on Spongebob, TMNT, Tweety Bird, and other popsicles. That’s about 13 or so, and that lasts us about a week! I personally love the Powerpuff Girl ones, they are orange and cherry flavored.

Talk Back: What are your favorite summer essentials?

Have Your Hot Girl Summer on a Budget

I’m sure by now everyone has heard the phrase “Hot Girl Summer”, but do you know what it means? The phrase can be traced back to a Megan Thee Stallion song a few years ago.

On Twitter, she explained: “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party, etc.”

A couple of my friends have embraced it, and I think that it’s a pretty amazing outlook to have, especially since last summer was, well, Sad Trombone Noise? I know the kids are looking forward to having fun, more adventures, and getting out of the house. Here are a couple ways I’m bringing Hot Girl Summer (and sharing it with the fam).

New Bathing Suits. Kids grow, but what about me? Well after having the same swimsuits for 3 years, it’s time. Especially since we swim daily.  I bought a few new suits from Amazon. Since I’m fair-skinned I picked up one with long sleeves, the kids tease me about working at SeaWorld. This is just one of the many suits I’ve got. It’s perfect for prime sun time.

 

New Pool Bag and New Pool Toys. Every Summer it seems, we need new pool toys and a new pool bag. The Chlorine wrecks our bag (which is mesh- this helps the pool toys dry quickly), and daily use of toys leaves them.. wrecked. Dollar Tree has a great selection of sturdy pool toys, including inflatables for kids (We have a cool cookie ring that has a “bite” taken out of it). For me, I picked up a sweet inflatable float pool chair. 

Plans to meet up with friends. Now that most people have access to the vaccine, getting together with friends is a lot more feasible. We are still limiting ourselves and staying away from large gatherings where we don’t know everyone, but dinner and drinks with friends sound amazing. I’m hosting dinners a couple times a month over the summer for a few reasons: 1. To keep all of our costs down (Dinner out with drinks costs $$$ these days), and honestly, I don’t feel super safe going out for dinner all that often, especially now that there are no mask regulations in our state. And I’m having a weekend getaway with some girlfriends in a few weeks. I am really looking forward to a weekend away in a vacation rental doing a whole lot of nothing!

Take Advantage of the season: What does that mean? Summer has all sorts of fun advantages: Long days, Amazing fruit and veggies are in season, nice weather. Spend time outside (poolside, at the beach, exploring nature), enjoy a big bowl of fruit salad, make a huge salad! Community events are starting to come back (with limited event sizes), and there are lots of free events throughout the summer. EventBrite is a great place to find community events.

Make Time for You: I know… So many blogs and social media tell you to get self-care time and spend time doing things that you love, but as a parent, it can be hard without staying up late or waking up before dawn. Finding a sitter can be tough too. It’s ok to lean on family and friends. The past year has been exponentially tough on parents, and you need time to yourself. Swap child care with friends, or if you want to have a night out, split the cost of a sitter. Your kids can hang out together, while you and your friends get some time away.

Take Care of Yourself: And I don’t mean the stereotypical self-care of putting on a mud mask and drinking water with lemon slices. That’s fun, but I mean the simple acts that we often overlook as caregivers.

  • Sunscreen for your face and any exposed areas when you’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes during peak sun hours (usually 10am-4pm). Don’t forget the tops of your ears. Being super fair-skinned I also wear a sun hat too. Not super sexy, but I don’t want skin cancer.
  • Take something to drink with you. I know most of you pack snacks for your kids when you leave home, but take a few extra minutes to make yourself something that you like (bonus if it’s a snack that your kids do not like- No sharing!), and fill your water bottle. This is the water bottle I use. If you like fruit-infused water, bottles like this are great.  You can also opt for an infuser to go into your favorite bottle or insulated cup.
  • Find Something to Keep You Occupied.  Besides your kids. Pick up a book, grab a craft kit (I like embroidery- it’s easy and portable), Craftsy has some cool online classes to get you started.

I’d love to hear about how you are bringing Hot Girl Summer. Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Q-insights – Travel Study Pays $125

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Q-insights is another company that I do research groups, focus groups, and online surveys to earn extra money.

They have a lot of stuff in South Orange County, and less often San Diego County. These days they are doing most of their studies online via chat or online surveys.

Right now Q-Insights is currently recruiting for an online focus group on the topic of
Traveling.

This study will run from April 14th to 21st, 2021. You will be compensated
compensated $125 via check in the mail as a thank you for your time.

If you are interested in participating please fill out the survey here. If you pre-qualify Q-Insights will call you to ask some additional qualifying questions.

 

Community Days at Legoland!

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Everything is awesome! Check out this great deal! LEGOLAND® California is partnering with The Kid’s College to share this great deal!

You can purchase a ticket for a single day on Sunday, March 1, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., or Monday, March 2 – Friday, March 6, 2020, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Add a visit to LEGOLAND’s SEA LIFE Aquarium for only $10.

Fine Print:

  • Everyone is welcome, please share with family and friends!
  • Children 2 and under free. Tickets required for everyone 3+. All tickets sales end Friday, February 28 at 6:00pm.
  • The Kid’s College is proud to be LEGOLAND’s non-profit partner for this event. Proceeds from every ticket purchase help provide educational enrichment programs to students in North County Schools through The Kid’s College.
  • Visit the Community Day Information Page for student performance details.

 

We love Legoland! If you are looking for a way to continue the savings after you through the gates, check out our post about Legoland on a budget.

If you’ve got someone in your group that has a physical and mental limitation, pick up an Access Pass.

 

11/25/19 Weekly Meal Plan!

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This week is Thanksgiving here in the US, so the kids are off school all week, and I’ve got tons of fun stuff planned! Zoo, making Turkey Cookies with the kids and my niece, playing at the park, and of course, daily visits to the YMCA. Meals will probably be light because we’re super stoked for all the yummy treats on Thursday.  I’m taking this dish on Thursday!

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. Last week I did a lot of veggie prep and I’ve got a bunch of bags of veggies in the freezer for meals this week.

  • Monday: Breakfast for dinner: Smoothies and Dave’s Killer Bagels with Cream cheese.
  • Tuesday: Quesadillas, green salad, fruit
  • Wednesday:  Chicken and Veggie soup
  • Thursday:  THANKSGIVING FEAST WITH FAMILY
  • Friday:  Some sort of Thanksgiving leftover based meal (perhaps a Moist Maker Sandwich- Friends fans know what I mean)
  • Saturday:  Pizza time (also salad will be served)
  • Sunday:   Leftovers, as per usual

I had someone ask me how we always have enough of anything for leftovers. I always cook enough of the main dish for 6-8 servings, that way we have leftovers for lunches later in the week or leftover night. And really when you make stuff like soup, it’s hard to make a batch of soup that only feeds 4 people.

Talk Back: What are you planning to cook this week?

Free & Low-Cost Events for Kids at Michaels!

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Did you know that Michael’s hosts free and low-cost crafting events for kids ages 3+?

This week there are some really fun activities!

  • 6/3: Sparkling Dragonflies (4-6pm)
  • 6/4: Woven Turtles (4-6pm)
  • 6/5: Butterfly Puppet Garden (4-6pm)
  • 6/6: Bug Catcher Jar (4-6pm)
  • 6/7 Painted Bug Rocks (4-6pm)

And the first 100 event attendees per store will receive a $5 off $5+ coupon! With so many craft supplies at $5 or less, you’ll be able to score something cool!

Screen Shot 2019-06-03 at 12.14.41 PM.pngAnd Every Saturday there is a new craft class from 10am-12pm for just $3!

I’m really looking forward to Camp Creativity.

Each week has a different theme, and each 30 minute craft session is only $3!

What I really like about these craft classes at Michaels is that the kids get to try out new crafts and I don’t have to lay out a ton of money to buy a bunch of supplies for something that the kids may not be all that into.

And- to be honest, I’m not faced with the craft aftermath clean up. Yall know what I mean.

Legoland Ticket Deals!

unnamed.jpgI just discovered this deal this morning, and I had to share! Ya’ll know we love going to Legoland, and with the new Ninjago 4-D Experience that just opened last month, there is even more to see and enjoy.

Groupon has ticket deals for Legoland California. 50% Off Legoland Florida & California Tickets for either 2 or 4 2 day park hopper tickets. But, the deal gets even sweeter (you know it would, right?), you can save 25% Off Groupon with New Coupon Code NOW25. Oh, and you can use the coupon code 3 times per account!

unnamed (1).jpgThe new Legoland Castle Hotel is opening on April 27, 2018! I can’t wait to check it out once it’s completed! I love that Legoland hotels are just more than a place to crash at the end of your Legoland day. The Royal Courtyard outside is designed to immerse children in a fairy tale of their own creation with a DUPLO play area for the younger kids, larger play structures for the older kids, giant movie screen for nighttime movies, a stage for live plays and shows, a gradual incline pool and hot tub. The pool bar and grill will offer smoothies, sandwiches and salads prepared fresh to order. And, for our family, we love that breakfast will be included with each guest’s stay and includes made-to-order items along with a buffet (our kids love breakfast!).

With so much to see and do at Legoland, this Groupon deal is the perfect excuse to plan a trip over Spring Break!

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Henry’s latest Lego Creation

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.

 

Vacations of the Cheap, Part 3: Saving Money at the Park

Today we’re going to talk about saving money inside the park.  Specifically FOOD, but also souvenirs and other goodies.

I like most of the food choices at Disneyland (OMGoodness Gibson Girl Ice Cream), but it can get a little expensive. So here is what we do: Rent a locker and bring a picnic.

I pack a soft side cooler (like this one from Thirty-One) with a few frozen water bottles, lunch meat, fruit, frozen yogurts, and a small re-usable grocery bag with bread, individual packets of condiments (you can buy them at Smart and Final), and Ziploc bags with snacks, and we put all this stuff, plus our jackets and a few other misc. things into a locker.

We like the lockers on Main Street, but if you have a larger group going with you, there are bigger lockers immediately outside of the park.  More info about Lockers, including prices, and locations can be found here. Reviews of the lockers can be found here (I love Yelp!)

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.23.18 PMThere are various picnic areas inside the park (there is one up by Big Thunder Mountain, and various tables and benches scattered throughout the park), as well as one right outside the main gate by the large lockers.

For snacking during the day, I pack snacks that fit in our pockets (we both usually wear cargo shorts) like bags of pretzels, hard candy in Ziploc bags, and a 16oz. or so size bottle of water that we refill at the various water fountains throughout the park.  We’ll stop back at the lockers for fruit or a larger nosh if we’re nearby and hungry.

That doesn’t mean I’ll go without my beloved Ice Cream. We usually pick one treat a day and share it. Ice cream, frozen banana on a stick, Dole Whip…. Whatever we both can agree on.

We also save money by buying our Disneyland shirts before we go on vacation. The Disney Store usually has an end of summer sale, and I can stock up of D-land shirts for 50-75% off retail prices. The mall closest to our house has a Disney Store, so we cruise in frequently (Lil’ Man is obsessed with Mickey Mouse).  Other Disney Souvenirs like sippy cups I’ll buy in advance and sneak in our bags so he doesn’t see them until we arrive. In the past, I have scored a sweet new Disney shirt for $2.00!

99 Cents Only has a great selection of Disney Branded and Licensed items like crayons, coloring books, sippy cups, sandwich boxes, and other lunch/food storage containers. I’ve been sneaking 1 or 2 items into the cart each week when Lil’ Man isn’t looking!

We also set a budget when we go on a trip and stick to it. Bring cash with us each day of the trip, and when it’s gone we’re done spending. It’s just that simple.