Bowl ALL summer for FREE! (Valued at over $500)

What if I told you that you and your family could spend time together indoors, in the air conditioning, being active, and enjoying good old-fashioned family fun…oh yeah, and the best part, what if I told you it was FREE!

Oh, and did I mention there are some pretty rad shoes involved? Oh Yeah!!

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If you hadn’t guessed by now I am referring to bowling! Remember that thing you did when you were a kid? At least in my case I haven’t bowled in eons.  But I always had fond memories of hanging out with family and friends, laughing, and having a great time.

So when I received an email that stated Kids Bowl Free I jumped at the opportunity!

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What is Kids Bowl Free?

Kids Bowl Free is an amazing brand – designed by bowling centers to give back to the community and provide a safe, secure, and fun way for kids to spend time this summer. Parents you can sign up your children to receive two free games for up to six children per day (that is a value of over $500 per kid…now that is a fabulous deal!).  It is really simple, just click here, find your state, then locate your city or surrounding city, and then click on the bowling alley listed to sign up each kiddo. I know what you’re thinking….but what about mom and dad?  They also have family packs for the whole summer that are $24.95. More info: http://www.kidsbowlfree.com/questions.php

Within minutes of signing up my kiddos and receiving the family pack I had an email with our coupons for the week! Talk about convenient!  And moments later I was telling all my friends, including all our playgroup friends, and setting up dates to go bowling.

Here are pictures from our latest bowling trip.  And yes, your toddler can bowl too! I had reservations about our 2-1/2-year-old bowling but they actually had bowling shoes (toddler and pre-K shoes are Velcro), an extremely light-weight ball (it is so light it bounces lol! She did drop it once and no one got hurt…it bounced), there is this contraption that helps roll the ball down the alley, and of course there are bumpers. Thus with all the nifty contraptions for the little ones to bowl my toddler totally scored higher than I, ha-ha!

 

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We had so much fun I can’t wait to go back this week! Kids Bowl for Free is also a great way for dad to spend quality time with kiddos why mom gets a couple of hours to herself…hint-hint.  Also a great way for parent/child to bond just the two of them….get a tween in a bowling alley and they will eventually start talking around the 7th frame. Or a great way for extended family to get in on the fun too! Grab grandma, grandpa, order a pizza and watch some memories in the making!

 

Have you taken your kiddos bowling? Do you have fond memories of bowling when you were a child?

Disclosure: I was given the family bowling pack, a value of $24.95 in order to complete this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Patriotic Desserts

Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It is a day to gather together family and friends, to watch the Memorial Day parade, grill up hamburgers and hotdogs, to bring a dish to share, and to welcome the unofficial start of summer!!

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 The best part of any potluck is the desserts! So here are some easy to make Memorial Day inspired desserts…..(recipe should be self explanatory based upon the picture but if you have any questions please feel free to post a comment and I will be happy to provide more info in a reply)….

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I love a parade….

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Parades these days seem come in second place, first being Halloween, when it comes to candy. Not sure when or how this tradition evolved…I do not it didn’t exist when I was younger otherwise I would have been asking to go to a parade every week, lol!  So in an effort to keep all the candy contained and arguing to a minimum I grabbed a few buckets from Target and put the kiddos name on them.

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If you do plan on attending a parade please remember to have a conversation with your kiddos with regard to safety before, during, and after the parade.

 I hope you have safe and memorable Memorial Day.

Please feel free to share any Memorial Day inspired recipes, ideas, blog post, and/or links.

For more great Patriotic inspired foods be sure to visit….http://catholiccuisine.blogspot.com/2013/07/4-more-festive-foods-on-4th-and-link-up.html

Blog Link Up Parties!

Okay, so who doesn’t love a party, right!? I know I love parties but unfortunately these days my party attendance seems to be limited to children’s birthday parties. And the rare occasion of one of our friends hitting a huge milestone b-day like the big 3-0 or, dare I type it, 4-0!!   Thus, every decade or so I am at least guaranteed a few adult parties, so what gets me through the other remaining years?  I mean besides Ford’s firefighter 5th birthday on Friday and Sally’s 6th birthday party on Saturday, link up parties!!

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Link up parties are my guilty pleasure. There, I said it! I have confessed.  I know some people think they are just a cop-out to get more followers and to those people I say…you might be right? Hmm…clever! They are so darn addicting.  Having all those blog post at your fingertips is awesome, it is truly hard to stop…I always want to click just one more! I so enjoy having the opportunity to read another mom’s perspective on a topic, read about their awesome tip, learn a new cool recipe, and get to know them, like at a party. So grab yourself a coffee, glass of wine, what-have-you, and let’s get this party started!

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I have narrowed down a few of my favs by categories…ENJOY! And remember, type responsibly…do not drink and type! (Or at least don’t drink a lot and type…that is never good, ever!)

Children/Homeschooling

Hip Homeschool Hop

Tactile Tuesday

Collage Friday

Works for me Wednesday

Story + Art (stART)

Preschool and Kindergarten Community

Homeschool Mother’s Journal

Weekly Wrap-up

What my Child is Reading

Link & Learn weekly kids crafts

 

Go green

Tuesday Greens

Nifty Thrifty

Eco-Kids

Waste Not Want Not  

Whole Food Wednesdays’

Natural Living Linkup

Your Green Resource Thursday

Small Footprint Friday

 

Foodies

Tempt my Tummy

Melt in your Mouth Mondays   

On the Menu Monday

My Meatless Mondays

Recipe Sharing Monday

Homemade Mondays

Made with Love Linkup

The Weekly Creative Linky Party

Math Flashcards

In an effort to combat summer brain drain I am getting the kiddos into what will hopefully become our summer homeschool routine.  Now don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean we will be sitting at the kitchen table for six hours a day 5 days a week.  That to me sounds like torture! 

To me summer homeschooling means learning through experiences.  Visiting the Museum of Art and learning about a famous artist and their works, visiting the zoo and learning about a specific reptile, going to the butterfly house and watching the butterflies in their habitat, etc. Then really cementing those experiences and further encouraging the learning process by going to the library and checking out books about the artist, reptile, butterflies, etc. Learning through experiences is fun and taking the hands-on approach often leads to a better understanding. That being stated it is still important to maintain the rudimentary skills learned during the school year. Like spelling, writing, reading, and math.

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So, my plan this summer is to first and foremost hit the pool, duh! I mean come on its summer! However, in-between swimming and visits to establishments that foster experience learning the kiddos will be reading, writing, spelling, and practicing math skills.  And since each of our kiddos is at different levels of development I will cater each to their needs. For our son, who officially graduates from preschool this week…AHH…where does the time go?? We will be focusing on basic addition and subtraction.  And what better way than by using flash cards! I love flashcards; they are convenient to use anywhere, in the car, on vacation, at the pool, etc. Bottom-line, flashcards rule!

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Also, my kiddos are obsessed with dry easer boards. So, in an effort to make it more fun simply laminate the flashcards and the kiddos can write their answer with a dry easer board marker then wipe them clean for the next day. This is also nice for mom because the kiddos can complete the equations independently then you can go over the equations they struggle with.

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I have included a few links to websites I can across that offer simple addition and subtraction flashcards. All you have to do is print, cut, fold, and laminate if you wish.

Click here to print a variety addition flashcards, includes the option to make custom cards too!

Click here to print a variety of subtraction flashcards.

Do you have any easy and effective ways that you have found to combat summer brain drain? Please feel free to share links and other blogs.

 

Kidz Craft: Painting Rocks!

We will be planting our veggie garden very soon and the kiddos could not be more excited! They have enjoyed watching the seeds sprout and grow over the last few weeks. They have been taking turns watering them and they love watching them ‘move’. See we placed them in the corner of our living room so that they receive sunlight from dawn till dusk and you can literally see the leaves sway towards one window in the morning and the other in the evening. Nature really is fascinating!

The children, though excited to plant their garden are a little sad to see their plants move outdoors. So in an effort to make the transition a little smoother they painted rocks to place in the veggie garden.  So they went to town painting rocks to brighten up the garden with some color, to keep the plants company, and most importantly to put their little hearts at ease…..

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and then we took a five minute break for lemonade and apple slices, yum!

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rockart 010After painting for awhile they each completed 4 beautiful rocks to add to our vegetable garden.  I so enjoyed hearing each child’s explanation of their rocks. Our toddler based her inspiration on the fact that she can identify colors and knows which are her favorite. All of her rocks were pink, purple, and green.  Our son painted a Pentecost rock for the garden as well as a pirate rock, lol! What a crazy combination right!? So I asked him how he arrived at those and he explained that one is so that the Holy Spirit will be present and God will watch over the garden and the pirate will scare away all the bad bugs and animals, that explanation was so precious! And our eldest said her favorite of her rocks was the red, white, and blue rock because we live in America. I so adored listening to their explanations and can’t wait to see their rocks adorning our vegetable garden.

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Do you have a craft or activity that you enjoyed/enjoy doing with your kiddos? Please share I always welcome suggestions/recommendations for future crafts…and easy isn’t terrible, hint hint!

Dream Day at the Mall becomes a Nightmare!

To say it has been a crazy week in our household would be an understatement. Both Mommy and Daddy are on the mends after some health issues. Thus, it finally dawned on me Thursday morning that Mother’s Day is Sunday and we have no gifts for our amazing moms!  So after picking up our 1st grader from school the girls and I went directly to the mall to get Mother’s Day gifts.

It started off as a fun adventure! See I never go to the mall (full disclosure: I get most clothes from Costco’s or second-hand) so as soon as we walked in our toddler was in awe of all the lights, music, shiny jewelry displays, perfumes, variety of stores (including The Disney Store) we even walked pasted a child on a bungee cord and trampoline (which had my mommy nerves on edge), she was mesmerized by all the commotion. At one point she got so distracted she ran into a display. She was adorable! Our 1st grader on the other hand saw this as the perfect opportunity to bring up a store called Justice and why it wasn’t fair that she didn’t get clothes from there.  Thankfully when we arrived at Things Remembered the conversation ended and the innocence of childhood came back.  I witnessed it as the girls’ exclaimed the beauty they saw in the music boxes, carousels, etc.  It was at that moment that I let my guard down.  For the first time, like EVER, I didn’t have to worry about a child breaking anything. The girls were so gentle, even the 2-1/2 yrs. old.  Watching them look at the fragile objects around them and eagerly wanting me to see the beauty they saw aroused such a joy within me…daughters! They speak a different language than a son and it was as if we just uttered our first words to each other. This was clearly the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

To commemorate the moment and make it extra special, we stopped in the food court and got daddy a shake and one for the girls to split. It was perfect! We window shopped as we strolled along the storefronts while the girls exchanged smiles and sips from their shake. Did I mention it was perfect? After a VERY long week I felt like this was my ‘mommy reward’ for job well done.

 

Then it happened……

As we approached the exit my 1st grader was to my left holding a shake.  I was holding my toddler’s hand and my hubby’s shake in the other. We carelessly walked out. See, I am usually on guard. I normally have my keys out ready to go and my ‘don’t mess with me’ highly alerted mommy sensory on sentinel. I don’t know if it was the meds, the moment, or a combination of both but I was not prepared for what happened next.

Out of nowhere a black SUV goes flying past us then bust a u-ey and jumped the curb almost hitting my toddler in the process. It all happened so fast and yet it felt like an eternity in my mind. I stood frozen and the air failed to escaped my lungs while images from movies passed through my head….a van pulling up and grabbing girls to never be seen again….the abduction scene from Taken…the girls from Cleveland who were recently in the news. Then I felt this coldness come over me, like I was being watched, and then the SUV took off like a bat out of hell. I exhaled. What just happened?

It’s not just in the movies, and it doesn’t only happen overseas. Human trafficking is a serious problem locally. Toledo is fourth in the nation for the most arrests and prosecutions of human trafficking. http://www.13abc.com/story/21291908/toledo-ranks-4th-in-human-trafficking

 

Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Memphis, New York, and Toledo, OH have all become major centers in the global human trafficking industry.  In fact, the FBI has listed Toledo (my hometown) as one of the top recruiting cities for human trafficking in North America.  http://joeforamerica.com/2013/05/kidnapped-not-just-in-cleveland/

Was that SUV somehow affiliated with human trafficking? Did that driver think I was younger than I was? Is that what that weird eerie pause was before they took off? Did they think we were 3 younger girls leaving the mall?  I was wearing a crappy skort, t-shirt, sandals, and hair in ponytail; perhaps they didn’t get a close enough view of the cellulite on my thighs from behind? I don’t know what exactly happened or why but I do know it was a huge wake-up call for me to NEVER let my guard down, EVER!!!

Here are some great articles I came across to help you and your children stay safe. And remember, crime doesn’t wait till you feel better…if you don’t feel well and you can’t be ‘on guard’ don’t go! Nothing is worth the life of you or your children!

20 parking lot safety tips

Keep Kid safe while shopping and Traveling

How to Prevent Trafficking

 

National Clean Your Room Day: Purging clothes, toys, and books the GREEN Way

This anxious feeling came over me this morning as I gazed into our children’s bedrooms at the tubs, baskets, and piles of books, toys, and clothing, they used to have a floor! I think it was hardwood…or maybe carpeted? It has been so long I don’t remember!

Now, it should be noted that the fact that the floor is no longer visible isn’t due to children not putting away their stuff.  But rather, their stuff overtaking their rooms! We are dealing with a severe case of not enough storage space and way too much stuff!!  And with Christmas right around the corner that means more “stuff” will be coming into those bedrooms. What is a mom to do? PURGE STAT!!!

Since we are not raising a throw-it-away generation whenever possible we try to find a new home for our items so that they do not end up in a landfill but rather bring happiness and fun to a new owner.  I try to share the life-cycle plan for every item the kiddos receive and remind them to be gentle and take good care of their toys, books, puzzles, etc. for the next child who will wear or play with it. (Often times it is their own younger sibling).

Here are some resources that can help you successfully purge and find a new home for toys, books, and clothing at Christmas time and throughout the year. (bonus: you can also find some great deals on items for b-day gifts, holiday gifts, etc.):

 

ThreadUP 

ThredUP is the easiest way to save on great kids clothing brands, and hand down outgrown clothes for cash. They are like a consignment boutique – but simpler. On thredUP you can refresh your child’s entire wardrobe online, without ever leaving your house.

Here’s how it works:

When your child outgrows clothing, simply fill up a ThredUP bag and put it on your doorstep. ThredUP covers the shipping, and pays you for every item we can hand down to other moms.

You can also browse thousands of like-new kids clothing items, which they’ve hand-selected and certified for quality. You’ll find all your favorite brands discounted up to 75% off year-round.

Like this little number, was originally $34.00 and is only $8.99 on ThreadUP!

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ThreadUP’s goal is to make your life just a little bit easier.

They eliminate the stress of deal hunting by offering consistent discounts every day.

They take the hassle out of bringing your kids into a store by allowing you to thredUP online.

They relieve that recycling guilt by helping you lighten your family’s carbon-footprint with every order.

 

Swap.com 

 

Swap.com Valet Service is the first consumer-to-consumer department store. Valet Service combines the convenience and enjoyment of shopping at Amazon with the effortlessness of getting rid of items at a local thrift or consignment store. Items are owned and traded by users, but stored at Swap.com’s logistics center. This provides you with extra safety because Swap.com has pre-checked the items and can guarantee the delivery. Best of all, you can pay the items with either money or your items. On Swap.com, swapping actually works!

You can swap everything, toys, CDs, Video games, sports equipment, clothing, etc.

These Inline skates for kids are only $12!

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BookMooch 

 

BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.

Give & receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish.

No cost: there is no cost to join or use this website: your only cost is mailing your books to others.

Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every two you receive.

Added Bonus-Help charities: you can also give your points to charities we work with, such as children’s hospitals (so a sick kid can get a free book delivered to their bed), Library fund, African literacy, or to us to thank us for running this web site.

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The Thrift Shopper.com

 

Also, don’t rule out local Thrift Stores. Local is always a fabulous choice! At The Thrift Shopper you will find a directory of Thrift Stores.  They list only charity-driven thrift stores so rest assured that your purchases and donations will be going to a worthy cause, and each listing in their directory includes the store’s hours, phone number, and address with a map link. Their goal is to provide you with the most comprehensive thrift store directory on the Internet.

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What about the Misfit toys?

Perhaps your toys have already received a second or third life through your kiddos and they are missing too many parts or are simply not in the best conditions.  There is still no need to send them to a landfill grave. Checkout some of these alternatives first:

Recycle Plastic

Earth911.com

Some of those broken or missing parts might be able to be recycled, depending on what type of plastic they’re made from.  Check for the plastic number on the toy or you might be able to contact the manufacturer to find out what it’s made from. Check with your city or Earth911.com to make sure that your municipal recycling accepts that type of plastic.

Another option is to contact a local museum, art affiliate program, your children’s art teacher, a university art program, etc. and see if you could donate the misfit toys and such to them.  These days the young minds come up with extremely creative ways to upcycle and might be in need of toy, puzzle, book, etc. part for projects.

Know of any additional great ways to purge kids items the green way? Please share.