Monday, March 28, 2016

Fun April Fool’s Day Pranks for Families

april fools day pranks
April Fool’s Day is a great day to have a lot of fun with your family and friends. There are so many epic pranks that you can pull. Now, you can live up to the name of this day with these ideas that will totally confuse (and may even scare) your family.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Healthy Treat Ideas for Homemade Easter Baskets

homemade easter baskets
The Easter Bunny is known for being the bearer of sweet gifts. However, this Easter, you don’t need to give the kids a sugar high just from looking at their Easter baskets. Instead, fill them up with things that are good for them. Here are a few options.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Fun St. Patrick's Day Recipes

st. patrick's day recipes
St. Patrick’s Day is a great day to spend time with your family while learning about the Irish culture and enjoying some Irish food.  Below, you will find Irish recipes that will give you and your family a great variety of Irish dishes.

 

 

 

Monday, March 7, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Families

St. Patrick's Day Activities
St. Patrick’s Day is a day that is celebrated by all, regardless of whether you are Irish or not. Just like Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day is a time when families can count their blessings and enjoy a great family meal while having fun with a variety of activities. All of this, and there is also the added fun of tricky little leprechauns and those lucky green shamrocks! If you are looking for some fun activities to do with your family, you have come to the right place.

Start off Green 

Green is the color theme for the day and you can start out right by having green milk in the morning along with your breakfast. Surprise the kids with the milk and let them know that the leprechauns must have come in the night to make the milk green. You can also add green food coloring to your morning eggs. If you are going out, McDonald’s always has green Shamrock Shakes for the holiday.

Enjoy Some Irish Culture 

Not everyone knows the art of Irish step dancing, but there are places in many cities where you can go and enjoy watching this lively dance. You can also watch things like Lord of the Dance, Riverdance and other Celtic dancing videos.

Leprechaun Traps and Other Fun 

 If you have small children, you might try making some traps for the Leprechauns. This is easily done and only requires a few materials. Take a shoebox and cover it with either green paper or green paint. You might add a few shamrocks to it to entice the Leprechauns. Take a small stick and tie a piece of Leprechaun bait to it, leaving some length in the string so that the bait is inside the trap when the stick is propping the box up. When the leprechaun takes the bait, the string will be pulled and the trap will close. Leave the trap out overnight and in the morning, maybe the kids will find a few shamrocks or even a Leprechaun hat inside.

You can also have the kids conduct a Leprechaun hunt outdoors. While they are outside, leave a trail of shamrocks from the door to their room. Mess up their rooms and blame it on the Leprechauns when they come inside and notice.

There are all sorts of fun things to do on this holiday. Paint your hair green, go to a St. Patrick’s Day parade, wear green clothes…and if you happen to be in Chicago, you can watch as the city, and the river turn green for the holiday!

Does your family celebrate St. Patrick's Day? What are some fun activities you do?

Monday, February 29, 2016

How Planting a Garden can Save Money on Food Costs

planting a garden
We all know that sadly, money doesn’t just grow on trees, but that doesn't stop our kids from eating. When you are raising a big family, you spend a lot on food...A LOT! It is possible to save money by growing a vegetable garden. In fact, if you listen to a seed company called Burpee, having a vegetable garden of your own can get you a savings at a ratio of 1 – 25. In other words, if you spend $50 on seeds, that can get you a savings of $1,250 for veggies that you no longer need to buy. Not too bad for a little money and a little time. Not to mention, with Spring right around the corner, it's a great way to spend some time with the family and to get everyone involved.

Benefits of a Vegetable Garden 

Most homeowners find gardening appealing when it comes to flowers and shrubs, but can be a bit intimidated by the thought of a vegetable garden because of the commitment that it requires. That being said, there are more benefits to a vegetable garden than just saving money.

1. Vegetables fresh from the garden are delicious.
2. You know exactly what is going on with your food and what goes into it.
3. Vegetables that are eaten when they have just been picked have more nutritional content.

Which Vegetables will Offer the Most Savings? 

For those looking to save money by having a vegetable garden, take a hint from experienced gardeners who opt for the same seeds each year. While the varieties might change, the old standbys are carrots, beans and tomatoes.

If you are just now considering to get into saving money by gardening, Burpee has chosen 6 of the classic vegetable seeds that you can grow and then harvest throughout the summer.
  • Bush snap beans 
  • Lettuce 
  • Carrots 
  • Bell peppers 
  • Garden peas 
  • Tomatoes 
How much money you can actually save by growing your own vegetables can fluctuate as the prices of produce rises and falls. However, you will never see a vegetable garden that needs a financial bailout.

Ready to Start Planting? 

For you first time gardeners, just be ready to dig a lot of holes. Gardening is not a passive activity. You can’t just plant the seeds and then forget about them. Look for a sunny area in your yard. Even a small, 20’ x 20’ space will give you the room that you will need for a variety of veggies while not overwhelming you.

The key element to a fantastic garden are warm weather and exposure to the sun. Don’t coddle them, over water, or overfeed them. Give them access to the sun and let them do their thing.

Do you grow your own garden to save money on food costs?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

How to Save Money with Birthday Gifts

save money with birthday gifts
When you have a large family, it seems like it's always someone's birthday. And, if it's like our house, birthdays are back to back or next to other large expenses, like back to school shopping or holidays. With numerous kids, the costs of birthdays can quickly ad up, but there are ways to cut the costs.

If you are looking for a way to pare down the costs of buying gifts for all of the birthday parties that your children will be invited to over the course of a year…or for your own children’s gifts, if you don’t wait until the absolute last minute, it can be easy.

How to Save Money with Birthday Gifts

Buy items for gifts when you catch them on sale throughout the year. If you need another item to qualify for free shipping, head over to the clearance toy rack for kids around the same age as your kids. You typically will know all of their ages and what they are into. Scour all of those after holiday sales racks…even if you don’t need anything right then. Take these things home and put them into a box so that the next time a birthday comes up; you will have a gift on hand. This is an amazing way to give awesome gifts for around $5 - $10 while not sacrificing on the cool factor.

Yes, gifts for parties can get expensive, but they never need to cripple your wallet. Shop for them when the prices are right and you will be able to save money in the long run.

Here is a look at a few more tips to save money on gifts:
  • Check out yard sales. Sometimes they will have toys that are in the original packaging and have never been opened. 
  • The clearance section at Walmart tends to always be full of lower priced toy and gift items. 
  • Go to the Dollar Tree and create a gift basket with a few of the $1 toys. Fill the basket up with things like bubbles, glow sticks, bug catchers, water guns, chalk, etc. If the child in question is more of an indoorsy type, fill the basket with things like craft projects, board games, puzzles, books, activity books and/or coloring books. 
  • Target has a clearance on toys twice a year with great rock bottom prices. 
  • After Christmas sales on gift sets are also a good idea. 
  • Amazon typically has great prices on toys too. 
  • Clip coupons for art stores like Hobby Lobby and Joann’s. They carry things like art supplies and play dough, puzzles and dress up items. 
  • If there is a 5 Below in your area, this is an amazing place to get gifts for $5 or less. 
All of these are great ways to save money on birthday gifts for your children, as well as for when they are invited to a party and expected to bring a gift. 
 
How do you save money on birthday gifts when raising a large family?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Facing the Ugly Truth: Teaching Children Stranger Danger

Unfortunately, in today's society, kidnappings are a constant threat to our children, with the number of reported missing children are on the rise. As parents, it's a touchy subject. Of course, you never want to even think about your child being kidnapped, but it's a reality you must prepare your children for. But, you don't want to scare them or make them fear the world. At some point, your children are going to have to face the ugly truth and you're going to have to teach your children stranger danger.

Simply telling your children not to talk to strangers isn't enough anymore. Even family acquaintances and other familiar faces are threats to our children. It's important to properly teach children stranger danger so they know how to react if they are ever in the situation of facing a threatening individual. Teaching stranger danger to our children needs to begin at an early age with frequent open discussions.


The Ugly TruthAccording to the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC), approximately 90% of kidnapping cases in the United States involve children under the age of 18. This creates an alarming average of 2,100 missing children reported everyday. While most of these aren't televised and some end with the children found at a friend's house, the number is still a cause for concern.


Kidnappings aren't only caused by strangers, but by family, friends, and acquaintances as well. According to the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention, 49% of kidnappings are a result of family members, while 27% of kidnappings are from family acquaintances. Only 24% of kidnappings involve strangers. Men aren't the only people to kidnap children either. 43% of kidnappings are a result of female predators. This means our children need to be aware that both men and women can harm them.


Teaching Stranger Danger

While stranger danger's often a scary subject, it doesn't have to be. It's important to begin teaching stranger danger at a young age and keep the lines of communication open. It's vital your child knows how to react if they feel threatened by someone. There are four simple steps your child must know to reduce their chances of being kidnapped.


Run!

Children need to know when they are approached by a stranger or even someone that makes them feel uncomfortable to RUN! If your child doesn't feel comfortable with a person, it's ok for them to run away and run fast. Even if the person turns out not to be a threat, it may come off as rude, but better safe than sorry. Your child needs to know if they feel threatened to turn and run as fast as they can to anywhere there are people.


Cause a Ruckus

If your child feels threatened by an individual they need to cause as big of ruckus as they possibly can. This means screaming, kicking, fighting, biting, anything and everything they can do to cause someone to take notice about what's going on. It's advised children scream "Stranger Danger" when threatened by an adult, continue screaming, and run. Causing a commotion is likely to frighten the suspected kidnapper, causing them to retreat.


Keeping the Distance

When approached by an adult, even one that seems ok, children need to know to keep their distance. Children shouldn't be within arms length of the individual because this makes them easier to grab. Instill the importance of your child backing away from an individual to keep the distance between them. If the adult continues to close the distance between themselves and the child, this needs to be an indicator to your child to run away.


Fight!

While we teach our children from a young age it's not okay to fight or hit, this is one time where they must. Our children need to be perfectly aware if they are in the situation where some one's trying to kidnap them, to hit, punch, kick, and bite-- anything they can possibly to to defend themselves and to ward off the kidnapper. They must never give up and fight to escape as long as they possibly can.

Personal Stranger Danger Tips

Stranger Danger isn't a topic that you cover just once. It's something you go over time and time again. In addition to the above tips, here are some ways we discuss stranger danger in my house:

  • Make it Fun-- While kidnappings are no laughing matter, we make the discussions fun by having the kids tell us what they would do in a situation where someone approached them. After a few serious answers, it usually turns into silly responses, but I know the fun of it make the core message stick.
  • Practice-- We've practiced with our children and have them show how they would respond. It's a fun way to teach them different self defense moves...although it usually just turns into a tickle fight.
  • Don't Go Anywhere-- We teach our children not to go anywhere with anyone without asking our permission first. It doesn't matter if it's grandma or a family friend, you don't get in anyone's car or go any where without asking us first.
  • Always have a Buddy-- We use the buddy system a lot around here. We teach our children safety in numbers. No matter if they are walking home from school or going to a friend's house, always have a buddy with you.
  • Talk, Talk, Talk-- Discuss stranger danger often. We like to bring it up every few months to help the younger children understand more than they did the previous discussion. Plus, it's a good refresher for the older kids.