list of free (and $1.00) summer activities for kids

assorted underwater animal toys

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

 

It is hard to believe, but summer is just around the corner and with the warmer months brings more time with the kiddos.  It can get very expensive trying to find ways to entertain children/grandchildren/nieces/newphews without losing your mind or physically exhausting yourself.    Below is a list of free activities your kids can participate in and some require minimal outings on your part.

These activities may not be available in all locations.

 

Free summer reading program for kids grades 1-6

https://dispatch.barnesandnoble.com/content/dam/ccr/pdf/2018/summer-reading/bn-summer-reading-journal.pdf?x=y

 

Free summer reading program for kids to 14 years old

https://www.halfpricebooks.com/fyb/pdfs/FYBReadingLog.pdf

 

Kids to 14 years old can bowl 2 games/day free all summer.

https://www.kidsbowlfree.com/

 

Regal movie theaters are offering $1.00 movie tickets through the summer two days/week.  One of the movies is Max and is something that is not a predominately a kids movie so adults may enjoy it too!

https://www.regmovies.com/movies/summer-movie-express

 

Free movie/game rentals in JUNE for each A on a child’s report card at Family Video

https://www.familyvideo.com/community-involvement/

 

Every 4th grade student and their family gets a free National Parks pass to be used as much as wanted by August 31, 2018

https://www.everykidinapark.gov/game/adventure/start

 

Free family summer camps

https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/family-summer-camp

 

Free camp at apple store ages 8-12

https://www.apple.com/retail/camp/notify.html

 

Free workshops for kids ages 5-12

https://www.homedepot.com/workshops/#change_store

 

Free month Lego mini-build ages 6-14

https://shop.lego.com/en-US/minibuild-registration

 

While your at it, sign your kiddos up for a free lego magazine

https://www.lego.com/en-us/life/magazine

 

Free fishing – nationwide schedule

https://www.takemefishing.org/how-to-fish/how-to-catch-fish/free-fishing-days-2018/

 

Free classes for kids

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/locations/events-for-students

 

Free summer audiobook program for kids 13+

http://audiobooksync.com/

 

Another book program for kids

http://www.bookadventure.com/Home.aspx

 

Pottery Barn kids book club

https://www.potterybarnkids.com/customer-service/store-events.html

 

Free tokens from Chuck E Cheese for completely logs such as reading

https://www.chuckecheese.com/deals-offers/rewards-calendars

 

If you live in the Boston area, here is what I found for free

https://bostonlivingonthecheap.com/always-free-cheap/free-museum-days/

 

If you live in the Chicago area here is a link to free days at their museums

http://www.chicagoparent.com/learn/museums/museum-free-days/

 

If you live in the Houston area, here is a link to free dates/time for free museum entry

http://houmuse.org/free-admission-times/

 

If you live in the Indianapolis area, here is a link to free and discounted museums

https://indywithkids.com/free-indiana-museum-days-2017/

 

If you live in the NYC area, here is a link to free or pass as you wish museums

https://www.nyc-arts.org/collections/35/free-museum-days-or-pay-what-you-wish

 

If you live in Oregon, below is a link to free admissions

http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2017/12/get_free_admission_to_12_orego.html

 

If you are in southern California, below is a link to free museums

http://www.socalmuseums.org/free/

 

In the St. Louis area, here is a link to free admissions

http://www.familyattractionscard.com/single-post/2015/04/07/15-Free-Things-to-Do-in-St-Louis

 

If you are in the Washington DC area, here is a link to free activities and museums

https://freetoursbyfoot.com/free-things-to-do-in-dc/

 

Don’t forget that many libraries nationwide have free summer reading programs!  This has always been a favorite of my kids.

Free summer lunches, and in some places breakfasts, are available nationwide for kids through 18 years of age.  These are available in select public schools and parks.  Below is a link but you may have better information googling your state and free summer lunch program.

https://www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks

 

Until next time…………………..YOU are a superhero!

May money audit, or, just write it all down.

notebook writing pencil start

Photo by Dom J on Pexels.com

 

Money………..there is never enough, especially when you have sooooo sooooo many medical bills.  I have had to live frugally for years now due to medical treatments and tests, medicine, supplements, special foods……….you know the drill.  One more illness, more crap to pay for.  It gets frustrating and sometimes downright scary as there can be not enough money left for the month.

One way I make sure I am spending money as carefully and wisely as possible is by keeping track of every penny that is spent in a specific month.  I always do a money audit in January and I decided to do one again for the month of May.

It is really simple but it takes commitment………..you must write down Every Single Thing you spend any money on ALL MONTH long.  If you throw a nickel into the wishing well, write it down.  Lose a dime through the drive-thru, write it down.  Send a check to your niece for her birthday, write it down.  All bills, yep, you guessed it, write it down.  Every, single, piece of money that leaves your money pool needs to be written down.  I have a notebook that is dedicated for this purpose only, allowing me to go back and compare previous spending habits and bills.

Although I consider myself frugal by default, (because I would much rather not have to be!) participating in a monthly study of our spending has shown me ways that I may be able to cut back even more.  My spending flaws tend to stand out at me when I have to write down $2.25 for the pictures I HAD to have at the Dollar Tree.

If you are also living a life on a budget I encourage you to take a month to take inventory of your expenses.  The process of writing things down seems to make them more real, more noticeable.  You just may find that you can save an extra 10-20 bucks a month and put it aside to go do something fun………..like get your hair done professionally, instead of your spouse cutting your hair with household scissors in the kitchen…..O.K.  maybe that is just me!?

Until next time…………..YOU are a superhero and I am pretty sure superheros have their hair cut by a professional?

Charities that will pick up your spring cleaning giveaways.

close up photography of toy cars

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

 

Sometimes we are just not able to personally remove all of the unwanted stuff out of our home.  It is either too heavy, too big, or there is just too much to physically put in a vehicle.  So, during my last decluttering session, I went on a quest and searched for places that would be willing to come and pick up all of my discarded treasures.

The quickest pick-up date was given by Goodwill and they were willing to come to my house and take all my stuff as long as it was on the first floor and was near an exit.  Done!  I set up an appointment via computer and they showed up on time and away my stuff went.  In fact, it was so easy I had them come back for more!  It felt so invigorating and freeing to let stuff go.  Less stuff = less cleaning = more energy for other activities.  Woohoo!

The organizations below are not available for pick-up in all locations, but I have provided links below for further information.  These are not posted in any particular order and is it not an all inclusive list.   Happy Spring Cleaning!

 

General household donations:

American Kidney Fund

Goodwill

The Salvation Army

Big Brothers Big Sisters

AmVets

Vietnam Veterans of America

Disabled American Veterans – DAV

Volunteers of American

Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Arc

St. Vincent De Paul

Lupus American Household Goods Donation Program

 

Cell phone/Smart phone/Tablet

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Secure the Call

Medic Mobile

1 Million Project

 

Boat donations:

Boat Angel

Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship

Chapman School of Seamanship

Angel for Hope

 

Motor vehicles:

American Children’s Cancer Foundation

American Kidney Fund

Wheels for Wishes

Kars 4 Kids

Volunteers of America

The Arc

 

Building Materials/Cabinets/Appliances:

Habitat for Humanity

 

Don’t forget to get a receipt for tax deduction purposes.  All of the stuff you move out of your house to make it more comfortable and enjoyable is going to help others also live a better life.  A BIG win-win situation!

Until next time………….YOU are a superhero and helping others is what superheros do best!

10 ways I extend my energy with chronic illness

water flows from the tap to sink

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

Life can be challenging.  Add on a chronic illness or four and life can be down right hard.  Not matter what our situation is, we all have only so much energy in a given day, some days we have less than others.  Finding ways to make our energy last as long as possible is always helpful.

Through the years I have discovered (usually by accident) small ways to extend my personal spoons with energy saving activities.  These strategies are used with a hope and a prayer I could accomplish at least part of what needed to be done that day.  Most days, even now, I am not working with a whole lot of energy, or anything else for that matter.

 

1.  I set up my kitchen in a way that is convenient and efficient for me.

2.  I do freezer and double batch cooking so when I am having one of those really bad days, I have food already prepared.

3.  I keep meals simple.  Complicated recipes with unusual ingredients just can’t be part of my life at this time.  So, I spend less time in the kitchen (saving my energy) and I am not purchasing ingredients that will seldom be used (saving money).  I would call that a win-win.  Smoothie anyone?

4.  When I do laundry, I do not fold my underclothing or pjs.  Nope, I just throw them in my drawer.  Heck, I wear pjs so often (I call them my official uniform), there is no point in making them look nice in a drawer.

5.  I hang up clothing that does not need to be washed after wearing.  This saves me from doing so much laundry……….and I have the kids do the same.

6.  I do one load of laundry per day.

7.  Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time in bed.  So, I keep my side table well stocked.  No need to go searching for things I need/want on a regular basis.

8.  I take care of mail as soon as it comes into the house.  This sounds like a trivial task but I have found that it piles up very quickly.  So now I sort through every piece, recycling what I don’t want, opening bills and placing them in my to-be-paid slot and then take any reading material and put in my room for later viewing.  By dealing with the mail immediately, I also keep track of all bills coming in so there is less chance of them getting misplaced.

9.  I combine errands.  Just getting out of the house can be tiring, so I try to combine as many errands as I can physically do each time I head out out the door.

10.  I keep my calendar on my phone so it is with me at all times.  It took me a long time to start using my phone calendar as I found it frustrating.  But once I got use to using it on a consistent basis, I found it extremely helpful.  When I am at an appointment, I find it much easier to make follow-up appointments as I always have my and my kids schedules at my finger tips.  I still keep a calendar, ok, two on the wall, just in case I misplace my phone, again.

 

Until next time…….YOU, my friends, are superheros.

 

Pampering yourself on a budget.

bank banking black and white budget

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Hey superheros!  How long has it been since you have done something nice for yourself?  Living with a constant sickness is super duper hard and it is a must for our mental, physical and spiritual health to take extra special care ourselves every now and then.  Since most of us are on budgets, it is helpful to find things that can be done for little to no money and doesn’t require a lot of energy!

I have listed some activities below……….you will notice that watching movies or taking a nap are NOT included!

 

A cup of hot herbal tea or a tall glass of iced tea and a fun book (no books on medical stuff allowed!)

A facial at home……….it could be as simple as washing your face and putting cucumbers or tea bags on your eyes

A manicure and/or pedicure at home

An epsom salt bath w/a few drops of essential oil such as lavendar

A foot soak in dead sea salts

Deep condition your hair – if you don’t have deep conditioner just use regular conditioner and leave it your hair for a half hour.  Wrap your head in a towel to keep the moisture in.

Call, FaceTime, or SKYPE a supportive friend you haven’t spoken to in a long time

Create a vision board with uplifting and encouraging sayings and pictures and hang it where you will see it often

Take a walk outdoors

If you have the energy, drive to a local park and take a walk in the woods – research has shown the forest to have a healing affect on the body

Bake or cook a special healthy treat for yourself (it’s OK to share).

Grab your journal and write 25 positive things about you and your life.  I know you can do it!

Make a healthful smoothie.  My favorite combination is:  blueberries, apple, avocado, hemp seeds, celery, cucumber, greens and homemade almond milk.

Weather permitting go sit outside and meditate.

Sit outside in the sun for 15 minutes, soak up the rays to get an extra boost of vitamin D.

If you have a significant other, set-up a date night at home…….exchange massages, play a board game, enjoy a good meal at a table or in bed with candles.  If you don’t have the energy to cook, get take-out.  Don’t forget to use a coupon!

Go to the library and look for new media to bring home to enjoy.

Bring some nature inside……….buy a cheap boutique of flowers or better yet pick some wild flowers or cut some flowers from your yard.  A little beauty goes a long way for someone who spends a lot of time inside.

 

Until next time…………..YOU are a superhero and even superheros need to pamper themselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my kitchen with chronic illness.

macro photography of a stainless steel faucet

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

 

When you are ill, you still need to eat.  Nourishing our bodies with real food is one important way to stay as healthy as we can.  For me, meal prep, well actually all kitchen activities are exhausting.  From food gathering to kitchen clean-up, it all wears me out and makes me want/need to take a nap.

There have been times when I wanted quick fixes in the kitchen.  Overwhelmed with life,  dealing with chronic illnesses, being a wife, a mother, and all of the work that entails, I physically couldn’t do it all and something had to give.  Well, I gave in to the wrong things.  I should have let the laundry go, let the cleaning go……..it was going to get messy again in about 13 minutes anyway.  Nope, I picked the worse thing to let go…………food.  I tried hitting the easy button.  I did my best to still eat a healthy diet in comparison to the SAD (standard American diet) most people were consuming but I short changed my health by taking too many short cuts in the kitchen.  In my opinion, when you are chronically ill food MUST be a high priority, right after your spiritual life.

In the kitchen I am slow, it physically hurts to bend down, and at times it hurts to carry a pot or a frying pan.  So I have tried to work around my physical limitations and make things easier for me, even though it makes my kitchen look crowded and not aesthetically pleasing. I had to give up having things look pretty and organized so the kitchen could be more functional for me.

Here are a few things I did to make the kitchen more functional.

1  –  I got rid of things that I didn’t use.  It is physically exhausting for me to be searching for things that I need.  De-cluttering my kitchen made space for all of the items I use on a regular basis in easy to find uncrowded places.

2  –  I keep all of the pots and pans that I regularly use on top of the stove.  No bending down wasting more precious energy.

3  –  Kitchen appliances that I or my family uses on a regular basis are kept on the counter at all times, this includes a microwave, crock pot, and a blender.

4  –  Everything else that I use on a regular basis is within an easy reach.  Nothing is kept on a high shelf, or a in a low, out-of-the-way cabinet making it a circus performance to get to it.

I know these things sound so simple and you are probably doing all the same things too.  But I have found through my YEARS and years of dealing with chronic illness, you need to be kind to yourself and set up your home in a way that works best for you no matter how it looks to an outsider.  This is true whether or not you are married, have children, or are a single person.  It is harder to do when you have to think about the needs of others in your household, but it is vitally important that you do what needs to be done to help you.  So, if you need a twin bed in the family room because you need to lie down while hanging out with the family, who cares how it looks!  You need a big bulletin board in the dining room to remind you to do certain tasks, put it there!  Those that love you get it………it took me way too long to figure this out.

So……back to the kitchen.  Set up your kitchen in a way that makes food preparation as easy as possible.  Make it functional, whether it looks “pretty” or not.  A functional kitchen makes a healthier you.

How do you make your kitchen more functional?

Until next time, YOU are a superhero and healthy food is your fuel!

Money saving tips.

money pink coins pig

Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

 

Do you ever feel that your money is not your own?  For me, it seems as if most of the money goes to treating my CI one way or another: special foods, supplements, medication, and medical bills.  Over the years I have had to stretch our resources so bills (especially those darn medical bills!) can be paid.  I have also learned that every little bit of saving helps, small expenses can add up quickly.  So here are a few things I do to stretch a dollar.  I would LOVE to hear yours!

Reuse (cleaned) plastic zip lock bags as long as they did not previously hold meat or eggs.

Reuse (cleaned) aluminum foil as long as it did not cover meat/cheese/eggs.

Turn off lights every time you leave a room.

Plug electrical devices into power strips, turn off power strips at night.

Run dishwasher on shortest cycle for each load.

No cable TV.

Cook from scratch as much as possible- bulk ingredients are often cheaper than prepackaged foods.

Purchase meat in bulk.

Eat less meat.

Buy as many products as possible from a dollar store — price compare per unit.

Purchase clothing from thrift stores.

Shop end of season sales for clothing.

Combine errands (this is to save both gas money and personal energy!).

Keep meals simple.

Eat leftovers.

Eat out only on special occasions.

Use coupons when eating out.

Take advantage of free grocery store downloads (Kroger, K-Mart, Giant Eagle).

If possible, shop at more than one store.

Cut up empty cereal/cracker bags into sheets to use as waxed paper.

Drink mostly water.

Set grocery budget and stick to it.

Check clearance grocery section first.

Purchase bulk foods that have a long shelf life.

Get rid of all memberships and subscriptions that are not regularly used.

Use plastic grocery sacks as trash bags for small waste cans.

Use empty plastic/glass food containers as storage tubs for leftovers.

Use mesh produce bags tied in knots as a scrub pad for dishes.

Use a small dry erase board on the outside of fridge to write down leftovers waiting inside – cross off when consumed.

Save brown paper that comes in delivered packages to wrap own packages.

Save the cotton from bottles of supplements for cosmetic use.

Turn off  stove/oven when food is almost done, let it continue cooking/baking.

Open shades in winter to let the sun in and warm up the rooms.

Close shades in the summer to keep the sun out and keep rooms cooler.

Use the library to check out free books, movies and take classes.

Install led lights as bulbs go out.

Send away for all rebates immediately.

Shop discount grocery stores.

Use cash whenever possible – you spend less money.

Eat as healthy as possible so you can feel as good as possible.

When shopping on-line always look for discount codes first.

Purchase used when possible.

Cut up old clothing that can’t be donated into rags.

Use rags to save on paper towels.

Use Walmart’s saving catcher program.

Sign-up for stores’ reward programs.

Use both sides of the paper.

Use printer mistakes as scratch paper for kids’ drawings.

Pay bills on-line.

Send postcards vs. greeting cards.

Purchase generic foods when possible.

Request generic drugs when possible.

Certain medications are free at: Winn-Dixie, Meijer, Publix, Reasor’s Foods, Price ChopperHarvey’s and BI-LO.

Walmart has a list of $4.00 medications.

Visit local parks as a free source of entertainment.

Make your drinks of choice at home.

Save and reuse gift bags.

Run dishwasher only when full.

If clothes are lightly soiled wash in cold on the shortest cycle possible.

Wash laundry in cold when possible.

Hang up clothing to dry, saves wear and tear on clothing.

If you purchase juice, buy it frozen and add extra water when mixing.

Take recycling to a drop off center – no longer pay for curbside pickup.

Purchase all wrapping paper after Christmas, make sure to get some solid colors that can be used for other occasions.

Cut-up and freeze produce before it goes bad……perfect for smoothies.

If you use milk, try powdered.

Once the toothpaste tube appears empty, cut the bottom off to get to what is left.

When no more shampoo will come out of the bottle, add water and shake and instant shampoo again.

If you buy soda, cheaper to purchase a 2-liter than a single bottle at check out.

Take a thermos of water and snack with you when you run errands, it keeps you from going through a drive-thru.

Put all loose change into a container to save for a special occasion or purchase.

Purchase nonperishable food items in bulk such as beans, rice and oatmeal.

Get free food grade buckets from Walmart’s deli counter for storage.

De-clutter your home so you know what you have, avoiding duplicate purchases.

Clean out and organize your freezer so you know what you have.

Clean out your pantry – makes it easier to know what you have on hand so you don’t over purchase.

Eat what you freeze before it goes bad.

Stuff unusable socks with plastic grocery bags and put at the bottom of doors to keep out drafts.

Pay bills on time to avoid late fees (this may not always be possible).

Carry a small notebook as a price book – keep track of prices/unit so you know if you are getting a good deal or not.

If you have a garage, clean it out so your vehicle can be kept inside, save gas from having to warm it up in winter.

Comparison shop when purchasing supplements.  You can usually find them cheaper than the prices at your health care professional at places like Amazon, Vitacost, Swanson, The Vitamin Shoppe, and  Mountain Rose Herbs just to name a few.  If you sign-up for a company’s newsletter you will usually receive a coupon code.

Floor models, open boxes and things about to expire are always cheaper, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount on these items.

Shopping at the end of the day at garage sales will save you even more money – people don’t want to haul all their stuff somewhere else.

Don’t purchase something just because it is a good deal, make sure you need it.

Comparison shop for car insurance, cell phones, trash and internet service and other monthly expenses or even call your current providers to see if there is a cheaper plan.

Bring your own bags – some stores charge for bags and others give you a small discount if you bring your own.

If someone asks, request gift cards as presents to your favorite restaurants or stores.

Grown any of the food you consume – even apartments have a space for one pot in which you can grow herbs or a tomato plant.

 

So, how do you save money?

……………..Until next time, YOU are a superhero and saving money is a super power!