Category Archives: Kids

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun

I am always looking for fun and affordable places to take the kids– and if they have fun activities for adults too, then that’s even better!  So I was pretty excited to find Make Believe, located in Parma.

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

When you walk into Make Believe, there is a sign that tells you all about the world of imagination that you are entering.  Each area is set up to be an imaginary world to explore:

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

For the Grown-Ups

This place is definitely set up to be fun for kids, it is also set up with adults in mind too.  While the kids are playing, parents can visit the Lollipop Bistro.

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

Don’t let the name fool you… you can order wine and beer here– and the list is pretty extensive too!  There is also a lounge area by the front entrance that has massaging chairs, several televisions hanging up, and lots of sofas, chairs, and tables to sit back and enjoy your drink while your kids have fun!  Seriously, I think you could probably make a date-night out of taking the kids to Make Believe!

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

So besides the cool area for adults, one of the first things that I noticed when we got there was how clean it was.  Now, I was there on a #hosted visit, so I got a tour and some behind-the-scenes info… While I was there, I found out that they really focus on cleaning, and it shows!  Make Believe feels and smells clean– even the bathrooms are clean!  If you have been to enough of these types of fun zones for kids, you know exactly what I am talking about regarding the cleanliness.  Some places have sticky floors, you just feel like your kids will get sick from all the germs that they picked up and you really don’t want to have to use the restroom.  That is definitely not the case with Make Believe.  Make Believe was Clean. Clean. Super clean.

Ballocity

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

Lots of fun to be had climbing around in here: balls popping around, climbing in three levels of tunnels, and ending with a big slide!  Parents can even go in with small children– and that’s definitely something that you can’t do in most of these types of play zones!

Arcade

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

Kids big and small can enjoy the arcade games… you might even win some tickets to cash in at the Treasure Chest prize center!

High Ropes Course

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

The high ropes course is suspended 15 feet in the air, above the arcade and laser tag areas.  This was definitely a favorite and the kids probably spent an hour climbing around on the ropes course.  Adults are welcome to take part in this activity as well, but don’t forget to wear your athletic shoes (no socks or flip flops allowed).  Each area has employees running the attraction, but the Make Believe employees are especially helpful in this area– if your child gets stuck or scared, one of the workers will be right there to help out.

Ninja Wall/ Rock Climbing Wall

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

Scale the wall like a ninja or climb up one of the sides… this will definitely test your physical fitness.

Laser Tag

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

Laser tag is multi-level and has metal grates in the floors that you can shoot opponents through.  Glow-in-the dark paint and scenery make this a really fun area!

Bumper Cars

IMG_0925These bumper cars are easy to operate (my 5-year-old hopped right on and rode around in it with no problem at all!) and the impact is a bit softer than what you might remember from the old-style bumper cars at the county fair… these bumper cars are basically surrounded by a large inner tube to absorb the impact, not hard rubber that has no-give.

Mini Bowling

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

 

Party Time

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

There are several sizes of party rooms and different themes, ranging from medieval times to outer space, to a room with a disco ball…click here for more information on what Make Believe offers for parties.

 

Make Believe in Parma: Northeast Ohio Family Fun // Money Savvy Living

 

We had a blast!  Plan your trip to Make Believe today…

#MakeBeleiveParma #NEOFamilyFun #familyfun

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp: A Review

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp: A Review

My son loves to play soccer.  He started out playing in the school’s recreation league, but this past spring decided to play in the travel soccer league.  While all of his coaches have been great, we knew that we wanted to get in a little extra training over the summer with a soccer camp— and that’s when we found Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp.

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp: A Review // Money Savvy Living

I had already registered my son, Chase, for British Soccer Camp when a friend told me that their kids had done it last year and they thought it was great— a good reference from a personal friend is always a good sign!  And our experience turned out to be a very positive one as well… starting out with security.  Each child had to be signed in and signed out by the parent with the coach.  No matter what program my kids participate in, I appreciate knowing that they are safe.

Review of the daily activities

Every day, the kids started out practicing foot skills.  This was a very effective part of the program, because just after one week of this camp, I have noticed an improvement in my son’s control of the ball as he plays.

practicing foot skills

practicing foot skills

Chase said that one of the new skills that he was taught during British Soccer Camp was the Ronaldo Chop… if you don’t know how to do that, here’s a video to give you a quick overview of the move:

Each day there was also small group training sessions.  Since there were two coaches, they split the group, part of the time, between younger and older kids to work with the kids more at their level.

small group instruction

small group instruction

During the foot skills and small group instruction, the coaches gave direction for improvement and encouragement for skills that were well-performed.  Being able to work with the kids in this small group setting and give specific instruction in a positive manner also boosted Chase’s confidence throughout the week.

Toward the end of each day, they played a “World Cup” game.  Each player got to choose a country and could earn points in the game for that country.  So, focusing on fun, while learning, was a very prominent feature of the program.

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp: A Review // Money Savvy Living

final ceremony to conclude the week of soccer camp

At the very end of the week, there was a ceremony to hand out certificates and the coaches gave a bit of encouragement to each player as they came forward to receive the certificate of completion of the program.

Overall, we had a very positive experience with Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps and would certainly attend again!

Chase with the soccer camp coaches

Chase with the soccer camp coaches

How to enroll your child in British Soccer Camp

If you want to enroll your child in British Soccer Camp, it’s not too late!  There are still plenty of camps available into fall as well… you can click here to find a local soccer camp— and don’t forget to use code CAMP17 to get all the freebies!

Freebies that we got by using CAMP17 code upon registration.

Freebies that we got by using CAMP17 code upon registration.

Teaching foot skills and traditional soccer techniques in an encouraging and fun way was a focus of the coaches— so the kids are learning and having fun!

I asked Chase about what he liked best:

“My favorite part was the relays.  We practiced foots skills and we also got to compete.  Everything we did was fun!”

I know that he had fun because when I’d pick him up each day, he told me how fast time went by… and we all know that time flies when you’re having fun!

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp: A Review // Money Savvy Living

*This post has been sponsored by US Family Guide and it’s advertiser, Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps.  Product review and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone. #ad

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp: Register Now + Freebies

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp: Register Now + Freebies

Do you have a child that loves to play soccer?  If you do, then participating in a Challenger Sports British Soccer camp is a must-do activity this summer… and if you register now, you can gain access to a lot of fun freebies!

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps // Money Savvy Living

 

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps // Money Savvy Living

British Soccer Camps are the most popular soccer camp in the US. With an innovative curriculum that develops skills, speed, and confidence in players ages 3-18, The British Soccer Camps provide boys and girls with the rare opportunity to receive high-level soccer coaching from a team of international experts right in the heart of their own community.

In addition to teaching new skills and improving game performance, each British Soccer Camp provides lessons in character development, cultural education and, of course, is a ton of fun!

Sounds like fun, right!?  But it gets even better!  When you register your child for one of the soccer camps, they will also receive over $100 in freebies: FREE SOCCER JERSEY, SOCCER BALL, T-SHIRT & POSTER with code: CAMP17 

 

Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps // Money Savvy Living

Enroll you child in a British Soccer Camp today and remember to use code CAMP17 to get a FREE SOCCER JERSEY, SOCCER BALL, T-SHIRT & POSTER!

 

*This post has been sponsored by Challenger Sports British Soccer Camps.  Product review and opinions expressed in this post are mine alone. #ad

Kids Activity: Make Slime Using Cornstarch and Water

Cornstarch and Water Science Experiment | Kids Activity | Money Savvy Living

 

Do your kids like to get their hands messy?  Of course they do!  So that is what is so great about this project—your kids can get messy, and maybe even learn something too!  Fun science experiment!

 

Here is what you will need:

  • cornstarch
  • water
  • measuring cups
  • large bowl
  • plastic fork or spoon
  • food coloring *optional
  • plastic bag (for storage and later disposal)

 

Directions:

Mix ½ cup cornstarch with ¼ cup water.  Combine until the mixture is somewhat stiff, yet gooey.  You can add a bit more cornstarch or water depending on consistency.  What you are looking for is a substance that acts as both a solid and a liquid.

 

 

The cornstarch and water mixture acts like a solid sometimes and a liquid at other times. This concoction is an example of a suspension – a mixture of two substances, one of which is finely divided and dispersed in the other. In the case of the cornstarch quicksand, it’s a solid dispersed in a liquid.

When you punch the cornstarch quicksand, you force the long starch molecules closer together. The impact of this force traps the water between the starch chains to form a semi-rigid structure. When the pressure is released, the cornstarch flows again.

 

All fluids have a property known as viscosity – the measurable thickness or resistance to flow in a fluid. Honey and ketchup are liquids that have a high resistance to flow. Water has a low viscosity.  Sir Isaac Newton said that viscosity is a function of temperature. So, if you heat honey, the viscosity is less than that of cold honey. The cornstarch and water mixture and quicksand are both examples of non-Newtonian fluids because their viscosity changes when stress or a force is applied, not when heat is applied.

 

Solid to liquid… apply a bit of force… and back to a solid.

 

 

Very cool.  Very messy.  Your kids will be entertained for hours!

 

*Make sure to dispose of this concoction in a plastic storage bag.  You DO NOT want to pour this down the drain, as it could cause a blockage.

Gifts Your Kids Really Want for Christmas

Christmas gifts your kids really want | Money Savvy LIving

Wondering what to get your kids for Christmas?  Get some great deals online and avoid the crowds this year.  Great gift ideas for small kids through pre-teen: sports, educational, books, and more!

SPORTS

VIDEO GAMES

Super Mario Bros Wii U

kids super mario bros wiiuNew Super Mario Bros. U

 

You can really never go wrong with LEGOS:

Legos
LEGO Disney Princess Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle

LEGO Minecraft 21116 Crafting Box

LEGO Star Wars 75043 AT-AP

 

Holiday Barbie 2015

Holiday Barbie 2015 Barbie Collector 2015 Holiday Doll

 

PAW PATROL is set to be some of the most demanded items for young kids:

Paw Patrol Collage

Nickelodeon Paw Patrol Pop Up Game

Nickelodeon Paw Patrol – Look-Out Playset, Vehicle and Figure

Paw Patrol Action Pack Rescue Team

Paw Patrol Giant Puzzle (46-Piece)

 

EDUCATIONAL

kids star wars planetariumStar Wars Science – Death Star Planetarium

kids star wars r2 d2 bop itBop It! R2-D2 Star Wars Game

kids spelling game

The Learning Journey Match It! Spelling

kids alphabet memory gameThe Learning Journey Match It! Alphabet Memory

 

kids color shapes puzzle

The Learning Journey Lift and Learn Colors and Shapes Puzzle

 

kids gear set Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears!

kids brain quest
Brain Quest Smart Game

kids states trivia
Professor Noggin’s The Fifty States

kids science game
Educational Trivia Card Game – Professor Noggin’s Wonders of Science

 

BOOKS

Popular books for Kids | Money Savvy Living

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series 1-8
Diary of a Wimpy Kid 1-8 Complete Set

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 10
Diary of a Wimpy Kid #10: Old School

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 9
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

Are You My Mother?
Are You My Mother? (Bright & Early Board Books(TM))

Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web (Trophy Newbery)

Pat the Bunny
Pat the Bunny (Touch and Feel Book)

Magic School Bus Series
The Magic School Bus Chapter Book (20 Book Set)

Tuck Everlasting
Tuck Everlasting

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

 

*This article does contain affiliate links, so if you choose to purchase through here, I will make a commission, although it does not increase the cost to you, the consumer. However, I highly recommend that you get an activity tracker whether you purchase through here or elsewhere.

 

Ultimate Guide to Summer Fun: Discounts for 250+ Attractions Nationwide

Summer Fun Discounts 2015 | Money Savvy Living

If you are looking for some summer fun that the entire family can enjoy, check out this list of over 250 attractions, theme parks, and water parks offering special discounts in over 35 states nationwide.  As a U.S. Family Guide blog member, my readers can enjoy savings by clicking on the links and printing coupons or codes to save money at each of the attractions below:

2015 Theme Park, Waterpark and Summer Attraction

 

 

Printable Coupons and Promo Codes, by state:
Alabama

USA Triathlon 2015 Splash & Dash

 

Arizona

AZ Air Time Scottsdale

Kiwanis Park Recreation Center

Arizona Museum for Youth

SEA LIFE Arizona Aquarium

Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium

INSPIRE Entertainment

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Tucson

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Phoenix

Carrie Curran Art Studios

Arizona Rafting

 

California

California’s Great America

Gilroy Gardens

Hollywood Wax Museum

Madame Tussauds Hollywood

Newport Landing Whale Watching

Pirate’s Dinner Adventure

Raging Waters

Waterworld California

Mulligan Family Fun Center

Guinness World Records Museum

Bladium Sports & Fitness Club

BounceU – Orange

Downtown LA Walking Tours

Fillmore & Western Railway

 

Colorado

Copper Mountain Resort Association

Elitch Gardens Theme and Water Park

Water World

Pirates Cove

The Splash at Fossil Trace

Boondocks Fun Center

Dinosaur Resource Center

Children’s Museum of Denver

Butterfly Pavilion

Downtown Aquarium

Evolve Action Sports Park

A+ Athletics

Adventure Golf and Raceway

RaftColorado.net

Earth Treks Climbing Center

Broken Tee Golf Course

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

American Paintball Coliseum

Grand Adventures

SK Horses

Putter’s Pride Mini Golf

FatCats Bowling Centers

Putting Edge Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf & Arcade

Snow Mountain Ranch

Dart Warz

Unser Karting & Events

Bladium Sports & Fitness Club

K1 Speed

Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

Denver Firefighters Museum

Blitz Paintball

Silverthorne Recreation Center

Friends of Dinosaur Ridge

Gateway Park Fun Center

 

Connecticut

Flight Trampoline Park

My Gym Enfield

My Gym Glastonbury

My Gym of West Hartford

Lakeside Pottery Ceramic School and Studio

 

Florida

Adventure Landing

Adventure Landing & Shipwreck Island Waterpark

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park

Bluefoot Pirate Adventures

Everglades Holiday Park

GameTime

Putting Edge Glow in the Dark Mini Golf

Sky Zone Fort Lauderdale

Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

 

Georgia

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Lane Southern Orchards

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Monster Mini Golf

Wild Adventures Theme Park

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Smoke Rise Summer Camp

 

Hawaii

Hawaii Game Truck

My Gym Kailua

 

Idaho

FatCats Bowling Centers

 

Illinois

Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm

Go Bananas LLC

Jump America Indoor Trampoline Park

Odyssey Fun World

Pump It Up Chicago

Putting Edge Glow in the Dark Mini Golf

Safari Land

Discovery Center Museum

Exploration Station

My Gym Aurora

My Gym Buffalo Grove

My Gym Chicago

My Gym River Forest

 

Iowa

Monkey Joe’s Of Des Moines

 

Kansas

All Star Adventures

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City

SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center Overland Park

Wichita Riding Academy

 

Kentucky

Gattitown Lexington

 

Louisiana

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Steamboat Natchez

 

Maryland

Earth Treks Climbing Center

Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C.

Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

My Gym Bethesda

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center of Timonium

My Gym Owings Mills

 

Massachusetts

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Classic Harbor Line – Boston

On Location Tours

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center

Rock Spot Climbing

 

Michigan

Bavarian Inn Lodge

Berlin Raceway

High Velocity Sports

Putting Edge Glow-in-the-Dark Mini Golf & Arcade

 

Missouri

Castle of Chaos

Hollywood Wax Museum

SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium

The Bretts

The Magic House, St. Louis Children’s Museum

America’s Incredible Pizza Company – St. Louis

America’s Incredible Pizza Company – Springfield

Cool Crest Family Entertainment Center

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Kansas City

Putting Edge Glow in the Dark Mini Golf

Shoot for the Stars Mini-Golf

World’s Largest Toy Museum & Attraction

The Little Gym of Fenton

Mad Science of St. Louis

 

Montana

Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

 

Nebraska

My Gym Childrens Fitness Center – Lincoln

 

Nevada

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas

BounceU – Henderson

 $5 Off Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus – XTREME

 

New Hampshire

Liquid Planet Water Park And Zip Lines

Water Country

 

New Jersey

Wild West City

International Sports Skating & Fun Centre & Deptford Skating & Fun Center

Pump It Up – Roselle Park

Pump It Up – Freehold

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Glen Rock

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Westfield

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Manalapan

 

New Mexico

Tours of Old Town

 

New York

Adventure Landing – Greece

Adventure Landing – Tonawanda

Adventure Speedway

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Classic Harbor Line

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester

Madame Tussauds New York

On Location Tours

The Ride

New York Baby Show

Bounce Magic

Gamin Ride

My Gym Children’s Fitness – Stony Brook

The Little Gym of Kingston

 

North Carolina

Adventure Landing – Gastonia

Adventure Landing – Winston Salem

Adventure Landing – Raleigh

Adventure Landing – Pineville

 

Ohio

Magic Mountain Fun Centers – Polaris

Magic Mountain Fun Centers – East

The Beach Waterpark

Ohio Renaissance Festival

Akron Fossils & Science Center

Family Karate

 

Oklahoma

Andy Alligator’s Water Park

America’s Incredible Pizza Company

Bouncin Craze

Bouncin Craze II

 

Oregon

USA Triathlon 2015 Splash & Dash

 

Pennsylvania

Flight Trampoline Park

Fun Slides Carpet Skatepark

Monster Mini Golf

Sunset Mini Golf

Pittsburgh’s PA Motor Speedway

Slide The City

BounceU – Exton

BounceU – Warrendale

Snapology Discovery Center – South Hills

Snapology of East Pittsburgh

Gymkhana Gymnastics

Soccer Shots

The Valley Skating Center

Color Me Mine Pottery Studio

 

Rhode Island

Rock Spot Climbing

 

South Carolina

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

Hollywood Wax Museum

Outbreak

Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry

Hollywild Animal Park

My Gym Northeast Columbia

 

Tennessee

Castle of Chaos

Guinness World Records Museum

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

Hollywood Wax Museum

Ripley’s 5D Moving Theater

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium

Ripley’s Davy Crockett Mini-Golf

Ripley’s Haunted Adventure

Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze

Ripley’s Old MacDonald’s Farm Mini-Golf

Dickson Stampede Days Rodeo

America’s Incredible Pizza Company

 

Texas

Adventure Landing

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

Cascade Caverns

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Moody Gardens

Natural Bridge Caverns

Schlitterbahn

SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium

Shore Club Volente Beach

Splashtown San Antonio

Trinity Forest Adventure Park

Woodlawn Theatre

Amazing Jake’s Plano

America’s Incredible Pizza Company

Gatti’s Pizza

Gattitown

Inflatable Wonderland

Nickelrama Arcade

Drama Kids International

Olympian Fencing Club

 

Utah

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

FatCats Bowling Centers – Salt Lake City

FatCats Bowling Centers – Ogden

FatCats Bowling Centers – Provo

This Is The Place Heritage Park

Boondocks Fun Center

Discovery Gateway: The Children’s Museum of Utah

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center – Layton

Adrift Adventures

 

Virginia

Flight Trampoline Park

My Gym of Hampton Roads

Mad Science of Hampton Roads

 

Washington

Amazing Urban Scavenger Hunt

 

West Virginia

West Virginia Mountain Rail Adventures

 

Wisconsin

Blue Harbor Resort & Spa

Door County Trolley

Egg Harbor Fun Park

Gravity Trails

Badger Bouncers

Sky Zone Milwaukee

Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley

 

Homemade Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

cin ornaments1

You won’t believe how simple these ornaments are to make… and they fill your home with the wonderful scent of cinnamon! These are a great craft for kids to make. Not only can you put them on your own tree for years to come and remember the fun Christmas memories of making them, but they make great gifts for the grandparents too.

My kids just love helping make these– and we make some nearly every year!  The good news is, they are pretty inexpensive to make.  I bought generic cinnamon (2.5 oz) for $0.88 and the name brand cinnamon was $4.68!  So right away, that is a savings of 80% on ingredients!  To make 24 of these ornaments only costs around $3.

Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 Ingredient recipe
2 c. applesauce
2 c. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. Elmer’s school glue

That’s all you need! Just mix together until dough forms, roll out (to about 1/4 inch thickness) and use your favorite cookie cutter shapes to make your ornaments. Just remember, if your dough is sticking as you roll it out, “flour” your rolling pin with cinnamon.

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce Christmas Ornaments | Money Savvy Living

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce Christmas Ornaments | Money Savvy Living

Once your ornaments are cut out, you must use a toothpick, a craft stick, or even a straw to poke a hole in the top so that you can put a ribbon through to hang on tree. Or, if you want to string them for garland, you will want to place 2 holes in the middle of the ornament, at least 1/2 inch apart.

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce Christmas Ornaments | Money Savvy Living

Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce Christmas Ornaments | Money Savvy Living

 

Optional:  lightly press glitter onto the ornaments while the dough is still moist and let it dry into the dough for decoration.

Once the ornaments have dried for at least 24-48 hours, use glue to decorate after the ornaments with glitter, sequins, or whatever your choose.

Put ribbons through the holes and decorate your tree!

 

Dec 2012 045

Merry Christmas!

*Money Savvy Tip*
Shop at the dollar store or an overstock store for these ingredients, or even ask your local grocery store for damaged containers of applesause or cinnamon, you may be able to save a bit of money on these items. Also be sure to look for generic brands of these ingredients for extra savings.

Why I Gave in and Finally got an Elf on the Shelf for My Kids

DSC_0024

I really dislike the Elf on the Shelf.

I don’t know why, but I find this mischievously smiling elf to be super-annoying. For the last few years, my Facebook feed have been filled up with all sorts of pictures of this elf visiting houses. Every day, he is doing something different and I get to know about it—whether I want to know or not.

I don’t want to sound cynical here, but I don’t really care that your elf, named “Elf,” undecorated the Christmas tree and moved it across the living room, or unrolled 10 rolls of toilet paper to make a snow village, or wrote a magical message in colored soap all over the bathroom mirror, or poops out toothpaste, or anything else he does.

Seriously, maybe I am just lazy, but planning out those types of scenarios, taking the time to actually make it look like he is doing this type of mischief, then cleaning up after this little fiend—well, that’s just way too involved for me. I mean, I already have three kids that I have to clean up after. Why would I want to give myself more work?

I was doing pretty good keeping this secret from the kids too. Until one day my oldest son heard other kids at school talking about an elf visiting their homes—and all the places he had been hiding and the stuff he’d been doing.

Darn it, I was busted. Now I had to make an excuse for why we didn’t have one. So I told the kids that it sounds like the elf gets into mischief and we don’t want an elf coming to our house and making messes for us to clean up, do we? Lucky for me, one of the moms volunteering at school that day told my son that he must have been good because well-behaved kids don’t get elf visits.

Whew! I figured I was off the hook for good now.

Then, last year, this wretched little elf landed at their cousins’ house. Now, I felt obligated to get them one, so I did, at the end of the season last year….and he made his grand entrance this year the day after Thanksgiving.  I must say, the looks on their faces was worth it when they came downstairs in the morning to find that an elf had finally visited our home!  Their eyes were bright with excitement.  My six-year-old looked at me and confidently proclaimed, “Oh yeah… Santa’s real.”

EontheSCollage

However, this elf is not going to make messes for me to clean up—if he does, I will for sure send him back to the North Pole early. Maybe he’ll bring some Christmas treats. Maybe he’ll even leave some messages about the true meaning of Chrismas—the birth of Jesus, the gift of giving, and helping others in need.  He might even bring the kids Polar Express Tickets… yes, I know, I am going from despising this elf to making him a Christmas hero…

It wasn’t just out of obligation that I got one though. Each year, since my oldest son started school, I have seen the innocence fade. From proclamations about how Santa can get to everyone’s house in just one night to “the fifth graders said Santa isn’t real,” to the reasoned statement “it is impossible for Santa to visit every house and get in and out so quickly” and “Do you have separate wrapping paper that is for Santa gifts?” When he asks me if Santa is real, I avoid answering the question directly. “He leaves you presents, doesn’t he?” I usually remind him.

This year may be the last year to keep the magic alive. It may be the only year left that all three of my kids will immediately obey at the mere mention of the threat of getting on the naughty list. It may be the last year that they insist on leaving out milk and cookies for Santa, and even carrots for the reindeer. It may be the last year that they write letters to Santa actually believing they make it to the North Pole. It makes me sad that it may be the last year that they will get up at the crack of dawn (although that is no earlier than usual around here!) and run downstairs to see what Santa left and then jump up and down in excitement.

I am just not ready to give that up. I know as they find out, my older sons will play along for their little brother, but it won’t be the same. So if getting a silly elf can keep the wonder and amazement going and allows my boys to be “little” for one more year, then count me in.

I have officially crossed over to a place I never thought I’d go… Elf on the Shelf land.

 

 

Making S’More Memories

smores

It never ceases to amaze me that some of the things that my kids get the most excited about in life are so simple. I mean, if my husband and I say that we are going to get a little fire going in the fire pit, the kids jump up and down likes it’s Christmas… well almost just like that. None the less, they excitedly jump around and start yelling for s’mores. Now why is this so exciting? We make s’mores all the time using the microwave to slightly melt the chocolate and puff up the marshmallows.

But that just doesn’t compare to the experience of making s’mores over the open fire.

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Besides the fact that they get to have extremely sharp roasting sticks, which is a novelty in and of itself for them, they get to “play with fire.” As you can imagine, having three boys, I try to avoid sharp objects… and fire… and sugar, the other major component of this. Maybe that is why it is so exciting. This combines sugar, sharp objects, and fire– all of the forbidden elements of my little boys’ lives.

Of course, it wouldn’t be as exciting if someone didn’t catch a marshmallow on fire either. In fact, I think that we may lose as many marshmallows to being consumed by fire as what actually end up edible. My middle son always says that he didn’t mean for the marshmallow catch on fire, but really, when he holds the marshmallow a bit too close to the flame, and it actually does catch on fire, I think he is secretly satisfied with himself.

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Even though we did this several times this summer, and now into fall, there is something special about the family gathering together around the fire pit, talking, laughing, and just enjoying a little family time. It’s not a big event, but it’s fun. It’s not expensive, bit it’s memorable.

I hope that when my boys grow up and have families of their own, and when they roast marshmallows over a fire to make s’mores, they can’t help but be drawn back in time to the memories made this year.

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Even though this ends up to be a sticky, face-and-clothes-covered-in-chocolate-kind-of-mess for my trio, I can’t help but be a bit amused by it all.

Spending time together as a family is what it is all about– making memories together by just being together and actually enjoying being around each other.  There are so many ways to spend quality family time together, and it doesn’t cost anything:

  • Movie night– my kids love to pick a movie that we watch together as a family– of course, enjoyed with some popcorn and M&M’s!
  • Game night– I don’t know why, but it is something special for the kids when my husband and I play the Wii or xbox with them.  They play all the time by themselves or even with each other, but they get so excited for us to play with them.
  • Picnic in the park– go to a local park.  Let the kids play, then take lunch, a snack, or just popsicles to enjoy.
  • Ice cream sundae bar– letting the kids have ice cream is one thing, but let them top it with hot fudge, caramel, sprinkles, whipped cream, etc… it is all of a sudden an exciting event.
  • Camp out at home– yes, this one is going to probably have your back hurting for a couple of days (at least it did for me!).  We set up a tent in the basement in the winter and put sleeping bags in it and the kids loved it!  I loved that they had fun, but I also loved sleeping in my bed the next night.  It makes it worth it though that a year later, they are still talking about the camp out in the basement and wondering when we can do another.
  • Outdoor fun– take a hike, go bike riding, play basketball, soccer… you get the idea.

I see for myself, and any parent will tell you, that the time that you have with your children flies by all too quickly.  Make the most of each day.  Take the time to make s’more memories.

Keepsake Journal

Keepsake Journal | Money Savvy Living

 

The best gift a Mother can receive is something made by her children. Of course, I like jewelry and flowers too! But this year, my husband bought a journal in which each child wrote a Mother’s Day message for me. He let them write whatever they wanted… totally unprompted.

 

I have to say, these sweet, heartfelt messages from my kids just make me smile:

 

Keepsake: Mother's Day Journal | Money Savvy Living

 

The idea is that for Mother’s Day, or my birthday, or any other holiday throughout the year, the boys can write a message, draw a picture or whatever they want, and I will have a journal of their messages to me over the years as they grow up. Not only is it nice to have it all compiled in one book, but no need to buy expensive cards that get misplaced or thrown away.  Saves money AND I have something homemade from my kids…. win, win.

 

It will be interesting to see how the boys’ handwriting and pictures change over the years.  I’m pretty sure one day, they will look back through this book and smile at some of the cute things they wrote when younger.

 

This keepsake journal idea would also be a great gift for Father’s Day (yes, we definitely started one for my husband too!), or for a parent or grandparent’s birthday. A gift from the heart, for any occasion, that is money savvy too, doesn’t get much better than that.

 

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