Category Archives: Family Life

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

 

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear | Money Savvy Living

 

We went on what I like to think of as a “mini-vacation” this past weekend. We took the boys out of school a couple hours early and headed for Chicago.

 

Since the kids have been born, I have to admit that I am not much of a vacationer. It. Is. So. Much. Work. Yes, work… not relaxing. Work. It really seems like I need to take half of the house with me in order to be prepared for anything that we may even possibly think about needing. You know, like diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, Band-Aids, extra clothing… now that they are getting bigger this is getting a little better…

 

We have gone on a few vacations though—to Disneyworld and the beach, and things went well. For the most part, the kids have always done well. Of course, we do hear the typical things that you would expect to come from the back seat: “Are we there yet?” “I need to use the bathroom!” “Mom, he’s touching my stuff!” Did I mention we have THREE boys?

 

Even though the kids do pretty well and are excited when we go on vacation, I still don’t really feel relaxed though. I mean, it’s a lot of pressure to make sure all three kids actually stay with us so that we don’t come home with only two… or just one…

 

The boys standing by a huge Lego giraffe at Legoland

The boys standing by a huge Lego giraffe at LEGOLAND

 

So on our mini-vacation, this past weekend, we went to Chicago and tried to make it fun for the kids—riding the train into downtown, going to Skydeck Ledge, visiting Legoland… even getting to try authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

 

Yes, we were actually all brave enough to step out over the city at the Skydeck Ledge (photo via: theskydeckledge.com)

Yes, we were actually all brave enough to step out over the city at the Skydeck Ledge (photo via: theskydeckledge.com)

 

But the event that stood out to me this weekend was brunch at the hotel on Sunday morning. It was crowded. Really crowded. There was a long line for the waffle maker, and of course, the kids wanted waffles. There were no tables big enough for our party of five. But there was a table in the corner for two. So I asked an elderly couple sitting close by, if we could borrow a couple of chairs from their table. They indicated that no one was sitting there, so I scooted them over to our table. Ok. Now the kids could be seated while I worked on getting their breakfast and my husband could watch them to make sure no one got away. Whew. See what I mean, even just getting a table for breakfast was work. So I got the boys eggs and some cereal to be eating. Then went back up for extra plates, napkins and silverware. Work. Then back up for water and orange juice. Work. Everyone was happy—sort of, “Mom, can I please have a waffle?” Of course, the little guy only wanted pancakes. And there were no pancakes.

 

By this time, the line died down for waffles, so I put some batter in the waffle maker and even got my husband some eggs and juice to be eating while he made sure no one escaped. Finally, we had a waffle. So everyone was happy. Time to relax and eat my breakfast. Then the little guy spilled his water—and started to cry. I told him it was ok… And as I tried to make my way around the table (it was very crowded, so I had to go past that elderly couple again), that sweet elderly lady stopped me and said,

“You’re a good mom.”

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear | Money Savvy Living

 

I thanked her. I should have hugged her. She will never know how much I needed to hear that. That little bit of encouragement made my day. It was all I needed to realize that this work was my life. My life with little kids that will soon be big.

 

If you see a Mom with little kids, give her a word of encouragement today. It may mean more than you know.

A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mom

A Day in the Life of a Work at Home Mom | Money Savvy Living

 

I have struggled for years to reconcile my conflicting goals of wanting to be there for my kids as a work-at-home mom and continuing to advance professionally with my career.  Notice, I say “work-at-home mom.”  Whether a mother works outside the home or not is irrelevant—she still works at home. The only difference is income.

 

I never wanted to put my kids in daycare and never have. Not because I think daycare is bad, but because I wanted to be there for them. And I have been fortunate that family members have helped watch the kids over the years when I did work.

 

When our first son was born, my husband was definitely not on board with me staying at home full time. Because I had been at my job for several years, the company that I was working for allowed me to work from home most of the time. I think that it was during this time that my husband actually started liking the fact that I was more involved at home… that meant less for him to help with when it came to dishes, laundry, and helping to make dinner when he got home from work.

 

Then our second son came along. At this point, we made the decision that I would work only part-time. Plus, getting family members to babysit two small children was not going to be as easy as it was just one… it is a lot of work.

 

So, when baby number three came along, we decided that I would stay home full time. Now, keep in mind that each of these moves for me to work less outside-of-the-home had a huge impact on our budget and finances.  We have had to make lifestyle adjustments: not eating out as much, not taking a vacation every year… but having this time with my kids—totally worth it.

 

My kids are my world and I love them with all my heart, so having the opportunity to be at home with them has been absolutely wonderful, but I still had that desire for career advancement. I just couldn’t be content to be a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t know why. After all, it is what I wanted. Even though taking care of three active little boys is a lot of work, I just didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I had a job since I was 16 years old. At this point, I really felt like part of my identity was gone.

 

So I started writing finance articles online, then I started a blog… and then something wonderful happened, I started making money for doing this! I really had no idea that it would be possible to do something that fits into my schedule that I could be paid to do something that started out as simply a means to stay relevant professionally.

 

All of this brings me to today. Today was the first day that was warm and sunny and, while my two oldest boys had to go to school, the little guy did not have preschool today… and he knew exactly what he wanted to do—go outside. And we did. For four hours. I literally had to drag him in the house for lunch. But as we did all the things that he wanted to do: ride his tricycle, went for a walk, and stopped on our walk to throw rocks in the pond, I felt so very blessed to get to enjoy this time with him, just as I have my other kids. Yes, I had other stuff I could have been doing… writing articles, doing laundry or dishes, cleaning, but that stuff was all there for me when we got back.  Those chores didn’t miss the fact that I wasn’t paying attention to them, but I’m sure my little boy would have noticed.

Having fun throwing rocks in the pond... something so simple, but look how happy he is... LIFE IS GOOD.

Having fun throwing rocks in the pond… something so simple, but look how happy he is… LIFE IS GOOD.

He actually wanted to go for a walk in the stroller-- at least I got a little exercise in too!

He actually wanted to go for a walk in the stroller– at least I got a little exercise in too!

 

I don’t want to be the parent that is just there physically. I want to be there for my kids, interacting with them and letting them know that they are more important than any of the other things that I have on the to-do list. Today was a wonderful reminder to me that LIFE. IS. GOOD.

The False Assumptions of Common Core and PARCC

PARCC practice test question

You are probably aware that Common Core testing started last week in a state-wide rollout in Ohio. For our state, it was the implementation of the PARCC test (Partnership Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers). Even if your state didn’t give the PARCC test, if you live in a state which has adopted the Common Core standards, your child may very well be receiving a very similar round of testing.

 

The Common Core math textbooks have been in schools for several years now, spreading as the accepted “new” way to teach math and adopted by many schools nationwide. As this way of teaching math has become more prevalent, parents have started speaking out.

 

As a parent—and educator, and professional—I try to keep an open mind to change. Just because we have always done things a certain way doesn’t mean that there isn’t something better out there—but it also doesn’t mean that the change isn’t for the worse either. Either way, when a change is implemented, we need to be able to look at the effects and objectively analyze the results, then make necessary adjustments.

 

But sometimes we just get change for the sake of change.

 

I have tried to rationalize the concept of Common Core math, and I absolutely embrace the need for teaching students to think critically; however, I have not been able to figure out how on earth Common Core math even comes remotely close to meeting its lofty goal of raising the standard. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does the opposite.

 

So, let’s take a look at an example question from the PARCC practice test for third graders:

Cindy is finding the quotient 27 / 9. She says, “The answer is 18 because addition is the opposite of division and 9 + 18 = 27.”
Part A: Identify the incorrect reasoning in Cindy’s statement. Enter your explanation in the space provided.
Part B: Show or explain how Cindy can correct her reasoning. Find the quotient when 27 is divided by 9. Enter your answer and your work or your explanation in the space provided.

 

Honestly, it is hard for me to know where to start. Not with solving the math problem, but with pointing out all the things that are wrong and inappropriate about this question.

 

Common Core is negatively reinforcing math concepts.

 

First of all, the wording of this question is not directly asking the child to solve the math problem—or find the quotient—with the correct quotient actually being the answer. Instead, the math problem is posed with a hypothetical Cindy getting the wrong answer, based on faulty reasoning. Let’s think about this for a second. Why are we even posing questions that have misinformation in them to students? This can be a very destructive way to teach. I can guarantee that a small percentage of students will pick up on the phrase “addition is the opposite of division” and will remember this, even though it is explained in the question as “incorrect reasoning.”

 

Let me give you an example of the selective hearing that will lead to some students gleaning the incorrect statement of “addition is the opposite of division.” The other day, my third grade son came home from school and asked to play on his ipad. I told him that he could after he had a snack and did his homework. He came over and ate his snack, then went to the living room to play his ipad. I reminded him that he needed to do his homework first. His response was, “but you said I could play my ipad.” Does this scenario sound familiar to any other parent out there? Sometimes kids hear what they want to hear… maybe they only listen carefully to part of what is being said… maybe it was because that was the last part of the sentence and it stuck with him… who knows, but it is not out of the question to think that a third grader, who is just learning multiplication and division might get confused by the wording of this question. Perhaps, an older student, who has a more firm grasp of multiplication and division would be a better group of students to present “incorrect reasoning” questions to.
Second, let’s look at what the actual question is asking the student to do: “Part A: Identify the incorrect reasoning in Cindy’s statement. Enter your explanation in the space provided.” Now, the test is actually reinforcing the incorrect reasoning by asking students to only identify the incorrect reasoning and enter it in the space provided—this part of the question is not explicitly asking the student to explain why it is wrong. It is not until Part B of the question that the student is asked to identify how Cindy can correct her reasoning. Finally, the second action item of Part B asks the student to solve the math problem of 27 divided by 9 to find the quotient.

 

Let’s make sure we are keeping this straight. The student is reinforced of faulty information in the wording of the question and then asked to identify and explain the incorrect reasoning—two times being negatively reinforced—before being asked to come up with correct reasoning as to how to solve the problem and finally coming up with the quotient.  So the tests are not positively reinforcing that a child know the correct answer, but are negatively reinforcing the concept if they don’t now why hypothetical Cindy got the question wrong.  Hmmmm…

 

My suggestion for better wording for this question for a third grader: Find the quotient 27 / 9. Show all your work or explain how you got your answer. The wording of this question asks the student to solve the math problem, positively reinforcing the concept. Asking a student to show all work or explain how they got the answer will give the teacher (or test grader) an idea of the student’s reasoning.

 

But let’s be honest, math is numbers, not writing essays. If a third grader can solve basic math facts correctly, time and time again, I don’t really think the explanation is necessary because getting a correct answer indicates that a student has basic understanding of the concept. So if the student can come up with the quotient of 3 for this question, but is unable to identify hypothetical little Cindy’s faulty reasoning or explain what she can do to correct her reasoning, do we say this student missed the question? How much credit does the student get for arriving at the correct answer, but failing to come up with a satisfactory essay for the other parts of the question? Did the teacher fail to teach multiplication and division if the student cannot come up with an adequate essay answer? Is this fairly evaluating a teacher’s ability to convey math concepts?

 

Reasoning for how to solve 27 divided by 9 and identifying strategies to do so is what goes on during classroom instruction. Really, the only person in a third grade classroom that needs to be able to identify Cindy’s incorrect reasoning and figure out what she needs to do differently, is the teacher. The TEACHER.

 

Finally, the computerized implementation of these tests assumes that all students are fully computer literate, able to seamlessly navigate between screens and understand all button functionality. I think it is safe to say that it would be a pretty accomplished feat for a third grader to be able to type with correct finger placement, let alone expecting them to toggle back and forth with the math symbol keys at the side or knowing when to flag a question for review.

 

Teaching students how to use a computer is great—and should definitely be a part of their education, integrated throughout the years, but why must we place even more pressure on students by making this the basis for high stakes testing?

 

I know there are some people out there that think something along the lines of “What’s the big deal? I was tested when I was a kid. We want to raise the standard, don’t we?” Yes, of course we want to raise the standard. Yes, standardized tests have been around for a very long time. But Common Core and PARCC are different.

 

The purpose of the PARCC testing is also different than typical standardized tests. In the past, standardized tests have been given to students every few years to benchmark education. When fully implemented, some students will be tested 12 times during a school year, which will consume several days and take 18-24 hours away from necessary classroom instruction, not to mention test prep time. The purpose, according to PARCC’s website is to now assess students, several times a year: “The PARCC states’ high quality assessments will allow parents and educators to see how children are progressing in school and whether they are on track for postsecondary success. The PARCC assessment also provides teachers with the ability to identify students who may be falling behind and need extra help.”

 

So is PARCC is telling us is that teachers do not know how to do their jobs? A teacher’s ability to assess a student throughout the year and keep them progressing is a pretty basic teaching skill. Why do we need these high stakes tests—putting unnecessary pressure on students and teachers? Why are so many teachers remaining silent when they disagree with Common Core and PARCC? Because their jobs are being threatened. So where are the unions? Why aren’t they standing up for the teachers?

 

If Common Core and high stakes testing are not acceptable or beneficial to a child’s educational process, let’s repeal them and give control back to the states and allow teachers to do what they do best—teach.

19 Action News Picked Up Our Efforts to Repeal Common Core and PARCC

Last week, I had the opportunity to talk to Reporter Dan DeRoos about concerns that parents (and teachers) here in Ohio are having regarding Common Core and PARCC testing.

I am also very happy to report that since starting the petition to repeal Common Core and PARCC just two weeks ago, we have received over 2500 signatures! If you are interested in signing and sharing, here is a direct link to the PETITION. Let’s continue to send a message, loud and clear, to our legislators that we want higher standards in education and accountability, but Common Core and PARCC are NOT the way to accomplish those goals. We need to allow teachers to teach students, not perpetually be in test-prep mode.

I have written a couple of articles on this subject lately:
The Cost of Common Core and PARCC: An Open Letter to Parents and Legislators
The Big Business of Education: Breaking Down the Dollars Behind Common Core and PARCC

The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair. Ever.

The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair. Ever.

The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair. Ever. // Money Savvy Living

 

If you don’t live in a bubble, you have probably heard about the great debate over what attire is appropriate for a woman to wear in public in order for a man to not have lustful thoughts. The arguments in this area are mainly comprised of how leggings or yoga pants, being form fitting, or how sleeveless shirts or dresses, that reveal a woman’s shoulders, can cause a man to have lustful thoughts.

 

From experience, I have one more thing that should be added to the list of lust-invoking thought catalysts: blonde hair. Yes, blonde hair.

 

Probably the most eye-opening, blatant statement anyone ever made to me was about my blonde hair. When I first became a manager, my superior told me that the guys on my team wouldn’t listen to me because they were too busy wanting to sleep with me. He suggested that in order to be taken seriously, I should dye my hair brown.

 

What? WHAT?!  Why on earth would he say that? What made him think that the men in the office wanted to sleep with me because I had blonde hair? I worked hard to get that promotion. I was good at sales and could teach others. Wouldn’t my team listen to me because I knew what I was doing?

 

If I dyed my hair brown would that make me smarter? Would it enable me in some way to do my job better? Would brown hair actually somehow make men hear what I had to say? I am ashamed to admit that I almost bought into his comments. I did actually dye my hair darker blonde for a while. I figured that I would try to make my hair darker gradually. My husband didn’t like it though.

 

Then it occurred to me. Why in the world was I trying to change myself anyways? Why was I the one responsible for the alleged lustful thoughts of male co-workers? So I went back to my regular blonde hair. As a manager, I trained employees in group settings and individually. I took over a team that was not doing well, in fact, dead last in the company, and within a year, we were number one in the company. Believe it or not, I was able to accomplish this even with my blonde hair.

 

Being totally honest here, I have reasons as to why women should not wear blue silk blouses, white pants, or dress-length trench coats because they invoke lustful thoughts in men. I won’t go into those stories because this is a family-friendly article, you’ll just have to trust me when I say that these wardrobe choices elicited some rather inappropriate, lustful commentary. So let’s add those to the list of banned items as well.

 

It is not my intention to ridicule anyone’s personal decision to wear jeans rather than leggings for the sake of modesty. I firmly believe that as women, and for me personally, as a Christian, we should dress in a manner that is respectful of our own bodies. If we demand respect, we will get respect, right? As the mother of three boys, I appreciate a movement for women to dress modestly. That teaches our sons that it is not okay for society to sexualize women; similarly, it teaches our daughters that gaining affection from a man should not be based on merely being able to attract attention with provocative attire. We should all be praising modesty, lest we end up with more Miley Cyruses, scantily clad, twerking and grinding with large foam fingers.

 

The Reason No Woman Should Have Blonde Hair.  Ever.  // Money Savvy Living

 

But what if the list of “do-not-wear-this” is not enough? I mean, we could probably keep adding to it until almost nothing is deemed appropriate, except maybe for sweatpants and sweatshirts. And even then, there may be some sweatshirt-lusting men out there. So what’s the answer?

 

The Bible warns men against adultery and lust; likewise, it directs women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety. Each has a responsibility to act in accordance with God’s word.

 

Men:

“Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes.”  Psalm 6:25

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”  I John 2:15-17

 

Women:

“I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”  I Timothy 2:9-10

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”  I Peter 3:3-4

 

So does this mean that I have to give up leggings, yoga pants, blonde hair, silk blouses, white pants, or any other item that could remotely have the possibility of spurring a lustful thought for a man? No. It is a man’s responsibility to have control over his thoughts and control his desires. It is my responsibility, however, to use good judgment when it comes to my wardrobe choices.

 

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
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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!

 

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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

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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.”

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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.

 

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

Being Grateful All Year Long

Being Grateful All Year Long

Every year during the month of November, we see the 30 days of thankfulness challenge… and that’s wonderful. I know that with Thanksgiving coming up, I am typically more mindful of all the people and things in my life that I am thankful for as well. With Thanksgiving less than one week away, here is a great idea to get kids (and adults!) in a more thankful frame of mind: Make a Thankful Tree.

Work on this during Thanksgiving week with the kids or have a few leaves at each place setting and as you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, have each person write what they are thankful for on one or two leaves and decorate the Thankful Tree together as a family.

Really easy– and inexpensive– to do:

  • Gather a few small branches or twigs from trees in your yard
  • Arrange in a large vase
  • Make leaves out of construction paper or card stock (click here for a leaf pattern)
  • Punch small hole at one end
  • Tie strings in approximately 1″ loops to hang on branches
Photo via: hallmark.com

Photo via: hallmark.com

This can be used as a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table or just a beautiful autumn decoration. I really also like that you can use this leaf pattern, or any festive leaves that you cut out, in several decorative ways.  Use as: place cards, labels for food at an hor d’oeuvre table, tie around the stem of a wine glass as name cards.

Photo via: hallmark.com

Photo via: hallmark.com

 

While it is important to have a thankful heart around Thanksgiving, I want to make a concerted effort to display this gratitude all year long– for 365 days in a year.  Start each day with an attitude of gratitude.

So how do you keep a thankful heart every day of the year?  Life gets busy and it is so easy to get bogged down with all of the things that make us unhappy, rather than focusing on all of the good that is present in our lives every day.  Here is a list of ten ways to keep a thankful heart and attitude throughout the entire year:

  1. Read a daily devotional, like Our Daily Bread
  2. Subscribe to a daily email that is inspirational or motivational, such as The Daily Quotes or Daily Inspiring Quotes
  3.  Keep a thankful journal
  4.  Volunteer at a local hospital, retirement home, or community center
  5.  Serve food at a local soup kitchen
  6.  Donate gently used items to charity
  7.  Thank God for all the blessings in your life, each and every day
  8.  Say “Thank you” to others often
  9.  Smile more
  10. Speak positively rather than focusing on the negative

10 Ways for New Parents to Save Money

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Finding out that you are expecting a baby is one of the most exciting and happy events in life! And even when you find out how much this little bundle of joy is going to cost you—the average cost of raising a child is about $245,000—it is still worth it because nothing compares to holding that sweet little baby in your arms. There are some things that you can do though, to save a bit of money:

1. Don’t buy a diaper bag. You won’t need to buy a diaper bag. Seriously, you won’t. Diaper bags can be very expensive, usually starting at about $30 and ranging up to several hundred dollars! And trust me, if you buy one, you are going to be sorry that you wasted your money. There are several places that will actually give you a diaper bag for FREE:

  • your obstetrician’s office often has free diaper bags (with formula samples inside!)
  • vendors at baby fairs hand out diaper bags, among other samples
  • the hospital also gives out free diaper bags and other samples

I learned about all of these free diaper bags after I had already purchases a diaper bag, which I ended up not liking as much as the free ones! If the doctor’s office or hospital are busy or forget to offer these to you, make sure you ask for samples, coupons, or a diaper bag.

2. Don’t stock up on diapers. Ok, if you are a planner, like me, this one is going to be tough. Yes, you will need some diapers to get you started the first few weeks, but don’t buy a bunch of size 1 and 2 diapers until you see what works best for you and your baby. Some brands of diapers that my friends said worked so well for them—never had a leaky diaper—just didn’t prove to be the same experience for me and my baby. You will probably want to test out a few brands until you see what works for you the best, and trust me, it isn’t always the name brand, sometimes store brands are just as good (maybe even better!).

3. Don’t stock up on formula either. Start out using just one type of formula, don’t test these out initially. But you should not buy several bulk cases of it until you know that your baby will be ok with it. You don’t want to find out that you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a formula that your baby won’t be able to use because of lactose intolerance or acid reflux.

4. Sign up for baby food, formula, and diaper coupons. You can sign up for these easily online. Some of the main ones to check out: Pampers, Huggies, Similac, Gerber

5. Sign up for store rewards programs. Many stores offer rewards programs, such as Babies’ R Us. You earn points for each dollar spent that will earn you coupons for future use in the store, so you can save money on future purchases for your little one! You may also notice codes on products that you buy, such as Huggies and Pampers. Those points can be entered online to earn items, such as a free photobook from Shutterfly!

6. Use cloth diapers. If you really want to save money on diapers, you may want to opt for cloth diapers. Of course, there are some up-front costs for this, but considering that in one month’s time, a newborn will go through about 300 diaper changes (a bigger baby will probably use about 150 diapers a month), you will probably end up spending about $35-75 per month on disposable diapers!

7. Choose breast milk over formula. If you choose to nurse your baby, you will be taking advantage of a free source of food! Besides the antibodies and health benefits to your child, the money savings are a very nice benefit.

8. Use store apps or price matching. It can take a bit of planning to search for sale items ahead of time, but many stores will give you discounts on baby items. Target has created the “Cartwheel” application for smartphones, which offers different discount on items each week. You can typically save 5-10% on store brand baby items, including diapers, wipes, and baby food. Another great way to save is to price match; stores such as Walmart will accept competitor ads on any item in there store, including name brand baby products.

9. Utilize a flex spending account for medical bills or childcare. If your employer offers a Flex Spending account, take advantage of it for medical expenses or childcare for your baby. Money comes out of your paycheck, pre-tax—so you will reduce the amount of taxes withheld from each check, which will increase your spendable cash each month!  You should be able to find several free income tax calculators online that can take the guesswork out of the entire process.

10. Buy gender neutral items. As tempting as it is to run out and buy everything blue that you see as soon as you find out that you’re having a boy, try to restrain yourself if you plan on having more than one child. It can be very expensive to purchase everything that you will need for a baby when you are expecting your first child… and it doesn’t get any cheaper if you need to replace all of these items when your second child is a girl. Items such as strollers, receiving blankets, sleepers, even nursery decorations, can be gender neutral so that they could work whether you have a boy or girl. A little thinking ahead can save you big bucks!

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