Aug 312015
 

Ants on a Log

I don’t know about your kids, but both of my boys come off the bus from school starving.  Most days, the first thing they say to me as they’re walking off of the bus is “Mom, what do we have to eat”.

Knowing they are both ravenous when they get off the bus, I always have a snack ready for them when they come home from school. Because they are growing boys and basically eat me out of house and home, I do a lot of my grocery shopping at Save-A-Lot.  There they offer discount groceries every day, so you can bring home fresh foods at great prices. Seriously, by shopping there, I save up to 40% compared to conventional grocery stores.

Since I save time and money by shopping at Save-A-Lot, I can really stock up on after school snacks for the boys.  One of their favorite after school snacks are Ants on a Log.  My mom made them for me when I was a kid and now that I’m the mom, I love making this fun snack for my two.

When I was at Save-A-Lot recently, I grabbed some celery, raisins and peanut butter to make my Ants on a Log. Continue reading »

Aug 302015
 

Tips For Visiting Hersheypark

Many years ago, I took a road trip with three friends.  We made several stops along the way and Hersheypark was one of them. That road trip was long before I had kids or was even married for that matter, so when the kids saw a commercial for Hersheypark recently and asked to go, I couldn’t say no.  I remember loving it when I went all those years ago, so I knew they’d have a great time there.

So, a few weeks ago, we took a road trip to Pennsylvania and Hersheypark was one of our first stops once we got there.

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With that being said, we are a Disney family.  We go every year and we are very familiar and comfortable in big amusement parks.  Hersheypark is smaller and quite a bit different from Disney, so navigating it was a bit different than bigger amusement parks. We spent two days at Hersheypark and we wanted to share our best tips for getting the most out of your day at the park.

Disclaimer: My family received complimentary passes to Hersheypark, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way. Continue reading »

Aug 272015
 

Tips For Making Homework Less Stressful

Homework has a way of being incredibly stressful on the whole family; however, there are things you can do to make it a whole lot less nerve-racking. Here are some tips for making homework time less stressful on the whole family.

Plan Ahead

It’s always nice to know what kind of homework will be coming home and when. I always try and communicate with the teacher when it comes to homework. Most teachers send an idea of what will be coming down the pipeline, which helps us prepare. It’s also nice to know if homework won’t be assigned on a particular day because this could be made into a “special” day!

Rewards are Always Welcome

Think about how many times in a day adult’s award themselves with something. It’s time to allow kids to award themselves for a job well done too! A week without fighting about homework? Let them pick their prize! Choose a reward system that works for your family and stick with it.

Stay on Schedule

It’s easy to remain stress free about homework when you know when it’s going to be done. Staying on schedule at a specific time with homework can help make this process a lot less stressful. Pick a time during the week that works every night. When a child knows what time they will be doing their homework it also takes a lot of guesswork out of their day. They know at 6 o’clock they’ll be doing homework so there’s no need to even question it. Continue reading »

Aug 202015
 

Keeping Cool at Disney World

Staying cool at Disney World during a hot Florida summer isn’t so easy when you are surrounded by hundreds of acres of pavement. Trust me, I know from experience.   Four out of the last six of my family’s Disney trips were during the month of August, so I can definitely attest to how hot & humid it can be down there in the summer. Still, there are plenty of ways to stay cool, cool down and get wet during the park’s hottest summer days. The best part is that keeping cool takes what could be an almost ruined day and turns it into one of the best days you and the kids can have at the parks. There are tons of indoor options, water rides and even a pair of really exciting water parks that can easily take an entire day to enjoy.

If you end up at Disney World during one of Florida’s notoriously hot days, try one of these great ideas to keep everyone cool and happy.

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Carry Beverage Bottles Continue reading »

Aug 182015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FuelForSchool #CollectiveBias

5 Ways to Help Your Child Transition from Elementary to Middle School

Is your child headed from elementary school to middle school this year?  In the town we live in, our middle school has grades 6-8 and my oldest son is transitioning in to 6th grade at the middle school this year.  It seems like there are a million things to do to prepare for the switch, but I have come up with a list of things that can help both you and  your child make sure you’re ready without causing any extra stress. Just keep in mind that middle school is a more complex environment than elementary school.

1. Visit the middle school

I know this isn’t an “aha” moment but you might be surprised at what visiting a middle school can do for the middle schooler’s brain. Also, ensuring your child knows how the school works is important. Nothing raises anxiety more than the first day of school than not understanding where classrooms are. Sometimes it’s also nice to see a school that’s not crowded with a ton of children in the hallways. If your school doesn’t hold an open house or walk-through day like ours does, call up the school and see if there is a time when you can take your child in to tour the school. Continue reading »

Aug 102015
 

7 Tips for Packing Successfully For a Move With Kids - massholemommy.comAt the end of August we are moving, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. Where we live right now is pretty toxic (not literally, but the lack of respect and issues we’ve had to deal with the past 2+ years would make make your jaw drop!)

So, we’ve had to start getting things ready to go. I’ve had to figure out some tricks to get things moving along, get the kids to help and organize what we need, what we don’t need and how to deal with the stress that comes along with a move, finding a new place, securing the new place, changing addresses, making arrangements for hook ups, etc etc!

I wanted to share with you, just in case you need to move sometime in the near future what I’ve learned that will hopefully make the moving process for us go a lot smoother from here on out, and maybe you too!

Arm Yourself With a Good Plan:
I need a plan for everything in life, moving was a big one. Sit down and write out a plan to tackle your budget, boxes, rooms, junk and where you will start and finish. Anything you think you may need to plan for, do it. Even if small, or silly. You just never know and costs add up quickly especially those unexpected ones! Continue reading »

Aug 092015
 

Boston Red Sox Baseball Summer Camp

I love living in the Boston area.  I always tell people that this is the best place in the country to live and I honestly mean it. One of the things I love the most about living here is our awesome sports teams. I love them all, but when I tell you that there is nothing like spending a day at Fenway Park watching the Red Sox play is one of the best ways to spend three hours in the city, I speak the truth. Sure, the Sox have their ups and downs, but whether they are winning or losing, they always put on a great show.  I learned something new about the Red Sox this year, though.  They hold a summer camp for ballplayers ages 5-13 every summer.  How did I not know about this before?

**Disclosure:  Both of my boys attended Red Sox Camp at no charge in order to share our experiences with you.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way.

I am happy to say that my boys recently had the opportunity to attend Red Sox Baseball Summer Camp.

The Red Sox Camps curriculum is highly organized based on age & ability and is infused with lots positive energy to get kids excited about baseball. Along with instruction, the camps include: Continue reading »

Jul 312015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DipYourWay #CollectiveBias

Minecraft Creeper Veggie Tray

Are you one of those parents that faces a major challenge in getting their kids to eat their veggies?  I am.  My oldest son is the exception when it comes to veggies – he can’t get enough.  On the other hand, my little guy will almost never put a vegetable in to his mouth willingly. Talk about complete opposites.  So with my youngest, sometimes I have to get a little fun and creative when it comes to getting him to eat his veggies.  I have tried lots of different things ranging from sneaking them into other foods (my pasta sauce for example) to buying delicious Kraft Dips to help encourage my son to eat his veggies!

Here are some of the things I’ve tried over the years to get him to eat his veggies. These ideas are so convincing that you might even start eating your veggies, too.

Bake Amazing Meals

Okay, so looking at veggies, it’s pretty clear as to why kids don’t want to eat them – they look boring. So why not take those veggies to the next level?  Try making dishes like stuffed peppers or bright and colorful salads to help convince your children to eat their veggies.

Sneak Them Into Other Foods

I have been known to mix some cauliflower into my mashed potatoes or chop up some veggies really finely to put into my pasta sauce. I love that the kids don’t even realize they’re eating veggies and as long as you tell them at some point when they’re are older, like when they’re 50, it’s not considered lying!

Make Sure They’re Hungry

One of my favorite ways to get my kids to eat their veggies is to make sure they’re hungry. It’s one of the first things I feed my kids when it’s time for a snack. They are more likely to eat their veggies if they are hungry and trust me on this one, I know from experience. Continue reading »

Jul 102015
 

Hatching Butterflies - What You Should Know

Watching a butterfly go through the stages of metamorphosis is an amazing experience. At least, that’s how I remember it from Kindergarten. I can remember the level of excitement in our classroom as we ran to peer into the converted milk carton every morning. “What’s it look like TODAY?!” we’d wonder.

A friend of mine gave my girls each a painted lady caterpillar in a small cup to watch it transform into a butterfly. “Oh good! Something educational and fun to watch in our very own home,” I thought. We set the cups on top of the counter and waited while the caterpillars ate through all the sugary substance inside the cup. The girls and I were so excited to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar to our new family members every night. My darling cutie pies even named their little creatures after each other. It all seemed incredibly sweet until I realized something… caterpillars poop.

I started to notice all these little pellets piling up inside the little cup. “Ewwwwwww….. she pooped mom!” So, that was educational. I also started having nightmares of little spiky caterpillars crawling up my arms and I couldn’t stop them. They were a little tiny army I couldn’t out run! Suddenly, I realize there isn’t anything magical about this early stage of hatching caterpillars!

It took several days for the little wiggly things to crawl to the lid of the cup, attach themselves and hang in a letter “J” just as the instructions stated they would. It was time to transfer the little creatures to their habitat (a new, poop free cup). When I opened the lids on the cups there was a horrible smell and the cocoons seemed stuck inside of a fuzzy web. Not at all a glorious site (or smell). Continue reading »

Jun 302015
 

7 Fun Travel Games for Kids

Traveling as an adult is one thing because we know how to deal. However, traveling as a kid can get kind of boring. It’s important to make sure your kids are occupied as they travel, but how? Check out these 7 fun travel games that are perfect for kids.

Name That Tune

If your family is big into watching television, you might consider playing “Name That Tune.” When it’s your turn, you start humming the theme song to a show or movie. The rest of the car has to decide what show or movie the song goes to.

Nature Hunt

When you’re in a car there are limited things for kids to do and that’s why creativity is important. Depending on what part of the country you’re traveling in, a nature hunt from the backseat is a ton of fun. Everyone has to look for a new type of wildlife, tree, or flower. Everyone needs to keep a list of what they saw and at the end of each round, go over who found the most interesting objects. This game is also great for rest stops!

20 Questions

It may seem as though our kids already ask us 20 questions a day, but this game is a ton of fun in a moving vehicle. The main person needs to think of a subject and everyone else in the car takes turns asking questions about the object. The idea is to guess what the original object was. The objects in this game can be silly, fun, or serious! Continue reading »

Jun 232015
 

Why You Should Go Camping with Your Family

When was the last time you went camping with your family? If you haven’t gone in a while – or you’ve never gone, this summer may be the best opportunity to go! I recently enjoyed my very first camping experience and I wanted to share some of the reasons why I think you should go camping with your family. After all, you only live once, so making memories with the people you love is what it’s all about!

**Disclosure:  My family was invited as guests of GoRVing and Kampgrounds of America (KOA) to spend a weekend of fun at the Mystic,CT KOA. As always, all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Since I had never been camping before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but after my first time last weekend – I am now a firm believer that camping is good for the soul. As a novice when it came to camping, the lovely park model cabin that we got to stay in couldn’t have been a better way for us beginners to camp for the first time.

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And guess what?  These park models are actually recreational vehicles (RV’s), which are built on wheels so that even though they are intended to stay in one place, they’re portable.  If you are new to camping, these are a great way for families to get try camping for the first time.  I bet once you try it, you’ll be as hooked as we are now.

Have a look inside the cabin we stayed in: Continue reading »

Jun 172015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FuelTheLove #CollectiveBias

road trip essentials for families

Ah, the family road trip. There is nothing quite like it. The preparation, the unexpected glitches and plenty of fun and silly times. A road trip creates memories that will last a lifetime. To make the most of your trip, you need a combination of preparation and a “roll with the punches” attitude, because the unexpected will occur, and is often what makes those memories.

walmart road trip bridge

Many of you already know that my family took an eight hour road trip from Boston to Washington DC this past April. It was our first major road trip and since it was such a success,  we’re planning a six hour road trip to Hershey, PA next month!  I definitely feel more prepared for future journeys after our first major road trip this year. If you are planning a trip this summer, here are some road trip essentials for families you won’t want to leave home without: Continue reading »

Jun 162015
 

After having a newborn, keeping the house clean can be a real chore. Let’s be honest, keeping the house clean is always a ‘chore.’ However, after having a baby, I seem to struggle with keeping the house as clean as I’d like.  Check out these tips for keeping the house clean with a newborn in the house.

*Disclosure: I received a free product in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way*

#1. Clear the Clutter

Anytime I can get rid of extra items in the house that we’re not using, I do! There’s something invigorating about getting rid of clutter that we don’t need lying around our home. I have found that this is one way I can help keep my home clear of clutter and make keeping the house clean a lot easier.

#2. Write Out a Schedule

I keep a basic schedule at home of when I will clean what. Of course, since a newborn dictates my schedule, it’s a very flexible schedule. I have found that if I write out what I need done, it’s much easier. For example—Mondays are my laundry days and Tuesdays are the days to get the vacuuming done.

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Continue reading »

May 262015
 

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WhereFunBegins #CollectiveBias

Bouncy House Safety Tips

Here in Massachusetts we only get about three months of summer, so when that warm weather finally comes around, our family likes to take full advantage of it.  I’m talking beach days, trips to the zoo, picnics, playground play dates – you name it and there is a good chance we’ll be doing it come summer. Another thing I love about summer is that both of my boys were born during the summer. So every year I throw a huge joint birthday party for the boys and what outdoor summer birthday party would be complete without a bouncy house?

As much fun as bouncy houses are at a summer party, things can go awry really quickly if your kids do not know the rules or safety tips of using a bounce house. Check out these 5 bounce house safety tips to keep in mind this summer.

Bouncy House

#1. Feet First Continue reading »

May 172015
 

5 Frugal Travel Tips for Families

If you think that family travel has to cost a fortune, you are wrong! While you may not be able to take a luxury, around the world vacation for $1000, there are plenty of ways to have a memorable, fun trip to a great destination without having to break the bank. It is possible with some planning. Here are some frugal tips for family travel that you can use to plan that vacation you have been putting off:

1.  Do your homework. The best way to spend too much on your trip is to impulsively pick a destination and accommodations. By doing some extra research you can find better deals, places you hadn’t thought of, and free or discounted activities you wouldn’t have found otherwise.

2.  Airfare is a major expense, and often a roadblock to distance travel.  However, there are ways to take the sting out of this expense. There are many websites that you can visit for the latest advice on “travel hacking” your way to anywhere in the world. Continue reading »

Apr 302015
 

10 Perfect Foods for Snacking on Road Trips

If there are two things I love in this world it would be road trips and snacking. When it’s time for us to head on a road trip I have to pack my favorite snacks. Of course, I can’t forget the kiddos favorite snacks either. Speaking of road trips, my family just got back from a big road trip last weekend (an 8 hour drive each way to and from Washington DC), so I spent a few days rounding up everything that we like to munch on before we left for our trip. I have found that the following ten foods (and beverages) are perfect for snacking on road trips. Your vehicle may not like you, but your family will love you.

1. Nuts – if you do not have any allergies in your family, then nuts make the perfect snack food for traveling. I like to make a variety trail mix for our road trips that often includes nuts.
2. Berries – I love junk food no doubt, but I’ve also found that berries tend to be a great snack for road trips. The more added sugar I eat while traveling, the worse I feel, which is why I choose to eat something healthy like berries.
3. Cereal – if you want something quick and easy for a road trip, then consider cereal. Cheerios, Trix, Berry Crunch, and all of those yummy cereals make a perfect crunchy snack for the road.
4. Veggies – I love taking veggies with us when we travel. I’ll buy a huge bag of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower and make pre packaged veggie bags. We love ranch so I also buy those little ranch packs to bring with us to help make the veggies a little more flavorful. Continue reading »

Apr 292015
 

grocery shopping with little kidsGrocery shopping is not at the top of my list of happy places. But, I like to eat so therefore I must go grocery shopping. How I’ve grocery shopped has significantly changed since having kids. I have used grocery delivery services, shopped under cover of darkness, taken only one kid with me, and even tried shopping as a family. Now I just take them both with me.

I was terrified taking twins shopping by myself. I have heard so many horror stories of moms bailing on a cart full of groceries and everyone leaving in tears. I see so many kids throwing themselves on the floor screaming because mom said “no” to a precious, life affirming toy they want. I did not want any of those things. So, I devised a plan and executed it with military like precision.

Here are 5 Tips for Shopping With Little Kids:

1. Keep their eyes on that prize. As soon as I found a store that gives kids balloons for free I completely used that to my advantage. The second we walk in I point to the balloons at the customer service counter and say, “see they only give out balloons to kids who aren’t screaming or crying. Do you want a balloon? Then we need to listen, follow directions and use our manners.” BOOM! Now if anyone so much as whimpers I hold that balloon idea hostage. Continue reading »

Apr 082015
 

Girl Playing With Pet Spaniel Dog Outdoors In Garden

Do you have an animal-loving kid on your hands? If so, you should consider getting your child involved in activities at your local animal shelter.

Many parents are surprised at the array of programs that many shelters offer for kids of all ages. And, there are lots of things, big and small, that kids can do to help the animals.

Make Treats or Cards

Kids can make all kinds of projects, like toys, treats and more, to help animals in a shelter. Some shelters ask for kids’ help making frozen treats at home that they can deliver to the shelter pets.  Your child can also make thank you cards the shelter can give to adopters when they give a dog or cat a forever home. Homemade toys are another popular item kids can make. Check with your local organization to see what kinds of toys, crafts or treats they can use.

Volunteer

Volunteering to walk dogs, socialize kittens or perform other duties at the shelter is a great way for your child to get involved. The age minimum varies, however, so call your community organization to find out about their requirements. And, many shelters ask that kids under 16 volunteer along with a parent or guardian, so it can also be a fun activity you can do together! Continue reading »

Apr 012015
 

The first question people ask when they hear I am a stay at home mom with twins is, “how can you afford that?” The truth is no one can entirely afford to live solely on one income. It is hard to make the dollars stretch for most families not just my family of four.

Before kids I was tracking expenditures for corporations. Now, I track expenditures for my own household.

Before kids I was tracking expenditures for corporations. Now, I track expenditures for my own household.

I have not worked a traditional 9-5 job in five years. I thought I would stay home just the first year. Then I thought one more year. Eventually, we decided I will stay home until the kids go to Kindergarten. So, how have we afforded for me to stay home this long? Well, to start, it is amazing what you will live without once you have kids. And, if you have them two at a time like me, you really learn quick how to get creative with what income you do have. Continue reading »

Mar 282015
 

5 Ways to Save Money at Chuck E Cheese

Whether you want to admit it or not, your inner child loves Chuck E. Cheese! We all know that it can really add up when you head there for an adventure, so it’s important to save some dough where possible. Check out my tips for saving money at Chuck E. Cheese.

Find Discount Deals

Once in a while you can find a local deal for a Chuck E. Cheese near you. When you see those deals, make sure you grab them. This is probably the best way to save money because you are getting a significant discount on the whole shebang.

Don’t Get Pizza

Just so you know, you don’t have to get the pizza when you head to Chuck E. Cheese. There’s no law that says you have to get pizza, wings, or salad. In fact, you can grab drinks and an appetizer and you’d be good to go. I know part of the fun is the food, but if you want to save money, you’ll have to sacrifice in some way.

Limit the Coins

The last time we went, we probably had around 100 coins. We went a little overboard, which you do not need to do. In order to save a little money, you can limit the amount of coins you use. Is it as fun? No. But those coins do add up and can cost you a lot of money. If the kids get ancy about winning a price, take them to the dollar store and let them pick out something. Continue reading »