3 Little Things: Groot, Poison, and My Kids

3 little things making me happy - MoneywiseMoms
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the 3 Little Things series over at the blog MomAdvice (where I’ve been subscribed for years and you should totally go get to know and love Amy, because she’s awesome). I was participating every week in the comments, but now I want to share right here on MoneywiseMoms. It’s a great way to focus on the positive heading into the weekend, and it’s a great reminder to me personally to be grateful and positive.

Groot and Rocket Raccoon - Guardians of the Galaxy
Groot & Rocket Art
I finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy and loved it! I was especially impressed how they captured the friendship and love between two non-human characters, Rocket Raccoon and Groot. Apparently it struck a chord with a lot of fans, and those with artistic talents have been sharing amazing fan art depicting their friendship, so absolutely sweet and heartwarming. Image from Catcoconut at DeviantArt.

Poisoners Handbook
The Poisoner’s Handbook
I know, it sounds like a instruction guide for trouble, but it’s actually a fabulous historical book: The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. I love learning about history within the context of a story, and this book explained the beginnings of forensic science in New York City alongside Prohibition, political corruption, and the many murders by poisoning happening at the time. The structure is similar to one of my favorite books of all time, The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larsen. It was full of science and history, right up my alley. It’s one the best books I’ve read this summer (see the rest on my Books I’ve Read 2014 Pinterest board).

Pinball at the Strong Museum of Play | MoneywiseMoms
My Kids
Our summer is finally winding down, just one week of vacation left before they head off to (gasp!) 3rd and 6th grade. Last week, we spent a week in a cabin in upstate New York with no TV and internet (horror!). They were amazing on the long roadtrip both ways, then were so much fun during our week of board games, reading, museum visiting and Niagara Falls exploring. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying having so much time with them to connect, talk, cuddle and play. This weekend we’re doing something crazy–we’re heading to the Cartoon Cereal Party at Alamo Drafthouse. It’s two hours of ’80′s-era cartoons from our childhood along with all-you-can-eat sugar cereal. The kids think we’re nuts for doing this, but my husband and I think it sounds like a blast. We keep turning to each other and saying, “they’re just so much fun to be with.” we so appreciate our kids’ senses of humor and how they like to try new things along with their geeky parents.

Hope you have something fun planned with your family this weekend! I’ve linked this post up to MomAdvice.

What’s making you happy this week?
Share your 3 things in the comments below!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, but I only recommend what I love. Thanks for supporting MoneywiseMoms at no additional cost to you.

Treat Yourself with #AudioFest at Best Buy

Disclosure; I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Best Buy August #Audiofest

I love music. I really do. With everyone home for the summer, the kids have been amused watching me go through my daily routine hopping & bopping (did I just say that? how old am I?) to my favorite songs. I put music on whenever I’m doing a big cooking session in the kitchen. It’s just more fun. And house cleaning? Well, the few times that gets done, it’s done to music.

I’ve got a few playlists on my phone, and that’s also how I listen to music when I’m walking (which hasn’t been happening because it’s 90 and humid in the mornings, but I promise I’ll go back to it in the fall). I really get pepped up when I listen to music, and it puts me in a great mood. But what do I listen with? Whatever ratty earbuds I can find, when I can find them. And I hate how earbuds feel; I actually preferred the old-fashioned headphones from the old days’ Walkman (yes, old again).

When Best Buy asked me to check out JBL products and update my listening for August’s AudioFest, I jumped at the chance. When’s the last time you treated yourself to something new? I know I never do!

JBL Sport Reflect Headphones at Best Buy August #Audiofest
I’ve had a few weeks to try out the JBL Reflect Sport Headphones from Best Buy. Wow–what a difference! I am so in love with these headphones. The noise-canceling feature is perfect for drowning out the background noise at the dojang when I’m waiting for the kids, or even while I’m working on the computer at home. The headphones come with three different size “heads” for the earbuds–small, medium, and large–so you can find your perfect fit, and they’re so comfortable. I’ve worn them on the treadmill and had they stay put–not like regular earbuds (which would just pop right out). I also appreciate how the cord never gets tangled, there’s a magnetic feature that keeps it under control. Plus–I have not let my son or husband use or borrow them–they’re mine! They’re $59.99 and worth every penny.

JBL Products at Best Buy August #Audiofest
The other product they sent was the JBL Clip Portable Bluetooth Speaker. My first thought was–why would I need a speaker? But again–I was very impressed. My husband and I like to listen to podcasts together, and the audio quality is so much better through the speaker than coming out of my iPhone. The sound fills up the room, so it’s perfect for impromptu dance parties with the kids. The Clip Speaker is also great for the pool (or any trips to the beach). You can keep your phone safely away from water and listen via the bluetooth speaker. I actually clip it to my belt loop and wear it around the house when I’m cleaning and doing the stairs–I can listen to music no matter what floor I’m on, with the iPhone just sitting in the kitchen. The speaker will be a great way for our family to listen to audiobooks when we’re on our big roadtrip in a few weeks.

Best Buy August #Audiofest

Head to Best Buy stores between August 3-30 for AudioFest

  • Beginning today through August 30th, Best Buy is featuring one month of deals, audio specials, events & more!
  • Best Buy is gathering the best offers on the best audio products for the entire month of August.
  • Visit a Best Buy store to test & try the latest & greatest in audio – from portable Bluetooth speakers and headphones, to home theater solutions and car audio.

Best Buy has the best selection of audio products, so head there during AudioFest to treat yourself to upgraded sound and love the way you listen!

Busy Summer

Today marks 3 weeks since the last day of school, yet it feels like we’ve already done a million things. How does summer move so quickly?

Summer 2014 Instagram
Here are a few Instagram photos of what’s happening day-to-day. In between the swimming, the swim team, the many swim meets (do you sense a pattern?), we’re still trying to squeeze in down time (lots of reading and board games), playdates, working on multiplication for next year, and some cooking. Not a lot of cooking. My meal plan this week consists of “eat at meet” and “whatever is in fridge.” We’ll get back on a normal routine next week…I hope.

Hope your summer is going well!

Keeping Kids #CyberSafe

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for BGCA. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating. #Sponsored #MC #CyberTribe #CyberSafe

Keeping Kids #CyberSafe with the Cyber Safe Futures Initiative #CyberTribe #MC #Sponsored - MoneywiseMoms

Parenting comes with many challenges, but one that’s taken us a bit by surprise is how to keep up with our kids in regards to technology. We are kids of the ’80′s, for goodness sake! We grew up with computers, for the most part, and we always had the upper hand on our own parents. But now with every handheld device, tablet, etc. hooked up to the internet, kids having cellphones (with video cameras), and social media apps galore–we’re a little overwhelmed. With kids ages 10, 8, and 8, we’re thinking about how to keep the kids safe online. So far, we have a few rules:

  • Our family computer is in the living room, and the kids are only allowed to use it with permission.
  • No random searching/Googling is allowed; a parent needs to sit with you.
  • With games that connect online (on computer, XBox, etc.), we use the strictest settings, i.e. no “chat.”

I’m sure that very soon my son will be asking about an email account, so I’ve been watching what friends with older kids are doing, asking lots of questions, and learning from sites like the BGCA’s Cyber Safe Futures Initiative. The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, in a partnership with Sprint, are supporting parents and teens with this internet safety awareness campaign.

Keeping Kids #CyberSafe with the Cyber Safe Futures Initiative #CyberTribe #MC #Sponsored - MoneywiseMoms

I took the “Are you a Cyber Smart Parent?” quiz, and I didn’t do very well! Partly, it’s because some of the topics they mentioned haven’t come up with my younger kids, but it alerted me to where we’re headed (Facebook, sharing photos, possibility of cyberbullying), etc.

Learn how to protect kids online with the Cyber Safe Futures Initiative #CyberTribe #CyberSafe #MC #Sponsored - MoneywiseMoms

I really liked the Parent Resources section, where you’ll find specific tips for parents to help guide your kids to protect themselves. For example, our kids have asked about playing online versions of games with their friends, but we haven’t allowed it. We have talked a little about not using your real name online (even in a username) and not to share personal information. The “Online Privacy” guide has questions to help you determine limits and how to share them with your child(ren).

Keeping Kids #CyberSafe with the Cyber Safe Futures Initiative #CyberTribe #MC #Sponsored - MoneywiseMoms

Last, there’s a section of Q & A with actual teens, called the CyberTribe. They take questions from kids and parents and answer them weekly. Since teens are often more savvy than their parents, this is a great opportunity for you to have your internet safety questions answered. Plus, when you submit a question, you have the option to enter for a chance to win an iPad mini and $500 to the Boys & Girls Club of your choice.

How are you keeping your kids cybersafe?

original image from John Watson at Flickr

Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday-FL, LA & VA

Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holidays - Florida, Louisiana & Virginia - May 2014 | MoneywiseMoms
Beginning this weekend, save some money with Sales Tax Holidays for Hurricane Preparedness in Florida, Louisiana and Virginia. Even if you do not need emergency equipment like a generator, this is a good time to update your home with some basic safety items like fire extinguishers and smoke detectors. You can also use this opportunity to stock up on batteries or bottled water for the rest of the year.

Get sales tax savings on items like:

  • Batteries
  • Bottled Water, both single and multi-packs
  • Cell Phone Batteries and Chargers
  • Coolers and Ice Chests
  • Duct Tape
  • Empty Gasoline or Propane Tanks under $60
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • First Aid Kits
  • Flashlights, Lanterns and Candles
  • Plastic Storage Bags (like Ziploc)
  • Smoke Detectors

Louisiana’s tax holiday is this weekend, May 24-25th. Virginia’s runs all week, May 25-31st, and Florida’s is coming up May 31-June 8th.

It’s a good idea to have some emergency supplies on hand, no matter where you live, even if they’re not specifically for hurricane preparedness. FEMA’s list of basic emergency kit supplies is a great place to start. I also like this Disaster Checklist for Parents.

If you like to bulk cook like I do, it also helps to know how to prepare your freezer for a power outage.

Poolside Prep {What’s in your Pool Bag?}

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and U by Kotex but all my opinions are my own. #PMedia #UbKKmart  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Poolside Prep with U by Kotex | #PMedia #UbKKmart #ad MoneywiseMoms
Gone are the days of wrangling three little ones at the pool–finally! I remember chasing my kids between the baby pool and regular pool and seeing other moms relaxing poolside with their friends, feet up on a lounge chair. Now that’s me! I never thought we’d get there, so I spent a little time reminiscing with these old photos of my twin toddlers. It was such a challenge when my son wanted to swim in the big pool but I couldn’t be in two places at once. Six years later, and we’re in a very different place.

Baby Pool Nostalgia | Poolside Prep with U by Kotex #PMedia #ad #UbKKmart MoneywiseMoms
Our neighborhood pool opens this Saturday, and my son plans on jumping in no matter what the temperature (forecast so far for Saturday? Only 72 degrees!). With all three of my kids on the swim team and me moving from swim team concessions to team rep, I’ll be spending 2-3 hours a day poolside on practice days, and a lot more than that for meets. I’ve been prepping for the past few weeks. I found a great pair of supportive flip flops for all the standing I’ll be doing, and I’ve got my pool bag all packed:

Pool Bag Prep with U by Kotex | #PMedia #UbKKmart #ad MoneywiseMoms
What’s in my pool bag?

1. Lots to read! I love stretching out on a chaise and flipping through a magazine while the kids practice. My family gave me a Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday, so I’m all set for my summer reading.

2. A great hat. I burn so easily that a hat is a necessity. This soft hat is easy to fold up and take with me, and it washes easily, too.

3. Snacks. I pack my own, so almonds & cranberries are an easy way to curb my hunger in between meals.

4. Extra sunscreen. We go through a lot of sunscreen with three kids swimming every day. I carry it in my bag, in the car, and have a bunch in a basket near the door. Got to be ready!

5. My phone. Of course! Need to stay on top of my email, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Are you following MoneywiseMoms there yet?

6. Sunglasses. I have an amazing ability to break or lose sunglasses, so I only buy cheap ones.

7. Tissues. Between my allergies and that gross thing that happens when the kids get out of the pool with runny noses (don’t you hate that?), we use quite a few.

8. The kids’ meds. All three of my kids have asthma, but only one has the exercise-induced kind. I’m ready with her inhaler just in case. And with my son’s peanut allergy, I always need his emergency med, just in case.

9. U by Kotex Pads and Tampons. Any time of the month, I like to be prepared with some U by Kotex liners. If I’m planning to swim, I like the U by Kotex tampons so I feel protected. I picked mine up at Kmart and saved $3 instantly at checkout with a coupon from Kmart’s Shop Your Way rewards program.

10. Quarters. Lots of hot days call for popsicles or ice cream sandwiches from the pool’s snack bar.


Poolside Prep with U by Kotex | #PMedia #UbKKmart #ad MoneywiseMoms
When you sign up with Kmart’s Shop Your Way rewards program, you’ll get $3 off at the register when you buy two U by Kotex products. Browse through the other coupons available there. You can add them to your account with just a click, then use your phone number or email at checkout to claim the coupons.

I like to be prepared–even at the pool! So what’s in your pool bag?

What are your poolside prep must-haves?

El Monterey Taquitos for Game Day {Giveaway}

Disclosure: I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with El Monterey and Ruiz Foods. The opinions in this post are my own.

El Monterey Taquitos are perfect for Game Day | MoneywiseMoms

It’s almost here: Game Day! While my family isn’t into football, we are definitely fans of football food. We go to a friend’s potluck party every year, mostly to hang out with old friends and eat (while others watch the game). So when El Monterey sent my family their new Shell Shockers and other Taquitos to try out for Game Day, we were game (ha ha). Taste-testing is a sport we’ll support!

El Monterey Taquitos are perfect for Game Day | MoneywiseMoms

All five of us loved the Beef & Cheese and Southwest Chicken Taquitos; both have a seasoned batter on the tortilla for extra crunch. My girls especially liked these because they weren’t as spicy as the Shell Shockers. Those varieties, the Jalapeno & Ranch and the Chicken & Nacho Cheese, were a hit with my son and his friends, but pretty spicy for the rest of us. They have seasoning coating the tortillas (the boys loved having orange fingers with the nacho taquitos). We cooled down the spice by dipping our taquitos in a mixture of half sour cream, half mild salsa. It’s a simple dip but adds a little creaminess to the crunch.

El Monterey Taquitos are perfect for Game Day | MoneywiseMoms

Your family can enjoy El Monterey Taquitos, too. Print a coupon for their Taquitos & Mini Chimis so you can try them this month. In the meantime, two lucky MoneywiseMoms readers will each win 4 boxes of El Monterey Taquitos so they can party with these spicy, crunchy taquitos. Yum!

To enter: head to the El Monterey website and leave a comment saying which flavor of El Monterey Taquitos you’d most like to try.  

If you’re reading this in an email subscription, click over to the blog to enter. One entry per person, please. This giveaway ends Wednesday, February 5th at midnight EST. Good luck!

**Update: Congrats to the winners, Helga & Alice!

Do your own taste-test with El Monterey Taquitos during the Big Game. Connect with them:

     Twitter      |     Facebook     |     Pinterest     |     Coupon

Taking Care of Holiday Guests

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Kleenex but all my opinions are my own. #PMedia #KleenexTarget  http://cmp.ly/3/8vNxcO

  Taking Care of Holiday Guests | #KleenexTarget #PMedia

It’s the most wonderful time of year! Time for families to gather from near and far, reconnecting and spending quality time together. When I think about our years of big family gatherings, I remember cuddling on the couch watching movies, playing board games, and cooking (and eating!) together. But our holiday tradition always seems to include illnesses like colds and flu. Yours, too? One Christmas vacation was most memorable: 13 of us staying at my inlaws’ house, all taken down by bad colds, one by one. Not the kind of memorable we were going for! Over the years, I’ve learned these strategies for taking care of holiday guests:

Taking Care of Holiday Guests | Provide the comforts of home #KleenexTarget #PMedia

It’s tough being sick when you’re a guest in someone’s home or visiting out of town. As the hostess, try to provide the comforts of home to your holiday guests. A cozy blanket for the chills, some magazines to flip through, and plenty of Kleenex handy will let your guests feel as comfortable as they can under the circumstances. I’m careful not to over-schedule activities over a vacation, making sure that we all get enough rest and relaxation.

Taking Care of Holiday Guests | Keep up with the germs #KleenexTarget #PMedia

One of the weekly chores for my three kids is “Bathrooms,” but it’s especially important when we have guests. To keep up with the germs, we change out the hand towels daily (more often if we have a crowd), make sure there’s soap for hand washing, and wipe down the sink, doorknobs and light switches. It’s a good idea to wash pillowcases more often when there’s illness in the house. We’re also careful not to share cups or glasses.

Taking Care of Holiday Guests | Stock up on #KleenexTarget #PMedia

When you’re ready to stock up for the winter illness season, head to Target with this printable coupon (two prints per IP address) to save on Kleenex. I just love these holiday boxes! What a cute way to decorate your spaces while you’re taking care of holiday guests.

Frugal Thanksgiving Decor for Non-Crafty People

Frugal Thanksgiving Decor | Easy ways to decorate this fall | MoneywiseMoms

Want to decorate for the Thanksgiving holiday, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money? I hear you. And while I enjoy all the great DIY and crafty ideas on Pinterest and elsewhere, this season is awfully busy. I need easy frugal Thanksgiving decor ideas–you, too? I’ve pulled some of my favorites off my Fall & Thanksgiving board with a goal of helping non-crafty people add a little atmosphere to the holiday. I often hear “but I don’t DO crafts,” from my friends and readers, so I promise that these are all really easy.

Frugal Thanksgiving Decor | Hurricane Vase via @amandajnebrown

I love how Amanda Jane Brown used popcorn and dried beans in hurricane vases for a frugal but elegant look. You could add candles as well. If you don’t have hurricanes at home, look for tall cylindrical vases at Dollar Tree.

Frugal Thanksgiving Decor | Kraft Paper Table Runner via @thekitchn

Table Runner
You may be surprised how sophisticated a roll of Kraft paper can look on your Thanksgiving table. This post at The Kitchn shares many ways to use it, including more graphic & fun ways, plus your guests can doodle or write what they’re thankful for while they’re waiting for their pie.

  Frugal Thanksgiving Decor | Printable Thanksgiving Banner via @sumossweetstuff

You can find lots of printable Thanksgiving banners online, but this one from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff has two sayings to choose from: Be Thankful or Be Grateful. Just print the three sheets out on cardstock, cut them out, and tape onto ribbon, yarn, twine, etc. for a simple banner.

Frugal Thanksgiving Decor | Eat Drink and Be Thankful printable via @fivehearthome

Printable Word Art
Printing and framing a piece of word art is one of my favorite ways to decorate frugally for the holidays. This year, I’m using this stylish Eat Drink and Be Thankful from Five Heart Home. Just print it out on a piece of cardstock and add to any frame.

Frugal Thanksgiving Decor | 15 minute 15 dollar fall wreath via @thehowtomom

Door Wreath
Greet your guests at the door with a gorgeous fall wreath you can enjoy all month. This tutorial from The How To Mom shows you how easy it is to wrap a leafy garland around a wreath frame. She uses pins to hold it in place, but glue would work too. You could even hang this indoor for some lovely color and texture. While I suppose this technically is a “craft,” it is simple enough for anyone to do, even a non-crafter.

So what do you think? Easy, frugal Thanksgiving decor can look really nice while not costing a lot of time and money.

For more frugal Thanksgiving decor ideas, follow my
Fall &Thanksgiving Pinterest board.