Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Things a Husband & Wife MUST Agree On

Marriage is by no means one of the easiest things in life. In fact, since approximately 50% end in divorce, it seems to be one of the toughest! Being married 10 years this December, my husband and I have surely been through our trials and tribulations but we've made it nonetheless. Marriage counseling helps even if you're not necessarily going through turmoil and it also provides a couple with tools on keeping their marriage in tact. While searching for parenting tips online, I cam across Mark Merrill's site and the 11 Things a Husband and Wife Must Agree On. Most of these should be agreed upon before becoming husband and wife! Print them out and see how much of many of these you and your spouse agree on. Sitting down to talk about these could be the answer to some of your troubles!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Make a Scarf Out of an Old T-Shirt!

Saw this and thought it was an ingenious idea!! Who doesn’t have TONS of old t-shirts hiding in their closets and all over their house. Now, thanks to Money Saving Mom and Make It and Love It, you can put them to good use and have a new accessory too!! All you need is the following: an old t-shirt, thread, scissors and a sewing machine. You could sew by hand but the machine makes it much easier J Find t-shirts in different colors and make multi-colored scarves, scarves with different patterns and textures and more. I loved that I could make scarves of different lengths and widths! Great activity to do with your kids too!

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 9th Friday Freebies!

1. Enjoy free general admission for you and a guest to museums and cultural venues nationwide on Saturday, September 24, 2011. Visit the linked page for more details. PLEASE NOTE: Check back in June when the site will go live with museum listings and the free admission tickets.

2. Get the Cedarmont Kids MP3 Sampler for Moms free available to download from Amazon! Songs include:The Wheels On The Bus, Father Abraham, The Ants Go Marching, Ezekial Saw The Wheel and Brahms Lullaby.

3. Amazon is also giving away downloads of the Wiggles Summer 2011 sampler for free! Songs include:Thank You, Mr. Weatherman!, England Swings, Hawaiian Boogie, Clap Your Hands with Dorothy and How Many Fingers Do I See?

4. And another great kids' music download from Amazon! They're offering a FREE Sesame Street Amazon Music Sampler in MP3 format. The songs on the album include:The Wheels On The Bus, Ladybugs’ Picnic, Let’s Go Tubbin’, Oh Look What Our Baby Can Do! and What’s the Name of That Song?. Click the download link on the far top right of the page to get your free Sesame Street Music Sampler.

5. Receive a Free Dr. Seuss Lorax Activity Book. Energy Star is providing visitors with the chance to order a free Dr. Seuss Lorax Activity Book. Add it to your cart and complete the checkout process to receive yours.

6. Amazon is allowing users to download a free VeggieTales 5 Super Silly Songs Amazon Sampler! The songs include: The Hairbrush Song, The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything, I Love My Lips, His Cheesburger and Belly Button. Visit the linked page and click the 'Get MP3' on the right to start your download for free.

7. Get 25 free MP3 songs from Urban Outfitters. All you do is click on the iTunes or Stream links at the bottom of the page & your songs will begin to load!

8. Download the New Blink 182 Single After Midnight for Free. To get it,go to the Get 182 page. Click on the link to "Fix the Sign". Stop the counter at 182 & you'll then fill in your e-mail address to receive a link to the free mp3 download. You can try over and over until the counter stops at 182.

9. FREE Blockbuster Express rental codes. The movies can be expensive when you add in the cost of snacks, movie tickets & more. So, stay home & rent a movie for FREE! Use the codes below to get your free rentals from Blockbuster. The codes can be used once per card on the $1 movies & you will be charged $1 per night if the movie is not returned by 9pm . Thanks Melissa's Bargains for another great deal! The codes are as follows: 75TTDR3 - 34PGAR2 - 72KRVF5 - 38RMAQ4 - 89AGSF7 - 83TPLD4 - 76DMNP2 - 29SPNF9 - 68MMKC2

10. Submit a Recipe to get your Free Spam Cookbook. Enter a recipe in the Spam Recipe Exchange and, once it's published, you'll get a free Spam Cookbook in return. This offer is available while supplies lasts only. In addition to the free cookbook, At the end of the challenge, five (5) winners will be awarded prizes. The top rated recipe, as defined by the Official Rules, will receive $1,000 and four (4) runners up will each receive a one-year supply of SPAM® products.

11. Free Smile Bright Teeth Whitening Strips from Savemore! f you’re NEW to SaveMore, sign up here and you’ll get a $10 credit just for signing up! Redeem your credit to “buy” the Smile Bright Teeth Whitening strips, which are priced at $7 and you’ll still have $3 left to get something else later! Plus, shipping on this item is FREE! Via Melissa's Bargains

Check out last Friday's Friday Freebies too by going to our Facebook Fan page & scrolling down. Many are still active and some of the activities for kids that are free (at Lowe's, Home Depot, Lakeshore, etc) are free EVERY Saturday!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shopping for Your First Baby?

I recently found out one of my very close friends is expecting her first baby. Knowing that I spent my entire pregnancy researching anything & everything I could related to parenting & pregnancy, she asked me for advice. She wanted to know where she could find good deals on baby gear online and, specifically, where she could look up ideas for a bassinet, co-sleeper and/or device to help her share a bed with her newborn baby. This is a topic that many new moms think about. Should their baby sleep on the top portion of a play yard as many veteran moms suggest? Should they buy a bassinet? Should they go directly in a crib or should they just share a bed? Decisions, decisions. Once you decide, you then have to shop around for the right price on the crib, co-sleeper or bassinet you decide on.

Once she told me what she was looking for, I immediately began researching and came across Become! It's the perfect site if you've spent countless time on the web looking for the best products & prices and it was super easy to use.

In order to find different types of sleeping arrangement's for my friend's baby, I went to Become and searched through their database of co-sleepers at http://www.become.com/baby-bed-co-sleeper. The results brought up many different options, even some I'd never seen or heard of before. The Humanity Family Bed was one option I found for her that I loved. I'd never seen it before but it's a great way for mom, dad and baby to share a bed safely. The search also brought up the Co-Sleeper Cambria Bassinet & the Arm's Reach Sleigh Bed. Both of these are great options for keeping baby near you while you sleep but not sharing the bed.

Of course, if you buy a co-sleeper and/or bassinet, you'll also need to buy bedding for it (http://baby.become.com/baby-mini-crib-bedding). Since there are different shapes & sizes of cribs, bassinets and co-sleepers, you have to make sure you get the right size for the one you choose to ensure safety. Bedding that doesn't fit the mattress right can cause SIDS as it can suffocate an infant. Become brought up many choices when I searched bedding including crib sets for standard cribs & mini crib bedding sets. There were choices for virtually any theme you choose for your nursery too!

Since my friend's favorite color is purple, I had to see what I could find so I could be the first to shop for her little one (http://baby.become.com/crib-bedding-purple)! Not only does she love purple but she loves animals and was hoping for a purple jungle theme set. This seemed like an impossible task since I'd never seen anything but a green, yellow or neutral toned animal themed set. I was pleasantly surprised when I came across an adorable custom purple safari 15 piece crib set!!

After all of this research, I had to thank my friend because, thanks to her assigning me the task of helping her decide & find options for her baby's sleeping arrangements, I also found a new shopping website that I love... Become!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eating Fast Food CAN Be Healthy

Teach Your Family What to Eat When Eating Out

Most people have the misconception that, if you eat out, the food must not be healthy! Obviously it's easy to make the unhealthy choices because they're usually easier to find on the meny, cheaper (most places have many $1 deals) and more appealing to kids. Eating healthier, however, has recently gotten much easier because restaurants are now required to post nutritional information directly on their menus! Now, when you see that number next to the double cheeseburger you wanted (usually between 700-900 calories), you may look for a healthier, less caloric option.

Need some tips on finding some of the healthiest burger options out there? Check out this article on the 10 Healthies Fast Food Burgers & Sandwiches out there! Still don't see anything you'd like? Try the following suggestions at each of these fast food restaurants and you won't have to worry so much about your waistline next time you eat out! You have shrimp, chicken, turkey & lots more to choose from!

Charbroiled Shrimp Baja Ensalada
230 calories & 6 grams of fat when eaten with one if their delicious salsas or pico de gallo instead of salad dressing which adds hundreds of added calories

Carl's Jr Tender Grill Chicken Sandwich
360 calories & 7 grams of fat when ordered with mustard instead of mayo

Burger King Veggie Burger
310 calories & 7 grams of fat when ordered without mayo

El Pollo Loco 2 piece meal including a breast & leg with mashed potatoes & steamed veggies
432 calories & 17 grams of fat. That's under 500 calories for a full, fresh meal!

Subway 6" Turkey Breast Sandwich
290 calories & 4 grams of fat when ordered without oil & mayo

Saving Energy and Money in Your Home

It's no surprise that most people are trying to save money anywhere they can these days! People are driving less to save money on gas, eating at home more often to save money on food & using less power at home to conserve energy and save on the ever increasing energy bills! Because my energy bill is so high, especially in the summer, I thought it'd be a good idea to provide families with some useful and easily applicable energy saving tips for the whole family! In looking for tips online, I came across Texas Electricity Providers .

According to Texas Electricity Providers, families spend the most amount of money cooling their home. In the summer months, turning your air conditioning to a higher temperature can save you hundreds. TEP suggests keeping your AC at 78 degrees to keep your home at an optimal temperature. In order to help keep it at this temperature, you may want to keep curtains or shutters closed, especially when no one is home, to keep the heat and sun out.

Another great tip TEP provides is turn your ceiling fans off when you leave the room. My husband and I are guilty of this energy wasting habit! We forget to turn them off because the light is off so we don't see that they're still on. Ceiling fans serve no purpose unless you're in the room to feel the cool air so remember to turn them off before you leave!

When cooking in the kitchen, try to defrost and preheat items in the microwave to reduce cooking time in the oven. This will keep your house cooler because the oven will not be on as long. Better yet, make cold dinner plates such as pasta salad, sandwiches, salads & other yummy summer dishes.

If you'd like more money & energy saving tips, including some on saving energy in the laundry room, bedroom, garage, office and the rest of your home, visit Texas Electricity Providers for a complete list of their energy saving tips. You'd be surprised how much you can save by making a few small changes around your home!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

FREE Online Resources for Teaching Your Kids!

Here’s a site that’s not only a great tool for moms & dads but for teachers & home schooling parents too!! The site has a HUGE database of worksheets, assessments, e-books, writing tools & more for kids. The handouts are in color, easy to print & cover every topic you could imagine including the alphabet, auditory processing, visual discrimination, letter/word awareness, phonics, gross motor skills, social development & much more. I’ve spent hours online looking for educational tools for my daughter to use at home and this is BY FAR the best site I’ve found so far! Check it out at http://www.schoolsparks.com/

Get Your Kids To WANT To Do Their Chores!

Check out My Job Chart & Motivate Your Kids to Do Their Chores!

Ok parents, here’s a subject most of you will be very familiar with….getting your kids to do their chores!! Not only does this help you out around the house but it also teaches them responsibility, organization & how to take care of themselves and their belongings. I recently came upon a website that provides parents and kids with an amazing tool to motivate your kids to do their chores!!! My Job Chart is a free, easy to use, online chore chart and reward system. It motivates your kids to get organized and teachers them first hand how to save, share and spend. And it does ALL of this for FREE!! It makes it easy for parents to assign chores and more motivating and meaningful for children to complete them.

All you do is register with the site and get your family registered as well. Then you assign jobs, set the rewards you desire and encourage your kids to get started! You can set morning and evening tasks for each of your kids to complete and designate a point value for each one. Tasks can be as simple as "Brush my teeth", "Eat my veggies", etc or "Clean my room", "Take out the trash". etc. After they’re completed, kids earn points to either save, give to charity or buy more rewards you set! You can keep track of what they accomplish and get notification of when chores are done too! My daughter is still a toddler so we are working on chores but she’s too young for this technology on her own. I am doing it with her so that, when she’s old enough to get on the site on her own, she’ll be used to it and loving it by then!

Check it out at http://www.myjobchart.com.

We're baaaack!

Hello again!! My apologies for not posting for months! Yes, months! In blog land, this is one of the worst crimes you can commit! Excuses, excuses, excuses but lately, life has been quite chaotic. We were in the process of trying to buy a home, move and sell a home in this crazy housing market and, to top it off, the home we lived in didn’t sell so we then had to find renters…ASAP before being late on a mortgage payment! Needless to say, after a hectic 3 month escrow, it’s over and we’re all settled in! So, it’s back to posting!! And we will be posting at least once per day, if not more often, to keep everyone up to date on some cool new mom & dad news! My favorites are the Freebie Fridays where I’ll be looking anywhere and everywhere I can online through blogs, facebook pages, store sites and more to find you the best freebies out there! So, check back tomorrow and suggest us to your friends!

Thanks for following J
Ellie at The Parent Center