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Let's Talk

Remembering What It’s Like To Be A Kid

Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

It seemed like I spent a good part of the morning telling my son ‘not now’. Not now, Jeffrey, I’ve got to put clothes in the washer. Not now, Jeffrey, I’ve got to do the dishes. Not now, Jeffrey, I need to take a shower. Not now, Jeffrey, I’ve got to fold the laundry. I was beginning to get annoyed with myself and I knew he was disappointed. Finally, I said, “After lunch, we’ll go outside and play.”

By the time lunch rolled around our lovely fall day had become overcast and gloomy. After the remains of lunch were cleaned up, we put on our hoodies and headed outside. I didn’t realise until we got out but it had started to rain. Not a heavy rain, more like a heavy drizzle, but rain nonetheless. My first instinct was to run back inside.  That little voice in my head was chirping, “It’s raining, you’ll get wet, you’ll get sick.  You’re not wearing your raincoat.  You don’t have your boots on. Don’t you know enough to go inside when it rains.” But my son was already heading to the swings, yelling “Come on, Mommy.”  I told the voice in my head to ‘stuff it’, pulled up my hood and ran off to join him.

We weren’t out long, maybe a half hour, before the heavy drizzle did turn into a heavy rain, but we packed a lot of fun onto those thirty minutes. We swung on the swings, slid down the slide (and got our jeans thoroughly soaked), played a game of chase and went looking for mud puddles (there weren’t any).  I think that’s the most fun I’ve had playing outside in a long time.

 Thanks, Jeffrey, for reminding Mommy that playing in the rain is a lot of fun.

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Let's Talk Toddlers

Rainy Day Summer Activity – Treasure Hunt

Getting Real With Wanda Morrissey

This was an idea that I had in my head for awhile. I was saving it for a rainy day and I finally got my chance. I put together a treasure hunt for my 3 year old. His current favourite show is Jake and the Neverland Pirates and because of it he’s into all things pirate. I thought a treasure hunt is something he’d really enjoy. I wasn’t wrong.

I drew a rough layout of our apartment with the starting point in the kitchen and the end point in his bedroom – the map. On the map I drew a path to be followed as well as numbered stations for him to stop at along the way. At each station he had to look for a challenge card and complete that challenge before he moved on. I kept the challenges simple for him; things like count to 10 and find something shaped like a circle. I rolled up the map and tied it with a piece of ribbon.

After his nap, I snuck the treasure into his bedroom – a paper treasure chest filled with gold doubloons (foiled covered chocolate coins). I called him to the kitchen gave him the map and off we went on our treasure hunt. He loved every second of it. He proudly carried the map, trying to figure out where the next challenge was hidden (I’m not much of an artist). He shouted with excitement when he found a challenge and hurried through it so he could find the next. I think finding a treasure chest sitting in the middle of his bed was the biggest thrill of his life. We had to hide the treasure again so Captain Hook wouldn’t find it.

This is going on my redo list.  But next time I’m going to need a better map and new challenges.

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Crafts with Kids

Fridge Magnets Make Frugal but Meaningful Fathers Day Gift

by Shadra Bruce

There is something so meaningful about receiving a gift made with love by a child. With Father’s Day coming, it’s a great time to think about helping your child make a homemade gift dad can keep forever. These are the treasures that often outlast most store-bought trinkets. One of the easiest crafts you can make with your children is a refrigerator magnet –  a perfect gift with a ready-made display location.

Picture frame magnets are the most popular magnets, and your child’s ability to be creative is pretty unlimited. Gather some photos, magnets, and craft supplies – seashells, popsicle sticks, macaroni, felt scraps, or anything else you have around.

You’ll also need a glue gun and a piece of cardboard or cardstock; everything else on the magnet is up to your imagination! Glue the picture to the center of the cardboard that you’ve cut to about three inches (square or circle or your own shape). This is where the creativity happens! On your piece of cardboard around the picture, you can glue macaroni or dried flowers, nuts and bolts, fishing lures or buttons – anything you can think of – to decorate the “frame” of the picture. Glue the magnet to the back of the cardboard frame and you’re ready to wrap!

You can also make picture frame magnets using Popsicle sticks, foam cut-outs or clay. Another handy magnet craft you can make with your kids is to use a clothespin to make a clip to hold items on your fridge or on a metal office desk. Using wooden clothespins, glue the magnet on the back. The front can be decorated by gluing items to it or using a marker or calligraphy pen to write the person’s name on it. It’s an inexpensive and useful gift for anyone, and your kids will have so much fun making them.

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Frugal Living Let's Talk Travel

Cheap Weekend Escapes

by Shadra Bruce

When your budget is shot, your kids are bored, and you just need an escape, it’s time to think outside of the box! Here are some fun ideas for a getaway that won’t break the bank.

Spring is here, and lots of people are dreaming of hitting the road. Everyone likes to get out of town for a weekend now and then, if for no other reason than to enjoy room service and an indoor heated pool with no beds to make the next day. With fuel costs becoming the most expensive part of travel, why not book a room at a local hotel?

Whether you and your family do nothing but laze by the pool for the weekend or literally become tourists in your own town, this is a fun and inexpensive option for a weekend getaway. Bonus: no getting lost or having to ask for directions to get where you want to go.

If even the thought of a hotel bill is more than you want to contemplate, arrange a weekend house swap with a friend or family member in a nearby town. They’re probably just as eager as you to get away for a weekend. A little planning on your part and they’ll feel like it’s a hotel, too: put out fresh towels, put fresh sheets on the beds and leave a gift basket of fresh fruit in the entryway.

Have a vacation at home! Wake up and leave the beds unmade and the dishes in the sink. Cancel all the weekend chores, order out for pizza, rent a movie, and make some popcorn.

OK, so this is not the same as gallivanting off to Paris for the weekend, but it beats hearing “I’m bored” one more time, and the change of pace can lead to a change of attitude!

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Crafts with Kids

Crafts for Kids: Hand-Decorated Tees

The great thing about this kid-friendly craft is that it can be as simple or as extravagant as you choose to make it, and all you really need are plain t-shirts in any color. T-shirts make great gifts and can also be a fun project. This is a fun and easy – and memorable project. Best of all, you can recycle shirts you already own, especially the ones with the small stains that would otherwise be tossed out. (Just make sure your decorating project will cover the stain).

Take a few minutes before you involve the kids to iron the shirts. The smooth surface will make decorating easier, and the kids will be able to model the shirts for you after they’re done.

Make sure the t-shirts are clean and dry. Spread the shirt out on a table where you have a sturdy, flat work surface. To keep the paint or marker from bleeding through, slip a piece of cardboard in between the front and back of the shirt. From this point forward, your t-shirt is a blank canvas awaiting your child’s imagination! Your son can draw a picture of himself with grandpa or dad out fishing to give for Father’s Day or Grandparents Day. Immortalize your kids’ hands or feet by dipping them in fabric paint and making hand or foot prints on the t-shirt. These are always a hit with grandma.

If your daughter is having a birthday party or sleepover, buy or find big shirts for the group and let the girls decorate sleep shirts. If you have a cheerleader or other athlete in the family, making team shirts is a great team building and bonding exercise. You can even keep the iron hot and add iron-on transfers to the shirts.

Turn your kids’ creativity loose with this fun and inexpensive project!

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Crafts with Kids

Make Mother’s Day Special with a Coupon Book

Mother’s Day is coming, and this craft is a great solution for kids who want to give a gift that will keep giving throughout the year. There’s nothing easier and more personal than creating a coupon book. While this project isn’t as easy for the preschooler group to do on their own, with your help coupons like “one free hug” and “pick up my toys” will bring countless smiles to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Moms can even make coupon books for their kids offering to read a book, play a game, or share special time with the kids.

To begin, cut regular sheets of paper into thirds. Cut cardstock slightly larger than the coupons to use for the front and back covers. Use markers to decorate the cover and design your coupons. Be sure to include a statement like “This coupon entitles the bearer to…” at the top of each coupon and an expiration date like “never” or “100 years from now” in the bottom corner. When the coupons are finished, place them between the cardboard covers and staple the pages together. Older kids can give coupon books to grandparents with coupons offering to do yard work, run errands or spend time. Others will appreciate coupons for free babysitting or housecleaning.

When you’re thinking about what kinds of coupons to offer, have your children think about all the nice things the recipient does for them. A Father’s Day coupon book can be filled with coupons of things the kids can do that they typically see dad do, like take out the trash or shovel the snow. Not only will your kids think about the things that other people in their lives do that touch them, but your kids will gain a real sense of accomplishment when they realize how much they can do to make someone happy or give them a break.

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Crafts with Kids

Frugal Gifts: Picture Frames

There are not many relatives who don’t enjoy receiving updated photos of the youngest generation, but you can make it even more special by working with your child to create a personalized, homemade frame for the picture. You can keep the project simple by heating up the glue gun, using an old cardboard box for the base and using items from your craft supplies (or junk drawer or toy box) that you already have on hand.

You’ll want to choose the picture before beginning so that you know what size frame to make. Whatever size picture you choose, cut out a piece of cardboard that give you one to two inches of border around the picture. This cardboard will be the base to which you glue the picture. You may want to paint or color the cardboard.

Once your picture is glued in the center of the cardboard backing, you can turn your child loose with their creativity. Do you have an old puzzle with missing pieces? Use the remaining pieces to glue around the picture to frame it. The same can be done with scraps of fabric, buttons, beads or even coins. Just glue the decoration of your choice in overlapping layers around the picture until you achieve the look you want.

Don’t be afraid to be creative; if the gift is for someone with a special hobby or interest, capture that interest with the way you decorate the frame. Use fishing gear for the fisherman in your life or acrylic fingernails and mini bottles of polish for your beautician aunt. Tap into the creative side of your boys by letting them create a frame with dinosaurs, insects or toy cars glued around the picture. No matter how you decorate it, a personalized picture frame is guaranteed to bring a smile.

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Crafts with Kids

Spring into Spring with a Easy to Make Wreaths

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

If you’re one of those people who have a hard time putting away all the Christmas decorations because it’s so much fun to have the color and delight of the season, let Spring give you a new reason to decorate!

Go ahead and pack up the green and red … this spring project is all pastels. It’s so simple even your toddlers can help you, and it won’t cost much at all. To start, cut a piece of cardboard (a leftover Christmas box will work) into large circles. Cut a center circle out to form a wreath. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly round.

Spring Wreath

Paint the cardboard any pastel color and let it dry (moms can do this part ahead of time if little ones will be helping assemble the wreaths). Using foam cutouts of flowers or, my favorite, silk flowers from an old arrangement, begin gluing your decorations around the cardboard. Make one layer, then begin again and make additional layers until you achieve the effect you’d like. Allow to dry.

Use a ribbon to make a hanger for your wreath. You can either tie the ribbon around the top of the wreath or punch a hole in the top and thread the ribbon through. Tie the ribbon in a loop and knot to make a hanger.

These wreaths are simple and quick enough to make many in one sitting. Give them out to friends and family; give them to your children’s teachers. You can even let your kids hang one in their bedroom! This project can be adapted to the major holidays: Valentines Day (replace the flowers with hearts), St. Patrick’s Day (replace the flowers with Shamrocks), Easter (replace the flowers with bunnies) … you get the idea.

The point is to have fun, give your kids something creative to do, and give your front door a fresh and welcoming look for Spring.