Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Best Prices for Black Friday 2017

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Here we are on Thanksgiving Eve and it's time to get ready for Black Friday! This is what we've been training for, people! I spend tons of time researching prices and I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the research with you all! This will help you know if the Amazon Lighting deals you come across are the best possible deals. My experience has been that lighting deals will usually match (and often beat) these prices. Check out this post for more Amazon Black Friday tips.

Disclaimer: These are the best prices *I* could find- your mileage may vary especially if you have stores available regionally that I don't.

Here are the best prices I could find on some of the hottest items in my group Daily Deal Detectives:

Instant Pot Duo 6 Qt $79.99 at JcPenney

Instant Pot 5Qt $49 at Walmart

CrockPot5 QT $9.88 at Walmart

Playstation 4 1 TB Console $199 at Walmart

Nintendo Switch $299 at Walmart

XBOX ONE $189 at Walmart

Chromebook- best deal I saw was $99 for one at Best Buy

Roku $49.99 at Best Buy

Ipad 5th Generation 32 GB $249 at Walmart

iRobot Roomba 614 Vacuuming Robot - R614020 199$ REG $299 at Target

LEGO sets- 40% off at Toys R Us

Fingerlings- don't pay more than $14.99 unless it's a limited color (and those are all under $20)


Official Amazon Device Prices for Black Friday:
Echo Dot for $29.99 (usually $49.99)
Echo (second-generation) for $79.99 (usually $99.99)
Echo Plus for $119.99 (usually $149.99)
Amazon Tap for $79.99 (usually $129.99)
Amazon Cloud Cam for $99.99 (usually $119.99)
Fire HD 10 for $99.99 (usually $149.99)
Fire HD 8 for $49.99 (usually $79.99)
Kindle Paperwhite for $89.99 (usually $119.99)
Kindle for $49.99 (usually $79.99)
Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote for $24.99 (usually $39.99)




Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tips and Tricks to Score Big With Amazon on Black Friday!

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Whether you are a Black Friday vet or a newbie it can be overwhelming when looking at Amazon's week long Black Friday extravaganza! Lucky for you I have some tips and tricks to help you make the most of your Black Friday shopping experience.

TIP 1: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AMAZON PRIME

There are a few reason you want to make sure you have Prime before Black Friday begins. The first is to take advantage of free shipping- you have limited time to check out on many deals and don't have time to search for stuff to meet the free shipping threshold.

The next reason is that many of the deals are Prime Early Access Deals meaning you get first dibs if you have Prime! Many of these sell out before they even open up to non-prime members!

If you don't have Prime you can sign up for a free 30 Day Trial here. You can always cancel if you don't like it BUT I bet you will looooooove it as much as I do!

TIP 2: JOIN MY FACEBOOK DEALS GROUP

My group Daily Deal Detectives takes the guess work out of Amazon Lightning Deals! I sort through the hundreds of deals and only post the ones I feel are truly good deals and will actually interest our members! Turn on notifications and get alerted when new deals come up!

TIP 3: CART FAST, THINK LATER

Don't hesitate when a Lightning Deal comes up! Cart it IMMEDIATELY if you think you might want it! After you cart it you have 15 minutes to check out and you can debate or discuss during that time. Carting the deal makes sure Amazon saves you one- you can always delete it from your cart if you change your mind.

TIP 4: USE THE WAITLIST

If a deal sells out make sure to join the waitlist. Lots of people cart deals and decide not to buy (see tip 3!). As they release them they go to the waitlisters so take advantage!

TIP 5: RESEARCH "GOOD" PRICES FOR TOP ITEMS

Make sure to strategize! Make a list of your "Most Wanted" items and research regular prices along with what other retailers are offering them for on Black Friday. This will help you know if the Amazon price is the best deal!
Check out Black Friday Ads Here:
TIP 6: START EARLY

Deals begin November 17! While the most highly anticipated deals are usually saved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday there will be TONS of deals leading up to the main events- don't miss out!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

When Your Pinterest Project Doesn't Go As Planned- Lessons in Grace and Finding Joy



Yesterday I had an idea for a fun hand print craft for Halloween. In my mind the cute little hand print ghosts would form the "o's" in BOO and my boys would happily cooperate to bring my vision to life.

That's NOT what happened.

My older son's hands are inexplicably larger than I anticipated and took up more room than planned. The baby does not share his brother's enthusiasm for art projects and freaked out when I coated his hand in paint. He refused to hold still and smeared his hand print on the canvas several inches below where I wanted it.

My vision of happy memory making was crushed. I had one kid crying and the other telling me just how bad the little one messed up the picture.






After cleaning the boys' hands I stared at our awkward, smeared project. I thought about just painting over it and trying again.

Then a thought hit me. LIFE is NOT Pinterest perfect. Life with my two small boys is often messy. There's a lot of smeared hand prints to clean up. Toys are dumped. Laundry piles up in a seemingly endless attempt to surpass Everest. Toilets cry out to be bleached.

And yet...

There is so much BEAUTY in this life we live:
  • The giggles of the baby as big brother chases him
  • The joy on my 3 year old's face as he paints a picture for a friend
  • The sweet snuggles of an *almost* asleep baby tucked perfectly under my chin
  • The heavenly smell of freshly bathed baby head
I am surrounded by beauty in this life that is so perfectly imperfect. Our craft will not go viral on Pinterest for it's incredible execution. But when I pull it out each fall I will be brought back to a time when little hands made big messes and left even bigger prints on my heart.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Free Printable! Pumpkin Dot Practice

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D has really enjoyed Do-A-Dot markers lately. If you are not familiar with Do-A-Dot markers they are awesome for developing fine motor skills and concentration! Since we need to work on fine motor skills with D, I wanted to incorporate them into our activities as part of our seasons unit .




The result is this Pumpkin Dot Activity! It was my first time making one so it took a few tries but I'm really happy with the final product.



I wanted D to focus on making the pumpkin orange but he insisted on making it green, too.





I like how focused he was while completing the activity. He loves art and paint and this is a more "mommy friendly" way of letting him paint since there is much less cleanup! 









You can download the free printable PDF here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_m1AVgIYoEMeUczS2k1em5PYXM/view?usp=sharing


Make sure to checkout my Facebook Group "Daily Deal Detectives" where I post deals on Do A Dot markers and more! https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailydealdetectives/



Monday, September 25, 2017

Car Garage Number Matching Montessori Activity

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I'm so excited about this activity! I got the idea from a Montessori group I'm in on Facebook and adapted it for D. He LOVES his Hape Car Garage and recently has shown an interest in counting objects. This was a fun way to show him that numbers also have written representations.

Materials:
  • Hape Car Garage (or any other garage/ cardboard with parking spaces drawn on). We LOVE this garage and find it to be very sturdy.
  • Painter's tape- make sure to use this kind of tape so you don't damage the garage or cars
  • Hotwheels or Matchbox cars
  • Sharpie
  • Scissors

Making the activity was super quick and easy! I cut pieces of tape for each car and parking spot and numbered them.


D helped me and we talked about each number as I wrote it.



 I then showed him how to match the cars to their spots. He loved it! He liked driving the cars up the ramp and parking them in their spots. He also enjoyed me "correcting" him and talking about which cars were matched correctly. He would purposelessly park some wrong so I would "fix" it.



I could easily see this activity being expanded to letters and sight words! I love how this activity turned out and am so excited to hear how it works out for everyone else!

 Don't forget to check out my Facebook Deals group where I post awesome deals on toys like the Hape Garage featured in this post! https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailydealdetectives/

Monday, September 18, 2017

Fall Leaf Painting Activity for Preschoolers and Toddlers

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We have started a new unit in our homeschool Montessori preschool. We are learning about seasons! I introduced the concept of seasons today with this fun leaf painting activity. Step by step instructions are below!

Step 1: Collect an assortment of fall leaves. Bonus points if you let your little one collect them on a nature walk!



Step 2: Use scotch tape to attach leaves to a piece of paper. I folded the tape over so it wouldn't be part of the final painting.

Step 3: Place the paper and leaves on some newspaper or craft paper to protect your table- your child will paint to the edge of the page. We have this roll of brown craft paper and use it for EVERYTHING!


Step 4: Let the painting begin! I think sponge paint brushes work best for this activity since they are more forgiving. I showed D how to paint along the edges of the leaves.

Step 5: Remove the leaves when your child is done painting. We did this when the picture was still wet so the leaves wouldn't dry into the paint and get stuck.


I LOVE how this turned out! D really enjoyed it! His favorite part was that I let him add red glitter paint to the project.

Let me know if you try this activity out in the comments! I love seeing pictures!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Free Printable! Nature Color Walk

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D still loves to spend time in nature so I'm always trying to come up with new ways to make it educational and fun!

This scavenger hunt I made asks that the child find an object that matches each color. You can decide whether or not to have them collect the objects or just point them out.

Download the PDF for free here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_m1AVgIYoEMbFFCeXlja3J5VE0/view?usp=sharing

Let me know what you think in the comments! I also LOVE seeing pictures of little ones doing my activities!


Want to learn more about why it's so important for children to spend time in nature? Read my favorite book on the topic "Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder" by Richard Louv. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Hurricane Reminders You Might Not Have Thought Of



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Here in Florida we are all bracing for Hurricane Irma. Water is flying off the shelves, gas lines are long, and we all have our batteries hoarded but there are some things I'm doing that haven't been mentioned that are important, too!

  1.  Stock up on disposable diapers and baby wipes, even if if you use cloth diapers like we do. If water and/or power goes out you won't be able to wash cloth diapers!
  2. Make sure you have non-perishible food your kids will actually eat. Canned soup, beans, and tuna are fine for adults but my toddler will have no part in that. Peanut butter crackers and baby food pouches it is!
  3. Dog/cat food if you have a pet. 'nuff said.
  4. MORE baby wipes, even if you don't have kids!!! You will thank me when there's not water and you can clean your hands, wipe your under arms etc.
  5. Paper plates, cups, and disposable cutlery-- you don't want to use precious water to wash dishes if there isn't any! 
  6. Propane or charcoal for your grill so you can heat up food. If you don't have a grill a small hibachi or camping grill is a great thing to have.
  7. Dry shampoo if you are so inclined.
  8. A portable charging bank for your cellphone. You don't want to waste precious gas or car battery power charging your phone. We have this one (affiliate link) http://amzn.to/2eCNHHB 
  9.  Activities for kids that require no electricity- crayons and coloring books, playdoh, books etc
  10. Fill up your bathtub so you can flush your toilet if the water gets cut off. A water bladder like this one  is also a great way to store water.
I hope you find these tips helpful! Let me know your tips!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Top Tips for Mold Free Bath Time and Water Table Play



My kids LOVE to play in water! Pool, beach, water table, bath tub- you name it! They are water babies through and through.

Unfortunately I have learned that all water toys are NOT created equal. Especially when it comes to MOLD! It's been a process but I have finally refined our water toy recommendation list. Mold not included ;)

Tip 1: Avoid squirters at ALL COSTS!
These things are cute but are mold factories! Some moms recommend putting hot glue over the holes or periodically filling them with bleach but I think it's best to just avoid them all together.



Tip 2: Get organized!
 We have a bath toy organizer similar to this one. The key is selecting one that drains. I also run ours through the washing machine periodically. A mesh laundry bag hung in the shower or near the water table would work, too.



Tip 3: Choose your toys carefully!
Like I said, not all bath toys are created equal. Look for toys that drain on their own or do not hold water. Avoid nooks and crannies that can harbor mold. These are some of our favorites:


These Munchkin boats are BY FAR my kids' favorite. They use them in the bath every single day. They also love to bring them to the pool and out to the water table. They are deceivingly simple. They float, connect, act as pourers, have holes to act as strainers, can act as color recognition practice, and are numbered based on home making drain holes are in them.



These Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles have brought lots of giggles to bath time at our house! There aren't any openings to let water in so they don't mold. 

A rubber duck is a classic bath toy. We have this Munchkin White Hot Safety Bath Ducky and I like him because he is solid- you can't squeeze him to add water! All the fun of a rubber duck without all the mold.



This Munchkin Baby Bath Ball was a gift for my 3 year old's first Christmas. I was weary that it might be a mold trap but it drains well and we haven't had any trouble with it. Years later the boys still find it entertaining.



The First Years Stacking Cups set was not originally purchased as a water toy but my boys frequently bring them in the bath a water table! They are inexpensive and the different number holes on the bottom means lots of fun in the water!
Or even just go with old school cups! We like to use the plastic restaurant kids cups and laundry detergent caps.


Tip 4: Make sure everything can dry well when you're done
This is especially important here in Florida where the humidity is oppressive! I remove all toys from the water table so it can dry completely. Same with the tub. Wet toys sitting = mold. I also recommend keeping your water table more simple; too many bells and whistles just provides more places for mold to hide. This is the one we have:



Those are our family's top tips for mold free water fun! Let me know some of yours in the comments!



Monday, May 15, 2017

How I Made $29.95 in 10 Minutes



Don't worry; this isn't a post shilling my new multi-level marketing scheme. It IS, however, an important post. Today I "made" $29.95 by mending one of our hanging wet bags.

Let me explain.

We've had several rounds of illness the past year that have required that I bleach our diaper laundry. This has caused one of our large hanging wet bags to develop a hole in the fabric around the handle so it was no longer able to be hung up. The PUL was still in perfect condition so rather than buy a new one I mended the one we already had.



In this age of planned obsolescence the idea that we should fix something when it breaks can sound downright foreign. But it's worth doing. Besides saving money by not buying a new wet bag, I also avoided adding yet one more thing to the landfill prematurely. I also was able to talk to my older son about caring for the things we own and how we can repair fabrics through sewing- it became a teachable moment.

We tend to focus on ways to earn more money or how to save on the things we buy. We forget that NOT buying something saves us the most money! I'd much rather put that $29.95 towards a new zoo pass to make memories with the boys.

Mending, darning, and repairing items have saved us thousands of dollars over the years. I fully intend to teach my boys how to mend and sew.

Have you fixed something recently rather than buying a new one? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

10 Essentials for a Sick Baby



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The first time your baby gets sick is awful! They are so tiny and helpless and can't take most medications. These are some tried and true essentials to have in your arsenal so you are prepared for that first cold. There is nothing worse than your baby waking up in the middle of the night with a fever and not having anything to help him on hand. I often give these items as baby shower gifts so new moms will be ready.

1. Infant Tylenol
 Acetaminophen is safe for babies of all ages so I recommend always having some in the house. Ask your doctor for the dosing information at baby's first check up a few days after birth. I keep it on my refrigerator and also a picture on my phone if I ever need it when we are out.



2. Thermometer
We have several thermometers. We have a temporal thermometer but I don't feel it is very accurate so I recommend a basic digital thermometer. Our pediatrician recommends taking the temperature under the arm and adding 1 degree rather than taking it rectally.



3. Baby Comfy Nose (or Nose Frida)
You NEED this! A bulb syringe is basically worthless against a bad cold. I prefer the Baby Comfy Nose over the Nose Frida because you don't have to buy filters. You just use a tissue you have on hand.



4. Little Remedies Saline Drops

This is also an essential! Babies and toddlers can't take decongestants so saline drops are a safe way to help them to drain. I put a few drops in then use the Baby Comfy Nose to suck everything out. It really helps loosen up the gunk.



5. Zarbees Cough Syrup
This isn't really a medicine but it is nice to help ease little throats sore from a bad cough. It won't actually make the cough go away but it is soothing. It can be used on babies 2 months and up.



6. Humidifier
A humidifier will help little ones so much when they are congested and miserable. Again, you will inevitably need it at 3am so have it on hand BEFORE little one gets sick. This is a great Baby registry item.



8. Rolled Blanket Under Top of Mattress 
Nothing to buy here! Just roll a receiving or swaddling blanket like a log and place it under the head of the mattress so baby can lay at a slight angle. This will help her congestion to drain.



9. Vicks Baby Rub
I like to put the Vicks on baby's feet then cover with socks or footed pjs for a bad cold. Never use adult Vicks on a baby!



10. Infant Motrin
Babies shouldn't have Motrin before 6 months but I do feel it lowers the temperature better than acetaminophen. You can also alternate the two- check with your pediatrician for recommendations on dosage and time.