Summertime tips for busy parents

As parents of school-age children, summer brings mixed emotions for those who have to work. Although school coming to a close can bring a feeling of relief to busy parents, there is a new concern that brings to mind the question of- now what? Summer camps, grandma’s house, Aunt Liz’s or hang out with the neighbor’s kids…. Knowing where our children are at all times has to be a priority. Keeping our children busy and active during the summer months is important to their well-being. God has blessed us with longer days, and we can use those extra hours of sunshine to create memories for our families during the summer months. But what can we do after 5:00 and we are tired from working all day? This is a challenge many working parents face during the summer months. Even if children are at camp or at a babysitter’s home all day, we need to spend quality time with our children.

Another challenge for parents… How do we get our children outside to play? How do we get that teenager away from his/her XBOX or PS3 game system? Many teens are staying inside during the summer months, missing out on all the sunshine and exercise. This is contributing to childhood obesity and depression. Sunshine is not only good for our physical health, but it is essential for our mental well-being also. Get them interested in the outdoor activities at a young age and they will have life long habits that will take them outdoors. Finding ways to encourage our children to participate in outdoor activities can be a challenge.

Here are some ideas to use:

·         Invite their friends over for a cook-out

·         Take them shopping at an outdoors flea-market for items that interest them

·         Pool time is always fun with friends

·         Money- pay them to wash your car, water the flowers, etc.

·         Get them interested in the outdoor activities at a young age

·         Fishing

·         Hiking

·         Bicycle riding

·         Skateboard parks

·         Sports activities

·         Camp

·         Hunting

·         Have a scavenger hunt

·         Music concerts

·         Outside movie in the park

·         Boating

·         Visit a local park

·         Go out for ice-cream

·         Bird watching

 

The summer should be a time for families to build closer relationships. Planning the activities ahead of time is a must. Even for moms who are employed during the summer months can find plenty of time to keep their children busy outdoors. The sun sets hours after most people come home from work. Plan those hours wisely. You will not regret the time invested in your children’s summer fun!

 

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Words in the morning…..

Words
Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

As we prepare for school, I have thought about the words that will be spoken to many children as their parents try to get them back on a routine. Many parents look forward to getting back on the school routine. Summer is coming to an end and many kids are getting bored. With boredom comes behavior issues. So as parents are waking their children up early and dealing with the No’s, the crankiness and the difficult mornings, I want to encourage parents to use your words wisely as you get our kids off to school. They are the most valuable part of our lives. Use you words wisely. Speak with kindness in your voices and remember to thank God for each day we have with them.

Pray for protection over your children everyday. I still pray daily for each one of my kids, even though they are grown. As they face the world and all that comes with it! I pray for my youngest as he faces his senior year in high school. I pray for my grandchildren as each one starts their day.

I have been working on a new book. It is a Christian Fantasy and I want to share a bit of it with my followers, as I urge you all to choose your words wisely as we get our kids off to school!

“Way in the distance she noticed a usually big tree –a gigantic tree that was covered with branches and vines. On each branch hung a fruit. The tree had fruit of every kind. Evangeline could not take her eyes away from this unusual tree. As she felt herself being drawn closer to the tree, she cautiously made her way over to the huge tree trunk and reached out to touch the unusual tree. The texture was rough and jagged much like a harsh word that had once been spoken to a child.”

Let your words be soft and encouraging…..

Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge

Fantasy within the city limits….

My name is Teresa and I live here in the city. Every Saturday, mommy would take me to the supermarket-“The Bodega” and I couldn’t wait to go. After we went into the store I would be allowed to sit on my favorite character Tiger and go around in circles on the merry go round! Only after just a few minutes, the ‘merry –go- round’ would stop and we would have to put in three more quarters. Many times, Mommy wouldn’t have three more quarters to put in the ride. I think it is just unfair to ask for that many quarters for a short ride. But who cares about the opinion of a little Hispanic girl here in the hot humid city? I’ll just sit here and wait for the taxi cab to arrive and take us home with our groceries. Someday, mommy will be able to afford a car for us. Until then, my adventure to the store on Saturday was all I could look forward to. The taxi cab driver always gave me a lollipop too. Today is my special day in the city. Someday, I’ll grow up and be a fantasy story writer. I’ll write all about my fantasies in the city. I know I will be famous someday. My mommy told me-I can be whatever I want to be! Maybe someday I’ll be in the movies too. I’ll ride on a real tiger. I’ll go into the big jungle with real jungle animals. I might even be able to visit Disney World, and see the real animal characters up close!

I guess I can use my imagination to take me on all the rides I would like to go on. I can see myself spinning in a teacup high on the twisting teacup ride. I almost threw up in my Mommy’s new purse after spinning so fast my afternoon lunch just about flew across the parking lot! It almost landed in a stranger’s face. That would not have been good. I have seen people get really angry over fewer things than that! I remember when Pedro got hit in the nose for splashing water on some kid. It was a hot day too. You would think he liked getting cooled off with water! Go figure….

Maybe if I sit here long enough then the strange green animal will come to life! I’ll just sit here and wait. No-one wants to pay three quarters for a short ride on these animals. I don’t even know why they have this here. It’s like a torment for us kids. Too much money and so much fun! I have my thinking face on and hopefully no-one will bother me as I wait. When is this taxi getting here?

After about ten minutes, a woman came and sat next to me. She just smiled and looked ahead onto the street. She must have been waiting for the taxi cab too. A little boy came over and sat on her lap. He just stared at me for about five minutes; then whispered something in his mothers’ ear. She shook her head no and told him to go play under the stop sign. He ran over and sat in the little patch of grass under the stop sign.

Man, that taxi cab sure is taking a long time to get here. I wonder what is taking so long. Maybe it got lifted up into a huge trap. That trap was set out there on the street for the bad guys. Only now it is trapping my taxi cab driver! Oh no. I must get home and help mommy put our groceries away. I think she bought ice pops for me. They’ll melt soon, if we don’t get home. Well-if they do melt, they are in plastic wrap. I’ll just make them into flat ice-pops. They still can freeze in the freezer. All that thinking of ice-pops made me thirsty.

“I’m getting a little thirsty mommy. Can I have a drink?” Mommy told me the drinks were too hot to drink, but the ice-pops weren’t! So my mommy and I drank the whole box of ice-pop juice! That was exciting. I love my mommy. She does such cool things with me.

Once when I was sitting on the tiger, she jumped on and sat on Winnie the Pooh with me! The people around us thought she was crazy, but she didn’t care. That’s just how my mommy is.

Boy, it sure is getting hotter out here. Mommy took out her cell phone and called the taxi guy back. I heard her asking what was taking the cab so long to get here.

When she put her phone away, she looked at me and said “It’s going to be a few more minutes, so we have to be patient. Ok?” Then she took out a white envelope from her purse. On it said “laundry money” and she took a handful of quarters out, put three in the merry-go-round. I jumped onto the merry-go-round real fast and sat on old tiger again. Before I knew it Mommy jumped on too. She rode on the Winnie-the Pooh because that was her favorite character when she was growing up. Then two more grown ups joined us and then two little boys jumped on and we all were on our fantasy ride. Everyone took turns putting in three quarters, and before I knew it. Time had taken us to the greatest fantasy I’ve ever been in. Fun in the city, is all I ever think about now! A bunch of strangers became our friends that day. The laughter, silly looks, smiles and stares made the ride even more fun. As I sat there on tiger, I asked myself again- who cared about this little Hispanic girl in the city. I knew many people cared and this ride today proved it! Next Saturday-I hope the taxi guy takes his time, because it’s my time now!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/writing-challenge-1000-words-four/Image

 

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Fall into a creative writing workshop.
Fall into a creative writing workshop.

Inspire creativity with a writing workshop for kids ages 5-12.

Before we know it, the Fall season will be upon us with all the amazing back to school activities!

I am offering my creative writers’ workshops this Fall.

NOTE: Prices vary according to site and times.

Contact information is:

http://www.tina7serrano.com/230875969/category/82346/online%20store

creatingmemories@webnode.com

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Planning for a Disney Trip! (or any vacation) Visit This New Blog By M.Rivera

http://savemoneyvisitdisney.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-few-little-extras-you-may-want-at.html?m=1

Planning for a Disney Trip (or any vacation)

saving and spending
saving and spending (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27, 2013

We took our very first Disney trip in November of 2012 and absolutely LOVED it!  We were completely unprepared for everything there and were definitely exhausted after it all, but have decided to plan our next trip!  Our first trip was 8 days and we tried to cram all four parks into 4 days, with Sea World trips at the beginning and end of the trip, and a day at our rental home for Thanksgiving.

This time, I plan on getting 8 day park passes and adding Universal Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure.  These have the really cool rides and aren’t Disney parks.  We didn’t know about these parks until after we left Florida.  Our date is set for November of 2014.  I figured 2 years would be plenty of time to save up.  We have 4 girls, along with myself and my husband…so the trip is definitely not cheap!

I planned on leaving the parks and driving to our rental home for lunch or dinner on our last trip.  That didn’t work!  We didn’t realize how much walking would be involved and how much time is used to get on a trolley and get back to our car to make it back to the house…so the little bit of spending money we had went to food in the parks…leaving us with basically nothing left for souvenirs or anything super cool.  And yet…the kids still had a blast!  BUT…  I’m determined to make our next trip soooo much better!  🙂  8 day park passes will allow us to spend 2 days at each of the 4 Disney parks and we may not need to be there from open to close…although we wouldn’t mind being at Magic Kingdom that long!

I’m new to this whole blogging thing and will add new posts on things like meals, tips/recommendations for each park, finding a place to stay, road trip tips, and anything else that pertains to vacations at Disney.  Planning for our next trip has become a project and my 12 year old daughter is an excellent planner…so she’s my sidekick through this all.  🙂

Time to start saving.  But how much will you need?  Things to consider:

  • How long will you be staying
  • Resort or Rental Home (better yet…have any relatives down there?)
  • Which parks do you want to see (and any other places to visit…there’s so many to choose from!)
  • Character dining?  (We didn’t do this on our last trip, but am planning at least two for our next trip…One will definitely be a dinner at Cinderella’s castle with the princesses. Pricey but worth the look on their faces and the memories!)
  • Meals – packing lunch?  Eating in the park?  Eating outside of the park?  Snacks…Drinks…
  • Parking fees.  If you are driving you will need to pay for parking.  Our last visit was $14 a day at each park.
  • Spending money…for souvenirs…awesome ice cream treats…etc.
  • Gas money (We drove from PA to FL, so this was a nice chunk…about $300 one way)
  • or…The costs of airfare.  (We considered this, but it would be too costly for 6 people and then would have to rent a van to get around afterwards.  If it’s one or two people and you stay at a resort, it might work best for you since Disney has free shuttle transportation between resorts and parks.)
  • Hotel money if you don’t drive straight through.  We stayed in a hotel on the way down and finished our trip the next day, but decided to drive straight home on our way back.  Definitely will NEVER drive straight through again.

Check the Disney website for prices on resort vacations.  Sometimes they have 30% off and offer package deals with park tickets.  You can even choose to add a dining plan to your package, which leaves you with one less thing to worry about.  For 6 of us, it would be cheaper to rent a home.  We rent a 5 bedroom, 3 bath house with a game room and private screened in heated pool about 10 minutes from all the parks for about $125 avg per night!  That’s cheaper than the hotel cost for the Marriott room we stayed in on the way down!

Anyways…I broke down what we needed to save and we came up with different ways to save money for this trip.  Being able to have everything paid for before we go is a must since we have no credit cards.  Everything gets paid for with cash we have put aside for this.

Savings tip #1….DIMES FOR DISNEY BOTTLE
My daughter found this idea on Pinterest.  We are addicted to that site!  Get a 2 liter soda bottle, wash it out, peel off the label and let it dry out.  We added a picture to the front of it from our last Disney trip and it says “DIMES FOR DISNEY”.  Every dime that we get goes into the bottle.  When the bottle is full, it ends up being about $700!  That right there is our gas and hotel money for the drive down and back! This method is great because the girls can see the bottle filling up and it never even affects my budget!

Savings tip #2….THE OLD SPARE CHANGE IN A JAR TRICK!  🙂
We always have spare change.  I find change in our washer or dryer almost every time I wash a load.  This goes straight into the jar…  but make sure you drop your dimes in your DIMES FOR DISNEY BOTTLE first!  We started a change jar about 6 weeks ago, and already have about $60 in it.  Spare change adds up fast!  It’s also good motivation for who’s going to help clean…”Let’s see who can find the most change to add to our jar?!”  My girls love any kind of challenge!  🙂

Savings tip #3…THE 52 WEEK SAVINGS PLAN
This works great if you can afford to go past the $52 dollar mark.  We’ve just started this.  Another great idea found on Pinterest!  Here’s how it works…Week 1, you save $1 towards your trip.  Week #2, you save $2, Week #3, you save $3…so on and so on.  By the time you reach week 52, you will have $1,378!  We are going to start back at 1 after we reach the 52 mark.  I think we have about 86 weeks left til our trip.  (I wish we could leave tomorrow!)  This is our ticket money.  Our Disney passes come out to close to $1800 for a family of 6 with 8 day passes.  BUY YOUR TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME ONLINE TO SAVE MONEY!  Tickets always seem to cost more when you buy them at the window.  Buy the passes ahead of time. (DON’T FORGET TO BRING THEM WITH YOU ON YOUR TRIP!) If you don’t use them right away, it’s ok…They don’t expire unless you visit a park, then you have 14 days before they expire.

Savings tip #4…SACRIFICE THE LITTLE THINGS
Now, the smaller amounts won’t really make a dent in my budget; but as we get to the higher amounts, I will notice.  I am sacrificing my Starbucks, Saladworks wraps for lunch, and daily fountain sodas to save money for this trip.  Instead of spending $6 on a coffee every day, I’m making a pot of coffee at home and at work and buying some yummy creamers.  That’s $30 saved in a week!  I eat 2-3 wraps a week normally.  Switching that for a packed lunch from home…$18/wk saved!  Fountain sodas…I have officially been soda free for over 4 weeks!  It’s full of sugar and makes you bloated anyways. 🙂  So technically, I’m not breaking the bank with this savings plan… just swapping a few things to help save money.

If you smoke, quit smoking!  Every pack you don’t buy, add $6 to your vacation fund!  You’ll be healthier and you’ll be saving towards a trip you will definitely love!  A pack a day at $6 is $2190 a year!

Savings tip #5…Ask for cash and gift cards for birthdays, holidays, etc…
My kids have started asking for cash, Disney gift cards (can be used at parks), or Visa/MasterCard gift cards to use as their own spending money for our trip.  This definitely helps us out!  Every little bit counts!

Savings tip #6…  Join paid survey sites like Swagbucks.com
You can earn points by watching short videos, answering daily polls, searching the web, filling out surveys,etc… and then you trade them in for gift cards!  Paypal gift cards, Amazon gift cards, restaurant gift cards… you choose from a variety of places and amounts based on how many points you have.  I’m not sure how long it takes to receive these, but I know of people who verify this is legit…and it doesn’t cost you anything!  So, when my face is stuck in front of the computer or on my iphone…I log in and do a few things to earn points.  This will help buy the lanyards with coin purse on it from Amazon so we have something to keep our phones and park tickets in without losing them.  Paypal gift cards can help contribute to the cost of our rental home.

Savings tip #7… Direct Deposit!
You won’t miss it if you don’t see it!  Have a small amount of your paycheck direct deposited into an account when you are paid.

Savings tip #8…  Have a separate vacation savings account.
You won’t be tempted to spend the money if it’s in a separate account than your normal “have to pay bills with this” account.  It also helps if your vacation bank account is for a bank that is out of your way, so you can’t “conveniently” stop by for a small withdrawal here and there.  You want to save this money, so if it’s not convenient to get to that bank, you have a way better chance of saving!

Savings tip #9…  Those extra weeks in a year
I get paid biweekly.  There is usually 2 months each year where I end up with an extra paycheck since there are 5 weeks instead of 4.  This is GREAT!  I plan my budget based on 2 paychecks a month, so the months with an extra check, I plan on putting 60% of it into my vacation savings.  The rest is left there for the inevitable need to pay/buy something.

Savings tip #10… INCOME TAX REFUND!!!
Some people don’t get an income tax refund….some may need to pay taxes…while others get back a pretty nice chunk.  We usually get back a pretty nice chunk, so most of that is planned on going towards our trip.

Savings tips #11… Sell what you don’t need
With four girls, they are constantly outgrowing clothes, toys, room decor, etc…  We usually have 1-2 yard sales each summer to clear out some space and sell a few items on eBay or craigslist throughout the year. Any money made from these things is set into our Disney-stache jar.  (My daughter saw that on Pinterest and made a jar with a big mustache on it!  Very cute)

Saving for a Disney trip is definitely doable!  We are a family of six living off of about $28,000 a year and can manage this trip.  You can too!  Well…that’s it for today.  I’ll be adding more when I get some more time to sit.  😉

M. Rivera at 6:53 PM

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Inspiring their imagination…

As a child, I remember how excited I became when I lost a tooth. It meant a visit from the tooth fairy. A visit from the tooth fairy somehow made the pain of loosing a tooth go away. When I think of the happy moments  of my childhood at my grandmother’s house, I think of stories, fairy tales, and cartoons. Sitting on the couch combing Mimi’s hair as we watch the Muppet show  was the best! Thumbelina has always had my heart. I loved the story and could imagine what it would be like to sleep in a tiny tea-cup. I have pretty little tea cups at my home for my granddaughters to drink their hot cocoa in.I remember my brother tieing a thread to his tooth and slamming the door shut so that his loose tooth would come out quicker, cause the tooth fairy always visited Mimi’s house with special treats. Creating memories is important for our children.

Inspiring their imagination brings fun and happiness into our lives. Their actions, stories and responses are my inspiration for writing books that will inspire others.

In this video clip, my granddaughter is telling her mom all about the visit from the tooth fairy!