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Category Archives: Family ideas

Need last-minute shaloch manos ideas?

I am a bit behind this year with blogging and Purim preparations with juggling my family, teaching, freelance writing, and household tasks. I am sure many of you can relate. Some years I start early and don’t have to wait until the last minute to do everything. At least I still have a week to go!

In case you are behind and want some ideas, I have a few tips for shaloch manos from those we received and made last year. Take a look!

Shaloch manos:

Last year, we made shaloch manos inspired by a teacher appreciation gift I saw somewhere.  I found the instructions by Googling “teacher appreciation water bottle gift.” I unfortunately cannot find the site I used, but if you look on Pinterest there are many similar ideas. They each vary in complexity and difficulty. I chose an easy idea that did not use brads or lots of different layers of paper. It was cute, but the holders did keep sliding off during delivery (even though they were tied on).

I used a variety of scrapbook papers, scrapbooking stickers, small labels (for the message), and my tape runner (to adhere the pocket). We inserted a Crystal Light drink mix packet and attached a granola bar to the back. A bow and tape secured it all together.

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Some other FAVORITE SHALOCH MANOS we received last year are shown below:

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Movie theme – popcorn box, chocolate bar, microwave popcorn, Coca Cola, and hamantashen. (Great idea Larry & Lori!)

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Pizza theme – a whole meal in a pizza box: hamantashen pizzas, peppers, Bissli, chocolate bar, chocolate drink and a few other goodies. (Thank you Michelle and Ephraim!)

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Red, White and Blue theme – Red licorice, white Airheads, Oreos (blue package), and hamantashen. (Thanks Wende and Don!)

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Berry theme – all foods with a berry flavor! (Thanks Shari and Rabbi!)

FAVORITE CONTAINERS:

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Nautical theme – this family always chooses a container and costume themes to match. They include a photo of the family on their shaloch manos container or label. They are amazing! (Thanks Bella and Yosef!)

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Decorative box – I loved this box so much that I use it in my classroom for treats! (Thanks Tammy and Mark!)

For more inspiration, check out my friend Mara’s (from Kosher on a Budget) awesome Shaloch Manos ideas:

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St. Louis Jewish Orthodox Community – Purim Megillah Readings 2014

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It is time for my annual post sharing the Orthodox Megillah readings here in St. Louis. (I apologize to my non-St. Louis readers that this post will not apply to you. However, you may skip down to the bottom for other Purim-related posts.) This is particularly helpful for moms with young children who are not old enough to stay up (or be quiet) during Megillah readings. It is also helpful for those having to work around their “work” schedules.

Here is my current list as of 3:30 p.m. on Friday, March 7. If you see any errors or have any additions, let me know and I will update the post.

Saturday, March 15:

8:00 p.m.        Beit Shira, at The Cedars, 13190 S. Outer 40, Town and Country, MO 63017

8:15 p.m.        Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha
xx                  Agudas Israel
xx                  U City Shul (formerly Beth Hamedrosh Hagadol Sha’arei Chesed)
xx                  Bais Abraham
xx                  Young Israel
xx                  Congregation Bais Menachem

8:30 p.m.        Nusach Hari B’nai Zion

9:45 p.m.        Torah Prep Boys School, reading for women

10:00 p.m.      Young Israel, Beit Medrash

Sunday, March 16:

6:30 a.m.        Young Israel Shacharis in Beit Medrash, followed by Megillah, 7:10 a.m.

7:45 a.m.        Agudas Israel Shacharis followed by Megillah

8:00 a.m.        U City Shul Shacharis followed by Megillah
xx                  Bais Abraham Shacharis followed by Megillah, 8:30 a.m.
xx                  Young Israel, followed by Megillah, 8:35 a.m.
xx                  Nusach Hari B’nai Zion, followed by Megillah, 8:30 a.m.

8:30 a.m.        Congregation Bais Menachem Shacharis, followed by Megillah, 9:00 a.m.
xx                  Beit Shira with the Block Yeshiva boys, at The Cedars, 13190 S. Outer 40, Town and Country

8:40 a.m.        Tpheris Israel Chevra Kadisha

9:30 a.m.       Women’s Megillah Reading, home of the Goldmeiers, 219 Topton Way, Clayton

10:15 a.m.     Agudas Israel, reading for women
xx                 Aish HaTorah, Purim celebration including an “original” megillah reading
xx                    brunch afterwards (cost $8 adult, $5 child (ages 5 – 11), free pony rides for kids 11:30 – 12:30

11:00 a.m.      Young Israel, by Levy Zimand for his bar mitzvah

11:30 a.m.      Epstein Hebrew Academy

5:00 p.m.       Congregation Bais Menachem

Related fliers:

Agudas Israel: Agudah.Purim.Schedule.2014

Bais Abraham: Bais Abe Purim flyer 2014

* For more information on any of the shuls, please contact them individually. Here is a link to all of the congregations here in St. Louis.

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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Family ideas, Holidays

 

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Post-Christmas shopping success!

I love after-holiday sales, even for holidays I don’t celebrate. I have gotten good at finding great deals after Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc.! The key is to not think about whether you celebrate that holiday or not, but to think about things that might be on sale that you could use. There are many seasonal products that anyone can use regardless of religious or holiday observances. For example, read here to find out what you can get at Easter time: Shop those Easter sales today!

Here is my wrap-up from the post-Christmas sales I hit yesterday.

My regular post-holiday trips are to Target, Michaels, CVS and Walgreens. I also look for any deals at Aldi and Schnucks on any seasonal food items, but those are normally my husband’s errands. This year the Michaels’ holiday items were already on sale when I was there Christmas Eve. I like to look for holiday craft kits that I can hang onto for the following year for my students. Here is what I got this year:

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At Michaels I found:

  • foam stickers of several types
  • an ornament craft kit for the kids’ photos (I used a wreath one this year and the kids loved it.)
  • some foam gingerbread men
  • some pencil-top holiday erasers I will give with my holiday gifts to my students next year.

Walgreens did not have anything I needed this year, but in the past I have gotten holiday cards, decorated holiday cups for my students, chocolate, stickers, and a cake decorating kit. See my post from last year: After-Christmas sales are great for everyone!

This year, CVS also did not have anything I wanted, although I could have gotten some chocolate, but passed this time! We did, however, find something my son had been wanting on his holiday wish list. He even had some holiday money to spend. He got a radio-controlled car for $6.50 (half off $12.99). They had lots of them and we even went back today to get one for the gift drawer!

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We were tremendously successful at Target. I guess I can add it to my list of Why I love Target! I found items not only in the Christmas section, but in the Home section and household aisles. Food items were 30% off and Home items were 50% off. Here is what we found:

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The food section is always full of holiday deals: (they were only 30% off now, but still a great deal)

  • holiday flavors of m&m’s (peppermint white chocolate and mint dark chocolate, two of my favorites),
  • icing (Who cares if my Shabbos dessert has peppermint icing or tree sprinkles?)
  • mint chocolate chip cookie mix
  • seasonal soft cookies (For $1.74 this makes a nice little treat for my boys.)
  • small packaged seasonal cookies (A treat is a treat no matter what shape; we can eat reindeer, too.)

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We found the following in the Home section and Stocking Stuffer aisle:

  • a Deluxe Board Game set (regularly $20, got for $10; includes 7 games)
  • a surround-sound speaker (regularly $10, got for $5; great for our iPods)
  • two bath puffs (We always need to replace these and these may hold up a bit better than the dollar store ones. For items you should get at the dollar store, see my post Are “dollar stores” really a good deal?)

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As for holiday items you might think are only for Christmas, I found:

  • an outdoor extension cord (We needed one for lawn care and Sukkos.)
  • mini lights (great for the Sukkah)
  • a winter scene craft kit (Last year I found a Superhero scene craft kit during their summer sales and my boys loved it. It made for a great family activity one night.)

This is also the time to look for light and plug timers and any type of extension cords for around the house (good for a variety of purposes). They were all 50% off!

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They also had tons of these seasonally-labeled storage bins, expecting that people will need them to store their holiday decorations and supplies. We use them for kids’ clothing and other supplies in our basement. At $6, this normally $7.99 tub was a great deal. I did not get the green and red ones, though!

I was very pleased with all my purchases and may go back next week to see if any other items are marked down even further!

Share your holiday finds in the Comments section. This will help other people think of great ideas for what to do with holiday items!

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Follow up on ditching cable – we love our Roku!

Roku

Several months ago I wrote about our ever-ending quest to find larger items to save money on. We finally “bit the bullet” and got rid of our cable. Even after reading about others who had done it, I thought we could never live without it. It was our one splurge – not eating out much, not spending much on clothing, makeup, recreation, etc. As my friend Mara (of Kosher on a Budget) calls it – there are no sacred cows. So we did it – but after some careful research! Here is my original post: Save big on your phone and cable!

The hookup of our Roku device was very easy – however, we first bought the wrong one. We didn’t realize that our TV would not work with the hookup of the newest Roku model. It said it worked with most HD TVs, so we just assumed it would be fine with ours. Wrong! Be sure to check what kind of hookup your TV requires and be sure that model of Roku has that connection! And be aware that the Roku devices do not always come with the cable you may need. Read reviews for this, too, so you know all the parts you may need to get.

So we returned the newer one and got the previous model (which did save us $50, by the way) and thanks to Amazon Prime, it came in just two days. The hookup was then quite fast and we were able to watch in a few minutes.

The hard part was figuring out the multitude of channels. I still do not know what they all are for and many have charges that are not specifically stated on those first home screens. We have stuck with using HuluPlus ($7.99/month), Netflix ($7.99/month), and Amazon Prime ($79/year or $39 if you are a student). My boys also like PBS Kids, which is free.

Here were my original worries about giving up our AT & T:

  • we wouldn’t be able to keep track of our favorite shows and when new episodes were available
  • we would get behind on our favorite shows
  • our favorite shows would not be available

So far 2 out of 3 of our worries were unfounded. HuluPlus lets you add shows to your Favorites list and then new episodes appear on your Queue as they are available. You can also manually select any episodes or shows to your Queue. The font size is a bit hard to read on HuluPlus on our smallish TV, but no biggie!

The last, that some of our favorite shows would not be available, was true. Neither HuluPlus, Netflix or Amazon Prime seem to have current episodes of Disney, ABC Family, Lifetime, USA or CBS shows – without an added fee. You can often buy one episode of a show for $1.99, but I am not about to pay that for one show!

So for now, we are watching older seasons on Netflix when we can find them (Disney, some ABC Family, and CBS are available). And we are waiting and hoping all of the above mentioned stations will work out some deal with these streaming providers soon! The other option is to watch them online, but that is not as convenient for us with my laptop which often overheats. A friend has mentioned hooking up our laptop to the TV screen, but that is for another day!

The boys love it and really have so much to watch. They are loving catching up on older episodes of their favorite shows, finding every superhero show imaginable, and the watching the PBS Kids channel, which has a large selection of great shows (Arthur, Magic School Bus, Wild Kratts, Dinosaur Train, Word Girl, and more).

Have you made the switch? Share your feedback below in the Comments section!

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Making lunches – a matrix of choices!

healthy gluten-free school lunch

Many of your children have probably started back to school already. Mine do not start until next Wednesday. However, with this being the first year my little boys have gone to camp, we have been making lunches for the past four weeks. (Or should I say my husband has.) It has gotten me to thinking about how to make this chore easier and to provide the most variety for my children. My husband and I typically take leftovers to work, because we can heat things up or don’t mind eating something cold if we have to. The boys on the other hand…

I used to have a list on the refrigerator of lunch choices, but it has gotten a bit out of date. So I created a new one. It mostly includes dairy options because with keeping kosher meat is expensive. There are also only certain days the kids can bring meat to their Jewish day school.

Below is my matrix of lunch choices (in green). It will be a great tool for adding to our grocery list each week. Then each day when we pack lunches, we will choose one item from each column. This way our kids will get a variety of foods and it will make sure that all of one type of food doesn’t get eaten up in a week! (I just bought a lot of Chex Mix on sale last week at Walgreens and if I let them, my kids would have it every day!) Feel free to edit this document for your needs and your kids’ tastes.

Lunch choices 2013

Other tips for saving money on packing lunches:

∞ Use up your leftovers when you can. This may not work as well for the kids, but the grownups can eat them!

ziploc divided container∞ Use as little packaging as possible. We use reusable water bottles, lunch bags, and as many containers as we can instead of bags. I just bought these Ziploc divided containers for my kids’ lunches and today was their first day using them. I figured it would be a great way for them to know what was their lunch food and what should be saved for snacks. We also use cloth snack bags for some items when we can. For more details, see my post Switch over your disposables.”

∞ Buy cheap water bottles. I have learned from camp that my kids lose water bottles constantly. It does not pay to buy nice ones because I cannot count on them coming back! So the dollar Spot at Target and the dollar store are my favorite places to buy water bottles. See my posts on Why I love Target! and Are ‘dollar stores’ really a good deal?

∞ Stock up on nonperishable lunch items. When you spot something on sale (and even better have a coupon, too) get a few! I got granola bars on sale at Target yesterday and had a manufacturer’s coupon and a Target coupon. This is the best way to stock up – having all three conditions! I also buy in bulk when I can through Costco and Whole Foods. See my post on “Bulk discounts.”

∞ Make as much homemade as you can. We recently got a breadmaker and my husband is enjoying figuring out the best recipes to use. It smells so good when he has a batch ready to go in the morning, With all four boys in elementary school this year, we could easily go through a loaf of bread in a day! Our next project is to experiment with some homemade snacks. See Little House Living and my posts on (More) Make your own… and Don’t buy it, make it homemade – Part 3 for recipes.

∞ Look for outlet stores. We recently found a local outlet bread store (thanks, Lori!) that saves us a ton on bread, bagels, and sandwich thins. They even have store coupons!

∞ Use your price list. Make sure you are buying things at the best price you can get. Just because something is in a larger size of is on sale, doesn’t always mean it is the best deal! To learn more, check out my post “Keeping a price list.”

∞ Check out the sales at the end of this month. Pretty soon all the back-to-school items will go on sale, which means lunch bags, containers, and the like on sale for cheap prices (check out Target, Wal-Mart, drug stores, etc. for these deals). Last summer we got the boys their current lunch bags for $3 each! I love them because they have a zipper at the top and a space for their name on the back. I also got backpacks from Lands’ End at a very deep discount last summer! Be sure to stock up on those swimsuits and rash guards while you are at it, too!

Do you have any tips for packing lunches that you would like to share? Please add them in the Comments section! Thanks Rivka H. and Jessi L, for your ideas I incorporated into the matrix.

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Summer savings guide

Summer Fun

With our current predicament of job uncertainty for both my husband and I, spending as little money as possible this summer has become even more important. This is the first summer since my little boys were small that we have all been home, too. That means more expenses than usual – food, excursions, utilities, etc. Here are the tips I have discovered so far for doing summer on the cheap:

Ahead of time:

Prepare for summer the summer before. Buy towels, hats, etc. at the end of the season so you have them for the coming year. When all the kids are in camp, we needed a lot of swimsuits and towels to avoid doing laundry every day! It helped to shop ahead.

Get some of your essentials at the dollar store. Sunglasses and water bottles are best to get at the dollar store because my boys lose them often. I don’t have to feel bad when this happens if I have only paid a $1! See my post on “Are “dollar stores” really a good deal?”

Watch throughout the spring and summer for sales on swimwear. Last year I got rash guards and swim trunks for a great price at the end of the season for my boys for this year. They actually still fit into their size from last year, but I am ready when they need a size up! Good online stores to check include The Children’s Place, Land’s End, and L.L. Bean.

Stock up on sunscreen before summer is here. Last year with all four of my boys in camp every day, we went through a ton of sunscreen. On top of that they broke out from many brands, even Aveeno, which you would expect not to be a problem. They have excema, which can make their skin break out more than usual. Luckily I found out about The Honest Company. I love their products! Their sunscreen is a great consistency, has no bad or perfume smell, and my boys don’t break out or scream in pain from it.

You can try a free sample pack (you pay only shipping). Then you can sign up to receive a bundle every month. The Essentials bundle includes five of their products. (They also have a Diaper & Wipes bundle and Health & Wellness bundle, too, with other choices of products.) I can’t afford to order a bundle every month, but get them a few times a year. You can choose how often you want them delivered. Every time I order, I get a sunscreen, so I am ready for summer!

Be on the watch for great deals on memberships to local attractions. These deals usually don’t occur during the summer. For the St. Louis Science Center’s 50th anniversary of their planetarium, they had a sale on memberships – $50 off! It has been our best purchase ever! See my post “Become a member!”

Early summer or (late spring):

Plan ahead for where you would like to go. The first week of summer that I was home, we had no official plans or schedule. We were making it up on the fly. This really made the days long and me stressed! Putting together my Summer Bucket List really helped because now I have done the research ahead of time and can either choose activities for the whole week or the night before. See my post “Summer Bucket List (aka Camp Mommy).”

Take advantage of the many free or cheap excursions in town. These include:

Watch for sales on crocs and sandals! We were fortunate to get new crocs (fake brand) a few weeks ago at “Five Below,” of all places!

Throughout:

Pack food wherever you go. Even if you won’t be there for long, pack at least a snack and water. This helps with cranky kids and avoiding high cost emergency food purchases.

Take advantage of your local library. We have been going to their great events all summer and check out books and movies each week while we are there. It is so nice to have the time to do this and with the summer reading programs, we all earn prizes for reading! We are enrolled in the county’s program and the local Jewish library’s. I have not updated my Summer Reading programs post, but see last year’s here.

Look out for ice cream coupons. We have found ice cream coupons in our coupon mailer that comes in our mailbox every week. Check local calendars, too. Here in St. Louis, we have a calendar called the Town Planner. It is mailed to families every year and has coupons tailored for your area. They also have coupons on their website. Another source for ice cream coupons is your local Valpak. These come in the mail in some areas and they also have a website, too. You might not always find coupons for the location you want, but sometimes the drive can be worth the savings! You might also earn ice cream coupons from your Summer Reading programs.

Forget about your thermostat timer. Keep your thermostat set as if you are not home and then adjust as you feel it is too hot in the house! See my post Saving money and energy on Shabbos.”

Use your birthday freebies. If your birthday falls in the summer, or if your kids’ do, be sure to sign up for those birthday freebies! See my posts:

Enjoy your summer and share your summer tips in the Comments section!

 

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Summer Bucket List (aka Camp Mommy)

SwimmingThis summer is the first in a while that I have had all the kids home with virtually no camp. Since I am back to full-time teaching and am off during the summer, it doesn’t make financial sense to the send the kids to camp. So this year, it is “Camp Mommy.” I have been winging things for the past week, having just finished school at the end of May. But now my older son is off, too, and we really need some sort of schedule. So last night and today I have gotten to work on this! (By the way, I have three 5-year-olds and one 9-year-old, all boys.)

I created a schedule for the day of what we will do when. The schedule includes time for indoor play, outdoor play, snacks and meals, movie or TV time, and excursions. Crafts, cooking, reading and academic review will fill in the gaps.

Then I have been putting together our summer bucket list – those excursions we will take. With four kids, staying in the house all day will not work! I had seen a few resources here and there and put them together in a useable way. One idea that I really liked was having slips of paper that you draw from each week to make a schedule. I think drawing each day one at a time would be difficult, especially since some excursions are more timely than others and have varying costs.

Here is what I came up with:

A fill-in schedule: Summer Bucket List schedule form

Cards with activities for day & afternoon excursions and evening outings:

The instructions to use these are as follows:

1. Modify the attached schedule for your own needs.

2. On the excursions file, add in local excursions that you would like to visit this summer (color coding denotes cost).

3. Take a look at the starred cards, which are timely activities. Decide if you want to research these ahead of time and then take them out of the weekly drawing and manually put them on your schedule as they occur OR just figure it out as they get chosen.

4. Print the schedule and activity cards.

5. Sort the cards based on color-coding. You may want to have envelopes or buckets for each type.

6. Write in any events you already have on your schedule for that week – like summer library activities, family events, camp, etc.

7. Pick the number of cards that work best for your family from each color category. (I plan to leave space for one library and at least one park trip a week. My kids still nap so I might use shorter activities or trips to the park or library in the afternoons. If your kids are older you may spend a whole day at one activity or choose two per day.

8. Lay the cards down on your schedule and create a plan for the week.

9. You may decide to discard the cards you used that week or reuse those that you would like to do again another week.

I hope these directions are not too complicated. Please give me your feedback so I can edit it or change it to be more helpful!

Hope you like them!

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Summer 2013 Dollar (or Free) Movies

5 Movie Tickets for 1 Day

I am sorry to post this so late, but this summer I have all my kids home, which means less time to blog and do my own things! However, there are so many great things to do in the summer, many of which are cheap. Summer movies are great to avoid the heat and perhaps see some movies on the big screen that you missed the first time around.

I have updated last years’ list of theaters that offer free or cheap movies. These are typically only offered during the summer. But check your local theater’s website, because they may offer other promotions like senior discounts, mom and baby viewings, concession discounts, etc., year-round.

I have culled sources from across the Internet to provide you a comprehensive list. If you find a theater offering a program that I missed, please let me know! Participating theater state locations are provided for each listing so you don’t have to click on all of them one to see if the program is being offered near you!

CarmikeSummer Kids Series. This theater chain offers $4 movie combo, which includes movie, popcorn drink, and snack. Some theaters start June 3 while others start June 10; days vary by theater. Participating locations vary each year. Be sure to look at both sections below the general information to see if there is a participating theater near you. Some locations even have showings more than once a week. They have participating theaters in 33 states: AL, AR, CO, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO (Warrensburg), MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, and WV.

Cinemark TheatresSummer Movie Clubhouse. $1 per show or $5 for 10 shows if purchased in advance. They have participating theaters in 37 states: AL, AK, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, MS, MN, MO (Kansas City), MT, NC, NM, NV, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WV and WS. Click on your local theater for details.

CinemaworldSummer KidFest. June 7 – Aug. 1, seven days a week. FREE for kids, adults $2 or donation of non-perishable pet-food item. Schedule may vary by location. Locations in FL and RI.

Classic Cinemas Wednesday Morning Movie Series. $1 per ticket. Runs June 12 – Aug. 7. Multiple theaters in IL.

Clearview CinemasClearview Cinemas Kid’s Club. July 10 and 11 – August 22, 2013. Wednesdays and Thursday, Tickets FREE. Schedule of movies varies by theater. Participating locations in NJ and NY.

Cobb Theatres - Free Summer Kids Shows. Their website does not have details for this program except to check your local theater for a schedule. Locations in AL, CO, FL, GA, and VA.

Dickinson TheatresSummer Vacation Movie Series. Prices vary between FREE and $2 per ticket. Select the theatre near you and then click on the box with SVMS. This will then lead you to the flier for that theater. Locations in AR, AZ, KS, MO (Lee’s Summit and Kansas City), NE, OK, and TX.

Georgia Theatre Company Summer Movie Series. This series is offered for $1 on Tuesdays and Thursdays in June and July. Participating locations are in FL, GA, SC, and VA.They are showing the entire Harry Potter series of movies, as well as other favorite animated kids’ selections.

Goodrich Quality TheatersKids Summer Movies. Begins June 10, Monday through Friday. Tickets $1. Participating locations in IN, IL, MI, and MO (Jefferson City and Columbia).

Harkins TheatresSummer Movie Fun. Less than $1 per ticket. Locations in AZ, CA, CO, OK, and TX. Click on your preferred theater for their schedule and movies listings. Shows start as early as May 27.

Malco Theatres Kids Summer Film Fest. Runs June 4 – July 31, 2013, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. $2 per ticket. Locations in AR, KY, MS, and TN.

Marcus TheatresKids Dream Summer Film Series. Runs June 18 – Aug. 15, 2013, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. $2 per ticket. Locations in IA, IL, MN, ND, NE, OH, and WI.

Marquee CinemasKid’s Summer Movie Program – June through August, start dates vary by location; Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tickets FREE. Participating locations in CT, FL, KY, NC, NJ, NY, PA, VA,and  WV.

Muvico TheatersFREE Summer Film Fest. June 11 – Aug. 15, 2013, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays. Locations are in CA, FL, and IL.

Regal CinemasSummer Movie Express. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, $1 per ticket. Start dates vary by location. Participating locations are in AK, AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MO (Fenton, Hazelwood, and Springfield), MS, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WA, and WV. Great Escape Theaters are now owned by Regal Cinemas.

Wehrenberg TheatresFamily Summer Series. June 5 – Aug. 15, 2013, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tickets FREE. Locations in IL, IA, MO (Chesterfield, St. Charles, O’Fallon, South County, Des Peres, Arnold, and St. Peters), and MN.

* For more summer family activities, click on the links here or on the “Family ideas” category on the right menu and/or click on the “Family Fun Outside the Home” page on the top menu bar.

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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Family ideas, Other savings tips

 

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Free Bowling and Skating – Summer 2013

The year has gone by so quickly and it is time to start making summer plans with the kids. This will be the first summer I have had in a while home with my children. They are excited about “Camp Mommy.” I hope they won’t be disappointed!

Below are FREE bowling and roller skating opportunities to take advantage of this summer.

Kids Bowl Free:

Kids can receive two free bowling games a day for the entire summer thanks to generous bowling alleys across the nation (they also have locations in Canada). Shoe rental cost is not included. Check out their website for information on getting your school involved, locations, and frequently asked questions. The age limit is determined by each bowling alley. Dates also vary by alley, but some go from April until October!

There is also an option to sign up for a family pass (for the adults), but it is not necessary to receive your child’s free games. This may be a good deal if you go multiple times over the summer with your kids. You will have to figure it out based on how many times you think you will go, and the cost per game and for shoe rental at your participating bowling alley.

AMF Summer Unplugged:

AMF offers their own summer bowling program for kids. Kids 15 and under get two free games every day of the summer (from May 13 – Sept. 2). Again shoe rental is not included and a family pass is available for purchase. AMF has locations in ALL BUT 14 states in the United States. This year there is no need to print coupons or vouchers; they will give you a membership card on your first visit. And if you forget your card, they can look you up!

Brunswick Bowling:

Brunswick also has a summer bowling program for kids. Students 18 and younger can receive one free game of bowling in June, July, and August. For children 12 and younger, you just add them to your Bonus Zone profile (a rewards program and email newsletter). Children 13 -18 should create their own Bonus Zone account. Brunswick has locations in 18 states and Ontario – Canada.

KidsSkateFree logo

Kids Skate Free:

According to their website, skating is:

  • A fun way to increase muscular strength and cardiorespiratory endurance.
  • A way to burn anywhere from 330 to 600 calories per hour!
  • Great for improving balance and flexibility.
  • A fantastic source of aerobic exercise.
  • A key to weight control.
  • Easy to learn.
  • A great tension reliever and enthusiasm builder.
  • An excellent way to help maintain good health.

The website features a tool for finding a location near you, frequently asked questions, and other information. Times and days vary by location.

For more ideas of fun things to do with your children, check out the:

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Family ideas, Other savings tips

 

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Disasters: What can you do to help?

Tornado

Last week, several areas of Missouri, including the area of the school where I teach, were hit badly by a tornado. There were many families whose homes were severely damaged and many who were displaced. I can’t imagine the stress and hardship these families are going through. It is during times like these that we count our blessings and are grateful for small and big things.

Thankfully there has been a tremendous outpouring of support from our school district staff and the community to help these families. It is amazing all the efforts that have been launched, from collecting donations of items and money, to providing meals and shelter, to helping clear the debris, to providing information on resources and aid.

With our technological age, it is much easier to distribute information regarding volunteer opportunities and assistance available.And for those families in the area who didn’t have access, volunteers canvassed to get them that information. For those of you who want to help, it isn’t always easy to know what website or place to go to for ways to help. Here is a short guide to lending a hand in natural disaster relief.

∞ Check the local school district’s website and Facebook page. They will often have information on how to help or how to get help.

∞ Check the local newspaper’s website for current news, links to organizations, and more.

patch logo∞ Check out Patch.com, a new community-oriented news source. On this main page, you can search for the website for your local area. They had great coverage of the local tornado and links to many local organizations providing aid and resources.

amer red cross logoAmerican Red Cross – Although most known for its blood drive efforts, the American Red Cross helps with disaster response, too. To find out more, click here.

salv army logoSalvation Army – Search the Volunteer Match website to be linked with Salvation Army volunteer opportunities. You can also donate money, household items, or clothing to help those in need. To learn more about Salvation Army’s variety of disaster services and efforts, click here.

united way logo 2 United WayVolunteer to help the many efforts of the United Way. You can learn more about general opportunities, take the pledge to join, and see local opportunities. You can also go to your local United Way website and view a volunteer calendar with specific events in your area.

* Please note: All of these organizations also gladly accept monetary donations, if you are not able to give time or resources.

Related posts:

 

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