4 Simple Way to Entertain Small Children

4 Ways to Entertain Children for a Few Minutes

Sometimes it amazes me what does and does not catch the attention of small children.  For example, I'm really not surprised to see a kid sucked into a TV, video game, or similar device.

However, when something as simple as an old, uncharged cell phone or a giant cardboard box holds one or both of my kids attention for 10 minutes or more...well, I'm a little impressed.

Tonight, Gabe saw that I had a pair of random kid safe scissors (where did they come from?  I don't know!) on my desk that I'd just used to open my textbooks I received in the mail.  Well he wanted to play with them and, after he initially tried to cut my shirt, I gave him a piece of notebook paper to cut.

He played all by himself on the floor for about ten minutes.  Then he asked me to take a turn or two cutting slits into the paper.  After about fifteen minutes, he was done, and I was happy that my kid spent 15 minutes doing something other than watching TV or playing video games.  It's refreshing to know that simplicity is still important, even to kids who spend the majority of their time wrapped up in a crazy, busy, tech world.

Simple Ways to Entertain Your Kids Minus Technology

  1. Scissors and paper (use varying paper and scissors to make it more fun)
  2. Washable paint, paper, and paint brushes
  3. Play doh (seriously, kids love this stuff!)
  4. Cardboard boxes, especially huge ones

Yes, many of these can be messy.  Sit them on the kitchen floor or at the table or something.  Sometimes we have to make sacrifices if we want a few minutes to do the dishes or go to the bathroom or whatever it is we need to do.
What do you offer your children to steal five minutes of mom (or dad) time?

Baby News

So, I know my last post should have given it away, but I never did really announce that I'm expecting the third (and final) baby for our little family, but here's my baby and gender announcement all in one!  Obviously, as the picture reveals, we are expecting a girl!  Oh thank goodness!  With two little boys and a husband who's been dying to have a little girl, I feel so blessed that we finally got to make that a reality!

At our initial ultrasound (the diagnostic one), we were unable to find out the gender.  Part of me still believes it's just because we had the same ultrasound tech as when I was pregnant with Gabe and she didn't seem to like us very much!  The lady was mad, when we found out Gabe was a boy, that one (or both) of us mentioned that we'd been hoping for a girl.  She went on a rant about fertility drugs and being thankful we could have children naturally and blah blah blah.  Basically, she took it all personally, like we'd told her that we wanted to return him or something.

How to Know You're Pregnant, For Real

Photo from here.
So to say my first pregnancy was a breeze would be an understatement.  Really it wasn't even like being pregnant at all.  I only had two pregnancy symptoms.  First, I got terrible acne during, after, and still as a result of my first pregnancy.  Second, I got mild heartburn the last 4 to 6 weeks.  That's it.

No.  I'm not kidding.

Apparently, I gave everyone the very wrong impression of pregnancy because no one close to me experienced pregnancy with quite the splendor I did.  They all not-so-secretly wished I'd suffer through my next child.

Well, I think they may have gotten their wish... at least a little bit.

Now that I get to experience pregnancy "for real", I can see why nobody liked it quite as much as I did.
Photo from here.

First Trimester Symptoms
Terrible, awful nausea.
Some food aversions.
Some food cravings.

Second Trimester Symptoms
Hip joint pain.
Muscle spasms/"charlie horses" in my calves.
General muscle tightness and aching in legs.
Awful light headed and dizziness.

Phew.  Yeah, that's how it's went so far.  Usually, it's one symptom for a week or two and then we move on to another.  I just got out of waking up in the middle of the night with tearful muscle spasms that I do NO IDEA happened to pregnant women.  It's apparently normal.

Relief from Muscle Spasms
Sleep on your side, left side if possible.
Drink lots of water.
Rotate ankles when sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Stretch calves before bed.

So, yep.  This pregnancy has been pretty eventful.  What was your pregnancy like?  Did each one differ from the previous ones or were they similar?

Generosity of a 7 year-old

This is basically just a copy and paste from my personal facebook and is a total parenting brag post, but I think the world deserves to know how awesome I am my kid is.

You know those posts/shares about "Parenting: How to Know You're Doing It Right" or something like that? Well, this is how I know that we're doing something right. 

Last week Talon (my seven year-old first grader) received $5 from the "tooth fairy" (AKA: his grandparents) for a lost tooth. When we were at Wal Mart that day, I told him he should have brought his $5 and he could have played more air hockey or another game with his brother at the arcade. 

I then asked him where his $5 was exactly, thinking I'd forgotten to tell him not to take it to school and he probably lost it. Well, it turns out that his school had a donation box for Riley Children's Hospital and Talon took his $5 to school and stuck it in the box. 

I was a little shocked and I think, at first, Talon thought I was upset with him because he said (a little defensively) "Well, it was for a good cause." My husband & I told him that we were both so proud of him and that, that was an amazing thing to do. 

I have such an amazing little kid who cares about other people so much and can be so selfless. I just want everyone to know what an awesome thing he did, totally on his own and without any influence from us. It was all him. I wrote a note to his teacher and the principal announced it over the intercom.

Parenting. We're doing it right.

See! That was definitely brag worthy.  I love that my kids never cease to amaze.  It makes me all warm and fuzzy to know that my child isn't "corrupted" by the evils of society and is still selfless and generous, at least to a worthwhile extent.

What has you child done to surprise you lately?

Why We're Not Big On Santa

Why Santa, the Easter Bunny, etc Isn't That Important

Yep, it's been a long time.  So, sue me.

Anyway, after finishing wrapping all six (yep, I said it...we only have six) presents to go under our tree, I was thinking about Santa.  There is a huge lack of Santa worship going on in this house.  In fact, my kids (3 and 7 years-old respectively) have never had a Santa picture.  At least, not to my knowledge.

Apparently, there's some new parenting trend related to holiday figure-less child rearing.  I'm not really on or off this train, but I can definitely see some logic in it.  My husband is actually the one that brought it up to me and kindly dramatized childrens' reactions when they discover Santa isn't real.

We scarcely endorse the holiday figures.  There are no presents under our tree from Santa, and I can't remember if there ever have been.

3 Reasons We Don't Care About Santa

He's Not Real

Plain and simple.  Santa isn't real.  For some kids it's devastating to find this out.  Sometimes older siblings even make a point to tell their younger siblings for this very reason.  I just don't see the point in pushing an idea/though/concept/etc that doesn't even exist except for our own entertainment.

We Paid for Those Gifts, Darnit!

This might sound selfish, but we work hard for what we provide to our children.  Sometimes it's a struggled to provide them with some nice extras for the holidays.  Why would I want to give all the credit to some nonexistent fat guy that makes elves do all the work?

Just, Why?

What is the point of it?  I can't really think of a worthwhile explanation for why we make a big deal out of these holiday figures.  I suppose you could say they're fun, but my kids seem to enjoy these holidays without the added bonus of make believe characters.

So, I'm not saying you shouldn't teach your kids that Santa (or the Tooth Fairy, or whoever) is real.  I'm just saying you shouldn't feel guilty if you're teaching them that these people don't exist or if you're simply not pushing the idea that they do.

9 Stocking Stuffer & Small Gift Ideas

So, I'm planning a special project for affordable Christmas gifting this year.  I needed to brainstorm some small gift ideas, similar to stocking stuffers, so I figured I'd share for anyone else who might need a jump start on ideas!
Stocking Stuffer Christmas Gifts

Nail Polish & Other Make Up

Nail polish is always simple and affordable.  Personally, I buy Pure Ice or LA Colors, both of which are affordable and can be purchased at Dollar General or Wal Mart in most areas starting at $1.  I think we'll just go ahead and lump other make up in here as well, so as not to repeat myself.

Hair Accessories

I highly suggest Goody hair styling products.  They are affordable and should be available at your local Wal Mart.  Of course, there are plenty of other brands and options other than hair ties.  Barrettes and bobby pins and other small hair accessories would fit, as well.


Okay, so some of you might argue that this belongs with the nail polish and other make up.  Well, hush, because I think it deserves it's own category.  You can buy Chapstick for as little as 98 cents each in most Wal Mart check out lines (can you tell I spend to much time at Wal Mart?) or you can usually find bundles and save a dollar or more.  Plus, other brands of lip balm are available such as the snazzy looking Eos (for a little higher price, of course).

Bouncy Balls

Oh aren't these just the coolest?  You can buy bouncy balls in bulk online, so you don't have to stand and empty the vending machines one ball at a time.  They have all kinds, from glow in the dark to smiley faces.  Of course, remember these are probably not safe for younger children as they pose a choking hazard.


Another super affordable, easy extra-small gift is stickers.  Again, they can be ordered in bulk online or found for cheap at most local stores (it doesn't even have to be Wal Mart!).  Plus, you can give each kid a few stickers combined with other fun, small gifts.

DIY Bookmarks

I absolutely love this idea from the Design Mom blog!  It's a DIY yarn ball bookmark.  It's super simple and super cute.  A perfect gift for any book lovers you might know!

Okay, this one is obvious right.  Almost everyone loves candy.  Those people that don't are just super weird.  Pictured here is M&Ms by Mars Chocolate.  But, hey, I'm not picky!  You can bet I'd be happy with just about any kind of candy, especially chocolate, regardless of the brand.  For my own project, I'm looking more at the snack size candies.

DIY Candles, Bath Salts, or Bath Scrubs

These DIY mini candles from Something Turquoise really hit the spot with me.  Plus, the ingredients seem totally affordable and the actual DIY part seems do-able.  I also found these DIY candy cane bath salts and this bath scrub recipe.  Let the pampering begin!

Golf Balls & Tees
Okay, so I only know a few men in my family that would truly appreciate these.  However, these are great for them, if no one else!  I hope I don't have to know anything about golf to buy these.

What are your favorite small gift ideas?

How to Recognize a Money Scam

Scams are running rampant these days, whether you're job hunting, trying to buy something on craiglist, trying to earn/save/invest money, or just about anything you can do online. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to scams, especially if they are desperate and/or in need of major financial help. It's important to be aware of indicators of a scam, and always do your research, be overly cautious, and never send anybody your money or personal information.
Don't Be a Victim to Money Scams
While the website at the end of this video no longer seems to be active, I think the video pretty much sums up money scams.  When looking for this kind of information online, there was a ridiculous amount and it was overwhelming.  I'm sharing this because of someone close to me that I think it's relevant to, and I think we should all be aware so we are able to protect ourselves and help our loved ones protect themselves.
  1. If it sounds to good to be true, it usually is.
  2. Never send money to businesses or people you do not know, especially if they are not local.
  3. Scammers typically promise money, but only after they receive some from you.  Your money is stolen and you never receive the product/money you were promised.
  4. You should never share personal information with people/businesses that you are not absolutely sure are trustworthy.  This includes credit/debit card information, bank account information, birth date, social security number, etc.  Identity theft is real!  It can ruin your life.
This all seems so simple, but when you or someone you know is desperate, it's easy for them to be blinded by the hope that these people falsely present!  Be aware.  Be safe!

Inconspicious & Affordable Coupon Organization

So it's unlikely that I'll ever be able to master being an extreme couponer.  That's okay with me.  I don't even remember to get the paper most Sundays, and I keep forgetting to renew my subscription.  Obviously, my couponing skills need work.
Easy Coupon Organization

Anyway, I found this idea somewhere, and it's my favorite by far.  Personally, I'm not really into dragging around one of those giant, obnoxious binders or getting a bunch of envelopes and a container.  That's way too much work and would likely never get done.

This, instead, is three of my favorite things... Simple.  Fast.  Cheap.

I purchased two small photo books/albums from Dollar General for $1 each.  One is for food and one is for non-food.  They're super inconspicuous and most coupons fit without any effort.  I have had to fold a few (see bottom right coupon), but that's no biggie.  All in all, I think this is the way to go if you need something cheap, efficient, and not so overwhelming.