101 Ideas for Summer Fun {Plus a FREE Summer Bucket List Printable}

FREE SUmmer Bucket List Printable

Are you looking for fun activities to do with your kids this summer?  Look no further!  I’ve put together a list of 101 Ideas for Summer Fun!  Plus, you can print out my FREE Summer Bucket List Printable to keep track of the activities you’re hoping to accomplish!  Some of these items are things my kids look forward to all year (like using the magic bucket at the beach to make sand pudding and going to a water park) and some of these are boredom busters that we employ around here so I don’t have to hear any whining! :)

  1. Make Sand Pudding
  2. Go to a Water Park
  3. Draw a hopscotch board with sidewalk chalk and then play hopscotch as a family
  4. Play in the ocean
  5. Go to the pool
  6. Go to a splashpad
  7. Run through the sprinkler
  8. Paint a canvas
  9. Bake cookies
  10. Make homemade ice cream
  11. Go to the movies (Check out this great list of free and frugal summer movie programs)
  12. Have fun on a slip and slide
  13. Have a family dance competition {We’ll be using our Xbox Kinect for this}
  14. Do a bubble painting project
  15. Collect seashells
  16. Create art out of seashells
  17. Make pet rocks
  18. Have an outdoor movie night
  19. Make S’mores
  20. Catch fireflies
  21. Play flashlight tag
  22. Watch fireworks
  23. Play with sparklers
  24. Go on a scavenger hunt
  25. Celebrate Christmas in July by making glitter ornaments
  26. Have a water balloon fight
  27. Have a squirt gun war
  28. Have an indoor beach party
  29. Camp in your backyard
  30. Let your kids do an ice excavation
  31. Build a sand castle
  32. Make tie-dye shirts
  33. Make homemade lemonade
  34. Play wiffle ball
  35. Make googly eye shirts
  36. Let your kids plan all your meals for a week {This is a great way to teach them about planning and nutrition}
  37. Let your kids make dinner start to finish {Use this cookbook for kids for ideas}
  38. Make shirts for the 4th of July
  39. Have a “Make Your Own Sundae” bar
  40. Read through a series of books {We like The Boxcar Children and The Chronicles of Narnia}
  41. Blow bubbles {Use these bubble wands for even more fun}
  42. Hula Hoop
  43. Workout with your kids {Need inspiration? Try this!}
  44. Visit a science museum
  45. Visit an art museum
  46. Take a tour of your local fire station {Bonus points if you bring the cookies you baked to the fire station to thank them}
  47. Take a road trip
  48. Make summer journals {I love these Draw and Write journals}
  49. Go fishing
  50. Go on a bike ride
  51. Train for a family fun run
  52. Ride a ferris wheel
  53. Jump in a bouncy house
  54. Roast hot dogs over a fire
  55. Host a potluck at your house
  56. Play at a playground
  57. Volunteer as a family
  58. Have a garage sale
  59. Create vision boards {If you do these yearly, it’s fun to see how what your kids love changes from year to year}
  60. Spend an afternoon coloring
  61. Go on a boat ride
  62. Go ice skating {Most ice rinks aren’t as busy in the summer so you can skate without it being too crowded}
  63. Take a cooking class as a family
  64. Learn the states and their capitals
  65. Learn the Presidents
  66. Visit a farmer’s market
  67. Have a luau in your backyard
  68. Make homemade pizza
  69. Go to an amusement park
  70. Go ziplining
  71. Go to the batting cages
  72. Play miniature golf
  73. Make popsicles
  74. Go to an outdoor concert
  75. Visit a local farm
  76. Go to the zoo
  77. Go roller skating
  78. Visit a national park
  79. Have a fancy tea party
  80. Go to a baseball game
  81. Visit the state fair or a local county fair
  82. Feed the ducks at a local pond {Make sure this is allowed}
  83. Take an international food tour {Try foods from around the world.  You can make them at home or visit a variety of ethnic restaurants.  If you’d like to make this more interesting, you can create passports that you stamp each time you eat food from a different country.}
  84. Make paper bag puppets
  85. Make homemade playdoh
  86. Make your own bugspray {recipe coming soon}
  87. Pick up trash at a local park
  88. Make your own beaded jewelry
  89. Make a bird feeder
  90. Make a printable paper chain reading log
  91. Paint your own canvas sneakers
  92. Make your own popsicles
  93. Make S’mores Pops
  94. Make Fireworks Pretzels
  95. Make clothespin magnets
  96. Create with duct tape
  97. Make an American Flag Fruit Pizza
  98. Visit a nature preserve
  99. Go to an indoor waterpark
  100. Take family pictures
  101. Put together a family photo album

There are so many other fun things you can do this summer, but I wanted to give you some ideas so you can create your Family Summer Bucket List!  Be sure to follow me on Instagram as I will be documenting many of the items we’re checking off our summer bucket list!

Download a FREE Summer Bucket List Printable

If you think of other fun activities I’ve missed, please leave a comment!

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Summer Movie Programs: Free & Frugal Family Fun


Summer Movie Programs | Free and Frugal Family Movies from SimplifiedSaving.com

I’m so excited that so many theaters are bringing back their Summer Movie Programs!  This is a great way to take your family to the movies without breaking the bank!  Most of these movies are family friendly, but you’ll want to use discretion on what is appropriate for your family and your kids.

CineMark Century Theaters: There are 2 different money saving movie programs at CineMark. Pay $5 per person for 10 shows when you buy them in advanced. Or if you buy your tickets at the show they are $1 each. See participating CineMark locations (note: some Rave Theaters are now owned by CineMark. Call your location for participation)

Cineplex (Canada): Attend Saturday mornings at 11 am for Cineplex Family Favourites. Watch a family fave film each week for only $2.99 at participating locations. See movie list here.

Classic Cinemas: Beginning June 1oth, Wednesday Morning Movie Series. Each Wednesday morning at 10 am ticket prices are just $1, all movies are rated PG, see full list here.

Harkins Theater: There are 2 options, you can buy the season pass and it is less then $1 per movie and there are 10 movies in the season. Or buy tickets the day of the movie for $2 per ticket. Showtimes are at 9:45 am.

Marcus Theaters: June 14th – August 21st, 2015 on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday mornings at 10am to view your favorite family flicks for just $2! And score 2 FREE tickets by visiting a participating American Family Insurance agent. See more details and the movie line up here.

NCG Cinemas – NCG will be kicking off their FREE Family Film Festival on July 31st.  Movies will play Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 10am. Doors open at 9:30 and seats are first come, first serve.  These movies are also sensory friendly! See the list of movies here.

Regal Cinemas $1 Movies – All summer long long you can see movies for just $1 a ticket for select PG movies! Show times are at 10am and a portion of proceeds goes to Will Rogers Institute. See locations and films.

Studio Movie Grill: Summer Children’s Series is every weekday at 11 am. See great family friendly films for $3 a ticket. See summer line up of movies here.

Showcase Cinemas Bookworm Wednesdays (select locations): Each Wednesday, kids can bring in a book report (unless you are six and under and then admission will be free) – which will be cost of admission! Program runs every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. See list of shows here.

Not Yet Confirmed for 2015

AMC Theaters: Summer Nights program (adults). 8 select blockbuster hits back for a limited time. Show times are Mon-Wed at 10 pm. Tickets are just $3 and benefit charity. See list of movies here.

Heart to Home Women’s Conference with the Ladies of Duck Dynasty February 6-7 #H2hconf15

Disclosure: I am blessed to be a Family Christian Blogger and as such, I have the opportunity to share cool things with you! In exchange for this post (which I would have written without compensation because I’m really excited about it), I received the opportunity to watch the webcast of this conference. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Robertson Women Speaking at Heart to Home Conference

As a busy wife and mom, one of the ways I am most refreshed is by gathering with other Christian women who share my heart.  I absolutely love to encourage other women and I love to be encouraged by other women.  Whether I’m speaking at an event or just attending an event, I leave refreshed and empowered to do what God has called me to do and to not grow weary in this.  If you’re a mom, you know exactly how sweet it is when another mom speaks truth to you and encourages you that you’re making a difference and you’re impacting your family for eternity!

If all this sounds amazing, you’ll want to join the women from all over the country who are heading to Monroe, LA for a conference that will do all of these things…encourage, refresh, and speak truth.  The conference I’m referring to is the Heart to Home Women’s Conference led by the Women of Duck Commander and author Dr. Joneal Kirby.  Not only will you hear from these fabulous women, but you’ll also be blessed to hear from guest speakers like Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Steven Curtis Chapman and Mia Robertson, daughter of Jase and Missy Robertson.  There’s even going to be a special appearance by Jace Robertson.


This is one conference I would absolutely LOVE to be a part of.  I actually went online and checked out airfare costs, but unfortunately, it’s not in the budget and is more than I have saved up of blow money!  For those of you who, like me, are disappointed that they won’t be able to attend, I have good news.  They are also offering a chance for you to watch the Heart to Home Conference via simulcast for only $59 for an individual.  Your church can even host a simulcast event!  How cool is that?

I’m sad I won’t be attending as the relationships that are formed at these conferences are often lifechanging, but I’m glad I’ll be watching via simulcast.

If you’d like more information or if you’d like to register, please visit the Heart to Home Conference website.

For more info and encouragement, be sure to follow the Heart to Home Conference on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook,  and Pinterest.


Holiday Traditions with Hickory Farms

Holiday Traditions

I love Christmas…actually I love the whole holiday season!  I start getting excited about Christmas in mid-October and the excitement continues til well after the New Year has begun.  I think that much of my love for the holidays stems from the memories I have of the holidays while growing up!  Holidays have always been a big deal in our family!  Just look at us all decked out in our Christmas finery for the picture above!  We’re seriously cool!!!

My dad is the youngest of 6 and we grew up within driving distance of his family.  Our holiday get togethers were always exciting and fill with lots of laughter and fun.  When I was in 7th grade, we moved away from our big, fun crazy family.   While the holidays looked a little different after that, we began some fun family traditions that were unique to our immediate family.  Every Thanksgiving celebration included a movie at the theater.  Christmas eve was for eating Christmas cookies and playing card games with our family and grandparents.  And somewhere along the way, we started opening our gifts on Christmas Eve.  Some years we didn’t even wrap them!  Regardless of where we were and whether we were traveling or staying home, our holidays were centered around family, faith, food and fun!

And those fun and crazy moments and traditions are some of my most treasured memories.  Now that I have my own family, I’m trying to create traditions and memories that they’ll carry with them and into their own families…just like I’ve carried some of these traditions to my family.  I’m trying to create the same legacy of family, faith, food, and fun that my parents passed on to me.

My family is not the only family who loves their holiday traditions.  For more than 60 years Hickory Farms gifts have been a classic holiday tradition that brings family and friends together.   I remember the excitement in our family when my dad would get a gift basket from a client and bring it home to share with us.  All those yummy meats and cheeses as well as the crackers, spreads, and chocolates! :)  I know I’m not the only one who remembers Hickory Farms being a part of their holiday gatherings.  Many Americans have a distinct memory of Hickory Farms at their holiday gatherings.  Hickory Farms is very proud to be a part of those nostalgic moments and continues to focus on and celebrate its long heritage of tradition and authentic holiday memories.  Hickory Farms not only embraces passing down traditions through generations of families, but also creating new traditions and sharing them with loved ones.  Hickory Farms sent me a Beef and Turkey Hickory Sampler Gift Box and my family devoured it!  It was delicious!

win a hickory farms gift box

If you’d like to have Hickory Farms be a part of your gatherings, head on over to HickoryFarms.com or visit one of their 600 Holiday Stores, markets and kiosks across the US.  You can also purchase Hickory Farms from select retailers.

One lucky reader is going to win a Hickory Farms Beef and Turkey Hickory Sampler Gift Box like the one I received!

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Compensation and products for review were provided by Hickory Farms via MomTrends. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review and to facilitate a giveaway.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hickory Farms.

Finding Calm in the Chaos

The past 6 weeks have been completely chaotic.  We enrolled our kids in 3 different schools, decided to move, put an offer on a house, moved into new house, put our house on the market, received an offer on our house that required us to do some repairs (our house is over 100 years old), and started our kids in 3 different schools.  I also was out of town for a week during that time. On top of that, I fell in love with an anti-aging product and decided to start selling it. And the list goes on and on. Just writing about it makes me feel tired! :)

As a busy mom, I know that there are times when life feels completely overwhelming…and sometimes it’s so chaotic that you feel stress paralyzed. {I watched Mom’s Night Out again last night (I saw it twice in the theater and if you’re a mom, you need to watch it!) so I know that stress paralyzed is a thing.  If you didn’t watch Mom’s Night Out, you need to watch it.  It’s totally worth buying and watching again and again.  Or consider inviting your mom friends over for a mom’s night out! }

I digress…

I know that you can’t always control the circumstances you find yourself in, but I have some suggestions for finding calm in the chaos.

1.  Create a plan or a schedule.

Everyone functions better with a routine.  I created morning and evening routines for the twins and a daily docket for myself.  I laminated all of these so we can use them day after day.  Everyone has their own clipboard and laminated list on it.  Even the twins know exactly what is expected of them and that leads to smoother mornings and evenings!  Make sure you include chores on these lists so that you’re not trying to handle everything on your own.

2.  Create a meal plan.

When our life gets chaotic, I tend to grab fast food or go for something in a box or a can.  None of these things are good for myself or my family.  This week, I took 2 hours and made 20 freezable crockpot meals.  It makes life easy when you can pull a bag out of the freezer at night and pop it in the fridge.  In the morning, I just dump the ingredients into my crockpot, set it, and I’m good to go.  If you want to make crockpot clean up a breeze, these Slow Cooker Liners are AWESOME!  Also, if you’re looking for a great crockpot, this is the one that I have and I love it.  Although I’m thinking about asking for this Smart Crockpot  for Christmas.

If you need help with menu plans, here are a few that I can vouch for.

20 Slow Cooker Freezer Packs from Costco for $150

Aldi $150 Crockpot Meal Plan

Aldi $150 Meal Plan

Aldi Gluten Free Meal Plan

3. Get moving!

When things are chaotic, the last thing you may feel like doing is carving out extra time in your day to exercise, but you need to do this.  Take 15 minutes to go for a walk outside.  Better yet, get a friend to join you.

Looking for something you can do in the privacy of your own home? Here are a few videos that are under 30 minutes that will still give you a good workout.

T-Tapp Basic Workout Plus (18 minutes)

Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (20 minutes)

P90X3 (30 minutes)

If you don’t have 15-30 consecutive minutes that’s ok.  Take 2-3 minutes every hour to do jumping jacks, pushups, knee lifts, squats, and lunges.

4.  Take time to recharge and refresh.

Spend time recharging your batteries.  Take time to read  the Bible, pray, read an encouraging book and/or journal. You may need to get up 15 minutes before the kids get up or stay up 15 minutes after they go to bed.  If you need a few books to add to your list, here are a few to check out.

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Restless: Because You Were Made for More

Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence

One Thousand Gifts

5. Get Some Sleep!

The difference between hope and despair is often a good night’s sleep.  When life is crazy and busy, your body needs more sleep than it usually does.  Make it a priority to get sleep!

While these tips aren’t going to make your life peaceful overnight, they will certainly help!  If you find yourself in a chaotic season of life, please comment or send me an email.  I’d be honored to pray for you!

What are your tips for finding calm in the chaos?





Let’s Talk Money and Marriage

Did you know that one of the biggest tensions in marriage can be money?  It’s true!  Today I’m talking about marriages and money over on Mint.com!

Come join the conversation!



Experience How to Train Your Dragon 2 in IMAX

This information was provided by IMAX.

Looking for an action-packed weekend of fun for the whole family? Head to your local IMAX® Theater for the premiere of How to Train Your Dragon 2!




Starting this Friday, June 13th, the second chapter of DreamWorks Animation’s belovedHow to Train Your Dragon franchise is soaring to all IMAX theatres domestically in select engagements. The IMAX 3D release will be digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of The IMAX Experience®, creating a unique environment that will make audiences feel as though they are flying alongside heroic Viking Hiccup and his faithful dragon, Toothless.


Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, T.J. Miller, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Kristen Wiig reprise their respective voice roles, joined this time by Academy Award® winner Cate Blanchett, Djimon Honsou and Kit Harington.



For more information about How to Train Your Dragon 2, please visit DreamWorks Animation’s official website.


For IMAX Theater locations and local showtimes click here!

KinderBach Piano Lessons Review

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest feedback. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and those of my family and are honest. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

I love music and it has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up playing the piano and singing. I studied vocal performance in college. I taught piano lessons for a few years.  I even used part of my wedding budget to buy a baby grand piano.  And so I was thrilled when my son James told me he wanted to learn how to play the piano.  The only problem was, I didn’t want to be the one to teach him.  I enjoy teaching piano and I am willing to teach other people’s kids, but I think there are certain things that are better when not taught by your mom.  Piano lessons is one of those things!  When I heard about KinderBach and the chance to review The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, I was ecstatic.


I expected to like the program, but it’s even better than I anticipated because it breaks the learning down into really small chunks.  My son has a very short attention span.  The KinderBach videos are short, entertaining, and easy to follow.

My original intention with KinderBach was to watch a video and do the required activity on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week.  Unfortunately, the past 5 weeks have been chaotic around here as my father-in-law was very very sick and then he passed away. While we didn’t stick to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule I had originally planned, we still were able to get in at least 3 lessons a week because the lessons are short and easy to sneak in.

When you purchase The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner, you’ll get access to all the lessons and you can watch them on your computer,  iPad, Kindle Fire, Android Tablet or Nook.  We used the iPad for watching the videos because in our house, everything is considered more exciting when watched on the iPad.  You’ll also get access to pdfs that go along with each lesson.  I printed off lessons one week at a time.  There were times when my son enjoyed lessons so much that we did multiple lessons in one day.  The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner is geared for kids ages 3-7, however, if your kids are on the older side of that spectrum, you can probably fly through the first few weeks of lessons or you may want to do multiple days of lessons at a time like we did.  I wanted to make sure that music continues to be viewed as a treat and something fun, so I let James decide how many lessons we did at a time.  He almost always wanted to do at least 2 or 3.  He loves doing the activities, but he is happiest when he gets to sit at the keyboard.

The price for The KinderBach Online Piano Lesson Membership with Teacher Corner is only $95.88 per year which is WAY less than you’d pay for private piano lessons. It’s definitely worth it if you have young children who want beginner piano lessons. It’s fun for kids and it’s fun for parents to watch them blossom into a little musician.

This gets my whole-hearted approval.  It’s easy to use, fun for kids, and totally worth the price!

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Home Run Inn Pizza: A Real Home Run for Our Family

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Home Run Inn pizza.

Over the past year, our family has made huge changes to our diet.  While we had been making some gradual changes here and there, it wasn’t until we took custody of the twins that things really started to change.  The twins have MAJOR food sensitivities that wreaked havoc on their digestive systems and resulted in atrocious behavior.  As we eliminated than re-added foods to their diets (and consequently ours as well), we found that artificial dyes were disastrous for them.  We also found that processed foods and things with nitrates/nitrites also didn’t work well for them.  While we’ve all been thrilled at the changes in health and behavior, I’d be lying if I said no one was missing favorite foods.  Gone are the days of blue box mac and cheese and hot dogs.  Starburst, Skittles, and M&Ms are no longer a treasured treat.  And if all that wasn’t bad enough, frozen pizza, my go-to quick and easy meal after a long day of work or a long evening of basketball games was no longer an option.  Frozen pizza was a special treat for everyone.  My husband loves it, my teenage daughters love it and the twins love it.  And most of all, I love frozen pizza because let’s face it…there are some days when the time and energy to make a homecooked meal have escaped me by the time it’s dinnertime.

Over the last few months, we’ve been able to find substitutes for almost all of our favorite foods.  I discovered that I can make a pretty mean homemade mac and cheese (and I also discovered an organic brand that my kids like).  I’ve ordered organic suckers and gummy bears that don’t contain preservatives or artificial dyes from Amazon. Unfortunately, since I don’t live near a natural foods store, my search for frozen pizza has seemed elusive up to this point.

A few weeks ago, I heard about an all natural frozen pizza that is available at Kroger, Meijer and Marsh.  I was thrilled to find them at my small town Kroger and my kids were elated to see me walk in the door with boxes of frozen pizza.  It’s been a long time since we’ve had it at our house.

Home Run Inn Pizza is an all natural frozen pizza that is made with real cheese and with no preservatives.  The Meat Lovers pizza is made with nitrite/nitrate free bacon and pepperoni.

Home Run Inn Pizza is consistently number one according to Consumer Reports.  And my family wholeheartedly agrees!

Shayna ate 4 piece of cheese pizza!

James opted for Meat Lovers and must have said “This is the best pizza ever!” at least 10 times during dinner!

Even my fussy hubby gave it a thumbs up {although he wasn’t thrilled with having his picture taken}.

I’m a huge fan of Home Run Inn Pizza and will definitely be purchasing more to keep in our freezer for a quick, easy meal!

I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have a quick and easy go-to meal?  Have you ever tried Home Run Inn pizza and if so, what’s your favorite flavor?  Leave me a comment! :)

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Home Run Inn pizza.

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Snow Inspired Projects for Kids {Snow Day Ideas}

We had a crazy snow storm this week!  Between two feet of snow and subzero temperatures, my kids have been out of school all week!   Depending on where you live, there’s a good chance that you’re experiencing the same kind of crazy weather.  If you’re a feeling a little stir crazy and your kids are bored, here are some snow inspired projects to do with your kids!

Snow Viewing

When it’s snowing, take your kids outside with a sheet of black paper and a magnifying glass. As the flakes land on the black paper, the kids can look closely at them and examine them under the magnifying glass.  It’s amazing how unique each snowflake is.  Remind your children that each snowflake is unique just like each of them are different and unique!  You may want to have the kid take pictures of their favorite magnified snowflakes as inspiration for future snowy art projects!

Salty Snow

Epsom salt looks glittery and snowy on all sorts of objects. If you have little kids, try this fun craft. You can use epsom salt covered styrofoam balls as Christmas tree ornaments, in bowls, or piled up on windowsills or in bay windows. You’ll need:

* Styrofoam balls, any size you like or a variety of sizes (you can also use inexpensive bulk Christmas tree balls)
* Epsom salts
* Decoupage medium or white glue slightly thinned with water
* Paintbrush (for the glue)

Place a good amount of Epsom salts on a plate. Using the paintbrush, coat balls one at a time with decoupage medium and roll them in Epsom salts. Once dry, repeat the process and you’ll have some very snowy looking balls! If you use varying sizes, you can then make snowmen.

If you have older kids, have them decorate candles, votive holders, and anything else that you think would look beautiful “snow covered”.

Glue Snowflakes

Make snowflakes for your windows with this craft. You’ll need:

* White glue
* Wax paper
* Salt or glitter (optional)
* Snowflake design for inspiration

Lay the sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet or other hard surface that you can leave undisturbed for a few hours. Help your preschooler make snowflake shapes out of glue – squeeze the glue directly onto the wax paper. While the glue is wet, sprinkle on salt or glitter if you like. When the snowflakes dry, peel them off and hang them up in windows or on the tree. Use a little soft wax (such as beeswax) to stick them to windows.

Ice and Salt Sculptures

You’ll need to start this project the night before by making ice blocks.  Simply fill 1 quart yogurt tubs, whipped topping tubs, or other similar plastic or cardboard containers (milk cartons work great for this) with water and freeze.

* 1-quart plastic yogurt tub, whipped topping tub, or similar plastic or cardboard container (milk cartons work, too)
* Liquid food coloring
* Rock salt, such as driveway salt
* Plastic gloves or small scoop (to keep salt off hands)
* Camera (this craft melts!)

In the morning or whenever you’re ready to do the craft, run hot water over the container and slip the ice block out. Place the ice in a pan or tub, large side up (if there is a larger side).

Let your preschooler sprinkle rock salt on the top of the ice block using gloves or a scoop. Then drop liquid food coloring on top where the salt chunks are. Vary the colors. As the salt melts the ice, it will create color streaks through the ice block, as well as create interesting shapes. You’ll be amazed at how cool these turn out as will your kids.  Make sure to take lots of pictures of the process and the finished product!

If you’d like some fun treats for your snow day, consider making this yummy Peppermint Hot Chocolate, this fun Reindeer Hot Chocolate (perfect to make before going outside and perfect to drink when you get back inside) or these Oreo Truffle Snowman Pops with your kiddos!

Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge

Last month, I mentioned our family plans to head to the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge.  We finally got our big chance this past weekend.  While I had hoped to have all of our kids go, I knew that with basketball and work, it may not be a possibility.  Unfortunately, our schedules didn’t all align, so only the hubs and the twins came along.

I have to be honest, when the older girls realized they wouldn’t be able to go along, I wondered if the twins would have a good time. When I planned this trip, I was hoping for family fun that would appeal to the whole family, but I thought it would be the most fun for the older girls.  I knew that a whole bunch of wax celebrities and photo opps would be right up their alley!  I wasn’t sure if the twins would recognize any of the celebrities (after all, they’re only 7 and they didn’t get out much before they moved in with us).  Fortunately, my fears were unfounded!  The twins eyes lit up the minute they saw the outside of the Hollywood Wax Museum.  I mean, how could you not fall in love with the Great Ape of Pigeon Forge?

Once we got inside, the delight began in earnest.  I loved watching the kids eyes light up as they saw all the different wax figures.  The first person we came across was Antonio Banderas as Zorro.  My husband immediately got down on his knees and pleaded for his life.

The twins were happy to see Johnny Depp and the Pirates of the Caribbean, but were even more thrilled to  play with treasure.

Shayna thoroughly enjoyed spooning her way to better health while on the set of I Love Lucy!

 I’m pretty sure Shayna is going to be an actress.  I have a picture of her posing with almost every single figure in the wax museum.  If they were dancing, she was dancing.  If they were serious, she was serious!  I ended up with over 80 pictures of Shayna posing. She told me that she needed to be a zombie for this picture.

James wasn’t quite as into posing, however , he was excited to join Paul Blart as a mall cop.  He has his sights set on being either a police man or a garbage man, but after seeing Mall Cop, he wondered if maybe he wanted to be that kind of policeman.  After all, who wouldn’t want to ride around on a segway?

 The twins had the opportunity to wait at the bus stop with Forrest Gump.

And Fred was pretty excited that he was able to block one of Michael Jordan’s shots.

Our family thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the Hollywood Wax Museum.  If you’re heading to Piegeon Forge, this is one of the tourist attractions you don’t want to miss.  Not only did we enjoy our trip thoroughly, but we’ve looked at the pictures over and over again since we got home.

For more fun pictures, make sure to check out the Hollywood Wax Museum Facebook Page.

Family Friendly Advice:  If you’re taking small children, you may want to avoid the side room upstairs.  It has figures from various scary movies.  Hollywood Wax Museum did a great job of keeping that room separate so that not everyone had to walk by.  My other family friendly advice is to be aware that there is a Hugh Hefner figure on a red silky bed.  My daughter was completely enamored with the shiny red bed and insisted that she “pose with the old man”.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

We’re Going to Hollywood Baby {OK…We’re Going to the Hollywood Wax Museum}

I am a huge fan of family vacations!  And we take as many of them as we possibly can.  In the 10 months that we’ve had the twins, we’ve been to New Hampshire twice, Philadelphia, Florida, Jamaica, and we’ve made lots of trips to Tennessee.  My daughter Shayna regularly asks if we’ll be staying in a hotel or flying on an airplane because “those are my 2 favorite things.” {She’s definitely a girl after my own heart}

Tennessee is one of our favorite destinations because it gives the kids a chance to see their grandparents and almost all of their cousins in one trip.  My sister and her husband along with their 4 kids live in Knoxville, my husband’s sister Tara and her husband and their 4 kids also live in Knoxville and my mother-in-law and father-in-law live there as well!  It’s the perfect blend of food (my mother-in-law is an AMAZING cook), family, farm (my sis-in-law has 2 miniature horses, some goats, chickens, rabbits, ducks and a dog) and fun.  Our trips usually consist of cookouts, bike rides, taking care of the animals and other outdoor activities.

As the weather is starting to cool, I’ve been trying to think of some fun indoor activities we can take advantage of during our trips to Tennessee. I wanted something that both the twins and the older girls wound enjoy.  Since Knoxville is just a stones throw from Pigeon Forge, I’ve decided to take the family to the Hollywood Wax Museum on our next visit. The Hollywood Wax Museum was designed for interaction which means that we get to walk into the open sets to take pictures with our favorite celebrities instead of just walking by and looking at them.  All the kids in our family are photo loving goofballs and the opportunity to take pictures with a variety of their waxy celebrity friends in a variety of settings will be right up their alley! {To see the types of photos we hope to take, visit the Hollywood Wax Museum Facebook Page}

If we can have this much fun during first day of school pictures, just imagine the fun we’ll have at the Hollywood Wax Musuem.

We’ll be headed in that direction next month so stay tuned for pictures and my thoughts on our day of family fun!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Bible Studies for Kids eBook Bundle: 5 Books for $7.40

Bundle #41: Bible Studies for Kids

As a mom, I consider teaching my kids about Jesus to be one of my most important jobs.  I want my kids to discover the importance of reading God’s word and hiding it in their hearts.  If you feel the same way that I do, you’ll definitely want to check out this awesome Bible Studies for Kids eBook Bundle.

This week’s bundle includes a ton of Bible study resources for kids! Discover resources for Scripture memorization, Bible study and character development, as well as handwriting practice, letter recognition and more, at more than 80% off.

This week only, get all five of these ebooks for more than 80% off:

God’s Word in My Heart by Jennifer Thorson
Help your children hide God’s Word in their young hearts and learn Scripture alongside them with Jennifer’s God’s Word in My Heart: A Scripture Learning Guide with Memory Verses! This program includes ideas for helping even the littlest of your children memorize Scripture, lists of songs to help with specific verses, printable Scripture memory verses and more. This set includes all 4 versions: ESV, KJV, NASB and variety (ESV, NIV 1984, NASB, NKJV).

Write Through the Bible: Exodus 20:1-21 by Luke and Trisha Gilkerson
Exodus 20 includes the Ten Commandments, which stand at the center of the Law of Moses and offer a foundational understanding of morality and the character of God. Luke & Trisha’s Write Through the Bible program provides 131 days of handwriting, copywork and dictation practice along with Scripture memorization, and this set includes both the cursive and manuscript versions of the workbook.

The ABCs for Godly Children by Lindsey Stomberg
The ABCs for Godly Children is a comprehensive, Bible curriculum centered around teaching children ages 4-10 about the God they serve and how to have a heart like His. Using each letter of the alphabet, a Bible lesson is presented in an understandable and interactive format to teach core truths concerning the Gospel, godly character, and biblical manhood and womanhood through Scripture memorization, detailed lessons, simple crafts, and interactive song.

The Dig: Luke (Volume 1) by Patrick Schwenk
The Dig for Kids: Luke (Volume 1) is a simple and easy way for parents to study the Book of Luke with their children. The Dig takes the guesswork out of teaching with one-page lessons that consist of: The Map, an overview of each lesson; The Dig, the main passage of the Bible you will be reading and three or four questions that will help with discussion and review; The Treasure, the big idea of the passage being studied; and The Display, to help your child live out what he or she has just learned.

Princess Training Plus Armor of God by Richele McFarlin
Princess Training: For the King’s Glory is a unit study designed to encourage young girls {7-13} to glorify God through their lives and understand their role as a daughter of the King. This study can be modified for younger or older girls and works great for a group study, and each lesson contains a short devotional, discussion, and activity. In addition, the Armor of God mini unit study includes copywork, Scripture study, discussion questions,vocabulary, and activities to help children {5-9} study the armor of God.

The Bible Studies for Kids bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 10/14. 

Kids in the Kitchen Ebook Bundle: 5 Books for $7.40

Bundle #40: Kids in the Kitchen

One of my goals this year is to teach all of my kids to cook.  If you’d like to do the same, you’ll want to snag this great collection of cookbooks for kids. With easy-to-follow recipes, guidelines and schedules for teaching kitchen skills, and encouragement that your investment will pay off, this bundle will help you discover the fun of cooking with kids while teaching them important skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

This week only, get all five of these ebooks for more than 85% off:

Cooking 101 for Kids by Lynn at Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures
Teaching your kids to cook will help them save money as adults and provide a foundation of healthy eating habits. In Cooking 101 for Kids, Lynn covers the basics of measurements, tools, common ingredients, and how to follow a recipe before delving into recipes for breakfast, snacks, appetizers, side dishes, desserts and treats. With practical tips and insight into the “why” of it all, this ebook will help you teach your children to be confident and capable in the kitchen.

Real Food Kids: In the Kitchen from GNOWFGLINS
Discover the philosophy that “everyone eats, everyone cooks” so you can teach joyful, willing, and good workers in the kitchen — for today and the future. GNOWFGLINS’ Real Food Kids: In the Kitchen offers fun and simple lessons and helpful, you-can-start-implementing-today strategies. Kitchen time is easy, fun, and rewarding when everyone pitches in, and this content-packed ebook includes all 19 lessons from the Real Food Kids ecourse, printable worksheets, schedules for teaching various skills, ideas for involving even the youngest children and tons of nutritious recipes!

Cupcakes! 12 Months of Happiness by Liz Latham
Cupcakes! 12 Months of Happiness offers 12 cupcake ideas, one for each month of the year. These are perfect for sharing with friends and family, a great way to spend an afternoon with your kids, and a fun and festive way to celebrate the special days throughout the year. Each one is sure to be enjoyed by kids and adults alike!

Adventures with Kids! In the Kitchen by Charra Shopp
In Adventures with Kids! In the Kitchen, Chara encourages and teaches you when, how and why to bring your kids into the kitchen. You’ll learn the benefits of having your kids in the kitchen, real food kitchen skills such as soaking, sprouting, culturing and more, and the step-by-step process for teaching these skills. Whether you are a gourmet cook or just learning yourself, you’ll find practical ideas and suggestions for how to get your kids cooking, culturing, cleaning and celebrating their time in the kitchen!

Teaching Your Kids to Cook by Laura Coppinger
Teaching Your Kids to Cook is written for parents who want to help their children learn their way around the kitchen. Filled with instructions, tips, activities, printables and over 45 simple, kid friendly recipes, this ebook offers many opportunities to make messes together and get chocolate in your hair. All of the recipes Laura’s included are made from wholesome, easy-to-attain ingredients, making this the perfect introduction to cooking for families with young children.

The Blogging bundle is only available through 8am EST on Monday, 10/7.

Dining Out with Kids {And a Giveaway}

Disclosure: The posts is a sponsored post.  Restaurant.com (through Mom Spark Media) provided me with gift cards in order to share this info with you and facilitate this giveaway. As always, I only share info that I think is helpful to you and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Now that school is underway and our schedule is busier than ever, it’s hard to always coordinate family dinners at home.  Thankfully, Restaurant.com has me covered.

Restaurant.com offers great deals on restaurant gift certificates which means I can eat out with my family without totally throwing off my budget.

Restaurant.com recently conducted a survey about eating out with kids and this is what they found:

I love eating out with my family as it often gives them a chance to try foods that they wouldn’t get to try at home. It also gives them a chance to work on their table manners.

Restaurant.com recently put together a list of the 25 most kid friendly restaurants. If you have one of these in your neck of the woods, you ought to take your family and go check it out.

TGI Friday’s- Greenville, SC
Carrie Cerino’s Ristorante & Party Center- North Royalton, OH
BB King’s Restaurant & Blues Club- Orlando, FL
Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue- Elk Grove Village, IL
Vazzy’s Cucina- Shelton, CT
Yogurtini- Overland Park, KS
Harvest Grill- Coon Rapids, MN
Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt- Rock Hill, SC
Estela’s Mexican Restaurant- New Port Richey, FL
Wolfgang Puck Bistro at Macy’s South Coast Plaza- Costa Mesa, CA
Lakeshore Grill at Macy’s Southdale- Edina, MN
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant at Chandler Mall- Chandler, AZ
Thirsty Marlin Largo Grill and Bar- Largo, FL
Greenbrier Restaurant- Gatlinburg, TN
Anna’s Pizzeria- Apex, NC
Pittsburgh Steak Co.- Pittsburg, PA
Ground Round Grill & Bar- Bangor, ME
Horton’s Seafood- East Providence, RI
Shula’s America’s Steak House- Center Valley, PA
Barn and Company- Chicago, IL
Harmon Brewery and Eatery- Tacoma, WA
Seaside Grill- Pompano Beach, FL
La Parrilla Suiza- Mesa, AZ
Magic Time Machine- Dallas, TX

Restaurant.com is offering a $25 gift certificate to one lucky Simplified Saving reader.  Enter on the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A-MAZE-ing Savings on Fall Fun

Last year I went to my very first Corn Maze (I’m not sure how I missed out on these the first 30+ years of my life) and I had a blast.  This year I plan on taking the kids and enjoying the corn maze, the hay ride and the pumpkin patch.

Now that fall is here and Corn Maze time is back, I thought I’d share a great list of Corn Maze Coupons and Fall Festival savings nationwide. You’ll be able to download valuable coupons for Corn Mazes, Pumpkin Patches and other fall family activities when you click on the name of the corn maze or pumpkin patch.

Schnepf Farms – Queen City
Tolmachoff Farms– Glendale, AZ

Forneris Farms – Mission Hills

Anderson Farms – Erie
Flat Acres Farm – Parker
Fritzler Maze – La Salle
Sunflower Farm – Longmont
Mile High Farms – Bennett
Wishing Star Farm – Calhan
Harvest Farm – Wellington

Lane Southern Orchards – Fort Valley
Poppell Farms – Odum

All Seasons Orchard – Woodstock
Kuipers Family Farm – Maple Park
Odyssey Fun Farm – Tinley Park
Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm – Lockport

Amazing Fall Fun – Waterloo
Harvest Tyme Pumpkin Patch – Lowell
Hobson’s Fun Farm – Rockville
Guffey Acres– Kokomo

CM Farms – Dry Creek

Summers Farm – Fredrick County

Sauchuk Farm – Plympton

Farmer Charley’s Corn Maze Adventure – Monroe

Afton Apple Orchard – Hastings

Seward Farms Maze – Lucedale

KC Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze – Gardner
Shuck’s Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch – Pleasant Hill

The Maize at Grandpa’s Farm – Billings

Camp Fontanelle – Nickerson

VonThun Farms – Monmouth Junction
Sahl’s Father Son Farm – Egg Harbor City

New York
Wright Family Farm – Warwick
Harbes Family Farm – Mattituck

North Carolina
Patterson Farm Market and Tours – Mount Ulla

The Corn Maze at the Sharp Run Market – Millersburg
Meadow View Growers – New Carlisle

The Maize at The Pumpkin Patch– Portland


Hurricane Hill Farm – Coatsville
Triple B Farms – Pittsburgh
Reillys Summer Seat Farm
 – Pittsburgh

Rhode Island
Confreda Greenhouses & Farms – Hope (Western Cranston)

Devine Acres Farm – Devine
Fiesta Farm – San Antonio
Yesterland Farm – Canton
South Texas Maize – Hondo
Dewberry Farm – Brookshire
Brazos Valley Maize– Brenham

Cornbelly’s Corn Maze & Pumpkin Fest – Spanish Fork

Cows-N-Corn – Midland
Wayside Farm Fun – Berryville
Belvedere Plantation – Fredericksburg

Click here for updated coupons and more family fun!


FREE Online Chore Chart that Teaches Kids About Money

Two years ago, I shared about MyJobChart.com, an awesome way to teach your kids about money.  I loved almost everything the site and it worked great for us for a while, but eventually the kids got annoyed with having to wait to get on the computer to track their progress.  I asked MyJobChart if they’d ever thought about developing an app and they said that one was already in the works!

I’m thrilled to tell you that the app is here, it’s FREE, and it makes MyJobChart even better than before!

If you’re looking for a way to teach your kids about handling money, about the correlation between work and pay, and to instill in them a heart for giving, I can’t say enough great things about MyJobChart.com. And best of all…it’s FREE!

Click here to get signed up!


Free Month of Lego Fun with Pleygo

Disclosure: As a US Family Guide Blogger, I received a 3 month Pleygo subscription in exchange for sharing this awesome offer with you! Talk about a win-win! I get to share something cool with you and we both get something FREE!

Pleygo is Netflix for Legos | Lego Subscription Service

We LOVE Legos at our house.  Our twins could spend hours doing “hard work” as they would say building intricate creations.  Even our 15 year old spends hours creating with legos whenever we visit my in-laws.  And while we love Legos, they can get expensive…especially when your kids want each and every cool LEGO set that comes along.  I’m so thrilled to share a cool new company with you that will change the way our family plays with Legos!

Pleygo is a Net-Flix like service for Legos!  Subscribe, rent, play, and exchange sets of LEGOs unlimited times per month.  Shipping is always free both ways and sets are sanitized when returned.  We offer a convenient, quick, and inexpensive solution that relieves clutter and saves space at home while saving money.  Co-Founded by influential parenting blogger and creator of A-List mom Elina Furman, Plegyo is the perfect way to supply your child with endless developmental tools and allow for that much needed quiet time at home!

Three levels of subscription starting at just $15 allow you to find the plan that best suits you.  They offer credit towards your account for sets and mixed bricks that you donate to us, and they provide the shipping label too!  Pleygo is a perfect gift for a family friend, loved one, or birthday party.  Purchase a gift subscription and send it with a special message from you! The best part is Pleygo is constantly expanding their inventory with more sets!

I’m thrilled to share a cool offer with you if you want to give it a try.  You can receive your First Month of Pleygo FREE  when you click here or go directly to www.Pleygo.com to register!

How to Get Gum Out of Hair…Without Losing Your Mind

This week has been one of those crazy weeks, so when I got the call from one of my older daughters that James had put gum in Shayna’s hair while they were swimming, I wasn’t surprised. It was par for the course in a week like this.  I told Khrystyna I’d be there in a few minutes and before I hung up she said, “Mom, it’s bad.  Just thought you should know.”

Now if you’ll indulge me for a minute, I want to flashback to a few months ago.  For the past year, I’ve been working hard to use less chemicals and other toxic products in our home.  I’d been hearing a lot about essential oils, so when I had the chance to go to a Young Living class, I jumped at the opportunity.  While there, my friend was telling me all the things she used lemon oil for and she mentioned that it takes gum out of hair easily.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I headed out with a bottle of Young Living Lemon Oil.  When I got there, this is what I found.

The gum was smashed into the hair on the very top of her head which meant that the oil had to work because cutting it out wasn’t an option.  After taking a picture of the gum in her hair (I’m a blogger, what did you expect?), I put a few drops of oil and rubbed it around.  I expected the process to take a long time and a lot of oil, but with just a few drops of Lemon Oil and about 30 seconds, I had the gum completely out of her hair.  There was no whining, no tugging, and no crying.  There were a few tiny little balls of gum that came right out once I used a comb on her hair. (I neglected to bring one when I ran out the door.)

If you’re looking for a safe and easy way to get gum out of hair, I highly recommend keeping a bottle of Young Living’s Lemon Essential Oil on hand.  It smells delicious and does an amazing job at getting gum out of hair!  If you’d like to know more about natural health through Young Living, fill out this short form.

Disclosure: I am a Young Living Distributor, however, I’m sharing this because it’s seriously awesome.  If you choose to purchase any oil through my link, I will make a commission off your purchase (thanks in advance). If you’d like to learn how you can make money from home with Young Living, click here.

This post is linked to Natural Living Monday.