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10 Aug 2011   ·   135
Money Saving Mom

Ask the Readers: Grab-N-Go Meal Ideas

Today’s question is from Lyss:

I’m in need of ideas for grab-n-go meals for my husband. He is a very busy man and rarely eats with us during the week. Leftovers and sandwiches aren’t cutting it, but I’m stumped for much else! He would eat frozen pizzas, burritos, etc., but I don’t like buying processed foods. Anyone have healthy, make-ahead, individual meal ideas or recipes? -Lyss

Do you have a question you’d like to ask Money Saving Mom® readers? Read the submission guidelines and submit it here.

10 Aug 2011   ·   12
Money Saving Mom

3 Encouraging Posts You Should Read

Here are three posts I read in the last day that I really enjoyed and wanted to pass along:

::How a Nagging Thought Left Me $15 Richer — “Just because it’s an amazing deal…doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for me.” Excellent words of advice from JessieLeigh.

::Turning Failure to Your Advantage — Michael Hyattshares five components for turning failure to your advantage. I loved his last paragraph: “…failure is inevitable if you are going to tackle significant goals. You have to learn to make it work for you. In doing so, you are planting the seeds of your eventual success.”

::There’s Beauty in Your Ugly Stroller — “Managing our money well to gift our family a debt-free life is a choice that has us frequently asking ‘How ugly is it?’. It’s a choice that encourages us to swallow our pride, look past the ugly, and see the beauty.”Amy’s post was spot-on.

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9 Aug 2011   ·   54
Money Saving Mom

Do-It-Yourself: Homemade Febreze

Fake-It Frugal shows you how to make your own Febreze.

Should I confess that I’ve never even used Febreze before? I just skip buying/using fabric softener*–and no one knows any differently (well, I guess that’s because they’ve never known any differently!)

*Update: Thanks to all your comments setting the record straight! I’m cracking up that I thought Febreze was fabric softener, not fabric refresher. Yes, apparently I know absolutely nothing about it! 🙂

9 Aug 2011   ·   5
Money Saving Mom

Office Depot: Back-to-School Deals for the week of August 7-13, 2011

Here’s the list of the best deals on school supplies this week at Office Depot. Remember that these deals may vary by region so check your local ad online before heading to your local store:

  • Scholastic school glue — $0.01 (Limit 5)
  • Sharpie fine-point permanent markers, 5-pack — $1 (Limit 3)
  • Office Depot staple remover — $0.50 (Limit 5)
  • Wilson Jones flexible poly binders — $0.50 (Limit 3)
  • Paper Mate Pink Pearl erasers, 3-pack — $0.50 (Limit 3)

Office Depot multipurpose paper ream — $6.49 (Limit 2)
Get $5.49 Visa gift card back via mail-in rebate
$1 after mail-in rebate

See all the deals at Office Depot this week.

9 Aug 2011   ·   2
Money Saving Mom

Office Max: Back-to-School Deals for the week of August 7-13, 2011

Here’s a list of some of the best Back-To-School Deals at Office Max this week. Remember that these deals may vary by region so check your local ad online before heading to your local store:

Office Max filler paper — $0.01 (Limit 3)

Paper Mate pens, 10 pack — $0.10 (Limit 3)

Office Max school glue and glue sticks combo pack  — $0.50 (Limit 3)

Paper Mate mechanical pencils, 10 pack — $0.75 (Limit 3)

Office Max composition books, 100 sheets — $0.50 each with in ad coupon (Limit 3)

Paper Mate white or black eraser multipack — $0.50 each with in ad coupon (Limit 3)

Sharpie liquid pen style highlighters, 5 pack — $1.00 each with in ad coupon (Limit 2)

9 Aug 2011   ·   17
Money Saving Mom

3 Posts on Blogging You Should Read

Here are three posts related to blogging that I’d encourage you to read:

::How Do You Not Get Discouraged By the Success of Others? — A fantastic post by my friend, Amy, from Whether you’re a blogger or not, you’ll be blessed and challenged by this post. I know that I was!

::140 Character Friendships — So true! {Okay, so this wasn’t really about blogging, but the sentiment could also be applied to blogging relationships, as well as Twitter relationships.}

::How to Make Money Blogging — Connie shares specific details on how she made $1,200 by blogging last month. If you’re considering earning money through blogging, you’ll find lots of helpful ideas and information in her post.

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8 Aug 2011   ·   34
Money Saving Mom

Failure is an option

Our family is enjoying our annual vacation at the lake in Arkansas with my extended family this week. We always rent a boat and spend many hours on the water.

Most of my family members are adept at skiing–my dad started water-skiing when he was four or five years old and, over fifty years later, he’s still amazing on skis. My brother is a wakeboard whiz. And pretty much everyone else in my family makes water-skiing look like a piece of cake.

Everyone, that is, but me.

I can get up on two skis alright. It’s not pretty, but I can get up and stay up, go over the wakes, and do a decent job of it. But, try as I might, I’ve never been able to slalom.

And today was no different. After watching my brother, dad, and mom all successfully slalom, I jumped out into the water for my turn–determined that I was going to get up on one ski this year.

However, it seems all the determination in the world couldn’t lift my body out of the water to stand up on that one ski. I tried and fell ten times before finally calling it quits for the day (I figured all the patient cheerleaders in the boat probably would like to do something other than start and stop the boat all afternoon!).

Was I discouraged? Yes. I really wanted this year to be the year that I successfully slalomed.

Was I defeated? No. I know I did my best and tried my hardest. I listened to the instructions from my dad and brother. I tried different things to make it work. I gritted my teeth and hung on even when it hurt.

Most of all, I made myself do something hard and kept trying even when I fell down.

Maybe I’ll never be able to get up on one ski. Perhaps tomorrow will be the day it happens. I don’t know. But one thing I do know is this: if you never jump out into the water in the first place, if you never step out of your comfort zone, if you never try hard things, you’ll always be in the same place in life.

Success never comes to people who sit and do nothing. Even if you try something and end up falling flat on your face, you’re still farther ahead than the person who never begins in the first place.

And even if you never get to where you hope to go, I promise you’ll be stronger for trying.

8 Aug 2011   ·   37
Money Saving Mom

This Week’s Menu Plan: The We’re On Vacation Edition

We drove to Arkansas yesterday afternoon to spend a few days on the lake with my extended family. This is our annual get-together and it’s something everyone looks forward to each year.

We share all our meals together and cook/bake all the food in the kitchen in my parent’s cabin, taking turns helping with the meals and clean up for each meal. My parents provide a lot of the food and the rest of us pitch in by bringing what extras we already have on hand (we’re all couponers so we typically raid our pantries and incorporate the excess items into the menu plan for the week!).

Since everyone splits up the cooking and clean up duties, it makes mealtime pretty simple to pull off and keeps it a laid back week for all of us. This not only saves a lot of money, but it gives us more time to spend enjoying the lake and a break from the normal busyness of life.

Silas “driving” the rental boat with my dad

Since I’m not in charge of planning the menu, I’m not exactly sure what all is on the menu this week. So far, we’ve done spaghetti (last night’s dinner) and hamburgers (tonight’s dinner). Breakfast was French Toast, bacon and eggs, smoothies, and juice this morning. Lunches have been sandwiches both days.

We have somewhat of a plan for the rest of the week, but we’ll also wing it some and probably create some new recipe creations using odds and ends of things we brought, too.

What’s on your menu this week? Share details and/or your link to your menu plan in the comments.

8 Aug 2011   ·   13
Money Saving Mom

Teaching Your Tot Without Breaking the Bank – Part 2

Guest post by Jenae from I Can Teach My Child

Teaching your little one doesn’t require fancy curriculum or gobs of materials. As we discussed in my last post, hands-on structured activities for your toddler and preschooler can easily be created by simply using items from around your home. Just keep in mind, however, that young children learn best through play. Give them plenty of opportunities to play with various items by themselves and with you!

When creating a structured activity for your young child, it’s important to keep it short and simple. If an activity takes more than 15-20 minutes, it will probably lose your young child’s attention. Make sure to also keep it upbeat and don’t let your time together be tainted with power struggles. If your child has no interest or refuses to cooperate with an activity, just put it away for another day.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when teaching your child various “subjects”:

Early Math Skills

  • Number Recognition: Recognizing and identifying numbers 1-10 is an important skill for any preschooler to learn in order to be prepared for kindergarten. Even though eventually your child will need to automatically recognize these numbers, resist the temptation to use flashcards or rote memorization. Hands-on experiences and repetition are the best way to teach numbers, whether you’re looking at addresses on mailboxes or pointing out the letters on a calendar.
  • One-to-one correspondence: This is basically just a fancy term for your child being able to recognize that the number seven relates to seven objects by counting them. There are ample opportunities to encourage this skill in your daily life! Try counting kisses or sorting small snacks into a numbered egg carton! Counting songs such as “Five Little Ducks” and “Five Little Monkeys” are also great!

Language Development

  • Reading: Reading to your child is one of the single most important things you can do for developing language skills, starting at infancy!  Although it’s nice to own a few favorites, it is unnecessary to spend a fortune on books.  Most local libraries have a great selection of children’s books, including board books. Another great option is using PaperBackSwap!
  • Letter Recognition: Just like number recognition, teaching your child capital and lower-case letters should not be a tedious or monotonous task.  Alphabet Crafts are a great way to make learning letters fun and interactive. My 3-year old knows how to spell his name simply from his interest in the wooden letters that spell his name on the wall in his bedroom. Go on “hunts” for letters when out running errands or reading books. Learning baskets are also a great way to incorporate letter recognition while still being fun and hands-on!
  • Handwriting: The web is abuzz with tons of printables for teaching your child how to write capital and lower-case letters (go here and here). Prior to using a pen and paper, though, try making letters in shaving cream or forming them with feathers! Keep in mind that printables are great — in moderation. Children retain information better when multiple senses are incorporated into a learning experience.
  • Art: One of the best things we can do for our children is give them opportunities to just be kids…which, of course, includes getting messy! Allowing them to explore and be creative helps them learn about textures, colors, and the world around them. Sensory tubs are also great for toddlers and preschoolers. Did you know you can make almost all the art supplies you need at home? Here are just a few recipes:

Parent-directed activities are great for young children, but kids need time to just be kids. Pretend play is also such an important developmental part of the learning process in preschoolers — and even Mom can join in every now and then!

Jenae is a Master-degree holding former first grade teacher turned stay-at-home Momma. She loves finding creative ways to save money, spending time with her family, and sharing fun activities on her website I Can Teach My Child.

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