Posts Tagged ‘free’

Bubba U

Friday, December 30th, 2011

Every night, Oliver and I read books before he goes to sleep.  One of his favorite books is an alphabet book with pictures. He is so happy to be learning his alphabet and his smile is contagious.  No matter what is going on in the world, or in my life, he reminds me to slow down and appreciate the little things.  After a year like we just had, I am grateful for the reminder and am humbled to be a part of his little world.

I taped tonight’s reading to share with you the simple joy of a boy who is learning his ABCs.  If you ever feel stressed, just say, “Bubba U” and smile.



Fall Fun at the Corn Maze

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

Daddy came home this weekend bringing crisp fall weather with him.  We went to a local corn maze for some fun in the sun.

They had tractors of all sorts, bouncy houses, play gyms, hay bales to climb, a sand pit, horses, hay rides, and a corn maze to go through.  The maze, horse and hay rides all required tickets – everything else was free!

Evelyn got lost in the toddler hay maze.  She kept thinking, “Why would I walk through this maze when I can just climb over these hay bales?”

Oliver thought that billy goats ate anything.  The goat was like, “Dude, that’s a rock.  Give me a cheeto.”

Evelyn kept the cheetos to herself.

It was a breezy and cool 61 degrees in the sun when we went.  The kiddos had cold little noses and frozen fingers by the time we left.  I need my friend Rebecca to make Evelyn a little hat for the winter (wink, wink).  Evelyn liked checking things out from the wagon and Oliver loved jumping in the bouncy house and running around.  It was a great way to have some family time before Daddy ships off to Atlanta again on Sunday.

Search the internet to find your local farm, pumpkin patch, or corn maze and see what they have going on.  Sometimes, you have to pay to enter the property and experience what they have to offer.  Other times, you can walk right in and have all the free fun you can stand for one bright and sunny autumn day.  It’s worth a look!

Skype Video Call – Remote Parenting

Monday, September 26th, 2011

One way that we are going to stay connected while the hubby is in Atlanta is to use Skype video for the kiddos.  The hubby normally tucks Oliver in every night.  Last night, without Daddy, Oliver had a hard time falling asleep and kept waking up.  Tonight we tried Skype and it was a big hit!

Oliver was a little nervous at first, but he kept pointing at the screen and saying “Dah dee?”.

The hubby and Oliver did the Itsy Bitsy Spider together with perfect streaming video and audio.  It was so cute I could have died.

Oliver spent about 15 minutes talking to his Daddy.  Daddy even got Oliver to pick up his room and put all his legos away.  I panned the camera so the hubby could watch and coach as Oliver cleaned up.  Oliver didn’t put up any fuss at all for virtual Daddy!

The best part about it?  It was free!  Well the Skype Video service is free, but there are some sunk costs involved. 

First, you need a computer/laptop/tablet/smart phone of some sort that you can install Skype on.  Second, you need a video camera and microphone (We bought a little Logitech webcam/microphone combo for only $35 and it is amazing.).  Third, you need a decent internet connection for smooth operation (The hubby had to pay to upgrade his service at his hotel after the first test on basic wifi hardly worked.)

After you have all that in place, you need to go to and download the software, create an account, hook up your webcam/microphone, and call away!  There are a few tests you can run to check the sound quality, but overall it’s been decent for  us. 

BTW – Oliver went right to sleep after video calling his Daddy.  He hasn’t uttered a peep so far tonight.  Looks like we have a new bedtime ritual!

Sunday at the Park

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

It finally has stopped raining and just in time too.  One of Oliver’s friends turned 3 today and we went to her birthday party at a local park.

Oliver got to feed the ducks, but I’m told there were no ducks in sight.

Instead of bread, Oliver threw rocks — and he loved it!

At the playground daddy helped him down the big corkscrew slide.  After a few helping turns, he was zipping down all by himself.

There was even a section of the play gym for Evelyn too.

She tried to walk down the slide and after a near disastrous fall daddy stepped in to help her out too.

Her first slide ride!  She is not the thrill seeker that Oliver is.  She is perfectly happy to stand at the top and boss everyone around (ahem…).

Our fun was shortlived as daddy/the hubby had to leave for Atlanta today.  We went our separate ways after teary goodbyes and that was that.  I just have to remember that tomorrow is another day.  Soon enough daddy/the hubby will be back for a visit.

Beat the heat and get things done

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

How do you let your two year old get some exercise when it’s sweltering outside?  Give him a water hose!  I dressed him in his thinnest jammies, so the bugs wouldn’t eat him, and let him get drenched with the hose.  He LoVeD it!

Come rain or shine, we still have to press on with the work.  In between torrential rain showers, I sprayed my dining room chandelier with a coat of primer.  I’m experimenting with a paint technique to rejuvinate our dated brass fixture (blog post coming).

The hubby kept working on the bricks.  We’ve finished this side of the house and the curve going to the porch looks really good (blog post coming).

We are SO close to finishing this side of the house.  We have about 3 square feet of the patio by the gate to finish.  Though we love the rain, it was frustrating trying to work between the storms all day long.  We had hoped to brush sand/cement/mortar in between the bricks to set them, but it was entirely too wet to try.

Instead of fighting it, the hubby decided to go with the storms and wash the cars!  Hey, free rain water – why not?

Inside, I kept the kids hydrated to stay cool while we gave the A/C a break during the storms.  Evelyn drinks out of a big girl cup and it is too cute to hear her little teeth clinking on the glass.

She’s got 4 big chompers now and I can see a few more coming in.  She’s just shy of 9 months and I can’t believe how fast she is growing.

I tried to give Oliver a haircut to help him stay cool, but he was having none of that!  I think he’s still traumatized from the last hair cut I gave him.  Not sure what we’ll do this time around…

We are almost 100% finished with the kids’ rooms.  We hung all the curtains and valances today, changed out the last of the plugs for new ones, brought down the closet doors from the attic, and brought in some toys from the living room.  I have some cool ideas for making wall art to hang in each room that I will be working on this week.

I refused to touch the kitchen until we started wrapping up the other rooms.  We’ll start on the kitchen tomorrow and hopefully knock it out over the week.  We have a busy week with Oliver starting a new school, the realtor coming by to fill out paperwork, a couple doctor’s appointments, a playdate for Evelyn, and a trip to Marbles for a family night out.  Busy much?  :-)

Hope everyone has a great week ahead!

Playing Together and Learning to Share

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Some of my best times are spent with my kids just watching them play.  Evelyn is mobile enough to get around and is in full baby discovery mode.  She has no concept of good or bad, yours or mine, and sharing or taking turns.  On the other hand, Oliver has reached the age where he IS aware of those differences. 

This is a classic photo!  Oliver spent so much time carefully building up his towers on the pegs.  Evelyn scooted over and much to Oliver’s chagrin, began pulling off his blocks.

My little man took it like a champ though.  After a few tears, he was back into the game.  He never hit his sister or yanked the piece away.

Oliver went back to playing and Evelyn found a new toy to chew on.  She was just happy to be near her big brother and Oliver even share some pieces with her in the end.  This was an hour well spent.  Fun and Free!

Do your kids get along with each other?  Any tips on teaching them to share with other children?

Spring Festival 2011

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Spring is officially here!  An organization we belong to threw a Spring Festival at a local park.  There were face painters, free food, a bouncy house, and games galore. 

Oliver spent the afternoon chasing down the Easter bunny.  Wherever the rabbit went, Oliver wasn’t far behind.  In this pic, Oliver was inspecting a decoy when the real rabbit popped up.  He hightailed it outta there!

Evelyn loved chomping on the rabbit.  She even got a purple one of her own.

Oliver played a few games, including this Duck Swim.  Some ducks had the word, “Winner” written on the bottom of them.  If you picked those ducks, you got a prize.  Oliver, very systematically, picked all the ducks and they loaded him up with swag for being so cute.

Oooo, that wascally wabbit!  This was as close as Oliver got to the bunny.  I’m sure he’s going to have some crazy dreams tonight of a white rabbit.

Evelyn was a big hit.  With her bling and her shades, she looks like a superstar!

We had a great time out and about today.  We got some fresh air, some sunshine, and some exercise.  Best of all, we did it together and it cost us nothing.  It’s amazing what public resources are out there for everyone.  Google has become our best friend.  :-)

What have you done to celebrate spring this year?

Spring is Here – Trips to Park

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Spring is here!  I try to get the kids to a local park at least twice a week to play.  We have a new community center in our neighborhood that has a really nice playground for the kids.  It’s all new construction and the ground around the play gym is made of squishy foam.  Oliver can run around to his hearts content and I’m not so scared of him hitting his head on the ground here.

The park has two play gyms, one for toddlers and one for kids 5 and up.  Oliver loves the older setup better.  It has bigger slides!

See the rubber ground?  No sand or wood chips to clean out of shoes and no scrapes or skinned knees.

The community center held a mini-camp for the kids who were tracked out of their year round schools.  Children in grades K-5 were all over the play area when we arrived.  Oliver had a blast “playing” with them.  A bunch of young girls took a liking to him and chased him all over the playground playing tag and peekaboo with him.  When the camp counselors called everyone in for lunch, Oliver marched right over there with them.  Since he’s so little he had to take the long way around down the ramp and the kids were calling out “Bye Oliver” to him.  It was too cute.

Thankfully, they were watering the plants that day and he got distracted from his friends by a hose.  Gotta love it!

Here’s a couple things to keep in mind when you go to public parks:

1- Don’t forget the sunscreen!
2- Don’t forget water, snacks, and wipes to clean their hands with.
3- Park equipment gets EXTREMELY hot!  Especially the slides.
4- Leave your valuables locked in your car.  Some parks are very busy and nimble fingers can pluck your wallet right out of your diaper bag when you leave it sitting on the bench while you chase your kid for just that one minute.
5- Pay attention to the age limits on the equipment.  Oliver loves the 5+ play gym, but I only let him play there when I can get up there with him.  It looks safe enough with it’s big platforms, bridges, railings, and slides, but at strategic points they have zero rails so that big kids can slide down poles and swing off onto monkey bars, etc…  A 4 ft drop for a big kid might be okay, but would be very bad for Oliver.

Lastly, use common sense and trust your instincts when it comes to your personal safety at the park.  My mom made me promise not to go to the park a few streets over from our house when it was empty.  The park is very big, secluded, and slightly run down.  If something bad were to happen to us (an injury, a dog attack, a robbery, an assault), there would be no people to flag down.  Look for parks that have wide open spaces, people visiting, have community centers, are well maintained, and easy access to parking.  Those are the places where we have the most fun!

Family Fun with Slides

Monday, January 31st, 2011

To small for slides

Last weekend the temperature warmed up to a sunny 59 degrees – perfect weather for going to the park!  With daddy’s help, Oliver had a blast on all the slides.  Evelyn got her some mommy and me time and was wide eyed staring at all the trees.

Things that roll

Oliver commandeered a ball from some other kids and hightailed it to the slide.

Helping hand

Daddy rolled it down the slide and Oliver chased after it.  He thought this was the best thing since sliced bread.  He was so excited that he would run over to me, laughing, and clapping his hands before running back to the slide.

whoa there

We hit another play gym nearby that was designed for older kids.  The platform to the big slide was probably a good 10 – 15 feet from the ground.  Oliver did not hesitate at all and nearly gave daddy a heart attack when he started going down head first.

on your belly please

Daddy rescued him and made him come down on his tummy.


He LOVED it!

i made it

Our son is a little thrill seeker just like his dad.  The hubby finally has someone to ride the roller coasters with at an amusement park! :-)

again again

He barely touched down before he was off and running to climb back up the stairs again.  He must have slid down the big slide 5 or 6 times and then the smaller slide 3 or 4 times.  With all the climbing, he slept REAL good that night.

We had been busy all weekend with house cleaning and reorganizing Evelyn’s room just one more time, but I am so happy that we stopped to go to the park together.  It was nice to get fresh air, and even better for Oliver to get some exercise.  Best of all, it was fun and totally free.  Very frugal way to spend an afternoon!

Frugal Tip of the Day:  Check out the play areas at your local elementary schools in addition to the public parks.  Many of them are very well maintained, clean, and are more elaborate than what I’ve seen in the public park system.

Toddler Fun: Sink Play

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Looking for an easy way to entertain your toddler?  Give him some cups and let him play in the bathroom sink! Easy as that. It’s frugal, free, and fun.  This is a great activity for him or her to do while you get to scrubbing that tub and toilet.

Children benefit from messy water play in many ways.  Just from my observations, I notice that he is learning cause and effect – when he tips the cup, water comes out.  He’s learning sequencing – 1- turn on the water, 2- fill the cup, 3- dump the water. 

He’s developing his hand-eye coordination by pouring from one vessel to another.  He’s also learning how different objects hold different amounts of water.  He’ll play with the little cup and then go search out the monster size cup to make a bigger splash.

He’s also learning about sound.  He loves to slowly pour the water and then when the last drop “kerplops” into the sink he laughs his head off.

Things to keep in mind for water play in the sink:

1) Plug the drain!  He loves playing with the running water, but it’s not cost effective nor conservative.

2) Make sure all electrical appliances (hair dryers, curling irons, etc) have been removed.

3) Give the child a sturdy step stool to stand on.  Make sure it is on a non-slip surface.

4) Keep a towel handy for those inevitable spills.  You probably can’t see in the pics, but his shirt is soaked from the chest down.

5) Provide a variety of containers to fill and dump.

When your little engineer is finished experimenting with water, use the cleanup as a teaching moment.  Show them how to put away their containers.  Show them how to wipe up the water on the counter or floor with a towel.  Show them that their clothes are wet and walk them through changing into dry ones.  They will be learning the consequences of their actions and what to expect the next time.

Oliver loves playing in the sink and wants to move up to the kitchen sink and sprayer now.   The day he gets his hands on the sink sprayer is the day I submit my first video to America’s Funniest Home Video!

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