4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

As much as we’d love to be a Disney family, high tailing it off to Orlando a few times a year, that’s not really practical for most of us, is it? No, and even if you do, there will be plenty of time between to fill up with memories at home.

Here are 3 things I’ve found lately to have a BLAST with my children without spending much money at all and without leaving our house.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family

Retail $34.95 on Amazon. I got it for $3.95 at Goodwill! Hurray!!

Board Games

This one can be even cheaper than you think. I buy almost all of our games at Goodwill or other local thrift stores. Part of Daniel’s birthday gift this year was an Angry Birds game I found for $3.95 at Goodwill. Maybe $3.95 doesn’t sound cheap, but when you figure the whole family could play it, it was in perfect condition, and retail it would have been more like $34, it starts to sound like a steal.

This morning we paid Spongebob Monopoly, and while 3 of 4 boys quit early on from boredom, Daniel hung in there and beat me SOUNDLY.

So did everyone have fun? Sort of. Everyone did for a little while. And one of them had the special honor of beating mom. Also, he learned so much about counting money and making change.

 

We bought this net for ~$40. This one at Amazon actually comes with birdies and rackets.

Playing Sports Outside…..and yeah, sometimes inside

What we play depends on what they are into at the time. Last year it was always baseball. Now it’s mostly basketball, but lately we’ve been all about badminton.

Here’s my best tips for introducing your kids to badminton or tennis:

  1. Buy any racquets at thrift stores. Thrift stores almost always have tennis rackets, and when you are playing at home, you can totally play badminton with big giant tennis rackets. In fact, it makes it easier for the kids to hit the birdie.
  2. If you don’t have a net, designate a line on the driveway as your “net”. By the way, the one above is a nice one. You can also buy super cheap ones, but I can’t vouch for how good they will be, but they might be better than just the line on the driveway. Ha!
  3. Our family just used the crack in the driveway as our “net” until we had time to go buy a net.

Most sports can be simulated at home without actually owning the equipment. In most cases, you just need a ball.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

Charades!

ABSOLUTELY FREE: CHARADES!!!

Alan took some papers, cut them into squares and wrote names of people we know, movies we’ve watched, and places we’ve been to on them. Then he made a paper bag for each category, and put the papers in the bags for us to draw out.

The boys LOVED it. It was more personal this way. We used family members, and then they’d act out what they’ve noticed about those family members. The cutest was when they were being their cousin Wesley, and they got on their knees, to show they were short, and then went around hugging everyone! Ha!!!

For places, we used random ones like the driveway, the pumpkin patch, and places we used to live. Just talking about it makes me want to do this again. We all laughed so much.

Include the little ones too. Just whisper in their ear how to act it out. As long as there’s one person to guess, you’re good. When toddlers get involved, I promise it will be hilarious. They may even announce to everyone who they are being, like JD does, and that’s okay.

Turn something they LOVE into a family activity!

Light sabers? Family jousting tournament

Legos? Building contest! And name a different prize for each kid. Maybe even make little construction paper ribbons.

Dancing? Dance Party.

For example, the ever so obnoxious BOTTLE FLIPPING!!

Does any mom or teacher out there not hate this activity? Why? It’s loud. It’s annoying, and it always spills water.

Did you know they make games for Bottle Flipping? As in board-game like games? They do!

 

We chose this one. It’s $24.95 on Amazon.

 
I decided to give this a shot. This is the very first time I had ever attempted to flip a bottle, and I’m here to tell you it is way HARDER than it looked! I have new respect.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

Best of all, my older boys got a real kick out of me participating in bottle flipping with them. My oldest wasn’t even going to play with us at first, but once he saw us having fun, he joined in and then insisted that we play again.

4 Almost Free Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family + Giveaway

Score board, caps, and cards are all included. Cards are funny. One said, put your elbow in your shirt, and flip the bottle like a T-Rex. Haaaa!!!

In fact, I want you all to join in on this fun, so this week we are giving the Bottle Flippin’ Game away for FREE to one of you!

***This giveaway is sponsored by the Bottle Flip Game.***

I love giveaways!!!

To enter just Log in with Facebook or your email below, and click one of the options. If you have trouble, just send me your email address, and I’ll enter ya.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Good luck!!!

Thoughts on My Last Baby’s First Day of Preschool

thoughts on my last baby's first day of preschool

I tried to take his pic outside by the car, but my iPhone spazzed, and I had to re-start it. I tried again once we got to his class, with my now working phone, but JD said, “You already did,” and walked off to show his new teacher his Lightning McQueen backpack.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in a week. Maybe it’s because he’s my fourth son, my last baby. I don’t know, but today I dropped JD off at his first day at preschool, and I cried all the way home.

He’s three and a half, and he’s ready. We knew he was ready. He knew he was ready. His brothers are even excited for him.

Thought from my last baby's first day of preschool

And he handled it like a champ. He proudly put on his brand new Minions tennis shoes, showed me where to write his name on his new Batman lunch box, and rushed me out the door. He didn’t even pause long enough for his “First day” picture, he was just so eager to go.

And what did I do? Well, I handled it like a grown-up. I cried all the way home. I was supposed to go straight to the grocery store, but I couldn’t. I had to run home to my refuge, crying.

I’m fighting the urge to sit down in the floor with a Coca-Cola and a fat stack of baby photo albums and boo hoo.

I haven’t had days off like this since 2010. I’ve had part-time babysitters that came and took care of the boys while I went to doctor appointments, but this is different. I might finally write my book!

There is something extra special about time off when you are taking care of small children all the time. It is beyond necessary.  I hope if you are a mom of pre-schoolers that you will sanctify at least one day a week to have time off from taking care of children.

Schedule it! Make someone commit to watching those babies for you while you take 2 hours off, or whatever you can get!

Make them put it in writing.

“I promise to watch these sweet, precious children on this day at this time every single week so Mommy doesn’t lose her mind or end up with a heart problem.”

I miss that sweet little boy already. Oh, I love him so much. I can’t believe he is my last pre-schooler. I’ve had at least one preschooler, usually more, in this house for 11 years now, and suddenly I find myself almost finished with this phase. I only have 1 1/2 more years!

Oh, no. I’m going to start crying again if I talk about it. How I’ve loved it. I have loved every minute of taking care of these babies. Okay. That’s not true. I didn’t love every minute, but I loved THEM every minute.

Thoughts on My Last Baby's First Day of Preschool

JD sleeping on me just this past weekend, and Caleb showing of his latest Lego creation. I do love this job. I love it.

Sometimes I long for them at ages that they used to be that we will never get back. They are still here, but that age of them is gone forever. Sometimes I think back to, for example, baby Daniel, the round little ball of baby, my two-year-old boy who followed me around relentlessly wanting to help me do everything.

Thoughts on My Last Baby's First Day of Preschool

two-year-old Daniel

I think about rocking my babies at night, and while I don’t want to go through all that we went through again, I’d give anything just to hold one of those sweet babies and rock them and feed them.

Thoughts on My Last Baby's First Day of Preschool

holding one or two-year-old Caleb. He was a little sea-sick. (Destin, Florida)

I think about one-year-old Caleb and how he thought his big brother was the greatest person of all time. I think about them in their little Halloween costumes and how they’d take turns sitting in my lap to read books.

Okay, now I’m pouring tears, and I have clearly crossed over to the bad, bad, super sad place, so I’d better stop thinking about this.

Thoughts on My Last Baby's First Day of Preschool

Me with my very first toddler. I can still remember that feeling of new love you have when you first become a parent. It’s so much it feels like your heart could just explode with rainbows and joy.

 

I’m going to clean up my face, put my contacts in, and I’m going to go to Sam’s. I’m going to go be a grown-up, because that’s what you do and because we are almost out of milk and totally out of my coffee creamer. And I’m going to just be thankful for the time that I had with each of those adorable baby boys. I’ll keep enjoying them at the stages that they are now, and one day I’m going to be one awesome grandma.

Granted, I’m already under doctor’s orders to not lift any babies over 10 pounds because of my arthritis, but I can hold them in a chair, and I can take lots of Tylenol.

Then at 1:00 today, I get to pick JD back up and cuddle him for as long as he will let me, which if I put in a movie, might actually be a long time.

Thoughts on My Last Baby's First Day of Preschool

Don’t get me wrong, I have times when I’m so beaten down by kids that I’m not this sentimental, when I’m happy for a break. But today was JD’s first day of preschool, so today was not that day.

I have seen another evil under the sun, and it weighs heavily on mankind: 2 God gives some people wealth, possessions and honor, so that they lack nothing their hearts desire, but God does not grant them the ability to enjoy them, and strangers enjoy them instead.

 

 

This is meaningless, a grievous evil.

3 A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.                         Ecclesiastes 6:1-3

Enjoy those babies while you can. I guess that’s my point. Enjoy them, but take breaks because you really can’t pour water from an empty pitcher, and you know they will drain every drop from you. Take time to refill that pitcher and enjoy those little ones. That’s what I’m doing today. I’m re-charging….and I’m buying milk.

 

 

 

Fishin’ with DaddyO Photoblog

Amazon

Fishin’ With DaddyO

These weekends were just as beautiful as the photos appear. Alan took our youngest two boys and went camping with DaddyO in Alabama. They fished, they cleaned the fish, they ate the fish, they learned about the importance of gun safety while shooting cans, and they got to sleep in a tent. It looks so good, it almost makes me wish I had gone too.

But then I remind myself that I don’t touch worms, I don’t clean fish, I don’t sleep on the ground, I don’t like being cold, and I don’t do well with bugs, and then I’m okay with my decision to pass on the camping.

fishing with DaddyO

A successful day of fishing! The boys are still talking about this.

fishin' with DaddyO

Look at all those leaves!

After living on the California coast for two years, we have a fresh new appreciation for fall foliage. I can’t get enough of it!

fishin' with DaddyO

happiest moment ever

fishin' with DaddyO

Pick-up trucks are an essential part of a Southern campout.

img_5125 fishin' with DaddyO fishin' with DaddyO

I know. It almost makes me nervous too. But if you knew Alan, you’d know how good this actually is. I guarantee you those two little boys now no more about the danger of guns and gun safety and the purpose of guns than most adults do. Alan is such a thorough teacher. He is an amazing dad.

 

fishin' with DaddyO

Pioneer Dad

fishin' with DaddyO

Daniel shows off the target afterwards.

fishin' with DaddyO

You see why Alan and Daniel called this “the man trip.”

You should’ve heard Daniel talking about this trip the day before. “We are going on a MAN trip. We’re going to do MAN stuff.  MAN stuff!” Can’t you just hear Tim the Toolman Taylor saying “far ra rar ruff!”

fishin' with DaddyO

 

The big boys missed out on the camping trip. However, they all went with Alan to Providence Canyon State Park last weekend while I got a desperately needed day off! Here are a few photos from that!

fishin' with DaddyO

in front of The Little Grand Canyon: “A good laugh overcomes more difficulties and dissipates more dark clouds than any other one thing.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

fishin' with DaddyO

This is Providence State Park, also known as The Little Grand Canyon. It developed through erosion, some related to early farming techniques, but also to the soft clay here, only since the settlers landed.

fishin' with DaddyO

They took turns being statues. I think Daniel was the Statue of Liberty.

fishin' with DaddyO

Caleb as the thinker.

fishin' with DaddyO

Caleb, as Rio’s Jesus statue

fishin' with DaddyO

“They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than President of the United States forever.” ― Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

fishin' with DaddyO

Caleb, as “The Thinker”

fishin' with DaddyO

Mud. Glorious mud.

img_5304 img_5311

I hope you all have a happy Thanksgiving. I want to tell you how thankful I am to be starting to feel settled in my new home. It’s been four months now, and the depression that came with moving has passed. I have a modicum of energy again, and I cannot tell you just how much I am enjoying these incredible fall colors.

I’m sitting here staring out the window. The trees in front of me are orange and red, mixed in with pine green.

It reminds me that if I am thankful for fall, then I must be thankful for change. No matter how we resist it, it is simply one of the seasons. We know it’s coming. Look for the beauty. If every change were as beautiful as autumn, that wouldn’t be so hard.

These recent changes in my life actually are a thing of wonder. The boys are growing. Our family is closer. I’m doing a little outside work for the first time in 11 years!! The places and faces I see everyday are new, but they will soon be familiar.

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines. Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that great sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

 

 

By the way, be sure to sign up for my new newsletter, which I’m excited to get started. If you are currently getting my blog via email, I still don’t actually have your email address. WordPress does, but I don’t. So you still need to sign up for this separately. Just click here to enter your email and stay connected!

 

 

 

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