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Ibotta Rebates Paid For Our Camping Trip!!

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here

Smores

We have one particular camping trip that is a tradition for our family. We go every year. Same weekend, same place- tradition.

We usually have our reservations by now but for some reason we have been slackers this year. Looking at the calendar last month we agreed we had to make reservations or we would miss our trip.

Then, some very unexpected and crazy expensive issues came up with our house. The kind that wipes out your vacation and emergency funds. The kind that makes you super sad you have to spend all that money but also thankful that you have just enough to fix the problem.

There was nothing left over for our annual camping trip.  I was sad.   I started brainstorming creative ways to fund the trip, or at least make the reservation.

We keep a pretty close eye on budgets around here so I knew none of our accounts had “extra”.  Lucky for me Kroger had  several good Ibotta deals this week, and it gave me an idea.

I have been a member or Ibotta since it started.  It is by far my favorite cash back app.  I use it,  but I don’t check my balance that often. It is like a savings account I kind of forget about. 🙂

This week when I was redeeming offers I checked my balance. Guess what- just enough to cover our lodging for the camping trip!!!   You guys- just enough. How awesome is that?!

My frugal efforts will pay for our annual family camping trip. Not in an I saved enough so we can go way, but in a real, tangible transfer the money and pay for it kind of way.

It if FREE to sign up for Ibotta  , FREE to use it and it will provide a way for us to keep up our tradition! It will provide another year of fun family time and memories.

Sometimes I get discouraged with coupons and apps and deals. It takes time and effort and planning. In the busyness of five young kids there are days I don’t want to plan and make the effort. BUT then there are days like today, where that hard work pays off. And there will be days soon when we are camping that the little effort will be so, so worth it.

Be encouraged money saving mommas! Be encouraged to find the money saving ways that suit your life best and know that they are making a difference, even on the days you don’t see it!

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If you are not a member of Ibotta  here is how to join and how it works:

Download the Ibotta App on your Apple or Android device. Before you go shopping, unlock cash rewards on products by completing quick simple tasks like watching a commercial, learning a fact about the product or completing a survey .

Next, go shopping at your favorite store. Ibotta works 100’s of chains including CVS, Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Publix, Whole Foods Markets, Sam’s Club etc.

After you shop, take a photo of your receipt with the app and upload it. Your account is credited with the money you receive within 24 hours, and you can withdraw it to Paypal or choose from a selection of gift cards.

To make this even more useful you can use Ibotta in conjunction with other store and manufacturer deals. For example, you can use paper or digital coupons  at the store during check out, then receive money back from Ibotta  too!

Also for a trip down memory lane here are 8 Things I learned on Our Family Camping Trip from six years ago.

One of our earlier camping trips. We only had three. :) Look at those babies!!!

One of our earlier camping trips. We only had three. 🙂 Look at those babies!!!

$5 DollyWood or DollyWood Splash Country Admission for Everyone Who Live or Works in Sevier County

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Just wanted to remind everyone this deals starts tomorrow!

Here is a deal for all of you who live or work in Sevier County, TN- $5 One Day Admission to Dollywood  and Dollywood Splash Country!  How fun is that?!

It is happening June 4-10, 2016 at Dollywood and June 11-17, 2016 at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

Here are the details on how to get your tickets and who qualifies and who does not.

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If you decide to take advantage of this great deal be sure to read my Dollywood tips for your best day ever!

Easy, Yummy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites

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Four boys eat a lot of food when they are home for the summer.

This is a fact.

I was running out of options yesterday after karate so I threw together a bunch of stuff from our pantry and made some really yummy energy bites. Here is what I did, but know you can throw all sorts of things into theses babies and they will still be good.

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1/2 c Peanut Butter
1 Ripe Banana smashed (not banana bread ripe, but close)
3/4-1c Oats (I didn’t want to dirty another measuring cup, that’s why the range)
1/4 c Milled Flax seed (again approximate, and not essential if you don’t have it)
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 c Mini Chocolate Chips

Mix all this together in a big bowl.

Place bowl in the fridge for about an hour and it will form into balls with out sticking to your fingers (as much).

Taste your creation, because it is yummy.

Form into balls then, throw them back in the fridge if you’re eating them in the next day OR place them on a cookie sheet and freeze for an hour before putting them in a ziploc bag OR if you don’t care that they stick together place them in the freezer in a ziploc bag and be done. 🙂

These are great to eat out of the freezer or fridge. They are good, full of some good stuff (and some chocolate) and you know exactly what is in them. You can substitute or add things too. I have a friend that adds sweetness-to everything- with pitted dates.

Try throwing together some energy bites and let me know how it goes. Share your recipes, I’m always looking for good, easy snacks for this crew!

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The Day I Tried To Steal My Son’s Shoes & Macy’s Shoe Sale This Weekend

Post may contain affiliate links, read Coupon Katie disclosure policy here

You have through May 29th, to head to Macy’s.com where you can find 20-50% off shoes in the FinishLine Sale!

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I bought my 10 year old the Nike Boys’ Prime Hype DF II Basketball Sneakers from Finish Line (reg.$79) that are on sale for $27. They fit great and he loves them. In an effort to try to talk him into wearing something other than high top tennis shoes, EVER, I also bought him a cute pair of Converse casual Chuck Taylors for  $19.98.

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He was like, yeah, they’re OK. Then I tried them on. Number one, we wear the same size shoe and he is 10!! What? Number two, these things are super cute and super comfy.

So I said- That’s cool buddy, you don’t have to like them. I’ll just wear these.

He freaked out. No, he loves them. They are his. I tried for ten minutes to talk him out of keeping them. I walked around showing him how cute they looked on me. He could not be swayed.

I consider this a fashion win. He now has shoes that are not high tops or flip flops. But honestly, I might order a pair for myself and just never wear them when his friends would be able to see me. 🙂

If you need any shoes, this is a great sale just keep in mind that shipping is free with a $99+ purchase OR get free shipping when you add select beauty items to your order .  For example, grab this Burt’s Bees Lip Balm for just $3.30 to get free shipping. Or, choose free in-store pickup if available near you.

Summer Chore Chart, Summer Schedule & How We Make It Work

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The summer chore chart. One little chore for each boy, each morning. It should take them 2-10 minutes. And yes, the brush your teeth, get dressed etc has to be on there or they will forget. 🙂

I shared my summer chore chart on Facebook last night and received A LOT of feedback.  Some encouraging, some wondering why I would make my kids work so hard in the summer, some asking how old they are, if I have a summer schedule….

So here is the truth.  I love, love, love when my household just clicks along and things are ordered and done on time.  I don’t really love, love, love schedules and planning.  This is a problem.  Keeping a big family running and relatively happy requires logistics matched only by Amazon or FedEx.     Enter chore chart and summer schedule. It is the only way.

It was not fancy.

If it were fancy and detailed it would never work around here.

For those of you who asked why chores in the summer. Because I think kids should do chores.  I just do. I want my kids to be appropriately self-sufficient, to understand there is a time to work and to learn to care for their things.  They are 10, 8, 6 and 4 so they have different, age appropriate chores.  For example, my 4 year old moves the mats in front of the sink and shower so my 8 year old can sweep. Also each chore takes only 1-10 minutes.

Another great question was how do I get my kids to do this without complaining.

They don’t always.

The first week is the hardest, then they just sort of settle into the routine.  Also, there is a little bit of bribery. If you look at the schedule below you will see “Free Time” from 7-8 in the morning. This free time includes being allowed to play X-Box, only if your chores are done for the day. They also know fun like the pool, splash pad for play dates do not happen if chores are not done.   **You have to be willing to stand firm on this, but in experience only once. They have to know mamas not playin’ when it comes to chores.  🙂  In our family peer pressure comes into play too.  They all work together to get their stuff done so we can go have fun.

(If you don’t think your kiddos should have to do chores in the summer that’s cool, we can still be friends. It’s your house, you are the boss.)

Our just enough structure summer schedule

Our just enough structure summer schedule

As for a schedule. Yep. We have one.  I have been working on it for a few days.  I could not decide what was going to be best and I made the nearly fatal mistake of looking on Pinterest.  Oh. My.   It had me doubting my laid back, written on notebook paper schedule in about 2 seconds.

But then I decided  it is my schedule, I can do what I want to.  Blocks of time work better for me. And this is more for when we are hanging around the house all day.

Here is the basic breakdown

You cannot get out of your bed until 7. (my boys are early risers)

7-8 Downstairs chores and free time

You can come up for breakfast

8-noon NON-electronic free time. Play outside, downstairs, do art, ride your bike, read, play with your baby sister etc.  (If you complain you are bored during this time you are referred to a chore for $ chart)

noon-ish Lunch

after lunch– Math flash cards or reading time then Free time again

4ish You are free to play electronics while I work on dinner

5:30ish Dinner

after dinner– 10 minute family pick up time

Free time until bed

If you have been considering a schedule or a chore chart I hope this post has helped you. It doesn’t have to be fancy and to the hour.  I would encourage you to try it. I truly believe my boys function a little better with a little bit of structure to their day.  I know it keeps me less stressed and more able to enjoy them while they are home.

If you are a mastermind at schedules and chore charts share your ideas!  I love learning ways to improve this operation.

 

Art for Kids Hub: Free, Fun Kids Art & Drawing Lessons

Obviously, shirts are optional in our house during the summer. :) this is how they sat for two hours drawing this morning

Obviously, shirts are optional in our house during the summer. 🙂 this is how they sat for two hours drawing this morning

So, I may be way behind the rest of you in finding out about Art for Kids Hub, but let me just say this- it entertained my four boys for about two hours this morning. TWO HOURS folks. It was fantastic.

It is fun site and YouTube channel that teaches kids how to draw all kinds of things. The boys, of course, spent some time on Minecraft characters today. They also checked out a few Inside Out characters, some Angry Birds and Abraham Lincoln. There are all sorts of characters, animals, vehicles etc to chose from.  There is little to no reading, so younger kids can easily participate. The videos are fun and the pace is slow enough that kids can draw along at home while watching.  There is a section for under 5 if you have preschool kiddos that love art.

They also have origami, sculpting and painting tutorials and seasonal projects.

If you are looking for a way to encourage your child’s art this summer, entertain kids on a rainy day or just clean the kitchen without them destroying another room 🙂  check out  Art for Kids Hub!

Here are just a few of their creations. My only problem is going to be displaying and storing all the art they create this summer!

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Thanks Casey for sharing!

2016 FREE Summer Reading Programs : Earn Great Rewards!

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Summer is here!  Time to get signed up for some of these awesome reading programs that will encourage you kiddos to keep reading and earn some fun prizes!

Tennessee Smokies Summer Reading Program

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If you live in East Tennessee this is a program that you will want to check out. The Tennessee Smokies Summer Reading Program is for Smokies fans 12-and-under.

There are five levels of participation that are to be completed by each child participating. To complete a level all your child has to do is read 10 books, 10 chapters, or have 10 books read to him/her (if your child is not reading yet). Once your child has completed his/her first level, bring the Level 1 reading program form to the ticket office at Smokies Park, and exchange it for prizes and free tickets to a Smokies game. We did this last summer and it was great! Here are the rest of the details:

LEVEL 1 – The Single: Two Smokies Tickets, Shoney’s Bookmark
LEVEL 2 – The Double: Two Smokies Tickets, a Shoney’s Pencil
LEVEL 3 – The Triple: Two Smokies Tickets, a Shoney’s & Homer’s Color Me Pennant
LEVEL 4 – The Home Run: Two Smokies Tickets, a Knoxville Zoo ticket & a Free Shoney’s Dessert
LEVEL 5 – The Grand Slam: Two Tickets to August 8th Reading Club Celebration Night at the Ballpark, 2 Meal Vouchers good for a Hot Dog, Bag of Chips & a Drink, a Smokies Card Set & a Shoney’s Healthy Kids Meal! Level 4 form should be turned in by August 1st to be eligible for the August 8th Celebration & Prize night.

 

Knox County Library Summer Reading Club

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Knox County Library’s Summer Library Club is a fun way to help children maintain and improve reading skills through the summer break. The program rewards kids of all ages for reading (or being read to) during the summer. Once kids reach their reading goal, they receive an awesome rewards package! Registration opens Saturday, May 21st.  You can register kids, teens and adults online or at the always super fun and FREE Children’s Festival of Reading  that is happening Saturday, May 21, 2016 at World’s Fair Park from 10 am – 3 pm.

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Prizes include a stretchy, flying superhero and a rewards book. The children’s rewards book is filled with vouchers for more than $200 worth of treats and adventures. Check out a complete listing of the rewards.

Keep track of your summer reading with the library’s printable Reader’s and Listener’s Logs.

Listening Log 2016 (for those not yet reading)
Reading Log 2016

There is no required book list for Summer Library Club, but if you’d like some suggestions to get started, download the Summer Reading Book List, with lots of super titles for kids ages 3-12.

Barnes & Noble Reading Triathlon

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Starting May 17th and through September 6th, Barnes & Noble will be hosting a Summer Reading Triathlon where the kiddos can earn a completely FREE book in 3 easy steps!

Step 1. Fill out the Summer Reading Triathlon Reading Journal (PDF). En Español (PDF).
Step 2. Bring the completed Reading Journal to your local B&N store. Find a Store.
Step 3. Choose a FREE BOOK from our selection on the Reading Journal list at the store… Enjoy reading!

Vote for your favorite hero and place: Download the Ballot (PDF).

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

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The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge is a free online reading program for children that runs through September 9th, 2016. After registering, kiddos are to read as many minutes as they can, log their minutes and earn rewards.

SYNC

Sync

SYNC is a program that gives away two FREE audiobook downloads every week each Summer for readers ages 13+. (each week features a current Young Adult title paired with a Classic or Required Summer Reading title). Titles are delivered through the OverDrive app which can be downloaded for free. For more information, head here.

Book Adventure

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Kids from grades K-8 can head to BookAdventure.com where they can search for books, read them offline, come back to take a quiz and win prizes! Parents and teachers will even have the opportunity to track their child’s/students work (just click on the “Teacher’s Lounge” OR “Parents Place”). Go here to get started searching for a book and check out this video for more information.

Reading with Chuck E.

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You can download and print these Chuck E. Cheese bookmarks for all the books your kiddos are reading this summer!  They are good for 5 FREE tokens if you are dining at Chuck E. Cheese’s this summer. (one per child)  You can check you local store to see what other summer reading promo they are doing.