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Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at Swistle.com.

Shopping ideas for summer fun

Categories: Books, Crafts and activities, Elementary school kids, Managing stress, On the web, Toys, games

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Normally this time of year I’m buying a batch of Summer Survival Gear Treats. I like to buy a new CD for the driving back and forth to lessons and camp; a new outdoor toy or two; a new board game; some craft supplies; maybe a new video game.

This year, we seem to be all set. We’ve bought all the CDs, and/or the kids are too old for them now. (I’d like to get The Book of Mormon soundtrack because they’ve loved the few songs I’ve shown them on YouTube, but the lyrics to a lot of them are…not ones I want them singing absentmindedly next year in school.) We already own a Stomp Rocket and a plasma car and a hula hoop and some jump ropes and a scooter. We’ve got Skip-bo and Wits & Wagers and Scrambled States. Our video game shelf and craft bin overfloweth, and I just got a big bag of kid books from the library book sale.

I did buy one thing:

Webkinz Deluxe Membership (screen shot from GanzEStore.com), which gives access to a bunch of otherwise-locked games and merchandise and so forth on the Webkinz site. The tipping point for me was a sale: normally it’s $45 for a year’s membership, but June 10th-13th it’s on sale for $33.74. (If you want to get the 3-month one so it’s just a summer thing, it’s $11.24.) The year-long one comes with the ability to add other accounts for $5 each, so I got it for myself (*embarrassed cough*) and added the three kids who play Webkinz. It’s hard for me to explain how thrilling this has been for us, and in fact I find I’m reluctant to try to persuade you that this isn’t a very foolish thing to spend money on, and maybe we should just change the subject. But it was Very Exciting for four of us at my house, and the year-long subscription also comes with a free Webkinz pet (online version only, no plush version), a fawn I kept for myself. It also comes with a monthly batch of virtual money, so I am saving up for a Sun Fox. …Okay, NOW I’m too embarrassed to discuss it anymore. (SUN FOX FOR ME!)
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Supplies for a sleepover

Categories: Elementary school kids, games

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Elizabeth has been invited to her first sleepover. I went on and on to the other mother about how she MIGHT be too nervous to accept the invitation—but it turns out Elizabeth’s fine and I’m the one who’s nervous.

I manage stress by shopping—or by pretend-shopping (I was glad to find recently that I am not alone in this). In this case I don’t think I actually need to buy anything: she can use an adult-sized orange-and-khaki sleeping bag we already own, and she doesn’t need new pajamas. But I had some fun putting together a pretend kit anyway.

Hello Kitty sleeping bag and backpack and Hello Kitty sleeping bag (photos from Amazon.com). At first I preferred the one on the left—but it’s more expensive than the one on the right, and comes with a backpack we don’t need. [The prices/sellers keep changing as I'm working on this. At first it was $40 for the one on the left and $20 for the one on the right. I'd re-do the search for "Hello Kitty sleeping bag" before buying.] I’m a little tempted to get her one of these even though she could make do with the one we have, just because the one we have is sooooo much bigger than she needs AND FINE, BECAUSE I LIKE TO BUY HELLO KITTY THINGS.

3-piece pajama set (photo from ChildrensPlace.com). Elizabeth has some footed sleepers, and she has some of the snug-fit cotton two-piece type pajamas, but it seems like the best would be the style with looser-fitting pants and a t-shirt. She has some of that type, and also some Nick & Nora button downs that would work well.
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Non-candy Valentine’s Day gifts for kids

Categories: Crafts and activities, Elementary school kids, Food, Gifts, Holiday, Toys, games

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I hope that this post will not give you the impression that I disapprove of candy at Valentine’s Day, or that I avoid it. FAR FROM IT. I give my own kids a candy gift, and I like that they come home with a little assortment of treats from school, too: it’s nice to have a candy holiday in between Christmas and Easter, just to keep the spirits up in the cold sad part of winter.

But I know enough from seeing/hearing OTHER people discuss it that not everyone is of the same mind. For those who are trying to avoid candy for various reasons but still would like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with a gift for the kids, here are a few ideas:

Sticky Mosaics heart box (photo from Amazon.com). I have mentioned Sticky Mosaics often enough that you already know we’re fans at my house. This heart box is a fun project we’ve also given as birthday-party gifts.

Hide ‘n’ Peek Chocolates game (photo from Amazon.com). If you look at the reviews, you’ll see that a lot of people thought this was a good Valentine’s Day gift for a child, and that unfortunately there is one main problem with it: the lid doesn’t fit on right. So it kind of depends on how important that feature is for the game to be a success. If you’re going to store it in a bin anyway (if you’re like me and wouldn’t want to assemble the toy every time you put it away, for example), it won’t matter—but it might be disappointing anyway.
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