What Is Cozi Family Calendar & How To Use The Cozi Family Calendar To Make Life Easier For Your Whole Family!

What is Cozi Family Calendar? Cozi Family calendar is the solution to taking the stress out of your family's busy life. With Cozi Calendar, you can keep up with a shared calendar, chore lists, to do lists, shopping lists, meal planning and more!

I think you will agree with me that sometimes getting your whole family on the same page feels like a never ending battle that we can never ever win. For years, I struggled with the fact that I could talk until I was blue in the face, but my family consistently acted like I was giving them brand new information every single time.

“I told you, we have that meeting today”.

“What?! You never told me that!”.

Cue exasperated groan and questioning why I ever even open my mouth if nobody will bother to listen!

Okay, in reality, I am making it sound MUCH worse than it really was, but to be fair…I could just sense it was going to continue getting even more difficult to communicate the goings on in our lives the older the kids got (because we all know, the older the kids get, the busier the whole family becomes!).

Thankfully, I had a friend YEARS ago that told me about Cozi Family Calendar!

I attempted Cozi Calendar once before when my children were small. Honestly, we just didn’t really have enough going on at the time for me to need to keep up with it. It wasn’t until years later (and a few failed attempts with Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and a few other calendar apps) that my friend’s advice came back to me.

I downloaded Cozi Calendar on my phone (it is also web based), and pretty immediately subscribed to Cozi Gold (Cozi Gold is NOT necessary, but we think it is worth it for our needs and our family. More on that later.).

Now, we have been using (and paying for…although this is NOT a sponsored post, but there are affiliate links in this post) Cozi for well over a year now and we just love it. (My favorite feature? Using Cozi for CHORES! Read on to see why.)

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

Here’s a quick testimonial from my husband:

“A little work in Cozi can go a long way.  With just a few entries, suddenly everyone in the family had an easy reference point to remind ourselves of the kids’ baskebetball schedules.  No need to ask each other or go digging around in old emails to see what time the next game is.  The shared Lists feature is also pretty handy.  Aside from keeping track of your own to-do lists you can easily see what the family has left on theirs.  Great way to keep each other accountable or to see if anybody needs some help.”

I highly recommend Cozi Calendar for any busy family and here is why:

What Is Cozi Calendar?

Cozi is the must-have organizer for families. It helps coordinate and communicate everyone’s schedules and activities, track grocery lists, manage to do lists, plan ahead for dinner, and keep the whole family on the same page.

For us, this looks like our shared calendar, color coded for each family member and synced on everyone’s devices. My daughter does not yet have an actual phone with a data plan yet, but she uses an old iPhone of mine here at home with WiFi. If she did not have a device, she would also have the option to access Cozi Calendar from one of our computers.

This looks like to-do lists for every member of our family AND shopping lists for all of the stores we frequent that anybody can add to.

This also *could* look like our grocery list and meal plan, but at the moment I am using the app Paprika for this (I am planning to transition all of my recipes over to Cozi, but it is going to be a pretty big undertaking, so for now, I don’t mind not using this feature of Cozi Calendar. Paprika is a great app too.).

How to Share Cozi Calendar With Your Family

With Cozi calendar, you have a shared password for everyone in your family.

To add family members, sign into your account from Cozi on the web or from your Cozi mobile app, click Settings, and add names and email addresses. Once you enter names and email addresses for your family members, they will be able to access the account by signing in with their own email address and the shared password

Cozi is meant to be shared as a family, so if you are wanting a personal calendar that your family does not see (maybe for your workday, you don’t necessarily need your family seeing every scheduled conference call!), you might want to keep that on a separate Google Calendar.

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

How to Use Cozi for Family Scheduling

Using the Cozi Calendar for family scheduling is SUPER easy. You just click to add an event and then you can input as much or as little info as you want!

You can even specify which family members need to be reminded about this event so that not everyone needs to be reminded about your upcoming Well Woman’s visit (but like I said earlier, they will still see this appointment if they go in and look, they just won’t be notified by reminders!). 

With Cozi Gold, you can even add additional reminders so if you are the type of person that needs a reminder the night before, the morning of and 10 minutes before, you can totally do that with Cozi Gold!

You can view your calendar in day/week/month format. I love this list view!

You might also like – School Morning Routine Hacks – Get Out the Door with a Smile (and On Time!)

How to Use Cozi For Chores!!!

Okay, right here is my favorite Cozi feature! My kids might not admit it, but even they love using Cozi for chores.

Why would my kids love using Cozi for chores? I have found that giving my children a list of chores/responsibilities takes away from the emotion of the “ask”.

Let me elaborate:

“Could you please empty the dishwasher.”

Finishes emptying the dishwasher. Kid thinks he is done and moves on to something else (fun).

“Okay, now I need you to bring down your laundry”.

Kid brings down laundry. Starts another (fun) task.

“Okay, now please feed the dog.”

Kid feeds dog and then hides from you for the rest of the night.

It’s funny because it is TRUE! I actually remember doing this as a kid myself!

With Cozi calendar, you can create chore lists in the app and either tell your kids to look in the app for their chore list or you can even text their list to them! Then, as they complete tasks, they check them off. Which is not only satisfying for them, but also satisfying for ME as their mom!

I find my kids do great with lists, and they are also obsessed with getting their lists cleared.

My daughter will even add to her list sometimes. Look at her adorable addition to her Cozi Chore list (Cookie is our dog):

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

How To Use the Cozi App for Meal Planning

Like I said before, I don’t really use Cozi for meal planning. I reverse menu plan and have been saving recipes to the app Paprika for a long time. While it would be nice to have our meal plan and recipes on Cozi, I have known it would be a big task to transfer everything over. I might get to it one day though, and if I do, I will definitely update this section!

You might also like: How To Become A Better Cook – Learn To Cook Better At Home To Save More Money!

Other Perks of Using Cozi Family Calendar

Shopping Lists – I have different shopping lists for all of our favorite stores and anybody can add to them at anytime. My daughter is a strawberry FIEND, and if we run out of strawberries, she can easily go in and add them to our HEB calendar.

Whoever finds themselves in an HEB for whatever reason will quickly pull up the shopping list and see what we might need.

You can also add to your shopping list via Alexa!!

Journal – We have not done much with this (but I am currently using the 1 second everyday app and that is super cool), but I want to get better about it. You can keep a journal/photo journal of your family in Cozi! It’s a great way to preserve those special memories and you can even share your journal with family and friends if you choose to! It’s a neat feature that our family definitely under utilizes.

 

Cozi Calendar vs Google Calendar

Why did we choose Cozi Calendar vs Google Calendar? Well, to be honest it has a lot to do with simplicity.

Google calendar is robust and there is a lot you can do with it. You can also subscribe to the Google Calendars for your school district, your PTA, your favorite baseball team, etc. Honestly, it ends up getting super cluttered and it is just a lot of noise.

My husband uses Google Calendar for work, and it is best if he keeps his Google Calendar dedicated to his work. The Cozi calendar interface is just so family friendly and easy enough that our kids can do absolutely everything on it without us even needing to show them.

It just works well for our family and is a one stop shop to help us keep our lives in order.

Is Cozi Gold Worth It?

For us, Cozi Gold is worth it. The additional reminders are lovely and that alone makes it worth it to me.

I enjoy that it is an ad free experience, I like the month view on the calendar and the ability to change the theme. The best part is that you just pay ONE Cozi Gold fee for your whole family.

You can grab a 14 day Cozi Gold trial for FREE to see if it suits the needs of your family.

Sign up for Cozi Calendar here. 

I have been wanting to write a post about Cozi Calendar for awhile. Whether you use the free version of Cozi or Cozi Gold, I think you will find that Cozi Calendar is the best calendar/meal planning/chore app out there to get your family all on the same page and to keep them there!

Do you have any more questions about Cozi Calendar? Do you have any tips/hacks that I don’t know about for Cozi Calendar! Comment below and let me know!

Sleep Away Camp Essentials & Camping Hacks for Boy Scout Camping, Summer Camp, Etc

My son went to Boy Scout camp for the FIRST time a few weeks ago! He has been a Cub Scout since he was just a tiny little Tiger (1st grade), but for the most part, all of our camping has been family camping.

This was his first week long camp without myself or my husband present.

(trying to save up money to send your little one to sleep away camp? Learn how to create some wiggle room in your budget!)

To say I was a bit of a basket case as we drove away from dropping him off would be an understatement. However, he survived (and actually, I would say he THRIVED!) and when he came home we went over what worked well and what didn’t.

I figured these camping tips/camping hacks would be helpful for any parent sending their kid off for camp, so I decided to share it here on my FFF.

What worked:

Pack it all in a trunk

This was a Boy Scout recommendation, but honestly from now on, anytime either of my kids go on any kind of extended stay, we’ll be packing everything in a trunk!

These trunks are super affordable and tough. They also roll! We purchased ours at Academy, but you can also get it shipped right to your door from Amazon.

Write up a packing list

Our Boy Scout troop provided us with a basic packing list. Most likely, whatever camp your kiddo is attending will provide you with a packing list as well. Print out that packing list and use it to pack (of course), but also add to it where necessary.

My son had a few different bags with him. A day pack (his day pack is very similar to this one), a pack to go to the shower, a bag for when he went swimming, etc. We put a detailed list of what was in each bag on the packing list. 

We also gave him a highlighter so he could use the packing list as a reference when it was time to come home. Unfortunately, his tent mate left their tent wide open during a particularly heavy down pour and the packing list was ruined. Thankfully, he returned with all of his property.

He did say the breakdown of what was in each bag was super helpful though when he couldn’t find something he needed.

Send letters/care packages with your kiddo

This was a big one for us! My son LOVED this. Myself, my husband and my daughter all wrote my son letters. We split the care packages into one per day and told him that he had to follow the rule of only opening one per day!

My letters were very “Jesus loves you, so be good!” haha. My husband’s letters were basically a funny story that built on each day (I was dying laughing as I was reading them!). And my daughter basically wrote him video game references that she knew would annoy him.

I snuck in some fun items too:

Day 1 (first full day) – A journal with a few pens/pencils in hopes he would journal his week (he started to do this, and was excited to do this, but the journal was a casualty of the open tent during the rain storm 🙁 )

Day 2 – A few word search/sudoku puzzle books from the dollar store

Day 3 – Some flavor blasted goldfish, his fave! (although he told me next time, don’t pack these…because bears, duh)

Day 4 – Candy (starburst!)

Day 5 – Cash (we sent him with cash for the week, but figured by Friday he probably would be all out, so we thought it would be a fun last day treat)

Day 6 – A promise of something fun at home.

Package outfits in individual ziploc bags

This might not work for older kids, or if you are packing cold weather clothing. My son was going to be wearing t-shirts and shorts all week though, so this made life SO much easier (and was a LIFESAVER when his tent got wet…none of his clean clothes were wet! Because they were in ziploc bags!)

I have used this method of packing on vacations too. It works beautifully!

Send clothespins to hang wet items

Okay, full disclosure…he said he didn’t use these. I can tell by smelling his towel/swimsuit that this is true. Yuck. That was the grossest laundry I have EVER done. Regardless, maybe your kid will use them. I know I’ll bring clothespins camping with us from now on!

Next time, I think I’ll purchase some of these to send with him. I suspect these would get more use!

Send empty plastic grocery sacks for various trash/clothing items that get especially gross

Yes. Yes. Yes. You will have DISGUSTING laundry to do when your kid gets home. There is nothing you can do to change this. It will happen. You will open up their trunk and you will wonder what died in there?

However, the plastic grocery sacks can make things better. He was smart and put his super wet stuff in these bags.

Label EVERYTHING

Get a black sharpie and go to town on everything. EVERYTHING. Chances are, every kid in your kid’s cabin/tent/troop/etc will have similar items. If you want them to come home with what you sent them with, LABEL EVERYTHING. This includes clothing!

His camp chair and his cot (this is the cot he has, it’s great!), his flashlights, his water bottles, everything!

Send water shoes/shower shoes

Foot fungus. Enough said.

A spritz/fan can help a lot!

This was my son’s contribution to this post. I asked him what the MOST important thing was that he packed for his trip. He said a spray bottle with a fan (with extra batteries). This was one of those, eh…whatever I’ll just throw it in the cart purchases, but he said it really made a difference.

Where he camped, they only had 90 minutes of air conditioning a day (I know this because anytime we complain about being hot since he has been home, he likes to remind us about how he went a week with only 90 minutes of air conditioning a day, LOL) . The rest of the time he was out in the hot July Texas sun. He said this made a HUGE difference for his comfort and his experience.

My son had a GREAT time at Boy Scout camp. The memories he made and the experiences he packed into that one week make me feel good about the investment of money, time and how desperately I missed him.

Would I send him again? In a heartbeat!

Are you an old pro at sending your kids off to camp? Any camping essentials tips for me? Comment below! 

Sharing is caring!

My Goals for 2019 – Business and Personal Goals

It has been awhile since I have shared a “goals” post here on FFF. In fact, I would say it’s been a long while since I have shared anything personal in nature here at all.

I never really considered myself a super private person until the past few years. The older I get, and the more I realize how many thing are out of my control, I have really realized that my privacy and the privacy of my family is one of those things I do have some measure of control of.

I do not apologize for this and will continue to have fairly strict boundaries regarding what I will share here on my blog.

This was never intended to be a “mommy blog” (I have nothing against mommy blogs though!) where I share about the day to day of my family’s life (however, if you want a bit more insight into our lives…I do share a bit more candidly over on Instagram!).

However, in some ways, I do feel like my lack of personality here on FFF has kind of stunted the growth in this community over the past few years. If you have only been following for a few years, you might think that this is just yet another deal site run by a mindless office full of employees.

No way!

I have had helpers over the years, and honestly this site would not be where it is today without their support and hard work.

Now though, it’s just me (well…and Lizzie for at least one post so far, haha!).

Therefore, one of my goals for 2019 was to share more about my life in the form of content posts! Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself here…let’s get to my goals:

Business Goals – 

(fyi, if you aren’t really interested in business goals…you can skip down a bit to personal goals!)

100 Evergreen Articles in 2019

Oh this one scares me y’all! I’m not sure how many evergreen articles (evergreen articles are articles that are not time sensitive. How to Use Coupons, How to Play the Drugstore Game, Keto Friendly Low Carb Mini Cheesecakes, etc) I put up in 2018…but I guarantee it wasn’t 100.

This goal is important to me because I sometimes post upwards of 50+ posts a day. I spend a LOT OF TIME on these posts. Hours a day.

Within 24 hours, 90% of those posts are dead.

Done.

No longer relevant.

Ugh.

Therefore, sometimes it just feels like I am spinning my wheels all day every day.

I need content that helps others all day every day.

I need to feel like I am making lasting change and leaving a footprint of service here on my little corner of the internet.

This means sharing a bit more about me and my life while still keeping up strict boundaries (like…you will never read a post here about my kids personal lives or my frustration with a friend/family member).

This *might* mean less deal content. It might not.

I know I am excited for it and also terrified that I have now put this out there!

Income goals

I am not going to share my exact dollar figure. Needless to say, it is more than I am making now, less than I have made in the past. My goal is just consistency at this point.

My business obviously has seasons.

As you know, (if you have read my How to Monetize a Blog post), I make money from passive traffic and when my readers make a purchase in some cases. It is not a lot per sale/pageview.

However, it can add up, and I honestly need it to do so more consistently 😉 .

Increase Pageviews and Email Subscribers – 

These two are kind of self explanatory and they are all intertwined with the two goals above. I have a few actionable ways I am planning to reach these goals:

  1. Promote my email list more. Did you know that I send a (um…sometimes) daily email with all of the deals of the day? I do! You can sign up here. (see…that wasn’t so hard, and yet I never really promote it!)
  2. Increasing Pageviews will involve generating more content AND being more strategic about where/when/how I share that content. I’m talking social media,  y’all! My thoughts on each platform are:

Instagram

Be more personal. More Instagram stories.

More sharing the day to day. More engaging with the frugal living community.

I feel like there are people there who I can help AND people who can help me!

Follow me on Instagram here.

Facebook Group – I love my Facebook group.

It is my most interactive form of social media for FFF and I think it is is working just fine as it is.

Deals will continue to be auto posted to my Facebook group via dlvr.it as long as that service continues to work out for me.

Facebook Page – Posting all deals to my Facebook page just isn’t working.

Facebook’s algorithm hates bloggers and honestly it hates anything that I post that doesn’t originate from someone else (ugh…viral posts only seem to be blessed upon the same 10 pages).

I will feed the Facebook page beast and share content that is relevant and performing well from others in hopes that I can funnel readers who WANT good deals/frugal advice to the Facebook group from time to time.

Pinterest – I will continue to use Tailwind for my Pinterest Content Strategy.

I will stress LESS about what images I put onto Pinterest.

I am noticing a trend on Pinterest of “normal” pictures having success.

This is encouraging. I am not a photographer and sometimes the fact that I KNOW my pictures won’t compete with the professionals posting on Pinterest has me holding back on creating content…no more!

Twitter – Twitter isn’t really a traffic driver for me and never has been.

I will continue to auto feed to twitter because that is the only place my husband reads my blog. Haha!

Work Outside the Home More –

You might be thinking…um why?!

You are so lucky to work from home!

Here’s the thing.

Without getting into too much personal detail, my home does not inspire creativity in me. Too many interruptions. Lack of control over my environment.

I am rarely ever home alone and honestly I am always on the edge of my seat waiting to be interrupted. Since I have ADHD, the smallest interruption can easily steer me off course.

(Fun fact, I literally just got interrupted while I was writing that sentence. Haha!)

My home is also a source of stress for me in many ways that I will not get into. Suffice to say, I think for 2019, I need to get OUT of the house to be more productive/creative. I have tried to work out of the house at least once a month for the past few years, but I need to do it more. I am actually thinking once or twice a week.

The key is, I am going to go into these work outside the home sessions with a clear plan of what I need to be working on. I have been known to get a study room at the library for 2 hours and then talk on the phone to my friend Katie for those 2 hours. Haha. I need to be intentional and focused during this time to make it most worth my while.

Personal Goals –

Lose Weight –

This has been my goal every single year for as long as I can remember. Basically, it just  needs to get done. I know how, I just need to set my mind to the task and not lose focus. Some ways I am going to focus on losing weight:

  1. Meal Planning
  2. Low Carb & Dirty/Lazy Keto
  3. Get active more often – at least 3 times a week (my competitive nature REALLY wants to say 5 times a week. That is what I always say though, and I burn out. Setting the bar a bit lower on this goal in hopes of meeting it).

Household – 

Clean & Organize one space a month – This one is kind of tough for me because I like to clean BY MYSELF with the music blaring and without interuption.

As posted above, I am rarely ever home alone and honestly I think that this keeps me from conquering big tasks because I know I’m just going to get side tracked. (you really can’t even understand how easily I get side tracked. This post is taking a LOT of mental focus to keep writing right now!)

My husband bought me some GREAT bluetooth headphones though that I think I’m going to make good use of this year. I could ignore a hurricane with those bad boys on!

Financial – 

I have a few things I want to really work on this  year in terms of finances. In addition to making more consistent money (like posted above), I also want to focus on saving more money by doing the following things:

  1. Start Christmas shopping early. I love having a gift closet, but I also want to be more intentional with my gift giving rather than just picking up random markdowns. It’s tough to Christmas shop early for kids because what they are into in February is likely NOT what they are into in December later that year. However, there are things I can do year round to take some of the burden off that big November/December Christmas shopping spending spree.
  2. Thrift Shops – I love going to thrift shops. I will proudly tell you the sweater I was wearing costs $.50 or the adorable dress my daughter has was a Goodwill find. I need to get more intentional about visiting the thrift shops on a regular basis!
  3. Shop my own sales – I am probably the only deal blogger on the planet that RARELY buys the great deals I post. It’s like I have tunnel vision. I am posting these deals for YOU and I don’t even consider buying them for myself. I will remember as I’m going to bed that night…oh, I should have taken advantage of that great deal! Only to look it up and it is already a dead deal 🙁 .

Motherhood & Marriage – 

I want to be more intentional about my time with my husband and my children. Spend more one on one time with all of them. Surprise them more often. I want to pray for all of them daily in a more intentional and focused way.

I want to ask them what they need from me and provide it. Don’t just assume that I am meeting their needs.

In the same vein, I want to tell them what I need from them as well. Don’t just assume they know.

I want us to go on a vacation together. We have not been on a vacation in several years. The last vacation we went on was with extended family. We need a vacation with just the 4 of us.

We need to go camping more.

Have more day trips.

My son is already 11. That might still seem very young, but let’s be honest.

We only have a few more years of being just a family of 4 living under the same roof.

We need to make the most of our time together and build memories that will last a lifetime.

I need to DATE my husband more. We have a wonderful relationship, but we rarely get the opportunity to just focus on each other. I’d love for us to find a hobby outside the home for us to engage in. Not sure what that will be (besides eating…we both enjoy that, haha!), but I’m excited to figure it out.

Read More Books

I want to read 50 books in 2019. Yikes! I think I can do it. I read mostly Kindle Unlimited and Kindle First Reads books because I am chea….frugal 😉

Wrapping up…

If you have followed along this far, bless you! I’d love to hear about your goals for 2019. Feel free to leave them in the comments. If there is a way I can help you reach your goals, please let me know!

How To Get Rid Of Lice (And How To Prevent Lice)

How to get rid of lice! 

Learn how to get rid of lice with this super easy at home diy treatment! This easy removal remedy for lice (doesn’t your head itch just reading that word?!) primarily includes products that you already have in your house! Plus, tips for lice prevention. 

I have never had lice in my whole life and assumed it was not something I would ever have to worry about with my own children.

I was wrong!

One summer, we had a brief encounter with some head lice. Ugh, it was not fun, but thankfully, we were able to get rid of it fairly quickly.

You might be worried this is going to be super expensive and if you are already on a budget, this might be adding to your stress. Don’t worry! This is a super low cost and EFFECTIVE way for treating and preventing lice. 

Here’s what we did: 

How to get rid of lice! 

  1. Coated hair with mayo (full fat!) and piled it all on her head. Covered with a shower cap for 8+ hours. (yes…gross, but I think this step was KEY!)
  2. Washed out mayo with blue dawn
  3. Followed up immediately with Fairy Tales Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit treatment. Nit combed (using the AWESOME comb in the kit) until I couldn’t get anything else out anymore (she has long/thick hair…it easily took over an hour!)
  4. Nit combed DAILY for the first week. I used this super cheap Suave conditioner to make it easier. I used gobs of it! It wasn’t really seeing anything, but I wanted to be safe!
  5. Repeated the Fairy Tales Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit treatment a week later (even though there were no lice left after the first treatment…I wanted to be sure we didn’t miss any eggs!).

In addition, we washed ALL beddings and linens on high heat and put all stuffed animals in garage jail for 2 weeks.

(Edited to add: We also blow dried her hair and straightened it with a flat iron every day for a week! They don’t like heat!)

You might also like: Where to Start? Learn How To Use Coupons

How To Prevent Lice

Recently, we received word that there is a lice breakout at the kids school. To make sure we don’t have to deal with this again, I’ve been using the Fairy Tales Repel Conditioning Spray that comes in this kit (plus pulling my daughter’s hair back and spraying copious amounts of hairspray in her hair) on both of my kids each morning.

I have heard that you can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to your child’s regular shampoo. This tea tree oil is perfect for this purpose. 

Remember, the myth that lice like dirty hair is SO completely wrong! They LOVE squeaky clean hair! So if there is a lice outbreak at your child’s school, make sure you pull their hair back and then at the VERY least, coat their hair with hair spray!

You might also like: Keeping Hair Tangle Free

Sharing is Caring…But Don’t Share Lice! 

Finally, be HONEST about it. There is such a stigma attached to head lice, but that’s actually probably why it spreads so easily.

Nobody wants to talk about it!

We were lucky that our incident occurred over the summer, so we were able to just stay home and away from others while we treated.

However, if your child needs to go to school, be sure to let the school nurse know so he/she can be vigilant and stop the outbreak from rounding back again at some point! (and follow your school/district’s policy regarding returning to school after lice treatment)

Enjoy!

Are you an avid Amazon shopper? I am thanks to Amazon Prime!

With Amazon Prime I get FREE 2 day shipping on most products. 

Right now you can get a FREE trial of Amazon Prime!

Find more hot deals here. Most are time sensitive, so don’t delay!

Halloween Candy Buyback 2016 – Earn Cash for Your Candy!

Have you heard of the Halloween Candy Buyback? Make your own Halloween a bit healthier by participating this year!

Planning on taking your kids Trick Or Treating this Halloween? Chances are, your kids will either hit pay dirt, or come away with a bag filled with smarties and dum dums. Either way, do they REALLY need all of that candy?

Probably not!

So after you squirrel all of the Reeses away…

You might (to the anger, dismay and disappointment of your children) decide to participate in the 2016 Halloween Candy Buyback!

Back in 2005, a dentist named Chris Kammer (a founding member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry), decided he wanted to get some of the candy “off the streets”. He offered to literally BUY candy from his patients for $1 a lb with the objective of sending it off to the troops!

I mean, he was really  just trying to make his job easier, right?!

The program was successful, so the next year, he recruited some colleagues and expanded the program.

Today, most towns have a nearby dentist (or other business) that participates in the Halloween Candy Buyback, and the program just keeps on growing!

More than 130 tons of candy has been collected, over the years, by collaborating with dental offices nationwide and working with Soldiers’ Angels.

Amazing!

How Does the Halloween Candy Buyback work?

  1. Head over here to find a participating Halloween Candy Buyback Event near you. (I found 2 within 5 miles!)
  2. Contact your preferred Buyback location and ask them for further details. Some will pay $1 a lb, some $2 a lb and some will give a goody bag.

This would be a great opportunity to teach your kids about moderation AND charitable giving.  Plus, you could let them use the money to buy themselves something fun that WON’T give them cavities. A win win for everyone!

(and seriously, set aside the Reeses first. If you don’t eat them, you can send them to me!)

Do you think you’ll participate in the Halloween Candy Buyback this year? 

 

Browse Hidden Categories on Netflix Using these “Secret” Netflix Codes!

Planning a Netflix binge this weekend?

What do you want to watch?

Action & Adventure (1365)?

Anime (7424)?

Deep Sea Horror Movies (45028)?

Faith & Spirituality Movies (52804)?

Those numbers up there? Those are the super secret Netflix codes that help you narrow down your Netflix watching to super specific categories that aren’t part of your default Netflix dashboard.

If you want to browse Netflix’s Secret Categories, you can click here to see a great list.

To utilize this list best, here’s what you do:

1. Click here to find the code for the catagory you want

2. Then paste the following url into your browser:  http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/

3. Add the category code to the end of the url and hit enter! (Ex: http://www.netflix.com/browse/genre/45028

There you go! Super specific Netflix suggestions based on exactly what you are in the mood for!

Sign up for Netflix here today! 

Source: Fox 17 Online

10 Random Things About ME

It’s been awhile since I have really shared much of myself and my life here on Family Friendly Frugality. I used to share a lot more, but life got busy and deals pop up daily. I’ve also never really been sure that anyone wants to hear about ME on this site. I mean, I’m great, but I’m not a 90% off deal with free shipping 😉 .

Earlier today though, I realized that I enjoy bloggers that share peeks into their lives…even if it doesn’t necessarily “fit” the specific purpose of why I follow them.

So here goes, in absolutely no particular order…a random smattering of facts about me 😉 .

My kids are 6 and 8 and I’ve been married for 9 1/2 years. – This is all info that can be found in my woefully outdated About Me (*cough* I am not 28 anymore *cough*). I figure most of you have never read that page though 😉

I live in Texas, but was born in Brooklyn NY and lived in northern NJ until I was 13. – I moved to Texas with my dad and stepmom. My stepmothers family was from  Texas and after my mom passed away, they didn’t feel there was much keeping us in NJ. Although I hate the events that transpired that brought me to Texas, it’s exactly where I want to be. I love Texas!

Last year, I was the room mom for my son’s class. His teacher helped them create this sweet SWEET word jumble for me. Made me cry!

 

Volunteerism is something that is near and dear to my heart, I volunteer a LOT – Oh em gee y’all…it’s a bit out of control around here at times.

I am Vice President of Communications for the PTA at my kids school. Secretary on the board for their swim team. I am room mom, team mom, I’ve been backstage mom. We don’t serve at our church as often as we should, but we are subs in the children’s ministry. I help my husband with fundraising for our Cub Scout pack.

I’d say I do some form of volunteer work every single day. I love it and thrive when I am giving of myself for others.

I have Hypothyroidism, PCOS and ADHD – Basically, I’m a mess. 😉

I am a Christian (and was raised in the Catholic denomination) – Now I HOPE this is obvious to everyone. I hope the fact that I love Jesus Christ and consider him my Lord and Savior is news to no one. I hope even if you haven’t ever heard me say it, that you knew it because of my actions.

While I no longer attend a Catholic church, it is the religion my mom wanted me to be raised in. Therefore I attended mass until I was in my very early 20’s. We found a Methodist church to attend while we were dating (my husband was raised Episcopalian) and have been there ever since.

Both my husband and I were baptized as babies, but when our children chose to be baptized last summer, we decided we wanted to have an adult baptism and also rededicate ourselves to the Lord as a family.

I have a pup named Cookie who is just about 2 1/2 years old. – She’s part Beagle and part Lab we believe. She LOOKS all Beagle though! We adopted her from the Houston SPCA when she was just a tiny pup. It’s a cute story of how we got her. Maybe I’ll share it one day.

I always assumed I would be a teacher when I grew up – I “played school” from a very very young age. Unfortunately, due to financial constraints and moving out on my own at the age of 17, I was never able to pursue my dream. I was a preschool/Mother’s Day Out teacher for several years and enjoyed it.  Honestly though, I love what I do  now. As a part of PTA, I get to support teachers and students. I think that things worked out perfectly.

I lost my mother to ovarian cancer when I was 12 and I lost my older sister to pneumonia exactly 5 months later – My mother went into the hospital for a blood clot. Came home for a short time and ended up right back in the hospital shortly afterwards with a diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer. She never came home again. There is a reason they call it the silent killer. This happened when I was in 7th grade. My mom died on July 4th 1995.

We moved to Texas in late October (I think we actually arrived in early November…we drove down from Jersey and I remember being on the road on Halloween) and several of us kids became very ill shortly after arriving. Unfortunately, my sister’s pneumonia was so bad she passed away as my dad and stepmom were taking her to the hospital 5 months to the day after my mother died ((she was 21)). My dad maintained that she actually died because of a broken heart. She just didn’t have the fight in her after my mom died.

Speaking of siblings, my blended family consists of 8 children – Yikes! It’s true! I have 3 older step siblings that belong to my stepmother. My older biological sister is the one that passed away. Then I have one younger step sister (my step mother’s daughter), one younger biological sister and one younger half sister (the daughter of my dad and stepmother…y’all know her! Amber! She is my right hand woman here on the site!).

I am smack dab in the middle. Because the age gap is so huge between all of us, we have never all lived under one roof at one time. The older 3 kind of grew up together and then the younger set grew up together.

I have multiple websites – I link to A Southern Mom often, but I’m not sure if many of you know I also write it. I have a few other completely dormant websites that aren’t worth linking to, but every once in awhile I’ll get the whim and throw a post up.

I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek into my life.

I’d love to learn more about my readers as well! Leave a little factoid about you in the comment section! 

Graduation Gifts – Five Easy and Inexpensive Graduation Gift Ideas

Are you looking for some easy and inexpensive graduation gifts?

Here’s a list of graduation gifts that won’t break your budget!

1. Get 60% off all canvases from CanvasPeople. You could get really creative with this if you want! Or just use a picture that is near and dear to your grad.

                                                                   Source: eighteen25.blogspot.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

 

2. Take the cash you have allotted for the graduation gift and turn it into a fun lei! This is SUCH a cute idea. There is also a candy lei there as well. Your Home Based Parties explains how to make this awesome graduation gift on her blog.

3. Katie posted about making these adorable DIY Coasters. If your grad is going off to college this year, what an awesome dorm gift…personalized coasters! You could put pics of their pets or special moments of their senior year on the coasters. Cute AND functional!

4. I wouldn’t be doing Family Friendly Frugality justice if I didn’t mention a freebie you can grab RIGHT HERE! Sign up by email and get access to my FREE How to Use Coupons Ebook! Print off a copy for your grad and maybe buy them a Binder and Baseball Card Sleeves and send them off to college knowing how to use coupons!

5. In an emergency…break the glass! Check out this adorable idea!

 

My 5 year old is graduating from preschool next week! Think it’s too early to gift him the gift of learning how to use coupons?

Not at all 😉

I hope you enjoy these graduation gift ideas and I hope they give you some inspiration!

 

How My Son Got Diagnosed with Appendicitis-Not the “Normal” Presentation of Symptoms

I first posted this one year ago. I’ve had 3 readers over the past year tell me that this post helped them get their child to the ER early enough so that their child’s appendix could be removed prior to it rupturing. I’m reposting it as a reminder that the signs we hear about aren’t necessarily the ONLY signs of appendicitis. 

Appendicitis-How it Started

My son is fairly predictable.

Well as predictable as a kid can actually be.

He has a certain pattern he follows when he gets sick. His tummy hurts, he gets a fever, he throws up a few times. Case closed.

One week ago from today, we had to leave a birthday party early because he claimed his stomach hurt.

We got home though and he was absolutely fine. It was strange, but he had eaten pizza for the 2nd day in a row, so I chalked it up to that.

Sunday he was fine. Monday he complained his stomach hurt before school, but he was also trying to get OUT of school at the time, so I sent him on his way and he did fine.

Tuesday he had a baseball game and he had no complaints. But that night when I checked on him sleeping before I went to bed, he felt really warm to me. I was pretty sure he was feverish, but when he woke up the next morning (Wednesday) fine, I doubted myself. He said his tummy hurt, but he was also smiling and bouncing around while he said it, so off to school he went (it’s important to note this was Halloween).

Appendicitis-Trick or Treat or BUST!

When he walked out of school I just KNEW my little boy had a fever. Glassy eyed, head bowed as he trudged his way out the door towards me. Got him home and took his temp and sure enough…low grade fever. Judge me if you will, but it was Halloween, so I gave him some tylenol and when his fever went away and he started chomping at the bit to go trick or treating…out the door we went.

He did great while trick or treating and promptly fell asleep when we got home. I had the motrin ready all night long though just in case he woke up feverish during the night.

The next morning (Thursday) he was bright eyed and bushy tailed and fever free. He was super excited to spend the day at home with me since he needed to be 24 hours fever free before returning to school. All day long, he played, had fun and stayed fever free.

I want to stress that never ONCE did he throw up, have loose stools or lose his appetite. He probably only complained about his stomach a total of 4-5 times throughout the week and 2 of those times seemed to be to get out of something he didn’t want to do.

That night, since he had gone all night and all day fever free, we loaded up and went to his last baseball practice. He was fine the first half. About halfway through we were doing a special “parents play the kids” game and his first at bat went great. He was happy he hit the ball and ran the bases happily.

His next at bat was NOT so great though. He was clutching his stomach and once he got on first base, he told his coach he didn’t feel well and wanted to go home.

Appendicitis-Mama’s Instinct

So we started for home, but at this point I just can’t shake this NAGGING feeling that something is very wrong. Nothing about this sporadic tummy pain made sense to me because it just wasn’t resolving. Tummy pain and fevers with no other symptoms? This isn’t how my son worked. He got sick, got REALLY sick, and got over it. This lingering illness was just strange.

It was around 6:30pm by this point and I knew his pediatrician was closed. I just knew I needed some confirmation THAT NIGHT that I wasn’t crazy or over reacting. I did not want to go to the ER because I actually felt a bit silly about the whole “feeling” thing, so I asked my husband to drive us over to a nearby Walgreens clinic.

My son was clutching his stomach as we walked in there and while we waited. Finally we went in and we told the doctor what was wrong. He told us he likely couldn’t help us with something stomach related with no other symptoms (which I expected), but he did lay him on the table and probe his belly.

WHOA.

Appendix.

This word never entered my mind in all the days prior. Why? Because his pain came and went. Because his appetite was fine and everything else was fine. Because when you hear about appendicitis you think pain that just gets worse and worse and worse until finally you either get to the hospital in time OR you don’t because your appendix bursts.

I want to make it clear that the Walgreens Clinic did NOT diagnose him (they didn’t even charge us or put us into the system), but they were the catalyst that sent us on our way to the ER.

Appendicitis-Headed to the ER

We debated going to our city children’s hospital or to our local hospital (where I actually delivered both children). The local hospital was 10 minutes away and the children’s hospital was 30.

I’m SO glad we chose to go to our local hospital. 

Because they are not a children only hospital…children are treated VERY special there! My son was whisked into triage immediately. (the magic words were “5 years old” and “stomach” I believe 😉 ) They actually already had all of mine and Noah’s info in the system from when I gave birth to him there (just a couple slight changes to the info!)

We went to the children’s waiting area and had barely sat down when they called us back.

First we had an examination. The doctor pushed on his tummy while talking to him about school, video games, etc. She could tell by his winces and cries where the pain was. This gave her enough suspicion to order an x-ray.

He was feverish so they gave him some motrin.

The x-ray showed a LOT of stool. Now, my son is 5 which means I don’t monitor his every (um…any) bowel movements. But I had been worried he could be constipated so throughout the week I had taken note of when he went #2. I knew he had gone daily. However, he did have a back up of stool which is one symptom (and possible cause) of appendicitis.

I think a lot of dr’s would have sent him home and said he was constipated. I could tell that’s what our doctor thought. However, the fever was baffling her. Constipation would not cause the fever he was having.

Appendicitis-Thankful for a Thorough Doctor

At this point, the dr ordered bloodwork, urinalysis, an IV and a CT scan.

He fell asleep for a bit at this point and was SO hot and feverish. It was pretty scary. The motrin thankfully kicked in and he was able to get a bit of rest.

First we did the IV and the bloodwork. That was HORRIBLE. I was laying on his lower half, my husband was holding his upper half and TWO nurses were holding his arm down as he screamed “You’re killing me!”  Once it was finally in, he was STEAMING mad and terrified anytime anyone came near him (except myself or my husband). He finally chilled out and sat and watched TV while we drank the special drink and waited for the CT.

The CT was no big deal for him. He actually thought it was kind of fun.

Next came the waiting. Test results trickled back.

Urine= fine

Bloodwork=fine…White blood cells were NOT elevated

CT took awhile and he ended up falling asleep while we waited. Dr checked in on us a few times, but seemed encouraged by the results so far. Just when we started thinking we might be going home, she came in with the news.

Appendicitis

She was VERY surprised. She said that appendicitis doesn’t generally present this way. Usually once it starts hurting, it does not stop. However, it was most DEFINITELY appendicitis.

The CT scan showed an inflamed appendix and we needed to stay overnight and talk to the surgeon in the morning.

Appendicitis-Admitted to the Hospital

That night will go down as one of the worst night’s in our family’s history. Our son had to stay overnight in the hospital, and when my husband went home to get supplies…he got locked out of the house! Needless to say, we don’t have a back up key besides the keys on our keychains (which were BOTH in the house) but we’ll be getting one soon 😉 .

The next morning (Friday) the PA for the surgeon came in and said that he would be getting surgery that day. He did pretty well all morning (except for a lot of loose stool) and at around 12:30, we took him down to pre-op.

Appendicitis-Time for Surgery

We sat and blew bubbles for him that the nurse gave us. Every member of the surgical team came and asked Noah questions about school and things he likes and just got to know him. They all seemed to love him. They gave him some muscle relaxers before we had to leave and he got rather silly just before we left.

The surgery team had made me feel so good that I honestly wasn’t really worried while he was in surgery.

The surgeon came out about 40 minutes later and handed us the pictures of the laparoscopic surgery and showed us what Noah’s appendix had looked like. They generally can’t tell if the appendix has perforated or not until they get in there, and we were SO thankful that Noah’s had NOT. He had acute appendicitis and we caught it before it really caused real problems. You could tell it was getting there, but it’s gone now!

He told us we could see Noah in 5-10 minutes so we could be there to wake up when he woke up in recovery. This was the most nervewracking part because 20 minutes went by without a peep. I finally got a hospital employee to go back and see what was going on and she was able to get us back there.

Appendicitis-Waking from Sedation

He was having a VERY hard time waking.

THIS was the hardest part of the WHOLE thing. I’ve never felt so helpless as when my little boy was coming out of sedation. He heard my voice and immediately begged me to hold him. There were wires everywhere and I just couldn’t. He couldn’t open his eyes and this was so upsetting to him.

He said his belly button was hurting (they went in through his belly button) and we realized he had actual pain so they gave him some meds. He finally went back to sleep and this was the first time I had a very good cry.

The surgical team let him take his Cuddly Puppy back to surgery and dressed him up 🙂

Thankfully we had a student nurse with us that day and she started talking to me and distracted me from my sadness. (that girl will make a GREAT nurse!)

Appendicitis-Recovery Begins

Finally we were able to go back to his room and the rest of the day he spent just kind of waking up. He started off with popsicles and actually ate a few slices of pizza that night. We also got up and walked down to the playroom in the children’s wing. Just hours after having an organ taken out! Modern medicine amazes me.

I stayed overnight with him both times and my husband took my daughter home. We went to bed at about 8:30 and he only got up once to go to the restroom.

This morning (Saturday), we got up and he has pretty much been eating and drinking since he opened his eyes. He had the last of his antibiotics and pain meds and we were on our way home by 1pm!

Here’s the kicker, he can go back to school on MONDAY. He has some restrictions. No PE for 2 weeks. No contact sports for 6 weeks. He can’t lift anything over 10 lbs (including his backpack) and he really can’t do anything that might make him fall (chase his friends, play on the playground, run in general, etc) for the next couple of weeks either.

He had an organ removed on Friday and he’s back to school on Monday. Unreal.

My little boy is doing great. He’s a bit slower and he does have some referred pain from the air they pumped into his belly for the surgery (they told us this would happen). But he’s in great spirits and doing just fine.

Appendicitis-Not Necessarily How It Looks on TV

All this (all 2013 words thus far?) to say…appendicitis doesn’t necessarily look how TV and movies says it looks. It isn’t necessarily going to be plainly obvious. It isn’t necessarily going to fit the symptoms you see on Web MD.

My advice to you is just to KNOW your child. Follow your hunches. If things aren’t fitting their normal “stomach virus” pattern…it won’t hurt to get them checked out. If that Walgreens doctor hadn’t pushed on my son’s belly…I cringe to think how long we would have gone without taking him in to be checked.

I have talked to 3 other moms in the past two days who did not have any conclusive proof of appendicitis until they had a CT done. Obviously you don’t want to do a CT unless you have to, but if something doesn’t seem right…insist the doctor order a CT.

The bloodwork, urinalysis, symptoms, duration and consistency of symptoms and the x-ray said NO. 

The CT said YES. 

I hope this helps someone. I feel so incredibly blessed that we were able to catch his illness when we did. I feel so incredibly thankful to God that we basically had the BEST case scenario. I know that this whole situation could have been so much worse  and I’m so thankful that I trusted my instinct that something just wasn’t right.

Trust your instincts parents. They are God given to us for a reason!