Water Bottle

 It is important for us to drink a lot of water.  Throughout the day I try to drink as much as possible but I can never keep track of how much I’ve had.  I found these great water bottles at a dollar store.  They hold 70 ounces which is a little more than we need each day.  Now, I fill it up in the morning and drink out of it throughout the day.  I know I need to drink the entire amount and I don’t have to think about it.  They’re also easy to grab and go.  I take them with me in the car and to work or where ever I go.

Car Bingo

We just got back from our family vacation.  We had a six hour car drive each way and I knew the kids would spend most of that time watching dvd’s.  I decided to make car bingo for them to play just in case they got board with the movies.  I was pleasantly surprised that the kids loved playing it.  I played with my seven year old daughter while my 4 year old son helped us look for the items.  It was fun and got them looking out the window at the scenery.  I was so glad they got to see some of our drive instead of staring at the tv screen the whole time.  I laminated the cards and we used dry erase markers to mark the squares as we saw the items.  Here are the cards we used:

Car Bingo

Multi Purpose Bags

I bought several of these reusable grocery bags at ALDI’s last year.  I have used them for just about everything!  They are great because they are much larger than the bags from other stores, they are super durable, they can hold a ton of things, they can hold a lot of weight, and they cost less than $2! 

In the photo above you can see we used them for beach bags on our vacation last summer.  They worked great because they held everything and it didn’t matter if they got yucky in the sand because they were so inexpensive.  We actually used them to pack for vacation.  I know it looked like hillbilly luggage but it was so convenient.  We had one bag for beach stuff, one for food, one for each person, etc.  It kept everything nice and organized.

I also use them when I am cleaning my house. I will carry one into different rooms to put all the kids toys in that I find throughout the house.  Then I can take the bag downstairs to their toy area and put them all away at once.

We celebrate Christmas with three sets of parents in their homes.  I keep a bag for each home we are going to.  After wrapping a gift, I will place it in the bag whose home it goes to.  Then, when it’s time to leave on Christmas Eve or Day, I can grab the correct bag and everything is there and easy to carry.  They also work great to put the gifts you received in to bring them home.

Play Mats

 

 

I found these cute little ocean and space figurines at the craft store Michaels.  They had many different themes such as birds and horses, but I thought my boys would like these the best.  I made the play mat they are on by searching for themed wallpaper on the internet and then printing them off.  I found a scene for each side, put them back to back to make them two sided, and laminated them.  My boys got them for Easter and loved them.  They are nice because they don’t take up a lot of space and you can take them with you when you go out to eat etc.  I’ve seen a lot of cute figurines like packs of plastic bugs and green army guys at the dollar store that would be fun too.  They make fun and inexpensive gifts for children.

Wii Mats

My kids got a wii for Christmas.  They love it and it gets them moving.  As they play, they start moving closer and closer to the tv.  I was afraid they were going to put the remote right through the screen.  So, I put down these carpet squares and told them to stay on their mats.  Hopefully it will keep our kids and our tv from getting hurt!

Growth Chart

I saw a growth chart recently online that I loved.  I have been meaning to make one for my kids for a few years but never knew how I wanted to do it.  This was the perfect solution.  Amy at www.amyscreativevinyl.com made the vinyl for the growth chart like the one I saw online.  I LOVE IT!!!  I got an 8″x8′ board at Lowes and had them cut it to 7′.  I just found out that Lowes will cut your boards for you!  Then I painted it an off white color, sanded the edges lightly, applied a thin coat of stain, and applied the vinyl.  When I grew up, we marked our heights on the back of a door.  When we moved we had to leave it behind.  Having the growth chart on the board is great because it looks cute enough to leave out as a decoration, or if you want to put it out of sight it will easily fit into a closet, and it can go with you if you move!

Popcorn

I recently discovered you can pop popcorn kernels in the microwave.  Pour about 1/4 cup kernels in a brown lunch sack, fold over once, and tape shut.  Microwave it for about two minutes or until finished popping.  I love doing this for a few reasons.  First, the kernels are much cheaper than buying microwave popcorn.  Second, you don’t have to add any oil or fat to the popcorn.  Third, it’s much healthier than the microwave kind because you don’t have all the additives and extras they add to the microwave popcorn.  Fourth, you can top it with whatever you want.  You can use real melted butter, salt, garlic, etc.  Fifth, it tastes yummy!

Multi Purpose Toys

These are the best children’s toys ever!  I bought them on sale several years ago.  While bathing my daughter one day I became very frustrated with all the bath toys she was playing with.  They all had small holes that trapped water inside and every time she squeezed them, black gunk squirted out!  I got the set of beach toys out and they have remained in our bathtub ever since.  There are buckets, shovels, cars, and boats etc. included in the set.  They love them.  Last winter I had another bright idea.  My kids wanted to play out in the snow but I didn’t want to join them in the cold.  So, I grabbed the beach/bath toys and set them out on the deck in the snow.  They loved scooping up snow and molding it into shapes.  I laid a towel down for them to sit on so they stayed dry.  We have also taken these toys to the beach and they loved them there too.  We’ve had them five years and all three kids play with them daily.  I’ve also put them through the washer and the dishwasher several times to clean them with no problems.  So, the next time you need children’s toys that are inexpensive, hold up great, and are multipurpose- go buy a sturdy set of beach toys.

Racetrack

We have two sons who spend the majority of their days rolling, ramping, and racing their many cars all over the house.  We found the perfect racetrack for them.  It is a piece of vinyl soffit found at any home improvement store in the siding section for about $12.  It has three lanes and bends slightly to give the perfect incline.  It’s 12″ wide and 12′ long and can be placed anywhere.  My boys have had it on our outside front steps, our stairs inside, and leaned up against our couch.  They have had so much fun sending their cars down the track and watching them race down.  The best part is that it is thin so can be stored anywhere, it’s very inexpensive, and it keeps the boys busy for hours!