A couple of weekends ago, I had the great opportunity to attend a conference focused solely on single moms. One of our speakers really gave great advice on how to save money, especially in the expensive world of grocery shopping.
She is based in Oklahoma and her name is Sarah Roe, aka the “Money Saving Queen.” And she deserves every bit of that royal title.
She is an expert on all things coupons, deals, freebies and how to get groceries at a fraction of their listed price. Have you heard those stories about moms going to the grocery store and buying $400 worth of food for $30? Those stories are true, and Sarah tells you how to do it.
There’s a definite method to the madness of couponing, price matching, store deals and much more. Here are just a few of the many tips she shared with the conference attendees:
1. Clip coupons - manufacturer’s coupons, store coupons, and get coupons off the Internet. Find coupons in Sunday’s Oklahoman, manufacturer’s websites, store websites and even eBay. You can use manufacturer’s coupons in conjunction with store coupons for extra savings.
2. Keep track of prices. Take the 20 most expensive items you use regularly in your household. Go to the one store you shop at most often and track their prices for 6-8 weeks. You’ll notice a “sale cycle” when prices are at their highest and lowest and you’ll know when to stock up. Use your coupons on the rock bottom price. Stock up while you can, or wait until you can get it at that lowest price.
3. Shop around. Start planning your menus at home based on sale cycles and when stores are having the best weekly deals.
4. Know store policies. Many big drug store chains offer rewards for simply shopping there. Same is true for grocery store chains. Find out what they can offer you. It may not be something they advertise, but chances are there’s something.
I get a “Daily Deals” e-mail from the Money Saving Queen. And they really are filled with terrific discounts, free items and store sales. She even has links to coupons you can print off and store circulars for your area. I highly recommend signing up for these free e-mails and also joining the website forums. It’s all free and well worth it.
Go to www.moneysavingqueen.com and learn all you can on how to save the most you can at your next grocery store trip. I know I will!
Here’s another chance for families to get out of town for a day or two and enjoy some of Oklahoma’s natural beauty …
I think this might be something I’d consider taking my son to this summer. Any chance to expose kids to nature is a chance every parent should take. If you go, tell me all about it here or by e-mail.
Bass Pro Shops in Bricktown is offering all kinds of free workshops, crafts, photo opportunities and even s’mores made over a campfire this summer.
From noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, through July 11, children and adults alike can attend seminars on archery, bird watching, plants & insects, camping basics, animal identification, hiking basics, pet safety, fishing basics and shooting basics. And for every workshop you attend, you earn a pin.
There are also craft sessions for children on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 2 p.m. They include:
Paint a Wiggle Fish: June 22 and 24
Make a Camping Photo Frame: June 26-27, 29 and July 1
Paint an Animal Track: July 3-4, 6 and 8
Design Your Own Birdhouse: July 10-11
On Saturdays and Sundays, get a free photo of yourself or your kids on the cover of Field & Stream magazine.
And make some free s’mores over a campfire from 5 to 6 p.m. Yum.
Other free activities include the shooting gallery, shooting range and casting pond.
On June 26-27, the NASCAR Sprint Cup race car also will be pulling into the Bricktown Bass Pro so bring the kids out for an up-close look at a real race car.
And while you’re there, pick up a free copy of the Summer Fun 2010 guide to get tons of ideas, tips and product checklists to make the most fun out of your summer.
To find out more, check out our outdoor blogger’s post:
Sounds like a fun time!
I feel like I dropped the ball this morning.
I knew things wouldn’t go smoothly, but I was trusting.
Lesson learned. Don’t assume.
Today was to be my 5-year-old son’s first day to ride a school bus to school.
He is attending an extended school year program during the summer to give him an extra boost. Children with varying circumstances participate in this program. My son qualifies to attend because he has Down Syndrome.
Leading up to this day, I had been hesitant, but teachers and school administrators had said he would love riding a school bus. It would help us out, too, since the school system would provide transportation to and from the daycare he attends, something the schools won’t do during the regular school year due to school boundaries.
A few days ago, the bus driver called our house and talked to my husband, letting him know what time the bus would pick our son up. … It didn’t occur to my husband that they wouldn’t know where to pick him up.
So, this afternoon when my husband called and said, “Guess who showed up at the house,” I immediately answered, “The bus.” He was befuddled that I would know.
But I did, because I knew something would go wrong. It was one of those gut feelings you have, but I had talked myself into thinking I was just stressing and worrying too much.
Then my son’s daycare teacher called, telling me the bus hadn’t shown up and that she had already called the bus barn.
That’s when I felt like I had ”dropped the ball.” I should have known I needed to take more steps to make sure everything was right.
But, then his daycare teacher said one more thing: “What’s important is that we know where he is and that he is safe.”
I agreed, “That’s No. 1.”
So, despite my beating myself up about what I should have done, and despite the mixup on where the bus arrived, and despite the unsuccessful communication … He was safe.
Here’s a roundup of some interesting stories that recently have appeared in The Oklahoman and on NewsOK.com:
The Edmond Children’s Safety Village is hosting a three-day challenge next week for kids. Click here.
The Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Edmond has a really cool summer sports camp for kids. Click here.
The Missoula Children’s Theatre is coming to town to audition children for roles in “The Wizard of Oz.” Click here.
First-graders from Central Elementary School in Guthrie share their own recipes. Click here.
Our outdoor blog writer has written about the youngest person to climb Mt. Everest and why that record may stand indefinitely. Click here. He has also written about how young people are seeking adventures, but sometimes at a big cost. Click here.
Oklahoma City University to host a youth basketball camp, to teach life skills on and off the court. Click here.
Oklahoma’s oldest practicing pediatric dentist retires. Click here.
A photographer is combing the state, looking for children to photograph for a new coffee table book. Click here.
Most U.S. airlines have the following age-based unaccompanied minor qualifications (but call your airline to get all the information):
Age 5 and younger: Cannot travel alone.
Age 5 to 7: Can travel alone on nonstop and through flights.
Age 8 to 11: Can usually travel alone on any flight.
Age 12 to 17: For domestic flights, can travel alone on any flight without restrictions. For international flights, can travel alone on any flight but many carriers require unaccompanied minor procedures.
For ages 5 to 11, unaccompanied minor procedures are required on all flights.
Booking a flight
When booking flights for children, always try to book a nonstop flight, or if no nonstop flight exists, then try for a direct or “through” flight, where children won’t have to change planes.
If the flight has meal service, ask about reserving a child’s meal if available, because these have to be arranged in advance.
Ask the airline about “electronic ticketing” where no paper ticket is issued (and therefore, no ticket is lost).
Check all itinerary and ticket information to make sure names, destinations and other information are correct.
Ask the airline about getting a gate pass so that you may accompany your children through security to the departure gate.
Preparing for the flight
If your child hasn’t flown, visit the airport before the trip to have them be familiar with their surroundings. Be sure they know where assistance can be found.
Have your child dress in comfortable clothes. Put their first initial and last name on any article of clothing, like a jacket, that may be taken off during the flight.
Get to the airport at least one to two hours before departure for a domestic flight and two or more hours for an international flight. Don’t plan to just drop your child off at the entrance or ticket counter.
Bring to the airport the address and phone number of the person meeting your child. The airline will request this information.
Have your child use the bathroom in the gate area before boarding.
Stay in the gate area until the flight has taken off.
What to pack
Consider having your child bring a small carry-on bag. It could include books, small toys, games, crayons, and even a surprise or two. Also include a light snack and any essentials your child may need for the next 24 hours, in case of delays. Be sure to pack a copy of the child’s complete itinerary, including the names and cell phone numbers of the person meeting them. Make sure your child knows this is in their carry-on bag.
Things to tell your child
The most important to tell them is NOT to leave the airport unaccompanied or with a stranger.
Tell them if the flight will have a stop or connection.
Let them know there will be pressure changes in take-off and landing, that can bother their ears. Tell them they can yawn or chew gum or swallow a few times to help with this.
If it’s their first flight, explain the different sounds they’ll hear and that there may be some patches of bumpy air that pose no threat to the aircraft.
Advise your child to keep their seat belt fastened at all times.
To see all of their tips and procedures, go to http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/pubs.htm and click on “When Kids Fly Alone” under “Other Publications.”
Discovery Cove Nature Center at Lake Thunderbird State Park has many activities for children planned this month. I took my 4-year-old son to the nature center for a class on Memorial Day and he loved it. There’s plenty to see and do there, and even some trails if you want to take a stroll. The lake is right past the nature center so go have a cookout at the campground while you’re there.
All activites are FREE unless otherwise noted.
10 a.m. – Tree Walk. Learn what kinds of trees grow around the Nature Center. Ages 4 and older.
11 a.m. – Trees Through the Year. Learn about seasonal changes in the lives of trees. Ages 4 and older.
1 p.m. – Paint a Rock. Kids make their very own pet rock. This activity is 50 cents. Ages 4 and older.
10 a.m. – What’s a Solstice, Anyway? Learn about the solstice and how some celebrate it. Ages 5 and older. This program is also on June 21 at 1:00 p.m.
11 a.m. – Aliens Among Us. Check out small animals and plants under a microscope. Ages 6 and older.
7:30 p.m. – Summer Solstice Celebration at the Park. Hear about solstice observances around the world, past and present. Watch the sun to set over the lake on the (almost) longest day of the year.
2 p.m. – Oklahoma Insects. Learn about insects and see many of the kinds found in Oklahoma. Ages 4 and older.
3:30 p.m. – How Many Legs? Get to Know Arthropods. Learn about the other “bugs” besides insects. Ages 4 and older.
Discovery Cove Nature Center is located off State Highway 9, almost a mile down Clear Bay Ave. For more information, call 321-4633 or e-mail email@example.com.
For more information about happenings at Lake Thunderbird, go to http://friendsoflakethunderbird.org/.
If so, you’ll want to stop using it immediately and go to www.mcdonalds.com/glasses to get refund information. About 12 million of these collectible glasses have been sold since May for about $2 each.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has announced a recall of these “Shrek Forever After 3D” glasses after cadmium was found in the designs printed on them.
For the full recall report, click here.
For all workshops, pre-register by calling 425-4412.
Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are for parents and caregivers of young children.
Here’s what’s in store for this summer:
Terrific Two’s: Learn about your 2-year-old. Focus is on their developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 1, Choctaw Library
June 16, Midwest City Library
June 22, Southern Oaks Library
June 19, The Village Library
Sibling Struggles: Learn methods to prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling and how to deal with sibling squabbles. Find out about sibling rivalry and what normal behavior is. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 2, Midwest City
June 30, The Village
Just for Fun: Games People Play(for children ages 8-12): Includes active games, quiet games and brain teasers. Kids will play games from the past and games from other cultures. Both are 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
June 14, Southern Oaks
June 21, The Village
Toileting Triumph: Toileting doesn’t have to be a major challenge. Focus is on signs of readiness, why it can be frustrating and much more. All are from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 16, Edmond Library
June 29, Warr Acres Library
July 20, Ralph Ellison Library
Making Your Morning Manageable: Time to eliminate chaos and come up with a routine. Focus is what parents can do to make this part of the day more calm and enjoyable.
June 25, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
Lullaby & Goodnight: Find a routine that includes reading to your child, to ease bedtime and naptime challenges. Sleep challenges will also be discussed. Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 30, Edmond
August 17, Ralph Ellison
Look Out, I’m Three!: Learn more about your 3-year-old. Focus is on developmental milestones. All are from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 7, Southern Oaks
July 8, Midwest City
July 13, The Village
July 20, Choctaw
Toddlers at the Table: Turn common concerns about toddler’s eating habits into opportunities to teach healthy habits. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 12, Midwest City
July 21, The Village
Those Playful Preschoolers:Focus is behavioral characteristics and developmental milestones of 3- and 4-year-olds. Activity ideas will be shared to keep little ones busy. Learn it’s OK for your preschooler to be “out of bounds.” Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
July 27, Warr Acres
Aug. 25, Edmond
Baby Basics: Main focus is typical concerns of parents. Colic/crying, separation anxiety, sleeping through the night and other issues will be discussed.
July 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Reading Readiness: Workshop will explore the necessary reading readiness building blocks and parents’ roles in helping children become readers. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 9, The Village
Fun to be Four: Learn about your fascinating 4-year-old. Workshop focuses on developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3, Southern Oaks
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 10, The Village
Aug. 12, Choctaw
School Readiness: Facilitators will talk about support, encouragement and opportunity all children need for school success.
Aug. 10, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Warr Acres
Tripping Through Toddlerhood: Topics include, tantrums, biting, sharing and other common toddler challenges. Parents will learn how to minimize frustrations.
Aug. 11, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Teaching Children to be More Cooperative: Focus is on when to discipline or ignore unwanted behaviors. Learn guidance techniques used by experts.
Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
To see the Oklahoma City-County Health Departments newsletters, including schedules for upcoming play groups, workshops, and health and child guidance screenings, click here .