Saturday, August 30, 2008

Chick-fil-A: Free chicken on Labor Day!

On September 1, 2008, wear your favorite team logo and receive free chicken strips at Chick-fil-A! The chicken strips are their new 3-count box. I really do like the Chick-fil-A chicken strips (healthier kinds of chicken then other fast food) so I think this is a trip we will be making! Valid 10:30 AM to close. One box per football-attire-wearing-person.

Friday, August 29, 2008

2 days only $10 off at Walgreens

Good only Friday (August 29) and Saturday (August 30). Spend $40 and get $10 off. Click here for the Walgreens coupon. Now there are a lot of scenarios out there where you can buy certain products and end up making money, but I don't always have the time to get into the whole rebate and reward thing. Yes, I believe it can work, but it does take a little detective work. All I know is that their 12 pack Pepsi products are 5/$11 ($2.20 each!) and my husband loves his Diet Mountain Dew. I know I need more vitamins and I always get the Walgreens brand anyway. There are some other great buys...grab the ad when you walk in. I'll be making a trip this weekend.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dave Ramsey Labor Day Sale: Everything $10.00!

Through September 2, 2008, you can get all of Dave Ramsey's books, audios, and resources for only $10 each--as many copies of each as you'd like! Plus, orders over $65 will get free shipping!
I finished reading The Total Money Makeover and got a lot of good ideas. Dave Ramsey's website is also full of free useful tips!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Interesting Job

After Max was born in the summer of 2007, I took a year leave from teaching for the West Des Moines Schools. It was perfect timing with Megan beginning half-day kindergarten, Lucy starting preschool and Max being a newborn-There was a lot going on and I didn't want to miss out on a bit!

Being on leave from teaching did not mean I was home baking cookies everyday or having a made from scratch meal waiting on the table for my husbands 5:30 pm arrival. Those of you that are home with your kids now, know this is not a likely scenario for many of us. I wanted to enjoy my time with my kids as I knew this would be the last year that they were all three home with me.

On the other hand, I love teaching! It is a big part of who I am. Yes, I used my teaching skills and knowledge with my own children, but I like new challenges, experiences and learning new things. I was thrilled when I heard about something new the West Des Moines School District was offering; a writing enrichment class for West Des Moines home schooled students. I will be will be writing a bit more about this opportunity, things I have taught and learned!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Best Series Books for Kids

We love series books at our house! By reading several books about the same characters, we really feel like we get to know the characters, the kids develop a deeper understanding and create a longer memory of the books.

Here are some of our favorites:

The Rainbow Fairies
These are the perfect solution for the 4-8 aged girl who is ready for more grown-up looking chapter books, but doesn't have the reading skills to master reading independently yet. Each book has a similar flow to it, so after hearing a couple of books my five year old was able to fly through them on her own.

Magic Tree house
These are very popular and I love how they teach about historical events. Hearing my four year old discuss the Revolutionary War and Ancient Greece always made for some interesting discussions. One of the best things to do while reading this series is visit this Magic Treehouse Site where your child can answer a few comprehension questions about the books, print out a "passport" sticker of the book. We collected all of the passports from each book and kept them in a binder. They loved it and were very motivated to fill up their passports.

Little House on the Prairie
There are a couple of different book options with these. There are the big chapter books that I remember reading as a girl and now they have easier to read chapter books that are perfect for 5-8 year olds. They have illustrations and are just the right length and wording to hold interest for this age. My daughters have been playing "Mary" and "Laura" and pioneers for quite some time now. These books prompted a trip to Living History Farms where it was easily one of the best family memories of the year.

American Girl
I have posted about the American Girl books before. They are good quality literature and I love the viewpoint of all these females overcoming obstacles and being positive (but not always perfect...this makes for more interesting reading)!

The Boxcar Children
This endearing story that I remember as a girl is still around today! The Boxcar Children is about four siblings who find an old boxcar and make it into a home. Yes it true, none of the rest of the series anywhere matches the ingenuity of the first book, but they are still fun to read.

My kids get so involved when we are reading a series that the characters and story lines spill over into their play. We've had a boxcar become recreated in our basement, Laura and Mary from The Little House on the Prairie books appear at breakfast in pioneer clothes, Jack and Annie from The Magic Treehouse books have encountered dinosaurs, traveled to the moon and survived a stay in a dungeon, all without leaving our house!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sephora and ULTA: Free 10 day supply of bareMinerals makeup

I just heard about this great deal and wanted to pass it along. I love their mineral powder! I will probably stop by both places. Is that wrong?!

Through August 30, 2008, stop by any local ULTA or Sephora store and receive a complimentary 10-Day sample of SPF 15 Foundation (.01 oz.) and a Mini Kabuki Brush. No purchase necessary. Click here find out more.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Uncharted Territory

My oldest daughter started first grade this week. Not only was it monumental for her, but also for me. Not that I would ever want to take away from her shining moment of being in school all day, but this was my moment of reflection and in a way...letting go. For six years I have been there for pretty much every need and momentous occasion. Yes, I worked part time and had my own interests and goings on, but I was with her the majority of the time. I was the sole person responding to her day to day needs, was there for each new interest, discovery, and accomplishment. Now the majority of her day will be spent under other people's guidance and influence. This is how it will be from here on out. She will not only be learning from other teachers, but also her peers. A whole new world has opened up for her. She is ready.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Welcome Home Shawn!

Shawn Johnson, Olympic Gold Medalist, is returning to Iowa! There will be a celebration at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on August 26 at 6:00!

Do you have your tickets to see Shawn perform here in Des Moines on November 14th yet? We do! The Gymnastic Superstars Tour is coming to Des Moines and will feature Shawn, Nastia Liukin, Paul Hamm, Chellsie Memmell, Shannon Miller and more. Click here for ticket info. We can't wait!


I love it when moms think up their own ideas of making some extra money for their family and go with it! This week I got an e-mail from a former teacher, currently SAHM, who is starting a drop in day care business. On Tuesdays and Thursday mornings, Jen Flug is opening up her house for parents to drop their kids off for a few hours. Drop in is a great idea for when you rather not take along your little ones for a certain shopping trip, haircut, or doctor appointment, but you don't need regular day care. I know there were more then a few times this summer that I could have used a service like this.

Another idea is if you are already home with your young children and have a special talent (art, dance, sign language, music, Spanish, etc...), I think this would be an awesome and fun way to make a little extra money!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Being Green...and a bit frugal!

I am just about done with commercial cleaners. Time and time again, I have heard how they are full of ammonia and bleach which are toxic for people (especially young children) and the environment. It is different how I used to associate the smell of bleach with cleanliness, but now the smell turns my stomach. I am slowly using up my old cleaners and replacing them with homemade recipes that actually work better and are a lot cheaper.

I couldn't believe that these home remedies could work better then their store bought counter parts! Here is what I have tried and I am sticking to it!

Multipurpose Cleaner:
1/2 c. vinegar
1/3 c. rubbing alcohol (use mint or citrus fragrance found at dollar store)

Sprinkle Borax (I had a huge box leftover when I made flubber with my kids once-now I have a use for it!) or baking soda (with some vinegar sprayed on). Tub will shine and soap scum will be gone!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Love Super Target!

If we had to pick just one store to have in our city-this would be it! I get almost giddy when the $1 spot has new items! When did Target become so awesome? I still remember in junior high school where it wasn't cool to buy your clothes or shoes there. Now I want to broadcast my great finds from there! It has everything from cute baby items, made to order cakes, trendy house decor and groceries. I don't do the majority of my grocery shopping at Super Target because the prices do seem generally higher, but it is the perfect one stop shop when I need to grab some food items along with my other "necessities" that catch my eye as I wander the store. Even their storage items are fun to look at! Target often has great deals. just got to know where to find them. Check out this link that is updated weekly with its specials. This forum from A Full Cup is also awesome for posting Target steals and deals. Bookmark or slide this link up into your browser to print out coupons to use before you go.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

American Girl: A New Discovery!

This summer, my daughters and I started to read the American Girl series. I had heard so many wonderful things about them and how they teach historical moments (immigrant migration, the depression, World War II...). I LOVE that about the books! They really do teach! We started with the Samantha bookos, which is about an orphan growing up in American times . My girls were hooked! They already loved stories from "long ago" after reading Little House on the Prairie Books. The American Girl series was the perfect follow up!

After the Samantha series ended we moved on to Kit Kittredge, which deals with the Great Depression. This was a perfect move (according to me-- with the corresponding movie that came out this summer! What a reward! Read all the books and then see the movie)!

My four year old, Lucy, can tell you how the Depression started because of the American Girl books. "People got worried about their money, the stopped going to stores to buy things, the store owners didn't have any customers so they had to close their stores..." It is amazing how she can relate and remember all of that from reading a fictional book!

We have now moved on to the Kirsten books. Next up...a trip to Chicago to visit the acclaimed American Girl Store on Michigan Avenue???

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Training Has Begun...

for the IMT Des Moines Marathon on October 19th. Okay, I'm running the half marathon (training should have begun way before now if I was doing the full). Still even 13.27 miles is a sizable distance. The thing is, I love variety. I love my bosu ball, spinning, and boot camp classes at Prairie Life Fitness Gym. I love running (especially on cool Fall mornings!), but I can't run every day. I read my Runner's World magazine and am amazed at these people that run every day. Maybe that is what you have to do to be great. I don't really have a training plan for this half marathon in a few months, but I ran it before a few years ago and I did Dam to Dam in June. I should be okay, right??!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Magic Pumpkin!

All of this from one little pumpkin seed? I am in amazement when I look at the mess of pumpkin vines in our backyard. My daughter, Megan, brought home a pumpkin seed from Kindergarten in the Spring. She went out to our garden (which never really reproduces anything besides weeds), planted the seed herself and promptly did what most six year old do...forgot about it. In June we noticed a lot of orange flowers and green leaves growing in our backyard. I assumed it was a new kind of weed (we really do not possess a green thumb in this family). A few weeks later we noticed some kind of green balls attached to this thing that looked like a vine. It kind of creeped me out because we really weren't sure what it was. I poked around the internet and saw that it resembled a watermelon or pumpkin vine. Somehow this pumpkin seed had survived without us watering it or really giving it any attention whatsoever.

Now that we knew what it was, the kids were so excited! We watched the vine spread under our fence (thank you neighbors for being understanding) and produce seven pumpkins! They started out green and are now turning a wonderful pumpkin orange. They are good size too and I know by Fall we will have wonderful jack-o-lanterns for my kids and the neighbors.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Free McDonalds Sandwich

If you like the Southern-style Chicken Sandwich or Biscuit from McDonald's, you can get them free with any medium drink purchase by using this coupon here. My grandparents love these. It will be perfect for our weekly McDonalds lunch date. On Wednesdays, I take these sandwiches over, get Happy Meals for the kids, and have a little picnic at their place. Extra bonus is that Happy Meals are only 1.99 in the Des Moines metro on Wednesdays.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Love That Sweet Corn!

One of the best things about August in Iowa is the Sweet Corn. It is at its peak in August and to risk sounding like a yokel, it is truly delicious! It has taken my husband and I quite a few summers to perfect the cooking of the sweet corn, For the longest time we did the whole pot and boil water thing. It was okay, but in 90+ degree August heat, it just wasn't condusive to having the kitchen all heated up and I could never get the timing quite right. The corn was either too mushy or too hard. Next, we tried the wrapping of the sweet corn in waxed paper and heating it in the microwave bit. This was better and less messy then boiling so much water, but the "green"part of me did feel slightly guilty about all the excess and waste of waxed paper we used.

Now eureka, we have found it! Sweet corn on the grill! You can leave it in the husks or wrap it in tin foil (out of husks). My husband has found through trial and error that it can cook about ten minutes and turn it four times throughout. It is incredible! Why didn't we try it before?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Wish I Would Have Thought of it...

My daughters don't watch a lot of movies, but will usually let them pick one out at our library during our weekly visit. My four year old, Lucy, zoomed in immediately for a DVD entitled Word World: Where the Words Come Alive. I had heard briefly of this PBS show, but Lucy informed me that its "really creative and makes you think differently. You would really like it, Mommy!" With an endorsement like that how I could not watch it with them? I loved it! It goes along so well from my years of teaching kindergarten and teaching kids how to read. Each character in the show is made out of letters. Its entirely animated and the characters face challenges which helps them form new words.

For example, the character Ant (made out of the letters a-n-t) was feeling left out because he was so small. With the addition of a "g" and an "i" to him, Ant became a Giant. Clever huh? Well...of course things are always what they seem, and Ant realizes that it is better off to be who he really was.

There are so many learning opportunities here! Phonics, sound boxes (a reading strategy that helps kids recognize letter shapes and sounds), segmenting, whole language...the list goes on! The reading teacher in me (and entrepreneur) wishes I would have come up with this idea. Way to go WordWorld! In case you are wondering it airs on PBS at 10:30 AM central time.

Click here for an intro to WordWorld and download a free episode!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

$.99 Waffle Cone Wednesdays!

TCBY has a special promotion going on this summer on Wednesdays.You can fill a waffle cone with any of their delicious (and healthier than ice-cream) frozen yogurt. We just got back from a little meet-up with some friends. The kids had a ball and the cones are enormous. Neither of my daughters could finish their cones and they are always able to finish their desserts-just like their mommy! We will definitely be back...maybe next Wednesday to celebrate the first day of school!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

What I am Reading Now...

New York Times Bestseller, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. Have you heard of him? I hear his name popping up more and more lately. He has a nationally syndicated radio show and founder of Financial Peace University. I am halfway through the book and already have a new outlook on our current car search, carrying cash and budgeting. I would love to finish the book tonight, but Dave has snagged it and doesn't seem in a hurry to give it back...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Restaurant Week in Des Moines!

Look out New York City! West Des Moines is on the cutting edge too! A few years ago, my husband and I went to New York during the last week of June, which happened to be Restaurant Week. For a set price we were able to enjoy three course meals at many fine restaurants that we normally wouldn't be able to afford. There is something to be said of dining in New York with a server standing directly behind you, catering to needs I didn't even know I had. Thank goodness for the fancy brush meant to take care of a tiny speck of dirt on my white tablecloth! It was a really neat experience.

Now August 16-24, there are 33 featured Des Moines restaurants where a prix-fix menu of 20.08 can be enjoyed. Diners can either have two lunches for that price or one dinner. I can't decide to go with some of my favorites like Gateway Market and Johnny's Italian Steakhouse or try some places we have been meaning to get to forever like Trostels Greenbriar and Splash. What about the new downtown wine bar called Sbrocco? Way to go Des Moines for trying something new. Now about finding some babysitters so we can really enjoy the meal...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Redbox Movie Rentals

Have you tried it yet? I see the little boxes everywhere and didn't really give them too much thought. After hearing about their free movie codes, I knew it wouldn't hurt to see what Redbox is all about. While at Hy-vee grocery shopping (by I knew I would have time to play around with it), I found it to be very easy and user friendly. By using a touch screen, you are able to peruse the variety of movies available. After selecting a movie, I was able to punch in my free movie code and the price actually came up at $0.00. I did still need to put in a debit or credit card. They have to be able to track who the movie is going to and be able to charge a fee if its late (by the way, you get the movies for 24 hrs. Don't be late returning them because its $1 a day). I think its a great deal and will definitely use more often. The movies are new releases and with the code-FREE!

Family Fun Night

With three young children it can be very difficult to give each one the opportunity to make decisions and feel like their ideas are heard and valued. We also feel that often after meals one of us is holed up in the kitchen cleaning up (usually me), while Dave is corralling the kids in the living room playing his game idea of "Lay-Down Tickle Monster". He explains that is a genius idea because he gets to lay down (tired from a day of running around working) and gets to grab at and tickle the kids while they run around him. While that is all fun, we knew that there were countless board games getting dusty and no time to just be home as a family. With that in mind, we came up with our Family Fun Night idea.

Here's how Family Fun Night works! We get out our family calendar at the beginning of each month. Each member of the family is assigned an evening that month to be the sole decision maker of (sorry, Max, being able to say words besides "Vrooom and Da!" are mandatory). That evening, the selected person is in charge of planning the dinner and dessert menu and the family activity. We have had water balloon fights, roasted smores over our fire pit, camped in our backyard and rediscovered that board and card games are all teachable moments within themselves.

A couple of simple rules we needed to enforce after requests of Joe's Crab Shack and Adventureland came up right away were 1) The menu needed to be stated before mom's weekly trek to the grocery store and 2) The activity needed to be Free. I love the creativity they have shown so far!

We are having a lot of fun, its inexpensive and something we actually look forward to!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Top Ten Ways to Get Your Child Ready for School in the Morning

I can’t believe it’s here already, but school will soon be in session. I don’t know how it is at your house, but my kids have a tough time getting going in the morning. The last thing I want before I send my six year old daughter to first grade ALL day (she went to half day kindergarten) is rushing, nagging and feeling unprepared. Everyone knows about earlier bedtime on school nights, but even with our 8:00 bedtime, I am still dragging them out of bed by 8:30. What to do???

  1. Be Consistent. This may seem like a no-brainer, but kids like adults, have internal sleep clocks and they really do need to go to bed and wake up at similar times each day.
  1. Lay out the next day clothes the night before. My first grader is really starting to be interested in what she is wearing. Sometimes we don’t agree…get it hammered out the night before.
  1. Wake the kids up in a cheery singsong voice. No one wants to start the day with a “get up, get moving, come on, we’re late!”
  1. Make time for a healthy breakfast. I know you’ve heard it before, but a sugary pop-tart is not going to cut it. Your kids need carbs and protein in the morning. The protein will sustain them until lunch and the carbohydrates will help give them energy and get them moving.
  1. Pack lunches the night before. This way you can spend your time on other “semi” emergency matters that always arise. Don’t forget to leave a quick cute note in your youngsters lunchbox!
  1. Get barstools for your kitchen counter (if applicable). We purchased a set from Target this summer and these have been worth every penny. I can just slide the cereal right across the counter to them and chat away while I am doing this or that in the kitchen. Previously I had been trying to sit at the table with them and was constantly getting up for orange juice refills, more fruit, cleaning up, and refilling my coffee cup!
  1. Make a morning routine checklist. I love this idea and it has really worked for us! Before the girls can come downstairs they have a simple little chart (that they made – makes it more meaningful to them) posted outside their bedrooms. It includes; Did I: go potty? get dressed?, make my bed?, give mommy a good morning hug? The older daughter wrote the checklist out and my four year old illustrated it. They are very proud of it and saves me from nagging. They just check their list!

  2. Put toothbrushes in your downstairs bathroom. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before! The last thing my girls wanted to do after eating breakfast was to trudge back upstairs to brush their teeth. They just wanted to get on with playing! We keep a pair for them in our downstairs bathroom (the suction cup ones from Crayola work great). This way when they finish their breakfast, they can brush their teeth and off they go.
  3. Have their backpacks prepped the night before. This meaning, permission slips signed and ready to go, any notes to the teacher have already been written and stored, sharing or show and tell items and homework have already been safely placed inside.
  4. Leave the house on a good note! This means being positive, upbeat, and conversing about the fun day ahead. There will be times that things are rushed and stressed, but you don’t want your child focusing on those kind of memories for the first half of their day at school.

A New Thing to Notice

Its time to give it up. All signs are pointing me that way. 110,000 miles on our Dodge Grand Caravan, the engine light is permanently on and the estimate from our repair shop is over $1,000. I admit I am not a big car person. Sure I love having one and couldn’t live without, but I couldn’t even tell you what kind of cars my closest friends drive. I may notice if they are dirty or clean, but I just do not get into the hype of having the latest and greatest model. I dragged my feet on getting a minivan, but it was a necessity with two young kids at the time. Now that we have one I can’t go back! They are just too darn convenient!

So now the car noticing and comparing has begun! It’s always best to car shop when you don’t need to have it right away although I do somewhat feel like it’s a ticking time bomb driving with the check engine light. Parents magazine stated the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna are very safe and reliable family friendly cars so we started there.

On Tuesday we stopped by our nearest Honda dealership and test drove a used and new one. It has so many features, buttons, and knobs I think I may be a hazard on the road! Don’t worry, I really would try to figure it out before driving our three kids around. I am really intrigued by the navigation system and back up camera, but do we need all that? The DVD player would be nice and save my husband from hooking up our portable one before every long trip out of town. Come to think of it, now I think I can’t live without leather seats. Now the trouble has begun! I am noticing cars everywhere and thinking that if we are going to do this we are going to do it right! We will test drive the Sienna next week and then move on to decisions, deals and negotiating (something that will be very hard on me. I really am enjoying not having a car payment now).

Yes, I definitely notice cars now. I am uttering things you have never heard me say or even cross my mind…Where are the hybrid mini-vans?

I'm a Believer!

All of this for free???! This was my first time couponing and I admit that I am kind of giddy about it! I have been hearing more and more about it, particularly from my friend, Wendy. She and many others do an outstanding job and have significantly lowered their grocery bill. I am not one for spending a lot of time organizing and clipping coupons, but this was truly easy! In last Sunday's paper Kelloggs ran an ad for buying 10 items and getting $10 items in rebate. Once again, I am not one for sending in rebates, but all of the items were buy one get $1 off. Plus Walgreens has their Register Rewards, which I had heard about, and I got $10.00 to spend next time I go there. A lot of you may already take advantage of this, but like I said this was my first experience and I am hooked!

By the way, my four year old who was shopping with me thought she had hit the jackpot from shopping with mommy. I haven't seen her this animated and excited for awhile! She wanted to carry all four bags by herself and I couldn't resist letting her toast a poptart when we got home. I rarely buy this much processed food (noticed I had to sneak in the healthier cereal!), but this stuff will be great for our favorite Special K Cookie recipe and snacks on the go!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Iowa State Fair Time

It’s the culminating summer event right now in Des Moines; The Iowa State Fair! We love to go as a family and spend a good ¾ day there. Usually we leave early in the morning between 8 and 9AM to beat the crowds and the heat. We have a little route that we try to follow somewhat so the kids get the most out of it before they get tired and cranky.

First stop is Little Hands on the Farm This is definitely a kid favorite! Kids get to put on a little apron, a green farmer hat and are given a little basket. They pick apples, plant corn, milk a cow, and are given a dollar to buy something at the general store. Definitely a picture opportunity!

Next we head over to Grandpa’s Farm (almost furthest thing E at fairgrounds) to pet the baby kitties and chicks, see other farm animals and ride a pony. Pretty big event for a bunch of city kids. Then we make our way down the big hill to check out the butter cow, largest blue ribbon pumpkins, and to get lots of food samples at the Agriculture Building. We also like to stop and see the biggest boar (usually weighing in at over 1,000 lbs!) and see the winners of the ugliest cake contest. We usually end our time with a trip flying down the Giant Yellow Slide.

What about my fair favorite? The food! We always have the mandatory corn dog, my husband loves the giant prok tenderloins, and the kids are all about the funnel cakes. I love the warm, ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookies in the Varied Industries Building. New this year…pineapple on a stick! Deep fat fried pineapple! I have tried the deep fat fried candy bars and oreos in past years. Pretty imaginative…

Something we haven’t tried, but am definitely intrigued by is the Blue Ribbon Kids. During the week kids 10 and under get to be involved in special kids club activities designed around the fair. Check it out and let me know if you give it a try!

Have another family fair favorite of yours? Let me know and I can add it into our fair rotation!

Shawn Johnson: Making Iowa Proud

With the 2008 Olympics beginning, I am proud to have Shawn Johnson not only from our state, city (West Des Moines) and local gym. My daughters have gone to Chows Gymnastics for a couple of years and yes, I am often guilty of watching Shawn practice instead of my own kids. Do you blame me? You couldn't ask for a better representation of skill, character, and the belief that dreams really can come true.

Megan and Lucy have been playing Olympics all summer. Our backyard is a favorite spot and they have made up their own gymnastics competition. We have the bars on our swingset, the wood surrounding the playset for the balance beam, the open grass area is for showcasing the floor routines and our outdoor toy storage bin is the ideal vault. Megan is Shawn and Lucy represents Nastia Lukin. One thing that the girls have picked up from watching Shawn's televised competitions is all of the hugging that happens after the gymnasts compete. The girls rush over to give Daddy and me hugs after they perform. They always want to know who got the gold medal. Why does competition have to begin so early?

Like many Iowans, we have been following Shawn's road to the Olympics for well over a year now. The girls cut pictures out of the newspapers, collect them and want to be just like her. With other teen celebrities out there that have made some iffy choices (Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgins, Jamie Lynn Spears), Shawn's positive attitude and winning smile have been downright refreshing. I couldn't ask for a better role model for kids today. Good luck, Shawn! We will be watching!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kids Eat Free

I love a good deal and when it wraps around one of my favorite things (food!), then I am even more all for it! A fun thing my family and I have been trying this summer is eating dinner out at various restaurants on kids eat free nights. We don’t go out to eat as a family of five very often, but am more inclined when I know there will be other families there with young children. My kids are pretty behaved most of the time, but I don’t have to worry so much about my one year old and his sometimes unruly behavior in a high chair (picture sippy cups flying, food falling, and happy screeches). Other parents there have been there and no one is judging! I think its good to give kids restaurant experiences and the following places have been wonderful and very accomodating!

Some of our favorite Kids Eat Free places:

Saturdays: Zmariks -American Noodle Cafe
Kids eat free on a Saturday?! Normally unheard of for the restaurant biz! This noodle café is a great place to go after the late morning soccer games. Their macaroni is actually really something special. (Add broccoli to it if you are feeling guilty about this no veggie or fruit meal). Their teriyaki bowl is a favorite of mine!

Sundays: Legends American Grill
This place is close to home and can be a little too convenient after a busy weekend. The kids love the chicken fingers, I'm all about the Cobb Salad, and my husband, a cold beer!

Tuesdays: Hy-Vee
The kids meals are actually .99, but they offer a variety of options and I can’t resist their Chinese Express. They usually have a clown entertaining and it is the perfect excuse because I always need to go to the grocery store anyway right?!

Wednesdays: Shane’s Rib Shack:
This place is not only one of my husband’s favorite places, but the kids love it too. They usually have a magician wandering from table to table, doing card tricks and making balloon animals. They like the mac n cheese and cheeseburgers the best (not even trying BBQ! I can attest to the fact that it is pretty darn good)!

Please let me know of other places to try!