8 Affordable Summer Ideas to Keep the Kids Busy

Summer is something the kids look forward all year long. They think of sleeping in, staying up late and playing with friends. But for the parents it can be a tough adjustment and if you have nothing constructive for the kids to do then you might as well join the circus because it can feel much the same. Here are some affordable ideas to keep the kids busy and happy.

1. Check out your local Public Library for some great ideas. Most libraries are having special summer reading programs for kid’s age newborn to 18 years old. Throughout the summer, participants earn Book Bucks and drawing tickets to buy or try to win prizes. They also have great free summer performances, movies and crafts depending on the day of the week. And yes they even have a special day dedicated to the teens in the family.

2. Packing a picnic and making your way to a nearby park can be a great way to get the kids out of the house and into a new environment. Most parks have paved paths for riding bikes or taking a walk. There are so many possibilities when going to the park. Tennis, baseball, basketball, croquet, badminton, bocce ball are just a few games you can play while at the park. Some parks even have wading pools.

3. It’s a great time of year to have them enrolled in swim lessons or their favorite sport. Check your local YMCA or Boys and Girls Club for their programs.

4. A great family outing is to take them to the nearest Berry farm and pick berries. The next day you can have them help you make Jam or freeze the berries for yummy desserts later in the year.

5. Have the kids go through all their stuff and pull out clothes that don’t fit them, toys they don’t play with or things they don’t use and have a garage sale. This is a great way for them to make some money. At the end of the garage sale, don’t pack that stuff away and clutter up the garage, recycle those used goods and take them to the nearest goodwill or salvation army.

6. Take the kids to the County or State Fair. Most fairs run specials daily, sometimes you can get in free with a can of food.

7. Take the kids to the movies. Regal theaters has a Free Family Film Festival at 10am each Tuesday and Wednesday.

8. Check out the local Museums. Most cities have museums that are free of charge and if not you can check with your local visitors center for discounts.

Get those kids out and about. Take advantage of summer vacation and enjoy being with your kids!

Before you Travel…

Traveling any time of the year can sometimes be stressful when you don’t know what to expect. By car, Train, Bus or Plane, you should check out these sites before you go.

Road Closures – Check out the Federal Highway Administration for road closures, delays, traffic cameras and weather related road closures. You just click on the state you are want and it gives you a list of links to choose from.

WeatherWeather Underground is a great site to find out weather, humidity, wind, five day forecast and you can even get an hourly report of the temperature. You just put in the City, State or zip code of the city your checking. You can even check on different countries.

Delays – If your traveling by plane, check out the Flight Delay Information from the Federal Aviation Administration. Its always nice to know before you go if you flight is delayed.

Restaurants – Where will you eat when you get there? Check out Yelp.com for some great reviews of restaurants, shopping, nightlife, entertainment and much more. They dont have every city, mostly just the major cities, but the search integration with the Google Maps API is great.

Airline Meals – If you are traveling by plane and want to know what meals will be served on your flight, check out AirlineMeals.net. It is an amazing website which has a huge collection of information about meals provided by different airlines around the globe. It is user contributed and you’ll find find thousands of images of different meals from different flights.

MapsGoogle maps is great for checking out the area before you travel. You can print out point to point maps before you travel to take with you. They have images, most popular searches and user created maps. This is a very user friendly site.

I hope some of these sites help you in your planning for your next trip. Happy Travels!

Starbucks VS Peet’s

These are the two coffee companies I hear most about these days. What are the differences between the two, why do some people like one over the other? Here are some differences I found.

Starbucks has a rewards program. I mentioned this in an earlier post but I will repeat it for those that haven’t read it. Register any starbucks card for amazing benefits. Free refill, free flavors or special milk, free beverage with whole bean purchase and 2 free hrs wi-fi. I love this, it saves you a lot of money when you use a card.

Peet’s has no reward or special incentive program. But they do offer free wi-fi for 2 hrs now.

Score – Starbucks 1 Peet’s 0

Starbucks offers sugar-free, skinny options. I am not a fan of the sugar-free syrups starbucks uses. The after taste is not so good.

Peet’s offers sugar-free and lower fat milk options also. Peet’s sugar-free syrup is the best I have tasted, it has no after taste and it actually tastes good, not like most sugar-free syrups.

Score – Starbucks 1 Peet’s 1

Starbucks is on the list of 100 best Companies to work for. I have heard from many employees that they truly are a great company to work for. They offer a great package, even for those employees that only work part time.

Peet’s isn’t on the list.

Score – Starbucks 2 Peet’s 1

I heard that Starbucks has changed some of its ways of doing things, like not re-steaming milk, using only recently roasted beans and freshly brewed coffee every hour or something like that. But I cant find anything about it on their website.

Now Peet’s has a section on their website under Peet’s Stores called 10 Things You May Not Know. It lists things like, our whole bean coffees have been roasted within 10 days, never re-steam milk, hand scoop beans to the customers order, grind our coffee beans just before brewing and 6 other things. I find this to be very helpful and informative.

Score – Starbucks 2 Peet’s 2

I have had drinks at both coffee companies and I enjoy my regular, fat induced drinks at Starbucks and I enjoy the sugar-free low fat drinks at Peet’s. Both are great companies and make great coffees and I give them both a thumbs up! Why do you like one over the other? Whats your favorite coffee house?