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  • Pinch Pennies on date night...NOT looking cheap :)

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

     

    Begin at the Beginning
    Instead of going out for dinner, order a couple of appetizers to share. The hubby and I like to hit the local Mexican restaurant on Margarita Monday - We can linger over a shared nacho plate and grab a cheap drink.

    Do Lunch
    Or, skip dinner altogether in favor of a less expensive lunch. We like to sneak away while the kids are in school, when the meals are often lower priced.

    Cook at Home
    There's nothing more romantic than a candlight dinner for two - especially when it's in the privacy of your own home. It's fun to work together in the kitchen, and I'm totally up for donning this hot little number while we cook!

    Play Games
    Whether your tastes run to board games or video games, there's nothing like a night of fun after the kids are asleep! Just last week, we spent hours playing old school Nintendo games after dinner, laughing and enjoying one another.

    Have Coffee
    Check with your local coffee house or bookshop for details on open mic nights, free concerts, or poetry readings.

    Check for Deals
    We've had great luck with daily deal sites for fun activities to do together. We've been rock climbing and to museums. We've bought tickets to comedy clubs, movies, and sporting events. I love taking advantage of the specials to find new things to do in our area.

    Be a Kid Again
    This is one of my favorite pictures, racing down the slide at the Children's Museum. We've also ridden the carousel horses together, gone to the batting cages, mini-golfed, and spent hours at the Pinball Hall of Fame playing arcade games - all are inexpensive and so much fun, even without the kids!

  • What do Toddlers and First Dates have in Common?

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

     

    I never liked first dates. Even when they went well, there was this constant worry that maybe things wouldn't go as well next time. What do I wear? Where should we go? Should I pay for my meal or let him pay for all of it? Do I shave my legs? What if I can't stand him? What if he smells? WHAT IF? Thankfully I haven't had to go on a first date in over a dozen years, but I've recently realized that every outing with my toddler, Presley runs the risk of being very similar to a terrible first date. From the risk of embarrassment to the awkward conversations, here are some of the reasons I stress about outings with my little bundle almost as much as I worried about those first dates. Click through for 7 things toddlers and first dates have in common

    They're Unpredictable
    Are you going to get the charming person who smiled at you from your computer screen, or will you land yourself with an unpredictable, terribly cranky, impossible to please date? WHO KNOWS?

    High Likelihood for Extreme Embarrassment
    I was on a first date years ago when a woman stormed into the restaurant and began yelling at my date. Turns out, the woman was his mother and he had failed to mow the lawn. She was FURIOUS. She dragged him out, leaving me alone with the bill and all eyes on me. Six years ago I was taking care of some personal business in a Chicago airport restroom with a toddler corralled in the stall with me. After a minute, I suddenly realized my toddler had swung the bathroom door wide open to a whole line of women waiting to use the restroom. My pants were around my ankles and my pride was down the toilet.

    Have an Emergency Out
    We've all had friends call to check on us during a questionable first date, and it's nice to know you have an emergency out just in case. Get stuck with a toddler? There's a chance you may have to cut and run. I've abandoned many a full shopping cart when an outing went from pleasant to hairy. The article below was written by a girl named Casey Mullins and it's dead on..so I thought Id share it with you!!
    ~Charli

     

    Bodily Functions
    I fart when I'm really nervous. I spent a lot of time suppressing the urge to toot in front of my partner on our first date. I liked him a lot, and the butterflies in my stomach wreaked havoc on my tender digestive system. When you're out with a toddler there's double the bodily functions to keep track of, whether they're still in diapers or potty training.

    Everything Revolves Around Food
    Meeting for coffee, going out to dinner, grabbing lunch - there are many different ways to approach a first date and almost all of them involve food at some point. No matter where you go with a toddler or for how long, food will somehow be involved. Whether it's the snacks packed away deep in your bag just in case or a quick stop at the Target cafe for a bag of popcorn, food is essential. Don't believe me? Forget snacks and your wallet when you're out with your toddler, and watch all Hell break loose.

    Awkward Conversation
    I think this one is totally self explanatory from the point of view of a first date. As for the toddler comparison? Vivi's favorite thing to say is "MAMA POO-POO! MAMA POOOOOOO! MAMA POOP! POOP POOP POOP!" (I blame her older sister for this one). She also likes to call every man "daddy" and every kid under 15 a "baby." No really, it doesn't make anyone uncomfortable at all. After all, everybody poops and everyone is somebody's baby.

    A Chance at True Love
    There are some outings with toddlers that go perfectly. They are charming, well behaved, and we have an amazing time. No fits are thrown, no snacks are spilled, and no tears are shed. They're the rare reward outings for all the ones that go so terribly wrong. As with dating, some first dates I will remember forever, while others, well, I'd like to forget those ever happened.

     

  • Happily After the Fairytale...

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Jon Cozart hilariously and darkly harmonizes about what happens after dreams come true in Disney movies.

     

     

     


  • American Idol...Behind the Scenes

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Backstage at American Idol: The Real Scoop on Nicki Minaj's Late Arrival

    A hoodie-sporting Nicki Minaj may have shown up late to American Idol's top 10 performance show tonight, but it turns out she wasn't quite as tardy as it appeared to viewers at home.

    Backstage after the two-hour show, Curtis Finch Jr.—who was first up to sing and thus missed out on an on-air critique from Nicki, who was, according to Ryan Seacrest, stuck in L.A. traffic—told us that Minaj actually caught at least part of his rendition of Fantasia's "Believe."

    Just not from her seat at the judging table.
    Miss tonight's Idol? Catch up with our recap!
    "During the performance, she was backstage," he revealed. And that's where he almost literally ran into her as he made his exit after performing. "It was literally like, 'step, step, step, curtain, Nicki,'" he said. "And she was like, 'Good job today.'"

    The singer was relieved to find her there, and to get some feedback, even if it wasn't on air. "To see her backstage," he said, "was comforting."

    Still, the Idol wannabes weren't exactly surprised Minaj was a tad tardy. "It's not the first [time] and probably not the last," said Paul Jolley with a laugh, explaining that the judge had previously been late to some Hollywood Week performances. "Bu I'm OK with it. I love Nicki."

    So, clearly, does Burnell Taylor, who impressed the judges with a cover of Westlife's "Flying Without Wings" tonight. "I mean, when you look that good," he said of the hip-hop superstar, "you have to be late!"

    Devin Velez, whose take on Carrie Underwood's "Temporary Home" didn't quite wow the judging panel, had an idea to help keep Minaj from getting snarled in LA's notoriously bad traffic again. "Maybe we could get [her] a helicopter," he suggested. "Or some tennis shoes, so she can run!"

    http://www.eonline.com/news/397509/backstage-at-american-idol-the-real-scoop-on-nicki-minaj-s-late-arrival

     

  • 90's HUNKS..then and now..

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Some of these guys of the 90's have gotten way hotter, some..not so much..

    Enjoy

    ~Charli 

    Justin Timberlake

    Justin Timberlake

     

    Joshua Jackson

    Joshua Jackson

    Usher

    Usher

    Mark-Paul Gosselaar

    Mark-Paul Gosselaar

    Ryan Phillippe

    Ryan Phillipe

    Joey Lawrence

    Joey Lawrence

    John Stamos

    John Stamos

    Nick Carter

    Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys

    Leonard DiCaprio

    Leo DiCaprio

    Val Kilmer

    Val Kilmer

    Mark Wahlberg

    Marc Walberg

    Will Smith

    Will Smith

    Rob Lowe

    Rob Lowe

     

  • The Naughtiest pets...

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Top 10 Naughtiest Pets from discover.com

    Boxer A survey conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists the top 10 most mischievous pets. Boxers wound up in the number 10 spot for getting into things they shouldn’t. Boxers are spirited and need daily exercise. A tired dog is a good dog. Tired dogs do not get into trouble by eating things they shouldn’t.

    Beagles are the ninth naughtiest pet, according to the survey. Owners need to “pet proof” their homes, just like child proofing. Take your own medication in a closed room away from your pet. Do not leave any food, such as chocolate, on counters or tables.

    Shih tzu dogs may look small, cute and innocent, but their craftiness lands them at number 8 on the survey, mostly attributed to their curious nature.

    American pit bull terriers came in at number 7. Guests should always be informed about these dogs and other pets. You may know not to put your purse or suitcase on the floor, but grandma may not. Many animals get into medications, cleaning products and other potentially poisonous concoctions that way.

    German shepherds are number 6 on the survey. German Shepherds are a high energy breed. If this energy is not channeled into appropriate behaviors, they can get themselves into trouble eating toxic items.

    Yorkshire terriers, number 5 on the list, often get into trouble as a result of their curious nature. Their tiny size allows them to sneak into places they shouldn’t.

    Golden retrievers may look majestic, but that doesn’t prevent them from getting into trouble. They wound up in the number 4 spot. Goldens love to ‘mouth’ things, as it is in their retriever genes. Finding appropriate chew toys is very important to keep them from eating inappropriate things.

    Chihuahuas, number 3 on the list, are notorious for ingesting dropped pills. They are like little vacuums.

    Cats lumped into one group as domestic shorthairs -- are in the No. 2 spot. Cats are into plants and will drool profusely if they get a bad taste in their mouths. She added that many owners see this happening after flea spray has been applied and call the APCC. The cat is usually OK and is just trying to spit out the yucky-tasting substance.

    Labrador retrievers earned the dubious distinction of being the most naughty pets. Labradors are very popular and they are a very busy and mouthy breed. They like to eat both food and non-food items. The latter often get them into trouble.

  • Jeff Gordon pranks a car salesmen

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    This is one video worth watching all the way through. NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon and Pepsi MAX went to a car dealership where a disguised Gordon takes an unsuspecting car salesman on the test drive of his life.

     

  • Take your LARGE family on a Cheap Vacation!

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    Taking your family on vacation is fun but if its a big family it can get frusterating and EXPENSIVE..Meagan Francis wrote this article for Yahoo and I had to share with you. There are ways you can do it for less...enjoy!
    ~Charli

     

    Indoor Waterpark Resorts
    Yes, we've been to every Great Wolf Lodge within a 300-mile radius several times. Indoor waterparks allow big siblings fun and freedom - but not too much freedom - while parents are freed up to keep a closer eye on the little ones. Every Great Wolf I've been to (and most of the independent water parks) have an excellent lifeguard presence, so you can feel comfortable around all that water even when you've got a large brood to keep track of. Look for family-friendly suites that allow you to squish in a little (which most big families are used to anyway) and if you're on a budget, check out deals and off-season pricing. Hint: bring your own food. On-site restaurants tend to be full of expensive junk food, but your hotel room is very likely to offer a fridge and maybe a kitchenette.

    Traveling by Train
    I dare you to board an Amtrak train - especially right after you've flown - and not drool over the amazing leg room and comfort. It's also a great way to take in your surroundings and truly embrace the "getting there is half the fun" attitude I grew up with. Train travel is surprisingly inexpensive with children, even with the addition of a sleeper car. Plenty of room to stretch out and walk around means happy kids. Plus, no gas costs and we can sleep on the train that first night rather than paying for a hotel. Economical and efficient!

    RV-ing it
    I love to camp, but sometimes, tent camping with a bunch of little kids is less than fun. Like when it unexpectedly starts pouring, at dusk. That's why we've been eyeballing RVs - either a rental or finding a good deal on a used one - as a solution. Having a place to contain the masses (and stay dry) would make any camping trip less stressful, and it's also a great way to avoid the expense of multiple hotel rooms on longer trips. If you don't consider yourself the camping "type," you might want to check out the interiors of some of these trailers and RVs. The Jayco Eagle pictured above has a fireplace inside ya'll...not exactly roughing it.

    Home Swapping
    One of the biggest obstacles to traveling with a large family can be the accommodations. Getting two rooms for every night of travel gets expensive fast, and even if you're OK with sneaking half your family in the back door, that stops working as well when the bigger kids get to be teens. Swapping homes with a family in another destination is a flexible way to find living and sleeping space on the cheap. Here's a comprehensive home-swapping tutorial that will give you all the ins-and-outs. Just think, you could stay on a beach paradise without having to pay through the nose (or at all!) for lodging.

    Road Trips
    The staple of my childhood, road trips don't have to be a drag. Just keep your destination within a few hundred miles - or plan plenty of stops for leg-stretching and burning off energy. I'm glad we started road tripping with our kids young; they're used to it by now, and are all excellent car travellers. Our favorite part? Creating the family road trip playlist on Spotify!

    A Family Cruise
    It sounds like a dream: all your kids contained in one place, professionals providing them with fun activities from dawn 'til dusk, and you're free to eat, drink, and be merry in peace. All for insanely reasonable prices - even better if you live within driving distance of a port! Yes, cruise ships have had a bad rap lately, but incidents are extremely rare and the Disney Cruise Line - pictured above - has an excellent safety record.

    The Hotel Pool
    Remember how I said that sometimes you have to get creative about what counts as a vacation? One thing I've learned in fifteen years of parenting is that however much I pack a day with entertainment and enrichment opportunities, the hotel pool always wins. So during a long weekend or stuck-at-home school holiday, it's worth it to see if you can get a killer deal on a decent hotel near you. Smaller towns or areas where there isn't much tourism or business travel have the best deals. The picture above is from an impromptu "vacation" weekend our family of 7 took with my brother's family of 5. The rooms were $50 a night. The fun? Free.

  • Save Money MONDAY.....low groceries

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

    After housing and transportation costs, food takes up more of the average household's budget than anything else.

     

    are a few ways trim our food budget without tightening our belts.

    1. Set a Budget, and Stick to It. It's all about goal-setting. Save a couple weeks' worth of receipts and subtract 10% from that amount.

    2. Don't Shop the Same Store Every Week. Shopping multiple stores is key to paying less for groceries, but be strategic. Find the best deals in the stores nearest you.

    3. Use Coupons. Coupons are worth the time they take to clip, print out, or load to a store card.

    4. Buy Clearance Items. Some stores regularly put soon-to-expire meat in a special clearance bin, marked 30% or 50% off.

    5. Look for Alternative Grocery Stores. Don't walk past a small neighborhood grocery or ethnic store, without checking it out.

    6. Try Amazon. Sometimes they offer steep price drops and coupon codes. Wantnot.net is a good blog for getting alerts on great Amazon deals.

    7. Participate in Meatless Monday. Meat is often the most expensive part of a meal.

    8. Stop Wasting Food. Forty percent of all food produced in the United States is thrown away. That's a whopping 20 pounds of wasted food per American.

    9. Make Economical Substitutions. Replace expensive or out-of-season vegetables in recipes with the always-cheap carrots or cabbage.

    10. Stretch the Meat. Instead of serving whole pieces of meat like steaks or chops, serve casseroles and stews with chopped, crumbled, or shredded meat.

    Click below for more great ideas.

     

    CLICK HERE FOR MORE WAYS TO LOWER YOUR BILL

  • Charli's Mommy tips...

    Posted by Charli McKenzie

     

     

    Want to get the smell out of your Garbage disposal or just plain clean it? Slice up little lemons and put them in ice cube trays, then cover with vinegar. Freeze. Just pop one in the garbage disposal and grind away..store the extra in a ziplock bag.

    Also, these are perfect for ice water in the summer ;)

     

    Does your fitted sheet look like my fitted sheet? Ya, thats what I thought.....

    This is the step by step instructions how to do it, good luck..lol

    The Right Way:

    Or..watch the video...lol

     

     

    Ive started this 2 weeks ago. Make a tip jar and everytime you workout put a $ in your jar, set a goal and when you've hit the goal mark-splurge on yourself. My goal is set and once I reach it Im buying myself a new pair of jeans and a kickbutt style of sandals for the summer. It works, try it!

     

    ~Charli