Incredible Deal on Clothing at Schoola: $20 Credit, 50% off, FREE Shipping

schoola

Have you heard about the Schoola craze? I usually get such great deals on clothing at yard sales that I honestly have not looked into it much. But I am glad I did today.

The deals you can get right now are INSANE. And I say that with capitals because it is nuts.

I just purchased $97.80 worth of clothing for my kids (5 items) for only $1.60!

Let Me Show You The Insane Deal!

If you sign up for Schoola right now you get $20 credit.

After you sign up, you’ll get an email with a 50% coupon code. The code I got said it expires July 31, 2016, and can’t be used on items that are NEW with tags.

schoola insane savings deal

Don’t worry if you don’t get the 50% off coupon code for some reason, you can still use the 30% off coupon code with FREE shipping.

 Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.41.22 PM

You might also be able to earn an additional $10 credit for creating a new collection.

schoola $10 credit

I Like To Feel My Clothing and See It On Racks

Okay, so I’m the type of person that likes to look through racks. I like to feel the clothes, touch them, get a sense of their style and texture and color in person. Searching for clothing online is not easy for me. However, with a deal this great, I could not let it pass.

I have been trying to be really intentional about what comes in my house, so I wanted to look for items that were really good quality. (Let’s face it, if I want cheap t-shirts and play clothes for my kids, I can usually find them in a FREE box or for 25 cents at a yardsale.)

I think another reason I’ve been careful about what comes into my house is because I have been on a major decluttering binge, which has been pushed in my this week through Bonni Greiner’s live decluttering videos – I love them and plan to blog about my decluttering experiences soon!

Here’s How I Searched for My Clothing

  1. I sorted by size. I am good on clothes for my kids this season, so I looked a size ahead of what they are in right now. The advantage to sorting like this was that I could buy any season – whether it was clothing for warmer or cooler weather.
  2. I sorted by “preppy” to find the nicer clothing items that I was looking for.
  3. I also tried sorting by brand to get some nicer brands of clothing that I knew would stay nice longer.
  4. Occasionally I would sort by price to see what was available for less than $5 or $10. Ultimately, I liked the results I got best though when I had turned the price feature off. I felt I could find more what I was looking for.
  5. I also found it very helpful to sort by condition. I wanted things in good condition. I made sure NEW WITH TAGS was unchecked because my coupon would not work with those.

As I found items that I liked or I thought might be good “filler items” (which I define as smaller items that are less than $10 in case I am close to balancing off my cart to $0), I added them to my cart. I didn’t worry about the total yet. I just put stuff in that I liked or might consider purchasing.

Narrowing It Down

After I had everything in my cart that I was interested in and I thought would be a good fit for my family, my subtotal was $68.55. That’s after the schoola savings! So this was actually worth a lot more.

schoola

I had to decide what to get rid of. The first item to get rid of was easy. It was a sweater that I didn’t LOVE to begin with so I deleted it. That brought me down to a total of $10.10 that I would spend. I still wanted to get my items for FREE or very close to free! So I sorted some more.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.25.09 PM

I found two boys dress shirts that I liked and picked one to get rid of. I decided to keep the one that had more reds because I thought it would be a great Christmas shirt. It was a tough call.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.25.36 PM

I forgot that deleting a $9 item would only remove $4.50 from my cart, since it was already calculating the 50% off coupon code. So I was now down to $5.60. One more thing to get rid of!

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.26.24 PM

I put this dress in my cart for my daughter because I knew she would think it was cute. But I decided it was a basic enough dress that I could find something similar for her at a yardsale or a consignment sale this fall. It wasn’t something we were in desperate need of, so out of my cart it went!Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.27.07 PM

I was now down to $1.60 total cost. I figured that was pretty good for over $43 worth of 5 items. (The one dress I got for my daughter is gorgeous and originally cost over $56. I wanted to have a nice dress for her this holiday season and I figured that after she is done wearing it I can probably sell it at a consignment sale or on ebay for much more than the $1.60 I would be paying for everything in my cart!)

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.27.15 PM

I selected super saving shipping because it was FREE and because it doesn’t matter to me how long it takes to arrive since I was shopping for a season ahead anyway.

schoola

I saved $97.80 and sent $4.59 to help kids thrive!

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 2.28.29 PM

Impressive Womens Clothing Selection

I was surprised at the large selection of womens clothing. You will find high-end name brand clothing at higher prices and in excellent condition.

Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.39.29 PM

You can also find a decent selection of name-brand items for less than $5!
Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.42.00 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.42.18 PM

Styles include athletic, casual, outdoorsmen, business, formal, Bohemian, sparkle, surf and more.
Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.51.31 PM

You can even sort by season, sleeve length and by material.Screen Shot 2016-07-21 at 10.52.47 PM

There’s More Good News

After getting that great of a deal, you can’t imagine it could get any better right?

Well it can, and here’s how.

After you make your purchase, Schoola gives you the option of sharing about them on Facebook. When you do this, they tag it with a referral link to you!

Each time a new friend purchases through your shared link, you will earn a $20 credit for purchases over the next 60 days. So that means more free clothing – and hopefully they’ll be a 30-50% off code when you use that credit too!!

So now that you are hopefully as psyched as I am about this great deal, head over to Schoola and try it out for yourself. You might find nothing you like, but that’s the worst case scenario. The other worst case scenario is you find one very expensive item but you get it for FREE. You really can’t go wrong.

Good luck and have fun! And I’d love to hear about the deal you get in the comments below.

Be sure to sign up for my email list so you stay up to date on other freebies and deals!

frugal lancaster email update newsletter

50% off at TJ Rockwell’s, Johnny’s Steakhouse, Wayback Burgers, Barnyard Kingdom, Water’s Edge Mini Golf, Zig’s Bakery, Tangles Salon, Go N Bananas and more!

How to Get 50% off at local lancaster places

Today is Midnight Madness on LocalFlavor.com – a site that offers 50% off gift certificates to many local restaurants, entertainments and other local venues. Many of these are very popular and will sell out before the day is over.

Go N Bananas:$15 For A Nano’s Deluxe Pass (Reg. $29.99)

Wayback Burgers Millersville, PA:$15 For $30 Worth Of Casual Dining (Purchaser Will Receive 2-$15 Certificates)


Tangles Salon:$80 For Color Melting With 2 Or More Colors (Reg. $160)

zig's bakery and cafe
Zig’s Bakery & Cafe:$10 For $20 Worth Of Cafe & Bakery Items

Johnny’s Bar and Steakhouse: $15 for $30 worth of fine dining

TJ Rockwell’s: $15 For $30 Of Worth of American Bar & Grill Fare


Crazy Tomato: $15 for $30 worth of casual dining

the grille lancaster deal
The Grille:$10 For $20 Worth Of Casual Dining

cross gates golf club lancaster savings deal
Crossgates Golf Club:$90 For A Round Of Golf For 4 With Cart (Reg. $180)


Reflections Restaurant:$20 For $40 Worth Of Casual Dining

cravings deli lancaster savings deal
Cravings Gourmet Deli:$10 For $20 Worth Of Casual Dining

cooper hill public house lancaster savings deal
Cooper Hill Public Place: $15 For $30 Worth Of Casual Dining

the inn at bully's restaurant lancaster savings deal
Bully’s Restaurant & Pub:  $15 For $30 Worth Of Casual Dining

Country Barn’s Barnyard Kingdom: $25 For A Family 4-Pack Ticket Package (Reg. $50)

Scoop’s Ice Cream & Grill: $10 For $20 Worth Of Casual Dining & Ice Cream (Purchaser Will Receive-2 $10 Certificates)

lancaster symphony orchestra

Lancaster Symphony Orchestra: $50 For 2 Tickets To Any Show In 2016/2017 Season (Reg. $120)

7 Secret Tips You Should Know Before Your Dutch Wonderland Visit

7 secret tips you should know before you visit dutch wonderland We are privileged to know an insider who works at Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park and can fill us in on a lot of secret tips, that no one else knows about! Today, I want to share them with you. I hope you find them as interesting and useful as we did.

#1. Park near the pavilion.

The park recently redid their parking lot. Season pass holders can park in front of the castle. However, even if you are a season pass holder, if you will be staying at the park all day, I highly recommend parking near the picnic pavilion.

After you pay at the parking ticket booth, and as you are heading to park near the front entrance, keep going straight. You will be heading towards the blue roller coaster. Directly in front of you, you will find a pavilion—a perfect place to eat your lunch.

We kept our cooler in the van and then at lunch time, our van (and lunch) was right there at the pavilion. Quick and easy for getting out our lunch and changing into our suits for the afternoon water park!

best place to park at dutch wonderland
Here is a picture showing you the pavilion next to the blue roller coaster. This truly is the best place to park at Dutch Wonderland (unless you have season passes and won’t be staying all day, or will be buying your lunch inside the park).

#2. The piano room shooting range has a hidden secret.

shooting range piano room at dutch wonderland

Did you know that the shooting range is light activated? If you have a camera with a strong flash, use it as if you were taking a picture of the booth.

Everything in the room will respond as if you shot it all at the same time! The piano player will play, the soda can will sky rocket, the cookoo clock will go off, and so on!

Just a note that we did try it with the flash on our cell phone and it did not work. You need a stronger and brighter light like most SLR camera’s have.

#3. You can get a FREE child’s ticket to Dutch Wonderland.

If your child participates in the Lancaster County Library reading program, they can earn a FREE ticket to Dutch Wonderland! If you aren’t a part of this program, I highly recommend signing up. Reading must be completed by the middle of August if you want to redeem your prizes.

Each young reader gets FREE things like a Strasburg Railroad pass, ice cream cone at McDonald’s and Dairy Queen, Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel, bounce place tickets and so on — depending on which part of the county you live in.

Other ways to save on Dutch Wonderland Tickets: 

#4. The bumper cars are some of the fastest bumper cars.

bumper cars

We learned this only because we know someone who works at the park and fills us in on these little secrets. I thought it was a kind of random tidbit, but seriously, how exciting is it? You can now say you drove the fastest bumper cars around?

But here’s the tip, because they are so fast, you’ll want to keep in mind that you can always get out of a “bumper hang up”. The trick is to turn your steering wheel away from the ‘crash’. Wait a few seconds, and slowly the car will steer away from the hang up and you’ll be free!

#5. The little roller coaster secret tip.

The little roller coaster ride is great for kids, but it is FAST and JERKS a lot.

If you hold your little one close, keeping your arm around him, you can eliminate a lot of the shock and make it more fun.

Check out this video to see how much fun it is for even a two year old! (Not all two year olds will enjoy the ride, but for the more outgoing and adventurous ones, it is great!)

#6. A unique place to watch the diving show.

On a busy day, this might not be recommended, but on the rainy day that we went, the lines weren’t long. Because of this, we were able to stop on the bridge for the log flume ride and watch the diving show.

The view we had here was incredible. I think you get a better view of the dive when you aren’t sitting directly in front of it. I will say that you don’t necessarily get the best view of the diver hitting the water. Check out how dark the sky is in this picture! It really was a rainy and overcast day.

diving show at dutch wonderland amusement park

#7. Rainy Day Secrets and Tips

If you go on a rainy or overcast day like we did, one of the first rides to close is the fun slide, so be sure to hit this ride up first if it is on your ‘must ride’ list. For safety reasons, no one can be sliding down with rain drops in the air – you would go too fast!

long slide at dutch wonderland amusement park

The rides that are under cover, will stay open even while it is raining (as long as it is not thunderstorming). While it was downpouring, our kids rode the “wonder whip” over and over again — and we stood under cover along the side completely dry.

what rides don't close in the rain at dutch wonderland

The waterpark will close and open, depending on the weather. We went to the water park while it was raining, because we were getting wet anyway! If they close it for a little, they are just checking for thunder and lightning, and depending on the weather they will open it again soon. So don’t lose hope too quickly!

dutch wonderland water splash park

Dutch Wonderland has an excellent rain guarantee. If it rains for more than one hour during your visit, or they close the park due to weather, you can stop by guest services on your way out of the park to get FREE replacement tickets. You can use them on another day during the summer. Or here’s the best part in my opinion — you can save them and use them for their Happy Hauntings or Dutch Winter Wonderland!

7 Secret Tips You Should Know Before Your Dutch Wonderland Visit

The day we went to Dutch Wonderland it was rainy and overcast. In fact, late in the day we got caught in a flash flood that completely surprised us and all the Dutch Wonderland employees! Be sure to read about our experience and 6 unexpected things our children enjoyed at the park.

7 unexpected things your kids will enjoy

The Day We Got Stuck In a Flash Flood at Dutch Wonderland (And 7 Unexpected Things Your Kids Will Enjoy)

7 unexpected things your kids will enjoy during your dutch wonderland family experience

It was a normal summer day, with rain in the forecast. But we decided to make our trip out to Dutch Wonderland anyway. It might rain, but we’d enjoy what we could, and maybe just need to head home a little early.

The day started out perfectly. The rides had very short lines, if any line at all, probably because people were afraid to come to the park with potential rain and thunderstorms in the forecast. The sky was overcast, so the hot sun wasn’t unbearable.

We determined that rainy days are the best days to visit Dutch Wonderland!

As the day went on, the sky got darker, and after lunch it soon started to drizzle. The water park was closed for a little bit, but then it reopened. Most rides were still going – including the train!

Then there was a downpour. But the good thing was, it was while we were at the water park. So we could hardly even tell. The kids thought this was wonderful of course – to be running through the water park in the pouring rain.

It stopped raining and we went back on some amusement rides. The water park had closed again. We looked at the radar on our phones and determined that Dutch Wonderland was trying to figure out what the weather was going to do next. They had to make sure there was no thunder or lightning.

We were down at the bottom of the park, near the swings, actually riding the swings, when it started to rain.

Then it started to pour.

AND IT JUST KEPT POURING!!!

We took cover with a ride attendant under a canopy, and it just kept pouring.

I never saw it downpour so hard for so long!

Five minutes went by. We figured we would wait a few more minutes, surely it had to stop soon. Downpours are usually short things, aren’t they?

Fifteen minutes had gone by. Then thirty minutes. It was now about 4:30pm and an employee came around saying they were going to close the park at 5:00pm.

I could not believe it was still downpouring! And when I saw downpouring folks, it barely touches how much rain was coming down. It was terrential downpours!!!

The kids had decided that staying dry was boring, so they were running around getting soaked and jumping in the puddles. We had to avoid many areas because it literally had started to flood!

I loved that they made the best of the situation!

Still, we waited. Surely, it had to stop soon.

Finally, with only about 15 minutes until the park would close, we decided we had no choice.

We made a run for it!

We were of course soaked in about 5 seconds. No, it was probably 2 seconds, if that! We could see about three feet in front of us as we made our way to the front of the park. We laughed hysterically. How fun!

dutch wonderland terrential downpours flash flood

Needless to say it was quite the memorable experience.

We had no idea at the severity of the weather until we got home and saw this article on Lancaster Online. The downpour had literally hovered right over the Dutch Wonderland area, creating torrential downpours. Then on top of it all, several cars had gotten stuck in the flash floods and the sinkhole that opened up on Route 30! Check out the pictures in this article to see the craziness – people were even tubing down their streets.

Throughout the morning, as we were enjoying the park, we realized kids really enjoy the little things. You would think they’d run to the best rides and want to keep moving and experiencing everything quickly (like most adults). But our kids enjoyed unexpected things.

#1. Parents joining them in the activities.

We first noticed this at the dino dig. They were so excited to dig up dinosaur bones, but it didn’t take long until they just wanted us to dig with them. I wanted to say no, but then I remembered the time I was at the park, chose to be a kid and play line tag, and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom and peace that resulted from it!

dino dig at dutch wonderland
So we got down in the sand with them and dug. And brushed off the bones. And acted like a kid, full of excitement and joy, experiencing the thrill of the pretend world of paleontology!

#2. Feeding and watching the baby ducks. 

You’d think since we live in a somewhat rural area, our kids would have their fill of animals. But still, every time we visit Dutch Wonderland, the first thing our kids love is seeing the baby ducklings walk behind their mommy.

baby ducklings at dutch wonderland

I’m not sure if the park plans this or not, but I find it interesting that there are always baby ducks! We have gone in the early season (June) and in the middle of the season (late July) and every time we go, there are always cute little baby ducklings following the mommy duck! It really is quite the picture!

#3. Cows in the river. 

We decided to take the riverboat cruise while we were there. The kids are always very excited about things we never expect, and this was one of them! What no one was expecting on our ride was to see cows walking in the creek “river” right next to us! Since we live in Lancaster County, this wasn’t a huge deal for us — we see cows every day — but to the other people on the boat, their amazement and excitement was contagious!

cows in river at dutch wonderland

While riding the riverboat, we learned that this ride is not always open. In fact, it is only open occasionally. Which made us very excited that we did get a chance to ride it. Since it is a real creek that it rides in, with a real driver, and a real boat (it’s not really an amusement park ride at all), it can only operate if the creek level is not too high and not too low.

#4. Riding the carousel.

Okay, maybe this is kind of expected. But to me, the carousel is a very basic ride. You find them everywhere—at the beach, the fair, the zoo. However, for our kids, it is the first thing they see as they enter the park, and it is what they MUST do first! They absolutely love it. And as parents, we ride it with them and enjoy their excitement.

dutch wonderland carousel

#5. Following the maps.

We noticed this when our oldest children were only 3 years old, and we were so surprised. They absolutely love following the maps! Sometimes they don’t know what they are looking at or where they are going, but now at age 6, the boys love to be our guides, watch the signs and figure out how to get to where they want to go next!

boys following dutch wonderland maps

Again, this can be difficult for me. I’m very much the type to go quickly and get as much in as we can. But I have found it very peaceful and relaxing to walk slowly behind them and enjoy their curiosity and determination to learn something new!

If you didn’t get a map on your way in to the park, you can go back to the entrance and you’ll see a pocket near the ticket booths with lots of maps in them. Apparently people come back asking for them often—I guess our kids aren’t the only ones who love to follow a map. 🙂

#6. The princess bathrooms. 

The first time our daughter had to go to the bathroom, my sister took her. She came back so excited she could hardly contain herself. “Mommy, the bathroom is pink for a princess! It’s soooo pretty!!”

There is also a little potty and a little sink and step stools to make it easy for any child to wash their hands. They really cater to the mommies!

#7. Eating at the lunch pavilion.

We packed our lunch (one of our 7 secret tips!) and parked next to the lunch pavilion in order to save money by not buying lunch at the park. We had no idea how much fun the kids would have eating there! They loved watching the roller coaster fly by and every time the mono rail passed over us they all had to run out and wave at the passengers!

monorail

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing our 7 secret tips that you must know before your Dutch Wonderland visit. They cover everything from how to save money to interesting facts and tidbits that we learned from a Dutch Wonderland insider!

And here’s a graphic you can pin—for future reference!

7 unexpected things your kids will enjoy

Riding the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails with Kids

We love to go bicycle riding. We have been wanting to go on a date bike ride for awhile, but something always comes up. You know how it is?!

This weekend, we decided to take the entire family for a bicycle ride on the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails. We had another event we wanted to attend up in that area, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so! Plus it is only about 20 minute from Ephrata or 40 minutes from Lancaster city!

Research Online Before You Go

lebanon valley rails to trails printable map with kids

  1. We visited the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails website. We thought it would be fun to ride and then at the end of the ride, surprise the kids by stopping at the Jigger Shop for ice cream! As we looked at the map, it seemed a little far to start at the Root Beer Barrel and ride over to Mt. Gretna with our small children (ages 2, 4 and 6), but we wanted to try it anyway!
  2. We checked the elevation and the grade of the trail on Google Maps to see what would work best for our family. We wanted to make sure they had enough energy to end the trip well. We were excited to find that the last part of that trip would be downhill!
  3. We couldn’t remember how far our kids would ride until they hit their break point, so we mapped the trail on Google to determine the distance. Then we mapped the distance of the Ephrata Rails to Trails that we did a few weeks ago. We determined that we thought our kids could easily do a 4 mile bike ride, with breaks and snacks of course.

Have the Kids Help Prepare for Your Ride

The morning of our ride, we told the kids what we were doing. They were so excited!

It always helps to get them involved and give them ownership in your family’s chores and your fun outings. We had our kids help prepare lunches, water bottles, and snacks. They also helped load the car with helmets, bicycles, and backpacks.

My six-year old made everyone peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, our four-year-old filled the water bottles, and my two-year-old did quick errands to go get me diapers or whatever else I needed in the house (or he just played). He’s two – so that’s ok! 🙂

We filled ourselves with a healthy and hearty breakfast of egg, ham and cheese sandwiches, orange juice, fresh fruit and sausage links. I always feel the worst thing on a trip is if someone says “I’m hungry” only a few minutes after you leave. So I tried as hard as I could to avoid this, and it worked!

Where to Arrive at the Trails & What to Expect

root beer barrel parking lot along the rails to trails

We parked at the Root Beer Barrel. It is a nice size parking lot, and has a porta-pot, which is a necessity with kids before you start your ride! After everyone took their turn, and put on their helmets, we set off for our ride.

To be honest, we had a little bit of a hiccup as we were putting the helmets on. It was easy to tell that the Dora helmet was my daughter’s, but we got the Hot Wheels helmet and the Spiderman helmets mixed up. So, we got it resolved as to who was whose, and then we were off! Maybe if we get them unique and memorable helmets like these, we won’t get them mixed up next time. 🙂

We started the ride very strong. I couldn’t believe how fast my kids could ride! Even my four-year-old with her training wheels thought it was a breeze and was hard to keep up with at times.

I thought the trail would all be paved, but it wasn’t. That didn’t seem to hold the kids back though!

roswheel bicycle cell phone bag

You can see the gravel in this photo. It was really easy to ride on.

By the way, I highly recommend getting one of these Roswheel Cell Phone Bags for your bicycle. This made it very easy to keep my cell phone accessible, if I needed to check the time or wanted to quickly stop and take a photo. The best part is, you can find them on Amazon for as low as $.01 plus shipping!

5 Things I Noticed About Riding the Trails with Kids

  1. It was an educational experience. The trail had dozens of signs and helpful information about the history of the trail and different vegetation or trees that you passed. These made excellent natural breaking points.Obviously our six-year old was more interest in learning from them than our two year old was, but I also noticed that it was a good break point for us adults too. It kept our minds learning and growing, and away from focusing on any whining that may have been happening.lebanon valley rails to trails learning history with kids
  2. Be prepared to take lots of breaks. And when I say lots, I mean lots!:) If your goal is to get a workout and do a lot of riding, you might want to consider changing your mindset and save the workout for another time. Plan to ride slow and enjoy the fresh air.My husband wore his Platypus Hydration Backpack, which helped to make stops a little less in length. He could easily pull his bicycle next to my daughter (the one who was constantly thirsty!) and let her take a quick sip of the water, without even opening his bag.

    lebanon valley rails to trails bicycle ride with kids

    Taking breaks every 10-15 minutes, or constantly hearing kids saying “I can’t do it” or “Can we take another break?” or “Are we there yet?” is not easy. Prepare yourself mentally and come with extra patience. Plenty of extra patience!

    I found it helpful to remind myself of the joys I was having with my kids and the memories we were making. Our purpose was to have fun and enjoy God’s nature. They were going to remember the ride and the time together, NOT the complaining, tiredness and whining. And honestly, it won’t be long until that’s all you’ll remember too!

  3. We did not pass or meet a single unhappy or rude person on that trail. I was so impressed with everyone who passed us. They were all friendly and helpful. They understood we were riding with children and they were not bothered by us being on the trail together as a family. (We were always careful to pull over to the right side, and often stopped to let people pass.) Even the quiet passers-by were smiling at us.
  4. It was a 90 degree day the day we went, but you never would have known it. The trail is almost completely covered in shade, with tall trees on both sides of the trail. That kept it cool and as you ride you get a nice breeze flowing over you.
  5. There is always something unique to see. It never occured to me that you could go horseback riding on the trails, but while we were biking back to our car, we passed two ladies riding horseback! I’m sure you can’t even imagine how thrilled our children were to pass a horsey. Of course they all want to go horseback riding on the trails now!

Riding off the Trails and On Back Country Roads

riding lebanon valley rails to trails with kids

As I mentioned earlier, we had planned to visit a friend of my husband’s during our visit. In order to get to their house however, we had to ride off the trail and on the roads. I’ll be honest, this made me nervous. Riding on a road with kids, just wasn’t my cup of tea.

However, I will tell you, if you have to do it too, it wasn’t that bad! The roads that we were on, were back roads and were not heavily traveled. We road about 1 mile on back roads and only 4-5 cars passed us the entire time!

Change of Plans – Stay flexible!

By the time we returned to the Root Beer Barrel we had already rode about 5-6 miles. We had a good lunch and we thought we could definitely handle continuing on the trail and riding to the Jigger Shop like originally planned, but we ended up deciding not to this time. Since we started at 9am and it was about 1pm, we figured we better not push our limit.

I think we made a good decision. We were probably about 5-10 minutes into the ride home, and we suddenly realized it was really quiet. This is what we saw! All the riding must have really tired them out!

riding the trails tuckers your kids out

It’s then that you find yourselves in the predicament as a parent. “Our kids are asleep, it will probably last about an hour, what do we do?”

Being the frugal-minded parents we are, we immediately tried to think, “what can we do in Lancaster County that is fun, free and good to do on a hot day?”

We considered splurging and visiting Woodcrest Retreat pool since we just learned the gigantic slide is included in the cost of your pool admission. But you’ll never guess what we ended up doing! I’ll be sharing it on the blog next week. 🙂

Bicycle Riding the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails with Kids

Lancaster’s 1st Baby Shower: Saturday, July 23, 2016 at the Lancaster Host

When I was first contacted about promoting the Lancaster 1st Baby Shower, I wasn’t exactly sure what it was. I thought it sounded like an exciting event, but I wasn’t as personally connected to it since I consider myself as exiting the ‘baby stage’.

However, as I have been following the growing vendor list, I have been really impressed! It is more than just an event for new moms or pregnant moms. You should see the things they have planned!

Lancaster's First Baby Shower

What does the event entail?

First things first, it’s FREE. With FREE admission, FREE parking and FREE Turkey Hill gelatos and drinks. There is even a kids play area to keep your kids occupied.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.42.20 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.42.04 PM

 The event will showcase local businesses that offer products and/or services for young and expecting families. It is for anyone with young children, anyone starting a family, anyone thinking of starting a family, parents, grandparents, and caregivers. It would also be a perfect event to attend if you have a friend who is going to be having a baby and/or will be attending a baby shower in the near future!

There will be giveaways, special salesdrawings and raffles for some of the hottest new baby gear and activities available!

What vendors will be participating?

I don’t know about you, but I was pretty impressed with the unique variety of vendors at Lancaster’s 1st Baby Shower. Here are photos featuring a few of them, many I have never seen or heard of before—and I’m sure many would welcome the opportunity to talk to some of the product’s creators directly!

You can read more about each business on the Life’s Phases blog.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.37.19 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.37.46 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.38.23 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.38.40 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.38.51 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.39.10 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.40.04 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.40.24 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.40.42 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.40.57 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.41.26 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.42.38 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.42.58 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.43.38 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.46.05 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.46.24 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 8.47.17 PM

When and where is it?

Mark your calendars for Saturday July 23, 2016 from 10-2pm at the Lancaster Host Resort located at 2300 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA 17602.

It is FREE and there is FREE parking so you don’t need to remember to take an admission ticket with you.

Be sure to register as GOING on their event page, so you are sent automatic reminders from Facebook on the day of the event. You’ll also get important updates and a chance to win 10 free raffle tickets at Lancaster’s 1st Baby Shower event!! Raffles include gift certificates and some pretty cool products. Tag all your friends, and if your name is chosen, they will each receive 5 free raffle tickets as well!!

(Winner will be announced Saturday Morning July 23rd. Winner(s) must attend event to receive raffle tickets.)

FREE Roller Skating at Castle Roller Skating

Ok, so I knew there was a way to sign up for FREE bowling for kids, but I never knew there was a FREE Skate Program for kids too!

kids skate free at castle roller skating rink
You can sign up for FREE skating paces at The Castle Rollering Skating Rink for your child.

Listed below are all the hours that the Kids Skate Free passes are accepted at The Castle Roller Skating!
Tuesday: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
Wednesday: 6:30pm – 9:00pm
Friday: 7:30pm – 10:00pm
Saturday: 2:00pm – 5:00pm

Important Terms:
Passes valid for children 14 years old and younger. Quad Rentals – $3.00 / Inlines – $5.00 Cannot be combined with any other offers. Rentals not included. Not valid for special event sessions.

Once you submit your registration you can print your weekly passes through a link they give you. You may go back to that page any time by clicking on the “Passes” link in the menu.

If you need to change your mailing address, email address, or password at any time, simply click on the “Settings” link.

Water Splash Pads and Wading Pools in and around Lancaster County

Splash Pads and wading pools summer water fun free in lancaster county

Sixth Ward Wading Pool and Splash Pool

Sixth Ward Park (photo courtesy LancasterOnline http://bit.ly/29C574t)

free summer water wading pool lancaster

Rodney Park

Lancaster Rec Wading PoolsSixth Ward, Buchanon (wading pool only), King Elementary (on South Duke Street) and Rodney Parks. Open from 12 noon to 4:30pm from mid-June until the beginning of August. Children 6-14 can be left under supervised care if registered. Enjoy a FREE, nutritious lunch and snack at all playground sites daily. Lunch times vary between 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. depending on the location. Register on-site at the playground nearest you any day playgrounds are in session. (Program also includes Farnum, and Reservoir Playgrounds.)

free red lion splash pad summer water fun in lancaster, pa

Fairmount Park – This splash pad is in Red Lion, about 40 minutes from Lancaster (or 50 minutes from Ephrata/Lititz). It is open from 9am to 8pm, daily.

binn's park summer water fun dancing fountain in lancaster city

Binn’s Park

Binn’s Park – This is a dancing fountain in downtown Lancaster. Children can run through the fountains. There is no wading pool. Central Market is nearby where you can buy lunch if desired.

Middlesex Township Splash Pad

Middlesex Township

Middlesex Township – This is a splash pad in Carlisle (about an hour away from Lancaster and Ephrata areas). It operates from 10:30am to 7pm every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Groups larger than 10 people must notify township two weeks before your visit. Please read the rules on their website.

fountain of youth summer spray park free fun

Fountain of Youth Spray Park

Fountain of Youth Spray Park – Splash pad at 255 Manatawny St, Pottstown (1 hour from Lancaster, 50 minutes from Ephrata).

11th & Pike Playground – Splash pad at 1401 N 11th St, Reading, PA (30 minutes from Ephrata, 45 minutes from Lancaster, 50 minutes from Mt Joy or Willow Street). Just opened in May 2016!

Grange Splash Park Reading Pennsylvania

Grange Splash Park (this is under construction) – Splash pad will be at 360 Grange Road, Allentown, PA (1 hour from Ephrata, 1 hour and 12 minutes from Lancaster).

 

You might also be interested in . . . 

15 Before Naptime Trips You May Not Have Known About in Lancaster County, PA Ways to Beat the Heat in Lancaster County with Kids Lancaster County Playground Map

frugal lancaster email newsletter sign up updates

I Saw My Grandma Smile Today

great-grandma edited

I saw my grandma smile today.

I haven’t seen my grandma smile in five or six years. I haven’t even heard her talk or had a conversation with her.

But today, I saw her smile the biggest most genuine smile I have ever seen!

My grandma is 90 years old. My grandma has dementia.

A Bag Full of Stuffed Animals

In an effort to declutter our house, I have been selling things at yardsales, consignment sales, on eBay, and making donations to reuzit shops. But as I’ve been going through the kids stuff, I felt there had to be a better purpose for all the little stuffed animals we have accumulated over the years.

I stuffed all the little teddy bears and smaller animals in a big black garbage bag. It set in our basement for months. And then I had an idea!

Why not let the kids pick a stuffed animal to give away the next time we visit great-grandma?!

So today, we went down to the basement, and I told the kids what we were going to do. I opened up the bag and they each dug through it, finding just the one they wanted to give away. We closed the bag, saving the rest for another time, and went on our way.

The Drive To See Great-Grandma

As we drove we talked about the animals and how we were going to give them to one of great-grandma’s friends. How it was going to bless someone’s day and make them smile. I asked them to start saying goodbye to their animals, as we approached the home. (Let’s face it, when you have toddlers and preschoolers, you know you have to prepare them in order to avoid a potential emotional breakdown. We are all human!)

With our animals in hand, we walked into the dementia unit and found great-grandma sitting in the common area in her wheelchair. She was sitting with the other residents, yet all alone, staring into space.

As we approached her, I knelt down to her level and said “Hello Grandma! I am Kathy, you’re granddaughter.”

My four-year-old daughter was so excited to show her the bunny she picked out. She immediately held it in front of my grandma’s face and THAT IS WHEN IT HAPPENED!

She smiled.

Not just a grin. In fact, not just a smile. It was a big old-fashioned, mouth open-wide smile. From ear to ear, with her eyes smiling too. I don’t think she had her dentures in, so you can imagine how it was just the hugest smile!

My daughter’s face beamed with delight.

Talking to Great-Grandma

I first had each of my kids introduce themselves. This is when it usually gets awkward for me. You don’t know what else to say. You don’t know if they can hear you or understand you. You feel like you look silly and are talking to nobody. But you try to put all that aside, and know that you are there out of love and obedience. The Bible does say to take care of widows, right?

We started to sing “Jesus loves me.” I figure if dementia patients can remember anything, its probably from their childhood, and more than likely a song or something they heard often as a child. As we sang she stared at us, and every so often would close her eyes, as if it was peaceful to her.

After we finished singing, I said, “Grandma, I almost thought we were going to put you to sleep.” She closed her eyes, and didn’t open them again while we were there. We said goodbye, and I asked my oldest son to find someone he wanted to give his teddy bear to. We had decided on the way in that my daughter would give her bunny to great-grandma and my sons would find someone else to bless.

Searching for Someone Else To Bless

He immediately knew which gentleman he wanted to give his teddy bear to. A tall, slender man in a long wheelchair, hunched a little bit over. He had been next to great-grandma when we arrived but was wheeled away because his buzzer kept beeping. He held his mouth open wide, and didn’t look at anyone. There was a caretaker with him sitting at a table.

I explained to the caretaker what we were doing and she thought it was wonderful. My six-year-old handed him the teddy bear, and the man lifted his head up and half-smiled. We think he tried to shake my son’s hand too. I guided my son to tell him, “I wanted to give this to you. I hope it blesses your day.”

The caretaker thanked us, and said that his wife would be so happy to see his new gift. That alone touched my heart. To think of the spouse, and how we not only were touching the lives of the dementia patients, but their spouses and family too!

My Two-Year Old Surprised Me

It was then my two-year-old’s turn. He was a little shy, so we helped him pick someone. As we were searching, the caretaker tapped us on the shoulder and pointed to an old lady, hunched over in her chair with her head down. “She loves stuffed animals,” the caretaker said.

To be honest, I had seen the lady earlier and figured she might not be the best candidate for my kids. She seemed extra solitary, and to herself. I didn’t know how she would respond, or if she would even look at us.

To my surprise, my two-year-old opened up when we reached her. He immediately handed her the little tiger he had picked out, and set it in her lap. She almost scared us, as she started clapping and made a little yelp when he gave it to her.

As I watched my children’s eyes and faces, I could tell they were thrilled at her response. “We hope it blesses your day,” they said.

The Dementia Patients Touched My Son’s Heart

As we were walking out of the dementia unit, my six-year-old brought tears to my eyes. “Mommy, we should bring one for everyone!”

It had never occurred to me to bring the whole bag and give them all away today. What a brilliant and thoughtful idea. I was touched.

Visiting the Dementia Unit is Hard

It is tough stuff.

Especially if one of the patients is someone you know.

Preceding our visit, I had often thought about asking the receptionist if there was another area of the home we could visit. So that when my kids would give the gift they could talk to the elderly person and have a conversation. I thought it would be more meaningful. And they would understand it better. They would hear the words “thank you”, and know the person was thankful to receive it.

But I am so glad we visited the dementia unit, and instead faced my fears. I may have felt awkward in the dementia unit, but my kids did not. They didn’t feel embarrassment or awkwardness. They could only feel love. I think to them, they were having a conversation with the patients. And even though they didn’t hear a “thank you”, they felt it.

I saw my grandma smile today.

My children saw their great-grandma smile.

We made a difference.

We were blessed!

I Tried Something New Again . . . DIY Cake Stand for Only $2!

$2 DIY Cake Stand

Lately, I have been challenging myself to try new things like public speaking, reading books I thought I wouldn’t, making my own yogurt, and printing my own wall art. I have fallen in love with the excitement and motivation that stepping out of my comfort zone brings me! I’m not always good at them, but it is surprising how often I am impressed and pleased with the results.

This week I had a random idea to make a cake stand for next to my sink. I thought, “hey, I can make one for pretty cheap!” I figured I probably wasn’t the only one to think of the idea, so I searched pinterest, and sure enough there was tons of inspiration and ideas to help guide me in making my own frugal cake stand.

I ended up going to the Dollar Tree with my daughter one evening, and found the perfect plate and candlestick. Let me tell you, I searched high and low throughout the entire store until I found what I wanted. I was beginning to lose hope, but then sure enough, on the very bottom row and in the back of the shelf behind other plates, I found the plate I was looking for!!

There were only three left. Praise the Lord I found it! The whole experience made me think of how my husband always jokes,

“you always find what you are looking for in the last place you look”.

What You Should Definitely NOT Do!

Here are the products I bought and used:

diy cakestand

I started by gluing the candlestick to the plate and letting it dry while I put the kids to bed. Yes, I was so excited to tackle this new challenge, I just had to start right away!

After the kids were in bed, I made sure the glue seemed dry and then moved outside to spray paint. I was excited that as I started spray painting, I realized the plate was a perfect color match to my spray paint. I only needed to paint the candlestick and the bottom of the plate. Woohoo!

I sprayed many light passes over the candlestick, turning it regularly, so the paint didn’t run. It was a kind of slow process, but it turned out well. I think if I were to do it again I might consider painting the candlestick first, and then gluing it to the plate.

Then the disappointing thing happened.

After I was completely finished, I carefully moved it and the candlestick separated from the plate! Ugh.

I talked to my husband and he reassured me that hot glue would not adhere properly between the glass and ceramic. He thought I should buy something like Weldbond. I have it temporarily hot glued again until the Weldbond arrives in the mail, but I’ll let you know how that holds out!

IMG_3947

A $2 DIY Cake Stand!

I am very pleased with the final piece. For only $2 (since I had the spray paint from another project), I think it adds a unique element to my kitchen. It is one of those things that just makes me happy when I look at it, and makes me want to clean some more. That means a lot, considering I used to hate cleaning!

I am still madly in love with the design on the top of the plate, and I might just go back and buy another one or two, before they are all sold out!

There were many other plate options at the Dollar Tree. Some of them were ceramic and some were not. Some were unique colors and I almost ended up purchasing one that had a really unique chevron pattern and color on it!

As far as candlesticks go, there weren’t many other options. You could use a stem glass instead of a candlestick to get a different look though.

Have you been trying new things?

And challenging yourself to step out of your comfort zone? If not, what’s holding you back? Give it a try and let me know what you do, where you go or what you make. I’d love to celebrate in your excitement with you!

And don’t be afraid to try a crazy color if you are painting—I’m still madly in love with my very bold and blue chairs that I painted last yearAll that really matters is if it brings YOU joy!

**If you’re wondering about the Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap and the other cleaning products pictured, you can read more about them and how I used to hate cleaning here.

You might also be interested in:

howtoprintyourownwallartforlessthan2FREEDecorating with Chalkboard Labels in Your Home