Enjoyed Summer by Staying Home

Many families were trying to find things to do this summer with their kids, myself included, but the one thing that I noticed we did more of was playing games. We played board games, card games, outside games in the pool and different sport games, and yes, the very popular video games. I would venture to say that our game playing was at it’s all time high this summer! Our favorite game was our Wii system. We got some exercise in, drove a little, battled each other in strength and knowledge and had a great time growing as a family. We enjoy playing video games at home because other than the cost of a game, or even a rental from our favorite Family Video, and yes, we even took a few games out from our local library, the cost involved was very minimal overall. I was contacted by Performance Designed Products to have our family test out a few products and see how they enhanced our game play. PDP is a top name in video game accessories and has several products to keep kids entertained all summer and winter long.

As you may know from playing your own Wii games, the batteries in the controllers are eaten up so quickly. I was changing the batteries at least two to three times a month! Yes, we used our system a lot! When I received the Energizer 4X Charge Station for Wii controllers (retails for approximately $39.99) I was thrilled and excited beyond words! I don’t have to keep a stock of AA batteries in my house at all times. It is the simplest product to use. All you do is plug it in, replace your regular batteries with included rechargeable batteries and slide the controllers in the openings. The red/orange light means it is charging and the green light means its fully charged. It is the best recharging station that I have ever used. The other charging station that we received was the 2X Induction Charge Station (retails for approximately $49.99). This was another amazing little product because our old charging station did not allow for us to keep our silicone sleeves on, making charging the controllers a royal pain in the butt because we had to keep putting on and taking off that sleeve. Again, all you need to do is plug it in and put the controllers in the base and watch the lights change colors from uncharged to charged!

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My family game night fun only just begun as the kids got to open their testable products. PDP has a NERF line of products and the kids were having a blast playing with those! I think I may need to get two more sets though! The kids have to take turns using the NERF products but I have found that the fighting over the product hasn’t even started! They are surprisingly taking what they learned in preschool about sharing and are putting it to action with these products. The NERF Sports Pack (retails for $19.99) comes with a fun add-ons for Baseball, Golf, and Tennis. Within the handle of the pack you place your Wii controller and then simply attach it to which ever sport accessory you are playing at the time. I thought it would be difficult for the kids to take apart and change but they seem to have figured it out better than me! Driving has never been more fun with NERF’s driving wheel (retails for $9.99). It is made using that special NERF foam, gosh I love that foam. I think that NERF foam is loved by all, really, who doesn’t love NERF foam products? Each kid gave their thumbs up to these sporty accessories!

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My son was over the moon with his Transformer DS kit (retails for $19.99). The kit comes with it’s armor, that wraps or encases the Nintendo DS to protect it from elements and those endless, “Oops, I dropped it” moments. It also comes with a “really cool” matching stylus. He takes his DS everywhere and I am so glad that he loves this kit. If you have a child who is constantly dropping their system, you really need to pick one of these up! It also comes in the “Bumblebee” style.

All in all the products that we (myself and my three children) tested exceeded our expectations. I loved the recharging systems while the kids loved the NERF Wii and Nintendo DS products. It was a happy medium and completely helped in making our game nights more fun! Just knowing we had controllers that worked was all I needed![

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Our fun doesn’t stop here though because we are going to be giving away some of the same products to one lucky reader! The details for this giveaway will be posted on Monday. Moms With A View and PDP will be giving away the following products: – NERF Racing Wheel, – NERF Sports Pack, – Transformers Stylus and Armor, and the – Energizer Induction Charger. Get your camera’s ready so you can share with us how you spent your summer!

Talking to kids about money

In light of the current economic turn, have you discussed how to handle money with your children? I was thinking back to when I was younger and that topic of money and the family budget was never discussed. We just always assumed we were rich! Well, at 7 years old in the early 70’s anything over a dollar made you rich! We were never really taught to ‘save’ our money. It wasn’t until I wanted to get married that I really learned how to budget and that was because we had to pay for our own wedding. We had to come up with $18,000.00 on our own. That meant, everything we made went right into our wedding fund. So that got me thinking. Two months ago we sat down with the kids and explained our situation to them. We told that that things were going to change and that they were going to start to see the changes. That meant, no more fast food just because, that meant, no more going to the movies on the first day it opened, that meant, no expensive clothing, that meant, if we went into a store, they would not be leaving with anything other than the food we went in to go and get. It was a lot for them to take in, but they have adjusted beautifully! When we go out, I tell them, the only way they can buy something is if they buy it with their own money.

My oldest who is now 11 saves her money and really puts a lot of thought into whether or not she wants to buy something. Half the time she puts what she ‘thought’ she ‘wanted’ back because then she won’t have as much money. You can totally see the wheels turning when she realizes she won’t have as much money and it really makes me proud to see that she has started to determine a want from a need at such an early age. Perhaps if I was taught that at her age, I wouldn’t be in this situation I am currently in.

My son on the other hand is going to be 8 and he still wants things right then and there. However, he knows that he doesn’t have the money because he can’t save any money over $5.00 without spending it. I am consistent with him and I hope that he too will catch on that you can’t always get what you want when you want it and that you do have to save for things that are important to you. That he too will be able to to determine a want from a need.

My youngest amazes me too! She is going to be 5 and when we go out, she picks up things left and right, holds them through out the store and when it is time to leave, I have told her we are not getting that about 5 times and as we approach the registers she very nicely tells me that maybe Santa can get that for her, to which I reply with a simple, “maybe”.

What have been the conversations like with your children? Are you open with your family budget to a degree that they will understand? We currently have two “Family Fund” jars on our kitchen counter and what ever loose change the kids find laying around, they decide which “Fund” is more important to them and put the money in it to some day be able to go into the store and purchase exactly what they have saved up for. One fund is to redecorate their bathroom (we have a babyish looking bathroom that does need updating now that they are not babies) and they have already picked out what they want to decorate with! The other is for a dinner at our favorite restaurant, Texas Roadhouse! We love their food and it always costs us an arm and leg when we have been able to go. By saving and working as a family for two things that we ‘want’ to do, it is bringing us closer together and the kids are playing an active role in the family budget and they too have a sense of pride when we reach our goals.

Future Young Hollywood Star?

My oldest daughter wants to be a singer, actress, designer, anything that is in the entertainment or creative areas, she wants to do it. Believe me when I say, she can be whatever she wants. She walks around the house singing all the time and she does have such a beautiful voice for an eleven year old. We wrote an original song but without music it lacks something, so she was covering other singers. Check out this video and tell me honestly what you think…being her mom, I am biased. 🙂

My Little Fishy

My youngest daughter never ceases to amaze me. She learned how to ride a regular bike with no training wheels all by herself in one day at 4.5 years old and now almost 5 (two weeks to go to make that official) she is swimming on her own. She self taught herself! My other two kids took so long to ride a bike and swim that this one just blows me away. Of course, when mom is not physically in the pool she is wearing a life vest and only swims with out one when mom is there to protect her.

Settle my bankruptcy confusion

This topic has my mind so boggled! I have done my fair share of reading on the bankruptcy topic only to be left more and more confused each time I think I’ve nailed it. While watching the Suze Orman show on Saturday night, a comment was made, and I can’t recall the word for word, but this was the jist of it. If your debt equals your income, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. *Please correct me if I’m wrong with that interpretation of the show* As hard as it is to grasp, yes, we are hugely in debt. How did it happen, I have no idea. Seems really sad in a odd way that I have no idea where our money went over the last two years. Yes, there was a couple layoffs that ate our savings and now we are left living paycheck to paycheck with nothing to spare. No, we did not plan right after we got married. Yes, we furnished our home, had three kids, bought and sold cars left and right, bought and sold two houses, you know, the typical American family who wanted it all right now and didn’t figure out how to pay for it until it was too late. We were in debt about 25,000.00 a couple years ago. Made a bad decision to take out a home equity loan to pay off that debt. Now two years later, we are worse off than we were before, about three times that to be honest. That my friends is NO way to live. We are, to put it bluntly, pretty much screwed. Now we are left to pick up the pieces and try and figure out where to go from here. We are both 40 with no savings and no retirement plans.

This whole thing is so terribly confusing to me. Do we settle with our credit card companies? Is it even possible to do that with NO savings to pay them off? Do we file bankruptcy and if so, which one? We most definitely can afford our house payments if we didn’t have all this flippin credit card debt. I just filled out an evaluation for assistance form with our mortgage company, so I will be waiting to hear what they come back and tell me. I went to the site that Ms. Suze Orman mentions, www.makinghomeaffordable.gov and found my mortgage carrier, followed their instructions for assistance and now we just wait to see what our fate will be.

Of course we want to pay our debts back if we can. After all, we got ourselves into this mess, it is our responsibility to get ourselves out of it, I just don’t know how right now. I think bankruptcy is a quick fix, but if it is our only option, we will do it. My husband works so hard at his job (drywall taper/finisher) as it is very labor intensive and many guys don’t last doing this position past 50. With one child left to enter kindergarten this year, my time to work is very limited. I work from home as I have my own business, but unless things start changing, I will have to get a job in the evenings outside of the home which I am totally willing to do.

All the chapters in my life, I never thought I’d have to settle with a 7, 11 or 13!