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We Let Our Baby Cry It Out, and 10 Years Later, This Is What Happened

By Gen Cohen

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The 48 Best Noncandy Valentine Ideas For Kids

By Gen Cohen

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18 Easy Christmas Crafts, Ornaments and Gifts

By Gen Cohen

This list is popping with inspiration, just like our fun kids' sunglasses are popping with color, and they fit perfectly under the tree, too! Check out our blue color changing sunglasses that will delight kids of all ages! Cute Christmas ornament crafts and gifts kids can make from our favorite craft blogs. 

Tags: Crafts, Christmas

By Lauren Passell

Soft Ball
Use up leftover fabric to make these unique ornaments from Everyday Beautiful. No two will be the same!

Photo Frenzy
If you want to take your snapshots to the next level, whip up these memory globes from Little Pink Monster, perfect for your mantle or as a gift for grandparents. Kids will love picking out photos and decorating their own.

Shoe In
Did you know you can make advent calendar out of a hanging shoe rack? Start collecting odds and ends to create this countdown-to-Christmas door decoration from Whimsy Love.

Can It
Tin cans are transformed into gorgeous, vintage-y looking ornaments in this easy project from Salsa Pie. Perfect to give to Grandma!

Pony Up
Here's a DIY craft for pony lovers! This felt pony farm from Smashed Peas and Carrots can be folded up so it's perfect for on-the-go. And her pony collection fits perfectly in the side pockets.

Have a Ball
For an easy project you can make from what you have in your recycling bin, try one of these pretty paper bulbs from How About Orange. Use wrapping paper or magazine pages to make the ornaments pop even more.

Jingle All The Way
These cute jingle bell hair clips from Little Pink Monster are fun to make and even more fun to wear. They're perfect for Christmas parties or to wear all season lon

Sweet!
Using real candies and yarn, you can brighten up the Christmas tree (or any nook in your house that needs some holiday cheer) with this sweet crocheted candy garland from Dollar Store Crafts.

Pin-Up
Old fashioned clothespins make great ornaments, and they only cost a few pennies each. These angel ornaments from Dollar Store Crafts can be decorated any way your kids can think up.

Stockings in a Flash
These stockings from Prudent Baby look like they're straight out of a catalog, but they can be whipped up in 15 minutes and require minimal sewing skills. 

Tag, You're It
These personalized photo gift tags from Fireflies and Jelly Beans are so cool they might get more attention than the gift. Use brown grocery bag for a vintage look.

Scrap That
Using fabrics scraps, you can make these pretty handmade notes from Smashed Peas and Carrots for a heartfelt way to say "Happy Holidays" or "Thank You".

Snow Daze
If subtle cheer is more your holiday style, try making these wooden snowflake ornamentsfrom The Crafty Crow. They're minimalist chic and easy to make.

Home Sweet Home
Here’s a sweet idea from Dollar Store Crafts: Pick up porcelain houses for a buck each at the craft store to make a pretty painted Christmas village. Kids will love adding their own touches, like feathers, glitter and fur.

Tech Cozy
Here's something kids can make for Dad that will bring back fond memories. This Etch-a-Sketch iPad cozy from Smashed Peas and Carrots is practical and will bring back memories of the days when he was writing Santa.

Tree Huggers
These ribbon trees from Fireflies and Jelly Beans are super easy to create, and make a big cheery focal point for your home. Make one or a whole forest, and don't forget the Christmas table centerpiece!

Take Note
These cute, colorful notebooks from the craft blog Whimsy Love, made from leftover paint chips, make great stocking stuffers.

Say Cheese!
We love to get Christmas cards in the mail, and these homemade photo ornaments from Fireflies and Jelly Beans are a great way to re-use them instead of throwing them away. Paste on a family pic to make it even more personal.

Gumdrop Snowflakes
Use your favorite gumdrop colors to make fun paterned snowflakes with toothpicks. 

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11 Ways to Save on After-School Activities

By Gen Cohen

Going broke funding your kid's extracurricular activities? Try these 11 tips on how to spend less on after-school extracurricular activities.

 

1. Register early

Fill out your child's registration paperwork and pay the fees as early as possible. Some organizations give a discount for early registration, and registering early gives you time to prepare for the activity so that you can accommodate it into your budget without last minute surprise expenses, says Clare K. Levison, author of Frugal Isn't Cheap: Spend Less, Save More, and Live Better. Another reason to get your child enrolled early: you don't have to worry about forgetting to do it in time and then having to pay a late registration fee!

2. Ask for a discount

Some activities offer a multi-child or sibling discount, but you may not get it if you don't ask. Even if you only have one child participating in the program, check if there are any other discounts for which your child or family might qualify. You never know. A program may give a small percentage off if you or your spouse are military or law enforcement, or if your child is on the honor roll at school. "It never hurts to ask for a discount because every little bit helps," Levison says.

3. Look for a coupon

Yep, you may be able to find a coupon for your child's baseball team or dance class. "Thanks to sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, there are coupons for just about everything now, including extracurricular activities," says Michael Catania, co-founder of the savings community PromotionCode.org. "Do a quick search for the activity along with the month and year (for example, Pony League Baseball, Las Vegas, August 2016 offers) to see if what discounts might be available before you register," he says. It's also a good idea to look for discount codes when shopping for uniforms, equipment and other required items. Even if it's only a 5 percent off or BOGO offer, those savings add up.

4. Volunteer or barter

Volunteering with the organization can often reduce or remove the participation fees for your child, says consumer and money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. "You can offer to help with bookkeeping, coaching, or cleaning a dance studio, or you could offer your professional skills, whether that be marketing or web design," she says. Whatever you do, it doesn't have to be too time-consuming. It could be as simple as running the concession stands once a week. Every little bit helps, so talk to the program coordinators to see if there are ways you can pitch in while also reducing your child's fees. A couple of bonuses: You get to spend more time with your child doing something he enjoys, and depending on the activity, you may even get in a mini-workout.

5. Do a trial run

It's frustrating and financially draining when your child asks to participate in something, you fork over the cash, and then she begs to quit a couple of weeks later. If you're not sure that your kid will stick with a particular activity, ask if there's a way to try it out before making a full commitment. Some organizations will let your child to attend a class or two on a trial basis. It may be at no cost, or you may have to pay a small fee. Either way, it will give you and your kid time to see if this is really an activity she wants to be involved in, without you having to pay (and possibly lose) the whole fee.

6. Think thrifty

Of course, there are some things that should only be purchased new (such as mouthguards and helmets), but for many other things, secondhand is just as good. Asking family, friends, or neighbors for hand-me-downs is a great way to score gently used items like cleats, uniforms, bats, and art supplies for free or cheap. Buying used can keep more money in your pocketbook too. Check out thrift stores, eBay, Craigslist, yard sales, consignment shops, resellers like Play it Again Sports, or swap sites like SwapMeSports.com. And don't think that buying used means your child will get beat up gear. "A lot of times people try something, decide they don't like it (see above!) and then they have a piece of equipment that's practically brand new that they don't have a use for anymore, so it ends up at a thrift store [or other resale shop]," says Levison.

7. Rent equipment

Rather than paying for instruments, which can be expensive, look into renting. You can likely find rental options locally or through an online dealer. Another possibility: your library. "Some libraries, particularly those in big cities, offer rentals of musical instruments with just your library card," Catania says. Since you obviously won't be able to keep a library rental for the full school year, this option is best when your child is undecided about which instrument she wants to play and trying out different options. Once she's found the instrument she likes, you can look into a long-term rental from a music store or online.

8. Make meals/snacks ahead of time

In addition to the costs of the activity, many families shell out extra cash on food and snacks. Think about it: When you're leaving a long day at work and then heading to this or that practice or game, the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove. So you load up on snacks at the concession stand or grab takeout on the way home—and increase your spending. "Usuallly we find we spend too much money when we find ourselves in a time crunch," Levison says. "So if you can plan your meals ahead, do your shopping at the beginning of the week, and plan easy but healthy meals on the nights you have activities, it can save a lot of time and money." 

9. Save on gas

Another area that many parents don't factor into their budget with extracurricular activities is the added travel expenses. "Organize carpools with other parents and take turns driving to practices, games, and performances," Woroch says. Since everyone's schedule is likely to be busy, reach out to others to try to create a game plan as early in the season as possible. When it's your turn to drive, make sure you save on gas. "Start off by finding the lowest local prices with an app like Gas Buddy—a crowd-sourced app that offers near up-to-the-minute gas prices sorted by zip code," Catania says. And most gas stations have affiliations with credit cards and grocery stores, so if you carry a card or shop at a specific store, look to see if it can help you lower your fuel expenses.

10. Skip the add-ons

Just because your child participates in an activity doesn't mean he has to have every little item the team offers for sale. "Professional photos, videos, and extra shirts are fun to have, but the costs can really add up," Levison says. So pass on things that aren't necessities. You can take your own photos or videos, and skip the team shirts for mom and dad and show your support by wearing the team colors instead. 

11. Just say "no" 

If your kid wants to do football, soccer and swim, you may have to give him a choice. "I think we tend to want to sign our kids up for a lot of organized activities these days, but you don't have to go overboard, especially if it's affecting your finances," Levison says. Limit your child to one activity per season, and tell him to choose the one he wants to do most. If he has an interest in something else, he can do it at home or find a community center that is more affordable than, says, private art lessons. Sure, there may be some whining (or even tears), but you have to do what's right for your financial situation. And, add Levinson, this is a good opportunity to something else that's beneficial to your child: have a conversation about budgets and the cost of activities.

 

With savings like these, you can treat you and your kiddos to rad rosmbo shades! While your kids are out playing, make sure their eyes are safe! Added bonus that our shades are unbreakable.

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When Do Signs of Autism Appear?

By Gen Cohen

Uncovering the Early Signs of Autism

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