For the love of savings

                                                           Image Awe Love, Who loves to save money? Just about everyone right?

Well I’m the frugal mama and you know I do! I do, I do, I do so much so,  that I want to put a ring on savings and marry them! I refuse to spend a lot of money on what is really a half a day, by the time you wake up and get the kids going , on chocolate hearts, and pink flowers. Valentine’s Day is just another day for mom’s to get creative and keep money in your wallets. Last minute gifts can be thoughtful, just personalize them and make them colorful! Kids can create cards at home with a little card stock, glitter glue, markers or crayons that can all be purchased at the 99cent only or Dollar Tree stores! They even have name brand items like Elmer’s glue for quality that will last you into the next holiday and school project. Did it slip your mind to grab something for your child’s teacher, your best friend, mom , pastor or hey, even for Mr.Wonderful?

Never fear, there are discount stores in just about every city like the ones above that I spoke of above. Like cupid’s arrow I’m here to save you so your heart will be filled with the love of bargains! Big Lots also has cute, low priced items and if you don’t have time to do a homemade card, they have valentine cards for 30% of the retail prices of other stores. Foe cheapie deals on flowers try your mom & pop florist but not on Valentine’s Day which is the highest priced day but a day before, if you don’t have picky folk that wont turn their noses up if your a day late, buy the day after for even better savings! Flowers will be still be appreciated, after all they smell good and look pretty, who would disagree? A day late but a dollar saved for you! You can also get on my favorite sites: Groupon or Livingsocial which has deals from 1-800-FLOWERS.COM  and ProFlowers and ProPlants for only $15 you get $30 worth of merchandise. 

Chocolates, yummy, rich and creamy chocolates! They can be expensive if your on a Godiva or fancier hype, otherwise you can find some great chocolates that your Valentine will be more than sweet on! Ghiradelli has an outlet in San Leandro and you can find a ton of treats there for less. Retail drug stores like Walgreens also have coupons in their ads for all holiday goodies. Just today I found some last minute Russell Stover chocolate cluster hearts in flavors like red raspberry, and dark chocolate red velvet for only 39cents each with the store coupon! Very thrifty and a nice little something to give the kids or even a treat for yourself.  Another tip is again, buying a day after and most stores have bins with all the same items for 75% off, you can stock up and give to those on a belated note. To me it’s the thought that counts, especially accompanied by a hug and a kiss. If your loved one isn’t into sweets, or roses always try a discount department store like Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, or Ross for a multitude of items including cologne and perfume for way less than Macy’s or Nordstrom. Smells good to me. Enjoy your day of romance and frugality!

Smooches! , Cynthea

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The inability to let go…

Is any parent truly ready for their children to grow up? We say that we are , but do we really mean it? Our kids hear the, “I can’t wait until you start working, start driving, go to college so you can see what real responsibility is about…” We heard the same things from our parents,and as funny as it seems looking back, it hurts to see them grow up. I guess I am a sappy mama. I’m a frugal mama, however I am one of those cry when you take your first photo, when you say a certain word in a certain way, cry at the drop of a  straw hat sensitive kind of mama. I can’t help it, my kids make me feel some kinda way, especially when those milestones surface. I have a pair , a boy and a girl who are 7 whole years apart. The boy is 12 and in true preteen fashion thinks I am corny and “uncool.” Like all young men his age, he gets embarrassed of me when try I to kiss him in front of his friends, or use lovey nicknames that he no longer answers to. I am floored because to me, my kids are still small “little munchkins”, and they are supposed to  want their mommy to do all those syrupy, mushy things, after all “I’m a mom!”

These feelings muster inside of me daily, but what prompted this post was seeing a notification in my local newspaper informing parents of the upcoming kindergarten enrollment times. My daughter graduates from preschool in June and I knew this was coming, but so soon? Next month her dad and I must sign her up officially for regular school ? I immediately started crying, not a full out boo hoo cry, yet tears were flowing and i was overcome with emotion. As I write this , I want to cry! I just had this little person less than 5 years ago and I have to now release her to real elementary school? It’s crazy how one alert , one important milestone can change your perspective on things , or evoke wild emotions that sometimes a mother can not handle. I don’t want her to grow up, yet I applauded her like a cheerleader for walking at 9 months old, saying her first words shortly thereafter and her prowess with her older brother and cousins. I guess I am a swinging pendulum, embracing the changes and wanting to hold on to them. When I see parents pushing  little babies in strollers I tell them, “I wish my kids can shrink back to that size, enjoy your baby, take lots of pictures!” I guess that’s the inability to let go, while tying a pair of little shoelaces.

Fun Frugal Kid Excursions

The East Bay is a prime place for beautiful scenery, diverse culture, and kid-friendly fun! There are five favorite spots that i like to take my two children who are four and twelve years old. Even though they are years apart in age they both have tons of fun and are sleepy in the car on the ride home.These venues are exciting, exhilarating, and best of all, Free. Selecting the time and date you want are as easy as a click of a computer button, or you can go online on your smartphone. Even better, you have me, East Bay Frugal Mama who can give you the 411 on our current favorites!

San Leandro Marina Park                      search-1           

Nestled across from an ample green and tranquil golf course and right along the gorgeous bay San Leandro Marina Park is the place for kids. Lots of green grass for playing soccer, volleyball, or just running in the wind. They have a little kids jungle gym and swing area, picnic areas , where people hold birthday parties year round and a larger play structure for bigger kids. Situated near the larger jungle gym is a wonderful, long bike and walking trail. They even have a new outdoor gym with 24 hour fitness like equipment where frugal mamas can burn a few  calories while letting the kids play until they pass out. Be sure to bring a few dollars for the ice-cream trucks lurking in the parking lots to lure your kids in for a Dora or Spiderman treat.

Berkeley /Ashby Flea Market      530603623_0b6fdba7f8

Berkeley Flea Market as I know it as, is a tradition in our family. It’s a free way of grasping a piece of culture! While we love being out on a nice day browsing the aisles of yard sales, this flea market is the best ! My kids love the African drums booming, dancers swaying , the sights, and the smells of kettle corn, cotton candy, and incense fill noses all around. They have face painters and booths with toys, hard to find novelties and unique crafts or your family to take home that won’t break the bank. My kids usually share a bag of kettle corn while I enjoy the delicious West African food! People watching is the best at this lively flea market and it’s nice that I never hear the word bored from my kids while we walk and enjoy for hours.

San Leandro Public library

The Public library in any city is definitely a go- to place on rainy days. I love to take my kids there any day because it’s free. you can use the computers for free and the books! My four year old daughter loves our neighborhood library ! The preschool story time, puppet and magic shows are great. Check your library newsletter, online, or call for selected dates and times. Shows are performed by local artists and are interactive. They also sometimes provide light snack for the kiddos! The library also offers many other fun, free , events for older kids, including game tournaments, movie nights, and free tutoring. Check websites for interesting monthly activities and themes.

Kids N’ Dance Oakland              1551737_10202403770549886_2122649888_n  

Kids N’ Dance is a cute little dance studio in the lovely Laurel District. I like this school, not only because I grew up in that area, but because the staff is so friendly! The dance teachers are also good and personable. They offer one free trial dance classe in hip hop, pre-ballet , or ballet, gymnastics and more. The drop-in rate is $15 and they have a $48 trial card to try consecutive classes which we used for a whole month! Both girls and boys will love this dance studio! My daughter took classes there and will always remember her first dance lessons. My son is more of an athlete than a dancer and was content to watch his sister’s artsy side. This was great for me, quality classes on a budget! They also offer camps for all ages and discounts if you apply early.

Off the Grid :Friday Nights @ OMCA        

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Last, but certainly not least , the frugal mama has one more place that is a must check out! This is a spot you can go with your spouse, your girlfriends, or as a family! It stands out because its like going on a cool date night with your kids. When I went, that’s exactly what it was! Off the Grid at the Oakland Museum of California is the place to be on a Friday night! There’s live music, a diverse crowd of kids and parents , delicious gourmet food trucks and, it’s free! Well, the food trucks aren’t free, but I tried ” Ahn the Go”, a Vietnamese food truck and spent only $9 on garlic noodles and chicken and fed both of my children! Savings mamas, savings! There is also half price gallery admission and those 18 and under are free. The stage is set with local performers(different each Friday) and it’s just a great night out! They serve local beer and wine and hot chocolate for the kids! This event is year round , every Friday from 5 to 9 pm with selected Fridays offering story time for the kiddos from 6-8pm brought on by the Oakland Public library. Free hands on art workshops, and Maker’s & taster’s series is featured the last Friday of the month which is a treat in itself! We will be back , this Friday is Valentine’s Day what a perfect date for your sweeties!

See you next week with more ideas to help your family, smile while you save! Smooches!!, Cynthea