Rants & Musings

This is a place that allows me to share my thoughts on a variety of topics, not necessarily related to my family, or the challenges we face. These are my thoughts, my feelings, my expressions.

  • Family,  Rants & Musings

    Don’t Allow Sleepovers? Have a Late Night Instead!

    I remember having sleepovers when I was young. I would have them with friends or neighbors once or twice a month. I would be so nervous when asking my mom if I could have a sleepover. When she said yes, I would get so excited that I would jump up and down. It was always so much fun to have them. We would stay up late and be silly. Those were the days!

    Times have changed since then. When my husband and I started having kids, we decided not to allow our kids to have sleepovers. They can have sleepovers at their cousins’ or grandparents’ houses, or their cousins can sleep at our house, but we don’t allow them to have a sleepover with friends. We have our reasons, but I will not get into that.

    Instead of having sleepovers, we let our kids have a “late night.” I am guessing that you may be asking what a late night is. A late night is when our kids invite their friends to come to our house from about 6 pm to about 10-11 pm. They have dinner, watch a movie, play board or card games, and have a good time full of silliness and laughter.

    Late-Night Activity Ideas

    EAT FOOD, LOTS OF FOOD – We always have food at our late nights. We are foodies, so we always have food when people are over. We usually order pizza for the kids, but there have been a few occasions when the kids have made homemade pizzas. They enjoy making their own pizzas. We also have snacks for when they play board or card games or watch a movie.

    PLAY BOARD OR CARD GAMES – The kids love to play board and card games during their late nights. If the weather is warm, they will go outside and play yard or night games. We will set up a volleyball net and let them play volleyball or whatever they want to do with that. If the weather is colder, they will play card games inside. There are so many different card games you can have them choose from. A few of the card games that our kids enjoy playing with their friends are:

    • Moose Master
    • Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza
    • Cover Your Assets
    • Five Crowns
    • Karma

    WATCH A MOVIE – We always have good intentions in having them watch a movie, but we make sure it is kid-appropriate. It seems like they will always start watching a movie, but then they start talking and goofing off and never finish it! For some reason, they still insist on watching a movie every time!

    OTHER FUN ACTIVITIES – You can also do other fun activities. The last time my oldest daughter had a late night, they dipped and decorated strawberries. When my son has a late night, he and his friends like to play video games the entire time. It is one of the times I let them play without a time limit. You can have them paint their nails, play laser tag, decorate cupcakes or cookies, or play night games. It doesn’t need to be elaborate; keep it simple.

    A late night might seem more overwhelming than having a sleepover, but it isn’t. It is such a good opportunity for the kids to socialize with their friends and for you to get to know the friends your kids hang out with.

    The kids always ask to have late nights because they enjoy them, and I don’t feel like they are missing out on anything by not having a sleepover.

    What do you do in your family? If you don’t have sleepovers like us, what do you do to let your kids hang out with their friends? Do you have any ideas other than a late night? If you do, I would love to hear them. Please leave a comment; I would love to hear from you!

  • Family,  Rants & Musings

    3 Summer Rules for Our Summer Vacation

    I don’t know about other families, but in our family, my kids think that summer vacation equals laziness and that they don’t have to do anything. I am unsure where they picked up on that idea, but I want to break them of that habit this summer. To help me break this habit, I have created rules and chores they must follow before being on electronics or hanging out with friends. These include getting ready and doing personal and other chores around the house.

    They need more structure to be more productive this summer than in past summers. They are way past old enough to help me keep the house clean. They should have started helping me with the house years ago. I know you are probably asking why I have never had them help me around the house more, and the simple answer is I don’t know.

    After school ended, I sat my children down, and we discussed what I was expecting of them this summer break. I explained to them that I would love to do some fun activities, but I can only do that if we keep the house somewhat clean. I also explained that I didn’t want my summer to be spent picking up after them.

    Here are the new rules.


    Usually, the kids like to be pretty slow in the mornings, which is fine with me to a degree. I don’t want it to be lunchtime before they get ready for the day. I am fine with them chilling for a little bit when they get up, but I would like them to get ready for the day shortly after that.

    Getting ready for the day includes:

    • Having Breakfast
    • Getting Dressed (my kids usually shower at night, but if they don’t, this would include them showering in the morning).
    • Brushing Teeth
    • Doing Hair (my girls hate this one). I don’t care if they do their hair, just as long as it is brushed and looks like they fixed it.


    I would like them to do their daily chores after they get ready. I have found out that if they don’t do their chores in the morning, they will never get the chores done. I have them do two different chores. There are the everyday chores that they are expected to get done every day. Then, there are the chores that can change daily or that I need help with.

    • Picking up their room
    • Making their bed
    • Putting dirty clothes in the hamper
    • Vacuuming their room if it needs it
    • Picking up the bathroom


    After they complete their daily chores, I will usually have one or two chores I need them to complete around the house to help me out. These can include things like:

    • Loading/unloading dishwasher
    • Vacuuming
    • Dusting
    • Laundry
    • Picking up the living room/craft room
    • Cleaning out the car

    This list of chores changes daily, depending on what I need help with. I try not to have too many chores because no one wants to spend their whole day cleaning. I don’t even want to do that as an adult, so I can’t expect my kids to clean all day. I hope they can finish this all in the morning, and we can play by lunchtime!

    I would like all of their chores done before lunch. After lunch, they can have free time. We will go to the pool or the park. Sometimes, we have planned activities. This is why I would like them to get their chores done early. I like to have fun with my kids, but keeping the house in order is important to me. I try to balance them both.


    I must confess I always start the summers well with all these rules and high expectations. I usually am very strict about it for about the first two weeks, and then I slowly get less and less strict as the summer goes on. I am hoping these rules are easy enough that we can last a little longer than a few weeks. Of course, it will last all summer in my perfect world, but I know that will never happen. I hope they pick up a few skills that will continue into the school year.

    You must also keep in mind that every child is different. My son has ADHD and is very unorganized. He also gets distracted very easily. I can’t ask him to go clean his room. It will never get done. I have to ask him to do small tasks.

    I can ask one of my daughters to go clean her room, and she will be able to get most of it cleaned on her own without my help. I usually help her with the last bit, like throwing the trash away or reminding her to vacuum.

    My youngest does not like to clean at all. She will usually throw a tantrum for a while before she even starts cleaning. Once she realizes I won’t back down and she still has to clean, I usually have to be in the room to keep her on track.

    I am sure your children have different personalities and need to be motivated differently, just as my children do. Keep that in mind when you are coming up with your own rules or chores.

    Do you have rules like this for the summer? I hope some of these ideas help you stay a little sane this summer while your children are home. I would love to hear your ideas on what you have your children do in the summer to help around the house. Please leave me a comment. For now, Happy Summer!

  • Family,  Rants & Musings

    Should You Give Your Children an Allowance?

    Until the last couple of years, we never gave our children an allowance. I just never thought it was necessary. I couldn’t see the reasoning behind providing an 8-year-old with their own money, but I also thought about this for years. Should you give your children an allowance?

    When my oldest was about 12, I read a lot of blog posts about giving your child an allowance. There were so many different opinions and options on how to give your child an allowance. After reading multiple articles about allowances, I found a couple that resonated with me. These articles were different from everything else I had read or thought about. What I liked most about what I read was that these articles had rules for giving the kids allowances, which I thought was important.

    The Allowance Rules I Liked

    • The allowance is not tied to anything; you give it to them without any expectations.
    • I WILL not give an allowance for good grades.
    • I do not give an allowance for doing chores.
    • The best rule is that you stop buying things for them.
    • I don’t love this last rule, but you should let them use their money however they want (within reason, obviously).

    The allowance is not tied to anything, so they don’t have to earn it. Each month, we just put the money into their account. I will explain later how much we give them.

    I will not give an allowance for good grades. School is vital to us as parents. Our children are expected to go to school and earn good grades. Are they expected to have straight A’s? No, they are not. They are expected to do the best that they can. We will not pay them to do well in school. This is just an expectation.

    I do not give an allowance for doing chores. Everyone in the house is expected to help keep it clean. Everyone pitches in and helps. Is our house spotless? Nope, never. We do the best we can to keep it clean. They each have their own space that they need to stay clean, and they do the best they can.

    The best rule is that I stopped buying everything for them. Please don’t take this the wrong way. I buy the necessary things for them, such as clothes, school supplies, specific activities, or vacations. The things I won’t buy for them are what they want, such as stuffed animals, toys, and clothes they want, not what they need or treats at the store. They have to buy all these things themselves.

    This last rule is the hardest for me. You are supposed to let them spend their money however they want. You let them spend their money whether they want to buy a shirt with it or a treat. My kids usually want a treat, a toy, or a stuffed animal. I am not a massive fan of this rule because my kids have too many stuffed animals, and I don’t want them to buy more. I try to guide them, but ultimately, they are in charge of their money.

    How Much Allowance Should You Give Your Kids?

    How much allowance you give your kids is a personal choice. This is how we do it, though. It is all based on age. So, for how old they are, that is how much they get for the week, for example, with my children. My 16-year-old gets sixteen dollars a week, so they get sixty-four dollars a month. My 12-year-old gets twelve dollars a week, so they get forty-eight dollars a month.

    Reasons to Give Your Kids an Allowance

    I finally realized why an allowance was so good for my kids. It gives them a chance to learn money management. When they want to buy something, they always ask if they have enough money. Most of the time, they do, but sometimes, they don’t, and I feel like that is a good lesson for them. This teaches them that if they want something more expensive, they need to save money to buy that item.

    The other nice thing is that they have stopped asking me for stuff every time we go to the store. They know that if they want something unnecessary, they have to buy it themselves.

    When they do want to buy something, I usually make them pay for it themselves. This allows them to learn how to interact with the cashier and the actual process of buying something.

    I am shocked to see how each child spends their money differently. One child has saved money for months and bought something significant. Another child saves their money and doesn’t buy very much with their money. Their account has grown quite a bit. Then I have one that spends and spends their money. They love to go to the store and shop. They are the child that is a shopaholic. I am unsure where she picked that up because I am not a shopper!

    So far, these are the reasons I love that we have chosen to give our children an allowance. Every family is different, and you must do what is best for your family. As for our family, this is what works great for us.

    Do you give your children an allowance? If you do, what techniques do you use? What do you do differently? Do your children have to earn their allowance? I would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment!

  • Holidays,  Rants & Musings

    Easter Basket Stuffer & Filler Ideas

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via these links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclaimers for more information.

    Spring is such a wonderful time of year! I love it when everything comes back to life after the winter. Easter is always the first sign of spring to me! It means we made it through the winter, and warmer weather is just around the corner. For Easter, we always go to an Easter egg hunt, and I always have baskets for my kids. Instead, I would rather not fill the basket with candy, so I have filled their baskets with other items over the years.

    Here is the list of non-candy items I love putting into their easter baskets.

    Spring Outfits

    Every Easter, I get my children a new spring outfit for their Easter baskets. It’s nothing fancy, usually just a pair of new shorts and a shirt. It is always fun to have a new outfit when the weather gets warmer. My kids tend to outgrow some of their clothes over the winter, so putting a new spring outfit into their Easter baskets helps prepare them for the new spring and keeps their wardrobe current.

    DONWEN Toddler Kids Girl
    3pcs Spring Summer Girl Outfits Set

    Rating: 5 out of 5.

    DOKOTOO KIDS Girls Summer Outfits Cute T-Shirt and Shorts Set with Side Pockets

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


    Our family swims a lot in the summer, and I mean a lot! By the end of the summer, our swimming suits are usually trashed. When spring comes around again, they no longer have a swimming suit. So, I like to get them a new one every Easter for the new swim season. I typically try to get them two swimsuits if I can find a good deal just because of how much we swim.

    Tutorutor Kid Girls High Waisted Cute 2 Piece Peplum Halter Bikini Sets Ruffle Floral Print Teen Spaghetti Swimsuits

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

    FERBIA Women Falbala Bikini Set Halter High Waisted Swimsuit 2 Piece Ruffle Tummy Control Spaghetti Strap Tankini

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

    Swim Goggles

    Every Easter, I get my children new swimming goggles with their new swimsuits. My children love to swim with goggles, and they don’t like to swim without them, so like our swimsuits, our goggles get ruined by the end of the summer.

    Speedo Unisex-Adult Swim Goggles Mirrored Vanquisher 2.0

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

    OutdoorMaster Kids Swim Goggles 2 Pack Swimming Goggles for Kids

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

    Sandals & Flip-Flops

    Another great idea for an Easter basket filler that I’ve done in the past is to get the kids some new sandals or flip-flops. Over the winter, my children have typically outgrown their sandals, so if they have, I’ll get them a new pair. I don’t always get them sandals, but only get them if they desperately need them.

    OUYADU Kids Cloud Slides Boys Girls Flip Flops Slip On Beach Sandals

    Rating: 5 out of 5.

    NORTY Kids Sandals – Girls Sandals, Flip Flops – Boys Slides – Little Kid – Big Kid

    Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

    Small Games and Other Items

    I also like to put some simple, small things in their Easter baskets every year. This changes year to year, but here are some items I like to include—card games, notebook, stickers, chapstick, markers, sidewalk chalk, or bubbles. For my oldest, I like to do small amounts on gift cards to his favorite places to eat.

    We love the Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza game, which has been a definite hit at our house. The kids go crazy when they play it, and we laugh like crazy!

    Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza

    Rating: 5 out of 5.

    Crayola Sidewalk Chalk

    Rating: 5 out of 5.

    These are some fun things I like to do for my family. It changes slightly from year to year, but this is what I like to do for the most part. I will not say we don’t give them candy because that is not true, but these items help, so they don’t get as much. Do you have Easter traditions that you do? What do you like to put in your Easter baskets? I would love to hear!

  • Rants & Musings

    2 Things That Surprised Me When Booking An Alaskan Cruise

    Are you thinking about booking an Alaskan cruise? We booked one for this coming summer! We have been on a small cruise before, so when we booked an Alaskan cruise, these two things surprised me the most.

    Booking in Advance

    The first thing that surprised me about booking an Alaskan cruise is how far in advance you need to book. We went on a Mexican cruise about two years ago and booked it about a month or so before we went, and everything was fine; we had no problems. We could select from many available cabins, dinner times, or ship activities; however, we booked our upcoming Alaskan cruise seven months in advance, and it felt like we were booking late.

    By the time we booked, there were only a few rooms left. We could not pick our dining hall times because they were all taken, so we just had to take what was left. Most of the excursions were already booked on the ship, and we will have to book some of our tours through companies in the port.

    Lesson number one! If you plan on taking an Alaskan cruise, I strongly encourage you to book a year or more in advance. You can find better room placement, pick your dining hall times, and book excursions from the cruise line.

    Sticker Shock

    The second thing that surprised me was how much more expensive it was than a Mexico cruise. I was SHOCKED at how much it would cost us to take a seven-day cruise to Alaska. We booked it with discounts when the cruise line had specials, but I was still sticker-shocked.

    Lesson number two! Alaskan cruises are much more expensive than your typical Mexico or Caribbean cruise. Know that you will spend more on your booking!

    I wouldn’t let these surprises deter you from booking an Alaskan cruise. Even though we were caught off guard and wished we were a little more prepared for these surprises, we still booked our cruise. I have heard Alaskan cruises are incredible, and I can’t wait to go. I am excited about the scenery and the wildlife. It sure is going to be an adventure. My family is also super excited, and my son tells me every day, “One less day until the cruise!”