HadABaby ItsAGirl

Had a Baby

With a little fear of dating myself, I just had to use this title. It is from a commercial from the late 80’s or 90s. If you aren’t familiar, WAY back then there were no cell phones. If you were out and about and needed to call home, you had to use a pay phone and make what was called a collect call to home. This involved connecting with an operator, telling them your name and maybe even the number you were calling, They then place the call and verify that the recipient would accept the call. If so, I think the charges were like $1 per minute – quite expensive.

The commercial went something along the lines of a new papa calling his family. To avoid actually having to pay the collect charges, he tells the operator that his name is HadABaby ItsAGirl. The family on the other end hears it and that is all they need to know, so they don’t accept the charges. Just funny for that time and I remembered it when I had our baby. I guess I have a little sense of humor. If you remember what company that commercial was for, let me know:-)

The point of all this? We HAD A BABY AND ITS A GIRL! As I am recovering and very much enjoying my new baby, I have not written much. And that is OK. There is lots of useful content on my blogs to check out, Leave us a blessing, read a few posts, leave a comment and pass my blog around to your friends and family.

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Travel: Does Disney Penalize Large Families?

Does Disney Penalize

I was recently doing some travel research on hotels at Disney World and I noticed something. Almost all the reasonable priced Disney properties only accommodated 4 people.

To be more specific, I was searching for a family of 4 and seeing what the top hotels were in the area and what the prices were. I was excited to see that the Animal Kingdom Lodge was a low as $203 per night. Wow. This is one place I would want to stay if I ever get to go with my family (maybe in a few years). But then I saw that, even though rooms had two queen beds, it only accommodated 4 people. If I want to accommodate 6 people, I have to spend $400 per night.

Yet, if I stay at a property outside Disney (like Hampton Suites, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, etc…), I can get a room with two queen beds that will allow us to put 6 in the room – not that we would want to unless they had a roll-away bed or a pull out sofa bed (which some do), but still, they allow me to accommodate my whole family, in one room, for around $100 per night.

Then I discovered something really startling – When I changed my search from a family of 4 (what I was doing the research for) to my family of 6 (soon), the prices of most of the Disney Properties went up. Before, I was seeing prices around $300 to $500 per night, now they were $500 to $700 per night. Wow! $200 – $300 per night increase, just because I have two more children. And there are NO discounts that I am aware of on tickets, food, etc… if you have lots of children.

If I go to do some local activities, I see people giving large families a break. Our local water park, Roaring Springs, offers an annual family pass and it is a flat rate for up to a certain amount of people in the family. Our local YMCA and Rec Center have the same thing, family passes that do not matter if there is 4, 6 or 8 in the family. I have seen places that are kind enough to discount 10% or 20% off of activities / attractions after paying full price for the first couple of children.

It seems most business have found ways to be affordable to large families and still make a profit. So, why doesn’t Disney embrace this concept? Leave me you thoughts!

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Homeschool Review: Animal Lapbook Studies From Classic Homeschool

Homeschool Review Wolves Lapbook

Recently, I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Jen Elgin of Classic Homeschool and getting an opportunity to review a couple of her Homeschool Lapbook Unit Studies. In the case of this review, we selected one of the animal studies: Wolves.

Overview Of The Wolves Lapbook / Unit Study

The Wolves Lapbook is available for purchase through Jen’s Etsy Shop, Created4Fun, as a digital download. After receiving the download in PDF format, we opened the document and scanned through it. The study includes:

  • Intro / cover
  • A sample photo of what the finished lapbook could look like
  • What subjects will be covered (i.e. Biology / Zoology, language arts, art, etc…)
  • A book list (fiction and non-fiction)
  • A movie list
  • An internet resource list
  • A vocabulary list
  • A set of lapbook pieces and the corresponding actions and activities

We then printed up each of the activity pages, picked up books from the library, then scanned through the books to find the answers or resource for each activity. After all the activity pieces were filled out, we then cut them out and glued them into our lapbook (folder).

Feedback on the Lapbook

My children were very happy to take a few days off from our regular workbook studies to do a unit study. There is something about this format that generates real interest in the subject at hand. The girls spent a few hours going through the books to find out where wolves lived, what they liked to eat, what their lifecycle was, and much more. They have also spent a few hours during the week reading some of the fiction books (“Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”) and watching a couple of videos involving wolves.

My only criticism for the study is I would have liked a little more… maybe a few more cutouts and activities or even some non-lapbook specific activity suggestions would have made the study fuller and made me feel like I was getting a complete value out of the study.

How You Can Engage Classic Homeschool

If you would like to see what other studies are available from Classic Homeschool, visit their Created4Fun Etsy Shop. They have American Girls studies (which we are reviewing one of next), lots of animals, Magic Tree House book studies, and more.

Their blog, Classic Homeschool, has more about their lapbooks and unit studies, homeschool information, and homeschool freebies.

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Baby Almost Here

If you are a regular reader of A Simple Life Too, you may know that I am due to have a baby very soon. Well, she is now dropped and I have been having contractions, although not consistent yet. If you have ever had a baby, you know that creativity and all that is pretty much history those last few days.

Therefore, I might not be publishing anything new this week – but stand by and subscribe – I will be back soon with more of my 10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10 series, my 5 Ways To Make Money Working From Home Series, and some great posts about homeschooling, saving money, and living simply.

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Using Your Homeschool Budget Wisely + A Special Offer and Giveaway Link

Classes By Beth Homeschool BudgetAs many homeschool families survive on a single income, it’s vital to make the most of your homeschool budget. Yet, the old adage “You get what you pay for” also applies in most cases. Where does a mom draw the line between the two? Having homeschooled through high school and most often on a very limited budget, I’ve learned a few lessons about stretching those homeschool dollars.

  • Use literature-based curriculum for teaching literature and history. I even used whole books to teach science through middle school. I also used literature and other whole books to teach my children about writing and spelling skills. By using literature and whole books, you can utilize your library which means your core books are free!  Train Up a Child Publishing has well developed, reasonably priced literature based units and lesson plans. Full Disclosure: Beth is one of the authors of some of the TUACP materials, but I don’t receive any sort of compensation for curriculum sales.
  • Check out interlibrary loan. The reference department of your library can provide the details. Did you know you can often get textbooks from libraries all over the country? It takes a bit of planning ahead (some interlibrary loans take several weeks), but you can often extend your borrowing time by telling them you’re an educator.
  • If you know you or your child have a weak area, prioritize your budget to cover that weakness. This is most important in high school, where your child will receive credit, to make sure you have someone covering bases that you can’t. Many parents are finding that “free” high school classes offered by colleges and other organizations don’t actually teach their high school children, but just offer instructional information. Having a real teacher is essential in those tough areas. Accountability definitely matters when you share the responsibility of educating your children with another organization or teacher.
  • Use your gifts to barter with other educators. At Classes by Beth, we currently have one of our teachers and another member of our support staff who work for tuition. It’s a win-win and allows those moms to use their budget in a more creative way. It can never hurt to ask when you’re considering using a specific company’s materials or services. You may have gifts that they can’t afford to purchase.
  • Avoid impulse buying of non-essentials. I really struggled with attending homeschool conventions because I found myself wanting to buy “fun” or creative items for our schooling. Even smaller, less expensive items add up when you buy a few of them. I quickly learned to make sure I had covered all of my essentials before even considering those types of purchases. I also found that the fun items were often put aside quickly, while the essentials provided what my children truly needed.
  • Check out referral opportunities for educational companies that you utilize. For example, with Classes by Beth, we provide direct tuition credit for moms who refer their friends and those friends register for class. It’s a great way to support a company you appreciate and help your family benefit as well.
  • Share curriculum. If you have friends whose children are different ages than yours, consider purchasing curriculum together to share. This worked well for me with foreign language. When all of the children have finished using the curriculum, sell it and split the income. One suggestion: if you split the curriculum cost, the other mom will be less likely to decide to use something else later and leave you footing the bill.

A Special Offer For A Simple Life Too Readers

As a special offer for readers of this post, Classes by Beth will give any reader who registers for at least one 2015-16 CBB class 5 free Momshops (online live workshops covering a variety of topics). Readers who register for more than one class will receive all 10 of our Momshops  for free! Just use the code simplelife in the Referral box on the CBB registration form. Remember to choose courses that will take pressure off of you and allow your child to grow by being taught by an instructor passionate about teaching. That way you’re using your homeschool budget wisely!Classes By Beth WorkshopsTo participate in another free course giveaway, subscribe to the CBB blog by June 30th and you’ll be entered in our giveaway of seven different gifts, including two free classes.

Disclosure: This guest post is from Beth of Classes By Beth. Subscribe to her blog and check out her Middle and High-school Homeschool classes today!

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WAHM: 5 Ways To Make Money Working From Home – Part 3

WAHM Ways To Make Money From Home
Be encouraged, if you want to work from home, there are many, many opportunities out there. This is the 3rd post in the Ways To Make Money Working From Home series! Check out Part 1 and Part 2 if you have not yet. Also, join my FB Group – Work At Home Moms Who Want More Than Spam – to network with other women, learn about more opportunities, or share your existing business with others.

Mystery Shopping – Last year, I made a couple hundred dollars a month Mystery Shopping. I really liked it and was able to generally find Shops that I could fit into the routine with my children and our usual outings. For example, one shop was at a grocery store that I shopped at a couple of times a month. So, with a little extra work and time I was able to get my shopping done and complete a Mystery Shop – I got paid $25.00 for it.

There is one issue with Mystery Shopping: There are a lot of scams out there! Because I have personal experience with this, I wrote a post last year to help people find the legitimate Mystery Shopping work.

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links. 

Travel Agent – There are actually 3 ways to make a living as a Travel Agent, however, all require some training:

  1. Become an independent agent / run your own agency from home. Of the three options, this will take the most work. You have to get training, get licensed, join an association, get software to connect to all the available reservation systems, and then promote your business.
  2. Work for a Travel Agency from home / remotely. This can be a small, local agency or a large corporation like American Express or 1-800-Cruise. Some of the large agencies list jobs on Rat Race Rebellion. You may have to get some training first to get these jobs.
  3. There is a direct sales (MLM) business that sets you up as a travel agent, provides training, provides a web site, and gives support for a small start-up fee. I know a couple of people doing this, so contact me if you are interested. However, some in the Travel business do not consider these “real” travel businesses, so do your research before getting involved.

Here are a few books to check out for more information about what it takes to get started:


Up-cycle and Refurbish from garage sales and thrift stores – This idea came to me recently because I have a friend doing this. They peruse Craigslist and Facebook for stuff that people are giving away or selling really cheap (usually because it has a major issue, is broken, etc….). They then they fix the item(s), clean them up, paint them, etc… and then turn around and sell them at a profit. You can do this on a small scale (i.e. household items, toys, knickknacks, clothing) or a larger scale (furniture, automobiles, appliances).

You can also pickup stuff at Thrift Stores and garage sales and try to resell through Ebay and the such, but I am less of a fan of this. If you would like more info, here are a couple of books:


Organizing people’s stuff / home – Another idea that came in the last week was from a friend who has started a personal organizing business. She posts ads on local FB groups (buy/sell or networking) and then helps people organize their “messes.” This could include: setting up or organizing a pantry, helping someone organize their home office, taking a pile of photos and making a scrapbook, organizing an old recipe collection, setting up shelving in a spare room to organize storage, and much more. If you are super organized and love to sort, color code, alphabetize, etc.. this could be  a great PT gig for you.

And of course, Amazon has some books to help you get started:

House and/or Business Cleaning Service – I know a few people who have successfully started and worked for years doing their own cleaning service. Yes, it is hard work, but most find it easier to market, get and keep business than many of the other businesses I have mentioned to date. If you keep a clean home and have some great tricks that you use to make your house sparkle, you can make good money. I have known people to make anywhere from $10 an hour doing homes to $30 an hour cleaning offices and businesses.

If you do go the route of cleaning businesses, you will need to have more equipment than cleaning households.

For more information how to start your own cleaning service, check these out:


Share your home based business ideas here (but note that I will not post anything that doesn’t pass the legitimate and quality business test).

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10 Things To Do This Summer Under $10: #4 – Public Pool and/or Lake

10 Things Summer Swim

We love to swim!


So far this summer we have: started the summer reading program, played at the park, and done some arts and crafts during a rainy day. Now comes one of the best activities of summer – swimming.

Unfortunately, swimming can add up quickly – swim suites, floaties, the cost of lessons, etc… However, if you can get some inexpensive suites (think Walmart), or reuse what you have from last year or accept hand-me-downs (some people prefer not and I do understand), and not have to have all the other stuff, you can do summer swimming on a few dollars.

We have found for myself and our 3 children, it is $7 or $8 to take them to the local, public pool. If we add dad, then we come up to the $10 threshold. If you family is bigger, then the public pool could become expensive quickly.

Which brings me to the other option – public lakes. We have a couple of lakes within a 30 minute drive and it costs either $5 or $10 for day use for one vehicle (depending on the lake). Some are even free. We made it really frugal last year by going with another family in their cargo van. They paid gas and I paid the day use fee at our favorite lake.

We also know of a family who has built a pond on their property. They allow families to book a day or half day, for free, to swim there. What a blessing!

What is your most frugal way to go swimming?

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Giveaway: Win a New Microsoft – Surface 3 Worth $499.99 !

Bing Surface Giveaway

Enter the giveaway to win a free Surface 3!

Could you use a new computer?

Well, Bing Rewards has offered A Simple Life Too and some other blogs the opportunity to host a giveaway of a Surface 3 Computer!

Have you seen the commercials for the Surface? Although I could contend that I am not stirred very often by media, I have been wanting a Surface since they came out! It is a very lightweight laptop and a tablet. It can run productivity apps and media. And, it is small and light, so very easy to transport.

Technical Details of the Surface:

10.8″ ClearType Full HD Plus Display – Makes navigation simple and presents media in rich detail.
Windows 8.1 – Allows you to stay connected and productive.
64GB storage capacity – Offers room for pictures, videos, music and more.
Quad-core processor – Intel® Atom™ processor with 1.6GHz processor speed, up to 2.4GHz Burst speed and 2GB RAM for efficient performance.
Wi-Fi – Allows you to connect to the Web while within range of an available wireless network.
Bluetooth interface – Lets you wirelessly link with compatible Bluetooth-enabled devices.
8.0MP rear-facing and 3.5MP front-facing cameras – Enable you to capture important moments to share with your loved ones.
USB 3.0 port – Makes it easy to connect peripheral devices.
Integrated kickstand – Allows you to prop up the tablet for a clear view of displayed content.
Magnesium body – Creates a lightweight, yet durable, design.

Enter The Giveaway!

Note: You do have to sign up for Bing Rewards to enter the giveaway. Bing rewards you for searching the internet and it is a free program. Here is a link to Bing Rewards if you want more info.

GUIDELINES/DISCLAIMER/RULES

“NO PURCHASE NECESSARY” 18+ US only! Contest starts 04/23/2015 and Ends 07/22/2015 11.59pm EASTERN. Entry options: Join Bing Rewards. Prize: Microsoft – Surface 3 – 10.8″ – Intel Atom – 64GB. “The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.” Winners have 7 days to claim their prize. If potential Prize winner forfeits or does not claim the prize, prize will be re-awarded, at the advertisers sole discretion. All prizes will be awarded.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Bing Rewards and I am publishing it because Bing, the Surface, and the giveaway rock!

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Travel: 10 Favorite Disney Travel Videos

10 Disney Travel Videos

Could you use a little Disney Travel divergence today?


I don’t know if you know what it is like to be laid up and wanting edifying things to do with your time, but I have been on partial bed rest and light activity for over 4 months now. It really is challenging to make good use of that time!

I ended up with a little divergence this week – I decided to watch some videos about travel to Disney – Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Lines, Disney’s Aulani, etc… and now I am sharing the favorite ones I found. Whether you just want a little virtual vacation or you are planning for the real thing, this should be helpful and fun. I also took the time to update my Disney Contest and Sweepstakes post.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Disney Aulani – Best Vacations TV Show – this is a complete 30 minute TV show visiting the Disney Aulani resort. I so want to go there someday!

Save big this summer on your trip to Hawaii with BookingBuddy!

Disney Cruise Line Fall 2016 Itinerary – just a quick 2 minute overview. For one cruise itinerary, lucky those who live in the NY area. They get to cruise from NY, go to Walt Disney World, then to Disney’s private island in the Bahamas.

Get Cheap Cruises and Compare Cruise Deals at BookingBuddy!

Tour Of Disney Fantasy Cruise Ship – Activities, Food, Accommodations, Entertainment – OK, this is technically more than one video, but it is about the same ship, so I just consider it episodes of one, longer video. There is something for everyone to enjoy on this ship and its ports, and gave me my first real look into a Disney Cruise.

Disney World Fantasy Land Overview – I actually tried to find longer videos to see more of the attractions, but it seemed like they just covered the same things, so this ended up being the best.

Save BIG on Walt Disney World Tickets!

Disney World – New Be Our Guest Restaurant in Fantasy Land – I really felt like I was getting to experience the restaurant during the video and it is a must visit when we go there in a few years.

Disney World Base Ticket: Buy 4 Days & get 5th Day Free!

Disney World Dining Plans – A fun overview of the 3 main dining plans for those staying at Walt Disney World resorts and what they do and don’t include.

Walt Disney World (plus Islands of Adventure) in 25 minutes – Well done amateur video covering some of the major attractions in each park.

Cheap Orlando Vacations with BookingBuddy.

Disneyland Overview – A fun overview from a non-Disney production.

Disney California Adventure Overview – A quick, but inviting overview of California Adventure (a little old, not updated with the new Cars attraction).

Shop for the Best Prices on Vacation Packages at BookingBuddy!

25 Disney Park Secrets Every Fan Should Know – Did you know Epcot was originally designed to be a model society with 20,000 people living in it? and 24 other interesting facts.


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Super Simple Homeschooling: 5 Books To Help You With Your Homeschool Vision and Planning

Top 5 Homeschool Books

I don’t know about you, but when I first started thinking about homeschooling my children, I went on the hunt for as much information about homeschooling as I could get. I mostly found myself being given books by friends, checking a few out from the library, and purchasing a couple. I also started to look over homeschool magazines, catalogs, and websites.

The following list is my top 5 books that helped me get started homeschooling and continue to help me plan my homeschool each year.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

1 – Mary Pride’s Complete Guide To Getting Started Homeschooling – Although a little outdated, this “tome” of everything homeschooling answers all the questions of a new homeschool parent and gives lots of resources useful for annual homeschool planning. It is still on our bookshelf and I will probably keep it as long as I homeschool.

2 – The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola – After getting an overview of the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling from Mary’s book (see #1), I wanted to know more and this book, The Charlotte Mason Companion gave me the deeper understanding I wanted. Although our homeschool is eclectic vs. just Charlotte Mason style, this book was still useful to give me a foundation of what a quality home education could look like.

3 – Cathy Duffy 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum – Cathy Duffy helps you walk through a process of evaluating your family and children for vision, learning styles, etc… then helps you select curriculum based on those factors. Our family really needs to get a copy of this book for our permanent homeschool bookshelf as we re-evaluate our homeschool each year.

4 – Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach – As our family has an interest in Hebrew Roots of our faith and a desire to make our homeschool Bible-centric, a friend of ours shared this book. It is a philosophy of a Hebraic approach to homeschooling (which looks a lot like Charlotte Mason meets Unit Studies) and a how to create your own studies using the Bible and living books. Unfortunately, I am have not been in a position to create my own studies to date, so this book mostly just helped us create our homeschool philosophy. However, if you want to create your own delight directed or Biblical based unit studies, I recommend it!

5 – The Old Schoolhouse Annual Print Magazine – I understand, this is a magazine and not a book, but the fact that it only comes out once per year in print format and that it is nearly 300 pages in length, I consider it a book. A very current and useful book, full of articles to encourage and instruct, and lots of ads of new and old curriculum and other resources. We get a copy every year.

What is your favorite and/or most useful homeschool book? Or, if you are new to homeschoolig, what is one pressing question you need to have answered?

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