Holiday Activities

The holidays are a time of year that are very busy and hectic, but it is also a time of year that brings much happiness and joy. When you have children in your lives you do everything you can to show them the magic of Christmas. Even though winter brings cold weather and darkness, there are a lot of things you can do with your family during this time of year as well. Try not to focus on the big ass junk removal that may be necessary after Christmas day when all the new toys arrive in your house, but focus on the reason for the season.

Tree Lighting

One fun (and fee) even that occurs in a lot of towns are tree lighting ceremonies. In small and large towns alike, there is usually a ceremony to turn on the town Christmas tree. These events are typically filled with Christmas cheer by including music, children’s activities and food. Appearances by Santa are common as well which would make any child smile. A family friendly event like this is great for all ages.

Lights

Christmas lights are obviously popular during this time of year. It can be simple as getting in the car and driving around to spot the nicest display in your neighborhood, to driving a distance to see a particular display. Some tourist attractions may require a fee to come view lights. Places such as zoos and gardens may use this time of year to bring in extra income by creating a christmas attraction. Some families have even made a business into creating a christmas light experience.

Santa

Kids and families often partake in the obligatory christmas photo with Santa. Santa can often be spotted in the nearest mall or shopping center, but also local christmas events. A popular activity is to do a breakfast with santa. These events involve a sit down meal where santa attends and is available for a photo opp. It is nice to document time with Santa photos annually.

Decorating

A fun winter and christmas time activity that can be done at home is decorating. It is an annual tradition in our house to decorate our house for the holidays the sunday after thanksgiving. This is when the tree goes up and all of the christmas decorations are put on display. The kids get involved and it typically is finished off with a christmas movie for the kids and a festive cocktail for the adults. Besides house decorations, it is often popular to decorate cookies and make gingerbread houses for the holidays. This is a favorite in our house.

Charity

This time of year calls for charity and giving. It is when you want to help those in need the most. You can get your family involved to help give to those less fortunate. You can collect food for shelters or even coats and winter gear. There are organizations that allow you to adopt families or children in order to help them have the Christmas they deserve but may not necessarily be able to afford. It is important to show your kids the concept of giving and charity, this time of year is a perfect excuse to do so.

With all of the activities discussed above, the month of December will fly by like a breeze! Happy Holidays!

What Activities Are Best For Kids

If you have children, you probably faced with the decision of what activity to enroll them in. These days kids start their exposure to certain activities at an early age. So if you have kids from the age of infant all the way to high school, you are probably looking into ideas of what is available to them. Below are some categories that can be explored for kids.

Sports

There are many sports to explore for your children. Things like football, soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, field hockey, lacrosse, rugby, hockey, swimming gymnastics and track can all be available to your children at a young age. There are community teams, school teams, club teams and travel teams that allow you and your child to commit to what works for them. In addition, it’s so easy now to get all the equipment you need online, whether it be a soccer ball, hockey stick, or youth baseball bats. Even for little ones there are businesses and organizations that allow early exposure. For example, the YMCA is a popular organization that offers classes for young ones. The older your child gets the more of a time and monetary commitment may be necessary, so it is important to explore what works for them. Some sports are more costly than others that may require a bookmaker Betstars account may be necessary to fund these activities. It can be anything from a hobby to a full time commitment. Some children eventually get scholarships for college so at a certain age they will need to evaluate what they want.

Arts

Arts programs are popular in schools and communities as well. Your child may be interested in drawing, music, theatre or dance. Starting from craft and art classes as toddlers, to professional training in high school can lead your child to become the next leading artisit and be able to express their artistic talent. Kids are often interested in instruments and enjoy playing in the orchestra or band. Introduce them to the fundamentals of music even as a baby. Another way your child can express themselves through theatre and dance.

Electronics and Gaming

There is something for everyone. Some children may not be athletic or artistically includes so they may want to participate in the new trend of the future. The trend that I am referring to is one that has become popular is learning electronics and gaming. Electronics can include such thing as programing or computer training. Gaming can include classes or teachings of how to master games or playing along with others. This area of activities is the wave of the future.

No matter what your child may express an interest in, it is important that you do what you can to allow them learn and grow through their interests. Look up classes in your area that they can participate in.

The Sleepover Set Up: 3 Ways to Keep Your Child’s Friends Safe

They make you laugh and they make you cry; and if your hair isn’t graying, you’re pulling your hair out. But, the good times far outweigh the bad. Having children has been a blessing. Who knew how much you could love someone that can act like a tipsy undergrad when they’re cranky, right?

Making sure your kiddos are well-groomed, well-fed and well-loved is what it means to be a good parent. When you bring other kids into the mix, even if for just a night, everything can start to feel a little hairy.

Taking care of your own children is one thing, but watching over other people’s children is something else entirely, even if just for a night. When your kid comes up to asking to have a sleepover for their birthday, you can feel your body suddenly break into a cold sweat. “A sleepover?” You ask. “Wouldn’t you rather go to the movies instead with a buddy?”

Nope, they wouldn’t. Being the good parent that you are, you agree to the sleepover. Okay, so how do you prepare for a children’s sleepover?

Here are three ways to keep the little ones safe and having fun at your child’s next sleepover.

Chat Up the Parents

Before hosting the sleepover, call your child’s friend’s parents to discuss food allergies, nighttime routines and entertainment. Is their child allowed to see that latest installment of that hot new dystopic, or, are they only allowed to watch Disney? Can they eat peanuts, or do all nut provisions need to be removed from the house?

Lifehack writes that as the host parent, you need to make the sleepover’s activities clear to the other parents. With everyone in the know, the sleepover will have a better chance of going well as both the parents and children will know what to expect.

Set Up a List of Ground Rules

Kids (as you know) can get really excited, especially when they’re spending an evening away from mom and dad. To maintain some normalcy and authority, let the kids know that there are certain rules that are to be followed to make sure that everyone has a good time.

Rules should include:

  • No running in the house
  • No jumping on the furniture
  • No running with scissors at craft time (why do kids like to do this?!)
  • No eating after an adult has gone to bed
  • No screens after lights out

It’s necessary to set up a list of rules so that you can avoid a sleepover accident. Imagine that you didn’t tell your short-statured guests that there’s no running in the house. Ten minutes after visiting your home, one of your child’s friends runs full-speed into the sliding glass door. The door shatters and cuts them up, resulting in a trip to the ER. Not only is the child hurt, their parents can sue you for damages.

Rules will help to alleviate potentially nasty situations. For double protection, make sure your homeowners’ insurance can handle a home accident. It’s easy; compare homeowners’ insurance rates online and you’ll find a policy that’s sleepover proof.

Locked and Bolted

After you’ve gone to bed, the children will get a second wind and want to go tearing through the house, be it by playing hide-and-seek in the dark or crank calling their parents and other school friends.

Make sure the kids know that once it’s lights out, it’s time for bed. Make sure all doors and windows are locked (you don’t want the wandering outside) and that all electronics are protected with a passcode. Without the option to indulge in a little late-night fun, the kids will have nothing else to do but go to bed.

That’s it, you’re ready to host! Have fun planning the sleepover!

How To Teach Your Children To Manage Their Money

It’s never too early to start teaching your children about how to manage their money. Keeping track of your spending and managing your finances is something that everyone struggles with from time to time. We all know that a direct payday loan lender can be necessary to help you get by until the next pay day, but teaching your children how to budget is a skill for life and will hopefully keep them out of debt in the future.

Teach Them The Value Of Money

Most children don’t grasp that money needs to be spent carefully and isn’t just used for buying the things they want. The easiest way to show children the value of money is to talk about it when you are food shopping. Ask them to help you to choose the items you put in your trolley and explain whether they’ve chosen the best value item. Point out deals and cheaper alternatives, this will teach them to shop by value and shows them how expensive some items can be!

A Savings Jar

Children who instantly get everything they ask for don’t learn the true value of money. Teaching them that they must wait and save up before they can buy something they want is an important money management lesson. Although a savings account can be useful for older children, a savings jar is a good way to visibly demonstrate to children that the pocket money they save is building up over time. This makes the purchase more satisfying and teaches children the importance of savings and being patient.

Give Them An Allowance

Some parents may disagree with giving their children money. But giving children a small monthly, or weekly, allowance is a good way to teach them some basic budgeting skills. If they know that their allowance is the only money they will have to spend that month, they will soon learn that they can’t have the latest new toy or game every week.  If your children still impulsively spend their money as soon as they get it, try challenging them to wait a few weeks.

If an allowance isn’t something you are comfortable with then offer them the chance to earn their pocket money by completing basic house hold chores. This shows them that hard work can be worthwhile, setting them up for the future.

Keeping Track

Try to encourage your children to keep track of their spending in a notebook. Try to put a fun spin on it by making it a game or giving them an old purse to keep their recipients in. This will help you to explain that some of the things your children are buying- typically things like sweets or the latest fad- are using up a big chunk of their allowance. Alternatively, show them how you manage the family budget. Explain that you have to work so you can afford to buy all the things on the list, so they understand that money doesn’t just get given to you by the bank!

How much does child care cost?

Girl Ninja and I just got back from a glorious 10 day San Diego / Palm Desert vacation. I ate many a California Burritos (9 total), Baby Ninja ate a gratuitous amount of sand at the beach, and Girl Ninja consumed her body weight in Starbucks. We spent time with old friends, visited our Alma Mater’s campus, and reminisced on all the memories Girl Ninja and I have from our time living there.

While Girl Ninja and I made the 2.5 hour car trip from San Diego to Palm Desert we talked about a whole slew of things, one of which was her role as a stay at home mom.

We’re fortunate to be in a position where Girl Ninja can stay at home with Baby Ninja full-time and even more-so because my job allows me to spend about half of my work day at home (I’m out in the field the other half). Baby Ninja is kind of growing up with two stay-at-home parents.

Leaving teaching was hard for Girl Ninja. She loved her job and loved the school she worked at. About twice a month, Girl Ninja’s mom will babysit and GN will take a substitute job at a local school. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

  • Girl Ninja’s mom gets quality time with her grandson.
  • Girl Ninja gets to relieve herself of her motherly duties for a day
  • She still gets to dabble in the profession that she loves
  • She makes $150 each day she subs.
  • The school she teaches at gets a Substitute that legitimately loves teaching.

Next fall year, Baby Ninja will be 15 months old. Which also means he will be significantly less dependent on “mom”. If GN isn’t pregnant by summer (we aren’t trying, but we’re not preventing… was that too much information?), we started toying with the idea of her working more consistently next school year.

I doubt that would mean her taking a full-time teaching position, but she could start subbing two to four days per week instead of once every two weeks like she has been. If she substitute taught three days per week next school year, she would make $16,200 in additional income for our family. It’s nowhere near the $45,000 she would make if she took a full-time job, but every little bit helps.

The only problem with this idea is we have no clue how much child care costs. Sure Girl Ninja might make $16,000 more next year, but if it costs us $10,000 to put Baby Ninja in to child care during the school year is it really worth it?

No way. 

From what I’ve learned from friends is it seems full-time childcare runs about $1,200-ish per month. If we used child care three days per week, I’m guesstimating it would cost about $600 to $800 per month. She would be earning about $2,000/mo subbing at this rate.

The way I see it there are two ways to look at this…

Extra money is extra money

Sweet! We net a little over $1,000/mo in additional income. This could be used to further advance our taxable investment account. Perhaps open a college savings plan for Baby Ninja. Or allow us the freedom to spend a little more frivolously (meaning travel a bit more, or do some work on the house. not meaning buy a new tv just for the sake of buying a new tv). It would be a welcome addition in deed.

Extra money is extra money, but at what cost

Sure we would bring home $1,000 a month more than we do now, but Girl Ninja would also be away from Baby Ninja much more than she is now. Is $1,000 really worth missing out on some significant milestones or entrusting a large chunk of our child’s development to a stranger? I’m not too sure.

I guess what I’m really getting at is I would love to hear from a few of you who have dealt with a similar decision.

  • Did you pay for childcare (if so, how often and how much)?
  • Did you forfeit an income so one parent could stay at home (if so how much did you give up)?
  • How does one have their cake and eat it too (get to be with their child while make a ton of money) 🙂 ?

How much does a Vizsla (or any dog) cost?

***If you don’t care about my dog that’s fine. But you MUST scroll down to the bottom of this post and respond to my question about a dress that is breaking the internet. This debate could very well destroy my marriage.***

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As many of you probably know, we got our dog Nova, about a year and a half ago. Nova is a Hungarian Vizlsa (Vee-Shluh) and pretty much the best dog in the whole world. She came from a breeder out of Montana, and we picked her out (from her seven siblings) when she was six weeks old (we didn’t bring her home until she was 8 weeks however).

If you are like 99% of people out there who don’t know what a Vizsla is, allow me to inform you:

  • Vizslas self-clean. Like a cat.
  • They are an odor free dog. No dog smell.
  • They produce no natural body oil, so no greasy hands after petting.
  • They are completely brown (eyes, nose, paws, belly, toenails).
  • They are a “pointing” dog, bread to hunt birds.
  • They have insane stamina and are considered extremely high energy.
  • Their average adult weight is between 45lbs and 60lbs.
  • They are extremely trainable (goes with the hunting breed).
  • Rub em down with a dry towel weekly and they are clean as a whistle. They only need to be bathed once a quarter.
  • They cost between $1,000 and $1,800 as a pup.
  • They are super sensitive. You yell, they cower in fear.
  • They are known as the Velcro Vizsla because they attach to you like glue.

We paid $1,000 for Nova and couldn’t be more in love with her.

We will never own any other breed. And I’m not just saying that to be dramatic. We’re totally convinced Vizslas are the best kept doggy secret.

How much does a dog cost after the purchase? 

Being new puppy parents, Girl Ninja and I had a lot of learning to do and Nova had a lot of vet appointments to attend.

As soon as you get your pup you should schedule a vet visit. The vet will check the overall health of the dog and probably give them some shots. This will happen every couple months for the first year of their life. Kind of like a baby, puppies have a weak immune system.

Our vet charges $50 for each visit, plus the cost of any medications/supplements/etc provided.

Thankfully, Nova has only been to the vet for routine appointments. We had her spayed at about 6 months old which cost us $437. That was definitely the most painful of the vet bills, but they took good care of her.

With all the shots and vaccinations young dogs require, we’ve spent a total of $950 on veterinary visits (this includes the $437 spay) over the course of her life.

Since we did not have a dog before getting Nova, we had a handful of purchases to make prior to getting her. A leash, collar, kennel, dog bed, some toys, doggy shampoo, dog food, etc.

We buy her a good quality, grain-free, dog food called Taste of The Wild off Amazon. It is the only food she’s ever been fed outside of the occasional treat, and she seems to do great with it. It’s a little pricey at $45 a bag, but it’s a heck of a lot better than that Purina crap. A 30lb bag lasts us about 6 weeks.

Nova’s costs break down as follows:

– Purchase price: $1,000

– Flight to get her from Montana to Seattle: $250

– Vet bills, including spay: $950

– Food, toys, supplies: $500

– Total cost in first 16 months of life: $2,700. 

If you are thinking about getting a puppy, your costs will likely be pretty close to ours. We don’t spoil her rotten by any means, but when it comes to her health we make sure she’s provided for. If you’re not willing to buy a quality dog food, or make all your vet appointments, I’m not sure you should get a dog.

Similarly, if you don’t have $1,500 to spend for all of these things, I’m not sure you should get a dog.

Things should taper off a good bit from this point forward, and I expect her annual cost to us to run about $500/year between shots, vaccines, and dog food.

We love her to death and she’s seriously been the sweetest dog to Baby Ninja. He tugs on her big floppy ears. Rolls around on the ground with her. And has even taken a dog toy right out of her mouth. She totally gets that he is fragile and when she is around him she treads very carefully.

We were a little concerned that her energy might be an issue and that she would bulldoze him, but that’s not how it is at all. While there is no denying she is a fireball with endless energy, she knows that outside is the place to get that energy out. When she’s indoors she is pretty much just following us around or sleeping.

She’s the best.

And now is the time where I get to show her off to you…

First time meeting her…

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Her first time meeting Baby Ninja…

 

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Looking like they expect me to entertain them…

 

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She stood like this for five minutes…no joke…

 

 

 

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Getting out her energy…


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I’m going to explode from all the cuteness…

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She loves to do tricks…

 

But hates her doggy conditioner…

 

 

p.s. People that think I’m terrible for buying a dog from a breeder instead of a shelter; save your breath. I don’t really feel like I need to justify why I wanted a dog from a breeder. Much like I don’t feel a need to justify my love of meat to vegetarians. To each their own.

 

 

MANDATORY READER RESPONSE.

This dress is causing a tizzy all over the Internet. When you look at it do you see a white and gold dress, or a black and blue one? I see the former, Girl Ninja sees the latter. It blows my mind.

 

Did I die?

In the five-year history of Punch Debt In The Face, I have never taken a two-week hiatus from blogging. I think a handful of my readers were legitimately concerned for my health, fearing that I was dead.

Unfortunately for you all, I’m not dead.

And neither is Punch Debt In The Face.

As many of you have guessed, I’ve spent the last two months attempting to be a not-sucky dad. For the most part, I’d say I’m pretty much kicking butt at #dadlife.

But every time I let myself think I’ve got everything figured out, I’m reminded I don’t.

Like the time I let my son pee in to his own mouth while I was getting him a new diaper.

Note to future parents of boys: always have a clean diaper immediately accessible prior to removing soiled diaper. Little dudes can easily pee five+ feet.

We are finally settling in to a groove and I expect that over the next few weeks, posts around here will start trickling in every couple of days. I have some fun things to write about, including but not limited to…

My new hobby flipping scooters on Craigslist

What life is like going from dual income to one income

Why we decided to sell my sexy Scion tC and take a stab at being a one car family

or

A kitchen makeover reveal post (featuring our new quartz counters and subway tile backsplash)

It’s been busy around here, hence the lack of posting, but I’m looking forward to getting back in to the habit of neglecting my wife from 9pm to 10pm so I can sit down and write a blog post for a bunch of strangers.

Any of those four blog post ideas above tickle your fancy? Or is there anything specifically you’d like to see me write about? I’m always looking for insight so drop me a comment and let me know.

And before you go, check out how cute my kid is…

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