The American Express Guide to a “Summer Well Spent”

Do you find yourself dishing out money left and right all summer? According to the American Express Spending and Savings Tracker, summer looks to be as expensive as the holiday season (if not more!). From pool membership to family vacation and summer camp for the kiddos, your wallet is getting pulled every which way. If fact, Amex estimates parents are spending $958 per child on fun summer activities in 2014–up from $856 last year and $601 in 2012. Overall, American parents will shell out $70 billion or more for summer activities.   

“Throughout the year, we’ve seen higher spending in a number of areas, like travel, shopping and entertainment – so it’s no surprise that parents are planning to spend more to keep their kids active.  This is good news for seasonal retailers, as well as camps, theme parks and other entertainment venues,” according to David Rabkin, Senior Vice President of Consumer Lending Products at American Express.

Eventually your kids will grow old enough to actually earn money in the summer. Nearly a third of teens are currently skipping the beach to start babysitting (24 percent), work in the fast food service (24 percent), working in a grocery store (20 percent), in retail (11 percent), or landscaping (16 percent). However, 54 percent of those teens will decide to spend their earnings rather than save, unless they are saving for a vehicle (27 percent) and/or college tuition (25 percent).

Meanwhile, with the help of Amex, some of our helpful tips to keep track of your pennies include:

  • Planning vacations and summer getaways ahead of time. By doing so, you may find deals along the way. Also, it’s okay to tell the kids up front what your limits are for souvenirs, meals, and more. Never to early to make them realize that money doesn’t grow on trees!
  • Make an effort to teach your kids fun and cheap (or free) ways to enjoy the summer heat in your hometown. Lemonade stand anyone?
  • Although school is out, chores still remain a popular way to let your child earn money. Nearly 98 percent of parents report assigning summer chores to their kids, such as cleaning a room, taking out trash, caring for a pet, or helping with the dishes, and 83 percent of parents reward the kids with an allowance. Then maybe they can reach into their own wallet the next time they want to go see a movie or chase the ice-cream truck!
  • Also, ask your kids early on what they’re interested in doing during the last weeks of summer. Sports clubs, pool memberships and camps are always popular, but limit yourself to what he or she is really excited about. It takes money to participate in a lot of summer activities, but with tips and tricks from American Express, make it a summer well spent!

Want to add some DIY fun this summer? Get your kids together and make unique t-shirts they can wear all summer long.

Surf's Up Shirt
Surf's Up Shirt
Surf's Up Shirt

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Summer Ice Cream Round Up: Bars, Cones, & Sandwiches

Summer is here, and temperatures just keep rising and rising. Along with the heat, the urge for a refreshingly cold treat also tends to increase on a daily basis. Thankfully, July is National Ice Cream Month. In honor of the celebration, here at Parents we’ve taste tested a variety of flavors and brands to bring you our absolute favorites! (Hey, it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.) Be sure to check back every week during the month of July for even more yumminess.

Click here to read the picks for our favorite dairy-free and ice-cream on a stick options.

Skinny Cow Ganache Cones

Skinny Cow Ganache Cones

You’ve probably heard or have had Skinny Cow ice cream before (and if you haven’t, you should!), and their two new flavored cones don’t disappoint. Bonus: At only 160 calories each, these delicious treats are worth every bite.

Flavors: Chocolate Mint Ganache and Chocolate Mousse Ganache

Sold: Nationwide

“Super yummy, and definitely didn’t taste fake or light.” – Sabrina Hall, tablet designer

 

blue bunny mini swirl ice cream

Blue Bunny Mini Cones

Sometimes, ice cream cones are just too much for little stomachs. The makers at Blue Bunny have offered a yummy solution. This pint-sized cones are only about four inches tall, the perfect snack size.

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Vanilla, Birthday Party, and Peanut Butter

Sold: Nationwide

I ate the caramel cone, and it was so tasty!” – Madeleine Burry, associate managing editor

Klondike Kandy Bars

Klondike Kandy Bars

For those that love to put their candy bars in the freezer (or for anybody with a sweet tooth), than this ice cream is for you! Klondike has combined the crunchy scrumptiousness of candy bars with the smooth sweetness of ice cream to create the ultimate Kandy bar.

Flavors: Caramel & Peanuts, Fudge Krunch, and Cookies & Cream

Sold: Nationwide

I’m pretty sure I devoured my Caramel and Peanuts Klondike bar in under one minute. It hit the taste trifecta for me: sweet-salty, creamy, and crunchy.” – Sherry Huang, senior editor

 

homemade ice cream sandwiches

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwich

If you prefer to keep your ice cream homemade, try one of these six delicious ice cream recipes that are anything but boring!

I is for ice cream! Click here to download this fun coloring sheet.

How To Make Paper Ice Cream Cone Decorations
How To Make Paper Ice Cream Cone Decorations
How To Make Paper Ice Cream Cone Decorations

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Rosie to the Rescue!: When Mommy Has to Go to Work

Rosie Pope headshotThe past four months have gone by in a flash. I can hardly believe it was just 16 weeks ago that I gave birth to my sweet baby Bridget, number four in our brood. Like so many other mothers in America, I was not able to take the maternity leave that I would have liked. After all, I run my own business, so stopping work for months at a time really wasn’t an option.

Juggling my dual life as business owner and a mother of four is not something that I’ve mastered with total elegance. While it may at times look like that from the outside — thanks to a great blow out and some snazzy wedges — the inside is a hurricane of emotion!

With hormones flying high and fantasies of being a stay-at-home mother swirling in my head, having to leave my children for work is very emotional for me. It is almost impossible to walk out the door without tearing up as the kids throw themselves around my ankles trying to keep me from leaving. On one hand, I am deeply touched that they want and need me so much, but I’m also deeply saddened that I have to leave and that I can’t just drop my bags and say, “Mommy is staying home today.”

Over the whirlwind of the last four months, I have become acutely aware about how I talk about the concept of “work” with my kids. It is so easy in these moments to be negative about having to work, to make it this big bad beast that is keeping Mommy from playtime, swim camp, and school trips. However, I’ve realized, as much as I would like to blame all of this on work, I can’t. And more than that, it’s just not healthy. It is incredibly important that I paint a positive picture of work for my children. It is imperative that they understand why I go and that it can be very fulfilling. I want the concept of work to be something they can look forward to as they grow older, so they are proud that I’m providing for our family and not angry that I am leaving.

Work is something I have to do. I can’t change that right now, but I can change how I present it to my kids so that is a positive thing in our household. I have started to tell them how much I will miss them and how much I can’t wait to get home to play but also that work is important because it can be very fun and it allows us to eat, live in our house, save for college and, of course, buy the all-important Legos!

My kids are already starting to understand this. In fact, this morning as I left the house, my 5-year-old said, “Mommy, I think maybe you should work more today because my birthday is coming up, and I would really like a big, lovely present.” I couldn’t help but smile.

Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas
Rosie Pope Solves Your Parenting Dilemmas

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Tags: | Categories: GoodyBlog

Parents GoodyBlog Giveaway: Enter for a Chance to Win a Tablet and Rio 2 Blu-Ray Movie

If you saw Rio the movie, then you probably saw Rio 2 this past spring–and loved it just as much! The music, the bright colors, and the friendly comedy throughout, makes it a great “must- see” for the entire family.

With its recent Blu-Ray and DVD release, you can own a copy for your kids to watch over and over again. From long car rides to the beach, to waiting at the airport terminal and trying to keep your kiddos entertained during the flight, Rio 2 is your film  for the summer!

To celebrate its release, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is offering ONE grand-prize winner a chance to receive a 7-inch, 16 GB ASUS Tablet from Google (worth $229) and his or her own Rio 2 Blu-Ray copy (valued at $39.99 and rated G).

And Fox Home Entertainment is giving FIVE other lucky readers the chance to receive his or her own Rio 2 Blu-Ray copy!

To enter, leave a comment below, up to one a day between today and the end of the day on July 22. Be sure to check back on June 23 and scroll to the bottom of the post to see who won. We reach out to winners via Facebook message (it goes into your “other” message folder on Facebook), so if you win, look for us there as well. We’ve also posted all the Official Rules. Goody luck!

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Best Deals for the Week Across the Web

By Susan Yoo-Lee, Editor of Savings.com

You’ve become quite the photography aficionado when it comes to your kids, but wouldn’t it be nice to actually do something with all those pics you’ve been shooting? Printing and framing all of them could cost hundreds – unless you use this week’s deals to score some great discounts on photo goodies from places like Picanova, Snapfish, iMemories and more.

So go ahead – snap away!

  1. Picanova50% off all orders, plus free shipping (Coupon code: SUMMERSAVER). Expires 7/30/2014.
  2. Snapfish100 free 4X6 prints a month for one year via the Snapfish Mobile App (No code needed). Must login to app by 7/27/2014.
  3. ZenfolioSave 10%, Up to $30 on new accounts (Coupon code: EPY-THW-SUR). Expires 2/1/2020.
  4. Canvas On Demand45% off all orders (Coupon code: GOBIG45). Expires 8/1/2014.
  5. iMemories20% off all orders (Coupon code: Save20). Expires 8/15/2014.

This post contains affiliate links.

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Healthy Living, Family Fun &…Disney On Ice Frozen!

Although the forecast may call for a hot-sunny day (and a trip to the pool), that doesn’t stop your kids from singing their favorite tune, “Do you want to build a snowman,” from Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, and we can’t blame them. Whether or not you are able to make it to Walt Disney World’s parks this summer, we know of another way your kiddos can see the Frozen characters–Frozen On Ice coming this fall!

In a first-ever agreement, Feld Entertainment, Inc, and Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt have paired up to combine healthy living, family fun and even more Frozen entertainment.

Feld Entertainment, Inc., announced today that Stonyfield Yokids is now the presenting U.S. sponsor of Disney On Ice and Disney Live; which can only mean one thing: Disney On Ice presents Frozen! This marks the first time Feld Entertainment has signed a national sponsor for its touring ice and stage shows and brings together their shared focus on a healthier lifestyle and nutritious eating, (plus Frozen on ice is the cherry on top!)

“We are very excited to announce the Stonyfield YoKids sponsorship,” said Feld Entertainment Executive Vice President and Disney Live! Producer Alana Feld.  “In this time of renewed focus on nutritious food choices and well-being, Feld Entertainment and Stonyfield believe that by joining together we can promote active, healthier lifestyle choices for families everywhere, particularly for children.  This is why Stonyfield YoKids is a natural fit as the presenting sponsor of Disney On Ice and Disney Live!” 

As if your children weren’t crazy about Frozen already, now you can enter to win a chance to see Frozen on ice! Exclusive to Disney On Ice presents Frozen Presented by Stonyfield YoKids is a national sweepstakes focusing on Olaf, the loveable snowman sidekick, titled, “Where Would You Go with Olaf in Summer?”  A grand-prize-winning family of four will travel to Orlando, Florida, to attend the opening night of Disney On Ice presents Frozen Presented by YoKids on September 4th at the Amway Center.   Additionally, weekly prizes of $150 worth of Disney On Ice presents Frozen merchandise, including exclusive collectibles from Disney’s Frozen, will be awarded.  For full contest details, visit www.FrozenOnIceInSummer.com.

What are your waiting for? Get your toes out of the sand, grab your kids (and maybe your fur coat) and go see the Disney On Ice Frozen presentation!

Want to plan your next trip to Walt Disney World? See how it can be a fun (and easy) experience for the entire family!

 

Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands
Walt Disney World: Ease Your Trip With Magic Bands

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8 Perfect First Birthday Gifts for Prince George

It seems like just yesterday that the whole world was waiting for the little kiddo dubbed the “Royal Baby” to be born. There were tons of questions: When would Kate go into labor? Would she welcome a boy or a girl? Would she and Prince William name their child something classic or surprise us all?

Even though a year has passed, people are just as in love with Baby George as ever. Parents only wish their little princes and princesses were among his playmates, and news outlets can’t stop snapping photos of the charismatic cutie.

While we’d eagerly drop everything to attend George’s actual birthday celebration, it doesn’t look like such an adventure is in the cards. Instead, we’ve rounded up a few items that would make suitable presents for the Royal One-Year-Old (or, if you’re feeling super spirited, for your own little prince or princess!). Click on the images below to shop.

The wheels on the (double decker) bus go round and round! Help accustom baby to his George’s neighborhood with this cute stroller toy that looks just like the iconic London buses. ($13, Mamas & Papas

So what if Baby was born with a silver spoon in his mouth? He’ll still get great use out of this aquatic-inspired Reed & Barton silverware set. It’s never to early to brush up on table manners, especially if dinner with the Queen is on the calendar! ($35, Amazon.com

Even royals aren’t perfect! This bib will protect Baby’s clothing from spills while reminding him of his true…or desired…identity. (£4.99, Jo’s Baby Gifts)

Georgie is still an only child, so live-in playmates will have to come in the form of furry friends for now. Support Mum and Dad’s alma mater with this cute teddy. (£16, University of St. Andrews store

Will George grow to love corgis like his great-grandmother? For now, he can dazzle her with this fun one-piece. ($30, Zazzle.com

There’s no place like home. Jazz up your British-themed nursery with a picture of George’s abode (the prints come in both blue and pink). ($44, Etsy.com

Even future rulers should save their pennies! This Jonathan Adler piggy bank is perfect for kings-to-be (there’s a queen design, too!). ($78, YoYo.com)

This Prince William night light comes in a classic pattern suitable for a little royal, plus it’s named after Dad! ($31, Wayfair.com

Still expecting? Learn about British names for your baby-to-be!

British Baby Names
British Baby Names
British Baby Names

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There’s A New Kind Of Circus In Town: Marvel Universe LIVE!

Summer is full of concerts, capades, and circuses for families to enjoy. But there’s a new show in town unlike anything you or your kids have ever seen: Marvel Universal LIVE! Before you brush this off as just another big arena show, think about this: The Avengers, X-Men, and Spider-Man all on a single stage. (I think your own little Spider-Man just lept to the ceiling in excitement.)

Produced by the creators of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey and Disney On Ice, comes a show of massive proportions. It’s an original story that brings together 25 heroes and villains from the Marvel Universe. The spectacle brings these icons to life “to show audiences their powers—things they could only imagine could exist in film or in animation,” according to Juliette Feld, the show’s producer and EVP of Feld Entertainment. From a wild live car chase to actors freefalling 26 feet, the stunts are big and the action explosive. Marvel Universal LIVE! uses never-before-seen technology and special effects to bring the comic book world to fruition for the whole family.

“We really try to create stuff that parents will love as much as the kids,” says Feld, who is pregnant with her first child. “I hope I have a good perspective on what is meaningful to moms and to dads because I’m one of them.” While the show is recommended for kids ages 5-12, Feld knows from experience that even younger kids can get into the hype: her baby reacts in utero to Feld’s time in rehearsal. “She really likes this scene where Thor is fighting Rhino and Lizard and Doc Ock,” laughs Feld. “There’s really heavy bass in that scene, so that might be what she’s responding to. I think she has her own hammer in there. She just starts knocking around!”

Marvel Universe LIVE! kicked off it’s 85-city tour last night in Tampa, FL as it brings the magic of superheroes (and the villains they battle) to audiences all over the globe.

Click her for other fun activities for you and your kids to enjoy this summer vacation.

Click here to find out if Marvel Universe LIVE! is coming to your city.

Make a mask and matching cape for your mini-hero!

How to Make DIY Capes and Masks
How to Make DIY Capes and Masks
How to Make DIY Capes and Masks

Photograph: Courtesy Marvel Universe LIVE!

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