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Milk and Cookies

with Kristen

I'm a mother of five, a bargain hunter, a recreational comparison shopper, and always trying to make more time - for me and for you, too. On this blog I'm sharing my favorite tools and finds to help make your work-life juggle a bit easier.

You can find my personal blog at

Shopping ideas for summer fun

Categories: Books, Crafts and activities, Elementary school kids, Managing stress, On the web, Toys, games

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Normally this time of year I’m buying a batch of Summer Survival Gear Treats. I like to buy a new CD for the driving back and forth to lessons and camp; a new outdoor toy or two; a new board game; some craft supplies; maybe a new video game.

This year, we seem to be all set. We’ve bought all the CDs, and/or the kids are too old for them now. (I’d like to get The Book of Mormon soundtrack because they’ve loved the few songs I’ve shown them on YouTube, but the lyrics to a lot of them are…not ones I want them singing absentmindedly next year in school.) We already own a Stomp Rocket and a plasma car and a hula hoop and some jump ropes and a scooter. We’ve got Skip-bo and Wits & Wagers and Scrambled States. Our video game shelf and craft bin overfloweth, and I just got a big bag of kid books from the library book sale.

I did buy one thing:

Webkinz Deluxe Membership (screen shot from, which gives access to a bunch of otherwise-locked games and merchandise and so forth on the Webkinz site. The tipping point for me was a sale: normally it’s $45 for a year’s membership, but June 10th-13th it’s on sale for $33.74. (If you want to get the 3-month one so it’s just a summer thing, it’s $11.24.) The year-long one comes with the ability to add other accounts for $5 each, so I got it for myself (*embarrassed cough*) and added the three kids who play Webkinz. It’s hard for me to explain how thrilling this has been for us, and in fact I find I’m reluctant to try to persuade you that this isn’t a very foolish thing to spend money on, and maybe we should just change the subject. But it was Very Exciting for four of us at my house, and the year-long subscription also comes with a free Webkinz pet (online version only, no plush version), a fawn I kept for myself. It also comes with a monthly batch of virtual money, so I am saving up for a Sun Fox. …Okay, NOW I’m too embarrassed to discuss it anymore. (SUN FOX FOR ME!)

I will warn you that the Ganz/Webkinz site made me nearly crazy with frustration. This was me for an hour: “Why! can’t! I find out! how to sign up for! THE DELUXE MEMBERSHIP YOU CONSTANTLY NAG US TO SIGN UP FOR!??” Every link I clicked just brought me to INFORMATION and PROMOTION, but no “Here’s where to make this dream a reality.” I tried about a million things before succeeding, but I think the key was that I had to create a Ganz account first (separate from my Webkinz account), and THEN sign up.

This year’s fun outdoor toy was provided by my parents, as a gift for Henry’s birthday: an Air Hunterz Z-Curve Bow (photo from I added another 3-pack of arrows, for less arrow-chasing. This toy has been a hit with four of my five children (the boy ones), and now several of them want to take archery lessons.

For general and flexible entertainment, I recommend the National Geographic Ultimate Weird But True book (photo from Elizabeth tells me that what’s “Ultimate” about it is that it’s a combination of several smaller previous books. It has been handed around and around in our house, and brought on many car rides.

I might finally buy Bananagrams (photo from I played it at my brother and sister-in-law’s house and it was really fun. We tried playing it at home with regular Scrabble tiles, but it didn’t work as well; I wonder if the proportions of letters are different? I keep putting off buying it because it seems like it costs more than it should.

Oh. Wait. I did buy one more thing:

Webkinz Trading Cards (photo from I thought these would be fun for those of us currently in the Webkinz craze. I gave three packs (the box contains thirty-six packs) to each of the twins for their birthdays, and I thought I’d save the rest for myself to pass out gradually on rainy days, and/or to bring to future birthday parties, or to include with future Webkinz-animal gifts. At the price I paid, it’s about 75 cents per pack, and each pack contains four trading cards, one card of stickers, and one card with a code on it that gets you a free surprise item on Webkinz. The twins really like theirs, and one of Elizabeth’s codes was for another Webkinz pet (online only—no plush version) and that was pretty exciting.

Unbored, by Elizabeth Foy Larsen (photo from I won a copy of this book in a Catherine Newman giveaway, and it’s been GREAT. I gave it to the kids for Christmas; then, when the fad for it had died back a bit, I hid it away to save it for summer. A+++++ would win again.

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