October 24, 2015

Inexpensive DIY Halloween Party

Big R wanted to have a Halloween Party this year.  I thought it sounded fun and jumped on pinterest to start looking for some ideas.  I've been picking up items to use as prizes and treats on Clearance for the last 6 months.  The girls helped me make a lot of the decorations and games.  It was fun to work on these projects together.

Having lost track of what I have spent over such a long period of time, I feel comfortable guessing that I spent about $50 on this party.  Almost everything was purchased at the dollar store or on clearance through oriental trading when they offered free shipping on any order.  We had a lot of snacks, candy and prizes left over so I definitely could have spent less and still had just as great of a party.

There were a total of 10 children at the party ranging in age from 4 - 9. The guests arrived dressed in their Halloween Costumes.  All the kids had a great time.  I heard one little girl tell her mom it was the "Best Party Ever" as she was leaving.

Food:  Zombie Virus and Witches Brew - $1 each Fruit Punch and Root beer from the Dollar Tree with construction paper wrapped around the bottle and labels that I printed out.

Snacks - All $1 or less from Dollar Tree or marked down at Aldi - Honey Wheat Pretzels, Butter Popcorn (2 bags popped), white cheddar popcorn, sour cream and cheddar chips, banana chips

Decorations - We used white balloons with white streamers taped on them to make ghosts.  Plus we used a lot of the decorations we already had.  Here were a couple others:

Bloody Towel - used a really old kitchen towel and food coloring. Unfortunately,
the food coloring didn't dry all the way and I had to take
this down after someone came out of the bathroom with orange hands.
Bright Orange and Green spider webs were everywhere.  
The bloody hand prints were one of the most expensive decorations.
I think I paid $3 but it came with a large sheet of them. We had them all
through the living room and going down into the basement.
Treats and prizes:

Treat Bags - I got packs 6 bags for $1.15 each.  The girls and I had to put them together.
We put glue on the witches and bats and covered them with glitter.  Then
glued them to the bags and I wrote each child's name on their bag.
Prize Table -   Most of these I bought on clearance for $1 - $2 for packs of 12.
At the end of the party, I let the kids take whatever they wanted that was left over.
There were candy goody bags,ghost finger puppets, skull key chains,
monster had tattoos, Frankenstein sticker scenes, Halloween activity
books, glow bracelets, spider rings.
Games: I tried to make the games out of items I had around the house.  

Ring Toss - We did a ring toss using glow in the dark necklaces that I had bought on clearance at the dollar store - $.50 for a pack of 2.  I didn't buy them for the party, just had them on hand because my kids like them so I picked them up when they were cheap.  The kids tossed the necklaces around a pumpkin (already had on hand) a roll of paper towels with a ghost face drawn on it and a roll of toilet paper with a ghost face drawn on it.  

Halloween Bingo - Printed bingo game from a website for free.  Used candy corn as the markers for the Bingo Boards.

Balloon Stomp - We had over 100 balloons in the basement.  About 75% had 1 or 2 pieces of candy in them.  We used tootsie rolls, bubble gum and smarties.

Pass the Pumpkin - This was the kids favorite game of the party.  All the kids sat in a circle and passed the pumpkin around the circle.  We used a small pumpkin we already had on hand and played Halloween music. When the music stopped whoever had the pumpkin was out.  The last person still in, won a prize.  I think we played this 6 or 7 times because everyone liked it so much.

Sucker Pull - Each kid chose a sucker that was stuck into a foam pumpkin.  One sucker had the bottom of the stick colored in with black marker.  The person who pulled out that sucker won a prize.

Bean Bag Toss - Using containers I had on hand like a coffee container, Styrofoam bowls and a peanut can, we decorated the containers using markers, construction paper and glue, all of which we already had on hand.  The bean bags were from a bean bag toss game the girls got for Christmas last year.  I put candy in the containers and if a bean bag landed in the container, the child got to keep the candy.

Pin the spider on the web - Drew a spider web on a large piece of poster board.  Then drew spiders on construction paper and cut them out; added double stick tape to the backs of the spiders.  Used a sleep mask Big R had for the blind fold.

October 15, 2015

Changing Jobs and Dealing with Insurance/COBRA

My last day at my old job is officially tomorrow but I took a vacation day.  I should have about 40 hours left of PTO that will be added to my last pay check.

My current insurance coverage will end on Saturday.  Our new coverage will begin November 1st. Mr. R will actually be joining the plan that is offered through his work.  It's a really great plan and the cost is low for the individual employee.  His work just doesn't help pay anything towards the family premiums.

So my new job will be providing the health insurance for me and the girls.  They are paying 50% of the premium and the other 50% will be deducted from my pay.  It's a pretty good plan, comparable to what we are used to.

If I'm understanding how COBRA works correctly, then I should be receiving paperwork to opt in to COBRA in the next week or so.  If I elect to join COBRA, then our coverage will have started on October 16, which is the date my previous coverage ends.  

Hopefully we won't need any medical care for those 2 weeks, but if something did happen I'll be able to elect to continue my old coverage.  If we get to November 1st without any medical needs, then I won't elect to continue coverage since we will be covered under the new policy.

Neither of our jobs offer Dental Insurance.  I've been reviewing policies with different insurance companies and am having a hard time deciding if it's worth it to pay for coverage or just self insure, putting the same amount of money that we would spend per month away in savings in case we need anything done.  I have great teeth with little problems but my husband and daughters seem to always need something done.

Before I make a decision, I need to review what I had been paying for our old plan and exactly what the coverage was compared to the costs and coverage of new plans now that I don't have a job paying part of my premiums.

Changing jobs is a lot of work!

October 4, 2015

Getting ready for our Surprise Vacation

We leave in just a couple days for a big surprise!  When our girls get off the bus on Wednesday, we are putting them straight into the car and starting our drive south.

The girls think we are going to the American Girl Store in Columbus.  What they don't know, is that we will be heading to Myrtle Beach for a long weekend and we are actually stopping at the American Girl Store in Charlotte.

I'm so excited and proud of myself for keeping this vacation a secret from the girls.  I think Big R is suspicious as she has questioned me a few times about what Mr. R and I have said when we thought she wasn't listening.

We'll be driving 4 hours Wednesday night before stopping at a hotel for the night.  I have a room already booked for us and got a great deal on it by pre-paying  for it.

On Thursday morning we will have another 3 hour drive to get to the American Girl Store where we will have lunch and the girls will get to do some shopping with their Birthday money and chores money.  I plan to add an extra $20 to each of the girls shopping money.

Then we have another 3 hour drive to get to our hotel in Myrtle Beach.  My goal for this vacation is to have an inexpensive trip just enjoying the hotel and beach.  We have a suite with a kitchen so I plan to pack lots of snacks, drinks, and food for breakfasts and lunches; limiting eating out to once per day.

I'm really excited for the surprise of the trip for the girls.  But not being able to count down the wake ups until our vacation with the girls has made it less exciting for me.  I like the build up of excitement before a vacation and since we can't talk about it very much without the girls hearing, that excitement just doesn't seem to be there.

Just 3 more wake-ups... And hopefully the bad weather from the hurricane will be passed by the time we get to the beach.