Thrifty Florida Mom Money Saving Tips

Livie and Luca Deal

I wanted to share a deal I saw on-line with all my readers. One of our favorite shoe brands, Livie and Luca, is running a special on their navy blue Ruche Mary Janes. They are currently $24.99 a huge discount compared to the regular price of $62.00.

Check them out here at https://www.livieandluca.com/collections/mary-janes/products/ruche-mary-jane-navy-blue

We love Livie and Luca shoes due to their classic designs that go with everything and their durability. My daughter has been wearing the same pair for the last 6 months and they still look great. I love to find deals on high quality children’s items that I know will last and hold up versus buying something of lower quality that she will tear up in a short time period. With this deal these shoes are only a few dollars more than you might pay at a big box store but my experience is that the quality doesn’t even compare.

What do you think? Is it worth while to pay a few extra dollars for a higher quality product or does your little one grow so fast that you find it better to pay less? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Play

We’re Going on a Bug Hunt!

“We’re going on a Bug Hunt! We’re going to find a big one!”. My little one is a huge fan of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.

She has almost the whole book memorized and it is one of our go to bedtime books. This has lead to one of my favorite activities to keep her active and occupied while I am getting some housekeeping done nearby. While she counts I run around the room and hide plastic bugs for her to hunt.

I bought a bag of plastic bugs at our favorite second hand children’s store for $3.50. You can find similar ones on Amazon (This post contains affiliate links from which I make commissions if you purchase) by clicking below.

While I get my chores done my daughter searches for the bugs using her magnifying glass and binoculars that she received as a birthday gift. You can find them on Amazon by clicking on the affiliate links below.

She found a grasshopper!

For added fun I have her imagine going through the obstacles from the book like the swishy swashy long wavy grass or the squelch squerch thick oozy mud. It’s an easy set up activity and I have her “catch” the bugs back into her pink bin sot that the clean up is already complete.

What are your go to activities for when you need to keep your little one occupied so you can get something done around the house? We are always looking for new ideas to try. Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Thrifty Florida Mom Money Saving Tips

Rothy’s Discount for Healthcare Workers

Are you a front line healthcare worker? Rothy’s the eco-friendly shoe company is offering 50% off of their amazing recycled shoes. The shoes are made from recycled water bottles and are completely washable. I had been interested in them for a while, after they popped up on my Instagram feed but their price tag was a little too steep for me. One of my friends let me know about their generous 50% off offer for frontline healthcare workers and I decided that this was the time to try them out.

You can find out more about Rothy’s discount program for teachers, first responders and medical professionals like doctors, nurses or hospital staff at https://rothys.com/style/discount-deals-program. This includes a one time 50% off code for certain styles. You will have to verify your eligibility through SheerID and upload supporting documents like your professional license.

My shoes came in the mail today and they are so soft and comfortable! I am very happy with them so far. If you decide to try out Rothy’s leave us a comment and let us know what you think.

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Art History Projects

Exploring Monet Through Finger Painting

So, building on our previous post about Monet our next art project was finger painting inspired by Claude Monet’s “Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies”. I found several ideas on Pinterest, including one from http://www.artymommy.com and another from http://www.thecraftyclassroom.com and then modified them to fit the supplies that I already had at home and to what I thought would work best for my little one.

If you want to try it out for yourself at home here is a list of supplies that we used (“ThriftyFloridaMom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to http://www.amazon.com.”):

  • Small square canvas (this was left over from a pack I bought several years ago for another project but was similar to this one:
  • Finger Paints. We have been using this set for the last several years:
  • Painter’s Tape similar to this one:

I like to do all our finger painting projects out on the lanai as it makes for easier clean up. We did this particular project over 3 days time in order to let the paint dry in between each stage. (It also gave us a go to fun activity to do over the course of several days).

The first thing I did was place the painter’s tape on the canvas. I tore several small pieces in order to make the arched design I wanted to mimic the bridge. Next, I set up a paper plate with the finger paints squeezed out. We used warm colors on the first day. I showed my daughter how to make the impressionism type look by using her fingers to make dots on the canvas.

We let the warm tones drive overnight and then came back the next day and repeated the same process with cool tones.

We once again left the paint to dry overnight and then removed the painters tape to show the shape of the bridge. I then helped my little one to finger paint in the bridge. Since our paint set did not include brown pain we mixed the paint together to get the brown color. This way we also got to talk about how if you mix colors together you can get a new color. I forgot to grab a picture at this stage but here is our finished project.

It even got a spot on the mantle!

So what do you think of our Monet project? Did you try it with your little one? How did it turn out? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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Toddler Toy Recommendations

Toy Recommendations for Two Year Olds

(Disclaimer: thriftyflordiamom.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Clicking on the photographs links you to Amazon.com)

1. Playdough and Playdough tools

Playdough is always a big favorite at our house. And it always seems that we go through quite a bit of it. I also found that it is a great way to encourage fine motor movements and use of common objects like playdough scissors or tweezers. My little one also loves to use her playdough pizza cutter and rolling pin. If you prefer (for whatever reason) you can also make your own playdough at home. A quick google search reveals a variety of recipes. Another tip would be to use plastic silverware and plastic cookie cutters that you already have at home to supplement your playdough play.

2. Melissa and Doug Easel

We were fortunate to find this Melissa and Doug Easel at our favorite second hand children’s store here locally and we have used it almost every day since. We use it a multitude of ways, with chalk on the one side, with dry erase markers on the other, with the clips to hold up paper for painting or coloring. During the winter we put it out on the lanai and then don’t have to worry about how big a mess we make with the paint.

3. Boon Bathtub Toys

These bathtub toys have been such a huge hit at our house that I have given them as birthday gifts several times since. My little one loves pouring and catching water through them. Also they actually stick really well to the bathtub compared to some other similar toys. This is also a little bit of a negative as my little one is unable to move them herself.

4. LeapFrog Tad’s Fridge Phonics Magnetic Letter Set

We got an older version of this toy as a hand me down from a friend and it has remained a favorite since I brought it home. My daughter loves to take the different letters in and out to hear the phonics. We use it on our metal exterior door as opposed to the refrigerator which gives her more space to play. We have also used the magnetic letters to work on letter recognition, matching games with capital and lowercase letters and to start working on simple spelling, like spelling her name. At the age of 2 she was able to correctly identify approximately 10 letters, even pointing out certain letters on products in the grocery store which I attribute partially to this toy.

5. Cozy Coupe

This classic has proven to be a fun addition to our outdoor toys. My little one loves to get in, open and close the doors and turn her key. Various baby dolls are also along for the ride. This toy is great because it gets her moving and works on reciprocal lower extremity movements. We found ours at our favorite used children’s store for more than half off the original price. Some times it pays to buy used and put the difference towards an item she will enjoy later when she is older.

6. Mr./Mrs. Potato Head

Another classic toy comes in next on our list. We used Mr. Potato Head a lot when she was attending speech therapy to work on a variety of words including more, please, thank you and different body parts. My daughter also loves to laugh and giggle when she puts the parts in the wrong order. We also used this toy when we were working on learning about Pablo Picasso and modern art. Check out our art history section for suggestions for introducing your little one to one of the greats!

7. Kinetic Sand

Kinetic Sand is another great indoor activity on a cold or rainy day. Our set came with miniature sand toys with which she can build small sand castles. My little one loves how the sand sticks together easier than regular sand and mom enjoys that it makes it easier to clean up. We play kinetic sand in her highchair in order to help keep it contained. This is another activity that you can DIY with several recipes available with a quick google search.

8. Water Beads

We were introduced to water beads at a friends first birthday party. They are a great sensory activity. I will hide small plastic toys in the water beads in order to add to the fun. We ordered one bag of water beads over a year ago and still have lots left as they expand so much.

9. Bubble Machine

My little one loves anything that has to do with bubbles. We did purchase a bubble machine to use while she is playing with her bubbles as it just helps to make so many more bubbles while she is blowing bubbles. It also cuts down on the amount of bubbles Mom and Dad have to blow!

10. Melissa and Doug Cutting Fruit

I found this set used and it has provided endless hours of fun. My little one loves “cutting” the fruit with the wooden knife and then sticking it back together with the Velcro. I also like that it works on a functional real world activity without the risk of a real knife.

What toys does your two year old love to play with? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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Toddler Toy Recommendations

Toy Recommendations for One Year Olds

Building on my previous post here is the list of toys that were the most loved in our house when my daughter was one. (Disclaimer: thriftyflordiamom.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Clicking on the photographs links you to Amazon.com)

1. Mega Blocks

Blocks are a great way to work on midline play and bilateral coordination. We like the Mega Bloks as they are large enough to not have to worry about choking hazards but still work well with little hands. At first you will have to assist more but once your little one gets the hang of them they will be able to but them together themselves. We got lucky and found some Mega Bloks on clearance after Christmas at Bells and were able to use our Bells Bucks to get them for almost free. I’ve included a link to Amazon below as I have personally not run across that deal since. Has anyone found Mega Bloks on clearance anywhere? Leave us a comment and let us know.


2. Shape Sorter

My little one received the shape sorter below as a first birthday gift. It was perfect! The shapes are large enough to not worry about choking but the small overall size helped make it an easy toy to take along and did not take up too much space in the toy bin. I liked this toy to help work on shape recognition and matching.

3. Chunky Puzzles or Sound Puzzles

My little one loved puzzles at one and the large chunky puzzles by Melissa and Doug were just the right size for her little hands. We also loved the puzzles that made sounds, in particular the ones that made animal sounds as she was learning to talk. We would mimic the sounds while playing with the puzzles to help work on her speech and different sounds.

4. Egg Shakers

Little ones love to make music. We would use all kinds of household items to bang on especially our metal pots and pans. She also received a music set as a first birthday gift from a friend but by far her favorite instrument at one were shaker eggs like these. They fit just right in her little hands and she loved the sound they made. Check out these below on Amazon.

5. Toys that encourage pretending (Cleaning toys, cooking toys, baby dolls)

It’s never too early to introduce your child to playing pretend. Studies have shown that pretending is an important part of children’s development. My one year old loved to mimic what Mommy was doing around home. For her first birthday she received this Melissa and Doug set as a gift. She loved to mimic Mommy and sweep the floor.

Here she is using the broom (when I witnessed it Mommy couldn’t help but run and put on her bonnet to make her look like a sweet little “Little House” character. (If you have money to splurge and love classic children’s looks check out The Beaufort Bonnet Company at

https://www.thebeaufortbonnetcompany.com

Play Kitchens are another great idea. We were fortunate enough to get this model as a hand me down. It’s perfect for one year olds as it is height adjustable. My little one loved to take things in and out of the refrigerator and microwave at that age.

Baby dolls are another great idea. We particularly like plastic baby dolls like the one below as my daughter is able to take them with her into the bathtub and the pool. She has a very similar bathtub toy as this that she now plays with that she is older. It makes for a great hot day activity.

6. Push/Ride Toy

My daughter received this ride on toy as a birthday gift for her first birthday and it was perfect. She could sit and ride on it, stand and push it from behind and she loved pushing all the buttons and playing music. The seat also lifts up to a small storage area underneath and she enjoyed taking small toys in and out. It provided endless hours of fun.

7. Pounding Toy

What little one doesn’t love to bang? This toy helped with hand eye coordination. We also would use it when working with her speech, repeating up and down.

8. Sand/Water Table

While this is a more expensive pick it does make for a great one year old gift. All of my nieces and nephews also love to dig in the sand and play in the water. On a recent visit to a children’s museum the water table was the highlight and the busiest area. My family up north will put their sand and water table in the basement during the winter to allow the kids to continue to play. If you have the ability in your budget to accommodate such a item I would highly recommend it.

9. Dimpl

10. Wooden Rainbow Stacker

What is toys does your 1 year old love? What would you add or subtract from this list? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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Toddler Toy Recommendations

Toy Recommendations for Infants

I know that a lot of people are working on a very different income level then normal but for those that are looking for ideas on how to keep their little ones occupied during all this time at home I thought I would start a series on recommended toys for different ages. These recommendations come from personal experience as well as from my experience with my daughter receiving rehab for torticollis as an infant. (Disclaimer: thriftyflordiamom.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com). If interested in the products click on the picture for a link to Amazon.

1. Baby Gym

So for those who are not familiar a baby gym refers to a mat with an overhand from which to hang toys. My personal favorite is the Skip Hop Explore & More Amazing Arch Baby Play Mat Activity Gym. While this baby gym is more expensive than several of it’s competitors I do feel it is worth the splurge due to the fact that it contains so many different functions compared to other baby gyms. The entire baby gym arch moves positions and comes down all the way to the side allowing your infant to look at the toys more closely in sidelying and during tummy time which works on core and neck strength. Regular baby gyms with stationary arches only encourage play on the infants back which is a position that most infants already spend a lot of time in. This particular baby gym also includes a mirror which can be a great source of motivation during tummy time as well as encouraging self awareness and social skills.

2. Plastic Links

My next suggestion would be plastic toy links such as those pictured below. They can be used in coordination with the baby gym listed above to bring toys down even lower and to add your own high contrast baby toys. They can also be used in coordination with your car seat or cart cover.

3. Soft Toys

To build upon the recommendations above I would also recommend 2-3 soft hanging toys. My first pick in this area would be Lamaze Freddy the Firefly. This was a direct recommendation from my daughter’s physical therapist and became a quick favorite. It crinkles, includes a small mirror and rings, all things that encouraged my little one to reach and grasp.

Other recommendations would be for high contrast toys which can be used with small infants while their vision is more limited. I personally like the Baby Einstein Primary Pages High Contrast Book as it also encourages an early love for reading.

My daughter also loved to look and coo at a stuffed zebra that her grandmother had purchased for her. Even at only two weeks old I could prop it along the edge of her bassinet for play time and she loved it. As with all infant toys I would only recommend that this be used for supervised play to avoid unintentional airway obstruction.

4. Ball Drop Toy

I purchased a ball drop toy after seeing my daughter respond well to it at physical therapy. This was a toy that I struggled to find used and wound up being one of the most expensive infant toys that I purchased for her. The particular one that we used was the Fisher Price Roll-a-Rounds Swirlin Surprise Gumballs. It was a great toy for us as it encouraged sitting, reaching and pushing on the lever. She loved the songs and lights which seem to motivate her to play. I also used the gumballs as a separate toy for tummy time by rolling the balls slightly away from her to encourage reaching in supine and unilateral upper extremity propping to encourage weight shifting prior to crawling.

This particular toy appears to no longer be in production. I have seen it at my local used children’s store if you are able to wait for things to open back up. If not I found a similar version on Amazon by clicking the image below.

5. Wrist/Ankle Rattles

I chose these wrist/ankle rattles due to the high contrast colors. We had a similar set when my daughter was an infant which encouraged extremity movement and her attempting to bring her hands to her mouth.

6. Ring Stacker

This classic toy was such a favorite in our household that I now often purchase it as a baby shower gift for friends. The large rings are just the right size for the baby to grasp and shake. They can encourage sitting, reaching across midline and bringing hands to the mouth. It also works on hand eye coordination and cause and effect.

7. LeapFrog Learn and Groove Musical Table

There are a wide variety of these type of tables on the market. We received this particular one as a baby shower gift and it wound up being perfect for us. The biggest advantage of this particular table was the removable legs. I used it with her as a young infant by removing all the legs and placing the table on the floor for her to look at and listen to as I placed her on a swiss ball to encourage tummy time. As she got older and stronger I would have her prone prop on elbows with two legs removed in order to encourage her to lift her head. Later I placed it flat again to encourage trunk control during sitting and reaching.

As my daughter got older I replaced two legs in order to encourage tall kneeling.

Finally as she got older and stronger I placed all the legs back on the table and we used it to encourage pulling to standing and cruising.

8. VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker

I found one of these at my favorite used children’s store when my daughter was about 6 months old. We first used it with her sitting in front of it and pushing the buttons. She particularly loved the little phone. How is it that babies always seem to understand how phones work? It also encouraged wrist extension while working on a vertical surface which helps later in lift with things such as writing. Later she used it to push prior to learning how to walk on her own. You can find one on Amazon by clicking the picture below.

What toys does your infant love? Any other thoughts or suggestions. Leave us a comment below.

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Art History Projects

Art History Fun: Monet

Here is a review of how I taught my little one about Monet prior to our next art history project for toddlers, Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies. Check back soon to see how we completed the project and how it went!

Going forward with our art history lessons I chose Monet as our next artist to explore. I chose this artist as I felt that there were a lot of strong preschool resources that corresponded with Claude Monet. I started off by reading my little one Where is the Frog?: A Children’s Book Inspired by Claude Monet by Geraldine Elschner. This cute children’s book uses Monet’s water lily paintings as the background into which a small frog tries to place herself into his work. For more information click on the photo below for a link to Amazon (We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.)

After reading the book I attempted to reinforce Monet and his work by having my little one watch a DVD of another famous children’s book about Monet: Linnea in Monet’s Garden. The story follows a young girl as she travels to Claude Monet’s garden, sees his paintings and learns what it means to be an Impressionist.

If you are uncertain if your little one will be interested in Monet or you are don’t know that you want to purchase the items linked above don’t forget to check out your local library to see if they have these items or are able to request them from another library for your use. I was also able to find Linnea in Monet’s Garden on YouTube. Check out the blog tomorrow for our art project we completed to correspond with these works! Any suggestions for which artist we should try next? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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Fine Motor Fun, Reading Extension Activities, Working to Make Gross Motor Gains

Celebrating Dr. Seuss

My daughter is celebrating Dr. Seuss this week at her school. We decided to bring the fun home by decorating her bedroom door. Last year around Easter I found a lot of Dr. Seuss items on clearance at Target including stickers, toys and bulletin board items. I pulled one set of bulletin board decorations out and let her go to town. I paid $1.50 for these items last spring.

I put up the high cut outs while my little one put up the low ones.

I had my daughter work on her fine motor and practical skills during this activity by having her practice tearing and applying the tape. I worked with her on rolling the tape in a circle to make it double sided.

We addressed gross motor by having her go from sitting on the floor to standing and reaching to apply the characters.

I also gifted her a small Cat in the Hat toy that I found at Target in the clearance items last spring for $2.98. You can see him at the bottom of the door. Now she is very excited to go to school tomorrow and participate in their week long activities. I haven’t been to Target lately, has anyone noticed if they have any Dr. Seuss items again this year? Do you have any suggestions for any Dr. Seuss crafts that she may enjoy? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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Attention Target Shoppers, Thrifty Florida Mom Money Saving Tips

Attention Deal Seekers: Valentine’s Clearance at Target

Before I had a little one I did not decorate for any holidays except major holidays like Christmas and Easter. Now that I see all of the enjoyment that she gets out of decorating that house we decorate for all the smaller holidays too. Since the price of decorations can quickly add up I have been slowly building up my stock by picking things up on clearance after the holiday. This weekend I stopped by Target to see what I could find.

While I struck out on Valentine’s decorations at my local store I still didn’t walk away empty handed. Here are a few deals that I found:

Thomas & Friends Wooden Toys 50% off

There’s nothing like the Target Toy Clearance!

Stuffed Animals for my birthday bin (I keep a Rubbermaid container that I use year round for last minute gift ideas for kids birthdays) 50% off in the Valentine’s section (but with no specific Valentine’s Day mention anywhere on the toys).

And finally these super cute rose gold Stride Rite shoes for $7.48, 70% off regular price.

Are you finding any great deals at your local Target? Leave us a comment and let us know!

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