11/27/16

STL Experience Gifts/Memberships


This year, I’m getting all into the thought of gifting experiences. Kids these days are usually showered with way too many toys, only half of which they probably really need or want. So, the idea of giving experiences keeps standing out to me like a sore thumb.

That said, I wanted to make a list of the most popular memberships in the St. Louis, MO area that would be perfect to give as a gift this holiday season.


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The Science Center is great for curious minds. They have rotating exhibits all year round, and kids can burn off energy for hours while learning all sorts of things!

- Free parking on every visit (one vehicle).
- 10 free Omnimax tickets.
- 6 free Planetarium tickets.
- 6 free Discovery Room tickets.
- Free phone reservations.
- 10% discount in shops.
- $25 off of a Birthday Party package.
- Members only preview events.
- Subscription to newScience Magazine.

*Additional membership levels available.



*****





While the St. Louis Zoo might have free entry to the public, there are loads of kids’ to-dos in the park that do cost money. A membership helps parents to keep sane and save some dough.

***Buy a gift membership for the holidays and get a free STL Zoo ornament!***

36 Anywhere Passes.
    - Free parking for 6 visits
    - Zoo calendar and member magazine subscription.
    - Discounts on food and gift shop purchases.
    - E-newsletters and Zoo news.
    - And more!

*Higher membership levels are available.



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(MBG membership includes membership to Butterfly House and Shaw Nature Reserve)

Most people don't think of the Botanical Garden as a play area for kids, but they actually have a pretty awesome tree house type play area. Plus, they have great members only events to avoid the holiday chaos (think Easter egg hunting, trick-or-treating, etc.). 

- General Admission.
- 2 Membership Cards.
- Free Admission to Children's Garden on Tuesdays and Saturday mornings.
- Member Tuesday Nights.
- Annual floral show previews.
- Bulletin magazine subscriptions.
- Annual thank-you gift.
- 6 Tram tour passes.
- Discounts on classes.
- Reduced admission to festivals.

*Many more membership levels available.



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This one is pretty self-explanatory. Roller coasters, thrill rides, funnel cakes.... FUN! Now you can add food passes to your season pass/membership, parking passes, and more!

****Cyber Monday Deal Alert****

- Unlimited admission.
- Unlimited admission to ALL Six Flags' in America.
- Free parking all season long.
- Bring a friend free days.
- In-park savings.
- Exclusive ride time events.
- Park admission to Fright Fest.
- Park admission to Holiday in the Park.

*Season pass upgrades are available for additional rates.



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If you haven't heard of Kidzxplor before, then you're in for a treat! It's a monthly subscription to hundreds of classes and events for kids (some for adults too) all over the STL.


View membership details HERE.

*E-gift Certificates offer discounts for multiple month purchases.



*****





The Magic House isn't for the out-of-shape. It's 4 floors of non-stop interactive fun. Adults get to run and play with the kids as well, which makes it that much more enjoyable. Expect a tuckered out kiddo.

- Unlimited free admission for two named adults and dependent children.
- 8 free guest passes.
- 50% discount to 200 museums nationwide.
- Discount on birthday partied and summer camp.

*Lower and higher priced memberships available.



*****



Transportation Museum


Located in Kirkwood, the Transportation Museum is a hidden gem of fun. Trains, planes and automobiles are just the beginning of what to see (and do) at this attraction.

Coachman Membership - $45.00
- Free admission for up to SIX guests per visit.
- Invitation to Special Events.
- 10% off all gift shop purchases (online or in store).
- Birthday party and facility rental discounts.

*Additional membership levels available.



*****



City Museum


The City Museum is in the heart of downtown STL. It is numerous floors of fun for both kids and adults. You can literally get lost for hours. 

Level 1 Membership - $200
- 20 visits throughout the year, up to 7 people per visit.
- Unlimited visits in January and September.
- 10% discount in Museum gift shop.
- 10% discount on Circus Harmony classes.
- Rooftop admission.

*Additional membership levels available.


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Grant's Farm


This ever-popular locale is offering memberships now! New to 2016, families who cherish their Grant's Farm tours and goat feedings can purchase a one-year pass that is sure to please.

Membership Package - $TBD
- Free parking all season long.
- 5 Bring-a-friend parking passes.
- 50 Goat or carousel passes.
- Unlimited paddleboat rides.
- 10% discount at all gift shops.

**Membership sales opportunities are at limited sales times, TBD. They are not available for purchase at this time. You can call Grant's Farm directly for more information: 314-525-0829.**



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St. Peters Rec-Plex


For those of you out in the St. Charles County area (off the beaten path, haha), the best membership deal around is the St Peters Rec-Plex. It boasts everything from swimming, to ice skating, and a million things in between!

Non-Resident 1-Year Membership - $578
- State-of-the-art fitness equipment.
- Indoor track for walking and running.
- Gymnasium for basketball and volleyball.
- HUGE leisure pool with waterslide.
- Even BIGGER pool for laps and diving.
- Public ice skating.
- Group aerobics classes.
- Use of any St. Peters outdoor pool.
- Family locker rooms.
- Discounted Tot Drop babysitting services.
- Discounts on other classes and golf fees/rates.

*Gold memberships available that offer even MORE free benefits!



*****


For more Experience Gift ideas, visit STL Fun 4 Kids to see what other options are available. Even if it's not a membership, almost every venue offers gift certificates!


11/15/16

Don't Give Presents, Give Experiences with Kidzxplor! | **Enter to Win**


How many of you parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles out there have noticed just how many toys kids have these days? I can tell you that we have toys coming out of the woodwork at our house. I’ve had to start creating cubbies to “hide” toys in plain sight. Behind the glider, in the closets, in the dark and mysterious corners of the kids’ rooms… I’ve pretty much had it up to the proverbial “here” with the amount of toys that we have.

I know, I know, it’s my own fault. My kids didn’t get part time jobs to support their toy habit, it was all me. But come on, they’re just too cute to not surprise with all sorts of little goodies. Ugh, I'm creating brats, aren't I?

Anyway, the one thing I've been preaching to anyone that will listen, is that we should all think more about giving Experience "gifts." Meaning, a Zoo Membership, Botanical Garden Membership, or better yet, one thing that could offer a wide variety of options... Kidzxplor.


I got a chance to try out the program for an entire month for my two kiddos. If you've been under a rock and haven't seen my posts about the program so far, here it is in a nutshell: $99 per month gets you unlimited access to all sorts of exclusive classes around the city - Swimming lessons, gymnastics, Spanish classes, art workshops, story times, and soooooooo much more. This service/program is what I think a lot of Moms out there are looking for; a flat rate for loads of options. 

Kidzxplor really does take the grunt work out of figuring out what to do this weekend. I mean, it's all listed out in one place, and it's already paid for with your membership. Easy peasy.



If you're still on the fence about trying out Kidzxplor (even after I posted all of the fun pictures), make sure you read this next paragraph because I really wanted to get one BIG point across:

It's worth the money if you have the time. In the one month alone, we would have spent $135 on the classes we went to... that was 5 classes. We could have utilized it so much more too, if we just had the time. The hubs could have taken Alice to swimming lessons, if he could swim (okay, so this one wasn't a time issue). I could have taken Emma to gymnastics classes after work, if it weren't 45 minutes away. I could have done fitness classes for myself with Alice in the stroller if I didn't work full-time. If you have the time, Kidzxplor is a no-brainer. $99 for hundreds of dollars of fun.

With that said, here is a Promo Code to get 50% off of your first month of Kidzxplor, to see just how good it is: KIDZFRIEND

There is no catch and you can cancel at any time (online too, so you don't have to worry about sales people). That's $50 for soccer lessons, music classes, tennis lessons, dance classes, martial arts classes, cheerleading workshops, and my favorite... trampoline jumping open play. Again, a no-brainer.


If you're a Grandparent reading this, thinking that it would be perfect for your grandkid(s), you're right! And luckily Kidzxplor is launching their eGiftCard option on their site today, just in time for the Holidays. 


Who needs hundreds of dollars of more toys when they could get out and let loose?!?

If you want to see what some other families did with their Kidzxplor membership, check them out here:

STL Motherhood  |  Play St. Louis  |  And Hattie Makes Three



I have one last thing for you before I go into the nitty-gritty details... a Raffle for a 3 Month membership to Kidzxplor! Enter to win using this link:


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I received a one month membership to Kidzxplor for both of my children, for my honest opinion and review. I was not swayed in any way, and all thoughts are my own.

PROS:
- There are many, MANY classes to choose from.
- They add new classes/venues all the time.
- There are early morning and early evening classes.
- There are classes that adults can play in too.
- There are classes here and there and all over the STL area.
- It is a one time per month fee and you don't have to hassle with paying when arriving.
-The website is easy to navigate; you can filter by child, location, etc.

CONS:
- Most of the classes are during the day which makes it harder for working parents.
- There are not many locations in St. Charles County or North County. *Most are West and South.
- Some classes have a limit per month (most popular classes). *However, this is to ensure that it's not always the same people attending... share the wealth.
- It is a steep $99, so you want to make sure to get your classes in to get your money's worth.
- Usually children under 2 are a discounted rate or free to some places, but it's the same price for all kids regardless of age.

Kidzxplor is growing rapidly. During my month though, there were not any classes I was interested in within a 20 mile radius of me. Everything was a far drive. However, they have since then added at least 15 more locations, some of which might be a little closer.

It would also be helpful if there were more pictures on each class page. Some of the ones available we did not attend because I wasn't sure if my girls would be interested or not. Some pictures showing the classroom fun would be helpful to decide.

I am most likely going to continue my membership with Kidzxplor, simply because it's awesome. It takes the headaches out of figuring out what to do. And while it's just a baby now (just 3 months old), it will only continue to grow and get even better.



11/8/16

Holiday Shopping Tips - Part 2 - TOYS'R'US


Did you read my last holiday shopping post? If you did, I hope you got a lot out of it. There are seriously so many ways to save money at Target that I didn’t even really list them all; look around sometime and find all the other hidden treasures that Target has to offer!

Now, this post is about a place that isn’t usually on my radar this time of year. Too busy, too crowded, and in the past the deals weren’t all that great. However, this year, they have upped their game a bit. This post is all about Toys R Us.



I’ll go ahead and start with the biggest and best pre-Black Friday deals… the Hotrageous Deals. This list of online-only toy deals is posted and emailed out on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, but it’s done so in a not-in-your-face kind of way. So I think a lot of people miss it or think it’s not the greatest bargain (I’ve noticed that they usually showcase the most popular brands first, which may not be the deepest discounts).
True, Toys R Us doesn’t usually give as much of a discount as other places, but they do have a much larger toy selection so you can find things that other retailers might not have available. It looks like today’s Hotrageous deals range from 15% off to 50% off, but, there are also some pretty unique things offered. On this particular day, there are 69 items in their Hotrageous Deals category. I really only found 2 that are a fit for our family, but those 2 are really good deals!

Here are the deals that I found would be good for our girls:
Emma loves all things Shopkins.

Alice loves cars and Elmo (she calls him "Mo-mo").


Then, they have things that I wouldn’t normally think about getting, but it’s such a great deal that it caught my eye:




How cute are those!?!!

The good thing about Toys R Us online, is that most of the items allow for store-pickup within an hour, or it’s Free Shipping if you spend $19 or more. Their search feature is also very useful to filter through the toys listed – nobody hates scrolling through numerous pages without the option to filter more than I do.

So, that’s the biggest piece of money-saving goodness from Toys R Us, but, I’m not done just yet.

From the beginning of November through Christmas, Toys R Us offers raffles, giveaways, toy sampling and much more, each and every weekend.  Their kick-off event was November 5th, then there is a LEGO event on November 12th, and then a Pokemon event (with trading) on November 20th. If you want to keep up with all of these events you can either follow Toys R Us on Facebook, or if you’re in St. Louis you can follow Let’s Go St. Louis to see the same events and then some.

They also have special sales on random days too, so watch for those. I find it best to either subscribe to their emails, or follow them on Facebook. Those are the best ways to get notified right away.

So there you have it. Part 2 of my Holiday Shopping Money-Saving tips. If you haven't read Part 1 (Target), you totally should... lots of ways to save there. 

Bloggers love to hear your comments on our posts, so please take a moment to let me know what you think. :-) And as always, make sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram

Thanks for reading! Watch for part 3 coming soon!

11/3/16

Holiday Shopping Tips - Part 1 - TARGET


Cue the music… “It’s the most wonderful time, of the year!”

I’ve worked retail since high school. And as a seasoned retail employee (okay, optical isn’t really retail, but it almost is), I can feel the holiday season in my bones. So much so, that at 11:15 pm on Halloween night, I said to my husband “okay, we’re done with Halloween, we’re moving on to Christmas!” He rolled his eyes. If you haven’t met my husband, just know that he is pretty much the living version of Charlie Brown… I can hear him say “Good Grief” in my head each and every time he disapproves of my shenanigans.

I like Thanksgiving and all, but I see my family regularly (I love them… I want to see them more than a couple times a year), and I just love Christmas so much that I don’t want to wait!!! By the way, when did it become socially acceptable for people to bash others for getting into the Christmas spirit early?!? If you ask me, those are the people with the problems.

Anywhoo, as soon as November 1st gets here, I’m ready to watch for the Christmas present deals. Since I like to share the wealth, I thought I’d go ahead and let you know of all of my tips and tricks for finding a good deal. I hope you’ll share yours with me too!

Because there are so many different stores and ways to save, I’m going to break it down into a few posts. I’ll start with my biggest and best resource (you’ll soon see why)… TARGET!

Now, I know Target got a lot of grief this year, and shoot, I was one person who stopped shopping there until they realized their faults. But, they’ve been taking a lot of steps to correct the issues, and they’re offering even more deals than usual to make up for losses. Bonus!

Here we go…


Okay, for all of the occasional Target shoppers out there, let me start off by saying that YOU NEED A RED CARD. My Mom hates debit cards – she still writes checks – but I’m always telling her that she could save $300 a year easy if she would just get a Target Red Card. It saves you 5% each time you use it and it just comes straight out of your bank account; it’s NOT a credit card (unless you want a Red Card Credit Card, because those are available too).  It also gives you free shipping if you shop online, and you should always check them out online because there are tons of online deals that you can’t get in stores (right now you can get 20% off of toys, through 11/5).

On top of the Red Card for a free 5% off, they have a Cartwheel app that can save you tons of money on things you already purchase, coupons you can print from Target.com that you can also stack with manufacturer’s coupons, and now in St. Louis you get points for all of your purchases to earn free stuff (also on Cartwheel). Plus, they do a lot of their “Buy X, Get X” deals like buy 3 bottles of shampoo and get a $5 Target Gift Card. It’s all just free discounts. Hardly any effort!

Even more free goodies with Cartwheel Perks!!!

But, the best deal they have going each and every year at this time, and the reason I decided to do this post, is a Toy Deal of the Day on their Cartwheel app. What it is, is they put one specific toy on the app each day from November 1st through December 24th, and it’s 50% off. Yep, you saw that right… 50% off. HALF OFF. It’s a big deal. New toys. For HALF. OFF. Sometimes the toy will even be on sale in the store, and then you’ll get it even cheaper! More than… HALF. OFF. Can you sense my excitement? The catch is this: Once it gets closer to Christmas, they sell out of the toys before 9am (it’s only in store and they only have what’s on the shelf to start with). So, if you check the app when you wake up, and get to Target at 8am, you should be okay. We missed sooooooooo many good ones last year. But, I’ve got my game face on this year. ;-)
An example of a 50% Off toy deal.

I know, I know, I’m crazy to spread this piece of deal-saving-goodness… but, even though I’ll probably take out a few of you with my elbows getting to the goods, I still wanted to share the wealth.

Oh! There’s one more thing. Now, this is new this year so I’m not quite sure if it’s easy to use all around, but Target has a new app called “Target Kids’ Wish List.” Your child can create a list of the items they want for Christmas (or you can create one for them) and anyone can search for the list online or in stores; it’s like a registry. I think that’s pretty freaking cool! And the best part is that you can get 10% off of those items if purchased by November 23rd! There are some exclusions, and rules… I believe it’s a one-time use, but I’m not sure if that’s per person shopping, or per child. But, if you have the holiday shopping money now, you may as well try to get as much as you can in one stop.


So there you have it!
I hope you got a lot out of my first Frugal shopping post! I know I have a pretty good game plan for the next couple weeks that’s for sure. ;-)

Make sure to let me know of any Target deals you come across too. I’m always looking for more insights on how to save more of my hard-earned money!

And be sure to follow The Average Momma on Facebook so that you don’t miss out on any future shopping tips/tricks posts I might have.

*All graphics and pictures on this post were from my electronic device and/or creations of my own.

10/26/16

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......


This post seems like one giant run-on sentence to me, and I can hear the whine in my non-verbal tone, but I just have to get this out there. In case you were wondering where I've been... In case you've been wondering how I've been... In case you were just wondering.
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You guys… this working Mom thing is hard! No, not just because I miss my kids, but because I’m exhausted all the time.

I thought that with Gene being a stay-at-home Dad for a while, it would take some of the load off of me, but I was wrong; he helps out a lot with the kids and chores, but I’m still drained. I literally wake up tired, I walk through the day tired, I go through the motions at home each night tired, and I usually collapse on the couch and fall asleep with the kids on the couch after nine. Gene will come along and take the kids to bed and wake me up to tell me to go to bed, and then I start all over again the next morning. Each day I become more and more tired, and occasional sleep-ins don’t even help anymore.

Some days I feel too tired to even sit at my desk to work. I do it, of course, but I could cry I’m so tired sometimes. Even now, it’s taking every ounce of energy to get this post typed up and it’s not even that late.

I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking “well go to the doctor!” I have though. I’ve mentioned my fatigue multiple times. I usually get the whole “you’re a tad overweight, so all you probably need is some exercise and a good clean diet.” But then I try to explain to them that I’m too tired to exercise. I can’t get up earlier than I already do because I am just too tired, and I can’t after work because I have to make dinner and do bath time and run errands, etc. And doing anything after the kids go to bed is not an option either because I can’t even put them to bed myself; I’m asleep with them.

It’s getting so bad that by the time I get home from work, I don’t even want to play with my kids. I want to lay on the couch and watch them play by themselves. I don’t want to make them a healthy dinner; I want to feed them cereal so I can just sit down and not move. I contemplate calling in sick to work when I’m not even sick just to stay in bed all day (I’m too chicken to do it, but boy I’d love to). I can feel it down to my bones. I’m tired. So, so, tired.

And to boot, I have no idea why I’m so drained all the time because I get a good 7 hours of sleep at least. I drink coffee in the morning, but usually just one cup to not crash or have an adverse reaction. I’m even starting to wonder if I’m depressed and just don’t know it.

But, in all actuality, the doctor is probably just right about me being overweight and needing to exercise more. I want to, I really do… I’m just SO tired. I’m going to start with a better diet, and more play with the kids, and go from there.

Hopefully it will get better soon because the daylight is getting shorter and it’s making it even worse!