Friday, April 4, 2014

Budget Friendly Snacks for Your Young Athlete | Save Money Shopping at Grocery Outlet {Giveaway}

This is a sponsored post on behalf of Grocery Outlet

Grocery Outlet budget friendly snacks for athletes

If you have school-aged kids, you already know keeping the pantry stocked with healthier snacks is a challenge. Call me biased, but I think sports parents have it even tougher. If your kid plays, be it on a rec league or travel, you know where I'm coming from. Take, for instance, the following scenario:

6:30am Wake up in time to eat breakfast before getting on the road for the hour-long drive to the tournament.

8:00am Arrive in time for team warm ups, hear "Mom, I'm still hungry," and throw a snack at your child.

9:30am Game is over. Hear "Mom, I'm starving! I will DIE if I don't eat something right this second! DIE I tell you!" Throw a snack at your child while standing with other team parents, using your phones to Google nearby breakfast restaurants.

11:00am Google local parks to kill two hours before you have to be back in time for the afternoon game.

11:30am Hear, "Mom, do we have anything to eat in the car? I'm thirsty."

12:30pm Pile into the car to head back for the afternoon game. Ask, "are you hungry? you should eat now if you are."

1:00pm Spot your child from across the arena. He is standing in the doorway to the locker room frantically waving at you with one hand, and pointing to his mouth, pantomiming eating with the other. Throw a snack at your child.

2:30pm Second game is over. Start loading the car. Hear, "Mom, I'm hungry." Throw a snack at your child.

3:00pm Use your phone to check traffic. It sucks. Steel yourself for two-and-a-half hour drive home.

4:30pm Traffic worse than what was on Google Maps. Curse silently because you know what is coming.

4:45pm Hear, "Mom, are we stopping anywhere for dinner?" Throw last of the snacks at your child. Hope to Heaven traffic breaks up and you make it home soon.

Am I right? 

Between packing lunches and sports weekends, snack foods have started taking up a bigger portion of my budget. There haven't been too many breakthroughs in terms of the variety of portable, healthier, non-perishables. My choices seem to be cheap and bad for you, or healthy and expensive. Organics? Hardly ever an option. 

I wasn't sure about taking my local Grocery Outlet up on their snack food challenge. I'm not used to shopping without coupons and couldn't see how I'd be able to save money without them. Plus, I thought the store would be filled with brands I'd never heard of. I was wrong on both counts.

Grocery Outlet sells heathy organic snacks

Since I've been paying attention to prices for so long, I have a good sense of when an item is priced well and when (even on 'sale') it is not. This knowledge came in handy while I was shopping. I picked up 26 items* and paid $29.34. 

When I took my receipt to Vons to compare, the savings were very clear. I found six items that were identical to the ones I purchased at Grocery Outlet. If I had purchased the same things in the same quantities from Vons, I would have spent $26.85 for only 10 items. 

Vons versus Grocrey Outlet budget friendly snacks for athletes

That's a significant difference. Again, since snacks go so quickly in our house, they're something I keep an eye on because they can quickly take over my grocery budget. Now, will I see these same items the next time I go to Grocery Outlet? Maybe. Maybe not. But I'm fine with that. I'd rather a slightly rotating inventory with low prices than the same things over and over. Overall, I'm happy with my first experience and can say with certainty I will go back again.

Luckily, Grocery Outlet would like to extend the challenge to you, too. If you live near one of their stores, enter below to win a $25 gift card. You may not be able to see the Rafflecopter widget on mobile devices.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*There should be two more items in the photo: one more Yopa (I got hungry) and a 59oz bottle of Tropicana Orange Tangerine. 

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Mel, A Dramatic Mommy is not responsible for prizes lost in the mail or incorrect physical or email addresses. Giveaway is open to residents of the United States, age 18+. Giveaway will close at 11:59PM ET on 4/14/14. Two (2) winners will be selected. Winner(s) will be contacted by email within 48 hours. Winner(s) must respond to me via email within 24 hours or an alternate will be chosen. If you have any additional questions, contact Melanie at ADramaticMommy{@}


I was not compensated for this post. I was provided with a gift card to facilitate my shopping. Opinions are my own. Grocery cart image courtesy of Grant Cochrane and

Sunday, November 10, 2013

12 Free Meal Offers for Veterans Day 2013

On Monday Monday, November 11 we celebrate Veterans Day. It's a chance for us to recognize and thank our nation's men and women in uniform and their families for their service, commitment and dedication to our country. As a military spouse, I appreciate when a business or company provides a 'no strings* attached' offer that Phil can take advantage of. One of his co-workers is Army and they have a good time planning their lunch breaks each year. Below are just a few of the offers available tomorrow. 

Veterans Day freebie meals

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…" ~ Woodrow Wilson

2013 Veterans Day Freebies

California Pizza Kitchen
Chili's Bar and Grill
Einstein Brothers Bagels
Famous Dave's 
Krispy Kreme
Olive Garden
On the Border
Outback Steakhouse
Red Robin
TGI Fridays

Bonus: free haircuts at SportsClips

*Always check with your local chain to ensure they are participating and to ask about possible restrictions and exclusions like alcohol and gratuities. For more Veterans Day freebie offers visit Veterans Advantage and Restaurant News and Military Spouse Magazine

Image from and Flexico, Inc. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

What's Your Excuse? My Thoughts on the Word Bully

I don't usually write reactionary posts, but I felt this needed to be said. It's not my intention to make anyone mad. But it is my intention to (hopefully) make people think. If you have no idea who Maria Kang is or what the drama is about, read up first or this might not make sense. 

I opened my Facebook this morning and apparently I'm supposed to be upset over the photo fitness enthusiast Maria Kang posted of herself, her abs and her children on her Facebook page (more than a year ago). Well, I'm not upset but I am disappointed. People are outraged. How dare she put up a picture like that! Kang has been labeled a bully and frankly I don't think that's fair. 

Folks, it seems some of us, myself included, need to put the Internet on pause, go make a good cup of coffee and take some deep breaths. Maria Kang is not stretch mark shaming. She's not trying to make you feel bad about yourself. She's certainly not a bully. I feel what's happening here is her photo has poked the bear. Or, more specifically, the 'What's Your Excuse?' tagline used on the photo has. 

Am I carrying around extra weight? Definitely. Do I have body image issues? Yep. Do I wish I were living a more active lifestyle? For sure. Are any of those Maria's fault? Not in the least. When I look at the photo and read the tagline, it doesn't make me mad. Good for her for working so hard at something that is obviously important to her. Whatever jealousy, insecurity or anything else that makes me feel 'less than' when I look at her picture is all on me. They're part of my issues. In fact, she's right. My personal answer to her tagline question is, I don't have any excuses. I have several reasons, but no excuses. 

I feel that people (okay, women) are letting their insecurity, maybe a little guilt at not being more fit, maybe even a little anger at how often we feel we're not able to put ourselves first determine what filters they're looking at Maria's photo through. I would bet money that everyone who has a problem with the caption reads it as 'what's YOUR excuse?' and the 'your' has been assigned a snarky tone. I read it as as straight question, with no emphasis at all. It's all about perspective.

I also wonder how many people who are upset over the photo also have Words of Wisdom Pinterest Boards filled with quotes like 'no one is in charge of your happiness but you;' 'the control center of your life is your attitude' or the biggie 'no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.' 

National Anti Bullying Month

If you're one who has had a visceral reaction to this situation, ask yourself: has Maria harmed you in any way? Threatened you? Do you feel there is an imbalance of power? Are you intimidated by her? Physically harmed? I could go on but I think you get my point. Please stop referring to Maria as bully. It dilutes the word and diminishes the experiences people, particularly children, are having with actual bullying. 

"It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school everyday due to the fear of attack or intimidation by other students - 2 out of 3 teens are verbally or physically harassed every year. - 58% of teens have had hurtful things said to them online and over 40% say it’s happened more than once."

Our children are in crisis. They're experiencing depression, missing school and attempting and committing suicide because they're being bullied. This is not okay! I think the word bully is being used more and more as a catchall phrase and it's doing more harm than good. I think there's a fine line between someone being mean and being a bully.  

It seems that, as a society, we've gotten so sensitive that negative statements, any type of confrontation, thought or idea that makes us uncomfortable or forces us to confront our own demons (like Maria's photo) puts us on the defensive and is automatically getting labeled as bullying behavior. I think that's wrong. There's a fine line between bullying and being a jerk, but in my mind there's a line nonetheless.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Take a moment to reflect on the word bully and what it means to you. Think about how you're using the word and in what situation. What terminology and phrasing have you used when talking with your children about bullying? Bullying is serious. We need to treat it seriously. Please don't use the word so casually. Our children are counting on us and we can't afford to have the word lose its true meaning. 

For information on bullying visit, Stomp Out, National Education and Quoted statistics from Do Image via and David Castillo Dominici.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10 Steps to Setting Parental Controls for the iPod Touch

My son doesn't have an iPhone, a fact he reminds me of all the time. Last year he got an iPod Touch for Christmas and that will have to do for now. We were hesitant to give him such easy access to the internet. My personal opinion is that children under the age of 14 shouldn't have unrestricted and unmonitored access to web. Even after age 14, I believe families should have guidelines in place and an understanding that the internet isn't always a safe place for kids to be. 
Internet safety for kids

We've tried to have an open dialogue with Tyler about why we're (or rather, I) am so strict on what kinds of things he's allowed to do with his iPod. I've told him it's not so much that I don't trust him, it's that I don't trust everyone else on the internet. I've explained and shown him examples of  the ways people are using apps like Instagram and Snapchat in way that the app creators didn't intend and in ways children don't need to see. 

We're alright with being thought of as the uncool parents if it means we're limiting his exposure to inappropriate (and sometimes flat out indecent) material. We decided the best we can do it set as many parental controls as we could, explain our rules and the consequences for not following them and monitor how he uses his iPod.  

The Settings and Restrictions tabs are your best friends. Get to know these areas. Most of the steps we've taken started here. 

1. Set a passcode lock
We keep it simple so we'll remember it. If he loses the iPod, at least we have a small measure of security in that hopefully no one else will be able to use it.

iPod parental controls

2. Link the iPod to your iTunes account
Having the iPod on my account means I can see everything on it. It also helps me keep it backed up and the software up to date.

3. Provide contact info
The lock screen reads "If found please call" with my Google Voice phone number.

4. Install Find My iPhone
I have this app on my iPad and my iPhone. If he does lose it the location based service, combined with the contact info hopefully would get it returned to us quickly.

5. Turn off in app purchases
My son uses his iPod almost exclusively for gaming. Many of the games he likes are free to play, but ask for real money to buy boosts and extras. He once spent $25 on gas cans for Battle Bears! Since his iPod is linked to my iTunes account, this is a way to ensure I don't get any surprises on my bank account. In app purchases can add up fast. I can monitor how much of his iTunes gift cards he's used and let him know when he runs out of funds.

6. Change settings for explicit content
Go to Settings --> General --> Restrictions and look for the content ratings. I believe the default settings are set to 'all,' which means if your child is searching iTunes or You Tube they may stumble across something with strong language or worse.

7. Set a Restrictions passcode
In addition to a main passcode, I set one specifically for the Restrictions are. This way, the settings for explicit content aren't changed. The passcode is one that only I know.

8. Turn off the ability to delete apps
I chose this option so he can't install and then delete an app before I can see it. I also want to make sure he didn't accidentally delete the Find My iPhone app. 

9. Delete some apps and settings altogether
I deleted YouTube, the ability to play multi-player games, the ability to add friends, Ping and iTunes. This was something I struggled with. I wanted him to have some freedom, but I also don't want him to have unlimited access to YouTube, and some of the games in the iTunes store seem like they are for kids but aren't. My hope is to prevent him from things like accidentally downloading the explicit version of a song rather than the radio version. 

10. Install a safer browser option 
This is a new one for us. Since he was 9 when he got the iPod, I really didn't want Tyler to have any access to the web. Now, he needs to go online for both homework and sports so I'm going to install a new browser after doing more research on the options below. 

Mobicip Safe Browser
AVG Browser
McGruff SafeGuard Browser
K9 Web Protection Browser

Since iPads, iPhones and the iPod Touch are very similar in function, I think many of these settings will work across the devices as you'll find them in the same areas. 

I know I seem mean and paranoid, but I'm not. We're really trying to balance Tyler's growing independence and desire for freedom and privacy with responsible use of the internet. Tyler and I have had many conversations about what a digital footprint is and how the things he posts online will live forever. He already knows what college he wants to go to and we looked up their social media guidelines. 

Phil and I are doing our best to impress upon him the importance of using the web the 'right' way. Plus, I think being a kid today is hard enough without the added distractions and pressures of the web and social media. I feel like giving our younger kids unlimited and unmonitored access to the web is forcing them to participate in conversations they're not yet mature enough to have. 

What about you? What precautions have you taken with your child's digital device? Are there any steps I missed? 

*Child photo from

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