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Free Family Fun!


I love this time of year because it always seems to be jam-packed with free things that we can do together as a family! Our area hosts monthly movies in the park, live music in the park, fall festivals, and more!

This weekend we took the girls to do something I’ve been wanting to do with them since they were babies….I took them to compete in their first race!

I love running. It’s my therapy of choice (False. I actually go to “real” therapy, too. But you know what I mean). I do compete in some races – typically one or two per year – but otherwise most of my running activities are nearly free because I already own plenty of running attire and it’s totally free just to run around outside in the neighborhood and/or on neighborhood trails! I figure it’s much cheaper than a monthly gym membership and I enjoy being outside much more than pounding out miles on the dreadmill (oops, I meant treadmill).

This weekend was the TMC Get Moving race series. I have serious history with this particular race. It was my first EVER 5K run nearly a decade ago. It was also my first post-baby half-marathon (my second half-marathon overall). It’s a very family-friendly race and this year we decided to “compete” in the FitKidz Family 1-mile run. Best of all, it was 100% FREE!

We registered the kids so they had official race bibs and received kid t-shirts. Parents were permitted to join kids on the course (also free), but no shirts or bibs for us. 🙂

The race was so well done, I was quite impressed! Hubs and I did the divide and conquer approach: he stayed with one kid and I stayed with the other. I didn’t think they’d finish the whole mile but, to my surprise, they both ran the entire way! I was so impressed and proud of their hard work (though to be fair – there’s no way the course was an entire mile. I didn’t map it on my Fitbit, but I’d guess it was closer to .6 or .7 of a mile. Either way, it was perfect for kids!)

At the finish line, all kids received a finishers ribbon and were treated to snacks (bags of chips or pretzels, water bottles, and eegees < a Tucson thing kind of like a slush/snow cone hybrid). They also had a big bounce house set up and a clown doing face paint and balloon animals. And again – all 100% free! I was seriously shocked at the number of amenities for this event! (Note: the race series also included a 5k and half-marathon as well < not free).

Hubs and I split up during the mile race because one child was naturally running a little faster than the other. I stuck with the leader and hubs stayed behind. The smile on my kids’ face as everyone cheered her on toward the finish line was absolutely priceless! I was running with her (and going much faster than I’d thought she was capable!!! I was impressed!), so I wasn’t able to get a picture of her, but after finishing we stood together at the finish line to cheer on Dad and sis. The smile on her face says it all. Proud mom moment here, folks!

Running is such a passion of mine, so it’s extra exciting to be able to share it with my kiddos! We will definitely be looking into this race again in the future! Most of the fun runs I’ve seen are not free, so the fact that this is offered (and so well organized! plus so many amenities!) totally free is a real perk!

Plus, look at these smiles! You can tell how proud they are of themselves! I love the confidence-building aspect of the race!

And a good weekend was had by all! 😉

What kinds of free Fall events are offered in your area? Do you have any annual favorites you look forward to?

No Spend Week Check-In: Days 3 & 4


Wednesday was Day #3 of our No Spend Week Challenge.

Day #3 (Wednesday) Notes:

I used the last of the bread for toast at breakfast. BUT, a small miracle occurred when I recalled that the local grocer had recently sent out coupons. There were two coupons, in particular, that were totally FREE items – no purchase necessary! One for bread and one for a Dole Salad Kit! Score!

I was going to try to make it all the way until Friday without purchasing anything at all (I still had all $13 in my wallet), but then I was thwarted when, about 1pm, I got a phone call from the kids’ school. Both kiddos had fevers and were being sent home. On my way to pick them up, I swung by the grocery store. I used my free coupons to get bread and a salad kit. In addition, I picked up a couple fresh fruits that were on sale, but I also had to spend some of the money on children’s Tylenol and I got some juice, since I thought the vitamin C wold be good for the kids. I had to be extra cautious (and had to make decisions: putting back a bag of apples in favor of a less expensive fruit option), but I ended up spending $13.08!! I was pretty pumped to have spent exactly what I had left for the week (the 8 pennies came from my wallet).

I don’t know what sickness is ailing the kids, but there’s no puke (*fingers crossed*) and they both slept well all night (thank Jesus!), so I’m hoping I won’t need any additional illness-related items. They’re staying home today (Thursday, Day #4 of the No Spend Week). Fingers crossed they’ll be well enough to go back on Friday and, also, that I manage to get some work done from home today.

Wednesday’s Meals:

Breakfast:  Smoothie (now running low on frozen berries), half a piece of toast (uneaten from one of my kids’ breakfasts)

Lunch:  Chicken and cheese bagel sandwich (chicken was the last of the leftovers, repurposed in a different way; cheese from fridge, half a bagel from a bag I’d had in the freezer); tortilla chips on side.

Dinner:  Chicken tenders with frozen mixed veggies (from freezer) and homemade rolls on side.


Day #4 (Thursday) Notes:

Today (Thursday), will be different than originally planned given that now all 3 of us girls are going to be home. It makes work tough, but will likely make our food situation easier because I can utilize the oven/microwave to have food for lunch that would be impractical to make for the kids’ lunches.

Thursday Meals:

Breakfast: Bagel and cream cheese

Lunch (planned): Leftovers from dinner Wednesday night.

Dinner (planned): Orange chicken (Costco package in freezer) with jasmine rice (from bag in pantry) and fresh broccoli (just purchased).


Jury is still out on whether additional expenses are necessary for illness-related medication. We literally have no money at this point, which really sucks. We have credit available, but the whole goal of this month was to STOP spending on credit. My tentative plan is a “wait and see” approach with the kids. It’s still early here in Tucson and so far, the kids seem okay. If by about 9-ish they’re not doing well I’ll go ahead and schedule a doctor’s appointment and take them to be seen. I get paid tomorrow (Friday), so if any purchases need to be made I’m planning to pay with my debit card, but to have it run like “credit.”  That way the charge is “pending” for a couple days and by the time it officially goes through I’ll have money in the bank. I know this is a totally sad and ridiculous way to go about life – having to play games to delay payment until pay day. I know. We’ve got a lot of work to do still. But at least we’re making every effort to right the ship we’re on and to stop taking on additional debt!

Wish me luck with both the money situation and the kids’ illness situation. OF COURSE, hubby is scheduled to be out of town the next 4 days (Thurs – Sun) so I’m single-parenting it over here with the sick kids. Normally it’d be no big deal, but I have a HUGE work deadline next week (I have to submit a dossier for my promotion & tenure committee, so it’s kind of a big deal – directly affecting my ability to promote). I’m pretty stressed about potentially NOT being able to work the next 4 days while the kids are sick and hubs is gone. Times like these, I sure wish we had family around that I could call for help/backup!

How are your No Spend Weeks going? Any unexpected expenses come up? How have you handled the situation?