Tuesday, May 31, 2011
ShopAtHome.com Printable Grocery Coupons
Monday, May 30, 2011
One of my grandfathers served in the Air Force. My other grandfather served in the Navy. My husband's grandfather served in the Army. My college roommate married a Marine. Each of these men made it home safely, and I'm very thankful for that. So many families have experienced loss and pain, and my heart goes out to them.
On this Memorial Day, remember that you can donate your unused or expired coupons to help our military families. Click here.
Friday, May 27, 2011
If you want to splurge on some Rock & Republic, 7 for All Mankind, and more get a super discount here at Rue La La while it lasts!
Happy Memorial Day shopping!
P.S. Word on the street is that Old Navy will be having some crazy in-store deals this weekend for the whole fam!
I use baby DVDs sparingly. They can be a great learning tool if you use them appropriately. Little M has learned a lot from a couple of Baby Einstein DVDs, especially Baby Einstein: Baby's First Moves. We LOVE it! She has learned all kinds of fun things, and it is so cute when "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands" comes on and she squeals and starts clapping! It is adorable.
Here are a few super cheap finds that qualify for free shipping with Amazon Mom! You can buy tons of these for the price of just one in stores!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
If you haven't joined SwagBucks, now is the time to do it! In addition to the 30 points you get as a new member, by entering the code MEMORIALDAY until May 27, you get an additional 50 points! Like I've said before, SwagBucks is like Google, but you actually earn prizes (like Amazon giftcards) for all of your web searches and surfing. I have already earned several Amazon giftcards, and I just recently started using SwagBucks! For example, 450 SwagBucks will get you a $5 Amazon giftcard.
For all of you mothers of babies and toddlers, let me fill you in on an inexpensive find on Amazon that you will want to check out:
I have had the hardest time finding snack and food bowls that I actually like. I have been searching for containers with compartments, and there have been very limited options in my local stores. Finally, I just ordered this awesome toddler food and snack container for only $3.99! This container has four compartments, one for each food group! Now you can keep all of those finger foods and snacks separate without having to use several containers or baggies.
If you haven't already done so, sign up for Amazon Mom so you can get free two-day shipping!
And, here's another amazing deal I just discovered:
Right now Target is having free shipping and 15% cash back. This is a big deal. You can order your Fathers Day gifts, graduation gifts, wedding gifts, baby shower gifts and save a lot of money. By shopping online, you have a lot more options and you save lots of time. And with this current deal, you save money! Click on this ShopAtHome.com link: Target Coupons
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Our classroom bulletin board calendar was a red bandana western theme, and every morning we'd have to say the day of the week, such as, "Today is Monday, February 1st, 1988." That's not a real date, I just made it up as an example.
We learned the Spanish words for the colors and months.
We also learned "Roy G. Biv." Surely you know about Roy G. Biv, the acronym for the color spectrum. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
At our class Christmas party, we made two ornaments. One was half of a styrofoam sphere. On the flat side, we pinned our class picture. Then we glued beads to the other side. Our second ornament was a walnut which we painted red to look like a strawberry, and we used a black marker to make little dots to represent seeds. We glued green felt to the top for the leaves, which had a hook going through it.
When I was in first grade, I got glasses. This was the 80s people. I chose a lovely pair of large lavendar frames. My mom took me back to class. When I walked in, a girl laughed at me.
My teacher suggested that I run for Student Council. I had to write a speech. I decided to run for secretary. The Student Council advisor said I was too young to be secretary, but I could run for 2nd grade Executive Board. I made posters and buttons which went up all over school. (And, I made them all myself. My parents didn't do it like so many do today.) Then, all four of the first grade classes gathered in the common area, and I stood up on a table and gave my speech. Three boys ran against me, but I won the election.
In first grade, I was a Brownie Girl Scout. My troop met in the school cafeteria once a week after school. It was super fun. We wore our uniforms to school once a week. The little brown jumpers with the brown sashes, adorned with patches.
One of the funniest things about first grade: My mom got a new mini-van. This was before the modern-day SUV. It was a navy blue Plymouth Voyager with the wood paneling down the side. What a looker. I was so excited, I told my teacher all about it. When my mom dropped me off in front of the first grade building, I made her wait so I could take my teacher out to show her our new ride. Hilarious.
That's pretty much it, I think.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
4. My fourth favorite discovery was cheap/free parenting magazine subscriptions. Barnes and Noble offers a deal each day, and I scored a one year subscription to Parents magazine for only $1. I also discovered a deal for a free two-year subscription to Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine.
5. Finally, my fifth favorite thing were the mailbox deals I received. A free bag of Iams dog food. Free products and coupons from Target. Free products and coupons from P&G.
I find out about these all of these deals by periodically checking the links and blogs listed on the right!
Saturday, May 21, 2011
2. My second favorite thing from this past spring was the Just Between Friends consignment sale. We had a year's worth of baby stuff--tons and tons of stuff--and it was so easy to be able to consign everything in one place. Clothes, pregnancy books, toys, equipment, you name it. I cleaned out the closets and got a few hundred dollars. It was actually kind of fun.
As a consignor, I got to check out the sale before the public. Although skeptical, I scoped it out and scored. I got several brand new things for just pennies: diapers, baby shoes, Baby Einstein DVDs, pajamas... I can't remember everything. Great brands, and new with tags. I seriously can't wait for the next JBF sale.
3. My third favorite discovery over the past couple of months is SwagBucks. I am a simple girl, and I don't really have a need to try something new if the old thing works just fine. Why should I stop using Google when it gets the job done? Well, I reluctantly gave SwagBucks a test drive. If you don't know about SwagBucks, it is a search engine, like Google, but you earn points for surfing and searching. I have racked up several Amazon giftcards in a short amount of time. Amazing. I'm sold.
To be continued...
Friday, May 20, 2011
So, the past few months have been an experiment of sorts. By experiment, I mean finding ways, through trial and error, to adjust our lifestyle to accommodate my desire to be a full-time mom for a while.
I definitely got some pushback.
"You're too smart to stay at home." Wow. Really? I'm slightly concerned about your priorities, but you're entitled to your opinion.
"Don't you want to maintain your lifestyle?" Ideally, that would be great. But, at what cost? My sanity?
It has definitely been an adjustment financially, but surprisingly, I have enjoyed the challenge. I have learned a lot. I pride myself on attempting to be resourceful. There have been a few small obstacles, but nothing major at all (knock on wood). It has actually been pretty liberating.
So, let me share a summary of the best things from this past spring:
1. Obviously, couponing has been the easiest thing to cut our savings. With a tiny bit of effort, I have seriously cut our spending. It forced me to be intentional. With two nice incomes before, we could just pay our bills and swipe our debit card whenever we wanted and not think twice about anything, really. We didn't have credit card debt, we were contributing to retirement, and we didn't have to live paycheck to paycheck. It was easy. Looking back, we were seriously throwing money away. Which is fine for some people. But what would Suze Orman say?
If you want to start couponing, I would start with a few things. First things first: become besties with the blogs listed on the right side. These blogs will find the deals for you, and all you have to do is print some coupons or grab your coupon stash and head to the store. It really doesn't take a lot of time.
To print coupons, visit Coupons.com or any of the other coupons links listed on the right.
Since I've been couponing, I've discovered so many things that you can get for free. Toothpaste, soap, deodorant, razors... stuff that really adds up. Because I found these deals from the blogs listed to the right, I was able to stock up on a few hundred dollars worth of non-perishable necessities, for practically free.
To some people this might seem tedious, time-consuming, or even pathetic, but it has been a challenge I have enjoyed. One word: Winning.
To be continued...
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Luckily, our area just got Living Social, and we are super excited! We have taken advantage of some fabulous deals already and we are loving it! The deals arrive in my inbox each day, and they are all so tempting, especially the tropical vacation escapes. I can dream, right?
All that to say, if you don't have any plans for the weekend, you might as well get a deal from Groupon. Save some serious cash and have some fun! Why didn't they think of this earlier?
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
She had ear infections on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day, and her birthday.
Right before Easter, she got strep. Now, we have another ear infection. I will have you know that May 18th is International Museum Day, in case you were wondering. It is also National Cheese Souffle Day. In addition, it is the birthdate of Pope John Paul II and George Strait.
In a few weeks, we will decide if she's getting tubes.
I'm afraid I'm getting addicted to hand sanitizer and antibacterial wet wipes.
I. Hate. Germs.
At restaurants, I wipe down any surfaces she might touch. Same thing with shopping carts, which I then cover with a shopping cart cover anyway.
Some people give me a hard time about this, so I've tried to loosen up a little bit. When a friend and I had a playdate at the children's museum, I let little M chew on some of the blocks. Disgusting. I was trying not to be such a germaphobe. Now I gag every time I think about it.
Now that she's mobile and moving around the house and the church nursery, I can't really control the germ situation as much. So that has helped my germaphobia. Okay, germaphobia is an exaggeration. But still.
I cringe every time she makes contact with a remote control, telephone, purse, or armrest. Those are the germiest.
She was breastfed for a full year to help with immunity and all of that good stuff. But, as always, I guess the first step is admitting you have a problem. And, I hear it gets better when you have a second child.
With Fathers' Day around the corner, I'm crossing my fingers. One month from today, June 18, is International Panic Day. Just what I need...
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Select Scotch products were Buy One Get Two Free. By combining that with a $1 off printable coupon, I got $12 worth of Scotch products for $3 (24 large clasp envelopes and three rolls of magic tape). Napkin packages were 2 for $3.
Finally, I had a very unusual experience with the Colgate ProClinical White Register Rewards deal. It was supposed to be 2 for $6 and then receive $4 back in RR. Since the store only had one tube left, the manager offered to give it to me for $1. Then I used a 75 cents off coupon, which made it 25 cents.
When I used a $5 RR left over from a few days ago, I only paid $1.31 out of pocket!
Walmart has their Pull-Ups wipes on sale for $1.64, and when you use the current $1 off coupon, I paid only 64 cents out of pocket per package!
Friday, May 13, 2011
Right now the final four celebs are competing to win money for charity. I LOVE the awareness that is gained for these philanthropies in the process, and that something good is coming from this. I love how passionate the celebs are for their charities.
Since I'm trying to become more intentional about giving back, I began asking myself... If I were a celebrity on The Apprentice, which charity would be my philanthropy of choice? Hmm...
Thursday, May 12, 2011
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6: 28-34I know that I need to be more intentional about serving other people, and I really want to do it. Yet, I put it off. I stay busy with other things. I feel so convicted about this. But, it's time. And, it's okay to start small. I am so blessed and so well-equipped to help.
The first thing I'm going to do: I've been hearing about these coupon programs for military families. You can donate your expired manufacturer coupons to military families who are then able to use these coupons on military bases up to six months after their expiration date. If you're interested in doing this too, one of the easiest places I've found to send your expired coupons is to the Krazy Coupon Lady's military coupon program. I've also recently discovered some local churches with similar programs. You can even start your own.
So, today's note-to-self: It's not about you.
There is so much joy in helping other people, and I think I've lost sight of that lately.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I transferred to a new school halfway through Kindergarten. My mom went with me to music class and then said her goodbyes outside at physical education. I cried. I had terrible separation anxiety (and I still do, from time to time).
My favorite thing about Kindergarten was "centers." Remember centers? You could choose what you wanted to do... play with blocks on the colorful carpet, go to the craft table, go to the kitchen area, read books in the beanbag chairs, play in the sandbox, so on, and so on.
The year was 1987. We went to the computer lab every week to learn our unit spelling words on IBM computers. Unit One was cat, dog, fish. I remember I wrote a "poem" with my words:
"The cat sat on the hat. The dog sat on the log. The fish sat on the dish." When we got back to our classroom, our teacher read my poem to the class. Then I got to go show my poem to the principal who then signed my poem, symbolic of his approval.
One day, we had a substitute teacher named Ms. Turner. She was a middle-aged round lady with glasses and blue eyeshadow. We learned about the United States flag and what the stars and stripes symbolized. Then we said the Pledge of Allegiance and had a parade around our classroom.
We all brought small glass jars to school so that we could fill them with potting soil and plant a lima bean. The jars lined the window sills, and slowly the tiny roots began to emerge.
Every Friday we had a drawing for a prize. If you'd been good all week and didn't get your name on board, you were eligible for a prize. One day I won a plastic tote bag with a cat on it. Another time I won a rainbow colored plastic comb, which was broken by one of my classmates before the day was over.
My parents gave me a pencil-shaped pencil box for my birthday, which was filled with colored pencils. I took it to school with me. We ate crackers that day in our classroom. My mom came to visit in the computer lab that day, and I told her that my stomach and throat hurt (which they didn't) so that she would take me home.
And, I slept in pink foam rollers the night before my school picture.
That's all I really remember about Kindergarten.
To be continued...
Interestingly, one of the books I've been reading lately is Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. One of the most thought-provoking comments he makes is "From the beginning, our lives lay down clues to selfhood and vocation" (p. 15), and "One way is to seek clues in stories from our younger years, years when we lived closer to our birthright gifts" (p. 13).
Interestingly enough, I am also reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. This book "shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around." Because of this book, I am intentionally beginning the process of recording my memories, starting with childhood.
When I combine the two, I am getting a unique opportunity to examine my "calling" in life from the perspective of my childhood.
Speaking of childhood, I remember my grandmother used to have a few funny/witty quotes taped to her refrigerator. One of them read, "I have gone to find myself. If I come back before I return, keep me here." For some reason, that just popped into my head. Very fitting.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
So, here's what I've learned I DON'T do...
Temperamental technology. Heat. Administrative tasks and/or piles of paperwork. Hot garbage liquid (a.k.a. "trash juice") running down my legs. The phone. Micro-management. Red tape. Annoying people. Negative attitudes. Heavy lifting.
And, here are some things that I LOVE, that come naturally...
Teaching. Creativity. Learning. Inspiring. Planning. Being crafty. Reading. Being resourceful. Learning. Encouraging others. Being a leader. Finding humor in life. Assessment. Positive attitudes. Being artsy. Research. Striving to raise the bar. Casting a vision. Trying to make things better.
To be continued...
Monday, May 9, 2011
As a first-time parent, you spend so much time preparing for childbirth, and infancy, and making it through that first year. When that first birthday rolled around, suddenly I found myself a little unprepared. So, I finally stumbled upon a few books that might shed some light on our new adventures. It was literally like everything changed overnight.
It also seems like everything is so controversial. Parenting is full of highly personal decisions, where the stakes are high and the convictions are deep. But, I am going to be testing the waters with the following books:
I'll be reading Pretoddlerwise: From Babyhood to Toddlerhood (Parenting your 12-18 month old). This is exactly the stage we are in, and at only $5, sign me up. I just wish I'd had it a couple of months ago.
Also in the line-up is What to Expect the Second Year: From 12 to 24 Months. At $10, this should be another worthwhile investment.
And last but not least, the American Academy of Pediatrics' Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. Brilliant. Better late than never.
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover Amazon's fast, free shipping for moms, and I should be getting my reading material in less than 48 hours.
I welcome any additional recommendations!
We had several huge trees in our front yard--perfect for climbing. And our long driveway was great for throwing the football or baseball. We had a basketball goal.
There was a giant field behind our backyard which connected to an elementary school playground. This was great. We would go out and hit golf balls, play baseball and kickball, run the track, play on the playground, or ride our bikes back there. I don't think I would feel safe in today's world just letting my kids out of my sight like that.
I loved rollerskating and rollerblading out on the driveway. My friends and I would choreograph different dance routines on our skates. We would pretend we were iceskaters.
We had a big trampoline in the backyard too. Now, that thing would occupy us for hours.
From the time we got home after school until dinner or dark, whichever came first, we were playing outside.
So much of my childhood was marked by imagination, exploration, and outside play. Sometimes I worry that today's fast-paced, technology-focused society strips children of these experiences. Since these are some of my favorite childhood memories, I want to be intentional about fostering imagination and the simple pleasures of playing outside for our little one(s)!
Saturday, May 7, 2011
For some reason, the first thing that pops into my head is sidewalk chalk. Growing up, we had a huge, smooth, asphalt driveway... perfect for sidewalk chalk. I remember drawing different "obstacles" with the sidewalk chalk and then us riding our bikes along the obstacle course, weaving in and out of all of the shapes.
That reminds me of our swingset in the back yard. We loved the swingset, and we loved that show Double Dare on Nickelodeon. Anyone else love that show? We decided to make our own obstacle course, like Double Dare, except on our swingset. So we cut little triangular flags out of notebook paper and taped them up along the swingset. Climb up the ladder, grab the flag, go down the slide, grab the next flag. It was really fun. Especially in the summer when we had a wading pool at the bottom of the slide and the slip-and-slide out in the yard. Good times. Oh, and then my dad built us a little treehouse with a fireman's pole. That was especially awesome. Somehow, we never had any broken bones. Although I did almost cut off my ear once, but that's a different story, and that was someone else's swingset.
We loved riding bikes in the neighborhood, especially down the hills. Luckily there wasn't much traffic. We were certain that there was a witch living in a haunted house up a long, dark, winding driveway a few blocks over.
There is something so magical about childhood memories. When I was organizing all of the books in the nursery today, I came across some of my favorite childhood books. Even though I hadn't seen the images from these picture books in more than 25 years, I was immediately transported back to that time, to those stories, to being so full of joy and wonder...
To be continued...
Friday, May 6, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
At age 12, I got a part-time job as an assistant in the church nursery on Sunday and Wednesday nights. At age 14, I began working as a file clerk in a local pediatrician's office. Filing--that was too much of a yawn.
From age 15-18, I worked at a children's amusement park as a party host, which also entailed clean-up. It was disgusting, especially in the sweltering hot summer heat. But, all of those hours standing out in the glaring summer sun (earning $4 per hour) gave me hours upon hours to think about what I didn't want in life. This was a hard, thankless job. Why did I do it? I liked the extra spending money I guess. My parents didn't make me do it. It wasn't far from home, and a couple of my friends worked there as well. We did have fun, from time to time. Looking back, I am so thankful for this experience. At an early age, I was able to observe different types of people and I was able to experience different types of work. Providing customer service to difficult people was no walk in the park. With the heat over 100 degrees, covered in sunscreen, sweat, and dirt, I had to lift kids into the kiddie rides, which resulted in more than one bruise. I had to haul heavy, hot, leaky trash down a road to the dumpster. There were bugs. We were only allowed to sit down when we got our break. In fact, I blacked out from heat exhaustion (for the first time) while I was standing near the carousel with no shade. Looking back, I have no idea why I didn't quit. I guess I just accepted it as the norm and held out hope for a better tomorrow.
In high school one summer, I got a job as a tutor for elementary school students. Not only was this job air-conditioned, but I got a raise. $7 per hour=living the life of luxury.
In college, I held several jobs.
Working in a gift shop, I hated the cash register and the fickle credit card machine, especially during the stressful holiday season.
As the assistant and grader for an art history professor, I determined that if/when I ever became a college professor, I would rely solely on scantrons in order to avoid reading stacks and stacks of essays in barely-legible handwriting.
My stint as a telecounselor for the college was short-lived as I really didn't like making cold-calls to prospective students for small talk. Awkward.
Then there were all of my unpaid jobs... Student teaching a group of gifted and talented elementary school students. Interning in the college admissions office. Interning in other college offices. Advising student organizations and clubs. And, of course, my ever-famous tenure as the elementary school librarian's assistant. Why is it that these were the jobs I loved the most?
As I am in the final stretch of my journey to being a full-time stay-at-home mom, I can't help but reflect on these past experiences as life's newest chapter begins to unfold.
To be continued...