Thursday, November 29, 2012

Life Skills and a Leap of Faith

Just now, cruising Pinterest, I found a very interesting pin about teaching kids life skills at every age.  This pin really has me thinking.  While I try my best to give my kids the skills they need to go out into the world, I realize every day we can never teach them enough.

Some of these skills they will learn just by living them.

Two nights ago, my oldest was invited by a friend to walk into town after school, grab sandwiches and do some shopping.  When my son came to me with this question, I froze.  I told my son that I couldn't answer right away, and to tell his friend we would call back.  My son has never walked anywhere without us.  Just six months ago I would have said that he wouldn't walk into town until he's a teenager.  I would have never even considered giving him this freedom.

In my twisted mommybrain my baby still looks like this.  Would you let this walk into town?

But my baby doesn't look like this.  He's in sixth grade.  And town is down the street from school.  After school kids can be found all over our town, walking home, eating and shopping.  And I do watch from the car as he picks up and pays for our pizza.  He is extremely responsible, a good kid.  Why shouldn't I give him this freedom?

I wondered if he knew enough, and I started to think about all the life skills I still hadn't taught him.  But I have taught him about using money, behaving in stores, and minding his manners.  I took a leap of faith, and I told him to call back his friend and say he could go.

And then I hyperventilated for about three hours.

I called my mom, who reminded me that I walked all over town when I was in sixth grade.  I do think I lived in a different era, but I also believe I handled my freedoms well.

And I knew my Sports Fanatic would do the same.

Yesterday morning, before he left for school, I went over every rule about crossing the street, using the "walk button," staying in view of people, doing only what he told me he was going to town to do, and behaving in stores.  I rattled off more instructions than I ever have in about three minutes.  While I know all my panic made him nervous, it also made him understand the magnitude of this situation.

I was trusting him.  He could make or break this opportunity.

Yesterday afternoon, at 2:32 on the nose, he called from his friend's cell phone to let me know he was at Subway.  I reminded him the time I was picking him up, and to please not get hit by a car.

At 4pm, I packed up the rest of my crew to retrieve my oldest from the basketball gym.  When I went inside to get him, he was ready to go, patiently waiting.  He got in the car, and handed me a bag.  He told me that after his buying his sandwich, he only had a few dollars left.  He used that money to buy me a brownie at a Cafe downtown.

Que the mommy tears.

Even better, he came home to me in one piece.  With more life skills than I could have taught him.

Happy Thursday.  Have faith everyone.  Take that leap, because the world just might surprise you.

To read the life skills post, check out Busy Kids=Happy Mom.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

Today it's Wednesday.  I have few words because it's early in the morning, and I was up in the middle of the night because someone who shall remain nameless desired juice.  This nameless person is very, very small and she sleeps in a crib.

Due to 3am juice deliveries, I currently have writer's fog.

After I let the pups out, I was happy to see or beloved Elf this morning.  He jacked some of my daughter's blocks and built himself a chair.

 He also brought Christmas socks.  What a sweetie pie.
I'm rolling my eyes because as I type this, someone who shall remain nameless is up and yelling for juice.


Happy Wednesday.  Make it awesome.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Today, I'm recovering from turkey, no-show-house-showings, football banquets, Twilight movies and shopping.  It's been a long weekend.

Thanksgiving, as always, was pleasant.  Fire in the fireplace, football on the teevee, family all around and the food was plentiful.  Very, very plentiful.

Shopping on Friday was just as pleasant.

Breaking Dawn Part Two, and my panini beforehand, were more than pleasant.  I left the theater feeling compelled to read all the Twilight books over again, start to finish. 

We did have a family interested in our home that was supposedly sending their realtor to take pictures Saturday.  They live far, need to move quick, and were seriously considering renting with only seeing pictures.

Naturally, Hubby and I went on a cleaning frenzy Friday.  Floors, counters, laundry and everything else we could find.  We fell into bed exhausted and stinking of Clorox.  Saturday morning, we forbid our munchkins to touch anything and shuffled them out of the clean house as soon as possible to visit their cousins.

All day Saturday I waited for news.  I checked my phone at lunch.  I checked again at the movies.  I wondered what time this realtor was showing up.

She never did.

Anyone who has ever sold or rented out their home knows how nails-on-the-blackboard annoying it is when you clean and clean and no one shows up.  This is even more annoying when you have four kids.  The second we arrive back home after a "no show-ing" mess starts to reappear.  And if anyone wants to see the house I have to clean it all over again.

The upside of the whole situation is that my floors are clean.  For the next five minutes anyway.

On Sunday, we left the house clean again in case the realtor decided to show (she didn't) and we went to football banquets.  The kids spent time with good friends, and because we are moving, these banquets were extra special.

My oldest is retiring his jersey, complete with signatures of his teammates.
Moving is already quite an emotional adventure.

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday (and me)

A few years ago, I became a fan of Black Friday.  I had a circle of mom friends who swore by the deals and the excitement.  While I wasn't keen on elbows in my ribs and being trampled on by a swarm of shoppers trying to secure a $50 television set, I was curious how great these deals could really be.

And so one early post Thanksgiving morning, around 3am, I awoke with a tummy still full of turkey.  I warmed my car, showered because I just can't leave the house without a shower, and drove off into the darkness to Kohls.

That year, I scored some pretty awesome gifts.  The lines were long, but not unbearable.  I returned home at 8am with a car full of goodies and desperately in need of a nap.

Ever since, I have been a Black Friday shopper.  My routine went from one to two stores, to hard core middle-of-the-night-all night-shopping-extravaganza, to a few stores, to my current laid back shopping schedule.

Here I am, this morning, enjoying my shopping.  I took this photo myself.
The past two years, I shop around 6am.  The stores are the same as if I was shopping on a Monday morning.  I tell you no lies.  The dedicated, doorbuster-deal-finders are already back home or having breakfast by the time I even park my car.  It's glorious.
I am early enough for the "early bird" deals, but late enough to feel relaxed.  I set my car radio to XM Holly, grab a Starbucks, and I enjoy my morning.
I'm not aggressive enough to fight for those five ipod and laptop doorbusters, and I realized if you aren't in the market for those deals, you don't need to be in line waiting for a store to open while your family eats pumpkin pie.

For the record, I'm all for unique, homemade, shop downtown gifts.  There are just a bunch of goodies that must be found in a specific store.  And I thoroughly enjoyed finding some of them today.

Tis' the season ~ enjoy every minute!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


This Thanksgiving, I'm truly focused on being thankful.  I'm breathing when I feel that urge to scream, I'm remembering it's easier to clean the mess after the kids are in bed and I'm counting my many blessings.

The kids are only young once.  I'm thankful for them; for their mess and for their chaos.  I'm thankful they still hug me, kiss me and wave goodbye as the school bus is pulling up.  I love their quirky stories, their handmade crafts and kind hearts.

I love how tiny they look when they are sleeping.  Even when they are eleven.

I'm thankful my Hubby still makes me belly laugh, and that he sorts laundry.  He loves our kids, provides for our family and is patient with my always chaotic method of reasoning.

He is even more patient when I attempt to tell a story.  I start at the beginning, move onto another story, go back to the first story, make a cup of juice, sign a paper for school, go back to the second story, ask him if he's still listening and then ask him, what I was saying again?

I'm very thankful for that man.  Even if he drives me bat-poop crazy at times.  It takes quite a man to put up with me on a daily basis.  Did I mention he (usually) still loves me even though I dress like a shlump-a-dinkle some days?

Heels are very, very overrated when you're wiping spills all day.

I'm thankful for my heated blanket, the ice cream in my freezer and my Starbucks Gold Card.  All three of those things, along with sunshine on my face and munchkin snuggles, make for a fabulous day.

My mommy friends, all those extraordinary women who also only talk between the hours of 9 and 3, you are my sanity.  My venting place.  My, Can you believe this?! Oh wait you believe it because you're living the same existence!, comfort.  Hugs to you all.

I'm so very thankful for my health, my family, my parents and my phenomenal siblings.  My mother has handed down some of the best mommy-ing tricks known to man, and her generosity is second to none.  She is my rock.  My Dad, that man keeps his cool and keeps me calm.  There is no better person to call when I need advice.

I'm more than thankful for all the ways my parents help us.  Lord knows we have needed plenty of help these past twelve years.

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for the many blessings the Lord has sent my way.  He has blessed me abundantly; to count the ways would take me to the end of time.

And last, but not least, I'm so thankful for all of you.  If you're on this page, if you're reading this, I want you to know I'm thankful my blog is worth your time.

That is very, very special that is to me.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

If you care to share, What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Inside the Mommy-Van

My early "catch the middle school bus" mornings are fabulous for checking email, cruising Pinterest and blogging.  This early morn, I had an epiphany for a fabulous blog about great ideas Christmas with kids.  I started to think about what to write, and I decided to save this blog for another day.

Blogger's block and all.

Instead, I'll just share what was occuring in my mommy-van at approximately 5:52 last night.
These are my son's football game pants.  They are on my dashboard.

Last night was equipment return, and everything is to be returned just as it was when you picked it up in July.  I remembered equipment return at 3:50, and found these game pants muddy as all *bleep* in LLG's game bag minutes later.  Unfortunately I had to bring my daughter to gymnastics at 4:30, which left just enough time to run these bad boys in a very quick wash.

I grabbed them fresh from the spin cycle and brought them in the car with us as we left for gymnastics. I dried them, with the heat full blast, on my dashboard as I drove to gymnastics and then the grocery store.  By 6pm they were 80% dry and just about ready for equipment return.

I folded them, dry side out, and handed them in along with a helmet and shoulder pads.

Mission accomplished, Mommyhood style.

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Craft: Pinecone Turkeys

My daughter brought an uber adorable Turkey home from preschool last week.  It was crafted from felt, a pinecone, and feathers.

This little guy is cute enough to sit as the focal centerpiece at our Thanksgiving feast, and cute enough to save year after year after year.

I know we all claim preschool crafts are cute, and they are.  But unless you have a room dedicated to collecting crafts and drawings from preschool through 12th grade, some items just have to go in the recycling bin.

At least at my house they do.  I take comfort in knowing my kids will cherish a few crafts from their childhood, but they would not care to clutter their future homes with all their masterpieces from twenty years ago.

But this little guy?  He's a keeper.

Large pinecone (sold at craft stores if you lack these beauties in your backyard)
Colorful feathers (also sold at craft stores)
Felt (red, yellow or orange.'s at craft stores!)
Elmer's glue or similar
Turkey Template (below)

1.  Cut template.  Fold felt in half and trace template onto felt with marker.  Cut felt, you will have two turkey heads.  Glue these together at nose and top of head only, not the entire length of the turkey head.  Make eye on both sides with marker. Set aside.

2.  Glue 5-7 feathers in between spaces in pinecone.  The front of the turkey is the bottom (more flat, rounded end) of pinecone.

3.  Once turkey head is dry, attach head with glue to the front of pinecone.  Spread the two pieces of felt apart at bottom (neck area of turkey head) and glue securely.

Turkey Template (Right click on template, save picture, and then reopen and print):

Friday, November 16, 2012

Christmas List Making with Kids: 5 Tips for Every Family

In case you aren't aware, November is here.   Pretty soon we’ll be hearing those sleigh bells ringing “ding ding” just about all day on the radio.  The “wish books” have been stuffed into your mailbox, and just about every commercial is currently trying to convince your kids they just have to own something.   

With all the Christmas craziness, kids can lose sight of what they want and need.  They start asking for just about everything and anything regardless of whether it's a carrot slicer or a container of Oxyclean.

To help cure the madness, or at least organize the madness, I've developed a go-to system for Christmas wishing.

It all begins with our elf, and "the list."  

Here is my step by step Christmas List making survival guide.

1. Adopt an Elf

We have an Elf, Stanley.  He arrives every Thanksgiving to watch over the my munchkins and fly reports back to Santa.  Stanley is a fabulous helper during the Christmas season.  He can carry all correspondance back and forth, such as good behavior news and Christmas lists tweaks.

No more  "How will Santa know!  I already sent my list! Waaaaaaaa!"

If you don't have your very own "Elf on the Shelf," and you are a big Christmas family like we are, I would recommend adopting one pronto.  Our Elf brings little surprises like stickers and candies every few days, and the kids leave letters for him to bring to Santa.  They ask about the reindeer, the present making and all other happenings in the North Pole.

Yes, I'm aware some of my kids may need therapy to come to terms with the inevitable news that is to come when they are about ten.  Or eleven.  Or maybe never with how this house operates. 

Regardless, Christmas is magic.  Kids are kids.  And only when we are kids do we get to believe in magic.  

2. Save Magazines for "Wishing"

In our house, Christmas wishes all go on a Christmas list.  We make them the week before Thanksgiving, and we leave all of them for Stanley to bring back to Santa.

Every one of my munchkins combs all the "wish books" that come in the mail.  I stash the Target , Toys R Us Big Book, NFL Shop and Justice magazines in a basket in the family room.  My kids looks through them, marking what they like with their initials.  They wish and wish and wish.  

When I'm in the middle of dinner, and I need quiet, and tell them to "go wish."  Literally.  It's used as often as "play outside" and "go read your books."  Wishing is as serious as a heart attack in our house.

When it's time to look through the magazines, there are so many marks and circles it's tough to know who wanted the Green Machine and who wanted the Barbie dollhouse.

3.  Make Lists as a Family

When we sit down to make the lists the kids look through each magazine and pick twenty things they marked.  Of those twenty, they have to star their "top five."

We star gifts because I explain to them that Santa has to bring presents to millions of kids.  We have to remember that we are not the only children with big wishes on Christmas.  If Santa looks at your list quick, and decides to bring you ten gifts, you want him to know what you want the most.  

4. When Needed, Cut and Paste Lists

When my first born was just about three, I started our list making tradition.  Trying to help him write each letter was just about as enjoyable as sticking needles in my eyes.  I quickly solved the problem with the cut and paste Christmas list.  We clipped what he wanted, and pasted it on his list.

Viola.  A detailed list in half the time, maybe a quarter of the time it would have taken to help him write one.  Another bonus?  Fun, easy practice cutting and pasting.

5.  Remember Charity, and Stress the Importance of Giving 

Most importantly, talk about charity, and how to give at Christmas.  The "I want, I want, I want" is normal, but it's important to balance the "I want's" with "What can we do to help_____?"

Volunteer at a soup kitchen.  Sponsor a family.  Have your kids donate a few new toys to Toys for Tots.  If you are religious, discuss the true meaning of Christmas.  Read books about the birth of Jesus.  

We have our cherished Nativity Scene, and every year the kids can't wait to put baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve.

Remember to make giving a focus of your holiday, while letting your kids "wish" til' their little hearts are content.  There is not only magic in Christmas, but valuable lessons about life as well.

Happy weekend everyone - time to grab an elf and make some Christmas lists!!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

If Mama Ain't Happy...

For just about two years, I worked a few nights a week waiting tables.  Some weekends I worked twelve hours on a Sunday.  I pulled "doubles," in waitress speak. 

Every mom is different.  We all need different things to maintain our sanity.  Some of us need wine, some of us need to work, some of us need a girls night out.

Some of us need all those things, in one night.

While I enjoyed waiting tables, and it was very refreshing to go out and make money, I missed my kids every time I left the house.  I wondered if Hubby would remember to quiz them on spelling words, if he would be patient with them, if he would watch them when they played outside and if he would read books before bed.  I worried about them getting what they needed. 

Every time an ambulance sped by the restaurant, sirens blaring, I just KNEW it was headed to my house.  I would panic and text Hubby until he finally replied and reassured me I'm just looney.

For the record, Hubby did a fabulous job.  They did get what they needed, and it was very beneficial for them to get it from him and not me at times.  Regardless, I missed my babies.  I missed not putting them to bed and I missed not driving them where they needed to go.  There was a sadness inside me every time I left them as they got off that bus after school.  I worked because I had to, and I focused on the good it was bringing my family. 

I don't need to work outside the home to feel fulfilled.  I just don't.  Since Hubby took his new job, I've been doing most of the parenting.  I feed them dinner, I drive them to activities, I put them to bed.  I run a fairly tight ship, and I do what needs to be done.  I love being around and with my kids.  I take pride in parenting them, and there is no job more exhausting and time consuming than being a parent.

As long as I get a Starbucks every morning, and my blogging and writing done throughout the day, my sanity remains 85% intact.  If I manage to get them all washed up, snuggled and in bed by 9:30, I can push my daily sanity percentage (DSP) to 90%. 

Every mother needs something different.  Needing to work or not needing to work, our kids will blossom when mom is happy.  It's very easy to stress about money, work and what we are doing wrong.  Focus on what you're doing right.  If you're a mom who works because she has to, make the most of the time you have at home.  If you're a mom who works because she loves to, don't feel guilty.  If you're a mom who is happily home all day, college degree collecting dust, cheers to you too. 

My aunt had a wood sign that hung in her kitchen, it read "If Mama ain't happy, no one's happy."

Isn't that the truth.  Be happy.  Do what you need to be sane and to love your kids, because at the end of the day, love is all they need.

Cheers for a fabulous Thursday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Christmas Shopping Anyone?

Last year, I started Christmas shopping in late October.  I had my eyes open every time I went out, and I had a small stash of goodies before November even arrived.  Trouble is, with four kids, and a large extended family, starting in late October wasn't early enough.

I remember thinking, as I wrapped feverishly one evening in December at 11pm, I need to start earlier next year...

There was too much to do in the few days before Santa arrived.  I admit I'm a bit of a perfectionist in regard to my holiday, and every child has the exact same number of gifts under the tree.  The stockings are overflowing with useful, exciting items and gifts for my sisters and brothers and parents are wrapped intricately with ribbons and bells.

I go a bit overboard.  Santa as well.

Just the other day, I realized it's November.  The second week of November.  This realization hit me as I sat in the Starbucks drive-thru, and I saw the Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino is back.  The holiday menu was up and running.  After I danced the jig and ordered up my Peppermint delight, I had a mini panic attack.
Not only do I need to prepare the house for rent and pack up any items we don't use on a regular basis, I need to start shopping, pronto.

Actually, I needed to start shopping mid October if I listened to my own pleas from last Christmas.  This makes me several weeks behind schedule.  Par for the course around here.

Time to get my butt in gear and clip some coupons.  I need to read the fliers and make my lists.  I'm determined to be ready, watching Christmas movies and baking all December. 

What's your holiday style?  Are you prepared many weeks in advance, or do you run on adrenaline?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tales from a "Gym Mom"

Over the weekend, my Gymnastics Queen competed for the first time at level 5.  All this really means is that we were excited for her, and the routines are more difficult than they were last year.

I've never done a pull up, let alone a back-handspring.  The best I can describe gymnastics is that it looks really hard and every level is more complicated than the one before.  I just now, after three years watching competitions, can finally catch a few deductions in her routines.  Deductions I catch include:

Pausing in the middle of a routine, falls and stepping out of bounds.  The rest goes over my head, every time.

This year, along with catching some deductions every now and then, I'm much more relaxed.  I've evolved as a "gym mom."  The less I freak out and question things the more my girl accomplishes.  She is more at ease, and less competitive amongst her own teammates.  Most importantly, she doesn't over-think every little mistake.

She sees every routine as a whole.

Over the summer, one of her coaches was having a parent's meeting.  The coach, who has trained many girls over the course of 20 years, had some valuable words of wisdom.

"If your daughter falls at a competition, no one will feel that more than her.  These girls do so much, dedicate so much time, they need to be celebrated after every meet.  Don't immediately ask about a fall or a mistake, tell them how great they did."

While so simple, it is so true. 

I've heard parents mumble some unthinkable things in that gymnastics waiting room.  I've seen crazy right in front of me.  From "I hope the whole gym is laughing at her...she deserves it.." to "if she doesn't stop coming out here I'm not sending her to camp next week in Texas (girl, 9, currently in camp in PA, lives in NY)...."

Huh? And say what? Who's laughing and going to Texas?

It's very easy to get caught up in your children's sporting events, schooling and extracurricular activities.  Especially when they demand time and money.  Remember to step back, enjoy the ride, and praise hard work.  These are kids.  Remember they are kids.  Treat them like kids, and be their happy, safe place.  They will need it more often than you know.

My daughter's routine scored her a silver, and we left the meet excited for her win and starving for dinner.  We grabbed some grub, and rather than pick apart her routines, we picked on wings on fries.  It was a much better way to celebrate a job well done!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Relocation Stuff

As of late, along with whipping my butt into Christmas shopping shape, I've been packing.  And cleaning.  And packing.

We've decided to rent our house, because we had no other option.  Isn't that an easy way to make a decision?  Hmmm...looking at these numbers, you can either rent, or rent! Like so many other families, we just can't take the loss in the real estate market right now.  I love my house, and selling it for next to nothing would be similar to someone punching me in the jugular, laughing and running away with my money.


I don't have a renter for our house, I haven't even put the house up for rent.  I just have this nagging feeling that I'll be in a mad rush to move everything when it's time to relocate.  I'm fairly certain I'll be in a mad rush no matter how much time I have to pack, despite my best efforts to be uber organized and prepared.  That's how I roll.

And so I prepare to rent our house.  I'm currently praying for a nice family to find our home, and care for it like it's their own.  The whole idea scares me to bits, since I've never rented anything or rented to anyone.  But there is a first for everything, and I have a strong belief that the more I experience, the more I learn and evolve as a person.  I gain knowledge and more importantly, compassion.  The more shoes I walk in the more I'm able to understand others.  I have faith that after all is said and done, I'll understand the real estate renter's market.

Or maybe I'll just be crawling my way back to sanity. 

This week, my current count on trash bags is eight.  Eight large, black trash bags of broken toys, stained clothes and many other odds and ends I've plucked off my carpets.

My current count on bags I've donated to Goodwill is ten.  I must admit the closets are much less cluttered without all the stuff I was saving for no apparent reason.  I had about eight purses stashed in my closet because they were either Coach, DKNY or Kate Spade.

I haven't carried any of them since I moved to this house 5 1/2 years ago, but I saved them regardless.  They are currently all for sale at the Goodwill.

On this note, I'm headed to vacuum some dust bunnies from under the couch.  Wishing everyone a wonderful start to the week.  Thanks to all our veterans out there!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holiday Shopping: Ten Tips to Save You Money

Yesterday, at Target, a mom was checking out, hiding an Elmo doll under the back of the cart from her toddler.  Her little girl was dancing away, completely unaware, entertaining the cashier.  In seconds, this sly mama whipped out the toy, had it doubled bagged while her girl paid no attention, and quickly placed it back under her cart.

The moral of my story?  Other than I've been "that mom" dozens of times?

The holidays are just about here.

Before you designate a day to go out and spend all your hard earned money on holiday gifts, here are 10 easy and effective tips to save money this season.

1.  If you buy online, check for coupon codes prior to check out.

My favorite coupon code site is  Just the other evening I was shopping on Coldwater Creek.  I was almost through my checkout before I cruised over to to check for any available codes.

Guess what I found? 30% off AND free shipping.

Those few minutes I took to check for coupon codes saved me just over $16.00.

2.  Be mindful of sales.

While it's not easy to stay on top of every sale, discount and deal in town, it's important to be mindful of sales.  Check flyers on Sundays, check websites for coupons before leaving the house.  If you plan ahead, you may be able to find a weekend that you can grab mucho on your shopping list, mostly at a discount.

3.  Save receipts.

Saving receipts may be the single most important "holiday save money" tip.  When you start holiday shopping, use an envelope, coin purse, folder or even a sandwich bag to collect ALL holiday related receipts.  I like to mark receipts with a quick name or word that helps me identify what is on it, such as "Hubby shirt" or "ipod."

If you're out shopping two weeks after you purchased jeans for your Hubby, and you see them for a better price, buy them and return the original.  If you have unused toys, clothes or other goodies after the holidays, return them.  Return, return, return.

It will save you money, I promise.

4.  Shop etsy or make your own gifts.

Homemade gifts are very well received.  Dip pretzels in chocolate and package them in a decorative tin.  Attach a gift card.  Make a quilt, or have your kids paint pottery for their grandparents downtown.  Purchase hand blown glass, homemade body butter or handmade jewelry.  While the latest gadget is surely a winner, you can save a bundle by going the thoughtful, homemade route.  You'll also be supporting small businesses.

5.  Know where the clearance is.

When I go shopping, I immediately look through the sale and clearance racks.  I never buy full price.  If I don't have a coupon, or the item is not on sale, we do not buy.


Clearance is most often found in the back of the store, or around the perimeter.  It's against the walls, in the back corners and on the bottom shelves.  You have to look in the right places to find the best deals.  Our Old Navy, for instance, has their clearance rack in the back left of the girls department, behind a wall.  You mind as well need a map to get there.

Clearance will never be front and center.  Just like name brands at the grocery store, full price is in full view.  The Gap wants you buying what is fresh, new and expensive.

They do not want you buying 10 shirts for $4.97/piece and calling it a day.

6.  Don't be afraid to split your purchase if you have a coupon.

While shopping this week, I had a coupon for $30 off $75 or more.  This offer could not be combined with any coupons or gift cards.  I asked the cashier to stop ringing me up at $75 and let me use the coupon, and start a new purchase with whatever merchandise remained so I could use a gift card.

While some cashiers may be annoyed, they are not paying your Amex.

7.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday will save you money.  Every time.

Black Friday is not just for 2am shoppers waiting in line outside Toys R Us.  Just about every major retailer offers crazy awesome deals ONLINE on Black Friday.  You can shop at home, in your pajamas, and save major green.

The same goes for the Monday after Thanksgiving.  This is called "Cyber Monday," and retailers are trying to target everyone back at work suddenly thinking, Holy Sheet, Christmas is coming...

Take advantage and check online sales.

8.  Think outside the box.  Literally.

Best Buy is not the only place to buy an iPod.  I purchased a refurbished Game Cube for my son several years ago (when Game Cubes were "in") on  I paid $42.00, with shipping.  We still have it today, and it still works.  If you can do without original packaging you can save mucho dollars on many items this holiday season.

Try Overstock, eBay and Craigslist.

9.  Gift baskets.

Gift baskets are a great tool if you need to save money.  Keep your eyes open for clearance skin care items, candles, decorative pillows, nail polishes and other luxury items for the next several weeks.  Target, for instance, has phenomenal deals on the "endcaps" (the shelves at the end of the aisle).  You can find name brand, high end items at deep discounts if you check periodically.  I bought a value double pack of Bedhead Shampoo for $8.00 a few years ago.  If you stick with a theme, (skin and nails, kitchen, bathroom) you can put together a pretty awesome basket full of goodies for a great price.  Fill excess space with candies, wine or gourmet chocolates.

10.  Go thoughtful and useful, instead of extravagant.

Just like buying homemade or making a gift shows care, giving an item or an experience someone wouldn't normally have is a great non expensive gift idea.  Think of a magazine subscription, or a gift card for dinner with a note offering to babysit.  One year my friend gave me a subscription to People magazine.  She is a nurse, and was able to purchase at a deeply discounted rate.  I looked forward to that magazine every Friday.

Make the holidays about family, friends and giving to those in need.  If you keep the holiday in perspective, and start looking for deals NOW, you won't break the bank.  Even better? You'll enjoy the holiday season.

Do you have any tried and true holiday saving tips?  Comment and share!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Wednesday, Post Election, Things

The election is over.  It's been decided and we all can move on.  We can return to reading Facebook posts about weather, television and what our kids said at dinner.  We will once again post pictures of our puppies, trinkets and ourselves out with friends.  We can finally, FINALLY return to sane individuals.

My phone line is awful quiet this morning.  No political calls.  My mailbox contains only bills and holiday shopping magazines.  No political flyers. Thank the LORD.

My energies will now be devoted to packing, Christmas shopping and sharing everything my brain thinks up on my blog.  My brain is currently worried about packing and Christmas shopping.  Oh, and about the Nor'easter headed my way.

This is what I look like when I'm tired of election coverage, snow is headed my way and need to buy milk.

With that in mind I need to sign off, get my ass dressed and get some groceries.  And use up an OLD NAVY coupon that's burning a hole in my purse.

Happy Wednesday.  Happy back to normal day.  Happy it's all over day.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

image via brandiron
All my munchkins are home from school today, which translates to "This WILL BE short."

We started with five dentist appointments at 9am, cruised into Starbucks for Frappuccinos at noon, drove to my polling site, voted at 1:15pm, went to the post office and just now, at 2pm, arrived back home.

The dentist was a raving success.  No cavities, except of course for me.  We love our dentist dearly, and they all find my kids endearing which makes the 45 minute drive to the office more than worth my while.  Starbucks, however, looked at us with wide "I can't believe this woman brought FOUR kids in here" eyes.  I ignored all the crazy eyeballs, ordered my Frappuccinos and did my best to rush out before my munchkins broke something or tripped over a laptop cord.

For the record, not all Starbucks locations are as fearful of children.  I have had several dozen pleasant experiences in many less snooty areas.


On a high note, my polling place welcomed me and my circus with open arms.  I felt like citizen of the year as I squeezed all my kids into that booth and explained the voting system.  Moopa may or may not have wandered underneath the little table into the adjacent booth.

No one was inside, thank the Lord.

We cast our ballot together, and left proud to be Americans.  At least I did.  I also took many questions about our voting system from my munchkins, such as "Can you vote more than once?" "Will we know who wins today?" "Why can't I tell everyone who you voted for?" "Are we going home yet?"....

I hope everyone finds the time to get out there and vote today.  I took my entourage and survived just fine.  As I said to my munchkins, everyone only gets ONE vote...use it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Slice of Life Tees (and why I love them)

A few years ago, at my brother's engagement barbeque, my uncle candidly told me about an idea he had for a new company.  His partner is a chef.  They make the most fabulous cookies for us on Christmas, cookies such as homemade Mallomars.

Yes.  Homemade Mallomars.  Be still my coronary artery.

It's very safe to say they are both passionate about food.  They are also passionate about Disney World, which makes them even more awesome.

As I steer myself back on track, and away from cookies and Disney World, I'll return to the engagement party barbeque.  Which was a blast by the way.

My uncle described tee shirts for "foodies," people also passionate about food.  The shirts would say things like "Make Food Not War," "Bad Ass Baker," and "Silence of the Lambchops."  The company name they dreamed up was "Slice of Life Tees." 

My uncle, an artist, and his partner, a chef, spent many hours making this dream a reality.  Many.  Like so many other small business owners, this company was a 3rd and 4th job.  But they did it, and they are currently selling some very cool "Slice of Life Tees" online and at Farmer's Markets.

A few weeks ago, my uncle sent me one of his tees.  It's very, very appropriate for a mama like me.
In case you can't read it, it says "Chocolate has been the greatest love of my life."

Ah, chocolate never disappoints.

This tee is super soft, not rigid and scratchy like some tee shirts.  It has that "worn in" feel.  Truthfully, it is my most favorite bedtime attire.  The colors have not faded even after several washes.  And it's just the coolest thing ever, because:

1.  It's from my uncle
2.  It's about chocolate
3.  The tee is unique, which is not easy to find this day in age

This holiday season, I urge everyone to support small businesses like my uncle's.  This is the heart of America.  Small business owners are hard working people, passionate about their product and not the bottom line.  These companies are run by men and women who are up early in the morning dedicated to their small business, and sometimes work an entirely different job to support themselves.

Think about shopping on etsy (check out my blog buddy's store, Goodnyou?) and companies like Slice of Life Tees.

Go to Farmer's Markets and shop downtown.  You'll nab unique gifts friends and family will love, and you'll be putting food on someone's table.  Paying an electric bill.  You'll be supporting your neighbors and town.  Disasters such as Hurricane Sandy are exactly why we need to put our energies into supporting each other, not giant corporations.

Shop local.  Shop different.  Shop Indie.

(While I'm on the subject, don't forget to read my blog.  Or "pin" one of my posts, any and all support helps!)


Friday, November 2, 2012

Holiday Cards: Do's and Don'ts

I have something important to share.  

It's November.

While most of us are still recovering from Halloween Candy overload, and the very thought of the holidays makes us hyperventilate, they are right around the corner.  In an effort to avoid the last minute rush to pump out a holiday card before Christmas Eve, I enlisted the help of a very trusted, talented blogger friend to provide us with some holiday portrait insight.  She very graciously agreed to guest post on my blog, and I urge everyone to visit hers because she's awesome. 

Hey there, Sam here, from over at Goodnyou?. I couldn’t be more excited to be guest blogging over here in the hood of Mommy. I think we can all agree she’s pretty great, right?

When Jodie asked me to guest write I was pretty pumped, three short breaths later, the anxiety set in… My blog’s about the every days of my family… I’m a shoot from the hip writer, who has a hard time focusing on a collected focused post.  But, with the festive season fast approaching, what better time to prepare your mindset for the yearly dreaded task of Holiday card pictures…. so here is where I’ll settle…

According to the experiences I have had in this arena, allow me to pass long, my top 4 Do’s and Don’ts of Christmas portraits.  

DON’T Holiday theme.

I know a lot of people do and I’m not saying I never have, but always AFTER I’ve already gotten one I feel could easily be used to be sent to the masses… then anything else, is just bonus. I’m a big believer in killing as many birds in a folk, with a single stone shot…

Holiday themed pictures have a short shelf life… Especially when you have little ones. If you’re putting the efforts into getting the shot, make it one that can be hung on the wall year round, be given as a gift for Meme’s mantle, handed out in wallet sizes for Uncle Bub to show off, while bragging about your angles, to his bowling team.

If you’re putting in the effort of getting a good picture, milk it for all it’s worth. Photobucket  
DO use bribes Bribes get results. Results are what we’re looking for. M&M’s work nicely.


DON'T say ‘Cheese’

Saying ‘cheese’ pulls the corners of your mouth back, creating what I call a ‘gritting your teeth’ look…. If you happen to fancy the look of someone gritting his or her teeth, then by all means ignore this tip…

However, if you want a more ‘natural’ looking smile, suggest a word like “Bunny”… the natural way to enunciate the “y” sound draws your mouth upward, not back. If you want an actual natural smile… throw in a foolish word like pollywog, scallywag, or rumbleduflingplatapus… kids love silly… silly creates smiles… smiles are good… especially the real ones.  

DON’T have any expectations.

You know that image you have in your head about all the children, blissfully displaying a genuine smile that radiated their reflection of all that is glorious as a child this time of year?  Well rip that little idea from its cloud, aggressively crumble it up, dramatically throw it in the trashcan, and set fire to it.  If you go into it with the purpose of ideal you’ll come out with the ladder. Set your sights on getting everyone looking at the camera at once and no fingers up noses. This leaves plenty of room to be pleasantly surprised. And if all else fails, take a picture of your kids while sleeping, play up the whole Silent Night theme, they’ll love it!

Happy Snapping!

Visit Sam over at Goodnyou? and read more about her fabulous family, the ins and outs of mommy-ing in Maine, and don't miss her etsy shop