Saturday, May 30, 2009

I have the most wonderful husband!

Seriously, I do :o)

Aside from all of his general awesomeness (which is a lot) he went above and beyond for me today. I was up VERY late last night baking cupcakes for a wedding reception today. I went to bed exhausted, leaving a mountain of dishes in the kitchen (we don't have a dishwasher).

I was pretty tired this morning, so after I fed Grant, Fred watched the kids so that I could go back to sleep. But, he didn't stop there. He washed all of the dishes, which was A LOT. He folded the laundry that had been sitting in the dryer for 2 days. And he took out the trash and picked up the house. All the while, keeping an eye on Hunter and Grant.

It was such a wonderful surprise to wake up and find the house in such pristine condition. I am a very lucky girl!

I got my free chocolate

I posted about Mars free chocolate coupons a couple of weeks ago here. Well, I got my first coupon in the mail today! I was able to snag another one on Friday too (each household can get up to 4)

Go here every Friday at 9am EST to get yours!

Great Smith's Deals

I went to Smith's yesterday as was able to get all this for $6.59! Regular price: $21.88 - total savings of 74%! What makes this even better is that I also got 2 $1 catalinas and an invitation to complete a survey. I did the survey (it was kinda long) and they will be sending me a check for $5. Sweet!
I've already told you about the great country time lemonade deal, but the Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese deal is pretty sweet too. The boxes of Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese are priced at $1.61 / box. There is a $1.00 coupon here (print it off asap - it may be gone after the end of this month). Which makes each box only $.61, which is a great deal. But, it gets even better. When you buy 2, you get a $1 catalina to use later. Awesomeness - I love it!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BLTTA Sandwiches

As a child, my mom let us chose anything we wanted to have for our dinner on our birthday. I remember many years choosing to have BLT sandwiches. I absolutely love them. This one is healthier and kicked up a couple notches in flavor. Check out the recipe here

Bread - $1.73 at Walmart = $.09 / slice, used 8 - total $.72

Jenny-O Turkey Bacon - $2.00 at Walmart = $.09 / slice, used 8 - total - $.72

Lettuce - $1.49 at Smith's, used 4 leafs - approximate total $0.25

Roma Tomatoes - $.33 / lb at Walmart, total for 2 tomatoes - $0.14

Oscar Mayer Sliced Turkey - on Price Cut at Target for $2.99 each, used $.75 printable coupon, and $1 / 2 Target Coupon - total $1.74

Avocado - on sale at Walmart for $.50 each, used 2 - total $1.00

Pickles - had them in the fridge, I diced up one spear, that's gotta only cost about $.20

Green Onions - $.50 at Walmart, used 1 - total $.05

Grand Total - $4.82 for 4 servings, $1.20 for each serving

A few notes...

I used turkey bacon (and no mayonnaise for that matter) to make the sandwich healthier. I know turkey bacon is nothing like real bacon, but the sandwich is so tasty, that you don't really miss it (well, maybe a teensy, tiny bit :o)

Walmart consistently has really cheap price on avocados. However, they are almost always under ripe and sometimes over ripe - they are never perfectly ripe and ready to eat that day. So, buy them under ripe - green and hard. Avocados ripen up beautifully after they've been picked. You just have to plan ahead and not have your heart set on eating them the day you get them. Sometimes, I'll place them in my fruit bowl next to bananas, which emit pheromones that speed ripening. When stored at room temperature, the avocados will be ready to eat in a few days. If they ripe and you're not ready to eat them yet, put them in the fridge - this really slows them down and they'll be good for a while in there (probably up to a week).

Chipotle Pineapple Roast Beef Sandwiches

These yummy sandwiches have a great combination of salty, sweet, smokey, and spicy flavors. I love serving sandwiches during the summer because it requires minimal cooking. Below I list what I spent on the ingredients and how I made this meal frugally. You can find the recipe here.


Sara Lee Wheat Hamburger Buns - $3.22 for 8 - $.40 each (they're pricey buns, but they're whole grain, so it's worth the extra cost for me) - total $1.60

Oscar Mayer Roast Beef - on Price Cut at Target for $2.99 each, used $.75 printable coupon, and $1 / 2 Target Coupon - total $1.74

Dole Sliced Pineapple - $1.00 at Walmart, used $.50 coupon - total $.50

Kraft Mayonnaise - $1.99 at Target, used $1.00 off coupon here, and $1 off Target coupon here - total Free!!! (this deal is still going on, so you should definitely get in on this if you haven't yet)

Chipotle Peppers - $1.76 at Walmart, used 1 pepper - approximate total $.22

Red Leaf Lettuce - $1.49 at Smith's, used 8 leafs - approximate total $.50

Potato Wedges:

Potatoes - 10/b bag at Smith's $1.79, used 4, approximate total - $.20

Ketchup - free with coupon from this book

Cooking Spray - negligible cost

Salt and Pepper - negligible cost

Grand Total: $4.76 for 4 servings, $1.19 for each serving

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Free Ice Cream!!!!!

There are 2 great free events coming up.

First, on Saturday (5/30) from 11 am - 4pm Walmart is having free Ice Cream Day! While supplies last you can get your choice of the following full size servings:

1.57 fl. oz Dibs Snack Bag
2.4 fl. oz. Blue Bunny Aspen Frozen Yogurt Granola Bar
4 oz. Ben & Jerry’s Flipped Out Cup.

It looks like all the Walmarts in Utah are participating. Go here to see if your store is participating.

Second, on Wednesday, June 3rd from 8pm - close get a free 10 oz. Root Beer Float at Sonic Drive-in. Every Sonic is Participating.
Yay for free treats!

Lemonade Anyone?

This post is for anyone that has a Smith's grocery store nearby.

They have a killer deal on Country Time Lemonade right now. The 8 quart canisters are only $.99 each - which is an amazing deal by itself. But, it gets even better. There is a $1.50 / 2 coupon here which makes each canister only $.25! (You can print off the coupon twice)

I just bought 4 of them, which normally would have cost $16 + tax (they're $3.99 each normally), but I only paid $1.08 total! I am set on Lemonade for the rest of the summer :o)

This is the second week of this sale, so I don't know how much longer they will have them in stock. So if you want some cheap lemonade, hurry, hurry, hurry!

UPDATE: There will be a $1 off your next order catalina running from 5/29 - 6/11 when you buy 2 drink mixes. They will be on sale at least until Tuesday, June 2nd (I don't know if they will be on sale beyond this current sale period). So, if you wait another day to get them, Smith's will actually pay you to come take product off their shelves :o). If you will be using 2 coupons (buying 4 canisters) you need to do them in separate transactions so that you will be able to get the catalina twice. I sure hope they still have this in stock because I really want to in on this deal!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Food For Frugal Foodies

I've started another blog called "Food for Frugal Foodies". I decided to start it about a month ago after seeing a lot of bland (and some out right disgusting) meals on some of the money saving blogs I follow. I want to showcase some of the tasty meals that I create with my frugal finds. My first recipe for Pineapple Poppy Seed Pasta Salad is here.

I love making pasta salads during the summer - I make dozens of different recipes. We're not talking the tri-color rotini pasta with grape tomatoes, cheese cubes and broccoli tossed with Italian Salad dressing. We're talking really yummy and unique pasta salads. Pasta salads are great in the summer because they're served cold, which is always refreshing on a hot day. I can make them early in the day before it gets too warm, so I'm not heating up the house during the hottest part of the day. I love being able to prep them ahead of time, it makes the post-nap / pre-dinner time a lot easier.

Here's the breakdown of what I spent on the ingredients:

Chicken - on sale at Smith's for $.69 / lb - total $2.35

Pasta - on Price Cut at Target for $1.00 / box, used $.75 off coupon - total $.25

Celery - on sale at Smith's for $0.99, used half - total $.50

Green Onions - on Rollback at Walmart for $.50, used 1/4 - total $.12

Dole Crushed Pineapple - $1.00 at Walmart, used $.50 off coupon - total $.50

Salad Dressing - on Price Cut at Target for $1.59, used $1.00 off coupon here and $.50 off Target coupon - total $.09

Grand Total: $3.81 for 6 servings (that's only $.64 / serving). Pair it with some seasonal fruits and veggies and you have a very frugal, and tasty, meal.


I came back from vacation and had all of this free stuff waiting for me in my mail:

It's hard tell what everything is but there's a reusable shopping bag, a Schick razor, 3 shampoo and conditioner samples (2 Aveeno, 1 John Freida), 5 coloring and activity books, a saws-all blade (for Fred), a hanging file folder, a sample of Emergen-C, a sample of Omega-3, tons of coupons (including one for a free bottle of ketchup), a sample of Nivea boday wash, a potty training DVD, 25 free prints from Shutterfly (we did have to pay a couple of bucks in shipping for this), 3 perfume samples and a few random stickers.

I love getting freebies in the mail! It's so easy too - filling out your name and address, which takes 10 seconds. I don't even do any of the ones where you have to participate in surveys, complete offers or sign up for other programs (you can get lots of great freebies that way, but it's just not worth the time and effort for me). Be sure that you have a special e-mail address to use for this stuff so that you don't get spam in your regular e-mail account.

If you're not signing up for freebies - you really should :o)

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Scorceress by Michael Scott

I am very excited about this book being released tomorrow:

But, I will have to be patient, because we will be checking it out from the Provo library and are currently #21 in line (they have lots of copies, so hopefully it will only take a month or so).

The Sorceress is the third book in the series. The first 2 are The Alchemyst and The Magician.

I'm not usually a huge fan of the fantasy genre in general, but I've really enjoyed these books. They're young adult - so they're fast, easy reads. They're set in the modern day and correlate events and places in our society and history with the fantasy story lines. It's fun and interesting. He's a great storyteller - he doesn't waste time setting things up - he just gets in on the action.

If you're looking for a fun summer read, I highly recommend checking them out.

Lost in Translation

Before we went on vacation, we went to Jumpin' Jacks in Springville for their free admission customer appreciation day. We had a great time, you can read about it here (if you don't have access to my kids blog, but want to, just let me know - most of the fun stuff is over there)

While Hunter was bouncing around like a mad man, Fred and I had a good laugh at this warning label. (Hopefully it's big enough that you can see the pictures)

What we see is: No scissors, no sunglasses, no women, no first aid, no watches, no superheros with sidekicks, no dead people, no dogs, no food, and no shoes.

I think something was lost in translation (it's a Chinese product) because I have no idea what half those pictures are supposed to mean. What do you think they mean?


When I started following money saving blogs a few months ago, I noticed that all of the sites talked about Swagbucks. So, I decided to give it a try.

Swagbucks is a site that pays you for your internet searches. Their site is powered by Google and Ask, so the results are pretty good. When you search the internet using their site you are randomly awarded "swagbucks". You don't get one for every search you do, but I'd say it averages out to be about 1 out of 10 searches receives swagbucks (1, 2, 5, or 10).

Once you accrue enough swagbucks you can trade them in for prizes. My favorite, and the most popular, is Amazon gift cards. 45 swagbucks earns you a $5 gift card. I just requested my first gift card :o). It took me about 2 months to accumulate enough swagbucks, so at this rate, by the end of the year, I'll have 4-5 $5 amazon gift cards (which will be perfect for Christmas presents). I don't do a lot of internet searches, so I'm earning these at a slower rate, I know some people who earn swagbucks a lot faster than I do.

Like I said about YouData, you won't make a ton of money doing this. But you will make some money, and every little bit helps. It's especially great when you're able to get something for free by simply doing what you already do (ie searching the web).

The search results aren't sorted and ranked like ones through Google, so they aren't as easy to sift through. But, I usually can find what I'm looking for. And if I can't, I simply type "Google" into the Swagbucks search field and I'm able to search there. I've earned several swagbucks by simply going to Google's homepage through Swagbucks.

I downloaded the toolbar so that it is easier to use and I remember to search using Swagbucks, instead of automatically going to Google.

It is really a great way to earn some extra $ with very little extra work. You should check it out - click on the button on the side of my blog.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

You Data Review

A few months ago I signed up for this website called You Data. Basically, it is a website where companies pay you to click onto their websites.

First you create an account. If I remember correctly you only need a user name and e-mail address to sign up - they don't ask for a lot of personal information. You can then go ahead and fill out a survey which will help You Data send you to the websites that you are most interested in.

After you've created a profile, you simply load up the advertisements they have available to you. Then You click on the links and it takes you to a companies website. They are all legit websites and I have not encountered any problems with viruses.

You get paid for every site you visit. This is not a get-rich-quick program - you will make a few bucks the first few weeks after you sign up, and then it will trail off a bit. Right now, I make anywhere between $.50 - $1.00 a week doing this. Which really seems like nothing. But, it literally takes 2 minutes to do this and at the end of the year I will have made $30 - $50. That will be great to put towards Christmas presents!

You get paid via paypal - they deposit it directly into your account automatically. I've just left my money in there and will allow it to accumulate until the end of the year, then I'll have Christmas presents for a couple of people free!

It is a really, simple painless, although not extremely lucrative, way to make a little extra money.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Off to the Happiest Place on Earth

I am beyond excited for our vacation next week. I have so much to do before then, that it's hard to let myself get caught up in the excitment while I still have so much left to take care of.

On the itenerary:

My sweet sister is going to babysit the boys tomorrow night so that Fred and I can go to the temple together (that hasn't happened in over a year). We're going to Disneyland on Monday and Tuesday (and maybe Thursday - we'll see how exhausted we are). And we're going to the beach sometime.

It will be a great vacation - but right now, I need to fucus on the tasks at hand...

Shopping This Week

Despite going out of town tomorrow for a week, I had to get some grocery shopping in before we left. After the Kraft coupon bonanza earlier in the week, there were some sales that I just couldn't pass up.

I made a stop at Target where I got this:

for $39.03! Originally this would have cost me $93.36. Plus I got a $5 gift card to use later. Their shelves were really cleared out - there were out of a lot of things that I really wanted to get. There were a couple things that I should've asked for a rain check on, but it didn't occur to me until later (I'm still new to this whole bargain grocery shopping game).

I also stopped at Smith's were I got $28.81 worth of food for $12.44 (plus I have $3.75 in catalinas to use later. I got 6 bottles Kraft BBQ sauce, 5 pack Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, 1 pack Capri Sun, bag of shredded potatoes, Post Trail Mix Crunch cereal, and 2 whole chickens. No pictures - I was too tired and just wanted to get the food put away! Smith's has these great little shopping carts for kids and Hunter LOVES them!

And I went to Albertson's and was extremely disappointed because they were out of a lot of the promotional items. They NEVER seem to stock up for these sales - it's really frustrating. But, I did get $23.36 worth of food for $6.36 (and I have $3.99 coming back in a rebate) I got 2 packages of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, 6 tubs of Betty Crocker Frosting, and 1 bottle of Pert Plus shampoo (I'll try anything that's free after rebate, and this one's actually a money maker!)

Total out of pocket this week: $57.88, retail amount $145.53. Pretty good - I happy anytime I save more than I spend.

As fun as it is to do all of this great coupon shopping, it will be nice to forget about it for a week while we're on vacation - it's tiring!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Light Refreshments Served

I just wanted to let you know of a delightful little blog called Light Refreshments Served. It is written by a group of LDS women that are so witty and entertaining. They will make you laugh, they will make you cry, they will remind you of what's most important in this life, and they will help you take yourself less seriously. I highly suggest checking it out.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Folic Acid at Walgreens

So, I wasn't planning to go to Walgreens today because their sale this week is LAME, but, I needed to pick up my free 8x10 and so I decided to go today. I got my picture (it turned out great!) and decided to peruse the aisles to see if they had any amazing clearance items. And boy did they! They had Peanut Butter for $.87, a bunch of vitamins all discounted a lot and tons of other things. I didn't take too much time looking at them all because I had Hunter with me and I needed to get back home to feed Grant. But, I did grab a bottle of Nature Made Folic Acid supplements (180 count) for $.75! No, I'm not pregnant, but the pills are good until 10/2012 and so I'll definitely use them by then. How could I pass that up - they're normally $9. Awesome! They had 5 bottles left, so if you need some Folic Acid, it might be worth a trip to Walgreens to just to get some.

And this picture has nothing to do with Walgreens, it's just pretty, so I though I'd add it. These are blooming in our front yard now, aren't they lovely?!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Old Habits Die Hard

So, I've written a bazillion posts tonight, but I thought I'd throw out one more while I'm waiting for Fred to finish LSAT studying.

I am totally failing at my 11:00pm bedtime goal (as you can probably tell, because this post is being written at 11:10pm). I have such a hard time stopping everything that I'm doing and just going to bed. I really want to be able to do this, but I am a chronic to-do lister and feel like I have to get everything done asap! And I've always been a night person - I would rather stay up and just get it done, than go to bed and wake up early to complete something. But, it's hard to be a night owl with kids who are up with the sun.

Anyone have any suggestions to help me out on this one.

Spring Cleaning Update

The last 2 days of Spring Cleaning focused on the kitchen. I only got 2 things accomplished on these days, but they were 2 very BIG things. I moved the stove and fridge away from the wall and cleaned everything along, under, around and on them and the walls they were hiding. It took several hours but I am SO happy it's done. I cannot tell you what a mental relief it is. Every time I dropped something down the side of the stove or fridge I'd look back there and think, "ugh, I have to clean this some day". Well that day has come and gone and it's great to have it done. It is so freeing to have one less thing bouncing around in the back of my head clambering for attention.

I didn't take pictures of the floor or wall behind the stove - but trust me, it was bad (yuck!). Here's a picture of before and after for the fridge:
The area behind / under the stove was even worse, if you can imagine that.
The next couple of days I'm planning on cleaning the rest of the kitchen - walls, floor, cupboards, drawers and pantry. It all needs to be done so bad - I must be a very messy cook! I do cook a lot, so maybe I'll blame it on the high volume of food that comes out of that kitchen and not my total spasticness :o)

I'm a little behind in the overall Spring Cleaning Blog Party plan, but I'll get it all done. And I'll feel GREAT when it's all done.

Target Deals

I got all this at Target tonight:

I paid $19.72 out of pocket. I received $10 in Target gift cards and I will get $3.79 back in a rebate. So, it's like I spent $5.93 on all this! Retail price of all this would've been $54.49.

Star Trek Review

Fred and I saw Star Trek today as part of our Anniversary celebration. And I thought I'd share what we thought of it.

I think a large portion of our opinion of movies comes from preconceptions. For this movie, we both had very reserved expectations going in. Neither of us are Star Trek fans. And I in particular don't really enjoy mindless, summer, cgi-filled, action blockbusters. But, we both LOVE J.J. Abrams and so, were intrigued and wanted to see what he'd do with this franchise.

That being established, we really enjoyed the movie. I wouldn't say it was a great movie, but it was very good and enjoyable. The whole movie was very J.J. Abrams - which is a good thing. There was lots of action (although not enough for Fred). There was good character development (I liked that). The story was interesting and well told - the plot moved along nicely. I think that the plot could've been more complex - but that's coming from a total LOST addict (anything that doesn't make my brain feel like jello at the end is going to be too simple for me). Zachary Quinto was excellent as Spock. The rest of the cast was really good to, but he was the highlight for me.

The movie did cater to the teenage boy demographic too much for my taste. There were a couple dumb gags that only elicited eye rolls from me. I know they're trying to jump start the Star Trek franchise and they're appealing to a younger audience to do so. It was pretty clean too - very little language and not a lot of violence.

Usually I hate the mindless, cgi heavy dribble that fills the movie theaters during the summer months. The plots are usually so flimsy - they're just there to piece together the multi-million dollar cgi action sequences. But, this movie was smart and had 3-dimensional characters. The movie grabs you and pulls you into the Star Trek universe and makes you love it, even if you've never had any love for it before.

Overall we really liked it and recommend seeing it. It's been a long time since I've gone to see a movie opening day, and I have to say I miss it. Maybe we'll be doing this again a few more times this summer.

Entertainment Weekly has a review of it here too, in case you want a second opinion.

Pizzeria 712

For our Anniversary Fred and I went to eat at Pizzeria 712 in Orem. Fred met the owner the other day and as a fellow entrepreneur, wanted to support his restaurant. It was good! The prices are a little on the high end for us (that's not really saying much). We got a pizza and a panini for about $28 with tax and tip.

Our pizza had homemade sausage, caramelized onions, fennel, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. The panini had pastrami, sauerkraut, Gouda and Russian dressing. They were both very good. The tomato sauce on the pizza isn't cooked so it has a very light flavor and made for a very well balanced flavor. The crust was really tasty too - and I don't usually eat the crust of pizza (I usually think of it as a waste of calories - I'd rather have another slice of pizza with all the yummy toppings). And the panini was nice and crisp and I liked it even though I don't really care for sauerkraut - the sauerkraut had a very mild flavor.

Their menu changes monthly, so you'll always have something new to try. The place is small and intimate, and popular. So, you may have to wait a short while to be seated. But, the service is very fast it makes up for it.
I suggest checking it out - it's a great place!

Happy Anniversary!

Yesterday was our 4 year anniversary! We celebrated today by leaving the kids at home and getting out of the house by ourselves for 5 whole hours. We shopped, ate lunch and saw a movie. It was a splendid day! We do not do date nights often enough - boy do I miss them. It was great to feel like a couple and not parents for a little while.
I love ya babe! Happy Anniversay!

I love!

I don't think I could have said that yesterday at about 1:30am. I was TIRED and was just about to give up my vigil. But, I'm glad I hung in there, 'cause I scored a $60 off $100 coupon (there were only 167 of them available nationwide). Well, I didn't exactly get it myself. The site was having some major issues - some of us were locked out and others were able to get dozens of coupons. Luckily the readers at Hip2Save are awesome and e-mailed out their extras to those of us who were having problems. Isn't that awesome - what great team work :o) If you haven't checked out Hip2Save yet, you really should - she finds the BEST deals!

Today, Fred and I hit up Old Navy on our way to lunch and a movie as part of our Anniversary celebration. We decided to get clothes for Hunter for next winter in the next size up. We knew these clothes would be on clearance and we'd get the biggest bang for our buck. We picked up 5 shirts, 2 pants, 1 pair of socks and 1 hoodie for Hunter. Fred and I each got a shirt and we grabbed a re-usable shopping bag to get our order up to $100. The retail total (before tax) would've been $152.25. But, we only paid $42.89! Awesome huh?!

If you haven't checked out you should. They're resetting the site probably 2 more times this week, so you still have a chance at scoring a coupon. The big ones will go really fast, but there are others that should be easier to find.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Free Chocolate!!!!!

Starting tomorrow, 5/8, Mars candy is giving away 250,000 coupons for a FREE Mars candy bar every Friday from now until September! You have to be one of the first 250,000 to sign up each day and they start giving them away at 9am EST. If you're one of the lucky ones, they'll mail you a coupon for your free bar!

Go here to sign up for reminder e-mails.

We still have tons of Easter candy in my house, but you better believe that at 7am MST I'll be on my computer scoring some free chocolate.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hunter's Allowance

Fred and I decided that it was time for Hunter to receive an allowance in return for his help with chores around the house. And let me tell you, Hunter is so on board with this.

I took an empty mason jar and labeled it as his allowance jar. I created a list of chores that he could easy help with around the house. He gets a penny for everyone that he does. We've been doing this for a few days and he loves it. He actually does things without being asked and then tells me about them when he's done. Today, he asked to do laundry. And he was excited that he got to make his bed again after his nap. His enthusiasm is so refreshing!

We also decided to use this as a motivator for good behavior. There are some days that we seem to be locked in an endless cycle of pointless time-outs. Time-outs were just not working for us. But, now, anytime Hunter does something wrong (and after a couple warnings), we take a penny back and he has to re-earn it. It happened a couple times the first day, but not since then. Money is a serious motivator for this kid.

There are some pros and some cons that we can see to this system. First off, we like it because it teaches Hunter that he has to work to earn money - no free rides. Second, it teaches counting, addition, and subtraction. Third, we'll use it to teach monetary values as well - exchanging pennies for dimes, nickels, quarters etc. Fourth, it will teach him the principle of tithing and saving. Once a month, we'll count his money, set 10% aside for tithing and 10% into savings.

The down side to this, is that I worry that it is causing Hunter to focus to much on money. But, hopefully we'll be able to counter this in other ways. I hope that we'll be able to find enough other teaching moments that help him learn that life is not about money. Things like service projects, donations, homemade items, spending money on experiences and not things etc. I also worry that he'll expect to be paid for everything. So, we'll have to work with that as well.

So far, we really like the system that we've come up with. I'm sure that it will evolve over time as we move our way up the parental learning curve. But, for right now it is working great.

I share this, and other kid tips, not to brag or draw attention to myself, but simply to help others out. There are so many ways to parent and it is hard to find what works best for your family and each individual kid. I know that I enjoy when I just happen to stumble upon a great idea in a book, magazine, or in talking with a friend. So, I share these things with you, hoping that you'll be able to find inspiration to use in your own families. Parenting is a hard biz, and we should all help each other out. I'm simply trying to share my ideas, so that, perhaps, I might be able to help others be the best parents they can possibly be.

The Days Are Just Packed

I love Calvin & Hobbes! I remember spending time with my siblings, each with our own book, laughing out loud and sharing the funny cartoon we had just read. We spent hours doing this. I have several of the books (including the one above) and look forward to my kids discovering the wonderfully imaginative and trouble making Calvin and his best friend.

As today wound down, the title of this book popped into my head. And while Calvin & Hobbes day's were indeed packed, they were filled with a completely different kind of busyness than mine was today.

Our day was packed with a walk to the library, grocery shopping, bathes, dishes, playing at the park, T-ball, books, movies, blogging, laundry, meals, a dentist appointment and spring cleaning (although not as much as I wanted). All this with Fred working about 18 hours today! We. Are. Exhausted.

Spring Cleaning definitely took a back seat today. I did get the living room vacuumed, baseboards cleaned and windows washed. I did not get around to the vents or the couch. I am still motivated to get our home thoroughly cleaned, but I refuse to set it as a higher priority to time with my kids and husband. Hunter did help me clean a little, but he is 3 and only can do so much.

I'm still going to plug along and try to get as much spring cleaning done as possible - especially the kitchen. But, I won't be disappointed if I don't get everything done that I had originally planned. Every little bit helps. I'm telling ya, my baseboards seem like they're glowing, they're so white (I had no idea how dirty they were!). That little thing, clean baseboards, makes such a difference. Our home instantly feels like a better place. Silly, I know, but that's what cleaning is all about - making you (and your guests) more comfortable in your home. I want to make my home a haven - A place where I, and our family, loves to be. Spring cleaning is just one part of this, the other part involves days packed full of fun, memory making (and sometimes exhausting) moments.

Free 8x10 photo at Walgreens

Walgreens is offering a free 8x10 photo today only (Wednesday, May 6th). Order on-line here and use the code MOTHER. Select in store pick up so that you won't have to pay a cent.

I ordered one of Grant because we haven't had money to get his portrait taken, so this is going to be his baby portrait.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spring Cleaning Day 2

Well, no cleaning happened today. And I'm perfectly fine with it. We got caught up on laundry this morning and the weather after naps was so beautiful, it was a sin to stay inside. But, tomorrow I plan on vacuuming (edges and all), dusting, vacuuming vents, vacuuming the couch (and spot cleaning one little stain), and cleaning the inside of the windows.

I'm not going to wash any pillows (just did that a couple months ago) or clean the blinds (our landlord will replace them when we move out, they're not that dirty and I HATE cleaning blinds). I'll tackle the outside of the windows sometime during the summer when I'm already playing outside with hoses and stuff.

It was great to take a break today. I didn't even have to cook dinner (or do dishes for that matter) thanks for KFC and Oprah. If you haven't printed your coupon for a free grilled KFC meal yet - go do it right now! The sight has been slammed, so it may be difficult, but you can print 4 coupons - that's a lot of free food!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring Cleaning Party Day 1

Today, in the Spring Cleaning Blog Party was the clean sweep. Basically, get all the junk out of the way so that it will be easier to get in a get things clean later on.

It took me a few hours today to go through the whole house and straighten things out. Here's some before and after pictures:

There are no pictures of my husbands desk because there was no way I was tackling that! He is going to take care of it sometime himself, but he's so busy, that I don't know when that will actually happen.

This is our end table next to our sofa that becomes a catchall for everything - it's a constant battle to keep it clear.

This is one side of Grant's room (the messy side). I've been in the process of switching clothes around for the change in weather, but it's taken about a month because the weather has been so crazy. But, all the winter stuff is now packed away and hopefully our little guy won't freeze when we get a freak snow storm a month from now :)

These are all of the boxes that we've been hording lately. They used to be in our back storage room, but Fred needed room for all his tools in there. So he moved them to our bedroom :/ But, they're now nested and tucked away in our very cavernous closet. It would be nice to just get rid of them, but we're still in a transient stage in our lives and we will need them when we move again.

I wish I had a good reason for this mess - I don't. I just really like to use the floor as a shelf and a lot of things end up there :/

This is our entryway - despite how narrow it is, it is really hard to keep clear. There always seems to be a huge pile of stuff barricading the door.

After going through all this, I had a few bags of trash and a bag of stuff to give away. It feels great to declutter a little and get things in order (a constant battle). I also baby-proofed a few things as I went - Grant is nearly crawling and it won't be long before he's into everything.

To be honest today was pretty exhausting. I was up early to go to Walgreens and was by myself with the kids from sun-up to sun-down. I'm spent! But, the next 2 days I'm tackling the living room which should be easy. Not only is it pretty small, but we just re-arranged all the furniture and when we did, we cleaned under and behind everything. So, there isn't a lot of deep cleaning that needs to be done - yay! Despite the tiring day, I'm still feeling motivated to get this done and get our house CLEAN! I know come tomorrow, with a good night's sleep behind me, I'll be ready to go.

Are You Using Coupons Yet?

Here's my haul from Walgreens this morning. I'm super excited about the Aveeno sunscreen - it's the only brand we've found that Hunter isn't allergic to. And the Travel kit will be perfect for our upcoming trip to San Diego and Disneyland. The travel kit was an even better deal than I knew because there was a $2 off coupon inside! Score! This all cost me $14.40 out of pocket. The retail price of all this is $68.97! This is why I use coupons and why I shop at Walgreens.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Pinocchio's Gospel Symbolism

Do you know how many gospel parallels there are in Pinocchio? A Lot! We got Hunter Pinocchio for his birthday and he's watched it every day since then - he loves it! And after watching / hearing it all these times, I've noticed a lot of gospel symbolism. It's like a mini lesson on the Plan of Salvation (not that I'm recommending it be used for a Sunday School lesson).

First off, and the most obvious, is Jiminey Cricket who plays Pinocchio's conscience aka the Light of Christ. And what are Jiminey Cricket's initials? J.C.!

Then there's Pinocchio who comes to life with the potential to go from being a puppet to a real boy. Just like the potential that we all have to one day be perfected and exalted.

Pinocchio heads off to school, aka our earthly, mortal existence. Here he's tempted by Honest John, aka Satan, to stray from the path that he's supposed to take. He runs into all kinds of trouble as he makes bad choices.

Pinocchio and Jiminey Cricket even receive "revelation" from the "Holy Ghost" as a dove descends and give them a note telling them where they can find Geppetto. They couldn't have found his father any other way.

As Pinocchio saves his father from Monstro the whale, he does everything he can in order to make better all of the mistakes he's made. Because of this, he's able to be forgiven of his sins an able to become a real boy after all. He's brought back to life, resurrected, and is a real boy, exalted.

There are dozens of other little things scattered throughout the movie that have nuggets of gospel truth to them. Pretty cool huh?! Next time you watch it, keep and eye out for all of these fun parallels. I love finding gospel principles in every day experiences.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Simple Mom is hosting a spring cleaning party on her blog and I've decided to clean along with her.

I keep our house pretty clean most of the time. But, it is way too cluttered (especially the living room / office). And there is a lot of deep cleaning that needs to be done. When we moved here 3 years ago, it looked like the stove and fridge hadn't been moved in ages. And yet, I haven't moved and cleaned behind them either, so it really needs to be done.

Here's the schedule that she has on her blog:

Monday, May 4 - a clean sweep
Tuesday, May 5 - the living room, part one
Wednesday, May 6 - the living room, part two
Thursday, May 7 - the kitchen, part one
Friday, May 8 - the kitchen, part two
Monday, May 11 - the bathrooms
Tuesday, May 12 - the kids’ rooms, part one
Wednesday, May 13 - the kids’ rooms, part two
Thursday, May 14 - the master bedroom
Friday, May 15 - the front entry

Now, our house is pretty small, so I don't know that some of these things will require as much time as she's allotted. I'll just take it easy those days and rev up for the following day.

She has an e-book in which she details this whole cleaning process and strategies. But, it's $7 and even though I love to support entrepreneurial causes, $7 bucks ain't in the budget right now. I've read several cleaning / organizing / de-cluttering books lately, so I feel well equipped to tackle this. So, I'm just gonna make it up as a I go and just use this whole Spring Cleaning Blog Party and motivation to things done that I've been meaning to do for a long time. I'll post some before and after pictures as I go - they may be terribly embarrassing, but at least I'm doing something about it right?

We're headed to San Diego on Saturday, May 16th. So, hopefully this will all go smoothly and I'll be able to come home to a nice clean house. It will be crazy to pack for a trip and spring clean simultaneously, but I'm up for the challenge. I think it's all the sunshine we've had lately - I'm feeling energized.

I invite you to join in. Even if you don't have a ton of time to dedicate to deep cleaning, do a little each day. It will make a difference and you'll feel wonderful for it.