Thursday, July 30, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, as I was preparing a Young Women lesson on Scripture Study, I fell asleep while reading my scriptures (and got a big spot of green ink on my sheets from my scripture marking pen)

Sometimes I go so long in between vacuuming my carpet that my kids' hair picks up little pieces of debris when they're playing around on the floor.

I justify buying junk food (like Easy Mac) by the fact that I got it for free. As if that makes it any healthier.

A week ago, my son cut his own hair with his scissors. Unfortunately it really doesn't look all that different from when I cut it myself.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Best Shopping Excursion Ever!

It was another blissfully successful morning of deal shopping. Check it out:

At Rite Aid I got:

And a BIC Triumph Roller Pen (Fred was really excited about it and opened it up before I took a picture), for $15.68. Which isn't really that great of a deal. The real story here is in the rebates. I will be getting back $9.95 for the mascara, $4.00 for the Herbal Essence shampoo and conditioner, $2.00 for the BIC pen, $2.00 for the Neutrogena make up. So, after rebates, I ending up making a $2.27 profit! Regular price was $51.24. How sweet is that?! Big thanks to Hip2Save for compiling such a great Rite Aid shopping list.

At Walgreens, I got:

for $4.99. Which again, isn't a great deal, but I will get a $3.99 rebate for the head band. So, that brings my total down to $1.00. Regular price for this was $17.48.

We got Albertson's Double Coupons in the paper yesterday, so I made another run to Albetson's and was totally surprised by the Palmolive dish soap deal I stumbled upon. I was able to get 4 bottles for $.68 total! Here's everything that I got:

for $3.08! Regual price was $30.61.

Between the three stores, in total, I spent $1.81 on $99.33 worth of merchandise - that's 98% savings! I think this may be my best shopping excursion yet!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Albertson's - 87% savings!

Even without doubles this week's Albertson's sale is pretty HOT! Check out what I got today:

16 double rolls of toilet paper (32 regular rolls)

4 rolls paper towels

1 gal Nursery water

12 cups Mott's applesauce

3 boxes Wet Ones hand wipes (72 wipes)

5 packets Ranch Dressing Mix

10 disposable latex gloves

for $6.82! Original Price on all this: $55.72. Oooooh yeah. Love it!

There are a few more things that I will probably go back to get on Monday. I'm still hoping that there will be doubles in this Sunday's paper, even thought the rumors are that there won't be. I'll wait and see. If not, I'll still head in Monday because they have some pretty good deals going on that I'd like to get in on. Plus, I think I'd like more Ranch packets - we go through a lot of those and at $.70 a piece, you can't beat it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Family Reading Time

I have a ever growing and never shrinking list of books that I want to read. The list never shrinks because I have a really hard time fitting book reading into my days. I can only pack so many things into my day and book reading, unfortunately lands towards the bottom of the to-do list. Usually most of my reading occurs late at night (and early into the morning) the night before the book is due back to the library.

This is no good for many reasons. I am none too happy the next morning. I often don't get it finished and have to pay a late fee (it's only $.10 / day, but still, annoying). My kids don't see me reading, so I'm not setting a good example for them. And the books I read are much less enjoyable when I read them in this stress packed manner.

So, I've decided that we are going to family (really just me and the kids) reading time each day. We always read a couple books to our kids before nap and bed times. But, this will be a time where they can sit and "read" to themselves and I can read my books. I have a 3 year old and a 11 month old, so really not much reading is occurring for them, but it's more about the habit right now.

The 11 month old goes into the play pen with some board books and quite books. He really enjoys himself a lot actually. It's quite cute watching him turn the pages and look through the books. My 3 year old gets a book and sits with me on the couch. I settle in to read my book while my 3 year old runs back and forth to his room grabbing more books as he finishes one. Reading time will usually last anywhere from 20 - 30 minutes. I was quite surprised that both my kids' attention spans lasted this long, I expected 10 minutes to go by and both of them begging to do something else.

We've been doing this in the late morning, after my little one wakes up from his morning nap and before lunch time. It seems to work pretty well. We go the park in the mornings, so my 3 year old has most of his sillies worked out and is able to sit quietly for a while. And my little guy is always pretty chill when he wakes up, so he's happy sitting in the play pen and not necessarily wanting to roam around and get into mischief.

We've done this for several days now and it has been wonderful. I'm almost done with my current book and it's not even due for another week!

I know this is really nothing new - I'm sure a lot of you do this in your own homes. But, it is new to me and I love it. This works for our family. Find out what works for other families over at We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday Carnival.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Donation Time Again

Over the last month or so, I've collected the following items for FREE:

5 packages of Kotex
6 Toothbrushes
4 Foss
5 Deodorant
1 Contact solution
2 BBQ sauce
1 Shampoo / Conditioner

All were free through coupons or mail in rebates (or a combination of the 2, in which case they were money makers!). Retail on all this is close to $40! I don't really need any of these products, so I'm going to drop them off at the Food Bank here in Provo some time this week. I get warm fuzzies just thinking about it :o)

You can see the stash of stuff that I got for free and donated last time here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Review

Harry Potter love runs deep in my family - my sisters and cousins combined have read the books too many times to count (although they do keep track and are quite proud of it). The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as I am a big Harry Potter fan as well.

The movies will never be as good as the books and shouldn't be compared to one another. They are 2 different mediums and lend themselves to different types of storytelling. I've always tried to view the movies as a works completely separate from the books. This objectivity usually leads me to think very highly of the movies, despite their differences from the books. But, this movie left me a little disappointed.

It is clear that the movie's attention is focusing on 3 aspects of the book: the emerging adolescent affection of Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione; Draco's journey as a new Death Eater; and the relationship of Dumblebore and Harry Potter, and with it Dumbledore's legacy.

I think that the movie portrayed the complexities of adolescent relationships - love, crushes, friends, competition, heart break, anger etc very well. And I enjoyed that part of the movie. There was great character development and I feel that it set the stage very well for the 7th movie. But, I feel that the rest of it was very lacking.

Dumbledore and Harry's journey to learn all that they can about Voldemort and the Horcruxes should have been the main focus of the movie. The hours that they spent together unraveling the mystery of Voldemort, and thereby strengthening their relationship, makes the ending all that more tragic. Simply showing one of the memories and moving on with very little discussion of its significance is not adequate.

Judging by the plot elements from the book that were either omitted or left in the movie and the cinematography, it is clear that David Yates wanted the focus of the movie to be on Dumbledore. And yet there were many missed opportunities to do this. More of the plot should've focused on Dumbledore and Harry as they work together to determine what all of the Horcruxes are. Because there is very little discussion between Harry and Dumbledore, Harry is just an observer. He views the memories that Dumbledore has collected, is instructed by Dumbledore to get one more and that's it. Because Harry isn't involved in the discovery process, we as the audience aren't either. There is nothing to draw us in. We aren't there in the room with them as they figure out what makes Voldemort tick.

Because the movie focuses so little on Dumbledore and Harry's time together, the ending is not very climatic. There is no great loss because there was no great gain to begin with. You have to spend time developing a relationship if there is to be any emotional effect when that relationship is ended. Yes, the movie can only be so long and things have to be cut to achieve this. But, I feel that the movie missed a huge theme in the book and that left the movie feeling very hollow. Plus, there was that strange scene at the Burrow that was not in the book and seemed to come out of left field. Surely that scene could've been sacrificed to obtain more character development for Dumbledore and Harry.

Additionally, less time should've been spent on showcasing the CGI - yes, we know you can make amazing computer generated images, we get it. But, really at the end of the day, it is meaningless. I don't pay money to sit and watch synthetic images on a large screen. First and foremost, the movie must tell a story and I don't feel that this movie told the story very well.

I know that when books are adapted to movies, not all the material makes it to the silver screen. Story lines that don't serve the theme of the movie must be cut in order to produce a cohesive work. I am not looking for the movie to be a prefect re-creation of the book. But, in this case, the movie did not adequately communicate a theme that it was clearly trying to.

I do have to say, that this would be one of the harder HP books to turn in to a movie. There is a lot of exposition, which makes a compelling book, but would make a very boring movie. I don't know exactly how this should've been handled. But, I do know that what was portrayed in the movie was lacking real depth.

Bottom line - the movie was just o.k. It is always wonderful to visit the world of Harry Potter and I automatically like the movies for bringing me there. But, this movie left me disappointed. It failed to tell the story that I know it was trying to tell.

This post is very long, and really, I could go on for a while longer, but won't. If you made it to the end of this review, you must really want to hear what I have to say about Harry Potter. Either that, or you completely disagree with what I have to say and are seething at my audacity of criticising a Harry Potter movie. If it's the latter, I have a feeling, I'll be hearing about it.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Do You Spend Your Money On? Things or Experiences?

Money has been very tight in our house lately and we've taken a very close look at where our money is being spent. This has been such a valuable learning experience for our family. I cannot even begin to enumerate all of the lessons we have learned over the last few years.

Earlier this year, I set a goal to spend less money on things and more money on experiences. We fill our lives with too many things - clothes, movies, furniture, cars, jewelry, decorations, toys, electronics etc. And in reality those things do very little to make us happy, and we definitely can't take them with us into our next life. Sure they are fun, but they don't bring us any lasting joy. What does bring us lasting joy, and will forever be a part of us, is experiences and memories with our friends and family.

With this in mind, I'm trying to put my money into those things that really matter. Rather than buying Hunter a bunch of toys that he really doesn't need for his birthday, we put his birthday money from Grandparents and great-Grandparents toward a trip to Disneyland. And let me tell you, those 3 magical days at Disneyland are more valuable than a house full of toys.

This year, when my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I couldn't think of anything. I honestly hadn't thought about what I wanted at all. That has never happened to me. I did need a new diaper bag, and so she got me a new one (note to all you new mothers out there: do not buy a white diaper bag, even if it is absolutely adorable with it's pink and white polka dot interior and black accents - it will be filthy in one day flat!) What I did want for my birthday was the ability to do fun activities with my family, activities that we really can't afford right now. So, I'm spending my birthday money on arts and crafts supplies for Hunter, trips to water parks and museums for the whole family. The memories from these experiences are worth so much more to me than any thing I could buy.

And, speaking of my birthday, my favorite part of the day didn't require any money at all. Fred had my brother and sister-in-law babysit the kids while we took a walk up Provo Canyon. We walked and talked. We sat on rocks by the river listening to the peaceful flow of water and discussing grand ideas. He picked me a bouquet of wildflowers as we walked back out of the canyon. It was truly magical and it didn't cost a dime. Sometimes the most valuable experiences in life are the simplest ones.

Next time you go to plunk money down on something, ask yourself if it is just a thing, or if it is an experience. If it's just a thing, think about what experience or memory that money could buy instead. Decide which you want more. You may be surprised how many things you realize that would trade in for lifelong memories and experiences.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Smith's and Albertson's Shopping Trips

This week's sale at Smith's blows Albertson's sale out of the water! Even taking into account double coupons at Albertson's, I would shop at Smith's over Albertson's this week. Smith's sale is huge - there are so many participating items (a lot aren't even listed in the add) and the sale is on items that aren't complete junk, like a lot of the Albertson's sale items are.

I did make a couple trips to Albertson's today though. They have a great deal going on with Fiber One products. You won't hear a lot of buzz about the deal on any deal blogs, because most of them don't get excited unless cereal is less than $1.00 a box. But, usually the cereal that is that cheap is complete junk, and I don't buy it. So, when our family's favorite cereal was on sale, I just had to jump on it. Here's what I got at Albertson's today:

I paid $15.44, original price: $63 (Do keep in mind that Albertson's regular prices are very inflated). And I feel great about what I bought. Sometimes, I come away from a great deal knowing that I saved a ton but also feeling like I spent my money on second rate items. But, not today. I absolutely love fresh salsa, and it was free after doubled coupons. We love the cereal and granola bars. I use Dijon mustard and pineapple all the time. The only thing that I wasn't over the moon about was the Fiber One toaster pastries, but they were so cheap, that I decided that I could live with it (at least they have a good amount of fiber right?!)

And now for Smith's. I got:

For $19.30, Original Price: $42.16. I only spent around $7 for the 10 items in the promotion: cream cheese, gum, yogurt, salad dressing, water, cheese, and jelly. The package of blueberries is HUGE (but a great deal) and we will be eating blueberries on pretty much everything for the next few days. I had BOGO coupons for the Jones soda, and I am drinking it while blogging and it is heavenly! I will definitely be making a second trip to Smith's this week - there were so many things in the promotion that I didn't know about, I wasn't prepared for them. I'll have to go again sometime when I have more time and can browse and find the best deals.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fun with Shaving Cream and Food Coloring

Today, Hunter and I made these pictures, using shaving cream and food coloring:

Pretty cool huh?! We got this activity from the Family Fun Magazine (No, I don't work for them, I just really love their magazine). Hunter had such a great time making these and it was the perfect use for all of my free shaving cream. We'll definitely have to do it again - I just have to wait for Walgreens to give me more free shaving cream ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy 7-11 day!

We got out Free Slurpees! Did you?

Fun Things in This Month's Family Fun Magazine

I absolutely love my subscription to Family Fun Magazine. Some month's issues are better than others, and this month happens to be one of the better ones - there are so many activities and crafts that I am so excited to try out. They have a few of them available on-line - not all of them though and in fact some of my favorite ones from this month aren't. But, here's some good ones that are available on-line:

Ribbon Pillow (so cute - I'll have to wait on this one until a daughter comes along though)

The Fomerator (I can already hear Hunter sqealing with laughter)

Think Fast! Brain Boosters (my kids aren't old enought for these yet, but I will definitely use them some day)

There are a lot more great crafts, activities, organizational tips, traditions etc in this month's issue. It is only $10 for a year subscription - it's so worth it! There are so many great things to do with your kids and a lot of helpful hints that will make your life easier.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another free Amazon Gift Card

I just got another free $5 Amazon Gift Card through Swagbucks! I got my first one about a month and a half ago. At this rate, I'll probably have $30 in Amazon gift cards by Christmas time - for free! So sweet. Fred's using it now too, so hopefully he'll be able to get a nice stash as well. From the looks of things around the blogosphere, we earn them at a pretty slow rate, but that's o.k. - every little bit helps. If you wanna earn free gift cards for searching the web, like you do anyways, click on the banner below and you can sign up.

Search & Win

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Great Shopping Day

Today I actually had the car and I sure made the most out of it. I went to Albertson's twice, Kmart and Target. Phew, I'm beat! But just check out what I got at KMart:

Almost $70 worth of toys and games for $20.18! All of their clearance toys have an additional 50% discount off the clearance prices! The selection wasn't great, but I found a few things that I new the boys would like. The Pictureka card games were only $.99 after a $5 coupon from Some of the stuff is for now, other is for later (Christmas), and some we'll give away. Ahhhhh, how I love a good bargain.

At Albertson's I got:

for less than $2! (I can't find the receipts, grrr, so I can't give you the exact amount). The cookie dough was a last minute swap out - they were all out of Stain Stick - I guess I underestimated the hotness of that sale.

I love coming away from a day of shopping thinking about how much I saved instead of how much I spent.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My Child or My Twin?

This weekend we were at my Grandparents cabin in Southern Utah. My grandmother had found some old baby pictures of mine and passed them on to me. When we showed them to Hunter and asked who was in the picutre, he replied "Hunter" (he usually refers to himself in the 3rd person). Every picutre of me that we showed him he insisted that it was he in the picture and not me.

We did look a lot a like - the chubby, rosy cheeks and the long dark hair. When Hunter was a newborn, we looked at my baby picutres and Fred was sure that he wouldn't have been able to tell the two of us apart. So, this either means that I looked like a boy, or Hunter looks like a girl :o) Either way, and thankfully, Hunter is looking less like me (a girl) and more like a little boy.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hunger Games

This past weekend I was camping (well sort of, we were in a cabin) in the mountains above Cedar City. We had a wonderful time - I just love southern Utah! I brought along Hunger Games to read while there and on the road. I had been waiting months to read it - I requested it from our library a long time ago. But, our library is just so dang popular and the book is equally popular, which created a perfect storm and I had to wait quite a while before it was available.

It was SO worth the wait! I loved this book from start to finish. Suzanne Collins' writing style is no nonsense and to the point, so the book doesn't waste time and moves along nicely. It is a young adult novel, but has surprisingly mature themes and story lines. The setting is startlingly plausible. I constantly found myself in shock at what their society had become, and at the same time evaluating the similarities to our current society. While it was difficult to find a real connection with the characters (I'm not 14 and I don't live in a violent post-apocalyptic dictatorship), I still really enjoyed their journey. There were a couple moments that were predictable, but for the most part the story was very creative and other worldly.

I am very excited for the second one in the series, Catching Fire. It is released September 1, 2009. I requested it from our library - I am #67 in line (almost 2 months ahead of time)! They have 20 copies, so hopefully the wait will move quickly.