Saturday, July 31, 2010

How low can you go?

I am referring to my online order total. One of the reasons that I’m happy to be home from our summer vacations is that I can dabble in my love for shopping online. Another secret revealed. I love to find a good deal, and then I love to make it even sweeter. Here is an amazing frugal tip that I was surprised to learn is unknown by many savvy shoppers. There is a website called that allows you to often find additional discounts that can be applied to your order total in the form of a promo code, or coupon code. There are many other sites as well, but I always start with that site. Not every online store has discount codes, but it is worth looking into. I h-a-t-e paying for shipping, and these discounts will often save you that cost.

I am a stay at home mom, and I make no income, z-e-r-o, since I have made the choice to be home. I find that shopping wisely is my way of contributing to the family. I’ll share more of these tips in the future. When I do place an order, it is usually for merchandise that is about 50-75% off retail prices. Additionally, I often have a coupon that has a set dollar amount off when you spend a certain amount. For example, $25 off a $50 purchase. If not, I use a coupon code as described above. I rarely pay shipping. It is a rush for me to get things for such a great price.

Sometimes it doesn’t go so well, and I am robbed of the warm rush of retail therapy. Here is a specific instance that happened several months ago. The day started like any other day. I was checking email with my morning coffee at hand. I opened a “70% off” email from one of my favorite stores. I went to the site, very happy to see lovely things at such a great discount. I filled my cart with some pleasing choices. Unfortunately, I had no coupon to use, so I scoured the internet for additional discounts that could be applied. Hmmmm. No luck there. I tried a few expired coupon codes, okay many, and I kept striking out. This particular store always has a great coupon that accompanies great sales, but nothing could be found. I couldn’t pull the trigger on this order. The deal was not sweet enough. All of a sudden, a pop-up type box appears that reads, “Upon leaving please fill out this survey.” What????? I was just electronically escorted from the store. Hey, I’m taking this personal. How did I get this frugal? I’m blaming it on my parents.

Friday, July 30, 2010

There's no place like home.

I’m back again. Our family had a wonderful time in San Diego, CA. We were busy catching up with family and hitting Seaworld and the Zoo. We gave Seaworld a run for it’s money. We arrived at our destination of Seaworld after our six hour drive, at 1:45 pm. We left the park at 10:00 pm. We had one man down, sleeping on my shoulder, and two girls begging to check into our hotel. The zoo, however, kicked our butts! It was definitely the most gorgeous zoo I’ve ever seen, but it was also very confusing. The maps didn’t offer much help. There was a lot of severe uphill and downhill hiking going on. They had signs saying that wheelchairs and strollers were not permitted in some of these areas. Thanks for the warning. I saw my first koala bears, they were adorable. We also spent our last hour there tracking down the panda exhibit. I figured that we had to see the pandas. We finally made it. It was chomping on bamboo and sitting very peacefully. I discovered that we were actually lucky to have seen the panda. Apparently, they sleep a lot in private dens. The mere thought of finally finding the exhibit and then being unable to view the furry creature would have sent me over the edge. I’m glad we got to see the panda, to say the least. We were pooped when we returned to our hotel. Unfortunately, that afternoon was the one that my boy decided that he wouldn’t partake in his customary nap. My family witnessed a tantrum, mine.

I’m glad to be back in my somewhat stinky home. The stench of a wet load of forgotten laundry in the washer greeted our arrival. I also forgot to toss the once very ripe bananas. Did you know that bananas ooze bubbles after they pass the “banana bread” ripeness factor? Now you know. I’m also very happy to have my clutter dispersed over a 2900 square foot area, as opposed to our little hotel room and suv. It is much less disturbing in its diluted state.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's Christmas in July.

I had a nice day today. I had the annual appointment that we ladies look forward to so much. This time, however, my office offered a complimentary facial immediately following. I was game for that generous offer. It was wonderful, the facial that is. I felt so pampered. I’m not one to have a whole lot done for me. I do my own nails, my pool, my yard, my house cleaning. I’ve even cut my hair for about 13 years. I now actually have someone cut it for me. Don’t get me wrong, my husband helps with the yard and pool, but I’m seriously putting in effort in these areas as well. And when I say I do my house cleaning, I mean I’m not paying anyone else to do it. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we.

Anyway, I was so glad that I had shopped for school supplies before the blessed facial because I truly felt “too good” for back to school supply shopping. I can see how taking care of ourselves can really make us better, I mean nicer, moms. It takes the edge off. You know what else takes the edge off? A breeze accompanied by a 20 degree drop in temperature in an hour or so, in the desert, in July. My husband was able to wax the car, the girls made up a dance routine, and our boy played hockey in the driveway. We also were able to swim in a pool that was 5 degrees warmer than the air. That is always a delightful experience.

I must say today was a memorable gift, filled with pampering, retail therapy, a gorgeous sunset and I currently have possession of the TV remote control for the first time in about two weeks. Somebody pinch me. I’m not sure it gets any better than this.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It was worth it!

Sometimes we have to experience the truly awful to understand and appreciate the wonderful things. About two weeks ago, while glancing out the kitchen widow, I saw it. It was the baby bunny, maybe the one that we rescued from the jaws of a thieving snake a few weeks earlier. (That story is blogged in June 2010, under You’ve got to be kidding me.) The bunny was about the size of a large kiwi fruit and it was frolicking about. The kids and I, all got to go out and watch it up close. My boy was giggling, the girls were “awwwing.” If we hadn’t gone through that heinous experience, I wouldn’t have been looking for it and we would have missed the magic.

The morning after we arrived home from the airport, I was able to see the darling little guy again, hopping around our little grassy area. The wonderful sight was welcome considering we had just dealt with two more unsuccessful bunny events. Actually, our amazing, pool-watching neighbors handled one bunny loss (thank you) and we cleaned up the other. I can’t even go into the details of our clean up effort. UGH!!! It was the worst situation imaginable. It is just another reminder to keep your eyes open and be observant so you don’t miss the magic. It is there. And it will recharge you so that you can make it through the next “bunny loss.”

Monday, July 19, 2010

We're back!

I’m sporting 43 flaming red mosquito bites as a result of my encounter with Wisconsin. I’m highly allergic to insect, spider, and ant bites. It is just another interesting fact about me. On our way to the small airport from which we flew home, we stopped at an amusement park that I used to enjoy as a child. I don’t quite remember the ferris wheel being so scary. As I was waiting for our girls to slide down the huge slide attraction, the biggest mosquito I had ever seen landed on our little boy’s head. The mosquito was so big, it had it’s own zip code. I scared it away with my overreaction. Then, I was bit by one of these gargantuan creatures, possibly the same offender. Let me tell you, I was done. I wanted to go home now. I regained my composure in order to attempt one final ride. We chose a train ride. Things were going great, that is until the downpour happened. Yep, there we were, ready to depart for home, sitting on a train in a downpour. It happens, what are you going to do?

The short story is that Wisconsin won, and was successful in its mission of sending us back where we came from. I can take a hint! We had a great time seeing everyone on our 10 day adventure, despite my mosquito issues. We are very happy to be home. The desert welcomed our midnight arrival with 105 degree open arms. We also brought with us a few raindrops as our plane was waiting to unload at the gate, but they quickly subsided. Apparently Wisconsin has its limits. So, na-na-nah-boo-boo Wisconsin, you can’t get me here in Arizona.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Life's a beach.

I’m on vacation. You didn’t think I was going to post daily, did you? I woke up early today, enjoying my coffee, music and the view of bushy black squirrels, chipmunks and some unfamiliar birds, all congregating on the wood’s edge, competing for the birdfeeder’s bounty. I am reading my sister’s book, Quiet Mind, One Minute Retreats from a Busy World, by David Kundtz.

In the first chapter, we are encouraged to pick our life’s metaphor. Apparently, rat race was taken, and it was the wrong answer anyway. This is what I picked. Life is a stroll on a beach. It is all a matter of where, on the beach, you are walking. Let me explain. Living in balance is like walking at the water’s edge, where the sand is packed and cool, it is both effortless and pleasure full. Where are you walking? Are you shuffling deep in the loose hot sand, stepping on sharp shells, maybe stumbling at times? Are you trudging ankle-deep in the water? It takes extra effort to get to the same destination. Algae and debris can get caught under your step. Occasionally you may be stung by a jellyfish. Maybe you are worried about some looming unseen danger hidden in the water.

I imagine that life can be the vacation beach stroll, where we are free to be human beings and not human doings. I recently read that eloquent human “doing” idea somewhere, unfortunately, I can’t remember whose lovely aunt said it. It is my choice where and how I walk. I’m aiming for the cool, damp sand where the water rhythmically refreshes me along my chosen path. Why don’t you join me?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I’ve got a new helper.

I’ve raised my kids to be pretty self-sufficient around the kitchen, well sort of. It usually works out well. The girls have been making their own breakfasts for years. Our kid friendly dishes are stored in a low cabinet for them to access with ease. Like many families, we work our dishwasher hard. At least once a day, we run it. I’ve gotten to the point that I loathe loading and unloading it. It is just too much sometimes. I want to hide in the corner and rock. Or, I can have my kids unload it, and then I can carry about my day like a normal person. That its until my third child has begun helping. I didn’t mind thinking of him unloading his cups and bowls. How cute, I thought. He is going to grow up to be a real catch.

Well, I just witnessed him helping. And I feel like I could use an adult beverage. It is 5:00 somewhere, right? He was super motivated and loving his new role as a kitchen crew member. He was pulling my china dinner plates out of the dishwasher rack and heading toward the granite counter top with them in tow. The girls didn’t seem very surprised at this sight. Well, I’ve now explained the rules on “to what degree” a toddler can help and I think I may have to stick around just to make sure my guidelines are followed. Maybe I should just unload it myself. I don’t like where this is going.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Waste not, want not.

We are coming down to the wire. The departure date is right around the corner. You know what that means. It means that we are having some strange meals. Lunch is served. You will be enjoying a leftover tropical chicken and rice hot dish. It is accompanied with a cooked egg and watermelon. For dessert, a piece of banana bread. Can I bring you some more watermelon or another egg?

Today I decided to make an appointment for my boy. He has been congested for a month. Mother of the Year, I know, I know. Seriously, he’s been happy, eating, sleeping, playing hockey, scaling tall buildings, etc. I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a sinus or ear infection. No one needs a male toddler, sporting an ear infection, sitting next to you on a plane. His ears have always checked out fine on these appointments. This was not the case today. He has an ear infection in his right ear. She said it was probably slowly building up and he would have become miserable soon.

We live in an amazing country where we can call and get a same day appointment, drop off and pick up a prescription, and shop for anything we may need in a matter of a couple hours. Granted, they were a couple of hours I didn’t have to spare, but non-the-less, still a fantastic place to call home. The problem is that I couldn’t refuse the $.88 strawberries. So now I have two more quarts of produce that I have to get in the bellies of my crew. I can only imagine that our last remaining meals will become a little more creative, shall we say. One thing for sure, we will be exceeding the RDA in vitamin C.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm still learning.

Unfortunately, I'm still learning how to use the blog website. I thought I had it figured out. That was not the case. I published a draft this morning, that was originally written on July 4th. I thought that the day I published it, today, would be the day it would show up for you all. This was not the case. Point noted. I'm not going to do that again, infamous words for me.

If you would like to read today's post, please find it under the July 4th entry, called Amazing frugal tip!!! Enjoy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Back up.

I’ve often wondered why we waited so long to have our third child. There is quite a gap there. I figured it was because we got a puppy when my second child was 2 ½. The puppy likely served as our third. Occasionally we would have discussions of more kids, but I was always able to convince my husband that the cons outweighed the pros.

Rewind back to January 2008. Unfortunately, my husband’s grandma had been ill and made her passing. My husband made the trek back to Indiana on his own. He spent the few days with a huge extended family. Parents, aunts, uncles, cousins galore, in fact I believe the count was 22 grandchildren and 44 great grandchildren! He made his way back to us, only to jump in the car and drive to Disneyland the next day. We had a family vacation planned before Grandma’s passing.

As we were packing the car up that same night. He said very matter-of-factly, “I think I made my decision.” I stopped loading. Hair stood up on my neck. I have the uncanny ability to know what my husband is going to say by the tone of his voice, after the first two words have been spoken. I have to fight an intense urge not to finish all of his sentences. Trust me on that.

Our girls were then 7 and 5. I felt like I was home free. No diapers, soon to be no car seats. I had kids that listened. My world was rocking, big time. I sat in silence for part of the trip. I felt as an attorney may feel, planning the closing arguments. Let's just say, the con list overfloweth. I subscribe to a monthly publication called Daily Word. It has uplifting words for living. I opened the booklet to January 19th, and read. “I am healthy and wise, at peace, and open to my good. Let go, let God.” It continued and spoke directly to my soul. I was 35, and I had previously considered myself to be past that season. Short story is that I was willing to let go and let God, for one month, after my first mammogram.

I’d like to bring us back to last night, July 4th! We were at a restaurant with the kids prior to watching the fireworks. My boy was running around on the dance floor of the cowboy-themed restaurant, complete with peanut shells discarded on the floor. The girls had already eaten their meals, he had already refused his. It was our turn to enjoy our entrees. It came to me. The reason we waited so long, was that we needed back up. The girls are 10 and 7 and are always on call as back up for our little fire ball. God bless them.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Amazing frugal tip!!!

I’m sure most of you use both sides of your swiffer sheets. If you don’t, you should start. They work just as well on the “wrong” side. Here comes the amazing tip. After both sides are really dirty, for me that means it looks like we just got a new puppy, use the swiffer sheet on your garage floor. I can’t believe I never thought of it before. I’m so excited. Next dirty swiffer sheet is going to take a spin on my covered patio.

I guess this is so exciting because I would never use a new swiffer sheet on the garage floor or patio. I mean they are “outside” and are supposed to be dirty. I told this idea to my husband and oldest daughter. They seem to be missing something. They keep waiting for a punchline or something. Try this tip, I promise, you will like it.

Time out.

So, this is seriously funny. Don’t hate me. Let me have this moment of glory. I know it won’t last.

My little guy is just dipping his feet into the time-out phase of his life. Time-outs are our first line of defense regarding discipline. Okay, they are the third. First we ignore, then we think “Hey, this kid is getting out of hand,” then we remember the blessed time-out.

As you know, if you’ve been reading here, our little guy is a climber. He looks proudly at us from each challenge he conquers. He acts like he has no clue that we mean business. We’ve gently introduced him to his time-out spot. No counting 1,2, 3 for him. When we come to an impasse (he climbs something and won’t get down after we ask 5 times or so), we say, “Okay I think you need a time-out.” He eagerly climbs down and sits in his designated time-out spot. We set the timer for a minute. He quietly looks up at us with the sweetest little face and waits. The timer goes off. We tell him to get up. He comes to us with kisses and hugs. Here is the best part, he forgets what he was doing to get into the time-out in the first place.

My girls think he is the most adorable thing ever as he serves his time. We are all careful not to let him know our feelings, until after the timer rings. We all wait patiently for our kisses. I think it is our favorite time of the day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Time flies.

Recently, my 10 year old was going through her big box of artwork and memorabilia that is stored under her bed. She was tearful about how cute she used to be and how old she was now. I asked her to imagine how old I felt, having a 10 year old. I told her about how I can remember back when I was in kindergarten. She seemed impressed. I guess it is similar to when my mom said to me, “Talk to me when your baby turns 40!.” Of course, she wasn’t referring to me. It is official, when looking back, no matter your age, time really does fly.

Having a little boy is quite different than how I remember things being when the girls were little. He wakes up, yelling and pointing with amazement “Ball! Vroom, vroom! Hockey!” He goes to bed, yelling “Moon! Dog! Ball!” Did I mention the climbing? We were watching a very girlie movie tonight. A field of flowers, where fairies live, is about to be destroyed by a bunch of big tractors and trucks. My boy’s eyes opened wide at the sight of the construction vehicles. “Wow,” he said in awe. The movie just became worth watching! Let’s just say that he has a passion for life. He is on the go and he loves life! We need to remember our passions that really light our fire, and not let the daily grind snuff out all sparks. You know, the endless laundry loads, the dishwasher full of clean dishes while the sink is full of dirty dishes, the dust bunny reunion in the back hall, please tell me I don’t need to continue.

Looking back 10, 20, 50 years down the road, hopefully we will look back and have so many unique experiences and memories. I hope that dishes and laundry do not make the cut into the Top 100 Exciting Moments of My Life. This blog is sure to remind me that there is life outside of chores and duties. I am blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those around me. I better get cracking, time is ticking.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Muscle memory.

Last night was like any other night. I read bedtime stories to my little boy. He mooched a few more out of me. Then, I finally put my foot down. “Good night Boo Boo, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite you,” I say quietly. I put him in his crib, gave him his “two dogs” that he requests, and then turned on his music. I slipped out the door and breathed a sigh of relief. I get some me time at the computer. Goodie, goodie. A few minutes later, my boy comes running out of his room with a wild look on his face. It happened. He just climbed out of his crib for the first time in his life.

Stunned, I tell my husband the news. “Good job, buddy! He’s a boy,” he proudly informs me. That was not my first response. He is 20 months old. I have no place to put him anymore where I know he will be safe. I’m in shock. I’m not sure how I’m going to deal with this. After the shock wears off, I attempt to put him back to bed. He willingly goes with me and cuddles up to his fuzzy blanket and dogs, as usual. As soon as I leave the room, he stands up and effortlessly scales the crib, dismounting with ease. He appears in front of me with the same wild expression.

In yoga class, the teacher explained to me that we are building muscle memory when we stay in difficult poses for long periods of time. Next time, the same pose will take a little less effort. Apparently, in male toddlers, the rate at which muscle remembers is accelerated. My boy is a prodigy, hence his father’s pride.

It took about 4 attempts of putting him back to bed, and a firm order to lay down, for it to finally stick. I’m not willing to give up on the 4-sided enclosure yet. Morning, thank you God, went fine. He was awake at 6:00 am and contentedly babbling until 7:00. Phew! I was worried.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How early is too early?

This is a question that I occasionally ponder. I’ve been known, once or twice in slow years, to decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Shhhh. Shh. Quiet down, people! I haven’t had this conundrum for some time, due to the addition of our third child. It is such a double standard that the stores flaunt their trees before we say “Trick or Treat....Thank You...Happy Halloween.” Seriously, if you’re not having anyone over for Thanksgiving, it’s a victimless crime. And if you are, just don’t turn on the Christmas lights.

I present this question in light of packing for vacation. The intensity of my love for “early” packing is matched only by that of my hatred for unpacking. With the pull-back in the economy and the introduction of fees for checked bags, my propensity for early packing has been intensified. I believe that with all the laundry that I have to process for a family of 5, coupled with the fact that we have soooooooo many clothes, a week early probably wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. If only I could wait that long.

Each and every item has been scrutinized, washed, folded, and in some cases ironed. My 7 year old recently asked, “What is that called?” “Honey, that is an ironing board,” I whispered. I’m not expecting a nomination for Mother of the Year for that one. This year on our 10 day family trip, we are not checking bags. Our toddler flies free as a lap child (pray for me), so we all have to absorb his belongings. I love a good challenge. I don’t watch Survivor on TV, but I imagine this is what it is like. It is all about strategy. My 10 year old is buckling down to finish the fourth Harry Potter book. She knows she can’t bring two Harry Potter books.

Anyone who has ever moved knows that when it comes down to the wire, moving day, and you think you have only about an hour of work left, in reality it is about 6-12 hours of stress-filled chaos. I guess I’m compensating for that last hellish hour. I’m not crazy. It is a form of self-love.