Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Who Wants A Gift Card to Target?

Who wants a gift card to Target?  How about $20.00 worth? MEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!  :)  I'm sure you are screaming "Me" now?  Maybe?  Right now the Frugal Life of Aimee is having a giveaway.  She has a new blog and you should go give her some lovin'.  Check out her blog here: http://thefrugallifeofaimee.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-abouta-giveaway-of-my-own-yeah-yeah.html

22 Britannia Road (Giveaway)

Right now there is a giveaway going on for a book that sounds so great.  If you don't know, my favorite genre is Historical Fiction.  I get so caught up in the setting and details, as well as the whole plot.  I get so wrapped up in a great book.  Right now Girl From the Ghetto has a giveaway for the book 22 Britannia Road.  It is a book set in the World War II (my favorite time period to read from)- well the book is from the end of the World WarII. 

Check her giveaway out at http://thegirlfromtheghetto.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/b22-britannia-road/
Don't forget to check out the author's page at http://amandahodgkinson.com/

Happy entering.  :)

In Honor of the Royal Wedding (Giveaway)

Right now, Girls Without a Bookshelf is hosting an awesome giveaway in honor of the Royal Wedding.  5 books go to each winner (2 winners).  These books are just SCREAMING my name.  Check the giveaway out right now!  Don't wait.  http://withoutabookshelf.blogspot.com/2011/04/giveaway-royal-wedding-treat.html

Monday, April 25, 2011

Down on Myself

Today I am feeling extremely down on myself.  I feel so.... so.... single.  Am I the only single mommy at church?  I go and hear talks about how you're supposed to do this and that and yadda yadda about your husband and a successful and lasting marriage and I just sit there thinking... uhhhhh what about us folks who aren't married???  I am getting a bit tired of it really.  And I am not desperate by any means, but throw me a bone here God.  lol

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Too Shall Pass.... Let's Hope

Last night I was cleaning my room after cooking dinner.  My daughter asked if her and her brother could have a cookie.  I told them no.  I told them maybe tomorrow night.  They agreed and seemed fine with it.  I went to cleaning my room and going through clothes.  I was feeling so great and accomplished going through my kids' clothes and had a big bag ready to donate.  It felt amazing because I hardly seem to have time to do this and it is desperately needed.  After about half an hour or so, for some reason it became oddly quiet in the house.  I went in the living room to find a little boy with chocloate all over his face with a deer in the head lights look on his face.  He put his hand behind his back very quickly.  My daughter had her back toward me and had a blanket covering her face.  Hmmmmm I wonder what they could be up to!  Needless to say, I got really upset.  I had specifically told them not to get into the cookies.  There was such a mess in the living room from the cookies as well. 

I can't lie and say that I pleasantly told them how disappointed in them I was. 

I yelled at them!!!! 

Yes, I did.  YELLED.  I told them how *pissed* off I was at them doing this kind of stuff.  I went on and on and on.  I told them to wash their faces and get to their rooms.  I was so mad at how they have been misbehaving lately and doing things when I am not looking.  Do I honestly have to watch them like a hawk at all times in order for them to not do things that they shouldn't be?  Yes, I know that kids will be kids and that is part of parenting and kids.  Does it have to happen so frequently though?  With my kids, as of late, they have really been acting up lately.

Both kids were crying and went to their rooms.  (They had been watching Lilo and Stitch that we checked out from the library, and it was only half way through, and Mommy turned it right off.)  I really lost my temper.  My son threw a huge tantrum and got into it with me.  I put him in his room and a little while later I went to check on him. He told me to go away and that he was sad.  I asked why he was sad and he said, "Cuz you yelled at me!!!" 

It seriously saddened me so much.  I have felt so much pressure and weight on me lately, and I have really lost it a couple times lately.  Being a single mom in general isn't always easy. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For....

Last night I was really wanting some ice cream.  It sounded so good.  I was ready to take my kids to Coldstone Creamery.  There is something about that place that just makes me smile.  I was in the car ready to venture there.  Then I thought about it- with gas prices I didn't want to make a trip all the way over there.  The nearest one is about 7 miles one way according to Mapquest.  (For some reason I always thought it was a little further than that.  I guess I could be wrong.)  So 14 miles roundtrip.  I didn't want to drive and was feeling rather lazy.  I decided to hit up Albertsons and see what we could find. 

We searched high and low.  All the different brands, flavors, visual character pictures (so conveniently at a child's eye level), and all the numerous, sweet looking ice cream.  Mmmmmmmmm  :)  Well, we decided on this:

Let me just say how freaking great it was!  It was $3.00 and was plenty to feed all three of us with plenty of leftovers.  Had I gone to Coldstone, it would have been much more. We all agreed that this ice cream is a new favorite for our home.  Chocolate, peanut butter and peanut butter cups all combined = YUMMMMMY!

In the future, I am just going to stick with this stuff the next time I have a yearning to go to Coldstone.   I would have bought two ice creams at Coldstone plus gas and tax.  I definitely saved money going this route.  Even if I hadn't saved any money, I honestly have to admit that this ice cream tasted better to me than what I would have gotten at Coldstone.  Well worth purchasing this stuff if you are having an ice cream craving.  With summer around the corner, who isn't going to be craving ice cream?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Keeping Them Happy

The sound of my children laughing in the distance always makes me smile.  " 'Mere Pepper", I hear my son call to one of our dogs.  They are outside enjoying the dogs on the nice, sunny weather.  When my kids asked if they could go out in the back to play with the dogs I said sure.  Never did I imagine how excited they would be.  After their reactions, I realized why they were so excited.  They hardly ever get to play with them.  On top of me going to work and rushing us out the doors in the morning (after my daughter feeds and waters the dogs), we come home in the evenings to make dinner, clean up, shower, and then off to bed.  Of course we get an hour in between, but not very much.

Going outside to play with the dogs is a huge, fulfilling enjoyment to them.  They love them and the opportunity to be outside.  I'll be honest and say that up until recently I was debating whether to give the dogs away.  It was that whole "New Toy Concept".   You know how kids love playing with a new toy and then they just neglect and not play with it.  Well, I was feeling like it was the same with the dogs. 

However, upon further logic, I realized that it is my fault.  On the weekends and other times, I have so much planned for us to do.  I haven't been letting the kids really enjoy the weekends being at home.  We seem to always be running from one place to another.  As you know being a single mommy, I have to do all the errands and everything in between.  I can't just let the kids stay home as they please.  I have to bring them with me, resulting in less time for them enjoying themselves at home. 

Last night I thought we would watch a movie together after dinner.  My son asked if he could go play with the dogs instead.  At first I felt a little rejected to a point, but I said he could.  His sister immediately wanted to go play as well.  But I realized something.  They are MUCH happier playing outside and with each other than being cooped up in the house.  And what better fun can they have than playing with the dogs? 

This is my son wreaking havoc in the back yard when we first moved in (over 2 years ago).

As I sat on the couch hearing their laughter being louder than the tv, it made me smile.  I thought back to before we moved into this house.  We were cooped up in an apartment quite often.  My daughter was bored and would get into trouble.  Being in an upstairs condo, there were sound restraints and my children couldn't be children.  I remember security coming and almost writing us up for the noise due to a neighbor calling on noise control.  I was always getting after my daughter for running or playing too loudly.  The neighbor would get upset over any little noise, even though she also had a child around the same age as my daughter and you would have thought she could understand.  Getting after a child for being a child and being noisey is so sad. 

Hearing my children's laughter interrupt my thoughts to our past place of residency, I smiled.  I am so thankful that I was able to purchase a house and that my kids can be kids.  They can enjoy themselves and the simple things.  They have more room to run and play.  We have more space to be a family and much love.  It is so fun hearing two little kids playing with their dogs. 
My kids' best pals, Pepper and Zoey.

There was SOMETHING Lurking in the Garage

There was something lurking in my garage.  It had been there for quite some time.  I just was too lazy to do anything about it.  That is.... until this past weekend.  I rid the garage of it.  What is it?  It was CLUTTER.

I cleaned out my garage and it felt amazing.  I have a huge load to take to a thrift store.  There is something so freeing when tackling something large like that.  It sure was a great workout too.  I was out there for about 3 hours.  It was so overdue. 

Next is onto the kids' rooms this week.  That should be entertaining  interesting.  There are always arguments with how everything in their rooms they NEED! 

How do you handle clutter and kids?  Do you take it upon yourself to designate what you are ridding from their possession?  Do they pick what to give away?  Do they have a hard time letting go of anything? 

My daughter wants every little piece of paper from school.  She doesn't want to get rid of anything.  My technique with her is that she can keep whatever she wants AS LONG AS she cleans it up and puts it away.  If I go into her room  and everything is all everywhere, I warn her that I will be going through her room.  She absolutely hates me going through it (and she is only 6, go figure  ;) ).  She knows that I will give away a great deal of items if they are not in their place.  I warn her twice and then Mommy goes in with bags ablazing. 

More often than not, she immediately goes in her room and starts trying to put everything away.  If/when I do have to go in and do stuff, I make her stay in there to see what it is we are giving away.  She is the type of person that notices when anything is gone.  I would think she wouldn't notice a certain piece of paper but she does.  I couldn't just go in her room by myself when she is doing something else and start smuggling stuff out in hopes of not getting caught.  I know her too well to know she would freak out. 

My son changes from time to time.  Sometimes he gets attached to certain items.  Other times he could care less.  But I know there are certain items that he would be completely deflated without. 

Have you gotten your Spring cleaning on?  If not, what are your plans for Spring cleaning?  Do you even take part in Spring cleaning?

Flashback Monday meets Current Day

I guess I just don't understand the times we live in these days.  Is it normal for a parent to be so concerned about their children all the time?  I can't let my kids stay out the front yard without being scared that something might happen.  My sister asked me the other day when I would let my kids stay home by themselves.  She mentioned how when we were that age we stayed home and were just fine. 

I remember staying home by ourselves, cooking, cleaning and being just fine.  The house was never burned down and we are alive to show that we are fine.

When I was young, I remember babysitting when I was like 8 and earning money (though a lot of times I would for the neighbor for free). 

I remember having to work hard, do chores, earn allowance. We were taught early on how to manage our money.

Our parents didn't just buy us whatever.  We had to dilligently work toward it. 

When I was young, it was safe to play by yourself and with other kids in the neighborhood.  It was part of childhood and fun.  I will never forget to this day it being in the middle of summer and I had a friend over.  We decided that we really wanted some candy.  We realized that there was nothing tasty in the cupboards.  Me, being the ever so brilliant one (or the daring one, whichever one you decide to put in there), decided we should go Trick-R-Treating at our neighbors'.  We walked door to door and went Trick-R-Treating.  Did we know everyone?  Heck no!  We walked to about 6 houses. We actually got some candy from people and ate in the glory of having scored it all for free even though we didn't have to wear a costume to get it.    Would my parents probably have killed me had they known I was doing this?  OF COURSE.  But the good thing is they never found out  ;)

I remember walking home from school alone and there was never any worry about being kidnapped or something horrid happening to me.

I remember walking down the hill to the store just to go and have something to do.

When I was young, we did our own laundry.  If it wasn't done, then we had nothing to wear.  We didn't rely on our parents to do our laundry like I do for my kids. 

I remember riding my bike all over the place and venturing out in search of entertainment. 

I remember being outside all day long (other than going to the bathroom quickly)!!!  We drank water from the hose.  We would jump on the trampoline, play kickball in a vacant lot, wet the trampoline in the summer to soothe ourselves from the sun's devilish heat, play tag, Hide-N-Go seek, go walking, playing 4 Square, Tetherball,  walk to the school to go play on the playground while school was out, go swimming at a neighbors, and just enjoy childhood.

So I thought back to all these memories and responded to my sister, "You know my kids.  Times are completely different these days.  They would burn the house down after an hour."

She laughed and asked when I was going to teach them to do things.  It hit me that I really do need to teach them to do more things.  I think my daughter should be able to learn how to do dishes and laundry.  I was able to do it at her age.  I know that she has the capability of doing it.  It is just a method of me taking the time to teach her and sticking with it. 

Bug and Jack Jack in the kitchen.  Uh Oh. 

Last night I told the kids that I was going to jump in the shower really quick and to not touch anything.  I had been baking cookies and turned the oven off and were letting them sit in there.  I went to shower and in about 5 minutes or so, my daughter came in to tell me how the oven was on and she thinks the cookies are ready.  Upon questioning and interrogation, she admitted that she turned it on.  The reasoning: "I DON'T KNOW".  It immediately brought me back to the conversation my sister and I had about a week ago. 

They WOULD burn the house down within an hour!

Oh the joys of being a mom.  Never a dull moment in Sassy's house.  That I can assure you.  I can never guess what is going to happen next.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rephrasing My Words

I'm THAT Mom. 

You know.... the ONE. 

You know, the one who says, "No".  Driving home my daughter begs and pleads," Mom can we go to McDonalds for dinner?  PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE?"  Knowing full well that we have plenty of food to make at home, I indicated that we wouldn't be eating at McDonalds for dinner.  "Why not!?!?" she proceeds to ask. 

Up until about the past few months my response to her question would be, "Because we can't afford it."  As a result she would drop the subject.  We would go home, make dinner, eat and go on with our evening.  I, immediately thinking she was perfectly satisfied and happy with eating the dinner we just made, think nothing of the earlier conversation. 

A couple weeks later we are running errands and paying bills.  Juggling from this bank and that place to pay this bill and that one.  Grocery shopping at Sams Club to get these deals and going to another store for this other deal.  After we are finished running all our errands, I am ready to go home.  My daughter asks if we are finished, and I told her we were done.  As we are driving home, she sees McDonalds and asks if we can eat there. 

I am going to be honest and say that I really don't care for  McDonalds very much.  Personally, after eating there, I end up much hungrier.  Even eating off the dollar menu, it tends to get pricey.  The portions seem to be shrinking.  And it isn't just me.  If I feed my kids a double cheeseburger from there, they are ALWAYS hungry within a short period of time. 

I tell my daughter that we can't afford McDonalds, thinking this an easy answer to get out of having to go there.  She immediately quetions me with why we can't afford it.  She informs me that she knows I have money in my purse and since we are finished paying the bills and doing grocery shopping, we have some money so we CAN afford it.  I was dumbfounded. 

Yes, daughter there is money in my purse left over, but not much.  With that money I have to buy gas during the week and anything else that comes up.  There were a number of things I wanted to say in response.  I completely understood her asking.  She had been wanting McDonalds for a little while now.  I could easily take her and my son there.  Come on, what kind of mother am I?  In response to myself, I reply, "The frugal, loving one."

So I told her what I needed to say, "Bug, I am sorry.  I can afford to take you guys to McDonalds, but it is less expensive to cook at home.  It is also healthier."  I went on and on and somehow we got on the topic of Olive Garden and how overly expensive it is to dine at Olive Garden.  In comparison I can make us Chicken Alfredo for MUCH cheaper and we like it better than the restaurant's version.  I expected her to argue or say something shocking, but she didn't.  She looked like she was thinking really hard. 

"How much does it cost at Olive Garden for the three of us to eat?"

I explained that just for me it was about $15 plus the two kids meals being about $5-$6 each.  I also explained the concept of tax and tips.  I informed her it would be over $30.  She looked like she was in total shock.  

I explained how much it costs for us to make it at home and how much I make at a time, so we can have leftovers for one more night of dinner, plus me bringing that to lunch for a couple or so days.  "And" I explained, "It is much cheaper than Olive Garden still plus we like mine better."  She had a big grin on her face. 

In the midst of talking about McDonalds, Olive Garden and money, I learned a lesson.  I learned to watch my words and focus on the meaning of what I say.  "We can't afford it" or "I don't have money"simply isn't acceptable.  We can afford it, I just choose to not spend it on that.  I now say, " I don't want to spend my money on that."  In effect, my daughter completely accepts and understands that. 

Yes, I do treat them every once in a while but I try to explain to them the cost so they understand.  The other night my son was asking to go to Olive Garden since he had seen a commercial on the tv.  My daughter instantly intercepted and informed him how we can make it at home for much cheaper and get lots more food.  Wow, she actually listens.  :)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Little Pink Tools Giveaway

As a single mommy and not having a man around the house to help do things, I must admit that I have to rely on the good works of other men or people I know.  I will admit that sometimes it is extremely difficult not being able to do things on your own because you don't have the tools to do so.  I just stumbled upon an amazing giveaway!!  Have you heard of Little Pink Tools?  Check them out here http://www.littlepinktools.com/Default.aspx  Aren't they the greatest ever???  Right now there is a giveaway for them at Born 2 Impress http://kidzborn2impress.blogspot.com/2011/04/born-2-impress-pampered-mom-event_08.html

I would LOVE to win these.  It would to actually have the means to do some items on my own.  :)  Check out the giveaway and enter.  :)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Money Mistakes Part 1

In reading the book The Tightwad Gazette, she mentions money mistakes her and her husband had made in the past. It got me to thinking about my money mistakes I have made.  Well, let's see what I would consider money mistakes that I have learned from:
                Money Mistake #1
  • Apartment Dumb Moment- I was living in an apartment, and my lease was fulfilled.  I could have looked around prior to my lease expiring and found a place, finish my lease and move into a new place.  However, I didn't choose that path.  I just decided to stay put and see what would happen.  I got my rent bill in the bill shocked to see my bill at $1,059.00 (rent was only $875.00 on the lease including water).  That might not sound like much to some people, but it was a huge shock to me.   I started looking around and found a place to move.  I called my apartment management office and informed them I would be moving out and asked how I go about that.  I was informed pretty much that I move and hand in the keys and that is it.  It seemed pretty easy and simple to me.  I moved in a hurry to a condo willing to charge less than I was paying.  I had people help move and get it all squared away.  The last day I moved, the office somehow was closed (middle of the day on a Saturday and they are ALWAYS open on  Saturday.)  I took my keys and put them in an envelope, sealed the envelope and put it in the drop box.  I didn't bother to get my security deposit and cleaning deposits back.  I figured they would just try to dicker me out of the money somehow, and I really didn't have the time for it.   Imagine my shock when I had my credit report checked and found a collection agency with a charge of over $2,500.00!!!  I called and questioned the validity of these charges.  It turns out I was supposed to send a WRITTEN notice to the office 60 DAYS prior to moving out, even if I was on a month to month term.  They also charged for cleaning (even though they had my cleaning deposit), taking a bag of trash out, installing new carpet (even though they install new carpet prior to any tenant moving in), and numerous other things.  I asked to speak with management and was informed the charges were correct, and on top of those charges, I would be charged interest every single day they were in collections.  Needless to say, I learned my lesson the hard way.  I made timely payments and got the entire thing paid off in full.  I was so upset. 
Lesson Learned: ALWAYS check your contract and go in and double check in the office.
Mistake: So about $2,500.00                     
       Money Mistake #2
  • Princess and the Pea- I received a mattress that was past its prime.  I started sleeping on my couch at one point and just couldn't take it any longer.  I decided to go out looking at mattresses.  Granted I didn't really go out and look at different stores like most people would.  I went to one store and just liked the feel of the store.  My sister and I decided to start laying on mattresses and see how things felt.  I ended up falling for a nice set which ended up costing over $1,000.00 (not including the mattress pad and delivery).  Had I been smart and priced out and tested other stores, I would have noticed a huge difference in price.  Yes, I fell for the ever too eager salesperson talking about "how perfect and comfortable this bed here" was.  Later on while shopping for a few items, I realized Sams Club has really nice sets for about half the price and it is the same brand and everything.  DOH!  And no, the company I bought the bed from doesn't offer refunds or exchanges. 
Lesson Learned: ALWAYS price out items at more than three stores. 
Mistakes: So about $500.00.

      Money Mistake #3
  • Sally's- I shopped at Sally's $5.00 clothing store a few years ago and was all excited about a few items that were so cute I thought at the time with such great prices.  I instantly bought them and brought them home.  I washed them and wore them once or twice before they literally fell apart.  I'll never forget having an unraveling string and I pulled it once and BAM one of the shirts was completely torn apart.  Another fell apart in the washer.  I pulled some clothes out of the washer and went to put it in the dryer to notice pieces/fragments of one of the shirts.  Oh how dumb. 
Lesson Learned: Buy quality items.  Don't shop at a store just because of the price.  I would have been better off shopping at a thrift store and buying used clothes that would last.
Mistake: So about $26.75  (5 shirts plus tax)

What Mistakes have you made when it comes to purchases?
To Be Continued................