Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Money and Fears

So in a couple weeks we are going to our annual family reunion out of state.  Since my early childhood I remember these reunions.  They were always magical trips growing up, and it was always something we looked forward to all year long.  At our reunions, there are camping, good fun and great family.  Activities include water games, cards, geocaching, candy cannon, fish pond, and other various fun activities for the kids.  It is an all weekend long event. 

Now that I am older, I must admit that the whole magic of the reunion has kind of washed off a bit.  {I mean, yes I love to see my distant family members, as the reunion is from my Great-Great Grandparents on down.  It is a pretty big thing.  Lots of people there.  Imagine a Mormon family from all those generations.  Get the picture? ;)  }  It can get kind of boring sitting there at times.  Not to mention it is an entire weekend. 

We typically go up for just one day instead of the whole weekend, but since my kids have never gone, I figured we should go the entire weekend so they can say they have been camping.  Not only that, but I am a bit burnt out right now.  I need a break. 

My dad usually drives and we just ride with him.  I would usually pitch in for gas or dinner or whatever we decided to do. However, this year he won't be going.  He has a new job and can't get time off work.  Not to mention it is pretty warm up there and he will want to enjoy his after-work hours to relax in the air conditioned house, as he works outside. 

That brings me to the thought of money.  I went to a rental car agency, I won't name names of companies, but it was outrageous!  They wanted about $400.00 including the rental and insurance.  We're talking just your typical midsize car, nothing fancy at all. To someone else, that might not sound too bad, but to me THAT IS A LOT!Not to mention, I would be paying for gas to fill up that car to make the trip. I don't know how  much gas that will take us to get there and back but I know it is about a 3 hour drive.  Not to mention I will need to drive to a few places up there on the mountain to take the kids to.  With gas at about $3.50 a gallon, which I am seeing they are slowly going down in price, but still that is a lot of money.

So I got to thinking about what I should do.  Should I just scratch out the whole trip?  Save the time and money and not bother?  Should I just try finding someone else going up and split the gas?  Decisions, decisions.

I will openly admit that I am most likely going to be losing my job this next month.  The person who had this position before me moved out of state.  I was informed by someone else here at the company that she is coming back because she didn't like where she moved, in addition to overhearing the boss say it himself.  I will admit that I started freaking out at first wondering what I was going to do.  In the end, I am just going to roll with the punches and let everything happen how they are going to happen.  As a single mom, my income is the only income in our home, as I have mentioned many times before.  There isn't anything I can do to change her coming back. 

However, I could stay home and save a bit of money toward our needs in the next few months by not going on the trip.  It would save a good chunk of change.  But I decided we should go. 

Honestly, life isn't about money.  Life is about the memories we make. Yes, I am extremely frugal in order to provide for my family as a single mom, but you never know when someone is going to pass away.  If any of you remember, my cousin passed away last year unexpectedly.  It saddens me to think how I don't really spend a whole lot of time with my extended family.  Growing up we were all so close.  Even though the reunion has distant relatives as well, I think we shouldn't miss out on the memories.  I know that my kids have so much fun going to these events, as I did when I was their ages.  So I decided it was time to get my mind spinning and working. 

Well, in order to go on the trip, I will have to drive up there.  My car isn't terribly old or anything, it has just been having some issues lately.  I took it into a shop and had them check it out and was informed we needed the transmission flushed.  I just had my oil changed as well.  That set me back about $150.00.  I don't know what gas will run me, but we will cross that when it comes.  I purchased new tires back in December due to my tires being quite old and extremely worn, so that shouldn't be an issue.  Let's just hope the car makes it there and back  ;)

I decided for food the evening we go up there, we can have canned Spaghetti-O's and canned peaches, as that is easy and won't be needed to heat up really.  We already have these items in the cupboard.  For drinks we will be using up the remaining water bottles and sodas from my daughter's birthday party recently.  Again, they are already on hand.  The reunion provides breakfast Saturday morning and dinner that day as well.  So I will need to come up with something for our lunch.  It isn't like we have a fire to heat anything up at the site.  I am thinking of bringing peanut butter, jelly and bread and some chips.  We already have the peanut butter and jelly at home.  Come to think of it, we also have unopened bags of chips remaining from my daughter's party as well.  So if I decide to do that, we will just need a loaf of bread, which I would pick up on the way up the mountain I think. 

I don't have a tent, so I will have to pick up one.  I don't know of anyone who is willing to loan their tent to me for the weekend.  I also would like to have one for future use.  I have been pricing things out at our local stores.  Right now they have tents on sale.  I found one at WalMart for a pretty good price.  It sleeps 6 people.  But it will have plenty of room for us.  It is about $60 plus tax.  Not what I was thinking I would need to spend right at this time in my life, but we will be using it in the future as well.  We already have some sleeping bags, so we won't have to worry about those. 

Although this really isn't a necessity, I love Golden Corral restaurant.  We don't have one here.  I don't eat out very often, but I want to eat at Golden Corral.  I have always loved that place.  It is sooooo yummy!  I know I could really save myself the time and money going there, but for me it would be great to go there. Do I dare take the kids and myself there and eat?  Spending all that money that I could use toward other areas in our lives?  Hmmmm.....  decisions, decisions. 

Have you ever eaten there?  The Golden Corral has great food.  If you haven't eaten there and you have one near you, I HIGHLY suggest eating there.  Their endless buffet is around $10.00.  Much cheaper than a lot of other places you could choose to eat.   Their yeast rolls seriously feel like they melt in your mouth.  Such delicious food!  :)  Can you tell I am really leaning toward just eating there anyways?

Back to the trip and reunion though- In addition to the expenses I mentioned above,  there is the reunion itself.  At the reunion we do have auctions, thrift store like store, raffle tickets and other items that helps provide for the means to hold the reunion for the upcoming year.  And those aren't always cheap.  The items at the auction can get pretty pricey.  I am not one to spend lavishly when I don't have the means obviously.  I just hope they can generate money off their items without me feeling guilted into buying items, because let's be upfront- if they don't make enough for the expenses, the reunions won't be held.

So now, I am left with decisions to make in my life.  I am trying not to let the fear of job loss ruin this trip for me.  I really want my kids to experience the fun and joy of camping and going on this trip.  What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Necessary Roughness

Being Alison is currently having a giveaway right now on her blog!  Have you heard of Necessary Roughness?  It will premiere tomorrow night on USA.  After reading her post, I must admit that I am planning on tuning on for the show. 

The prize pack contains:

■Custom Nylon Bag ($10)

■Branded Football ($10)

■American Express Gift Card ($100)

■Stress Relief Body Products (or equivalent) ($50)

■USA Summer T-Shirt ($15)

■USA 10-City Summer Guide

About the Show:
Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) is a Long Island psychotherapist whose personal life unravels when she finds her husband cheating. Diving fully into her work, she takes on the challenge of rehabbing a bad boy professional football player (Mehcad Brooks) whose off-the-field antics threaten his career and the team franchise. Underestimated at every turn, she succeeds beyond expectations and soon finds herself as the most sought-after therapist for high-profile clients. Athletes, entertainers, politicians and others living in the spotlight clamor for her unique brand of tough love therapy during their moments of crisis. Although her career is reenergized, it wreaks havoc on her life as a newly minted single mom of two teenagers. Recognizing her ability to change people’s lives, she’s determined to strike a balance between both worlds.

Check out the show and tell me what you think of it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

$50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

If you head on over to Blessed Beyond Words you can enter for a chance at a $50.00 Amazon Gift Card!  What could you do with $50 right now?  Me?  Well, I would purchase a tent to go camping at our family reunion.  We have the reunion annually, but have never camped. 

In fact, my kids have never gone camping. 
How {un}American is that?!?!

Pretty sad if you ask me.  My kids are so deprived  ;)  hahahaha  Or so they THINK they are deprived.  I just thought it would be fun to let the kids experience the great outdoors and go camping this year though.  So head over to Blessed Beyond Words and enter the giveaway.  :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Baby Shower

Mom Start is having a giveaway!  Do you know anyone who is expecting and is deserving of a baby shower?  How about a giveaway providing $300 in the form of a gift card for the baby shower?  I bet you will want to enter this.  :)  I know some awesome friends who could really use a shower.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mixxed Reviews Giveaway

Mixxed Reviews is currently having a $50.00 Visa Card giveaway at her blog.  Head on over there and check her out.  Follow her and join in the fun.  What could you do with a $50.00 gift card?  Right now I would use that toward my daughter's birthday party.  We are having a fun swim party at our house.  If not that, I would use it for Christmas.  As you know I am on a quest to spend very little this Christmas as I have been preparing throughout the year.  I would most likely purchase This Laptop or This Batman One.  Also I know my son would like one of These since he is such a Batman fan.  Oh the possibilities.  What would/could you get with this $50.00 Visa Card?  I am sure Mixxed Reviews would love to hear from you.  Check her out!

Lady and the Blog giveaway

Lady and the Blog is having a grand giveaway right now.  She is currently having a giveaway to Diapers.com.  Have you checked out Diapers.com yet?  If not, I highly suggest doing so.  I found some great items at really awesome prices.  Diapers, baby furniture, baby needs, games, toys, and anything else you can think of.  I really enjoyed looking around on Diapers . 

Updated Preparing

If you go Here you will read what I have set aside for Christmas for my kids so far.  In addition, my boss was cleaning out his house and brought me in a big bag of stuffed animals today.  I will be honest and say that I don't particularly like stuffed animals very much.  They end up all over the house and somehow they reproduce quite quickly  ;)  hahaha   They also aren't very functional.

But I said thank you and looked to see what was inside.  I was pretty excited when I saw the following mixed in the bag:
It's a bird.  It's a plane.  Oh wait, it is....
(Not a very good picture, I know.)

He loves Mater from Cars and with all the numerous ads on tv, online and everywhere we turn, he is getting more and more excited about Mater.  So these two bad boys will be cleaned up and set aside for him for Christmas!  :)  Total cost: FREE!!! 

So my total for Christmas as of right now is $11.19.  Pretty good if you ask me.  Let's see what else I can score by the time Christmas rolls around.  Stay tuned for additional finds.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who Loves Giveaway!?

Right now Mommy Katie is having a grand giveaway!  She is giving away an XBox with A Kinect pack!!!  Who else is jumping up and down?  I have always wanted to try out the Kinect since hearing great reviews from friends and various reports online.  How fun would that be? 

I need a way to get my butt off the couch when I am at home.  This would be such a great way to do so and of course motivate my kids to do the same.  Let's face it, we need a little kick and this would surely help.  Head on over to Mommy Kate and check out her blog.  I have been following her for a little while and love her site.  Feel free to follow her and enjoy.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Closing a Chapter to My Life

Well, today I decided that I am closing a chapter to my life.  When I say that, I primarily am speaking about certain individuals in my life that frankly, just don't belong.  No, this isn't me sitting here saying I am better than anyone and have no use for certain people.  Not at all.  Certain people that have been in my life for quite some time are
a) too judgemental
b) negative and downright rude
c) love to talk crap behind your back and when confronted say they never said anything
d) just too much drama to handle.

So today I am embracing taking my imaginary scissors and cutting the strings/closing a chapter.  I am beyond tired of focusing on the problems and worrying about what they think or say.  I am me.  I will never be anyone else.  Of course, I will change in my life.  In fact, I will change MANY times in my life.  Isn't that what life is? 

WE ALL CHANGE.  We learn.  We grow.  We find ourselves and focus on who we want to become and how we are going to get there.  I for one will happily detach myself from said individuals in an attempt to better myself and my life.  Maybe I am better than having these people in my life?  Maybe that is wrong to think or say, but I am done.  Not in a negative, venting kind of way.  I am just happy to let it go.  I will be the better person and be content :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pampers (Giveaway)

Health, Beauty, Children & Family is having a giveaway!  Do you know anyone who is expecting and is deserving of a baby shower?  How about a giveaway providing $300 in the form of a gift card for the baby shower?  I bet you will want to enter this.  While you are at it, check out Pampers Mission.

Kid Safe, KidZui (Giveaway)

Are your kids starting to get more interested in computers and technology?  Are you fearful of them being exposed to garbage and junk?  Right now Dear Crissy has a giveaway on her blog from KidZui.  I was very happy to stumble upon this.  I love that this site is face for kids.  They won't be exposed to stuff they really don't need to stumble upon.  I am definitely going to have my kids check this out and really am looking forward to it. 

"If you are looking for a safe, fun, and easy way to allow your young children to experience the internet, you will love KidZui–the browser designed specifically for kids!"

Who Doesn't Love Mickey Mouse?? (Giveaway)

My son loves Mickey Mouse.  He also loves singing the "hot dog, hot dog hot diggity dog" song!  :)  Right now if you head on over to Shining2Save she is having a giveaway for a Mickey Mouse Great Outdoors DVD.  Do you have a Mickey Mouse lover in your house?  What fond memories do you have of Mickey Mouse from your childhood?  I honestly LOVED Mickey Mouse as a kid.  I loved sitting on my parents' bed when I was about 5 or 6 and watching the shows.  I loved Goofy and always cracked up when he would do something clumsy and yelp with that loud howl only he could do.  hahaha

Friday, June 3, 2011


I know it is only June, but I will admit that I am already thinking about Christmas.  Primarily I am thinking of shopping for my kids' gifts.  So far I have the following set aside for Christmas:

  • Monsters, Inc. DVD, which he has been begging for for a long while now.  This is such a great movie, if you haven't seen it.  I highly recommend this to anyone, and not just if you have kids.  I must confess that I absolutely LOVE this movie.- I won a GC online and got this for free. Monsters Inc
  • Batman Movies 4 pack (Here) since he is such an avid Batman fan- I won a GC online and got this for free.
  • Arthur and The Invisibles 2 (Here )- I won this online on a blog (New Age Mama) and I know he is going to love it. Free
  • A stash of 14 Chevron Techron cars (Like These) that I found at a yard sale, various styles for only 25 cents each! $3.50 total
  • A car rug (Almost Like This One) that I scored at a yard sale as well, for $2.00!  I couldn't believe it when she told me that price.  It looks like it has been hardly touched.
  • Last year's Lego finds.  One was at a yard sale which if I remember right was only $3.00.  One was given to us when their grandma was cleaning out their shed and I set it aside for when he was a little older.  $3.00 total
  • I decided since I got the 2nd movie to the Arthur and The Invisibles, I would get the first one (Here)with some left over money on a GC from Amazon that I won on a book blog a couple weeks back.  (I decided to purchase used books vs. new, so I was able to buy 2 books and this movie instead of just the one book I would have been permitted to had I purchased brand new.)  The overage was exactly $2.69. 
So far the total for Jack is $11.19!

  • Enchanted (Enchanted)- I won a gift card online and bought this primarily for her for Christmas.  She has been wanting this movie for a while now.  Every time we check it out at the library, she throws on her dress ups and sings her little heart out.  It is so precious!   So this was free.
  • I entered a giveaway on Hip2Save (Hip2Save) for a Build-A-Dream Playhouse and won a little while back. I was so excited, as I knew my daughter would absolutely love it.  I picked the castle. (Check It Out).  It is sitting in the garage hiding. So free.
Bug's Total is $0.00!

So a total of $11.19 spent so far in all.

How far in advance do you do your Christmas shopping?  As a single mom, I never know what life is going to throw at me, so I shop throughout the year.  It is soley my income that provides for Santa.  If you don't check out yard sales or online giveaways, I highly recommend it!  It can be well worth your time, especially the yard sales.  I tend to find some great finds in my searching.  Get planning ahead of Christmas!  Happy hunting :)

Time To Change

I was on Facebook last night and stumbled upon a link on my cousin's page.  It was a video of a family who went from a house with 2,000 sq. ft. to 320 sq. ft.  That is a couple and a tween son.  They have even managed to have a couple kids sleep over before.  At first thought I imagined some crazy family crammed in a tiny house and being unhappy.  Granted, that is exactly what I would think if I went and moved into a much smaller house.  I was pleasantly surprised after watching the video.  They seem so happy and seem to be doing well.  Their house is paid off in full, they pay $145 (or so) a month to rent the space for their place, but that also includes the rent for their business.  They work at home in a separate adjoining trailer "thinga-majigger".  They make homemade baby gifts.  All in all, they honestly seem like a happy family.  Here is the link to the video Here.   (Aren't you guys proud that I finally figured out how to do the link thing without listing the entire website?  Oh my goodness, I feel so accomplished.)

In the video, she kept emphasising it is about what you have and not what you don't have.  How important that is for us to remember.  I personally don't think I could go and move into that small of a house.  I get extremely claustrophobic sometimes and I know that I would just want to be away from home as a result.  However, after finishing watching the video, I surprisingly wanted to go through my house and get rid of a significant amount of items.  If any of you remember from reading my blog, last year I got rid of so much stuff and donated them to the thrift store.  It honestly felt so great.  My garage had been stuffed.  Now I need to go through our house more and get rid of more.  Do you ever feel like that after watching a video?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer is Upon Us.... Giveaway

Summer is upon us.  For some of us that means family vacations.  For others that means family reunions and camping.  That is what our family does.  Right now Life in a Sandcastle has a giveaway going on for a Lifetime 6 foot Folding Picnic.  Who couldn't use one for camping and misc. trips?  Heck, I know you could definitely use it for backyard BBQs, birthday parties or anything else that tickles your fancy.  Check out the blog http://lifeisasandcastle.blogspot.com/2011/05/lifetime-6ft-folding-picnic-table.html  And don't forget to checkout Lifetime http://blog.lifetime.com/.  Happy entering!

C.K. Kelly Martin Giveaway

Are you a lover of books?  I sure am.  Right now if you head over to Fragments of Life at http://shusky20.blogspot.com/2011/05/spotted-ck-kelly-martin-huge.html, they are having an awesome giveaway.  Up for grabs C.K. Kelly Martin books and an Amazon GC.  I am looking forward to this.  Check her out NOW.  The giveaway ends July 1st.  Happy reading and entering.