Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Review of Traveler Safe-Er-Grip

Originally submitted at One Step Ahead

Safety-proof any tub, anywhere, with our portable bathtub grab handle! It's just as budge-proof as our best-selling Safe-Er-Grip, but small enough to tuck in a suitcase. Helps kids maintain balance and avoid slipping (an even greater risk in unfamiliar bathrooms). Holds on tight, but removes ea...

This is AWESOME!!!!!

By dazed81 from Illinois on 12/31/2009

5out of 5

Gift: No

Pros: Convenient, Easy Use, Portable, Easy Setup, Durable, Lightweight

Best Uses: Toddlers, Travel, Kids, Daily Use

Describe Yourself: Parent of Two or More Children

This is the BEST invention! I bought this when my 2 year old wanted to get in and out of the tub without my help, and she was dangerously slipping and sliding all over. After a couple of close-call falls, I saw this item and LOVED that it was quick to install and remove if necessary. This thing fits our standard tub wonderfully. We don't put it right in the center (that makes no sense to me?!) but a little to one side and it is just perfect. She can hold on and get in and out without a problem and is so pleased with herself.
We also found that when our 8 month old started to pull up, it was excellent for him. Instead of trying to pull up on the slippery side of the tub, he naturally grabbed for the handle. He loves to stand alongside the tub and watch his sister take a bath or wait his turn. I have NEVER had this come undone, and have left it on for months on end. I did remove it recently to do a thorough cleaning, and it went right back on and has stayed secure ever since. Not had a single issue and have had it for close to 6 months now! I am considering buying a second!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Three, Three, Three days in one!

I am so far really lovin Netflix. Everything has been going smoothly and the movies arrive quickly and best of all I don't have to pay any postage! I have watched Benjamin Button, I Love You Man, and I have Slumdog Millionaire here but keep putting it off because I am afraid it will be depressing and sad. I like funny laughing movies that help me ESCAPE from reality. LOL. But I will watch it. Maybe this spring? Thank god there aren't late fees! haha!

The Secret Life of Bees is on its way and will be here tomorrow, which is cool. I have read the book a LONG LONG time ago. So long ago that I barely remember it. I was ecstatic to see that Netflix has all of the Tori and Dean season's on DVD, so I can catch up on Inn Love which I never saw.

This evening was our 2nd round of H1N1 shots for the kids, because they are young they need boosters. It was really slick, we went to the clinic that is at the pediatricians and it was in and out.... really quick. Both kids did really well. Of course, now that we are home, Ardyn is being hysterical about everything (unrelated to the shots and more related to the fact that she's ornery and didn't nap much (just the ride to the Doctor's)

I am noticing that Marek is not putting up with her crap anymore, and is very vocal (growling, squealing and screeching in general when she tries to take something or do something that makes him angry) and I am laughing. But tonight he bit her (lol, can't help but giggle) when she took a toy away from him that is HIS, and then she hit him in the head in retaliation. We had a discussion about Marek being a baby and that he doesn't understand that biting is wrong. We included that next time Marek bites her she should come tell mommy and not hit Marek (right) and that if she doesn't want Marek to touch her or her things, then she should take them into her room and play there. (riiiiiight.) So, the fun continues for the next, oh 30 years, right?

In other news, I have no money. LOL. None. zip. As in "we need bread, but how in the WORLD are we going to get it?" kind of broke. As in "how long can we live without power?" broke. It's just one of those "lotsa bills" weeks. Ugh. So you know that yesterday I made bread. Well, I am pissed at Betty Crocker. In the Betty Crocker cookbook, there was a recipe that I thought I would try for wheat bread because it's been so long since I MADE wheat bread that I don't even know what recipe I used. The directions were all screwy, and told me to heat the water on the stove until it was 225-230 degrees and then add it to my yeast? Um. No!? I have made plenty of bread and anything above like 110-115 degrees is too hot and will kill the yeast. That's just Breadmaking 101. but then I did that thing where you second guess yourself. You know, where you say "come on, this is Betty CROCKER here. Seriously, how could Betty Crocker screw up something so basic as the temperature for water added to yeast? And then I worried that my memory for water temperatures had been erased by double pregnancies and whatever brain cells I may have burned during natural childbirth and sleepless nights. So I thought, Betty must be right.... Right?

No. As soon as I sunk my hands into that dough, I just was NOT feeling it. It was too hot. it just did NOT feel right at all. I had a baaaaad feeling. This dough was not going to rise. And two hours later, I decided it wasn't going to happen. So I made another batch, which I did completely differently (added ingredients more to my liking and experience, and added water to yeast at 110 degrees.) and it did rise. But I was still seriously unimpressed with the dinky loaves and the taste was too heavy and dry. Then in frustration I found a new recipe online that I am going to try hopefully by Wednesday (because we are out of bread. LOL)


Fast Forward to Tuesday night.

Got my hair colored today. I think I mentioned that I am "swapping services" with my hairdresser Kelly, to get my hair colored for "free." It turned out awesome. She asked me what color/s I wanted and I told her that she could do her thing. She has excellent taste and talent and knows what I like. And of course it turned out awesome!

Tonight Evan is "Christmas Shopping" and I am hoping for fabulous gifts from my list like hot glue sticks, brown acrylic paint, a scissor sharpener, and a nursing tank top. (yes, I am serious. All the things that I like.)

I should be sewing. I should. I still haven't sewn stockings. Or Allison's iSpy bag. I am a bad bad person. Santa hates me. Michele hates me. Hates. I will get to them. Tonight after bed we open gifts. And I don't mean our own gifts. I mean the kids gifts. Take them out of the packages and get rid of all that cardboard and those crappy choking hazards (twist ties, strings, plastic waste, etc) and prepare them to be given and played with in an instant. This morning Ardyn discovered that a drawer in her bedroom was still home to a secret stash of mommy's barbies. It took her over two years, but she found them. She got out every tiny barbie shoe and perfume bottle. I had two barbies in boxes that I had bought on clearance about 10 years ago for $5 each. They came with full wardrobes... I thought they would be good to have on hand for impromptu gifts or if we had someone over who needed entertaining. Well, Ardyn was super excited when I told her we could open one. It took me FOREVER to unstitch the poor doll's hair from her box. When Ardyn finally got ahold of her first ever barbie, she walked her over to the couch and said "Hello Barbie, How Very Nice To Meet You! I'm so glad mommy cut you out of that box!" I laughed. How cute is that?!

I have heard in the past that Santas elves deliver toys to good little girls and boys that are unwrapped and unpackaged, all joyous and ready to be played with. So this year I am taking a hint from Santa's crew and going to have everything ready in advance, to be sure that we don't have Christmas morning meltdowns, and parental headaches, and then everything will be primed to play with and fresh with batteries. Ahhhh.....

Fast Forward. Wednesday after lunch:

This is why I can't blog. I can't finish one complete thought, let alone a whole post, without being seriously interrupted! Last night was a serious case of the toddler meltdowns, brought on by the issue where MIL doesn't want to make Ardyn nap, and therefore poor child had been up since 7am and and fell asleep on the couch before supper (after I got home from getting the hair done.) I was blogging while she napped, and did NOT want to wake her, but then she peed her pants and woke herself, and then went right into hysteria.... complete with excessive snot and tears, and completed with the refusal to eat supper.... which she punctuated by throwing up on the dining room table because she had herself so worked up that she choked on her own snot. Yep. Attractive. Pleasant. Exactly how I like to end a nice relaxing day away from home. By this time Evan had bailed to do his Christmas Shopping, so it was a one woman show. Marek was very clingy because he was afraid that I might leave with my boobs again. I fed him supper while Ardyn napped, and then she woke up and I attempted to feed her.... she ended up being so worked up that she went right into bed with a few drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy and some requested Scooby Doo on TV, which calmed her down to the point of finally being able to form a coherent sentence. Then while she chilled down a notch, I took a nice hot bath and read some of my book (Love in the Time of Colic by Ian Kerner and Heidi Raykeil) and then when I got out, she was happily playing in her room and ready for storytime. Just then Evan arrived home complete with his shopping, and bringing supper for the two of us. So I read Ardyn about 5 or 6 Christmas Stories, and then Evan and I settled in for supper and some "elf work" before bed. And I was tired. So I climbed into bed and then remembered that I was "chick of the week" on my mom's board and probably had a few questions to answer. So I pulled the laptop into bed and spent an hour and 20 minutes answering them, and then collapsed.

This morning Marek woke up with a snot fountain and a fever. Poor guy. He is really not feeling well. Sleeping and waking alternately, very lethargic and just cuddly. He doesn't really care for much of anything, but I do get some smiles and occasional jabber out of him, so I am not overly concerned. Just a cold it seems. After nursing him this morning, He lay right down next to me and fell asleep. When he woke about an hour later, his fever felt higher, and so I checked it at 101.3, and decided that he was now miserable enough for Tylenol. I gave him 3/4 of a dose and then about 90 seconds later he threw up all over me (freshly bathed) and the sheets on our bed (freshly laundered.) Too much snot I believe. So a call to the ped to see if I can re-dose him after he puked up the drugs, and then Evan moved the rocking chair from the nursery to the living room, where I have spent the last 6 hours alternately nursing and rocking him to soothe his ailments. Oh and putting saline spray in his nose, sucking out snot, wiping up sneezes, and reinserting pacifiers. And don't forget a couple of temperature checks. Ardyn was pretty chilled out so we just hung in front of the TV and watched BOLT via netflix. It was good. She enjoyed it. Then we watched Kipper's Christmas episode and then lunch. Luckily Marek went down for a real nap (meaning he actually let me put him down) and Ardyn and I ate and now she is in the tub because she had spaghettios from her head to her feet. What is it about the phrase "don't touch anything on the way to the bathroom" that makes a child put her icky hands right on the white wall or the doorknob, or my shirt? Yeah. Or in my hair. Did I mention I just took a bath LAST NIGHT!

So now I am sitting on the bathroom floor in front of the heater with my laptop while she swims and floats and swishes like a mermaid. She just counted to 10, and then 16, 14, 16. LOL. She doesn't know it yet, but her nap is on the horizon. I have the dishwasher running, and although I wanted (needed) to wash diapers and bake bread today, I am not sure that is going to happen with Mr. Cling in the house.

Oh well. Hopefully at least she can nap and he can be awake, and be rocked and soothed.

So that's the story. Sorry it took so long to come to a close!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

13 Days till Christmas!

Well, it's Saturday night. This house is SO quiet that it's eerie! I am watching Jim Bob Duggar go bungee jumping. I am trying to get my fix of the TIVO'd shows before the beginning of the week because WE CANCELLED OUR CABLE!!! Ahhhh! I know. Evan laughs and several months ago I told him that I thought I could easily live without cable. He said if I think we can go "off the grid" that he is all for it. The cable bill was getting INSANE because the 12 month pricing of Comcast's Triple Play Package was over. I think the total monthly bill for Internet, Cable with a DVR Box, and VOIP phone was reaching $150 a month. Seriously, that's a van payment, and that is what I could use more money for! So. We decided to cancel the cable portion and just keep the internet and phone. And in the process I discovered that they had signed us up for the more expensive phone package, $24.99 a month, when there is an unlimited local calling package for $10 a month. And Local calling allows you to call anywhere within a 15 minute area. So we are totally covered. I mean, we each have a cell phone if we need to make long distance calls.... so we cut our cable bill from like $150 a month down to $60 a month. We decided we would try Netflix for a while, because for $13 a month we can have unlimited monthly rentals without late fees (they pay postage both ways!) and also stream TV and Movies directly to our laptops and to Evan's Playstation. Now THAT is cool. And then I can watch all my normal TV shows online, with the exception of a few cable shows.... because TLC doesn't stream their shows unless you pay for them. But I could pay for each episode for less than I could pay for cable. So, right now I know that I am going to miss The Duggars, and Tori and Dean, and the Girls Next Door. But there are worse things in life. Like, say, not having a van to drive or heat or groceries! LOL.

So, we have had a busy week. Monday we had our friends Kristen (a MOPS mom) and Eli over to visit and play. Eli is almost two. On Tuesday we had Jennifer and little Emma over. Emma is almost 3 months old. I also closed my Usborne Book Show, and got $50 in free books and $74 in half price books. Those should be in Monday. Wednesday I was supposed to have an appointment to get my hair colored. I haven't been coloring my hair since I started staying home with the kids, because I can't afford it, and especially can't afford to maintain it. My natural hair color isn't a whole lot different than how I color it (usually it's just the addition of s funky highlights and lowlights via foils) but after each pregnancy my hair has changed. Actually, DURING pregnancy, my hair grows darker than it does normally. And then when I am not pregnant, it goes back to previous. So I have these sections that are different colored from having two pregnancies close together. And as I get older, I am "losing my red pigment" (in the expert description of my hairstylist) and so my hair looks more of a dingy grey-blonde. It isn't true gray hair, just that dishwater blonde that sometimes looks so BLAH. Luckily my hairstylist would like some computer assistance, so we have decided to swap services, which means that I can get my hair colored for free. Otherwise, it wouldn't be something I would be able to afford right now. Yay! I think it will make me feel brighter and merrier this Christmas season.

Well, anyway, we had the snowstorm that came through on Wednesday, so I rescheduled my hair appointment for this coming week. This Thursday I got groceries in the afternoon and Thursday night we had Elizabeth come over with Jadeyn (6 months) and Kelsea (3 years) and had a really nice night at home with visiting and the girls playing. We talked about cloth diapers and I showed Elizabeth some Bum Genius and we tried them on Jadeyn. Then on Friday I was preparing for the big MOPS christmas party and Santa visits. I had planned on making sugar cookies. Cut outs, but not the regular cut outs, a new recipe that is "supposed" to mimic the big poofy fluffy cookies that you buy in the store. I had all the ingredients, and bought the lemon extract I needed, and was going to mix and chill and bake on Friday. Except I really didn't think about the "chill" part and didn't plan accordingly to allow extra time. So on Friday, I fed the kids breakfast and lunch, and then I mixed up the dough. Marek watched from the kitchen floor. For some reason the dough was so crumbly and wouldn't stick together. I was pretty worried. I looked over the recipe and couldn't figure out what I did wrong. I decided to chill it and see if it improved. Then, I realized that I didn't HAVE three hours, and so I put it in the freezer, put the kids down for naps, and took a bath. Before hopping in the tub, I posted on Facebook what my issue was in hopes that some of my baking friends and Pampered Chef friends would have some insight or had made that recipe before. Sure enough, a friend from my girl scout days mentioned remembering the eggs. I remembered the eggs. Once again I thought of the things that would add moisture to the recipe. Eggs (check.) Butter? Well, this recipe was for Shortening (check.) and Milk? Well... the recipe didn't call for milk. Hmmm. OMG! The BUTTERMILK! I forgot the buttermilk! When i double checked the recipe, whoever had typed and sent it to me had put the buttermilk in the ingredients list, but when giving step by step directions on what to add and when and in what order, Buttermilk was skipped. Oy. So I decided to mix up the powdered buttermilk and add to the dough, even though it had already been Chilled. This instantly improved the consistency and it was what it should have been, but it was now not chilled enough, and therefore, I wasn't able to cut it once I rolled it out. Back to square one and officially NOT taking cookies to the Christmas Party. Yep! Oh well. So now I have cookie dough that I need to roll and cut out, but have been busy today and putting it off again.

The MOPS Party was great. Evan got home and showered with Marek and we all got dressed nicely. The other kids were all wearing pajamas for pictures, but I wanted to have a formal photo with Santa like we do every year. The Easter Bunny and Santa are the only two times we dress the kids up nicely and get photos, so I wanted to take this opportunity to do this. We had planned to put the kids' Christmas outfits on and then take pajamas with us to put them in after seeing Santa. I was hoping that we would get the photos of our kids taken first, as soon as Santa got there, and before everyone else's kids arrived. We got to the church early (which is a miracle for us with both kids) and when Santa arrived, I was still having a few issues. The doors which we were taking the photos in front of were BEAUTIFUL ornate wood doors with greenery all around them, but the camera flash was glaring against the wood finish. Oy. No matter HOW I set the flash and the shutter speed (which I am NOT a professional at by any means) the glare was there. Eventually I moved the Christmas Tree to try to eliminate the problem, and it DID eliminate most of it, but not all of it. Then the tripod would not hold the camera completely vertically, and so the photos were slightly crooked. Evan finally was able to rig it to work, although anyone looking at the tripod sitting crookedly probably thought we were drunks. Then Santa (who was by far above and beyond awesom) asked me for a glass of water, which I found, but then he placed it on the floor behind his chair. So in nearly EVERY photo, his glass of water was showing. Grrr. For a perfectionist like me, that's a real issue. The other problem I had was that to the left of Santa was a gorgeous Christmas Tree, and to his right was a blank wall with a framed drawing of Jesus and a pedestal with the Church Guestbook. When Santa had a child that wouldn't sit on his lap, or a large family with lots of children, instead of asking them to stand on the side of the Christmas Tree (hello, PHOTO OP) He asked them to stand over on his right, which then included the water glass, his sack of candy canes, the drawing of Jesus, and the Church Guestbook in the photos. I tried to not have my head explode, and in fact did lots of creative cropping. I was able to get the guestbook and such out of nearly every single photo. Nearly. These small things can really bother an OCD person like me. Santa was wonderful with the children (as of course, Santa is) and he read them all a story (Twas the Night Before Christmas) and also chatted with them and took a large group photo with us.

Ardyn had absolutely no fear of him, and as soon as he arrived she was the first to march right over to him at the stairs and shake his hand. She told him that she liked his gloves, and his black boots. Santa told me that he had a "shadow" (referring to Ardyn, who was with him EVERYWHERE) and when she heard him say that she said "I have a shadow too!" and looked down and stomped to show him that her own shadow moved. LOL. She was very upset when she couldn't just stand next to him the whole time, and Evan had to take her and Marek into the sunday school room for treats and crafts while I took pictures. I was hoping that Evan would watch both kids without any issues (after all, that's what I do every day and at every activity we attend) but he was mostly tied up with Marek and therefore when Ardyn started running rampant, that's exactly what she was going. We have no idea how many cookies she ate, and Evan told me later that she was taking bites of them and putting them back up on the trays and tables. Oh. this made me feel like a HORRIBLE mom. Especially when she was moaning in her sleep the whole night and I was worried that she had a tummy ache. Next time I will specifically ask a mom who perhaps only has one child she is responsible for, if she could be exclusively responsible for Ardyn. I normally wouldn't do that, and maybe it's unfair of me to ask someone else to do that, but when I am tied up taking pictures and Evan is tied up with marek and unable to keep up with Ardyn, I am really nervous about WHO exactly is watching her. I don't know what the best way to handle something like that is. I guess I will learn as I go with this whole multiple child gig.

When Santa got ready to leave the festivities, Ardyn started getting hysterical and crying. She had the real crocodile tears going and said "No! Santa Please Don't GO!" it was heartbreaking. LOL. She was really attached to him. I uploaded the photos that I took to Flickr and to Facebook and Picasa.

I have been working VERY hard to keep this house in order and stop it from falling apart the past two weeks. I have been consistently having people visit, which has been wonderful, and has been a nice incentive to keep things clean and picked up. I have been making Ardyn pick her toys up on a daily basis.... with the goal being that if her room is a mess, so be it, but all her toys need to be IN HER ROOM at least once a day. This allows me to vacuum and keep the table cleared so that we can eat meals... and I have been running the dishwasher and keeping the kitchen clean and clear so that I can do some baking and make meals without having a terrible mess in there. I've also been trying to keep clean laundry put away and not in piles and baskets, and keep the bathroom tidy and the toothpaste funk out of the sink. So far, so good. Only problem is, I have dirty laundry up to my eyeballs, and the master bedroom is a disgrace. And tonight the kitchen is a mess, Ardyn's room is TERRIFYING, and the cookies are still not baked.

Today Ardyn went with Aunt Liz to see Santa again. Aunt Liz came over this afternoon. She was going to pick Ardyn up at 1:30 and so I gave Ardyn a bath and put her in a cute Christmas Theme Outfit, and then put a matching korker bow in her hair. And then, she peed in her outfit. Grrrrr! At least I had a spare Christmas Outfit (I had bought two on clearance at Target last year!) and a spare matching bow. LoL. I put her in a Pull-Up this time and changed her clothes. Then at 1:30 she was waiting by the door for Aunt Liz. She was so excited! And THEN at 2pm Aunt Liz texted and said she had fallen asleep and that she wouldn't be here till 2:30. Imagine telling a 2 year old that she has to wait an hour as she stands by the door ready to leave to see Santa and you have been telling her since 10am that she was going to see Santa after lunch. Poor kid. But she really had a great time, and Liz said she was once again attached to Santa and telling him how Mommy and Ardyn are going to make him cookies and leave food for the reindeer and a glass of milk for him, and how she wants Hungry Hungry Hippos. Liz said Poor Santa didn't know WHAT to say to her.

She was fortunate enough to get a great goodie bag with an apple, orange, banana, hershey bar, pack of gum, and a jingle bell on a red ribbon. She also won the door prize! Apparently she has her mother's childhood luckiness... I used to win all KINDS of prizes as a kid.

When she arrived home with Aunt Liz, Grandma Deb had stopped for a visit. She wasn't home 20 minutes when Grandpa Bob and Grandma Susan arrived to whisk her away for an overnight at their house. So, It's been a quiet night with Marek and myself. Well, quiet if I held him constantly. Because he knew no one was in his way, he insisted that he needed me to hold him. Evan made breakfast for supper again and it was delicious. Then I made some new tags for Marek's Diaper Bins in his nursery, and cut and sorted coupons into the couponizer (see previous post.) I keep telling myself I need to be doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen and organizing Ardyn's room and packing up some toys to start a toy rotation. But, here I sit. I just don't feel like spending my quiet night without kids and a husband cleaning my house. Is that so wrong?

Well, I should at least start ONE load of laundry. LOL. And I guess I should go to bed early, or at least go read in bed for a bit.

I hope everyone's Christmas Shopping is going smoothly and you are enjoying all of your holiday parties. I have to admit that I really do NOT miss having to attend two work Christmas Parties. I LOVE my coworkers, but it's kind of nice to not be running and running this holiday season. Winter Nights spent by the Christmas lights in a warm house are a-okay with me!

Let's Talk about my new Couponizer, and about Coupons in general....

So, tonight I opened my Couponizer. In case you don't follow me on facebook, you might not know that I joined Swagbucks, which is the most awesome thing since sliced bread (as mom would say.) I have been a Swagbucks member for about, oh, one-two months and have already earned $30 in Amazon gift cards. I used some of those gift cards to order my Nordic Naturals Fish Oil (Omega-D) which I order from Amazon because it is cheaper than the local health food store, and also cheaper than ordering direct from the company's website. (That's the brand I choose because it is recommended by my midwife, and because I met several of the company's reps at the Chicago Green Festival. They are the only fish oil that comes from the Nordic waters and is third party tested and therefore contains low levels of things that could be especially harmful to a pregnant or nursing mother/baby... like Mercury.) Sorry for that Ramble. But because you have to spend $25 to get free shipping, I also used Amazon gift cards to order the Couponizer, which was something that I have wanted for a LONG time but just haven't justified the cost. But hey, if it's for FREE (thank you swagbucks!) and it will help us save MORE money, then it's a good thing!

So, anyway, I got my couponizer opened up, and I was actually pretty impressed. I don't know WHY, but when you buy a product like that, all they show you is the cover. And then you hear vague promises like "The Revolutionary Way To Organize and Shop with Coupons and Discounts" and you think, what in the F*%# does that really mean? What are you selling me? What does the inside look like? What does it provide me with? And I hate things like that. I feel that there are one of two things going on here... #1, It doesn't really work and if you saw what's inside you would be disappointed and wouldn't buy it -or- #2, It does work, but it's like a trade secret and if you looked inside, they'd have to kill you (or perhaps you would recreate the same system for much less than $20, and then they wouldn't be able to sell you one.)

Right off the bat, I can tell you that the coupon sorting mat was completely different than the one I saw in online photos. I am not so sure that it's better. In fact, I instantly disliked the shape of it, but I got along okay and I liked that the categories on the mat were in the same alphabetical order as the book itself, so once I started putting my sorted coupons into the binder, it was a cinch. What I DID like was the clear plastic cover to the binder, and the elastic cord that keeps it shut. What I also liked were the little round nosed scissors, and the perfect little clear plastic bag, which will also allow me to keep my WIC coupons and information right along with my coupons, which is where I like to keep them. It's a little less "tacky" then my gallon freezer bag. LOL. I also liked that there were two coupon "pages/pockets" that were facing each other, one for "coupons to be used this shopping trip" and another for "Coupons to use at checkout." Yeah. Finally someone who understands that even though you may have set them aside to use this shopping trip, doesn't mean that you actually use it... (might be something cheaper on sale, or perhaps you change your mind, or perhaps it's not in stock at the store you are at.) and therefore this really eliminates (I hope) some of that "coupon-losing, hair pulling, head exploding drama" that I get when I am trying to sort out coupons and keep everything straight when there is no horizontal surface in a store or in your slotted wire shopping cart in which things can be sorted. Grrr. Especially with 4 little sticky hands and 2 paper-eating drooling mouths.

Something that would make it better? a neat little place to store that coupon sorter, within the binder, so I don't loose it (because I will. I can already feel it.)

Okay, now let's talk about coupons in general. I love them. I really do. But the key to actually saving money with coupons, I believe, is only using coupons on things you were going to buy/use anyway. It is difficult for me (and I know that is the reason that manufacturers PRINT coupons) to not buy something just because it's a "good deal" or because it's a "lower price." It's difficult for me to say "yeah, but we don't NEED (insert name of particular brand of food that is too expensive and convenient and that I was raised NOT to expect)" And therefore, I am often torn between my NEED to coupon and my DESIRE to coupon. And then, here it comes, the problem with brand versus generic. Yep. I said it. I am a generic girl. I was raised to adore the yellow can of pop that said one word on it in black letters. "Cola." I was raised on mayonnaise and therefore hate miracle whip. I had potato buds and dislike real mashed potatoes (I am not kidding here.) and I prefer generics of several foods to the actual brand name product. And as an adult, when it came time to make my own decisions, I have found a few brand name products that I prefer. It took me years to find a generic Shells and Cheese that is every bit as good as Velveeta. Centrella Brand has it all the way. That is the ONLY store brand shells and cheese that I can bring myself to buy. And when it comes to Pop, it's 7-up and Coke. I was raised on generic, and that is just something I like to have. I don't buy generic doritoes or cheap oreos. I generally like expensive chips, unless they are plain old rippled chips or cheesy poofs (which I prefer generic.) I prefer generic strawberry frosted pop tarts. I don't prefer generic unwrapped cheese slices. but other cheese doesn't bother me no matter what brand it is.

So. A lifetime of discovering my own preferences, and preferences of my family. And a lifetime of discovering the HUNDREDS of dollars that I can save if I buy all the generics I can handle. Light bulbs. Paper Plates. Napkins. Paper Towels. Suave Shampoo. Equate Detangler and Generic Alleve. Until I started using Ziplocs for freezing things, I would always use the cheap ones. But now that Wal-Mart has revamped their "sams choice" line to "Great Value" they have done something worse to their zipper storage bags and I returned several boxes of them to buy ziploc brand, because there is nothing worse than having 10 pounds of precooked ground chuck get freezer burned because I was too cheap to buy a bag made to withstand the abuse of freezing.

So, where am I going with this? Well, how do you save money with coupons if there are no coupons available for generic items, and you tend to buy generic? How do you save money with coupons when the a name-brand product is priced so much higher than the generic, that with the coupon, the price is then equal to or greater than the generic price is every day? I spent all that time collecting, clipping, sorting, and using a coupon just so that I could have a name brand items instead of a generic? That's okay if you really LIKE and WANT that name brand item, but what if you don't? I am happy to have coupons for Pillsbury Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls, because the generic cinnamon rolls just aren't the same. But a situation like this isn't something that I run into often. And then I run into the problem that the name-brand Items I DO like and intent to purchase, I can NOT find coupons for!?! I don't see coupons for Coke or 7-up. Rarely I find coupons for Quilted Northern. Don't find them for our dog food. Don't find them for our toothpaste. Sometimes when I am on the ball, I will make a habit of checking all the coupon sites, and the inserts from the papers at our MOPS meetings, and start online searches for specific products that I know I am going to buy. But I rarely find coupons for the items that are name brand that i actually want to buy.

I love to look at my receipt and see how much I saved. but it doesn't help me to save $10-20 if I spent 20-30 more than I normally would buying products that I normally wouldn't even use or give a second look to. Whew. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I love to shop Aldi like we did as kids.... and there aren't coupons for those items. I do like to buy Centrella or Great Value brands, and Equate, and often store brands.... and so I don't know exactly HOW I can save money and still buy generic. I wish that there were store coupons for generic items.

Okay. So those are my thoughts on the Couponizer, and I can't wait to use it!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Review of RoomMates Celestial Peel & Stick Appliques

Originally submitted at Toys R Us

Decorate in seconds with these large appliques from RoomMates! Simply peel and stick to any smooth, clean and dry surface. Unlike traditional stickers, RoomMates remove instantly without damaging the surface or leaving sticky residue. Works on walls, furniture, mirrors, windows, ceramic tiles, a...

These are AWESOME!!!

By dazed81 from Illinois on 12/9/2009


5out of 5

Pros: Cute theme, Durable, Playful Design, Easy to use

Cons: Many Loose Pieces

Best Uses: Decoration, Sleeping

Describe Yourself: Parent of Two or More Children

I put these in my two year old daughter's room. Her nursery had clouds painted on the ceiling, but when her brother moved in, she went to a plain white room. She loves these on the ceiling. It took a while to get them applied because there are lots of little pieces, but I appreciate the creativity that it allowed me, as I am particular and wanted it to look realistic. They stay put and they are beautiful in the dark. They DO glow. We have had no issues with that, but yes, it does have to be dark. I love that these make such an impact in the dark but aren't obvious in the daytime, and that they allow me to remove if necessary without damaging paint. yay!


Snow Day

I am hoping, briefly, for a little bit of peace. Marek is playing on the floor, Ardyn in her room, and I am parked on the couch watching the Duggars on my DVR.

This morning I am in plenty of pain. I have been having issues with what I believe to be a pinched nerve that is causing my hip to give out and sometimes makes it practically impossible to walk. After a couple of trips to the chiropracter last week, it was fine, but over the weekend it seems to be slipping back out of alignment, and the chiro is closed on Tuesdays (which of course is when I always notice that I need an adjustment) so today I need to go out in the cold and snow and try to get adjusted because this morning I couldn't sleep and then when I tried to get up, couldn't walk either. It's a total pain, and I mean that both literally and figuratively, because I can't do things like carry Marek or lift Ardyn onto the potty or anything like that. I can't wait until this goes away!

Right now sitting on the couch seems to be the best thing I can do, and so I am hoping that the kids cooperate and stay out of trouble. And as I type this, there goes Marek.... out of my sight. Ugh.

For some reason the kids were really wound last night. We did get in a much needed late nap... but they were still going at 10pm and showing no signs of stopping. We were kinda waiting for Daddy to get home, he's been in the fields trying to get everything done before the storm hit. Well, at just after 10pm, Marek started to show signs of exhaustion so I just put them to bed. I was exhausted myself, and really thought that I would be in bed shorttly, but I started working on folding and stuffing Christmas cards, and putting return address's on them, so pretty soon it was midnight. Then I went to bed. But since my hip had been bugging me, I didn't sleep very well. And then Ardyn woke up at 7am! She hadn't even had 8 hours of sleep. So I am already dragging today. Whenever I don't get enough sleep, I tend to get a little nauseous. I don't know why, but it's happened ever since I had the kids. So, it's not shaping up to be a fabulous day.... but oh well.

Hopefully everything will straighten out soon.

It is snowing more, but not a ton. But any snow is nice before Christmas. It puts me in good spirits.... as long as I don't have to bundle up kids and drag them around in it (in the van I mean.) We did play outside a couple of days ago. I meant to take them out yesterday, but we had a visitor, and it just ended up not happening. Today it's REALLY windy, so I don't see that happening. Not to mention that I can't WALK. LOL. I could easily lay down and sleep right now. I am hoping that since we have been up since 7am that by noon both kids will be in nap mode and I can nap also. That will really help me to feel normal again! The hard part is not nodding off while being stationary on the couch!

Yesterday we had a "christmas miracle." We always have two Christmas Eve's to go to each year, and they are always at the same time. For the first time in the 13 years we have been together, one side of the family has decided to have their celebration earlier, which makes us able to go to BOTH without rushing and stressing. I am so pleased about that!!!

I don't know what else to talk about, but this is the only thing keeping me AWAKE right now. Whew! Well, I guess I will go help Ardyn search for "Wendy" before the whole world ends over her absence.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Homemade "Giraffe Stopper" (draft stopper)

Well, if you've ever been here, you know that we have an AWESOME front porch. Beautiful windows, natural light, and it is also heated and cooled.... but has really neat old windows that open the whole place up in the spring and summer. We have white wicker furniture that is on the porch, but in a previous post, I talked about how for the winter, we decided to convert it into more of a play area. I have my sewing stuff out there now that we have two kids, because it was too difficult to get to the sewing room in the basement with both kids, and every time there was an issue (potty, diaper change, naptime, meal) we had to take a bunch of trips up and down the stairs with two kids who couldn't GO up and down the stairs without assistance. Logistically, it just did NOT work.

So,now that everything is up here, it works so much nicer, and I get a ton more actual sewing done. I also have a white table that folds in half and so I keep that out on the porch for impromptu projects, like our recent "popsicle stick Christmas trees":

And Marek's 8 month handprints that are "in progress":

And the three painted frames that I just made for Marek's room:

And even laying out large sewing projects like my mom's curtains, and the kids' "car blankets." Marek's is shown because I can't find the picture I took of Ardyn's, and they are both IN the van right now and it's freezing and the place is covered in snow, so no matter how much I want to show you, I am SO not going out there to get it to take another pic right now. They are David and Goliath cotton knits prints, with a core of "warm and natural" blanket batting, and a backside of beautiful minky fabric. I had to order all the fabrics online to find what I wanted.... and Ardyn's is pink and chocolate brown print with "chocolate chip cookies" that have muscles, and say "one tough cookie" and the backside is a pretty minky print of white with brown and two colored pink dots. Marek's in a black print with alarm clocks that says "you snooze, you lose" and has a bright kiwi green minky on the backside:
Anyway. It also houses things like the kids' "tree tent" and the Little Tykes Activity Garden, Ardyn's Desk, Marek's Pack n Play, and All the Little People toys.

So, the problem with our fabuous porch? It's rotting. Well, it's past rotting. It was rotting when we moved in here 9 years ago. The windows are so rotten that the wood is crumbling. The door has never been an "exterior door", it's just a metal storm door that leaks very badly. So, keeping it "heated" is pretty much impossible. We have all the windows covered with plastic, and we use a little ceramic heater out there when we want to use it. It's not efficient. The windows and door are scheduled to be replaced next spring and I can NOT WAIT. So because there is a big gap under the front door which allows a serious cold front (and snow) to come inside, I decided to sew my own "draft stopper."
I just made a tube of fabric. Inside I needed "weight" so I used a 1lb bag of Pinto beans. I put divided the beans into two ziplocs and put one ziploc inside on each end of the draft stopper, with poly stuffing in between. of course i ran OUT of poly stuffing, so I ended up using fleece remnants to stuff the last 12 inches or so. Then I just quick serged it shut (not pretty, but quick and functional!) The whole time I was making it, I was explaining to Ardyn what It was going to be, and no matter how hard I tried to get her to say "draft stopper" she would say "giraffe stopper" and I knew she didn't understand because she kept telling me that giraffes live in the jungle and that I was making a giraffe puppet. Yeah. eventually, I did get her to say "draft stopper" and then I showed her where it was going and the difference that it made in the amount of cold air "sneaking in" under the front door. Of course, while doing this, I was thinking about how I could sew a giant "front door" out of fabric and velcro it over the opening. But then I realized what a dork I was and how fabric really isn't going to provide much insulation.

So, we've been busy here. I apologize for not blogging more, but that's the way it goes. Hopefully more will come soon! We had playdates today and another today (at our house0 and we have played outside in the snow, and we have a visit with Santa this week and Evan is in the fields trying to get things finished!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

My Review of Ski Gear Snow Pant Womens

These do NOT fit as expected! Junior's?

By dazed81 from Illinois on 12/7/2009


2out of 5

Waist: Feels too small

Inseam: Feels true to length

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

I purchased these snowpants because I was looking for something inexpensive that I can wear in the snow with my kids. I didn't want bibs, and I wanted something that is warm and comfy, as we are in Illinois and weather can get quite cold, especially with windchill. I ordered a size XL. I wear a Large or XL in women's athletic and lounge pants, and size 14/16 in jeans. When these arrived I was so excited, but when I put them on, they fit everywhere, but the waist waas literally about two sizes too small? Now I know that I am not a tiny person, but I was shocked. These are NOT a true XL. I believe these are not women's, but more like Junior's sizes. I just want those of you who might wear a bigger size to be aware!


Thursday, December 03, 2009

The "I'm Still Alive" MeMe

Well, I am still here. I have been busy (we hosted Thanksgiving, and attended two others) and I just have not sat down to write, and facebook sucks me in when I do get online, so here is a post that Janice tagged me with, and since I adore her, I will just do as she says. LOL.

5 Things Meme

5 Things I was Doing 10 years Ago:

1. Working full-time in IT and Web Design for a local healthcare facility.
2. Sleeping as late as I wanted and going wherever I wanted without a second thought as to how that would change.
3. 5 years ago I had JUST gotten engaged and was planning our wedding and honeymoon in Vancouver, BC (Canada.)
4. I had JUST turned 26.
5. Volunteering at a local dog shelter, and the Princeton Computer User Group.

5 Things On My To-Do List Today:

Well... it's 9:30pm so I don't know if I am supposed to list things I have accomplished already or things I still have to do. I think I will go with things I still have to do.
1. Finish Decorating Christmas Tree
2. Load and Run Dishwasher
3. Wash Bras
4. Pick up Supper mess
5. Charge my Cell Phone.

5 Snacks I Love:

1. Pretzels (not fat free ones. Ick)
2. String Cheese or Avanti's Farmer Cheese
3. Apples (Braeburns, Jonathans, Honeycrisp)
4. Vanilla Ice Cream and Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes
5. Homemade Chex Mix (by me cuz I double the kick)

5 Things I Would Do If I Were A Millionaire:

1. Get a few camera lenses and a remote, and take a REAL photography class for a DSLR
2. Get a big old house in the country with several acres and remodel it to give it my own charm, fence the whole acreage in, and add a HUGE garden and a barn full of animals.
3. Have the biggest family I could stand without being in a nuthouse.
4. Buy 4 Britax carseats
5. Pay off all debt and give some to my charity of choice... then invest or save the rest

5 Jobs* I’ve Had:

1. Pre-K Teacher's Aide
2. Loss Prevention (security) officer and safety educator at an Ace Hardware Warehouse
3. Bookkeeper/Office Manager/Secretary (in several different places)
4. Landscaping/Florist/Greenhouse work
5. Grain Bin Construction and De-Construction, Soil Testing, Spraying/Chemical Mixing, Horse Caregiver on a 15 horse ranch, Crop Scout and Field Statician for Pioneer Hi-Bred, Grain Elevator Scale Bitch.

*There are so many more

5 People I Tag: (That I know will respond)

Sorry, I am just not a tagger :)
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