Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Survived!

Mommy's hiding behind her camera in this shot . . .trying to keep it together!  I did!  Yay!


I didn't cry until about 45 seconds after this picture was taken!!!  Which is kind of awesome - because that was my goal. 

Nate was so excited.  He woke up excited.  He could hardly eat his breakfast.  He couldn't wait to get out the door!  When Nunnu showed up to walk down to the bus stop with us, he was more than ready to go - which is more than I can say for me!

He held my hand while we walked to the bus stop.  He stood by me while we waited for the bus.  He held his sister's hand a little while I snapped a picture for Daddy:


He took a picture with Nunnu - who told him over and over how proud he was of him and what a grown up little guy he had become:

Nunnu walked down to see Nate off with me!  Love my Dad!

Then the bus turned the corner.  It was a really weird feeling . . . I've been dreading this moment for the last week or so (okay . . . maybe the last 5 years or so).  I felt my throat close up a little and my nostrils flare a bit but I was determined to NOT let Nate see me cry.  I knew I had to keep it together.  I held his hand until the bus pulled up and stopped in front of us.

I snapped a picture.  Gave him a hug and told him to give me a kiss on the cheek.  I kissed the top of his head and he turned around to start his school adventure.

He marched up the steps of the bus and introduced himself to the bus driver with no problem . . . went and took a seat without even looking back or saying goodbye.  I'm so proud of him...and I REALLY miss him.

It's going to be a long day and I can't wait to hear how his first day went!  Danika and I are making him cookies so he can have a snack when he gets back.  I'm making Mac and Cheese for dinner - with hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls . . . some of Nate's favorite food!  Then . . . we do it all over again tomorrow - except tomorrow, I have to go to work!  It will be a crazy morning for sure!




Friday, August 26, 2011

Scatterbraineditis

I'm not really sure if that is a word but if it is (or if it is indeed a real ailment) I am sure that I have it.  I can't seem to concentrate these days.  I have so many great ideas and things that I want to do, on top of the things that I HAVE to do, that I am getting nothing done.  I have a list.  I try to focus on one thing at a time . . . but I keep getting distracted.  I keep running into little people who need my attention and throw me off.  I keep saying, "I will do it as soon as I . . . " and then it never happens.  

I had a parent of one of my students (quite a few years ago) tell me that she thought I had ADHD.  Now - I don't know how you diagnose that in adults and I'm pretty sure that isn't my problem but it was kind of odd to me that someone who really doesn't know me that well would suggest I have trouble with concentration and focusing on tasks.  Was it the way that I jumped from subject to subject when we had our conference?  Was it the state of my always messy desk?  I'm not sure what prompted the comment . . . but I've thought about it every time I seem to get overwhelmed with the items on my "To Do" list.

You know what is really funny, I'm sitting here at my laptop - with at least 30 things on my To Do list - writing a blog post.  Reminds me of this . . .


I worry about the example I set for my kids, though.  I'm not a schedule person.  I want to be.  I'd love to be.  I would love to know that there is a time for everything and if I do everything in it's time it will get done and I will have my time to do things I want, too.  I just never get my butt moving enough to do it.  I never stick with it or find the motivation to stay focused and not distracted by all of the things that I want to do instead of the things I should be doing.  

Anyone know a trick?  Anyone know a sure fire way to cure someone with scatterbraineditis?  Anyone wanna come and tackle a few things on my To Do list?  How about some motivation?  Anyone just have a little bit to spare?  

I think that a big part of this is me holding on to the last few lazy summer days we have left . . . we are down to 3 - it all starts Monday...orientation week and Nate's first day on Wednesday.  Ready or not - the 2011/2012 school year is upon us.  :)
  

Monday, August 22, 2011

One Week

This is the last week of summer.  Next week we have Danika's orientation, Nate's orientation and I go back to work.  I'm sad to see summer go but excited about the upcoming school year.  I know it may not have sounded like it with my previous posts about Nate going to Kindergarten (I think I may be in denial right now) but I am excited about getting back to teaching.

This will be my 4th year at my current job.  I teach 3 year-olds.  Before I had kids, if you would have told me that I would have liked teaching 3 year-olds I would have laughed at you.  I mean . . . what can you teach a 3 year-old?  Seriously.  Especially a large group of 3 year-olds?   I had all of these preconceived ideas about a class of 3 year-olds.  I worried because I was sure that they wouldn't listen - I've met 3 year olds that are more stubborn than the most stubborn adults I know.  They have no attention span and they don't like to share.   I was also really worried that they would cry all the time and I wouldn't know how to make them feel better.

Of course, I was totally wrong.  I'm amazed at what 3year-olds can do.  I never expected to see a 3 year-old have an "ah-ha" moment like I saw when I taught 3rd grade.  BUT . . . they do!  They love being in school.  They love sharing stories and talking about things that they know about.  They love learning.  They may not have the attention span of a third grader but they can listen to a story and talk about it.  They can do a calendar activity and spend 15 minutes doing an activity before moving on to another one.

Every year I forget how hard it is for them the first few weeks of school.  Once they get in the routine, it is a piece of cake and we have a lot of fun!  Those first few weeks, though . . . they can be tough.  Some of them will be away from mom and dad for the first time.  Some of them will cry.  Some of them will cry a lot.  Some of them will have no problem playing and sharing.  Some of them will stay off to the side, quietly by themselves.  Some of them will get upset when we have to move from one room to another and clean up our toys.  Some of them will forget to stop playing long enough to take a potty break.  Some of them will cry.  (I know I said that before . . . but it's bound to happen more than once)

By the end of the year, though, it is amazing to see how much they change.  They don't get emotional about leaving the 3 year-old preschool class . . . but I always get a little choked up when the end of the year comes.  They change so much.  They grow so much in that one year.  They know things they didn't know.  They can do things they didn't do when they started.

I think that is one of the main reasons I love teaching 3 year-olds.  I love to see them grow.  As much as I loved the "ah-ha" moment in a 3rd grader . . . it is absolutely precious in a 3 year-old.  You can't help but smile when you see it.

So - the point?  I'm sad to see summer come to an end but I'm so excited to be meeting a new group of little ones to watch grow for the next 9 months!

Here's some pictures from our AWESOME summer:
Twins?  Yes...they are...really...I promise! picnikfile_DOayCL Happy Danika Nate and Danika digging in the sand Dean on the beach picnikfile_CqWuzl Slip Sliding Wee

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I need some advice . . . Back to School Shopping

I have been lucky enough to not have to buy a lot of clothes for my kids.  I have received hand me downs that were in EXCELLENT condition for Danika and I'm lucky enough to have a lot of stuff for the twins from friends and left over from Nate.  However, I think I'm going to need to go buy some clothes for Nate this year.  My MIL went with him yesterday to buy his school shoes:



She also bought Danika some really cute Mary Janes.  :)

So, that is one big expense taken care of - whew!  Now, what do I buy for school clothes?  I have no idea on this one and I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment.  How much or how many?  What exactly?  ACK!!!

My SIL told me the other day that I shouldn't stress too much about shopping before school starts because he will be wearing shorts and stuff that he wore all summer for the first month or so.  But, I don't want to miss out on good back to school shopping deals - if there are any out there and I didn't miss them already!

So ~ I'm curious (and in desperate need) to know what you all do when it comes to school shopping!

Help!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A good cry - more to follow



     So ~ Things I may have mentioned before.
    
     Nate is going to Kindergarten this year.
     I'm not dealing with it as well as I thought I would.
     I LOVE Pinterest.


With all that information, I give you this.  It made me cry for about 25 minutes while I was trying to fall asleep the other night.  It started out as a tear or two then turned into a full blown, sucking in air sob.  




I was happy to see, though, that it wasn't just me . . . the blogger who shared this also broke down when she read it...why do people put things like this on paper when they know it will only cause overly emotional mothers like me to mess up our make-up and feel like our hearts are being squeezed by Hulk Hogan?  


After reading this (at 11:30 pm) I had to sneak into Nate's room and watch him sleep for a little...I even stole a kiss and tried not to get him soak and wet with the crazy tears still streaming down my face.


August 31st is going to be a really TOUGH day . . . 

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Answer to the Question, "How did you do that?"

Lately, I've been clipping A LOT of coupons and using A LOT of coupons and saving A LOT of money.  This is not a coupon blog . . . but I've had A LOT of people ask me about coupons lately so I thought it would make sense to kind of put a little tutorial here so I can explain what I do.

3 things to remember before I start:

1) This takes time.  It isn't something that you will understand soon as you start.  You also need to build up a pretty good coupon "base" before you can start doing this.  You have to have the coupons to use them.  It takes about 3 weeks or so of saving and clipping before you have most of the coupons you need . . . even then, you won't have all of them.

2) This is NOT the only way to do this.  There are a ton of different ways and you really just have to find the one that works for you.  I have a lot of friends that coupon that do it very differently to how I do it.  I even have a friend who doesn't make a list!!!  (Which makes me cringe when I think about it!!!) That works for her but would never work for me.  My friend, Christine, over at What Little Girls Are Made Of, has agreed to put together a little guest post soon to explain how she does it - which is TOTALLY different from the way I do it, too!

3)  It does work but you have to put the time in it to learn about it and to do it right and find something that works for you!  I think all of the other times I tried couponing I wanted to do it the easiest way possible - but that way didn't work for me.  I finally found a way that works and it's a lot more effort than I thought it would be . . . but, it's also REALLY worth it and it makes sense to me.

I think a lot of people think that it is just about clipping the coupons and buying the things you have a coupon for but it's not!  You will spend more money that way because you will buy things you wouldn't normally buy at prices that aren't better than the store brand prices.  If something is on sale but the store brand still beats it after you take off the coupon then DON'T buy the brand name BUY the store brand!!!  9 times out of 10 you can't tell the difference when it is out of the package.  (I love that Giant Eagle will actually show you the price per ounce on the price tag on the shelf...PAY ATTENTION to that!!  It really will surprise you to find that the biggest bottle is sometimes way more expensive than buying 2 smaller bottles when you break it down by ounce!)

In June, I started keeping track of how much I was spending and saving because Jerry needed to be convinced that it was worth the effort.  Here's how the last 2 months broke down:

June:

  • Shelf Price - $1,038.63 (That's way over my grocery budget!!!)
  • Spent - $561.99 (MUCH better!!!)
  • Total Savings - $475.64

July:

  • Shelf Price - $1,100.00 (YIKES!)
  • Spent - $619.50 (WHEW!)
  • Total Savings - $484.46
Now . . . here's how I did it.

First of all, you have to get coupons.  We get the Red Plum insert in the mail (which makes it harder to get more of them - I usually ask my family and neighbors for theirs).  Some places actually have the Red Plum in the Sunday paper.  The P&G (Procter and Gamble) also comes in the mail for us on the first week of the month.  Again, some lucky people can get this one the first Sunday of the month in their Sunday paper.

  The Smart Source is the only insert that comes in our Sunday paper.  I always go to Giant Eagle and get this:

 
You pay $1.01 for 2 papers!  They come packaged in plastic bags and I buy 2 bags (which gives me 4 papers and 4 coupon inserts).

When I get home, I pull out all of my inserts:




 Then I stack all the like pages on top of each other - the "double" pages rip apart REALLY easily . . . just make sure you won't be ripping a coupon that you want.  I've noticed they are starting to put some in the fold of the page.



After I have them all stacked I make one big pile to clip.  I grab my scissors (these are not the scissors I use. . . I can't find my "good" scissors) and my box of assorted colored paper clips and get to work.


I just grab the like pages and cut them all together.  I only have 4 (at the most 6) and coupon paper is REALLY thin so it is pretty easy to cut.  That being said, make sure that you line up the pages and don't let them slip or you may cut through one of the bottom coupons.





Then I paper clip the 4 (or however many I have that week) together and lay them on the table in ABC order to go into my binder.


This is my least favorite "step".  I need to figure out a better way to put them in order before they go in the binder.
Then, I grab my binder:


My binder is divided alphabetically by tabs:


Each tab has trading card holders in it where I slide the coupons - I usually put non food stuff first and then food stuff...it just helps me find things a little bit faster. 


So all I do is take the 4 coupons that I paper clipped together and slide them into the empty slots:


It takes work.  I would say that it probably takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to clip coupons each week.  I don't keep them all.  The ones I don't keep I usually pass on to my friends or put in our coupon train.

Confused yet?  I hope not because the next step is a bit tougher to follow.  Here is how I make my VERY detailed list.

I start by going to the sites I know do coupon match-ups for Giant Eagle.  I only shop at Giant Eagle because I really don't have the time right now to go to a lot of other stores.  I know if I did that I would probably save a lot more money but it isn't worth it for me at this stage in the game.

I usually end up going to thecouponhigh.net for my match-ups.  I also will check coupondivas.com sometimes as well.  The match-ups will tell me what the sale price is as well as what coupons I have in my binder for those items.  Yes . . . they keep track of the coupons and tell me which ones to use!  The Coupon High also has links to internet coupons right there so that I can print them out for extra savings.  :)

I will also head over to the site couponmom.com if I have time because it will actually tell you what the percentage of savings is from the original price.  So, if I'm saving 50% or more, I know it is a good deal!  A lot of the time, though, I don't have the time to do this.

Okay, on to the list.  I head on over to The Coupon High and I copy and paste the whole list onto a word document.  Then, I go through the document and cut all of the things I won't buy. . . like dog food and Tide because we don't have a dog and Danika is allergic to Tide.  Then I print out the list.  (This actually took a lot longer to explain than it does to do).

After I print out the list, I go through the things I want to buy and see how many coupons I have for each product.  I will then write the number of coupons I have to buy the items at the price listed on the match-up...that doesn't mean I WILL buy that many but I know how many I can buy.

Then, I turn it into a table.  Yes . . . I use word and make a table to go grocery shopping.

I make it 5 columns across and usually 30 rows down.  Along the top I use the headers:


  1. Product
  2. Sale Price
  3. Coupon Value
  4. Quantity
  5. Final Price
Then, I plug things in from my list onto the chart.  I organize the chart like I was walking through the store.  I also start putting the coupons in order with the list.  Here's what the list and the grocery "chart" look like.  I cross off the items on the list as I add them to my chart:




 After I do all of that, I have a guess on how much my shopping trip is going to cost...this trip was a BIG one and I "guesstimated" it would cost about $198.64

I grab my binder and my coupons and my "chart" and head to the store (yes, I take my binder grocery shopping):



The grocery shopping trip usually goes pretty smoothly...but every once in a while I will run into something that I need a rain check for or something that doesn't match-up with what I have on my chart.  I try not to sweat it too much.  The hardest part for me is separating the coupons I use with the ones I still have to use without dropping or missing any.  I always have a pen with me and I check off my list as I go.  I also keep my eye open for things that are a good deal or things that I need that I have a coupon for in my binder.  

Today, I had coupons for the Sweet and Salty Chex Mix.  The deal was a pretty good one because I also had $2.00 off 4 General Mills Salty Snacks in an eoffer (something you will want to check out if you shop at Giant Eagle!).  They were out of the Sweet and Salty Mix.  I remembered that I had just cut out other Chex Mix coupons the day before so I went to the binder and pulled them out.  The deal wasn't as good . . . but I still got the $2.00 off with the eoffer and only bought 2 because was able to combine it with some Bugles - the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bugles are delicious!!!! I would have probably passed the whole thing up if I didn't have my binder with me.

After shopping today, this is what my cart looked like:



I really should have had 2 carts . . . but there is only one of me so I squeezed it!  Thank goodness I ran into a friend and her son to help me push it all back to the car - I did have it in 2 carts then!

Here's how I made out.  



118 items
Spent - $187.42
Saved - $143. 09

Remember, I guessed that it would be around $198 . . . so I was THRILLED when I came under!  I even got everything on the list with no rain checks needed!!!

I also earned $.50 off my next tank of gas AND got $9.00 worth of OYNO catalinas (which are coupons you can use On Your Next Order that print out at the register...You don't have to buy anything specific.  For example, I went to Giant Eagle on Sunday and bought 2 "bags" of papers and a baby shower card.  It came to $4.98 and I had a $5.00 OYNO catalina . . . I actually MADE 2 cents!  They wanted me to take a slip to the service desk to get it because I used the self check out but I said I really didn't care about the 2 cents.  :)

There you have it.  That's how I did it.  I would say that I probably spent 2 and 1/2 hours between clipping, sorting, planning meals and making my list.  So - if you figure I saved $143 doing that I made about $57 an hour.  Not too shabby, eh?

I know what some of you are thinking . . . but I don't use the stuff that there are coupons for and they never have coupons for the stuff I need.

Wanna know what I bought today?

  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Red Onions
  • Yellow Onions 
  • Garlic
  • Pringles
  • Keebler Cookies
  • Chex Mix
  • Bugles
  • Tostidos
  • Hamburger Helper
  • Nutella
  • Pam
  • Nesquick
  • Hellmann's
  • Wish Bone Dressing
  • Knorr Sides
  • Gatorade
  • Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Chicken Legs
  • Chicken Nuggets
  • Burgers
  • Frozen Pie Shells
  • Aunt Jemima Pancakes
  • Hungry Man Dinners
  • Minute Maid Juice Bars
  • Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs
  • Sour Cream
  • Crescent Rolls
  • Cinnamon Buns
  • Yogurt
  • Bacon
  • Coffee Creamer
  • Purex
  • Soft Scrub 
  • Dial Soap
All stuff I will use!  Granted, the Hamburger Helper will need a lot of doctoring for us to eat and will probably be served as sides and not a meal...there are 6 of us after all!  :)

I hope that wasn't too confusing and if you are still reading let me know you actually read the whole thing . . . this was a LONG one!



Saturday, August 6, 2011

Amazing Differences

I may have mentioned before that we are trying to sell our house.  We haven't had anyone come and look at it, yet.  However, this weekend is the Open House and, even though my Realtor told me not to get too excited, I've been trying to get the house in tip top shape in hopes that the next owner of this house will walk through the doors on Sunday and LOVE what they see.  We kind of, sort of, maybe found a house that we really like . . . so, I'm hoping even more that the next owners will find this place soon.

Anyway, on to what I've been up to.

My least favorite room in this house has ALWAYS been the bathroom.  I hated the ceramic tile on the wall.  I hated the floor that was peeling up under the sink.  I also wasn't fond of the colors at all.  The tub, toilet and sink are all baby blue.  The tiles on the wall were pink and black.  All of the trim was painted black and the wall was painted this peach/pink color with some white sponged on top of it.  Here, have a look at these before pictures:

Bathroom 1

This is the sink and the little shelf thing that use to have a door on it.  The previous owners had the door on but it was such a pain in the butt to keep opening and closing.  I took it off.  Besides, it was pretty ugly.  It's in the closet in the hall. 

BATHROOM 3

This is the tub/shower and a little bit of the toilet.  The shower curtain is all rolled up because It kept getting in my way - I should have just taken it down and thrown it away then . . . but I wasn't sure how look the bathroom would be like this and I didn't want to get paint all over a new one.

Now ~ here are some after shots:

BATHROOM4



Bathroom 2

When I showed it to our Realtor, I apologized that it wasn't in neutral colors . . . I know that's what they tell you to do if you are going to paint.  The thing is ~ I really wanted to make it stand out, which I did.  He told me that it was okay.  It was definitely an improvement and maybe it will be something that people will remember.  AKA ~ my house has become, "You remember that house with the blue and yellow bathroom?"

Here's a picture of the floor.  I didn't take a before picture of the floor because we started ripping it out before I remembered.  Trust me, this looks MUCH better!!

photo (5)

The other thing that we did this week was cover my dining room chairs!

I should have done this months ago!  I feel like I got a brand new dining room set!

When we moved into our house we had a very small circle table.  It was glass and only fit 4 chairs.  My mom now has that table in her gazebo.  Then, my SIL gave us her giant rectangle table.  It was glass and fit 6 chairs easily.  It didn't work with the kids, though.  I was so afraid they were going to get hurt on it.  Plus, it was REALLY big and didn't fit too well in this room.  I can't remember where that table ended up.  Then, my coworker at the time gave me a small, wooden table.  It worked well for a while but I still wanted a real dining room set.

When Jerry's grandmother had to see her house we ended up asking if we could have her dining room set.  Actually, Jerry's mom bought it for us from her kids.  :)

Here's what the chairs looked like when we got them:

BEFORE CHAIR

The seats had plastic on them . . . but they were all ripping and the plastic was coming off.  I mentioned to my mom that I wanted them to look nice for Open House.  Not because I'm leaving the dining room, I'm not.  I just thought that it would look better than the way they were and that it wouldn't be a distraction.

Here's the after picture:

AFTER CHAIR

HUGE difference!  HUGE!  I'm so in love with my new chairs.  AND . . . it was REALLY easy to do.  My mom did a lot of the work.  She helped me pick out the material and she cut the squares out.  Then she came down with my dad, pizza for dinner and some staple guns and we covered them!  (Oh, and it only cost $36 to do all 6 chairs . . . Plus, we have enough material left to make a valance or something for the new house!)

So ~ that's what I've been up to.

I'd really appreciate prayers and positive thoughts about tomorrow!  I am trying to not get my hopes up too much but I can't help it!  I really, really hope that someone loves our little house and wants to be the next one to call it home.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Advice I Should Have Followed and Some I'm Glad I Didn't

I was going through some papers and came across a folder that had stuff from my Bridal Shower in it.

I found the papers that I asked everyone to fill out at the shower with advice on different subjects.

I asked them to give me their best advice for a happy marriage when it comes to:

* Cooking

* Cleaning

* Fighting

* Spending Money

* In the Bedroom

* Having Kids

Some of the answers surprised me and some made me laugh.  A lot of them made perfect sense considering who wrote them!

Here are some of my favorite in each "category"


* Cooking:


- Whoever cooks, the other cleans up!  (We actually do this!  I cook and Jerry cleans!)
- Find a favorite restaurant
- Use lots of sauce
- Call for Chinese or go to your Mom's (from my MIL!)
- Burn everything so that he will want to go out all the time!
- Use a crock pot as much as possible.
- Make it with love


* Cleaning

- Always have a place to stash stuff before company comes
- Hire someone
- Learn to live with dust
- As long as the bathroom and kitchen are really clean, the rest of the house will feel clean, too.
- Don't bother - it just gets dirty again
- Pick a day to do it and don't worry about it the rest of the week!  Make Jerry do the one thing you hate most
- Live by candlelight - you can't see the dust then


* Fighting

- Use Gloves (from Memaw Naydeck!)
- Don't go to bed Mad
- Tears usually work
- Choose your battles wisely
- Try not to fight around family and friends - you may easily forgive but they may not (I actually really took this one to heart!)
- Avoid words like you always or you never
- Remember you are always right - once he apologizes and admits it, make the "making-up" fun


*Spending Money

- Spend his not yours
- Budget early so you learn to stick to it
- Pretend you are broke
- Spend some/Save some
- Always have your own "stash"
- More fun when you do it together
- Shop 'til you drop - you can't take it with you!
- Max out your charge cards (another one from Memaw!)


*In the Bedroom

- Sleep under the pillow if Jerry snores
-Buy a lock for the door once you have kids
- Don't watch TV in the Bedroom!  If you don't have distractions, in 10, 20 30 years you will still have a fabulous love life!
- A place to plan your dreams together (Love this one! Jerry and I have the best discussions in our bedroom before falling asleep!)
- Remember what I taught you both in religion class (From Sr. Marie Corde - the principal we both had in grade school!)
- Pretend you are sleeping
-HAVE FUN!  (about 30 people said this!)

*Having Kids

- Don't do it, they are too expensive
- Have puppies instead
- Don't over do it
- Have many!
- A Baker's Dozen (Memaw, again!)
- Have kids only if you want to go crazy and always be broke
- Laugh a lot and they will be happy like you
- One is never enough
- No more than two
- Remember they stay for about 30 years
- Have a boy first - it's a guy thing
- Have some - they bring lots of joy and sorrow but then . . . GRANDCHILDREN!!



I just loved looking back at these.  I'm going to put them in a book so that I can look back on them again and maybe some day give them to my kids.  :)  They will know a lot of the people who wrote out the lists.  I HIGHLY recommend doing something like this if you have a shower coming up!  I'm betting you can do something similar for a baby shower, too!  Such a great keepsake!

So - if you feel like commenting, what is the best advice you received when you were getting married, graduating or having kids?  I'd love to know!