Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tips and Hints Tuesday - Restaurants Where Your Kids Eat Free

Offers may vary, so call before you go.

Applebee's - Monday nights, kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree. (Additional kids meals are $1 each)

Denny's - From 4-10pm on select nights, kids under 10 get a free kids meal with the purchase of an adult entree.

Pizza Hut - kids 3 and under eat free from the lunch buffet.
(Real Simple - October 2010 p 217)

Chili's is ALWAYS offering kids eat free coupons and deals. Check out their website.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Money Monday - Coupon Sites That Really Save

Parents Magazine Feb. 2011 issue (p. 86)  has some good couponing sites. They weed the good from the bad.

Check out:

mommysavesbig.com - Updated printable mail-in rebates and online discount stores geared towards moms. (i.e. Kohls, Walmart)

cheapstingybargains.com - daily deals on electronics, housewares and clothing.

couponmom.com (LOVE THIS SITE) Helps you organizes sales and coupons in over 38 supermarket chains.

currentcodes.com - discount codes for over 2000 online stores. They even include stores like Babies R Us and Gymboree

Friday, January 20, 2012

Family Friday - Magic Window

I read this in a magazine and I think it makes a lot of sense. The detailed article can be found here 

I found it interesting and well-thought out. It makes the assumptions that most kids have a "magic window" in which they best comply with learning a new task or foregoing a "baby" habit. Here are some they suggest.

2-4 weeks - Give a bottle to a breast-fed baby. I started both from day one with both kids and had ZERO problems.

4-6 months - Get him to sleep through the night. I also think kids can be sleeping through the night WELL before this stage, but it makes sense to get serious about it if they aren't by this time. Both of my girls were great sleepers, though.

Around 6 months - Start solids - Agreed. People start too early. I also think they need to be started VERY gradually, and you don't need to start with rice cereal.

7-9 months - Use a sippy cup. Babies can start earlier than this, but I definitely wouldn't go later.

12-18 months -  Introduce A Lovey - I think this is interesting. I think certain kids are prone to lovies and others aren't.  Hannah couldn't care less about at attachment to anything. Emma doesn't go anywhere without her blankie and her paci. I don't know why you would want to encourage them to be attached to something if they don't have a need for it.

12-23 months - Take away the pacifier. Lord help me. I try to keep the paci and the blankie in Emma's crib for nap and bedtime, but, at 13 months, she will go in there, yank the blankie through the crib slats and point and grunt for her paci all day. *Sigh* I wonder if she'll go to Kindergarten with it.

2.5-3 years - Movie from a crib to a bed. - Agreed. Keep 'em in there as long as possible! When they learn to climb out you "Super Nanny" them into knowing they need to stay in there!

2.5 - 3 years - Potty Train - I suppose this is right, but I'll still try earlier. I hate diapers.

3-5 years - End Nap Time - Keep nap time as LONG AS POSSIBLE! Sometimes, my first grader still naps. I love nap time. Some people say their kids stop napping at 15 months. FIGHT IT!!

5-7 years  - Take off the Training Wheels - That's gonna be a battle. I think Hannah (6) has a bike that's too big for her. Her feet don't reach the ground totally and she ends up frustrated. We'll be on the late end of this one!

6-7 years - Bathe by his/herself - I still think their hair needs checked, but everything else - go for it!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tips And Hints Tuesday: Significantly Cut your Energy Bill TODAY

Pennsylvania recently passed a law that residential customers can now choose their own energy supplier. It's relatively simple. You still pay you're current company (i.e. West Penn Power or Duquesne Light) but the distribution charges drop significantly.

You could be paying over 9 cents per kWh right now.

By switching suppliers, you could cut that almost in HALF. It's only part of your bill, so you won't be paying half of your total bill, but you will see a significant decrease.

We pay Duquesne Light but our Supplier is First Energy.

We are pretty good about keeping lights off here, but I instantly saw an $18 per month reduction - and it's gone done every month so far. It costs you nothing and puts extra cash in your wallet. Look into it! But, do your homework and make sure you choose a reputable company!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Spiritual Sunday - Deep Breath

This Psalm is like a deep breath to me. It makes me feel like I can say, "Okay, it's taken care of. It's going to be alright." I hope that it gives you the same peace today.

Psalm 121

    A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.
 1 I look up to the mountains—
      does my help come from there?
 2 My help comes from the LORD,
      who made heaven and earth!
 3 He will not let you stumble;
      the one who watches over you will not slumber.
 4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
      never slumbers or sleeps.
 5 The LORD himself watches over you!
      The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
 6 The sun will not harm you by day,
      nor the moon at night.
 7 The LORD keeps you from all harm
      and watches over your life.
 8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
      both now and forever.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Scrumptious Saturday - 10 ideas for Smoothies

I love my Real Simple Magazine - and I love my smoothies!

A year ago, they included a section on smoothies. I tore out the article and I'm just getting around to sharing it with you. Follow the link for the full article. I'll just give you my favorites.


1 cup chopped ripe mango
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup ice
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt (I'd use vanilla)
1 tbsp honey

Blend in blender until smooth

344 calories


Place in blender:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews

Cover and refrigerate until cashews have softened, at least 6 hours.

Add 1 cup ice
1/2 banana (I'd use a whole banana)
1 tbsp maple syrup (I'd use honey)

Blend until smooth.

301 calories

Friday, January 13, 2012

Freebie Friday

Are you a cheapskate like me? Even if you're not, everyone loves a freebie, so here you go!

Free Panera Pastry - Just sign up for their rewards card in any store.

Free Computer Games - full version - at Miniclip.com (Sudoku, Golf Ave, and Fighter Pilot)

Free Dunkin' Donuts Coffee - TIMES TWO - enroll in their perks club at www.dunkindonuts.com/perks

Business Cards - Get 250 free from Vista Print (vistaprint.com).

Did you know that if you bring a reusable bag (or bags) to certain places THEY pay YOU????
Try it at: CVS, Target, Giant Eagle, and Whole Foods  (5 to 10 cents per bag)

How about Birthday Clubs?
Sign up online and get free birthday treats:
Here are a few that participate:

Red Robin (Yum!)
Toys R Us
Baskin Robbins
Cold Stone Creamery

Go get some freebies!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Don't tell him I told you...

Hey, I'm allowed to be gushy in my blog....So that's your warning and here I go. (He would kill me for this)...

These are some of the sweet things my husband of almost 10 years does to show me he loves me:

He starts my car and turns the heat on before I get in it.
He carries me to bed if I'm tired and laying on the couch.
He says he likes it best when I'm in sweats and no make-up.
If he's out of clothes, he does laundry and doesn't complain when I don't do it.
He can do anything that I do for the kids - and does it gladly.
He listens when I talk - which must be hard since I talk so much.
For Christmas, he hunted down a Creative Memories consultant, and met her in a parking lot so I would stop buying cheap scrapbooking albums - and bought me a nice one.
He ends every single text and phone call with "I love you."
He tells me what I need to hear.
He loves me when I'm crazy, which is often.
He tells me I'm beautiful in such a way, that I believe it.
He used to put my pajamas in the dryer to warm them before I put them on...Now he does it for Hannah, which I think is still cute. (He used to warm Emma's wipes in the microwave before changing her - so we had to get a wipe warmer.)
He brings me medicine and a hot pack if he knows my neck has been bothering me - even if I don't say anything.
I have NEVER seen a better father. He will play anything with the girls - even Barbies, if he has to!
He has taken care of me through every health issue I've ever had without complaining.
He loves Jesus and teaches our kids to love Him too.
He works hard to provide financially for our family, but leaves work at work. When he comes home, he's focused on us.
When we buy a new car, I get to drive it ;)
He let me be the mom of two amazing little girls.

I could go on all day. I always say, I know Jesus better after being with Matt because I really think he embodies what Jesus wants a man to be. I know he got the short end of the stick, but I have become more in love with him every day since he took me on that first date thirteen years ago...

Recently, I'm reminded once again of how much he sacrifices for us. I love you Matty.


High School Graduation 2000

Hannah's Second Christmas

Right after Hannah was born - 2005


Reading to the girls.

Playing with Emma at the Pumpkin Patch

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Money Monday - One Day Late

Now is the time, where you pull out last month's bank statement (if you look at that sort of thing) and try to balance your checkbook for the end of last year (if you do that sort of thing). You can probably look at your budget (if you keep one) and see the damage. Ours was lovely - especially since we took a trip to Disney!

It's a new year though. A fresh new page. Start now. Write a simple budget and try to stick to it. Get rid of that debt you put on those credit cards and cut them up. You don't need one...but that's another blog.

It's time to be organized with your finances. You have control over your money. YOU tell it what to do...Now get to it!

Now, here comes my "hanging-my-head-in-shame" moment. I forgot to turn in my Homestead Exclusion Act form last year and so it wasn't applied to my Escrow...which was short many hundreds of dollars, which not only raised the projected amount needed for Escrow, but added the shortage amount too...causing a HUGE increase in our mortgage all because I was literally 3 days late mailing the form in. I already mailed in 2 forms for 2012 just to be sure...and I'm STILL kicking myself.

So, I may seem anal and overly organized, but I make some doozies too. I just have to move on, pay for my mistake and get back on the horse. 

You do the same! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Spiritual Sunday - It's been a while

Whenever I disappear from the blog world, it seems like something is always going on. I just checked and it's been over five months since I've blogged. I'm sure most of you don't miss it as much as I do, but I always say - even though I talk A LOT, for every ONE thing I say out loud, there are TEN things I don't say. My mind is always racing.

Many of you know, for the last two months I've been struggling with mono. The disease seemed so harmless my whole life, until I found out, FINALLY, that it was my problem. I don't know if having it at an older age, makes it worse. Or, if it's the fact that I have a husband and two children and can't sleep my life away. Or, possibly my immune system is ravaged due to years of an autoimmune disease and anxiety.

The anxiety has been at an all time high. I hate it, and I need a miracle. I feel crazy sometimes. My mind can't just accept that my symptoms are due to mono and I have myself dead and in the grave every day. It's so overwhelming.

Well, I could go on about that, but today something happened inside me. Deeply. It's not that it has taken away my anxiety, cured my mono, or even made me more optimistic. But, it has given me truth to hold on to.

Today I went to church with my family. I didn't sleep well last night and was anxious this morning. I was trying hard to focus, but where I was sitting I had full view of faces of people I knew were struggling - with angst that should far surpass anything I am going through.

There was one woman in particular that I kept glancing at. Poise, beauty, strength, and faith. She is facing the biggest and most difficult journey of her life (if I may speculate.) I just kept looking at her and I just couldn't grasp how she seems to have such peace, even joy. At one point is seemed as if our eyes met and she smiled.

It broke me. I felt God speaking to my heart. He was saying - "You worry about nothing. You bring imaginary trouble to yourself and it causes your faith to teeter. You are healthy, and strong - and yet you can't trust that I am taking care of you. Look at this woman - who faces obstacles much larger than yours. Her faith is strong. Her spirit, peaceful. Her face shows true joy. Learn from this."

My fear steals the blessings God gives me every day - because I focus on them instead of the beauty that is in TODAY.

Even knowing this - I still want to fear all of the what-ifs.

But, I had the sheer HONOR of speaking with this angel of a woman today - and, both of us tearful, she  comforted me. SHE comforted ME.

I have so much to learn.

    25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[c]?
   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

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