Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gift Cards For Christmas?

I know the topic of gift cards is touchy. Is it impersonal? Does it say I don't care? How much is cheap?
So here are my thoughts on gift cards.

~Gift cards are like cash but they limit where you can spend them.

~If you are giving a gift card to a child, cash would be better, as mom or dad could then decide how much goes into savings and how much of it they can spend.

~Since the recipients obviously won't use them until after Christmas the money you put on them will go farther since so many things will be on sale!

~The best presents are things people won't buy for themselves. If you know the person well get them a Gift card to their favorite store.

~Some people are harder to shop for and you can even buy "mall" gift cards. This is like a visa and they can spend it anywhere.

~The only down side- Just remember a gift card is essentially like cash in the essence if it gets lost it is gone~

~I don't suggest getting the in laws a gift card unless it's for a cruise! lol

So in short gift cards can be a great gift!

Smart Christmas Shopping

Okay so for those of you that didn't buy out the stores on Black Friday here are some last minute shopping tips.

~look for coupons online for the stores you are going to shop at that day. Kohl's, JCPenny's, Ect have 15% or 20% off coupons that you can just print off. There is typically no minimum purchase to use them but if you spend $100 that is $15-$20 off ; spend $200 and it becomes $30- $40 and that's worth printing a coupon for sure!

~pick up a circular when you walk into a store- often they have coupons in them you can use that day

~ask the clerk at the checkout if they have any store coupons that apply to your purchase or an extra flyer. They usually have one at the register they can scan for you when customers coupons won't scan properly. They don't tend to offer it but if you ask they often won't say no. (this works at grocery stores too)

~if you have an expired store coupon try it anyway- often stores will still honor them to get your business especially during this time of year ;)

~shop online to compare prices first so you get the best deal without having to go from store to store to look at prices and then map out your shopping route.

~make a list- it is easier to spend more when you are unfocused on what to buy.

~A lot of stores are already putting things on sale 30% off such as Target.

~Target for at least 1 is a store you can bring your receipt back to if the price of your item goes on sale in the next 7 days from purchase (does not apply to clearance items)

~and the last and best trick of all--if you are seeing anyone-coworkers, extended family, friends, after Dec 25 shop on the 26th!!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Healthy Eating on the Go

As we all know being on the go can lead to some less than healthy eating habits since it is less time consuming to stop in that drive thru than to pack a bag lunch. Some helpful tips for snacks on the go

- apples - pear-peaches- fruit is great and can usually hold for a few days in the car so when you go to the grocery store set some aside and leave the bag in the car-
~don't use bananas or berries they go bad too quickly and oranges are too messy~
- granola bars- a quick fix for a meal- leave a box in the car with the fruit- easy to eat and won't go bad and there are so many kinds!
~don't - use loose granola or cereal- when it spills it makes a mess also nutragrain bars are messy~
-bottled water- buy a 6 pack of Fiji or your preferred brand at the store and put it in the car. Also won't spoil- get a flavored kind if you can't stand plain but they come with caps so you can recap and not spill unlike soda cans~
~ don't use anything you have to mix- like crystal light- it can be messy

Bonus- Less expensive than fast food, usually can't get in a drive thru, and much healthier!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holiday Travel tips

So you are about to pack up the car and go visit grandma who is 7 hours away and its the holidays. Your 2 littlest ones are "almost" potty trained and your older one is "bored" a l l   the time.  Some helpful hints
-don't forget the bottled water and blankets, much cheaper to stock up at the grocery store before leaving than buying on the road
-pack the potty chair-especially if you have a minivan. Put it in the back seat and take it along
-the license plate game- find all the alphabet on different license plates
- the alphabet game on signs or plates
- the radio game- pick a word and whenever someone hears it and they shout it out they get to pick the next song
-bring a laptop or make sure to have some movies for the dvd players that kids will love- Cars 2 is out and its a keeper
-let the eldest help with the roadmap
-play "musical chairs"- each time you have to stop lets the kids pick new seats then they won't feel as if they have been stuck in the same place all trip long
-also you could always leave in the evening - let the kids sleep through the trip and each adult drive a "leg" of the trip so you get some sleep too!

If you have any other good car games post below!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Toys, toys, and more toys, When is enough?

Well, it's that time of year where we all go shopping and go a little overboard for the little people in our lives we love so much. So how many toys should we get these little guys for Christmas? We all know the look on their faces when they open a box with socks in it and that HUGE present is the one they want recommendations? Get each one something they reallllly want that is a splurge, then sprinkle in a few "cool toys" and close with some more traditional items such as the sweater YOU really want to give them ;) One item I always buy is a book for each child. My eldest is getting a book on drawing this year, the tots ones on shapes and colors. Too many HUGE gifts can take away from each other and this time of year is really about family, love, and time spent together~

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Library

Do you ever have those days where you just are home with the children and are looking for something to do? Try your local library. Books open the door to a whole new world, whether you are reading to your little ones or chatting about a book your older ones have read. One fun thing to do is to explore your libraries in your county. Often we use the one closest to our home to rent dvd's for free or to go for a quick trip but we have found that there are bigger libraries in our county and the children enjoy visiting the different libraries. Each library has a unique children's area with different puzzles and toys :) Some libraries even have Cafe's in them now so mom can grab a cup of hot tea or coffee :) Also remember to pick up a book of classes in your district while you are there- they have children's art classes, music, and some are a great idea for a mom's night out or a new hobby~

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quick 5 minute stir fry

Have you ever had a craving for stirfry but don't want to wait for delivery or spend an hour chopping up veggies?
Keep some grilled, cut, chicken breasts in the freezer and when you have a craving throw some in a frying pan with frozen broccoli,sweet and sour sauce, and some water chestnuts. Top with rice noodles ~

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A day in the life of a mom

 This morning started off fair enough, woke up, made the kids breakfast, and then checked my emails...3 hours later and I am still glued to my email, my cell is almost dead, and I managed to triple my workload. Ever have days like this? If so please post below :))

Monday, December 12, 2011

Natural Household Cleaners

 So the topic for this morning is household cleaners that are all natural. I know there is a huge buzz about organics and all natural items but these were actually in your parents medicine cabinet growing up and most cost under a couple of dollar each.
  • Iodine- used to clean cuts $4.00
  • Rubbing Alcohol- to get out tough stains- here is a readers digest article on rubbing alcohol $1.00
  • Hydrogen Peroxide- has antibacterial qualities and can kill some types of mold $1.00
  • Baking soda- neutralize odors, kills some molds, can even brush your teeth with it- $.44cents!!
  • White vinegar- can kill some molds, disinfectant, use to remove laundry stains- another readers digest article link $1
  • Tea tree oil- kills mold, cleans almost any stain **closer to $8
  • White gum eraser- great for taking crayon off of anything $2
Often one just reaches for the clorox wipes but if you are interested in any of the above natural products they are worth the look ~

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The first of many, many, posts :)

Today is Dec 11 2011 and I have decided to create this blog so that all may enjoy and benefit from my experiences as a parent. As we all know some days are more hectic than others, funnier than others, harder than others. I would like this blog to encompass all of that and more :)

Thank you for reading and welcome to The Family Blog...