Friday, February 25, 2011

Girly Girl?

Sydney is as girly as they come. She loves to do hair, paint her nails, put together outfits, and dance. Once in a while though, there is evidence that her big brother has some influence on her. The other day in the car she announced from the back of the suburban, "Man, I wonder why I'm farting so much today. . .I didn't even eat beans!"

Little Fishies

For the past month, we have spent our Monday and Wednesday mornings at the YMCA pool. I discovered that weekday, daytime classes are the best because they are so sparse. Syd's first 3 lessons were private lessons then a little boy added for the remainder. Derek's class only had 2 other kids in it as well. I loved how much attention they both got!
Sydney loved every minute of it and really improved as a swimmer. I don't quite trust her to swim on her own yet but she is SO close!

Derek, on the other hand, didn't love lessons. He refused to jump in and I would often hear him tell his teacher "I'm not blowing bubbles today." or whatever else he decided he didn't feel like doing.

Olivia and I hung out in the pool during their lessons and got to play with all the noodles, toys, and kick boards since they were out. That beats coming back for another lesson time and paying for a "lesson" for a baby.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Three Down. . .One to Go

For the record, I still HATE potty training. Derek has been the easiest of the kids thus far but it still sucks. Here's how it went. When school started, I decided to start working on potty training him. He was afraid of the toilet and would cry and scream "I can't try it" or "I'll do it tomorrow" every time I put him on it. I would give up and try again in a month. No progress. Then the weekend before his birthday when we went skiing with John and Lori, they gave him a bag of jelly bellys (one of his favorite treats that Norm always has at his house). The next morning, he wanted to have them for breakfast and I told him if he sat on the toilet without crying he could have ONE but if he peed, he could have TEN! For the first time ever, he sat on the toilet without crying. We did that several times with no results but by the end of the day, he successfully peed in the toilet. Much to my surprise, we only had a few accidents that first week. He hated pull-ups and refused to wear them so early on, I risked it and took him to the store or to the gym with underwear on (always with backup pants just in case). I knew we were golden when a week into training, we were at a McDonald's play place with friends and he stopped playing three times to tell me he needed to pee or poop! Even though the process was fairly short and painless this time around, I still loathe the peed laundry, the pee on the walls, rugs, etc. I don't like the stress of needing to know exactly where every toilet in Spokane is, just in case he needs to go. I don't like getting interrupted while eating lunch to wipe some one's butt. I must say though, it was a beautiful thing to go to Costco today and only buy ONE size of diapers!!! I am so close to being diaper free I can hardly wait!
(Looks like Derek has been watching Sydney pose for pictures. . .what is with the hand on the hip?)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I have a friend who likes to make a big deal out of minor holidays. Although I don't feel the same way, I am always amazed at how much time and effort goes into minor holidays. Valentine's Day was no exception. Unfortunately, most of it was for the kids. Garth and I hardly acknowledged it.
Here is what we did.
The Friday before, the kids' school put on a Valentine's Family Dance. It was actually pretty fun. I loved watching all of these uninhibited kids cutting a rug with their friends. They also had karaoke, which of course Carter was all over! He and his friends chose "You Belong to Me" by Taylor Swift. It really cracked me up to see these 4 boys singing such a girly song.

Saturday Garth and I got to sneak away to Coeur d' Alene (thanks to Jordan and Kailee for free babysitting). We went to dinner with Scott and Judy, some friends we met over the summer. It wasn't overly romantic but there were lots of laughs over dinner.

Then of course there were various heart hairdo's and matching pink outfits.

Finally on Valentines day I was in charge of Carter's class party. We did a Valentine spin on Minute to Win It games. . . don't blow the heart, balloons in the air, fanning a ping pong ball with a valentine plate, lifting lifesavers with a toothpick etc.
They were all fun, but the most entertaining was "face the cookie." I laughed so hard watching the kids twitch, wiggle, and scrunch their faces to try to get a cookie from their forehead into their mouth.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Laker of the Month

Each month the kids at school focus on a value or character trait at the end of the month, they award a few kids in each class a certificate for exemplifying that quality. They also choose one child who most exemplified the quality to be the Laker of the Month. Back in September I posted about "Sydney Carter" being given a self-manager award.

Well this month, she was chosen for Laker of the Month
and they actually got her name right! Way to go Syd!

Here she is receiving the award from her amazing and fun principal Mr. Freidman (or coach Scott as we all call him because he was Carter's soccer coach before he was their principal.)

This picture was in the little local paper the next month. She felt pretty cool.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another Birthday

Well, I am now 31! I have to admit that 30 was not kind to me. I am actually starting to feel some age creeping into my body (my back and knee to be exact). I noticed little wrinkles forming around my eyes. I am done procreating which makes me feel like I've moved into a new phase of life thus making me feel older. Although age is starting to show it's ugly face, I really had a great year. Lots of fun with my kids, an amazing trip with my husband, good health, stable job. I am very blessed. Since my birthday fell on a busy weekday, Garth made me a great dinner the Sunday before. (Thanks to Julie for the cute skirt!) Then on the weekend after I got to celebrate as well. Friday night I went to a Zumbathon. This is something new I discovered this year. Zumba is a super fun workout that I do once a week now. I like variety so I do boot camp, pilates, weight lifting, precor and Zumba each week. My friend Amina (in the blue) and my favorite instructor Alicia (in the teal next to her) told me about this Zumbathon for charity. (I am not in this photo, none of mine turned out so I stole one off Amina's facebook). There were 100+ people there and they made $1040 for a local crisis nursery. The pictures I had turned out too dark because they had the lights out with just some Christmas lights and a disco ball. My mom and sister came and we had a great time. Then Saturday my mom, sister, and I went to the Valley to do our annual birthday shopping and dinner. We had a great time! I found the black pencil skirt I have been wanting forever plus some super cute things that I didn't really need but love to add to my closet!
One of my favorite days of the year, shopping and dining with these ladies!

A Year of Couponing

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to try out this couponing thing I had been hearing about. I never took coupons to the store but I did frequently watch the ads and make dinners with ingredients that were on sale that week. I decided to start following a couple of coupon blogs to help me along and jumped right into this crazy world of couponing.
I put a folder in my kitchen to hold current coupons and current ads. I also bought a small coupon holder that fit in my purse that I filled with coupons for frequently purchased items like yogurt, cereal, and lunch meat. Already feel like a circus at the store with multiple children so I wasn't ready to take on the "coupon binder" that serious couponers take into the store.
I downloaded a savings spreadsheet that kept track of how much I spent and how much I saved with coupons, club cards, and rebates. The last time Garth and I had done a budget, was a few years ago. . .only two kids, a better economy, and no coupons. I was spending a little over $600 a month, yikes!

The Results for 2010:
I spent $6,194. (That includes all groceries, household items, cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes, etc. Basically everything but clothing and toys).
I saved $3, 420. Not too shabby. I spent an average of $515 a month.

Now, serious couponers would still say that is too high. I have discovered that WA prices are higher than Utah and Texas (two places that I have followed blogs). I also don't buy coupons on ebay to score huge amounts of good deals. I did it once or twice last year to score 80 boxes of pasta for 23 cents each and 20 boxes of free cereal. However, after reading some articles, I'm not sure I feel good about getting coupons off ebay any more.
What I learned this year:
1. There are many items that I would buy at full price when I ran out or would buy at Costco in bulk thinking it was a good deal (toothpaste, deodorant, contact solution etc.) Now I know that if you pay attention and stock up when the couponing stars align (sale + coupon) you can score these items for free or nearly free (I have a stockpile of toothpaste and deodorant that I paid 50 cents or less for.)
2. I still love Costco. They still have the best prices on a lot of things and sometimes the convenience of the place wins over running around town.
3. To save money, you must consider what is on sale at whatever store you are going to and plan your weekly meals accordingly.
4. Know your price point for items. Know if the sale price is really good by comparing it to Costco or Wal-Mart. If you find something for 50% savings or more, buy a month or year supply.
5. Rain Checks are the best! I used to think if the store was out of something, I was out of luck. Not so. I have even paid for things on a certain day to get the sale + coupon deal then picked them up the next week when they restocked their shelves.
6. I Love Rite Aid! Many of the best deals I have scored were from Rite Aid. I almost never went there before but now I realize that many of the items I would grab here and there when I was at the grocery store really added up. By taking a trip to Rite Aid every couple of weeks, I can get these items for a much better price. Once I even got 6 Covergirl face make-ups completely free (BOGO sale matched with BOGO coupon). They are the most coupon friendly store I have ever been to.
7. It takes time. Lots of people say they don't have time to coupon. I believe that we all have time to do what we think is a priority. There were many months where I made this a priority and there were other months that I went to the store with no coupons at all (to protect my sanity.)
I still have a lot to learn although I don't know if I am willing to spend much more time couponing than I currently do. It is hard to explain the rush of purchasing 15 items for $5 then getting $11 rebates and $9 off your next purchase coupons (that actually happened last week at Rite Aid!) That excitement is what keeps me clipping!