February 2010 in Review

1st – This morning he comes in, bends over and says “bottom hurt, mommy.” And I said, “oh I’m sorry bud.” And he said, “Mommy kiss it.” Yes, my son came in the room bent over and wanted me to kiss his butt!

3rd – I got the kids cereal this morning and John pulled out a baby spoon for Lydia. She didn’t want a baby spoon, but a regular one, so I got one out for her. She took it from me and said, “My poon!”

5th – John had a speech and hearing evaluation and passed with flying colors! At one point they asked John, “Are you one?” He said, “No, Lyddie’s one.” I was so surprised.

9th – While John likes me to kiss the exact spot he gets an spot he gets hurt, Lydia wants me to kiss her feet.

11th – It snowed this morning for the first time in a while, and in fact there hasn’t been a good snow since the new year. John was so excited that as we went outside to take him to preschool he ran out into the yard and ran around in circles. “It’s snow mommy!”

-The kids and I had dinner without Aaron because I had to leave as soon as soon as he got home. I put their bowls of soup on the table and grabbed mine from the kitchen. I heard John say, “Let’s pray, Lyddie” and when I walked in the room they were holding hands and had their other ones open on the table for me to hold, and John said, “Pray mommy.” It was heart-warming.

12th – Went up Big Cottonwood Canyon to where the Donut Falls entrance is and played in the snow! We had a blast.

13th – John has a  Larry “potato head” toy that comes with “costumes”  had Larry the Cucumber has been. Well, John put the towel on him. And I heard him singing, but then he came in and said, “Where’s Larry hair brush.” I said, “I don’t know, did he give it to the peach?” “Yeah.” He walked away and came back with a cheap hair brush I’d bought for Lydia and said, “Here’s the hair brush” and started brushing his bald head!

14th – The kids had a blast with the spinning top.

19th – There are two 1-syllable words that Lydia says with two syllables… bath (bu bae) and sock (saw saw). Oh yes, and she’s bilinguil. “Lydia do you want milk?” “Si”

25th – I went to see one of my youth kids in a play he was in and ended up at the wrong high school…. but didn’t realize it was the wrong play until Friday…

26th – Just gave the kids lunch and walked away to finish laundry. I heard John say, “Let’s pray Lyddie.” And saw him grab her hand and then said something like, “Heavenly Father thank you for this food and for this pizza… gibberish… amen.”

28th – John started singing “Happy Birthday” to himself.



The secret is to stock up on things when they’re on sale and then you have them when you need them.

There are two sites to check out (at least for Utah.)

The first is TheGroceryGame.com
I got Teri’s book from the library and read it before I started, and that’s where I learned the most about couponing. This site is available everywhere, but costs $10 for 8 weeks of service for one store. (The stores available in Utah are Smith’s, Albertson’s, and Walgreens) What this site does for you is lists all good sale items and matches them with coupons. It tells you how much the original price is, what the sale price is, what the final price is (if there’s a coupon added) and the percentage off.

She recommends stocking up for 12 weeks worth of items. The theory being that every type of item goes on sale once during a 12 week rotation. Now, I don’t know if Utah’s weird, but I’ve noticed this isn’t always the case. It took 6 months for toilet paper to make the list for instance, and in the mean time it can be a little frustrating.

Because of this I switched to GrocerySmarts.com. – This site is only available for Utah, Arizona, Washington, California and Idaho. But I’m thankful I have it. The bad part is, is that you have to have a “passport” in order to access it. I found mine by a google search and “g84rcm” works for Utah. However, it is free!

What I like about Grocery Smarts is it has lists for almost every store in Utah. They’re working on getting Winco going and the only one I’ve noticed missing is Sunflower Market. The other advantage is that it has almost every sale item listed and uses a star rating so you know if it’s a good sale or a not-so-good sale. (The more stars the better.) The reason this is nice is so, if I’m running out of toilet paper and I need some, at least I can get it on a 3-star sale, instead of buying it full price (a bad sale’s better than no sale right?) Another benefit is that they list all the internet coupons as well, while Grocery Game doesn’t. (If you don’t know where to find internet coupons once you access this website, they’ll list them all, but coupons.com is the major one.)

Both sites allow you to shrink the lists down to only the items you need/want.

Now, for actual couponing. I’ve done two different strategies. The first is I bought 2 papers and cut them out weekly and filed them into different categories. I was also a part of a coupon train. I’d send out coupons I wasn’t using and receive a bunch of coupons in the mail from others. This is nice because it’s relatively easy to locate all your coupons, but time consuming.

I’m now trying the second approach. I buy 4 papers (one for each family member in the house) and I keep the full coupon books filed together. Then the website says “SS 1/31” So, I find the SmartSource coupon book that came on 1/31 (I labeled it when I got it) and cut the coupon. This saves time, but if you end up cutting out a coupon and not using it, then it can get “lost.” So, I’m still working out my bugs on this one.

Yesterday I spent about $105 and saved over $130. It was a good night. Sometimes I only save about 30% and I feel frustrated but Aaron reminds me that saving 30% is still better than nothing! He’s right, of course. 🙂

My friend at FrugalMegan.com is much more of a pro at this than I am!

Lessons I’ve Learned – Children’s Clothing

So, after 3 1/2 years of buying children’s clothing here’s what I’ve found.

Gap/Old Navy – Fits according to age better then anyone (for an average child.) But they’re lacking in letting babies look like babies. It’s like a child hit 12 months and the clothing seems too old, for my tastes.

Children’s Place – Has some awesome sales. Their toddler girl clothing is a little too bright for my taste, but I like the rest of it. Sleepers and t-shirts run small while other items tend to run big or spot on. However, their socks are THE best and should be bought in piles. I kid you not, everyone else’s socks run small, no one else compares to these socks!

Osh Gosh – Jeans run slightly longer than Old Navy, which is nice to know for taller kids (i.e. My son’s Old Navy jeans are beginning to look short, but the Osh Gosh jeans are still fitting him fine.)

Gymboree – Tends to fit right on, however I’ve never bought jeans from them. They have cute stuff and do a really good job incorporating the same line from infant to toddler to big kids. I’ve gotten some good deals, but I wish they had better sales.

Kid-to-Kid – Is definitely hit or miss. Their standards for buying clothing seems SUPER high, especially for the price they give you. But then I look at the clothing they have hanging in the store and a lot of times I’m not impressed. I’ve found stained items and dollar store items for $3 or $4. Be careful when shopping there.

Target – I love Target for little boy t-shirts. I usually can get them for about $5. Why buy a used one for $4 if I can buy new for $5? And they’re super cute. I just find that 3T and 4T sizes are hard to find. I’ve also found that their shoes are very reasonably priced, especially for tennis shoes.

Carters – I’m sure everyone knows by now that Carter’s runs a little big. They’re always the last outfits that a little one grows out of. I think they’re selection is adorable and they have good sales almost always.

Walmart – Just generally not impressed. I’ll see the occasional cute thing, but it’s far and few between.

Pajamas – I never spend more than $10 on pajamas and I can usually get them for around $6. Well, I do spend extra for their Christmas pajamas because I want them to be matching, that’s a guilty indulgence that I have.

Shoes – Crocks (or knock-offs) are awesome for kids just learning how to walk because they weigh next to nothing. Girls shoes have put me in a tizzy. I mean for 2 years John wore camouflage crocks, with the occasional brown-shoe-wearing on Sundays. But Lydia, man, she’s got a pair of shoes she wears with most outfits, but I get to Sunday and for the dress with black tights I need black shoes, and then are these tights white so I need white shoes? or are they off-white and I need off-white shoes? No those shoes are too cream. But that’s all I have. Alas, it can get difficult.

Lessons I’ve Learned – Toys

So, as a young mother with one child who couldn’t really get out his own toys, I had a small wicker toy basket that I kept in our living room. As John’s grown and we’ve added more toys, I have kept to basically one big toy box in his room. I liked the idea of sticking to one big basket/box because it made clean up easier… we just threw everything in there together. But now as John’s older and we have dinosaurs, cars, a train set, even doll sets for Lydia I’ve realized that separation is, in fact key.

Before it was all about ease in cleaning up. Now, we’re moving into a new stage of clean-as-you-go. We have not mastered this yet, but at least I can tell John, “John, pick up your train set before you play with your cars.” He’s pretty good at listening to me and being willing to pick up before he plays. The problem comes in when little sister doesn’t understand yet and dumps everything out…. then it takes us a few days to get to a clean room again. John’s 3 now and I think that’s a good age to begin to understand categorization without much help. He knows where his cars go, where the kitchen stuff goes, where the balls go, etc. I think the older the kids get, but Lydia especially the easier this will be. This method has also helped the kids enjoy their toys more too because they’re more accessible.

Bottom line: As kids reach about 3 years of age splitting sets of toys into smaller compartments is easier to keep kids’ rooms clean. While, for younger children having one big box is easier.