Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Cool Educational Cold Compress for the Kids

I came across this great idea on Pinterest for giving kids a medium to practice their writing their letters, numbers, shapes, etc.

Buy some cheap hair gel, (you can find some at the dollar store), put it in a gallon sized ziploc bag. Add food coloring, glitter and/or confetti, seal and mix. Let your child choose the add-ins!

I also found that you can put it in the fridge for a fun cold compress. The bag molds around your child's bumped elbow or fevered head.  If it is too cold for your child, wrap it with a cloth napkin as a buffer.

Your child will love to use this compress since they personalized and helped to make it!

Click here to be directed to Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Green Christmas Part II - Recycle!

When Christmas is over, out goes the used wrapping paper, boxes, and old Christmas cards. It seems like such a shame to throw out those beautiful cards that were sent so lovingly by family and friends. Below are some great ideas to give a 2nd life to your Christmas cards:

Christmas Themed Puzzle:

Cut a piece of cardboard so it is the same shape and size of your Christmas card. Next, cut the Christmas card in half by cutting along the fold. Glue the inside of the top half of the card to one side of the cardboard; allow it to dry. Now glue the outside of the 2nd half of the card to the back of the cardboard; allow to dry.  Take your scissors and out puzzle pieces. The difficulty of your puzzle will be determined by the age of your recipient. I'm giving this puzzle to my 2 1/2 yr old, so I will just be cutting out a few pieces.

Christmas Themed Gift Box:

This is a fun way to make a beautiful gift box. Your gift's recipient will be amazed! Click here for directions. 

Gift Tags:

Get out your favorite holiday themed cookie cutters and use them to trace shapes on the back of your card's picture.

Cut them out make a hole or slit on the top of each; string a piece of ribbon to complete!


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Decor That the Kids can Help Make

With Christmas right around the corner, it's no wonder that my pursuit to keep my 2 1/2 busy was influenced by the holidays this week. On our walks this week, I tasked Archer to collect sticks and pine cones. When we would return home from our walks, he would put his finds in an extra vase I have. This morning, we hung ornaments on the sticks. It looks beautiful and Archer is so proud that he helped to make it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

$10 Game Night

According to Hasbro, National Family Game Night was September 28th, so I'm either really late in gifting this, or really, really early for next year. I love playing board games with family and friends. My brother also shares this love, almost every time I visit him, he and his buddies are huddled over Scrabble, Taboo, etc. So I knew that this year I wanted to find another game to add to his collection.

I found another amazing deal at the fundraiser I recently attended. For $5, I was able to purchase the board game, "Non-Trival Quest".  For another $5, I was able to snag, "Battle of the Sexes - The Battle Continues" from the store Five Below. If I bought these 2 games on, it would have cost me $44.99.

Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter,(found on the right hand side), on celebrity Christmases!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gifts for Under $10 for Your Little Guys Under 5

With less than a week left till Christmas, I can knock another 2 people off my list.  I found some amazing deals for the 2 little guys in my life.

Gift for my 1st little guy:

What kid you know isn't in love with Toy Story? Combine that love with a space shooter toy and you have one very satisfied gift recipient. The best part? I didn't blow my entire $10 budget on this one only cost $5 at the store, Five Below! With the remaining money, I was able to buy 3 pairs of Toy Story socks and 2 children's book at $1 a piece. I bought the socks at Five Below and the books at the incredible fundraiser I mentioned last week. If you purchased these same items on Amazon, it would have set you back a whopping $46.17!

Gift for my 2nd little guy:

From the Little Engine That Could to Thomas the Train...I know one thing: kids love trains. I got a combination train book and toy set from my new favorite store, Five Below for $5. I also purchased a Play Doh's Toy Time Race game for $5 from the same story. If asked to describe Toy Time Race, I'd say it's our childhood favorite characters, (Mr. Potato Head, My Little Pony, etc.) meets Play Doh meets the game Sorry! If you bought these items from Amazon, you'd be looking at a total of $32.92.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Gift for the Mature Gentleman - Part II

My husband's father enjoys self-help or inspirational books, but as I mentioned in an earlier entry, $10 does not get you very far at Barnes & Noble. So, what did I do? I visited our local Dollar Tree and was able to find 2 books for him.
In pursuit of keeping within my $10 limit, I went out in search for stores that would help me reach this goal. This is how I found Five Below.  As the name implies, everything in this store is $5 or less. Many of the items are sold here at a cheaper price than if you went elsewhere. But be careful when you're here though, because in some instances, the merchandise is actually overpriced. Click here to be directed to their site.

It was here where I found a desk calendar for only $3; it normally retails for $12.99.

With the remaining $5, I purchased him a Reader's Digest subscription. If you're interested in getting this amazing deal for either yourself or a loved one, click here to be directed to the link.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Go Outside your Comfort Zone!

When I left corporate America, one thing of the things I was afraid of was falling into a dull routine with no room/time for personal growth. I mean, just because I'm a mom caring for 2 children does not negate the fact that I am still a person who wants to experience new things. (And let's be honest, changing diapers and watching Leapfrog can get a little tiring, no matter  how cute your kids are.)

So when a friend of mine bought a new motorcycle, I jumped on the opportunity to take it out for a spin.  A lot of you may be scratching your heads thinking, what's the big deal? The big deal is that I had never ridden a motorcycle before due to the simple fact that I am terrified with how I would fare if I were ever in a motorcycle accident.

I mean, come on, there are no seat belts on these things! The motorcycle industry just trusts that I'm going to hold on to the person in front of me tight enough to keep me firmly seated on a racing bike? Have you seen  cyclist take a turn? They are practically moving at a 45 degree angle. What's to stop the cycle from going down the other 45 degrees and taking my leg along with it? Have you ever seen a cyclist take a car head on and win? You know what, scratch the car, how about a rock in the middle of the road? You are totally going airborne. Rock: 1. Me: 0. All of these very valid reasons have kept me from a bike for my entire life.

So why, after just a few weeks into my gainful unemployment, did I take on something I had secretly vowed never to do? The answer is because I was more afraid of plateauing. When we become parents, our focus shifts, (and rightfully so), from us to the kids. Regardless if you work or stay home, we take the time we would have normally spent on our own development and put it towards that of our children's. So when the opportunity for me to challenge a fear of mine and broaden my experiences came along, I took it.

Is there an opportunity available that you would have normally turned down due to fear, lack of time/money, etc.? I think that as living, breathing people, we owe it to ourselves and our kids to try new things. An unhappy parent does not a happy child make. Besides, opening yourself up only encourages your child to try new things as well.

And by the way...I had a blast!!

Making sure Archer doesn't inherit my fear of the motorcycle...

Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter, (found on the right hand side), on state vs parents' rights.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Gift for the Mature Gentleman

My dad loves to read anything nonfiction about religion and politics. And nothing ereader please; paper only - thank you very much!

But $10 doesn't go very far at Barnes & Noble. Luckily for me, there was a fundraiser in my area and I was able to purchase 3 books for a whopping $3!!! These 3 books retail at B&N for a collective $54.40. With my leftover $7, I visited TJMaxx and found a long sleeve shirt, (which originally retailed for $20), in their clearance section. I got almost $75 worth of stuff for 10 bucks...not too bad if I say so myself.

Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter, found on the right hand side, regarding the hottest women of all time!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Calvin a Fraction of the Cost

Who wouldn't want a baby they love to rock out in adorable Calvin Klein ware? But who wants to pay Calvin Klein prices?   I Googled "2 piece Calvin Klein baby boy set" and found the typical range to be $30-40. (For that price, I could buy myself something nice to wear!)

Where did I find this awesome buy for only $10?  (Try finding a long sleeve shirt and a pair of jeans for $5 a pop, Calvin Klein or no, not so easy.) I found it at TJMaxx, in the clearance section. Obviously, no one can guarantee what you'll find at TJMaxx, let alone the clearance section, but I think it's definitely worth the look.  Who knows what goodies you'll find!!

There's still time to buy $20 worth of food and drinks from Tippy's Taco House in Rockville, MD, for only $10.  Click here to be directed to this deal. (The deal expires tonight at 4am.)
Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter, (found on the right hand side), regarding the best advice you've received.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

There's No Such Thing as a Free Meal, but you can get one for $10!

I normally don't post on the weekends, but this great deal is only available until tonight.

Who doesn't know someone who likes tacos? Right now, you can get $20 worth of food and drink from Tippy's Taco House in Rockville, MD for only $10!!  This is a perfect gift for anyone who likes to,, (and it's perfect for my $10 budget).

Click here to be directed to this deal.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Disconnect to Reconnect

If you keep up with my blog, you know that earlier this week I was without internet access for one day. What you didn't know was that I was without television or phone access as well. For the whole day. With an energetic 2 year old running around. And since it was a rainy day, playing outside was not an option.

So what did I do?

I spent the whole day focused on the kids. There was no Yo Gabba Gabba, Blue's Clues, or Law & Order interrupting our quality time. No checking of email or updating of Facebook statuses.  There were just books, story telling, puzzles, play doh, dancing, and make believe.

Obviously, this day was pretty tiring for me since it was constant go-go-go from 5:30am when Archer woke up till 6:30pm when hubby came home; but it was filled with many more laughs and memories. Saying this, I won't keep up this disconnected state because our modern world doesn't allow for both that level of "hermit"-tude and with being a well informed person.

I do, however, appreciate the reminder that occasionally it's nice go off the grid and do activities that  connect you on a deeper level with your family, than say, that which Angry Birds provides.
Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter, (found on the right hand side) on the criminal indiscretions of an 80 year old Lynn, MA woman.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Potty Training Boot Camp - Day One

(First off, I apologize for not updating the blog yesterday - I was having router issues and was not able to log  onto the internet.)

Yesterday I started potty training Archer. Oh. My. Gosh. At the end of the day, I was surprised that any adults are potty trained at all. This truly is hard, unnatural work. Archer might not have learned a lot today, but I certainly learned something about him.  He is a little liar.

I'm not ashamed to admit this, but I did resort to bribing my 2 1/2 yr old. I told him that if he went potty, he would get a piece of candy. The whole day we had the following conversation:

Archer: Give me my piece of candy.
Me:      Did you go potty?
Archer: I did!
Me:      Let me check.  <I check the empty potty>.
Archer: Mischievous smile. >:-)

So, this is a taste of what I'm in for, huh? If he already fibs as a preschooler, what tales is he going to spin as a high schooler?

Well, I guess I'll handle one thing at a time.  Mission Impossible I: Loose the be continued....

If I learned that my little boy bends the truth and that he posses the most adorable impish smile, I learned something about myself, as well.  I am a lot more patient than I ever believed I was.  This is knowledge I will use when dealing with life's future stressful times, (and people). And I think this is a lesson all parents can apply towards themselves.

Sometimes, I think, we just don't give ourselves enough credit.
Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter on unattended children, found on the right hand side.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Chic Key to the Past

I can cross yet another person off my Christmas list.  I got my sister a vintage key necklace.  Celebrities from Kate Moss to Tayor Swift to Naomi Watts have been spotted sporting one of these hot little items.

Since my $10 budget does not allow me to buy anything close to the price range of the necklaces adorning these celebrity necks, I had to improvise.  I went to my local antique store and bought an actual vintage key, (made between 1888 and the 1920's) for $4.24.  I bought a 20" silver box chain necklace for $5.95 from Amazon. (I have Amazon Prime, so shipping is free!)  Here's what it looks like:

I actually think it looks better than the $125 version sold by Fossil. Plus the one I created is authentic, Fossil's is a high priced replica. The below may be shiner, but the detail in the actual key is so much more profound. I'm a history geek and I love imagining stories surrounding the history of this key; what treasures did it lock away?

Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter about Amanda Knox and O.J. Simpson, found on the right hand side.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Shiny Baubles to Please your Gift's Recipient and your Wallet

I found some amazing deals on 1928 Jewelry's website for my mom.  I was able to score the following for $5 each: 

For those of you not familiar with 1928's jewelry, their pieces are perfect for those who love anything retro or vintage. (Though they do have a modern offering with their 2028 brand.) Click here to be directed to a listing of their sale items.  If you order by December 16th, shipping is free!

I think I found a really great deal here.  The necklace originally retailed for $24 and the bracelets for $18 and I snagged both for $10!

Don't forget to check out today's Conversation Starter on the right hand side!

Friday, December 2, 2011

A $10 Trend

So I can cross the first person off my Christmas list.  I found a gift that is perfect for the teenage boy who is a car enthusiast...a year's subscription to Motor Trend magazine. I found it on for $10, the link is the below.  (I did find the same subscription for a couple bucks less, but I wasn't familiar with those websites so I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.)

Click to see Motor Trend link

Too bad his interests didn't lie else where.  Right now Amazon is selling $5 subscriptions on certain magazines.  If you're interested in seeing the list, I've included the link below.  But hurry, the $5 price is only good through December 3rd.

Click to see list of $5 magazine subscriptions

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

According to the American Research Group, Inc, Americans will spend an average of $646 on Christmas gifts this year. Given my current employment status, I am going to try to do that with just $130. So who is on my Christmas list this year?

2 babies under 1;
2 male preschoolers;
1 male 14 year old;
1 female 20 year old;
1 male 22 year old;
1 male 27 year old;
1 male 31 year old;
My parents;
Hubby's parents.

If you're counting, yep, that's 13 gifts for $130.  $10 a piece.  Am I crazy? Probably, but there has to be a way to spend the holidays without spending over $600.  Here are the ground rules:

No regifting - I won't be rummaging through my closets in order to meet this goal.
No homemade gifts - Although I love my homemade pies, I can't assume everyone is into homemade gifts.
I will not be giving out any coupons that may be later redeemed  at a later date for any type of manual labor to be performed by me.
The total includes tax and any shipping costs.

As I come across my incredible buys, I'll post them here in case something I find interests someone else.  If anyone has any suggestions, please share. I'm afraid I may have made my goal a little too aggressive!!

As with everyone else, some days are more hectic for me than others.  On these days, crossing off even one item from my to-do list is an accomplishment.  Below is the daily task I will complete today; feel free to join me:

Cleaning the bathroom

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spelling and Counting and Cleaning, Oh My!

Ask anyone who knows me, I am definitely old school.  I don't own an i-Anything, or even a cell phone for that matter. So when thinking of ways to keep my 2 year old occupied, I went back to my middle school days. Remember the paper fortune tellers we used back then to figure out everything from the name of the boy we would one day marry to the occupation we would one day hold?  Well, I made one of those. (If you're interested in making one of these fortune tellers as well, check out this link for clear, easy to follow instructions: )

I colored each of the 4 outside sections a different color: red, blue, purple, and brown.  I numbered the inside flaps 1 through 8.  Where we would have normally written Johnny Depp's name or the word "doctor", I wrote down different household chores.  Here's how it went down when I played with Archer today:

Me:      Pick a color.
Archer: Purple.
Me:      P-U-R-P-L-E, (while moving the fortune teller in and out.) Now, pick a number.
Archer: That one, (pointing to the number 8 - he's 2 1/2 and can't read numbers yet).
Me:      1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.  Pick another number.
Archer: 1.
Me:      Looks like we have to clean the bedroom!
Archer: Okay, we have to clean my bedroom?
Me:      Yup, we have to go clean your bedroom, that's what the fortune teller told us to do.
Archer: Okay, we go upstairs now.

So, let me review, I went over spelling with him, counting, AND I got to clean a room. It could not have gone any better than this!

I am thinking of making another that has just dinner options so when I can't think of what to prepare, I can simply turn to my handy fortune teller for advice.  Or maybe I'll make one with titles of bedtime books so we can quickly decide what we are going to read that night, versus what currently happens, which is Archer looking through all his books before making a decision.  The possibilities are endless!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gainful Unemployment - Day 1

In order to spend more time with my 2 1/2 year old and 9 month old, I decided to put in my notice at work and stay at home with them.  I am 100% confident that staying home with them will be more demanding than anything that work could throw at me; this is why I jokingly call this new chapter in my life, "gainful unemployment".  Even though I will not be paid, I cannot put a price on the time I am going to spend with my boys="gainful".  Although I will still be exhausted by the end of the day, I will not be driving to the metro, hopping on a train, walking to a couple blocks to the office, and then working for 8-10 hours="unemployment".

Like I said earlier, I cannot put a price on the time I will spend with Archer and Alexander, but I am concerned on a few things.  After years on relying on 2 incomes, how can we survive on just 1?  After not spending any real time alone with the boys, (when they weren't in daycare, Archer & Alexander were at home with both me and hubby), how am I going to care for and develop them?  Lastly, what the heck am I going to talk to hubby about?  I would normally talk to him about the happenings at work.  Now what am I going to say?  I'm sure stories of throw up and toilet training can only keep him engaged for so long. 

This blog will chronicle my navigation into this new territory and will hopefully help others who find themselves in a similar situation.  My posts will show how I am dealing with the decrease in pay and the increase in responsibility with my children, while on the right hand side, I'll post a daily conversation starter that can come from a variety of topics, just not work.