My FlyLady Adventure Begins

There’s nothing like a clean home . . . right? I keep hearing it.

What IS that?

I’ve got no good excuses here. My mother taught me how to clean and put things away. I just get distracted and lazy then the chaos ensues. I’m primarily writing this mess out to keep accountable to myself. I’ll feel like an idiot if I come back and read this in 6 months and haven’t made any progress. Here’s to progress! (The real kind. Not the sideways kind.)

I’m probably more organized than I’ve ever been in my life because I HAVE to be.

And I’m not all that organized . . . It’s like bare minimum.

There are some things I just can’t disconnect or get over. I’m working on it. I read this article on Apartment Therapy and I had to roll my eyes at myself yet again. It’s 8 Things to Get Rid of that You’ll Never Know Are Gone. Cute.

But .  . . there’s one thing they forgot . . . I desperately need my hundreds of books, countless pillows, and collection of mugs! Don’t they know that?! Plus, I’m GONNA finish those kid’s scrapbooks one day and I’m GONNA make that Pinterest crap. My art box is my precious. No touching. Someday. In like . . . 20 years when the kids move out I WILL get it done and it will be so glorious when it is finished that I’ll zap it through the atmosphere to whatever holographic version of Pinterest exists.

Dang. I’m a happy little ball of perpetual procrastination and pathetic excuses.

Soo . . . you see I have a problem. I all ready knew that. Nothing new about me admitting that so don’t think I’m taking a first step either. (zero points to Ravenclaw). That or I guess I’ve been stomping in place for years throwing an “I don’t wanna be a grown up” type of fit. I’ve fully embraced my own clutter and chaos since I was young. It’s chaos and clutter to everyone else but I have control of it I say. “Control”. Right.

I finally. FINALLY. had to get a decent grip on things a couple years ago (err almost 3.5 years ago, I guess) when we moved to our little bitty apartment from a nice spacious rental home out in the boonies. However, we have not only expanded our family since then but I started doing a little more work from home recently. We’re currently at a count of 5 humans plus 1 dog in our 960 sq ft space. The man also works from home on occasion. Oh, we’re also both in school. Lots of things, lots of stuff, lots of chaos to go with it.

It’s managed but it’s not manageable. Does that make sense?

Well, I write all this to say I first came across FlyLady when I was a new mom. You’d think sometime in those 4.5 freaking years I would’ve gotten everything together but life has happened and I just haven’t quite kept up. We’ve moved more than once, had more babies (which came with bed rest, illness, etc), my husband was gone for months of training, and plenty else. I piddled around with the ideas on FlyLady. Nothing stuck. Meh. I’ve moved along.

But I find myself in a position with my husband to potentially be making the decision to (be totally psycho and) stay put in this itty bitty apartment for another 1/2 a year or even longer so we can save the money we’d  otherwise be spending on moving, deposits, and higher rent/utilities towards our first actual (real-live, fancy pants) house. Oh. Yesss. We’ve lost our minds but it’s for the children and the future. ;)

After some deep introspection (IE, I had too much coffee one evening and stayed up wide awake long after everyone else was in bed) I realized that REALLY I have to STOP just harping on the place we’re in. There’s plenty to dislike but I have grass is greener syndrome in a real way. If I’m not going to go out of my way to take care of THIS home. . . . well, why would I do it for anything else? If I can’t handle this what makes me think I can handle something more?

It may sound dumb. I don’t know. But I think I feel so stuck and so frustrated because I’m so anxious to get out of here and focused on moving rather than spending energy or minimizing our chaos and taking care of what we have NOW.

About a week ago I went back to FlyLady. It’s the first thing I could think of that might give me some real direction. I’m staying home with three kids, working from home part time, and in school part time. I need my chaos to end so that I can start functioning. I need better workflow and more order. I’m the only one that can do it.

Right about that time someone in a mom group I’m in posted about it and suggested starting a separate group for the moms that wanted to work through the baby steps. Coincidence  – I think not. I can take a hint.

I know how to clean. I know how to organize. No excuses. I just need direction and motivation.

So I jumped in . . .

In the first week, I’ve done so much. It doesn’t quite look like it yet. I can’t see the finish line (and I may never) but I do KNOW that I’ve made massive strides. We’ve donated 2 huge sacks and a large box of clothes, toys, and random things. I reorganized the kid’s closet and most of their toys (work in progress). I successfully went through an ENTIRE week with a dinner menu planned out. I even restarted fewer loads of laundry. ;)

The website is a bit cheesy and basic but the concepts do work. I signed up for almost every single newsletter so I can’t avoid it when I get several things about cleaning in my inbox. It’s a “just do it” in the moment thing combined with making habits.

 

Let me just give a beginners 2 cents on some things . . .

#1 – Don’t beat yourself up over one particular baby step. It’s a set of guidelines. The idea is to improve and create routines. Personally, I’m not going to get dressed “to lace up shoes” . . . uh, ever, unless I’m going somewhere that requires lace up shoes. It’s just not happening. I hate shoes and I hate socks. I’ll be sticking to my yoga or dorm pants and tank tops unless I know I’m going somewhere. It’s just not happening. I get it – feel ready to go and clean and all that jazz. It’s cute. It really is but I’m gonna stay on planet pessimism for a while with this one. I don’t care if spit up, slobber, and dog hair constantly gets on the many pairs of yoga pants I own. Not so much the only 2 decent pairs of jeans I own. I just envision more laundry. It’s all ready a miracle to make it out in clean clothes when we’re actually going out. hahaha This particular thing may work great for YOU but I’m willing to bet some other thing will be a peeve.

#2 – Set a budget for containers, hooks, shelves, kid-proof locks, or cabinets. No one seems to acknowledge that you can’t just organize stuff by magic. The muggle life is sad like that. It does cost some money to buy the things you need so you can put crap away. Even if you buy cheap or used, if you’re limited on what you have for storage space and you have an entire home to organize it’s not going to be a $10 solution. Decluttering only goes so far unless you’re going to have nothing.

#3 – On the flipside of #2 .  . . Don’t just freaking dump like-items into buckets and drawers like I do and call it organized. I tested it out for everyone. It doesn’t work. It seems like a quick solution. It’s not. Start in small areas and find a system that gets you to get rid of some things. Making a declutter goal like spending the 15 minutes finding 15 things to donate, listing 5 things on ebay/craigslist, or picking up 30 things to throw away works for me.

 

I spent my 15 minutes in the bedroom, living room, and kitchen today on top of what I’d normally do. When I decided to make cookies everything was clean and ready to go. My dinner menu is planned for the week. I still have a lot to do. I’m behind with some things. But I’m making some huge strides and it feels fantastic!

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November 17, 2014

Funding Christmas

I all ready have ALL of my Christmas shopping done. Yep. The top of our closet is full of Christmas morning surprises. We have less than 6 weeks left to keep them hidden!

Let me start out by saying, at this point in the year I haven’t always been so prepared. (I probably still won’t have this stuff wrapped until Christmas Eve. haha!) I didn’t really know what my budget should be and sometimes I’d go overboard last minute. Sometimes I’d know of a very specific thing I wanted to buy. I did NOT want to fight through hyper-holiday-sale madness just to get some toy or product that would probably be on sale after the craziness anyway.

That said, what I’ve done to save money and pay for gifts is still a viable option.

I’ll also add that I’ll be talking primarily about buying for our kids. Although this could easily apply to whoever you’re buying for I’ll be referencing the kids throughout this post.

Also note, I don’t shop Black Friday for gifts. In my experience, most of the products available are either going to be available later on in the month anyway or will be in such high demand it will be a stressful task to get the dang thing. Nope. Not worth it.

This post is ALL about how we are affording and funding our Christmas this year. I’ll even go through and let you know what the kids are getting and what we’ve spent so far. This may be WAY more or way less than you’d normally spend.

Funding(2)

A few general tips before I get into it . . .

Before ANYTHING else: absolutely nothing beats following some great bargain pages on facebook or asking friends where the good sales are going on. Your strategy there might need to be altered a bit depending on whether you’re browsing for someone or know exactly what item you want.

Second, don’t get caught up in whirlwind sales that just seem good while you’re in the store.  If you have a phone that can do a quick google search to price match – do it. If you can go home and research it first – even better. Be aware of return policies as well! Shop around. Search online or in the paper for coupons and discounts and rebates.

Don’t hesitate to buy used. You can find like new or brand new items. I prefer yard sales and consgnment over ebay since I can see and touch it before I buy. Try it, you’ll like it!

Nothing beats personalized or handmade gifts. If you aren’t crafty or don’t feel like you have time there is a good chance there will be a craft fair nearby. Not to mention the wonder that is Etsy!

Finally, brainstorm ideas BEFORE you get in the store or start clicking through online ads. Prioritize the ideas in order if you have time. Think back on hints from the person you’re buying for. Think about what they like, what they want, and what they might need. Ask mutual family or friends what they’re considering. I don’t get the point of gift-giving if there isn’t some thought behind it.

So there’s all that. Here’s what we’ve gotten our kiddos for Christmas this year. We have NEVER done this much before. It’s a lot but it’s fun and we only get to do this a few times, right?

Shared Gifts

Alex Balance Board
Chima Lego Set
54pc marble run
Train table and Thomas set
A Bug’s Life movie
Little People train

Bitty Bug and Sweet Pea
Anna and Elsa dolls
4 dress up out fits (2 each)
Coloring books and crayons

Little Man
Green Toys Fire Truck
Cars set

Stockings
mini lego sets
bubbles

Normally, I also get them each an ornament, Christmas Eve PJs, some underwear and socks, candy, and some other little things. All of the above cost us $156. I’ll probably spend around 200-225 total to get the PJs, ornaments, and the rest.  That comes down to $75 per kid at the MOST including their stockings.

Let me break it down. Here’s the list again with some info added.

 Alex Balance Board (An Amazon lightning deal marked down to $10 that I used $8 in giftcards for so out of pocket was $2)
Chima Lego Set (a 500+ piece set we found on sale at walmart for $25, we are after the quanity of legos more than the theme of the product. Many of these sets are still on sale in a variety of stores and online)
54pc marble run (this was a lightning deal on Amazon that I bought with giftcards)
Train table and Thomas set (yard sale and consignment sale respectively: $40 for the train table and $6 for the thomas train set)
A Bug’s Life DVD (the deal I used still may be available at Target: I bought 3 boxes of cereal – note: I’d buy these anyway – and got $3 off a disney movie, this one of the few we DON’T have yet, it was $11.99 after the discount)
Little People train (another Amazon deal bought with gift cards)
Anna and Elsa dolls (These are not the fanciest ones but my girls will be thrilled. It is the barbie-doll-style set exclusive at Target. It is actually currently marked down online for $22.99. I got them for the original $25 price)
4 dress up outfits (2 each though I’m sure they’ll share, all were from the leftover Halloween outfits on sale at Walmart for $4 each. They actually STILL had some up here and at Target this weekend)
Coloring books and crayons ($8 total. I got Doc McStuffins book and crayon sets for $2 a piece off the clearance section at Walmart)
Green Toys Fire Truck (Amazon Lightning deal. I used some giftcards and paid only $5 out of pocket.)
Cars set (This was about $7. It was at Target for $14.99. The original price was around $30)

Lego Sets (these are the tiny boxes that are normally around $6-8. Found them on clearance at walmart for $4 each)

Bubbles (My earliest purchase. I got the no-spill bottles when they were on clearance after summer for less than $1)

 

HOW

So first of all you’re probably wondering where all the gift cards are coming from. I use a combination of several points-earning sites to earn giftcards. Amazon is one of my favorite places to get gift cards because it all accumulates in my account online and I can go shop at my leisure.

1) Perk

This probably earns me the most. It’s very simple. You play ads and videos (movie trailers) on your phone or tablet (doesn’t work on a computer) and you get so many “perk points” per video. You can also get points for downloading apps, taking surveys or quizzes, and things like that. My husband and I BOTH have accounts and we combine what we get. Sometimes we use it to get Walmart gift cards for gas or for Papa Johns or Dominoes on Saturdays. One of the best things about this app is that they “deliver” (via email) the gift cards much more frequently than other websites. They send them out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. If I submit points for a $10 gift card on Thursday it will be in my inbox sometime the next day. If I submit on Saturday or Sunday it will get there Monday. This makes it very convenient! You can sign up through my invite link here and I’ll get 500 points when you redeem your first reward!

2) Swagbucks

It seems like most people have heard of this site by now. Some people are tired of it and some people just haven’t tried it yet. It’s not as fast as Perk but you can earn some decent change through it. The best strategy here is to double check for potential points for things you’ll be purchasing online anyway BECAUSE that’s one of the primary ways to earn swagbucks. They’ll switch it up but say there’s 7SB per dollar on Walmart.com. If you’re buying something there for $20 (before taxes and shipping) you’ll get 140 swagbucks for that purchase. This is why I said “thing you’ll be purchasing online anyway”. 100 swagbucks roughly translates to $1. It makes no sense to go make purchases just for getting swagbucks but if you think of it as a retroactive coupon or rebate it makes some sense. NOW this is NOT the only way to earn on swagbucks! Some things just aren’t as lucrative. I’ve gotten the occasional 50-100 swagbucks for a survey, watched videos, and do searches through their engine to earn points too. I really like Swagbucks for the paypal gift cards. Every few months (without putting much effort in) I can accumulate enough for a $25 paypal card. The second best deal is the $5 amazon gift cards for 450 swagbucks. There’s a lot more to do to earn points and there are some nuances to it. You can sign up here or just click to find out more about it.

3) Bing

This is the Microsoft search engine. You have a set amount of points you can earn each day either through the regular browser or on mobile. You literally just “google” in the verb sense just NOT on Google. It’s extremely simple. It takes a few minutes tops. It’s not a big earner but I’m of the opinion that a dollar is a dollar and I won’t turn one down. haha I only have so many invite spots I can use so let me know if this link bugs out or something. P.S. If you use your Microsoft account I’m pretty sure you earn more than if you just sign up through Facebook or regular email.

4) MyPoints

I actually started using My Points for another program but then I realized they have the same shopping system as Swagbucks. They also have an email system for bonus mail and survey mail. This is not a quick earner BUT many rewards can be redeemed same-day which is fantastic. Send me a quick message and I’ll send you an invite. We’ll BOTH earn some points.

 

 

Combining the earned gift cards, sales, coupons, and cosignment/used item shopping saves us a lot of money. But all of this effort would have no direction without some planning and a budget. I had to figure out a few things before I jumped in to buying things. If I’d just gone out and gotten all of the things I chose in one sweep it would’ve cost AT LEAST $360. That’s a HUGE difference.

How Much I Want to Spend

– I had to DECIDE not only what I wanted to average per kid but total. Shared gifts are inevitable. I’m not so worried about spending $20 on one kid and $10 on another if they are getting similar things. The $$ amount is not what is important. I avoid any significantly or obviously different quality or sized items but otherwise I just stick to the overall amount and make sure things are even/fair to a reasonable point.

How Much Space We Have

– It’s one thing to get 500 new legos we all ready have space in a box for but it would be another thing if we got a 500 piece set of anything we didn’t have and that would still need to be stored. We are living in a very small space right now. It helps some to clean out the toys and donate every year too. The train table was a gamble but we figured out how to make it work. If in a few months they don’t use it we will sell it or donate it. No big deal.

What I Want the Focus to Be

– I do not like the focus on presents. I love, love buying for my kids but I don’t want them to make an atrocious list and get every single thing they want. I want them to get things they enjoy. I also don’t want to be financially burdened or stressed by TOYS. I always tend to go over the top for them but I know I can do it without going over the top of our budget. This year includes a LOT of gifts but I’m also not over spending. We’ll put emphasis on giving and take the girls to buy gifts for each other and do things for other people as we did last year. This will be more and more important as they get older and I think we’ll incorporate more into the goal of not having spoiled rotten kids. ;) If they can’t appreciate things they get because it’s not brand new noisemaker XYZ then I’m doing something wrong here.

When I Want to be DONE

– I used to kind of look sideways at anyone buying Christmas gifts in August. But you know what? They’re smarter than me. They won’t be out shopping and getting bombarded with stupid ads the entire month of December. They’ll be getting other things done and spending time with family. Sign me up! If I DO go to the mall or craft fairs I won’t be in a rush or stressed or fighting over some last thing (because there aren’t a million more being manufactured in China right now people! really?) because I’ll all ready be done. Now I’m not going to start in January buying for next Christmas and I probably won’t buy throughout the entire year since it could get out of hand but I will start buying anything I’m going to buy ahead of time. (Note: I WILL be saving $$ toward the Christmas savings ALL year. That’s a given.)

 

 

You still have 6 weeks. You don’t have to go crazy on Black Friday or wait until Christmas Eve eve to make a plan! Start earning some extra money, create a plan, make a budget and aim to stay UNDER it, but more than anything else TRY to enjoy the holidays, family, and friends! The gifts are not important. The gifts just add to the fun.

 

I won’t say Merry Christmas yet. ;)

Why I Blog

I’ve been asked a few times WHY I blog or even recently how I make money. Well, I don’t make enough on a regular basis to call it a job. I’ll say that much. But WHY I blog is something I can get into a little more . . .

#1

Really, first and foremost, it’s just what I do. I’ve always had a diary, a journal, or a blog. Remember xanga? Oh, yes. Xanga. There are worn-in notebooks FULL of my special, egotistical, teenage thoughts. I have logs of information on my childhood pets. It’s so dorky. You know those moments you think back on and you just really kind of hope a genie shows up and you can wish that one perpetually embarrassing instance away? Yeah, if it was published work I’d have multiple volumes of those moments all recorded on paper.

#2

This has been my way of connecting with people for a long time. Writing, I mean. Blogging, being invovled in forums, writing legit snail mail, instant messaging. I have a hard time communicating face to face with anyone. I get flustered and anxious. It’s always been easier for me to write (or type) my thoughts. My husband and I communicate better through letters. We have boxes full of handwritten letters from the first years of our relationship and again while he was in boot camp and training. Seeing the words feels more real to me than hearing them.

#3

Freedom, exposure, access. I don’t put myself out there in real life very much. I’m independent or a loner depending on your perspective. Blogging gives me control that I don’t have face-to-face. I don’t have to adapt my facial expressions (because my face tends to over emote, hahaha) or process my every word, tone, or twitch. I can type thoughts out without restriction and put it out there or read over it 50 times before I release it to the World Wide Web . . . or delete it. I actually stopped deleting things and kept copies elsewhere for the sake of entertaining myself later (like the preteen diaries).  So entertainment too, I guess?

#4

Compensation. Not gonna lie. I’m not rolling in dough or anything. I don’t have any secret formulas or quick-cash schemes to share but I’ve had some pretty fantastic opportunities through my blog. I’m no one fancy but apparently my opinion is worth a dollar or two to someone. I’ve received products to review, been paid for my thoughts, and hosted some cool giveaways. It’s pretty fantastic! It’s a LOT of work or I’d probably do more of it. I blogged for years before these opportunities crossed my path so it’s just been a perk for something I’ve been doing anyway.

#5

Self-expression. What better way to express yourself than to share your thoughts on things? Whether it’s a parenthood insight or some random product. Where I am limited in my household, my wardrobe, or my creative talents I am totally unlimited with writing. I can write about whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want.

 

In short: It’s a habit. I want connection, freedom, entertainment, and self-expression.

I also like the occasional compensation.

So pretty much the same reasons anyone does ANYTHING, EVER. Pretty boring and normal and typical stuff.

 

Citrus Lane Subscription Giveaway!

 

October 16, 2014

Savings in a Snap!

 

Oh, me.  That was cheesy and sad.  But, hey! You’ll remember the name! Go download the Snap app right this minute. Do it!

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Snap is the newest, shiniest coupon rebate app from the well known Groupon. It totally makes sense that they’d get in on this coupon app thing.

You can set up an account in just a few seconds through Facebook or Gmail. Oh, you don’t HAVE to use the app either. You can do this 100% online through your computer as long as you can get images of your receipts uploaded. They have some pretty simple instructions on that.

It works similarly to the others out there but there are some superb deals on there that some other apps don’t touch. Examples: $3 on huggies diapers, $1 on milk, $1 on bread.

Like Checkout 51 there is a $20 threshold. Once you reach that amount you can cash out and you’ll get a check in the mail. I submitted my first receipt for $2. (It’s still pending.)  Snap by Groupon

This app will definitely earn a spot in my couponing arsenal. If you aren’t into couponing all ready these rebate apps are a great place to start! It takes a few minutes after your shopping trip to submit receipts, select the coupons, and you’ll get the money back. It all adds up!

It does seem like the deals are in short supply and get snatched up fast so plan on being strategic and don’t put off uploading your receipts! So far, so good. We’ll see how long it takes to reach $20!

 

October 14, 2014

How We Do Halloween

I’m always interested to hear how different people do their holidays. The hubby and I did Halloween differently growing up. His family avoided it. They actually didn’t do much of anything at all. My family participated in new ways with church (the trunk or treats and fall festivals) that are now quite popular but we also learned the history and what all the symbology meant. We’ve kind of meshed our ideas together with what we want and don’t want. I’d say we do as much on this holiday as Independence Day or Thanksgiving. No big deal. Just family fun.

How We Do_

Costumes

The dress-up is one contention that people, especially Christians, seem to struggle with a lot. I don’t see the big deal. Honestly, it’s just like any other day around here. There are very few days in this house that go by without someone being a lion or butterfly or a fairy or a doctor or whatever. We don’t do the scary junk though. I’m not a big horror, scary fan anyway. I take no pleasure in it. I don’t see the point. It’s not like it’s exceptionally fun to dress up as a zombie anyway. We can do that all we want during the zombie apocalypse later. I prefer the funny or the cosplay or the cutesy. (I’m lame and I like it.) We let the kids pick out what they want now. I totally dress them up as babies to because any excuse to smoosh their heads in a cute outfit and take pictures is a priority. We’ve done a flower, minnie mouse, a dinosaur, a unicorn, princess and the pea, and batman. This year Little Man will be Captain America. The girls haven’t made decisions. Shocking news: Anna and Elsa are on their radar but they have other ideas. Sweet Pea keeps talking about being a dragon. Bitty Bug has mentioned being a “princess body”. (I think I’ve mentioned before that she has a thing for anatomy. She thinks skeletons are cool.)  “Princess body” means a skeleton with a tutu and a tiara. Yeah.

So there’s that.

Pumpkins and Jack-O-Lanterns

We learned the history of these when I was a kid. We still carved them. It’s fun! Duh! My mom used a Christian symbology for the carving and lighting the inside of the pumpkin with a candle. Rather than a ward to ghosts or ghouls it’s a welcoming light. The pumpkin represents the person. The carving represents God’s “cleaning out all our crud” (to put it delicately). The candle inside is the light of love, of course. All of this may be more relevant for older kids as they can understand the contradictions. So, we carve our pumpkins. We have painted them instead of cutting into the sides but that’s because I look at pinterest too much. Plus, littles can actually participate in painting . . . not so much . . . well, anything to do with wielding anything remotely similar to a knife or pokey stick or sharp thing.

Bonus: It’s a total sensory-rich activity: there are different textures to explore, plenty of motor skills are used with cutting/carving the pumpkin, digging all the goo and seeds out by hand is the most obvious, there’s also the heavy smells. We don’t do this but I know some people like to bake the seeds as well.

Events

We don’t do trick or treating door-to-door in the traditional sense. We go downtown or to the mall. The shops host a door-to-door “costume parade” or something similar. Set time, set place, no questionable neighborhoods. Easy peasy!

We definitely go to the pumpkin patch. We were going to go this past weekend but the weather wasn’t great. I LOVED the trips to the pumpkin patch when I was a kid. Feeding animals, hay rides, mazes, and pumpkin picking – yes, please. I love it still. We have gone to Farmland Adventures for the past few years.

Otherwise, we hang at home, enjoy company, and all that good stuff. That won’t really be happening this year since the military decided on other plans for October 31. (Helloooo! Why?!) Thankfully we can do most of our stuff a few days before and let the kids dress up more than once.

 

Yup!

So that’s the sum of Halloween for us. It’s not a big to-do. We don’t really decorate or go crazy or spend much money on anything. We avoid the creepy, scary stuff. As the kids get older I think we’ll approach it differently and talk more about things (just as we will with every other important date!).

 

How do you do Halloween? Do you do anything at all? Even if you don’t go out do you give out candy?

 

P.S. Target still has their B1G1 deal on kid’s costumes!! We got both the girl’s costumes this week for $25 (total!).

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October 14, 2014

First Twenty from Checkout 51!

I’ve written about Checkout 51 before but today I got my first twenty dollar refund check!

$20.95 to be exact. It’s just little bits at a time but it all adds up!! I’ve been using Checkout 51 since May 26. Just over 4 months and my total earnings to date are $23.95. It really doesn’t sound like much until you consider that I’ve stacked this with other rebates, coupons, and sales.

It took 3 days from the time they let me know my check was in the mail to its arrival. No complaints!

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 4.34.00 PMCheckout 51 Home

Are you using Checkout 51? How much have you saved so far?

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October 6, 2014

Response to Target Open Letter

Well, crap. I started this as a facebook post and I kept writing so I’m going to write it here instead.

Take my 2 cents for what it’s worth.

I’ve been shopping at Target more than anywhere else the last 5-6 years. It’s a favorite. No doubt.

I saw this post here shared several times on my facebook feed and finally clicked out of curiosity because my experience with Target has always been relatively positive. Even as I started to get nervous as my oldest daughter crept up closer to the girl’s department and out of the toddler department. I remember walking through another store (shopping with someone else) when she was still an infant and seeing the loads of crap in the girl’s department. Yikes!!  I was put at ease by the selection I could find at Target.

Now here me on this, the gender-dominant character thing (not really, truly neutral by some standards so I’ll use a different term because I’m special) and feminine-cut shirts I totally get and agree with. My girls (and I) LOVE our star wars, TMNT, and superheroes as much as the next person. Pink and sparkles are also beloved by my girls but it is not a requirement on every.freaking.freaking.thing.

I hate the lady-cut thing for grown women just as much as girls too. They do NOTHING good for me (or most women I know). They are usually translucent because they aren’t even paper thin. They are never long enough on the waist or arms or high enough at the chest. I pretty much need to buy 2 shirts or have a second undershirt on hand for every “tshirt” I buy. That’s a whole other thing. Blah blah blah.

I happen to buy a ton of our kid’s clothes at Target. The styles they carry are adorable. There is no rampant “diva” or “macho” mess. There’s a variety. Everything is right next to eachother so we can look at “boy’s” shirts and step right over to dresses then right over to baby stuff. I also have no problems finding conservative, age-appropriate things.

We have bought longer shorts (hit just above the knee) and capris from Target several times in the last few years. They fit very well on both of my girls too. Considering Sweet Pea (3 yrs, 3t-4t) is tall and light weight for her age and Bitty Bug (4yrs, 4t-5t or XS) is shorter and average weight for her age this makes it easier to shop. We have even bought some of these exact style of colorful, striped, short-shorts in the picture on the blog. We use them primarily under dresses or for pool/park outings. I never considered them tacky, revealing, or too short because they are for toddler/preschool girls. There’s nothing to see. They’ve always had a diaper, pull up, or underwear underneath too.

The longer, baggier shorts happen to be in style for boys which is why that’s all you can find. You know, styles change. In the 60s, men and women, boys and girls ALL wore shorter shorts. The current styles aren’t just conservatively to-the-knee either. A lot of them might as well be called capris or pants. This style, often referred to as “bermuda”, are widely available for girls as well. Well, maybe not in October. But, by February they’ll be out with the bathing suits!

(Note: I have different opinions on short-shorts on grown people.)

Boys in the same age range run freely without shirts on or in just their underwear. No one says anything about that  because there is nothing to say. Why the difference with girls? Hmm?

You also have to take into account the cut of jeans in particular. They have slim/skinny, straight, and “carpenter”/wide jeans for boys and skinny, straight, or loosefit/wide-leg for girls. You can’t just take whatever off a rack and compare sizes. That’s absurd.

Even beyond that, my 3 year old can put on her baby brother’s 18mo pants and they fit her like capris. No one is saying that my son is in oversized pants because a 3 year old fits in them or that my 3 year old is malnourished because she fits in the little pants. There’s simply not that much of a waist-size difference in young kids. As they grow, they slim up but because they’re growing there’s just not that much of a measurable difference. IME, every single brand is different. Comparing brands doesn’t really mean anything more than one may fit a particular child better than another.

You can look at the sizing charts available for different brands on Target’s website and compare the differences yourself. Here’s the Cherokee brand (source: Target.com) screenshots for easy comparison. Some of the girl’s sizes are smaller. Or, MAYBE, the boy’s sizes are bigger so the fit is more baggy. You could go either way with your perspective on this. Remember too that sizing is not based just on waist/hip measurements but also chest, inseam, AND height.Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 2.22.34 AM Screen Shot 2014-10-04 at 2.22.52 AM

Some stores have sizes determined by exactly the same measurements for both genders like Gymboree. Many do not. Some brands run small. Some run large. They are averaging out thousands and thousands of kids to determine these sizes.

 

What does this tell us?

Mass-manufacturing CANNOT predict or include every possible human size ratio.

This is why people used to make their own clothes to fit.

Or go to a seamstress.

Or order special sizes.

And still do!

 

Do some things in the clothing industry need to change? YES. HECK yes.

Is it ridiculous to assume your exact-perfect-fit and ideal digit/letter size is going to be available whether you are 2 or 42? Also, YES.

 

The inseam thing by the way . . . Average 2-6 year old inseam is anywhere from 13-18 inches. So a one inch inseam is that 1/13 to 1/18 fraction. The average woman’s inseam is around 30-34 so a 2/30 to 2/34 is nearly the same difference in coverage. However, that’s not taking the shape of an adult female body into account either. Like I said above, I don’t see them the same way on little girls as I do on grown women. Conservative/coverage issues are not the same for a 24 year old as a 4 year old.

By all means, voice opinions and point out the issues. Don’t buy the crap and put your money where your mouth is. BUT I think a lot of what’s really important (like the availability of favorite characters on tshirts for both genders #firstworldproblems) is going to be drowned out by the bullshit of comparing current styles. So sowwy for the bad, bad word.

There is crap in the boy’s AND girl’s, men’s AND women’s departments that needs to be addressed.

BUT STOP IT ALL READY WITH THE DIATRIBE!!!

P.S. NOTHING is keeping anyone from shopping in any section they choose. Buy clothes for girls in boys or for boys in girls. No gender-restriction police are going to cancel your purchase and no masculinity/femininity fairy is going to steal the clothes away in the night. No one is being withheld from buying anywhere they want in a department store. Let’s not pretend we are so excluded. If the “boy’s” spiderman shirt is what your 5 year old wants then freaking buy it. If your 7 year old wants the blue Elsa hat then buy it! Nothing is stopping you but your and your children’s need for inclusion in our current society.

Now you’re 2 cents richer. ;)

October 4, 2014

Overrated

Are we more in love with the idea of changing the world than actually changing the world?

Overrated raises many thought-provoking questions at a time where facebook-shared fundraiser and awareness challenges are more popular than pumpkins in October. If you don’t want a button-pushing, introspective experience do not read this. It will make you uncomfortable. It is written as Cho’s confession of his own shortcomings and struggles.

BookCover

The access to connection that the internet and social media offers us is creating more of a bubble instead of breaking down barriers. It’s like . . . rather than watch the movie we’re watching the trailer. We are drawing all of our ideas and beliefs from these snippets of reality. We’re our own advertising agencies: sharing the high points, masking the low points, and building creative language to paint our pictures of perfection.

“Let’s be honest here: We are into ourselves. We might not want to admit it, but if we started a fan page for ourselves, we’d click “like”. In fact, I think I did exactly that when I started my Facebook page.” – Eugene Cho, Overrated

It should be noted that this book is directed toward Christians. The author, Eugene Cho, is a pastor and founder of One Day’s Wages. Regardless, his insights are invaluable.

Definitely get your hands on this book. It’s 229 pages that will deeply interfere with your current perspectives in the best possible way. It stirred up a lot of thought in me, personally, and I will probably re-read it more than once before I really latch on to all this book encompasses. I’ll probably be questioning everything I say or do for a while and I honestly hope that switch doesn’t turn back off.

 

 Disclosure: I was given this book to read and review. All opinions shared are my own. Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this opportunity.

 

October 1, 2014

GoodReads.com

Have you been on goodreads yet? It’s like the library version of facebook. It’s all about books and I love it.

Here’s a peak:

goodreads.com

goodreads.com

I don’t have nearly as much time to read when I’m in school. I actually can’t stand it because I’m in the middle of several books right now. I got used to reading when and what I wanted over my break from classes the first 8 months of this year.

Anyway, I enjoy keeping track of where I am in my books with goodreads. It’s a pretty comprehensive site. You can rate and review books, take quizzes, and join different groups. You can create “lists” called bookshelves of your favorites and the long, long list of things you want to read. You can also see what your friends on there are reading and get book recommendations too.

It’s easy enough to connect with whatever flavor social media site you prefer. You can also hook it up to your Amazon account to keep tabs on your digital books through that.

Oh! Another cool feature is the giveaways! I actually won one book through there. Not everyone gets excited about a free book but  its right up my alley.

There are lots of other great features but these are the ones I’ve enjoyed as I’ve used it in the last few months. Click here and check it out for yourself.

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September 26, 2014