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Friday, February 27, 2009

Frugal Tip of the Day Check out Interest Rates

Interest rates can make or break your finances. If you notice most credit cards are sky high, and most savings accounts are gutter low. But there are deals out there!!! For instance, did you know you can call your credit card company and negotiate a lower rate if you have a balance and even if you don't? Call them! If they won't help you out, check into the 0% interest cards that allow balance transfers, a lot of them are willing to give you 6 months of no interest, and low if any interest on balance transfers!

Bank Accounts: I know we are all trying to be extremely cautious with the money we do have. However, there are safe ways to make more money in different interest baring accounts. You may want to check them out. Sometimes in lieu of a Certificate of Deposit or CD which you pay penalties to withdraw early are a good idea. However if you have enough money (most banks are about $5K minimum) you can look into Money Market Savings and Money Market Checking accounts. These accounts do have the higher minimum but yield a higher percent interest, plus you can access your funds. Keep in mind that if you do go below the minimum that the interest benefits will be lost, however there is no penalty in most cases and that is important.

Finally check out some institutions like Franklin Templeton which offer funds which are also non-taxable so really that increases the benefit quite a bit since you will not have to pay taxes on the interest you earn from that account!

Miss Hannigan Moment

Do you remember Miss Hannigan from the 1982 movie Annie? Miss Hannigan (Played by Carol Burnett) was the mistress of the orphanage that Annie lived in during the Great Depression. She was mean, she was drunk, but somehow her character was able to gain the audience's sympathy.

Well I wasn't drunk, and my kids lives are not like that of an Orphanage, but darn it, I wanted nothing better than to feed them Hot Mush, no make that Cold Mush today! I came downstairs, and I nearly jumped out of my skin! All of a sudden I remembered Miss Hannigan's coined phrase, "KILL!!! KILL!!!" Of course she would never harm the children, but it certainly got her frustration across to them.

When I walked into the kitchen and saw the marker and pencil box splayed across the kitchen table with pencil shavings on the table and floor, then looked into the food prep area to see that bread crumbs covered the counter and floor, along with the smell of burnt cheese from a microwave version of a grilled cheese, I wanted so badly to scream! My neck and shoulders burned with tension and irritation. I am not sure which I was more of, tense or irritated. Mind you the girls had only come down stairs 20 minutes before me, so what the heck happened???

I asked Elise and Emma, if they saw anything wrong, and of course the deer caught in the headlights look and a "no" shake of the head, said they did. Their curious looks made me check my own ears to see if steam had in fact began escaping them. Once I was satisfied that steam was not escaping through my head, I began my check list of what was wrong. The most irritating part is, having to say it when you know that they know!!! What were my comments met with? Moans, groans, and the you're a mean old Mommy look!

I bit my tongue and refrained from the "Kill, Kill" comment, and I did not feed them mush hot or cold (partly because I am not entirely sure what it is), they got their standard waffles and eggs from their Mean old Mommy huh? Seriously though, am I completely wrong in thinking that they have a place and time for their things, and that their mess should not take over the house? I get the chills like when watching Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" when I am surrounded by mess and disorder. I am usually able to keep in the horror scream, but today was a close call.

What part of sharpen your pencils over the garbage can is too hard? Or put the markers and pencils away when they are not being used? And how many times, must I tell you that when you microwave bread it gets harder that the Rock of Gibraltar and please don't do that???? Whew! Vent finished! But seriously, am I wrong here? Mommy in my book doesn't equal Maid!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Two Girls, Two Fish, a Bean and a Beagle

Two girls, Two Fish, a Bean and a Beagle.

Our lives are so full and so busy. For moms there is just so much responsibility whether you work or stay home. For me, sometimes it makes me want to hide under the covers with my fingers plugging my ears, while singing “La, La, La, La laaaaaaaaaa”.

Between learning to read, and doing mission projects, my girls are always needing me. I knew this going in as a parent, and for the most part I truly enjoy it. But there are times, when I feel I need me time. I mean I am so good at “me time” that I must have it perfected; maybe I should copyright my “me time” experiences. LOL

I am a great pedicure seeker outer. Want a good Pedi in our area? I can tell you where to go. Need a good coffee break, I know the place! Best place to scrapbook (other than my own scrapbook room, because my girls can find me there?) I got your number!

So why? Why? Do I not take advantage of these places, and these opportunities more often? Guilt. I feel bad leaving my two girls, two fish, hubby and a beagle (Bean is rather attached or embedded at the moment so he travels with me everywhere, no escaping Bean!). What if they need me? I mean every time I go (which mind you is rarely other than my two bunco nights a month) it is like I am committing a crime! The girls give off such guilt, as though I am abandoning them! What the heck?

So I decided to sit down with the ring leader, Elise. I had to explain to her that Daddy (Colin) wants his Elli and Emma time. Colin loves our girls; to be honest I think he hopes Bean will be a Beana, because he loves being the guy in their life. They love him too, they cannot wait for Daddy, but I honestly think Elise is trying for this power trip. Well Mama is bigger, and she ain’t falling for that.

So when I ask what her deal is? Why she doesn’t want me to go? What does she say? “Well, the thing is, if you go and I stay, then I am not going and you are going, but I am staying.” Huh? That is basically all I can get out, because I am still trying to untangle that sentence in my head. Try again I tell her. “Well, I am afraid you will get into a car accident, die, and I will never see you again.” Hmmm… Good one, but I am sensing some intentional guilt coupled with a ton of BS. “Yeah, I say, so the real reason is?”
She huffs, “Fine, I just don’t think it is fair that you get to get pedicures and go with your friends why I don’t get to.” Ahhh… The truth…

Ohhhh dear Elise. “Well my dear,” I say through gritted teeth and a faux smile, as I know realize I have been played for years by this too smart for her britches kind of girl, “When you are the mommy, you will be able to do the same.” “Well, that won’t happen because I won’t be a mommy, because you said it hurts!”. Humph! Realizing that this conversation is going no where, I kiss her on her forehead, which is a lot nicer than I want to be! Then I say, “Well I will see you all later after I hit Starbucks for my frappuccino fix, get my mani/pedi, the go the scrapbook heaven store, to peruse the aisles on no schedule!”

The Moral of the story? Mom’s need our own time! We do we deserve it and we need it to maintain the sanity and give us more patience, especially when we go through all the effort to build missions for these lovely child wonders! Right? So now I no longer feel guilty about leaving my 2 girls 2 fish and a beagle. I relish my time away, as I know it will refresh me for my time back in the trenches. I love being a mom, but I can’t forget who I was before I was a mom, because I am going to need her when the children are grown and no longer need Calista the Mom.

I'mmmmm Baaaaaacccckkk! And I have a Funny!

Sorry for the ridiculously long hiatus of 3.5 days! I am here I swear! But apparently this pregnancy is kicking my tookas! I was so tired, that even checking my emails seemed like a daunting task, and for this email obsessed mama, that is saying a lot!!! So check out the next post! I'mmmm baaaaack!!!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Frugal Tip of the Day Buy Only What You Need!

So I was watching an episode of Wife Swap, and there was this family that had it's basement nearly entirely cluttered by extras of items that were on sale. Extra Soaps, extra shampoos, canned food, you name it! Now I am all for being prepared, but there comes a time when it is too much, and just because you have a coupon doesnt mean you need to spend the money because you want to have it stocked. Reevaluate your stockpile items do you really need to add to it? Are you going to need to rent a storage shed to hold it all? Maybe you should hold off then. Everyone should have a little extra, but we should all try to know when enough is enough.

Mission Discriminated!

So Elise comes home completely bummed. Apparently because the classroom cannot house 25 missions, they decided to have the class vote on which missions should stay for open house. I thought that was a little harsh being that all the kids worked so hard, and now they are being told that some are better than others. I thought they should have picked names out of a hat in fairness, however that is neither here nor there! Why? Because Elise's which caused quite a stir (and rightly so darn it!) was disqualified because it was perishable. So now this perishable parish, cannot even get it's moment in the spot light! Not only that but Mrs. C, never said anything about this vote or the open house when I asked about the krispies!!! Grrrrr!!!!

I told Elise, that the point is, it was loved by all and even though it will be trashed (what the heck else can I do with it???) it was a wonderful (gag!) experience! All the family stress..... errr Bonding, Family Bonding, was such a joy! Really, I do not think I will ever forget this experience (as it is now seered into my brain) and it's creative outlet.

So.... Don't make perishable Parishes for class, it won't be able to stay for open house! Bummer!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mission Accomplished!!!!

Let’s just get this mission breakdown out of the way:

6 small boxes of Rice Krispy Cereal (since the freaking store didn’t have the large ones: $11.34
6 bags of marshmallows (the minis because aren’t they so cute???) $6.00
1 pound of butter: $2.49 (and yes it was the good kind!)
11 rolls of Chocolate Necco Wafers (I gag at the thought) $9.79
2 Hershey Candy Bars (for Doors and Windows): $1.78
Meringue Powder for the Royal Freaking Icing: $5.49
Powdered Sugar for the Royal Freaking Icing: $1.00
Cookies for the sandy soil: $2.49
Floral Foam for Room and Bell Tower: $27.13
Paint and Glue because to hell with the Royal Freaking Icing : $4.99
Emotional Suffering and Misery: Immeasurable and therefore cannot be added to the calculations.

Mission Quantitative Total: $72.44

Yup that is right $72.44 for a freaking mission project when I could have paid $20 or less with a coupon had I known about the kits in time! OMG I will never make a mission like this again. My sanity is gone, my hair is thin, and my patience, err… well I never really had any patience but that is besides the point!

The Leaning Tower of Krispy was replaced by a Tower of Foam and graham crackers, which I will report fell promptly down with one turn of the car. IT had to be stacked in a shabby kind of way to even have some semblance of a tower.

To be honest I was ready to drop kick that dang thing into the classroom, dust off my hands, turn on my heels and scream with glee. Ding Dong, the Missions dead, La La La (sorry please excuse the horrible rendition from the Wizard of Oz.)

Anyway, Elise was thrilled to take her project in, the kids were in love with the fact that it was candy and krispy’s even though they were no longer edible. So do I get my mom of the year award yet? I mean come on! If there as any reason to go postal this project was it! Next time I am going to buy the mission 3 months ahead, set it up and call it a day, I may even hire someone to put it together for us!!! Ha! Take that 4th grade!

Sorry for the quick and lame update, but I am so tired, my eyelids feel like they are huge pillows, and speaking of pillows, I need to go get mine! After last night of staying up with my engorged beagle from over consumption of stolen pet food, Rosie has been left with a sour tummy and an equally sour disposition. Note to self: Place doggie food in a container that sneaky stealth beagles cannot get into. Well I am off. Over and out! Nap Time ya’ll!

Mission Accomplished...

Yes... the mission is accomplished. And due to the morning sickness, and treating a beagle who opened up the cabinet and gorged on her food, she is now a moaning mess much like I myself am. I promise to finish up the Mission Trilogy by this afternoon...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mission Pics (Thus Far)

Mission Front
(Note the Leaning Tower of Krispy)

Mission Side
(Note the crumbled cookies for the sandy soil, inventive right?)

4th Grade Mission Projects: Not For The Faint Of Heart, Part 2

Truss Building and Royal Icing Mortar Combat… It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty. I am still emotional from this traumatic experience, but I will try to relay last night’s events, that left me sticky, exhausted, and frustrated. Honestly, if I never see a stick pretzel again, it will be too soon.

It was about 2:45pm when we returned from school, and I decided to “ice down”, our mission mock up. When we returned home the first thing I see is that the Bell Tower had taken a tumble. I quick scoop it up and smoosh it back together before Elise sees it and has a breakdown. I made my Royal Icing (yes I like to capitalize it because it is so official sounding, isn’t it?) with meringue powder (again channeling my inner Martha), in my Kitchen Aid Mixer. Feeling very competent I put the icing in my piping bag with the string end thingy (ok maybe that isn’t the official name of the tip thing, but work with me!). I twist the end of the bag, and set off to work.

Elise holds up the krispy blocks and I begin to pipe underneath them. All of a sudden, my piping bad springs a leak, and not this little drip thing, but I mean a gusher, before I know it, the bag bursts, and my not so Royal Icing, is all over me, the blocks and the wood floor. I can feel my blood pressure rise, as I cannot stand messes, and just the mere fact that this kitchen has been taken over by this mission is difficult enough, but now I have icing all over. I count to ten and begin to clean up. With every sweep of the sponge the icing grows, and moves about, as though running from my sponge. After about 20 minutes, I finally get it cleaned up.

I count to ten again and I get another bag out, and clean off the tip of the string thingy and start all over again. I try smiling and telling Elise that this will all be over soon and that she is doing such a great job and is going to have the most unique mission (really what I couldn’t get out of my head was the Seinfeld episode where Jerry and Elaine see the ugly baby and call it special!) So I just keep smiling, and Elise not fooled, looks at me in skepticism. “No really,” I tell her, “It will be great!” I can tell, she isn’t buying it.

Finally the mission is glued down with that freaking icing. Next is on to the truss building that Colin swore would be the way to go. One after one of the stick pretzels break and disintegrate. I try to keep my blood pressure down so Bean won’t think his Mama is a Freaking Mimi, but holy guacamole, this mission will never end.

I call Colin, in absolute desperation and lack of patience. “Oh, so the pretzel trusses are not working. Now what?” Colin says, “Well I told you we needed to get the thicker pretzels” OMG Oh! No he di’nt!” (Well maybe he did, but that is beside the point! Sheesh!) “Well, dear dear Colin, “ I turn and whisper scream into the phone, “the last time, I constructed a model, was say, never, so when you get home dear lovely man, figure it out! This engineer is walking off the job!” I turn back around and smile at Elise, and say “Daddy, will be home soon sweetheart, and he has a plan!” Again with the skeptical look, what is with that kid? LOL

So Colin arrives home on his white horse, and announces that we need to go to the craft store because we will just get Styrofoam to fix this roof. What a novel idea, especially since the aforementioned kits are made out of foam! Why didn’t I go with that????? So off we go to the craft store, he finds the foam, and when we get home, he fashions roof tops, with a very thrilled Elise. Meanwhile, I am again, watching Judge Judy, and feeling my blood pressure decrease as she reams the morons who are before her.

Colin and Elise come back in from making the rooftops, and now it is my turn again. I make that dang icing and put it in the bag and we begin affixing the necco wafers for tiles, I with the icing, and Elise with the wafers. We get the lower building finished when we realize that the hunt will be on again, for more of the chocolate necco wafers as we have run out!!! So yet again we cannot finish the construction of this never ending, and patience defying project. So my kitchen is yet again commandeered by this Mission and the AWOL krispies I find everywhere! Not to mention that this morning… the Leaning Bell Tower of Krispies fell again…

To Be Continued: The Completion of the Mission, and the razing of the Leaning Bell Tower of Krispy.

Frugal Tip of the Day Save Time and Sanity

Save time and Sanity by buying your child's 4th grade Mission project in a Kit at the local craft stores, most craft stores also have coupons so utilize these to save cash, time, and the mounting frustration that building a mission on your own can cause!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

4th Grade Mission Projects: Not For The Faint Of Heart, Part 1

Mission projects... Did you know there were kits out there to complete a Mission in record time, with the model actually looking like said Mission? Novel Idea, I didn't!

Elise came home with the instructions for her mission project. There were all kinds of household items listed on what could be used. We decided we wanted to use rice krispie treats even though they were not on the list. I emailed Mrs. C, who said it was a wonderful idea! We were stoked, we were excited, we were original, we were.... INSANE!!!

Last weekend we scoured the store for the big box of Krispies... Um... Why are they all out? There were no large boxes so we were stuck with the regular boxes... 6 of them! and 6 bags of marshmallows. We had decided to use chocolate necco wafers for the roof tiles (for the record, Colin's idea) I had no idea people still ate necco wafers (and I apologize in advance to the necco people), because they are GROSS! I do not get the idea behind them, a chocolate flavored sugar cube flattened and powdered, ugh! I am having a preggo food aversion with threats of Morning sickness at the mere thought of it all!

Apparently, said chocolate necco wafers, are not very popular indeed, people prefer the multicolored fruit flavored sugar cubes flattened and powdered (oh here come the aversions again!!!!). We looked at 4 grocery stores, three drug stores, before desperately stumbling upon these faux chocolate atrocities at a freak GAS STATION???

So we go home... I carefully plot out the floor plan of Elise's mission, with her help, and with my Drafters skill (hey I took a semester in high school, I know what I am doing!). Then Elise makes the treats with Colin's help of course and they place them in cookie sheets, so we had about 6 huge sheets of treats.

We decided to allow the treats to set and harden (aka we were all just about as tired of this project as we can get already!). Then last night Colin and Elise began cutting the pieces and mocking up the mission. I went and watched TV as I had suddenly just remembered Colin's history with Model Making, and his precision orientation, which is far different from my, shall we say interpretive approach? So I decided to let the master and apprentice take over, plus Judge Judy was on, and I am a Huge Fan! (Go Judy! Go Judy! Go!) Side Note: Never Co-sign for anyone, it is one of the Judge's cardinal rules, lol!

Ok. so they mock up this mission, when it occurs to Colin, that the only way to get a realistic roof is to create Trusses. Say what? Oh and he is serious. So now, Trusses have to be built tonight out of pretzels mind you to hold the roof. OMGosh, am I ever going to survive this project???? Why didn't I buy the kit????

To Be Continued.... (in the next issue, Truss Building and Royal Icing Mortar Combat!)

Frugal Tip of the Day Save Change!!!

These days our slush funds... or kittys as some people call them (ie my grandmother, and I still don't get why) are small if even existant. So I decided to come up with a way to save $$ by saving cents (Yes I cannot find the cent sign on my keyboard, anyone with info on this please email me!). What I have begun doing, is whenever I spend cash, I put the change aside. When I get home I put the change in a jar. You would be amazed how quickly that adds up! I don't spend change anymore. I save it until I can put it into the coin wrappers, take it to the bank and cash it in for bills. That is how we get our slush built up. Just by change alone it can go up to $40 in two weeks! Try it!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


So... I haven't quite figured out, why women have to go though all the insane things in life just to freaking procreate, why Hubby, get's to sit back and say, "Now that wasn't so bad was it?". GRRRRRRR!!!!!

Today was my first OB/GYN appointment since discovering that we were unexpectedly expecting a new bean into the family. No not the legume variety. I head to the appointment, which I think is going to be standard, you know, the filling out of paper work, answering the same questions repeatedly written 50 different ways (seriously is this some kind of IQ test?). After a while, I won't lie, I actually wrote different answers, just to see if they ask me about the descrepancies... they didn't.

Then I am lead to see my doctor. Now I have done this before, but never have they done and ultrasound so early. When I found out they were going to do the "Viability check", I was instantly nervous. Like test taking nervous, sweaty palms nervous! Would I Pass? Would I Fail?

So they wheel in the Ultrasound Cart, and instead of the wand for the belly she whips out this strange, LOOOONNNNGGG attachment! I said, "What is that for?" Well I am told she needs to do an internal exam because I am so early. Say what? "You mean, that long, huge thing, is going up my Yee Haw?" "Yes, but don't worry, I put a lot of lubricant." Then I am thinking "Oh ok, lots of lube, well I need more than that! I need to add an addition on to my Yee Haw to make room for that sucker!

"A little pressure," she says. More like raming pressure, and this is not at all adding ease, now I am freaking that this thing can puncture a lung, not just my uterus! Then all of a sudden on the screen was Bean. Heart Beat fluttering away (from what they tell me, I couldn't see anything but static looking stuff, but don't tell Bean that), I try to enjoy this moment. Fear still creeps in, as I worry about my prior experience. I hope that this time, will be different from the last.

I leave the Dr. office sore, hoping it is from said "Ram", not any signs of anything going awry, but with some hope. Maybe this is the Bean we were meant to have.

Shout Out to Mommy Maestro!

This is a shout out to Mary K. Brennan, aka "The Mommy Maestro". Thank you so much for your awesome Blog, and giving me wonderful ideas for my own, ie using pictures with my posts. I love, absolutely love reading your blog! Thanks so much for the daily info and entertainment!
Haven't read her blog? Check it out!

Frugal Tip of the Day Save on Burgers!

So this frugal tip I found by accident. I was trying to make some gourmet burgers, you know how in the restaurant, the burgers actually are a good size and juicy? My burgers are home were so not cutting it. So one day I decided to add potato to it, thinking it would help hold the flavor and juices in. I grated the potato and added it to the ground beef and spices and formed my burgers. OMGosh! It totally worked! The burgers stayed the size I had made them originally, and the flavor won raves and kudos from our friends at the BBQ.

So I was telling my mom about my culinary experience, and you know what she told me? "Yes, that is nothing new, people did it all the time in the depression era to make their meats go further." Hmmmm... First I was a bit ticked that this wasn't a new and therefore marketable concept, LOL. Second, I realized that yes, I had indeed used less meat, and was also able to use less expensive ground chuck rather than ground round because the potato kept them from wasting away! So Not only did I have great burgers, (and this is how I make them every time now, because they just rock!) but I actually saved money!!! Try it!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Frugal Tip of the Day Save on Books!

Paperback Swap! Love to read? Hate to buy books, but the library has a selection less than desireable? Try you list your books and then make a list of your wish list. You pay to mail the books at media rate (most are about $1.85) when a book on your list is requested. When you request a book, you pay nothing! You can get books of the NY Times best seller list, books hard to find, and books of any genre, I believe they have over 1 million books listed! If you are an avid reader you know getting a book for under $6 is a steal! Here is a way to keep your hobby and save cash at the same time!

Sleep Over... Like a Horror Flick... Come to Life!

As I sit in the chair in our room, I hear the wind whipping around the house, rattling the flue in the fireplace in our room, and blowing rain hard upon the windows. Outside a wild storm is blowing, what trees still have leaves on them are being tossed around and their leaves ripped from their branches. It is a torrent out there, but in the sounds I find peace as what is going on within the walls of our home… is anything but… it is a SLEEPOVER!!!

Really, a sleepover is an oxymoron. It is a stay up over, or a drive mom insane over. Seriously, whatever possessed me to have a sleepover with 4 girls, has vanished and the overwhelming sense of sleep deprivation is now in full swing. I have heard giggles, laughs, spats, Horton Hears a Who, Wizards of Waverly Place, etc. I tried to concentrate on the storms fury, for an odd place to find peace but it is unmatched by 4 little girls!

Prior to the sleepover I had channeled my inner Martha. Oh I had grand ideas of treats, and dinner, and a movie night! An hour after their arrival, my hair was no longer in it’s clip, I was exhausted, and dinner hadn’t been served yet!!! Following Dinner we had to make necklaces out of candy beads, so there was the whole debate on who get’s what, so I ran in there, already ready to breath fire (Have I told you that Calista is not one with patience?). I take the beads calmly (And this is feat for me since I have now heard drama for 2 hours straight!) and disburse them evenly amongst the girls. They then string the necklaces, drop all the beads off and then must start again!!!!

Following that, I decided we needed some downtime, so Colin makes Popcorn and we set down the girls (Oh did I tell you we have 2 six year olds, a 7 year old and one 10 year old? Maybe the ages was the first mistake, but I am not too sure I am ready to admit that). We put on Horton Hears a Who. I had heard this movie was fantastic. Was it? Can’t tell you, because every 5 minutes is was “Auntie, Can I have?”, or “Mommy, Can I have?” , or me saying “Sit down, before I change my mind and it is bed time” or “Can we sit with you?”. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! I look around and Colin is no where to be found. He is smart. He is hiding! Well maybe not hiding but definitely upstairs in the comfort of his bed with the Beagle Rosie, watching real television that is not even animated! I want to be so irritated, but I can’t be, this “sleepover” was not his idea.

So finally it is bedtime. The storm is still surging, and I am thinking I will sleep with the sounds of nature outside of my room. I shut my eyes begin to think good thoughts, then feel something touch my arm, I jump and scream, as I was half way between sleep and consciousness. “Auntie… I have a bloody nose!” OMGosh! So now we are pushing 11pm. So I take my niece and get her a Kleenex and let her lay with me. Then she asks to wash her hair. What? Can’t this wait till morning? Ohhhh apparently not, because this wasn’t your average bloody nose, I feel her hair which is matted in blood, now I am grossed out! Not just regular grossed out, but Pregnant grossed out! Colin is asleep and dead to the world. Again, this was not his idea. Ugh!!! Why didn’t I listen to him???? Shhhh! Don’t tell him that!

So I take her in the bathroom to the sink, and begin to wash her hair. As I am watching it, I realize if there is this much in her hair, OMGosh what Elise’s bed must look like! I go in there, and Elise who when she sleeps is as dead to the world as Colin, is laying a half and inch from what looks to be carnage. I can’t deal! I see a blanket, and my solution is a little Scarlett O’Hare. I throw the blanket over it so I can “Think about it tomorrow!”. I come back to my room, where my niece informs me that she really wants to sleep with us. (Ohhhhhh, No!) We have a queen sized bed for a reason thank you very much! So I tell her she must sleep in the chair, which fits her fine with the ottoman it is like a twin bed. So she sleeps there…. So I think…. Finally I am off to dream world again, when again, I feel the tapping! OMGosh, now I am losing my patience, as my sanity dwindles from no freaking sleep!!! “Auntie, I really want to sleep with you” “My darling niece, get in the lovely chair, so I can get some sleep please???????”

Note to self… Sleep overs… need to wait… for years possibly. I need a nap!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Frugal Tip of the Day Save on Energy!!!

Make a deal with the kiddos! OK so it is kind of like a bribe but I choose to look at it as a reward system! Enlist your kids help in saving money on utilities. Put them in charge of saving money. Set up a goal to save a certain amount (make it reasonable) by the next bill, and then they get a reward. Have them in charge of lights, and making sure doors are shut, turning off water promptly when brushing teeth or washing dishes. You may also want to unplug the coffee pot, toaster and cell phone chargers (etc.) when they are not in use. Also check into the green choice of Florescent light bulbs rather than incandescent. Pretty soon the savings will become habit!

Friday, February 13, 2009

OMGosh I am sooooo tired!!!

OK! So! I have already written about our unexpected pregnancy, we are going to get our first glimpse at said bean next Tuesday. I will be sure to update you about that visit! Anyhow, I have not been pregnant in a good 7 years (with the exception of the miscarriage 18 months ago which I had no symptoms of pregnancy at all with that one, and it shoulda been the red flag right there!). Well I never realized how all that pregnancy stuff, and memories, can go shooting out the windows once you set eyes on that beautiful baby! But let me tell you... It does...

I was sitting on the couch yesterday... mind you this is my new campsite. I can be found here regularly, when in doubt check the couch! Anyway... I was on the couch, talking on the phone with my girlfriend, complaining about being tired and not knowing why???

She said, " You are kidding right?"

And I am like, "Um... No? Why?"

And she is like, " Well duh! You are pregnant!"

So then it occurred to me, as things more often than not do, way later. That maybe I was tired during my other pregnancies. I went to the source to find out the scoop. I called my Hubby, Colin, who sounding puzzled, clarified that I was tired during the first two. Why had I forgotten? Is this pregnancy Brain a real deal? So I went online! OMGosh, I cannot believe the Preggo Brain stories! I am not alone! I am not the only one to forget her head should it not be attached, while pregnant! I am not the only one who is soooo tired, they can barely watch their favorite shows like Grey's Anatomy, even thought it is online the next day (Thank goodness for that by the way!).

So I decided to resign my position as Couch Council President. I got my tookas up with great gumption! I unwound the cord on the vacuum, and I vacuumed like a champ! Then! Then! I went so far as to mop as well! I decided, that while I do need to rest, I cannot let this get to me! It was like a moment of empowerment, a shock to my already shocked system to say "Hey! You can do something about this!" I even went back to my inner Martha, and made heart shaped cookies, glazed them, and wrote on them for the girl's class parties today! They were so happy! After Colin made dinner (God Bless him!) I did go back to my Couch Domain, but I did it with pride! I conquered the Couch Potato-ness! I conquered the tiredness! And then! I went to bed! LOL

My daily goal is to remember that I can, be productive and rest! I cannot let this get the best of me! I may not win Mommy of the Year (Although I am pretty sure I should!LOL) but I can still be a good mommy! Here's to Mommy's who do everything through Anything! God Bless us!!!

Frugal Tip of the Day Save on Dinner OUT!

Especially with this weekend being Valentine's day so many restaurants are looking to do business with you! In general, make sure if you choose to eat out that you do it at a place offering coupons or specials! For instance, we have a local pizza place that offers BOGO (buy one get one free) on any pizza on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Sooo… Those are the nights that we do pizza, unless another place has a better deal. Scour the penny saver, or your local clipper magazine. Clipper Magazine even has coupons available online. Search for a restaurant, or shop near you at

Since this is Valentine's Weekend, many restaurants will be offering Special menus or Prix Fixe, to choose from. These menus are often more expensive than when you would go out on any given night, but also have multiple courses. Decide if a night out on V-day is in your budget, if it is shop around for the best Prix Fixe dinner pricing out there, I can guarentee you, this year, there will be some steals at some restaurants you may ordinarily not be able to go to!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Close Friends and Peripheral Friends

Oh My Goodness… I am sitting here in my office where all of my daily adventures and usually the imagined ones begin as I gaze outside to the world which amazingly continues to move ahead, even though I am not there to direct them! I suppose that sometimes I forget that my way isn’t the only way, though my darling daughters are sure to remind me of that.

Though they may remind me of that, and quite often, I am still pretty sure that though my way isn’t the only way, it can be quite often the best way. STOP it! Like you don’t feel the same about the way you think. I mean obviously we all think we are right, otherwise we wouldn’t do life the way we do, so take the hands off the hips and check this out!

Yesterday, my daughter Elise, comes home. She is excited because it was candy gram day. The day they reserve candy grams for their friends for the party prior to, Valentine’s day. I asked her if she had reserved her grams for her two close friends, the ones that have been her friend since she moved to this new school in August. No she says she reserved them for these two girls that I know she wants to be friends with because she thinks they are cool. Mind you Elise is only 10ish, but I was just shocked.

It occurred to me that children do not just inherently understand not only social graces, but how to do right by their good friends, and how they can have peripheral friends but that they are not on the same level as said good friends. As I am having this thought, and we are walking out of the school yard, Jana her good friend (not one of the candy gramed) came to see if she could play after school. Elise was more than happy of course to go do that, but it made me realize that we had to have the friend talk when she came home.

When I picked her up, I asked her about why she gramed the other two girls, and not her good friends. She said she didn’t even think about it that way. I had to explain that you only have a handful of good friends in life, and those are the ones we go above and beyond for, those are the ones that we stand up for, and those are the ones, we think about ahead of all of our other friends even if some seem cooler. We talked and I explained the whole concept of peripheral friends and close friends.

After we finished talked and she decided how she was going to right this situation, I began thinking about those two twitty cool girls. I know I am an adult and I am supposed to be beyond that, but hello? I found myself irritated that my daughter was trying to basically suck up to the cool girls, and I felt back in school again! Honestly, I will admit, that my dear Elise, is far more patient and kind than I was then or even now. There is no way I would have tried to befriend the cool kids, just on the mere fact that they think they are all that and a bag of Doritos already, so I wouldn’t have wanted to feed into their egos. Am I odd here? Should I want her to befriend the cool kids? I of course believe I am so right about this, but I am older now and willing to admit, (to you, not to Colin, so shush it!) that I may not be doing this right. Any ideas??? I mean seriously, let me know!

Frugal Tip of the Day

Back to Basics, Coupon cutting! The trick to cutting coupons, is to only cut coupons for things you would normally buy. Don’t go crazy and just buy whatever is available on coupon or you may actually end up spending more! Cut coupons, and put in a coupon organizer, try to use coupons if you can when the item is on sale also for extra savings!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Frugal Tip of the Day

Don’t just recycle, FREECYCLE!!! Go to Find a group in your area and let the swaps begin. People will offer up anything from baby clothes and supplies, to appliances and furniture. Be courteous, and make sure your first posting is an offer! Check out your groups rules and then request and offer until your heart’s content! I have received scrapbooking supplies, and swapped scrapping supplies! There is so much available out there! Check it out!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Parenting Communities

So now that I am wrapping my head around this new pregnancy, I have been doing what I do best, searching information online. There is a wealth of communities for every parenting situation and expectant parent situation out there, from adoption, to single parent, to mom’s who are not single yet feel they are too old to do this again, because the youngest won’t start Kindergarten till her oldest can drive kind of parent like me. So maybe I am still freaking… just a little. Gone are my brags about my youngest being 18 while I am only 44, now I am looking at 51. But that is OK, between the botox and the boob job that my recycling will bring me, I will still look 44… right? Yeah, maybe not.

Anyway, back to the communities. If by chance, this blog isn’t enough for you, because I know there is that chance…check out sites like or These sites offers tools like due date calculators, to baby name lists, to even journal sites where you can journal your pregnancy, giving you a voice, and letting other mom’s know they are not alone. They also have groups you can join and message with questions, or advice to others asking questions, or just everyday pregnant wonderings. There are many sites out there, check them out and see which fits for you!

These sites also have great links to savings for your new bundle of joy. You can sign up to receive free samples of formula (and these are actual containers when I signed up prior to my miscarriage, I was floored), and coupons for formula, diapers, and more. Expecting, want to be expecting, or just parenting, there is something for every season of parenting out there!

Frugal Tip of the Day

RECYCLE!!! Hey I am the first to admit that Ed Begley Jr. I am not. However, I am aware of the CRV fees that are attached to the price of my bottles of water (Gasp! Yes I buy them for the convenience sue me!), soda cans, and what not. So we recycle and it brings in extra money for our slush fund, say for the nights that the local pizza joint has a buy one get one on pizzas! Truthfully, I call it my bottles for boobs fund, because one day, I want to buy a pair! Errr... Did I say that out loud? LOL

Monday, February 9, 2009

Fugal Tip of the Day!!!

Many of us moms live close enough to walk the kids to school, yet we drive! I decided to start walking my kids to school, rather than rolling out the SUV. We walk about 1.5 miles, up and down hills in snow barefoot (lol ok maybe I made up that part!) but the 1.5 miles is correct and it takes us 15 minutes to get there. So when it isn’t raining we hit the pavement, and amazingly enough, I can get a couple extra days out of my gas tank!

Whew! Wasn't expecting this!

So, as you can tell I took a long weekend off. I deserve it, I do! I do! I have recently, aka the day I stopped blogging this week, found out, I am now expecting baby number 3! Don't worry I won't be changing the address to the blog to Three be a mom, one because it makes no sense, and two, because well, back to number one.

Anyway, I am in the very early stages, and have suffered a miscarriage before. I am being cautiously optimistic as the same time as trying to wrap my head around this new... development shall we say?

It is always nervewracking to be pregnant. For me anyway. I am not optimistic by nature, it is something I force upon myself. So today I get a call scheduling me for my prenatal "class". It always cracks me up, and just hearing it is a class, makes me want to skip it, or leave early, but I know the principal will call home! Darn it! LOL Anyway the schedule me for that and a viability check. WTHeck? I ran my tookas down to the office, and am like "Alright missy, what do you mean viability check? You are creating anxiety here, just drop the news!" Well apparently it is the new thing, to do an ultrasound at the same time as the class. Well hello????? I think they need to skip the V-word! Really, to anyone who has suffered a miscarriage, the V-word is super dreaded.

So I was soul searching amongst my feelings of surprise, anxiety, and worry. Why does pregnancy scare me? I had to admit... don't tell Colin... It is a complete lack of control. I can do very little, either this happens or it doesn't. There is little I can do once conception to make things alright. A lack of control, for dear old Calista... ugh! It is like Torture!!!

So that is my news! I will keep you updated!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Is Your Child Ready For Kindergarten?

To many this isn’t even a question. They turn five they start Kindergarten, end of discussion. But the truth is, not all Kindergarteners are five (at least in California) when they are eligible to begin Kinder. In California, the cut off for Kindergarten is December 2nd of the same school year. That means that your child can be eligible to start Kinder when they are still four years old!

My daughter Emma, has her birthday in Mid October. This places her at only 6 weeks from the cut off date. So the question arose in my mind, should she start at 4? I thought of my niece McKenna who would start the same year but who had been five since the preceding January! I decided to do some research and talk to teachers. What I found out from the teachers really helped make up our mind I encourage you to talk to the teachers of your school if you have concerns! (Of course the fact that in Emma's regular preschool class she would tell the teacher that she didn't have to do the work because she was the baby, also helped solidify our decision lol!)

I talked to a couple of Kinder teachers. They said that there are more and more children that start kinder at 6 years old. Parents are finding out that some children just are not emotionally ready or mature at 5 years of age. (Did you know that Kinder is not mandatory in the state of California?) So if I had put Emma in school, she would begin in August as a four year old, while others were already 6. That is a huge disadvantage for any child! The teachers agreed. They said that children who wait do better, they are just more ready for the rigors of Kindergarten (it ain’t what it used to be… see below!)

I was thinking about this age gap, and Colin and I decided, to give her the benefit of the cut off even though she was 6 weeks shy of it. We enrolled her in a transitional kindergarten program( . It was so fantastic let me tell you! It allowed her to be completely ready for what kindergarten requires, and has allowed her to build confidence before the stress of grades. We feel that this route for children who lack maturity required for kindergarten is really worth the investment.

Is your child ready for Kindergarten? There are so many things that children need to know BEFORE Kinder, that I was shocked when I had put Elise in four years earlier. I had no idea how important preschool was! I was glad we had put her in the year preceding her Kindergarten year, but had wished we had done it sooner! They need to know so much, to get off to a successful start!

Check out this link. It is a checklist for Kindergarten readiness. Does your child qualify? If not, really think about whether or not starting Kindergarten this year is right for your child. The stigma of holding children back, is gone in Kindergarten. They have no idea, but if they have to be held back in later grades because they weren’t ready for the foundation of kinder, that will be harder. Check out the link and decide what works for your family!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Frugle Family Tip of the Day

As if you hadn't heard enough from me, here I am again! I have your back, and I am sharing ideas! Feel free to comment or email if you have ideas to share! Let's help each other save cash! Why spend it on inconsequential items when we can save it for a boob job! Err... Did I just say that out loud?

This is orange and lemon season! Have a tree in your yard or know someone who does? Juice the fruit and freeze in ice cube trays, then put the cubes in a freezer bag to be used in recipes, added to flavor water, and even to drink after thawing in orange juice, and lemonade! (P.S. You can do the same with leftover broths!)

Blog Gone Wild!

Ok... So... I decided to tell a friend about my blog... Yes this one! Nobody knows about this blog in my world, because I am writing under my assumed name... Like Super Mom, helping the Masses, but no one knows that Calista is me, because I am changing in my SUV as phone booths have gone by the wayside. Don't look at my blog like that, like you didn't know that Calista Quinn was a pen name, sheesh! It is pretty cleaver though isn't it?

Anyway, back to my friend. She says that I absolutely must, must, contact people about this blog because it is funny, witty, and full of information pertaining to other families in my season of life. So... I did.

I have written a book company who publishes my Fav author Jen Lancaster, I have written a local mag and even a morning show. Don't laugh. This could be my big break! LOL

The reason I am putting this out there is because, it made me realize, that we all have something to offer, and all we need is to find the right someone, venue or venture to fully utilize our talents. So get out there! Discover your talents, don't hide them! Put them to use, because you are important, even if the world hasn't figured that out yet! So hopefully the world will find out that I am as amazing as I think I am, LOL.. And that isn't being stuck-up! We are all amazing, and the sooner we all realize that the sooner this world, will be a better place! What is your talent?

Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate!

Negotiate is the word of the day! No not with your children, lest you desire conflict and constant loophole hunting by your adorable faced bunchkins. Kids, man, they are super smart, and super manipulative. No not in the malicious kind of way, but the hmmm... I really really want my way and there was some wiggle room last time, so there will be again sort of way.

So if I am not talking about negotiating with children who am I talking about, after all this is a parenting blog right? Well it is also about family life, and with family life comes finances. I am talking about negotiating with service providers to save cold hard cash!

Yesterday I got a "wild hair" up my you no what, and decided that I needed to see where my bail out is! Now I know we don't qualify as a billion dollar financial institution or an auto maker so our chances of receiving millions to fetter away were about nil. But what I also knew is that all these service providers do NOT want to lose our business in times like these either!

First I called our Alarm company. When the economy goes down, inherently crime goes up, so there was absolutely no way that I was going to shut it off, but hey they don't need to know that. So I called and asked for their best rate. They lowered my rate by $7. Now keep in mind that $7 may not seem like a lot but over the course of the year that $7 equals $84 dollars and a 25% savings on our monthly bill! Man was I jazzed and empowered!!! So I decided why stop there?

Next I called our phone/internet company. I happened upon a promo for the internet of $30 a month. I was blindly paying $50 because I didn't keep up on when our contract ended. When these companies have you on contract you should be writing down these dates, because at the end of the contract, you are eligible for their new client promos! If they refuse, change companies! You now have the right under federal law to keep your phone number and port it to any company you choose! You are not a slave to these companies and for a little bit of work you can save hundreds! So now I am saving $20 a month, which adds up to $240 a year! So I figured I was going to now press for phone savings!

Honestly, we are a cell phone nation. Cell phone plans are cheap, they include national long distance, so if you have one, you really do not need a home phone unless you have an alarm system, as we do. So I asked about the cheapest phone plan they have. And what do I find out? This is alarming! (LOL excuse the pun!) They now have digital phone services out there! I was paying $34 a month for our phone which included all the taxes and surcharges! They gave me a new rate of $12.99 a month for 300 home minutes (more than ample since we use the cell phones) on top of that, when you sign up for digital phones (which on your end changes nothing, you use your own phones like usual and the only thing that changes is on their end) you no longer are subject to state and local usage taxes only federal! So that lowers your bill even more. So now with my $12.99 and my federal usage, I will be paying $14 a month! A savings of $20 dollars! My 15 minute phone call to our phone/internet company saves me a total of $480 a year!!! or $40 a month!!!

So 30 minutes on the phone with two service providers has now saved me $47 a month, or $564 a year! So of course I couldn't stop there! I next called our pest control company! They decided to play hard ball and only come down $2 which is completely unacceptable! So I decided to call around. I found a smaller company, who provides the same services for $10 less a month, or $120 a year!

Literally my hour of phone calls saved us $57 a month and $684 a year! How awesome is that? I got very little friction save for the pest company who apparently feels they are above discounting even in this economy! Ridiculous! So take the time, call your providers, and stay on top of your contract dates! There is no reason to throw that money away and all it took me was 60 minutes to save $57 dollars, that is almost a dollar a minute, which is more than my employer pays me!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Frugle Family Fun

In a time like this, where the economy is uncertain, it is important to keep the family bonds tight. Statistics show the biggest reason for marital and family discord are finances. Believe me, I know of that which I speak. We are not immune to the economy in the least. Hubby is in commercial construction, and I haven't seen anything being built around here lately. Work is stopped, and finances are on a wire. It's scary.

In a time like this, panic sets in, and it is easy to be edgy. For our part, again, we are not immune. But what we have decided to do, and have been doing, it getting back to basics. Free or near free family fun. We are learning to enjoy our home again, yes it has it's headaches, but if going out is no longer an option or as often as you are used to, then look where you stand.

We have been doing family movie nights. If you have a DVR, record them off the TV, check out your guide so you can watch them when the time suits. Go to garage sales, or try a DVD swap such as (they also have book and CD swaps too) for the price of postage you get DVDs that are new to you! Some local libraries allow you to borrow them for free also!You can do game nights too, borrow games, swap with friends, get them from garage sales!

There are tons of resources for families where you can get inexpensive craft ideas, recipes, organizational tips (back to being able to enjoy your own home again!) One of my favorite (and super inexpensive subscription) Magazines is Family Fun. Check out the website for free, you can also get subscription info. No magazine is perfect, and some of the ideas are like... ummm.. no.... like instructions for making a racquet using rubber bands and PVC pipe. LOL Sorry Family fun but our local dollar tree has just the ticket... for a dollar! However, there are a ton of wonderful ideas!

Another get back to basics, is enjoying your local park! So many communities really have put a lot of resources into their parks departments. Try different ones in your community, weekend picnics, with your dollar tree racquet can give you hours of fun! Also check your community calendars for free and near free events! Many are now online, look for your community on google!

Bottom line, don't let the economy further affect your family by letting it come between your family. Fight for the good! Don't blame each other, just accept what things are, and look to making what you can better!!! Have Ideas? Share them!!! Leave comments or email and I can post your comments, with or without anonymity!