Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Little things mean big smiles

You can't buy happiness!  That is what they say right?  Well I happen to believe in that statement to the fullest.  I am surrounded by multiple income families with children that have a fancier cellphones than I do and sometimes think about if we had more money and I was working full time would we be happier?  Sure our Christmases would probably be bigger and we would have fancier vacations but would it be better than say what I am able to do now?  I would have to say no.  I think that the fact that I am able to stay home, gives me the time to do the little things that the children may even think of now, but will hopefully appreciate in the future.

Happiness to me is something that can be achieved with a little creativity.  There are things that you can find that will make your family happy in an instant.   We are big sports fans at our house so when there is a good sporting event on, I try to make fun finger food that goes with the game.  During the Superbowl, I pulled out all of the stops.  We had homemade wings and fresh cut veggies and dip and some really great cheese sticks that I made in the oven from Farm Rich.  We also had crackers with cheese and lunch meats cut up to have as finger food.  I even got football napkins to go with the theme.  Now I would have needed to make dinner anyways so why not make it a little special. 

Another thing that my family does that we all enjoy is riding our bikes down to the local park.  I have a trailer on the back for Samantha and everyone else rides their bikes.  I love watching little Samantha go up and down the slide while the boys are playing football with their dad.  Someone always has a frisbee so we are constantly keeping an eye out for that to come whizzing by.  I think what makes it all special is our ability to go back to the basics.  Packing a picnic and spending the day at our neighborhood pool is one of our favorite summer activities.  And really what does it cost you?  Just a little time!  What are your special ways to help keep your family happy?  I would love to hear them!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Farm Rich blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Easter is on its way!

I have to admit that I am so excited about this coming Easter.  I love Easter almost as much as I love Christmas.  I love the Easter dresses, Easter egg hunts, all of the pastel flowers and spending time with my family.  I think back to when I was a child and have such vivid memories of  my mom taking me to the local Easter egg hunt sponsored by my church.  I remember receiving the Venture sales flyer (for those that have never heard of Venture it was a department store like a K-mart,) and circling out the biggest pinkest Easter basket that I would inevitably never receive.  My mom always made us beautiful baskets that had better things inside, but I tried for the store bought one every year.  I remember the Chinese jump rope that I used to loop around a coffee table and a chair so that I could play with it on my own in my living room.

I have all of these warm memories that now are being replaced by new ones with my daughter and two sons.  I have driven the children all over town locating the best Easter Egg hunts in the city.  My daughter did pretty good last year at 18 months, but now that she is two and a half I suspect she is really going to dive in and get those eggs.  I love watching how thousands of eggs look so pretty laying all over the grass and then disappear within just a few minutes after the horn blows.  And did I mention the amazing Easter brunches?  We found a fabulous one over at Moody Gardens and well that is now the tradition.   They also have little yellow chicks that the kids could hold, pictures with the Easter Bunny and two egg hunts.  It is a great day of food, fun and games and I plan on doing it every year. 

I now make my children's Easter baskets each year as my mother had.  I get excited getting the plastic grass that goes in the bottom.  Did you know that it isn't only green?  Now they have pinks and purples!  I do find goodies from the dollar store and shop early.  You can find some fantastic basket suffers there as long as you shop early and you can create a beautiful custom basket for less than the smallest one at your local CVS.  If you need any tips, post your questions and I will definitely help you out!  So I guess  I would say that I have lots of favorite things about Easter.  What are some of yours?

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hop blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Found a new joy!

So I have had a brand new bike in the garage for well probably about a year and a half.  We had a seat for Sam to ride on the back but it just wouldn't install properly.  So the other day I just bought one of those trailers that attach to the back of the bike.  Sam and I took our first ride a few days ago and it was wonderful!  I just loved how peaceful it felt to just quietly ride.  Samantha really enjoyed it too! So this weekend the whole family decided to go on a bike ride and we decided to go to the butterfly park.  This is a park in another part of our neighborhood.  We all got on our bikes and started out.  We made it to the park and had a great time swinging, sliding and tossing the football around.  Unfortunately on the way back, I cut a corner too tightly and well Samantha and I tipped over.  She was scared but unharmed.  Thankfully the trailer had a five point harness and she as strapped in.  I was shocked but Sam actually got back in the trailer and we continued our ride home.  I figured she would have been too scared to try it again, but she did great!  All she kept saying was "careful Mommy....Mommy careful."  It was adorable.  She did so good and I paid better attention to the trailer behind me.  It was a great ride!  Also the trailer was super easy to put together which shocked me totally!  They have a very similar on on amazon if you were looking for a good one.  Ours is just like this one only red and it doesn't convert to a stroller.

Have a great day everyone and I hope you are all well!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Have you heard about the new redbox promotion?

The only thing better than $1 a night movies – free movies!  Lucky for you, redbox, America’s destination for movie rentals, is giving everyone the chance to score free movie credits now through St. Patrick’s Day, during the Lucky to Have Friends Like You promotion. Rental credits are valid for ten (10) days after they’ve been deposited into your account.

This is just so easy!  Here are the steps to refer your way to some great free rentals!

  • Sign-up for a redbox online account at
    • Why? By signing up for an online account, you can see what movies are currently in redbox kiosks near you and reserve your picks to guarantee they’ll still be waiting for you when you get there (until 9 p.m. the next day).
  • Redbox will email you a personal web address link
  • Share the link with your friends
  • Every time someone reserves a movie online through your personal web address, you’ll receive a credit in your online account for a free one-night DVD rental
  • If it is your friend’s first time reserving online, they’ll also receive a credit for a free one night rental
  • Spread the luck!  Email it, post it to Facebook, Tweet about it!  Do whatever you do to let people know about this amazing program

I have posted about this promotion so that I can enter a giveaway for free redbox movies and movie snack packs as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gas going up? Family travel budget going down....

In honor of the crazy increase in gasoline and the fact that spring break is coming up, I wanted to share some of my money saving strategies for vacation travel.  As I have done in the past, I think the best way to explain these tips are in a top ten list.  Just a little planning and you can literally save hundreds of dollars over the course of the trip.

1.  My first tip is to always pack a cooler.  I really have a weak bladder when I travel by car.  Why?  I have no idea but it forces me to stop at gas stations quite frequently.  My family is notoroius for gas station shopping.  Over prices soda, snacks and treats somehow find their way to the cashier.  So instead, I take about ten minutes before we leave and pack a cooler full of chips, granola, beverages and sometimes even sandwiches to avoid stopping for lunch.

2.  My next tip is to research where the cheapest gas is located from where you are.  On my Blackberry I have an app called Point that not only gives me directions but also tells me where the cheapest gas is located. 

3.  My next tip is one that you can use at home or were every you travel.  Check the "kids eat free" sites for dinner and lunch deals in the areas where you are traveling.  Free food for my children and I don't have to cook or clean up?  I am down!

4. My next tip is to jump on and see if you can book a room at your price.  I typically try to aim really low and surprisingly enough, I have booked some amazing deals.

5.  Now if you need to pick your place to be close to an attraction, or don't feel comfortable letting pick for you, I recommend you check which searches all of the search engines for you and saves a boatload of time and money.

6.  The next money saving tip that I have is to pick a hotel (like that offer free hot breakfast in the morning.  This saves my family of five an amazing amount of money each day.  The food is delicious, the selection is great and there are plenty of healthy options available.  Just make sure you call ahead and see if they offer breakfast all week or only on the weekends.

7.  The next money saving tips is to remember to sign up for any rewards programs that are offered.  Alot of the reward program benefits can be used right away.  For example, Wyndham provides their reward members with a welcome gift basket and free internet connections.  No points required, you just have to sign up and provide them your rewards number.   Also eventually if you do use the same chain, you will earn free nights.

8.  For my next tip, I recommend that you always see what kind of amenities are at the hotels you choose.  I always try to find one with an indoor pool because my children love to swim.  It gives them something to do while I take the baby to the room and put her down for a really needed nap.    Free entertainment is always good!

9.  This tip requires a little planning, but when you first find out that you will be traveling, I recommend reaching out to the local chamber of commerce.  They will provide you with all kinds of coupons and discounts that you can use to plan ahead.  Some coupons are for buy one get one attractions, or maybe a free souvenir.  That coupon can put some extra cash in your pocket.

10.  My final tip is to plan, plan, plan.  If you know exactly what to expect, you will be able to stick to your budget and not buy a whole bunch of items that you don't need.  If you take the sun block with you, you won't have to pay three times as much at the theme park to get some.

I hope this helps with your travels this spring!  It has really helped me. 

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Alamo blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Feeling Lucky?

Ever wonder why things seem to work in your favor one day and not the next?  Well yesterday was my lucky day.  I probably should have gone and gotten some lottery tickets with the amount of luck that I had yesterday.  I woke up next to my amazing husband on our three year anniversary.  I smiled thinking that as crazy and fast it had gone, we were really lucky to still be together and enjoying each others company.  Within the first year of our marriage we had gotten pregnant, had a baby, moved cross country and lost and gained jobs.  It was very stressful but we made it.  I have seen other couples crumble over less stressful situations than that. 

So back to yesterday.  I woke up feeling lucky that we were happy and healthy and that we had a wonderful family.  I look in my email and find that a twitter party was about to start that supported giving children in need breakfast.  So I couldn't help but contribute to it and hope that my tweets were helping children who were hungry.  Then I see my twitter name pop up and I won a full value coupon for Kelloggs cereal!  Awesome!  I am always looking for good coupons to shave my food costs each week.   Next I see on Facebook that People is giving away swag bags as an instant win type of game.  So I wait until 11am my time and give it a shot.  Next thing you know, I have a email in my box and it says I won a 400.00 valued swag bag.  I almost passed out.  Then about an hour later, I found out I also won a Fellows paper shredder.  I just couldn't lose yesturday!  Have you ever had a day that you just couldn't lose?

Well in honor of those days,  Redbox is doing a promotion! 

The only thing better than $1 a night movies – free movies!  Lucky you, redbox is giving everyone the chance to score free movie credits now through St. Patrick’s Day during the redbox Lucky to Have Friends Like You promotion. Each fan receives a unique web address. Every time someone rents from your address through March 17, you get a free movie credit. Rental credits are valid for ten (10) days after they’ve been deposited into your account. Spread the word, and lucky you could be rolling in free movies this March.
Here is the website where you can check it out! (or you can click one of the links above as well.)
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and redbox blogging program, for a $25 Walmart gift card from redbox. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Special day today

Today is my husband and I's three year anniversary.  I feel blessed every day he puts up with me.  The time has just flown by.  I imagine that 20 years from now I will be saying how fast that went too.  Life is a blessing!  Enjoy every minute of it. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Back to Basics

So my husband and I were at Walmart this weekend and we were trying to purchase one of those bike trailers for Samantha to ride in so that we all could go bike riding as a family.  Unfortunately they didn't have one there but right next to the bikes are toys.  Well we couldn't get out of there without letting Samantha look at them all for a while and I stumbled on some kites.  I couldn't believe that they had a really nice selection of kites there and I thought how much fun it would be to teach Samantha how to fly a kite.  So I bought a nice material one hoping that it might last a bit longer than the plastic ones of my childhood.  I can't wait to take her out on the next breezy day.   This quick little trip to Walmart was a good reminder of the fun and frugal things that we can do with our kids.  Sometimes it is nice to get back to basics.  Take your kids to the park, library and all of those fun things that you enjoyed doing when you were a kid.   Have a great day and enjoy the beautiful weather!