Monday, November 30, 2009

Bah Humbug

I am feeling very Scrooge-y today. The tree is up (thanks mostly to hubby and the girls!), the outside lights are on (thanks again to hubby) and all that is left is inside. That is where the problem lies--I have little-to-no Christmas decorations. Ones that I like, anyway. I've "outgrown" some of the things I have like Boyd's Bears and I have no money to buy anything new. I have ideas, but I can't seem to even find something in store like I want.

I fought for over an hour with stupid lights and garland. I have a small tree that is very pathetic that I should put up downstairs, but I have no desire. I have a beautiful nativity set and no where to put it--we have no mantle or any where else I can display it.

There are too many other "wants" on the list to even worry about putting money into decorations. I would love to get at least one of the girls' rooms decorated. But that means first painting (which I don't do) and then putting up the bunk beds. In order to put up the bunk beds, we need a new bed so our bed can go to the guest room and the guest bed can be the bottom bunk. I want the bunk beds up because I have wall decals to go up (have had them for 6+ months now) and want to know where the bed will be. And when I say we need a new bed, I want all new bedroom furniture. Buying cheap 12.5 years ago was fine, but I'm over it. And then of course there is always new living room furniture. And oh, how about a media console for the living room so we don't have our nice tv sitting on the coffee table that is also 12.5 years old. I did ask for that for Christmas, so we'll see. Everything can't happen at once so I'm stuck with what I've got.

The rest of Christmas is fine. I'm almost done buying gifts, I just need to get to wrapping them. I'll bake a few things and we're looking forward to our trip over Christmas to see hubby's family. The girls are excited and we'll go see Santa in the mall soon. Give me some good Christmas songs and I'll sing along.

Hopefully some of my Scroogeness will pass by morning. It doesn't help that I'm coming down with whatever germs are floating around the house these days. And if I wish hard enough, maybe the elves will come over night and decorate my house. Just maybe.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Shop 'til you drop

Yes, folks, hubby and I are two of those crazy shoppers you will see out before sunrise on Black Friday. We have been doing BF shopping for over 5 years now, so we are no rookies. This year there weren't too many "have to have" items, but we are suckers for bargains so out we went. Hubby actually stayed up most of the night, checking WalMart online to get one of the items on his list. Silly boy, what he ordered online and had to pay shipping for at 2:30am was right in front of me at 11am. Or should I say dozens of them, there for the taking. Oh well, those are the chances you take and if you want the item bad enough you will pay the extra $9 in shipping and lose a little sleep.

Usually my first stop is Kohls. They have the best deals on toys and a few other random items. I did not get there bright and early at 4am when the doors opened; 5:45am was early enough to get what I wanted. Now I do know that Kohls inflates their regular prices just a tad to make you feel like you are getting great bargains. "Look, this bath wrap was supposed to be $29.99 but you got it for $6.80! What a steal!" I will say that I had a coupon for 15% off your entire purchase, plus the Kohls cash you get when you spend $50 or more so it was worth the trip for me. Now I have to go back sometime next week to spend that $20 of "free money" and so they can say "Ha, ha, gotcha to come back!" By the time I found what I wanted, the lines were short and the trip was painless.

My longest wait was at Old Navy. Now I really didn't even need anything at ON, but again--the power of a bargain. While I at the mall I hit Target, Justice, Younkers and (another) Kohls all in one shot.

I got quite a few things knocked off the list. I struck out on a couple things, but nothing earth shattering. I am thanking my kids today that they haven't asked for Zhu Zhu pets or for wanting anything from that insane asylum they call Toys R Us. While I was buying a few things at Target, the cashier mentioned someone came through his line and bought 9 GPS systems. Either he gets lost very easily or he is going to try and re-sell them on e-bay. Your guess. Hubby was also behind someone who bought 3 itouch for just under $300 a pop. You got a $30 gift card with purchase, then $10 for every $100 you spent so that guy came away with around $150 in gift cards.

Before he went out shopping, hubby asked me if I even had a list. I said, "Didn't you read my blog?" Obviously not. ;)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My grown up Christmas list

Even though Christmas isn't about the getting, I still have some things on my own wish list. Right after the things I won't get (such as peace on earth, a gym membership and a maid) there are a few things that I'm wishing for:

Maybe a cute scarf like this
or this
An itunes gift card. We need some new tunes on the ipod, preferably before our 4 hr car ride to South Dakota for Christmas. ;)
I checked this book out from the library and I think it is a keeper. I already have some recipes bookmared with sticky notes, but don't think I'll get to try them before the holidays.

Another cookbook I have my eye on is the one from The Pioneer Woman. She is a "famous" blogger who has wonderful recipes. Yes, I could look them up online but I am a visual learner and prefer to have a copy in front of me.

This has been on my wishlist since this summer, and of course everyone is going to have one now because The Pioneer Woman (mentioned above) recently posted a site called The Vintage Pearl
which has hand stamped jewelry. It may have to be moved to my birthday list. Of course I would order one with my own children's names on it. ;)
Yes, I almost hate to admit that I have Ugg boots on my wishlist.

Again, I've been contemplating them for over a year but just can't seem to part with that much money in one shot for a pair of boots. Yet everyone I've talked to just loves them. I know there are cheaper knock offs, but I haven't found a pair of those I liked. They may just be a "wish" for a long time, until I decide to finally get some and then they will be long out of style.

I also may have gotten a few things last week that can be considered early Christmas gifts. I've been looking for a new purse forever and haven't found one I loved. Although I wouldn't say I'm absolutely in love with this one, it seemed to be close enough and I was ready for a change. Hubby should be glad I can retire my corduroy "hobo" bag. Not hobo as in hobo style, hobo as in it looks like a vagrant should be carrying it from train to train. Isn't he nice.

What I liked most about the bag was the cute lining inside:I found a red wallet to go with and now I'm set for a few months.

My other early Christmas gift was this:

I had heard a lot of good things about these coffee makers, and I think it lives up to the hype. I just got the simplest model which I think fits my needs just fine. I can't even count the number of cups of coffee I've already made, and that doesn't include other hot drinks like apple cider and hot chocolate. So now I can add to my Christmas list a sample pack of coffees/chai tea/hot chocolate from a site like Big Cat Coffees.
What are you hoping Santa brings you?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Family Fun Night

We often do things as a family like going to the zoo once a year or going to ISU sporting events. The girls are at a fun age where they can enjoy activities and are easy to take out and about. We recently got a new bowling alley/arcade/pizza place in town which the girls and I had been to a couple times, but hubby hadn't had a chance to get there. A week or so ago we decided we would take the girls there Friday night for some bowling, pizza, and fun.

The girls had been bowling before a few months ago, but I couldn't tell you the last time I went bowling. Somewhere between my last year in high school (we would do bowling for gym class) and last night--probably closer to 1993. The alley we went to you can set up to have "bumpers" come up for individual bowlers, so of course Emma and Leah got bumpers. They also have a metal ramp to push the ball down, so Leah used that. Emma used it for a frame or two, otherwise she just used the "chuck the 6 lb bowling ball instead of rolling it" method. Any guesses on the family winner? If you said hubby, you would be right. He scored an amazing 106. Emma was next with 78, then Leah with 75, and me rounding out the pack with 74. I couldn't even break 100 or beat my 4 year old. And the bumpers may have malfunctioned and that included the advantage of one spare by bouncing the ball off the bumper. Wow, I suck.

Being the cheapskates fiscally responsible parents we are, we had a coupon for $12 of arcade games if we ordered pizza from the menu. This was all we put on the arcade card, but the girls still got to play plenty of games. The little kids games were only 19 cents, and the most expensive game Emma played was $1. Leah hit the jackpot on the 19 cent game, winning 50 tickets in one shot. Other times we came away with one or three tickets for our extreme efforts (by extreme, I mean swiping the card and pushing a button). With our 180 tickets we won combined with a few extra tickets left on the card from the last trip, Leah walked away happy with a new slap bracelet and a 8 pack of Tinkerbell crayons. Emma was thrilled with a small blue lizard and a whoopie cushion. The latter has provided them with as much entertainment as a rubber balloon can.

I told hubby I never got to do anything like that when I was a kid. The closest thing we had in town was Stanley's Pizza with a lone Pac Man game. There were kids running around last night with tons of tickets trailing behind them. Someone had left a receipt in the game card machine for the $50 they put on the card. Seriously? $50 worth of arcade games? I wonder how many parents drop their pre-teens off at the door and say "See you in a few hours!" Luckily my girls can be pleased with small plastic trinkets that are way over "priced" in ticket terms. I saw kids running around with Nintendo DS games that they had won. How much did that cost you? I can get the same thing at Target for $20 or so.

It was definitely a fun night. Now I just hope the girls don't expect to go there more than once a year. ;)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting a start on Christmas

Considering Target has had Christmas decorations out for a month now, and Hobby Lobby started around July, I already feel a bit behind the game. Emma has her list started, and Leah has dictated her list to me (I haven't written it down yet, I'm relying on my wonderful memory skills at this point). I have a mental list as well of gift ideas for me which will probably be bought for me by me. ;)

The thing is I'm a bit of a bargain shopper, as is hubby. I have been known to return/re-buy things to save a few bucks. I've seen some things on the shelf that I was tempted to buy already, but am waiting for a lower price. Will it be lower in the next few weeks? Who knows, but I'm hoping it will.

The only thing wrong with this strategy is that I've also learned if you see it, buy it then because it may not be there when you come back. This method is not conducive to bargain hunting, but saves on the sanity. I picked up shoes for the girls to wear at Christmas because I found what I wanted in their size at Target. Lord knows if I waited until a few weeks before, inevitably the size I need will be gone from the shelves and then I will be calling all my relatives to hit up their Targets looking for a size 9 red glitter shoes.

Being the bargain shoppers that we are, hubby and I are traditional Black Friday shoppers. Yes, we are insane but usually we have pretty good luck. He has been stalking the BF ads (that would be short for Black Friday) for about a month now and I have my eye on a few things as well. Our problem this year is we don't know where we will be for Thanksgiving. The past 4 years we have gone to his parents near Sioux Falls, so we head out at an ungodly hour to shop while everyone else is still sleeping. Grandma watches the girls and we shop until we can shop no more (until the next day, when we usually go in and do some returns/exchanges). This year we aren't going to their house until Christmas. We will decide if we want to do our BF shopping in Mason City or Des Moines and play Thanksgiving accordingly. Crazy, I know.

I may have already done some shopping for myself. I'll post about that later when I give my Christmas wish list. I've also figured out that I think I've past the point where I can shop with the youngest kid in tow and quickly try and hide gifts in the cart while she isn't looking. I'll have to do all my shopping as a solo operation I'm afraid.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Yes, I know it is a bit cliche since it is November with Thanksgiving coming up, but I thought I would write down a few things I am thankful for. Sometimes when life is getting you down, you have to think about what you have and realize that not having coffee creamer in the fridge or feeling a little bit "fluffy" around the middle are not the end of the world.

In no particular order, I am thankful for:
  • My husband, who gets up and drives 45+ min each way every day doing something outside of his area of interest/expertise to provide for our family. Love ya!
  • My two girls who are bright and funny and fun and make me laugh everyday, which helps to cancel out the times they make me want to cry in frustration.
  • My family, both the family I came from and the family I gained when I married hubby. They are always there for us whether we need a babysitter, free beef, cooking advice, or more. I just can't comprehend those with in law issues because I really lucked out in that area.
  • A nice house that has heat, electricity, running water and all other modern conveniences. After losing electricity for an hour last week (gasp!) I realize I would not be cut out to be an Ingalls. I like to dry my hair and have clean clothes and make supper in a crock pot.
  • For friends near and far, those who I know and those who I pretend to know.
  • For the ability to run to the grocery store when I need odd things like a head of lettuce and a container of cool whip. I assure you, they weren't served together. Today's trip is saltines and kool aid.
  • For our freedoms we have as Americans.
  • For medical care.

I could go on--I have a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes you just have to stop and take a minute to realize just how blessed you are.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Another trip down memory lane

The girls and I came up to my parents for the weekend for a visit. I don't think we've been here since July and the girls didn't have school on Friday, so we took the opportunity to go "home". It is only an hour trip, so easy to do in a weekend.

One of Leah's latest obsessions is Barbie (so help me God--I was hoping to avoid it for a few more years). I knew my mom probably had some of our old Barbie things, so I dug out a tote that had a couple Barbies, Barbie's horse, Barbie's canopy bed, and other assorted Barbie necessities like a pool table, pinball machine, and popcorn machine. Apparently Barbie had a pretty cool pad in her day, and although her house has been foreclosed and demolished, she was able to hang onto a few prize possessions.

Today we unearthed what was left of Barbie's closet. Most of our Barbies were from the mid-80's and boy do her clothes show it. She has quite a few gold lame outfits, a Coca Cola sweatshirt, and even a one armed sweatshirt ala "Flashdance". Emma found that quite disturbing--"Why does it have only one arm?" And speaking of arms, we sent a few Barbies to a permanent vacation who were missing more than one limb. RIP. And don't even ask about Ken who was simply a head and a limbless/headless body. That poor man was much abused by his harem of eight or so women.

Anyway, Barbie had many homemade clothes made by my mom or Grandma. Then she had a bunch of gems that we think my younger sister designed by going through my mom's fabric scraps and making clothes herself. There were dresses made from left over material from various prom and formal dresses I had. I sorted through all her clothes and only kept those that would maybe pass for fashion if Project Runway was doing a "rejected 80's hand-me-downs and slutty Barbie clothes" show.

Many of the Barbies are also sporting hideous haircuts thanks to the budding hair stylist that was my younger sister. One of my Barbies used to wink (how coy!) but somehow her eyelids have been ripped off. Even the poor horse was missing a hoof--an accident I seem to remember happening many years ago.

The girls have kept themselves entertained with all the Barbies, clothes, and accessories that are all new to them but have me remembering all the times I played Barbies. I have a feeling that Barbie will be making an appearance on Leah's Christmas list and I'll be seeing much more of them.

While we were home I was also able to meet up with a childhood friend for coffee. She was my "bff" in high school (after we got over fighting because of boy issues) but once we went to separate colleges we didn't stay as close as we were. But it seems like anytime we are able to get together, we can pick up like we left off. It was good to see her today and talk about the good old days and also have similar views about life in our 30's.

Since it was beyond beautiful out, the girls were able to go play at the elementary school playgrounds. The equipment has changed, but I told Emma that where they were playing was where I went to school K-4th grade. I even showed her our "warming" corner where we huddled when it was cold out. She has mentioned a few times that at recess they have their own warming corner they go to. Funny how some things never change.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sugar high

I definitely need to step away from the candy. The girls each hauled in a pumpkin full (of mostly chocolate) and I may or may not have bought 4 or so bags of chocolate just for hubby and I. Between that and the leftover frosting from the two cakes I made this past week, I think I put on about five lbs. Ouch. Time to get re-acquainted with Jillian and the treadmill.

Not much going on around here after the big sugar fest. Neither one of the girls have school on Friday due to parent/teacher conferences so I'm trying to decide what to do. We may either go visit my parents or maybe go to the science center. We'll see.

Leah wins the "most improved" trick-or-treater award. Last year she went to about four houses and was done. This years she was out for 2 hours straight and didn't want to go home. She was so cute--she would report what she got as soon as she turned away from the door. She even had a running tally of how many of each type of candy. This was the first time I went out with the girls; usually hubby takes them out. I did the leave the bowl full of goodies on the front step thing and ran back home to re-fill it one time. I should've thrown everything we had in there because it was empty when we came back home.

Emma also survived her first sleepover party. There were reports that some of the girls started falling asleep after 10pm, and the last ones nodded off somewhere after midnight. I'm sure Emma was closer to the latter. I told hubby that these sleepovers when they are young are probably better than the ones when girls get a bit older--you remember what we used to do. Talk about those who fell asleep first, try to freeze (training) bras, put sleeping people's hands in water to try and make made them pee, fart on people's pillows. The seven year old crowd is pretty innocent still. Emma did come home having learned how to do the "Sprinkler" dance move and had some rhyme about "Kirby Puckett stepped in a bucket, what color was his poop". Huh?

Off to parent teacher conferences. Leah's is today and Emma's is tomorrow night. Hoping for good reports! :)