Saturday, April 6, 2013

Help Your Dollar$ Go Further and Keep Your Kids In Style!

It seems like I just took the tags off the wardrobe my daughter has already outgrown.  Some items still have tags on, and many have been worn only once or twice.  I feel like I need another income just to keep her clothed.  That's not including her need for dance leotards, tights, shoes and costumes for jazz, tap and ballet.

I shouldn't complain.  Until recently she had been small, a peanut really.  I guess I'm just not used to these continuous growth spurts, which have been going on for about a year now.  No more shrimp!  I keep telling her to stop growing but she just won't listen. Since last Spring she's gone from a size 5/6 to an 8/10.  In shoes she went from a 13 to a 2.5.

What's a parent to do?  My budget certainly hasn't grown to match my daughter.  She has always had a certain sense of style, a unique look of her own that has drawn compliments from both her friends and their parents. I know there are many other parents who must be in this position, trying to make their money stretch in a tough economy while still wanting their kids to look great! So with that in mind, here are some ideas to... 

Help Your Dollar$ Go Further 
and Keep Your Kids In Style!

  1. Use Coupons for your favorite stores - most department and children's stores offer coupons by email, text and snail mail.  You can sign up on the store's web site.  Many have reward programs that will earn you extra points, bucks or other rewards/cash back.  It is not necessary to sign up for a credit card for these programs.  Many stores will take the coupons right off your cell phone, but check each store's policy before shopping.  You should be able to save at least 20% or more on new clothes using coupons.
  2. Shop Consignment Sales. These sales may be held at a regular store location or periodically on a larger scale in your community.  Previously owned (and sometimes brand-new) clothing, toys, baby items, furniture and books are sold at a very deep discount.  All items are inspected and only items that meet quality standards can be sold (nothing ripped, torn, stained or any outdated styles).  You can get some excellent deals on really cute and stylish clothing and accessories.  It is also a great place to sell off some of your own kids outgrown items.  Here is an example of a local consignment sale coming up so you get the idea:
  3. eBay - If you are a smart shopper and you know what to look for, eBay can be a good place to shop for kids clothing.  Try including the term "lot,"  or "mixed lot" in your search. This will bring back results with more than one item.  Evaluate the shipping charges before bidding as a big lot can get expensive; ask sellers if they will combine shipping on multiple auctions, most will and it will save you a lot!  You'd be surprised how much will fit into a large flat-rate Priority Mail carton.  I recently won 4 auctions including 2 pairs of boots, a pair of Converse, jeans, a hoodie, a sweater and a cute top and the shipping was under $12 for everything.  Try to look for quality brands that you know and trust, and a seller who accepts returns.  Don't go over your budget in a bidding war.
  4. Yard/rummage/garage sales - the weather is warming up now and there will be more of these popping up.  It's harder to find nice clothes but sometimes you can hit it and find gold.  You can also find cute costume jewelry, belts, hats, purses, etc.  And it's something fun for the kids to do on a warm day... like a treasure hunt.
  5. Thrift shops - here you may have a little better chance of finding something, depending on the size of the shop.  Some larger shops tend to overprice their merchandise, but there's no law that says you have to buy.  ALWAYS check for stains, rips, holes, etc.  Remember these are things someone else donated... which to many people means they are throwing them away.  They don't bother to check whether they are fit to be worn by another person.  So before you spend your hard-earned money, make sure it is worth it.  Most places have try-on rooms too, so if you are not sure, make sure.
  6. A Friendly Swap - Once a season, get together with other moms in the neighborhood.  Have everyone bring their kids' outgrown clothing (and maybe some food or drink to share) and pass the clothing down to whoever it will fit. Let the kids play runway model if they are up for it!
What kind of money-saving advice do you have for parents to stretch their clothing budget?  Tell me about it in a comment!

Product Reviews, Giveaways, and Healthy Living: Twitter Blast Coach Purse Giveaway

Product Reviews, Giveaways, and Healthy Living: Twitter Blast Coach Purse Giveaway

Monday, March 18, 2013


I hate to burst your bubble, BUT...

Nope, you're not invisible. Yes, I can see you.  Truth be told, so can other mere mortals. I can prove it.  Here, see? I just caught you rolling through that stop sign.  The one your special I-see-only-what-I-want-to-see contact lenses missed.  You didn't see me standing there watching you because your "special eyes" missed me too.  I'd return those peepers to the home shopping club if I were you, or maybe back to the Crackerjack box along with that funny drivers license.

Actually, I think I'm the one who's invisible.  At least sometimes.  Like when I'm waiting for the light to turn green at a crosswalk.  I push the little button and wait my turn, til I see both my green light and my "OK to WALK" signal on the pole opposite me. I try to be a good role model for my kids, plus I really don't feel like getting mowed down.  But somehow I must have the power of invisibility because there's an awful lot of drivers out there who seem to want to blow right through not just me, but my little girl as well.  Some of them seem to get mad that we are making them wait to make a left turn.  They seem to forget this was something they agreed to when they obtained a drivers license - the pedestrian has the right of way - always! Not just when it's convenient. But it must be because we're invisible, right? I mean, if these superheroes saw us, they wouldn't do that, would they? Would they do that if it was their own mother crossing the street?  I wonder if she can be invisible too...?

Superheroes also haven't yet perfected the power to make other people's ears deafen while they have obnoxiously loud cell phone conversations in public.  Might want to work on that one before getting too personal.  Then again, maybe they don't care... but the rest of us do.  So try to have some class.

Then we have THE MOST IMPORTANT superheroes.  (You know who you are.)  The Most Important want it all and want it now.  They make sure the rest of the world knows The Most Important come first and they deserve the best.  Pushing to the front of every line.  They just cut off any car in their way, anyone they don't want to hear. Who needs manners?  The right way is their way. Ordinary people should bask in the glow of their superhero existence.  Yeah, right. Don't trip on that cape on the way out.

Now, to all you other mere mortals out there, I'm curious - if you could have just one 'superpower,' what would it be and how would you use it?

Comment and let me know!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Them's The Aches - Update 3/15

I brought my daughter in for a chest x-ray this week, since her chest pains weren't getting any better after a month. She now has a new diagnosis of pleurisy.  I was unfamiliar with the condition so did a little online research.  Basically, it's an inflammation of the lining of the lungs.  There's an interior lining and an exterior lining and a space in between, and sometimes air or fluid get trapped between them making it hard to breathe and causing the sharp pains.

I asked the doctor how much longer she'd have to deal with this.  He said she should be better by mid April.  I spoke to the school nurse about it today.  She said the staff isn't used to her being so subdued, they usually call her "Tigger."  I asked the doctor about her activities and he said she can self-limit according to her pain.  So she can play gym and take dance classes but if she has pains she can sit out.

It's hard to keep a Tigger from bouncing.  That's what Tiggers do best... ;0)

I have nothing...?

"Mommmm, I have nothing to wear!"

What's that, nothing to wear?  Is that why your dresser drawers are all stuffed, I can barely wade across the sea of ... (clothes?) on your bedroom floor, not to mention the piles you have left in every other room of the house, but for some strange reason your hamper is practically empty? Yes, that must mean... you have nothing to wear.

"But Mom! I have to have more than one pair of new sneakers.  If I only have one pair of sneakers, the other kids will say we are poor." 

Let me tell you about poor, honey.

The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2012 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 100,000 household nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2011.
  • In 2011, the official poverty rate was 15.0 percent. There were 46.2 million people in poverty.
  • The poverty rate in 2011 for children under age 18 was 21.9 per-cent.

"Mom, I need money for an extra snack... even though I get lunch and I already bring snacks... but eveyone else likes this new expensive sugary snack... so I can't be the only one who doesn't buy it, or they'll say I'm poor."

Really?  Do you really want to know what poor is?  Because we are among the top 10% most fortunate people in the world, no matter how poor you might feel at any given time.  If you  have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly, then you are fortunate.  Oh, and by the way, there's poor, and there's hungry, and we are neither, thank God.

According to Wikipedia,  "some 18,000 children die every day because of hunger and malnutrition and 850 million people go to bed every night with empty stomachs."

Plenty of those hungry children and adults are living right here amongst us in our own neighborhoods.  These kids are having lunch with our sons and daughters in the cafeteria every day.  Why should they have to worry about other kids calling them poor?  If our own children are treating each other this way we should be disgusted and ashamed of ourselves. Think about the Whitney Houston song, "The Greatest Love of All.":

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be

Everybody's searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be


And if, by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

I find those words to be just as inspirational now as they were when Whitney first sang them.

We see ads for children in third-world countries and feel terrible about them.  Most people feel far removed from the situation. But there are those who do want to do something to help.  Sometimes people forget that hunger is not just a global problem, it is right here in our backyard.  Our next-door neighbors are struggling with it.  One out of six elementary school children will have to deal with it.  It is a family issue, one that is complex and complicated by the economy, unemployment rates and politics. 

There is no one solution, but many ways to lend a helping hand.  Most communities have a local food pantry (or church that is connected to one) that will accept donations of non-perishable food, toiletries or grocery store gift cards.  If you see a food drive being held outside your local supermarket please be kind enough to drop something in.  There are usually things on sale in your market for under a dollar that you can donate, and you never know when your own family could be in a position of need. You may also choose to donate to global or national organizations like Unicef, World Vision, Child Fund International (formerly Christian Childrens Fund) or The Salvation Army. And when you see someone that you know is struggling, treat them with kindness and compassion.  Don't look away, and above all don't judge them or or treat them with cruelty. 

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged. (Matthew 7:1)

Monday, March 11, 2013

There's Nothing To Do...

How often do we hear our kids say these words? 

The last few days I have heard several neighbors and community members complaining about teenagers vandalizing homes and cars, usually by "egging." This is the kind of behavior we used to reserve for Halloween.  Apparently someone either got bored or lost track of their calendar. That was the simplest explanation anyway.

The more I thought about it though, the more I looked around, the more I realized that teens today don't have a whole heck of a lot to keep them occupied (well, besides mind-numbing video games).  Not that this is an excuse for misbehaving, it is definitely not.  Still, back in the dark ages when dinosaurs and I roamed this town (in my teen years), we had two movie theaters within one mile, and a bowling alley too. Good clean fun.  Our parents could easily drive us with our friends to two roller rinks or a couple of teen clubs. We even had indoor/outdoor movie theaters.  Boy do I miss the drive-in...

We would ride our bikes (Hey, remember those?  Exercise!) We would hang out at the town pool or the beach in the summer. We went to camp. We ate dinner with our families every night and actually appreciated the occasional night out. We introduced our friends and dates to our parents.  We would never bring someone into our home without doing so.  We didn't curse in front of our parents. We respected them. We respected ourselves.  Our parents would carpool. They would know where we were and who we were with.  They would care.  They were there.  We weren't being sucked into screens and neither were they. 

Just sayin'...

Them's the aches

A little over a month ago, my 9 year old daughter started complaining of chest pains. Serious chest pains. She basically felt like she was having a heart attack, several times a day. We saw the doctor, who diagnosed her with something called costochondritis, which is an inflammation of the cartilage between the upper ribs and the sternum. It results in sharp pains that mimic a heart attack.

Usually this condition resolves on its own within a week or so. My daughter was on limited activity. She took Advil for the pain, promethezine to keep from coughing (that makes it hurt worse), and Tums to prevent stomach upset and keep the diaphram from pressing on it.

We've been back to the doctor at least four times. He has said it's healing but slower than usual. We thought she was doing better, then yesterday it got worse again while walking to church. Then again today while reading in school. I called the doctor again and he's sending her for a chest xray tomorrow.  I don't expect it to show much since the ribs may be in the way, but at least we can rule anything else out.

Wish us luck.

The Times They Are A Changin'

I know I'm not the only one who uses my cell phone as an alarm clock.  So logically, I'm not the only one who experienced this phenomenon yesterday.  Then again, this is MY cell phone, and it did come from a caveman, who sold it to me for a couple of sticks so he could build a fire.  I thought it was a little strange how his caveman clothing had the Sprint logo on it and a name badge... but I let it go.

Silly me.  The problems started after Sandy.  The phone was fine until the storm hit.  Right after that, it stopped taking a charge.  Or it would take several days to take one, and then the battery would run down in an hour.  Really bizarre.  Then I noticed my kindle fire charger fit the phone, and while at first it still took forever, after a while it began working normally.  Can you tell I am not ready to buy another phone?  Sure I'd love a new iPhone.

I'm the kind of person who holds onto a phone for a millennium   So if I'm going to buy it, I'm going to get the 64 GB phone, so I can fit a bazillion photos on it, and a Cadillac while we're at it since I need a car too.  And with the cost of my daughter's 3 dance classes and costume fees, my son wants new kicks, a new phone (his is better than mine of course) and yadda yadda yadda.... everyone who has kids with expenses can feel my pain.  Kids come first.  So a new phone will wait.  I'm just glad this one pulled through.  For now.  Or at least I thought so.

Until this last weekend and Daylight Savings time.  Now, I've never ever ever changed the time on any cell phone I've ever owned, including this relic.  They have always changed automatically, from 1:59 to 3:00 A.M. on Sunday morning.  So when I went to bed Saturday night I set my three alarms for 7:15, 7:20, and 7:30.

It was a REALLY good thing yesterday was a sunny day.  Because the sun woke me up.  I got up and checked my phone, which said 6:50.  I thought that was very strange, since the sun was not supposed to rise until 7:15.  I checked the cable box... which said - yes, you guessed it - 7:50.  Some not-so-nice words left my mouth then.  I used the bathroom and went back to my bedroom, just in time to see my phone change... to 8:00!!

So... if the sun had not awakened me, my alarm would never have gone off.  Because according to my phone, the clock would never have seen 7:15, 7:20, or 7:30 on Sunday morning.  Because according to MY phone, they just did not exist.

And yep, we were a half hour late to church.  But hey, it's almost Spring.