I don't proofread my posts before I publish them... cause I keep my thoughts au naturale.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Anne Geddes Padded Board Books and 1st Year Baby Journal Review and #Giveaway

In high school I had the popular Anne Geddes poster of the baby lying in the roses.  Since then, I've
always loved her artwork.  I'm not even one who oohs and ahhs over babies either, but the creative ways she photographs them makes it hard not to love each one!  As I got older, I kind of lost track of the latest work Anne Geddes had released and what she was up to, but as luck would have it, I was offered these three books gratis for review!  The padded board books are "This Little Baby" and "Lullaby & Good Night."

Now I can share Geddes' beautiful pictures with my own babies and I just know my 8-year-old daughter will think they are adorable as well.  But I think one of the best things about this new set is that they would make PERFECT baby shower gifts!!  Each picture has a sweet description on the opposite page so that you can read to your baby as they look at the pictures with you.  (And if you've ever had a baby, you know that they are fascinated by other babies.)

Along with the two board books is a new first year baby journal that highlights all the significant events and firsts that parents will want to remember as their child gets older.  This should definitely be included in your baby shower gift!!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  One lucky reader will be lucky enough to receive the two new padded board books AND My First Year baby journal!  Contest is open to US residents only and ends Nov. 1 at midnight.  Good luck!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Book Review & #Giveaway: T-Rex Trying and Trying by Hugh Murphy

 I have been completely infatuated with the T-Rex meme craze since I saw my first one.  I loved it so much that I bought my husband a tee shirt that says "T-Rex hates push-ups."  Any meme that shows up on my feed about the many struggles of T-Rex, quickly gets shared!  Well, imagine my thrill to find out that someone took that idea and ran with it... in a book!  I missed out knowing that Hugh Murphy published T-Rex Trying, but was fortunate enough to receive a gratis copy of T-Rex Trying and Trying: The Unfortunate Trials of a Modern Prehistoric Family.  And it is absolutely adooooooorable!

Of course, one must feel sorry for poor T-Rex and his family, but it is hard not to let a giggle escape when we see pictures of T-Rex trying to do such simple tasks as trying to hula-hoop or even when poor T-Rex tries to spoon She-Rex in bed at night.

Poor T-Rex can't even Trick or Treat!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  Hey, I don't have to hog all the laughs!  One of you lucky readers can win themselves a copy of this book too!  (Or if you can't keep your pants on, go buy yourself one!)  This would be great to hog all to yourself, or even be a great gift!  Heck, buy 50 and give one to everybody you know!  Anywho, enter below, but only if you live in the United States.  Sorry, rest of the world!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

#MoneySaving Post: Forget layaway for Christmas, use these ideas instead!

Why didn't I think of saving spare change??
I've tried using layaway twice in my life.  I didn't like it.  The last time was two years ago with Walmart.  I know Kmart does layaway also, but I'm not positive the other major retailers that do.  I found this list, but I don't know how current it is.  I know that all of these tips will apply to using layaway at Walmart, but some of them should work for the other place, if not all.

Why use layaway?  I guess the only good part in my mind is that you don't have to worry about hiding the gifts, cause the store is basically doing that for you.  The whole point of layaway is based on the (mostly accurate) assumption that people can't afford to pay for all their gifts at once.  So, layaway gives them the chance to make payments over a certain amount of time, with the final payment being when you pick up the merchandise. 

However... I think it's better to buy a couple to few things here and there as you have the money, which eliminates taking in the payments for your layaway.  This also gives you the chance to decide whether you can afford more or less than what you would have spent doing a bulk layaway.

Start with a list.  I like to start thinking ahead to holiday shopping towards the end of August in order to get a jump start.  What I like to do is start a list where I write down the name of everyone I have to buy gifts for and start listing ideas for them.  As the time goes by, your list will transform quite a bit with things being added, crossed off or purchased.

I actually like to keep a running cart on Amazon and Walmart so that it helps me keep track of the things I was thinking of getting and also helps me have the prices right there to compare when I'm ready to buy.

Organize your list.  I'm a proponent of fairness when it comes to gifting.  As kids are younger, they don't so much realize the value of things, but they can count.  So I like to do one "big" gift from Santa and then a set number of gifts from us.  I set the number of gifts and start to make purchases here and there to meet the "quota."  If I meet my quota and run across something here or there, I either add one more for everyone or save it for birthdays.  (Three of my kids have birthdays within 3 weeks of Christmas.)  As the kids get older and start to understand the cost of things, I intend to spend approximately the same on each, so no one feels like I'm playing favorites or that it isn't fair.  Cause, really it isn't.

Don't forget when making your lists to include the other people you might have to gift for such as nieces, nephews, parents, in-laws, etc.

Spend reasonably.  Let's be real.  Ghetto fabulousness is sooooooo disgusting.  If you are unfamiliar with the term, it's one that's been around for decades.  The theory is that people can't pay their bills, but will buy big screen TVs.  They can't feed their kids on their own, but they carry a Gucci handbag.  It happens with people more often than you'd think.  Just because it's a holiday, doesn't mean you need to drop a couple thousand on your kids when the month before you were getting shut off notices.  Kids don't need that much, and if your kids are the kind that will throw a fit if they don't get the $300 X-Box, you might want to rethink the values you are teaching them.  Just saying.

Comparing prices.  Okay, so you're ready to buy.  You've checked your list and you're ready to commit to some of the items that you had already intended to get.  Now to find the best price.  Here's the three websites that are always my go-to when it comes to finding the best prices:  eBay, Amazon, and Walmart.com.  Let me tell you some things I've found.  There are A LOT of things that are actually cheaper on Walmart.com than in the stores!  For instance, YESTERDAY I had to go to Walmart and I thought that since I was there I'd knock a couple things off my list.  I went to my shopping cart on my phone to compare prices and out of the three things I found in the store, ALL three were cheaper online!  So, I didn't buy them.  (Those dollars add up.)  I compared the prices in my cart between Amazon and Walmart and everything had the exact same price except one thing: a play kitchen.  It was $20 cheaper on Amazon!  And of course I check eBay for everything before committing to those prices.  Case in point, one of the best sellers expected for this year are LeapBands.  They are selling for $39.99 in stores and online, but I ended up getting two brand new ones on ebay for $30 each.  It's about persistence, people.  It pays off.

But what about shipping?  You may be thinking that if I am buying stuff online, I end up paying more with shipping.  But you would be wrong.  Walmart.com has free shipping for orders over $50 and most items are free shipping if you do site to store.  Amazon has free shipping for qualified items when your total is $30 or over.  Otherwise, if you haven't done it before, you can sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime.  Members get free 2 day shipping on all items, no matter how much the purchase is.  And of course, eBay items let you know the shipping when you bid.  The LeapBands I mentioned were $30 total.  That includes shipping.

Other ways to save.  I use Swagbucks.  It's a website that you earn points from searching, buying things, signing up for things, etc.  A lot of times you can just earn a few points here and there easily, without using your email and ending up with junk mail.  You can earn points from watching a 2 minute commercial, etc.  In the end, your points can add up to gift cards.  I usually have no problem earning $5 Amazon or Walmart gift cards on a regular basis.  I can apply those to any orders I make.  Also, when I make a purchase on Walmart.com, I go to the site via Swagbucks and I get 2 points for every dollar I spend, which then gets me closer to another gift card!

There are other ways, such as watching ads, online sales, Black Friday (which I loathe and never partake in) and don't forget Facebook or second hand stores!  I know there are a lot of people out there that don't believe in using second hand items for gifts, but again, many kids don't really care.  I frequent the buy/sell/trade pages on Facebook, as well as craigslist, and just recently I found a toy that I had in my online cart that was $30 and I got a like new one off Facebook for $5!  Yay! 

Anything to add?  Since I'm all about saving money, did I miss anything?  Sometimes Target has things that are out of stock online at Walmart for a comparable price.  So if you are having a hard time getting it elsewhere, check out Target.  I think they have a free shipping for $50 and over free as well.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Awesome Nickelodeon 6 Halloween DVD #giveaway!! Worth over $70!!

In honor of Halloween, Nickelodeon has rounded-up some of their best DVDs!  And I am able to bring you a stupendous giveaway that includes 6 different titles!!  Get your kids (or yourself) in the holiday spirit with hours and hours... and hours of Halloween fun!!  Giveaway includes:

  SpongeBob SquarePants: Ghouls Fools
Take a haunting, hilarious dive into Bikini Bottom and enjoy some ghostly tunes!  In addition to the double-episode, “Ghoul Fools,” go on a treasure hunt, learn to tie nifty knots and board the Flying Dutchman to haunt the Seven Seas.
Special Features:

• Behind the Scenes
• “Ghoul Fools” Animatic
• Yule Log

SpongeBob SquarePants Halloween
The Halloween celebrations in Bikkini Bottom are plentiful in this 10-episode collection, including 5 Halloween-themed episodes like “Frankendoodle” and “Squidward, The Unfriendly Ghost.”

Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Halloween Parade
Join Dora and her friends on exciting Halloween adventures in this four-episode DVD. In addition to the title episode, this DVD includes “Boo!,” “The Backpack Parade” and “Dora, la musico.”

Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Halloween
Dora invites fans for non-stop Halloween fun in this four-episode DVD.  Episodes include “Boo!,” “The Missing Piece,” “To The Monkey Bars,” and the “The Big Storm.”

  Yo Gabba Gabba!: Halloween!
Excitement abounds as the characters dress up in outrageous costumes and gather private stashes of candy. Through “The Fall Song,” “Halloween Party Song,” and “Trick or Treat Song” the characters learn what happens on Halloween, and just as important, the song “Too Much Candy” helps the characters to understand eating candy in moderation. The DVD contains 3 additional episodes.

 Go, Diego, Go!: Diego’s Halloween!
Help Diego and Freddie the Fruit Bat save the llamas so they can deliver Halloween treats to all of the animals! This DVD includes “Freddie The Fruit Bat Saves Halloween,” “Diego and Dora Help Baby Monarch Get to the Festival,” “Alicia Saves the Crocodile!” and “Manatee’s Mermaid Rescue!”

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  One lucky winner will receive all 6 DVDs!  This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends October 20 at midnight.   To enter:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Do you ever really get to retire (unless you're a hermit?)

Some people love their jobs.  I'm going out on a limb saying most people don't.  But at some point in life, if we are lucky, we are able to retire.  And what is the purpose of retirement?  The purpose is that at a certain age people should be able to enjoy the life they have left.  If they are lucky, that could be several more decades.  There's also perhaps the theory that as people get into their 60s, their bodies don't function as well as they did when they were younger.  Either way, there is a reason that we have systems in place in the United States that allow previously employed people to retire.

The question I have is, "why can't retirees every really retire?"  The answer is because friends and family won't let them.  I think that when people are retired, that is when they should never be EXPECTED to do anything.  They've earned that.  But I think that oftentimes friends and family take advantage of the fact that when someone is retired they have "nothing to do."  Whether they become homebodies, volunteers or active in their community or socializing, the point is that these retired persons should be able to CHOOSE what they do with their time.

But when you have the pressures of friends and family thinking that you have "all this extra time," they assume that you should have no problem doing what they want you to do.  Oh, you had plans to swim with your aquasize group?  That's not important, you should help me do a, b, or c.  I know you'd rather drink a gallon of paint than do X, but you're retired, so really there is no excuse for you to do X.  And hey, remember my point about the theory that as people get older, their bodies don't function as well as when they are younger?  But, I think other people forget that.  But they are retired, why can't they help me push a school bus up a hill?  It's not like they have anything better to do.

I have kids, I love my kids.  I have friends... probably won't have them all my life, but I might have some at the age of "retirement."  But, guess what.  If my friends or family are selfish enough to think that MY golden years are meant to be spent doing all these things I don't WANT to do, they can go F themselves.  And I think people should respect that.  Retired people don't need you to find ways for them to spend their time as if retirement means you sit on your front porch in your underwear watching traffic go by.  Retirement is meant to be the years where you get to do the things you've always wanted to do.

Keep that in mind when you decide how retired people should spend their time.