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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton

I love board books.  Reason number one being that they're short, lol.  I don't always have time to read to my kids, but I want to and when they ask, I hate to tell them no.  So, I pick up a board book and both our needs get met. 

This book is by Sandra Boynton and is called "Happy Birthday, Little Pookie."  It is about a little pig who wakes his parents up extremely early because he's excited that it is his birthday.  Mom and dad are exhausted, but try to make it the best day ever.  It rhymes, too, which makes it easier to keep the kids' attention.  After I finished reading it, they both asked me to read it again.  And of course, I can totally relate to being awakened early because of an excited child.

MOTR Grade: B+

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie is available for sale May 25!!!

Avatar: Oscar Nominee

In my quest to watch all the Oscar nominees, I finally got around to watching Avatar.  I was not completely thrilled about it.  Yes, yes, the imagery looked beautiful, but what about the actual storyline?

Well, the movie is 2 hours and 42 minutes.  I sat down to watch it in total solitude.  The first half hour was terrible.  It was so much sci-fi techy bull S that I was about ready to throw in the towel.  For some odd reason it was reminding me of Star Wars and other than the Ewoks, I could care less about Star Wars.  But I kept on...

The plot got better.  I was watching it on Blu-Ray and the imagery when Jake was an Avatar was amazing.  I just wish I could see it on Imax... oh, wait, I don't really want to watch it ever again, lol.  Okay, so the plot did get better and there was a bit of romance, which always gets me.  There were dragons and I think it would be cool if I could ride a dragon.

So the idea is that the humans have come to a planet to do what they do best- steal land that isn't theirs from another race.  They have created technology so that they can communicate with these people by becoming Avatars that look just like them.  You go in some tanning bed looking thingy and go to sleep, which then allows you to be in the Avatar body.  So, Jake goes rogue (haha, Sarah Palin) and ends up being saved by a chick from the other race.  She realizes he's special and convinces her people to let him stay and her father tells her to teach him their ways and language.  I'm gonna stop there.

The story was okay at best.  I wasn't blown away.  I'm glad it didn't win the Oscar.  I thought the plot was predictable, there were no points where I felt on the edge of my seat.  A yawn at best.


Family Time Factor:  I don't see why it can't be viewed by all ages.

MOTR Grade: C

Avatar is currently available on Blu-Ray and DVD!!!

Blu-Ray features:  amazing visuals!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Sleeping in the Car Edition

Monday, May 17, 2010

Why I'm Feeling Arthritic

So we currently live in an old farmhouse.  I think I've mentioned this and that our plan is to eventually tear it down and put up one of those manufactured houses (not the trailers).  Anyway, we love our location out in the country, but I hate this house and all the wood paneling it holds within.

Lately I've been so frustrated that the kids share our room and there are no doors, so the dogs wander in and out, it feels dirty, etc.  And I'm a freak about having dirty sheets!  Well, we have never really used the upstairs for anything but storage because there's not bathroom up there.  However, upstairs there's actual drywall, doors, closets, etc.  One room we already recently made into a "smoke lounge" for my husband since he doesn't smoke in the house.  Well, I decided it was time to move upstairs because I wanted a real bedroom and I wanted the kids to have one as well.

Try moving a king size bed upstairs in a house with a small doorway for the stairwell access.  It was torturous.    Moving all the stuff upstairs has made me feel like an old lady.  My joints are killing me and I'm covered in bruises.  But was it worth it?  OH YEAH!

Now the kids share a room and I have my own room and we all have doors!  Last night was very lonely, though because I go to sleep before Nick and the kids were in their own beds.  I had the whole room to myself and fell asleep watching Fatal Attraction.  But it felt strange.  On the other, I was shocked and amazed that L has been able to sleep upstairs two nights in a row without waking up!  Since about four months of age, he's slept in bed with us.  I thought it would be really hard for him, but apparently having his own bed next to his sister's bed made it all okay.  And he has slept in later than usual as well (of course today A felt the need to wake him up.)

Then, I was proud of myself because today I figured out how to move the dish network wire to the upstairs bedroom.  I didn't want to make more holes in the floor, so I had to figure out how to cut the wire and put a new tip on it.  Anyway, job done!  And no exorbitant fee paid to the dish people! 

Now if I could just get the motivation to move the rest of the stuff upstairs, I will be done and it will feel like a real house... after having lived here for almost 7 years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Would You Rather Be A Pollywog?: All About Pond Life Book Review

Did you know they were still making books for The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library?  Yeah, me neither.  Well, they are!  The most recent release is Would you rather be a Pollywog? All About Pond Life by Bonnie Worth, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz and Joe Mathieu.  True to Dr. Seuss' magical formula, the pictures are classic and the words are a smooth poetry.

As I've mentioned before, if it keeps BOTH my 2 year old and 4 year old entertained enough to sit through the whole thing, it's a keeper in my opinion!  Well, despite the complex vocabulary and ideas that were way over their heads, they both sat completely still while I read it to them.  I was amazed.

The book itself is about all the wondrous creatures that live in a pond.  It tells you about the life cycles of insects and frogs from egg to tadpole to frog.  It's actually pretty interesting, though and I found myself wanting to learn about the creatures and it kept me entertained as well.  I was actually impressed that my 4 year old could guess some of the words that were rhymes before I even said them.  Anyway, good book!

MOTR Grade: A-

Would you rather be a Pollywog? All About Pond Life is currently available!!!

Ten Tips for Being Fashionable on a Budget

I'm not rich.  (Although I have such a dilettante attitude that you'd think I was, ha!) But just because my pockets aren't lined with silver doesn't mean that I can't take pride in what I wear or what my children wear.  If you have money-saving tips for being fashionable on a budget, TwitterMoms wants to know!  My ten tips are as follows:

1) Clearance is a magical word.
I can't stand to buy things at regular price.  It's got to be fantastic for that to happen.  For instance, I bought this awesome shirt at Spencer's and paid full price, but felt so guilty.  However, I deemed it the most comfortable shirt I ever owned and went back and bought another one of a different print.  I practically live in these shirts I love them so much!  But when I shop, I head straight for the clearance racks.

2) $3 never looked so good!
I get such a kick getting complimented on a skirt that I bought off the dollar or three dollar clearance rack at WalMart.  I don't know if everybody is too embarrassed to be seen looking through them, but I'm not.  They're new, they're cheap as dirt and they're cute!  I usually get them in 3 colors, lol. 

3) Thrift stores=gold mines.
I know that some people assume second hand means disgusting or trashy.  I see these people as not being frugal.  Sure, you can go into a thrift store and find clothes with holes or stains... and you don't buy them.  But you can also find clothes that are mint or even have tags on them!  I love Old Navy and if I find a pair of jeans, a skirt or shorts from Old Navy in my size... heck yeah, I'm gonna buy them for $2.50!

4) Out with the old, in with the new.
If you're getting tired of wearing the same clothes all the time and want some new looks then chances are some of your friends are too.  Why not ask them if they want to do some swapping?  What's old to them might be fresh and new to you.

5) Two pairs of jeans go a long way.
Everything looks good with jeans.  If you get yourself a couple of good pairs of jeans that don't have any obvious detailing, you can get away with wearing them often.  (Just make sure you wash them from time to time!)

6) Check the web before clicking "complete order."
Once again, I'll mention how cheap I am.  Even if everything I'm ordering is on sale, I just know there HAS to be a website that will tell me a coupon code.  My favorite is RetailMeNot.  I buy a lot of clothes for myself and my kids online, and often I can scour the web and get a coupon code for free shipping or at least 10% off my entire purchase.

7) Free is the best way to go.  
I am all about freebies.  I'd sell my soul for an amazon gift card (joke).  I participate in Swagbucks, TwitterMoms, E-Rewards, MyLikes, you name it.  Often times I get gift cards for clothing and next to money, this is the best thing possible for me because I'm addicted to buying clothes, but have to force myself to remember that my family has to eat.

8) Check your parents' basement.
Are your parents pack rats?  Mine are.  And when I was in high school I thought I stumbled on a gold mine finding my moms clothes from the 70s.  Retro often comes back and you'd be surprised how many cool things your mom once wore.

9) Buy versatile.
Like I mentioned with the jeans, if you buy a top, a skirt, shoes, pants, what have you that can be casual or dressy, then you're in luck!  The same dress you wore to a meeting could be a dress you wear out on a date or even to lunch with friends.  Buying something that can be used many times for many types of occasions saves you from having to go shopping every time an event comes up.


10) Don't pay full price for ANYTHING!
Seriously.  My in-laws shop for their kids at Abercrombie, American Eagle, Hilfiger, etc.  It makes me cringe when I see the price tags.  I introduced my sister-in-law once to the wonder that was an outlet mall and she was amazed at how far her money could stretch.  She also really wanted a Hollister bikini and I couldn't watch her spend 80 bucks, so we went on Ebay and found her one NWT for $39.99.  I breathed a little easier that night.

These are just a few ways that I save money on clothes.  And believe me... I love buying clothes.

Gap Twitter Discount
Exclusive Gap Outlet and Banana Republic Factory Store Savings



I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Gap Outlet blogging program to be eligible to win a $20 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

10 Affordable Vacation Ideas

Last year was all about the staycation and having fun for free or nearly free in your own town.  That's grand and all, but sometimes you just want to get away from all the drama and the people and the mosquitoes that run rampant and go somewhere completely different. And if you have a good one that I didn't share, feel free to share it on the TwitterMoms discussion board!  Here are MY ten tips on how to make an actual vacation (leaving your town at least) more affordable:

1) Spend less money on the drive. 
Is there anything going on an hour away?  If you're like me and have small children, they don't realize how far you drove, they just realize the fun that they have when they get there.  Perhaps there's a festival or free summer events going on nearby that will leave you extra money for things like corndogs and funnel cakes.

2) Get a hotel with a pool.
We went on a trip in February and the kids didn't want to leave the hotel because all they wanted to do is swim.  Go somewhere with a hotel that has a pool and you're pretty much golden!

3) You don't have to stay at the Hilton.
I am one of the cheapest people out there.  Sure, I'd love to stay at Embassy Suites, but who can afford that?  (Although the glass elevators and happy hour might be worth it.)  I am constantly scouring the web for great prices on hotels and looking for the cheapest price that doesn't have horrendous reviews.  Out of all the hotels I've stayed at, I'd say there was only one that had me sleeping with one eye open.

4) The internet is your best friend when planning a trip.
It astounds me that people still use travel agents!  Those people are out to make money, not to save you money!  I go to all the sites for lowest plane fares like expedia, cheaptickets, priceline, hotwire, etc.  Then, I find the cheapest flights and go to that airlines website because 9 times out of ten, you can buy it cheapest on the actual airline website.

5) The internet can help you find things to do too!
Once again, ditch the travel agent, they are so 1972.  If you're looking for a place nearby or far away, good things to do in the city, famous locations, fun restaurants, kid-friendly places.  I don't know about all zoos, but a lot of them are free, and what kid doesn't love the zoo?


6) Save money on hotels and stay with a friend.
I have a relative in Florida, I have friends in California, Arizona, St. Louis, etc.  It's not a guarantee, but I'm pretty sure they'd let me stay with them free of charge for at least a day (some have offered up a week before.)  If you make a trip out of going to a place where you can stay with someone for free, that save a boatload of money that you're not paying to a hotel.

7) Bring some friends.
Whether you're single, married, have kids or not, you can always split expenses by bringing friends.  Carpool and share a villa.  Kids love sleepovers and don't require a king-size bed.  When you are able to split all your costs in two (or more) it really helps ease the wallet strain.

8) Bring your own food.
Every year my parents go to Florida and stay in their timeshare.  Some years I come and bring my family.  They save so much money by bringing their own food in coolers (and shopping at a local grocery store) and doing a lot of cooking compared to eating out every night.  Not only does this save money, but it is much healthier as well.

9) Kids are free!  
Look for vacation spots that have discounts for children or discounted tickets for children with the purchase of an adult.  Theme parks, restaurants, you name it- lots of places are family  friendly and offer discounts for kids.

10) Continental breakfast.
My mom always points out to me the amenities that the hotels have, especially if they have breakfast.  Being that it is the most important meal of the day, if you get a hotel that has a decent breakfast, take advantage!  Compare free to how much it would cost to take a family of four to Denny's or Ihop... 'nuff said.


Affordable Vacation Ideas
Toyota Sienna


I wrote this blog post while participating in the Toyota Sienna and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Go Diego, Go!: The Great Panda Rescue DVD Review & Giveaway

Both my kids have long loved Diego. Unfortunately, it fails to win their loyalty if Dora is an option. I love Diego because it teaches them Spanish AND teaches them about animals. I love animals and find it pretty interesting to learn about these diverse animals and where they live. Plus, at the end of each episode is a "review" where the children are asked to remember certain details about the animals they have just learned about. I think it's excellent and gladly let my children watch it!

In The Great Panda Adventure, Diego rescues rare giant pandas in China.  With the help of Baby Jaguar, Rescue Pack and  Click the Camera, Diego must help the pandas find a new home on Bamboo Mountain.  I won't spoil it and tell you if they make it or not, lol.

Episodes:
All Aboard the Giant Panda Express!
Leaping Lemurs!
Koala's Birthday Hug
Diego Saves the Beavers

plus two music videos by the Fresh Beat Band!


Family Time Factor: One of the few cartoons I can tolerate watching with the kids or having on in the background. I think it is best enjoyed by boys or girls from birth to 10.

MOTR Grade: A

Go Diego, Go!: The Great Panda Adventure now available on DVD!!!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

Nickelodeon and its reps are nice enough to provide one copy for giveaway!!  This contest will end May 24 at noon and is open to US residents only.

To enter:

1)Follow Nick, Jr. DVD and/or Nickelodeon DVD on Twitter.

2) post a link to this giveaway using #nickjr as a hash tag and mentioning one of the two Nickelodeon twitter accounts listed in the post (if you have room, you can mention me in the tweet as well.)

3) Follow or subscribe to my blog, or follow me on Twitter or digg this, stumble, etc.

4) Post a link to this giveaway on facebook, your own site or twitter and then return here with to let me know!
For additional entries, each day you tweet about this with the necessary inclusions, you can post the link here.

Good luck!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Seriously, Women??

I'm not a big fan of women... it's more of a generalized thing, cause I know there's quite a many great women out there.  I have a handful of female friends as well (not that I respect them all the time.)  I have just always been a better friend with guys because you don't have to deal with all the drama and the woman issues.

Lately, I've been thinking about this one thing that women do that absolutely drives me INSANE.  Why do women take men back that cheat?  Why?  I mean, do you really think he's not going to do it again?  Clearly he doesn't respect you and clearly you don't respect yourself.  I could handle a great many things in a relationship, but not being cheated on.  If I'm not good enough, so be it, I'd rather be alone or wait for someone who thinks I'm special *gag*.  But it has got to be humiliating to be cheated on, but then when a woman takes the guy back, it's like... are you serious?!  And don't get me started on when the man cheats multiple times.  Case in point, my friend Sharlyne was talking to me about this girl she knows that I've heard about.  I said to her (cause I'm a gossiping old biddy) "did you hear so and so cheats on so and so all the time?"  her response was, "oh yeah, everyone knows."  (don't judge my spelling, capitalization or grammar cause it's a blog yo!)  So I say to Sharlyne, "but they aren't married and they don't have kids, so why not break it off?  Is [said female] really that desperate?  Is her self esteem that low?"  And Sharky says to me, "actually they're trying to have a baby."

My jaw drops.
I shake my head.
Bile rises up in my throat.

We immediately end the discussion.  Cause seriously, I no longer blame the dude... she lets him do it and he's with an idiot, so what does she expect?

I know I am coming across harshly, but women, grow some backbones here!  No, I'm not a feminazi in the slightest, you won't catch me on a corner burning my bra and manbashing.  I just don't get it.  There is no way that these women can't find another man somewhere down the road.  And why do they need a man anyway?  How about taking the time to gain some self esteem and realize that we are all special and deserve to be respected.

And that is your lesson for the day.

Wonder Pets! The First Rescue DVD Review

Wonder Pets, Wonder Pets, we're on our way...

One of my quotes on Facebook has been from Wonder Pets- something about having celery after a good pee (it was from an episode with a puppy that needed to go outside.)  How can you go wrong with a show that features a guinea pig, a duck and a turtle as caped heroes out to rescue all the animals on earth in various adventures?  This is a show that I can totally tolerate watching with my kids.

The First Rescue!  DVD shows us "How It All Began" in which Linny  tells Tuck, Ming-Ming and Ollie (the rabbit) the story of how the Wonder Pets met, how they discovered teamwork, who they first helped and where all their catchy songs came from.  It also includes the episodes: Save the Mermaid!/Save the Visitor's Birthday Party!, Happy Mother's Day!/Save the Sun Bear! and A Job Well Done!/Save the Rhino!

These little guys are great at teaching lessons and morals in fun and creative ways as well as teaching children about new animals and their habitats in each adventure.

Family Time Factor: Probably more kindergarten and under.


MOTR Grade: A


Wonder Pets!  The First Rescue is currently available on DVD!!!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What is a bad daycare?

My kids started going to "Hobbit Hole Daycare" (alias) in July of 2008.  My son was 6 months and my daughter was 2 years 7 months.  In the time that we've been there I've complained a great deal, but finally did some researching and found a daycare that sounds great!  Today was the kids' last day at Hobbit Hole.  I did not register them for the fall (50 bucks to hold a spot), and did not tell them we found a new daycare because I did not want there to be hard feelings.  Well, none of the people there said goodbye to my kids today and I was given a bill for the whole month of May when they will have only been there 2 days.

Here are some reasons I did not like said daycare:

1) Most of the employees don't seem to like kids.  They get paid minimum wage and are not treated the best, nor do they treat the kids the best.  I know I can't stand being around my own kids 24/7, let alone someone else's, but why not hire people to work at a daycare that actually LIKE kids?

2)  My son has cried every single day I dropped him off except maybe 3 days- out of 2 years!!!  I LOVE the last teacher he had, but she was moved to a different class recently.  In the time my son has been in the toddler room, he's had about 6 different teachers!  I liked one.

3) My daughter was terrified of naptime because apparently some of the workers were covering the kids' heads with blankets and not letting them be uncovered.

4) My son was constantly being bitten by some nameless child.

5) Everytime I pick my kids up, they are head to toe covered in dirt.

6) A couple weeks ago I showed up and my son had a black eye and no one knew it wasn't there when I dropped him off.

7)  I have picked my son up twice and instantly smelled he had pooped and when I changed him it was totally dry and caked to his tush.

8) All the employees are on a different page and don't seem to communicate well.  My son is lactose intolerant and I don't know how many times I'd see them giving him milk and when I'd point it out, they'd say no one told them.

Okay, that's enough examples.  They were clearly more interested in making money than pleasing parents or having happy kids.  Oh, and I forgot to mention you are expected to pay a month in advance.  I don't believe in paying for services I haven't received and if my kid is sick, I still have to pay (which I know most daycares do.)  Although I appreciated that they let me pay at the end of the month.

So this new place I found sounds fantastic!  I toured twice, each time with one of the kids and my husband came the second time.  Their 2 year olds group looked like they were having a great time and they get to watch NickJr before naptime and in the afternoon- just like at my house!  They had recliners because the workers were actually allowed to hold the kids.  They had potty trained almost all the kids.

My kids start at the new daycare Tuesday.  I'm really excited to know how they like it and guess what- they charge hourly and you pay at the end of the month for the exact hours you used.  I will keep you posted on how it goes, but so far they seem great!  My daughter will be in afternoon preschool in the fall, but I always worry about poor L, because he's such a mama's boy!