Monday, November 21, 2011

24 Days of Kindness


I would like to say that I am so incredibly thoughtful that I made this idea up myself; but alas I got this idea from Pinterest. You know...someone blogged about this, then someone did it too, then someone pinned it, then I ended up pinning it and so on and so on. I've adapted it by creating it for the Christmas season and here it is....

24 Days of Kindness

Christmas is first off about Christ. The second part is about being grateful & giving to others without the requirement of receiving anything in return. Yes, I know that the majority of us always receive something in return but would you have the same mindset about gift giving if you weren't receiving anything back?  The gift giving part of Christmas is to me inspired by the wisemen who gifted the infant Christ who they had never met, who couldn't give gifts in return, & who had yet to do anything for them.

So why can't we do that? From Dec. 1st to Dec. 24, I challenge you to do something nice for someone you don't know everyday. (If you would like to, you can also do kind things for those you know.)  

I'm posting this early so you have time to think about some of the things you could do. Here is a quick basic list (some of which I plan on doing myself)
  • Pay for the person in the fast food or coffee shop line behind you
  • Give a store giftcard to a random person (Walmart, Target, grocery)
  • Donate to a food bank or homeless shelter
  • Buy breakfast for a co-worker
  • Leave a generous tip for your waiter/waitress 
  • Bring Christmas cards or poinsettias to a patient @ a nursing home
Or other non-monetary tasks...

  • bake cookies/goodies for your local police/fire deparment to show your thanks & support
  • donate books you no longer read to the library
  • put baked good on your neighbors doors
  • be a polite driver for a day
  • let someone in line in front of you
  • babysitting for a couple who doesn't get to go out much
  • helping someone who needs it with home/yard work
Really, just let it flow. Plan some. Make some spontaneous. Either way, do it with the spirit of giving & love. Leave handwritten notes explaining this was a random act of kindness. Encourage those who can to pay it forward.

I'll post weekly on my 24 Days of Kindness. I encourage you to share this with others & participate. Don't just read this & think "mmm, that's a really nice thing." DO IT. 

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped. 
Proverbs 11:25  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Love Letters.

I love Zeke. I really, truly, whole heartedly, devotedly, protectively love that child. Best.blessing.ever. BUT, he's in that phase. The terrible two-hitting-destructive-opinionated-rebelling phase. I won't lie...there are some days I want to curl up in a ball or run far far away.

I often write Zeke mentally letters...or post mini letters on Facebook. They usually go like this:

Dear Zeke,

Breaking my glasses was bad timing since I'm going to see the Breaking Dawn premiere in a few hours. Now I have to drive with one arm securing them to my face.

I love you anyways,
Mommy

OR 

Dear Zeke,

It would be nice if you would finally sleep through the night. Your a year and a half for crying out loud. You smush me at night & I hardly ever get a decent night's sleep.

I love you anyways,

Mommy

OOOOOOR

Dear Zeke,

Your driving me crazy today. Quit being so cranky. Please stop throwing my food out of the grocery cart & screaming when I scold you for it.
I love you anyways,
Mommy

Then I realized that if Zeke could write me a letter, it would probably go something like this.

Woman Mommy,
I'm only a year and a half old. I'm curious because my brain is like a sponge and sometimes that means I'm gonna break stuff. I wake up at night because I want to snuggle with you. It's where I feel the safest. I'm not the only cranky one; your pretty cranky with me sometimes yourself. Plus, how else am I supposed to express how I feel? I throw your food out of the grocery cart because I'm bored & it amuses me. Again, I'm only a year and a half old.
I love you anyways,
Zeke


It's true....motherhood is the most amazing, wonderful, rewarding, & difficult thing you will do (if you choose) in your life. It requires constant learning, sacrifice, patience, &   ever growing love. I'm not a perfect mother & I never will be but I have the desire to always be the best mother I can be and that's what matters.

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Reasons Why it's OK to see Breaking Dawn.

Ok, I know there are pretty much two extreme sides of the "Twilight" fence. Those who A: love it and those who B: hate it. There also might be me a category in there of 'borderline obsessed-go to the midnight primere wearing a Breaking Dawn shirt" type.

Either way, you shouldn't be ashamed to see Breaking Dawn (or any of the other movies for that fact). Here are my top 10 reasons why:

1. Look around. That line for the movie at midnight? It's not full of pre-teens. Lots of middle aged & older women AND men are just as eager as you to see the movie. It's not like your a 20or30something yr old in an endless sea of preteens.

2. Taylor Lautner & his werewolf buddies shirtless. There is some serious respect to be had for fitness. Eclipse provided the hottest half naked bodies since the 300 came out.


3. Deep down inside there is some deep psychological trigger that the Twilight saga ignites in the majority of the female population. You just can't help it.

4. Who says vampires have to be ruthless, blood-sucking killers with no emotions? Change is nice. I mean, who doesn't kind of want the undying (no pun intended) devotion of a sexy vampire who's eternal love for you prevents him from giving into his deep rooted insticts eating you & destroying your soul.

5. Bella actually makes quite the inspiring heroine. Maybe not so much in the first few books with all the teenage hormones/angst but she's seriously ready to lay down her life for her life sucking parasite human/vamp baby (serious show of maternal love) and her family. (I think that treads into Part II stuff..)
 
6. From my understanding, the wedding totally blows Kim Kardashian's wedding out of the water. You gotta get some enjoyment out of that.

7. Just because you like the movie doesn't mean you can't laugh at the whole "sparking-in-the-sunlight" deal.

8. It's 2 hours where your so wrapped up in the movie (whether you love it or hate it) you forget about any other stress/problems in your life.

9. Guys: In the middle of the sappiness, there is some action. It's not like your wife/girlfriend/sister/mother is taking you to see The Notebook. (I may or may not have made that statement particularly for Noah who I know really enjoys the movies even if he doesn't come out and say it.)

10. There is lots of moral lessons to be learned. Edward wanting to save the whole "consummation" of the relationship for marriage, something not often seen today. The truce of vampires & werewolves who are bitter enemies. The overcoming power of love. Sacrifice. Contemplations on the real meaning of life & death.  ... Sure, you might have to look past some of the special effects and occasional stiffness of the acting but it's there.

I don't know which side your on but I can tell you that I will be standing in line in approximately 5 hours to see the first public showing. ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Refurbishing Friends: Help a Sister Out.

We had this standard laminate black entertainment center from Walmart that once upon a time went with my decor & my tiny couch. We had been planning on getting a new couch so I began hunting for a new entertainment center as well. Out with the old, in with the new. Of course then  came along so it was time for some updating.I already knew what I wanted: a long dresser to turn into an entertainment center. I had searched & searched with no luck but finally I found & I bought this dresser off a local gal for $30 (I bartered some maternity clothing, too).

O wait. Who forgot to take a picture of the original dresser before any changes? I did. This will have to do. Note: the riveting football game on TV. Noah was probably rolling his eyes behind me for interrupting his view to take a picture.

It's a sturdy wood piece with outdated brass handles, some paint scuffs, & a couple dings. It also came with a glass top piece but wouldn't you know...I broke it. (That was fun to clean up.)


My efforts at transforming so far:

I've replaced the below handles with some simple oil rubbed bronze ones. 

I've removed the drawers in the top along with the rails/spacers. My intentions are to lay some self stick tile for the "flooring", cut a few large holes in the back for ventilation & cords to store our gaming systems/satellite box/surround sound control in it.

 What I need help with is the overall change of the finish. I'm having a mental block. If you need to see what the other side of my living room looks like see Betsy.

What do I do? Paint it? If so, what color? (I've already kicked white/black/baby blue/robin's egg blue/yellow out of the picture. My kitchen cabinets are green so that may be out, too. Unless it's a deeper green?)
I could restain it but honestly with a 18 month old in the house, I'm not sure I'm up for that. 

I could leave it I suppose.

See what I mean?! I would LOVE some opinions. Pleeeease. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Not So Extreme Couponing.

Have you ever watched Extreme Couponing? If you haven't, you could skip it. If you have, then you'll probably understand my post. A little part of me enjoys watching Extreme Couponing; the other part of me gets really annoyed for the stigma that Extreme Couponing places on anyone who uses coupons.

First off, let me say that couponing is a great way to save money. I really got into learning couponing to save money earlier this year and I really enjoy it. It's kind of like a game sometimes. Keep in mind that I'm no couponing pro but I'm not too shabby either. Yes, a have a mini stockpile of the basics (toothbrushes, toothpaste, body soap, handwashes, dish soap, detergent, etc.) but I don't have storage racks with enough to last me until the Lord comes back. By the way, does anyone else think we're going to see a new show soon that is a combo of Extreme Couponing & Hoarding: Buried Alive? (As a side note, I do give kudos to the couponers who buy large quantities but instead of keeping it all choose to donate a lot of it to those in need.)

Anyways, I thought I would do a blog post on what I consider a successful couponing trip that A: doesn't clear to shelves for other couponers B: doesn't make me look like a crazy hoarder and C: saved me about 40% of the money I would have usually spent.


It doesn't look like a lot but I'll give you a general breakdown: (Note: Target accepts a manufacturer & a Target coupon which is why you'll notice I used two coupons on most transactions)

Transaction #1
Glade Holiday Scented Oil Candle Holder $2.50 sale minus a $1.00 off coupon $1.50
(2) Glade Holiday Scented Oil Candles $2.50 sale ea. minus a $1.00 off 2 coupon $4.00
Glade Scented Holiday Jar Candles $2.50 sale ea. minus a $1.00 off 2 coupon $4.00
Plus I recieved a $5 Target giftcard for buying 5 since there was a promo going on.
My outofpocket total was $9.50 AND I got the $5 giftcard which makes each item just under $1.

Not bad for a yummy smelling Christmas house, eh? :)

Transaction #2:
Huggies Little Movers Diapers $9.49 minus $3 off coupon & $2 off coupon $4.49
Method AntiBac Kitchen Cleaner $2.99 sale minus $1 off coupon $1.99
Method Lil Bowl Blue Toliet Cleaner  $3.99 minus $1 off coupon $2.99
I LOVE Method products. Environmentally friendly, nontoxic
(2) Bounce Dryer Bars 2/$8 minus 2 $1.00 off coupons & 2 $.50 coupons $5.00
I LOVE the dryer bars, too!
Downy Unstoppables $6.99 minus $2 off coupon & $1.00 off coupon $3.99
Yes, I love the Unstoppables even more. My clothes have never smelled so good.
Merona Clearance Tshirt $6.48 minus $3.00 coupon $3.48 (basic black wardrobe staple)
Reach Toothbrushes 2 pk plus bonus toothbrush clearanced for $4.24 minus $.50 off coupon and $1 off  coupon $2.74 
Reach Kid's Toothbrush 2pk  $3.24 minus $.50 off coupon & $1.00 off coupon $1.74
Garnier Fructis Shampoo  $2.84 minus $1.00 off coupon $1.84
Garnier Fructis Conditioner $2.84 minus $1.00 coupon $1.84
(2) Bounty Paper Towels Giant Roll 8 pks sale $10.49 minus 4 $1.00 off coupons $16.98
Biotrue Contact Solution 2oz sale $2.93 minus $2.00 off coupon $.93
(2) Market Pantry Juices $2.64  ea. minus  $1.00 off 2 coupon $4.28 
(2) Market Pantry Fruit Snacks $1.70 ea. minus $1.00 off 2 coupon $2.40
(2) Scrubbing Bubbles Toliet Gel 6pk $3.99 ea. minus $1.00 off 2 coupon $2.00 off 2 $4.98
Market Pantry Pasta (Lasagna, Egg Noodles, Spagetti) $1.00 off 3 coupon $3.30
Total $62.97 minus $5 giftcard from previous transaction 
My out of pocket total $57.97
 
For it all, the original cost would have been $108.47 but I ended up paying $67.47 which is right about 40% savings on that trip. (If I have done my math right...math has always been my worst subject.) A 40% savings on general everyday use household items = excellent in my book. No, it wasn't free & no, the store didn't end up giving me money but I'm just as happy with it.

So if you watch Extreme Couponing and you think that couponing for you is a waste of time because you can't spend 12 hours in a store, you don't have time to get a 234 newspapers, and you don't need 147 boxes of Tictacs; then I hope that this post has reassured you.

:)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween

Technically last year was Zeke's first Halloween but really he just spent the time in his stroller & car seat so I'm gonna pretend like that doesn't count. This year I indulged him in some real "old school" trick or treating. Old school trick or treating classifies as real door to door goings. (Yes, I think trunk or treats are a wonderful thing and we did that the week leading up to but there still is something different about the door to door experience.)

Zeke was a bear. (Read: hand me down snowsuit and eyeliner painted nose and whiskers. Why whiskers? I may have gotten a little confused.)


Whiskers or no whiskers, he makes one cute critter. After about the first dozen houses, Zeke began to get how this trick or treating thing works.

1. Walk into stranger's house
2. Be pulled out of stranger's house
3. Grab candy (sometime he would say "pwees")
4. Say byebye
5. run away giggling

 It was fun to watch him. He's learning way to much too quickly. *sigh*