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When I shop for rugs

Every.Time.

when i shop for rugs

Krogering to Disney!

In honor of our upcoming Disney World vacation being paid off in full as of today (54 days before we arrive), I want to share the simple way we paid off our trip and how it wasn’t as painful as it might have been otherwise.

A little background:  We started planning our trip during Fall Break, in October. On a whim, after a few years of “Well, we’ll go in a few years…” and “Maybe when they’re a little bit older…”, we decided to go on and just do it. We didn’t have money saved up for the trip already and we don’t have a ton of extra money after bills each month. We both work and are paid twice each month.

The simple thing we did was to purchase Disney gift cards at Kroger each time we got paid. We started doing $200 every paycheck but we had to step that up before and after Christmas. We also got a really big Disney card gift from my parents for Christmas that we applied to our trip. We are using an authorized Disney vacation planner (Tiffany Hanks from Off to Neverland Travel – If you tell her I sent you and you end up booking through her, I might receive a $25 gift card, just so you’re aware!) so I just take a photo of the back of the card and send the photo to Tiffany! It’s been wonderful, she’s taken care of everything and saved me a lot of time!

Our trip is costing about $3,000 (no airfare, 5 nights at the Art of Animation, regular dining plan, 5 day base tickets for 2 adults 2 kids). If we had just done $200 each paycheck (2x/month), it would have been paid for relatively “painfree” in 7.5 months.

Disney gift cardThe great thing about getting our Disney gift cards at Kroger is of course the gas points! At Kroger (and other big grocery chains), you get double gas points on gift cards. So every two weeks, we would get $o.40 off per gallon, sometimes more if they were running a special promotion. The times when we did more, like today when I got a $500 card, we could get $1.00 off per gallon! That can go a long way with today’s high gas prices!

One small tip about going this route:  Find a Kroger store that carries the choose your own amount gift cards. I’ve seen them in denominations of $25, $45 (3 $15 cards), $50, and the ones for any amount from $50-500. This just saves a little hassle, so you don’t have to scratch off and send in multiple gift cards.

Being able to pay for the trip a little at a time has make this quickly-planned trip easy to handle on a budget, so I recommend this way of paying to anyone trying to do the same thing!

Is there a better way to use Disney gift cards? Have you used them to pay for a Disney trip?

Curl up by the fire with Duraflame!

If your neck of the woods is anything like mine (central Kentucky), it is COLD. Not just a little chilly…I mean COLD.

Natural Duraflame firelogI’ll be the first to admit, I’m a wimp on both ends of the weather spectrum — the very cold days, the very hot days? I’m not a fan. But the one thing that can make me enjoy a cold day is curling up by a warm and toasty fire with my kids! We don’t have a fireplace at our house and have enjoyed outdoor fires in our backyard fire pit thanks to Duraflame before, and over Christmas vacation, we warmed ourselves by the fire at my parents’ house with a fabulous Duraflame log.

And Then...Story Starters Duraflame sent us a firelog along with this awesome set of story starters from Compendium, a gift company that makes some awesome products! They sent “And Then…” (Volume One), a set of 20 story-starting prompts to get your kids’ creative juices flowing!

These story starters are so much fun! It gets you set up with a really cool premise, sets a scene, and ends with “and then…”! Your kids will amaze you and most likely inspire some laughs with the fun ways they’ll finish the story. Whether your story starts with a secret door or a hot air balloon, you’ll be transported to a story where anything can happen!

Starting a story

Curling up by the fire with Duraflame

I can’t think of a better way to spend a snow day than to be snuggled up with my kids by a warm fireplace with a Duraflame log, telling stories with my boys.

Thank you, Compedium and Duraflame, for making the cold weather enjoyable!

And Then…Volume One is available for $24.95 at live-inspired.com! Duraflame logs are available at most grocery stores! Check out their full line of products at Duraflame.com!

Disclosure:  Duraflame’s awesome PR team sent me a complimentary firelog and the story starters set in exchange for an honest review. I received no monetary compensation for this post and my thoughts are my own.

Winter Storm? Meh.

For everyone who lives in a not-quite-Midwest and not-quite-The-South state like Kentucky, I give you this:

not impressed with this winter storm

We constantly get forecasts of apocalyptic snow and it NEVER HAPPENS. Gettin’ real tired of your lies, meteorologists*.

*Disclaimer:  I know, they’re not fortune-tellers. But really.

Autograph Books for WDW at Dollar Tree!

Are you and your family heading to Walt Disney World or another Disney resort in 2014? Then GET THEE TO A DOLLAR TREE!

Not only do they have some adorable Disney toys and whatnot, up by the register today, I found these Journals that are PERFECT to use for character autograph books!

Autograph books for WDW at Dollar Tree!

There is also a Minnie Mouse variety, but I got two of the Mickey & Friends books and we will customize them for each of our boys so they can keep their own books. How cute are these, and only $1.00 each!

If you foresee many trips to The World, you could get many books, but I would recommend just checking back every few months, as the styles are bound to change!

The Blue Car

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took our boys, Miles (5) and Spencer (3) to see Santa. We had put it off several times because it just seemed like a big ordeal, we knew it would be busy, and we just wanted it to be “right.”

Do you know what I mean, wanting it to be “right”? I want everyone to be dressed nicely, faces freshly scrubbed, no one overtired and grumpy…Unfortunately, I fear that I spend so much time waiting for the “right” moment that I miss the opportunity to just let things happen. And when I just let things happen, I’m usually amazed by how my vision of right was actually wrong.

TheBlueCarFor about a week prior, I had been prepping the boys, asking them to be thinking of what they wanted for Christmas, telling them that this was their chance to ask Santa for something.We finally made it to see the mall Santa, after securing a Fast Pass to avoid the inevitably long line. We were able to bypass the line, which would have easily meant an hour or more’s wait, and after just five minutes in line, it was our turn.

It happened quickly, the boys went up to talk to Santa by themselves while we stood to the side, then they smiled for the camera and we got a cute picture to put into a scrapbook. As we walked over to the checkout desk to receive our photo, I bent down and asked the boys what they had asked Santa for. Miles looked at me and said “I asked Santa for a blue car to give to a boy or girl who doesn’t have any toys. We have a lot of toys, too many cars, Mommy.” Feeling a lump in my throat, I hugged tightly and gave him a kiss on the top of his head.

Over the next few days, Miles continued to talk about the blue car. “I hope Santa remembers to bring the blue car to give to another kid.” “Another kid is going to be so happy to see that blue car!” In the busyness of the season, I made several frantic trips around town grabbing last minute gifts and sure enough, on Christmas Eve, I was in Walmart  searching for a blue car to wrap and put under the tree from Santa.

Before wrapping the car, I wrote a letter to Miles from Santa (sorry, Claus, I forged your name) and included it in the package.

TheBlueCarLetter

I have to admit, I was slightly worried that he would unwrap the gift and want to play with the car, thinking that perhaps he would forget about those kids who don’t get many presents at Christmas. But the next morning, the boys opened their one gift from Santa and Miles said “I’m not going to get this out, we’re going to save it for another boy or girl.”

Without a plan as to what we would do with the toy, we loaded up the car that afternoon and headed to Tennessee to visit my parents. My mom, always well-prepared, called a few non-profit organizations in their area to find a place where we could deliver the car.

TheBlueCarDeliveryBefore we arrived at Mom and Dad’s house, after a long day in the car, we stopped at a homeless shelter that was serving a Christmas meal. We walked in and found a staff person and I asked Miles to tell him why we were there. Miles handed the car to the man and said “I asked Santa for this car to give to someone who doesn’t have a lot of toys.” We spoke to the man for a few moments and he asked for Miles’s name and then we left, having delivered that special blue car.

I know the car isn’t a big deal; it’s not a fantastic toy that a child would be hoping to receive under their Christmas tree. But for us, it was about the reminder that we are blessed beyond measure and that we need to spend time giving rather than receiving during the holidays and throughout the year. I’m not sure where he got the idea to ask Santa for a gift for someone else. It might have come from church, or the Christian school where he attends Kindergarten. It may have come from our recent trip to get small gifts to pack in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child. It may have come from my requests to think of some toys in their playroom that we could get rid of, because we have so many.

Wherever it came from, I was grateful for my son’s sweet request and I hope that he continues to not just understand that others don’t live in a nice house, have food on the table at every meal, and more than enough toys, but wants to act on that understanding. I hope he can remind me often that it’s more important to think of others than ourselves. And finally, I hope he knows that this Christmas, he received a most wonderful gift, the gift of giving.

Totlandia Review

Totlandia The Onesies SummerThe Moms are back and at it again! Those lovable and love-to-hateable members of the Pacific Heights Mom & Tots Club are back in action in Totlandia:  The Onesies (Summer) to conclude the full year of The Onesies!

When we last saw Bettina, Lorna, Ally, Jillian, Jade, and the other ladies, things were looking pretty grim for the future of the club moms’ friendship. How could they weather such storms:  betrayal, unrequited love, lies, and scandal?

Here’s the official book tease from the Totlandia website:

As summer sizzles in Totlandia, emotions boil over for the newest members of Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club, whose trust in each other is sorely tempted by Bettina and her club politics.

When Jillian’s vindictive joke backfires, she learns the true meaning of forgiveness.

Jade’s betrayal puts her in a dangerous downward spiral with no bottom in sight—until she finds friendship and redemption where she least expects it.

Lorna faces the biggest trial in her marriage, and makes an important decision that may end it for good.

While Ally may regret the choices made she to get accepted in the club, her exile puts new opportunities in her path, thanks to Brady and his ceaseless desire to win her over—with Barry’s help, who is playing his own little game with the Top Moms Committee.

But it’s Bettina who suffers the ultimate punishment—one that changes her life, and the livelihood of the club, forever.

Author Josie Brown takes her readers on another fun ride through the lives of the PHM&T moms but this book has a little more heart than the first three. The women have made some serious choices and they’re having to own up to them now. Once they see the effects their words and deeds have on those around them, the ladies have to deal with it and in some cases, apologies are in order.

The book, while dealing with very grown-up issues, does give some giggles at the expense of the super over-the-top Bettina and crew. I loved the jokes about an art themed birthday party for a 4 year old, where the pint-sized guests would be dressed as famous artists. Can you imagine??

At the end of the book, it’s clear that things won’t be the same when we meet up with the Pacific Heights Mom & Tots Club again. BIG changes are in store for at least two members. There is some good resolution for a few of the storylines, but there’s still much to discover about the ladies and their lives. There’s one Top Mom Committee member whose comeuppance I’m (im)patiently awaiting! She’s got it comin’!

For anyone who loves a fast-paced book that delivers laughs and heart, pick up the Totlandia series, available individually or currently in a 4-book series pack, for nearly all e-readers! They’re a quick read that you’ll love to talk about with your playgroup moms!

Disclosure:  I was sent a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my review. I received no compensation for this post and my opinions are my own.

Working Mom Truth

All those years at home as a SAHM

Working moms…Amirite??

 

Radical Interpretation

My 3 year old, Spencer, is in Preschool this year. Unlike his big brother, he has ZERO interest in learning his alphabet, numbers, or colors or anything. But he IS learning, whether he likes it or not, and one thing he has learned to do is color nicely and draw.

Yesterday, he drew his first portrait of me.

Child draws mommy like a surfboard

DaddyScrubs

As the parenting product industry rapidly increases, it’s becoming easy to find and buy gifts for moms. But what about the dads?!

DaddyScrubs is a dad-founded and dad-run company that makes fantastic gifts for dads! I met the DaddyScrubs team two years ago at the ABC Kids Expo and they have such a passion for fatherhood! I love that they are making great items that dads love and will actually use!

The first line of products that brought the company into the parenting spotlight a few years ago were their scrubs for dads – DaddyScrubs, designed to make it clear to everyone around the delivery room that the daddy is Daddy, not the doctor! They also have Daddy t-shirts, hoodies, caps, diaper backpacks, and so much more. Their styles have branched out from their classic “Daddy”, and we got to try one out at our house, the Periodic Table of Daddy Elements t-shirt!

My husband absolutely loves his Periodic Table of Daddy Elements t-shirt from DaddyScrubs! It’s a cute design with even cuter jokes in the “periodic table.”

Hot dad, no?

Hot dad, no?

Here’s a close-up shot of the Periodic Table of Daddy Elements:

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 4.31.57 PM So cute! I love how they totally cover all of the bases! My favorites are Pb (& jelly) and of course Pd (Play dates)!

This shirt is a conversation starter for sure, everyone wants to see what’s on the shirt. There’s so much that dads at all stages can relate to. From Pickles & ice cream to Prom, the Periodic Table of Daddy Elements is a sweet reminder of all the things dads are great at doing for their families.

Take a look at some of these other great DaddyScrubs gifts:

The Daddy Diaper Pack  recently won the SheKnows 2013 Parenting Award and it’s easy to see why! The Daddy Diaper Pack has roomy pockets, an insulated cooler pocket, and straps for keeping your essentials close at hand!

DaddyScrubs has so many gifts for dads in your life, whether they’re expectant dads, new dads, or expert dads! Go shopping for the dads on your Christmas shopping list at DaddyScrubs.com!

Disclosure:  DaddyScrubs sent us one complimentary t-shirt in exchange for our honest review. I was not paid for this post and I was not required to write a positive review.