25% Off Photo Gifts for Valentine's Day

Jan 29, 2010

If you're thinking of making some photo gifts for Valentine's Day, create an account with Photoworks and then use the code BEMINE to get 25% off your entire purchase.

Click here for that deal.

Special K Cereal - Buy One Get One Free

Sign up with Special K for their eClub and you can register to get a coupon for Buy One box of Special K, get one FREE!

The coupon has been reset, so you can print this coupon again if you already got it before.
Click here for the site.

Free Ensure Shake

If you go to the Ensure website, by clicking here, and sign up to join their eClub, they'll send you a coupon for a FREE Ensure drink - and coupons for savings on a 6-pack of the drinks.

The chocolate is really good!

Donate Breast Milk to Haiti

Jan 28, 2010

If you are a nursing mother and would like to donate breast milk to the many, MANY babies and infants in Haiti who need nutrition, click here for information on how to donate your milk.  I believe Southwest Airlines is flying the milk there for free.

To find a milk bank near you, click here.

FREE $5 Babies R Us eGiftcard


If you become a fan of Babies R Us on Facebook, and then fill out the form under their Signup tab, they will email you a gift certicate for a FREE $5 at Babies R Us.  It can be used online or in the store (at both Babies R Us and Toys R US.)

The deal is only good for TODAY - so hurry!

And, make sure your spouse signs up, too!

(Thanks, Sandy, for the heads up on this one!)

25 FREE Music Downloads

Jan 27, 2010

If you join EMusic, for a 7-day trial period, you get 25 FREE music downloads - of your choice. 

You can cancel at any time or at the end of that 7 days (otherwise, they start to charge you!). 

AND, even if you cancel, you get to keep your music downloads!

This is a great way, if you are a music lover, to save money (about $25) on songs!

Click here to sign up.

Free Einstein Bagel and Schmear AGAIN

Jan 26, 2010

Once again, if you are a fan of Einstein's bagels on Facebook, they have up a new coupon for a FREE bagel and schmear. 

Coupon is good until January 31.

Go get your coupon!

Entertainment Books 2010

Have you gotten your Entertainment book this year?  My friend, Michele, and I both just ordered ours. 

Remember, they are a GREAT deal - use them once or twice and you make back the money you spent - and then, it's just savings all year long!  My favorite deals are the discounted movie tickets ($6.50 per ticket) and the BOGO FREE meals at so many restaurants! 
I just got my copy and there are some GREAT FREEBIES in it! (No purchase necessary ones!) 

These are the ones in the Austin book - and I think most of them (if not all) are in all the books.

Free Dessert Shooter at Applebees
Free Popcorn at Regal Cinemas
Free Admission to Regal Cinemas on your birthday
Free Small McCafe at McDonalds
Free Regular Fountain Drink at Boston Market
Free Famous Star Burger at Carl Jrs
Free Cinnamon Twists at Taco Bell
Free Coffee at Cinnebon
Free Cold Kona Blend at Maui Wowi
Free Pretzel at Auntie Anne's
Free Egg Roll at Samuri Sam's
Free Breadstick's at Fox's Pizza Den
Free Soft drink at Wings to Go

Right now, the price is $22.75 - they seem to raise and lower it each week.  And, if you purchase a 2nd book, it's only $15.  That's why Michele and I bought ours together and they we divided the total bill by two.

Click here to order.

Savings on Designer Brands

Jan 25, 2010

If you like to purchase designer brands, I have a way for you to save some money on it.

There is a site called "Beyond the Rack."  It is an 'invitation only' site - but no worries, I'm inviting you now!  Just click on my link right here.  It's FREE to join.

Savings are generally between 50 - 70% off retail price.  Sales last for only 4 days, so shop early and often. 

They carry brands like Fendi, Versace, Gucci and Armani.

Lowe's Deal on Compact Fluorescent Lights

A friend of mine just passed this deal on to me (Thanks, Dan).

He said that he was just in Lowes and saw that they have 7 packs of compact fluorescent bulbs on sale for under $8.  That alone would be a great deal. But these packs also come with a $10 off coupon for any purchase over $50.

So if they're buying that new ceiling fan, plants, or any larger purchase at Lowes, you basically get the bulbs for free.  PLUS, you save money on your electric bill!

Clip Your Coupons Online

I realize many of you already do this, but for those of you who don't . . . did you know that you can find hundreds, if not thousands, of cgrocery oupons, online?  You can print them right from your computer and take them to the store.  It's simple!

One of the best sites to use when doing this is Coupons.com.  We don't get a Sunday paper, so I find this to be extremely convenient for me! 

I just glanced at this week's coupons and I saw:

$1 off Scott Toilet paper and paper towels
$2 off Huggies diapers
50 cents off 2 Pillsbury Crescent rolls

Click here to log onto their site.

Krispy Kreme Deal

Jan 20, 2010

Right now, if you head over to Krisy Kreme and buy 12 donuts, you'll receive 12 Valentine's Day cards.  Each card has a coupon for one FREE donut. 

Click here for the Krispy Kreme website and what locations are participating.

FREE ReNu Contact Solution

Print this coupon (if you hit the back button, you can print it twice) and then use it at Target (on a sample size) to get a FREE bottle of ReNu Contact solution.

The Color of my Husband's Skin

Jan 18, 2010

My husband is German. He also has some English blood in him. Our children, though, think he is African American.

I know what you’re thinking. “What?? I don’t get it.”

Trust me. Neither do we.

Let me begin by saying my husband does have darker skin than me. I’m Irish and have very pale, white, white skin. He, though, always looks like he has a tan. And, often times he does. He’s just a darker shade than me and the rest of the family. When you look at him, though, there is no doubt he is Caucasian.

At least, there’s no doubt for me and everyone else in this world – except, of course, our kids.

It all started when our oldest daughter, Jordan, was about two years old. At the time, her dad was in Iraq and so she really only knew him by the photos we had around the house. Whenever she would see a man in a military uniform, she would point to him and say, “Da Da.”

“No, honey,” I’d say. “That’s not your Daddy.”

She did this so often, though, that I began to pay more and more attention to the soldiers she would call her Daddy. And, more times than not, they were black.

“Hmmm . . .” I thought. “That’s odd.” But, still, I wrote it off to the fact that she was seeing the uniform and thus, making the mistake.

And then, Jordan began to point to men in magazines and newspapers and call them “Da Da.” They, too, were all black.

I was chatting with Rob online one day while he was in Iraq and told him about it. “Our daughter thinks you’re African American,” I told him.

“What are you talking about?” he typed back.

“I’m not kidding. I don’t know why, but every time she sees a black man, she thinks it’s you.”

We laughed about it and then moved on with our chat.

And then, Rob came home. Around the time Jordan was 3 or 4, she became very interested the High School Musical movies. As is common with little girls, she liked to pretend that she, and all of us, were characters in the show.

“I’m Sharpay,” she would tell me, talking about the girl with the long blonde hair. “And you’re Gabriella.” I guess I had the same dark brown hair as that character.

“And, Bennett is Ryan.” That’s the tall, blonde-haired brother of Sharpay.

“Oh, okay,” I’d say, only half paying listening.

“And, Daddy is Corbin Bleu.” That got my attention.

“Who is Daddy?” I asked.

“Corbin Bleu.”

Now, for those of you who don’t have High School Musical in your life on a daily basis, Corbin Bleu is the black actor in the movie with the big, afro-like hair.

“Really?” I asked.

“Really,” she said, seriously.

“Why is Daddy Corbin Bleu?” I asked her.

“Because they both have brown skin.”

“Oh . . . “

And so it went. Whenever Jordan would point to someone she saw and say, “He looks like Daddy,” we had no doubt what race that man would be. Her idea of what Rob looked like became just a part of who she was and how her mind worked. She was unique, we decided.

That is, until our son, Bennett, was just about two years old. I was on my way to pick up Rob from work one evening and on the floor of my car I had a newspaper advertisement for Kohl’s.

“Da Da! Da Da!” I heard Bennett screaming behind me as we drove.

When I got to a light, I turned around and said, “Where’s Daddy?”

Bennett pointed to the ad on the floor. Staring up at me was a very handsome, bald male model – a very handsome, bald black male model.

“That’s Daddy?” I asked.

Bennett nodded in glee. “Da Da!” he screamed.

When Rob got in the car, I picked up the ad.

“Bennett,” I said, pointing at the model. “Who’s this?”

“Da Da!”

“Great,” Rob said, laughing. “Here we go again.”

That year, the NFL football star, Jason Taylor was on Dancing with the Stars. My kids loved to watch him dance. Whenever he was on, they’d tell me, “He looks just like Daddy! Look Mommy! It’s Daddy.”

“Sure,” I’d think. “He looks just like Daddy – if Daddy were a big, black NFL football player who could ballroom dance.”

Jordan was also a huge supporter of Barack Obama when he was running for President. In reality, she probably found him so interesting because when she was 4 years old, I took her to hear him speak. But, throughout his campaign, my friends and I would joke that she liked him so much because she thought he looked like her dad.

Jordan is now seven years old and in the 2nd grade. Last week, as she and I were driving in the car, I told her that because she had no school on this upcoming Monday, she could sleep at Grandma’s house Sunday night.

“Why don’t I have school?” she asked.

“It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,” I said.

“Who’s he?”

Not an easy question to answer, I decided. “Well,” I said, “Years ago, when Grandma was growing up and before that, black and white people weren’t allowed to do certain things together.”

“Like what things?” she asked.

“Things like eating in the same restaurant and going to the same schools. They couldn’t even sit together on a bus. And, Martin Luther King didn’t think that was right, so he fought to make sure it got changed. And, for that, we celebrate his life.”

Phew. I was proud of myself. That seemed like a pretty good and easy-to-understand explanation for a seven year old.

For a moment, there was silence in the car and I figured she was processing what I had just said.

“So . . .” Jordan said slowly. “If we were living back then, you, me, Bennett and Maclain could eat in one restaurant, but Daddy would have to eat in another?”

I almost drove the car off the road, I was laughing so hard.

“Jordan! Daddy is not black!”

“I know Daddy is not black,” Jordan said, with complete disgust in her voice. “Daddy is brown!”

AAAAAGH! I did my best to try to explain to Jordan the difference between being African American and just having darker skin. I pointed out a few of her friends who have black dads. She didn’t seem to grasp my point, nor, to be honest, really seem care.

And then, I thought, if she doesn’t care, why should I?

To Jordan, her daddy’s skin color is just a part of who he is. She doesn’t love him any more or less for it. She views the tone of his skin the same way she sees the crayons in her Crayola box. Just a color. And, because she doesn’t view her Daddy to be any different than herself, other than perhaps a little bit darker, I’ve also noticed that she never seems to view her friends with darker skin any differently either. If anything, she seems to relate to them a little bit better because they look a lot like someone she loves.

Isn’t that the essence of the message Martin Luther King, Jr. left us? When he said, in that very famous speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” isn’t that what he was hoping for?

That everyone, little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls included, would see the color of a person’s skin and realize it was just that. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just a color.

Kids Eat FREE at Ikea

Jan 15, 2010

Starting tomorrow, January 16th, through Monday, January 18th, Kids Eat FREE at Ikea. 

No adult purchase necessary.  One FREE Kid's Meal per child under 12. 

I was just at Ikea and the Kid's Meal is really nice.  You get to choose 3 options from a list of choices which include things like mac n' cheese, drinks, meatballs, cookies, etc.  My three kids all ate free there last time they had this offer (and I snacked on their leftovers!)

$5 Previously-Viewed Movies

Redbox is selling some previosly-viewed movies for $5.  They say they have things like, "The Hangover, Inglourious Basterds, and Public Enemies."

The email I got was a little vague, but I think you go to there boxes to buy them - it didn't seem to have a "buy online" option.

It might be worth checking out, though, if you like to buy DVDs of your favorite movies!

Get ANOTHER FREE Taco Fresco from Taco Bell

Jan 14, 2010

If you printed out your FREE taco fresco from Taco Bell and thought you were done, you were wrong!

They reset their numbers and so you can print out another coupon!

I got the steak one yesterday and it was YUMMY!  I'll be heading there again tomorrow!

Click here to print it!

FREE Chocolate Milk

Jan 13, 2010

Click here to sign up to get a coupon for a FREE half gallon of chocolate milk when you purchase 2 gallons of milk.  The coupon says you can purchase any brand of white milk and get any brand of chocolate milk.

The bummer is, you can't use this deal at Costco, because they don't accept coupons and that's where I buy my milk, because it's so much less than our grocery store.  But, if you buy your milk at a regular store, then this is a great deal.

If you print the coupon one time, you should be able to hit the "back" button (and then refresh the screen) to get it to print another coupon.  But, it won't let you do more than that.

In addition, when I did it, it seemed like my screen froze and I thought I didn't get the coupon - but then a link to it was emailed to me.


Schlotzky's Free Chips and Drink with Sandwich Purchase

Click here for a coupon to get a FREE chips and 20 oz. drink with the purchase of any sandwich.

Expires 1/18/10

FREE Uni-Ball Pen

Jan 12, 2010

Click here to get a FREE pen by Uni-ball.  They give away 10,000 a day (maximum of 500,000 during the promotion.) 

It says the new giveaway begins at 12 PM each day (CDT) - which, I think is the same as CST?

FREE Einstein Bagel for Facebook Fans

Once again, this is a Facebook fan deal.  And, once again, if you're not on Facebook, why not?

Anyway, become a fan of Einstein bagels and you'll get to print a coupon for a FREE bagel AND Schmear (because, honestly, isn't the schmear the best part?)  Coupon expires on Monday, January 18th.

I really like Einstein bagels.  In TX, they are the closest thing I can get to a good bagel - they're not like NJ or NY, but they'll do!


Preserve Your Kids' Handprints

Jan 11, 2010

To me, there is no piece of artwork my kids bring home that is more precious than something which has their handprints on it.  I save every piece of paper they bring home that has my babies' hands on them.

Six years ago, I went to visit my best friend, Renee, who, at the time, was stationed with her husband in Arizona.  While I was there, she and I took our daughters (who were both one at the time) to a local pottery painting studio.  I decided to have my daughter's handprint put on the center of a large dinner plate.  I then painted around her hand and wrote her name and age on it.

I vividly remember that trip because, the next day, my husband called me and told me I'd have to cut my weeklong visit short and return to Texas.  He had just received orders for Iraq and would soon be going to war.

Renee had to mail that plate to me once it was ready for pick-up at the studio.

Three years later, I gave birth to Bennett and decided that, when he turned one, I'd have to make a plate for him, too.  Well, somehow, life got away from me.  I meant to do it as soon as he turned one, as I had with Jordan, but it wasn't until he was only about a month away from turning two that I finally got around to it.  I couldn't find the same exact plate as I'd gotten at the studio in Arizona, so I decided to buy a square one instead.

And then came Maclain.  I was better about him.  He's only 19 months old and his plate was completed about 2 or 3 months ago.

I love those plates.  They each sit on my dining room hutch.  Sometimes, I just sit and smile as I look at them.  I love staring at those little handprints.  I love remembering how much fun I had painting them.  (I would take the kids in to do their handprints, but then return, a few days later - alone - to sit and paint in silence.)  I love knowing that a part of my children's "babyhood" will always be with me - captured forever on those pretty plates.

I am sure a lot of you have great ways to capture your children's handprints and footprints - and I'd love to hear about them!

If you've never done something like this for your kids, it's never too late!  Maybe take all your kids to your local pottery painting store and have them put their handprints all over a cookie jar or vase.  You will cherish that piece of artwork forver.

I promise.

Send Coffee to the Troops

When my husband was in Iraq, I organized numerous mailings for his entire unit.  I made sure that each soldier had been "adopted" by a family and also, contacted various companies to send donations, such as DVDs, non-sweat socks, etc.

Here's another great way to help the troops!

If you purchase coffee from Community Coffee online to mail to soldiers overseas, they will DOUBLE your order.  So, if your send 4 bags of coffee, they will send 4 more for FREE!

I know that there was NOTHING my husband liked to receive more than good coffee!

Click here for the details of this deal.

BTW:  If you don't know of a solider but would like to send coffee to one, write me a comment.  I can get you "hooked up" with someone overseas who'd really enjoy the treat!

(Thanks, Julie, for the tip!)

Build-a-Bear Coupon

Jan 8, 2010

Click here for a coupon for $10 off a purchase of $30 or more at Build-a-Bear!

Expires on Valentine's Day.

Don't forget to print out the coupon for a free $5 accessory, too!  Click here for that post!

Redbox Codes for FREE Movie Rentals

As you all know, I love Redbox.  The movies are only a dollar a day, the boxes are located all over and you can rent a dvd from one location and return it to another. We often rent the kids movies in Austin, before we take a roadtrip to my inlaws home near the Gulf.  Once we get there, we return those movies to their local Redbox and rent new ones for the ride back!  One of my friends just told me that she noticed Redboxes in the airports when she came to visit me from DC last week.  How cool is that?  You can rent a movie on the east coast and return it when you get to the midwest????

To make it even better, Redbox often has FREE movie codes.  For the first time, I used one last week and it worked!  They are good for one FREE day. 

So, these are the codes I have now.  I'm not sure when they expire, so you might want to write them all down, because you might need to try a couple before you find one that works when you go to rent.

When you begin to rent on Redbox, on the bottom left of the screen there is a box that says, "Rent with Promo Code."  Touch that instead of just the "Rent Movie" box.  You cannot use these codes if you reserve your movie online.
All codes can be used more than once, if you use different credit cards to complete each transaction.

Here are the codes:

DVDATWAG (works only at Walgreens locations)
BREAKROOM (this is the one I used last week and it worked great)

FREE Breakfast at Ikea

Starting tomorrow, January 9th through Sunday, January 10th, Ikea is giving away 1 FREE small breakfast per customer.  No purchase necesssary.  What a great way to start your day!

FREE Build-a-Bear Accessory

Click here to get a coupon for a FREE Build-A-Bear Accessory worth up to $5.

My daughter gets a $5 coupon every year for her b'day from them and I always swipe it, take it there, and buy her something little with it - like a bear pen or a small stuffed animal.  Then, I hang onto it and it usually ends up in her stocking!

The Limited Coupon - 25% or 30% Off

Click here for a 25% off at The Limited coupon.  30% off if you pay with a Limited credit card.

Can be used online or in the store.

Click here for the coupon.

FREE Month's Supply of Pedigree

If you adopted a dog in 2009, you're in luck!

Pedigree will give you a FREE month's supply of their food.

Click here for details.

50 Cent Off Coupon for a Coke Single at CVS

Coke doesn't usually have coupons for their single products, so this is an unusual one.

It's actually a coupon from CVS, so it can only be used there.  It is for 50 cents off a single Coke drink.

Click here to print it.

How to Save Your Facebook Statuses

Jan 7, 2010

Every since I wrote the post about saving my Facebook statuses, to make up a "modern day diary," I get numerous emails each day on how I did it.

To make it easy for everyone, I'm going to tell you here.

1.  Go into your Facebook account and search for "My Year in Status."

2.  Once you locate that application, begin the process it takes you through.

3.  At Step 3, it will say, on the right, "Choose Different Statuses."  Click on that.  All of your statuses from 2009 will come up. (The bummer is that, if your status was more than a certain number of characters, it cuts it off and you won't get the end of what you wrote.)

4.  Copy the entire list and paste it into a Word document.  This takes awhile.  Word doesn't like it and all the symbols it has in it.

5.  Save your document to enjoy for years to come!

Recycle Your Christmas Cards for St. Judes

I am all for recycling - and I think it's even better if you can recycle and help other people out at the same time!

If you feel the same way I do, then check out this opportunity:

St. Jude's will be accepting used cards (from all occasions) until February 28.  The children at St. Jude's will remove the back of the card and create a new one.  They then sell those cards and the children receive "payment" for their work - and learn the benefits of going "green." 

Mail your used cards to:

St. Jude's Ranch for Children

Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

If you'd like to purchase these cards:
Cards are sold in packets of 10 for $10.00 and are available in the following categories:

General Christmas Cards
Religious Christmas Cards
Easter Cards
Birthday Cards
Thank You Cards
All Occasion General Greeting Cards

Orders may be placed by any of the methods below:

Visit theirr online store
Phone 1-877-977-SJRC (7572) or
Send your request and donation to:

St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
ATTN: Donor Office
P.O. Box 60100
Boulder City, NV 89006-0100

Click here for more information.

FREE Bowling

Jan 6, 2010

My 7-year-old daughter just discovered, this year, how much she likes to bowl.  In fact, she had her birthday party at a bowling alley two months ago.  Now that I think about it, most of her friends seem to be having their birthday parties at the bowling alley this year, too.  There must just be something about kids and bowling!

If your family enjoys bowlingas much as mine, I have a deal for you!

Sign up for the AMF Bowling E-Club and they will email you a coupon for a FREE game for you and NINE of your friends!

You can find out, on their site, where there is a lane near you.

You can only get one free game per person, per day (so even if all of you sign up for the e-club, you can't use your coupons to earn 10 free games per person that day.)  And, shoe rental is not included.  But, still - it's a good deal cause it's FREE!

Click here for the e-club sign up.  The coupon is good for 30 days from the day you get it, so don't sign up if you can't go within the next month!

Clear Out Your Clutter Day

I don't know about you, but the new years always makes me want to clean out my closets!  The question, though, is often what to do with the stuff!

Well, Ikea is going to help you get rid of your junk this year!

On Saturday, January 23, from 10 AM to 2 PM, Ikea will allow you to drop off some of your "junk" for FREE.  Go to their parking lots G and H.

They will accept:

One carload of unwanted items (junk)
One box of paper to be shredded
Discarded flattened moving boxes
used cell phones

A Modern-Day Diary

Jan 5, 2010

Ever since I was a little girl, I have had an interest in keeping a journal. I remember, year after year, asking my parents for a new diaryfor Christmas. Many times, I’d get one. I’d begin, on January 1, writing down a record of all the (no doubt fascinating) events that occurred during each day. I’d show great diligence in my diary entries until, oh, about January 3, and then I’d begin to lose interest.

I’m sure that somewhere, my parents have a box full of my half-hearted attempts at journal keeping.

When I joined Facebook about a year and a half ago, I began writing my status updates – at least once a day . Nowadays, as my Facebook friends will attest, I often update my status more frequently. I usually comment on the funny or ridiculous things my kids do or say, or the things I observe when out in public, or my opinion on national news events.

Not long after beginning to write these updates, I realized that the culmination of them made up a “modern day diary,” of sorts. Reading each sentence or two would bring back a flood of memories – of what happened in our home or lives that day, or what my Facebook friends had to say in regards to my status.

I tried, for awhile, to copy each status into a Worddocument after I wrote it – so that, not only would I have written memories of my life activities and events, but my children would have a record of their childhoods – the cute things they said and did and how I responded to them. That task, however, proved to be too tedious for me and I quickly fell behind.

I have never stopped regretting, however, that I wasn’t saving my statuses somewhere more permanent than my Facebook account.

And then, last week, I found out that Facebook was allowing you to make a “collage” of your favorite statuses of 2009. And, in order to choose these statuses, you were able to read through a list (organized month by month), of all your statuses for the past year!

When I accessed my list, I quickly copied all of the statuses and pasted them into a Word document. This way, if Facebook eventually eliminates this collage application, I still have my statuses saved elsewhere.

All of that brings me to this . . . sharing with you some of my favorite statuses of 2009. Many of you, who are my Facebook friends, have already read them. I hope rereading them, once again, makes you smile. For those of you who have never read them, I have a feeling they will help you get to know me, and my kids (and husband), just a little bit better.

Here they are:

∙ My husband came home from his weekend with the two oldest kids and drank an entire bottle of wine. I guess there's no reason for me to ask how things went, huh?

∙ I didn't think it was possible to go to the store and screw up buying cupcakeliners, but it turns out - it is.

∙ I told my 2-year-old to say he was sorry to his sister, to which he replied, in tears, "I . . . not . . . sorry!"

∙ I’m thinking it might be a bad sign that my 2-year-old begged me not to pick up his 6-year-old sister from schoolyesterday.

∙ I came home from work to my daughter telling me that she asked Daddy for cerealand he said, "Do you want candy instead?"

∙ I think we reach a new level of "gross" every day in our house. Today, my 2-yr-old grabbed his baby brother's hand and blew his own nose in it.

∙ My daughter asked, "What if someone offered us $100 if we'd let him rip the baby's head off? I wouldn't take it. Would you?" Uhm...I think I'll pass on that. ??

∙ I silently giggle every time her 6-yr-old refers to the Father-Daughter dance she went to as "the prom."

∙ I find that I fast-forward my Tivo, through Randy, Paula and that other chick, just to hear what Simon has to say.

∙ I fear I may be losing my battle against soda since my 2-yr-old now pretends to steer his Hot Wheels up to a drive-through window and order a Coke.

∙ I want to say, "Listen, smelly people at the gym. Stop getting on the ellipticalmachine next to me!"

∙ My nearly 3-yr-old son saw my skirt this morning and said, "What's that?" I fear that is a sad indication of the way I usually dress.

∙ I think my least favorite words may be, "Mommy! There's boogers on the couch!"

∙ I think planning children's birthdayparties would be a lot easier if I didn't actually have any children.

∙ I wonder why it is my daughter would rather go to school looking like a homeless person or an escaped mental patient than let me do her hair in the morning.

∙ I want to know why, when my 2-yr-old burps in front of me, he says, "Excuse me, Mama!" but when he burps in front of his dad, he yells out, "Daddy, I burped!!!"

∙ I hate opening the garage door and having geckos fall on my head.

∙ I just said to my 2-yr-old, "When you're 3, you'll have a big boy bed, but for now, you're 2." "Terrible two," he reminded me. "Precisely," I said. :-)

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2010 be filled with as many (if not more) laughs and giggles and happy memories as 2009 – and may I record most of mine on Facebook!

Create Your Own Playroom

Jan 4, 2010

This past week, I spent a morning at Ikea.  I love Ikea.  LOVE it.

To begin with, they have childcare.  The bummer is, you can only leave your kids there for 1 hour and it takes at least TWO to make your way from one side of their store to the other.  In addition, only your potty-trained children are welcome.  So, that's a bummer, too.  But, beggers can't be choosers and so, I happily signed my two oldest kids when I arrived.

Secondly, Ikea was offering FREE breakfast and Kids Eat Free for other meals at that time, so my kids all got lunch for FREE (without me having to order anything) when they were done in the childcare room.

As I was walking around Ikea, though, it occurred to me that many of you out there might benefit from doing a post on my kids' "playroom."

Okay, I use that term - playroom - loosely.   Let me explain.

When my husband was deployed to Iraq a few years ago, the grandmother of one of his soldiers invited me to come stay at her house in Dallas for a weekend.  (AT&T was offering a free video conference call for the soldiers and their families - up in Dallas.)  Anyway, this nice grandma welcomed me and Jordan into her home on the weekend Rob and my conference was held.

I was a little nervous about staying there.  Afterall, Jordan was only 2 at the time and there is often a whole lot of breakable stuff in the homes of people who don't have kids.  This woman, though, was a preschool Sunday school teacher and had a lot of kids and their families visit her home.  Thus, she had come up with a "playroom" for them.

The neat thing?  It was under the stairs.

She had turned her storage closet (the one that went under her stairs) into a tiny playhouse of sorts.

My daughter LOVED it.  It was full of fun toys and the room was "just her size."

And, that got me thinking.  I had a closet under our stairs.  (Granted, it was full of junk at the time, but still . . . I realized I could make this work.)

In addition, the one thing I disliked most (then and still) about our house is that there is no playroom area - not even a basement - where I can throw the toys (and sometimes, the kids) to keep them out of sight.

So, I came home, evaluated our closet and on my next trip to Ikea, stocked up on items that I thought might work.  Ikea is the best store for this because they are a European company (where homes are often smaller), so they specialize in making the most of tiny spaces.  I got some storage compartments, a bright rug and two throw pillows, some shelves, some mirrors that stuck to the wall, a big clock and a magnetic board.  In addition, I bought a gallon of paint (at Home Depot) and brightened up the inside of the new "room."

The photos you see are of my completed project.  That was about 5 years ago.  The room is still a "hit" with all my kids - and their friends.  And, I love that, when need be, I can kick the toys in there in a hurry and my family room suddenly looks (relatively) picked up.

I know many of you have closets that you could covert.  Hope this gives you a good idea!

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