Saturday, January 31, 2009

McDonald's: $1 Valentine Coupon Booklets

Lots of McDonald's now have Valentine's coupon booklets available. They are only $1 and each coupon booklet contains 12 coupons for free items:

3 free hamburgers
3 free small cones
3 free apple dippers or small fry
3 free apple juice or milk jug

These are redeemable at any participating McDonald's from February 14 to May 15, 2009. Please note that they are redeemable only by children ages 12 and under with a limit of one coupon per customer per visit.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Cures for those Chocolate Cravings!

Death by Chocolate Cupcakes! Mini Microwave Triple Chocolate Cake! Cheesecake Brownies! I want to try all of these guilt free desserts. I love the Hungry Girl site anyway, but there are definitely some recipies here that are worth looking into. Click here and scroll toward the bottom to get the scoop. Yum!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

More Free Coffee!

Caribou Coffee did not want to be outdone by Panera or Starbucks lately on all of the coffee giveaways, so on Friday, January 30th stop by and get a free 12 ounce decaf from 12 until close.

More Where Kids Eat Free!

The list is expanding! Check it out! Print it out!
*Note the is for the Des Moines metro. Other areas should call ahead to see if their restaurant is participating.

Thanks, Susan, for alerting me of this and Kelly over at her awesome Des Moines Families site and her tidy organizational list!

The Club Car - Kids eat free Monday and Tuesday from 5 to close with the purchase of an adult meal.
IHOP (Ankeny) - One kid easts free for each adult meal purchased from open to close on Mondays.
Jason's Deli - $1.99 kids menu everyday with free ice cream (includes take-out).
The Longest Yard - Kids eat free Monday through Wednesday night. One child for each paying adult.
Maxie's - Mondays kids eat for $.99 from 4 p.m. to close.
Spaghetti Works - Kids eat free Monday evenings.

B&B - Kids 10 and under eat free on Tuesdays.
Bakers Square - Kids eat free all day Tuesday with purchase of an adult meal.
Bennigans - Tuesdays kids eat free with purchase of adult meal, 4 to close.
Carlos O'Kelly's - $2 & $2.50 discount on kids meals for each adult meal purchased.
Champps - Tuesdays 2 kids eat free for each adult meal purchased from 6 - 9.
The Club Car - Kids eat free Monday and Tuesday from 5 to close with the purchase of an adult meal.
Fazoli's - $.99 kids meals from 5 to 8 p.m. every Tuesday.
Fuddruckers - One free kids meal with the purchase of an adult meal on Tuesday evenings.
Hy-Vee (Windsor Heights) - Kids eat for $.99 on Tuesdays.
Hy-Vee (Jordan Creek Parkway) - Kids eat for $.99 with an adult on Tuesdays from 4 to 8 p.m.
Jason's Deli - $1.99 kids menu everyday with free ice cream (includes take-out).
Kriegers Hometown Sports Grill - Kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal all day Tuesdays.
Lonestar Steakhouse - Two kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal all day.
The Longest Yard - Kids eat free Monday through Wednesday night. One child for each paying adult.
Murphy's Bar & Grill -Tuesdays kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal from 5 to 8 p.m.
Perkins -Tuesdays kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal all day.
Pizza Hut - For each paying adult, one child 10 and under eats free at the buffet, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Pizza Ranch - For each paying adult, one child 8 and under eats free on Tuesday evenings.
Trophy's Sports Bar & Grill - Kids eat free on Tuesdays.

Applebees - Wednesday is $.99 kids' meals, 4 to close
IHOP (Douglas Ave.) - One kid easts free for each adult meal purchased from 4 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Jason's Deli - $1.99 kids menu everyday with free ice cream (includes take-out).
The Longest Yard - Kids eat free Monday through Wednesday night. One child for each paying adult.
McDonalds - All metro locations offer reduced-price Happy Meals (From $1.69 to $2.00 depending on store) on Wednesdays.
Shane's Rib Shack - Kids 10 & under eat free all day with the purchase of an adult meal.

Hooters - Kids eat free all day Thursday.
Jason's Deli - $1.99 kids menu everyday with free ice cream (includes take-out).
Mama Lacona's - Thursdays kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal.
West End Diner - One kids meal free for each purchase of an adult meal on Thursday evenings

Jason's Deli - $1.99 kids menu everyday with free ice cream (includes take-out).

Daytona's - Kids eat free all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Gateway Market West - Kids eat free all weekend. One child per ordering parent.
Jason's Deli - $1.99 kids menu everyday with free ice cream (includes take-out).
Murphy's Bar & Grill - Saturdays kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal from Noon to 8 p.m.
Z'Mariks Noodle Cafe - Two kids eat free with the purchase of an adult meal all day.

Bostons - Sundays kids meals are $1.99.
Daytona's - Kids eat free all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Fireside Grill (Altoona) - Kids eat free every Sunday.
Gateway Market West - Kids eat free all weekend. One child per ordering parent.
Jason's Deli - $1.99 kids menu everyday with free ice cream (includes take-out).
Legends - Kids eat free all day on Sunday's with the purchase of an adult meal.
Okoboji Grill - Sundays kids eat free all day with the purchase of an adult meal.
Planet Sub - Sundays kids eat free all day with the purchase of an adult meal.
Qdoba - Free kids meal with purchase of an adult meal on Sundays.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Everyone loves to hear about a deal...

but I miss writing! There has been absolutely zilcho time for that lately, but generous Grandma and Grandpa are taking the kids this weekend!!!! I have so many blogging ideas swirling around and I can't wait to take the time to get them hammered out on here!

Here is my idea of utopia right now. Me. Starbucks. Laptop. Two Hours. Peace.

Well...I guess I also need to spend time on other things I have also neglected; cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, bills, my hubby...;-)

oh, how the time will fly!

Papa John's: Free cheese pizza with any order

Papa Johns

Get a free medium cheese pizza with your next online pizza purchase when you sign up to receive email offers from Papa John's. Go here to sign up. Once your registration is complete, you'll receive an email containing a promotion code for a free medium cheese pizza with any online pizza purchase.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Free Redbox Rental at McDonalds

if you have one near you, be sure to use promo code MCDWNTR to get yourself a FREE one-day DVD rental.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Free Coffee All Day at Panera on Wed. Jan 28th

Plus sample their new breakfast menu. mmmmm....I love Panera!
Click here to find out more details.

Free Cookbook Publishing Kit

Just think of the possibilities with this?! Are always asked for your recipes because you are such a good baker or cook? (I know several of you are!) Or wouldn't this be a wonderful way to store all of grandma's, mom's or even your favorite family recipes in your own personable cook book. Good bye post it notes with hastily written recipes that are soon to be lost!

This could be a really fun gift idea too! It comes with software and a publishing guide. Check it out here before its gone!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Free Audiobook Download: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

My husband bought this book years ago and I've read it, but it is definitely one of those books you can pick up and read again and still get something new out of it. I am thinking this will be perfect for the car...

Download your free audiobook copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People from

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

$25 restuarant gift cards for $3

If you haven’t tried yet, this may be the time to try it—through January 26th, 2009, you can use coupon code SAVE to take 70% off your order. Check it out and see what restaurants are participating in your area.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Free Starbucks Tall Brewed Cup of Coffee

Is your New Year's resolution to volunteer more? Like coffee?

Read here how you can volunteer just 5 hours of your time

to help your community, and Starbucks will salute you with a free tall brewed cup of coffee!

Offer good for one cup of 12 fl. oz. brewed coffee per person from January 21-25, 2009.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Free Cosmetics at Major Retailers

A guy (!?!) actually told me about this. Thanks, Barry! I won't question too much how you ever heard about this...

After doing a little bit of research it looks legit. Because of some cosmetic lawsuit (and lots of yada yada to go with it), beginning January 20th, major retailers (Dillards, Younkers...) and their make-up (Estée Lauder, Clinique, Lancome, Calvin Klein, L’Oréal and Christian Dior...) will give away free products.

Check out this press release or this release or this. If you are heading out to do some shopping, check it out (its just good while supplies last).

Have you Qwirkled?

We have a new favorite game at our house; Qwirkle! It was a Christmas present from my parents and it has become a little addicting. Match up columns and rows (kind of like scrabble and dominoes), but you use shapes and colors. Hundreds of variation and combinations can be made and it is perfect for varying ages. It actually does get a little bit competitive and Dave and I have even played a few times after the kids have gone to bed or when we have friends over.

That is the best kind of game to have; fun for the kids yet a little thought provoking and challenging for the kids.

Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cheerio and Candyland actually kind of drive me a little batty and I inwardly groan when that is the chosen game. Sure those games are wonderful for learning how to take turns and count, but it is so much nicer to have a "meatier" game at our house. It is so much fun seeing the different combinations that the girls come up with. One of Max's top 5 words right now is Qweeeerkllllllll and he loves to chant it over and over.

That is the best kind of game to have; fun for the kids yet a little thought provoking and challenging for the adults.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Inaguration Day! Free Donuts at Krispy Kreme!

What a way to kick off the new presidency! Things are turning around already!

Stop by Krispy Kreme for your free donut. Click here for more details.

96 years is something to celebrate!

We spent our first unplugged Sunday, with my grandpa who turned 96 years old this weekend.

96 years old.

He is my last living grandparent and I feel so blessed that he lives here in West Des Moines. He lives in a town home with Iris, his wife of over 20 years. I lost my grandma when I was in third grade and feel fortunate to have wonderful memories of her, but having also known Grandma Iris.

I take the kids and lunch over every Wednesday to see Grandpa. Every week he takes my hands into his, pats them and says, "My my your hands are cold." I sit down beside Grandpa, he continues to rub my hands and I sit there and want time to stand still for a bit.

We have been taking lunch over every week for quite awhile and Lucy and Max pretty much know the routine of our visits in this land of breakable figurines. Lucy always runs in, hands grandpa his chocolate milkshake and gives him a hug. She then prattles off some preschool story at top notch speed while grandpa smiles, nods along and says, "Oh!!" at appropriate times.

Max is the one that I can't get over. Little Mr. stranger-anxiety-ridden-Max, blows kisses repeatedly at grandpa and will stand still long enough to show all of his "tricks" (Where's your nose, where's your tummy? What's a lion say?). Max doesn't do that with just anyone and it heart warming how Max and Grandpa will sit there and grin at each other. Grandpa always wants to know the update of Max's teeth count and wonders, "how many does he have in there now?"

My husband always thinks Grandpa is jealous of Max's tooth development, :-), but I know that Grandpa has more thoughtfulness, caring and generosity in his 96 year old bones then many of us have in ours.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Becoming Unplugged...

Another week zipping by in a blur. Where is time going? As I thought about how I had spent my time in the past week, I knew it had been a pretty normal, and no different then what many of you experience every day.

Getting home from the gym at 7, Dave immediately heading to work, normal shuttling of kids, activities and household stuff throughout the day, baths, dinner, family time, bedtime routine for kids, an hour to myself and Dave, collapse into bed and begin again at 5 the next morning.

The only new things tossed into the week were preparing for my writing class which is starting up again and more focus on my 2009 goals.

I am not complaining. I love my life and wouldn't want anything too different, but there needs to be a break in this. One day a week.

Beginning this Sunday, we are going to take a new approach in simplifying our lives. No Internet, shopping, errands or work. No plans.

This will be very very very difficult for us. Sunday is a time to catch up on things. Sunday is a time for me to run around sans kids. Sunday is the time for Dave to complete all of the lovely "honey do" chores. Sundays have already become more relaxed at our house since this Fall, but we are extending it throughout the day.

I am excited to go sledding or ice skating with the kids, taking family trips to the bookstore, putting a puzzle together...and when the weather gets nicer the possibilities are endless (geo caching, biking, exploring...!) So much for "no plans", but this is different kind of plan!

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Decline of Magazines...but not at this house!

What is with all of the free magazine offers lately? Is is because magazine sales are down? I think it may be that people are reading more online (and almost all magazines have good websites). I also think it is the advertisements that make the money for the magazines and not the subscriptions. As long as people are looking at the magazine, they are seeing the marketing from various companies. If magazines have to give it away for free, it is really not much dent in their profit.

Whatever the reason, I enjoy reading magazines. There is something about the ease and portability of them. I can keep them in the car for longer trips or read while waiting to pick up the kids from something. I am also old fashioned in the sense that I like to tear out a good idea to try later or recipe I find. My husband always laughs at me as I then file away all of my "good ideas" never to be seen again... or so he thinks. ;-).

I like having a hard copy of things and it is a lot more difficult to snuggle up to the laptop and read about the latest parenting or health ideas. I am concerned about the green issue and all of extra waste that excess printing causes, but I recycle them. We may have dropped the Des Moines Register, but magazines are here to stay for us for the time being.

Free 2 years of Parent Magazine

Now here is a magazine I have gotten for seven years. That is longest running time for any magazine subscription for me. My mom always purchases this for me every year. Don't tell her now that they are giving it away for free...
Click here for more information.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Join Sam's Club get a $25 gift card


I am a Costco Queen at heart, but if you are planning to become a member of Sam's Club, join between January 15-21, 2009 and get a free $25 gift card.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

a silent sara...

I haven't had too much to say the past few days. I think I am still processing, prioritizing and trying to figure it all out. As I have said, I have set two big goals for 2009 and am fearful that I may be failing at both.

My first goal of reading the Bible this year with our church should be easy. I like to read, I want to do this and I think its important. you know I like to be efficient so Week 1 I sat down and read all of the readings in one sitting. It was one of those nights that I couldn't sleep so I got up and just read. It went by fast and I was feeling pretty proud of myself and being able to cross that "job" off the ol' to-do list. The thing is...I think I am missing the point. This is supposed to be a daily activity? Daily??! As our beloved Pastor says, "if you are too busy to read the Bible every day then you are just too busy."


On to Goal #2:
Train and complete a triathlon. I really thought this would be easier. I already work out 6 days a week, do a variety of classes and working out is something I enjoy and puts my day into focus. The thing is...I have always been an "in and out in an hour" type of person. I started my tri class last Sunday and got the workout schedule for the week.

Now its all about costume changes. Meaning: swim for 45 minutes and bike for 45 minutes one day. The next day run, but don't just run. Do intervals, increase the the incline, go for speed; but not too fast...

Did I mention the Hy-vee Triathlon is at the end of June. The end?? The end! There must be a reason that training has to begin so early and I am wondering if it is because it may be a bit more difficult then I originally thought...

Any notes of encouragement?

Free Suave: Today Only

Click here and get your free bottle of suave (your pick: shampoo, conditioner, body wash or my favorite: the suave detangler for kids). This is all online and takes 15 seconds to do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Free Subscriptions to Woman's Day and Wondertime Magazines

I've heard of Woman's Day, but am intrigued by this new Wondertime magazine (its done by Disney!). It includes enrichment ideas for children, creative parenting, art ideas and recipes. The latest issue also includes an article titled "Confessions of a Mommy Blogger." ;-)

Click here to sign up for your free one year subscription to Woman's Day and here for Wondertime.

I really really love Kashi bars...get them for under a buck!


They are so much healthier (without the high fructose corn syrup) and natural then its rival Nutri Grain Bars.

Here is a $2 off coupon. Target or Walmart usually has them on sale for under $3 so that would be a pretty good deal per box. Coupon can be printed twice.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Small things to make things easier: Chores

For quite awhile I have been wanting the girls to take a little more responsibility in day to day duties such as keeping their room clean, setting and clearing off the table, picking up after themselves...

Don't get me wrong. Megan and Lucy will do those things. It may just take constant reminders and a little nagging; something that no one really enjoys.

We implemented a Chore Chart at our house three weeks ago and it seems to be working pretty well. I wanted to wait awhile to post this because I know (from my teaching days) how new incentives have a "honeymoon" period and then quickly wear off. I think our chore chart is here to stay for awhile.

Here's how it works: Lucy and Megan each have four daily chores that they keep for the week. Our marker board on the fridge lists the chores and has little magnet stickers they can put next to the chore to show its completion.

Nothing new I know, but here is how I tweaked it a bit to work better for us. I then took pictures of what the girls' "clean bedroom" or "organized shoe corner" looks looks like since kids quickly tend to forget. Each chore now visible reference that they can refer to. The pictures are posted next to the chore chart.

On Saturdays, they each get $3 if they did everything all week. The money is completely theirs and can be used for what they want. We do encourage them to use some for church offering and to save for our upcoming vacation. Lucy and Megan then switch jobs for the following week to keep things kind of fresh.

Is this perfect? No, I am sure it isn't. I am still on the fence about kids getting paid for household responsibilities, but I am in favor of allowance for kids to buy what they want. This is working for us right now. The house is more picked up and I have removed myself from being the "reminder."

Heck, the girls even wanted to go to in an indoor play place over winter break, happily carried their own purses and readily paid their own admission. There is definitely some responsibility in that.

Click here and here to read about our other small steps we have been taking to make family life a bit easier at our house.

Free Baskin Robbins Ice Cream

In honor the new year and healthier eating, Baskin Robbins just introduced a new line of ice creams called Bright Choices! Fat free, dairy free, no sugar added and light ice cream flavors.

To celebrate they are giving away FREE ice cream!

Baskin-Robbins is celebrating the bright choices customers make each day with On Jan. 15, 2009, participating Baskin-Robbins shops nationwide will offer a free Bright Choices scoop to any customer with proof of a gym membership.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Inspiration

Check out this link. It is beautiful, breathtaking and thought provoking.

Thanks, Deanna for sending this my way.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Spending Freeze Finale

This experiment is over and lessons are learned. There are a few things that I want to clarify and share what I have taken from this. As I said in the beginning, I wasn't going to feed my family generic mac and cheese and powdered milk to "keep us from spending money." We continued to eat the same healthy and mostly fresh food. That wasn't the point. I also wasn't going to keep us from "doing anything fun" for weeks while we sat around and watched Max's toe nails grow. That wasn't the point either. We are each already trying a new activity this year with Megan's piano lessons, Lucy's Tae-Kwon-Do and my triathlon training.

What was the purpose of the spending freeze? To become more aware of our expenses and our day to day spending. I also wanted to evaluate and grab a hold of more impulse buys. Sure I want new workout pants, ipod, spice rack, and shark vacuum, but can't I get by with what I have for now?

I learned that it really is harder to part with your money when it is in cash. As you recall, I did not want to break that $100 dollar bill. Once I did, I became painfully aware of where each bit went; gas, birthday party gifts, lunch out, groceries, a car wash...

I am not opposed to spending money. I love to spend money on experiences and travel. I would much rather spend $10 and take Lucy to the Des Moines Playhouse like I did last Friday, than spend it on some new smelling lotion. I am just more mindful of expenses and since I have figured out how to never pay for toothpaste, shaving cream, or deodorant (thanks to Wendy and introducing me to Walgreens Shopping) that is just all the more we have to spend intangible things. I love introducing my kids to new and different things, places and experiences.

I am also going to begin paying for things in cash. I know of a lot of people that do this and follow the Dave Ramsey approach. It is just too darn easy to whip out the debit card and lose track of what you spend. I was amazed when I looked at our bank account over the past few weeks and saw how boring and nonexistent our transactions had been.

The Spending Freeze was actually kind of fun. It was almost as if we were in pioneer days and we just didn't go shopping.That is a huge accomplishment for me consider our proximity to so many stores. It's over, but a new more responsible way of spending has begun.

Football season isn't over yet...

so get your free appetizer or cheeseburger at Chammp's. Click here for details.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Small Steps to make things easier...time to eat!

Sometimes it is small little changes that need to be implemented or tweaked to help moms save a bit more sanity. After I got our dinner preparations running a bit more smoothly, there was something else that was not quite right.

It may have looked right. Table set (check). Family at the table (check). Everyone with food at their place (check). Say a prayer (check). We would sit down to eat and everything would be blissful for 1 minute and 20 seconds. Then the chorus of, "Can I have more bread? I need more milk. I want more broccoli" (Ok not so much on this last one ;-) But the point being, all of the food needed for refills was still in the kitchen. I would just fill the plates out in the kitchen before we ate and carry them in all filled. It may have saved me from doing extra dishes later, but the constant up and down and refilling this in that was really getting to be absurd.

Our meals are now served family style. All the food is put on the table (in those extra dishes *sigh*), but here is how our eating habits have changed. We pass, we take what we want, we take turns, we slow down and we show our manners as we ask for more of something. Dinner has now been relaxed state of affair and more of a give and take.

Now if I could just come up with a way to keep 19 month old Max from throwing noodles across the table to Lucy or dropping food for an imaginary dog under the table.

small steps. small steps...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Free Copy of Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan Book

I have read several of Suze Orman's financial books and am excited to try this one. Her new book Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound can be downloaded through Thursday, January 15th thanks to Oprah. Click here to download.

Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan Ebook Download from Oprah


Free Lego Club for 6 yr olds and younger

I love the creativity and versatility of Legos! They are perfect for a variety of ages of children. Since we are headed to Legoland in San Diego in May, I thought this might be a good time to get out Daddy's old lego set and get creative.

Click here for your free Lego magazine subscription for 2 years.

Small steps to make things easier...Mealtime

Over the past few weeks we have implemented some slight changes in our family life that have helped things run a little more smoothly in our day to day routines and life.

Roadblock #1: Mealtime: Here is the scenario- I am in the kitchen trying to finish last minute preparations. I am asking the girls to help get dinner on the table. They want to help, they clamor and ask, "What else can I do?" I answer each meal with the same response, "get the milk, the napkins, set out the silverware, get Max's bib and spoon, what about ketchup?" If they weren't carrying something to the table then they were hopping around the kitchen like little rabbits over charcoal.

This happens before every single meal and frankly it drove me a little bonkers. Finally a few weeks after tiring of hearing myself sounding like a broken record, I came up with an idea.

For one time we set the table together and talked about everything we needed. We then took a picture of what a set dinner table looks like. The picture is posted on our fridge and they can check that instead of endlessly asking, "What else do we neeeeeeed?"

We then carried this idea and made over our entire chore chart which has worked really well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Build a Time Capsule Jan 10th

ohhhhhh! These free Build and Grow Clinics that Lowe's offers are so much fun! We did the gingerbread house last month (nope, not with frosting, but with a hammer and nails!). The kids were adorable in their aprons and safety goggles and loved making these houses that open and shut.
Here are the details.

Spending Freeze Update

Yesterday was Day 7 of my self inflicted spending freeze. Due to a salt shortage it was broken and continued to thaw quickly as I ran to the grocery store to restock on fruits and veggies. Milk was more expensive because I purchased soy milk for the first time. We are currently on a trial and error process at our house trying to determine what is causing Lucy's frequent tummy aches. We are cutting out dairy for 2 weeks to see if that will help. Then I had to get the car washed. I wanted to put it off, but it was filthy and I couldn't see out the back window. The kids were walking by the car in the garage and dusting it off with their coats. It was time.
Total Damage: $26.76
Yikes...that was a lot of perishables, but we have been trying to eat more of a variety of fruits and veggies. The kids can't live on raisins now can they?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Free spaghetti entree at Fazoli's

Go here to sign up for the Fazoli's "Italian Revolution" (warning: turn your sound off on your computer...annoying chanting). After you sign up you'll be able to get a coupon for a free small spaghetti entree with any drink purchase. This offer is good through January 19, 2009.

One item that will break the Spending Freeze

One thing. One measly little item. It even costs less then a buck.


Way back at the beginning of the year, I signed up to be the January Play-Doh mom for Lucy's school. She came home from school super excited with the big empty play-doh bucket and couldn't wait to make it and take it back to school. I agreed that it would be a fun project for us and something Max and Megan would enjoy playing with also. Who would have thought that homemade play-doh would needs 2 cups of salt? We barely eked out one cup and Lucy suggested we empty our salt shaker to try to get another cup. That didn't get us anywhere close. She was disappointed, but handled it well. She set aside the blue food coloring and the glitter we had gotten out to add to it.

I had allotted myself money for instances like this as part of the spending freeze, but the point being that I will now break my crisp brand new $100 dollar bill that I have saved for a whole week for a staple (but necessary!) item. Now that its broken how fast will the rest of it go??!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Big goals for 2009

I have thought about it, contemplated and yammered enough about it. Finally I am going to do it. I've already signed up so there is no turning back. What is it? A triathlon. Particularly The Hy-Vee Triathlon in Des Moines June 27th and 28th. Heck, my six year old daughter did the kids one last summer and that seemed like a big distance to me. Check Megan out below looking like a little Olympian.

I'm excited and its refreshing to try new things. But, I am also nervous because it is also scary to try new things. I am doing a training program at my gym and it started today. I did a 40 minute bike and immediately hopped on the treadmill to run for 15 minutes. For me doing those two activities isolated is a breeze. No problem whatsoever. Performing them back to back? A whole different story. Different muscles are in engaged so my legs during that measly 15 minute run felt heavy and weird. Sort of like bricks. Did you know that its called when you do back to back trainings; a brick? It all makes sense to me know.

Oh, the things I am going to learn!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2 Big Goals for 2009

First Goal: read through the Bible this year

Our church, Lutheran Church of Hope, always has a yearly overriding theme that the sermons and mission projects revolve around. This year the plan is to read through the bible in a year. Our church went through this several years ago, but it wasn’t the right time for me. I believe I was pregnant with Lucy and was busy chasing 18 month old Megan around. I tried to start, fell behind after the first week and pretty much lost motivation after that.

This year, will be different! I want to figure out a way to make this into a family affair. Hope is offering a small group study for adults, but am in search of a way I can tie all of this together with our kids. I found a children’s Bible that has a 5-7 minute passage to read aloud with the girls at night. If I make it part of our nightly routine, it will become more meaningful for them as they hear the same readings at church. Lucy and Megan are at the right ages where if they sit through church I feel like they are somewhat internalizing some of the message. I am excited to give this a try.

I do have to say that I started reading to the girls a few nights ago and it did not turn out to be a brief 5-7 minute reading as planned. The Bible readings were on creation and question after question popped up. "If God created everything, then who created God?" "Why did he make the snake in the Garden on Eden be evil?" "Was God alive with the dinosaurs?"

Hmmm... so much for the fluffy stories of Noah parading his animals into the ark and Baby Jesus being born in a manger. I'll keep you posted on our progress. ;-)

You can read about my other 2009 goal here.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Spending Freeze Saturday Style

Uh, oh...the weekend. Weekends can tend to be a bit more spendy for us, but I am proud to say we had a great day and had strong to the freeze. Grandma and Grandpa were in town and offered to play with the kids Saturday afternoon so Dave and I could go do something. We were thankful to get a little couple time and will take it at any chance. We headed to Outback Steakhouse for lunch (thanks to a Christmas giftcard) and then to the bookstore to browse. I was tempted to get a coffee (nothing beats a Starbucks coffee and reading at the bookstore), but I was strong. This evening we taught Megan's Sunday School class at church, had supper and watched a movie. The $100 has still not been broken, but know that will happen in the near future as we need to replenish veggies, fruit and milk.

Free Bath and Body Works Lotion

Good with any purchase. Offer good through January 14th. Click here for coupon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

To spend or not to spend?

We are living in a tough time. People are worried about their jobs, investments, retirement and even concerned about grocery shopping. The economy is down. A recession is here. What is the message that is being sent to us by the big guys in the White House? Spend, spend, spend! I understand that money needs to be circulating and people need to be buying for the world to go round, but are buying unnecessary items and putting things on credit that can't really be afforded the answer?

In December, we received several restaurant gift cards (from the restaurants themselves) beckoning us to come on over for dinner. I have never seen so many stores offering huge sales and deep discounts before Christmas. Those kind of sales are usually reserved for after the holidays to rid the shelves of surplus. These places want us in their establishments. Once we are in, then we will probably spend more. I know that was the case for us when we used our $25 gift card to Flemings Steakhouse.

Restaurants want us to spend. Stores wants us to spend. Guess what? So do the car manufacturers and the housing market.

There has to be a better a better way and I do not mean huge bail outs for irresponsible companies. I don't know what the right answer is, but until things get settled, this family will be doing the opposite of what all of the manufacturers and government want.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Recap Day 2 of Spending Freeze

I couldn't ask for a better way to start out with most stores and restaurants closed on New Year's Day. Temptation be gone! Except for the all too convenient online shopping, but there is nothing we need right now! It is a great feeling.

Dave went to watch the Hawkeye Bowl Game at a bar. The place they were meeting at just happened to be on that I won a gift card too several months ago. The girls and I had a friend over for lunch (chilli, Lucy's Loaves bread) and other then that we enjoyed a nice restful day playing some of the games the girls received for Christmas and doing experiments with Lucy's new science kit.

Awesome American Girl DVD deal

I know a lot of you have American Girl Enthusiasts at your house. Amazon has an awesome deal on a package of 3 American Girl DVDs for 15.49. Click here to check it out.

That really is an unbelievable price.
Sigh...partake it in for me thanks to the 2009 Spending Freeze.

Happy New Year!

Day 1 Recap: Spending Freeze

Part of my celebration in ringing in the new year includes a "see how long I can go without spending money experiment." Read more about it here.

Since I usually a pretty timely person, I started this money freeze on December 31st. I did this for a couple of reasons. Since we have been on school break, I have pretty much had all three children with me for every shopping trip for the past week and a half. This has hindered quick little get in and get out stops. When I stopped at Hy-Vee on the 30th at 5 pm my decision to start a day early was sealed.

I stopped at the grocery store the day before New Year's Eve. With all 3 kiddos. To get one forgotten item for dinner that night. So in the midst of the crowds at the store and with the girls "helping" by pushing their individual carts and and with company coming for dinner at 5:30 that night, I pretty much decided then and there I was done shopping for awhile. Yes, I could have stockpiled more food or tried to anticipate more costs for the month, but this will just make my shopping freeze all the more interesting.

Day 1:
Took the kids swimming at Prairie Life (had a free pass that expired on the 31st!). Our normal Wed. lunch with the grandparents was canceled as they weren't feeling well. Of course, I was sorry that they weren't up to par, but since I buy our weekly lunch it was okay this time. Isn't that a terrible thought?! Made an apple pie to take over to friend's for New Year's Eve (already had ingredients on hand) and made it through the day fairly easily! Maybe this won't be too bad...;-)