Thursday, May 5, 2011

What's all the fuss about Coupons?

Coupons- are a mystery to some and lifestyle for others.    For me- I've always done what I now call "Coupon Lite".  I'd see a coupon here and there for something I use and I'd clip it and dump the rest.    Then we started getting all these $5 off coupons for various restaurants in our area so we started saving them and trying new places or simply enjoying old faves.     $5 is $5 so I thought the coupons were kind of cool but not a big a deal.
Quite often, I'd go to the grocery store and totally forget the coupons I had clipped.  My thoughts- "Oops- oh well- maybe next time."   

My sister-in-law Becky- has it going on in the coupon arena.  She can go to Kroger and pay only half, possibly less of what the average shopper would pay.  So last time I visited, she showed me her coupon organizer that she's used for years.   I thought- okay- that's easy enough.  So I ordered 'THE COUPONIZER' (sounds tough doesn't it!)

The Couponizer is a great organizer if you are just starting to coupon.   It has prelabeled areas and is easy to throw in your purse.  I keep mine in my car all the time!  When I'm running into the store I grab it- toss it in my purse and can easily match coupons to sales as I shop.   This system- has saved us a lot of money.
I'm currently using a different system which I will share in another post, but this is a great place to start.

Here are some tips for those who are just beginning to coupon- or for those who want more info to coupon more efficiently:

1.  Utilize websites that match up sales to coupons for you. (they do the hard work for you.) I will list some great website resources at the end of this post.
2. Get a coupon holder that is easy to transport- start small- this will create a "habit" of couponing.
3.  Attitude is everything-  Coupons are not just pieces of paper- They are MONEY in your pocket and in the stores pocket.    When you hand a coupon to a cashier- you are handing them 25 cents- 50 cents or more, they receive the amount on the coupon from the manufacturer.   
4. Only buy things you will use or donate or you are not really saving any money.
5. Stockpiling is good unless you stockpile more than you can use in a lifetime!!!  The REASON- a majority of couponers stockpile is healthy and logical.   You will begin to shop from your stockpile for what you need.  You'll shop at stores for whats on sale or free.   That's how you get to a point where you don't HAVE to get deodorant unless it's free, because you have plenty in your stockpile (3 to 6 months worth) to last until the next sale.
6. Things go on sale in cycles- most items go on a great sale every 3 to 6 months- so when you find it on sale you purchase enough to last until the next sale.
7.  At first you may spend a little more- because you're building up a lil stockpile.
8. Buy more than 1 paper. (I get 4)  Why?  You need to have multiple coupons to match up to sales so you can buy enough to last till the next sale.
9. STOCKPILE- don't let this word freak you really don't need "extra" space for this usually- unless you become an organized hoarder and go crazy clearing shelves when there's a big sale. (don't do's a sickness...if you find yourself doing that..don't let TLC film you doing it..that's just embarrassing!)  If you buy 4 deodorants for free- those don't take up much space.  Tomato sauce, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap etc... many of us already "stockpile" these to some you'll just be strategically purchasing these items for next to nothing or space, for most people isn't going to be much of an issue.
10.  Check out some of these websites...
        a.  The Krazy Coupon Lady  this site has a wealth of info and great coupon matchups.  Watch the videos they have available and read their beginners info.
         b. Fabulessly Frugal  another great site.   Their video is alright but you can get the information for free at Krazy Coupon Lady and other sites.
         c. Coupon Mom  Not the best name if you're a guy..but a great resource none the less.  This is one of my favorites- because I can pull up a specific store- specific to my area-- and print a list of the deals I want to get at that store. They match the sale to the coupon here just like the above sites.

All the sites I listed have links to Printable coupons. These are a great resource and most stores take printable coupons.  The links to printable coupons on the above websites are reputable so you don't have to worry about fraudulent coupons.

I hope these tips help someone. I'm just beginning to learn the true value of utilizing coupons.  Just yesterday- I purchased 2 tubes of toothpaste, 2 deodorant, 2 cans of shave gel and bag of flossers and made $1.50 to spend on my next shopping trip!  That's ALL FREE plus $1.50 for my next trip.    This was a first for me and it was so easy to do.    I'm a beginner- but I'm steps!  My biggest hurdle- was honestly- just remembering to use the coupons I'd I'm getting stuff for free, that's just fun. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pet Training at it's BEST!!

This is not our first rodeo with a new puppy.   Actually- this is puppy #4 for our family!   The first 2 we didn't bother with taking them to any training classes.(regret!)

#3 we had Anne from Specialty Pet Training come and do a private session.

She was AMAZING!  In just one visit we were amazed at how much we learned and how much our dog learned. 

Now with #4 - we didn't hesitate.  THE DAY we brought little 5 month old Miles home-

I emailed Anne asking when her next Puppy Kindergarten class was...  yep- that's how impressed we are with her training style.

And not just the training time- Anne is available via phone and email in between session to help as well.  You can tell by just spending 5 minutes with Anne- that she loves animals, she cares about them and she cares about you as the owner and equipping you with the tools you need to properly train your pet.   And- you will also learn from Anne that alot of the training that goes on is more about training the owners than the pets!!!  Shocked?! It's true- we unknowingly undermine our ability to reinforce proper behavior in our pets.

Want to know more?  Visit Anne's website for a training session near you.  She has classes in several locations...with her newest locations in Flower Mound and Highland Village.
If your dog is already trained and you want some fun activities- check out her agility classes.  WE haven't taken one yet- but they look like a blast and I've heard wonderful things about them.    Regardless of the age of your Dog- puppy or not- Anne's classes will benefit your dog, you and your family.

And - just in case you're wondering...I was not paid to write this...I'm simply that impressed with Anne!    

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Too Cool To Homeschool?

It is amazing how much homeschooling has changed over just the last 5 years.    There has always been certain "stereotypes" that a majority of people had/have concerning people that homeschool.    Those stereotypes are being blown out of the water as more people realize the freedom that comes with homeschooling.    I can't tell you how many times people have said to me:  "YOU HOMESCHOOL?!  I WOULD HAVE NEVER GUESSED THAT?"  

 The face of homeschooling is so different now.   People who love to travel (that's us) may decide to homeschool so their kids are not considered delinquent in public or private schools.     The homeschool parent today doesn't look or act or believe differently than the parents who send their children to public or private school.   We just made a different educational choice.   Choice is good.   The big difference these days is that when parents today are deciding where to send their kids to school- PUBLIC, PRIVATE and HOME are all up for serious consideration for many.   

The choices are amazing these days.   I feel so blessed to be able to clearly lay out all these options and see that Homeschooling fits our family the best and is doable. 

One of my son's (9 years old) favorite things to do when he's learning something new is to play- "DID YOU KNOW?"   He states facts and tries to tell me something new about whatever he has just studied.  So I'm going to play here:

Did you Know?

1. Most people do not homeschool for religious reasons.
2. There are 1000's of curriculum options.  Homeschoolers can do anything from classic classroom style, to literature based, to online learning, DVD learning.  
3. In Texas- Homeschoolers are accepted to college by submitting their SAT or ACT scores- no GED needed.
4. In Texas- Homeschools are considered private schools. 
5. If you are a homeschool parent in Texas you are eligible for Teacher discounts at many retailers. (like. Ann Taylor Loft, Barnes and Noble, Apple and many more)

It amazes me these days- at how many mom's I talk to say - " I NEVER THOUGHT I'd be a homeschool mom but I absolutely love it!"   People are bravely stepping out...and saying... this is a valid option and I want to learn more. 

Homeschooling isn't for everyone- and that's okay.  Public and Private school are not for everyone either. It's not about one choice being superior to the other.  It's about finding what fits best with your lifestyle and the needs of your family and going for it!

If you're curious, google or bing (Ie search online) Homeschool Curriculum, Homeschooling and you will find out more than you ever thought you could know about homeschooling.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Legoland Grapevine

Today we visited the New Legoland Discovery Center in Grapevine, TX.

I went on this field trip thinking we'd have a fine time but wondering if it was worth the money I paid for the tickets.    Here's my opinion:

First you should know that neither one of my children have ever really been too much into Legos.  A spark of interest here and there but it never stuck for too long. Until...possibly... THE DAY WE VISITED LEGOLAND. 

Upon entering Legoland- Professor Brick Brack shows the kids how Legos are made in the factory.   This session time is short and very interactive.  The kids LOVED it and got a free Lego (yep one block) after the short session)

When Prof. Brick Brack finishes- you go on your first ride and laser guns are involved.  Need I say more here? I mean COME get to shoot stuff on a fun little are having crazy fun and we'd only been there 10 min.  Okay..this is a good sign.   (Note: One adult must ride with children.)

 Our kids head to the next ride- it was a magic bike/harry potter looking ride.  They loved it!  They buckled in..the ride started spinning and they peddled to get their car to go higher.

Then the building began..there's a cool car station- where the kids can build a lego car then race it down about 3 different types of ramps.   I was actually embarrassed that the 6 year olds were putting together these amazing cars and I was just trying to make mine roll on 4 wheels...but enough about me.

There is a 2 story playplace right in the middle that is pretty amazing to the kids.  They spent a lot of time in there in between the various play stations and rides.   It's soft and netted, lots of climbing, sliding, jumping over know..crazy kid fun.  NOTE: kids need socks to play on the stuff some socks in your purse, bra whatever..the kids will need them.  

There is a special place...that the girls loved....

simply because it was pink!  And well- the Karaoke stage was a nice bonus.  The girls spent quite a bit of time in here building.

They had some fun little vehicles for the kids to "pose" on.

If your child is of the rowdier (aka destructive ) type...I'm not judging don't get defensive... be of good cheer.. these are not fragile Lego Bikes/figurines that they'll destroy.  These are sturdy and made for rowdy kids to play on.

The 4D cinema was a lot of fun.    They play 3 rotating movies that last about 10 to 15 min each so you can go more than once and we most certainly did!

Then there is Miniland...Don't skip it... we almost did because well..we almost overlooked it..oops.     Miniland is the city of Dallas- key sights- built in legos and it is amazing.   When you go in..find the little TV screen (we almost missed that part too...we are so observant!)   On it there are 4 or 5 buttons on the right ...each button will display a different Lego character on the screen for the kids to find in the Miniland display.   This was a really fun way for the kids to stay entertained while the adults simply admired the handiwork.

Legoland has a cafe inside the attraction so you can get a snack or eat lunch if you so choose.  But if you are going and want to eat out in the mall ..remember to hold on to your tickets for reentry.


1. Yes it's worth the money you pay for the ticket. (and- if you go and love it and want an annual pass- you can apply the amount you paid for that days tickets to your annual pass if you purchase it the same day of your visit.)
2. Plan at least 2 hours.  We were there 3 1/2 and my kids were still not ready to leave.
3. Bring a light sweater/jacket...the adults did get a bit chilly because we were not running around like the kiddos. (well some were just not us.)
4. Go in the morning if you can- it gets a lot busier after lunch.
5. It gets loud in the main area- very loud- so if you or your child are sensitive to a lot of noise, proceed with caution.
6. Adults can ride the rides and just be a kid here if they want...or you can grab a seat and watch all the fun from the sidelines..whichever strikes your fancy.
7. You exit - through the LEGO STORE-  just saying..prepare yourself and your children for exiting through the store on a LEGO HIGH.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Early Riser? What's Up With that!!! AHHHHHHHH

Okay- let me help you understand this VERY IMPORTANT FACT about me  ...I have, my entire life been a NIGHT OWL. (okay that's actually not a VERY IMPORTANT FACT about me but important to know as you read this post.)

(painting by renditionsbyreesa)

Until now!   

All of the sudden, I'm waking up at 4 or 5  am, doing my devotions, unloading the dishwasher, doing a load of laundry, running to the store at 5 or 6 am and getting to know the stock crew at our local Super center because it's just us at that time of day.        WUUHHHAAAATTTT???  

What is happening to me?  This is not me?  My whole life I've done things just the opposite.  I really got going around 9 or 10 am..  I may be up before then but not really functioning too well.    I had a couple of sweet spots of productivity in my day that were around 3-5 PM  and then after 8 pm till 12 or 1 in the morning.   That is just how I rolled.  I was good with that..I enjoyed it.  

How on earth did I suddenly morph into this morning person who's wide awake at 5 am skippity-dodahing through my day and my to-do list. ( no offense to early risers, especially since I may be joining your ranks?! ...I love you just as much as night owls...I'm just use to the night owl thing)
  I do not think that early risers are better moms, or more organized etc... same for my fellow night owls... however you organize your day, getting things done after the sun goes down or before it comes up or a little both... I'm not judging.

I had a rhythm..I liked my night owl rhythm...I owned it, worked it  and all that good stuff.  And now... I'm this early bird person... and I'm perplexed and confused.   I get a lot done before 8 am but I feel out of rhythm.  

I am blessed to have a choice, I'm a Stay At Home, Homeschooling Mom so  we have a "routine" more so than a "time schedule".  We get certain things done on certain days and what time we got started varies.   Guess we'll be getting started earlier these days.

What are you?  Early Riser or Night owl?  Do you wish you were one or the other?

I'm not sure if this is a phase or not-  Whatever happens, I'll have to own it.  Maybe if I keep getting up at 4 am I'll start taking naps in the afternoon! Oh how fun..then I could be an early riser and a nightowl.  Hmmm I'll work on that.