Archive for June, 2008

Redbox Code 06.30.08

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Today’s free code for a Redbox movie is W1H6J4. This code is good for one free movie and you can use it until midnight tonight. Enjoy a free family movie together!

I also used the code SUMMER for a movie this weekend. I had to try four or five different codes before I hit the bingo on that one, but it might be worth a try for another movie! Enjoy!

Side Notes:

– If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

– When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, “Rent with Promo.” Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

A Struggle to Be Faithful

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I adore my Emily. She is her very own little person with her own sweet little personality. I prayed very hard that we would someday have a little girl of our very own and here she is in all of her glory. She is the sweetest little girl with the best personality and she makes me laugh with her sweet quirkiness.

Emily has also challenged me in ways that I never dreamed as a parent. While Ethan slept through the night at three months, my Emily still cries for me at night (she is two and a half). Since she has been born, I have had rarely a full night of sleep. I can’t figure out why this is because we have done everything for her exactly the same as Ethan, but Emily doesn’t seem to really need sleep.

Ethan was (and still is) an extremely outgoing child. I could leave him anywhere and he would have a zillion best friends by the time I got back. I remember that my feelings were a little hurt the first day I dropped him off for school and he barely acknowledged my departure. He was just that kind of kid.

Emily is not that kind of kid. She is very shy and takes time to warm up to anyone. She really hates to be left anywhere and clings to my leg if she thinks I will leave her. She wails uncontrollably if she thinks we will leave her. It has been extremely hard.

Working out is difficult because I can hear her crying when I leave her in the babysitting area for my workout. I am constantly listening and my stomach feels like a little tight ball because I am on edge if she is making it difficult for the babysitter in charge. I feel selfish when I leave her there. Working out is optional and I feel like I am inflicting trauma on my child for no reason.

Worshiping is difficult because the children go to Sunday school while we attend the service and she really hates going. When we walk into church, she starts crying and when we leave her she is uncontrollable and inconsolable. This Sunday she screamed the entire time we were in service, and her screaming was worse if anyone looked or talked to her. When we got done with worship and the tears were rolling down her face, I felt like the worst parent in the world.

I honestly don’t know what to do. She doesn’t like to be alone at night, she wants me to be by her side all day, and I feel very badly for the people who are caring for her in my absence. At the same time, I know that there are times where we need that separation so that I can be a better mom to her. Things like working out and going to worship are important to me, but I feel very badly doing these things when I know how hard it is for the people who care for her.

It is bad enough that I don’t know if my husband and I should go to worship together. Maybe we should alternate services so Emily doesn’t have to go to Sunday School? Maybe I should quit the gym in favor of working out at home? I really am struggling with what is the best way to handle this. Do I keep doing this in hopes that she will figure out that we will always come back to her or do I wait until she outgrows it on her own?

I would love to hear from parents who are dealing with this or have watched their children outgrow it! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Amy’s Notebook 06.26.08

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Knock, knock… don’t worry, it’s just housekeeping! I have a couple quick things to share with you…

It has been awhile since I have done a giveaway for our site. I am happy to announce that I am giving away a lifetime membership to PearBudget, an amazing new website where you can track your family finances. Don’t worry- you don’t even have to give them access to your bank account. This is just a simple straightforward budget sheet that you can use to track your expenses. Head over there by Wednesday and leave me a comment (entries that are left here cannot be included).

While you are over there, you can see our latest review on the Sony HDR-SR10 Camcorder! You have not lived until you have zoomed into your cat’s nose and watched it in high definition. Yes, this is the first project that my husband did with it…you know, just to see if the zoom was really that awesome. And it was. But…the cat’s nose? Boys!

On to the entries!!

These coffee pops sound like the perfect mommy treat for summer (@ Yum Sugar)

I love this guide on what organic foods to splurge for (@ Cheap Healthy Good)

Here is another great tutorial for a fabric car organizer (@ Finny Knits)

These activities for things to do with dandelions sound like a blast (@ Let’s Explore)

These make-ahead shakes sound delicious (@ Everyday Food Storage)

These felt needle holders are so sweet (@ One Crafty Mumma)

These mason jar lights are so beautiful (@ Design Sponge)

I love this birthday bunting tutorial (@ MilkMonkey)

This reminder to entertain at home was much needed- read the comments for meals on the fly (@ Like Merchant Ships)

These ideas for water balloon fun sounded like a blast (@ MommySecrets)

I want to try this lemonade recipe and I love her post on hospitality with littles this week (@ The Homespun Heart)

I love this idea to use craft foam in the bathtub (@ Plum Pudding)

I am going to have to try these potato packets on the grill (@ With All I’ve Been Given)

I want to try this beautiful baby blanket pattern (@ Frugal Upstate)

The kids and I are going to have to try to make this homemade butter (@ ohdeedoh)

This tutorial on joining fabric strips is amazing (@ laughing purple goldfish)

I am loving this idea for spray painting plates (@ A Soft Place to Land)

This camera strap is so cool (@ house on hill road)

Notebook Experiments: Will Zoo Maps Keep My Child Busy?

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Experiment: Can a few printed out zoo maps keep my child busy for an afternoon?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 06.19.08

Materials Needed: Please see Let’s Explore for specific directions on how to complete this experiment. I printed out the zoo maps that Let’s Explore had suggested along with maps from our own local zoos for my son to look at. I wished we had a color printer to print these out, but Ethan still was able to visualize where all the animals were in the zoo.

Results: I planned this activity the day after we went to the zoo so all of the exhibits were fresh in his mind. At first he copied the maps and used those as a template for his own map. I then asked him to make a map of his very own imaginary zoo and he filled this with the traditional zoo animals. I challenged him a little and asked where the dinosaur exhibit was and he looked at me like I had two heads, “Um, mom…dinosaurs are extincted.” This is when I stressed that it was an imaginary zoo and he could fill it with whatever he wanted. That is when he really let loose on his map and created some interesting exhibits like a squid exhibit, a special T-Rex exhibit, and some animals that I can’t even pronounce.

Just like our grocery store experiment, we also wrote the zoo words out and I had him practice on his writing. I am trying to encourage this as much as I can so he will have a great start to his first year at elementary school.

Once we completed this, I told Ethan that he could build a zoo out of the Little People sets that we had. He was very quiet for an hour while I worked and then told me that I could come downstairs. “Ticket please, ma’am.” Every toy in the world was out and lined up for an exhibit. I applaud the effort, and silently cringed as I saw every toy bin dumped to build the masterpiece.

Conclusion: This was a wonderful activity to foster creativity, build our writing skills, and also kept my son relatively quiet for an afternoon. I did have some clean-up on my hands, but building a zoo can sometimes create a bit of a mess. Many thanks to Let’s Explore for inspiring me as a parent!

Happiness Is…An Office Without a Window

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

A Peek at the Vegetable Garden

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

The tomatoes are starting to grow and I am seeing little green ones popping up everywhere. I can’t wait to eat them!

The herbs are growing bigger and everything is doing really well except for the basil which did not survive the Indiana frost. I haven’t replanted it yet, but am thankful for lots of flat leaf parsley and rosemary to add to my dishes this year!

The garden view from the patio. I did get some more mulch to freshen up the bed and keep the moisture in. I am loving having my garden so close to my house now so it makes it easier to water and maintain.

Here is what is happening in the gardening world:

The Ultimate Green Workout (@ WiseBread)
Keeping the Skills Alive (@ Simple Mom)
How to Service Your Reel Mower (@ Apartment Therapy)
Non-Toxic Mite Control That Works (@ Shelterrific)
Turn Your Patio or Balcony Into a Vegetable Garden (@ DIY Maven)
Find Grocery Savings in Your Own Backyard (@ Not Made of Money)
Making a Tomato Trellis (@ Stop the Ride)
Freedom Gardens- Grow Your Own Food (@ Nature Moms)

How are your gardens growing? Feel free to share a link in the comments- I love to see what everyone is up to in their backyards!

Frugal Hacks & WSBT: Summer Fun & Steamy Confessions

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Today on Frugal Hacks you can read my sordid confession on returning to the world of television. Here’s hoping that you will still visit the site when you find out what I have done.

Today our summer activity list makes the cut for WSBT on our segment on, “Fun Summer Activities.” Hat tip to Whatever again for this fabulous idea! You can get a closer look at what we have planned this summer and the frugal family ideas we came up with.

Patio Renovation on a Budget

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Longtime readers may remember that we were attempting to redo our backyard patio ourselves. Yeah, we have still been working on it up until this past weekend. Two solid days of back-breaking-cursing-ourselves-for-starting-something-so-stinking-hard-my-wife-won’t-stop-
nagging-me-until-it’s-done-work. Yeah, good times, good times. Don’t you wish you were my spouse about now? Nope! Me either!

First, let’s start with some before pictures and I will share some of our woes and dilemmas with redoing our space.

When we moved into our house, there was a giant tree that was right next to a bricked patio that had been there from the very first owner. That tiny beautiful tree turned into a giant enormous tree that began to uproot the patio, creating an unsafe spot to hang out and was horrible to entertain on.

We paid to have the tree removed and the stump ground. What we did not expect was the difficulty that we would have placing a new patio on this space because the stump was ground, but the roots were still there. And the roots? Yes, those roots were giant trees that were just as difficult to work around as the space. This giant pile of dirt was creating a damper on my outdoor entertaining and my kids loved playing in it…which created a ton of laundry for me.

We ripped out the entire patio except for the very beginning of it because it was all uneven, but many of the bricks were broken and crumbling so we were worried how big we could make our patio if we only had a few bricks to work with.

Lucky for us, Ryan’s family renovated their patio and offered us their bricks so Ryan decided to make a design from their old brick and our old brick to equal a fabulous new patio. We loved the design, but the work was very tedious because the bricks were two different sizes. Basically, it made for difficult and unpleasant work BUT it was practically free except for the labor and the fresh sand.

Now I can tour my yard with a lot less embarrassment. Here was my solution for (with the help of my husband’s hard labor) the giant dirt pile. The root system was axed as much as we could and we leveled the dirt and outlined it with some of our free brick. We covered the dirt with pebble and moved our fire pit to this area. Two chairs were purchased for $29.99 from the Martha Stewart line and two outdoor pillows for $12.99 each (also from the Martha Stewart line at K-Mart) to complete this look. These chairs are wicker, but can fold to be stored in our shed or can be easily moved to the dining area for extra seating. I picture a lot of time in the evenings with my husband in these chairs! Not pictured was a small glass table that I got for drink holding or as an extra spot to put a tray on when dining outside for twenty dollars.

Here is what the bricking looks like on the finished patio. The two bricks made a beautiful design with their different colors. I just love how it turned out and I know my husband is really proud too.
Please ignore the trash can in the corner- we are still cleaning up from all of the hard work. Here is our dining area which has been relocated to the side to create more room on the patio for playing and drawing with our chalk.

The patio set was already owned, but my cushions were showing their age. I did do a deep-cleaning on these and let them enjoy some time in the sun. I didn’t want to spend all my money on cushions so I replaced the back cushions and will replace the bottom cushions next summer. These kept me on budget, but also freshened up the patio set.

Now the kids can play in this instead of the dirt pile. How refreshing! It will certainly save me some time on laundry, but not on floor sweeping.

And now I can nag my husband about moving these, which are leftover brick from our project. I am sure we can think of some things to do with these, but he asked me not to nag him for a few days until he can recover from this project.

That concludes our backyard tour- I can’t wait to hear what you think!

Redbox Code 06.23.08

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Today’s free code for a Redbox movie is 44KBV9. This code is good for one free movie and you can use it until midnight tonight. Enjoy a free family movie together!

Side Notes:

– If you want to rent more than one movie for free, bring more than one credit/debit card. You can use the same promotional code, you just will need different cards to charge it to. The charge will be zero as long as you return your movie on time for the next day.

– When entering in your free movie code, you need to enter it FIRST before picking the movie. On the very first screen, click the, “Rent with Promo.” Enter in the above code and then make your selection- the amount should then total zero.

Cracking the McDonald’s Coffee Code

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

Wow, my Boo to McDonald’s post certainly received a lot of responses and I loved hearing how you all make your iced coffees. It gave me so many great ideas and so I decided to approach this in my traditional test kitchen fashion and try to crack the code. For all my hard work, I finally got a vanilla coffee I love and a lot of belly aches, constant shakes, and a little bit of time in the bathroom… BUT it was totally worth it!

Are you ready?

Here is my magical formula that gave me the best vanilla coffee without the chemical nastiness that McDonald’s was giving me.

First up, I made my own coffee syrup. I used the coffee syrup recipe that I highlighted in my Get Your Java Fix from Slashfood. I used the recipe that they list for the Vanilla Bean, but substituted the bean with two tablespoons of vanilla extract. The two tablespoons number came from Ashley, a friendly McDonald’s employee, who shared her secret for making the coffees at home. I stored the syrup in a mason jar and am keeping it in the fridge.

To make the coffee, I fill the cup with ice. Next fill your cup halfway with coffee (I used my Folger’s Gourmet Vanilla Biscotti) and then almost halfway with milk. Top the coffee with two tablespoons of your homemade vanilla coffee syrup and then a splash of fat-free vanilla creamer (inexpensively purchased at Aldi or make your own).

With this combination, I did not need to add any extra sugar and it is just as sweet as McDonald’s and just as tasty too! The splash of vanilla creamer gave it a richer taste, but the skim milk and fat-free creamer gave me a better calorie combination.