Monday, February 28, 2011

Frugal AND Fun (Part 2)

We spent the morning building sculptures out of mini marshmallows, jumbo marshmallows, and toothpicks. This worked out a lot better than it had in the past with the pink heart shaped marshmallows. For some reason even the littlest of these barrel shaped snacks just work better as a support. Connor seemed much more interested in spearing them into his mouth after the first or second of our creations. I was able to snap this before he moved the sculpture into his stomach.

Connor is not a huge fan of drawing. He much preferrs messy painting, which I can only tolerate so often. I love this form of building because it is easier and cleaner than blocks or leggos can be, stimulates small muscle development, and works as a snack, too!
We then headed off to the library, where we checked out a variety of transportation-related books and Blueberries for Sal, which Connor loved despite the monochromatic pictures. I owned this book as a child, and it made me so happy to see him enjoy it.

After reading every single one of our 4 books, Superhero ABCs, and two other books he nabbed from a display shelf, I finally hearded him out. We ran over to the beach for some of our other favorite activities-- throwing rocks:

Watching trains:

and playing at playgrounds:

If it looks much to cold, cloudy, and windy to be at the beach, well, you're probably right. But being wrong never stopped Connor and I from enjoying a rare dry day!

We had an awesome time, all for the price tag of $0.

Frugal AND Fun!

I think I may have been missing out on the chance to post free or low-cost activities for the child and I.

This morning we built marshmallow and toothpick sculptures.

We're headed off to the library now. Hopefully there will be some preschool packs available. Will post pictures and recap of our library adventure later today!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Forging Ahead

Maybe it was the $364 I forked over to the dentist today, maybe it is cabin fever from being only seven days away from my new resolution, but I am thinking about what March will bring. I am toying with a few ideas, and should probably keep some kind of running list of possibilities. You know, in case I run out of resolutions by the end of 2011.

Among the ideas floating around in my brain:

  • Exercise / weight loss
  • Cutting out processed food, getting all recommended servings of veggies / fruit into my boys
  • Anger Management (More like yelling management)
  • Something relationshippy
I feel a little bit bad about the "something relationshippy." I guess we've been floating along pretty well, and if I had to narrow things down, I would like to communicate better and be more patient, which sounds a bit too wide of a focus and generic. Perhaps I'll hold off on the relationshippy ideas for now.

On an unrelated note, C had a good playdate with little E while I was getting 3 fillings. Here they are scarfing a bite between lots and lots of playing.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wanting It

Aaron told me that if I want something less, it will go a lot smoother. After our party on Sunday and the fiascos that abounded, I am starting to think he is right.

We picked up balloons at 5:30 and stuffed them into the back of our Saturn coupe. I was up until 11 PM Saturday night baking the tiger cake, icing and decorating it.

I wasn't thrilled about how it turned out, but it looked enough like a tiger that the kids would recognize it.

We left the house around 9:15 Sunday morning for the zoo. Our balloon bouquets (3) were promptly confiscated at the gate. Apparently, popped balloons can pose a serious risk to animals. I wish I had known this before I was $30 in for them.

I pinched the s&*^ out of my finger while hoisting a stroller loaded with Connor, purse, goldfish, miscellaney related to the party... Thank goodness we ran into two guests at the West entrance, so they helped carry some goods.

I was able to relax a little bit and Aaron helped get us set up over four tables. Three guests were waiting for us in the zoo cafe. We left Aaron and the gifts, cake, food at the pavillion. We had so much fun with 10 other guests walking around the zoo and looking at the jungle, African, and farm animals.

After an hour and a half, we met back at the pavillion for PB&Js in the shape of ducks, dogs, and bears. We snacked on goldfish. Finally, we sang to Connor and had some CAKE!

Overall, it was a good party. Connor was exhausted when we got home, but managed to open some gifts first.

The grand total for the part was $100 more than our party last year. SIGH. Lesson learned-- do not invite 10 children thinking that only 1/2 to 3/4 will show up. We had every single guest RSVP yes, and picked up 3 more kids and an adult AT THE ZOO. Yikes.

Hoping next year is a bit more reigned in.

I can't believe my little angel / sometime devil is 3!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Birthday Party DONE!

I am beyond thrilled to report that although everything DID go wrong this morning, we had a glorious party. I will share the full post later, but here are some juicy bits.

The cake BEFORE the disaster:

The kids running amok at the zoo:

A priceless expression on my (almost) birthday boy's face:

To stay on topic, I failed in my quest to spend less money on this party, and I deserved what happened as a result. I'm still a little scared to add up all the costs of the 20 trips I took back and forth to various stores. Shopping all done now! Birthday week is almost over, so if I can make it to Tuesday I think I should be back on track with my money goals!

P.S. Got a follower! :D

Monday, February 7, 2011

So Discouraged

I am not sure if it was the combination of Super Bowl frenzy and stress from our upcoming Birthday Week, but I was not a frugal girl this weekend. We had breakfast out Saturday morning. We ended up going to Aaron's sister's house (2 hours away) on Saturday after I got off of work, so of course we had to stop for something to eat on the way. We also picked up dinner for everyone at a butcher, beer and cigars for the game on Sunday.

I left at 6 the next morning to go to work and bought a bunch of random things I'd been wanting from Walgreens (did I really need lavendar AND grey nail polish?) and breakfast for the drive.

I'm worried this is worse than yo-yo dieting and I am setting myself up for failure. It almost feels like once I slip up (eating out, grabbing something I didn't REALLY need) I figure the whole day is blown.

I am trying to refocus and plan the parties for Aaron and Connor out very thoroughly, so there are no more impulse purchases. We shall see!

Friday, February 4, 2011

February, Here We Come!

I probably should offer a recap of January before I jump headfirst into February’s resolution, so here goes:
I was immensely proud of all of us for sticking to this resolution! We ended with a bit of a stall, since we attended the Children’s Film Festival’s PJ party (where there was actually only about 10 minutes of film) and a screening day the following Monday, where the short films totaled an hour, but since two of them were subtitled, I am going to chalk that one up to “culture” rather than falling back onto TV as a babysitter / time killer / crutch.

I teased February’s goal as about NOT spending money, and February is a hard month for us to try this, but I feel like it is really relevant in today’s world of stalling job growth, lay-offs, and all-around crappy economy woe. We’ve got Aaron’s birthday, Connor’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day this month, so telling myself I am not going to be spending like I normally do is a lot easier than actually sticking to it. I already knew by the end of January that I wanted to try being more frugal, but when I went out to the pajama party / opening night of the Children’s Film Festival I immediately bought a $6 snack pack before realizing they were giving away free Trophy cupcakes. Whoops. I’d already spent close to $40 for tickets for Connor and myself to the two days of Film Festival we attended.

Other than those slip ups, and Aaron and I already discussing how much we are putting away each month toward buying a house and a second car, I am staying optimistic. I’ve set Connor’s party up at the zoo without reserving a room and thus avoided a booking fee, made the invites myself and had them printed with Lake’s company discount at UPS, made the favors myself and kept them to a bare minimum / bulk type items and Dollar Tree finds, and am making the cake myself this year! 

I am toying with the idea of forgoing Valentine’s Day entirely this year, other than the $7 box of Valentines I bought for Connor to hand out at preschool. I’d been brewing a beautiful, private dinner for Aaron and I complete with décor and dessert, but I know Aaron probably won’t do anything for me for V-day, so rather than face a letdown and potential blow-up, I may table the entire dinner. I’d also thought I might make a bunch of cute homemade candies and homemade Valentine’s for the girls I work with, but also gave that idea up with the hope of cutting costs.
I am worried this post is coming off as a downer, and that the only way you (and I) have fun is by spending money, but that is not true at all! I think I am much more excited about Connor’s birthday this year than last year, when I reserved a room, decorated it with all “Cars” themed merchandise, bought a cake from a local independent cake artisan, and bought lunch for every kid (and one moocher adult) who attended.
I’m also optimistic that I can save money by doing more and more outdoors in terms of Connor and my time. At least $20 a week goes toward playdates, coffees, snacks, etc. while we are out and about town. As the weather gets more mild, we will be able to meet friends at the park and other fun local places. Wish me luck!