Saturday, December 24, 2011

Snow Much Fun!

Wow, it has been a busy week but it has been filled with fun!  It has been five days since my last post but I am finding it hard to blog or write with all of the festivities and preparations involved with the season.

On Tuesday we spent time at the school.  First we went to Connor's class to help make gingerbread houses.  Michael helped Connor, and my Mum and I helped one of the special needs kids in his class.  His name is Dominic and he is VERY special needs; he was a handful for the two of us but an absolute delight at the same time......such a sweet boy........we were all wearing frosting by the end of it.

The kids sang some holiday songs at the end but Mum and I missed it because we had to run over to Madison's class to help with their Holiday Around the World Party.  My Mum donated Christmas Crackers for the kids which they took turns pulling after eating a smorgasbord of treats from around the world.

Madison pulled her cracker with her best friend Chloe......
 Each cracker has a toy.........

 A joke.......
 And a hat..........
 The kids each read their joke aloud, a lot of them wore their hats, some of them wore them upside down.....
Wednesday night we headed out to Tempe Marketplace where they have "Snow Much Fun".  They have artificial snowfall every night along with Christmas songs.  We had a great time......

Then we headed over to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge for a visit to the Whoville Gingerbread Village.  It is absolutely amazing and free to the public......

Thursday night we headed out to dinner at a friends house.  It was someone that Michael used to work with.  I had never met them but we all had a great time.  Madison got along great with their 9 year old son and Connor had fun playing with an old train set they had been saving in the garage.  We are hoping to have them over for New Year's Eve.

Friday we spent the day celebrating my Mum's birthday and taking care of last minute preparations.  My brother and his wife came over for breakfast after their graveyard shifts at the hospital.  I made baked french toast and sausage quiche.  It was yummy!  In the evening we headed out to dinner to celebrate and then hit some Christmas lights on the way home.

We have spent the entire day at home, relaxing and enjoying each others company........can't wait for tomorrow!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Been Ten Days.....

It's been ten days since my last blog post, sorry.  I guess it's just that time of year.  Last week we picked my Mum up from the airport, she is staying with us for two months.  We have been busy doing lots of things to get ready for Christmas.

We decorated the house.........

We went back to Santa's Winter Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops.........

Mum and I went to the school and helped the kids make chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered candy canes.  Then we packaged them, so they can give them as gifts.  Against my advice, Madison skipped all the way home with hers in her backpack, hence the broken candy cane........

Mum baked her famous Lemon and Apple Pie.........

We went to my sister-in-law's baby shower, she is carrying my first nephew and my kids' first cousin.  I gave her a blanket and a hat that I spent a lot of time finishing last week.

Connor went to a birthday party at Chuck E Cheese, he had a blast, I needed a glass of wine when we got home........

Today is my day to catch up on things that I have fallen by the wayside because tomorrow we are helping make Gingerbread Houses in Connor's class and in Madison's class we are helping with their Christmas Around the World party.  My Mum bought Christmas Crackers for the kids, to represent England.


Things are pretty crazy around here with all the festivities, an extra body in the house and the kids all wound up with excitement.  The best part of it all, is that the chaos makes it really feel like Christmas!

P.S. Last minute addition, Madison's wiggly tooth FINALLY came out!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Best Day Ever!" (and it was FREE)

Last Wednesday was an early release day from school, which means the kids get out at 12:25pm while the teachers get caught up on their work.  We decided to take advantage of that time and do something fun.

A few weeks ago I was flipping through the channels and came across a commercial for Bass Pro Shops Santa's Wonderland.  I have never stepped foot inside such a store before.  If you are not familiar, Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World is like the Disneyland of Outdoor Stores.  They sell everything for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, kayaking, boating, etc.  Inside the store, there is a giant waterfall and a pond full of real trout.  Surrounding all this, is realistic outdoor scenery complete with a huge collection of taxidermy, strategically placed to enhance the whole ambiance.  I use the term "taxidermy" because the animals appeared real, but I'm not really sure if they were "real".  I DO know that they were not "real" as in "living".  That is how exciting this place is year round.

For the holidays, they set aside a special area where they have all kinds of fun things for the kids to do.  That is what they call "Santa's Wonderland".  Following the outdoor theme, there is a carousel complete with reindeer, moose and bears, instead of horses.  They have a shooting gallery, a sling shot gallery, slot car races, a real Lionel Christmas train, remote control monster trucks and activity tables.  Santa was also nestled in a corner waiting to hear the kids' Christmas wishes, with a professional photographer ready to snap a 4x7.  All of this, including the 4x7 is F-R-E-E!!!!

When we walked in the door the children's heads came dangerously close to exploding.  They looked around at all of the things to see and do and their brains just went into sensory overload!  They were so excited and they wanted to do everything NOW!  We managed to calm them down and restore some kind of order but they were amped, stoked, and ready to roll. We spent half of the time in Santa's Wonderland and the other half just enjoying the rest of the store.  During our visit, Connor looked up at me and said, "Mama, this is the best day ever!"

I love finding little gems of fun like this.  Seriously, the kids enjoyed this more than a visit to Chuck E. Cheese and it didn't cost a penny!  If you are fortunate enough to have a Bass Pro Shop near you and you have children you can't miss this opportunity to visit Santa's Wonderland.  Because we went in the afternoon on a weekday, we were lucky enough to to be one of the few families there and we didn't even have to stand in line to see Santa.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Got Paid 62 Cents to Order Some Boots from Old Navy

Do you think my title is catchy?  Do you think it's a trick?  Well it's not!  It's a shopping method a la Dwija @ House Unseen.  As I have mentioned previously, I have been trying my hardest to provide the best Christmas possible for my kids with limited funds.  Here are the boots that I ordered for our dear Madison from Old Navy.

Here is how I got paid 62 cents to order them.............

Short story long........we have been using an American Express card for as long as I can remember and we have been accumulating Membership Rewards points on all of our purchases.  We buy as much as we can with our American Express card and then every month we pay off our bill in FULL!  In fact we do not believe in carrying a balance on our credit cards.  We have so many points and we have been saving them for a "rainy day".  Well, considering our financial situation, that rainy day has come!

Last weekend, I received an e-mail from Old Navy stating that if I ordered in the next 2 days, I would receive 30% off my order.  So what did I do?  First of all, I went to and clicked on their link to make sure that I would get my 5% rebate and then I went to Old Navy and placed the boots in my shopping cart.  I then went to American Express and ordered $30 worth of (free) e-gift certificates for Old Navy with my rewards points.  My total order at Old Navy came to $30.42 with tax and shipping.  I used my $30 worth of Old Navy gift Certificates and put 42 cents on my American Express card.  The next day I received an e-mail from stating that I had received $1.05 cash back in my account for my purchase at Old Navy.

$1.05 - .42 cents = .62 cents profit

VOILA!  That is how it's done!

Ka- Chow!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Finally Did It!

We have been here in Arizona a little over 2 months and I have yet to make the giant leap to put myself "out there" and make some friends.  If you are not church goin' type of folk and you move to a new town it can be difficult to make friends.  Sometimes, you only need to go as far as your neighbors, but sometimes, that doesn't work out so well.  If you need to, please read my recent post "Brownies, Lemonade and Dog Poop" for evidence of this!  Every time I step outside my front door, I am armed with an excuse of where I have to run off to, and when I return, why I have to quickly run inside.

Enter has been my friend on several occasions.  It got me involved in a playgroup when I lived in California and my kids were small.  When I moved to Las Vegas, I started my own Meetup group which didn't amount to much, but I did get one good friend out of it before the group fell apart.  In the end, I made a few friends through the school too and managed to host and attend several coffee dates.  Not bad, considering I only lived there for 9 months.

Earlier this week, I finally did it, I got on and searched for groups that interested me.  There were lots of Mommy groups but I decided that I didn't want to be "defined" that way anymore.  After all, both my kids are making their own friends at school now; they don't need me to make friends with other people with kids (not necessarily a bad thing, but not my motivation).  I finally came across "The Chandler Women's Social Meetup Group".  It appears that they are a group of women of all ages.  I looked through their past and upcoming events and it seems like the events will fit me perfectly.  Let's not forget, that we are on a tight budget around here and I can't be meeting for dinners, lunches and movies.  This group does meet for movies and dinners but they also have simple meetups at bakeries and coffee shops.  I can eat before I go and simply order a cup of coffee.......that won't break the bank!  They also have a monthly book club meeting at the Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble.

My first meetup is tomorrow and it is at a bakery.  The point of the meetup is to get together and bring a donation for a local women's shelter (right up my alley).  In my couponing adventures, I often overstock on things like toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, lotion etc.  Sometimes, I will purchase other random things and put them in my stockpile.  I usually get these things free or nearly free and I always end up having too much.  I have been donating these items to homeless shelters in the last year.  For this event we are collecting things that Mother's and their kids can give each other for Christmas.  I just happen to have an extra bottle of perfume and a My Little Pony toy saved up in my stockpile!  Woo hoo!  I am so excited to participate in this event!  I can meet some new people and do some good for those in need!

I am also quite excited about the book club because I have recently started reading again.  Until Thanksgiving weekend it had been years since I had actually read a book.  I haven't had the ability to slow my brain down enough to stay with a novel.  I have read lots of magazines, cookbooks,  "how to" books and let's not forget......never ending amounts of research about "stuff" on the Internet.  If I have a question about something or an interest in something new, I look it up on the Internet or head down to the library and get a book about it.

For some reason, last weekend, I went to our bookcase and started looking through the Stephen King books.  He is my favorite author and I have read a lot of his books.  We have quite a few in our personal library that I have not read.  I picked out "Gerald's Game" which is a book that I tried to read a few years ago but just couldn't slow down enough to do it.  This time, I finished it in four days.  Pretty fast considering all the other housewifey things I accomplished at the same time.
When I saw that The Chandler Women's Social Meetup Group had a monthly book club, I looked at the upcoming book selections then went to our local library's website to see if they had the books available.  I hit the jackpot; they are available!  I have already checked out the first book and I started it yesterday.  I am a third of the way through the book and the book club doesn't meet until January!  In case you are interested, the book is "The Romanov Bride" by Robert Alexander.  It is a pretty easy read and very interesting.  When I am finished, I think I am going to check out the other books by Robert Alexander.

BTW, I got another one of those Kohl's $10 gift cards this week and got 3 pairs of pink patterned knee highs and two pairs of underwear for Madison.........grand total: $1.18!

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