Sunday, August 26, 2012

I've moved!

I purchased my own domain and moved my blog! Please schedk me out at :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Early Literacy Series, Day 1: Just read!

For the second week in my Month of Series, I am going to share tips and tricks for early literacy development that you can do at home.  I'll be sharing my favorite ideas and links to additional resources.  I'm not an expert by any means, but I know what works for my kids might also work for yours. Of course, it might not.  All of these ideas can be tweaked to meet your child's individual needs.

So, day one: JUST READ.  Yeah, okay, you probably already knew that. Every child should be read to (or read, if they can) for 20 minutes a day. You can do it here and there throughout the day, or all in one sitting if your child likes to have downtime right before bed.  The important thing is the cumulative amount of time you spend reading together.  The more exposure our kids have to language and text, the more likely they are to be fluent readers.  We talk to our kids every day, but time spent with a book is time teaching them that our spoken language is made up of a written language.  Letters make words, words make sentences, and sentences tell us a story.  There is no wrong way to read a book to your kids, but here are some suggestions to get even more out of your story time:

1) Look at the pictures and talk about them.  Don't worry about the text, just take a "picture walk" through the book. If your child is old enough to discuss the pictures with you, ask them to tell you what is going on in the pictures. You can make predictions of what the story is going to be about and then check them by reading the text. Some books only have pictures specifically so that you and your child can make up the words to go with the text.

2) Alphabet hunt - If your kiddo knows his or her letters, ask them to find and identify letters on each page. You can also do this with familiar words or sight words, if your child knows any.

3) Trail your finger along the text as you read.  This draws attention to the fact that it is the words that tell the story.  As your kiddo learns words, you will be able to share in the reading of books.  I always pause when I get to a word RJ knows and he reads it for me.  It draws out the reading a bit, but it really gets him involved.

4) Have fun!  Use character voices - a high squeaky voice for a mouse, a deep voice for a lion, etc.  It adds to the "give and take" of the dialogue, and your child will love it!

Share your ideas on how you read to your kids below in the comments!  Do you have a favorite book?

Friday, July 6, 2012

It's Silly to Pay Full Price at... Target!!


Okay, sorry, had to get that out of my system.  Due to the holiday week and some travel, my first "series" is really only going to be three posts long, but I have definitely saved the best for last (in my opinion).


I know, I'm a dork.  That's okay.  I love it, my kids love it, we go to Target two or three times a week sometimes.

I used to pay full price at Target.  Hey, their prices are pretty reasonable.  Sometimes I'd luck out and find something on sale and be really excited, but it wasn't a criteria for shopping there really.  I got attached to Target in my endeavors to avoid other stores in my area that I don't like.  I didn't care if I paid more for the items if it meant I didn't have to go to other stores.

Hubby isn't a believer in store credit cards, so even though I pointed out that Target's credit card gives 5% off of every purchase, he wasn't excited about me getting one. Then, Target came up with something wonderful - the Red Card Debit Card.  It is a debit card that pulls directly from your bank account like your regular card, and you get 5% off right there at the register every time you use it. I signed up, and I have not paid full price at Target since that day! Today, I saved $3.52 on my groceries just by using my Red debit card.  That may not seem like much, but this year I have saved $132.86.  That would have more than covered our electric bill for the month of June!

The debit card is great, but it's not the only way to save at Target. Coupon stacking is my other big like about Target.  If you can find a manufacturer coupon and a Target coupon for the same item, Target will take both.  Currently I have a $2 manufacturer coupon for Pampers and a $2 Target coupon for Pampers.  I will pay just $5.22 for a jumbo pack after coupons and Red card savings. I look every week at to see what coupons they have available. They have coupons for every department, which can lead to some pretty great deals (you can read about my Target clothes shopping experience here).  You can usually use coupons for clothes and such on clearance items as well. I also love that my Target is so coupon friendly.  Other stores here will not take the time to look over your order and try to figure out your coupons - if it doesn't scan, you're out of luck.  The people at Target always read over my coupons and accept them if they can.

Finally, Target has pharmacy rewards now.  They used to extend to just Red Card holders, but now anyone can sign up.  For every five prescriptions you fill, you will receive an extra 5% off coupon in the mail.  I often use these to go grocery shopping, saving even more money.  Most of the big name pharmacies in my area are a hassle to deal with, so I really love using the Target pharmacy. 

My total at Target today before my coupons and my Red card was $84.33. After my coupons and 5% off, my total was $68.01.  I saved $16.32.  My best deal was saving $1.95 on Gerber baby food - I got 8 packs of 2nd Foods for the price of 6. Other great deals I have found:

$7.56 for two bags of Starbucks coffee (Reg $7.98/ea)
a shirt for $3.61 (Reg $10)
and a bottle of shampoo and conditioner for $2.74 (Regular $3.89/ea).

I'm not an extreme couponer.  I won't even buy the Sunday paper to get the coupons. Target just makes it that easy to stretch your dollar.  It's like giving your money super powers (Stretch Armstrong, anyone?).  Okay, that might have been a little corny, but with 5% off every time you go (without having to sign up for a credit card), there is just no reason to pay even the reasonable full prices at Target! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's Silly to Pay Full Price at... Kohl's.

Day 2 of the "It's Silly" series!

I don't do a bunch of shopping at Kohl's, but I always think of it when I need something specific. Particularly clothes for myself or the kids, or gifts. I have mixed feelings about shopping there.  Kohl's is one of those stores where items are never actually sold at the tagged price.  Everything is always "on sale" and the "sales" rotate throughout the store. If you hit the right department on the right week, you can save 40-50% off the ticketed price of an item, but if you hit it on the wrong week you may only save 20% off that item.  Their base prices on items like housewares and toys are also inflated, sometimes to the point that even their sale prices aren't as low as you would pay for the same item at Target or another retailer. However, I still find that I can get some great deals at Kohl's, for two reasons:

Clearance:  I cannot go into Kohl's without finding racks and racks of clearance items in almost every department, which makes it a prime target for clothes shopping for myself and the kids.  I never spend a lot on my own clothing. My everyday clothes get what I call "mommed up" really fast. I don't wear my nicer clothes often enough to justify a large expense for them. The kids just grow too fast.  I find deals like maternity pants on clearance for $4.60, t-shirts for me on clearance for $2.80, and items for the kids for $4 or less.  I have found decorative items on clearance for 70-80% off as well.

Coupons: Kohl's has one of the loosest coupon policies I know of.  I often get $10 off a $10 purchase cards in the mail. These are good on anything in the store, including clearance prices, and you do not have to buy anything more than the $10 covers.  I am also on their e-mail list and get 15% off coupons (and occasionally 20% off) in my e-mail.  Again, these are good on everything in the store.  Where many stores have policies where you can only use one coupon at a time, Kohl's lets you use these discounts in conjunction with one another. If you go during a time where they are doing their Kohl's Cash promotion, you can use your coupons to get your discounts, and then for every $50 you spend you earn a $10 Kohl's Cash coupon to use on your next visit.  When you go to redeem the Kohl's Cash, you can use multiple KC coupons on one purchase - and, if you have a percentage off coupon, you can use it too.

So I guess this entry should really be you should never pay "just" sale price at Kohl's. If you do your research and know what a reasonable price is for the toys and housewares, you can find great deals. Shopping the weekly ad and looking for extra discounts can net you some serious savings on clothes. Even when I don't need anything, I find ways to take advantage of Kohl's $10 off of $10 coupons.  That's a $10 toy we could put in the box for Toys for Tots at Christmas, for example.  Last year I was able to donate four extra toys by doing this!

Do you have a Kohl's near you? What do you shop for there?


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

It's Silly to Pay Full Price at.... Hobby Lobby.

For the first day of my "It's Silly" series, I am going to tell you why it is silly to pay full price at Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby is one of my favorite stores.  I love going in there!  They have everything from furniture, to home accents, to any kind of craft supplies imaginable. The store has a simple layout that is fairly similar from store-to-store, it's clean and smells nice, and the selection is amazing. An extra bonus for me is that they are a Christian company, which shows in the fact that a) they are closed on Sunday so that their employees have time to worship or just spend time with their families, and b) they play instrumental hymns and Christian music over the intercom.  I can't go in there without humming along to whatever I hear.

Being a fan of saving money gives me even more of a reason to love Hobby Lobby.  They do a great job of rotating their sales schedule.  I have looked, and have yet to find an actual schedule, but it seems about every 3rd week or so I go in there and scrapbooking supplies are on sale.  Last week was a bonus because it was scrapbooking paper, stickers, and stamping supplies.  This week scrapbook albums and page kits are on sale. The rest of the store seems to rotate as well, and it would surprise me to see any one department go a month without being featured in the weekly ad.

If you can plan your project out a few weeks in advance, and don't have a time limit, you can easily buy everything you need at Hobby Lobby on sale.  For example, I knew that I was going to be making save-the-date cards for my sister's upcoming wedding.  I took advantage of the scrapbooking sale last week to get my supplies together. Of course, sometimes you need to do something last minute, but that doesn't mean you are stuck paying full price!  If you visit Hobby Lobby's website, they almost always have a 40% off coupon for any one regularly priced item.  Occasionally the coupon is only 25% off, and occasionally they have item-specific coupons, but it never hurts to look!  The best part is you can print a coupon, but if you forget, you can pull up the website coupon on your smart phone and the cashier will honor it. I also did some research - furniture is ALWAYS marked 30% off at Hobby Lobby, and I was always bummed that I couldn't use a coupon because it was marked down. Not so!  If your item is on sale for 30% off, you can forfeit the 30% discount and use the 40% coupon.

The only way they could make Hobby Lobby better, in my opinion, is to give a percentage off your entire purchase type coupon every now and then, one that you can use on sale and clearance items.  Still, there is never a reason to pay full price on your entire purchase at Hobby Lobby!  I am making my sister's save-the-date cards for about 50 cents per card, as opposed to the 80 cents per card it would have cost had I paid full price for all of the supplies.  When you have a big project, little savings add up!

Do you have a Hobby Lobby near you? What has been your best find? 

P.S. For the longest time this was not an option, but you can now shop HL online!  Click here to go to their online store!

Monday, July 2, 2012

July - A Month of "Series"

My post-a-day challenge in June was so successful for me, that I have been thinking ways to keep up my blogging. An idea came to me that I am really excited about - a weekly series where I blog about five things related to the same topic. So far this is my idea:

Series/Week 1: It's silly to pay full price at ______ (five of my favorite stores). Discussing where I get the best deals on things.

Series/Week 2: Promoting early literacy in the home. Ideas like my word wall, etc.

Series/Week 3:  Crafty stuff

Series/Week 4: Not sure yet! I am thinking of asking for reader suggestions for this week and picking five to write about. 

I'm not sure I have enough of a readership going to make this a huge success, but I think I will have fun doing it.  If you see something you like, feel free to share it. If you have ideas feel free to share those! You can e-mail me at

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A month of blogging

I made it! Today is June 30th and I have posted at least once every day since June 1! So here's what I have learned so far:

1)I really don't have something to talk about every single day. There were days when it was all I could do to write a quick "This happened today," at the end of the night.

2) I have more to say than I thought I did. Especially about saving money and education. I am passionate about both, because both feed into my role as a mom, which is my ultimate passion.

3) Blogging from the iPad isn't fun. I don't like the blog docs app at all, and blogging from safari isn't ideal either. There are some things that just need to be done old school.

4) While I may not be ready to take my blog to a professional level, I have really enjoyed interacting with others who have been able to do that. I am enjoying sharing their posts with others and helping them with their goals. I hope that, even though I don't have any major goals yet, I have at least given them something interesting to read every now and then!

So, happy end of June! I hope that I can keep up posting during July :)