Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Deals and Coupons!

      I love deals and great coupons but I am a writer first and foremost. In order to keep the primary blog content consistent I'll be creating a new page. This will be my last blog post on this page about deals, coupons, or codes. After this all of these will be updated on the "Check It Out" page and you can all ready find printable coupons on the "Get Coupons" page. These pages will be updated regularly!

Coupons and Codes:

$1.50 off any 2 one quart or larger Silk milk products

$2.49 Valentine’s Day Cards at Cardstore! Use code: CCA4312, Valid through 2/7/14*

Free Shipping with no minimum purchase at Gymboree! *
Use Code 0130DEAL at Tiny Prints for 50% off. Valid until January 31 at 10am CST.*
Check it out:

Ace & Ivy, the new daily deal website for boutique and handmade goods*

InnovaToys,  Specialist in physics, science, and education toys*

Discovery Toys, Learning products for kids of all ages. Click to see the catalog!*

*Affiliate links

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Taking the Kid's Toys Away

     It happened. We reached that point in the parenthood thing where we were fed up. Done. The TOYS were never-ending and never put away. It's barely a month after Christmas and they just don't give a rip that their new stuff is upside down or stepped on. Forget that noise. We took EVERY last toy away about a week ago*. I think. I think it was a week ago. It's Wednesday, right?

    Yeah, I just went and scrolled through my personal facebook page to see which day it was because I knew I posted about it. Ha. It was a week ago exactly! They have only earned one thing back (the duplo legos). Those have been taken back from them multiple times too.

      The cabin fever is real. We are out of our minds. Sunday was a sweet reprieve with the random 60 degree temps. We spent 3 hours at the park playing. But, we're right back below freezing with more nasty precipitation this week. Mind you, we've been to Chick-fil-a, the library, and the art museum more than once this month. We go let them walk around through the store** just to get some of the spare endless energy out. At this rate, they'll get their toys back when they are in their twenties.

    There's plenty to complain about. I could go on about it for a while. I'll just be quick about it though. Feel free to skip this part. [The kids are crazy. The toys are taking up space in our room. Stomp stomp. Wah wah. They don't seem to care that their toys are gone. It's not working. Failing. Failure. Why why whyyy?]

    As all of this is going down something wonderful is happening. My girl's imaginations are growing tenfold! They are great little pretenders and story makers as it were. But now. Wow! The big bed is a mountain. The toddler bed is a boat. The plastic storage boxes are the treasures. Socks are crocodiles. The cubby bookshelf is a "giant, giant bird house" with all kinds of crazy birds living in them with their babies. The tall bookshelf is a ladder to the spaceship (although my sensible side tells them NOT to climb it!). Their hands are paddles and phones and brushes for the invisible "good" animals. The closet is a "bad cave". Hubby and I are the monsters half the time. Pants and long-sleeved shirts have become capes. This is only a compilation of their ideas for ONE of the pretend games they play! How awesome is this?! I love it! Their play with the legos is even more creative now, in my opinion.

      We won't get rid of all of their toys. Some were begging to be put out of their misery, donated, or sold anyway. I think we're going to get a cabinet of some kind and put them all away rather than having them out and available all the time. I feel kind of guilty because I'm a 90s kid and Toy Story ruined me. Still. I use logic. Logic tells me . . . the toys won't feel too bad and they'll enjoy listening to the girls pretend all day.

    I think this will do them almost as much good as when we ban them to "be bored" outside on gorgeous days like my own parents did. They'll have to do terrible things like run around, play hide and seek, and dig holes. I can't wait! (Well, I can and I will but you know what I mean.)

*I will say we aren't pure evil/their giant eyes break my mommy heart so they got to keep their lovey animals that they sleep with and carry around everywhere. Also, they have their books. Books aren't toys.

** With us. We walk with them. They hold our hands and all that good stuff. I promise.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Deals and Sales! 1/27 - 1/31

ModCloth - 50% off with Code FAB50

Crazy 8 - Select Knit Tops are Only $3.99*

Craftsy - FREE online mini class!*

Purple Trail - Click the link for Today's Deal. 15-25% off beautiful cards, invites, or stationary.*

Gymboree - 30% off Markdowns. Jeans are B1G1 50% off!*

Forever 21 - Spring Sale

Familyhood - Up to 40% off. The best deals on all sites from to!

*Affiliate Links

Monday, January 27, 2014

Just One Hour With My Daughter

      Oh, my sweet daughter. She's my little delight. She's certainly beautiful on the outside with her golden locks and her sparkling blue eyes but she's absolutely amazing on the inside. Three has been a rough age for sure. I learned pretty quickly when I was around lots of different kiddos working in a daycare that the third year made the second year seem super easy. I couldn't have comprehended then how truly challenging it is to deal with a preschool-aged kid. My sweet firstborn love, in particular, was a high-need baby and she continues to be a very sensitive little soul. She's like the exact opposite of the Grinch. Her heart is 50 times bigger than normal and every little thing affects her deeply.

     It's been a long time since we got some one-on-one time. New baby siblings make that more complicated than normal. Today we got out for an hour just me and her. It wasn't a big deal. I was just making a quick trip to Target for some random groceries. I took her along while hubby watched the other two. One whole hour.

    She talked and talked and talked. Undivided attention is a rare treat when you are one of three kids under three. She soaks it all in. She let me into her world for that hour.

     We saw a school bus. She told me about going to school and playing with kids. She told me she wanted to learn about bones and letters and all the animals.

     She saw some big houses and told me we should get a big, big house for lots of kids and lots of animals. She wants a pink pillow and three new books and she likes the sky when it's blue but it's just grey and cold right now but when the sun comes up it gets blue, blue, blue again.

    We saw a horse and a cow. "Where are their babies?" she asked. "They'll be so sad without their babies with them." And she continued telling me all about the horse and the cow and  their babies (that we've never met or seen before).

     She told me how the stop lights work ("red means stop, STOP, NOW and green means go real fast"). She told me how her carseat keeps her safe and she shouldn't unbuckle it. She told me how she wanted to go to the park and library again soon. She told me she likes it when mama is happy and not sad or angry.

    She asked to stop before we left just to look at all the Valentine's cards and we did. She admired the colors and the glitter and the hearts. "Why are these here for mama?" she asked. "For Valentine's day." I replied. "Well, I just like Valentine day." she smiled. 

    I let her choose some juice and some cereal. She chose to think of her sister. She picked out things Sweet Pea (2 years) would like and told me that Little Buddy (3 months) "just only needs milk from mama though".

   We talked and talked about so much more.

   She told me and a stranger and the cashier how much she loves her sister and brother.

   She fell asleep in the car on the five minute drive home telling me about her "body book". (She's fascinated by bones and organs! our genius. we love it!).  It was just an hour but it was an hour well spent. I hope and pray she can always talk to me but I know there will be times she chooses someone else to share her sweet heart with instead of Mama. Whoever they are they are in for a treat and I pray they appreciate her heart as much as I do (not that I believe it's really possible). I want to always remember these moments. 



Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Mac's 30th Birthday!

     Nope, not my redneck cousin. The beloved mass producer of shiny, wonderful items with an Apple logo on the back. The ones that make for plenty of first-world-problem memes. I bought my first Mac 7 years ago and I'll not go back to the days of "custom" PCs. (Yeah, I built my own desktop setup, windows-running PC back in the day because I am legit. Newegg was my friend.)  I knew I liked Macintosh. My parents had windows computers at home (and my dad has worked in the tech world for a while now) and my grandparents had macs. Oh, sweet memories of Windows 95 and 2000 and the G3. I knew and used both. Then once upon a time I got my first job. I saved all my dollars until I got my first macbook. The original perfection white.

     I'm gonna go hug my iPad now.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pros and Cons of Stickers!

    Kids love stickers. Mine certainly do, anyway. I know I did! The poor walls and furniture in my childhood bedroom were covered smartly decorated in all sorts of colorful, sticky-backed shapes and characters. My Mama loved our creativity. haha! Really, you can do so much with them. They are simple and cheap. Think about it. Here's a quick rundown of the pros and cons:

Sticker Pros
  • Awesome
  • Pretty
  • Benefit Fine Motor Skills
  • Available in a plethora of colors, shapes, characters, and things
  • Cheaper than dirt
  • Easy to use
  • Super fun
Sticker Cons
  • Sticky
  • Sometimes difficult to remove
  • May rip easily and break your kid's heart
  • Possibly terrible for the environment
  • Inedible

 All this basically means that stickers are a win. Here's a bunch of ideas for having fun with them:

- Potty Chart (Easy peasy: Write their name on a plain sheet of paper and put it up on the fridge where they can see it with a few magnets. Let them pick and place a sticker for every successful potty trip. Just explain how it works!)

-  Practicing Counting  or "Tracing" letters
- Practicing making lines from left to right

- Make pretty things to send to friends in the mail

- Decorate the plastic wipe box

- Decorate your face OR your baby sibling's face

- Decorate ugly-ish furniture

- Just fill up a blank book or page for the fun of it! (Keeps the littlest ones occupied for a while)

For more craft ideas from other awesome sites check out pinterest.

By the way, I almost always take a peak at the dollar section at the front of Target. That's where I found these little LeapFrog activity books AND a booklet of 405 stickers for $1 each!

What do you (err . . . and your kids too, I guess) like to do with stickers?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr.

     “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” - MLK JR
Credit: Erickson

      I've always admired him. He was a strong man, a faithful man, and certainly an American hero.  We'll make a day of learning about King and civil rights. I like to read and listen to his iconic Dream speech. My kids may not fully understand now but I want this part of our history to be remembered by them. It's never to early to begin teaching them about these things, in my opinion. If you're looking for last minute ways to honor the day with your kids:

    A while ago we borrowed this beautiful book from our local library. The illustrations are just incredible. It definitely caught the attention of my little ones. They bring the content of the book to life.

   Do you have netflix? Click here or search "Scholastic: Amazing America". The third episode is 10 minutes attributed to King's life.

   Here's a printable crossword and a craft from crayola appropriate for older kids. A simpler coloring page from teachervision for younger ones.

    Some other interesting things to read:
Tuscaloosa News - April 11, 1963 - Negroes to Defy Ban 
The Letter from Birmingham Jail 

    If you really want to have fun make a cake or cupcakes in honor of his birthday! He would have been 85 years old today.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Our Current Favorite Toys!

     What are your kiddos current favorite toys? Something they got for Christmas, maybe? An old beloved doll? Something colorful and plastic or handmade and wooden?

     I have to say, one of our favorites is the entirety of the local park playground! We don't have a yard. There's some grassy area around our home but there's nothing keeping the kids from the street. It's not very safe and our neighbors aren't always the most charming lot either. When we get a chance to go, it seems my kids are their happiest after playing at the park.

     It's been a long winter so far without it. All the nasty weather and our sweet new one has been keeping us mostly inside with the exception of errands and a few minutes here and there to see the sun or enjoy some snow. One day I hope we have a big yard with a climbing dome, tire swings, slides, sand boxes and zip lines galore. That said, this post will be focused on the sorts of toys we have inside.

     I try to keep things in rotation. I will admit . . . the musical instruments have been in the back of the closet toy box (it's just a big, transparent, sterilite box that the littles don't have access to) for quite a while. Although I do think the set we have (the B. Parum Pum Pum Drum) is adorable. We have many, many more toys and things than these I'll talk about.

     Right right now these are the ones that have kept the intrigue of Bitty Bug (3.5) and Sweet Pea (2). I think all of these toys are fantastic for their age group!

#1 - Fisher Price Little People
     These little people toy sets have taken over. We have several of the bigger sets now! They had some before Christmas but it's also the bulk of what they got this year (or .  . . last year, I guess). With a portion of their Christmas money we ordered the dollhouse and got the Disney princess castle. Personally, I don't put the batteries in the ones that make noise. The girls do all of the noise-making on their own. These make a perfect starter dollhouse set and they are awesome for pretending! I do like the old version of the people better than the new but they are all adorable. There are tons of options to match each kid's interest: the princesses, airplanes, a dump truck, zoo and farm animals, and a little family. My personal favorite is our nativity. There is also a Noah's Ark set we don't have yet that I think is too cute! The bigger things like the castle can be a pain to get together because they are essentially a plastic 3d puzzle with screws. They seem to be pretty sturdy in the end though. Did I mention they are cute??

#2 - Duplo Legos, Wooden Blocks, and Mega Blocks
     No doubt, the hubby is an avid Lego fan. He'd probably live at Legoland if I let him. I love them too but I don't discriminate on building blocks of any kind around here. The girls can't get enough. We have a huge box of the mega blocks and a great variation of wooden ones. We just started our collection of duplos though. I think Bitty Bug builds more robots than planet earth could handle. They make cities and bridges and houses. I love it!

#3 - Magnets
   Zoo animals, dinosaurs, letters, and numbers! We have quite an assortment of fridge magnets now. I found the Melissa & Doug animal magnets on the cheap at Ross one day. You can always find bags of the colorful letters and numbers for a buck or two! Sometimes they play with them on the fridge while I cook. Other times they each get a cookie sheet to put them on. I've found them to be a super tool for learning the alphabet and counting.

#4 - Play-Doh
 Store-bought or homemade. It's cheap and fun. You can anything with it. You can smash it to create something new or bake it and keep it forever and ever. This stuff with some simple plastic tools and cookie cutters keeps them occupied for a good, solid 30 minutes if not an entire hour. It's also a fantastic sensory activity.

#5 - Puzzles and Busy Gears
 Oh, we only have over 20 kid puzzles. Cheap and not as cheap. Mostly wooden. A few plastic. Even some made of foam. NONE that make noise for heaven's sake! (I can think of some scenarios where noise-making puzzles could be great but NOT in my house!) Pro tip: put the pieces to the left so they put them on left to right! It's a reading tool! I also lucked out and found the "vintage" Playskool Busy Gears set at the thrift store for a few dollars. It's going for $30-50 on eBay and amazon which is nuts! I do like the old one much better than the new version. One of the neatest toys we own is a hand-carved, alphabet, snake puzzle that we bought at a local market.

     So, there you have it. These are our current favorites. They are pretty basic and maybe that's what is so great about them. Maybe I'll write about the toy rotation system I've got going soon. It needs some organizational work but it's much easier all ready than having all the toys out at once.

Check it out! Sales this weekend only 25-80% off!

 Don't miss out on these deals going on over the weekend!

They are having an amazing sale through Monday (01/20). This will be in store AND online. It includes 25% off clearance! Plus, there are deals on all the new spring outfits. I ordered this recently for my little Pumpkin. Bitty Bug loves the yellow elephant nightgown we got last year. It's on sale for $8.99!

*This year, turn your resolutions into reality with Craftsy! For the next 48 hours, choose from over 50 classes in 14 categories that are up to 50% off and start learning from the comfort of your own home. Categories include cooking, photography, sewing, quilting, fine art, knitting, and more! Check out the flash sale here: Craftsy Flash Sale 1/18-1/19*

    Get up to 80% off. If you need some adorable winter gear for your kiddos to cope with the crappy weather here's your opportunity for a great deal!  

*Affiliate links

Friday, January 10, 2014

Like a Gazelle: Family of Five in 1000 sq ft

     We're doing the Dave Ramsey thing to the best of our ability.  Life circumstances make that difficult at times but we're getting our momentum back. I think. We're always looking for ways to improve; ways to save.

     "Date" nights are still watching a favorite movie on Netflix or grabbing a $1.20 Redbox rental (preferably for $0 when we get a free code via text message). We used to play more board games. Sometimes we just chat.

     We do our best to keep other costs down. We keep luxuries like cell phones* and internet but we definitely get our use out of them between communicating with family, friends, and coworkers, couponing, paperless billing, swagbucks*, school, budgeting, and banking*.

     We made the decision to sell our second vehicle almost 3 years ago. It gets iffy sometimes after being so used to having a car to myself all the time but we make it work. Our current van is definitely solidly into clunker territory. We hope that when we do finally add a second vehicle (soon? maybe?!) again that we can pay 100% crispy, cold cash.

     When we did eventually replace our awesome luxuries like the TV, computer, or what have you we waited until what we had was literally not even appealing for parts. Then we find the sales or the unexpected deals. Do you know how much I'd love a new camera to upgrade from my Nikon d40x? A LOT! D you know how I drool when I see the kitchenaid mixers and dyson vacuums? (Hold on a second. I sound like an adult person. When did I start drooling over mixers and vacuums??) All in due time, as they say. Right??

     My husband has worked 2-3 jobs at a time and he's donated plasma. We've sold off a lot of junk and even some well loved items to shrink our debt. We rarely buy games or movies new. If we happen to rent and LOVE something then we typically trade-in some stuff for store credit. We've also done  the same with the kid's clothes and toys. Soon, I'll step into the world of consigning with the Rhea Lana event coming up this spring. We've got the hang of eBay and craiglist now too.

   But, our biggest, craziest leap thus far has been to extend our lease in a <1000 sq ft apartment. Oh, we idealize moving out, having our own yard, owning our own home. No doubt. For now, for just this short time, we can do this though. Five people: two bedrooms, two bathrooms, no walk-in closets. We'll make it work. I'm determined NOT to rent some storage unit for our extras. I'm slowly figuring out how to make the most of our space with its limitations. We'll donate or sell what doesn't fit. When new things come in old things will go out. We could move into a bigger space with a yard and a garage. We have the ability. It's an option. We just aren't taking it.

      I'm starting to think we're insane. Hopefully soon we can be crazy AND debt-free.


*Referral links
- Virgin Mobile 
- Swagbucks
- Capital One 360

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Quick List of Free Mail and Fun Printables

      It's COLD outside! My weather app reads 5 degrees Farenheit right now and that's up a bit from what it was yesterday at this time! If you're reading this I know you have internet access. Maybe you have some spare time on your hands. Maybe you're browsing while nursing a sweet baby.  Maybe maybe maybe!

    Well, when my husband was gone for a total 7 months when he decided to join the military I got really obsessed with sending and checking the mail. There aren't anymore handwritten letters now from my love because he's home (thank God!) but that was rough. Those days where no letter was there were so disappointing. We wrote a lot to eachother. Bitty Bug was only 2. She didn't understand but whatever I could read to her in those letters, I would. Even if it was simple things, "Daddy loves and misses you." and the like. Now, maybe it's our experience or maybe it's just her age or maybe a combination but she gets excited when I check the mail. She is thrilled to get something of her own or even if I let her open the junk. I started looking for ideas on how to get different things in the mail for her only to found out there's quite a few fun ways to get mail for your kids!

     Our current favorite is Lego Club Jr. You input your kiddo's name and info. Lego sends a cool magazine (either the normal Lego Club or the junior version depending on age) full of info on the newest sets, little games or activities, comics and more. The subscription is free and lasts for two years.

    Another something, that I just requested recently is the American Girl catalogue. Their beautiful dolls are well known. I never had a doll but I did love the books when I was young. The catalogue was fun to look through. I'm not sure we'll ever splurge on these dolls specifically but I'll definitely be on a search for the books once Bitty Bug and Sweet Pea are ready to read them.

    I've seen the Disney postcard thing on several sites and blogs but have yet to try it myself. From what I understand you (or your kiddo) send a letter to  Disney World or Disneyland and you'll get a "signed" postcard from the princesses or Mickey and his friends.

      Geoffrey's Birthday Club is a quick click and sign up for a birthday card (and coupon!) for Toys"R"Us. Check it out, you can also get a birthday phone call and go into the store for a birthday crown and balloon! 

     There's also the option of having them color a picture or write a letter to a friend or family member. Let it be a surprise or give the person a heads up so they might write back promptly! It's never too early to start learning how to do that.

Aside from all that, it's nasty cold outside across most of the US right now. Coloring is one of the easiest ways I can manage to get my crazies to sit down, calm down, and be slightly more quiet than usual for five minutes. If you're looking for coloring pages or activity worksheets check these out:

Random House Kids
   From Eric Carle to Lowly Worm to Thomas the Tank Engine. There are puzzles, crafts, and coloring pages for all those classic favorites.

Crayola Pages
   A personal favorite resource. There are coloring pages and craft sheets for almost any subject under (and including) the sun.

Nick Jr. 
   Offers lots of free printable coloring book pages of all their TV characters. It's easy to find your favorites, like Bubble Guppies or Dora, and print away!

   Just spin the wheel, select your kid's favorite cartoon, and you're likely to find several printables! Curious George is one my girls love.

National Geographic
   This is a really cool "print n go" coloring book of realistic looking animals. Dr. Seuss
     A 20 page activity booklet based on the world of Dr. Seuss. Totally free to print at home. It includes math and phonics. This is recommended for kindergarten to first grade and up.

FEMA - Fire Safety Booklet
   Here's a printable PDF on fire safety. It's geared towards little kids with some of the adorable Sesame Street characters sharing basic instructions.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


     Cool news! I feel like a legit mommy blogger now.  Spunky Nerd Mama was approved on Top Mommy Blogger! Click the blatantly obvious image below or the badge on the right sidebar to vote and support my blog and then go check out the amazing directory of blogs! No personal info or registration of any kind is necessary. Just a click!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


     We spent our New Years Eve in. We watched some old movies like TMNT 2: The Secret of the Ooze. After the kiddos were in bed we played some of this silly shooter on the Xbox called Shoot Many Robots. Loving it. It's really easy and amusing. It's ever so slightly crude. Nothing complicated. At least, if you find swarms of psycho robots and redneck humor amusing you'll likely enjoy it. We do. So, yeah. Doesn't hurt that it was free on the Xbox live thingy. Oh, and I made more pumpkin bread and banana nut bread* because we NEEDED it. Hubster also introduced me to Sangria SeƱorial. YUM!

      We shared our smooch at 12 on the dot and tried to remember what happened this past year. Ha! Kids wipe your memory out like nothing else. Obviously, the best part of our year was the arrival of our sweet Pumpkin. We had a lot of ups and downs with job changes, job loss, school, and what have you. Thankfully we have each other and a wonderful, supportive family to help us push through. We're looking forward to all the prospects on the horizon of the new year. We'll be moving, working through school, and continuing to adapt to being a family of five.

My hopes for the new year:
- A bigger place with a safe yard for the kids to play in
- Getting another year closer to being debt free
- Being healthier all around
- An awesome new job
- Finishing my degree (we'll see about that)
- Making something more of my photography and this blog
- A puppy (not likely but a girl can hope!!)
- Starting some "homeschool preschool" with my girls in the Fall
- Health and happiness for my family, of course

2013 in Summary
     Enrolled in school. New couch. New TV. Debt paid. Pink dinosaur birthday. Wonderful News! Mini golf. Softball games. AT. Lost my cat :( 4th anniversary. Elmo birthday. Big girl beds. Continuing school. Grant came through! Job lost. Becoming a family of five. 3 kids 3 and under. One is potty trained!! Job found. Thanksgiving trip. Snow storm. A's and B's. 5th married Christmas.

    Also, I must admit that I was a terrible southern lady today. No black eyed peas, greens, or cornbread here. Calm down. It'll be all right. I did make bread. ;)

Here's to a new year!

*I stared for five minutes trying to decide whether to write "pumpkin and banana nut breads" or "pumpkin bread and banana nut bread" or just "breads".