Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 Walgreens 100 Dollar Challenge: Week 4

I did not spend any money at Walgreens this week.  I had a good list, but when I went to the store, they were out of the fish oil tablets I wanted to get.  I even had the guy check the stock room.  These were the tablets with a mail-in rebate, and I had a coupon, so it was actually going to be a $2.00 moneymaker in the end.  It wasn't worth the money to buy anything else this week.  It was also snowy that day and I had my daughter with me, so I didn't want to venture down the road to the other Walgreens to check their stock.

This week is looking pretty good!  Check out Wild For Wags for some Walgreens deals and coupon matchups!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunday Scrappin'

It's time for Sunday Scrappin'!  I finished two pages this week.  These pages took entirely too long to complete, and I blame it on my Cricut ignorance.  This week's lesson:  Do not use cheap paper to print intricate details.  :)  I also learned that the glue I am using on my pictures is causing the paper to roll.  I will be switching to tape as soon as I have a chance to get some!

The lettering on this page is from the Opposites Attract cartridge.  The big O was hand-designed, and I went with a simple corner scissor-cut on the photos to give them more of a professional photo feel.  Here's our little Buckeye Baby: 
 Page 2 is in honor of our California youth group.  They were the first ones outside the family to hold the princess after she was born.  They are such a special group of people, and I definitely want the princess to have at least one page to remember them by!  The writing on this page is from the Opposites Attract cartridge, and the background designs are from Plantin Schoolbook.
I read an article tonight that caught my interest.  A dear friend of mine wrote about her plan to do scrapbooks for her children that will only require 3 nights per year!  I love her ideas, and I think I will be implementing some of them myself.  I think it is a great idea to limit the amount of pages in my daughter's scrapbook and to actually consider the story I want her scrapbook to tell.  Take a look at Rachel's post, and check out her great ideas!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Tot School *With a Saturday Edit*

 Tot School
Our princess is currently 24 months old.

Last week we began rotating the princess' toys.  Today was the first day to swap some toys out for her.  I chose to do this during nap time, and it was like Christmas when she woke up.  She went crazy over her Elmo airplane that she hadn't seen in a week.  She pulled out her shopping cart and pushed it around for a long time.  She did not even seem to notice that her dollhouse and Cozy Coupe (both of which she plays with for long periods of time daily) were gone.  This is great!

For Tot School this week, we did a little bit of Valentine's Day, matching, colors, and a tiny bit with numbers.  I am still looking for crafts and games to teach numbers to a 2 year-old and am open to suggestions!

I got ambitious last week and put together quite a few games for the princess. I got this one from Home Grown Hearts. Princess liked pointing to the pictures and naming the ones she knew. She did really well matching the proper colored crayon to each picture.

This was also from Home Grown Hearts.  Actually, this was supposed to be put on a ring and used as a book.  The princess found the pictures before I had a chance to do that and had such fun making them ride around.  I decided to have her match the crayons to the horses, and she loved that.
 





















I had an idea to use these cute ice trays from Target and have her put "1" ball in each opening.  She wasn't a big fan.  (See her expression in the picture on the right for proof!)  She did enjoy curling up the ice trays though.  :)
 



















I got the next three games from 1+1+1=1's Valentine's Tot Pack.  This first puzzle was difficult for the princess and she gave up on it pretty quickly.  We haven't worked on shapes that much, and I think it threw her off that there was only one color.
She LOVED this one.  She asks to play it a lot now.  It helps that her favorite animals are included:  fish, dogs, monkeys...the only favorite missing is the horses.  :)

 
And finally, an attempt at numbers.  I wrote the numbers 1-5 on each of these hearts, and I had her match the numbers to each other.  She did it perfectly the first try.  She just seems to have a head for puzzles and matching.  I wonder if she'll be a math lover.
 
*Edit:  The princess just spontaneously said "ABC".  :)  This followed Daddy and me serenading her with a Sesame Street version of the song.  I do love Sesame Street.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Super Bowl Home Party Games (Product Review)

I attended several Super Bowl parties during my high school years.  These were a tradition that my youth pastor began in our church gymnasium.  During commercials, he would provide games and quizzes for all of us to work on.  Since I was not much of a football fan, this was the highlight of the Super Bowl for me. 

I always wondered where he came up with the game ideas.  If I hosted a Super Bowl party of my own, I would want to provide fun games like he did.  It would be a lot of work to come up with those games on my own.  That is why I was excited to learn about Super Bowl Home Party Games.  These games are downloadable and printable from your home computer.  What a great idea for last-minute planners!

I downloaded the Home Party Games Pack and was impressed with the variety and quality.  The trivia and games download in PDF format, and each includes colorful, entertaining clipart.  From football trivia, to fast food trivia, to a "make fun of the guys" quiz, these downloads provide a wide variety of games.  If I were hosting a Super Bowl party this year, I would definitely pull out some of these games.  Not all games are appropriate for all age groups, but there is enough variety that there is something for everyone!  For example, I would not use any of the beer-related games, but I really liked the different trivia games.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party this year and are looking for some entertainment ideas, head over to Super Bowl Home Party Games and take a look at what they have to offer.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Training the Tot

I recently read a Clariity blog post titled Forming Habits in Our Children.  I have read a few posts by this author, and I love the ideas she presents.

As a result of reading this article, we have begun habit training at the Farley Funhouse.  The first habit I have begun to address is listening to Mommy and Daddy.  Specifically, listening and responding whem Mommy or Daddy say "stop".  Our little princess loves the wheelchair ramp at church that leads from the fellowship hall upstairs to the classrooms downstairs.  She loves to wander away when we are in the fellowship hall, and she makes it halfway down the rather long ramp before one of us can catch her.  At a get-together at the church Saturday night, I practiced "Princess, stop" with her.  When she listened, we had a little clapping and hugging party.  When she didn't, we had a "talk" about Princess listening to Mommy.

Sunday we repeated the training.  9 times out of 10, she obeyed by stopping immediately and clapping for herself.  She sees this as a fun game right now, but I am convinced that with repeated practice and training, this will develop into a habit.  I feel this is an important first habit to teach, because it involves safety.  She needs to learn to listen to "Princess, stop" regardless of the circumstances, because she is too young to understand the difference between running away from Mommy at a safe place like church and running away from Mommy at an unknown place like the mall.

I encourage you to read this article and consider what the author has to say.  Forming habits is going to take a lot of work...but I am convinced it will pay off in the long run.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Scrappin'

I finished two more scrapbook pages for the princess' scrapbook.  I really haven't done much since she was born, so I have a lot of work in order to catch up!  My two pages this week were for her first month of life:

I found it difficult to get the paper and photos to stick to this glitter background.  Maybe next time I will have to use something other than paste.

Once again, this picture is a bit blurry.  The writing tells the date of her first bath and the name of her first visitor!

I want to continue my 2 pages a week habit that I have begun.  I ordered more prints online, and I visited Hobby Lobby this week.  I should be set with supplies for awhile!  I am eliminating excuses...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Tot School: Organization

Tot School
Our princess is currently 24 months old.

My goal for this week was to work on numbers with the princess.  Unfortunately, when I went online to search for activities for the number 1, I could not find anything age-appropriate.  Do any of you have suggestions of where to search, or even what you have done with your own little ones?

We counted a lot this week.  She really loves that.  I mentioned last week that I would love for her to be able to say the word "one" by the end of the week, and she really is trying.  She repeats when I count from 1-5, and her numbers are more grunts than words, but there is a distinction between each number.  That's progress!

Here she is, lining all her cars up in 1 line.  :)

I was reading on 1+1+1=1 this week about rotating toys.  This is such a terrific idea.  I know that my princess has her favorite toys that she plays with every day, while other toys sit unnoticed on the shelf for weeks at a time.  I finally broke out my dormant organizational skills and began a toy rotation.  To spare myself some embarrassment, I did not take any "before" photos. 

Basically, I moved almost half of her toys to a closet upstairs.  All of her toys are located in our living room, and this will make cleanup time a lot easier as well.  I plan to rotate each of these areas once a week to give variety.  All of her books are still accessible on a bookshelf, but I selected a few for this week and put them on a different shelf with the covers facing her.  That should make them look more appealing.  We were also having difficulty with her wanting to pull out ALL of her movies before choosing one to watch, so I displayed 5 choices for her to simplify her decision.

Here is her toy shelf :

Her book/stuffed animal shelf:

Her "big toy" corner:

And her movie selection:

I am proud of my work, and I hope she likes this new arrangement!  :)

2011 Walgreens 100 Dollar Challenge: Week 3

I messed up this week.  :(  For some reason, I thought that I had $6.00 in Register Rewards from last week, but I only had $4.00.  My purchase would have been perfect if I had had 6!  Bummer.  My only consolation is that I ended up with more Register Rewards than when I began.


1 Thermacare Heat Wrap
Price:
$2.50
Mfg coupon: $1.00
Store coupon: none
Final price: $1.50
RR earned: $2.50

1 Tom's of Maine ToothpastePrice: $3.99
Mfg coupon: none
Store coupon: none
Final price: $3.99
RR earned: $3.00

1 Butterfinger Heart Candy
Price: $.59
Mfg coupon: none
Store coupon: none
Final price: $.59
RR earned: none

RR Used: (2) $2.00 Kellogg's

Subtotal before coupons: $7.08
Subtotal after coupons: $2.08
Sales Tax: $.39

Savings Percentage: 71%
(Note: Since I have no control over the tax rate in my area, savings percentage are calculated prior to tax.)

RRs in hand: $2.50 Thermacare, $3.00 Tom's of Maine
*****
Yearly Totals

Amount Spent (including tax): $13.10
Amount Remaining: $86.90
(Awaiting $1.99 rebate from Finesse. This will be added into my amount remaining once I receive it.)
Amount Saved: $41.36

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Drops Like Stars (Book Review)

In order to understand others and culture in general, I believe it is important to be well-rounded in what I choose to read.  I had this thought in mind when selecting a book to review, and I chose Rob Bell's Drops Like Stars.  The byline of this book:  A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering.  While I do not agree with Rob Bell's theology, I was intrigued to read what he would have to say in this book.  I was also curious to find out how creativity and suffering were associated.

I received the book and eagerly began reading.  My husband questioned my laughter after five minutes of reading, and I told him "I am already finished with one fourth of this book".  I timed the remainder of my reading and was amazed that the entire book took a total of 27 minutes to read.  Bell's post-modern thinking is evidenced by even the layout and writing of his book.  The book is full of photographs and sentence fragments.  As for content, he did not delve into the topic in a way that was beneficial.

If you are searching for a book that is filled with nice pictures and stories that assure you are not alone in your suffering, perhaps this is the book for you.  It is available in a hardback coffee table edition, which could make an artistic addition to your living room.  However, if you are seeking a book that digs deep into the issues underlying suffering, this book will leave you disappointed.  I will note that Bell does not claim to answer the "why"s associated with suffering.  His claim is to answer the "what now"s.  However, I feel he fails to do even that.

*This book was given to me for review purposes, and I do not have to return the book to the publisher. All opinions expressed in this post are mine.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Scrappin' - 20 Week Ultrasound


This has been creativity week here at the Farley Funhouse.  I experimented with my Cricut earlier this week and made 2 Thank You cards (with matching envelopes).  Then the princess was escaping from her wearable blanket at naptime, so I redid the neckline on that.  Since my sewing machine was already out, I also completed 2 other wearable blankets that were almost finished.  I made a pine wood derby car for The AWANA Grand Prix at church today.  And in the midst of all this creativity, I accomplished my scrapbooking goal for this week!  I began Baby 2's scrapbook by completing 2 20-week ultrasound pages.  The pictures are a little blurry, but I think you'll get the idea.


I wish the writing in the bottom heart showed up better.  A friend reminded me of these verses, and I agree with her - they are the perfect words to reflect on when viewing ultrasound pictures:

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)

I do not have a goal for next week yet.  I do want to accomplish another scrapbook page, but I do not have printed pictures yet!  I think my goal will be to go through my pictures and order prints of the ones that I deem worthy of being put into a scrapbook.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tot School

Tot School
Our princess is currently 24 months old.
We had a relaxing week of Tot School.  This was Birthday Week!  Our little princess turned 2 on Monday.  We did not have a party or anything, but we took her out to Wendy's for dinner, I made her some cupcakes, and she got to open presents before she went to bed. 

I am not a cake decorator by any means.  She loved these cupcakes though.  She refers to them as "E" (which is what she calls every letter) and asks for one on a daily basis.  Really, she just likes the frosting.  I don't think she has even tried the cake part.  That's my girl!  :)

 Opening gifts with Daddy and Mommy

We did do a little bit of color sorting this week.
 











She was very into counting things this week as well.  She does not enunciate numbers well at all.  In fact, she just grunts.  But she gets the point across that she wants to count, and she wants you to count with her!  This week we counted her baby dolls repeatedly as she transferred them back and forth from her Cozy Coupe to Mommy's lap.


Since she is showing interest in counting, I am going to begin teaching her numbers.  Next week we'll focus on the number 1 and see how it goes.  I would LOVE for her to actually say the word "one" by the end of next week!

Here's a little closing shot for you.  Daddy let her take a ball in her crib for a nap one time, and she refuses to sleep without it now.  Here's my tired girl, all ready for bed.


Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Walgreens 100 Dollar Challenge: Week 2

As I prepared for my trip to Walgreens this week, I redid my list about 5 times.  I know they would end up being "free" after Register Rewards, but did I really need to purchase Pill Glide and Gummy Vitamins that my family would not use?  Was the Acai Berry supplement really a wise investment while I am pregnant and trying  to be cautious about what I am putting into my body?  After much consideration, for this year-long challenge I have resolved to purchase only items that my family (or others I know of prior to going to the store) will use.  That resolution seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes the lust of "how much can I get for my money" gets the best of me. 

I believe this is the least I have ever spent out of pocket at Walgreens.  I was so excited.  Even more exciting to me was the fact that all of my purchases were food items, which meant NO SALES TAX!  I have never experienced that at Walgreens either.  I did two transactions in order to maximize my RRs, and the first transaction actually totaled 0.  That is another thing that has never happened to me before.  Can you sense my excitement?!  Here is this week's run-down:


4 Kellogg’s Special K (purchased in 2 transactions to print 2 RRs)
Price: $2.50 each
Mfg coupon: (2) B1G1 free
Store coupon: none
Final price: $5.00
RR earned: (2) $2.00

1 Quaker Oats
Price: $3.19
Mfg coupon: $1.00
Store coupon: $1.69
Final price: $.50
RR earned: none

2 Russell Stover Hearts Candies
Price: $.50 each
Mfg coupon: none
Store coupon: $.22
Final price: $.78
RR earned: none

RR Used: $3.00 Nivea, (2) $1.50 Jet Dry

Subtotal before coupons: $14.19
Subtotal after coupons: $.28
Sales Tax: 0
Savings Percentage: 98%
(Note: Since I have no control over the tax rate in my area, savings percentage are calculated prior to tax.)


RRs in hand: (2) $2.00 Kellogg’s

*****

Yearly Totals

Amount Spent (including tax): $11.02
Amount Remaining: $88.98
(Awaiting $1.99 rebate from Finesse. This will be added into my amount remaining once I receive it.)
Amount Saved: $34.87

TShirtPrinting.net (Product Review)

As a former high school volleyball and basketball player, I am familiar with ordering personalized t-shirts.  We did this yearly to show support for our team, and of course, to look cool!  We were usually satisfied with the prices of our shirts, but there were times when they did not fit exactly as we had anticipated, or the printing did not look as good as we had hoped.

I received a sample t-shirt from TShirtPrinting.net, a company that specializes in special-order t-shirts.  When it arrived, I noted the material makeup:  90% cotton.  The instructions on the tag stated to turn garment inside out to wash.  I did this, having learned from prior experience that this is an important instruction to heed!  After two washing and drying cycles, I am pleased that the shirt fits true-to-size, and the screenprint looks intact and adheres as well as the day it arrived in the mail!

I gave the t-shirt to my husband, who claimed that it felt great and the fit was appropriate for the size on the tag.  His only negative comment was that the print seemed to be a bit off center.

My husband notices things I often overlook.  Once he mentioned that, I got out my measuring tape and was surprised and disappointed to note that the screenprint was 3/4 inch off center! 

I would have been very upset if this had been a t-shirt I had ordered.  I sent a message to the company stating, "this is not a t-shirt I would be pleased with if I had placed an order, and if this is a true representation of your product, I cannot recommend your company to others".  Unfortunately, the reply offered no assurance:  "I am sorry that you are not satisfied with the T-shirt we sent to you. I apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused." 

I browsed the TShirtPrinting.net website, and I was disappointed to note that there are no price quotes, color swatches, or areas to design your shirt online.  The website simply encourages customers to contact the company's phone number.  I also searched for a return policy, hoping there would be some assurance for those who are unsatisfied with their orders.  I could not find one.

While I was satisfied with the quality of the actual t-shirt and the printing, I was not satisfied with the printing placement or the company website.  If I were placing an order for t-shirts today, I am sad to say that I would continue to search for a different company.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Product Review: Applied Labels LLC


I was excited to do a review of Applied Labels LLC.  As a mother of a 2 year-old, I am becoming increasingly aware of the need to label my daughter's belongings.  More specifically, I currently have the (somewhat compulsive) need to label her ever-present sippy cups.  Her cups are constantly being picked up by other toddlers, and I cannot expect a nursery worker who sees my daughter once a month to remember which sippy cup is hers.  Labels eliminate the questions.

I browsed the Applied Labels LLC website and chose their "Cutie" font from the three font choices available.  I also chose to have a cute puppy icon printed on my labels, since my daughter is in love with dogs.  My labels arrived a few days later, and I was not disappointed. 

The labels are available in black print on white stickers, giving a classic look.  Instructions were included in the package, along with a URL for a how-to video if needed.  My kit contained 60 name labels, 30 blank clothing backers, and 12 clear shoe label covers.
I labeled my daughter's sippy cups, some clothing, and a pair of shoes.  The labels were simple to apply.  I was disappointed that I could not align the front and pack of the clothing labels perfectly, but a pair of scissors took care of the tiny overlap!  I was also disappointed that I could not use the labels on tagless clothing.  However, I have not been able to find a tag yet that can be used to label such clothing.










One of the things I liked most about this product was the fact that I could use the labels in any way I chose.  If I wanted to label her sippy cup, I used the same label I would use for her clothing (minus the backer).  I was also impressed that the labels met the expectations set by the manufacturer:  "ultra-tough and dishwasher safe"; "laundry-safe on tags".  After putting the sippy cups through the dishwasher and allowing my daughter to tote them around for a few weeks, the labels remain securely in place.  Her clothing tags went through the washer and dryer several times without issue, and her shoe tags have not shifted position at all.  I am very pleased with this product!

Have you been searching for a durable label for your child's belongings, or even your own?  I would suggest you take a look at the Applied Labels LLC website to see what they have to offer.  Applied Labels can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

2 Years

Two years ago today, my life changed in a big way.  My precious little girl entered the world at 1:09pm, California time.  My physical exhaustion was forgotten as the doctor held up my baby.  I cried when I saw her and whispered, "ohhhhh, I wanted a girl".  I looked at this beautiful little bundle that they placed in my arms, and she quickly made her way into my heart.
She has changed so much even in the past year.  Gone are the days when she could barely toddle around the house and had to point and cry all the time to get her point across. 
My baby has turned into a toddler.  She is two years old now, and I am so proud of her.  I love her sweet smile, her loving spirit, and her gentle ways.  She loves to be a little momma and take care of things.  She swaddles and sways with her baby dolls, gives her toy trucks crackers to eat, and makes sure Mommy and Daddy always have water to drink.  She likes to help catch bugs in the house, clean up scraps from the floor, and walk trash to the trash can to throw it away.  She is learning new things each day, and she continually amazes me.  She is my precious little girl, and I am so happy to have her in my life.
Thank you Lord, for these past 2 years with our princess.  Thank You for entrusting her to us as parents.  Help us to honor You in how we raise her. 

Happy Birthday, little Princess!  I love you!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Scrappin'

I have two completed scrapbook pages to share this week.  I ended up getting a bit of Christmas money, and I used that to invest in a Cricut!  My Cricut arrived Friday morning, and I began playing with it that night.  After some frustration and almost throwing the thing across the room, I am beginning to get the hang of it...and I am in love with it.  :)
 
For my first Cricut project, I decided to redo two scrapbook pages I had done a year and a half ago for my husband, of him and our daughter.  I have always hated how these pages turned out.  I don't know if I was pressed for time when I made them or what, but I think the writing is hideous.  Here is a before shot:.
 

And...Ta-da!  The magic of a Cricut:

My to-do project for this week is an ultasound page.  I want to start on Baby 2's scrapbook...to make sure something actually gets done on it!  :)  Hopefully I will have something cute to post for you next Sunday!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tot School

Tot School
Our princess is currently 23 months old.

We continued learning colors this week.  I have become lazy in regards to Tot School lately, so I decided to spend my Saturday evenings doing Tot School preparations.  This week, we continued to work on colors.  She is really getting this down.  She still does not verbalize color names, but she matches correctly, sorts appropriately, and brings me the proper color when asked.

I downloaded this activity from Home Grown Hearts.  The idea is to match the clothing by color, and if you look closely, you can see there are different shades of each color as well.  The princess loved this activity, and it was rather easy for her.  I personally had a difficult time telling the difference between the red and orange shirts, but she got them right every time!
 


I downloaded this Paint Brush Color Matching game (our first file folder game!) from COAH.  I love it, and I think it's a great idea.  The princess...not so much.  She just likes to take the paintbrushes out and play with them.  She also enjoys watching me do the game, but her attention span is short for this one.
 

















We also continued to play with her new Melissa and Doug toys.  Here she is, showing me "yellow".  :)

 

















And finally, I love this picture.  This little girl has not taken a nap since last Sunday.  This is the third time we have hit a nap-fighting phase, and I pray this is only a phase.  I am not ready to give up nap time!  This is how I found her yesterday, after an hour of "napping" in her crib.  :)  (The pink at her feet is a wearable blanket she managed to unzip and remove.)