August 24, 2015

AG is 3!

Dear AG,
Today you are three years old. How is my squishy little baby already three?
(That's your first photo!) The last three years have been the best of my life and they have flown by. You're looking more and more like your handsome daddy every day. Thankfully, you have my dark hair and people always say you look like me, until they see him. And can we just talk about your hair for a minute. It's all the way down your back. 
We've never cut it and honestly, I'm not sure when you'll have your first haircut. I'm in no hurry and you love it long too. You sit so sweet and still when I fix it, you've learned how to close your eyes and tip your head back when we shower so I can wash and condition it for you, and you are usually very tolerant of having it brushed. This is never a chore for me. I love the time we get to spend together being girly and doing hair. You love to do mine too. Even if you are mostly just knotting and pulling it, I love it too. About once a week, on the weekend or an evening, I let you pick out whatever you want me to wear and I wear it. You call this dressing me up like a doll and think it's great fun. So do I!
You are a girly girl who loves to wear dresses, tutus, and sparkles. "Twirliness" is an actual criteria we use for choosing your outfits every day. Most outfits require a tiara and wand to be complete. We let you dress yourself - with some guidelines: shoulders covered at school, skirts and dresses are worn with shorts or pants under, and socks and closed toe shoes are required for school. I love seeing your style and the things you pick. 
We just converted your crib to a toddler bed and you always want to get in by yourself now. Miss independent. Our bedtime routine has now changed from:
1- brush teeth and use potty
2- jammies on
3- read two books plus goodnight book
4- lights out then hold you and walk/bounce around your room singing twinkle twinkle and abc's
5- lay you in bed, tuck you in, and sing a couple more 
To now:
1- brush teeth and use potty
2- jammies on
3- read two books plus goodnight book
4- climb into bed, tuck you in, say goodnight with lots of kisses and snuggles, then say "goodnight, sweet dreams" as we leave your room. 
We've recently learned that "safety in numbers" applies to bedtime too. You see, your daddy and I were taking turns doing the bedtime routine. One night we both stayed and did it together and you went to sleep so easy that we decided to do bedtime all together every night. And I have to say, it's the best thing that's happened to bedtime. You seem to have such a sense of peace and contentment when we are both with you that it relaxes you. This was your daddy's realization. He's awesome like that. 
You have such a kind spirit and you love to have fun. Swimming is one of your favorite things. As soon as we snap your puddle jumper floaty on, you take off and jump in the pool. You wear a swim cap most of the time so we don't have to wash your hair as often, plus it helps hold your ear plugs in. We use them anytime you might put your head under water to protect you from more ear infections. They are no fun. Thankfully, this past year you only had one, though technically two because it was a double. For year 4, I'm praying for zero! 
This past year has been full of big changes for you. Shortly after your second birthday, we stopped nursing. It was so much easier than I anticipated. Next up, you started a new preschool. This was hard for about a week but then you loved it and now I would have it no other way. I'm so glad we made that change. You love your school and get so excited to go see your friends.  Then in November, we said goodbye to the cramper and moved home. It was a quick change and the house was a work in progress of epic proportions but it was liveable and we were glad to be home. Even if we had a Spider-Man bedsheet for a bedroom door. We were home. 
This past year you've discovered a love for dancing, superheroes, and princesses and your absolute phobia of bugs. Not just bugs. Anything that flies, crawls, or slithers has no place in your world. You come by it honestly. I'm the same way but I've always made a serious effort to not freak out about bugs in front of you. You just can't fight genetics. You had nightmares for a while where you would wake up screaming about a butterfly. You're terrified of butterflies. It's our fault really. We let you watch America's Funniest Home Videos with us and there was a lady who was literally attacked by a (harmless) butterfly. We laughed and talked about how silly it was that the butterfly wanted to be by this lady and she was so scared. Then you went to bed. A few hours later you woke up screaming about a butterfly being on you. Poor baby. It was so sad. And of course we felt awful. But really, all the superhero cartoons, and the butterfly is what scared you? Thankfully we got past that and you've been sleeping soundly for months now. But sweet baby, you're still so scared of butterflies. I bet by the time you read this you will laugh and realize how sweet and fragile they are. At least I hope so. 
We had such a great day celebrating you today. We had breakfast at Waffle House with daddy, then some fun at the bounce house with Mimi, lunch with daddy and Mimi and Popi, then no nap and straight to the aviation museum with daddy, and lastly we had an awesome sushi dinner. 
You had a ball at every stop but in the car on the way home when I asked you what the best part of the day was you sleepily said "going home". Yes ma'am. I agree. It was such a fun day but going home is always the best! When we got home your daddy and I sang you happy birthday and you got two gummy worms. Don't worry, there will be lots of cake at your actual party on Saturday. Then we let you open a present early and you got way more excited about clothes than I've ever seen a three year old get. You got a super girl tutu swimsuit, a super girl shirt, and "wumber woman" jammies with a tutu skirt. You stripped off your clothes right there standing on the kitchen counter to put on your new jammies. It was awesome. Then we snuggled on the couch and watched a Wonder Woman cartoon all together to celebrate your special day. When we did the bedtime routine we read an extra book too because every part of your birthday should be special. 
Mommy and daddy love you more than you could ever know. I'm looking forward to this next year and all of the fun and new adventures that God has in store for our family. Only He knows the plans He has for us. And His plans in His timing are always perfect. 
I love you baby girl!
Mommy ("super mommy" - your words!)

August 20, 2015

Friday Favorites :: Essential Oils

If you've made it here then you have probably heard of essential oils, or "snake oils" as my husband so lovingly called them about a year ago. If you know me, then you know I get really really excited about things and tend to latch on and then eventually get bored with them and move on to the next exciting new thing. This is why I waited a year to make my blog pretty or register a domain name. I needed to prove to myself that I would actually keep this up. Turns out, I kind of love it.
I started using essential oils in March of 2014. I loved them right off the bat. Hubby, however, needed some time to come around. He eventually realized how beneficial they are and now he goes through three bottles of peppermint per month. No kidding. He even reaches for the lavender before ointment. I call that a win.
I love science and I realize I might be in the minority with that statement but stay with me here. Let's talk about some basics.

What are essential oils?
An essential oil is often called the "lifeblood" of a plant. It is the volatile liquid that is within most plants - shrubs, flowers, trees, bushes, roots, and even seeds. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and WAY more potent (i.e. stronger) than their cousins, the dried herbs. For example, let's look at our most used oil - peppermint. One single drop of peppermint oil is equal to 26-28 CUPS of peppermint tea.
Essential oils are far from simple. Each one is comprised of hundreds of different chemical constituents (parts, basically). These constituents are what give the oils their therapeutic benefits. But, listen friends, I'm not going to get into the biochemistry today. I happen to have a degree in Biomedical Science and I find these details fascinating. But, I'll spare you. Feel free to consult the google if you would like more of the science right now.

Why use essential oils?
The therapeutic potential of essential oils is just beginning to be discovered by researchers. These little gems seem very much like a new fad but the truth is they date back to biblical times. There are entire books devoted to essential oils of the Bible. They are not new. I can tell you they have literally been life changing for our family. For some reason I'm always skeptical when we try an oil but 9/10 times they work for whatever *issue* we are trying them for. Seriously, if you're dealing with XYZ, there's an oil for that! We use oils as our first line of defense to boost our immunity and help our body heal itself. We still see the doctor if needed, lest you think we've gone to the extreme.

Why Young Living?
I mentioned my Biomedical Science background. I'm very analytical and quite honestly, research soothes me. Yes, I am super cool, thank you for noticing. I need to know that I've made the best (healthiest) decision when something is going to be used by my family, in or on our bodies. Before I started researching how oils are produced, I started learning about companies. I knew I wanted to stay away from any multi-level marketing company. I've done the MLM thing before and while I loved the product, I hated the pressure. I wanted nothing to do with sales quotas ever again thankyouverymuch. I'm just not cut out to be a sales person. I do love to share about products I've found that I think are great but I do not like being forced to sell them to continue to get my distributor discount. Not knowing anything about Young Living, I ruled them out simply because of the MLM company structure. I set my sights on a cheap brand I found on Amazon and even ordered a bottle to try. I was not impressed. Shocking, I know. But as time went on I kept seeing Young Living on blogs I followed and on my very trusted friends' Facebook pages. Eventually I agreed to attend a class hosted by one of those very trusted friends. There was no sales pressure, just information about the basics of essential oils. When asked why they use Young Living, I found out that they would rather have items be listed as out of stock than sell a sub-par product. That really stood out to me because most companies would rather do whatever they can to ensure they never run out but not Young Living. They care more about quality control. The biggie for me was their Seed to Seal Guarantee. You can read all about it here. And what really sealed the deal for me, NO sales obligations. Seriously. None. 

Retail vs. Wholesale
I opted to become a wholesale member for a number of reasons. I'll share my top three.
1 - 24% discount off retail cost.
2 - The Premium Starter Kit is fabulous and an awesome value. 
3 - There are NO sales requirements!
*To remain active with your wholesale membership they do require a minimum ANNUAL purchase of 50pv. But in all reality, if you aren't already doing that, then you probably aren't using your oils. In which case, feel free to send them to me.

How to get started

1 - Click here to go to the sign up page to create your Young Living account. I started with the Premium Starter Kit and I highly suggest you do too. I have had several friends buy the cheaper kit and then end up buying the premium one later the same month. Here's why...
The Premium Starter Kit Includes:
  • Diffuser (You've got to have this!)
  • Premium Essential Oils Collection;
    • Lavender 5-ml
    • Peppermint Vitality™ 5-ml
    • Lemon Vitality™ 5-ml
    • Copaiba Vitality™ 5-ml
    • Frankincense 5-ml
    • Thieves® Vitality™ 5-ml
    • Purification® 5-ml
    • R.C.™ 5-ml
    • DiGize™ Vitality™ 5-ml
    • PanAway® 5-ml
  • Stress Away™ 5-ml
  • AromaGlide™ Roller Fitment
  • 10 Sample Packets
  • 10 Love It? Share It! Sample Business Cards
  • 10 Love It? Share It! Sample Oil Bottles
  • 2 NingXia Red® 2-oz. samples
  • Product Guide and Product Price List
  • Essential Oil Magazine
  • Essential Edge
2 - You can sign up as wholesale or retail. I highly recommend wholesale because of the savings and access to the starter kits. You are welcome to sign up as a retail customer, just remember you'll be paying 24% more than wholesale and will not have access to the fabulous kits.

3 - Make sure my member ID (1665703) is showing in both the Sponsor ID and Enroller ID spots.

4 - Fill out all of the required information. For the tax section, know that your information is safe and secured and is only required because once you use your oils, you'll inevitably love them and want to tell someone about them. When you do and they also join using your ID number, you become eligible for commission. If you make more than $600 in a year there are tax implications and thus they need your SSN for this purpose. If you are uncomfortably with this but still want to join, you can get an EIN number very quickly and use that. 

5 - Select your kit of choice. Seriously, the Premium is where it's at. I have had the home diffuser (pre-flood) and currently have the bamboo. I want the dewdrop next! 
*update: I now have the Dewdrop and I love it! It's my favorite!!

6 - You can skip the Essential Rewards for now. 

7 - That's it! Complete the payment and get excited for your oils to show up! 

I will add you to our secret Facebook group and send you some info via email to help you learn the basics for using your oils once you sign up. I love my oily friends!

If you already use essential oils, I'd love to know you're favorites and what you use most often! Leave me a note in the comments :)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

August 19, 2015

Frozen Birthday Party Planning

Hello Hello! I have been having so much fun planning AG's third birthday party! It's only a couple weeks away now so I'm starting to get things ready. For her first birthday we did a pool party at my in-laws' house ON her birthday because it was on a Saturday and it was about 137 degrees outside at the end of August in Florida so a pool party was really the only option. Last year we were living in the cramper and her birthday fell on a Sunday. That particular year happened to also be a milestone anniversary for my in-laws (their anniversary is the day after her birthday) and they had rented a beach house that the whole family stayed at for the weekend. Insta-party! We invited a few friends and I baked a cake. It was a good (and super easy) time. This year I was thrilled when AG declared she wants to have a deck party at home with her friend "Sopia's" water slide and hot dogs and waffles. Our flood renovations have made our home perfect for parties and I am so excited to host her birthday here. I have tons of Pinterest inspired plans which you'll see unfolding over the next few weeks. Like most young kids, she loves Frozen so I'm running with that theme. Tonight I made the banner for her cake topper. I decided before I ever had her that I wanted to make my kids's birthday cakes every year. You won't see fancy decorated cakes here but I can promise they will be delicious and hopefully somewhat cute. 
I'm planning to use some jute twine and cute purple striped straws to suspend this above her chocolate cake (my Mimi's recipe.) Hubby isn't convinced that this is a good idea but party planning isn't his job. He can stick with building things and taking care of the great outdoors and I will stick with cooking and cleaning in the air conditioning and playing cruise director/party planner thankyouverymuch. 
I also got some labels made tonight for the party food. It never occurred to me that other people might want to use these types of things that I make until today so I'll start sharing these with you as I make them. If people are interested, I'll also create a tutorial so you can learn to make your own too. I don't have a Silhouette or Cricut and I don't know if I'll ever have one. I just use Microsoft Word and the free version of PicMonkey online. I'm really not that techie, as I proved at work today with my lack of knowledge of the selfie stick. My plan is to print these on cardstock and use rolled up tape to stick them on the serving dishes. It doesn't get much easier than that. I'm uploading this photo but I have it saved as a PDF that I'm going to print from. I'll figure out how to share printables this week and share the blank labels in case anyone wants to download them for their own use.
How cute are those?! I am really happy with them and I love the names of the foods. Frozen hearts are white chocolate covered strawberries, Sven's antlers are mini pretzels, ice blocks are blue jello with whipped cream, melted ice is water (you're welcome for that free science lesson, the Biomedical Science degree is really paying off now), Olaf's noses are carrots with dip, and Elsa's cupcakes are going to be purple velvet cupcakes and I'll draw a little snowflake on top of them. I feel like a serious overachiever with this party but it really is so fun to plan and I know AG is going to LOVE it! Seeing her get all excited is totally worth any amount of effort this may take. Although I witnessed her give the same reaction that I'm expecting for the party when hubby simply gave her a Minnie Mouse balloon the other day. I guess she still wants a balloon for her birthday.
We went to her first big kid birthday party for a friend over the weekend. It was AG's first water park experience and she was in hog heaven. I'm not gonna lie, I was too. I love a water park. We splashed and played on slides. I even got to do the grownup slides which was so fun even though it made me realize how incredibly out of shape I really am. The stairs were a serious workout. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I was sore the next day. You'd think going to the gym would prevent that. Apparently I need to go more than once per week. Go figure. 

August 17, 2015

Happy Toddler Bed Day

Happy Monday! What do you think of my new blog design and title? I have to admit, I agonized over the title and after surveying my friends, Coffee Before Crayons was born. I'm really happy with the redesign. When you click around you'll notice there are some links that don't go anywhere. This is because I've got content in the works for these pages but it's a work in progress. Another key reason for the links to nowhere is that I'm new to writing HTML code and honestly a little scared that if I delete the links I might not be able to get them back. So please hang in there with me and I'll let you know when they are active. 
This was a wonderful weekend. I'm really excited about the future of my site and this new design is a good start!

Let's talk about real life. Yesterday, our nephew was baptized and we got to be there for the service. I'm so proud of him! AG loved being a part of big church too. When it was his turn she stood up in the chair and said "There's Griffin!" She didn't really understand what was happening but she was excited nonetheless. 
Last night we had a milestone at home. As an early birthday present for AG, I converted her crib to a toddler bed! She was so excited and she wanted to arrange everything just so. 
While wearing a ballet leotard of course. I think I have to say this was a success and great idea because at 7:20am she is still sleeping. She never once tried to climb out of her crib. Not once. I intended to leave her in it until she did try to climb out but she's been telling us she is dreaming of having a big girl bed and I guess I'm a softie. 
I'll share more about our strategy to get her to stay in her bed soon. Night number one was a success!
She just woke up at 7:27 and said "Mommy, I'm awake!" and now she's getting herself dressed. I feel like I just blinked and my baby grew into a self sufficient big girl overnight. So many feelings. I'm cherishing these days. They fly by!

August 12, 2015

It's 54:5 Somewhere

Is it just us or are the Summer weekends so short? We are so busy in August and September and it seems like our weekends fly by because they are jam packed with fun activities. This past weekend AG and I went to visit my parents and join the family for a wedding shower honoring my cousin and his bride-to-be. He couldn't have picked a better girl. She's beautiful, smart, and so fun to be around! We really love her and can't wait to have her join the family. AG is going to be their flower girl and she is downright giddy about the whole thing. She's going to be wearing the same dress her big cousin wore as our flower girl 7 years ago. It's so special to us and we are so glad the happy couple liked this idea. 
We also got to spend time with my daddy who just had shoulder surgery. He's recovering nicely but it's really very painful. He's a trooper. AG made him some get well cards last week and we sent those in the mail along with her birthday party invitation. She dictated what I was to write on them and my favorite thing she had me write is "don't be bad". Grandpa promises that he will not be bad. 
AG has a new obsession with time. When you ask her what time something is occurring or for a length of time she always replies with a matter-of-fact tone, "um probably about fifty four five." I know this is a fleeting stage so I'm loving it while it lasts and I need to capture it on video. 
Summer really is such a fun time of year. It's miserably hot down here in the south some (most) days but the nights are usually nice and there's always fun to be had. We are even having a pool party cookout tonight. On a weeknight. I'm living on the edge my friends. Now put down the phone/tablet/computer and go do something fun to celebrate summer. It'll be over before we know it!

August 7, 2015

Friday Favorites :: Hard Floor Vacuum

This morning on the way to school hubby was telling AG about the yellow caution lights that come between green and red.
AG: I don't like caution.
Hubs: Why don't you like caution?
AG (in an exasperated tone): Daddy. I don't know about everything!
At least she realized for a brief moment that she doesn't know everything. I just wish I had that recorded to play back for her when she gets all sassy because she does in fact know all the things that there are to know. 

Tonight we had a bit of a milestone. AG helped me vacuum and was actually helpful. Granted she got bored with it and ditched me to play outside with hubby but she did a fine job for the time she was inside helping. Which brings me to my Friday Favorites item. This fantastic little hard floor vacuum. 

I was wavering on what I should feature tonight and it never crossed my mind that I should feature this but as soon as AG started vacuuming this evening, I began declaring my love of this thing again because it's lightweight enough for an almost 3 year old to use it. And thus a blog post was born. 
When we selected this flooring, I began a search for the perfect pet hair and general mess cleaner upper. I believe I've mentioned before that we live with this guy,

He's roughly 70lbs of love and fur. He is a  great inside dog but he sheds. Bad. So before we moved back home I did lots of research and needed up with this very affordable vacuum that I never expected to like. Much less love so much I want to tell people about it. Well kudos to the folks at Bissel. I love that I can pull this little guy out and vacuum all of the downstairs in 30 minutes (more if I have "help".) It's lightweight so it's easily maneuverable. It's got this funny "v" shape to it but it works great at getting all of the dog hair and crumbs that wind up on our floors. On the bottom, there's no brush. There are little squeegee type pieces that force the debris into the middle where it all gets sucked up. It does a good enough job on very thin, almost flat/no pile type rugs. Anything softer or thicker you'll need a vacuum meant for carpet. I pull out the big one to do the rug then I switch to this one. I've found that if I use the big one for all of the downstairs then it leaves me with a back ache. So it's totally worth it for me to have two vacuums and use both. If you have hard floors, with or without pets, and don't want to pay for a fancy Dyson, you absolutely should have this. I keep an extension cord on mine and I only have to move the plug to a different outlet one time to cover the whole downstairs. As I think I have mentioned it's fantastic. 
Well now I feel extremely old having just written a post about my love for a vacuum cleaner. Check back next week for my ode to denture cream and epsom salt! Ok, I do actually love epsom salt. But that's only because it's very useful for so many things and I LOVE to take a bath with lavender and Peace & Calming oils mixed in it to make my own super relaxing bath salts. I'm getting sleepy just thinking about it. Goodnight all. 

*This post contains affiliate links. Amazon will send me some pennies a commission for any purchase you make after clicking one of my links. There is no difference in price for you. I only link to things I actually use myself and love. Thank you for your support!

August 4, 2015

Low Maintenance Couponing

I'm at it again. I tend to go through phases where I latch onto something and get really into it, and then I get bored with it and find something new to consume my nonexistent free time. I have done this with couponing time and time again. I can think of at least three distinct times when I've been super into it. We would have a very well stocked pantry and a supply space full that was like a mini grocery store and our grocery budget would be amazing. I was couponing before couponing was cool. Back before anyone really understood it and before there was such a thing as "extreme couponing". I've always gotten a thrill from saving money. I kick myself now for not starting a couponing blog back when I first got started, now they are a dime a dozen. So while this is not a blog devoted to couponing and matching sales with q's (as the really cool kids call coupons), I will periodically share my strategies and maybe even deals that I think are so awesome I can't keep them to myself. 
You see, I love a good deal. Frugal is a nice word for this. I get so pumped up by saving money that I almost always have to call someone to share my excitement after scoring a sweet price on something. And putting that in print makes me feel so lame I just want to hit delete, but I think it's an important piece of who I am so there it is. Out there for the world to read. Just don't call me "cheap", that's not nice. I am happy to spend more for a better product. I just need to feel that I'm getting the best deal possible. I do my research and I know what people typically pay for comparable items and I strive to pay a little (or a lot) less. 
Couponing is so perfect for me. I get to over analyze numbers and tweak my list to my heart’s content and then I end up with a well-stocked pantry for my family and our expenses go down. That's a win all around. 
Before you take the time to learn how I coupon you should know a couple basics. I shop at Publix in Florida. If you are in a different state or at a different store things could be different for you. For example, we don’t have double coupons or penny items and we must buy both items for a BOGO (buy one get one free) deal. You can use one coupon for each item which means for BOGOs you can use 2 coupons (because you are buying 2 items). There are different types of coupons, manufacturers and store. You can use one of each on a single item, meaning you can combine them to extra savings. Each store has its own coupon policy. My Publix accepts Target as a competitor and will honor their store qs as their own. This means I can use one manufacturer q and one store q (be it Pubix, or Target, or WinnDixie) on any given item. Confused yet? It took a lot of practice for me to get this down. I’m not even going to go into the other cash back (Ibotta, Checkout51) type apps; I don’t fully understand that yet. When I do, I will share. Let’s get down to business. Here is how I do my couponing. I’ve tried to make it as low stress as possible. I devote about 3 hours per week to this process.

To make my list I go to I Heart Publix on Monday night. The timing of each step is important so pay attention. I make my list based on product usage, price, and coupon availability. There's not much that's more frustrating to me than making the perfect list only to realize I can't get my hands on the coupons to make it work. And don't even get me started on the stores running out of the products and messing the whole thing up. Make sure you put everything you need on your list. You’ll need to manually add items that aren’t on the weekly ad.
When it comes to procuring coupons, I've done this several ways. I've bought papers (messy with newspapers to be organize or thrown out and pricey for not all the coupons I need and ones I may or may not use that I then have to organize), I've paid to order just the coupon inserts from a bigger city with better coupons (overpriced and still messy to organize), and I've finally settled on what I think is the perfect method. Enter the coupon clipping service. You see, you can't sell coupons. That's illegal. But you can charge a fee to clip and send coupons for someone. Whoever thought of this is a genius! I personally have used several sites. I almost don't want to share the sites with you. Like a child who clings to a favorite toy. Sigh. Ok. Here are my top two: Klip 2 Save and Coupon DeDe (by the way, I'm not sponsored or paid to tell you about any of this. I'm just being nice and sharing my favorite toy.) They both have their pros and cons. Some weeks I order from both, others just one. This week I ordered just from Coupon DeDe because they had everything I wanted in stock. A perk to making your list on Monday when the weekly ad is released is that the other couponers haven't ordered all of the best q's yet.
When I have my coupons ordered I begin the process of printing my IPs (internet printables.) (This couponing thing has its own language. I'm trying to mix it in slowly. Let me know in the comments if I confuse you!) This is the most frustrating part of the process. It seems like I will inevitably have computer issues or the link will not work or I’ll have to sign up for something or a million other things could go wrong. Go into it expecting issues. Trust me, you'll be a much happier couponer if you expect issues and rejoice if there aren't any. I don't say that to discourage you. Quite the opposite, I want to encourage you that you're not alone if you have problems with IPs. Every once in a while I have a wonderful week where everything printed just right. But those were rare. Just keep in mind the value of the coupon and consider how much time and energy it's really worth. Some are worth fighting for; I'm not wasting time to save 25 cents. Last quick tip on IPs, print in draft mode. That will save you tons in ink over the long term. They may not scan well but the cashiers should handle that with kindness and just key them in.
After I have all of my coupons gathered, I like revisit my list and update it to reflect the coupons I’m actually taking to the store so that I will know what my total should be before I even get there. Oh, I’m sorry, is my OCD showing? 
Now for the fun part. Go shopping! Remember, a list is only as good as your willpower. Stick to the list. 
I feel compelled to tell you that as I sit here on Tuesday night typing this, not one but BOTH of my printers are out of ink. Sigh. The coupons I ordered will be here tomorrow (I hope) so I will have to buy ink on the way home so I can get these others printed and head to my beloved “Plubix” (as AG calls it) on Thursday after work.
Every couponer has their own system that works for them. I don’t believe there’s any “right” way. I do believe that this is the right way for me right now. If my way doesn’t work for you then the best advice I can give you is to learn the basics and tweak it until you find what works for you at your current stage of life. 
Do you coupon? What have you found that works for you? Did I leave out any important tips that you think could help someone else? I would love to see your thoughts in the comments! Let’s be money saving friends!

August 3, 2015

Life is better at the lake

We had a great relaxing weekend celebrating our youngest niece's birthday at the lake. I think I'm even a little less translucent after all of the fun in the sun. I applied my sunless tanner Saturday morning before we left home and I figured this would be good because it's about a 4 hour drive after you factor in stopping for food and all the potty breaks my people require. Once we got to the lake house, AG and I put on our swimsuits and headed down to the water. At this point it had been a solid 5 hours since I had applied the sunless tanner. Apparently my body requires much longer for it to soak in because it washed right off!! I suppose I should look at the bright side and focus on the fact that at least it washed ALL off and didn't turn me splotchy. Although the water on me when I got out was a gross brown color from the tanning spray. Thankfully it washed right off. Yes, it could've been much worse. But alas, I was a ghostly pale color for the weekend. Lesson learned. I will apply 24 hours prior to water exposure from now on. If this is my biggest problem I think I've got it pretty good.
At one point when we were swimming on Sunday morning AG climbs onto my float and says, "We're exercising mommy! Look, I'm doing squats" and proceeds to wiggle her legs around in the air. I almost fell off my float from laughing so hard. I'm so proud that she's learning about exercising and healthy lifestyle habits from me. I'm not great at doing it every day but her excitement and encouragement is super helpful. One day on the way to school last week she said, "Mommy, let's exercise today. We should do squats! But I don't want to do lunges." Me either baby. Me either. 
Now that it's August it's time to start thinking about my baby's birthday. We are going to do a low key party. Just family and her little besties. She's requested a deck party with a water slide, hot dogs, and waffles. So we are going to do just that. I haven't figured out how we will serve waffles just yet so I'm open to suggestions. I'm actually working on getting her to back down from the waffle thing but at this point she's holding strong onto that plan and it's her party so if she wants to serve frozen waffles then so be it. Did I mention that a DIY waffle bar with fancy made from scratch waffles won't do? She is insistent that it be frozen waffles. Her favorite. She prefers hers straight from the freezer and rubbed with butter. The proper southern hostess side of me cannot serve this to guests. I've got about three weeks to convince AG. Wish me luck! 
Despite my menu challenges for her party, I am really excited and can't wait to have our first official deck party! The last piece of the deck is the stairs and they will be done in plenty of time for the party. Check out how it looks right now: 

Isn't it awesome!? I love spending time out there. Eventually we will have furniture that is not made of plastic but for now it meets our needs. It's a far cry from this time last year. That picture makes me wonder how we possibly enjoyed that tiny deck so much. I might be a little spoiled already. 
Our wrought iron table and chairs survived the flood. They need a good scraping and a fresh coat of paint then they'll be ready to use. I'm not convinced that I'm going to paint them black again. What do you think? I'm open to suggestions, bonus points if you send me pictures!