Monday, August 31, 2009

$51.31 - yahoo!

Let me preface this post with this: I CALLED YOU AND LEFT YOU A MSG, SISTER! TAG, YOU'RE IT! Ahem. You know who you are ;)
********
Brace ourselves. It's a heckuva post. And I feel very blessed that I was able to pull off such a large haul this week on my limited budget. (Sidenote: Though shopping is petty compared to, say, world peace and illnesses, I said a prayer before I set out. I really did. And God, as always, provided. I should do this more often...) I felt really challenged this week to also buy some other household necessities and include them in my budget. Admittedly, I sometimes cheat and won't included baby items or toiletries. However, armed with inspiration from Duet Diva who left this in a comment "...explain how you spend $50 each week on your menu items and your basic home needs (including baby items)," and loads of faith that I would be able to pull it off, and I DID!
Here's some things you need to know:
  • My husband drinks a lot of milk. A LOT. I found two gallons marked down to 59 cents a piece at my local store, so I was able to buy milk at a fraction of what I usually spend AND I used some ECBS towards another gallon that ended up being FREE!
  • I do buy Baby B organic whole milk because I'm freaked out about him growing armpit hair at age seven. I try hard to stay away from anything with added growth hormone (i.e. most milk), additives or preservatives. I'm mostly successful, but not always.
  • Since my husband has been through puberty, he drinks the regular old milk and laughs at me for buying the expensive stuff for our son. Make fun all you want, baby.
  • I will post a meal plan match-up eventually that details what we're eating this week. Sorry for those of you who came to look at pictures of Baby B. Come back soon for those.
  • Of course I already have a pantry and freezer full of other items that we use too. I also have a stockpile (closet-full) of toiletries. Will post more on this some other time.

All in all, I spent $51.31 on everything written about and pictured below.

Trip #1: Target
2 100 Cal Packs @ $4.08 - $.75mfc = $3.33
1 Whole Grain Cheez-Its @ $2.50 - $.75mfc = $1.75
1 Kashi TLC Crackers @ $2.88 - $1mfc = $1.88
1 Kashi TLC Cereal Bars @ $2.88 - $1mfc = $1.88
4 Poptarts @ $6.08 - $2mfc = $4.08 - $1.50tc = $2.58
2 Ronzoni Whole Wheat Pasta @ $1.52 = $1.52
1 Rimmel Mascara @ $2.24 - $2mfc = $.24
2 Bic Pens @ $2.00 - $1mfc = $1.00
__________________________________________
Total Before Coupons = $24.18
Total After Coupons (before tax) = $14.18
Total Saved = $10 or 41%

Trip # 2: Walgreens

1 Pkg Huggies Wipes @ $3.29 - $2 store coupon = $1.29 - $1.50 mfc = FREE

(I paid 20 cents in tax though. Coupons never cover tax, btw!)

Trip #3: KMart



1 Pkg Pamper Diapers @ $9.99 - $4mfc = $5.99

(KMart is running SUPER DOUBLE COUPONS - up to $2 - at my store this week, so the $2mfc turned into $4! Yipee!)

Trip #4: Kroger/CVS/Local Store



Kroger

4 Fruit2Os @ $5.24 - $4mfc = $1.24 (or 31 cents a piece)

2 Reece Cups @ $1.00 - $1mfc = FREE

1 Charmin TP @ $1.88 - $1mfc = $.88

2 Hershey's Syrup @ $3.16 - $1mfc = $2.16 (or $1.08 a piece)

1 Private Selection Organic Milk @ $2.79 = $2.79

2 L'Oreal Vive Shampoo & Conditioner BOGO @ $3.79 - $2mfc = $1.79 (or 89 cents a piece)

2 Pkg Dannon Yogurt @ $3.76 - $2mfc = $1.76 (or 88 cents a piece)

1 Can Chickpeas @ $.99

1.34 lbs Red Potatos @ $1.33

3 apples @ $1.00

2.19 lbs Chiquita Bananas @ $1.05

2 Pkg Ball Park Hotdogs @ $2.00 - $1mfc = $1.00 (or 50 cents a piece)

1 Pkg Tyson Fresh Chicken Cutlets @ $3.99 - $1mfc = $2.99

1 Pkg Tysen Chicken Nuggets @ $3.29 - $1mfc = $2.29

1 Zucchini @ $.51

1 Yellow Squash @ $.58

1 Bag Dole Salad @ $.98

1 Bag Peaches @ $1.48

3 Ears of Corn @ $.51

1 Pkg Baby Carrots @ $.99

1 Quarter Watermelon @ $.94

______________________________

Total = $54.84

After Coupons/Kroger Plus Card = $27.95

Total Saved = $26.89 or 49%

CVS

2 Bouncy Balls @ $.98

1 Gallon Milk @ $2.39

_________________________
Total = $3.37

Total after $3 ECB = $.37

Local Store

1 lb Jenni-O Ground Turkey @ $3.99 - $3.99mfc = FREE

2 Gallons of milk @ $1.18

____________________

Total = $5.17

Total After Coupons = $1.18

Total Saved = $3.99 or 77%


Saturday, August 29, 2009

I hope I don't have the swine flu

It was only a matter of time before the kinder critters attacked my immunities. After one year of teaching, it is a certifiable fact that I am not immune to everything and I'm sure my annual bout of strep throat will occur within the next 6 weeks (the past two years tell the same tale). My nose and head feel stuffy and clogged, so for the first time since October of 2008 I'm taking cold medication. Pregnancy and nursing prevented the consumption of such medication.

However, it's not working. I feel like blah. And Baby B is just getting over feeling like blah, so things are just very blah around here today.

Well, except my husband and FIL hung new shutters on our house (that've been sitting in our basement for the past year), and Baby B and I did manage to get in a Target trip (which I'll blog about later), and my parents are having us over for breakfast for dinner tonight. So maybe it's not been a blah weekend at all. Feeling blah-like just puts a damper on your attitude, I guess.

Here's sweet precious before his whole 103 degree fever bit - at the park with his Nana K...




Look at that determination, wouldya?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Couponing Part I: An Intro

Hello, friends!

I have enjoyed reading your emails and comments regarding couponing, and am excited that many of you are giving it a try. For those of you interested in how I obtain and use coupons to my advantage, this post should help you...

Admittedly, when I first began clipping coupons, I sort of thought there was this stigma attached to, you know, being that woman in the grocery store. The one holding up the check-out line while the manager was summoned to clarify a coupon combo that seemed way too good to be true (it wasn't). Or the one toting a coupon binder through the aisles, pausing to sort through her wares to match up a sale with a coupon (who cares?).

I'll just put it out there. I was kind of embarrassed. Looking back, I'm not sure what I was embarrassed of - saving money? leaving a store paying less than half of what the total bill should have been? stickin' it to The Man?

I guess I thought that if anyone I knew saw me walking through the aisles of Kroger holding coupons- gasp - they would think less of me. Like I couldn't afford gorceries at regular price. Well, truth be told, I've run into many acquaintances at the grocery store since (hello, I'm a teacher), and never once heard a snicker over my purple zippered binder. I doubt they even notice it. And, it's kind of empowering to be able to spend so little on so much. Like, I sometimes leave the store wanting to do a fist-pump/high-kick combo and sing out Cha-ching! as I'm pushing my cart through the sliding doors.

So, what I'm getting at here, was the long-winded way of saying leave your pride at the door. There's nothing embarrassing about saving money. Nothing at all.


Anyway, stepping off of my soapbox...


Many of you asked where I obtain my coupons from. I'll list my main sources below:
  1. The Sunday Paper. If I find that the coupons are extra good (i.e. offering high dollar coupons on items I regularly use), I'll buy a second paper.
  2. I exchange coupon inserts with others (i.e. coworkers, neighbors, mom). We all get the coupons we need and then give the inserts to the other person so they can do the same. This is how I obtained multiple copies of the $2 off Rimmel Mascara coupons that I used at Target the other day. The mascara was regularly $2.24, so that made each mascara only 24 cents before tax! I'm a mascara fiend, so this was a great buy for me.
  3. I visit Smartsource and Coupons.com on a weekly basis and print coupons from home that differ from those in the paper. If you print online, here's some things you need to know: a) you can usually only print a coupon twice before a print-limit is reached b)set your printer settings to economy print or fastdraft or black/white to save on ink c) not all stores accept printables, so verify with your retailer before going through the hassle (I have yet to find a store that doesn't accept them). d) if you see something you want, print it immediately! don't wait because good coupons often have a global print limit and once it is reached, no one can print it any more.
  4. If you have a favorite brand, join their website or sign up for an email newsletter. It is best to set up an email account specifically for fielding emails from these type of places because you will get LOTS of junkmail. After joining, you'll usually be privy to sales or coupons that you can print.
  5. Follow Money Saving Mom! She's my personal coupon guru, and just by her ability to key me into the latest deals, I've saved hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars. I love her and her faith-based site.
  6. If you can sign up for something free (i.e. samples!), DO IT! Usually, when you sign up for a free sample, the company will also send along some great coupons. You have to enter your home address, and I can honestly report that I've not received any more junk {snail} mail than I usually would.
  7. If you are a Target shopper (and who isn't?), you must, must, must print Target coupons. This is because they allow you to pair a store coupon with a mfc (manufacturer coupons). This can make for some great deals (i.e. The PopTarts I bought at Target the other day were priced at $1.52 a box, but when I combined a TC (75 cents off) with a mfc ($1 off of 2), the total came to only 65 cents a box. Not bad!) Other stores also offer store coupons, like Walgreens and Meijer.

I'll end this first post with this: if you want to coupon, you really have to be committed to it. It takes some work every week to not only clip coupons, but to also match up the best deals. I'm not trying to turn this into a money-saving-blog, and am certainly not the first person to ever do a post like this, but I'm excited to share some of my strategies and hope that they can shave a couple dollars off of your weekly grocery budget.

I will post a menu-grocery shopping match-up next week (probably Tuesday-ish), so that you can see what we eat on $50 a week :)

I'll also show you my coupon binder and where I go to find good deals in a subsequent post.

I'll also continue to post about sweet precious and how I actually got to cruise around in a real, live mini-van for 48 hours this week. And I didn't take pictures. Oh, and Baby B is sick. Darn those Kinder critters and their germs. Grrr.

Happy night, BFFs!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

PSA

Dear People of the Doctor's Office Waiting Room,

To the Magazine Hoarder: You're not the only one who wants to ogle John Gosslin's latest fling or Kim Kardashian's baby bump. Spread the wealth and leave a couple of outdated, paged-through People's for the rest of us.


To the Teen Texter: It would not bother anyone in the waiting room if you silenced your buttons as you click click click away at a message to your BFF. OMG, do you know how annoying that is?

To the Overly Loud Couple: The doctor's office is an unofficially quiet place - kind of like an elevator. If you must talk, do so a couple octaves lower than your regular volume. In fact, just whisper. No one wants to hear about your plantar's wart or the latest family feud. For real.


To the Receptionist: Your job is to serve the public, and I assume that when you were hired no where in your job description did it say Scowl and communicate only in audible sighs of exasperation as you request copayment. We're not that thrilled about health insurance either, but it'd be a much more pleasurable experience if you plastered a welcoming smile on your face every now and then. Oh, and if you could at least acknowledge me standing there at the window, basically at your mercy since you're responsible for letting the doctor know I'm there, that would be a bonus. Many thanks.


To the Parent of A Toddler: I have a toddler too, so I'm right there with you in how exhausting it is to chase them from one side of the waiting room to the other. However, it is completely unacceptable to just let him run amok, and holler his name loudly across the room hoping that will entice him to return to you. Guess what? It's not. He's two and you're over thirty. Reign him in, preferably with one of those child leashes that masks itself as an animal backpack.


Your's in Friendly Doctor's Office Etiquette,


Babbling Abby

PS. I'm sorry if this is a terribly bitter, complaining type post. It's just, when you wait for the doctor for 45 minutes past your scheduled time and then the appointment takes all of 30 seconds, you're kind of over it. And then they've just given you plenty of time to think all those negative thoughts... But, I do feel better now. Thanks :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The next Beckham. No, really.

As if you ever doubted that my son would play soccer...oh wait, you didn't know that we're big soccer fans around the Babbling household? Oh, we so are.

And we expect Baby B to follow suit. And while, to you, he may be haphazardly, accidently running into the ball, I promise you he is not. Totally intentional.

Love him.
video

Coupon Tuesday :)


I don't usually do posts like this, but thought maybe you needed some inspiration to start coupon clipping and deal shopping. If not, skip this post and come back later when I convince you that my son is destined for soccer greatness.

For everything pictured above, I spent $14.85.

The only thing I paid full price for was the fruit and chips, which were on sale, but I didn't have a coupon for them.

This will be my weekly grocery shopping, as I already have a solid stock of other necessities (i.e. dairy, meet, sweets) on hand.

The above is composed of items from three different stores. Here's how it all breaks down:

Walgreens

2 Boxes of Huggies Wipes @ $2.98
__________________________
Total before coupons = $5.96
Total after coupons = $1.98

Kroger

3 Kiwi @ $1 = $1
1 Cantelope @ $.88 = $.88
4 Pkgs. Danimal Yogurts @ $1.88 = $7.52
1 Nutripals @ $3.63 = $3.63
2 Reeses Cups @ $.50 = $1.00
1 Kroger Tortilla Chips @ $1.00 = $1.00
______________________________
Total before coupons = $15.03
Total after coupons = $7.14

Target

1 Earth's Best Organic Baby Crackers @ $1.77 = $1.77
2 Kellogg's Pop Tarts @ $1.52 = $3.04
1 Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cup @ $1.00 = $1.00
1 Edy's Ice Cream @ $3.04 = $3.04
5 Rimmel Mascaras @ 2.24 = $11.20
2 Pkgs Bic Mechanical Pencils @ $1.24 = $2.48
_____________________________
Total before coupons = $22.53
Total after coupons = $5.73


So, couponing is amazing. Hopefully, by keeping our weekly grocery budget under $50 a week, I can start attacking some of our debt (are you listening Sallie Mae?).

Please leave a comment or email me babblingabby(at)gmail(dot)com if you have any questions about starting to coupon!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Daily Insight

1. It's about time all advertisers/marketers/car-bumper-sticker makers distance themselves from Got ____? started by the Got Milk? campaign of the 90s. Seriously. I saw a sticker on a car today that read: Got Siberian Huskies? Come on now. Let's all just agree to move on. It's okay to be original.

2. I hate to hang pictures. All that measuring and aligning things all straight-like. I hate that. Too many tools involved and not enough hands. I just want to put a couple nails in the wall and for everything to just work out. Except it never does. Something's always a little crooked. A little off-centered. A little cock-eyed. That's why there are zero pictures hanging on the main wall in our living room. I'm afraid to screw it up.

3. I despise our printer. It's one of those combo deals that doesn't really do any one thing great. I have to hand-feed it paper. Sometimes it only prints one page at a time. So, you can imagine how complicated it is to print a multi-paged document. We fight a lot.

4. I often wage a battle with myself every night around 9pm. To eat or not to eat? that is the question. The little devil that sits on my shoulder urging me to eat a scoop (or three) of ice cream and coat it with chocolate syrup and sprinkles usually wins.
5. I've reverted to my grade schoolish ways by setting out my outfit the night before. Except I don't do this so much to seek my mom's approval before I leave the house in neon stirrup pants and layered socks, but moreso to ensure that whatever I will wear to school isn't wrinkled or stained with mashed banana. It also might save me approximately 10-20 minutes every morning since I'm not cursing the laundry god for not being more on his game.

6. I still sometimes want to go get Baby B up from his crib when I've put him down for the night just so I can love on him and kiss his smoochable cheekers. I do shine my cell phone screen down into his crib every night though, locate aforementioned smoochable cheekers, and kiss him goodnight.
7. DJinkers, how I love thee. Thank you, Aunt Cindy.

8. I went to a non-existant yard sale this weekend after scrounging through purses and couch cushions for spare change. At least I now know it will be on September 12th, officially. Misread the paper. Oops.

9. Sallie Mae and I can finally be friends following a month-long hiatus where she threatened to call me delinquent and I finally broke out my inner Sheniqua to say, Pppshaw, $500 monthly payments, uh-uh. No way! I asked for decreased payments, she asked for interest and somehow everything worked out where I still owe $30,000 in the end.

10. I have been staying up waaaaay past my bedtime lately. It's August, so my body thinks that it's still summer break and wants to, you know, watch Conan and blog stalk into the wee hours of the morning.

11. I thought that when you bought a new vehicle, car drama was to be alleviated. Apparently, no. I'm air condition-less (cooling mechanisms have beef with me apparently as noted here and here), the driver door is being tempermental, and the electronic hatch decides when and for whom she will open. Is anyone smelling lemon or is that just me? VW and I will have words, if that's the case.

12. I am finished nursing. Are you shocked? Me too. I was shooting for 18 months (admittedly) but I can't really enforce nursing rules when the nursee is 25 lbs and can walk, and concludes his 30 second nursing session with "done!" He's so over it. It was a beautiful thing while it lasted though.

13. No more cookie binges now that I'm not on the greatest diet EVER anymore. See #12.

14. Taking a Mighty Monday hiatus. Feel free to Mighty away if you must. I'll still read :D

15. I have gotten out of control with all this numbering. Fifteen is waaaay too many.

16. Oh, we color with chalk now. Or eat it. Whatever keeps him occupied in non-toxic kind of way.

17. Have a Mighty Monday, anyway!

Wherefore art thou weekend?

Why is it that when you have a job, it always seems to be 9pm on Sunday night and you're all For Real? It's over? I mean, honestly, why not a three-day weekend every week? I really think everyone would benefit if we could just completely void Monday as part of the work week. This is totally not the intention of my post; to moan and groan about the weekend slipping away, that is. But a thought I wanted to share, nonetheless.

I actually wanted to tell you about the Babbling's Weekend Adventures.

We took Baby B to the zoo Saturday. And an outing with a 1-year-old is always quite the undertaking these days. Between Baby B bantering back and forth with a pair of Asian elephants, and his blatant requests to be stroller-free, he quickly plum-tuckered himself right out and we sped home for his afternoon nap. It was, in a word, exhausting. For all involved. Everyone napped when we came home. This is why being a zoo pass holder has its perks: we don't feel like we have to see everything while we're there because we can always come back to see what we missed.
Plum-tuckered out. In his news Robeez. A gift from his Great Aunt Laurie :)

And, because my husband will forever harass me if I don't blog about it, this post will not go without me mentioning that he was gored (his word, not mine) with the horn of an overly friendly bovine. He was petting it as if it were an oversized dog, and it just nuzzled its big ole head into his shoulder. He claims that he saved Baby B from subsequent gorage since I was holding him right next to this cow. Anyhoo. Just had to say something about that. Since my dear, sweet husband often questions the content of my blog and why it doesn't more often pertain to him. My boys looking all cute together, admiring some pachyderm.

This was Baby B's response to a polar bear, I believe.
Baby B looking rather Steve Irwin-ish.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, BFFs. Whatever may be left of it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Just put me in a cookie-induced coma.

Is it okay that as I sit here and type, I am polishing of my fifth (and final) Keebler Original Chips Deluxe cookie? It better be because it was one heck of a day in kindergarten. Now that we're three days deep, little behaviors are starting to surface. The darling dears are pushing my buttons (how they know the ones that work is amazing), and I'm suddenly not so swooned by their sweet facades. I love them all. I do. But it's the chatting. The desobedience. The incessant teacher, teacher, teacher that get me going. MY NAME IS MRS. BABBLING FOR THE FOUR-HUNDREDTH AND NINETY-SEVEVENTH TIME. Thankyouverymuch.

Oy.

So, I'm consuming my irritation by eating waaaay too many cookies, and purposefully directing the nutrition part of the packaging away from me so I don't have to, you know, actually visualize the fat and calories each of those little devils has in them.

Overall, I think it was a successful week. I feel like I'm ready to attack Week II with the same fervor and enthusiasm with hopes of nipping those little behaviors in the bud that make me want to consume entire bags of cookies. However, I'll tell you right now, I can only take so much teacher, teacher before I go from Good Witch to Bad Witch.

And, just in case you thought maybe I was the only one getting along swimmingly with sweets these days, I'm not. Photographic proof:

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

...sigh...

I'm pretty sure this is what cute looks like.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Only 175 left to go...

As the theme song from Welcome Back, Kotter plays on repeat in my head, I sit feeling a little out of sorts - and shocked that the first day of kindergarten has come and gone so swiftly.

Twenty-two little darlings kept me on my toes all morning. Literally. I was so busy that I didn't even drink a Diet Coke until 11am. Unusual for someone who's usually poppin' open a can before the sun rises. I also didn't have time for but a bite or two of my catered breakfast before my first kiddo showed up. My Panera bagel then sat on my desk until school was over and the cream cheese had gone all crusty at that point. Bleh.

Don't you worry, I didn't starve. I came home and shared some cranberry oatmeal with Baby B. And then I had another Diet Coke, so all was well.

I spent the afternoon paying bills, trying not to be depressed over the fact that Sallie Mae is going to bleed my budget dry. I loathe you, Sallie Mae. If anyone has any creative ways for making approximately $30,000 disappear, please be in touch.

So here I sit, exhausted, and thinking that 9:39pm is the perfect time to call it a night and head upstairs to my down comforter and squashiest pillow. (Squashiest is totally a word. I know. I teach kindergarten.) However, my MIL sent over her famous banana-nut muffins and it's taking mass restraint to prevent myself from downing one. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't the size of four muffins in one, and if I didn't feel obligated to eat the whole thing in one sitting, you know?

Anyway. Happy Monday. Er, Wednesday. Whatever day it is, Happy That. I'm going to bed.



Monday, August 17, 2009

A Mighty Classroom


Bulletin board found outside my classroom door. My name will go above the sign. Each of my student's names is on a bucket beneath.

So, as promised, this might be a post all about Mighty Classroom.

And, in the words of beloved MckMama: your retinas might bleed after looking at all of my educational eye-candy...

Disclaimer: If you go by Nana, there is a pic of Baby B at the bottom of this post so you don't have to read through all the edu-babble without a little treat.

Brace yourself...

It's difficult to read, but this says Star Attendance & corresponds with our Star Behavior pictured beneath.


When the kiddos arrive, they sign in and move their Attendance Star to our Star Behavior chart.

My behavior management system is fairly similar to many others out there. Students begin the day on green, move to yellow for a warning, and then to red if they've had an awful, rotten, no-good, very bad day.


Students with exceptional behavior get to move their stars to the Star Jar (not pictured), which is usually only a couple students per day. I then draw a star out at the end of the day (with lots of public fanfare, of course) and make a big to-do about awarding one student with a treat. They typically choose to pick out of the prize box, swap morning work for computer time, or complete their work at my desk and use all of my fun writing tools (pens, pencils, smelly markers, etc).

For those of you who know me personally, you know what a big deal it is for me to share my beloved Sharpies with a 5-year-old. I mean, it took years of therapy to get me to that point. That, or my college roommates stealing borrowing them without my permission. Ahem, AllisonandKatie.

After student perform their morning duties (signing in, attendance, unpacking, etc.), they check out the sectioned area to the right of the Star Behavior. It is there that I list what they are to do for the morning be it explore Math Tubs, complete a worksheet, read a book, or complete a page of a workbook.


To the right of that is where I post our Daily/Weekly Graph for all to see. We work with the graph every day during the week during Morning Meeting, creating its various parts, copying it on a worksheet, discussing it, etc.

Next, is Our Schedule. I haven't listed times yet because everything is so tentative in the beginning. They'll go and change my specials times or something and then I'd have an absolute conniption having to retype or laminate something. Also, everything will be backed with magnetic tape eventually. Again, I'm just waiting we're a month or so into the year.


I intentionally skipped through the picture of my desk space because it's cramped an cluttered to afford my class extra space in our room. I was really aiming for space efficiency this year and did a lot of furniture moving to accomplish that. Unfortunately, my desk space had to suffer. No big deal though, since I spend ZERO part of my day sitting there...


Above is our Calendar Wall and our meeting space. I adoooooore my white board on wheels (bottom lefthand corner), and so do the kidlets.

Here are some up-close shots:

Do you recognize the alphabet above? Yup, it's a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom alphabet and I totally scored it at a YARD SALE!!!! My heart just raced a little typing that. I think it was like a quarter.

Here's our actual calendar and Webster the Weather Frog, aptly named by my sister, Chels, when she helped me set up my room last year. I referred to him as that since Day 1 and the kiddos loved him. I heard lots of I wanna dress Webster!!! throughout the year.
The last of our wall contains our list of birthday, pocket chart place value (with straws) and the shapes.

Moving along (are you dying yet?!) is our Environmental Print bulliten board (this will change as the year progresses), theme-book library, pointers, and our Calendar Math binders. Our number line continues over onto this wall from our Calendar Wall.


And here's our cubbies that take up a whole lotta wall space. But it's okay. I make it work. This year we're the KinderKids accessorized by rainbows, clouds, and bright colors, with a smattering of unicorns, garden gnomes, and fairy dust thrown in (along with anything else good and lovely). Because kindergarten shouldn't be anything less.

Atop our cubbies are my little tin buckets that I purchased for each of my students (crossing my fingers that my class doesn't exceed 25...and not just because that's how many buckets I bought). The buckets correspond with our Bucket Fill-osophy, and my plan is to fill each student's bucket with compliments as the year progresses and then gift it to them at the end of the year in a little Bucket Filling ceremony where I'll read each student's compliments to the class and give them a little award and cry a little bit over how amazing each of them is.

Our word wall also spans this set of cubbies, the windows, and the next set of cubbies. Right now my students' names are listed there.

Beneath the windows are shelves that house our book baskets, math tubs and manipulatives, ABC activities, puzzles, blocks, and the like.



I didn't photograph it, but between the windows and the next area, there are more cubbies, our sink and cabinets, and my assistant's workspace (a coveted kidney-shaped table!). It looks boring right now, but when it's pretty maybe I'll take a pic.

This is my Club Cadoozles bulletin board. If you're not familiar with Cadoozles, they're a mechanical pencil for little fingers. This year, I'm using them as a handwriting incentive. I haven't hammered out the details, but I'm thinking that when students can successfully write their alphabet (that means no confusing b's and d's or p's and q's!), then they'll get to do their writing with a Cadoozle. I'll use the bulletin board to advertise the names of the students in the club.

Beneath that board is more ABC center activities.


Next up is the Lightbulb Lab which is a writing center that I will stock full of fun materials to encourage {creative} writing and designing. Our computers are here also. I was inspired by Kevin Henkes' Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse for this center and can't wait to introduce my kids to it.


And, what would my classroom be without a little ADPi delight sprinkled in? I'm sure it comes as no surprise to my fellow Pi girls that our service learning project is collecting poptabs for the Ronald McDonald House. And collect them we did! We collected 5 BIG houses full of them and used the tabs as math manipulatives to help us learn subtration. This tri-fold board was from a seminar last year and will be used in a mini-lesson to explain this project.

It might be 10:04pm. I might be tired. Tired from typing, typing, typing. Tired from student loan strife (HELP ME OBAMA). Tired because I chased after Mr. On-the-Move all day.

And, because my mom complains that she doesn't like my blog unless there is a picture of sweet precious posted, here ya go ;)

A Mighty Tease...

Don't have time for a complete Mighty Monday post. Yet.


I might be finished with my classroom, though. This might be a prelude for what's to come...


Check back later!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friendly advice

In case you weren't aware, a Major League Baseball game is not a developmentally appropriate activity for a one-year-old. Not in the slightest.

I spent the greater part of two hours holding and chasing Baby B, and sweating my butt off. Lord have mercy, it was sweltering.

We were so busy entertaining Baby B that we didn't even have a single second to take a picture. And you know I brought the camera along. It was just that you can't really set your child down to explore in a baseball stadium while you try to snap a couple of candids. Mainly because there are half-full cokes to dump and/or dip your hand into, peanut shells to stomp on, and scary baby-snatching looking people to defend your kid from. Probably not, but you can never be too safe.

Did I mention we were in the nose-bleed section?

Anyway, Baby B already thinks it's way uncool to hold my hand, so that was out of the question. He wanted to walk alone. Without an escort. And exclaim loudly how unfair it was that I would actually expect that he would have an interest in me, when there were water fountains to drink out of. It was not sufficient that I let him drink out of the water fountain 14 times in a row. He kept pushing for the 15th, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

Especially since I am certainly not one of those parents that would allow my child to get his way just so to prevent Public Temper Tantrum #48.

And I am certainly not the kind of parent that would request that my husband FIND THE NEAREST ICE CREAM VENDOR IMMEDIATELY so that I could sit in my actual seat for the four minutes it took him to slurp it down.

Nope, I would never seek solace in calorie-laden, sprinkle topped soft-serve.

So, yeah, I'm thinking future baseball games are out of the question...or at least until Baby B can speak and write what RBI and MLB stand for.

However, the tickets were free, we hung out with our neighbors (who are moving! major sad face!), and we each left with a collectible bobble head.

So, someday in the next five years when I'm tucking Baby B into bed, and he points to the baseball player bobble head perched on the shelf above his bed and asks me to tell him where it came from, I'll let out a lingering sigh and tell him of the night when his mother nearly lost her sanity over a trip to many to the water fountain. The end.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Last Day of Summer Vacation



{Insert one. big. sigh.}
Today is the last official day of summer vacation. Of course, there's still the weekend between me and my first day back, but this is the last day that Baby B and I will spend together - just the two of us.

So, like a good mommy, we sent summer out in style. Chicken McNuggets and ketchup(!!!) for lunch, then a good romp at the city park, and then we polished it off with vanilla soft serve at DQ. It was certainly a delicious end to our extended time together, if not super hot and sweaty. Welcome back summer weather. So nice of you to show up considering it's now AUGUST, and I've all but started school and haven't been to the pool in a month.

Anyway.

Micky D's is a treat. I think he's had it thrice. And, yes, I compensate for greasy frenchfries and supposed all-natural white meat by choosing the Juicy Juice option. Having one person in the family addicted to Coke products is enough.

Here's a shocker: the boy child adores ketchup. I mean, I have to create a ketchup shield with the Happy Meal box so that he doesn't see me repeatedly dipping fries into it. Otherwise, I spend the entire meal plunging soggy nuggets into our shared supply, only to have him suck the ketchup off and expect me to repeat the procedure. Now, had we been at home where I have an ample stash of baby cleaning tools, I wouldn't have minded giving him his own and letting him have his way. But, not so much in McDonalds. By myself. I know what happens when a baby is left to explore ooshy gooshy foodstuffs.

So, then the park. The park where we were blissfully alone for 10 minutes before a man and his kid showed up to take away our fun. Or at least my fun. I've seen one too many Datelines to feel comfortable alone. In a park. With a man twice my size. Innocent, he may have been, but my instincts were telling me that this was not a good idea. And then there's the part of my brain that sounds distinctly like my husband telling me to quit being so naive. What can I say? I try to think the best of everyone. Regardless, we left. And it was 90 degrees anyway, so 15 minutes in the hot sun was plenty for both of us.

Last, but not least, was DQ. Solid entertainment for $1.79. Kid-sized entertainment, of course, that was shared by all. This face tells me it was a good idea that I rationed out ice cream and ketchup during our date.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moral Obligation

Hello, dear readers.

I think times are tough for everyone right now, the Babbling Family included. (My last paycheck came almost three months ago! Eeh! Oh, how I long for you, September 4th!) Anyway, being of the frugal persuasion, I really try my hardest to make our paychecks stretch as far as possible. This means clipping coupons, following money-saving blogs, trying as hard as possible to stick to monthly budget, signing up for freebies, trying to be Dave Ramsey-ish, and listening to the sage advice of those who have gone before me (i.e. my mom).

With that said, I want to alert you to some money-saving and money-making possibilities that are around right now. Do with them what you will, but just know that there are many ways out there to save, stretch, or make a buck.

1. I check Money Saving Mom religiously. I obtain MANY MANY MANY of my good deals through her site where she regularly posts the latest freebies, meal plans, grocery deals, coupon links, and the like.

For instance, last September she posted a deal where you could receive 25 FREE Omaha steak burgers after some coupon codes and registrations. I'm with you: I thought it sounded waaaaay to good to be true - until I received a confirmation email and then a cooler full of burgers on dry ice showed up on my front door step! I seriously laughed out loud when they arrived!

Today, she posted about a free $10 gas gift card, which I promptly registered for. Free gas?! I am soooo there!

2. Sign up for freebies and mailing lists. I know, you hate junkmail too. BUT, when you're put on a mailing list, it usually means good coupons are in your future, whether by mail or e-mail. I have an email account set up specifically to handle all these mailing lists, and I regularly receive coupons via the mail.

3. If you're not clipping coupons already, START NOW. Or Sunday. Or whenever the coupons come in your paper. I regularly save between 30-70% off of my grocery bill, and have saved as much as 90% before. I am so proud to read that percentage at the bottom of my receipt. In fact, my husband and mother are usually on the receiving end of the good news, as I just have to tell someone how much I saved!

4. Register your Kroger Plus Card (or any Kroger affiliate card) with sites like Shortcuts, Cellfire, or P&G e-saver. These sites link e-coupons directly to your card, preventing you from cutting coupons or if you forget to bring them to the store they work automatically when your card is scanned.

5. Register your Kroger Plus Card on the Kroger website and update your information! I found out recently that Kroger will email you manufacturer coupons and Kroger store coupons as long as they have the right address. Apparently, they've had my college sorority house address for years, and I couldn't figure out why my mom and sisters regularly got coupons and I didn't! Darn!

6. Buy All You magazine. I get mine at Walmart. It is loaded with coupons, and a great magazine too.

7. Join the Huggies Enjoy the Ride Rewards program. You just add codes to your personal site after registering (many of which I found on Money Saving Mom, but they can also be obtained from Huggies products), and then spend your points playing games or entering sweepstakes. Since yesterday, when I registered, I've won two $10 cash prizes that will be mailed to me! How exciting is that?! You don't have to have a little one to play, either.

8. Join Swagbucks. This is probably the easiest way to earn free stuff ever. After you join, you add a toolbar to your internet explorer, and then you do you internet searches through them. Some, not all, searches will credit you with Swagbucks that you can redeem from a variety of prizes. I've been a member since the early spring (I think) and have accumulated 115 Swagbucks. You can earn GREAT giftcards,magazine subscriptions, electronics, PayPal cash, etc. It's awesome!!!

9. I don't know if they're accepting new members, but it's worth a try. Visit Vocal Point and become a member. I absolutely love receiving their coupons in the mail, which are usually for a new or re-branded products. They often send a freebie coupon, along with 4 or 5 other coupons for the same product to share with friends. Today, I received a coupon for box of free Rice Krispies along with 4 $1 off coupons to give away. They're big on feedback, which takes only seconds of your time, and totally worth it.

10. Yard sale! Your neighbor's thrift is a great place to score amazing deals - even if you only plan on buying something to resell on eBay. (Which I've certainly done!)

Okay, hope you weren't totally bored, but I just felt like God was calling me to spread the wealth. Hopefully, you can take advantage of some or ALL of these deals too. And, feel free to email or comment if you have any questions. And, again, I'll reiterate that Money Saving Mom is who I frequent for the best deals! Go see her site!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

...A Day in the Life...

5:50-6:30am - B's alarm goes off. Repeatedly. Until I turn it off because he never, ever hears it. I prod and poke him and whine about the alarm until he finally rouses and heads downstairs to start his day. I also threaten him within an inch of his life if he wakes Baby B as he passes through his nursery on his way to the stairs.

6:30am - Offer up a small prayer that Baby B sleeps for another 20-30 minutes.

6:32am - Prayer failed. Baby B is up. And so am I.

6:32am-7:00am - Nurse, diaper change, pull out toys and play on the floor while watching the local news. Prevent Baby B from entering the bathroom while daddy gets ready.

7:00am - Watch opening credits for The Today Show, note interest in Meredith's power suit, Anne's feature story on the Octo-mom, Matt and Al's latest adventure, and covet Natalie's hair. Kiss husband goodbye, admire Baby B staring out the window, waving, as daddy speeds away.

7:00-8:00am - Straighten up first floor while Baby B plays. Start coffee. Gather laundry. Fix coffee and a sippy of milk for Baby B. Step on blocks that are strewn across the entire rug. Put blocks away. Baby B dumps blocks again, within minutes of me picking them up. Build a couple block of castles that usually last .2 seconds before Baby B's open hand sends them tumbling down. Baby B loses interest in blocks and now is eyeing my cell phone sitting at toddler eye-level on the sofa.

8:00am - Kashi Strawberry Waffles in the toaster, slice peaches (or banana), scoop up Baby B and wrestle place him gently into his highchair. Listen as he babbles wildly about how slow the whole toaster process is. Present him with sippy of milk which he immediately chucks on the floor. Baby B eats (remember this process?) and I read an article or two of Parent's magazine, or check out blog updates. Drink another cup of coffee.

8:22am - Breakfast is over, waffle is consumed, and peach and/or banana has morphed into sludge that is now serving as Baby B's latest hair product. Spiking or matting hair with said product is optional, though an option that he regularly chooses to exercise.

8:22-8:28 - Sing the Clean Up song from Barney as I approach Baby B with the dreaded washcloth. He rocks his head back and forth, enjoying the tune, until he realizes that washcloth is approaching his face. Screams loudly, drowning out song, grabbing washcloth from my hand and sends it to the floor. I wipe up some peach-banana sludge from floor while picking up washcloth, rinse, and repeat the whole process until he can safely be removed from high chair without applying goop to anything he touches.

8:28-9:00am - Clean kitchen, run dishwasher (didn't I just run it last night?!), hold Baby B while running the vacuum since it currently scares him when it's on.

9:00am - Gather Baby B, paci, and G and put all three down for three hour nap. Praise Jesus that he still takes such a brilliantly long morning snooze.

9:00am-Noon - Switch caffeine drip from coffee to Diet Coke #1. Blog. Email. Shower. Complete school work. Start laundry. Clip coupons. Take inventory of pantry and fridge. Make grocery list and check out Money Saving Mom, Centsible Sawyer, and Cincinnati Cents for notable good deals. Dry hair. Check out celeb gossip on People. Check the 11 voice mails I let pile up over the weekend. Return calls. Straighten hair. Straighten toys, while on the phone with Sallie Mae fighting about student loans. Curse the fact that I didn't obtain a degree in elementary education the first time around, and even had to resort to student loans in the first place. Call mom and complain. Blog while talking on the phone. Pay bills. Apply make-up. Pack diaper bag for afternoon excursion. Crack open Diet Coke #2. Fold laundry. Get dressed. Take out garbage. Unload dishwasher. Start macaroni and cheese on stove. Contemplate a power nap on the couch before I hear Baby B calling me upstairs.

Noon - Lunch with Sweet Precious. Macaroni and cheese everywhere. Second serving for me, while spoon-feeding yogurt to Baby B to avoid mess. Repeat clean-up process on boy child, but opt to tidy up lunch mess until he's down for another nap to maximize errand-running time.

12:30-12:40pm - Scrape macaroni and cheese off of Baby B's forhead, while wrangling him into a darling pair of overalls. Realize he's pulled half-a-dozen wipes from container while I went to fetch socks. Smother him with kisses while telling him what a little stinker he is.

12:40-2:00pm - Target. Kroger. Walmart. Or some other combination of events that will inevitably require animal cracker bribery and a juice box to compensate for the shopping cart restraint system.

2:00pm - Arrive at home. Diaper change. Down for nap #2.

2:00-4:30pm - Snack on another bowl of mac-n-cheese while cleaning up the kitchen. Begin thinking about dinner. Thaw ground beef for burritos. More laundry. Diet Coke #3. Blog. Finish any tasks not completed during first nap.

4:30pm-5:00pm - Baby B awakes. Snack of Cheez-Its and Juicy Juice. Wonder if it's nutritionally sound for Cheez-Its to be that orange. Doesn't matter anyway, since he'd rather stomp on them on the floor than actually eat them.

5:00-6:30pm - Play outside. Wait for daddy to come home. Start dinner. Play outside some more. Pace street in the wagon, watching for daddy. Relish the moment when Baby B recognizes daddy's car coming down the street. Happily hand-off sweet boy child for ten minutes worth of dinner prep.

6:30pm-6:50pm - Dinner with my boys. Recount day's events with husband. Watch Baby B grab handfuls of dinner and shove them haphazardly into his mouth, most of which falls onto his highchair tray or the floor. Decide not to care and rerun the sweeper post-dinner. Clean kitchen with B's help. Baby B toddles beneath us, extracting dirty silverware all the while. Lovely.

6:50-7:30pm - Play outside with boys. Try to convince Baby B that grass is not toxic to the tootsies as he opts for the concrete sidewalk instead.

7:30-8:00pm - Bathtime. Jammies. Nurse. Goodnight Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, or Pat the Bunny, followed by some superb vocals by mommy on her night. Prayers. Kisses. Lights out. (B and I regularly rotate nighttime duties, except for the whole nursing thing of course...)

8:00-Midnight - Glass of Yellow Tail. Sit on front porch and gab with B. Visit with the neighbors on the front lawn. Straighten house. Bowl of ice cream. Blog stalk. Etc.

Midnight - Read until eyes start to shut. Bedtime.

{While I'm sure you're thrilled to read the to-the-minute details of my daily doings, I wrote this mostly because I want written proof of what my days are like. I've not done so well at keeping up the baby book. Or journaling by hand. This was an alternative. Happy Tuesday!}

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mighty Monday!


Let's take a day to celebrate all the things we might have done over the past week. Feel free to join in and leave a comment so we visit your post too :D

Um, I might have promised you that I would rig up a MckLinky, but I might be too lazy to fool with it (and I'm sure it's all very easy), so I'll continue to post mighty big promises and hope that I'm not letting you down.

I might have been SUPER PUMPED about the coupons that came in the paper yesterday. Enough so that I might have gone back out later in the day to pick up another paper so I can double fist the deals.

I might be a hair excited about starting school next week.

I might have initially typed hare on accident, though I don't believe you can measure excitement in rabbits.

I might complain about how I can't wait for summer break, though, once school actually begins.

I might be staring a big, fat mess in the face right now.

I might have accepted my MIL's generous offer to send chicken over for dinner, since she knows how to operate a grill and all. I might not have the slightest idea how to start one.

I might have asked the Kroger employee if she would mind restocking the free cookie stash, so that I could occupy Baby B while I sped through the aisles.

I might have given him four. They might have been little, though. In my defense.

I might have also stupidly given Baby B a cup full of Cheez-Its which promptly found their way onto the hardwood floor. I did, however, save them from his happy feet before they wound up crushed into a million tiny little pieces.

While I might enjoy the entertainment value provided by the endless number of dump trucks and Caterpillars cruising down the street, I am sick and tired of them thinking our front yard is their personal parking space. Rrrrrr.

My son might be holding a fairy princess wand in this picture. I might not tell his dad.


My favorite girl might be three.



That might be all, folks. Have a Mighty Monday!