Jun 272014
 

Femme Frugality Turns 3! @meredithspidelOne of my very first friends in this blogging world was Femme Frugality, and I am thrilled to celebrate the 3 year anniversary of her blog here today!  If you haven’t visited her site, DO.  Her blog is chock-full of money-saving  tips for “students, brides, mommies, daddies, and Pittsburghers”.  I have learned a ton from this gal, and it’s an honor to call her a friend.

It’s funny, you cross so many paths through online connections, but as with all relationships in life, sometimes the first ones are the sweetest and most cherished.  I still remember when we both nervously first ventured into sponsored writing and monetizing our blogs.  She was then, and still remains, a huge support.

About a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Femme in person.  I did what anyone would do when in the presence of such money-saving greatness; got a little teary, gave her a huge hug and then started babbling endlessly about all the my latest cash-saves and bargain-finding victories.  She politely humored me as I panicked after tossing my Coach clutch on the table and then stumbled over myself explaining that it had been a gift from a friend.  The horror of her thinking I might have paid full price for such an item would have been too much to bear.

Anyway, I’ll hush up and hand the rest of this post over to three sponsors who are offering some very cool giveaways to you as we all celebrate Femme’s blogiversary together! Go enter and say congrats to Femme Frugality!

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online kids consignment

Kindermint is an on-line consignment store for kids’ clothes. They’ve got big brand names for seriously great, low prices. Not only that; you can send your kids’ clothes in to sell, too. It eliminates the hastle of dragging your kids to the store with a box full of clothes in one arm and the other trying to wrangle the little ones up. You know when you buy from them that the clothes you’re getting look like they’ve never been worn. In fact, some of them haven’t been, and they’ve got the tags on them to prove it.

To celebrate Femme Frugality’s 3 years of blogging, they’re giving away a $30 gift certificate to one lucky winner! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Open to US residents only. Fulfillment of prize is the responsibility of the sponsor and does not lie with any participating bloggers.*

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irish proverb

Biddy Murphy is a phenomenal Irish Gift Shop located in one of Femme’s favorite vacation spots: South Haven, Michigan. They have a fantastic online storefront of made-in-Ireland goods. The owner, Ward Gahan, travels home to Ireland regularly and uses some of his time back home to expand and replenish inventory. To celebrate this Blogiversary, Biddy Murphy is giving away a beautiful Irish plaque with a classic Irish Proverb: a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Open worldwide. Fulfillment of prize is the responsibility of the sponsor and does not lie with any participating bloggers.*

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squeaky clean

In honor of Femme Frugality’s 3 years of blogging, the North American Bear Co. is giving away a Squeaky Clean to 3 lucky readers! These cute microfiber accessories are perfect for cleaning the screens on all of your devices, and they can come with you anywhere you go with their keychain attachment. They come in a myriad of designs, and if you win, you get your pick. Worried about getting it too dirty? No problem; they’re machine washable.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Open to US residents only. Fulfillment of prize is the responsibility of the sponsor and does not lie with any participating bloggers.*

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Thanks to Femme Frugality for putting together such a fun way to celebrate her anniversary, and to the super-gal herself: congrats on 3 years!!!

Jun 222014
 

Here at The Mom of the Year, it’s all about being a fab parent–countless epic fails included, of course.  I’d be lying if I told you I had it figured out–any of it figured out.  My go-to strategy generally involves a lot of fumbling about and hoping for the best, but there have been a few things I’ve discovered along the way that do make this whole parenting gig a bit easier.  Things like online shopping, one of my favorite life passions.  So when Huggies asked me to share a fantastic promo code for shopping at the genius Diapers.com site along with some of my other tips for becoming a super mom (read: feeling like you might actually be rocking this gig once in a while), I was all over it.

Go make your life (a little) easier?:

1) I’m very open about the fact that I hate trying to shop with my kids.  Not that endless temper tantrums and wildly flying Goldfish crackers in the aisles of Target aren’t super fun, but…When I figured out that I could do all of my shopping from home AND save my family money by using promo codes, rewards programs and the like, I got very comfortable cozying up in front of my computer and ordering online.  This cut the panicked stress of hauling everyone out, leaving us more time for saner things, like running wildly in circles and knocking over block towers while Mommy attempts to wash dishes.

As a mom of two young ones, Diapers.com quickly became one of my favorite sites.  Have you been there?  They have everything you could need for babes in your life, from strollers to potty-training gear.  The shipping is incredibly fast, the prices are sweet and they never close.  So when you have the late-night realization that your diaper stash is dangerously low, logging on a making a quick order (before your Mommy brain lets you forget) is easy peasy.

Speaking of diapers, after trying many other brands, we remain sold on Huggies. I’ve learned quality diapers mean less time lost to cleaning up messes.  If you’ve got active kiddos like mine, Huggies offers two tiers of diapers for babies on the go (age 4+ months or step size 3 and above): basic Snug and Dry and Little Movers Diapers with these cool features:

• NEW design includes Double Grip Strips that fasten at four points, for a better fit that provides your baby with a hug that lasts.
• The stretchy SnugFit Waistband helps HUGGIES® Little Movers Diapers stay in place.
• Absorbent LEAK LOCK® Technology gives your baby up to 12 hours of leak protection.
• Adorable © Disney designs feature Mickey and Minnie

The best news?  By using promo code WOWHUGGIES at checkout, you can save $12 off your first Diapers.com purchase of any Huggies diapers case found HERE.  New Diapers.com members also get free shipping on their first order of $49 or more. So go dig into the wonderful world of online shopping and break out the good diapers!

2) Plan ahead.  Most Sunday nights I whip out my planner and map out our week.  This might seem like yet another task that sucks up even more time, but look ahead–what errands can I group together to save driving time? How much cash will I need for the whole week so I don’t have to run to the ATM 3 separate times?  What books do I “need” this month to support my late-night reading addiction?  Put them on hold at the library ahead of time and then do one quick swing by the check-out desk to grab them all at once.  My planner is a hot mess of notes, lines and dates–but it works.

3) Double-task.  Sounds obvious, but do it.  Want to catch up with a friend but have a kitchen that needs cleaned up?  Turn the speakerphone on loud and then get to work.  I like my simple scarf knitting, but I also like my husband.  If we’re chatting out on the deck, I’ve got my needles in hand and am clicking away.  Not to mention all the Christmas presents I’m making–time and money saved on shopping in December!

4) DIY.  Don’t fret, I’m not talking about any ambitious craft projects.  For me, this mostly translates into beauty care.  I started doing my own waxing at my bathroom sink to save money and then a year ago, I bought a Living Social deal for an at-home gel manicure kit and never looked back.  It’s definitely work on my end, but not having to spend my evening or cash at the salon is wonderful.  And this is another example of double-tasking: I figure I’m going to watch an hour of TV at some point during my week anyway, why not pretty up my nails while I do it?

5) Do it in bulk. My dog gets a frozen peanut butter-yogurt-baby carrot stuffed Kong every day.  This used to take a lot of time, but now I assembly line it up once a week and stash 7 of the filled treats in the freezer at a time.  Go the same route for lunches or snack bags that you can pack ahead of time so you can grab them quickly on your way out the door.  Birthday cards? I buy literally an entire year’s worth at a time.  The store clerks always look at me like I’m insane.  That’s okay.  Guess who is not scrambling out on last minute runs to the drug store to grab a forgotten card.  Or if you find a product you love at a great price?  Stock up and boom! Several gifts for the year are done. Slightly neurotic, sure, but I’ll take it if it makes things smoother and easier for my family.

None of these tips are new or earth-shattering, but they have done a lot for me to make some of this mom job easier. What works for you? Any help with being a super mom (or a least occasional moments of feeling like I’m acing something) is always appreciated around these parts.  Let me know what helps you save time and stress, and don’t forget to head over to Diapers.com and use that Huggies promo code to save some cash!

****Many thanks to Huggies for sponsoring this post and helping us all feel like rockstar moms saving time and money!****

Jun 022014
 
Dude, you are so cool.

Dude, you are so cool.

My son turns 5 today.  It’s funny because there are many, many things I thought shortly after he was born, but never once did I think, “We will survive this for the next five years.”

He is my gentle child, my kind soul.  The one who tends to be more laid back and accepting of his environment (this is the point when you read: yes, my daughter continues to throw epic temper tantrums of fury when the zipper on her jacket proves insurmountable)

Yet despite his easy demeanor, he has given us a share of rather serious fits throughout his young life.

He entered this world with severe, severe colic, that left his father and I sleepless for months, sobbing to drown out the literal 48 hr. periods of non-stop screaming, and wondering what the heck we had gotten ourselves into.

He broke his femur bone, badly, at 28 mo. and landed himself in a body cast.  The resulting impact means that he is still now continuing with physical therapy services over 2 and a half years later.

He recently required a very scary-for-his-parents eye surgery.

Also, like many parents, we scratch our heads A LOT over what is “normal” boy behavior, what might red flag attention concerns and whether summer birthdays and Kindergarten are a good match.

It’s exhausting.

The thing is, when this sweet child joined us in this world on June 2, 2009, we had no freakin’ clue what we were in for.  But we knew it would be huge.

And we also knew we couldn’t do it.

But we did.

I’m not sure how the “Oh craaaaaap!” became 5 years, but it did.  We made it!  And the flip side of all our doubt is the most beautiful, brilliant, good-hearted little boy, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Happy 5th birthday, Isaac.  We love you with all our hearts.

And now as Mommy types this, she is off to attempt to make you a homemade giant s’more cake.  I’m sorry in advance.  xo, angel.

Source Happy 5, little guy

Source
Happy 5, little guy

 

Nov 112013
 

…because we are.

My husband and I moved to this town 8 yrs. ago.  We knew no one.  It was brutal.  It was awful.  I cried. Often.

Then we started build a community.  A house.  A HOME.  My dear friend, the mother of my son’s BFF doesn’ t know this, but on the day that my son adorably said, “I love (her son)” and I finally got enough balls together to go ask this new friend to a playdate at our house, I heard this tune booming out of her car radio.  It was perfect.

It doesn’t escape me that this song was featured in my beloved Parenthood.  I know I am slightly partial to anything related to this program, but primarily, I’m grateful to Phillip Phillips for putting my feelings into words.  The message of this song resonates loudly.  My husband and I have been through It; ALL of it.  And we’re still here, trying tirelessly to “make our house a home”.

Having a door that people know they are welcome to walk through?  That's what it's all about.

Source
Having a front door people know they are welcome to walk through? That’s what it’s all about.

Some moments here might feel alone, but one day recently, very unusually (we are not popular people), 5 people popped by our house in the course of 20 minutes And someone else telephoned during the time.  As I felt harried, trying to chat with a couple friends, welcome my son’s PT, meet a gal from the online yardsale, thank the kindred spirit who dropped off muffins when learning how I jacked up my van, and make plans with a new business buddy, I paused for a moment and realized: WE ARE BLESSED.

Somehow in the midst of knowing no one and feeling like aliens in this strange new land, we started to meet some people.  Build a community.  Build a house into a home.

I’m not saying we’re solidly there, but we’re in process. It’s about the people.  And maybe finally finding a hair salon and knowing where to get the best deal on dog food, but mostly…it’s the people.

It’s having someone notice when we are missing at preschool drop-off.

It’s having a fellow mama to call at 8am when I feel like my world is crashing.  Why am I here? Why do I blog? Existential crisis in its best.  And God bless her for having enough patience to put up with it.

It’s the friend, I drag to breakfast with when the “business” end of blogging demands a meal out.

It’s the neighbor I fully expect to hit the local BIG yardsale with me.

It’s the Dead Parent Support Group of the two ladies who meet me for margaritas and understand, sadly, too well how real the pain of losing a parent can get.

It’s meeting a new friend through my son’s preschool and thinking she is downright boss.

It’s having someone to plan Hunger Games movie night dates with MONTHS in advance.

Hey life isn’t perfect, and loneliness can and still does reign at times, but each of these people…I am so thankful for the reason and season they are here. For their love and friendship and for being building blocks of this home we are creating.

You see, I don’t think the modern-day home is a given.  We work for it; we have to earn it.  We are the generation in which we “make our house a home” vs. being handed the home.

But that’s okay, becasue when is a life sweeter than when you have worked for it?

xo, Phillip Phillips, and thanks for getting it right. Will keep working tirelessly for my “home” .

 

 

May 192013
 

I’ll admit, I was skeptical.  Being a complete computer non-genius, anything that requires me to go online and create something makes me a little nervous.  Datevitation.com, an online site where you can go to make a custom love coupon book, sounded really cool, but I’m really bad at figuring out stuff like this.  Assuming I would have to bust all hope of a romantic surprise for my husband on Father’s Day, I was pretty sure I would have to call my husband in for reinforcement while I tried to place my order.  I settled in for what would surely be a long haul one evening while my husband was home so he could help.  He would just have to pretend to be surprised on June 16th.

But whoa!  There was genuine surprise in store!  Datevitation was so easy.  They have over 350 date ideas to pick from and each already has text beside it, which you can edit as much or as little as you want when creating your coupons.  If you are pressed for time, the text they have works well.  Everything is categorized, so it’s easy to find what you are looking for.  There were so many creative ideas for dates that I would never have thought of on my own.  With over 100 book cover options, you can fully customize your book for any occasion.  They also now have “boy” and “girl” characters with over 200 new activity illustrations specifically for kids and parents.  Just in time for Father’s Day!

I am always beyond desperate for birthday, holiday, and Father’s Day gifts ideas for my husband.  With a few simple clicks, I was there with Datevitation.  Those adorable coupon books people have been making for centuries to allow receivers to cutely cash in on a free in-home movie night, taking out the garbage or a breakfast in bed?  Datevitation takes this up the next level by providing you with loads of creative ideas in a professional-looking coupon booklet.  You can set aside your scissors, markers and glue this Father’s Day, and save craft time for another project!

I am completely sold.  I was wowed that I created such a cool gift for my husband in literally a matter of minutes ALL BY MYSELF!  No help from my husband needed, and now his surprise on Father’s Day can be genuine.  Shipping was quick, packaging was cute and I am entirely pleased with end result.

Books normally start at just $20 so it makes for a thoughtful yet economical gift.  But as a special treat for you guys, Datevitation is offering $10 off on your purchase in May or June if you use the promo code  “MOMOFTHEYEAR”.  That means you can get your loved one a one-of-a-kind gift for Father’s day starting at just $10.  The order cut-off date for guaranteed delivery by Father’s Day is June 6 so make sure to get your order in before then!

And Datevitation is also offering a chance for one reader to score a book completely for free!  Just enter in the Rafflecopter below between now and Friday, 5/24/13.  As long as you are 18 or older and a resident of the continental U.S., you are eligible to win.

I like this company, it’s obvious, but I really like the way they are caring for their customers by creating a very user-friendly product and bringing some fun back to gift-giving.  Thanks, Datevitation.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mar 112013
 

Woo hoo, its Monday!  Not feeling it?  No, I’m not either, but I do have a little blast of good news to shoot your way and kick this week off on the right foot.  I’m teaming up with my beloved Dani from Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine to give away 10 copies of the book right here!

I Just Want to Pee Alone book cover @meredithspidel @throat_punch

Remember how I blathered on and on about how awesome it was yesterday?  Yeah, it’s really that good and I’d really love for you to have your own copy.  How do you snag a chance to win one of these fantastic books?  Just enter the Rafflecopter below (it’s not hard, I promise)!  If you are 18 yrs. of age and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feb 272013
 
suitcases vacation kids @meredithspidel

Source
Leave the bags at home. A trip to the trashcan is strictly bag-free!

Okay, this is going to be fine.  Pampers has sucked up your life savings and there just isn’t any extra cash to spare for a tropical retreat right now?  Throw in the nasty factors of limited vacation days at work and oh, the teeny little problem of those kiddos who need someone to take care of them and such, and that fancy getaway may be more the stuff of dreams than reality right now.  No problem!  Do not despair, we’ve got this one covered.

It’s all about maximizing what you’ve got.  Think the magic of Wonderbra support craftily applied to some seconds throughout your day, and you soon will be saying, “All-inlcusive resort?  Who needs it?  Pass me that Tequila Sunrise when I’m on the toilet!”

Here are the tricks of the sneaky-vacationing trade, my friends:

1. This is where those 8 8oz. glasses of water/day finally make sense.  Go above and beyond if you want.  When your kids finally get to that age when you are pretty sure they won’t kill themselves if you take an extended pee, go ahead and pump that bladder full.  Make a whole two minutes of it and flip on that fan switch AND lock the door. Mommy’s taking a mini-break.**

2. Contrary to popular belief, the laundry is your best friend.  Shoot!  Mommy just has to run downstairs and switch up the load.  Darn that she has to walk down the basement steps so slowly so as to be careful as to not fall and twist her ankle.

3. In a similar vein, start loving on that full trash can.  Such an incredible shame to leave the house and carry the bag outside.  Bonus steps on the pedometer too.  In fact, wouldn’t be shocked if the can starts edging itself closer and closer to the neighbor’s house.

4.  The minivan.  Toyota had it mostly right with their whole Swagger Wagon campaign, but they missed one key concept.  You can vacation with your kiddos in the van with you.  Strapped down to their car seats with the radio cranked up, they can temper-tantrum on all they want–it’s not going to make a difference to you!  Go all out and load them up with sippy cups and goldfish crackers if you really want a peaceful escape.

5. Who said that this time change jazz has to be exclusive to Greenwich Mean Time applied to our national standards?  If you’re having a rough day, the clocks might accidentally get bumped up an hour, and that just can’t be helped, right?  Go fiddle with those clocks and snag yourself an extra hour.

What vacation opportunities am I missing?  Fill me in please, because despite my best efforts, I’m still kind of crushing on the tropical retreat right now…

Sandals tropical retreat resort @meredithspidel

Source
Okay fine, I’m drooling

**This seemed like a naturally excellent place to throw in a little shameless self-promo.  If you haven’t heard already, thanks to the genius of People I Want to Punch in the Throat, I am going to be part of a very cool, very funny book, I Just Want to Pee Alone, coming out sometime next month.  There are so many hysterically awesome bloggers featured in this book.   I am going to continue sharing their stuff on my facebook page, so be sure to check them out.  Hey, laughing is an amazing ab workout, so count it as your daily exercise ;)  More details on the book to follow, but for now, just start making some space in your Amazon cart and get excited to bring on the funny!

I Just Want to Pee Alone book cover @meredithspidel @throat_punch

Dec 242012
 
Santa letter

Source
We leave the cookies, he leaves the letter.

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!  Being as “in” with the Big Guy as I am (okay, fine, he’s kind of ticked at me after sending that slew of more challenging requests his way this year), he agreed to work his Christmas magic and send me a copy of the letter he will leave tonight for my kids (and neurotic dog) a little early so I could share it with all of you.  Since he’s truly The Stuff, he kind of knows exactly how this evening is going to go down before it even happens.  He’s a pretty funny guy, too.

And here’s sending a very special thanks to my dad, who may have been the force behind similarly special personalized letters written to my sister and me for years.  And he may have had something to do with this one too ;)

Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful holiday, my readers.

 

Hi Isaac, Elyse, and Bailey:

I bet you are surprised to see this printed letter. This year I have equipped my sleigh with a state of the art laptop and wireless printer so that I can become part of the high tech world that every body else is in. Save the old hand written letters that you have as a reminder of the good old days.

Isaac and Elyse, I remember when I met you both at the fire hall Santa breakfast a few weeks ago.  Isaac, I hope that the red dinosaur car I brought you is just like the one you asked for. Elyse, you were not very talkative, but I know what toys to bring to little girls like you.

Bailey, it was good to not see you. I appreciated that the gate at the top of the steps was shut. You appear to be a very good dog and I think it is great that you and Elyse get along so well. However, having a big brown dog sniffing around when I am trying to get presents out of my sack doesn’t make me really happy and my reindeer are not really fond of brown or any other color dogs.

My reindeer and I were also concerned that Bailey and other members of your family have not been friendly to foxes over the last year which we believe may be indicative to an aversion to animals other than dogs. I noticed that there were no signs of any cats in your house. I like cats a lot.

I really appreciate your nice roomy fireplace and the fact that your tree is conveniently located next to it for the placement of presents. I also liked your new sofa. I took a short nap on it and it was very comfortable.

Isaac, I am glad you enjoy going to preschool and I heard that your Christmas program was really special and fun and that you were really good at making the motions for your song. Elyse, it is neat that you have some special alone time with Mom when Isaac is at school.

It is really great that you both enjoy Longwood Gardens and playing in the water fountains. The indoor fountains are fun, but it will be good when it gets warm outside again and you can also play in the outside fountain. It will also be good when spring comes and you will have more chances to go to your Grandpa’s and play in the park. Isaac, you are really good at climbing on things and Elyse, I think that you are the loudest kid on the playground most times.

The milk and cookies that you left for me were great. I also believe that you have some great home brewed beer at your house. Next year a glass of that along with the milk and cookies would be great. Also tell your Aunt A and Uncle Jeremy that it would be good if they would put a glass of their beer out for me also. Isaac and Elyse, I would really like it if next year you would each draw or color a picture for me and leave it with the milk, cookies and beer.

I hope that you all have a good year in 2013 and I look forward to stopping by your house again next Christmas.

LOVE SANTA

Christmas with Grandpa 2011 @meredithspidel

We love you, Grandpa!

Dec 212012
 

Today, at 9:36am, there will be a Virtual Prayer Vigil held for all those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy, which happened last week at this time.  Spread the word as you are able and please join in 5 minutes of prayer and or silence, as we support and think of those who were changed for forever in such an awful flash of a moment.

To learn more about this and show your support, check out the Virtual Prayer Vigil for Sandyhook Survivors facebook page.  Thanks to Playful Planet for initiating this movement.  And thank you.  Thanks for caring, and thanks for loving these families who have been through so very much.

 

 

Dec 182012
 

So many of us want to do something to help, but if you’re like me, maybe you haven’t been quite sure where to start.  God bless the incredible bloggers who organized and who are supporting this:

Any money raised will go The Newtown Family Youth and Family Services. The official description of this organization:

“Newtown Youth and Family Services, Inc. is a licensed, non-profit, mental health clinic and youth services bureau dedicated to helping children and families achieve their highest potential. NYFS provides programs, services, activities, counseling, support groups and education throughout the Greater Newtown area.

ANY DONATIONS MADE TO NEWTOWN YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES WILL BE DONATED DIRECTLY TO THOSE EFFECTED BY THE SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL SHOOTING.”

Please visit THIS PAGE to make your donation.

Once again, I am wowed and so thankful for the incredible force of bloggers when they join together.  If anyone else wants to hop in with this, please feel free to copy or re-post any part of this post.  Thanks to everyone joining together for this effort and prayers, so very many prayers for Sandy Hook…

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