Nov 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Humor Even A Turkey Would Laugh At #HILARIOUS!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!  

 To get you in the spirit of family fun and of course, heaps of dysfunction, here are a few Thanksgiving day laughs to get you going...


Nov 25, 2014

10 Tips To Save BIG On Holiday Shopping

Nothing says I hate my life like shopping for holiday gifts at the last minute with a child in tow.  I know, I've done it. Twice. Last year I vowed to NEVER find myself in a line that snakes all the way to the back of the store, to buy over priced crap because I'm in a last-minute-pinch.  So I made a plan. A really good plan to not only save time, but money too!  Here are my best 10 Tips To Save BIG On Holiday Shopping... and not find yourself crying in a mile long line holding overpriced junk.



Before I get started, I need you to repeat after me...

I WILL NOT PAY FULL PRICE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

1. Plan ahead. Everyone's been naughty, just make the damn list already! Probably the biggest mistake I make is heading to the stores with a loose list of people to shop for, and a vague idea of what I want to get them. Nothing says FAIL faster!  Make a list of anyone and everyone you may want/need to buy gifts for, then add your vague gift ideas... maybe even go so far as to just come out and ask them what they want. Then use this as your master list. Stick to it, and when that person has been taken care of, write down what you got them, and cross them off the list.

2. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU! I am so bad about shopping for myself during the holidays. So bad. As much I am a huge fan of retail therapy, there are two major flaws with this:

1. My holiday shopping time and budget is limited.
2. The post holiday clearance sales in January are WAY BETTER.

It's best to leave yourself out of the equation until after the holidays. Plus, won't it feel so much better trading in Auntie Nell's ugly sweater for the one you've had your eye on since the holidays... that's now half price!?

3. Leave the distractions at home.  When possible, avoid taking your child(ren) with you.  Even if this means trading all of your lunch breaks until January.  Brown bag it and shop in peace.  We all know, kids not only complicate the mission, they can make it costly needing extras... and don't forget the chance for meltdowns and diaper blowouts.

4. Price shop from home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today to not to compare prices, both online and in stores. Pull out the list you made and start going through it before you start shopping. Write down where the best deal is, then check your list once finished for stores or websites that overlap. This can save you a bundle on shipping and time.  Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

Example:  I needed a big ticket item from a big box hardware store. I went to their website, found what I wanted, then searched for a coupon code.  I was able to save 20% at checkout with a coupon code I found on RetailMeNot.com.  What made the deal even sweeter was that I opted for in-store pickup.  This was fast, seamless and saved me time and money. DO THIS!!!

5. Crowd-Sourced Deals.  There is a new trend going on where websites are crowdsourcing for cheaper deals. Basically, if 10 people show interest in an item, then the website reaches out directly to the manufacturer for a bulk buy rate, then passes the deal on. Look for theses deals on those big ticket items.

6. Coupon like a crazy person.  Coupons are everywhere these days, don't buy without them! Don't just rely on coupon specific websites and apps, check the website for the store you are heading to.  Many are offering in-store coupons.

7. Don't discount the discount sites. Websites like Amazon, Groupon, Zulily, Overstock, Wayfarer...  all will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders. I have each bookmarked this time of year to check quickly for steals on things on my list.

8.  Shop Secondhand. What does every parent have in common at 2am on Christmas Eve/Hanukkah? They're putting together toys. So, if you are going to give your child a fully assembled toy anyway, why not just buy it secondhand, shine it up and slap a bow on it? Secondhand children's stores and higher end consignment shops have incredible deals on gently used items... so worth checking out!

9. Hit up Pinterest and get crafty. Make something for the person that has everything.  Every year I knit hats and scarves for family and friends. They all look forward to them now; some even put in orders for specific colors.

10. Regift it! Before you do any of the things on this list, grab a box and walk around your house filling it with crap you don't want anymore. Remember, your crap is another person's treasure. Somehow. Once you have filled the box, sit down and decide which friend/family member or what holiday party's Secret Santa you can pawn your crap gift the goods to.


How do you save big during the holidays? If you have any tips or tricks, please please please share them!!!!
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Nov 24, 2014

Who's Ready For T-Day, TD's and Dysfunction?!

It feels like just yesterday I was getting over the trauma of the 2013 holidays... oh wait, it was. I still am!  I tell you, the holidays can completely consume me if I let them, and not in a good way.  I can get so wrapped in buying the perfect gifts, making the perfect dishes, finding the perfect holiday party outfits. Then there is the juggling family celebrations, so no one feels left out, and everyone gets their gifts in a timely manner; especially my six nephews and two nieces--the four Aussies mean early shipping too. And then there is always my high hopes for New Year's eve-- Every year I secretly wish for the ultimate night.  Like my dream is to watch the first sunrise of the year sitting on the beach in New Zealand with one of my favorite people. (Shay, LOVE YOU!) 

Yes, the holidays can really get me wound up so tight I could shit diamonds. Well, this year, I'm not having it. What I am having is everyone over to my house! Being that we have this new fabulous house, I have declared to my family that the first holiday season will be spent within it's four walls.  After years of driving all over hell's half acre to appease and see all of my friends and family during the holidays, it's time they brought their sweet bottoms to my house!

Ok, well... I know I said no stress, but there is one thing...

The Thanksgiving feast!  Seeing as how I have never made one, the thought of cooking a turkey freaks me out.  Anyone who has seen National Lampoons Christmas Vacation knows just how wrong things can go...


Being the ever resourceful girl that I am, I came up with a genius plan...

Before inviting everyone over for Turkey day and touchdowns, I made out my desired menu: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes... then called each person to invite them personally, then when they asked what they could bring, I replied with one of my menu items, until the last person was instructed to bring ice and drinks.  

I AM A FREAKING GENIUS!  

Right down to my brother bringing a Turducken! 

So what am I doing for Thanksgiving? Buying paper plates and plastic cups and utensils, so I can really be a super hostess by not slaving over food or dishes!

Recap:
Venue: My house
Food: Not my problem
Dishes: Not my problem

Wouldn't that really be amazing if it worked out?  Do I expect it? Absolutely not!  I know my family and the strange dysfunction the holidays instills. Here's how it's gonna go down.



Half the guests will be late, with at least one person/family being REALLY late, which will piss someone off enough to accelerate their drinking, so once the late comer walks through the door shit will hit the fan. Those two will spend the next hour or so not speaking until the late comer drinks enough to get on the level of the pissed off one, and try to hash it out. This will result in either a bigger fight or a few, "I love you, I'm sorrys."

The food will be a potluck of epic proportions.  No one in my family is capable of making anything by the recipe. My brother will bring the turducken. My sister horseradish roasted garlic and possibly white cheddar mashed potatoes; my mom will bake four pies and pull off a fresh cranberry relish with orange zest and jalapenos... And just because FTD totally doesn't get the holiday, he is making meat pies.  

Then, once I pull out the paper plates, my mother will lose her shit, tell me how she knew I would do that, and then run to her car to get the China she brought, "Just in case."  While she is out getting the China, I will be rallying my siblings to help me talk mom into the easy clean-up plan.  Knowing full;l well she will wave us away and insist that she LOVES doing the dishes, and will take care of it.

Once the China is laid out, with my mis-matched silver, and the food hits the table, corralling three toddlers, and two pre-teens will commence. No doubt, this will go incredibly well. 

Then, once all are seated, the decision on who will say the prayer will commence.  Its usually is my mom, since historically my nephews manage to squeeze in a fart/poop joke, my siblings and I are not mature enough either, so my mom says the 45-minute blessing, while everyone sneaks bites.



Once the meal is over, talk of parades to the toilet will be held by the men in between screaming at the football game on TV, the women will be fighting child fingers out of the pies, and the elderly will fall asleep before their plates are removed from in front of them.



My friends, I CANNOT FREAKING WAIT!!!!!!!

I love my super jacked up dysfunctional family. They make me feel normal. Every year I tell myself I will not let the holidays win.  They will not eat me alive.  I will not let the stress overtake the fun. My mantra this year is: Be laid back.  Don't worry, I'll let you know how that wrks out for me.

What about you? Is your T-day full of dysfunction and touchdowns?







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Nov 23, 2014

I Got The Talk From My Son's Teacher. I Had A Feeling It Was Coming.

A few weeks ago my toddler was on an amazing kid streak!  For at least 14 glorious days straight he was well-behaved, kind, affectionate, said please and thank you, and altogether was a delight. The first week my mind was blown, but by the second week, I was becoming optimistic that maybe he was growing out of his terrible twos. I was all ready to announce that my kid was the best, and all those parents who said the terrible twos were nothing compared to three and four were wrong, about my kid at least.

And then something happened.

He turned into a crazy toddler again.

Like a thousand times worse than ever.

Now, we are on week two of some of the worst behaviors:

1. He is speaking some strange gibberish, even though he has an extensive vocabulary.
2. He is hitting and scratching.
3. Saying bad words.
4. Saying NO when asked to do anything.
5. Not staying in time-out
6. Acting out at school.
7. Throwing toys.

The list goes on, but I'm sure you get the point. My kid has gone crazy.


Last Thursday when I picked Ollie up from his Child's Day Out program, the teacher pulled me aside to let me know he was a terror for her too. Ollie has been going there for almost a year, and this is the first time I have had to have "the talk".  While his teacher chalked the behaviors up to his age, she did say his need for attention from her was getting out of control, and wanted to know how he was at home, and how were were dealing with it, "so we could be consistent."  I told her he was awful, and that we were using time-out and taking away toys or gadgets as punishment.

I'm honestly not sure what has changed? I mean, I've been busier with work, FTD and I had a two-day round that wasn't very pleasant, but involved more silent treatments than heated conversation.  Still, the bottom line remained, my kid is being extra bad, and not only could I not pinpoint why, I was having trouble managing it.

While I hate to call parenting a job, because I love my son more than anything and above all being a parent is a blessing, the fact is for me right now, it's work. Hard work. The thing that has been especially hard is with all of his bad behavior, I have had to be a tough mom. It sucks.  I have had to stay constantly on him, which also means constant time-outs that are a whole other battle.

I just know, if I let down my guard and let my toddler be wild, then I will have a much tougher job on my hands during the teenage years. So, I try to remain diligent, not putting up with backtalk and acting out. Even though it makes me feel awful.  For a few days I tried to get down to his level and talk calm about the bad behaviors, and why they were naughty.  If he seemed to understand, and apologized, I left it at that.  If he wiggled and didn't listen, I would go ahead with the time out and then try to talk to him calmly after time out was over.

I have tried everything, hoping to find the perfect mix to help my son understand that he is in the wrong with whatever poor behavior he is displaying; I still haven't figured it out.  Part of me thinks, this is just how it is.  He is a stubborn little toddler testing the limits, and it's up to me to show him right from wrong. CONSTANTLY!

I realize that I am in the throws of a seriously tough time in parenting.  I realize that, for the most part, his wild behavior and testing limits is par for the course. But, it doesn't make it any easier.

I have a very spirited child that I love dearly. I've decided that as long as I love him and stay diligent about not letting his bad behaviors slide, at some point we will both emerge from this time better humans. OK, sometimes I think I will just settle for alive with all of my marbles, but dammit the kid better be fabulous!

If you are struggling with your toddler/child, you are not alone.  His teacher was kind enough to remind me of that.




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Nov 21, 2014

Plan Your Holiday Sides And Delicious Desserts Delivered To Your Door With Schwan's.

I recently had the pleasure of testing out SCHWAN'S quality food delivery service free of charge for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.


In high school, I had a boyfriend whose freezer was always packed with Schwan's yummy desserts and snacks.  It seemed like every time I went to his house, his mother was offering me a different snack or treat. Being the smart girl that I am, I obliged.  The drumsticks ice cream cones were my favorite.  To this day, when I see the Schwan's delivery truck, I think of him... and his sweet mom with her sweet treats.

Knowing what I did about Schwan's snacks and treats, I was more than happy to test out the service for my family too.  I was given a $50 gift card to choose anything I wanted from their vast selection of appetizers, entries, sides, snacks, treats, sauces... I was really surprised to see how much that $50 gift certificate would get me!


Not ever visiting the site before, I was in complete shock over how much the company offered! Absolutely every imaginable breakfast item, snack, side, appetizer and dinner entree is offered.  Additionally, there is the LiveSmart® line offering healthy selections, as well as food catering to just about every dietary need!

With my $50 gift certificate, I bought a little bit of everything, to see if Schwan's savory was a yummy as the sweet.

$8.891$8.89
$15.461$15.46
$11.191$11.19
$7.321$7.32
$6.291$6.29
$8.591$8.59
schwans logo
  • Delivery Fee
$1.751$1.75
schwans logo
$5 off $25 or $10 off $50 New Customer
-$10.00
We loved EVERYTHING! 

  • Ollie loves the pretzels.
  •  I made smoothies with the organic fruit. 
  • The crab cakes were awesome with the roasted fingerling potatoes. (Both came with enough for two dinners!)
  • The lasagna roll-ups made for a super easy dinner, with fast clean-up 
  • FTD loved having the breakfast sandwiches handed to him on the way out the door.


I have every intention of ordering again. Between the great food, the awesome recipes (worth checking out the site for that alone), and the 5% cash back rewards program, I can see why the company as been delivering quality food for over sixty years.



With the winter months coming up, I'm definitely looking forward to having my groceries delivered! If you decide to order, make sure you use,  RAQUELJ2  at checkout for $5 off $25 or $10 off $50.  To check to see if Schwan's delivers in your area, CLICK HERE!





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Attention Parents: Do Not Forget These This Holiday Season... #PowerTheHolidays

Thank you SheSpeaks and Duracell for sponsoring this post! All opinions are my own.


What do nearly all children's toys have in common?  Batteries.

What do you never seem to have enough of? Batteries.

What makes a kid cry and parent cry at the same time for the same reason? Running out of batteries.

What one thing remains a hot topic in my house? Batteries.

Some of you may remember FTD's Post about "Candy Coated Crap- The Dad Files" where he goes off on a tangent about batteries?
"Wow...look at all the cool baby stuff you have! Yeah!!! What most Dads don't realise is that all these stupid bouncy, rocking, rolling, vibrating, flashing, musical crap-boxes need a constant supply of batteries. Of course, the ladies have no understanding of electricity these days other than using a microwave, so I spend precious MINUTES each day following the wife around switching off kiddie toys!" 
Now, he wrote that when Ollie was still a baby and clearly having poor judgment in choice of words. I admit,  I was guilty of leaving things on, but there were SO MANY THINGS! Between the docking stations, noise makers, mobile... Two years later, we still have the same conversation. I remind him it's not always due to forgetfulness, what about those bloody Furbies? Those evil possessed things don't have an off switch! I know, I've looked!

There's also his Tips For Expecting Dads post where he says...
1) Buy or borrow a good digital camera.  Get a pile of batteries ready and test the thing out BEFORE you're in the hospital.  Practice how to do a "macro" or close-up shot of your kids hand holding a finger (grannies love that sh!t) and make sure you have a memory card in it. I can guarantee you that if you forget the bloody camera when your baby plops out, the rest of your miserable life won't be worth living. They are also a great excuse to 'disappear' when the lavender-scented, patronising great Aunty Noleen strides on in with a poorly knitted baby cardigan and insists on putting it on the baby immediately. Simply exclaim that you're "out of batteries" and have to duck out to get some more. Lifesaver! 
The only things FTD and I agree on when it comes to batteries are:

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Nov 20, 2014

Sharing My Childhood Favorites With My Child This Holiday Season

Today's post has been kindly brought to you by Hatch Em's Eggs. All opinions are my own.

One of the (many) great things about being a parent, is getting to relive your childhood.  I love that it's my job to sit on the floor and play trains and Hot Wheels with my child.  I love that we watch fun kid movies, and read and act out silly books.  I also live sharing my favorites from my childhood with my child.  I especially love it when he loves something as I did.

Over the summer I picked up an antique typewriter and camera at a yard sale, just so when my son was older, I could show them to him.  Ok, they were super awesome and for me too, but I have no doubt in 15 years, those things most kids will only see in a book.

LAME!

Being that my son's generation is technology driven, I think it's really important to share good old fashioned toys every time I come across them. Things like shrinky dinks, pick-up sticks, jacks, and fun simple interactive toys, or things like these super cute Hatch Em's Ornaments.



Do you remember those? Or the toys like them, where you would stick it water and watch it grow over the week? LOVED THEM!  The first time my nephew visited from Australia I got him a Spider Man one.  He loved it. He was diligent about changing the water, watched it like a hawk and of course touched and played with it the whole time. It's been four years, and he still has it!

In case this is your first time seeing these awesome grow in water toys, check this out...

1. Hang the ornaments on the tree
2.  Let the kids touch, poke, shake and get all excited about what animal will be waiting in side.
3. Then on Christmas morning, when they have torn the place apart, remind them there is one more present to open... One they will have to watch and wait for...
4. Stick the eggs in water...
5. Again, copious amounts of poking an water changing will take place while the egg shell dissolves.
6. Once the shell dissolves, the sweet little bear is ready for another bath...


Note: I broke the little polar bear out of the egg so I could show you what he looked like.
Normally the egg shell breaks away leaving the animal to grow! 



And then, after another round of touching, poking water changing and size speculation... The little guy will grow to TEM TIMES HIS SIZE!  So cool. I feel like I am getting Ollie excited about science and even gardening without him knowing it!  

Here is the full process in a "Pin it" version.


Cute polar bears, snowmen and penguins not your child's thing?  Check out these animal planet ones!  I know my seven and nine year-old nephews will love them.



To see all of the different types of Hatch 'Ems CLICK HERE! 

Feeling lucky?  EIGHT lucky readers will win a Hatch 'Em Holiday Ornament set. Sign up below! 



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