5.03.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#357)

It is Teacher Appreciation Week this week. Hopefully, you have something special planned for the teachers in your life - Elise is giving brownies from our favorite bakery and Amazon gift cards to her teachers.

Tip #357

And if you are a teacher, here is a list of freebies and deals that are available to celebrate you this week!

Guide to Teacher Appreciation Discounts 2016

5.02.2016

Weekend Recap in Pictures

 
{Volunteering at MerleFest - anybody want a turkey leg the size of your head?}

 
{Strawberry Picking!}


 
{ A sports themed Prom Photo Shoot}
 

{Lots of rain!}

4.29.2016

MeeMaw, Mimi, and MaMaw

 
I had a "MeeMaw," and Elise has a "Mimi" and a "MaMaw." My "Mom" called her mother "Mama," and my aunt did too, but she spelled it "Momma." Do you know what they all have in common (besides being family)? You cannot find a greeting card with any of those names on them in the store. As a gal who has a name that is never spelled correctly on the cutesy stuff in the store, this irks me.

When I received an email from Cardstore and realized that you can personalize many of their Mother's Day cards with any of those, I was so excited! I always felt so weird buying a card that said "Grandmother" or "Mother," they just didn't fit.

You can even add your own photos to many cards and their prices are often lower than cards that you have to settle for in the store. And as always with Cardstore, you have the option of having them mail the card directly to your Mom or Mimi for you!

Hurry, you have to place your order by May 2nd to get it to your special lady in time!

P.S. What do you call your mother and grandmother?

4.28.2016

Overwhelmed...

Where to start? I have been so overwhelmed with life lately that blogging has been the last thing on my mind.

Work - coming into the busy time of year (end of school year) and our deadline for scheduling next year's courses is 3 weeks earlier than normal. Not so much of a problem if I didn't need others to make decisions before I can do my part. Is it bad to want a job where you just work alone and don't have to rely on people to get stuff done?

Home - Elise is going through a bit of a testing phase. I think that she had more time outs last weekend than in the first 3 years of her life combined. Threenagers are tough! I wouldn't trade her for the world, but I wouldn't mind if this phase just passed us right on by!

Health - Coming off of a 4 day smoke smelling, massive headache spree. That combined with the fact that I can't seem to sleep and my body just hurts (some chronic pain, some from exercise) and I am just feeling blah.

Weight Loss - Stalled. Working as hard as I can at exercise, but having more struggles than usual with my eating.

My co-worker across the hall is always playing this song when she feels overwhelmed...words to live by and a much needed reminder of Who is in control of all of my circumstance (the good and the not so good).

I delight myself in You
Captivated by Your beauty
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms
Unashamed because of mercy
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

I know the power of Your Cross
Forgiven and free forever You’ll be my God

All that You’ve done is so overwhelming
I delight myself in You
In the Glory of Your Presence
I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You


4.26.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#356)

Someone at our house, an adult who is not me (cough, the Rev, cough), has a habit of misplacing his wallet...

Tip #356

and if he is like most of us, he probably has no idea what exactly is in there. Home Storage Solutions 101 has a great list to help you create a wallet inventory so that you are prepared in the event that you lose your wallet.

Here's ideas of the types of information to add to this inventory:

Name of debit and credit cards, plus 800 number to contact in case of loss. (You need to consider whether you'll keep the credit card number on this list as well as the name of the card and contact info. It can come in handy in case of loss or theft, but if the list itself is lost or stolen it can come back to bite you, so just consider what you want to do, considering where you'll keep it.)

ATM cards

Driver's license or other forms of government ID

Checkbooks and bank deposit slips

Health insurance (or other insurance) cards

Frequent flier programs

Library card

Gift and loyalty cards

Membership cards, such as for gym, warehouse type stores, etc.

**Quick Hack If You Don't Want To Write It Out**
If the thought of filling out this inventory keeps you from doing it another quick way to do something similar is to use a photocopier and lay your various cards face down and make a photocopy of them. Then, flip the cards over and do it again.

With this method you'll have a copy of what exactly is on all your cards, front and back, that are in your wallet. You can reference these photocopies as well. Just make sure you make some notes on the copies so you can readily match the right front with the right back so you don't get confused.


And obviously, don't store the list in your wallet...

4.19.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#355)

Ah, Spring Break week, how I have been waiting for you. Now what to do with our free time?

Tip #355

We took an impromptu trip to the zoo yesterday and even last minute we saved 15% by ordering tickets online. Most businesses and attractions will offer you a discount if you order and print your tickets online. Of course, the added bonus is that you walk right in and get straight to the fun, no pesky lines!

Do you order tickets online?

4.15.2016

Cool Whip - Elise's Imaginary Friend

So, last May the Rev took Elise to visit his parents for a few days, while I was still stuck at work, waiting on my summer break to begin. Because it is his favorite food group, her PaPaw let her have Cool Whip to eat every day - on pancakes, with berries, probably just straight from the spoon, too...and that was the beginning.


Not long after, she began talking about her friend, Cool Whip. She told us that she was her sister but that she lived at another house...here...in the retirement village where she had gone trick or treating with her friend, Piper, the year before. The village is on the way to the Y and we go there several times each week, so she waves to her and tells her "Hello" every time we pass.


The Rev and I have been taken to task if we forget to put Cool Whip in the bed with her each night. One evening last August, we had a particularly long trip home from church because Cool Whip kept getting out of the car and we needed to stop and let her back in...


I keep waiting for her to move on, but she'll be playing on the playground and turn to yell for Cool Whip to come with her. She'll wait for Cool Whip to climb up the slide with her and then tell her that she did a good job when she slides down.

I was a little worried at first and then I read this:

"studies had shown that kids with imaginary pals use more complex sentence structure, have richer vocabularies, and get along better with classmates. Kids who create a playmate get a chance to practice taking both sides of the conversation. They try on different roles, think abstractly, and conjure up original ideas. An elaborate fantasy world is like a test lab for some of the most important childhood skills."


I guess we won't worry if Cool Whip sticks around a little longer then... besides Cool Whip is a way better name than Bing Bong.


4.12.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#354)

We just finished our taxes this past Sunday evening, so we know a few things about last minute...

Tip #354

If you are just starting to file your taxes, know that you are not alone. According to the IRS, 20 to 25 percent of people wait to file until two weeks before the deadline.
Tax day is April 18 instead of April 15 this year, because Emancipation Day falls on April 15. So take a deep breath, slow down and follow these tips before April 18 from Lisa Greene-Lewis, CPA and tax expert at TurboTax.
  • Gather your documents in one place
When you sit down to file your taxes, make sure you have all the necessary documents like W-2s, 1099s, receipts for expenses, mortgage interest, and your kids’ social security numbers in front of you, Greene-Lewis suggested.

  • E-file with direct deposit

If you are expecting a tax refund, e-file with direct deposit is easy, secure and the fastest way to get your federal tax refund, Greene-Lewis said. Nine out of 10 tax refunds are issued within 21 days or less, compared to six to eight weeks for paper-filed tax returns, according to the IRS.

  • Double-check important information

According to the IRS, one of the top mistakes taxpayers make when rushing to meet the tax deadline is gathering incorrect Social Security numbers for their children and spouses. "Correct Social Security numbers are required to get valuable tax deductions, credits and exemptions," Greene-Lewis said.

  • Don’t forget what you did last year

The IRS reports that the majority of taxpayers – about 75 percent – take the standard deduction. But including a few additional receipts may push you over the standard deduction and lower your tax liability, Greene-Lewis said.

  • Don’t forget about the money you shelled out for expenses

Possible expenses include previous state tax liability paid, job search expenses and summer day camp.
"Even the cost of moving a pet may save you money on taxes," Greene-Lewis said.
Remember to include charitable contributions made throughout the year. For example, donated clothing, household goods and even mileage to and from charitable events may be eligible.

  • Don’t wait for Form 1095-B or 1095-C

If you have employer provided insurance, private insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare, you may be waiting for Form 1095-B or C, but there is no need to wait. Per the IRS, you do not need to file these forms with your taxes.
"They are for information only so go ahead and file," Greene-Lewis said.

  • File even if you owe

"Remember going on extension only extends the time to file your taxes, but if you owe you are still required to pay what you owe," Greene-Lewis said. Even if you owe money, you can ask the IRS for an installment agreement when you file your taxes. The installment agreement will allow you to pay your tax debt over six years.

4.05.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#353)

Does anybody else's keychain or wallet look like it is drowning in rewards cards for every store known to man?

Tip #353

So, the Rev has been raving about this new app that he is using. It is called Stocard and it basically lets you scan all of your cards into the app and then scan your phone at stores. It keeps everything in one neat location for you. I'm planning to scan all of mine in soon, since it is getting a little embarrassing to hunt through a sea of cards at every store.

Stocard on Apple

Stocard on Android

Do you use rewards cards? How do you manage yours?

4.01.2016

A Baby, A Girl, and A Sister

At about 1 year old, Elise got her first baby. A plain little doll that cost $5 at WalMart - she picked it out when she was sick and we were wandering around waiting on a prescription to be filled. As soon as she could talk and was asked the doll's name, she replied "Baby." And that is what she has always called her. She sleeps with her every night, without fail. And in extreme cases when the most severe punishment is required (usually reserved for telling a lie), she loses baby. It breaks her heart and she cries and says, "But I love her!" Baby is her girl.
(Sometimes even Baby gets a timeout..)

Baby is not all that attractive, so I bought her another, cuter, stuffed doll. Elise named her "Girl." Not one to be swayed by looks or the cuddly factor, Girl is largely relegated to the toy box. She is no Baby.


(Girl, all by herself, in the dress up trunk...)

Cue this past Christmas, when Elise asked for a sister for her baby. Specifically one with diapers. This caused mass confusion amongst church members and her teachers at school, since when anyone asked Elise what she was getting for Christmas, she replied with "A Baby Sister." Christmas morning came and there was the new baby doll, complete with diapers, who was promptly named, you guessed it, "Sister." She was Elise's jam for all of 1 week before she was forgotten in favor of Baby.

(Christmas morning with Sister)

3 lessons here:
1 - Sometimes a cheaply made WalMart doll is all you need.
2 - We will for sure need to invest in a Baby Name book when it is Elise's turn (in 30 years) to have a baby of her own!
3 - Never try to come between a girl and her baby!


3.29.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#352)

Are you just about Easter candied out? I love candy, but I am about there myself. But I will still shop the Easter candy clearance aisles...

Tip #352

because the individual packages make for great portion control.

You can buy large bags of small portion Easter candies, such as M&M's, Skittles, and Starburst, and other Easter themed snacks, such as popcorn, fruit snacks, and Goldfish, dirt cheap right now on clearance. They make for just-the-right-size treats to keep you on track with your healthy eating.

Stock up though, no good candy holidays until Halloween!

3.22.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#351)

Elise and I are planning to dye Easter eggs this weekend, but until then...

Tip #351

we had some fun with fake eggs (these are great for this type of decorating, but don't dye well since they float, not sink!) Here are a few alternatives to dyeing eggs:

1. Rub-on tattoos - of course, we used Anna, Elsa, and Olaf.
2. Markers - Elise thinks that markers are a super special treat, since she only gets to use them with supervision.
3 Glue dots and glitter - I placed glue dots (you find them in the scrapbook section) on the eggs, then gave Elise a plate full of glitter. My girl loved rolling the eggs in glitter!

Do you dye Easter eggs?

3.18.2016

What's Up This Weekend?


Here's what's up this weekend at our house:
  • Easter Egg Hunt tomorrow morning! ( I hope that I remember to take the basket, I always seem to forget and the poor kid has to hunt with a grocery bag!)
  • Birthday dinner for my Mom tomorrow night. Elise is pretty excited for cake and cousins.
  • And a trip to the big city to see my Mom means time at Target and Trader Joe's!
  • I need to round up accessories for Elise's Easter outfit while I am at Target and finish Easter basket shopping.
  • I need some time to recover from 2 tough Boot Camp classes and a Cycle class this week. (Please don't ask me to lift my arms above my head or make me laugh - everything hurts!)
  • And of course, it is not a weekend without the usual house cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and meal prep.
What are your plans this weekend?

3.15.2016

Tipsy Tuesday (#350)

It was quiet over here last week, since we were all down with stomach bug stuff at some point or another. Since I am right in the middle of my spring cleaning (using this list as my guideline), I thought that we might all benefit from some reminders of germy spots.
 
Tip #350
 
SkinnyMom reminds us not to neglect these hiding places for germs.
 
1. Kitchen sponges: We don’t often think of sponges as the source of germs, but those little scrub brushes absorb soap, suds and scum. Make sure you’re switching them out or disinfecting them in the dishwasher or in a bleach mixture on a regular basis.
2. In between appliances: Sure, we wipe down the stove and the countertops throughout the day, but the nooks and crannies between appliances are frequently overlooked. Make sure to take the time to sweep out those cobwebs and forgotten scraps during your cleaning spree.
3. The microwave: It’s not that we don’t notice the splattered walls or the residue caked onto the inside of our microwaves, but it never seems like we have enough time to scrub it down. Well, no time is better than the present, ladies!
4. Refrigerator: Some of us are more diligent than others about wiping down those shelves and pitching any food that has expired, but it is also important to take the time to scrub out those bins and door shelves too. Beneath those rows of condiments and bags of veggies lies a whole world of hidden germs!
5. Reusable grocery bags: Just because these handy sacks are a wonderful way to help out the environment doesn’t mean you should neglect them during your spring cleaning! Treat them like your clothes and run them through the washer every couple weeks to keep those germs under control.
6. Tops of things: The words “out of sight, out of mind” tend to be the catchphrase of busy moms when it comes to getting our clean on. We scrub, vacuum, and disinfect everything in sight, but a lot of germs lie out of our view. Make sure to target hidden places like the top of the refrigerator and cabinets during your next cleaning spree.
7. Small electronics: Believe it or not, items like your cell phone, your kindle, the remote, and even your headphones are some of the dirtiest things in your home. They are constantly being touched by sticky fingers, dropped under the couch, and wedged between cushions. Cleaning them is as simple as scrubbing them down with a disinfectant wipe!
8. Light fixtures and fans: Have you ever looked up and noticed the hefty collection of bugs and dust cradled in your ceiling light? The arms of fans aren’t much better, and dirty fans can propel that dirt and dust into the air you breathe. This is the perfect task for your hubby!
9. Broom: Cleaning your cleaners is probably the #1 most forgotten chore out there! All those straw strands collect dust bunnies, dirt, bugs and mold, which makes it a veritable pool of germs! Be sure to use your vacuum head to suction out all that grime every once in awhile.
10. Blinds: Window blinds are dust hotspots, and they can be a real pain in the butt to clean! All you need is a dry sponge to wipe off all that grime, though. This might be the perfect task for a child anxious to help out Mom!
11. Gym bag: You wouldn’t go without a shower after hitting the gym, would you? Well neither should your gym bag! Chances are, your bag is lined with sticky Gatorade residue, protein bar crumbs, and a bunch of other debris that you didn’t even notice! Make sure you toss it in the washer every couple weeks to keep it nice and clean.

P.S. Dear Clorox and Lysol, we are solely responsible for the dramatic increase in your sales this 1st quarter. You are welcome.