Saturday, January 31, 2009
Here are our January saving numbers:
Coupon Savings: $98.83
Coupon/Sale Shopping Combined Savings: $643.14
Rebates Sent In/Pending: $73.49
Gift Cards Earned: $40.00
Our grand total of money saved in January is: $756.63
I am amazed by this number! A lot the saving came through sale shopping and buying items ahead. This includes buying gifts ahead. I am looking forward to updating these totals each month! For more stories of saving, check out Super Savings Saturday!
Friday, January 30, 2009
For today, I want to share with you five of my favorite (free!) reading resources for preschoolers. The sites range from places where you can get information on early literacy and language development to sites where your child can play reading games and participate in reading activities.
Zero to Three: Early Language and Literacy
The Zero to Three site has a variety of articles and helpful tools on many different topics for ages birth through three. This part of the site focuses on early literacy and language development and includes information on how to share books with babies and toddlers, choosing books, and helping your child to talk.
Reading Rockets includes information not just for early literacy but for older children learning to read and struggling to read as well. Articles in the early literacy section of the site include information on typical development in a young child, advocating for preschoolers with disabilities, and ways to make reading relevant.
Starfall uses interactive stories, music, and activities to allow children a chance to participate in a variety of reading activities. Children can hear the sounds different letters make, read along with online stories, see sign language letters demonstrated, and much more!
Little Giraffes was formerly a Kindergarten teacher's classroom web site, but is now part of A to Z Teacher Stuff. I have used the story props section many times to create flannelboard stories to accompany a variety of books and rhymes. Also visit the other teaching sections for additional thematic and subject teaching ideas.
Preschool Express by Jean Warren
Many different preschool topics are covered at this great site. Alphabet activities, songs, and seasonal themes are just a few of the literacy items available here.
What are some of your favorite free reading resources for young children? I'd love to check them out! For more frugal tips, visit Frugal Friday!Read here for more I Am Blissfully Domestic!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Teaching Tiny Tots also has all of the reading theme challenge books for February selected, so stop by and participate!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The Centurion's Wife (Acts of Faith, Book 1) By Davis Bunn and Janette Oke
I have read a number of books by this pair of authors and have enjoyed them all immensely. This book is intriguing and thought provoking. It is historical fiction, but set immediately after the crucifixion of Jesus. Some of the characters in the book include Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas. It is so interesting and has made me ask lots of questions about the Biblical account of these events.
Simple Steps By Karen Miller
In my continuing quest for activities to work on with my daughter, I checked this book out from the library. So many books are really geared for older toddlers and preschoolers. This one has a wide variety of activities that are developmentally appropriate for younger children. It is organized in chapters by the type of learning the activity promotes. (Fine Motor, Cognitive, Sensory, Early Literacy etc.) I am looking forward to trying some of these activities with my daughter and will have to post about the ones that we try!
Baby Fingers: I'm Feeling . . .: Teaching Your Baby to Sign
I haven't taught my little one too many signs, but "more" was one that I used with her early on, and then when she didn't seem to pick it up, I didn't continue with it. Imagine my surprise when last week, she started signing and trying to say more! All of a sudden, she is picking up other signs, too! ("Book" and "eat"!) I got this book to show her and to teach myself a few more signs.
Have any of you done any signing with your baby? What is on your bookshelf this week?
Monday, January 26, 2009
Snow By Manya Stojic
Large, clear illustrations, bold simple text, and a variety of animals make this story wonderful for younger toddlers and preschoolers.
Bear Snores On By Karma Wilson
This is one of my favorite books and series of books. While bear is sound asleep in his cave, his friends are having a party right outside. The rhyming text and detailed illustrations make this an especially enjoyable book.
Little Fern's First Winter By Jane Simmons
Fern is playing hide and seek with a cousin when Fern's first snow ever begins to fall. Lovely illustrations depict Fern's first encounter with snow.
Old Bear By Kevin Henkes
Beautiful illustrations by Caldecott winner Henkes make this a charming book to read.
In addition to reading these books, I found some fun fingerplays and songs!
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
When my daughter was about 8 months old, a friend mentioned she was going to cloth diaper her new baby. I listened to what she had to say, but didn't think it was for me. Within a few days of this conversation, Baby Cheapskate held Cloth Diaper Week, full of posts telling everything you'd ever want to know about cloth diapers. I was hooked. I had no idea there were so many different kinds of diapers - prefolds, pockets, all-in-ones - it was amazing! And they were so cute...Even the care of cloth diapers didn't seem so daunting after this week of posts. Before the end of the week, I had ordered my first cloth diapers from Diapers.com - a 5-pack of Kushies All-In-Ones (These are available a little cheaper at Wal-Mart, but I used a $10 off coupon at Diapers.com).
We don't cloth diaper full-time. We use them primarily during the day and figure it cuts our use of disposable diapers by about 1/2. I have a hodge podge of diapers and I really like all of them pretty well. We have 9 all-in-ones, 4 pockets, 2 unbleached Indian prefolds, 1 cover and a few Gerber prefolds we use to line and stuff some of the diapers.
As far as costs go, here is our cost breakdown:
- $50.00 for 5 Kushies All-In-Ones and a roll of flushable liners
- $41.00 for 3 Blue Penguin All-In-Ones
- $4.00 for a Bumkins wet bag
- $22.00 for a Swaddlebees pocket diaper and a Blueberry All-In-One purchased from the Swaddlebees outlet store
- $12.00 for a bumGenius! 2.0 Pocket diaper (These are discontinued.)
- $11.50 for a Haute Pocket diaper
- $9.95 for a Mommy's Touch pocket diaper
- $15.00 for a Leslie's Boutique wet bag
- $12.00 for a Swaddlebees ABC cover and a small wet bag, also purchased from their outlet store
Our total costs over the last 6 months are at about $177.45. I try to keep disposable diaper costs pretty low and use a $0.15 per diaper cost as my goal. Based on this, it will take us about 10 months (we have about 4 months to go) of cloth diaper use to break even on this endeavor. There is also the ability to use these cloth diapers for future children.
I know we have an assortment of brands and kinds of diapers, but I think we like our all-in-ones the best. Kushies don't always get the best reviews, but they are our favorites.
For us, it isn't completely about cost, either. We like that we are putting fewer disposable diapers into the trash and exposing our daughter to less chemicals. Plus, cloth diapers really are cute.
For more information about cloth diapering, try these great resources:
I'd love to hear about your experiences with cloth diapers. Do you have any favorite brands? Why do you choose to cloth diaper?
For more frugal tips and stories, check out Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Friday!
For other articles about all things domestic, check out I am Blissfully Domestic - Week 13!
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
by Laurie Halse Anderson
I have been trying to get an idea of what books are contenders for the Newbery and Caldecott Medals this year. The awards are to be announced on Monday, January 26. This one seems to be a front-runner for the Newbery, so I decided to read it ahead of time to see what I think. The book is compelling; the language is rich. The novel is steeped in history and the characterization is marvelous. My only concern so far is that I find it to be more of a young adult book due to its content and subject matter. If it is awarded the Newbery Medal, that would indicate it is a book for the 12 and under set. We will have to see!
A Promise for Spring
by Kim Vogel Sawyer
This author has a series of contemporary fiction books depicting a woman who returns to her Amish roots after many years. This book is a historical fiction novel set on a Kansas sheep ranch. It was a very nice, enjoyable read.
Other than these books, I am looking at all of my free magazines that I have found through MoneySavingMom here, here, here, here, and here, and Deal Seeking Mom. Check them out to see if any are still available! I've already received Kiwi and Traditional Home and am waiting for several more.
What's on your bookshelf this week?
Monday, January 19, 2009
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Then, we got some 75% off toy deals at Target and some extra 50% off clearance at Old Navy. We bought a few things for our daughter for next year, but we got a bunch of stuff to give to our local Salvatian Army's Angel Tree next Christmas. This is the third year we've gotten these items at this Old Navy sale. The savings there is usually 75% off or more! The extra 50% is good through Monday, January 19th and is online also with the code EXTRA50. Stop in to your local store or online and see what kinds of deals you can find!
Stop by Money Saving Mom's Super Savings Saturday to see how others did this week with their shopping and saving!
By Lois Ehlert
Ehlert's illustrations and simple text work well for the youngest children, but her books always have additional details to discuss with older children. This book about making a snow family is a great choice!
The Snowy Day
By Ezra Jack Keats
This classic picture book was the winner of the Caldecott Medal in 1963. It takes children on the adventures of a little boy in the snow.
The Mouse That Jack Built
By Cyndy Szerkeres
This cumulative tale is a spinoff of the classic "House That Jack Built". It has darling illustrations and rhyming text.
Snow Surprise (Green Light Readers Level 2)
By Lisa Campbell Ernst
This book about snowmen is designed for beginning readers, but would work as a read aloud book as well.
For songs, fingerplays, crafts, and additional book titles for this theme, try some of these great websites!
What are your favorite snowmen stories? Do you have a great "snowy" craft to share?
Visit I am Blissfully Domestic - Week 12 for more great posts about decorating, cooking, family fun, finances, and more!
Friday, January 16, 2009
- Black Raspberries
How hard are these things to grow? Any resources I should take a look at? Any suggestions to add to my list? I guess in this cold (freezing!) weather, I am dreaming of spring!
I did a quick tally and found that I have at least $150.00 in books, magazines, and other materials checked out right now. Granted, I'm too frugal to ever buy all of those items, and defininitely not at full price, but the library allows me to read and review so many different things for free!
In addition to books and magazines, libraries carry DVDs, CDs, CD-ROMs, book kits, and more. Some libraries might have teaching resources, totes of materials to use for teaching your kids...the list goes on and on. If you can't find an item, try using interlibrary loan to get things from another library in your library's system. It usually doesn't take terribly long to get an item, depending on the number of items available and the demand for the item.
Libraries have lots of wonderful free programs as well...storytimes, computer classes, history presentations, and book discussions. If you haven't been to your library in awhile, plan a visit. You may be surprised what you find there! Libraries are great places for frugal fun! What are some of your favorite things offered by your local library?
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style By Kim France and Andrea Linett
I enjoy looking at Lucky magazine, so when I saw this at my library, I had to pick it up. I'm hoping for some fashion inspiration...hopefully something I can create by "shopping" my closet or looking at some of the end of the season sales.
What are you reading this week? Drop me a comment and let me know what I should take a look at next!
Monday, January 12, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
1. Coupons - I've always used coupons, but now I am much more strategic in my use of coupons combined with sales. There are so many great blogs that do a wonderful job of matching coupons to sales for you. Check out some of the blogs on this page for some great places to start. I'm tracking my coupon/sale savings for groceries this year, and I hope to post some updates here.
2. CVS - I am by no means an expert on CVS shopping, but I have been able to learn how to successfully roll my ECBs to regularly get free items for our family and also to be able donate items to other people.
3. Amazon.com Seller Central - All of us know we can buy on Amazon.com, but this year, I learned how easy it is to sell on Amazon. Very easily, I have been able to make around $119.00 this year by selling some of our older books and CDs. It has been much simpler than organizing and holding a garage sale, and fairly lucrative.
4. Ebates - If you do any shopping online, check out Ebates for an easy way to earn additional money back on a wide variety of online purchases. This is done through a check sent out quarterly. One caution with using Ebates: you can only use discount/free shipping codes that Ebates provides. If you use other codes, it can negate your cash back from Ebates.
5. Rebates - Check out Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Staples for great rebates that can allow you to get a variety of items for free.
A few things additional things I would like to try this year for some additional savings/earnings are mystery shopping and eBay. Do you have some other ways of saving/earning extra money?
Friday, January 9, 2009
- Playing in the snow with my daughter for the first time. She loved it!
- Finding a set of three frames that I had been watching at Meijer for 90% off - only $2.49! What do you think? Put it up as is for winter decor or try to change the words in the middle?
- Finding a lovely winter plaid dress for the little one for next Christmas - another 90% off find for only $2.19!
- Making a mini photo book for my little one using pictures of family. She doesn't get to see many of them very often, so I want her to have a chance to learn to recognize each person.
I'm off to have some hot chocolate! Have a wonderful weekend!
1. Reduce gift spending by approximately 1/3, but not our gift giving.
2. Continue to prepay mortgage.
3. Create a CD ladder for savings.
4. Continue to save for daughter's college fund and general savings account.
We tend to add to these goals as the year goes by, but we are starting with these! I'm enjoying reading everyone else's goals as well. They are all so inspiring and motivational! Who knows, I might use a goal that I read for our list, also!
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
- Under My Hood I Have a Hat By Karla Kuskin
This simple rhyming tale is perfect for young children. It tells about those cold winter days when you are so bundled up, you can barely move!
- One Mitten By Kristine O'Connell George
A girl enjoys playing inside with first one yellow mitten, then both of her mittens before going outside to play in the snow.
- All You Need for a Snowman By Alice Schertle
- Snow Day! By Lynn Plourde
- Frozen Noses By Jan Carr
This simple story is full of rhyming words and fun in the snow!Activity:
An additional activity that I did was mitten matching. I printed out a set of colorful mittens here and had the children help me to find the two that match. In addition to having them match by color, you could write letters on the mittens and have the children match the letters or even vary it by putting the uppercase letter on one mitten and the lowercase letter on the other to practice recognition of upper and lowercase letters. The possibilities are endless!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
I'm rereading this book for a book discussion group at the library. I am really enjoying it! It is a great fantasy tale for children in grades 3-5 and would make a good read-aloud book for younger children. It won the John Newbery Medal in 1972.
Toddler Play By Dr. Wendy S. Masi
I have a 14 month old daughter, so I am always looking for new activities to try with her. This book is full of activities for children ages 12 months - 24 months and is organized by age level.
Let's Knit: The Beginner's Guide to Knitting By Monette Satterfield
One of of my teen book discussion girls taught me to knit last month, and I haven't had time to practice! This book has illustrations to help with various knitting stitches and simple project ideas. I'm going to try a scarf first!
What books are on your bookshelf (or bedside table) right now? I would especially love to hear about books or web sites that have lots of good activities for young children!
Monday, January 5, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
- Each week, I plan to provide you with some of my favorite picture books for young children. Often, these will be seasonal titles, but I plan to highlight a specific picture book author/illustrator each month as well.
- On My Bookshelf will be a way for me to share with you what I am currently reading.
- Once a week, I will highlight a recipe, frugal craft project, or family activity.
- Expect additional posts this month on ways I've been able to earn extra money for our family, websites that focus on reading resources for preschoolers, our cloth diapering experience, and a monthly re-cap of our saving and earning for January 2009.
Friday, January 2, 2009
1. Each day, I try to do some kind of exercise. We don't have a treadmill in our smallish (just over 1000 sq. feet) house, so I alternate between strength training and indoor walking. Several years ago, I started strength training with the help of the book Strong Women Stay Slim by Dr. Miriam Nelson. I stopped doing the strength training for a while, but am getting back into a routine with it. The indoor walking works well and I got myself a DVD from Amazon for my birthday. The DVD is Leslie Sansone: 5 Day Slim Down. It has 5 different one mile walks that can be done independently or combined. I also have one Leslie Sansone videotape and have gotten different DVDs of hers from the library as well. Of course, my favorite thing is getting out for a walk outside...we go whenever we can, but in Ohio in the winter, that isn't always possible.
2. Limiting sweets. I love sweets. I haven't eliminated them entirely, but I find just having a little bit - a single piece of chocolate, small portion of light ice cream, etc. helps to satisfy the need for sweets without blowing all my daily calories!
3. Drinking water with meals. I stopped drinking most pop when I was pregnant and have tried to continue with this. I drink 100% fruit juice with lunch to sneak in a serving of fruit, but try to drink water every day at dinner. Sometimes I jazz it up with iced tea mix or something like that, but only occasionally.
I don't own a scale, so I gauge my weight on how my clothes fit and weigh myself around twice a month at my parents' home. I am looking forward to reading other tips and tricks to keep me going in the right direction this winter! Check out Mommy Snacks Fat Burnin' Friday for more!
1. Read the Bible more. I even found this blog that lays out a framework for reading the Bible in a year, with devotions to accompany each reading. My husband and I may give this a try!
2. Maintain my 2008 weight loss by continuing to exercise and pay attention to portion sizes and food choices. I had a baby in November 2007. My goal was to be down to my pre-baby weight by around her birthday, which I did. However, last year, I gained 7 pounds between November and April, which I had to re-lose. I'm hoping to maintain my weight this winter, especially. More on this coming up!
3. Continue to work on our financial goals. Each year we develop a small set of 4-5 financial goals. These goals this year include pre-paying a portion of our mortgage, setting money aside for our daughter, setting up a CD ladder, and decreasing our total gift spending, but not our gift giving. Over this last year, I have learned many strategies for stretching our money, so I hope to apply what I've learned to these specific goals.
4. Take time to do crafts, cook, and bake - learn to knit, find simple crafts to do with my daughter, make cards, scrapbook, and make items for our home and for gifts.
5. Enjoy time with my family!