Wednesday, March 25, 2009

WFMW: Collective Birthday Parties

Today's tip: Collective Birthday Parties

I have two Girlfriends from college that live within driving distance of me, and we have 6 kids between us. We love to celebrate birthdays. But, 6 birthday parties throughout the year, when we live 45-minutes to an hour and half away, is a bit much for our busy schedules (not to mention expensive).

So, we started having ONE birthday party a year, where us 3 girls and the kids get together to celebrate ALL our kids' birthdays at one time. We usually do it in the spring as that's when the majority of actual birthdays are. We draw names to buy gifts, and each kid gets ONE gift.

Why this works for us:
  • One party instead of six to fit into our crazy schedules
  • Our kids (and us girls!) get to spend quality time with each other without a bunch of other people and kids around (we all still have the normal kid birthday parties for families and friends)
  • Less expensive - we all pitch in - 1 person brings the cake, one is in charge of dinner, one brings snacks, etc.
  • 1 present per kid - the kids don't get a whole lot of stuff they don't need
  • We rotate between our houses and sometimes try to do a fun activity around kids still rave about going to C's house near Baltimore last year and walking around the Inner Harbor. They love a road trip.

Slightly off the topic, but this certain group of Girlfriends all turn 40 in 2010, so we are contemplating a collective girls only trip to celebrate our 40ths. This will definitely not involve kids!

See more tips We Are That Family and Happy Wednesday!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Progress for this Pack Rat

This weekend was a huge step forward for me in achieving one of my New Year's Resolutions: Defeating my inner Pack-Rat. We held a yard sale on Saturday, and it was a huge success. We have a couple hundred dollars in our pocket, and a LOT more room in our basement and attic!

I placed an ad in our local paper that ran on Friday and Saturday, and this was the big draw. I had originally grumbled about the $25 price tag of the ad, thinking it was cutting too much into our profits, but from my informal straw poll, that's how everyone knew about it (we had also placed signs leading people to us), so it was definitely worth it.

It was very cold Saturday morning (in the 30's!) but people still came out. All kinds of people - from yard sale professionals (they are the early birds) to curious neighbors, grandparents, young newlyweds, moms with a few kids in tow, and teenagers. It was fun to talk with people, and for the most part everyone was really nice.

Lots of people thanked us for having a sale so early in the yard-sale season. Apparently people have cabin fever and are eager for sales to start. So if you ever have a spring sale, have it early in the season, even if it's too cold.

We sold lots of stuff: 3 strollers, a bicycle, clothes (mens, womens, kids, baby), toys, VHS movies, and vinyl record albums. Yes, vinyl record albums. This was the surprise item that we sold a lot of. I had a milk crate of them in the attic, and as an afterthought put them out for a quarter each. I probably sold about 20 of them - people loved them. Apparently vinyl records are making a comeback - who knew?

Our strategy was to arrange tables in a large box fashion, and place a drop cloth in the middle for the toys, which worked beautifully. Hunter even fashioned a clothes rack with a narrow piece of wood and two stepladders. This worked great for people to really look through clothes.

And keeping with the "Clean House" tv show guidelines, nothing went back in the house after the sale was over (OK, a few things went back in, but 98% of it didn't!) Hunter hauled everything to Goodwill yesterday afternoon, and said he was very surprised that I was OK with letting it all go. It was definitely hard to see some stuff go, but at this point I'd rather have the space in my house.

The whole ordeal was a lot of hard work, but very enjoyable. We are especially enjoying the bit of extra cash and space, and vow to make this at least an annual affair. We're actually thinking of doing it again in the fall!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Quote of the Day

"Spring is nature's way of saying, 'Let's party!' "

--Robin Williams, American comedian and actor

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Quote of the Day

From Fox News:

"Duke basketball coach says Obama should focus more on the ailing economy than his NCAA brackets"

He's right. Seriously.

Read the article here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Easy (and green!) Way to Remove Tomato Based Stains

Works For Me Wednesday is hosted by We Are That Family.

My tip: Use the SUN to bleach out tomato stains on fabrics. This method is FREE and environmentally friendly!

Tomato stains. You know them. From Pizza, Spaghetti-o's, Ketchup, etc. (Why do kids karate uniforms have to be white???) Spray and Wash, although I swear by it, doesn't always work on these types of stains.

The sun does. That's right. Just lay your clothes in the sun and voila - an hour or two later, your tomato stain will be GONE. It even works through a window on cold days (yes, I've done it.) Keep checking on it though, you don't want to leave clothing out too long or the sun may fade your colors. This even works on hazy or partly cloudy days (probably due to the thinning ozone layer). Not so much on completely overcast days.

I learned this from my Mom, who gave me this advice back in college when I worked in an Italian restaurant and had to wear a white oxford cloth shirt every day. I would come home with all kinds of tomato sauce all over it (a testament to either my work ethic or clumsiness, I don't know which). I would just wash the shirt and hang it out on the line every day and it would look perfect.

Check out more tips here !

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Working Mothers don't love their kids enough?" WTF?

Yup, you heard that right. A friend of mine was in a local toy store this week and overheard the proprietor say "Mothers who work don't love their kids enough to stay home." Seriously. Are you kidding me?

This is a small higher-end toy store in our small suburban enclave. I don't go there often as it's a bit pricey, but I do occasionally stop there to pick up a a birthday party or baby gift when I don't have time to run around a big-box store. An added plus is that they beautifully gift wrap for free which is a boon for busy working parents.

I can't believe that someone actually follows this narrow, inane and very judgmental line of thinking. She's entitled to her opinion, of course, but why would she assert that view in full earshot of random shoppers? Who does she think buys her hoity toity overpriced toys?

Well, it will no longer be me. And judging by the comments my friend received on his Facebook post on the topic, a lot of others in our area won't either.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

JV's New Blog Name

JV doesn't like his blog name. It's a mix of his initials, but he thinks it's lame. So I told him if he wanted a new one, he should think one up. He did, pretty quickly. Hunter. He does insist on going off in the woods occasionally at 4am and sitting up in a tree with a large firearm, occasionally shooting at some poor unsuspecting animal, fortunately often missing it. So, therefore, JV is now known on this blog as Hunter.

Snow Day Scramble

Thanks to a lovely snowstorm that blanketed our area late Sunday into Monday, school has been closed for the past two days. Despite a forecast of 12 inches, we got between 5-6 inches of snow. My kids were thrilled to have snow days. I, however, did not have snow days. I'd have to burn a vacation day or sick time in order to stay home. Since I already burned 3 sick days in January for kids' illnesses, I didn't want to do that. I am not permitted to work from home.

On Monday, Hunter "worked from home" with them. He actually did work all weekend and is trying to kick a sinus infection, so he was more than happy to stay home. He worked for a while on my laptop and then took the kids out to shovel the driveway and sled down the small hill in our front yard. I braved horrendous road conditions in my SUV and worked in the office all day. By Monday night, the roads were clear, so I thought Tuesday would be business as usual.

Wrong. School was closed Tuesday, too, due to "icy conditions." I didn't witness any icy roads on my 30 minute commute into the office, but I guess some of the back roads had some drifting and black ice. Working from home was no longer an option for Hunter, since he couldn't get logged in due to server problems.

Typically Diva & Daredevil's before and after care program is at the school on snow days where the school offices are open (as they were Tuesday), so we thought that would work, but when Hunter showed up to drop them off, no one was there. Luckily, my Mom was home and willing to take them (along with my neice and nephew!) So, Diva and Daredevil had a fun day of sledding in my parents' back yard and drinking hot chocolate.

It would have been nice to have had a snow day. I don't really like snow, or cold weather at all for that matter, but it would have been fun to play with the kids then come in and have hot chocolate in front of the fire! Now that the snowstorm is over, bring on spring...I'm ready!