Making Memories

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As I have mentioned, a few times, we are going on vacation. Tomorrow the girl’s and I will hit the road for what is expected to be an interesting and memorable road trip. DisneyWorld here we come! Of course the girls have visions of Minney in their eyes and I have dollar signs. We have known for a significant amount of time that this vacay was going to happen and we committed months ago so we have had to think long and hard about our best way to save and  we have been very strategic in our planning.

Over the past few months, we had been setting money aside here and there in preparation but admittedly we had hoped that we could rely on that oh-so-important tax return to help us cover any last minute expenses and give us enough room to enjoy this trip without stress. Alas, things aren’t always what they seem or what you expect them to be and this was one of those lessons we all know- but sometimes secretly go against- don’t count your chickens before they hatch…or in our case, don’t count on or expect money until you have it hand. As I have also mentioned in past posts, we have the best family for multiple reasons, but truth be told they have been instrumental in the planning of this trip. Still there are costs associated with everything and for Brent and I backing out of the trip wasn’t an option. First, because this may be the only opportunity for a family vacay with Grammy Karen this year and second, because this was something we see as important in the “Making Memories” chapter of our girl’s lives. Yes, absolutely, I completely agree that you do not need to spend money or go extravagant places to make memories. However if the opportunity presents itself to be able to give these memories to your children who wouldn’t take advantage of it? We knew it would be a stretch and when we realized it would be a big stretch the idea of scrapping the trip didn’t even come up. Instead it was, “okay what are we going to do to make this work? We have this much, we need this much.” I took on a couple extra days in the world of part-time retail and we also both decided to make a big sacrifice. It wasn’t a “you give up something, I give up something” kind of conversation but more of a “I’d rather do this for the girls” So, I sold a gift Brent gave me for Christmas and Brent (willingly and actually in all his idea-I SWEAR) sold his big 3-0 birthday present. Tickets to the final four AND championship March Madness games. Yes, I know I have the BEST husband but I’d like to reiterate that this was HIS idea and I tried to talk him out of it because it was a collaborative gift but he was adamant; and vice versa in regards to my David Yurman ring. It was just what we wanted to do for family, because at the end of the day that’s what the “good life” is truly about. All of this additional income went straight into a separate bank account specific for the trip. None of our budgeting has counted this money whatsoever and there have been no debits from this account. It is all for Florida.

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Now that we are all ready to go. Our plan is to only spend ::::drumrolll::::$600 on everything. Gas, food, souvenirs and entertainment. I’m confident we can do it. I have been making Minnie ears and autograph books, and I have little toys and trinkets to occupy them as we travel. As for entertainment and fun at the hotel, I’m confident that with four cousins and a Grammy, we will have plenty to keep us entertained. I know that for Disney it doesn’t seem like that much and most people are probably laughing hysterically at this but I have pinned just about every “Disney on a Dime” tip possible and I am confident we can do it. Honestly, we don’t have a choice because relying on our checking account as a “back up” is absolutely not an option. We must make it, and we will, why? Because it’s DisneyWorld, where anything can happen 🙂

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It’s a metaphor…

To start, let me extend my biggest thanks to everyone for their awesome support. I’ve had a few days to make peace with not meeting my budget in the grocery store and I very much appreciate all of the encouragement. I know it’s only the first of twelve months and there will be so many trials and lessons that will be both good and bad that will teach us something; and that’s the whole point, right? It was just a bummer to not meet that first grocery-goal, and here’s why.

Hello, my name is Kerri-Ann and I am the precise definition of type-A. I like to be in control. I love calendars, deadlines, and color-coding. The bottom-line is often the only one I see. I have been accused of not being “gray” enough; this is where I learn. However this project is not about gray. It’s about control. This whole project is a control effort. See, I can’t control the fact that my Dad is gone, everything about his death at the age of 47 and the events that followed were so far out of my control that it gave me a feeling of spiraling through the air without any clue as to where I was going to land or what was next; admittedly this feeling is still there when I stop long enough to let my thoughts takeover. When I returned from being with my family it felt like I kept running into one road block after another. Whether it had to do with family, or our home, the girl’s being sick, child-care flux, health stuff, and of course our finances. Everything was swelling up around me and it felt like I was being pushed down by all of this issues and I couldn’t focus. I needed to pick something that would benefit everything, and as unfortunate as it is the biggest factor that could be changed with potentially the best outcome for everything, was our finances. We knew that if we tried hard enough, made significant changes we just might be able to gain some control over them, within reason. What I needed personally, was to plant my feet strongly and deal with the issues and loss in a constructive way; because if I didn’t then I was rapidly becoming the worse version of myself. A high-maintenance, unorganized, floundering, inattentive wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. This is why the bottom-line is so important to me…it’s a metaphor for the healing process. It takes time. It does not happen overnight. And now that I think about it in this regard, it makes perfect sense that I didn’t make my budget last week; but like everything else,  we will continue to do all we can that is within our power to live and heal and make change. As I learn to live with this big change of not having him here, we as a family will make sure that we do all we can to facilitate change and deal with the issues in our time, and in our own way, it does not happen overnight. It’s a healing and learning process. Does this make any sense outloud???

On a side note about our pending vacay, no worries our vacation funds have been set-aside and not built into our budget AT ALL. We have known for months that we would be going, even before I got my job, so we had to begin to set money aside so that we could still create these well-deserved memories for our girls. I’ll post later in the week all the details about our trip and planning ahead and some of the unexpected, but necessary, sacrifices made.

P.S. To all of my “stalkers” in the world of blogging you are my followers, and I cannot thank you enough. Please continue to stalk me 🙂 I didn’t know if anyone would even read this, and I am okay if no one ever does, but it feels great that you do. ox

Expert in training…(code for failure)

It is said that every expert started out knowing absolutely nothing…I’m trying to remind myself of just this as I am not dealing very well with tonight’s grocery trip. I admit it, I failed. I would like to be able to list exactly what went wrong but I am just not sure. Perhaps my coupon coding was wrong, my list off just slightly, I underestimated for meats but regardless, my 130$ grocery budget was pummeled by an additional 26.04$ rollover.

I have to say, I have never in my life experienced such an anxiety driven grocery shopping trip and I went sans children. I don’t know how extreme couponers do it??? As the cart built up, I kept thumbing through my coupons, keeping everything very well-organized, often referring back to my weekly flyer, as well as my list, but my nerves and that oh so familiar anxiety just kept growing and growing. As I approached check-out I did one final lap around the store being sure to double-check prices and make sure that I did not purchase one thing that was not needed or previously “written.” I went through the line and I’m the type of person who hands over my coupons and value card after the groceries have been rung* (lesson learned here) but my previous thought process was the enticing excitement of watching my total do the infamous “drop.” When you wait until the end the drop seems so much steeper, right? Wrong. In reality you are at higher risk for error. As I stood there watching, my initial total came to 206. 96$ PANIC! How the hell am I going to get that to 130??? I instantly knew I had flunked. Now the anticipation was about not ‘Did I make?’ but rather ‘How badly did I go over?’ A much, much worse feeling. When it was all said and done and the total had hit its final stopping point the cashier actually did a quiet clap with a big smile, seriously…”156.04! You did really well” she said. I responded with a “yeah, thanks. It wasn’t what I was hoping for :::pause for a sympathy coupon perhaps:::: but what fun is it to do it right the first time” She smiled sweetly as I swiped my debit card in complete shame.

Pantry=most unorganized spot in our home.

Our embarrisingly disheveled and unorganized- but very full-pantry.

In hindsight, I did okay. Brent (my optimistic light in any pessimist’s tunnel) commended me and offered much love and praise noting that I was able to get enough food to plan dinners for our family of 4 for the remaining month of March and 3 weeks in April (we are gone the first week); breakfast and lunch for a solid two weeks and all the snacks (adult & kid-friendly) for our upcoming road trip. I also bought a month’s worth of diapers, body wash, and shampoo; all things considered I should be proud. Maybe? I guess that’s a lot for 156$. My Dad would give me hell for going over my budget but not in a mean scrutinizing way but moreso in a humorous manner so to say “you’re harder on yourself than I will ever be” then he would look down smile big and say in all seriousness “it’s alright you’ll do better next time.” I love him.Here are some of my personal lessons learned* from today for next month:

  1. Overestimate for meats-weigh the pros and cons for buying family size vs. smaller portions
  2. Give your card and coupons in the beginning so that you can track the items as they ring up to ensure accuracy
  3. Print a copy or bring a list of your e-coupons already on your value card. It’s hard to remember in the moment
  4. Cross check the list with your significant other to make sure you don’t forget anything, #trashbags!

In the end, for this time, I’ll give praise right back to my two favorite men. Brent has a great point and I love that he is still proud of me and grateful for what I do even when I do go over budget; and my Dad’s right, lessons learned, next time I’ll do better. ❤

Anxiety-much?

Unfortunately with all things considered lately, anxiety has become my MO. I feel as though everything these past few weeks, even my skin is full of nerves and more recently even my excitement is full of anxiety.

First and foremost, is my fast approaching grocery trip. It’s this Thursday and I have $130 to get about 3 weeks worth of food for all meals, including snacks for our upcoming road trip (see below) and 30 days of dinners. Let it be known that I am not an extreme-couponer, nor do I have the desire to be; but clearly I like getting the best deal. I have contemplated my first price-match shopping trip but I’m saving that for a later date. I just don’t have the energy or wherewithal to take on that challenge anytime soon. For now, I’m going with what I know, e-coupons, print coupons, and a very well thought-out list that has been built around two things. 1. what we need and 2. our preferred grocery store’s weekly flyer. While shopping on a budget is not a new concept, I always go shopping with a budget, but I’ve never watched my bottom line so closely and now with the budget freeze I have no choice. Welcome, Anxiety!

My other form of anxiety comes from what should be, and is, a much-needed upcoming vacation. In a few weeks we will be hitting the road, meeting up with extended family and taking on Disney World. Our family has been beyond kind with selecting and taking care of the logistics and making this a fun-filled and well-planned trip that really only requires us to show up. Not to mention that I am eternally grateful that any vacay, with either side of our families, is sure to be an absolute blast. So, Easter weekend the girls and I will travel to Atlanta to visit my sister then move on to meet-up with my mother-in-law and her family as we drive to the one and only Orlando, Florida (Brent will be meeting us in the middle of the week).  Details and posts about the trip, budgeting, planning, and more specifics, to come at a later date. For now, all you need to know, is that growing up I spent a significant amount of time living in Kissimmee/St. Cloud. My earliest memories, oldest friends, and fondest memories of my Dad, reign from this location.

I played softball three out of four seasons with my Dad coaching for my entire childhood. The first home I remember was in this place and I’ll never forget sitting on the front step the day we moved in and my Dad saying, “Do you like it here?” and I said “yes” and he replied with “well, that’s good because you’re going to be here until college because that’s how long it’s going to take for us to pay it off” If you haven’t guessed yet, my Dad was a very open individual with a one-of-a-kind sense of humor. It took some people a bit to get used to but everyone loved his honesty and enjoyed his jokes. You can guarantee that he was saying what everyone else was thinking. Anyhow, Brent and the girls have never been to where I grew up and it’s been years since I have been back, needless  to say I am a tad excited. However, as the trip grows closer, I’m finding myself getting really anxious, honestly, on the verge of tears, because I know how hard it’s going to be to go back. The culmination of the flood of memories coming back, the laughs we had at Halloween parties, the water fights, pool parties, pitching to him as he sat on a bucket, and the laps I had to run around the driveway for missing the ball lol; all mixed with the reality that he’s gone… I’m so over the moon to be going “home” but I’m also very anxious at how this will affect my healing and emotions. I know in the end I won’t regret the visit but the thought of going without him here to share with what it’s like to be back make me anxious…at best.

Entertaining at NO COST-seriously!

A few weeks ago my former boss and now dear, dear friend, text me to say that she would be driving through Raleigh and wanted to stop for dinner. Of course I said,  “fantastic! Let me know, when and where, and we are totally game!” Earlier this week I heard from her and she said that they were hoping to be in town around 5:00p on Friday. I was over the moon. Then it occurred to me, spending freeze. We did not allocate any funds for this dinner, we are making zero “quick-trips” to the grocery store and as tempting as it is to meet up for a nice dinner with old friends, I have to stick to the agreement. So as any good Frugal Fowler hostess would do, I invited them over to our place, enticing them with a home cooked meal. Of course they were on board, she and her husband are no muss-no fuss, amazing individuals who truly would’ve stopped by for a smile and a hug. Although I quickly realized that bypassing dinner out was only half the problem because now, I had to come up with something to make and not to mention they were planning on being in town at 5:00p and I work until 4:30p. :::head in hands:::

For those who don’t know, we plan our dinners out by the month accounting for leftovers, brinner, and make-your own (MYO) nights. Fridays at our place, are usually laid back and often the girls get to pick our MYO dinner evenings, so I was really uncertain what to do; and I realize the argument here but I’m that girl that when we have guests I like to make something a little special. I was going through my freezer and pulling out one thing after the other, contemplating my options for making something even borderline fantastic, when it dawned on me that Jennifer has a gluten-allergy. CRAP!! I have never made anything gluten-free and usually I associate these allergies with expensive specialty products. Double crap!! So, just to recap here are my issues:

  • Dinner for 4 adults and 2 children in less than 24 hours
  • No budget
  • No planned meal
  • potential 30 min window of time to actually “cook”
  • No special trips to the store can be made
  • No Gluten can be included

What.the.heck. hmm I have no idea, then it dawns on me, I have no other options, the challenge awaits… my very first pantry raid. For anyone who doesn’t know what this is, a pantry raid is when you cook primarily utilizing pantry products. This could work, I just had to be cautious not to select items from other meals already planned out for the remainder of the month. I found chick peas, black beans, red kidney beans, tomato paste, tomato sauce  (all gluten-free) and tons of spices. Any guesses where I went with this???

Crockpot Chili. (BAM! as Emeril would say) I ended up adding half a lb of hamburger (being sure to leave enough for the meatballs for later next week) but it was perfect. I let it cook all day and my house smelled amazing when we got home. Thank goodness I did it this way too, because Jennifer and Alex were waiting for us in the parking lot when we arrived home from work.

Crockpot Chili

  • 2 cans tomato paste
  • 1 can Kidney beans/chick peas/black beans
  • 1 24 oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 16 oz can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp Cumin
  • 2 tbsp Paprika
  • Chili powder to taste
  • 1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 lb ground beef, chicken or turkey (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp garlic and onion powder

Mix ingredients well into slow cooker. Brown hamburger if using and then add to sauce, cook low and slow for 8-10 hours.

For dessert, because there has to be a dessert, I did a super easy flourless chocolate cake/torte that was a one-bowl, one hit wonder that took thirty minutes from start to finish. I used leftover chocolate chips, baking cocoa, eggs, oil, and sugar. Sooo unbelievably easy and perfect for the chocolate lover.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 1/4 package chocolate chips  (you know, when there are too many to eat but too few to use) 
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Melt chips in the microwave then mix ingredients well and pour into a cake pan dusted with cocoa instead of flour, bake at 325 degrees for 15- 20 mins.

I admit, before this challenge I would’ve run out to the store the minute I knew we had guests coming and spent a ton of money trying to put together the same caliber meal and justifying every penny…”because it’s for everyone else.” I wouldn’t have paid hardly, if any, mind at all to what I already had at the house. It’s not far-fetched to say that I probably would’ve wound up with way more than I needed both before and after our guests arrive ending up with way less in our bank account. As a Sicilian, we overfeed just about everyone and that means we shop with the intention of “having plenty.” Tonight, I am proud to say that I still have plenty of yummy leftovers of both chili and chocolate. I had a wonderful visit with our friends and entertaining did not cost us a single cent. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

Tip: Challenge yourself sometime, do your own pantry raid…you might surprise yourself!

The Black Friday Effect

Here’s the million dollar question, why is money so stressful?

Everything about even a single dollar bill; anything related to one’s finances, to me, is stressful and quite frankly, downright exhausting. Whether it’s earning it, having it, not having it, wondering when and how you will get it, even spending it…stress. stress. and more stress. I could never be the type of person to not pay any mind to the amount coming in and the amount going out. I remember growing up being taught, you never buy the first thing you see. Perhaps this is where it started?

Shopping for me is a task. I do not find joy in it :::shocking, I know:::: (see photo above). Instead, I spend more time anxiously seeking out an even better deal, because even if that one looks “pretty good” the fear of coming across something better and then having to come back and go through the return process…oi. BUT on the other hand, if I don’t get it, and then never find a better deal and I come all the way back…what if then, this is gone??? Not to mention the process of coming all the way back when I have all these other place to go. Oi VEY! These are the thoughts that rapidly play out in my mind as I look between the footie pajamas, the Pampers, and the Ben & Jerry’s, literally in a matter of seconds; and realistically I have two children toting them from one store to another-well, that’s just as daunting as sticker shock. Scientifically speaking, this is what I like to refer to as the Black Friday effect.

Black Friday; a manufactured holiday giving Americans an open-invitation to aggressively seek out products at moderate discounts exhibiting little to no self-respect or courteous discourse for shopping etiquette after the most empowering day of thanks and gratitude to which we base the foundation of our country. Yes, I have taken part. However, admittedly I am far too impatient to deal with massive lines. I did so one year for a diaper discount and I am ALL SET for ever doing that again. I do have my own BF ritual but will save that for a later post. The point here, Black Friday is all about getting the best deal. If you have your ducks in a row you can map out a plan because stores published their ads well in advance. Consumers know that this route almost guarantees that they will get the best deal. Unfortunately for everyday purchases, this can be done, but not very easily. Today, just calling around trying to find the best place to get my tires switched made me irritable. The whole world of competitive pricing is just pure evil for the consumer, well for this consumer. Of course, there are price matching opportunities and things I plan to explore in this little venture but I don’t foresee my little correlation of any money related issue leading to existential anxiety, subsiding. Interject Brent here saying, “you need to stop being so negative” he’s probably right…after all I am on a mission.

Party success!

Let me begin with, I’ve never wanted to splurge on Iced Coffee more than in this very moment. I’m exhausted!!! No need to worry though, I am snuggled on the couch with a headcold going absolutely nowhere.

Regardless of how I feel in the moment, I am happy to report that Madz’ 4th birthday NightOwl (pretend) Sleepover party was an absolute success; and even more importantly I DID IT ON BUDGET! The kids and grown-ups had a great time, we had plenty of food, and decor was a huge hit. I’ll spare all the details and get down to brass tax, here’s how I saved money this year and plan to do so in the future…

Welcome to the party! This handmade wreath was made from the recycled baby clothes left over from the owl favors (also below)

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$30.00 on Food and Decor: This was divided up with $10.00 at the Dollar Tree purchasing scaled down slumber party snacks (i.e. pretzels, chex mix, frozen berries, etc), paper and plastic utensils, a bday card, felt, and the round piece for the wreath.  I spent $8.00 on the owl sheet set I found on clearance; this was also a great find because the kiddo needed new sheets. The other $10.00 was spent at the grocery store. I had to do some reviewing of what sales were going on and pair up my coupons with said discounts but I was able to get yogurt (for the smoothie bar) bananas, mini franks with croissants, ice cream, and baby carrots.

$9.00 on her gift, Owl PJs for her to wear during her party.

This left me with $3.00 which was a good thing because I forgot baking soda and desperately needed air in my tire!!

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For favors, I took old baby clothes, no longer of sizes for either child, as well as an old pillow (against my husband’s better judgement) and went to town. I am not a huge fan of sewing so I was hesitant to go buy fabric and batting because truth be told, I didn’t know if I had it in me to even finish. Thankfully, I did though because “Owl Adoption” was a huge hit!Image

As happy as I am with the owls, I think my favorite “resourced” piece was the Happy Birthday sign. I took the napkins (already folded into fours) cut each square individually, taped them together, and taped a cut up index card to make the Happy Birthday banner. It doesn’t sound like much but I was really happy with how it came out.

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…and because this day is to celebrate my baby girl, as mama, I love going down memory lane; so I used some of my favorite pictures of her to decorate the rest of the house here and there. It’s a great way to get those pictures out of the albums for a while and share some favorite stories about the guest of honor.

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Let them eat cake…

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I understand that some people go all out and spend beaucoup bucks on  baked goods but let me say that a good recipe can not only save money but be tons of memories in the making. I may not make the most beautiful cakes but I have a blast doing it and I (usually) always have the ingredients on hand to do so. No powder sugared icing here. In addition to being a cheapskate, (oh, sorry…frugal minded), I’m also a big proponent of getting the kids in the kitchen. Perhaps my favorite memory of this birthday was when Madz and I were making her cake and she said “mommy, you make the best cakes.” Needless to say, I melted. What a super big, and sweet, 4-year old!

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March “Madz”ness

Admittedly, we haven’t had much of an issue not eating out. Granted, this is only day 7.. hmm  well, and there was that one moment when I desperately wanted Starbux but keeping my integrity, and my word, I opted for the free k-cup at the bank to soothe my craving instead. None of this is important because again, so far, Day 7=success!

Anyhow, with the first week behind us I can feel the tension in my shoulders and my level of anxiety slowly starting to rise as this weekend rapidly approaches. For many, including Brent, March is about basketball and we are bball people, but more-so in the Fowler Family, March is all about Miss Madilyn Ruth. And in a few days on March 10th, Madz will be having her 4th birthday and birthday party. As fun as this is, it’s also problematic because anyone who knows me knows how I am with party planning, especially for the ladies I love. Now, let’s be realistic as to who the writer here is, you can rest assured I’m not talking MTV’s my Super Sweet 16 or anything. I have zero desire to compensate money for love however, I do love creating memories for my girls and watching them light up with glee at all the themed decorations and exude pure joy and excitement of their very own party makes me all sorts of warm and fuzzy. I want them to look back on their baby albums (note to self: fill baby albums) and see these fun memories come to life.

This year Madilyn, with a little help from me and a LOT of time-hers, not mine- on Pinterest, has decided on a pink owl themed party. Of course, as with everything else, we set the budget on March 1. I’ve got $40 total for all things party related; including food, gift, misc items and should the retail-gods be willing…pink owl Pajamas. I don’t quite know how I’m going to do this, and lord knows if I’m going to break my own challenge it would be much more acceptable (in my mind) to do if it were for my little girl’s birthday;  but again, I have my integrity, my word, and my commitment to this project on the line so as much as I hate sewing I think I foresee some homemade crafts in my very immediate future.

My love for diamonds…

I’m more exhausted after a weekend of NOT spending money then most weekends when I do. For weeks I have not been able to shut my mind off so needless to say sleeping as been on the bottom of my well-prioritized checklist.

I suppose there is no better time than the present to  bring out the true force behind this project, my Dad. He was a man with a lasting impression. No one EVER forgot him. He is the reason I love diamonds, baseball ones even more than the traditional. He taught me that you just keep your head down, stay focused, and work hard. It’ll pay off. Admittedly, he wasn’t always right he made his share of mistakes, but he owned them and learned from them; and in the instance of working hard and moving forward, he was right. He taught me all I know about money, and let it be said, he is the reason I am (let’s call it what it is) …cheap. On the flip side, he was also the first to find pleasure in the small things. He never worked on his birthday, loved free coffee, and he would use every last penny he had to spend a day making memories with his family. Things weren’t always easy, but as a child, I never knew the difference.

I guess in the end, we set out to do things just above. Make things that much easier for our own family. I don’t want to supercede him, or my mom, but I do want to take the principles and drive he instilled in me to max. I can see him on the other side of this conversation, saying “yup, you do it better than I did; and your kids will do it better than you. Just keep working hard. The sun’ll come up.”

I miss him.

Packing a Picnic

I have quickly learned that forward thinking is the best way to be proactive, this really isn’t any surprise but I’ve also learned it is rather a lot of effort. Yesterday was a great example of this. We set out to go Prom dress shopping with my 18-year-old cousin, my girlfriend and her daughter, my (almost) four-year old and my 19 month old. Knowing we would be out through the bulk of the day I packed an abundance of both healthy and unhealthy snacks as well as a lunch and drinks for all of us. Now before anyone gets up and up about me intentionally bringing “unhealthy” snacks on this adventure; these consisted of fruit snacks and cheese sandwich crackers and furthermore let me just say, you will do whatever you have to do in the moments of meltdown standing in the middle of an urban mall on a Saturday and while on a budget freeze Old McDonald and ice cream bribes are null and void. I digress. My planning efforts allowed me to really evaluate the plan before leaving the house. Why is it when we know we are going out and have a ton to do that once we get out we “surprise ourselves” with the “oh, I’m hungry.” “Wow, it’s lunchtime already”  and then there’s the blame it on the children excuse “yeah, the kids really need to eat, let’s just stop and grab them something” $20.00 later (at the minimum) you feel gross, have typically zero nutrition and usually are in a food-coma so you just wind up going home. Does this make any sense??? Why did we ever do this?

At the end of our adventure, we went to three malls, were gone for about 4.5 hours and didn’t spend a single cent!

New Tip: For weekend shopping and outings, pack a lunch for the car, park, or eat outside in a courtyard on nice days and then go into the mall or store and take advantage of a samples. The girls got great FREE frozen yogurt samples. They were yummy and the perfect size for the munchkins; and did I mention FREE?!