Friday, August 7, 2009

School Shopping

Today we started the long and sometimes tedious process of school shopping. A tradition that my children look forward to every year. A tradition, I also look forward to, but can dread because of the financial strain that it can pose on our checkbook. This year, I thought a head though and found myself prepared as we headed to the mall for the first of what will be many trips to the mall to prepare for the upcoming school year.

Our first stop was Macy's. We left the store with $140.00 in merchandise, but paid $0.00. That's right not a dime was spent from my checkbook. One might ask how did I accomplish such a feat? Well, last year when going over the terms of my credit card and rewards program, I noticed a great benefit. Accumulating 20,000 rewards points results in a $250 gift card. It took me a full year to build up enough points, but I did it. I knew last September that this particular card would be used for school clothes. I also have a Kohl's gift card, accumulated the same way. It is only $25.00 and will be used for the running shoes my son will need for cross country in the fall. One word of caution about credit card reward programs. They are worth nothing if you don't pay the bill off every month. The interest charges will exceed the rewards in a matter of a couple of months.

Our next stop was The Gap. There was a great sale there today. Buy one pair of jeans, get the 2nd for $10.00. I bought my son his jeans for the fall at a deep discount. Sadly, I did not have a gift card for The Gap, but I guess I can't expect to get all of their school clothes for free.

We did not finish our school shopping today. I want to take advantage of as many sales and coupons as possible. One advantage to working at the mall is that I always see the deals and specials. I can't complain about that.

I took advantage of a couple of specials this summer that resulted in free stuff for the family. Barnes and Noble has a reading program for the kids. If your child reads 8 books and records those books on a chart from the store, they can earn a free book from the store. All 3 of my children participated in that summer program. We were able to claim approximately $15.00 worth of free merchandise. Not bad for doing something that they love doing, reading.

The miniature golf course close to our house gives the kids at their school coupons for a free game. We used those coupons and had a fun afternoon of golf, all for free. I will be the first to admit that none of us have the foggiest idea of how to actually play and score miniature golf. We don't let that get in the way of our fun.

Every quarter Godiva Chocolate sends a coupon for a free product at the store. Recently we received a coupon for a free milk shake. The milk shakes are huge! More than enough for 3 people (I pass on that calorie laden, future heart attack!). The kids order a shake and the woman who works there splits it between 3 cups. Dessert while shopping for free! I bought a truffle for myself, I don't want to come across as a free loader.

As the weeks go on, I will continue to update on our school shopping. We have a lot to do still.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

When Driving

My daughter and I saw a terrible car accident today. Well, really, it shouldn't be called an accident, let's call it an avoidable crash. Which is what it was. My daughter and I were at a red light, it turned green and the cars proceeded to move. It was after all our right, the light was green. Then, some bonehead moving from the opposite direction, decided that was the perfect time to accelerate instead of stop. So, while the traffic started moving, he sped through. Hitting a car. Unfortunately for him, he flipped his car several times being ejected from the window. No seat belt either. My 10 year old had to see a man laying motionless at an intersection. She seems to be handling it okay, I can't get the image out of my head.

The moral of my story, or rant as some may call it, is this. Yellow means slow down and prepare to stop. Red means stop. Not, accelerate and hope that the other direction does not notice they have the right a way. It means Stop, plain and simple. So easy, that even 3 year old children can figure it out while coloring in the safety coloring pages they get at preschool during safety week.

Why am I so mad? Because my daughter was on the passenger side of my car, the direction that man was coming from. If I would have been at that light 1 to 2 seconds earlier, we could have been hit. She could have been a victim today in one man's mad dash to where ever he was headed. My guess, there is not a destination so important that endangering the lives of innocent victims is okay.

This story has some sad news and some happy news. The sad news, the man who set this tragedy in motion was taken to a hospital via Flight for Life. I don't know his status, the news sources say he has life threatening injuries. The happy news, the person he hit is okay. Thank goodness that the person who carries no fault in this accident will be home with her family this evening. She deserves no less. However, I am betting that today's event will linger with her for awhile, especially if the man who caused does not survive. The rest of us who saw this accident occur with our children at our sides get to play the what if game for the next few days, wondering what could have happened.

**Update to this story. I refrain from profanity when I blog out of respect. However, on this particular day I am going to choose to set that rule aside. I gave my statement to the police, I was told that after reviewing the tape, my car was much closer to being hit than I thought. So, bonehead is not sufficient. Selfish asshole is! I know he is in critical condition, but my child's life was endanger, hence, the name asshole. I make no apologies.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Here is a picture of one of our 6 garden beds. My husband has proven yet again to have a green thumb. This year's harvest should yield potatoes, corn, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, squash, kohlrabi, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. I am sure that I missed something. Thanks Eric for helping to contribute to my frugal cause. Come September, we should have a lot of free and organic food.