11 Feb
2014
Posted in: Regular Entries
By    78 Comments

Time to Change

Much in the same way one might come to the unfortunate conclusion that to change one’s body for the fitter/slimmer one must exercise and regulate one’s intake of fun-size Milky Ways, Simon and I have come to the conclusion that to change our life for the less chaotic, we need to front-load our days, which is just a fancy way of saying we need to go to bed earlier so we can wake up earlier. That we came to this decision at 11:45 p.m. on a school night is worth a point and a laugh, so go ahead, we deserve it.

Simon and I usually go to bed around 11ish and get out of bed–verrrrrry reluctantly–around 8ish, having been woken up at 6ish by the sole member of our family who can function happily on less than eleven hours of sleep. (It’s fair to say I resent him for this at the same time I’m jealous of his superpower.) If those of you who wake up at 5:30 every day will kindly unwrap your fingers from my throat, let me acknowledge loud(ly) and clear(ly) that we’re incredibly lucky to have schedules that allow us to roll in to our roles at around 9:30 or 10 each day, even though that flexibility is doing nothing for the larger problem that is always feeling like we don’t have enough time to take care of basic necessities, which on too many days includes showering (gross).

Since our usual post-kids-in-bed routine is to flop down on the couch enjoy (well, “enjoy”) some quality programming (recent gems have included Big Trouble in Little China (a.k.a. Big Budget for Little Value) and Funny Games, which we turned off after it turned our stomachs too many times in the first ten minutes), obviously this mindless media-fest, cherished as it is, is the most expendable of our daily activities and therefore the first to be marched, blindfolded, to the chopping block. Of those two hours we spend on the couch each night, if we subtract at least one from the end of the day and add it to the beginning of the day, will we magically find our lives transformed for the better? I don’t know. And I don’t really want to try, although I’m going to do it anyway because blah blah “being an adult.”

(But oh god, don’t even get me started on the time change coming in three weeks. I’ll trade an hour of daylight for an hour of shut-eye every single time.)

What I need is to find a way to make my first zombie hour of the day more productive than my last zombie hour of the day. Or I need to find a way to be less of a zombie. Actual question: Is there a way to train oneself to live on fewer hours per sleep each night? I feel positively rotten if I get less than ten hours–always have–but the fact is that I need more than fourteen waking hours to do all the things I need to do, and although I’m not so great at math anymore, I think this means I need to sleep less.

You people who seem to have time to read a book per week and keep up with multiple television shows and never go to bed with dishes in your sink–how in the world do you do that? One of my pseudo-resolutions for this year is “Thou shalt not compare thy own household to households that include any combination of the following: (a) a non-working parent, (b) a housekeeper, and/or (c) zero children,” but that’s obviously not going to stop me from grasping those people by the hands and begging them to tell me their secrets. Is there a potion? I will drink your potion.

5 Feb
2014

All the Colors of My Heart

If I had any nuts to give, I’d give my left one to be able to write an actual blog post about things that have nothing to do with work. I want to update you on the kindergarten situation and how my BABY is EIGHTEEN MONTHS OLD and said his first sentence yesterday (“More broccoli!”) and how Wombat turned fiiiiiiiiiive and is suddenly a little grownup person (sometimes) and how, goddammit, I’m still going to do that long year-end wrap-up meme even though it’s February. (Our Christmas tree is still up; does that make things better or worse?) Alas, it’s a worky time of year for me, plus my MIL’s coming to town this afternoon, plus I’m throwing a birthday party in three days (aaaaiiieeee) and I still have to make the children shirts to wear (dum dum dum dum dum), so for today all I have for you is yet! another! way to use toilet paper tubes for something other than toilet paper. Is this what they call personal branding? Am I the Toilet Paper Tube Lady?

***

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There are two types of crafts:

(1) things you make with your hands that serve some greater purpose, and
(2) crafts you do for the sake of crafting.

The former category includes things like upcycled vases or decorated T-shirts or tote bags or what-have-you. The latter I call “crafty-crafts,” and you pretty much just have fun making them and then hang them on the fridge or display them on a shelf and then throw them away keep them foreverrrrrrr. Kids love crafty-crafts because they have more freedom and the process is often just one step above mom-sanctioned mess-making. My kids especially love them because I don’t try to micromanage their creativity. Too much.

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Look at me, being so light and breezy that I don’t even care that the baby is EATING THE PAINT AH MAH GAH HASHTAG POISONCONTROL.

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(Use nontoxic, washable craft paint and you’ll be fine. And so will your children.)

Full instructions for this TP tube (yessss) valentine heart stamp craftstravaganza are over at Work It, Mom, along with more photos of the things we created. (We made balloons and flowers and butterfly wings and Wombat wore a superhero mask the whole time.)

Here’s a thing to pin if you’re into that stuff:

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And here’s what I just now decided we’re doing for preschool valentines this year because it’s not child labor if they’re having fun, right?

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31 Jan
2014
Posted in: Regular Entries
By    164 Comments

Turning Cartwheels at Target (Sponsored)

There are two things I think we can all agree on:

1. Saving money is awesome, and
2. Target is awesome.

Combine the two and you’ve just described one of my favorite pastimes, if not America’s official national pastime, especially now that we have a handy little helper called the Target Cartwheel app (available for free on both iPhone and Android platforms and accessible on computers and tablets.)  Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 2.07.58 PM  I heard a lot of buzz about Cartwheel from online friends before I tried it myself, because although I could tell people we’re excited about it, I wasn’t sure what exactly it was. So here’s the deal (and I’ll try not to sound too infomercially while I describe the features):

Cartwheel is a coupon app you use to get “secret” discounts when you’re shopping in an actual brick-and-mortar Target store. (So, yes, you’re going to have to put on pants for this one. I’m sorry.) There are two ways you can use it: (a) you can use your phone, tablet, or computer to “shop” for coupons, which you add to a virtual cart, the contents of which will be summarized in the form of a barcode that your friendly Target cashier will then scan at the register and (b) you can use your smartphone scan an actual in-store item to see if it has a hidden Cartwheel discount applied to it. There are hundreds of coupons available and–best thing!–you can stack coupons, and not just on a single transaction but on a single item. You can use one manufacturer coupon, one Target coupon, and one Cartwheel coupon on the same thing, plus you can use your REDcard discount on your entire haul. Example: Say you’re buying something priced at $10. If you have a $1 manufacturer coupon, a $1 Target coupon, and a 25% Cartwheel coupon, you’ve just saved $4, or 40%. If you use your REDcard, you get an extra 5% off your entire transaction, bringing your $10 item down–if I’m doing this right–to $5.70. Sweeeet.

Since my brain tends to get a little claustrophobic when I use my phone for multipage tasks, I do all my Cartwheel shopping on my computer first. From Target.com, there’s a link to Cartwheel, and that’s where I do all my browsing to build up a nice cart of savings. You can browse by category (kids clothing, groceries, home furnishing, electronics, etc.) and then sort your deals by expiration date, discount amount, and things like that. Basically, you tell the app what you want deals on, rather than vice versa. Here’s what my Cartwheel cart looks like right now:

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 2.47.21 PM

Look at that: 25% off Shaun White clothes for boys (i.e., most of Wombat’s back-to-school wardrobe), 20% off items in the dollar bins (i.e., my favorite way to self-medicate), and 20% off Mossimo Women’s Jeans, which is awesome because their Denim Leggings are perfection.

What you can’t see in that screen shot is the barcode at the top of the page that’s storing all my personal coupon info. All I do is print off the page and take it into the store with me. If you want to do your browsing on your phone, you can do that too, and then, of course, there’s the cool feature that lets you scan items at the store to see if there’s a Cartwheel deal available. See cute shoes that you want but can only justify if they’re on sale? Scan them and voila, Cartwheel just scored you 20% off. (I’ve seen deals range from 5% off to 40%.)

One thing to know: there’s a limit of one Cartwheel barcode scan per transaction, but you can use six Cartwheel barcodes per day, so what this means is that if you bring in your printout from home but then add things via the app while you’re in the store, you can use both barcodes in the same day, you just have to use them on separate transactions. I hope that makes sense.

I hope all of this makes sense, and I truly, truly hope this saves you some money.

There are all kinds of extra things to know about Cartwheel (how to link it with Facebook, how to NOT link it with Facebook, how to earn badges to access extra content, etc.), but I imagine your patience is wearing and you just want your chance to win some Target spending money already.

So you want to win a $1,000 Target gift card? Answer the following question and you’ll be entered to win (one winner will be picked from participating blogs):

What’s your favorite thing to shop for at Target? (Mine is clothes.) (And beauty products.)
(And housewares.) (And holiday decor.) (And anything on sale.) 

Sweepstakes Rules:

No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.

The Official Rules are available here.

This sweepstakes runs from 1/30 to 2/28.

Be sure to visit the Target Cartwheel brand page on BlogHer.com, where
you can read other bloggers’ posts!