I think that this has to be the most wonderful thing for a little kid and I just had to share (because why should I be the only one who falls in love with this and probably can’t ever have it!). Oh how I wish the Treepee people were in the US and just happened to want me to do a blog review for them! I love reviewing things, it gets the need to shop out of my system without me actually needing to spend money BUT then I see something amazing and wish that I had extra money to spend on wonderful stuff that we DON’T REALLY NEED but would TOTALLY LOVE! So I am not showing my kids this Treepee and I will remind myself of the amazing playfort John built them in the backyard and the little stream and woods and pool we have for them outside, they are lucky kids!
Those are the boys last September on their first days of school (Ethan in K and Ben preschool). I do not want this summer to end! I am not a huge fan of 85 degrees or higher temps but I love having all 4 kids home all day and I am trying to not think about school until the last minute. I love having “little kids” and the boys are getting big too fast now that both will be in real school. Oh but this is a post about back-to-school- shopping budgets isn’t it…did I mention that yet?
I am not doing “back-to-school” shopping so that’s how I’m budgeting! I have a son going into 1st grade, one starting kindergarten and a daughter who will be going to preschool 2 days a week (yay for Jillian who is still too little for anything!). They are all young enough that they rarely want to pick out what they wear and since we get A LOT of really nice hand me down clothes I don’t think we will need that much for the kids. I’m pretty picky about what they wear and I don’t think their wardrobes are lacking at all. The grandmothers always pick out a few new things and otherwise I am just going to wait and get them things as they need them. I only anticipate buying new sneakers for all the kids, maybe some extra pants for the boys if it seems they need them and I also hope to find winter coats that I like better than the 3-in-1 Children’s Place ones I bought last year (I bought big so they will still fit again this year if I don’t see better ones). Besides school clothes there are school supplies but I always have those types of things on hand anyway. When I looked at the boys’ lists all that I still need to buy are a couple boxes of tissues. I’m not sure what all the hype is about back to school shopping, just get things for kids as the outgrow their old things! Why does it have to be a big rush to get a ton of clothes and things before the start of the year especially when they are little? I remember my mom taking me back to school shopping when I was in middle school and we got way too many clothes and she spent way too much. I felt like I needed “cool” clothes to fit in and guilty for the price tag. Luckily I think I outgrew that phase by 10th grade. I don’t know how things will be in our family when the kids are more into fashion and what “everyone else” has but I hope they aren’t too worried about that sort of thing. I imagine we’ll let each kid pick out a few things they really want or give them each a certain budget to spend and let them figure out what to spend it on. Plus when they are older they don’t outgrow things as much so clothes should last a lot longer! I won’t mind buying some trendy expensive things that they’ll want but I will not let them go overboard unless they have jobs to buy the things themselves! For those of you who have kids who could use some budgeting ideas check out Capital One’s Moneywi$e eLearning tool, which includes a section all about talking to kids about money. Plus, check out @TeachingMoney on Twitter to get bite-sized family-focused financial tips.
*I wrote this post to participate in the Parent Bloggers Network’s latest Blog Blast, something I haven’t done it what seems like FOREVER!
Here is one of the first pictures I took when we got to the lake and ALL FOUR kids are in it! This was Jillian’s first trip there and she liked it, she was a super easy baby there just like her siblings had been. I can’t say that all four were easy this trip but they all had fun and so did John and I.
When John took just the boys to the lake a few weeks ago, Ben named the biggest bullfrog Optimus-toad. The 5 big boys spent a lot of time catching frogs and eventually got Optimus (although this was his slightly smaller friend we thought it was Optimus-toad at the time).
The boys started to turn into frogs themselves hopping across the narrow end of the pond.
Here is one picture from the big Seagull Rock swim. The rock isn’t far from shore but Ben decided to swim to it from the bay around the corner which is a big swim for him. He was with a 10 & 12 yr old and Ethan so we let him head out with his life jacket and after a few minutes John followed. It was so great for our boys to have 3 older boys to play with at the lake (there was also a 7 yr old) and these kids were the super good happy funny kind that are such a nice influence. Because the camp is down a really long driveway we totally gave the boys freedom to run around outside unsupervised and thats what I’ll miss most now that we’re home. I loved being able to tell them they could go to the frog pond alone or play soccer in the field without having to worry.
Jillian didn’t seem to mind the cold water and went out with John a bunch of times. After we got home from the trip we took her in our pool for the first time and she loved it.
I love how Jamie loves Jillian! I hope it stays that way.
What a crazy thing, I started the trip getting a picture of all four kids and thanks to a bucket of tadpoles I got some pictures of them all again right before we left. The tadpoles are home with us in an amphibian tank we got at the pet store and hopefully we’ll have some little toads and frogs to release soon.
Well I might as well be the 3rd mom to blog about our day yesterday! Between the 3 of us we took a gazillion pictures of our combined 9 kids swimming and having fun together. I admit I am not back to my normal “invite the world over” self since having the 4th baby but I’m easing back into it. I was worried 9 kids would put me over the edge and I’d be stressed and cranky BUT I just marveled at how well the day went yesterday! It really helped that my friends brought over make-your-own pizza and watermelon so I didn’t have anything to make. I also was amazed at how much of a mess Ben can make when he eats, this isn’t even the messiest picture!
I could totally do it again, I am having just one mom and her 2 boys tomorrow and then one day next week (while the boys are at the lake) I am having a bunch of Jamie’s friends over. Jamie’s friends’ moms have not seen our house yet so there is some stress about them seeing my really messy house! Although in a way its like a public service, all the moms can go home to their own cleaner houses after and feel better about them!
I really didn’t miss the computer so much while it was gone BUT I do miss recording things about our life right now so I’m going to do some more blogging (I think!). Our wordpress wasn’t cooperating and didn’t let me add any of the new pictures I wanted to share AND deleted most of my first attempt at this post (not a fun comeback to blogging). John took Ethan and Jamie to his mom’s house for the weekend and they’ll be back later today. Its nice splitting the kids up for more time with them individually. One on one would be nice but one on two will have to do!
Here are some recent things in our lives:
- Jillian is 6 months old now! She has 2 bottom teeth, the first she got on Easter and the other was right before she turned 6 months. I have now fed her baby food twice. Last Tuesday she started with rice cereal and today I gave her apples and rice cereal. I don’t rush starting solids and I will miss solely breastfeeding her. I think I’ll start feeding her food about once a day now.
- Jamie has been out of diapers (except for at nap and nighttime) for about 3 months now. She has a few pee accidents most days at home still but is very good about staying dry out in public. She has her first “best friend” at her tiny tots class (a cute girl her age named Greta) and they will be in a 2 day preschool class together in Sept.
- Ben and Ethan are currently in roller hockey and baseball and are really enjoying both sports. We had to say no to a few other sports recently because they want to do everything lately. We are going to let them do YMCA soccer in July/Aug and Jamie will get to do it also. It will be her first sport and she is excited. We will have a kid in each age group of soccer but they will all play the same time and at the same big field so it will work out well.
- John and I are trying to organize the house but its slow going! I am going to do another group garage sale at the church where our preschool is and I look forward to clearing out some more stuff. I decided that the Little People take up way too much space in Jamie’s room and so we are selling all of them. She said yes to it and I already took them out of her room and she is happy to have it clean and to have so much more room to play.
Someone once told me not to complain about something unless you plan to do something about it. This simple bit of advice struck a nerve with me because I find it really annoying when people complain for the sake of complaining and do nothing to resolve those complaints. Working in corporate america I keep catching myself making a random complaint and have to mentally scold myself.
With this philosophy in mind, last week I decided to tackle some of our recent consumer complaints and see how well the customer service is at the companies we buy from.
1) Defective Canon Ink Cartridge – Our printer has been acting strangely on and off for months. I thought it was a software problem with the iMac and upgraded all the drivers. Last month the printer got even worse and kept giving us weird error message. The one thing they had in common was the yellow ink cartridge. I finally gave in and ordered a new one even though the one we had was full. This fixed the problem! Last week I went to the Canon site, contacted customer server and after a short email exchange where I provided the printer’s serial # and purchase date they put a new replacement cartridge in the mail. A+
2) Broken Rug Cleaner – This one was my own fault, from my fall down the stairs. Instead of contacting customer service I went to the Bissel site and quickly found an area to order replacement parts. Prices were a bit steep, but I easily ordered what was needed. A
3) Possessed Cell Phone – Heather’s new LG eNv2 has been acting very strange. Sometimes when you flip it open the phone starts entering numbers, letters, and commands all on its own. I found out that we get a full 1 year warranty on Verizon phones, during which time they will replace the phone with a refurbished model. Customer service was extremely nice and helpful. After a software update didn’t fix the problem they ordered the replacement. A+
4) LL Bean Return – I love ordering from LL Bean because of their lifetime guarantee. I had accumulated a collection of items I wasn’t happy with and finally got around to mailing them back. The return included clothes and shoes that I bought over the last 3 years. One item was defective, the others I just didn’t like. They accepted the return, no questions asked, and I had my replacement items and a refund within a couple weeks. A+
We always hear the horror stories of dealing with a bad customer service department, but my experiences the last couple weeks have been extremely positive. I think some companies understand that a bad experience with a product can be quickly turned around by a good customer service department. A great example of this is Lowes. They have a very easy returns policy that I use frequently…which leads me to keep going there and buying more stuff. I’ve never seen someone walk away from the returns desk and leave the store..they always walk in to buy something else while they’re there.
We’re getting adjusted to our new antenna setup and programming our favorite shows into the TiVo. We miss a few things from the large satelite buffet, but it is so nice to be getting PBS again. Here are the shows we’re watching this fall.
Chuck – our favorite new show from last season. The pilot was released on Amazon a week early.
Samantha Who – starts in a few weeks
Fringe – a new one this fall by JJ Abrams. Not sold on it yet, but giving it a chance
Survivor – always fun to watch and comment
Amazing Race – starts Sunday
My Name is Earl – wasn’t so great last season, but we’re giving it another chance.
Scrubs – now on ABC, but not sure when it starts
Kath & Kim – new show that looks funny. Starts next week
Pushing Daisies – starts next week
Heather also has a few shows she watches without me that I can’t comment on:
Kitchen Nightmares – I really like Gordon Ramsy, but the US version doesn’t always do it for me.
We’re also watching Firefly for the first time. Pretty good so far. The funnest part of it has been remembering where we’ve seen the cast before.
What shows are you watching this fall?
Sorry for breaking the comments. I’m working on getting the site ready for a new design and deactivated a plugin I shouldn’t have been fiddling with. Look for our new design soon, but expect a couple speed bumps while I get everything setup.
Well its very weird and John doesn’t even know why yet but emails that I send from our blog address are not getting to their recipients some of the time. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason yet and at the moment I’m resending some of the emails that I remember I’ve sent and haven’t gotten a reply to. So if you are waiting for a reply from me I might have already sent one and its “lost” somewhere! Maybe I’m ending up in peoples SPAM filters, I have no clue but if you have been waiting for a reply from me just send me another email so that I can reply again. SORRY!