Thursday, May 24, 2012

Still Standing....sort of. ;) New routines and reflux

Congratulations to those of you with more than one child who find time to blog. You win. ;)


I'm feeling pretty great about myself today cause the house isn't completely demolished, I'm actually doing laundry, the dishes are done, and Jayden (with his 3rd ear infection) is taking a decent nap while Zachary plays in the play room. This is not a normal day.
A normal day is a completely demolished house, laundry exploding out of baskets, a full sink and counter, a 3 and 1/2 month old who won't get on a decent napping cycle, and a 2 and 1/2 year old who has discovered his mission in life is to make me crazy (welcome to the terrible twos).
And now its summer. Which means no break 2 mornings a week while Zachary is in preschool.
I remember it took a while to regulate our new schedule once Zachary was born. It has just taken a little longer with Jayden for several reasons. One being that he isn't the only child and two being that his reflux has made things difficult.
Jayden doesn't have regular reflux. He has what is called SILENT reflux. It's called this because they don't projectile vomit their milk like most reflux babies....they swallow the acid instead. Ew. Poor baby. I have meant to write about this for a while just in case anyone else I know has a baby with this problem.
I basically had to figure out what was going on myself. The pediatricians just kept trying to tell me that he was colicky. Zachary never had colic, but I was pretty sure that the endless back arching and head turning, refusal to sleep on his back, constantly needing just a little bit of formula, strange gasping/choking noises, extreme fussiness and wanting to sleep elevated on my chest all the time were not just from colic.
I happened to stumble across the name "silent reflux" in a forum and after looking into it I realized it was exactly what Jayden was dealing with. There are even some videos on youtube that other people have posted of their babies having acid attacks which was really helpful in recognizing it.
After I talked to my pediatrician again and explained what I thought he had and why I thought he had it, she agreed (how nice) and we started him on Zantac. It's very mild and it has helped at this point but it took a couple of weeks to get in his system and that was a VERY not enjoyable waiting game. They also instructed me that I could give him a very small amount of maalox or mylanta in the meantime which may have helped some.
Then the ear infections started. One after the other... they would clear up with the antibiotics and be back within a week.
The most recent one (which we just discovered yesterday) revealed a red and somewhat raw throat along with the ear problems which assured the dr. that it is reflux related. It's SO weird how all of these random things end up being from reflux. Jayden also has some problems getting air through his nasal passages sometimes - it sounds like he has a very stuffy nose but there is no drainage actually present. Saline drops and bulb syringe do nothing to help. Turns out that when the acid backs up into the ears and throat it can also get into nasal passages and cause swelling. There ya go. Still fighting the same thing we've been fighting for 4 months.
I thought it was under control because he wasn't thrashing around in his cradle anymore and was no longer making the gasping/choking sounds but apparently not. We even saw a gastroentrologist about a month ago who wasn't alarmed by Jaydens situation and predicted that he would grow out of it by 3 or 4 months old. I wish.
This time we have concluded that if the ear infections don't stay away after this round of antibiotics we will probably end up doing tubes in his ears and also switching him from zantac to prevacid which is stronger but most people (according to what i have read) have better luck with it. Please, oh please let us figure this out!!
Poor Jayden started out a better sleeper than Zachary ever was but he always has trouble sleeping when the ear infections set in so we are back and forth all the time. You never really know what kind of sleep you are going to get around here anymore. I told Chris that between Zachary having trouble sleeping through the night without nightmares (which didn't stop until very recently) and Jaydens crazy schedule I have now gone 2 and 1/2 years without solidly sleeping through the night. I am not sure I will ever be able to do it again. The few times we have been out of town for a  night without the kids I still can't stay asleep. :)

On the other hand Jayden loves to smile which I love to see. When he isn't miserable from ear pain he is a trooper. Zachary loves him and talks to him so sweetly (most of the time).
The Zantac HAS greatly improved the situation from what it was 2 months ago so I am hopeful that getting the ears under control will help even more.
The last few months haven't been easy but they haven't been bad either. Chris finished his last interview for Ordination which will happen this summer. WooHoo! (Its been a long time coming!) :)
Zachary has adjusted to having a brother much more easily than I expected him to. Jayden fits right into this family as if he was always here.

2 and 1/2 year olds can provide some hilarious moments when they aren't melting down :).
 And I find myself able to enjoy my boys more than I thought would be possible with an expanded family. I was afraid I would start missing things. Occasionally I do - I hate the nights when I don't get a goodnight kiss from Zachary because I am busy with a fussy Jayden while daddy helps him get ready for bed. But mostly we are establishing a new routine that is starting to work well for our family.
I know a bazillion families have done this before us, its just new for us. But we are doing well.
PS - I am honestly suprised that my husband isn't a walking zombie by now. Between working and helping me with 2 boys he has a heavy load. He even helps me through the night sometimes when Jayden has rough patches and I am starting to feel like a zombie myself. There are definitely more nights when we both collapse once the boys are asleep - too worn out to have much conversation or even stay up watching tv together, but we are in it together and we know this stage isn't forever.....until the boys are old enough to drive and then I'm convinced I'll never sleep again. ;) (Heaven help me!)
Anyway, theres a very small bit of catching up for you.




Happy holiday weekend to everyone - hope you get to enjoy it with your families!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Favorite $ Saving Tips - Saving on Decor

It's November! This is a good thing - cause I like November and it means I am only 3 months from my due date..but also a scary thing - cause Zach's birthday is coming up and the holidays and I have so much to do before those things are here.



I wanted to make another post about some deals we have found in our house that have helped us save $$. This time its mostly on home decor and stuff like that. Hope its helpful. :)










Saving on Decor:




1 - Cheap and Free Photo Books. I love pictures and I love scrapbooking but I have to admit that making scrapbooks yourself is very time consuming and can get expensive not to mention that I don't have the luxery of spreading out my materials and leaving them out until I'm done now that there are curious toddler fingers roaming around the house. :) When I started seeing the pre-made photo books I thought they were really cool - you still get to design them yourself and everything - but they can be REALLY expensive...like $45 sometimes which I think is crazy. So I ruled those out of our budget pretty quickly. BUT not for long. I have joined a few photo websites for other purposes and pretty soon I started getting some great offers for cheap photo books. Now, sometimes you have to wait a while for a good deal, but its worth it. My favorite site is Artscow. They ALWAYS have great offers. Just join the site (free) and make sure you sign up for their emails cause thats where you hear about the deals. Most of the books below came from Artscow and I only paid shipping on them. Yeah thats right - $3 to $7 total. Not bad for 20 pages of pictures! I have also used shutterfly and picaboo but not many sites offer them for free very often - artscow is the best. The smaller hardback books (6x6, 20 to 30 pages) on artscow are available for just shipping costs pretty often. Zachary LOVES "reading" our vacation books and they are great for setting around the house (I know I always look at peoples pictures). They also make GREAT gifts. So there ya go, that saves you $30+ on printing your pictures and scrapbooking. It does take some time, especially if you want to design the layouts yourself but there are also options to just click and add your whole album to preset layouts so you have some choices. :)






2- Making your own decor. You don't have to be a great artist to do this stuff. I made the canvases pictured below with cheap products from AC Moore and Michaels. We have lots of "trees and nature" stuff in our living room and they match ok. They aren't perfect but they don't have to be as far as I'm concerned and they were a lot cheaper than paying for pre-made wall art in their sizes.


Try joining Pinterest for great access to step-by-step do it yourself art/craft projects. You will find some great ideas!


On a related note - Artscow also does lots of specials on stretched canvases and we have put this to use several times to help decorate our walls. I got the canvas pictured below AND 2 others (all 18X24 in size) for $11.99 total...yeah that included shipping. Now the only thing is they don't come on the frame so you have to spend another $4 at Hobby Lobby to get the frame and use a staple gun to stretch them on (tip: start from the middle top and bottom and move outward from there when stapling...and stretch well). This is SOOO much cheaper than buying big canvases from places like Olan Mills (not to mention you get a lot more variety on background and color).


3 - Shop discount places. We LOVE IKEA - we especially love that they are always offering deals on some of their best selling items.


We waited for this bookshelf to go on sale for $99 before we bought it. It's huge and takes up most of the space we needed to fill in our living room so merry christmas to us last year. :) We had kept our eyes out for something like this piece for a long time and were seeing prices around $300+...no thanks!



We love it. Also - most of the furniture in our living room was either given to us or bought for extremely cheap. If you are crafty you can make anything look new and if you aren't - ask a friend for help. There is so much unused and unwanted furniture out there - I have a hard time spending much on new stuff. The end tables in this room were bought at Target for $20, our TV was sold to us for cheap when we bought the house (Thank you Kyle), Chris used to work at a furniture store so theres the free coffee table and stool, I was given a papasan chair as a gift for college (still in use) and there ya have it...or most of it. We did buy our sectional sofa new from rooms to go but even that we waited for good deals on and found one where we could buy a few $100 giftcards from the store and they DOUBLED them automatically. Just keep your eyes peeled!


Don't be afraid to try Big Lots or Hobby Lobby and even Thrift stores and garage sales if you have the time and the guts. ;) More often than not, we walk away from these places empty handed. In other words, we don't assume that we have to buy something every time we go, BUT over time we have picked up some decent things for a fraction of the normal cost, just by keeping an eye out for a good deal and waiting for the right time to buy.
I say all of this cause I know a lot of people who feel like when they get their first home or something they have to run out and buy a matching living room set (etc) to fill it up. If this is what you want, then go for it, but don't feel like its your only option in order to have a decent looking home. I think our room looks fine even if its not fancy and perfect and it didn't cost us near what you would pay for an entire matching living room.







Basically, what a lot of this stuff comes down to is this: Don't box yourself in to feeling like there is this set standard of living that you have one way to obtain. I honestly hope that even if Chris and I did have the option to spend lots of money on these things (i.e. $45 on ONE photo book, $100 on wall art, $2000 on a living room set, $1000+ on a big screen tv), that we wouldn't. Cause we don't have to. Don't let people make you feel like you have to live that way. Look for a better alternative when you need to. Being crafty and having patience and using 2nd hand items (im not talking used camp t shirts here people) has helped us make a comfy home for ourselves that if you looked at our budget - you might wonder how we afford.
Note: We are also blessed with great friends and family who sometimes give us nice things as gifts that we would not buy for ourselves. I point to this out because I feel like it would be overlooking something that contributes in this area that we greatly appreciate.


Anyway, there are a few more of our money saving tips. Once again, these are things our family does on a regular basis that save us lots of $ over time.



Side note: Yesterday we had to make a trip to walmart to get a new tail light for our car. Just so happens that they were in the process of marking down the halloween costumes when we got there. Guess how much they were.....$1. ALLL of them. so Zachary and his brother are pretty well set for the next several years of halloween and dress up...every boy needs a superman costume to run around in, right? ;) We found animal costumes, superheros, a racecar costume, etc. All regular priced at $20...for $1.


Anyway, I was excited so I thought I would share. I love finding awesome deals! And anyway those same costumes will be back on the shelf next year for $20 again so why would I wait to pay that? (let me establish that I wouldn't pay that in the first place, but you get the point).


We also found 20 packs of mini play doh for $1.25 because the bag holding them had a halloween print. Goody bags for Z's party and Christmas gift for the boys?? I think so!


Don't be afraid to stockpile - just don't buy/keep things that you will never use. (I always picture my grandmothers attic whenever I wonder if I should buy something....it helps me keep perspective, haha. She kept EVERYTHING!)




Have a great week person who reads this...hoping theres at least one of you. ;)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Favorite $ Saving Tips - Saving on Kids

Wow I'm writing a blog and it has only been like a month since the last one - go me. ;)This blog post was inspired by my recent realization of a few habits our family has developed. Not bad habits (tho we have those too). I'm actually talking about good habits and since some of those habits developed out of ideas I recieved from other people I thought, why not share them with some more people? ;)


Let's face it - I am a sucker for a deal. I am not ashamed of this fact. AND I married someone who likes to spend money even less than I do. So as you can imagine, we do things differently when it comes to things we need/want/have to buy. Basically I know I would want to know about these things if I didn't already.

I started writing the first section of this blog and realized it was going to be the longest blog ever if I wrote it all in one so I will probably break this down over a few separate posts....and hope that someone is reading it somewhere. ;)

Here goes!



Saving on Kids:

1 - Buy clothes before they need them. This seems pretty basic I know but it's something I have realized a lot of people don't do. This is WHY we do this -
This is the top row of Zachary's closet. These are all brand new clothes in sizes too big for him (A few of them are hand me downs from friends too). Nothing on this rack was purchased for more than $2 per item. In fact most of them were $1. SHOP THE CLEARANCE SECTION.
If its too big but its a great item on a great sale - buy it and save it for later. It has saved us tons of money already. Every season of his life Zachary has already had all the staples for his wardrobe because we shop this way. We don't have to run out and buy things full price so he's not running around naked. And, this may be my opinion, but my son is dressed as cute as the next kid. And I'm not just talking tshirts that no one else wants - we get jeans, khakis, sweaters, socks, winter hats, dress clothes, everything off clearance racks.
Here are some of our favorite places to shop clearance for Zach: Walmart (those garanimals can be darn cute and cheap!), Ross, Target (When they mark down items - this is my favorite place to check), The Childrens Place OUTLET ($2 racks galore!), Sears, Crazy8, and PayLess (great place to look for shoes on clearance).
I'm sure there are other places we have gotten good deals but these are the regulars for us. Of course there are times when we need to spend more than $2 on something for him to wear - but since we haven't spent a bunch on everything else - it's not a big deal. Just this morning I sent him out of the house in a cute osh-kosh coat that we got for $12 at Kohls last year - off the clearance rack. As I was cutting the tag off I saw that it was an $80 coat full price (seriously?! who pays that?!).
Anyway, it takes some discipline to get started in this routine and to stop yourself from unnecessary impulse purchases but it works GREAT for us and has literally saved us hundreds by now. Funny thing is some people that are into "whats in style" refuse to shop this way and pretty often I see the new items out each season and they are EXACTLY the same items I paid $1 for a couple of seasons before...I mean exactly the same.
Also - Chris and I shop for ourselves this way too. We just aren't still growing (in height anyway ;) ) or starting from scratch for ourselves so it's a bit different - still a huge $ saver tho. :)


2- Books. We love books and so does Zachary. We love that he loves them too. I have looked through the "classic" childrens book sections and thought "yeah right." If I got my child all the books I WANT him to have - it would have cost us a few hundred by now. $10+ a book....not in our budget. But trust me, Zach is not hurting for good reading material. ;)


See, told ya...and thats only one of his shelves.
This is how we do it:
The Dollar Tree...yep. Many of Zach's books are from the dollar tree. They are (of course) $1 and they have some great books for kids. Some of them struggle a little, haha, but we have gotten sesame street books, bible story books, alphabet and number books, books on manners, etc. And most of them are board books which means they are still intact after being handled by a toddler boy.
Now if you are looking for CLASSIC kid books (the giving tree, the hungry caterpillar, dr. seuss, etc.) Dollar Tree won't help much. But we found somewhere else to go for that! Our Library does a seasonal book sale. 4 times a year on a Saturday they sell books they aren't using. Chris and I are already suckers for this sale because we both love to read but they also have a HUGE childrens section. All of the books run from $.50 to $3..some might be more but this is what we usually see. They also have childrens music and DVDs ($3 sesame street dvds - we have a few). We have gotten tons of great books this way. The best thing is that every few sales they will open the Sunday after and sell everything for half off....yeah, $.25-$1.50 each. If you are in the Columbia area check out THIS SITE for info on the sale dates or check your local library page to find out if they do something similar.


3- I don't spend a ton on decor for our home in the first place (see my soon to come post for details) but when it came to getting a nursery ready for our first child...and now our 2nd, I was tempted to go crazy. I didn't though....and I didn't need to. We found lots of ways to decorate for our kids without crazy spending. First of all - if you are a "1 theme" person this might not work for you. We have a theme in Zacharys room - but that doesn't mean everything in it was meant to go together. He has jungle animals everywhere but not necessarily made by the same company or sold in the same store. If you think this is tacky....then skip this section (and get over it, I might add). Babies R Us does discount items pretty often and I wait for the REALLY good discounts there. I also shop ROSS for kid room decor - sometimes even finding the same brand/design that I have found at babies r us....but for much cheaper. Also - check online places like Amazon. I bought the wall decal pictured below for less than $2 on Amazon. Partner it with other items you need to buy and get free shipping and its a lot cheaper than spending $20 on a decal at babies r us. :) Just shop around and remember where you see the best deals - look there first! And I have to mention, as an avid do-it-yourself-er, that the internet provides access to TONS of great, cheap, do it yourself ideas for nurserys that not only save you a ton but give your kids something unique and specially made for years to come.



4 - Keep your eyes open for freebies! Last year a friend of ours from church gave Zachary a toy car garage. She told us that she was in a store and this toy was missing a piece and had been a display and the store was getting ready to throw it in the dumpster. She asked if she could have it. They told her they couldn't give it to her in the store but they would set it outside and she could get it from there if she wanted to. The missing piece: a 2 inch "guard rail"...the other rails were kind of annoying so we took them all out anyway.
When I first saw the toy I didn't think too much about it. We thought it was so sweet of her to think of us and Zachary but Zach was still pretty young so not quite ready to use it much. But here we are a year later and guess what Zachary spends HOURS each day playing with if he can find the time....yep, the free car garage. :)

It has been his favorite toy for months and months and it didnt' cost us a thing thanks to a friend who isn't afraid to ask for something unusual in a store. I happen to know for a fact that this friend has developed ongoing relationships with many stores to the point that when they have candy/small items/etc to get rid of - they call her! The kids in the childrens ministry at our church experience the benefits of these relationships all the time (and no its not expired candy). All that to say - take a risk and ask questions...you never know what you will get. I haven't quite gotten to that level yet but I do ask about discount items or things we consider buying that might need to be marked down or have a flaw or something and most times managers will give you a discount so just do it.

Also on this note - accept things from friends and family who offer them! Zachary is the first grandchild on both sides..in other words, he is not hurting for toys and not because his parents don't say no. BUT we also have some great friends who have given him toys that their children no longer need or want and guess which items always become his favorites. Yeah, the hand me down swing set, the perfect condition used little tykes car from his friend wesley, the little tykes turtle sandbox from another family who no longer used it, the free car garage, and honestly the cars from the dollar tree that he usually prefers over his hot wheels. (He is his parents child!!). Just don't be ashamed to say "yes" if someone asks you if you could use something they have access to. They are usually happy to have it out of their way if it isn't being used anymore.


5 - Gift ideas - when grandparents/other relatives/friends ask what would be a good gift for your children for birthdays/christmas - think outside the box. Last year my in laws gave Zachary a 1 yr membership to the zoo. We have been to the zoo many, many times throughout this past year and it is still one of his favorite places to go. It has been the best gift possible because not only does it give us somewhere fun to go without spending $ but he learns something new everytime and has somewhere to get rid of all that energy during the day. We have LOVED having a zoo pass. There are lots of places like this - childrens museums, bounce houses, etc that could be great "gifts that keep on giving" for your kids...and your whole family honestly. Just present the ideas when people ask.


6 - Use coupon sites like groupon.com, livingsocial.com, and the countless others that are starting up these days for great deals. We have gone to a bounce house for $4...regular admission $9 and gotten a museum membership for a year for $26...regular cost $70. There are always great deals for families and kids popping up - just don't get trigger happy and over do it. Stick to things that are REALLY awesome deals, that you would be doing anyway, or that you know will save you money in the long run.


Ok, thats enough. Sorry this is so long and I hope it gives someone some good ideas that they didn't already have. I have several more specific things that I want to tell people about....a lot more specific than the kids ideas are but they will have to wait for another day.
Maybe I will be back soon!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Catch Up Again...

So I am a bad blogger lately...in other words I don't blog. I feel like I post so many pics on facebook that show a little bit of what we are up to and then I don't feel like writing a blog about everything else. :) BUT, I know I will appreciate the details later so I really should keep it up even if no one else is reading it.

First things first - we went for my 20 wk OB appointment and found out that we are going to have another little boy! Zach was with us for the appointment...he was more interested in playing on the rolly stool, but he said "yes" when we asked him if he wanted a brother (which is much better than the usual "NO!" when we ask him if he wants us to have a baby). Zachary has started going to preschool 2 mornings a week. He loves it - especially the big playground. I'm hoping it will be good for his social skills cause he really isn't around kids his age very much outside of church. He has adapted well, still has the occiasional fit at drop off (he loves riding in daddy's truck so much that he doesn't want to get out of said truck on some mornings) but other than that things are going well.

He has already picked up some new habits that I am pretty sure came from school. He now says "uh-uh" and "uh-huh" for yes and no and I don't know where else it would have come from. We are working on keeping up the "yes" and "no" vocab at home. He has also had some extra attitude problems but we've gotta deal with them sometime and the terrible twos are already approaching so....bring it on. ;)

Seriously though his manners have also improved (ironically) and I know they have been working on that at school so there are many positives. You should hear him say thank you. Usually goes something like: "OHHHHH Tank Ooo!!" and he doles it out to anyone for just about anything so thats good.
He also got to finally wear his cute little rain jacket to school the other day...I was more excited than he was, but it was so cute. :)


This last week has been a tiring one. Chris got REALLY sick over the weekend so Zach and I spent a lot of 1 on 1 time together. Saturday morning I took him to the all famous Irmo Okra Strut Parade (not as good at the Chapin Labor Day Fest by the way) and we had a good time. He watched most of the parade from my lap and we got to see a real train go by about 5 feet in front of us on the tracks so he was pretty excited about that.
After the parade I thought I was going to die. Haha. All I did was take my kid to a 2 hour event and I felt like I had run a marathon. Being half way through a pregnancy and doing anything extra is almost too much at this point - at least when doing anything extra involves a 21 month old. :) Zachary spent the rest of that day with Gram and Pops which was lovely for him and for me...and daddy too.

Chris is finally getting back to normal now. He isn't sick anymore but has needed a couple of days to get some strength back (the jerk lost 5 lbs. during his illness which I myself consider a very rude thing to do when your wife is forced to steadily gain for the next 20 wks.) ;) In all seriousness though I am very glad he is feeling better and I SO appreciate how much he does to help take care of Zachary and me and our home, especially through this pregnancy which has been quite different from the last one. I was so tired and nauseous the first trimester that I wondered if I would ever be anything but a lazy bum ever again, but fortunately I have gotten my energy back and no longer feel sick to my stomach so I am able to get most of my normal activities done again (which is a relief to Chris I am sure). I just have to rest after a few hours with Zach by myself. :)

So 19 more weeks til I'm full term, 1 and 1/2 weeks until Chris has an all day basketball camp to set up his basketball leagues for the winter, and 4 and 1/2 weeks until we go apple picking with our parents in Hendersonville (I am really looking forward to that so the leaves better be changing by then). I LOVE AUTUMN!
Oh, and I can't believe Zachary will be 2 in 2 months....


And here is a 21 wk prego pic...the first one I've taken this time around, poor Baby Kauffman #2. I'm not a fan of these pics but people ask so this is what you get. :)
And there is your update!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Adventures at the water park with Zachary

The first picture in this blog is where we THOUGHT zach would spend most of his time when we went to Discovery Island Water Park in Simpsonville, SC today. Looks like fun, right?Well Zach wasn't very interested. He wanted to head straight to the big kid water slide the second he laid his eyes on it. He LOVED it too. He is a little fish! Got a little video of the landing. :)




video








He also loved eating DipNDots with Daddy while we waited for the thunder to pass. We had a great time!







Saturday, May 28, 2011

Awesome Hotel Deal!

Okay, so when Chris and I got married my wonderful aunt and uncle gave us an amazing gift and that is where this story begins. In the process of arranging this gift my aunt let us know that since the hotels we would be staying in on our honeymoon were Marriott brand hotels, we should apply for the Marriott Rewards Program.
No charge, just a member number where points add up for each stay at a Marriott hotel which eventually earns you free nights (and actually our honeymoon stays earned us a couple of free nights in themselves). So we did it!
There were several times over the next year when the program would offer special incentives (in the form of bonus points) which we would try to apply. I mean, you have to stay in hotels sometimes so we figured we might as well be building up free nights for it - not to mention that Marriott beds and pillows are amazzzing!
At some point, through the rewards program we were offered a Marriott Visa Card. We are not big credit card people - in fact the ones we do use we pay off each month and only keep for the incentives and cash back. This particular card would have no annual fee the first year and would add points to our rewards card for every dollar spent on it as well as automatically depositing several thousand points into that account. So we took the bait.
And it was GREAT!
We have probably stayed free 7 or 8 times in the last 4 years. Who could ask for more! Even if its just getting away to Charleston for the night - nothing is better than free (and if you do your research you can find a place that serves free hot breakfast). :)

ANYWAY - the purpose of this blog is to fill you all in on the deal we just got this month. Cause YOU can get it too!!

There is now a NEW Marriott Visa (shocking, right). It's called the Marriott Rewards PREMIER Visa and I wanted to share the info with you all so you can enjoy the benefits that we have.
(assuming you qualify)
NOTE: We in no way encourage anyone we know (or don't know) to get a credit card if they are not able to limit their spending and pay off what they spend each month, its just not a good idea so if you fall in that boat, please stop reading. :)

This new card has no annual fee the first year.
You get a free night stay at a category 1-4 hotel automatically when approved.
You also get 30,000 rewards points put into your rewards account when you make your first purchase.
When you use the card at a marriott location you get 5 points for every dollar spent.
Any other purchase on your card gets you 1 point for every dollar.

Let me make that more clear:
A category 1 hotel (some Fairfield Inns and Townplace Suites) costs you 7500 points per night. A category 2 hotel (Some Fairfield Inns, Townplace Suites, Springhill Suites, and Courtyards) costs you 10,000 points.
Category 3's (Some above listed and Residence Inns and Marriotts) cost you 15,000.
And so on with category 4s-8s increasing by 5000 points each.

So if you get 30,000 points with your first purchase on the credit card you automatically have enough for at least 3 FREE nights in a marriott hotel. PLUS the free night stay you get when you qualify for the card.

Here is a list of the different types of Marriott hotels:
Don't be fooled by the listings above - we have stayed at some fairfield inns that are nicer than courtyards - it just depends. Usually the category 1s are a little farther from big cities. (for example, Charleston, SC doesn't have any but they have a category 2 that is right by the outlets off I26 about 15 minutes from downtown).



Ok so that sounds pretty good right? Well, theres more.



After the first year there IS a fee for the card. It's $65 a year. Normally we would cancel a card if it has any annual fee, BUT with this one you automatically get ANOTHER free stay at ANY hotel (Category 1 through 5!) put into your account on the anniversary of when you got the card. Since it gives you a night at a category 5 hotel, to us, that is worth the fee. We would pay more than that for some budget hotels so it still sounds like a great deal to us.



And this free night you continue to get EVERY year as long as you have the card!






Those of you who know me well know that I am always looking out for a good deal and this one was too good to not share. I mean, can't afford a vacation this year??? - well this could cover a few days lodging for you for free and free breakfast if you pick your hotel wisely.



Just don't plan anything before the points and everything are credited to your account or the timing might not work out.



If you decide to give this a try STEP ONE is to register for the Marriott Rewards Program (remember its free and always is) *DO THIS BEFORE YOU APPLY FOR THE CC.
From there you should see a link to apply for the Premier credit card. They will notify you by mail if you got it (by sending your card).






So its up to you, please be careful!! Don't go for the deals they offer if they are not really worth it, but the ones I have mentioned are (in my opinion).


**Notice I didn't state what the interest rates and late fees are - thats because you shouldn't use them!! Haha, if you can't pay your card off each month, as I said before, don't get it!! Some people really can't handle that - they convince themselves that it will be ok to overdo it "just this once". If you are one of those people please don't tempt yourself. :)






If this was too confusing or you have any questions you want to ask me, feel free!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Why I Love My Garden

Last spring I pioneered a small veggie garden in our backyard. It was an all new experience for me (and Chris). That being said I was pretty excited when things ACTUALLY started to grow. We ended up with tomatoes and banana peppers and cucumbers and some teenie green bell peppers. We planted a few other things but....they decided not to make it. :)
This year I decided to try, try again and I ventured into further unknown territory by planting some things from SEEDS (last year we started with all small plants).








Guess what....I can grow things! Well, I can manage to "not kill" things anyway. :) And so far this year everything is blossoming and growing - very exciting for me!


Here's some of what we have now:


Spinach
Tomatoes (these are cherry tomatoes - we also have reg. size)BrocolliSquashString beans



And we also have hot and green peppers again and lettuce and cucumbers.




I am pretty excited about having a garden that actually produces everything you hoped it would. I have learned a few things about fertilizing and watering that I think has helped. I knew that in some respects this would be a "learn as you go" type thing so I'm glad it has started to pay off in only the 2nd year cause I'm not sure I could have justified spending money on plants/seeds/soil/etc. for a 3rd year without decent results (after all, the goal is to save money by growing it ourselves, among other things).



So here are 3 reasons why I love my garden:


1- I know what I'm eating and where its been.


2- I can wear whatever I want when picking out my veggies cause no one else has to see me. For example, the other day I grabbed the 2 flip flops closest to me and went to pick some goodies....did it matter that 1 flip flop was zebra print and 1 was black- NOPE! ;) Better than getting dressed properly to head to the grocery store again! (and yes I realize this is a very silly example and no its not meant to be taken seriously.)


3- Zach LOVES to help me water the garden and I love to see him getting involved in growing things from such a young age.


4- There's nothing like a spinach salad fresh picked from your own garden! (I won't lie - it was a little thicker than spinach I have bought at the grocery store, but that did not damper my enthusiasm one bit - cause I grew it! And it still tasted like spinach salad to me.)


I think the fact that God gave us the ability to eat things grown from the earth is pretty sweet and I can't think of a better way to get myself and my family to eat more veggies than to keep them right on hand in our own backyard.


On a side note - I have also ventured into the flower garden world this year and I'm pretty excited about that too. I love flowers and I love watching them grow from nothing but a seed.




So despite the itchy eyes, drainage, and pollen covered everything that comes along with spring, I'd say its a pretty great season!