Sunday, February 27, 2011

It's good to be 3

We wanted to have a special day for Bennett since birthdays rarely fall on Saturdays where we can be home all day, but we didn't want to spend a lot of money since her birthday party is next week. So we catered our entire day to what Bennett would like and what would be special to her and we did it on a budget.

Every birthday we fill our kids rooms with balloons in the middle of the night. They wake up so excited and it's a fun way to start the day off right for the cost of a bag of balloons.

We came downstairs and she found her horse. Her annoyingly large horse. Birthday presents were clearly not included in our budget. His name is Beauty of course. I wonder how the 35 other horses in our house named Beauty feel about that.

She was in such a good mood that she actually let Will ride Beauty. That is about as nice as it gets around here. And while she was doing that, Rob and I played with her new puppet show theatre. It's nice to revert to your inner 3 year old. Except we have really creepy puppets. They are too scary to show on this blog. They came from Rob. Not me.

After we played with this kids for a bit we all loaded into the swagger wagon (aka our mini van. aka "The Crimson Express") and we went to get donuts. These are normally a big no no in our house. In fact, she has only had them once in her life. But apparently that was a memorable once. She asks for them all the time. So we gave in on her birthday and she got the best strawberry donut with sprinkles that I have ever seen. I may or may not have eaten a few as well. That is to be determined.

After breakfast we went to Bennett's favorite place in Kansas City, Zonkers. This is a great indoor amusement park/arcade. We had left over tickets and tokens from our last trip there, so it was a very inexpensive trip for us. Always a plus. Here are my kiddos on their favorite mechanical rides.

Dominating her brother at air hockey. You always get to win when it's your birthday. And when you're playing a 1 year old.

Riding the train.

A Merry-go-Round. Of course. A Bennett Webster birthday would not be complete without a merry-go-round ride.

We love Zonkers because all of the kids arcade games are at their level and Bennett is really able to play them.

We came home and checked the mail and she was so excited to receive cards from her grandparents and aunts and uncles.

And then it was time for family nap time. We pushed the kids hard all morning and didn't get home from Zonkers until way after nap times, so we all crashed pretty hard.

After naps we headed out to the mall to guessed it.... another merry-go-round. Bennett had a wardrobe change because some of her lunch unfortunately landed on her pre-nap outfit. Oh, well. Before we left though, Bennett got to open a few more small presents from Mommy and Daddy.

How cute are these two together? Seriously.

After the merry-go-round we took our usual trip to the Disney Store. We never buy anything, but we spend the longest time wandering around and saying hello to all of our "friends."

We had dinner at Bennett's favorite restaurant, Chick-fil-A and then ended the evening at home watching a princess movie while dressed in her new fairy outfit that she got for her birthday.

It was pretty much the perfect day celebrating our spunky, creative, beautiful, loving, strong willed, talkative, funny, smart, sensitive, and joyful three year old.

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights." James 1:17

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday, Bennett!!

I always get a little emotional around this time of year. I think every Mom probably feels sentimental when they remember the birth of their child. The two months leading up to Bennett's birth were a roller coaster of emotions, so I think they all come back to me in full force this time of year.

I had a DVT (blood clot) at 28 weeks with Bennett. A very severe one at that. I spent some time in the hospital, a lot of time in a wheelchair, and even more time on bed rest. Since I had to lay there and remain still so much, I had time to focus on this life growing inside of me. This beautiful, precious, and yet unknown life. I prayed for her almost hourly. As Rob put another shot full of blood thinner in me, I closed my eyes and tried to think about the baby girl that I was going through so much for.

I have several defining moments when I think about Bennett's birth. I don't think I have ever written them down here because they are so personal. But the further away you get from them, the less personal they seem. However, there is one that I wanted to share for some reason today.

- New Years Eve 2007/2008. Rob went to our church to play at a New Years Eve concert. I couldn't walk at that point, so I stayed at home and laid on the couch. At ten until midnight, I was missing being with Rob and our friends so much. I don't know why but at that moment I felt so lonely and was so scared about my upcoming birth. Did the blood clot affect her? Would I bleed too much during my delivery? Were either one of us in danger? All of a sudden, I needed to talk to someone so badly. It was 11:59 pm. Who was I going to call? So, I nudged my belly. Nothing. I kept nudging. I wanted my baby girl to give me a sign that we were going to be okay. That she was okay. That we were in this together. I pushed down firmly on my belly. Nothing. I pushed harder. I whispered to her that I really needed her right then. Then it turned midnight. People all over the world (or at least my time zone) were celebrating and I was alone. All of a sudden she kicked me. Then she kicked me again. And I started laughing as I rubbed where her little foot was. And I knew we were going to be okay. And that I wasn't alone. I knew our new year was going to start off wonderfully. And it did.

And three years later, it is only getting better.

Here are a few shots of Bennett during her 2nd year of life.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

And so it begins

Y'all, I have a new hobby. And it is taking over my life. This hobby consumes my thoughts day and night. You can see evidence of it all over my house. I wish I could tell you that it was something highbrow like oil paintings or something. But alas, it is not.

It is couponing.

Sigh. It has come to this.

Rob and I have been on a very tight budget ever since we went to one salary and added two young ones to the mix. We have gotten really good about eating nearly every single meal at home. If we do eat out we only eat on nights where kids eat free. Out of 21 meals per week, we eat 19 at home. And that includes Rob coming home every single day for lunch where we eat PB&J's, chips, and a banana. It's the simple things, folks.

I buy all of our clothes at discount sites like Zulily. You can still get great quality clothes at a bargain if you search.

I just got a $50 giftcard to Kohls using my Walgreens rewards points.

I am an avid fan of swagbucks. You must do this if you do not!! I just got a $10 gift card to Starbucks from Swagbucks. You earn points by taking surveys, playing games, using it as your search engine. Try it. You won't be disappointed.

And finally, couponing. I am new to this. For awhile I would use a few coupons and save $3.00 here and there. And then I got serious. I search Sunday papers. I print manufacturer coupons non stop. I learned that Hen House doubles 50 cent or less coupons. I learned to match sales with coupons. I now buy sale items and then plan my menus based on those.

And finally, it paid off. Yesterday, I went shopping at Target and save $48.06!!!! Did you read that correctly? PLUS, I got $25 in gift cards by taking advantage of their "Buy 7, get $5 gift card." I thought about framing my receipt.

Ummmm... that equals SEVENTY FIVE DOLLARS!

Yay, me.

Plus, my freezer is stocked for the next 6 months. Fantastic. I should take a picture. It is rather glorious.

So, if you want to get started, here are a few tips that helped me.

1. Start buying a Sunday Paper. The coupons in there are worth way more than the cost of the paper

2. Learn which stores double coupons. Hen House does. Price Chopper does not accept Buy One Get One Free coupons. Target stacks store coupons with manufacturer coupons.

3. Like things on facebook that give regular freebies. I've scored free orange juice, free coffee creamer, and free Clinique mascara this way.

4. Match sale items with coupons. Last night Hen House had Old Orchard Apple Juice on sale for $1.50. This is normally $2.39. I used a 50 cent coupon (which Hen House doubled) and got a bottle of $2.30 juice for 50 cents.

5. Use couponing through swagbucks. You earn points through every coupon you download and use from their site.

6. Search for manufacturer coupons online and print them out.

7. Join a rewards program at your grocery store.

8. Follow blogs and websites that will help you. My personal favorites are:

I hope this helps you save some money on your groceries. Or if nothing else, you can mock me. And that's always fun too. But I am sipping free Starbucks and about to head to Kohl's to spend my $50 gift card. So laugh away.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Unicorn say what?

We were simply trying to talk to Bennett about her grandparents flying in for her birthday. Instead we got an explanation about unicorns, beaks, black canyons, and who knows what else.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bennett's hot date

Okay, let me preface this blog post by saying that I know I have been slacking lately in this whole blogging business. Maybe it's because my kids are getting older and "need" me more. Maybe it's because I am having a love/hate relationship with the Internet and am trying to cut way back on my time on it. Maybe it's just because I'm not interesting and have nothing to say. I don't know.

Regardless, here we are. And back to date night. Bennett and Levi had a date for the 2nd year in a row. We met at Winsteads and exchanged gifts and let the young loves share a special date. Our evening was cut short however when one of the star crossed lovers didn't obey their parents and had to forgo the post dinner ride on the merry-go-round. Darn those parent chaperones. They ruin everything!

Here is my beautiful Bennett getting heading out for her special Valentine's date.

Side note #1- Bennett was so excited to go on her date. She made me blow dry her hair and also paint her nails. As I finished I looked at her and got so emotional. I know this was a silly pretend date with her best friend. But one day it will be real. She was so happpy and innocent and unguarded. I was glad she meeting another 2 year old that really loves her. But one day, it will be a real date. And her heart might get broken. I had such a hard time looking at the excited and expectant Bennett knowing that one day I wouldn't be able to go with her and protect her. And I want to. I just want everyone to love and adore her as much as I do. Always.

The meeting

The boy

The girl

Best friends


Side Note #2- It is amazing to watch how Bennett and Levi truly love each other. This isn't something that we forced on them. They ask for each other all the time, call each other on the phone, and when they see each other, they start running until they find each other and can hug. I know they will grow out of it. We have about another year or two of complete lack of self consciousness, but I love it for now.

Opening each others cards. I mean seriously, how cute is this?

The third wheel was not too pleased about his lack of attention and lack of gifts. Someone needs a date of his own next year.

Nothing says "I love you" more than a milkshake.

Picking out their song on the jukebox. Two sweet Valentine's.

And I must add a quick note about my special Valentine. He took me on a lovely date the weekend before, woke up early to cook french toast for the whole family, and surprised me by sneaking back into the house when I took Bennett to swim lessons and filling it with my favorite flowers and candy.

Bennett had a pretty awesome Valentine. And so did I.

And just one final picture because this one is my favorite.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In honor of young love

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! We are busy getting ready for a hot date around here. And I'm not talking about me and my man. We had ours Friday night. And it was awesome. Tonight is all about young love. Bennett will be having a Valentine's date with her main man, Levi. To celebrate their friendship I am posting some pictures from their past year together, beginning with last Feb 14th. Cheers to friends. Especially ones this cute.

Are they not adorable together? Bennett absolutely adores her, "bestest buddy buddy." I'll post pictures later after their date night tonight. Happy Valentine's Day to everyone out there. I hope your day is as wonderful as ours.