Category Archives: Holidays

Punny Halloween Costumes

Costumes really aren’t our thang, if you know what I mean. We’re like the scrooges of Halloween. But when we got a neighborhood invitation to a family-friendly Halloween party I decided we should at least try to play along and not be fuddy-duddies. But what to do? We don’t exactly store a collection of costumes in a closet from which to select.

Enter the Punny Costume.

I remembered the idea from a friend whose husband once attended a work party dressed as a Royal Flush: he put a crown on his head and carried around a toilet plunger.

Or maybe that’s what he considered but opted for the, er, non-potty focus as the King of Hearts instead. I can’t recall for sure. (Same idea, just plaster paper hearts on your body.)

I googled for a few more ideas:

  • Fashion a hat or a whole costume as a salt shaker and carry a fake (and preferably bloody) knife or something similar: Assault With a Deadly Weapon. (You could pair this as a couple with a Battery.)
  • Take a bunch of smarties and attach them to your bum: Smart-a$$.
  • Wear a slip and hang a placard (or attach a sign) saying, “Freud”: Freudian Slip.
Well I ain’t wearing no slip and this is supposed to be family friendly, so I stormed my brain for more ideas and sent out a facebook call as well with an emphasis on *simple*, and the ideas kept coming.
  • Wear a suit with a sign that says, “Law”: Lawsuit.
  • Write/paint “book” across your face: Facebook.
  • Draw a picture of a quarter and hang it on your back: Quarterback.
  • Wear a toga decorated with croutons and Romaine lettuce: Caesar Salad.
  • Wear a crown and decorate yourself with names of baseball fields: King/Queen of Diamonds. (And you’d be such a card to boot.)
  • Family members dress in different shades of green: Mixed Greens.
  • Decorate yourself with small cereal boxes, shredded and torn up: Serial Killer.
  • Write or tape numbers all over your clothes: Someone You Can Count On.
  • Decorate yourself with pictures of chicks: Chick Magnet.

 What We Wore

If I’d gotten the number idea before the party I probably would have chosen that one for the *obvious* factor along with the ease of implementation. As it was, I went with…

What? You can’t tell? Yea. If I’d spent more than five minutes on it before rushing out the door it might have helped. Let me give you a closer look. With labels.

Still not sure? *sigh*

I was Under the Weather, people! Sheesh. Tough crowd.

Don’t feel bad: when I told one person at the party that I was Under the Weather, she touched my arm with such compassion and told me so sincerely that she was sorry, I was sort of sorry I had to tell her it was a pun.

Actually, a few people at the party did get it, which was impressive considering the poor quality of the weather conditions [da-da dum] and the sheer volume of wild banshees running around our feet. If I were to do this pun again, I would print out better quality pictures of different weather conditions and have them dangle a bit from the hat.

John’s trying to act out his pun… a takeoff from Smart-a$$, but more family- (and sitting-) friendly…

A closer look:

Just as simple as (but definitely an improvement over) the idea he had of putting a plastic blob of fake poop on his head…

(I’ll let you figure that one out.)

(Luckily, we didn’t have any.)

(Fake poop, that is.)

We even got Conner to play along!

Just don’t expect him to smile about it. It was quite a serious matter, the Exodus and all those Egyptian soldiers dying and all. You know.

Olivia elected not to be a pun (though it was a fun educational moment explaining what one is) even though her ready-made costume as a witch is totally screaming to be one…

Hang a few bags of sand on her and you’ve got yourself a Sandwich.

Peter’s little 6yo mind can’t yet grasp the subtleties of punnery (although he did like the idea of going as a Holy Ghost) (wearing a sheet with a bunch of holes cut out) and was quite content to go with Batman for, yes, the third year in a row. (And judging by the pant creep, the last.)

And Batman is quite simply… Batman. At least, I’m all punned-out. I got nothing.

How about you? Any more punny ideas for costumes out there? Do share! (Warning: it’s addicting.)

(Oh, and the cost of not being fuddy-duddies? $0.00. If you consider — as I do — that the smarties contribute to the trick-or-treating stash needed for the herd of military brats we fully expect to ring our doorbell come tomorrow evening.)

Christmas in January!

Not really! But the numbers are finally in! And for Christmas we spent…

[Drumroll]


$539.09


I really don’t know why it took me so long to post this. I guess I thought I owed you further explanation, like who exactly we got Christmas for and how much we spent on each person and what else we spent during Christmas break while John was visiting and how much else the holiday cost us in terms of food and eating out and Christmas-related expenses in general.

Nah.

Keeping it simple. Both my finances, and my blog. Every time I ordered something on-line (hello, NO shopping mall for me) or made a dedicated Christmas purchase at Wally-Mart (I will not apologize for stuffing my kids’ stockings with… stockings) I categorized it “Shopping,” and made a personal notation, “Christmas.” If I made a purchase that was only partially for Christmas, I made a mental note of how much of it was for Christmas and later next to “Christmas” I also put that amount.

I did this last part right away because I have a habit of tracking my finances. But you can do the same so long as you keep your receipts. (And know where you put them.)

Tracking finances is a future post. I personally think it rivals creating a budget in importance.

Anyhoo.

I am not a CPA and this is not an exact science. Nor am I Type-A. (Obviously.) But five minutes ago at the end of the season, I added it up. Wah-la. Our Christmas total.

One excited little boy!

For those of you thinking about the amount we spent, Wow, that’s not bad. I have to mention what a huge benefit it was this year when my sisters and mom mostly gave us cash in lieu of gifts, with instructions on how much I was to spend on each person.

If you are one of those people who thinks this is incredibly impersonal, well, so be it. I’m not one of them.

In fact, I reveled in it. This allowed me to get some specific Wii games for the kids that they wanted without it coming out of our Christmas for them. We got them other items that were tailored specifically toward each child, without going overboard (in my opinion), and all in all had a lovely Christmas.

More even than spending less this Christmas, I also focused on getting less. Less bulk under the tree. Less mass material.

I knew I succeeded when my 7yo daughter came down into the living room Christmas morning, and her eyes got real big when she turned the corner and saw the tree, but the first words out of her mouth were, “I think we had more under the tree last year.” *

How’d you all fare for Christmas this last year? Did you add it all up??

Oh, and the main thing? We paid for Christmas and then we were done. No credit for this family, no sirreethankyoubob. I hope you all can say the same.

*Just to follow-up on my daughter’s comment, I casually asked her, “Oh? And what do you think of that?” And she said, “Oh, nothing really, just making a comparison.” And she held out her hands on either side of her and wobbled them up and down like they were two pans on a balance scale.

What’s on Your Thanksgiving Menu?

Typical American Thanksgiving fare, as dictated to my daughter,

“ham; mashed potatoes; dressing; green bean casserole; sweet potatoes; salad; pumkin [sic]-pie”

…minus the semi-colons.

We’re having a quiet Thanksgiving around here, just the four of us: me and the kiddos. We contemplated driving to my family in Kansas, but Conner nixed it: didn’t want to have work to make up from school. And I can’t say I was excited about a 14-hour drive myself.

I talked to some friends about spending some of the holiday day with them, but Conner nixed that, too: he wants the day to be “relaxing” and hanging out with other families with (more) small children isn’t his idea of a good time. Grumpy. But I don’t blame him, really. Seems like most of my friends have kids his little brother’s and sister’s ages, and circus music really isn’t his cup of tea.

So we’re cooking up some grub and having a whole Thanksgiving fare just ourselves, all cozy and comfy in our own home (which we do still own, by the way) and getting a head start on our favorite Christmas movies. With John gone, Conner is huge for motivating me to go all out with tradition and not pansy out by ordering out or just having pasta. And for that I am very thankful indeed. I’ve already made the salad, which is marinating (is that the word I want?) in the fridge. Conner mixed up a super-dooper easy pumpkin pie (looking very seasonal in his orange fleece, I must say), which is cooling on the stovetop. Ham will go in the crockpot first thing in the morning (recipe with apple juice, honey, mustard and sugar, m-mmm) and the rest will get done at some point during the day tomorrow, no hurry. It’s just us, after all.

I hope you are all enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends near and dear. As for the non-American readers, have some turkey on us. (Or ham, if that’s your pleasure.) Bon Appetit. :)

How Much are Your Pumpkins Costing You?

My Pumpkins with their pumpkins in 2009

Okay, so maybe I wanted an excuse to take a short jaunt down memory lane. But I haven’t gotten a photo of these crazy kids (aren’t they adorable?) for this year yet, though not for lack of trying. For some reason, we’ve been a little busy around here…

But we’ve managed to spend some money on the pumpkins anyway, apropos of the season. Have you ever gone to a Corn Maze? They’re all the rage around here. We decided to experience Tom’s Maze outside of Dayton, where Tom turns his 8-acres of mazing into a game and admission costs $8 a person.

We got coupons off his website and paid $28 for four people. (Five and under are free.)

We managed to avoid the overpriced pumpkin patch — I’ve already picked up some good-sized pumpkins at the commissary for a very reasonable price: less than $4 a piece. And we threatened the kids bodily harm if they didn’t convinced the kids to just keep on walking.

Costumes

I actually entertained the idea of buying new costumes for Peter and Olivia! Well, not new, exactly, but new to them. Thing is, when I asked Peter what he wanted to be this year? “Batman!” Brilliant! That’s the costume he still has hanging in his closet from last year! Too easy.

Thing is, I’m pretty sure he thought I was asking him to choose from what he already has. As in, it never occurred to him that his mom would buy him a new one… Is that kind of sad?

Olivia’s costume is still up in the air. She and I may bee-bop around a couple of second-hand stores right before the Big Day. It’ll be a nice distraction after her dad leaves. Waiting until the last minute will also ensure that I don’t go out and buy a costume for a kid who ends up getting sick the night-of.  Not that we have any experience with that or anything…

How’s your Halloween/Fall Season Spending faring? Gotta live a little and enjoy some holiday spirit! Just try not to bust the budget while you’re at it… right?

The Cost of a Road Trip.

A Monsoon 4th of July in McPherson, Kansas

Finally. Oh, how I’ve missed you all! We logged almost 2000 miles in ten days between Ohio and Kansas. It did rain over the 4th of July, effectively canceling my sister’s Independence Day Bash. :(   We did, however, manage to set some money on fire light some fireworks at my parent’s house in between bouts of Monsoon Showers. We weren’t the only ones waiting for a break: their street looked (and sounded) like a verifiable war zone. For those who did not keep up with the comments on the previous post, our final tally for the 4th of July

Neighbors Watching the (very smoky) Fireworks Show

Fireworks: $40.80

John bought the fireworks the day-of and took advantage of many discounts. For more tallies and quote$ and to see how others celebrated (or not) this crazy American holiday, check out the comments on the previous post. I especially found it interesting how many people commented that their towns canceled their fireworks’ displays because of budget constraints.

Total Cost of Our Road Trip:$642.38

This includes everything. The breakdown:

  • Donuts: $8.78
  • Fuel: $304.41 (Good news — Our van did not break down on this trip!)
  • Fast Food: $79.42
  • Coffee/Drink Stops: $16.13
  • Booze: $36.45
  • Pizza Delivery: $33.96 (the only meal we paid for at my parent’s)
  • Braum’s: $7.58 (Anyone traveling through this part of the Midwest must experience some Braum’s ice cream.) (Unfortunately this transaction did not include any ice cream for me.)
  • Wedding (and Shower) Gift: $75
  • Sunglasses: $15.15 (because John thought he lost his.) (Now he has two.)
  • Flower Girl shoes: $10 (because I forgot to pack these for Olivia)
  • Four tickets to Toy Story 3D: $35.50
  • Two tickets to Knight & Day: $20

We were appalled at how much it cost us in Kansas to go see a movie. I mean, Kansas. That figure for Toy Story? That was a matinee. Which included the 3D glasses, but still. We’ve grown accustomed to military discounts which not only apply to the ticket cost but also throw in the 3D glasses for free. We weren’t able to get a military discount at either theater we went to, in my small hometown or in Kansas City. Hmph.

The Cost of Not Communicating

We didn’t do very well this trip on packing food for the trip and cutting corners on eating in general. Never mind the booze. (We didn’t drink all of that ourselves, honest.) (And none of it while we were driving.) I also blame my dear husband for not communicating with me as the reason for a good chunk of the change above. The day we left, I was going about getting ready and thinking I had all the time in the world, when I overhear John telling Peter to go get his shoes on.

Me: “Why? We’re not anywhere near ready.”

John: “We have to get going, we have a showing in 20 minutes.”

Me: “Wha…?” And you did not mention this why? I continued to make known my displeasure at this apparent oversight as I ramped up my speed and ran around the house and started throwing things in bags and in the cooler and in the car. I wasn’t packed. The house wasn’t ready. Lunch was not ready to take with us.

I was not happy.

Instead of  making sandwiches to go, we ate at McDonald’s. I also forgot Olivia’s shoes. Her cute-cute, like-new sandals that I had found at the Thrift Store. The ones she was supposed to wear as a Flower Girl in my cousin’s wedding. And I totally blame my husband. Somehow, he thought I knew about the Showing, even though he was the one who answered the phone when they scheduled it. Obviously, he holds my mind-reading skills in high regard. And has no idea what all is entailed to get a family of five out the door for a road trip. Or he might have noticed that we weren’t anywhere near ready.

Now granted, I could have been more ready than I was. I was moving slowly. Very, very slowly. Acting like we didn’t have 600 miles ahead of us to drive that day… All the more reason to cue someone that I might not be ready to head out the door anytime soon? At least not in the next 20 minutes? Perhaps? Yes? Grrrr.

Ooh, just typing about it is getting me all worked up again. And I’m actually totally over this. Really. Love you, babe!  “We just need to work on our communication.” (Name that movie.)

Cash has been de-throned.

Cash has not been King around here. In fact, it made nary an appearance in June and not one at all in July. I have more thoughts on this which I’ll explore more (hopefully) tomorrow, along with the update on our debt. (Hint: still not very exciting.) Suffice to say that the lack of cash spending has been more due to neglect on my part rather than an intentional omission. However, I’m not sure that cash (rather than debit card) is the best way for us to go — at least not completely…

But we are desperately needing some His and Hers Blow Money again. See those Coffee/Drink Stops up there? Hello, Discretionary Funds? I’m tired of you nickel and diming me with your debit card while I’m trying to keep up with logging our daily transactions. Especially when I’m not on the computer so much because I’m traveling. It’s just too much to keep up with. And yes, I realize I’m dangling my prepositions, but you have to realize how overwhelming it can be. It feels like when my kids throw perfectly clean clothes into the hamper along with the dirty ones, effectively requiring them to be cleaned once again. It’s just not necessary. I knew you’d understand.

And I promise to try to make more sense tomorrow.

Inquiring Minds Want to Know! How much are you spending on the 4th of July?

It’s the night before we officially celebrate our nation’s Independence Day, though you’d think it was already the 4th based on all the snap, crackle, popping and occasional BOOM! going on outside all over my hometown in Kansas. And these are just the amateurs!

We just arrived at my parent’s house and can’t yet answer the question for ourselves of how much we’ll spend on fireworks; we’re waiting until The Day for our own purchases, taking the lead from my 12yo cousin to try to steal a few deals at the last-minute. The forecast is calling for rain tomorrow, so cross your fingers and say a little prayer: My sister is hosting a huge 4th of July Extravaganza, and lots of little hearts will be crushed if it gets rained out. (Lots of big hearts, too, if we’re honest.)

My sister and bro-in-law host an Independence Bash every year, but we’ve rarely been able to attend, what with our living all over hither and yon. Laws on shooting fireworks vary from State to State: Growing up in Kansas, we could start them at sunset the night before the 4th and continue until the 5th, if I remember right. Based on the racket going on outside as I type, I’d say nothing’s changed.

The laws in Ohio are quite strict. You can buy fireworks there, but you can’t legally ignite most of them.

I really don’t get that.

The law is not heartily enforced, however; I happen to know that people in Ohio are lighting them anyway… (That is, I think I heard of that happening once. *wink-wink*)

I’ve known of people spending thousands of dollars on fireworks every year. Just for themselves their kids. I’d say laying down a few hundred dollars is quite commonplace…

How about you? Are fireworks a major line-item in your budget every July? Do you get sparklers and call it good? (Do you live in a State where Sparklers are the only thing that’s legal?) Do you keep the kids up till midnight and brave the crowds and mosquitoes and enjoy your local fireworks display? (Do you ignore the whole thing and go to bed early?)

I wish you all a wonderful 4th of July filled with lots of fun and fellowship and meat on the grill. May you all enjoy the holiday without breaking the bank! Regardless, please share in the comments how much you splurge (or not) for the holiday. Inquiring minds do want to know. I will be updating our total as soon as I know it. Stay tuned.

Father’s Day and Cold Showers.

Conner made the quintessential Father’s Day heart-attack breakfast: lots of bacon and sausage; dunkin’ donuts; and farm-fresh eggs thrown in just to make us feel righteous. Although they’re the best part, in my opinion. Along with the coffee, of course.

Conner didn’t actually make the donuts.

Olivia, of course, made her dad a card. And Peter started daddy’s day out with much wailing and gnashing of teeth that even John couldn’t ignore behind closed bedroom doors and previously closed eyelids. Oh, the injustice! Though for the life of me I can’t recall Peter’s claim to it at the moment. Something he wanted but didn’t get. Obviously, he got over it.

Happy Father’s Day!

We got a last-minute request for a house showing and scrambled (no pun intended) to get ready for it, the little ones already having a t-ball game scheduled during that time. Being completely sweat-drenched and feeling oh not-so-fresh from working in the yard, I decided, showing or no, I had to take a shower. So I did. And the water was cold. Very, very cold.

Our water heater is 15 years old. What are the chances that it’ll last us just a few more months until we get this house sold?

That’s what I thought.

Happy Father’s Day!

Easter Eggs

We actually dyed our Easter Eggs early this year…

Early? Vhat is zhis, earrrly word you use? I do not know ze meaning of zhis!”

Yea, yea. So we’re not exactly the early type. And that’s a really bad accent. I know, I know…

I was motivated by our impending road trip for the kids’ Spring Break, which will have us traveling over Easter. This is America. A kid’s got to decorate some Easter eggs! It would just be so… un-natural not to.

I snagged an egg-dyeing kit a couple days ago at Goodwill for 99 cents. Alas, I could not find it.

(Me suspects some little hands got a little curious and ran off with it subsequently forgetting to whence he ran and someday I will find a lovely surprise waiting for me in a most unexpected place and I will cry, “Ah-ha! there it is!” and I will put it somewhere hopefully where I will remember to pull it out for next year’s afternoon of very necessary Easter Egg dyeing and decorating experience.)

But the thing is, after I bought the 99 cent kit at Goodwill I was looking for something else and came across two unused kits from Easters Past that made me wonder, “Now, why on earth did I just spend that 99 cents?” after which I slapped my hand on my forehead because for the love of Pete it’s just 99 cents.

  • But that, people, is how mindful I am trying to be of every purchase.
  • And that, people, is why I need to keep working on de-cluttering and de-mystifying the nether regions of this home.

Naturally, the kids loved dyeing the eggs. (Not to be confused with “dying” the eggs — like killing them. Olivia wants to be sure you understand that.)

(Although the double meaning of the word does seem a little apropos.)

For the first time, we also dyed farm fresh eggs instead of the usual store-bought ones, resulting in some pretty, funky earthy tones.

(The greens were a favorite.)

My honest-to-goodness grass-fed chicken eggs cost me $2.50/dozen. We decorated 18 eggs, plus the cost of the dye… Let’s call it $4.75 for an afternoon of egg decorating.

Oh, and don’t forget these things are edible, too; we turned around and had a pre-dinner snack.

First, we ate them whole…

Or, you know. In pieces. Which Olivia always insists on doing.

Her little brother followed suit. Then wasn’t too happy when he learned he was expected to eat the yolk, too.

Ah. Luckily (for me) he discovered that it was good with salt.

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful, Christ-filled Easter. (With lots of chocolate and jelly beans on the side.)

Birthday Indulgences

In honor of my birthday I decided to pause a moment and take a look in the mirror and assess the situation. This may sound funny, but I don’t regularly take the time to “take care of” myself, and as usual I have been letting some things go. No doubt some of you fellow moms can relate…

First up: Hair Color

Cost ~ $7.33

Give or take a few pennies; I’m going by memory. As cheap as this is, I don’t even do this often enough. My hair is very strange: dark at the roots on top; blonde on the sides. It actually looks like I dye my hair if I don’t color it.

I’m not against professional highlights by any means. (Unless it’s putting you into debt or keeping food off the table. Ahem.) I’ve had mine done many times myself. Right now, that’s just not where I want my money to go.

Next Up: Facial Hair Removal

Just keeping it real here, people.

I got some Surgi-Cream (“The professional depilatory!”) at Wally-Mart years ago. If memory serves, it cost under $10. If I actually used this stuff as often as I should it would undoubtedly be gone by now…

Hey, at least I’m naturally blonde. (Mostly, that is.)

(This photo is not of the product I have. I would post a picture of what I use, but my camera is loaned out to a teenager even though it should have been returned by now.) (Long story.)

Finally: A Way Overdue Haircut

Unfortunately, I did not have a coupon this time.

Cost: $13.00 + $4 tip

I think I’m going to grow it out a little, but still keep the long layers. What do you think?

Oh, and Mustn’t Forget: I Shaved My Legs

Cost: $0

It’s been a long, cold winter, people.

(These aren’t my legs, either.)

Last, But Oh, So Very Not Least: A MASSAGE

Cost: $60 + $10 tip

Oh. My. Word. Worth every last penny.

A friend referred me to this particular massage therapist. She’s a physical therapist by day, and I’m sure that helps her be an even better massage therapist. I would definitely recommend her. If you are in the Dayton area and would like her information, just let me know.

From My Kids

I’d love to show you a picture of the drawing my daughter made me, complete with candy taped all over it and a sign, “One a day for each of us” (You know, like a vitamin) and a picture of the two of us. Despite her big brother telling her to stop with the candy all ready, because he’s grumpy like that, which led her to tears and drama and OH MY. (I think he was just jealous because he wasn’t in the picture.) (When all he needs to do is swipe a piece of candy anyway like his little brother does.)

Thing is? I wasn’t even there for all of that! Because I was at my massage. And Conner was babysitting. Which he did for free because it’s my birthday and all. And I would take a picture and show you what Olivia made me but did I mention that I don’t have my camera? (Even though I should by now?)

And Peter? Well, he’s just so darn cute, you know? I think he helped with the candy…

Total Birthday Breakdown: $94.35 (plus candy)

Now pardon me while I go rinse the oils off my body. I just had a massage, don’t you know.