Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tip #2: Kids are great at evaluating you!

So, I was perusing some old posts of mine from Facebook/Myspace, etc., and came across this survey I had asked Ian to answer. So, KID, how am I doing as a mom these days? Well, I can't be sure how 2010 is, but here's how I was doing this time last year. Enjoy:

(All questions were answered by Mr. Ian, age 7, on Monday, March 16, 2009, one day before my 31st birthday.)

1. What is something Mom always says to you?
Read your homework and I'll sign it. That's what you always say, right?

2. What makes Mom happy?
When I do right things, the things that you say that I should do.

3. What makes Mom sad?
When I call her fatty. RIGHT? Actually, it makes you mad.

4. How does Mom make you laugh?
When she tickles me. That was easy, because it was about me!

5. What was Mom like as a child?
Have long hair and you would sit on it, on your hair? Is that right? My grandma told me. (My mom has a long-standing obsession with my hair. She didn't talk to me for two weeks when I cut it to ONLY past the shoulders in high school.)

6. How old is Mom?
30.. one! Because it includes tomorrow, right?

7. How tall is Mom?
That's hard. Uhm... you need to stand up, so I can count yards up. [I stand up. He counts.] One yard, two yard, three yard, four yard, five yards, six yards... seven yards! Wow, you're big, bigger than a quart!

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Be on the computer. You always knock me off. Don't write that! Don't write that! Don't write that!

9. What does Mom do when you're not around?
Go out [glares at me] Wait, wait wait. Play with your friends. Play with my DS. Wait, don't write that. I'm gonna knock over the computer and if you wrote that, I'm going to tackle you and yell, "TICKLE FIGHT!" (So young. So violent!)

10. If Mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
One hundred thousand bucks. [laughs maniacally] AWESOME! Wait wait, no no no no no. That would be awesome.

11. What is Mom really good at?
Uhm... hmmm... fixing things? No no no, I'm thinking another one that's better. Typing letters on the computer. You're really fast at it.

12. What is Mom not very good at?
You are not good at skateboarding.

13. What does Mom do for her job?
She makes money. (Heh, heh, heh, I don't know what he's talking about.)

14. What is Mom's favorite food?
What's that called again, when you have chopsticks and you put it up and it's kinda spicy. And it's in a case and remember, I like it? And we got it from Pirate Joe's Castle, I mean, Trader Joe's. And it's a square shape? You know what it is? [I say, "Sushi?"] Yeah, sushi! Does it ask what my favorite food is? [No, but you can tell me.] Teriyaki. I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEE teriyaki. Are you writing that?

15. What makes you proud of Mom?
Uhhh... when you give me ice cream, like one thousand cases of ice cream. One thousand cases of ice cream! MMMMM, you're making me get hungry!

15.5 What makes Mom proud of you?
Uhh.... when I take out the dog to go potty. [what else?] When I do good things to my mom, like "Ladies go first." Did you write that?

16. If Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
You would be Chewy. [Chewy's not a cartoon character]. No, I mean like in Star Wars! (SIGH. I have failed to teach him the ways of the nerd. He gets a point for the Star Wars reference, though.)

17. What do you and Mom do together?
Ahem. Oh. We play with Chewy when he's crazy. [What else?] We take him for walks. [Anything else?] Nope.

18. How are you and Mom the same?
Uhm.. nose... eyes... hair... mouth. Uhm, these [points to eyebrows] Eyebrows.

19. How are you and Mom different?
Sigh. Teeth, arms, legs, and boobs [erupts in giggling] And boobs. And privates. And weiner. [more giggling] Are you writing that down? [yeah...] AHHHHH, GROSS!!!!

20. How do you know Mom loves you?
When I give her hugs.

21. What does Mom like most about you?
Being crazy.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Uhhhhhhhhm, Laughing Planet. Of course you do. Oh, I see that smile. Don't smile, don't smile, oh, I see that smile.

So, to recap, I'm 21 feet tall and weigh 32 ounces. I "make" money (and will become famous for making one hundred thousand dollars!), look like Chewbacca from Star Wars, and have the same eyebrows as Ian. I suck at skateboarding and my favorite food is sushi from Pirate Joe's Castle.

I guess I'm doing pretty good.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Trick #1: Coupons, Shmoopons

Wait, wait, NO! Coupons are awesome!

You should ALWAYS look for a coupon, or a good deal, or SOME WAY to make whatever you are buying, whether it be food, clothing, furniture, toys, artillery... cheaper. Seriously. It's a crime against your budget NOT to.

My friends say I have a gift for thrift. Yeah, I do. Hey, I HAVE to. Running one little family on one little income is not as easy as it looks. Being frugal is a necessity. It's non-negotiable.

I'm going to run through just FIVE of my sneaky little tricks.

1. Did you know that your local community center offers scholarships for every single class or pass they offer? Yeah. For reals. Well... at least in Portland, Oregon. The center closest to where I live is Mt. Scott Community Center. Last year, I wanted an annual pass so I could work out in the gym while Ian swam it up in the pool. I applied for a scholarship. Booya! Got it! For about $20 a month, both Ian and I had unlimited access to all of their facilities and drop-in activities. It was pretty sweet. A normal family pass costs around $495. Talk about savings!

2. FREE BIRTHDAY FOOD. It's so important, I put it in ALL CAPS. If your birthday is in, say, March, you should be able to get a free meal almost EVERY time you go out to eat during March, as long as you don't eat at the same restaurant twice (why eat there twice? How boring...). Wanna know which restaurants offer free birthday meals in your area? Here, let me google that for you...

Okay, this list might be from 2006, but you get the point. Free food, people. FREE FOOD. Most of the restaurants don't require that you come in ON your birthday either, but rather, during your birthday month. Take advantage! Celebrate you and yours being born. Get that food and eat it!

3. FREE KID FOOD. Equally important is the Kids Eat Free scenario. This is a very lucrative deal in my household. With one kid and one adult, it's basically like getting my entire meal half off. Some websites even offer search engines so you can find a place on a certain day in a certain city. It's sweet! is one of those sites. Check it out!

4. Don't buy new or full retail price for anything, whether it is online or in real life. Have you heard of Craigslist? Or FreeCycle? Or Or That's just the beginning. All the real thrifty nerds, such as myself, are no stranger to (including shirt.woot!, kids.woot!, wine.woot!, and sellout.woot!) , CD/Game Exchange, or Game Crazy.

You don't even have to go further than your google search engine to find a good deal. Do you already know what you want to buy? Simply go to Google Products search, type in whatever item you want and BAM, instant list of every online vendor that sells it. You can sort said instant list by relevance, price, and rating. It's slick and saves you time, time you could spend with your kids doing parental stuff.

Whew! Is your head spinning yet? Well, hold on to your hats, because this one is a doozy.

5. Want coupons on TOP of good deals? Check out RetailMeNot, the very first place you should go before you order anything online. This site lists coupon codes for over 50,000 stores and sorts them by success rate.

I could seriously go on forever about ALL the great deals out there and ways for you to skate along on pennies a day, but it will have to wait for another time. Besides, if I share ALL my secrets, I'll no longer have that aura of mystery that surrounds me and my friends will no longer look at my thrifty ways in awe, nor declare that my ability to scout out a deal is an "art form." So, another time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tip #1: Chore Charts are for the whole family!

Recently, I purchased a dry-erase magnetic chore chart (complete with star and reward magnets) for $9.99 (with FREE SHIPPING, ohmigod) from to teach my son a thing or two about responsibility. After all, he's 8 and it's about time he started pulling some weight around these parts.

I was so excited when I got it in the mail. After unwrapping the ridiculous amount of packaging from said chart, I immediately went to business on filling in various chores I thought my son would do. I popped out all the little magnets, and carefully arranged them on the board.

Then I had an idea. What if I put MY chores on there too? I'm horrible at keeping up on the daily/weekly tasks that need to get done in the short amount of time I'm home. Brilliant. I added my own chores to the list, and indicated A for Angela and I for Ian on the board on the days when we were to complete each chore. I decided that for every 3 stars, we would earn 1 GOLD star, which could be redeemed for prizes, such as a night out at a cheap dinner and movie, a trip to the nickel arcade, a small shopping spree at our favorite thrift store, and dinner at our favorite restaurant, Sushi Sushi (CHEAP SUSHI!), on SE 82nd and Powell.

When Ian got home, we set about making a list of "prizes" and how many stars it would take to get each prize. Very proud of ourselves (insert high fives and woo hoos), we hung our chart on the fridge and wrote our list on the fridge (in dry-erase marker, of course).

This is what our first attempt looked like:

As you can see, we might have set our star count a little low. By week three, this is where we were at with our star count, which prompted me to choose a larger star goal for the flat screen TV. Ian has lofty ideas of how many stars we are going to earn, so decided to make the boxes where our star counts go MUCH larger:

We've tweaked the chart a good ten times, but the nice thing about it is that it's dry-erase, so we can change the chores for the week based on our schedules.

The benefits of the chore chart have been this:
1) My house has never been cleaner or smelled so good.
2) Both Ian and I are actually getting all of our chores done!
3) We're spending less money, because now we have to earn dinners out and fun things like movies and arcade trips. It's very rewarding!

So, the next time you think, "Maybe I should get a chore chart for the kids!", consider adding yourself on there too. You might be surprised at how much you get done!