Deal of the Day October 7, 2008

If you live near a Six Flags park you’re a winner already.

Everyone who enters is a winner, making the Heinz Ketchup if you Can sweeps a great one for anyone who lives near or will visit a Six Flags. Every entrant receives a $10 discount on a one-day admission ticket, and there are 6,010 instant win prizes being given out. This daily entry sweeps ends on November 2. Go ahead and play.  You know you wanna.

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What I’m Doing Today

First let me tell you what I’m not doing.

I’m not decluttering.

I’m not running errands.

I’m not cleaning.

I’m not shopping.

I’m not meeting with realtors.

I’m not going to the library.

I’m not cleaning out any closets.

I’m also not curing cancer, worrying about Obama or McCain, or getting a pedicure.

What I’m doing today, my dear friends, is spending the day completely focused on Son. Monday Son starts going to preschool 5 days a week, so today is the end of…something. The end of lazy days cuddling in bed after Daddy goes to work, the true end of his babyhood, the end of overseeing every aspect of his life. The end of our special time together that has been more precious to me than anything.

But it’s also the beginning. The beginning of organized learning, of new people and new places and new worlds. The beginning of life not always safe in my arms. The beginning of independence and self-reliance and the dawn of a new confidence.

How utterly craptastic.

So today it’s me and him, and some pool time, and some bounce houses, and some playing with his friend A. And I’ll do my best to be in the moment with him, enjoying him.

That’s what I’m doing today.

Deal of the Day July 30, 2008

I was just telling DH that I must see Mamma Mia…

Let’s face it, a night out to the movies can be quite a budget breaker. Enter AMC Theaters to the rescue with this printable coupon. Print it out for use on any Monday, Tuesday or Thursday for a free small popcorn with the purchase of any size fountain drink. Expires 08/05/2008.

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Deal of the Day July 21, 2008

Six Flags Theme Parks offers a Big Six pass.  Get six admissions to a Six Flags park by paying little or no more than you pay for a one day ticket! Tickets vary in price from park to park, but it you can save a ton of money! Offer ending unknown.

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Deal of the Day July 12, 2008

I’m so bummed.

AMC Theatres is running this terrific Summer Movie Camp, showing kids movies for only $1 Wednesdays at 10am all summer long. The reason I’m bummed is that the nearest participating theater to me is 45 minutes away. Boo hoo.

Take a look at the lineup:

Movie Schedule (subject to change)

July 23: Bee Movie
July 30: Surf’s Up
August 6: TMNT

Even better, all admission proceeds (caveats galore on their site) from AMC Summer MovieCamp will benefit Variety – The Children’s Charity and the Will Rogers Institute .

Fine. Have fun without us.

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You Know What I Did This Summer – Save Money!

The Life Network is running a Summer Savings Series with articles on how to save this summer. Here’s my entry!

Summer provides its own unique opportunities to save money. This summer is no exception, so I’m hot on the trail of ways to keep cool, and save money.

  1. Taking Son out of Preschool. I’ve been paying $50 per week for a year and a half to send Son to school two mornings per week. Since we’ll spend about a month on vacation this summer we decided to pull Son out of school. We’d already decided to switch him to a new school this August anyway (and under our state’s free Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten program it will be free!), and since we would have had to pay for the four weeks he wasn’t there we thought we’d give him a true summer off.
  2. Planning our vacations to stay with family. Both of the vacations we planned this summer are to visit family. This is a win for us in many ways because we love to visit and spend time with our families, we love the areas where they live (New England and the mountains of North Carolina), and we save by not having to pay for our accommodations. That said, we try to be good guests by paying for meals for everyone, pitching in with chores and projects, and cleaning up after ourselves.
  3. Taking outgrown clothing to consignment. Now that I’m sure we won’t be having any more children (sniff) I finally found a couple of local consignment stores specializing in children’s clothing. I’ve already consigned a large amount of Son’s clothing, and plan to do more. The money we raise will go into our long-term savings, and we get the added bonus of less clutter!
  4. Driving less. Except for our one driving vacation, I’m doing a lot less driving this summer. I’m taking advantage of our community pool, and trying to cut down on my errands. I’m also following my own advice on how to save money on gas.
  5. More cold or barbecued dinners. Salads, sandwiches, corn on the grill. That’s what summer cuisine is all about. If it weren’t for the occasional trips to the ice cream store we’d save even more (Yes, I know we could buy or make it at home, but there’s just something about going to an ice cream parlor and sharing a summer evening in coned camaraderie with fellow connoisseurs…)!

What are you doing to save money this summer?

Where Summer Is Appreciated

I have lived in South Florida for twenty-five years (with a few short interludes elsewhere). Florida, where there are only two seasons: Hurricane and So-Hot-Hell-Would-Be-a-Reprieve. If we’re lucky we get a few really nice days in January, but if you plan to step outside between now and September you’ll need a change of clothes by the time you get to the car.

At least there’s no state income tax…

Yesterday I got on a plane to visit family in New England. Son wanted me to pack his mittens, as he was expecting the weather to be the same as it was the last time we visited. We arrived late last night in the afterglow of a summer rain and didn’t make it to my sister’s house until about 12:30 am.

We woke today to some very glorious weather. Yesterday was my nephew’s last day of school, and I wanted to make it really fun. We went to a brand new park with a terrific concept: “A place to play for every child of every ability…” and did a bunch of other things fun for an almost four-year-old and an almost nine-year-old. At lunch I overheard my nephew say to himself, “This is a really good day!”

And I noticed something interesting. Everyone was in a terrific mood. Everywhere we went sales clerks and patrons and passerby were smiling, polite, and cheery. These people were enjoying the perfect day perhaps more than I. They wait all year to wear shorts instead of overcoats, and to sit outside on their porches and watch their kids run through the sprinklers. They wait for their ice cream stores to open, for their pools to be warm enough not to cause hypothermia, to see a shade of green other than the dark forest green of an evergreen.

As we drove around this lovely New England town with the windows down, wildflowers of every color of the rainbow decorating mile upon mile of development-less acreage, each kid licking a lollipop given by the purveyors of the local car wash, I reveled in the perfect 73 degree, blue-skied, perfect summer day. I must have passed fifteen garden centers, each ablaze with the beautiful colors of lilacs and hydrangea and sunflowers instead of the mums, wreaths and Christmas trees I saw on my last visit. And they were full of smiling, happy people.

These people appreciate summer.

I appreciate a gorgeous day, but it’s been twenty-five years since I truly appreciated summer.

Thanks, people of New England, for reminding me how glorious it could be.

Water Pistols and Mimosas

I love traditions. Holiday traditions like decorating the tree to the soothing sounds of Frank Sinatra, birthday traditions like allowing the birthday person to dictate the day’s menu, wedding traditions like wearing your Mom’s necklace – they all make my heart happy. It’s a sense of being part of something bigger than yourself, being a blip on a timeline that started long ago, instead of being the beginning and the end. It’s knowing that others before me have had the same fun I’m having.

Son is only three and though he’s in preschool it’s only two days a week, and it’s not on a school year calendar. Once he is on a somewhat regular calendar I want to start some new school traditions, and I’m going to use my sister’s traditions as a starting off point…

The other night I was on the phone with her and she told me this great story. Every year on the last day of school the Moms in her neighborhood meet the bus with water pistols in hand and promptly start a water fight with the kids as they are getting off the bus. Everyone then heads over to the pool for a School’s Out! Party, and summer has officially begun.

I just love that. They’ve been doing it since he started school, and it’s become something everyone really looks forward to.

This year, though, my nephew tried to prepare. My sister had said nothing about the last day of school plans, but it seems my nephew remembered on his own. The day before he told my sister, “Mom, I’m just going to ride my bike over to the bus stop and come right back. I don’t want you to worry about it.” When she questioned him further he added, very nonchalantly, “I’m just going for a ride with my water pistol, but if I forget to bring it back I don’t want you to worry about it.”

Uh huh.

Later that night he laid out his clothes for the next day and instead of underwear he laid out a swimsuit. “Don’t worry about that, Mom. I just feel like wearing one. Just forget it.”

The next day the Moms were waiting, the water fight was on and the pool party was a blast! Terrific memories were made for each and every kid, and each and every Mom.

The kids aren’t the only ones to have school traditions. Come fall, when it’s time to go back to school after a long, activity-filled summer, my sister will do her yearly tradition to mark the beginning of the school year.

Every year on the first day of school she walks my nephew to the bus and sees him on his way. Then she goes home, takes out the orange juice and the champagne and waits for the other Moms in the neighborhood to arrive for their very own Back to School party.

Isn’t that great? I love it.

I want to have some of our own traditions, too, and I’m sure they’ll develop naturally.

Traditions help mark special days in our lives. What are some of your favorite traditions – back to school or otherwise?

Deal of the Day April 12, 2008

This a great frugal activity for the kids to enjoy this summer.  If you’re lucky enough to have one of these theaters near  you.  Which I’m not.  But I’m not going to let my envy get in the way of your good time. Aren’t I a saint?

Cinemark Theaters, in cooperation with Cartoon Network, is offering 10 weeks of fun films for kids this summer. A different movie will be shown every week, and can be purchased in advance for just $5 for all 10 movies, or separately at the box office for $1 per show. All movies will be rated either G or PG. Check out the site for locations near you. Offer ending unknown.

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