Saturday, August 27, 2011

Consignment Sale Season Rules - August 27, 2011

This entire pile of clothing for the kid cost me $32. Seven pairs of pants, six tops, a nice warm winter coat (with a detachable hood), and a bonus pair of baby pajamas from Hanna Andersson that will either become a gift (they're in perfect condition) or will be resold. Oh and a reusable bag that will become gift wrapping for one of the many birthday party presents I'll be buying over the next few months.

With this trip, the kid is pretty much set for the fall. She still needs a few sweaters or warmer tops - I have a weakness for cute cotton long-sleeved tops for her, particularly when they cost a dollar, so she has a lot of them.

Shopping for her is easy and so much fun. I used this consignment sale as a way to clear my head for a bit. It's been a very stressful few weeks when it comes to her new classroom, new routine, new teachers, and so on, and I had reached a breaking point on Friday. Taking a long walk with my headphones on, deep breaths, hugging a good friend, and stocking the closet for very little money - all things that helped me sort out my thoughts.

I may hit one (or two?) more sales for some last few things (I'm also looking for certain DVDs and two very specific toys) but I'm largely done for a few months. Whee.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Think Before You Speak - August 23, 2011

I had a book to return to the library, so I loaded up the kid in the stroller (though lately she usually rides her trike-with-a-handle, I was going for easy-for-mama) and we walked over. I never take her there anymore - she refuses to look at the books and instead messes with the DVD shelves and sometimes bangs on the computers. And has tantrums - often connected to my telling her we need to leave. You know, typical kid stuff (I witness similar but lower-key tantrums like hers all the time) with a bonus special-needs cherry on top. But I had to go, and we both needed the walk, so I decided to be brave.

And while there, she was surprisingly subdued but, yes, still wanted to mess with the DVD shelves. Nobody was really around, so I let her. She stood, more or less (holding on to the shelves/me mostly, but upright the whole time) and she just rearranged the DVDs over and over, pulling them out, babbling at me, putting them back in new places that sometimes made sense. She pointed out words she knew and symbols she recognized and was kind of, sort of behaving.

A woman came up to us because she too wanted to look at the DVDs. So, with a smile, as I moved out of her way, I told her that my kid - who was looking at her and smiling too but beginning the wrinkled-nose thing she does before the storm hits - was known to scream at strangers and not to take it personally. Now, when I say that, I actually mean freak out hysterically when someone looks at her too long or gets in her space. It's beyond a tantrum - and usually I or my husband bear the brunt of her freakout. Physically, I mean. It's not fun. We still haven't puzzled this one through. We're working on it. I warn people and I try to handle it.

So the woman nods and smiles and tells me how she took her two-year-old nephew to a baseball game recently, and he screamed and screamed and screamed at strangers and just at everyone. I nodded. Good, I thought, she understands.

"I was like...people are going to think something's wrong with him!" she said. And she said it twice. "They probably thought something was WRONG with him!"

I just...closed my mouth and nodded again. By this time my kid had in fact started freaking out - throaty, wild yells and grabbing at my eyes, my nose, my hair, panicking because she doesn't have the words to say whatever it is she wants to say.

And I thought, lady, you might have looked one more time and thought for one more second before you said that.

(But while I'm talking about my kid, I will also add that she now is able to get off of chairs and take two full unassisted steps from a standing position and/or stand for many seconds unassisted without wearing her SMOs - she rarely wears them for one reason or another - and she's very close to being able to get up to a stand from the downward-facing dog position. This is good stuff. This is very good stuff.)

There's no moral to this story and I don't even know what my point is, entirely. The lady left, the kid calmed down and then freaked out again when I finally pried her away from the DVDs and cried until we were halfway home, at which point I distracted her and she started talking to me again. The end.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Please Vote for My Friend's Son - August 18, 2011

A good friend of mine sent me this email:

My son, Shaun, is currently in a model search competition for The Children's Place (the kid's clothing store) and he needs votes in order to get into the judging phase. PLEASE go to the above link, register, then search for ID: 76676 Once you see the smaller photo of Shaun, click on it and it should take you to a larger picture and a "Vote Here" button should appear just to the right. Be sure to click on the Vote button so you'll be counted. I appreciate your help with this. You can vote once a day so please keep going back through September 21st. Also, it'd be great if you could forward this to others that you know and/or share the link on your facebook/twitter page (be sure to include his ID #76676). 
Right now Shaun is in the top 25 for his age group of over 7,600 entries! (he was in the top 20 though) 
Thanks so much!

Please vote for him! He deserves it! PLUS when you vote, you get entered in a contest to win a gift card and you get a 15% off coupon as well. Win-win, I'd say!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How I Fall Down the Rabbit Hole - August 14, 2011

It has been a difficult weekend. The kid isn't behaving, much arguing is happening, and I slipped on a wet patch at the public pool while I was carrying the kid (because she can't walk, so I have to carry her, but I can't see my feet or concentrate when I'm doing that...) and hurt both of us. Great.

So I give you a recycled post, originally published in my super-secret-and-private blog. No, I won't tell you where that is, but perhaps some of you have read it already....

Image from by way of Pinterest
On Pinterest, I found a recipe for a homemade frappuccino that noted that when you make an ice, milk, and coffee drink in a blender, it separates. Hm, why, yes, that's actually true, I've found. I usually wind up with liquidy cold-and-sweet coffee at the bottom and a pile of ice on top. The recipe writer then goes on to say she asked at Starbucks and the secret ingredient is a tiny smidge of xanthan gum to make everything thick and not separated.

Authentic Foods Xanthan GumSo I go on a quest for it. Publix has it, but it's expensive for the amount will actually use (though XG, serving for serving, is cheap as cheap can be). So we go back out to an indie natural food store (stopping for bubble tea on the way - and having a giant argument with my husband in the process, which is always lovely, sigh).

At the indie market, I find the XG for about $2 more than I found it online (even with shipping) but I decide to support the local indie biz and have it in my hands right away.

And since I'm there, I look through the aisles. And I discover VEGAN MARSHMALLOWS - they're called Dandies and they're by Chicago SoyDairy.

Dandies Classic Vanilla Vegan Marshmallows 10oz BagI did not know they existed. I knew that there was one brand, actually (long ago I learned about them while learning about the Emes not-actually-vegan gelatin scandal - google it, it's fascinating) but not shelf stable ones. Um, yes, I'm buying them. Um, yes, I'll be making rice krispie treats and smores immediately.

And then I Google to learn more about the Dandies, and along the way I discover that there's a vegan store in Marietta. Which is far from me, but you know, still not California - not impossible to get to. But it's probably a pain to go all the way there for frozen stuff - which is the appeal, as they carry my beloved May Wah products, including citrus spare ribs (nomtastic, I swear). Shipping is...well, there's a free shipping threshold that maybe if I'm patient I can try for when the weather is a bit cooler (even with 1-day shipping and a cooler, I don't trust frozen stuff in this weather).

So then I check the much-closer used-to-carry-May-Wah indie health food store (not the same one that carries the marshmallows) and YES, a reviewer in June of this year says they do though they run out and don't always reorder very quickly. I actually can almost definitely drive to this one - a new destination, but not an impossible one. And we draw up plans to go.

And then I think...this is all Pinterest's fault. And I still can't entirely figure out how I got from yummy coffee to here.

And now the update: I wrote all of this yesterday. Today I discovered that:
  • Yes, Dandies vegan marshmallows are AMAZING and quite possibly better than traditional marshmallows - I've had them in hot chocolate and melted on top of a single-serving low-fat brownie and have plans for other things soon.
  • Xanthan gum DOES help create a fantastic faux-frappuccino and I only used about 1/16 of a teaspoon - mere grains of it - and wound up with a thick, delicious, non-separating coffee drink (I used cold brewed coffee, caramel Torani syrup and almond milk, if you're wondering).
  • Yes, the indie health food store does indeed carry May Wah - I bought my beloved citrus spare ribs (two packages), plus salted chicken, tuna, and beef chunks (this is all mock meat/vegan) and then tossed in another brand's fake shrimp and a package of Gardein's chipotle-lime crispy fingers (which I haven't found at any other store that carries Gardein - my favorite mainstream fake-meat product) (I had those for dinner tonight - YUM).
  • Yes, I can probably drive myself to that store (what, I haven't blogged about my driving issues?) and so can go once a month or so to stock up.
I have more serious posts to be posting soon about the chaos that is going on in my head, but this frivolity seemed like a good way to end the weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Epic thrifting day - August 11, 2011

Oh man. I had an EPIC thrifting day yesterday. This post sponsored by preschool is back in session and four fabulous thrift stores (including two indies).

I do apologize if you read my blog in a feed reader and have to do a bit of scrolling.

Let us start with the Humane Society thrift store and my number one score of the entire day:

My cats are very interested in this...

Oh, it's a $70 LL Bean barn coat for $3. Yessssss.

All of the kids clothing was 50 cents:

(Birthday shirt is for next year.)

Because she can't walk unassisted yet, the kid doesn't/can't wear skirts most of the time. But I think she'll be able to by the time this fits - it's Baby Gap and sooooo cute. Thinking ahead, thinking positive!

Tiny onesie to stencil and paint.

$1 each - the Thrashers shirt is huge and is for my husband. RIP Thrashers, we already miss you.

I think these were either 50 cents or a dollar each. I screamed about the Henrietta Lacks book (been dying to read it). The hockey book is for my husband. Christopher Moore rules (LOVED Lamb). And, well, Backyardigans.

Not shown - the Humane Society had gotten a massive donation of cat treats from a major brand. They were asking for a $2 donation per "strip" (the treats were hanging on strips). Each strip had 12 bags. Each bag usually costs $1.30 or more. I bought 3 strips. YESSSSSS. Happycats.

Next store is also independent and therefore crazycheap:

Levis and Old Navy jeans for me. $3 a pair. One pair a bit too big, one pair a tiny bit too small. It will be OK soon, I hope.

$3 comfy Lee shorts. Big, but they fit. Good for wearing around the house, I think.

$3 shirt for me, $1 shirt for my kid.

50 cents each. The breastfeeding book is for a pregnant friend (I have my own copy), and I may either give or lend her the Goer book as well (it's a classic!).

Random cup! 50 cents, reusable ceramic travel mug. It didn't look like it had ever been used. It may replace my metal and plastic travel mugs.

Tired yet? Don't be - there's more! Next we went to Value Village:

Kid clothes first - tags in the pictures tell the prices, but almost everything was $1.29 or $2.29. Something was half price, but I am not sure what.

(I am in love with that green shirt.)

Mr. Owl is pajamas, but I don't think my kid will care.

The pink pants kind of remind me of maternity pants. Is that weird? That's weird. I take it back. The jeans were OMG PRICEY at $3.29, but they also are Old Navy and will fit her now.

Department-store Kohls brand shirt. (I swear I saw this brand at Nordstrom, but apparently I was mistaken and it's a Kohls brand. Still cute.)

And shirts for me:


Detail of back. This shirt is SO soft and so cute - and not a fakey fake, it's a real place (and the shirt costs $22 from them). Oh, and when I just now Googled it, I found out that apparently it's someone from Cake Boss? (I don't watch it but yay?)

Love the book, have scandalously never seen the musical but couldn't resist.


Goodwill. $1.50 each. No Biting...kind of essential right now. Ahem.

And this was from a random dash into Goodwill earlier in the week

Gymboree, about $3. Too big for my kid and they have a tiny marker spot (that didn't come out with two different spot-treatments, ah well) but so pretty/cute.

Oh and these thrifted gifts from my friend:

Thanks for looking! You're fabulous! You're gorgeous! You're wonderful!

PS We also went into Big Lots. I got a birthday present for a friend's kid, some orzo ($1! Yum!) and some Purell. Not nearly as exciting as all of the above.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Random Roundup - August 3, 2011

  • I won a two-week subscription to stock photo/image site Fotolia from Freebie Finding Mom. It entitles me to three downloads a day. Exciting! I haven't had time to activate it yet, but I'm hoping to use it next week. More images for my Etsy business, hooray!
  • Speaking of Etsy, I've started really playing with fabric-covered (but still mylar-covered) pocket mirrors, bottle openers, and even one-inch buttons. A friend of mine gave me a bag of her quilting scraps and she has the CUTEST taste in fabric. Tikis! Cupcakes! Oranges! Kitties! My new circle cutter works well and I can see this all becoming very addictive. I actually can't decide between putting the stuff in my Etsy store and giving it to my offline vendors. 
  • I would love to break off from Etsy, finally, and make (which currently redirects to my shop) into a real, live store. I know a tiny bit of HTML (long ago I made look all fancy, though I have no clue HOW anymore) but mostly I need some help. So if you want to trade web design for buttony things, let me know. 
  • The kid has been back to preschool for two whole days. Last year, she went five days a week but only for four hours a day - attempts to extend that were made of fail for many reasons. This year, she's there 6.5 hours a day and so far, so good. That's the longest she's ever been away from both me and my husband, but her tantrums are more about how they don't let her eat crayons or she doesn't want to nap rather than about missing us. The teacher described one thing she was signing on the first day and we think it was "Daddy" and that she was saying that she wanted Daddy/was ready to go home now please. But I'm not sure. 
  • She is on the cusp of walking, and I think school is going to push her to do it. She still can stand unassisted for seconds at a time, both with and without the SMOs. She can take a step or two. And she both loves using her walker - she seems to really be happy about the independence - and hates it, feels it's constraining. She also DESPISES the stroller now, so more often she uses her tricycle. It's interesting. I wish she'd still just go in the Ergo on my back.
  • Pssst. I am fairly certain she has weaned. Four years of breastfeeding a child with cerebral palsy - not bad, if I do say so myself.
  • I invented an awesome dessert. Take one 100-calorie pack of Trader Joe's chocolate chip cookies (they have actual ingredients AND they're delicious). Dump in bowl. Cover with lots of whipped cream (which honestly isn't that high in calories. mostly.). Sprinkle with TJs grinder of chocolate-sugar-coffee, which is my new obsession of deliciousness. Eat. Nom.
  • I am currently reading the Wilder Life by Wendy McClure and I already sent her several tweets that were like "OMG I LOVE YOU SO MUCH" or something. The book really is that good though. The whole Laura Ingalls Wilder love? I get that. My beat-up many-times-read copies of the books are easily accessible, and I still re-read the Long Winter every so often. Also, I will put it here to avoid tweeting her again, but she remembers THAT Twilight Zone episode - the one I too remember about the boy who forges the psychic link with the girl who lived 100ish years ago. She notes the orange juice scene! I was THINKING about this episode in the first few pages of her book. Yeah, that's awesome.
  • (I want to write a similar book about A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - except that was really really fiction and there's not much to do but say "Um, so I went to Brooklyn and there were trees, but no junk shop and no school with women who spank kids.")
  • I am also reading Forever by Maggie Stiefvater. I got to see her speak the other night at my favorite little bookstore. She's funny and charming. The slow going for me. I keep putting it down. I keep peeking a few pages ahead. I am antsy. This is why I rarely read fiction though.
  • America's Got Talent is not inspiring me to blog this season. I'm sorry. I really like some of the acts but I am not in love with everything like last time around. I am obsessively watching though, and sometimes I tweet at Howie Mandel because, you know, I'm a dork.
  • And finally, I wish I was fancy enough to go to BlogHer. Maybe someday it will be in Atlanta. I did make buttons for Special Needs Bloggers. I wish I could be there to see them being worn on lapels and shirts and purses. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Easy Ways to Get More Swagbucks - August 1, 2011

Look, I had a semi-serious post written and queued up, and then I felt it was too jumbled and I left it in the draft folder. Then I was going to talk about how today is the meet-and-greet at preschool and tomorrow my kid goes back for six hours a day, five days a week, and how happy I am about this, but I decided I'd tackle that one when she's actually back.

Instead, let us talk about Swagbucks.

Here is my Swagbucks referral link - I will give it to you once, here, for transparency. And then I will not give it to you again in this post.

If you click it and sign up through me, I will get a bonus. If you want to sign up without using my referral link, go for it. And now...some info about Swagbucks for you.

Swagbucks is, at its core, a search engine that rewards you at random times with points, known as "Bucks," that you can then trade in for prizes (and PayPal cash). I have been using Swagbucks for years, and I've earned almost $500 in Amazon gift cards (and $10 in PayPal cash). So it's legit, it's real, it's worth doing. If you sign up and all you do is use Swagbucks as your regular search engine throughout your day, you'll likely accrue between eight and ten Bucks a day. A $5 Amazon gift card is 450 Bucks. So...that could take you a while, yes.

Here are some easy peasy ways to get more Swagbucks:

  1. Spread your searches out throughout the day, and you may win more than once from searching. I do tons of searches a day because...I search. Sometimes I'll switch to Google for certain things, but mostly I have Swagbucks set as my default search engine in my browser.
  2. Grab five bucks a day very easily doing the following (all found under the Earn header at the top of the page):
    1. Answer the daily poll
    2. Look at the surveys (you don't have to do anything but click on that page once a day)
    3. Go to the page labeled "NOSO" and click through the offers (I click skip on every single one) and then input the text it asks for (this gives you two Bucks)
    4. Install the tool bar and use it once a day (I am not a huge fan of tool bars, by the way - I have it on a browser I don't typically use, and I get my one Buck a day by opening the browser, which opens the tool bar, and then closing it again)
  3. Go to and click on the banner labeled "Watch Your SBs Grow with Ad Rewards" that is toward the bottom of your screen. Answer the survey questions and then watch the videos. You have to actually WATCH these videos - no cheating - because within each one are two numbers that scroll by, and at the end of the video you have to input those numbers to get your Buck. But the videos are short and they're based on the survey questions you answered, so they are usually interesting.
  4. Go to Swagbucks TV (also found under the Earn header) and watch the videos. Ten videos watched equals three Bucks. You can do this a number of times a day (I forget the exact number, but you probably won't max it out, don't worry).
  5. Watch for Swag Codes, which give you Bonus Bucks. For example, today is a Swag Code Extravaganza day, which means there will be multiple codes throughout the day - likely culminating in one at the end of the day that's worth a ton. Codes can be found via Twitter (, Facebook ( and their blog ( There are also blogs that will help you with hints and tips on where/how to find the codes (but I'm not one of them, sorry - there are rules and grey areas and I don't want my account inactivated!).
  6. Referrals. If you get people to sign up under you and they really use the site, you'll get extra Bucks. Go for it. Just don't be a spammer or I'll yell at you.
  7. Special Offers. Again, these are found under the Earn tab. The easiest ones are the video offers - just watch a short video and get a Buck or two. Lately I've found a bunch of videos under the "Peanut Labs" tab, but the other tabs sometimes have videos as well. If you want to get more complicated, look through the rest of the offers - sometimes there are some easy/free ones available.
  8. Print coupons through Swagbucks. I actually print my coupons through MyPoints - similar deal, points blahdeblah - but if you want, this is an option.
If you have any questions, just ask. This is, to me, an easy way to earn a bit of Amazon credit that I use for things we need and/or things we want. There is a whole catalog of prizes, by the way, I just find that the Amazon credit costs the fewest Bucks for the biggest reward. And the $25 Amazon card costs more than five times the $5 card, for whatever it's worth.

And that concludes this frivolous post for the first of August. I'll return to more serious matters....soon. Rabbit rabbit!