Pier 1 Run

Yes, it rhymes.

In celebration of a big sale that coincided with our house offer getting officially accepted today, I finally spent $300 worth of gift cards I’ve been saving since last August and Christmas ($200 from my brother, $100 as a goodbye present from a piano student in TX). I’ve had my eye on a few things for a while…and they all went on sale!

Also, regardless of where we move, these are things we could use after we purged stuff during our TX/CA move. Just in case though, I’m keeping the receipts until we officially move in somewhere!

$74/each, bought two for the living room, since we left our old lamps with Julie in TX. Thank God for giftcards! Loving the blue bird in the shade...fits so perfectly with my decor!

These curtains were 40% off-- just $19/panel! Woohoo!

A soft fuzzy rug for Gregory and Anthony's room-- $99!

The total came to $310, so I got all of the above for just $10! Now, if I can just have the self control to keep them all in their packaging until we move… 😀

Day Trip to LA

The plan: drive down to LA on Saturday morning, leaving G with my dad for the day (we figured that being in his own environment might help with the weirdness of not having us around for a day!). Drop by the Ikea in Burbank for a few things. Arrive at Biola at 3pm, take my Latin comp test with my old prof Dr. Llizo as the proctor. Meet up with the Shelbys for dinner. Pick up Joe at 9:30 at LAX and head home.

What actually happened: G slept in until 8:00am (unheard of!), so we got off to a bit of a late start, leaving at around 9am.

Ikea was a ZOO. I counted 8 pregnant women there– hello, nesting? I picked up the Expedit bookcase I’ve been drooling over for quite some time now. G needed something for his toys and books, and this one is glossy gray, so it will fit perfectly with his room decor once we move into our new house.

We got to Biola at 3:15, but my professor was nowhere to be found. I’d emailed a few updates throughout the day (don’t have his cell, IF he even has one!), but hadn’t heard back. We left a few messages on his office voicemail, and waited by the fountain, studying together, just like the good ole days!

After 2 hours, we called it quits (turns out, he completely forgot and emailed me an apology a few hours later that night) and went to the Eagles Nest (more nostalgia!) for a light snack before dinner. We did some touring of the different buildings, driving by Hart, before we left to drive by our old apartment on Santa Gertrudes 🙂 We even made a quick stop at Savers (oh how I miss it!).

Savers' finds: an adorable denim shirt and saddle shoes for G, plus 2 newborn sized things for Anthony. I can't wait to have him use that little sweater vest in a photo shoot!

From there, we went out to Thai food with the Shelbys, then picked up my brother Joe and headed home.

While it was disappointing not to be able to take my test, a few good things came out of the day: 1) Because I work best under pressure, I am now SUPER prepared for my test. 2) I talked to my UD professor, and he is now willing to let someone at NCCS proctor it for me, meaning I won’t have to drive far to take it! 3) Jesse and I got to spend a chill, child-less day at Biola together, reminiscing about the past 4) we finally got to make an Ikea run! 5) we got to see good friends and 6) we got to talk with Joe for the 3 hour drive home!

The Boys’ New Dresser

I’ve been scouring Craigslist for a while now, hoping to stumble across what is called a “highboy” dresser. Basically, I wanted something big enough to hold both Gregory AND Anthony’s clothes, but not something that would take up a whole wall in their room.

An added plus of a highboy: they usually have two small drawers at the top– perfect for baby socks!

I’ve been searching for months, but everything I saw was over $100 at the minimum for poor condition, and $300 for great condition. Hmm….not exactly a deal!

And then, on a whim last Friday, I went in to the NCCS Thrift Store. And I saw this!

Only $75, mostly due to the fact that it was cosmetically beat up in various places– surface scratches on the finish, a missing handle.

But I decided to jump on it. That’s when I found out that as teachers for NCCS (the thrift store is affiliated with the school), we have a $75 stipend for non-teaching related supplies (anything for the classroom is free, apparently!).

So, yes, I got the dresser for FREE. FREE FREE FREE. Awesome.

Our first step was to sand it down to the maple underneath, getting rid of all the stain/varnish.

Revealing the pretty maple underneath!

We then painted 2 coats of chalkboard paint! It now comes in a few different colors, apparently. We chose “latte”, since it was the only one that even remotely matched all of Gregory’s previous room decorations.

Inspiration Pic from Pinterest

I

Inspiration Pic #2 from Pinterest

As for new drawer pulls, I had a crazy idea and decided to try and copy Anthropologie’s new “pliant rope handles”.

These puppies are $12 EACH at Anthropologie…not happening.

So, we DIYed them. For $5 at Home Depot, we bought a whole package of 1/4″ thick twine.

Here it is!

We absolutely LOVE how it turned out!  Word to the wise– if you work with twine, make sure to wear gloves…my hands were BURNING after tying all those knots and pulling them tight!

Also, most drawer holes aren’t wide enough for the twine. We used a power drill and widened ours.

We can’t “draw” on it yet. The directions say that we have to wait 3 days before priming it with a layer of chalk…more pictures to come in a few days!

Also, we still have to fix a toddler “handprint” that we found…hmmm, guess we weren’t watching close enough…

But I did break out all of my little newborn boy sleepers today and put them in the top two full size drawers. They fit so well, with lots of room to spare. I forgot how TINY baby clothes are!!! Gregory’s clothes will undoubtedly take up all 3 bottom drawers. I wanted his at the bottom, since I will be drawing pictures of a shirt, pants, sleepers, what have you. In a few months, I want him to “help” put away his clothes. The pictures, along with the eye level drawers, can only help.

Total cost? $25 for the chalkboard paint (we only used 1/2 a can), $5 for the twine! I’d say that’s quite a deal for such a well built, perfect-for-the-boys dresser!

Target Deals

A friend on Facebook alerted me to the fact that Target had put their Ameda breastmilk storage bags on clearance. Normally, they are $12.99 for a pack of 20, but they are currently $3.88! I bought 3 packs– if I use all of them in the first few months with Anthony, I will consider that a REALLY good thing!

 

I also picked up these two items. The shampoo, in particular, I’m really excited about.

 

All of these were things I needed to stock up on in these last 10 weeks. Yay, Target!

New year, new…suit?

I know it’s really early to be thinking about bathing suits. In fact, some of you are probably dying a little bit inside, right here, right now, as I say this.

But I am so tired of being huge. I’m also trying not to think about the fact that I will only get bigger, as these last 13 (maybe less?? please??) weeks progress. This is my way of dealing.

One thing I am coming to grips with is the fact that I now live in CA, which means that there will be lots of beach trips this upcoming summer. Also, my parents have a large pool in their backyard. Enough said, right? Bathing suit needed.

Way back when, in my teenage years, I tried to wear two piece suits, but it just wasn’t “happening”. I know this is hard to believe, considering that most people are the opposite, but I was actually much heavier in high school. Seriously. About 15-20 pounds heavier! Most people vow that by their 10 year reunion, they will look like their high school self again.

If this happens to me at my 10 year reunion? It will probably be because I’m pregnant with #3 (oh man…scary thoughts here, people…).

When my metabolism kicked into over-drive, sometime around my sophomore year of college (for the record, I did nothing to cause this. I was eating cafe food and late night “Molca Salsa”, exercising less than I did in high school…none of it makes sense!), and I suddenly weighed 15 pounds less than I was accustomed, I swore off one-piece bathing suits. Who knows…maybe I was rebelling, just a little?

Surprisingly, after I had G and thanks to the absence of stretch marks (thanks for the genes, mom!), I was able to wear a 2 piece once more.

But, let’s be honest here…Baby SnowCone is due in April. In CA, that’s when people start wearing shorts and tank tops. Instead of having 8 months of breastfeeding to take off all that baby belly, I’ll have just days/weeks.

Yes, realism. (And, yes, I realize the complete and utter irony of that statement, seeing as I am 7 months pregnant, sitting next to a roaring fire, eating cheesecake, dreaming of bathing suits).

So…perhaps a one-piece bathing suit is in order here? Just to take off some of the pressure? To spare the world one more muffin top floating in some pool?

Being honest, it’s been years, YEARS since I bought a one-piece bathing suit. Approx. 8 years, to be exact. So I had no idea what I was looking for.

Until I saw this adorable suit in Anthropologie’s new collection:

Totally cute and retro, right?

The only problem? The price tag. $148!!!

Wow. No thanks. I’d rather buy a house!

But then, I found this suit at Shape FX.

comes with a removable halter

Almost identical.

The price?

Normally, $79.  Right now, however??? On sale for $10.

It’s almost like I just made that up, it’s so wayyy too good to be true! Hard to believe, even!

Actually, there are probably a lot of things you’re finding hard to believe right now…

But I can’t possibly think that I’m the only pregnant woman, dreaming of one day wearing a swimsuit again? That actually seems pretty probable, no?

 

New…couch!

I’ve been waiting for this couch for MONTHS. Literally. I’ve checked Craigslist daily, typing in the words, “vintage couch”, hoping for one to pop up in our price range.

The problem with most couches like this?

They’re either wildly expensive:

Exhibit A: Anthropologie couch, $3,200

Or they have some ugly 70’s print that needs a reupholstery job (which can run about $800):

Exhibit B

Or they are torn up from years of use/abuse:

Exhibit C

I’ve been searching for something JUST LIKE this ever since we sold our huge beast of a Chesterfield sofa back in Dallas (it LOOKED cool, but it was one of the most uncomfortable things EVER).

Exhibit AWESOME

But I’ve had no luck. The couches were all Exhibits A-C. Until last night, when someone posted this couch!

Exhibit "Match-Made-In-Heaven"

I was the first to email her, so it’s ours! I already drove out and paid her for it, since there were tons of offers. Mint condition, perfect neutral color, and only $200! 😀

Must-Have Deal for Moms

I just HAVE to shout this deal from the rooftops. I’m sure many of you know about it or use it, but I dragged my feet for months and didn’t take advantage of it!

A few months ago, about the time we moved to CA, I bought an Amazon Prime Membership for $79. We don’t have many of the stores I’m used to around here, and this membership gives Free 2-Day Shipping. For example, I ordered G’s Christmas Presents on Wednesday the 21st, and they arrived Friday the 23rd. It was awesome! No shopping needed, and I got all the wood toys/puzzles and books that I wanted, instead of having to settle for plastic.

What I didn’t realize was that on baby-related purchases, one can sign up for the “Mommy Membership”, which automatically gives you free shipping and 15% off! And it’s free!

Why did I finally decide to sign up? What finally pushed me to the edge?

My mom has politely asked that for the remaining 4-5 months that we live with them, we use disposable diapers. There are a couple of factors to consider.

Firstly, instead of just 3 people sharing a washer and dryer, like we did in Dallas, there are now 6 people to consider (sometimes 7-8, depending on who’s home!). This means a lot of laundry. The diapers commandeer the washer/dryer for many cycles, and, when you add in 4-5 showers a day, it’s hard to find the time run them.

Secondly, instead of just 2 people changing G’s diapers, there are 4-5. Not all of them are used to cloth diapers. They forget to fold the velcro tabs or they accidentally throw an occasional disposable in with the cloth, making for a DISASTER. Plus, my mom doesn’t like them a whole lot. And, since she changes a lot of diapers lately…well, let’s just say, I want to keep her happy! 😉

Thirdly, since we change G’s diaper all over the house (especially whilst Joe is home from school, since he takes over G’s usual room), we have been misplacing snappies, covers, etc. We also have to keep the diaper pail in the laundry room, causing stink issues. Bad smells and scented candles are two of my mom’s biggest pet peeves.

So, I completely understand that my mom would rather us wait to use our cloth diapers until we have our own place. Not only is it reasonable, but she also offered to pay for them!

But one dilemma remained– I hate most disposable diapers. Huggies, Pampers, you name it. I can’t even count the number of times G’s woken up COVERED HEAD TO TOE in those nasty chemical gel beads. I’m just thanking God he hasn’t tried to eat any of them yet! They also cause horrible diaper rash (picture scabs) on road trips.

In desperation, I shelled out $13 for a small pack of Seventh Generation diapers at our local health foods store.

OMG. I’M IN LOVE!

They hold G’s overnight pee even better than the Overnight Pampers (he’s rarely even damp in the mornings, whereas before the entire bed was soaked, including his sheets and blankets!). No chemicals. No diaper rash. Biodegradable.

The only downside? The price. $2-3 more per pack.

Unless……you buy them through Amazon!

Now, we have a subscription through Mommy Amazon, meaning they will automatically ship (for FREE!) a pack of  diapers to our doorstep every month, saving us an extra 5%! That’s a total savings of 20%! Plus, there’s no sales tax!

So, instead of paying $15/pack (with tax), my mom is paying $7.50/pack, with free shipping to our door. That makes for around $40/month for disposable diapers. No trips to the store. Not as affordable as cloth, but pretty good!

So, if your kid uses disposables, I not only HIGHLY recommend Seventh Generation diapers, but also the Amazon Mommy Subscription! It’s free, so why not?

We got a new car!!

We finally found the car and pulled the trigger. A “brand-new-to-us” Rav4!

This car is absolutely perfect for us in so many ways! First of all, it’s a certified used car through Toyota of Santa Maria, which means we still have the original powertrain warranty, along with 12 months of comprehensive already included. Having a certified used car is, I think, the way to go when buying a used car. They have to meet very strict standards to be certified– for instance, our Corolla would not have been eligible for certification, since we would’ve had to replace a few exterior panels due to hail damage before selling! Basically, a certified vehicle has not only never been in an accident, but it also hasn’t had anything original replaced, including exterior panels.

It’s a 2008, so it has just over 40k miles on it (a baby, when it comes to a Honda or Toyota!). Someone leased it for 3 years, turned it in, and now it’s ours! Our Toyota had 30k+ on it when it got totalled, so we are basically in the same boat, but with a MUCH MUCH lower car payment, due to the lower price and due to the fact that we had a big down payment.

It’s also the perfect kind of car for us. The more and more we researched, the more and more we kept coming back to the Rav4. It has the most cargo room of any of the crossovers. It has a trunk door that swings out instead of being a hatchback (so much easier! wow!). It sits up higher so it will be perfect for buckling in two carseats on a day to day basis (I didn’t even find this important until we borrowed a higher-sitting car for 4 months…it’s sooo much easier!). It’s got extremely peppy acceleration– we were uber-impressed. This particular model even has a couple of things we weren’t counting on– 4 Wheel Dr for the snow and ice (too bad we’re no longer in Dallas!), and roof racks!

Part of our journey towards this car was deciding that even if we could afford to pay cash, to purposefully finance instead. The reasons for this are two-fold and can be better explained in another post, one that I’ve been dying to write, about our “plan” for moving out, etc. The first reason, in short hand, is that we are trying to bump Jesse’s credit score up into a new bracket. It’s not the “Dave Ramsey Way”, but then again, we follow Jesus, not good ole Dave. 🙂 The second reason is that because we got such good financing, the APR on this car is the SAME or LOWER than ALL of our student loans. Some of our student loans are triple what the interest rate is on this car. Any extra money not needed will first go towards those.

How did we settle on this car? We first looked into buying a few older (2004, 2005) civics or corollas. Turns out, however, that banks get really stingy about financing that old of a vehicle. After trying for about 2 weeks to make that happen, it looked as though we were going to have to go 2006 or newer, which pushed everything into a whole new price bracket. This car ended up being about the same cost as a 2006 civic, but with many fewer miles.

After Jesse and I sat on the decision to get a certified used Rav 4 for a few days, we both felt confident that it was the right move. He was never too thrilled about the civic idea (he’s such a Toyota guy now, it’s scary), and since we only drive about 5 minutes to school, buying a car purely for the gas efficiency didn’t seem to be wise, especially with Baby #2 on the way.

I found the best deals, not surprisingly, in the LA area. We are already going down to LA this weekend to see David and the Berrys (just realized…”Dave Barry”…haha!), so it seemed like good timing. I started emailing a few dealers to see if they would “deal”.

And then we found this car at the Toyota dealer in Santa Maria. It was more expensive than the ones in LA, but I’ve heard stories of the “legend” that my dad is when it comes to haggling for a car, so Jesse and I decided that I would go with him last night to check this one out. If anything, I thought, it would be good to test drive a 4 cylinder (the one we test drove in TX was V6). Jesse didn’t come because he’s now coaching basketball most evenings for an hour or two– a dream come true 🙂

From the time I picked my dad up at work in SLO until the time we pulled up to the dealer in Santa Maria, he pepped talked me into how we would “battle”. He even quoted General Patton. It was intense. 🙂

We played everything just right. We test drove the car, took time off to “talk” on the side of the building, making them wait a long time, etc. I called Jesse, and we agreed that we would set the bar really high. If I could talk this guy down thousands of dollars off of the asking price, we would buy the car tonight. Both of us, however, didn’t believe that that was possible.

We haggled for a while with the dealer. He left and came back 3 times. Each time he left, I called Jesse, enabling me to say to the guy that he needed to beat the price of another dealer in LA or my husband wouldn’t let us buy the car 🙂 Blame it on Jesse!

But it worked! The 3rd time, he came back and shook our hands and said congratulations! In the end, we got the car for 2 thousand dollars less than the KBB value (the dealer’s asking price). Plus, we don’t have to spend valuable time this weekend buying a car instead of hanging out with friends. Trenna just had surgery and David won’t be coming home for Thanksgiving, so this is kind of important!

Jesse has to drive down today to sign a few papers (since we purposefully put it into his credit instead of mine) and deliver our down payment check, but it’s ours!

Overall, this experience was really valuable. I was shocked to find how easy it is to start knocking tons of $ off an asking price (I’ve done it at garage sales, but never with a moving vehicle!). I also learned some really good bargaining techniques from my Dad. While not quite a legend, he’s close 😉

It really is quite a testimony to Jesse’s and my working relationship. Since I’m the researcher (and apparently, now a graduate of the School of Car Haggling!), it made sense that I do the leg work on this one. I actually enjoy stuff like this, as does my dad (hmmm, wonder where I get it from?). But Jesse still made every important decision over the phone, down to even the small details like whether we would get additional maintenance coverage or GAP insurance (we turned down the GAP insurance, even in spite of our accident, because we were already buying the car for thousands less than an insurance company would appraise it for). Overall, we made quite the team. Jesse said he felt like he was completely in control the entire time, even though my dad and I were the ones doing the bargaining. And I feel an entirely new sense of ownership on this car, seeing as I sort of made it happen 🙂

More later! Gotta go get ready for “Nickelodeon Invades Rocks Your School”!

 

 

On Top Of It

Yeah. Right.

But I have (at least) designed and ordered our Christmas card! Lest you think I’m just THAT GOOD at thinking ahead, what we really have here is I found a good deal. A FREE deal. And I couldn’t pass up a free deal, now could I?

Rite Aid’s photo dept. (at riteaid.com) is offering 15 free 4×8 Photo Cards! I signed up with both Jesse’s and my email addresses, so we have 30 free prints ready for pick up by tomorrow!

If you want some for yourself, you just type in “FREECARDS” at checkout! It’s that easy!

New Dresser

It may seem odd to get so excited about a dresser, but let me tell you. Having a bad or ill-suited dresser makes life sorta difficult on an everyday basis. I’ve always skimped on dressers, buying cheaper ones that I wanted to paint. It’s taken me 6 dressers (Gregory’s included) over the course of 5 years to learn the truth– you get what you pay for. Real wood instead of particle board? Drawers that are deep enough? Drawers that slide nicely?

See, none of those even had to do with the dresser’s appearance, which was all I used to care about.

How awesome that this dresser is all of those things, including the perfect shabby chic/iron accents style for our bedroom?