Not Cut Out For Coupons. (Tulsa Kids Magazine)

Happy New Year!  I’ve finally emerged from my hiding place at Camp Tough Love.  I must be part bear – because I have basically hibernated for the past two weeks.  So – Nancy and friends – I still haven’t written about our epic ice -skating disaster. (As Cam on Modern Family would say – :”Let it scab, Nancy, let it scab…”) But don’t you worry – it’s coming.  Along with video and photos to boot.

In the meantime – I thought I would share with you my latest article for the January issue of Tulsa Kids Magazine about saving moolah at the grocery store.  Without cutting coupons.  Thanks to all my readers that helped contribute to the article!  Now if I could just get ya’ll to do my shopping for me…

Image

I do NOT recommend taking four kids to the grocery store.  No matter how darn cute they are. 

Read and enjoy! 

 

Meet the Teacher. And other forms of Parent Torture.

If there is a Hell, then I’m pretty sure I’ve been there.

In fact – I just barely escaped – twisted ankle, diaperless baby and soaking wet to boot. 

This hell was in the form of Nicholas’s “Meet the Teacher Day”. 

It sounds rather innocent – right? 

Back to School

My big boy and Baby J on the way to meet the teacher. The calm before the storm.

Unless it’s 100 + degrees, you have no idea where you are going, you are going with your ex and his wife and there are about 5,000 other families crammed in one place just as confused as you are. 

Oh – and if you also wear high heels.  Because I didn’t realize we would be taking a ten-mile trek around the campus (which might I add is at least twice the size of my COLLEGE campus…and that  is just the elementary school). 

Oh -and you forget your baby stroller.  For the 10-mile trek in the 100 degree weather in your high heels carrying a very heavy and cranky toddler. 

I mean, it’s not like I could very well ask my ex to carry my baby now could I?  So he carries the school supplies and I schlep a 25 pound toddler(did I mention I was wearing heels?).

We were told to meet in the cafeteria.  Unfortunately, no one clued us in that Nic’s new school has FIVE of them.  And we show up at the wrong one.  And of course it was on the other side of the campus (ummm…anyone heard of signs?).

We finally made it to the right cafeteria.  Along with the rest of the population of West Tulsa County.  (Did I also mention that I live in EAST Tulsa?  But that’s a whole ‘nother blog). 

Seriously?  These are all going to be Nic’s classmates?  All 5,000 of them?  We are completely shell shocked.  It is worse than School Field Trip Day at the State Fair.  Minus the animal smells.

There are so many lines – you can’t tell what is what.  Or who is who.  And it is so hot my underwear is beginning to sweat. 

Lines for enrollment, lines for bus stops, lines for lunch program, lines for car tags.  You name it – there is a line.  unfortunately, there is no line for a bar.

Actually, having the exes came in quite handy – as we were able to divide and conquer the labyrinth of lines.  (gotta find the silver lining somewhere). 

Somehow, in the midst of the chaos – Baby J manages to take off her diaper.  Completely off.  It is gone.  And I’m not about to go looking for it in the sea of people.  Do I have another one with me?  Of course I don’t – because  it’s in the car –  which is 10 miles away.

We finally get the golden ticket.  We can actually go MEET the teacher (we had only been there for over an hour at this point).  And is his classroom in the same building?  Of course it’s not.  That would make things just way too easy.

Again, we trek to another part of the campus and finally find the blessed building.  (While I’m holding paper towels inbetween my baby’s legs praying that she can hold it for a few more minutes).  Seriously, do we REALLY need to meet the teacher?  We have all freaking year to get to know her…

Anyway – we find the classroom.  A cute little teeny bopper bounces up to us.  Must be someone’s big sister.

“Hi!  I’m Nicholas’s teacher!”

Ummm.  What?  Are you kidding?  Are you even old enough to drive?  And you are going to teach my child?

Before I can reflect on the realization of how freaking old I am – Baby J has managed to destroy Miss Teeny Bopper’s cute little display.  In less than five minutes. ( It was actually quite impressive.)

On that note – and before the inevitable pee all over the floor – Baby J and I get the heck out of there. Pretty sure I won’t be asked to be Homeroom Mom. 

Ten miles and a twisted ankle later (I will never again wear heels)…we made it to the car.

As we sped away – I noticed a flurry of paper in my rearview mirror.

Yep – that would be Nic’s school handbook that I left on the hood of the car.

Back to School

The remnants of Nic's school folder.

Sure hope we don’t need that.

(P.S.)  Yes, we made it back from vacay.  Almost in one piece. 🙂  Blog coming soon on our road trip adventures complete with milking goats, petty theft and our encounter with the only tornado to hit the Rocky Mountains in a bazillion years.  Stay tuned.

Dining Out With Kids without Breaking The Bank.

Okay.  I think everyone here knows me well enough to know that I’m pretty much no good in the kitchen.  That is an understatement.  And while my hubby does the lion’s share of the cooking (hey, I can handle microwave dinners and mac and cheese), even he gets tired of slaving over a stove.

And yet, the alternative is eating out…which when trying to feed a family of six can cost a small fortune. 

So, my friend, partner in crime and also frugal mom Nancy, gave me the brilliant idea of putting together a list of places where kids can either eat free or at a discount.  And since I am lazy and hate to do research – I just asked my awesome Facebook Friends (see Shane, Facebook IS good for something) for their input and voila!  I have a list.  And it’s a darn good one too.

So thanks to Nan and facebook – I can now pass the love onto you.  And for those of you in the Tulsa area – BONUS!  My fave restarant – Elote (who by the way has $2 puffy taco night on Wednesdays) is giving away a $25 gift certificate to one of my readers! (so that is a dozen puffy tacos for your family! Or, in my case – one puffy taco and 10 margaritas…but that is another blog entirely). 

Ummm. Puffy Tacos from Elote. My mouth is watering.

So my money saving friends who are sick of cooking and need a break – here you go!

Chain Restaurant Kid/FamilyDeals:

Steak n Shake – Kids eat free on weekends– one free meal for every $8 spent.  Dine in only.

Cosi – Kids eat free Monday – Wednesdays!

Qdoba – Kids eat for $1.50 on Sundays!

IHOP – Kids eat free from 4-8 p.m. everyday at IHOP.  Check location first to make sure they participate.

Denny’s – Kids eat free from 4-10 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays!

Chili’s – Kids eat free on most Tuesdays (with purchase of an adult entree). 

Mazzios –  Large one-topping pizza for $6.99 on Mondays (carry-out only)

Flying Burrito – Kids (12 and under)  eat free Monday – Wednesday (with purchase of adult entree).

Locally Owned Restaurant Kid/Family Deals:

Firehouse Subs on Memorial – Kids eat free on Friday’s with purchase of adult entree.

Leon’s – Kids eat free on Sundays from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m (with purchase of adult entree).

Whole Foods – On Wednesdays, buy one adult entree and get one kids meal free!

El Guapo’s – $1 carnitas on Tuesdays

Joe Mama’s Pizza – $5 one topping pizzas on Tuesdays

Elote Cafe – $2 puffy tacos on Wednesdays (evenings only).

Mod’s Gelato and Crepes – $2 gelato on Wednesdays (evenings only).

McNellie’s – $3 burgers on Wednesdays (evenings only).

Dilly Deli – Kids eat free on Thursdays (with adult paid entree)

Caz’s Chowhouse – Kids eat free on Wednesdays from 5-9 p.m. (with adult paid entree)

Ollie’s – Kids 10 and under eat free on Tuesdays (with adult paid entree)

Chimi’s – Kids eat free on Mondays (with adult paid entree)

Tin Star – Kids eat free on Wednesdays – 4-9 p.m. (with adult paid entree)

Senior Tequila – Kids 11 and under eat free on Tuesdays after 4 p.m.

Heavenly gelato from Mods. Great way to beat the heat. And only $2 on Wednesdays!

 And there are even more on facebook (see Shane??) – just “Like” the Kids Eat Free page and click on the discussion tab…even more free goodness!

So honey – we have our dinners planned out for the next month – no cooking for you.  I’ll take care of it. (oh, but I will need to borrow your wallet…).

Don’t forget to comment by Friday July 22 for a chance to win some puffy taco goodness from Elote Cafe!

(oh – and a belated congrats to the winners of Ding Bats and The Gadget Company gift certficiates – Maggie Pool and Wendy Haines!   Yay!  And thanks for reading!)

Happy eating AND saving money!  It just doesn’t get better than that.  Then that extra money can go towards wine…oops, I mean the kids’ college fund…

Cousin Camp. Not for the Faint of Heart – (and another giveaway from May Books!)

It’s been three days since Cousin Camp and I’m still recovering.  I’m also pretty sure my parents will think twice before having all six grandkids at their house for an extended period of time.  Or anyone in our family for that matter. 

It really wasn’t a formal camp – in fact – it was kind of an accident that all six kids ended up at my parent’s house at the same time.  An accident that drove even my mother to partake in my “Skip and Go Naked” vodka drink.  (but no worries, she didn’t get naked).

However, the four boys did.  Got naked SEVERAL times – without the help of vodka.  That was one of their favorite games.  In fact, I spent several hours picking up discarded clothes and trying to keep the boys at least in their underpants.  I mean it was really hot – but STILL. 

Another favorite game during “cousin camp” was “find the baby”.  This happened when all the adults were trying to wrangle the four boys and we realized no one was watching Baby J.  Then it was a race to see who could find her first.  In panic mode.  Her favorite spot to hide was in the bathroom while unrolling all the toilet paper.  Oh yeah – and she can also shut doors.  And sit in front of them so you can’t open them. 

camp summer fun

Baby J likes to hide incognito

Other activities at camp included the daily arguing over who played with what super-hero, ninja fighting in mom’s living room by all her antiques, daily trips to the snow cone stand (we filled two punch cards during our stay), and several mixed drinks for the “counselors”. 

summer time cousin camp

Downtime at Cousin Camp

Oh yeah – we also did a field trip.  My best friend lives on a farm outside of my hometown.  And she has horses, cows and even a pot-bellied pig.  Nicholas was in animal heaven.  Mommy was in allergy hell.  But all the kids got to feed a calf from a bottle.  Other than Baby J who freaked out – everyone thought that was pretty cool.  Nicholas is now jockeying for his own pig.  I’m thinking that is a great gift for his dad to get him. 

Field trip to the farm

Now this is some good stuff.Nicholas with his new BFF - Coco the Pig.

Now my favorite activity was “run the kids around the block several times in their pj’s before bed so they would pass out” game.  After a sleepless night the night before – -kids up and down all night, Baby J crying, dad’s water heater alarm going off, (seriously, he has an alarm for that.  And it is LOUD- I thought the house was going to blow up) and my other insomnia related issues – I decided to try a new approach. 

It didn’t go over so well with the kids.  But hey, they slept through the night. 

cousins crashed out on floor

Did I mention we also slipped them some Tylenol?

My dad’s favorite pastime was the “group time out” when the boys would wake up Baby J from her nap. 

Group Time out at Summer Camp

I highly recommend Group TIme Out

No, wait, I take that back.  My dad’s favorite activity was helping us pack up the car so we could leave cousin camp.  And never come back.

Road trip with kids

We successfully wore the boys out. Baby J is still a little stunned from the entire experience.

Now I keep a diary of all these things so I can pass along my stories to you.  And I keep it in a super cute notebook from MayBooks.  I met  Mica May earlier this year and she has fabulous stuff – check out her website – (great for gifts too!).  And one of you will get one of her adorable notebooks so  you too – can keep track of your crazy stories.  Or grocery lists, love letters, whatever floats your boat.  Just leave me a comment by Wed. June 15th and I’ll draw a winner!

mica may notebook giveaway

One of Mica May's super cute notebooks that I'm giving away!

Sex on the Beach – Stranded in Mexico.

I know.  Worse places to be stranded.  Yada Yada Yada.  But for those that know us for less than five minutes know our less than stellar luck with air travel.  Or any travel for that matter.  Why we keep putting ourselves in this situation is just beyond me.  I obviously was desperate for some umbrella drinks and cabana boys.

Vacation without the kiddos

Ahh...the beach.

And no, mom and dad, we didn’t have sex on the beach.  It’s a drink.  Promise.

So hubby wanted to whisk me away to the beaches of Playa Del Carmen to lessen the pain of turning 40.  He’s a pretty sweet guy.

And I was rarin’ to go and do absolutely nothing but eat, drink and sleep.  And sleep.

But first, we had to get there.  Easier said than done. 

For a quick recap of our epic travel disasters…here’s a few oldies but goodies.

https://marniefernandez.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/planes-trains-and-automobiles-or-why-the-fernandez-family-will-never-travel-again/

And before I could get to that sleep part – we had to catch a 6 a.m. flight.  And for my overly anal husband, that means get to the airport at 4.  Which means we get up at 3.  And because I was so paranoid about oversleeping so I could get to the beach and sleep some more – I didn’t sleep.  At all.

Headed to the airport without much of a hitch.  Until we got to the ticket gate. 

Apparently, there were no planes.  At all.  Really?  This is an airport, people…what do you mean there are no planes?

It’s my birthday and I need to get to the beach STAT.

Apparently, American Airlines didn’t care about my birthday.  Because there were still no planes.  Until noon.  Which means we wouldn’t get to Playa until that night which cut an entire day out of my plan to sleep.  Yes, I had a breakdown.  In front of the ticketing agent.  (In my defense, I was going off 1 hour of sleep AND it was that time of the month…Happy Birthday to Me). 

Fast forward – we finally got on a plane.  After being harassed at the airport, a long shuttle ride and an hour wait in line to check in our resort – we were FINALLY in our room.  We threw the suitcases down, grabbed our suits and were bound and determined to at least have one umbrella drink and catch the sunset on the beach.

Not so fast.  I walk out the bathroom and notice a huge puddle of water.  That was getting bigger.  I walk into our living room – and it is FLOODED.  I am so not kidding.  I JUST WANTED TO GO TO THE BEACH.  AND SLEEP. AND HAVE A DAMN PINA COLADA.  Yes, our neighbor fell asleep in his jacuzzi tub.  And forgot to turn it off.  His room was far worse than ours…think undies floating down the hall…and they weren’t cute ones either.

By this time, it is evening.  We’ve missed the entire day and are so sleepy we can hardly stand up.  But we still head to the pool for a quick drink.  And a not so quick trip to the bathroom.  I somehow got lost.  And our resort is huge – like bigger than my hometown.  It took me 30 minutes to find Shane again.  And he was NOT happy – as he has decided I’ve been kidnapped by the natives and is on his way to call security.  Let’s just say it was time to call it a night.

The rest of our trip was blissfully uneventful.  I read three books, slept and drank.  That is all.

beach vacation

The crash of the ocean waves...sounds just like Baby J's noise machine...

beach vacation

Yes, that is my hiney. Thanks, Shane.

Beach vacation

One of the few moments we were not lying in lounge chairs.

 

Then it was time to come home. 

Okay.  This is just not even funny anymore.  So I’ll just give you the highlights. 

Arrive at airport 3 hours early.  Yay us!

Flight is delayed, which is a good thing, because it took us 2 hours to get through the ticketing line.

Go through Immigration and Customs….sit down to eat dinner….FLIGHT IS CANCELLED.  Until the next day.  And our phones don’t work in Mexico.

Go BACK through Immigration and Customs…spend $100 in phone calls to the army taking care of our children…another $100 trying to get back to the resort (after being at the airport for 7 hours).  Airlines tell us to call to rebook our flight.  Are you kidding me?  Another $100 in calls to the airlines.  Another long shuttle ride back to the resort to our room which is now being inhabited by my brother and sis-in-law.  SURPRISE!  So much for their romantic night.  Sleep on the couch.  STart all over the next day.

Made it to Dallas – YAY!  Again, not so fast.  Plane delayed again.  And again. And again.  By this time we are almost postal.  Good thing Shane had the foresight to take my brass knuckles off my key chain – because I think I would have used them.

Then that would be a whole ‘nother story.  Mexican prison. Would probably make for a good reality TV show.

Help for the Haggard Mommy – Tips for Looking Younger

They say that having kids keeps you young.  WHATEVER.  I call Bull—- on that one.

If that theory was true, then I should look about 21.

Who makes up this stuff anyway?  Whoever “they” are obviously don’t have children.   Or mirrors.

So, as I am rapidly approaching my 40th…YIKES…and feeling every bit of it….this tired and haggard mama has decided to take a stand.

(Just go back a few posts to read why I’m so haggard.  You will be too from just reading it. https://marniefernandez.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/survivor-the-real-housewife-of-camp-tough-love/)

anti aging tips for mommies

One tired and haggard mommy

I’m not going down without a fight.

So I have decided to share the wealth and offer some tips (sans nip and tucks – that just scares the bejeezus out of me)…for looking younger.  And even better?  I’m gonna give away some of this awesomeness I have discovered.  Just post a comment on my blog by Friday April 15th and you will be entered in a drawing to win…drumroll please…

1.  A anti-aging facial with plant peel from Ihloff Salon and Day Spa (value – $140)

2. A anti-aging gift set from Avon (value- $100)

That’s pretty nice of  me huh?  I thought so.  You can thank me later.

So I’m going to share some of my tips I have discovered – I spent a day of “research” at the Ihloff Salon and Day Spa (tough job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it) and I’ve spent several weeks sampling products from Avon’s ANEW line.  People, this is NOT your mother’s Avon.  They’ve got some pretty awesome stuff.  Plus I’ve done some research on some other easy ways to fight this whole getting older thing.  Feel free to forward on the love.

Marn’s Tips For Fighting the Ages

Face:

            Always use sunscreen – this is an oldie but goodie.  I wish I had listened back in the days of laying out with baby oil on trampolines with my high school friends.  We were idiots. 😦  I  recommend Avon’s Anew Rejuvinate Day Revitalizing Cream – SPF 25  -this stuff is the bomb and you can use it as your moisturizer too.

            Use products with retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids – you may have heard this word before because they work.  This is where the Avon line has some really awesome stuff that won’t break the pocket-book.  I’ve been using their ANEW night cream with alpha hydroxy.  Love it.  You can feel it working.

            Get a peel to address uneven tone, rough texture and enlarged pores – So I had this done at Ihloff (by Ashley) and I loved it so much they are donating it to one of you lucky ducks.  Not only does it feel amazing to have your face massaged for oh- about an hour – my face is still glowing. 

This anti-aging facial is clinically proven to lift and firm your skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  It also includes their Perfecting Plant Peel which is equivalent of a 30% glycolic peel, but without the redness and irritation of other glycolic peels.  For best results, it is also recommended that the Green Science home care system are used in conjunction with this in-salon program.

ANti aging tips for mommies

Yes, that is me at Ihloff Salon and Day Spa getting the anti-aging facial. Yes those are tea bags. Who knew they had so many uses?

              Don’t use face powder – this can make you look older b/c the powder settles into fine lines and can make skin look dull.  And we certainly don’t want that.

              Apply blush to the apples of your cheeks – not the contours like we have been told in the past.  This makes you look hallow.

Eyes:

            Always use an eye cream – I have been using the Avon Clinical Eye Lift for months and LOVE IT.  And it is only a fraction of the price of the department store creams.  Only $28.  Then you can spend the rest of the money on shoes. 

            Fix saggy lids by using a medium deep shade of shadow – and apply in the crease for an instant eye lift.

            Use a product spefically for Crow’s Feet – I use the crow’s feet corrector from Avon. 

           Use tea bags to de-puff your eyes – but let them cool down first.  🙂

 Body:

            Exfoliate once a week – I had the anti aging cocoa body scrub at Ihloff.  OMG is all I have to say.  Not only did it feel heavenly to have someone else rub it in – I smelled like a brownie for the rest of the day.   Cocoa has lots of antioxidants (yay for chocolate!) that gets absorbed into your body while at the same time sloughing off the dead skin.  I am glowing from head to toe.  Just make sure to moisturize as soon as you finish.

*Ihloff also carries scrubs that you can buy and use in the shower (although I recommend Heather – she is fabulous). 

(Another fun tip – use a toothbrush to exfoliate your lips…then put on your lip balm.  Lips feel so soft!)

Looking younger tips for mommies

Heaven. A cocoa body scrub. I smelled like a brownie. A younger looking brownie

            Don’t use lotions that contain petroleum jelly and/or mineral oil – Ihloff only uses Aveda products – so they are plant-based.  Their hand and foot relief creams are amazing.  

            Treat forgotten parts (whatever product/sunscreen you use on face, use on neck and chest / use sunscreen on hands).

            Use product w/ retinol and peptides to reduce neck wrinkles – because who wants to look like a shar pei?

 Hair:

            Massage scalp and/or brush daily to stimulate hair growth/shine – this was a new one for me – Lauren, the awesome hair designer at Ihloff clued me in on this tip (as she was rubbing my scalp…bliss…)

            Wash hair every other day – ummm… for us moms who getting in a weekly shower is huge – this should be a no-brainer.

            Deep condition once a week – and if you can afford it – go visit Lauren at Ihloff for a decadent hair spa treatment. 

Anti aging tips for mommies

My hair is turning younger as we speak...

            Use leave-in conditioner everyday –recommend Aveda Damage Control – it doesn’t weigh your hair down.

            Bangs give instant facelift – Just don’t cut them yourself. 🙂  I recommend Lauren at Ihloff.  She rocks. 

 Other:

            Eat an orange a day to help prevent wrinkles– Apparently women who had an orange a day have 11% fewer wrinkles.  Fresh OJ anyone?

            Take Omega -3 supplement daily to keep skin soft and supple – just don’t take it hiking with you.  Bears tend to be drawn to the fish oil.  Learned this the hard way. 

            Drink one glass of green tea a day to prevent/reverse sun damage – Easy peasy!  I love this stuff anyway. 

            Sleep on back or on silk pillowcase to reduce wrinkles – (I snore, so sleeping on my back is not an option. 🙂 

Here is the website to the Avon products – Stacie will even deliver to your door – no extra charge! – http://smcfarlin.avonrepresentative.com/

And the Ihloff Salon and Day Spa.  They have two locations in Tulsa, one in Norman and even in KC!  http://www.ihloffspa.com/

I also found lots of other tips on looking younger from Prevention Magazine (yes, horror of horrors – when did I get old enough to read this??)   http://www.prevention.com/100waysyounger/ 

Don’t forget to post a comment on my blog between now and April 15th so you can win!

Anti aging tips for mommies

The finished product. Thanks Ihloff Salon and Day Spa!

March on Mommies!   We don’t have to go down gracefully.