Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stuff For Mom

Being a mom is 24-hour job (even if you work outside the home), with no coffee breaks, paid vacation, sick leave, or worker's comp (tennis elbow and carpel tunnel from holding a colicky baby for hours on end, anyone?). After spending all this effort to get the very best in (free) name-brand diapers, formula, and education for your children, you deserve something nice for YOU.

Let's start off with some free chocolate. Some free Godiva chocolate. Yes, that's Godiva chocolate, as in the $10-for-four-pieces kind. This is why my blog is called the Name-Brand Mommy, not the lousy-cheap-generic-store-brand Mommy (even though that's realistically all I could afford without these freebies). Just sign up for a Godiva rewards card, and in addition to earning free chocolate when you make Godiva purchases (yeah, right), you'll automatically get a free sample of chocolate in the mail every month. Imagine what a treat it will be when, after a long day of unappreciated cleaning, cooking, and chauffeuring, a piece of quality chocolate arrives unexpectedly in your mailbox.

The next thing you need is a pedicure. As if you have time for that, right? Okay, then, how about a free super-rich foot cream. Kerasal is the good stuff. I promise. And you deserve it, after all your feet have been through (chasing after babies and walking for hours through Wal*Mart).

And how about a party? Yea, okay, sounds like more work than relaxation. But how about a professionally-planned party with food and entertainment provided? House Party offers users the chance to test new products-- new foods, unreleased albums, and pre-screened movies, software, games, and crafts. You pick who to invite, and House Party manages your RSVPs, plans your party, and provides the stuff. You even get extra freebies for hosting the party. Like a Tupperware or Pampered Chef party, only you don't have to try to sell anything. If it still sounds like too much of a challenge, sign up and you could wind up as a guest at a party in your area and still get the free stuff. And a night off. Woo-hoo!

Enjoy your freebies... next post, we'll return the attention to your adorable and deserving kids ;)

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Name-Brand Education

As new parents, we probably all fantasize about where our children will wind up. These fantasies do not usually include the words 'community college' (not to dis on them; I will be at a local community college next semester, in fact). But the truth of the matter is, we all want to see our children get into a big-name university; something Ivy-League would be nice. And if not fully covered in Ivy, then at least a university with a few leaves to its name.

How do we get our kids there? The first thing we can do is aid their development as much as possible, starting as young as possible. You don't need the fancy expensive genius baby tutors; Parents as Teachers will do the trick. Even if you're still pregnant, they'll meet with you (for free, of course) and discuss what you can be doing to help your child have every advantage possible. They will continue to meet with you and evaluate your child's needs, and what you can do to reach the next developmental milestones, well into toddlerhood.

You can also help your child to reach milestones provide developmentally-appropriate toys for your child; Enter to win $100 in free toys from Fisher-Price or a Baby Einstein Package. Reading to your child every night has also been shown to improve academic success. Although not a replacement for reading to you child, these free audio children's books will be a greatly enjoyed supplement for in the car-- or whenever.

You can aid the intellectual development of a child of any age-- or of yourself-- by attending museums and other expositions. On Saturday, September 26 (Museum Day), you can attend most museums for free-- just download a free admission card from the Smithsonian website.

Of course, the next question is, how to afford Yale or Stanford? The name-brand university costs quite a bit more than the generic community college! If your kid is still in diapers, I recommend Upromise. A division of Sallie Mae, UPromise gives you cash back on grocery purchases, restaurant meals, online shopping, and many other purchases-- even for major appliances, such as refrigerators and houses-- and puts the saved cash towards your kid's college fund. Brilliant. Imagine how much money you'll spend on, well, stuff in the next 18 years. Now imagine if you could use 8% to pay for college. Dartmouth: paid for.

If your kid's a little older and looking at going to college in the next couple years, or if you're looking at going back to college soon, it may be more realistic to set your sights on scholarships. Make sure your kid (or you) takes all of the practice ACTs and SATs he or she possibly can, as well as any IB or AP classes he or she can reasonably handle. Free practice questions are available online; you school or community may also offer affordable prep classes. Schools also want students who exhibit leadership, so your kid should be involved in extracurricular activities: sports, clubs, and community service. Bonus points if he or she wins a major award for organizing a community service project, like these fine gentlemen (high school friends of mine).

Once your resume is ready, start applying for scholarships. Zinch and Fastweb will match you up with scholarships based on personal strengths and extracurricular activities.

Whether you child's in diapers or high school, hopefully these resources will help you to see that name-brand pennant on their bedroom wall in the years to come. =)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When you need something you just don't have...

Sophie and I joined a baby-parent group at our local birthcare center, which meets for an hour and a half midmorning once a week, and it was just wonderful. I strongly recommend looking for one in your area, or joining an online community for new moms such as Strong Moms, Cafe Mom, or Mom Logic. These communities offer excellent support:something every mother needs.

While at the parent-baby group, the nurse who directs the group and answers questions firmly suggested that I see my doctor ASAP because I just wasn't healing right. So I called my ob/gyn at about 11, and the receptionist was sure I could get in some time that day, and would call me back to tell me when to come in. I live in a suburb out of town, so I decided to wait around in town until I got the call.

I wound up seeing the doctor around 5 pm.

Being an ever-vigilant mom (riiiiight...), I had packed 6 diapers for our 3-hour trip to town. Unfortunately, I did not count on it turning into a 10-hour trip. In the last hour, I was forced to construct an emergency diaper out of 3 maxipads.

If you need free diapers, I do not recommend trying to make your own using maxipads. It proved not to be leak-proof. Instead, I recommend a free sample of Huggies. Or, check out my post about making Huggies fit your budget.

Also, don't hesitate to ask your ob/gyn, pediatrician, or the hospital where you give birth for free samples of formula. Most have plenty on hand and will be glad to share. Or, scroll down to Formula vs Boob for more ways to get free formula.

So keep using free samples whenever they're available! And, in light of my creative diaper alternative, please share: What's the craziest substitute you've ever had to use as a mother? And, did it work?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Keep your fingers crossed and your junk email address at the ready...

Many people think it's a waste of time to enter sweepstakes, but I don't. After all, someone has to win them, and I might as well have a shot at it. One thing I do recommend: create an email address specifically to use on sites that may send junk email so that all that spam doesn't flood your personal email account. But, remember to check your junk email address regularly so that you don't miss a notification if you win!

Here are some sweepstakes sites I've found:

Enter to win a digital camera

Enter to win Bambino diaper trial pack

Enter a cute photo of your baby for cash

Or, vote for my adorable daughter Sophie taking her first bath!

Follow my blog and check back soon for more coupons, deals, freebies, giveaways, free samples, and sweepstakes! Or scroll down through the next couple of posts if you need free formula (yesterday's post has been updated with 3 new sites from which to get free samples of formula!) and free diapers. (Who doesn't?!?)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Formula Vs Boob: The debate continues

My daughter is eight days old today-- hence so few updates last week! ;) They say it takes 2 weeks to get back into the swing of things, so hopefully by next week I'll be updating every day again with coupons, freebies, ways to save, and other resources for parents who want the best and just can't afford it without help! (Believe me, I know-- after picking up a prescription yesterday, I have exactly $3 to last me till next week...)

And on the the subject of this post-- I'd opted for breastfeeding. Healthier, cheaper, and, according to some, less stinky diapers (yay!). Unfortunately I've had quite a bit of trouble getting the hang of it, and we had to supplement with formula. I'm not of the if-you-use-formula-you-will-go-to-Hell school of thought, but it was still disappointing because I felt inadequate and formula is EXPENSIVE. Luckily, we got soem free samples. If you need some samples of Infamil, just print off this certificate and take it to your doctor. If you have not had your baby yet, register with Infamil and/ or Nestle Similac get certificates to take to the hospital with you to get a free diaper bag in addition to your samples.

UPDATE Sept 14 2009:
More free formula samples!
Parent's Choice Immune Support
Parent's Choice Gentle Formula
Parent's Choice Milk Based

And back to the original post:

We also got some great help from a lactation consultant at the hospital and a member of my local chapter of La Leche League. They helped me to find someone from whom to rent a breast pump, which is much less irritating to my skin than my daughter's tongue-thrust suck. Also, I can start pumping milk to save (good for 5 months in the freezer!) to use for when I go back to work and school so that I don't have to use (and buy) formula then.

Also, I got a prescription for something called Triple Cream-- more than just lanolin, it has antibiotics and prevents infection and thrush (yeast infection in the baby's mouth). Unfortunately, it was about $90, and I wasn't sure how much insurance would cover. I had $33 in cash, and decided if it cost more than $30, I just couldn't afford it. Luckily, it cost $30 even! So... $3 to get till next week. Luckily, between my infinite free samples of diapers (scroll down a few posts to read more about that) and my new breast pump and formula samples, we should be fine for another week. =)

Good luck saving money and getting the best for your kids, and don't forget to look at the picture of my beautiful new daughter Sophie in the next post! =)

Friday, September 11, 2009

The baby is here!

Sophie was born on Friday September 4th at 9:24 am after 17 hours of labor (boy, was that fun). She weighed 7 lbs 14 oz and was 20 1/4 inches long. She's absolutely beautiful. Catching up on sleep whenever she's asleep, but check back soon for more links and ways to save!