Friday, October 23, 2009

Enter Code Here

If you're doing any of your Christmas shopping online, by now you have probably noticed an empty box on most check-out pages labelled something like 'Promo Code'. If you got to the website from an advertisement for a discount in an email, chances are the Promo Code field has been filled in. And if not, try filling it in yourself to save some cash this holiday season! Here are some codes, organized by popular site:

Belli Skin Care-- (Ready to get your body back? This stuff gets rid of stretch marks and sagging!)
BABYTALK= 25% off

Children's Place-- (The name-brand clothes we love)
BABYTALK99 = 15% off entire purchase (As their slogan says, "Everything but the baby!"
BTNOV09= $5 off diaper/ formula purchase
10pampers =$10 off your diaper order, plus 50 extra pampers gifts to grow points
PLUS10PCT= 10% off of anything excluding diapers and formula (Those cute little socks that look like shoes, because let's face it, babies just really don't need actual shoes.)
bt1109= free shipping

Santa's Ornament Shop-- (Don't you just NEED a 'Baby's First Christmas' ornament?)
Parent3= $2 off
MUSTSEE2= 2$ off

Wall Words-- (For making your nursery look like you hired an interior designer)
9280747= 15% discount

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lists: of the Grocery, To-Do, and Wish variety

I think, as a mother, I can honestly say that without lists, I would be useless. They do for me what my short-term memory is no longer capable of. (By the way, new mothers are allowed to end sentences with a preposition, up until their baby sleeps through the night. It's a new grammar rule. Look it up.)

Sometimes, though, even a regular chicken-scratch-on-the-back-of-the-pharmacy-receipt list is just not enough to get me through the day. Here are some excellent tools for creating Super Lists that will not only make your more organized, but save you money, too.

Grocery Lists
Immediately sign up for If you shop with a rewards card at any grocery store (Kroger grocery stores, such as Dillon's, are one such grocery store with free rewards cards), you can download all kinds of extra coupons directly to your rewards card. You can also get cell phone coupons for places like Taco Bell. Plus, a nifty-difty feature lets you organize an online grocery list, automatically reminding you which products (everything from diapers to yogurt) you have coupons for. Just print off the list, and bam! You're good to go.

To-Do Lists
Sign up for Cozi and create the ultimate interactive to-do list. The service will send you reminders and, even better, send your husband reminders! It also keeps track of appointments and runs as a cellphone app. In addition, if you sign up now, you can get a free hardcover photo album of your digital prints.

Where'd-My-Money-Go? Lists
The free service Mint is an all-in-one budgeting tool-- allowing you to plan your budgets, and see where your money actually went. It's nearly effortless, too-- It automatically downloads and categorizes your finances and transactions.

Wish Lists
If, anticipating the holiday season, your child has refused in advance to wear any itchy mauve knit sweaters from Great-Aunt Mirabel, you may be in need of the Wish List from Toys R Us. Or, create The Ultimate Wishlist by downloading the Wish Pot toolbar. Basically, it follows the same principles of a baby registry or wedding registry: you only get hand towels in a color that goes wit the rest of your bathroom. Or, in kid terms, you get exactly the Nintendo DS Pokemon Pearl videogame you wanted, and you don't wind up with the unwanted (but, to adults, seemingly similar-sounding) Gameboy Advance Pokemon Diamond. P.S.--This isn't just for kids. You're never too old for a wishlist.

With the help of these lists, you can become (or at least seem like) a mom who has it all together.

And don't feel bad if you next print-off grocery list reads as: 'Milk, Eggs, Vodka.'

You're not alone.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tag! You're it!

Unless you live under a rock, if you are pregnant or have a child under the age of 2, you have heard of Taggies. They have flooded department stores and boutiques alike, and the name-brand item is all the rage in nurseries and mommy-and-me circles. Although Taggies are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year, they have just now really hit the scene in the States, and you may be wondering what your child is missing if you haven't already bought one.
If you have been living under a rock, your first question may be, one what? What is a Taggie?

The answer: Something with tags sewn onto it. That's it.Taggies sells blankets, clothes, toys, games, stuffed animals, and basically anything else that's soft and possible to buy for a small child. Marketed as 'security blankets', rubbing the tags is supposedly soothing to infants. According to their website, Taggies give baby "not only warmth and comfort, but enjoyment when playing with the tags. This is great as baby begins to unwind for nap or bed time. They will now lull themself to sleep, while clenching, twisting, and feeling the tags that are so much fun."

That's a large claim for some bits of ribbon sewn onto a piece of fleece.

While I'm a little sceptical of their sleep-harnessing powers, the Taggies generally conform to developmental specialists' suggestions that infants be given a variety of textures to feel in order to learn about the world around them.

Although Taggies claim that the bits of ribbon sewn onto their toys are 'intellectual property' that they spent a boatload of time and effort to develop, mothers have been putting textured fringes and borders on blankets for years. I was born in 1991 and as an infant, I had one such multi-textured blanket-- well before the founding of Taggies in 1999.

In conclusion, the name-brand product is all the rage right now, but any multi-textured fringed or bordered blanket will soothe your child and help him learn to appreciate the world around him. Or, you can sew your own tagged blanket. Simply cut wide ribbon into 3- to 6- inch pieces, fold in half, and sew to the inside of a seam around the edge of the blanket, shirt, or other product you are embellishing. I recommend using a sewing machine for this, not only for the sake of time, but for durability. Go over each tag several times and make sure your thread is knotted well. Never sew something on that could come off and pose as a choking hazard, such as a button.

When selecting your ribbon, look for a variety of textures-- ribbed horizontally or vertically, ricrac, corduroy, silky, velvety, etc. Also keep in mind that infants can see black and white first, followed by red, then bright colors such as deep yellow and green. Patterns should be in stark contrast, and while baby pastels look pretty to us grown folk, they are practically invisible to infants and do nothing whatsoever to stimulate their visual growth.

Or, if you have already subscribed to the Taggies craze, enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win even more tagged gear.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Close encounters with generic brands

First and foremost, I love my name-brand freebies. If you signed up for the offers in the formula article, your mail box was probably also recently flooded with gifts and coupons. In the past four days, I have received 3 containers of powdered formula-- 1 EarlyShield Similac, 1 Soy Similac, and 1 regular Enfamil-- all the 18-serving size (That's 54 bottles for free!). Between Similac and Infamil, I also got $55 in coupons for formula and a $2 coupon for a vitamin supplement for breastfeeding mothers (I breastfeed and supplement with formula). I also got 3 Huggies Pure and Natural diapers.

Second-- I have an aunt who's a fellow penny-pincher, but more of the generic variety. She swears by Wal*Mart's store brand of diapers, and Target's store-brand of wipes. At my baby shower, I received several kinds of Target's store-brand wipes-- some with lanolin (a generic imitator of the Lansinoh variety), and I felt they worked just as well as Huggies' and Pampers' wipes.

So, when my aunt gave me a package of newborn Parent's Choice diapers, I decided to give it a shot. They seemed to fit better than either Huggies newborn or Huggies size 1 diapers at this stage in Sophie's life (9 lbs, 4 oz), and the inside seemed softer than Huggies size 1 diapers (but less soft than either Huggies or Pampers newborn diapers). However, they were rough and papery on the outside. Superficial judgements aside, we've also had an assortment of leaks with ou generic Parent's Choice diapers. Luckily, no clothes have actually been ruined, so it hasn't been a cost drawback yet, but it has been inconvenient. Even if you can't afford the name-brand in diapers, at least treat yourself to some free samples now and then.

Third-- This blog is, if you haven't figured out by now, about how to afford name-brand quality for your child. I have shared with you many ways of doing this, through the use of free samples, rewards cards, coupons, and community resources. Another great way of giving your child quality products is to make them yourself. From a Sharpie-on-posterboard checkerboard patten that hangs over the headrest for your child to look at while in the car, to a scrap-fabric multi-texture tummy-time rug (a project currently underway... er... waiting in the closet for me to have some free time with which to complete it...), DIY is an excellent way to give your child quality, and unique, tools with which to grow developmentally, emotionally, and intellectually.

For great ideas to try in your own free time (I'm struggling to keep a straight face while advising mothers about what to do with their free time), check out Prudent Baby.

Finally, for more freebies, check out some of my favorite posts... like Affording a Name-Brand Education, and Stuff Mommy Deserves (like Godiva chocolate).