Dang. We packed a lot of life into the last couple of weeks. Iris turned three which seems impossible since I think it was just a week ago I was giving birth to that little turkey. She had a small Lightning McQueen-themed birthday party with a pinata and cake and then we celebrated again at my parents' house on Thursday with a Spider Girl cake. Iris is pretty awesome.
On Thanksgiving we went to our church in the morning, where our church community extends an invitation to the homeless community of Ann Arbor to join us for a Thanksgiving meal at the church. We send vans downtown and bring people to the church building where they get a hot meal, warm coats, clothes and blankets and the opportunity to watch a little football. The kids had a blast serving beverages, probably mostly because they got to sample the lemonade. A rare treat in our house.
From there we ventured to my parents' house for our own meatless celebration. As a new vegetarian I used to panic about the holidays but it turns out you don't need a turkey to have a feast. Pass the potatoes! The stuffing! The cranberry sauce! The green bean casserole! And the Quorn roast! As I mentioned, we also had another little birthday celebration for Iris since my dad was out of town for her birthday.
On Friday we headed into the belly of the beast, Columbus, for the Ohio State/Michigan "game". (If you saw it, you know why I put it in quotes.) Actually we went there for a myeloma fundraiser put on by the amazing Barb Hess, whose mom was diagnosed with myeloma last year. Barb did everything for the event, only requiring that we show up... and they ended up raising over ten grand for The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center's myeloma department. At least Michigan had one very significant win on Saturday. A huge thank you to Barb, and everyone else who made this event such an overwhelming success.
And here's a little Christmas shopping update for those following along with my self-imposed challenge. I'm almost finished with the kids! Here's what I've spent:
WANT: Rocket Ship with Aliens and Astronauts. This one came with the little figures he wanted but the whole shebang cost way too much. I found a much cheaper version by KidKraft that comes with wooden action figures but knew he really wanted the ones in the first version. I bought him those figures he wanted, on sale, using part of a $50 Verizon rebate Visa debit card that we got when Phil got a new cell phone for his birthday, so nothing out of pocket there. Then I stalked the rocket ship online until it dropped to $79.99 on Amazon with free prime shipping (thanks to Amazon Mom!) and used part of the $100 Amazon gift card I got with our PNC points.
NEED: A new toothbrush. Ocean would like a spinbrush so I plan to use a coupon and CVS ExtraBucks to get him a Spiderman one for free, as well as his own tube of Tom's kids toothpaste so he and Iris don't have to share it going into cold and flu season. It's hard to find a "need" gift for kids since, thankfully, we're able to meet all of their basic needs. I figure grooming and hygiene is a good fit for that category.
WEAR: Ocean needs a new pair of winter boots. I'm hoping it won't snow before Christmas because I'd love for him to open these on Christmas morning. Total cost: $22.99 + shipping unless I can get a good coupon code.
READ: Gail Gibbons is such a cool author. She has books for kids on so many different subjects. I bought My Football Book and My Soccer Book for Ocean using a Barnes and Noble gift card.
Total out-of-pocket: I roughly estimate $28 for the boots.
WANT: The Calico Critters Elephant Family. You know those coupons that Toys R Us has been putting out, spend $75 and get a $10 gift card? I had $40 in gift cards to Toys R Us already so I bought Iris the Elephant family as well as the Calico Critters cottage, plus a big pack of PlayDoh for stocking stuffers. My total was $80.xx and I used my gift cards so I ended up paying $40 out of pocket and got a $10 gift card back. BUT I also sold the dollhouse I bought for Iris last year for $50 on Craig's List which more than covered the out of pocket cost. So I'm actually up $10 on this one, not counting the gift card.
NEED: A hair brush that doesn't make her cry. She has the most gorgeous curls but her sweet little head is a pile of snarls every morning. I did some research and found this brush. I ordered it on Amazon using the rest of that $100 gift card and will get her a bottle of detangler at Whole Foods using a free $10 gift card we will get from a promotion at a local gym. (Local peeps, check the newest Clippers magazine for this one: Arbor Fit Club is offering a free one day pass AND a $10 Whole Foods gift card with coupon!)
WEAR: A winter hat. She can still barely fit in her hat from last year so have no fear, her head is not cold, but I really want to get her a snuggly, well-fitting hat to last her this winter and hopefully next as well. Gap has the most adorable hats for kids right now. They're mostly sold out online but our store still has plenty. I was given a 40% off one item coupon to use on Wednesday. So tomorrow I'll go get her a bunny or kitty hat for about $10 out of pocket. The rest of the dollhouse money will cover that.
READ: Gail Gibbons to the rescue again! I got her the one about elephants, as well as a book called Duck at the Door. Iris loves all things ducks and elephants. I put those on the Barnes and Noble gift card as well.
Besides those toys from Kohl's, there isn't much else a third baby wants or needs. She can't even sit up yet, much less open presents, so we're keeping it lean this year. I imagine next Christmas will be more participatory for her.
And remember that sled from Santa? I bought one at Target for $20 and used the rest of that Verizon rebate debit card plus about $5 out of pocket.
So all told, I'll have spent about $35 total for the kids' gifts this year. That doesn't count stocking stuffers, but I have a plan for those too. More on that later. This nonsense has gone on long enough.
How are you guys faring in the holiday shopping department? Anyone go out for Black Friday or sty in for Cyber Monday? Do tell!