All I Want For Christmas Is Crazy Cash Back

*Post contains referral links, so if you join through my referral link, I get bonus cash back and so do you!*

I am not a savvy economist, don’t make a lot of money, and have two children in full-time childcare, so I have to ask you guys, “Why is every toy $50 or more this Christmas season?” Did everyone but me get a Christmas bonus? Was there some across-the-board cost-of-living increase that passed me by? I literally could not find any $10-$20 baby dolls for my kids this year for Christmas.

So, my shopping strategy this year is twofold:

One, they are getting less stuff. They already have infinity toys and our house isn’t getting any bigger, so… less stuff.

Two, I’m shopping exclusively through Ebates.com, so I can at least earn a portion of that money back. I know it’s the end of Cyber Week, but hopefully some of you guys can cash in on some of these great cash back offers:

  • JCPenney 15% Cash Back Sitewide – This goes for household items, clothing, toys. I found very few exceptions and lots of Disney-licensed characters. I’ve never seen anyone offer so much cash back. Definitely take advantage of this!
  • Groupon 9% Cash Back – Do you need a massage to get through the holiday season, want to get your nails done for New Year’s Eve? Shop through Ebates and you can earn enough cash back to buy one for your friend!
  • Kohl’s 8% Cash Back – I can’t even with these generous offers. I really like Kohl’s for things like towels, kids clothing, and other houseware items.
  • Walgreens 7% Cash Back – You can use this for stocking stuffers, candy – even your photo needs. Buy your Christmas cards through Walgreens and get 7% cash back.

If you don’t already have an Ebates account, make sure to click this link or the button below so we can both get a bonus bump in cash back!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Did you guys think that toy prices were way out of line this year? Let me know in the comments.

5 WTF Thoughts I Have While Folding My Family’s Laundry

We are in the midst of potty-training Lillian right now. We’ve been working on it for a year. Our laundry situation is worse now than it was when I had two kids in cloth diapers. Here are just some thoughts I’ve had while folding the family’s laundry:

  1. One of the perks of sending Gabby to private school was the uniforms. No fighting about clothes everyday. I had high hopes that uniforms would make the laundry so much easier. I was desperately wrong. White uniform shirts for pre-schoolers? Are you freaking kidding me?!?!
  2. How is the pajama pile so much bigger than the daywear pile? Judging by their laundry, a stranger would believe they never leave the house.

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  3. Lillian is perpetually out of pants because she is constantly peeing in them. I refuse to go back to diapers. Thus, I get to forever be washing, folding, and putting away pants and underwear.
  4. Lillian’s underwear pile is so much bigger than Gabby’s, I think I need to have a conversation with Gabby about changing her underwear on a daily basis.
  5. Onto the hubster, what is happening in his pants that causes him to blow out the crotch of every pair of underwear so violently?

Do you have any WTF moments while putting away your family’s laundry?
Let me know in the comments!

I Gave You A Sibling So You’d Have Someone To Play With

Lillian wasn’t the most planned baby in the world, but when we found out she would be the newest McDermott and a girl, we were pretty excited. We said really stupid things like:

“They’ll be best friends!”

“They’ll play together and leave us alone.”

“We’ll never have to play babies again!”


Granted, Gabby hardly had a personality by the time we were expecting Lilly, but we couldn’t have been more wrong about their relationship so far. At four, Gabby is very imaginative and creative and OMG the most particular (read: OCD) kid on the planet. She is a stickler for rules and if you cross her, she will not only remember it forever, but she will remind you of how you wronged her for eternity. 

Lilly, on the other hand, is much more free-spirited. She bounces from one activity to another. She wants to do everything Gabby does, only she doesn’t want to hear about all the rules and intricacies of the game. She just wants to play. 

Therefore, as you can imagine, their sister-time goes something like this:

G: Lilly, come into my clubhouse (her bed)

L: OK!

G: NO! You have to wait until I set it up!

L: (Waiting to climb the ladder impatiently because she is two)

G: I’m not ready!

Me: You are torturing her. Hurry up and let her up there. 

G: Fine. Climb up and then balance (along the edge of the top bunk) and sit over here. 

L: OK

Me: Noooooo. Climb up and crawl over there. 

*1,000 minutes pass and Lilly is up in Gabby’s bed*

<Gabby screaming>

Me: What happened?

G: She’s breaking the rules!!!

Me: How?

G: We got into my sleeping bag to go to sleep and she is pushing me and taking up all the space and she won’t lay DOWN!

So, no. They don’t play together. It would be super easy for us to separate them and not even let them play together, but we do because we want them to learn how to get along. I just hope there is a day when I’m not forced to eat their fake cooking because they are feeding it to each other. 

When Parents Get Sick

Well, I am really sorry I have been away from the blog for so long. It’s been over three months and that is just unbelievable. I don’t even know where the time went. I’ve been hanging onto life by a thread. You know… new school, for one of the kids, too many extracurricular activities, work has been overwhelming, the hubs and I caught bronchitis from the kids… Life happened and it’s been three months.

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For the past two weeks, I have had the most crippling bout of bronchitis I have ever had. I started feeling sick on a Saturday – with no childcare options. I felt feverish and exhausted. I just wanted to sleep all day. The hubs stepped up and did everything while I just laid useless on the couch. He even followed the kids’ orders for cups, TD shows, and snacks. He’s a good dude.

Over the course of the next week, I got progressively worse. I also spread the virus to my dear partner for life. We were BOTH miserable. We were both coughing. Neither one of us was sleeping. And we still had baths to give, meals to cook, pajamas to get from upstairs… And we quickly realized that there is literally nothing in the whole world worse than when both parents get sick. Possibly it would be worse if the kids were also sick, but maybe they would at least nap if they were, so, no, I think both parents sick and healthy kids is the worst scenario.

We were so exhausted and short of breath that we started bargaining for chores.

“I’ll cook dinner!” <Subtext: “You deal with the kids for an hour while I stand still pretending to stir this pot.”>

“If I give the kids a bath, will you get their pajamas?” <Subtext: “Please, for the love of all that is holy, do not make me have to go upstairs three more times tonight.”>

Now we finally have medicine two weeks later and can get some sleep. We are still out of breath, but on the mend. Hopefully this parenting thing will get back on track and we can eradicate the bug that almost brought the McDermott house down.

How do you get stuff done when you and/or your partner are sick? Let me know in the comments so next year at this time, I have some ideas!

 

4 years

Four. It’s been four years that the hubster and I have been parents. Four years since our little family changed so significantly that I can hardly remember whay it was like to not have kids.

Oh, wait. Yes, I can! We’d go out for dinner, unworried about taking our time, because there was no babysitter to pay. We’d spend 8 hours in a coffeeshop, talking, reading, studying, peoplewatching. We’d sleep in until 11am on a Saturday, with no urgency go anywhere or do anything. We could eat dinner literally at any restaurant we wanted, nomatter if they served mac and cheese.

And then Gabby was born. No longer were the days of unscheduled day trips. Going more than one place in a single trip meant getting her in and out of the carseat multiple times. But you know what? As much as I am exhausted and frustrated by the constant needs of children, I am totally amazed at how much I love these kids.

For a person so tiny to be so demanding and every day I forgive her. If an adult asks me to repeat myself more than once, I freak the freak out, and sometimes the kids get yelled at for that one, too, but I don’t obsess about it for hours and want to murder them. Every “extra” cent I have is spent on clothes and necessities for them, and yet I don’t consider them greedy or ungrateful.

And in terms of the hubster and I, it’s not like having kids completed us in any way. We had them not because something was missing, but because we thought they might just add to our lives in some mysterious way. Frankly, I just wanted Christmas to be fun again. I was tired of the old, “This is what I want for Christmas, now let me pretend to be surprised when you buy it for me” game. Because the hubster is an emotionless sociopath, I thought it would be cool to have kids who would be excited about things with me. I never realized that there would be so much more.

The hugs, the “Mommy, I love you”s, hearing them emulate me when they are playing with their dolls, asking me to join them on their adventures, watching Gabby’s face in reaction to Disney World. These are the things I didn’t anticipate.

There’s also the annoying stuff, the baths, the bedtime routines, the pooping in the little potty… but the good stuff defintiely outweighs the bad. I’m so glad we decided to embark on this journey called parenthood.

We Still Love Bookroo (and a gift for you)!

We have been getting Bookroo boxes off and on for around 6 months now. We have only ever subscribed to the picture book boxes, since you get two quality books a month and that works out since we have two kids. Each box is addressed to Gabby & Lillian and they each get to unwrap one book.

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This month’s picture book box

This month’s books were awesome!

Lillian received Cuckoo! by Fiona Robertson. This book is similar to another book, Ribbit, that we got a few months ago, but it adds variety to our library. The story follows a cuckoo bird who was hatched in the wrong nest, so he travels all over the city, trying to find someone who understands his language. Finally he meets a toddler who loves to repeat him and they become fast friends. How cute is that?!?! It’s a perfect match for my 2-year old. Cuckoo retails at $15.22 at Barnes and Noble.

Gabby got Max’s Castle by Kate Banks and Boris Kulikov. This book is about three brothers who have an alphabet adventure. Using alphabet blocks, they swap out letters to build a castle, defeat a dragon, and more. The older brothers at first think Max is babyish for playing with blocks, but once they all start playing around with the letters, they all get really into it and have a great adventure. This book taught a great lesson to my almost 4-year old and she also enjoyed seeing how swapping out the letters made different words. I can see using this book to practice sight words. Max’s Castle retails for $17.18 at Barnes and Noble.

Jane and the folks at Bookroo put together extremely thoughtful boxes every single time. We’ve never been let down. They monthly box is $17.99 per month and gets cheaper as you increase the length of your subscription. Obviously, a big savings as my books would’ve cost me almost $30 at the store.

Here’s where the pot gets even sweeter (for you AND me): If you use my personal referral code GABMCD when you subscribe, you will save $10 and I will also get a $10 off coupon. You cannot go wrong with this deal and you can cancel or suspend your box at any time. The customer service at Bookroo is unbeatable. Click here to start getting Bookroo boxes for your little ones.

I Can’t Keep the Boogieman Away

As far back as I can remember, I have been a worrier. I don’t know if it’s because I am generally just an anxious person, or because I watched my grandmother ritualistically chant under her breath for my grandfather’s safety every time he left the house. All I know is that I have always worried about my family, their safety, and the unknown. It is emotionally and physically draining to partake in superstitious behavior and dwell on things out of my control for thirty-plus years.

The most difficult part of this side of my personality is that I don’t want to pass this on to my kids. I have to let them jump off of high things and touch worms and NOT. FREAK. OUT. because I want them to be kids and adventurous and just not so afraid.

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Overcoming her fear of an ant

And then there’s Gabby. She is so overly cautious. She is clumsy, so I clutch at my pearls every time she does something brave like jump out of the car or climb on the high jungle gym at the playground. But, like I said, let them be kids and all that. So I stifle myself.

Yet, somehow, the kid has become fearful despite all of my stifling. When she was two, she would ask me to come with her to the playroom because she was afraid that Swiper (that dastardly fox from Dora the explorer, for you non-kid owners) was in the front bedroom. She would wake up in the night afraid that a bear was going to get her, despite my frequent reminders that we made sure our house was fox and bear-free when we bought it.

Just this morning, she was happily playing in the living room with her Cinderella castle, and she sent Jasmine into the kitchen in Cinderella’s carriage when we had this exchange:

Gabby: Mommy, can you come with me to get Jasmine?
Me: No, Lilly’s in the kitchen. Just go in there.
Gabby: But I don’t want to be alone!
Me: You won’t be.
Gabby: Mommy? I think there’s a nightmare in there.
Me: Nope, I told you. This house has no nightmares, foxes, or bears.
Gabby: I’m still scared.

I had an immediate flashback of myself in my twenties – hell, maybe even my early thirties – running from the bathroom to my bedroom in the dark. I have always been afraid of the dark, monsters, and ghosts lurking in the night. But I have never once let on to my kids that I have these fears. It’s unnerving to me to see her fears unravel the same way mine did.

At least she has the benefit of my empathy. I know what it’s like to be afraid. She doesn’t know that I’m just as scared as she is. I never had that support growing up.

I just hope that my understanding and patience with her anxiety helps her to outgrow it.

I was lucky enough to find a husband who thinks I’m ridiculous and doesn’t make fun of me for it. There can’t possibly be another person that tolerant in this world.

Potty Training 2.0

I’ve been holding off on potty training Lillian for over 6 months. She has been wanting to sit on the potty – mostly for fun – since she was around 18 months old. “They” say the longer you wait, the easier it is to potty train the child. I’ve read that it makes it easier for parent and child if you wait until the child is at least 3.

Poop training for Gabby was easy because her poop face and stance were so obvious. She was pee-potty trained over a weekend right after she turned 2, but it was anything but easy. I used an app with a timer and rewards, forced her to sit on the potty and drink all day for 2 and a half days, and voila! She was sort of potty trained. We still had to restrict her liquids around nap time and in the evenings, and she still wore diapers to bed, but she was mostly good-to-go.

Very recently, Lillian has been able to tell us, “I have to go potty,” and actually hold it long enough to pee on the potty. Fabulous! Except that she will only sit on the potty when she is in the mood. To this I say SHE. IS. NOT. READY and keep her in diapers until she stops being so stubborn about it. I’m getting a lot of side-eye for that opinion, though. From my husband.

I mean…. we have an impending Disney World trip. Like she’s going to want to go potty on an airplane? Hold her pee on a two-hour line? Stop talking to Princess Aurora so she can find the closest toilet? NOPE! I am fully aware that roughly 60 days I will be completely starting over. I’m not even that mad about that part.

This is what’s annoying me:

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As if one potty in my living room wasn’t enough…

Because of how stanuchly competitive my children are, I am now potty training TWO children. They were fighting so much over the little potty that we had to get another one – just so they can sit there watching tv and NOT peeing. Everytime one of them sits on a potty, the other one needs to do it so she, too, can be rewarded. Gabby has actually had more accidents since Lilly started potty training than she probably has had in the last year.

And lest I remind you, we have only one bathroom in our house. Even with two little potties, there is a lot of wait time to use the bathroom. Oh, and one more thing, she won’t go potty at daycare unless a specific teacher is with her, so mostly she just arches her back and refuses to go potty.

So. You tell me. Would you hold off on number two until summer time or would you just suck it up and thank God that you removed the carpets because the pee is easier to clean up off the floor?

Number Two Turns Two

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Forgive me, Lilly, this post is only 3 weeks late.

My baby is freaking TWO! What?!?! My little blonde, tiny-heiney, spitfire bunny is two.

Lilly is speaking in full sentences a year too soon. Some delightful examples:

  1. “I not poopin’. Go sit on the couch!”
  2. “Buddy, no peein’ on my toys!”
  3. “Mommy, you wide bikes in the gym?”

She also can answer questions about her behavior with complete honesty.

Me: Lilly, why did you hurt your friends at school?
Lillian: Because I naughty-bones.

She also is still very handsy in that she can’t keep her hands to herself. She is always tugging on me, wanting to be picked up, and pulling my hair/hitting me/biting me (always with a smile on her face, mind you).

Lilly also loves to be silly. She keeps Gabby entertained at every meal. She thinks it’s hilarious to wiper her gross, mac-and-cheesy hands on me at every meal. I make a point to not sit next to her in restaurants.

She is also the most empathetic child I’ve ever seen. She hates to see other kids cry. If I’m sad or mad, she will hold my face in her tiny hands and ask, “Mommy, you ok?” She likes to “cuddle me up” on the couch with her blanket and pillow.

She’s the best Lillian Rose on the planet. We love her.

What do you do when your preschooler is a “mean girl?”

 

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“Here Gabby. I drew this picture for you.” – Sweet, adorable little girl in her class
“I don’t want it. It’s not beautiful.” – My nasty little shit

“Gabby! Do you want to play with me? I missed you!” – A dear little cherub who has married her twice at school
“No. I don’t want to play right now. I’m in a bad mood.” – My grouch of a daughter

I know I should let her express herself and play with who she wants to play with. I know I shouldn’t try to force her to be everyone’s friend. I’ve asked her to “do something nice for Beatrice* tomorrow.” But she straight-up tells me, “Nope. Not gonna do it.”

My husband and I are nice people. I am even nice to people who I don’t particularly like. It’s just civil. How do you refuse a picture someone draws for you, just to trying to be your friend??? I guess she is just trying to assert some autonomy. Like, “I can pick my own friends,” or something, but it is incredibly saddening to me to see my sweet daughter act like some kind of diva, refusing to give her peers the time of day.

How do you teach kindness? How do you teach a preschooler about bullying and cliques?

I didn’t think this would be a problem until fifth grade.

*Name changed to protect the innocent. 

I would love to hear your advice in the comments!