Friday, September 12, 2014

Just Between Friends: Consignment Sale #BestDeal

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Just Between Friends of Lee’s Summit and Overland Park. This program is in partnership with Real Mom Media. All opinions are my own.

Having kids can be expensive. It amazes me how quickly they grow out of clothes and shoes! Plus, with Christmas and 2 birthdays between October and January, we blow through our budget in no time.  Thankfully, when I was pregnant with Grace, my mom and I happened to see a sign for the local Just Between Friends sale and since I have shopped consignment sales and paid a fraction of the retail cost for my kids clothes and toys.

I had the chance to visit the Overland Park Just Between Friends Sale this week and it didn't disappoint. There is a huge selection of clothes, toys, books, and all sorts of baby gear to choose from. I received $25 to shop with and set off on a mission to finish Connor's fall wardrobe, get Halloween costumes, and find Christmas presents for both kids. I'm happy to say that I more than accomplished my goal and got some amazing deals!

For Connor, I needed fall shoes, church and play clothes. Due to time constraints (grandma had to get to work!) I wasn't able to spend too long in the clothing section but I found:

Old Navy Flannel Shirt & Jeans- $3
Cars Shirt & Pants- $3
2 Carters Sleepers- $5

Tommy Plaid Shirt and Jeans- $4.50
Baby Gap jeans- $4.50
Peter Pan hat/bow set- $3.50

OshKosh Shoes- new- $6.50
Black Dress Shoes- $4

Grace is pretty picky about her clothes right now so I don't buy her much without her approval. But she did need warm PJs and a coat so I found a few things for her.
2 Carters PJs with tutus- $10- This is a little more than what I would normally spend on PJs, but she's refusing to wear anything but fancy nightgowns or tutu PJs right now so I was willing to spend more to get something she will actually wear.
Gymboree Pink Coat- $12

Grace decided the week before that she wants to be Tinkerbell for Halloween and Connor should be Peter Pan. I wasn't sure if I was motivated enough to make a Tinkerbell costume and was thrilled when I found a perfect one at the sale (it even has a tutu!) I also was looking for dress up clothes for Connor as he's been wearing Grace's dresses lately when they plays dress up.
Thomas the Train costume- New- $5.50
Tinkerbell costume- $4.50
Fireman costume- $3.50

I love giving books for Christmas and birthday gifts and I found both of these for Connor:

Disney Storybook Collection- $3
Touch and Feel Baby Animals- $1

I have been planning to buy Grace an "Our Generation" doll for her birthday gift and I was hoping to find some accessories at the sale. It must have been my lucky day because I found the ultimate accessory that Grace will adore:
All she plays with right now are her ponies and babies so she is going to flip out when she sees it. It retails for $36 and I got it for $10!

In total, after my $25 credit, I spent a total of $65.60. I would have spent that on the Halloween costumes alone at a retail store! Have I mentioned how much I love the Just Between Friends sales?? For more information about the sales, visit the JBF Lees Summit website and Facebook page and the JBF Overland Park website and Facebook page!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Just Between Friends of Lee’s Summit and Overland Park. This program is in partnership with Real Mom Media. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Jessie Toy Story DIY No Sew Halloween Costume Tutorial

Jessie Toy Story DIY No Sew Halloween Costume Tutorial

Grace finally decided what she wants to be for Halloween this year and so I'm trying to start figuring out their costumes. Last year was the last time I got to decide what they wore without input and I think they were adorable as Jessie and Woody from Toy Story.

I have a very hard time spending much money on costumes they're going to wear for a couple of hours. Plus, Disney character costumes can easily run you $30 each for the basic version. So I decided to make Grace's costume myself. I thought I'd share how I did it. The best part? There's absolutely no sewing involved!

Shirt: I found a plain white long sleeved polo shirt at Walmart. I cut the yellow cuff and shirt shapes out of a thick yellow felt I found at Hobby Lobby and used a red glitter pen to add the details to the cuff and shirt. I tried to use stick on velcro to attach the shirt pieces, but found that they didn't stick to the shirt fabric very well. I ended up using glue dots and they held perfectly. I added a few white ribbon loops to the cuffs and used glue dots again to add them to her shirt.

Pants: I found a cow print fabric at Hobby Lobby cheap and cut out two long panels to attach to the front of a pair of her regular jeans. I used safety pins to attach them so that I wouldn't ruin the jeans.

Hat: I was hoping to find a red foam hat but after several shopping trips, all I could find was brown. So I bought a brown foam hat from Dollar Tree and decided to paint it red. I used a foam brush and painted several coats of bright red acrylic paint to match the color of Jessie's hat. To create the lacing effect, I used a hole punch to create holes about an inch apart all the way around the brim. I laced thin white ribbon through each hole and tied it off in the back. I used glue dots to attach a thick white ribbon around the base (it's hard to get it even but keep trying!)


Add a pair of cowboy boots (or brown shoes in our case) and your little Jessie is ready for Trick-or-Treat! I spent a grand total of $10 on the entire costume!

What will your kids be for Halloween this year?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

IKEA Merriam Preview!

For years, I've heard about how amazing IKEA is. But we didn't have one anywhere close to us so I never had the chance to go. Mike had the chance to visit one when he visited his sister in Norway and he said it was pretty amazing. So last year when I heard that IKEA was planning to open in Merriam, KS (a short 30 minute drive from my house) I was thrilled! When I got the invitation to attend the media preview this past week, I literally squealed!


Having not been to IKEA before, I wasn't completely sure what to expect. After a delicious lunch featuring dishes served in the IKEA restaurant we broke into groups to tour the store. IKEA is different than any retail store I've been in as it takes you on a path through the different rooms in your house. It features 37 inspirational room settings and three model home interiors to help you design your space. Here's a tip for those that have never shopped at IKEA before, most of the furniture is self pick up meaning you will find it at the end in the warehouse. When you figure out what pieces you want, use the list on the back of your store guide (which features a handy map) to write down the item and location of the item.


Walking through the beautiful room designs was the highlight of the tour for me and I have so many things I want now. Warning there are tons of pictures but I couldn't narrow them down anymore, everything is so great!
I love this bookshelf set up. 
I wonder if I can talk Mike into putting this light fixture somewhere in our house.
 I have been wanting to redo our kitchen since we moved into our house so I found the kitchen section very inspiring. There are coworkers available to help you with your design and there are tons of customization options to help you create your perfect kitchen.

My favorite section was of course the kids section. How gorgeous are these rooms? Grace saw the pink and gray room and said she wanted to sleep there!

IKEA encourages kids to touch, play, and have fun in their store. From the fun stuffed animals and accessories:


to the play stations scattered throughout the store:

The IKEA store is extremely kid friendly. If your child is 37”-54” and potty trained, they can play for FREE at the Småland, a supervised children’s play area that replicates the look of a typical Swedish farmhouse and forest. Yes you read that right, it's free! We are definitely going to be taking advantage of this in the future! 


If your child is not potty trained, IKEA offers family-friendly parking, strollers and baby care rooms.

As you leave the marketplace, you enter into the self serve furniture area. Remember that list you made? Now you find the corresponding aisle and product number and load up your cart.

Don't forget to stop by the Swedish Foodmarket which offers Swedish delicacies, snacks and treats, and even frozen Swedish meatballs to purchase and then prepare at home.

If you're hungry during your trip, the Bistro features hot dogs, cinnamon buns, frozen yogurt and beverages. The 450-seat restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert, including traditional Swedish specialties such as Swedish meatballs, seafood plates, pasta, chicken, salads, sandwiches, and vegetarian dishes. Of course there are choices for the kids including Swedish meatballs or macaroni and cheese, They even offer bibs and free organic baby food for babies.

After my tour, I understand what all the hype is about. The store is fun for families and the prices are extremely reasonable. I can't wait to go back.

If you are as excited to visit IKEA in Merriam, KS as I was, read on for information about the grand opening celebrations and the AMAZING giveaways they're offering! People can begin lining up for the grand opening 48 hours ahead of time.

IKEA opens Wednesday, September 10, 2014 and the first 40 people in line (18 & older) will receive a free EKTORP three-seat sofa. The next 100 adults will receive a free POÄNG armchair. The first 100 children (17 & younger) will receive a free FAMNIG heart-shaped soft toy. The first 2,500 adults will receive a random prize envelope with IKEA Gift Cards ranging from $10 to $250, or a “Buy One, Get One Free” cinnamon bun, hotdog or frozen yogurt voucher.

On Thursday, September 11, 2014 the first 40 adults will receive a free queen-sized SULTAN HALLEN mattress. The next 100 adults will receive free home delivery for their purchases on that day. Children 12 & under eat for free at IKEA Merriam on Friday, September 12, 2014.

Finally, on Friday, September 12, 2014 the first 40 adults (one per immediate family) will receive a voucher for a monthly meatball meal for a family of four at IKEA Merriam’s Restaurant through next year, expiring on September 30, 2015. The next 40 adults will receive an IKEA Food tote bag and a voucher to fill the bag up with whatever they want from IKEA Merriam’s Swedish Food market. The first 100 children will receive a voucher for a soft-serve frozen yogurt available that day at IKEA Merriam’s Exit Bistro.

Balloon artists, entertainment and face-painting will enhance the family-friendly fun at IKEA Merriam from September 10 through September 14, 2014. If your birthday is September 10th, the same as the grand opening, you can bring proof and receive a $40 gift card.

Also, from September 10 through September 12, 2014, shoppers can enter a drawing to win one of ten $1,000 IKEA Gift Cards through the IKEA FAMILY loyalty program. IKEA is matching the prizes (a total of $10,000) with a donation to Amethyst Place, a local provider of safe and supportive housing to women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, and their children. To learn more about the grand opening, visit IKEA Merriam's website now.

What is your favorite IKEA product? I'm ready to shop!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Grace's First Day of School

I posted Monday about Grace's Meet the Teacher night and shared some of my fears about how her first day would go. Well I wanted to post an update and say that I shouldn't have been so worried!

The night before, we picked out her outfit (she requested her pink tutu of course) and packed her backpack. She set them in a special place in her room and asked to go to preschool "now!" After I explained that she could go in the morning, she reluctantly went to sleep. I woke up early the next morning, I was more anxious than I'd like to admit and packed her lunch. She woke up shortly after and came out of her room carrying her outfit, socks and shoes. She ran right to me and declared "I'm ready for preschool!" She did not want to eat breakfast, she was ready to go. I convinced her to take some pictures for me and I'm happy to say she was feeling cooperative that morning.


Mike kept Connor at home and I drove her to school. She has been convinced for weeks that she is going to get to ride the school bus, so she was pretty disappointed that I was taking her. But she was about jump about of her seat she was so excited by the time we got there. She refused to take a picture in front of her school because she wanted to go straight to her classroom.

I walked her into her room and she went straight to play. She didn't hesitate at all. I followed her in and told her I was leaving and that I would pick her up at the end of the day and she said "okay mom, love you, bye." She went back to playing immediately. I was shocked but I took that as my cue to leave the room. They had a meeting for parents right after drop off so that we wouldn't linger in the classrooms and that was that.

When I went back to pick her up, the kids were sitting in a circle and she said "look, my mommy is right there." But she wouldn't get up because she was having so much fun! Her teacher said that she did great and had no problems. As we were walking to the van she said that she missed her preschool and wanted to go back so I'm calling it a total success.



She is officially a preschooler and I still can't believe it. I almost cried several times but was able to keep control the entire day. I know she's going to get so much out of it but I am going to miss her while she's gone!

How did your child's first day of school go this year?

Dark Hope by Monica McGurk Review & Giveaway!


When I worked in the library, I was always very involved with the teens. I loved reading the young adult books that came through and even participated in mock book award panels for teen books. Now my daily reading normally amounts to repeated readings of various kids books. But occasionally I get the chance to read after the kids to go bed and you'll normally find a young adult book on my nightstand. Recently I got the chance to read Dark Hope: Book One of the Archangel Prophecies by Monica McGurk.


In an epic narrative that takes readers from the back streets of Atlanta to the height of Vegas penthouses and beyond, Dark Hope introduces readers to The Archangel Prophecies, a new young adult saga that blends the feeling of Twilight with a vast mythological scope and moral urgency, as well as to Hope Carmichael—a young woman instantly memorable for her endurance, heart, and determination—and Michael, Hope’s dangerous companion who’s fated either to save Hope—or to kill her.
A portion of proceeds from this book will be donated to organizations that fight human trafficking.

There is no slow introduction to this book. You are immediately drawn into the story by learning about a little girl's abduction and mysterious rescue. Hope's story leaves nothing but questions and I found myself racing through the book hoping for answers. When we are introduced to her 10 years after her abduction, she is adjusting to life in a new town with her mother. She starts a new school and meets a mysterious, gorgeous boy named Michael. If this sounds reminiscent of another famous young adult book, it should! McGurk actually started her career writing fan fiction based on Twilight. It was hard not to roll my eyes during Hope and Michael's initial meeting in the principle's office as it was so similar to a Twilight scene. If your teen loved Twilight, they are sure to like Dark Hope.

Unlike Twilight, McGurk chooses to delve into a dark real world issue that is facing young people around the world, human trafficking. For this reason, I strongly suggest that a parent read this book before giving it to their teen to determine if the maturity level is appropriate for their child. This is not a book I would let my young teen read. I do feel that it is an important issue that should be examined and I applaud McGurk for being a voice against human trafficking.

I think this would be a perfect book for an older teen book club as there discussion questions in the back. It is a fast paced, easy read! Despite being nearly 400 pages, I finished it in two days. I will warn you that when you finish it, you will be left wanting more. I want to know what happens to Hope and Michael and I will definitely be reading the second book in the three book series when it comes out.

To learn more about Dark Hope, check out Monica McGurk's social media pages:

Giveaway

I'm excited to have the chance to giveaway one copy of Dark Hope to one of my readers! 

How to Enter:
This is a Rafflecopter giveaway.  Follow the instructions on the widget to enter. All current likes/follows count! Please contact me if you run into any technical difficulties with Rafflecopter. The giveaway runs through Monday, September 8th at 11:59 PM CST! The winner will have 12 hours to respond to the notification email or a new winner will be chosen. Giveaway is open to residents of the US.

Good luck!

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

$500 Cash Giveaway!

I feel like 2014 is flying by. I can't believe it's already September! The holiday season is quickly approaching and we are starting to budget for our Christmas shopping. Do you need some extra cash for the holidays or are you planning a vacation to escape the cold winter weather? If so, this giveaway is for you! 

Welcome to the $500 Sweet September Cash Giveaway!

I have joined forces with a fantastic group of bloggers to bring you this great giveaway. One lucky person will win $500 cash.



Enter to win $500 cash via PayPal.

Complete the tasks below to earn entries into this giveaway.
Refer your friends using your unique link to earn even more chances to win.
Open Worldwide.
Ends at 11:59 pm ET on September 16th, 2014.

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This giveaway was coordinated by Giveaway Promote.
If you love entering giveaways, visit Giveaway Promote to find the greatest giveaways listed in one place.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Grace's Meet the Teacher night

People warned me that babies grow up fast and wow they weren't kidding. Grace has been home with me since she was born and starting this week, she'll spend two days a week at preschool. We had the chance to visit and meet her teacher this past week and we talked to her about it a ton before actually going. While she may have outgrown her severe separation anxiety, she still gets extremely reserved around new people and new places. So we've learned that talking about things before they happen helps her transition. We talked about it so much (and watched the preschool Daniel Tiger episodes so often) that she was beyond excited to go visit. She was literally jumping up and down yelling "go to preschool now!"

The visit was both good and bad. I'll start with the good:

She loves her classroom. It has a play kitchen, lots of art easels, a fun reading area, and much more. To her delight, there are even dress up clothes in the corner. When she realized that she was going to get to play there again, she couldn't stop smiling.

We had to basically drag her out of the classroom. She was having so much fun coloring and exploring.

The bad:

The moment we went to talk to her teacher, she shut down. This wasn't completely unexpected but I keep hoping she'll grow out of it. She does not like people she's never met and has no desire to speak to them. Her teacher completely understood and didn't try to push it. She let her be but promised that she was looking to buy some dress up shoes to add to the classroom collection which at least got a little smile out of Grace. I'm absolutely sure that by next week, all we'll be hearing about is her teacher. She did the exact same thing with her ballet teachers and now she loves them. But as a mom, it's hard to know that I'm going to leave her there for 4 hours with someone she's so shy around. Honestly, it's hard for me to leave her for that long with anyone!

I keep telling myself she'll absolutely love it and she's going to get so much from it. I think it's going to really help her conversational skills and she will love the crafts and activities. I'm sure she will adjust faster than Connor and I will! Connor will have a hard time getting used to her being gone, they are constant playmates at home and really do love each other. It will be great to have some one on one time with him and I have to say it's so much easier to run errands with one than with two!

I will update later this week about how her first day went. How did you feel when your first (or second, or third?) went to school for the first time?

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