Why Should You Care About the New Smurfs Movie???

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The Smurfs The Lost VillageOver the weekend, my kids and I got a sneak peek at The Smurfs: The Lost Village movie, and we were quite pleased with it.  (Thanks again to Stephanie of Autism, A Diva, and Dance!)  I had zero expectations of this movie because I honestly knew little about it coming out (I avoid children’s programming commercials at all costs these days!), and because I had only seen bits and pieces of the first movie, and none of the second. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

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Car Games for Kids

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Morning car rides can be daunting if you’re not a morning person, and sometimes even if you ARE a morning person.  Although I believe it’s perfectly ok to let your kids be bored, I also believe it’s important to use moments together wisely.  So we tend to spend our morning car ride having conversations, and playing kids car games that help wake them up and keep them on their toes, AND it’s all done sans technology!  Here I delve beyond “Punch-Buggy Charlie” and the license plate game for some good no-tech car games for kids.

Car Games for Kids

20 Questions – We each take a turn coming up with a person, place, or thing.  Then the other participants take turns asking yes or no questions to figure out what it is.  If we figure it out before the 20th question, we win; if not, then the person answering the questions wins.  This is a good exercise in making deductions and also figuring out good “category” questions. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

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UpCycling Creativity that Lets Parents Sleep

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Chick-fil-a soup containersAs a member of the Chick-fil-a Moms Panel, I was challenged (again) recently to upcycle the chicken tortilla soup containers.  Since I recently upcycled the salad containers, I thought this would be a piece of cake.  Or waffle fry.  😉

The challenge came at a perfect time, as it helped solve a problem we were facing on weekend mornings.  You see, my husband and I like to sleep in a little on the weekends – and by “sleep in” I mean not get up at 6 am like the kids do!  At five and seven, the kids are more than old enough to entertain themselves safely in the toy room, but recently my daughter took on the responsibility of also wanting to feed herself and her brother during the weekend mornings.  Not a big deal, in theory, because she can prepare cereal and open bananas for herself and her brother.  Boom – breakfast.

However, the issue arised when she admitted to helping herself to seconds, then thirds, then fourths, fifths, sixths, and SEVENTHS of cereal one morning.  Bless her heart.  Granted, she showed me that her second through fifth bowls were less than a quarter full, but still that was entirely too much cereal.

SO, I utilized clean and empty soup containers from Chick-fil-a.  I simply poured an appropriate amount of cereal in each container, and put the lid on.  The cereal waited for them on their placemats in the morning, and I had a cup of milk in the fridge for them to pour on to their cereal in the morning.  The containers were big enough that I could tell my daughter she only ate what was in the bowl.  Along with a banana, this was PLENTY for a meal.

As a bonus, the containers also serve as a great on-the-go breakfast.  About once a week, we indulge in sleeping in a little later during the school week.  We wake up, brush teeth, get dressed, and head out the door.  The kids enjoy a Chick-fil-a soup container of their favorite cereal, along with another container filled with fruit, and they’ve got an easy, delicious and not-that-bad-for-you breakfast.

In summary, upcycling the Chick-fil-a soup containers has allowed my husband and I to sleep more.  As parents, that is amazing.  😉

But I’m not the only one who came up with an awesome way to upcycle Chick-fil-a soup containers.  Check out these other creative ideas:

Given all these creative options, how would YOU upcycle a Chick-fil-a soup container?

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

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15 Books You Should Read with Your Kids

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15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids

Recently I shared with you reasons WHY you should read to your children, now let me offer a selection of great books you should read with your kids.  Remember, whether you’re reading aloud, reading together, or reading the same book separately and discussing, the important thing is to simply READ.

Do you agree with this list?  Do you see any books you’d add?  Do you see any books you would not have included here?  Any surprises?  How many of these books have you read as a child, or TO your child?  Would love to know your thoughts.  🙂

15 Books You Should Read with Your Kids

  1. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – My kids LOVE hearing this one at bedtime – they’ve got it memorized, and my two-year-old son will “read” it to himself frequently.  There’s a little bit of Max in all of us, I’d say.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Where the Wild Things Are
  2. Charlie and the Charlie Factory by Roald Dahl – I’m frequently floored when folks seem surprised that there’s a book to go along with the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  (Check out more  Books No One Knew About Until the Movie, if you’re curious.) I am a collector of Roald Dahl, and have enjoyed just about anything he’s written – including the charming tale of Charlie and his adventures that begin with the Golden Ticket.  This was the first book I read aloud to my 4th graders, many years ago – daily, they sat, perched at their desks listening, anticipating what would happen next.  <3 it!15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  3. Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin – (Confession: I added this book, replacing another book I wasn’t familiar with.)  When a book ends with “no matter what you step in, keep moving along and singing your song because it’s all good”, I’m sold.  The accompanying catchy tune you can find on YouTube is but mere icing on the literary cake here.  Should you skip over Pete the Cat?  GOODNESS NO!
  4. Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – This was the first book my daughter read to us, from beginning to end.  (Yes, at age four, she is a reader!)  It’s a great “gateway” book for beginning readers to gain confidence in their budding skills.  And if they learn a thing or two about trying new things along the way, well, consider it a bonus.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Pete the Cat
  5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown – Sometimes a classic is a classic for a reason.  Goodnight Moon is certainly no exception here.  You’ll scarcely find a parent who doesn’t fondly think about how they read it to their babies, likely long after they were babies.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Goodnight Moon
  6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling –  Yes, your kid will likely want to read this series when he’s older, but this is a fantastic read aloud book to introduce your kids to the magical world of Harry Potter at an early age.  And then take them out back and play a li’l Quidditch together, followed by a few rounds of butter beers.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Harry Potter
  7. Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney – Perhaps this story holds more meaning to parents than their children, but every child should hear the tale of just how very much a parent loves his child.  And that’s all I’ll say.  Go read it for yourself.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Guess How Much I Love You
  8. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst –  The ultimate “bad hair day” book remains a classic, as Alexander shares his (obviously) bad day – and even moving to Australia won’t make things better.  Or will it?15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day
  9. No David!  by David Shannon – If you’ve ever spent any amount of time living with a two year old, you will catch a glimpse of him or her in this sure-to-be classic story, based loosely on the author’s childhood days.   It’s adorable illustrations complement the simple text, together painting a rich, sometimes devious picture to which both parents and children will relate.  And you may just find yourself calling your child “David” when they start to resemble a holy terror.  Also don’t forget David Goes to School and David Gets in Trouble, to round out the lovably mischeivious collection.15 Books You Should read with Your Kids - No David
  10. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey – Again, it’s a classic for a reason.  The adorable tale of Sal picking blueberries with her mother will delight readers -both young and old- as they watch the paralleled story of the mother bear and baby bear collecting blueberries for hibernation.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Blueberries for Sal
  11. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff – I still remember sitting in the library in Kindergarten, hearing the librarian read this to us.  I love the cause and effect, and how it all ties back together at the end.  I’ve collected all the other “If you Give a…” books by Numeroff.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  12. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne – What child (or adult) doesn’t have some degree of affection for the willy, nilly, silly ol’ bear?  The classic tales take kids back to a simpler style of children’s literature, which require a little more imagination, and less illustrations.  Nonetheless, they are absolutely worthwhile.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Winnie the Pooh
  13. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter –  Not unlike David Shannon’s main character (see #9), Peter Rabbit finds himself frequently in sticky situations, particularly with the ornery Mr. McGregor.  Watch how Peter Rabbit’s leanings towards naughtiness make for great adventures.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Peter Rabbit
  14. My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells – No child’s library is complete without a little Mother Goose. Period.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Mother Goose
  15. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – This was the first chapter book my daughter and I read together.  She was four at the time, and was so fully-engaged throughout – which honestly surprised me.  She loved hearing about Charlotte, Fern, and even rascally Templeton.  Her eyes welled up with tears when Charlotte passed away, but a smile crept up over her face when her babies were born, and then floated away.  As a treat, we enjoyed watching the movie, and comparing it to the book.15 Books You Should Read With Your Kids - Charlotte's Web

[Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

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Tangled Hair, Starting Kindergarten, and Doing-It-All

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I originally wrote this almost two years ago, but as I get closer to sending my now SECOND GRADER off to school, and cope with also having a boy in pre-K, there’s still so much of this that rings true.  ….and I still don’t know how to do-it-all.  😉
Starting Kindergarten

Last week proved to be quite a week, to say the least.  My family and I spent the first week in August on vacation in Florida, first hitting the beach, then spending some quality time with the grandparents, and a day at Disney.

We came back on Saturday, and my oldest was starting Kindergarten on Monday.  Seriously, the summer seemed to have just flown by.  I’m proud to say I held it together quite well, and masked my nervousness and sadness at sending my baby off to Kindergarten, in a school with kids all the way up to 8th grade.  It was the second day, when carpool began, where I nearly lost it – watching her walk away with her cute Ariel backpack.  Such a big shot.  What happened to my little baby??

With starting kindergarten, came many many many adjustments, including earlier wake-ups in the morning, adjusting 2-year-old boy’s nap schedules, packing lunch every. single. day AND a snack.  We’re still working on it all.  But so far, neither of my children have starved.  At least not from lack of meals, but perhaps on occasion because I’m mother of the world’s pickiest eaters.  I digress.  I’m figuring out how to get breakfast prepped the evening before, and get lunch prepped on Sunday (freezing PBJ wraps = GENIUS!), and streamline as much as possible…

And now I start (back) to teaching preschool.  We had CPR refresher last week, which was a nice chance to re-connect with friends, co-workers, and teachers alike.  And to watch my son literally skip down the hall as he returned to “school” was priceless.  So in addition to juggling this ah-mazing blog (which I love dearly), two mornings a week of teaching, and trying to maintain a regular gym workout, life has become …hectic.

In the midst of all this, I got a Facebook message from a friend, whom I haven’t actually seen in a very, very long time.  You can read it for yourself:

Starting Kindergarten - Nice Compliment

That got me thinking, how many moms appear to “pull it off” even if they feel like they’re merely in survival mode?  My friend Maria over at Mamalicous Maria offers a candid look at how moms appear -particularly on social media- verses how we actually ARE.  After all, we’ll post 20 pictures of our kids reaching those coveted milestones, those clever jokes/sayings/quips our kids say, and all the cute things in between.  But would we dare post that we just lost our temper and yelled at our kids, overreacted about something small -likely the proverbial straw breaking our mommy camel’s back- and took it out on the kids, or when we knowingly fed our kids junk for dinner because …well, it was just easier, and quite frankly because you “didn’t want to hear it.”

Sound familiar?  Yep.  Thought so.  We put our best (social media) face out there, thus creating this false ideal of what motherhood should look like.  The truth is, we don’t “do it all.”  We do the best we can with what we have – and sometimes our best is simply “survival mode”, or something not too distant from there.  And that’s ok!  I, for example, FINALLY tackled the piles and piles of papers and …junk that had accumulated on the kitchen table.  (You know how every house has that one “catch all” area for junk?  I have such an area in every.  single.  room of my house, y’all!)  While I finally got the table quite presentable, clean even, I discovered the kids had scattered toys ALL over the den; the boy dumping out every single kids’ book in his possession.  Oi.

I digress.  (surprise!)  It’s been quite a week.  (The fact that it’s taken me WELL over a week to get this typed up and posted should give you some indication of just how hectic life has been.)  But we are all here, and we have all survived.  More or less.

Oh, and Monday night, I indulged, letting my daughter brush my hair.  When she’s fully in the mood, it.  feels.  fantastic.  So she started going to town, as I laid on my belly on the bed, reading stories to her and her brother – part of our nightly ritual.  All of a sudden, I felt a familiar tug as she started rolling the comb up my hair – before I could say anything, I found myself with a brush firmly tangled in my hair.  We finished stories with a comb in my hair.  We said prayers with a comb in my hair.  I rocked my son with a comb tangled in my hair, and tucked my daughter in with a comb in my hair.

Then, I enlisted my husband’s help in de-tangling that confounded comb out of my hair.  The struggle was real, y’all.  Things weren’t looking hopeful, and I was trying to figure out how on earth I could possibly CUT the comb out and still do ….something…. with my hair.  (And still be able to donate my hair in the process.)  And then I told him he could snap the comb in half, if he thought it would free my hair.  *light bulb*  In the end, my hair came out, the pieces of the comb were recycled, and my hair was de-tangled.  Eventually. Soo, alls well that (split) ends well, right?  😉

Starting Kindergarten - Comb Tangled in Hair

I conclude simply with this. I put the question back to you all, mothers of the world – or mothers reading my blog: How do YOU do it?  How DO you do it?

You may also like to read about A Message from My Daughter:
A-Message-From-My-Daughter_profile.jpg

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Atlanta Baby and Child Expo 2016 {giveaway}

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Atlanta Baby and Child Expo 2015 logo

The Atlanta Baby and Child Expo is fast approaching! I had such a delightful time attending in years past, and am super-excited about it’s upcoming return.  Also, I’m happy to offer tickets to give away, too!  (see details below)

Atlanta Baby and Child Expo 2016:

The Atlanta Baby and Child Expo is considered THE premier event for expecting and new parents in the Southeast.  We bring in the ultimate in parenting and baby products and professionals.  It’s an elite experience, intimate in setting and not overwhelming.  It’s a party for expectants, new parents, grandparents and their family and friends. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Getting on the Same Page as Your Spouse with Parenting – Nanny 911 Series

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barbara - same page as spouse2Parenting is tough. Marriage is tough. Kids are tough. Life is tough. You get the picture! Even if you and your partner have completely different parenting styles, you’re still one team and you must work together. Nanny 911 has not only taught me about parenting – about teaching the kids what to expect, about following through, and of course about the Naughty Chair – it’s also taught me about growing my relationship.

Even if you disagree in the moment, do not argue about the kids’ behavior and discipline in front of them. I’m not saying you always have to agree on everything, heaven knows kids need to see that you can disagree and work through it. I’m just saying when it comes to their behavior and consequences, discuss differences of opinions behind closed doors. Behind closed doors is where you’ll sit down and hash it out – respectfully, of course. You’ll talk about your side, his side, and then you’ll reach a compromise.

Types of Parents

Angry Parent: If you’re the parent with the short fuse – always angry and yelling – I bet your kids either tun it out, or think it’s appropriate to act that way and start yelling as well. Am I right? Your spouse might tune it out as well, and then loosen the reigns behind your back, undermining your authority. Or maybe your spouse is the short-fused one, and you find yourself “making up” for it by being more lenient.

Instead of yelling, try taking a few deep breaths or using a stress ball. Identifying your triggers beforehand will help you work on self-control in the moment.

Softy Parent: If you’re the parent that makes excuses for your child’s behavior – pretending their disrespect is “no big deal” – your partner might be pretty frustrated with you. And playdates are most likely a nightmare, so your friends might be upset, too! Do your kids get away with things you know they shouldn’t, and essentially rule the house?

Stop making excuses. Write out clear expectations for your children and yourself, so everyone is on the same page and knows which behaviors are okay – and which are not.

There are several other parenting styles discussed in the Nanny 911 book. They are covered in great detail and I love that the book gives you tips for how to handle each parenting type.

Making Your Relationship a Priority

When you’ve been married a while, sometimes things can get pushed to the side – like date night. I understand how easy it is to get swept up into the routine of just being Mom and Dad, but at some point your kids will be grown and you have to be able to function as a married couple, right? Don’t put date night off for 18 years!

Even if you can’t escape the house on a regular basis, you can have a date night in after the kids go to bed. There are tons of ideas for date nights – both in the house and out – on Pinterest! I know it’s difficult to find a babysitter sometimes, but at least try to make date night out a priority as well – even if it’s just once a month, for a few hours!

Check out the rest of my Nanny 911’s series:

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Staying Consistent With Parenting – Nanny 911 Parenting Series

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barbara - staying consistent2If there is just one area that most parents – as a whole – fail in, it’d be consistency. We fail at consistency in all parts or our lives at one point or another, right? That diet that’s “going to start on Monday”, or the gym membership we pay for and never use, or whatever else we might’ve started and stopped doing over the course of our lives. It’s all about staying consistent, and as a whole we do not have a great track record. That is about to change, with Nanny 911’s help.

Consistency is a key ingredient in the recipe for good parenting, and well-behaved children. Consistency gives our children a sense of security. When they know what’s going to happen next, or what to expect, it makes transition times much easier. If you have a child that is prone to be anxious, having consistent boundaries and a somewhat consistent schedule can help ease their day to day anxiety.

How to Be Consistent

Create a schedule. Choose a time to wake up, a time for naps, and a time to go to bed. Within those time frames, you’ll also need a rough time for meals, snacks, clean up times, brushing teeth, baths, etc. If you need to, depending on your child’s ages, create a chart detailing your routine. Be sure to account for emergencies, mishaps, and other things that are bound to come up during your day. This means you don’t need to account for every 15 minutes of the day – just a general outline is sufficient, showing the kiddos what to expect around each time of day. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

To the Mom Whose Kid Hit Me with a Coloring Book at Church Today

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mom of children with special needsPart of our family routine includes attending Saturday evening Mass, and this weekend was no exception.  We drove separately, since my husband was going to take our daughter to a dance performance, while I took our son back home.  I came in about 15 minutes late with our son, as he was in the midst of a Prednisone-induced fit when it was time to go.  Sigh.

We were all sitting in the back pew, doing our usual Mass thing, and I observed the family in the pew ahead of me – namely because there was a little girl with redhair sitting with them.  I noticed their mom, and likely her parents, with three school-age-ish kids.  The mom and the grandfather sat between the son, while the girls were sitting betwixt the grandparents.

I quickly, quietly noticed the son likely had mild special needs.  I also noticed quickly how stressed the mother seemed.  It broke my heart to watch her out of the corner of my eye: I could sense the anxiety she felt.  She was nervous her son may act out, or simply act outside the norms of what’s expected during Mass, and perhaps “bother” parishioners around them. [Read more…]

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Communicating With Your Child – Nanny 911 Parenting Series

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barbara - communicating 2a A big part of the Nanny 911 book (and philosophy) is communication. Nanny 911 frequently speaks about communicating – with your spouse, and with your children. Not only will open communication help solve problems now, it will also set a great foundation for your little ones to grow on – all the way to adulthood!

Think about all the times you’ve had a conflict, whether at school, work, or even at the grocery store. Communicating effectively most likely could have not only solved many of those issues, but prevented them. Not many people put the effort in to learn how to communicate.

3 Communication Tips for Kids of All Ages

Be consistent (Nanny 911 Commandment #6), and receptive. Like I tell the little ones, “put your listening ears on”. Sometimes, as kids grow into teens, they start to shut down and refuse to communicate with us as parents. Many times, that happens not because they’re “just teenagers”, but because we have taught them that we don’t want to hear what they have to say. I know it’s easy to say that we do listen to our kids, but in this day and age of cell phones and social media, many parents miss the mark when it comes to looking their kids in the eyes and giving them their undivided attention. If this is you, don’t fret – it’s something you can easily fix, with a little work.

1. When communicating with children of all ages – yes, even teens – look them in the eye. This is so important. Put down the phone and give your child 100% of your attention. If you don’t, you’re teaching them two things:

1 – The phone is more important than they are.
2 – If they misbehave or act out, you just might get mad enough to put the phone down and give them the attention they’re craving.

Put extra effort into spending time with your kids, no matter their age. Read to your kids, or have them read to you. Set up a sensory bin, or even a water table, and get down on their level to have a little extra play time.

2. Babies and Toddlers: When babies do something like bite or hit, use communication to redirect. Obviously you wouldn’t put a baby in time out, but talking to them and explaining things as if they know what’s going on is what you want to do from Day 1! They will learn about expected behavior, and your responses, much faster this way.

With babies and toddlers, instead of saying “no hitting!”, I like to say “gentle touches” and show an example. Or, “hands are for loving, not hitting” – with another example. For older kids, “Use your words” instead of hitting.

I’m a preschool teacher, so “teacher” mode is something that sticks with me. As a preschool teacher, I try to only use positive language. Meaning I don’t say “no running”, I’ll say “walking feet”. This is because when you say “no running”, an image of running goes through their mind! Forget the “no” part… they’re gone! 🙂 If you say “walking feet”, then they’re picturing a set of walking feet and will hopefully comply. We know this concept from when the librarians in school would say “inside voices” instead of “no yelling!”. It works!

3. All ages: When discussing behavior with your child, don’t interrupt. Let them speak their piece – in a respectful way – and then repeat or at least acknowledge what they’ve said. I love that the Nanny 911 book has several examples of real conversations with kids of all ages to demonstrate exactly how to do this. Show your child you love them, but also tell them. Tell them you’re listening, then show them by putting your phone or other distractions away.

Communication is vital to a healthy relationship with your kids, but it does take some work – especially if communication isn’t something you were taught while growing up. When your kids understand that you’re listening to them, they’re more likely to listen to you. Practice makes perfect, though, so just keep working towards a positive and open line of communication in the family.

 

Check out the rest of my Nanny 911’s series (coming soon!):

 
Staying Consistent With Parenting
 
Getting on the Same Page as Your Spouse with Parenting

 

Keep on saving!  :o)
--Barbara

**Remember, y'all, this post may contain affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation when you purchase from my links, which I"ll totally blow on waffle fries and sweet tea, y'all!**

Atlanta's Frugal Mom is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon. In other words, if you click through to Amazon from some of the books or products I recommend and make a purchase, I get a small percentage in exchange for your purchase. It's a small way you can support AFM.