Monday, December 20, 2010

The Best Build-A-Bear Score EVER!

Okay, so this post isn't related to USED things.... but its an excellent one all the same. You will not believe how I just walked out of Build-A-Bear.

First of all, the reason we were there was to celebrate Christmas with the Grandparents. They bought each of my children a gift card for Build-A-Bear. Then we all went together to experience the fun. Knowing that, I used our Discover Miles and received $50 gift cards to BAB as well. Total, we had $130 gift card dollars. In addition, I had a coupon for $30 off of a purchase over $100 (which, with four kids, of course I'd go over $100).

IN THE END (this is the best part), we got four stuffed animals, complete with accessories and outfits to their little hearts content... PLUS another $40 gift card (I only had to pay $20 for it and it doesn't expire) AND two $30 Merry Christmas Bears for only $5 each.

The end result??? I went in with $50 (that I hadn't used real money on) and left with $40! In addition to everything listed above... not to mention, I still have $3 left on one of the original gift cards. I have 6 stuffed animals, a gift card, and all their goodies.  HELLO???? Is that not the steal of the century???? SO COOL!

Did I have to compromise our resolution??? NOPE! I didn't spend a single penny in that store and got all of those goodies... and STILL have over $40 in gift cards left! I couldn't have planned that if I'd tried!

And, the kids had a blast. It was the first time for three of my four children and the grandparents. It was a blast, of course :)

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Used Gift Exchange?

I miss work parties. Of all the things I love about getting to stay home with my kids.... that one thing is true. I miss work parties.

So last year I decided to start an annual "work" party for stay-at-home moms. Apparently it was a hit, because I was getting emails in early December about plans for this years party!

Well, we had it. And it was fun.

10 mommies. 23 Children. It was awesome.

One of the fun things we do at this party (other than eat and chat) is a used gift exchange for the kids. We each find a toy at home that the kids don't play with anymore. We wrap it up (one per child) and give it away. Its great. Many of the kids even get in on the "give-it-away" part in anticipation of the "new" toy they will receive.

We throw all the gifts into the middle of the room (thats 23, mind you). Then we say "Go!"  Sounds like chaos, right??? It is. Fun, crazy, loud, sensational chaos. And that's just the moms!

Actually, it goes fairly well. The younger kids need a little prodding, but in the end, each child has a gift of some kind. This year was especially touching to me.

I had a brand-new Pluto plush that had been sitting in a bin. I actually have about three Plutos so decided this one could go. Considering that it still had its Disney tag... I tried selling it. No luck. Thank God! I threw it into a gift bag and gave it away. The sweet little boy who just happened to pick that bag was THRILLED! It so happens that his favorite character is Pluto! I couldn't have asked for a better home! I never would have known to give it to him otherwise... what a joy!

My little Hannah picked a bag that had a mini Toys R Us inside. Books, dolls, clothes, mechanical toys... HUGE. (That family cleaned out well!). I pulled out a couple things for Hannah and then let the other 22 kids pick what they wanted. It was so cute. The same little boy with the Pluto kept asking, "I can have two things?" Another little girl pulled a Strawberry Shortcake doll from Hannah's bag. Little did I know that Strawberry Shortcake was her new favorite character as well!

Finally, Corban, my 3-year-old, was among the last to pick a gift. Someone found one left labeled "Toddler boy." It was between that one and the one we had brought, so he took that one. Well, it happened to be a never-used (it seemed) Disney Cars book... complete with a whole set of mini cars and a floor map to play on. If you know my son, you know that this was HIS gift.

I sat back at the end of the party and was filled with such joy. One person's "junk" was another person's newfound cherished treasure. What delight! And, not to sound cliche, but I was so blessed by how God had so lovingly arranged the gift of each child. True, some kids were initially disappointed... maybe they got a baby toy and they were quite a bit older than that! Still, they all left with something special- whether it was traded, given, or found.

The smiles were mesmerizing and I found my own self smiling all throughout the day as I thought about the various ways children had been blessed. Isn't God good?

And all from something used....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

What My Kids Think

My husband had this great idea of letting our kids blog! I thought it might be nice for you to hear what THEY think of our New Years Resolution of 2010... as the small ones sort of forced to deal with it!  Heres what they said, in their own words:

Elisabetta (10 years old) said:


Well, going to parties and having to make my own presents is cool and it gives me a chance to be creative. 

What I learned is that you don't have to buy things that are factory-made. You make the presents. When a person receives a gift if it is home-made or hand-made by you it is more special because... they know that you spent time on their gift.

I also noticed that YES! it is hard. But it can make a difference in your life. You can think Wow! I made something. You will be able to pay your bills faster and not have to worry about not having enough money to pay.  EMP."

Heres what Matthew (11 years) had to say: 

"In the experience of us only buying used stuff really helped me connect to God. The reason why is because God gave everything He had to us. He didn't go to a store and get it He gave everything He had. So I would inspire you to use what you have and use it wisely."

WOW!!!!!!!!!  Even I was a little surprised by their responses! What a blessing to know that our kids got something out of this experience too!