Hidden Gem

I just have to say, if you aren’t hitting up Dollar General for some deals, you are really missing out!


Tonight I bought:

cat food (the reason I had to go), 4 cans of Chef Boyardee, 1 package of pudding, 2 boxes of cookies, 2 jars of Rotel and 2 bags of snack pretzels for under $15!

Check out their weekly ads here.  Match these up with your coupons and you are golden!

Have a great night!


To Apologize?

Sometimes I have a bad day.  (Not really today but sometimes it does happen)

My question today is, how often, if ever, do you apologize to your kids?  I feel like this is a hot topic.  I know some people who have never had their parents apologize to them for anything EVER.  Others apologize all the time so that their kids are in charge.

I will admit that sometimes after a particular trying day at the middle school, I am more likely to get mad a little more easily.  I have been known to say, “I deal with bad kids all day long, I’m not going to come home and deal with more!”  Now I say sometimes because really most days are a joy to work with my little middle-school monsters.  They say the funniest things!……Getting off topic here.  So if I fly off the handle at the littlest thing because I have had a rough day, I have been known to go back and apologize for losing my temper so quickly.  Is that a bad thing?  Does that make the kids win?

I tend to think that, in moderation, it is a good thing to apologize to our kids.  I don’t want my kids to think I’m perfect.  If I make a mistake by them, I want to be able to apologize and let them know I am going to try harder next time to do a better job.  For example, if you have a kid who has been telling you they don’t feel good and you blow it off as trying to stay up later or get out of doing their chores AND THEN they throw up everywhere!  That would be a time when I think I would apologize for not believing them and then explain why that is the reason you should never lie about how you feel.  I think that if I never apologize, then why should they apologize?

I know there is a fine line between apologizing only when you have truly made a mistake and letting your kids run the house and be in charge of you.

What do you think?  Do you apologize to your kids?  I’m very interested to hear what you think.

My other life

Besides wrestling two crazy kids, I also have a wonderful job.  I get to be the librarian at the best middle school in the country.  I used to get embarrassed about being a librarian.  I guess I thought people were picturing and old lady with a bun and a sweater or something.  I do have a sweater but I don’t get embarrassed anymore.  I love my job, most of the time I love the students and I feel lucky to get to have my dream job.  (By the way I have my sweater on days when it is 64 degrees in the my library like one day this week, I needed more than a sweater.  Maybe a parka is more like it)

The beginning of school is always hectic in the library.  I have to teach almost 200 new students (6th graders) all the procedures of the library.  I do an orientation but I am positive the kids are too overwhelmed to listen because I end up teaching all 180+ where to turn in their books individually.  This week I started to get frustrated and then I realized, just because I have known the routine for over 10 years now doesn’t mean the new kids do.

One of my favorite things in the library is to reveal the new Truman Award nominees to the students.  The Truman Award is an award that middle-school students in Missouri give to an author each year.  All year long students read the nominees and in the spring, they vote for their favorite.  This is a big deal at my school.  On Tuesday morning, I will unveil the new nominees.  They are under a cloth right now, that’s right, it’s very dramatic.  Basically, if you have ever been to Walmart on the day after Thanksgiving, that’s a little how the library will be on Tuesday morning.  Students get really excited to get one of the nominees.  It’s my favorite morning of the school year.  I love when random teachers will stick their head in just to see what is going on because there is such a ruckus in the library.

I’m sure the fact that I bribe the students with rewards for reading these books has nothing to do with their excitement.

I don’t get embarrassed to tell people I’m a librarian anymore because I know I am really good at my job and I love it.  If I start wearing my hair in a bun, you are allowed to get worried  🙂

The Appleberry’s Take DC

Because of today’s historic earthquake in the DC area, I am reminded of many crazy family vacations, some of which were in Washington DC.  This is the first installment of the The Appleberry Vacation Memories blog series.

Every year my family would take a family vacation.  These vacations always had to start or end up in Ohio, where my mom’s family is from and every year they were full of excitement and drama, none of which were planned, but we did some exciting site-seeing as well.

Disclaimer:  All of the events described are seriously how I remember the vacation taking place.  Every member of the Appleberry family probably have a different version of the story except for Nerdboy who has no childhood memories at all.

On this episode of the Appleberry Vacation Memories, we had been to Virginia Beach.  I was 12 and Nerdboy was 5.  Our experiences are Virginia Beach are an entirely different post but the thing you need to know is that along the way we had realized that our mini-van overheated anytime it wasn’t on the highway.

I remember we were driving along the highway trying to navigate our way AROUND DC.  DC was NOT on the vacation plan.  My dad was driving and my mom was reading the map and giving directions.  There was a little arguing and miraculously we ended up in downtown DC.  (Mom should not have been reading the map)

The key to this story is that our van would overheat every time we weren’t on the highway moving along at a fast pace.  Another key to the story is that I was a very literal kid.  We seemed to hit every red light in DC while my mom continued to look at the map (bad idea) to try to get us back to the highway.  My dad (Usually a calm and collected individual) started saying in a slightly panicked voice, “The van’s going to blow up!” over and over again.  In my literal brain, I was picturing our van blowing to smithereens and pieces of the Appleberry’s falling all over the capitol.  I was the family worrier so I sat in the back and just prayed and prayed that our van would not actually blow up causing us all to die a miserable death.

This frantic craziness of red lights, dad yelling, mom yelling back, me near tears while praying my little heart out, not sure what Nerdboy was doing, went on for quite awhile until Dad abruptly pulled the van over into the first spot he could find.  He jumped out of the car as smoke billowed from the hood.

Several men came up and started yelling at my dad that he was parking in an illegal spot and he needed to move.  My dad told them that if they wanted to move the van they could but it was going to blow up.  I was just trying to get out of the van that was about to “blow up” as fast as possible.

I’m not sure how everything went down at this point but we found out that the men yelling at my dad were secret service because we were literally less than a block from the White House and my dad kept saying that his van was going to “blow up”!  (Thankfully this was way before 9-11 or else my dad would have been carted away and we would only get to visit him every so often.)  We looked across the street and, lo and behold, there was the White House!  We hadn’t even noticed it in all the Appleberry craziness that was happening.

The misunderstanding about the exploding van got figured out very quickly and the White House gardener was nice enough to lend us a bucket of water to help our hot van.  We went to a McDonald’s for awhile to let the van cool down.  I remember expecting to see Bill Clinton walk in because I had heard somewhere that he like to jog and frequent McDonald’s.

After awhile, our van cooled off and we were on our merry way.  We, somehow, found the highway but I think there were more raised voices and threats of the van blowing up before we actually hit the highway.  I’m not sure where we headed next but I’m sure there was another adventure waiting for us.

Oh how I miss those family vacations!

Girls Day Out

When I was younger, there was nothing I liked more than going to KC with my mom for the day to do some shopping.  We would scope out the deals, eat a lunch at a nice restaurant and just talk the whole day long.

I have always taken Paige shopping since she was super small.  She has always been able to keep up with me all day long and we have enjoyed ourselves.  Then two years ago we got a detour in our great shopping routine…Parker.  I never realized that all the “boy” stuff is part of their DNA.  Parker does not like to shop and he loves danger and sports.  We take Parker shopping with us and he instinctively cries every time we go in a store.  Now sometimes we have to do what we have to do so I try to make it as fun for Parker as I can and he has to go anyway, but yesterday the stars aligned and Paige and I were able to have a great day.  Parker had quite a bit of fun himself, I hear.

Blake and I both had the day off.  After a rather early wake-up call from Parker…”Mom, I’m done” came the cries from the bedroom, we woke up and went outside to get our yard chores done.  We were in danger of becoming part of the red-sign group.  Actually, that’s a fib.  I started out helping Blake but my allergies very quickly told me I needed to come in so I got the inside work done while Blake finished tackling the weeds.

When the work was finished, off we went to play.  The boys took a nap and then headed out to a friend’s farm to check on their tree-cams for the upcoming hunting season.  Rumor has it Parker was introduced to the four-wheeler and all-around good boy fun.

Paige and I headed to Joplin.  I had birthday money burning a hole in my pocket and several $10 free coupons for various stores.

We started our adventure at the Japanese steakhouse.  They have great lunch specials!  This is one of my favorite treats but Paige has always been afraid of the fire.  The other day she mentioned she would like to try going again so I hustled her in there hoping she would fall in love with the place so we could frequent it more often.  It worked!  She loved it and she ate a ton!  Next time we will have to bring Parker and once we are all hooked, watch out!

We did quite a bit of shopping.  The only downside I see to Paige getting big enough to not need a stroller is that I no longer have anywhere to keep my purse and to stash my bags.  Now it’s all manual labor during our shopping trips.

We introduced ourselves to Pink Swirl.  All I had to do was look at the name of the place and the sign and I knew Paige would love it but I wasn’t so sure of what I would think of it.  Oh my!  Basically, it’s a frozen yogurt place where you get to fix your own sundae.  We tried a couple different types of yogurt with a couple different toppings.  I’m hoping it’s super healthy since it’s yogurt and all because we will definitely be going back!  As we sat eating our yogurt, I came up with a game plan for my next visit of what exactly I will try.  I hear that Orange Leaf is another of these frozen yogurt places that is really good and Joplin also has one of those.  Definitely head in to check it out!

We ended the day with Sam’s Club for some essentials.  Paige was not too happy and pretty tired by the time we hit the last store.  As we walked in the store, her mood was instantly brightened because they were handing out roses!  Then every sample in the entire store was something she loved.  I tricked her into trying popcorn shrimp so now she is excited to start eating more shrimp!

We had a great day finished off with a relaxing night at home with our little family.  Today was topped with naps for everyone.  It has been a great weekend and I guess we are ready for another week.  After 2 days of kindergarten, Paige was super tired so getting through an entire week should be a challenge.  I hope you had a great weekend full of recharging and gearing up for this next week.  Have a great week!

The Thirties…

I will admit it…I was watching Kate Plus Eight the other day and she was asked the question:  If you didn’t know how old you were, how old would you be?  Her answer was 30.

I agree with her.  I have loved my 30s.  I spent my 20s trying to figure out who I was and trying to fit in with everyone else.  I had a lot of big life decisions to make and it stressed me out that I might make the wrong one.

Then I got to my 30s.  I had my second baby and life just started working.  I have realized that I like who I am and I don’t have to be something I’m not just to please other people.

I used to get really upset by other people’s actions.  In my 30s I realize that what other people do doesn’t really have any relevance to my life unless they are doing something to me or even worse, my children.  I just do what I need to do and make sure I’m teaching my kids to be thoughtful people.

Other people’s little quirks used to bug me and drive me crazy.  Now I love people’s quirks.  It’s what makes us different.  Life would be so boring if we were all exactly the same.  God is so creative!

Realizing some of these things have caused my family and I to have to make some decisions that sometimes aren’t popular with other people and sometimes aren’t the easiest decisions to make but in the end, if we are true to who we are, what we believe and what we want, we are ultimately happier in the end.

If you have 30 looming in your future, don’t be worried by it.  It’s a great age!  I hope that with each year I just keep enjoying life more and more.  It makes me excited to keep getting older!!

Lessons Learned

I will admit it.  I am a closet couponer.  No, I do not have 700+ toothbrushes or deodorant but I do have somewhat of a stash of staples that we use.

Every week I’m out to match up my coupons (organized and in a notebook) with the weekly sales to get the best deal.  I have to admit I started doing this before the big TLC show came on.

So I have learned some lessons throughout my couponing experiences and I feel like I should pass them along to help you save some time and frustration

  • Always go to the younger cashiers if you are going to be using coupons.  They are a little more friendly and helpful when it comes to figuring out the coupons and they are more willing to work with you.  It also helps if they are former students because then you already have a relationship with them going in to it.
  • This one is kind of embarrassing–One night (late at night) I wandered through Walmart and wrote down all the prices of the things that we buy regularly.  I organized those by category and wrote them on index cards.  This “price list” is a great go-to when I’m trying to figure out how good a deal really is.
  • Get organized and have a plan going in to the store.  If you just wander the store with your coupon notebook you will end up spending a ton of money that you wouldn’t normally spend.
  • Walgreen’s–I started driving 20 miles to Walgreen’s a couple months ago.  If they have good enough sales, it is worth the drive but there are certain things you need to be aware of.  First of all, the Ft. Scott Walgreen’s is small so their Sunday ad is smaller than Joplin or Pittsburg.  The bigger stores have better sales.  Ft. Scott Walgreen’s will price match the Joplin Walgreen’s ad but you must have the ad with you in order to do that. If you are looking at the weekly ad online, double check you are on the Ft. Scott ad or when you get to the store you will be sorely disappointed (not that that happened today or anything)
  • Register Rewards–Walgreen’s will give Register Rewards on some items.  If you can have a game plan, you can use your Register Rewards on the next purchase.  Ft. Scott Walgreen’s is very nice about helping you find items and letting you do more than one transaction in order to get the most out of your buck.  Today I had a cashier that told me if I bought my shampoo separately I would get 2 separate register rewards instead of just 1 RR if I did it in the same transaction.
  • Dollar General–They do take coupons and most of the time are not aware of what is in their ads.  I have gone before and mentioned something being on sale that didn’t have a sign and the cashier looked at me like I was crazy but low and behold the ad was right and I got the deal!
  • Ft. Scott Dollar General–There is a new DG in Ft. Scott.  It is really nice.  I had gotten a grand opening coupon from them so while I was in the Fort today I stopped by to use it.  I had my game plan of how I could spend $20 exactly to use my $5 coupon.  I had to rethink my plan when I found out that…They do not carry Pepsi products at Fort Scott DG.  Even when there is a Pepsi deal right on the front of their ad.
  • Walmart–They will price match other sales ads but you must have the ad with you.  This is a good deal if you don’t want to make more than one stop but since our local grocery stores will double coupons up to 50 cents and Walmart will not, if you have a coupon for the on sale item it is better to just take the time to make the extra stop.
  • It is not a good idea to take small children on these couponing adventures.  Although sometimes it is fun for the little helpers to get to pick out 4 boxes of fruit snacks, most of the time if you can manage it, it is better to leave them at home.
  • Usually if there is a BOGO promotion, you can still use 2 coupons which makes for a great deal.

First of all, I know I am a nerd.  What else is there to do in a small town?  I don’t buy things that my family won’t use and I haven’t bought cereal in awhile because I was getting overwhelmed with cereal boxes but it definitely saves money to just watch the ads and be organized.  It sounds complicated but really it doesn’t take me too much time each week to get a game plan.  Sometimes the ads aren’t even that good so I don’t have to worry about it.  I’m more than happy to answer any questions about how I get the most out of my money if you are interested.