Reasons to Shop Online for the Holidays

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving will be here in 3 days! This month has just flown by and already the hustle of of the holiday season will be upon us. After Thanksgiving, many Americans will be participating in the well-oiled tradition of Black Friday shopping. Some will be gearing up at 4AM in the morning to line up at stores for the special shopping olympics. That might be fun for some, but this mama will be staying home to do my shopping!

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary by doing a little long weekend stay-cation. In addition to going out to eat, we also decided to take our toddler and baby with us for some nice strolling around and do some shopping. While the kids did fine with the family dining, we did not fare so well shopping. Simply trying on a pair of shoes required one of us to juggle two kids at the same time, and chasing around a toddler who is stimulated by all the sights and sounds of the shopping center was not so fun at all. In the end, it just affirmed my personal love of online shopping.

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Here are some reasons I find online shopping the superior way to procure:

Big Selection Without Driving Around
Instead of having to drive store to store, a great selection of goodies are just a click away. If you know in general what you are looking for, you can really get a much better selection than going to any store. You can find out if an item is available in your size without having to look around for a sales person

Price Comparison
Here’s where online shopping has store shopping beat, hands down. You can compare prices so easily and make sure you are getting the best deal available. Using a browser add-on extension like PriceBlink can help you find lower prices for mos items instantly.

Online Coupons, Rebates, and Free Shipping
By using sites like Ebates, Fat Wallet, RetailMeNot, one can easily get additional rebates and savings. Many sites offer free shipping, especially for orders over a certain dollar amount, so it can be more cost effective than having to drive and spend gas money to buy things. The key to a good shopping experience is, of course, the store that you are dealing with. A good return policy is key when it comes to buying things online.

No Crowds, No Babysitter Needed
The holiday shopping season usually means that you are shopping with a crowd of people. Even when I was a fabulous single gal, I had limited tolerance of big crowds and the nuisance that comes with it — long lines, hard to find parking, and over-extended sales people. I love spending time with my kids more than I like dealing with crowds, and shopping with young children along comes with its own challenges — the need to negotiate with naps, snacks, diaper changes, breastfeeding in public areas when you have an infant that is nursing.

Low Pressure, Making Decision on My Own Turf
I like making decisions without pressure, and being at home frees me from the influence of retail stores. Retail stores carefully plan their environment to maximize profit and they overload you with sensation of sight, sounds, and smell to get you to buy. Even the way the merchandise is placed and organized is designed to distract you into buying more. When I shop online, the shopper has more control over my decision making space as well as time.

Easier Gifting
If you are sending a gift to someone you are not going to see face to face when you present the gift, online shopping saves a bunch of steps. You can have it gift wrapped and shipped for you without much effort on your part. When there is a toddler and a baby to juggle, I am glad not to have to whip out the gift wraps and tapes!
So to those of you who will be dressing up and lining up middle of the night on Black Friday — have your fun. I will be sleeping in and cuddling with my family!


Unfortunately, this is the reality of the Internet Age.

When you use Craigslist or Freecycle even, you are opening yourself up to flakes at the very least, scams at the very worst. I am kind of glad that someone thought of this. I checked the list but it is very sparse so far, so the idea still needs some time to spread. Eventually there is probably a better way but since most of Freecycle is on Yahoo Groups instead of its own platform, it would be hard to incorporate a more useful solution.

Book Children Family Home Strategies

Book Review: Anxious Parents: A History of Modern Childrearing in America

While Anxious Parents is not a how-to parenting book, it is very useful for a parent to read as a primer to parenting books. I wish I had read this book before reading over 20 different kinds of parenting books before and after the birth of my first child. While I believe that this book could really use better editing (it is written by a historian, after all), it is a good read for new and expectant parents as that grain of salt that is much needed before embarking absorbing on other parenting books.

As a typical Type A, I like to plunge myself into any subject and research the facts, and I treated parenting much the same way. I didn’t have much resource in terms of family, so I decided to approach it like any subject I learned in school — by reading a lot. The problem with parenting book is that the majority of them are quite condescending in tone, and I can almost picture the author wagging their finger as they tell you how to do things their way. The other problem with parenting books is that you might do everything you say and your child may not do as they described your child should do… and then you would be tearing out your hair wondering WHY?? You might even think that there is something wrong with your baby and worry needlessly, as parents tend to do.

Anxious Parents is a book that chronicles how parenting changes over time and creates anxiety in parents. It really helps to put all that expert advice in perspective.

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Getting Rid of the Paper Towel Habit

I never thought that I would use less paper towels with two little ones around, but we have now started to use a lot less of the paper towel or napkin around the house. There was a time when I used paper towels to clean everything like it is going out of style. The one thing about being a stay at home mom is that I now take more time to actually examine what goes on in our home and think about it critically instead of going with habit or convenience as a default. Within the last year, we have switched over to a rags system and we have not looked back. We do still use the paper napkin or paper towel on occasion, but it is no longer the first thing we grab.

I started looking into the rags thing when my husband and I bought a house after having our son. It was also the first time in over a decade I have easy access to a washing machine. I have lived in apartments that have laundry facilities, but it certainly wasn’t as convenient as having your own laundry room inside the house! The truth is, though, I did not implement the rags system until I stopped working and was laid off from my job. I only started using rags once I became a stay-at-home mom.

Currently, our rags system includes old towels of different sizes, burp clothes, old cloth diapers, and even old t-shirts. Even if you don’t have those things to use as rags, they are incredibly cheap and you can buy 25 for $10 or so. I have a box under the sink, a kitchen drawer, and a few 3M hooks placed strategically around the house to store these rags so I can easily access them when I need them. I also have a trashcan that is meshed so that I can toss used ones in there and it is ventilated and won’t get moldy. I do laundry at least 2 times a week if not 3, so the rags get washed before they get nasty. I figure it easily saves us about $5-$7 a month. The best thing about it is that it is pretty painless to change this paper towel habit.

You might be surprised how much you won’t miss having paper towels. It is one of the easiest eco-friendly and frugal changes I have made. I actually prefer rags for cleaning up messes around the house. For kitchen messes involving food spills and such rags are much better for the task than paper towels.



When The Goings Gets Tough, I Think Of My Grandparents

Experiences from bank runs during the Great De...
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My dear hubby James called me on Wednesday right after lunch. I knew it was not going to be good because he normally doesn’t call me middle of the day, nor does he call me during the work day unless to tell me he is going to be working late. “Hey, honey, I got laid off,” he said. Oddly enough, we went through this the same month exactly a year ago. I was first laid off in September and then he was laid off first week of October. Sign of the times, I suppose. They don’t call it The Great Recession for nothing.

“I had to call you — I was getting a little emotional. I feel like I let our family down,” James told me.

“You did the right thing, I am glad you called me. You are not letting our family down. I am proud of you and we will deal with this when you get home.” I told him. Then I listened to the little details of what he was told by management and I couldn’t help but feel a bit annoyed with the employment environment today. James had just worked quite a bit of overtime launching the company’s games on Facebook’s brand spanking new mobile platform. There was a delay on account of Facebook and then Steve Job’s death. It was launched the following week on Monday… two days later he gets “restructured.” Baby Boomers may talk about job loyalty but they lived during a time when you can live on one-income, pay for college, and have a pension. James and I do not live in that world — we work in the tech industry and restructuring is a regularity. You are lucky if you get matching on your 401k.

At times like this I think back to my grandparents. I was raised by my grandparents so I hear about what happened during the war; during their youth they had to live through the Great Chinese (Hyper)Inflation. The recent economic times has been compared quite a bit to the Great Depression of the 1930s. A great many economists and experts can tell you about the difference between a recession and a depression, but here’s what it boils down to for me at a pedestrian level.

My grandparents lived through the days when your whole month’s salary can only buy you an egg. While we are seeing an increase in money supply, it is nothing like the hyperinflation that my grandparents lived through. That kind of upheaval is not something I have ever seen in my lifetime. Today, we have the Occupy Wall Street  protests; back then there was the Bonus Army (43,000 people, 17,000 of them World War I veterans) march on Washington that had to be dispatched by U.S. Army tanks. Back then, only the man worked and women didn’t have any opportunity to go out and make a living. There was no unemployment, no medicare/medic-aid, no food stamps, no welfare, and most importantly, no FDIC.

Call it a hunch, women’s intuition, or just plain crazy, I feel that a better opportunity is on the horizon for my family. James’s resume is stronger than ever and the social and mobile gaming market seems to be doing quite well.    I have been decluttering like crazy for the past few months, and the whole family can follow James anywhere he finds a job quite easily. The kids are not in school yet so we can pick and and go anywhere. Anyone has a tip on a good senior/executive level producer job in the game industry?


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