Are Those Family Heirlooms Worth Anything at All?


At my previous job I was offered a gift after five years of employment. What was five years worth? $200 seemed the going rate as each gift in the selected catalog was roughly equivalent to that amount.

At the time I waffled between two options: a very girly, pink bike and an ornate Waterford vase. At the time our garage was filled to the brim with shelves full of stuff. I already owned a bike, (though not a pale pink one), and had no room to store another, so I settled on the vase. If I could go back in time I would probably pick anything other than that vase, but at the time I was recently married and it seemed like the perfect choice to fill my new china cabinet.

Fast forward another ten years and the china cabinet is no longer in residence here. The plates, cups and saucers have all moved out so art supplies and children’s toys can occupy that space. The china was transported to the attic, though I doubt we’ll ever remove it from there. But what about that Waterford vase? What on earth could I do with it? It was heavy and unfortunately not designed for a large bouquet. When we brought flowers home they stood too stiffly inside it’s confided area and looked quite stifled and tight in there.

I wondered if I could sell that vase? I searched eBay for similar items, but even at low prices it seemed no one wanted the piece I owned. I found a few companies offering to buy Waterford, but none of them wanted it either.

I was told the number of crystal collectors is rapidly declining. “Who wants crystal,” one representative asked. “These days people want big screen televisions and trips to Tahiti.”

He went on to tell me that as the older generation passes away many children, (now in their 50s and 60s), have no desire to keep these family heirlooms. After all, even those who regularly entertain rarely do so with crystal goblets and sterling silver flatware.

We are a perfect example of this. We rarely host events, but our last party involved a backyard barbeque. We served food on paper plates with plastic cups and filled a wheelbarrow full of beer.

If we are representative of our generation it’s not difficult to see why the value of Waterford and other fine crystal is falling. There simply isn’t a market out there. Very few people want the stuff and even fewer are willing to pay good money to acquire it.

My family owns quite a bit of cut glass but I’ve never eaten off those plates or poured wine into those delicate glasses. This wasn’t the case for my grandmother who used them daily as a child. Even my mom remembers being served lemonade from crystal pitchers. This hasn’t been the case in my lifetime. I’ve only seen them behind glass doors, inside a china cabinet covered with a thin layer of dust.

I understand collecting beauty for beauty’s sake, but I doubt our generation or the one that follows will have much need or desire for china or crystal.

As for me, I no longer wish to own something I have no intention of using. If it is going to sit in a cabinet and take up space I’d prefer to pass it on to someone who might covet it.

As for my Waterford, I donated it. I hope it finds a new home where it can be treasured.

August 11, 2015 at 1:33 PM Leave a comment

The Differences Between One Baby and Two


I cannot believe my little baby is just shy of five months. Time seems to move so much faster this time around. The adjustment from one to two took a little longer than I expected, but as the nap schedule begins to normalize things are definitely getting easier.

So far adding another baby has made very little impact to our finances. Other than the initial medical costs for labor and delivery I haven’t paid for anything big. In fact, other than diapers, wipes and a new dresser for the nursery I haven’t spent much on this new little guy.

I kept all of my older son’s original baby equipment, which means this guy is playing on hand-me-down activity centers, jumperoos and bouncy seats. I did splurge on a rock-and-play sleeper I found in the clearance section of Target for $30. I sold my old one for $20 a few months before I found out I was pregnant. It was actually a good deal because the new one was softer and vibrated.

The little guy’s initial wardrobe was provided by generous relatives and friends. Of course he outgrew those tiny outfits in a matter of months, but so far we haven’t needed to buy any new ones. Although the boys were born in opposite seasons there always seem to be a small pile of my older son’s clothes that are appropriate for the weather. At this point he is wearing nothing but onesies and button down sleepers.

When my first child was born I took pictures at least two or three times a week and I dressed him in a different outfit for just about every photo set. This time around I simply don’t want to spend money on clothes the baby will outgrow. Babies are awfully cute in their birthday suits so why bother covering them up?

My approach to money changed slightly for this little guy, but my approach to sleep is as different as night and day. For one, I decided to give up on the crib and co-sleeper at night. With only one baby in the house I could rest from time to time. I rarely did, but I had the option when the first one napped. With two in the house I am constantly busy and feel ridiculously tired. My oldest just happened to give up his nap after the baby was born, which means someone is always awake and in need of attention.

In order to rest as much as possible I made the decision to co-sleep. I am awake just long enough to roll over and nurse him. Then I typically fall right back to sleep.

The other big sleep related difference involved letting the baby stir a bit before consoling him. I never let my oldest fuss or cry. Until he reached the nine month mark I jumped at the tiniest whimper. This time around I let the baby fuss just a little, (no more than three minutes), before consoling him.

As a result I think he’s a much better sleeper. I can place him in the crib completely awake after nothing but a song and a pat on the back and he’ll fall asleep within a minute or two without me.

My oldest often nursed to sleep, but this guy never does. I must admit that I miss that sleepy cuddle. This baby typically eats when he wakes from a nap and is quite active and awake during feeding. He looks up at me with great big blue eyes and squeezes my hand, which is a completely different feeling.

The hardest part of having two children is the simple realization that I cannot recreate the same scenario with which my first was raised. This little guy has to share time with his older brother. He has to wait a lot more than the first and rarely gets 100% of my attention.

It’s also interesting to watch the interaction between number one and number two. While my oldest was only influenced by my husband and I, this little guy gets to watch and listen to his older brother. There is a whole lot more activity in the house this time around and the little one loves to watch his big brother!

In terms of personality the two seem very similar. They were both quiet babies who seem interested in observing the world around them. Neither creates much of a fuss and both seem content the majority of the time.

Number two appears to be a much happier baby though. My oldest is quite serious and I struggled to elicit a giggle for months. I feel like this guy came out of the womb laughing and smiling.

So far number one doesn’t care about number two. He is rather indifferent to his entrance into our family. He’s shown very little jealousy although I do see a bit when other people light up to see his brother and goo-goo over him. He’s been the center of attention for three years and I can tell the shift in position bothers him, which is perfectly natural.

I read a lot of parenting books and sibling focused topics are next on my agenda. Let’s hope they enjoy each others company somewhere along the way.

August 7, 2015 at 11:45 AM 2 comments

Consignment a Good Deal? (Trip #2)


I recently carved out a small space in the corner of my closet where I can stack three plastic boxes. The baby is growing like crazy so every time I find he’s outgrown another article of clothing I assess its ability to sell. If it has any value I throw it in the sale bin otherwise it lands in the donation pile.

Once I gather $100 worth of stuff and/or large baby equipment that takes up a good deal of floor space I know it’s time to take another trip to the store.

This week I consigned the following items:

  • 2 Gymboree blankets
  • 1 Gymboree jumper
  • 2 First Impressions Outfits (w/ jacket & pants)
  • 2 Dr Browns glass bottles
  • 2 boxes of milk storage bags (new)
  • 1 Avent bottle (new)
  • 2 Carters size 5 sleepers (new)
  • 1 Organic sleep bag (new)
  • 1 Rock and Play Sleeper
  • 1 Breastfriend nursing pillow
  • 1 Boppy nursing cover
  • 1 cotton sleep sack
  • 1 travel-sized box of Hape blocks
  • 1 Polo sweater
  • 1 outfit (onesie, sweatshirt & pants – new)
  • 1 Gymboree sweatshirt (new)
  • 1 Kids game

Last time the store processed my items quite quickly. Unfortunately, this time I came in just behind someone with loads of boxes. I waited roughly thirty-five minutes before they began processing my stuff.

If the store were closer to my house I would have dropped everything and gone home, but it’s not exactly around the corner so instead I walked around taking note of the brands they sell and their prices.

I bring in stuff that looks like new, but I saw quite a few items on the rack that were quite worn. I am happy to donate, but I do believe I could sell a lot more stuff of lower quality there.

I never receive an itemized list of prices for my goods and until I left the store I never considered asking how much they paid for each item. When they call my name they simply provide two offers and ask which one I prefer.

I was offered $53 in cash or $63.50 in store credit. I took the cash, because my youngest is primarily wearing hand-me-downs and there appears to be no need to buy him new clothes until fall. When I got home I compared each item sold to the suggested consignment sale price. When I added them all together the total earned appeared to be roughly 50% of the overall value.

Next time a consignment sale rolls into town I plan to check out the prices. A reader suggested my previous list was worth more than $100. Perhaps I am low-balling my expectations, but without experience with consignment sales it’s tough to say.

On a side note: I was tempted to purchase a toy or two for my oldest, but remembered the goal is to clean out the house, not fill it up with more stuff we really don’t need. I also found that the price of the used toys were only a dollar or two cheaper than buying new ones directly from Amazon. So I’m not missing out on a great deal if I decide to wait and add them to my son’s birthday or Christmas list.

August 5, 2015 at 12:34 PM Leave a comment

Goal: Get Dinner to the Table

pieThings have gotten a little off track since the arrival of child #2. Somewhere in the middle of my third trimester I lost the desire to cook a decent meal and as any new mother knows things didn’t exactly get easier after birth.

Last week I set a very small goal to get back in the kitchen. It’s been nearly five months since the new addition joined our family and I have a little more breathing room these days.

So I set a goal for myself: four home cooked meals a week. If I cook three to four meals and produce enough in at least two of those meals for leftovers then dinner will be on the table at least five nights at week. That leaves one night a week for take-out and another night for a hodgepodge of breakfast for dinner or something super simple like grilled cheese.

For the past two weeks I’ve met my goal, although for the life of me I cannot seem to remember what I cooked for dinner each evening. Pregnancy brain, maybe?

Here are a few meals I made. For the record I seem to stick to the same meals over and over again. It’s tough to break routine. Sigh.

On Tuesday my oldest helped me in the kitchen. I gave him very specific tasks and he set timers and pretended the meals needed to be prepared extra quickly. We don’t watch much television in our house, but every so often he watches Chopped with me and the idea of running out of time seemed to heighten his enjoyment. Over the weekend the little guy also helped me make a custard pie.

On Wednesday morning I prepared dinner after the baby woke up but before his big brother hopped out of bed. I’d love to try this a few days a week. It means waking up a little earlier, but it was so much easier to prepare food while the house was quiet. We sang and danced together in the kitchen and when I needed free hands he sat in his highchair and played with toys.

My drive to cook just happens to coincide with eat down mode; the desire to clean out all of our refrigerators and part of the pantry in preparation for vacation. The goal is to leave the house with nothing but ketchup and mustard in the fridge. That way we don’t have to drag extra food with us or worry about it spoiling while we are away. With the last three meals I was able to empty most of the vegetable bin. I saved a bunch of onions, peppers and a few cloves of garlic from spoiling. I also used a five pound bag of lemons. Yay for keeping food out of the garbage!

I often find it easy to create a goal like this but struggle to follow through with it. To keep myself accountable I am adding the menu to my monthly calendar. Let’s hope it gets easier to bring dinner to the table.

July 31, 2015 at 3:31 PM 1 comment

Choosing a Kid’s Bike: Focus on Quality or Price?


I’m crouching in the consignment store staring at two bikes. I probably look a little bit crazy. I lift one and contemplate it’s weight. I turn the handlebars, left and right, right and left. Does it move too easily? It definitely feels loose. It feels flimsy in my hands. I inspect the first one again. I repeat this process two or three more times with both bikes.

I’m wavering between the two options and eventually walk to the register to inquire about this store’s return policy. The cashier tells me “bikes cannot be returned” so I walk out empty handed. One bike was $29.99, the other $34.99, I can’t argue with those prices, but neither feel right. What if they are too small for my son or don’t feel right when he hops onto the seat?

Being the second born child I never picked out a bicycle I liked. I inherited an old red one after my brother outgrew it. I didn’t care. I was thrilled to have a bike; any bike!

I still remember my dad taking me up to the school parking lot on a warm summer day. On that flat, car-free surface he ran behind me for a second or two and then let go. I’m sure I fell a few times, but I don’t remember those details, I only recall the instant I was pedaling away from him and the way the air felt as I turned my head to look back and it rushed past my ear.

I don’t know where my parents bought that bike, how much it cost or why they chose that particular model. It worked for my brother and now worked for me. That’s all that mattered.

I wish I could say I felt the same way now. As a parent I want to provide the best experience for my child. I want a bike that feels steady and strong under his weight.

For the last two years my son has ridden a balance bike. He started riding around the house and later moved to the streets in our neighborhood. He’s now a pro on that little bike and seems ready for a real bike. So the question becomes what to buy?

Target, Walmart and Amazon all sell bikes that might work, but most of them have mixed reviews. I’ve seen brand new bikes as low as $50, but I don’t particularly want to buy a poorly made piece of junk that might be difficult to ride and won’t last beyond one child. On the other hand the local bike shop recommended a $220 Trek model which seems like an awful lot of money for a bike my son will outgrow within a year or two.

When it comes to children’s equipment when do you splurge on quality? Should I buy the cheap model knowing it doesn’t need to last or should I buy the more expensive model to ensure a fun and successful experience?

I’m not 100% sure how to proceed, but I’m leaning towards a used model from a local bike shop. It costs $75 less than a new high quality bike, but twice as much as a cheap one from the big box stores.

The pros: The bike shop claims its easier to ride, will hold up through two children, retain a decent resale value and keep a bike from making its way to the landfill. Plus it doesn’t have any silly characters on it and could easily be used by either gender. Although we have two boys we could eventually pass it on to future nieces or nephews.

The cons: Price.

I know there are a lot of parents who read this blog and I’m hoping someone weighs in on this topic. When do you spend money on quality and when do you focus on price?

Photo Credit

July 28, 2015 at 11:02 AM 2 comments

Pampers Premium Care Review

Wearing Pampers

Before my first son was born, (sometime around the beginning of my third trimester), I read a blog post about stockpiling diapers. It sounded like such a great idea, of course I wanted to save money on diapers and what better way to save then by taking advantage of promotional sales? I was already making a weekly trip to stores to stock up on household items for free or nearly free, so why not add diapers to the list of items I bought there?

There are all sorts of websites that provide estimates for the number of diapers you might need in the first year of your child’s life.

If you search the Internet you’ll find a ton of diaper approximations that look similar to the list below:

  • Newborn: 6 packs (approx. 216 diapers)
  • Size 1: 4 packs (approx. 160 diapers)
  • Size 2: 16 packs (approx. 640 diapers)
  • Size 3: 19 packs (approx. 684 diapers)

I had no idea if these numbers were accurate, but I wanted to buy at least a few packs in advance of our first little bundle of joy.  I skipped the newborn sizes, (all ultrasounds estimated my baby would be quite large), and skipped ahead to size 1 and 2. I didn’t go crazy, but I did amass a small mound of packages.

I bought the cheapest diapers I could find through a combination of sales and coupons and built a tiny stockpile in various sizes. I proudly stacked them in the closet feeling quite accomplished with all the money I saved.

Or so I thought…

Unfortunately those stockpiling efforts were a complete waste of time. Despite all of my best efforts my son consistently leaked while wearing the diapers I purchased.

After a few nights of consistently waking up wet, and thereby preventing me from any chance of restful slumber, I gave up on that brand of diapers. I gave them all away for free and promptly replaced them with Pampers. Wouldn’t you know my son didn’t suffer a single leak after switching brands.

I am now a loyal Pampers fan. I’ve tried a few other brands, (received as hand-me-downs and free samples), but none of them were as soft and absorbent.

Pampers isn’t always the cheapest brand, but with coupons and sales I consistently find great prices in drugstores, Walmart and through Amazon Mom. The quality and peace of mind I get make them worth every penny.

When SheSpeaks presented me with the opportunity to participate in the Pampers #MothersPromise program I could not hit the Enroll Now button fast enough!

Pampers Box

Pampers just released a new type of diapers called Pampers Premium Care, which contains the following features:

  • Absorb Away Liner: Pulls wetness and mess away from baby’s skin
  • Breathable Material: To keep air circulating around baby’s skin
  • Extra Absorb Channels: Helps distribute wetness evenly for up to 12 hours of protection
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Wetness Indicator: Lets you know when your baby might need a change
  • Available for purchase at Walmart later this month

Pampers Features

SheSpeaks and Walmart provided me with a box of size 3 diapers to try on my youngest son.

The first thing I noticed about Pampers Premium Care diapers is just how soft the material feels. The texture is silky and smooth not stiff and hard like many similar brands. I’m honestly shocked by the softness. It feels a lot like a fluffy cotton ball.

The material seems to be just as absorbent as any other Pampers we’ve tried. The absorb away liner and extra absorb channels kept my son dry throughout the day and night without any leaks or blow outs.

Premium Care diapers also contain the patented wetness indicator that is ultra helpful for new parents. As a new parent it is often difficult to determine whether or not your baby needs to be changed. Thanks to the wetness indicator you don’t need to guess. You simply look at the yellow stripe down the center of the diaper. If it turns blue you know it’s time to change the baby. This is also helpful when grandparents and other family members babysit. If they aren’t sure if the baby is wet tell them to look for the blue line.

From a purely aesthetic standpoint I think the baby animal designs are absolutely adorable. The package I received contained lots of pastel colored tigers, hippos and elephants in the top center of each diaper, which match our nursery’s jungle theme.

And although neither of my boys struggle with allergic reactions it’s still nice to know the diaper is hypoallergenic. If your little one tends to break out from disposable diapers this may be the brand to try.

These diapers did seem slightly larger than the Pampers Swaddlers my youngest son currently wears. Although the weight range is the same for both packs of diapers there appeared to be more wiggle room between the Premium Care elastic around his legs. You actually get more diapers in the smaller packs. Size 1 contains more diapers than size 2, size 2 more than size 3, etc. So if they do run slightly larger that would be a minor money saving advantage as your child can wear the smaller size for a longer period of time.

I cannot say enough good things about the Pampers brand. In addition to the package of diapers I received a Pampers memento box and book. Inside was a note that read:

Every day with your baby is like a new page in your story together, so use this book to write those promises and keep your memories of every special moment.

Motherhood does feel like one long story just waiting to be told. What will happen along the way? How will our relationship strengthen? Who will my child become? I keep journals for both of my boys and I couldn’t agree more.

It was a true honor to participate in this program. I am a HUGE fan of Pampers. Their leak protection is unlike any other brand we’ve tried and we use their diapers and training pants exclusively.

On a side note: I couldn’t write about Pampers without mentioning their rewards program. If you use Pampers or plan to use them in the future sign up for the Pampers Rewards Program. Each package of diapers contains a code that can easily be entered on the website or through the Pampers Rewards app on your iPhone. It takes mere seconds to enter and you can earn rewards ranging from free photo prints and photo calendars to toy shopping carts, scooters and JCPenney gift cards. I’ve earned hundreds of dollars worth of products in the last three and a half years.

Note: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/Pampers.

July 26, 2015 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

$10 Aéropostale eGift Card with $20 In-Store Purchase

20150722105524-aero2Spend at least $20.00 with your registered VISA credit card at an Aéropostale store and you’ll receive a FREE $10 Aéropostale eGift Card!

Valid through August 9, 2015, or while supplies last. Please note: Purchase must be made in-store. Online or gift card purchases do not qualify. Limit 1 per person. TrialPay will email you the eGift Card within 1-2 days of your in-store purchase.
Your card number is required to verify purchase. It won’t be charged.

July 25, 2015 at 1:19 PM Leave a comment

Saving Money on Groceries: That’s a Lot of Chicken!


I prefer to buy organic or all natural chicken for my family, but it’s so much more expensive than the other stuff our grocery store sells. Every once in a blue moon our grocery store offers buy-one-get-one offers and from time to time the price is dropped to $3.59, but the full retail price is typically $5.99 a pound.

When I received the latest email from Peapod offering chicken for $3.99 I decided to stock up. I wound up purchasing twenty 1.5 pound packs.

The invoice estimates that each pack weighs roughly 1.6 pounds so I was charged $6.38 per pack. Although peeking through the bags I believe most of the packages actually weighed slightly more, which means my money stretched slightly farther than that.

I saved $3.20 per item. Multiply that times twenty and I see a hefty savings of $64.08.

Now what’s a girl to do with thirty-two pounds of chicken? Well my husband and I cleaned it, sliced it, diced it and packed it into freezer bags. We include enough in each bag to feed three of us a meal plus a little extra left over for the next night.

chicken 3

We lay the chicken flat in each bag so it thaws quickly. When preparing meals I simply open the bag and pour the perfectly prepared chicken into the pan; no dicing or extra slicing required. It takes more up front effort but it’s one less thing to do on a busy day.

Do you ever stock up on meat or produce?

July 25, 2015 at 11:26 AM 1 comment

Complaining About Poor Service and Unsatisfactory Goods


Do you complain after receiving poor service or unsatisfactory goods? I don’t make it a habit to point out bad service, but this past week I sent letters to two separate companies asking for a refund of my purchases.

One night my family and I ate dinner at a local restaurant and ordered a few wings to go. The next day I opened the takeout box and found tiny chicken nuggets in place of the plump ones I was expecting. The previous night we ate chicken, (at the very same establishment), that was twice the size.

A day after this incident my husband purchased salad mix from the grocery store that was not only old, (the date was four days past the sell by date), but also completely rotten. When I opened the box it smelled of sour pickles.

On both occasions I was really unhappy with the situation. Dinner time is quite rushed at our house as we spend as much time as possible at the playground in the early evenings. It’s been much too hot here to play outside mid-day.

One night I planned to heat up the takeout from the night before, the next night I planned to make salad for dinner. Imagine my frustration when I realized those chicken bites would barely feed my son let alone two of us or that the salad I intended to make was rotten.

I didn’t have a back up plan for dinner in either situation. Yes I should have checked the chicken before we left the restaurant and perhaps I should have inspected the lettuce that morning, but hindsight is always 20/20.

Unfortunately this is not the first time expired lettuce has made its way into our refrigerator. I’ve been burned twice before. Now I always verify the sell by date, but my husband threw the box in the cart and I forgot to check the package on that particular day. The first two times I was willing to let it go, but by the third time I was extremely annoyed. Those boxes of organic lettuce aren’t cheap, you know?

In each situation I snapped a picture and emailed the establishment. I asked for a refund of each purchase and received same-day responses from both companies. The managers could not provide a refund but did offer to compensate me via gift cards, which is just as good.

Do you complain when goods and services are not up to par? Have you received satisfaction from the establishments you contacted?

July 23, 2015 at 12:38 PM Leave a comment

If It Is Not Useful It Is Out


I used to wonder how someone could get rid of 50, 60 or 70% of their possessions. Now I know. I didn’t calculate the exact number of items we’ve removed over the past six months, but I would bet it’s a minimum of 40 or 50% of our stuff.

Removing clutter can feel quite overwhelming. I often found myself feeling stuck as I cleaned out our basement in preparation for remodeling and decluttered our dining room to make it more kid-friendly. Should I keep this? Should I donate it? Should I move it or buy a new bin to store it?

After months of cleaning out the crap I’ve landed on a solution that worked unbelievably well for me.

I passed through each room multiple times rather than trying to finish the job all at once. I found the first round of decluttering was easy. I am never going to use the 1970s fish platter I inherited from my mom and the unbelievably heavy vase that can’t hold more than four or five flowers no longer needs to take up space on the shelf.

After taking care of the easy stuff I moved on to a different room and repeated the procedure. That dress I never wear, that shirt that’s stretched out, that gown I wore to a wedding over ten years ago…piece of cake.

I dragged everything off to donation and started again a few weeks later. With the easy stuff out of the way I made a second crack at each room. For some reason it was a whole lot easier to get rid of those items I originally questioned. With more free space opening around me I realized I craved clean counters and near-empty dresser drawers more than ever.

Was I really going to wear that shirt I hadn’t worn for six months? Was I really going to eat off that china we haven’t used in ten years?

I didn’t get rid of everything. A few things went into the attic for further consideration. That china is boxed away along with some of the platters, pretty bowls and a cake plate.

One day we might host Christmas dinner for our children. Maybe? If not, it is at least boxed up and moved out of the space we intend to occupy day after day.

As I emptied the contents of drawers and shelves I came to a realization: It is better and easier or me to get rid of something than continually reorganize it.

With that thought in mind I decided to get rid of the majority of items I moved at least once in the past year but never actually used. This includes objects that need to be dusted, but aren’t cherished. No more dusting pretty plates and candle holders. They will be used or they will be donated.

I will no longer hold on to beauty for beauty’s sake. I will not keep a china cabinet full of pretty vases that are never filled with flowers. I will not hold on to 16 wine glasses when I never invite more than five wine drinkers over at the same time.

I love how much more space we have in the rooms we live in. I intend to revisit each room one more time and to do my best not to accumulate any more unnecessary crap.

July 22, 2015 at 3:25 PM Leave a comment

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