Friday, November 27, 2015

What Parents Do When the Kids Go Away

Dog approaching WubbleX. 
My nest has been empty since September, though 2 of my kids came home for Thanksgiving. But we have a dog that (sort of) fills the void, and we've replaced our cereal shelf in the pantry with an overflow liquor cabinet.

I satisfy my urge to play by engaging the dog and we recently had good times with WubbleX, a ball that you inflate with helium. It looks like a giant bubble and I can just imagine how thrilled my kids would have been with this when they were little. 

She brought the ball into her already to filled bed.
Since it is filled with helium, WubbleX is for indoor play only - it will float away outside. Once you get it to optimal size, about 9 inches in circumference, you have to pull the straw used to inflate out and quickly cover the hole with a sticky patch. This is really a 2 person operation, and for adults only, but once we got the ball inflated, our dog chased it till she collapsed.

Our labrador is known for destroying her prey - er, toys - so we put the WubbleX away for those cold days when we don't want to spend hours in the park tossing her ball.

Whether you are playing with this with a child or a dog, don't let anyone play with this unsupervised. The ball is supposed to be quite durable, but I wouldn't trust a kid with it alone.

If the WubbleX starts to deflate, you can pump more helium in; we used up most of the can filling it the first time. You can buy the toy at Target or ToysRUs.

Note: this is a sponsored post. Opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Every Day is Black Friday with Groupon Coupons

Lat year's Toys for Tots donations
When I was younger, my mother was a huge day after Christmas shopper. This was traditionally the day you could get half price deals on holiday cards, wrapping paper and ornaments. 

Then Black Friday became a thing. My youngest daughter, Nora,  is a huge Black Friday shopper and we have driven from Thanksgiving dinner to sports stores so she can stock up on running shoes, running tights and soccer cleats. She also gets up at 5am and heads into Soho with her friends to trawl for the hottest deals.

I often buy toys half price right after Christmas and donate those the following year at Toys for Tots events. So they aren’t the latest toys, but I get more bang for my buck and the toys are all new and shiny.

Haven't found a deal yet for this car
This year is going to Nora’s biggest Black Friday yet - she gets home from her first semester of college the day before Thanksgiving, and that early morning Black Friday shopping excursion will be the first time she has seen some of her high school friends since August.

I prefer to avoid the crowds and I recently found out about Groupon Coupons. This is a new (ish) venture for Groupon. Instead of buying a voucher upfront, and then strategizing about when to use it, you can get these free coupons for lots of retailers.

And you can use these coupons anytime - not just for holiday shopping. Nora’s birthday is right after Thanksgiving, so I can shop now at some of her favorite retailers and spend the day after Thanksgiving letting my pants out and running an extra 12 miles to work off all that Thanksgiving gluttony.

I did a quick check of what's available right now on Groupon Coupons and found deals at 2 of her favorite places: $10 off at Uniqlo and 40 % off at Adidas.

There are also travel deals at Orbitz and Travelocity and since we have not yet booked hotels for our next family vacation, I know I will be able to score some deals here.

The beauty of these coupons is that if you buy them and forget to use them before the expiration date, there's no buyer's remorse: you aren't out any money.  But you can definitely save some.

Note: this is a sponsored post. Opinions expressed are my own.