We’re Not ‘Thinking Pink’ — Part 2!

This is a two-fer post: We’re happily expecting, and it’s another girl! I’m past the halfway point now and it’s finally becoming more real that we’ll have another little one in the household in a matter of months.

And no, we’re still not ‘thinking pink‘ — although it’s going to be much easier to add another girl to our family, since we’ve saved all of Emily’s clothes and baby things. Plus, with one of our three bedrooms on the first floor, these two will be sharing Emily’s room for as long as they can stand it until we think one of them is ready to move to the downstairs bedroom (we have the other upstairs bedroom, and moving downstairs isn’t an option for us).

Yes baby No. 2 will be getting a lot of hand-me-downs, but most of the clothes are in pristine condition. The beautiful, purple/girlie baby swing gifted to us by my BFF was hardly used. The only thing we’ll need is a new crib, as Emily’s has been converted into a big-girl bed.

So many new things to think about, too — preschool, daycare, new budget. I’m going to have to put on my personal finance hat and figure a lot out. But for now, I’m reveling in the joy of carrying another life inside of me.

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Extreme Couponing or Just Plain-Old Couponing?

My brother, future sister-in-law and a few friends decided to start a couponing club. They’ll be sharing coupons and trying to get the best deals on the necessities for their lives. By pooling their coupons, they can buy items in bulk, which is great for non-perishable items like toiletries and paper products.

But will it work? Only time will tell.

Extreme couponing takes a lot of time and energy. You have to match coupons to sales, which can eat up most of your free time. It usually requires a number of trips to different stores. And what’s on sale isn’t necessarily what you need.

I used to be an avid couponer — nowhere near “extreme” level, but I paid a lot of attention and would go to difference stores to get what I needed more cheaply, especially cat food and litter. But since the birth of our daughter three years ago, my couponing time has dwindled. Partly because I’m working more and partly because I’d rather spend my free time with our little girl. Another variable is that there were fewer and fewer sales on the items we regularly use.

I still collect the Sunday coupon flier, but I find that I’m not cutting out as many as I once did. It’s difficult to match up coupons with sales prices lately. I just try to make smart purchases and use coupons when I can. But I’ll admit there’s a pile of fliers on our dining room table that I haven’t touched in a month, and I’m sure half of the coupons expired two weeks ago.

Has anyone else been having trouble with couponing lately? Is it that the deals and the coupons don’t match up, or that you don’t have the time to expend on couponing?

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Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

I’m still here — work and our almost-3-year-old daughter have been keeping me quite busy nowadays, and I find myself immersed in her world more than the world of personal finance. I’m still clipping coupons and challenging customer service when necessary, but I’m also making cats out of Play-Doh and playing with dolls (and dinosaurs). I’m hoping to post more regularly come January.

Right now, I’m in the middle of my annual Christmas cookie bake-a-thon, but only two varieties in. This weekend I should be making two or three different kinds, which I think will more than suffice. That is, if I can find the time in between wrapping presents, a task I’ve neglected until the last minute again this year.

I can’t wait to see Miss Emily’s face on Christmas morning, when she sees her “prizes” — her adorable name for presents. While she may not remember it forever, it will be the first Christmas that she really understands what’s happening, Santa Claus and all.

Merry Christmas, everyone! If you don’t celebrate, enjoy the season and best wishes for a Happy New Year.

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Summer Infant Customer Service

After expressing my displeasure about my Summer Infant baby monitor breaking after just a few months and posting the link to my blog on Twitter and writing to them through their website, the company immediately responded. Besides the fact that the monitor broke pretty quickly, I was peeved that you couldn’t buy JUST the monitor to replace a broken one — you had to shell out almost $240 for an entirely new system.

After some back-and-forth, Summer Infant decided to send me a new monitor, despite not having a gift receipt or the box any longer. That’s some great customer service. I had the replacement monitor within a week. A good thing, too, as I couldn’t see our 2-year-old on the screen any longer.

I appreciate the faith they had in me, that my gripe was legitimate (it, of course, was). Of course, this gets them a little bit of good press, too.

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All the Leaves Are Brown

It’s officially fall — the leaves turn colors, temperatures drop and Nicole gleefully pulls her boots and sweaters out of storage. Summertime has come and gone, and everybody’s home again.

I’m ready for pumpkin picking, Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving turkey. I’m ready to shop for a fall wardrobe for Miss Emily. But I’m not ready for the “Christmas creep” — the barrage of holiday displays that started showing up in retail stores before the calendar even hit September (Costco, I’m looking at YOU).

Sure, I’m starting to think about what Santa Claus (and Mommy and Daddy) are going to get our little sweet pea for Christmas. I have some gift ideas rolling around my brain, but I haven’t put them to paper yet because I know it’s far too early, despite the link bait and “news” stories popping up all over my social media feeds. Even CNN got in on it, with an ‘early peek at the hottest holiday toys.” Believe me, there’s nothing ‘hot” about a “Tub N Toot” doll, which does exactly what you think it does.

For now, I’ll be content with squeezing in as many trips to the park as possible before the really cold weather sets in, and buying the cutest outerwear and boots I can find for a toddler who will only wear them for a season or two.

Just don’t ask me if I’ve started my Christmas shopping yet — it can wait.

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Tiling a Kitchen Floor, For Dummies

This is no humble brag — it’s a full-out brag: I’m pretty handy. I can put up sheetrock, paint, and fix things in a pinch. I enjoy my home improvement projects (remember Fix-It Friday?), but since becoming a mother, I choose to spend most of my free time with my toddler.

But every once in a while, I get a bug up my butt to start a new project. This time, it was to replace our kitchen’s disgusting sheet linoleum floor. The floor was so dirty, even a steam cleaner with a grout attachment couldn’t get all the dirt out of the crevices on each square. I’ve been wanting to replace the floor for at least two years — I could have sworn I had a blog post about that around here somewhere. But I didn’t want to put in a beautiful new ceramic floor just to have to rip it up when it came time to renovate the kitchen, a project that likely won’t happen until 5-7 years from now.

Already knowing I didn’t want laminate wood floor because the rest of our first level has real wood flooring, I investigated my vinyl flooring options. I’d successfully tiled our back playroom with vinyl tiles when we first moved in, but wasn’t sure it was a look I wanted in the kitchen — 30 years old or not.

One Saturday, I wandered to my local Home Depot and discovered vinyl tile that you can GROUT, and my inner Bob Vila thought it was a fabulous idea. The vinyl tiles are self-stick — just peel off the backing and set them down — so all I needed was some spacers and some pre-mixed grout.

Ripping Up the Old Linoleum

I had an entire week off from work for ‘staycation,’ and the first night, I began tearing up the old sheet linoleum. Unfortunately, there were TWO layers of linoleum to deal with. It took me a day and a half just to remove it, using a 1-inch-wide putty knife and a blow-dryer (to loosen the old adhesive). By the end, my hands felt unusable. This is how it looked at the very, very beginning.

 

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That green layer? That was the clean backer layer — more like a sheet of paper than a board — that I almost destroyed, thinking there was plywood underneath rather than the super-ugly original kitchen tile that showed through at the seam with the wood flooring in the dining room. As I went along, I gently scraped off any extra linoleum paper backing that was left on the backer paper in order to ensure a smooth surface. Eventually, we moved the fridge into the dining room, but to do that, I had to disconnect the water line to the ice maker, which I managed without flooding the joint.

I was going to prep the backer board before beginning to lay the vinyl tile, but decided against it since the surface was very clean and generally level. But I used wall spackle to fill a few holes here, especially to level out the spot where I started in the picture above.

Putting Down Vinyl Tile

This was the easiest part for me — yes, really. I bought 1/8-inch tile spacers and used them to space out the tile as if it were porcelain or ceramic. It was probably harder, as I had to remove the backing paper on each tile and make sure it was straight before laying it down and sticking it to the floor. Cutting around door frames was a pain, but I did a pretty damned good job with just a razor knife and scissors — I found the scissors to be better for complicated cuts.

Grouting Vinyl Tile

Pre-mixed grout made this part less painful. The day after setting down the vinyl tiles, I tackled this portion of the project. Using a 3-inch putty knife, I added grout to the joints, making sure I didn’t get too much on the vinyl tile surface — unlike normal tiling, you don’t cover the entire surface. I then wiped off the excess with a damp sponge, rinsing the sponge after every wipe, and finished the joint with a folded paper towel (apologies to any professional tilers cringing while reading this). Here’s how it looked as I started to grout — I worked on the fridge area first.

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My least favorite part of this home improvement project? Trying to keep two cats, a 2-year-old and a hungry husband out of the kitchen for the three days as I worked. But the finished product made it all worthwhile.

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Naturally, that’s our perpetually-in-motion toddler, Emily, running around on what she now calls “Mommy’s floor.” The vinyl tile itself was a little darker than I thought it would look in our kitchen, but I think it pulls everything together, especially with our black appliances.

Next on the home improvement agenda? Updating the hardware pulls on the cabinets (think I’ll leave well enough alone with the hinges) and repainting the walls on the opposite side of the kitchen where our table and chairs are. That will be a snap compared to this!

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I Have a Broken Summer Infant Baby Touch Video Monitor

… and I am not pleased about it.

Got this Summer Infant Baby Touch Video Monitor as a gift a few months ago, to replace an older model I’d had for a few years. It completely changed our world. Rather than transmitting a picture of just a portion of our toddler’s room, we could pan in all directions! The ability to talk to her through the handheld monitor portion was by far my favorite feature — I can’t tell you how many times I was able to tell her, “Go back to sleep, it’s too early!” and squeak another hour out of her (even if I was lying).

Now, the monitor is showing THIS:

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Not ideal, not ideal at all.

It started in that upper-left corner with the triangle thingy. Then more and more lines branched out in both directions within a week or so, eventually filling the screen like this. The thick vertical bar was the last straw.

Summer Infant does not sell the handheld monitor part separately. You can buy replacement cameras and AC cords and rechargeable batteries, but you can’t get this one piece on its own. It was a gift, so I don’t have a receipt (I’ve checked with the gift giver). The box is long gone.

My choices would be either to buy a brand-new set (anywhere from $190 to $240, depending on the store/sale), or risk buying one from eBay that could have been tampered with or is used and possibly defective.

Because my phone time is limited during their customer service hours this week, I’ve sent a message to Summer Infant’s customer service department through the company’s website. I’m hoping they make it right, because less than six months with a monitor that costs $200 is ludicrous.

If they can’t make this right by offering to replace free of charge (the right thing to do) or at least offering me the chance to buy just this part at a reduced price, then my next baby video monitor will be from another company.

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