Archive for the 'Smart Buying' Category

Educational Market Trips

Every trip the the market can be fun and educational for the little ones. Even tiny babies (assuming they are awake) can benefit from the learning possibilities while you get your grocery shopping done. Here are some tips for making your next trip to the market (or any store for that matter) fun and educational.


  • Show them their world
  • Introduce them to different shapes and colors: Red apples, round oranges, square boxes for example.
  • Keep wipes/hand sanitizer on you or within easy reach, and if your baby is old enough, let him touch different things and feel the different textures: smooth cucumbers, bumpy squash. (Make sure baby keeps things out of her mouth.)
  • Toddlers

  • Have them him and count.
  • Let her count the pears as you put them in the bag for example.
  • Continue talking with him about colors, shapes and sizes. Ask: which is bigger: a grape or a grapefruit?
  • Have her find letters on signs, boxes and wrappings.
  • Play the “I Spy” game, with older toddlers.
  • If your toddler is a walker, opposed to one who sits in the cart, let them pick some things out themselves (or go with an older sibling to do so.)
  • Now is a good time too (for older toddlers), to introduce the concept of money and that you have to pay for the things in the store before you leave with them.
  • School-aged

  • Combine what she’s learning in school with the trip to the market. If she’s studying geography for example, talk about where some things come from…bananas from Chile, oranges from Florida for example.
  • Talk about cooking with him and what the ingredients are for a ________.
  • Have her try to figure out how much the groceries will cost.
  • Have him pay, accept and count the change. (This means of course, that you’re using cash instead of a credit/debit card.)
  • Use coupons/store bonus card and have her figure out what the savings will be.
  • If he’s taking a foreign language (or you speak one at home) practice vocabulary in the foreign language about things in the store.
  • Have her guess how many bags it will take to pack all of the groceries (for a large shopping trip).
  • Discuss with him why you’re making the choices that you do as a shopper. (For example: Less expensive? Brand loyalty? Eco-friendly? You have a coupon for it?
  • Talk about why some things are taxed and others are not?
  • These are just some ways that you can turn a trip to the market into an engaging, fun and educational experience, foster communication and teach your child about their world. Come up with your own to add that work for your family.

    Posted in Parenting, Lifestyles, Activities, School and Learning, Smart Buying, Child Education, Guest Blogger | No Comments »

    Take the 4-point plastics pledge

    Probably everyone has seen that one scene from The Graduate where during the Benjamin’s party, one of his parent’s friends says something to the effect of: “I’m going to tell you one word about the future. Plastics.” Many of us even remember the old commercial sponsored by the American Chemistry Council that stated: “Plastics Make It Possible.” For years we’ve come to rely on the convenience, portability and “safety” of plastics.

    Then, we got a collective environmental conscience and realized that plastics were filling our landfills and destroying the planet.

    Now, we know that certain plastics contain Bisphenol-A a possible endocrine disruptor and hormonal disruptor as it mimics the female hormone estrogen.

    It is in many items that we use daily and consider safe: from baby bottles to sports bottles, the linings of metal food cans, and in nearly any take-out container that isn’t foil or a paper product. The least safe plastic items are those labeled 3, 6 and 7 and their unsafe properties increase with heating from the dishwasher and microwave. A recent report by Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H. in the Green Guide states that “the plastics industry says it is harmless, … a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. …[And] ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The company asserts that the levels of BPA found in the items we use daily are safe, and are only unsafe at high doses. Zandonella’s report continues that according to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, “low doses that are now proving to cause a myriad of harmful effects in animals, including chromosomal damage in female egg cells and an increase in embryonic death in mice. A follow-up to this is a study indicating a relationship of BPA blood levels to miscarriages in Japanese women.” While the FDA sees no reason to change its 2003 opinion on the safety of BPA in conjunction with food use, they have been wrong before. In contrast, in December 2007, the Center to the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction issued a detailed report about BPA and its implications in humans, concluding that more study on the effect of BPA in humans is needed.

    Hmmm. Some experts say BPA is perfectly okay; others, not so much.
    So what are we to do?

    After a thorough check of my cabinets for anything labeled 3, 6 or 7, I was happy to find that all of my son’s sippy cups were labeled 2. But that was just the cups themselves. What about the lid–the part that he actually sucks on? What about the ones that have been saved by relatives with toddlers before us and passed down to us and clearly show the wear and tear of little toddler nibbles? Are the ones that are a decade old (and clearly flaking) still safe? There was no way to know…as neither the contemporary lids nor the older sippy cups had any numbers on them. Am I to assume that because the newer cups have a “2″ imprinted on them that the lids are also twos?

    You see. More questions.

    I checked my son’s bowls and other plastic that we use for food regularly as well. No numbers there either. Luckily, I never heat food in plastic, but what about transferring hot food to a plastic bowl?

    As you can see, the new information only leads to more questions, concerns and decisions about food container choices.

    While on one hand I don’t want to give my toddler a glass bowl…it is much easier to take care of a cut than potential future problems that could affect his internal functions.

    I put my mind at ease with the intent to make some behavioral changes and wiser shopping choices. Luckily, I didn’t have to grapple with how to dispose of any threes, sixes or sevens properly.

    But later in the day, the question arose again. I was at my favorite local cafe, where as I sipped my steaming coffee from its cardboard-lined cardboard cup, I stared down at the number six on the lid. How many times have I sucked on a hot liquid in one of these lids in my lifetime? How many times have I consumed hot food from a number 6 container? Sure, my exposure has been minimal according to the FDA and some scientists, but the questions still lurk.

    What about you and your family? It makes you too, wonder now, doesn’t it?

    Armed with this new information, I am willing to take a four-point pledge for myself and for my family and make a behavioral change to reduce my (our) exposure to BPA.

  • A pledge to shop smarter and avoid purchasing plastic products labeled with the numbers 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge to avoid take-out and establishments that use plastic containers labeled with 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge that when point two is absolutely unavoidable, to avoid personal exposure to such plastics that have come into contact with heat.
  • A pledge to use sustainable and safe reusable products.
  • Will you too take the pledge?

    Feel free to make it public and claim the pledge in the comments field.

    Posted in Health, Daily Living, Health Care, Healthy Living, Poison, Smart Buying, Guest Blogger, News Items | 1 Comment »

    Thrifty Thursday: eBay

    Gymboree Girl Detective

    You’ve found what looks like a great deal for kids’ clothes…2x your bid in clothing. Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on $100 worth of clothing for $50? And hey, look, it’s Gymboree! That stuff costs an arm and a leg, this is a killer deal! Woo, yay, hoohaa!

    Hold on there, Nelly. Did you read the whole ad? That’s two times your bid in RETAIL price. If that still sounds good, then go and check out Look for the proper size and style you want for your little prince or princess, then calculate the prices. If you bid on one of these popular 2x your bid auctions, you will not be getting a huge amount of clothing unless your bid is very high.

    If you can afford to place a really high bid, then you’re in luck. But for those on a tight budget, I suggest looking for other auctions. It would be very disappointing to place a low bid and only receive one item. There are plenty of auctions for Gymboree clothing, plus other quality names like GAP, Baby GAP, Disney, Healthtex, and The Children’s Place.

    Keep a shrewd eye on the shipping and handling. While I am willing to pay more for a large lot since it takes the seller time to package the items, even if they are reusing an old box, drive it to the post office, and pay postage. I think about the washing and folding, then packing when I look at their shipping and handling rate. For many clothing items in one lot, I don’t mind paying $15 to $20 for the s+h. More than that? I skip it unless it’s a really, really nice lot.

    One more tip…try some misspellings of what you’re looking for. Also, don’t go directly to the proper section. Try typing in your search in the All Categories choice. You may find things in odd areas! I once found a lovely lot of clothing for a low, low price because it had accidentally been placed with socks. Go figure!

    Posted in Finance, Home Budget, Smart Buying | 2 Comments »

    Shopping… How Taxing.

    For the first time in my life, yesterday, I took advantage of the “no tax” weekend and went to Opry Mills Mall - truly one of the most disturbingly over-the-top places in the universe.  The place was packed full of people trying to save a buck.  It was so unpleasant that it left me wondering if tax free weekend is really worth all the hulla-baloo.  I mean, really.  All the frightening crowds made it crystal clear to me why I had been wise to avoid malls in previous years during this weekend of wonder and made me question why I didn’t have the divine perspicacity to realize it this year.  Needless to say, I won’t be doing it again any time soon - or ever again.  Saving six or seven dollars wasn’t enough to make me ever, ever go back for more of that kind of torture.

    Posted in Healthy Living, Mental Health, Smart Buying | No Comments »

    Ain’t No Ride Like The Ride I Got….

    Wow.  Wow.  Wow.

    So, I have crossed over a thresh-hold that I never thought I would cross.  We were successful in the haggling game of buying a car and we are now the proud owners of a mid-size SUV.  To go from a Toyota Echo, which is about the size of a two seater bicycle, to this (a lovely, wonderful, comfortable, reliable, stylish Pontiac Torrent -sigh) is a euphoria unlike anything I have ever known.  We drove home from our vacation feeling happier, and roomier, than we ever have before. You never know how cramped you are until you are un-cramped. 

    The old “selling out” question has come into play, I’ll be honest.  I’m just uptight enough to have worried about my prior disgust with our biggie size culture and whether or not I am becoming all that I find detrimental to our society.. Blah Blah blabity blah.. You know what?  My kids are safer, happier and much (much!) more comfortable - and so am I.  The AWD and airbags to spare make me feel much more secure.  And, you know what, in my little bug of a car I was never noticed in the midst of all the 18-wheelers and oversized trucks and uber-sized SUVs.  I like feeling heartier and more noticable on the road.  The XM radio doesn’t hurt either. 

    It is just one of those “nevers” of mine that has put me in check.  Never say never.  And leave your judgement at the door - because, one day, you might just be all that you say you hate and you might love every minute of it.

    Posted in Cars, Smart Buying | 1 Comment »