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Pregnant? Maybe You Can Get a Free Car Seat Too…

The following is another post from my younger sister, Teresa Ward.  She already wrote about how she got a free breast pump.  Now she found out how to get a free car seat!

I promise not to bombard Crystal’s loyal readers with baby/toddler bargains, but just like the free breast pumps, I had to share my latest insurance steal that could save parents $$$!

That Necessary Car Seat…

One of the more expensive baby products that ALL babies and toddlers need is a car and/or booster seat.  They vary widely in costs from $70 on sale/online for a basic model to $400 for a new model or one purchased at a speciality store.

You might think the difference in price buys more safety for the little one, which I would argue is money well spent, but the truth is ALL car seats sold in the US must meet Federal Safety Standards and pass multiple crash performance standards.  Yes, a few of the high end seats do have extra bracing or maybe shock absorbing material they claim to be effective.  But judging from the specifications I researched, it appears more money mostly buys you the newest fabric trend or a few bells and whistles that your little one might never use/aren’t proven effective.

So I was already planning on getting a lower end car seat that had great customer reviews and great customer service for our second vehicle (we were already gifted a different car seat which is awesome, but we need two as per our lifestyle and having an extra base alone wouldn’t work for us).

Free Car Seat Opportunity

Happily, I just happened to receive a flyer summarizing our car insurance benefits while car seat shopping.  We are insured through Texas Farm Bureau, and one of their much touted benefits listed was the Child-Saver Program.  Basically, this program boils down to a partnership between TFB and Child Source to give heavy discounts on car and booster seats (and for TFB to randomly add a few child safety articles in their flyer).  Eager to see the deals, I logged onto TFB’s website using the member link online and was directed to an order form.

I was pretty happy to see a Cosco Apt 40 RF CC047FSM Car Seat listed at the member discount co-pay of $35.50 (no shipping or tax fees added)!  Features of this car seat actually exceed minimum requirements.  The seat comes with:

  • the ability of both rear facing (for newborns) and front facing (for not-so-newborns) modes
  • 4 harness heights
  • 3 buckle locations
  • side impact protection
  • 2 integrated cup holders (win for when the baby is older!)
  • 5 point harness with up front adjuster.

Grabbing the Deal

While I wish the insurance company offered more options to choose from, I did enough research to be very happy with the 4-star rated Cosco car seat (as listed on Amazon).  My baby book even mentioned it as a steal-deal at retail of $70-100…to think, I swiped it for a fraction of that!

I happily filled out the half-page order form, wrote a check for $35.50, and slipped both into the mail to Child Source, the company that my insurance works with to supply this great deal.  Side note:  I have also read multiple reviews that Cosco (not to be confused with Costco, a chain store) has excellent customer service, and even accepted a car seat that was used for 6 months for a full return.  I love companies like that!

A month after I sent my check, I opened my front door to see my car seat was delivered! 

Car Seat - Yorkie Not Included

Yorkie not included. ;-)

I would recommend researching and ordering car seats a few months in advance of your due date since processing seems to take a few weeks with any insurance for anything (especially during the holidays like my order), and you never know exactly when D-day is ;-) .

Also listed on the order form was a booster seat for $25.50, which I will totally order as soon as my much anticipated son gets to that stage.  Just figured I would mention that for other parents of infants and toddlers ;-) .

Search for this Steal Deal

I did a quick google for this post and saw a few other car insurance companies offering discount car and booster seats (including Arkansas Farm Bureau and Mississippi Farm Bureau who offers theirs at only $25 a car seat).  It’s definitely worth a quick call/email to your car insurance company!

I would also recommend calling a mainline or national line, as I am not sure how familiar local offices would be with this type of benefit.  I’ve also read that a few medical insurance companies and employers will provide discounts as well – so give your medical insurance and HR a call too if the car insurance company doesn’t pan out.

Overall, I spent about ten minutes finding the order form online and ten minutes filling it out and sending a very small co-pay – and saved a minimum of $35-50 depending on where I would have bought it plus taxes/shipping costs (while avoiding the temptation to purchase an even more expensive car seat).  My insurance company even allows me to purchase up to three discounted seats, so I could have multiplied the savings and bought one for every vehicle (but it wouldn’t make sense to return the gifted car seat, so next time!).  This is also a great option for a back-up car seat for the much loved grandparents or caretakers to use.

Hope this helps you or someone you know!

Pregnant? Maybe You Can Get a Free Breast Pump Too…

The following is from my younger sister and occasional guest poster, Teresa Ward.  She thought she could share after she was happily surprised!

As Crystal announced, my husband and I are expecting our first child this year!  While we couldn’t be more excited, I am daunted at the LONG list of items we need to purchase before our son’s birth.  One of the biggest ticket items – although not a strict necessity for all mothers – was a breast pump as I plan to breastfeed for several months and would like my husband to be involved.

Baby

Research Works

After realizing on Amazon that breast pumps vary widely in price all the way up to $300, I heavily researched them before making a purchase.  Happily, I discovered my medical insurance covered mine 100%!!!  Yes – I actually ended up ordering TWO FREE breast pumps that my insurance will cover (totaling $400 retail, a little less than $300 discounted or online).  The best part – delivery to my front door before my son is even born!

The Steps I Followed

I wanted to share the process to make sure any parent who qualifies for the same benefit didn’t pay out of pocket for this very expensive baby product!  Not all insurance companies and plans are as generous, but it never hurts to ask.  (And my understanding is that certain new US healthcare laws have required insurance companies to cover breast pumps to some degree, but that’s a completely different post.)

Steps to Use Insurance Benefits to Purchase Breast Pump(s):

  1. Contact your medical insurance company and inquire about what your plan does or doesn’t include.  Ask for any exceptions (like only purchasing from the insurance company’s durable medical supply store) or limitations (like only being able to rent a pump versus buy one or a maximum amount the insurance company will cover).  TIP FOR THE BUSY – If you cannot call the insurance company during business hours, just send them an email requesting the same information, including your name, policy number, and date of birth!

  2. If your insurance does cover a breast pump(s), ask them about the steps to obtain one.  You will mostly likely need to contact the associated medical durable supply stores and see which pumps, if any, are available (again, you can call, email, or even just check their website).

  3. Read reviews of the various breast pumps offered and make a selection.  Amazon is a great source of reviews, as are your medical providers, online articles, recent breast feeding mothers, and nursing books.

  4. Order your choice in breast pump from the medical supply store, giving the company your medical insurance and doctor’s information.  At this point, they will NOT ask for your credit card information.

  5. Wait for the durable medical supply store to contact your insurance to have your pump approved.  Often, the insurance company will require a doctor’s note/prescription for the pump, which the medical store will obtain from your doctor.  You might be able to speed this process up by requesting a prescription yourself from the doctor and submitting it to the medical supply store, but I figured that was part of the beauty of ordering one thru a medical supply store – less work for me!

  6. The durable medical supply store will contact you to discuss your insurance’s coverage.  If your insurance covers your pump 100%, they will let you know they are shipping it to you at no charge.  If your insurance covers part of the pump or had other questions, they will also let you know at this time.  Be sure to ask questions, as the durable medical supply store reps are typically very helpful.

  7. Hopefully – wait for your pump to show up at your doorstep.  Storks don’t bring babies, but I like to imagine storks dropping off free pumps to expectant mothers!

My Process

How my process went:

First, I called up my medical insurance provider (which is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas on an employer PPO Plan); typically insurance companies list a customer service phone number on the back of insurance cards.  Keep this card handy, as both the insurance and durable supply equipment companies will need your policy number.  After a short wait, a service representative informed me that my plan actually covered TWO breast pumps under the amount of $150 each per calendar year, to be purchased from one of their durable equipment medical suppliers (which is just a fancy term for medical stores that my insurance companies work with).  I was a bit concerned that those companies might not have the brands of pumps I was interested in, much less any pumps at all, but the service rep let me know both Edgepark Medical Supply (https://www.edgepark.com) and Byram Healthcare (https://www.byramhealthcare.com) carried breast pumps and were covered by my network.

I checked both websites, and ended up placing an order from Edgepark from both a FREEMIE Hands-free Deluxe and a MEDELA Pump In Style Advanced breast pump.  Edgepark has very generous hours if you need to call them (they even answer the phone on Saturdays) and has quite a selection of pumps.  I ordered both at the same time, as both were highly reviewed online and in my baby book research.  Not only do I have a back-up in case one breaks, but inevitably I will prefer one over the other so I figured I would give myself options!  I will try to post later my reviews of each if Crystal will let me ;-)(From Crystal – Of course!)

Two days after I placed my order, Edgepark contacted me via email, asking me to call them.  Nervous that I was not covered somehow afterall, I called and to my excitement, they confirmed all my information and informed me that my insurance should cover them 100%.  They were going to process my order and send the pumps to me, unless anything else came up with the insurance company.  They did NOT ask for any billing information and won’t unless the insurance company denies the order for any reason.

I am now waiting on my much anticipated order to arrive.  For the little effort I put into this process (2 short phone calls and 1 easy online order form), I will call this insurance benefit a HUGE WIN!

So to get the message out loud and clear – please, please contact your medical insurance BEFORE you purchase a breast pump if you live in the US.  It’s worth the short phone call to save a lot of money on a product you may only use for a year or less.  Do NOT purchase your pump from any store until you contact your insurance company – they will NOT reimburse purchases from non-medical supply stores or those they don’t work with.  I would recommend contacting the insurance company a few months before your due date, as shipping, obtaining prescriptions, and even just ordering takes time!  Best of luck in your thrifty endeavors!

Hope this helps some of you too!

I’ve Been Matched with Big Brothers Big Sisters!!!

It’s been a long process, but I finally have been matched with a “Little” with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS)!  You may have read about the beginning of this whole thing a couple of months ago.  Yep, it took about 10 weeks, but it is totally worth it!

Getting to This Point

I filled out the first volunteer application in mid-July, sent in all of the requested paperwork, asked 5 of my friends/co-workers (blogging buddies) to fill out reference forms, and took a quick online class and quiz all within a few weeks.  Next, I was interviewed by a match specialist and was officially approved.  Then sat around waiting to be accepted and matched.  That all took about 2 months.

Once they called me with a prospect about a month later, I accepted, his parents accepted, and then we met in person a couple of weeks later at the BBBS office for a few minutes.  I had my first real outing with him last week and again yesterday.  :-)

My Match Experience So Far

So, I obviously can’t give out too many details so nobody’s privacy is messed with, but I can write about general stuff.  I’ve been matched with a young man (about 4th grade) who is as quiet as I am loud.  He’s also as dark-skinned as I am ghost white.  So we make a fun pair, LOL.  Oh, and he seems to like me.  That’s important.  :-)

Our first outing was last week.  I’m supposed to keep everything to as close to free as possible.  So I used a gift card and a coupon to take him to Chili’s and then he picked our activity – disc golf!  I mentioned it when we met as something my husband and I played before, and my Little thought it sounded fun.  Yay!  It was really wet and Chili’s took a while, so we only played about 5 holes on the disc golf course, but it was still a lot of fun and he would like to go back sometime.  :-D

He didn’t say much during our actual time (he’s a major introvert and it will take time to open up), but his mom says that he bragged about me to everybody afterwards – so yay!!!

Yesterday, we went to an 8th grade football game that was close by.  He loves football and the weather finally cooled down to a nice 70 around here.  We had a lot of fun and even grabbed some snacks at the field.  It was relaxing.  He said he had a lot of fun.   I did too.  I think we’ll work out just fine.

Since I am out of town next week for The Financial Blogger Conference, we’ve already set up our next get together for the week after.

BBBS

I think this program is like a ton of volunteer programs I’ve worked with before – needed since these kids really want someone to hang out with, overloaded since there are more Littles than Bigs, and everyone is doing the absolute best they can.  I would totally suggest it for anybody who thinks that they’d enjoy working with a kid!  I think my Little is going to help me just as much or more than I help him.

Are you looking into any volunteer positions lately?  It makes the world feel a little better for me.  :-)

45 Activities with Kids on the Cheap

Okay, so you know that I am waiting to hear back officially from the Big Brother Big Sister program.  I’ve also been returning to super inexpensive fun on my own since we are being cheap for the next few months.  So today’s post is pretty simple.  Here is the list of activities with kids that I’ve come up with that can be done even with a tiny budget:

Activities with Kids on the Cheap

  1. Take photos to make annual scrap book.
  2. Make/paint/go on shopping trip to find a piggy bank/bank for budget.  I was thinking of making a budget of less than $20 a week and we can save the extra for more expensive outings.
  3. Pottery painting.
  4. Kids Eat Free days at different restaurants around the city.
  5. Zoo – Free first Tuesdays after 2pm from Sept through May at the Houston Zoo.
  6. Feed the ducks.
  7. Picnic
  8. Hike/Walk
  9. Petsmart/pet store events.  We can play with cute dogs for free and even volunteer our time.
  10. Library
  11. Volunteer.  The Big Brother Big Sister program will even let us know when there are openings at things they hear about.
  12. Children’s Museum – Free Thursdays from 5-8pm at the Houston one.
  13. Dollar Movie Theater – there is a $1.50 one about 10 minutes away from my house.
  14. Build-a-Bear – Can save up for a really nice one.
  15. Board games
  16. Miller Outdoor Theater (any city’s outdoor theater)
  17. Menil Collection (art museums)
  18. Swimming
  19. Garage sales
  20. Thrift stores
  21. Errands (they actually say that other people’s kids like this…)
  22. Cooking
  23. Bingo (you can get 9 cards for multiple games for a total of $4-$6 per person)
  24. Pajama party
  25. Movie night
  26. Disc golf
  27. Fly a kite
  28. Go to the beach/lake/etc.
  29. Parks
  30. Sports events.  Highschool football games are cheap and sometimes free for kids.
  31. Auctions
  32. Brazos Bend State Park (any state park)
  33. Drive-In Movie Theater
  34. Ghost stories
  35. Gardening
  36. Make our own art.
  37. Look at crafts available at Hobby Lobby.
  38. Sea Monkeys
  39. Farmer’s market
  40. Fruit picking
  41. Puzzles
  42. Geocaching
  43. Mini-Golf
  44. Weenie and s’more roast – yummy
  45. Home Depot Learn to Build classes – look up their schedule online.

Becoming a Big in the Big Brother Big Sister Program…Hopefully…

In mid-July, I decided to fill out an application to become a “Big Sister” for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).  I had been thinking about it for more than a year, but I just now seem stable enough to devote consistent time to a “Little”.  I had no idea what the process would entail though, lol.

Process Up to Now

Here’s the breakdown of what has been required so far to volunteer with the BBBS program:

  1. Fill out basic 5 minute application.
  2. Fill out the more detailed 15 minute application.
  3. Send in the 5 work and private/social references that they requested.  This took about an hour to find everybody’s basic info and text them all to make sure that using them was okay.
  4. Sent in a copy of my driver’s license and car insurance.
  5. Spent just 20 minutes overall of texting to make sure that all of my references received the quick info sheet that they needed to fill out about me and send back to BBBS.
  6. Scheduled an interview with a match specialist.
  7. Took the 1.5 hour online “training course” that consisted of watching 2-5 minute informational videos about BBBS, writing down video codes, and then taking a quick quiz to make sure you know not to be stupid.
  8. Had the 1.5 hour interview with the match specialist, which included answering more questions about me and my home environment and letting them know what I was looking for in a “Little”.
  9. Now I have to wait 2 weeks for a letter letting me know if I am approved.
  10. Then I’ll wait 1-5 months for a match.

My View So Far

I am actually still super excited.  :-)  I mean, there has been more involved with this than with any other volunteer program I have worked with ever before, but I understand.  I’m going to be working with a kid…they have to cover everybody’s butt.  ;-)  I just hope that I get a match sooner rather than later.  I am getting better with having patience in day-to-day stuff, but long-term patience when I am excited about something is still lost on me.

Based on the feedback I got off of my match specialist, I will be getting accepted into the program as long as everything I said checks out and I am not a secret serial killer or anything.  So I should be good to go with BBBS in a couple of weeks.  Then I just have to wait for a match.  In general, they try to find a match as close to your requirements that is within a 30 minute drive of your house.  Since I had very few requirements, my match specialist thinks I will get matched quickly, so within a month or two after being officially accepted.  I might have a “Little” as early as late September.

My Ideal Match

Since I didn’t care about gender, age, or “little” issues like ADHD, I am pretty open in their books.  My only “requirements” were that I was looking for a kid that wasn’t prejudiced (no racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.) and wasn’t a “girly-girl” since I generally suck at that.  I just recently learned how to put on my own makeup, so giving me a kid that is really into fashion and style would be pretty awful to the kid.  I also mentioned in passing that it would be cool if they liked animals and food since most of my ideal outings would be around animals or food, lol.

I also declined working with severely emotionally challenged kids since this is my first time.  I was fine with kids that have a parent in prison or have suffered abuse of any sort, but I just had to say no to kids that were in juvenile detention at some point themselves or who suffered from extreme emotional disorders.  My match specialist let me know that even with my few restrictions, I didn’t really narrow the field much at all.  So, yay!

On their end, about 70% of their Littles are boys, but only 30% of their Bigs are male.  The age range for Littles that are just being assigned is 7 years to 15 years old.  Female Bigs can be used for all female Littles or even male Littles from 7-11 years old.  But, most of their female Bigs request young, female Littles.  That means that there are a ton of 10+ aged males that end up waiting for a Big for a while.

My Best Guess

Most likely, I’ll be matched with a 10-11 year old boy with ADHD, lol.  That sounds great to me, so fingers crossed!

Oh, and you can keep being a Big Sister to a teenaged male as long as you two were paired up earlier.  That was important to me because I didn’t want to be assigned to an 11 year old boy and then have to say bye when he turned 12.  Apparently, they just want you matched long enough that the boy sees you as a friend or authority figure before his hormones go all wonky.  :-D

Plans

My largest concern now is the waiting time.  So wish me luck for a late-September match!  Also, I’m already excited and making lists of cheap activity ideas…of course, I had a ton of those on BFS to steal ideas from, hahaha.  BBBS requests that you don’t spend a ton of money during your weekly or biweekly visits, so I actually searched around online and found a few awesome ideas.

One Big Sister set a $25 a week budget with her Little, and they save whatever they don’t use each week to place towards more expensive activities in the future.  I’m stealing that one (but will be setting the amount at $20 per week).  Maybe it will even help my Little to learn to budget!  I also looked up a ton of restaurants in my area that have Kids-Eat-Free days so we can stretch the budget even more.

And I started a list of free or discount activities that happen once in a while like Free Tuesday evenings at the zoo after school starts again.  Overall, I am ready to go with a ton of ideas and just need a Little to help brainstorm some more and pick the ones they like too.  :-D

What do you think?  Would you volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters?

I’m Thinking (JUST THINKING) About Having a Kid

Don’t die of shock.  This is not a statement that I am actively trying to get pregnant (I’m NOT).  I am still leaning towards the idea that children are not for me right now, but I have officially gone from “Oh, HELLS NO” to “Ummm.  Maybe?”.

My View of Having Kids

If you have been reading BFS for a while, you may have noticed that I sort of cringe at the idea of having kids.  I’ve named off a bunch of reasons over the years, but here is what it really boils down to:

My shallow reasons…Kids in general are messy, sticky, and go through a ton of bratty stages.  I also think babies are generally really ugly, poop way too much, cry way too much, and would completely screw up my figure more than donuts ever have (yep, good ol’ vanity).  Teenagers are just nuts (I still remember how I acted).    And did I mention how messy kids can be?  I really, really like my brand new, shiny house.  I’m not ready to have crayon on the walls (if I get lucky enough that they don’t use markers) or stains on all of the bedroom carpets.

My deeper reasons…I think that raising children is a huge responsibility that not enough people take seriously.  I would take it very seriously and don’t want to deal with that.  It takes time, patience, energy, and flexibility.  I don’t have all of those traits at the same time…ever.  It also means that the world stops revolving around you (you know what I mean) and it starts revolving around this little life that you are in charge of not screwing up.

My deepest reason…What if my kid wasn’t like us?  My husband and I met in the Honors College dorms on our college campus. We both were academically lazier than we could have been back then, but we have the ability to learn easily.  We both like to learn (different topics interest each of us, but we both like knowledge in general).  I also seem to be able to read people pretty well and socialize.  What if our kid isn’t like that?  What if it is disabled physically or mentally?  How would we be able to handle that without being bitter, awful parents?

Plus, Mr. BFS hasn’t wanted kids either, so it was just a no brainer.

What’s Changed?

So, what’s changed?  Nothing really.  All of my reasons against having kids are still there.  But I’m 30 and want to make sure I look at all of my options before I get to 35.  I was old enough to remember my mom having both of my younger sisters.  The pregnancy seemed pretty normal at age 32 but way harder at 38.  I know that the longer I wait, the harder it will be.  I also know that it is just easier to raise a kid before your age slows you down.

So I have been thinking.  My shallow reasons for having a kid can be handled pretty easily.  Yeah, kids are messy, bratty, etc.  And yeah, I will have a post-pregnancy belly.  But I think that stuff isn’t really all that important in the big scheme of things.

As for my deeper reasons, the older I get, the more I think I could handle taking parenthood seriously and not minding.   I also think I could give up the figurative spotlight and actually enjoy watching a new, little life get way more attention than me.  Plus, I know that my friends, and hopefully all of you, would still talk to me and make me feel special, lol.

And for my deepest reason, I guess everybody worries if their kid will be their own definition of normal.  That really isn’t something that we can control.  If I have a kid that is a lot like us, it would probably be easier.  But if I have a kid that needs more help or has some sort of disability, I guess we could handle that too without being crappy parents.  It would just be harder and probably more expensive.  I’ll just have to hope.

Mr. BFS has also gone from “Oh, HELLS NO” to “Meh”.  So he would most likely swing whatever way I do overall.

In the Meantime

So, there you go.  I am JUST THINKING about having a kid.  I will let you know if I actually make up my mind at any point.  I also know that our decision one way or another won’t mean crap if we just can’t have kids or something like that.  But making up our minds is definitely the first step.  We’ll revisit this on and off over the next few years until we really know what we want to do.

In the meantime, I will hopefully get some more time around children just to help.  I let my friends know that I am up for babysitting overnight again.  I also am attempting to become a Big Sister in the Big Brother Big Sister program.  I started the process a couple of weeks ago.

My interview with a program rep is tomorrow.  I already filled out all of the paperwork, submitted the docs they needed, and completed an online training course (with a perfect 100% on the quiz, thank you very much, LOL).  Even if having kids isn’t for me, I’ve always enjoyed volunteer work and I need to get back into it.  I stopped volunteering with the local hospice when we were moving late last year and have started getting that inner-volunteer push again.

Plus, I may not be perfect, but I think I am a pretty solid role model for kids.  And I do enjoy being around kids as long as they are not screeching or tearing up my house.  :-)  In fact, I have had a great time with kids pretty much every time I have hung out with them outside of my home in the last few years.  I hope the interview goes well and I can get matched to a “Little” soon.  I’ll let you know how this works out.  :-)

So, what is your view on children?  Yay or nay?  Did you always know?  What made or helped you decide?

Babysitting was a Blast!

So not only did I survive babysitting this past weekend, but it was actually a lot of fun!  Here was how it worked out:

The Kids

Just to remind you, I was taking care of three kids:

  • 6 year old girl – I’ll call D
  • 9 year old boy – hereby known as R
  • 11 year old boy – now called G

Hanging Out

They ended up only needing me from 1pm Friday through 10pm on Sunday night.  The original plan had me getting there at 5:45am Friday morning.  This worked well for me since I didn’t have to wake up at 4:30am Friday morning as expected.  :-)

Friday

Friday was the honeymoon period with kids.  First my friend explained the routines including the kids’ medicines and the animals’ feeding habits.  Then they headed off around 2pm and the kids and I figured out what to do.  D, R, and I played a board game right off the back called “Puppyopoly” for about an hour.  This game became a daily habit and I sort became addicted myself.  It’s like what Monopoly really should have been.

While we played, G (who is mildly autistic – like the dictionary version of mild autism, not like a “light” form of autism) kept himself busy by reading Wikipedia articles.

After the board game, D, R, and I watched a movie (“Over the Hedge”).  Then all 4 of us headed outside to the pool for an hour to two hours when the sun wasn’t as bright.  After swimming and playing around, we all changed, and I warmed up some frozen pizza.  We ate, and then G decided it was time to get on the iPad again.  D, R, and I played another round of Puppyopoly.

Then it was 9pm and I asked them to brush their teeth, gave G his night pill, and we headed to bed.  I read a few kid books to D and R.  Overall, I was beyond surprised how easy it was to get them to go to sleep!  I worked until 2am and headed to bed myself.

Saturday

The kids were up and about by 7:30am Saturday morning.  I was zombie-Crystal while I fed them breakfast, fed the cats, filled the dog’s food bowl, chased off the dog from the cats’ food, and gave G his morning meds.

I was then super excited because the kids brought up Saturday morning cartoons, so I got to nap on and off for another 3 hours!  :-)  Yay!  I also read a book for a little while since they were still super happy watching cartoons and G had found the iPad again.

We had lunch around noon, and then the kids still wanted to watch tv and play on hand-held electronics.  I knew they would get a ton of exercise at the 2 hour birthday pool party that I was taking them to at 4pm, so I totally allowed it.  :-)

My friend, Isabelle, actually texted for directions sometime that afternoon and came over right when we were leaving for the pool party a couple of streets away.  She kept me company while we chatted with the other guardians at the party, and we all were going nuts with “head checks” every couple of minutes.  I was counting bobbing kids’ heads in my sleep later on…

Anyway, after the very successful pool party with hotdogs, cake, and icecream that also sent home every kid with a water gun and bright-colored beach towel, we headed home.  Isabelle, R, and I played Puppyopoly again, D watched cartoons and then came out to keep us company, and G went back to the iPad or a hand-held device of some sort.  No one was super hungry for dinner, so we all snacked.

Then around 8:45pm, we did all the night stuff again, I read a couple of books, and they went to bed.  I seriously think that it is just too easy with them…they definitely spoiled me as far as babysitting night-times go.  Isabelle kept me company until 11pm, then she headed out, I finished some work online, and I went to sleep around 1am.

Sunday

The kids woke up around 7:30am again.  I had to fuss at D a little for trying to scream R awake.  She wanted him to make Netflix work for her and was going to get him out of bed hell or high water.  Anyway, after she stopped the don’t-fuss-at-me-crying spiel, I helped her make Netflix work, and R joined her a few minutes later.

Then I did all of the same morning stuff as before including feeding all of the living beings in the house, and read my book while they all did their thing again.  At around noon, we all had hamburgers, and then they wanted to go back to tv and stuff.  At around 1:30pm, I declared that everyone should get unzombified and asked about swimming – that got them moving!

We played in the pool for nearly an hour and a half, and we only had one bad moment when the 6 year old got too playful during water gun wars and threw a gun towards me in the pool that hit my thumb.  I screamed an obscenity accidentally when it happened, and then just told all of them very bluntly to get out while I examined my thumb and calmed down a bit.  Then I went back to the living room, apologized for yelling the obscenity, and explained that it hurts to have stuff hit you.  We all moved on.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with a game called “Headbands”, a game called something about a Circus that I can’t remember, snacks, tv and stuff, D built a fort with the dining room chairs, and then we had dinner.  Hotdogs and Spaghetti-O’s, lol.  I love kids.  We then watched “The Smurfs” and headed to bed again.  Their parents got home when I finished reading a pretty long chapter book for a night-time story, lol.

Headed Home

Overall, I only had to get stern a handful of times all weekend.  Mainly to get D to stop using her mom’s furniture like a play place and G to lower his voice when he was being bossy (which R assured me was just his autism…but I think a lot of big siblings are probably bossy, lol).  In general, the kids actually seemed to listen!  I don’t know why that surprises me, but it did.

I made sure to tell my friends that they can call me anytime that they need an overnight sitter again.  I had a great weekend and got sort of attached to the kids.  Even G seemed to warm up to me by the end and was occasionally answering the first time I asked stuff, which is rare for him.  He even said goodbye without me asking.  And the other two hugged me.  :-)  I hope my friends need a vacation at least a few times a year, lol.

Do you like babysitting?  Were these kids pretty normal or did I just get lucky?  I remember kids being way harder to take care of when I was younger, but my 30 year old self may just be a little more patient than my younger self…