Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday 2011

Our first combined blog post!

Catina: I remember my first Black Friday. I went with my aunt- and grandma-in-law in Louisville. I thought I would browse and see what deals I could find. Amateur! Deals that year: 0

Cassie: With the lessons you learned from that year, and years following, we have gotten BF down to a well organized machine.

Catina: Yes, it is the closest I come to sports. Our record now is pretty good. I don't think we've had any misses! Course, we also have a great team.

Cassie: And like sports, you have to go in with a good game plan. I start trolling online for ads a couple weeks before BF.

Catina: I'm old school. I like to wait for the circulars, then circle in sharpie.

Cassie: The week before, I start gathering gift cards and coupons and make a tentative list. But the real planning starts after Thanksgiving dinner. We sit at the table with a couple of newspapers, scrap paper, sharpies, and pens.

Catina: We organize lists by store, then make a copy for each player.

Cassie: Each list has the store name, items we are looking for with prices, and the time the store opens. I also write the coupons or gift cards I have at the bottom of my lists.

Catina: Generally we put the list on index cards for easy sorting.
Before leaving, we coffee up, bundle up, tie our tennis shoes tight, and pile into a vehicle or two.

Cassie: We also make sure our cell phones are charged and make a quick contact list for whoever is in the group that year for easy communication.

Catina: The plan at each store is: split up,grab what you can off the list, call/text updates,
and meet back at the checkouts where extras are ditched or given to newfound friends.

Cassie: And if we have an extra person, that person typically stands in line with a cart for us to put our deals (b/c BF lines are insanely long at the major stores like Target, Toys R Us, and Kohls.)

Catina: Exactly. Thuis year, we texted ourselves observations so we could share them with you!

Cassie: "Shoulda had drinks before this. Oops."
"5 people in a little Honda. They should have gone to sleep. They don't even know what they are doing. I screamed at them "you suck at Black Friday!" But in my head- I'm not getting shot."
"The pizza delivery guy just walked by. WTH?"

Catina: We were at Toys R Us at that time.My MIL and I had caught up with Cass and Mom, who waved us into line where they were. People behind us looked a bit miffed, but I didn't want any cool stuff, plus, I really wanted to visit, so we chanced it.

Cassie: Yeah, the one chick looked like the type of person that would cut a line cutter, but we made it without any altercation. Probably b/c Catina kept saying loudly "I just want legos this year. No electronics for me."

Catina: Just to be safe, I avoided her when we got inside.
I liked the bouncer at the Toys R Us, too. We could have used him at Target last year, when I had to loudly proclaim so the dushkanu that cut in front of us would hear that if he took the last of what I was there for, he'd be going down. Cass, remember you talked me down from telling the police officers?

Cassie: Yeah, it would have taken too much time and we would have missed the good deals. Like Season1 of Punky Brewster.

Catina: Also while in the Toys R Us line this year, I searched on my SMART phone for the 1600 piece Legos I'd written down as in Walmart, but couldn't find in Walmart. Stupid mobile app couldn't find it OR Colonial Heights. Luckily, I fussed about it on FB enough that a pal shopping in PA picked me up a set. LOVE her!

After that was Kohl's, which was NUTS with the line. A pal offered us 20 bucks to cut when we reached the front of the line, but I'd already tested fate with the possible cutter, so we did not take him up on the offer. If we HAD, though, Cass would have paid for all of her Walgreens purchases with $8 and change to spare.

Cassie's Walgreen Loot: $11.62 total

Cassie: If you didn't know- drug stores are the sleepers of BF. No lines, no crowds, and great deals.

Catina: Cass also uses Rewards coupons there, and makes out like a bandit. I should have visited them before school, when I got ripped off at major stores. Could have gotten a teacher discount there, too. Let's move back to BF; I'm still bitter!

So Target, my MIL got some movies at good prices. I was disappointed at the "Shirt and Beanie" combos for boys--they were all Christmas themed! Sure, $6 apiece is a great deal, but not if he can only wear it for another month. Besides the fact that I have a $5 rule. I buy sizes bigger and limit myself to $5/shirt. That's a general rule, not just BF

Cassie: This is the first year I didn't buy anything at Target. The only thing I wanted was a $4 game- not worth an hour in line. Lines aren't all bad though- they are great for making friends, trading coupons, and trading info on BF deals.

Catina: The line was surprisingly fast. MIL made it out so quickly, I didn't have time to bring up my $4.45 shirt for B!I was done after Target. So done, that I didn't even let Mom buy me a drink from Starbucks. I was ready for sleepy.

Cassie: I kept it going- Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart. (I usually wait till the crazies are out of Walmart to avoid lines and drama, but that means I miss out on some video games and movies. I feel it is a good trade-off).

Then JCPenney for a free snow globe and some boots. Mom and I finished our night at Michaels and JoAnn's for crafts and decorations. I highly recommend making a stop at Michaels, even if you don't need anything, b/c they give out free chocolate if you get there early.

Catina: Wait, FREE Snowglobe? AND free chocolate? Boo!!!!

Cassie: Yup, and the chick at JCP that handed them out started at one door but moved to another while we were shopping. Since she was our reference point for where we parked, we wasted at least 15 minutes looking for our car. I'm wondering if that was her payback to the crazy shoppers for making her get up so early for work.

Catina: Well, that and all the chocolate she could eat.

Cassie: Nope, that was the snowglobe lady. No wonder she was so smiley. She knew what she was doing.

Catina: Gotcha.

Cassie: After over 24 hours being awake, I called it a night and headed home for sleep. Later that day, I added up my deals. I spent a total of 189.54, and got over $400 worth of toys, decorations, stocking stuffers, and... toothpaste.

Catina: Ooh, ooh! Tell, them the rate of spending/hour!

Cassie: I saved an average of $17.99/hour. Totally worth my time.

Catina: She posted that on FB. That's the gifted in her that makes her do that.

Cassie: Not only did I save a bunch and get a ton of shopping done, but the entertainment of BF is priceless. And I don't mean people cutting each other or getting maced. I've never seen that. I'm talking the comraderie of strangers, the laughing, and the thrill of getting all (or almost all) of the stuff on my list.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Chicken-Pop, Alfalfa, and Spanky

Halloween morning, my husband called me down to the playroom to check on Chicken-Pop, our sweet guinea pig. Chicken-Pop wasn’t moving much, or really at all. We tried giving her some lettuce (one of her favorite snacks), but she refused to take a bite. I picked up Chicken-Pop to snuggle with her, and could hear her breathing catch a little with each breath. For the first time ever, Chicken-Pop bit me, which may have been because of the lettuce my husband put on my shoulder, but I’m pretty sure it was because she wasn’t feeling well. Either way, it made me feel even worse for her, because she just wasn’t herself. It wasn't very long before Chicken-Pop passed away, and we were all very sad. Ok, N doesn’t really understand death yet, so he wasn’t so much sad as he was confused about where exactly his beloved guinea pig had gone.

After her passing, my husband was very clear – “No more guinea pigs. Do not bring home anymore animals.” Well, I’m not great at following directions, especially when I’m on cold medicine, so tonight I brought home our newest family members, Spanky and Alfalfa. My husband is a great sport, and helped me carry our new additions in. He didn’t even fuss at me once (although I’m pretty sure I caught him shaking his head).

Oh, and I am pretty sure the names will be changing. Not that I don’t like the Little Rascals, but I think it is weird for my kids to call anything Spanky. Also, I think guinea pigs eat alfalfa hay, so naming one Alfalfa is the equivalent of naming your kid Hamburger or Pop-tart. Weird, right? Yeah, I think so too.