Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Canadian Money Saving Tip

I thought I'd share a little money saving tip that many Canadians don't know about.

It is called the Canadian Scanner Price Volunteer Code.  I do believe it is voluntary for companies - but almost all the stores I shop at follow the code.  (The company does this on a national basis, not just each store.)

So what is this Code?   Basically - it is that if a product is scanned, and the price that comes up doesn't match the price on the price tag / store shelf price... you get the first one FREE!  Well, Free if it is less than $10 - or you get $10 off if it is more than $10.  If you were buying more than one, the rest are the correct price.   There is one little hitch - (I'm not sure if this is written in the code) - you have to tell the cashier.  (Occasionally you need to get them to call a manager - I have had cashiers that have never heard about it.)

So - for example - if you are buying an item that is $6.95 according to the shelf - but it scans at $6.97 - don't just shrug and say to yourself  "I won't worry about a couple of cents" - because if you bring it up, and say you are now supposed to get it free - you will get it free!  There is almost $7 savings!

Ok - it isn't a savings you can count on - but it is surprising (or maybe it isn't?) how often you find things that scan wrong if you either watch as it scans, or check the receipt right away.   Over the few years I've known about it, I'm sure I've saved at least $100!

Some examples I can think of.....
- A bag of Pears was supposed to be about $6 but scanned in around $8 - that was $6 saved (or $8 if we hadn't checked!)

- A block of cheese (about $9)

- A shirt ($10 off - it was supposed to be $14 and came up as $16)

- Lego ($7 small little kit)

- many, many items of food at around $1-$5 each.

Usually there is a posting somewhere near the cash register about the Scanning Code of Practice - (the picture above).  I think they need to have it, but I can't say I've always spotted it.   It can be handy to spot them in case you are talking to a cashier that is unaware of it.

Note that most of the stores will immediately fix the shelf price if you report a mis-scanned price.  I think they are supposed to.  I have had it once when I KNEW the price on the shelf was one amount, and the product scanned at another price - but the sale tag was gone as I went through the cash register.  Someone else had reported it just before me (verified by having them check the book they have to fill in.....) so they still gave me the one free.  That is pretty rare though.

So - which stores.

Well, I think pretty much every grocery store follows this code.  (All the ones I shop at have.)
Shoppers Drug Mart
Canadian Tire
Toys - R - Us
Home Depot

And I'm sure MANY more.

So - next time that price doesn't seem to match what the shelf or tags say..... don't shrug it off.  And don't just take the accepted price.  Get $10 off or the item free (as appropriate) - it is worth it.

That said - there has been the occasional time, when the item was only about $1 or so when I haven't bothered..... there has been the occasional time when the lineup is just too long behind me for me to make everyone "suffer" for me to save that loonie.  I haven't done that often - but occasionally....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Working for us Thursday - (or is it Wednesday?)

So - What is working for us right now - is Sassmannshaus Violin!  Of course, we just started this week - so it might be short term - but I'm hoping it will last long-term.

Those of you that know me as "SuzukiMom" are probably confused.  Yes, we did Suzuki Violin.  We did Suzuki Violin for a number of years.  But - that ended about a year and a half ago.  I tried continuing Suzuki violin with them without a teacher for a while - but ended up giving the kids a long break - almost a year long.

This spring, it was "time" for us to do more violin.  It wasn't an external time - it just felt like time.  Delta and Echo would practice obediently - but I knew, and they knew, that they had forgotten songs - it was very much backwards progress - even though Delta was conquering some bad habits.  It was disheartening for them, and for me.  Foxtrot was happy to do violin... but it just wasn't working.

We did have a surge of practice when I was able to get a used copy of Lego Rock Band for our Wii (and free "instruments" from Freecycle!).  I was telling people how much Lego Rock Band was improving their Violin.   In case you are wondering (like the people I told) how it would help their violin - easy.  They weren't allowed to play it unless they had practiced that day!  (If they have time to practice fake instruments they have time to practice real ones!)

This all screamed to a halt when I got sick this summer.  I haven't had the energy to require violin at all...  but those violins were sitting in the living area making me feel - guilty.  And I was discouraged at the thought of trying to work through Suzuki - knowing where we had been, where we would be restarting - I just couldn't.  I was ready to sell the violins.

But I love the violin, and the kids all have at some point or another.  The violin is very musical.  It is portable.  A great Solo instrument, also great for Duet's, Trio's, Quartets.  You can play Classical, Fiddle, Country, Folk, and even Rock music on it.   It is also one of the few instruments that can be played in Sacrament Meeting at church.  

I talked to Mike about it, and he said that we shouldn't quit - but should look at other resources... and that anything we did is better than doing nothing.  So I started looking.  One thing I wanted to check out was Sassmannshaus - as I had noticed it about 3 or 4 years ago at the Music Store.

With a lot of looking, I discovered that there is a related website, that has video's of various violin techniques that will be helpful  (and of course there are always other You-Tube videos out there - you just never know how experienced the "teacher" is on those...).  I liked the pages I could see (I did a bunch of searching on Google) - and I liked the switch of pace!

This series is designed for the young beginner.  Foxtrot is the perfect age.  It has note reading right from the start, and has many tunes that the young student will recognize... things like "Rain, Rain - Go Away", or "Hot Cross Buns".  The book has engaging pictures, and large music.

I started by giving Foxtrot a lesson on Monday.  She has continually been eager to do violin.  I showed her the book, showed her a few of the songs, and explained that she was going to learn to read music.  I gave her the short course, so to speak - and we started with the first couple of "Open String" songs.  She has already been doing Pre-Twinkle songs with Suzuki, so she already knows how to hold the violin and bow and play on the strings.   Boy was she delighted when I turned the page to the D String song.... she had never gotten to play on D String before!  And then the G String.... pure delight!

On Tuesday she was eager to practice first thing in the morning, and again today (Wednesday).  She was even upset because Echo had started to practice before her!  (I need to watch Foxtrot practice - but Echo can practice on her own.)


Tuesday had ended up being a hard school day - and I had given up on the idea of starting Echo on the violin that day... but near bedtime Echo asked if she could have her lesson.  I'm sure a part of it was to delay bed... but I decided to go for it.  Echo was also happy - as she was going to learn how to read music.  She hadn't learned at all officially in Suzuki, and had done just a very basic amount with me at home over a year ago.  A part of that may be from her wanting her Musician Badge in Cubs, which requires knowing the basics of reading music.  She also got an introduction to the Metronome to help her keep time... it is hard not to rush those half notes!

Today (Wednesday) she got out everything and started practicing on her own!


So Today (Wednesday) I did a lesson with Delta.  He had listened to all the theory stuff with Echo - and of course this is all very basic review for him.  He did learn to read music with his Suzuki teacher - although I don't think he was reading as well as she was thinking he was.... and of course these open string songs are nothing compared to the Minuets, or Happy Farmer, or the other songs he had been playing in Suzuki.  But - look at that straight left wrist!   I hope his confidence will go up.  I expect he will move very quickly through this first book.  If I'm not mistaken, the second book will have techniques new to him (and therefore me!)  There were no complaints.   I'll see if he practices on his own tomorrow or not.

This is a total change in teaching methodology - but we needed a change.  The program is supposed to be done with a teacher, but the videos on methods should help.  I wish I could find a bit more guidance though.  The book suggests a single finger tape (for the 2 finger) - our Suzuki teacher had 3 or 4 - depending on the number of fingers being used.  I'm not sure when some skills are introduced (and whether or not the book will say, or if it would be up to the teacher)  I don't know of any groups or forums to discuss the program.

That said - Right now, we are looking good, and I'm thrilled!

Still Working For Us

- SkedTracker - working great!
- Cubs/Beavers

Not Working For Us Anymore

- Children's Miracle Music - well, I just use this now and then anyway.... it works as a once-in-a-while item.

It is bedtime and Echo is doing another practice.  Foxtrot wants to do another one, but I'm too tired.  (Ok, bad mom.... who tells a kid that they can't practice the violin anyway?)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Working for us Thursday - or is it Friday? Week in Review Too!

Ok - I'm late.  It has been a busy week, and I just am getting around to this entry.

So - what has been working for us?  Well, for quite a while, what has been working for us is CUBS and BEAVERS!

For those that might be confused - I'm not talking about animals.... I'm talking about Scouting.  And yes, in Canada - Scouting is Co-Ed!  This has worked out well, as Cubs and Beavers for our group meet at the same time, at the same place - so Delta, Echo, and Foxtrot are all at meetings at the same time.  Golf "hangs out" with Mike - we say she is in "Wanna-Bee's" because she "wants to be" a Beaver.  The more used term for this stage is being a "Bit" - a "Beaver in Training"....   And I'm not sure if I've mentioned it - but I'm a Cub leader (again!) with the group now too.

Back Row - Snowbird Technician;
Middle Row - Echo, Delta;
Front Row - Foxtrot, Golf
Delta is in his last year of Cubs.  He has earned so many badges, his arms are getting full.  I think the count is at about 42 - including Stars and Awards.  He only has a few Awards left to earn - and a few more badges on top of that.  He has also attended a Scout Activity and a Scout Camp, and will be invited to a few more Scout activities as the year goes on.  I suspect he will "Leap" up to Scouts in about April.

Echo is in her first year of Cubs, having completed 2 years of Beavers.  She is also enjoying the program, and has already earned 10 badges and 1 star.  She keeps eyeing Delta's badge chart as well as her own, deciding on what to work on next.

Foxtrot is in her first year of Beavers - being thrilled to no longer by a "Wanna-Bee".  She is enjoying fun activities, including making a Terrarium yesterday.

Me as a parent (in the red leader uniform) putting the neckerchief on Foxtrot at her Investiture as a Beaver

I suspect that Scouting will generally work for us - but will say up-front that it depends so much on the group.  Our first group was a big disappointment for us, and we had to switch the group.  But in a city there are usually a choice of groups.   If there isn't something that will work - there is also the possibility of doing things as a Lone.  It takes more motivation, but is definitely possible.

Just a few more points in the week -

  • Monday we went to the Remembrance Day Ceremonies. 
  • Tuesday was a regular school day - with the bonus of having the car.... so we used some audiobooks.  We didn't go anywhere too interesting though.
  • Wednesday - Mike wasn't feeling well so he worked from home.  We didn't do regular school - but we went swimming in the afternoon to allow a quiet house for Mike.
  • Thursday - Another regular schoolday - and of course, Cubs and Beavers!
  • Friday - Echo and Delta are off to cub camp this evening.   We had our regular Friday - which I'll save for another blog.

Monday, November 11, 2013


We Shall Remember Them

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What's Working for us Thursday

Last week, a friend at "Our Busy Homeschool"    put out a challenge to blog each Thursday about something that is "working" for our family right at the moment.  It might not work in a day, or a week - or it might work long-term... who knows.  But for right now - it works.

Well, this week I'm going to share something that is "Sort-of" working - but not quite.  But it is working better than nothing.  And to be fair - I'm not doing the whole thing.

Years ago, I tried a program with Delta to get the Morning and Bedtime Routine going a little bit better.  It encourages the children to do each routine faster than the music provided.  If they beat the music, they got a point.  Points would add up for a "Date" with a parent.  I think if they got all the points for the day (or part of day?) they also got a Star.  It is called "Children's Miracle Music".

Well, I don't have the poster anymore, and I'm not sure where the CD's are - although I have a copy of "most" of the tracks as MP3's on the computer.  The "add up your points" songs are missing, and "Brush your Teeth" is missing in the morning - I think when I made the MP3's years ago, the filename was the same so I only have one.  At the moment I'm not tracking points or giving out stars....

I remember way back we stopped using it because Delta would dance to the music if he was done before the time was up.... but that quickly turned into dancing through the music instead of doing what he was supposed to.

Over the last couple of years I've tried a couple of programs to make various times easier - Accountable Kids, Chore Packs, and a couple of others.  They seem to work for a few days - maybe a week or two - and then it doesn't seem to work.  I'm sure it is my lack of consistancy with it all.... cards get lost, and everything seems to start being a hassle.

But recently I felt like I was spending all my time giving commands.  So one day, I threw the morning routine on.  And you know - it was better.  Not totally - but the kids are generally hustling to do the items.

A few drawbacks.... it is a set routine - no customization.  Also, I have 4 kids.... and sometimes they CAN'T do the same thing at the same time.  Definitely not helpful for things like "Use the Bathroom" (4 kids can't use 1 bathroom at the same time!)  So I do have to over-ride some of the directions so it works out better.  Another example is "Do Your Hair" - except I have to help each of the 3 girls do their hair.... so again, I have to modify the directions.   And of course, there is a set amount of time for each item - designed to be fair - but sometimes it doesn't work out.  For example "Make Your Bed" has plenty of time to make a basic bed - but if the sheet has come off, it takes my kids more time.

But, as I said - my kids are responding well to it - even without the "points".  (I could see "points" helping in the longer term)  I'm tempted to make my own version - recording the instructions with specific instructions for each child for the songs....  but then it sounds like a lot of work when I'm not sure how long it would work....

And as I'm typing this - I'm dreaming of Accountable Kids working like I wish it would....  Sigh

Also, just a note - the SkedTracker program is still working well for getting our Homeschooling working well.

P.S. - I know today isn't Thursday - I wanted the post ready to link it up tomorrow morning!