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Just Say Cheese!

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How do you get 5 kids to cooperate and smile for pictures? Simply put, you don’t but you can try and try we did!

Living on one and a half income (Chris is working part time now) we can’t afford professional pictures, nor could we really when we were a 2 income family, so we usually take our own. But we came across a Groupon deal for Picture People and since we have used them in the past with success, we thought why not.  It was $16 for an in-studio photo shoot and eight portrait sheets containing 1 10″x13″ print, 1 8″x10″ print, 4 5″x7″ prints, 10 4″x6″ prints, and 16 wallet prints. Groupon still has the deal, just click on the picture to be taken to the Groupon deal:

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Click on picture for Picture People Groupon deal!

Our thinking was even if we get just one good picture out of it, then it would be worth it. 🙂 We knew going into it this would be challenging, we were trying to get 5 kids to sit still for pictures after all. And our littlest nephew, Grayson, is a little temperamental – he has great days and not so great days. So we were really hoping for a great day when we scheduled the pictures. And….he had an ehhh..day, not his worst but definitely not his best. The other 4 kiddos surprisingly did well, we had a few meltdown moments with the 2 year old and a lot of “Mom, when will be done” moments from the older crew but they all toughed through it and we were able to get some decent pictures out of it.

Overall review of the Picture People: 3 out of 5 stars.  The main reason for the mediocre score was because we got snubbed by two of the professionals because of our large party size. We got there at our appointment time but were not seen until after a 35 minute wait. During that time, two of the professionals were chatting about which group to take next, ours or the family that came in 15 minutes after us. One of the ladies said, “oh no, I do not want the big group with all the kids.” Oh snap! So of course, I politely said with a smile, “Oh ya’ll don’t want to take our pictures because of our large group.” Both of the ladies looked like deer in headlights and tried to cover it up saying we had to wait for a larger room. Which was a lie and I know it because the room they used for the family they took before us (who had an appointment after us and came in 15 after we did) was the same room we did our large group photos in. In the end though, I am glad we got the professional the other two ladies dumped us on because she worked it. She never complained about Grayson’s non-complaint attitude or the fact we had such a large party. She also was able to get some pictures that were worth keeping in between his melt-downs. I think we were with her for an hour and a half and by the end everyone was sweating and exhausted. I do believe if we would have had the other two professionals, it would be a 1 out 5 star review.

With the Groupon purchase, Picture People offers a special Groupon deal for the high resolution CD containing session images and also a frame deal. If you purchase both the CD and a frame with the images it is only an additional $100 and each frame after is only $50.  That is what we opted to do, so we could have all the images from the session and also a framed pic ready for the wall. Even with the additional $100, the total cost was $116 plus taxes. This is still incredibly cheaper than the one time we hired a professional to do outdoor pictures of our family, that did not include a session CD or a framed picture only printed pictures.  The downfall, Picture People is in a studio and you have limited options and no outdoor pics. But truth – the outdoor pictures we had done by a professional and paid out the wazoo for were not as good as the Picture People or pictures we have taken ourselves outdoors.

Will we use Picture People again? Most likely, but only with a Groupon deal. Next time though, we will get the first appointment of the day and take lots and lots of snacks and toys for ornery well-behaved children.

So would you like to see what made us feel like we ran a marathon?

Drumroll please….

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The best group picture of all 5 kiddos.

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See they do love each other!

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D & G

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Mr. Hayden

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Mr. Ty

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Miss Lydia

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Mr. Douglas

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Mr. Grayson – scratches and all.

And somehow we even managed to change all the kids and get pics done to represent our favorite football team!

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Go Dawgs!

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So all in all it was worth the 3 hours we spent there, the very, rude employees, the meltdowns and drama of trying to get 5 kids to cooperate. In the end – we are pleased and we have pics to prove it! 🙂

Things our family skips to save a little dough

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Things our family skips to save a little dough

And we all can learn ways to save a little dough. What works for our family may not work for yours but just might lead you to think of things you can start skipping. We read Young House Love’s Skip It post and some things that work for them (like giving up fabric softener, no thanks) are not things that would work for us but made us realize that our family has it’s own skip it list. 🙂

  1. Cable/Dish – We gave this up several years ago and never looked back. It was the smartest skip it decision that we have made. We subscribe to Hulu and Netflix, each $7.99 a month for a total of $16 versus $60 – $70 a month for dish/cable. Very wise decision. index
  2. Dry Cleaning. Wash, dry, wear – that is our philosophy. No dry cleaning bills for these fam!
  3. $7.50 – $12.00/per person movie ticket – We’ll pass thank you. We will take the kiddos to the $2.50 movie theater on occasion but our whole family can do that for the price of one ticket at the big movie theater. We like our money way too much to hand over $60 for our family of 5 to see a movie. Especially if we wait a few months we can see it for a 1/4 of that price. There are rare occasions where we will splurge but it is so rare I can’t even tell you the last time we did it.
  4. Paying full price. This is an obvious one if you know us but we had to put it in the list. We use coupons, sales, thrift stores, consignment sales, basically anyway to avoid paying full price we do it. This also includes eating at restaurants and entertainment.  We use coupons and/or special deals to save money whenever we can. Last summer we went to Six Flags for less than $50 for our family of 5. Amaze-balls I tell you! 🙂

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    Cornerstone Consignment Sale is where we find great name-brand clothes for our kids for super cheap. It starts this Thursday! Click picture for more details.

  5. Car Repair Shops. This one is hard to avoid unless you have a handy dandy person in your family like we do. Chris does all of our car repairs which saves us a ton!
  6. Gym Memberships. We have tried before when they were offering major promos but we just can’t fork over that kind of money each month. We use videos, walking around our neighborhood and chasing after our kids for exercise.
  7. Manis/pedis. Unless we are going somewhere fancy schmancy the girls in the family do their own nails.
  8. Haircuts. Well, we don’t actually skip haircuts but we do save a ton of money on them. Chris does his own hair and most of the time the boys. Melissa gets about one haircut a year and Lydia about the same. Lydia’s latest haircut cost a whole $10 and it was the best haircut she has ever gotten!

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    Lydia’s $10 haircut!

  9. Excessive driving. We always try to maximize our adventures into town and not make multiple trips. If we have an hour or two wait in between activities then we head to the library instead of driving all the way back home.
  10. Pet Grooming. Chris has become a pro at grooming our long-haired Chihuahua, Abby.  No paying someone else what we can do for free!

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    Ty and Abby

  11. Family Pictures. We have in the past paid someone to take photos for us but we have gotten pretty good at taking our own now.

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    Our Christmas photo taken by….us! 🙂

  12. A cup of Joe. No $5 latte’s for us.
  13. Newspaper/Magazine subscriptions – thanks to the internet we can find all we need to know online.
  14. Expensive Vacations. We love traveling and visiting new places but we aren’t going to do it unless it fits our budget. Thanks to Groupon, Half Off Depot, Living Social, multifamily vacations and camping we can still enjoy vacations without breaking the bank or maxing out a credit card.
  15. Fresh Flowers. Don’t get us wrong we love to look at them and will cut our own flowers to make an arrangement but we never spend money them. We have been married 11 years and can count on one hand how many times we have had store/flower shop flowers in our house. That $50 can be used elsewhere. 🙂

So there you go, that’s our skip it list. If we thought about it we could probably come up with at least 10 more but these are the biggies.

So what is on your family’s skip it list?