The boys' health seems to be finally improving, which is just as well as we have both their birthdays coming up in the next month. There's another challenge - me not going overboard on birthdays for a change. Last year was the boys' best birthdays ever - but for their parents it was a financial disaster. We held two parties at home, three weeks apart. The guest tally on the day ended up being 22 children for one party and 28 for the other, as most of the guests' younger siblings ended up 'gatecrashing'. I almost fainted when I realised the first party cost around $300 - and then I had to do it all again! Everyone had a wonderful time, but for the hostess it was an unforgettable lesson on how NOT to do things in the future. This year, no parties, we are going on a family trip to Underwater World for Ali the fish fanatic (two of us get in free, thanks to the coupons on the back of our supermarket dockets) and for $35 we get to hire the local indoor swimming pool with it's inflatable assault course for Liam and his boisterous rugby mates' private use. Much more like it!
Over the years I have learned to shop smart for the boys. I make good use of eBay and Trade Me for things like Nintendo and Playstation games and latest fads and have never had a bad trade yet. Places like these are a great place to trade in old toys that are grown out of or no longer played with, so we trade in our old toys and use the money for new ones at a cheaper price. Most of the kids' presents actually come from America, people are amazed when I tell them, but I found a really good website several years ago when I couldn't find what I wanted, and have used them with confidence ever since. It's called 'Toywiz' (www.toywiz.com) and I have found them to be excellent in every way, especially the savings, even with overseas postage! One such example was yesterday - I did my research, shopped around and found the best price locally on a new release Gameboy game, which was $79.99. Later I hopped on the Internet, and found the same game on Toywiz for $43 including postage! Of course the prices are all in US dollars, so I use an online currency converter to make sure I'm getting a good deal (http://www.x-rates.com/calculator.html) and you have to take postage into account to make sure it doesn't cost more to send than your purchase! Apart from getting great prices on all the most popular toys, it's a great place to find really different toys that are just not available here. Shipping usually takes around 14 days, which means I have to be organised when shopping. It means I can keep track of my spending, I know exactly how many gifts each child has, I can think carefully before purchasing anything which saves me going overboard and I don't need to visit any other shops, which puts a stop to any potential impulse buys. Works for me anyway!