I'm Here, But I'm Not *Here* (picture it in italics)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Hello! You're still here? Awesome. Thanks for sticking around! This week has been Cuh-Razy! I am a perfect example of be careful what you wish for. I am in the weeds. I'm treading water and barely keeping my head above the surface, but it's been stimulating, exciting, challenging and fun. I hope it's a sign of good things to come. Bullet points of my week (sorry, I know that's so lazy):
*Met with an event planner I know from my book club. She actually asked for my advice on marketing, PR and social media (sucker!). We talked for several hours and I think I gave her a lot of ideas on things she can do going forward.

*Met with my friend's boss about her medical spa and also talked marketing etc. and created a flyer for them for a Spa Week they're having soon.

*Started on our homework from the financial advisor who's helping us for the magazine article. We each pulled our credit scores from one of the three agencies. Hello 880! Pam gave us a lot of good advice and we're hoping she's right about several things that can lower monthly payments and allow us to funnel money toward debt management and savings.

I am hoping to get back on track and resume regular blogging next week. I'm contemplating sneaking out of the house one day this weekend with Phil's* laptop and squirreling away somewhere with free WiFi so that I can get caught up on all the things I owe people.

What's been going on with you? Miss you guys! Have a great weekend.
*Yep, that's his real name. He gave the OK. Photo from Google Images.

Gift Card Winner

Monday, February 23, 2009

*Sorry guys! I didn't realize I had the video marked private! It's open now.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the support during the voting period. Seeing the tweets and posts made me feel all warm and tingly.

I couldn't use the random number generator site the way I normally do. A few people didn't leave separate comments and one person didn't want to enter but was showin' the love. I wrote the 35 entries on slips of paper and had Drama Kid help me choose the winner.

When I was watching the video for the first time, I laughed so hard I spit (see if you can guess why). And the winner is...

Did you hear it? That *thud* was the bowl landing on the floor. When I accidentally let it go I thought, "oh shit! I hope it doesn't land on his head, his eyes are closed!" I was hoping it wouldn't be very loud. Oh well. And yes, my Valentine's Day decorations are still up. Congratulations Carolyn*! Still waiting on the BlogHer contest results unless I'm a total dummy and haven't seen anything posted online. Stay tuned!

*You have until Wednesday to claim or I'll have to choose another winner.

Chicago Ink- Maybe

Friday, February 20, 2009

My girl crush Mr. Lady posted yesterday that a tattoo shop in Chicago is prepared to offer BlogHer attendees a discount and possibly a free drink or dinner during the conference weekend. I'm taking this as a sign. I've wanted to get a tattoo for awhile and I'm a finalist for a trip to Chicago! But... A few things are standing in my way.

I hate needles. Loathe needles. Abhor needles. Prolonged exposure to needles is my version of hell. Mr. Lady did volunteer to hold my hand, which would definitely help. Also, there's my scar to consider. I'm not sure I want to pay for a tattoo just to have it scar over. Speaking of paying for one, I don't exactly have a tattoo fund and saving for one is not the highest of priorities. And I have no idea what to get or where to put it. Details.

I've been thinking I should get something representative of the number three. We are going to be a family of three and three is a magic number (Schoolhouse Rock. Please tell me you remember?!). Since we're going to be a family of three (not ready to discuss, please don't ask) I think a permanent symbol of the power of three is fitting, no?

I've been looking online at different meanings, religious beliefs and cultural ideas about the number three and have liked a few:

*Three is the strong number in Taoist symbolism because it is the center point of equilibrium.

*Japanese: The Three Treasures are, Mirror, Sword and Jewel--that being Truth, Courage and Compassion.

*Africa Ashanti: the moon goddess is three people, two black, and one white. (I can fudge a little here I guess)

*Pythagorean three means completion. (Really like this, but not sure I want the symbol for Pi as a Tramp Stamp)

*The symbol of three is the triangle. Three interwoven circles or triangles can represent the indissoluble unity of the three persons of the trinity.

*Three is a moving forward of energy, overcoming duality, expression, manifestation and synthesis.

*Three is the first number to which the meaning "all" was given. It is The Triad, being the number of the whole as it contains the beginning, a middle and an end.

It seems that three is the way to go but I have no idea how to put those ideas into a piece of art. Do you have any ink? Did you have your tattoo drawn up by someone? If you have any ideas or suggestions for me I'm all ears!

Picture from here (man, I wish I could Photoshop like that!)

Works for Me Wednesday: Frugal Valentine's Day 2010

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I got the idea to post this tip from one of the comments on my Valentine's Day picture. Stephanie thought they were all my Valentine's Day gift. Only one of the boxes (the big one with the ribbon center) was a gift. Hubs gave it to me last year. I got the others during my time as a Godiva employee.

Aside: Yes, I loved being around chocolate all day, no, I didn't get tired of chocolate and yes, we
had to eat it all the time. I know, tough life, right?

We got a killer discount even on sale merchandise so I started collecting them to use as part of my decorating. Most people don't know that you don't have to fill the heart with Godiva pieces. You can purchase just the empty heart box and it becomes a neat keepsake.

I wanted to make sure I got one of this year's designs because i
t's really pretty. I bought an empty heart then filled it with the hubs' favorite candies. I did the same thing last year. It might become a tradition. He doesn't like "fouffy" candy and most of what I buy comes from the dollar store and See's. (shhhh, don't tell Godiva)
Buying an empty heart is significantly less expensive than buying a pre-filled one, but those tend to go really fast since most people prefer to customize their gifts over buying the pre-filled hearts. We had so many customers bring in their empty hearts year after year to be filled. It was awesome to see some of the designs from years ago. 

Another option is to take a chance and wait until the day after Valentine's Day. If there are any pre-filled heart boxes left in the stores they'll be half off (and since Godiva is now $40 a pound that's an excellent deal!). You'll have the keepsake heart and the chocolates. Bonus!

But, unless the economy is hurting sales, people will be lined up waiting outside the store the day after a holiday to snatch up anything left over. The day after Valentine's Day is the the most popular time to hit the store (at least that was my experience years ago). The hearts are shipped to the store in their own cardboard box so make sure to ask the staff if they have any left over. They're perfect for storage.

Do you have any Valentine's Day traditions?

Wordless Wednesday: Doing My Part, Stimulting the Economy the Green Way

For more Wordless Wednesday visit 5 Minutes for Mom, Mom Dot, What's That Smell


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Hi! I hope everyone had a nice long weekend. I was totally lazy and didn't prepare a post for today. But I do have an announcement, a reminder and a question:

First, I won the Bid My Cleaning contest! Yipee! I was literally speechless when I saw the Tweet from Candice. All I could do was look at my husband and point to the laptop monitor. I can't wait for my first visit. I finally get to say, "I have to go clean before the cleaning person comes!"

Second, if you haven't voted in the Mabel's Labels contest, please vote and spread the word. If you do, don't forget to leave a comment on my Thank You contest page for the $75 in gift cards.

Last, I need a little advice. I have to write my first book review and want to know what you like to read in a review? Do you prefer a thorough review with character and plot analysis? Editorializing on why or why not the reviewer liked the book? Or something simple with author information and what the book is about? A combination of those?

The Latest Barbie Doll- Barbie Turns 50

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My collection of velvet hearts from Godiva

Luck Be A Lady Tonight

Friday, February 13, 2009

I'm buying a lottery ticket tonight. I've had such good luck recently I'd be a fool not to.

A few weeks ago I won this leather case for my iPod Touch from Live SpeakR (video review coming soon).

I won a box of Little Debbie 100 calorie snacks from Melanie at Don't Try This at Home (can't wait for it to get here!).

I won this box of Lake Champlain chocolates from Spatulas, Corkscrews and Suitcases. (Today's recipe is for mini Red Velvet cakes, so cute!)

I got this all in one at the Kodak event I went to earlier this week.

Drama Dad and I are being interviewed by a national magazine and might be featured in the May issue! I don't know if I'm allowed to say yet but it's a magazine I read and I'm so stoked about the opportunity!

And on Wednesday I found out I'm one of 10 finalists in the Mabel's Labels BlogHer 2009 sponsorship! I'm overwhelmed and so happy Mabel's feels I'm worthy of the chance to go to BlogHer on their behalf. Read my submission here.

The winner of the Mabel's Labels contest is determined by votes. I'm having a contest to say thank you to everyone who votes for me. I have gift cards from the holidays that I've been hanging on to and I'm glad I did because now I can pay it forward.

None of this would have happened if it weren't for this blog. I'm so blessed and thankful. Having you all here
makes me want this space to be the best it can. For that, I want to pass a little of my luck on to you.

I have for one winner a $75 prize package:
(2) $25 gift cards to Restaurant.com (they're in my email)

(1) $5 Starbucks card

(1) $10 Target card

(1) $10 Barnes and Noble card

There will be three opportunities to win*:

1. Vote for me and leave a comment here that you've done so.

2. Send out a Tweet and leave the URL here. (optional, you need a Twitter account)

URL for this post: http://tiny.cc/T1WAE
URL to Mabel's Label's voting page: http://tiny.cc/b4HNU

3. Post the button below on your site (optional, voting ends 2/23 so it
won't need to be up very long)

*ETA 2/22: This contest and the voting are closed. I'll be choosing the winner after verifying the entries. Thank you!

That's it! Thanks so much for coming to this blog and being so supportive. It means the world to me to have made so many friends. There are literally thousands (if not millions!) of places you can spend your time online and the fact that you choose to come here is flattering and humbling. Thank you!

Congratulations to all the finalists. I'm honored to be in your company!

*The rules: Leave a comment for each of the items you decide to do. I'll draw a winner at random after the voting ends on 2/23. The winner will be notified here and via email and will have 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Likewise if the chosen winner is verified to have not fulfilled the requirements (not posting the button or Tweeting as stated) they will be disqualified and new winner chosen. You do not have to follow my blog to enter. PLEASE make sure there is a way to contact you in your entry! If I can't, find you I will have to pull a new winner. Please follow the Mabel's Labels voting rules! This is a pretty big prize (IMHO) and I want to be fair to everyone. I owe a huge thank you to Melanie for helping me with the button code! FYI- None of these people asked me to link to them. Good luck everyone!

Kodak Kiosk Expo Mom Blogger Event

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I had such a nice time at this event! I got to see Tanyetta again, meet new people and print lots of photos. I made a quick video about the event. You'll see some of the things I made.

I'm still drooling over Marcy's photo book! Read other event recaps here:
Marcy from The Glamorous Life Association
Tanyetta from Days Like These
Stephanie from Bizzie Mommy
Heather from The Sphors Are Multiplying (she's giving away the Kodak printer and camera she won at the event, just donate to March of Dimes to enter!)

If you'd like to try the photo scanning service, I got a Tweet earlier that Mitch will scan 1,000 photos for just the cost of shipping!

Thank you again to Kodak for the invitation. I can't wait to hang and frame my posters!

Why I Need to be Freed From Housecleaning, by Mel

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A whole year of housecleaning would be great for my mental health and my marriage. I might even go so far as to say it would be life changing. For the past several days I’ve been cleaning and straightening, cleaning and straightening. And I’m over it.

Cleaning is a catch-22 for me because I’m anal and I LOVE a nice clean house, but I don’t like to clean. When the house is clean I can relax. Clutter makes me jittery, anxious and distracted. Even if I’m reading or watching TV, if the house isn’t clean I’m not completely relaxed because my sitting down is time I’m not spending cleaning. And then I feel guilty so I straighten. Then I get angry because cleaning is kind of a time waster.

When I think of all the hours I’ve spent scrubbing, dusting, wiping, sweeping and vacuuming I get sad for the time I’ve lost. Those are hours I’ll never get back and I could have enjoyed them so much more! I could have relaxed with my family. I could have read all the books in my ‘to be read’ pile (which, at last count, has ??? titles). I could have watched more academy award nominees. I could have started my scrapbook (well, maybe not that). Point being I’ve spent hours maybe even days or weeks! doing something that makes me feel anxious, jittery, distracted, guilty, sad and angry.

Tonight I asked my husband if he would make a video explaining why he thought I deserved to win a year of housekeeping services from BidMyCleaning.com. I thought it would be nice to turn the blog over to him for a change.

His response? “Sure, just tell me what to say.”

I tried again. “Just talk about what you think winning would mean to me.”

“My brain doesn’t work that way. I need a script. Have Drama Kid do it.”

Oh, hell, forget it. I’ll do it myself.

That anecdote perfectly sums up why I need this. Because it seems that most days, if something needs cleaning I do it myself. That’s not to say my two boys aren’t helpful. They are. But if someone were to ask all the members of my household “who here has ever scrubbed the toilets?” I feel confident I’d be the only one raising my hand. Cleaning just isn’t that important to them. But it is to me so I take on the bulk of it. And back comes the anger and sadness but this time there’s a little bitterness and bitchy mixed in.

So let’s recap: angry, sad, jittery, anxious, distracted, guilty, bitchy and bitter. That’s one hell of an emotional roller coaster. I love roller coasters but this one has me tired and I’m ready to get off. I’ll still clean because hi, nice to meet you, I’m anal. But knowing that once a month someone will be coming to help me would take such a weight off. I could legitimately relax. And a relaxed mommy is a happy mommy. A relaxed wife is more likely to put out (Shut up. You know it’s true).

I need this. My family needs this. Free me from housecleaning. Please.

You can enter too. Rules and info here. (photo from here)

Random Thought (Warning, A Little Gross)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When you squeeze a pimple and it explodes, have you ever wondered how fast the white stuff is traveling when it hits the mirror or is it just me?

Mabel's Labels BlogHer 2009 Contest

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I've made some really good friends through blogging, both online and live and in color. Saturday night I went out for dinner and coffee with Deb from SanDiegoMomma. It was a lovely evening. We talked for hours about almost everything. We're alot alike. And apparently so are our husbands. It's almost eerie. Deb is my bloggy twin. She's my sister from another Mister.

And I may never have met her if I hadn't started blogging. The same goes for my other blog friends. If I hadn't decided to give blogging a try I would never have saved Jamie's son from a bee. I wouldn't have commiserated with Jenn about our lack of angst, watched my son be fearless in Cheri's pool, defended Kate from a nasty commenter or developed a bit of a crush on Aaryn.

I also wouldn't have met the wonderful ladies I refer to as the Disney Crew, or Maria Bailey who I look up to and respect. These relationships are so important to me. With my friends, I'm not just Drama Kid's mom, Or Drama Dad's wife. I'm Mel. And I can let my hair or my guard down depending on the situation. With them I can be myself. And that is the sign of a true friend.

Blogging has given me more than just great friends. I've also regained my sense of self. I think our society places a huge emphasis on jobs and career. When introduced to someone, I'll bet that "so, what do you do?" is one of the first questions asked in conversation. Back when I was a "working" mom, I could answer that I was in marketing. Before that I was in radio admin, before that it was retail management and before that I was a student. In between some of these stages I also added wife and mother to my titles.

But then I lost my job and I was at a loss as to how to answer that question. I could be honest and say I "do" laundry, grocery shopping, wiping pee off the floors, scooping cat poop and any of the other things on my To Do list that had started to define me. But, I decided to apply the KISS method and reply that I was a stay at home mom.

I can't speak for other moms but for me, "what do you do?" started to feel like a really loaded question. Depending on who was doing the asking, once I answered that I was an at home mom, I started to notice that some people would check out of the conversation right then and there. I could see that moment where suddenly I didn't matter quite as much as I did in the few seconds before I gave my answer when there was still hope that I'd have a conversation worthy career.

And it got worse when the other person asked if you "used to" work and if you went to college. It's as though I've thrown away all my potential just so I can take my kid to practice.There is nothing more humiliating, degrading and demoralizing than to have another person write you off because you stay home with your family.

This blog changed all that. Since I started adding Mom Blogger to my title, people don't disconnect as much anymore. People want to know what I write about and how I like it. They're interested in me. I know I shouldn't need the external validation. It shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks. But I do and it does. I'm more than "just" a mom and this blog has been a way for me to show it. I started this blog as a way to connect with other people, get my thoughts out and use the creative side of my brain that was bored to tears by the endless lists and tasks that the other half was always making. But it has morphed into something much bigger.

It feels strange to say that I’m grateful I lost my job but I am. I really feel that this was the path I was meant to take when I walked out of the office for the last time. Who knows what else is in store for me or what other roles this blog will play. I know it will keep getting better and better and I’m so excited for the journey ahead.

This is my submission to the Mabel's Labels BlogHer 2009 sponsorship. Thank you for your generosity! Good luck to all the participants.

Rules, sponsorship details and how to enter found

**ETA: I'm a finalist! I'm having a contest to say thank you for supporting me and my blog. Read the details here.

San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park No Longer Allow Outside Food

Thursday, February 5, 2009

News spreads fast over the web and bad news spreads even faster. I read a Tweet today from San Diego Bargain Mama that the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park will no longer allow visitors to bring their own food. An article on the San Diego Union Tribune's website quotes park spokesperson Yadira Galindo as saying the policy was brought in because of the number of guests bringing large coolers and bags into the park, which get in the way during the busy season.

The decision is supposed to make park visits more enjoyable for all guests. I do not agree with this decision and not just for financial reasons or because of the current economic climate (though those are definitely big factors).

I try to keep our family eating healthy and most of the options at parks are burgers, fries, greasy pizza and fried chicken fingers. We don't eat those types of meals too often at home, so why should we when we're out? I typically bring fruit, pretzels, sandwiches, crackers, bottled waters and other portable foods that are easy to eat while walking or waiting in line.

And what about the families who are dealing with allergies and special diets? Are they going to need a doctors note to visit? No one in my family has special dietary needs but for me and my son, we need to eat a little something every few hours. When our blood sugar gets low, it gets ugly real fast.

The Zoo and Wild Animal Park do not have lockers, nor do they have picnic areas where families can bring their food and sit either before entering the park or during their visit. Schlepping back to car to eat a meal has zero appeal for me, but I forsee a lot of tailgating and parking lots littered with trash.

For my family, we generally end up spending some of the money we save by bringing our own food on special treats like ice cream, a souvenir, feeding the giraffes or the Skyfari. Those things would certainly not be an option anymore. And how do I tell my son he has to choose between eating and riding on the double decker bus?

My son's school switched from a year round schedule to a traditional, which means loooong summer breaks. Up until now I'd argue that a Zoo/Wild Animal Park membership is one of the best values in San Diego. I was planning to renew our membership so we'd have more options on things to do this summer but now I'm not so sure.

Between the membership, gas to get to the parks, the parking fee at the Wild Animal Park and at least one of the extras, it's definitely an investment for a one-income family.
Let's hope the park takes our concerns to heart and comes up with a solution we can all live with.

*This story also posted on San Diego Mommy Spot with a discussion thread in the forums.

For Your Listening Pleasure

I LOVE these guys. One of my best friends from high school does PR for Venice and is one of the founders of their non-profit project, Artist for the Arts. AFTA partners the Venice boys with corporate sponsors, musicians and schools.

All the money from ticket sales goes to keeping arts programs in schools, which is so important because those programs are almost always the first to be cut when school's are facing budget issues (and aren't they always?!)

I have yet to make it one of the benefits but the next show on the 27th is in my hometown. I can visit my mom, see a great show and deduct it on my taxes.

*wheels are turning*
This is one of my
favorite Venice songs.

Sick Day Part Deux

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm actually feeling much better (thanks for all the get well wishes!) but now I'm even more behind on household stuff and my contributor posts etc. etc. so today is a catch up day. Go visit these fine folks instead.

How do you feel about Jon and Kate Plus 8? Really real reality TV or shamelessly sell-outistic? (Yep, made that word up just now) Go read why Tena at My Therapy is no longer watching (me too).

Braja lives in India. Braja talks about what it's really like to live in India. Braja takes great pictures of India. One more time: India.

Auds at Barking Mad on the mom who gave birth to eight babies. Give her another Amen from me.

And meet Steph's latest knitting project, Septy The Septopus.

I should be back on Monday. Until then,

Delicious photo from here with many, many thanks.

Wordles Wednesday: Proud As A Peacock

Photos taken here
For more Wordless Wednesday visit 5 Minutes for Mom, Mom Dot, What's That Smell

Takin' A Sick Day

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I feel like crap. I'll be back when my eyeballs stop pulsing and my sinuses don't feel like they're going to explode.

Here's a few posts I read over the weekend that have stuck with me:

Casey talks about self acceptance, inner demons and doughnuts.

Kelly from Don Mills Diva challenges us to stand up to journalists and "mainstream" media and force them to take bloggers and their writing seriously.

Bakerella does it again with a stunning Valentine's Day box.

Label Daddy BlogHer 2009 Sponsorship Opportunity

Monday, February 2, 2009

I know so many people, myself included, who want to go to BlogHer this year and can't afford all the costs. MomDot and Label Daddy have partnered to give away five sponsorships. Generosity like that deserves a little publicity! Click the logo to go to MomDot for rules and how to enter.

January Bloggy Carnival Winners

Thanks again to everyone who entered! I really appreciate all the positive responses. The winners are:

Day 1:
Rebecca, who also gets a Starbucks card for sending out a Tweet

Day 2:

Day 3: The three winners are Tammy,
Dorothy and Margelina

Day 4:
Janet, who also gets a Starbucks card

Day 5: Jean, who will also be enjoying a latte on me


January Bloggy Carnival

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