2010 Breast Cancer 3 Day: I Made My Goal! {Hanes Pink Giveaway}

Friday, November 19, 2010

**Giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Jennifer!**

By the time you read this I'll have been walking for several hours in my second breast cancer 3 day. I'll be with my mom, the new friends I've met through the message boards and 3,798 other people united in finding a cure for breast cancer.

My Facebook friends might remember me asking for positive thoughts a few weeks ago. I wrote an essay on why the 3 Day is important to me and sent it in to Toe Sox. They are a local company with a team who will be walking too. They posted a $500 scholarship contest on the 3 Day message boards. The winner would have the money posted into their 3 Day account to help with fundraising.

I decided to enter at the last minute. I honestly didn't think I had much of a chance. My inner voice told me there would be so many touching stories submitted from people who had lost someone and that their reasons for walking were so much more personal and real than mine. But fundraising was so hard this year I figured there was no harm in trying. This is my submission:

This year is my mom's 10th breast cancer 3 day walk. I'm so happy I get to share it with her. She's the reason I got involved with the 3 Day. I've been her Pink Pitt Crew since the 3 Day moved down to San Diego. For years I spent the entire weekend following her through the route. I'd spend the day cheering for the walkers, passing out stickers, mints or baby wipes and I'd run to the store if Mom needed BenGay or hairspray. When my son was old enough I started taking him with me. We've had a blast! He knows what the 3 Day is and why the cause is important to us.

Mom and I see some of the same people and teams year after year. Team I Hope You Dance walks for Cindy who died in 2000. And there's a woman who always wears a pink bra on her head and carries a neon pink sign that reads, "my sister says thank you." One man, The Smile Guy, lost his wife to breast cancer. He's been bringing his daughter, Little Grin, to the walk to hand out buttons since she was in an infant car seat. It's been bittersweet watching her grow. Year after year these people walk or cheer because they've been touched by breast cancer.
2008 and 2009 walks
After a few years of cheering I decided I wanted to be more involved. I volunteered for the 2008 3 Day and was lucky enough to work the closing ceremonies. I showed up in my pink pants, feather boa and wig ready to help wherever I was needed. I got a choice assignment: I'd be handing out the pink roses and T-shirts to the walkers as they took their last steps of 60 miles. I spent the day cheering, laughing, hugging, taking pictures and crying. And crying.
2008 San Diego walk
One team of eight walkers moved through the tunnel. Five women picked up their white walker shirts and waited across the finish line for another woman and a man I assumed to be her husband. She picked up her pink survivor shirt and pulled it on to the cheers of her team. She raised her arms and tilted her face to the sky, laughing and smiling. But in an instant, she did a complete 180 and broke down, sobbing. The man wrapped his arms around her and then the rest of the team made a circle around them. All of them were in tears. It's a moment I'll never forget and I cry when I tell people about it.

That moment, watching her and imaging the hell she must have gone through to get there, was the reason I decided to do my first walk in 2009. During that walk, I saw a young girl of about 8 holding a sign that read, "I never knew my Grandma and she never knew me." I took a picture of her and it's stayed with me. I think that message is why I decided to walk again this November.

I'll be walking the 2010 3 Day for the survivors, the fighters and the angels. I'll walk for my Godmother, Margie who died in 2005. I'll walk for my best friend Debbie's mother who died in 1997. I'll walk for the woman I heard in a radio interview last week who needs grants from Komen to afford the $8400 monthly prescription for the drugs that are keeping her alive. I'll walk because I have my breasts and they are healthy. I'll walk to continue showing my son what it means to do something bigger than ourselves.

Breast cancer is a monster. It's attacking mothers, wives, sisters, aunts, cousins, best friends and even husbands and fathers. The money we walkers raise is needed. It funds research, mammograms, grants and education. Without that money, the monster will thrive. I walk to slay the monster. I walk because I can.

I'm so glad I ignored my doubts and sent in an essay because I won! I got the email and literally screamed. Talk about a huge weight lifted. I was worried I would have to back out. I'm so happy and grateful to have made my goal and not had to stress about it these last few weeks that I decided to have a 'thank you' giveaway.

I really do appreciate all the support and donations. I would not be able to walk without all of you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Now for the giveaway. For one winner, Hanes has given me two of their Hanes Pink Collection shirts designed by actress Melina Kanakaredes and a $50 gift card to Hanes.com. 

Strength and Hope T's by Melina Kanakaredes

I've received a few pairs of Hanes socks at Blissdom and BlogHer and they are some of the most comfortable I've ever worn.

How do you win? Easy:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me how breast cancer has touched you, if you learned anything new during breast cancer awareness month or if you've had a mammogram ('enter me!' and 'I want to win!' aren't gonna cut it). This is required.

2. I MUST have a way to get in touch with you! I will have to delete comments with no contact info.

3. I'll leave this up for awhile since I won't be home for a few days. Comments will close on Tuesday, November 23rd at 11:59pm CA time.

4. I will use random.org to draw the winner and post the results/notify winners via email and Twitter.

5. For two extra entries: (not required) Tweet, and/or blog about this contest and leave each of your links in a separate comment (three contest entry opportunities total). You will need a free Twitter account.

6. If the notified winner has not responded within 48 hours a new winner will be chosen.

7. You do not have to follow or subscribe to this blog as a method of entry (but you're more than welcome to!). Tweet as often as you like, but only one Tweet will count as an extra entry. Leave one comment for each entry. Here is the URL to this post: http://bit.ly/HanesPinkGiveaway

8. The shirts will be mailed by the agency for Hanes and I will send the gift card. The gift card expires on December 31, 2010!!
Thank you to Hanes for supplying the giveaway items! Good luck!

$25 for $50 to American Apparel: HOT Groupon Deal

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I told you there were going to be some awesome Groupon deals coming! Today's national deal to American Apparel is for a $50 voucher for only $25! It is listed for Miami but it's good anywhere because it's for AmericanApparel.com and not the retail store.

If you're not already a member:
1. Sign up for a Groupon account.
2. Look for the deal in Miami.
(If you already have a Groupon account this link takes you directly to the deal)

The fine print:
*Expires Feb 19, 2011
*Limit 1 per person. Online only
*Not valid on Multi-Packs, California Select Vintage, Multibrand products, or shoes. Not valid with other offers or sale items.

When Groupon offered the same deal for Gap it sold out really fast. Go, go, go! 

PS- I know of another really good one for this weekend. I'll be walking the 3 day so someone hop on it for me? 

*UPDATE 11/19 - The American  apparel offer has been extended through the weekend and the $25 for $50 at Nordstrom Rack is live! (brick and mortar stores only)

Pink Explosion: Wordless Wednesday

9 Ways to Save: Sticking to a Holiday Budget

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This holiday will be the first we're creating an actual budget. I'm pretty good with finding deals and not overspending for gifts. Last year I bought gifts for 9 people for $120 total. It wasn't easy to do but it was worth the time to be able to get gifts for everyone and not just immediate family. 

But this year we're making a plan. We're not buying for everyone. I'll be doing a lot more baking. I'm also scouring the web all the time looking for deals. Several things have been working for me so far so I thought I'd share my strategy with you.

Piggy Bankphoto © 2009 Carly Watson | more info (via: Wylio)

Nine ways to save money this holiday season

1. Daily deal sites
These are popping up like weeds! So far, I have joined 13. Not all sites have offers in every market yet, but the larger sites have deals posted just about everywhere. Lots of the deals may be offered in a specific city but can be used anywhere. For example today's San Diego Groupon side deal is for $20 worth of calendars or printed gifts from Pulp Factory for only $9. Lots of these sites offer the option to buy the deal as a gift so be sure to search the city your recipients live in. 

These are some of the sites I've signed up for:
The Foundary (gorgeous kitchen and home items)
The Daily Save (San Diego only)
Daily Deal (San Diego only)
Rootz (deals from socially responsible companies)

So many of these deals are good for teachers, coaches, babysitters, the postman or anyone you want to give a little something without spending a lot.

2. Gift card swapping sites
I have a $100 gift card to a store that I don't usually shop in. I didn't know what to do with it so I started looking into swapping sites. Most of the offers I got were for $78 cash or $81 credit on Amazon which isn't bad for something that I've had in my wallet for almost a year. Many of the sites also sell discounted gift cards. The percentages may not be a lot but every little bit helps. Here are a few of the ones I found:

Plastic Jungle
Gift Card Granny
Swap A Gift
Gift Card Rescue

3. Sites that give cash back on purchases
These are best for people who do most or all of their shopping online. The cash back site acts as a shopping hub. Search for the store you want to buy from and follow the link. You'll earn a percentage of your total back and the site will cash you out when you reach a certain dollar amount. 

Occasionally a featured store will offer extra cash back for a limited time. I did a quick search and Piper Lime and Barnes and Noble are both offering 8% cash back through Ebates (up from 2% and 4% respectively). Cash back combined with coupon codes makes for great savings. Shop At Home has a great deal for dining out. $25 gift certificates are usually 80% Off at Restaurant.com! When the $25 certificates went on sale last year for $2 I bought a ton and got cash back into my account. 

4. Turn points into rewards
These sites work best for internet surfers. I've earned a lot points through both sites by spending about an hour a month on them. Lately my points are increasing fastest from MyPoints because of all the coupons I print. Download the toolbars for faster earnings and redeem your points for gift cards. Most of the gift cards I've used for giveaways on this site I earned this way. No money out of pocket!

My Points

5. Swap gently used
There are so many Wii and DS games Tyler wants for Christmas. I'm hesitant to buy them full price in case he either doesn't like them after all of they're too hard (which has happened before). Swap Mamas and ThredUp are both good resources for trading all things child related. 

6. Schedule family visits after the holiday
Since both our parents are divorced, the holidays are always a juggling act. We usually end up in at least four places between Christmas and New Year. When I was working for Godiva, this was totally advantageous. Phil and I would schedule to meet with one set of parents after Christmas and I'd hit the day after sales hard. I'd go into Godiva when the doors opened and snap up all the nicest boxes of marked down chocolates and gifts (they should all be half off the morning after Christmas unless they've changed policies). I was able to get giant boxes for a fraction of the cost.   

7. Plan ahead for next year
I know the stores are insane in the days after Christmas but a little hassle goes a long way in terms of planning for next season. I haven't had to buy Christmas cards, wrapping and tissue paper, gift tags, gift bags, paper plates for cookie trays and treat bags in 2 years because I spent a good half a day hitting all the day after sales. It's helped so much not having to include those items in my budget. 

8. Amazon
There's a reason the site is labeled a retail giant. They know how to do things well. Between the Lightning Deals and Deal of the Day there are opportunities for big savings several times a day.

If you know someone who is getting an MP3 player, you can take advantage of the $5 album sale and free music. If they repeat last year's offer, you'll be able to download one free holiday song per day starting December 1st. When I bought my mom an iPod Shuffle I loaded it with music before I gave it to her and she loved it. Amazon's free shipping through their Amazon Mom program increases the savings.

9. Shop Black Friday
Stores are moving up their deals and offering them before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Almost all the big stores have 'accidentally' leaked their ad scans online already. If you make a detailed list and go out with a plan and the stores you want to shop broken down by location and when they open, you can save big.


Saving money has turned into a labor of love. It does take time but it's so rewarding. I hope some of these are helpful for you. If you have a frugal idea for cutting holiday expenses that I missed please share!  

**UPDATE Groupon is sending out advance emails of big holiday offers. There's a really good one for later this week that I know will go FAST. Sign up ahead of time so you're already a member!
*Some of the links above are affiliate links. This is not a compensated or sponsored post.

My Bad Habit and an Embarrassing Story

Friday, November 5, 2010

I have a bad habit. I walk around the house in my birthday suit. A lot. It's kind of accidental and mostly happens when I'm alone. I'll be getting dressed, undressed or about to get in the shower and my scattered brain will remember I left coffee in the microwave, forgot to push start on the dryer, didn't put soap in the washer or need the bra I have on the drying rack. Whatever has distracted me I have to see to it right then, or I risk forgetting. My habit has only gotten me in trouble once until recently.

The first time was back in college. One day I had to go to campus in the morning and then to my restaurant job in the early afternoon so I could help out with Happy Hour. I ended up having enough time to leave school and go home for a shower and something to eat before work. 

I decided to make a box of mac and cheese so I'd have leftovers for after work. I got the water boiling, added the pasta and forgot all about it while I was watching TV. I was literally one foot in the shower when I remembered. I ran into the kitchen not bothering to grab a towel. My roommate came home to find me in the kitchen, naked and cursing, scraping a pot of fried elbow noodles into the trash. 

"Is this what you do when I'm not home? Cook naked?" 

She got a great laugh out of it and teased me about it for awhile. That was the last time someone has accidentally caught me in the buff. But, a few weeks ago, I almost exposed myself to the neighborhood painters. 

I'd dropped Tyler off at school and came in through the garage the way I usually do. There are two doors in my laundry room; one from the garage into the laundry room and the other from the laundry into the house. I often leave the garage door and both house doors open to bring some fresh air and what little breeze I can get into the house. Of course I forgot they were open and went downstairs to take a shower.

Occasionally, Tyler doesn't flush and when I walked into the bathroom for my shower it smelled "less than fresh" so I flushed. Did I remember that the toilet had clogged the night before? Nope. Our toilets totally suck at their job so the gurgling instead of swooshing is all too familiar for us. I've become quite adept at turning the valve off really fast and avoiding overflow. 

Anyway, I figured I shouldn't leave it like that. I went upstairs to get the plunger and a bucket. Which are both in the garage. The wide open garage. I was so focused on the task at hand and thinking about the errands I was going to run the clues that I was about to put on a peep show went right over my head:

1. The bright daylight coming into my kitchen
2. The sound of at least three different male voices 
3. The noise of the air compressors for the paint sprayers

Why yes, I am that clueless sometimes. 

You'd think I'd just go back to the shower and plunge later. But then I'd be all clean trying to keep poop water from sloshing on my feet. Better to just get the dirty work over with. 

So, I'm naked in the kitchen (again!) wondering how I can avoid having to go all the way back downstairs for my bathrobe. I was thisclose to grabbing a sweater jacket from the coat closet but I grabbed something from the laundry pile instead.

I wrapped myself in Tyler's Star Wars sheet, went into the garage, hit the button to close it and got the plunger. I prefer to think of it as industriousness rather than laziness.

Have you been caught in the buff? Please share your embarrassing stories so I don't feel so alone.

Mmmm, Brains: Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Zombie Boy, Halloween 2010

Peeing in the Trunk

Monday, November 1, 2010

After what I saw in the Target parking lot yesterday, I'm wondering if I missed something in the potty training books or if this is a new trend in getting little ones out of diapers. 

As I was walking to my car, I noticed a little girl sitting in the back of a really big SUV. She was reading a book. The woman I'm assuming was her mother was unloading her cart into the other side of the trunk. I did a doubletake because the little girl wasn't sitting back there just because, she was on the potty.

I don't remember any of the books telling me I had to tote a potty with me everywhere I went. Even if they did, I'm not sure I would have. Those little potties are horrid! They're hard to clean, they absorb the pee smell and emptying them out was never easy. It was hard enough dealing with them in my bathroom, let alone having one sloshing all over the trunk of my car. *dry heaves*

This chair is sold all over online. I guess I am really out of the loop.
I get that public bathrooms are gross. I remember hearing someone giggle after I told Tyler to please try to keep his boy parts from touching the toilet rim. And having to hold them under the arms while they poop so they don't fall in is a pain.* In my opinion, the choice between having my kid pee in my trunk or going back into the store is a no brainer. It seems much easier than having to dispose of a bag of pee after a day of errands.

Am I alone in this? Is having a literal porta potty the new way to do things? Did you have one? Would you?

*The folding potty seat with handles was a lifesaver!!
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