Arguing on Christmas Eve

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I spent part of my Christmas Eve arguing with my mom and Gramma. My mom got a gift that she ended up not wanting. Someone re-gifted to her some cheese, meat and chocolates. I'm not sure what she thought she was getting but they told her it was a gift basket and she took it. When she got it home and opened the box, well, she was less than impressed.

She tried to pass it off to me and I declined. The two of them were discussing whether there were any parties they could take the food to when I said, "why don't we give it to a homeless person?" They both agreed it was an excellent idea. "Great, I'll get a zipper bag to put it all in."

They looked at me as though I'd sprouted another arm.

"You can't do that."

"That's tacky.

"You can't give someone a gift in a zipper bag."

"But. They're homeless."

"So? That doesn't matter.

"It's Christmas."

"OK. So, how am I supposed to hand someone this giant box through the car window?" And how are they going to carry the box around?"

That stumped them a bit. We went around some more with me still in favor of simplicity and they in favor of gift wrapping.

Coffee mug added for scale
"Are you really arguing with me on how we're going to give a homeless person something neither of you want?"

"Well, when you put it that way..."

We finally settled on putting all of the food in zipper bags and then using one of the gift bags Mom had in her stash (also something she didn't want).

We put the gift bag in the car and headed out for last minute shopping at Target. On the way there, all the homeless people we saw were on the opposite side of the street. But, when we were leaving, there was a man standing right in the median.

I started to hand the bag to my mom and she shook her head slightly.

"No, not him."

"Why not? He's not homeless enough for you?"

I couldn't believe we were going to end up bringing the food back home after all the fuss. But, mom remembered she needed something for a recipe and while I ran into the grocery store, she and Gramma drove across to the other parking lot and found someone who met their (obviously) very strict Homelessness Guidelines and gave the food to him.

Next time, I think I'll just take the re-gift and handle things my way.

Don't Tell Grammy

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tyler is spending a week at my mom's house again this year. We were talking about it before he left and he could tell by my voice that I was sad.

"Why are you sad?"

"Because I'll miss you."

"We can always Skype."

(laughing) "You know what, you're right. Remind me to fix the Skype and Facetime on Grammy's phone while we're up there."

"I'll have to help her. You know she's not good with technology. Oh! But, don't tell her I said that!"

My Husband plus Extra Plywood Equals | Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire | Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Scene: Mother is seated on the couch in the living room reading a book. Father and Son are downstairs on the computer. Mother can hear their conversation.

Son: Dad, how old are you going to be tomorrow?

Father: I'll be 34.

Mother hears this and goes into the kitchen, pulling the fire extinguisher from underneath the cabinet. She hurries downstairs and runs into the office.

Father: What are you doing?

Mother: Here, I thought you might need this.

Father: [taking the extinguisher] Why?

Mother: To put out your pant legs.

[Father looks confused]

Father: What are you talking about?

Mother: I figured your pants were going to combust over that whopper you just told our son about your age.

[Father, still slow on the uptake, continues to look confused]

Mother: Didn't you just tell our son you're turning 34?

Father: [laughing because he's finally caught on] Actually, I told him I'm going to be 24.

Mother: That's even worse! I got here just in time.

Happy Birthday, honey. I love you!

Shopping Apps for Saving Money | Frugal Friday

Friday, December 9, 2011

I am so unprepared for Christmas! I have no idea what we're going to get for everyone. I originally thought of photo books, but I don't think I have enough really good pictures from this past year to build one. So, I'm heading out today to wander Target, TJ Maxx and my other favorite stores.

I put a new app on my phone today to test while I'm at Target. Amazon launched their PriceCheck app in hopes of cashing in on shoppers looking for last minute deals.

How it works: when you see an item you'd like to buy; scan it, take a picture, speak the name or type the item name into the app and enter the price listed at the store. Other prices will come up to let you see whether you're getting the best deal. If you put the item in your Amazon shopping cart and end up buying it within 24 hours, you'll get a discount.

I like the idea of this. It's always nice to know if an item is cheaper at another store. But, unless you're an Amazon Prime member, there's still shipping costs to deal with. I'll scan a few items and update with how I like the app.

Other shopping apps I use to help save money:
Michaels (offers digital coupons)
Card Star (to organize all my store cards)
Target (digital coupons)
Shop Kick (digital coupons)

Am I missing any other good money saving apps?

Bike Helmet Organization with Command Hooks | Works for Me Wednesday

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Necessity is the mother of all invention. I will add: mother's tired of tripping over their children's crap come up with the best solutions.

Somehow, we ended up with three bike helmets for Tyler. That's three helmets that get tossed on the garage floor and left outside our neighbor's houses. Plus, Tyler can never find one when he needs it.

My solution came to me when I was going through my coupon binder. I'd been planning to buy another Command hook to display a wreath and the proverbial light bulb went on. I bought one package of two hooks. Each holds up to three pounds.

Now, in theory, Tyler has no excuses.

What's working for you today?

Hey, Jealousy

Monday, November 28, 2011

A few weeks ago, a friend tweeted she was about to head to Spain. I tweeted back that Spain is on my top list of places to see and that I was jealous. That got me thinking about the word jealousy. Me being the dork that I am, I looked it up.

By definition, jealousy isn't something I usually feel. Frankly, I think it's a wasted emotion. But it's become so common, and one of those words people say automatically.

I think what we really mean is that we are envious. There really isn't anything I need to be jealous of anyone else for. I like who I am. I like my life. Sure, there are things someone else may have that I want. But, they're just things.

I certainly don't want to be anyone else. That would be a huge disservice to everyone I know and love because they're part of the life I have now and help make me the person I am.

If you're going to feel something, jealousy shouldn't be it. Happy. Sad. Glad. Mad. Euphoric. Heartbroken. Furious. Envious (even though it's one of the Deadly Sins). Feel anything but never jealousy. It get's you nowhere.

From now on, I'm making a conscious effort not to confuse the two words. It will probably sound strange and antiquated for me to reply, "how I envy you," instead of "OMG I'm so jealous!" but it will definitely be more me and more true.

What are you making a conscious effort to do these days?
*10 points if you get the reference of the post title.

Military Life is NOT a Video Game

Friday, November 11, 2011

It's the Soldier, not the reporter who has given us the 
Freedom of the Press. 
It's the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us the 
Freedom of Speech. 
It's the Soldier, not the politicians who ensures our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. 
It's the Soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag.

It seemed disrespectful for me to post this on Veteran's Day because I'm about to violate one of the rules of parenting. I'm going to get on my high horse and judge.

Last week, Phil went into Tyler's class to talk about being in the military. He went in uniform, which because of what he does, is more Marine Corps than Navy. The kids had lots of questions, the first of which was "have you ever killed anyone?*"

I understand. My dad used to get the same question from my classmates when he'd come for Career Day to talk about being in the Secret Service. There's a fascination with military, police etc.; especially for boys. But the questions that came after were the ones that really disappointed me. They wanted to know how he made it through war (he was deployed during Operation Enduring Freedom), what types of weapons and rounds he uses, if he'd ever set off a grenade and if he uses Nova Gas.

Tyler's teacher was sitting next to me and whispered, "where are they coming up with this stuff?!" Just as I replied, "video games," two of the kids said something about Call of Duty 3 and Halo. Parents, your fourth graders should not be playing that game (or any first person shooter). They should not have the idea that being in the military is akin to running blindly through the streets, lobbing bombs and using a gas that doesn't exist.

The teacher and I had to steer the conversation so that Phil could give them real information about the role of the military and what the experience has been like for him. I piped up and told Phil to address real life versus video games and couldn't help but add that Call of Duty isn't for kids.

I'm glad Phil went in to talk to the class. Hopefully, some of those kids will remember what Phil talked about, especially how being in the military has helped him with his civilian job and that he joined as a way to honor his grandfather, who was in the 101st Airborne. 

Video games are not a teaching tool. Video games rated M (meaning 'mature') are not appropriate for 9 and 10 year olds. Period. You letting your young child play games like that means they see my husband in uniform and equate him with a killing machine.

They don't see the training, education and schooling. They don't see that Phil is in charge of planning yearly budgets for his entire unit. They don't see the respect he and his fellow navy members give one another. They have no idea that being in the military is a JOB. And that? Is just plain sad.

*When Phil responded that no, he hasn't killed anyone, the boy asked, "why not?"


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hi Kiddo-
When you were only a few weeks old, your dad asked Grammy, "is this all he's going to do? Just lie there?" Grammy loves to re-tell that story. She laughs and laughs. Her answer was something along the lines of, "you wait, one day you'll be wishing he would just lie there." She was right. You took your first steps when you were 9 1/2 months old and you haven't stopped going since. Your dad and I can't always keep up, but we're having fun trying. Happy Birthday!

Mom and Dad

The Time I Almost Swallowed A Bumble Bee

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One of the routes I walk regularly for my training is through a new neighborhood with a lot of landscaping. A few of the blocks have lots of flowers and there are usually bees all over the bushes. Last week the bees reminded me of the time one flew in my mouth.

Back in junior high, my school went on a field trip to Magic Mountain. We had just arrived and were heading through the gates. I turned around to say something to one of my friends and the bee flew right in. It couldn't have been timed more perfectly. If I had turned around one second earlier, the bee probably would have flown around me. One second later and it might have gotten tangled in my hair.

'Bumble Bee' photo (c) 2008, Harald Hoyer - license:

Anyway, this was not a worker bee. I had a bumble bee in my mouth. It couldn't have been in there for more than two seconds, but talk about panic!

Oh my god! That's a bee!

In my mouth!

I can feel the legs!

I can feel the wings!

It's fuzzy!

I didn't know what to do. Should I open my mouth and hope it flies back out? What if goes down my throat? What if I swallow it? Will I get stung in my esophagus? Am I allergic to bees? What if my tongue swells up?

I didn't want to push the bee out with my tongue or try to cough it out. I started to freak out and it flew back out. I tell you, no ride I went on that day was as terrifying as those two seconds of having a disoriented bumble bee in my mouth.

My friends asked what was going on because I was dancing around with my tongue out and I was wiping it and spitting in case there was a wayward wing or leg still in there. It was a horrid experience. I've got chicken skin remembering it.

Now it's your turn. Has anything accidentally ended up into your mouth? 

(That sounded way more dirty than I intended it to!)

Spa Celebration

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Last Thursday night I went to the spa. It was heavenly. I got to meet new bloggers, had mini treatments and gorged myself on lemon bars. It was a great way to celebrate making my goal for the 3 day! I got the email late Wednesday night.

I was really hoping I could head into the month of November not having to think about raising money anymore and now I can. I got rubbed and scrubbed in complete bliss because I was able to put this part of the 3 day experience out of mind.

My neighbors have been so helpful with my fund raising. I posted a flier asking them to save their recycling for me rather than putting it out on trash day. I made over $50 from taking it in. This will definitely be part of my strategy for next year.

Once again, I owe my mom a huge thank you. I appreciate everyone who donated to the walk but my mom goes above and beyond by asking her network of friends and co-workers to donate to me once she's met her goal.

For me, raising the money each year has been the most challenging part of the 3 day. It takes a lot of hustle to get the funds in on time. Getting the email letting you know you've made it is such a fantastic feeling.

There are still so many people who have yet to make their goals. If you see a Tweet, post, email or Facebook update asking for donations, please consider giving. People look at my donation page and see $200 donations and think their $5 or $10 won't make a difference. IT DOES. Every wave started as a ripple.

Thank you again for all your support!

Thank you to the Hilton Mission Bay and Blue Marble Spa for providing the treatments. It was such a relaxing evening!

Think vs Do

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

 Is it better to be a think-er or a do-er? Does it matter?

You know what I have a ton of? Ideas. I have scraps of paper, sticky notes, notebooks and (now that I have a smart phone) voice memos full of ideas.

'Thinker' photo (c) 2011, Søren Storm Hansen - license:
I'll get a random thought in my head and if I don't write it down immediately, *poof* it's gone.

I have filled pages with titles like Blog Post Topics, Blog Makeover, Rebranding Ideas, 3 Day Post Ideas, Ad Partnerships and Client Projects. I really like the process of brainstorming, be it to solve a problem or start something from the ground up.

What I'm not so good at, is taking those ideas and turning them into actions. I read somewhere the line that "if you don't act on your ideas someone else will." This is true. My mom was pushing our late dog around in a stroller long before they became trendy. She swears she could have been millionaire. I've had an idea for an app in my head for ages but haven't done anything about it because I have no clue where to start.

'Nike SB Dunk High Premium Skunk' photo (c) 2010, Kevin Wu - license: I have issues with this because the "doing" part is usually the hardest. I'm not afraid of hard work, but the "doing" is usually not as fun, too. I like the creative process and I have no problem collaborating and sharing. Just last night on a training walk, I told a woman with a great fund raising craft several different ways she can get the word out and sell more of her items. She didn't know some of what I suggested was even possible.

I love that I was able to expose her to new things. She could possibly surpass her fund raising goal because of my suggestions. I walked away feeling really good. I wonder tough, would someone who is a do-er have taken it even a few steps further? What would those steps be? And to what benefit?

Are you a thinker or a do-er? Does a person have to be both? Is there a way to become both if you're only one?

Knee Socks as Armwarmers | Works for Me Wednesday {vlog}

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

UPDATE: So, apparently the audio isn't working. I can't figure out why I can hear the original and the edited versions, but nothing in the uploaded one. I'm working on it!

UPDATE 2: I started from scratch with a new video. What a hassle! 

Hi there! Long time no see. As usual, many reasons but no excuses. Today I decided to do a quick vlog. I threw my hands up and said, "screw it." I figured if I waited until my hair looked nice, the house was clean, I put makeup on, I had something important to say etc. etc. I'd never blog or vlog again.

So, here I am showing you one piece of my 3 Day gear. I've been wearing these arm warmers lately and getting lots of comments and questions from people I train with.

Sprinkles La Jolla : San Diego Staycation

Monday, September 26, 2011

Since my I Am A Yes Mom project was in full swing this past summer, when I got an email from a local PR firm about an event at the famous cupcakery, Sprinkles, of course I told Tyler we could go.

The event was for Orlando Hudson to raise awareness of his Autism foundation, C.A.T.C.H. We go to Padre games occasionally. Tyler's favorite player is not on the team anymore so I thought it would be fun for him to meet another player, especially a black man using his position with a sports team for good.

As cool as it was to go to Sprinkles for the first time and meet Orlando, I was way more excited that we got to say hello to Candace! Cupcake Wars is one of my guilty pleasures.

San Diego Padre Orlando Hudson
Sprinkles owner and creator Candace Nelson
We had a fun afternoon. Things like this are definitely a perk of blogging. Who have you had an opportunity to meet because of social media and blogging?

More photos from the Sprinkles event on Flickr

Getting Kids to Read Across Genres | Even More on Raising A Reader

Thursday, September 22, 2011

This is 2 of 2 in a series of posts sponsored by Buddig's Sandwich and a Story Sweepstakes.

My son has become an almost mini version of me when it comes to reading. He goes through books like fire, which I love. But he also stays up well past lights out and reads on the toilet (which I don't love). I can't really get mad at him for staying up until midnight since I have been known to pull some almost all nighters myself*. I will get mad about taking books into the bathroom though, because, eeewww.

Where we differ is his narrow focus on the types of books he reads. His feet are firmly planted in the Fantasy aisle of the library. That's not a bad thing, but I've been trying to tell him about all the books he's missing out on. Luckily, I think I found something that can help me inspire him to branch out.

I subscribe to the LA Times. Occasionally they have really nice special inserts within the Arts section. Last week they were highlighting children's literacy and recommended A Family of Readers: The Book Lovers Guide to Children's and Young Adult Literature. I promptly checked it out of the library. So far, it's been a great resource.

I skipped almost half the book since the beginning is about reading to babies and toddlers. The later chapters deal with independent readers. The chapters are broken down into various genres, details what the particular genre has to offer kids (exposure to Greek mythology for example), books within that genre, books for boys and books for girls. I found this passage interesting:
But the real argument for reading fantasy is that, at its best, fantasy stretches the imagination, intellect and emotions in ways that enhance, rather than discourage, children's engagement with real life...

But it can also make abstract ideas concrete, inviting young readers to consider complex philosophical, theological and political questions in uniquely accessible ways.
Huh. Who knew Tyler was getting all of that from something like the Pendragon** series? I'm so glad I found this book, if not just for the index of recommendations. I also love the fact that so many books we read as kids are included. I've been telling Tyler that some of my favorites like A Wrinkle in Time, Old Yeller, Call of the Wild and the like are considered classics (and are still in print) for a reason. Now I have this book as backup.

What about you? Have you been able to get your kids to read across genres? Have yours read, and liked, any of the books from our youth?

*Most recently I've stayed up until the wee hours for Backyard Saints and A Discovery of Witches.
**Tyler is obsessed with this series!


This post is sponsored by Buddig and their Be A Reader sweepstakes. Buddig is nourishing children’s minds as a proud supporter of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and the national Be A Reader campaign. During the yearlong Be A Reader campaign, parents and their children are encouraged to create their own reading and literacy experiences wherever they may be. As a proud supporter of RIF, Buddig will provide a minimum of $100,000 through May 30, 2012 to help children across the nation discover the joy of reading. 

How to Enter: To enter the sweepstakes look for specially marked packages of Buddig lunchmeats and go to Enter your code and complete the entry form to enter the sweepstakes. 

Eligibility: The Buddig Make A Sandwich And A Story sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Timing: Sweepstakes begins on Aug. 15, 2011 at 12:00:01 a.m. Central Time (CT) and ends on Oct. 30, 2011 at 11:59:59 p.m. (CT). 

*Five Grand Prize winners will receive a Scholastic book library plus a Buddig backpack filled with school supplies (ARV $200). 
*400 First Prize winners will receive a Buddig backpack (ARV $13.00). 
*118 winners each week beginning on Aug. 22 will receive a free Scholastic book (ARV $10.00).  Limit: 5 entries per person/email address per day

Sidewalk Chalk: Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What She Wants, Backseat Saints, Discovery of Witches: Book Reviews

Monday, September 19, 2011

'Book Addiction' photo (c) 2010, Emily Carlin - license: When my blog suffers, it's either because A) I'm so busy I'm overwhelmed, B) I'm on a break or C) I've been lucky enough to find some really good books. Last week's hiatus was due to B and C. I've read one good and two great books recently.

The Good: What She Wants by Cathy Kelly

I've read several of Kelly's books. I've enjoyed them all and this one was no exception. All her stories are about Ireland, family and relationships. This one came at a weird time because one of the characters is 'the other woman' and some people in my life are going through this. It was hard not to read the book from a place of anger and think of Izzie as 'that stupid, cheating beyotch.' Overall, I liked the book. Kelly's stories are always easy reads.

The Great: Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

I have said before that Joshilyn Jackson is at the top of my Authors I Will Always Read list. I need to read her books with a highlighter because some of her sentences blow me away. Knowing that I was going to tell you about the book, you'd think I'd do exactly that. But I didn't so you'll have to take my word for it. I love the plot of this book and all the characters.

The main character, Rose, made an appearance in an earlier work, so of course I want to go back and read Gods in Alabama again with a fresh perspective on the character. I need to see a therapist to figure out why I have such a fascination with books set in the south. Maybe I need to go to the south. It must be some kind of sign. If you haven't read anything by Jackson, these two titles are a good place to start. I stayed up until the wee hours finishing Backyard Saints.

Entertainment Weekly is one of my favorite magazines. I was at the library and A Discovery of Witches was in the 'new' section. I remembered reading a great review in EW so I picked it up. LOVE. It has witches, vampires and demons but it's nothing like the Sookie Stackhouse books. For starters, this book is 500+ pages. It reads more like historical fiction or historical romance. I like the explanations of how demons, vampires and witches came to be in this book better than the Stackhouse books. It's not entirely fair to compare them, but I can't think of any other books recent books with witches and vampires. To say the ending is a cliffhanger is a bit of an understatement. I'm really happy it's part of a trilogy. I think I spent most of a Saturday reading this.

I'm always looking for suggestions, especially now that I'm enjoying digital books. What book kept you up all night recently?

Future Politician?!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This is one of my cliche Mommy Blogger posts where I brag about my kid. Tyler decided to run for Student Council again this year. I didn't think he would after how disappointed he was to lose by one vote last year. We helped him put together his bullet points and then he wrote the speech. He practiced for us and it was so cute! He gave me permission to post it here. 

My name it Tyler. I've been a student here since kindergarten. I think I should be on Student Council for know that I can give the school good ideas such as:
Menu suggestions for the cafeteria like the Mexican Lasagne my mom makes, the Tony Hawk skate boarding program for PE and once a month Movie Night Mondays!! (double exclamations are his)

Our school is great but I know it can be better. I should be on Student Council because I play hockey so I am responsible and a team player. Thank you for your time and listening and please vote for Tyler. 

Adorable! He lost by two votes this time but he's OK about it and I'm just happy he had the confidence to try again. He's really coming into his own and it's wonderful to see. 

Retail Birthday Discounts Save You Big! | Fashionably Frugal Friday

Friday, September 2, 2011

I couldn't decide if today's post fell under Frugal or Fashion so I decided it's both. I wanted to remind you all to take advantage of your favorite retail stores' Birthday Club promotions. Programs like that are one of the main reasons I have a 'junk' email address. I love a free dessert just as much as the next person, but I'd much rather have a gift card or discount to one of my favorite stores. Case in point: Loehmann's Insider Club. 

I went shopping before BlogHer looking for tops and pants (OK, shoes too). The only downside to weight loss is not having 'professional' clothes that fit. My old work wardrobe is too big (I know, tiny violins) but I don't need office friendly wear often enough to justify replacing it. So, I figured a trip to Loehmann's was in order. They have fantastic sales, and occasionally mark things down even more with special color tag clearance sales. 

The day I went in, the Shopping Gods must have known I needed help. The store was having a Yellow Tag clearance where every yellow price sticker was an additional 40% or 50% off. Yes, Loehmann's is a store where you need to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and dig. But for savings like that, I say it's totally worth the time and effort. 

It wasn't until I'd picked out my items and was ready to check out that I remembered my birthday discount. Loehmann's gives their Insider Club members15% off in addition to regular sale prices. Because of my extra savings, I went back to the shoe department and grabbed a pair I'd put back thinking I only had room in my budget for one. Please say hello to the newest additions in my collection.

Both are by Steve Madden, who I love. Between the store sale and my birthday discount, I paid $48.06. That's total, not each. I also bought three tops, one if which was not part of the color tag clearance. Still, my total for all five items was $99.68! Considering the blue shoes alone are sale priced at $90 right now on Steve Madden's site, I think I did pretty well. 

Taking advantage of special offers like birthday and 'insider' discounts is a great way to save big, especially on designer items. Loehmann's is one of my go to places to look for the overpriced jeans I love so much.

Aveda, DSW, Sephora and World Market have good birthday reward programs. What's your favorite store reward? Do you know of any other retail stores who offer great birthday discounts?

Age Appropriate Books | More on Raising a Reader

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This post is sponsored by Buddig's Sandwich and a Story Sweepstakes.

I can't remember who I was chatting with on Facebook but the subject was books we read as kids that were totally inappropriate for our age, and someone mentioned Flowers in the Attic. I can't remember exactly how old I was when I read it, but I was definitely new to double digits. How I went from reading Sweet Valley High to that series I'm not sure but those books definitely aren't for younger eyes.

While Tyler is definitely not reading anything near that inappropriate, he has been reading books above his grade level which present some challenges. He started reading a new series, Pendragon by DJ MacHale. He loves it. He says it's one of the best series of books he's ever read. I didn't think I needed to check out the series to make sure it was OK for his age, but I guess I should have. Last night he told me again how much he likes the books but, "they sure do say the H and A words alot."


I mentioned it to Phil and he said it's part of the hazards of having a kid who reads so much (and isn't content with short stories anymore). Eventually, they're going to start coming across things with older themes. I'm not sure why Young Adult authors feel the need to use swear words in their books in the first place. Maybe I'm just getting old.

The language in the books presented a good opportunity for Tyler and I to have a conversation about things he's allowed to do and say versus what we consider 'grown up' language and behaviors. We told him we didn't mind him continuing to read books with the occasional bad word as long as he's not repeating them. This has also been a good lesson for me to investigate the books he's interested in a little before I let him read them. When we want to know if a movie is OK for Tyler to watch, we go to IMDB. I was looking for a similar service for books but couldn't find one.

I can only imagine we'll run into this type of situation again, especially since Tyler favors the Sci Fi/Fantasy genre. Tell me, how do handle this in your home? 


This post is sponsored by Buddig and their Be A Reader sweepstakes. Buddig is nourishing children’s minds as a proud supporter of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and the national Be A Reader campaign. During the yearlong Be A Reader campaign, parents and their children are encouraged to create their own reading and literacy experiences wherever they may be. As a proud supporter of RIF, Buddig will provide a minimum of $100,000 through May 30, 2012 to help children across the nation discover the joy of reading.

How to Enter: To enter the sweepstakes look for specially marked packages of Buddig lunchmeats and go to Enter your code and complete the entry form to enter the sweepstakes. 

Eligibility: The Buddig Make A Sandwich And A Story sweepstakes is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia who are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry. Timing: Sweepstakes begins on Aug. 15, 2011 at 12:00:01 a.m. Central Time (CT) and ends on Oct. 30, 2011 at 11:59:59 p.m. (CT). 

*Five Grand Prize winners will receive a Scholastic book library plus a Buddig backpack filled with school supplies (ARV $200). 
*400 First Prize winners will receive a Buddig backpack (ARV $13.00). 
*118 winners each week beginning on Aug. 22 will receive a free Scholastic book (ARV $10.00).  Limit: 5 entries per person/email address per day. 

Beware the Coupon Thieves

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mean people suck. I've been reading more posts and articles about coupons being stolen from newspapers. Most everyone is blaming TLC's Extreme Couponing. I can definitely see how the show may have pushed people in that direction. The show makes couponing look a little more effortless than it is and some of the deals people have gotten are questionable at best. 

I've had coupons missing from my paper and the mail inserts, and I've also bought packaging that was supposed to have a coupon attached and it didn't, but didn't think much of it. After my experience at Target a few days ago, I'm going to be a bit more thorough before I buy something that advertises coupons are included.

I had another toothbrush in my cart when I spotted this one on an endcap. They were priced the same, but the included coupons and the Crest Whitestrip (which Phil uses) moved me to make the switch. Of course when I got home and started putting the groceries away I saw the packaging had been opened and both the coupons and strip were missing. Buying this particular toothbrush was a double win because of the sample and the possibility of the coupons. It felt like I'd be making money on the deal. Someone literally took money out of my pocket.

Still, I'm not too bent about it. Obviously someone needed them more than I did, but the rule follower in me can't picture myself ever standing in a store opening something that someone else is going to buy and taking things out.

There are plenty of ways to get coupons without snatching them. I print them, get them directly from companies, buy my own newspaper, ask my neighbors for them and buy really high value ones from clipping services. I want to save money just as much as the next person but I'm going to be ethical in how I do it.

Have you had any experiences with coupon thievery?

Keeping my iPad Protected on the Go | Things iLove Thursday

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My friend Jill from The Diaper Diaries hosts a meme called Things I Love Thursday. I've been wanting to participate and thought now would be a good time to jump in. I'm pretty late to the iRevolution. Before my dad bought me my iPad I felt like everyone and their mother (grandmother!) had more technology than I did. Heck, my mom got a smartphone before me.

I know it's silly to feel that way because lots of people are in the same boat I was. Now that I'm on board I'm having a great time catching up on all the apps, gadgets, gear and other things everyone else already knew of; as well as keeping an eye out for new stuff. So, this series is for everyone who has either just bought a smartphone and/or tablet or is thinking of getting one. 

For my first post in the meme, I thought I'd start with the basics: the cases for my iPad. When I got it, I wasn't sure what kind of case I wanted. I knew I'd need something for everyday use but wanted a supplemental case for travel (OK, also because I'm super over protective). It took me awhile to find what I wanted and every night I'd put it back in the box it came in rather than leave it lying around. My requirements for an everyday case were protection without bulk, convertible into a stand and pretty color. A little bit of Googling led me to the Slim Line case from HandHeld Items and a 10" netbook case from Built.

The Slim Line is thin but doesn't feel flimsy. The inside cover is sueded so it doesn't slide when using it as a stand. It fits well in the outside pocket of the purse I'm using for summer. I don't really like having it in the outer pocket so I'm on the hunt for a fall bag I can carry it inside of.

I became more familiar with Built when I went to the International Housewares Show a few years ago. They had a great display. We've bought several things by them since (laptop sleeve, bottle carrier and a lunch tote). Their items are sturdy and great for travel. The Slim Line case slides in and out really easily and there's no gap around the zipper so the iPad isn't sliding around.

I feel good now about taking the iPad out and about with me. That was the whole point of getting it. Leaving it at home in its box wasn't doing me much good. It's been a great alternative to carrying my laptop around in my backpack.

Future posts in the series will be more about apps and things I use the iPad and iPhone for. I'd love to answer questions from those of you on the fence about getting one of your own. 

*If you want to see other things people are loving this Thursday or contribute your own post, Jill has a linky on her site. This is not a sponsored post.

Fourth Grade | Word{ful} Wednesday

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hey Kiddo-
I know you said you're not looking forward to being back at school, but I have a feeling it's going to be a great year. You have grown so much, both in height and maturity. I look at you and see the beginnings of a fine young man. Do your best this year. That's all we ask. You're such a smart kid, you just don't know it yet. But when that happens? It's going to be amazing to see what you will do. Your dad and I are so proud of you. 

Love you!

Supporting My School in My Own Way

Monday, August 22, 2011

*This post is sponsored by Volunteer Spot

I've always thought I don't have it in me to be a Room Mom or on the PTO. As anal and organized as I can be, I don't feel I have the time to be quite that available throughout the school year. Oddly, just last week I was offered a chance to apply for a position on the fundraising committee. On one hand, I think it would be something different to do and a new challenge. It would be a way to help the school bring in funds. It would look good on a resume.

But, I'm torn. It would take a lot of my time. If I do decide I'm going to do the 3 Day, I'd hate to accept the position and then neglect it as the training intensifies. I'm also not sure I'm PTO Mom material if you know what I mean. There's also my vision board. If I take on another project, how will it effect my other goals?

And, let's be real. If I'm being 100% honest? There are days I really enjoy not having my kid around. Do I really want to spend so much time on campus around other people's? It's definitely something to think about. I'm flattered to be considered and I'll definitely weigh all my options before I decide.

For most school districts, it seems like it all boils down to money, money, money. As much as we'd love to, we can't donate the $250 our school asks for each year and participate in all the fundraisers, dine outs, the carnival and stock the classroom with supplies. There are times I feel like we should just leave a stack of blank checks in the school office!

I know schools are hurting, funds and programs are being cut, and many families aren't in a position to buy all the supplies they need. We wish we could do more. But there's only so much in our coffers. I really do try to help the school, Tyler's teachers and the brave souls who take on the Room Parent title. For me, giving my time is just as important as giving money. I hope Tyler's new teacher has some of the same types of classroom activities his last teacher did because I was able to help out in ways that made sense for us.

Secret Reader
I really loved her Secret Reader activity. We parents signed up to bring in one of our favorite childhood books to read on a Friday afternoon. All week long the kids would get one clue per day to try to guess who's parent would be coming in. I read a few stories from the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Treasury. After class lots of the kids told me they'd never heard of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle but they loved the ones I read and wanted to look for the books at the library. That was a great feeling!

I also helped out as class Photographer. I went to the room parties and a few of the school activities to take pictures. I put them all on a flash drive and gave it to the room parent for her to pass along to the yearbook committee.

Class Parties
I sent in lots of food throughout the year but my favorite contributions were for Valentine's Day and after the kids had a lesson on American Indians. For the Valentine party, we had to bring in pink or red foods. I was worried the kids would think I was a party pooper but knew there would be a ton of junk and I wanted to offer something a little healthy. I served strawberry yogurt with raspberry granola in pink Dixie cups. Some of the kids came back for thirds! For the Indian Feast, the kids were to ask us if they could bring in the dish they loved to eat most at home. I took in big batch of chili.

We collect Boxtops for Education religiously! Tyler's school turns it into a competition and winning classrooms get to have some type of party each semester. I'm not (too) ashamed to admit I've ripped a Boxtop off packaging from my neighbors' recycle bins.

I also buy supplies all year long when they're on sale, buy teacher gifts and contribute items for the Halloween Carnival raffle. This year, if Tyler's teacher plans any type of computer or online lesson I want to volunteer to talk to the class about internet safety and privacy.

Those are a few of the things I do to help our school in my own way. How about you? Did you participate in anything fun I can share with Tyler's new teacher?


I SUPPORT MY SCHOOL... MY WAY! And I’m joining VolunteerSpot’s sponsored Back To School campaign to help raise visibility for parent involvement in schools. 

Save time {and sanity} and get more parents involved at school with! 
VolunteerSpot's FREE online signup sheets make it easy to organize parents and signup to help for just about anything: classroom helpers, snack schedules, carnivals, library volunteers, parent-teacher conferences and more....  No more 'Reply-All' email chains or clipboard sign up sheets! Please share Volunteer Spot with your room mom, teachers and parent leaders.
There is also a huge Sweepstakes on VolunteerSpot's Facebook page! Win $500 worth of school supplies for YOUR School! Enter here

Follow the conversation on Twitter to see how other parents are supporting their schools. #MySchoolMyWay

5 Reasons I'm Psyched for Back to School

Thursday, August 18, 2011

'School Supplies Pencils Erasers August 07, 20101' photo (c) 2010, Steven Depolo - license:
Can you tell I'm pretty happy school is starting? Not because it's been a hard summer. Tyler has matured so much this past year. It's just that, in my attempt to be more of a Yes Mom, I've agreed to just about every invitation we've had this summer. And now? I'm tired.

Earlier this week he asked me "what are we doing today?" and I said "nothing unless you're driving." I'm over it. I'm ready to get back to a routine. I'm ready for my house to stay clean for more than an hour. In no particular order, here are five reasons I'll be dancing back to my car next Wednesday after morning drop off:

1. Morning news. I usually start my day with a cup of coffee and the Today Show. It will be nice not to have cartoons as background noise.

2. Walks on the beach. I should be training for the 3 day. It will be nice to drop Tyler off at school and head to the coast for a really long walk. One with no "are we done, yet," "I have to go to the bathroom" or "my legs are tired." 

3. Time with friends. I've been a bit of a hermit this summer. A leisurely coffee date that turns into an early lunch sounds heavenly.

4. Blogging. If I'm going to jump in with both feet on my new project, I need time and focus to make sure it goes smoothly. I said before this is the time for me to shit or get off the pot. I've neglected all my social media this summer and it's time to regain my focus.

5. Errands. I really want to be able to run errands without a shadow. One of the side effects of Tyler being in hockey is his increased appetite. He was a good eater before, but it's just plain silly. If I have an afternoon of errands, I have to pack a bag the way I did when he was a toddler. If I don't, I end up hitting the drive thru. We've spent more money than I'd like to admit at the Target food court.

I'm sure I could keep going but listing any more than five will make feel like I'm being selfish. 

What are some of the things you're looking forward to about 
back to school?

On the Mend

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hi friends. I've been sick. I thought I was just losing my voice but I think it was a bit more than that. I'm starting to feel better and people can understand me when I talk. I hope I fully recover over the weekend so I can get back on my blogging horse. Have a fantastic weekend!

Fun With Space Mountain Pt 3 | Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Disneyland March 2011

Let the Countown Begin

Monday, August 1, 2011

Morning Mom!

I'm hungry, can I have breakfast?

What are we going to do today?

Can I watch TV?


Can I have someone over to play?

Can I go to someone's house to play?

Is it lunch time yet?

Can I have a snack?



I'm bored.

Can we go to the bookstore?

Can you buy me this?

Can I have a smoothie?

Do I have hockey today?

Can we go to the ice rink?

What day is it?

What time is it?


Can we go to the park?

It's hot!

Can we go to the pool?

Did you bring snacks?

Hey, mom?


I need more toilet paper!

When is Dad going to be home?

Can I play the Wii?

Is it dinner time yet?

Can I have a snack?


The first day of school is in 22 days, 22 hours, 34 minutes and counting...

Yummie? Not At the Moment

Friday, July 29, 2011

This post is my entry into the Say Wow, Not Ow Yummie Tummie Style Session at BlogHer.

I love my child, but the pace of our summer is starting to wear on me. Tonight, I needed a bit of a break. I decided to hit Nordstrom Rack and Marshalls to look for tops for BlogHer. I struck out, big time. Everything looked absolutely awful. It seems I'm at some size in between medium and large. The medium tops I tried on were just a bit snug and the large were droopy and shapeless. Now I'm all depressed and drowning my sorrow in gelato*. The problem? This area right here. Meet my Costco sized muffin top. 

I can't even blame it on dressing room lighting
This is my most stubborn area. Even when I lose weight, that flab sticks around. Everything else south of my belly button slims down except good 'ole Muffin. Consequently, my closet is full of A-line tops that fit great around my lovely lady lumps, but flare out to hide my pooch. Some of it feels like maternity wear. I don't like having to compromise fit and fashion over function. I know with a little smoothing, some of the tops I tried on today would have fit perfectly. 

Thus, my last totally minute entry into the Yummie Tummie contest. I've heard much about the magic of their Invisible shapers. Some of my blog friends are firmly on board the Yummie train. I want to ride, too. I want to ditch my pseudo maternity wear, and to do that I need help of the Yummie variety.

I'm desperate enough to embarrass myself by showing my goods to the entire internet. Hopefully, it won't have been in vain. Yummie Tummie? Please send help.

*Yes, I know that's counterproductive. Sue me.

Check out Yummie Tummie for yourself!

Meet Amara the Cheeta | Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Amara from the San Diego Zoofari Park

Overdrive for iPad: Borrowing Library Books with an App

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tyler and I went to the library yesterday. I've been flying through the Sookie Stackhouse books and needed the next in the series. I noticed a news camera and reporter while I was using the computer. I asked which station he was from because I was going to be on the news myself that night. We chatted and he asked if he could use me in a sound bite. Me be on camera? Absolutely! I love being in front of the camera. It's the Leo in me.

The topic was libraries in the digital age and the new system for checking out books on your portable device. I figured I should give the system a try since I spoke about it! The app I'm using is called Overdrive and it's free in the iTunes store. 

To use the Overdrive app, you need to have an account on Adobe (for the EPUB files) as well as as access to the digital library system in your area. For San Diego, it's the Serra Digital Download Library. Once you download the app, it will walk you through setting up your account including choosing the libraries in your area, adding your library card number and registering with Adobe if you haven't already. 

iTunes iPad screen shot
Once you have your account, it's really easy to search for and check out books. I've got one book available and three titles on hold: Once Upon a Time There Was You by Elizabeth Berg*, Dreams of Joy by Lisa See, Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris and Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich. Only the Berg title is avaialble now. Once the others are, I will get an email letting me know they're available for download. I love that, just like my regular online library account, the Serra system tells me what number I am in line for the checkout so I know how fast I have to read the books I have now.

Once a title is available for download, you authorize the app with your Adobe account ID. I downloaded the Berg book in just a few seconds and it will be available until August 9th. After that, unless I return it early, it disappears from my iPad. Since I installed the app only yesterday, I can't thoroughly review it but I have experienced some of the feedback in iTunes like the fact that you have to leave the app to search for books in a browser.

I've been wanting to try digital books and this is going to be a great way to dip my feet in. Between this lending system and the freebies that pop up on Amazon and Nook, I can still indulge my voracious habit and keep costs low. I still buy books every so often, but generally from the used books store. Combine the ebooks with the ones I buy, those I get from my mom and the ones I check out; my digital and physical book shelves will always be well stocked!

Have you gotten into the digital book revolution? Are you borrowing from your local library?

See the news piece on Fox 5 San Diego

*She's one of my favorite authors
ETA: you can also download Overdrive for your PC or Mac

Marketing Works!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

'crayons' photo (c) 2008, Firesam! - license:
My son just gave me his back to school wishlist:

iPad 2
Samsung Tab
iPhone 4
iPod touch
Pokemon cards

One of these things is not like the other! And all of them are not going to happen.

Home Away From Home

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our first family camping trip starts now. This is our view for the next two days!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

San Diego Staycation: Maritime Museum

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

This past Saturday Tyler and I spent the afternoon in San Diego. We don't go down there as much as we should. Usually, anything south of the merge is too far for me to do on a regular basis (locals will get that insider joke). But, every time we go down I remember how much I love my city and how much we have to do here. I need to make more of an effort at being a tourist in my own city. There's so much Tyler has never seen.

We went down to Spanish Landing because we were invited for a preview of a new exhibit. The Maritime Museum of San Diego is constructing a replica of the San Salvador. I've never taken Tyler to the Cabrillo Monument so this was his first time learning that part of San Diego's history. 

When he heard that black pepper was worth more than gold he said he wanted to invent a time traveler to take the pepper mill we have back to those days and then we can be rich. Kids.

We watched a blacksmith demonstration, sails being sewn together and the framing of the ship. Tyler even got to hammer his initials onto a board that will go on the back of the ship. When it sets sail, he'll be a part of it.

After Spanish Landing we spent some time at Seaport Village and in the Gaslmap. We had a good time. It was a good day and another successful Camp Mom* outing.

How are you keeping your kids entertained over summer break? 
Have you done any Staycating in your city?

*Thank you to the Maritime Museum for letting us attend and to Stacey for the term Camp Mom.

3 Day Walker Discount at Roadrunner Sports | 3 Day Thursday

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Last weekend I stopped in to Roadrunner Sports on my home from my training walk. The salesperson told me about their VIP program. Right now, you can join online for $1.99. He was nice enough to match the online price for me so I could join in the store. 

In addition to the VIP 10%, 3 Day walkers get an additional 10%. You have to mention the 3 Day each time you purchase because that data isn't stored with your information. 

It can't hurt to ask if your store will match the online price, too. This couldn't have happened at a better time since I'm ready to buy new shoes, which are easily the most expensive piece of gear needed for the 3 day. 

Happy shopping!

*Not a sponsored post, just an FYI

Coupon Organization Pt 2: I'm Getting There!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Slowly but surely I'm getting my system in place. Coupons were taking over the kitchen and I finally had to get serious about finding something that will work for me. I found a zippered binder at BigLots. It wasn't marked so the cashier looked up something in the system and charged me $3. Then I found baseball card sheets at Dollar Tree and bought two packs of 10. I used Target web coupons to buy tabbed binder inserts and great offer that got me two pairs of scissors for .49 each.

I stole the pencil pouch Tyler was using at school and found a mini calculator in our junk drawer. The binder still has a way to go because I want a few different sizes of plastic sheets for oversize and printable coupons. 

After I got the binder started I looked around for a storage solution. I wanted an expanding file so I can mark the insert date, file unclipped coupons, sort the store circulars and set up sections for store coupons. I stumbled across these scrap book pages files while I was in Michaels. They were in the clearance section for $6.99 each. So far, they're holding up well. 

Sometimes you have to spend money to make money and I know setting up a system will help me be a better couponer. I've lost coupons, misfiled them and let them expire. That is unacceptable! I'll keep you updated as I add more items to my system. 

Read part 1 about why I decided to go with the coupon binder system.

What are you doing to keep your coupons organized?

Lemons Into Lemonade

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A few days ago I got a really fun invitation in my email. It was for a press event this morning to see a new cheetah exhibit. It started super early so I made Tyler's breakfast last night and had it in his lunchbox in the fridge so he could eat in the car on the way. He didn't wake up very well so we were late getting out the door. Naturally, there was early commuter traffic. I took a chance and drove the coastal route more than halfway there which allowed us to make great time.

Except, the event wasn't at the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, it was at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido. In my defense, though the two sites are no where near each other, the Zoo Safari Park used to be named the Wild Animal Park. We haven't been to either in ages and I haven't wrapped my head around the name change yet. I felt like such an idiot and said as much when I emailed the PR contact to tell her what I'd done. Next time, I really need to read the *entire* email!

I wanted to make it up to Tyler somehow and he loves going to the military base to look at the planes and tanks. Since we were in the lower part of San Diego I took him to the Flying Leatherneck Museum.

We ended up having a nice morning. It was a good way to fix my colossal screwup though I'm sure he would have much rather had his picture taken with a cheetah. 

So I don't feel so alone, please tell me if you've screwed up the way I did?
How did you end up making lemonade?

If you're into military planes check out my Flying Leatherneck Museum Flickr set

Road Tripping, Someday

Monday, June 27, 2011

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move."                                     Robert Louis Stevenson

We have friends from Alaska visiting us in a few weeks. They are renting an RV in San Francisco and heading to Disneyland, Joshua Tree and Carlsbad Caverns. With three children under 10. They will be our litmus test. Phil has been wanting to rent an RV for awhile. Since I don't camp, this would be the best compromise.

When my family moved here from Illinois, we drove. We stopped at the Grand Canyon, the meteor hole in Arizona and the Petrified Forest. I was a little younger than Tyler. I don't remember all of the trip but I do remember having a good time. I played my handheld video games that were the size of a hardback book, read, napped and stared out the window. I love those memories.

I know it sounds cheesy, but we really want to get out and see our great nation. Aside from that trip across the US, I don't think I've set foot in more than 10 states. Tyler has only been to two. That's just sad. We want him to see Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, lightning bugs, see what a real fireworks show looks like, snow falling from the sky and the places he sees on the History Channel.

Travel is something I took for granted. I thought I had plenty of time to do it "when I got older." I had friends who took a family vacation every year. I thought that was the greatest thing ever and wished my family were the same. I missed out on the high school trip to Spain and I still kick myself for it. I don't want Tyler to wish we'd taken him more places.

We're trying to find room in our budget to set aside money for travel. We're starting small with a day trip to Catalina. If all goes as planned we'll be taking our first international trip in two years, two months (not that I'm counting). 

So, Alaska friends, if you're reading this (hi!) please keep in mind that your vacation is setting the tone for my future family outings. If things don't go well, don't tell me, tell Phil. 

How do you fit in family travel? What's the best vacation you've taken together?


This is the last in a series of sponsored posts from Safeway Dairy and National Dairy Month. You have a few more days to play at for a chance at a trip to a national park of your choice including airfare, accommodations, transportation, a picnic basket and a $200 gift card. Sweepstakes ends on 6/30/2011.
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