Friday, November 20, 2009

And my 6 year old says . . .

My daughter who is six went shopping with me tonight. While in the restroom she asks me, "Mom, what does T-A-M-P-O-N spell?" I tell her. She says, "What are those?" I tell her something she will use when she gets older. Then she asks, "Mom, what does N-A-P-K-I-N spell?" I tell her. She says, "Why would someone need a napkin?".

And then her final observation . . .

"Hey mom, those Tom Toms are only 25 cents!"


Monday, November 16, 2009

Country Music = Bumper Stickers = Country Music

Back in college I briefly dated a die hard country music fan. The fact that I had no interest what-so-ever in that style of music back then should have been my first warning that he was not the one for me!

After a night out at some cheesy country western bar we were driving back to campus listening to country music. I was telling him I just didn't get it. The music was kind of depressing and the lyrics were cheesy. He asked for an example. I told him it is always about someone's lover running out the door, driving off in their truck and such. I kid you not, two songs later we were both laughing out loud because the lyrics were about someone leaving, slamming the door on the way out, kicking the dog and driving off in the truck!

Lately, I have been tuning to country on my commute to work for a change of scenery. My best friend listens to country and always has. I know some of the big stars from her and occasionally even know the words! Today on the way to work I realized that the lyrics sounded like sayings on bumper stickers! Case in point: "God is great. Beer is good. People are crazy." I love the saying! But I had to think that I might have read that one time before while driving in traffic????

On the way home I heard another song with a play on words that ended with "you can kiss my GLASS". Again, sounded like something that would be plastered on someone's bumper or ass for that matter . . .

So I beg to question which came first. The music or the sticker????

Monday, October 26, 2009

Racing time

I feel like I am always racing the clock. Go here. Go there. Do this. Do that. And it just seems to get worse as the days pass. I am holding on to hope that one day I will just slow down.

I envy my older neighbors with grown children - many of their children my age or not far behind me. They just seem to enjoy life, their surroundings, their food, the air. They move slower, look more relaxed, seem so content. For just one weekend I want to be like them. I want to spend all weekend just leisurely painting a bedroom listening to the music I want to listen too. I want to cook a full meal with my husband and eat it slowly in silence while I drink glass of wine. I want to work in my yard all day and just enjoy the plants, get dirt all over me and then kick back with a beer afterwards.

In retrospect, I used to do all those things before I had kids. But now, I am running full speed all the time. And it is tiring. We are told as parents to slow down and enjoy all the moments with our kids but I feel sometimes those moments are measured and limited by the clock.

Sure one day I will be like my empty nest neighbors. And I will want to go back to when my kids were little. I know that. But, I need to figure out how to slow down the clock so I can at least catch my breath.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Start of fall

Son rides instead of strolls.
Gift of a halloween owl & cookies from neighbor.
Parents arriving in 2 days for visit.
Started new job.
Lots of rain.
Wet yard.
Long grass.
Miss my best friend.
Love my family.
Daughter is getting so tall.
Damn foot injury is preventing good exercise.
Hubby is frustrated.
For once I am not.
Goes in cycles.
Clean desk = a clearer mind.
Clean house would = happy me.
Wondering what is next.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Girls

If you read this blog you know I have a set of friends I go out with on a regular basis. And you have probably read about them in the past.

Tonight I met with them again. We did our monthly dinner out. Except it has been many months since we have been able to do it. So it was long overdue.

I have known these women for over 3 years. Our kids went to preschool together for 2 years and we have remained friends despite the fact that our kids now go to different elementary schools.

On my way home from the restaurant I felt different then I have in the past. Yes, I still had that feeling of being recharged after a lot of good laughs. I enjoyed our conversations. But tonight I felt more. I realized how special these women really are. I realized how much I depend on them, how much I admire them and how much I love them all.

I have many other friends in my life that I love. I have a best friend of 30 years. I have 4 fabulous college friends that live in four different states and for which I would do anything.

Why is this group so special to me? It is hard to explain but I will try.

There is no judgement.
There is total comfort around them.
They are sincere.
They are real.
They are funny.
They are extemely complimentary.
They love to make fun of each other's quirks.
They love to laugh.
They have great kids.
They have great husbands.
They are accepting.
They are all very different from each other.
They are extremely supportive at times of need.
They give great advice and true opinions when you really want one.
They know what is right for you more than you do.
They know how to make you feel good.

Life has been stressful and tough lately. And these women have been my rocks. They have held me up and pushed me forward. All in their own ways. They have given me hope and guidance. They have spoken words that have changed the way I think. Being a strong-willed person who is usually the rock for someone else this is sometimes hard to accept and admit. But they have been there without judgement. And have been there faithfully.

Prior to dinner, the most important thing I wanted to know is if one of my friends went to her class reunion. The day before the event she sent an email that she might not go because she wasn't feeling so good about how she looked. Well, tonight she expressed such gratitude for all the emails that we all sent back to her encouraging her to go and telling her how beautiful she really is. She was so amazed by our support she shared the emails with her husband and it actually made it him tear up.

Another friend gives me things because that is just her. Not out of welfare, but because that is what she loves to do. Share. And what it does for me and my self-esteem is more than she knows. Having that little something new or pretty makes a girl stand a little taller and smile more.

Recently, that same friend let me borrow a necklace for my job interview. She sent me home with 3. I privately loved 2 of them. I returned them to her tonight at dinner. She opened the little jewelry bag and pulled out the two I love and said, "Wait, you were supposed to keep these." I was taken aback. "No, I can't" I said. She said, "Yes, I have only worn that one once and I have something very similar to this one already." I immediately took off the necklace i was wearing and put on the white one and wore it with pride! It is not the material want or need of her gesture. It is the generosity. That she knows what I love and that she loves to give. To her giving and making you happy makes her happy.

I could go on about the others. They are all very special to me in their own way. I have a special relationship with each of them in my own way. They all provide something to me that the others may not. They are all unique.

But what they all have in common is that they are all beautiful. Inside and Out.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

An elementary celebrity

Today I visited my daughter during lunch. She is in 1st Grade at a public school.

Halfway through the the lunch I noticed a small group of kids suddenly stand up and start waving frantically and shouting something. I looked in the direction they were waving but couldn't see anyone. And then almost instantaneously every single 1st grader in that lunch room was on their feet waving and shouting towards the same direction. I couldn't make out what they were saying. I craned my neck to look.

I mean it was crazy the reaction these kids were having. Their faces all lit up with excitement. The cafeteria monitor and other parents were all looking at each other in disbelief.

I was quickly racking my brain to think who could be out that window that they all recognized and were excited to see? A New Orleans Saint? (I mean several have kids at our school) Nah. They wouldn't all recognize a player that easily. Someone dressed in a character outfit? Eh. Maybe. But such a reaction? It was like they knew this person . . . Firemen in uniform? Could be but again, why the excitement that was so incredibly fast? Hanna Montana? It had to be someone like that based on their reaction.

Well, it was none of the above.

Who was this person that these kids were frantically waving at, on their feet pratically jumping up and down about seeing, chanting his/her name?

It was . . .
The retired principal of the school! Someone that they knew for 1 year (last year) as they were all 1st graders. I was shocked when she finally walked in. I thought these kids were going to explode if she didn't acknowledge them. She spoke a few words to one of the monitors and then took the lunchroom microphone they use to dismiss lunch and addressed the kids.

She proceeded to tell the children that even though she is retired she will be at the school every Thursday. She is going to take Violin lessons (the same ones they offer the kids - with the same teacher). She is also going to come into the lunch room like she used to and teach them French. Apparently, she did this with the kids during her years as principal.

So she got down to business and started teaching them French. And even gave them a homework assignment. To take what they learned that day (asking someone how they are doing) and applying it at home with their parents.

I met this woman many times last year. I saw her for what she was. The Principal. I encountered her outside the school a few times and she seemed nice enough.

But today I saw something else. I saw a woman who to these kids is a rock star. She is someone they truly admire, respect and love. And it made me proud to have my child at such a school where such respect, admiration and love is really a two way street.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Janis Joplin and Rum

Today I was listening to a Janis Joplin song. And with many songs/artists, the music reminds you of a particular moment in your life.

One time when I was home for the summer from college, my parents took me to a state park in Ohio. It was a few hours from our house and we just went for the night to get away and do something.

At this point I was finally legally able to have a drink. Although sharing a drink with my parents happened before that time. But this time I went down to the bar in the lodge with my dad and we pulled up two 1970's brown vinyl bar stools to the very small bar. We were the only patrons at the bar.

My dad ordered us two Pina Coladas with Meyer's Dark Rum. It is his favorite rum and he wanted to introduce me to it since in college about all I drank was cheap beer.

He put a few bucks in the Jukebox and played a bunch of Janis Joplin songs. Together he and I sat there listening to Janis and sipping our Pina Coladas. Sharing a right of passage and first moment - Legally drinking with a parent in an actual bar.

I don't recall what we talked about. Dad isn't much of a conversationalist. Doesn't matter. It was the atmosphere. The music. The rum. The moment.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Typical New Orleans

So I am reading the magazine Real Simple and there is an article "How to save money on everyday essentials." Readers submitted little blurbs about what they do to save money or cut costs.

One reader said they buy in bulk at a warehouse club and split everything with friends/neighbors. Another reader said she simply asks herself if that overpriced sugar-filled treat is really necessary for her kids.A lady from North Carolina states she just uses a little less of her detergent, shampoo, cleaning products.

So I see that one of the submissions is from someone in New Orleans. It says . . .

"I find a good price on the wines I love and buy by the case . . . it saves me from going back and forth to the wine store."

Monday, August 17, 2009

What the hell have I been doing all summer?

Well, my freelance business has picked up and withe kids home all summer it has been a challenge! Not much time to blog anymore. (Well, that and my new infatuation with Facebook)

Here are a few of my most current finished projects. Many more in the hopper!

Precision Landscape
Sal Fernandez Investigations
Landry's Heating and Air
Hopkins Dermatology
Gulf Coast Claims (still work in progress)
Evertain Retainers (redesign)


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Boy Presidents and Hillarys

Tonight we were reading a kids book about Dolly Madison. In the book it showed her picture among several presidents. My 6 year old asked who all the men were. I said they were all former presidents. And then the conversation went like this:

"There were a lot of boy presidents."
"All the presidents have been boys."
[She gave me a funny look]
"We almost had a girl president this past election. Her name was Hillary Clinton."
"Oh I remember her! I heard her on Disney. Wasn't she a really good singer?"
"No, honey, that is Hilary Duff."

THis is not the first time she has confused the two. READ HERE!


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ohio University Pride

I have always been proud of my roots with my alma mater Ohio University. I am not talking about Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. I am talking about Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Two different colleges. Ohio State has about 70,000+ students. Ohio University has 18,000+ students.

Ohio State is like a city. Ohio University is referred to as the Harvard on the Hocking. It is nestled in the foothills and beauty of southeast Ohio along the Hocking River. The college makes the town for the most part. The campus is big but overall the school feels small.

I fell in love with the place the instant we crested the hill on highway 33 and there before me lie the campus along the river. The beautiful buildings, hills, river and greenery! It was a sight.

I often brag to my husband of my incredible professors and their history before becoming a professor at OU. My very first college class ever was Visual Communications Overview. It was to be taught by 5 different professors. Each teaching their speciality for 2 weeks of the 10 week quarter. The first professor I encountered in my college career was a former National Geograpic photographer who told us a story of a photography lighting invention back in the day and ended with "Does anyone know who invented that technique? [no answer] Well, he is standing right here in front of you about to teach this class for the next two weeks." I was proud!

My college advisor assigned to me for the next four years spent 20 years as a Media Buyer for Kraft Foods - and she was black. Which means a lot since her career with Kraft started in the early 70s. She was forerunner as a black woman and in her industry. She bestowed upon me four years of advice and wisdom I still treasure today. Even treated me like her own daughter. She would tell me to stop curling my hair when I talked to her. She would tell me to sit up straight! She was a great friend. She had me over for dinner like many of her other students and advisees. Both times she made a feast and we shared life stories. She even invited my dad one time when he was picking me up before holiday break. Those two ate and drank wine and laughed a lot. It was nice to watch. And for graduation she gave me a brand new mattress set. I had been telling her about my search for an inexpensive mattress set since I had landed a job and was getting my own apartment. She told me to swing by her house with the UHaul on my way out of town. I did. And out from her house came a queen mattress set still in the plastic that she said she bought on a whim one day. To this day I wonder how true that story is?

I can't remember all their names and what all they accomplished. But I know many a professor I was taught by had a great history and life experience to share with us. To a naive midwestern girl from Toledo Ohio that meant the world to me. I absorbed it all!

And sometimes it is not until now when I read the OU Alumni magazine that I learn about a professor I had and what they did prior to teaching me. Amazing.

This morning over coffee I was reading my summer 2009 issue of Ohio Today, a magazine for Alumni. I always amazed at what I learn about my alma mater and it's students or alumni when I read this magazine.

Today I learned two new things that made me stop and note to my husband sitting nearby and smile with pride!

First, I was reading about a professor of graphic design I had for one of my early graphic design classes. There was a photo of her from back in the day standing with 3 little girls - one of whom was Sarah Jessica Parker who was born and raised in the area. If you attended OU you were usually aware of any tie to fame the school or area had. I was not aware of this one.

Second, I recently found a blog that I just love and think is funny and clever. I have even posted links to blog posts for this blog on Facebook because I felt they were worth sharing. Lo and behold I flip the page of my OU mag and there is an article about Jessica Hagy, highly-acclaimed blog owner of [More pride!]

Other ties with fame that I am aware of:
1. Piper Parebo (who actually attended OU during my 4 years there - Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Cheaper by the Dozen, Coyote Ugly)
2. Matt Lauer (Today Show)
3. Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)

Ohio University didn't cost me a fortune to attend. But it gave me a fortune of experience and knowledge to take with me for the rest of my life. It was the best choice I ever made and there isn't any part of those 4 years that I would take back!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A day in the life post

Nothing specific to write about so going to talk about yesterday in general.

It was hot. But not the kind of hot we had earlier in the week. I actually wore jean crop pants and didn't feel like I was suffocating.

I had to drive across Lake Pontchartrain for a meeting in the city. It was beautiful and such a relaxing drive.

My GPS so far has been pretty accurate getting me around New Orleans. Had to use it to get to my meeting.

Got off at Claiborne and while driving west I saw all kinds of men sitting in the neutral ground under the oaks in their lawn chairs. Trying to stay cool but such a peculiar place in my opinion. For those who don't know what the neutral ground is it is what some refer to as the median. A large grassy area dividing the road. This one was particulary wide with lots of shade trees, but still an unusual site for me.

I was late to my meeting and worried about the client being angry. He was so kind and calm. I had to remind myself I am in the south.

I had a second meeting at The Bean Gallery in Mid-City. Been there before to meet the same person. I was early for this meeting. I love the architecture in that area and the college feel to the coffee house. I ate my panini and did a little people watching. Such a different crowd from where I live but it brought back memories of college and living that lifestyle. Except not everyone was college age. Still those who live that life as adults. I so wanted to join them.

Headed home and was in traffic on 10. Shot out of the traffic via the Bonnebel exit. Wanted to hit Macy's on the way home. But a quick change of mind and I stopped by my client Mary, owner of Old Town Praline & Gift Shop. I love to stop by her shop. I knew it was after closing time but thought she and her daughter might still be there. I was right.

Mary's daughter left and Mary and I sat on her church bench behind the counter and caught up. I love talking to her. She is such a neat and very intelligent person. She told me about selling her house, buying a condo and her mother. She also told me about the health problems she was experiencing lately. I got the feeling she felt like talking. Maybe it was because I was someone else that she doesn't talk to on a regular basis and not part of her family which surrounds her daily. I just listened and offered a comment or question on occasion. I wished I could have stayed longer, but had to run home for dinner. Mary sent me out the door with chocolate of course! I ate it on the way home! And I skipped Macy's.

On the way home hubby asked me to stop by the store and get bread and ice. Ice, a staple in our house.

I arrived home to the kids just sitting down to BLT sandwiches. Their first ever and they loved them! Hubby used the bread I brought home to make us each one too.

There you have it folks. A day in the life.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Frugal = Fix it yourself & Get it for free

My hubby is not what you would call a "handyman" or well, he wasn't. Until Lately. He didn't grow up with a dad like I had. In fact, my parents bought him his first set of screwdrivers for Christmas the first year we were dating per my request as he didn't have a screwdriver one time when I was at his house and we needed to fix something.

Just to give you an idea of his upbringing . . . we were staying with hubby's parents when they had power go out in one room in the house. I asked his father where the breaker box was. He had no idea. They had owned the house 8 years!

But, when times are tough one can get resourceful. I am becoming the queen of getting things for free. Friends and are my biggest resources. My hubby is becoming the greatest handyman around. He is using the internet a lot to figure out how to fix everything.

Couple of examples:
1. I got a replacement stainless steel sink and faucet from a friend who was upgrading. Well, her old one was an upgrade for me!

2. I have several friends with sons who graciously give me tons of clothes and toys for my son. Have barely bought that kid a thing since birth.

3. Have a great friend in Boston who passes all her daughter's clothes down to me. Her closets are jam packed!

4. We needed a new mower. I saw a garage sale ad that said mower was going to be for sale. Sent hubby to see. He came back with a FREE unworking mower. He got online and found out it just needed a new $5 air filter. Works like a charm!

5. Our microwave broke. It was 26 years old. Got on and posted exactly what I need. A 36 inch over the range microwave with brackets to hang. Got almost the identical microwave I had from some nice woman. Same make. Same color, Same size, Same buttons. Only difference is that it is only 16 years old. Works like a charm!

6. I had been wanting something for the living room to store DVDs. Someone on was giving away one of those black wood benches with the wicker storage baskets underneath. I snagged that one and it fits into my decor perfectly and holds all our DVDs nicely. Serves as an art table for the kids too!

7. My blender broke and the same lady who had the black bench also had a brand new Oster Blender! I don't think she ever used the thing. Still smelled new. No box or instructions but who cares. It was so shiny and clean! Works too!

8. Needed a booster car seat for my girl. A great friend lent me hers to use.

9. Hubby's LCD screen on his laptop broke. He researched online and found a replacement for only $99 and found step by step picture instructions on how to replace it himself rather than pay a computer repair shop $70. Took him 5 minutes and voila! A new working screen!

10. My printer/scanner/fax/copier broke (do you get the sense that everything is breaking lately?) I was working at my son's preschool one day just helping out and telling the director of my dilemma. She took me to a closet, opened it up and handed me a printer. Said, "Hold this at your house until I need it again." It was older and only printed, nothing else. But what a surprise to find out it took the exact ink my old one did and I had extra to use up at home!

11. I waited patiently and finally someone posted on that they had a scanner to give away. It is the back of my Yukon. Picked it up last weekend. Soon I shall hook it up!

12. Our dishwasher broke. We weren't sure what happened. Something in the control panel. Hubby called repair guys. $85 just to come out and take a look! Phew. That's steep. He got online and found out it was most likely a fuse. He drove 20 minutes to an appliance part store and paid $20 for the part. Followed the detailed instructions he found online for replacing the fuse and Voila! It is fixed!

So I wonder if hubby is handy enough to replace his own rotors on his car? Eh. That might be pushing it . . .


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Goodbye to hugging?

I just watched a report on some morning news show that some schools across our country are banning hugging between students as well as students and teachers.

As the mother of a hugger I have to disagree with this. My daughter's teacher always mentions how much my daughter hugs her. Not a surprise. She hugs me at such random moments throughout the day. She hugs her friends all the time. In fact, we met a little girl from another class at her school in Wal-Mart. I have never seen this girl before but the girls ran to each other and embraced like they were old friends who have not seen each other in 20 years. And each time we saw them in another aisle of the store they screamed and ran to each other to hug. We practically had to pry them away from each other. But the little girl's mom and I thought it was so sweet. They are 6 years old. And showing such affection is amazing to me.

I remember when I started hugging like that. I was in Junior High. When my mom would pick me up from school after track practice I would have to hug EVERYONE goodbye, including the coach. She often commented about my sudden hugging habit and how long it took me to leave!

If you know me I am not an overly affectionate person. In fact, my friends here in Louisiana who hug and kiss each other (including husbands they barely know - that one is for you Amy Y!) have a running joke about my defenses against asking me about my religion and hugging/kissing as a greeting.

Now, don't get me wrong. I hug. But as an adult I have unconsiously put up a barrier and am choosier about who I hug and kiss as a greeting. That said, I must admit my LA friends have broken down that barrier and it is nice to hug and kiss as a greeting. The better I know someone the more likely it is that i might actually initiate the hug/kiss greeting myself! Even with other's husbands! He He!

I'm from Ohio for crying out loud. Give me a break. We typically only hug family on greeting. And the funny thing that i noticed is that I never hug my very close friends who live here from Wisconsin and Michigan. Even if I am as close to them as my LA born/raised friends. I think they have the same upbringing on personal space and greetings!

Anyway, here is my point. The news cast showed these kids hugging. I think it is great! The world is cold enough. And i remember how it was at that age. Why not allow people to share their emotions, feelings with others they feel close with. Even if it is a teacher. Of course, as the kids said in the newscast there are boundaries to be respected but it makes them feel good. Who knows what is going on at home. Teen years can be turbulant and depending on your friends or teachers when things are rough with your parents is a good thing if you ask me. Kids need support systems outside their family.

I remember how important my relationships were with my teachers. They gave me confidence and support that my parents didn't. Not that my parents weren't supportive. They were! But, they weren't in that school with me daily. It was a type of support that a parent couldn't possibly understand or give. And in addition, having close relationships with adults outside of your parents at that age is critical. You learn about yourself. You often times absorb what they say more willingly than if from a parent. You learn about life in a way your parents might now be able to teach you just because an adult might have a different life experience. I remember one of my teachers wrote me a letter when I graduated about going off to college and leaving my legacy. He went to the same college I was going to so we had that connection. I felt connected to him in that way. And he hugged me daily. I have pictures of him and I on graduation day stashed away with that letter. At the time, his friendship was very important to me.

Why should we ban one more good thing from kid's lives? We just make our world colder. Allow kids to show affection. Allow them to build relationships. If boundaries are a worry, then teach them the difference.

Keep hugging. If you need a hug. Drive south.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Inspired by Miley Cyrus of all people

Anyone who knows me personally knows that the last 3 years of my life have been a stuggle for different reasons. It is something that I cope with daily and try to push my way through. In my mind that is the only way to get through it.

Yesterday was just one of those days where I was just not having a good day. I am trying to meet deadlines and projects weren't going well no matter how long I sat in front of this computer. Frustration took over.

So I got a good nights sleep (meaning i went to bed before midnight) and woke up this morning and took a nice long walk by myself with my headphones. I started out just walking as usual. I used to run a lot more a few years back but keep wimping out on getting back into it. Then, Miley Cyrus's song "The Climb" came on and I like that song. But this time with no one but myself and the road in front of me around I actually really listened to the lyrics. And these words, as cheesy as it may sound, inspired me and I turned my walk into a run. It relates to well to my current situation and I needed a little positive this morning . . .

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

In the homestretch of my run when I was feeling like walking the rest of the way home a car passed me coming from behind. As it passed I looked over to my right at it and saw the person had their window rolled down and their arm stuck out giving me a thumbs up. Needless to say, I ran the whole way home. Thanks stranger from my neighborhood for giving me encouragement to keep going!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Got my hair chopped - $14.50 at Cuts Plus (what a bargain for how cute and sassy it is. Hubby loves seeing my neck! I went very short!)

Had a job interview - still thinking about the offer and what my counter will be.

Still working - freelance work has been lucrative and is still coming in . . . will be working all weekend.

Almost out of diapers - My Boy has been doing great with the potty training. Can't believe he has gone so many days without an accident. He took so much longer than my daughter. Now to work on getting that thumb out of his mouth. Goal is by his 3rd b-day in July.

Got a free microwave - our 26 year old microwave died. I posted on the northshore freecycle yahoo group that I was looking for a working over the range 30". Sure enough someone had one laying around they weren't using. It is 10 years newer than our old one, same exact brand and style (just newer) and fits and works perfectly! Nothing like getting something for free!

I know someone with Swine Flu - My friend B is from Mexico city. She just posted on Facebook that her dad who still lives in Mexico City has Swine Flu. Not good.

Last week of school - My girl will be finishing Kindergarten this week. It is bittersweet. She told me yesterday that in 4 more day she gets to hang out with me all summer. How sweet. I bet she changes her tune after week 1.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh My Shit!

So My Boy and I were sharing a little walk today and something happened. I don't even recall what exactly. Maybe he tripped a little or dropped one of the rocks he was carrying. Who knows. Irrelevant.

What I am writing about was what he said. . . He said, "Oh My Shit." I wasn't sure at first so I said, "What was that buddy?"

"Oh My Shit." he said back matter of factly.

I just started to laugh. And then he started to laugh.

"I said, where did you hear that."

"Daddy said it when he . . ." Again, I dont' recall what he said about when Daddy said it. I just know he just threw Daddy under the bus.

I laughed all the way home because I found it so cute. And of course the more I giggled the more he said, "Oh My Shit." And it just go louder and louder and louder . . . till his final hurrah as he yelled it one last time running up the driveway.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - Part 5

Sept 2005
Days went on. Stress continued. We handled all the things you need to do. Apply for food stamps through the Red Cross. Apply with Fema for the $2000 evacuation money. Apply for $2000 from insurance company for being displaced to help cover expenses. We did it all.

I was keeping friends and family posted on what was going on via email on a regular basis. One surprise was an envelope that arrived in the mail at my in-laws from our friend Beth. She had emailed for our temporary address, but little did I know what she intended to send. It was two checks for $500! One was for us and another was for a guy, Jason, who worked with Hubby. Both Jason and Hubby worked with Beth in Pittsburgh. Beth and her husband Ray had become our friends and we knew some of their extended family. Beth collected $1000 from their family members. About 6 couples total I think? She split the money between ourselves and our friend Jason's family. I couldn't believe such generosity and that was just the first time I would cry from such acts of kindness. You must understand that Beth and Ray were not our best friends or super close to us. They were just a couple we met through my husband's job that we spent time with on occasion and enjoyed each other's company. So to have her do this for us meant so much and really sealed the bond between us. It really showed who they were. It was so unexpected. We didn't expect anything from anyone.

We finally secured a date to meet the insurance adjuster at our home. Hubby and I took off by ourselves back to New Orleans leaving our 2 1/2 year old daughter with my in-laws for the first time ever. She did fine. We just told her we were going to the airport to get mommy's car. Which was partially true but at that age time was not something she grasped.

Speaking of my car at the airport, hubby was watching a video of the hurricane that someone took from inside the airport parking garage. And in it he spotted my vehicle! He knew exactly where he had parked it in the outside parking lot by the fence and could see the sticker I had on my rear window in the video. However, when we actually returned to get the vehicle, the sticker was gone. The wind was so intense it ripped the cling sticker off my window. So the video must have been early on in the storm.

Anyway, we took off to the meet the adjuster. I got a little queasy and anxious as we got off I-12 and started approaching our neighorhood. I started to see just piles of debris along the roads. We pulled up to our house and it was just as I had seen in the video that hubby brought back from his first trip to the house. Bad. It was very sunny that day and hot! I walked around the property just looking. I peeked inside too. But we did not go in as we already knew our house was infested with fleas. Yes! Fleas!

Our neighbor and a good friend had entered our house many times to have service men look at restoring our electricity or to remove valuable items that might get damaged from the heat and moisture and lack of air conditioning. They had informed us of the flea infestation.

The lack of air conditioning infested our house with fleas. According to the exterminator, who had to treat our house THREE TIMES to kill all the fleas, the eggs were carried in by the dogs but since they were treated for fleas and our house was air conditioned the eggs never hatched. Well, when our house got damaged, lost electricity and was wet & hot inside it became an incubator and they hatched and went into survival mode (because no dogs were presnet to feed on) reproducing 4xs the normal rate. They survived off of each other and attacked anyone who entered the house! Gross! I know . . . Tell me about it.

I felt kind of helpless being there at the house. We didn't know what to do with ourselves as we waited for the adjuster. We did have a neighbor come over and tell us we need to get those trees off our roof or we will ruin the inside of our house. Like we didn't know that already. He basically told us to ante up the $5000! I wanted to tell him where to shove his glass of Merlot he was holding! Fortunately, we met some people staying with a neighbor who were in town to help clear debris and such. They offered to remove our trees and cover it with large blue tarps for $1200. Luckily, they got it done just in time for Hurricane Rita to roll in! Phew! And much to our luck Rita was the first rain since Katrina so our house did not get any more water in it.

We drove around town a bit and looked around. It was odd. Some things were back to normal and open for business but many were not. Or they were only letting in so many people at a time to a business because they lacked enough employees to sevice everyone.

We went to dinner at a co-worker's home. We sat among their extended family who lost their homes completely from flooding in the Lakeview area across the lake closer to New Orleans. It was a strange evening, yet sweet. We shared this tragedy with people we barely knew and some that suffered much worse than us. When I left I cried and thanked our hosts who just hugged me and assured me all would be ok.

We spent the night at our neighbors house. They were lucky enough to have electricity back on.

Then, the next morning the adjuster came . . .

Continue to Part 6....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's been my day all week!

Mother's Day to me is just another day - I admit it.

But it has actually been my day all week. I took My Girl to all the Michael's free Mother's Day crafts and sat and watched while she created gifts for me. I would linger by the door near the end and she would hold her completed project behind her back and approach me with a big grin and whip it out from behind her back and yell "Happy Mother's Day"! As if I had no idea what she had. I would play along with big hugs and kisses and fake surprise.

Both kids made gifts at school as well. Some were hidden in the guest bedroom and others in my hubby's car. It was cute.

And for the first time ever I was served breakfast in bed this morning. The kids got a kick out of that. I guess eating in bed is a great phenomenon for them. They also brought me all their cards, gifts and the wooden planters they made at Lowe's on Saturday. They of course had to share my breakfast with me. Like I heard on NPR today - your kids will suck the foam off your latte. Nothing is solely yours as a mom - that includes Mother's Day gifts. For example. My girl made me a fake corsage at Michael's, but 1 hour after receiving it she said she wanted it back.

So what did I do today? Well, after breakfast I took a walk ALONE! But then I was back to being mom. I also spent a lot of time working in front of this computer . . . but it pays the bills so I can't complain.

Mother's Day to me is like New Year's Eve. Lots of build up and little excitement.

Thank you My Girl, My Boy and Hubby for all the gifts.

Hurricane Katrina - Our Story - Part 4

The first thing I did when in Dallas was visit the Hibernia Bank. That was our bank which was based out of New Orleans. Luckily there was one in McKinney where my in-laws lived. Well, when I walked into the McKinney branch the first thing I noticed was a table with toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, and other amenities for evacuees. They knew we were in town. It was sad. It made me feel sad. I didn't feel like a victim but the whole world was aware of what was going on in my life. I didn't take anything from the table but felt appreciative of their efforts.

When I approached the teller she gave me this very cheery hello. I told her my situation. The first thing she said was how sorry she was. Sorry for what I thought? I am not even sure what to be sorry for yet? She gave me a very genuine sympathetic look. I found it hard to look at her in the eyes. I just said I wanted to know if my husband's check cleared as I had payed all our bills online before we left for vacation expecting his direct deposit to go in. She said she couldn't check that information because all the computer systems were down for our account because of the storm but they were working to setup the backup system in Houston. It would be a day or two more. I was concerned about checks bouncing. She said not to worry that all fees would be waived. She asked me if I needed any money. I just gave her a questioning look and she explained that they were giving all their customers emergency cash up to $1000 to get them through and it would be deducted from their account when it came back online. I was impressed but declined. I had some cash on me leftover from vacation. Plus, my brother graciously gave me all his cash he had left before we left Virgina.

The next thing I did was call my insurance company. My in-laws used the same company as we did and had a great agent who went above and beyond to help us. I had no idea where to start or even what to tell him. I didn't have my policy with me of course. Who did? (I take it with me now when we evacuate! Along with birth certificates and other important documents!)

Ron Pope from Farmer's took care of everything and fielded every single question I had. He found answers to everything if he didn't know. He followed up with us even when we eventually went home! He assured me and told me everything would work out and be ok. I so wanted to believe him. I needed that reassurance.

After taking care of that we moved on to finding an apartment to live in. Hubby's boss was saying that there was no going back for a long time and to find housing. So off we went for 2 days looking for apartments. It was so bizarre. Here I had this broken house 9 hours away and it was as if I was building a new life overnight in a new city.

Well, just before signing on an apartment, the brakes were put on the apartment hunt by his boss. He was all over the place with the plan and it was not making it easy on anyone working for him. One day they are doing this and then the next day they are doing that.

The apartment complexes were offering evacuees month-to-month renting or no deposit to rent offers. We didn't need certain records to rent as we had no access to them. It was as if the evacuees were celebrities in Dallas. Restaurants ran evacuee specials, etc. Just show your proof of residence.

In the midst of all this I saw an ad in the local paper that they were having a food and supplies drive at a local church for Katrina Victims and needed volunteers. So I decided I needed to go. My MIL watched my daughter. I showed up to a husband and wife team running this whole thing. They put their own money forth to rent the semi trucks to fill with food and supplies. They rented three! They used the church parking lot as their collection center. The amount of people who showed up to volunteer was incredible. Almost too many. But it was the amount of people that turned up to donate that was even more astounding. At one point I had tears in my eyes. They were essentially doing this for me and my city of residence. Yet, I was there to help and expecting none of this to ever be mine. I in no way was feeling like a victim. For some reason I just couldn't.

At one point the man who organized it all gave a little speech to thank everyone. I asked him if I could say something. So I told them all where I was from, how I was on vacation so I wasn't there when storm hit and that I wanted to thank them all on behalf of everyone in New Orleans. And to this day, I still think the guy who organized it thought I was lying about where I was from. I can't explain it completely. He kinda cut me off and took the microphone away from me when I spoke and then blew me off the rest of the day. Never said another word to me until I went to leave. He said this, "For an evacuee that is a pretty nice volvo. Texas plate too." I turned around and said, "It is my father in laws. I don't have a car here. Mine is still at the New Orleans airport." I got in the car and left in tears.

I just gave 6 hours of hard work loading 3 semi trucks and that is what I get from him? Some rich dude who apparently thought all the evacuees in New Orleans were black and poor. Ignorant.

There were many volunteers who did come up to me after and hug me or ask me questions about my home and state of affairs as I knew them. I appreciated their concern. I thanked them again on behalf of all New Orleanians and Gulf Coast residents.

Continue to Part 5

Monday, May 4, 2009

And my 2 year old says . . .

Setup 1: My Boy and I are having PBJs together at the kitchen island. He decides to get chatty and deep.

My Boy: "I like Daddy."
Me: "Oh Yeah. Why?"
My Boy: "He is nice. And he is shiny."

Setup 2: My Boy likes to help clean. He wanted to do the patio door windows.

Me: "Let me spray some Windex on a paper towel for you."
My Boy: "And then I clean the window?"
Me: "Yup, you need Windex to clean the window."
Five minutes later My Boy returns to me with his paper towel . . .
My Boy: "Mommy, I need more Winn Dixie on this."

(If you don't already know, Winn Dixie is a local grocery store!)


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Lots of freebies, free samples and special offers!

Here is an example of my latest email out to those on my Freebies/Deals mailing list. If you would like to join my list email me!

5 coupon offers for Revlon, Almay, and Coppertone products:
Save $1 any Coppertone product
Save $1 any Almay Pure Blends
Save $1 any Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Liquid lipstick
Save $1 any Revlon Doubletwist Mascara
Save $1 any Revlon Makeup Remover towelettes

Clinique Bonus Time
If you are a clinique user you know what that means!
This time it is an Online Exlusive – Ultimate Choice Gift and free shipping with $40 purchase!
Create your own 7 piece bonus with $21.50 purchase.

Free Magazine Subscriptions:
Subscription to Working Mother Magazine
Subscription to Global Finance
Subscription to Landscape Care
Subscription to Business Week

Baby Formula Offers:
Enfamil Lipil - Get a FREE gift certificate to take to your baby doctor's office and receive an Enfamil Lipil breastfeeding support kit.

Enfamil Tolerance - Sign up and receive free sample of Enfamil Baby Formula.

Other Deals:
1. Free 12 oz. beverage of your choice at Borders Seattles Best Coffee. It's valid until Wednesday, May 6

2. Save $3.00 on any one Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers. There is no limitation on the size package you purchase - so yes you can use these coupons on a Jumbo size! You can print two of each coupon.

3. Free Retainer Case with every order! – From RetainerFresh

4. Free Playtex Tampon Sample

5. Slimfast - Register and get Free access to Slim-Fast meal and fitness planning tools, advice from Registered Dietitians, our online Buddy system, and savings offers.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A few links to share

The Real Story Behind 'The Soloist'.
NPR Fresh Air interview with the Journalist from the move 'The Soloist'. Quite Interesting.

The Alzheimer's Project
HBO will air a 4-part series on Alzheimer's Disease. Wish I had HBO to watch it. Very prominent disease in my family.

Free Bowling for Kids
Check this site for your state/city and see if offered in your area. If so, kids can bowl 2 games a day just by signing up. Also, a great family discount available. Unfortunately, not available anywhere near me.

Vista Print
I am always asked by clients, friends, family where to get low cost printing online. I use VistaPrint and it is perfect for personal use or small businesses. Once you order one time they are already offering you discounts and freebies. The link above has several free offers. I got it in my email the other day and thought I would share. One nice feature is they have a lot of designs for you to pick from if you are a do-it-yourself or on a very tight budget. I rarely use these for real business stuff myself because I can design it. But for fun things or for personal use I will often choose one of their designs. BUT! Keep in mind you can also upload your own designs as well!

We are always looking for new coupons so here are ways to get more:

Pillsbury Cooking for 2
Sign up for free newsletter and receive recipes and savings coupons.

Sign up for free newsletter and receive recipes and savings coupons.

Box Tops for Education
Sign up for Box Tops Newsletter and help earn cash for your selected school and print valuable coupons.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One worth logging . . .

I sent an email today to My Girl's teacher about whether they were going to have show-n-tell this friday and if I should send something. I had to post her response because it made me laugh out loud!

"Yes we will do show and tell Friday. Last week was too crazy with earth and science day. Please send something…[My Girl] will get something out of the garbage to talk about if you don’t!! She doesn’t miss an opportunity for a spotlight!"



Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When my life was very different for 16 months

Lately I have been thinking about a short period in my life when I was a true stay at home mom and housewife. It was for a very short 16 months. April 2004-August 29th, 2005. I think many of my readers will recognize the significance of that last date.

When we moved to New Orleans, I quit my career as a Web Usability Consultant at US Steel in Pittsburgh. We decided hubby made enough money for me to stay home full time with our 14 month old daughter.

At the time I thought it was harder than being a working parent. Was I ever wrong. I'll tell you what is harder. Being an "at home" working parent and stay at home mom at the same time. That is what I do now.

So needless to say (and I am not complaining here) I am endlessly busy. I have little to no time for myself. I am always either taking care of my kids or working at my computer. I barely have time to clean. Luckily, my hubby picks up the slack there for me in his little spare time. He cooks, does dishes and laundry. And if I ask nicely, cleans the bathrooms too.

Over Easter weekend my parents were generous enough to take us to Orange Beach, Alabama for a very much needed mini-vacation. I took the laptop but much to my pleasure there was no WiFi where we stayed. It was my excuse to say F-it! I didn't think about work. I didn't do any work. I didn't even read a magazine - although I took at least 10 with me.

It was that weekend that I started to have this reoccuring thought of those 16 months where I was carefree and living the good life. Money wasn't an issue for us. Hubby was always working. I just hung out with My Girl. We were on the go daily. Parks, zoo, aquarium, children's museums, play dates, mom's club events, shopping, exploring, visiting friends. And when hubby traveled - which was often- we had no schedule what-so-ever.

We ate dinner when we wanted and where we wanted. We sometimes ate it early and spent the hours between 4 and 9pm out running around. Maybe we'd get Wendy's and eat out of the back of my truck at the lakefront and then swing afterward. Go to Wal-mart and just spend hours looking around at everything and hanging out in every aisle of the toy section. There was no bedtime and no wake up time. We would stay up till 11pm watching TV. Sleep till 10am.

We were spontaneous. A friend would call in the AM (not too early everyone knew!) and say, "Want to drive to Waveland today with the kids and do the beach?" We would drop everything and be out the door in 30 minutes! I remember spending long days away from home. We would hit the children's museum in Gulfport, swim at the beach after and get Dairy Queen for the drive home. Arriving home around 5/6pm sunburnt and exhausted!

We often stopped by a friends house to visit for a few minutes only to stay until bedtime because said friend opened a bottle of wine and the kids were having too much fun. Sometimes we even had dinner there.

The girl and I had no schedule. No one to answer too. No deadlines. No dinnertime. No bedtimes. No alarm clocks. Nothing. We were just two girls hanging out in our new home in the south. We were enjoying the mild weather all year. I remember the many times in February I would put the girl in the jogging stroller and roller blade the trace and lakefront . Sometimes in the morning. Sometimes in the afternoon. Sometimes around dinner time. Today, I would have to make plans and schedule in an hour to rollerblade.

I felt good then. Happy. Content. Alive. It was a very bright time in my life.

The one vision that I keep remembering the most is when I was hanging out with a bunch of mom's club friends at the trailhead water spouts. We had been there all day. You could tell whose hubbies traveled as we were always the last to leave as we didn't have any reason to rush home for dinner. It was so nice out we lingered extra long. I mentioned feeling like having a chocolate shake. Another mom made a suggestion of a new pizza place that had just opened and had great shakes. On the spot we all agreed to just take the kids to dinner there. And our day long event turned into dinner out with a bunch of tired kids and we loved it!

I got to know other HOOT moms (Husbands Out Of Town) and we tried to eat out together once a week. Often Mexican. Kids always wanted Mexican. It was a fun time.

Things have changed a lot in my life since August 29th, 2005. Not all bad. Just different. Katrina threw us for a loop and turned our world upside down for almost a year. Hubby lost his job the day before our 2nd child was born in July 2006 and then started a business 4 months later. And now I have to work to make ends meet. And that is fine. I am not opposed to working at all. It is just that my easy life has turned into a very busy, very scheduled, very routine, very chaotic, very stressful life.

But I got a taste of the carefree life. And I got precious time with My Girl. Today, I see my hubby daily and we are much more of a family - a family of four, not just two. So the good life had a lot of ups and was fun, but now, we are more of a family. And that is more important than anything.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A different stimulus package

This was an article from the St. Petersburg Times Newspaper. My uncle emailed it to me.The Business Section asked readers for ideas on "HowWould You Fix the Economy?" Here is what one reader responded with.

Dear Mr. President,

Patriotic retirement: There's about 40 million people over 50 in the workforce - pay them $1 million apiece severance with the following stipulations:
1) They leave their jobs. Forty million job openings -Unemployment fixed.
2) They buy NEW American cars. Forty million cars ordered -Auto Industry fixed.
3) They either buy a house/pay off their mortgage - HousingCrisis fixed.

Can't get any easier than that!

So I ask, could it be that simple? Hmmm. Something to think about.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Being Two.

My two year old is amusing us daily! He says things that make my hubby and I just share "The look" and laugh.

The last two days he has been telling us over and over that "I no like hot water. I like warm water. Hot water is for girls."


"I no like that dip. That dip too spicy for me."

He is so adorable! He is a gem. I know. He is my boy. I get to say that about him and you, being my reader, get to read it!

Tonight, he wanted to lay with me at bedtime. We have a new rule that neither parent lies with either child at bedtime anymore. So I asked Sissy if she would let him lay with her. She was very reluctant. But being the good sister that she is she obliged. Right now, the two of them are snuggled in her bed together sleeping soundly and it is sweet enough to melt a mother's heart.

I love my kids.


Vera Bradley Deals!

I got an email recently from Vera Bradley and saw that my favorite fabric pattern is still on clearance! I just wish I could order it! Instead, I will share it with you and maybe someone else can take advantage of the great deal on it! And of course, while in there looking I found another fabric pattern that is retiring and I love as well. And it comes in a the large backpack and a wallet!

My hubby bought me a Vera Bradley backpack before we had our first child and I still have it! It is a black, yellow and white floral pattern. Not too floral that it is gaudy. (I have to admit I don't like all of her patterns!) Neutral color combination. I used it for both kids as the smaller diaper bag - ya know the one you go to when your kid gets a little older but doesn't require so much stuff - just a diaper, snack and sippy cup? But being so soft it was flexible I cold stuff in a light jacket or whatever when out on a day trip or such - all that with my wallet, phone and keys.

Anyway, here are the links to some great deals on Vera Bradley bags. There are many other cool things on sale as well. Some at serious markdowns!

Seaside Port Tote (my personal fav!)
$84 tote for $25!!


Seaside Hat
$27 hat for $10!!


Then, I saw these!

Cambridge Mini Zip Wallet
$27 wallet for $10!

Cambridge Large Backpack
$92 backpack for $36!!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Great Coffee Offer!

We have all heard of Gevalia and their coffee offers. Well, I saw this one and tested it out myself. You get 3 half pound coffee samples. You get to choose flavors, ground/bean, etc. FOR $3 ONLY! That includes shipping! And you get a free stainless travel mug. You can’t get 1 pound of coffee for $3 let alone 1.5 pounds and a mug shipped to you! Here is the only catch – you must cancel upon receipt of the coffee to no receive further shipments. Just make a note of that and cancel and you are all set!

Click here to order!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Another mom weighs in on saving a few bucks!

My friend, B, sent me this after reading my post on grocery secrets. It was too good not to post here and share!
I’m big on freezing food, too. We bought a freezer a long time ago and it is always packed, except during hurricane season. That way, you have a place to freeze meals when you make a double batch, meat that is on sale, ice cream on sale, etc.

There are certain foods that I ONLY buy when on sale (cuz why pay full price when they go on sale every few weeks) : crackers, cookies, ice cream, chicken, cereal, pizza, any kind of frozen dinner…and I’m sure much more, but can’t remember. Come to think of it, I buy almost every staple on sale only. Or at least shop at Walmart.

My husband says I’m really good at not wasting food. I get this from my mom and grandma (who lived during the Depression.) I plan my meals out for the week (usually I make 4 recipes) and I always make sure to go thru my fridge often to make sure we are using items. I keep an excel spreadsheet that lists all of my food in the freezer by date, so I always know what needs using up. I actually started this after the hurricane, so I can make sure I clear out most of my food before hurricane season and then build it back afterwards.

Speaking of spreadsheets, my grocery list is on a spreadsheet, and is organized by store aisle. I have all our staples on it, so it makes it super easy to make my weekly list. Plus, it makes it super easy if my husband has to shop for me, because he doesn’t have to guess which foods are on which aisle (and neither do I, come to think of it.)

I keep Bed Bath & Beyond coupons- did you know you can stockpile them and use (I think) up to 7 per shopping trip? (One coupon applied to one item, so if you have 2 items, bring 2 coupons.) Also, my Discover credit card offers reward points, so I redeem points for Bed Bath and Beyond, so in effect, I don’t pay anything at this store.

I also redeem Discover points for Borders books. I also have become a huge fan of the library. It’s so cool to read books for free now!!

I agree with Amy- watch the clearance racks. One time at Whole Foods, after Valentine’s Day, they had premium chocolates (I’m talking they were around $10-15 a box) for $1 a box!!! I’m not kidding. I bought every last box and was giddy for a week. Kind of on the same note, I buy a lot of my favorite chocolate (Dove promises) after holidays. I can get them for about $1 a bag, when normally they sell for $3.50 or even $4.00. I buy 5 or 6 bags, enough to last til the next holiday. Who cares if they are heart shaped or egg shaped.

I saw this guy on the Today Show that said most cars today need oil changes every 5-7,000 miles, not the 3000 we’re used to. Check this with your mechanic, but I’m going with it. The downside is that you need to check your tire pressure more often and at least check your oil dipstick to make sure your oil is full/okay.

If I’ve got the itch for a new/different piece of clothing, I go to Granny’s Attic (Samaritan Center). Not only do they have cheap clothes, but they are usually name brands because they are pretty choosy about what they put out. And, all proceeds go to help the women’s shelter. Also, they give all kids a free toy, and my kids think that is the Cat’s Meow.

I only use about ½ - 2/3 of the quantities recommended for laundry and dishwasher soap. Everything gets just as clean, it’s cheaper and it’s better for the environment. (But I’ve got a long way to go to be green, because I’m still using paper napkins and plastic bags- shame on me! )

I could go on and on, cuz I really am Queen of Cheap. Sometimes, it’s not even about necessarily saving the money because I have to, but why pay more when you don’t have to? And honestly, I get a (cheap) thrill from finding a fantastic bargain. That is FUN of it, I think!


My notes: I also used less than recommended for laundry and dishwasher soap because a repairman of such appliances told me that secret about a year ago. Also, my mechanic also told me going 5,000 miles between oil changes is fine - especially for newer cars. I have started doing that since I bought my car 4 years ago. Doing fine!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Grocery Shopping Secrets!

Okay. My friend Leslie who subscribes to my Freebie/Deal Distribution list asked about my use of coupons and scoring deals. Unfortunately, in our area we don’t have a grocery (that I know of at least) that accepts double or triple coupons. But, here are my secrets to shopping locally. Now, I know many of my distribution list subscribers and blog readers are not local, but you might find a tip or two that can apply to you or you can try to do the same at your local stores.

1. If you go to Fresh Market near closing time (9pm I think) and order a pound or whatever of ground chuck/beef they will give you a lot more than you ordered cuz they have to throw it out at the end of the night. I haven’t done this but my friend has. I keep it in my head though in case the opportunity ever presents itself and I am going by at that time!

2. Winn Dixie runs BOGO on meat all the time. They have it for other items, but the meat is the best deal. I have been there and only purchased the BOGO deals and saved $72!!!!We stock up on meat and put it in the freezer. Then, we plan our meals around what is in the freezer. You can also combine coupons with their BOGO deals. Example: I had a coupon for $1 off a box of microwave popcorn. The same brand was BOGO. If one box cost, say, $2 and I use my coupon I can get two boxes for $1!!! I try to do this a lot!

3. When hubby is making a quick stop at Rouse’s on his way home for like one item needed he will do a “browse” of the meat area. He has found four pork chops for $2 and great weird deals like that. Also, the guys in the meat department will tell you when it is going on sale. So if you know you are going to want a steak or roast for a certain night you can ask when it will be on sale. Also, Rouse’s is now taking the internet coupons you print online. I know Wal-mart takes them and Winn-Dixie too.

4. Rouse’s on 22 has an end cap clearance rack. “Manager’s Specials” it says I think. It is up front near the self checkout/dog food aisle. Hubby and I hit that every time we are in there. I once went in to Rouse’s to grab a birthday snack for my daughter to take to school the next morning. On my way to find the juice boxes I passed the rack and found EXACTLY 20 Capris-Suns for 10cents a piece. Well, with 20 kids in Kate’s class that worked out perfectly. Apparently the boxes got damaged (I was told) and they were just trying to sell them individually. I have bought dented cans of fruit and veggies for 25 cents and lots of other great finds! You never know what will be on that rack. The manager tells me most of the time the stuff found there is either the last one of its kind or it is an item they will no longer be carrying and it is taking up shelf space elsewhere. OH! I once got large bottles of Tide detergent for $5!!! Employee said they weren’t carrying that High Efficiency one for that brand anymore and those were the last 5 bottles!!

5. Yesterday I took a few coupons to target and also printed off some Target only coupons online. I used a Target only $1 off any furniture cleaning product coupon with a Pledge $2 off any Multi-Surface spray and got the $3.87 new Multi-Surface spray for 87 cents!
Winn Dixie by the causeway bridge also has a clearance table all the time in the back by the restrooms and stock room doors. I don’t find the greatest stuff there. But I always look just in case.

6. Wal-mart often has a rolling shelve cart out in the middle of the refrigerated aisle (near the cheese) that has clearance food/seasonal items on it. I almost always find something on there at a great deal. Something that I will actually use and think is cheap! For instance, I got some fancy salad dressing that my hubby loves for 50 cents. I got a load of Hanna Montana mini guitar keychains for 25 cents each. Gave them as prizes at Kate’s birthday party. I found Stove Top Stuffing for 25 cents a box. I got 1lb bag of Starbucks coffee for $5. Recently bought several cans of Del Monte pears for 25 cents each. I’ve bought all kinds of stuff there for really cheap prices. It hasn’t been out there lately. But man, around and after the holidays it was hot! Even my hubby knows to look for that rack now. I’ve been training him ;-)

So there ya go! Have fun! I hope I gave you at least one tip you didn’t know!

If you want to add yourself to my Freebie/Deals Distribution list just shoot me an email and let me know what email address to use.


Friday, March 13, 2009

And my 6 year old says . . .

Last night My Girl asked about our old dog Dakota. She was just shy of 3 when Dakota died. She often asks about her. Well, last night hubby explained she died shortly after Katrina hit. My Girl started to cry hard. She said she really missed her. She asked a million questions. Like, where is she now? Well, we like to be honest and told her that she was cremated and her remains are in a can in the guest bedroom. Of course I had to explain what cremated was, and why a can, etc.

Eventually after more questioning, she rolled over to go to sleep and I remained in her bed awhile longer with her. Just when I thought she was fast asleep she popped up and looked at me with big eyes and a smile. I said, "What?"

She said, "Can I take Dakota's can of dust to school tomorrow for show-n-tell?"

Funny girls

Tuesday was another night out with the girls. We meet up monthly. I have written about them before. I laughed my ass off. It is so nice to go out with friends once a month and just relieve the stress.

Being a Tuesday night, none of us really wanted to go but someway, somehow we got ourselves there and ended up having a roaring time. It turned a not so thrilling day into a very fun and relaxing evening.

What's our secret? Being open and ourselves. Daring to laugh at each other and ourselves. Sharing stories, concerns, frustrations, achievements, life. And most of all . . . never taking offense. Our pokes at each other are from knowing each other and pure admiration.

Thank you ladies. Your friendship is valuable and I look forward to next month!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tips for you all on taking advantage of freebies.

I've been posting a lot of freebies lately and started a Freebie Distribution list (if you want to be on it just send me your email address.). Mamma Loves suggested I post my tips that I recently included in one of my mass emails with two new freebies that you can also find below:

1. When you register, use a free email account (yahoo, gmail) that you don’t’ really use so you don’t get all the spam email.
2. If you use your main email, simply Unsubscribe to the first email you get from the company. Usually found at the bottom of any marketing email you get.
3. Register under your spouse’s/roommates names to get two samples. If they have an office address or you yourself have an office address you can use that works too.
For instance if it a really good sample, I will register as me to our home address. And register my hubby at his work address. But it is his own office so no biggie. I don’t recommend if you work at a big company!
4. Make sure you always UNCHECK the box that says “Yes, I would like to receive communications/newsletters/etc from that company” before you submit the form.

Free socks from Lucy Store.
Only located in certain states. Use store locater to find one in your state. Unfortunately not one in LA. Can’t be used online.

Free sample of new Caress Evenly Gorgeous™ Exfoliating Body Wash.
Be sure to check the appropriate box before you submit to get the sample.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Don't fight the curl.

Everyone is into super straight hair these days. I have officially decided to wait out the trend and am convinced curly will be back someday soon - hopefully.

Above you see three pictures of me. On the left is when my hair gets done for an event and takes advantage of my natural wave, body and curl. It was actually a bit straighter and done professionally that day because I was in a wedding. But by the time this picture was taken, my hair was starting to fight back.

In the middle I again had my hair done professionally for an event and this was taken at the end and it was still relatively straight. I think I do not look as much like myself in this picture. It is cute, but I am so used to body. This look is too flat for me. But, with straight you get flat . . .

In the right picture you see me in a daily picture. I did my hair myself. A normal day. Probably didn't put much time into it. Just the norm. I can tell though that I did try to round brush out some of the curl. But as you see at the bottom of my hair, my hair is again fighting back.

Recently, I was at breakfast with some girlfriends and all were talking hair straightening. I said I always wanted to try one of those expensive straightners before investing in one. Because I bought a cheap one once and it did nothing. A friend offered to let me borrow hers. I was elated. I went right home and fired it up. And guess what? I hated my hair. Same result as the cheap one.

I think straightners make my hair look coarse and dry. It always looks like I tried to straighten it and did a really poor job. I want the silky smooth look similar to the pic in the middle above. When I look at that photo I remember how long it took her to get my hair to look like that. I groan with the thought of investing so much of my limited time to my hair to get that look.

My friend tells me the reason that I might not like how the straightner is working is because I need to apply specific products and need to really take my time. Ok. Now we are talking more money and time!

So, I am giving up. I don't have the time or money to get straight her. So I decided that I won't fight the curl! Besides, just like sexy, it's gonna come back! I just know it . . .

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Free Food!

Get two free food items by requesting the coupon!

Betty Crocker Warm Delights

Kashi Frozen Entree

Since I am always sharing this kind of stuff, I am planning to make a distribution list about Freebies or Extreme Deals I find that I think are good ones. If you would like to be on my distribution list (I promise to only send the good stuff) just let me know!

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Freebies

Bally's Total Fitness Free Trial - Fill out short form and choose your location for a free 7-day trial membership. I don't think we have Bally's in our area. At least not that I know of. But this one is for my non-local readers!

Touch of Gray - Print a coupon for a free box of Touch of Gray for the old man in your life ;-) This one cracks me up! Request as a gag if you are too young to have graying friends/husbands/fathers!

Sorry haven't written much lately! Very busy with my work - which is great! So in the meantime, enjoy the freebie leads!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Photo Book

Shutterfly - Get a free 8x8 20 page photo book from Shutterfly. *Offer ends March 10, 2009. Promo code: PHOTOBOOKS.

Look, mommy, my poop!

The boy is potty training and wearing his big boy undies. I took him to Wal-Mart yesterday. Upon arrival I took him to the potty. I wasn’t there but 30 minutes. In the checkout I smell something. I feel his butt and realize he pooped his pants. I pay and know the bathroom is right there upfront and I have extra clothes in my purse.

As I am putting the bags in the cart he says,”Look mommy, my poop!” I look and there on the floor is his poop. It fell out of his underwear onto the floor. A big turd right there in the middle of the Wal-mart checkout. I asked the cashier for a napkin. She asked what happened. I told her and you should have seen the look on her face. She was young and probably doesn’t have kids. The lady behind me in line and her teenage daughter both leaned over their cart and looked. They both scrunched up their noses. I simply bent down picked it up and walked away with My Boy in tow walking like a cowboy because his butt had poop in it.

When I got to the car I just started laughing at what a scene that was. It didn’t really phase me but the looks on everyone’s faces. I can only imagine what they were thinking.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Red Hot Tea Recipe

A friend made this tea as gifts for all her coworkers. I got to taste it once and it is amazingly VERY GOOD! I was skeptical but loved it! She simply mixed all the ingredients and put into a cute tin for gift giving. I loved it so much I asked her to share the recipe with me!

Hot Spiced Tea
2 cups Tang
2 cups sugar
1 cup Instant Tea with lemon unsweet ( I use the Diet tea with lemon)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cup Imperial Red Hots

Mix all ingredients together and add 2 TBS to a cup of boiling water.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Doodle 4 Google

This is such a great opportunity for kids who are artistic!

Doodle 4 Google

Read about the competition going on now and be sure to watch the video on the right from last year's competition!

Monday, January 26, 2009

And my five year old says . . .

At dinner my 5 year old (six next month!) asks how a telephone works. I passed that one to daddy for an explanation. He gives here a very detailed and scientific explanation. She laps it up!

He ends by saying, "So when Nana calls, her voice travels in tiny bits of info super fast over the phone lines and then they all come together on your phone and you can hear what she says."

I add, "Yup, and they travel that fast over thousands of miles. Cool huh?"

She says, "Man, Nana's voice must be really tired."

Monday, January 19, 2009

What am I doing during the inauguration?

The same damn thing I have done during every other one . . . working. I don't think I have ever in my life watched one. Have you?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's in your favorites? Part 5

Every now and then I like to share what I have saved in my browser favorites. So here are links I would like to share this time!

Freebies 4 Mom - I forget how I found this site but have since subscribed and find her posts to be some of the most useful emails I receive. Lots of great giveaways, coupons, freebies. Love it! Check it out. Subscribe and see if you love it too!

Don't Look Now! - Add this blog to your favs if for nothing other than to look at her beautiful work. I wish I could be this creative and crafty. I absolutely love her designs. Definitely my style!

Vincent Shoes - I stumbled across this and so want to buy these adorable shoes. Very European looking. Wish they made them in my size. Expensive. But no more so than Stride Rite and affordable when on sale. Currently have a lot 50% off! ( I so want to buy something from this site!)

Etsy - Your place to buy all things handmade. I so like to visit regularly just to view the 'handpicked' items on the homepage! Nice to support the hand crafters!

Buy Gift Certificates Half Price - For those living in the New Orleans or Baton Rouge area. Get half price gift certificates for hardware stores, boutiques, restaurants, entertainment and more! If you don't live around here try for discounted restaurant gift certificates for cities all over the US!

Louisana Northshore- official website of the Nola Northshore. From here or not you will love this site if not meerly for the great design. For both locals and soon to be visitors!

To read my other "What's in your favorites?" posts:
What's in your favorites? Part 1
What's in your favorites? Part 2
What's in your favorites? Part 3
What's in your favorites? Part 4

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Stranger makes my day

I was standing in line for the salad bar at the church dinner tonight and the woman in front of me turned around looked at me for a split second and her eyes lit up and she said, "Well, hello!" Thinking I must have met her before or something I smiled right back and gave her a cheery "Hello!" She said, "My, you are just beautiful! You have great eyes." and then she simply turned around and started fixing her salad.

For a split second I was taken aback. Not embarrassed, but sorta shocked. It was a strange incident. However, it appeared to be so sincere that I felt good inside and walked a little bit taller and smiled a bit more. It made my day.

I can probably count on my hand how many times a stranger has told me something like that. My hubby says it a lot and friends will tell you that you look great when you are dressed up to go out or wearing something new or different. But it is not common for me to hear a compliment like this one from a complete stranger.

I remember once in High School some random parent at a track meet told me I had great skin. The look on my face must have been something as I had never in my life heard anyone tell me that. But I never forgot it and started to believe I really did have great skin! The second person in my life to ever tell me that was my husband the first day I met him. He also thought I had nice elbows . . . Elbows????

Incidents such as the one tonight remind me of an episode of Oprah I watched. She told the story how a wife of a politician visited her hometown and as she was greeting the crowd she paid Oprah a compliment on her beauty. Oprah never has forgotten that and it contributed to her self-esteem and completely affected her life. Oprah had the woman on her show and she of course did not remember paying that compliment to Oprah many years ago but was gratefully that she had such a profound affect on her.

So I would like to thank the lady who paid me such a wonderful compliment. You are an angel. And you hit me on a day that wasn't going the greatest. I looked at myself in the mirror when I got home and saw a pale tired face with dark circles. Maybe you saw that too and thought if you told me the opposite of what you saw it would help me feel better. Well, if that is true it sure did. WHile standing in front of the mirror I closed my eyes for a few seconds, opened them back up and smiled. There, now that must be who she saw!

Monday, January 12, 2009

If These Walls Could Talk

This post is written as if my house were talking and selling itself to a potential buyer.It is part of a Monday Mission.

Welcome to our home. The current family has been here almost 5 years and has really fixed me up with the biggest change being to my yard. I used to have a lot of vegetation and you couldn't even see the neighbors to the left. Well, since the hurricane the owners and neighbors have certainly trimmed things back a lot. I get a lot more sun as they took away a lot of shade. I used to have at least 14 more pines shading me than I do now. In addition a big shady White Oak in the backyard fell during Katrina and that was a big loss to me and the owners. At least I got a new roof out of that horrible storm.

Well, if you step through the front door into the foyer you will see the Madisonville Wooden Boat Show 2004 poster framed and center stage. That does not stay with the house. It represents the owners first year in Lousisiana.

To your left is the the office/toy room/craft room/dance room. From this room I hear a lot of loud music and the owners are often dancing like crazy people. They also play the music loud from here so they can hear it in the kitchen while they are cooking and eating dinner. Excuse the mess as they have two small children who love to pull out every toy every single day. The craft table is always hosting a project in progress by the owner's 5 year old. Watch your step over the GeoTrax train set. This room was completely gutted after Katrina. It has all new bamboo wooden floors and new can lights and a ceiling fan. The walls hold a nice green color by Ralph Lauren.

Straight ahead is the living room. Yes, I know it is long and narrow. To the left is the TV viewing area (also the extended dance floor from the play room) and to the right is the sitting area around the fireplace. This room used to be all puke brown when the current owners bought it but they have updated with these nice colors. You will also notice they have painted all the dark wood stained trim - white!

Moving through the living room you will see I offer a very nice sized eat-in kitchen with a big island which is topped with a new granite counter top. (It really needs to be painted if you ask me. Owners keep talking about it but never get around to it.) All appliances have been replaced by the current owners. Let's take a peak in this nice stainless steel refrigerator - Oh! Look at that they have Mott's Pomegrante Apple Sauce - the wife's new fav. Would you like one? No. Ok - moving on.

There is no garage but this double car carport is right off the kitchen making it convenient for hot sunny and rainy days. And attached to the carport is a nice size shed and a covered concrete area for storing outdoor toys, an extra fridge and a gardening table. From here you can see that the whole exterior of the house where there is wood siding or trim has been painted. It used to be a horrible peach!

If you come over to these french doors off the living area you will get a good view of their backyard. It is a 1/2 acre lot. You can still see where trees have been removed or fell down from storms. There used to be a fence around the backyard but the current owners removed it as it was getting to be ugly. It has really opened up the backyard and with all the trees gone there is room to put in a huge pool if you so desire.

You can also see that the driveway wraps all the way around the back of the house and there is extra parking at the end of the drive. All that concrete makes a great area for the current owners kids to ride bikes, play, skate, draw with chalk or whatever their hearts desire. Big bonus to this house!

Follow me down this hallway. There are three bedrooms on the right and a guest bath on the left. The guest bath is rather large with two full size sinks on each side with large vanities. A nice touch.

The room at the end of the hall also was gutted after Katrina and also has new bamboo wood floors and new can lights and ceiling fan.

Down this last hallway is actually an addition that was built onto this house after a fire. It is the master bedroom. Yeah, nice huh? It and the kitchen are the main reasons the current owners bought this house - well, that and all the shade we no longer have . . .

Anyway, this room is VERY large as you can see. It has its own sitting area and obviously can house large furniture. I will have to discuss with the current owners but the bedroom set might be staying. If they don't have this big of a room in their next house they can't take this bedroom set.

And finally, here is the master bath. It has his/her sinks, a jacuzzi tub, steam shower and private toilet area with a bidet and a walk-in closet. As the wife of the house always says, "The people who put in this bathroom were obviously french." Why? Well, there is also a waist height showerhead in the shower that serves the same function as the bidet. . . . Hmmmmmm. As you can see the current owners use the bidet as a magazine rack. It does in fact work. The water is just turned off right now. The daughter of the owners turned it on full tilt when they first moved in and it sprayed to the ceiling and drenched the toilet area. It was quite a mess to clean up.

So that is it. The owners have tried to take good care of me in the past 5 years. Replacing things as needed. Oh! Which reminds me, the air conditioner is brand new. Yes, it is that big box on the patio that looks like a rocket ship! If I were you I would have that moved off the patio to the side of the house. Only costs about $500. If you can afford it . . . I have to say I am glad they replaced that old unit. It used to keep me up at night as it was so damn loud that you couldn't talk to each other when outside. Even the neighbors could hear it when it was running.

So, take another walk through if you want. The neighbors are great, the neighborhood is great and it is one of best public school districts in the state. The neighbhorhood boasts easy access to all major highways and commuting routes. None of that info was known by the current owners when they bought the house but they sure are glad they picked me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

It's a wrap!

I just realized I haven't posted since December 17th! Well, makes sense. My brother arrived on the 18th as my first holiday visitor. My mom left yesterday as my last holiday visitor! Phew!

So here is my holiday wrap up in random as it comes to me order!

- Severe fog on bridge the night brother arrived. Had to go through Slidell since we couldn't cross causeway bridge. We were 45 minutes late. Bridge was open on way home but had to go 35mph. Was a long night . . .

- When my parents tried to get here they got stuck in Atlanta cuz their first flight was late and they missed their connection. Got in VERY late after much running around the ATL airport trying to get on other flights out.

- My Girl sat on Santa's lap this year! Finally . . . Boy did too, but he did last year. He is not afraid. We attended a Santa party at a friends house and it was perfect. She just watched all the other kids first and then got up the nerve and up she went!

- My Girl got her ears pierced. It was her big idea and she begged a lot! I wanted to wait till her 6th birthday (feb) but daddy gave in (surprise to me!) and said ok a little earlier. She was brave and scared at the same time. Cried a little. Nana was there to see this big life moment for her. She picked heart shaped light pink stones for her first earrings. So cute.

- Went to New Orleans Art Museum for first time while family was here. We were fortunate to accidentlly happen upon Prospect 1 exhibits which were way cool. We all agreed our favorite exhibit was Willie Birch's drawings in the entrance. We also enjoyed the Paul Villinski's Emergency Response Studio. He makes a FEMA trailer green! I hope to be able to get to the Prospect 1 locations throughout the city before it is over. . .

- Took my brother and mom into the 9th ward to see Brad Pitt's Make It Right project.

- Ate at Deanie's, Dragos, Felix's Oyster Bar (hated it).

- Met Chef Leah Chase of Dooky Chase's restaurant. Wanted to eat there but the day we showed up they were closed for a wedding rehearsal. Dang. Did you know she is from Madisonville?

- Visited the Covington Farmer's Market and bought a great pepper jelly, banana pepper mustard, northern white bean salad and some incredible salsa! All homemade and cheap!

- My mom cleaned my house completely twice while here. She even mopped all my floors! Did all our laundry while here. Can she stay forever or at least visit once a week? Ohio is really cold in the winter mom. Just a thought . . .

- Kid's got their swing set that Uncle Greg bought them set up and love it. Nana spent many hours with the kids swinging and sliding.

- Uncle Greg taught my son how to shake his booty to music and now he does it all the time at home and in public. He looks ridiculous!

- My family time was low key compared to last year but nice. We laughed a lot and for some odd reason danced a lot. There was always music coming out of our computer and very loudly. Daddy played DJ and we all danced together. Everything from Christmas to Frank Sinatra to Doo Wop.

- My brother's pipes froze back at his house in Ohio while here. His furnace pilot went out for some reason. He went home to water damage all over his house. His neighbor saw water coming down his driveway from his garage and called him. He told him the code to his garage door and sure enough he had a problem. Luckily he was able to deal with some of it via phone from here. Lots of floors and ceilings to rip out now . . .

- We saw the movie Marley & Me. Made me cry.

- A friend passed away.