Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Birthday Boy

A certain litle one in our house turned the big T-W-O recently. I had imagined a much bigger 2nd birthday, but we instead opted for a low-key celebration at home with home-baked cake and a visit to Chuck E Cheese (pretty much the only heated place around here a toddler would appreciate).

Being so close to Christmas, we were dry for fresh ideas on what to give Ethan for his birthday. Those who know me would probably agree that Ethan is no stranger to the front of the camera... but since he realized he could hold a camera and push the button himself, his interest has been diverted more towards TAKING the pictures. So... we did what every reasonable, non-spoiling parents would do. We spent $70 on a "kid tough" digital camera for a 2 year old! :)


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Old Friends

can sometimes be the most intuitive.

I finally called her back today... after missing at least six calls dating back to Thanksgiving. I spent the first 10 minutes of the phone call making excuses... the same ones I've been trying to convince myself why I've been so out of it lately.

"I thought for sure you either fell off the face of the earth, or you were depressed," she said.

I didn't have an excuses for that.

It's just life, I kept thinking. Or is it?

Sunday, January 06, 2008


How unlucky is it that I met THREE different tow guys in the last 72 hours...

There was Joe, whom I met on Thursday when he took my car to the dealership for repairs after Mike finally raised the surrender flag. Stupid thing just quit starting last week. Something to do with the wiring for my security system that is messing up with the starter? I was plainly annoyed, but I figured... at least we have another working car. I spoke too soon.

I was on my way this morning to Best Buy to return a hard drive I purchased yesterday when Mike's car decided it was his turn to take a break. Luckily, I had JUST exited the highway when the engine stopped. I slowly led the car as close to the curb but I was still impeding traffic.

I waited... restarted... nothing.
I waited... restarted... still nothing.

I frantically called Mike to see if it's something I could somehow fix -- yeah, wishful thinking. Believe it or not, I've fixed a flat tire before on my own... but this one, I was S-O-L. So I called roadside assistance and they told me the tow company won't be there for another hour or so.

So for the meantime I tried to entertain Ethan with animal crackers and some annoying farm toy. I tried to re-start the car again a couple of times to no avail -- I kept thinking I should've taken that shop class in high school instead of ceramics. Ethan kept yelling "it's broke!" to the sound of the battery struggling, a laugh I really needed. There we were, broken down and impeding traffic... I was so nervous we were going to get hit that I didn't even take Ethan out of his carseat. You would think hazard lights and a hood propped up would clue people in to slow down and change lanes but most of them looked like they weren't even paying attention and would come so close my heart skipped a beat everytime they passed. I finally stood outside and battled the cold so I could be more visible. I'd rather be cold than some asshole to hit the car my child is in. The bright side was, we weren't on the interstate, it was still light out, and it wasn't snowing and 0 degrees out. I guess you learn to count your blessings at the worst times.

I was surprised to see how many good samaritans stopped by to help.

The first guy was an older guy wearing a suit and driving an SUV with a license plate "LTC MP". Military man, I wondered. He said he didn't know anything about cars, but that he hoped if his daughter was stranded, that someone would stop and try to help. I graciously thanked him and he was on his way. The second guy was an even older guy who left his wife in the car while he diagnosed the problem wasn't because I ran out of gas. I graciously thanked him too and he was on his way. Third guy was a younger clean-cut guy in an Ambercrombie & Fitch sweater with Texas plates. He said he didn't know anything about cars either, but he did help push my car to a turn lane a couple of feet ahead at least to get me out of the main traffic. He offered to get me and Ethan some food (it was around lunch time) but I said we were ok, so I graciously thanked him and he was off. The fourth guy reminded me of Mike's Uncle Forest -- scruffy beard, sporting a mullet and know an awful lot about cars. I tried to start the car again and he knew right away it was a problem with the fuel pump. Too bad it's not something he can fix on the spot. I graciously thanked him and he was off.

An hour and a half later, I met Greg. He hauled the car (me and Ethan in tow) 5 miles down the road to Sears Auto Center. It was attached to the mall so I figured I'd walk around a bit, they'd tell me they fixed my car, and we'll be on our way. I guess I'm just not that lucky. 2 hours later, the guys at the shop calls me and says it looks like a bad fuel pump but that they can't fix it. Well, that's freaking great.

Next think you know, I was on the phone AGAIN with roadside assistance, asking for a tow truck to take my car ACROSS THE STREET to Firestone -- who claims they CAN fix it. By then, I was up to my wits end with a very bored toddler and no interest whatsoever to shop. Yeah, really. Who knew I'd EVER complain about being stranded in a mall? Another 2 hours later, I met Frank the Town Man who had to drive all the way from Graceland, Kentucky just to haul my car across the street. Of course, by then, the shop was already closed so I called my friend to take me and Ethan home.

Alas, I have 2 dead cars, a teething toddler and a husband in the hospital. My friend says it's probably not a good time for me to play the lottery. Now, the tow guys didn't sing or bring an army, but they were pretty helpful and Thank God they decided to answer their phones on a Sunday afternoon since apparently no one in West Virginia wanted to.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Crazy Coupon Lady

Let me preface this by saying... there are far worse things to be addicted to than saving money. But, I have to admit, I (may or may not) have gone a little coo-coo lately.

Nevermind that I have enough batteries to power up an entire city....

Total cost: less than $5

Or enough soap/body wash to bathe a football team....

Total cost: $0

The most bothersome stack actually lies on top of our kitchen cabinets (no other place to put them)... each chronologically arranged according to expiration date. Ethan is set with 100% juice until August, or I could start watering them down around May, then he should be set for the rest of the year! :)

Total cost: $0

HOW, you ask?

I got the batteries from CVS, using a combination of their store coupons and manufacturer's coupons. For 2 weeks before Christmas, CVS had their Energizer 8-pack batteries on sale for $5.29. Someone in their corporate bigwigs decided to give us an early Christmas present and released a CVS coupon for $5 off, plus some of the battery packs had a $1 manufacturer's coupon (peelie) on them that I used on top of the CVS coupon.

The math: $5.29 batteries + $.99 filler (usually a pack of CVS Jelly Bellies for Mike) - $5.00 off CVS coupon - $1 Energizer coupon = roughly around $.30 out of pocket after tax.

I also got the Johnsons & Johnsons soap from CVS. The buddies soap and travel size body wash are .99 each, and CVS had a coupon for $2 off any J&J product.

The juice boxes, I acquired from various stores - Walmart, Kmart, Kroger - within a span of about a month. Some required "special trips" while the others I just bought during a regular trip to the groceries. I did not spend a penny on them courtesy of a free coupon I got from the Nestle website. I had some bottles too but I found that the juice boxes were easier to pack-and-go. At some point, I'm sure I had at least 50 but I've lost count since then. I even gave some to a local women's shelter and to a sponsored family at the daycare. I'm almost saddened to say the coupon's expired. No more free juice for this crazy coupon lady. :(

Now, I'm not a complete virgin in the couponing world. I even had one of those cheesy coupon organizers at some point -- mostly collected them for formula and diapers -- although I probably shouldn't call it cheesy since I desperately need one now that I'm hooked.

I wonder where I can get a coupon for a coupon organizer?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

When Snow Falls on a California Girl

Well, it's official. Vacation is over. No more waking up to 65 degrees and the only worry is what to do for entertainment that day or where to go for lunch. No more default babysitters. No more Thai food.

Now it's back to the cold, snowy mountains of WV.. in my little cubicle world piled with superfluous responsibilities and inexorable stress.

I know this is going to sound cliche coming from a transplant, but... I freaking hate the snow. Sure it looks pretty for about 15 seconds, and then it becomes just itty bitty pieces of cold manifesting on my cheeks... and my toes. Not to mention it sends me on a frenzy of paranoia, packing my car with boxes of juice and warm blankets.

I hate driving in it.

I hate walking in it.

I almost hate living in it.

Highlights of the past month to come, I promise. Oh, and Happy 2008.


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