Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Works For Me Wednesdays: How To Volunteer When You Don’t Have the Time

I’ve always been a firm believer of paying it forward. I was a girlscout throughout grade school. In high school, some of my Saturdays consisted of waking up at 5am to help peel 500 potatoes for the local soup kitchen. In college, I spent a lot of time as a youth leader for the youth ministry, and once, I helped fix a home for a very deserving family through Habitat for Humanity. In my few years as an Army wife, I spent a lot of time with the Family Readiness Group, a nonprofit organization that helps families when their Soldiers are deployed.

Nowadays, being a working mom doesn’t leave me with very much time to dedicate somewhere outside of my work and family. Physically, anyway…

Thankfully, there’s plenty of opportunities for virtual volunteering! In this day and age, you’d be surprised how much you could do from home and over the internet. One of the organizations I’ve worked with recently, Youth Technology & Education Center in St. Louis Missouri, asked me to design a postcard to thank all their sponsors and contributors.

All it took were a few emails to get that simple sense of contribution -- as little as it seems.

I found them through Volunteer Match. It’s easy to search by location, by areas of interest, by groups and you can filter for virtual opportunities. But of course, if you’re so inclined to volunteer the old-fashion way, there’s plenty of opportunities for those too!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Splish Splash

Since both my camera and Mike’s camera croaked last week – I dropped mine and Ethan dropped Mike’s – AND I can’t even hold my nikon because of my cast…

I’m resorting to archives (for now) until we get a replacement.

These are actually only 2-3 weeks old… taken during one of Ethan’s fun times in the tab. It’s probably getting to that closing point where it’s going to start getting weird taking photos of him in the bath… for now, I think we’re okay!

Ethan actually loves taking bath -- or as he calls it “water down there”. Recently, he’s gotten used to taking showers – he calls it “rain”.


Love is....

...letting him be stubbly.

I don’t know about you, but I personally do not like stubbles. And this particular dislike of mine resulted in a cunningly provoked fight between me and the hubby.

I don’t like it. I think it makes a man look grungy and dirty, like they don’t care to take care of themselves. I think it’s ugly. And it feels “funny”.

Case in point: Ethan tried to give Mike a kiss one time and scowled “Your chin hurt my mouth, daddy”.

He insists he’s doing it for “Mustache March”…… it’s apparently a whole underground movement against clean-shaven faces all over the country. And I say, if I wanted a Chewbacca, I would’ve married one!

In fairness, Mike has had to shave everyday for the past 4 years because he was REQUIRED to (uniform and all), and now that he doesn’t have to, I suppose I could cut him a little slack. He did shave for an interview 2 weeks ago, and as a token of peace, shaved again yesterday.

So now, peace has been restored in our household.

And I promise to be a little more lenient with the mustache/beard rules, AS LONG AS HE NEVER lets it grow out like this guy.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Coupon: Free Arbys Roast Burger with purchase of ANY drink

You can print the coupon above (click to enlarge and then print) or you can get your own by signing up for the ARBYS EXTRAS program. Fill out the form and they will email you a welcome coupon good for 7 days after you activate the coupon.

A small fountain drnk is around $1.60 so you can get a decent meal for under 2 bucks!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Coupon: Aeropostale 30% Off Friends and Family Sale

Valid March 19 - March 22

AND you can use it on top of their clearance! EDIT: Apparently, this varies from store to store.

Get coupon here

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pink is the New Black

I finally saw my Orthopedic after having surgery done 2 weeks ago on my thumb. They took the surgical splint off, took one look at the pin protruding out of my skin, and said,

"See you in 4 weeks!"


4 more weeks of this!?! Though I can't complain, especially after hearing about actress Natasha Richardson's skiing accident that left her brain dead. My prayers go out to her family.

That just looks disgusting, and yet I can't stop looking at it......

Who woulda thought I would pick pink?

Now I have to buy new pink wardrobe to match!

Coupon: FREE Ticket Upgrade to 3D showing of Monsters vs Aliens

Bank of America is providing free ticket upgrades to watch the 3D version of Monsters vs Aliens that is being released in theaters on March 27. To clarify, this is not a free ticket to the movie. You essentially get to watch the 3D version (around $12) for the price of a regular ticket (around $8). So if you were planning on seeing it anyway, like we are, you can upgrade to the 3D and save a few bucks -- or enough to splurge in the concession stand :)

I've seen a show in 3D before and it was amazing, I have a feeling Ethan will love this one!

Go to this link and follow the prompts. You'll be emailed a code(s) - you can get up to 4 - from BofA that you have to activate/redeem online for a ticket that you can print and take to the theater.

Each code is unique so hurry while it lasts!

Works For Me Wednesdays: Swapping Instead of Shopping

One girl’s old rags is another girl’s treasure!

I somehow ran into this idea surfing through the web and I thought it was brilliant….

It’s a phenomenon in the frugal world of bargain shopping — especially these days. And heck, you CAN’T get any better than FREE!!!! There’s a huge organization set up that does only swaps, but they haven’t posted any LA events… so we decided to try to pull one off on our own.

The idea is simple:
1) Everyone brings in clothes, shoes and accessories they just simply don’t love anymore and are taking up precious closet space
2) We come together, put them in piles, and look at what everyone else brought
3) What’s lefts gets taken to charity

My sister and I started posting on Craigslist and telling friends/co-workers about the idea. The response was pretty overwhelming. Those who couldn’t make it wrote emails begging us to organize another one (before the first one even started!) Next thing you know, there are 33 people who had RSVP’d yes, sending us scrambling to set up in the yard instead of the garage (turned into the dance room).

I’d say, there were about 20 people who ended up showing up. We provided some snacks/drinks and a dressing room (ie a designated bathroom) for those who wanted to try on clothes. There was music blasting, mirrors set up, and tables full of clothes, shoes, purses and other accessories.

Our rules were simple: bring what you can, take all you want BUT be considerate. In the end, everyone went home happy with their “new” and replenished wardrobe MINUS THE GUILT! And surprisingly, there is an unbelievably deep sense of satisfaction knowing that your clothing has found a new - and appreciative - owner. It was fun seeing other people pick up your clothes and saying “This is cute!” and responding with, “I know, that was mine! But it looks good on you!”

AND we had plenty left afterwards that we dropped off at a local women’s shelter.

Everybody wins!!!

Overall, it was a good time. People had already asked us when the “next one” is… some have requested we organize one for kids clothes – which I’m seriously considering. Maybe next month! :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm going to be an Auntie!

Just found out my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are having a boy! Congratulations to Matt and Ria!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Works For Me Wednesdays: How To Get Free Hotel Rooms

So I decided I would (starting today) post every Wednesday… little tips that I have found to “work for me” [hence the name] in hopes whoever reads this can learn from it. Simple, right? It’s apparently a phenomenon in the blogging arena – check out the blog carnival here.

Though I’m not promising any life-changing revelations (for example, one week, I could talk about “How Not to Find Yourself Doing 8 Loads of Laundry on a Beautiful Saturday”), BUT… I do promise to (try to) post something every Wednesday. It’s my self-medicated approach to lagging.

Today’s WFMW is how to score a free hotel room – even if you don’t really need one.

I have to start my apologizing I didn’t get to share this sooner, because the program actually ends at the end of this month. Which means, you have 20 days to score a free one if you want. I discovered this deal last year and have since then been able to enjoy close to 50 hotel stays all across the US for FREE. I’m saddened by the news of the program’s conclusion – but you know what they say, all good things must come to an end.

Spoken by a true cynic.

Here’s the skinny:

Wyndham is a company that owns thousands of hotels and motels around the world. These hotels include the brands of Ramada, Howard Johnson, Baymont Inn & Suites, Super 8, Days Inn, Wingate by Wyndham, Knights Inn, AmeriHostInn, and Travelodge. Its Best Rate Guarantee (BRG for short) basically lets you stay for free for one night if you find a rate for their hotels that is lower than the price on Wyndham's site.

The basics rules are:
1) You must find a publicly available rate for a specific Wyndham hotel that is lower than Wyndham's posted rate for the same hotel.
2) The room type for the rate you find must match the room type on the Wyndham site.
3) You must book your reservation through Wyndham Rewards or one of Wyndham's hotel sites.
4) You must notify Wyndham of your claim within 24 hours of making the reservation and your reservation cannot be booked within 48 hours of arrival.
5) Only the first night is free for each eligible stay.

Here’s the kicker: finding the cheaper rate can be as easy as searching on Kayak or HotelsCombined (where they search hundreds of hotels for you and the rate variations can be obvious as day), but that doesn’t always pan out. Another great resource is the Best Rate Guarantee Blog – they post these rate variations almost daily. And for the last stretch of the remainder of this month, they’ve been knocking them out left and right.

Sometimes the competitor rates are only 99 cents cheaper than Wyndham's rates, but the guarantee is still honored because their Terms and condition require at least .25 difference – therefore you still a free night. If you plan well in advance, you could get an entire vacation’s hotel stays for free. You could move around different Wyndham properties in the same city and get multiple nights for free. Or if you’re traveling with a partner, you could alternate days.

For our anniversary week last year, I got 7 days of free hotels in DC, Baltimore, Maryland, Ocean City, Maryland, Virginia Beach, Virginia and Richmond, Virginia. Total hotel bill for that week = $0.

Days Inn Inner Harbor – Baltimore, MD

Ramada on the Beach – Virginia Beach, VA

Days Inn Oceanfront – Ocean City, MD

Wyndham Virginia Crossings – Richmond, VA

Hopefully, I’ve armed you with enough to get as much as you can before the program rests in peace on April 1st. Fair warning though, there are some hotels that are not worth staying in EVEN IF THEY ARE FREE, so do you due diligence in reading reviews before you get to excited.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vain Revelations, Monkeys, and Celebrities with No Make up

This got forwarded to me by a friend this morning, and it comes at an utmost perfect timing after having a disastrous 2 weeks of terrible hair and uneven mascara. I was ready to break the mirror this morning.

Try putting eye liner on with a cast, forget about it. A monkey has a better chance of doing it.

I wonder where I could get one….

And nevermind my hair. My hair hasn’t seen a good day since the day I broke my thumb. I’m lucky to have a husband who would help me wash it, but he’s not as willing to blow dry and style. Mike straightening my hair is like me trying to re-build an engine.

Doable, but not likely to happen.

So imagine the smirk on my face when I saw other ugly mugs besides my own. It’s nice to know I’m not alone with the “off days”.

Katherine Heigl


Eva Longoria

Penelope Cruz

Cameron Diaz

Hilary Duff

Britney Spears

Pamela Anderson

Anna Kournikova

Goldie Hawn

Debra Messing

Liar Liar, Pants on Fire

OK, so I read child psychologists believe that preschoolers at this age don’t mean to lie maliciously – that the somehow makes up a version in their head and they convince themselves that that’s what actually transpired, even if it’s the complete opposite of the truth. I beg to differ. When I tell Ethan he’s not allowed to have candy. And he goes in the room and finds a secret stash. My spidey senses convince me to follow him and I catch him in the act with chocolate in his hand (and obvious hints of cocoa on the side of his mouth).

Me: Ethan, what are you doing?

Ethan: Nothing. :hiding the candy behind his back:

Me: Are you sure? I think you’re eating candy when mommy said you can’t have Justify Fullany before dinner.

Ethan: No. I’m not eating candy mommy.

Me: Ethan…. You know you’re not supposed to be eating candy before dinner.

Ethan: Ok, mommy.

Me: Then why are you eating candy.

Ethan: Because I go potty. (We’ve been trying to bribe – I mean, encourage him to go to potty by giving an incentive of a piece of candy every time he goes.)

Me: But you didn’t go potty.

Ethan: Yes, I need to go potty. See mommy? :runs to the toilet and does his business:

Me: Good job Ethan!

Ethan: Can I have candy now, please?

Me: You already had it, before you actually went to the potty.

Ethan: Oh ok. Thanks, mommy!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Chatty Ethan

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it seems like it happened overnight. All of a sudden, Ethan’s improved diction and grasp of grammar is off the charts – gone are the days when we could tell him something and all we could expect was a yes or a no. Now, he knows how to reason… to formulate a question… even manipulate a story he believes to be less troublesome than the truth (ie, lie)!

I’ve noticed he’s using more adjectives to describe things (the fast car, the big playground), he’s using the proper pronouns (him, her, us) and surprisingly using correct verb tenses (adding “s” and “ing” when needed).

He recites his days of the week without a stumble. Last week, he completely surprised me when he started counting in Spanish! And on Friday, when we picked him up from school, he proudly recited his 5 senses. How cool is that?

He’s really lazy, for some reason, when it comes to colors though. Some days, he will impress you… correctly pointing out every single color in an M&M pouch. Other times, he’ll just shrug “I don’t know” and start spitting out color names to get you off his back.

I can’t take credit for all of it, I’m almost saddened to say. His teachers at the Montessori Academy are really great and angelically patient. I have no idea how they go through day in and day out with that many brains to feed and short attention spans to entertain. I can barely handle Ethan sometimes! Ok, he’s not really that bad, but he can be a ball of energy and he will tire you out.

His lead teacher also raved about how much of a fast learner he is, and that he picks up things even when they think he’s paying attention. That is their main struggle with him, she said. He just won’t sit still! We promised to work more with him at home – quiet time, circle time, reading time – anything that would get his accustomed to staying still. But what else can you do? He’s not destructive, nor disruptive…. He just can’t stay in one spot for prolonged periods of time! I blame that on Mike :)

No Cameras? What?!?

It’s amazing how I’ve realized during the past week how much I take my right hand for granted.

  • I can’t blow dry my hair.
  • I can’t type 80 wpm anymore.
  • I can’t stir anything in the pot without threatening to burn the kitchen down.
  • I can’t play catch with my son.
  • I can’t put deodorant on my left armpit.
  • I can’t put my hair in a pony tail.
  • I can’t talk on the phone illegally while driving.
  • I can’t unsnap my own bra!

And unfortunately, I can’t even hold my own camera. :(

I’ll try my best to keep posting photos, I have Mike’s little Cybershot in tow (since mine broke! grr) so I won’t be completely “picture-less”.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

How Californians Do Snow

We finally hit the slopes to go snowboarding this season. We figured we'd go before all the snow melted since it's been warmer than it usually has been in February. It seemed almost silly wearing jackets on a ski slope. It was so hot, people were actually snowboarding in tank tops!

We rented some skiis for Ethan, but he didn't like it much. He didn't like the way his boots made him walk "funny". And he wanted poles like everyone else around him but apparently, they don't make them that small. He spent the rest of the time eating the snow and digging with his skiis.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Jack in the Box: Free Small Fry and Free Small Fountain Drink on Tues, 3/10

Valid all day on Tuesday, March 10. One coupon PER guest, per visit.

Sure doesn't restrict how many times you can visit. :)

Click on photo above to print your coupon.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Don't Let Go

Took this on the way home from a long trip to the Science Museum. I think he held on to that ball for almost an hour before it finally rolled off.


Surgery went well, I suppose. I was surprised it needed to go that far. When I fell on Saturday, I knew it hurt like hell, but I had hoped it was just a sprain. Learned pretty quickly at urgent care that night that I would have to deal with at least a cast. By Tuesday, the ortho specialist tells me they have to put pins and wires in my hand.


I was glad they set up an appointment for my surgery fairly quickly. Yesterday, I went in, got prepped, was completely out through the procedure, recovered long enough to drink through a straw, went home and slept for most of the night and the better part of this morning.

I was told they didn't have to open me up. They somehow stuck the pins and wires and manipulated my bones through the skin. I have a temporary splint still, until my follow up next week where I'm guessing they'll be putting it in a cast.

For now, Vicodin's become my best friend. It usually makes me woozy, but I'll take woozy over excruciating pain any day. I took today off just to take it easy... and I'll likely spend the weekend laying around too.....

Ihave to say, Mike has been an angel throughout this whole ordeal. It's an odd change of roles where I'm the broken one and he's the one cooking dinner and timing my pain meds. I don't know what I would do without him!


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