"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Congratulations Melody!

>> Saturday, May 31, 2008

You won scrap bribing!!! I can't wait to see what you do with all these goodies!


Well, Hello, Kitty

>> Friday, May 30, 2008

My young cousin does a lot of babysitting for us in the evenings when we have church activities. She'll be here tonight, again, watching not only my kids but the children of another couple when we go out to see Narnia. I pay her about $5 per hour for the girls, give or take, and she never says if it's too little.

So I like to surprise her once in a while.

Last Christmas I got her a bunch of Hello Kitty stuff that was in the dollar bin at Target. She is a HUGE Hello Kitty freak and just loved it. When I took her to Minnesota with me last year she was bummed that the Hello Kitty dolls were no longer available at Bulid a Bear.

So when I got my Build a Bear newsletter (yes, I get that. Blame my daughters...) and saw that the tropical Hello Kitty is in stores beginning today I knew I had to take her to get one. I imagine jumping up and down in excitement will take place...

What outfit do you think she will pick? I like the hula girl, myself.


If You Gotta See It...

When I first moved to Iowa the most difficult thing for me was to give up my season tickets to the Wild. I cried when I sold the tickets. And, as they went to the Stanley Cup playoffs I watched every game from home and hated the person I saw in my seat.

As it turned out I soon had to return to Minnesota to finish the sale of my house and sign a few papers and, wouldn’t you know it, the Wild were playing at home. I HAD to go! And, since I sold the house I had some extra cash so I wanted to take my friend Sheri along.

I searched high and low for good seats. I was willing to pay for them. They were so hard to come by! And you just don’t really know if you’re going to get scammed… Luckily I didn't but until I got in the gate I worried.

Now there is SeatExchange.com, an easy and safe way to buy tickets for almost any event. Whether it’s concert tickets for that reunion tour going on this summer or sports tickets for that game you just can’t miss…

I could even get Celtic Football (that’s soccer to you, yank) tickets as SeatExchange is the official secondary ticket provider for them. Good to know as those tickets are hard to get and someday I would love to be swept up in that craziness. Almost as good as a hockey game in Minnesota.


Exxon Needs My Help!

And they will give me 2 million 440 thousand dollars...


I'm William Goodluck, an Executive Member of the Audit and Compensation
Committee of Exxon Mobil in London (http://www.exxonmobil.co.uk). I have a
sensitive and private brief from the Senior Executives of this top oil
company in need of your partnership to re-profile funds amounting to
US$12.2M (Twelve Million Two Hundred Thousand United States Dollars). I
will let you have the details but in summary, the fund shall be paid to
you through our operating bank where it is presently deposited as soon as
the legalization and documentation process is concluded in your name.

This is a legitimate transaction without government interference and you
shall be compensated with 20% of the total sum, should you and your
company agree to work with us. If you are interested, please reply for
further details.

Warm Regards,

William Goodluck,

Oh yeah, I'm sooo all over this.



Food, Exercise and Maybe Help

So… I’ve begun keeping a food diary. Just to see what I’m eating. And, overall, it doesn’t look too bad to me. Sure, there should be more fruits and veggies but I don’t think I’m overeating.

I’ve also begun dragging my butt out of bed and exercising in the morning. It’s easiest when it’s not raining and I can walk the dog. I’m still having trouble getting out of bed when it’s nasty outside.

Some days I feel like there’s improvement and others I just want to say “screw it” and get and ice cream. I’m not a big fan of weight loss diet plans as there are so many and all the commercials look good but they say “results not typical” at the bottom. Ugh.

So I’m just hoping that monitoring myself a bit more closely and trying to work on a healthy weight loss, a pound or two a week, will get me to where I want to be. Which is about 35 pounds lighter. That’s an entire Brenna worth of extra weight I’m carrying.

Oh, that disgusts me so much. I may need help… Accountability. I think that’s what makes Weight Watchers work so well… The knowledge that you have to step on a scale in front of people and they are all going to know if you lost weight or had a fudge sundae. I don't know if their online program has that kind of accountability... But, with the coupons for WW on WeightLossDietHelp.com a week of WW and a really good fudge sundae cost about the same. And I've heard that skinny feels better that any sundae tastes...

I really miss the days when I was skinny and could eat a sundae without the guilt.


No Desire

>> Thursday, May 29, 2008

The weather radio went off just a little while ago. We are, again, under a tornado watch. The weather is bringing me down. I just need a complete day of sun... All these clouds are making me tired.

I just couldn't bring myself to get much done today. Oh, I walked the dog shortly after 6am (the first morning in 4 days it hasn't been raining when I got out of bed), showered and made sure my kids were dressed and fed.

I even made a trip to Target. But, other than that, not much else got done. I didn't cook today... We had Sonic for lunch and met Doug for fish & chips for dinner (with a pint of Strongbow).

And, not wanting to stay in the house, I took the girls to Recess when they got up from naps hoping they would run and play. It kind of worked.

now I'm looking at the pile of receipts I should input in to Quicken and just really wanting to go to bed and read my novel. Or maybe just go to sleep...


Another Day Another Political Sign

It’s political season. Every day more yard signs appear. Big ones, small ones… Ugh.

I look at them differently now, though, since Doug’s run a couple of years ago. Those things are freakin’ expensive. I don’t even want to remember what we spent out of our own pockets. Oh, wait, I can still see it every month on the credit card bill…

We used BuildASign.com for all of our signs and stickers. Their prices were lower than the competition, their website was easy to use and everything was great quality. If you’re considering a run for office –or something much smarter and less hassle like starting your own business- check them out for your signage needs.


Our Family is Huge

I come from a family of 4, my mom comes from a family of 5, my dad from a family of 4. I have 12 cousins, and more second cousins than I can think of…

Doug comes from a family of 2, his mother is one of 5 and his dad has only a sister. Yet he has as many cousins as I do and I don’t think I’ve met all his second cousins.

Did I mention that our families are all relatively close knit? We easily celebrate 25 birthdays a year- and send out at least that many cards for birthdays we don’t celebrate.

And then add on all the friends, business acquaintances you want to keep in touch with and bloggy-friends that we don’t “really” know but probably, honestly, know better than we do our relatives…

That’s a lot of cards. So I’m considering purchasing birthday card packs so I can always have a card when I “almost” forget a birthday and need a card right away. Buying in bulk will cost me less and I figure if I find one design a year that I really like- like this one-

I won't repeat a card (it has been known to happen!) and I'll save money and time.

Now if we could just stop the gift exchanges...



>> Wednesday, May 28, 2008

After a long and terrific day we are home from my grandparent's (the girls' great grandparent's) farm.

Calves were petted...
Flowers were picked...
Home cookin' was eaten...
Stories were traded...

And after the girls have their bath I will be settling in to my bed with a much loved novel (based in Ireland- yes, I'm already thinking of returning) and maybe even an adult beverage.

Photos and fun tomorrow. I promise.


So... What's New WIth You?

After a very busy weekend...

No camping but we did make it to the park on Monday...

We learned the good thing about mice...

And the rain let me share packing tips and hotel booking tips since it was too lousy to be outside...

The girls as I are heading to my grandparent's farm. There are calves being bottle fed and I'm sure we'll be able to find some new baby kittens...

So enjoy the posts I've highlighted for you and don't forget to enter scrap bribing. The last day to enter is Friday... That's only 2 days away... And don't forget that you need time to share the linkt love!


If Something Seems Wrong It Probably Is

>> Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I was booking a hotel for an upcoming trip and was given information that I was sure was not correct.

After a bit of research on my part and a couple of phone calls the issue was resolved and I got not only the discount I initially asked for but another $20 per night off the room rate.

A savings of about $50. You can read the entire story at Have Kid Will Travel.


I'm Betting They Don't Get This Back...

From Reuter's updated 12:04 p.m. CT, Tues., May. 27, 2008

TOKYO - One of the travelers who arrived at Tokyo's Narita airport over the
weekend may have picked up an unusual souvenir from customs — a package of

A customs official hid the package in a suitcase belonging to
a passenger arriving from Hong Kong as a training exercise for sniffer dogs
Sunday, but lost track of both drugs and suitcase during the practice session, a
spokeswoman for Tokyo customs said.

Customs regulations specify that a training suitcase be used for such exercises, but the official said he had used passengers' suitcases for similar purposes in the past, domestic media reported. "The dogs have always been able to find it before," NHK quoted him as saying. "I became overconfident that it would work."

Anyone who finds the package should contact Tokyo customs as soon as possible, the spokeswoman said.

I just don't see that getting turned in...

And I'm also wondering how long the scent will remain in his baggage. I'm guessing another drug sniffing dog somewhere might pick it up. "But, officer, the customs official in Tokyo put pot in my suitcase..." Yep, I bet that will work.


The Peak is Peeking at Me

I’m always a bit skeptical about new “all natural” products that promise amazing results. Mostly you see this with diet pills- I especially love the one that says “And we couldn’t say it on TV if it wasn’t true”. Yeah, whatever… And all the news in unbiased…

So when I saw this ad for Procerin, a product to stop hair loss I looked in to it a bit deeper as my dear husband is beginning to have a bit more forehead than he used to…

After reading the information page I can only say that I agree with quite a bit of it… DHT is the cause of male pattern baldness and it is easiest to reverse the effects in men whose hair is still in a growth cycle. I don’t see any crazy promises and there is a 90 day money back guarantee.

Definitely something to keep in mind before Doug’s hair quits growing all together…


Getting a Stimulus Check?

If you are you'll want to be careful- scammers are after your money! Doug received an email today with the return address : Internal Revenue Service

Here's what Doug has to say about it: The web address is in machine code. Only hackers like doing that. Also the "Document Reference" is that same machine code that is the destination. Doesn't smell valid.

Here's the email:

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
United States Department of the Treasury
IRS-2008-66, May 27, 2008
The Internal Revenue Service has begun to
transfer economic stimulus payments to millions of Americans, some of whom will
see payments in their bank accounts as early as today.

The IRS will
issue payments of up to $600 ($1,200 for married couples) plus $300 for eligible
children younger than 17, throughout the spring and summer. The first wave of
payments will go to people who opted for direct deposit on their 2007 income tax

"If you think you may be eligible, even if you don’t normally
file a tax return, please check it out. And, use direct deposit to get your
payment faster.”

Whether a taxpayer opted for direct deposit determines
how soon the payment will arrive. The first cycle of economic stimulus payment
will be e-mailed starting May 9.

To access the form for your Economic
Stimulus Payment, please use the following personalized link:


Document Reference: (0x7C.0xDB.0x11D1).

The IRS will send
notices to taxpayers who are eligible for an economic stimulus payment. By
keeping people informed, the IRS hopes to reduce calls to customer service
representatives who are still busy helping taxpayers complete tax returns.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) United States Department of the Treasury

DO NOT click the link! This will give all your information to the thieves who are trying to take your money! If you receive your tax refund or pay your taxes via e-filing the IRS has all of your information. They don't need any more. If you have any questions contact your tax accountant or the IRS directly at http://www.irs.gov.


Storage That's Uniquely Yours

Last Christmas we gave digital frames as gifts… Because we want to update the photost I also purchased flash drives for everyone with the idea that we could update photos on the drive and exchange them every so often.

Ummm, yeah. I sent out the updated drive a while back with the instructions to return the “old” one to me so I could put new photos on it and send it out again. A digital photo swap, if you will.

You guessed it- I’m still waiting for those flash drives to come home…

I’m considering Personalized flash drives. You can add a theme or logo to one side of the flash drive and personalize the other. I’m thinking “Don’t forget to send me back for refills!” on one side and “My photos” on the other…

Personalized flash drives would also make a terrific gift for that grad heading off to college- or for that Daddy who totes his work around on a flash drive. With sizes from 512MB to 16GB and 14 colors to choose from you can create a great gift. Engraving is included in the price and if you click the link above you can save 20%.

And they look really cool!
Sponsored by Pexagon Technology



At Least It Ended Well

>> Monday, May 26, 2008

Our long holiday weekend was spent mostly indoors due to very nasty weather across the state. As in baseball size hail (in our backyard), tornadoes (thankfully not in our backyard) and lots and lots of rain.

But we got a lot accomplished (see next post down).

Amazingly enough today ended on a warm and sunny note. About 5 pm the girls were clamoring to go outside so I asked Doug if I should just make our dinner "to go"- as in load stuff in the bikes and head to a park.

So that's what we did. Now, I had planned chicken reuben for dinner, and those need to be broiled. So I slapped them together, wrapped them in foil, took some charcoal, grabbed some chips and drinks and we were on our way.

We biked three-quarters of the way across town to a park that I used to walk with Brenna to when we lived in our old house. We settled in to a picnic area, lit the charcoal and played with some outdoor toys we had shoved in the trailers.

Gotta tell ya- those reubens were GREAT grilled! I'll be sharing the recipe this Friday.

After dinner and clean up we trekked across the park to the play area where Brenna & Caelan ran off their energy.

Caelan is grinning because she knows that Daddy can't reach her from the other end. She never went all the way through the tunnel...

Brenna was very adventurous and tried all the "big kid" stuff... She climbed, she slid, she swung... Nothing was stopping her!
And then it was time to head home for baths... Ahhh, summer, the season of baths every night... Mommy was feeling especially nice and the girls got to bathe in the big tub. Ah, yes, the perfect end to a perfect day!


The Good Thing About a Mice Infestation

Yes, there is something good that has come from the nasty little rodents. Doug & I spent much of the weekend decluttering and cleaning the storage room. Lots and lots of random stuff was deemed "not worth de-pooping" and has been sent to the curb for garbage pickup tomorrow.

In the process of removing and cleaning Doug found three more dead mice, bringing our total death count to 8. {{shudder}}

The room has been emptied, the shelves and floor cleaned with bleach water, the carpets replaced and shampooed and all items have been repacked in plastic storage boxes. The room is now very clean, very organized and we got rid of lots of crap we didn't need.

Yep, the one good thing that came out of the infestation... A clean, organized storage room.


Oh, The Geeky Goodness

>> Saturday, May 24, 2008

If you have to have the newest, the coolest, the
latest gizmos, gadgets and geek toys you gotta check out Latest Greatest Gadgets and Gizmos.

Everything from solar powered cellphone chargers (the article made me think of Doug camping in the wilderness) and wind up racing grannies to mini chocolate fondue fountains and five minute pizza ovens this is the place to find the best geeky goodness. I spent way too much time perusing all the stuff reviewed on this site.

C'mon, it's a long weekend. And if you're online the weather probably sucks where you are, too. Go over and check it out. See if you don't click around alot.


Did it hit too close to home?

The Communist Party in Russia is complaining about how the KGB is portrayed in the new Indiana Jones movie.

"Harrison Ford and Cate Blanchett (are) second-rate actors, serving as the running dogs of the CIA. We need to deprive these people of the right of entering the country," said another party member, Andrei Gindos.

"It's rubbish ... In 1957 the communists did not run with crystal skulls throughout the US. Why should we agree to that sort of lie and let the West trick our youth?"

I think they're right. The KGB was portrayed as being a little too efficient at breaking onto military bases and killing native peoples. And, if I may point out, the running with crystal skulls was in South America...


A Place With Style

I think the thing I dislike the most about where we live is the total lack of style. Don’t take it the wrong way, people here have style… It’s called “comfortable”. Which is fine, I suppose. But that means that rarely does anyone dress up- for anything other than a graduation, wedding or funeral- and the few places that have designer clothing have limited styles and sizes.

Which means that I turn to the internet if I need something unique or rather funky. Not that it happens much as we are in a “comfortable” state surrounded by “comfortable” people.

During a recent clothing search I came across ShopGoldyn.com, a site with dozens of designers and clothes that haven’t yet reached my little part of the earth. Definitely unique and funky. And while some of the clothing is definitely too young and hip for me with so many designers to choose from I was able to find items that I loved.

If you’re looking for something new may I suggest viewing by francine. Her embroidered halter dress is absolutely adorable. Or American Retro for a modern take on retro styles like the swing coat and tied collars. Corey Lynn Calter uses bold prints and clean lines to make her designs really unique.

That's only three of the dozens of designers represented at ShopGoldyn.com. Really, if you want something noone you know will have check them out.


There Are Days I May Think About Selling My Kids...

But I would never really do it. Not even as a joke.

German Parents Post Baby on eBay for One Euro

"Offering my nearly new baby for sale, as it has gotten too loud. It is a male baby, nearly 28 inches (70 cm) long and can be used either in a baby carrier or a stroller," police quoted the ad as reading.

Then again, the days I would consider selling them no one would buy them...


Rain, Rain Go Away

Our Memorial Weekend plans were shot by the enormous amounts of rain, cold temperatures and high winds. Not ideal camping weather.

As I look out my window and see standing water I wonder just how many people went away this weekend and will come home to Water damage in their basements?

That happened to us in our old house. We had never had any problem with water in our basement but an exceptionally wet spring led to flooding in our area. Many roads were closed due to high rivers. And when we returned from a weekend away our basement had standing water. There was just nowhere else for it to go and our sump pump couldn’t keep up.

Luckily the damage wasn’t too severe and we were able to handle the water damage restoration ourselves- with some help from the internet, lots of towels and a very large dehumidifier. We even got tips on preventing it from happening again.

If you’re experiencing water in your basement this spring be sure to log on to DryOut.net. They have lots of “do it yourself” tips. And if it’s just too much for you to handle they have nationwide Water damage services – and an emergency number if you really need them now.


Heading Somewhere?

>> Friday, May 23, 2008

If your upcoming trip involves flying you'll really want to check out my newest post at Have Kid Will Travel. It's All About Packing.

Avoid those extra fees, travel light and breeze past everyone else who isn't prepared. Check it out.


We Love Daddy Thhiiissss Much

Brenna and Doug have a game they play often. I’m sure most people play it as it comes from a very popular book. It’s the “I Love You To…” game.

Brenna and Doug will get a bit crazy in their “I Love You’s” and silly saying such as “I love you to the twirly slide at the park and back” will have Brenna giggling non stop. Not long ago she did the big arm stretch, “I love you this much!”

I told Brenna today that Father’s Day is coming soon. Because Mother’s Day just happened she has an idea that we need to get Daddy something. So she stretched out her arms wide and told me, “I want to get Daddy something tthhiissss big.”

“Why that big?” I asked.

“Because that’s how much I love him,” she told me, quite matter of factly.

Well, the only thing that comes to my mind when I see those little arms all stretched out is a big TV. Which I know Doug would love. Which we really can’t afford.

But maybe I could win one… You see, Charter has a Father's Day in HD contest going on right now. To enter you only have to tell the story of why your dad deserves a giant HD TV- and a free year of the Charter Bundle. I think that, together, Brenna and I could write a pretty good story.

Think you can beat us? Give it a try. But hurry- the contest ends June 6.

Sponsored by Charter Communications


Don't sit out this November

Or you'll see more of this.
A Congresswoman telling a trillion dollar company that she wants to nationalize/socialize them.
And here I thought the entire point of a free market society was to allow companies to handle themselves... To succeed or fail on their own merits.
Isn't it ironic that former communist countries are embracing a free market system while many of our elected officials want to control absolutley everything.

This is a great reason for term limits for our senators and representatives. Right now Iowa has had the smae two senators for, oh, it seems like 50 years... Probably has been. And I know one of them owns property in Vermont and only maintains a rental home in Iowa so he can keep his seat. He doesn't even really live here. How can he look after the interests of our state? And why do we keep electing him?

We'll also get more of this. Those people in MA are, of course, too unenlightened to think for themselves.


You Know I Like Free

Music used to be a huge part of my life. Now I can sing every Backyardigans song ever sung and the entire Ralph’s World CD. I listen to more talk radio than music so I am a bit out of touch. I don’t even own an iPod.

But once in a while, when I do happen to hear real music I find myself thinking that I miss it and I should really download songs. But I never do because I’m cheap. I know most are only 99 cents but four songs is my once weekly Marble Slab splurge. You know the ice cream wins every time.

Today I found out that you can legally Get Free Music From MPFree.com. All you do is sign up, complete surveys, enter contests or try new products and you get credit for free music.

The sign up is painless and you can choose what offers you take so you don’t have to sign up for anything you aren’t interested in. If you like music but don’t like to pay for it give MPFree.com a try.


Sponsored by MPFree.com


Me + Quicken = %#$@&(@

Oh, yeah, I have spent way too much precious time with my Quicken Deluxe 2008 edition today. And I can't say that I accomplished much.

First I tried to add my PayPal account- because a little pop up told me I could. Excellent! As the bits of income I do make (mystery shopping, PPP & eBay) come in there it would be great to have it upload to Quicken.

Except I couldn't get it to find PayPal as a bank. And if it isn't a bank it can't download. OK, so I see that there is a Quicken update. So I try to update but, for some reason, it can't. Ugh! Honestly, what a big, huge waste of my time.

Of course I couldn't leave it at that... I tried uploading account information from my checking account- only to be told that checking and savings accounts cannot be loaded in the .qif format. What? Why?

Really, it was a lesson in frustration and not much else.

Anyone out there a Quicken genius? Because I honestly just don't get how this is supposed to help me when I have to input everything manually. Grrr...


If Only This Would Happen

So.. Doug sent me an email the other day letting me know that the company he is contracting with has an opening that would require quite a bit of time in the UK. Those of you who know me can imagine that I jumped on this news quickly… Doug and I have often talked about living abroad for a few years before the girls start school. To my way of thinking this could get his “foot in the door” and maybe a spot could open up for him in the London base.

Ahh… I can just imagine the idyllic nature of it. We could live in a little hamlet outside of London. Doug could take the train in every day (because, honestly, you don’t want to drive in London) and the girls and I could walk everywhere in our village. We could have a tiny car to explore the countryside.

Of course, with the electricity difference, I would need a new notebook so I could keep in touch with all of you. (Converters are not a daily option. We burnt one out in Ireland.) Luckily I wouldn’t have to look farther than Dealtime.co.uk for the best prices and reviews for any electronics we would need.

I suppose that's the easy part...



We had thunderstorms and lots of rain over night. Now the skies are grey, the wind is blowing and camping is not going to happen.

That's ok... There are plenty of things we need to do here at home.

  1. I really need to figure out why my Quicken won't download anything. It says it's a Quicken error and they are aware of it. But it's been happening for months so I think it may be a problem on my end, somewhere. I also want to use the program to it's full potential. Whatever that is. I just know I'm not using it the way it was meant to be used. (Any advice appreciated. I am soooo not of an accountant mindset.)
  2. Now that we have pulled 5 dead mice from the storage area (and no more have shown up in the past week) it's time to empty the room, wash the floors with bleach water, shampoo the carpet remnants, wash the shelves and replace the boxes of stuff (which all have to be emptied and repacked or tossed out).
  3. There are summer clothes that didn't sell at the garage sale that I want to lot together and put on eBay. I need to get them photographed and listed- probably Monday.
  4. My wood floors desperately need cleaned and treated. Doug bought some stuff at Home Depot last weekend. I just need to use it.
  5. I just learned of a new (to me) online photo editing tool. I want to check it out and see if it will work for what I want. It's called Picnik. They have lots of free stuff and you can get the premium package for $25.
  6. I need to figure out our schedule for summer. I always have a daily schedule- it keeps me from sitting here, in front of my computer, for too long. Right now we have gymnastics classes on Tuesdays, mom's group on Thursdays, library story time on Fridays... I want to add learning time, cleaning time, exercise/park time, quiet time (definately quiet time!), snacks, etc. I figure we can work on our telling time skills in conjunction with the schedule.

I'm sure there's more... But that should be enough to keep me busy today and tomorrow. :) Maybe Doug will get to rest on Sunday.


It's Her Dream House

My sister is very excited because a house she has loved from afar just went up for sale yesterday. She has, in fact, told her husband “If that house ever goes on the market I want to buy it.” Her plans for the weekend include a walk through of that house. I hope, for her, that it is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.

Of course they will have to sell their house before they can consider buying another one. That may not be a problem as houses in their neighborhood don’t stay on the market for long. They live in a great neighborhood; it’s full of kids, the street is a block long so there isn’t a problem with speeding and their home is a perfect “starter” for a small family (both in size and price range). It’s too bad my brother and SIL can’t get out of their house and buy it…

But if my sister needs to sell house fast there are places that will buy it. WeBuyHouses has property investors everywhere and they offer fair market prices and quick turn around.

It’s an option if Jen just has to have her dream house.


High Maintence

>> Thursday, May 22, 2008

I didn't used to think I was high maintence, but now I'm not so sure.

To me high maintence invokes the image of, well, the "Real Housewives" shows on Bravo. You know... The ladies with too much money, a couple of nannies and time for a daily blow-out at the salon. Real, my a$$.

A real housewife is happy if she gets a shower alone- let alone every day. A real housewife is cleaning the house, caring for the kids, cooking the meals and (probably) working a "real" job as well. A real housewife has a car with Cheerios in the seats and stinky socks hidden somewhere that she may never find. A real housewife...

Ah, but I took off on my tangent and forgot my point...

I'm feeling much more high maintence lately. You see, my night time routine, now that I am of a certain age, is taking longer than ever. Honestly, why can't soap & water be enough?

1) Remove eye makeup with makeup remover
2) Wash face with special cleanser from the dermatologist for my problem skin (must wait 10 minutes for skin to dry completely before I can apply Theraputic Lotion)
3) While skin is drying completely brush and floss teeth. This is good as now I actually have time to floss. Yes, I had the time before but who wants to floss when they can just crawl into bed?
4) Apply eye firming cream
5) Apply Theraputic Lotion (must allow it to dry before applying night cream)
6) File any rough edges from nails and apply nail strengthener (not that it works but I will keep trying to, someday, grow my fingernails)
7) Apply Hydrating Gel to face
8) Apply hand creme (to my thrice washed hands by this point)
9) Crawl into bed

My morning routine is no where near that extensive. It involves washing my face, putting on hydrating lotion and sunscreen. Maybe a tinted moisturizer and mascara.

So I'm just high maintence at night? I guess it's working though. A woman in my mom's group was completely shocked when I told her my age. She thought I was her age (31).


Something You Want to Share?

Why is “blogger” such a bad word? You hear it used with such distain from those “real journalists” who copy their news from the AP. And don’t even get me started on “mommy blogger”… Heavens, it’s almost as bad as “homemaker”…

So, I’m thinking about having custom t-shirts made that say “Mommy Blogger” on the front and “A homemaker with something to say” on the back.

I designed it over at BlueCotton Design Studio in about 5 minutes (it only took me so long because I had to change out the fonts half a dozen times. But super easy.

If you need custom t-shirts or bags for business or a gathering check them out.


Just Look at This!

See all that rain? The rain that is going to begin today and fall through Monday? The rain that, according to Weather.com, will be accompanied by high winds? The rain that is ruining our camping plans (as well as any outdoor activities)? The rain that wasn't in our forecast until this morning? Do you see it?

Well... Crud. I suppose I'll go empty the clothes I have packed in space bags and a Rubbermaid container, put all the camping stuff back in the corner of the garage, put away all the cooking utinsils and figure out just how to hide the bags of chips from the girls.



Camping Pants

OK, so the not-roughing-it camping for this weekend is out, but Doug is planning a guys only trip down to our land in the Ozarks in the next few weeks. It's "real" camping. No running water, no electricity, no plumbing. I should probably also mention that he hasn't been there yet this year so there will probably be ground clearing going on (with a machete and hatchet) so the tents can be put down.

Looking through Doug's clothes I see all that he really has are jeans... And jeans just don't stand up to the kind of wear he puts them through when he's roughing it. I really think he would appreciate a couple pair of these 5.11 tactical pants. Tough pants with lots of cargo room... They should call them camping pants.


Last Day

>> Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Today was Brenna's last day of school... She has officially advanced... Whatever. But she's happy and proud.

Many thanks to TLC and Miss Sharon and Miss Jo. Brenna has a love of school and learning because of you. She can't wait 'til next year.


More Than a Clock

Brenna is very interested in telling time. She will cometo me and tell me, "Mommy, the oven clock says five-two-four. What time is it?"

Since she is interested I want to get something that can help her understand time as well as learn to read both digital and analog clocks.

I think I may have found the perfect solution: the Teach Me Time Clock

Cool isn't it? Those buttons on the toes play a game: First ask your child to press the left toe button to display a random time on the analog portion of the display (it hides the digital time).
Next press the right toe button to have Teach Me Time! speak the answer and display the correct time in digital format.
And (my favorite part) you can set the clock so that it's face changes to green when it's ok for the kids to get out of bed.
And as they get older you can disable all the learning and just have a really cool alarm clock.

Sponsored by Cool Stuff Express


My Trip is Almost Over

>> Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I've been working on my Ireland trip posts since we returned. Just over 2 months ago. It seems so long ago... sigh

Today I finished videos and photos and posted about our visit to the Cliffs of Moher. Every time I've been there the experience has been completely different. This time it was cold and very windy.

And in two or three posts my Irish journey will be complete. Luckily we've been a few places since then and I'm sure this weekend's camping will give me lots of fodder.


Stick It to 'Em

I don’t know about you, but my refrigerator is covered with magnets. Most are freebies given out at state fairs, a few are souvenirs from trips and a couple are actually photo magnets. In all honesty I never even thought about putting a photo on a magnet until my sister-in-law sent one when they were living in DC.

I love all the ideas for magnets they have over at VistaPrint.com- birth announcement magnets, save the date magnets, car magnets and business magnets you can design yourself.

Not to mention handling all the rest of your printing needs with great customer service, competitive pricing and an easy to use website. Why not give it a try? I’m sure everyone you know would rather see you on their refrigerator instead of that old political magnet from 4 years ago…


Maybe His Name Should Be Barack Waaabama

Listening to Barack Obama lately... I just don't think this man can be president.

The other day he was whining about "personal attacks" President Bush made in Israel against him and now he's all bent out of shape over this ad in Tennessee...

Having been involved in a political campaign I can tell you that everything in your life is fair game. And if your wife is going to get up and make comments then you had better be able to stand up and handle it. If I recall the Kerry campaign had to stop Theresa from making speeches 4 years ago...

I just don't know if there is anything that can be said that he doesn't construe as some sort of disparaging remark against him. Every other day he's whining about something someone said or did or thought about doing...

Honestly, I am afraid for our first and second amendment rights if this guy gets anywhere near the White House.


Need to Prepare for Memorial Weekend?

It’s Memorial Weekend… What do you have planned? We are going camping; the first time with the girls. This afternoon I will be going through supplies we have and figuring out what else we might need.

And, because I’m frugal, you know that if I need anything at all I’ll be online looking for the best deal by using online coupons and coupon codes. Lately the best ones I’ve found have been at BestOnlineCoupons.com.

No matter what I need for this weekend I can be sure to find it at Camping World. But, even though Doug may beg, I am not buying him a “grill to go”. I don’t care how good a deal I can get on it!

Of course, if the camping gets to be just too much I can save on a hotel room near the camp grounds. Mmmm, real bed, breakfast not over a fire… Sounds nicer the more I type.

Of course we need to bring along outdoor games for the girls. Hmmm… kites, bocce ball, badminton, maybe a fun roller (or maybe not… Dizzy kids tend to puke).

With thousands of coupons at hundreds of retailers I can find deep discounts and special promotions on printer ink supplies, business equipment and computers as well as great deals on camping supplies, outdoor games and stuff for my soon to be newly landscaped yard.

Everything I need- and the best prices I can get. Hmmm, it’s probably a good thing we are going camping. Otherwise I could shop all weekend!


Nice & Easy Scrap Bribing

Sometimes you just want everything to go together easily... Sometimes you don't want to have to think too much as you put your photos together. And that is when a scrapbooking kit is so wonderful! Everything coordinates and you have everything you need to create a wonderful scrapbook.

And, well, to be honest, my mind wasn't wanting to cooperate when I was at Archiver's and I thought this kit was nice and everything was all together... I didn't have to think. *lol* C'mon- it was 11 pm. I had burnt out my creativity with 6 hours of scrapbooking!

So, this month I offer a complete scrapbooking kit!

Look at that- suitable for anything! Not "boyish", not "girly"...

The kit includes 20 sheets of coordinating paper...

Loads of stickers, punchouts, a sheet of letters... And a few random fun things I had: Prima flowers, sparkly accent stickers and accent clips (great on photos or mats).

And a 12x12 album with top load inserts. All ready for your photos.

So, there it is. And here's how we play:

1) Leave me a nice comment. That gets you entered once. (PS- If you don't leave me a way to contact you then you can't win. Make sure you leave an email or you are signed in with Google and I can reach your profile page.)

2) Write a nice little post on your blog. Link to this post. That gets you another entry.

3) Make sure you tell everyone who visits from your blog to let me know you sent them. For every comment that mentions your name I will give you another entry.

So easy! And the more people you send me the better your chances to win. So give me some linky love and get your readers over here!

The random number generator spins on May 31. Leave a comment now & get those posts up! Good luck!!


Slow Down, You Move Too Fast...

About a year ago Doug got a speeding ticket. We were in rural Iowa on our way to a family reunion. Those county highways can be long and dull. It’s very easy to go too fast. Even if your wife is sitting next to you saying things like, “We really aren’t in any hurry, honey,” and “We aren’t in Texas, the speed limit isn’t 70 on county roads.” None of which were replied to.

So when the county sheriff clocked Doug at almost 20 mph over the speed limit all I could do was sit silently in my seat. Brenna, however, enjoyed the officer “visiting” us in the car and his flashing lights.

Doug was completely in the wrong and there was no use in even trying to fight the ticket. We paid the fine and Doug set the cruise control for the rest of the trip.

There have been many times, in the past, that I have gotten speeding tickets that I really didn’t think I deserved. And I tried to fight them. Without references it can be difficult. I found a resource about How to Beat a Speeding Ticket in California. Their suggested steps for beating the ticket can be helpful in any state. But if you are in California you can also hire TicketBust to help you. They guarantee your ticket will be dismissed or reduced- or your money back.

Looking at their services I am led to believe that tickets must be much more expensive in California than they are here. Another + for the Midwest…


Goin' Camping

>> Monday, May 19, 2008

Not sure if we are insane or not but Doug & I are taking the girls tent camping this weekend. We're going to a state park with electricity and facilities- and a playground!- so we won't really be roughing it, but it will definately be rougher than the girls have ever experienced.

We have at least one family joining us- maybe two- so I am hoping we can wear the girls down and, by nap time and bed time, they will collapse into their beds.

As this will be our first time camping with the girls I am open to suggestions from those of you who have "been there, done that". What is your must have when camping with kids? What is your best meal over fire? How do you keep them from getting bored? What do I want to be sure to take?

Let your experience be my guide...


Just Frustrated...

OK, I’m just frustrated with myself. I can’t seem to motivate myself to lose weight. I know what I need to do- namely moderate my food intake and exercise more- but I can’t seem to do it. It’s a vicious cycle of frustration and self loathing.

Which isn’t made any easier when faces with the images on television and in magazines. I suppose that if I had a nanny, a cook, a housekeeper and a fitness coach in house I could get my old body back pretty quickly, too.

And when you read the “secrets of the stars” you see all sorts of things, like macrobiotic foods and Colon Cleansing. And then there are all the conflicting reports… It’s good for you… No, it’s bad… Use this product, not that one… Use only for constipation… Detoxify your body… Good research… Bad research… Is the guy really a doctor? Was he paid to be the spokesman? Is this really stuff you should be doing to your body? Is it even realistic? And, if you eat right, should you really have to do that?

Which takes me full circle, doesn’t it? Back to eating right, not eating too much and exercising. Anyone have any tips on how to do that? And not fall off the wagon?

OK, I’ve beaten myself up… Maybe I’ll go to bed early so I can get up and hop on my elliptical bright and early…


Movie Time

A couple years ago, after much discussion, I was able to talk Doug in to getting rid of the movie channels we never watched and paid a stupid amount of money for and getting Netflix.

I signed us up for the one movie at a time with no monthly limit plan- it costs me just under $10 per month. And I really like it.

The other day they sent me a bunch of referral cards. So if you're interested in trying Netflix (one month free) click this link and enter the code M10718551775.

For every referral I get an extra movie in my hands.


My Head Still Hurts

I had a nasty sinus headache this afternoon. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t work… Brenna was in my room having quiet time and Caelan was napping so I laid down on the couch in the basement… And woke up two hours later. Still with the headache. I hate that.

Even worse, I had my contacts in. My hard, gas permeable contacts. I keep meaning to get an appointment with my sister’s eye doctor- she raves about him- and seeing if I can wear acuvue oasys. They are supposed to be so comfortable and keep your eyes moist.

If I can wear them I can order them from 1-800-GetLens. It would save me money and I could get them just as quickly as the doctor- and I wouldn’t have to drive back across town.


It's For Your Kids

Now, I am well aware that we, as a society, are giving kids way too many "prizes" for average performance. Every kid on every team gets a trophy? Please. No more red ink because red invokes negative feelings? Give me a break. Graduation from every single thing they do? Ugh.

That said I am a bit frustrated at the parents of the other children in my daughter's preschool class. You see, her class has their "advancement ceremony" on Wednesday. OK, OK, it's the last day of school and they are having a little party. The kids will sing and the teachers will say a few nice words and there will be treats.

And the treats will be cupcakes and cookies. How do I know what the treats will be? Because I am bringing all 6 dozen of them. Yep. All of them. Because the teachers put up a sign up sheet asking parents to volunteer to bring treats. There were three openings for treats, 2 dozen each, and I am the only one who signed up. When Brenna's teacher spoke to me about it today and worried over whether there would be enough treats I told her I would handle all of it if noone else signed up. By then end of school time noone else had signed up- and she even tried to get people to volunteer.

Her worries over the treats are well founded. At Christmas time there was a similar sign up sheet. At that time I signed up for napkins or some such thing because I had brought treats for Halloween and thought that maybe someone else would like to. Hmmm, not so much... When I dropped Brenna off at school that morning the teachers were fretting because noone had signed up for treats... When I called the office before the party the only treats that had been brought were by the teachers. I ran to the store quick and grabbed some.

Now answer me this... How do you not volunteer something when asked? Especially when it's for your kid? Is it just me or does this seem off to anyone else?


Good Night, Sleep Tight...

And Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite.

I remember my mom saying that when I was a kid. At the time it was cute as I pictured bed bugs as being kind of like Ernie's Tweedlebugs on Sesame Street.

Now it isn't all that cute due to all the reports of them being in hotels. {{shudder}} There is actually a bed bug registry so you can check the hotel you are staying at for reported infestations.

Curious about how to tell if you have bed bugs? Or maybe how to see if your hotel has them? BedBugsGuide.com has all the info. And a few photos. Nasty little buggars.


In a Few Minutes

>> Sunday, May 18, 2008

In a few minutes I will begin planning my next week. I'll check the weather and the grocery flier and plan our menu accordingly. I will think about what needs to be done during the week, when it must be done by, and plan my schedule. I will check Doug's schedule to make sure he doesn't have any meetings that he will need reminded of. And I will fold the laundry in the dryer.

But right now I will let you know that I got to meet a fellow blogger last night. Last night was the monthly "girl's night" which means scrapbooking at Archiver's. Usually it's just my sister, my SILs and I. But we've begun expanding and inviting people to join us. After reading about her Mother's Day outing I mentioned to Melody that we would be scrapping this weekend and invited her to join us. And she did! Very brave of her as she's been reading this blog for a while- I'm not sure I would want to meet me. But meet us she did and a good time was had by all. (if you're interested in joining us at Archiver's some Saturday just let me know- I'll be sure to tell you when we are going next!)

Well, I suppose I should do those things that need done. Caelan hasn't slept through the night in about 4 nights so I should get to bed early- just in case I'm up for two hours again tonight.


For the Eco Geek

Now, you all know that the blog is called Iowa Geek. Being as I am the main writer and I am more Mommy than Geek the name can seem a bit strange. But my husband, Doug, a self-admitted geek, started the blog and by the time I hijacked it from him the name had stuck.

Doug and I do not consider ourselves “green” (in fact the term makes me cringe) but we do consider ourselves frugal and it only makes logical sense to both of us to harness the energy that exists in nature when we can. To that extent we have lots of toys that can be found at EcoGeekLiving.com (notice the geek part…); solar powered and crank flashlights, solar powered landscape lights, compact florescent light bulbs ( Doug drove me insane with these… He tried all of them to find just the right ones- quick on, long life, blah, blah, blah…)… If it’s geeky we’ve probably tried it.

But knowing this about him gives me many options for gifts. He broke the landscape lights so those would be nice, or maybe a heated travel mug for his morning coffee, or possibly a smart BBQ fork so he doesn’t have to cut the meat open when he grills (it releases all the juicy goodness, you know.)

I just love when I can find good geeky stuff…


It's Only 9 PM?

>> Friday, May 16, 2008

It definately feels later. Of course I had very little sleep last night so I'm dragging.

Caelan and I made a trip to the pediatrician today as her fever had not declined in the past couple of days. Her doctor said that she has a viral infection and the meds that were prescribed to her on Wednesday weren't going to do any good, so stop taking them, the virus should run it's course and be done in another day or so.

First I want to say that I am very happy that there is nothing else wrong with my baby. But, c'mon, I have to pay cash for doctor visits until we reach our deductible. Why couldn't the doctor I saw at urgent care have told me that? I wouldn't have taken her to the doctor today. All I have to say is it's a darn good thing the meds they put her on only cost me $4 (love the generics program at Hy Vee).

Brenna has been such a good big sister the last few days so, as a treat, she got to accompany me to Target tonight. Like a kid in a candy store, she was; so excited, bouncing around, touching everything, talking a mile a minute. It was funny to watch her.

You know the best thing about all the sitting and cuddling we did the past couple days? I got to read an entire novel-

If you are at all intrigued by British royalty and history this is a great read. Much of the story is taken from historical documents, letters and rumor of the time. Any artistic license is entirely believable. My book shelves are filled with history books- many on the Tudors and Elizabethan England- and I was not a bit disappointed in this.

Next on my table is this:

I read the first of the series about a year ago. I was intrigued by Ms. Rice's road from Catholicism to athism and back to Christ. The first novel was incredibly well researched and, for me, it was an opening for Christ to come into my life.

Again, I can't get enough history and no man has ever been greater in our history than Jesus Christ.

Well, I've rambled on long enough and my big plans are to watch Enchanted and go to sleep. Hopefully all night.


More of this please

GOP 2.0

Maybe if Republicans actually started to act like Republicans...

Or maybe if they would actually spend more time listening to their constituents...

They could possibly stop spending money...

Or maybe they could just distance themsleves from the other side of the aisle a bit.

Ronald Reagan once said,"I didn't leave the democratic party, the democratic party left me". I'm pretty sure most conservative republicans are feeling that way right now.


Trade Ya

Doug is involved in an investment group with some of his consultant buddies. I have to admit that I don’t know a lot about it but this group called First Hour Trading reminds me of them- on a much bigger scale, of course.

If you are interested in becoming involved in strategies and tips from an established Day Trading System I believe they are accepting members into their investment club.


Banished to the Spare Room

Caelan continued to run a fever yesterday and Brenna kept hacking like a pack-a-day smoker. We were locked indoors on a day when being indoors was the last place we should be. Not much got done as there was quite a lot of need for cuddling, nose wiping, diaper changing and book reading. I did manage to get a couple of quiches made and one taken to a mom in my church who is suffering debilitating morning sickness.

Other than that quick outing we were stuck in the confines of the house all. day. long. And it was a L O N G day...

So I escaped after dinner to take the dog for a long, long walk. Breathe in, breathe out, ahhh.... So relaxing.

When I got home Doug had the girls in the bathtub so all that was left was to get them to bed. Excellent.

Unfortunately, as is always the case with sick children, one of them didn't remain in her bed. Poor Caelan woke about 2 am, sweaty and irritated. After calming her, giving her Tylenol and applying a cool washcloth to her neck she decided it was time to be awake. Because she hadn't eaten much dinner- and had, in fact, more medicine than food in her belly I thought it might be a good idea to get her to eat.

Not her idea of a good time as her stomache was unsettled- a fact I was made aware of when she vomited a lovely mixture of water and flem. At least it was clear and odorless. I don't know that I could have handled true vomit at 3am.

After watching the moon move lower in the sky, and the eastern sky begin to turn purple, I gave up trying to get Caelan to sleep in her own bed and crawled into bed in the spare room with her.

Where she promptly cuddled next to me and fell asleep on my arm. Which fell asleep shortly after. At least part of my body is rested.


I Just Don't Get It

>> Thursday, May 15, 2008

OK, I can understand being rushed in an airport. When we were coming back from Ireland our tickets listed the wrong departure time for our flight from Chicago to Des Moines. Because our flight left both Shannon and Dublin late we were scheduled to land about 10 minutes before our flight was to leave.

There was no way we could get through customs, pick up our luggage, check in for our domestic flight, get through security and get from one end of the airport to the other in that time.

So I told Doug & my mom that I refused to be rushed, we would just have to wait for the next flight. No way was I going to stress us out and literally drag my girls through an airport just to catch a flight. There is always another one...

So you know that I have no idea how a group of four adults can be so crazed about catching a flight and leave a child. They were very, very lucky. And kudos to Air Canada for handling the issue so efficiently.


Come, Be Social

While I know I am very lucky to be able to stay home and raise my children a little extra income is quite welcome- and it’s nice to be able to contribute, financially, to our household. About a year ago I began working with a company called IZEA and sharing information with you, my readers, that I was interested in and thought you might be, too.

Recently IZEA created a new way for bloggers and advertisers to connect. It’s called SocialSpark. Because it is still in it’s infancy there are aspects I love about it and aspects I’m not really so sure I like. And, because I’ve been around IZEA for a while, they have asked me to share a bit about it.

First, let me show you my profile page. I really like that another community member, be it blogger or advertiser, can see what I’m about, get my stats and link to all my blogs from one place.

Another aspect that I love is that I can reach out, easily, to advertisers. If they have an opportunity I am interested in I can make a pitch and hope to entice them enough that they will pay me to talk about them. And, if they don’t have an available opportunity, I can introduce myself and tell them a bit about why they should keep me in mind when they do decide to do blog advertising.

While there are aspects I enjoy with SocialSpark, there are a few that I don’t. An opportunity may appear open to be taken but more often than not you will be put onto a waiting list. If you are given the opportunity it will become available at midnight EST and you have 12 hours to complete it. Unfortunately midnight EST is 11pm where I live and I spend at least 8 of those 12 hours sleeping. And if there is anything going on in the morning I can pretty much forget about getting the post done.

And then there is an aspect I’m really not sure about; dynamic pricing. Basically this means that the price fluctuates. If you apply for an opportunity at $20 it may come to you at $5. Not quite so attractive then…

So, is SocialSpark for you? If you’re interested in building a social network of bloggers and have interaction with advertisers then, yes, I think you’ll enjoy it.

This post was sponsored by SocialSpark.


A Bit Dippy

I have a great recipe up over at Fab Food Friday. It's quick, it's easy and it's really good! And since you probably have most of the stuff you need in your pantry and refrigerator it's perfect to throw together for unexpected guests or that weekend cook-out you're invited to.


A Red Corvette and a Red Delicious

I don’t know if there is anything more frustrating than vehicle ownership. Very few items cost as much as a vehicle and very few depreciate as quickly or require quite so much upkeep.

Even the very best cars and trucks require oil changes, new tires and fluids. It can all be quite costly and I can see how people are swayed to choose a lease versus purchasing a vehicle. Unfortunately very few people truly understand what a lease entails- and many end up paying far too much in the end.

If you are considering leasing a vehicle I came across this article of Vehicle Lease Advice; it compares leasing a vehicle to making apple pie. It breaks the lease into easy to manage bites and helps you gain an understanding of leasing that you probably won’t find at your local dealership.

As there are many different kinds of apples there are also many different vehicles; as there are many variations of recipes there are also many variations of leases. It is easy to see the good against the bad if all are laid out the same…

But what if they are not? Shrewdlease.com has easy to use evaluation tools designed to help you make sense of leasing a vehicle and help you decide which vehicle is the better choice. If you are even thinking about leasing you will want to check it out.


Naps Already

It's shortly after 9am and Caelan is down for her first nap of the day and Brenna asked for quiet time.

Is it obvious my girls aren't feeling well?

I spent yesterday morning at urgent care with Caelan and her 103 degree fever. Her throat was swollen but the strp test came back negative. She is being treated for a bacterial infection but if the fever isn't down by tomorrow it's back to the doctor.

Brenna has a hacking cough- probably a product of the dramatic weather changes we've had... Hot then cold, then colder, then hot. Doug has the same hacking cough.

I am the only one not suffering any ill effects- except for lack of sleep.

I forsee pajamas staying on until this afternoon sometime. Or, on the girls, all day long.


Detained, Deported... For How Long

>> Wednesday, May 14, 2008

By now I am sure many around Iowa have heard much about the Postville ICE raid. Personally I don't have a problem with it. Lots of people broke the law- the employees who were here illegally, the management of the company who knew and laughed when they were told about "shared" social security numbers and the owners who have admitted to hiring illegals in the past. All should be punished.

I think what made me most irate, though, was a story tucked in a corner of the Des Moines Register today (Link Here) In it a woman was being interviewed. She said that she had been well treated by ICE and voiced no complaints; she admits to being in the country illegally.

Here's what bothers me (as quoted from the article):

She is from Guatemala but told investigators that she was from Mexico. When
she's deported, she said, she would rather be taken to Mexico, where it will be
easier to re-enter the United States.

Need I say anything else?


How We Plan to Spend Our Summer Evenings

When we bought our house the only reason we looked at it was because of the photo I found online. It showed the house as viewed from across the creek- a large sloped yard, a lovely terrace, a walk out basement with a patio slab and a deck off the second story. It was a beautiful picture and it caught my eye much more than the front view which, though it is nice, is not quite so eye catching.

As Doug and I toured the house and walked around outside we imagined summer and fall evenings, lounging outside by a fire pit and listening to the creek. In honesty it was that thought, as much as anything, that sold us on this house. Last year that bit of a dream became reality when the girls bought Doug a fire pit for his birthday.

Unfortunately his birthday falls in October and the spring weather hasn’t been cooperating so we haven’t had much opportunity to sit by the fire with a beverage and relax. But soon the unpredictable spring weather will give way to balmy summer evenings and you can bet we’ll be outside, fire pit loaded, beverages close by (and laptops, most likely, balanced on our laps).

If you’re close enough to join us, consider yourself invited. If you want your own backyard experience visit Upside Living to create your own outdoor experience.


Blame Jennifer

OK, if you're squeemish you'll want to skip this. In fact, just page down now.

Really. I mean it.

OK, Jennifer, you asked... Here it is...

- Show Me -


There is a Dead Mouse in My House

>> Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Doug and I were doing a bit of cleaning in the storage room. Doug, being the good husband that he is, pointed out that the traps the pest control guys put out are working.

There is a big, fat mouse trapped on a sticky trap in my house right now. {{shudder}} And it's only been a few hours. What are those traps going to look like by Friday morning when they come back to check them? {{shudder}}

I can't even think about going back there to do any more cleaning until those traps are changed. {{shudder}}

Be glad I didn't take a photo to share...


Car Rental Drama in Ireland

If you’ve been reading my travel website you know that we rent a car and drive when we visit Ireland. I truly believe there is no better way to view the beauty of that country.

But we ran in to a problem with our rental car on our last trip. You see, I rented a mini van...

When we arrived to pick up the car on we found that mini van translated to "7 passenger vehicle". Which is not the same as a mini van. It was more like a small station wagon (think Subaru Outback). Needless to say, there was no way we could fit my mom in the back seat with two carseats. It was narrow and had low clearance. With all the driving we had planned there was just no way we could use it for a week. We had to upgrade- and pay in euros which nearly tripled our costs. Had I double checked with the rental agency a couple of days before I could have saved us hundreds of dollars by making the vehicle change from the US.

So, if you are planning for car hire Ireland, or any other European country for that matter, here are a couple of tips:

*Book before you leave and pay in American dollars. It’s much more economical.

*Know what you are getting. Research the website. Call a couple days before you leave and confirm the vehicle. Make any changes before leaving home.

Because it sucks to have car drama at 7am (which is really 1am your time) after an 8 hour flight. Trust me.


Be Gone Pesties

Well, the pest control guy is here putting out traps and blocking all entrances into the house. I spent the morning clearing out the storage room, finding places the little critters have been, gagging, cleaning with bleach and tossing everything I can into the washer or dryer to be deep cleaned and/or steamed.

Gotta say, I love my washer and dryer. If you're in the market for a new set I highly recommend the Whirlpool Duet Steam. I love that I can refresh Doug's shirts between trips to the dry cleaner.

Caelan has had a fever- about 100.3- since last night. She is having fits of fussiness alternated with wanting to cuddle. Naps, Tylenol and juice seem to be helping.

Brenna is trying to be good- but being three makes it difficult. Playing quietly and nicely is difficult sometimes.

It's overcast outside, and cool, but I really think a walk may be necessary. Fresh air for Calean and me and a bit of energy burn-off for Brenna.


Choosing the Right Host Made Easy

I’ve noticed a bump in my traffic since my blogging class a week ago. And I’ve gotten a few emails asking about web hosting and why anyone would need a host for a blog. Short answer- if you are interested in making money with your blog then investing in your own domain is the smartest first step.

There are many hosts out there and my web hosting chioce may not be yours. Let me direct you to WebHostingChoice.com- they list the top 10 web hosting sites and a really easy advance search feature so you can make sure the host you choose is right for you.


A Father Daughter Moment

>> Monday, May 12, 2008

I came upstairs this evening to hear Doug reading aloud to Caelan. She was engrossed.

Surely 18 months isn't too young to start reading Fortune...


New Stuff

So, I'm sitting here on my exercise ball chair... Which is quite comfortable. And very easy to assemble. It does force me to sit straighter as it is really difficult to slouch if you aren't leaning on something.

The girls really liked it...

I want to introduce you to a couple of really great people. Travis and Angela are a young couple who attend my church. Angela didn't take my blogging class but did approach me during the Women's Retreat to ask for blogging input.

Both she and her husband are new to blogging but they both have amazing insite for being so young (if I had only been half as smart at their age!) and their writing will make you think and inspire you (it did me!).

So if you, my wonderful readers, would be so kind as to say hello to them:
Here is Angela's Blog
And her husband Travis

And one more thing... I'm going to have a blog sponsor for the next 10 days. If you want to know more about affiliate marketing this guy is a good place to begin. So, anyway, beginning tomorrow (I think) there will be a pop up on this site. Just close it if you aren't interested and it shouldn't bother you again. If it really bugs you let me know. If it's awful I'll dump it.


Bye Bye Beasties

Tomorrow the pest control guys come to put out traps, block all the possible entrances the little buggars could be using and, hopefully, make it so I don’t cringe every time I open the door to our back room.

Now, I gotta admit that I’m not too excited about mice being killed in my house. I am less excited about dead mice being in my house until the traps are cleared. And I am not a bit thrilled about the prospect of clearing out the traps myself. Luckily my pest control guy could see the revulsion in my face and said that they would be out to empty the traps if I preferred. Oh, yes, I prefer.

Crusing through the web of knowledge (AKA the WWW) today I saw a Cat scarer. This is pretty neat; it works on an ultrasound frequency that is inaudible to humans but will keep cats out of gardens. Great if there are rogue cats chasing away your birds. It won’t hurt them, but it will annoy them enough to keep them away.

And the really cool thing… There’s one for mice. May have to look into that one a bit more if the problem continues here.


Hurtling Through Ireland

I have a new post up at Have Kid Will Travel. Driving through Ireland is one of my favorite things. We don't really have to be going anywhere... The scenery is gorgeous and the signs... Well, the signs are worthy of their own post. Go on over and see...


My Credit File is Protected. Is Yours?

I just got papers in the mail today letting me know that fraud alerts had been placed on both Doug’s and my credit reports. It wasn’t a surprise to me that these came as lifelock let me know a couple of weeks ago that they were going to renew the alerts for me.

Of course I could set the reports myself (and do the dozen other things that Lifelock does for me) but it’s really time consuming, the credit card companies don’t make it very easy and they try to sell you their products. I did it once myself- never again.

But since Doug and I are paying down our debt we are receiving more and more offers of credit which means there are more opportunities for someone to try to steal our identities. Quick fact from Consumer Affairs.com:

For the seventh year in a row, identity theft tops the Federal Trade
Commission's complaint list, accounting for 36 percent of the 674,354 complaints
received between January 1 and December 31, 2006.
Seriously, that is a huge number. And the people who do this are savvy. Lifelock helps me keep closer track of what’s going on with our personal information. They send out regular emails to let me know what they will be doing and what, if anything, will be coming to my home. Great services, great customer service and peace of mind.

In my opinion it's well worth the annual fee.


About Polar Bears

There are certain members of our society, I think you know the ones, who want to put a species that is increasing in numbers on the "endangered" species list. I don't agree and neither should any other sane person.

Global warming ended in 1998, we've had a plateau for 10 years and now it looks like we are going the other way. Which, of course, is much worse for the world, though it will take a few more years to know for certain. Global warming opens up new areas for farming and living, global cooling does the opposite. However, if the pattern holds, it will take 10 to 20 years for the media and the "elite" to notice.


Are Your Photos Protected?

You know you should do it. You even think about it every now and then as you see your storage getting full. But you put it off. And put it off. And then, one day, it’s gone. It’s all gone.

We’ve all had it happen- the blue screen of death. And I’m pretty sure we’ve all lost stuff that we were sorry to lose.

But the question is: Did you learn from your mistakes? Do you utilize any Online Backup options? Or are you still taking chances?

If you haven’t looked in to any Online Backup sites let me direct you to a great one: IDrive.com. You can store up to 2GB online for free or have unlimited storage for $4.95 per month. And they just launched IDrive online backup for Mac OS X users.

Easy to use, quick to set up, and secure. Go now- store those valuable photos online for free.


But That Would Be Like Taxing Success...

>> Sunday, May 11, 2008

Big, bad oil makes an average profit of about 8%. Yes, it's hard to believe, I know. Much of the cost of oil is tied up in federal and state taxes. Why isn't there an attack on "big software" which averages 22% profit? Or maybe "big university"...

Did you know that Harvard pays no taxes on it's $34 billion endowment? In fact, Harvard could let students attend for free from now until the end of time and not run out of money. But to tax the collenge endowment would be like taxing success... Ummm, yeah. What's the problem?

Check out this transcript from last week on Glenn Beck.

Hmmm... $34 billion. That's more than the national operating costs for some countries...


Happy Mother's Day

Today has dawned cold and windy here. A day perfect only for sleeping or watching movies on TV. Yuck. Luckily that's all I really feel like doing today as the past couple days were whilrwinds of activity ending with the garage sale yesterday.

Which was slow as yesterday was cold and rainy. Moms with kids stayed home and since the bulk of the items were kids' clothes... Well, I have a lot to put on eBay and we'll have another sale closer to the beginning of school. (Yep,I'm a glutton for punsihment.)

Doug did his Mother's Day shopping direct from my Amazon Wish List. I had three tiems on it. Now I have none.

Caelan got be a beautiful silver plated tea strainer. The note attached read "Let's play kitchen", which is something she loves to do.

Brenna gave me a beautiful new book of Irish Walled Towns. The attached note said "When can we go back to Ireland?", which is something she still asks every day.

And Doug got me the exercise ball chair. There was no note attached. lol

Now I am off to church to get the infant's room set up and then back home to get my family ready for church. Maybe when the girls are older I'll get breakfast in bed...


Roman Holiday

>> Saturday, May 10, 2008

Because we travel with the kids we rarely stay in hotels. We always look for something more “homey”- a B&B, vacation home or rental apartment. This works best for us because then we can put the girls in a separate room, away from us, and it is almost normal. If they are in one room with us it’s suddenly a party for them and no one sleeps very well.

And because we travel quite a bit- and have plans made for years to come- I am bookmarking sites as I come across them. Today, as I was imagining what to use my garage sale money for (no, I didn’t make enough to take a trip), I clicked a link and then another and pretty soon I was browsing Rome apartment rentals.

If your plans will be taking you to Rome in the future be sure to check out VacationRentalRome.com. The site is really easy to use and using their maps you can find the perfect area to base yourself in depending on what you want to do.

And be sure to bookmark it. You know I did!


Mice and Arm Waders

>> Friday, May 09, 2008

My day began with me walking into our spare basement room (which is next to the storage room) to use the weight machine. I must have been a bit too early because as I moved one of the makeshift mouse food storage units (that I photographed yesterday but had yet to remove from my house) I disturbed one. Or maybe more. I didn't stick around long enough to see.

The scream that emitted from my throat was enough to get Doug out of bed to see if I was ok. Yeah, just surprised as I hadn't actually seen one until then.

But, hey, everyone was out of bed early and the girls and I were able to hit some great garage sales before the masses had dropped off their oldest kids at school.

Small suggestion to those planning garage sales: if you have clothes out on tables take a few extra minutes to label what sizes are where. Because, quite honestly, you will sell more clothes if people know where to look for the sizes they want. I refuse to dig. And maybe I'm the only one- but I bet not.

My mom came over with lunch (Mexican) and played with the girls while I put together my own garage sale (tomorrow- with signage).

And now, while the girls are sleeping, I am going to begin emptying out that back storage room. It will be empty. And once the little dead bodies of mice begin to quit filling the traps (which won't be set until next Tuesday) I'm pretty sure I'll be bleaching the room. Because... Ick. Just... Ick.

I need waders for my hands and arms... I think I recall my dad and grandfather having gloves that went to their armpits for working with cows during calving. Yep- all the way up to the armpit. It was calling "pulling" a calf. Yes, just how it sounds. And I guess cow contractions can be pretty painful if your arm is in there. Wonder if they have those gloves at the local Farm & Fleet?


Vegas, Baby.

I spoke with one of my girlfriends recently and she and her fiancé are planning on eloping to Vegas for a quickie wedding followed by a Hawaiian honeymoon. She let me know for two reasons: 1) I am a great travel planner and 2) I get to witness the joyous occasion.

She lives in Minneapolis, which is handy as Sun Country flies to Vegas daily. That is doubly great because Advantage Car Rental offers a free day’s rental if you fly Sun Country. Excellent because I’m working on a budget.

I hadn’t worked with Advantage.com before but their website is really easy to use and their prices are very competitive. If you have plans to rent a car this summer be sure to check them out. Myself, I’m planning on a convertible and maybe a drive across the Hoover Dam. (Did anyone get a vision of "Fools Rush In"?)

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