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

Now I Think I Shouldn't Have Had That Blizzard

>> Thursday, July 31, 2008

As I sit here at the end of a very long day, near the end of a very long week and looking forward to two very long and busy days I am enjoying a DQ Blizzard and cruising the internet, hoping to stay awake long enough for Doug to finish the conference call he has been on since he walked in the door and take a shower. Oh, and I need to take some stuff out of the dryer.

But for the moment I am enjoying my calorie laden ice cream treat and relaxing with a few fun websites.

And then I see it: Best Diet Pills!!!

Of course I don’t stop eating my tasty treat but it does make me stop and think…

I’ve had a few issues with my weight since having the girls. I’m not as active as I used to be and though I don’t eat any differently than I ever have my body treats food differently. I’ve got some stubborn pounds, ok about 35 stubborn pounds, stuck to my hips, thighs and stomach that I wish weren’t there. And I know that if I really worked at it I could probably do something about it.

But it’s just so much work… And I’m tired. So I’m drawn to PricesExposed.net which says it has a thorough analysis of the world’s best diet pills. And there, on the front page, are the “top 10”. And reading through the claims I have to admit I become tempted. Especially by the #1 product, Lipovox, because it not only provides weight loss but also perfect skin. Two problems, one pill. Amazing.

Or is it too amazing to be true? Because you know what they say about things that are too good to be true… But right about now, after I finish this ice cream treat, I think about what I’ve eaten and wonder if the short term satisfaction was really worth it.

What’s your plan? Do you diet and exercise (which I really try to do but life gets in my way) or do you have the Best Diet Pills known to man? (And has anyone tried this Lipovox?)



After almost a week of set up and preparing the garage sale began slowly this evening. Granted, I didn't advertise it to begin to night- I only told a few people and my mom's group that they could come by for a preview. So I'm not going to complain about the results.

Tomorrow, however... Well, that will be another story. I fully expect people to be parked outside my house when I get home with my babysitter at 7:20am. I fully expect people to be packing into my garage while I am trying to get stuff moved out of it. I fully expect to want to tell people off within the first 20 minutes.

But it will all be ok because I fully expect to pay off the balance that remains on my washer and dryer (or pretty darn close). And then my debt snowball will begin to roll...


I Love Postcards

OK, I may be out of the loop, but I only recently noticed the trend of inserting RSVP cards in with invitations. Weddings, birthdays, dinner parties… It seems like every invitation I receive lately has a postcard to be returned.

Which is a really good idea. I gotta admit I am a stickler for RSVPs so having Postcards custom made for that purpose kinda makes me giddy.

I was actually hanging out over at VistaPrint earlier this week working on invites for my brother and SIL’s wedding party when I thought about custom designing Postcards for RSVPs. The possibilities are really endless… With VistaPrint’s easy to use templates you can upload photos and add text until you have your own perfect creation.

And then I saw that you can get 50 free oversized Postcards just by using this code: PC50. Sweet!

And I began imagining what I could use postcards for. Here’s my list:
*Thank you cards for birthday gifts
*Christmas cards (saves on postage!)
*New Year’s Party invites
*Change of address cards (no, we aren’t moving but I’m still hoping Doug will get an offer in the UK)
*Custom notecards to give as gifts to great grandparents

What do you like to use postcards for?


Giveaways Galore

Have you guys seen the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival yet?

The last time I was there there were 972 giveaways! How crazy is that?

My giveaway is nuber 688. Don't forget to enter!

Other giveaways of note:

A $50 Target giftcard (who can't use that?) at Unexpected Bliss

A Coach boho bag (so cute!) at La Vie de Laurie

Lots of Starbucks cards- here's one...

Barnes and Noble GC over at Jen's (a fellow Iowa Mom)

And another $50 giftcard to Target at Iowa Mom (and if you enter there tell her I sent ya. That's Jody at Iowa Geek in case you're lost).

Seriosuly, there are just too many gret things to win. If you haven't started yet be prepared to sit at your computer for HOURS!


It's A What?

>> Wednesday, July 30, 2008

OK, so I’m going through garage sale stuff and I come across something my dad dropped off… I have no clue what it is. Neither does Doug. In fact, my dad doesn’t either. His ex-wife bought it somewhere (the woman would spend money on absolutely anything) and it’s been sitting in a box in his basement ever since.

I would try to describe it but it is hard to put into words. Luckily there is an image definition site out there to help me with this conundrum. All I have to do is post an image, give any info I have and someone, somewhere will hopefully have the answer I need.

I just learned about PicAnswers.com and I’m gonna warn you that it’s addictive. It’s a reference and trivia site where you can upload photos and ask questions (like “What the heck is this?”), share interesting things you’ve found or ask for an opinion (one girl is asking for input on her prom dress).

It’s a really fun site to click around and it’s free to sign up to post your own images or provide answers.

Oh, and apparently the apparatus is a mango slicer. You know, because mangos are plentiful here in Iowa. Ummm, call me crazy, but I've always used a knife...


Like You Want to Hear It... More Garage Sale Stuff

Yes, the garage sale is taking up most of my time. Here's my garage so far:

garage sale 004 garage sale 005

As you can see it's pretty full. I'm working on rows. And in between the rows is the stuff that will go outside.

I should probably mention that there is still stuff in my basement and my sister, SIL and a friend from church still have stuff to bring over. Did I mention this is going to be HUGE?

I know I said that my dad brought over a bunch of stuff... Some of that stuff is art. Huge framed prints like this Carl Valente 30x24 matted and framed print ($150), a pair of Lena Y Liu limited edition floral arch prints matted & framed ($150 for the pair) and two Terry Doughty prints (The Good 'Ol Days and Come Rain or Shine) that are matted and framed ($50 each).

And I have a much loved pink leather laptop case from Wilson's Leather. My laptop is too big to fit in it. Which sucks becuase I love that bag... $20

garage sale 002

And so much more... Honestly, if you want it I probably have it... Here's the Craigs List link. See anything you need?


Soggiorno come un local a Roma (or Stay Like a Local in Rome)

Doug and I love to vacation in cities. We love the history, the museums, the restaurants. Unfortunately those things don’t interest the girls in the least. So while large cities are on our list of places to visit they are further down as the girls need to be older to enjoy them with us (a lesson we learned in Dublin when Brenna was one).

One city we do plan to visit is Rome. It’s about #5 on our list right now which will make Brenna 14 and Caelan 12 when we go. But just because it’s down our list a ways doesn’t mean that I’m not looking at travel resources when they come my way.

One of the biggest expenses you have when you travel anywhere is lodging. I added www.vacationrentalrome.com to my travel favorites just the other day. I really like this site not only because I can find a discount Rome hotel but because I can view other options- like B&Bs, rental apartments or even villas. And I can narrow my choice by location.

For myself, personally, I would choose the Monteverde area and rent an apartment. It’s residential so you would “live” and blend in with the locals but it’s also well connected to what you want to see. Because, while it’s nice to visit a city it’s even better to experience it like a local.


Get A Deal

>> Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Our last FPU class was all about deals. You know- those great things you never pay retail for and must brag about to anyone who will listen.

I admit that I am not good at dealing. Nope, I pay what I am asked and go about my business. Oh, I usually know how much I am willing to pay before I head out to shop and I'm pretty sure I don't get ripped off but I don't make a habit of haggling on price.

Dave has these tips:

*Buy "seasonal" items during the off season.
*Look for great deals on electronics that are a year or two old.
*Always practice comparison shopping. (I always do this)
*Assume that you can always get a better price if you just ask. (I never do this)
*Don't be afraid to say, "That's not good enough!" (I need to work on this)
*Buy on auction sites or price comparison sites (just know your limit if you're on an auction site. Don't over bid because you got caught in the moment)

Once you begin paying for everything with cash you will see the power it has. I honestly can not wait to pay cash for a car- and pay way below the sticker price!

And speaking of deals- don't overlook the mother of all deals: the garage sale.

Which is what I should get back to. I just unpacked and priced enough formal lace tablecloths to make an octogenarian comfortable in my garage...

For more Dave check out his July newsletter online. And don't foget to enter my contest to win the Total Money Makeover book and workbook!


Cowboys in Dusty Wranglers and Women in Sparkly Dresses

We’re coming up to the Iowa State Fair here in just another week… How? How is summer already over? It rained all summer long. I want a do over…

Ahem. As I was saying the state fair is just around the corner. I was looking through the entertainment and schedules I was a bit dismayed to see that there is not a rodeo scheduled. Not at all. What? This is Iowa- the land of farms and cows. I remember going to rodeos at the county fair when I was growing up. How is it that our state fair has no rodeo?

But you know where there is a rodeo? In Las Vegas. In December (which is probably the best time to visit Vegas – the weather is temperate then). I know- it’s weird. But Vegas got the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 1984 when they guaranteed greater cash prizes than the cowboys were receiving in Oklahoma City (where the rodeo had been held for 2 decades).

Ahhh, see… Now it all makes sense… It comes down to money. And, well, Vegas probably draws more of a crowd and where else can you see cowboys in dusty Wranglers mixing with sparkly women?

It almost makes me want to order some WNFR Tickets and book a flight to Vegas for December.

Actually that might not be a bad idea… I think 1” of rain is equal to 12” of snow and if this weather pattern doesn’t stop it may be the only chance we have to get out of here!


I'm Back!

Those Qwest locations in the mall actually come in handy! Doug was able to get a new DSL modem last night. Unfortunately when we got it hooked up there was an outage in our area. Arrgghh!

But I'm back now and trying to get caught up. So many emails to answer and blogs to visit.

But the garage sale stuff needs to come first. Lots of things I need to check online for an idea of pricing. My dad moved and is unloading a lot of art his ex-wife left. Of course the woman lived to spend money so I know she overspent and he's not going to recoup much of that cash.

It'snot even funny how full my garage is- and there are still 3 people who have stuff to bring! It better not rain because some of it has to go outside! If you're in my area and want to see what I've got leave me a comment or drop me an email and I'll get the newly updated Craigs List link to you!


Possible Withdrawl- A Copy & Paste from Earlier

>> Monday, July 28, 2008

So… It’s not quite 7 am and I am sitting at the kitchen table without internet… Ugh. Without internet. Inconceivable!

So what do I need to share today?

How about the irony I feel when I look outside at my flooded backyard and remember the landscaping contractor saying to me, “It going to be a dry summer.” We got over 3” of rain last night and the creek rose rapidly. I could take more pictures but why bother? You’ve seen them here and it looks pretty much the same.

Doug, my brothers and my BIL helped my dad move yesterday. He is now in a townhome here in our little ‘burb. I was kind of surprised when I heard that as I thought he was wanting to stay closer to my brother on the south side of town. Lots of stuff was added to my garage sale- washer & dryer, refrigerator, a bajillion pieces of hoilday decor...

Did I mention that I am without internet? The DSL modem went out yesterday afternoon and the technical support guy just went ahead and put in an order for a new one. I suppose it’s time since this modem has been with Doug longer than I have.

So I will be visiting my brother’s house daily until I get hooked up again. I figure it’s the best place to go- they have wireless internet, toys and cable TV. It will be almost like being at home (but with cable!). So if you’re emailing me don’t expect a prompt reply. (edited to add: my brother has DishNetwork. I have no idea why, but their remote control is impossible for me to operate. Can't. Figure. It. Out.)

If I must be forced to find a silver lining in all this I suppose it’s that I have a garage full of stuff that needs organized and priced so I’m gonna be too busy to miss my interent.

HA! Like that could happen! But at least I’ll keep busy…



>> Saturday, July 26, 2008

Spent the morning cleaning the garage, attempting to arrange things a bit and moving some things out of my workout room and into the garage. But since I have other people bringing stuff over during the upcoming week I know my carefully thought out placements will be all shot to Hades.

Lunch. Doug made grilled cheese sandwiches with meat. I dug out two bags of chips. (I don't plan lunches very well...) Mmmm...

After lunch I soothed one exhausted girl into a nap (while Doug held the other down -yes, I'm serious; Brenna abhors naps- until she succumbed to her exhaustion) I was right back to setting up tables and moving things about.

Then a quick shower and off to the park for a small gathering. Which was really the last thing I wanted to do... A nice bath and sleep sounded much better.

At least we had fun. The girls are now in their beds playing (instead of sleeping) - which shoot tomorrow morning's plans of early church right out of the water. sigh

I think I'm done. I hear a soothing bath and a trashy romance calling my name.


If You Stop By This Weekend...

I'm going to be cleaning out my garage in preparation for next weekend's big sale...

Here are a few recent highlights:

Have you voted for me to win my dream job yet? So far I'm the most popular by a pretty big margin. But the contest goes for another 41 days. Luckily you can vote every day! Help a girl out, will ya?

My newest giveaway is for Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover Book & Workbook. These have made such a difference in our lives. Even if you don't need them you know someone who does. Enter today- contest ends Wednesday the 30th.

Speaking of Dave Ramsey, he strongly urges parents to teach their kids about money early. Brenna and Caelan had their first lesson the other day.

I won Paula's contest. As an added bonus I got to meet her. Of course her recounting of the event is much better than mine.

Have a great weekend! I'll check in if I can get things cleaned up quickly!


Carpal Tunnel Relief for Daily Life

I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my right wrist lately. My hand will go numb when I sleep (and the pain of it will wake me!) or if I am doing something during the day and move it wrong a shooting pain runs through my arm.

Almost 15 years ago, when I was a hairstylist, I had a really bad problem with tendonitis in that wrist. It got so bad that I had to quit doing hair. That was the beginning, I believe, of what is now progressing into a carpal tunnel problem that has been fueled by caring for children and lots of typing at the computer.

My chiropractor gave me a brace to wear to bed, which helps a bit, but is almost impossible to wear during the day. It has a metal support in the base so any type of wrist movement is physically impossible.

Recently I became aware of the IMAK Smart Glove. It’s a strong cotton Lycra® (so it can be washed) that holds the wrist in place but still allows flexibility and movement. There is also a massaging ergoBeads™ pad under the wrist to cushion it when I am typing.

Finally- carpal tunnel relief that I can live with! And I can pay for it with my HSA money. I’ll be getting one of these today! Before I start cleaning the garage!


Sponsored by IMAK


A McCain Speech I Can Get Behind

>> Friday, July 25, 2008

“Take taxpayers off hook for rot at Fannie, Freddie”

Yes! More please.

Added by Jody: Now I just want to hear him tell the environmentalists to shut up until they have a solution and aren't just whining. And I want him to tell Al Gore to talk to the rest of the scientists who say he's full of crap. Oh, and I want him to say he will drill in ANWAR in his forst 100 days. Then he'll have my vote.


A "Broken Heart" is Worth $150,000

Seriously? This woman sued her ex-fiance for breach of contract because he called off the wedding and won $150,000?

Shell argued her fiance's promise of marital bliss amounted to a binding
contract. She said she left a high-paying job in Florida to be with Gibbs and
she said she has suffered financial losses since their break-up. She also said
she has suffered emotionally.

Who hasn't "suffered emotionally" from a break up? If that's the case there are a few guys I need to look up- I think I'm owed some monies.

There is a survey on the news website, though, and it seems that most right thinking people see this as just plain stupid.

I hope his lawyer is smart and appeals the ruling- maybe on the grounds of impersonating a person with money:
Gibbs testified that he had taken Shell on trips and paid $30,000 of her
debt while they were engaged. He said when he found out she had even more

'Cuz I would have dumped her, too.

Think she'll use the money to pay off her debt?


If You're Card Shopping

I’ve been writing about our debt and our goal to be out of it within the next 12 months. As ashamed as I am to admit it, much of our debt does involve credit cards. It doesn’t matter how or why, it’s just fact.

While the advisor we follow does not condone card-swapping (trading a high interest card for a zero interest card) I completely understand the desire to do so- especially when you have really high interest rates.

If you absolutely must have a Credit Card do your search with CardHub.com. I tried it out and it’s very easy. On the left side of the page you just choose what you want in a credit card (low rates, no annual fees, and what network you wish to work with). As you narrow down the choices CardHub narrows down your selections. And the selections are right there in front of you as you go. Really, it's quite nice.

My only problem was that I was left with one card choice after leaving open all networks but Discover- and that choice was American Express. Not much of a choice if I were searching for a Credit Card. But with one click of an intro rate button I had more choices, so it’s easy to modify your search.


How long can you take it?

>> Thursday, July 24, 2008

I lasted 3 minutes before my spinal cord levitated me off my chair and my teeth were rattling hard enough to knock my glasses off...


Happy Dance! Happy Dance! I Won!

I know you will all be jealous when I tell you this- I actually won a contest! Yes, me. I never win. Ever! I won this totally cute ABC Album and Stickers from Paula. But you know what's even better? Since she lives right here in my town she delivered it and I got to meet her. Yep, see you're totally jealous 'cuz I have a bloggy friend that I can see in person.
Of course she came when the girls were winding down for bed so they were all wound up and showing off. And I was looking quite harried after the bathroom incident. So she may have just hung around for a little while so it didn't seem like she was rushing off...
But, back to my winnings... Paula is so kind that she is extending this great offer to all you losers everyone else: visit her Creative Memories website, check out all the great stuff that on sale and then email her your order- she'll give you another 15% off. She's good like that.


How Do Your Char Your Flesh?

Doug and I have one big difference of opinion. So big, in fact, that it actually keeps me from firing up our grill. Ever.

No, it’s not that men are better at cooking over fire (where did they get that idea anyway?). It’s that he likes to actually cook over fire.

Yes, my husband prefers an open charcoal fire in his grill. And I am not a big fan of standing in smoke, no matter how nice the steak may taste. Electric BBQ Grills are more my speed. No fire to get out of control, less nasty black charring when it does (never if it does), and no messy charcoal.

Of course we have only one grill right now (his) but one day we will probably have two- and I’ve got mine picked out. The Electri-Chef Pedestal Base Electric Grill at QuickSupply.net (‘cuz they have free shipping. Just because I want the best doesn’t mean I’m gonna pay more than I have to!)

Of course I had to browse around their website and I found one that I may want even more- it mounts indoors into your kitchen island. Mmmm… grilled food all year long without standing in the cold (brrrr…) or in your garage (stupid!). Oh, yeah, that’s what I want!


I Should Have Known

I was doing dishes and laundry. The girls weren't really impressed with my housekeeping abilities so they went upstairs to play in their room. Ahhh... I love that.

I finished what I was doing and ran downstairs to grab my computer and the monitor so I could listen to them better. But I wasn't so worried. I could hear laughter and they seemed to be having fun.

Then I listened to the monitor and heard... Wait, is that water? What are they doing?

So, stupid me, I ask. "Brenna, what are you doing?"

"Playing in the bathroom."

Up the stairs I ran. To find both girls perched on top of the vanity, feet splashing in the full sink, both of them drenched. Did I mention that the bathroom floor had standing water on it? And that the rug was soaked?

I grab each child from the sink, give them a swat (which phased them not at all) and sent them to their room. And then I yelled. "I've told you not to play in the bathroom! Why don't you listen to me? Do you know what you've done?" (yeah, they didn't really do anything that was unfixable but, darn it, what else could I say without spewing lots of words they shouldn't hear?)


I cooled down by mopping up water with towels, tossing out ruined toilet paper from under the vanity and emptying drawers of their flooded contents.

Afterwards my kids played in their room, still in their wet clothes, like nothing happened.

I never bothered to change them...


Something to Think About Before Enhancing Yourself

Once upon a time you could say I knew a whole lot about breast augmentation. Not mine, of course; I’m all natural. But about half of the women I knew and saw on a daily basis had enhancements.

I will never forget the day one of my best friends called me to tell me that her boob had deflated. I don’t know that there is a good way to respond to that; it sounds funny even now. And to see it was even more odd. It was like her entire breast had caved in. Weird.

But, honestly, it wasn’t that much of a laughing matter as it required breast revision surgery- or surgery to replace the implants she had with new ones. And, of course, they couldn’t do just one breast because, in order for them to match again, both had to be replaced. The healing period was about the same as it was after her initial surgery so she needed a lot of help for a few days after.

Did you know that it is recommended that implants be replaced every 10 years for safety purposes and because of natural deflation? I didn’t either, but breast revision is a big (pardon the pun) thing now, especially with the problems that women were experiencing with silicone implants in the 1990s. Definitely something to keep in mind if you are considering implants.


It's Never too Early to Teach Your Kids About Money

With the way Brenna's schedule works out this fall she will be eating lunch at preschool every Friday after she finishes gymnastics and before she goes to class. The preschool calls it "Lunch Bunch" and she'll be in in for an hour. She is very excited; eating lunch without Mommy is a very "big girl" thing to do.

Well, we were in Target the other day and the "Back to School" aisles beckoned me,like they always do. Paper, pencils, organizers, Trapper Keepers... I wish I was going to school...

Anyway, knowing the girls would both need crayons and glue sticks I grabbed some while they were on sale.

And then we passed the lunch totes. Nope, they're not lunch boxes anymore, now they are pretty little coolers with great characters on them. And Brenna instantly saw Tink. And wanted her.

Poor Brenna! Before Dave I probably would have bought it for her without a though. But I am on my budget, you see, and the school supplies budget is only $10 per month (they're in pre-school, they don't need much) and that pretty lunch tote would have eaten up the enitre month's budget.

So Brenna, knowing she had money in the bank from birthdays and change she "collected" from Mommy & Daddy, said she wanted to buy it herself.

To really drive the point home we went in to the bank and withdrew the money for her to spend. Caelan withdrew some money, too, because it wouldn't be fair for Brenna to get something and Caelan not.

Here is our little outing: bank, shopping and paying for our own goodies. Enjoy!


Help Me Win My Dream Job!

>> Wednesday, July 23, 2008

OK, who here doesn’t know about my dream job? Really? How could you miss it? Well, if you have, my dream job is to travel and share where we go, what we do and how we do it with two kids- and remain sane!

I just entered the Dream Job For a Day contest at FutureResume.com. Here’s my video resume: (warning! Cute kids!)

Help me to win my chance at my dream job! Just click the link... Yeah, that one there... Where it says dream job... Check out my video & vote for me.

Of course you could always make your own video for your own dream job.


Err, what?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a policy President Clinton got implemented in 1993. This further proves that protesters, the media and even some congress critters don't know what they are talking about. They want the ban lifted - get this - so that gays can serve in the military....Of course, lifting Don't Ask Don't Tell does the opposite.

Time indicates that this policy "barring bisexuals, gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military" blah, blah needs lifted so that gays can serve. To repeat the title...Err, what?

Don't Ask Don't Tell was implemented by Clinton in order to keep gays IN THE MILITARY! The normal policy is to discharge gays once proof is disclosed. Clinton's policy made it so that the only way you can get discharged for homosexual behavior is if you walk up to your First Sergeant and demand released because you are attracted to members of your own sex. The reason homosexual discharges when UP when this policy was implemented is because service members realized that it was an easy way to leave service early with an honorable discharge. Unlike the old policy, the new one does not required proof, just a personal admission. I was in the military from 1986 to 1996, Clinton's policy was a joke. And, as expected, an easy "out" for those that wanted to take it.

So there you have it; liberal protesters, the media and Democratic members of Congress want the military to monitory homosexual behavior again and oust members that get caught.


Here's a good idea...

Start up an Obama-meter.

What would be a good way to measure all of the "misinterpretations", "clarifications", "misspeak", and other blatherings from the media's golden child?


It's Coming Together

I'm hoping the new and improved Iowa Geek will be up and running by the end of the week. I have just a few more things to check out and then I'll be making the switch.

So if you happen to log on and things are jumbled for a while don't worry! We're just undergoing a few little growing pains. Until then let me know what you think of my new design!


Questions? Let's Discuss...

I’ve been thinking of adding a travel forum Have Kid Will Travel. I get lots of questions emailed to me and sometimes I wonder if a forum wouldn’t be a better place for Q&A.

I haven’t set it up yet because, quite honestly, it’s a lot work. Not only to maintain it but also to set it up. So much to know…

Well, it was a lot of work. Earlier this week I found Forumity.com a Free Forum Hosting site that does all the hard work for me. And I can attach it seamlessly to my own domain.


Maybe that travel forum isn’t too far away after all!
Sponsored by Forumity.com


It's Gonna Be Huge

>> Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My home gym has ceased to be a home gym. Now it's garage sale room. Yes... Quite sadly I have clothing hanging from my pulldown bar. There are so many boxes and containers in the room that I can't use my elliptical machine. In fact it's difficult to squeeze through the room to get to the actual storage room to retrieve the vacuum!

Oh, yeah, this is going to be one huge sale.

I placed my ad in our local paper today. It's a long ad. Lots of stuff... little girl's clothing, boy's clothing, IKEA storage, changing table, kitchen cart/island, toddler bed & mattress, books, CDs, DVDs, games, computers...

And the list goes on and on... And more is getting added all the time. I actually posted on Craig's List!

Because it is going to be so big I will be preparing for it all week. Yep, this weekend's plans center around completely cleaning our garage out, hanging bikes and trailers, and positioning things in a very open way, so as to accommodate all the people who will descend upon my home.

Tables will hold computers set up to test before purchase. Another will have a CD player. I'll even have the laptop out there so people can test DVDs if they want to. No changing rooms, though.

I'm even selling one of my all-time-favorite-things: our In Step Stroller/Backpack. We toted Brenna all over Ireland in this and Caelan probably covered most of central Iowa. And you can't get them anymore. Best thing EVER!

We are selling so much stuff that the girls are afraid I might put a price on them! HA! Like anyone would buy them! But, like I said, it's gonna be huge. And very well organized.

If you're interested in the Craig's List-ing let me know- I'll drop it to you in an email.


Keep Your Cool

Doug and I had a long discussion about cars the other day. Specifically our cars. And how we will never have a car loan again. Cash only from now on. And, honestly, if we get all the bills paid off it won’t take long until I can own my dream car outright. (Thanks Dave!)

Until then we have to keep the ones we have running and in good shape. So when the air conditioning in the truck did a weird thing yesterday I looked in to what repairs and auto ac parts might run me. Because if it’s sputtering it will probably go out soon. (I’m just hoping it will wait until summer is over)

Luckily my dad is a pretty good mechanic and he said it’s probably just the ac compressor (what ever that is) and he can fix it without much hassle. And since I can order the parts online (with free shipping from discountacparts.com) I can save a bundle. ‘Cuz if I feed my dad and buy him some beer he’s paid.


In Case You Missed It

>> Monday, July 21, 2008

Pictures of my pretty, pretty princesses.

Caelan got a new bed- but she slept on the floor.

I'm working on my new template. Tell me what you think!

Glenn Beck '08- Unelectable video here. Good stuff. And oh so true.


Make Sure You're Insured

Last week's FPU class was all about insurance. That stuff we have to have but we hate to have t so we skimp when we can.

Well, I'm here to tell you that you need to be careful about what you skimp on! Because I used to be an insurance agent. And I keep very close track of our coverage. With our litigious (that means sue the pants off you if I spill hot coffee in my lap) society you have to be covered.

Our goal is to transfer our risk now (or buy insurance) so that, in the future, we can self insure (not buy insurance).

Here's what you need:

  • Homeowner's or renter's insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Long term care insurance (at age 60)
  • Identity theft protection
  • Life insurance

Yeah, I know that's a lot, but bear with me.

You already know about home and auto, right? Wrong. Check your homeowner's policy. Is your house insured for "guaranteed" replacement cost? Probably not- most companies don't write that kind of policy anymore. Most likely you have a cap on the cost- usually about 20% above the declared value of your home when you wrote the policy. Make sure you keep the value of your home correct. You should sit down with your insurance agent once a year to review.

And on your auto... What are your liability limits? Most people have them at the state's minimum (usually 100/300). Do you know what those numbers mean? They mean that if you hit a car full of people your insurance will pay $100,000 per person or $300,000 per incident. That's not a lot of money when it comesto hospital bills. Look into higher liability limits.

On top of those two coverages ask your agent about an "umbrella" policy. For pennies a day you can add a million dollars of coverage- just in case. If you own anything- anything- you need this coverage.

Health insurance... Ugh. There's a sore topic right now, huh? I'm going to tell you right now that government health care is not the answer. I have friends in Canada who pay more a month for their "free" health care than I pay to supply my own. If you're healthy look in to an HSA. Love, love, love it! It's a large deductible but if you're healthy it's the best deal around. Look in to it. For more read "Do I really need health insurance?"

Disability insurance... I have mixed thoughts on this. If you are in a skilled labor position get this NOW! We honestly don't have it for Doug because he would have to lose both arms and the ability to speak before he would get pay outs from disability. OK, so that may be a bit extreme. But desk jockeys pay low rates for a reason. It's an easy insurance to get, it's a hard insurance to get, if you get my meaning. Here's more...

Long term care... People are living longer. How likely are you to have your parents move in with you? Do you want to move in with your kids? 'Nuff said. If you're 60 or older get some.

Identity theft protection... Ugh. I've had my identity "borrowed". It sucks. I use Lifelock now. For just over $230 per year they monitor my credit, Doug's credit and the credit of both the girls. Noone even peeks at our credit reports without me knowing it. Yes, it sucks that you need this. But the alternative is worse. Trust me. More on how to Protect yourself from identity theft...

Life insurance... is not an investment vehicle. Returns are low, the insurance company keeps the cash value when you die (betcha didn't know that, did you?) and fees are high. Buy level term life insurance and invest the difference. Don't buy any options (like accidental death. You aren't any more dead. If you want more life insurance just get more.) For more in depth see "The truth about life insurance"

Now that you made it here I bet you feel pretty overwhelmed... I know I did. And I was already doing most of this stuff! Here's something to help you feel better- follow this link and enter to win Total Money Makeover and the TMMO Workbook. These books completely changed the way we look at and treat the money we have. I'm not even joking when I say that. Changed our lives.


Are You On the Move?

My family has been very blessed. We have not had to watch a loved one fight the terrible disease that is Alzheimer’s. The closest I have come to this disease is watching an amazing man succumb from afar. That man was Ronald Reagan.

To see such a man, such a great leader, slowly wither was heart wrenching. His passing, after so many years of suffering, was almost like a hiccup on a sob at the end of an amazing life.

As our population lives longer Alzheimer’s diagnoses are increasing. To help find a cure won’t you join, volunteer with or make a donation to the Alzheimer's Memory Walk?

If you’ve never experienced a large fundraiser you have no idea how amazing you can feel by selflessly helping others. It’s truly amazing. Contact your local chapter today and join the Memory Walk.

Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the US. Every 71 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Those are huge numbers; all it takes is for one person you know to be diagnosed. The possibility isn’t all that remote. Join the Alzheimer's Memory Walk. Get on the move.
Sponsored by Alzheimer's Walk


Get Your Clix

A new photo studio opened here a few weeks ago. Since they sent out a coupon I thought I would try them out and get a picture of the girls in the dresses I just couldn't pass by at Younker's a month ago.

The studio is called Cl!x and I was in hopes that I would love it. And I'm just not sure.
The photo session itself was fine. The lady who did the pictures was quite good with the girls- although Caelan was very stingy with her smiles.
But it was what happened after that leaves me wondering about this place. First of all, the only prices listed- anywhere- begin at two sheets for $50. Of course that includes the sitting fee, but jeeze, that's steep. And then there are the "extras" that are on a "points" system. No money, just points. That you "earn" as you spend more money. I hate things like that. Just give me prices. None of this other crap.
But I stuck to my plan of just "checking them out" and left, paying only for my one pose package for $9.95. Because this is a same day photo place we went next door for ice cream while our photos printed.
When I returned to get the pictures they weren't done. Nor were they done when Doug stopped by on his way home to get them. It seems that their printers weren't really big enough to print the two HUGE orders of the ladies who were in before me. So my "same day" pictures... weren't.

I was not impressed. I really felt like this was going to be an overpriced studio with too many gimmicks for me. And it still may be. But they kind of made up for the frustration I felt when I picked up the pictures the next morning.
Because they gave me copies of the second pose I loved. (Look at the toes. Awww...) And they gave me a coupon for a free 8x10 the next time I go in.
Well, crud. Maybe I'll try them again. They're still new... Maybe I shouldn't judge them harshly.
This time...


School Begins When?

So I’m looking at my calendar today, trying to figure out my schedule for August (how did it get so packed?) when I realized that school here in my suburb begins in just over two weeks.

Yes, you read that right- on August 14 the students head back to school. That doesn’t give me much time to get a few things for my cousin who has played “mother’s helper” all summer.

She’s an “alternative” type chickie so I have been contemplating getting her some Vans skate shoes. I think she would really like the Barclow Lazy Dots in red. No doubt she would tell me they make her dizzy. Then she would probably tell me a story about how she could trip people by making them stare at her shoes. She’s funny like that.

I guess I’ll sit her in front of the Vans at BuySkateShoes.com and see what she likes. It’s easier than taking her to the mall. And fighting the crowds. In the two weeks before school.


Caelan Got a New Bed- But She Slept on the Floor Last Night

The evening began in her bed. She was very excited to move to a "real" big girl bed and not be sleeping on the trundle any more. It was a very exciting event. And all was going well...

Until about 12:30am when thunder shook the house and lightning continually lit the sky. When I woke I was quite happy that the girls seemed to be sleeping through it. Well, for a couple of minutes, anyway. Very soon they were both downstairs.

To let Doug try to sleep I took the girls downstairs and settled them into the "teddy bear" chairs we got a few years ago at IKEA. Love these chairs... Their "innards" are like a lounge chair and ratchet into different positions allowing the chair to sit straight up, at an incline or lay flat. We had them laying flat with the arms up, "hugging" the girls.

I was able to get the girls settled in and asleep by about 1:45 or so.

And then, just as I was dozing off on the not-so-comfortable couch the tornado siren began to wail. And then Doug came downstairs to tell me the sirens were going off, get the girls in the closet.

We turned on the TV (did I mention that Doug bought an antenna? We now get the local news stations and PBS. Woo-Hoo, we're livin' the high life!) and see that a nasty storm with "rotation" is set to hit us in 60-90 seconds. Nice.
So we nestle the girls in our closet under the stairs (with me) while Doug monitors the storm. The wind was terribly strong and the rain was falling horizontally. It was nasty.
After the worst was gone Doug went back to the cozy bed, Brenna cuddled on her chair and Caelan, well, Caelan was awake and ready to play. Ugh. The last time I saw on the TV was 3:47am as the storm blew itself out of our area and the lightning ceased enough that Caelan wasn't giving me a running weather report.
It took a bit longer to get her to go to sleep on her bear. I wasnot ready for her to wake me, bright and chipper, at 8:30 this morning.
I forsee a lot of caffeine today...


Barack, A History

Don't drink while reading this. Fluid squirting through your nose is not a pleasant sight. You have been warned! :-)


Cord Blood Can Save Lives,Too

When I was pregnant with both my girls I read… A lot. If there was information out there I read it. New technology. Old home remedies. Online. Books. Magazines. You name it, I read it.

On thing I looked in to very seriously when I was pregnant with Caelan was banking her Cord Blood. At that time there was a lot of debate about Treating Diseases with Stem Cells but very few people were looking at The Value of Cord Blood and the stem cells that came from it. As I read more I wondered why so many people demanded we use the stem cells of aborted babies instead of the nourishing cord blood of healthy babies. It baffled me.

I looked in to Cryo-Cell, one of the largest and most established cord blood banks in the world. Ultimately I decided against it due to cost and our family’s health history. I, instead, decided to donate Caelan's cord blood to a public cord blood bank, where it could be used to help children (and adults) with diseases like leukemia, anemia, diabetes and cerebral palsy- among others.

I learned a couple things from this experience:
1) Public cord blood banks are full. This is very good news as more and more people are donating healthy cord blood for future use.
2) If there is any history of disease in your family storing the cord blood of your infant could, very possibly, save the life of someone you love.

This is definately something I suggest looking in to if you are pregnant, hoping to become pregnant or know someone who is.
Sponsored by Cryo-Cell


Just Two Things

>> Sunday, July 20, 2008

Really, I had only two things I hoped to accomplish this weekend.

1) I'm trying my hand at creating an acrylic album. I wanted to finish it. So far I have the first page done.

2) I'm redesigning the Iowa Geek layout and trying a new template. I really wanted to make a dent in it. Didn't even look at it.

So, what did I do? Hmmm, I baked bread & banana chocolate chip muffins... I'm vaguely aware of laundry being washed & folded... Surely something was cleaned...

Hmmm... I'm really not sure where my weekend went...


Free Travel

>> Saturday, July 19, 2008

I'm not sure how often any of you check out the Fun Stuff! page over at Have Kid Will Travel.... Just in case you don't I'll let you know that I post travel contests over there.

Right now there are opportunites to win trips to Brazil & Argentina or a trip to an American National Park.

And I keep adding them as I learn about them. Remember- you can't win if you don't play!


Ah, Small Town Life

>> Friday, July 18, 2008

When I begin to question this world I usually turn to my local paper where life moves just a bit slower and people notice the world around them.

In this story city workers rescue a group of baby ducks from a storm sewer. A citizen noticed the mother duck frantically quacking at the drain and called workers who rescued the ducklings and transported the tiny family to a near by pond.

It just makes me feel good about humanity.


I Know About Water Damage- I Live in Iowa

Last night we had a storm roll in just as we were getting home. As I drove home I could see the lightning ahead and knew we were in for quite a storm.

And storm it did. The rain was falling so hard that I couldn’t see across the creek to the house that I knew was there- with its lights on. I had to wait to drive my cousin home as I couldn’t see the road in front of me. It rained so hard so quickly that our creek rose to its high flood levels within 15 minutes. Even though we live on a hill I tend to worry about water damage when there is so much rain so quickly. I think everyone in Iowa does right about now.

Of course there are companies that specialize in handling those problems for you. If you happen to be looking for Connecticut basement waterproofing you might want to check out BudgetDry. With over 20 years of experience, the best warranty and guarantees you will find and prices that are at least 15% lower than those large companies it’s definitely worth your time to get the free written estimate.

Because you want to be prepared before you need to be prepared. Trust me- I live in Iowa…


I'd Vote for Glenn...

In case you've somehow missed it, I'm a pretty big fan of Glenn Beck. He says what I'm thinking. Often in a much more well researched and less offensive way.

Doug and I went to his "Beck '08- Unelectable" tour last night. It was pretty great. Not so great as actually having him stand right in front of you but still really darn funny. (Watch for it on DVD)

I found this clip of the opening online this morning.

And I had my handy Flip with me last night and took a few clips out of the second half that I thought were really important. Enjoy!


An Irish Christmas

I’m picking out the photos for our Christmas Cards this weekend.

Don’t freak out- your calendar isn’t wrong; it is still July. But it’s the end of July. In a week and a half it will be August. And just a couple short weeks after that school will begin. Then there will be tumbling and Spanish classes to get to, lots and lots of birthdays (4 in our family- ha! That’s all of us! And about 7 more in extended family), a couple of holidays, and BAM! It’s Thanksgiving and the Christmas cards aren’t ordered!

So, again, I’m picking out the photos for out Christmas Cards this weekend. We’ve got some really nice family shots from Ireland that I want to put on a photo card.

Yes, you read that right- I am not using “Christmas” photos on my cards. Who says you have to? In fact I was checking out the tips page at www.christmascardsdirect.com/tips and they have that little tidbit plus a lot of other photo taking tips you may not have thought of.

So the next time the kids are out playing snap some pictures. Who knows- they may end up on your Christmas cards!


Mmmm... Chinese Food

I really like Chinese food. Realllllyyyyy like it. But it's always been such a hassle to make it at home. Either I don't have the right equipment or I can't find all those weird ingredients. And even if I follow the directions perfectly it just never tastes as good as the restaurant. So I rarely make Chinese food.

Despite the failures I usually have with Chinese food I decided to try this new recipe: Spicy Orange Chicken Stirfry. No strange ingredients, no special tools. And it turned out great! So great, in fact, that my girls cleaned their plates! Did I mention that it's really easy? Yep, it is.

Fab Food Friday 115

Hungry yet?

Update from Doug: It was so good that when I took it in to work for lunch the next day, a co-worker who grew up in Shanghai commented on it too.


Be the "Go To" in Your Company

Doug is the “go to” guy at work. Really, wherever he works he ends up being the guy with all the answers. And that makes him indispensable. He stays on contracted assignments long after his contract has ended; long after the other contracted employees have been let go.

How does he do it? Well, first of all he asks a lot of questions. He isn’t content to just do what he is told to do. No, he goes deeper and asks questions about everything “his” project relates to- then he learns those things too. Because of this he can tell you how “his” project relates to practically everything in the company. Often more clearly than the project managers who only speak plain English. Doug is bi-lingual- he speaks English and tech so he can talk to everyone on the project and get them all to the same page.

The other thing Doug does is keep learning. The man is constantly taking classes or updating licenses or reading books with lots of technical words written in computer language that I don’t understand. By doing this he is able to get better gigs, better pay and keep himself in demand even when others in his field are having trouble finding work.

You can get Cisco certification and training in dozens of IT fields- like IP networking, security and data center- any of which will instantly set you apart and above those you work with. And by continuing your training in different fields you can keep ahead of the curve and be the “go to” in your company. Why be average when it's so easy to be the best?
Sponsored by Cisco



Not my breakfast eggs- me. Wait a minute... I haven't had breakfast yet. I've been "off" all week. I haven't been up early to walk the dog and it's thrown me off. And then we had a really nasty electrical storm last night which resulted in lightning hitting a tree right next to the house. It woke the girls and we were awake half the night. Ugh.

Anyway, I have lots to share today. Later on I'll have some "must share" video from the Glenn Beck show last night. (Sorry for the infringement, Glenn, but it's just a few really important things). I've got a new favorite recipe for Fab Food Friday- a chicken stirfry. I'll be finishing an update to the travel blog about an Iowa favorite- the Amana Colonies.

But before I do any of that I have to get the girls dressed, make a grocery list and get to the store. We haven't shopped in almost 2 weeks and the cupboards are BARE!


Why My Heart Isn't in San Francisco

A few years back Doug & I took a business trip to San Francisco. I hadn’t been pregnant with Brenna for long, in fact I think I had found out a few weeks before the trip, so it would have been late spring/early summer.

I was very excited as I hadn’t been to that part of California before and I spent a lot of time reading up on things to do in San Francisco. But, even though I spent a ot of time on my research, I wasn't really prepared. I wish I would have known about Trusted Tours & Attractions online travel guides then. I'm sure I would have enjoyed the city much more if I would have taken the Trolley Hop or amotorized cable car tour.

As it was we walked through the city and admired it. My most memorable experience was at a great restaurant on the Wharf. But it didn't leave me with a longing to return. Which is probably why we should... Someday.

But now I am too busy researching things to do in Orlando. I know there's more than the Mouse (like Kennedy Space Center and alligators) and I want to be sure we see everything we want to see.

Luckily Trusted Tours & Attractiosn has me covered there... They even have a newsletter that keeps me up to date. And if you sign up now you are entered to win a $150 iTunes gift card. That's a lot of music for the drive...


Fly By

>> Thursday, July 17, 2008

After spending the morning at the Polk County Fair- where I took some really fun photos of the girls petting animals- I am terribly far behind on, well, everything. So instead of doing what I would like to do- which is tell you all about my experience at a new photo shop in town, show you cut pictures of small children and animals and write about our trip to the Amana Colonies for the travel site- I must do laundry, wash dishes, shower and just take care of household stuff.

Because I have a babysitter to pick up at 5pm so Doug & I can have a night out with Glenn.

Have a great day! I'll see you all tomorrow!



I woke up this morning with the worst hangover imaginable. Oh, yes I did.

And I didn't have a drop to drink.

Nope,it was much, much worse. It was the hangover from watching a tear-jerker of a movie before bed. Oh, yeah, you all know what I'm talking about. Anyone care to guess what I watched?

Who guessed it? Seriously... I was told it was good (which it was) but why didn't anyone tell me I should have a box of tissue at hand while I watched it? My bedsheet was quite moist from all the tears. Sad tears, happy tears... I wasn't sobbing but, honestly, I couldn't stop the tears from forming.

I was even crying after the movie ended. I didn't even realize it until Doug asked what was wrong; the tears just wouldn't stop.

So, was it a good movie? Yep. It reached right in and yanked at my heart. It made me sad, it made me happy, it made me laugh and it made me cry. So see it if you haven't. But have a box of tissues close by.


Some Movies are Meant to be Classics

My cousin watches the girls for us once a week when we have our small group gatherings at church. Not long ago when I was emptying out the DVD cabinet in search of movies to see she saw that I had “The Breakfast Club”, which she had heard about but never seen.

“How can you have not seen ‘The Breakfast Club’?”, I asked, ”It’s a classic.” Of course I was completely forgetting her age. Duh. So I lent it to her- along with “Weird Science” and “Sixteen Candles”. I only regret that I don’t own “Pretty in Pink”- my absolute favorite of the bunch. C’mon- the misfit from the wrong side of the tracks gets the rich preppy guy; who doesn’t love that?

Doug also has an affinity for classic 80’s movies. The other night we watched WarGames. You remember- (cue computer voice) “Would you like to play a game?” Before every home had a computer Matthew Broderick was hacked into the government’s system and pretending to be Russia and bomb the US.


Since Doug just saw WarGames I’m hesitant to tell him that he could see it in the theater again- a one night only 25th anniversary showing- July 24. But I feel I should because there will be a sneak peek of the sequel- WarGames: The Dead Code.

Oh, yeah, he’d go to that. One problem… his “BFF” (who happens to be another computer geek and probably saw the original with him) will be on vacation…
Sponsored by NCM Fathom


In Case You're Missing the Scrap Bribing...

>> Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Go over to Paula's blog- she's givin' away creative stuff! To be more specific she's giving away a Creative Memories 7X7 ABC Album AND ABC Monogram stickers. A great goodie for scrapbooking all those upcoming school-type memories.

So go over, take a look around, leave a comment (tell her I sent you!!!) and then spread the love.

Just in case you missed the link, here it is. Go. But don't forget to come back and enter my contest!


It's Official- We're Never Moving

The longer we take these financial courses the more it becomes apparent to me… We’re never moving. And it’s not that we won’t be able to afford to; it’s because by the time we have this house in the perfect condition to sell in the market that is building up around us it will actually be my dream home.

I’m not even kidding a little bit. Have you ever noticed that? People do all sorts of things to sell their homes- put in new carpet or even wood floors, paint, replace appliances- and then it’s almost like a new home so why sell it?

Hence- we’re never moving. Right now we are replacing almost all the windows on the front of our house. And, since we are doing that I am considering adding a bit of “interest” out there by putting up exterior shutters. Being a traditional sort of girl I really like the ones that actually work (you know, open and close and protect your windows). Not only are they fancy they are functional. I’ve even found a place online to order them from- with free shipping!

If you’re looking to add interest to the exterior of your home check out LarsonShutter.com and see what they offer. I like the faux wood with hardware…


Do Your Politicians Get It?

>> Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Because I don't think mine do. I got this email from our Congressman Leonard Boswell today.

Dear Fellow Iowan,
The price of energy has skyrocketed in the past few months, and is devastating pocketbooks throughout the United States. On June 26th, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6377, the Energy Markets Emergency Act of 2008, to curb inflation resulting from energy speculators. As a cosponsor of this bill, I strongly believe the Commodity Futures Trading Commission must limit extreme speculation on the energy market. This bill is just one of many proposals to address our energy crisis.

In addition, Congress is debating how best to increase our energy independence. Some have called for increased research of alternative fuel and energy sources such as ethanol from corn and switchgrass, and the use of natural gas, methanol, and hydrogen. Others urge energy consumption by raising fuel economy standards on all vehicles, and especially SUVs.

The biggest debate revolves around drilling for our own natural resources. Some have insisted on lifting a moratorium on offshore drilling, and opening the Artic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska for exploration. One proposal, House Amendment 406, would allow drilling for both oil and natural gas within 100 miles of our coastlines.

How much will opening up these areas really help lower energy prices? Many oil companies already hold leases to land with undeveloped oil; should we still grant them more leases? Please tell me how you feel about the current energy crisis by taking this poll.

As I read this I just thought, "This guy doesn't get it." And it's not because he's a Democrat, in fact I've always thought Boswell was a decent representative. No, it's just that I read this and I see lots of opportunity, lots of ideas and LOTS OF REGULATION.

Yes, let's do research. Yes, let's develop new technology. But while we're developing all this let's drill for our own oil. For Pete's sake, we know it works and we know where we have some.

I see the attack on the oil companies for not drilling the areas they have leased but what Mr. Boswell fails to mention is that some of those leases only allow for exploration and not for actual drilling. He also doesn't mention that after paying the governemnt agencies for the rights to drill the leased property the oil companies will be losing money (follow link and see best answer). Who in their right mind would do that?

More bills and more rules and more regulation will just delay the process. Less government interference = quicker results.

Of course the majority of people know this. It's time our politicians did.


Debt Free Bribing- Now Extended!

>> Monday, July 14, 2008

OK, I know bribing doesn't usually begin until the 20th. And it's only the 15th. And now it's extended until August 1st so we can play with the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival! Because this give away is big. Huge. Bigger than big. This giveaway can CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!

And since it can do that (yes, really!) I am going to run it 7 extra days so you can tell people far & wide.

This month I am giving away Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover and Total Money Makeover Workbook.

This will totally change the way you think about your money. It will totally change the way you think about your debt. It will totally change the way you think... Period.

Ready? 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 at 1 pm on August 1 so get those posts up and keep reminding your readers to visit and drop your name!

And if you're visiting from Bloggy Giveaways Carnival poke around a bit. I don't mind. I'm sure I've some snacks somewhere and I'll whip up some lemonade and steep some tea. Make yourself comfortable and enjoy my little home on the internet.


You Wouldn't Drive Across the Country Without a Map, Would You?

OK, so I may be looking a bit ahead but it’s always good to have plans, right? We may only be on “baby step two” but we’re looking ahead to number four: investing our income. Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t quit saving for our retirement but we have decreased our investments until our bills are gone.

When we are investing at full force we should be able to get our IRAs and SEPs maxxed out each year pretty easily. Then we’ll be looking in to some serious asset wealth management with a top rated company like Northern Trust (AA by Standard & Poor’s).

When it comes to making sure you can keep up your lifestyle after you retire you want someone who can imagine your dreams right along with you- and advise you of the correct path to take you there. Because it’s wise to have plans- but it’s even more wise to have a navigator to get you there.


Whew! I'm Glad That's Over!

Our community's summer festival is an all-encompassing thing. It begins Thursday and by Saturday the days are so full of activities you barely rest.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early to get some pancakes before the parade. Brenna was at the curb waving as hard as her little arm would shake so the floats would toss some candy her way. Calean was happy in the chair under the tent (and out of the cold rain!) cuddling the teddy bear a new city development had tossed her way.

After lunch at a local diner Caelan was exhausted so she took a nap while Daddy, Grandma & Brenna went up to see the cardboard boat regatta. I hear it was great entertainment. Maybe I'll get to take Brenna next year while Daddy stays home with Caelan.

After naps we said goodbye to Grandma and loaded up to go to the carnival. There aren't many rides for little ones but Brenna had fun in the cars while Caelan rode the merry-go-round. Then we all had a spin in the strawberries.

Later I worked at our church's booth while Doug & the girls enjoyed a picnic on the grass and took in the music at the bandshell. From the videos Doug sent it looks like there was a lot of dancing and fun.

We fell, exhausted, into bed Saturday night to wake late Sunday morning. Our church was co-hosting a community worship service at 8:30. We threw on clothes and were out the door.

Home again after the service we all showered and got cleaned up for our day's activities. I went scrapbooking while Doug & the girls headed to a family gathering at his cousin's house. Which all worked out for the best as I had had enough family time and really, really needed time alone.

Last night the Summerfest-ivities ended with fireworks. It was the first time the girls had seen fireworks so it was very exciting. Caelan wasn't too sure what to think and spent a lot of time with her eyes covered,peeking through her fingers.

And now the fun has ended and it's time to get back to "normal". My desk is covered with things that must be done, I have to make a trip to Target (trusty list in hand so I don't overspend) and just generally get caught up.

I suppose I should get on it, then... Yep, going... Going now...

Really... The end...


Crazy Busy

>> Friday, July 11, 2008

So much to do today:

Doug got paid so I need to figure the bills & budget
MIL comes this afternoon, have to clean and prepare
Told the girls we could go to the "splashy park" if they would let me work
Must shower
Laundry (it never ends)
Doug & I have a dinner to attend tonight so I must "pretty up"
Surely there's more.... I feel like there's more...

So, for your enjoyment I'm going to point you to a few posts that you may have missed:

Don't visit this link hungry: Triple Cheese Baked Spaghetti
Des Moines tops Kiplinger's list of best places to live
This is probably the funniest movie trailer I've seen in a long time
Here come the Iowa Chops!

Have a good day! I'll check in if I get a chance!


Fox Deal or Dud

Remember the eyeglass website I mentioned a few days ago… ZenniOptical.com? Well, Fox News did a Deal or Dud piece on them.

Click to see Zenni on Fox

Since I had been putting off ordering from them due to not being completely sure of what I might get this test has made me think that it is completely an option for my glasses. I don’t wear them much and this is so much more affordable. Yep, definitely an option.


Triple Cheese Baked Spaghetti

In honor of my friend Kellyn (over at the Fritz Facts) and her love of all things pasta I am presenting you with this recipe over at Fab Food Friday:

Fab Food Friday 105

It's easy to make, easy to change up, and just downright yummy. What's not to like? Cheese, spaghetti, more cheese... Mmmmm...


When "Good as New" Isn't

I’m not sure that there is anything more frustrating than a car accident. One minute you’re driving along, following the rules, minding your own business, then…

BAM! Some moron runs a light and your car gets the worst of it.

But, you are able to get the vehicle fixed and you’re back to normal. Well, until you try to get rid of the vehicle. It’s then that you discover this little thing called “diminished value”. Because your vehicle has been in an accident it is worth thousands of dollars less than an identical vehicle that hasn’t been in an accident. Neat.

I do have some good news… You are due the diminished vale of your vehicle from the insurance company of the at fault individual. Advocate Auto Claims specializes in helping you get this “unknown” loss back on your vehicle. If you’ve been in a car accident in the last 4 years that wasn’t you fault use their free diminished vale estimate calculator to see if this is something you want to persue.

Sponsored by Advocate Auto Claims


Iowa Chops

What does that make you think of? If you're like me you think of a thick, beautiful piece of meat, golden from the grill and juicy when you cut in to it.


But that will all change as Iowa has a new NHL affiliation with the Mighty Ducks. Luckily we don't have to use their name (as we did with the Stars) hence, the Iowa Chops.

I'm really digging the colors but I'm not real sure about the pig... He does look pretty fierce, though, and I do love some fierce, all-out hockey.

So now that it feels like Iowa has it's own hockey team and not just a cheap by-blow of someone else's let's hope the fans will show up. Even though we can't afford season tickets this year I'll be sure to set aside some cash to attend a few games.

And speaking of attending games- ticket prices have been slashed 38% from last year's prices. Hockey is, in my opinion, the best sport to see live. The excitement never stops. Catch a game or two this year and see if you don't become addicted!


No, Really, It's Too Much... Look At Us, We're Blushing...

>> Thursday, July 10, 2008

It was only a couple of days ago that I revealed to you that I live in one of the 10 best towns for families in America- as reported by Family Circle. And they should know... See the word FAMILY in their name?

Well today Doug forwarded this on to me... Yep, one of Kiplinger's 2008 Best Cities is Des Moines. What do they have to say? Well, let's see...

  • Friendly, hometown atmosphere
  • Top public schooling
  • Affordable cost of living
  • Arts (galleries, symphony, ballet, opera, theater)
  • THIRD largest insurance center in the WORLD (along with banking making us almost recession proof)
  • Affordable housing
  • Lots of outdoor activities
  • And the Iowa State Fair (C'mon, sing along, "Our state fair is a great state fair...")

And let me add a few more:

  • Iowa Chops AHL hockey
  • Iowa Cubs baseball
  • Des Moines Heat IBL basketball
  • Des Moines Menace pro soccer
  • Great shopping (the East Village, Valley Junction and Jordan Creek area are on par with any "big" city)
  • Excellent restaurants (and getting better all the time-you can find anything)

The list goes on. Des Moines (and her suburbs) are growing and only getting better. But don't take my word for it... Just ask Kiplinger's and Family Circle...


Protect Yourself Online

I don’t know about you, but I do a lot of stuff online. I’m registered with dozens of travel sites, hotels and airlines, quite a few sites that I use to bring in a bit of money and too many sites that I have ordered who knows what from. So you could say that my info is out there.

Of course I have taken every precaution I could to protect myself. And now there is another option for people who, like me, use the internet for practically everything. It’s identity theft prevention to protect you online.

Shop Shield® protects all your personal information: credit card numbers, billing address, email address and login information. It allows you to shop online without revealing your real information, keeping your identity safe.

It’s really kind of interesting how it works… Shop Shield® has your real information, you see, and creates anonymous information, and stores it for you, for each site you visit. I’m not sure I can really wrap my head around it- which is why they store all the data for you and you can review it whenever you need to. Really, it’s pretty cool. Check out their video- they explain it much better than I can.

And they back it all up with a 100% guarantee. If you spend a lot of time online this is worth looking in to.



Earlier today Iowa Mom posted about her daughter saying MomMomMomMomMom and it made me think of the trailer for Get Smart. Now, if you've been to a movie lately you know exactly what I am talking about and you, like me, laughed until popcorn threatened to come out your nose.

If you haven't seen it watch it now. The part I am referring to is in the last 5 seconds but the entire trailer is laugh out loud funny. Definately a movie to add to our Netflix list.

Here you are, Iowa Mom... Enjoy!


Cut Costs- Not Speed- on Your Internet Access

So you all know that we have downsized A LOT in an attempt to cut our costs. One thing we can’t cut out, though, is out internet access. Not only does Doug need it for work- I do too! But you can be sure we looked in to cutting our costs without cutting our bandwidth.

Unfortunately we don’t live in an area where we can get Charter internet but IF YOU DO check out this deal:

  • Now thru July 31 you can get high speed internet (up to 5Mbps) for $14.99 per month
  • If you order online (through the link above) you will also receive a $25 Shell gas card
  • Charter high speed internet comes with Security Suite Æ to protect you from viruses
  • It's fast...fast...fast...
  • And the offer is risk free - you can cancel after 30 days if you're not satisified

What's to lose? Nothing but the dial tone...

See if you're in Charter internet territory today and take advantage of this great offer!

Sponsored by Charter


Because We All Need to Eat

With food prices skyrocketing at the grocery store - and they'll be more come fall when the corn crops are light - you need to be frugal with every dollar you have.

One thing we do is hit the local farmer's market. Now, to be honest, it is quite easy to spend too much money down there and some prices are high. But if you know the vendors you can get in on any specials they run.

This afternoon the girls and I will be heading down to the Valley Junction Farmer's Market for meat. In particular, meat from Harvest Barn Marketplace. They have meat packages:

$ 25.00





It's a great way to stretch your food dollar, get amazing meat and support the local economy.

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