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

I've Joined...

>> Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Twitter Moms: The Influential Moms Network

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Happy New Year!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my ramblings this past year. I truly appreciate every one of you!

Look for great things in 2009 (including 3 book giveaways to start the year off right!)

Be safe tonight! I'll see you all in '09!

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I've Got a New Look

>> Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Go over to the Have Kid Will Travel blog and check it out. Let me know what you think!

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OK, Ford, I Need a New Vehicle

Let's see... Last week we replaced our hot water heater and the brakes on Doug's car. That cost us about $3000. Which destroyed our emergency fund and caused us to use a credit card.

With Doug's check last Friday I was able to pay bills and replenish about 3/4 of our emergency fund.

Which is fortunate... Because the Explorer started making weird noises yesterday. Loud, screeching noises. It was embarrassing to drive it. So I dropped it off at the local mechanic (BTW, if you're in central Iowa I highly recommend Graham Tire)... They know me so well that I take them Christmas treats every year.

Greg, the friendly head mechanic, just called to give me the bad news...

  • water pump going out
  • rear differential needs oil changed
  • 3 different belts need replaced
  • and other assorted "little" things should be done
And this will cost me in the neighborhood of $600. Which we, thankfully, have. Barely. But it means, again, rebuilding our emergency fund. Ugh.

So, if any auto manufacturers want to give me a vehicle to drive and review, I'm available! Or if there are any readers out there who need donate some cash for a tax write off I'll be your long-lost relative. Or maybe you just feel sorry for this trio of bad luck that has come our way the past couple weeks...



Tongue in cheek, of course... Kind of... Remember, Doug is out of a job in 32 days...

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Want to Try the Flat Belly Diet?

>> Monday, December 29, 2008

My most recent post is up at my Flat Belly Diet blog.

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya I've gone "back to the beginning".

Yep, I indulged a bit too much... Was it worth it? The verdict is out, but I'm gonna say yes...

Go on over and see what happened...

AND

Hurry, now, because this offer is only open to the first 500 people to sign up...

Follow this link and register for 3 free months of the Flat Belly Diet online program! You must have a Facebook user name to sign up!

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Talking vs. Typing



I’m finding that the busier I get the worse my typing skills appear to be. And my “O” key is having issues today, as well. So the idea “writing” a blog post or surfing the web using my voice… Well, it’s sounding better and better all the time. Besides, I talk much faster than I type… Take a few minutes and watch the video above to see just how cool it could be to “talk” those posts, reports and spreadsheets…

Dragon Naturally Speaking 10 Basic with Discount Coupon Code

Until the end of the year (that’s Wednesday!) you can save 10-25% off Dragon Naturally Speaking. And don’t forget, if you’re buying it for business you can write it off! Check out these savings:

If you have any plans to buy this software, now is the time!

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An Afternoon Alone (Whatever Will I Do?)

>> Sunday, December 28, 2008

Doug and the girls just left for his aunt & uncle's house about and hour & a half away. His aunt called me last night and said they were having a gathering today, could we make it? Well, all who know me know that I am a "planner" and to drop something like this on me at the last minute is like dropping a bowling ball onto a mirror. It's not good. I had my day planned out weeks ago and there is stuff I really need to get done before the week begins.

So Doug, who had no bigger plans than to sit and veg with the girls all afternoon, gathered up my little balls of energy and left me alone to get stuff done.

So, what's on my agenda? Well, I want to:

  1. Create a new logo and button for Have Kid Will Travel. And I want to get all my older posts relocated to the new blog site and shut down the old one. Lots of copying and pasting.
  2. I need to create a Fab Food Friday button, as well. I'm also behind over there and I have a wonderful beverage to share before New Year's Eve arrives!
  3. I want to set up both my and Doug's blog roll in Bloglines to unclutter the sidebars of the new template I'm working on. And while I'm there I need to set up "subscribe with Bloglines" buttons for Fab Food Friday and HKWT.
  4. I need to get my Iowa Geek Review email working through Outlook.
  5. I must write a post for my Flat Belly Diet over at Prevention. And I need to make a link for that to add to the new sidebar on the new template.
  6. I have three books to write reviews for and give away.
  7. And I need to create a new schedule so I can get things done on time! Deadlines are beginning to become part of my life- which is good!
  8. And, big news, I'm going to Blissdom'09! It's a blog conference in Nashville February 6 & 7. I got child care lined up for Friday and if I book before the end of the year I can save some money. I've got the OK from Doug, so I am booking tonight! W00T! And, hopefully, Paula from Boogers & Burps will be joining me! Anyone else from central Iowa interested?
  9. I really need to make a list and hit the grocery store. We're out of string cheese (which has become Caelan's favorite snack) and practically everything else!
So, on to the list... Let's see how much I can get done...

OK, it's now 2:07 pm and things are getting done!

Here's my Fab Food Friday button and code if you want to take it:



And don't forget my Iowa Geek button is just off to the right...

It's now 4:52pm. I've been crossing thigs off my list as I get them done... And I've made some pretty good progress... But Doug just called and said they are on their way home. I should really get the grocery list made nd shopping done.

Yeah, like that's gonna happen in an hour and a half!

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And A Merry Christmas Was Had By All

>> Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's been a busy couple of days here at Casa Geek.

Christmas Eve we were at church shortly before 5:30pm until 8:30 or so. The girls dragged into bed late which results in added drama at bedtime.

The gifts from Santa were prepared and set out (one each) and I, grateful the day was over, went to bed.

I woke at 6:45 Christmas morning. We must not have our children sufficiently excited about Christmas morning yet, because they slept until 8:45am! When we finally made it downstairs the girls noticed the gifts "from Santa", front and center.

Brenna was very excited by hers, a Frieda Trunki, "Just what I wanted for Christmas!" Caelan got a Tika Kids Crayon Bag, which was immediately put to use.

The gifts from Mommy & Daddy followed, with Brenna receiving a microphone and Caelan a toy violin. And then from the girls to each other: Brenna got a Hooked on Phonics touch screen learner and Caelan got her own digital camera (so she can leave Brenna's alone!) That's 3 Christmas gifts; Jesus received three so we don't give our children more. We are, after all, celebrating the birth of Christ.

Gifts from the grandparents in Texas were books (always popular in our house) and a LiteBrite cube. Very fun!



The rest of the day sped by. The girls, my mom & I delivered the Fill in the Blankie to a new baby in the NICU at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines. Because the baby was in NICU we dropped it off, with an anonymous note, with the nurses at the front desk. Our prayers go out to that family for their blessed baby.

Not long after that my family descended on our house and the fun began! So much food- soups, dips, crackers, veggies, pickle wraps and so many desserts! Pies, cookies, fruit breads... An abundance- even by our standards!

Gifts were opened and then brought out to play with, the big screen was pulled down and the Wii was put into use. There is truly nothing better on Christmas than family & fun. The gifts are really quite secondary.

A sledding party was planned for the next day but we had quite a heat wave - 45 degrees! - and the snow was melting as we slid down the hill. So the kids created a snow person- which has since melted to a blob with a hat. They were quite proud of it, though.


Tonight bring the Christmas gift for us parents. We are all going out to dinner (courtesy of my parents who each gave us a nice bit of cash and are watching all the kids tonight!) and then to see Spamalot!

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We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

>> Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From Our Family to Yours



May all your lights be untangled and shared equally!

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New Post About My Diet

>> Tuesday, December 23, 2008

OK, so I haven't been so good lately with all the Christmas parties and such. Maybe that's why I've had a headache almost daily for the past week...

Read all about it here.

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Damn Murphy... I Think He Must Like My Cooking

Murphy has been here for a few days. You all know good ol' Murph, right? Mr. Can & Will Go Wrong himself, has been visiting us for the past few days.

It began when our water heater began dispensing boiling water. I'm talking 200+ degree water coming from the tap the minute you turned it on. My dad, who is a handy guy to have near by, came over and said it might just be the thermostat. So we turned it off for the night. Of course it couldn't be that easy as we found out when Doug went to light the pilot light the next morning and found a nice rusted-out gaping, leaking hole that had managed to leave our storage room quite wet.

Hello new water heater and goodbye to my thoughts of a new pink Acer Aspire One... A light & lovely 8.9" laptop with Windows XP {sigh}...

Then, today, on his way into work Doug had to fill the tires on his car... Again. So he asked me to call our mechanic and see if he could get in to have the tires checked for leaks today. Turns out it wasn't the tires but the brakes.

Of course this happened after I told him that I really wanted to attend BlissDom, a blog conference in Nashville this February.

So now we've spent a bit over $3000 in two days which has eaten up our entire emergency fund and then some. We've got to begin the Baby Steps all over again.

So... If anyone out there feels like donating a lovely little laptop for me to review or sponsoring my trip to the conference let me know. I'm sure we can work out a deal...

Acer? United Airlines? Target? Anyone???

Bueller? Bueller?

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I'm Wantin' Branson for Christmas

Right now I’m wishing that Doug & I could talk our families into getting away for Christmas. Yes, I know I have a “rule” about spending Christmas at home… Kind of. The rule, as I have laid it out (and Doug has agreed, because he’s good like that) is that if we are home on Christmas we don’t leave town- so no heading off to relatives across the state. However, we have agreed that vacations during the Christmas holiday are permitted. And with the bitter weather we’ve had lately anyplace sounds better than here!

If we could only get our families to think like we do we might be able to work out a meet up in between Iowa and Texas. In, say, Branson. That’s in Missouri, for those of you who have never heard of it. Branson has become the entertainment capital of the Midwest with theaters lining the streets, shops filled with everything from kitsch to high end glitz and a water fountain in the town square (with lights and fire choreographed to music- it’s a rival to that one in Vegas).

Here’s my thought… Book a great package, like the Winter Escape Package at Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing, with a big, comfy room. Do some shopping, take the girls down to the pool and enjoy a lovely dinner onsite. Repeat daily. Oh, yeah, that would be nice…

Hiltonsocial-ad-300x400


I suppose I’ll work on that for next Christmas. I may even change my mind and decide I would rather stay at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. They have a nice Mediterranean restaurant on site…


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Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

>> Monday, December 22, 2008

I actually had a website I have worked with ask me for a button! The only problem? I didn't have one. So I worked up this graphic this afternoon. What do you think? I really like the mom on a laptop and the daughter leaning on her reading. Cozy... And kind of how I picture my household in a couple of years. I'm not sure about the lettering on the side, though. With all the background olors it's difficult to find one that was easy to read. Thoughts?

Iowa Geek button


Now... Can anyone tell me how to make that nice little box that goes underneath so all my fine friends can "grab the code"?

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Now That's the Way to Travel

When Brenna & I flew home a couple weeks ago we went first class... It was nice...

But the customer service was great from the beginning. Kudos to United.

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I don't think this helps

Banks are refusing to disclose how they are using the bailout money. And, in fact, are refusing to provide basic accounting for it - the same procedures that the banks would require of any potential loan recipient.

President Bush should have let companies fail that needed to fail and let others pick up the pieces and make something useful out of it. The pain would be sharp, just like it is now. But, then it would be over and the US wouldn't be doubling or tripling the national debt in a single quarter.

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3 1/2 Shopping Days Til Christmas

>> Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wow… Christmas is 4 days away. And Wednesday isn’t even a “whole day” if you’re talking about doing any Christmas shopping. So, basically, there are 3 ½ shopping days until Christmas.

Got all your gifts?

I don’t. I have to get a gift card to a certain coffee place for my coffee-loving babysitter. I’m still waiting for my mom’s custom gift to make its way to my door (should have been here Friday as it reached the local mail sorting station last Monday. Now I’m worried the USPS lost it.) And I still have my dad to buy for.

My dad is about the most difficult person on the planet to buy a gift for. He needs nothing, he doesn’t express a desire for anything in particular and his hobbies, well, I’m not entirely sure what his hobbies are although they seem to include fixing anything that may go wrong in my (and my sibling’s) homes.

Since I’m at a loss I’m checking out the last minute gifts from Kmart. Surely I can find inspiration online and since all 25,000 of their “Under $25” gifts are also available in stores I can find the perfect gift online and head out in this freezing cold weather we’re having to buy it. Maybe I’ll pick up some new thermals while I’m there, too.

If you’re still needing gifts check out a few of the great deals Kmart has for under $25:
• Craftsman® 23-inch hand tool box with comfort handle
• Martha Stewart Everyday tall nickel pillar candleholders
• Route 66 girls fashion hoodies and embellished jeans
• Joe Boxer men’s and women’s two- and three-piece cozy sleep sets
• Just Kidz® Deluxe soft-bodied 16” doll set with stroller
• LeapFrog Leapster Learning Games, various titles

And while you’re online looking into those last minute gifts from Kmart be sure to sign up for their email updates for special store hours, in-store deals and online-only sales to find the best value during their holiday shopping.

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A New Blog for You to Visit

>> Friday, December 19, 2008

As I sit trying to write an introduction for this blog I find myself without words that seem to be enough. Everything I try to write comes out shallow or dull.

I want you to visit Kailan's new blog, Sister of "Like Angels". Here is how Kailan introduced me to it:

I have started a blog to tell my stories. I have found that this is one way to tell my stories so that they are heard, in hopes maybe more can understand the mercy and peace that only Jesus can give. I can be somewhat of an introvert when it comes to expressing my thoughts on my grief, so this will enable me to share more.
This is a new blog, only a few days old, so go back and read from the beginning. The first post is titled "Angel Day" and was written just 2 days ago, on December 17. I am going to warn you- you will cry. But you will also be filled with hope. Kailan shares not only her emotions but also the amazing grace that the Lord brings.

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Merry CHRISTmas

I saw this over at Jenni's blog and had to share it.

A woman was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and everything else imaginable, and after hours of hearing both her children asking for everything they saw on those many shelves, she finally made it to the elevator with her two kids.

She was feeling what so many of us feel during the holiday season, overwhelming pressure to go to every party, every housewarming, taste all the holiday food and treats, get that perfect gift for every single person on our shopping list, make sure we don't forget anyone on our card list, and the pressure of making sure we respond to everyone who sent us a card.

Finally the elevator doors opened, and there was already a crowd in the elevator. She pushed her way in and dragged her two kids in with her and all the shopping bags. When the doors closed, she couldn't take it anymore and stated, "Whoever started this whole Christmas thing should be found, strung up, and shot."

From the back, everyone heard a quiet, calm voice respond, "Don't worry. We already crucified him." For the rest of the trip down the elevator, it was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop.

Don't forget this year to keep the one who started this whole Christmas thing in your every thought, deed, purchase, and word. If we all did it, just think how different this whole world would be.

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Gotta Keep Doug Warm

Last night blew in an ice storm that shut down schools- almost state wide. To say it’s cold and nasty outside is a complete understatement. And Doug, bless him, cleared the driveway before he left for work.

This winter has been especially cold in the Midwest; colder than it has been in about 30 years. Well, 30 years ago I was a kid and, as we all know, kids are impervious to cold. Well, that and our parents bundled us up in layers upon layers of clothing, snowsuits, socks and moon boots. The only way you can pull that off as an adult is to ride a snowmobile.

I’ve noticed that Doug has been pulling on his Aran sweater that we picked up in Ireland earlier this year and wearing it under his coats lately. This tells me that his warm winter coats may not be so warm anymore and looking for a new one should probably happen sometime soon. So I was looking at mens wool coats a bit this morning. While I was tucked inside the warm house and he was on his way to work. A good wool coat is an investment piece and the Darwin from Sanyo looks like a winner. Not only is it a timeless style but it has Breath Thermo that should help block the winds and keep him warm. And keep him from getting sick. ‘Cuz if daddy doesn’t work he doesn’t get paid.

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Tonight

>> Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm sitting in my cluttered kitchen listening to the rain/ice/sleet hit the windows and wondering if Brenna will have school tomorrow and the girls can deliver the truffles and other treats we made to teachers and the school staff. The forecast is calling for up to an inch of ice covered by 1-3" of snow. Well, we're getting the ice right now.

Hoping we don't lose power, though I'm sure the girls would think it an adventure.

I spent about 12 hours today making cookies, breads and goodies to share as gifts. Of course that 12 hours was interspersed with games of Cootie (Caelan won), book reading, laundry and one round of Toy Story 2 (I dozed off. Guess I was tired.)

I should really do some more dishes and get a couple more boxes of truffles prettily packaged. There is the box of goodies to pack to ship to IZEA tomorrow and I still need to share a recipe over at Fab Food Friday.

Here's the card I made to go with the school treats:



Well, off my rear and back to work!

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A Family Movie for Your Movie Night

My girls are young enough that we haven’t established any “family movie night” traditions, but I plan to as they get older. I think that the longer we can keep our kids close to us and thinking it is fun to spend time with us the better things will be as they hit their teen years.

Because pizza and movies just go together I’m hoping we can make the night an event by creating our own individual pizzas first and then settling into the basement for a movie we can all enjoy. Right now that means Disney classics.

It’s important to me that my girls see movies that teach them something- even if they don’t know it. I recently saw a trailer for All Roads Lead Home The Movie and think it will make a great addition to our home movie library for when the girls are older. It won the “BestFeature Drama” at the International Family Film Festival. Check it out for yourself:



I don’t know about you but “coming of age” movies have a special place in my heart. When I was growing up it was “My Girl”. Who doesn’t remember crying when Thomas J. died? And cheered Vada when she went off to California in search of her mother’s past and instead found herself?

All Roads Lead Home The Movie is available on DVD January 13. Will you add it to your DVD collection?

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Joy to the World

>> Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My Brenna is a born performer. The girl has no fear, not a shy bone in her body and lives her life "on stage".

When she got the chance to sing Joy to the World on the stage at church, well, excited just doesn't begin to describe her jubilation!

We were treated to impromptu concerts up to the date of the performance and are still getting little "shows" every now and again. I hope this one makes you smile.

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From An Evening of Christmas Cheer

>> Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A couple weeks ago I hosted An Evening of Christmas Cheer, part of the Women's Ministry at my church. I was asked to share my testimony, which I know many of you have read on my blog.

I had it taped so I could share it again, just before Christmas. There are parts of my written testimony that I didn't share that night because I began my story by reading just a bit of The Paper Bag Christmas, a wonderful book that resonated within me.

This video is about 9 minutes long. You will want to turn up your volume to hear me clearly. Thank you for viewing, for sharing if you think it can help someone and I wish all of you the blessings of Christmas.

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Florida Sounds Nice Right Now

In just a few minutes Doug and I will be bundling up in layers of clothing to protect ourselves against the below zero temperatures and begin shoveling out from under they 4-5 inches of snow that blanketed our driveway and sidewalks today. Our efforts will be relatively pointless, however, as we are going to be hit again on Thursday by what our meteorologists call a “wintery mix”, which is their cute way to describe rain, ice and snow- all mixed together.

{{shiver}}

I gotta tell ya… I am colder this winter than I can ever remember being. The temps are colder here than they have been in years and the south is sounding good right about now. If there were any way for us to get out of town before this next storm, well, I’d be gone.

Don’t believe me? I was looking at airfare to Orlando today because I saw that I could get discount sea world tickets from OrlandoFunTickets.com- buy one day and get the second day free. And it’s about 70 degrees warmer there right now!

Oh, sure, the girls would love to see Shamu and Doug would get a thrill from the Kraken roller coaster (which he would have to ride alone) but me, I just want the warmth.

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Nothing Like A Good Book

And I received three today that look very good!

The Magician's Book
is the first on my list. C.S. Lewis fascinates me and I remember reading the Narnia Chronicles as a kid. We just watched the movies again the other night.

Second will be Be Strong and Curvaceous. This is the 3rd book in the All About Us series by Shelley Adina. It's a teen novel with a strong message of faith. I look forward to reading it.

And, finally, Love and Other Natural Disasters by Holly Shumas intrigued me when I read the summary: Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year. Jonathon asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn't have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality. Did she ever really know Jon at all? Was their happiness together a lie? Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy? And can their marriage survive?

Now... to fit reading into my day! Be sure to watch for my reviews- and probably a couple of giveaways!

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Answer a Few Questions for Lands End

>> Monday, December 15, 2008

And you could win a $100 Lands End gift card.

Just take this survey and you're entered. I promise it's really quick and your input will help Land's End with new products that will protect you from the sun and keep you looking and feeling cool while doing it.



This post courtesy of
Mom Select - Bringing Companies and Moms Together

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Tag It

I received some great luggage tags from an etsy shop called Sparkle Factor. Check them out:




Cute, huh? These would be great not only for luggage but for school backpacks, lunch bags, diaper bags... They would even make a nice reusable gift tag. Tags are 4 for $3 and you can choose the background, image, text and hook.

For a full review head over to Have Kid Will Travel.

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A Little Gift to Wrap?

My family is doing something a bit different this year at my grandparent's house for Christmas. Gifts are never exchanged, except for gifts to/from the grandparents. This year one of my aunts decided to have a Christmas Trivia Quiz. In order to participate you have to bring a gift. This can be a re-gift item, something you don't use but don't want to throw out or something new but inexpensive (not over $5). Since I have family members who read this blog I'm not going to tell you what I am sharing, but I am going to share my wrapping...


These are paper "balls" that I downloaded from The Toymaker's Christmas paper toys. The PDF downloads are all free and she has many gift bags and boxes, cards, and even a paper goose. Just print, cut, fold & glue (I used glue dot strips). Voila! Instant gift wrap!

Head over to The Toymaker and see all the wonders she has created. Every holiday you can think of- she has it covered. As well as "just for fun" items! Sign up for the email updates and, if you are in the spirit of the holiday, make a donation to keep the beautiful (and free) goodies coming! And check out Marilyn's books on Amazon!

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It's Cold Here... A Cruise Sounds Nice

Back before the girls joined us Doug and I were spur-of-the-moment travelers. We would check airfare rates and hop a plane to a new destination with only carry-on bags, finding a place to stay when we arrived and wander, carefree, through strange cities stopping at whatever caught our eye.

For our old lifestyle Vacations To Go would have been a great find. Who doesn’t want to save major dollars and take a cruise?

Vacations To Go has a 90 day ticker- book your cruise within a 3 month window and save hundreds (and in some cases thousands).

Interested in a Disney cruise with the kids? The Disney Wonder sails on February 5, 2009. The brochure price begins at $1099 but Vacations To Go prices begin at $399 – a 64% savings.

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Or maybe you’ve been saving for a world cruise. You could sail on Cunard’s QM2 and save 50% if you can leave on February 10, 2009.

Myself, I’ve always wanted to take a trans-Atlantic trip and a repositioning cruise is a great way to get a deal on those. A repositioning cruise is when a ship leaves one port of call, like Ft. Lauderdale where is stays in the winter months, and moves to another port, like Rome or Dover, England, for the summer months. Great deals…

Vacations To Go is definitely getting added to my travel links page…

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If You're in Iowa & Reading This Via a Feed Reader or Email...

You just might want to pop over to the blog to enter an Iowa Only contest! It's at the top of the page so you can't miss it.

One week only...

I'm just sayin'...

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Christmas Cards and A Christmas Carol

I love timeless Christmas stories and “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens is probably the granddaddy of them all. Well, other than “The Gift of the Magi”, but you get my point. It’s as relevant today as it was when it was written. And right now you can get all 36 installments delivered to your RSS, email or mobile device for free.

This bit of Christmas cheer is being sponsored by GalleryCollection.com, a company that specializes in Business Christmas Cards, birthday cards and cards for other occasions.

I followed the link from the free book download and was browsing the Business Christmas Cards collection for a while. The designs range from simple and crisp to elaborate with a Currier and Ives feel, so there is something for every one. I also noticed that there is a 40% discount thru 3 pm today (December 15) and you can get your cards by the 18th- just in time for them to be received by Christmas.

If you’re a previous GalleryCollection.com customer and haven’t ordered yet this year you’ll want to watch your email because GalleryCollection.com is sending an email to customers who haven’t placed Christmas orders yet- and giving away cards to the first 100 orders of 250 cards or more!

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1-800-FLOWERS : A Follow Up to the Follow Up

>> Sunday, December 14, 2008

I have received two, yes two, phone calls from 1-800-FLOWERS.

The first call was from Mark, the AAA liaison. He apologized for the mistakes that were made and gave me his direct number if I ever have a problem again.

Then I received a call from Lupe in the corporate office. She called to add a "personal touch" and to let me know that she understood that most people wouldn't have placed the order with a company after receiving such service, would have spent their money elsewhere and would have never bothered to tell the company about the bad service. She thanked me for sharing the problems and wanted to assure me that they would be addressed. She also gave me her personal number.

The phone calls were what has made me decide to give 1-800-FLOWERS another chance when I next need flowers. Don't get me wrong, the additional % off my order was nice, but the "personal touch" makes a difference. All I really wanted was to know that my concerns were heard and would be addressed.

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1-800-FLOWERS : A Follow Up

>> Friday, December 12, 2008

For those of you following the floral ordering saga from yesterday I wanted to share this email I received in response to the email I sent to customer service:


Dear Mr. Halsted,

I'm responding to your recent complaint about 1-800flowers.com. I'm truly sorry that your experience with us was not what you had expected.

I have reviewed the order and I see that everything is set for the delivery on the 15th and the discount has been applied. Please know that when we do hear about our customers experiences be it good or not, we do take the comments seriously.

If there is additional training needed for our gift advisors, then they are scheduled for a refresher course or spot training, which ever is necessary.

I know that I can't change what transpired, however I have applied a supervisors discount of 30%, for all the inconvenience you encountered. If I can be of any further assistance please let me know.

Sincerely,

Barbara XXXXXX
1-800Flowers.com
Priority Team


OK, so other than the fact that this person thinks I am a Mr., I'm pretty impressed with the response. The money has already pulled from our account so I'll be watching for a refund.

Will I shop with them again? I suppose we'll see what happens the next time I need flowers...

A follow up to the follow up...

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When You're Away Where Does Your Pooch Play?

When I lived in Minnesota I worked some really strange hours. Some days I would leave the house at 9 am and not return until 4 am the next day. And when Doug & I began dating I couldn’t bring my dog along for the weekend to visit. Luckily there was an amazing dog boarding and sitting service very close to my house. They treated Toby like royalty, he got to socialize with other dogs and they would even bathe him. He loved it there (probably more than he loved it at home).

I just saw that a Camp Bow Wow will be opening not too far away from where we live. It’s doggy day camp with human and canine playmates, “cabins” with bedding and “campfire” treats if your dog spends the night and lots of fun. You can even keep watch on your furry friend with “camper cam” online.

Sounds like fun, huh? If there’s not a Camp Bow Wow near you why not Start Pet Sitting Business for yourself? It’s a chance to be the “top dog”, so to speak, enjoy your job and take your pooch to work. Hmmm, if there wasn’t already one opening so close I might consider it…

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Curious About My Progress?

>> Thursday, December 11, 2008

I have two updates over at my Flat Belly Diet blog. Unfortunately I have to wait for posts to be approved before I can link them so they may sometimes run together.

So if you're following along read Two Down first, followed by Jump Start is Done.

Although no diet is perfect this one isn't too bad. I saw results in the first 2 days (which I may have destroyed at a Christmas party put on by the consulting firm Doug works for) but I know that with a bit of moderation I will be right back on track.

Today was my first day back on "regular food" and there was too much for me to eat. Holy cow... If I can't take in all the food I'm allowed (and it's good food after you finish the Jump Start) then I'm sure to see results! (And wait til you see how much weight Doug lost in 4 days!)

Find out more about the Flat Belly Diet

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Win a Children's Christmas Apron

Remember that great apron Brenna got from Laine's Babies? Sure you do... This one...



Right now you can win one at Elaine's Life as a SAHM blog! Elaine doesn't ask for much in return - a comment, a little linky love... And then your kid can be stylin' like mine while helping make Christmas cookies!

And, hey, tell her Jody sent you. It doesn't gain me anything, it's just nice to know where people come from.

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Gifts Still to Buy?

OK, so I’ve been sharing a lot about the great stuff Sears has had going on lately. And it has made me recall their old slogan “The softer side of Sears”. Well, I gotta tell you that I think this is a cooler side of Sears than I’ve seen in a long time.

Yep, you guessed it- more great sale prices this weekend! The sale began on 12/7 and runs thru 12/13. The reason this caught my eye is because my camera has been being, well, a bit flighty lately. It doesn’t want to focus, the flash isn’t always working and the pictures just aren’t as crisp as they used to be. And I have loved my Canon Powershot. So when I saw that the Canon Powershot 8.0-megapixel 4X optical zoom digital camera is on sale for $149.99 I was pretty happy. And then I saw that it also has a $20 instant savings… Well, I’m practically giddy.

And, if you’re like us (meaning without cable and not planning to get it just to watch local channels) you might be interested in this Sylvania 20” class LCD HDTV for $199.99. You save $100 (while quantities last).

Of course these are only two of the many items Sears has on sale right now. If you’ve gifts still to buy you may want to check it out.


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Can 1-800-FLOWERS Redeem Themsleves?

I just had the most frustrating experience trying to order flowers for my grandmother. There is no excuse for this, in my opinion.

Yesterday I received a promotion from AAA for 20% off orders in December when you use the provided code. So I followed the link, picked out my flowers and began to place my order. All was going well until I put in the promo code- and it gave me 15% off. Now I know there isn't a big difference between 15 and 20% but the AAA savings was supposed to be 20% and that's what I expected.

So I called the help line for 1-800-FLOWERS. The first lady I spoke with was very nice when I explained my problem. She said right away that she couldn't help me and said she was transferring me to someone who could.

Somehow I ended up back at the main menu. The second woman I spoke to, well, that experience was awful. I could barely understand her and I don't think she was understanding me. She kept asking for the confirmation number for the order and telling me she couldn't find it. I had to keep explaining the problem and telling her that the order hadn't been placed because the savings wasn't coming up correctly. After about 10 minutes of this back and forth I began asking for a supervisor. She would tell me that he wasn't available or that he had "stepped out for a minute" and would go back to her previous line of questioning. I continued to be as polite as I could and ask for a supervisor. Fifteen minutes later she said she would connect me to a supervisor and disconnected my call.

I was actually relieved to be off that call and called the help line again. This is my 3rd try and I have been on the phone for a little over 30 minutes by this time.

I explain the issue to the third representative and ask immediately to speak to a supervisor. I get the run around again. I try to explain, rationally, that I understand that she can't help me and I need to speak to a supervisor. It takes me about 10 minutes to gt her to agree to transfer me.

I hold for 5 minutes only to have the representative come back on the line and tell me that she will give me 20% off if I place the order directly through her. Fine, let's just get it done.

It was tedious to say the least- spelling names, dictating the message... And then she gives me the total with the 20% off and it's $14 higher than the online total with only 15% off! She told me that shipping was $19.99 instead of the $9.99 that it was online. That is not acceptable to me and I tell her so. She offers to push the shipping date back, which won't work and I decline. Then she tells me it can be shipped for arrival tomorrow for $9.99. Fine. And she gives me the total- which is still higher than the online total with a smaller savings!

What is going on? It's the same product, same shipping cost, should have a higher savings and you expect me to pay more?

Well, by this time I had enough, apologized and said that I needed to cancel the order, that this was unacceptable and I couldn't continue. And I hung up. She took my credit card number- I hope nothing shows up on it.

I called AAA and explained what I had just been through. They took my concern and are forwarding it on to the person who handles that account.

And, yes, I will be contacting 1-800-FLOWERS as well and giving them a chance to make this right and try to keep my business. It's only fair. And if they do I will share it.

About an hour later...

Trying to get my complaint through to someone at corporate. Unfortunately it is difficult to do by phone. Still getting the run around for someone other than a rep. Will probably just email this to them and see what happens. Honestly, it shouldn't be this difficult.

15 minutes later...

Beginning to think there are no supervisors... At least was given a different phone number to call. Not sure what it's for. I asked 3 times and couldn't understand the response...

A little later...

Ahhh, priority support. Now speaking with Michael… Got through to someone who actually might have some power... His records show a 15% savings so something is messed up somewhere.

Comparing his info and the info on the website- they don’t match. His info is higher. Not sure why this is. His shipping is higher and not offered on the days I can get shipping online. Weird.

OK, somehow we’ve been disconnected. What is going on? I keep calling and keep getting disconnected. This is getting stupid. I suppose it could be my phone… Even though it’s never done this before. And I have on a headset and my phone is just sitting on the table.

Now Kendis… Seriously… Disconnected again. My phone thinks I’m still connected. What the? I really don’t think it’s me… She called back… Their new phone system keeps dropping calls… Annoying…

Beginning the whole story again. It is now 1:19pm. Wait... disconnected again. Going to give up soon. Really...

And at 1:45 pm...

Spoke with Tanya. Went through the whole deal. Again. And... Finally got done. Correct amounts, correct discounts, correct shipping.

4 hours and 45 minutes. Completely unacceptable. I probably shouldn't have even placed the stupid order by this time, but I have a problem with giving up. I'm no quitter.

Until the final three (two of whom, through no fault of their own were of no help) the customer service was abysmal. There is no excuse for how I was treated and I certainly hope those calls were recorded and are used for reviews and/or teaching. Maybe they can learn how not to treat a customer.

Will I use this company again? Probably not. While they (finally) got my order taken correctly it took almost 5 hours. Unacceptable.

I sent an email to their customer service. And to their board of directors. I linked this post. I'll let you know if I hear back.

See the follow up here.

And the follow up to the follow up here.

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Do You Save With AAA?

>> Wednesday, December 10, 2008

If you're a AAA member in Iowa or Minnesota and you are signed up to receive their member deals be sure to check your email! The email is titled "Member Deals from AAA" and has a FREE photo calendar from Shutterfly! I'm going to make mine tonight right now as a gift.

Other great deals include:
20% off Sirius satellite radio & all accessories
10% off dining at Joe's Crab Shack
15% off shipping at the UPS Store
20% off flowers at 1-800-FLOWERS (another gift taken care of!)
10% off Amtrak fares
$100 per day off Alaskan Cruises with Holland America

And many more!

Our AAA membership costs $74 annually, but the savings (as well as the piece of mind) reimburse us easily.

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The Bible- Like You've Never Heard It Before

Wow. Just wow. I just listened to a bit of The Bible Experience, The Award Winning Celebrity Audio Bible and it just drew me in. The clip I heard featured Nick Cannon as Adam and it was of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It was really riveting. Want to hear it? Visit The Bible Experience website and input code GEN3SPRK.

Tbeimage


This is a really nice way to “take in” the Bible, I think. Especially if you’re a bit intimidated by it (like I tend to be). Listening to it read as a story makes it exciting. Not to mention you can listen anywhere… in the car, while you’re cleaning or running errands… My sister-in-law says that my brother listens to scripture as he falls asleep.

The Celebrity Audio Bible is an ensemble of over 400 well known actors, musicians, clergy, directors and producers. The original underscore is performed by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the sound design was done at Technicolor Studios. I suppose you could say it’s professionally done. The New Testament Edition was the 2007 Audies Audiobook of the Year.

But, really, just follow the link to The Bible Experience website
And put in the code I mentioned above. And just see if you aren’t blown away by the tiny bit you hear.

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And the Winners Are...

The winner of the Precious Moments Precious Girls Club items is
Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

14

Timestamp: 2008-12-10 14:20:08 UTC
AJ at A Little Bit Nutty

And- surprise!- Precious Moments sent a second charm bracelet! That items goes to

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

6

Timestamp: 2008-12-10 14:23:12 UTC

Brooke at Living My Dream

The winner of The Paper Bag Christmas is

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

10

Timestamp: 2008-12-10 14:26:47 UTC

Heather at Heather's Heartfelt Stitches

All winners have been contacted by email and have until 5pm Friday to respond. If they do not respond by that time their prize is forfeit and I will draw for that prize again.

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Give Dave For Christmas

>> Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Create a financial revolution! Give Dave Ramsey for Christmas! Thru December 18 you can get Dave's Total Money Makeover (the book that started it for us) and other great Dave stuff for $10!

Or, get the Financial Peace University class for $99 (save $100!) The class is amazing! It will really kick you into gear!

And don't forget the kids! Get the Financial Peace Jr kit for only $10, too! If you teach your kids while they are young they (hopefully) won't fall into the vicious debt cycle when they are older!

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Maybe I Should Lock Them in Their Room?

My afternoon sabbatical is slipping away from me... I can feel it. Caelan, my great napper, is beginning to refuse to nap. Oh, she still needs to nap, she just doesn't want to. I can put her in bed, even in my bed with a movie, and, within minutes, she is by my side wanting something.

I've sent her back to her room twice in the last 20 minutes, which took about 7 minutes each time. Let me tell you, not much can be accomplished in 6 minutes.

And I'm not even trying to get her to nap, I just want her to play. It's not like the playroom isn't full of toys. I even found this timer that could fit right into their kitchen.When it goes off - with whirling blades and music - they can leave their room.

Anyone else have any attractive kitchen timers to show me? It has to be able to set to 90 minutes. Surely 90 minutes in their room isn't bad... Is it?

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From My Family to Yours


We had family portraits done for the first time in two years last weekend. Just in time for Christmas cards. We went to the local Clix and got a deal with lots of Christmas cards. The photo to the left is not the photos I chose for the cards...















The one below is...


I know we'll get comments like, "No one is looking at the camera" and "Why would they choose that one?" Well,I choose it because it is real. It looks like we are sitting and talking in front of a Christmas tree. It doesn't look staged or forced. And it just feels happy to me.



We actually got a lot of great shots and it was VERY difficult to narrow them down. Like this one... I think Caelan looks like she's pulling a fast one...














And this one where Brenna is looking on as Caelan tries to gather all the lights she can...











And this one where they are both more concerned with the lights than with the camera.










Of course we had to get pictures of just the girls... They were being so good...







I'm sure the promise of Marble Slab ice cream had NOTHING to do with that...

Caelan is concerned with the glitter on her hands in this one...












Doug and I even had pictures taken...

Just us...

Together...












I'm pretty sure he was so patient because of the ice cream, too!

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Warm Sand Would Feel Good in My Toes Right Now

Winter has barely begun (ugh, I’m not sure I can handle 4 – 5 more months of this!) and I am sick of it. Though I am not a beach girl I have to admit that sand and sun sound really nice right about now.

So, in an effort to warm myself (because I am colder this year than I have ever been) I set myself in front of the fireplace and cruised beach vacations.

I have to admit that when I think of heading to the beach a Jersey Shore beach Vacation isn’t at the top of my list. But the Morey’s Piers water parks and amusement park looked mighty inviting. And the fact that I could find Resorts in Wildwood NJ and the Jersey Shore from the same website, well, that just simplifies things.

Of course Morey’s Piers is closed for the season but it’s not too early to plan for next year- especially if you live near there. Right now they are having their annual holiday sale: December 1 through January 9 customers can saved nearly 40% on a Season Pass to both waterparks. Or, if you’re planning a Jersey Shore beach Vacation for next year you can get great savings on those water park passes now. And be sure to check out their weekly specials all year round!

Those would make great stocking stuffers. It would definitely give you something warm to look forward to if you’re someplace cold (like I am).

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Toys R Us Hot Holiday Toy Giveaway

>> Monday, December 08, 2008


Visit the Toys R Us Hot Holiday Toys site and register. After you register you will be shown 4 gift boxes. Click the boxes in turn and if you match 3 you win that prize instantly.

Be sure to tell a friend - a page will prompt you to do this - and earn up to 5 extra entries.

You can play once a day. There are 400 instant win prizes available. 40 winners per day for 10 days.

A grand prize winner will be chosen December 15 from all eligible entries. The grand prize includes:One (1) prize package consisting of the Top 10 Hottest Toys for the season including: One (1) of each of the following: Step2 50's Diner, Thomas & Friends - Thomas Talking Railway - The Great Discovery Train Set, Thomas Wooden Railway Grow-With-Me Playtable, Power Wheels Toddler Fire Truck, Vtech Touch Tablet Pearl Ice, Meade 114mm Equatorial Reflector Telescope, First Act 7 Piece Designer Drum Set, Hasbro Nerf N Strike Vulcan EBF-25 Blaster – Yellow, Lily Castle and FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin' Pup.

Contest ends December 15- go play now! The instant win prizes are really nice...

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This "Fountain of Youth" Actually Worked on My Crows Feet!

Infusion_therapy


The last few years I’ve noticed lines forming by my eyes and I’ve been none too happy about it. I’ve tried many products but none have given me noticeable results. So when I was asked to try Dermalastyl I said OK. After all, it couldn’t hurt.

The reason I said yes to Dermalastyl is because it contains Tropoelastin, which has been used in Army hospitals to help wounds heal quicker. Surely the lines on my face are much less severe than war wounds.

I received my sample a couple weeks ago and began using the product nightly as I wasn’t sure if my sensitive skin would react to it. Not only did I not have a reaction to it but within 3 days, using it only once a day, my skin felt softer and the lines around my eyes were less noticeable (which means my powder didn’t settle into them by 3 pm and make me look exhausted!). After two weeks of use I’m really impressed and will certainly be buying more after my supply runs out.

A two months supply is $89, which is less than the products my dermatologist sells to me for the same purpose. And, if you break down the cost, that is $1.50 per day. I’m betting many of us spend more than that on snacks or coffee. Still not sure? Visit the Dermalastyl website and watch the channel 3 news report. There is also a 100% money back guarantee if you aren’t satisified.

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Delgo Opens This Friday

It’s an old tale, told in a new way. At least that’s what I thought as I watched the trailers for the new animated release, Delgo, which opens this Friday, December 12. It’s the first independently produced and distributed movie from Fathom Studios and I think they’ve got a winner.

The story takes place in the magical land of Jhamora which is divided between two cultures – the Nohrin, winged masters of the skies, and the Lockni, the terrestrial tribe who harness the mystical powers of the land. When Delgo (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), a reckless Lockni teenager, forms a forbidden friendship with the spunky Nohrin Princess Kyla (Jennifer Love Hewitt), hostilities between the two peoples escalate, setting the stage for an exiled empress (Anne Bancroft) to exact her revenge and reclaim her rule.

Falsely imprisoned, Delgo and his best friend, Filo (Chris Kattan), must put aside their differences to join forces with a sworn enemy, Bogardus (Val Kilmer), and travel to the mysterious land of Perran to rescue Princess Kyla. Here they encounter fanciful creatures and discover more than just a kidnapped princess, they learn the value of different cultures and the importance of working together.
For an independent studio the casting is impressive: Freddie Prinze, Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt, Anne Bancroft, Chris Kattan, Val Kilmer, Kelly Ripa, Burt Reynolds, Lou Gossett Jr. and Michael Clark Duncan. And it’s no mistake that the animated characters bear resemblance to the actors; the animators filmed them as they read their lines and incorporated their facial expressions and actions into their characters.

This image, courtesy of Team Mom, shows the main characters Delgo and Princess Kyla. I love the color and detail in the animation.


While this film may be a bit much for my young daughters I know my nephews will be excited to see it. The animation is incredibly realistic, the action and adventure will keep them in their seats and the humor and story line will keep adults interested. This looks like a great family movie for this holiday season. Delgo is rated PG and has a running time of 90 minutes.

Fathom studios is based in Atlanta and has been creating award winning computer animation since 1991. Delgo was recently awarded “Best Feature Film” at Anima Mundi 2008

This review courtesy of Team Mom.

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Create Your Own Fairie

>> Saturday, December 06, 2008

Because I have nothing better to do (ummm, yeah...) I just created my own fairie at Pixie Hollow. Let me introduce you to Ginger Candlesprout:

If you have a computer savvy fairie fan you'll want to get her logged into this fun Disney site. You build your own fairie and can take her on adventures, share poems and drawings and even print stationery featuring your fairie from your home computer.

It's really cute...

Ok, back to work!

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Doug's Going to Have a Flat Belly, Too

I got Doug to agree to join the Flat Belly Diet with me. The 4 day "jump start" is very restricted and bans coffee, sodas and tea. Yikes!

I took my measurements yesterday, am making Doug take his today. I won't make him share his, though.

Keep track of my at my Prevention buzz blog. Should be interesting...

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Looking at New Antivirus Software?

>> Friday, December 05, 2008

Not long ago I had to take my laptop in to have it checked out. It had begun doing weird things- like opening multiple windows without warning and freezing so that the only thing I could do was reboot, restart, shut down correctly and start again. I probably don’t have to tell you that it was a hassle. The final straw came when, upon a restart, I got a weird red screen and words that said my system had no OS. Niiicce…

So it cost me a goodly amount to take it in to the store and have all the viruses and spyware removed. Which really annoyed me as I have a package that is supposed to keep all that stuff from settling into my system. Because my package hasn’t expired yet I haven’t made a change of Antivirus Software but I will be as soon as it expires.
A possible replacement is a new company called Cyber Defender. Their Early Defender 2.0 has three features my current system doesn’t have: anti-phishing, anti-spam and an early detection network. And it’s $10 less. Another item they have is Registry Cleaner, which I am really interested in as my computer seems to have all the issues listed as typical of registry errors:
• Freezes / Crashes
• DLL Errors
• Blue Screen of Death
• Error Messages with no apparent cause
• Slow operating system
And that is $29.98 (which is a lot less than I paid for the same service from some geeks).
If you’re in the market for new Antivirus Software check out Cyber Defender, I’m going to.

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I Was Chosen. Now I'm Accountable. Yikes.

I've often thought that one reason I don't lose weight is that I am the only one I am accountable to. Because, seriously, if I'm the only one I'm answering to, well, I'll just say that cheeseburger looks better than a salad...

Back in November I signed up to be a Flat Belly Diet tester. Last week I received an email that I was chosen and my book came the other day. They have me all set up with a weight loss blog and everything.

Now I'm accountable to someone else. Yikes!

For more on the Flat Belly Diet click here.

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More Great Stuff on Sale at Sears

>> Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sears just released their sales ad for this weekend and it’s full of great buys. Seriously,I haven’t been in Sears for a couple of years but I may have to head out. If only to buy these sheets:


Fuzzy, warm flannel sheets for $19.99. Any size! It might keep me from wearing socks to bed. (Honestly, is it colder this year or is it just me? I can’t seem to get warm…)

OK, so maybe flannel sheets don’t get you out of your chair (you must live someplace warm). How about a Magellan GPS for $169? Or 50% off a Craftsman 16 drawer tool/storage combo (#62308/62221/62309), on sale for $299.97- save $300!

The Sears 3 Day Sale runs from today (December 4) thru Saturday (December 6) .

New Christmas PJ’s- 60% off (maybe even in flannel!), purses and wallets 40-50% off, a Kenmore 7 qt slow cooker for $39.99 (great for nice hot stews!), down and down alternative comforters 55% off (to go with the new sheets)… Other than the purses I think I see a theme here…

And, just in case you aren’t fully in the Christmas spirit, you can get GE Christmas light sets for $7.99. You know, to brighten your spirits.


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And the Blankie Winner Is...

Republished just in case some of you are checking in on the Blankie Winner:

On Tuesday I got an email from Litany at Fill in the Blankie that goes a like this:
Hi Jody,


I have been watching the contest and I really want all three to win a Christmas blankie. Not saying to stop everything dead in its tracks but each of these babies needs a Christmas blankie in my opinion… how do you feel about that?

If you could get the addresses for me I will have two more made and shipped to them.

Sincerely,
Litany

http://www.fillintheblankie.com


So we have three winners! The two nominated babies will be receiving a custom made Fill in the Blankie directly from them and the third my family (and my mom who made the nomination) will hand deliver to Blank Children's Hospital to the first NeoNatal ICU baby on Christmas day (or to Mercy's NICU if Blank doesn't have a Christmas baby).

I want to thank Fill in the Blankie for their very generous gift and make sure that you all visit them for your next special gift-giving need. Babies, baptisms, adoptions, "just because"... You can create the perfect gift.

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Wishes Don't Cost Much

Earlier this week (or was it last week? I’ve lost track of the days) I added the Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry banner to my blog. Normally I don’t wear my donations on my sleeve. There are a couple of charities I donate monthly to that I don’t mention. But this donation is special to me and I hope you will find that it is special to you, too.

There are thousands of kids here in the US that will celebrate the holidays without a parent who is somewhere in the world defending our freedoms. The Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry is a way for us to say “thanks” to them for the sacrifice they have made. Just read the wish lists sent in by the deployed parents and imagine it were you… Wouldn’t you want someone to give, even a tiny bit?

The top 10 wishes on the list aren’t even frivolous… Coats, pants, sweaters, shoes…

I’ve made my donation. (Note: donations are not tax deductible. All donations are totaled and given to participating families in the form of a Sears gift card.) I wish it could have been more, but I know that every bit adds up. I urge you to check out the Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry and think, “What if it were my kids?”


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Have You Seen Wishpot?

Wishpot is a website where wish lists and recommendations collide. The great thing about Wishpot is that you can add any item to it- not just items from a specific vendor. Love an item on etsy? Or an electronic from Creative? Maybe you're hoping for a pink mixer from Kitchen Aid. Wherever you find it, you can add it.

Wishpot has a handy little button you can add to your toolbar to easily add anything you might come across and multiple lists: your own wishlist, great finds, items you recommend and gift ideas for others.

And they have great widgets that you can customize. Isn't mine pretty?



Thanks to Jessica for leading me to this great site!

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Turn Your DS into an MP3 Player!

Both of my nephews and my teenage cousin have a Nintendo DS. So when I saw the R4 DS I was a bit intrigued. This little piece takes your DS game console and makes it video and MP3 player as well. And the R4 DS is only $19.49 from GameBay.com and that includes free shipping.

This flashcart also enables you to play games on your DS that you download from the internet- for free! Since I love multi-use products I think this is pretty cool. And I’m sure my nephews would love to take their DS to the “next level”. And it’s much cheaper than buying a separate MP3 player!

For more info visit the R4 DS page at GameBay.com.

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Tika Kids Makes a Great Take Anywhere Bag

>> Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sometimes keeping organized can be a lesson in futility. Especially when it comes to drawing and coloring supplies and children. When I was crusing etsy one day I found a great shop called Tika Kids that makes Crayon Bags. These fun and hip little bags have little "pockets" on the outside of the bag- specially designed for a couple of pencils and 8 crayons.

Tika's Kids header


The bags are made of heavy weight cotton and vinyl so they will hold up. The strap is short (17.5") which makes it ideal for tots to tote. And, possibly the most essential fact, they are machine washable!



Crayon bag collage 1



You can see that it is nicely sized for children (bag measures 11” x 10.5” x 2”) and the vinyl adds a nice bit of shine to the bag (which my daughter noticed right away... "Oooh, Mom,it's shiny!)

We tucked dry erase markers in our bag because inside is a wonderful magnet/activity board. This multi-functional board is edged with fabric (ours is matching vinyl) to cover any sharp edges and can be used as:
**a drawing with dry erase markers - it wipes right off! (SRX makes a great mini dry erase marker and they look much more attractive than the tall markers I had on hand this morning!)
**a surface to draw on paper
**a travel board for Magnetix®
**a magnetic puzzles and games board
** Tika Kids also sells magnetic puzzles and dry erase marker/eraser combos

Crayon bag collage 2

Don't feel left out if you have boys, either! There are lots of bags featuring dinosaurs, frogs, golf and nautical designs.

The slogan at Tika Kids is "creative items to keep your children quiet as mice". Not only will this be a great item for any travel we do but we will also take it along to restaurants and doctor appointments and use it during "quiet time" when my daughter doesn't want to nap but I must have a bit of time to myself. Oh, yes, these little items will be getting a lot of use!

Pricing: bags are $15, magnetic boards are $10, puzzles and other items begin at $4.50.

** Note: The TSA agent at my airport said they wouldn't let the board on a flight. But when I asked Tika Kids I was told that her niece had flown with one... I suppose it depends on your agents. Take it on a flight at your own risk.

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