Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Credit is Scary

If you have credit cards, and sadly most people do, you've probably noticed changes in your monthly statements.  Now, they have this very helpful section that shows you how long it will take to pay your balance off, providing no additional charges are made, if you just pay the minimum each month - and then how long it will take to pay it off, as well as how much you will save, if you pay just a bit more. 

To quote the Minimum Payment Warning:
If you make only the minimum payment each period, you will pay more in interest and it will take  you longer to pay off your balance.

Which, of course, we all should know already, but the table makes it extremely clear:

Our balance on this particular card is only $505.  If I'm reading this correctly, this is saying that it would take 18 years, and we'd end up paying 8 times what we owe, if we just paid the minimum ($10) every month.  That is absolutely ridiculous!!

Of course, this doesn't completely apply, because we got 3 years/no interest - so as long as I pay the balance off before the promotion expiration date, we pay no finance charges.  Of course, if I fail to pay it off before the expiration, they sock us with the deferred interest - which is more than the remaining balance at this point.  I'm definitely paying this one off before that date!
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Friday, March 26, 2010

I Hope They Like it Spicy

I'm making some Taco Dip for tomorrow.  I really hope everybody likes it a little spicy.  I browned my hamburger and added the taco seasoning.  And then I added some more taco seasoning.  I guess I was thinking about other things, like how to include a random keyword I know nothing about in a blog post, or wondering why people are so resistant to eating healthy - I'm watching Oprah; she asked.

By the time I realized I had twice as much seasoning as I needed, it was too late to fix things - so we're just going to have extra-spicy taco dip.  Without olives, because I don't have any of those.  Good thing my recipes are flexible, huh?

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 51

I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.

I know I usually get my Looking at the Sky post up a lot earlier, but it is still Friday, right?  I’ve just been busy doing other things – posting something about the book I just finished (see last post), picking Cory up from school, running by the library to pick up a letter of recommendation (for Cory for scholarship applications), washing dishes, cooking…  I haven’t had time to look into Outer Banks vacation rentals or figure out which photo(s) I want to post this week.  Oh, who am I fooling?  No sense in looking into vacation rentals – who has time for a vacation, anyway?

Luckily, I can look at the sky wherever I am, and it’s just as gorgeous here as anywhere else in the world!!

…though some people are flying off to those other places:

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Book Review: Here Burns My Candle

Here Burns My Candle
by Liz Curtis Higgs

About the book:

A timeless story of love and betrayal, loss and redemption, flickering against the vivid backdrop of eighteenth-century Scotland, Here Burns My Candle illumines the dark side of human nature, even as hope, the brightest of tapers, lights the way home.
I like reading historical novels and getting a feel for how people lived in different times and different places.  I found myself immediately sympathizing with Bess, the younger and less favored daughter-in-law.  She may not have been the wife her mother-in-law, the Dowager Lady Kerr, would have chosen for her son, but she tried her best to fit in with the family.  Then, bonny Prince Charlie and his rebel army ride into Edinburgh, and the family dynamic becomes even more strained.  Betrayals are discovered.  Forgiveness is extended.  Hard choices are made, and the consequences sometimes seem insurmountable.

I found myself caring about what happened to this family and really enjoyed watching the relationships between them grow and change.  I especially enjoyed watching the Dowager we met at the beginning of the book seeming to gradually disappear, 'and a real woman - with flesh and bone and heart - was slowly taking her place.'  As everything else was stripped away, mother-in-law and daughters-in-law learned a few things about one another and what was really important.  Overall, a really good book that kept me interested to the end and left me wanting more.

Download and read the first chapter of Here Burns my Candle, and get your own copy of the book here.

A copy of this book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Somebody Slow This Thing Down

Cory brought home his cap and gown today.  Tomorrow is the last day of the 3rd quarter, of his last year of high school.  That means he has one more quarter of high school.  And then he graduates.  My baby is going to graduate from high school, and it's not very far off at all.

He gave me the cap and gown and said to put them somewhere safe, so he wouldn't lose them.  Do you think if I put them somewhere so safe that I can't find them again, his graduation day will never come?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Later Never Comes

I've got this very useful Firefox add-on called Read it Later.  When I find an interesting site, but I don't have time to read it now, I just right-click and choose "Read it Later", and it saves it for me.  It's kind of like bookmarking things, I guess, though it doesn't feel so permanent.  It's for the stuff I want to read, but since I haven't yet, I don't know if it's something I want to keep forever, like my bookmarks.

Except that this very useful add-on is also very dangerous.  All day long I open new tabs.  If something says "click here to learn more about protein powder" or "1000 free Custom Shapes for Photoshop" I click - and then I go doing whatever else I'm doing.  Then, at the end of the day, when it's time to head off to bed, like now, I start closing tabs.  That's when I realize I never read all the interesting things I found today, and I start saving them for later - so I don't lose them.

The problem is - later never comes, because the next day I find more interesting things that I really, really want to read.  Someday.  Later.  And the list continues to grow...
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Thoughts on Coloring

I hate getting home from the store and realizing I forgot something.  If it's something really important, I can usually have Jeffrey stop and pick it up on the way home.  Rarely is it important enough for me to run back over to the store, and often I can just wait until the next time I go shopping.  This isn't really all that important...

Today I was thinking about looking at hair rinses to see if I might want to buy one, but I forgot to look.  I was thinking maybe it would be something I could use between colorings.  I used to color my hair for fun, but now it's because of those gray pigment challenged hairs that keep showing up.  You know they say gray hair is hereditary - you get it from your kids!

At some point in time, I suppose it will be time to forgo the hair color and just go gray gracefully.  I'm not sure when that will be.  When I'm old?  Define old.  When Jeffrey finally goes gray or needs hair loss treatment for men? After all, he is almost 4 years older than I am, so it wouldn't do for me to look older!  When Beth finally grows up, gets married and has a kid of her own, making me a grandma?

Is there ever a good time to stop coloring and just go gray?

Dessert Decisions

Line art drawing of the A noteImage via Wikipedia
There's a special Spotlight Concert tomorrow night where the choir members and band members are going to be performing their pieces for Solo & Ensemble, which is this weekend.  It gives parents and friends a chance to see them perform, and it gives them an extra chance to practice and the opportunity to perform their pieces in front of an audience.

The Band Booster Association is running a bake sale during the concert in an effort to raise some money to help our band students attend a performance festival in May - the High Note Festival in Gurnee, IL - where they will perform before an adjudicator and then get to spend the rest of the day at Six Flags.  Sounds like fun, at least for those kids who like roller coasters and amusement parks.  My kid isn't one of them.  Sometimes I wonder how our kids can be ours, since neither one of them likes roller coasters, and Jeffrey and I love them.

Anyway, the cost for this festival is $50 per student, and we're hoping to help offset the cost to the families with a little fundraising.  Now, if I can just decide what to bake tomorrow.  I thought I'd make these Peanut Butter Cheesecake Brownie Cups, but then I started scrolling down the dessert page on my recipe blog, and there are so many other things that look so good.  Sometimes I forget all the good things I've made.

Help me out, will you?  What do you think I should bake tomorrow for the bake sale?  What would you most like to have?  Pretend there's some kind of multivitamins you can take so that you can eat any dessert, and the calories don't count.  In fact, while you're pretending, pretend that taking those vitamins and eating dessert means you lose weight and get in shape, too.  Sorry, I got a little carried away there.  I just need something for the bake sale.
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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Alvin and the Chipmunks. All opinions are 100% mine.

I remember seeing the previews for the Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, cleverly called 'the squeakquel' - well, I thought it was clever, didn't you?  This wasn't a movie that I felt just had to be seen in the theater, but now it's coming out on DVD, so we'll most likely end up watching it.  It's packed with action and nutty fun for the whole family - and cute little chipmunks, of course.  There are even girl chipmunks in this one, the Chipettes, a beautiful talented trio discovered by Alvin, Simon, and Theodore's ex-manager Ian.  I can just imagine the trouble the boys get into.

I've been having some fun with the 'Get Munked with Alvin and the Chipmunks' application at munkyourself.com.  You get to create your own chipmunk - choosing clothes, accessories, etc, and then record your own sound or choose a clip from the movie.  I'm not sure what this clip was about, but it's exactly how I feel sometimes.

Besides the 'munk' yourself thing, there's plenty More Munk Mayhem you can get into at foxfamilyflicks.com.  There are games to play, downloads to download, and music to sing along with.

Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel will be available everywhere Tuesday, March 30 on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download. You can buy it now through pre-order.  The Double DVD pack comes with "The Squeak Along" Bonus Disc, with more music, mayhem and all-new singalongs! TWICE THE FUN for the PRICE OF ONE!  Check it out and see if this is one you want to add to your home movie collection - and have some fun with the chipmunks while you're at it.

Visit my sponsor: Alvin and the Chipmunks:

Monday, March 22, 2010

How Often Do You Change Your Sheets?

I change the sheets on our beds every two weeks.  One week (this week) I change our sheets, and the next week I have the kids strip their beds so I can wash their sheets.  I guess I could do them all at once, but I like to alternate so I don't have too much extra laundry at a time.  There always seem to be enough clothes - how do these kids wear so many clothes in one week, anyway? - without adding sheets from 3 beds.

I'm not asking just because I'm changing our sheets today, though.  Changing the sheets reminded me of something Jeffrey heard on the radio a while back.  Apparently, there are places in the world where people change their sheets 3 times a year.   This must have been the article they were referencing.

3 times a year?  Really?  Who would actually admit that?  And, say you only changed your sheets 3 times a year - how would you decide when it was time?  I have a hard enough time keeping track of whether it's the week to change my sheets or the week to get the kids' sheets, but at least I know it's time to wash somebody's sheets every week.

Whether it's every week or 3 times a year, I'm sure there are as many opinions about how often you should change your sheets as there are about diets that work and diets that don't.  So tell me - how often do you change your sheets?
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There's Still Time

... to enter my giveaway!

Win a copy of Start Here by Alex & Brett Harris.  It's the follow-up to their hugely popular rebelutionary book Do Hard Things.  If you've got teenagers in your life, I highly recommend these books!

Did I mention that I've got one to give away?  Click the link and enter now, because the giveaway ends tomorrow.
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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Camera Critters (#102)

Since we got Weasley, it seems that Tillie has been neglected.  She doesn’t show up in my Camera Critters posts nearly as often as she used to.  So, it’s about time for a picture of our gorgeous girl.

She’s still as soft, fluffy, and sweet as ever.  She tolerates Weasley, usually.  However, she does not like Beth’s cat Teddy at all.  If he even looks her direction, she hisses and growls – and she gives him a wide berth whenever she has to walk by  him.  Hopefully Beth will figure out something to do with him and get him out of this house soon.  Tillie will be much happier.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Budget Cuts

Cory brought home a letter from the school superintendent today asking for input on upcoming budget cuts in the district.  It seems the budget is always being cut.  It's kind of surprising that they are able to have school at all!  And now, due to cutbacks in state aid coupled with a two year decrease in the state imposed revenue limits, the district is looking at having to trim $325,000 to $500,000 from next year's operating budget.  Pretty hard considering the district is already operating on a very tight budget. 

So, they're asking for input from district residents - things we value in our schools, and what things should be considered for reduction.  Now this won't really affect Cory, since he'll be graduating at the end of this year, but he's still worried that they'll decide to cut out the arts programs and no longer offer classes like art and choir and band.  That wouldn't be surprising, because that does seem to be what a lot of districts choose to cut.  After all, kids can live without music and art, right?  (Here's a whole list of resources that says otherwise - The Arts Improve Education

There's even talk around school that the foreign language classes will be cut.  I don't see how they can do that, considering that foreign language is required by many colleges.  Not offering a foreign language could make it extremely hard for students to go on to college.  They might be able to consider choosing just one language instead of the two currently offered.  French or Spanish?  How do you choose?

Instead of cutting Arts, maybe they should think about cutting the sports program down.  It's not like our teams are really any good, anyway.  And they could cut out classes like Automobile Ownership (seriously, do we really need a class to tell kids how to take care of a car?) and some of the agriculture, animal care, and shop classes.  Maybe if kids want to learn a skill like that, the district could partner with some local farmers, woodworkers, or garage owners and set up some kind of internship program.  That is if these kids are really looking to learn this stuff and not just looking for an easy class.

The same goes for the computer classes in our district.  In this day and age, computer skills are really important, so it's good that our school offers classes in web page design and computer programming.  However, the computer classes my kids have taken have been a total waste of time - basically a study hall with a credit.  So, the school either needs to get a decent teacher who will actually teach our students something, or they might as well cut the computer classes.  Boy, wouldn't that make our school district seem backward?  No computer classes.

The more I think about it, the more I realize what tough decisions the school district - not only ours but probably every one in the state and the country - has to make.  No matter what they do, they won't be able to make everyone happy and will probably make a lot of people very unhappy.  I'm sure the goal is to give the students the best education possible, and I think that means accepting that this is a small district and students are not necessarily entitled to a whole lot of choices and non-essential classes.  If they get a basic education of core classes, they can go on to college or technical school to learn the rest later.

But, like I said, my kid is graduating, so this won't really affect him.  I'll still have to send back the letter with my thoughts and suggestions, though.  If you've got kids in school, what do you think?  What classes are important?  Which ones less so?  How many times can a school district cut the budget and still educate students?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

America The Story of US

HISTORY is offering America The Story of US on DVD to every school in the United States. School must be an accredited public, private or home school, for grades K-12 and college. In order to receive your school's DVD, your school principal (grades K-12) or Dean of Students (college) should fill out the request form below. HISTORY strictly limits one request per school. DVD requests must be made prior to July 1, 2010. DVD's will be mailed around August 2010 and free shipping is included in this offer.

This sounds really good, so you may want to mention this to a teacher you know to be sure your school gets it.  The request form is HERE.

America The Story of US, which premiers on HISTORY April 25 at 9pm/8c — is a six week event that provides a fascinating look at the stories of the people, events, and innovations that forged our nation.

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 50

I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.

Even though the time changed, I’m still getting to enjoy the sunrise in the mornings.  It is dark again when I have to get up and when I walk out the front door, but it doesn’t stay dark the whole time like in the middle of winter.  So I guess I can live with it.  (Like I have a choice, right?)  Also, the sunrises are at their best after I get back home, and I can just step out onto my deck and get some shots.

Here are a couple I took Wednesday morning:

Well, I took more than a couple, but figured you didn’t want to see them all.  It’s so much fun to use a digital camera.  You can take as many pictures as you want without worrying about wasting the film, don’t have to wait to get them developed, and don’t need any special scanning software to get them onto the computer so you can share them with your friends!

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

A Reminder

With the warmer weather, we are beginning to see more and more people out walking on the streets.  I think now would be a good time to remind everyone that, where there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should be walking on the left-hand side of the road or street - FACING traffic.  That way they will be able to see when a vehicle is coming their way, and be able to get out of the way if they need to.

Like I've said before, I live in a very small town, so we don't have a lot of traffic.  It may not be a huge safety issue here, but it still bugs me to see someone walking down the wrong side of the street.  It seems that the majority of people in this town are really trying to bug me!  Seriously, more often than not, the people who walk in this town choose to walk on the wrong side of the street, often 2 or 3 abreast, sometimes with earbuds in.  They have absolutely no clue when a car comes up behind them.

I suppose it is their choice, and probably nothing bad will happen.  Still, people, if you don't care about your own safety, could you at least face traffic when you push your baby in that fancy uppababy vista stroller? Give the little person a chance to grow up!  (See photo example of how NOT to do it)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

How Disgusting Does it Have to Get?

When we got Tillie, and put the litter box in the bathroom, it became Beth's job to take care of the bathroom.  I pretty much stopped going into that bathroom at all.  And sometimes Beth cleans up the bathroom, but only when she's told to do it - and then she does a real quick job that can't really get the bathroom clean.

In between cleanings things can get pretty disgusting with cat litter everywhere - neither one of the kids who use that bathroom think to sweep it up, without being told.  Besides the cat litter, there's toothpaste, hair, and other gunk in the sink - and no one thinks to rinse it out or wipe it up.  And the tub?  It needs scrubbed, majorly.  I wouldn't want to take a shower in there, but again, it never occurs to Beth that it might be time to clean.

I'm sure she's just hoping I'll give up on her and waiting to see how disgusting it can get before she decides to take care of it - and clean it myself.

Is It Spring Already?

It was sunny and warm today, so I just had to get outside for a while.  Gotta enjoy it while I can, because it's supposed to get cool and rainy, and maybe even snow a little this weekend.  I'm not the only one, because there were people out everywhere - taking walks, visiting with their neighbors while the kids played in the yard, grilling something for dinner.  Everyone is coming out of their caves, blinking in the sunlight.  People like to complain about winter, but I think it just makes us appreciate it more when spring finally comes around.  But maybe that's just me. 

I do have slightly mixed feelings about spring this year.  Sure, I love the sunshine and the warm temperatures, being able to get outside and open the windows, but spring means we're getting closer and closer to Cory's graduation.  When he was a little bitty cutie pie, I told him to stay little; I liked him just the way he was.  He did not listen.  Now he's all grown up, going to be graduating from high school and then going off to college, where he'll have to find a job to pay for it, and where he'll be away from home and on his own.  How in the world did that happen?

I wonder if there's a way I can slow down these next few months?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: Start Here

Start Here
Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are
by Alex & Brett Harris

You want to do hard things.
But you don’t know where to start.

You are changing the world around you.
But you are tired and burned out.

You feel called to do the extraordinary for God.
But you feel stuck in the ordinary.

Do Hard Things inspired thousands of young people around the world to make the most of the teen years. Now Alex and Brett Harris are back and ready to tackle the questions that Do Hard Things inspired: How do I get started? What do I do when I get discouraged? What’s the best way to inspire others? Filled with stories and insights from Alex, Brett, and other real-life rebelutionaries, Start Here is a powerful and practical guide to doing hard things, right where you are.

Are you ready to take the next step and blast past mediocrity for the glory of God?

I only recently heard of the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris when one of my friends posted a quote from the book on facebook.  She highly recommended the book and was passing it on to her teenage son after she'd read it.  If you haven't heard of it, it's a book written by a couple of teenage brothers challenging other teens to rebel against the low expectations of today's society and 'do hard things' for the glory of God.  They even coined a new phrase to describe it - The Rebelution.  It definitely sounds like something I want my teenage son to read, too - and I want to read it myself.  I got a copy from the library, but neither one of us has found made the time to read it yet.

That didn't stop me from jumping at the chance to get a review copy of the follow-up book, Start Here.  Teens all over the world have been reading Alex and Brett's first book and getting fired up to do hard things.  They also have questions about how to get started, how to know what hard things God wants them to be doing, and what to do when they feel like they're slipping back into their old ways.  In Start Here Alex and Brett Harris answer the most common questions they've received from teens around the world.  The book is filled with examples and practical suggestions for doing hard things in your own life. 

I would love to see all young, and not so young, people read these books.  Because the authors are young people themselves - 19 when they wrote the first book, and sophomores in college when writing the 2nd - I think teenagers will take what is said to heart, much more so than if some adult tried to tell them what they should be doing.  From the response the first book has had, it sounds like there is a whole generation of young people who are not happy with the expectations, or lack thereof, placed upon teenagers in our culture.

The main point of Start Here seems to be that doing hard things is for anyone and starts right where you are.  Doing hard things does not always mean doing BIG hard things.  Sometimes those hard things are really small, but that doesn't make them any less important in God's eyes.  Attitude is key, doing whatever it is you find to do to bring glory to God.  Imagine a whole generation of young people growing up with that attitude!  Of course, no one is perfect, and Alex and Brett cover that too.

While this book is aimed at teenagers and young people, I think the rest of us can get a lot out of it, too  .I would definitely recommend it.  No one is too old to start doing hard things for God. 

I definitely need to read Do Hard Things now - and have Cory read it, too.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Start Here is available now for $12.99 or you can enter to win a copy.  Besides sending me a review copy, Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group also sent me a copy to give away to one of my readers.  If you'd like to win your own copy of  Start Here, leave a comment on this post telling me why you'd like to read this book or who you'd like to win it for.

I know it's just a book, but it's a good book so if you want additional entries: (leave a comment for each one)

  • Follow me on twitter (@bcmom) and tweet the giveaway link, you can tweet once per day and leave a separate comment for each.
  • Blog about this giveaway with a link back to this post.  Leave me a comment with your url.
  • Subscribe to my blog in a reader or by email, or Follow this Blog with Google Friend Connect.  Let me know which way you subscribed - or let me know if you're already a subscriber.
  • Link to Beth & Cory's Mom on your sidebar or add me to your blog list or blogroll.
  • If you can think of any other creative way to spread the word about this giveaway, go ahead.  Just leave me a comment letting me know how and where you shared.
Giveaway is open to residents of the U.S.  All entries must be received by 11:59pm next Tuesday, 3/23/10.  Winners will be randomly chosen, and if you're a winner, I will contact you by email, so be sure I have an email address for you.  Good Luck!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daylight Saving Time

Time change at the start of Daylight Saving TimeImage via Wikipedia
We're supposed to set our clocks forward at 2am - springing forward to 3am, and essentially losing an hour of our day tomorrow.  I'm not sure if anyone actually stays up until 2 in the morning to set all the clocks forward right then, but we'll be changing them all tomorrow - at least the ones we remember.  There always seems to be some that get forgotten, like the thermostat, which is pretty important, and the time setting in my camera, which isn't really that important in the grand scheme of things.

In the past I've questioned why we even need Daylight Saving Time, and I'm sure I'll be questioning when I go back to walking in the dark this week.  I've questioned why the time is supposed to change in the middle of the night, when nobody is up to do it, but I never questioned why it starts on Sunday morning. Why not Saturday morning?

By starting Daylight Saving Time at the beginning of the weekend, we would have an extra day to adjust.  One more day may not make that much of a difference, because it does take a few days to get your body adjusted to the time.  But, if you're going to lose an hour of sleep, why not early in the weekend, so you have a day to catch up?

Oh well, better get to bed, because it's almost midnight - and in 2 hours it'll be 3am.
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I'm Looking at Cheap Glasses from Zenni Optical

I keep meaning to order some glasses from Zenni Optical.  I've mentioned them before - the site where you can order eyeglasses for as little as $8.  Considering I don't usually get away without spending at least $300 when I buy glasses, the low cost Zenni Optical offers is really hard to resist.  Last year Jeffrey, Cory, and I all got new glasses.  We ended up getting them at Walmart and Sam's Club, and not necessarily looking for the best deal because, for the first time ever, we had vision insurance.  So, at least part of the cost was covered by insurance, and we got the rest back by using our FLEX plan, or whatever they call the health care savings plan.  We did have them note our PD (pupilary distance) on our prescriptions when we had our eyes checked, so we'd have all the information we need to order glasses online, so we could maybe get a second pair.

I haven't been entirely happy with the glasses I picked out, so I'm thinking it just might be time for that 2nd pair.  Oh, I can see fine, and they look nice, but I feel like I've had these adjusted so many times and just can't get them to feel right.  But there's no way I want to go spend a couple hundred dollars just to get a new pair, so I'm seriously thinking it's finally time to try some from Zenni Optical. 

My brother was just asking the other day if we had ordered any yet, because his glasses broke, and he needed a new pair.  I said no, but I do know of people who have ordered and love them - even better than the glasses they got from their local eyewear place.  (Drew of BenSpark.com for one)  I also just read this completely unpaid review by Eric Hammer, where he most definitely recommends Zenni Optical for cheap eyeglasses.  He's been buying all his glasses from Zenni for the past 8 years and never been disappointed.

With Zenni it really is possible to get quality eyeglasses for a reasonable price.  How do they do it?  They manufacture their own frames and sell directly to the consumer, eliminating the middleman.  They don't sell designer or name brand frames.  Also, they don't have a huge advertising budget, relying mostly on satisfied customers to spread the word.  There are additional charges for bifocals, photochromatic lenses, or higher indexed polycarbonate lenses, but I can tell you those charges are substantially less than what they charge at Walmart or Sam's. Just getting polycarbonate lenses at all costs about $80 at Walmart, and they're included at Zenni.

Every order comes with:
  • High quality stylish frame
  • Thin and Light 1.57 index lens
  • Anti-scratch coating
  • Full UV protection
  • Lens edge polishing and beveling
  • Quality Hard Eyeglass case
  • Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloth
  • Zenni Optical's Guarantee
What do you think of this pair?

Shipping is $4.95 no matter how many pairs you order, so I need to find some I like (maybe these - they're $9.95) and then get Jeffrey and Cory to pick some out, too - because we might as well order them all at the same time.  
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A Couple Giveaways

I didn't post any giveaways last week, because either I didn't enter any or I completely forgot what they were.  I think there was one, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was.  I guess I'll just be pleasantly surprised when I win, right?  It also proves that I need to keep a list.

Anyway, here are a couple giveaways I entered:
If these sound like something you'd be interested in, click the links to enter.

Camera Critters (#101)

For some reason I have this urge to post some Dalmatian pics.  I don’t have any of those, so you’ll just have to settle for some more pictures of Weasley.

Silly little cat just seems to end up in front of the camera all the time.

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I Guess I Just Don't Get Designer

I keep getting these emails from 6pm.com - OK, I signed up for them, but that's beside the point.  The point is, they keep telling me about all these great deals - 60, 70, 80% off.  Sounds great, right?  Except that even at 80% off, most of these things cost more than I'd ever want to pay.  I mean, I just can't convince myself I need to pay over $100 for a pair of shoes.  I shouldn't have to sell my timeshare or my firstborn to look good, should I?  (though sometimes selling the firstborn is mighty tempting)

What makes these so great?  The designer's name?  Who's Marc Jacobs?

I felt the same way when I went to New York with the band last year.  So many of the girls just had to find those designer handbags.  Coach?  What's that?  Is $50 really a good price for a purse?  Must be, because these girls were so excited, but I just didn't get it.  I buy mine for under $10 on clearance at Walmart.  I can get excited about that.

How about you?  Do you get designer this and designer that?  Am I just cheap?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gotta Get Away

I just watched a commercial for vacations.  Yes, I know, I usually don't pay any attention to commercials, so I'm not sure why this one caught my attention.  Maybe it was the scenery and the gorgeous beaches and the people obviously having a great time.  Ah, yes, one of those vacations would be nice.

It won't be happening anytime soon, with work and a kid in school, and Jeffrey and I still haven't figured out where we want to go for the 25th anniversary get-away we're planning to go on, never mind anything in the meantime.  I'd love somewhere with a beach, but Jeffrey doesn't get too excited about beaches - and he'd need to get crackin' with the fitness equipment between now and then, big time.  Hey, I'd feel better about hitting the beach if I hit that equipment myself.

Maybe we should just go to Alaska?  No need for toned beach bodies there.

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 49

I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.
I had to go pick Cory up from play practice this afternoon.  He drove home, which is good, because he needs the practice.  Overall, he’s a really good driver, but he just doesn’t want to drive very often, so he doesn’t have his license yet.  I guess that works out well for us, because we don’t have to pay for extra car insurance or go looking for used cars so he has something to drive.  On the other hand, it would be nice if I didn’t have to go pick him up when he has after-school activities.
But that’s not the point.  The point is, he was driving so I was looking at the sky.  Yes, I look at the sky when I’m driving, too, but I’m sure it’s much safer when someone else is driving.  I took a couple pics from the van and then a few more once we got home.

I liked this one best:
 If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

We Have Suction

A while back I noticed that my vacuum cleaner didn't seem to be picking things up the way I thought it should, the way it used to.  It still seemed to be picking up an entire cat in every room, but the hose just didn't seem to have any suction like before.  And, every once in a while, it would simply shut itself off, and I couldn't turn it back on for an hour or two.  Not good!

I looked for the owner's manual, which I still haven't found, to see if there was anything in there to help me fix it.  Finally, I had my husband look at it - because that's what husbands are for, after all.  He found the filters, which were very, very dirty.  Of course, once he showed me where they were, they were really obvious, and even well marked - but I had never gotten down and really looked.  Apparently, the cell mass of all the dust and dirt had exceeded the capacity of the filters, and they desperately needed cleaned, so I hosed them down in the kitchen sink and let them dry.  And when I put them back in and used the vacuum cleaner the next time?  Suction! 

My vacuum cleaner works properly again, and if you're having the same problems with yours, check the filters.  It's very important to clean the filters on a regular basis - unless you're looking for an excuse not to vacuum.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's The Little Things

I washed the towels yesterday afternoon.  I was in a bit of a hurry because Cory had just called and told me he needed me to go pick him up at school.  I missed his call, so I only had about 15 minutes before I had to leave by the time I called him back and found out what he wanted.  So I rushed to get the towels into the washer and lock the boys in the basement before I had to leave.  Then I grabbed clean towels out of the hall closet, for us, thinking I could grab the kids' towels when I got back.

But we got back, and we went to the library, and we had dinner, and I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner, and...  And I never thought about those towels again until this morning, when Cory told me how he had been so busy cleaning up after one of the cats before he could get into the shower that he didn't notice there were no towels until after he had taken his shower.  I did remember the gmat prep courses, I mean bath mat, but there were no bath towels, wash cloths, or even a hand towel in there.  So he had to jump out of the shower all dripping wet, go out into the hallway, and grab a towel.  Good thing there was nobody around, huh?

Just goes to show how important some of the little things mom does around the house are, and what happens when they don't get done!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Do Your Kids Like to Color?

Enter the This Little Prayer of Mine coloring contest and you could win over 10 WaterBrook Multnomah children’s books, a value of over $100!  Three winners will receive books that deal with topics like:

• Having a good attitude when Mom says “no”
• How special each child is to God
• Sharing God’s love
• The power of kindness and the strength of mercy
• And more!

Fill in the contact form, and download the coloring sheet.  Then have your child (between the ages of 3 and 10) color it, and mail it to WaterBrook Multnomah.  Entries must be postmarked by March 30, 2010.

Heads or Tails – a Past Theme

Heads Or Tails
The theme/prompt for THIS week, March 9, is:

EDGE - "Any Past Theme"
Make any kind of post using any form of the word "Rumor"


I briefly thought about choosing all the themes I’ve missed so far this year, and then I came to my senses.  Instead I just chose one -  "List 3" from February 2 - Make any kind of post listing 3 things from any category you choose.  The other missed themes will just have to wait.  Or I could just cheat and list them here, since there are 3!

  • February 9 – HEADS - “Chain”
  • February 16 – HEADS or TAILS - “Light or Dark”
  • March 2 – HEADS - “Cup”

There – I’ve listed 3!

Seriously, that wasn’t my list.  Here’s the list I would’ve posted on February 2, if I had actually made up my mind before Tuesday night, when it was too late.  Yes, I know someone told me it’s never too late for Heads or Tails, but I figure if I don’t get it done by sometime on Tuesday, then it’s too late.  Anyway, without further ado:

3 books Cory and I just had to buy at Barnes & Noble, because they were $2 each, and because they were just so nerdy:

  1. Battle Cries: The most stirring speeches from history’s greatest warriors, activists, and revolutionaries by James Inglis
  2. The Compleat Cast of Characters in Literature (Sparknotes)
  3. Chambers Dictionary of Literary Characters

(links are to Amazon, because I couldn’t find the first one on the Barnes & Noble website)  I don’t know how much we’ll use these books, but we just couldn’t pass them up!  Now, if we’d only found books on eczema or politics, we could have easily passed those up.

Heads or Tails is a fun weekly meme created and hosted by Barb (aka Skittles) – feel free to join in!

The Quest for the Black Jeans

Cory really likes black jeans - not a dark black, more like a very faded black.  He had a pair that he completely wore out.  First there were rips in the legs, which we sewed up so he could continue wearing them, but then they ripped out by the back pockets.  First he just got some cool boxers to wear under them, when the rip wasn't too big, but then they just ripped so badly there was no wearing them - decently, anyway.  Since then we've found him another couple pairs, but they've either ripped out by the back pockets again or had some other problem.  Either that boy has bad luck with black jeans or he's just extra hard on them because he wears them all the time.

Anyway, we went on a quest for new black jeans on Sunday, along with getting our hair cut and going to Sam's for a bunch of stuff.  We had 20% off at Kohl's, so we started off looking there - but no black jeans.  He did find one pair on the clearance rack, but they were too short.  So we went to the mall and looked at JCPenney and Sears, but no luck there, either.   They did have some black jeans at Penney's but either he didn't like them or they didn't fit right.  He tried on a size larger than he usually wears, and it looked like he was going to need to start taking weight loss supplements or start an exercise program - and here I thought men's jeans came in consistent sizes.

We were beginning to think Cory would have to give up on those black jeans, and he was getting very frustrated.  So we stopped and had dinner at Olive Garden (yum!), and Cory and I walked over to Kmart while we were waiting for our table.  No black jeans there, either.  Then, after dinner we decided to try one more store - the Target we had driven by earlier, but not stopped in.  There, he found a pair he really liked, but they were $35, and a pair he liked, though not as well - but they were only $16.  He settled for the $16 ones, which fit really nice and look good.  Even better?  There was no sign, but they were on sale for $11.88!

Now, if we'd only looked at Target the first time we went by, we could've saved ourselves a lot of time and frustration.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Camera Critters (#100)

Wow!  This is the 100th weekend of Camera Critters!  That’s a lot of critter pics.  Makes you tired just thinking of it, doesn’t it?

Camera Critters is a fun weekend meme hosted by Misty Dawn.Visit the Camera Critters headquarters and join in.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Anything Worth Doing

Sometimes, the reason I'm good at things is the same reason I'm not so good.  I'm good at making web pages work and dealing with all the little details.  I'm good at putting together a wall calendar for the school district, again with all those little details.  I'm good at typing up the minutes for the Library Board meetings.  I'm good at all those things because I'm a perfectionist, and I'm willing to work at it until all those little details are right.

Then again, I'm not so good at those same things - because I'm a perfectionist.  Why?  Because it takes me so long to do things, because I can't publish or share, because I'm not finished until it's perfect.  Whether it's a book review, a murad review, or even a facebook status update, it has to be perfect.  Even after I post, I read it and edit, or delete and start over.  Imagine my life before computers - one messed up word, and the entire sheet of paper ended up in the trash can! 

Also, because all of this takes time, I put off doing things - until I have the time to do them right.  Some things would never get done if I didn't have deadlines, or friends who push me to just do it.  My friend Peggy is a good example of this.  We work on a Feast of Tabernacles website together.  She doesn't have the knowledge or the patience for all those details.  What she does is throw together the web pages with all the information, and then she uploads them to the server.   Then she knows I'll have to take care of all the details, because I won't be able to stand them until I tweak them all so that they're right.

And now, I've got some tweaking to do...

Book Review: Dancing with My Father

Dancing with My Father
by Sally Clarkson

The reality of living in a broken, fallen world can leave women feeling overcome by fear, guilt, and weariness. Many develop “sawdust souls,” numb to any sense of joy.

In this warm and wise book, author Sally Clarkson invites readers to take God’s hand and let Him lead them into a life of anticipation, passion, and purpose. With the voice of a trusted mentor, she reveals how, by getting in tune with the rhythm of God’s presence, women can nurture an inner attitude of anticipation and celebration even in the stressful seasons of life.

Through rich biblical insights woven with real-life stories, women will be inspired to recapture a spirit of joy as they follow God’s lead on the dance floor of life.
Beginning by painting a picture of a young girl all dressed up and dancing with her father, and evoking the joy that young girl felt, Sally Clarkson goes on to show how our Heavenly Father wants to lead us in the dance of life.  He wants us to feel and experience that joy on a daily basis, regardless of our circumstances.

Through personal example and scripture references, Sally leads the reader through her own search for joy.  Then, at the end of each chapter, she includes questions to get us thinking and to help us find the joy God wants for us in our own lives - Finding Your Rhythm in God's Joy.

I haven't quite finished the book, and it's not a book you can rush through but one to savor and internalize, one that asks you to exam your relationship with God and invites you to let go of your expectations and look to God for the joy He wants you to experience.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Dancing with My Father is available now.  I did not request an extra copy to give away, but here are a few blogs I've found that are offering giveaways, if you'd like to try and win a copy:
 If you're interested in finding more, just use Google Blogsearch to search 'Dancing with my Father giveaway' and you'll find several more.   Also, you can read author Sally Clarkson's blog at www.itakejoy.com.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Looking at the Sky on Friday - 48

I’m so glad there’s a meme like Looking at the Sky on Friday, because it means all the time I spend looking at the sky, and taking pictures of it, has a purpose! Click the badge for more info.

My mornings have been getting brighter and brighter.  I get up every morning at 5:45 and go for a 2 mile walk, and all winter long I’m walking in the dark.  Hey, I’d rather walk in the dark than rely on fat burners, so I do it, but I really appreciate it when the days start getting longer.  I get to enjoy the sunrise instead of a dark, star-filled sky.

Unfortunately, Daylight Saving Time is scheduled to start next weekend, which means my mornings are going to be a little darker again, at least for a while.  I enjoy the stars, too, but I’m really ready for some light.

If you enjoy skies as much as I do, be sure to check out Looking at the Sky on Friday.

Less Time and More Expenses

So we're sending our son to college next year. For all you who have little kids - start saving now.  I know that's easier said than done, because we had good intentions of saving for our kids' college educations, but finding that extra money is never easy.  Now we just have to make it work.  I keep telling him that he better fill out every single scholarship application he can get his hands on, so hopefully something will come through - if he'd ever get his butt in gear and do it.  (I hope you're reading this, Cory.  I <3 you!)

Also, besides Cory needing to find a job to help pay for his own education, Jeffrey is saying I will need to find one, too - one that pays more than blogging, I suppose.  I'm not so sure what I want to do or what I'm even qualified to do after being able to stay home and take care of the family and the house for so many years.  Not that I'm not capable, but where to start?

I'm also catching myself thinking about all the things I do on a regular basis and wondering how I'm going to have time to do any of that stuff ever again.  Yep, I'm already making a list of all the things that won't get done or that I won't be able to do any more - baking, reading, ironing Jeffrey's shirts, and shaving my legs are only part of that list!  And what about walking?  And if I can't walk will I gain weight and have to buy new clothes?

That brings me to another issue - Balancing Work and Family on a Budget. Because I'm home, I have time to cut out coupons and send in rebates, and fix meals without relying on ready-made foods.  If I'm not home, how will I have time to do those things?  Luckily the boy won't be living at home, so maybe the grocery budget will be able to stay the same, but there are bound to be other expenses that we don't have now.  Thankfully we won't need to pay for daycare, which even with SitterCity coupons, can still be expensive.  That was part of the reason I didn't go back to work while the kids were little - after paying for gas to get there and daycare for the kids, I really wouldn't have been making any money.  And then the kids got older and needed someone to drive them here and drive them there, and there was always plenty to do, and I'm just not one of those 'have to get out of the house' kind of people, so I was happy staying home and taking care of the things that need done.

Hopefully there will be less to be done with no kids at home.  I'm sure it will all work out.  Other people do it.  I will need to find a way to track any extra expenses, so I'll be able to figure out if I actually end up making any money.  That is, if I can find any extra time for that.

Book Review: Mother-Daughter Duet

Mother-Daughter Duet
Getting to the Relationship You Want With Your Adult Daughter

By Cheri Fuller and Ali Plum

A Harmonious Relationship is Possible!

When your daughter was born, you had a thousand hopes and dreams for her…including that one day you’d be best friends.

But as life unfolds, even the best intentions go awry. There are so many challenges on the journey to adult friendship that the reality is fraught with friction and frustration. Thankfully, a harmonious relationship with your daughter is possible.

Written by a mother and daughter who have successfully navigated the minefield from distance and tension to acceptance and friendship, this book helps moms open wide the door of communication so that daughter want to walk through it. Filled with personal anecdotes and based on proven principles, each chapter offers timeless wisdom as well as a daughter’s perspective. Often these principles apply to daughters-in-law as well.
After reading Mother-Daughter Duet by Cheri Fuller & Ali Plum, I know this is a book I'm going to need to read again and refer to often.  It's a book written by a mother and daughter for mothers and daughters, designed to help you get to the relationship you want with your adult daughter.

Since I have a 19-year-old daughter who is just now entering into adulthood, this book couldn't have come at a better time.  Through the book Cheri and Ali take us through their own relationship, sharing the hard times and how they worked through them to develop a relationship they can both truly enjoy.  They also share stories from other mothers and daughters with all different kinds of relationships.  The common thread seems to be that, no matter the circumstances, the mother-daughter relationship is one of the most complicated relationships, if not the most complicated.  It can also be the most rewarding.

I found it encouraging to read Ali's contributions of the daughter's point of view.  No matter how bad things seem, or how much your daughter seems to be pushing you away, she really does want to have a relationship with you.  There are lots of times when I really need to believe that!  On the other hand, she is really trying to separate from her mother and become her own person, and she needs to know that her mother will be OK.
If mom doesn't let go, a daughter can't come back on her own free will to choose connection.
The hard part is finding the balance, letting go; accepting your daughter for who she is, even if she hasn't got it all figured out yet; only helping when she ASKS for your help - there are a lot of helpful tips in this book, through all stages of life.  We are just entering this stage of our lives and, after reading this book  I am encouraged to believe that having a harmonious relationship with my daughter is possible, and this book gives me some of the tools I need to make that happen. 

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Mother-Daughter Duet is available now.  I did not request an extra copy to give away, but here are a few blogs I've found that are offering giveaways, if you'd like to try and win a copy:
Those are just a few.  If you're interested in more, just use Google Blogsearch and search 'Mother-Daughter Duet giveaway' and you'll find more.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

I Should Set Some Priorities or Make a List

I've been missing in action the last few days - no blog posts, barely any tweets or facebook status updates (if you follow those).  I'm not even sure exactly why.  I mentioned on twitter that 'Apparently, without the Olympics, I have nothing to say.' - so maybe that's it?

No, it's more that I've had meetings to get ready for - Band Boosters on Monday and Library Board on Tuesday evening.  And there's this book I'm trying to finish because I'm supposed to post a review and a link this week - so look for that tomorrow.  And then today I decided to dust and vacuum the house, instead of finishing the book or writing a post.  Sad when house cleaning is more important than reading or blogging - or is that the way it's supposed to be?

Whatever the reason and however much housework is always waiting to be done, I really do have some posts I need to get done this week - and some that should have been done long ago.  It's all about priorities, I suppose, and sometimes I have a hard time getting those straight.

Speaking of priorities, here's one for all of you - go enter my brother's giveaway.  He's giving away a 20-oz jar of 100% natural, homemade maple syrup!  Sounds yummy, doesn't it?  And while you're there, take a little time to look around his blog and learn about the homesteading experience in South Central Kentucky, a place where home security systems and a lot of other things most of us think we want or need aren't really necessary.
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