Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Help Your Local School Win $25,000

Playground (Photo credit: phalinn)
It's time to start getting your community excited about U.S. Cellular's upcoming Calling All Communities (CAC) campaign.  The campaign, which runs from November 4-25, challenges schools to rally community support  for the chance to win a share of $500,000 to fund what their students need the most.  The 20 schools with the most community votes will each win $25,000.  Since the program began in 2008, U.S. Cellular has awarded $4 million to 56 schools across the country.  Past winners have outfitted their classrooms with new computers, improved outdated infrastructure and renovated gymnasiums, kitchens and science labs.  What could your school do with $25,000?

There is only one vote per person, so the key is to get every community member involved.  This is especially important in small communities.  I would love to see Eagle Elementary School, the school my kids attended, win - but we really would have to get the entire community involved, as well as friends and family from elsewhere, because there are not that many people in the community.  We'd need every vote, and then some.

Here are some suggestions from U.S. Cellular to help get you started rallying your community:
  • When the campaign launches, there will be a printable flyer on the U.S. Cellular website that can help you spread the word in the community.
  • Post information on your school’s website with a link to the U.S. Cellular website for updates.
  • Engage sports teams, the school band or student groups to help spread the word by handing out campaign flyers available on uscellular.com.
  • Ask local businesses to share campaign flyers with their customers or hang flyers on their premises.
  • Even get the Principal involved for some fun incentives like a pie-throwing contests.
I'm sure you can think of some others.  This list is just to get you started.  Since all voting is done online, I think having an internet-connected computer available at all school activities would be a huge help.  Not all community members have internet access, and even those who do may forget to vote when they go home.  Catch them at school and help them vote then and there.  And if you could get the local library to help out by posting a flyer and making a computer available for voting, that would be great, too.

The Calling All Communities campaign is open to all K-12 schools where U.S. Cellular has a retail presence – big or small, public or private.  Be sure to check out the U.S. Cellular website for more information if you have any questions, and get started gathering community support for your local school.  You could help your school win $25,000.!  Winning schools will be announced in December.

Disclosure: I am being compensated for my participation in the U.S. Cellular Better Moments Blogger Brigade as well as receiving a new phone.  My experiences with and opinions of U.S. Cellular are 100% mine.
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

I Was Going to Bake Bread

I can bake too!
I bake! (Photo credit: bcmom)
I do a lot of baking.  I'll probably do even more now that the weather is starting to cool down.  I've told you my favorite ways to warm up on a cool day haven't I?  Bake something!  Or wash dishes.  They both work really well.  Of course, baking is more fun, but it does usually mean there are dishes to be washed.

Anyway, I was planning to bake bread this week.  I had my sourdough starter pulled out of the fridge to warm up.  And that's as far as I got.

I was planning chicken wraps for dinner Monday night, and I turned the oven on to heat.  Then I got busy taking care of other things while I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Now, this new oven has always taken longer to preheat than my old oven, but I eventually realized that it was taking way too long.  So I checked, and the oven, which was supposed to be heating up to 400° was barely even warm.  Yep, something was definitely wrong.

I had to bake the chicken in the toaster oven, which worked fine, but dinner was really late.  We tried turning the oven off and back on, resetting the breaker just in case something hadn't been done right after our power outage on Friday, though everything else seemed to be working fine.  Nothing changed.  No heat.

It still did not immediately occur to me that I wouldn't be baking bread the next day as planned. Finally after dinner and dishes I realized that wasn't going to work, so I just fed the starter and put it back in the fridge

Thankfully, when we bought the house, we asked for a Home Warranty, so the next day I called to have somebody come and fix my oven.  First they said it would be next Wednesday before someone could come look at it - more than a week - but then they found someone who can come sooner.  Hopefully it will be tomorrow.  They needed my oven's model number and serial number so they could be sure to have the right part - hopefully it's just the bake element - and be able to get it fixed the first time.  However, finding those numbers proved to be a challenge, since there was nothing in the oven where it was supposed to be.

No numbers anywhere

She thinks she figured it out anyway, so here's hoping they got the part in and will be calling me in the morning to come and fix my oven.  If it's something more serious than the bake element, at least it can't cost us more than $100 because of the Home Warranty.  However, it might be a while longer before I can use my oven again.

It's been hard enough living just this week without an oven.  At least it's not Thanksgiving.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Complete Set

We finally have our complete new bedroom set.

We got it in stages.  First a new mattress - because we decided to get a king-size bed and couldn't use our old mattress, a queen-size.  We looked at and tried a lot of mattresses and finally decided on a latex mattress, which is very comfortable.  We really were thinking we'd go with a traditional mattress with springs and maybe a pillow top like we had before, and we wanted nothing to do with any kind of memory foam.  We still don't like memory foam; we laid on a couple of them just to double-check.  This latex mattress, though, is completely different and amazingly comfortable, and is supposed to last 25 years.  Or so. 

We got the mattress delivered on a Friday and then the bedroom furniture came the following Monday.  We thought it was going to take longer to get the furniture since they told us it could be 6 to 8 weeks when we ordered it, but we needed to get the mattress because we had guests (family) coming and needed places for them to sleep.  So we got the new king-size mattress, moved our old queen-size bed into a guest room, and bought a new full-size mattress for the other guest room.  We wouldn't have needed any new mattresses - or bedroom furniture - except that we let the kids have the full-size beds and dressers from their rooms in our old house.  So we just had our bedroom set - which we got years ago from Jeffrey's dad when he moved in with his dad - and a twin bed.  Oh, and a futon and an air mattress, so I guess we weren't completely unable to have guests.  But it's still nicer to have actual beds.

So, we decided that if we were going to buy new beds and/or furniture, we should buy the new stuff for us and not just to furnish a guest room.  Makes sense, right?  And then we started looking for a bedroom set that we liked.   Do you know how hard that is?  Because we had bedroom furniture and we had no need for new furniture, we'd never even looked to see what we would like.  And there are so many different styles to choose from, and sometimes a really nice set will have something wrong with it.  The bed will be gorgeous, but the dresser not so great, or the other way around.  It's really hard for these furniture designers to put together a complete package, and of course mixing and matching wouldn't work because of differing styles and woods and finishes.

We finally found a set that we liked.  And had it delivered.  Except that my dresser wouldn't go up the stairs.  The movers had gotten the old dresser upstairs, so we hadn't really thought about it, but this one just wasn't going.  It ended up getting damaged in the attempt, so they had to take it back and order a new one.  In the meantime, Jeffrey removed the stair railing so they would be able to get that one up the stairs.  We weren't attached to that railing anyway.  Now we get to choose a new one, and hopefully it can be installed so that it can be removed semi-easily should we ever need to move furniture up or down the stairs in the future.  I'm thinking not - but you never know.

We had the bed, chest of drawers, and two night stands, and an empty wall where the dresser was to go.  We finally got the new dresser last week, completing our new bedroom set. We're really liking it.  And I could finally move my clothes back into our room.  That's nice.

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Tuesday, October 08, 2013

My Son is a Vampire

And not some sparkly, cheap imitation of a vampire.  He's playing the real thing - Dracula.

UW-Whitewater students Cory Jefferson Hagen and Samantha Zaddack play Count Dracula and Mina Seward in the Theatre/Dance Department production of Dracula, a tale of romance and horror. The play, which is directed by Angela Iannone, opened last night and plays through Oct. 13 in Hicklin Studio Theatre.

Judging from the promotional pics and comments, this is a beautiful show, things are going brilliantly, he's making high school girls swoon, etc.

Thankfully we have tickets, because the entire run is sold out, and I cannot wait to see it! Though, of course, I will have to wait - until Saturday night.

In the meantime, I know Cory is going to be having a blast doing this show.  He loves acting, and he puts his whole self into being the best that he can be.  He amazes me with his awesome talent.  And, he's pretty.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Does Your Cell Phone Plan Earn You Points?

You'll notice I've been talking about U.S Cellular and my new cell phone quite often these past few months.  In case you missed it, it's because I'm part of the U.S. Cellular Better Moments Blogger Brigade. I have been compensated for my participation in the program and received a new phone.  In return, I get to tell you a bit about my experiences with U.S. Cellular and my new phone.  All opinions are 100% mine.

This month - well, last month actually; how did it get to be October anyway? - I want to let you know a little bit about the U.S. Cellular Rewards Program.  It's really easy to earn points, starting by signing up for a rewards-eligible plan.  As far as I know, most of the plans are eligible, and you earn points every month just for having the plan.  You can also earn points for attending a device workshop, referring a friend, paying your bill on time, and even having a birthday.

Points can be redeemed for faster phone upgrades, free accessories, and more.  Here's one I didn't know about - points can even be redeemed for tickets to concerts and sporting events or for signed sports memorabilia.  Sounds like they have a little something for everyone.

We have quite a few Rewards Points in our account, because we keep saving for that free phone.  Unfortunately, we haven't had enough for the phones we've wanted when it was time to upgrade, though there are always several phones available for free.  It would be nice if points could be cashed in to pay for part of a new phone, but there isn't really a cash value on the points, so it doesn't work that way.  Believe me, I've asked!  Next time we should have enough points for the latest, bestest phone - for free.

I did look at accessories when I got my Samsung Galaxy S4, but I didn't really like any of the cases so I ended up buying one from Amazon.  There are several available, though, and being able to buy them with points is very nice and convenient.  I'm thinking about getting some of the little speakers to plug into my phone to play music - or maybe the Bluetooth speaker.  Either one would be nice to have, and we have enough points to get them for free, while still saving for that next free phone.  Did I mention how easy it is for those points to accumulate?  It's kind of fun to get points toward free stuff just for having and using a cell phone plan - something we'd do anyway.

I'm sure it's even more fun to actually redeem those points, now that I've started looking through the available accessories.  Redeeming is easy to do, too - points can be redeemed online, in store, or by calling Customer Service, whichever works for you.

Does your cell phone plan earn you points for free stuff?  If not, be sure to check out the U.S. Cellular Rewards Program, and you could be on your way to earning a free phone, too.
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