Book #1

Storm Runners

I received this book through First Look, my source of free galley copies. I loved it so much that I started reading all of Parker’s books. He uses simple language, simple characters with depth, and stories that don’t have a lot of Soap Opera twists and backwards turns.

The main gist is a cop’s family is murdered and he’s injured in the attack. When he’s ready to come back and join the living, he takes a job for a friend as a private security/body guard protecting a local weather girl. Her Katherine Hepburnesque character is experimenting with controlling levels of rainfall.

I really liked the unique story lines and interesting characters. This is my favorite Parker novel so far.

back in the saddle

We went to Maryland for a few days to visit my husband’s grandfather. He’s moving into a full-time-care facility, and we were helping my husband’s aunt clean out his cottage. Very depressing. But my grandfather lives in a trailer in Florida and refuses to leave. He’s two years older than my husband’s grandpa. At least one of them is taken care of.

On the mompreneur front, I am supposed to have a business plan prepared to enter into a contest in two days. I haven’t even started. Well, I’ve done a lot of research, and I have bits and pieces spread all over, but I haven’t started typing the actual document into Word yet. I don’t know what I’m waiting for. It’s free money, if I win. 1st place is $1000! That would go a long way as my advertising budget. But still, here I am, typing this blog post instead of my executive summary.

A friend sent me a blog by a girl that reads reads reads. She keeps track of the books she’s read by writing a short blurb in her blog and numbering each one – both keeping track of stories and how many books she reads. I believe I will start this. She also keeps a running journal. I don’t run that much, but I might keep an exercise journal. Basically, I love her blog and I’m going to copy it :) I’ve put her in my blogroll – “She Books It”. Get it? She’s a runner and a reader? Very witty, my friends, very witty.

I’ve already read a few books this year, but I’m just going to start fresh. Exciting news on the book front – the new Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants book is out. I didn’t know there would be a #4. I requested it from the library, it looks like its going to be a while. That’s okay though, because it gives me something to look forward to.

The House Inaction

Here’s a letter I got from my representative:

 

Dear Mrs. <name removed> :

Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on the Safe Climate Act of 2006 .

Representing the interests of the 49 th Congressional District is made much easier by people like you, who take the time and effort to share their opinions with me. Your comments concerning the Safe Climate Act of 2006 have been noted. I will be sure to keep them in mind when related issues come before me in the House of Representatives.

To view my positions and additional information on current issues, please visit my website at www.house.gov/issa . Each week, I survey comments received from my constituents and post statements on the issues of greatest interest. Please return to the website often as new information is added frequently.

Again, thank you for contacting me about this matter of concern to you.

Sincerely,

Darrell Issa
Member of Congress

Not so impressive…I don’t feel confident that he will consider my feelings at all. That’s why I didn’t vote for him. I voted for Jeeni Criscenzo, even though she was a long shot. Issa’s not a bad guy, but the issues he’s dealing with are not my first choice. He has very little sponsored or co-sponsored legislation dealing with anything environmental. He is very supportive of the military though, which I think is important and fitting for our district.

I have letters that my mom received from both Kennedy and Johnson thanking her for expressing her opinions on the legalization of marijuana…I think I’ll write actual letters to my senators and representatives from now on, so my kids know what was important to me :)

Down with Starbucks

It’s official. I’ve given up Starbucks. I’m not saying I’ll never drink it again, but I’ve given up my once-a-day habit. I’m taking a Personal Finance class and all the annoying 18 year olds were like, “just get your coffee at 7-11” “just buy it at Costco and home brew”, etc.

If I was only in it for the coffee, then that’s what I’d do.

First of all, they’ve obviously never had to deal with the logistics of getting a not-walking-yet fourteen-month-old out of the car seat, into a convenience store, filled a hot cup of coffee with one hand while holding the baby with the other (not recommended). Here’s how that would go down: still holding the baby, setting coffee on counter, try to open Splenda and creamer with teeth, “no baby, that’s not for you.” Baby drinks a little creamer on accident. Get lid on coffee with one hand without spilling it. Head to counter to pay. Set coffee on counter. Crap, money is in the wrong pocket, switching baby to other hip, getting out money, “no baby, don’t put that money in your mouth!”, switching baby back to other side, shoving change in pocket, picking up coffee, attempting to open door with back, some stranger takes pity on us and holds door, set coffee on roof of car, put baby in carseat, get in car and leave coffee on roof.

Now, here’s the Starbucks version of that scenario.

Mommy and baby in car, jamming to Indigo Girls. There are 5 cars ahead of us in the drive through, so I flip through a magazine. Baby drinks some sippy cup and races his Hotwheel along the carseat.  I order my drink (venti soy chai, no foam, no water, with an add shot), “that’ll be $4.55, please pull forward.” I hand the girl my handy Starbucks card that (until this week,) I always kept loaded. She hands me the best drink ever. We drive off into the sunset.

If Starbucks would just sell the concentrated chai, and not the watered down version that’s in the Tazo box, I could make it at home. But here’s what happens instead. The whole point of me getting “no water” is that the vanilla soy milk mixed with just the chai concentrate and a shot of espresso becomes this wonderful, creamy, spicy creation. The home version is a little like Eddie Murphy’s home burger…terrible. (That was a Raw reference, folks.)

But I digress. A lot. I have given up the perfect joy-bringing drink to save that $4.55 a day. Now, instead of loading my Starbucks card with $50 a couple times a month, I’m going to deposit that money in our savings account. I’ve been making a half pot of coffee at home every day and using vanilla chai spice creamer, but it sucks.

Also, my home version is only about 60 calories whereas the Starbucks drink is around 350. Since I usually burn about 200+ calories at the gym, this is an added incentive for me to give up my high-calorie chai.  But that doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.

eProgress

Today I purchased 16 domain names and got one free. I also chose a webhost that so far, I’m happy with. Although I haven’t really done anything yet. But they have a live chat support person who has been very patient with my annoying (and retarted) questions.

So, today I spent approximately $206 on my business ventures.

I’m writing two business plans to enter in a contest at the CC. The winner gets $1000! I could really use that money. Plans are due by Mar. 1 – eek!

Here’s where I’m at with accumulating costs…

  • I priced my post card marketing plan, and the mailing list alone is going to cost about $700. But with that list, I’ll get direct access (via mail) to over 7,000 businesses. Not bad.
  • The postcards will also be about $700 probably if I use color – which of course I will.
  • Then there’s postage. I may have to go to the post office to get the scoop on that. Their website info is a little hard to understand. I felt like I was back in the Army trying to decipher boring regulations.
  • Then there’s labels – do I print them? If I order mailing labels with my direct mail list, it almost doubles the cost! If I buy them – I could probably buy a gross wholesale or something…I need to check eBay for that. But then what? Print them on my printer? That sounds expensive and wasteful. But getting them printed sounds expensive too. I’ll have to find out the price of printing vs. the price of my ink cartridges.

Anyway, I’m on my way. I may need to think of another solution to get the word out rather than direct mail. But we’ll see.

Looking forward to getting my sites up with “coming soon” messages and Google Ads making me a little start up money.

confession time

I am a whopping 180 lbs. I have gone up TEN sizes since I got married – six before my pregnancy, and four more after I had my son. At first I didn’t want to buy any new clothes, convinced I would quickly lose the weight, so I continued wearing maternity clothes. Then my friend got pregnant, and I felt bad, because I still had most of her maternity clothes, and I wanted her to have mine also, so I finally gave in and bought a few size 18 jeans and XL shirts. Ridiculous. The funny thing is that I still have my shape – it’s just bigger. I’m kind of blind to my size until I see a picture of myself and have to count my chins.

Well, really, enough is enough. This is why I’m so proud of my daily gym attendance. I’m up to 3 weeks straight.

Here’s problem one – I don’t love exercise. I’ve always maintained my weight by my activities. First there was cheerleading in high school. Then there was the dance team in college. I’d gain weight all spring and summer and lose it all during band camp – that’s right, band camp. I freakin’ loved band camp. I’d get skinny and get a tan all in one week. Then, after college, I played flag football and softball on teams with my coworkers. I love flag football. I’m a hell of a corner back. Not too bad at first base either. Then I joined the Army. I think this was my downfall.

See, up until this point, I wasn’t actually muscelly, I was just fit. But at Basic Training, I got muscles. I was still a size 8 (birthing hips or whatever), but my body fat percentage was around 12% – this is very low for me. Then I got married to a Dominican who loves all foods – especially those covered in cheese or sauce – as much as me. Five years and minimal physical activity later – I had creeped up to a size 14. And I won’t lie here, when I found out I was pregnant, I was like, “yes! I can eat whatever I want.” Which is exactly what you’re not supposed to do. My dad was like, “make sure you’re walking…it will make delivery easier.” I was like, “okay, Dad!” as I sat on the couch day after day.

Then I had to have a c-section and they had to cut some stomach muscles. And no, not because I hadn’t been walking. Apparently the width of your hips has very little to do with the width of your pelvic opening. My kid was too big. His poor little head was stuck for 40 min. before they made me stop pushing and have a c-section. I won’t lie, that surgery took some recovery time, but not nearly as much as I took.

So here we are today…fat fat fat.

But here’s the goal. By my 7th anniversary (August ’07) I’d like to lose at least 30 lbs. and be down to a size 12/14. At least then I can fit into the closet full of nice clothes I have. If I pass that up, even better. Then I’ll sell all my nice size 14 work clothes on eBay and buy myself new clothes!

I’ve been lying to myself for a long time about how much of a problem my weight is. No more. In fact, I saw that open calls for Biggest Loser are this weekend in LA. I considered going, but I couldn’t leave William for 12 weeks. Plus, there wouldn’t be anyone to watch him.

So I’m on my own. But that’s usually how I work best. Plus, when William is ready for flag-football in a few years, I want to teach him how to be a great corner back. The key is watching the receiver’s hips – this will be a great relief from watching my own hips. :)

eBusiness Adventure

So I’m embarking on an ebusiness adventure in the next few months. I’m very intimidated by the technology of dynamic websites, but I’m forging ahead, planning on developing the site myself. This involves learning at least 2 programming languages, and enough of a third to keep myself out of trouble. I’m not a programmer, so it should be interesting.

The cool thing is that most people are not programmers, so programs like Dreamweaver 8 let the dummies like me jump in head first and create awesome stuff with almost no knowledge. This would be annoying to me if I was a programmer. Again, I’m not, so it makes me happy!

So here’s the plan.

  • I have to map out my database.
  • I have to purchase my domain name. (Should I borrow money for this, or use my money? Should I get a separate business credit card?)
  • I have to choose a hosting plan with enough memory and bandwidth for my kick-ass site, and that supports the database format and language I choose to use.
  • I have to learn how to code enough of the language to get by, and I have to learn how to use all the capabilites in Dreamweaver to make up for what I don’t know.
  • Meanwhile, I need to write a business plan.
  • I need to create a logo and some other custom artwork and start designing the site, which includes setting up my style sheets, choosing colors, fonts, images, etc.
  • I need to learn how to send HTML emails.
  • I need to write the first newsletter that will be offered on my site.
  • I have to research affiliate opportunities.
  • I have to figure out how to make PayPal work as my shopping cart/checkout feature.
  • I have to decide on a fee structure for my ebusiness offerings (I guess this is part of my business plan.)
  • I have to research publicity opportunites, viral marketing opportunities, and government and professional organizations that might help me.

I’m afraid to keep writing this list because I’m feeling overwhelmed. And this is just the eBusiness, I also want to start a consulting business at the same time. They go hand in hand, so I want them both up and running pretty close together. Here’s a to do list for the consulting business:

  • Purchase domain name.
  • Find out if I can host this site on the same hosting plan as my other site.
  • Separate accounts? Or one corporation with two business entities under the umbrella? Research business entity types.
  • Write business plan. Decide on financing.
  • Create logo, custom art, brochure (print and PDF version).
  • Design site.
  • I have to research publicity opportunites, viral marketing opportunities, and government and professional organizations that might help me. Look into mailing list opportunities. (Chambers, SBA, etc.)
  • Design mailer of some sort – send to prospective clients.
  • Research printers…mailer, business cards, brochures. As about discounts for referrals through consulting co.
  • Look into trademark info – trademark both names.

I better get off this blog and get started!

14 days!

Today makes 14 days straight that I’ve gone to the gym!!! Woo hoo…I have to say, I’m extremely proud of myself. Not that I’m training for a marathon or anything, but 30 or more minutes on the treadmill and at least 200 crunches everyday is bound to make a difference eventually, right?

So here’s something cool my friend Spankratz sent me: Pictaps

Which I was referred to by this newsletter:
Chris Prillo’s Picks which you can receive by emailing picks@lockergnome.com.

In other news, I was listening to NPR this morning, and there was a little snippet kind of pointing the finger at Gen. Casey for a lack of progress in Iraq. Along the lines of (some senator speaking), “Last year, Gen. Casey promised such and such progress pertaining to violence and insurgent attacks. Now a year later, he’s still making the same promises, only delayed a year.” This pisses me off. Why not hold George Bush accountable? Not the guys trying to do their best with what they’ve got. How far down the chain will they pass the buck?

Crap. I hate this war.