car shopping

I purchased an Electric Lime Saturn Ion Quad Coupe a few years ago. Its got these cool back doors that open away from the front doors. It’s got OnStar and a six CD changer and it’s a 5-speed, and I love it. Then we got pregnant. I couldn’t imagine trying to get the car seat into those funny doors in California’s small parking spaces. And my husband got a job 80 miles away from our house. So he started driving the Electric Lime Saturn, and we traded in his VW Turbo GTI for a Passatt. He hates that green car.

He’s always admiring things like the VW Toureg (retails for a cool $50,000) and various BMWs and Mercedes with fancy wood grain. He really loves the Chrysler 300 accessory packages. Clearly, we cannot afford these vehicles.

So this weekend, he sends me a Costco ad for a Hybrid Altima. Turns out the Altima has a great tax incentive, and it’s only available in certain states that have California emission standards, so it may actually retain a little value. I’m all for it.

Except that our Saturn payment is really low and the Altima payment would be much higher. BUT – I think if we were going to buy a new car, this is the one I’d want. I really want a minivan, but I just can’t get past how much gas they use. As comfortable and useful as they are, they’re hard to justify unless you have at least 3 kids.

city guides

As the chief travel planner in the house, I’m always on the lookout for new and helpful sites. Recently, I stumbled onto HotelsbyCity.net, a search engine of sorts that helps you find good hotel rates. At first glance, the city list is a little bit of a mess because it’s not categorized by state or even alphabetized. I clicked on Carslbad – thinking it was Carlsbad CA, and it was actually, Carlsbad NM. So then I clicked on Paris – under cities in Europe, and found a very informative little city guide, with great hotel links as well as municipal links like the official City of Paris site. (It’s a little funny to read in English, but informative.)

There’s also a section of International links, which is odd, because there’s a section for US, Europe, Canada and Australia. I guess International means all cities that don’t fall into those areas already listed.

My real point here is that it’s good to branch out from my normal sidestep and orbitz every once in a while. For airline tickets, International Hotel Guide info, city info, etc. There are tons of sources of info at the click of a mouse.

This site also seems like a good writing opportunity. If your city is listed, you can add comments to the city guide. You can also write your own city guides – there’s a link on their Contact Us page for becoming one of their bloggers.

My new job!

Did I tell you guys about my new job?! I’m so excited. It’s with an honest to goodness virtual company. And not of the “pay us for the envelopes, then stuff them on your own time and earn up to $1 million a year!” I’ll only be working 10 hours a week, doing Outbound Marketing (a.k.a. phone calls), but I’m calling corporations during business hours, not residences, and I’m not selling anything, so I consider this an excellent opportunity. Besides, the company is growing fast, and I think that down the road there will be good part-time but more hours or even full-time opportunities in PR. Anyway, the extra money will really help us, and it’s the PERFECT schedule for me and my son.

I am a very lucky girl!

Oh yeah, they use this super cool server, so I just log in with my hand high speed internet, and I have a virtual desktop with all of their programs on it. I’m sure this technology has been around for a little while, but I think it’s awesome. I didn’t have to load any software on our home computer, I just had to have high-speed, which we already did, thanks to our trusty fiber cable from Verizon. I got a phone headset today, and it looks very official. My coworkers are spread out all over the country, and conference calls invariably include the sounds of babies on the line, but everyone is completely professional. Hats off to the ladies that started the company – lord knows there are tons of highly-educated, highly-qualified parents staying home with their kids – I’m lucky they’ve given me this opportunity, and I plan to make the most of it!

Life at Zero Gravity

Huntsville, AL Space and Rocket CenterWhile on vacation, we spent one day at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. We took lots of great pictures, fostered a new addiction for my son (space shuttles!), and went on some crazy ride where you sit in a seat and shoot up into the air, at least 10 stories. For a second at the top, you’re weightless. I think it was called Zero Gravity or something. Anyway, it scared the crapola out of me. My husband and I both went on it. I had to take my glasses off so I wouldn’t lose them, so I couldn’t see my son who was safely on the ground with his grandparents. All I could think of was how stupid it was for both of us to go on it at the same time considering I still don’t have any life insurance. Not even a burial policy. But we were fine. And I guess it was fun in a scare-the-crap out of you kind of way.

Consequently, this was my second trip to the Space and Rocket Center. Last time, they had no rides. They’re really souping it up. They also had a climbing wall inside. Not sure how that related to space, but you can climb it for free – they put harnesses on you and have ropes and stuff. My nephews had a ball.

(P.S. – Thanks, Steph, for showing me how to insert small pics straight from flickr. You’re a genius!)

my birthday gift

I haven’t been the greatest blogger lately. First, we were vacating. Then, I was unpacking/doing laundry/forcing my kid to return to Pacific Standard Time. Then I was cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner ever. (Thanks, Martha, for the great recipes! Pictures coming soon.) Then I was shopping.

Today, for the first time in my life, I partook of the great American tradition of stampeding poorly prepared cashiers and customer service people in retails shops of all kinds. My birthday is next week (31!), and I was on a mission to find my perfect gift.

Did I buy perfume or diamond rings? No. Of course not. What I did buy was a new Singer Confidence sewing machine. YAHOO! It is awesome! I got it for $399, normal retail is $599, and it kicks my old Singer’s booty. I also got a new Rowenta iron, normally $80, for only $30.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some sewing to do.

better than cash

I’m always on the lookout for unique gifts. As I’m sure you are. This year, I’m making most of our gifts (sewing) and most family members are getting a photo book off of snapfish. But this new photo gift card might just be my favorite gift yet. Next to Oxfam Unwrapped, of course.

GiftCardLab lets you create custom Visa gift cards with your picture on them! How cool is that? So in addition to the custom stamps I want to order with my sweet kid’s face on them, the photo books I’m having made with my sweet kid’s face, now I can also send a Visa gift card with my sweet kid’s face! It’s like a dream!

Seriously, I love this idea. So much better than cash.

I guess you can also upload custom artwork instead of photos. How cool is that? I really really love this idea.

serious as a heart attack

I can’t tell you how nice it was to spend a little time with my dad and step-mom, and watch them enjoy my son. He’s still small and cute and fun, and he doesn’t annoy my dad yet. (My dad has little patience for rambunctious kids – he’s a little crotchety these days.) But of course, as was the time I spent with my grandma and aunt, the trip was much too short.

Today, my husband’s boss’ father-in-law (did you get all that) had a heart attack. When my husband told me, the first thing I did was call my dad. My dad smokes and has a rum and diet pepsi each night. He takes medication for high blood pressure. He’s had a couple emergency room visits when his blood pressure got too high. He’s been a nurse for almost 30 years, and he still behaves this way.

So I called him to tell him I love him and to quit smoking. I’m not naive enough to think that not smoking would solve all of his health problems, but I can’t see how it would hurt. He’s quit quite a few times, and plans to quit again on his birthday this year. It’s becoming an annual event. The quitting, I mean.

It doesn’t matter. I’m proud of him every time he quits. Then he starts with a cigar a few months later – or sometimes a year later, but it always starts with a celebratory cigar.

Apparently he’s smoking organic cigarettes now. I’m not sure what this means. Are they still just as carcinogenic as regular cigarettes? I’m sure they cost more, but are they any better for his lungs? Are the harmful chemicals in the tobacco, or are they additives, or both?

It seems a little like switching from vodka to wine coolers when you have liver disease.

I don’t want to lose my dad. Ever. It terrifies me to even think of it. Losing one parent was hard enough, and I appreciate my dad so much more now as an adult than I ever did as a kid.

WaMu

I never heard the term “WaMu” until I moved to California. I’m sure it’s not a regional phrase, since the bank uses it in their advertisements, but I thought it was so clever when my friend said it, I thought she had made it up. I don’t bank with them, but if I were going to change banks, I would choose their free checking account.

Here’s why. They don’t charge for outgoing wire transfers. Right now, we have a few different accounts with different banks. I sometimes transfer money from bank to bank, and I always pay a fee. This discourages me from transferring money, which means I don’t always transfer what I can or should to savings. This annoys me.

If WaMu does it for free, why doesn’t my bank?

Ah, the tropics…

While I was on vacation, I got to watch my Aunt’s wedding video. You may (or may not) remember that she was supposed to get married in Nov. – hence the trip – but had moved her wedding way up, so I was unable to go. Anyway, we watched the video, so it was a little like we were there. It was beautiful – everyone looked great, the music was lovely, and we all cried watching her mom (my grandma) cry. I especially cried when my Aunt added extra vows to her new husband’s son – including him in the ceremony by promising to love him along with his dad. Beautiful.

So, it got me thinking about weddings. I’m patiently waiting for my own ceremony. I’m also waiting for Stephanie’s wedding (hee hee). And in the meantime, I buy every copy of Martha Stewart Weddings – even though they’re mostly ads of things I’d never buy.

I want to get married in the Dominican Republic in Casa de Campo at the Altos de Chavon. There’s a gorgeous little chapel that overlooks the bluest water. One small problem – it’s a Catholic chapel, and they’d never allow us to marry there – but if I had my druthers, that’s where it would be.

We’d get all our clothes off of this cool site weddingtropics.com, and we’d live happily ever after. The boys would wear Guayaberas (wedding shirts), and the girls would wear sandals and bikini’s with sarongs. (In this dream, we’re all built like Jenny McCarthy.)

Where would your dream wedding be?

travails and travels

Our trip was very interesting. Half of it was spent with family – fun and stressful at the same time. It’s hard try to coordinate the events for 12 people and still make everyone happy. Impossible, really. The second leg was spent at Pinehurst – world renown resort with 8 golf courses.

Pros: I got to see my awesome grandma, aunt and her new husband. I got to see my sister and her family. I got to see my Dad and step-mom. The visit with all of these people was too short and too full of activity, but it was wonderful anyway. I got to see UCF beat UAB. I got to spend quality time (although, not enough) with a few old friends.

Cons: My sister and my dad kept using me as a go-between to make plans when they were the ones with strong opinions on what we should be doing. Five days isn’t enough time for a small reunion. The family members who weren’t there were greatly missed.

As for Pinehurst, I will tell my tale in a future post. It was lovely and snobby and beautiful and overpriced.

Needless to say, we’re already making plans for the next vacation. This time, I’m voting for Vegas or Branson Missouri.