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.

The gym

Today is the third day in a row that I’ve gone to the gym. I think we’re (me and William) are getting into a pretty good schedule. One problem is that William wakes up anywhere between 5 am and 7 am. Closer to 7am is great – for obvious reasons, but mostly, the gym’s day care doesn’t open until 8 am. If he wakes up closer to 5 am – as he did today, he’s so tired by 8 am that he cries at the day care. Also, there are some really really nice care workers that love him and hold him all the time, and there are others that do not. Basically it’s a crapshoot. I’m trying to keep my workout under an hour, so that we’re on our way home by 9 am. He’s been falling asleep in the car about a mile from our house. This is okay if he stays asleep and I put him in his crib…

Man, I think I just dozed off while I was typing that, it was so boring.

So here’s what I really wanted to say about the gym before I got sidetracked with baby stuff. There was this girl on one of the fancier eliptical trainers – the ones that move your feet so fast, you feel off balance. She had her little workout outfit on – low-rise black lycra pants, little black bra/tank with lots of boobs spilling out, huge tattoo across her back/butt showing. Hair and makeup totally styled like she was on a date. She had headphones on and was singing at the top of her lungs. Now, I know it’s American Idol season, but crap! First of all, she couldn’t sing. That was the worst part. If you can sing, go ahead. If not, well, keep it to yourself.

This is actually contrary to my normal way of thinking. I actually really like it when people can dance or sing or whatever with out holding back – regardless of talent level. BUT, there was this poor lady trying to read her book and do her elliptical workout, and I’m sure that girl’s off-key hollering was messing her up. The guy on her other side was working his ass off, literally. Sweat pouring off of him. He was easily moving his legs 10 times faster than the singer. I guess he was in some kind of zone, so it probably didn’t matter.

Anyway, my point is that she was so annoying. And for someone so obviously concerned with her appearance, you’d think she’d shut her trap and stick to looking cute in her workout clothes.

Tomorrow I’m going to take the Step class. No singers in there, I’m guessing.

More and more My Space

Yesterday I found the two people I really really really wanted to find on My Space – my good friend Dr. Cooch and my long lost dancing, waitressing, high-kicking, tequilla-drinking, boob-flashing, laugh-my-ass-off friend Sara Cohones!!! I’m going to buy a lottery ticket today, I feel so lucky. I’m off to call Sara to catch up…it’s been a good six years since I talked to her, which is just ridiculous.

my space, your space…

I’ve been using my space as my primary source of social interaction these days. I keep finding more and more people from high school and college that I haven’t seen or talked to in years. In a wierd small-world instance, I was looking at the friends of a girl that was a few years younger than me in HS – seeing if I knew anyone. One of the friends was someone I recognized but didn’t really know, but he happend to be in Sweden, so I looked at his profile, because I wanted to see pictures of Sweden. Then I notice in his comments that he has one from a girl named Patricia. I look closely at her picture, and it’s her and her fiance, my long lost friend Scott that I went to college with. I clicked on her picture, but since I’m not her friend, I couldn’t look at her profile. Then emailed Scott exclaiming what a small world it is, and he says, “hey, speaking of small world, I’m in LA this weekend.” This is big news since he lives in NY, so I’m like, “where? I’ll come meet you?” So long story not-so-short, I drove to LA last night and got to hang out and catch up with my old friend Scotty Potty for a few hours. I hadn’t seen him in over 5 years. It was awesome. Man, I miss that guy.

As I was driving away at 3:30 am, I got really sad because I have very few really good friends like that that I really want to keep in touch with. People are so busy with their lives…and it really takes a lot of effort to maintain a good friendship. Even though I think a lot of stuff on my space is pretty corny, I’m so glad it’s there.

It’s a girl!

Beginning on the evening of the 2nd, and ending on the afternoon of the 3rd, I was with my friend Melanie as she laboured and then delivered her daughter, Dana Lynn. It was definetly the coolest, grossest, most miraculous event I’ve ever witnessed. It took what seemed to me like forever. And I wasn’t even the one having the baby. (She was with me at the birth of my son, which took a little longer. She must have been soo bored because I slept a lot.) So anyway, here’s a time line of what happened.

Dec. 2

  • 6pm – Melanie calls and says she’s headed to the hospital. I call David and ask him to get home, and he arrives around 8:20pm.
  • I arrive in the triage area of the labor and delivery unit at about 9pm, to find Mike, Jackie and Melanie all huddled into this very small curtained area, filled mostly with a hospital bed. We all scoot around eachother until we fit, where we wait for the nurse, Charmin, to tell us if Melanie is going to be admitted or not.
  • Charmin checks Melanie’s cervix and says that she’s still only 4 cm dialated, and that we should walk around to try to get things moving. So we walk.
  • After walking for a while, Charmin checks her again, and says she’s still only 4 cm, but things have changed enough that she’s going to call the doctor and recommend that Melanie be admitted.
  • They put us in a huge room around 11 pm. Mike immediately goes to sleep. Jackie has a serious allergy attack (which I think is caused by the lingering catness on my clothes) and she goes home to shower and take medicine. Melanie and I chill.

Dec. 3

  • A big fat nothing happens for the rest of the night. Melanie is uncomfortable and can’t sleep. Around 2:30 am she gets her epidural. During this, she almosts faints and some crazy nurse comes in yelling at everyone and bossing everyone around. We hated her. She’s an idiot.
  • So, still nothing much is happening. Our awesome nurse, Charmin, leaves at 7 am, and we get a new nurse, Layna. She’s nice too, but she’s no Charmin.
  • A male Doctor (which Melanie specifically didn’t want) comes in around 7:30 am and checks Melanie. He’s concerned because she’s been at 4-5 cm for about 8 hrs and he starts talking about a c-section. This gets Melanie totally freaked out.
  • I tell her all about the pros of c-section for the next two hours (the time the doctor is giving her cervix to make some progress or else… *insert forboding music*
  • So by the time they come back in to see what’s up, she’s ready to have the surgery. Also, she’s totally exhausted and is ready for any solution that involves her not being pregnant anymore – putting the baby’s health first, of course. And wouldn’t you know, she’s now 7 cm dialated.
  • During the next hour, things move right along, and Layna has her start to push. I felt so bad for her because she was so tired, and had finally accepted c-section as a reality, and now she’s got to muster up enough energy to push this baby out. Sometime during all this, she gets an extra bollus of epidural because her’s had been wearing off.
  • The doctor comes in and gets into his catcher’s position, and Melanies pushes little Dana out at 11:03 am.

For the most part, I didn’t think it was gross, although it was gory. The one part I didn’t like was when the baby’s head was out, but not her body. She was really purple, and her eyes were squinshed shut, and the cord was around her neck. She looked awful. Once Melanie pushed her the rest of the way out, and the doctor unwrapped the cord, she started to cry, and I was finally relieved. I really thought something was wrong for a minute. Scary.

So, here are the stats: 18 hrs of labor resulting in a 7 lb, 19 in baby girl :)

trapped…

So for the second day in a row, my husband’s car (the awesome Electric Lime Saturn that I purchased and he is now forced to drive) has been broken. So he’s been taking the Passat, leaving William and I stranded and the new casa. He’s all, “I’ll try to come home early so we can get it fixed.” Last night he got home around 7:30 pm.

The think that stinks about this situation is that we love to drive. Well, William loves to ride in the car, and I use it for at least 30 min to 1 hour of distraction per day. This is how I rationalize my daily venti soy chai with no foam, no water and an add shot (“that will be $4 million dollars please.”) So for the past two days, I’ve been forced to use the coffee pot that takes up quite a large footprint on my valuable kitchen counter space. Home coffee never tastes the same. It’s a little like home burgers that Eddie Murphy spoke of so eloquently on Raw. Even though I’m adding Vanilla Chai Spice creamer to it. And Splenda. It’s just not the same. Although it is remarkably cheaper.

And – to top it off, we were forced to enter the glorious So Cal sunshine today and go for a walk. Not having a car really takes away all my excuses. Well, not all of them. I could be unpacking right now.

Uh oh, I hear William making car noises…time to sing the “who’s awake” song.