Friday, March 30, 2012

Lollipop Dream Tea Party

It can be a challenge to find a great place to host a birthday party for a little girl. Lollipop Dream hosted a blogging invent where they invited bloggers to bring their daughters and check out their venue. To learn more, click here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stretched Too Thin

I'm linking up with Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week, we have to write about something starting with "S." S is for stretched too thin.

I think I've written about this topic a million times recently. But it's an issue that's been on my mind more than anything else lately. How does a working mom balance the responsibilities of raising a family while working? I've been feeling stretched too thin lately!

I'll be the first to admit that I had it really easy. After my daughter was born, I decided to quit my job and devote my life to raising my daughter. My hubby was making good money, and we had pretty low overhead, so it made sense for us.

Only, I was pretty bored. I'm not the world's best housekeeper. In fact, I'm probably up there among the worst. I'm not the least bit interested in decorating. Cooking and baking can be fun, but it's not something I can spend the whole day doing. Once my daughter was old enough to be in school, I found myself getting more and more bored.

I looked for part-time work, but it was nearly impossible in this economy. I was really over-qualified for everything I applied for, so I never received interviews. My luck changed about a year ago. A friend who was a high-level executive at an internet start-up hired me. It was great to reenter the workforce and make some money again. Then a really big internet company acquired the firm. They considered working as little as 30 hours a week to be full-time, so I increased my hours to get benefits. Now, I'm working 30 hours a week on top of a 2-hour round trip commute. I'm still the parent with primary responsibility for cooking, laundry, and care-giving. My weekday starts at 5:30 am and often goes nonstop until 9:30 pm.

While I love being back in the workforce, I sometimes feel that I'm not balancing all my responsibilities very well. I'm often impatient with my daughter and husband. I feel like I'm not always on top of my game at work. It's a huge challenge to please everybody. And "me" time? Just about nonexistent.

I know I still have it pretty good. I have no idea how single moms who have more than one kid do it.

Yikes.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Guess Where I'm at Today?

Well, knock me over with a feather! I'm being featured at The Thinking Person's Guide to Autism! I talk about how I incorporate sarcasm as a therapy. Because, well, I need some excuse on why I use it. All. The. Time.

Anyway, come visit me over there!

Friday, March 23, 2012

My First Product Giveawy!

I was so excited when sneakpeeq approached me to do a product giveaway! Their site is like a combination shopping site and game show! It's really fun, and they have some really great deals!

Click here to find out how you can win a $15 gift card. Even better, all participants will get a 20 percent discount just for entering!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Rage Against the...Well, Anything!

It's time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. We're already at the letter, "R." R is for rage.

One of my daughter's biggest challenges is learning to control her emotions. She can get really upset over what appears to be minor things to anyone else. But to her? We're talking BIG DEAL! She has a variety of coping techniques she can use, but when she's having an "off" day, she has a hard time keeping her cool and can cry. Occasionally, some door-slamming might be involved as well. It really upsets me when this happens. But then I remember back to how I was when I was her age.

I distinctly remember slamming my share of doors too. In fact, I think I slammed a lot more doors than my daughter does. I also remember being quite sensitive and crying quite easily too. But I don't remember crying over the minutia that my daughter can cry over.

Nevertheless, we're trying to figure out how to work with our daughter to get her to express her anger or frustration in a different way. Today, for example, she told me about something that happened that caused her to be really upset. She handled the situation really well though. I complimented her on not crying and being flexible. She told me that she was really sad about the situation though. I stressed that feeling sad is perfectly fine. The important thing is how you handle it.

I'm hoping that my daughter learns the different techniques to deal with life's frustrations. We all know that life loves to hand us frustrating situations at every turn. Rage doesn't really help solve problems. As my daughter will add, "Rage only helps create new problems!"

Personally, I find a sense of humor comes in really handy!

What do you do to keep the rage away?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now I REALLY Have to Go Car Shopping

I recently posted about how my vintage Lexus was starting to have serious problems and that we were starting to shop for a new car.

The mechanic had told me that my car needed a variety of work done--in particular the transmission was going. He told my husband that I could still drive the car around, and it might last as long as a year or two. My husband assured me that we didn't have to buy a car right away.

Nevertheless, we both felt that we shouldn't delay the inevitable. We looked at cars a couple of weeks ago. We were ready to purchase one this past weekend and would have, except my husband had a business trip in Seattle over the weekend, so we decided to delay the purchase for next weekend.

As I was driving my daughter to school today, I noticed the transmission seemed to be sticking a bit. I had told my husband over a week ago that the car didn't seem to be shifting gears as smoothly. He said that it was all in my head because I was excited about getting a new car. I admitted that I initially did think it was in my head, but the problem seemed to be getting worse.

Today, I muttered to myself that the problem definitely wasn't in my head. It was undeniable. The car was having problems with shifting on its own. As I drove my daughter, the car seemed to be getting worse and worse. I dropped her off at school, then started my hour-long trek to work. About three blocks away from her school, I noticed that not only was the car having a hard time picking up speed, it was having problems moving at all.

I moved my car to the side of the road to allow the cars behind me to pass. It was at this moment that I realized my car was in no shape to make the long commute to work. I was going to have to drive it home and rent a car. It was a moment later that I realized that I wasn't going to drive my car anywhere. Once at the curb, it refused to move forward (or backward) at all. Not a good situation, but at least I was parked by the curb and not in the middle of the street.

So because of my husband's business trip, we now will be eating most of what we could have gotten for my car as a trade-in in addition to the cost of renting a car until we buy one. Of course, the check engine light has been warning me about the transmission problem for a month now, but we really thought we had more time.

When the tow truck guy came to tow my car, he was just about drooling all over the car. "This car is a beauty!" (imagine Mater from Cars saying this). "This car is like a Mercedes!" "Um, yes" I replied. "Only it's a Lexus, but I guess they're both luxury cars." I mentioned how this was a top-of-the-line Lexus in its day. I mentioned all the wonderful features. I asked him if he was interested in buying it. I figured if he had a mechanical background, he could fix the transmission and have a great car.

He said he wanted to buy a new car since his car had well over 100,000 miles on it, but wasn't interested in buying one that had 215,000 miles on it. Oh darn! Can't blame a girl for trying.

So, if any of you are interested in buying a vintage Lexus LS 400 with Coach leather seats that uses an alternate fuel source, just let me know. What's the alternate fuel source you're asking? Well, it's very forward-thinking. You put the car in neutral, and use your feet to power it. I call it the Flintstone-mobile. With Coach leather seats! What could be better?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Q Is for....Hmmmm. What Word Starts with Q?

Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday is all about the letter "Q" this week! My Q word is quirky! What else could Q possibly stand for?

In case you're not a regular reader of my blog, I consider myself to be a bit quirky. But the real inspiration behind the quirky factor is my daughter. She definitely puts the Q in quirky. She turned 8 recently and attends a gifted magnet program. She's smart and funny and marches to her own drummer. I love that about her!

This is my third time running through the alphabet with Ms. Jenny, and I think I picked quirky as my Q word each time!

A great example of my daughter's quirkiness happened last week. I was telling her a story about a dad I met whose wife worked for the Disney Corporation. She always brought home free toys, and they had more toys than they knew what to do with. He complained that they just had to stack them up in their garage and were constantly tripping over them.

After hearing about this my daughter commented, "That's a luxury problem!"

Have I mentioned that I love my girl?

I thought so!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Going to Buy a New Car. Oh Joy!

My husband and I are not car-people per se. We like good, reliable cars that won't leave us stranded somewhere. We both hold on to cars as long as we possibly can. Last year, my husband couldn't hold out anymore. His 17-year old car was getting to be in terrible shape. His windows wouldn't stay in an up position, for example. He literally would wedge things in like long pieces of wood to brace the window in an up position. He finally bit the bullet and bought a new car. Well, not exactly new. He bought a pre-owned certified, but it's in stellar shape and compared to what he had before, it's an extremely nice car.

We were hoping my car would last another couple of years. But my 2-2.5 hour round-trip commute to and from work is taking a toll on my car. At 15-years of age and over 215,000 miles, it looks like it's time for me to get a new car too. The repairs that are needed are just too expensive at this point.

Because of my long commute, we're looking at getting a hybrid. We went for a test drive over the weekend. My daughter had amazing patience, but she still said a few things under her breath that were pretty funny. While sitting in the parking lot, the salesman showed me some features of the hybrid and how it's different from a conventional car. I heard my daughter mutter in the backseat, "Is this a test drive or a test stop?"

Then we went into an office to speak to another salesman--the one who's supposed to bring the sale to fruition. He happened to have a pretty thick accent. My daughter looked at me and muttered, "He could use some speech therapy." Thankfully, the salesman didn't hear her comment.

I'd like to say that I drove home in my new hybrid, but we played it pretty cool. I really wanted to research what price we should actually pay and didn't want to negotiate blindly. The salesman did make it sound like we'd get a great deal if we bought the car then and there. That tactic makes me laugh. I suppose if we went in a week later to buy it, he'd say, "Sorry, you have to pay the sticker price. I would have given you a great deal last week if you hadn't left!"

The interesting thing was that the pre-owned certified cars weren't much cheaper than the brand-spanking new cars. I knew this particular hybrid maintained it's value, but still! It looks like I'm going to get a brand-new car!

Meanwhile, I'm driving around in my vintage Lexus. It may be old, but it was the top-of-the-line car in it's day. It served me very well, and I'm sure I'll miss it.

But I won't miss the gas and repair prices. Zoinks!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Life Well Lived--Looking Your Best



BlogHer posed the following question: What will you be wearing this year? What are your spring trends?

Is it getting to be Spring already? I have to admit that I haven't given it much thought. I used to put almost as little thought into what I wore when I was a stay-at-home mom. I had the luxury of just putting on whatever was comfortable. For Spring and Summer, I'd generally shift to wearing t-shirts and skirts instead of my winter uniform of jeans and sweaters.

Now that I'm a working mom, I like to put a little more effort into the clothes I wear. My workplace is pretty casual, however. Jeans and t-shirts are perfectly acceptable. I do sometimes wear these comfy clothes, but I generally like to dress up a bit for work. I either wear casual slacks with a sweater or a dress with a cardigan sweater over it.

Now for my confession: I don't have time to hit the mall for clothes. I generally have no time to shop. Most of my wardrobe comes from Target because of the convenience factor. As I'm picking up laundry detergent there, I can pick up some sweaters or a dress.

I loved the clothes from the Albert Hu collection that was at Target, but the few items they had left were not in my size. Sigh.

Nevertheless, I'm sure I'll be buying a spring skirt or dress from Target.

Because that's the way I roll!

Click on over to BlogHer to see what the the top 10 fashion trends this Spring will be! Feel free to comment there as well.

Also, don't forget to visit the Life Well Lived Moments Sweepstakes and comment for your chance to win a Kindle Fire. I'm definitely going to try and win one!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Books and Smiles

Remember back during college days when buying college text books for class was a huge expense? It seemed that with each passing quarter, prices went higher and higher for the books. I remember selling the books back at the end of the quarter and receiving just a pittance of what I paid. It was just a necessary evil of going to college.

Times are different now and students have more options than just the college bookstore. Campusbookrentals.com contacted me to pass along their book rental program where you can save up to 90 percent on college textbooks! Awesome! I will definitely take advantage of this service when my daughter is in college.

But the main issue they wanted me to share with you is their charity work. They pick a charity each year to donate part of their proceeds to. Actually, this year they're still working on their very ambitious 2011 cause: Operation Smile. Operation Smile raises money to provide surgeries to correct cleft palate, cleft lip, and other facial deformities for children who could otherwise not afford to obtain these life-changing surgeries.

This is an excerpt from Operation Smile's website:

Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft — often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile. In some places these children are shunned and rejected. And in too many cases, their parents can't afford to give them the surgeries they need to live a normal life.

That's where we come in as an international charity providing much needed surgical services. Since 1982, Operation Smile — through the help of dedicated medical volunteers — has provided more than 2 million patient evaluations and over 200,000 free surgeries for children and young adults born with cleft lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities.



Campusbookrentals.com is going to provide funds from the proceeds of their book rentals to cover at least 1,000 of these life-changing surgeries. How awesome is that?

As a consumer, I love the warm, fuzzy feeling I get when I'm getting a great deal. I also love the warm, fuzzy feeling I get when I help a great cause.

It's not often when both happens at the same time!

So for those of you who have kids in college, check out the rental prices, and see if you can't save money. Shipping is free for both obtaining and returning the books!




I'm being compensated for this post with a token present. The words are my own (except for the excerpt quoted from Operation Smile's website). This is a win-win situation that I'm thrilled to share on my blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Pioneers Had to Potty Out in the Prairie, Right?

I'm linking up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week, the letter is "P." P is for pioneers. And potty! And prairie! I suppose it could also be for pee. Four Ps for the price of 1!

We've been reading through the Little House on the Prairie series with my daughter before bedtime each night. We're currently on The Long Winter, which has been describing how the Ingalls family has had to endure one horrible blizzard after another. The book describes how frigid cold it gets during these blizzards. So cold, that Laura and her sisters have to cuddle with each other in bed with nothing but heated flat irons tucked by their feet to give them any kind of warmth. They try to fall asleep staring at the frost collecting around the nail heads in the ceiling. It sounds awful!

The one thing the books don't describe in any kind of detail is how the family...um...takes care of business, so to speak. This is surprising since there is a whole chapter dedicated to how Ma makes butter in the first book of the series, Little House in the Big Woods. The books go into such detail describing the houses Pa builds. It also describes the wells and barns he builds. Yet no mention is given to whether Pa builds an outhouse. Even if Pa did build them (and Laura Ingalls Wilder politely left out this information), it would still be interesting to know how the family used these facilities during the horrible blizzards. It doesn't seem like it would be possible to drop trou during one of these horrible storms in a little building that had to be poorly insulated. It would also be very dangerous to walk to and from one during these storms which sounded like there was zero visibility.

But what other choices would this leave them?

I just had to blog about this! I keep wanting to raise this question to my family when we're reading the books but I know both my husband and daughter would be horrified by this line of inquiry.

So, I had to get it out here!

I feel so much better!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Did I Make the Right Choice?

As many of my regular readers know, I've been trying to work a full-time schedule while still being home to help my daughter with her homework. It's been a really tough balancing act.

Because I had been a SAHM for 7 years, and a working mom for the past year, it seems that every mother I meet, whether they're SAHMs or working moms have asked me what it's like to have experienced the side of motherhood that they have not.

The common dilemma that any mother has is: "Did I make the right choice?" SAHMs wonder how well they could have balanced a career with having children. Mothers who work wonder what they sacrificed by not being with their kids--especially during the early years.

Every mother feels that they missed out on something really important in their lives. While they all come to the conclusion that you can't have it all, they grapple with the decisions they made. The reality is that you have to pick one path or the other. Each path has benefits and drawbacks.

Men do not have this quandary. It is only something that plagues us women.

I find that terribly unfair, don't you?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I've Never Gone this Long Without a Post!

I can't believe a week has almost passed since my last post! It's been a rough time here (not terrible, just rough). My daughter and husband were hit by a horrible flu that really did a number on hubby. Then this past Tuesday, I felt my throat begin to get very sore. I felt like Kate Winslet in the hotel scene in the movie Contagion. If you haven't seen the movie, let's just say that it's not a happy feeling!

Luckily, the flu bug did not hit me. I must have been immune to the strain going around. But I did get hit with a pretty awful cold.

I also just don't have much to write about. Life here has been pretty quiet and boring. I have nothing funny or quirky to regale you with.

So, that's the haps with me. I'm sick, boring, and lack much free time.

Really, these aren't great qualities for a blogger. I have to get me a life, stat!

What's happening with you? Please share your interesting stories. My blog desperately needs it.