Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Can't Even Tell You

The truth is this: I have no idea how much I've spent on Christmas presents. None.

Or, worse, the problem isn't how much I've spent on Christmas gifts -- the problem is how much I've spent on NON-Christmas gifts at Christmas sales. Really.

It's the same every single year, so I don't know why this surprises me. Those sneaky, tricky sales lure me! THEY LURE ME! And I can't say "no." $5 pajama pants at Old Navy? Heck yes! $13 headphones from Amazon.com that are 78 percent off -- duh?! A copy of "Planet Earth" (that, to my credit, I plan to resell for about what I paid after I watch it) ... of course.

Fortunately when my head comes back to planet earth (and brings my wallet with it) I can return some of this stuff to Old Navy. And as for the things from Bath and Body Works -- I have actually been putting off buying them so why not now? And we NEEDED that little Flip video camera!

(someone make me stop!)

Meanwhile, I do have ACTUAL Christmas shopping to finish. Was able to score a $20 credit to Shutterfly and when that kicks in I'll be ordering some of the christmas gifts for family. A stop at Hobby Lobby should square me away for the other half of that. (and no worries about spending too much there ... there's so much that it just overwhelms me and I leave).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Heart Photo Projects

Shutterfly.com is my favorite online photo store for one simple reason -- they have such great deals! I've ordered more free or nearly free custom cards, books and (recently) gift tags from that site it's a little crazy.

Seriously, check them out.

Meanwhile, here is the uber-cute card I created of Dave for thank you notes this year.

Black Line 5x7 folded card
Unique party invitations and greeting cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

That Cliche "I'm Thankful" Post

I know you've been waiting for it -- the "things I'm thankful for" post that I do every. single. year.

Well, stop worrying. I was just out of town for a few days enjoying delicious food in South Carolina. And now I'm back! Just for you.


I am most grateful for Luke. ... a year apart will teach you that. And it's not because being a single mom is so dang hard. It isn't easy, but I can do it. Heck, I've done it. And taking care of a baby alone is nothing compared to the energy required to do it with a toddler.

I am thankful for him because no matter how hard things are or how much much I wish they'd just go back to being like they were Before, he is still my best friend ... and I love him.

I am also thankful for:

New friends.
My job(s).
The joy of eating.
Old friends.
My bed.
My espresso machine (for reals).
The internet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Proof That Dave can Share

This is a picture of play day, part II, where Dave shared. That is, instead of throwing a huge fit and shaking in what can only be described as baby-rage every time this little girl touched his toys, he actually played nice.

And this picture pretty much captures the only time that happened.

We here at Bumble Thrift are gearing up for Black Friday, or "An Excuse to Spend A Lot of Money" day.

The problem, however, is that I am not sure the preparation is actually for anything. We are going to South Carolina for Thanksgiving Day (instead of Florida, which was our original plan) and all worthy shopping is a solid 1/2 hour to 45 minutes away ... except Walmart (<--- ugh.) That's because we aren't just going to South Carolina, we're going to Little Tiny Town of South Carolina.

The truth of the matter is that this problem might just save me from myself. What do I need from this shopping day, anyway? Pretty much nothing. We bought Luke a Kindle recently and agreed that it would be his preemptive major Christmas gift, and he is going to buy me an ipod today probably (to replace the one I tragically lost ) so that I can play Christmas music in my house on a speaker BEFORE Christmas. In short, no major purchases are upcoming.

So really, Black Friday is just for the fun of it.

.... maybe sleeping a little extra and NOT spending lots of money will be just as fun. Interesting thought.

But I do like the FEELING of Black Friday. For your reading pleasure I went back through the blogging archives over at my old blog, and dug this up from Nov. 25, 2005.

I have divided and conquered.

You may call me "Maximus."

The following events are all true. Nary a lie or embellishment is hidden within the narrative.

Alarm clock set for 4:30 a.m., she lay in a dreamless sleep, preparing herself for the road ahead. Having determined that the holiday season is not of her liking, our Brave Conqueror concluded Thanksgiving Evening that the best way to deal with the evils of Christmas Shopping was to be rid of it in one fell swoop.

The buzzing of the clock on the table stirred her ... she knew it was time. Springing from her bed, rushing through her morning rituals, she soon found herself at the door of the Great and Mighty Walmart. A parking lot full of pushy people, all as eager to conqueror as she, lay before her.

Did our Warrior hesitate? Not a bit! Armed with shopping cart and mp3 player [let's face it, every good story has a soundtrack] she made her way into the throng of people who pushed and prodded to get to the 1/2 off DVD players and TV sets.

Did this stop her? No! In less than 45 minutes, this wonder of a woman had acquired all the items on her list, made her way through the check out lines, and stood on the other side.

There she was, victorious, receipt in hand ... the glory was too much, the feelings too powerful. She threw up her hands to sky and, in salutation of victory, shouted ...

"DAH-DAH! I have won! I rule!"

(At which time a very presumptuous, tired looking Gentleman took to laughing, presumably at Our Great Warrior. The gall).

The end.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Play Date Day

Moving is tough business for so many reasons. You leave behind things and, more importantly, relationships in which you took comfort and now you are faced with somehow finding replacements.

I hate replacement shopping.

Because that is exactly what it feels like, shopping. You have to "shop" for a church (we've been spared from that this time as we've decided to just attend on the post chapel). You have to "shop" for friends (admit it, it's true ... and a lot like dating. I hate dating). You have to "shop" for friends for your kids.

It sucks.

Fortunately there's been a bit of a light in the tunnel for me this past week. At our Wednesday night Bible study last week I met someone else named Amy (what IS it with me and people that share my name?) who possesses a variety of traits that are really important to me. ... like a love of Diet Coke and the abundant use of sarcasm. Bonus: she is also in need of friends. That's helpful.

Today is particularly exciting because she is bringing her little girl over for a play date. I do believe this is our first official play date ever. A big moment in our household!

Meanwhile, over in frugal land, we have the additional challenge of figuring out what to make for dinner. The husband promised deer meat (even though I think it sounds nasty) but then that didn't work out ... so the menu is now blank with the exception of the squash that was going to be served as a side and the pie I'm making him later. Maybe side squash and pie ARE enough ... hmmmm. ...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dear Cable Company: I Hate You

Here in military housing land we have one option and one option alone for cable/internet/tv service: Windjammer Cable.

And it sucks. The internet connection frequently drops or is really slow and the digital tv feed is garbled about half the time. I have no complaints about the phone service (yet), other than when the internet collapses, so does the phone.

Like right now.

I run a business out of my home, a business in which I talk on the phone, receive phone calls and use the internet. I don't have extra time on my hands to mess with a service for which I pay.

What's particularly annoying about this is that we don't have a choice. This is the only service provider available on post. Take it or leave it is the message.

We'll see how long this particular outage lasts. I'll be asking for a credit to our account regardless. HOW am I supposed to be productive with this going on (or, um, I was right in the middle of stalking someone on Facebook when it died! Uncool)?!

Here's to getting something done regardless. Meh.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Groceries and Moving = No Good

I spend a lot of time and money finding good deals on foods that I use a lot so that I can have a big ol' pile of them in my cupboard and never have to pay full price. I'd say about $10 of my grocery budget goes to this each week under normal circumstances. That way I'm constantly restocking what I have even as I use it.

Example: one week I buy four jars of our favorite spaghetti sauce but make dishes that use two cans of cream of chicken soup, spaghetti and a pie crust, all of which I purchased in weeks past. I'm adding to our stockpile even as I'm using from it. What I add depends on coupons and sales. What I use depends on my whims (who are we kidding?).

The great trouble with moving is that you stop stocking the shelves and start using everything you own. Your grocery budget enjoys this greatly since it's really getting only half used up. Your creativity doesn't love this because you have to figure out what to do with four jars of spaghetti sauce in one week. And no one is happy when you finally get to where you are going and have to start stock piling again from scratch while actively buying what you are going to use since you have pretty much nothing except a lot of flour in the pantry.

And thus my shopping bills have not been pretty (unless you think giant, giant numbers are pretty).

A few weeks ago I tried buying ingredients for two weeks worth of meals. I spent $120 after coupons on food alone -- just about what I had wanted. It would've been no problem at all had I not gone back the next week and (even though I had supposedly already bought most of what I needed) spent another $60. Yikes. I meant to only spend $20. (Yikes again).

I think things are on the mend, however. Had a huge stack of coupons -- about $14 worth -- yesterday and after using them managed to spend $80, right on the budget for my two weeks of ingredients this time around (since next week is so short). I managed to buy a lot of things I'll use later that were also on sale + coupon. And I'll do a trip Monday for a small amount of things, most importantly car snacks for Dave (um... and me). And that should be that.

I'll declare this a tentative frugal win.

In other news, black Friday? Yeah I'm going to missing that this year because I'll be in a podunk town in South Carolina. The nearest decent shopping (that is not Walmart ... if you do count Walmart) appears to be 45 minutes away. We'll see if I can trick anyone into doing that with me. Really, I just want to go to Old Navy. I love black Friday at Old Navy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Craftiness Abounds

I have pictures coming, um, later of my extreme craftiness over the last few days. Before pictures only work, however, if you take .. therefore of the guest room they are all "after" pictures. Oh well.

For now let's just say it turned out wonderfully, very cheery and not at all scullery maid quarters like. (Since that's what we were working with before). And bonus -- the guest liked it too (or so she claimed).

The little Extremely Ugly table for the bathroom is in process, but it's going to take some serious sort of something to get that tile glue off of there. Seriously folks, do the world a favor and dont glue bathroom tile to the top of a table in a very ugly manner. And don't then spray paint it brown.

Meanwhile I am attempting to order Christmas cards, and bemoaning the fact that it does not appear that I will be able to get them all on the free like I did last year. Major bummer.

Busy day ahead here with grocery shopping, working (a little), house keeping, laundry, a doctor's appointment for Dave (including shots -- boo), making this delicious sounding food for dinner (using squash that I purchased, roasted and froze two weeks ago -- go me!) and attempting at some point to go to the gym. ... that part may not happen.

Maybe a commissary spending report later? It's embarrassing at this point so I'd rather not talk about it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Oh Target, How you Lure Me

It's one of the most inconvenient yet convenient things about having a child -- nap time.

It gives you a (well deserved) break, yet it keeps you from doing anything productive out of the house for as long as the kiddo chooses to sleep.

This is only really a problem on days that I have an epic errands list. ... and not a particularly well organized one at that. I'm attempting to make our guest room look half way decent before our first guest uses it Saturday. Right now it looks EXACTLY like what I always pictured that the post-Dad's death, pre-"miracle" room from "The Little Princess" looked like. In other words, um, sparse.

But decorating is not my strong point. That's why we painted and painted (... and painted) this house. It kept me from having to make any real brain effort at decorating. Since I have no intention of painting that whole attic room that will not get a lot of use, decorating is a must.

Thus the errands. Compounded by the fact that I'm still not particularly familiar with this town, I knew it was going to take me awhile. Not having a real solid list, of course, ensured that it would also, um, cost a lot. Like, I'm embarrassed to tell you what I dropped at Target yesterday.

We ended up standing in Hobby Lobby for no less than 20 minutes while Dave fussed and the lady at the fabric table cut s-l-o-w-l-y and the lady for whom she was cutting was buying an EPIC amount of (ugly, ahem) fabric. All of this only to realize just before she finished that the fabric I had in hand for curtains would not be nearly enough for what I wanted. There went that idea and a waste of about 40 minutes total (between the standing and the choosing). Dave was not impressed.

Then off to Target, followed by grabbing dinner at Chick-Fil-A (a.mazing. mmm one of my fav things about living here, I think), followed by Lowes.

Dave was still less than impressed by this entire ordeal. And all of this took no less than 3.5 hours ... and seemed much, MUCH longer.

The result is, however, something that I think will turn out well. I promise pictures when it's finished ... which HAS to be by tomorrow. So: pictures soon!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Letter to my Veteran


I don't think it's a stretch to say that last year was the hardest of my life. Your absence, all the memorials, all the tears, all the heartache, taking care of our son, supporting and being supported by my friends and fellow Army spouses, listening to the exhaustion in your voice after each blackout was lifted and all the emotions that filled each one of those moments -- my heart breaks again and again thinking about it.

I think it's safe to say that this year has been the second hardest. Does reintegration EVER end!? At what point in time will we go back to being like we were before? I want the innocence back. I want returned the knowledge that each and every one of my friends is safe at home with her husband.

But I already know the answer to that question, and it's "never." That's what they mean by the "new normal," right? That you can't go back so you have to get used to what you have now.

This isn't easy for you, either. I see the pain and exhaustion caused by the memories -- it's the same that I feel. And yet you still get up every day and continue the work of protecting our country.

"Our country" -- what does that even mean? Such a nebulous word. I know that when you say that you picture me, Dave, your family and sometimes even those jerks that protest at veteran's funerals ... or at least their right to do so.

You volunteer to go first down the road that is dangerous and far away from your family so that others can stay home with theirs. You protect our freedoms with your willingness to sacrifice. You join others who do the same -- who have been to hell and back or who have given their lives for such a purpose.

I am unspeakably proud of you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This is Me, Blogging

Once again it's been awhile since I've had a chance to write here. Like always, it's a matter of priorities, right? And I have been a very busy little bee. Just an example:

-- Flew to D.C. for a meeting and spent almost a week working that, running the Army 10-Miler and covering the AUSA family forums. It was fun. And then I was really tired.
-- Started blogging for SpouseBUZZ.com
-- Working working working ... working
-- Keeping my house up. It's that much bigger and it takes THAT much more time to clean. I am loving having a tidy, neat and clutter free place though ... so it's worth it I think.
-- Working on our guest room (slowly but surely)
-- Finished (almost) a little sewing project for a friend
-- Exercising (always!!)
-- Playing with Dave
-- Family adventure time ... a once a week activity that involves us going somewhere we've never been or doing something else fun as a family. We've done downtown Columbus, visited a historic village/tourist trap and played several games of tennis thus far.

I swear there's more than this, too.

I have started dedicating an hour or so each morning to Amy-time. This is dependent on me finishing my evening work in, well, the evening. But if that happens I get to sit and cruise blogs, do some online shopping/christmas shopping/gift shopping, collect coupons and do other things that I enjoy but often fall low on the to-do totem pole.

My point: I'm going to add blogging to that time slot. And you should be seeing me here more often.

So, uh, don't give up on me yet.