Monday, August 30, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What was/is your favorite live action (meaning not animated) kids movie?
Well, I always liked the Parent Trap, yes, the one with Lindsey Lohan.
I also like all the talking animal movies, Milo and Otis, Dr. Doolittle and Homeward bound.

2. What is a bad habit you have? Are you working on breaking it?
Facebooking would be at the top of that list. I have considered going a day of the week without it. That hasn't happened yet. Also, keeping my car trashed is a bad habit of mine. I try to corral the trash but when you spend as much time in there as I do, it tough. AND I have messy messy kids to transport.

3. Describe your father in 3 words.
Christian, Humble, Trustworthy

4. Which character in the Breakfast Club were you most like in the ’80s?
Don’t kill me… I’ve never seen The Breakfast Club. I KNOW I KNOW. I need to.

5. Name 5 songs you know ALL the lyrics to.
Ghostbusters, The Adams Family, Thriller, Nightmare on my Street, Werewolves of London, and Purple People Eater.
Do you see a theme there? Yes, my child is obsessed with Halloween. Year round. I also know a vast array of childrens rhymes and bible songs. I've known them my whole life and I'm still singing along.

6. Do you make pancakes from scratch or a box mix?
My first preference would be to get in the car and drive straight to Cracker Barrel for them. They make them the BEST, I don't know how they do it. But I may be attempting it this weekend with these yummy organic blueberries I picked today. When I do, it will be straight from the box.

7. What was your worst job ever? Why?
When I first moved to NC, the only job I could find in my field was working 2nd shift. I HATED second shift. I liked my job and what I did but I hated those hours. It was hard to eat decent meals, workout or get anything done. I hated getting home that late. Jason was deployed most of that time and I hated being at home alone. I knew that had to change when he returned so I found a 1st shift job by the time that deployment was over.

8. What was your favorite class in high school?
I liked biology, I liked chemistry, I just DIDN'T like physics. I'm a science kind of girl but that physics and I didn't agree. I like all the "exceptions" that most people hate about chemistry.

9. Favorite summer guilty pleasure?
Is this WITH kids or without? Because there is a vast difference. With the kids, it's all the quintessential things you do at the beach, ice cream, goofy golf, expensive souvenirs and late night pizza.
Without the kids, it's staying up late drinking something girly, fruity and frozen and dancing on a bar deck over the ocean with my husband.

10. Please share your best money saving tip!
Well, as of late, I've been doing some major coupon shopping at the drugstore chains to "stockpile" items that we always use. The main thing with coupon shopping is NOT buying things you don't need/won't use just becaue you have a coupon for it. It also helps to know your rock bottom price on items and to know the sale cycles so that you don't have to buy it unless it's on sale.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jacksonisms: wise words of a four year old

Jackson always says the wisest things. He has always been articulate and he prefers to talk to adults, and like an adult. He uses hand gestures and adjectives that I don't see many kids his age using. I try to remember the significant things he says to put them down here forever in my blog. I never want to forget four year old Jackson!

-At church on Sunday we were walking over the gravel parking lot and he said, "Dad, you know what these rocks are?" Jason listened. "These rocks are dinosaur throw-up." (earlier that weekend, he'd had a virus and had been sick a few times. He was still thinking about it)

-That same Sunday morning, I found a dime in the parking lot and told him to pick it up. He grabbed it and says "Yeah!, I'm going to put it in the offer!" How sweet. And to think, some people have a hard time letting go of just 10% and that dime was ALL he had and he gave it ALL! Don't we all wish we could be as innocent as a 4 year old.

-In a late night attempt to stay up later, he came out of his room (for the5th time) and asked me, "Where are the robbers in our world? Why do they steal stuff from us?" Hmmm, maybe too much TV with daddy??

-We went to the NC Zoo on Monday with Jason. We'd been several times but we'd never been able to take him. We did and it was a great day! We saw tons of cool animals, Lemurs, Elephants and Monkeys. When asked what his favorite part of the zoo was, he said his was the Gila Monster (a lizard) in the Desert Building with the cactus. What's his deal with cactus and the desert?

-On the way home, I asked him what he'd like to be when he grows up. He said his usual: A Doctor, a football player and a space man.
I then asked him if he knew what a "space man" did. He says, "Yeah, they live up in space, go to the moon AND they fight the aliens!" Laughing, Jason asked him who wins? And of course, he says "The space man!" Haha! Only the child of a combat veteran knows all too much about fighting in war.

-The same day I had started a roast in the crock pot before the zoo. When we arrived home, Jason said it "wonder what smells so good in here?" Jackson replied, "I think Roxy has been cooking something while we were gone." {note: Roxy is our DOG!}

Jamie:Wife, Mother, Coupon Extraordinaire

What you see above is the results of countless hours of reading blogs/searching deals and about $1.18 which is basically tax on the above items. I guess you could say this is my latest hobby. Besides, raising these boys and being the ultimate (HA!) homemaker, I have been learning the art of coupon shopping. While at first I didn't think it would fit my personality, I soon realized I was born to do this. It's SHOPPING for things and although it's not diamond rings or designer jeans, it's things we'll actually use or I can easily donate (which I do!). It does require TIME and a bit of organization but I kind of look at it as my job. I spend most of the money so why not save some in the process. I had to learn a lot of lingo (ONYO, WYB, CAT, Q) all coupon terms and I also had to learn what I should be paying for things. That way you know when you're getting a good deal. In fact some things can even be a MM! That's money maker, if you have the right coupons with the right sale, you can make money on a transaction. The don't usually give you money back but that could mean free milk and we drink A LOT of milk in this house. My biggest secret is It's a great website and resource and every week, they match all the deals with all the coupons there are out there so I print what I want to buy, take it to the store with matching coupons and make my purchases. I also use the "store money" which is the "rewards programs" at the drugstore chains. My favorite are CVS , Walgreens and Target, in that order. They all allow "stacking" which is a store coupon on top of a manufacturer coupon which means better deals for me!
So, I get the Sunday paper. I have a few friends save their inserts for me (and mom!). I don't cut out the coupons though. I date the insert and when my shopping lists shows I need a coupon, it also tells me the insert and date to go to and find it. That's when I cut it out.
I've learned that sales come around about every 6 weeks. If I buy enough cereal when it's on sale, I won't need anymore until it goes on sale again. I've also learned that there are some things you should just never have to pay for. It will always go on sale and be free or nearly free with coupons. Some of those things are toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shave gel, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. You think you are brand specific? Well, most of the things I buy are "name brand" because those are the companies who put out coupons on their product. So, if you enjoy the name brand things, you might just be in luck.
Interested? Questions? Ask me. I love to get others addicted. It is somewhat of an addiction but at least it benefits us and others. I can think of worse thing to be addicted to. I have already gotten about 5 boxes of things to donate for our "operation Christmas child" boxes thorough Samaritan's Purse at our church.
Now on to more "Are you kidding me?" or "Is she crazy?" photos.
This was my weekly trip to Walgreen's. I'll break it down for you to see the prices.
What I got:

6 airwick freshmatic imotion starter kits-3.39
2 pack of Pampers diapers- 7.49
2 packs of Pampers wipes-2.12

I used:
6- $4 off airwick Q
2-$1.50 off Pampers
2-FREE wipes wyb Pampers

My total was $9.09 and I received a $3 Q to use on my next purchase at Walgreen's (note: they also take these Q's at the commissary!!)

Ok, I admit this one looks a little crazy. This was my WEEKLY shopping. I did it all in one morning. It was also one of my best trips. If you care to read the details, they are below.


2 Herbal Essence Shampoo
2 Herbal Essence Conditioner

2 Aussie Hairspray
2 Herbal Essence Hairspray
2 glade Sense and Spray air fresheners
3 John Frieda Shampoo/Conditioners
2 Emerald Dark Cocoa Almonds
6 sobe life waters (used raincheck for bogo sale last week)
10 tubes of mini m&m's ( no, we can't eat all of these. I want to be the house on Halloween that gives "the good candy")
1 Purex Laundry Detergent Sheets

I used:

4- $2 off clairol products
4- Free styler wyb aussie/herbal shampoo or conditioner
2-$3 off Glade Sense and Spray
3-$3 off John Frieda
2-$1.50 Emerald nuts
3-bogo sobe life waters
2-.50 off m&m CVS coupon
1-$3 off Purex sheets

My total was 8.45 after I used up (9.50) of my ECB (reward bucks) but I received a $3, $5, and $3 rewards back to use next time.


16 small bags of Purina One dog food (roxy's brand!) -1.99 ea
3 Airwick imotion automatic air fresheners-3.99 ea
2 cans of cream of mushroom soup-1.50 ea

I used:
16 $2 off ANY size Purina One dog food
3 $4 off Airwick air fresheners
1 $3 RR (reward bucks)

My total was 3.36. That is tax only on these items!

Target was my biggest win, probably ever:

30 single load Tide Ultra 2x detergent packs-0.97
Goldfish smores-1.59
Campbells soup-1.50
2 Chef Boyardee mini bowls-1.07
2 Del Monte Fruit bowls-0.97
2 Sobe Life Waters-1.02
Yoplait Sundaes yogurt-2.00
3 small bathroom baskets by Target Home 8.99 ea
2 small bathroom bins by Re 5.99 ea
Torpedo swim toys (for Jackson) 3.48 clearance
2 pair of my fav undies (sorry for the TMI) 4.00 ea
2 Diet Dr. Pepper 2L

I used:

30 $1 off ANY tide
0.75 off Goldfish
$1.00 off Campbells soup-MQ(manufacturer coupon)
$0.50 off Campbells soup-TQ(target coupon)
2 $1 off Chef Boyardee-TQ
2 $1 off Del Monte fruit cups-TQ
2$0.50 Sobe-TQ
1 bogo Sobe -MQ
0.50 yoplait-TQ
0.50 yoplait-MQ
3 $10 off bath furniture Target Home
2 $5 off RE bath item
0.75 off 2 Diet Dr. Pepper-TQ

My Grand total before coupons was 100.41................

After Coupons I paid $10.41!!! My total savings today was 88.42.

That's about 90%!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Twas the first day of Preschool

Twas the first day of preschool
and on the way there,
Jackson coddled his mama
saying "it'll be just like daycare."
I said we would miss him and he said
it won't be very long.
I said "who'll watch Lincoln
and help him along?"
He said "You can watch him
and play with him too."
Then I asked "what'll we do all day
without you?"
He says "You can just do whatever makes you happy."
"Like crafts or something, you can make one for me"
{this is what he does when he's away from ME, ,like church class, etc.!}
What he doesn't know is I'm enjoying this BEAUTIFUL SILENCE, you see!

That was our preschool morning conversation. Jackson had no reservations about school. He was up getting dressed before I got him up. He was out the door with the backpack and ready to go. He's never been a shy one and he can be the sweetest kid to always try to find a "solution" to your questions. He wasn't going to miss me. I knew that. I thought I might miss him but I have to admit, this silence I hear is kind of nice. I know he's getting interaction he needs with other kids and I'm getting important stuff done (like blogging!). So for now, we both win! I can't wait to hear his stories when I pick him up this afternoon. Here are the photos of the guy who couldn't wait to get there!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

1. What is the worst movie you have ever seen?
Well until recently I would have rated Love Actually and Georgia Rule in my worst movie ever picks. I even went to blockbuster and asked for my money back (they had a like it guarantee)on the Georgia Rule movie. I felt I should have been warned a Lindsey Lohan movie was going to be so horrendous. Then Jason comes home with a movie called "World's Greatest Dad." It was a sure hit, I mean, Robin Williams was in it. Well about half way through the degrading and declining movie plot, I saw what was coming and asked him to turn it off. I refused to finish it and I'm still confident in my decision. The set of that movie should have caught fire.

2. Do you have a favorite Disney/Pixar film?
Oh, for sure. I love The Little Mermaid. I have always loved it. There's not a time I've watched it that I don't tear up when she leaves her daddy. BONUS: I've even seen it on Broadway in NYC! It was just as amazing there.

3. Do you have a favorite movie from the 80′s?
Hmmm, I don't know about 80's but I liked the "Honey I shrunk the kids" movies and well, Dirty Dancing but I'm pretty sure it was the 90's before I was allowed to watch it.

4. Are there any movies you saw more than once in the theater?
I don't think so. I would have seen the second Twilight movie again if the opportunity presented it's self.

5. What is one city/area of the US (or country you live if you do not live in the US) that you have not seen but would like to see?
Oh, just one? I want to go to the Grand Canyon. I want to see Boston. I want to visit the vineyards in Northern California. And I want to go to Hawaii sometime to see the lush green mountains.

6. What are your favorite toppings on an Ice Cream Sundae?
If this is like a "coldstone" question where you get to choose your flavor then No toppings for me. My latest favorite flavors include key lime, watermelon and ANY type of frozen yogurt. I love the tangy flavor that yogurt provides.

7. How many proms did you go to? What color was your prom dress? If you went to multiple proms, what color was your favorite prom dress?
Six, yes, I went to six proms. One my freshman year(red), one my sophomore year(purple), two both junior(gold and pastel pink) and senior years(white and watermelon). I was going to look for photos but I decided, I didn't want bad hairstyles in my future blog book, so no dice.

8. Is there a sport or extra-curricular activity that you didn’t get to try as a child that you wish you would have? My mom religiously took us to dance (ballet and tap) until we decided to stop. WHY do kids do that? I wish I'd have kept it up. I often wish I'd have played some sports. I didn't play softball, soccer (we didn't have it) or volleyball. I almost wish I had cheered too but I don't think I missed out on all the drama. I had enough of that as it was.

9. How many siblings do you have? Are you the oldest, middle, or youngest?
I have one sister. I'm the oldest by 3 years. We are very close, always have been. I think it was the prefect age difference.

10. Do you feel like you fit in with your age group? Or do you feel younger/older than your age group?
The Army has a great way of providing us with a social group that fits our age/pay grade pretty well. Outside of that, our neighborhood also lends us friends that fall into our age group. I think at age 30, I fit in with people 10 years older or 5 years younger equally well. We're all on the same bumpy boat ride in the Army so it's easy to fit in well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lincoln's Lovies

I didn't think Lincoln had attached himself to anything besides ME. By this age, Jackson had his beloved bear bear and of course the paci. Well, Lincoln loves the paci and I knew he loved his bed. He will sometimes stay in there upwards of an hour "singing" or humming to himself and occasionally go back to sleep in there. That's how I discovered, Lincoln DOES have a lovie. It's just attached to the bed. I walked in a couple of times to check on him in the morning and found him laid ACROSS the crib with his head laying on the plush bumper pad. He had a FIRM grip on the strap that ties it to the crib. After I noticed, I saw that when I would lay him down, he would immediately turn and grasp the strap for comfort. I tried to entice him with one of the cute sea horse glow worms that sings and yes, he likes it. I also have he AND Jackson's favorite toy, the crib aquarium (that toy has been worth every dime, 10 times over). Now, not a night goes by without him turning it on at 2 or 3 am but we've decided now, he's doing it in his sleep while tossing about. He still turns it off and on every morning for about half an hour. Of all things, he loves a strap? I guess to each his own. One morning, I caught him drifting and got these pics of him and his bumper ties. You also see below just how endearing he feels about his sea horse. I find it on the floor every morning when I go into his room.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It ain’t the Gulf

This weekend we had a little family getaway to Myrtle Beach. Jackson constantly begs to go to the beach so we decided to take him before summer’s end. I booked our room on Sunday without realizing we had tix to the Sheryl Crow concert Sunday night. Oh well, busy weekend ahead.
On Friday, we drove down and checked in and immediately went to eat. Yes, it was a little crowded and we knew our limits with our kids. Instead of the fancy seafood places with long waits, we settled for a nice Mexican dinner. Complete with the parental pitcher of Margarita’s. Yep, we got a couple of wise looks but hey, we’re on vacation too. Besides, it won the world’s weakest margarita for 2 years in a row. After our burritos and taco salad, we went out for a beach tour. Just as we remembered, the brown, rocky sand awaited us. Some people just LOVE the Atlantic coast, and I’m not complaining about the coast being 2 hours away but I’m a faithful lover of my friendly Florida panhandle white sand beaches. My heart can not be swayed (oil or not). Jackson held nothing back and took off. Lincoln was already too tired to enjoy it much but he pretended to like it for a second then reclaimed his spot on my hip.
Although nightfall had set in, Lincoln was having no part in this hotel stay. I admit the bed wasn’t as comfortable as our sleeping arrangements at home but we did have the ocean in the background. After several hours of unsuccessful kid hypnotics, we succumbed to an earlier than planned bedtime to convince our children it was time to sleep.
As I had suspected, as soon as the sun peaked over the horizon, Lincoln was calling my name to remove him from that awful cage and Jackson was bouncing off the beds asking to go to the beach. We arouse, dressed in swim gear and headed out for breakfast. I would have preferred the made to order omelet but that required getting the kids to agree on getting in the car and going somewhere and I just didn’t see that happening. We settled on the hotel buffet and well, their weak coffee just wasn’t exactly what I needed after the early rising but I’m willing to compromise for my children. We spent the first couple of hours at the beach with Lincoln crying due to lack of sleep and Jackson running around in complete oblivion. He was searching high and low for crabs and sea shells. As soon as the hotel water park opened, we were a few of its first guests. We spent an hour there sliding and splashing and floating around the lazy river before Lincoln suggested lunch and a nap. We headed upstairs and had a picnic over the hotel coffee table of turkey and mayonnaise sandwiches. We bedded for nap but I think Lincoln was the only one successful one in the effort.
After naptime, we beached more and Jackson found a friend who helped him make a village of sand castles. About 70 of them total. After the friend left, Jackson was left to bask in his creation all alone until Lincoln decided it would be FUN to squash them. Well, you can imagine this didn’t go over so well with Jackson. Lincoln destroyed and Jackson squealed. . I always thought it would be the other way around. At one time, I’m pretty sure I heard Jackson say he wanted to sell him for $15 dollars. And they say everyone has a price.
We decided to try the Carolina Coastal tradition of seafood. It’s the only way we’ve found it around here and we knew it wasn’t our style. Again, it ain’t the Gulf but…we are off to eat seafood Calabash. For those unsuspecting, it is actually a fried seafood buffet in disguise. I’ll admit the selection was vast. They had sushi, fried cheese sticks and WHOLE lobster and crawfish. The crab legs were a big hit for Jason and Jackson. Lincoln was a little traumatized by the sheer size of the crawfish. They didn’t’ come from the Mobile Bay area that was for sure.
Bedtime came around a little easier the second night. The next morning, after packing up the car, we played a quick HOT round of miniature golf at the “Pirate Place.” Jackson really just wanted to pay to walk around the holes; the whole hitting the ball around was just a detail. It was a fun trip to the Atlantic Coast area and may well be our last one. After we move back to the “south” I think most of our trips will be reserved for our one true love…Sugar white sand beaches, grilled seafood and emerald waters…the Florida/Alabama Gulf Coast Beaches!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

ONE word Wednesday


Saturday, August 14, 2010


Gone are the days of a quick trip or weekend “getaways.” I didn’t “getaway” from anything. The whining, the laundry and the “feed me’s” followed me here.
Gone are the leisurely days at the beach laying out and reading a book. Now I chase a crying 1 year old who needs a nap while keeping a fearless 4 year old from being taken away by the rip tide.
Gone are the days of a cooler filled with beer and ice. Now our cooler carries, mostly juice boxes, diet soda and creamer for the necessary morning coffee.
Yes, Gone are the days of staying up late and sleeping in late. Even with the courtesy room darkening blinds, we all go to bed when the kids do. One, they refuse to go to sleep without knowing your fun is extinguished and two, you’re too tired from chasing them to stay up anyway. Oh and then there’s the fact that they are sure to wake sometime before dawn, realize they are in a new place and be up for the morning. Here’s where the necessary coffee comes into play.
Gone are the days of wishing for sunny hot days. Now, I long for cloudy (not rainy) days that don’t require sweat or the re-application of sun screen multiple times.
Gone are the days of driving around looking for a Grande breakfast. Now, I don’t even bother turning down powdered egg and weak coffee buffets because that doesn’t require leaving the property and that simply requires too much effort.
Gone are the days of late drinks and dinners. Yep, now we eat at the Mexican restaurant at the beach because it was the only place without a wait. Mind you, it was only 6pm.

These are the days that we get to walk on the beach before anyone else has stepped foot on the sand.
These are the days we get to be the first at the pool and the first at the waterpark.
These are the days we are back in the room having a picnic lunch over the coffee table of turkey and mayo sandwiches at 11am. It will soon be naptime.
These are the days when excitement comes from the “giant crab” while driving down the road. Or there’s the “giant bucket” that dumps water on you in the waterpark.
These are the days WE will remember. These are the days we will make memories for our children to reflect on. These are the days that will simply go by too fast. These are the days we will want to hold onto forever…and all too soon, they will be GONE.

{Photos and vacation recap to follow.}

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ten on Tuesday (or Thursday?)

Just to be clear, all my questions are coming from here. Ten on Tuesday

1. Think back a decade, do you remember what your first cellphone was?
Was it as cool as Zack Morris’s phone?
Ha, ha! My first cell phone was an "emergency only" phone. It was pretty cool. It was WOOD GRAIN. For real, though.

2. What is the first children’s book you remember being read to you?
Hmm, my mom must have read A LOT to us or at least for a long time. I have every Little Golden Book she ever read us and I remember them all, fairly vividly. I even remember her dialect when she read them. One of my favorites is "There's a Monster at the End of This Book!" starring furry loveable Grover.

3. What was your first car? Did you love it or hate it?
Well, I was an unfortunate one at age 16. I had a couple of accidents and by a couple, I mean like 10! Seriously. I had a 1998 (brand new at the time) Ford Taurus (ugh, family car) at first, then I had to drive dad's new F-150 stick shift (which I wasn't very good at), then there was a white nissan maxima, a black thunderbird and eventually a red thunderbird that was willed to me when I got married. I left out the Oldsmoblie 88 (Huge granny car) that daddy made me drive in between the accidents.)

4. Who was your hero growing up?
The first one I can remember, I was a little older. I was like in middle school and it was the cast of 90210. I wanted to BE those glamorous girls. I kinda still do!

5. Think back to your first kiss. Was it everything you dreamed of?
Um, no. It was everything teenager filled, drama. It was silly and WAY too built up. It was in a recreation center basement/gymnasium at a boy/girl birthday party.

6. What was your first BAD hairstyle choice? (Extra points for embarrassing photos)
When I was little, my mom kept us in a bowl cut. I hated it and it matched my sisters bowl cut. I always wanted longer hair. So when I was old enough to decide myself, I let it grow out and haven't had it short since.

7. What was your first realistic dream? (One where you had to think “Oh dang, was that a dream?”)
Ok, I vividly remember a dream from like age 7-8 continuing until around 14. I dreamed I was playing with a friend in a strange house that was about 4 stories high. It had one of those black iron spiral staircases. It was a BIG house. We were playing with bristle blocks (I had them as a kid) I never remembered if my mom was there. I think she was but the house was so big, I couldn't find her.
The dream was so real, I would wake up and wonder if we'd been to that house sometime before. I think I still wonder.

8. What was the first phobia you remember developing?
Spiders, always spiders. I have always been afraid of them. There were brown ones at our old house outside. The wood spiders, I think. I hated them, I still do. I'm definitely arachnophobic.

9. Which character on Sesame Street do you most identify with?
On the new and improved Sesame Street, I'd have to say Zoe. She's the primadonna ballerina with the cool clothes/costume. I always wanted to be a ballerina too, they get to wear cool tutu's and what girl doesn't like tutu's?

10. What was the hardest goal you ever accomplished?
This is a loaded questions. Learning to LOVE running is one of my best goals. I never thought I'd love it, and some days, I still don't (thanks, humidity!) but for the most part, I love to run. I began running because I needed to loose the "jackson" weight. It also helped tremendously with the "lincoln" weight but I also learned that I loved the sense of accomplishment that comes with improvement. I also like the rhythmic pattern of your feet hitting the pavement. It's my solace.
Becoming a mother wasn't HARD. Loving the job wasn't hard either. Identifying myself as a Stay at Home Mom and being comfortable with that took some work. I had a college education. I had a decent job. But when Jackson came along, we couldn't see a future of him growing up in daycare. It wasn't a decision we made one night. We just "knew". So now, I'm a highly educated stay at home mom who does anything but stay at home!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

HOT new hobby!

While Nana and PawPaw were visiting, they introduced us to a cool new hobby. Well, to say "cool" would be debatable. It was a HOT HOT week when they were here. We topped out at over 100 most of the days. So as early as we could get out the door, we were off letterboxing. Mom had located some maps in the pinehurst/southern pines area and we were "searching for treasure" as we told Jackson. The first location was at the Sandhills Community College Horticultural Gardens. If it hadn't been over 100 outside, it would have been a wonderful garden to walk around in but considering the heat, we were on a mission to find that box. Armed with mom's trusty myster bottle to spray us (when Lincoln wasn't drinking it), we searched and FOUND our first letter box. Try to ignore the sweat dripping from us in the photos of our find.

Throughout the week, we looked for a few more. One at Reservoir Park in Southern Pines. After a long walk, we discovered that the box must have been burned during one of the states control burns because after we followed all directions, the box was no where. Then we made another trip to Southern Pines and searched for one supposedly at our favorite park, Camelot. It wasn't there either but we had a good time playing on the playground. Then, late in the day, we made it to the Southern Pines train station where we found one of 2 in that area. We located the "black hole" just before dark. Mission Complete!

What is Letterboxing?
Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places. It takes the ancient custom of placing a rock on a cairn upon reaching the summit of a mountain to an artform. It started when a gentleman simply left his calling card in a bottle by a remote pool on the moors of Dartmoor, in England.
Here's the basic idea: Someone hides a waterproof box somewhere (in a beautiful, interesting, or remote location) containing at least a logbook and a carved rubber stamp, and perhaps other goodies. The hider then usually writes directions to the box (called "clues" or "the map"), which can be straightforward, cryptic, or any degree in between. Often the clues involve map coordinates or compass bearings from landmarks, but they don't have to. Selecting a location and writing the clues is one aspect of the art.

Once the clues are written, hunters in possession of the clues attempt to find the box. In addition to the clue and any maps or tools needed to solve it, the hunter should carry at least a pencil, his personal rubber stamp, an inkpad, and his personal logbook. When the hunter successfully deciphers the clue and finds the box, he stamps the logbook in the box with his personal stamp, and stamps his personal logbook with the box's stamp. The box's logbook keeps a record of all its visitors, and the hunters keep a record of all the boxes they have found, in their personal logbooks.

What Do I Need to Hunt for Letterboxes?
At the very minimum you will need the clues. You should also have a personal stamp, inkpad, personal logbook, and a pencil (for writing in the box's logbook, if you want). Depending on the clue, you may also need a compass, map, or other tools. For my personal logbook, I use a hardbound unruled art sketchbook. I like the unruled paper because the stamp images look better. I also use a dye-based acid free ink; inkpads can be gotten at many art stores (preferred) or some discount department stores. Some people use multiple ink pads for a multi-colored effect, and some people use pigment-based ink. I prefer the dye-based as it dries faster and seems less messy, but this is all up to personal preference.

Where Do I Get the Clues?
In North America, where letterboxing is still developing, most clues are in the clue database at the Letterboxing North America (LbNA) web site, Beyond that, getting clues themselves can be part of the game. Box hiders have no doubt come up with clever ways to transmit their clues beyond the simple publishing of them on the Internet, although at least in the US, that vast percentage of boxes have their clues published on the LbNA web site. Other sites may also publish some clues and sometimes clues are found at local outdoor retailers and clubs, such as Eastern Mountain Sports.

What's the Deal With the Personal Stamp?
The personal stamp is your personal mark that you leave in the logbook of each box you find. It is a rubber stamp that you either carve yourself or have custom made. Creating your personal stamp is of course part of the art; it's your signature in the letterboxing world. You would not typically buy an off-the-shelf rubber stamp to use as your personal stamp unless you were really anxious to get started, or saw something that was "you". Almost all personal stamps these days are hand-carved.

One Man's Trash...

There are 2 very different sides to this story.

Most Saturday mornings, my friend Mari and I find ourselves consuming the ONE quiet cup of coffee and breakfast we enjoy all week on the road to garage sales. It's not everybody's thing but we really like it and it gets us away from kids for that ONE hour of coffee time so it's worth it just for that. I don't usually have anything in mind to "look" for but sometimes I think of things. I have been on the lookout lately for Jackson a pair of closed toe shoes for school. NOT the character sneaker type but cute ones that match his wardrobe. Also, just this week, our DVD/VHS combo decided to quit working. It is a necessary object in our house using both media so I fully intended to replace it. AND, in another conversation between Jason and Jackson, they decided to go camping, REAL camping, sometime soon. (Please note, I will be staying home, I don't do "camping" unless it has a shower/mirror so I can assess my appearance!) We don't own a tent and intended to borrow one.
So, back to the garage sale morning, Mari and I just visited the military neighborhood across the street and wouldn't you know we came upon a guy selling his entire household goods. Many military families sell their whole household and just by new rather than move it across the country/world with them. Lucky for me he had a DVD/VHS combo for a mere $10! He promised it worked with remote and all and said if it didn't, I could bring it back to him. He also had a 3-4 person tent that had NEVER been opened. 5 bucks brought it home with us! Next, I happened upon Jackson's size in a cute pair of barely worn closed toe Teva shoes. My last $4 made them mine and I went home feeling happy and thrifty! It doesn't happen everywhere but around here where things are more disposable rather than movable...One Man's Trash is another man's treasure.

Are we seeing double again? Kind of, in different seasons that is. This tonka truck has spanned the last 4 years in our possession. Before that, someone in my dad's neighborhood put it out for trash. Dad walks in the neighborhood late at night for exercise and the day before trash day he can really find some good things. Now don't think for a second that we don't joke and kid with him about going through the other people's trash but these things are usually just sitting there for someone to take anyway. This particular stop he really racked up in the toy department. He got all kinds of STILL WORKING toys for the boys. This Tonka truck and a kid size leaf blower are among the things my kids still play with today. So again, I say...One Man's Trash is another kid's dream toy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: Our name in print!

It's Here! The long awaited blog book, finished product!

It's actually been here about 2 weeks but I had to wait for the professional photo shoot for it's big debut.

I decided since I have nearly ceased scrapbooking since beginning the blog that I should have this one printed. There are some people that prefer reading print and it's the ONE sure way to know it will be here in 10 years!

Decisions: I had to decide on the company ( to print the book. This is the only one that I knew someone who had printed with and was happy with the results. I looked into others such as and but both of those consisted of html editing that I just wasn't up for at the time. It does give you more options and freedoms but blog2print won out because you simply enter your blog address and it makes the book for you, giving you the option to leave out any you wish and add the comments or not.

Product: I was thrilled with the size, print and full color photo pages. It was an exact reproduction of my blog AND it also included a cool table of contents. The pages were numbered and it automatically puts it in chronological order. It gives you space for a title page along with a dedication. It also allows for extra photos at the end of the book. It is hard bound and glossy cover which reminds me of the quality of a yearbook (in a good way).
The only SMALL complaints I can voice are the cover options are SLIM...the one I picked is the same one that the other person I know used when printing. It's the only one even close to cute. I would have preferred to have a full page photo option. Also, my comments always come between photos to explain the events. When printed, most of the text is in paragraph form while some photos are on that page, others may be on the following pages. It saves space in the book but can sometimes take away from the story.
Overall, I really loved the quality and length of the book. My ~one year of blogging was about 200 pages. If I had waited longer, I might have had to split it into two books anyway.

Summary: Super easy, great quality, affordable! If you are thinking about publishing, GO FOR IT! Your kids will love to look at it one day!

It was also a nostalgic way to spend an afternoon, looking over the past year and seeing the kids grow up all over again.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

10 on Tuesday

1. How do you take your coffee on an average day? How do you like your coffee if you’re splurging?
Most mornings, I have my choice of about 3-4 different half open bottles of creamer in my fridge. I used to use both creamer and sugar, then I realized if I used enough creamer, who needs extra sugar! On the day's I'm lucky enough to enjoy Starbucks, I usually maintain semi-self control by ordering the skinny caramel macchiato light. I know, it's not really splurging but I'm sure I consume the calories elsewhere.

2. What is your genre of books to read?
Oh, I wish I had time to read more books! Blogs, now that's where my reading comes in! I never would have thought I'd be a "vampire book" kinda girl but I totally fell into the Twilight craze and I'm proud of it. 4 books in about 4 weeks is probably a record for me. Usually I'm a Nicholas Sparks kind of girl. I've read ALL his books, usually end up crying like a baby at the end and Jason makes fun of me asking why I even read them knowing what the outcome is going to be. I love them anyway.

3. Where do you want to retire, if you could go anywhere?
This may be an odd answer but I would like to retire somewhere in North Florida. Not necessarily ON the beach (i'm afraid of hurricanes), but near enough to drive there when I want to. Somewhere in a city big enough to have more than one grocery store and a target. And somewhere with other people just like us so we have lots of friends to hang out with. Oh, and I need a pool to keep the grandchildren coming back!

4. The 17-year-old you is told to write a 10-minute speech. What topic would you have picked?
My speech would have pertained to "How to effectively get away from your parents" or "When I'm in college I'll..." oh, and how could I forget, " I will NEVER EVER be like my mother". FYI, I'm turning into my mother daily and I can't seem to get enough of being with them. Karma

5. What word describes you best?
Fabulous? (I'd like to think so anyway) or I'd also be willing to go with Fergie's "glamorous" Ha!

6. What is the next “event” that you are looking forward to? (ex.: vacation, moving, date, job change, etc)
Ah! This very weekend, we're taking the kids to Myrtle Beach to one of the "water park" hotels for the weekend and then on Sunday we come back just in time to go to the Sheryl Crow/Colbie Callit concert in Raleigh! Talk about a fun weekend.

7. Do you like to discuss controversial topics or do you prefer to avoid those types of conversations?
Hmm, I would like to say I'm less controversial and try to avoid those topics. But if I'm among those who all agree on the controversial topic then I'm all in!

8. Would you rather add 4 free hours to each day, or add 1 extra day to the week?
I don't think I could handle 4 more hours of most days. Although sometimes I feel like I need it, I'd still prefer to add a whole day to the week. The weekEND specifically. Just think...Sunday church, Monday SLEEP!

9. If you created a sports team; what would your colors and mascot be?
Seriously, this is perfect. We'd be the diamonds! What's stronger than a diamond? What can cut a diamond? What could be tougher than the diamonds? Oh, and the colors would be pearl and platinum, of course!

10. If you had to be a teacher, what subject would you teach?
I'm always considering a teaching degree. I don't see myself going back to hospital shift work and I think I could be a great teacher. I'd like to teach computer (as long as I could learn more myself) or I'd be like my mom, ya know the one I wanted to get away from and never wanted to be like, and I'd teach Science. I'd probably prefer highschoolers, that way I could also try to keep up with all the "coolest" trends!

All in a days work

Some days when we stay home or near home all day, I look around and wonder, what DID we do all day, I'm exhausted. Most people have been to meetings, filed reports, saw clients, patients or personnel. Some people have patrolled an area and been involved in life threatening situations. Others have spent the day on a plane going here or there. This is what we've done in the summertime life of a stay at home mom of two boys. It might not be the most important job in the world but to these two boys it is.

So far today I have:

-Ran 4 miles with my running partner

-Drank a cup of coffee without interruptions (who am I kidding, there were about 30 interruptions!)

-Fed breakfast for 3 and cleaned up afterward

-Changed 3 diapers (1 dirty one)

-dressed 3 people

-started, dried and folded 2 loads of laundry

-had a "lego party" (it's where you go to Jackson's room and build stuff with Lego's

-bought and loaded 2 songs on my ipod (you know, the one that mysteriously works and then doesn't)

-checked on Jackson's sunflowers (he insisted)

-printed 2 coupons

-packed a picnic lunch for the pool

-put one child down for a nap

-decided on what to cook for dinner

-cut and mailed a letter to my mom

-took the kids to the pool for 1.5 hours(which included undressing and re-dressing 3 people)

-answered numerous questions about an adult conversation over a 6 person drowning in LA

-took Jason's dry cleaning

-mowed the grass (admittedly we do have a riding mower)

-shared 2 VERY salty (sometimes you SHOULD follow the recipe) chocolate chip cookies

-had substantial help (Jackson) in watering the flowers in both the front and back yards

This is a little of what we did today BEFORE 1pm.

-oh, and wrote this blog!