Words To Live By:

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you finish the work."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Califronia Adenture: Day 1

Yesterday we began the first leg of our California adventure.  Our day started bright and early with a 4:30 am wake up for Mommy (after approx. 4 hours of sleep the night before!).   We got everyone up and out the door and on route to the airport by 6 am - a half hour later than planned.   We were not ready for the number of crazy people on the highway, the construction and the accidents at this time....so it took us more than an hour and a half to get across the 401.   So much for arriving at the airport 3 hours before our flight (which was scheduled to depart at 9:35.)

We opted to Park n Fly this vacation which led to our next small inconvenience.  As we're pulling our luggage out of the trunk, the shuttle bus leaves the lot.  No biggie - the next one should be there in 15 minutes - OR NOT!  More than 30 minutes later, we're finally at Terminal 3...but were dropped off at the wrong end of the building. 

Unfortunately, we didn't realise this until we started the self-check-in process at the WestJet kiosk.  When we had issues with Kaleb's boarding pass the kind lady offering assistance pointed out we had to scurry down to the US desk....

The staff at the WestJet counter were AMAZING!  The lady was friendly, got us checked in quickly and waived our overweight luggage fee.   Unfortunately, the line for US Customs was not as friendly.   As we're standing in line, I glance at the clock and see, oh my, our plane is boarding!  Yikes.   Now Mommy is officially starting to stress out.  

The Customs agent was friendly and processed us quickly.  We then went through security and that went quickly for the carseats and checked baggage.... not so much for carry on!   Did I mention how much I think having to haul your luggage (3 suitcases, 3 carry-ons, 2 carseats) is a pain in the butt?  Much prefer when you check it in at the counter.    Anyhow, once we get to the personal security check, Kaleb was flagged for search.... and Mommy forgot her laptop was in her carry-on, and Kevin's bag needed to be searched.  

Now, these staff were amazing!  I never thought I'd say that about security but they were laughing with Kaleb as they patted him down and used the wand.  The guy laughed at my absentmindedness and they were so apologetic about searching the bags and the order we had to put Kaleb's stuff on the belt.   And then I mentioned we had about 5 minutes til our plane departed!    They started helping to get our stuff together and pointed out which gate and did their best to expedite us through the end process.  

WestJet staff then laughed and said "They're holding the plane for you!"  Yikes... kids didn't get to relax or even pee before boarding.  Did I mention that Justin still wasn't feeling well through all this???  The flight itself was fantastic (but a little bumpy - couldn't be helped.)  The boys were amazing - Kaleb was more interested in his seatback tv than anything and Justin fell asleep once I gave him more tylenol.  The crew were funny and friendly and I think I just became a huge WestJet fan!

We landed in Las Vegas quickly but getting our rental car was another ordeal.  After Kev stood in line 40 minutes, we got our vehicle & I got a sunburn!    Luckily, we got a upgrade...and finally got out of Vegas after a quick lunch at Subway and hit the road by 2. 

We got into Cathedral City (Palm Springs) around 7 after a few quick pit stops.  The boys were great in the car, the drive through the desert was novel at first...but after 5 hours of staring at cactus and dusty mountains, the novelty wore off.   Hotel check in at the Holiday Inn Express was fast and friendly, our hotel is clean.  The boys got a quick dip in the pool, pizza for dinner, hugs from Papa & Oma and off to bed at 10 pm (PST) which is the equivalent of 1 am our time.     I'm so proud of them - they did so well!    

I was happy for bed and a pillow... and look forward to a more relaxing day today!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another Mealplan (no fancy title...)

Last night I spent alot of time flipping through flyers, recipes, and the cupboard trying to come up with a cheap and effective meal plan to get me through the next 10 (yup, 10!) days.    After comparing flyers, I still have NO IDEA where to get the bulk of my groceries the cheapest.  No time to travel to 2 different towns, and 4 different grocery stores... decisions, decisions.

This is what we're doing until the day we leave (9:30 am takeoff... we have to leave the house uber-early!  What was I thinking?!)
  • Maple Glazed Salmon Skewers, Breaded Halibut (for the boys), Curly Fries & Broccoli Slaw(this is what we enjoyed last night.)
  • Thai Peanut Chicken Pizza (we'll be modifying it using ingredients on hand - ie. homemade peanut sauce but it's the inspiration for dinner tonight)
  • Thai Peanut Chicken Pasta Salad (this will use the remaining peanut sauce and chicken from tonight... it'll be a throw-together-and-see-how-it-works type of meal tomorrow night.)
  • Turkey Sausage, Steamed Brocoli & Carrots, Seasoned Basmati Rice
  • Ribs, Pierogies or Roasted Potatoes, Caesar Salad
  • Chicken Caesar Pitas
  • Chicken Alfredo Puffs & Garden Salad
  • Pasta & another Salad
  • Beef Kebabs, Corn on the Cob, Fresh Veggies & Italian Bread
  • Philly Cheesesteaks (or something of the sort using the leftover beef)
  • Turkey Caesar Burgers, Veggies & Dip
Side note - I dropped my dress off for alterations this morning.  They were super-busy and I had to wait... so they gave me a discount and will hem Kaleb's pants for free -woohoo. It should look absolutely gorgeous when it actually fits.  We don't want to encounter a wardrobe malfunction under the desert sun.  Fingers crossed they'll do a good job (and maybe I've found a place to alter my many jeans that are just a tad too long!)  Oooh.. and can I just say that regular bra fittings are amazing things - just saying!

Friday, May 13, 2011

You'll have to forgive my negligence...again! I'm terrible about keeping this updated regularly. And those weekly features? Pffft... great in theory, not so much in execution.

We only have 2 weekends (one is a long one!) and 5 work days left to survive endure enjoy before the vacation of the year begins. I have to start my check-lists soon - what to do, what to buy, what to pack. (I'm the queen of checklists; do they help keep me organized? Debatable!) I also need to come up with one more meal plan and do one more grocery shop before we go - bare basics so the ants don't infiltrate my home while we're gone and have a party those valuable food products we spend our hard-earned money on don't go to waste.

The subject of meal plans and groceries inevitably turns to how I can get the most value for the least money. An interesting topic - I can't believe the number of times in the last few months I've heard or read about "extreme coupon-ing". (i.e. the show on TLC which I've never watched.)

Apparently some crazy (but impressive!) people (particularly in the States where coupon rules are different) can do serious shopping for pennies. I've been getting coupons/samples from some places for ages... but having only one car and limited time in which to run all my errands, I don't always find store-hopping to combine sale prices and coupons a great idea, particularly when I think of the old adage "Time is money" and more relevant, the fact that gas prices are exorbitant (I had no idea how to spell that word!) Nevermind that I tend to forget to bring the coupons with me - oops!

My cousin of sorts, Shannon, posted on her blog about her amazing grocery savings - check out her post here.  It prompted me to share my own coupon resources - something I keep thinking I should do but tend to forget about.

Here are some of the sites & blogs I refer to for shopping deals (some more regularly than others, some of which Shannon has also mentioned):

and for group-buying deals, I subscribe to WagJag and Groupon.

My best coupon experience to date was the recent Pepsi/PC promotion - spend $20 in any PC store on select Pepsi/Quaker products (most of which were on sale and tax free the weekend I went) and submit a mail-in rebate for a $30 PC gift card. What?!? You'll give me an extra $10 to buy some of the products we already regularly consume?

I'm also a HUGE fan of the SDM Optimum program.  Loyalty points don't always mean you're getting a good deal but I earn big savings regularly with my diabetic supplies. I can spend a couple hundred dollars on insulin, needles, etc. (not on prescription), remit for coverage through insurance (so I'm technically spending $0) and if I shop on bonus or multiplier days, I rack up the points. I tend to hit the redemption peak 3-4x a year and try to redeem them on bonus redemption days to stretch it further... and that doesn't count the times I need just a few basics so I'll redeem here and there instead of spending cash.

If you're in the US (or even if you're not but want to know how they do it!), one of the blogs I subscribe was featured in a "my favorite things" type of article by this lady, The Money Saving Queen.   Amazing!

It's always nice to find a deal... leaving me with more in my pocket for purses shoes clothes savings!

On a sidenote, my critter problem has been resolved. Last weekend we tackled the shed briefly. We found baby mice (they startled me and I screamed!) nesting in the yard waste bag (and I didn't want to kill them. agh!) Kevin's effort at mowing the lawn means the bunnies have evacuated and we haven't seen them since - so sad :(
On another note, I got one of the thank you cards I made for my sister's shower gift in the mail the other day (hehe!). This was the finished product:

Ain't it cute?!   Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Little Critters

I have a dilemma.  I have a shed to store the lawn mower, miscelanneous garden equipment, outdoor toys and the like.  Last fall, I did some yard work, filled the yard waste bags... and tossed them in the shed.  Shed got closed for winter and yard waste bags were forgotten.   Well, sometime throughout the winter, the boys wiggled the door open and it never actually got closed again - no big deal - except the sliding doors on the shed have come off their hinges and we're missing some screws so they need to be rehung.  Which means our shed is still wide open.  Still no big deal...

I've done some yard clean up (i.e. dog droppings) and ran in and out of shed to pick up the pooper scooper.   I've run into the shed to grab a rake.  I've run into the shed to look for bubbles.  I've never seen hide nor hair of any creature in the shed - which is shocking because when we usually do our spring yardwork and bring out the patio furniture, I have to wash up all the toys and hose down the bottom of the shed due to mouse poop.

Last weekend I went to let Diesel out first thing in the morning and saw a crittter out of the corner of my eye scampering into the shed.   It looked big - like a large rat or a muskrat - but why would we have muskrats in our shed???  Well, I went about my day and Kev texted me to say it wasn't actually Rats Of Unusual Size, but two little bunnies.  I scoffed!  No way was what I saw a bunny... but sure enough every morning and every evening the bunnies come outside the shed to bask in the sun and enjoy some nibbles in the grass.  We figure have nested in the yardwaste bags that now have giant holes in them.  

(In my defense, the other day a 'larger' critter skulked it's way through my garden... so maybe something is 'hunting' the bitty bunnies?  I dunno!)  Here's my critter dilemma... all the kids have grown accustomed to watching the bunnies in the yard, want to give them carrots and Diesel completely ignores them.   Do I let them stay and use our shed as an oversized bunny apartment?  Or do I kick them out and actually get that shed cleaned and the yard tidied?    I'm too soft-hearted - I don't want to evict the bunnies from their home.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

3 Weeks

That's how long we have to wait before we start our California adventure. In just 21 days we'll be boarding a plane bound for Vegas, driving through the desert and beginning our 9 day adventure in the Palm Springs area.

The boys have started counting down and as the big day gets closer, they get more excited. This morning I overheard Kaleb telling his friends about our trip. Friend responds that he wants to go. Kaleb laughs at him and says, "but it's a wedding. Why do you want to go to a wedding? You have to watch people kiiiissssiiing!".