Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Most Memorable Thanksgiving Ever

While I love the concept of Thanksgiving - pausing to remember all that we are thankful for, celebrating the discovery of our country - I have to say that Thanksgiving Day in itself is... not my favorite. As non-football watchers and non-fans of turkey, Vic and I agree that it may be our least favorite of all holidays. It's usually cold/gloomy, there's endless football on TV, and everything is CLOSED. BORING.

That being said, Thanksgiving 2010 will go down in history as my most memorable Thanksgiving {and possibly holiday} EVER. It was certainly NOT boring, and we still chuckle about it to this day.

It was our first T-day in NC, and we had been invited to my BIL's house to celebrate with his family. At this time, I was driving the 1999 GMC Yukon that we had inherited from my MIL. It was in great shape with only about 43k miles on it, and it was our only vehicle. I walked out of work on Wednesday evening as one of the last people there {it had been a buzy week!}, and I went out to the truck like I always do. Put the key in, turn it... and nothing. Not a click, not a buzz... nothing. I hadn't left the lights or anything on, so it didn't seem that the battery was the culprit. I called Vic frantically, and we couldn't diagnose anything over the phone.

I went inside to find someone that could give me a ride home, and thankfully my boss at the time, who happens to live in my neighborhood, was able to help me out. She had a little pickup truck, but I was able to squeeze in the back on a jump seat, and she graciously stopped to pick up Valentino at daycare and he rode up front.

Being that our only vehicle was now about 20 miles away from home and we had no friends to call for help, the next morning - a chilly, drizzly, cruddy morning - we were able to get a rental car from one of the agencies at the airport. This involved Vic bundling up and riding his road bike about 12-15 miles up and down hills to get to the airport. Luckily, his bike fit in the back of the 2010 Chevy Malibu and he was able to drive home. At this point, we were still packed and planning on making it to MD for dinner.

With a little bit of research, Vic thought he had the problem diagnosed. Amazingly, Auto Zone was open, so he headed there to pick up the parts he {thought} he needed. Long story short, he drove back out to my office, installed the parts, and the truck still wouldn't start. Obviously, we weren't headed to MD.

Here's where it gets interesting. We didn't want to pay to tow the truck to the garage that Vic wanted to work on the truck, so his idea was to TOW the truck WITH THE MALIBU for about 10 miles - inluding getting on a major highway. I would be driving the Malibu with the truck hooked up to it, and he would be steering/directing me via cell phone. This sounded like a terrible idea, especially because I freeze up in nerve-wracking situations like this << Cue my hyperventalation >> He assured me that it would be fine, and we really had no other choice.

My heart was racing as we drove to my office.

We got the truck hooked up to the car, and off we went. Thank God that RTP was empty - we only saw a handful of cars the whole way. Even though I was a sweaty, nervous wreck, things were going smoothly. We got off the highway and on to a busy road {Glenwood, for you locals}. It was now dark, and I was starting to have a hard time keep my speed right with all the big hills. I had visions of the huge truck rolling over me. We had to turn left to get to the garage - we could see it from where we stood - but I blew it... I passed the turn. This is where it all goes downhill...

Let's also not forget that Valentino is only 3, and he is with me in the car. And it's past his dinner time. He was an angel through this whole experience, thankfully!

We tried to back up, but the tow strap we were using snapped. Vic attempted to fix it, but it was not very strong. We ended up having to turn left at the next light, which took us onto another road. The strap gave up, and our truck was stranded half-way up a hill. Vic and I tried to push it, but it's nearly 6,000lbs and the hill was steep. At this point, a cop shows up. Then another one. I am about to have a nervous breakdown, thinking we're in trouble for some reason {I have a thing about not getting in trouble - I really get nervous about it!}. Thankfully, they're only there to help us push. But even with their help, the beast wasn't budging. So they give up on that, block the road, and allow the truck to roll backwards so that they can then push it forward on to the shoulder of Glenwood Ave. At this point, we can literally see the garage that we're trying to get it to, but we have to somehow get the truck another 1/4 up a hilly road, then turn right and go up another hill to the garage's parking lot.

We had a tow chain with us, so Vic hooked that up and hoped that the bumper of the rental car wouldn't get damaged. We were able to tow the car to the garage, and the saga was over.

At this point though, it was about 7 o'clock on Thanksgiving, and we had no food in the house, since we were supposed to be out of town for the next four days. I frantically called around to find an open restaurant. The only place that was open long enough for us to get there was Golden Corral. So we ended up eating our Thanksgiving dinner at about 8pm at Golden Corral, which was a.) shockingly busy and 2.) quite tasty!  We were beat, but we had a great meal and chuckled the whole time about our crazy day.

Thankfully, the garage was open the next day and they were able to diagnose and fix our truck, so we picked it up and enjoyed the rest of our long weekend together.

And that, my friends, is my most memorable Thanksgiving ever.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Falling off the bloggin' wagon

I've been pretty terrible about keeping up with this thing lately, mostly due to not knowing what to write. I've been severely in a rut as of late - feeling really tired and uninspired - so my gym-going has been really pathetic. I think I went twice last week :( boo.

I'll focus on the positive:

1. I've been much better about cooking meals for us and taking care of my household chores - this has really been a relief. I've even had a few moments to think "hmm... what should I do now?" Amazing. Yet, I wonder if there's a correlation between more housework and less getting up early for the gym... hmm... ;-)

2. I had a part in a presentation for our biggest client, and I was very nervous about it. Luckily when we got there, it was a lot more laid-back than I expected and I was able to relax and present without talking way too fast with a bright red face. So very glad that is over!

3. I worked from home on Friday, in my pajamas. GLORIOUS. As a bonus, this has felt like a long weekend.

4. Speaking of long weekend, I'm stoked to only have to work 3 days this week! And for pretty much the rest of the year, all of my weeks will be short in one way or another. Score!

5. I had a girl's night out on Friday - we met up for a quick dinner then saw Twilight {LOL - channeling our inner 15-year old!}. It was awesome to get out with other moms and laugh and see a chick flick.

6. I'm looking forward to our Thanksgiving - we're be headed up to Maryland to Vic's brother's family. Valentino always has a great time with his cousins {ages 8 and 12}, and it's always nice to spend time with my BIL and SIL.

So there are some good things that have happened this past week. I'm looking forward to a productive, health-ful pre-Thanksgiving week!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Today I feel...

Confused. I don't understand some peoples' thought process. Yes, we're all entitled to our own opinion, but when things seem so blatantly, in-your-face obvious {like being lied to about horrific things, over and over again}, how can people look the other way and make such bad decisions? This doesn't just pertain to the election - there are many examples of this in people I know.

It's making me question people and everything I know, which is very uncomfortable. Perhaps this is part of maturing?


Down. Mostly stemming from the election {which I'm shocked is affecting me so much}, but about some other things too. Seems to be hitting hard as I enter my hormonally emotional time.

Pissed off. It's true, I secretly want to remove all liberals from my FB friends list. But I won't - I read their posts with an open mind, but then I roll my eyes at their general selfishness and ridiculousness.

Pensive. There must be some higher plan, something we don't know about yet. I believe that all things, good and bad, happen for a reason. Time will only tell what that reason is.


During my workout this morning {30 minutes on the stairmaster to burn those buns!}, a million thoughts were running through my head. Only were they calmed when - this sounds totally cheesy - I heard the song by John Cougar Mellancamp "Jack & Diane" where he says, " goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone..." Like I said, TOTALLY cheesy, but it gave me my mantra for the day - no matter what, LIFE GOES ON. We get up, go to work, and live our lives every day with little control over the "big picture." No sense in dwelling on what we can't control.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Non-*cents* November

Alternate title: Target, we’re taking a break… it’s not you, it’s ME.

First off, I can’t believe this year is almost over already. 2012 started slow for me, but the summer and this fall flew by… and now I’m almost a whole year older. Sheesh.

Of course the arrival of November means that Christmas is very much in sight… and that is always a stressful time for us tight-budgeted folks. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, and food to make/bake. Add that to the fact that we’re Disney-bound in mid-January, and you see my need to get a grasp on spending so that we have maximum funds available for Christmas and our trip.

I am the sole “spender” for our house – I do all the grocery shopping, I fill up the gas tank, and I whip out the debit card for all other purchases {usually eating out and purchasing clothing, shoes, and other small odds and ends}.

Two things really need to be corralled:

Groceries/TARGET. I usually shop at Target {using my Red Debit Card to get 5% off!}, because I like one-stop shopping, and I’ve found that prices on several items at Target are better at “regular” price than local grocery stores {peanut butter, waffles, bread, most HBAs, etc.}. However, I’ve come to find that in the long-run, this is muy, muy no bueno for the old budget-o. For whatever reason, even when I think I’ve “done good,” I end up shaking my head at the register in disbelief that what I thought was "not much" is costing so much. I wouldn't say I go overboard with impulse purchases, but somehow it ALL. ADDS. UP.

Target Hypnosis, as pinned on Pinterest (originally from

I started receiving the Sunday paper, purely for the coupons. I've never been a huge coupon fan because I don't buy most of what there are coupons out there for - we don't eat much cereal and I don't buy many frozen meals/canned veggies/soups/etc. However, I've found that the $1/week I'm spending for the newspaper is offset by the few coupons I do use for HBAs and other houseware products {paper towels, Tide, etc.}.

I've also started to shop at grocery stores for our weekly food needs. My favorite is Kroger - whenever I shop at the neighborhood Kroger {using the kid-sized cart for Valentino to push, of course!}, I end up spending less and getting higher-quality produce. PLUS, I get fuel rewards {$0.10 off for every $100 spent} and they have some sort of rewards program too. I stick to only buying what is on sale, and so far I've been pleased with the amount of groceries I walk out of there with for the money.

@Super Target - I love that place. It's very super.
See the heavenly sunbeams illuminating the store?

This month, I plan to only buy absolute necessities from Target and get the rest of our groceries from Kroger, using coupons and taking advantage of the rewards. I also plan on sticking to a meal plan for our dinners and my lunch, which brings me to...

Eating food at/from Home. I'm no cook, that is FOR SURE. I don't enjoy cooking at all, and we have three different palates in this house - I'm picky, but open to adding in "health" foods for the sake of health; Vic is pretty picky and usually won't sacrifice taste for health; and Valentino is a horribly picky eater {whom I've created, no doubt}. Valentino usually gets his own meal {#1 on my "I'll never do that when I have kids!!" list... ouch}, and I make the same ol' things for us. Since I'm the one who cooks dinner, if I'm not feeling up to it... we order/go out. We have pizza far too often since it's a sure bet for all three of us. Obviously, this is not good for our health or our budget.

I've meal planned in the past, and I've always felt so happy when I was able to stick to it - it's truly a time and money saver. Lately though, I've fallen way off that wagon {story of my life...} and for the sake of our budget and our waists, I need to jump back on. So this month I will be planning out our meals in an effort to be easier on our budget and clean up our food intake.

So those are my major focuses for our budget this month. I also plan on bringing in some extra money by selling some items on ebay and through craigslist. Every penny helps!

How about you - are you taking steps to save money for the holidays? What are your favorite tips for saving money?

I know, I know... I should've been on top of this months ago. Severe procrastination is my Achilles heel.