Monday, June 30, 2008

Checking my receipts



I know, you are probably tired of hearing me complaining about the gas prices. Perhaps this will be one of my last times. If it isn't sorry, I just can't help it.

So I was looking through my old receipts. Yes, I have receipts that date back to 1999. Couldn't believe it myself but it was true. In those receipts I found some old gas receipts. So I really paid attention to the gas receipts and decided to do a comparison.

In 1989 gas was .99 cents a gallon. I remember this because it was my first year driving. Minimum wage was $4.25 and hour I believe as well.

Ten years later the cost of gas was $1.51 a gallon in July of 1999. So in ten years time gas had gone up .52 cents a gallon. Minimum wage was $5.75 an hour. So in ten years time minimum wage had increased by $1.50 an hour.

In 2002 gas was $1.86 a gallon on average. So in three years time gas went up .35 cents. Minimum wage was $6.75 an hour. So in three years minimum wage increased by $1.00 an hour.

In 2006 gas averaged $2.81 a gallon. So in four years we saw $1.00 a gallon increase. Minimum wage was still $6.75 an hour.

In 2007 gas was the same price averaging around $2.81 a gallon. Minimum wage was $7.50 per hour an increase of .75 cents.

Now in 2008 gas is averaging $4.55 a gallon here where I live. So in the last year we have seen an increase of $1.74 a gallon. Crazy how fast it is increasing and we don't see any relief in sight. Minimum wage is now $8.00 an hour an increase of .25 cents an hour.

In 1989 gas was 25% of the hourly minimum wage. Now in 2008 gas is more than 50% of the cost of minimum wage. I ask you who is really suffering here. Sure maybe some of us hate the price increases but we can find other ways in our budget to make up for the difference. But what about those making minimum wage? How are they living in a poor economy like this with the prices of everything sky rocketing?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tipping


With rising gas prices it also seams like tipping jars are turning out everywhere! Gone are the days that tipping was for a service provided. A service that allowed you to sit back and have your purchases come to you. Not only should you be served but you should be served with courteous manners and a sense of appreciation for choosing to have your business with them.


Now it seams that tips are expected everywhere. You see them at malls at stores where you would buy food such as cookies, ice cream, fast food, etc. I have to ask, where is the service being provided here? I walked up to the counter and asked for my order andwas handed a cookie across the counter? What happened to the employer paying their employees salaries? Is it now going to be passed on to us so that we are bringing their wages up to an appropriate amount.


O.k., I don't drink coffee but I have never understood this one either. Why should you tip for coffee? You go up to the counter and ask for your order. You are already paying for one coffee what it would cost for 1/2 pound of coffee that would make who knows how many cups. When your coffee is ready they shout out your name. So please tell me why do people tip for coffee?


Yes, I know I am cheap but I still live in the standard of tipping for a service provided. So maybe some of you can help enlighten me. Where do we draw the line? Are we going to start having to tip for every purchase made? When we go into J.C. Penny's and ask the sales staff to help us find a skirt in a different size are we going to have to start tipping them?


What are your thoughts on tipping and where should the line be drawn? At what point should we expect to pay for the service we are getting and not have to pay additional fees? I look forward to your comments!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I was totally snubbed


On Saturday night at the hotel Aly met another girl who was sitting with her grandfather during the manager's reception. At this time all the hotel guests are invited down to the courtyard for appetizers and drinks. (I have never stayed at a hotel this fancy but hey, it was free and I really enjoyed it!) Anyway, they have a nice fish pond and Aly decided to go watch the fish swim. The little girl whose name was Lexus was happy to join Aly and was quite friendly. She was Aly's age and the two of them had a great time together. Honestly I got a glimpse of life down the road when Aly will pretend like I don't exist while she is around her friends.

Anyway, we decided to go swimming and said our goodbyes. The next morning Aly was thrilled to see her at breakfast! She sat at the table and carefully colored a picture for her new friend. When she was finished she wanted to go over and give the picture to Lexus. So I decided to join her and KK wanted to come to. Aly happily gave Lexus the picture and Lexus was thrilled. She was really happy to see Aly and was very thankful for the picture. During this entire exchange Lexus's mom and her mother's friend would not look over at us, would not stop their conversation, and would not give us the time of day. They never acknowledge us, never said anything to Aly, or would even give us eye contact. I must admit I was in shock. I am such a friendly person and usually experience other people being friendly as well.

At least Aly didn't notice, or should I say she is too young to even care. Her friend acknowledged her and ultimately that is all that matters. It did make me feel sad but what can I do. I am guessing due to the fact that I am a casual person, with casual clothes, no make up, and don't get my nails done that these women must have felt embarrassed to be in my presence. I must have seemed to low to associate with. Too bad, I feel bad for Lexus that she will grow up witnessing that awful display of discrimination over class level.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stinson Beach

We woke up Sunday morning and decided to go to the beach since temperatures today would not exceed 80 degrees. We got there early around 10:00 a.m. Aly immediatly decided to go beach combing so Daddy and Aly took a long walk down the beach. KK actually didn't want to be at the beach and kept whinning to go home. So I kept KK and tried to get her engaged in making sand castles. I think I actually had more fun making them then she did.




KK was quite impressed with my castle making abilities. She enjoyed sitting down in front of the castles and looking at them.
After awhile Daddy and Aly came back and we flew kites. I will have to post pics and videos tomorrow as I have run out of time today and still need to upload those pics and videos. To be continued......

Saturday, June 21, 2008

SF aquarium

Today was forcasted to be a very hot day. We had orginally planned on going to Stinson Beach but opted for an alternative plan since temperatures at that beach were predicted to be 90 degrees. So we decided to check out what there would be to doing in San Francisco. We can't even remember the last time we had been to SF so we did some research. We were surprised to find out that in 1998 they built a new aquarium called Aquarium of the Bay. We decided the kids would love to see the aquarium so we jumped in the car and made the journey.

The aquarium is small but it does have two awesome tunnels where you can watch fish, leopard sharks, bat rays, and many other ocean species swim over your head. At first Aly was quite scared. It was a little dark and since the tunnels were downstairs you kind of have that closed in feel. After time she relaxed and really enjoyed the tunnels. We went through the aquarium twice since it was so small.















Check out our aquarium hats! Too bad KK's was too big for her. I had to wear it instead!




KK had a great time too. She wasn't afraid of the tunnels until she saw Aly freaking out over it. Then she decided there must be a reason to be afraid and became very clingy herself. Her favorite thing at the aquarium was the leopard shark. Do you know that KK is very fond of sharks? It is one of her favorite animals besides elephants. Good think she hasn't seen the movie Jaws!
After the aquarium we decided to head for the hotel that we had a free night stay at in San Rafael. I realized I had forgot my swimsuit so we had to stop by Mervins to buy a new one. We took the girls swimming at the pool and they had a blast. It was great for Aly to use water wings in the pool and learn to become comfortable in the water. By the time we were done swimming she was using the water wings and swimming by herself.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Switching to Magic Jack the ups and downs

A little over a month ago I purchased Magic Jack for my home in an effort to cut back our monthly phone bill. You have to have a high speed Internet connection which we do so this service allows us to get rid of my previous carrier Vonage. With taxes vonage was costing me $30 a month for unlimited local and long distance. While it was a good deal I knew that with the purchase of magic jack which costs $40 for the jack, I would be able to save money on my monthly bill. With Magic Jack you don't have to pay for it monthly. Your initial cost is $40 for the jack and after the first year you have a yearly fee of $20. That is it! So I felt like I really didn't have anything to loose.

The positives:
no monthly bill
unlimited local and long distance

The negatives:
You can't choose your own phone number
You have to dial the area code for all calls including local

So far I have been happy with Magic Jack. I haven't really given the number out but have used it to make my long distance calls. We decided that we wanted to keep our regular number we have had for 6 years so we pay $10 a month for a land line with just local call service. So I didn't have to give everyone a new phone number to call me.

The hardest part for the whole transition is that with my residential line I don't have caller id/call waiting. This has been a rough transition for me as I love to know who is calling before I answer the phone. My magic jack line has caller id/call waiting so I probably should just consider giving everyone that number too. They don't have to use it but if my other line is busy they can.

So after taxes on my residential line I am now saving $15 a month on phone bills which equates to $180 a year. We are also happy that now when the power goes out we have a land line so we can still make phone calls. For those of you that can let go of your telephone number you could save $360 a year or more on phone service by switching to magic jack. It could be worth it for you!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Aly gets a new bike for her birthday


Last week when we met up with the other girls that will be going to Aly's elementary school they decided that we should bring bikes for the kids to ride each week. We had one problem. The only bike we had for Aly was a small 12" bike that didn't have any brakes. She was two when we bought it and we didn't even think to check to see if the bike had breaks. We had never know a bike could be made without breaks.
So we decided that since the other girls will probably be riding around pretty fast we better buy Aly a new bike with breaks. This was perfect timing because two of her Grandma's had sent her money for her birthday so we could use that money towards the purchase of a bike.
I told Aly that on Saturday we would go shopping for her bike. We had already been to walmart and didn't really see anything she had liked. So on Saturday we were going to head to three stores: Kmart, Sports Authority, and Toys R Us. When we got to Kmart she fell in love with the Little Mermaid bike. It was pretty pricey too at $79.99. Then we went to Sports Authority and they only had one hammerhead boys bike, so off to Toys R Us we went. At Toys R Us she fell in love with this bike which was pinkish/red with flowers on it. The best part for me was that is was $49.99 and yes, it had breaks. She also picked out a bike helmet. When we got to the registered I was thrilled to find out that this bike was actually on sale for twenty dollars off which made it 29.99.
I felt like Aly was secretly frugal too--ha, ha. Lucky me to have such a great deal and lucky me that Aly was happy and chose that bike!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My race to win a wii is over


After reading about the new Wii fit from my friend Lia's blog I had really wanted one. Only trouble was we don't have a Wii which you need to use the Wii Fit. So a new Wii is around $269 and a Wii Fit is about $89. I knew we didn't have this in our budget so I did an intense internet search and entered to win every Wii and Wii Fit contest that I could find. Some of the contests were simple and only required entering contact info while others were photo contests where you had to submit photos. I think I entered at least 10 contests or more. Now they are all pretty much over and I didn't have any luck. I will keep searching for more contests though. Maybe next year with our tax return we may be able to get one. In the meantime I will just have to realize that we can't have everything we want;-) Hee, Hee.


My friend Annette already has a Wii and yesterday was able to purchase the Wii Fit so I will look forward to going over to her house and playing it. She will probably totally kick my butt--hee, hee.
Until then if you know of any more contests please let me know. I still really want to win one!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Birthday Dad


Today was one of those years where my father's birthday fell on Father's Day. He would have been 58 years old today. I still can't believe he is gone and I miss him more and more everyday. I can't believe at the young age of 54 he left this life and went on to another. I can't believe he had to battle cancer three times over a six year period. I can't believe the pain he endured the last six years of his life both physically and emotionally.


It hurts so bad that he is not here to see his grandchildren grow up. It hurt that he was not there when his second grandchild KK was born. He would be amazed at how much she resembles him. I will never get to know how he views me as a mother. I will never get to share with him the joys and pains of parenting. I can't tell him how much the girls are growing and changing everyday and I can't tell him that I love him.


I dream about him often and think about him everyday. I hope that when I dream about him it is him coming to me in my dreams letting me know he is alright and that he is watching over me and my family. My dreams are all I have and I hang onto them even after I wake. Often times when the children wake me in the night if I am dreaming about my father I will try and return to the same dream. That is all I have now, my dreams.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Aly's Kitty drawing

I just loved the drawing that Aly made for me of a cat. I thought it was really cute how she made his face and chest white. I love the little pink stripes too and the detail of eyelashes on the eyes.

I can't wait until the fall. Aly's school offers an afterschool art class that we can pay for once a week. The only downfall is she gets out of school at 1:50 and the art class is at 3:15. Her school is 8 miles away which just one trip costs us a gallon of gas. So, I am hoping that I might be able to use that time after school from 1:50 until her art class is over to volunteer at the school and do things for them. (prep work, copying, etc.) That is if they don't mind KK tagging along. Haven't really come up with any other ideas for killing time as there is nothing around the school but country home.

KK's coloring

The evolution of KK' coloring has been a very fun process to observe. When she first started coloring she would use one color of crayon and typically only color one thing on each page and keep flipping the pages. We kept trying to get her to slow down and color one page as it gets quite expensive to keep buying new coloring books and neither of them would color the page once one thing was colored on it.

KK then evolved into coloring the entire page but it was all one color. So I was thrilled yesterday when she colored this picture. Not only did she use more than one color, but she stayed in the lines. I think this is very good for just turning three this week. I am so proud of how fast she has come along. The other thing that I feel really lucky about is she has always held her crayon the correct way. I was really lucky with her that I wasn't going to have to correct her holding it with a fist grip.

She still isn't interested in writing letters so I will just have to give her time and wait until she shows interest. Perhaps in the fall once she starts preschool she might want to give it a try. Until then the supplies are there and she can just do it at her own pace.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Gas is killing us

Our gas bill hit an all time high of $824.22. I was shocked myself when I calculated it. This is seriously hurting us. The worst part is it is just going to keep going up and up! I REALLY WANT MY COROLLA BACK! The mechanic called yesterday and said he had been getting his van ready for a trip and hadn't been able to work on my car. He is supposed to be installing new struts to see if that will fix the problem. He said he would try and install them today. I really need that car back!

It makes you start to question at what point you would be saving money to buy a new hybrid vehicle. So I decided to do some calculations. My hubby travels 100 miles a day for his commute. His current mode of transportation is a 1995 Jeep Wrangler which gets 17 miles to the gallon. I did the math and he uses 29 gallons of gas a week. So for a month he uses 116 gallons. If you multiple that by $5 a gallon because we all know that it will probably happen in the next month or so we would be spending $580 on gas just for his commute! This doesn't factor in my gas or weekend fun trips etc. A Toyota Prius gets about 44 HWY miles to the gallon. I did the math on this one and we would use 44 gallons a month costing $220 a month in gas instead of $580 which is a savings of $360 which is close to the amount you would spend on a monthly car payment. Crazy huh!

I was able to keep my grocery bill down to $317.64. Thank goodness since gas is so ridiculous!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Teaching Tips Daily my new blog launch

My MIL has told me on a few occasions that I should consider writing as a career. I have contemplated several times as to what direction I could take in the writing field. I decided that I would take my two passions and combine them into one: blogging and teaching. So yesterday I made my first post on my new blog: www.teachingtipsdaily.blogspot.com

I am hoping to post tips daily geared for parents with preschool aged children give ideas they can do at home to help their children learn. I am hoping to address all content areas such as math, reading, writing, social emotional, science, behavior, etc...

Eventually when my audience is high enough I may be able to earn a bit of money through advertising and links to products. We'll see. For now I am just going to have fun with it. If you have a chance stop by and check it out!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Our family celebration

We celebrated the girls birthday with just mommy and daddy tonight. I made each of them a cake. Aly wanted a frog cake and KK wanted an elephant cake. Aly wanted the same frog cake I had made her when she turned 3 so that was easy. However, I had never made an elephant cake before so I had to get my creative energy flowing.














For the frog I just used a 6" round cake pan and two cupcakes. For the elephant I used a 6" round cake pan, a banana for the trunk, and I took waffle cone bowls and broke them in half for the ears. They were both really excited about their cakes!













We made sure to have Aly blow out her candles first just so KK could watch and understand what it means to blow the candles out. We didn't want another repeat episode from the pool party on Saturday where she tried to eat the flame.













Fortunately KK did a good job and blew out one of her candles. She wasn't blowing hard enough to blow out all of them so Daddy helped. Aly really enjoyed her cake and for some reason was not using a fork????

















KK used a fork on her cake thank goodness. Here is KK opening one of her presents. The plush dinosaur Cera from her favorite movie The Land Before Time.


Aly just opened her musical card that signs, "Bare Necessities" She loved it!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Pictures from the pool party

Aly and KK loved their pool party. In the beginning KK would only walk the perimeter of the pool holding some one's hand but within time she got comfortable and went in the water. Aly requested that I make frog cupcakes this year so I did but decided to make them frog cookie cupcakes instead. I have to say they were so YUMMY! Best tasting cupcakes I have ever made. I won't show you the picture of my green teeth from eating them!












Aren't the frog cupcakes cute? I used mini m&m's for the eyes. It was so much fun making them and I know Aly really loved them so it was worth the time and effort!












Both of the girls have their Minnie Mouse suits on. KK is playing with her little friend Kristi and Aly is playing with her friend Dylyn.













Check out their green faces from eating the cupcakes. KK actually started eating her cupcake before I could even put a candle on it. She wouldn't stop eating it either until I got the candle on it.




Sticker Grandma put a party hat on and joined in on all of the fun. The girls were tired after their party and climbed into bed with Sticker Grandma. Aly read the story "Go, Dog, Go" by Dr. Suess to Sticker Grandma and KK.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy Birthday Video of the girls--KK tries to eat the flame!

The girls birthday party at the activity pool went great. All except one thing, blowing out the candle or should I say eating the candle. Poor KK didn't understand that she was supposed to blow the candle out so she tried to eat it instead. Thankfully my friend Cathy was in arms way and pushed her head out of the way just as she was trying to eat it. Watch the video and see!


video

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fairytale Tea Party Professional Pics Please Vote

We got our Fairytale Tea Party Pics back today. I am not quite sure what I think about them. Not sure if I like Aly's. I mean it is cute and all but I wish that in the picture on the left she was looking just a bit more in the camera's direction and the picture on the right she had a better smile.














I like one of KK's pictures but the critic in me thinks they should have zoomed out just a tad bit as they cut off the Teddy Bear.




So please help me decide if it is worth it to pay $20 to purchase an 8X10 of any of these pics. Let me know which ones you like. Tell me your favorite one for Aly and your favorite one for KK. They gave me one copy of each of these pics in a 4x6 so they are quite small.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Laptop Lunch boxes can't wait to get them


Last spring while I was surfing someone's blog I learned about Laptop Lunches. I really liked them but since I didn't need any at the time, I forgot about them. Well, now with Aly attending Kindergarten in August which will be a modified full day, they will need to take a lunch daily to school. With KK going to preschool on Tue/Thurs. she will need to bring a lunch as well. So I remembered Laptop Lunches. I couldn't remember the name and I didn't have it bookmarked but after doing a few quick searches on ebay I found them.


While they are not very stylish I really like the Tupperware in them, the fact that they don't contain any harmful chemicals found in many plastics, and the fact that I am not using a bunch of plastic ziplock bags for their lunches. I was sort of thinking though, my friend Annette has an embroidery machine so maybe I could buy the embroidery floss and template and have her embroider the girls names on their lunch bags and a frog for Aly and maybe an elephant for KK. We will see....


So I did an Internet search and the best rate I could find was on ebay. I spent $29 plus shipping and tax on each box. Since I wanted two it came to a total of $72. OUCH! Not something I normally splurge on but I think in the long run it will be worth it. I think these will last a long time. I could always just replace the cover or whatever begins to wear out each year. We will see. I should receive them within a week so I will let you know what I think. Check out their website if you are in the market for a lunchbox for your child. They really do look great!

And the mail came........


As I am sorting through todays mail I see the dreadful jury duty envelope. I know before even reading it that it is mine. Hubby just had jury duty a few months ago. I must admit I have been lucky the past two times I had jury duty. The first time Aly was 12 weeks old and I was nursing. Since nursing is a valid excuse I got out of it. Just as timing would have it around the time KK was four months old I got another jury duty summons. Of course I was nursing then so I got out of that one.
Now I have no excuse. Well, at least no excuse that they will accept. I have no physical or mental incapacity, I don't have verifiable obligation to care for a sick or aged dependent, I am no longer nursing, I haven't served on a Trial or Grand Jury in the past 12 months, I am not in the military, and I am not 70 years old. However, I am a full time SAHM and I really don't understand why that isn't an excuse. Who am I going to find to care for my girls for anywhere between 1 day to three months! I don't have childcare, I don't have family living near by, and my hubby works more than a normal full time job. I really do question why being a SAHM isn't on the list. I could definately verify that one. Look at my tax returns!
Well jury duty starts the week of July 8th and I am one of the early groups. So chances are I will be called. Maybe they won't select me though. Maybe I will not be what they are looking for. Only time will tell......

She tells no lies


So Aly just turned five years old this week and I am still waiting for her to go through her lying phase. It is so funny how honest she is. Today has been one of those days where the girls are fighting quite a bit. Each time KK usually gets hurt and every time I can count on Alyssa to tell me exactly what happen with every little detail. Each time she is totally tattling on herself. I quietly chuckle inside as I can't believe how honest she is. I can't believe she hasn't learned to fabricate or point the finger or place the blame elsewhere. I used to teach preschool so I remember that 4-5 year olds are very capable of lying, fabricating, and manipulating so I guess I should be thankful we haven't started that here.
Here is an example of what happened today:
I hear KK crying upstairs in the playroom. I call Aly and ask her what happened.
She says, "KK had a spider that I wanted and I tried to take it from her. She wouldn't let go so I got mad and pushed her. She fell down and hit some toys on the floor and that hurt her. I really wanted that spider!"
So I ask her, "Did KK have the spider first?" Aly replies, "Yes"
So off to a timeout she goes.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Aly's Fairytale TeaParty

Aly had her Fairytale Teaparty for her birthday at AnnieBerries and the girls had a great time. All of the girls arrived dressed up in the pretty dresses and were given fairytale wings and wands. Aly chose pink wings and KK chose purple. I really think KK enjoyed being with the big girls and doing what the big girls got to do. Although she liked shopping in the store a lot too!













We were able to have four people at the party so of course Aly and KK got to go. Aly choose her friends Jaiden and Maya to join her.











Jaiden picked the blue fairy wings which went so well with her dress. I believe Maya picked the purple ones.











The cookies were so good! I don't know who enjoyed them more, the girls or me! The picture on the right is Aly posing in their studio. We get a free 5x7 picture too. I will pick it up on Friday.









The girls colored fairy pictures at the table while they were taking pictures. After that they got to eat those yummy cookies while listening to a story.












Next they got to play Fairytale bingo using M&M's as their markers. Of course KK just ate the M&M's and she ate them so fast! I think she was afraid I would take them away from her!













Next Aly got to open a present from her friend. Check out the cute little frog on it! After presents the girls walked over to an ice cream shop and got to have cupcakes and ice cream. Yes, more sugar. Can you believe it? I forgot to mention they did have sandwiches and fruit. KK didn't eat any as she only had an appetite for SUGAR!




Aly actually didn't eat any ice cream and I think she only licked the frosting of her cupcake. KK was already on a sugar high at this point and she didn't end up eating any ice cream or the cupcake either.
The girls had a great time and will probably remember this forever!