Sunday, February 28, 2010

Play More Video Games

We told Paige this morning she needs to play more video games.  Most of you are probably looking at the screen thinking I'm nuts.  I probably am, but that's another post entirely.  We had some friends over yesterday and their kids have never played Wii.  We've had ours for so long that we think of it as just another gadget sitting next to the TV.  Don't get me wrong, we play it, but it's not some special let's get it out and play.  For these kids it was.  It reminded me that we've gotten to the point where we play it mostly after Paige has gone to bed.  We get into our usual after work routine and just forget it's there to play with.  After Paige is in bed and we're relaxing on the couch we'll get out the guitars and play Beatles Rockband, or I'll do my Active, or we'll play another game.  All of it after she's in bed.

Watching how much fun she had playing last night, we realized she's not playing video games nearly enough.  If we want to raise a proper Geeky Gaming Daughter, we need to get her playing more now.  She's young enough that we can make a definite impression on her that will last a lifetime.  We enjoy video games in this house.  Ronnie and I came home from school every afternoon as kids and played our Atari systems.  I went the Nintendo route, where he went the Playstation route.  Now we've agreed on Wii and are sticking with it. We're trying to reach that good balance of playing outside, inside with toys, and time sitting in front of the TV holding a game controller.  This morning we made her play more Mario Kart.  And she liked it.  That's my girl.

Monday, February 22, 2010

There's an App for that

After several family members asked me what that meant, I realized not everyone knew.  App as in application.  The iPhone says they have an app for everything.  And you know what?  I think that could be true.  I've had my iPhone for about 6 months now I guess.  I absolutely love it.  It's easy to use and everything is right there at the touch of your fingertips.  Having used it for a while now, I've found some apps that really make life easier.

Tozzle- This one is a matching game for preschoolers.  The phone as a scene in it, such as dinosaurs or fairies. Pieces of the scene are blacked out shapes.  Your child drags the full color version from the puzzle piece box to the correct location.  

Google- You can control it with your voice.  Push the Google app button, speak what you want to find, and it brings up the correct websites.  Works pretty good too.  In fact, when my computer at work freezes up, I use my iPhone to Google the answers I need.

Wikipedia- Works the same as the website, only faster to get to.

USAA- I have to say, my banks app is the best one I've found.  Not everyone can open an account, it caters to the military.  I joined when I was still active duty, so I'm in for life.  But, back to the app.  It rocks!  Need to check your balance?  You can do that of course.  But what makes this one special is the other stuff you can do: transfer money in or out of a mutual fund, get help when you have a car accident (they're mostly an insurance company) and deposit a check, all from your iPhone.  Yep, you read that correctly.  If I need to deposit a check no need to go to the bank.  Whew!  They're only branch is in Texas.  All I have to do is take a picture of it with my iPhone and it's in my back immediately. Playing with the accident section of the app just now I realized it has a built in flashlight. Kinda cool.

Facebook- As a Facebook kind of person, I like being able to access it from my iPhone.  

SciFiWire- Get the latest news on the SciFi front.  A must in this house.

Fandango- Find your movie and purchase tickets, all while stuck in traffic on the way to the movies.

Local TV stations- A couple of our local stations have apps where you can check the latest news.

Lego Photo- You can turn an existing picture into a Lego-ized picture.  Or take a new one.  The old photo isn't messed up, the new Lego version saves as a new picture.

There are lots of others, but these are some of my favorites. I have also found apps with pick up lines for chicks (really funny) or one to tell you if you've drank too much to drive.  

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Relay 4 Life

Relay 4 Life is at the end of April.  Our team has been raising money since just after it ended last year.  For the 3 of us who are the major fund raising effort, me, K and M, it's been a long year.  M makes lunch for the office every Wednesday.  Lunch costs $5 to eat, M donates the ingredients.  We've taken turns baking goodies to sell at work.  Reese's cupcakes were a huge hit at 75 cents each.  Want another good way to keep busy accountants happy during tax season? Have a stash of chocolate and potato chips for sale.  K keeps them locked up in her desk.  I'm thinking of brownies for tomorrow.  Last week was pointless to make anything.  Our Girl Scout cookies were delivered.  We've been eating cookies all week.

Now, we need some help.  We didn't really have a team name last year.  This year we want something good.  We've been trying to come up with something, but haven't.  K is the organizer.  As a teenager she survived non Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Another coworker is about to mark his 2 year anniversary of beating Hodgkins Lymphoma.  We would like a name that centers around one of these words.  Please post some name suggestions in the comments.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Funny

Paige: "Daddy, does McDonald's take your card?"
Daddy: "Why, Paige?"
Paige: "Because I want French Fries."

How can that not make you laugh?  At the ripe old age of 4 Paige has figured out the debit card.  I'm sure it was bound to happen.  This is the child who learned how to use my iPhone as soon as I got it.  And is great at computer games.

Oh, and yes, she got her French Fries when Daddy stopped laughing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

They're home!

Ronnie and Paige made it home this afternoon.  I'm sure there are pictures to come.  I'm getting all the details now of the trip.  Mardi Gras in New Orleans is always fun.  Family and friends come in from all over.  I do know that Paige got sick.  Nothing big, just her sinuses.  Poor thing inherited my sinus problems.  But for now they're home safe and sound.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pink hair

Maybe tax season makes me so stressed I want to do something different.  Maybe I'm just a weird person.  Either way, I went for a haircut Saturday afternoon.  I had to leave work to do it.  Aunt Wii started by trimming up my hair.  I'm growing my hair out from a pixie, and that requires regular cuts.  If you don't, you start looking like you're trying to grow the best mullet in town.  

Once the dreaded mullet was gone, it was time for some fun.  Pink highlights seemed like they would be fun. Something different at least. Now, I do still have to go work everyday.  Showing up with pink hair may be fine if you work for Hot Topic (LOVE that store) or your a hairdresser.  Showing up with pink hair in an accounting firm?  That may not be the best idea.  We went with something a bit more subtle.  Aunt Wii put the highlights below the top layer of hair.  This way I can brush the hair over it, or pull it back to show off the pink.

It's not permanent.  The color will wash out in a few weeks.  By the time it does I'll probably be ready to try the green.  It's sitting on Aunt Wii's shelf ready to go.  The question now is how it will go over at work.  I told my supervisor I was thinking of doing it and she asked if I was crazy.  Of course I answered yes, I mean come on, I'm an accountant, of course I'm crazy.  The next thing she said was that it would be cool.  Wonder what the big boss will say.  For that matter, I wonder if Ronnie will like it. He's in New Orleans and hasn't seen it.  I'm not even sure I told him I was doing it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Quiet house

Ronnie and Paige left for New Orleans this morning.  As they were driving off for Mardi Gras, I was headed in to work.  Yeah, my Saturday was spent in the office.  I did leave in time to get my hair cut.  I'll post pictures of the new cut tomorrow.  I'm sitting here in a nice quiet house.  The only sounds are my typing and NCIS.  No cartoons, no whining about wanting a shower instead of a bath, no yelling Mommy every few minutes. I do get to smell the corned beef in the slow cooker though.

While I wish I could be in New Orleans with them, I'm enjoying the quiet time.  It's nice to get a Mommy break every once in a while.  I have some big plans for the week.  I'll work a lot, do some housecleaning, and get some scrapbooking done.  At least I hope so.  I'm about to pull everything out of the craft cabinet and set it out on the table.

One room I don't need to clean is the living room. Paige picked up all of her toys yesterday.  And she didn't complain once.  I hear all parents of headstrong 3 and 4 year olds perking their ears.  How is that possible? How did I manage to get my 4 year old to want to pick up her toys.  Very simple, I used the tool all good parents use: bribery.  Paige & I made cupcakes yesterday.  As I was icing them she was happily picking up her toys.  She couldn't get a pink cupcake with pink sprinkles until she picked up her toys.  That's probably the fastest I've ever seen her pick up her toys.  Once you've mastered that one, I'll tell you the parenting tip I got from Marc.  He said it's his best parenting tip ever, and I have to agree.  It's pretty good.  I like a little tease every now and then.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My Little Geek

We're sitting on the couch watching the snow when Paige decides she wants to play telephone.  Very high tech game here.  I hold my pinky and thumb to my ear to make a phone as I say "ring, ring" and Paige answers my iPhone.  I ask who I'm speaking to, and she says "The Doctor."  The way she said it I immediately thought of The Doctor.

Paige asked me how she could help me.  I told her we had Daleks in the kitchen.  She didn't bat an eye.  I asked her if she could come over with her sonic screwdriver and get rid of them.  She got it from her toy box (to the untrained eye it just looked like a View Master) and went to the kitchen.  I heard a few noises and she comes running back saying she got rid of them.

That was fast.  She was faster than The Doctor when he gets rid of them.  And unlike David Tennant, Paige says they are gone for good.  I can only hope.  Daleks aren't nice.  And for the record, I am a fan of David Tennant, and am reserving judgement on the new Doctor.  I will say he's not nearly as cute though.  There should be enough links in here for the non-SciFi readers to understand what I just said.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Day!!

Yep, you read that right.  We're getting a snow day tomorrow.  I live in Alabama.  I don't expect a snow day.  Ever.  But we're getting one.  The forecast is for 2-4 inches of accumulated snow by mid-morning tomorrow.  Daycare is closed of course.  Paige and I will spend the day snuggled up on the couch together.  Not sure what to do with ourselves.  We definitely don't want to be out in the weather.  People around here can't drive in rain much less anything else.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Taxes, Mardi Gras, and a sick little girl

The title about sums up my life these days.  First, it's tax season.  I know all of you getting your tax refunds and spending them are enjoying this season.  As an accountant, yes and no.  This is our busy season, which I enjoy.  There have been weeks last year where I've searched for things to do.  That's definitely not the case here.  I've been working 10 and 12 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week, and I'm still not even caught up.  The stack on my desk is getting smaller, but it's still there.

Mardi Gras is this coming weekend.  Ronnie and Paige will be making the annual trip to New Orleans without me again this year.  I did get to go 2 years ago, but I usually miss it.  Why do I usually miss it?  See the above paragraph please.  I'm very jealous this year that I can't go.  You see, I've made some good friends on a Mommy board.  Some of them will be coming in from places like Houston and New Hampshire (I think- I know it's somewhere up there) to New Orleans for Mardi Gras this year.  Ronnie and Paige will get to meet them, but I won't.  And yes, I do find it odd that my husband gets to meet the girls from the Mommy board before I do.

Finally is a sick little girl.  Ronnie got the call from daycare yesterday that she had thrown up.  After a few more episodes last night she's all better now.  Of course, she can't go to daycare today.  Ronnie and I are switching off the day: I'm home the first half and he'll be home after lunch to relieve me.  I'll be working late tonight to try to get caught up.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super What?

There's a game on?  Really?  I know there's something called the Super Bowl.  I thought that was when all these great commercials came on. They are packaged around some sort of sporting event, but do people really watch it?  I'm finding the answer to that must be a definite yes.  We live in an area where the Saints are the team to watch.

At least now they are the team to watch.  There are more and more people who have jumped on the bandwagon as the season went on.  I can honestly say that Ronnie and I aren't fans.  He grew up in New Orleans when they wore Schewgmans bags to the games and called the team the Ain'ts, not the Saints.  He's a Steelers fan.  I don't like football.  The others in the house, Unc, Aunt Wii, the boys, they are Saints fans.  I'm not talking about the people in this house.  There are lots of people of Facebook who were never fans who all of a sudden are.  There are also lots of people I see around in person who are the same.

I'm so tired of hearing Who dat a hundred times a day.  I never heard it when the Saints were losing.  Personally, I'm ready for the game to be over.  Based on the sounds coming from next door, I'm not sure how the game is going.  Paige just came in here and reported she's eating broccoli at a Super Bowl party.  I must go check this out for myself.  I'm sure she ate chips over there, but broccoli?  She says it was cooked, not crunchy (her words for raw veggies).  Something isn't right. I just don't see Aunt Wii cooking broccoli for the party.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Saving money on groceries

I've blogged about this in the past, but thought it might be good to revisit it.  We were at a birthday party over the weekend discussing groceries, healthy dinners and how we all need to save more money.  Typical conversation when sitting in a room full of Moms and Dads; especially with the state of the economy.  Ronnie mentioned I had gotten our routine bi-weekly grocery bill down to about $50 lots of Moms starting asking questions.

First, I must say that we do have grocery bills that are significantly higher, but this is our normal bill.  It can be hard to adjust to my way of doing things, simply because it's a completely different routine.  For the most part it's very simple.  You may find a better way of doing things, you'll need to figure out a routine for yourself, and find something that fits your family.

We begin by making a two week menu.  I lay it out by day, although the days can be moved around to fit our needs.  When you do this, make sure you build in several left over nights depending on the amount you usually have left over.  In order to make the menu, I look over what we have in the freezer and pantry.  I try to base meals on what we have.  Once the menu is done, I make out the grocery list for what we need.  There are always basics that will need to go on there: milk, bread, cat food, toothpaste, basics that every house needs.

By basing a menu on what we have I can lower our larger bi-weekly grocery shopping bills.  The between weeks are usually for small things like milk and bread.  Now you're probably asking yourself how I can base a menu on what's in the pantry if I'm only spending $50 a week.  That's where the larger grocery bills come in.  We stock up on meats every couple of months.  I watch for our grocery stores (not Wal Mart) to put meats on sale.  Winn Dixie will do a lot of buy one get one free deals.  Pot roast is buy one get one free?  I buy 2 and get 2 free.  You can do a lot with a roast, and that's where the next step comes in.  Another money saving idea is pork loin.  We don't buy pork chops, instead we buy a Hormel pork loin at Sams.  We can pick up one for $10 or so.  Ronnie cuts it and we freeze it into serving portions.  We can get 5 or 6 meals from one of them depending on the size.  We do use Sams for other things we can buy in bulk and store: toilet paper, olives, cat food, things that store well.

The final portion of this is freezer cooking.  Remember those 4 pot roasts?  Take one and put it in the Crock Pot with some carrots, potatoes, onions, and let it cook all day.  Cool it down, portion it out, and freeze it.  While it's cooking, start some other things cooking.  Ronnie will cook 5 or 6 different things in one day.  Ideas that freeze well are beans (red and black being a favorite in this house), stews, soups, meatloaf, gumbo, and etouffee.  He cooks large batches at a time, then freezes in portion sizes.  Freezer cooking makes for very easy healthy meals during the week.  Cooking a pot of red beans is very cheap.  A bag or two of Camilla beans, onions, sausage, some seasoning.  When we plan for red beans, they come out of the freezer the night before and go into the fridge.  Get home the next night, warm them up while cooking some rice and grilling sausage on the Foreman grill.  Red beans and rice may not be the healthiest meal in the world, but I do think it's better than the fast food a lot of people are eating most nights.  And it's only an example.  We do lots of other things.  Last night was grilled tilapia.  We get a large box of individually frozen filets, and fix it with cous cous and a veggie.

Give it a try.  It's hard to plan for two weeks at a time, so try for just a week.  Don't forget left over night or you'll end up with a fridge full of food at the end of the week.  Trust me on this, learn from my mistake.