Louise: 18 months

“For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin–real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way; something to be gotten though first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life, this perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no one. Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Alfred D’Souza

Dear Louise,

The quote above makes me think about the first time you got to stay up all night on New Year’s Eve.  You were so disappointed. You thought that all those years you went to bed early you were missing all the fun!

Once you were allowed to stay up late, you realized that it wasn’t quite like Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve at our house!  Life is like that.  You think that once you reach a goal, attain an age, gain an accomplishment, finish a project, find true love, then and only then will you be satisfied, fulfilled and happy.  The truth of the matter is that it’s not about all of the things that happen outside of you.  It’s all about what happens INSIDE of you, no matter where life takes you!

24 years ago, on this very day, you came into my life and brought with you happiness, love and much joy <3   Now, never a day goes by that I don’t think of you and smile.  May all of your days be filled with everything wonderful that life has to offer, as you find yourself and achieve your goals (inside or out!).

Happy birthday Louise! I love you so very much!  BIG HUGS!



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With Ben’s birthday this month, I was on the hunt for some new games for his Leapster 2.  I ran across a great deal at the Just Between Friends sale that I posted about last month.  I ended up getting him 14 new games for basically nothing!  Then I realized that the case he was using to hold the 14 games he already had would NOT hold 14 more games!  He was using a padded, zippered black cosmetic bag to keep all his games in and would just keep the Leapster loose without being in a case.

I started looking for a case for his Leapster that would also hold all (soon to be) 28 Leapster games.  Most of the cases on the market hold 1 or 2 games and also the Leapster but I needed something better than that.  I determined that it would be great if it was “padded” and could hold everything and had a handle.  Then it occurred to me that we had a few leftover lunchboxes from the past few school years!

I quickly dug out last years Star Wars lunch box and sure enough everything fit!  It is one of those “soft-sided” lunchboxes so it was padded too!  Of course it also had the handle!  Another plus is that it will hold MANY more games!  Whoop!  I love it when I come across a solution that works for FREE using something I already had on hand!

Needless to say, Ben is loving the new “Leapster case” because he loved that Star Wars lunch box! I can’t wait to see his face when he gets the 14 new games I got for him too! Here is what it looks like inside with everything in it (before the new games are added) !

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With two of my girls grown and out on their own (and even out of the state!) I find that sometimes the easiest way to keep up with what’s going on is to check their Facebook accounts.  The problem with that is I don’t want to be a Mom all over their page, you know?  So, I am always on the lookout for new ways to post on their page so that they know I am thinking about them while at the same time not embarrassing them and causing their friends to ask “Hey, what’s up with your Mom??!?!?!?”

I had no idea what the heck a “meme” was until my girls started talking about them.  Then I started seeing Ryan Gosling “Hey Girl” memes popping up on Louise’s page and I knew I had to get in on this!  The one at the top of this post is one I recently added to her Facebook page. I thought it was hysterical ~ HA! (Let me just say that if Ryan Gosling did add me as a Facebook friend, I would not have time to post to my daughter’s pages!).

Here is a meme to explain what a meme is:


These things are SO fun!  They are also a cool way just to let someone know you are thinking of them without cyber-stalking them or looking too serious.  All I do to find them is click over to Google and do an image search for what ever I am looking for plus the word “meme”.

So, if you wanted one for a friends birthday and they love poodles, you would do an image search for “poodle meme” and then you might post THIS to their page:

AAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!  See!  Isn’t that funny!  So, let’s say they love sandwiches.  Go to Google and do an image search for “sandwich meme”.  If you have ever worked at an office, then you can relate to the meme below:

See!  Memes are easy, fun and free!  There are also memes for birthdays, holidays, special occasions, jokes, celebrities, inspiration, etc.  Now that you know what they are and how to use them appropriately and you won’t have to be clueless like this poor lady:


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Usually I host family get-togethers at my house.  It is easier on Ben (the Autism just doesn’t make it easy to travel to other houses).  I always make a TON of food and anyone who wants to take home leftovers is more than welcome to take some home.  This brings up the issue of what to put it in.

A few years ago I noticed that whenever I was getting ready for family dinners, since I was making so much food, I would have several plastic bowls with lids that would normally go into the garbage (sour cream bowls, cottage cheese bowls, cool whip bowls, etc).  While I don’t like to keep these for storage here at my house (I tend to use more heavy duty storage containers), I realized that it would be great to have them on hand for whenever someone wants to take home leftovers from my house!  No need to worry about returning the bowl, they can either keep it for themselves or throw it away!  Plus, at least they get used at least one more time before going into the trash 🙂
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This post is long overdue but because I am such a fan of ALWAYS getting the most for my money, I am going to post it anyhow!  Keep in mind that when you are trying to get the  best bang for your buck, the best value may not be the one you think it is!

Last year, for Dane’s birthday, I wanted to get him tickets to a hockey game.  He is a HUGE fan of the sport and I thought it would be fun to totally surprise him! I am not much of a sports fan, but I know I could make it through one game of hockey.  So the search for tickets started.

I quickly realized that tickets to an NHL game were out of the question and so I decided to look for good seats at a local Solar Bears game here in Orlando.  I really didn’t want to get my tickets via Craigslist because I personally like to have some sort of buyer’s protection to fall back on, so I looked on Ebay.  I noticed that there were cheap tickets and then there were “Legends” seating tickets.  Now, I had NO idea what that meant so I did a little research and boy was I in for a surprise!

Regular tickets for a Solar Bears game run about $17 per ticket for just a regular seat, in the nosebleed section.  Once I started digging deeper, I started seeing the “Legends” tickets and I found a “Buy it Now” pair of tickets for $70 total.   Now knowing that I could have gotten a pair of tickets in regular seating for $34 or so, you are wondering WHY would she pay double that? Trust me, I have FABULOUS reasons!

The Legends suites here at the Amway Center are incredible!  This is what the Legends tickets included:

  • All-inclusive food and beverage (FULL unlimited dinner buffet as well as popcorn, chips, pretzels and a dessert bar * unlimited soda, beer and wine)
  • One (1) parking pass for every two (2) seats
  • Private box area exclusive to Legends Suites members (GREAT seats to watch the game)
  • Private, exclusive suite located on the Loge & Club Level (where the buffet is served and you can also sit there and eat and watch the game instead of going to your box seat)
  • Access to club lounges and club restaurant
  • Private restrooms on Club Level

Now, let’s look at the math:

  • Value of dinner buffet, snacks and drinks EASILY over $25 per person = $50
  • Value of parking pass = $15
  • Value of actual seating tickets = $35
  • Value of private restrooms = Priceless 😉

I paid $70 and the value of these tickets was well over $100 (seriously the food was incredible and this is a place where one beer costs $10!).  If we had gone to dinner first it would have easily cost us over $50 at even a casual dining place like Olive Garden.  This is a situation where I paid extra because I knew it was an all-inclusive deal and it would make an AWESOME birthday gift!  We had a great time and would definitely do this again (if the price was right!)!

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There are two WONDERFUL reasons that today is special!

First, today is my daughter Shelby’s birthday!  She is turning 13!  I can’t believe how time has flown by!  She has grown up so fast and I am super proud of her for tackling things that no one else in the family would dare to try (like play the trombone!)! Shelby rocks!

The second thing that makes this a special day is that early this morning at 3:35 a.m. my first grandchild was born!  My daughter Coral and her fiance’ Tyler welcomed their son, Tristan, into this big wide world!  This is SO exciting for us!  He is just precious!  Although they were hoping to get a 12-12-12 baby, he is lucky enough to get to share his birthday with his Aunt Shelby!

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The wishlist is a very important part of my family life.  With four children of my own and my first grandchild on the way, holidays and birthdays tend to always function on wish list overload.  Right now there are so many toy catalogs and flyers out and about and Ben seems to find them all!  That sometimes makes it difficult to decide what to purchase when the “i wants” are changing on a daily, if not hourly basis.

I am an active list maker.  I find myself writing down gift ideas all year long.  This includes writing down things that I want.  Of course, most of the things I want are books, movies or cd’s.  Here is how I handle and organize all that information into a FREE and easy to use format that allows me to get the most for my money, no matter who I am buying something for.

  • Family members make their wish lists for birthdays and holidays and we make sure that everyone gets a copy of all the lists (email, facebook, website posting, text, phone call, whatever)
  • I tend to research gift ideas on my childrens wish lists in advance of when I actually am going to purchase them.  This is so I know what the regular price of the larger items are and so that I am able to recognize a good sale when I see it!
  • I go over to Amazon.com and log into my Amazon account.  I keep a wish list over there that I am constantly adding and deleting items from.
  • I will add the larger items to my wishlist so that I can easily look at the wish list and see what all the current prices are with one click of a button.
  • In the case of books, cd’s, movies and video games:  I use a wishlist over at Half.com     If you have never been on Half.com  let me give you a brief intro.  Half.com is owned by Ebay so if you have an Ebay account, you use the same info to log into Half.com  Over at Half.com you are able to get dvd’s, cd’s, video games, books, and even vhs tapes for as little as 75 cents each (plus shipping)!  Half.com is the FIRST site I visit if I am shopping for any of these types of items.
  • Once it is close enough to the actual holiday or birthday I check my online wishlists again to see how the prices are and plan my buying strategy, make my purchases and have them sent to the house. This really eliminates SOOOOO much hassle and overspending and I usually have money left over!
  • If I am just looking for some books or things I want for myself (no holiday or anything) I will pull up my Half.com wish list and then look to see which of those books my library has.  Then I place them on hold at the library and delete them from the wishlist.  That way I can read them for free! If the library doesn’t carry the book that I am looking for then I will compare prices on Half.com and Amazon.com to see which one is the best price.
  • POINT OF INTEREST:  I also tend to sell books, cds, dvds, video games, etc that we are done with on Half.com  it works a little bit different from Ebay but I actually like it better!  There are no “listing fees”.  They just take a commission off the item when it sells.  They also have a set shipping amount that you get credit for, etc.

Hopefully the wish list tips I have shared will allow you to get organized and get more for your money this holiday season!

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This year is Coral’s 20th birthday and although I would love to reminisce and tell embarrassing stories about her during her childhood, this year is a little more special. From this point forward, she will be getting birthday cards addressed to her as “Mommy”!  Yep, that’s right Coral is expecting her first child in December which will make me a Grandmother!  So, to my beautiful daughter that is about to become a mother, I wish for you a year full of surprises and blessings!  This next year is going to be a great one!

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I can hardly believe that today my oldest daughter turns 23!  Can I really be that old?  It seems like just yesterday I was counting her tiny baby toes at the hospital and marveling at how perfect she was!  Red hair and all!  Louise, I love you and I am so proud of you!  You are so sure of yourself and your path in life and I admire that and, truth be told, am somewhat envious of you!  I hope that your birthday is everything you want it to be (meaning that I hope Ryan Gosling calls you just to say “Hey girl!  Happy Birthday!”)!

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