Thursday, June 26, 2008

Moving Time

While still a little imperfect, our new blog is active, so we'll be posting there to escape the word verification spam blog mess. Join us at

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Too Tired to be Tightwads

Tightwad Tuesday is taking a short hiatus due to vacation-induced insanity. It'll be back by next week, we hope.

On the up side:
  • We're having lovely visits with various family members featuring fireworks and planting with my mom and baseball with my dad.
  • Natalie is starting to relax around the dogs, walking by them independently, talking to them, and even offering her hand for them to sniff.
  • The frenzied getting into everything that we witnessed the other day was partially related to fatigue and overexcitement about our arrival. With a little more rest and settling in, Natalie is a little less...manic. Which is nice.
On the down side:
  • The process of importing to WP has been less than smooth, so our move has been delayed. They've reset the new blog now, so as soon as we can redo stuff and (hopefully) successfully import, we'll send you to our new address.
  • My mom has pantry moths. Rather thoroughly. Jen and I spent the afternoon/evening cleaning out the pantry, throwing things away, putting other things in bins for observation, washing shelves, etc. More to do tomorrow, though the really intense stuff is finished. While oddly satisfying, it was also more than a little exhausting.
  • My mom got a call yesterday morning from family in Pittsburgh. My uncle's decades-long battle with HIV/AIDS has ended. This is not unexpected, but still a time of many emotions for my family. We'll have a memorial service full of his music at the end of July.
And now, we're off to bed.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cars 2, Vacation 0

Urgh. Now we have a flat. Not only do we have a flat, but I'm pretty sure it's the tire we had to replace a few months ago (when we discovered that our lovely, affordable, decent-mileage, 6-seater-but-not-a-minivan has ludicrously expensive tires). They've been rotated, so I am not 100% sure, but about 98%. Anyway, earlier in the week, Cait noticed that it had picked up a screw in this tire, so before we left I took it by our mechanic, who pulled the screw and said it hadn't punctured all the way through. He put some goop on it and it didn't bubble so no air was escaping. And I made sure to tell him we were driving 600+ miles in the next few days.

So now we wait for the roadside people to come and change the tire. (Yes, we can change a tire but you know, 1. we pay for the roadside assistance, 2. this is supposed to be a vacation, 3. we're indoors with a sleeping child and Internet access, 4. it's raining and 5. does there need to be a 5? Oh, yeah, the lug nuts on these wheels are a total bitch to unscrew, as we learned last time.) Then it's off to the tire store, hopefully to have it plugged rather than to buy another new tire or two.

And there IS NO SUCH THING as a vacation with a 2 year old. Grandma's house is like one big booby trap and we spend all our time keeping her out of stuff. Plus, she's terrified of the big, lovable dog who would love to play with her.

On the other hand, we aren't working, we have tons of relatives around dying to see us, and there are fireworks in our future. It ain't all bad.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Indirect Route

I'm glad we didn't continue to blog our road trip via text messages, as we didn't realize they were getting caught in the spam filter. Grrr. The migration to WP will be completed in less than 24 hours, I daresay.

Anyway, we arrived, safe and sound, if a little insane earlier this evening. We did our typical 600 miles in 2 days (stopping over at great-grandma's), with visits to practically every rest stop between points A, B, and C. (A potty training toddler, a rather pregnant mom, and a menstruating mom is NOT a good road trip combo!) Natalie did a great job -- but a great job for a two year old DOES involve a lot of repetitive questioning, insistence on "Natalie music!" at all times, often the same CD, track, or phrase (not always granted), frequent demands to "Eat!", and not much napping at all. Cait and I planned to keep ourselves awake and focused by discussing name options for (not-so?) wee Carbo, but really didn't get much of anywhere (other than Anna... but we couldn't decide on a middle name. One? Two? Onetwothree?).

We did recover from the adrenaline rush and terror of the near-miss at the start of our trip. It was truly terrifying and miraculous. The driver of the SUV lost control of his car, went up on the embankment, struck a very tall (metal) lamppost, and spun across 4 lanes of traffic, slamming into the wall of the underpass and coming to a stop. He did not hit any other vehicles and seemed fine as we drove past (others were stopping to lend aid). The lamppost (at least 40 feet tall) broke in two, hovered above our roof and windshield for a heart-stopping eternity, and then crashed to the shoulder, hitting no one. Natalie was oblivious to the entire incident, I shook and heaved silently for a few minutes after we continued on, and Cait muttered "I can't believe it didn't hit us" repeatedly.

So now we're at Grandma's and we've already paid a visit to Grandpa. We hope to do a lot of relaxing, reading, Samurai Sudoku, and just general hanging out for the next couple of weeks. Midwestern blogfriends, we're also up for getting together - drop us a line if you want to hang out!

Next stop: WP.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Car in front of us spun out of control across the beltway. Sent lamppost flying into the air directly above our car. Somehow everyone ok. Still shaking.

9:51. Before even leaving the parking lot: eat? Natalie music? Green eggs and ham? Gonna be a long drive.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

3 months to go?!?!?

3 months to go?!?!?, originally uploaded by jrustdc.

Holy cannoli. I feel like a whale! I cannot believe I am going to grow and grow and grow for 12 more weeks! I am definitely bigger than I was at this point with Natalie.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tightwad WEDNESDAY: We're from the Internet and We're Here to Help

So far so good - no outages at home or school, and I was even able to upload some files that were so big that they'd previously overwhelmed our outdated upload bandwidth! In honor of this, and since folks were asking for it, AND since it was what was on my mind anyway, we'll make the Internet the focus of this week's TT (or TW, in this case).

How do you use online resources to help you save money? (Or conversely... how does the Internet derail your savings strategies?) Since I haven't beaten the fuel cost dead horse QUITE thoroughly enough, I'll start with two gas related items, but have some others to share as well.
  • There are myriad websites to help you find the cheapest gas station in a given locale. GasBuddy was quite current but its map interface isn't particularly user friendly. GasPriceWatch has a great map interface, but had dated prices in the three test areas I used (my neighborhood, where I work, and Cait's mom's neighborhood, where we'll soon be visiting). Mapquest's site really puts it in context, with national low and high prices listed at the top of the page. Their map is relatively simple to operate (with all of the Mapquest quirks you know and hate) but they don't have a lot of station data. None is perfect, but I went ahead and bookmarked GasBuddy.
  • That $60 gadget I linked to last week? It's SO primitive, compared to THIS gizmo! Again, $160 is not exactly a tightwad approach but reviews and articles I've read suggest that most people would see at least a 5% improvement in fuel economy - so it would pay for itself within a year or two for most people.
  • The best way to save money online, of course, is to shop around. You need to factor in shipping costs, but we have bought all kinds of things in bulk online (everything from OTC medicines to cereal) cheaper than we could have locally. Often the big name sites are good for this, if you know the price you need to beat.
  • Price comparison and product review sites like epinions, MySimon, and the-website-formerly-known-as-Froogle can be useful, too, although I can end up wasting a lot of time and not end up finding much of a deal.
  • Good ole Google is sometimes my best online savings assistant. I try to remember always to search for coupons and deals before buying anything online, and have sometimes come up with really good deals. (And some duds - if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.)
There are tons of other sites and ways to save money... what are your favorites?

I plan to update the post with any links you provide in the comments, and will try to do so as quickly as possible. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!