L-O-N-G Month Ahead

So, I ordered a new laptop.

It looks pretty!

Online.

I haven’t seen it in “real life,” just in cyber life.

I was going to go to a store and buy one, but Sissy said, “You’re killing me, Smalls!” and told me to order directly from the manufacturer.

I did what she said, because Smalls would not like to be responsible for killing Sissy..

I went to Dell, found what I wanted, spent an hour messing with all the little nuances acquainted with personalizing a laptop, got an AWESOME photo editing program and hit “BUY IT!”

*This is where I would have uploaded a cute little picture of my new laptop, but I can’t because this ISN”T MY COMPUTER!*

It said, “Ships Next Business Day!”

It doesn’t.

Dude, Dell LIED!

The cute switchable lid shipped.

The AWESOME photo editing program shipped.

The laptop should arrive, “On or before February 28, 2012.”

To say I’m frustrated would be an extreme exaggeration!

I got to “chat” with one of their customer care representatives.

This was actually quite funny, because this was his opening line:

Agent (Kanwar_R): “Welcome to Dell US Chat! My name is Rick and I will be your Customer Care Expert.

Dude, Kanwar is Rick!

I know there really isn’t anything funny about the guys name, maybe it’s just hysterical, frustrated brain talking, but I just starting laughing!

He was quite polite, but couldn’t quite grasp (or possibly care) that the website says one thing while they are sending me emails that say something quite different!

I told him I wanted some sort of recompense for this MONTH LONG wait for my new machine.

He was nice enough to give me a $25 gift certificate to be used on a future purchase.

‘Cuz, ya know I’m going to run right out and buy something else from them!

He was also nice enough to upgrade my shipping to “Overnight”…

I could just drive from Middle-of-Nowhere, TN to a store that sells computers (I don’t count Wally World), but then I would have wasted an hour trying to personalize my new laptop to just exactly what I wanted!

That and now I’ve got it in my head and the Ranger would tell you that once it’s in my head that’s the way it has to be!

So, I’ll be attempting to thrill you with my witty writings while awaiting my cute little laptop. I’ll be saving my photos for the new machine. Sorry.

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Dearly Beloved, It Was a Pretty Laptop. I Will Miss It.

Why have I not posted lately?

Why have I been ignoring my blog?

I am going crazy.

Seriously.

A few months ago I lost my WiFi for a weekend and I thought I would cry!

Wait…I think I actually did cry?

But that was NOTHING!

N-O-T-H-I-N-G I say! Especially when compared to having my computer go *burp* and *sizzle* and then die.

hp

This time I really did cry.

My motherboard crashed and burned.

My life was on that laptop! Well, my virtual life anyways.

Gone were nearly a year’s worth of research notes and an article.

Gone was two years worth of photos and blog posts.

Gone was my Curriculum Vitae!

The research article was already written and is being published as we speak. I was okay there.

A good many of my photos are either already on my blog, Flikr or SnapFish, and blog articles are already floating in cyberspace. I could survive that.

But my Curriculum Vitae! That one I sobbed over!

For those wondering exactly what that is, basically it is an extremely detailed resume that lists everything I’ve done professionally and academically. Mine was several pages long and took me several days to write. More importantly I was waiting for a link so I could attach it and send it to a university for a job.

But my Sissy gave me hope!

THANKS, SISSY!

She’s super computer smart! That’s why she gets paid the BIG bucks to run an I.T. department!

Usually she tells me to step back while she fixes my computer remotely, but this time she said that my computer was dead, however, my hard drive could be saved!

I swear I hear the hallelujah chorus ringing somewhere!

She had me take it to this lovely place, it’s called a “computer repair shop,” where they took my hard drive out of the laptop and hooked it up to their laptop, then they took my portable hard drive and hooked it up to the same computer and BAM! 14 hours later they handed it to me with everything intact (except my laptop)!

It was kinda like watching a blood transfusion – from one body, through a machine and into the next body.

Did you know it costs almost the same amount of money to replace a motherboard as it costs to purchase an entirely NEW, yes I said NEW, computer?

In my case it does.

My old laptop has been recycled.

I am now on the look out for a new laptop.

I’m hoping this one lasts more than 2-years.

BTW, in case you were wondering. I never did have to re-send that Curriculum Vitae. Turns out they had one on file for a position I had already applied for! I got the job and I start next week! GO ME! I’m so very excited!

Goal 2: I Like’a Mah Coupons

So most of you know that I like a mah coupons. (If you didn’t know that, please refer to the tab above that reads, “Coupon Crazy”)

Okay, so it’s a little more than like…

…it’s L-O-V-E…

…it’s rather obsessive if you must know the truth.

Goal 2 this year is to save $1,000 (complete with Dr. Evil pinky to the corner of my mouth) through the use of coupons.
Don’t even ask what I’ll use that money for at the end of the year…

…it probably won’t last that long!

What I mean is that hope to NOT spend $1,000 on our groceries and household items using coupons so that the funds may be appropriated to a different item in the Accidental Family Budget…mainly those pesky things like clothes, shoes, trumpets and violins for two growing mini-chicks.

This may be more difficult than it sounds, ‘cuz I’m about to completely re-examine how I coupon. I’m supposed to be starting a new full-time job in a few weeks and with that new job will be a serious lack of time for me to be all OCD about my coupons!

Coupon stock

I’ll let you know how it goes!

And, as I add up my figures I’m going to include something that most articles and television shows fail to mention, the cost of the coupons themselves. There is almost always a cost involved (unless someone is kind enough to hand over their stash) whether it is for your Sunday newspaper, a clipping service or paper and ink for your printer. You also have to add in a cost for your time, as in the time it takes you to organize your coupons and shopping list. I’m not going to count the time I spend in the store doing my actual shopping, ‘cuz you have to know that with a job and a family there is very little time to spend in the actual store!

So, the idea is that I’ll keep you up to date on how I’m doing and you can feel free to join on the bandwagon in the hopes of beating me with your astounding savings! You don’t have to do all the extra math with me…I’m just a bit OCD that way…

So, week 1:

I have two weeks of coupons – One week I paid a service for whole inserts and paid $13 for 24 whole inserts (6 of each that was included in the newspaper that week) and the next week I paid $10 for 4 newspapers at the local grocery store. That brings me up to an expenditure of $23 for all of my current coupons.
I’ve been behind on my clipping and filing so I spent about 2 hours clipping my coupons out and organizing them. I did a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants shopping trip, and made it up as I went along so I’m not adding any cost there. Sooooo, let’s say I’m paying myself $7 an hour, that’s $14 on prep.

As for my actual savings, I shopped two stores this week – Walmart and Krogers.

Walmart is a little harder to figure out exactly, because I have to do the math myself and let’s face it, there’s a reason I’m a librarian and not a mathematician! Walmart does not double coupons, but I still managed to save $11.75.

Krogers is much more helpful! They will double coupons, offer eCoupons and have an incentive card to give “extra” savings. They also are kind enough to break down your purchases for you giving a nice little space to show what you saved and how. At Krogers this week, between coupons, eCoupons and my incentive card
I saved $47.60

Coupons $23
Time $14
Savings: Walmart – $11.75
Krogers – $47.60
Total: $22.35

Next week should prove to be a better savings week because I didn’t purchase any more coupons this week, and probably won’t next week either (unless the preview shows something I just can’t live without!)…

UPDATE ON GOAL 1:

I’ve discovered that folding laundry with my children makes a good time for chatting with them one-on-one. While folding Big’s laundry we talked about school, boys, and how it isn’t fair that she has to fold her own clothes. While folding with Baby we talk about future play dates, princesses, and how great a folder she is.

This week Baby has also learned how to make frozen waffles, and that they don’t go in the microwave. I have learned that we need a pair of toaster tongs.

I wonder what will come up next?

Goal 1: Self-Reliant Children

I’m setting some goals for myself this year, NOT resolutions!

What’s the difference you ask?

Well, resolutions can get broken, goals are something to strive for.

My No. 1 Goal is to be less of a Helicopter Mom.

Over Christmas vacation I took a look at my kids and realized by their ages I was doing laundry, cooking meals, general housecleaning, I was home alone supervised by my Bubba and Sissy.

My kids do none of that. I have always been quick to “help” them (aka just do it for them!).

I realize now I’ve created kids who have absolutely no real self-reliance skills.

You know they say the first step in overcoming a problem is to first admit it exists. I’m saying to all the world, “I AM A HELICOPTER MOM! and I’m trying to land.”

Yes, my children clean their rooms, with help. They make basic microwave meals and toast, with help. They make cookies, with help. They play outside, supervised. They don’t stay home alone, EVER.

Currently, the extent of their cleaning skills extends to emptying the dishwasher (Big does the plates and bowls that go up high and Baby does the silverware), making the occassional bed, stacking items on the stairs to “take up later” and completely missing the laundry basket sitting next to their dirty clothes. And, Big is supposed to take her basket down when it is full and I’ll run it through the washing machine for her, but it doesn’t quite work out that way.

This is going to change.

Now.

Hopefully.

The other day after I ran Baby’s clothes through the washer and dryer I had her come help me fold.

She’s usually a willing participant in things like folding clothes and making beds, it’s the whole putting away toys and books that she balks at cuz’ “I’m playing with that!”

Christmas Break 2 002

But, folding clothes out of the dryer is a new experience for her.

In Pennslvania, our washer and dryer were in a dank basement at the bottom of rickety stairs. The kids were rarely allowed in the basement. In Tennessee, the washer and dryer are just off the kitchen. It works out quite nicely!

Christmas Break 2 004

The next day I ran Big’s clothes through and called her to help fold.

“WHAT!” She hollered! “I don’t know how to do that!”

I told her, “If your Baby sister can do it, I’m sure you can figure it out! Besides, anyone who is known as a walking encyclopedia is smart enough to figure out how to fold clothes.”

And she did.

But she wouldn’t let me take her picture.

It wouldn’t have been a pretty picture anyways. She wasn’t happy about folding clothes.

Just wait until she has to do the floors! (insert evil laugh here!)

I’ll let you in on Goal No. 2 next week.

Making Smoky Mountain Memories

This holiday season one of my biggest hopes was to spend more time creating memories and traditions with my family than disconnecting and going in opposite directions. I would like to think we succeeded.

Last Wednesday (hard to believe it was just a week ago!) the Ranger called and asked if I might want to go to the Smoky Mountains for New Years.

I have spent New Years Eve in a bar (once), in Vancouver, B.C. (once, shout out to Brandon and Kaaren!) and pulling a Dick Clark All-Nighter (more often than I care to admit). I am paranoid about the possibility of getting hit by a drunk driver. I’m crazy, I know this.

So, much to my husband’s suprise I said, “SURE!”

So last Friday night found the Accidental family creeping down the highway between Knoxville, TN and Pigeon Forge (you know, Dollywood Land!). I was stunned. I don’t know what I expected, but the bumper to bumper traffic that took over and hour to go a mere 10 miles through an electrician’s worst nightmare was NOT it! There were lights EVERYWHERE! There were cars EVERYWHERE! There were amusements and tourist traps EVERYWHERE! There were hotels and people EVERYWHERE! It was CRAZY!

We finally found our hotel (slightly off the main highway to my great joy!) and settled in for the night. Pigeon Forge was not our final destination for this trip.

In the morning we got up and set off for the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, leaving behind the portable DVD players, DS’s, and the cell phones (okay, so it was in my purse, but I wasn’t using it!).

On our way we drove through Gatlinburg (CUTEST TOWN EVER!) making note of places we thought we might stop on our way back through after our sojourn through the wilderness and continued on into the park. Gatlingburg was not our destination this trip.

Smoky Mountains 2011

We thought we would hike to a waterfall, but there were too many cars and not enough parking spaces so we kept driving.

The scenery was STUNNING!

Smoky Mountains 2011 3

We, and about a million other families, drove the loop around Cades Cove where there were deer and elk aplenty. At one point there was a park ranger who was there to be sure cars kept moving and no one would attempt to get close to the family of deer sitting by the side of the road.

We stopped at the old Cable Mill and walked around for a bit. It was beautiful!

Smoky Mountains

Christmas Break 2 017

Christmas Break 2 018

The drive through the park was lazy, with kids looking out windows and arguing over whose river it was depending on which side of the car it was flowing by. For those beautiful couple of hours we enjoyed the forest, the environment, discussed the need for the park to have buses to cut down on traffic and emissions, and realized that we should have brought snacks.

It was a memory. It will be a tradition.