Monthly Archives: May 2013

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Every Little Thing

My sister and I decided to watch “While You Were Sleeping” the other day (which, by the way, is a great movie)DSCN5006.* Anyway, I noticed how much the movie concentrated on Sandra Bullock’s character and all her little quirks. In fact, it focuses so much on her almost to the exclusion of her male counterpart. Well, that got me to thinking. If you listen to most popular music, you’ll hear lyrics about how special women are. Brad Paisley’s “She’s Everything” says, “She’s a yellow pair of running shoes, a holey pair of jeans. She looks great in cheap sunglasses, she looks great in anything. She’s I want a piece of chocolate, take me to a movie. She’s I can’t find a thing to wear. Now and then she’s moody.” Or then there’s the songs that focus on how special women are. Chuck Wicks’ “Stealing Cinderella” talks about how in her father’s eyes she’s Cinderella, and how he realizes she’s Cinderella. Or what about Kenny Chesney’s “You Had Me from Hello”? “One word, that’s all you said. Something in your voice caused me to turn my head. Your smile, just captured me. You were in my future as far as I could see. And I don’t know how it happens, but it happens still.” And what about movies like “Ever After?” “Ever After” focuses on the plight of a Cinderella character and her love of reading. And when it does focus on the prince, the movie brings out his flaws. And this trend didn’t just start. In fact, in the 1954 flick “Sabrina,” the title character is a young girl whom you fall in love with instantly. Her lover is a flawed man who needs her help (sound familiar?). And then there are all the books (same theme). Either they forget that men have quirks and personalities, or they point out all their flaws that the women need to help them with. I could go on and on, pointing out songs, books, movies, and tv shows to prove my point, but I don’t think that’s necessary.

I don’t have a problem with all these movies, books, etc. . . In fact, I love all the movies that I’ve mentioned. But I do think these movies can create selfish women. Why? Because they focus on how we’re always right, or how special we are. But our guys are just as special. It’s a really sweet concept to think that our husbands want to know every little thing about us, but do we know every little thing about them? Or do we just assume our husbands are like every other male out there? In God’s eyes our husbands are every bit as special as we are. And they are every bit as interesting as we are. That got me to thinking about making my own list of things make Brian special. I thought I would share a few things to help jumpstart your list.

  1. He works wonders with spices in the kitchen (in fact he’s better at coming up with his own recipes then I am).
  2. He thoroughly enjoys being in a dunk tank and teasing the kids when they miss him (he’s quite vocal).
  3. He has an insatiable appetite for learning.
  4. He’s always coming up with new inventions to make life easier.
  5. He knows how to teach kids; he can really relate to them, and he knows how to keep them entertained.
  6. He loves dressing up in costume to teach kids and they love it.
  7. He’s a huge fan of the TV shows “Get Smart” and “Hogan’s Heroes.”
  8. He never has enough time to read all the books that he wants to read.
  9. He has cute lines around his eyes when he smiles.
  10. And he always makes time for me.

Now it’s your turn! What makes your husband special? Don’t just end there, though. Make him feel special, and let him know how much you love,  respect, and appreciate him.

*There is a bit of language in the movie, so if you don’t have something to block out curse words you might want to consider abstaining from this movie. Also, there is one small scene that mentions something inappropriate. The scene isn’t vital to the film, and can easily be skipped over.

post by Rachel | | 1

What Not to do in New York City

My husband, siblings, and I went to New York City this past Saturday. And we had a blast! I think the best part of our trip was all the mistakes we made in getting there, and trust me, we made plenty. That’s why I came up with this blog post. I wanted to warn people about the things that you shouldn’t do in New York City and save you some of the grief. But then again some of these mistakes were truly fun, so maybe I DSCN4924should call this post what to do in New York City (or how to have fun with family). I’ll leave that up to you.

  1. Do not drive into New York City. Trust me, you won’t save any money, and it’s a nightmare. Traffic is absolutely crazy! And everybody blares their horns for no reason whatsoever. Plus, everyone is trying to sneak into your lane. It’s easier and cheaper to park in New Jersey and take the ferry over.
  2. Don’t not print out directions. If you insist on driving into New York City, make sure you print out directions and have a map available. Otherwise, you’ll enter an address into your GPS and end up somewhere else entirely. Also, make sure to put in West or North before your street name. If you don’t then you’ll end up on 40th street, when your destination is W. 40th St. These two locations are nowhere near each other! Also, you’ll end up paying hefty tolls and driving around for two hours trying to find your location.
  3. Don’t buy one way passes on the Subway. It’s cheaper to buy a metro card and share it with a group of people. You’ll save a whole $0.25 per ride. Plus you won’t be in danger of maxing your credit cards at the subway. Apparently, you’re only allowed to use you’re credit card twice during a day at the subway kiosks. And if you don’t know this then you’ll be swiping your card in frustration, building a line at the kiosk, and ticking people off. Fun times!
  4. Don’t just take buy a subway ticket and enter the station. Because you might find out that you just wasted subway fare by entering the wrong station. Then you’ll have to walk over to the right station and pay the fare all over again. DSCN4929
  5. Don’t pay the marked price in Chinatown. Do barter, and do walk away from sales. If you walk away you’ll end up paying half the price you would have paid in the first place.
  6. Don’t walk too close to Mario! He might reach out and try to grab you. And I thought Mario was friendly! Guess I was wrong, or maybe I looked like Bowser in my bright yellow hoody and jean capris.
  7. Don’t use the restroom in New York City. You may end up having to share a small restroom with a lady (who doesn’t speak English) you don’t even know. Luckily, there was a small divider between the toilets. Not to mention the people that cut in line in front of you.
  8. Don’t stop in a ghetto New Jersey city, outside of New York City, to use the restroom. Because you’ll find that most of the buildings don’t have restrooms and they have bars over the backroom doors. In fact Walgreens, CVS, and Advanced Auto Parts don’t have restrooms in the ghettos. I wonder why?
  9. Don’t use the only restroom you can find in New Jersey. You’ll end up using a dirty restroom with no toilet paper. Not to mention the fact that it doesn’t have soap and the door doesn’t even lock. If you insist on using the restroom bring your own toilet paper and soap. Oh, and have your sister stand guard outside of the restroom.
  10. Don’t engage in a conversation with the locals in ghetto New Jersey. Especially if it’s a guy. He may end up giving your sister a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Just keep your arms around your sister; that way he can’t touch her. I guess ghetto guys like blonde babes. 

I think that sums up all the don’ts that I learned. I’m sure there’s more out there. Who knows, maybe I’ll learn more don’ts in NYC round 2?

post by Rachel | | 0

The Benefits of Having Reward Cards

A lot of people don’t like to sign up for reward’s cards! Trust me, I know. I worked at Dick’s Sportishoppingng Goods for about a year. I had a lot of customers refuse to sign up for the Dick’s Reward’s Card (a.k.a the Score Card). I can understand not signing up for a store credit card. After all, lots of the time store credit cards don’t give you a huge benefit, and they don’t offer as much cash back as regular ones. But not getting a Reward’s Card is just stupid (pardon the language). A Reward’s Card is not a credit card, you can’t pay for your merchandise with it. Reward’s Cards offer you something for nothing. Yeah, stores hope you’ll spend more money because you have a Reward’s card, but I’ve never seen anyone spend more just because of a card. In fact the only time I ever saw people (at Dick’s) spend more then they intended to was because they wanted to use a coupon (those coupons were available to reward cards’ members and non-reward cards’ members).

Let me explain to you how Dick’s Sporting Goods’ Reward Card works. For every dollar you spend you get a point; when you reach 300 points, you get a $10 dollar gift card in the mail. You also get coupons in the mail, and some of those coupons are for free points, so you don’t have to spend 300 dollars to get your rewards. Simple enough system, right? That’s how most stores’ rewards’ cards work (the exception being Kmart and Sears). I remember on numerous occasions having customers (at Dick’s) who would spend over $300, but they refused to sign up for a Score card. I never understood that. Why would you refuse to sign up for a card that would get you a free $10 gift certificate? I know it’s not instant gratification, but hey, in a few months you can stop back by the store you use the card you received in the mail. What’s not to like about that?

The reason why reward cards are so beneficial is that customers earn points for every dollar spent. Stores like K-Mart and Sears offer free points to spend. Every so often Kmart and Sears will give you free 5,000 points to spend over a weekend: that translates into $5 free dollars! Restaurants like Panera will give you something free on your birthday, so even if you don’t earn anything else with your card, at least you get a free birthday treat! So Reward Cards don’t just reward you for spending money, but sometimes they reward you for just having a card.

There is a downside to Reward Cards. The points will expire after a year, so if you don’t earn your certificate before the year is up you will lose your points. I don’t like it, but that’s the way most of these cards work. You ask, how do I benefit from that? You benefit because when you do have to buy things at those stores, you usually have a coupon. Also, you know when the stores are having special sales. I shop infrequently at A.C. Moore. I’ll probably never earn their reward’s certificate, but when I did have to shop there I had a coupon. I had a 40% off coupon, which really helped because I was  buying fake flowers (priced around $4-5 a bloom). I’ll probably never spend $300 at Dicks, but I have been alerted of their sales via e-mail. If I need to go in there, I know when to go in and shop. Kmart and Sears rewards program works a little differently. You don’t get rewards’ certificates. Instead, you just get points that instantly translate into money. The next time I go shopping (and there will be a next time), I can use that money towards my purchase. So no matter how many times you shop at a store a year, you’ll still benefit from having a card.

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Saving Money with Pets

I have 4 pets living in my house: one rat (Oreo), two cats (Ivy and Bella), and one dog (Charlie). A lot of people think that’s crazy, but it works for us. We love having them. Pets are such a joy to have in our lives, but we don’t want them to become a financial burden to us. That’s why my husband and I have learned how to be frugal while still providing the best care possible for our pets. Actually, for the most part our pets aren’t a huge expense. Okay, so we do have to provide food, litter, etc. . . But we’ve shopped around and found out how to get good supplies for less.

  • Sam’s Club is a great place to buy our pets’ food. We can buy in bulk and the food is almost always cheaper there than at Wal-Mart. We buy Purina Puppy ChowDSCN4730 for our dog. At Sam’s Club we pay $23.42 for 37.5lbs of puppy food, whereas at Wal-Mart it’s $12.88 for 16.5lbs. That’s an almost $0.18 savings per pound. For our cats we buy Purina Indoor Cat Chow. At Sam’s Club we pay $12.98 for 18.5llbs for cat food and at Wal-Mart it’s $12.78 for 16lbs. That’s a $0.9 savings per pound! So, if you’re not sure about getting a Sam’s membership you might want to reconsider. I know with pet supplies alone we’ll end up making our money back (not to mention all the human food we get cheaper there).
  • Sam’s Club sells the cheapest cat litter that we could find. So I know you don’t want to buy bad cat litter, but Sam’s litter is not only cheap–it also works well! Again, it’s the buying in bulk principle. And remember you want clumping litter because if it’s not clumping it’s gross.
  • Shop around! If you’re not sure who sells the cheapest, then spend some time shopping around. Compare prices store-to-store. You’ll end up saving more money in the long run. “But I don’t have extra time to shop around and comparing prices!” I’m sure you don’t just shop at one store, so each time you go into another store just run over the the pet’s section to check out the prices. Keep all the prices stored away in a notebook or on your phone. Over a few weeks/months you’ll have gathered all the data you need, and you’ll know who has the best prices and start saving money.
  • Our kitten (Ivy) just turned a year old. Immediately my husband and I switched them over to adult food. Adult food is a lot cheaper then kitten and puppy food. At Sam’s Club we pay $23.42 for 37.5lbs of puppy food, whereas their dog food is $23.98 for 50lbs. That’s a $0.23 savings per pound of food! Just remember, don’t switch your pets over before a year, because up until a year they need all of the extra nutrients they can get in the puppy/kitten food. We’ll be switching our dog over in June when she turns a year old.
  • Consider buying your rat or rodents food online from Amazon. You can buy your food in bulk and get great prices. Plus if you buy enough food you’ll get free shipping. We bought a huge 20lb bag about a year ago and are still using it to feed our rat.
  • Try  buying bones at non-specialty stores and stock up on bones when you find sales. We’ve bought bones from Tractor Supply and Walgreens. In fact the best bone I’ve ever bought DSCN4706was from Walgreens. It was a shoulder bone that lasted for months, and it was super cheap. I think I paid only $4 dollars for it.
  • Feed your pet the recommended amount of food a day. I feed all of my pets twice a day. I follow the recommend amounts of food (per pet weight and age) written on the back of the food bag. I half the recommended food and give that to them in the morning, and then I give them the other half at night. I give them about a half hour to finish their meal. By leaving out the food all day and refilling the bowl every time it’s empty you’re losing money and creating fat pets.
  • Buy all your pet’s needs in bulk! You’ll save a bundle. You can always get storage containers.
  • Don’t buy pet food containers! It’s a huge waste of money. Instead go back to the regular storage container area. I bought wrapping paper containers to hold our pets’ food. The containers were only $8 apiece. If I had bought the pet food containers in the pet section I would have spent $23 for a smaller container.
  • Buy your pet’s medication online. A lot of vets make it difficult to get your pet prescriptions, but keep hassling them! You will save a lot of money by going through an online store like 1-800-Petmeds, etc. . . Just make sure you do a quick comparison between 1-800-Petmeds and the other online medication stores. 1-800-Petmeds isn’t always the cheapest.
  • Don’t skimp on pet medicine. I know a lot of people who buy cheap flea medicine, and they pay for it in the long run. Their pets are continually getting fleas. Also, buying off-brands like PetArmor is a bad idea. Petarmor doesn’t really work. My husband worked for a vet clinic for awhile, and he can attest to the fact that PetArmor is a bad buy. What’s the point of spending money on medicine that doesn’t work? You can still use some of the cheaper brands, but not the super cheap ones. The point is to keep the pet healthy and happy.
  • You can’t afford not to give your dog heartworm medicine. If your dog catches heartworms you will be paying upwards of a thousand dollars to treat your dog. Like I said earlier, look into buying your medicine online; you’ll save because the vet clinics mark their prices up.
  • Enjoy being a pet owner. Pets can actually help you live a longer and healthier life! Dogs make great walking and running buddies, and cats make great companions. Owning a pet will greatly enrich your life. And they are so much fun!

 

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The Sins of the Fathers

I guess I’ve always had this mindset that my sin won’t really effect anyone else, which is not a Biblical viewpoint. Well the other day I was reading through Genesis, and I saw how the sins Adam and Eve, Abraham, etc. . . affected others. And suddenly it dawned on me: my sins really will affect others. Maybe they won’t make as huge an impact as Abraham and Adam/Eve, but then who’s to say? I bet Abraham didn’t think that his sin would affect the whole world. Abraham probably never thought that by bearing a child with Hagar, he would create the whole Arabic race (and lots of problems for future generations) (Gen. 16). Adam and Eve probably never thought that by eating the apple they would bring sin into the whole world. They only saw that the apple looked good to eat, and they, in their selfish desires, wanted it (Gen. 2). And what about David? His sin with Bathsheba? David only saw a women who was lovely to look on. He probably never thought about what would happen to their firstborn, or the fact that Solomon would be tempted to sin in much the same way as his father. Or what about Miriam? She chose to challenge Moses’ authority and was struck with leprosy. The whole Israelite nation was affected by her sin; they had to wait for 7 days before continuing on their journey (Num. 12). I bet none of these men and women had any idea how their sins were going to affect future generations and their peers. That’s the point. In our own selfishness we choose to sin, but our selfishness never sees how our sin can and will affect others. Just think. One sin we  choose to commit could negatively affect future generations for years. It’s a sobering thought. I Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” God gives us the ability to flee temptation. Through Christ’s work on the cross, we can choose not to sin.

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ILUMED

 

I think almost everybody has heard about shmily. But in case you haven’t, an old couple used to write shmily all over the house. She would write it on the bathroom mirror for him; he would write it in the flour. For years this couple wrote that shmily, taking turns and surprising each other with it. When the old women DSCN4399dies, her husband puts the note shmily in her hands. Shmily stands for “See How Much I Love You!” I remember hearing this story and being touched by it. Actually, we both were. Brian and I have said from the beginning that we wanted to have the type of marriage that, as we grow old, people would still think of us as newlyweds. We want to be lifetime honeymooners. The shmily couple had that type of marriage. I wanted our marriage to be like that. That’s why we decided to come up with our own phrase. ILUMED! Or, “I love you more each day.” For us this is just a simple phrase that we can share with each other. I send him a text message, he writes it in an e-mail, I write it on a card, he writes it on a post-it-note, etc. It’s one small way we have of reminding each other how much we love each other. It’s a way of keeping our marriage alive and special.