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It's not Christmas I'm worried about

20 December 2011
Sparrow will be four years old next month.  FOUR.  Terrifying.

When he turns five, we are planning a family vacation to Disneyland.  My parents have a timeshare they've reserved, my grandma will be coming along, and Sparrow should be just tall enough to go on all of the rides (or at least the majority.)

I went to Disneyland for the first time when I was a newly-minted four year old and I still remember it.  Mostly I remember that Peter Pan promised to teach me how to fly. He did not.

Anyway, Sparrow is very excited about this upcoming adventure.  He talks about it often - "when I turn five, I will go to Disneyland!"  But I am worried that he will be sorely disappointed on his birthday this year, since I'm not sure how well he grasps the concept that he still has to wait a year to visit Disney.

So I am debating about whether or not to throw him a little birthday party.  On the one hand, children frighten me and I am no good with stress.  On the other hand, he would love to have a party with his friends.

The debate rages on.  At least I know what I'm getting for his birthday this year!

There is money; spend it, spend it.

16 December 2011
I don't know about you, but one of my goals for 2012 is to save money. This year, Hawk and I eliminated a few of our debts, but I want to get rid of ALL of them. I also want to save money for a trip to Disneyland that we promised Sparrow for his 5th birthday.

So when I discovered the 2012 Family Guide to Groceries for Under $250 a Month, I almost had a heart attack. I am so on that bandwagon. I have a couple of good friends who are crazy couponers and I am going to beg to become their pupil so that I can be an awesome coupon ninja too.

What are your best methods for saving money while kicking debt in the pants?


Visit Budget101.com

Santa pictures by Fotofly

08 December 2011
There's a company in Utah (based in Draper) called Fotofly. In June I was desperate to get Sparrow's pictures done. For his first year of life I did pictures every 3 months, with mixed results. I hate paying per sheet, not being able to buy a CD with the images on them, and not being able to run my pictures off without a copyright release (which will run you up to $300 at some major photography chains.) After Sparrow turned 1, I started doing pictures every 6 months. Except last June I had totally spaced pictures at all, so they ended up being his 3 year old ones.

We went to Kiddie Kandids first and the pictures turned out all right, but not great. You couldn't see Sparrow's devilishly angelic personality shining through, and honestly, Major Chain Photographers can almost NEVER get good pictures of Sparrow because he does not smile on command, or respond with smiles to funny things. Or look at the camera.

Enter Fotofly. This tiny company takes incredible pictures. For $79, you get a CD with the photography release form so you can get your pictures developed anywhere. But, Fotofly only charges $4 a sheet. This is an insane deal, especially if you are doing group photos (no sitting fees or per-person add ons.) Plus the pictures they take are just phenomenal. These pictures I got of Sparrow are my favorite ever. I mean, LOOK at this:

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I love that you can see his beautiful smile, beautiful eyes, and beautiful hair ALL AT THE SAME TIME. It's like a miracle.

We are going back to their studio as a family next month to get family portraits done - actually our appointment is on Sparrow's 4th birthday! I am so excited. Even though Hawk and I are not thin, dead sexy people, Fotofly has some sort of photographical magic that makes even us look great!

So anyway, Fotofly has started doing pictures this month with Santa. You can dress up as Santa and get your photo taken with your child (the photo doesn't show your face, so it looks like a Real Santa.) Visual aid:

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If you're uncomfortable with dressing up, they also have the Real Santa sitting in the tent standing by for pictures. So last week Sparrow and I went and I dressed up, and then yesterday Hawk, Sparrow and I went back and did our Christmas photos with Real Santa. It was $20 and these pictures, I just love them.

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Fotofly is an amazing company. The owner is a very sweet guy and everyone we have encountered does everything they can to make your experience a great one. I highly encourage you to check them out. Trust me, it's worth a longish trip. For the Fotofly experience, I would gladly drive an hour, hour and a half, easy. Absolutely worth every penny and every mile. Fotofly has earned our business for life!

Disclaimer: I was not paid or offered any compensation for writing this post. I just love Fotofly that much.

Five Year Anniversary

06 December 2011
My husband is awesome
My husband is good
He lets me buy clothes
And feeds me good food

He makes phone calls for me
He puts up with my quirks
He drives me to doctors
And never calls me a jerk

He lets me make off
With most of his cash
But he still doesn't say
I'm a pain in the ash

He takes care of Sparrow
He cleans the litter box
He does not get mad
When I forget to wash his socks

He is handsome and strong
Brave, wise and true
And he never threatens
To lock me up in the zoo

He gives the best kisses
The best loves, tickles and hugs
He does not mind
When I make him smash bugs

We've been wed for five years
Five years ago today
And still he is beside me
He has not gone away

He is a great father
He is a great dad
But he is the BEST husband
And for that I am glad

From the tip of my head
From down deep in my gut
Husband I'll love you
Always and forever - No matter what.

My first car accident - I did it wrong.

02 December 2011
Today I dropped Sparrow off at my mom's house and picked Hawk up from work. We were headed to Hawk's work holiday party in Salt Lake. As we drove on the freeway, traffic stalled out just ahead of us. Hawk stopped in time.

The car behind us did not.

The car behind them did not.

The car behind them did not.

The first hit, obviously, was the hardest. Hawk and I both jolted forward and I thought for sure our airbags were going to deploy (they did not.) I heard the squeal of tires behind us and I knew - and then, SLAM. It really makes a noise just like that. I was looking right at Hawk when it happened and his head and neck snapped forward just as mine did. Our car inched slowly toward the car in front of us with each successive hit. Hawk slammed his foot down hard on the brake and I threw our car into "park," grabbing for the parking brake as well. As the second and third car jolts hit, our car got even closer to the one in front of us, but thank goodness, we did not connect.

We took just a moment to breathe and assess. Then I turned around to look at the car behind us.

It seemed there was a huge gap between the car that hit us and, well, us. Like several feet of gap, enough for another car to fit in there. Did the car right behind us hit and drive away? I think this is the most likely explanation, because no way did 3 cars hit us and we go that far forward. In fact, I distinctly remember grabbing the memo pad I keep in my glove box and turning around to get the first car's license plate number, because I was worried he might drive away. That's why I noticed the gap. Odd.

There is a brand new law in Utah that if you are in a fender bender on the freeway, you must get off at the next exit and wait for police help there. You cannot pull off to the shoulders any more. I told Hawk about this and he started off toward the next exit, but when I looked back after a moment, no one else from that lane was moving. So we pulled off onto the shoulder and waited, but by that point we had made it far enough that it was hard to see where we had been. It was also very dark at this point.

I got out of the car and checked the back. Miraculously, there was no visible damage. None. I couldn't believe it. There may be a few chips to the paint, and there may be damage that we can't see, but right now I would like to publicly thank Toyota for making their cars out of AWESOME and not using cheap-o plastic bumpers.

We waited on the shoulder for 10 minutes trying to figure out what to do. We couldn't see anyone else pulling off. It looked like traffic was slowed at that area, but we couldn't really tell, and if it was, how were we supposed to get back there? Back up on the freeway? Get off the freeway and circle back around to it? I realize now that we should have just waited there instead of starting to exit, but the new law was fresh in my mind and I was scared.

And I really think that the car that hit us first had driven off immediately after the accident, when we were breathing and checking to make sure our lives were still intact.

And we didn't hit the car in front of us, and there was no damage to our car, so...

We drove off (and made it to the work party on time, no less. Though I had Hawk take me home halfway through.)

I am terrified that we did the wrong thing. I know we did the wrong thing, and now it cannot be fixed, and I am scared. I'm scared because my head, neck and back are killing me and Hawk's back is bothering him. I'm scared because Sparrow very easily could have been in that car with us, and who knows how this would have affected him. I'm scared because every time Hawk has a work party, I get injured (last year we went ice skating and I got a concussion.) I'm worried for the people behind us that were sandwiched in there. I'm worried because I really don't know exactly what happened, and I have been thinking weirdly all evening. I just don't even know what to do. Except I'm not going to write about it any more, because I'm shaking too hard to type now.

So that was my first car accident. And I did everything all wrong. And I blame the stupid new law because I was too scared and fixated on getting off the freeway to stop and figure out what to do.