In this world of extreme couponing, bargain shopping, loyalty clubs, Groupon, etc, etc, etc…..it is quite obvious we are all looking to save some cash. Let’s face it, the economy hasn’t fully recovered and we have to do all we can to cut corners. Now I am definitely not one of those coupon ladies who attend classes, check websites, clip coupons, shop all over town, and save hundreds of dollars or more every time she goes to the grocery store. And although I have rolled my eyes at these women when I have accidentally found myself behind them in line, I truly admire their hard work and dedication to the money-saving cause. I just haven’t entered that revolution yet. Since planning this wedding (13 days and counting) I have learned how to cut corners more so than I have ever had to do before. Planning it during the holiday season seemed like a great idea until I had to do all my normal Christmas shopping on top of pay for a wedding for 100 people followed by a week-long honeymoon to the Bahamas. Yeah, the money-saving Diva emerged quite quickly. Not just from me, but from my wonderful fiance’, Larry, as well. The other night he had the laptop off to the side of the couch and was looking at something online quite intently. I noticed from the corner of my eye that there was a blond woman on this website (out of the ordinary from the normal firefighting or hunting websites he frequently visited.) I leaned my head over to see what he was looking at…to my pleasant surprise the website was www.couponsuzy.com. COUPON SUZY!!! How stinkin’ sweet is this man?! I said, “Whatcha got there, Babe?” He just replied very proudly, “Hey, I don’t care…this chick has Tide coupons for $3.00 off!!” Yeah…..I’m in love with this man.
Although I may not be a huge coupon clipper, I have found a website that I just wanted to share with all of you. It is just so very cool and it is an easy way to get CASH back from buying things you are already going to buy from websites you already probably shop. I discovered this while doing my Christmas shopping. I actually saw an ad on TV for the website and checked it out and sure enough….it is pretty awesome. It is called www.ebates.com. You go to the site first then click-through to the website of your favorite store and when you make your purchases you earn a percentage back in cash. You just keep earning cash back for three months at a time and then they send you a check. Walmart.com was featured this month with a 6% cash back so instead of fighting the crowds, I just did my shopping through the website and that included getting all my gift cards too! Everything was shipped to my house (some of it qualified for free shipping) and I earned like $18 on my Ebates account which will keep accruing until February when they send me the check. It really is cool. They also have a referral program that for every person you tell about it that uses you as a referral, you get $5. Pretty cool! I think I am going to get Wal-mart gift cards through there each month to do my regular shopping since I earn cash back and they are shipped to my house. Why not? Anyway, I am loving this program and can’t wait to get my check. Let me know how it works for you. It’s free to use it so I figured, what’s to lose? Happy Shopping! Copy and paste the link below in your browser (it won’t let you click right from the page) to check it out. Save it in your browser so if you do decide to use it I will get the referral! :) On this Insane Search for Sanity….my me-time today was checking my Ebates account and realizing that it is ok to become one of those money-saving couponers….I will laugh all the way to the bank!
Wasn’t it JUST December 7th?? I mean, really? Have the days literally gotten shorter or what? It seems like I was just getting all dressed up, squeezing into my Spanx, getting ready for a Girl’s Night Out at Global Grill this time last year. INSANE!! I remember a time when I was a teenager when the week of my birthday seemed to drag on forever. The night until my slumber party with all my friends seemed like a lifetime away. Now, just ten short years later (ahem) ok, maybe a few more than that….here I am with a couple of teenagers of my own trying with all my might to slow things down! Savor the moment a little. Stretch things out. Keep the boys young a bit longer. (I hear giving them whiskey helps to stunt their growth…thoughts?) But here I am…another birthday. I suppose it is much better than the alternative…NOT having a birthday. Nonetheless, I have cried on this day since I was 14. I have never quite figured it out. As excited as I was to be having a birthday at that age, I cried when the day actually arrived. Not openly (like I do now…to strangers) just in private for a few moments. It has been a tradition now for umpteen years. I have just never wanted to get older I guess. I look at my beautiful mother and I think how lucky I am to have her good genes. Do I need to remind you about the guy working the “Guess your Age” game at the fair a few months ago that thought I was SIX years younger than I am?? (Because I will…repeatedly.) But still, I have never been one of those women whom I admire that just embrace every passing year, every age, every wrinkle, with open arms. I have never been one of those people who sees an elderly woman sitting on the pew at church looking so lovely and thinks, ” I hope I am just like her when I get to be that age.” My thoughts are more like “Oh My Dear Lord….Is that going to be ME someday???? Am I going to be THAT old?” I am pathetic, really, and I want to change. I wonder sometimes if I am the only one who feels like this and quite honestly, I am ashamed. I should be thankful that I have my health and that I am around to see my boys grow. I should consider myself lucky to have all these years that I have had because I know they are precious. I have seen friends who have lost loved ones too soon, and the guilt I feel for not wanting to grow old consumes me during those times. I think a big part of this is that I am not afraid to die. I am a Christian who believes that I will see my Creator when I pass away and I am comforted by that…not frightened. I am sure it would devastate my family so for that reason…bring on the birthdays!! Wow…this is a pretty heavy post for a Birthday Girl! Maybe my tradition of crying every year is being replaced by waking up and writing a morbid blog entry to start everyone’s day…you are welcome! Darn technology! :) Sorry.
On my Insane Search for Sanity, my me-time today will be spent “paying it forward.” This week has already been filled with love and generosity towards me for my birthday and there are plans for that to continue through the weekend. Today, I will take as many opportunities as possible to be generous to others whether it be strangers, co-workers, friends, or family. I am also going to do my best to not to cry ONE TIME today. This may require me to not turn on my lighted magnifying mirror…but hey, whatever it takes! Those wrinkles (um, laugh-lines) will still be there tomorrow. (Unless you know of some good product….I’m a sucker for anything!!) hee hee.
As my wedding gets closer and closer, I can’t help but reflect upon the last ten years of my dating life. My crazy, chaotic, ridiculous, humorous dating life. Until I met Larry a year ago, I had my share of Mr. Wrongs, Mr. Right-Nows, Mr. What-the-Heck-Was-I-Thinking, and Mr. Why-Is-He-Wearing-That? Yes, I had more first dates than fifth dates than I care to admit, but it got me to where I am today…..with the man I prayed for that was hand-delivered by God to make me happy for the rest of my life. I never dreamed it would take me ten years to get married again. I really thought I would find someone within 5 years or so and live happily ever after. What I didn’t count on was growing older and wiser. I didn’t count on actually learning from my mistakes. What a novel idea! With every bad date I actually learned something more about myself. I was a sponge taking in every detail about every man who I was letting down easy or who was breaking my heart. I could never really tell anyone what I was looking for in a partner, but I could for sure tell them what I WASN’T looking for. My friends would tell me I was being too picky at times, and I did go through a phase where I was turning down second dates because I didn’t like the way someone chewed their food or maybe their laugh was weird. I think that was more about me than about them. I had lulls in my dating life when I just needed me-time so I think I was harder on the guys that tried to date me so I wouldn’t get into a relationship. I don’t know….looking back on it now it is so easy to analyze things and figure myself out. I wish I knew what the heck I was doing at the time! Three or four bad internet dates which are better told in person, a few blind dates that were just ok, a couple pretty cool boyfriends that turned out to be Douche-Bag extraordinaires after a few months, and then my sweet, sweet Larry. Through it all, my friends were so patient with me and were my biggest cheerleaders. Always supporting me when I was excited about a new guy even if they weren’t so sure about him at first…then they would be right there to pick up the pieces when it all fell apart. They never (well maybe sometimes) said “I told you so” and they always had the best names to call the dirtiest of the dirt bags. I couldn’t have made it through my dating years without my girlfriends. One of the many things I love about Larry is that he gets that I have this special bond with my friends and he never tries to interfere with that…I think mostly because they are on his side right now and he NEVER wants that to change. :)
On this Insane Search for Sanity, my me-time today was spent trying to remember all the things I am going to miss about my dating life. With 30 days left until I tie the knot, I thought I would recall some fond memories. After reading through old journals and really, just remembering some dating disasters….I say SO LONG SINGLE LIFE! Let’s do this!
Happy Thanksgiving to you all! Today I am humbled. Humbled because I am at home, on the couch, in my pj’s, about to stuff my face for the rest of the day. This Thanksgiving is much different from the those of Thanksgivings past. For the last 6 years I have done my radio show on this day while my children waited at home for me. 3 of those 6 years, I wasaway for 3 weeks in Iraq reporting from the war zone with our local troops, delivering thousands “Letters from Home” written by members of this great community. It was a life-changing experience. The first year I went completely alone. I met up with a familiar face at one of the bases I visited, but I was for the most part, on my own in a strange country figuring things out as I went along knowing I wasn’t entirely welcome there in the first place. The second year, I went over with a local National Guard group so the first week I felt pretty safe. The second and third weeks…..I survived. The third year I went, I traveled over with a Channel 3 reporter and cameraman so at least I had some company. Then I realized it was their first year, so they were as terrified as I was my first year so I did a lot of babysitting at times when things got rough…and they did. All of it was worth it. Every tear, every sleepless night, every tinge of homesickness I felt because I was away from my children. It was worth it because these trips weren’t about me. They were about bringing a piece of home to our troops who were sacrificing WAY more than I was. I made lifelong friends each time I went. So today I am humbled. I will say a prayer for those who can’t be on their couches in their pj’s watching football and smelling Thanksgiving dinner cooking in the kitchen. Count your blessings today. Every single teeny, tiny one. On this “Insane Search for Sanity, my me-time today was searching for my old travel blog from my very first trip to Iraq. I found it and read through it. It was a great reminder that I am blessed to be with my family today. What are your blessings?
Here is the link to the Iraq blog….it’s kind of neat. Happy Thanksgiving!
We are about 5 weeks away from the wedding and it is pretty funny as I am planning this thing how much I have changed over the last 18 years since my first wedding. I was just a kid, really. My mom did most of the planning if I remember it correctly. It was just a small wedding with the reception in the fellowship hall of our church. Just a few friends and our families. What is amusing to me, is how apparent it is how my priorities have changed. I remember how important it was to me back then to find the perfect ice sculpture. Bah! That cracks me up! Obviously, I was nineteen. Now, being well past the legal drinking age, I was just as excited about the tiki bar at the reception site as I was about that silly cupid-shaped ice sculpture way back when. The first go-around I was also very excited about my bridesmaids throwing me a lingerie shower. This time, I actually Googled to see if there was any such thing as a “Sweatpant Shower.” Sadly, there were no results found. Bachelorette party with strippers? Yawn….do they even work before dusk? BLECK! I remember wondering if I really even needed to wear underwear under my wedding dress oh sooooo long ago when I was young…..now, I just need someone to tell me if I am supposed to wear underwear underneath my Spanx??? Yep….times do change. I am older which means I am wiser….THANK GOD!
I wouldn’t change many things in my life because I believe they have shaped me into the woman I am today. Although my first marriage did not last forever like I thought it would, I learned from it and I grew up. I am certain that a lot people should wait until they are at least thirty years old before they get married. I believe that is when I really started figuring out who I was. It took me a long time to find Larry. I have been in the dating world for the last ten years and it has been CRAZY! As a matter of fact, the next few blogs as I get closer to my nuptials, will probably be a flashback of my favorite worst dates. But it was all worth it. Now, I could care less about an ice sculpture at this wedding, but the carb-lover in me is guaranteeing that there WILL be a mashed potato bar!(and don’t think for a minute I haven’t Googled “Fleece Wedding Dresses.” ) :)
On this “Insane Search for Sanity,” my me-time today was getting to make more plans for MY wedding. The way I want things. I am calling it my “Big Girl” wedding. You know, the one that I do for myself. I look forward to my parents coming to enjoy it and hopefully they will like what I have done. I will never forget my mom giving in to my one crazy splurge so many years ago….that darn ice-cupid…..in July. (Looked like Jabba the Hut in 10 minutes. Sigh.)
I am shaking my Magic 8 Ball…”Am I the best wedding planner EVER??” The answer….”Outlook not so good.” Yep…valid. Maybe if it wasn’t MY wedding I would be much better. Correction…maybe if I was spending someone else’s money, I would be much better! It just seems like everything is SO expensive since I got married the first time 18 years ago. Of course, my parents paid for it back then so yeah, it was much cheaper for me. :) I have such great friends that are giving me tons of advice on planning a wedding on a budget. For instance, when I started to stress out about the cost of catering, Ally and Lisa both said “You don’t need caterers! We can all cook the food for you!” (Bless their hearts.) I think that is so sweet but I want my friends to have a good time at the wedding, not be in the kitchen making sausage balls pimento cheese sandwiches! There was a suggestion to nix the DJ and use my iPod and speakers, substitute a custom dress for a consignment, use an amateur photographer, and cut wayyyyyy back on the guest list. Were these all viable ways to save tons of money? Of course. But is this the way that I want to remember this special day in my life? Nah. This day isn’t just for me. It’s for Larry, our children, our families and friends. It’s just money, right? Will we be eating Chef Boyardee Beefaroni and Ramen for a few months after the wedding? Sounds about right. But doggone it…we will be FEASTING at that reception!! Let them eat cake!! Eat, drink, and be merry! Charge, Charge, Charge! ouch.
I am not independently wealthy and I am marrying the sweetest Firefighter ever. We are just hard working, middle class people. (Although, I am pretty luck with the scratch-offs.) We aren’t going to have a lavish wedding, but I decided about 10 minutes before I began writing this that I was done stressing about which things I needed to cut out of this little event. This our special day. We have waited to find each other our whole lives. We have the best family and friends two people could ever ask for….that makes us rich. This will be far from Kardashian-style, but this will be ours and we will love it.
On this Insane Search for Sanity, my “me” time today was letting go. Letting go of the stress that I have almost let rob me of enjoying my time as a bride. It may not be a perfect day….but it will be perfect for us.
This weekend is the Blue Angel Homecoming Airshow in Pensacola. I LOVE that we are the Home of the Blues. Growing up as a military brat, I’ve been to my share of airshows all over the country. I remember thinking the Blue Angels were like Rock Stars…and I still do. In my career I have had the opportunity to be around all kinds of famous people and celebrities, yet I have never been one that was really “starstruck.” But when I am around the Blue Angels, my heart beats a little faster. SOME might say it is the skin-tight flight suits that the pilots wear…BAH! I hardly noticed! :) What does it for me, is the skill required to do what they do. It is amazing. I am humbled when I am around them. They are not only serving their country as members of the United States Military, but they are also flying F-18’s just 18 inches from each other like it is a walk in the park. A-MA-ZING!
I don’t think I quite grasped the concept of this precision flying until 3 years ago when I was invited to actually fly with the Blues. Like….literally, fly in the #7 jet on what is called a media ride. It is once in a lifetime opportunity and I was thrilled to be asked! I was required to get a physical and go through a detailed safety briefing explaining the best ways to keep from passing out from the negative G’s, etc…blah blah blah…..all I heard was I was going to go really fast in a jet flown by a really handsome Blue Angel pilot. I felt just like the 4-year-old little girl who stood in line many years before at an airshow in California waiting to get her Blue Angel poster signed. I was giddy and I was ready!
I slipped on my flight suit and off we went…for the next 45 minutes I was in the hands of a Blue Angel pilot who would be taking me through all the manuevers that I had watched so many times from the ground below. My main goal was to not throw up or pass out. I was just informed that Kelly Clarkson had just done the flight a few days before me and threw up red gatorade all over the cockpit, so I was hoping not to embarass myself like her. Poor Kelly.
There are moments in our lives that we just have to stop and take in. You know, take a deep breath and say to ourselves, “this is happening to me and I never want to forget it as long as I live.” I remember LtCdr Kevin “Kojak” Davis who was my pilot that day say to me, “Dana…open your eyes! You don’t want to miss any of this!” He was right. I couldn’t get enough of the beautiful Pensacola skies that day….they were mine. A few months later, Kojak was killed during an airshow in a tragic accident. My heart was broken. We had formed a bond the day of my flight. He made a dream of mine come true and he knew it. We also became friends that day so not only had Pensacola lost a fantastic pilot during that airshow in South Carolina….I had also lost a friend. I think that made my ride with Kojak an even sweeter memory now.
On the day of his memorial, we played a special tribute on the radio to Kojak. It is the most special 5 minutes of audio of my entire radio career. I am happy to share it with you now. Enjoy coming along with me on the ride of my life. Just click on the tribute below.
01 Blue Angel Tribute
Ok, so maybe I didn’t have such a great day today. Maybe I cried once (or twice) in my car between meetings. You’ve done that before, right? It was just a stressful day. We’ve all had them. It’s how we choose to handle them that makes a difference. Most of the time I find a constructive way to process a bad day. I hit the gym to sweat it out or go for a run (ok, a brisk walk.) Sometimes I vent to a close friend over a glass of wine or two and we end up laughing it all away. Today was different. Today I let things really get to me. I didn’t process it like a big girl. As a matter of fact, I sat in my car and pulled the visor mirror down and watched myself cry. Don’t act like you haven’t done it…you know you have. I cried, and cried, and just felt plain sorry for myself. Bad news from the doctor….boo hoo! Too much to do before the wedding….waaaaaaa! I haven’t had carbs in two days….I want my mommmmyyyyy! It wasn’t my proudest moment but I think it may have done some good. What this little “fit” caused me to do was really take a look at the real problem. WHY was I reacting this way? WHY was I allowing myself to feel so invaluable and down? Once I pinpointed the reason for that, things became much more clear.
In the middle of this crybaby episode, I called my future husband. Larry is a man who can not stand to see the woman he loves cry. When he heard me sobbing on the other end of the phone he thought something horrible had happened. He then began to make out what I was saying through my sobs. ” I, I, Don’t. I Don’t. sniff sniff. I Don’t wa wa wa want anyone to throw mmmmme a wedding sh sh sh shower or a birthday partyyyyyyyyyyy WAAAAAAAAAA!” The phone was quiet and he sweetly just said, “Babe, your friends love you and they just want to celebrate you just like you always celebrate them. Please just let them do that for you.” After a few more sobs I let him off the hook and finished the tantrum alone in my car. But I was really troubled by the whole episode. Why had I let things (people, work, doctors, whatever) make me feel so invaluable that I would actually want to deprive myself from the joy of being celebrated as a bride and as the Birthday Girl all in one month?? I mean, I LOVE parties! I really love it when they are for ME! So I snapped out of it….not as quickly as I should have, but I did.
When I got home tonight and sat around the dinner table with my family, I remembered what is really important. I remembered who thinks I am valuable and why they think I am. Hearing Autumn say the word “lame” in every sentence was cracking me up. Jake talking about the church camping trip this weekend and seeing how excited he was to be going warmed my heart. Alex cracking jokes on everyone at the table made us all laugh. This is what matters. I will take a few minutes to say a prayer tonight to ask God for a little forgiveness for ever doubting my value.
On this insane search for sanity, my “me” time today was a good, good cry.
Well, we gained an hour of sleep this weekend and I am not sure how rested I feel right now, but I do know that it felt like we were all working late at the office today when it was pitch black outside at 5pm. I didn’t like it that much. Mostly because I don’t really want to be at the office after dark…it just doesn’t seem right. As a matter of fact, if I am not in my pajamas when the sun goes down…I am immediately uncomfortable. Even though I wanted to drive as fast as I could to get home and get in my pajamas, make dinner, relax on the couch, and visit with the family, I remembered I had committed to start exercising again. Grrrrrrrrr! But it was SO dark outside!!! I reluctantly changed into my gym clothes (which were really happy to see the outside of my car trunk by the way) and headed off to meet my friend Lisa for a brisk walk around downtown Pensacola. I am really glad I went! Not only is it always fun to have some girl time and talk about everything under the sun, it was just so nice to walk around such a beautiful part of Pensacola. Sometimes I take for granted what a great place I live and tonight was an excellent reminder. Before I knew it, 45 minutes had past and although it looked like it was midnight outside it was really only 6:30 and I had plenty of time to still get home to my loving (and starving) family. So even though Fall is here and Summer is gone, tonight was a good reminder to not let the shorter days allow me to get lazy. On my insane search for sanity, my “me” time today was a brisk, (dark) walk with a great friend, in beautiful city, after a stressful day. It is just what I needed and it made me feel good about myself because I did something healthy for me. I tried all day to be “good.” You know, to eat right, drink water, avoid sugar and bad carbs so I can zip my wedding dress next month….and I did it! I am taking it one day at a time and today was a good day topped off with a good walk. Wow….that one extra hour of sleep must have been a doozy!! :)
I am knee-deep in all that is wedding. I am getting married in something like 57 days and I have no idea how to plan a wedding….even a small one like this one. The first time I got married I was 19 and my mother did it all. I was really just going to elope, but then I thought about the missed opportunity of having all my family and friends together to celebrate really, anything, but especially this….and I just couldn’t do it. I don’t have any family that lives close by so this was the perfect opportunity to throw a party and get them all to the beautiful beaches of Pensacola.
This may sound weird, but so far the best part of the wedding planning has been registering. Not because of all the cool things that Larry and I might receive, I really don’t care if anyone brings a gift or not. Seriously. I mean it. I DO! But more because it has given me this fantastic idea. Why doesn’t EVERYONE register?? Like, for everything?? Do you realize how much easier that would make our lives?? First of all, it was SO easy to do. Larry and I did online, on our couch. I was in my pajamas and it took about an hour. It was fun! We went to our favorite store’s websites, we signed up for the registry, and we just clicked on everything we thought we “needed.” Now, anyone that wants to buy us a gift for the wedding can just go to the store or the website, look up our names, and our list appears with everything that we picked out. EASY!
Now….back to my brilliant idea. If everyone registered at the beginning of every year, each time I got invited to a birthday party, baby shower, retirement party, going away party, needed a Christmas present idea….BAM…just go to that person’s registry and see a full list of what they really want and need. No more guessing!!! BRILLIANT! I mean, come one people. You know we have been getting spoiled with the whole gift card idea the last few years. I am always confused on what denomination is appropriate. I mean is $25 enough, is $50 overdoing it?? YEAR-ROUND GIFT REGISTRY!!! BRILLIANT!!!! Who’s with me???
Now, if I could just get people onboard with my Sham-Wow Underwear idea…….