Thursday, April 30, 2009

La Frugalista, part 2

So, the whole financial crisis and recession thing has given me even more permission to embrace my inner cheapskate.

Here a just a few of the ways we have "cut back" without really having to feel the pinch...

*Cable TV. We have gone back and forth on cable through the years. I think that I have finally convinced Ed that we don't watch it, and we don't need it. When there are sports he wants to watch live, I have given him my blessing to go across the street to the neighborhood sports bar for a root beer and some alone time. $50/mo savings

*Cell phone. We were able to cut way back on our phone expenses because Ed was issued the crackberry for work. We also started skyping. $40/mo

*Refinance. I'm hopeful we can refinance our house....I'll find out in a few days if we qualify. I'll be really disappointed if we don't, since we put down 20% on our home when we bought it. $300-400/mo

*Stamps. I finally got around to setting up our bill-paying online which will save us a little in postage each month. $5/mo

*Home cleaning products. I am making a lot of our home cleaning products these days. I like the smell of vinegar and lemon in our house, but Ed does not. Maybe when he starts cleaning the house, I will let him pick our cleaning products. I also stopped purchasing napkins and I am keeping a very limited supply of paper towels on hand. $10/mo

*Garden. I am hopeful that my garden will be profitable (meaning that I will harvest more than I spend) this year. Last year I barely broke-even, but I learned a lot during my rookie gardening year.

*Health club membership. I never actually signed up, but I had budgeted for it this year. Right now, I have plenty of workout options between biking and running the Reston trails, renting pilates dvds from the library, and the mini-trampoline I purchased on craigslist for $10. $90/mo

*Eating Out. My goal is to eat out 2 times a month instead of our usual 4. With the exception of our vacation, I think we've been on track with this. $40-50/mo

Total potential savings: approx $550/mo

Final thought:

This recession sucks eggs. It's hard to see friends lose their jobs, and worry about your own. It's hard to see people losing their homes, their money, their hope. It's hard to see everyone suffer because of the sheer greed of a few. I do understand the fundamental necessity of recessions, but not the pain. Don't mistake this post as excitement for our current economic situation, but rather a small, silver lining.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spring Break '09: Riding the Garbage Truck with Abuelo

The boys were both besides themselves with excitement when we turned a corner and found Abuelo in his garbage truck working his route. He has attained hero status in their eyes. A few years from now, they may change their minds about wanting to drive a garbage truck for a living, but I hope they always keep "BAYLO" as one of their heroes.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring Break '09: The Beach

We spent two glorious days playing on the SoCal beaches. One day was spent at La Bolsa Chica "Little Bag" state park in the OC, and the other day was in Santa Monica.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Break '09: Travel town

We skipped Disneyland this trip in favor of exploring lesser-known attractions in and around LA. One of our favorites was Travel Town, a train museum located in Griffith Park.

Asher loved the trains, Noe loved Asher, Ed & I loved the entrance fee (free!)


for my Grandpa Razz

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Spring Break '09: Grave Hunting

Ever since I read about Biddy Smith Mason at fmh, I have been in awe of this woman. (Read her story here!) When I discovered that she rested in a cemetary just a block from Ed's family's home in East Los Angeles, I looked forward to paying my respect on our next trip out West.

Her headstone reads:

Biddy Mason 1818-1891, former slave, philanthropist, humanitarian. Founding member First African Methodist Episcopal Church 1872, Los Angeles California.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Break '09: Solvang

It was a complete tourist trap, but Ed's mom was really excited about taking us, so we tried to make it a fun day. I decided that if Solvang really does resemble a European village, I no longer feel a strong pull to tour Europe.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Break '09: Easter in East LA

A little Easter cheer outside El Mercadito, in Ed's hood.

For dinner we had carne asada on the grill outside, with all the traditional Easter trimmings: rice, beans and tortillas. Ed's mom made a traditional Easter dessert: Capirotada. It is like a really loaded up bread pudding....raisins, prunes, coconut, even garbanzo beans. After picking out the prunes, I really enjoyed it!

And really, what is Easter without a brinca-brinca (blowup jumping castle) in your yard?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Break '09: Road trip

Not long after our plane touched down in LA, Ed and I took off on a road trip to the Bay Area.
We took the PCH (Hwy 1) on our way up, and enjoyed the magnificent views and sunshine (and as you can see, I desperately needed some sun! Geez, I could be a vampire extra in the new Twilight movie).
We stopped for lunch in Monterrey, visited friends with new cute babies, dined and shopped in Palo Alto....
and enrolled the boys at Stanford University.

All in all, not bad for a night away!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Evolution of cross country travel

Our cross country voyages to visit family have become infinitely easier in the past couple of years. This trip...and this one...are all but distant memory. I never even found the courage to write about the worst of them all....Christmas '05 when I flew Noe and Asher back to New York from Portland alone. Noe had just turned 3 and was recovering from strep throat (not contagious, but still feeling miserable). Asher had just turned 1. There was vomit, poop, tears, myriads of screaming and an unexpected 5 hour on-plane layover in Salt Lake City (it was supposed to be a non-stop flight).

Anyways, our most recent spring break flying experience was pretty relaxed. The highlights included:

*getting randomly selected (me, the WHITE WOMAN) for a pat-down while my brown husband and brown boys walked right through onto the plane. Where is the justice, I say? It was a little embarassing, having an entire flight's worth of passengers watching you get patted down. Couldn't they at least have a little curtained-off area?

*convincing Asher that the button on your arm rest that lifts your seat down makes the plane go and stop.

*watching a passenger sit down next to Asher where his pretend kitty cat was sitting, only to hear him yell at the man, "You are sitting on my kitty cat!" and then make pretend dying-cat meowing noises.

On our flight back last night, a man sitting next to us complimented me on my "well behaved children" and "great parenting" and how "the one behind never even made a peep ." I had to laugh based on our flying history, and also on the fact that Asher was watching dvds most of the flight (great parenting indeed) and Noe (the one sitting behind us) .....well....we all wish Noe would "peep" more.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

World Autism Awareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day. Don't forget to hug your favorite little person with autism....and don't forget to send prayers/good vibes and your money to help find a cure.

Here is a good, fairly concise article explaining the current politics and science of autism.

Here and here are less concise blog posts on autism written by me in the past.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

spring break packing list

1. digital camera (+ charger)
2. 2 cell phones (+ chargers)
3. gps (+ charger)
4. laptop
5. portable dvd player (+ dvds)
6. blackberry (+ charger)
7. 2 ipods (+ chargers)
8. 4 swimsuits and 4 pairs of sunglasses

when did vacationing become so ...... radioactive?