Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Bradley is "super" proud of his awesome Halloween costume, complete with muscles!
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's....
SuperMom and SuperMan
After reading an article in the paper yesterday about the trick-or-treating in downtown Franklin in the historic district, we decided to give that a try this year.  It was phenomenal, and we will be going back.  We parked in the lot behind Starbucks at Five Points, and walked a block up to West Main Street, and instantly it felt like we were in a movie.  Everything from the the mild weather, clear sky, bright moon, walking the sidewalk-lined streets, shuffling through the leaves up to each historic home was absolutely picturesque.  There were trick-or-treaters Everywhere; it was amazing.  Houses were decorated, and I mean Seriously decorated, and the herds of people moved slowly down the sidewalk of West Main Street, waiting patiently for their turn to go up to the house. 

This house not only had this great display on their front porch, but they offered a really cool haunted house through their garage.
Slowly making our way from house to house
However, THIS house is the one Bradley will be talking about for the next year.  They decorated their front yard using a Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" theme.  The lady giving out the candy was the Queen of Hearts.  Well B was right in front of her when she decided to let out a festive, in-character cackle, which I happened to snap a picture of... which prompted B to burst out into tears!!!  The Queen felt so bad she gave us extra candy, but all B would talk about for the rest of the evening was that he didn't like the Wonderland Queen.

This house was pretty incredible, too.  I thought B might be scared of some of the decorations, but he seemed to get that all this "spooky" stuff was just pretend, and just for fun... except for that mean Wonderland Queen!  He was paticularly excited to see, and speak to, an adult dressed like Darth Vader.
Trick or treat!

Our Scary jack-o-lanterns

He did all the hard work, and then the adults helped themselves to the spoils!  This trick-or-treat thing is a great idea!  B got lots of Twix- one of my faves- but no Tootsie Rolls, Grandma B's favorite. 

Eating some skulls and bones Sweet Tarts
Showing off his candy
We probably only made it up and back a few blocks on West Main and didn't even venture off to other side streets before Superman was tired and ready to come home.  Plus, just minutes before we arivved home, the caped crusader had to pee, so it was great timing.  If you ask Bradley if he had fun trick or treating, he will say "no."  If you ask "why not?" he will tell you "because of the Mean Wonderland Queen."  But deep down, I know he had a good time tonight.  Come one, come all with us, to downtown Franklin next year!

Friday, October 21, 2011

National Switch Your Bank Day

If you are as unhappy with extra fees from your bank as I am with mine (Regions) then I urge you to take action and do something about it.  There's even a national movement to switch banks by November 5th that you can read about here: http://moneyland.time.com/2011/10/10/bank-transfer-day-urges-americans-to-leave-big-banks/ and RSVP to the event to switch banks on Facebook!
 
I just read an article here: http://moneyland.time.com/2011/10/12/how-to-divorce-your-bank-in-5-easy-steps/ that tells you how to go about the process of switching logistically, that can help you simplify the process, and make sure you have your game plan in tact, should you decide to switch banks.  I am in the process of switching already, and it certainly is a hassle to transfer money while making sure bills are paid on time, plus getting all the direct deposit set up and accounts linked together.
 
After my friend Rachel's comment on my blog about PerkStreet, I have decided to give this a try.  (Who doesn't want 1 to 2% cash back on every single purchase?!)
 
So far, PerkStreet is great in that they seem to have tons of local ATMs where you can withdraw cash (perk!), but the downside so far is that I signed up online for an account a week ago but still haven't received my debit card or checks from them, so my account (and the money that I transferred) is just kind of sitting in limbo.
 
I'll keep you posted on the progress of my switch, but I would encourage anyone who is getting slapped with fees (Citibank, Regions and BOA are the biggies right now) to stick it to the man, and do something about this.  Credit Unions are all advertising free, no fee, checking accounts, as well as ING Direct: http://home.ingdirect.com/products/products.asp?s=ElectricOrange, and the one I'm trying (backed by Dave Ramsey, if any of you care to know), PerkStreet: http://www.perkstreet.com/default.aspx

Monday, October 17, 2011

Whistling Dixie (part 2)

This is an amendment to a post from a few months ago which commented on the abundance of current pop songs with whistling in them.  After a road trip this weekend, the driver and other passenger also remarked on this whistling phenomenon, so we added a few newer songs to the previously-compiled list
The Lazy Song- Bruno Mars
Moves Like Jagger- Maroon Five/Christina Aguilera
Are there any others I'm missing? 
Next up, bringing back the sax solo (a la Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night") - gee, I hope that's not a trend! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I passed the test

I'm still not claiming the "vegetarian" moniker, but I have been eating a vegetarian diet since mid-July.  My family thinks I'm weird that I just up and decided to stop eating meat one day.  And to be honest, I can't give you some big grandiose diatribe of why I'm doing what I'm doing; it's a lot of little reasons, and still very much an experiment,  and yesterday in my little experiment, I passed the ultimate test!
 
We had dinner at O'Charley's for Aunt Peggy's birthday.  O'Charley's, of course, is home to the famous Chicken O'Tenders, the main staple of my diet from childhood through college.  After college my metabolism slowed down and I realized that man does not eat on chicken fingers and french fries alone, lest man get fat... so I started to become more health-conscious about what I ate.
 
This was my first trip to O'Charley's since I started eating vegetarian.  That big green and white sign ominously stared me down as I entered the restaurant.  I already wanted Chicken O'Tenders so bad and I wasn't even in the place yet!
 
Before ordering, I ventured a question to our server that I was pretty sure I already knew the answer to after glancing at their menu. 
 
Me:  Do you have any vegetarian options on your menu?
Dopey Server:  No, I don't think so...  do you eat chicken?
 
Did he really just say that??? 
 
I'm not putting Bradley on the vegetarian diet though, so he sat right next to me and got Chicken O'Tenders while I got a spinach salad, and 86'ed the chicken.  I'm not gonna lie.  When his plate came, I was so tempted to steal one of those chicken pieces.  However, the longer I sat there, cutting up bite sized pieces for him with a fork, while straining to cut threw sinuous processed meat, the chicken tenders became less and less appetizing.  The fries, however, I did steal on occasion from his plate. 
 
I feel like David, just having beaten my Chicken O'Tender Goliath!  If I can conquer a trip to O'Charley's and not give in and eat the Chicken O'Tenders, I can conquer anything.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Peter Piper did not pick a pumpkin today

It was a busy day for us today:  9 a.m. Honeybadgers game, followed by a quick trip to Target to change clothes, and then we headed to Gentry's Farm in Franklin to pick pumpkins.  After a brief stop at home, which was meant to be for a nap time that didn't happen, we left again to go to a family friend's 1st birthday party in Murfreesboro, and by the time we came home, Bradley was sufficiently worn out and ready for bed.

What a difference a week makes, too.  Last Saturday, it got in the 30's overnight.  Today it was, dare I say, almost too warm to be outside, gorgeous and sunny in the low 80's.

We have been to Gentry's every year since Bradley was a year old, but this year we paid the $6 to go into the activity area of the farm, and I am so glad we did!  The activity area was nothing like I was envisioning, and was actually geared more towards preschoolers rather than older kids like I had assumed.

The little log cabin- B loved playing "house" in here
How Tall This Fall

Bradley measured at 37 inches- just over 3 feet tall this year.  I hope we can keep coming back every year and take this same picture to see how much he's grown.

A table of pumpkins
Riding the kiddie tractors
As far as farm animals go, we saw sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, horses, and cows.

Gentry's advertises hayrides, but that's misleading.  Really, it's a tractor ride.  They have this route down to a science, and it wasn't what I was expecting at all.  One big tractor pulls 2 large trailers behind with wooden benches where everyone politely sits one right next to the other.  The 6th generation owner of the farm gives you a little bit of history about the place, and away you go.  We did get to see cows up close, and Bradley was just tickled to be pulled by a tractor, so I'd say the ride was still a success even though the rest of the historic houses on the tour were more appropriate for the adults.
Papa pushing B on the tire swing
I'm so happy playing with corn
Under one open air barn were rows of troughs with dry corn in them, with funnels, and containers of different shapes and sizes.  You wouldn't think pouring corn from a funnel into a plastic bottle was the most fun activity ever invented, but Bradley would have stayed there all day if I'd let him.  It was nice and shaded, plus there were bales of straw for the parents to sit on and rest while the kiddos played.  I caught sight of some amazing That Ain't Right Inspiration, so hop on over here to see a lady with her back barn door wide open.  I also had a conversation with a lady sitting next to me about what the difference is between hay and straw.  According to her, hay is what the animals eat, and straw is what they put down on the ground.  I'm still not sure what the difference is though.
Bradley with Grandma & Grandpa B
Bradley & Mommy
The quintessential Gentry's pictures on the truck- I have to get them every year!

Bradley's favorite part of the farm when I asked him was all the slides, and there were several.  
Not scared to sit in the tree this year
showing off his baby pumpkin
Our last activity at Gentry's for the afternoon was to head out to the pumpkin patch and pick our own pumpkin.  Last year, the Tennessee heat ruined the pumpkin crops, so there were none to be had.  This year, we came too early.  Even though Gentry's baited the field with orange pumpkins placed artfully by the edges of the rows, all the pumpkins still on the vine were green.  I took Bradley by the hand and lead him dutifully into the middle of the pumpkin patch, cautiously watching every place my foot touched.  The serpentine vines covering the ground only served to fuel my fears that we would catch sight of a snake, and be stuck out in the middle of a field!  Bradley, I said calmly, now if Mommy tells you to run, you Run Now, okay?  Luckily there were no reptiles seen on this venture.  But if there had been, man, I was ready!

Our Peter Piper who did not pick a pumpkin
So alas, my dreams of picking our own pumpkin today were shattered.  Oh well.  It was fun to look, and hands down, the activity section of the farm was well worth the $6.  It was a great way to spend this beautiful fall day.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Show me the Money!

Some financial advice needed, here, particularly if you're local.  I bank with Regions, and recently, I am now being charged $4.00 a month to use my debit card.  I'm sorry, but I don't want to pay the bank money, so I can spend money.  I called Regions about this a few weeks ago and they tried to placate me by telling me it's only 24
cents a day, and I responded, "yes, but it's $4 a month, and that adds up!"  From what limited reading I've done on the subject, it sounds like most of the major banks are already charging this fee, or will be soon.

My temporary solution has been to use my credit card soley, and then pay it off as quickly as I make charges, but this is really a hassle, plus it takes several days for the payments to clear, which is annoying.

So I'm wondering if there are any financially savvy readers out there who know a way around paying this type of fee, or if you bank with another financial institution that isn't charging the monthly debit card fee.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A store story

Fall is here.  The countdown to Halloween is on, and Bradley is going to be Superman for Halloween this year.  He couldn't be more proud to put on that costume!  And it's not the cheapie-cheap kind either- this one has real "muscles" on it aka it's 3 times as expensive.  I didn't care how much I paid for the costume the moment I saw him try it on when we got home, and his face lit up!

On that note, Bradley went on a nap strike last Sunday afternoon, so I took him with me to run some errands (getting the costume was one of them), and I warned myself before we left that taking an over-tired preschooler on a multiple store shopping excursion was possibly a recipe for disaster, so I prioritized and ran the important errands first.  You know what?  We had an absolute blast!  Or at least I did, anyways.  Sure, it took me longer to get through the stores because he stops to look (and touch) everything, but to quote one of our favorite bedtime books, Llama Llama Mad at Mama, "I think shopping's boring too, but at least I'm here with you."

I'll tell you another thing- shopping with a child is automatic spend-control!  You can't browse too long in the purse section of TJ Maxx before being urged to move on to something else.  Having Bradley with me kept me on track, preventing me from shopping for items that weren't on our list!

He was well-behaved, and he only knocked down one display at the Gap!  Yeah, I ventured in there because I had a coupon, but decided quickly that this was not a good idea, nor was it a priority today.
Knock down a sign and make a racket?  Time to go- see?  That's automatic spend-control!  I think I'm onto something here, and I'll be taking Bradley with me on all some of my shopping trips from now on!  (Hey, a girl's gotta fall into the Gap flying solo every now and then...)

Monday, October 03, 2011

DZ mini reunion

They say your college friends are the ones you keep forever, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Three of my sorority sisters, Amanda, Colleen, and Stephanie, drove down from Kentucky on Saturday to spend the night, and we had a fun evening out together.  We reminisced and laughed about old stories.  We caught up on each others' lives, and the lives of our fellow Delta Zetas (reporting what we had seen and heard through Facebook, of course) and even started to moan and groan about our newfound aches and pains as a result of getting older!  While sitting around the kitchen table talking, we actually had to Google what was in a Jaeger Bomb was because there was a dispute about what constituted one!  You know you're getting old when... :)  Another "senior" moment occurred at Drakes where we went to eat, when two of us asked our server if they could split a Red Bull.  The server kind of cocked her head to the side and said, "you mean, just a Red Bull, with no alcohol added in?"  Yep, you got it! 
It was a late dinner out, but an early night in for us that started at Drakes, and ended with us falling asleep on the couch watching Saturday Night Live!  What we did and where we went didn't matter.  It was the company that made all the difference.  You could say the Delta Zeta lamps are still burning bright and true for us.