Am I a Funny Girl?

A Love Letter to Blue Car

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
#FueltheLove #CollectiveBias

Dear Blue Car,

We’ve come a long way together, in the last ten years. You were known only as “the Mazda,” until Max, at just about two years old, proclaimed your name to be Blue Car, and it’s stuck ever since.
The sixth car I’ve ever owned, but the first one I’ve really loved. I had never purchased a brand new car before, all of my previous vehicles had chosen me more than I had chosen them… and it shows. Ten years of communting, errands, and adventures and I love you as much as I did the day I brought you home from the dealership.

scrapbook page #fuelthelove

From my “Bucket List” scrapbook album. Notice how many miles were on it when I got it? Five.

We’ve had some amazing things happen in our time together, Blue Car. You drove Jamie and I home the day he proposed, you carried us back and forth all those trips to visit Max in the NICU when he was home, and eventually carried us safely away from the hospital when he came home to stay.

max home from hospital #fuelthelove

You had five miles on your odometer when I picked you up, and this summer we’ll cross the 215,000 mile mark. You’ve been a dream to drive, and I’ve done my best to take care of you.

214000 miles #fuelthelove

Thanks for being so awesome, Blue Car.

Love, Lizz


My 2005 Mazda3 is the first car I ever bought new, the first car I had chosen based on research and test drives, instead of just buying (or accepting, in the case of a couple of past cars!) the first thing to come along. I remember it vividly, talking with my then-boyfriend Jamie, about how this would be the car we would drive as newlyweds, and eventually even bring a baby home in. I bought the hatchback because I was already picturing myself as a mom, even though Max wouldn’t come along for another three years.

Even though I bought it new, the rules my dad had taught me about maintaining my cars had stuck with me. Keep it clean, rotate the tires, change the oil regularly. While Blue Car has been far less maintenance than the 25 year old Saab I learned to drive in, the scheduled stuff has been really important.

washing blue car #fuelthelove

Keeping up with these things can be challenging, especially with the busyness of life; working, parenting, trying to have a social life too… I need to make it as easy as possible or suddenly I find myself a thousand miles overdue on an oil change.

Enter Pennzoil at Walmart.

I can drop the car off and get my shopping done while they work; two birds, one parking lot. It’s a win/win that simplifies my life that much. Because my car is *ahem* older, we use Pennzoil’s High Mileage formula, which helps to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s specifically designed for vehicles with over 75,000 miles of them, to help keep the engines running clean and going strong for a long time.

pennzoil special walmart #fuelthelove

To make it even better, from now until September, Pennzoil oil changes will be on Rollback at Walmart Automotive Care Center stores. An oil change featuring the High Mileage formula is only $35.88 instead of $39.88, and Platinum Full Synthetic is $45.88 instead of the regular price of $49.88. Considering these oil changes are sometimes as much as $46 or $66 elsewhere, you’re getting a great deal and it’s so easy and convenient.

Pennzoil’s products are designed for complete protection and will let you to drive an additional 550 miles per year as opposed to a dirty engine, because their products help clean out the gross engine sludge that other oils leave behind. (Eew.) Pennzoil also offers a warranty that covers 15 engine parts that can fail due to engine wear or which experience abnormal wear due to friction.

Blue Car has run incredibly well for almost a quarter of a million miles, and thanks to Pennzoil at Walmart, I hope she keeps going for a quarter of a million more!

 

 

The challenge of “Family TV Time”

Acorn DisclosureWith summer comes more free time, and for us, admittedly, that means more screen time for all of us. We get away from screens, too, camping, traveling, Max goes to day camps… but we do, more often than not, end up lazing in front of the TV at the end of the day, not wanting to move too much because OMG hot.

We’re “cord cutters,” in that we ditched cable television three years ago when we moved to this house; this was a purely financial decision for us. We were paying close to $200 a month for an extended cable package and DSL internet. When we moved, we we upgraded the internet speed and pay $36 a month for it as a standalone service, and then stream our entertainment from Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, for a total of $23 a month. (I would pay for Amazon Prime even without the streaming, so I don’t count that in the monthly fees for our media consumption.) While sometimes we do miss sports coverage, we can pretty easily find a friend to invite us over to watch the game, or we’ll head to a restaurant that’s showing it.

But I digress.

giphy

We are raising Max in a world of on-demand shows and a digital media library with hundreds of options. So when it comes time to family TV time, it should be simple, but it never is. I’m not talking about movie night; it’s pretty easy to find a movie we can all enjoy, because Star Wars, but the challenge is those “It’s a half hour til bedtime, so let’s veg in front of the TV a little bit before bed/shower/toothbrushing”

Have you ever tried to democratically choose a television show with a 7 year old? It basically comes down to this:

family-tv-venn-diagram

Amirite?

When Max was two, he watched Dora and Caillou, then moved on to Thomas. At four, it was Chuck the Truck. Spongebob made a brief appearance during kindergarten. Finally, at six, he found Phineas and Ferb. Finally a show that didn’t make me want to pull my hair out three minutes in. It was smart and funny and just weird enough to keep everyone interested.

And now I talk about Phineas and Ferb in the past tense because it went off the air a couple of weeks ago. I understand it’s been a good run, and all good things must come to an end, but now we’re left with watching the same four seasons on Netflix. Over and over and over again.

I honestly don’t understand why it’s so hard to create fun, family-friendly TV shows. It’s been done once, it can be done again. Something smart, funny, engaging… the occasional fart joke is fine, but there’s so much more to comedy than that! Programming doesn’t have to be “educational” for them to learn something; the power of imagination, of making up their own worlds.

Even more importantly, the memories that are made when a family settles in to watch something together; my childhood has Little House on the Prairie, Full House, and Family Matters. What does Max’s have? We need more programming for FAMILIES.

Are you ready to binge watch? A checklist.

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Don’t lie, you know you’ve done it too. Whether it’s a new season from Netflix (thank you, Netflix powers that be, for releasing whole seasons at once!), rewatching old loves on Hulu (BTW; the entire series of Seinfeld is available now!), or even popping those old DVDs you used to collect into the player (I totally have the first four seasons of The Simpsons on DVD) we’ve all succumbed to the lure of the television binge session.

There are some important considerations to take into account when you’re preparing for a serious binge watching session, so I’ve assembled them into one handy checklist. Note: This is more for the prepared sessions, like last week’s OITNB release, not for those lazy Saturdays where you accidentally realize that you’ve watched 2 entire seasons of Friends and you should probably get up and feed your kid and brush your teeth not that I’ve ever done that. Why are you looking at me that way?)

Comfortable clothes: You don’t want to wear anything┬áthat binds or gets in the way of your happiness while binge watching. Basically nothing that feels like you’re wearing clothes. I tend towards yoga pants, some sort of ill-fitting t-shirt I got in a swag bag, and a cozy blanket to keep my feet warm. Of course, depending on the climate you’re in, you may want to skip the blankie, or maybe add a hoodie of some sort in the interest of temperature control.
cinderellaPerfect seating: Right alongside the right comfortable clothes, is the right spot to sit. Because you’ll be planted there for a number of hours, it’s important to make considerations while selecting your perch. Look out for glare on the screen, because that can be really annoying and bad for your eyes. Be aware of your location in relation to the screen, because you don’t want to be too close or too far from it. Feel free to get all Goldilocks and find the right place to sit. It’s also important to have some sort of stable surface nearby, like an end of coffee table, because you need to keep a few things close at hand.
giphyRemote nearby: Make sure the remote is somewhere that you can easily find it, because OMG nothing is worse than having to wait that full 15 seconds before the next episode starts on Netflix. (Which, can we petition for a “binge mode” that skips the countdown AND the opening credits? Because I’ve had the Mad Men opening theme stuck in my head for the last 2 weeks)
remoteSnacks: Sustenance is important, or you’ll never last through that entire season of Lost. A good snack good can help get you through the occasional terrible episode. (I’m looking at you, musical episode of 7th Heaven). Fortunately for us, we live in a world where people will BRING DELICIOUS SNACKS RIGHT TO OUR DOOR! Or, maybe your kid is old enough that you can send them to fetch things for you. We recently taught Max how to make coffee in the Keurig and it’s been a weekend morning game changer.
OINTB_pizzaHydration: All the healthy people will tell you that hydration is important, and it’s no less important while taking on a serious binge watch session. You can stick with water, if you want to be all healthy about it, but I tend to switch up my drinks depending on the time of day. It’s coffee, then water or iced tea, maybe some sparkling water, and then I’ll sometimes wrap up with a cocktail. Because real talk? Cocktails are especially important when watching Mad Men or similar shows.
hydrateQuiet house: You don’t want to be distracracted from important dialogue, so try to minimize outside distractions when binge watching. Send the kids to someone else’s house if possible, but I’ve had great success with handing over Max’s tablet for him to get screen time of his own, or reminding him that he *still* hasn’t finished the LEGO Death Star he got for Christmas.
shhhPhone set to silent: Much like loud children, you don’t want to be startled out of an important moment in your shows by a social notification or, heaven forbid, a phone call. Set it to vibrate and then stash it under a pillow. Still close by, but not a distraction.
phoneAll set! And now, you’re ready to binge watch! What’s next on your binge watch calendar?

allday

Image sources: Kimmy Schmidt | Jenna Marbles | Toy Story | OITNB | Emma Stone Source | PLL Source | Ferris Bueller | New Girl

Glimpses

Thursday #200,

Thursday #200, age almost 4

I’m not sure when it switched, but it happened some time since first grade started.

The glimpses. They switched.

First day of preschool, Sept. 2012

First day of preschool, age 4.5

I used to to see flashes of a teenaged Max, or a fleeting look at the man he will be. A smirk, a mannerism, a chuckle. I’d blink and they’d be gone, replaced again by my sweet boy, anything but a baby.

Chewing gum, age 7

Posing and chewing gum, age 7

But now, it’s the opposite.

The glimpses I catch now are of my toddler boy, in this gangly body made of knees and elbows and ever-darkening hair.
I still see those flashes of the future Mr. Porter; the grin that someone will someday fall head over heels for.

Visiting Epcot, age 7

Visiting Epcot, age 7

So now, those glimpses? Each one is precious. Max recently pinky-swore that he’d always let me give him kisses. He’s held true to that so far, but for how much longer? How long until he runs off to join his classmates before I have a chance? Or even until he’s walking himself to school, with no need for me?

Last week, as we walked across the blacktop at school, he walked with his best friend, J. I heard them laughing conspiratorially, and I glanced back to see them holding hands as they traipsed across the playground. (He doesn’t just walk anywhere these days; he traipses and runs and skips and stomps, but never just walks.) But they weren’t embarassed, no second thoughts, they were walking together, and so they were holding hands. Again, how much longer?

We’re done with first grade now, onward and upward to second. I told him I wasn’t ready for him to be a second grader, and he said “But Mommy, you have the whole summer to get used to it! Don’t worry!”

The whole summer, huh?

Celebrate summer with a pedicure gift basket!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CokeHappyHour #CollectiveBias

Celebrate summer with a pedicure gift basket! #CokeHappy Hour #ad
Ahh, summer! Hot days, warm evenings, daylight that lasts past bedtime, and one of my favorite things… sandals! I can go many weeks in between pedicures, when my toes are stashed away in socks and boots all winter, but once the weather warms up, it’s important to keep my tootsies looking their best.

My sister and I love doing pedicures together, to keep our feet in tip-top shape, so I thought it would be a lot of fun to put together a little pedicure gift basket to prepare for our meetup.

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Assembling gift baskets is one of my favorite gift ideas when I’m otherwise stumped; I keep a small stash of baskets and decorative boxes so I can put them together without too much planning. In this case, I was able to pick up everything for my presentation right at Walgreens, so it took almost no time at all to go from an idea to assembling it on the kitchen table.

When I’m putting together a basket, I’ll always start with a theme; movie night, romantic date, get well soon baskets are all things I’ve done in the past. I follow a simple formula: Something to read or watch, something to eat or drink, and then of course items required to fit the theme I’m going after.

In this case, I chose a bag of my favorite chocolates, and Coca-Colas for both of us, because who can resist when it actually has your name on it?!?!

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I found my own name at Walgreens, where they had a big display that made it easy to search through lots of bottles to find just the name I wanted; they are also running a great promotion: Every Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 to 7:00pm, Buy 1 Coca-Cola 20 oz. bottle and Get 1 Free 20 oz. bottle to share! You can load the coupon instantly on the Walgreens app or click here for more information. Additionally, May through July you get 3,000 Balance Rewards points when you buy participating Coca-Cola products when you purchase $10 of participating Coca-Cola products.

#CokeHappyHour In-Store Walgreens

For something to read, I put in a couple of my favorite “trashy” magazines; they’re a small indulgence that I don’t often buy for myself, but they’re perfect for an afternoon of pedicures and hanging out with my sister. I pulled together a few fun colors of nail polish, some fresh-smelling lotion, and a “Nail Art Starter Kit” that was just *begging* to be added.

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Looking for a couple of finishing touches, I snagged a couple of cute Coca-Cola pint glasses and some new sandals. Walgreens really is the perfect one stop shop for a project like this, it made it SO easy to put together.

A couple of tips to help with the gift basket assembly:

  • Size your container correctly for the things you have to include; like when you’re plating food; choose a slightly smaller size to help you get that overflowing look; even just the illusion of the smaller basket makes it look really appealing and fun, like it can barely contain all the awesomeness inside.
  • Create steps and layers of items; I put tall stuff, like the magazine and the sandals, sticking up in back, and then layer things in according to size. If you have lots of items of similar size, don’t be afraid to use crumpled up newspaper to help fill in the space.
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  • Don’t be afraid to take things out of their original packaging! I picked up this complete pedicure kit, but when I actually went to put it in the basket, it worked better as a collection of smaller items to put throughout the basket as space filler.
    #CokeHappyHour #ad Pedicure Kit packaged
  • Add a little finishing touch, like a ribbon bow on the handle, or jazz it up with paper shreds. (I don’t know what this stuff is actually called, but I saved it from another gift I’d received, and thought it worked well here!)
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So now that my toes are done, and it’s gorgeous outside, I’ll be relaxing here in the shade. What’s your favorite way to relax in the summer? Want to see more great ways to celebrate summer? Get more #CokeHappyHour inspiration right here.

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