Mid-life Without the Crisis

It really isn't the destination, but the journey. May be cliche, but it's true.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Story for All Ages

Harry Potter is a big deal at our house.  Our daughter was 9 years old when the first book was released.  There was all kinds of buzz, both good and bad, about the book, so I read it after Carrie did to see what the hullabaloo was about.  I loved it!  We continued to enjoy the next few books as they were released.

One day, Carrie decided that since her dad was always building things and rarely picked up a book, she would read the books to him while he worked.  So she read book after book to him.  One night, she went to bed, having stopped reading at a pivotal moment, and Alan finished reading the book, having caught the bug, so to speak.

When the 6th book came out, we went to the midnight release because we simply couldn't wait.  I remember Carrie had her friend Lydia over that weekend, and the girls spent every waking moment reading it to each other.  I had to grab it when they went to sleep, and then Alan got it after I fell asleep.  We all finished it that weekend.

For the final book, we got 2 copies so there was less sharing and coordinating that had to go on.

We were also at the midnight showing of the first movie.  I think we stood in that line for hours, and there were only about 6 people in the line in front of us.

So now the first part of the 2-part finale opened this weekend.  Alan and I didn't do the midnight showing because he had his eyes dilated yesterday and wasn't up to going out, but I think we'll be at one of the late shows tonight or tomorrow.  (Stop by and say hi if you see us!)

I know the haters like to dump on the stories because they involve witchcraft (though the same people are fine with wizards in Lord of the Rings.  Go figure.), or the fact that Harry often breaks rules (and always pays the consequences).  And I know that J.K. Rowling has not written great literature here, and borrows heavily from other sources.  But what makes the stories so great, to me anyway, is the central idea about friendship.  How just because you're a blood relative of someone, that doesn't mean you are going to be like them, or even that you have TO like them.  And it's the friends you love who are your true family.  And home is where the heart is.

Those are important issues, ones that we should probably consider.

Plus it's just a lot of fun!!

In case you've somehow had your head in the sand and have missed it, here's the trailer for the newest release.  Makes you wanna go see it, doesn't it!!?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Save Some Money

Whether you're unemployed, underemployed, or just trying to save a bit for a special vacation or Christmas presents, saving money can be important.  And it turns out that there are lots of simple ways to trim your budget.  A little here, a little there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.

Here are some of the methods my family has used to save money.
  1. Skip movie theaters.  We only see movies in the theater that are big special effects films.  Aliens, superheroes and monsters we tend to spend the big bucks on.  Romantic comedies and other genres can wait until they hit DVD or Netflix.
  2. Netflix.  For $9 a month, we can get as many DVDs by mail as we want, and we can watch tons of movies and TV shows online.  It's usually a better deal than paying extra on your cable or satellite bill for movie channels.  (I've sent all my Facebook followers a link for a first month free.  If you are not a Facebook follower or didn't get the link and want it, be sure to contact me and let me know.)
  3. Cook at home.  Eating out is so convenient and easy, but the money adds up fast.  We eat out only a couple times a month instead of a couple times a week.  You can save a lot this way.  Taking your own meals for lunch at work is a big savings too.
  4. Take out.  When we do get restaurant food, we generally do it as take out instead of eating in the restaurant.  It saves us the tip.  I know this is super cheap, but sometimes you do what you gotta do.
  5. Coupons.  When you are doing all that grocery shopping, be sure to use coupons.  It used to be that the only way to get coupons was to get the paper or magazines.  You'd spend more on those things than you'd save.  But now coupons can be printed from online providers or even sent to your cell phone.  Check out Coupon Mom, Redplum, and Smartsource for printable coupons, and Cellfire for digital ones.  Coupons reset each month, and you can usually print up to 3 of the same coupon each month.
  6. Savings alerts.  Sign up with your favorite store or blogger for newsletters that let you know when something is on sale.  I have gotten some beautiful jewelry for free this way.  You never know who might be giving something away.  Check your favorite store's website, or try out Faithful Provisions.
  7. Make virtual money.  You can use Swagbucks to earn Swag points that you can then use to buy all sorts of things, from jewelry to game systems to gift cards.  Or take surveys at My View to earn points that can then be used on gift cards. 
These are just a few of my money-saving tips.  What tips do you have for us?

P.S.  As an added bonus to today's blog, here's a video of one of my favorite bands singing about this very topic. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Simple, Positive Changes

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.  ~Albert Einstein

Our modern world can be very complicated at times.  We have so many demands on our time and attention that we often get to the point that we believe solutions to problems also require complicated measures, but that's not necessarily true.  I was perusing through some old magazines (I love magazines, but am too cheap to subscribe, so I pick up old freebies at the library) and found some interesting and simple tips for dealing with issues we may all deal with.  Here's what I learned:

  1. A one-hour session of lying or sitting in a quiet room with soft lighting, eyes closed, listening to sounds of nature of soft instrumental music is just as effective at easing stress as a one-hour massage.  Plus it's cheaper!
  2. Breaking up a work-out of 30 minutes into 3 10-minute sessions throughout the day is just as effective at relieving pain and stiffness from arthritis or fibromyalgia as a longer session.  Plus it's easier to do and is less daunting.  
  3. Drivers who always drive the same route are more likely to zone out, drive on "autopilot," and have an accident than those who take a different course on occasion.  Plus studies suggest that doing new things prevents Alzheimer's.  
  4. Drinking plenty of water, washing your hands, spending time outdoors in the fall and winter, getting 8 hours of sleep, and avoiding or dealing effectively with stress are good ways to prevent colds and flu.  Plus it's cheaper than that nighttime medicine!
Life is difficult enough.  Find ways to simplify.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010