Thursday, January 28, 2010

Suddenly I See

So Dave and I had our eye exams last week. Now that we finally have vision insurance I chose to pick up some glasses to wear at night. I'll really need them when we're at TCH. Hospitals are so dry inside. The last time my eyes were killing me! My contacts were all dry and gooey. Ew! Blech!

I have to say I was shocked at what a huge difference vision insurance made in our yearly eye care bill. We both received exams, new frames and lenses, and I got six months of contacts (expensive Toric lenses) for $255. Whoa, right? Dave's frames and lenses normally run that much--and that's without all the extras like anti-glare and Transitions and all that nifty stuff.

We picked up our glasses today. I haven't worn glasses in about thirteen years. Yeah, um, talk about a mind fuck. I took out my contacts and slipped them on and proceeded to almost puke and then trip over my own feet for an hour. Ugh. It's going to take a while to get used to only being able to see right in front of me instead of having all around vision provided by contacts. But the frames are cute and snazzy so that's a plus.

Tomorrow I'm heading out to do some shopping at Kroger's Mega Deal event (Stockpile, Baby!) and to get my hair did. Eyebrows too. I'm sporting the caterpillar look! Nyx is almost 5 months old so it's time to start getting back to my old self, you know? That means cutting back on the Nacho Libre days (stretchy pants, how I love thee!) and doing something with my hair and face every day, even if it's just a nice ponytail and some lip gloss. When I look good, I feel good.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Today Dave and I realized we've become very, um, crunchy. It started slowly. First we became frugal. Then we became fans of recycling, repurposing and Freecycle. We switched to canvas shopping bags and water bottles that can be refilled. (We do keep a stock of emergency water in bottles though.) We're moving away from paper towels and napkins in favor of cloth too.

When I started dieting and running and taking care of myself, we began frequenting the outdoor farmer's market for produce. Free range eggs found their way into our refrigerator too. I started making whole wheat breads of various types and pasta. I haven't baked in a while but I'm so keen to get my hands busy again. And, really, who doesn't enjoy the smell of freshly baked bread?

As parents, we've somehow fallen into attachment parenting. I didn't even know what the hell attachment parenting was until a few days ago when someone mentioned our style fits that definition. Uh, okay. Whatever. We just sort of did what felt natural to us. We breastfeed, baby wear, co-sleep and cloth diaper. (That co-sleeping thing happened by accident but I'll post on that sometime this week.)

Dave and I have decided we're going to start to slowly wean our diets of processed foods. Now that we have a freezer we can purchase a quarter of a grass fed cow. We have access to grass fed and free range pork and poultry too. This spring, we'll plant a small garden. My mother-in-law has offered to teach me to can which will enable us to purchase fruits and veggies in season from the farmer's market or harvest them from our garden and save them for the long-term.

Are we going to go crazy and swear off all fast food and the occasional bag of Oreos? Nah. We'll still make use of some convenience foods and enjoy yummy tasties like chips and such. But I think for our overall health and to reach our long-term goal of self-sufficiency and possible homesteading this is a good start.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Midnight Craving

Midnight Craving, my first release with Samhain, is out today. Writing this novella was so much fun. There's just something about sexy half-angels and tempting half-demons that revs my engine! Working with my fabulous editor, Deborah Nemeth, to tighten the storyline and amp up the plot was just as cool. I really learned a lot on this book.

I hope you'll enjoy the first installment in Jace and Isla's story! Can't wait to get the next one out to you!

When the craving takes hold, the only thing to do is ride it out…

Midnight Vice, Book 1

Patrolling Houston’s gritty supernatural underbelly has its perks. For Isla Alvarez, it’s working alongside nephilim SWAT Officer Jace Lane. Ruggedly handsome and possessed of mad skills, Jace embodies everything she’s ever wanted.

Unfortunately, the demonic blood pumping through her veins keeps them separated, since relationships between human descendants of archangels and demons aren’t actively encouraged. Staying away from him, though, is impossible after she winds up on the receiving end of a nasty sexual-compulsion curse, courtesy of a sadistic vampiress. Suddenly Isla is overwhelmed with a life-threatening lust only Jace can sate.

Jace’s principles were once strong enough to resist his longing for the alluring Isla, but in the face of her desperate craving, his desire breaks free—leaving him wondering if she’s not the only one affected by the spell. He’d be more than happy to satisfy Isla’s increasing need for sexual release, if they weren’t in a race against time to reverse the curse before it turns deadly.

For Isla, it’s not just her life she’s worried about losing. It’s her heart.

Warning: Contains wicked hot shower sex, raging-hormone-induced naughty language, driving under the influence (of overwhelming lust) and smiting of demons and vamps.

Read an excerpt from the first chapter here. Check out more excerpts and info here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

No Phone Zone

So I've decided that I'm no longer going to answer my cell phone with my headset when I drive. I never text while driving but I'm so guilty of yapping while driving. Well no more. I'm a mother now and I have to be responsible. I won't put my baby or someone else's at risk because I'm being selfish and stupid.

Starting today, my phone and headset will stay in my purse while I'm driving. I will wait until I'm parked to make or return phone calls. I'm not ballsy enough to think I'm talented enough to talk and drive anymore. Just watching one segment of Oprah and listening to one mother talk about finding the mangled body of her child under an SUV was enough for me.

Take the pledge. Make our roads safe again.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bits and Pieces

1. Dave and I were watching the five o'clock news yesterday and saw this story about a local-ish rescue group taking in a pack (gaggle? flock? skein?) of miniature donkeys roaming free in the county. They were so cute!

Me: Hey, we should get Nyx a miniature donkey!
Dave, pointing at Bosley: We already have one jackass in this house. We don't need another.

2. My yahoo addresses were sending out trashy spam. I didn't know this until just a few days ago because I rarely check those addies. I seem to have picked up some random virus from a writer's group. If you received one of these messages, you might want to run your antivirus and malware software. Maybe change your email password.

3. Walgreens on Rock Prairie can go to hell. No, really. I have never had such a hard time getting a prescription refill. It's for the kiddo's propranolol. It has to be compounded or ordered specifically in the 20mg/5mL solution. She seems to be the only person in town who takes this version of the med because the pharmacists lose their effing minds every time we call to have this 'scrip filled.

This time takes the cake. Dr. Patt's office sent the refill last Wednesday and I confirmed later that afternoon. Dave called Sunday to make sure it was ready. I received an automated call telling me it was ready. I stopped by on Monday afternoon--and it wasn't ready. While I waited for the pharmacy folks to sort out the screw up, I got to listen to some old crone complain about her hemorrhoids and H1N1 injection site while another guy whined about his kidney stones and wiener pain. Awesome!

I was assured the 'scrip would be ready Tuesday morning. I hit the drive-thru on Tuesday at noon--and was told the prescription wouldn't be ready until Friday, at the earliest.

What. The. Flying. Fuck.

Me to Pharmacy Dude: You might want to pick up that phone receiver because I don't think you want the rest of the customers to hear what I'm about to say over the speaker.

Pharmacy Dude hastily complied. I proceeded to lose my everlovin' mind. It would be one thing if this was some stupid heartburn medication or something but Nyx needs this medication. The propranolol relaxes her pulmonary artery enough to allow blood to reach her lungs. Without it, she'll croak. This is why we fill this prescription 7-14 days before we run out of doses.

In the end, it worked itself out--but not before I nearly blew a pupil.

4. Speaking of assholes! Pat Robertson, shame, shame, shame on you! Blaming a catastrophic earthquake on some supposed pact with the devil in the 1700s is ridiculous and disgusting. You, sir, are a douchebag.

5. The situation in Haiti makes me sad. :(

6. I still want a miniature donkey.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And The Countdown Begins

First things first. A new year, a new look. The new layout is a work in progress so things might change over the next few days.

Secondly, Dr. Fraser's office called yesterday to schedule the kiddo's open heart surgery. We head down to Houston on the 16th of February for a detailed echo (Nyx will be sedated for it) and a meeting with one of the staff cardiologists. On the 17th, Nyx will be admitted to the 15th floor (cardiac ward) and undergo all of her pre-op tests and procedures. She'll be wheeled into surgery early on the morning of the 18th.

After her open heart procedure, Nyx will spend 7-10 days in the CVICU, Cardiac Step Down, and then just the cardiac floor. We will likely spend another week in Houston after her discharge from TCH.

Dave will probably go back to work once Nyx is out of the CVICU. It's not really a money issue but more Dave's nerves. He's impossible to be around when he's stuck in one place for too long, especially some place as busy as a hospital. No, really. He gets all grumpy and grrr. It's definitely one of those "Don't Poke the Bear" issues.

I'll be at TCH from February 17th through Nyx's discharge and then a further week in Houston somewhere. (We're working out the details.) By the time the kiddo is on the 15th floor for Step Down, we'll have a private room so I won't have to worry about safety and such. Dave will be with me when we're doing the daily shuffle between the Ronald McDonald House or the 17th floor waiting room.

Mom and Dad have rented a space for their camper at one of the upscale RV parks serving families seeking treatment in the Texas Medical Center. Dad will have to head back to New Mexico after a few days but Mom will stay from the 16th of February through the 28th. Where she'll go after that is still up in the air. Probably our house since she's offered to stay with us once the kiddo is released from the hospital and is able to come home. We'll definitely need the help.

Layna is such a sweetheart! She's agreed to look after Bosley. Actually, strike that. She's a saint. Bosley can be such a turd. Only a saint would take him on. Layna didn't even hesitate when I asked. Best Friend of the Year Award Nominee? Uh, yeah.

So anywho. Dave and I are nervous and stressed but we're trying to be positive. Soon Nyx will have a fixed ticker. Barring the need for a pacemaker or another valve replacement, she shouldn't need another surgery for at least, oh, ten years or so. Maybe more.

Because the 16th is the last night we'll have our little family together with any sort of privacy, Dave and I chose to splurge and reserve a nice suite in a downtown Houston hotel. It will be nice to have Nyx to ourselves for that night because for the following two weeks, we'll have to share her with nurses and doctors and surgeons. It'll also be the last night Dave and I will be able to sleep in a real bed for weeks. Might as sleep in style, eh?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Coupon Crazy

So a lot of folks have asked how I plan my shopping trips and whether or not I use The Grocery Game. I'm not a fan of paying for info I can get for free since I'm a super cheapo. So here's how I roll.

1) Check Hot Coupon World for a look at the upcoming coupons. If they look good, I'll tell Dave to pick up a paper or two or three.

2) If I miss the paper because we forgot to hit up or couldn't get out to the store, I hit up various online coupon printing sites. Sometimes I visit The Coupon Master and order what I need. On this site, you order coupons in multiples of three for eight or so cents a piece. Even if I spend, say, six or seven dollars on a stack of coupons, I easily save that on my shopping trips.

3) I scour the ads for my favorite stores online and match my coupons to sales. I also use sites like Money Saving Mom, Hip2 Save, and For The Mommas to plan my shopping lists now that I don't have as much free time to devote to deal scenarios.

4) I create two week menu plans consisting of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks based on the Insulin Resistance Diet or The Mediterranean diet built around the weekly sales on meat and produce. On very rare occasions, I'll pay full price for a specific cut of meat if Dave and I really want something specific. Dave brown bags his meals at work.*

Once I have my grocery list together, I take a look at our pantry and toiletry stockpiles. I then see what CVS, Walgreens or Kroger are offering on sale. When it comes to pantry or toiletry stockpiles, I have a few rules.

1) Never pay full price. Hell, most times I won't buy something unless I'm getting it for fifty cents or less. Yes, I buy toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, tooth brushes, and shaving cream for fifty cents or less--often for free. I'll spend up to three or so dollars on toilet paper, razors, deodorant and lotions. Most of the time, I get things for a buck fifty or less. And, no, this is not off brand or generic stuff.

2) I only buy convenience foods if they're free or almost free. For instance, my pantry is stocked with boxes of Kraft Mac n Cheese, Betty Crocker yummies of all varieties, Bisquick, Fruit Rollups, Campbells Soups, French's Mustard, Pace Picante, Knorr's Noodles (Alfredo and such) and other similar foods that I was able to stock up on with coupons and sales for free or a couple of dimes. No, really. How?

Say Kroger has French's Spicy or Honey Mustards on sale for 2/3. I have two fifty cent off of one coupons. My Kroger doubles coupons up to fifty cents. I just bought 2 full-size French's Mustards for a buck or fifty cents each. Woohoo!

3) CVS ECBs rock! Extra Care Bucks are the awesomeness. Seriously. So the other day I bought nearly $70 worth of toiletries, juice, light bulbs and more for $37 after coupons. On top of my thirty plus dollars of savings, I earned $14 worth of ECBs. I will combine those ECBs with sales in the upcoming weeks to create more ECBs and to buy Gillette razors or cartridges or Old Spice stuff Dave likes for nothing out of pocket.

No, really. Once you make that initial investment at CVS, you can roll over those ECBs when you buy products you need that also earn ECBs. Last year, I did this once and used, like, $20 worth of ECBs to fund my stockpiling for six or seven months. Only when the kiddo came and I got out of my couponing habits for a few months did I use up those ECBs without replacing them.

I'll be honest. This kind of committed couponing and home cooking takes some effort. In our case, though, we don't have much of a choice. Before Nyx, Dave and I were frugal because we chose to be. We liked paying off all of our debt and saving money. And thank God we did! If we hadn't saved three or so grand on top of paying for all the baby stuff, obstetrician fees and such, we would have been screwed when Nyx ended up in the NICU and then TCH because Dave wasn't working for a month.

But because we live like no one else (thank you, Dave Ramsey!) we were able to be at our baby's side night and day instead of worrying about how the hell we were going to pay the mortgage (we always keep one and half extra mortgage payments in the bank on top of our savings,) buy food or gas. We were able to eat out of our pantry in December to free up enough cash to pay off a shit load of the kiddo's bills. My royalties helped too. Not that much because contrary to what you might hear, authors don't earn a living wage. I'm not joking. Some kid sewing clothes in an Indonesian sweatshop makes more than me per hour.

But I digress.

Once you get started and figure out how to work your local sales to your advantage, it becomes a game of sorts. I guarantee you'll get a nifty little high every time you snag something for free or almost free! Give it a try for a month. You might get hooked!

In the coming week, I'm going to revamp this blog and include links and posts for great money saving deals. Stay tuned!

*We got out of this habit for a few weeks because of the kiddo's arrival and the craziness that followed but we've returned to our old ways now.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Brr! It's chilly out there. We're expecting the full force of the arctic blast to hit as the day progresses. Dave, Nyx and I ran all of our errands yesterday after the kiddo's Synagis injection. Well. I ran the errands while Dave and Nyx snuggled in the back seat of the truck.

Since it was my bi-monthly coupon run, I had to do the shopping. I did really well though! At Kroger's, I bought $210 worth of groceries and pantry stocking stuff for just around $140. We'll only need to buy meat, milk, and produce for the next, oh, four weeks or so. At CVS, I bought $70 worth of stuff for $37 and earned an additional $14 in ECBs. That works out to, like, $23 out of pocket. Woohoo!

Dave has to work today. I offered to knit him a cozy for his, um, family jewels since the wind chills are supposed to be in the single digits. He politely declined. Got me thinking though. I bet I could sell a crap load of ball cozies on Etsy!

Kidding. I'm kidding.

Anywho. The kiddo and I are hanging out upstairs today. For some reason, it stays much warmer up here than downstairs. (I think it's the number of windows down there and the proximity of the heater to our bedroom and man cave.) She got a new play mat from Aunt Romona so we'll try that out today for tummy time while I do my crunches and such.

Oh, and here's your WTF moment from yesterday. Nyx went in for her Synagis injection, right? She weighs 11 pounds (yay!) so her dose of medication was .75 mg. Yes, that's point seven-five milligrams dissolved in maybe two milliliters of injection solution. Want to know how much that .75mg of Synagis cost?


Yes. Five thousand four hundred forty-six dollars for less than one milligram of medication. OMGWTFBBQ!

Friday, January 01, 2010

Merry New Year!

In my family, we speak in movie quotes. It's a weird thing but it's just the way we roll. It's customary to shout, "Merry New Year" a la Eddie Murphy in Trading Places after the ball drops at midnight. This year we did so through a series of texts and cell phone calls.

Mom, Dad, and Tricia are in town with us. They came bearing Christmas gifts and yummy barbecue from Llano. Nom. Nom. Nom. Last night, Mom made appetizers and Dad fired up the grill. We chowed down and played with the kiddo all evening. It was laid back and nice.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful New Year's Eve. In the ever so poignant (ha!) advice of the Wyld Stallyns, be excellent to each other this year!