Saturday, June 16, 2007

Planning for Birthday No. 3

My baby boy isn't a baby anymore. He'll be three next Wednesday!

Do you remember this post where I so excited because I bought this really cool car for Jet for his birthday? Well... we're rethinking the brilliance of that purchase. You see, we don't have a paved driveway at our house (it's just dirt and rocks) or sidewalks in our neighborhood. Our house is definitely too small to ride it inside. I just don't really think he would enjoy it all that much because there's not a good place for him to ride it. Getting him something he would enjoy is really the point, right, because it is his birthday and all...?

I posted the car on Craigslist yesterday to see if we could sell it. We've already thought of something else he would enjoy more. Several months ago, we picked up a basketball goal similar to this one at a garage sale for two dollars. Jet loved it! He definitely got his two dollars' worth out of it, but it broke about a month ago. I'm thinking he would love to get a new one.

We'll be having his birthday party next Saturday. It will be small and simple - just family, I think. I really don't understand all of the drama and extravagance of having these huge birthday parties for toddlers. Plus, I figure I'll keep it easy while he's too young to know better. :) To be honest, I don't know that I'll ever "go all out" when compared to some other parents.

Deanna and her family will come up, and my parents, sister, and brother will come over. We'll grill burgers, I'll make some of Mom's yummy baked beans (I'll be happy to provide the recipe if you're interested -- so easy and delicious), and cut up a watermelon. We'll let him open presents, and blow out the candles on the cake. That's about it.

Now, if there's one area that I kind of go all out on, it's the cake. I love to make his birthday cakes. For his first birthday, I made this inchworm cake. It was super easy and really cute. I'm having trouble remembering what I did for his cake last year. I'll update if I do remember. :P

This year, I think I'm going to do either a car or a fire truck. While I was digging, I found a whole page of yummy-looking cake recipes. I bookmarked it to try some of them later.

Now I need to make my list of all the stuff I have to get done between now and then... grocery shopping, housecleaning, etc. I have to admit that it helps to have a deadline. Otherwise, I just let this stuff linger until.... well, until I don't know when. This is the downside of Summer Vacation -- too much time! :) It will feel good to get the house thoroughly clean.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Money, money, money

I was so excited about this, I just had to share... I've discovered the world of bloggers who blog about saving money/frugality/financial peace, etc.

I know I've linked to Mir at WantNot several times. She is fabulous, and scouts out great deals on stuff. As she usually says, those deals are great, if you were already planning to buy those items or need to stock up for your gift closet. Thanks, Mir!

The new blogs I've found are a bit different; they offer tips and tricks to manage money. This is a topic near and dear to my heart since Knight and I did Financial Peace University a few years ago. To be honest, once I started clicking around, I became a bit overwhelmed by all of the good advice I saw. Here are a couple that I thought were great and that are in my Reader now:

NCN at No Credit Needed offers great tips, and has a neat post up right now where readers link to their favorite money-saving tips. He has several blogs, including a Network system which I will be checking out soon. It sounds neat!

Trent at The Simple Dollar is an excellent writer. I enjoy following his thoughts on various decisions he makes. It helps that we are about the same age and in the same stage of life, so much of what he has to say is relevant to me.

If you're a nerd like I am, go click around on their sites and get excited about saving money!


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Swim lessons

We're officially enrolled in swim lessons. I went for the lessons for the younger kiddos. He barely squeaks in, since the lessons start on the 18th and he'll be three on the 21st.

As I browsed the options for swim lessons online, I was all excited to see that the parks and rec department had an online registration for the lessons! I also discovered that they had ONE spot left in the class I wanted.

I've come to appreciate the beauty of signing up for things without having to wade through the tedium of recorded phone menus ("For the first circle of hell, press 1. For the idiocy that is the customer service representative, press 2. To scoop out your eyeballs using dull spoons, press 3.", etc.). Plus, I can do it in my pajamas. I figure that organizations put in online registration systems so that they don't have to pay people to man the phones or the front desk registration areas so much. Ultimately it saves money, right?

Wrong. I discovered that, in order to register for programs online, I had to be assigned a user id and password. Fine. I figured I'd enter all my pertinent information and then their auto-emailer would send me a user id and password.

Wrong again. I received an email stating that "someone would contact [me] in 24-48 hours with [my] user id and password". Whaaaat? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose? At least, it does in my mind.

Anyway, I had done all of this on Saturday afternoon. I received an email with the user id and password from an actual person about noon on Monday. So, excitedly, I went to register for the swim lessons. They still had that one spot open!!

Somewhere in all of the small print, I remembered seeing that I would have to add individual members of my family to the account in order to sign them up for different programs. I tried to figure out how to do that, but couldn't seem to get it done. So, somehow, I thought it wouldn't matter that it was my name signing up for the swim lessons instead of Jet's.

Wrong again. They had a drop-down menu to select the person who would be participating in the activity. Since mine was the only name available on our account, I selected it. It wouldn't let me register because the class is for children 0-36 months old, and the participant (that would be me) would be -- get this -- 358 months old at the start of the class. If that doesn't make a body feel old, I don't know what would.

I started poking around some more, trying to figure out how to add Jet to the account. I finally found the FAQ's page. In order to add someone to the account you have to... no, really, guess... call them at the office. They even gave two phone numbers. However, the first one they listed didn't work -- I got the "boop-boop-BOOP this phone has been disconnected or is no longer in service..."

After calling the second number and sifting through the phone menu, I connected with someone who, surprisingly, knew what she was doing. She added Jet and Knight to the account with ease and dexterity. As we were ending the conversation, I mentioned that I would be signing up online for the swim lessons. She mentioned that they would charge me a convenience fee to sign up online.

Let's think about this for juuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust a second, here, while remembering that I thought I could do this the easy way -- without having to call anybody!

I kindly pointed this out to the nice lady on the phone, and she was super-nice and signed us up for the lessons without charging the over-the-phone convenience fee.

Thus ends the story of How Not to Sign Up for Swim Lessons the Easy Way.