Diana Rambles: February 2011

Reality Wrap

Monday, February 28, 2011

2 weeks in and I am loving the new seasons of Survivor and Amazing Race!

Survivor~ I love a blindside. It doesn't matter if I like the person being blindsided or the alliance doing the blindside~ it's entertainment! The best part is the shocked looked on the faces of those affected!! Andrea was sure shocked that her boy-toy was sent packing. The previews make it look like she retaliates, but I don't think she has a leg to stand on against Rob. Hubby said he read online that Rob & Russell have automatic immunity through the merge...but it wasn't disclosed on TV. We'll see. I really think that Redemption Island is a way for them to keep Rob & Russell in the show. Based on the previews the face-off at Redemption is a challenge...and I believe that the producers have several challenges in their back pockets and they will pick and choose which to have the contestants do based on the weather and who they might want to win. So let's say Russell is going up against someone at Redemption who is physically weak then they might actually have it be a wrestling dual. Or if Rob were up against someone who is strong then they might have him do a puzzle challenge. I know that these so called reality shows aren't real life and I do believe that the producers manipulate outcomes...but I am still a fan! I think it's funny that farmer boy got the immunity idol. Russell is talking like he's an idiot...we'll see. Phillip is sure a hot mess! He makes Coach look stable and normal. Cracks me up. I sure hope he sticks around because his craziness is entertainment. Rob's comments about him are so FUNNY! Rob was smart to have him vote for Kristina because it was proof of loyalty to both. Rob knows that he can control Phillip and Phillip can redeem himself from his claims at the first tribal that he's honest and loyal. I am going to enjoy seeing Rob controlling the Phillip puppet strings!! I loved it when they put up Special Agent? next to his name.

Amazing Race~ OK...so far Ron is not being as mean as he was to Christina on their original season but he's driving me nuts. He was going on and on about how Mallory didn't know what she was doing. He was the clueless one. I think they will be bottom feeders and get philiminated within the next few episodes. My hubby pointed out that they are showing them and how they are using Chinese to communicate. Maybe they will be booted when they are in China. Next week is Japan and the following week is China. I sure felt bad for Mel & Mike last night. I really like them, but they persevered and had a respectable finish. I was surprised that the leading teams couldn't find To Sail to Shop~ why not use the internet? Cowboys sure recovered after bumbling along the first day! I was thoroughly entertained by the teams dressed up as kangaroos. That was too funny! I still think that Zev & Justin are the strongest and will win. Poor Chris & Amanda...I bet that hate U-turn signs when they drive! LOL!

I'm spoiled!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My mini van isn't perfect. One of the power sliding doors has had an issue ever since we got it and we recently paid to have it fixed...again. But for the most part I love my van. It has some features that I am really spoiled by. Power sliding doors (when they work!), remote keyless locks, remote starter, back up sensors, all the little things on the dash that measure things and lets me know when there is an issue, built in entertainment, etc. My favorite feature is the automatic lights. I never have to turn them off and on, so I never leave anything on to drain the battery. There is even a feature that automatically turns off the lights or inside lights that are left on so that battery isn't drained.

My hubby's car is another story. He got the used old Audi a few months ago and we've had all kinds of issues. It has thrown the alternator belt several times. Luckily he can fix it. The last time he put a new one on he said it was super tight and he thinks it might be OK now. It drove without issue for an entire week, but on Friday he left the lights on while at work and it was DEAD when he went to come home. The teen zipped up with jumper cables to give it a jump but it didn't work. Later DH looked in the owner's manual and realized that the alarm was engaged, which killed the engine. Most of the time he leaves it unlocked but there has been a rash of vandalism in our area (including one a block away) so he is starting to lock the vehicle. That lock is what engaged the alarm. We were able to jump start it right away yesterday, which inspired this post.The super cold winter has not been helpful with the Audi issues. It's just been too cold to tinker with it beyond what he's had to do! I know he's been frustrated and is thinking of getting a different vehicle in the spring. I just hope he's able to get rid of ALL the parts that came with the car (fills up nearly 1/2 the garage) and not lost too much money on it. The outside of the car looks GREAT for a 91!I am very thankful that our van has been very reliable and know that I am spoiled by it's extra features!!

Troubles with Blogger

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I'm having troubles with blogger today!!!

- Sent from my Palm Pre

Wordless Wednesday: More TUBA!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Amazing Race & Survivor RETURNS!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

My favs are back on! w00t!

Survivor~ I must admit that I was not thrilled with the return of Boston Rob & Russell, but I was thoroughly entertained on Wed night! These people they are playing with are SOOOO dumb...especially on Rob's team. They have stars in their eyes cause of the VIP players. Whatever!!! And Mr. Super Secret Super Spy~ he is an ODD duck. And could they please give him some SHORTS???? His fuchsia BVDs are just too much! I'm a little bummed that Francesca is out because she had some GREAT confessionals!! I think Boston Rob will keep us entertained with his assessments!

I forgot my record for guessing the winner, but it's dropped to under 50%. I was off by 1 vote last season. I picked Chase after the first episode and he got 4 votes in the final. I think I should get partial credit!!! I really have no feelings about this new season, but I am going to go with the Russell alliance and say that Stephanie wins. I am not saying I am a Russell fan, but his little flirty right-hand girly won both the seasons he played...so I will go with the same for this and say Stephanie. I just read on her bio the following~
SURVIVOR Contestant You Are Most Like: If Parvati and Russell had a love child, it would be me. We'll see....

Amazing Race: Unfinished Biz~ I am very excited about this season. I like the concept of unfinished biz...these teams couldn't win last time and now they are back. I don't remember much about Amanda & Kris, but I thought that it was funny that they got philiminated the first time due to a U-turn and they started out this race with a U-turn. Doesn't look like it will matter as they are way out in front due to an in-air emergency on the first flight. I can't believe how poorly the cowboys are doing. It's like they have no umph! I am neutral on many teams, but I never cared for the Gingers. I like Gallory (Gary-Mallory), Zev & Justin, and Mike & Mel. I think Mel is looking younger and more fit this season, but the previews look like he hurts himself next week. Bummer! No idea who wins this...I think it could be just about any of them except Flight Time & Big Easy or Mike & Mel....probably not the Goths or Jenn & Kisha either. I think overall Zev & Justin are the strongest.

OK fans...time for you to comment!!

What a difference a week makes!

Monday, February 21, 2011

One week ago I was in so much back pain that I could hardly function! Now a week later I am nearly pain free. My back is by no means healed, but I've come a long way. Biggest reason is because I started going to a chiropractor. OMG~ I am in love with the guy now! (OK...maybe not the guy but what he's done for me!!! Good thing he's not attractive...LOL!) Before this morning's session I thought he'd say I was all better and would not need to come back, but I soon realized that I still have a ways to go before I'm fully healed. I have a high pain tolerance and I've been totally babying my back the last several days. Must of my tightness is now in my middle back. The chiropractor didn't do any adjusting at all because of how tight my back is. I was able to sit most of the weekend (including 8 hours total in the car) and wasn't in pain, so I am planning on being out of bed and (sitting) in front of my computer this week. I am also going to start doing my stretching and exercises (that I learned at PT years ago) and even walk more than a block. I'm going to be slow to return to bending and lifting, so the house will remain a mess for a few days. I think I can handle loading the dishwasher though. No Wii Fit though!!!

Weekend in the City

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On our way home from a weekend in the big city. We got to eat @Portillos twice (oh how I love their grilled tuna sammich), see downtown from our hotal room, swam in the hotel pool, games (including Atari) with the in-laws, and an overall good time!!

- Sent from my Palm Pre


Thursday, February 17, 2011

I have chronic back problems. I can't remember when they started...DH seems to think just in the last 10 years or so, but I honestly don't remember! I have to be careful with my back pretty much on a daily basis. I have to sit properly, not cross my legs, sit in a chair not on the floor, stay away from plush sofas/chairs. If I don't then my back will be a little sore. Each morning when I get out of bed my back seems to have to adjust to being upright. This is the time of day when I have to be the most careful.

Well, we decided that we were not getting enough exercise (OK...none really!) and that the winter cannot be an excuse anymore, so we decided to jump back on the Wii Fit bandwagon. Jump is the optimal term here! I just got on and did my little workout as if I been on last week, not 9 months ago. I am proud to say that I was down 17# from the last time I was on there (276 days before). I gained weight while we were in Alaska last summer, so I am down 20+ in the last 6 months. So I am feeling thin & fit and enjoying my time on the Wii Fit!!

Then on Monday morning I went to go do laundry. Not sure why but I've just not been doing a lot of laundry lately, so there are MOUNDS down in our laundry room. My back seemed to be a little stiff so I sat on a stool while I sorted. I went and fished some dirty clothes out of the toxic waste dump teen's room and when I bent over to pick up a pile of his nasty clothes I knew I had overdone it with my back. I was a little more careful with my back after that, but it didn't take long to realize it was in bad shape. It had been just over 4 years since my last BAD flair up. At that time I went and saw a specialist for my back. I didn't really get much from that dr, but I did get a referral to PT. The physical therapist was GREAT and I've continued to use the exercises/stretching that he taught me ever since. In fact, when I feel like my back is starting to get an issue I immediately start my stretching and it helps fend off the pain. I was able to do nearly all my stretching on Monday morning, but it didn't help. I had a busy morning, but by the afternoon I was in bed with an Alieve in my tummy and 2 ice packs on my back. Oh, the sweet numbness caused by the ice packs! Sleeping/moving that night was difficult! Tuesday I had the boys get themselves home from school and I stayed in bed nearly all day. I was in too much pain after about 5 minutes standing, and sitting was worse! Yesterday was a little better but I decided I needed some relief. Luckily DH was working from home yesterday and could pick up my mommy taxi duties! I've always been curious about acupuncture and chiropractics so I asked around a little bit. It turns out that our insurance plan covers chiropractics and I didn't need a referral. And the best thing is that they could get me in immediately!!

I have to say I was a little nervous. I think chiropractors in general probably get a bad rap and I didn't want someone messing with my back. The guy could tell how bad my back was by the way I was standing right when I walked in. He did an assessment, took x-rays, put some TENS & heat on my back, and then stretched it out/assessed the muscles. He put on some Biofreeze and send me home with a few samples. WOW~ what a difference that all made!! My evening was pretty good and I was able to stand & even sit a little. I look forward to going back on Monday!!

I slept so much better last night and so much of my pain is gone this morning. I still have to baby my back because it's tight and sore, but I don't have to catch my breath from muscle spasms when I bend over. I am very thankful that one of the other moms from preschool took my carpool and class duties today. While I am vastly better, I still shouldn't push it. I do have to take my daughter to Little Gym today, but I will bring a long a heating pad and not run around with them. (Today is parent participation day, but my daughter knows my back is bad!) Her future school is having a family fun night tonight, but I will have to see how I am doing by then. I think DH is a little overwhelmed with playing mom, so I am not going to ask him to take her. We have a little family weekend getaway planned which I think I will be OK for. I am hoping the pool has a hot tub!

Wordless Wednesday: Humane Society visits Preschool

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Confessions of an Online Biz Owner

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Custom Blog Designs

I am coming up on the 3rd anniversary of starting my online business, Custom Blog Designs. I started it sort of by accident, but it's been hugely successful and I have no plans of changing it or cutting back. I keep plenty busy (sometimes too busy) and I really enjoy what I do.

Sometimes running an online business comes with challenges. I try to keep my personal life and business life separate so all my communication with clients is via email. This makes it hard to convey things at times. I've come up with explanations and tutorials to help people understand the design process and basic blogging, but for some that just doesn't help. I will get a client every so often that just doesn't understand what I am asking or what they want and I get frustrated. I am sure they get frustrated too. I am not sure that talking on the phone would alleviate those issues though. We could possibly Skype about it, but I am concerned that I would have to provide a tutorial on Skype first.

I usually have a waiting list for clients and I will turn business away at times. Over the 3 years I've come to recognize potential difficult clients and I will head them off and encourage them to use a different designer. I feel fortunate to have enough business to do this. I know this sounds sort of aloof, but having a client that takes up a week or longer (when the design process is usually 1-2 days) causes a lot of stress and pushes the wait for other clients even longer. I don't get more payment from those difficult clients, only stress. Yes, there are clients that I think are going to be a breeze to work with that end up being tough. Like those who decide to change up what they want after I've done most of the design process. On the other hand I do get clients who are super easy and they have no or very few edits to the design I've done. I will often provide some extras for those clients (such as a matching Twitter page or extras to the actual blog design) as a thank you for being such an easy person to work with. It's a balance! I am thankful that most clients fall within the easy to work with spectrum.

Overall I think I provide excellent service to my clients and most are pleased with my designs. Yes, there are people that change their blog design but I usually don't take that personally. It seems as those people like to change things up and came to me to change a design that someone else did. I do have a few clients that I've felt like I made a personal connection with that have made promises to me and then broken them, but that is the nature of the internet. I really don't want to waste time and energy or stress out about these situations. I've got better things to do with my life!

BTW~ If you are reading this and wondering if you are one of those PITA clients I've referred to, I can assure that you are not. I seriously doubt those people would visit any of my blogs in the first place. I do know that posting these confessions come with risks of losing potential business but I feel that it's important to share how I feel.

School Dilemma~ No Longer!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my long post the other day about our schools of choice. I especially appreciate the supportive comments that were left. We no longer have a dilemma on our hands!!

Today I will be registering our daughter for Kindergarten at the International Magnet School for the fall. While not the most convenient, it really does feel like the right choice. I am super excited that we will be part of this new magnet and I will do my part to help out and make sure it's the best it can be!!! The school will be working on it's designation as an IB World School for the International Baccalaureate® (IB) Primary Years Programme.
Image borrowed from this blog.

Wordless Wednesday: More CNY!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Tough Choice

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I've been very busy the past few days. Sunday was our Super Bowl party and yesterday I took my daughter on Kindergarten visits. In our school district you get to pick which school you'd like to send your child to. There is an lottery to determine who goes where. The schools on the wrong side of the tracks* have lower enrollment, while the other schools are competitive to get into. *As perceived by the community. The boys went to a school that is 1/2 mile from our house. We've always liked the convenience of a neighborhood school. The middle & high school are approximately a mile away.

I never thought I would consider anything but the neighborhood school, but I am being swayed by another. Our district is pouring money into 2 of the lower enrollment schools and making big changes for next fall. One is being completely rebuilt and will become a science & math magnet. I used to teach at the other school which is getting a HUGE addition and the rest remodeled. This is going to be an international studies magnet. They will be offering Mandarin to ALL students! Now if you've been reading my blog for very long you know that our daughter is adopted from China. Chinese language and culture is very important to our family. This international magnet is 4 miles from our house.

Our children do not ride the school bus to school. Besides obvious issues with unsupervised children, we had an incident where our oldest was dropped off at the wrong house when he was 3. The district preschool has door to door busing. Our son would fall asleep on the bus each day before getting dropped off at (in-home) childcare. A substitute driver read the address wrong and just dropped him. They are supposed to make sure an adult comes out to get the child, but when they honked and someone looked out they assumed it was OK and let him off and drove off. FORTUNATELY the spouse of the person home worked at the bus service center and he called her right away to get it straightened out. My son did make it to childcare safely, but they did ask him why he didn't tell the bus driver it was the wrong house. WHAT??? A 3 year old is responsible to get to the right place? Not to mention that he was woken up to get off the bus...and the houses in that neighborhood have similar features? Needless to say, busing isn't for us! Yes, the boys have ridden the bus for field trips but when they were younger one of us went along. On my 2nd son's first field trip in preschool, the bus got in an accident. I saw the whole thing and the driver could not avoid it (other driver's fault), but that just reiterated the no busing thing with us. I still get nervous every time the boys are on the bus for field trips. Anyway, I digress!

So, international magnet vs. neighborhood school. What are we going to do?

Our neighborhood school is well respected and has minimal teacher turn over. When we were on the tour yesterday we saw so many staff that we know well and they were surprised that it was already time for Kindergarten. Many remember me going in the school with my daughter in the front carrier when she was a baby! Neighborhood has nothing dynamic going on as far as focus. They have TONS of parent involvement and do reinforce good behavior/expectations of students. There is a diverse mix of students, so my daughter would not be the only Asian student. It's so close and convenient with just houses between here and there...no busy streets to cross! The start time is the same as the middle school, so both kids can be dropped off on the same trip. Yup, just 2 kids because our oldest will be in college locally while living at home and responsible for getting himself to school! Right now there are 4 classes per grade at this school, but next fall they are taking away one of the Kindergartens and moving it to the science & math magnet. This will it harder to get into the school. We have proximity working for us, but their main criteria for determining who goes where is income. I am not really worried about that because our income is not high, but there is a possibility of us not getting in. If you don't get your first choice in the lottery, then they go down your list until you get a spot. Supposedly all computer generated.

The international magnet which is sort of dumpy now, is going to be a fabulous building. They are actually moving the Kindergarten classes out to the new section of the building before this year ends. A lot of the students are already bilingual in Spanish & English, so the district decided to focus on a different language and picked Mandarin Chinese. They won't get Mandarin instruction everyday, but it will occur 1-2 times a week. There will be lots of new curriculum infusion of foreign cultures and traditions brought into the school overall. The population of the school is quite diverse. They have 4 Kindergarten classrooms now and the # of students per class is virtually the same as our neighborhood school. We met the Kindergarten teachers yesterday and they were super enthusiastic and fighting among themselves for who would get our daughter and the other adorable little girl on the tour. One of the teachers has a child adopted from China, so I might request her. This school does house several of the district's gifted classrooms. The start time of this school is an hour after the middle school, so I could have 2 drop offs in the morning, but I could fetch both kids on the same trip. I plan on being involved in the classroom quite a bit, so there would be lots of trips back and forth. It is 4 miles, but it's a very direct route. We were unable to tour the new part of the building yesterday because they were painting the concrete, but the principal invited us back for a private tour next week. Just one other family was there for the tour, compared to about 15 at the neighborhood school. This other family was drawn to the school due to the international/Mandarin theme.

I woke in the middle of the night and this was heavily on my brain. The international school has never been a desired school. Parent involvement is low and many kids come from troubled homes. I had no issues with the population when I taught there 16 years ago. All the kids were friendly and well behaved yesterday. Not sure what time I was awake, but I was worrying about people being nice to my daughter...would they make fun of her, would she feel a part of the school, would the teachers be sensitive to her. BUT you know what...those are concerns no matter WHERE she goes to school. Those mama bear concerns exist with my boys too. Yes, I have an extra sensitivity due to her being adopted and the general ignorance that exists out there, but that concern will probably always be there.

There is a community forum being held tonight that will showcase all schools in the district with principals, teachers, and district administrators there to answer questions. Both my hubby & I, along with our daughter will be going. I've got a list of questions that I will take along. I hope we are able to make a decision soon. The school district is not holding a lottery for the magnet schools, but are already taking sign ups and will continue to do so until full and/or the general lottery occurs. Sign ups for the lottery are in March, which placements announced in early April. So if we go with the magnet, we are in immediately!!

I asked my daughter what she thought and she said the neighborhood school because their PE class was funner! LOL~ They were doing a version of Dance, Dance, Revolution while the other was doing some rhythm and movement. But she did like the sparkly vests that the line leaders wore at the magnet school. I guess we can't lose either way!

Too busy to blog...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

QP courtesy of Just So Scrappy

Xīn Nián Kuài Lè!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!!
Our origami rabbits!

Mermaid Outfit for your American Girl Doll Giveaway CLOSED

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Yeah! It's time for another Doll Tested - Mother Approved review of clothing for American Girl or 18" Dolls. This review has a giveaway too!I discovered Etsy sellers Blissality when I entered a giveaway for their stuff. I did not win the giveaway but I contacted Elizabeth and Lisa and asked if they were willing to do a review/giveaway here at Diana Rambles. They agreed and sent us one of their mermaid outfits for Dori's American Girl doll. She was so excited when the outfit arrived and immediately put it on her doll. I have to tell you that the little bikini top cracked me up because it's just so cute. I love how it fits. The stitching gives it a realistic shell look. I love the shimmery fabric used...I really reminds me of the ocean. The felt used in the top and the fin to give them form and thickness. The bottom has no opening for feet, but it works since a doll can't walk! LOL!Dori happens to have a mermaid outfit the same color so she posed with her doll. She loves to get shells out and pretend they are at the beach together.This outfit is so cute. The seams are all serged. The way the straps of the top are sewn in with velcro closures makes the top fit well and stay on. Using felt to reinforce the outfit is a smart idea! Due to the craftsmanship and creativity that went into the mermaid outfit, I give Blissality 5 stars! Blissality is running a $12 special pricing on this mermaid outfit during the month of February. After that it returns to it's regular price of $15. Check out Blissality's gallery here.Blissality is offering a mermaid outfit for an American Girl or 18" Doll to one of my lucky Diana Rambles readers. This giveaway will run through 11:59pm CST on Sunday, February 13th. The winner will be chosen via random.org and notified on February 14th and will have 48 hours to contact me. This giveaway is for the mermaid only! Doll not included!
Entry Rules
  • You must do the mandatory entry
  • Leave your email address with your mandatory entry if it's not available in your profile
  • Each entry needs to be a separate comment (remember to do multiple comments on those indicated as multiple entries!)
  • US addresses only
Mandatory Entry
  • Visit Blissality Etsy shop and check out their items. Come back here and leave a comment on what your favorite item for an 18" or American Girl doll is.
Additional Entries
  • 1 entry for adding Blissality to your list of shop favorites at Etsy.
  • 1 entry for adding my shop to your list of shop favorites at Etsy.
  • 1 entry for being a public follower of Diana Rambles via Google Friend Connect. Find this under My Followers near the top of my left sidebar. Click Follow and then confirm.
  • 3 entries for signing up for Blissality's email list here.
  • 3 entries for subscribing to my Diana Rambles Feedburner. Make sure you verify the subscription. Find at the top of my left sidebar.
  • 1 entry for following me via Twitter @FreeStyleMama.
  • 1 entry (up to 10 each day...must be at least 2 hours apart) for tweeting about this giveaway on Twitter. Feel free to copy the following~ Enter to #win a Mermaid Outfit for an 18" #AmericanGirl Doll #giveaway #contest ends Feb 13th @FreeStyleMama http://tinyurl.com/AGmermaid Please leave the link to your tweet in the comment. (You get the tweet link by clicking on the '4 mins ago' time)
That is a bunch of entry possibilities. The more times you enter, the better chance you have of winning! I will publish each comment when the entry has been verified. **MAKE sure you follow the rules or the entry will be DQ'd!!**

Wordless Wednesday: It's Chinese New Year Eve!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011



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