Monday, April 30, 2012

Per request -- all about bidding on priceline

In the past 2 years I have used priceline.com extensively (at least 6 times) to purchase airfare.  As I was mentioning this to someone they asked that I write out the details because they were unaware exactly how it works.


First, priceline offers 2 different services for airfare.  One of them is just like travelocity -- it searches for flights and shows you the prices for the tickets and you choose the flights you want to be on.  These prices were always the same as what I found on expedia, travelocity, kayak, etc. . . .

Secondly, priceline offers you the chance to bid on tickets.  You name your price and find out within minutes if the airlines accepts your offer.  Here is where it gets scary for some people.  You cannot choose your airline.  You cannot choose what flight you are on.  You cannot determine what time you will leave or arrive.  But there are a few safeguards

1.  You will not take off before 6 am or arrive after 10 pm.  So you know that you will not be traveling all night.

2.  You will not have more than 1 stop on your flight.  So you know that you will not be required to stop repeatedly and spend your whole day flying.

So priceline.com is worth a shot if you have a day  to travel on both ends of your trip.  So for example.  Last year I needed to get to Houston and be there on Saturday and I needed to be home on Monday.  So I bid for a trip to leave on Friday and return on Monday.  That way I would for sure be there on Saturday.  I selected my travel dates and selected my airports (I wanted to leave out of Westchester county airport and was willing to arrive at either Houston Intercontinental airport or Houston Hobby)--   I was purchasing these tickets very last minute (on Wednesday -- just 2 days before) and at the time the average ticket price was $750 and that was leaving out of LGA or JFK and arriving to IAH.  If I flew out of my preferred airports then the ticket prices were around $1080.

I entered my information.  I bid for a ticket price of $261.85 -- (I chose that price as it was the cheapest I had actually flown between New York and Houston) and it seemed to me that if at sometime they would sell tickets for that price then they might as well sell one to me know.

My bid was accepted.  Here are the details.

Summary of Charges

Airline Ticket Offer Price: $261.85 per ticket
Govt Taxes, Airline Fees and Agent Fees: $50.35 per ticket
Number of Tickets: 1
Airline Ticket Shipping & Handling: $0.00 (Electronic Ticket)
Airfare Subtotal: $312.20
Total Trip Cost:
(All prices are in US dollars)
$312.20
Baggage fees are not included in your trip cost.
Lowest Published Airline Ticket Price: $729.30 per ticket Your Total Airfare Savings
Your Total Airline Ticket Cost: $312.20 per ticket
Savings Per Airline Ticket: $417.10
Total Trip Savings*: $417.10 (You Saved 57%)
* This is your savings on the total cost of your airline ticket(s) when compared to the lowest published airfare available at time of booking for the itinerary and airline shown.

This savings of $417.10 was the difference in me being able to take this trip at all.

I began to rely heavily on priceline to purchase airfare -- especially at the last minute and for a reasonable price.  I also found out several other things.  Each time I flew I was on flights that were quite empty.  Essentially the airlines were willing to sell tickets at a lower cost on flights that were not as popular.  I was traveling with an infant and having empty planes was so nice.  Flights that were really full were not generally the ones I was put on (as the airlines knows they can sell those flights).

In each case I left at reasonable times, had your normal 1-2 hour layovers (if I had one at all) and arrived at decent times.

I bought tickets last minute 6 times and priceline.com was literally a lifesaver.  I could not have afforded to travel out to see my mom repeatedly without them.  Each time I went was a last minute trip.

But then priceline.com worked for me again for this summer.  I was about to buy tickets for the whole family to Utah at a price much higher than I wanted on dates I didn't want to travel out of airports I didn't want to leave from and I thought -- let me just try priceline.

I bid for 6 tickets out of any NYC airport to Salt Lake city.  I bid on them for the dates I really wanted to travel.  And I got them.  They turned out to be Delta flights and one of the flights is even a direct flight.
Here are the details.

Summary of Charges

Airline Ticket Offer Price: $260.00 per ticket
Govt Taxes, Airline Fees and Agent Fees: $39.85 per ticket
Number of Tickets: 5
Airline Ticket Shipping & Handling: $0.00 (Electronic Ticket)
Airfare Subtotal: $1499.25
Total Trip Cost:
(All prices are in US dollars)
$1499.25
Baggage fees are not included in your trip cost.
Lowest Published Airline Ticket Price: $450.40 per ticket Your Total Airfare Savings
Your Total Airline Ticket Cost: $299.85 per ticket
Savings Per Airline Ticket: $150.55
Total Trip Savings*: $752.75 (You Saved 33%)
* This is your savings on the total cost of your airline ticket(s) when compared to the lowest published airfare available at time of booking for the itinerary and airline shown.

Anyway, I hope this might help some of you who are hesitant to lose a little control and bid for your airfare.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More projects

Last night I ran to Joann's (no small feat since the closest one is 35 min away) and bought some more buttons to make more rings.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

and also some fabric to make a skirt to go under a dress that needed some extra length. I found the dress at costco and loved it even though it was a little too short. Here it is with the "extra" length. I think it turned out great!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rings and games

Not as many games today due to freezing cold weather and so many things going on in our town today. It still felt busy with e games (not one of which overlapped this week!). Yesterday I made some cute rings with friends out of buttons and wire. Julianne posted this instagram of 3 of them!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Basketball baby

Owen is obsessed with playing basketball. He will do it ALL day.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App



And one more Adam dancing video

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Adam cracks me up

Adam loves music.  He listens to his ipod all the time.  But this was a first. . .  I rounded the corner and he was up on the counter completely groovin' to the music -- (a justin beiber song).  I tried to discretely get a video, but he saw me. . . here is my best effort and capturing this sweet moment!



Also today I tried to braid Julianne's hair like Katniss . . . I have a lot of practicing to do! Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Piano lessons

I begged my parents for piano lessons.  I started in the 5th grade taking lessons from Mrs. Keyes.  (isn't that a perfect name for a piano teacher?).

Now, I beg my children to take piano.

Here are some photos of Catherine and Madelyn at their lessons this week with their teacher Miss Alyssa.  She comes to our home and does a wonderful job.


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Published on the patch

So I finally got so frustrated about our heating oil prices here that I wrote a blog and it was published on the new canaan patch. You can read it there http://newcanaan.patch.com/blog_posts/spindletop-new-canaan-style or I will paste it below.

Spindletop New Canaan Style


I love summer-- the blue skies, the long sunny days, the smell of freshly cut grass.  Summer is wearing shorts, sitting outside, sipping lemonade.  And I am ready for it.   Last Monday (April 16th), with our temperatures here in New Canaan approaching 85 degrees, I was in heaven.  There was a hint of humidity in the air (which for me-- originally from Houston, TX felt right at home) that made the heat penetrate right through you.  While I played with my youngest boys outside, the perspiration on their foreheads made me smile.  And when my girls got home from school, they ran barefoot through the grass making their way to the trampoline.  Earlier in the day I had written (what will hopefully be) the last check of the season made out to my heating oil provider. 
I gleefully walked to the thermostats in the house and ceremoniously switched the heat off knowing I would NEVER need it again this spring.  I then busied myself swapping out the seasonal clothes (and with 5 kids -- this is no small task).  I put away the sweaters, the jeans, the boots, the coats, the mittens, the hats, the scarves, and more.  There just simply isn't room in the kids closets to house 2 seasons worth of clothing.  I have several hanging racks where all the winter clothes get hung up to wait in the storage room.  I had to go shopping for my oldest daughter (age 11) and oldest son (age 5) who have grown so much this past winter that none of their clothes from last summer fit them. 
And I LOVED every minute of it.  I am committed to summer.  Apparantly though my relationship with summer is a little lopsided.  I thought we were happily wedded.  But it turns out our little marital bliss is not quite what I thought it to be.  Summer has cut and run. 
I have had to walk repeatedly down to the basement to find the weather appropriate clothing that is not in any of the closets.  I have added extra layers and tried to ignore the dropping indoor temperature. 
But, finally it could be denied no longer and I did what I had to. 
I turned on the heat. 
I tried not to, really I did.  We all wore sweatshirts and I set out blankets on all the couches.  But it was feeling miserable.  I feel abandoned by summer. 
And I'll be honest, the largest part of my resentment is quite simply the PRICE OF HEATING OIL.  While I contemplate whether burning dollar bills would provide a more cost efficient heating output, I am always reminded of this . . . the natural gas line running right under New Canaan and our Waveny Park.  (a part of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline)
To think that nearly the whole rest of the country has access to cheap and affordable heating that runs UNDER our town while we watch all the delivery trucks inefficiently drive from house to house is kind of crazy to me. 
Perhaps it's the Texas in me?  But isn't it time for a spindletop of our own?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rainy days that are mondays

never actually get me all that down. I think all Mondays ought to be rainy so that every weekend could always be sunny.

But it did clear out the calendar so that there was NOTHING on it today after school. So I took the kids to the library. I think we came home with 30 books per kid and a few movies we seriously won't have time to see unless they watch them in the car (and with all the driving around I do, there is a pretty good chance they might finish one or two of them).

All the kids love the library, but Owen especially. There are so many computers to try and get to, so many books that could be rearranged, so many shelves to hide behind, and so many little pencils for him to put behind his ear.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Just a few more photos of Owen from the ball fields this week

Owen is in complete Heaven at the ball fields. He just loves to kick the soccer balls, throw the softballs, and even tries to grab a bat and swing at them.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Julianne at Bat

This Saturday was filled with 7 games. I coached 3 of them. I spent from 9 am - 5 pm at the sporting fields (and my arms have the sunburn to prove it). The kids were there in shifts-- Madelyn and I started up at the fields and then Trent brought all the other kids up around 12:30 -- (Madelyn had softball from 9-11 and then her soccer game started at noon). So everyone caught the end of her soccer game -- then Julianne had her softball game at 1:00. (her soccer game was also at 1:00 but she chose softball this week)



At 2:00 Catherine and Adam had their soccer games.

And at 3:00 Julianne had her second softball game of the day.

By 3:30 Trent took everyone but Julianne home and I stayed with her until her game was finished up.

It was a beautiful day and it felt great to be outside all day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

East School Talent Show

Catherine and her closest friends did an American Idol skit for their school talent show. They had lots of fun planning and rehearsing over the past few weeks! Catherine played the part of Ryan Seacrest.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Owen loves watching videos of himself

and he loves making videos of himself (so that he can see himself on the iphone while I am filming them). He has watched this video at least 50 times since I filmed it. Every time he plays peek a boo in the video he has to play it for real. Every time he says Hi or Bye of waves he also does it. It is so cute!!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

First Softball game for Julianne

Today we watched the New Canaan High School Girl's Softball team take on Darien and then immediately following was Julianne's first game!

Isn't her thick hair so pretty when braided like this?

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trent left for London last night

So I got out a very difficult puzzle and started to work on it.  It will take me a few days (as I don't have a lot of time each day to dedicate to it.  I have always loved doing puzzles and now love doing them with the kids.  I was curious if there was any "scientific" proof out there showing a benefit to doing puzzles as adults (I know there are lots of studies showing the benefits in kids).  So I was happy to come across this.


Research is now showing the quantifiable benefits of carrying this activity into adulthood. Studies, like the notable MacArthur study, have shown that keeping the mind active with jigsaw puzzles and other mind-flexing activities can actually lead to a longer life expectancy, a better quality of life, and reduce our chances of developing certain types of mental illness, including memory loss, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s Disease (by an amazing third).

But how does this simple toy accomplish such amazing things? Most likely it is due to the simultaneous use of both sides of the brain. The left brain hemisphere, our analytical side, sees all of the separate pieces and attempts to sort them out logically. The right brain hemisphere, our creative side, sees the “big picture” and works intuitively. Both types of thinking are required in order to successfully piece the puzzle together. In exercising both sides of the brain at the same time, we create actual “connections” between the left and right sides, as well as connections between individual brain cells. These connections increase our ability to learn, to comprehend, and to remember. In addition, completing a puzzle, or even just the successful placement one piece, encourages the production of dopamine, a brain chemical that increases learning and memory.

I love having all the kids gather round and work on puzzles.  It is calming and social.  I love the small intimate conversations that we all share while we work around a table on a puzzle.  

Here is the finished product.


Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mothers

We are all in this together-- and this thing we are doing, raising children?  It is a hard business.  It is not easy to mother when you live at or below the poverty level.  It is not easy to mother if you are wealthy.  It is not easy to mother if you work full time.  It is not easy to mother if you stay at home.  The business of motherhood is hard.  VERY. HARD.  It is demanding.  It is challenging.  It is heartbreaking.  It is rewarding.

And no matter what circumstances you find yourself as a mother, and though some of the problems will vary -- most of the problems are universal.

No matter the circumstance we women who are mothers share more in common than we'd all like to think.

So isn't it time to stop the rhetoric?

Hillary Rosen's ridiculous gaffe shows just how much animosity is out there when it comes to parenting choices and styles.  And it is time to STOP it.

We all need eachother.  We women could really accomplish something if we all banded together,   but we let rhetoric divide us.  In the words of another "Hillary,"  "It takes a village."

We all need every type of mother.  We need the moms who stay at home to volunteer at school and lead the brownie troupe.  We need the moms who go to work to continue blazing the path for us and our own girls to have the freedom to choose how they want to spend their time.

And aren't we all forgetting something?  Life is very long.  Most of these things we criticize are fleeting.  Most women (if not all women) will spend some portion of their life staying at home.  They may be caring for their own children or for an aging parent, but MOST will have a chance to focus on caregiving.  It may be for as short as 2 or 3 weeks or it may be for as long as 20 years or more.

And MOST women (if not all women) will spend some portion of their life working.  And we need to recognize that not all work is compensated.  Some will be executives.  Some salespeople.  Some will volunteer their labor.  Some will work full time.  Some will work part time.

So as is often the case . . .  the very situation we criticize and condemn today may very well be in our future.

So maybe we should all cut each other a little slack.  The truth is, success in motherhood has no defined path.  Success for one may in fact be failure to another.  We each value different outcomes.  The truth is failure happens.  Children don't always turn out how we hope.  And that happens no matter what path you chose.  There are no guarantees for success.

For most of us the most important thing is to make sure that we are happy with our choice. We are the ones who have to live with it.

And mostly we should cherish that we have a choice.  For every household at every income level you will find women who say they have to work and women who say they sacrifice to stay home.

Don't you get it???  We have the choice!

We live in a time like no other.  To be a woman, in America in 2012 is to have freedom greater than any woman in the history of the world.  To be a woman in America in 2012 is to have freedom greater than most women living now in other countries of the world.

We can choose to have children.  or not.

We can choose how many children to have. or how few.

We can choose an infinite amount of work / volunteer / stay home  arrangements.  Some jobs today have maternity leave  and flex time.  Some jobs have on site day care.  Some jobs do not.  All that matters is that we can choose what makes us happy and fulfilled.

So women, go. Be happy.  Be fulfilled.  Stop complaining that everyone is not doing it your way.    As Ann Romney said, "All [mothers] deserve respect."




Saturday, April 14, 2012

The first Saturday of the Season

Started bright and early.  The three girls and I had to be at the middle school for softball team pictures by 8 am.  I had to be there a little early since I am the commisioner for 2 age divisions as well as a coach for Madelyn's team.

I didn't snag an informal picture of Catherine's team (she is on the Riptide and is blue also) or Julianne's team (she is on the Juggernauts and is lime green), but I did grab these two of Madelyn's team.


Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App


We finished up photos by 9:45 and then stopped at Dunkin donuts for a dozen donuts to take home and share with the boys.

At eleven, Trent took both he and Adam in for haircuts, which were desperately needed.

And then at 12:30 it all became a blur.

Both Julianne and Madelyn had soccer games at 1:00.  I coach Madelyn's soccer team.  They were at least on adjacent fields so I could glance over to see Julianne every now and then.

At 2:00 Both Catherine and Adam had soccer games.  And Julianne was rushing over to her softball game (that had started at 1:30) but she was late to due to soccer.  I coach Adam's soccer team.

At 3:00, Catherine was done, but Adam's league rules have them practice for 45 minutes and then play for 45 minutes so she and Madelyn waited with me while Adam finished his game.  Trent was across the park at the softball diamond with Owen cheering on Julianne.

Both Adam and Julianne finished at 3:30.

5 games in 2 1/2 hours.

We all celebrated by going grocery shopping at Costco.  (not really a celebration, but a necessity if we want to eat this week!)

Then Trent and I met some friends for a date night!!!!  We went to Shake Shack and then played games.  Adam insisted on us texting him a photo of us on our date!


Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
We will all sleep well tonight!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The baby chicks

You know it is spring time here when my friend emails to let us all know that the baby chicks have arrived!!!!

Today I took the 2 little boys to see Olive, cupcake, and Ginger.  Adam loved it.  Owen was mesmerized!

Thanks so much Annie!!!!


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Look at little Owen's hair! He needs a haircut!!!


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And I certainly can't fail to mention how much I covet her garden. DSC_2919

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter is over, but I have one last egg post

Trent finally made his very first Ukranian Egg to add to our collection. Do you think he is a dedicated fan???

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy 60th Birthday to my Dad!

Today is my Dad's 60th birthday. I have hinted on my blog that I had been working on a HUGE project. Today my dad got his present from me and all of my siblings. It is a book with at least one page for every year of his life and photos and stories that I collected. It was a huge undertaking. But I love it. I love how it turned out. I love watching my kids read through our copy of the book. I love seeing all the old pictures in one place that we can all see and share.

Here is the online version of the book!

Enjoy. . . .

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | Learn About Mixbook Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finally . . . Flat Stanley is over

I have hated this project.

First, I don't really want to drag a paper doll everywhere with us.

Second, it becomes my project because of #1.

Third, I use my photoshop skills for the bizarrest reasons (like flat stanley projects)

Madelyn took a few iphone photos, and then I photoshopped Stanley into 24 of our spring break photos.


Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Busy Season

Not for CPA's but for CSM's (certified scheduling masters). AKA -- MOM's

Here is just a glimpse at my calendar next week (and I am still missing several scheduling items)

4 kids, 4 soccer teams, 3 softball teams = 4 soccer practices each week, 4 soccer games each week, 6 softball practices each week, 6 softball games each week = 20 kids sporting events each week x 9 weeks = 180 things to add to my calendar today.

No wonder it took me all morning.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

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We had a wonderful day. The kids found puzzle pieces in their eggs this year. (they had to find EVERY SINGLE EGG) or the puzzle wouldn't be complete. When they flipped over the puzzle they found out they were getting a small netbook computer.

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

More eggs-- but this time the hard-boiled kind

While we have all had a good time making the Ukranian eggs, today it was time to make the regular kind. We all had fun designing and decorating our eggs. And then we had egg-salad sandwiches.

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