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Carine’s Blog

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  • Hello, Hello????

    Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2013

    Smart?  Phone?

    It is with great trepidation that I allowed my husband to drag me into our cell phone provider and make me choose a "smart phone".  By now you have all realized that I make no effort to hide the fact that I am a complete technophobe.

    So there I was in the store and the very nice salesman was trying to explain the differences between the Samsung, the LG and the IPhone.

    I tried really hard to not zone out and look glazed over.  My husband just kept uttering his mantra of "this way you can learn to text and you can check your e-mails, FaceBook and even the news."

    Now, it was well air-conditioned in this store, but I felt clammy and my stomach hurt.  Our son said "that's anxiety".  

    Don't really care what it was-my head also hurt and it was about to explode!  The salesman just kept right on telling me about the camera's megapixels, the Pandora capabilities and so much more.  Ack and double ACK!

    I finally chose the "purple" one.  I did have another reason-my husband has the same one in white and my ulterior motive was "If I run into trouble, he could help me." Then I realized something after the 3 hour long purchase-I did NOT have a clue how to dial the phone or retrieve messages.

    By the time you read this I will have had the phone for almost 5 days.  I set a goal for myself-learn something new about my device every day.  It's a good goal really.

    Texting is something I'm still not so sure about.  I'm using the audio program to form the messages.  That's good for quite a few laughs.  My first one was to our daughter.  She never got it-or so she said.

    Then I tried one to our son.  He told me to edit things before hitting send.  I reminded him that I had already learned my "1" thing by finding the little microphone symbol and getting out the actual text.  Editing would have to follow at a later date.

    So I gave up my simple phone that I could find my contacts, make calls and retrieve messages as well as take pictures.  I never did learn how to zoom in and out on the darned thing.  

    Sigh, I had just learned how to put it in music mode.  

    Challenges are good.  I think I'll make that my own mantra until I figure out all the things this smart phone is capable of, for that matter, it might prove interesting to see just how capable I'll be able to prove myself to be!


    4 Replies
  • How Much was That?

    Posted on Thursday, May 16, 2013

    How Much was That?

    Does it irritate you when your medical insurance drug plan is nice and gouging you at the same time?

    I'm pretty darned irritated.  As a person with a chronic "issue" (or several) I have numerous meds that keep me somewhat glued together.  It was with annoying interest when I realized, "Wait a minute here-why is our son getting a 90-day supply and my husband (who has the "3" biggies of middle-aged men: high cholesterol, high blood pressure and thyroid) getting a 90 day supply, but I'm only getting a month?"

    With my medical cards in hand, I called up our health insurance member phone number and asked, "Hey, what gives here?"

    The lady on the phone (there's another really sore point that needs a rant because this company has the most aggravating answering robot ever) nicely said she understood my plight.  She looked up the names and dosages and said that I, indeed, was eligible but that they'd have to go through the "specialty mail order" and gave me their number.  Before hanging up she informed me that putting myself on the mail list would probably NOT save me more than a couple of dollars.

    Great-took me 20 minutes of repeating "representative" to reach her.  Anyway, let's just say it was a repeat performance until another nice woman who would understand my frustration answered the phone.

    I gave her the list of drugs and politely asked for the pricing difference before I'd trust the U.S. Post Office to get them to me in safe condition.  

    Please, postal personnel, don't take offense-I'm sorry for that remark but I sent a check to my sister and a week later I received an envelope with no explanation or apology with what were the remains of both it and the envelope I mailed it in, only our address hadn't been shredded.

    Now it's true, one person's trash is another's treasure-but the first woman who claimed it wouldn't really save me any money, just time was just plain WRONG!

    It turns out that once the doctors all fax the prescriptions back to them and I officially get the 90 day supplies, we will be saving 50%!!!  And the 4 mile round trip several times of the month.

    What also peeves me is that if my husband hadn't encouraged me to call and find out what the reasoning behind not "allowing maintenance drugs to get a 90 re-fill", I would never have known that you had to call the specialty number and request this little money saver.

    We didn't read every word in our welcome material, but we scanned it and we don't recall there being any info on this fact.

    Here's just one of the savings so you can judge for yourselves if I'm good and miffed for a reason:

    Leucovorin calcium-1 pill a week.  One month supply in store is $20.00. Mail order for 90 days (12 pills)?
    Hold on-it's $11.83.  

    Really?  Now I'm no math whiz, but that's a savings of $48.17!  

    Does this get you thinking?  Let me know, I'm curious!
    And my "Need a Ride" blog-my husband read it and informed me that my "S" stands for "SPORT".


    2 Replies
  • Such a Deal

    Posted on Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Such a Deal

    A long time ago I shared the fact that I am not the typical woman-I hate shopping.  Unless it's in a produce department.  I can spend hours browsing in one of those.  Just love my fruits and veggies.

    I'm also one of those annoying people who coupons and takes the flyers to stores so they can price match.  Frankly, I'm almost ready for "extreme couponing".   Of course I'd do better if I'd stop needing fresh produce.  

    But now, I found out about a great thing here in the "country".    A lady I met in Wal-Mart told me about it.  (I'm becoming one of those people who look at those around me and think, "Hmmm, they look my age, I'm going to strike up a conversation and see if they're in need of friends too." This is fodder for another blog.) You should Google this:  market on the move and see if it's in your area.  Or at least something similar in practice.

    Market on the Move literally moves to different locations across Phoenix.  Usually they set up in a church parking lot on the weekends.  It starts at the awful hour of 7 a.m. and goes to 11 a.m...  Of course, just like an organic farmers market the earlier you get there, the better the product you get to look over.

    For $10 you can pick out 60 pounds of vegetables.  Yes, 60.  I know what you're thinking.  "How in the world can you eat that many veggies without them spoiling?"

    Well, our kids are in this $10 with us.  8 of us sharing that amount isn't hard to imagine now, is it?

    Sam was working, but Sarah and I left her home at 6:45, stopped to get coffee and break a $20 and scooted over to one last weekend.  

    This particular Saturday we had these vegetables to choose from:  cucumbers, yellow squash, yellow and orange peppers, green beans, cherry and Roma tomatoes.

    All of us divvied up the haul.  We all made turkey stuffed bell peppers and sweet cucumber pickles.  We trimmed, blanched and froze the green beans.  I have a good amount of yellow squash and tomatoes, both do not freeze well-so I'm going to grill some of the squash and I'll stuff the rest for a couple of dinners.  The tomatoes won't be around long.  We eat a lot of salad after all.

    Plus, if you ask my husband about tomatoes, he will regale you with how important eating tomatoes is to men and their prostate.  I don't ask why anymore, after 32 years of marriage I've learned to just nod and let him know when we've really "heard enough honey".

    The woman who told me about Market on the Move told me that one of the times she went that she got a lot of onions and eggplant.  She used the squash, peppers and tomatoes with it to create her own version of ratatouille.  Her family loves it over pasta, rice, polenta, etc...She grates some parmesan or Romano over it.

    This isn't my only "deal" this week!  Nope.  Steve's two work belts finally fell apart and so did my 7 year old purse.  So we moseyed up to that outlet mall up the street to replace these items.  Steve found 2 leather reversible belts at Calvin Klein that were on sale for 50% off.  And me, who has never paid more than $20 for a purse-well, my husband decided it was time for me to get a "nice" handbag.

    At first, I wasn't sure if I should be thrilled or slightly insulted.  After all, my $8 clearance bag at a Fossil outlet had lasted me all this time!  

    Back to my deal.  

    We went into Coach (I'm already re-living the case of the sweats).  They were having a 65% off sale of all clearance bags.  Plus, 10% more for Anthem residents!  Woo Hoo!  My $300 wound up coming down to $85!    

    Still way more than I've ever spent on almost anything in my wardrobe, but not many people are able to do this kind of remarkable shopping!

    And now, I'm going to go look through my Wednesday ads-I might want to take the one from Basha's saying they're selling strawberries for $.88 a pound and take it to Wal-Mart and ask them to price match it for me.  Yum.


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  • Need a Ride?

    Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2013

    Need a Ride?

    This week, while doing some driving for an article-I was asked:  What kind of car is that?

    I was taken a bit aback-as my car isn't that unusual looking!  It's a quite typical pearl cherry sedan.

    My description is:  I own a Chrysler 200 S, it's the little sister of the Chrysler 300.  Or the updated version of the old Sebring.  I have a totally black interior.  Don't ask me what the "S" stands for-honestly, I don't know.  

    This encounter started me thinking about the cars I've owned since my first one at age 16-which was a used Toyota Corolla that was as cute as a car in 1974 could look and still cost under $2 grand.  I'm sure if I hadn't been graduating high school that June and entering college I wouldn't have gotten a car.  Plus, I had a part time job that took a bit of driving to get back and forth too.  Then there was the added facts that my parents counted on me to do the grocery shopping and cart my sister to various things that a 10 year-old occupies her time doing.

    That Toyota was white with racing stripes.  It was also a money pit.  So after working out my first year classes so that I went from Tuesday through Thursday so that I could have it spend 4 day "weekends" being fixed-my parents helped me buy a cute Chevrolet Chevette in beige.  I loved that hatchback and kept it through the remainder of college and right up through the birth of our daughter when I was 24.

    Steve and I turned it in along with his Toyota for a Toyota Tercel wagon in gold.  He was using the work truck from my parents  business since he worked pretty much 7 days a week.  We then kept that car until Adam was I believe 2.  At that point we realized that I couldn't haul around the kids, strollers, extra clothes, a cat in a cage and a German Shepherd and groceries in that tiny thing.

    I had been eying the Dodge Caravan with a great deal of love for its size.  We traded the Tercel in for the base model of it and didn't trade it in for 6 years.  Oh, and Adam took one look at our big cream colored beauty and dubbed it "WOW".  Seriously, we named it 'WOW'.

    We were thrilled with it and what we could hold so much that after 6 years we bought another one, this time top of the line though:  leather and full powered seats and windows (yes, the base model had us using our hands to roll down the old ones), it had a computer system that practically told us everything except how to get somewhere.  Remember this was long before the invention of a device commonly called "GPS".

    Then while shopping one evening-we were called to the front of the market and told to go outside.  Some teenager was being taught how to park by his uncle.  The uncle decided a crowded parking lot was the best place to learn this task.  After that time, our car may have looked the same-but it never drove the same again.

    We took this time to buy a base model G20 by Infiniti (after a never to be mentioned horrible used car) so that we'd have a second car.  Yes, we had been a one car family all these years!  Loved the G20. It was a beige manual, which worked well for us until my RA was so bad that all that shifting caused me to scream in pain.  We traded it for a used J30, also Infiniti it was pearl and had matching pearl leather interior.  And eventually we turned the Caravan in for a Nissan Pathfinder-also a base model and white.
    We seem to like those.

    The J30 stayed with us for many a year until Steve traded it in for his present car-a Chrysler Crossfire.  It's white with red leather seats and he's had it 9 years now.  Adam took over the Pathfinder and I went for my "late" PT Cruiser.  A car I had drooled over since I saw the prototype picture in a Popular Science magazine.  Until the day it was so horribly murdered, I loved that 10 year old vehicle.  Still, it saved me so I feel compelled to love my new red car and ride it with a fair amount of over compensation on the "following the rules" part and not driving at night.

    When I think about all this and realize I've been pretty much driving for 40 years, I really can't say I change my vehicle very often and there's always a pretty serious reason for the change.  

    One cyber-friend, Kathy Holmes, has written a few "chick lit" books with the title of the first being "Real Women Wear Red".   I usually try to stay on the more sedate side of things, so I think I chose my car's color with her heroine "Cyn" in mind-instead of clothing, I'm going for Real Women Drive Red Cars.  

    Just don't ask me what the "S" stands for-I don't know.


    2 Replies
  • UNCLE already

    Posted on Friday, April 26, 2013

    UNCLE

    Yes, I'm saying it on behalf of our family:  UNCLE.

    Let me explain.  I'm not writing this in any order of how serious it is-so forgive the jumping around on this blog.

    A few weeks ago our son's neck became stiff and quite painful.  He figured it was just that-a stiff neck.  He did the usual:  NSAIDs, muscle relaxers and some heat applications.  It wasn't getting better.  He proceeded to the Urgent Care who confirms there was nothing wrong with his bones, so it must be muscular.  

    After a week, he had wearied of waiting for it to get better and decided to try a chiropractor.  That made things much worse!  We took him to an emergency MRI-the result?  Seems he's more of his mother's son than we had imagined-he has a bulging disc!  He'll be paying a visit to my pain management doctor next week.  No word on how a healthy 29 year-old gets a bulging disc.

    In the same week-that very same doctor was appalled by my GP not having actually examined the knee I injured and keep complaining about from the accident.  He ordered an MRI-which we are waiting for the results on.  Good news on last week's lower back epidural!  It has helped that part of my war torn body!

    Then our older nephew, Lucas found out that he has "mediastinal mass spanning his cardio thoracic".  He turned 27 in March.  The layperson's term on this mouthful:  Cancer around the heart. It happened so fast, I don't think he, his parents or the rest of the family have had time to digest the diagnosis.

    Sigh.  He's already had round 1 of chemo.  For the moment, we haven't got more than that, but having never asked any of you out there before for any favors-I'm asking now:  PLEASE, SAY A PRAYER OR TWO, SEND OUT POSITIVE THOUGHTS AND IF YOU HAVE ANY, and ADD HIM TO YOUR PRAYER CHAINS.

    I thank you in advance.

    My mom lost the sight in her right eye.  Our son turned 29. Our pup is just about recovered from being spayed and I have several articles on my plate to finish in the next week.

    One last thing-our younger nephew, thank God, will live to see his 21st birthday on the 13th.  Yes, Jonathon had to follow in his aunt's footsteps and get practically hit head on by a drunk driver.  He's sore, bruised and has a concussion (same thing for me).  The difference?  He was hit by an SUV-mine was a Silverado.  His guy was taken away in handcuffs, mine got a citation.

    Now the fact that I've asked for prayers for Lucas has no bearing on this next request:  Hello God, please-we've really had enough since Thanksgiving of 2012-will you give us a pass on all this "fun" stuff for the rest of this year?


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  • Living Like a Celebrity

    Posted on Friday, April 19, 2013

    Living Like a Celebrity-Good for a Week!

    Sigh.  We slowly paid off our cruise-literally since the first day of our last one and now, it's over.

    The Celebrity Silhouette docked, fed us, had us snail our way through the customs line (1-1/2 hour's worth) and then before we knew it-we were on a plane, in very tortuous seats back to Phoenix.

    It was worth every cent and it was really nice to do it with half of our kids.  Not as romantic (we only had 2 breakfasts alone) granted, but it was great to see things through the eyes of our grandsons, Dylan and Aidan.

    There were a few "bumps" in the trip:  Aidan had to see if his mom was right about her hair straightener being hot.  That was on formal night-blistered his thumb and cried bloody murder.  The medical facility gave us some antibiotic salve and we came with Band-Aids.   Aidan wore himself out and getting pictures of him was a challenge.  

     Then he learned a huge lesson about the Fun Factory-if you misbehave enough, they suggest that maybe you shouldn't be allowed to enjoy the activities.  Of course, all was forgiven by the next try-but he learned a valuable thought on the importance of not interrupting other kids.

    Dylan, our little "hambone" sort of heckled the magician.  I say "sort of", because the magician was talking about how he loved kids because they were a little weird.  Dylan yelled out "Hey, I'm a weird kid!"  Everyone laughed to the point where no one heard Aidan saying, "I'm a kid too."
    Then the magician came out and said, "Well, I'm looking for a kid, but I'm looking for an ugly kid."  

    Dylan, who had had his face painted to look like a pirate in the kids club said, "I'm an ugly kid."

    Of course that got another round of laughter, so the magician took Dylan to the stage-where between the two of them, everyone was in stitches!  He gave Dylan a signed DVD of his tutorial on magic.  

    Getting to Ft. Lauderdale was pretty arduous as well.  Six of us on Southwest (who doesn't believe in assigned seats) with a stop in Chicago proved to be exhausting.  Upon arrival it took our hotel (the same one that Steve and I hated 4 years ago, but he booked anyway because "they would pick us all up and then take us to the pier) 45 minutes  to pick us up.  

    This hotel is close to NOTHING people. NOTHING.  It was so windy and humid that the pool was closed for safety reasons.   So there we were with 2 little boys who had been trapped in airports/airplanes and nowhere to play.  Then we were in our little rooms and the breakfast room.
    By the time we got on board the ship (waited in a car during a downpour and the line to board the ship) the boys had enough ants in their pants that they were driving Sarah crazy.  

    Thankfully, the lady who took our reservations for the Lawn Grill said the boys could come, run on the grass and create their own flatbread pizzas!  Thank goodness!  

    Our ports were all great and had fantastic weather-the cruise before us had nothing but rain for 7 days, so we were more than thrilled.

    Cozumel had the boys in the kids club while Sarah and Alex did a tour and Steve and I window shopped and walked.  The Grand Caymans had our kids going on a Dolphin excursion and us doing more walking.  Jamaica we all took a tour with a wonderful guide.

    However, here was another hitch.  We booked the tour for 4 hours.  It was 5.  Now normally no one would complain-but here was the problem:  The daily paper told us not to wear ANY jewelry and only take enough cash to tip our guides.  Alex decided to take a credit card for emergency purposes.  We were given a stop at a restaurant for some Blue Mountain coffee and banana bread (included) and then we were off to Montego Bay.  Where we were told we had 2 freakin' hours to shop on "hip strip" and/or go to the private beach-which only took CASH, $6 a person!

    You're wondering what 4 adults and 2 kids did for 2 hours (and the rest of our bus?) we all went to Margaritaville and sat their drinking Coca-Cola.  Believe me; we gave them an earful on that on our "review" questionnaire
    We loved our waiter and assistant waiter. Koray and Oleksander took excellent care of us and made sure the boys were happy at every dinner. They made sure I had very tasty and dairy free food-and 7 different flavors of sorbet. We told Celebrity about their wonderful service.
    Our day at the private island was really great!  It was the first of 4 trips there that the sun was out and the wind was mild.  Dylan found some baby crabs!

    Sunday morning came too soon.  The kids stayed an extra night, but Steve and I were up at 6 to shower and dress.  We all were out of our cabins by 7 and had our first and only breakfast in the main dining room.  

    The getting home was pretty rough-my spine was telling me how unhappy it was for the entire time.  Adam picked us up at 6:15, we swooped by and got Sam and took them to dinner to thank them for watching Pepper.  Then we took him home, unpacked and collapsed at what would be 2 a.m... eastern time.

    Woke up to sending Steve back to work, 3 large loads of laundry, shopping, picking up Lucky, walking her and making dinner.  

    Our week included getting Lucky spayed, my 2 interviews and their write ups, my spinal epidural and a few other tasks that need not be mentioned.


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