Category Archives: General

Frugal Dad

Today’s a little side track from the travel hacking.  A couple of days ago Adam from Frugal Dad sent me an email about a post that he wrote.  It was about airline bankruptcy.  In the email he said I was welcome to share it on my site so I’m including it below so you can see what his posts are like.  But I really wanted to talk about his site in general.  It’s a site that talks about finances for those frugal minded people, like us.  His posts are normally made up of incredible graphics that help illustrate his point.  Check out his site, it’s quite cool.  I like it so much that I added it to my Google Reader subscription list.  I can’t even imagine how long it must take him to create one of his posts.

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Technology to Make Christmas Special for Your Kids

I’ve got Christmas on my mind.  We’ve been quite busy in our household preparing for Christmas.  We spent this past weekend having an early Christmas celebration with my husband’s family.  It’s always so much fun to see all our kids playing together – reminds me of Christmas at my grandparents’ house.  Like me, my mom was one of eleven children.  And every Christmas, everyone would go to my grandparents’ house.  It was a packed house, as I’m sure you can imagine.  It was my favorite memory from Christmas.

Being the middle child of eleven children, I don’t think I ever really believed in Santa Claus.  My oldest sister is 8 years older than me, so figure that they must have told me at some point.  In any case, I wanted to give my kids the magic of believing in Santa.  For many years, I have photoshopped Santa into a picture of our living room using Gimp (a free photoshopping application).  I would print out a picture and leave it on the coffee table for the boys to find in the morning.  They absolutely loved it!  It also confirmed with them that I knew Santa personally so they better behave or I could call him.  However, this year my older son asked if I could video tape Santa at our house.  Apparently, because of photo editing software on his DS, he put together that you could add Santa to pictures.  Luckily, he seems to have forgotten about that request.

Last year, I learned about Portable North Pole.  I love this web site!  It’s a site that allows you to create a free personalized message from Santa!  You fill out some information about your child like name, age, where you live, if he/she has been good this year and what he/she wants for Christmas.  You can also upload a picture of your child and 2 pictures of things you did that year (like vacation, sports, accomplishments, etc.)  And from that information, the site creates a message for your child.  If you have multiple children, know that the video is the same except for the personal information that you give it.  Our kids didn’t seem to care; they were actually excited that they were similar.  Every night I ask my kids what their favorite part of the day was.  Last night, they both said finding out that they are on the nice list!

And on Christmas Eve, we always check out the Norad Santa site.  This year they have games on the site you can do before Christmas Eve.  You can find them on the Countdown Village tab.  On Christmas Eve, they post Santa sitings from around the world.

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CT.com Vacation Sweepstakes

For CT residents only: A friend of mine passed along a sweepstakes link that I think many people may be interested in.  It’s a sweepstake where you can win a copy of Go Vacation for the Wii and your own 3-night vacation for 2 (including airfare and hotel) sponsored by Southwest Airlines.  The sweepstake runs until December 26, 2011 and you can enter 10 times a day per email address and per person.

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Busy, busy, busy – Christmas Traditions

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a very busy time in our household.  Every year, we host a big holiday party at our house for our kids’ friends and their parents.  We have an ornament exchange for the kids.  And every kid gets to decorate a gingerbread house.  My friend and I make all of the gingerbread houses from scratch and assemble them before the party.  As you can see from the picture, it’s a crazy but super fun time for the kids.

This year we decided to add some “fun” for the adults – an ugly sweater contest.  I’d post pictures of that but I want to protect the innocent.

The next morning, we went to my work’s Children’s Holiday party.  It’s quite an event.  They rent out a movie theater complex.  There are different activities in each of the theaters.  One you can have a family picture taken and it’s made into an ornament.  In another theater the kids get to meet Santa, Mrs. Claus and some elves.  There are art projects in another.  And every kid get a little present.  There are balloon artists and a magician in the hallways.  In the front foyer, they have a mechanical, ride-on reindeer and polar bear.  After all the activities, you get to watch a movie.  This year, we watched The Muppet Movie.  It’s quite an event.

A friend of mine hosts a cookie swap every year.  I have to figure out what I’m going to make this year.  I’m thinking maybe snickerdoodles.  A couple years back, the dads decided that they deserved a night out like our cookie swap.  So they started a tradition of a beer swap.  So it’s makes for quite a fun filled time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

What are some traditions you have in your family during the holiday season?

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American Airlines Bankruptcy – What Will it Mean to Us?

It’s all over the news – American Airlines is entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  I’m sure many of you are wondering what it will mean to you.  In the short term, it probably isn’t going to mean much.  Your miles should not be affected.  If you have transportation vouchers, they should also be safe, but I personally wouldn’t take the chance with them.  (I obviously followed this advice when I used mine to book our trip to Disney.)  Besides they are only good for 1 year after issuance, so why not look into booking the trip now?  Here are some changes I do expect:

  • American will look for concessions from their employees.
  • The employees will likely try to fight it and argue that the executives make too much.
  • Flights on less profitable routes will be cut.
  • Another airline (possible USAirways) will merge with them.
  • In the short term, American may cut prices to entice people to continue to fly with them during this time of uncertainty.

I highly doubt that American Airlines will go under, but stranger things have happened.  This is all about American Airlines getting control of their operating costs.  They are the last of the legacy carriers to go through bankruptcy.  This will give them an opportunity to get their operating costs down.

Personally, I wouldn’t increase my holdings in American AAdvantage miles.  If you’re booking a trip in the near future, consider using your AAvantage miles before say United or Delta.  But I certainly wouldn’t panic.

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