January 2010

Today was a lazy Saturday. Those are the best kind of weekends! Late in the morning we ran some errands, stopping for lunch at Burger King. Yes, with all of my talk about health food, I still happily eat an occasional fast food burger. You just can’t beat a cheesily-delicious BK double cheeseburger for $1.50. At the close of our meal, a nice couple came into the restaurant and the wife made a beeline for our table. Smiling, she declared, “It is so nice to come in here and see your kid’s sweet smiling faces!” I glanced at the boys. They weren’t being too monkey-ish at the moment, but they were both sprawled across the booth (one sitting on the table, and one attempting to climb over the dividing wall). What a sweet woman, to just focus on their smiles, and to not notice their less-than-conventional seating arrangements! A short time later this sweet woman returned and gave me two dimes, indicating that they were for the boys. The monkeys said thank you (whew!), and we stored the precious dimes away to be spent on some gummy bears later. In retrospect, I wish I would have saved those two coins and written down the story to tell the boys someday.

Kind people make such a big impact.

Nearly a year ago I posted about a search site called Swagbucks. This has been one of my best earning sites. Here’s how swagbucks works:

  1. Search the web through swagbucks.com (or using their toolbar)
  2. earn “Swagbucks” which can be redeemed for prizes. It consistently takes me two searches to earn Swagbucks. Searching after that is generally a moot point, as it doesn’t seem like they reward further searches after the initial earning search. I usually get 1 swagbuck per day, occasionally 2, and rarely 3 or 5. It takes a whopping 30 seconds to do these two searches.
  3. Cash out Swagbucks for prizes. The most popular prize is a $5 Amazon gift certificate (electronic), which can be redeemed after earning 45 Swagbucks. I can generally earn one of these a month.

Since I began redeeming Amazon cards almost a year ago, I’ve earned $50 towards Amazon purchases. It’s not enough to make you a millionaire, but worth the time if you have a spare 60 seconds each day and have an Amazon wishlist as long as I do 🙂

Disclaimer: if you sign up through my referral link, I’ll earn matching Swagbucks each time you win. If you want to use the link, go ahead, if not, still check out Swagbucks. I just love the idea of other people doing these little things that can earn you a fun little treat each year!

Every four weeks my brother Randy, who works on the North Slope, stops over in Anchorage en route to Prudhoe. He has a five hour layover, which is just the right amount of time to do some shopping and enjoy lunch together. We started these lunches 5 or 6 years ago, and it has been amazing how much I have grown to love this chance to hang out with my big brother 🙂 We’ve grown so much closer, and I know it’s due in a large part to this time we spend together.

Sometimes I bring a kid or two in, and sometimes they stay at home with Aunt Becky (the world’s most amazing sitter!) I feel like I’ve eaten at nearly every restaurant in Anchorage over the last few years, and we’ve found some fun shops along the way too.

In the winter I like to check the Alaska Road Traveler Information Service for road conditions. This site is constantly updated, and color-codes the roads based on travel safety (red=bad, green=good).

Jimmy has got the whole “baby in the belly” idea down pat. He understands that he’ll get to meet the baby in February. He’s a bit obsessed with tummies right now. This made for an interesting time at Target today. Can you guess where this is heading? Our conversation while in the checkout line today:

Jimmy: “Mommy, Look!” (points at cashier) “She has a baby in her tummy too!”

Mommy: (glances at cashier who is clearly NOT pregnant, and tries to alleviate in the situation) “Um, no sweetie.” (grasps for a subject change) “Aren’t you excited for your friend’s birthday party tomorrow?”

Whew! Crises averted. The cashier likely heard the comment, but it wasn’t within close enough proximity to be blatantly rude. I wonder what I would have done had Jimmy not taken the bait for a subject change? Now that would have required some real parenting 🙂

I’ve mentioned Glacier Valley CSA several times in the past (here and here). Now they’re finally offering box pick-up locations in Wasilla. All Around Tire and First Choice Physical Therapy have been added to the list of available locations. Lots of details about the CSA are at their website. It’s $35 a box, and they try to put as much local produce in the selection as possible. However, it looks like in the winter, there is a lot of supplementing with outside produce. A list of this week’s produce from their website:

week of january 10, 2010 box contents

From Alaska’s Glacier Valley Farm, VanderWeele Farm: Alaskan carrots | Alaskan Russet or Yukon potatoes-Farmer’s Choice | Alaskan beets

From Outside: certified organic Bosc pears | certified organic avocado | certified organic Honeycrisp apples | certified organic grapefruit | certified organic orange cauliflower | certified organic green butter Romaine lettuce | certified organic red dandelion greens | certified organic rainbow chard |certified organic garlic | certified organic Honeyboat Delicata squash

I haven’t tried Glacier Valley, but I’d love to hear from anyone else who has. We previously subscribed to Full Circle Farm for a year and enjoyed the convenience of picking up our produce box once a week. I like that Glacier Valley is a local CSA and strives to put local produce in their boxes (the winter season notwithstanding).

Dorky title, but appropriate. I figure I’d better get back in the habit of posting now, before baby comes, or this hiatus could easily turn into a permanent suspension 🙂

For the first post back, here’s the Maxwell Family 2009 newsletter for your viewing pleasure. It doesn’t contain any actual news. We were inspired by Garfunkle & Oats’ “Holiday Letter” performance on the Jay Leno show to kick the traditional letter in favor of a more interesting version.

The “Holiday Letter” performance: