My spring break (snow and sand edition).

Bunny boots: Don't leave Nome without 'em

Bunny boots: Don’t leave Nome without ’em

(Note: This was written Saturday evening. Thanks to a tech glitch, it wasn’t published when it should have been. Oops.)

It’s snowing, finally – just in time for spring equinox. About seven inches are on the ground right now and it’s still coming down madly.

Earlier today the neighbor across the street had a pair of preschoolers working on the front steps with little kid-sized shovels while he attacked the driveway with a snowblower.

The children loved it so much that once the steps were clear they were out in the front yard, shoveling paths to nowhere. Just being able to fling the snow around was fun, I guess. It’ll be interesting to see if they find it fun a few years down the road or whether they’ll be moaning and griping: “I shoveled the steps last time! It’s his turn!”

Me, I’m just happy to be sitting upright. On Wednesday I came down with the intestinal bug that’s been making its way through (as it were) half of the city. Today I was able to tolerate solid food (rice, dry toast, yogurt, applesauce) during the day. In a little while we’ll know for sure whether I’m healed, because I had some of the turkey that DF roasted: hot, juicy and deliciously worth the relapse risk.

So far, so good: I’m sipping tea and watching thick curtains of snow silvering the night sky. DF is lying on the couch, also watching the picture window as though it were the most engrossing movie in the world. He was so hypnotized by the weather that he almost forgot to preheat the oven for the bread he’d left to rise.

A few days ago it was in the mid-40s and yards, while not green, were at least not white. Today it looks like December, not March. If this keeps up the Easter Bunny will have to wear bunny boots.


The past week has been spring break in Anchorage, and I’d hoped to hang out with my great-nephews a bit. We did go see “Zootopia” on Tuesday (all tickets $5.75) and then hung out here for snacks and chat. Getting sick the next day wrecked any other chances for kid time. Well, summer vacation will be here soon enough; their last day of school is May 19.


Heading south, again

The second half of my spring break will happen in Phoenix, God willin’ and the creek don’t rise – which is to say, God willin’ and the buddy pass works. As always when flying standby, I’m courting being bumped. But the price is so affordable that I can’t complain.

My theory is that sunlight kills cooties, so here’s hoping Old Sol will burn out any last vestiges of virus and boost my energy levels. Just being able to walk without a coat is a treat; not having to negotiate icy sidewalks is a blessing. I’m starting to understand why so many Alaskans become snowbirds as they get older.

I’ll work during the days and hang out with my daughter and son-in-law in the evenings. While there I’ll also provide a requested final edit on Abby’s e-book. The only other plans we have are MOD Pizza, maybe a few games of pool, and watching the “Daredevil” series on Netflix.

With luck we won’t have to cook at all, since I’ve cashed in for four restaurant gift certificates through a rewards credit card and Swagbucks.

And speaking of Swagbucks: The rewards site surveyed 19,000 Americans about their spring travel plans. Results are displayed in this infographic:

Spring Break By the Numbers CC_v2-page-001




(Put me in the camp of those spending considerably less than $1,000.)

So what are your spring break plans, if any? Myself, I’d be amenable to another reader meet-up in Phoenix, either Saturday or Sunday, March 26 or 27, at the Wendy’s restaurant at 2640 W. Thunderbird, a place that has dual attractions:

  • It’s within walking distance of my daughter and son-in-law’s, and
  • The manager doesn’t seem to care how long we sit there, gabbing and refilling sodas.

If you’d be interested in attending, e-mail me at SurvivingAndThriving (at) live (dot) com and let me know which day would work better. Based on reader response, I’ll post the date late next week.

Hope you’ll get at least some kind of respite this spring, even if that’s just walking outdoors to see crocuses pushing up from the last of the winter’s crusty snow.


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  1. Tina in NJ

    Son just graduated college and Daughter’s spring break starts Friday, so we’re going to Disney World for one last family vacation. Four nights and three days are probably the longest we can stand so much togetherness!

    • Donna Freedman

      As they say, familiarity breeds contempt. And as Mr. Franklin put it, “Fish and visitors stink in three days.” He didn’t say anything about four nights, though.

      It will be a memorable trip no matter what. How nice that all of you can do this.

  2. I have to start working harder to find the SB codes. I find it pretty slow alone to use just their search engine to get points. I/we don’t buy much besides fresh groceries such as veggies & meat (we’re just NOT consumers) so shopping online doesn’t work to accumulate SB either. How do you find you accumulate most of your SB, Donna? Sweet deal for you to be able to cash them in for gift cards you can use. Gotta love free money!

    • Donna Freedman

      I get a bunch of mine as referrals from the folks who join using my link. Occasionally I do surveys. I always limit out on the daily searches, and I’ve been lucky with getting those Collector Bucks.

      • How do you get Collector Bucks? By shopping online or some other way? I’m not sure how the daily searches work either. I find I’ll do searches each day & not get any offers for SB for some reason. Maybe they don’t want to make it predictable.

        • Donna Freedman

          The collector bucks are special designs put out regularly for special occasions; the most recent one was an Easter egg theme. You earn them randomly through regular searches.

          I search all day long because of my job, and generally get at least one win per day (even if it’s only for four SBs). A couple of months back I was stunned to earn 100 SBs on a single search. I thought I was hallucinating.

          Good luck with the program. Remember, referring others means you’ll get 10 percent of whatever they earn.

    • I use swagbucks as well. If you have a phone with data use sbtv, I also “watch” the videos in the watch section as in I let it run through it as I read or clean or whatever else needs done.

  3. Melissa

    I hope you are feeling better donna! I am intrigued by the standby option when flying. have you only done it by yourself or is it possible traveling with a companion? or would you risk being put on separate flights? I am scared to fly but have it on my bucket list to get to vegas so I am tossing around the idea.

    • Donna Freedman

      You would definitely risk being put on separate flights, but you could also hold off for another chance when two seats were available.

      In my case the standby status is done at a discount of up to 90% — again, willing to wait if need be.

      Let us know how much fun you had in Vegas.

  4. My own Sure Sign of Spring, Flora Edition is the skunk cabbage (!).

    Skunk cabbage is the first wildflower to bloom in Michigan each year, so when March rolls around, I take a hike in one of the local parks/preserves and scout out the blossoms. They like to grow in thick, black, mucky muck, which makes for a messy but fun micro-adventure. I relish being out in the woods before the mosquitoes and ticks take over for the summer.

    Spring break plans: work, finishing tax returns, taking the kids to an afternoon day camp during the week.

  5. We are having odd weather here in metro Chicago too. Today is forecast for 60-65 and snow is predicted for Thur. However, it has been cooler by the lake for a bit now so a sure sign of spring/summer here.

    A May 19 end of school is VERY early. Our earliest is the last few days of May.

  6. jestjack

    Sorry to hear you have been under the weather. That “buddy pass” is a true blessing….I have noticed despite falling fuel prices air travel has remained expensive… And lately it seems everybody is “jacking” prices. I just got my cable/internet bill and they raised my bill by $20 with not so much as an explanation. What do you do about cable/internet? I swear I’m about to cancel and just head to the library.

    • Donna Freedman

      I have Internet and phone as a bundle (no TV). It costs about $78 a month for both, including a certain amount of long distance calling. In my line of work I need constant access, but I hear you on the frustration with costs.

      • jestjack

        Called my cable provider and wanted to know the “protacol” to return their equipment. The CSR seemed a bit stunned. She was a nice gal and was able to give me back the “discount” for the next 12 months. She did try to “up-sell” me to more channels BUT MAN for a couple more channels ….like $125…$78 is probably a good deal for you especially in Alaska. I’m told everything is more in Alaska….

  7. Cathy in NJ

    The spring break plan is to go to Cape May, NJ for 2 nights. Plans are tentative because if it is going to rain, we are going to shift the days we go. It will be great to walk the beach, maybe take a trolley tour and check out some sights.

    It just seems like a long time since I had a string of days off. I look forward to the break and the extra sleep.

    • Donna Freedman

      Going to bring home a Cape May diamond?

      • Cathy in NJ

        I will definitely comb the beach for Cape May Diamonds and any other cute sea shells I can find. Hopefully there will be lots of dolphins to watch too.

        I bought Cape May diamond earrings in the cute Sunset Beach store. In the store, the Cape Mays are clear, shiny, and an excellent price for the look. I wear them for a bit and they look like quartz on the beach. I don’t know how to clean them back to shiny.

        Cape May is so adorable with all the multicolored Victoria houses. It’s like time travel. I am hoping I can go on one of those ghost tours, that would be neat.

        • Donna Freedman

          As I recall, they tumble the stones in a rock polisher (?) to make them look all clear and pretty. Have fun beachcombing.

          • Cathy in NJ

            I think the infographic is cool. I enjoyed looking at it.

  8. I work at a school so my week will be spent noiseless reading books, sleeping in (till 7ish), spring cleaning, and just generally doing nothing without 20 plus kids needing my attention. (Its only Tuesday and I miss my school kids already.)

  9. I don’t get a spring break. But it’s definitely a break that it’s Spring. I’m enjoying the weather, and will spend weekends visiting other locales: it does help to get out of Dodge occasionally.

    I liked the colors of the infographic, but only domestic travel locations can be “Locals” while the international travel locations should be “Locales.” And I like it that Texas gets an armadillo for its graphic.

    Is it just me, or do infographics make you feel like you just got lumped in with schoolkids? It has an un-nostalgic institutional feel, as though it’s giving us an automatic pat on the head from a heavy-handed teacher who also coaches the girls’ field hockey team and actually believes in school spirit.

    • Donna Freedman

      This is the first time I’ve ever run an infographic. I may indulge again now and then, but don’t plan to run a lot of them.

      And yeah, getting out of town (even just for a day) can be a nice attitude adjuster. Me, I’m leaving for the airport at around 11 p.m., and after two plane rides will land in Phoenix at about 10 a.m. Arizona time. Already thinking it will be an early bedtime, but after that I should adjust. Of course, their idea of spring can equal 90 degrees or so. Whew.

  10. teinegurl

    I just want to say that it’s Tuesday and my kids are at the Y and im at work but I still cant wait till spring break is over! LOL wait till summer comes

  11. priskill

    Aw, hope you are feeling better soon — have a great time in Phoenix — It should be good fer what ails ya! I’ll be in Mass visiting mom and brother and a couple friends and enjoying NO SCHOOL. Love the reader up thread who is missing her charges — you are wonderful, Tessa!! — But I am dearly longing for the break. Have never flown standby — that is awesome if you have flexible times. I will remember that for future use. Have fun with ur girl!

    Oh, and the Bunny Boots! How have I lived without these?!? They may be the cutest things I’ve ever seen that go on a foot. You upper 49th-ers definitely need them, right? Happy Spring!

  12. Diane C

    My thought, once I realized the info graphic was actually yours, was to wonder how it would change the results if all the students traveling courtesy of SL or CC were eliminated from the survey. It’s hard to feel sorry for people with mountains of college debt when some of the money spent was blatantly extravagant.
    Hope the AZ sun bakes the rest of the winter crud right out of you. BTW, if you haven’t been, the Nordstrom Last Chance on Camelback can be a thrifty shopper’s paradise. I generally score high quality shoes (Uggs, Mephisto, Dansko) for thrift shop prices. Say you bought some spendy shoes at Nordstrom. You wore them three times and they killed your feet. You return them to Nordstrom. Or you’re a jerk, wore them once for a wedding and returned them. Last Chance is where Nordstrom sends the merchandise they can’t sell as new. They also have lots of other treasures, so I give them high marks, even though I hate to shop. Wear comfy shoes and something easy to get out of in case of emergency try-ons.

  13. Sonya Ann

    DJ’s Spring break was a few weeks ago. We didn’t do much and it was great. My nephews are here now so we left them with my FIL and we(Den, Donna, Cindy and myself) went on a girls day out. We kept telling Den that we were going for a wax. In England, they call it a back, crack and sack for the men. See, aren’t you glad that you are friends with me. No one does low-brow like me.

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