Reasons why I’m currently locked out of my house and car

Reasons why I’m currently locked out of my house and car:

  1. My keys are hanging on the hook beside the front door but I am on the other side of that door.

  2. Neighbor’s cat keeps sneaking into my house whenever the door opens and I was trying to keep him out. He has since knocked over my caffeine and I am not responsible for what might happen to him.

  3. My windows are theft-proof. Pretty sure one is unlocked, but I can’t get a grip on anything.

  4. Had to bring in my hidden key because my other neighbor’s 6-year-old son found it and kept coming in my house with it. Every time I moved it, he thought it was a game to find it again.

  5. The gate that leads around to the back of the neighborhood is broken and won’t open. My fence doesn’t have a gate, so even if I could get back there, I would have to climb a tree with no low branches or scale a 10-foot fence.

Seriously, is this The Walking Dead?


I’m down with these kids today

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AUGUSTA, GA – Emerson is a typical tween, in that she gets obsessed with something for like 6 weeks and then abandons it entirely. I have a hard time keeping up. There was the BTS obsession, the fleeting running-like-Naruto thing (that I don’t miss), and the Sebastian Stan obsession. And that’s all since about May of this year.

Emerson: “Oh, man! Amari got this thing that is so cool. It is a panda mask that-”

Me (absently as I’m cleaning the kitchen): “Yeah, I’ve seen those.”

Emerson: “You have?”

Me: “Sure, did you want one?”

Emerson: “Well, YEAH!”

Me: “Okay, I’ll pick one up at Walgreens.”

Emerson: “Thanks, mom! You’re the best.”

A week later…

Me (putting down groceries in the kitchen): “Oh, Em, I got that mask you wanted. It’s over on your desk.”

Korean cosmetics are trending right now. Or so the Internets tell me.

Emerson squeals and runs to the desk. Suddenly, I hear her cackling.

Me: “What?”

Emerson: “This isn’t the kind of mask I meant.”

Me (thoroughly confused): “Well… what kind did you mean?”

Emerson: “This kind!”

Stupid-looking Korean surgical masks are apparently ALSO trending – in Emerson’s health science classes, specifically.

Me: “What the heck is that?”

Emerson: “It keeps germs out of your mouth.”

Me: “Why do you need that?”

Emerson: “Well… I don’t, really.”

Me: “Okay, good, because I’m not ordering that.”

Emerson (still laughing): “You’re so adorable! Thanks, mom. You’re the best for trying.”

Me (muttering as I put away canned goods): “…Kids… weird trends… masks… what the heck even ARE those things…”

You say it’s your birthday, well, it’s my birthday, too!


AUGUSTA, GA – As you all know by now, I love a free sample.

Heck, I love a free anything.

Well… not anything. I wouldn’t like a free werewolf. So, I love many free things, but not all free things.

So you know what one of my favorite days of the year is? … MY BIRTHDAY. Because that is the day that all of the companies out there with awesome marketing departments send me emails of birthday gifts. And it is fabulous. I can have a terrible birthday, but a free dinner makes it better.

So here are some of my favorite birthday freebies, and how to get them.

Best Birthday Deals

Denny’s – Present your valid I.D. to receive a free Grand Slam on your birthday (includes two eggs, two slices of bacon, two sausage links and two pancakes). It’s easy as pancakes! But do also consider signing up for their loyalty program. I like their Bourbon Chicken Skillet.

Krispie Kreme – Because these are the bestest doughnuts EVER (the New York Cheesecake is my favorite), they also have one of the best birthday promotions: free coffee and doughnut on your birthday. Sign up here for your birthday breakfast!

Jersey Mike’s Subs – Every year on your birthday, Jersey Mikes sends a coupon for a free regular sub and a 22 oz. fountain drink. There is nothing to complain about with this offer! You know how sometimes you use a coupon at a store or a restaurant and the customer service rep will kind of sigh or seem put off by it? Nope. No attitude at all here. They just genuinely seem happy that you came in. One time, they threw in a free cookie, “because it’s your birthday!” Even though I was already getting a free meal. So, thanks, Jersey Mike’s. We definitely eat there more often because of your free birthday meal. Join their email club to get your own birthday lunch. Try their Chipotle Cheese Steak.

Firehouse Subs – Receive a free medium sub reward, valid once on your birthday or within the following 6 days. No ID required to redeem. Besides Hildebrandt’s, it’s the only quick service restaurant I know of that serves pastrami. And whenever possible, go with the pastrami. Sign up here.

Baskin Robbins – Um, yes, free ice cream on my birthday sounds great. Join their email club and receive a free ice cream on your birthday. I didn’t get mine this year, so I don’t know what’s up with that, but I have received one every year before now, so let’s assume it’s just a glitch. Sign up here for your free birthday ice cream afternoon snack.

Starbucks – A free drink on your birthday! I don’t care for coffee, but my daughter loves it, so this allows me to take her for a special treat on my birthday. She’s happy, so I’m happy. I didn’t get my birthday drink this year, but I also haven’t logged into my account in a year, so that might have something to do with it. Sign up here to get your coffee fix.

Redbox – Each birthday since I started using them, Redbox has sent me an email with a free rental code on my birthday. Every 10th rental, you get one free. And sometimes they send free rental codes just because. I’ll admit that I use them less often than I used to, now that I have an Amazon Firestick, but I still use them more than I used Blockbuster back in the day. You have two weeks to use the code they send. I’ll be renting Wonder Woman, AGAIN, this weekend. Register with Redbox to get your free birthday rental.

Captain D’s Seafood KitchenBecome a Captain D’s Seafood Restaurant Insider and receive a free dessert once a week for a month with the purchase of a regular-priced meal, plus more freebies on your birthday. You know what you get? A whole dinner.

Fatz – Fatz will give you a free Calabash Chicken Meal on your birthday! I mean, that’s weirdly specific, but not more specific than Denny’s, so… eat up! (Save me some of their yummy rolls)

Hungry Howie’s – You get a free pizza on your birthday when you sign up for their email promotions! They have a wide menu of subs, salads, pizzas and more – and are one of the few who offer a gluten-free crust!

Moe’s – Welcome to Moe’s! Have a free entree! Try the Joey Bag of Donuts with their surprisingly satisfying seasoned tofu instead of beef. And, as always, free chips and salsa!

Red Robin – A free burger on your birthday is a most ‘merica thing you can ask for! Sign up for Red Robin Royalty for this perk. I’ll admit I’ve never eaten there, but the Black and Blue Burger is calling my name.

So, at this point on your special day, you have eaten like five meals and four snacks. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Pretty Good

Burger King – Not one of my favorite places to eat, but everyone is different. I appreciate that you can get a free Whopper or Croissan’wich on your birthday, but I don’t like that they want me to download their app to do it. Who needs a BK app? No one, that’s who. So that’s why they’re not in the Best section.

Cold Stone Creamery – More ice cream? You betcha! It’s not free, but it is BOGO. You have two weeks to redeem your BOGO coupon. Your birthday coupon is valid seven days prior to your birthday and expires seven days after your birthday. Sign up here to get free birthday ice cream.

Dairy Queen – BOGO Blizzards! If you ask nicely, they’ll make you something off-menu, like a toffee cheesecake or Reese’s cheesecake Blizzard, for a bit extra. WORTH IT.

Dunken Donuts – Dunken Donuts will give you a free hot or cold beverage on your birthday. This is probably more popular up north, where they have huge market share, but it’s nothing to sneeze at! Maybe try a turkey sausage flatbread while you’re there.

Bruster’s – BOGO Free coupon for a waffle cone. Their flavors change almost daily, but if you can catch their turtle cheesecake as it comes through, you’ll thank me! Sign up here.

Applebee’s – Sign up to receive their email updates and you’ll get a dessert shooter on your birthday. But, you know… it’s Applebee’s.

P.F. Chang’s – Receive a complimentary appetizer or dessert of your choice during your birthday month when you join P.F. Chang’s Preferred. Try their Cauliflower Tempura in a sweet and spicy sauce. Also, their Banana Spring Rolls dessert tastes like I ate Hawaii.

Chuck E. Cheese – Okay, no, shut it, they have air hockey and Guitar Hero and that basketball throwing game. Plus, now they serve beer. So sign up for the club and get free tickets on your birthday!

(Update: I am informed that “that basketball throwing game” is generally referred to just as “basketball,” lol.)

Marco’s Pizza – I like Marco’s, because they probably have the widest variety of pizzas in town, except perhaps for Mellow Mushroom. Try a simple spinach and feta pie. Join their email list for free pizza on your birthday!

Subway – Free 6-inch sub with the purchase of a 30-ounce drink. Now, I have no need of a 30-ounce drink, but, hey, I always need a sammich. Sign up here.

CVSExtraCare card members get a $3 coupon on their birthday. I never don’t need an extra $3, so feel free to forward yours to me if you aren’t gonna use it.

SephoraBeauty Insiders get free stuff, and this year it was a choice between a Tarte blush/lippie set and a Caudalie moisturizer and serum set.

If you’re going anyway…

Enjoy your birthday goodies!

Now that I’ve saved so much money on your birthday meals, and if you’ve ever enjoyed a blog post of mine (perhaps this one?), please consider donating to my aunt’s classroom on Donors Choose. She works to catch up 70 RTI students, from second to fifth grades, who are reading below grade.