Sunday, January 15, 2006

They're My Obsessions

Okay, so this is going to be another totally random post. But hopefully it's one that is fun and a bit informative as well.

Lately I've been really into playing Scrabble. My mom and her siblings are huge Scrabble fans (well, her older sister doesn't love it so much, but she humors them and plays along anyway). My maternal grandparents loved to play the game as well when they were alive.

Therefore, I've grown up around the game. So you'd think, what with my love of writing, reading and all things linguistic, that I'd be a total Scrabble Head as well. But until recently, I have not. In fact, I hated the game. Strongly disliked, anyway.

I think it must have been because my family is so good at it - I thought I had to be too. I was always so self-conscious about using my "s" appropriately, putting my high scoring letters on extra point squares, and so forth, that I couldn't just relax and have fun. Especially as I got older and truly developed my love of writing. Heck, I was an English major! I should have not only loved playing Scrabble, but I should have been darn good at it, too! Too much pressure!

Anyway, my aunt and uncle from GA came up to visit at Thanksgiving time this year. This meant an even more intense tournament of Scrabble games to either watch or participate in. So, not wanting to sit around and be bored watching others play, I half-heartedly joined in on some of the games, all the while proclaiming my dislike of the situation.

But guess what happened? I actually did pretty well! And up against my mom, aunts and uncle, that's saying something! Hey, this game isn't so bad after all!

Ever since, I've been challenging my husband to almost nightly games of Scrabble. Sweetie will even "allow" us to play during weekend days, joining us at the table playing with her Play doh. She can happily sit with us for the typical 1 1/2 hour game play, busily smooshing "doh" through her Fun Factory shape maker.

My husband and I are pretty equally matched. I've won games in a row, and then he takes his turn at a winning streak. We do like to play a nine-tile game, though (instead of the typical 7-tile version), as it makes the play go that much quicker. And we do let each other look words up in the Scrabble Dictionary beforehand. I know, I know, this is TOTALLY against the rules of the avid player, but we feel we need that added assistance to play a decent game. And, the more and more we play, the less and less we're turning to the dictionary for help. Just building our vocabulary for when we play with the Big Boys (and Girls), that's all.

So, that's that. I'm addicted to Scrabble. It could be worse.

Like shopping! Yes, I've become a bit of a shopping addict. On-line shopping, that is. And for me, someone who really couldn't care less about going out to the malls and spending money on myself, this is totally insane.

But, you see, I've found a little something called Club Mom. It's an on-line organization, co-founded by Meredith Vieira of T.V'.s "The View". The site features all sorts of great mom-and-doctor approved parenting tips, advice, stories and more.

And shopping.

Club Mom has set up this shopping point system for its registered members (registration is quick, easy and FREE!). Whenever you purchase something from one of their gazillion affiliated retailers, you earn points. Points per dollar can range anywhere from 1 to 15 or more, so they can add up very quickly. Then, you can ultimately take your points and trade them in at the Club Mom Rewards Catalog. For instance, 1000 points will get you a $5 gift certificate to anywhere from Aunt Annie’s Pretzels, to Applebee’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and others.

Okay, so $5. to any particular store isn't much to write home about. But just you wait! Keep buying things through Club Mom's website and you'll keep earning points! The most extravagant item in their Rewards Catalogue is a Family Theme Park Package for a mere 750,000 points.

So, you don't want to get only $5. to a given store, and you don't have the patience to wait and earn all 750,000 points for the Theme Park Package. But don't worry, there are hundreds of mid-ranged prizes to choose from along the way. Day spa visits, restaurant gift certificates of a more substantial amount, clothing, electronics, etc. There's even a way you can register all the items you like on your own wish list. That way, as you earn more and more points, you'll receive emails telling you what you now qualify to trade them in for. Cool.

The problem for me, though, is that I'm finding myself wanting to buy as much as I can through the Club Mom website. For instance, I have 2 relative's birthdays coming up, but they're not people I typically buy presents for. This year, though, I'm thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice to find them a little something?". Then there's my niece's 1st birthday coming up very soon. I will definitely be buying her something, but instead of my typical stance of finding the best bargain anywhere, this time I feel totally willing to spend as much as need be for that perfect gift.

Obsessed, I tell ya! I plan to buy all the gifts I need on line through this site and I've told my husband to do the same. He has an L.L. Bean gift certificate to spend - "shop on line!", I tell him. Anything you need, see if Club Mom is affiliated with the store in question.

This is crazy! I hate to spend money. But, hey, THIS money will actually get me a bonus in the end - so it's okay, right? That's what I keep telling myself, anyway. Spend more money now, and get free stuff later. Plus, I don't have to leave my house to shop. No more finding a sitter for Sweetie or dealing with her shenanigans if she comes along.

It all works out in the end, right? And everybody wins.

Win? Yeah, I can do that. Anybody up for another round of Scrabble?

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