Lori V.

May 252015

Memorial Day in our home this year will be spent traveling home from seeing my family, especially my brother before he deploys.   However, very close to my heart and in my thoughts will be two special people I had the honor and privilege to know.   While I do not discount the countless other families who were affected by conflict and war, by the loss of a child, a husband, a father, brother, sister, mother, wife – these two individuals are close to my heart.


Frank (Capt. “Puj” Hooks) – a pilot in our squadron in South Carolina that made the ultimate sacrifice in June 2004.   His loss deeply impacted Matt, and all the Marines of 115.   My best memory of Frank was the DVD we unexpectedly got in the mail one day during the first deployment Matt went on.  They had made us a “we are halfway home” DVD full of photos of all the guys from the squadron.  It was a silly DVD, but so special to all the spouses.  Frank was married to my sweet friend Cindy – whom I admire for her beautiful spirit.



Second is Clarence Adams.  Clarence was 3 years ahead of me in school  (me a freshman, he a senior) when I decided to run indoor track.  He then decided to take me under his wing and teach me to throw shot put.  So, he taught me and I did it.  I wasn’t that good, and didn’t stick with it, but he was always encouraging.    He always had a smile on his face, and was loved by so many at Varina.   Clarence died in Baghdad, Iraq in September 2004.  He was the father of six, and devoted husband.  




While for many it’s a day of picnics, BBQ’s and the unofficial start of summer, it is also a VERY real holiday to remember those who have fought and died for us to have the ability to go to the river or beach, watch a parade in peace and have a picnic.   Please take a moment today and remember them, their families and their sacrifice. 


Note – photo of Frank courtesy of Cindy Morrison, and photo of Clarence courtesy of  Iraqwarheros.org.  This post was originally posted on 5-28-2012.


May 202015

Three baseball seasons together….its funny when you stop counting years and start counting by other things…like how many Christmas’ we have had together, how many baseball teams Bray has played on.  This was our 3rd season of Carolina baseball, and sadly – we went to the fewest number of games (3) this year.  Work, baseball, kids activities and Patrick’s work travel schedule all got in the way. 

However, we made up for it last weekend by going to both Friday & Saturday’s final games of the season for Carolina.  Sadly, we lost to LSU both nights (we did win the 1st night of the series), but – we still had a great time!   Carolina Stadium is one of the best atmosphere’s I have ever experienced.  For the most part, everyone is super nice and there is not a bad seat in the stadium at all!   The first night we started off sitting on the berm, and then we ended up snagging some empty seats over off the 3rd baseline.  The 2nd night, we anticipated sitting on the berm (staff get free tickets, usually on the berm), but this time we got put into actual seats!  We were right on the 3rd field wall section and it was great!  Only downside is the scoreboard/video board is behind you.

We do have one silly thing that we seem to have always done – we wear the same exact thing to each game.  I have a tshirt that spells CAROLINA across the front in rainbow letters, and Patrick has a well-loved Garnet polo with a Gamecock on it.   I told him I was going to take a photo for my blog and put all 3 photos together from past games to show how “I” have aged.  He laughed and said “good save”.  The sun was not on our side in taking the photo the last night, so I apologize for the glare!    The hair may change, but the love is still going strong!  



May 122015

This is part repost & part update of a post I did last summer.  At the request of my “board girls”, I am updating it for them!

I used to be such a good couponer.  I had a binder full, I could plan out shopping trips, and get a ton free (remember the free boxes of Frozen Limades?).   Then….I got a full time job, and life happened, and kids got into sports and well – I did what I could, but not to the level I used to.

I miss being able to open my pantry and see a stash of paper towels I got for free, or go to my laundry room and see 15 bottles of detergent I got for pennies.   

Couponing has evolved from simply cutting coupons out of a newspaper on Sunday.  You can get them online, and even on your smartphone.  They come in the mail inside of magazines, and direct mailers from the companies.

Here are some of my favorite places to get coupons and or savings!

The obvious one – printable coupons from Coupons.com.  Cilck & print – super easy!!!

ibottaNext comes iBotta.  This one takes a little work AFTER you have done your shopping.  iBotta is an app on your phone that allows you to scan the product, and then upload your receipt and they will give you cash back for buying the product and doing things like sending a tweet (often worth 25¢) or liking the products facebook page.   iBotta allows you to cash out at $5 earnings, and use it towards cash (via paypal), or Starbucks or other gift cards! 


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Next comes SavingStar.  This one is a “no brainer” for the most part.  Just sign on, add the coupons to your store cards (Bi-Lo, Food Lion, CVS, etc).  And it will add the savings to your account (it will NOT come off at the register).  For example, a few weeks ago they had a “Get 100% back when you buy a York Peppermint Patty”.  I bought one, and got 99¢ credited to my account.  Like iBotta, you can cash out with this one!   **UPDATE**  Some stores require you to scan the receipt for this one, and are no longer automatic based on your store cards.   Be sure to check this one weekly to make sure you have all the new items added to your card.  Some offers are $5 when you purchase $25 or more of a certain brand, and these can be purchased over multiple shopping trips.



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CellFire.com - online coupons that allow you to add coupons to your Kroger (or affliate) store cards.  They come off at the register when you purchase certain items.  They often also have freebies to load to your Kroger (or affliate) store.   **UPDATE – if you have a Kroger close by, be sure to add coupons to your store card from the Kroger.com website.  While you cannot combine those coupons with paper coupons for the same item – this is a good way to use coupons and not have to worry about taking paper coupons to the store.  Also, Kroger often has Friday Freebies, where a completely free item can be added to your card!

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Checkout51.com - another like iBotta, that requires a little work after the fact, but has good results.  They routinely have “get cash back when you buy milk” – any brand of milk.  Just scan the barcode on the milk and the receipt and they will credit your account with the offers you pick.  I like this one because they have a lot of “any brand” offers, where you can buy any brand yogurt, milk, fruit and get money back.  Currently, they also have offers for Kashi, Dove, King Arthur Flour, along with about 15 others!  Again, you can cashout with this one (at $20).



SnapByGroupon.com - another like iBotta & Checkout51 that require you to pick your offers, and then scan your receipt.  They too often have “any milk” or “any yogurt” offers.  They sometimes have alcohol offers as well!  Currently they have cash back offers on Redd’s Apple Ale, BeechNut Baby Food, Oranges and a few magazines as well!   



Walmart Savings Catcher –  This one is a total no-brainer!  I mean, you scan 1 thing and it does ALL the work for you!   Step 1 – buy stuff at Walmart, Step 2, scan the bar code or QR code at the bottom of your receipt with the Walmart App (alternatively, it looks like you can also enter receipt information online to your account and it will do the same thing).  Step 3 – Walmart scans competitor ads on eligible products and if they find a lower price, you get the difference back in either a Walmart gift card OR Bluebird Card (Amex pre-paid).  You let the money just sit, adding a little at a time and it would be a great thing to save for Christmas!  Last week, we bought some crackers that were priced at $2.50 at Walmart.  The same crackers were on sale at Food Lion for $2.00, so we got 50¢ back into our Savings Catcher account.  We don’t shop at Walmart too often, so this will never be a big money maker for me.  However, get into the habit of scanning every single receipt (up to 15 per week), and you never know when you’ll get a little back!


For those that like to shop online!  




If you have a .edu email address, you can get Amazon Student Prime Membership for half of the normal amazon prime cost.  This is GREAT for those that like to shop through amazon!  

You get it free for 6 months, and then after that it is $49 a year!



EbatesThere is also ebates.com, which gives you cash back (from 2% to 25%) for shopping thru them for online purchases.  Some examples are Kohls, 123InkJets.com, Macys, Groupon and tons more!    I have been a member of ebates.com for about 6 years, and as of today have gotten back roughly $600.  They sent out money 4 times a year in “BFP – Big Fat Payments” either through paypal, or check.  Money earned Jan-March 31st comes on May 15th.   Its a fun little surprise each quarter to get that BFP!  

If you sign up through my link (((CLICK HERE))) you will get a $10 cash bonus when you make your first purchase of $25 or more!  So easy to do!!!









May 112015

My 5th semester here working on campus has just come to a close.   While having the campus quiet allows us time to breathe, catch up, renovate and recharge – its also good for a few other funnies.  And of course – I do miss a few things.

Things I love about students being gone…..

1.  parking on the 1st floor of the parking garage versus the 4th floor.  Its the little things people.  Also knowing that an undergrad probably won’t randomly hit my car is also a good thing.  Because, bless them – they FLY through the parking garages, seemingly not aware that someone maybe backing out!

2.  clean bathrooms in our building.  Because lets be real – 2000+ women using a 6 stall bathroom ALL DAY LONG tends to get a little gross after awhile.  Typically during the summer I can count the number of women who use the 2nd floor bathroom on 2 hands, and can name them all.  

3.  the quiet allows us to catch up on well…EVERYTHING (and that includes the Netflix we all catch up on during our lunch breaks where we actually take an entire hour!)


Things I hate about students being gone…..

1.   Einsteins is closed…and there is only one other option for on campus dining close to our building.  Good news is, I bring my own lunch and it saves money – however, sometimes I like being able to run downstairs and get a bagel & schmear!

2.  There are days when it is too quiet…just way, way,way too quiet.  I miss the laughter in the hallways at class change time, the random students who pop into our office needing directions, or to make an appointment.

3.  The energy on campus is well…somewhat non-existent.  The energy will return in late August, with move-in week, football season looming on the horizon and the promise of another school year.

Until then, we will relish in the quiet, play catch-up and get ahead and we will look forward to the day when the students return (except that sharing a bathroom with 2K+ women, that’s never something to look forward to!)

May 012015

This week has been..well – long, and weird.  But, its almost summer break for our students, and a bit of a slowdown for us staff.   We still have a lot of work to do, but, it does a slow a bit.  

Because we work with college students, and we need a lot of patience a lot.  We laugh & giggle a lot, we have to – if we don’t we would go nuts.   Here are some things that made me giggle this week!


FB_IMG_1430274848931This was perfect for when I needed a good facebook comment last week!

FB_IMG_1430356514408This one is for Allison, my work wife.  We always complain about her driving and how it scares the hell out of us….well, this is the perfect comeback for her to tell us!


Yes, because if you cannot respond back to me with movie quotes or song lyrics sometimes…we cannot be friends.


I actually told a cashier this once, she said “oh you forgot to hit the button for the amount being okay.  I said, well I am not actually ok with the amount, i think its too high.  She looked at me like I had 5 heads so I just let it go.  Some people cannot take a joke.


That about sums it up.



Apr 292015

Its well documented on this blog that I read, a lot. Its nothing for me to go to the library, check out 5 books and be done in less than 2 weeks in order to turn them back in.

Early in March I found a series of books that looked promising, and waited for them to be “in stock” at the local library.  I  checked out the 1st one about a week before our trip to Charleston.  I read it in probably 2 days, and immediately went on a frantic search for #2.  Thanks for Allison for her library card & ebook abilities!  I read the 2nd & 3rd through ebooks available through local libraries.   #4 – I picked up the day before we went to Charleston (Friday), and when Patrick picked me up on Saturday morning I was 2 chapters from being done with book #4 .    I could not put them down and finished them all within 1 week.  


Description of the 1st book “The House on Tradd Street” from the author’s Karen White’s website.

Practical-minded Charleston realtor Melanie Middleton hates to admit that she can see ghosts—even to herself. But now she’s going to have to accept it. Because an old man she met only days ago has died, leaving Melanie his historic Tradd Street home, complete with housekeeper, dog—and a family of ghosts anxious to tell her something…

Enter Jack Trenholm, a gorgeous writer obsessed with unsolved mysteries. He has reason to believe that some diamonds that went missing from the Confederate Treasury a century ago are hidden in Melanie’s new home. So he decides to turn the charm on with the new tenant, only to discover that he’s suddenly the smitten one… 

But it turns out that Jack’s search has caught the attention of a possibly malevolent ghostly presence. Now, Jack and Melanie must unravel a mystery of passion, heartbreak, and even murder. And they must hurry, for an evil force—either dead or alive—lies in wait…

125TraddStOne thing I noticed throughout the books was that the names of places that Melanie & Jack went to visit, were actual places in Charleston that I was seeing on the weekend Patrick and I went.  We passed over Tradd Street and Legare Street, and I saw Montagu Street listed in a pamphlet we had picked up.  Restaurants that Melanies mother dined on, passed it when we were walking!  Melanie also likes to walk on the Battery, a favorite spot of Patrick and myself.  I started telling Patrick about the book, and how the author had given the address of 55 Tradd Street.  He said “ok, want to go find it?”.  I said “of course!”  So off we went on searching for it.  We came up empty handed, as the addresses skip from 53 Tradd to 57 Tradd.  Oh well, I had a good image in my head of what I thought the house looked like.  Later that day, I looked it up online and found that Karen White had based the house depicted in the first & 4th books, on a home at 125 Tradd Street.  So off we went to find that house!  Patrick was such a good sport about the whole thing, and I love that he asked me if I wanted to go find the house!

It was close to what I imagined that the home would look like.  I forget that Charleston has such small sidewalks and narrow streets, so I did have to reconfigure my imagination!

We came home from Charleston that Sunday and I settled in to finish reading the last book.  I loved the ending, but was so sad.  Was this it?  I need more!   I was happy to see that Karen has a 5th book in the works, and I look forward to seeing what is to come for Melanie and Jack.

I did also pick up a few more of her books.  I just finished The Color of Light, and I have Folly Beach on my “to read” list.

I truly look forward to reading more from Karen White, and I highly recommend her books to anyone who enjoys a little mystery mixed with the charm of the lowcountry.





*photos of book covers taken from goodreads.com & photo of 125 House Street was taken by me!*

Apr 272015

The end of the school year crazy has begun.  Today is the last day of classes for my students, and my children have roughly a month of school left.  Cannot believe its almost summertime again!   I am looking forward to beach trips and sunshine and WARM weather!   Patrick and I already agreed that several day trips to Folly are needed this summer for us and the kids!

May is going to be an especially crazy month for us.  Katie has several dance rehearsals coming up in preparation for her dance recital in early May.  Jonathan has baseball, and if it keeps raining we’ll be playing lots of week night makeup games.  I think currently we have roughly 3 games to make-up because of rain.  Natalee has a zoo field trip coming up, its the kindergarten end of the year thing.  Bray was selected to join the Shockwave Elite baseball team, so that means more travel for baseball.  Which, is nice because we will be able to get out of Lexington a little. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching him play in Lexington, but a little change of scenery is always nice!  And of course – all 4 kids have end of the school year awards ceremonies & performances.  

I have 2 trips in May as well.  A solo trip to Beaufort to see my friend Mandi and help her out, and the whole family is heading to NC to see my brother before he deploys.  I am excited to see my family, and for all of us to be there together.  Patrick didn’t get to go at Christmas because of work, so this somewhat makes up for that.  Katie has made plans with a friend to go to the US National Whitewater Center on mothers day weekend.  Patrick has his annual boys golf trip, and Bray has a school field trip to DC (so excited about this one for him!).  Pat and I may try to squeeze in a day trip one weekend to hike or just to get out of Columbia too.  

So if you see me running around in May with my hair on fire – reel me in, give me a hug and say “it will all slow down eventually!”


Apr 212015

A couple weeks ago, my work bestie Allison had a class in preparation for her to teach U101 here at U of SC.  it was called “True Colors“.  

She ran in and was so excited to have everyone in the office take the quiz so she could tell us our “personality color” and how to better work with others based on personality temperament.   She came running back into the office saying “I’m a blue and a gold, and I just know you are a blue too.”  After giving her a blank stare for probably a good 30 seconds, she explained a bit about the class & the quiz.  I agreed (reluctantly I might add) to take the quiz.   

 I was exactly what she said I was!  I was a gold, with a backup of blue.  There were some other colors (orange and green) – but my personality type was predominately gold, with a few blue indicators as well.



Characteristics of a person who has a “gold personality”

Gee, sound like me much?   Love to plan – yes I do!   I  sent Patrick a text with this photo and it says “sound like anyone you know?”   I tend to make him crazy with my obsessive planning.  

I am somewhat traditional, it depends on what you are referring to.  I am pretty consistent, and a rule follower 99% of the time.



Stressors of a person with a gold personality

Change of plans and tardiness are 2 of my biggest stressors.  the change of plans is a big one for Patrick and I.   He is more of a “roll with it” type of person, and I get a little bent out of shape at changes.  We did have a good long talk about this the other week, and I am going to try my hardest to be more gracious when it comes to changes.  Also, lack of planning makes me crazy – but, I also love surprises.  Its weird, I want to know what we are doing, but I also love that he can surprise me.  

Have you ever taken one of these quizzes before?


Apr 082015

We all love going to the movies during the summer. Whether you prefer the biggest blockbusters or the sweetest romantic comedy, Swagbucks can get you into the movies for free! Swagbucks is a rewards site that gives you points called “Swag Bucks” for things like searching, watching videos & browsing articles. You redeem those Swag Bucks for gift cards to places like Amazon, PayPal — and yes, even to the movies.

I was able to use Swagbucks to pay for the majority of my Christmas items last year!  I also have used it for my kindle book habit!

Here’s how Swagbucks can help you can turn watching videos online into your watching movies in the theater for free: Earning 1,500 SB gets you enough for a $15 movie gift card from AMC! Whether you’re on the go, at home, or stuck at a desk, here’s how you can get your $15 AMC movie gift card in just 1 week:

SBTV mobile on Android & iOS: Earn up to 36 SB per day watching everything from food videos & news to Hulu clips & music videos – 252 SB

Moviecli.ps app on Android & iOS: Get 18 SB per day watching the latest movie trailers – 126 SB

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When you have a specific SB goal (like a $15 AMC gift card) and a plan of action, you’ll get gift cards faster and check out the newest action-comedy or Oscar-nominated drama without spending extra money. There are even more ways to earn SB online, so take a look around and see what works best for you. You don’t have to wait until the next blockbuster comes out to start saving up with Swagbucks!

Interested in learning more?  Just visit Swagbucks here:    SWAGBUCKS!

Apr 082015

I was nominated for a Stand Up Carolina Hero Award by one of our professors.  So, Patrick and I got a nice breakfast, a little speech from one of the university professors and I got an award!  Here I am with one of the Vice Provosts.