We had four separate sets of visitors contact us about visiting us this last weekend. Only (only!) three sets came through, so we ‘ve just finished off a a very busy, but pleasant weekend with old friends and family.

The baby was fussier than usual and today he woke up with a bit of a fever. So we are hanging about the house and resting. He’s sleeping ( he’s on his 4th nap and it’s not even 2 pm) and I’ve been holding him, sipping tea, and working on my crocheted woolen soaker.

And pondering how to best spend my brother’s citibank thank you points. (Periodically my brother tosses his accumulated credit card reward points in the general direction of my sister and me – and we squabble and tear into them, like half-starved coyotes who’ve come across a free meal… ) Because Songbae uses his credit card for business expenses, he accumulates an impressive quantity of points. Last year, we used our half of the points to purchase a 120-gig ipod; meaning that his reward points translates to roughly $1000 of goods to be split between Sue’s and my household. (Chad got the 120-gig, I inherited his “old” 80-gig, and Bella got his mini.)

Of course there is a science to maximizing the points – a study that my brother is neither willing or interested in undertaking – for instance, we were able to get the 120-gig for about 15, 000 points less by using our points to purchase Circuit City gifts cards rather than purchasing the ipod directly from citibank.

This year my sister and her family are doing that same thing we did last year; they are going to get a 32-gig ipod touch by redeeming points for Best Buy cards. The only small dilemma there is that the gift cards at Best Buy cost more than gift cards at other retail stores, like Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Bloomingdale’s, Crate and Barrel, or Williams-Sonoma.

Basically I get to choose how our points are spent this year. Bella wants a $100 gift card to Bloomingdale’s, which will cost 10,000 points. That leaves me with about 38,000 points to play with – or nearly $400 retail spending power.

Chad thinks I need a new camera (but I still love the one he got for me only two years ago).

Bella is adamant that I need a new wardrobe and wants me to spend all the cash on Bloomingdale’s gift cards to spiff myself up (only – who cares? I’m hanging with moms and babies these days, and rarely even put on makeup. Although I could use Bloomingdale’s gift cards to replenish my expensive supply of Sheisedo face products.)

I am having a heck of a time deciding what to do.

Do I want a patio table or BBQ grill? I could get either through JC Penney’s, but both things are so easy to buy used at garage sales.

How about finally growing my kitchen knife collection? Practical, but not so fun. I could use a cleaver, boning knife, and shears.

Ditto on the vacuum cleaner.  I hate our vacuum cleaner, but we only have one area rug. Wait, should I get a nice carpet? Bella and Chad would call me crazy…

Or a huge Le Creuset roasting pan would gobble up all the points at once.

What I really want is a roundtrip ticket to Bangkok this summer (or four of them) so that my family can spend time with my sister’s family this July. But just one ticket is 142,000 points.

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