Monday, June 20, 2011

The Great Coupon Experiment

Have you ever seen something on television that changed your life? I mean really changed your life...takes your whole view of the world and turns it upside down and inside out. Like the start of MTV (back when they actually showed music videos) or the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Well, that happened to me two night ago. And it's all my husband's fault. We were sitting in the family room, my hubby had control of the remote and I was working on my computer. When he suddenly switched the channel and lo and's TLC's Extreme Couponing.

Have you heard of this show? It's the craziest thing I've ever seen. These people are so coupon competent that they can ring up $2000 worth of groceries and ending up paying like $10. I'm not kidding. It blew my mind. Major Dad and I sat there with our jaws on the floor, blinking like owls and muttering incomplete sentences that sounded like "How....what....huh?"

Now I'm a coupon kind of girl. As I've said before, I don't believe in paying retail. I love bargains, I love saving money, but compared to these Mozarts of money saving my coupon skills are pretty much the equivalent of a monkey banging on a broken bucket. And my hubby knows it now...he looked at me after one episode and said, "we need to be doing that."

And so begins The Great Coupon Experiment. My goal is to get our weekly grocery spending down to less than $50 a week. Which I know is not even close to the pros on Extreme Couponing, but I don't have to be extreme. I'm shooting more for slightly radical. Right now I'd even take above average!

My first step...I now have a binder to organize all my coupons. No more little box with dividers on my kitchen counter. I'm joining the big leagues now. We even bought 9 pocket baseball card sleeves to slip the coupons in so I can see all of my little money savers. Last night I clipped, sorted and organized and I still feel completely inadequate. My little binder is so empty.

Next step, locating more coupons. That's what I'm working on now. Trying to find extra copies of coupons, printable coupons, digital coupons. Pretty much anything that starts with c and ends with on.

Of course I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm doing it with gusto! So any comments, suggestions or helpful resources that you have would be greatly appreciated!

Welcome Hoppers! I hope you'll come back again!

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's Not About Us

Last week was rough. It was one of those weeks when it felt like the hits just kept on coming. Nothing earth shattering, nothing tragic, nothing major. But it was a build up of small annoyances, unexpected issues and trying circumstances that had me ready to break something by week's end.

Then as I was grumbling and muttering and sighing repeatedly in long suffering fashion, I stumbled upon a verse in my devotions that changed my perspective. "His [God's] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord."

How's that for perspective...what goes on in our lives has ramifications in heavenly realms. There are things that happen in our lives: trials, challenges, joys, sufferings that have a very real impact on us. These experiences shape and form how we live, what we say, what kind of attitude we have. They have massive power in our spiritual lives. How do we view God? How do we pray when we're in the midst of something painful? These experiences influence our friends and families and people around us. People see how we persevere (or fail to persevere) through the valley we find ourselves in or how we praise (or fail to praise) when we're blessed and that can change (for good or for bad) how they see God and the church.

And all of that is important and a part of our witness. But this verse in Ephesians reminds us that our actions, our lives and our attitudes also echo in the heavens. It is God's plan, His desire that through the actions and reactions of the church, and those of us in the church, that His wisdom will be demonstrated to the unseen forces that fill the heavenly realms.

Doesn't that give you goosebumps? Well, maybe not goosebumps, but it should give us a reason to stop and reconsider our place in God's plan. It's not just about us. God of course cares passionately and deeply about each one of us. He loves us in a personal way and with a depth we cannot possibly begin to understand. And He loves us so much that He allows us to face trials and tribulations so that we can know Him better, rely on Him more and become more like Him. But not only does He use the cares and challenges of this life to shape and mold and refine us, He uses those same cares and challenges to demonstrate something powerful to those who dwell in eternity. Isn't that amazing? Not only that He loves us (which is pretty amazing by itself if you stop to think about it), but that He entrusts us with a ministry of witnessing to angels.

Our life isn't just about us. It isn't just about how well we walk our spiritual path or how much we grow and mature in our walk with the Lord. It's not even just about how our life can influence people around us. We have a role in an eternal ministry. We have a part of play in the unfolding of God's plan for heavenly realms that we can't yet see. Our lives are manifestations of God's wisdom.

Wow. Lord, I know I'm not worthy of that call, but I want to be.

PS. Welcome Hoppers! Please come back again!
Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Road Rage and Dead Greek Philosophers

So here's my quote for the day:

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Plato

And why, you may be asking, have I chosen to bring that little gem of quotable wisdom to your attention? Why, out of all the witty, quip-able and inspiring collections of famous stuff that other people have said, am I focused on that one today. The answer my friends is fairly simple...I got cut off by crazy driver. Whoa, deep, right? Ok, maybe not deep, maybe more like a big puddle, but still...whoa, right?

So here's what happened. The kiddies and I were driving back from Ella's skating lesson and, as I have casually mentioned earlier, thanks to a blizzard and a weak roof we have to drive an hour to the nearest still standing rink. Which means I also have to drive an hour back (that's physics for ya). So we're about 30 minutes into the drive home, the kids are jabbering and there's a Barbie movie playing on the car dvd player, when I notice a car coming up rather quickly behind me. Now, I'm a safe, but not annoyingly safe, driver. Which means I generally stay within 5 miles per hour above the speed limit, I use my blinker and if there's road construction coming up I change lanes early rather than waiting until the last minute and forcing everyone else to screech to a halt to accommodate me (but that's another story).

Anyway, I notice the rapidly moving vehicle continuing to gain on me and I start to wonder if he plans on slowing down or just running over me. Now bear in mind, there are three lanes moving this direction and I'm in the middle lane. As I continue to watch my impending doom grow larger in the rear view mirror, I start getting a little (ahem, a lot) annoyed. Finally, the obviously in a hurry car gets as close as he can get to my bumper without doing mechanical work and I had a fleeting thought of slowing down just to make him mad. But I refrained. Score one for maturity.

Then, Mr. "Can't You Tell I Have Somewhere To Be", dashes over to the right lane, accelerates and then promptly cuts me off in what can only be interpreted as a deliberate "that'll teach you little Ms. Minivan" move. So I slow down just enough so he can see me in his side view mirrors and give him the universal hand waving in the air sign, the one that looks a lot like an Italian grandmother telling the rotten neighborhood kids to get off her lawn. I believe it is roughly translated as "Hey, jerk, where'd you learn to drive?" Hmmm, lose one maturity point. On the plus side I didn't actually call him the names that were running through my head.

Then, a few hours later I thought of Plato's quote. You never know what battle someone is fighting, but it's a good bet that they are fighting something. It's possible this guy was just a thoughtless, inconsiderate and relatively unsafe driver. But it is also possible that there was something else going on. Maybe his wife was in labor and he really wanted to be there. Or maybe he had his sick dog in the car and he had to get to the vet. Or maybe he was a spy being chased by ninjas (that I couldn't see know...they're ninjas) and he had to get the governments most secret secrets away from DC as fast as possible. I don't know and I'll never know, but Plato's quote is a good reminder that everyone has a battle to fight and they probably don't need us adding our rudeness or criticism to whatever burden they are already carrying.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Four Year Old Commando

As a follow-up to yesterday's post on the woes of washing disposable pull-ups, let me share with you the joys of explaining to a 4 year old the concept of going commando.

So, if you didn't read yesterday's post, I'll wait here while you scroll down a bit to catch up. Don't worry, we'll wait. (La di da, hum di ho) All finished? Did you like the Hippy-Hippy Shake line? I was especially proud of that. Anyway, what you need to remember to properly enjoy today's post is that Jack's laundry, including all of his underwear, ended up soaking wet and covered in diaper goo. So the next morning, when it was time to get dressed Jack rather innocently asked "where's my underwear?"

At which point, I looked at Major Dad and said, "this is a Daddy moment."

After giving it some thought, he took Jack's hand and said, "time to go commando, buddy." I tried really hard not to giggle as I listened to my husband explain to my son that it was very important that to be extra careful when zipping up his pants. Hysterical! But it gets even better.

Later that night we took the kids to Burger King for dinner so we could use their free wi-fi to catch up on some projects. (Remember the lightening fried modem? You can scroll down for that adventure too). Anyway, as the kids were finishing dinner, there were two other little girls wearing dresses running around the play set. Now this play set is two stories high and these girls were wearing dresses. Yeah, not a good combination. So there's Jack casually sipping his lemonade when he suddenly (and loudly) announced "I know those girls aren't going commando because I can see their underwear."

Yep, that was my son.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why Disposable Diapers Are Meant To Be Disposed Of

So, you'd think that getting our office equipment zapped by a random bolt of weather generated electricity would be enough to fulfill our mechanical drama quota for the week. But dear friends, you would be mistaken. In addition to losing our modem and printer, I almost lost the washing machine.

We recently bought a new (used) high efficiency washer and dryer from friends of ours that were moving. I still haven't figured out how to use all the buttons and gizmos on these super sized laundry beasts, but I like them. They're big, and pretty and quiet. Plus I can stuff an entire king sized comforter in the washer without having to worry about the machine doing some demon-possessed version of the Hippy-Hippy Shake in my laundry room.

Well, after the lightening strike and my ensuing banishment from the internet, I had plenty of time to catch up on housework. One night as Jack was getting ready for bed said, "Mommy, my underwear is gone." Which translates to, "Dear Mother, I seem to be out of clean undergarments. Would you please launder them for me?" So after getting him tucked in, I brought his laundry downstairs and tossed it in my monster size washing machine.

Then, when the big machine buzzed, I popped open the door and found...something that definitely doesn't belong in a washing machine. There was this strange squishy gel stuff all over the machine and all over the clothes. Thinking perhaps I had committed the High Efficiency Felony of using regular laundry soap instead of the special HE stuff, I rinsed out the "put detergent here" cup and ran the wash again.

And no joy. The strange, translucent squishy stuff is still there. So Major Dad and I pull out all the clothes in an attempt to find the source of the problem. And what do we discover? A nighttime pull-up that had gone through the wash and spit it's special super absorbent gel filling all over the washing machine. Lovely. And guess what's really, really hard to clean out of a washing machine...the super absorbent squishy gel they stuff inside of pull-ups.

It's not that I don't appreciate Jack being a big boy and putting his clothes in the laundry hamper by himself, but I've been finding pull-ups in some mighty odd places. Of course after picking tiny bits of wet and squishy diaper goo out of every nook and cranny in the washing machine, I won't be nearly as upset about the next pull-up I find in the bookcase.

Welcome Hip Hoppers! I hope you'll come back again!

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Monday, June 6, 2011

This Time It Wasn't My Fault

Really! I was all fired up to be back at the blog, I had a bunch of first drafts of future posts, I was feeling inspired and then...lightening struck. No, seriously lightening. I'm not being metaphorical this time. We had a big thunderstorm about two weeks ago and BOOM! We got hit by lightening. Not me personally, that would be an entirely different kind of post, but our house. I could Google the odds of your house getting struck by lightening, but I'm pretty sure it's some ridiculous derivative of pi multiplied by a whole bunch of zeroes and divided by the number of things you really want to get done online.

Anyway, here's the story. Major Dad was home and it was kidlet bath time. He had Jack in the shower (because Major Dad doesn't do baths) and there was a nasty thunderstorm raging outside. Now, I actually like thunderstorms so I was enjoying the sound effects. Then there was a loud thunder clap followed by a really, and I mean REALLY, loud crack. Major Dad and I looked at each other with expressions that silently said, "Uh-oh." And then we promptly told the kids that everything was fine.

Since Major Dad had his hands full of soapy child, I put on my shoes and went to investigate. I didn't see anything smoking or on fire so I went back inside. Maybe not a thorough investigation but hey, it was raining. Later that night we discovered that the electronics in our office were dead. It was an mechanical massacre. The surge protector had been completely overloaded, the breaker blew, our dsl modem was toasted and the laser printer was fried. Praise the Lord that no one was hurt and our house is fine. And I am beyond happy that we had rearranged the basement and that my brand new computer was in a different room and on a different plug.

So after almost two weeks of living off the grid...foraging for information nuts and berries in the wilderness of a no-internet wasteland, we got our new modem and are back online. Unfortunately the printer is still dead. Major Dad has taken it apart (it kind of looks like an autopsy on R2D2) and is trying valiantly to fix it.

See, not my fault...this time.