Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Feeling Powerless

My heart goes out to people who are still without power because of Hurricane Irene. Days have gone by and many people are trying to function without air conditioning, refrigerators, light, and many other basic necessities. It’s hard to imagine the wide-scale suffering.

Our own power has gone out three times in the last week, so I have experienced the discomfort on a much, much, smaller scale. The reason for power outages in our tiny town is usually more mundane than earthquakes or hurricanes. As soon as we see gray clouds starting to roll in over the valley, we’re on alert; with the first roll of thunder we start shutting down computers.

At times it seems as if anything can trigger a power outage—a bird momentarily obscures the sun, the sun shines, or a city employee sneezes. We never know what causes these power interruptions. We have learned to deal with it.

Last night the power went out for the third time in a week. I was in the middle of making dinner, and poof! All went quiet. No swamp cooler blowing, no computers humming, no stove, microwave, or DVD player to tell me what time it was.  

I paused for a moment, hoping that it was a momentary outage, but no such luck. Hunting through the refrigerator and cupboards, I could find very little that didn’t need to be cooked. I told Weston that we could have tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots for dinner or he could wait for the power to come back on and I would finish the spaghetti. Since we had already had tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots for lunch, he was less than thrilled to have them again for dinner.

We did have options. I could have fired up the wood-burning stove to boil the water for spaghetti but it was hot enough already in the house without the swamp cooler blowing. We have a fire pit in the back yard but I discovered we are lacking a flat grill iron to place over the pit—something on which to rest our pans. So we “vegged.”

After a few minutes of no computer, no Wii, no television, no food, Weston observed, “Boy, the Pilgrims must have had really boring lives with nothing to do all day.”

Do you feel a teaching moment coming on?  

I explained that the Pilgrims had plenty to do. They couldn’t go rent a house—they had to build it. They couldn’t go to the lumber store to buy some wood—they had to chop it. If they wanted flour to make a cake, they had to grow the wheat first. Realizing that my son needed “something to do” I pushed him out the door. Here are some things we did to occupy our time.

We went to the garden to see if we needed to harvest any veggies and found our neighbor there, helping himself to a little produce. Apparently his stove wasn't working either.  
Weston found that peacocks can run really fast.

I made a snack to tide us over. Mmm...graham crackers, peanut butter and chocolate chips!

I checked our apple tree to see if the fruit was ready to pick and found TWINS!  
They were stuck together.

Weston hopped around all the wood we have waiting to be cut. I know what you're thinking--yeah, I should have put him to work chopping it!

Enjoyed a beautiful sunset

Do you ever realize how silly you are when the power goes out? You try to think of alternative things to do, but then realize that too, involves power?  

Like, the stove doesn't work, but hey! I'll just use the microwave! Oh yeah...
Or I can't finish vacuuming so, I know--I'll go start some laundry! Oh yeah...
Our computers aren't working, so let's have a family night and watch a movie! Oh yeah...
We can't cook, so let's go to the drive-in restaurant and get some fries! Oh yeah...they don't have power either...

After we had run out of powerless things to do last night, I told Weston to go in the house and get his Percy Jackson book and we would sit on the swing and read. He yelled out the door, "Mom! The power's on!"

It had been two hours and as usual, we never did find out what caused the outage. Our level of discomfort was virtually non-existent. I thought again about those people still without power because of the hurricane and was sympathetic toward what must be a growing level of  frustration. 

My thoughts are with them today, hoping that soon they will be fully functioning and able to go on with their lives.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Not Fair!

No siree. It's not fair.

Well maybe it is. A little bit. It's the county fair anyway.

Our little armpit, as we lovingly call our town of 3,000, is the county seat, so we get to host the fair. Yahoo!  It's a time for rodeos, county fair queens and princesses, prize livestock on display, 4-H'ers running around frantically, and a mammoth parade. (It's not really huge, it's just called the Mammoth Parade because it's the second largest parade in our county, second only to the one on state holiday, Pioneer Day.)

The kids in our county look forward to the fair every year for one reason only--The Carnival. It's a big deal. Weston spent Friday, from 3:00-10:00 P.M., hanging out with friends at the carnival, watching while they went on ride after ride. He didn't get to participate in the whirling fun that day because bio-dad bought him an all-day pass for Saturday. [You know what's really not fair? When your dad graciously buys you an all day pass for the carnival on Saturday, but all your friends are going on Friday. Totally not fair. Believe me, I know because I heard about it over, and over, and over again.] But never fear, Weston got his share of nauseating fun from noon til 10:00 P.M. on Saturday. Whew. All is once again right with the world.

If it seems like I am mocking the carnival, it's because I am. Even when I was a kid in heaven Iowa, I hated carnivals. For one, I am the Dramamine poster child. I once threw up because I saw someone being spun in a torture chamber on TV.  For two, I sneeze at pictures of cigarettes. Imagine how it is to walk on carnival grounds and have to beat your way through the fog. For three, I once spent over $20 trying to win a stuffed animal before I finally realized, "Hey, this guy is tricking me! He's not ever going to let me win!"  Who me? Naive?  And finally, they always pick the hottest days of the year to have the carnival, so you get to inhale the fine aroma of Eau de Trash: a scintillating combination of sweat, alcohol, smoke and barbecued pig with a hint of vomit.

There was a bright spot to the fair this year. Drum roll....I WON SOME BLUE RIBBONS! BLUE RIBBONS THAT PAY $3 EACH! Oh yeah.

This is a photo of some flowers that daughter Kay sent for my B-Day

My friend's cats

 Soccer team that includes granddaughter Hoolie and my pal Ekanela's daughter, The Divine Miss Ya Ya
[Don't you hate when your blue ribbons cover up half of your work? Grrr...]

Daughter Em won some prizes too!

The Mischievous Chunk

Wanna win a prize? Take a picture of Chunk. He got a blue ribbon last year too.

This one also won a blue ribbon but my photo of her photo with the ribbon didn't do it justice, so you get the original right here. This was taken by Em at a Boy Scout meeting. Someone left a chair sitting there and the contrast was too beautiful to ignore.

Weston also won some prizes. He was so excited, not because he got some ribbons, but because those ribbons involve cold hard cash. He's a miser, that one.

This is his papier mache electric eel that got a second place red ribbon. I purposely left out the shot of the eel's frighteningly sharp toothpick teeth. This is a family site. The red eyes are spooky enough.

This is the emergency survival bracelet that Weston made.

Weston's art work titled, "Three Suns"

This was the first year that I've ever submitted anything to the fair. I was inspired by one of my students who raked in over $20 a couple of years ago. That was before they put a limit of three-only submissions per person. The most you can get now is $9, but hey! That $9 can buy a whole lot of free stuff at the grocery store after coupons!

So, back to my title. 

I was so excited when I went to the exhibition building after the judging to see if I won anything. I was on one side of the room and I heard Weston yell from the other side of the room, "Mom! You got three blue ribbons!"  My heart puffed up with pride as I thought to myself. "Your photography rocks! All three submissions got first place!"  I was even prouder when I saw that daughter Em and son Weston got prizes for all three of their submissions too. After I got over the initial excitement, I started looking around at all the other submissions. And that's when I noticed it.

Everyone who submits something gets either first or second place. 

I was not special. 

I felt like the five-year old at a T-ball tournament where they don't keep score and everyone goes home with a trophy. (My children however are very special because their blue and red ribbons beat everyone else's blue and red ribbons hands down. So there.) 

But hey, nine bucks, right?  That's what I say.

You know what else is not fair? When you're standing in the middle of two rows of prize-winning quilts, admiring the beauty, and a huge gust of wind rips through the building (it's a fair---it's like being in a huge garage with semi-truck sized doors at either end) knocking over the rows of quilts so that I am left standing exposed in the middle so the fair ladies can look over at me. 

And point. 

And say, "There's the woman who knocked over all those heavy handmade heirloom quilts that we painstakingly attached to those rods." While I meekly say, "It was the wind."  Yeah. Not fair.

So last night, Computer Geek and I are making some delicious vegan chocolate chip peanut butter cookies at 10:45 at night (because when you get the craving, you get the craving if you know what I mean) when we hear shots being fired outside. We looked at each other and I swear he was about ready to yell, "Duck and cover!" but decided instead to go look outside. 

It was fireworks, signaling the end of the week-long fair. While the cookies were baking we stepped outside to watch the spectacular show, with a stunning backdrop of cloud-to-cloud lightning. It was hard at times to distinguish between the natural and the man-made.  Daughter Em captured a beautiful shot from her house.

 I'm sure it will be a blue-ribbon winner next year. Mothers just know...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Special Kind of Friendship...

Once upon a time, there were two fat little boys, one with red hair and one with brown. They played together mainly because their mothers played together, or posed them for pictures together.

The fat little red-haired boy was eleven days older, having been born EXACTLY THIRTEEN YEARS AGO TODAY.

As time went on, the little boys lost their baby fat and discovered that they loved playing together, even when their mothers weren't hanging out that day. This surprised their mothers because, you see, these two boys really had opposite personalities. The red-haired boy was quiet, introspective, a little shy, and sensitive. The brown-haired boy was loud, extroverted, always in motion, and sensitive. Okay, so they were both sensitive--as in good-hearted. Over the years, the mothers learned that their opposite personalities complemented each other. The quiet boy helped keep the loud boy grounded, and the loud boy helped the quiet boy gain a sense of adventure. 

As they grew, each developed his own sense of humor. Loud boy (oh, let's call him Weston) developed a slapstick sense of humor, while quiet boy (we'll call him He's Hot, because if a classroom happens to be a little warm, he will insist it's because he has arrived) has a sharp verbal wit.

Though it has been mentioned here before, their mother's hearts are warmed when they see how protective these two chaps are around each other. Once, He's Hot got dropped off at his house, where he promptly face-planted in the gravel. Weston said, "Oh, I wish that would have happened to me instead!"  He didn't like to see his friend get hurt.

Another time, Weston was left waiting outside the school on a frigid day when one of his parents (not this one, ahem) was a little late in picking him up from school. He's Hot begged his mother to give Weston a ride home. "Friends don't let friends stand in the cold, " he said.

Over the years, these two boys have remained friends, even though as they get older their circle of friends naturally widens. When they were youngsters, they would get together and play Legos. Now that they are *gasp* teenagers, they play 

Weston's mother has been grateful to He's Hot for standing by her son. He's been a good influence, and as Weston once said, "No one understands me the way he does."  He's Hot is always welcome in Weston's home where he is loved as a son. He's always a positive and encouraging influence.  

At the Dinosaur Museum--3rd grade

At Weston's house

The omnipresent bunny ears

I'm too sexy for my Cub Scout uniform

At the Sheriff's Department. No, they weren't in trouble.

Can you guess? A school play perhaps?

4th Grade--Pity the fool teacher who tries to keep these two apart

Sand + Boys = Hours and hours of laundry for the mothers fun.

Believe it or not, there was still some left by the time they took it to Scouts

Yeah, so Weston liked pink. Peer pressure has since caused him to cave.

Yay for cookIE dough!  Just kidding--it's Kyuki Do

More boys, more sand, water, more laundry fun.

Would you PUH-LEASE not make us pose in the sun?

And next....Weston's mommy's favorite picture ever:


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

    On any given day, I correspond with roughly fifteen to twenty people on the internet. I get emails from a variety of friends and family, some of whom I have not seen in person for decades. This past summer I chatted instantly with a daughter in Ireland and a sister in Tanzania. I have a soft spot in my heart for the readers of this blog, many of whom I have never met, yet consider as my friends.

    Truly the internet is a magical “place.”  Aside from the invention of the printing press, I would venture to say that the internet has changed the way we communicate more than any other invention. We don’t have to wait weeks after someone gets home from Europe for them to process their slides and invite us over for a travelogue; we can see their photos online that same day. News doesn’t arrive by letter two weeks after the fact anymore; we get it in an email as it’s happening. Don’t want to fork over money to the newspaper boy when he comes collecting? Just hop on the paper’s website instead.

    And yet…I wonder.

    Do we have all these conveniences at a price?

    Yesterday, a friend told us that our next door neighbor had been killed in a horrific workplace accident. A young man got up, went to work, and never came home. One moment he was working on a piece of machinery and in an instant he was dead.

    None of us get up in the morning knowing that this day is the end of the line. We’ve all been admonished over and over to live each day as if it was our last, and yet most days go by in a blur. We focus on trivia and leave the important things undone. We get our news online instead of over the back fence.

   What was my response when our friend told us of our next door neighbor’s death?

    “What was his name?”

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Printing Money Legally

    Okay, so it's not actually printing MONEY, but printing coupons off your computer so that you can reduce your grocery bill is the same to me as someone walking up to me and handing me some cash. In these days of drawn-out unemployment at the Quang household, such an ability is invaluable.

    I'm not an extreme couponer, like some of those who dumpster dive to find inserts from the Sunday paper, or those who go up to their neighbors' porches and take the "unwanted" inserts. I get money coupons from two sources:
1. The coupons that come with my two Sunday papers
2. The internet

Should I Use Coupons?
For those who are unsure whether couponing is worth the time, here are some guidelines. You should only use coupons if:

1. You get a sick thrill at the end of your store transaction when you watch the cashier scan your coupons and see your total bill go down, down, down...

2. You are willing to dedicate at least 2-4 hours a week to finding, clipping, and organizing your money coupons.

3. You are willing to put up with the fact that some cashiers think coupons are indicative of your social caste, e.g. You are using coupons, therefore you must need the money, therefore you must be poor, therefore you are a drain on society, therefore you are an untouchable and please go to someone else's lane.

Can Coupons Really Save Me Money?
This last week was a typical week for me at the grocery store. I think you'll be amazed at my savings, but keep this in mind: I'm on a special diet and can't use a lot of the food coupons, I only have access to a Walmart and two small-town grocery stores, our Walmart doesn't carry approximately 1/3 of the items for which I could use coupons, and finally, our Walmart is higher-priced than many other Walmarts. What does this mean? It means that your savings will probably be a lot more than mine, unless you live in the same armpit that I do. Look at the items in the following pictures:

8 packages of instant mashed potatoes, 2 Kotex liners (sorry guys!) 2 packages of 4 count batteries, and 2 rolls of Scotch tape. 

Retail value:  $3.36 Potatoes
                     $2.48 Liners
                     $1.94 Batteries
                     $2.44 Scotch tape

Total Retail Value: $10.22.    My cost after coupons: $2.22.  You got it. My cost after using coupons was a whopping $2.22.  That is less than the price of the retail value of the Scotch tape alone. Most of what you see in that picture was free.

8th Continent Soymilk

Retail cost soymilk: $2.73
My cost after coupon: $.73

Johnson and Johnson mini-first aid kit

I actually bought 4 of these first aid kits.
Retail value: $3.88 or $.97 each
My cost: $.88 or $.22 each   

Total Retail value of all the items above, purchased at Walmart: $14.83
My cost: $3.83

Although the next scenario is not quite as stunning as the ones above, I still got a great deal at our local grocery store last week. My son loves these granola bars:

Normally, our local store has them for $2.98. Last week they ran a special for $2.25 a box. In addition, the store was running a special for $5.00 off  ten boxes with in-store coupon. I also had accrued 5 coupons valued at $.75 off when you buy two. Since I bought ten, I was able to use all five coupons.( Most stores allow you to stack coupons, that is you can combine manufacturer coupons with in-store coupons.) I ended up with $8.75 in combined coupons, so instead of paying retail of $29.80 for ten boxes (which I NEVER would have done, by the way) I paid $13.75.

How Do I Organize My Coupons?
There are several different methods that active couponers use.
1. The envelope method
2. The shoebox (or other small box) method
3. The binder method

The envelope method involves labeling business sized envelopes by category, e.g. Dairy, Produce, Canned Goods, Personal Items, etc.  Most couponers know the layouts of their stores very well, so before the shopping trip, they put their envelopes in the order of the layout of the store. As they pass each aisle, they put that envelope to the back of the pile. Some couponers put all their coupons in these envelopes, while some only put the coupons for the items they intend to buy that day.

The shoebox method is pretty much the same as the envelope method, but involves using dividers between categories.

The binder method involves buying a 3 ring zippered (important!) binder and using page protectors to hold the coupons. I use this method in combination with the envelope method. I organize and store my coupons in the binder, but when I go to the store, I pull out the coupons I intend to use, in order of the layout of the store. However, I still take my binder into the store with me just in case the store has an unadvertised special for which I know I have a coupon. Here's my binder:

I use 3-pocket protectors. Other couponers use 9-pocket baseball card protectors, but I'm kind of obsessive compulsive and don't like bending my coupons. Wah. I bought these protectors from Coupon Clutch. The binder I had leftover from school last year--$9.99 from Walmart. Junk I tell ya. If you can afford something better, I would advise it.

Where Do I Get Coupons?
1. The newspaper. Daughter Em and I share a Sunday subscription. For $17.00 a month, we get 4 of the same Sunday newspaper. We chose the one that carries ALL the inserts--not all papers do. We each get 2 newspapers and we each pay half the cost. For $8.50 a month I get far more in savings. This is why you will see me buying two of the same item frequently. It is usually cheaper to subscribe than to buy from a stand or convenience store. In addition, if the newspaper company is low on inserts, the subscribers always get priority. Our newspaper has a couponing staff that alerts you via email which stores are having deals that match up with your coupons.

2. Online. There are a variety of ways to get coupons online.
    Manufacturer websites. If I know I am going to the store to buy a particular product, I always go to the manufacturer's website. Many times they have printable coupons, either right on their site, or sent to you in an email. I got the $2 off soymilk coupon mentioned above right from the 8th Generation website.

    Coupon websites. The main coupon websites are:
    Coupons dot com
    Red Plum

   Facebook  Most manufacturers also have a Facebook page. Many times if you "Like" their page, they give you a high value coupon. Also a lot of manufacturers run little mini-contests throughout the day, where the first x-many "likers" get a coupon until the x-amount is gone. I once got a coupon for $5.00 any Bounty paper towel package, so I ended up with a package of 6 rolls of Bounty for $.97.

  Independent bloggers  Many bloggers troll the deals for you throughout the day, so if you subscribe to their blogs or opt to receive their daily emails or "Like" them on Facebook, they do a lot of the work of finding coupons for you. I can't stress how valuable this is. Not only do they find hot coupons for you, but many online clearance sales or Amazon specials as well. Here are a just few of my favorites:

Passion for Savings
Frugal Coupon Living
Super Coupon Lady
The Krazy Coupon Lady
Budget Savvy Diva

IMPORTANT NOTE IF YOU ARE GOING TO PRINT COUPONS FROM THE INTERNET:  You are allowed to print most coupons TWICE. The exception may be that manufacturers let you print only one from either their website or Facebook page. Never, never, never, photocopy your coupon so that you can get more than your allotted two. Why? Because each coupon has its own unique barcode and if you photocopy it, the store does not get reimbursed. Because some hooligans did this in our town, our local store will no longer accept coupons printed from the internet. They blew it for everybody. Photocopying online coupons = stealing.

Play by the rules. If your coupon says "Not for use with trial size," don't try to slip the trial size past your cashier. If it says "6 count package or larger" don't try to use the coupon for the 4 count size. Again, this is stealing.  Don't try to pass off an expired coupon, hoping that your cashier won't notice. You got it--STEALING.

If you've been afraid to use coupons because of the effort involved, or because you're not sure what to do, I hope I have eased your concerns. If you have any questions about couponing, please let me know and I will try to get the answer for you. Or, simply click on the links provided for the independent bloggers because those ladies are geniuses. Have fun saving coupons money!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Coincidence? Or music sprites playing with my mind?

There's no doubt that music is a powerful mood-altering force.

I still remember the opening song from childhood cartoon Ruff and Reddy.

I can't look at a box of Fig Newtons without hearing "Golden flaky tender cakey outside."

If someone tries to explain his side of a situation and begins by saying, "Here's the story.." doesn't your mind finish his sentence with "...of a lovely lady"?

How many times have you played a depressing song over and over because it seemed the artist was the only one who knew what you were going through at the time? ( I think I wore the grooves off my "Don't Speak" by No Doubt  CD as my marriage was ending years ago.)

Or have you been in a hopeless mood then hear a song that causes you to lift your head and smile again? (Yeah, Patti LaBelle and "New Attitude.")

Have you ever hated a song so much that the opening strains make you feel like you're getting attacked by a subcutaneous parasite?  (Once, there was this kid who, got into an accident...)  Daughter Em is laughing her butt off right now.

Have you ever heard a song so majestic that you wanted to pick up a sword and battle injustice? ( Lux Aeterna)

How about a song that makes you so happy that you want to hit the dance floor and leap for joy? (Love Story Meets Viva La Vida)

What about a song that brings you to tears because it reminds you of how fragile and fleeting life is? I get choked up at this song every time I hear it. (100 Years by Five for Fighting  )

Or a song that forever reminds you of a loved one? (Here's for you, daughter Kay)

Computer Geek and I have this strange bonding phenomenon that happens to us every once in a while. We can be in a particular place, or be doing a particular thing, and a song will come on that describes the very activity we were doing. It's become kind of eerie, but I still like when it happens. Don't we all love amazing coincidences?

1. In 2007, CG, Weston, and I were driving through Utah to eventually end up in Iowa. As we passed Robert Redford's ranch and resort, Sundance, "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" started playing. No lie.

2. Later on that same trip, we were driving through the Black Hills of South Dakota and were almost at Mount Rushmore. The song "Rocky Raccoon" by the Beatles came on, which says, "Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota..."

3. Oodaaq Island, off the coast of Greenland, is the northernmost island in the world. It is also the tiniest. CG had never heard of the island, so I was telling him how small it is--as in only one person can stand on it at a time small. Right then, on his random music player that has over 1000 songs on it, Jimi Hendrix came on and sang, "The tiny island sags downstream..."

4. CG's son and daughter, Neo and Gnome, are vacationing in Ireland. A few weeks ago, we were on Facebook, scrolling through Gnome's extensive photo album. We marveled at the beauty of a picture she had taken of some seabirds floating in the sunset. Instantly, Glen Campbell's "Galveston" came on the music player, and we heard, "Before I watch your seabirds flying in the sun..."

Oh. The freakiness of it all.

Do you have any musical coincidences? 
What about songs that alter your mood for better or for worse?

Photo Credit: The Gnome, who was never quite the same after seeing Eat, Pray, Love.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Post Card Project......Part 2

    Back in June, I posted about how much I love to get postcards. I promised to send out a postcard to anyone who wanted one, up to ten people. Part of the deal was, if you wanted a postcard from me, you had to agree to send one out to someone else, thus paying forward the postcard bliss. Was I ever surprised to get some in return!
    Take a look at the nifty postcards I got:

Clockwise from top right
Amish girls in Pennsylvania, from Auntie M.
Connemara, Ireland, from daughter Gnome and son Neo
A beautiful painting by Andre Derain, from Septembermom
Patriotic Philadelphia, from cousin Jill
     I came away from this little project with a renewed gratitude for my family and friends, and with an increased desire to send more postcards!  Every time I travel someplace new, I buy a souvenir magnet. I am committing right now, in front of the whole world (because we know the whole world reads my blog, right?)  to also buy a postcard and send it out. Are you with me? Help keep your favorite postal worker employed!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Free Mini-Photo Album from MyPublisher

Do you have a Facebook account?
Do you love to take pictures?
Do you love saving money?
Even better, do you love things that are totally F*R*E*E?

For a limited time, MyPublisher is giving away a free mini-photo album. All you have to do is "like" them on Facebook, then open a free account. You can upload twenty-one of your own photos and they will send them back to you in mini-album form. I ordered mine earlier this week and it came today! All free, even the shipping!

I choose to upload photos of my son's summer adventures, and will send the booklet to one of his grandparents. It's the perfect size for upcoming stocking stuffers.  You can choose a cover photo and title, but other than that, there is no text option unless you place a caption right on the photo yourself before you upload.

Head on over to MyPublisher on Facebook and "like" them!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Thoughts of a Twitterless Thinker--------August 3, 2011 edition

Any new reader of Foreign Quang, will need to know that I don’t use Twitter. Although I don’t Tweet and send out random messages throughout the day, telling you what I am thinking or doing, I do think, and I do do!  Behold-- random thoughts and deeds, not necessarily limited to 140 characters.
    Do you ever wimp out? I’m not talking about feeling the heebie jeebies when you’re ready to parachute out of an airplane. I’m talking about being a coward when your life is not being threatened in any way. Last week I was at the grocery store and had nine coupons with me. After I left the store, I looked at the receipt and noticed that the cashier only scanned eight of them. Maybe I should have gone back and asked for my additional 75 cents off, but I started thinking. Thinking too much. How can I prove that I had an additional coupon? What if I bring it to their attention and they think, “Couponers are a pain in the backside and we’re not going to do this any more”?  What if I get a rude customer service rep and it ruins my day?  So I wimped out and said nothing. It was only 75 cents.
    Later that day I went to another grocery store that had their store-brand frozen vegetables on sale for 88 cents. Normally they are $1.50 so I thought this was a really good deal. I got two bags of frozen corn, but when I got to the register, they rang up at $1.50 each. Apparently the ad was for only white frozen corn and not yellow corn. Did I tell the cashier I didn’t want them? No. I took my lumps and my $1.50 corn and went home. Why didn’t I tell the cashier I didn’t want them?  I didn’t say anything because what if she thought I was POOR? I definitely need some wimp intervention.
    This is really cool. The other night I was cleaning my kitchen and happened to look at the digital clock on the stove. It said “9:11.”  September 11 is my daughter Kay’s birthday. I continued getting things done and did not look at the clock again until I glanced up and saw that it read “11:17.” November 17 is my daughter Em’s birthday. I was marveling at this coincidence and went into our office and did some things on the computer. I got tired so I got up, went into the kitchen and noticed that it was 12:17, which is my birthday! Cue the Twilight Zone music.
    Adopted granddaughter, Pixie, celebrated her first birthday last week. She’s a tiny little thing and you mothers will appreciate this: She is 12 months and wears size 12 months. Freaky, huh? Has that ever happened before?  Daughter Kay practically wore size 12 months from the womb.

    Grandson Chunk came over to visit us old folks last Wednesday. I even gave up So You Think You Can Dance to play with him. My best friend, logic, told me, “You can always watch SYTYCD on their website later. You can’t play with Chunk online later.” Yup, I’m a thinker.  He found our apple tree and was elated to find he could reach the fruit himself. He picked seven of them and counted them as he put them into a bowl, “Nine, two, nine, two. Seven.”  He’s a smartie, that one. His brother, Avatar is a brainiac too. He fell down and when his dad asked him if he was all right, seven year old Avatar said, “I’m okay. It was a soft impact.” 

    Where’s Robin Leach when you need him? I want a television show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Ignorant. Apparently Kim Kardashian is suing Old Navy because they used a model who looked like her. Oh no! Kim should definitely sue for damages because now wherever she goes, people will be saying, “Look! Isn’t that the Old Navy model?”  Okay, so let’s say she sues Old Navy and wins. The model then goes to work somewhere else. Is Kim going to follow this model around, suing her wherever she goes, prohibiting her from working, because she committed the crime of looking like Kim Kardashian? Kim needs a job.
    Something you may not know about me—I fear cooked vegetables. I think it stems from when I was a toddler and my mom fed me a vegetable that was a beautiful reddish purple. I was young enough to think that pretty = yummy. I bit into a beet. I think that trauma scarred me because I have a hard time controlling the hurl reflex when I bite into a cooked veggie. Except corn. Or baked beans. But I love, love, love some fresh, raw veggies. Aren’t these beautiful? 

    Woot, woot moment: I’ve lost 23 pounds since the last part of April.
    I’m gonna go cry now moment: Weston said today, “Why do you have so much white hair on the side of your head? Didn’t you used to pull those out?”  Weston learned that he can run faster than his mama.
   Happy Birthday, Mom. You gave me the greatest gift—knowing that I was loved.

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