Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mommy is off duty.

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you've been dragged through the parental mill, then branded with a branding iron the sarcastic "Mother of the Year?" Oh, today would rank as one of those days.

It didn't start out that way. K- had the Lowe's Build and Grow Clinic, where she built a car and did a rockin' job. After, we had a little time to kill so we cruised by the in-grocery bank and picked some cookies up to share with our friends after swimming lessons. Swimming lessons went well. Well, except for my daughter's x-ray vision that can see me plunking a mint into my mouth from 30 feet away. In true only-child fashion, she was afraid that she was missing something and kept coming back wanting one.

After swimming lessons, we cruised by Marshall's. I got her Teva sandals there last year at about this time and was hoping to score more. While Marshall's was packed with folks stimulating the economy, we left empty handed. I decided to cruise past the craft store to look for some beads for little girl bracelets that I sell at the gallery. I decided to skip the turn lanes and go straight ahead. That gave me a big fat circle to drive in and by the time I reached our destination, K- was asleep. Fast asleep. I picked her almost 50 pound self out of the car seat and carried her to the store. I put her down on the sidewalk to walk and she announced that her legs were broken and that she couldn't possibly walk. After a few moments of encouraging words, I decided to tell her that I was leaving her and going in. Of course, I stood in the foyer to watch. She came up and once she reached the foyer of the store, she plunked down and wouldn't get up. She did collapsified legs and flopped like a rag doll when I tried to get her up. She cried. She screamed. People looked. Oh, it was grand. So, I abandoned my mission and decided to pick her up and carry her back to the car. I got her half way there, put her down to walk and she did the tug-and-pull all the way. I had to force her into her car seat.

When we got home, I announced that she needed a time out. She jumped, screamed, ran and did all the things that you see on Super Nanny. I re-directed her. I ignored her and she finally completed her time out.

She was disrespectful once again. She earned herself another time out. This one was the battle of the wills. She fought me on that time out for over an hour. I finally went downstairs and worked on some laundry. It was quiet when I returned upstairs. She was sitting in her time out spot. She didn't get up until I told her to.

I'm worn.

K- is a good kid. I know that she is, but I tell her that I love her, but not her behavior. Today when she told me that I was a bad mommy, it stabbed me in the heart. It's the first time that she has ever told me that.

I realize that she is in a growth spurt. Whenever she is in the throes of one, she is very hungry, very tired and very mouthy. I love that she grows but I hate emotional effects of it.

Hubs got home, told me that she gets upset, I get upset and that she feeds on that. While I know that can be true, I also know that I don't need to hear it when my day has been so bad.

Both K- and I suffer from being very stubborn. Stubbornness is an admirable trait when it comes to persistence in a positive way. Stubborn by way of flat out bullheadedness is not such a wonderful trait to have.

We suffer from both sides of stubborn.

So I sit here this evening feeling like a complete wet rag. Hubs is on duty and doing things that are "only boring" with K-. She has no TV this week. She's not permitted to play video games with Daddy tonight, which irked Daddy since that is what he wanted to do. Too bad. They did get her play area in the basement tidied back up. Right now, she is practicing her numbers. Then, they'll be working on her "Little T Book" for school.

She's in there giggling with daddy. It's good to hear. At least she didn't wear out both parents today.

Edited to add: When we readied her for bed this evening, I crawled in with her to talk about the day. She took my face into her little kid hands, stroked my cheeks and told me that she was sorry. I told her that I was sorry, too. She said yucky things and I wasn't happy with her, either. I think that today's chapter has ended. Onward to tomorrow . . .

Happy Fake Birthday, Dad!

K- and Grandpa Big House were hunting for River Clams with their feet. (Yes, we did put them back. We know it is illegal to keep them.)

My dad is a leap baby. He has no real birthday this year, but his fake birthday lands on a weekend, which makes him very happy. My dad has endured many years of ribbing by his kids that we are technically much older than him and why should we listen to him?

Happy Birthday, Grandpa Big House! We hope that you have a great day!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Me, according to K-.

I stole this one from JMom at Lots of Scotts. (She did one with her husband here.)

1. What is something Mom always says to you? "K-, time for bed!"
- Daddy? "K-, stop pestering me." (When he is working out with heavy weights and doesn't want to drop one on her head.)
2. What makes Mom happy? "When you listen."
- Daddy? "Tickling him and doing the boney nose."
3. What makes Mom sad? "No! No! No!" (In that, K- is having a bit of a shouting No! thing this week. Don't worry. She has spent much time in time-out and has lost privileges.)
- Daddy? "When I don't listen."
4. How does your Mom make you laugh? "Tickle me!"
- Daddy? "Tickles me and takes me to different places."
5. What was your Mom like as a child? "A tiny baby."
- Daddy? "A baby."
6. How old is your Mom? (35) "105"
- Daddy? (37) 108
7. How tall is your Mom? "That tall." (Arms held high.) "A quarter to ten feet tall."
- Daddy? "This tall. That much. 108 degrees."
8. What is her favorite thing to do? "Play with me."
- Daddy? "Go to the zoo and tickle me."
9. What does your Mom do when you're not around? "Play and go places."
- Daddy? "He goes to his mom's house."
10. If your Mom becomes famous, what will it be for? "Cooking."
- Daddy? "Cooking macaroni and cheese."
11. What is your Mom really good at? "Doing laundry."
- Daddy? "Making soup."
12. What is your Mom not very good at? "Nothing." (No, I didn't prompt that.)
- Daddy? "He's good at everything."
13. What does your Mom do for a job? "Work. And eat lunch."
- Daddy? "He pays money and gets us stuff."
14. What is your Mom's favorite food? "Pears, pineapples, salad, spaghetti, noodles."
- Daddy? "Potatoes and patties (Boca Burgers.)"
15. What makes you proud of your Mom? "You keep my clothes good and do dishes."
- Daddy? "Making macaroni and cheese."
16. If your Mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? "Sponge Bob."
- Daddy? "Squidward."
17. What do you and your Mom do together? "Play and watch T.V. and eat popcorn and we fold clothes."
- Daddy? "Watch the Clone Wars movie."
18. How are you and your Mom the same? "We love chocolate!"
- Daddy? "We play games."
19. How are you and your Mom different? "You are grown and I'm not."
- Daddy? "He's taller than me."
20. How do you know your Mom loves you? "You hug me and kiss me and snuggle up with me."
- Daddy? "Because he gives me a kiss and a hug everyday."
21. What does your Mom like most about your dad? "You kiss him and hug him. You love each other."
- Daddy? "Bakes him a cake."
22. Where is your Mom's favorite place to go? "To the zoo and the museum."
- Daddy? "To the zoo and the museum."

K-'s parting thoughts:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Night Bonus!

I should be cutting burp cloths, re-useable nursing pads, changing pads and so forth out for the baby shower gift for my sister, but I'm online and I stumbled upon something.

The rebate page at Mommy Saves Big is back!


Tagged: Bag Tag

What 'cha carrying? Jamie, a professed bag addict, wondered. I admit, I'm horrible about this female priority. I sell beautiful bags at work that I touch and tell how pretty they are. (Maruca, if you are wondering.) I tell the ladies who shop that if I were a better woman, I would treat myself to one but I never change my bag, with the exception of going to a wedding. I do carry a bag, though.

This is a hand-me-down, saved-from-garage-sale-dom Coach bag. When K- was 18 months old and we were looking at the possibility of her brother coming to live with us, my mother-in-law was out of town in Chicago helping my sister-in-law with her garage sale. She helped herself to some gender neutral baby items that my sister-in-law was getting rid of, but then she found this:
She said that she knew that it would be perfect for me. The price? $2.00. My mother-in-law paid nothing, of course. My sister-in-law was getting rid of all of her Coach bags for $2.00 each. I have no idea why. She tends to update things on a regular basis, doesn't hold onto things that she doesn't use, so I believe that is why this came to live with me.
Here is the gunk that hangs off my bag. I have an ever-so-attractive purple caribiner clip holding my car keys, miscellaneous keys and Chico bag onto my purse. I know where my keys are, always have my shopping bag on hand and drive people crazy as I ting-ting-ting down the aisles. K- and I also have squeaky shoe contests in the store, so between the two, shoppers probably hate us.
You wanna see inside? Well, I didn't clean it out so that you know exactly what I see. I have a two layer system. This is layer one.
This is layer two. Only the basics. Nothing fancy. Klassy, don't you think?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday: Top Load Washer Maintenance

We had to replace our washer in December. We were having some issues with it-- nasty loud noises coming from the interior and the interior of the lid was rusting. Hubs repainted the lid a few times, but still I found some rust spots on clothing after they were washed and dried. While there was nothing that could have been done about the bearing that went out, I learned that there were some ways to avoid the rusting lid issue. Here's what Mom taught me and a couple of other maintenance tips to keep your washer smiling.

1. Leave the lid open after you are done using the machine. It needs to breathe, people! (And dry out.)
2. Wipe away any soap residue from the underside of the lid. We found that it collects in the lid, continues to get moist and just sits as a big ole moist globbin' mess until it eats away the finish and rusts the lid.
3. Wipe around the top of the drum. Make sure that there is no gunk stuck up there. Your washer will be happier.
4. After wrestling laundry into the washer that has fallen victim to someone with the stomach virus, run an empty, hot bleach load after. Those germie ermies can re-deposit on other laundry. (That's what I've read and it makes sense to me, though I understand where it doesn't make sense in relation to the use of soap.) I've always run an empty bleach load every few months just to keep the washer happy and de-gunked.

That's the stuff that works for me. I've got some laundering tips at previous WFMW post right here. I try to help keep the internet smelling fresh and clean, one post at a time. :)

Have a great week!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Economic Downturn at the American Craft Gallery

I've told y'all before that I work at an art gallery. More specifically, I work at an American craft gallery. What does that mean? We sell beautifully handcrafted work made in small studios/business' throughout the nation. That said, here are things during this economic crisis that make me want to scream:

1. "Well, that's an awful lot of money."-- Ma'am, the bag you asked that I show you and let you know the price of is the size that Mary Poppins carried. It is a carpet bag just like what she had. When you purchase a fine crafted bag such as Mary's that could fit a mirror, a hat stand and a plant to outfit a nanny's room in, it's going to be pricey. We are not a big box discounter. I agree that the prices are higher, but please refrain from being snotty to me about it. I just sell the work. Oh, and we don't set the prices. The artists do.

2. "Can you just give me the artists information?"-- Um, no. I know that you want to go home, look the artist up and try to purchase direct. Here's something for you to know. Many artists are reclusive and have the galleries representing their work so that they have the time to make the work that they sell. Even if they aren't reclusive, dealing with the buying public and their insane special requests sometimes drive artists absolutely batty. Artists won't sell direct to the buying public when they are called. They will refer you back to us. You are stuck with me, sister. Sorry.

3. "How much will you sell this for?"-- I'm sorry, what does the price tag say? Oh, it says $--? Yes, that would be it. We do not haggle. We do not barter. We are not a flea market, an antique store or a yard sale. Do you go into Target and ask them if they will take less?

4. "I have 8 of these [already on Christmas discount sale] angels to buy, what price will you give me for them?"-- I'm sorry, the markdown on our Christmas items are standard. I would be happy to sell the number to you that you need, but at 1/2 off, we aren't making anything on them anyhow. And no, I'm sorry that we don't gift wrap sale items. Shocking, I realize, but true. Please know that you are saving lots of money and have found yourself some beautiful things! We are thrilled that you are buying many of one item, but we do not offer a volume discount.

5. "So, how is the Depression here?"-- [Specifically speaking of the recession.] Please don't think that I'm actually going to be honest with you and tell you the percentage that our sales have been down each month. Please don't think that I'm going to tell you that the economy has been taking a downturn for quite sometime and the fact that I haven't had a raise in 2 1/2 years is proof of that. Please don't expect for me to tell you that some staff hours have been cut. We are full well in realization that the current state of the economy dictates that people need to purchase food and pay standard bills over purchasing art. Those that work there are in that same state ourselves. We wouldn't expect and don't want people to go without the basics of life. Just please stop talking to us about the crapped out economy. We hear it every day and I don't mean to be heartless, but it is getting really old. We are concerned about it, losing sleep about it and wonder if we are going to get the axe, too.

6. Price tag announcements.-- Please don't do that. Meaning, walking through with your group of friends loudly announcing the price to everyone and making some snide remark. Again, it isn't Walmart. We are thrilled to have you there. We are thrilled to have the company. We are thrilled to take things out for you to look at and just try on. Really, we don't mind. We want you to have a good time. However, we don't need a price critique. Feel free to critique all you want when you leave, please. It makes us bummed and we then need to take part in chocolate therapy.

Internet friends, please don't think that I'm in a constant state of the crabby appleskins. We're all sweating this economy thing out together. We all need to pull together and share the love. We all need to support each other, even if it is just kind words (and you have no money to buy at our gallery.) We just all want the love. The cold is making us cranky. The gray skies are making us cranky. The news and all the funky stuff going on is making us all cranky. Being stuck inside is making us cranky.

Let's have love. Let's end this crankiness thing together, eh?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good Morning, Friends!

I think that we're all suffering from spring fever. I thought that I would start our week out with a photo from my butterfly garden that I took this past summer. If I remember right, I think that these are Painted Ladies.

Have a great week!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We flew through the air with the greatest of ease.

K- and I were toodling through the church parking lot. We were hand-in-hand. We were talking about what she learned in Sunday School and church. Then K- began to slide a bit. The clipper came through last night, laid down some freezing rain, then some snow. The parking lot was a sheet of ice. I had a pretty good grasp of her hand anyhow and tried to correct her falling by raising her arm. That only threw me off balance (since I was only wearing my snow-sensible Birkenstocks) and I went down. Hubs was a few paces behind us. All he could do was laugh. We both landed on our behinds in the church parking lot with the cars driving around us. I sat there for a few minutes, trying to get K- up and turned around. By the time I got up, I turned around and saw a group of people looking at me. All I could yell was, "It's just a little slick out here!"

Before we went to Sam's, we stopped by home. I needed to change my pants. They were soaked all the way through and I was freezing.

I sit here tonight stiffening with each word that I type. My lower back is a little swollen and I'm aching from the bounce. I've taken a few Advil and would love to sleep under a rockin' hot electric blanket, but that will only cause me to jitter and be dizzy in the AM. (This I found as a side effect to taking the Lipitor.) Know that I'm sure that tomorrow will bring even more aches and stiffness. It could have been far worse.

Here's a public service announcement-- Birkenstocks are not all weather footwear. Well, unless they are designed for that and mine were not. Come to think about it, funny thing is that I slipped and fell on the back steps a couple of months ago on the ice in the same darned shoes!

These would be the shoes, only in gray. Way comfy. Not snow friendly. Ugh.

We need to be more mindful of our spending.

Hubs' cousin, Janeen, wrote a post on this very subject. I know that there are corners that I can cut. What have we been doing to save money? Let me share.

1. We have a programmable thermostat. We have it kick back to 65 F overnight (10 PM - 6 AM), up to 68 F between the hours of 6 AM - 8 AM, kicks back down to 62 F from 8 AM - 5 PM, then back up to 68 F between 5 PM - 10 PM. I am able to override if we are at home, but this saves much money. We have blankets that keep us toasty at night and there is no use in keeping the house fully heated for the critters. Keep in mind that for every 1 degree that you turn your thermostat down, you save 3 percent on your heating bill.
2. We purchase only reasonable items in bulk. What do I mean by that? We don't go hog wild in Sam's. We also share the membership with my in-law's. Items that we purchase are:
Gatorade by the flat*
Garbage bags
Boca Burgers*
Water by the flat*
Surf Laundry detergent
45 roll box of toilet paper
Clorox 2
Nutri-Grain bars
Occasionally cereal
Pam spray
Go-gurt (for "yogurt popsicles")
Goldfish Crackers
Multi cracker packs for K-'s snacktime at school
Cocoa roasted almonds
We find that we can reasonably use these items. The *'d items are for Hubs. Both K- and I drink the water from the tap, so I don't need all those little bottles. I've tried to break Hubs of the bottled water habit and he won't budge. I buy my spices in bulk in Amish Country.
3. Line drying our clothes. I allow myself one dryer load per week, and that would be for towels. For the first time, I tried to line dry the sheets downstairs. We have one set of flannel sheets for our bed, and those are the ones that I washed. It worked out fine. Clothes have been dry within 12 hours of hanging, so it was faster to line dry than I thought.
4. Coupon clipping. Now, I'm not as good as Jamie, but I'm getting much better. The couponing habit had fallen by the wayside, but I'm glad that I'm back on the wagon again. I have to make sure that I buy what we use, is reasonable and we like as opposed to falling into the trap of "I bought it because I could get it cheap."
5. Multiple trips while driving out. When gas hit above $4.00 a gallon last year, I started making the habit of making the most of my trips. Often, K- and I will remain home for the day rather than running around. If we do go out, 98% of the time it involves several trips that I've been piling up over the days.
6. Curbed the fly through fast food. Even a couple of bucks here and there add up. We were more value menu kind of people, but it does all add up. I keep a stash of crackers in the console for K- when she does get the munchies when we are out.
7. I dumped pop. I love soda/pop, whatever you call it. I noticed the prices just flying on it. Even though I only drank a can a day, I dumped my habit. If pop is on sale by the two liter, I'll buy one and enjoy it. I did buy a few 20 oz bottles last week. It wasn't money saving. It was sanity saving. Not a good excuse, though.
8. I pay my bills online. I know that I should support the US Postal Service, yes? Well, it is much easier to pay online, as I can schedule or have automatic payments pop out of the accounts. Add to it the envelopes, checks, time . . . It is a savings all the way around.
9. I am religious about having scheduled maintenance done on my car. It is due for an oil change every 5000 miles. It is done within 100 miles of the turnover. I have my tires rotated regularly (besides blowing them out by hitting curbs, running over screws and the latest of smacking a pothole.) To do scheduled maintenance is to save money in the long run. I do have the oil changed at the dealership, but Hubs has priced it and it is only slightly higher than it would cost him to do it. We have the 72,000 mile extended warranty, so they'll be able to see that we have not only taken care of it, but they will be able to address issues if/when they come up.
10. I've given my husband a monthly allowance for his CD purchasing habit. Now, I admit that the man is willing to shop at the used CD store (The Exchange) and wait until the CD that he wants hits the used rack. Still, there have been months that he has spent well over $100.00 on CDs priced between $1.00 - $8.00. He has an allowance of $20.00. And yes, I bust him if he goes over. I'm an artist and he is a park naturalist. We're not rolling in money, which is fine. We just need to manage that dough that we do have. To his credit, he has found creative ways of financing his habit. He will trade CDs and movies in that he doesn't use/doesn't like. He'll get a trade slip and use that, too.
11. We've switched to CFL's in the fixtures that they fit in. We did this in the fall. Since it was the same time that energy consumption tends to go up, I haven't seen a real drop in cost but probably will here soon.
12. I've changed our accounts over to be paperless and with transaction rewards. Our bank, Charter One, has Green$ense that pays 10 cents per transaction on your debit card or having payments automatically withdrawn from your account. So far, I've earned a little over $13.00 in just three months.
13. I pay my bills that compound interest earlier than their due date. Why? I pay my house payment and the truck payment a few weeks ahead and that saves on interest, thus paying more towards my account than what I would if I paid it directly on the due date. My friend discovered that she pays $10.00 more on principle by paying her amount due 2 weeks ahead. I've discovered hidden savings, too.

What can I do to save more money?
1. Plan meals by the week again. Plan my meals according to what is on sale. Plan meals that stretch more. Utilize the crock pot more.
2. Stay away from the clearance racks. Again, a buck here and a buck there do add up. Hubs calls me a giftaholic. I stay within the $5.00 and under budget! :)
3. Remind Hubs of his allowance.
4. Use more coupons. Watch for more ads. Take more advantage of price matching. Purchase only what is reasonable to use and not just what I have coupons for.
5. Locate another site that advertises available rebates. I used to go to Mommy Saves Big, but she doesn't have the rebate section of her site any longer. Just this fall, on one trip alone, I saved $60.00 rebating and it was on stuff that I actually use! I was able to get Arm and Hammer Detergent (lasted me over a month), Turtle wax (I need to wax the RAV), Hunt's ketchup, Back to Nature cookies, Lysol cleaners and Pepcid for free. I love the rebates from Walgreen's, but haven't found that they've had items lately that I would use. Typically, I do rebate through them, as well.

What are your money saving ideas? I'm sure that there are more corners that I can cut and I certainly welcome any suggestions!