Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When was the last time you had a Root Beer Float?

It had been a while for me, too.... until this afternoon.

And, man - was it good! Just like I remembered....
Just ask Haydie.

Mmmmmm.... nothing like a frosty ice cream treat in your backyard while you are wearing nothing but your finest SpongeBob chonies.

Piper wanted a taste, too.

But Hoot wasn't sharing. Not even one little smidge.
Poor Piper.

An Adventure in "Extreme" Couponing for beginners

I consider myself pretty thrifty.

I always buy things on sale, we don’t eat out very often, I am willing to buy larger things used, and I try hard stay within my grocery budget of around $400/month (including diapers and dog food, which it seems like we are forever out of).  I don’t do too bad, but there is always room for improvement.

I got to thinking that it would be so nice to still spend the $200/every two weeks, but to get MORE.  I had been watching that show on TLC (I am sure you have seen it) called Extreme Couponing, where people go to the store and get $7,000 worth of crap for like $.12 or something like that.  Admittedly, I find the show to be fake and ridiculous, and often teetering on the edge of coupon fraud – not to mention the fact that who needs (or wants?!) ten thousand bottles of mustard under their bed?  Not me.

Nevertheless, I was intrigued.  I clip a coupon here and there, but it never really adds up to much at all (a couple of bucks maybe) but I decided that this time, I was going to put in an honest effort to make my money work for me.  Or at least see if it could be done on a smaller degree without the TV crew and the mustard.

I started by doing some homework – you gotta learn the ropes before you can begin anything, right?  I found to be very helpful, especially if you click on the “Beginners” tab up at the top, and also if you read about individual store you have in your area to use. 

I began by collecting coupons for things I might like to buy, via the internet and newspapers, and I put together a binder to organize them.   I had found in the past that wrangling my cart, my list, calculator, usually my kid,  and a handful off disorganized coupons was totally annoying, so I printed out The Krazy Coupon Lady’s binder fixings (available for download on "Day 5" of the above mentioned Beginners tab) and spent an afternoon nap time putting it together. 

Then I ventured off to the store.

Well, STORES.  After reviewing my coupons and the weekly shopping ads, it was decided that we could get more bang for our buck if I went to Walgreens, CVS, and Wal-Mart.  So when Garrett got home from work at around 6pm, I left him and Hoot Owl to fend for themselves and headed out into the world. 

I imagine I was getting some looks as I toted my huge pink binder into the store, consulted my detailed lists, and shuffled through my coupons and weekly ads.  I didn’t really care.  I just told myself that I was saving money, and these people were paying full price for everything in their cart so they could look all they wanted.

Three stores and three hours later, this is how I fared:

Total: $25.05
Paid: $12.65
SAVINGS: $12.40

Total: $36.15
Paid: $17.39
SAVINGS: $18.91

Total: $201.77
Paid: $175.64
SAVINGS: $26.13

Total: $262.98
Paid: $205.62
SAVINGS: $57.44

Okay, so I was $5 over my $200 goal, but still not too bad for a trial run – the savings are pretty good….  And this included that double cheese burger from Sonic in between CVS and Wal-Mart, too – I forgot to add that in there.  LOL  If you have seen the show, you will know that as they ring up their orders, the people actually break out in a sweat, waiting with breathless anticipation to see if they came in under budget or if they are an embarrassment to mustard hoarders everywhere….  I admit that I felt a bit of this at check-out time, wondering if my coupons were actually enough and if my math was correct – and that I was totally “that person” holding  up the growing line of shoppers behind me.  I just held my head high, smiled and forked over my inch and a half think stack of coupons. 

So I guess it’s not that “extreme” in the couponing  world – after all, the store did not give me any money back, my out-of-pocket- bill was still more than I saved, and I didn’t buy a single bottle of mustard – but I saved almost $60 and I got a truck ton of groceries we actually need and will use.  And factor in that I am EXTREMELY pregnant, it took EXTREMELY long (though not any longer than my usual shopping trip), my hips and belly were EXTREMELY sore, and I am EXTREMELY proud of myself and  it must count for something.  J

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Carly is around six weeks away from making her entrance into this family, and I am ready.  I will be 34 weeks tomorrow - hardly seems possible... 
But alas, I am fat and  uncomfortable, and mostly I am just ready to meet this new girl I have been waiting so patiently for.  In a lot of ways this has gone by so fast (much faster than with Hootie it seems) but I can't wait to get to know this tiny person who I have growing in my big, round, heavy belly.

I have been hard at work on her room, and here are some pictures to prove it.

All of her toys are waiting for her.

In the meantime, her sister is making good use of them while we wait.  (I am a little concerned because she keeps calling this a potty. I hope she doesn't act on that one.LOL) 

 And I just spent the last two days painting this mural over the bookshelf, and I feel like it turned out pretty cute, if I do say so myself! :)

Just a few things left - Garrett is repainting a dresser, we need to go buy some bedding, a few little touches.  Other than that here we wait.

Hayden wants to know, "When are you coming, Carly Kate?"  :)

In the Garden at Gramma and Grampa's house

 Everything is growing so fast these days... :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Visitor

Last week, as our temps reached into the 90s, this house was without air-conditioning.  Her I am, eight months pregnant and miserable, and our A/C explodes – literally explodes.  We were told that we are lucky that it didn’t catch our house on fire and the no more damage was caused.
While I am indeed thankful that nothing worse happened, but 5 days in the middle of July with this huge belly and hormones raging was pretty freaking bad.  We opened all of the doors and windows and turned on ceiling fans, and we sweated it out.  It was like the sweltering pits of Hell in here – and I had to side-eye my husband (who has an unnatural love of hot weather that makes me sick) as he tried to tell me that it wasn’t all that bad.
Honey, I love you, but YES – it WAS all that bad.  And then some.
Luckily, on the 6th day, the A/C guys came and saved my life.  I closed the windows, closed the doors and set the air in “Frigid” and basked in the delicious cold air that I had been missing. 
That afternoon, Garrett came home a little early, Hayden and I were playing inside, the dogs are in the backyard.  I was feeling sorry for them, and decided that they needed to come in and back in the glow of my new bigger, colder, better than ever central air conditioning unit.
I opened the back door and I said, “Sawyer Brown! P-Weenie! Come inside where it’s cool!” There were laying under the tree in the shady grass, and they both lifted their heads, but neither moved.
I called again, “PIPER! SAWYER!”  Still not coming.
My patience is non-existent these days, and this annoyed me.  I was irritated that I had to step off the back step, out of my refrigerated home, and waddle into the heat of the afternoon to coax the dogs in the house because they weren’t in the mood to just do what I say?  Ugh.  Not impressed with that AT ALL.
I walked toward them and they both stood, but wouldn’t go towards the door.  I shouted something about their rear-ends getting in the house, of course using a word that I am pretty sure I will hear my daughter repeat sometime soon to refer to said part of their dog bodies, and I used my hands to scoot them toward the house. 
I found it odd that they both acted like my generosity of letting them enjoy the cool air was so ill-received, and I had to physically push them through the door and into the house.  As the tail end of the pug skittered over the threshold of the door, I heard a strange sound…
Sounded like a faucet was on maybe?
I check where the dogs’ water dish is filled and nothing seemed to be on – then I saw it out of the corner of my eye. 
A little flicker.  The tiniest little movement coming  from under Hayden’s wagon.  It was The Visitor.
Pssssssst.  Psssssst.  Pssssssst.
I screamed and immediately began crying, “Garrett, there is something in the backyard!! It is just so gross and scary and it is back there and I hate it and…. (cry cry, sob sob, carry on like an incoherent blubbering weirdo blah blah blah)”
(I know that this “something in the backyard makes Allison cry” scenario has happened before – read about that here – I apparently have backyard issues. LOL)
Garrett rushed in from the garage, thinking that some emergency has taken place, yelling, “What happened?!”
At this point Hayden and I and both dogs are locked safely in the house, looking out the window at The Visitor.
“IT’S…. A… SNAKE!”  I cried.
That is right, The Visitor was of the long, slithering, reptilian type – and he was totally uninvited.  He was all nestled up in the shade under Hayden’s wagon, hissing his little head off.
No wonder the dogs didn’t want to walk past there.

I was in hysterics, and (once again) I have no real idea why.  It was just a little Gopher snake, not poisonous, totally harmless, and mostly minding his own business.  Through my inexplicable tears I watched him through the back door, trying to decide what we should do about him.   
Every time The Visitor so much as wriggled, I felt my gag reflex at work.  When not pregnant, I do not gag every time I see something squirmy, but for one reason or another, I gag at the sight of a snake or frog or mouse or bug moving when I am in the process of  growing people.  There was an incident involving a hopping frog in a Tupperware when I was pregnant with Hoot *gag*; I saw a woman kissing a hairless rat in TV the other day *gag*; a June bug on the front step*gag*.  I don’t know what it is, but I have a creepy-crawly aversion when pregnant.  I recognize that it is silly, so it makes me giggle.  Then, there I am, standing there, gagging and giggling my head off.  It is quite a sight.
As we were trying to decide what to do with The Visitor, and I am doing a strange gag-giggle-cry routine, Hoot is watching out the window, saying, “Nake! Nake!” and moving her tongue in and out of her little lips. 
Garrett says, “I guess I will kill it.”  I gag some more.
After some reasoning and a phone call to my Dad, it is decided that Garrett will catch the snake, Swamp People-style, put it in a container and we will let it free out in the desert near my parents’ house to live out his days not as a visitor to our backyard, which I prefer snake free.
I ran to get my camera.  Swamp Daddy started to get a little mad that I wanted to document the whole thing.  I did it anyway.
So here is my husband, the Swamp Person (Do you watch that show?  It is just good TV.  If you are not watching it, you should be. For reals.) catching The Visitor with a rake.  All the while, he was mad at me for laughing at him and gagging and snapping pictures, yelling at me to knockoff all three.
Here is Hootie, locked in the house, but watching every move, no doubt laughing at her Swamp Daddy and her giggling gagging mess of a Mama.

And here is The Visitor.  *gag gag*
Just the picture gives me the Willies – and I don’t mean Willie from Swamp People.  Isn’t he a handsome devil?
Incidentally, there was an episode of Swamp People where Willie was out catching snakes, but his were venomous and he caught them with his bare hands…. *gag* and as the night wore on, and they bit him time and time again*gag* he began to feel woozy and had to go home and rest so he could catch some more the next night…  *gag barf gag*
My husband is much better looking, right?  Here he is on the way to the release site.  He looks very proud, doesn’t he?   He is allowing  me to take his picture now because he is feeling like a hero.
And when we got to my parents’ house, Willie -  er, I mean Garrett went to unload The Visitor from his tub, releasing him in his new home.

And, when he opened it, expecting a snake to be there,

What the hell?  The Visitor had escaped.
The Visitor – 1, Swamp Daddy and Gag N Giggle – 0.

What is to be learned by this?  Well, not much....   but in retrospect, I am thankful for a couple of things:
#1. While not the best at snake wrangling, my husband is better looking than Swamp Person Willie.  And a lot less patient about having his picture taken.
#2.  That the A/C got fixed and I closed all of the doors before The Visitor invited himself inside of the house.

AND.....  (prepare for the funniest part of the whole story)
I lied when I said nothing is to be learned from this, but the lesson is not for me.  It is for Swamp Daddy Garrett, who was so mad and rude about me taking pictures to share with the Blogosphere.  If only he had been more patient, more kind, let me capture this memory between gags and laughter, and not rushed me in our yard, one of us might have noticed this:
I almost died laughing (and gagging) when I saw this picture this morning, when Garrett pointed out that it reveals the fate of The Visitor.  Look very very close riiiiiiiight here, I will  zoom in on the above picture for you:

That is right, your eyes do not deceive you - some Swamp People we are - The Visitor escaped in our front yard, before we even started the truck, and we drove across town with an empty bin in the bed.  :-/
So a week later, we now know the truth. And just the picture makes me gag. The Visitor escaped from his tub while still parked in our yard, while my husband yelled at me to get in the truck and I snuck in a few more pictures.  I can't believe I didn't see the little stinker.
We are not going to be called to join Willie and the cast of Swamp People any time soon because we suck at snake wrangling, that is the one thing I know for sure! LOL  (And yes, I toally made fun of my husband on my blog.  It was just so easy. Love you, Swamp Daddy.)