Wednesday, May 27, 2009

They Do Grow Up

My 16 year old grandson, Nate, has lived with us for the past 4 1/2 years. When he came to live here he was a little brat and we've had the privilege of watching him grow into a fine young man. Last Saturday he went on a first date. A friend (not a girlfriend) from a high school in a neighboring town invited him to her Junior prom. As Nate is home schooled this was a good opportunity for him to attend one. He'd also been pestering me to get him a suit for church but I wanted to wait as long as possible since he's still growing, so I'm sure this was a good reason to talk me into one.

DH and I gave him instructions on proper dating etiquette. You know, things like "When you pick her up get out of the car and go to the door", "Shake her father's hand and ask 'What time would you like your daughter home, sir'", "Make sure you open the door for her", "When you drop her off walk her to her door". Things like that. I told him that proms are for the girl and it's up to the boy, as her escort, to make sure she has a wonderful and memorable evening. We actually had some jokes about what the date from h... would be like. Sitting in the driveway honking the horn, parking where there's a puddle on the passenger's side, getting out of the car and walking into the prom without escorting her, asking her "Are you thirsty? Want some punch?" and when she says yes, saying "Good. Get me some while your at it", dancing with all the other girls, saying "Whoa. Look at how hot SHE is. Wish SHE'D asked me to the prom!", when you take her home just slow down enough so she can jump out of the car. Yup, that would be the date from there alright!

When prom night came he showered, shaved, dressed, asked me at the last minute, while I was pressing his shirt, to trim his hair. I'd been after him for weeks to get a haircut and now he wants me to do this just an hour before he's supposed to leave? NO WAY! So scruffy hair and all, he went to pick up his date, then drove back here for pictures. He looked so handsome and grown up it brought tears to my eyes. When he opened the car door for her he looked natural, like he's been doing this for years. I understand she told him she thought she had the best date there. Makes us proud! Yup, they do grow up.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Confessions of a Police Car Passenger.....

Thanks for all your comments on yesterday's post. It was fun to see what I'd get accused of IF you saw me in a police car.

Actually, I did get a free ride in a police car once. Here's the story, and I swear it's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as well as my memory serves me.

Jim and I had gone to New York to see a Broadway show. When we go to New York we usually drive to someplace in southern CT, park the car and take the train in to Grand Central Station, then walk from there to Broadway. This saves having to drive in New York City.

On one particular occasion we did as usual but on the way back we got off one stop too soon. (OK, here's another confession, Jim insisted it was the wrong stop and I insisted it was the right one. Gentleman that he is, he didn't say "I told you so". He was much better than I would have been about the whole thing.) It was well after midnight, very chilly evening indeed, and there was no one around. The train station was absolutely deserted. New York may be the city that never sleeps but it's just the opposite for Greenwich, CT. We had our cell phones but didn't know any numbers to call for a taxi and there wasn't a phone book at the pay phone.

As we were contemplating our dilemma, I saw a cruiser crossing over the bridge ahead. I started jumping up and down, shouting and waving frantically. He turned into the parking lot and I hurried down the steps toward him, Jim walking quickly behind. He got out of his cruiser quickly, hand on gun, and inquired urgently "What's the problem, ma'am?", all the while keeping an eye on Jim. As I later thought about it I suppose it looked like I was about to get attacked by this man who was following me.

I explained our problem and asked if he could call us a cab. He did better than that. He invited us to get into the back of his cruiser, offering us a ride to the next train station, apologizing for the lack of upholstery in the back seat.

Now this is the first (and only, I might add) time I've ever been up close and personal with a cruiser so I had to ask what happened to the seat covers and floor rugs. For those of you who've never been in a police car, it's just a hard plastic seat and floor which, as he explained, prevents detainees from hiding things in the upholstery or those who've had too much to drink from damaging it while expelling their stomach contents. It's a simple matter of hosing it out. (EWWW! I'd never thought before about cops having to deal with that in the back of their cars. That's worse than having to clean up after the kids. Wonder if they ever use my DIL's car wash idea?)

We had a very nice chat in the 20 minutes or so that it took to take us to our destination. And, I might add, he brought us right to our vehicle. After thank yous on our part and wishes for a safe trip on his, we were on our way home. The next day we tried to tell the kids that Jim was so rowdy that we were finally escorted to our vehicle in a cruiser and told "Hasta la vista, baby!" (picture Arnold in Terminator 2). As convincing as I tried to sound they just didn't buy it so I had to come clean as to why we had a police escort back to our vehicle.

So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What Did I Do?

Most of the time I either ignore e-mail forwards, or read them but don't forward. After all, if I forwarded every one of them I'd be doing nothing else. But when this forward came through I just had to wonder. The instructions were to answer the question to the sender privately, then forward it on to all your friends. So, here's the question:

If you saw me in a police car what would you think I got arrested for?

I thought this would be a fun thing to take to the blogs and see what crimes friends could come up with. So here's a fun idea - leave a comment about what you think I did, then post the question on your blog to see what your friends could accuse you of.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Coupon Queening 101

My daughter-in-law is a fantastic couponer. The stores pay her to shop there. She many times comes away with paying nothing, to having money handed to her after she shops. I've never been very good at couponing so I asked her to write this guest post to teach me, and you, how she does this. And I don't know how she finds time to do all this while managing a large family AND maintaining a fantastic blog all about being frugal at All Things Frugal 4-U And Me

History of Coupons?

The stigma used to be that only Poor people used coupons.
Coupons have been used in America since the 1800's.
C.W. Post really kicked off the use of coupons when he began to offer costumers .01 off their Grape Nuts cereal in the early 1900's.
Coupons are used as a way of advertising and to market a product.**

Coupons are also a bit of a confession that a company's product is over priced if you need a coupon to begin with. With today's economy Coupon stigmas are long gone. It is so HIP to be frugal these days;)

Where to get coupons:
*Sunday papers obviously (although I don't have a subscription to it:)
*In Magazines (the Wal-mart Mag ALL YOU is a great one. It can also be ordered as a subscription from Amazon)
*In grocery store flyers-many are Manufacturer coupons & can be redeemed ANYWHERE
*Contact companies and get on their mailing lists
*Order them from a coupon service This site has the Sunday coupons ready to buy up on Sat. morning
*Recycling centers can have the coupons left in the papers (get permission first)
*Ask paper boys you might know if they have left over inserts.
*Tell your neighbors to save them for you.
*Hold a Coupon party and swap some-Yes! they do that.
*Start a coupon train, you put what you don't need into a envelope and pass it on to be added to or taken from.
*Start a basket at a school or library like the penny jars. Have a coupon drop it off. Need one take it.

Printable coupons from the Internet (a few of them)
Coupon Bug
Coupons Inc.
Smart Source
Mommy $aves Big
also just Google search "printable coupon for _______________"

Most of the printable coupons on the Internet that you'll find are called "Bricks" coupons. Bricks means the Manufacturers have put up a brick wall;) A block so you can't print the coupon endlessly. Most of the Bricks will print twice from every computer you have access to, as long as no one's already printed the coupon from that computer-they keep track with codes. Some bricks coupons will reset each month or later in a promotional run. and the other sites listed above are also bricks coded so you can print each coupon twice from them as well.

Some stores are leery of accepting printed coupons, others just won't. Every store is entitled to their own Coupon Policy.

DO NOT EVER PHOTO COPY A PRINTED COUPON-THAT IS FRAUD! There are special markings on a printed coupon that disappear when photo copied. After you print a coupon you'll notice in the background in the center of the coupon is a blurry rectangle image or logo-that's a watermark. That's proof it's a legit coupon. Also under the doted bar code usually in the upper right, the numbers under it change with each print. (Just a couple of things to point out if a cashier doesn't want to take your coupon because she thinks it's a copied version)

If you come across a printable "too good to be true" coupon-it probably is. Recently there have been FREE multi-packs of Bounty coupons out. So BEWARE, there ARE fraudulent coupons to print out on the Internet. Most of these will come from Blogs or personal sites.

How to organize Coupons now that you've got some?

At first an envelope in your purse will work. Then you might go to the Accordion folder style or a recipe type box. If you become really serious you'll want the Granddaddy of them all-the Coupon Binder:)

Read how to organize him here. Or see more photos here.

How to use coupons:

*Best way is to wait for a sale, then combine it with a coupon of multiples! If you like Skippy Peanut Butter you could use your .50 off that $1.79 jar and pay $1.29. But why do that if you can wait till it's on sale for .99 and then snag it for .49?

*Most coupons usually come out about 3+ weeks before there will be a sale on the product. They want you to go blow that coupon-don't a sale most likely IS coming.

*You can combine Manufacturers coupons WITH Store coupons.

*If you get a lot of coupons tear the inserts apart so you have all of the same page. Then cut them with a paper cutter-NOT SCISSORS:) You'll be there forever.

*Don't get flustered at the check out! It's OK. Cashiers get grouchy cause they're tired not because you hand them a coupon. (And if they do- then hey sorry for them) I usually just lightly say "it all helps these days huh?" as I hand them 40+ coupons LOL! I'm a regular and they don't even bat an eye... Being nice goes a long way too. Remember they're going to be working their entire shift no matter if your in their line. 6 hours is still 6 whether coupons are involved or not. They have a job because you help pay their paycheck... Don't let them be rude to you.

*If there's a sale that's B1G1F (buy one get one free) you can mix that with a coupon for even more savings. Then the first one you buy is cheaper.

*If you have a coupon for something and it would be free get it! Even if it isn't your brand think Food Pantry, Homeless Shelter, etc. If you don't coupon, start for that reason alone.

*Check those clearance bins! Plenty of goodies have been found there to be used with a coupon. Sometimes you'll get paid to buy things if they cost less then the coupon deduction or you may just snag some free stuff because the store chooses to price down the coupon.

*Coupons are the same as cash. It's a form of tender for a bill. The stores have to wait a little bit to get reimbursed but they make .08 per coupon back for it. In the end they're making $ to take your coupon.

*Don't forget to get your rain checks if a product is out. Then hit up some coupons!

*You can buy something for a rebate with a coupon. However, some Companies are starting to deduct the coupon amount from the rebate check you'll get. Some, just so you know.

*I love this last tidbit.
Did you know that most Millionaires use coupons or are married to someone who does? From the book The Millionaire Next Door

There you go, a crash course in Coupon Queening 101

HaPpY SaViNgS Ya'll:)!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Dreams

For every mother there's also a child. So on this Mother's Day I want to honor my children. Without them I wouldn't be a mother. My daughter-in-law posted this Mother's Day message on her blog and I couldn't have said it better myself so I'll just direct you there.

Now I'm going to brag just a little, well, maybe a lot. Mother's with young children try to imagine what kind of adults they'll become, what kind of person they'll marry, and of course, dream of grandchildren. And parents hope their children will be even better than they are and try to give them every opportunity to get a better education, train for a better job, grow more spiritually, have more than we did. I could not possibly have imagined my son marrying a better person or a better mother to my grandchildren. She is the kind of person I wish I had been when I was her age and that means she'll be a better person than I am now when she's my age. My life's dream is reality when I look at their family.

I also want to give credit to my other children, who they've become, and who they're becoming. I salute their strengths and accomplishments. My two daughters have become strong women with children of their own. They face life's challenges head on and tackle seemingly insurmountable odds with courage and determination. I see many things that are reflections of me, and many more things that are theirs alone. I also have 4 step-children who have become wonderful adults that do honor to their families.

I'm so proud of all of them I could just burst at the seams. So here's to raising children who fulfill their mother's dreams.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Stupid Sheep - Part 2

After yesterday's struggle getting my dumb sheep into the other pasture I figured today would be easier. They all should have learned that you can just go through the open gate with the flock. Right?

Wrong! I opened the gate, called to the sheep and as the flock hurried through into the pasture those same two lambs that had such a hard time mastering the extremely complicated go-through-the-open-gate-maneuver decided they didn't want to get left behind today. So in racing to keep up with the others they crashed full-speed into the fence right next to the gate. One of them hit it with such force he bounced back on his butt. They then ran down the fence line looking for the way in.

Perhaps it was because I was doubled over laughing but they came back to the open gate to see what I was doing, noticed it was open and decided to try just calmly walking through the opening, trying their best to look like they possessed some small amount of intelligence. They looked very surprised that they could reach the flock that way. Perhaps they really can be taught? Maybe not.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stupid Sheep

Sheep have got to be one of the stupidest creatures on earth, if not THE stupidest!

I wanted to put the sheep in an area where the grass is getting quite tall and thick. I opened a small gate off the main paddock area, called to the sheep who, thinking I might have some grain, stampeded to me. If you've never seen a stampeding flock of sheep, well, let me just say you don't want to be in their way. Most of the sheep followed me through the open gate and, realizing they were then free to munch lush grass to their heart's content, moved on past me and spread out to sample the menu. One ewe wasn't so sure but decided to be brave and give it a go so off she went to join the others.

Most of the lambs, who are about 2 months old now and already about 40 lbs., followed, with the exception of 4 which, although they had seen the others go through the gate, decided they'd try their luck running further down the fence line. I moved around behind them and drove them back toward the open gate. Now having seen the others go through I thought it would be a simple matter of getting them close enough that they'd figure out they could join the flock by just moving their cute little bodies through the opening. Nope. They ran right past it. I got behind them again, doing my best impersonation of a herding dog (without the bark of course), and moved them back toward the opening. When they got close I backed off hoping they'd wander through. Nope.

I next got a goat and led it back and forth through the gate several times in the hopes the lambs would see they could go through the opening. Then I got behind them again and, with some fancy footwork on my part, moved them back toward the gate. 2 of them decided to follow the goat through with the other 2 looking on. But apparently the remaining 2 lambs felt they were headed for certain doom and ran down the fence line again. Of course by this time they were bellowing loudly for their mothers who were busy devouring the 5-star cuisine and couldn't have cared less what their lambs were up to. I got them turned around and headed toward the opening again and, again, they ran right past it.

Now I was certain these 2 were especially dumb, even for sheep. I thought that maybe if I opened the other gate, which is 12' wide, they'd go through that one. I herded them toward that larger opening and, you guessed it, they ran right past that one too. And the whole flock was just inside in plain view!

Not to be thwarted, I went to the barn, got some grain and called to the sheep who stampeded through the smaller gate back into the main paddock area. My thought was to bring the sheep back through and perhaps they'd stay together as a flock with the 2 really stupid lambs included. This plan finally worked and they all moved off to resume stuffing their faces.

I figure anything this stupid deserves to be eaten. But this leaves me with a question - If you are what you eat what does that make us when we eat stupid animals? Just food for thought (sorry, couldn't resist).

(Be sure to check out what happens next at Stupid Sheep - Part 2)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Me, Sooner Than I Think

(Double click on the image to enlarge)