Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When Couponing Goes Wrong

Last night I made my first home-cooked meal in what seems like weeks. That was a very strange realization for me, as someone who loves to cook and bake, but sadly it's true.

I don't often bake or cook anything during the summer months because we don't have air conditioning, so three months out of the year we eat a lot of salads and sandwiches, which are mostly good for us. However, these last couple of weeks it has been frozen meals galore at the Greene residence, and I am not proud of that.

The addiction of couponing has sent me down a dangerous slope. I finally hit rock bottom when I noticed we had 15 boxes of frozen Stouffer's French Bread Pizzas in our freezer. That is embarrassing for me to even type, as most of you know how we love making homemade pizza. But here's the deal: you rarely (never) find coupons for organic foods, fresh fruits, or vegetables. Flip through your Sunday paper, and I guarantee you will find that 90% of your food coupons are for frozen and/or snack foods. This, I am quite certain; is why, when people from shows like The Biggest Loser get their refrigerators raided, everything gets thrown out; because middle America uses coupons and matches them with deals, and the best deals are on the most unhealthy foods!

Back to my addiction. It all began when Tops weekly circular came out with the sale price of their Stouffer's Pizzas and stating that purchasing a certain amount of boxes would earn you a $10 coupon off your entire purchase at the store. When I noticed I had coupons for the pizzas to add to the Tops sale, that was a no-brainer. I went, I bought, I returned with a free $10. I then used the $10 coupon to make non-food purchases, since those are typically more expensive. I used all the coupons I could, plus Tops offered their $1 coupon doublers that week, so I was able to get paper towels, shampoo and conditioner, dish soap, laundry detergent, and dryer sheets for somewhere around $5 after all the coupons were deducted and the $10 coupon was used. It was really quite amazing.

Then, as if to feed my addiction, Tops gave me even more coupons for more Stouffer's upon my checkout. The week being only half done, I laughed hysterically at all the goodies I could get with another $10, and MORE coupon doublers. AND, oh AND you can save on gas at Tops with every manufacturer's coupon you use. I've racked up more than $1 off a gallon before, and who doesn't need to save on gas? The saving was endless! Moooooahhahahaha!!

I did it. I bought more Stouffer's, and got more items practically free, in return. I had to stop once I realized there was no more room in my freezer, but, wouldn't you know it; Tops gave me MORE Stouffer's coupons! The more you buy at a time, the more coupons they give you, apparently. It's insane! I now have a $2 off 7 (yes, 7) boxes of Stouffer's French Bread Pizza coupon, and I am putting my foot down! No more. Of course it's easy to put my foot down now...now that they are no longer on sale, and now that I will not get $10 back for buying them. Now, with all temptation gone, I will take a stand.

With all but two boxes of that blasted pizza finally gone, I spent Sunday evening putting together a menu plan of meals for the week. Last night's meal wasn't even all from scratch. It was simply Apple Pie Pork Chops served with spinach sauteed in butter with garlic (don't knock it 'til you've tried it). And one serving of the the chops and spinach was only ever so slightly higher in calories than one little Stouffer's French Bread Pizza slice.

Despite the fact that half of the meal was still either from a box or a can, my family ate it up like it was their first (and last) meal ever. Chef Erin is back!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Parent Error

Lately I have been feeling as though my mind is turning to mush. While Jelani is off getting his education on, biggering his brain, I am home writing blogs with made up Dr. Seuss words.

One thing that has happened quite a bit recently just proves my fear to be true. A few weeks ago Elijah wet the bed two nights in a row. The first night I overlooked it. I reasoned that he drank a lot of milk before going to bed and slept a little later than normal. Plus, isn't that normal for young boys occasionally? However, he has been staying dry through the night since before his third birthday, so it was still a bit strange. When it happened the next night, and I was stripping down his bed and washing everything again, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember if I had taken him to pee before bed. When I asked Jelani about it, he couldn't remember either.

As the weeks went by, I continued having difficulty remembering to take him to pee. Many nights, by the time I would go to bed I couldn't remember whether I'd taken him or not. The child has an iron bladder, and if not reminded to go, he will hold it as long as he can. When he's awake, that is ok, because he knows when he absolutely has to go, but when asleep...not so much, so I've learned.

So at least two nights out of the week we put the kids to bed around 8, and by the time I get into bed and lie there a while, around midnight I realize the reason I can't fall asleep is because my brain is trying to tell me something, "Hey, Mom of the Year! You forgot to take your son to go pee!" I'll jump out of bed as I realize this and go to get Elijah. The poor child is so deep in sleep that each time this happens, as I'm lifting him out of bed, he startles awake and whispers, "Help!" before his voice has fully woken up. We make the midnight march to the potty, as he rubs his eyes and tries to understand what's happening. I discovered the hard way one night, when he nearly peed on me, that he's too asleep to aim.

The last time this happened, just two nights ago, it was old hat for Elijah. I carried him to the bathroom where he calmly unzipped his pajamas and began to pee. I honestly couldn't remember whether he had gone earlier or not, so I thought better safe than sorry, but when I asked him he confirmed, "No, Mommy. I didn't pee tonight."

Last night, I made Jelani help me get the kids ready for bed so that I had an extra brain keeping track of the events. Ever since Chastity began using the potty, my routine has been thrown a little bit. At least that's the excuse I'm going with. As Elijah went to pee, Jelani said, "Take note, Mommy." We went on to have our Bible and prayer time, but as we turned out the lights and got ready to sing, Elijah jumped off my lap and said, "I need to pee, Mommy!"

"You already did, Eli, remember?" but he was adamant. We waited while he tried to pee. Of course nothing happened, but at least now Elijah is aware of the situation and he knows that Mommy needs help making sure such things are taken care of so that his sleep is uninterrupted.

As it turns out Elijah's malfunction was clearly parent error.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Poop Saves Lives

As a mother, I probably write/talk about poop more than the average person. Perhaps it is unprofessional of me, and maybe having the words "poop" and "fart" in my blog titles disqualifies me from ever being a respected writer. But if poop is wrong, baby, I don't want to be right.

You see, I believe, with all my heart, that poop has, rather unfairly, been given a bad name. Yeah, it stinks, and it's not easy on the eyes, but think about all the good that it does for you. People who cannot poop are not happy people. Just sayin'... So this is not only a blog, but a testament to what poop can do for you. Stay with me here.

I don't like missing church, though I am a firm believer that you can worship from wherever you may be. That's a rough transition, but bear with me. I have been sick all week with a nasty cold. My coughing has been violent and painful and consistent. I thought it wise to stay home today and not spread the germs, plus I still feel pretty miserable. That being said, I hate hate HATE that I have been missing out on all the fun in Buffalo's last bit of sunshine for the year. So Jelani packed up the kids and left for church, and I vowed that I was going to get out of this house.

I decided to take Selah (our beloved dog) for a walk. Sadly, I don't do this very often, because I am usually not walking, but running, and I am always doing it for exercise. No matter how hard I try to stop it from happening, Selah always manages to ruin my exercise with her potty breaks. This morning I made good and sure that she pooped before we left (but still took some bags just in case). We began our walk, and I began my talk with God. It makes me feel good while passing the time, and so I prayed.

Less than half way through a four-mile walk, she started dragging, which is usually my cue to stop and let her poop. I usually ignore it for as long as I can because I never believe she actually has to go. Reason being is that most of the time I do stop to let her poop a person, squirrel, bird, or leaf passing by can distract her enough not to go. Like putting the kids on the potty with a toy; I get no results. On days like today I become particularly angry because she already did all this at home. I mean, I don't have to stop to poop in the middle of my walks or runs! Why should she?

I finally gave in and let her go, checking my stop watch to see how much time I'd be losing. She pooped a good pound and a half more of poop, as if she hadn't pooped in days. I was muttering my annoyance while picking up her poop with only a bag between my hand and her waste. Not only was she interrupting my exercise, but also my prayer time. I was doubly annoyed.

We continued our walk, me with poop bag in hand. Of course there were no good samaritans with their trash bins out yet. I had walked about another quarter mile when I noticed a car speed through a red light. The other cars around him honked, as he kept going. As I approached that very intersection I realized something. Had I not lost that 45 seconds to picking up poop, I would have been in the middle of that intersection right when that car sped through the red light. You think I'm crazy, and that I'm exaggerating or making it up, but I promise you I'm not. Most people wouldn't know that for a fact because most people are not OCD like I am about recording calories and calories burned, and in order to record calories burned, you have to know exactly how long you've exercised and at what pace. I keep track of my times, my distances, and my pace every time I step foot out the door. I knew that I lost 45 seconds picking up poop and I discovered that it was a 45 second walk from where I stood, watching the car run the light, to the middle of that intersection.

Sometimes we complain because we're going through...well, poop in our lives. We're not always shown the end results, or the "what ifs," but maybe, just maybe that poop is placed there to protect us from stepping in an epic pile of poop.

I continued my walk with a smile on my face and a handful of a stinkin' reminder of God's love, wisdom...and humor. So stop giving poop the short end of the stick, because even poop can be used to save lives. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Lucky (Crafty) Husband

Most days you will find me in my sweats. I roll out of bed in the morning in gym shorts and a t-shirt. I get the kids dressed and fed, and go about my daily tasks. This has been my routine for a long time for two reasons.
1. After pregnancies, the only clothes I can fit into are my gym shorts and sweats...for who knows how long.
2. Typically my only time to workout  is during the kids' nap in the middle of the day, and I just don't see the point in showering and getting all dolled up before a workout.

Plus, a small part of me feels like doing all of that work is a colossal waste of time when I could be doing something productive with my children or something otherwise productive leaving me more time to spend with my children. At least that's what the whispers in my head tell me.

The problem with "most days" is that they leave me feeling disheveled, unkempt, and lazy, no matter how productive my day has been. So every now and then, when provided with the time, I run with it. I'll get a good shower, not just the kind where I wash so quickly that I can't even remember if I did or not, and end up washing again. I'll put on real clothes, do something other than a messy pony tail with my hair, and maybe even dab on a little make-up...just to run some errands.

I do this so rarely, that Elijah will ask, "Mommy, are we going to church?" when he sees me step out of the bathroom in jeans and a blouse, and Jelani will ask me if I'm looking for a boyfriend, and make a snide remark about not forgetting to wear my rings.

Today, I was feeling under the weather, and ever since high school, I have found myself to be more productive, as though I can fake being healthy, if I ditch the sweats and act a little glamorous. "Fake it 'til ya make it," right? I had some errands to run this afternoon, and Jelani had a short day. When he got home, I took a nice long shower, did a little something with my hair and face, and slapped on a pair of jeans I haven't worn in 5 years. I was greeted by, "Mommy, are we going to church?" and "Why are you so dolled up? Better put those rings on!" It's a shame when they treat my jeans and blouse like a rarely worn ball gown.

And I was off on a glamorous, errand running journey. I stopped by Toys 'R Us, coupon in hand, for an early Christmas purchase that was on sale. I am such a couponing freak! Then I had to swing by the post office to mail my mother the sweater she left here the last time she visited. Then, on my way out of the post office, something happened...something that has happened to me more in the last four months than ever happened to me between high school and college combined. I was...hit on?

No, seriously. I was hit on.

This makes number 3 since I've dropped 30 lbs, and I'm still not the size I was in college. Are older men just bolder and braver? Do they figure they have nothing to lose? I have to give guy #3 props though. It was the sweetest, and most respectful of the three hit ons. Guy #1 openly admitted to me, after only 30 seconds, that he was only in town for a week on business "lonely in my hotel room." Creeper. Guy number two shamelessly flirted with me while fawning over the love of his life (his cat) in the Pet Smart line, and again, admitted to me that he was only in town for another two nights before heading off to study abroad in England. What do I look like, exactly? I am a dog person for goodness sake.

With both of the first two, I had to quickly bring up the fact that I am married with children. Guy number three though; he was different. We made eye contact as I was leaving the post office and he was arriving. We exchanged polite hellos and how are yous, as I usually do with people I make eye contact with in passing. He was all smiles and unusually friendly, but it was refreshing. I kept walking, but he stopped me with, "I'm sorry, but you are really beautiful." As I turned around to thank him, and find a way to tell him I only have eyes for one, he put his hand out to introduce himself, gave me his name, and then immediately said, "Please, tell me you're not married." If you know me, you know how embarrassing this all was, so I laughed and told him that I am, in fact happily married, he continued a light but polite conversation about how he'd just moved to Buffalo from Palm Springs. I said, "Well, welcome to Buffalo," with a smile. He told me my husband was one lucky man...about 3 times, and as I walked away he yelled, "You make sure to tell him how lucky he is!" I laughed, but told him I certainly would (and I certainly did).

"Luck has nothing to do with it," he responded. "I'm just crafty."  He somehow believes that he fooled me into marrying him. "Was he white or black?" Jelani then asked me.
"Black. They're all black," I said.
He smiled a knowing smile. This matters for reasons I don't fully understand, but my theory is that Jelani likes hearing that other black men appreciate me. Maybe it makes him feel less crazy for marrying the whitest chick he knows.

And maybe, if this keeps up, he'll complain a little bit less about my sloppy pony tail and my comfortable clothing of choice. ;-)