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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Coupon Clipping

Like anything that I am interested in, coupon clipping has me obsessed.  I love books, I read all the time.  I love coffee, I'm always looking for the next great cup; dark roast, of course.  I love the internet.  I hate to admit it, but I am the queen of net searches and can find just the right combination of keywords to find what I'm looking for.  I love coupons, so I clip and download and combine.  So, when I love something and enjoy immersing myself in it, I usually don't go halfway, but dive right in the deep end and learn as I go.

Coupon clipping seems simple, right?  You get the Sunday paper, flip through the inserts, cut some coupons and put them in your purse.  When you go shopping, you might or might not have a coupon on hand - or, more likely, it's in your other purse or in the car or went to school in your daughter's homework folder.  That is the kind of clipper I was.  For a while, we didn't even get a Sunday paper and I didn't know what I was missing.

My friend, Therese, introduced me to the show "Extreme Couponing."  You know the one.  These people are crazy, right?  They have stockpiles of items they won't use until 2043.  They have entire rooms in their houses dedicated to the almighty pile.  We don't have cable, so I don't get to see the show often, but it fascinates me that someone can get $800 worth of groceries for 73 cents.  So, I started thinking.  And, you can ask my husband, when I start thinking about something that can only mean there's going to be a change around here.  "Honey, I was thinking...," gives my husband that deer caught in the headlights look.  It's not pretty.  I think couponing gives me that look; the frantic "how can I really get the best deal" look.

I am not like "those" women, I am not like "those" women, I am not like "those" women, but I am.  I don't carry "the binder" and I don't fill four shopping carts, but I do like the thrill of the hunt.  I want to get the best deal.  I want to spend my husband's hard-earned money as wisely as possible.  So what if I had to re-write my shopping list three times because I missed the Friday sale and then the weekend sale because my kids had a class and I was carpool Mom.  I hone and whittle that list until every item on it has a deal.  I look for the loyalty card deal, the store coupon, the manufacturer's coupon and when the three combine, it's bliss.  I got a deal.  I checked out my groceries and saved 46%.  Wow.  I am woman, hear me roar.  

I don't have the stockpile. I don't even have enough toilet paper to get me through next week, but I am saving money and taking care of my family in the best way I know how.  That far exceeds the thrill of watching my total shrink on the cash register (it's really like winning in Vegas) and far exceeds the challenging stares of the poor souls who are in line behind me.  I'm doing my best and it feels good.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ch, Ch, Ch, Changes...

I have always been sure that change in life is what keeps us going, gives us something to look forward to and something to dread.  By the time you are in your 40's, so many changes have likely taken place in your life that you wake up some days and literally ask yourself, "How did I get here?"  You know that where you are is a result of many intertwined good and bad decisions that you've made, yet you still wonder if it really was YOUR freewill that got you here.

This last weekend we had a "room" (for lack of a better word) removed from our house.  When we moved in 12 years ago, there was a greenhouse attached to the back.  We thought it would be a great "sunroom," "workout room" or "playroom" for our eventual kids.  After all, the owner trying to sell the house had kids' toys out there and a nice ceiling fan twirling above our heads. 

We bought the house in March and closed escrow in June.  We were in!  Moving in in Southern California in June, meant balmy, somewhat overcast weather in the mornings and cool afternoons.  Summer doesn't really hit us until the end of July and then it hangs around until Halloween, making an appearance or two again in January.  So, here we were in blissful June, oblivious to the fact that our "sunroom" would soon become an oven.  As summer hit and the sun blasted through the glass roof, we realized that we had to make some changes.  

We painted the glass ceiling a light color to reflect the sunlight back up.  I made white curtains and hung them around the room to quell the blast furnace effect.  We even replaced the living room windows that opened onto the "sunroom" with double-paned thermal glass - but none of it worked.  Our little bonus room soon became the "too hot" or "too cold" room and started accumulating junk.  We tried to use it as an office, but the computer kept overheating in the summer and condensation dripped from the ceiling.  Then, when the girls came along, it was a great playroom when the weather cooperated.  As the years went on, though, it just became "the playroom" whether anyone used it or not.  

The final change came last week, when we finally had the room removed.  We now have the beginnings of our Hawaiian-style lanai.  And, though it may take another twelve years to get it where we want it to be, it is a nice change and a decision I think we'll be happy with.  We got here by choice, by choosing to try to improve our home and trying to make it a better place for our kids and their kids.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Best Friend Birthday

Today is Denise's birthday and I celebrate her.  We have been friends for ten years and she has helped shaped who I am as a grown woman and mother.  We met when our daughters were six months old in a "mommy and me" class.  I had signed up with another great friend from my neighborhood and soon we evolved into a group of six or seven moms and kids who rotated play groups from house to house. 

As the years went on, at least four of us moved away- that being the nature of life in LA it seems, but Denise and I were still here and still got together even as I added a second daughter to the mix and Denise's eldest went from middle school to high school (and has now graduated college and is heading for grad school).  Our girls are still friends and we get them together from time to time.  They pick up right where they left off, as kids do, even as they each sprout wings and progress toward who they will become as the years pass.  Denise and I, though, seem to manage to get together despite how busy we both are.  It is important to us to maintain this great bond and it helps to keep us grounded. 

She listens and advises, and has even let me cry on her shoulder when it felt like my world was crashing down around me.  We celebrate each other's victories and curse the defeats.  She walks with me for exercise and slows her pace to match mine when needed.  She is strong in her faith and loyal to the end.  She keeps my confidences and buoys me up when I am sinking.  We laugh together and have grown older together.  We accept each other.

 She is my true friend, and I need her in my life.  I wish her the happiest birthday today and send all my love.  I look forward to celebrating so many more years of her life entwined with mine.