Bargain Shopping 101 ~ Part Two

So many things to do with that $336 dollars I saved in February…

Was it a coincidence that I ripped this article out of Oprah magazine?

This article featured jeans under $100 which in magazine-land is a major bargain price.

In spite of the title, no thank you, I’m actually not looking for ways to build a better butt.

I’m always looking for great jeans at a reasonable price.

I wanted to find these jeans and try them on so I was saving the article.

Side note: I would also like to clarify that I do not share this particular woman’s problem of “whale tail” which is a new phrase I learned. Nor do I think I need a “push-up bra for my butt” I just liked the other features described.

$59 for great jeans is really a great price.

Then I noticed the price of the blouse.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME????????

Tell me if you have ever spent $700 on a blouse? Do I know you?

Holy cow, I just can’t get over that.

With my weak math skills I have figured out that with my $336 that I “saved” in February, I could…

Buy FIVE pairs of these jeans.

Or I’m not quite halfway to buying a new blouse.

What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a single article of clothing?

I’m going to ponder that while I wrap myself in one of my $7.00 sweaters…

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Bargain Shopping 101

I was a bargain shopper way before it become chic and cool.

Mostly made chic and cool because of the horrible economy.

This makes me chic and cool way before we were poor.

Which I think is the ultimate chic and cool.

Or not.

I have been a bargain shopper since my high school days.

It’s something about the thrill of not paying retail.

I’m the person who goes directly to the back of the store to the clearance racks and never even really looks at the mannequins in the window as I know I can’t afford it. And if I could, I would never pay retail.

Part of is the thrill of the find. The other part is saving money.

Look at what I scored for Scary Baby in February.

Yes, that’s right. 5 new articles of clothing ~ a hoodie, matching pants, a top and two sweaters. The very cute brown velour hoodie and matching pants were $2.99 each! Woo hoo!

Side note: Pictures of the aforementioned items would have been chic and cool. I was so busy scanning the receipts I obviously didn’t think about the actual clothes.

So glad I was shopping for new dress pants for myself. That’s why I ended up with 5 new sweaters and a top. Because you have to be flexible when bargain shopping.

Fortunately, I’m very flexible. 😉

I do so love a store that doesn’t make me do that math.

According to Belk, I SAVED a grand total of $336.51.

Come back Wednesday to find out what I could do with all my savings!!

Until then, leave a comment and tell me about your best bargain score. What’s the best bargain you ever found while shopping? (Doesn’t have to be clothes…)

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Free National Parks Weekends & Grand Canyon Tip

Did you hear the great economic stimulus plan for family summer vacations?

There are three free national park weekends with the first one starting this weekend, June 20th. The other weekends are July 18 and 19, and August 15 and 16.

It would be fun to be able to take advantage of one of these weekends. There’s still time to plan a semi-spontaneous family vacation! Or if you are lucky enough to live near one of the national parks, you should definitely take advantage of this opportunity!

I’d like to give a little Grand Canyon tip for anyone who is able to get there for a visit this summer. PhilBillPaul and I were lucky enough to visit in the quiet of December and it was breathtaking.

Towards the end of trip, this was really breathtaking.

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In case you can’t see it, here is a close up…

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An idiot who is on the WRONG side of the fence.

WHY OH WHY would you climb over a metal fence and rail to get one or two feet closer?

I couldn’t help but take a few pictures of the idiot. I like to teach the kids these little life lessons with words and pictures. It’s nice when an idiot provides you with a complete photo tutorial.

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I was glad to capture this picture of him climbing back over to safety. I would not have wanted to photograph the alternative. 🙁

I think they like to keep the number of accidents, disappearances and rescue and recovery on the down low. We don’t want to scare the tourists from visiting. Really, I just think they should work on keeping the idiots from visiting.

They do have these handy informational signs posted around the trails.

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In English, “People die here falling from the edge. Do not go beyond–or climb on–walls or railings. Most who die have gone beyond walls or rails.

Seriously? Yes, idiots keep signmakers in business.

Unfortunately, most idiots can’t read. The graphic probably just confuses them even more.

Hey, one more quick tip. Don’t forget to stop at the Wendy’s just before the South Rim entrance to have a $7.00 burger. The value menu is not available at this location.

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My love for my iPod, ebay and Google

I love, love, love my ipod.

PhilBillPaul bought one for my birthday five years ago before the kids decided they were cool. It took me several days to load our large and diverse CD collection on to my iMac via iTunes and have all my music in one place.

I love, love ebay.

We’ve shopped on ebay for almost 10 years. I love to find ebay bargains and we’ve even sold a few things on ebay through the years.

As a matter of fact, I bought the big kids their first ipods on ebay.

I love google.

More information than I could ever absorb. There is rarely a day that we don’t “google” for something.

Put my three loves together in the same room and I had a very happy Sunday afternoon. 😉

My iPod battery wouldn’t hold a charge. Then it started freezing while it was sitting in my iHome charging dock/radio/alarm clock. I know that my 2nd iPod which is considered *old* and uncool but it suits me just fine and I didn’t want to buy a new one.

I went to ebay and bought this for $6.49 with free shipping…

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I got the cute little kit complete with new battery and three tools from everydaysource, a great ebay store that we also buy all our printer ink from at a very reduced price!

Then I googled and watched this video so I could do this…

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Disclaimer: Attempt repair at your own risk. But I do wonder how many people just toss their iPod when it stops working and it was only the battery?

And now my iPod works again.

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WOO-HOO!

My technical skills have vastly improved as direct result of all the great DIY instructions I find on google.

Remember how I fixed my laptop earlier this year?

Maybe I should apply for a job at Apple.

What did you do this weekend?

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Flexible Friday #25 The Name Game

My name is a wee bit unusual especially for my age.

I’ve known this since grade school. (We’ll save the endless list of current strange names for another post.)

Typically, the teachers, all the way through college would simply ignore the “a” at the end of Sherra and roll call usually went something like this:

Insert Ferris Bueller’s teacher voice here:

“Sherry? Sharon? Sheryl?”

My very rebellious nature led me to sit quietly while other students would whisper…

“The teacher is calling you.”

By college, when I finally broke out of my quiet, meek shell (not kidding) I had this awesome one-liner that my friend Ann says she clearly remembers as the first thing she heard me say in Freshman Seminar. I sometimes still use today.

“I’m Sherra, rhymes with Sara.”

Because I find it incredibly awkward to correct people in future meetings when they say, “Sharon?”

I’m not quite as flexible as PhilBillPaul, who you may remember, went for a solid YEAR and let someone call him “Paul.”

He likes to introduce us as Sharon and Bill just to confuse people. He’s funny like that.

I have lived through this name game and I’m no worse for the wear.

Then I saddle my firstborn with a name like The Grunter Everett, rhymes with umm…nothing.

I’m a firm believer in giving a kid a name that they can grow into instead out of.

Our college boy has grown into his name but I see now he may face some of the same problems I have. I learned this when he shared some student critiques from his Speech class.

The phonetic spelling of our last name is the best version yet. That a college student wrote it makes me worry about this generation we’re sending out in the big, bad world.

Evan is close and this student didn’t even attempt the last name. Way to play it safe.

Ahhh, meet my son, EverettEdwardEvan. He did get an “A” on his speech.

Little Lesson (LL): Names matter and it shows you care when you pay attention and get them right.

Share a Little Lesson (SALL): Are you good or bad with names? Have any tips that help you remember someone’s name?

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Little Lesson #8
Anyone Grounded at Your House?

You would think I would have this discipline thing down by the 4th child.

But I don’t.

You might think I learned a few things even though I was both unprepared and unqualified with the first three, and I would be prepared and qualified to parent our totally planned LAST child.

But I didn’t.

Scary Baby’s claim to fame may well be that she made PhilBillPaul and I surrender.

I hope that is not her legacy.

Because I really do believe kids need and want boundaries even though their brains don’t know how to show and articulate this to the world.

This kid would force several child-rearing *experts* to re-write their books on strong-willed, stubborn children if they ever met her.

Unfortunately they won’t be able to meet her anytime soon.

Because she’s grounded again.

ScaryBabySign

The sign went up on the front porch two weeks ago when she was grounded the first time of this school year.

The sign went up because she is very social and when the phone and door bell ring it is almost always for her. I have tried to scare the neighbor kids away but they just keep coming back. Either I’m not scary enough or Scary Baby is so much fun and totally worth facing the Scary Mom.

One week of freedom later and she’s grounded again.

Emotions run high in our house. I accepted that long ago. I am emotional. Prone to emotional outbursts both before and after the coma. I’ve always believed home is where you should feel safe enough to throw a fit if you need to. Sometimes you just have to let that all out. It’s hard to always be good and obedient and proper. Or is it just hard for me?

She has some real issues about staying up too late in her room after she has been tucked in and then falling apart in the morning in fits of hysterical crying and screaming about how tired she is and how she can’t go to school.

It makes for some really stressful mornings and some really grouchy parents.

I recognize that every child is different. I know this because every one of mine is remarkably different even though they’ve been reared by the same parents in the same house since birth. I just did not encounter this problem with the older kids. Only one is a morning person who wakes up singing – that darn Wizzy is Little Miss Merry Sunshine and she learned early not to talk to the rest of us in the morning.

In case the neighbors are reading, we’re sorry about the screaming and we’re working on some diet changes…less sugar, more protein and talking about self-control and making better choices.

BIG SIGH…

Little Lesson (LL): Putting your kids to bed earlier and earlier doesn’t necessarily guarantee that they will actually go to sleep.

Share a Little Lesson (SALL): Any tips on how to actually make them go to sleep? Using Benadryl, Nyquil, etc., does not count as a helpful tip especially if they’re not sick!

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Popping the Bubble

I have spent a decade plus a few more years raising my kids in a bubble.

I chose the bubble.

I owned the bubble.

I embraced the bubble.

PhilBillPaul and I discussed the bubble and we decided when we would let the bubble get a little bigger. Or if we invited others into our bubble.

I never really cared what others thought of our bubble. I was more concerned with keeping my kids in the bubble for as long as possible.

My bubble. My rules.

Get your own bubble. Don’t mess with ours.

The bubble got pretty thin in high school. For us, especially thin because it was our teen kids first experience in public school which was a shift in size (huge school) and environment in general.

The last two years I have tried to let more people in the bubble and let the kids experience more things because I want them to make decisions and make mistakes on their own. But while they’re still in our house I hope they will feel like there is a safety net to catch them.

I have shared before that we have diverse music interests at our house. PhilBillPaul grew up loving hard rock. I prefer soft rock and country. We were both glad we missed the rap and hip hop genre. When the kids were born we compromised and listened to contemporary Christian and I would sneak in a little country as they got older.

When I heard that Toby Keith would be in Atlanta performing with Montgomery Gentry on September 11th, I knew that was a concert I didn’t want to miss. PhilBillPaul even likes his music. Country rock with very little banjo has potential for a nice date night.

At the last minute we got two more tickets and Roger Leroy and her friend Sharté came with us.

Toby Keith concert 9/11/08

It was a patriotic celebration and several tributes and songs moved me to tears.

What I didn’t expect was another kind of celebration.

A drinking celebration. Loads and loads of drinking.

Such an opportunity to expand the bubble for Roger Leroy.

Side note: I’m not responsible for Sharté’s bubble.

Here is a big clue that you are really old. And have been living in a bubble for a long time.

PhilBillPaul spent the first 30 minutes of the concert flipping his around in every direction and pointing on drunk people in various stages of drunken inappropriate behavior.

It’s not that I was immune to it. I guess I wasn’t as shocked because I’ve been to Nashville for 3 years now. He pointed out that the last concert he had been to was a Christian music festival we all went as a family.

Once he calmed down enough to try to enjoy the music, his 17 year-old daughter starting pointing out people.

We used this opportunity in between songs and during the band set-up to have lively discussion about important little lessons the girls could take from this concert including:

  • If you think the soft drinks are expensive at a concert, check out the price of alcohol.
  • If you are an idiot before drinking, you are an even bigger idiot when you drink.
  • Parents and their children are watching you be a drunk idiot.
  • “Get Drunk and Be Somebody” is a song title and should not be taken literally.
  • Grown men peeing on a wall in the parking lot is just bad manners.
  • Your mother would not be proud of you if she could see you like we saw you.

As we left the concert, we talked about how it would change the world if they made everyone take a breathalyzer test before they got in their cars at events like concerts and sporting events that sell alcohol.

But it appears this little company has taken matters into their own hands.

DUI Solution

We’re not sure if Jethro in the overalls with his underwear showing was the driver – welcome to Georgia. Roger Leroy made this astute observation concerning career choice…

“I don’t think it would be a very fun job to drive drunk people around.”

I know I won’t always be with them. I know they’ll be exposed to far worse as they go out into the world.

Since the bubble has popped, I hope I let them see enough idiots so they won’t choose to become idiots themselves.

But I also know this parenting gig is a crap shoot and we all just do the best we can and pray they stay safe and know how much we love them.

Life Lesson (LL): You can make the conscious choice to have tons of fun in life without ever taking a drink – I really do know this because that’s a decision I made when I was a teenager.

Share a Life Lesson (SALL): Any good stories you can share to help teach our kids how to not turn into drunk idiots?

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Winner for Wife of the Year!

I know I said that we could all vote but since I made up the award, I also made up the rules and therefore am allowed to change them.

First, I’d like to just say that I know it is a hard job to be a wife and *good enough* daughter-in-law when you find yourself in a no-win situation. I know that for many of you, living in your no-win circumstances creates more stress to the already hard job of, not just being married, but of staying married. So to Ann, Peggy, Tammy, Lisa and all the other “not good enough” wives out there, I bow to your struggle and hope you can hear my applause as I clap for you sitting at my laptop!

I don’t miss the irony of the fact that these bad mother-in-law situations are based on the very relationship that every one of us should be supporting. Women banding together to support one another through life. What the heck is wrong with the mother-in-law who doesn’t get that?

Um, probably a subject for another day.

Meanwhile, I must give you the update before I announce the winner.

Granny is gone and I miss her already.

She keeps the house running smoothly, does more laundry than is humanly possible and makes me feel a little less crazy…

A little less crazy…because she sees what pig-children we’re raising and she knows I’ve tried for all these years to show them the right way.

A little less crazy…because she hears their smart mouths and knows that this has never been acceptable and I haven’t given up.

A little less crazy…because she sees her firstborn PhilBillPaul’s quirks (a.k.a. annoying habits) and knows I’m not a total nag. They bug her too!

Most importantly, Granny has kept coming back for over 20 years and has never made me feel judged or made me feel like I wasn’t “good enough” for her son or a “good enough” mother to her grandchildren.

I just wanted to be sure you all know that I don’t take that for granted.

So when she calls from the Atlanta airport on a layover and wants to come stay for a week, you can understand why I welcome her with open arms!

As for the WINNER of Wife of the Year…

It really isn’t me because Granny makes it too easy.

Melinda and Diane are contenders because their MILs actually live with them but I think once you establish your boundaries and get into a routine, that would be a good thing…even Melinda admitted her MIL isn’t that much trouble and they both say they get childcare help which is a bonus no matter what!

JOANNE IS THE WINNER!!!!

Because 5 & 1/2 weeks is too long for a house guest, I don’t care who it is!! Then she did it again two years later for 6 weeks. WOO-HOO!!

Or we could ask her why she invited her back???

But sometimes the reasons show themselves later.

I’m pretty sure they have shown themselves since she shared this…

She now lives 8 miles from us since my FIL passed on Thanksgiving.

I must say that the kids love her and my husband does in small doses, like dinner or the movies. I’m the one who listens to her concerns, gives her practical advice, and makes her laugh when she’s down.

The line that got me though was this one that is a perfect little lesson we could all learn from…

It turns out that not expecting much from her for myself has been really good for our relationship and we have now started to become friends!

Congratulations Joanne and what a gift you have given your husband, your family and your MIL by making her a part of your life.

Just in case they haven’t noticed, I did!

Thanks to all of you for being candid and sharing – it’s exactly the kind of thing that I hope will continue to happen here often!

As opposed to you all laughing at my issues and dysfunction while keeping yours hidden. (tiny lol)

Truly, you’re all winners in my book!

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Little Lesson #7 Teenager Dating Tips

I am often asked what our dating *rules* are at the Humphreys house.

People seem to be fascinated that we have three teenagers at home while they usually only have one or maybe two. Almost seems like they are gloating that their family planning was better executed than ours.

Or maybe I’m just defensive about our lack of planning. Go figure. Yes, I’m tired. Is it showing?

PhilBillPaul and I have a list that we’ve discussed at length made up as we’ve gone along this journey of parenthood.

Rule number one

No dating until they are 16.

It kept things simple and uncomplicated and we announced this rule early. I think we may have started chanting it when they started kindergarten.

The definition of dating for us is getting in a car and going somewhere without adult chaperones. We like to be crystal clear with our definitions because it seems that their full-time job is twisting our words, looking for loopholes and the Never Enough Syndrome.

We have strong, personal feelings that no adolescent needs to have a boyfriend or girlfriend any earlier. We’re still not convinced they need one at 16 but we’re trying to remember the joys of youth and a still-developing brain.

We did have a few *special* visitors at the house before they were 16. We even took them to a movie with us and that means we ALL went to the same movie and sat in the same row and everything.

It’s a real bonding time – double dating with your parents – they love it!

Okay, maybe not so much but I will say it gives you an idea of how interested the dating candidate is if they’ll go to a movie with you and your mom and dad.
(I can also spot a brown noser a mile away so that doesn’t work for me!)

Rule number two

The individual who would like to go on an actual date with a Humphreys teen must come to the house to meet the family and participate in what I like to refer to as “The Interrogation Dinner.”

Roger Leroy has given the dinner a more friendly name. She calls it “The Stupid Home Date” and places special emphasis on the word stupid.

The Interrogation Dinner involves sitting down to dinner with all of us. I make no secret that we will be conducting an interrogation and I tell the potential date just that.

These are just a few things we look for as we start the interrogation:

1) Do they make eye contact with us? That’s huge for me.
2) Do they speak clearly or mumble?
3) Do they answer our questions or try to dodge them?

We ask them to share things like:

1) Tell us about your family
2) Tell us about school…how are your grades, what classes you’re taking, etc.
3) Tell us about your job…you do have a job, don’t you?

We end with:

1) We’d like your cell phone number and who is your service provider?*
2) Spell your last name and what will we find if we Google you?
3) One of us usually says to the other, “Did you get their social security number?”


*Major bonus if they have the same cell phone carrier as your family. Or not. You’ll have to weigh this one carefully.

The girls spend lots of time during the dinner saying things like, “They’re just kidding.”

And we counter with a deadpan, “No, we’re not.”

We love to gauge their responses and stress levels. You can really learn a lot about a person over dinner. 🙂

We know it’s hard to hang at the Humphreys house and we want them to know what they’re getting into before they invest their time and money with one of our precious teens.

We end with:

Has _______ (insert teen’s name) told you we are absolute freaks about car safety?

To which Roger Leroy recently replied in a flat voice as she rolled her eyes, “Oh yeah, my mom was in a coma for like 11 days…”

The date candidate was duly impressed. He has completed the first phase of our approval and they’re in their 4th week of dating. Woo-hoo.

Bonus points if:

1) They are nice to Scary Baby and the wiener dogs
2) They interact well with the other siblings
3) They actually eat while we interrogate & don’t lose their appetite

Rule number three

The date must be planned in advance and no changes are allowed after they leave the house. Tell us where you’re going, who will be there and what time you’ll be home (within our pre-set curfew). They know that we will and we have shown up where they are suppose to be and they darn well better be there.

We really “go with our gut” and we’re not afraid to share that with the kids. There is a lot of intuition that plays into this. We have welcomed each guest who they have wanted to have over for “The Home Date” but they haven’t all passed with flying colors. We’re trying to teach them how to trust their intuition as well. Because sometimes that’s all you have. And sometimes that will save you in a bad situation. It may even save your life.

We’re no experts and have done plenty of things wrong and will continue to make mistakes. We will also continue to parent and make them abide by our rules while they live in our home.

Three rules. And somehow they still find ways to make it difficult. I know this is their job. To push us up against the wall and see if they can wear us out. I’m worn out. PhilBillPaul is worn out. Lucky for them, being worn out isn’t the same as giving up. We will not surrender!

Little Lesson (LL): There is no perfect system. Just be involved and get to know who they are with.

Share a Little Lesson (SALL): Please, please share your dating tips, rules, or thoughts here. We all need each other’s help!!

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Little Lesson #6
Day One of Summer

For us, Day One of Summer was officially yesterday.

On Wednesday evening, PhilBillPaul and I enjoyed a lovely dinner out by ourselves and we had an animated discussion on starting the summer off by making a solid, serious plan for regaining control at our house.

Crazy things were discussed like getting our kids to do their chores every day. The chores that we consider a normal part of being a family member.

We got even crazier and thought we would sit down and talk to our lovely children about all of us working together to create a peaceful environment at home. We thought we could all start fresh and have a nice, relaxing summer.

Still trying to help them connect the dots about this simple fact:

“Mom won’t yell if you did the things we’ve asked you to do since you were three.”

We’re tough, I tell you. Here are some of the unreasonable things we keep reminding nagging them about…

“The rules haven’t changed.”

“Work before play.”

“Clean up your own mess.”

“Make your bed.”

“Brush your teeth.”

“Put toliet paper in the bathroom.”

“Hair brushes don’t belong on the kitchen counter.”

“Bath towels belong on your hook, not the floor.”

“Beach towels are not to be used as bath towels.”

And my all-time favorite because I just want one place in my whole house untouched by sticky hands and dirty feet…

“Stay out of our bedroom.”

Imagine my delight when we got home to find a water glass on my night stand that wasn’t mine, the TV set at a volume I’ve never listened to in my life and American Idol’s season finale deleted from my Tivo.

Oh yes, Mama Bear said someone has eaten my porridge, slept in my bed and left a big trail of evidence.

I won’t even go into the *story* that we got a.k.a. THE BIG LIE that kept getting bigger.

So our first day of summer was spent contemplating how long two of the three teens are grounded.

So much for our peace treaty.

Okay, I’ll stop now. As you can see, my expectations are way too high. This is all my fault.

Everyone would be a lot happier if I took more Valium and never left my bedroom.

I’ll let you know how Day Two goes…

Little Lesson (LL): The fun never ends.

Share a Little Lesson (SALL): What unreasonable things are you requiring your kids to do this summer? Eating, sleeping and going places doesn’t count.

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