I looked at our credit card bill recently and said to my husband.
“If we stop feeding the kids, we will save a lot of money. This is all grocery bills.”
My husband was not at all open to the idea of not feeding our children. It’s so sad when people can’t think outside the box.
Instead we are trying to figure out how to spend less money on food. For many years I believed that you had to spend money to save money! But alas it turns out, you have to actually not spend money to save money.
There is a certain grocery store in our town that is like the grocery store mob chain. They are in practically every shopping plaza and have somehow prevented all other competing food stores from opening up.
They have great food, excellent customer service and with no competition, way too high prices. They seem to have lots of “Buy one, get one free” sales but somehow that just means I end up with 16 cans of hearts of palm and still a $4,000 (approximately) grocery bill.
But I am on a mission to find discounted food and I am willing to search from sea to shining sea to find it. Or you know, drive 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, I decide to go to a wholesale grocery store at 5 pm on a Sunday with 16 month old Cash in tow. There are several problems with this scenario. 5 pm at any grocery store on a Sunday is usually mad craziness. Plus, I was navigating an unknown store with a toddler at dinner time. (I always seem to suffer from passionate, misguided ambition.)
Despite discontent from my toddler Cash, I was doing a pretty good job of making him laugh by pretending to steal his pretzels while finding what I needed in the store. That’s the thing about buying in bulk – it’s just not that hard to spot a container of pretzels the size of an elephant.
But for some reason, I can’t find the dried seaweed. My kids love this stuff so I’m not leaving without it. Around and around I go but it’s nowhere. I ask a few employees who give me vacant looks and mumble something about only doing produce or meat or whatever. Apparently seaweed isn’t big enough to get its own guy.
Then I have the best idea! Ask a customer!! They’re the ones who know where everything is!
So I see this couple and say to them, “Hey, do you happen to know where the seaweed is? I can’t find it anywhere.”
And the guy responds in this not so nice tone, “In the ocean!”
And then his wife starts cackling ridiculously hard as if she’s married to Jimmy Fallon.
Now in my younger days, I would have had some kind of snappy come back for these insensitive clods who clearly weren’t understanding the desperation of my situation with a whiny toddler and the need for this seaweed that keeps all my children happy and I’m hoping healthy.
And I don’t really appreciate being mocked when I just drove three towns over to get some discounted food.
But I have softened in my years and realize that life is too short to get into a shouting match in the middle of bulk dry goods. I believe in peace, love and forgiveness. Plus you never know who might be carrying a weapon in South Florida so better to steer clear of the haters.
I just smile politely at this guy’s self declared comedic prowess and walk away. I did find my seaweed and everything else on the list. Of course, the bill was huge. But you know what they say – you have to spend money to save money.
Sure, there are a million articles on how to stay organized this school year. But how many are there about NOT staying organized? Zero.
Obviously this is a real oversight and I am here to fill the void.
So here is everything you can do to NOT be organized this school year….
Leave everything that comes home from school in a big pile and hope it sorts itself out.
Every time someone mentions color coded folders, do a whisky shot.
Don’t open any emails from the school or your children’s teachers.
When the teacher asks why you never signed up for a conference, just say, “If a conference is meant to be, it will be.”
Instead of checking your kids’ homework, just assume they completed everything to their highest potential.
When it comes to your kids’ after school schedule, write nothing down and just wing it.
Laminate everything – their backpacks, their school uniforms, their shoes. If you are feeling extra ambitious, laminate their beds and desks too.
Never refer to a calendar and always just say, “Sure! I’ll be there!” every time someone asks you to volunteer.
When they ask why you didn’t show up to volunteer, just say, “I was there! You didn’t see me? I was completely there. I saw you. You didn’t see me?”
Get hooks with their names on them but never hang up the hooks.
Prepare nothing the night before school so you can frantically be packing lunches, fixing hair and making breakfast – all why screaming, “We’re running late! Everyone hustle!! We’re late!!”
Keep 385 unsharpened pencils in your house and 1 sharpened one whose location is unknown.
My dad, his girlfriend and her teenage son were kind enough to take care of our 5 kids for a night so Rick and I could have an anniversary getaway. Apparently it takes 3 people to take care of our village.
I wanted our babysitting crew to have everything they needed so I picked this up before we left…
The nice thing about going on a romantic getaway with Rick to South Beach is that you can count his CBS billboards on the way….
As soon as we arrive in South Beach, we find out our swanky hotel is hosting a drum circle and you can imagine our relief that we brought our drum set.
It’s so weird when you have kids and then you are away from them. Sometimes you don’t really know what to do with yourself. Should I go to the beach? Should I drink cocktails? Should I shop? Walk around? Play the drums? Take care of other people’s kids?
By the way, this is what we look like without children…
We ended up at a fantastic restaurant called the Drunken Dragon. And then, as we walked around afterward, we saw one of those people who has to just stand there holding up a sign for hours to promote a business.
Me: “I feel bad for them. That has to be one of the most boring jobs ever.”
Rick: “And the pay can’t be very high.”
And then we got a little closer. And this was the person…
I think whatever this mannequin is getting paid, it’s more than enough.
We had agreed to be back home on Sunday by 1 pm. So at 12:45 pm, I texted….
“Just boarding a flight to the Bahamas.”
We did get back at 12:56 and then waited in the driveway for 4 minutes so we didn’t miss out on a minute of solitude. The trio did a great job taking care of our kids and I know at least my dad is up to doing it again very very soon.
First year of marriage: We’re married! Look at all this cool stuff we got for our wedding. We just zapped it with one of those thingamajiggys at the store and people bought it for us. We have 14 serving bowls! And fine china!! And a weird bongo drum from a distant hippy relative. In what world is a bongo drum an appropriate wedding gift?!
Let’s have a dinner party! Wait – I don’t know how to cook anything. Just put everything in the china cabinet. We’ll use it soon. I’m sure of it!
Second year of marriage: Let’s try to get pregnant! Because babies seem fun!
Third year of marriage: We have a baby! What’s with all the crying? I thought they were just supposed to sleep, smile and coo. Why did we take 6 weeks of childbirth classes and only a 1 hour class in newborn care?! Seems like the professionals were taking care of my childbirth. Where are the professionals now?
Fourth year of marriage: I want another baby. I know the first one is exhausting and frustrating but I just love her so much.
Fifth year of marriage: We have a second baby. She’s so cute. I love her so much too. Now they are both crying. I really need a blowout. And a pedicure. And 14 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Sixth year of marriage: Rich – I mean, Rick. Of course, I know your name. I’m just so tired.
Seventh year of marriage: Maybe we need a weekend away for just the two of us. Ugh never mind, the kids are sick. They are throwing up. Honey, find those serving bowls we got for our wedding. Put them by each kid’s bed so they don’t puke on the floor.
Eighth year of marriage: Honey, I love you so much but are you sure we aren’t allowed to date other people? Like not all all? You’re sure? No, that’s cool. I mean, I wasn’t saying that I wanted to date other people. I just wanted to confirm.
Ninth year of marriage: We have twins! I’m not a math genius but I think that means we have 4 kids. Wow. Even more crying. Mostly me. When I was young and free, I never imagined I would wipe this many butts.
Tenth year of marriage: All the kids really love that bongo drum. What a fantastic wedding gift that was! We should give anyone getting married a bongo drum.
Eleventh year of marriage: This is really a lot of children. How do kids have so much energy? Sometimes I wish they would just relax a little. Wow, one more kid! I was not expecting that. OMG, he’s adorable. I love this guy. He’s so sweet. But why do the other children talk so much?
Twelfth year of marriage: How can we still be so excited by a kid walking for the first time? But we totally are. I now know like 6 meals that I make in the crockpot. They take about 4 hours to cook but that gives me lots of time to fold laundry and help our daughter with her impossible 4th grade homework.
I am so in love with our family and our life and you.
And I am so very tired.
When I asked my daughter Dylan how she wanted to celebrate her 10th birthday – I was thinking, “Let’s take a few of her friends to the movies!” and she was thinking, “Let’s throw a carnival in our backyard.”
“But Dolphin Tale Two is out and it looks adorable!” I told her.
And I must have been very convincing because she responded, “We’ll go see it after my carnival birthday party!”
The whole thing sounded like a lot of DIY work but I’m always overly ambitious in life anyway and if the party bombed I would just say, “Oh this is how we do it in New York!”
So I emailed a friend who had thrown a super adorable carnival party a few years earlier and explained that I wanted to do a very slacker reproduction of her fabulous party and she gave me some websites to order my carnival necessities.
Then my children and I came up with a list of games – and if you ever get coerced into a carnival party by a spirited 10 year old, just do these games…
1. Ring toss (purchased very cheaply)
2. Bean bag toss (AKA corn hole – you own this or somebody you know does)
3. Pop-A-Shot (Basketball net and ball)
4. Ping Pong Toss (Mason jars and ping pong balls)
5. Shoot and Spray (Kids attempt to knock ping pong balls off the top of empty water bottles with a water shooter)
6. Spoon the Ducks (Kids try to pick up mini ducks floating in a baby pool by holding a spoon in their mouths – the party kids LOVED this one)
7. Tattoos and Nail Polish
8. Guess How Many? (Kids tried to guess how many Dum Dums were in a vase – the winner won the lollipops.)
I had prizes for each game. I gave away things like fuzzy pens, cool erasers, yo-yos, bubbles and mini notepads). Because I believe in a socialist carnival where every kid is happy, kids won a prize at every game – no matter what their skill level. There is no crying at the carnival!
All the prizes went into their goody bags. (Note: you must label the goody bags with everyone’s individual name before the party starts or else it will be goody bag confusion mania.)
You also need an adult or teenager to work each game or else the whole thing falls apart.
Apparently everyone had a pretty good time at the carnival. I really wouldn’t know because I was busy trying to make popcorn in this old fashion popcorn machine. I just couldn’t get enough popped to meet the demand in a timely manner. Next time, I might use an old fashion microwave.
After about 45 minutes of carnival games, we ushered the kids out to the front of our house for a 30 minute circus act.
(Photo Credit: Jessica Herthel)
Now I am lucky enough to have a 15 year old neighbor who spends his summers actually performing IN THE CIRCUS.
For the few of you who do not have a next door neighbor who is a circus performer, find some kind of clown or lion tamer locally. (Note: I would advise against balloon animals because they just pop and make kids cry. See my earlier rule about no kids crying.)
After the performance, we did cake, pizza and then see you later!
I was pretty proud of myself. I mean, no, I didn’t have fancy carnival popcorn cupcakes like this…
And I didn’t have elephant rides.
And I didn’t let people guess my weight or age.
But the kids seemed to really like it.
Especially my girl Dylan.
(Photo Credit: Jessica Herthel)