Cheap must be in the genes (AND jeans)

You may recall my post several days ago about the shame I endure for the sake of a good bargain.  (Click here if you missed your chance to laugh at me and feel better about yourself.)  Well, it turns out that my “frugal” characteristic is a product of both nature and nurture.  It runs in the family.  My mom still rinses out Ziploc bags so she can reuse them.  And the only time I ever wore brand names growing up is if they had acid spills on them and we could buy them as “seconds” at some sketchy bargain basement.  Don’t get me started on the refilling of brand-name cereal boxes with generic tasteless substitutes and thinking we wouldn’t notice.

Well, my younger brother Greg lives in Tennessee and each year their newspaper hosts a Cheapest of the Cheap competition.  He’s been a finalist for the last three years.  This year, the cheap effort that won him honor was to avoid the cost of tennis lessons by posting videos of himself playing tennis on youtube.com and soliciting free advice.  Well, apparently all the stars posing as blue-light specials aligned themselves correctly in the universe because he won!  What did he win at a Cheapest of the Cheap celebration?, you might ask.  Well, get this.  He WON A THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!  (Okay, so it was really $999.99, but still!)

Here is a link to the newspaper article honoring him for his extraordinary cheapness:

Bad economy brings out the cheapest of the cheap: Check out the 50 top money-saving tips from this year’s contest

And here he is ladies, straight from his high-falootin’ newspaper photo shoot.  (Sorry, he’s taken. Wink, wink, Melinda!)

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So congratulations, Greg.  I know you’ll probably need most of that money for tennis lessons, but if you’re feeling generous. . .  I could really use a new pair of jeans that don’t have a cow poop pattern on one leg, and mom might benefit from a Costco-sized box of Ziploc bags.  Just a thought.

I bet you folks have some awesome cheap stories.  You sure won’t win a thousand bucks here, but share your wisdom as a public service.  What money saving strategies work for you (or did you have to endure as a child)?

Going postal

post-officeI wish stay-at-home moms got to stay at home more, because sometimes going places in public with children really bites.  I have a top ten list of places I hate to go with my children.  When you have three children in car seats, there is no such thing as a “run in and run out” errand.  The post office is high on the list of unpleasant outings, along with the DMV, doctor appointments, and Visiting teaching.

Maybe there’s just an unusually high percentage of grumpy postal workers in my neck of the woods, but I seriously cringe when I have to go INSIDE to take care of postal business.  I don’t know what it is, but my children walk into a post office and get a primal urge to run around in small circles.  It does not matter that we have a little chat about it in the car before we go inside.  Those retractable stand-in-line barrier things are of the devil (and also part of the reason that the bank is on my top-ten list).  I’m talking about these:

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I might as well be speaking Russian to  Japanese Snow Monkeys when I repeatedly ask my kids not to touch them.  The previously-threatened and then followed-through time-out that they recieve at home does not even deter them.  This picture represents the relationship between a four-year-old’s hands and those dumb retractable-belt barriers:

mothflameSo, anyway, I had to go to the post office Saturday.  The last two times I went were around the holidays, so you can understand why I’ve stayed away so long.  (One of those involved a federal offense where I left with unpurchased merchandise that I’d already written on because I simply could not stand in line any longer.  For the record, I have since returned and paid my debt to society.)  And in this particular post office in the past, my children were all yelled at by a “gentleman” behind the counter who firmly reminded them that there’s NO RUNNING.  So I gave the lecture, and my three little post-office demons and I walked in.  Luckily there were only a couple people in line, and I tried to use my mental powers to keep my children by my side while I purchased and addressed padded envelopes.  However, I refer you back to the pictures above, and you can guess what happened.  I called their names many times and reminded them to stay by me and stop running in circles like rabid terriers.

The lovely postal worker, however, could not refrain from also barking at them, so I was annoyed.  Again.  And when I went to the counter and paid, and she said to me, “Boy, they sure have a lot of energy today,” I kind of snapped a little.  I didn’t really go postal, but I was bugged.  I tried (unsuccessfully) to hide the snark as I said, “They always do.  They’re CHILDREN!.”  Then I concentrated on my PIN for my debit card, forced a smile, left, and promised myself for the 746th time since I had children to never return to the post office again.

So, um, Becca and The Queen, you’d better appreciate that chocolate!

What’s on your I’d-rather-brush-my-teeth-with-toe-jam-than-go-there-with-my-children list?  You know you have one.

General Conference Book Club Week 2: Elder Christofferson

01_06_chrisWelcome back to the General Conference Book Club.   If you’re new to the book club, you can find details by clicking here. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see so many people excited to participate last week.  Your insights were phenomenal.  For those who read and did not comment, we would love to hear from you too.  Your comments can be as simple or as elaborate as you feel compelled to share.  I felt strengthened just knowing that I was part of a “team” of individuals who were sincerely studying and trying to find personal application from the words of the living prophets and apostles.  Loved it.

The comments will remain open on the Week 1 talk by Elder Holland, so if you 1) are just joining us, 2) want to catch up, or 3) haven’t had a chance to read everyone’s insights, feel free to go back there.

So for week 2, we’ll turn our attention to a talk given during the Saturday morning session of General Conference, by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  He spoke about the blessings, promises, and protection assured to us through covenant keeping.  It’s a great talk.  I’m excited to study it this week, think about it, tie it into my scripture study, and then hear what you have to say about it.

>>Click here to find the talk entitled “The Power of Covenants” by Elder D. Todd Christofferson<<

His talk addresses covenants ranging from baptism to the temple, and the important role of the Holy Spirit in keeping those covenants.  The video below is a clip from (I believe) the PBS special done about Mormons, and experts both from within and outside of the Mormon faith define covenants and what role they play in temple worship.  I thought I’d throw it in as an additional resource as we study Elder Christofferson’s talk.

A few basic details (where there’s been a little confusion):

1.    Just a reminder that if you would like to get an update when others make comments on this talk/post, you have three choices:  A.) Under the Actions list below, click on “Comments RSS”  to subscribe to comments, or B.) When you leave a comment, before you click the “Submit comment” button, click the little box below it that says “Notify me…”.  If you don’t see either of those options, click on the title of this post; that will put it in a page by itself and you should find everything I referred to toward the bottom of the page.  Or C.) Come back to the post as often as you’d like and just read the latest comments.

2.  Leave your comments about this talk here on this post.

If you are looking at my main blog page where this post is followed by several other posts below it, you simply click the number next to the word “Comments:” directly beneath it,  or if you’re looking at this post in its own page, you can just type in the empty box entitled “Leave a comment.”

“Mom, you’re not going to like this…”

This entry was originally posted on August 21, 2008.  (I’m trying to rebuild my lost archives.)

droppedimage“Mom, you’re not going to like this…”

(That is how 4-year-old Clark’s confession began last night as he was putting on his pajamas,) “… but sometimes when we’re at Aunt Becca’s house and I go to the bathroom …” (uh oh, this is going to be bad.) … “I can’t reach the sink, so I just wash my hands in the toilet.”  I didn’t even believe him until he vigorously nodded his head up and down and said, “I’m serious, mom.”

“But Claaaaark, that only makes your hands dirtier!”

(with a look of regret) “Oops!  And I forgot soap, too.”

You can imagine Aunt Becca’s great joy at hearing the news, her mind reeling through the many times she’d asked him to go wash his hands so he could help her make cookies or dinner.  Of course, Daddy thought this was a hilarious story and all the boys laughed and laughed together.  I have no life lesson to attach to this story; it was just too good to not share.  Perhaps my biggest concern is his great pleasure at our reaction of shock and disgust.  This does not bode well for the future.  Sigh.

dscf2011

Worst jeans ever.

dscf2008So I mail-ordered a pair of jeans once. The company shall remain nameless (It starts with Cold, ends with Creek, and there’s something liquid in the middle). I really needed a new pair of jeans. And they were on clearance! And I really didn’t want to go jeans shopping with 3 children under the age of 5. And if I have to hire a babysitter to buy jeans, then I don’t have any money left to buy jeans. So I ordered them. And something completely unexpected happened: They fit! I was so delighted that they actually fit me on a one-shot mail-order wonder that I decided to overlook the painted floral design at the bottom of one of the pants legs. What a bargain.

So the first time that a stranger stopped me to tell me that there was something on my pants, I shrugged it off. But then after hundreds upon hundreds of people stared, tapped me on the shoulder or whispered amongst themselves, I started to get a complex. And then one day when my tactless brother told me it looked like there was cow poop on my pants, I resigned myself to the fact that my jeans sucked. Can’t people recognize a floral embellishment when they see one?

dscf2009(Go ahead, click on the picture.  I know you’re curious.)  Geesh!  Clearance, people!  Can’t you see they FIT me??  Well, I mean they did fit me before I “celebrated” the holidays all winter long and pushed their claim of “stretch” to the limits.  And while I took these pictures today, I noticed an Easter egg sticker smack dab in the middle of the butt.  Wonder how long that’s been there. . . .

dscf2010

So when have you endured shame for the sake of a bargain?