Month: February 2010

Grocery Budget Needs Tweaking

Posted on Updated on

To get right to the point, my family eats a lot. I’m the one in the grocery store with the overflowing cart full of food. People often race me to the checkout because they don’t want to get stuck in line behind me. I hear comments like, “Wow! You must have a big family.” I usually just smile, avert my eyes, and dig my coupons out of my purse. After I pay, I then struggle to get two carts out of the grocery store. For some reason it never fits back into one. This strikes me as odd.

Trying to stick to a budget recently (this is a first), I announced to my children I was not replacing food the minute it was gone. Pure “deer-in-the-headlights” look from all of them. By their reactions, it was the equivalent of telling them they couldn’t watch TV for the rest of their lives. I firmly stated, “If you finish a bag of chips in two days, they’re gone. It’s that simple.”

My son was mortified. My teenager asked if we were poor (she was completely serious). I explained I was tired of running to the store every few days. “It gets expensive,” I said. “Plus, when we’re only out of three things, I never come home with less than twenty.” (Apparently we all need a little more discipline.)

On the upside, I told them milk was the exception. Our toddler needs it and all seven of us drink it. We go through 4 gallons in less than a week (I know somewhere I’m making a dairy farmer very happy).

Even my father’s a little surprised by our milk consumption. He visited a few months ago and accompanied me during one of my many grocery store trips. He said, “Didn’t you just buy milk? (There were four more gallons in my cart.) I said, “Yep! I sure did.” I bet he’s glad he only had two kids, one of which never even drank it.

Since I’ve vowed to save money and make the food last longer, I tried grocery shopping at one of those warehouse stores. It didn’t seem to make a very big difference in my wallet. I also quickly realized I’d need a bigger house to store all the food. Where are you supposed to store four super-sized bottles of ketchup? Does a person really need 30 bags of microwave popcorn? And forget trying to keep four bunches of bananas from turning brown unless you live with apes.

With the exception of my six-month paper towel purchase, I don’t think warehouse stores really helped my grocery bill. Another downside, the John Tesh Radio Show shared some disturbing facts about shopping in bulk. Tesh quoted data that revealed, “People who tend to buy in bulk, tend to eat more.” So, are we fat now, too? Since learning this fact, warehouse shopping has come to a screeching halt.

I have to confess, I did like buying toilet paper in bulk. I still wouldn’t care if I had an entire closet full of Charmin. I hate running out. And talk about a necessity. On the contrary, I have a friend who has an entire closet full of beer. He’s in his late 80s. I’m pretty sure by that age you can buy anything you want in bulk. It’s all about priorities I guess.

In the meantime, I’m trying to stick to my grocery list and only go to the store when I’m not hungry. Don’t the experts advise these rules?

Even so, it’s not entirely working. Everyday, someone complains we’re out of something and they’re miserable. I’ve also reached my monthly quota and there’s still two weeks left in the month. What the? My plan definitely needs some tweaking. On the upside, I guess we’ll all look good come springtime and maybe someone will invite us over for dinner. I’ll bring the toilet paper!

Courtesy of the Atchison Globe

Small Town Burglar Scores Big

Posted on Updated on

When my husband called out to me in his serious tone the other night, I knew something was up. I walked in the room to see our small town as the top story on the Kansas City news. I was so excited. As I listened, my mood drastically changed. Just when I had started to get a little lax about locking all my doors, Atchison became the lead story because of burglaries.

While searching to buy a home here four years ago, our realtor told me our town is so safe, people leave their keys in their car. Then I heard someone had their car stolen when they did this. Apparently word spread to the wrong people.

A neighbor also informed us they don’t even lock their doors. I thought that was very cool being from Phoenix. It’s extremely different there. More people equals more crime. A person would never leave their house unlocked unless they were trying to get their insurance company to replace all their stuff.

As a child, my parents put the fear of God in me. Their house is still like Fort Knox. Even visitors can’t get in. You even need a key to get out of their house. I’ve never understood that one. What if there’s a fire? Would they really have time to unlock a dead bolt? Wouldn’t the key melt from the heat of the flames?

Upon hearing the story of the burglar, I decided I better tell my children. This stirred various reactions. My son seemed a little excited, probably because he likes danger. I reminded him, he’s a little too nonchalant about locking a particular door. He didn’t seem to grasp the importance of my little safety speech. In a sarcastic, matter of fact voice, I said, “Fine. You’re room is the closest to that door anyway.” Then I walked away laughing under my breath.

My 9-year-old was concerned with what the burglar was stealing. When I mentioned flat screen TVs were included, she insisted that was ridiculous. She thought they were permanently hung on the wall. This might explain why she does flips, kart-wheels and other stunts involving air and high-speed, inches from our TV.

My 4-year-old immediately burst into tears. This surprised me because the girl is fearless. She was convinced the “bad guys” were coming to our house that night. I believe I had put the fear of God in her just like my parents. Am I my mother after all? A little fear would do my daughter some good. Despite our rule to not answer the door, she once handed me a package when I got out of the shower. She has since promised to never answer the door again. This lasted approximately one day. I continue to race her to the door anytime we have a visitor.

I felt bad for my teenager. Coincidentally, she had two babysitting jobs the following day and night. Although I don’t consider myself extremely brave, I told her if she heard any weird noises or got scared, to call me and I’d be over immediately. I expected a call within the first half hour. The girl has bionic hearing, unless of course I’m asking her to do her chores.

When she got home, she told me a friend had texted her with the news his neighbor had just been robbed. I thought she was kidding. She didn’t even call. I guess she’s more courageous than I thought.

To help catch the thief, the news reporter suggested calling the police if you saw anything out of the ordinary. I have to say, I’m not the best person to rely on for this. Once when I was in junior high, playing outside with a friend, we saw two men loading furniture into a van down the street. I innocently said to my friend, “Are they moving?” We shrugged it off and proceeded to play.

The next day we were summoned to the principal’s office. Turned out they weren’t moving. Oops. My friend and I were greeted by two police officers and told we were the only witnesses. Obviously I wasn’t much help. I highly recommend people not ask me to watch their house while they’re on vacation.

Now that the thief has been apprehended, we can all sleep soundly again. And a big “thank you” to our law enforcement for their long hours and hard work. Atchison is safe once again!

Courtesy of the Atchison Globe

My Texting Teen

Posted on

Beautiful Miranda

When we decided to get our teenage daughter a cell phone last Christmas, it wasn’t because she insisted she was the only teenager on earth that didn’t have one. It also wasn’t because she tried to wear us down by begging for one since she was 10-years-old. My husband and I decided she was responsible enough now and we needed to know where she was for safety reasons. With our family stretching to three places at once on any given day, it became more of a need than want. Now it’s a whole lot easier to get a hold of her.

This makes me wonder what in the world our parents did to keep track of us, or better yet, us of them.

After dinosaurs and before great advancements in technology, I think people were able to just get away. Before cell phones and texting, my parents left the phone number to the movie theater with our sitter (isn’t that a recording?). I’m pretty sure they just wanted a few hours alone and didn’t want to answer questions like, “Can we finish the carton of ice cream?” They made it clear they only wanted to be contacted if our house was on fire (that does qualify as an emergency).

Nowadays, cell phones for teens are as common as peanut butter and jelly for a toddler. Even my parents use them and text on occasion. Still, they are eons away from reaching the number of texts their granddaughter is sending.

In the first month our daughter had her cell phone, she sent and received over 8,000 texts. Her current average is over 11,000 a month. My husband and I only average 400 texts a month combined (thank God we have unlimited texting). I’ve become accustomed to seeing the top of her head more than her face (I think her eyes are still hazel-green) because she’s always looking down at her phone watching her fingers burn up the keypad.

After a Google search to find the average number of texts teenagers send and receive, I discovered she was normal. A headline that popped up repeatedly read: “Teen Girl Sends 14,528 Text Messages in 1 Month.” The girl’s father ended up with a 440-page phone bill! That’s nothing. Atchison could have easily made the headlines. My daughter informed me her best friend’s first month tallied over 16,000 text messages. Good golly, what in the world did she have to say?

I’ve slowly begun to grasp this whole concept and send texts, too. It really forces a person to get to the point quickly. This is challenging for me and has to be for women in general simply because we use more words in a day then men.

I humbly admit, my daughter had to teach me how to text. I didn’t know my phone could guess the word I was trying to type before I even finished. How great is that! She also turned off the sound to my beeping keypad because it annoyed her (another option I didn’t know existed).

Even though I choose to spell out every word in it’s entirety, she prefers to use abbreviations. I think that fits her age better than mine. When I get cute abbreviations from my friends, I don’t always know what they mean. Luckily, I have a walking, talking, breathing dictionary to interpret for me.

With rules in place for cell phone use in our house, like turning it in at night and no texting during mealtimes, things are relatively peaceful in our household. When they aren’t, the first privilege to go is her phone. She’s actually said we gave it to her, just to take it away.

I have to admit, texting really is easier and quicker than leaving a voice mail. Before I can barely press send, my daughter has already responded. How in the world does she type that fast … I think her monthly texting average answers that question.

Courtesy of the Atchison Globe

(I’m happy to say, since this column was published, my teenager has greatly decreased the amount of texts she sends.  Miracles do happen!)

Hope Quote

Posted on Updated on

My favorite quote from my 4-year-old, Hope the other day….

“It worked.  It worked.  I read Abby two stories and she fell asleep.  I’m a genius!”