Sunday, April 11, 2010

Flashing gang signs?

heart I have no problem admitting that I am nerd…I have no problem admitting that I am raising 6 nerds in training…why does it pain me to say I married a nerd?

Last week while in Publix I ran into a fellow ihearter. I was explaining to Hondo that as we passed each other, with our binders and coupons in hand, she leaned over and said “I heart Publix?” my response was “Oh yea baby'”. Corny and kinda creepy huh? We exchanged coupons, trading for what we needed…and left with each others phone numbers, email addresses and a promise to call if we ran across a coupon book we were both looking for.

This began what I can only describe as a tribal roast.  Hondo started making gang symbols, over his heart in the shape of a heart saying that as we pass each other we can throw the sign up…Cassie began the I Heart Publix rap to the tune of row row row your boat…and Ben talked about getting shirts made up with our now universal gang symbol. They talked about secret initiation like sororities, that we could have our own society with leaders who have names like Sir Blinkie, Master Pealie, and Friar Hangtag BLAH BLAH BLAH…

Nothing is sacred with this crew….not even my coupons…

It may never be easy but it will always be with it.


I heart “I Heart Publix”

 Publix During Christmas my sister was telling me about a website called iheartpublix.  Where my new BFF Michelle lists all the latest sales and corresponding coupons.

Fast forward a week or two and I was walking out of Wal-Mart with Hondo having just spent $200 plus dollars…this was after $120.00 spent at Sam's and another $100.00 spent at Publix for meat. This would not take into account the extra runs we would make when I realized we did not have lettuce, the girls were out of shampoo and did not tell me…or heaven forbid we did not have sugar for sweet tea. I also was due a Petsmart run for dog food and cat litter. I was adding up the numbers in my head, whining out loud and vowing to find a way to save tribal money! Not to mention that this year I have had drastic cuts with furlough days…and there are still shoes to bought with my name on them!  I HAD to find a way to save a penny…heck a dollar! Double HECK…I had not bought one bottle of wine yet!

I remembered the website and thought it could not hurt to check it out.

You have to understand the cost to run a family this size…the amount of food and everyday items needed and the planning for just one grocery store run…to really understand what was at hand.

We have 8 people who shave….4 the face, 4 the legs…8 people washing laundry, their hair, their bodies and whatever dog rolled in the mud…we have 8 breakfasts, 2 who take their lunch everyday, 3 who take their lunch when needed, 8 who eat dinner…and 6 who eat all the  freaking time….two dogs who eat a lot…a cat who needs cat food and another dog who insists on also getting cat food for dinner…we need cat litter…deodorant for 16 armpits…shampoo, conditioner, gel, hairspray, lotion, sunscreen, soap,  makeup, body wash…light bulbs to help this tribe find their way out of the dark…toothbrushes, toothpaste, chap stick…Tide, Downey, dryer sheets…Comet, Windex, Softscrub, bleach, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, Kleenex, garbage bags….and oh my goodness how can I forget TOILET PAPER! All this for 8 people PLUS all the friends they can invite over in a weekend….

You get the picture?

I was in need of dire help!

I began this as any OCD person would.  I created my spread sheet…began to track my savings…got my coupon organizer together…and began to learn all the coupon lingo.

What I have realized is that I have a knack for keeping up with what coupons I have…how I can combine a manufacturers coupon with a store coupon to save more….and that I am totally and completely addicted to this website….I have withdrawals if I can not check it several times a day (thank you Iphone)…and that once again my husband has the patience of a saint (try checking out in the express lane with 10 items…20 coupons and people giving you the stink eye to see if your husband truly loves you)…but hey you learn as you go along right?

My greatest savings is listed below.  The cashier actually high fived me as we all jumped around, much to Noah’s embarrassment (he has vowed to NEVER go again). My receipt for this trip was as long as the driveway…yes we measured it!

Total Purchases$287.38 Total Saved
Total Spent Out of Pocket $53.88


So I have decided that I will try my hand at sharing the deals I find.

I have added a button at the top of the blog so that you can see my savings for the year.  I have gotten us down from roughly $250.00 per week to $95.00. There is no doubt that this number will drastically go down because I have been “stockpiling” (will explain that one later). This number includes EVERYTHING…paper goods, health and beauty, pet supplies, groceries, light bulbs and batteries, cleaning supplies…even gas cards for my new car! I have not made a Wal-Mart run in months…and let me tell you that I DO NOT MISS IT! The customer service, cleanliness and quality at Publix can not be beat!

Check out Michelle’s blog for the best savings around.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Email from Sir…

For those of you from Clarksville Tn. that read my blog…do you remember the Woolworths downtown? I don’t remember the prices…but I do remember that it was cheap cheap cheap. I also remember that Nick used to love to go in and sit at the counter and get a milkshake…there was a big haired lady ala Flo, from the TV show Alice….and all the grease you could stomach. Maybe not my generation…but I sure do remember it.

1957 sandwich menu from Woolworth's....
our generation's fast food.
If any of you have a doubt about what we kids paid for a coke and a sandwich at Woolworths in the 1950's, here's proof of the era we lived in........


It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Texas is a state of mind.

How ironic is it that I married a man from Texas. Like me Hondo was a nomadic child.  He lived in Michigan, went to college in Wisconsin and then finally settled in Texas to finish up and further his education. He oftens tells people that he left his heart in Texas.  I for one know this is not all together true because he brought it to Georgia and gave it to me.

My mother IS a Texan. No matter where my father was stationed, everyone knew my mother as the 'The Texan".  When asked her nationality, she would respond "Well, I am a Texan".  On our flagpole in Tennessee flew the Stars and Stripes...and then the Texas flag. Most vacations and holidays were spent somewhere in Texas.

So it is with a light step and a smile on my face that I board a plane periodically to visit our friends in Dallas.

Hondo and the boys had planned a weekend of golf and golf.  Megs and I had planned a weekend of girl stuff...which meant no dang plans AND a couple of trips to the mall. One of her emails actually included that I "check my liver at the door ".

Hondo has had the same "besties" for 20 plus years...that may be one of the best things about get the "besties" by default. How lucky am I that I really really like Kurt's wife...Megs? Kinda like the icing on the big ole Texas cake (because in Texas everything is big!).

We had a wonderful, relaxing time with Mike, Kurt and Megan...and can not wait until October to head back for a Cowboys game. 

I sucked at taking pictures....but it was because we were having so much fun.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.

DSC01750 DSC01751IMG_0022 The boys chilling after a game of golf.

If Mom ain’t happy, then no one is happy!

This was what I explained to Delvin….our “sales associate” at Nissan. 
Hondo has been looking at cars for several weeks. Having finally decided that the time had come, he narrowed his search to a Nissan or a Honda (big step down from his initial dreams of a Lexus or BMW).

On Tuesday he showed up with a dealer loaner.  A shiny 2010 Nissan Maxima with all the horse power any man could wish for.  He explained that it was a luxury sports car, then proceeded to show me as he drove 90 to nothing around every curvy road surrounding our house.

On Wednesday he asked me to meet him after school at the Nissan dealership to discuss available cars and prices. He also asked me to bring the Expedition, as that was the car he expected to trade in.

While Hondo has dreams of BMW’s, I had dreams of keeping the Expedition for myself, and trading in the family minivan. I know that I had hinted around…heck I even plead my case….not sure that he had taken me real serious.

His request to meet him with the Expedition lead to some interesting conversation about what car we “should” trade in… What makes more sense for a family our size…. What makes more sense considering the price of gas and insurance….What car would command the highest trade in value…What car I was more capable of driving considering the size of each car (this was by far the biggest blow to my fragile ego).

The compromise was that after discussion with the salesman regarding trade in value and final cost out of pocket for the new car, we would make our decision.

I was also given carte blanche  to negotiate any deal if I thought I could make a better deal.

I immediately got on line (you can find dang near anything online) and “googled” how to negotiate buying a car.

After meeting Hondo at the Nissan dealership we drove the Altima (a huge step down from the Maxima in quality and price)…and talked about the Honda Accord (Hondo had driven it earlier that day). We decided that driving the Maxima first might have been a mistake as it had ruined us for further test drives. Hondo, who is ever the realist, pulled me  off to the side to tell me that while he really really liked the Maxima, the reality was we could not afford that much car….and he was willing to settle on the more reasonable car…because it was after all only a car…and he was never really a car kinda guy….WHATEVER!

I reminded him about our deal….let me see what I could negotiate.

The conversation with Delvin went something like this…

Delvin –What is it going to take to put you in one of our cars?

Me-Well Delvin lets start with trade in.

Delvin-Here is what we are willing to offer for the van.

Me – Seriously Delvin? You are going to have to do better than that.

Delvin- What did you have in mind?

Me – $****

Delvin – No words…just laughing!

Me- Delvin, this is not a good start.

Delvin- Lets say you put down what you have listed as the down payment, trade in both the van and the Expedition…could you work a deal with that?

Me- Exactly what would you plan on me driving Delvin if we trade in both cars?  Are you going to come and shuttle the tribe to dance, work, golf, cheer and band practices?

Delvin- Ummm I didn’t think that one through, did I?

Me- Delvin, this is what we have to work with….$XXXX amount down, you take the minivan for $XXXX and we get the Maxima for the Altima price…and we will pay no more than $XXX amount of money for a monthly payment.  Work that deal Delvin and you have sold a car.

Delvin – Laughing again.

Delvin- Lets say you put down an extra $XXXX.

Me- Delvin let me stop you right there.  You can add money to the front, you can add money to the back…any way you look at it you are adding more money.  I am a Mom of 6 Delvin…I am one tough cookie.  I am not driving out of here in that minivan Delvin. Delvin have you ever heard them say “If Mom ain’t happy, then no one is happy?” Delvin do you want to be unhappy?

Delvin- “No maam!”

Me- Delvin it looks like we are not going to be able to come to an agreement.  We are going to take the kids for a bite to eat and discuss your offers.  We will get back to you.

Hondo and I went to the car to talk to the kids.  Hondo had not even put the key in the ignition and Delvin was knocking on the van window. 

“You drive a hard bargain, but, I believe we can work with your offer”.

SOOOOOOOOOOOO I am the proud owner of an Expedition (even if it made no sense at all to keep it)  and my man is driving the car he wanted.

I love it when a plan comes together.

It may never be easy (especially if you are Delvin) but it will always be worth it.
IMG_0039 IMG_0038 Saying Goodbye!IMG_0040 100_1498 100_1496

Monday, April 5, 2010

Giving back to our village.

Dallas and Deacon have been working for sometime as therapy dogs.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament.

A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact.

I had great plans for Dallas when we started this process.  I had plans of visiting adult facilities and children’s hospitals.  Like all the women in this family Dallas had plans of her own. 

It became apparent when Dallas was a puppy and I would take her to work with me that Dallas connected with children in crisis. Behavioral disorders, mental illness, emotional issues….all things that she can sense and know when and where she is needed. Deacon by default has come along for the ride.

Since Christmas we have been visiting some children in one of my schools that serves children with severe emotional behavior disorders and Autism. The look on the dogs face as I tell them it is “time to go to work” and the excitement that they have as we drive to the school is contagious.

I am always amazed that Dallas will sit and allow the kids to touch every hair on her foot (while we can not get near her nails to cut them), will smile pretty as they look at her teeth and measure how big they are, will catch 100 peanuts in a row as each child takes a turn to throw a handful and will lay peacefully as children lay on her (she is SO not a lap dog at home). She knows exactly what they need the moment she walks into the room.

Deacon was the mystery…not having been raised as a puppy with this job in mind…we had no idea how he would take to this role.  He has far surpassed any goals we set. While Dallas usually walks the room to visit with everyone…Deacon immediately seems to know who needs him the most that day. He enters the room scanning each child…picks his “mark” and then snuggles in for an hour of belly rubbing.  No matter what the crisis they just can not ignore him as he looks at them with soulful eyes…and climbs up into their lap with a grunt.

We are blessed in many ways in this family…this is one of the greatest blessings to me…I always feel refreshed, humbled and have a new sense of purpose after my weekly visits.

(I have blocked out the faces to protect the children's privacy)
MAMS 021 01 MAMS 022 01 (Isn’t my jacket the cutest?)MAMS 017 01 MAMS 018 01 MAMS 019 01 MAMS 020 01
It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.

The love of a tribe!

DSC01730springbreak2010 030 015 2010 021 springbreak2010 011 springbreak2010 021

What a goofy group!

By no means should anyone think that it is all rose petals, sweet nothings and laughter in our house.  The reality is that you can only get the funny pictures with this group…because no one can take a picture when sitting on top of a sibling while wrapping their cold hands around the others neck in an attempt to choke the crap out of them :)

For the most part we laugh a lot, we hold each other when we cry and while we may talk trash about each other…we will pummel you to a bloody pulp if we catch someone else talking about one of our own.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Snow days and lots of extra laundry!

newestt 017 newestt 003  newestt 013 newestt 014 Snow dayyy 027     Snow dayyy 021

We have had lots and lots of snow this year.  While it’s very pretty, gets us a few days off from school and the kids have “big fun” playing in it…I am OVER it.  I am tired of being cold and I am tired of having 100 extra loads of laundry to wash. The great thing about snow in Georgia is it melts fast!

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Basketball season comes to an end.


Allie ended her 8th grade cheer career at the end of basketball season. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it was a HUGE success and Allie made many memories.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


It’s all fun and games until someone barfs.

churchhhh Lock-in '09 027

My BFF Pam always says “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”.

I immediately thought of that saying when the kids told me what happened at the church lock in.  Apparently they had unlimited pizza and snacks all night. Several hours into the lock in the youth leaders had a Mountain Dew chugging contest. What happened next gives new meaning to soda spewing (gross I know but I am giggling as I type it). I have to scratch my head though at who would think this was a good idea?

The boy who won did not hold his soda very well and threw up all over the kids watching.  It made for a very animated story around my breakfast table the next morning, and for extra laundry (of course).

It also will be a story that will be told over and over and housed in the tribe archives.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Besties and Family

100_1469 100_1479  Noel.  ! 022 2010000 028 aquariummmm

I always get tickled at the pictures that I find on the kids cameras. Ahhhhh to be so carefree with so much of life left to live!

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.


Noel was awarded the Superintendants Scholar Award February 23rd. This award is given to Freshman with a 3.8-4.0 grade point average, who have been recommended by their teachers and administrators in recognition of academic success.

I am constantly amazed by this child of ours determination, commitment and poise.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Smile for the camera.




Cassie was the latest member of the tribe to get braces, bringing the total back up to 4 (I got mine off Thanksgiving). Of course this could not happen with out “Cassie drama”. 

The day that Cassie had her braces put on she would NOT keep her hands out of her mouth.  If I needed to talk to her, I was pretty sure I would find her in the bathroom with her mouth open looking in the mirror.

I tried every way possible to scare her into leaving the blasted things alone…of course nothing I said could take away her need to look, touch, poke and prod at them.

Sometime around 7PM on the night she got them I heard her screaming “Oh Mom, Oh Mom, get them off, get them off”. It seems as if Cassie had released the rubber bands, bent the wire, and had somehow gotten the wire wedged into the gum AND the inside of her cheek.

I quickly ran downstairs, pulled out my jewelry kit and grabbed a flashlight. I do believe if I say so myself I missed my calling.  I should have gone to dental school and not nursing school. It took some “reconnoitering” but I was able to remove all the bands and wires.

Unfortunately I had to call the dentist the next day, explain why she did not have the braces on her teeth….the ones she left their office with less than 24 hours before, and make an appointment for that afternoon to have them replaced.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they're going.

 DSC01731  DSC01735 01-09-2010 07;57;05PM DSC01732

Several years ago we took the kids picture beside this light post.  We have had 2 occasions  this school year to go back and recreate the picture. This time we did not allow them to hang on the light post (see 1/9/2010).

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Yet another artist in the tribe.


DSC01720 DSC01721 DSC01722 DSC01723

Allie had the privilege of  being invited to showcase her art at the Cultural Arts Center. March was National Youth Art Month and her mask was on display all month. The tribe turned out to ohhh and ahhh.

Of course every opportunity is a blog photo op.  I think by the sharp intake of breath by the ladies hosting the event, we were not supposed to pick up her mask to take the pictures.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.


Has it really been that long?


Well I am officially on Spring Break (gosh I love my job!)

I did not realize that it had been so long since I had sat down at the computer to blog…guess I will have a lot to say over the next couple of days.

It may never be easy but it will always be worth it.