Monday, May 30, 2011

Extreme Couponing?

Over the weekend, I did not do as much as I had planned, because I have this ridiculous tendency to extremely overestimate what one person working on her own can do in a weekend. But I did get one major project done. I cleaned out the closet/pantry type thingie in my breakfast area. When we were painting the house (2 YEARS AGO), this area got cluttered up with accumulated painting stuff and other junk. There is only one shelf in this area, no door and not even a clothes rod. So, a while back (1 YEAR AGO), I bought a metal shelving unit that would fit perfectly in that area with the intentions of putting the unit together and converting this wasted space to a pantry since I have no cupboard space to spare for food. One day this weekend, while Jamie was out with his BB riding bikes and watching movies, I tackled the closet. I was too ashamed of what it looked like before, so I also took no after pics, because you would not have any basis for comparison. But to give you an idea of what a big job this was, it took me four hours of concentrated, work only on this one closet, effort.

For background noise, I had TLC on the TV. TLC just happened to be running a marathon of Extreme Couponing. Oh. My. Stars. These people are nuts! How on earth do they find time to spend 60 hours a week on collecting coupons, organizing coupons, checking online coupon databases, calling in their orders days ahead of their actual shopping trip, etc. etc. etc.? I mean, yes, they got some fabulous bargains on their groceries. But they also dumpster dive to get more coupons? And spend $2,000 a year just on Sunday newspapers? And buy things they DO NOT NEED just because they are cheap? There was a lady on there who has something like 60 bags of diapers - and she does not have a baby! And there's the people who have shelving units all through their houses holding enough food stuffs and personal items to last their families for 5 years and they are still out shopping every week for more? And the people who have 40 boxes of cereal - stuff that will expire long before they can ever eat it all?

I don't understand that type of shopping. HOWEVER, I will admit that some of their ideas are pretty good and I will start adopting some of them WITHIN REASON to feed the bottomless pit my son has become. I absolutely will not be installing extra shelves throughout the house to hold the crap I don't use (already have a lot of that, thank you). But I will use coupons to buy stuff Jamie will eat. Previously, I had avoided coupons and just bought things generic or when they are on sale. But I do think trying to match coupons with sales sounds like a good idea. Of course, there are many products Jamie just can't eat because of his food allergies, but I will do what I can to save money.

So what about you? Are you more in the extreme couponer camp or are you like me, pretty much figure couponing at all can be a time suck you really can't afford? Where do you fit in?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Strings Saga Continues

Remember a while back when I lamented that Jamie would have to drop Strings/Orchestra for next year so he could take Robotics II, Advanced Android Programming and Webmastery? And then I was actually happy that Robotics II got canceled, because it meant Jamie could take Strings again? Well, all that was before the powers that be decided to add a reading class as required for 8th graders next year. Now, normally I would be all excited  for Jamie to take another reading class. It is important. BUT - now we're right back to Jamie not being able to take orchestra next year. Which means that he'll have to take private violin lessons all year to be deemed "eligible" for orchestra in high school. This is on top of the guitar lessons he wants to take (and I've been able to put off because there's a guitar club at school), enough food to feed an army (he's been eating double lunches at school the last few weeks not to mention how high my grocery bill will be this summer when he's home all day), new/nearly-new clothes and new shoes every three months, his normal medical expenses each month and enough gas to haul him hither and yon. If you are a praying person, please pray that the S.D. actually starts paying his child support. Also pray that other things in the works will come to pass. My kid appears to be a money-eating machine.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Now Taking Donations....

The Society for the Preservation of the Sanity of Mothers is now accepting donations in whatever form they are offered - whether groceries to feed the ever-ravenous, apparently hollow-legged teenaged offspring; clothing to fit said offspring who has now grown an alarming amount in the last five months; shoes to fit the feet that have zoomed in length, growing nearly two full shoe sizes; gasoline to run said offspring and his unofficially adopted brethren to their five million different activities; or first aid supplies to bandage and soothe all the bumps, bruises and aches caused by being a gangly boy with a penchant for tripping over his own feet. Donations accepted online and in person. ;-)

I was warned about boys and growth spurts. But I was not a believer until I experienced it for myself. Yowza!

Friday, May 13, 2011

On Growing Boys and Knobbly Knees

The other night, Jamie and I were sitting on the couch watching TV. The way he was sitting, I could see his arms from an angle I'd previously not noticed. His arms were skinny little sticks, and his elbows great big knobs in comparison. Then I noticed his legs and knees are the same way. Even with all his medications that kill his appetite, he still eats nearly constantly and obviously it is NOT enough. Oh, my poor child, you have been hit with the same metabolic quirk as your grandmother and uncle. I need to work seriously hard to fatten you up!

(This is a repost of a facebook note I posted today. Thought I'd share with my readers who do not get on fb.)

Monday, May 02, 2011

Bots, Part I

The competition did not go well. Several of the kids who came did NOTHING. Some of the kids who came obviously had never done anything to contribute, so I was baffled as to why they were allowed to come. One kid actually kept doing things he was told not to do. A few weeks ago, the school robotics club sponsor announced there would be no program next year.

I've decided that by-golly the kids who have worked hard and have a genuine interest will be back next year. I looked at the rules and community clubs or organizations are allowed to compete so long as they can prove everyone on the team falls within the allowed ages. Furthermore, the teams can be sponsored by an individual or entity in the form of cash or materials. It may be possible for a bot to be built, entry fees for the competition, transportation and hotel rooms can be gotten for less than $1,500. The rules state a club can also can use volunteer consultants, so long as the students themselves do all the work and the consultants merely provide instruction. Therefore, I'm going to lead a community robotics team next year. I have workbenches in my garage, I've found several marine technology websites by credible organizations that offer step-by-step instructions on building the underwater robots, I have several contacts in the petrochemical, technology and hobby fields whom I can ask to sponsor us, I know a few kids on the high school team whom I will ask to serve as consultants, and I will beg and borrow whatever tools necessary to get those kids to compete again next year.

Even if their school does decide to scrape together a program next year, I'm still going to ask the students I have in mind if they would want to do it as a neighborhood club, rather than going with the school. I really think we could do this, and I'm going to ask Jamie's friend's parents if they want to help. Of course, all of this is contingent upon if the rules continue to allow a community club to compete. I'll let you know in November or December when they post the rules if I will be sponsoring a robotics club of my own. Until I know whether or not I'll be allowed to lead a team, I'm not saying anything to Jamie or his friends. I don't want to get their hopes up for no reason.

P.S. I'm too exhausted to try to upload pictures from the competition tonight. Sometime this week after I wrap up my finals I'll post the pics under a post entitled, "Bots, Part II".

P.P.S.S. Because the Robotics II class has officially been canceled for next year, Jamie was put back in orchestra. I'm VERY happy about that!!!!