Mean Girls, Cliques, and the Beauty of having a Child who Doesn’t Really Get it…

I HATE mean girls. Unfortunately, I can recall at least a few times in my youth when I think I acted like one. Not because I truly was a mean girl, but because I wanted to fit in with those girls and be accepted. Gah, what was I thinking? If I only I could go back and have a re-do. I think having a daughter is a way to show us women the errors of our younger days and make us question everything we did growing up. It’s like a constant flashback into our past.

My 11-year-old daughter, E, is sweet and usually just wants to fit in. Basically me as I was at 11 years old, except she has Celiac Disease, Alopecia and some intellectual disabilities added in. Mean girls just gravitate towards her like a heat-seeking missile. But mean girls have gotten smarter since my day – now they are not quite so obvious. They’re little master manipulators who, when you speak about them to teachers and parents, the adults think and say, “she’s so sweet and such a good behaving girl.” Right – she’s the one spreading rumors about other girls and dropping F-bombs at recess. And I won’t even touch on how these “sweet/mean girls” treat kids like mine who don’t go to the same church on Sunday. Sometimes being left out of everything at that age can be just as bad as if these girls were just outright nasty. It’s madness and it’s heartbreaking from a parent’s perspective.

But I guess I’m kind of lucky: my sweet, quirky, awesome daughter lives in her own world and is basically oblivious to much of the meanness. It’s me who is bothered the most by it. She has “friends” who don’t invite her over to play, who only come over to ask her to play as a last resort, and who never ask her to do anything. And E typically doesn’t think twice about it. Only yesterday did she FINALLY tell a mean girl in our neighborhood, “no” when she came and asked her to play, after she asked a neighbor kid right in front of E. But the satisfaction I felt was short-lived when I realized that E’s feelings were actually a little hurt.

So now the challenge is trying to raise E to have confidence and at the same time not be arrogant, to have empathy for others and yet not get taken advantage of, and to take the time to listen to others and not lose herself in the process. Most of all, I just want her to be “nice.”  I’m not trying to change the world or anything, but if more of us parents could strive to raise our children this way, maybe at least a few good human beings would come out of it.

-J

Why Can’t My Kids Just Get Along???

So there I was, in a hospital bed, holding my brand-new baby girl, when hubbs brought our then 3-year-old son (N) in to meet his sister.  N walked right over to us and said, “where’s my sister” and was less than impressed when he realized that his baby sister (E) really was a baby and wouldn’t be up running around with him anytime soon.  I think that moment has pretty much defined the rest of their relationship…

They are now 13 and 10 and just cannot stop bickering. They don’t physically fight thank God, because E can hold her own and would probably beat the crap out of N, no matter how big he is getting. Spending time with either of them individually is great – they typically act the way they have been raised to behave. But put those two together and it’s like like Rocky and Apollo Creed, like Donald and Hillary, like Tupac and Biggie – it’s maddening. And I don’t know how to fix it.

  • I’ve tried spending more one-on-one time with each of them and having their dad do the same.
  • I try to make consequences for their actions as fair as can be (I try to keep my end goal – raise them to be good, well-rounded adults, as well as my more immediate goal – try not to breed resentment against their sibling in mind).
  • I reward N for his good grades, helping around the house, etc. (he is more on track and cleans up after himself), but I refrain from comparing them to each other.
  • I remind N (in private) that E has some diagnosed difficulties and although she can be challenging to be around sometimes, it shows what a great person he is when he accepts that and treats her right.
  • I remind E all the time about all the things that make her wonderful and why I am so lucky to be her mom. I truly do try to tell her these things all the time but especially when I can see her getting frustrated.
  • And I ALWAYS tell them when they are mad at me “I love you, even when I’m mad or you are mad at me,” because you just never know what the next moment is going to bring.

Here is an actual example of bickering from last night, while the three of us were playing Skipbo. There were 4 piles of cards lying in front of us, 3 of them had 8’s showing –

N: Wow, there’s triple 8’s

Me: Yep

E: Double 8’s

N: Triple

E: I call it double

N: It’s triple, E! Mom, tell E its triple!

Me: Does it really matter? Somebody put down a 9

E: Double 8’s

N: (throws down cards) I’m not playing anymore if E’s going to mess around

Me: (looking at N) You are not quitting. Yes it is triple. E, it is triple, you know it’s triple and are just trying to annoy your brother. Knock it off.

E: Why can’t I call it double?

And then it was my turn and I had two 9’s so we no longer had a triple (thank God). But that is just a small taste of the constant, unnecessary bickering.

Will these kids ever grow out of it or am I destined to have two bickering adult-children?

-j.

 

The Countdown is On

The last few weeks have been CRAZY, and I haven’t taken the time to update my blog. I realized this morning that this is my outlet, my me-thing, so I need to take at least a few minutes every week or so to write down what’s going on. Who knows, maybe somebody out there in cyber space is going thru the same crazy things as me and needs to read my thoughts as much as I need to put them in writing…

It’s tough being a military family. For those who aren’t in the military, I think it’s easy to forget about the sacrifices that the youngest members of the military family (our kids) make. I often hear that “kids are resilient, they bounce back quick”  when we talk about how moving affects military kids, and I’m sure my kids will be OK. In fact, I’ll be all up in their business this summer making sure that they are indeed, OK. But the fact remains that in a little over 2 weeks (holy cow, only 2 weeks) my son and daughter will be forced again to leave their friends, their home, their schools, their sports teams, and their familiar surroundings, to move YET AGAIN for the military. We are actually pretty lucky, my kids have only had to move three times, and we are hoping this is our last move. But I do worry about them.

E, my 10-year-old daughter, is typically my handful. She has Celiac Disease, alopecia, hashimoto’s thyroiditis and eye problems. She has also been diagnosed with a mild conduct disorder, anxiety, and learning disabilities (as well as a below-average IQ, but we aren’t sure just how accurate that was).  With all that, she is still the sweetest girl and would do anything for anybody and on the days I can get her to focus and listen to me, I enjoy her immensely.  It has taken a couple of years to get her the help she needs at school and I wonder if I will be starting over once we move? She thinks she has several friends but I see the way they treat her and know they get annoyed with her, so I worry about her making new friends too.

N, my 13-year-old, has Type 1 Diabetes. He also currently has a broken tendon in his finger (mallet finger) that may require surgery.  Because we are so close to moving, we can’t do anything here (see, craziness). He’s like a clumsy baby deer on his long legs. He’s a good kid, but a typical boy who loves to irritate his sister. His personality is almost a perfect mix of my hubbs’ and mine – he is sometimes outgoing (like hubbs) and sometimes introverted (like me). My concern for him is that, like me, he appreciates being alone and I don’t want him to isolate himself once we move.  An acquaintance of his committed suicide earlier this year and it was a wake-up call for us. I’ve already got him signed up for golf and we are planning fishing trips for after we move, so hopefully that helps.

It’s much easier for me to leave, although I am starting to feel a little bit sad. I’m sad not because we are leaving Oklahoma, but because this assignment turned out completely different than we thought it would. Hubbs thought it would greatly impact his career, and that he might even retire here – it didn’t and he can’t get out of here fast enough. I thought I was going to have a great civil service job and that we would settle here until the kids finished school – I had a so-so job that I left right after N’s diabetes diagnosis because I felt that my supervision wanted me to choose between my family and my job.

And now I am leaving behind the only “career” I have ever known and trying something else that allows for more flexibility for my family, since E will most likely be diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in the next few years.  I am leaving behind the basketball moms that I have come to love and will miss them, and I have one friend here that I already miss because she too is moving and her life is just as crazy as mine (another military family).

Here’s what my former “homey” house looks like now:

Living Room.jpgN Room.jpg

Did I mention that this house has been on the market over 100 days, has dropped $20K, has only had 5 showings, and has had NO OFFERS!

Like I said, military life is tough – for all of us, not just the active duty member.

-j.

5 Reasons Why I Will Never Win “Mother of the Year”

For every good deed I do as a parent, it seems there is an equal inadequacy that makes me feel like a failure (similar to Newton’s 3rd Law).  It’s so easy to get caught up comparing ourselves to other parents, that it sometimes feels only natural to question your own parenting skills and wonder how it can look so easy for others. In that spirit, I’ve been thinking lately about why I am not “Mother of the Year” material, and not likely to ever be…

1- I can’t stand stinky, sweaty boys lying around on my furniture. N will come in with neighborhood kids who have all been outside playing basketball or fishing for hours and they will sprawl out on my couch.  Perhaps it’s like OCD kicking in but I immediately want to sweep them off my furniture and hit it with the Febreeze. Does this not bother other parents???

2-  I love kids, I truly do, but I love them more in moderation. Kids (who are not my own) who are here so often they feel comfortable walking in my bedroom to ask me questions, who know what snacks we keep stocked in our pantry, or the ones who think my living room is a gym, are probably here too much. I’ve found myself wanting to make a STOP/GO sign to affix to the front door to let kids know if my kids can play, and whether or not it’s okay to knock and ask.  I’ll sit and play games with them, make them all lunch/snacks, and even watch movies with them – in MODERATION.

3- I don’t like meeting other parents that I have nothing in common with. I know, that’s a kind of dumb statement because how do I know I have nothing in common with them if I’ve never met them? Well, take this for example – E met a girl at school last year who was mean to her half the year, friends with her the rest. E begged me and begged me to meet her mom so she could have a play-date with her. Throughout the school year she told me how this girl’s mom got the crap beat out of her by her boyfriend and went thru rehab (which I then had to explain to my then 9-year-old what rehab is).  We’re a military family subject to a different set of rules, so to speak. Not to mention, I don’t want or need anybody’s relationship drama. I did meet this lady at the end-of-the-school-year party and while we were both nice enough to each other, most of our time spent next to each other was in silence (because we have nothing in common). My kids really want me to be “best friends” with their friends’ parents, but they don’t realize that it doesn’t always work that way.

4- I don’t support the PTA/PTO or any Fundraisers. Not because I am against raising money for my kids’ schools but in the case of the PTA/PTO, I tried one year and the women were mean and very cliquey. It was not at all like the friendly atmosphere I had envisioned. Where we live now I don’t typically support the fundraisers for 2 reasons

  • We aren’t from here so our “circle” is just us. We don’t really know anybody (unless it is parents whose kids are also selling the same stuff) so I think it’s crappy that these fundraisers have special prizes for the kids who sell XX items. Yeah, that’s great – explain that to my kid who can only sell like 9 when everybody else is selling over 100.
  • Secondly, I don’t agree with what the fundraisers are for. You want to raise money to buy microwaves so kids like my daughter, who can’t eat the lunch at school because it has gluten, can warm up her lunch, I’m in. But if you want to raise money so a teacher can get an iPad for her classroom, I’m out. I don’t think that is a necessity, especially in a state (Oklahoma) where the budget is so lacking that they are cutting some schools down to 4 day weeks, getting rid of teachers, and talking about closing some schools.

5- I treat my kids differently. Try as I might, my kids are so very different and I have to tailor my parenting to each. I’m no expert (clearly), but I think this is frowned upon. N is like me – introverted, sensitive, a little more quiet (unless his sugar is high), and appreciates being by himself. E is literally the exactly opposite – she has to go, go, go, is somewhat outgoing, usually can’t stop talking, and is incapable of being alone. When I’m mad at N for something, I know I don’t need to harp on him and beat the issue to death. He’s sensitive and will see that I am disappointed and he will feel bad. E, on the other hand – I’ll get mad at her and she couldn’t care less. But if I put her in timeout by herself somewhere, she will feel the repercussions because she hates to be alone.  Some in my circle think I favor N and am easier on him. Not true, I think it’s just easier for me to discipline him because he’s so much like me.

But the biggest reason I am not winning “Mother of the Year” anytime soon is….I FORGOT EASTER!

6- We are not a religious family. N and I are baptized Catholic, Hubbs and E are not. For many reasons I don’t really follow my Catholic faith anymore and prior to moving to Oklahoma we attended a non-denominational church in Utah that we really liked (that we will hopefully go back to). Anyway, the reason this is important is because as my family was reminding me that I suck because I forgot Easter, I asked them why do they think we even celebrate Easter, and only N really had a close answer. E wants to know, and it is my fault for not continuing with our reading of the Bible that we were doing, or taking her to kids church (another reason I suck), but she was just irritated that I forgot Easter because she was looking forward to a new toy. This is kinda how the conversation went (on Saturday, the day prior to Easter) while we were en route to a friend’s house for dinner:

*Note that expletives will be denoted with ________

Hubbs, speaking quietly: “So, did you get some candy for Easter?”

Me: “Why, when’s Easter? Oh ________, is it this weekend?”

Hubbs: “Are you ________ me? It’s tomorrow!”

Me: “Seriously? __________. You didn’t pick up any candy?”

Hubbs: “You’re the CEO, I thought you were getting the candy?”

Me: “Why would I get the candy? I ________ forgot it was Easter this weekend.”

N (from the backseat): “Mom, did you seriously forget Easter?”

E to N: “Mom didn’t forget Easter, she’s getting me a toy from the Easter Bunny!”

And so it went… we did rush to Target and got some last-minute Easter candy and a kit to color eggs, which ended up being fun because we hadn’t colored eggs in forever. And I planned a last-minute Easter egg hunt with some coins, nails (to confuse them), and pieces of paper with things like “vacuum out mom’s car,” and “go to the driving range with dad” printed on them inside. It actually ended up being a great day. The Easter Bunny can suck it.

So there you have it, the top 5 (with a bonus #6) reasons why I will probably never win “Mother of the Year.”  Anybody else just skating by?

A Dysfunctional Vacation: Graceland, The Dixie Stampede, High Blood Sugar, Snow, and…Marky Mark???

Sometimes I find myself so frustrated with my new life (stay-at-home mom with a Type 1 diabetic child and a celiac child) that I want to cry. Realizing that many, many people have challenges more difficult than what I face, I still can’t help but miss the days BDC (before diabetes and celiac).  This is probably never more true than while on vacation. We are moving soon and decided that before we head back west, we should take a trip to see two places I have wanted to see since back when I was a youngster in the Air Force: Graceland (I was in tech school right outside of Memphis) and Branson, Missouri (my first assignment was Whiteman AFB, MO). So my hubbs, bless his heart, planned a trip to take me.

So off we go – me, hubbs, my two ducklings, and our dog.

  • Side note: traveling with a dog sucks. Daisy is a 7 pound malti-poo who hates the car and whines until the 2nd day of the trip, when she finally realizes she is not going to the vet. To add insult to injury, the pet fees at hotels can be ridiculous. Really, Hilton and Marriott should think about charging based on the size of the dog because my 7 pound dog sleeps and likes to hang out in her kennel. The $100 fee in Branson was crazy. But that is a whole different rant for another day.

 

Daisy.jpg

Our first stop was Memphis, where we went to “The Pyramid,” the giant Bass Pro Shop that inspired me to get a crossbow to take fishing.  Then we hit up what E and I really wanted to see…GRACELAND!  It was awesome and we loved it. Even 13-year-old crabby N appreciated it. E and I have been singing Suspicious Minds ever since. Unfortunately the restaurant inside the Graceland complex did not cater to the gluten-free crowd and we were starving, so we did race through part of it. But I would definitely go back. We love Elvis!

 

Lisa Marie

It was in Memphis that two things happened: I think E got glutened and N started to have some high blood sugar issues. Thinking back, I’ve noticed that E got really restless and irritable in the past, on the nights we believe that she got glutened. That’s what happened in Memphis. She was hot (nobody else was), her tummy hurt, and she couldn’t fall asleep. She was restless and went from her bed in the hotel to mine, messed with pillows, went to the bathroom, etc. for hours. Finally it dawned on me that she probably had gluten while we were traveling that day and I was able to pat her back and help her get to sleep.

N’s issue, on the other hand, was not so easy to remedy. We recently started him on the pump and are still kind of new to the ways of the pump so we weren’t sure what to do. We examined the pump and it seemed to be working but it didn’t seem like anything was in the tube running to his infusion site. So we changed out his infusion site (thank God we brought extras) and off we went to Branson. We were extra vigilant about carb counting and still his blood sugar was running high (like 230-300). By the next day in Branson I called his endocrinologist’s office and talked to them about raising his basal rate and checking for ketones (negative), which we did and then things seemed to smooth out after another day or two. He’s still in honeymoon and we thought he was coming out of it but nope – we are still playing that game.

In Branson the one thing I really wanted to do was go to the Dixie Stampede, which we did and it was AWESOME. We all loved it. And kudos to them for having a gluten-free dinner available, including a cookie for dessert so E didn’t feel left out. While at the Dixie Stampede the photographer mentioned to us that he heard Mark Wahlberg was in town.  E and I listen to a lot of 90’s on 9 (XM radio) so she is well versed in 90’s music and knew darn well who Mark Wahlberg was. She couldn’t stop looking for “Marky Mark” after that and was planning on what she was going to say to him, and wishing she brought her Thunder hat (I know…makes no sense but it’s her favorite hat) for him to sign, etc. Unfortunately Marky Mark did not show up at our Dixie Stampede. But we did stalk him on Twitter for a few days and saw a picture of him golfing in Branson (where it was snowing and freezing).

Mark Wahlberg

 

Here’s how some of us may remember Marky Mark:

Marky Mark

Overall a great vacation, even if we did decide to come home a couple days early because it was warmer in Oklahoma. We ate at this amazing Taco place in Arkansas called Tacos 4 Life which completely catered to E’s gluten-free needs. I’ll have to review it, but in the meantime, if you are in Arkansas, I’d highly recommend it.

-J

Gluten-Free Dining Out Ideas

Today I would normally be making and posting my gluten-free menu for the upcoming week. However, this week is Spring Break for us so we will be doing a lot of dining out – which is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it gives me a break from the kitchen, but dining out with a Celiac and figuring out the carb count for our diabetic can be difficult. With that in mind, I thought I would share some of favorite spots. It is important to note up front though, that sometimes (but for obvious reasons we don’t know how often) my daughter (the Celiac in our family) is asymptomatic when exposed to gluten.

BJ’s Restaurant and Brew House – BJ’s is my FAVORITE place to eat out if we have my daughter with us. Overall they have a little bit of everything on their menu and their GF menu is great too. My daughter and I usually get a GF cheese pizza to share and then bowls of tomato basil soup (no croutons).

Red Robin – We have eaten here several times because my daughter loves being able to get a “normal” cheeseburger and fries meal, thanks to the GF bun and fries being fried separately. Good for Celiacs, bad for my IBS 😦

Outback Steakhouse – I’ll be honest, I am usually not a fan of Outback. I have had a few back experiences there and I find the blooming onion to be disgusting. However, my daughter, who typically doesn’t like meat much, thinks their GF ribs are the cat’s meow. Plus, they usually do them as a kid’s meal to save us some coin.

Jason’s Deli –  This is more for me because Jason’s Deli is overall my very favorite place to eat. Ours here is across town and we hadn’t been since Celiac struck our family, so we were pleasantly surprised at the GF choices when we went last week. We both had a sandwich on the GF bread (which was good if a little crumbly) and the tomato-basil soup is GF – which makes the drive for crumbly bread worth it!

Schlotzsky’s –  I haven’t been here to eat GF but my daughter went here with another GF friend and loved their GF bun. She highly recommends it.

Chick Fil A – Waffle fries cooked separately…thanks, Chick Fil A!

Wendy’s – Last year during Spring Break is when we found out that E has Celiac, starting our lifestyle change. We quickly learned that fast food options are few and very far in between. We don’t eat a lot of fast food, but when in a pinch, we get baked potatoes from Wendy’s.

Here are some places we avoid at all costs due to bad experiences or very limited selection (resulting in 10-year-old’s temper flaring while hungry):

  • McDonald’s (hardly anything on the menu) – although we will shoot through the drive thru for drinks (I swear there is something added to their Coke to make it more addictive)
  • Santa Fe Steakhouse (although to be fair, we just had one really bad experience)
  • Burger King (got glutened and was in very bad pain)
  • Mexican Restaurants (this is tough because we love Mexican food, but unless it is one of our local places that we trust, we don’t typically eat it on the road)
  • Chinese Restaurants – never tried it. I would imagine it would be a cross contamination nightmare in the kitchen. But I’ve heard good things about Pei Wei
  • Any Buffet – We haven’t been to a buffet as a family since my son’s diabetes diagnosis. Counting carbs must be a pain the butt. And with Celiac, too much risk of cross-contamination

Hope this list helps someone and feel free to comment and share!

-J

 

Courteous, Patient, Kind…Abstract Ideas?

So there I was, in the drop off lane at my son’s middle school this morning. Two cars were PARKED for unloading in front of me: a black Tahoe and some little compact thing. So I, being the ever obedient citizen that I am, dumped N off and then went to the left, around the PARKED cars as instructed by the “Duty Teacher.”  Dr. Queen of the Middle School (the Principal – not well thought of) has sent out newsletters warning us to follow the Duty Teacher’s instructions or basically you will lose your licence, your car, and your kid, so I am sure to pay attention and follow their instructions.

So off I went. I proceeded towards the exit and to my left, the black Tahoe came speeding by me, cut in front of me and then ran the stop sign to turn right. All on the middle school/next door elementary school grounds. It’s times like this that I wish I were an undercover police officer with one of those lights I could throw on top of my car and chase that sucker down. Even my daughter said, “that was NOT nice.”

Police Officer Clipart - Free Clip Art

It left me wondering: are simple manners and concepts like being courteous, patient and kind just abstract ideas now? Will my kids miss out on people like that? I’d like to think that I have instilled those concepts in them, and for now they seem good about being thoughtful of others, but am I doing enough? I think far too often we get so wrapped up in our heads that we forget to slow down and just be kind.

Abstract

I Tried That! Extreme Couponing

When my husband deployed to Afghanistan for a year, I was busy, overwhelmed, and lonely. I had a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old who demanded most of my attention, I was just finishing up my bachelors degree online (back when it was ALL writing papers), and we had a new puppy that needed potty training. Again, it was a very busy and yet lonely time.  I needed a hobby – something to focus on at night besides the fact that one of the toothbrush holder holes was empty and that hubbs’ pillow no longer smelled like him (because after holding out as long as I could, I finally broke down and washed my sheets).

My cousin had raved and raved about how great and easy couponing was. She loved to talk about her couponing “scores”  and would even share pictures of her hauls. So when she invited me to a coupon party where a trained coupon expert (yes, apparently this is a real thing) teaches you how to coupon, I thought…why not? It’ll give me something to do until Hubbs gets home.

The “coupon expert” it turned out, was a newspaper peddler. I’m not sure if she made a commission or not, but she did offer us a subscription to the paper at a discounted rate. Which was cool because one of the things you will quickly notice in extreme couponing is…YOU MUST HAVE ACCESS TO THE SUNDAY NEWSPAPER TO BE SUCCESSFUL. And here’s why:

  • To coupon (as taught in this class anyway), you go to a website called GrocerySmarts, you select your state, and then you can either see all deals or filter by whatever store you are shopping at. Here is a snippet of deals in Utah this week (I chose Utah because there is where I learned to coupon, and because Oklahoma doesn’t have many extreme coupon opportunities – more on that later):

GrocerySmarts

The first column denotes how good the savings are, the second column is what the product is, the third is the original price, the fourth column is the coupons required, and the final column is the final price paid.

  • Now this is where access to the paper, or at least access to the coupons that come in the Sunday paper, are necessary. Notice the line for Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent (3rd entry), at the end of the 4th column it states “SS-2/5.”  This means Smart Saver February 5th. Unless you get Smart Saver as a mailer (we don’t where I live in Oklahoma) you need to get it from the Sunday paper.

After my couponing class I did sign up for the Sunday paper, much to my husband’s irritation, and by the time my hubbs got home from his deployment, I had so much toothpaste, tampons, maxi-pads, floss, pencils, notebook paper, etc. (that I either got for FREE or seriously cheap) that I ended up storing it in the tops of kitchen cabinets! My husband would go to get a dinner plate and a box of Playtex would fall out from the top of the cupboard…ha! But, to get to that point is very time-consuming so I didn’t stick with it after that year. Here is what I learned about extreme couponing:

  • You must have the Sunday newspaper (or at least access to the coupons in that paper) to really be successful.
  • It is extremely time-consuming.
  • You must keep your coupons organized. RP (Red Plums) by date, SS (Smart Saver) by date, Proctor & Gamble by date, etc. And if you want to look really cool, you need a fancy binder complete with baseball card type pocket pages for your coupons.
  • Getting the weekly mailers helps – we don’t get the coupons in the mail in Oklahoma. I don’t know why, but it is a bummer.
  • Following the site krazycouponlady is helpful for more than just grocery shopping. They post about online deals too and I’ve used more than a handful of their promo codes during the holidays.
    • Bradsdeals is helpful too, especially during the holidays.
  • Not every state is as “couponer-friendly” as the other. Utah has a lot of stores that favor couponers while Oklahoma doesn’t seem to have as many.
  • Several stores will allow you to stack coupons, meaning you can use a store coupon and a manufacturers coupon for double the savings. For instance, Target might have a store coupon for Country Crock Margarine and Country Crock may also have a coupon out there. Every store is different so you have to read each store’s policy.
  • It is really easy to start buying crap you don’t need just because it is “almost free.” I found myself buying birthday gifts for my kids’ fictional future friends, just because the stuff was cheap. Most of it was either sold during a yard sale when we moved or donated to Goodwill.
  • It becomes more of a game to see what you can get and for how cheap, than actual grocery shopping.

 

Does anybody else have any tips about couponing???

 

I Tried That! My Experience as a Test Juror.

I realized today that I find it so easy to express my thoughts about negative experiences I’ve had, and too often I neglect to share about positive experiences. So for today at least, I’m sharing a surprisingly positive experience that I recently had as, who would have guessed, a TEST JUROR!

Since becoming a stay-at-home-mom (or SAHM as seems to be the common lingo) I’ve kept my eyes peeled for ways to earn some coin from home because:

1- My kids (diabetic, celiac, thyroid problems, etc.) have a zillion doctor’s appointments and scheduling them around a new, part-time job would be hectic.

2- Since becoming a SAHM I’ve become even more of an introvert and honestly, prefer to be in my house. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m clinically agoraphobic or anything, but my anxiety certainly kicks up a notch once I back out of my driveway.

3- I can get so much crap done during the week now that I couldn’t while I was working (obviously). No longer do we spend our weekends cleaning and doing laundry; I take care of that during the week so the weekends are for fun and relaxing.

With all that said, I read on some blog about being an online test juror so off I went to “know-it-all Google” to read up on it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many positive reviews about it. I can’t even remember where I read about JuryTest, but that is one that I chose to sign up with. You can find the link here JuryTest

I created an account and never really expected to hear anything from them because like I said, reviews online about being a test juror are so finicky. So I just kind of forgot about it. Then about a month and a half ago (about 6 months after I signed up) I received an email saying they had a case in my area and asked if I was interested in participating. The original email said I would be compensated  $40 for 2 hours of my time. I replied that I was interested and 2 days later received the email letting me know that I could log in and that the case was available for my review. The email stated that “the case involves listening to two sides of a legal case…and answering all of the questions,” and that the payment would be $60.

Before I give you the real scoop, you should know that I love law and order. Not the TV show, but I thoroughly enjoy rules, regulations, and the consequences that go with not following them. I’m not saying all rules, guidelines, etc. are perfect, but I believe that if you don’t like them, there is typically a process in place to change them. The only TV shows I care to watch are true crime shows (and the occasional crime-based drama), I enjoy reading murder mysteries, and the only part of People Magazine I care to read is the section on crime (if it’s there).  I like facts and logic. Being a test juror is right up my alley.

My Alley.jpg

So here is what you really need to know:

  • You sign a confidentiality agreement when you sign-up to be a juror. Unfortunately so much time has passed between then and when you get your first case that who knows what the heck it said. I’ll assume it was similar to the one signed in Fifty Shades of Grey and I just won’t discuss any intimate details of the case 🙂
  • I had to listen (it was audio with some slides) to the plaintiff’s attorney present their case for about 40 minutes.
  • I then had to listen (again, audio with some slides) to the defendant’s attorney present their case for about 30 minutes.
  • Then I had to answer about 100 questions. The majority of these questions were multiple choice but there were some that required feedback. I enjoyed giving my real opinion so I didn’t mind much but it was time-consuming.
  • When all was said and done I think it took me about 2.5 hours to listen to the arguments and answer the questions.
  • I actually got paid $60 to my pay-pal account!  The payment took about 3 weeks but the email said it could take up to that long.

Overall, I would say it was a great experience for someone like me and I would definitely do it again. Could I make a living off of it? No. But when you go from making $40/hour to being a SAHM, that $60 in your pay-pal account seems like a lot of pennies.

Has anyone else had experience as a test juror???

Sometimes We Just Need That One Friend…

It was the day before I was scheduled to have my hysterectomy and I was FREAKING out already when I got the email: my ex-BFF asked if it would be alright if she came to see me while I was in the hospital. I didn’t know how to respond. I didn’t want to be rude and tell her to piss off, but at the same time the end of our friendship literally drove me into therapy. Actual, pay somebody to listen to me talk, therapy. To complicate matters further, my husband works with her – like sits right next to her and has to interact with her daily. So, I didn’t want to make things any messier for him than they already were. Unfortunately for me, in the time we had been in Oklahoma, she had become my one and only friend (I put all my eggs in one basket). I later learned that manipulators like her can spot people like me a mile away and smoothly ease into the folds of our lives, which she did. But that’s a whole different blog post for another day.

So anyway, I didn’t know how to respond to her email and feeling quite alone, I started day-drinking some wine (which is NEVER a good idea for me because not only am I a light-weight, but alcohol frequently gives me hives), sucked up my pride and went over to a fellow military wife’s house to ask for advice. At this time she was just an acquaintance – someone whose kids played with my kids. Who I knew I had a few things in common with, but who I also had never had a real, “deep” conversation with. But I was desperate, so off I went…

I sat there and told her the long, sometimes embarrassing story of the beginning and ending of my friendship with my “friend,” the almost ending of my marriage, and how it was bothering me to be losing my chance to be a mother again (although I knew we weren’t have more children – strange, I know). Through it all, she just listened – offered supportive words here and there, but mostly just listened. And it was while sitting at this woman’s kitchen bar that I realized how nice it was to have someone to just talk to (that wasn’t obligated to listen) and how much I missed having a friend. She has since become my closest confidant in Oklahoma, a real friend that I know I can call upon if needed. I hope that in the time since that November day, I have reciprocated that feeling of friendship for her.

Doubt