Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why the Mall and bathing suit shopping are considered "fun".....

There are very few things that I am allergic to in this world. At least, the kind of allergic that produces hives, shortness of breath and a severe need for an epi-pen.

The Mall is one of those things.
Bathing suits are the other.

More on the why of these facts may come later.

This was my quandary daughter is going to camp.
A camp where swimming is one of the activities.
And she just outgrew her swimsuit 30 seconds  before she started packing.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself..."Surely all you had to do is head to your retail job, shop the clearance rack, whip out your stack of discounts and walk away with a $5 bathing suit."   And I would totally love to report that those sequence of events happened.

Except it would be a bald faced lie.
 In the first place, the suits don't go on clearance for a few more weeks.
In the second place, we are simple people and have few issues with picky eaters or dressers.  Unless it comes to bathing suits. 
My daughter likes to use her suit to:  swim
Shocking, I know.  But her suit has to actually have more than 1/16 yd of fabric and stay in place should she decide to do something crazy... like...move...
This eliminates 92% of the bathing suits in the kid's dept and 99% of the bathing suits in the women's dept at my store.  (The remaining 1% being suits that even I refuse to wear for at least 20 more years, if at all)

Which left us with two options:
1) Go to the local, over priced sporting goods store that carries suits for people who plan on actually  swimming in their pool attire.

2) Go to the mall, where the out of my league nicer department stores are, and hope their suits went on clearance early.

The things I do for my children.   Sigh.

We went to the sporting goods store and found a  suit that fit all her criteria and didn't give me heart palpitations after looking at the price tag.  We then searched high and low for a sign to appear that said ALL SUITS 90% off.  

Nope.    Sigh.

We then searched high and low for ANY clearance sign.   And found one!
And there were two suits!
Too big. :(

So, I swallowed my couponing, discount hunting pride and brought the full priced suit to the register.
We made our purchase and moped  our way to the car where we made the decision to (gulp) head to the mall and see if maybe we could find the same type of suit for less $.

And we went.
And I got out of the car.
And I stepped foot into the mass of humanity and pre-teen day care unsupervised chaos mall.
And I did not die.

We made it through two stores before the perfume counters and  glossy non-clearance price tags caused my head to start swimming and my breathing  to become shallow.
I became so distraught and disoriented that my DD had to remind me which level and entrance we came in and ever so gently escort me to the life-giving fresh air of the parking lot.

We then decided to head for home.

It was on the way home that I realized how I could salvage both the day of shopping and my penny pinching fiscally responsible reputation.

I had coupons (of course).
Coupons that matched a cereal sale at the grocery store.  The same grocery store that also had a coupon for $3.50 off a gallon of milk if you bought the cereal that was on sale. 
And since cereal and milk are the two things we are most definitely NOT allergic to and always using at our we went to the grocery store!

And to make it all better...the cereal boxes had more coupons stuck to them.
Yes, we might have done a little happy dance in the aisle.  :)
So we headed home with our coupon cereal:

Our coupon milk:

And my much needed coupon coffee:

And tried to recover from the whole ordeal.

I gave my DD strict instructions to NOT take the tags off the full priced bathing suit.
I still have 3 days to find a suit for less $$  And a new, full bag of  coupon coffee....

Now don't you fret.  I did not leave the cheaper of the two clearance bathing suits on the rack at the sporting goods store. You will be just the right size for camp next year, and it was 75% off.

Cause while I may have slept through it this year, I did not completely miss the class on kids outgrowing their specialized sporting clothes just before they really need them.
And I DO NOT intend to ever have to go to the mall again!

****Even though they should, because I could be their best spokesperson,  none of the manufacturers of the pictured products paid me for the mention of their brands.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Mid-west weather.....
This winter was cold.
The kind of cold that makes you want to hibernate for six months.
The kind of cold that has you lusting after 100% wool underclothes.
The kind of cold that makes you say things like..."I'll even be thankful for 100 degree temps in July..."   
Then Spring came....I think......
As near as I can tell, Spring is just a milder form of  Summer, with tornadoes and flooding thrown in for extra excitement.
Yesterday we were scheduled for some of that "excitement".

In order to keep my mind off the impending disaster and my ears from thinking they are hearing the sirens of doom, I decided to write a "How To..." manual for those not yet used to surviving the mid-west version of  panic inducing adrenaline rushes know as Tornado Watches.

Step 1.
Notice that in spite of diet changes and proper caffeine consumption, that nagging headache just won't go away.  Guess what the barometric pressure reads, then log on to to see how accurate your sinuses are.

Step 2.
Start checking the skies and the radar every 20 min.  Starting at 8 a.m.
For the storm that is predicted to arrive at 8 p.m.

Step 3
Take the dog for a long you are  he is too tired to freak out when the storms come.

Step 4.
Start your caffeine consumption plan.  Too little = a possible disastrous nap during the 2 a.m. radar check.   Too much = too many potential bathroom trips during a tornado warning. I, for one, have a paralyzing fear of being stuck on the throne when the sirens start going off. 
Now you know my deepest darkest fear.
We should probably move on. 
Step 5.
Scour the house and garage for buckets and baskets that can be used to cover delicate seedlings in the garden.  Baseball sized hail has been fore casted.
Make children help.

Step 6.
Make children clean the garage to fit at least one car.
Make the difficult decision as to which car will be left outside as a "sacrifice".

Step 7.
Make children and husband heave move the amazingly heavy  nice lawn furniture up against the house, to avoid "donating" lawn furniture to your next door neighbor.

Step 8.
Plan and prepare dinner so that if the electricity goes out, you can still eat. Because there is nothing more important than proper nutrition during times of stress....

Step 9. 
Plan your shower around the radar timing predictions so that if anything happens you'll at least be able to show up at the ER in clean underwear.  Just like mom told you.

Step 10.
Make sure you have your lap-top battery  and phones fully charged to have as many radar checking sources as possible while you scurry to the basement.

Step 11.
Check your sump pumps and make the boy child move ALL the LEGO bases off the floor of the basement so that they will not clog the pump or cause you excruciating pain as you stumble around in the dark. Since a basement is lovely during a tornado warning, but not so lovely during a flash flood warning...but the two seem to happen at the same time. :(

Step 12.
Spend ALL NIGHT watching the radar, because, you know, that will ward off the tornadoes.

Step 13.
Head to bed at 2 a.m. after an uneventful night, confident that all your preparations are what convinced the storms to seek out lesser prepared, more sane mid-westerners.

Step 14.
Spend all the next morning cleaning up the mess that you made of the garden, putting back the patio furniture and opening the garage to find the van you tried to protect from the hail, instead fell victim to a stray nail finding its way into the tire.
Check the weather forecast.
Plan for the next weather event. 
Because it is Spring in the mid-west,
and now you have had the class on that :)

Photo credits to my wonderful husband who braved the terrible natural disaster that befell us got a little wet in the rain shower that passed over us last evening.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

skiing the mid-west...

Part 1
I grew up in New England, where a snow storm meant:
a)eight inches or more of snow...each time...
b)school anyway
c)great skiing on the weekend
d) all of the above

I now live in the mid-west, where a snow storm means...
a)three inches of snow...maybe...
b) no school for two days...
c) skiing? down what???

Admittedly, skiing is an expensive sport.  Between the clothing, equipment rental, lift ticket and $5 hot chocolate in the ski lodge, a weekend ski trip could blow the vacation budget faster than a 6 year old going down the black diamond slopes. Growing up we found ways to cut the costs.  Group trips with the Boy Scouts and church youth group, friends who lived near the slopes and were willing to host 20 teens for a weekend, and my personal favorite: my brother's employee discounts on ski equipment at the sporting goods store.  Yes, my obsession fascination with bargains was evident even in my youth.

We would ski once or twice a year and hold on to our badge of honor for the entire winter, making sure it was prominently displayed on your jacket zipper pocket: the coveted lift ticket. Some kids had a veritable rainbow of tags hanging from their winter garb.  Different mountains, different days, different levels all had their own color, date and logo.  Nothing said status symbol in New England like the soft rustle of the tags on your ski jacket as you walked down the high school hallway.
(Unless you were a basketball player...then you took the tags your coach didn't find out and yank you from the starting line-up for endangering life and limb during the season...but you kept them on your cork board in your room :)
It had been 14 years since I last strapped sticks to my feet and pointed them down hill.  Fourteen years of working and parenting in the South-East and Mid-West.  Neither locations known for the one thing other than snow that is most essential to the sport of down hill skiing: a hill to go down.
I was wondering if my kids were ever going to get a chance at wearing their own status symbol, or even being able to go back to New England in the winter.  I was picturing conversations like:
DD: No. I'm sorry. I can't go with you to New Hampshire in the winter. 
I can't ski.
 I'm from Iowa.
DS: No. I'm sorry. I don't want to go to Maine in the winter. 
I can't ski.
I'm from Iowa.

And then I received an e-mail that made me love my adopted state even more than I do after calculating the "discount" on cost of living expenses every year.

"Join us for half-price homeschool days on the following three Fridays...."

Wait...on a week-day?? (= empty slopes!)
Wait...down hill skiing....In Iowa??

And so we spent the night before our sojourn finding our long-johns, wool sweaters, ski pants, hats and gloves to get us through a day on the slope(s).  We packed our lunch and snacks and gave fair warning to the kids about no $5 hot chocolate splurges.  We counted our money carefully hoarded from Christmas and headed north to the adventure promising, adrenaline surging enticement of trying to stay upright while defying both speed and gravity.

And the day did not disappoint.  Nothing much in Iowa does.
Sure, it wasn't the elevation, trail length or snazzy lodge facilities of Sugarloaf.
Nor was it the posh, glamorous surroundings of Steamboat.

But it was close, friendly and perfect for my little family of beginners. 
Oh, and did I mention, Cheap???
The four of us were able to get lift tickets, rentals and lessons for less than the cost of one adult New England status symbol. 

I think I'm in love.

And I get a lift ticket to keep on my jacket.

'cause I didn't miss the class on that.  ;)

This is a personal, not paid, endorsement for Seven Oaks.