Still At It

It’s been a really long time since I’ve done a coupon post, so please excuse my rustiness. I never really stopped couponing, I just stopped sharing my experiences. I guess now is as good a time as any for confessions: I’m lazy when it comes to blogging. My laptop has been on the fritz for a really long time now, and I can’t bear the idea of typing out a blog post from my tablet. I am trying to find a workaround, so please bear with me during this difficult time.

Anywho, on to the couponing. I try not to buy too much processed food, especially since keeping a food diary helped me discover that an overabundance of wheat in my diet was the cause of my migraines (which have pretty much ceased, except for the days that I have slip ups). Some deals are too good to pass up though.

My family loves the Multi-Seed crackers. The fact that they are gluten free means all of us can indulge. They are usually $3.49 a bag at Publx, but are on BOGO this week. I had two coupons for $1.50 off of two that I used. Instead of paying $13.96 for four bags, they cost me $3.98.image

I don’t usually buy Entemann’s products, but the kids really like their Little Bites. Publix has them on sale for 50% off, so they were $2.34 per box instead of $4.69. Throw in the two printable manufacturer’s coupons, and I ended up paying $1.34 per box.

I have never tried Special K snack bars, but they are also on BOGO this week at Publix. I also had printable manufacturer’s coupons for 50 cents off each. Just an FYI, the coupons are from Target’s website but are not Target store coupons. If I had purchased these bars at regular price and without coupons, I would have spent $11.96 for four boxes. Instead, I spent $3.98.

Chobani Greek yogurt is usually priced at $1.25, but is on sale for $1 this week. I had coupons for $1 off three, so nine containers cost me a whopping $6. How often to you find Greek yogurt at that price?

The Suja Elements was an impulse buy. I love it, but can’t quite justify making it a regular purchase at $3.99 a bottle. It’s on BOGO at Publix this week, and my store happened to have blinkie coupons next to the cooler for 55 cents off each bottle. I only grabbed two because I didn’t want to look greedy, standing around waiting for the little black box to pop out another coupon. Instead of $7.98 for two bottles, I spent $2.89.

I normally would have waited for the Almond Breeze to go back on sale (which it likely will in another couple of weeks), but I was completely out and needed to restock. It’s $3.39 for a half gallon, but a printable coupon for $1 off brought my cost down to $2.39.

All in all, a shopping trip that would have cost me $48.54 without sales and coupons actually only cost $21.

Boogie Woogie Rumble of a Dream Deferred

Fox News (and most other news outlets) doesn’t usually have anything favorable to say about Muslims, so you can imagine the shock some of us received when Geraldo Rivera spoke out regarding the media’s coverage of the murder of three young Muslims by a crazed man in Chapel Hill, NC. When most of us learned of the murders, it was by way of social media. Very few news outlets bothered to report the murders and those that did, chucked it up to three people being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Never mind the fact that they were at their own home. The outrage voiced in social media forced more major news outlets to cover the story. According to Geraldo, the reason for the lack of coverage had to do with the so-called small Muslim population in the country. I’ll go ahead and tell you why I strongly disagree.

Studies show that people tend to unite (or become friends, if you look at it on a smaller scale)over mutual dislikes. It sounds weird, but take a moment to think about events in history. National unity is never stronger than it is when there is a common enemy to hate. Widespread bias allowed slavery to accepted as the norm until 1865, and Jim Crow laws to be easily enforced after the abolition of slavery. It permitted Adolf Hitler to murder countless Jews in Germany, and it promoted the hatred of the Japanese immigrants during World War II. It now encourages prejudice against Muslims.

Allowing Muslims to be seen as a group of normal folks causes splinters in the unity that we have managed to re-establish in our country. We somehow feel safer at night when we can go to sleep knowing who the enemy is, and knowing where to direct our animosity. As long as we know what a terrorist looks like, we know who we are fighting to save our country from.

But what happens when people slowly begin to recognize the subliminal messages promoting hostility towards a particular group as a form of brainwashing? What happens when people start questioning whether an enemy is really an enemy, or a friend is really a friend? You get people who don’t trust the government to keep them safe. You get people who don’t rely the news to tell the truth. You get a nation that is no longer bound by mutual loathing of a common foe, but rather fragmented by disheartenment and skepticism.

This is why you won’t see Craig Hicks labeled as a terrorist. This is why you won’t hear about the torching of an Islamic school in Houston unless you are tuned into social media. The murder of the 15 year old Somali immigrant in Kansas City, while labeled a hate crime, won’t be called an act of terror. Not only were the perpetrators not Muslim enough to be crowned terrorists, but the lives of the victims weren’t quite valuable enough for these abhorrent acts to be publicly condemned. But you’d better believe if the tables were turned and Atheist, anti-theist Crag Hicks was murdered by his three Muslim neighbors, something as implausible as a parking dispute would never have been mentioned. The three Muslims would have immediately been deemed enemies of the state, with no other explanation taken into consideration. Sean Hannity and Bill Maher would have demanded that all Muslims apologize and loudly denounce the acts of terror. As it stands though, those figureheads were deafeningly silent.

When my kids ask about the general opinion the public holds regarding Muslims, I give them the most optimistic answer possible because I don’t want them to lose faith in humanity. I only hope that one day, those won’t be lies I’m telling them.

This Year

I don’t usually fall into the hype of setting resolutions for the New Year. For me, it’s almost like putting into words the things I plan to fail it. I’m ashamed to count how many years I vowed to lose weight, only to fall off the wagon by the time March rolled around. But then, I realized my goals weren’t specific enough. Sure, I wanted to lose weight. But what was my plan to get there? It wasn’t until I put a detailed plan in writing (and actually stuck to it) that I started to see results.

Since I am a master procrastinator, I am just now figuring out what I want to work on this year. It wasn’t difficult to come up with a list, which I’ll undoubtedly add to in the upcoming weeks and months.

1. Run at least one race each month. I went through a few of my favorite websites and added some of my standby races to my 2015 calendar, in addition to stumbling across many others that really caught my interest. I’ve made it known that I would love to do another half marathon, but it would be really awesome if I could do two. Since January is finished, I guess I have to do two races this month.

2. Be more consistent with meal planning. When the extra weight was melting off of me, it had a lot to do with preparing my food ahead of time. Each Sunday afternoon, I set my Gladware containers up on the counter and filled them with measured portions of whole grains, lean protein, and veggies. Having a set meal plan kept me away from the vending machine at work. When I slacked off on planning, my weight loss came to a standstill.

3. Sew something at least once a month. I have loved sewing ever since Aunt Margie showed me how to sew in straight lines on her Singer. There’s something gratifying about being able to turn a scrap of fabric into something usable. My sewing machine has collected a lot of dust lately, mostly because JoAnn Fabrics will suck up your entire paycheck with the prices they charge. A few fellow bloggers have pointed me to the internet for ordering fabric at discounted prices, so I can’t lean on that excuse anymore.

4. Take photography lessons. Most likely, this will occur via YouTube. I don’t have hundreds of dollars to give someone so they can teach me how to maximize my iphone camera. I know that the photography on my blog sucks, and I’m really trying to change that. I have a few resources to explore, so y’all should see some improvement in the near future.

5. Use the pins I’ve pinned. I believe there should be a support group for Pinterest Addicts. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying Pinterest. However, there is something wrong with spending hours each month pinning projects that never actually get done. Of course Pinterest makes everything look super easy and by the time I finish scrolling, I feel confident enough to build my own home and all the furniture that needs to go inside of it. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be successful at completing any of the projects I attempt, but I’ll share them with you either way. It should provide some comedy, if anything.

6. Finally mail off those Pay If Forward in 2012 gifts. But before I do, I need to add a little something for 2013 and 2014 as well. I really do appreciate everyone’s patience.

Did you notice that “More Frequent Blogging” didn’t make the list? That’s because I don’t believe in setting myself (or y’all) up for disappointment. But we’ll see what happens.

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2014, The Cliffnotes Version

I should be ashamed of how long it’s been since I posted, but I’m not. Hey, I’m not a full time blogger. I don’t get paid to do this. I still have to work a fulltime job and I’m raising four kids and a husband. Yes, you read that correctly. I’d like to say that an extended absence won’t happen again, I’ll do better in 2015, blah, blah, blah, but those would be lies and I don’t want to lie to you guys. I’m not abandoning my blog, don’t get me wrong. I just haven’t been very motivated to write because nothing new is happening in my life and I don’t feel like sharing the same old stuff over and over.

Since today is December 31st, I thought I would end the year with a post full of random thoughts. I know that’s pretty much every post I write. Whatever. Can you tell I’m PMSing? Sorry. Just kidding. I don’t apologize for being crotchety when I have PMS. It apparently gets worse with age, and the people who love me have learned to either deal with it, or avoid me. Anywho, on to the Random Shittery of 2014.

1. With all the hype surrounding the book, I broke down and read Fifty Shades of Grey. I didn’t buy it, thank goodness. I checked it out from the library. The electronic copy, not the hardcover. Are you kidding me? Ewww. I don’t even want to know what kinds of germs lie between the pages of the hard copy at the library. Fifty Shades was by far one of the worst books I ever read. Even Twilight was written better, and that’s saying something. The author wanted me to believe that the main character was some kind of brainiac, but her inner dialogue would suggest otherwise. Apparently her vocabulary is pretty limited, because her thoughts are often comprised of the words “holy” and “crap”. “Jeeze” is her favorite to mutter out loud. Why the hell is she muttering all the damned time? And can she find an adjective besides “hot” to describe Christian? Not only that, but she must have the most raggedy lips known to man because she chews them through the entire story. I got to a point where I just started skimming the pages in a hurry to reach the end. I am embarrassed to admit that I spent an hour of my life reading/skimming this book, and I’ll never be able to get that hour back.

2. I read a post recently by a person appealing to retailers to stop stocking Jordan’s (sneakers) until the violence surrounding them in the inner city stops. Apparently, I have this parenting thing all wrong. You mean to tell me it isn’t my fault that my kids act a damn fool? All this time I thought it was my parenting, but it’s actually retailers’ faults. What a relief to know I’m not to blame there. All kidding aside, we have got to stop placing so much importance on name brands. And when I say we, I mean y’all. Because I have never purchased a pair of J’s for my kids and I never will. The only reason I started spending more than $30 on a pair of sneakers for my kids is because three of them now wear adult sizes. They all started school off this year wearing Adidas running shoes that probably made their debut a couple of years ago. The amount I spent on 4 pairs of sneakers was still less than folks spend on one pair of Jordan’s. That ensured that there was enough money left over to actually buy school supplies. You know, since they actually go to school to learn. I’m not saying that you can’t buy nice stuff for your kids. If you don’t have to take out a second mortgage to make your kids’ dreams of a couture wardrobe come true, go for it. But if you know for a fact that putting $200 sneakers on your kids’ feet are going to put them in danger of getting robbed or shot, you might want to rethink buying them. It’s not Michael Jordan’s fault that kids are being killed over his sneakers, nor is it the fault of the stores that sell them. Instead of protesting and petitioning, simply stop buying. It’s really quite liberating.

3. I really hate when someone sits down at my table in the break room and work and starts chatting while I’m in the middle of a book. Is there some unspoken etiquette that requires me to put my book down to entertain you because you decided to grace me with your presence? If so, I was completely unaware of it. I like reading. A lot. I don’t like socializing very much, though. Especially when I have a good book in my hand. Most likely, I’ll smile at you politely (while cursing you in my head) and then go back to reading my book, hoping that you get the hint. You’d be surprised at how dense people can be sometimes, though. Going back to reading my book is sometimes mistaken as an invitation to ask about what I am reading, if I ever read such and such ridiculous book (such as 50 Shades of Grey), and so on. At that moment, I close my book (or Kindle cover) and stand up to leave. I hate being interrupted when I’m reading. So if you ever see me with a book in my hand, please find yourself another table to sit at.

4. The curl pattern in my hair at the nape of my neck is significantly looser than the curl pattern everywhere else on my head. That area seems to grow twice as fast as the rest of my hair, too. As a result, I have a mullet. No matter how often I trim that pesky nape hair to keep my ‘do even all the way around, it grows like a friggin weed. My husband thinks it’s hilarious. I don’t so much. The cat sits on banister behind the sofa and bats at it while I watch television. What a jerk. And no matter how high on my head I gather my hair for a ponytail, the hair from the nape is still too long for a nice, even ponytail. I’ll probably cut it tonight because I don’t want to go into 2015 with a mullet. But within a couple of weeks, the mullet will be back. Did you know mullets were officially banned in Iran? I’m dead serious. At least they’re doing something right over there. So that’s one place I wouldn’t be able to visit. If someone caught a glimpse of what I look like underneath my hijab, I’d surely be thrown in prison there.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Here’s to a fabulous end to 2014. Hopefully I can keep my old ass awake until midnight. Happy New Year, Y’all!

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General Fatassedness

I need carbs. I don’t mean the good kind, either. No roasted parsnips for me. Nope, I want chocolate cake, brownies, sweet potato pie, and leftover candy corn from Halloween. I want some artisan bread fresh out of the oven and slathered in herb butter. A sourdough panini with smoked gouda and a thin layer of cranberry relish would be so awesome right now. I need it so badly, I’m fighting to keep from scratching my neck like a dope fiend over here. I’m in a bad place right now.

I can’t remember the last time I craved carbs this badly. For a while, I was taking chromium. I did some research and learned that it can combat carb cravings. And let me tell you, it did. Probably because it results in an awful metallic taste in your mouth, no matter how hard you brush your tongue, or how much mouthwash you gargle. Nothing tastes right when you take chromium. It really takes the joy out of eating. That wasn’t the reason I stopped taking it, though. I ran out of my industrial-sized bottle, and just never got around to buying more. How lazy of me. Now I’m paying the price by way of monster carb cravings.

I am waiting for the office to clear out so I can grab chocolate from the admin’s candy bowl on her desk. She puts it out there for all of us to take freely, but you can’t just take candy freely when you’re the one fat person on the team. So I’m waiting. And waiting, waiting, waiting. Is she ever going to leave? For the love of God, it’s after 5:30. Why is anyone still here? This scene feels so familiar. I wonder why? Oh, because this whole closet-eating thing is why I’m fat in the first place. Not quite as fat as I used to be, but still a long way from slim. You would think typing that out would have served as a warning. “Don’t start closet-eating again! Remember, you used to weigh as much as two grown men combined!” I know that. I’m terrified of putting all that weight back on, so I won’t raid the admin’s stash. At least that’s what I’m telling myself as I rock back and forth, trying to quell my craving. Guess what I’ll be running out to buy as soon as I leave work? You got it – a huge bottle of chromium. I’m not cut out for this willpower crap.

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Equal, But Not Really

Have I ever mentioned how much I love Whole Foods? I really do. It feels as though some kind of happy gas is being pumped through the ventilation system because you can’t help but to feel completely euphoric while walking up and down the aisles. Even when I only plan to run in for a bottle of water and a container of curry chicken salad, I still take the time to peruse other areas of the store. I feel like my eyes need to touch everything in there, or else I’m not getting the complete Whole Foods experience.

I stopped in over the weekend for water, chicken salad and some weird yogurt probiotic drink that my husband likes. Not a huge shopping list, but it did get me into the store, which was my ultimate goal. I carried my basket of things to the register and waited for Nate to finish up with the yoga-pants-clad woman in front of me to ring out my order. When I stepped up to the register, Nate didn’t acknowledge me at all. No hello, did you find everything you were looking for, nada. He had a slight scowl on his face as he scanned my items.

Now, everyone is entitled to a bad day. Heck, I have more bad days than I care to count. I would probably use growling as a primary means of communication if I didn’t think it would result in an invocation of the Baker Act. But I don’t think Nate was having a bad day. He was perfectly friendly to the yoga mom, and wished her a nice day as he handed her a receipt. But I didn’t get a hello. Not a have a nice day when he handed my change back to me. Not a single word. After having skipped happily up and down the aisles, this killed my chi like a scratched CD at a house party. I hung around the register for a second out of curiosity. I wanted to see if the woman behind me received the same treatment. Guess what? She was given the courtesy of a hello. So very frequently, I am astounded by employees who are friendly and helpful to other patrons, but disdain is reserved just for me. And I’m not going to pretend I don’t know why I can’t get the same treatment as others, despite the fact that I spend the same currency.

Some people might say that “pulling the hijab card” is the same as pulling the race card. And I really hate that phrase. “Pulling the race card” only falls from the lips of people who have never been on the receiving end of racism, or truly believe that it no longer exists. But that’s another blog post for another day. I would like to challenge my non-hijabi friends to wear a hijab in public for a day. Stop into your favorite coffee shops and grocery stores. You may receive the same treatment as everyone else. But you most likely will not. I am not going to claim that everyone hates me because I’m a hijabi. That would be erroneous. I have come across some really amazing employees in the places I frequent most often, and they are the reason those businesses will always get a piece of my paycheck. But I have also come across some folks who make me wish I had never bothered to patronize their establishments.

I don’t usually care what people think of me. If you choose to miss out on all my awesomeness by depriving yourself of a friendship with me, that’s your own loss. But I am really tired of tolerating substandard service because someone takes issue with the scarf on my head. It’s hurtful, and it’s wrong. If you believe it’s okay to treat someone maliciously because of something as ridiculous as a scrap of fabric, you deserve to be reprimanded. I’m done staying quiet on this issue. I’m finished spending my hard earned money in stores whose employees turn their noses up at my business.

In the next few days, Whole Foods will be receiving a strongly worded letter from me detailing Nates’s treatment. Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve been treated this way by a cashier in that store. I used to scan the registers and try to avoid certain miserable employees, but I don’t see why I should have to do that in a store I’m spending money in. I’m not sure if my letter will get a response, but I’m really starting to look forward to the opening of Trader Joes down the street.

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As a professional hypochondriac, I pride myself on being able to properly diagnose and self-treat a multitude of illnesses. Not only do I diagnose my own disorders, but those of my family and friends as well. I may not tell you openly, but I’m probably keeping a mental file on you. I can’t treat you without your permission, but I’m fully aware of your Diaphoresis. Don’t be ashamed. None of us are perfect.

Considering my level of expertise, it bothers me when something slips through the cracks. I’ve known for a while now that Little Linebacker has had a problem, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He has always struggled with reading. It’s not abnormal for boys to have a harder time picking up reading than girls, but my spidey senses told me that he was having a much harder time than he let on. I mentioned it to my mom and being the awesome mom that she is, she shipped an entire Hooked on Phonics set down for us to use. Somehow though, it seems he needed more.

A man will often refuse to admit that something is wrong with his own child, so I knew bringing my concerns up to my husband were futile. Was there a learning disability to blame here? Little Linebacker seemed to be doing perfectly well in math. In fact, he seemed to excel in it. He could understand this new Common Core nonsense a whole lot better than I could, and was even able to explain the concept to me so that I could “help” him with his homework. If math came so easily to him, why not reading?

I’d assumed that we were babying him with books, allowing him to read too far below what he was capable of and therefore pressing the pause button on his development. I pushed him to check books out of the library on a second grade level, and sat with him as he read aloud each day. I noticed something as he read though: he needed his finger on each word in order to keep his place. Otherwise, he would skip words, or even whole sentences. I had to read along with him to ensure that he was reading each word, and found that he was often guessing instead of sounding things out. When he did take the time to sound words out, he would often transpose letters. Salt would become slat, golden was gloden. They were just little slips, but very consistent little slips. My inner hypochondriac was itching for a diagnosis, but I still needed more information. Regardless of what you might think, I don’t ever make a diagnosis haphazardly.

The additional information I needed came at a parent teacher conference. Little Linebacker’s teacher loves him, as his teachers always have. He’s really a sweet child and has a way of wrapping you around his little finger. She mentioned his strengths in math and science, and her concerns with his reading. Then she brought me a spelling test that he received almost a perfect score on. His handwriting was the neatest I had ever seen, which is really saying something because Little Linebacker’s handwriting is not often legible. The strange thing about the spelling test is that the letters were written backwards, and the words from right to left. If I turned the paper over and shined a light through it, I would have been able to read it perfectly. “Huh,” I said after staring open-mouthed at the paper for a full two minutes.

The teacher mentioned that this wasn’t the only assignment he had ever turned written this way. She also noted that whenever he resorted to writing backwards, his handwriting was much neater and stayed within the lines on the paper. Feeling overwhelmed and relieved all at once, I thanked the teacher for taking the time to meet with me. She shared the phone number for her pediatrician in case I was interested in setting up some sort of screening for Little Linebacker, which I absolutely will. I think home remedies might be insufficient this time around.

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