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Barber in a Box

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Thursday, 17 February 2011

When my husband quit his job to start his own company, we knew we’d have to find ways to tighten the budget.
"Hey, Cindy," Chuck said, eyeing the clearance table, "Look at this, hair clippers on sale.  Why don't you cut the family’s hair to save a little money?"
"I don't know," I answered, "I've never cut hair."  It was almost true, I did snip my little sister's curly locks when I was five.  On the other hand, that was thirty-five years ago and I’d since gained proficiency with scissors.
"Okay," I agreed, “how hard can it be?” 
I opened the box and scanned the enclosed brochure which promised I’d “style hair like a pro.”  It was beautiful.  The weight of the tool in the palm of my hand felt like a natural extension of my body.  I popped the blade protector and ran my finger along the comb.  I dreamed of people stopping me to ask who does our hair.  "Oh, I do it myself," I'd smile and do that hand wave thing people do when feigning modesty.
Finally, the day arrived.  "I need my hair cut,”    Chuck said, handing me the box like it held the key to a new Porsche or a gift certificate for maid service.
I laid out the attachments and perused the instructions.  “Position victim’s head at operator's eye level.” 
“No,” I joked, “I added that.”
Chuck was not at eye level, but I figured I could bend and squat.  “Next, Comb hair to remove tangles and hold clipper in a relaxed, comfortable grip for best control.”
I switched the machine on and it hummed to life.  Starting at the base of his neck, I carefully clipped around Chuck’s head. 
As I continued, the gentle hum gave way to a greedy, gnawing sound and a thick shock of hair fell to the floor.  “That didn't sound good," Chuck laughed. 
It didn’t look so good, either.  And I don’t know why I thought bending and squatting would work, I’ve never been good at gymnastics.
Once accustomed to his new look, Chuck suggested that I cut the boys’ hair.  It took some bribing, but our youngest agreed to sit first. 
It’s hard to clip the hair of a four year-old with the wiggles.  I started to panic and lost my relaxed, comfortable grip.  I made blind passes across his head, desperate for an even cut, but he kept shaking his head and finally slid his body off the chair.  When he looked at me, I nearly cried.  Gone were his wispy blond waves, replaced by what looked like the work of a pocket knife in the palsied hands of a drunk.
"Here, let me try," Chuck smiled and took the clippers from my hand.  “There,” he announced after a few passes, “you look great!”  He lied. 
Our older son, who had been silently observing, piped up, "You look like a clown!  I don't want my hair cut!" 
“Please keep your comments to yourself,” Chuck admonished, “you know your brother is afraid of clowns.”
The following day, we took the boys to a real salon.  The stylist glanced from father to son, but I caught the flash of pity.
“Dad hair cut, eh?  We see it all the time,” she said and offered the guys lollipops.
I studied the grain on the hardwood floors.
The boys left the salon looking handsome again, and I vowed to leave our hair cutting to professionals and find another way to stretch the budget.
Like a garage sale.  First item - one set of clippers.


Helpful Hints from Anti-June

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Friday, 16 October 2009

Have you ever known anyone who lives up to the housewife image of June Cleaver?  Perfect make-up?  Always smiling and calm?  Impeccably dressed from pearls to pumps?  Dinner on the dining table - table with a cloth, mind you - by 5:30 PM; dessert and coffee to follow?  Spotless house?  Made beds? 

I've never met her, either.

As I sit here in my fuzzy slippers, gazing upon a stack of paper and junk mail, watching my son write his name in the dust on the table, I realize that, I might not be June Cleaver, but I have a few helpful hints to share with some of you just starting out on the glamorous path of housewivery.

Here you go:

  1. If it might be a couple days before you "get" to the dinner dishes, keep the lids on your cookware so you won't have to soak pots and pans as long when you're ready to wash them.
  2. You can leave your dirty laundry piled in a heap for 5 - 7 days, in average humidity, before it will mildew.
  3. You can leave your wet clothes in the washer for about 3 days before the load starts to mildew.
  4. Don't bother composting all those spoiled vegetables you cleaned out of the crisper after your new monthly healthy-meal plan fell apart.  You'll never plant the garden.  Cut your losses, toss 'em and buy frozen next time.
  5. Not only is Avon Skin-So-Soft an insect repellent, it makes a great rust remover for the Weber grill.  SSS is also an herbicide.  Do not use it to clean your rusty grill on the front lawn.
  6. Do not buy what the dryer will not de-wrinkle.  If you are under the delusion that you will press those pretty linen pants on sale for 75% off, may I direct your attention to points 2 and 3.
  7. Two words:  Artificial houseplants.
  8. Toss the old magazines, dear.  Yes, you paid a lot for the subscription, but if you haven't read the article in 3 years, you ain't gonna.
  9. Chances are, if you regularly experience any of the above then you’ve married someone just like you.  Hire a lawn guy.
  10. If you can relate to any of this, do not attempt to fry fish at home.

Feel free to add your own helpful hints in the comments.  Maybe together we can craft the next self-help best seller!


Fruits of the Spirit

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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Bible promises that, for those born again, the Holy Spirit will reside in our hearts and begin to yield His fruit through us.  It's not always clear to me that His nurturing and pruning are, in fact, bearing fruit through my life.  So, I love those times when I'm tested and can look back on the episode with the peace and comfort of knowing that yes, He is indeed at work even in a wretch like me.

For instance, this morning one of the moms on a homeschool curriculum group I visit needed urgent help solving a math problem for her middle-school child.  Her question was, "What fraction is one-half of 1/4?"  She added that she has searched high and low and all of Google for the answer, but can't find confirmation that she is correct.

Well.  The old me would have posted a knee-jerk reply something like:  "OMG!   You need to put the pencil down and step away from the text books.  Run immediately to your ISD and enroll your kids while they still have a %#$@ @#$# chance of making it to adulthood with a couple of brain cells intact!" 

That was the old me. 

The new me deleted the temptation from my inbox and allowed one with greater grace and tact answer her question.

Of course, I'm still a work in progress.  I couldn't resist blogging about it.


Open mouth, insert foot

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Tuesday, 20 January 2009

I'm standing with a fresh, steamy cup of coffee, chatting with a new acquaintance.  "Can I get you some coffee?"

"No," she says, I don't drink caffiene.

"No coffee?  It's the nectar of God!  How do you get through the morning without coffee?"

"I'm Mormon," she smiles.

The good news is that I shut up before asking when she's due.  I'm not that dumb.


The Frugal Savant

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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

I have this quirk.  Okay, I have many quirks, but this one is my uncanny ability to bust our household budget by implementing money-saving ideas.  For example, there's that time I decided to make my own baby wipes and ended up spending more money on premium weight paper towels, baby wash and baby soap - and produced a batch of baby fresh pulp.  Then, there's the time I bought the $5 hair clippers so that I could cut our family's hair for "free," but wound up spending more money to have their hair fixed by a professional.  Oh, and the laundry soap.  Yep, homemade laundry soap that seemed to work great until I noticed our freshly laundered clothes were beginning to smell like my boys' gym socks.

But you know, as Thomas Edison put it, after many failed attempts at the light bulb, I haven't failed 1000 times, I've succeeded in finding 1000 ways it doesn't work.

Last summer I saw a program on the Planet Green network about how to save on your electric bill.  Many of the ideas required spending money on energy saving equipment, but one idea spoke to me:  wash the laundry in cold water, rather than warm or hot.

So, I decided to conduct an experiment and for a whole month washed everything in cold water.  I couldn't wait for the next month's electric bill and looked forward to it like a payday.

Only, there was no change.  So much for that idea.

A few months later my husband announced that we all need to take more care to turn lights out behind us.  I looked at him and said, "Oh, yeah, don't expect much."  Then, I explained my scientific study, relaying the data before and after as proof that little changes don't add up when it comes to electricity bills.

He smiled that smile of his.  "You're so cute."

"What?"  Of course, when he tells me I'm cute, I know I've done something stupid.  

"Cindy, we have a gas water heater."

Yep, I'm a frugal Savant, all right.  And that's Savant with a capital "I."

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