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Always leave 'em wondering

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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

11:00 PM

"Mom, why are you talking like a robot."

"I am a robot."

"No you're not, you're my mom."

"We were switched at your birth."

"You're not a robot...," his eyes narrow as he peers into mine.

"I love you, now go to bed."

"Love you too, g'night," he says and starts down the hall, then turns for another quick look.




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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

After reading Jeff Yeager's "The Ultimate Cheapskate's Road Map to True Riches," I've been trying to live the frugal life.  One of his tips is to never spend more than a buck-a-pound on anything.  With rising grocery prices, I've been hard-pressed enough to succeed with people food, but what have we become when it is impossible to accomplish with pet food?

What Would Cheapskate Do?

The boys and I ventured out to Petsmart to pick up timothy hay and crickets.  Before we went in I was adamant that we were there for two items.  TWO ITEMS.  But, you know, I'm the kind of consumer for whom infomercials were created.  I have to sit on my hands to resist being one of the first 50 customers to call toll-free and it's nigh impossible for me to pass a colorfully adorned kiosk without fondling the merchandise.  When I saw that neatly constructed pyramid of 2.5 lb. bags of All Natural Tender Chicken Strips I plucked one off the shelf, telling the boys, "We can't buy for Midge and Toad and not get a treat for Pumpkin, right?"  Of course they agreed, they are my children.

At the checkout, "Did you find everything you need?"

"Yes, yes, thank you."

"Mom!  Can we get this laser-pointer-key-ring?  It says it's great exercise for your dog or cat as they chase the light!"

"No, we have a laser-key-ring."

"How about this carabiner?  Don't we need one for...something?"

"No, Daddy bought you guys carabiners not long ago."

"Oh, what about..."

"No, guys, just these three things," I said, scanning the point-of-purchase display for anything we might really need.

I swiped my card, donated the $1 to help homeless pets (how can you press "NO" to that?), and didn't even raise an eyebrow at the $36 total.

Until I was 4 miles away.


"What, mom?  What's $36?" asked my startled boys from their back seats.

"I just spent $36 in Petsmart for a bag of hay and two dozen crickets!  Was that hay imported from France, or what?"

"You got those All Natural Chicken Tenders, too."

"Yeah, but those can't be more than five or six bucks."  However, on examination of the receipt, I saw that the chicken tenders were, indeed, $19 and the hay I thought I bought was really alfalfa.  It even sounds French.

"$19!!!!!  TWO-AND-A-HALF POUNDS of Chicken Tenders for twenty bucks?  There is no way any self-respecting cheapskate would shell out more than $10 per pound to feed a dog!  We have to go back."

Alex is old enough to be chagrined at the thought of tromping into Petsmart to return a bag of dog treats, but I'm old enough not to be.  I made my apologies to the clerk for not confirming the price ahead of time and judging by the sideways glance (developed after hanging around dogs a lot) as she handed me my refund, I could tell she was mentally questioning my worthiness as a pet owner.

With the $21.64 (with sales tax) in hand, I felt somewhat redeemed but in my heart I know I failed the WWCD? test.  A true cheapskate would have also returned the alfalfa and pulled a couple handfuls of grass off the median on the way back to his bicycle.



The Case for Pangaea

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Monday, 07 April 2008

"Hey, Chris and Alex, do you remember the name given to the super-continent which eventually spread apart to form the continents as we know them today?"

"Yes, Dad, it was Pangaea.  Dad, isn't it kind of sad to think that Wegener died poor, alone, and rejected by the Scientific community?"

"Who's Wegener?"

He's the guy who first came up with the theory of Pangaea!"

"How do you know all this?"

"Mom taught us."  Hearing this, Mom joins the conversation.

"Chuck, what do you think?  There are Creationists who don't buy the Pangaea theory."

"Well, how else would man have gotten from continent to continent?  They didn't have ships back then."

"What?!  The book of Genesis talks about the great civilizations before the flood.  Of course they had ships."

"Let me rephrase, how else would man have made it from continent to continent before jumping ship if their wives were there, yipping at 'em the whole trip?"


Yes, April, I am a fool

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Tuesday, 01 April 2008

Last night, while brushing his teeth before bed, Alex had an epiphany.  "Tomorrow is April Fool's day," he said to Chris.

"Oh, yeah," Chris whispered.  I could tell the wheels were turning in his head when his tongue peeked out the side of his mouth, an unconscious habit of his that helps  him do everything better.

The two scurried off and for a while I could hear sounds of busy mischief-making.  I turned to Chuck and said, "Crap, they're getting old enough to invent some pretty good April Fool's pranks." 

"Yep, and don't forget they have you as their teacher," he said.

A while later they came into our bedroom to say goodnight.  "Don't go into the kitchen until morning," Chris said.

"Oh?  Why's that?" I asked.

"We've set up some boogie traps for you and Dad."

"Boogie traps?  You mean booby traps."

"We say boogie traps because the other is a bad word."

"A bad word?"  I asked, curious to learn what they know that I don't know, "How do you know it's a bad word?  What does it mean?"

"It's what you call someone who is...who you...who..."

"Who you think is acting like the 's-word'?"

"Yes!  It's not nice to call someone that."

This morning, I woke to find all sorts of clever Rube Goldberg contraptions - a string tied to the stem of a strategically placed apple, attached to a wooden spoon catapult loaded with a rock; an inflatable ball attached to a string stretched across the path to my computer; the refrigerator door taped shut, etc. 

The best one was the tape securing the vegetable sprayer at the sink in it's "on" position.  I fell for that one.  Always appreciative of a good joke, though, I decided to leave the tape in place for the next victim.

Unfortunately, I was the next one to use the sink and in the span of no more than five minutes had forgotten my own clever plot.  Good one.

Paybacks are a b-word.




More Life Lessons

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Thursday, 27 March 2008

Homeschooling is fun and doesn't have to be expensive.  Rather than lay down cash for some high-priced curriculum, use whatever resources are handy.    Your home school should be flexible.  If Dad has the day off, give the kids a special treat by letting him teach a lesson or two.

Class:  Sales 101

Skill(s):  practical living, psychology, art

Boys, the most important lesson you need to learn in life is summed-up perfectly here on this coffee mug:  "No One Knows How Good You Are Until After The Sale.  Before They Buy, They Only Know How Good Your Marketing is"Final Sale Coffee Mug

Your mother, for example, knew the power of marketing.  This is one of the outfits she wore when we were dating...

Final Sale - Before









Compare that to what you see her wearing now, after 10 years of wedded bliss, 2 perfect kids and 40 lbs of growing contentment...

Final Sale - After

"I'm the Mom, That's why!"

Class dismissed.

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