Monday, March 29, 2010

My Boy Likes (and Licks) Cats

#5 loves cats. All kinds. Big cats from the wild and domesticated house cats alike. Maybe it's because he is the one responsible for feeding our outdoor cat. On Saturday, Kent took him to a "Big Guy Little Guy" activity at the library and #5 got his face painted to look like a tiger. He spent the day prowling around and growling at us.

A few days ago while he was watching TV, I came around the corner to find him holding two stuffed toy cats. He had his eyes glued to the set and his tongue glued to their "fur". He was licking them over and over, cleaning them just like a mother cat would. When he noticed me, he looked my way, paused the licking and reflectively said, "I'm thirsty." Yeah, I bet!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thoughts on Spending

A few posts ago, my new (used) cell phone sparked some discussion that sparked some thoughts about my spending habits. In a conversation that week, Kent asked me if I feel bad spending money on expensive items. (I should note here that Kent considers expensive to mean something that costs more than it should. I've always understood it as something at or above a certain dollar amount. That dollar amount has changed through the years and I won't say what it is now, but it's basically more than I would normally drop on an item I like at the store.) His question, and my answer, which is that yes, I generally am adverse to spending for nice things, has been working in my mind.

Don't get me wrong. I like owning nice things; but only if I can get a really good deal on them or if someone gives them to me. It's not just a matter of being frugal. I deep down feel...what's the best word?..kind of undeserving of being able to spend money. I think there are a few factors that contribute to this part of my personality.

There is some part that humility plays here. (Don't you love it when someone tells you how humble they are?! That's really not what I'm trying to do. I'm talking about the humble circumstances that people can live in.) I don't begrudge how anyone else spends their money. I love this part of the American Dream, and I think people should work hard to fulfill their wants. I do not like when people rack up consumer debt to buy things that will force them into financial hardship later, but that's not what I'm talking about. Part of it is seeing the living conditions of so many people in developing countries, and even in our own U.S. history. Those people have lived happy, productive lives in small homes while wearing non-name brand clothing. I think a humble life is a good life and I simply don't want many showy things.

When I have wanted things that tend to be pricey, I've found ways to get them cheap or free. When we bought our house, we kept a lot of the previous owner's furniture with it. For landscaping boulders, I asked the developer's permission to pick big rocks out of the field next to us. For quality clothing, I usually shop at DI. And our family has been blessed with hand-me-downs since almost the beginning of our marriage. I love hand-me-downs. I think not having to pay for furniture or clothing has inhibited my ability to do so when I can't get it cheap or free. Instead, I just wait and eventually a neighbor will give something away that fits my need perfectly.

In reading The Tipping Point, I really identified with those people that the author calls "mavens". Mavens shop prices and quality so they know what a truly good deal is on a specific item, and then they only buy that item if it's a good deal. They research consumer reports and compare brands. And they pass their information on to others. That's me in many ways. For big-ticket items, I shop at least three brands against each other, and then I shop at least three stores or internet sites for the best deal on a given brand. The bigger the purchase, the more I compare. In buying our minivan, I narrowed the field to eight models that ranked high with consumers, and then I narrowed it to two models after sitting in and test driving six of the eight, and then I shopped prices with several dealers. We were so happy with our purchase and the experience with Utah Auto Sales that I have recommended them to many friends.

I find that when I am going to spend on something, I also have to take a lot of time. It's almost like the more time I spend shopping for it, the better I can justify later owning it. I would not feel right about buying something spendy on the spur of the moment. One of the reasons I haven't blogged recently is that I spent seven days placing an order in a seed catalog. It drives me crazy that I devote so much time to getting whatever I decide is the best price for something. What a waste of time!

I apologize for my meandering thoughts. I guess what bothers me is that I am bothered by the idea of paying a chunk of money for anything. Maybe the issue is that I don't have that option right now. I like to think that if we had a big income, I wouldn't feel guilty buying something nice that we could afford, but I really think I would have guilt attached to it. And I can't explain where that guilt comes from or if it's even valid.

What are your thoughts on spending?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tampering is the Evidence

I'm surprised how many posts begin because I've gone off sugar. I never before realized what a central role it has played in my life! But here I go...

In the last few weeks, I've spent more time looking for non-sugary snacks at the grocery store. I don't normally buy a lot of snacking nuts, because of their price, but now I'm splurging. When I opened the can a few days after my shopping trip, this is what I found: the foil seal was opened halfway and then tucked back down.

Now, I know from personal experience that getting into stuff you know you aren't supposed to is part of childhood. I remember spending secret time in my family's food storage room. I'd pull out the buckets of sugar and flour and cornmeal and play with their contents. It's a great sensory experience to plunge your arms as far into the flour as possible and then slowly raise them up and out and let the particles stick to your arm hairs and sift through your fingers. Yes, my parents built a sandbox for us; but no sand is so fine as flour. So I get why my kids find some containers irresistible. But when I was a child, I was always very careful to put things back how I found them so I wouldn't be caught. I would shake the flour bucket to restore a smooth surface and push it back under the shelf with the label facing out at exactly the same angle as I found it. My kids seem to forget to hide the evidence of their tampering escapades. Or maybe they just don't care. Hmmm... Would I prefer to think of my kids as too stupid to cover their tracks, or too brash to be influenced by the impending consequences?

Maybe they figure that denial saves them from looking stupid as well as from the consequences. While I was reading to #5 the other day, I noticed this strange hairline on his eyelashes. (Click a photo to enlarge it.)

When I asked him who cut his eyelashes, he pretended to have no idea what I was talking about. Yet there is the evidence for all to see.

P.S. I owned a camera for years before learning about the macros feature. If you've never played with it before, try it out. You can take some amazing close-ups. (You didn't click on the eyelash photos? You really should. It's like looking through a magnifying glass.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fat Free = Frowny Face

Yesterday I was making a mostly healthy snack for the kids to have when they got home from school. I call it "Goin' Fishing". It's half a package of cream cheese, a stack of celery stick fishing poles, and a bunch of Goldfish crackers. When I cut into the cream cheese, I realized that my snack was unintentionally healthier than I had intended. Oh no! Fat free--maybe it was "reduced fat", but either way...--cream cheese is not nearly as good as the real thing. The block was sort of slimy and didn't stir into a creamy glob, but rather just broke into chunks. Blech!

The kids didn't seem to mind, but with my sugar-free Lent, I sure did! I find that cutting out sugary treats has led to increasing my fat intake. And you know what? I don't care. This morning I made French toast, but in place of milk, I whisked whipping cream into the eggs. I did have to thin it a bit with rice milk, but the cream made all the difference. Even #2, who normally hates the eggy taste of French toast, liked this kind.

Tonight I made a basil squash soup, and you can be sure I added cream to that too! Wiping the bowl clean was especially nice with my warm homemade bread that was slathered with butter. Yum!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Can Relate

A friend sent this to me. I knew from the beginning that it would make fun of women's way of doing things, but I have to admit to numbers 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 24, 26, and 27. At least we girls can laugh at ourselves. Thanks for sharing this Kisi!

A new sign in the Bank Lobby reads:

"Please note that this Bank is installing new Drive-through ATM machines enabling customers to withdraw cash without leaving their vehicles.

Customers using this new facility are requested to use the procedures outlined below when accessing their accounts.

After months of careful research, 'MALE & FEMALE' procedures have been developed. Please follow the appropriate steps for your gender."

1. Drive up to the cash machine.
2. Put down your car window.
3. Insert card into machine and enter PIN.
4. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw.
5. Retrieve card, cash and receipt.
6. Put window up.
7. Drive off.


1. Drive up to cash machine.
2. Reverse and back up car the required amount to align car window with the machine.
3. Set parking brake, put the window down.
4. Find handbag, remove all contents on to passenger seat to locate card.
5. Tell person on cell phone you will call them back and hang up.
6. Attempt to insert card into machine.
7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to its excessive distance from the car.
8. Insert card.
9. Re-insert card the right way.
10. Dig through handbag to find diary with your PIN written on the inside back page.
11. Enter PIN.
12. Press cancel and re-enter correct PIN.
13. Enter amount of cash required.
14. Check makeup in rear view mirror.
15. Retrieve cash and receipt.
16. Empty handbag again to locate wallet and place cash inside.
17. Write debit amount in check register and place receipt in back of check book.
18. Re-check makeup.
19. Drive forward 2 feet.
20. Reverse back to cash machine.
21. Retrieve card.
22. Re-empty hand bag, locate card holder, and place card into the slot provided!
23. Give dirty look to irate male driver waiting behind you.
24. Restart stalled engine and pull off.
25. Re-dial person on cell phone.
26. Drive for 2 to 3 miles.
27. Release Parking Brake.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Fun Little Ditty

I have several posts rolling around inside my head that I never seem to have time to write. But I don't want to completely neglect my blog, so I'm throwing on some quick posts, like this one.

Our whole family loves OK Go (the band). Kent exercises to them in the morning and the kids dance around. (There's a future post coming about that.) Their music videos are what really set them apart, and Kent found this one yesterday. It jumped from 17,000 views yesterday to 1.7 million tonight. I love this video because it reminds me of some of my favorite, old Sesame Street segments. You know the ones where a ball is rolling along a track and counting "1, 2, 3"? This video is kind of like that, but with good music and more of a Mouse Trap (the game) feel to it. Very impressive, especially considering it was all done in one take.

At a deep-thinking gathering last Saturday, I turned the topic to my favorite Sesame Street segments, so I might as well add two of those here too. Enjoy the nostalgia!

As a kid, I LOVED maraschino cherries, so I was always so happy that this girl got one!

I just finished reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. In the book, he discusses the "stickiness" of Sesame Street. I guess if I'm talking about my favorite segments 30 years later, they've really nailed down the stickiness of their product!