Monday Stories


I have had an enduring grudge against my fellow woman. More than six years ago, I was a recent college graduate and very pregnant. Many people, mostly mothers, would ask in a sweet, small-talky way, “What hospital are you using?” I responded, “We’re not going to a hospital. We’re going to have a home birth.” I knew what the next statement would be. Well, I knew the theme of the next statement.

Sometimes, it was a genuine concern for my safety (a result of blind faith in American obstetrics). That one is tolerable. Sometimes, it was a passive-aggressive “You’re so brave!” I can deal with this now having had three drug-free births. More than six years ago, I had no clout and this was an unfair statement.

The response that was truly hurtful was the jovial, yet authoritative, chuckle/cackle followed by, “Oh, Honey! You have NO IDEA what you’re getting into!” “You’re going to REGRET that decision!” “Oh, you WILL change your mind in a few weeks!!” You’ll be SCREAMING for drugs!” “You’re NEVER going to make it!” These statements were almost always punctuated with the same jovial, authoritative cackle.

Really? I’m making a decision in favor of the health and safety of my child and you’re telling me how horrible it’s going to be and how I’m going to fail? I know that birth is a rite of passage among women and at that point, I had not crossed that threshold, but, for heaven’s sake, what’s wrong with all of you?

Having a double “blessing” of third trimester hormones, I cried as I told my husband how several, yes SEVERAL, women at church had informed me of my impending failure. “Why would they say such awful things? Why do they laugh while they are being so rude?!” My husband smiled and said lovingly, “Babe, some women are wusses. You can’t fault them for not being as awesome as you are.” Gotta love that man! My sister said, “Remember that most women in America don’t believe themselves to be strong, healthy women choosing to GIVE birth. They believe that pregnancy is a sickness and they need a doctor to DELIVER them from their medical condition.” I am glad that I had such an amazing support system.

While I was knowledgeable enough to be empowered, I was still offended. I received one such dole of discouragement while I was in my graduation garb. I told my husband on the way home, “Why would she say that to a pregnant woman? Is she also going to tell me, ‘Well, I see you’ve just graduated from college. I bet you’re going to fail miserably in your career. Ha, ha, ha!’ How is this any different?”

I recently talked to a young mom about to have her first baby. I knew that she was planning a drug free birth. I told her that if any of the naysayers predicted failure for her, she could tell them where to stick their negativity. She could say so on my authority. She told me that she had, indeed, received the negativity, but she would refute on her own authority. She may not have had the authority of someone who had yet given birth, but she had the authority of being able to make CHOICES about birth instead of succumbing to social norms. She told these naysayers, “How do you know what I can and can’t do? You have never been me and I’m the only one who can attest to my pain tolerance.” Soon thereafter, she gently gave birth to her son.

For the sake of clarity, I’m not saying that I hold a grudge against women who choose to use a hospital for birth. I HELD a grudge against the social acceptance of discouraging women who choose to give birth without unnecessary interventions.

As for the offensive cacklers, I resolve to stop holding a grudge.  I am done holding on to the anger.  I forgive you. I am not saying that I will not say anything when I hear this every-real-woman-screams-give-me-drugs-now nonsense. I cannot listen to it and sit idly by because that is just as bad as actively contributing.  It’s not helpful or healthy to say this to mammalian mothers. It’s a disgrace that we allow ourselves to behave this way. I am truly empathetic for whatever experiences made you describe such a hopeless scenario, but I will refute. I will smile and add a southern “Bless your heart!”

At my parents house last night, the act of getting all three children out the door was interrupted by  a conversation with my son.  We discussed why he ought to choose good behavior.

I heard my parents snickering.  My mother said, “oh this conversation sounds SO familiar.”

Well, at least my kids “get it honest.”

As I walked my excited children through the neighborhood last night, we approached a door with the note, “We do NOT celebrate HALLOWEEN.”

It took great restraint not to affix the message, “Happy Reformation Day to you too.  Maybe you didn’t know this, but the traditional symbol for not celebrating Halloween is to TURN OFF YOUR PORCH LIGHTS.  Otherwise, it seems that you are encouraging young children to come to your house so that their arrival will be met with the disappointment of your lights shining on a note that proclaims that you will not be offering any hospitality due to your piety.”  Maybe I’ll print some up for next year.

Yes, I understand that the roots of Hallow E’en are pagan traditions celebrating all spirits of the dead, but the roots of Christmas are also pagan.  For the same reasons that I celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th (which is not very likely to be His birth date) instead of celebrating the feast of the son of Isis, I tell my children that we do not celebrate death on October 31st, but the life we have in Christ, our joy in the Lord, and the power that Jesus exhibited to conquer death.

Both holidays are days that Christians have made efforts to reclaim.  I applaud those efforts.  THIS is the day that the Lord has made.  I am going to rejoice and be glad in it.  It would be ridiculous for me to hide in a cave because of a stigma that might be associated with a holiday.

So, I wonder if that family is going to put up Christmas lights or mistletoe.  Maybe I should bring them a Yule Log!

Happy Reformation Day!

My husband suggests about half of the blog posts that I write.  This is no different.  I told him last night that I was in the checkout with our three adorable, ahem, children.  AFTER the sale was complete, the cashier returned four coupons that she chose not to scan.  She said, “These aren’t right.  We don’t even sell that item.”  I took it upon myself to inform her that, yes, the store does sell that product.  In fact, I plucked those coupons from the dispenser in the store.  I added that I would have appreciated the courtesy of informing me before charging me so that I would have the opportunity to contend or choose not to purchase the item(s) in question.

Upon what I intended to be the completion of my recollection, my husband asked, “Why didn’t you take it to customer service?” (I still may.)  I said that the baby was whining/crying because she needed a nap.  The toddler (who had taken a bite out of one of the returned coupons, but that’s another issue entirely) was throwing a temper tantrum because I moved the cart where she couldn’t grab the register and shake the cart and all of its contents (including the sleepy baby).  Also, I overheard the kindergartener ask a stranger why she only had one leg.  I was a little preoccupied.

My husband was laughing because our children where such a disruption that they were almost a cliché.  Through his chuckles, he asked, “What did you do?  Did you go to customer service then?”  He knows me well.  I said, “No, I left.  The movement calmed the baby.  There were no more registers to grab.  I had a chance to explain to our son that we don’t risk hurting people’s feelings by asking them why they are different, no matter how kind and accommodating they are.”  He responded, “At least she didn’t mind.”

I find it to be an amusing feature of parenthood that the more mouths there are to feed, the more grocery shopping is required.  Thus, there are more people to hinder the laborious grocery shopping process.  Oh, well.  Pardon me while I block out this memory (or at least alter it) so that I can recollect how pleasant these times are and say to my children, “I remember how inquisitive and thoughtful you all were when you were little.”

After teaching my classes last night, I made a rare stop by Walgreens.  The cashier obviousl did not understand the purpose of coupons.  They had a buy one get one free sale and I had a buy one get one free coupon.  Used together should make both free.
So I had to explain the diffrence between a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon.  Then, the when we got to the BOGO issue, she said, “But you wouldn’t have to pay anything for it.  So you can’t use it.”  I said that yes I can.  The deal I’m making with the manufacturer is not contingent on the deal I’m making with the store.  She called a manager who called out to accept the coupon at face value before he made it to the front.  She STILL argued, “But she won’t have to pay anything for it!”  He quieted her by saying, “this one time.”
I am very proud of myself for not yelling at her, “THAT’S THE POINT OF COUPONS!  THE ‘NOT PAYING’ IS THE WHOLE REASON FOR ME DOING THIS!”  But I didn’t yell.
Even after the manager left, she grumbled, “but you’re getting stuff for free.”  Being mindful of the line behind me, I redused the earfull that I gave her to be completed by the end of the transaction.  I said, “I have no problem leaving the entire order of $16.88 (a record high for me) on the table and retrieving my coupons and going somewhere that has no problem granting me the deal.”  She snarked, “Yeah, well, he said, ‘this one time’.”  I relpied, “He ALWAYS says, ‘this one time’.  If he ever stops saying, ‘this one time’ then I’ll go somewhere else.”  With a righteorous indignnce, she said, “well, the store is losing money because of it.”  I calmly replied, “No it isn’t.  The manufacturer will reimburse the store.”  She nodded to affirm.  The transaction was complete.
Now, in a different media, I say FURTHERMORE, the manufactuerer GLADLY entices me with a coupon in hopes that I will become addicted to their product and the store GLADLY entices me with the sale to get me to spend $16.88 and use $10.34 in manufacturer coupons that they can redeem.  Why do some cashiers have a personal problem with me getting a good deal?
So, I ask cashiers everywhere, WHAT’S IT TO YOU?   Your store is making money, the maufacturers are getting their products into homes, and I’m taking care of my family.  My savings are not coming out of your paycheck.  You’re getting paid by the hour, not by commission.

After teaching my classes last night, I made a rare stop by Walgreens.  The cashier obviously did not understand the purpose of coupons.  They had a buy one get one free sale and I had a buy one get one free coupon.  Used together should make both items free.

I had to explain the difference between a manufacturer coupon and a store coupon.  Then, when we got to the BOGO issue, she said, “But you wouldn’t have to pay anything for it.  So you can’t use this coupon.”  I said that yes I can.  The deal I’m making with the manufacturer is not contingent on the deal I’m making with the store.  She called a manager who called out to accept the coupon at face value before he made it to the front.  She STILL argued, “But she won’t have to pay anything for it!”  He quieted her by saying, “this one time.”

I am very proud of myself for not yelling at her, “THAT’S THE POINT OF COUPONS!  THE ‘NOT PAYING’ IS THE WHOLE REASON FOR DOING THIS!”  But I didn’t yell.

Even after the manager left, she grumbled, “but you’re getting stuff for free.”  Being mindful of the line behind me, I reduced the earfull that I gave her to be completed by the end of the transaction.  I said, “I have no problem leaving the entire order of $16.88 (a record high for me) on the table and retrieving my coupons and going somewhere that has no problem granting me the deal.”  She snarked, “Yeah, well, he said, ‘this one time’.”  I relpied, “He ALWAYS says, ‘this one time’.  If he ever stops saying, ‘this one time’ then I’ll go somewhere else.”  With a righteous  indignation, she said, “well, the store is losing money because of it.”  I calmly replied, “No it isn’t.  The manufacturer will reimburse the store.”  She nodded to affirm.  The transaction was complete.

Now, in a different media, I say FURTHERMORE, the manufacturer GLADLY entices me with a coupon in hopes that I will become addicted to their product and the store GLADLY entices me with the sale to get me to spend $16.88 and use $10.34 in manufacturer coupons that they can redeem.  Why do some cashiers have a personal problem with me getting a good deal?

So, I ask cashiers everywhere, WHAT’S IT TO YOU?   Your store is making money, the manufacturers are getting their products into homes, and I’m taking care of my family.  My savings are not coming out of your paycheck.  You’re getting paid by the hour, not by commission.

I have become a little obsessed with couponing.  My husband appreciates this obsession.  Not only does he have his hard earned dollars stretched to the max, but the extreme nature entertains him.  He found this to be highly entertaining.  Spent $.55, saved $30.17.  I win!Publix receipt Feb10_4

This is after I got these wipes for only $4.75 earlier in the week…

100_0088

…and this two-year supply of detergent for $29 last week…

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…to mingle with the ridiculous stockpile of detergent that I was paid $4.11 to take over the summer.

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My stockpile space is full.

Over Christmas vacation, we went to a popular vacation spot in the Smoky Mountains. One night, we were pursuing the town on foot when I told my husband that I wished that we had more money to take the kids to some of the attractions. During the walk, several vendors were sitting outside in the freezing temperatures trying to call us over to sign up for a presentation (sales pitch). The compensation for listening to the presentation was cash and tickets to the attractions. We told two of them that we were not interested. The third one (different companies) offered us $75 and attraction tickets for listening. Okay. We’re their target audience (married with children and an income that meets their requirements).

At the beginning of the presentation, the salesman asked us questions. Where did we meet? Church. What a coincidence! The salesperson was not only religious, but he was even the same denomination for a short time! What was our first date? Water skiing. Really? He LOVES skiing. Surely, another coincidence! We then told him that we had no intention of buying anything because we knew that it wouldn’t fit into our budget. Let’s just be clear.

He began a lecture on ethics. Apparently, we were so unethical for accepting the offer that we were hounded to take because we didn’t want to buy what he was selling. We could be costing a salesperson (not him, of course) a job because we aren’t willing to buy. We went though the whole presentation. During the tour, I asked him how much a unit cost. No direct answer.

One more quick mini-lecture about how unethical we were. They see a hundred families a day. The gift incentives are about $200 per family. So, they are spending $20,000 per day on getting people in the door. How unethical of us to cost them that money. My husband asked, “What percentage of people buy?” 30% of people are apparently much too wealthy or dumb enough to take part in this program.

Finally, we see the price sheet. $60,000 per unit!!!!! (Cartoon sound effect: ah-OOO-ga!) That’s for ONE week per YEAR! That doesn’t include the maintenance fees or the fees to use the thing! But wait, there’s more! They offer financing…at 18% interest (how thoughtful!) spreading the payments out for 10 years making the payments…$250 less than my mortgage (but I get to live in my house the whole year)! Their company gets $34,000 of the profits directly.

Time for a little arithmetic. Thirty of the 100 families they see daily buy into it and provide them with a profit of $34,000 a pop. They get $1,020,000 per day! Subtract the $20,000 that they spend in getting people in the door and they are still profiting a million dollars a day (that’s in the slow economy too). Furthermore, if they sell them for $60000 for one of the fifty-two weeks a year, they’re selling them for $3,120,000 PER UNIT!!! They’re doing this by preying on the families who don’t really have the money in their budget.

Yet, I’m unethical for saying yes to the third person who offered me free tickets to let my kids do fun stuff. “Hello, kettle? This is the pot. You’re black.”

I therefore amend the adage.

As Chief Nurturer of this household, I have taken on the task of baking many of our bread products.  I must say that the time it takes is not worth the time spent on a loaf by loaf basis.  However, the savings have appeared in a different fashion.

When I started dating my husband (drawing nigh on a decade ago), I was surprised at the frequency that his family ate out.  They didn’t discuss what was for dinner, but where dinner was.  When we married, we disagreed.  He said that eating out was a necessary fellowshipping part of building a relationship.  I told him that I would fellowship with him at home over a plant and protein based meal that I made and then walk with him for free.  This was not acceptable.  He assured me that it was not the food that was unacceptable, but the lack of the event of going “out.”   He longed for a time when our finances would allow us to spend money on eating out.  I was still not baking.  I didn’t care to eat much bread.  I don’t even like pizza…one of his favorites.

Eight years into this marriage, I decided to start baking fresh bread.  I found a good pizza dough recipe.  He loved it.  No more longing for ordering a pizza (talk about a markup over price of production!).  That was a start.

I made dinner rolls at Thanksgiving.  He loved them.  Really?  That’s all it took?  So, I made another batch with larger rolls to use for sandwiches.  Rave reviews.

My great vindication came last night.  Our son asked if we could get fast food on our way home (I don’t know why he bothers to ask.).  My husband would usually  recite, “No.  Eating out is too expensive.”  Instead, he said, “No, your mom made bread so I’d rather go home and have a sandwich.”

“Rather.”  Let’s be clear that he said “rather.”  Yes, my friends.  I have an announcement.  My bread trumps the event of going out!

As we dip our feet into the holiday season (and I refuse to put up a Christmas tree until after paying homage to the turkey), I recall last year’s season figure discussion.

My son asked me to tell him more about Santa Claus.  I was an odd, cynical child and chose never to believe in Santa Claus.  It seemed so illogical.  Even as a two year old, I remember a conversation with my mother where I was trying to convince her that she didn’t need to believe because it just didn’t make sense.  She tried very hard to convince me otherwise because she didn’t want angry parents from church calling her to tell her that I had been trying to convince their children.

Since my son is very much like me, I decided that it was futile to convince him of the traditional folklore of Santa.  I took a different approach and told him about the real man about whom the folklore is based.  I told him that “Nicholas” was an orphan of wealthy parents who chose to live a humble life as a priest.  I told him that the young priest began his mornings very early in prayer and godly service.  I told him that Nicholas snuck into the home of a poor family and left enough gold coins for a daughter’s dowry, but he intended that no one would see him leaving an expensive gift in the middle of the night because he wanted the community to respect him for his humility and service to God instead of his wealth.  In his old age, Nicholas made a point to give gifts to children.

My son asked, “Does he still do that?”  Trying to avoid the question, I said.  “Honey, that was a long time ago.”  He persisted, “But how long ago?  Can he STILL do that?”  I said, “What do you think?”  “I don’t think he can.  But I want you to tell me.”  Okay, so he is like me.  He’s asking me to spell it out…because I’m the voice of reason.  “He’s not alive to do that any more.  But his memory still lives because he was such a good role model.  He spent his life loving God and being kind to people.  So, it’s still fun to say that he still does those things.  If another kid says, ‘Santa’s coming to my house for Christmas’ then smile and say, ‘Yes, he is.’  You wouldn’t want to make another kid sad by ruining the fun?” He shook his head.

Two weeks later, my nephew was telling my son about all the things that Santa was going to bring him for Christmas.  My son said, “Santa’s dead.”  I had to run and catch them before the fistfight.

About a month spans the time between my 27th birthday and my son’s 5th.  My currently 4 yr old son was going to run an errand with me when my husband pointed out that the two people going in had exponential ages.  My son’s age is 2^2 and my age is 3^3.  I said , “that’s true of all of us, running errands or not.  You’re 32, which is 2^5.  I’m 27, which is 3^3.  Our son is 4, which is 2^2.  Our daughter is 1, which is 1^any power.”

Is it more nerdy my husband noticed the exponential trend to begin with or that I extended it?  Maybe the nerdiest of all is that we integrated it into normal conversation with our 4 yr old!

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