What Happens When You're the Grinch?

Nov 30, 2012

           I'm a Christmas Grinch.

          If you met me, you would find this surprising.  What I mean is, I kind of look like I wouldn’t be.  I look like one of those moms who loves to bake and decorate and Christmas carol and wrap presents with decorative bows and fancy paper.
But that’s not me.  I jokingly tell people that my favorite day of the year is the day I get to put away the tree.  Except, I’m not joking.
Because of my holiday humbug, over the past couple of years, I have implemented a few new traditions with my family.  Most of them involve going out to eat.  Yes, that’s right.  I don’t want to cook a big turkey either.  I especially don’t want to clean up a big turkey and all that goes along with it.
I have a close friend who’s the morning DJ for a popular radio program and I just told her I can’t listen to her station anymore until after the holidays because they’ve now started playing nothing but Christmas music.  No one was meant to listen to The Little Drummer Boy that many times.
If you were to ask me what my issue is with the holidays – and trust me, many people do – my standard response is, “No one tells you that Christmas is so much work when you’re the mom.”  And, it’s true.  When you’re a child, Christmas is all about the tree and the gifts and the decorations and the parties and . . . did I mention the gifts?
But, when you’re the mom?  You realize that someone actually has to go and buy those gifts and wrap them and plan that party and cook that food and bake those cookies and drag that tree out of the attic (heaven help the people who actually go and cut theirs down!) and hang the ornaments (only to have to box them back up three weeks later) and schedule the family Christmas photo – and then survive the family Christmas photo shoot – and write out the Christmas cards.   It’s a lot of work.  A lot of work.  And, frankly, I’m tired. 
The thing is . . . although I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am not one-of-those moms – the ones who love to participate in all the Christmas activities – I haven’t quite found a way to suppress the guilt that comes along with the realization that I am not.  Because, there is, in fact, a part of me that feels like I’m letting my kids down.
I think it was my lack-of-Christmas spirit, and my desire to turn this whole holiday irritation and my poor attitude around, that led me to the Walmart layaway department last year four days before Christmas.
I approached the man behind the layaway counter – a young boy, really.  “I’d like to pay for someone’s layaway items,” I told him.
“Okay,” he said, barely looking up at me.  “What’s the name?”
“I don’t have a name,” I told him.  “I need you to pick one.”
“Huh?” His head popped up. 
“I want to pay for the layaway items for a stranger.  About a hundred dollars’ worth.  And, I’d like you to pick someone who has toys on their list.”
A blank stare greeted me.   “Uhm . . .” he said, his voice bearing the tone of someone who thinks you might be a bit off your rocker.  “You’ll need to speak to my manager about that.”
 “Can I help you?” the manager asked, as he walked over to the counter.  I explained to him what I wanted to do.  His blank stare eerily resembled the other employee’s.
“You want to do what?”   I was beginning to wonder if I wasn’t speaking English anymore but instead, my words had morphed into some foreign Martian tongue.  This was beginning to seem like a very bad idea.  Nevertheless, I repeated myself.
Those last words must have come out clearly, though, because instantly the manager came to life.  “That is awesome,” he said, joyfully.  He then motioned, excitedly, to two other employees.  “Come over here!  We get to play Santa!”
Within seconds, each employee had a stack of receipts in hand, while the manager searched through his computer records.  “What letter of the alphabet should I start with?”
“Uhm . . . I don’t know,” I said.  Then, just to make it easy, I closed my eyes and put my finger down on a Walmart flier on the counter.  “S,” I said, looking at the letter I had landed on.  “And don’t forget, they have to have toys on the list.”
After a little bit of searching, we had a name.  I don’t even remember it, but I do remember the list included items that led me to believe the woman was buying for a young boy and a preteen girl.  Perfect, I thought.  I have kids around those ages, too.
I paid the woman’s bill.  It came to just over one hundred dollars.  On the back of the receipt I wrote her a note.  Merry Christmas.  God loves you.   Love, A Secret Santa.
After making the manager promise he would call this woman (Right away, he vowed!), I walked out of the store.  I felt happy about what I’d done.  It truly felt good to give. 
Two days later, I was back in Walmart, this time searching in the electronics department for a Christmas present for my family.
“Hey, you’re that lady!”  I glanced up.  Next to me stood the manager. 
“Hi,” I said, shyly.  “Did you call the woman about her items?”
And then, as animated as if he, himself, were one of Santa’s elves, the manager told me an incredible story of how he never got around to calling the woman because she walked into layaway not long after I left. Before she even told him her name, she said she was going to have to put away some of the items on her list because she couldn’t afford them.   When the manager realized who she was, he told her, “You don’t have to put any of them away.  They’re paid for.”
He said her confusion was enormous.  She kept insisting they couldn’t be – and he kept insisting they were.  Then, she hounded him to tell her who had paid for them, certain she must know the person.
“I told her, I promise you, you don’t know this woman,” he told me.  “I told her how you were a stranger and we just picked her name from a list.”
He then said the woman started to cry.  The manager looked like he might also start to cry.  I must admit, I kind of wanted to cry, too.
“That was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of,” he told me.  “Thank you.”  And then he walked away.
As I got into my car and drove home, I realized something.  I will never be the mom who bakes ten dozen different cookies for the neighborhood cookie exchange.  And, I will never be the woman who decorates her house with a thousand colored lights for the holidays.   But, that’s okay, because Christmas isn’t about the decorations and the meal and songs we sing.  It’s about a gift that was given to us many, many years ago.  It’s about the way we love our families.  It’s about the way we show that love to those around us.  It’s about the memories we make, not the stuff we accumulate.  That’s the joy of Christmas.  And it took the layaway department at Walmart to remind me of that.
This year, right before Thanksgiving, I told my ten-year-old daughter that she and I and her six-year-old brother were going to spend Thanksgiving morning feeding the homeless.   I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive about her response.  We could, after all, stay home instead and watch the Macy’s Day Parade on TV.
“Really?” she said, delighting me with her words. “That’s great.  I feel really good about that decision.”
I smiled and gave her a big hug.  Me, too, baby.  Me, too.
And then, as I kissed her head, I thought, maybe – just maybe - I’m not letting my kids down after all.



A Site for Moms in Search of Work

Jun 2, 2012

It's been quite awhile since I did a blog post - I've been super busy with my many jobs - and writing my BOOK.  But, I found this site and it was too cool not to share.

It's called "HireMyMom" and for a small fee (about $30 a month if you pay quarterly or $100 annually) you can get access to a directory of legitimate home-based jobs for a variety of skills -ranging from graphic design to sales to writing.

Some projects are long-term, some are short.

As a mom who has found a way to bring home a nice income while working from home, I KNOW it is possible.  And, this site seems like a great tool to get you started and help you find the work!

I saw an article on this site in Redbook and Parenting Magazine has called it "a site we love!"

Let me know if you get some great jobs!

Scrubs Website

Sep 10, 2011

Is it just me or have you noticed that the scrubs your doctor, or nurse, or hygenist wears are all much more stylish these days? I never used to see them them in anything but a pale blue (or, of course, the teddy bear version some of the nurses wear at the pedicatrician's office!), but now I notice that everyone looks so much nice in them when I have an appointment at the doctor or dentist.
I may have figured out where they are getting them from. I found a website called Blue Sky Scrubs that sells attractive looking nursing uniforms. They carry designer styles for both men and women. I had a fun time looking through all the designs. I don't wear scrubs, but if I did, I would certainly feel much better in these versions of the uniform!

So, if you are looking for somewhere to labs coats, check out their website. I bet you'll feel a lot better about yourself and how you look at work! BTW: They even have some ADORABLE fun scrubs for kids!

***This blog post brought to you by your friends at http://www.blueskyscrubs.com/

Save 11 Cents a Gallon on Gas at HEB

Sep 8, 2011

If you live near an HEB gas station, you'll want to get in on this deal.

From now, until October 31, 2011, if you buy an HEB gift card and then, use it to purchase gas at an HEB station, you'll save 11 cents a gallon.

And, in my experience, HEB is usually one of the cheapest places to get gas to begin with.

I know that I need to fill my tank about once a week, so my plan is to put on a gift card as much as I usually spend on gas and then, use that to purchase my gas for the next 6 or 7 weeks.

Just make sure to swipe your card BEFORE you fill your tank!

Click here for more details.

Signs for Your Business

You know, there's a lot that goes into the making of a great office or business - the paint colors, the furniture, the accessories.  Those are the easy ones to name.  But, what about the signs?

Every business and office has unique signage, but, until recently, I never really gave much thought to who creates this eye-catching letters and words.  It turns out, one company that does is called Impact Signs.

They make all kinds of signs - from metal logos, to those made of brass, bronze or even etched into glass.  You can get whole signs or simply individual letters to hang on your lobby or office wall.   They will even install them for you.

If you're creating a new business, or have an old one that needs some perking up, I'd check them out!
***This blog post brought to you by your friends at www.impactsigns.com

Buy a Quality Backpack and Save!

Aug 12, 2011

I just got some great advice from my friend, Lynda, and I thought it was worth sharing with all of you.  I just followed it.  (Got my daughter a backpack at LL Bean for $18.99 with free shipping.)  Her backpack (from Staples) last year didn't even last through Valentine's Day!

Here's Lynda's words of wisdom:

Land'sEnd (www.landsend.com) is having a sale on backpacks and lunchbags = 20% off
Also, LLBean (www.llbean.com) is having a sale on backpacks as well (Not all of their backpacks, but a good selection. Anywhere from 11-22% off). And they are offering free shipping on all orders.
I bet you are wondering why "always looking for a good deal" lady is emailing you about these 2 sales. Well, b/c sometimes paying a little more saves you money in the long run.
I understand that you can go to Target or Walmart and pay $10 (or maybe less) for a backpack.  I did that every year.
Last year, I decided to spend the $30 and buy my son (who was going into 4th grade) a backpack from Land's End. My hope was for it to last 4 years. (I know, I know... I dream big!) He used that backpack every day for school -- carrying this big ol' binder + books almost every day.
Well, I pulled it out today. It had a hole in the lining -- I could put my hand through the lining into the mesh bag on the outside of the backpack. I called Land's End. Both Land's End and LLBean guarantee their products basically for life. After a very pleasant conversation with the Land's End rep, they are mailing a new backpack to me. In the package, there will be a pre-paid shipping label so that I can return the old backpack to them.
I know I couldn't have done that at Walmart or Target.
It's something to think about when you are shopping for backpacks/bookbags.

Pier One $10 off $10 Purchase Coupon

Jul 25, 2011

Click here to print a $10 of a $10 purchase coupon for Pier One.

Good from today until Wed (7/27).

One per customer!

Magazines and Manipulation

Jul 8, 2011

I was on my way to work this past Wednesday, when I stopped at our mailbox to grab the mail.  As soon as I got back in the car, my boys started asking to look at any magazines that had arrived.  I handed the Lillian Vernon catalogue to my three year old, Maclain.  A quick glance at my mail stack, though, showed me there wasn’t anything else of interest to hand to his older brother, Bennett.

“I want a magazine, too!” he whined.
What to do? What to do?  There wasn’t even a grocery flier in the pile.

And then I noticed an engineering course catalogue which had arrived for my husband.  I knew it wouldn’t be of much interest to Bennett, but it was all I had.  Perhaps just handing him something would buy me a few minutes in the whine-free zone.
“Here,” I said, as I passed back the book.
I counted to five, waiting for the complaining to begin when he saw the catalogue contained nothing but text.
“I can’t believe that satisfied him,” I thought.
And then, suddenly, I heard Bennett exclaim, excitedly, “Look at all these toys!”
I glanced back at him.  Did I actually hand him a magazine with photos of toys?

Nope.  Just the plain, black engineering book with course descriptions.
“Look at this ball!” he said. “Wow! A transformer!”

I glanced back again. Had he lost his mind?
And then I realized his plan.
His devious, manipulative (yet incredibly creative and ingenious) plan.
“I want that magazine!” his brother cried out.

“Okay,” Bennett said, coyly.  “But if I give you my magazine, you have to give me yours.”
“Here,” Maclain said, as he handed over his book.

And, as my mouth hung open in sheer shock at the deceitfulness of my four year old, the boys swapped magazines.

It only took a moment, of course, for Maclain to realize he’d been duped.
“I no WIKE this magazine,” he cried out.

Poor Maclain.
And poor me.  If my four year old can come up with such an impressive con at his young age, I am  doomed.

I no WIKE that idea!

Dress Like a Cow Day

Jul 7, 2011

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE the day we get to dress like a cow at Chick-fil-a to get a free meal!

The kids and I always go (and, since it always occurs in July in Texas, we are always sweating as we do it!).

Lucky me, we get to dress up (and sweat!) again tomorrow - Friday, July 8.
Click here for details.  But, basically, wear any piece of cow paraphanalia and get a free entree.  Dress up in full cow costume (and Chick-fil-a has cut-outs for you to use on their website) and you get a free MEAL (drink and fries included).

You KNOW the kids and I (and maybe some other kids I drag along with us) will be there.  Hope to see you there!

FREE Iced Tea at La Madeleine Today

Jun 21, 2011

Celebrate the first day of summer by stopping by La Madeleine and getting some FREE Mango Iced Tea!


Free Personalized Father's Day Card

Jun 4, 2011

Here's a great way to make a super cute Father's Day card for your dad (or your husband - from your kids) and it's FREE!

Go to the Tiny Prints website by clicking here and, once you create the card, use the coupon code 4FDAY.  Ship it to yourself for FREE or pay the cost of the stamp to mail it to someone else.


FREE Donuts!

Jun 3, 2011

Today is the first day of this summer that I have all three kids home all . . . day . . . long.

It's going to be a LONG day.

So, I was THRILLED to realize it was actually National Donut Day.

You know what that means?

Krispy Kreme gives out FREE donuts!

So does Dunkin' Donuts (which I actually prefer) but you have to purchase a drink from them to get your donut (and there isn't one near me).

I can promise you the kids and I will be heading over to Krispy Kreme this morning.  Will I see you there??

Credit Scores

My husband and I, a few months back, taught a financial class.  One of the things we realized in the midst of the course is that people do not understand the concept of their credit score.

As financial expert Dave Ramsey puts it, "your credit score is not an indicator of winning financially. All it tells you is whether you are good at borrowing money and paying it back."

In case you are not aware, this is how your FICO score is determined:

  • 35% of your score is based on your debt history.

  • 30% is based on your debt level.

  • 15% is based on the length of time you’ve been in debt.

  • 10% is based on new debt.

  • 10% is based on type of debt.

  • You know what this means?  The only way to have a great credit score is to get into debt, stay in debt, yet pay it off perfectly. 

    If you pay off all your debts, and don't take on any more, your FICO score will become indeterminable.  You won't even have one! 

    Another thing to keep in mind.  You should never pay a company to get your credit report.  You are entitled to one free credit score a year.  Don't pay for what you can get for free!

    Gold Coin Website

    Jun 2, 2011

    My husband has always had an interest in collecting gold coins - or gold bullion, as those in the 'know' call them. He doesn't have a huge collection, but he's very pleased with the ones he does have.  Unfortunately, he's not very good at putting those coins in a safe spot and, on more than one occasion, I've found out kids playing 'grocery store' and using his coins as the currency!

    For those out there who are really interested in buying gold bullion, check out the website Gold Coins Gain.  On there, not only can you buy bullion, but you can also invest in gold IRAs.  (Did you even know there was a such a thing?)   

    And, if you're unfamiliar with ther term, bullion, it just refers to a refined and stamped weight of precious metal.  This can be a coin or one of those larger blocks like you see in the movies!

    *** This blog post brought to you by your friend at www.goldcoinsagain.com

    Notepad Website

    May 31, 2011

    When I was a kid, I thought it was the coolest thing to have a pencil with my name on it.  I don't know where my mom (or grandparents) used to order them for me - probably from some catalogue - but I thought it was fabulous.

    Now that I'm an adult, though, I tend to not have pencils - or anything else, for that matter - with my name on them.  But, why not?  Why can't I have a pencil or cute sticky note or even a keychain with my name on it? 

    Or, better yet, how about a personalized notepad with my blog's information? 

    That's why I was glad to come across the website Go Promos.  They sell a ton of promotional items for your personal use or that of your business.  They have bags and totes or even calendars.

    So, if you're looking for some neat items with your info on them, check out their site.

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