One of my favorite shows is “The Big Bang Theory”.  The show centers around 4 or so scientists with Genius level I.Q.’s.  The premise is that they are so smart that they just don’t “get” human interaction or social subtleties.  I really enjoy watching the show but can’t help but wonder about my own quirks and idosyncrisies.

Generally speaking I feel inept and awkward most of the time.  Even around people I have known for years.  I find myself searching for the right words, the right thing to say or do, trying to fill the uncomfortable silence, and failing miserably.  Other times just the wrong phrase slips out at just the wrong time.

Recently, a good friend of mine introduced me to another friend of hers.  We were all at the mall at the time.  She said to me, “Tanya this is Marcia.  You two should really talk!”  Having never met or even heard of Marcia, I immediately blurted out “Really?  Why?”  Yeah.  That was met with a stunned silence.  Another time, while out to lunch with Dane, we ran into one of his co-workers.  He said to me, “Tanya, you remember Linda, right?”  To which I quickly replied, out loud, “No.”  Ugh!  WHAT is wrong with me?

I was taught to think before I speak and with every other topic I do just that.  Ask me about something factual and you will get a well worded reply.  It just seems with social interactions I fumble every time.  Often I feel like I am embarrassing not just myself but also those around me.  On this point, I can easily identify with Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory”.  He is so inept that his awkwardness is humorous and carries the show.  Even I can see that !

Maybe I should just adopt Sheldon’s “friendship algorithm”.  Yep.  That should help……. or maybe not. (you can view Sheldon’s Friendship Algorithm on youtube at this link: http://youtu.be/_Q-C_qkCfJY  )

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The lottery is a fascinating thing to me.  I have played the same 6 Lotto numbers for over 30 years.  I know them by heart.  I never miss a week of playing those numbers.  I fear that the one time I don’t play them they will be drawn.

I just finished reading an article about a 23 year old homeless girl who has written a book about surviving homelessness http://finance.yahoo.com/family-home/article/112801/fight-to-rejoin-middle-class-usnews   .  What is so interesting to me is that I am as fascinated by living with nothing as I am by the idea of living with millions of dollars at my disposal.

I ponder how I would spend the current $144 million Powerball jackpot.  I ponder what it would be like to live in a Tumbleweed tiny house.  Both journeys seem to hold infinite possibilities.  No wonder “The Secret” doesn’t work for me.  Even my conscious mind has NO clue what I really want.  My sub-conscious is probably even more confused than that!

I yearn to  buy and own a home that is paid for in full.  I am in awe of  those who can go into a store, buy whatever they like, and never think twice about how much it costs or if they can afford it.  Going nice places. Traveling the nation. Traveling abroad.  Experiences that cost a lot of money. Brand new furniture (not used) would just be sumptuous!  A new car?  That would put me over the moon! Ahhhhh…. new car smell!

I also dream of simplicity.  Just simply living day to day.  For some reason my frontal lobe thinks that would be romantic.  Me, as a homemaker doing my best to make ends meet in a tiny home, bereft of luxury.  My man going to work, the same daily grind each and every day. The noisy, messy kids that wreak havoc thru the house.  But love will get us through.  We could live on love.

Somehow, I need to reconcile those two frames of mind.  Merge them into one.  The reality is, no matter how you look at it, you need money to survive.  The landlord, power company and water company don’t care how much love is in my life or if I have millions in the bank.  They want money.  Which reminds me, it’s time for the Powerball drawing!

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So Shelby wanted new makeup and I heard rumours that CVS had a lot of makeup on 75% clearance so we went to take a look (coupon binder in hand!).  BOY did we get some great stuff!  They actually called the manager up so that she could ring up our purchases herself!  LOL! 

At CVS we had three seperate transactions:

#1  Walked in and scanned my CVS card at the machine – got a coupon for a free “green bag tag” .  Every time you go to CVS and purchase anything you get it scanned when you check out and for every four visits, you get a $1 Extra Bucks!  I have been told to try scanning your card at the machine until it actually tells you “no more coupons available  – try back tomorrow”

Two bottles of Revlon nailpolish (that I thought would fall under the buy one and get $4 extra bucks back – but they didn’t!)  They were on clearance for $1.37 each and I still had one coupon for $1 off one Revlon polish so our total was $1.92.  Plus I got a $5 off your next purchase of $15 or more CVS coupon.

#2 Combining coupons with sale and clearance items I got the following items:

4 bags of m & m’s  * I used two of the $1.50 off 2 bags coupons AND the $2 off any candy purchase of $10 or more that printed at the machine when I scanned my card * NOTE these also count towards the “Spend $30 and get $10 in free gas” program that CVS is running

3 L’oreal Visable Lift under eye concealer * regularly $11.79 * marked down to $2.95 and I used three $3 off any Visable Lift coupons

1 L’oreal eyeliner * regularly $8.99 * marked down to $2.25 * used a $2 off any L’oreal eye makeup coupon

1 L’oreal mascara * regularly $9.25 * marked down to $2.32 * used a $2 off any L’oreal eye makeup coupon

1 NYC nail polish * regularly $1.99 each * marked down to .49 each * used a BOGO coupon on that and they took .98 cents off

4 Revlon items (1 concealer stick regularly $9.79 marked down to $2.45 *  1 Fabulash mascara regularly $7.99 marked down to $1.99 *  1 Illuminating creme eye shadow palette regularly $7.39 marked down to $1.85 * and 1 teal eyeliner regularly $7.79 marked down to $1.95) * used 4  $2 off one revlon cosmetic colors item

2 Rimmel mascaras * regularly $7.99 each marked down to $1.99 each * used two $2 off coupons

1 Rimmel blush * regularly $4.99 marked down to $1.25 * used a $1 off coupon

1 Rimmel nail polish * regularly $4.39 marked down to $1.09 * used a $1 off coupon

1 Rimmel lipstick * regularly $7.99 * marked down to $1.99 * used a $1 off coupon

1 Rimmel Matte foundation * regularly $6.89 marked down to $1.72 * used a $1 off coupon

3 Suave deodorants on sale for $1 each * used three .50 cent coupons

2 four packs of Chocolate Pediasure for Kids * regularly $6.89 each marked down to $1.72 each * used two $2 off coupons

On top of  all that I used the $5 off any $15 or more purchase that printed with my first transaction and also used $7 or so in extra bucks that I had from last weeks sales.  I had to pay $2.55 (tax only) and the Manager actually still owed me 35 cents back (and yes, she did give it to me – she figured it out herself!)

#3 We actually stopped by another CVS looking for more of the Pediasure (I still have a ton of coupons for those) and didn’t find any but we did find another Rimmel eye shadow regularly $4.19 marked down to $1.05 and we used a $1 coupon so we had to pay .12 cents

Walgreens sales were not as good but still needed to grab a few items

#1 Bought two Listerine for $5.99 each * used a Walgreens $3 each coupon and one $1 manufacturers coupon * total spent 5.37 (I thought there would be register rewards for this but not!)

#2 Bought one pack of the Scunci hair elastics for $2 and got $2 register rewards back * total spent $2.13

#3 Bought six Nestle candy bars and 4 rolls of paper towels * both had Walgreens coupons in the Sunday sales flyer that was in the paper this past Sunday * Also used my $2 register reward from the Scunci hair elastics and two .50 cents off any two Nestle candy bars * total paid .69 cents

GRAND TOTAL FOR ALL TRANSACTIONS BEFORE COUPONS:  $205.51

GRAND TOTAL PAID OUT OF POCKET AFTER COUPONS:  $12.78

GRAND TOTAL SAVINGS: $192.73

Whoo Hoo!  Shelby was a very happy camper! AND I still have a $1 extra buck to use next time 😀

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Once a month I sit down and actually schedule time for me to spend alone with each of my three daughters.  My son gets one on one time with me every afternoon when he gets out of school and so I try my best to set aside time each month to have mother-daughter dates.

Sometimes we go to the movie, sometimes shopping or running errands and most of the time the date involves going out to eat lunch or grab a snack but we always have a great time!  I can focus on just them ….. they get my undivided attention. Since two of my girls are older and out on their own, it is also gives me time to give more personal advice to them now that they are trying to manuever the “real world”. 

No matter what my financial situation is, I always make time for our dates.  I usually set them well in advance but sometimes they are more spur-of-the-moment.  In the past 7 years I have only skipped the dates one month (there was SO much going on at that time).  I really do make it a priority so that they know they are important to me and that I DO want to listen and be there for them!  All of my girls really look forward to the dates.  Shelby is always asking when our next date is.  Sometimes Louise or Coral will say “I’ll tell you all about it when we go out!”  It is also very reassuring to me that no matter how geeky I look or act, they are not embarassed to be seen in public with me 😉

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So Sundays is usually the day I go coupon shopping at CVS and Walgreens.  I try to go at about 9 or 10 am so that I make sure I get all the deals I am looking for and they aren’t sold out yet (there is a coupon shopper in my area that likes to clean out the shelves – UGH!)

Today I got:

4 bottles Revlon Top Speed nail polish

2 packs Scunci snagless hair elastics

2 Suave deodorant

8 candy bars

1 bottle Tone bodywash

5 rolls paper towels

1 gallon of milk

4 bottles of Suave bodywash

2 bottles of Purex detergent

4 bottles of Axe brand bodywash

Before coupons:  $100.29

After coupons:  $20.01

Shelby likes to go with me now because she knows she gets some of the goodies too!  That’s why there are only 7 candy bars in the picture 😉  She also claimed two bottles of the nail polish and a pack of the Scunci hair elastics.

Remember it’s all about combining sale ads with the coupons!  At CVS you need to get one of their “reward cards” to get the deals but at Walgreens, there is NO card needed!  Which is nice because then you can get some of the deals over and over as long as you check out with “separate transactions”.

I love couponing because it is a great feeling to know that I am saving a lot of money while still getting the things my family needs on a day to day basis.  I never buy things we won’t use anyhow.  Todays haul cost less than just buying 4 bottles of the Axe bodywash at regular price!

It really is a hobby that pays for itself!

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Although it wasn’t planned, apparently this weekend is all about saving money doing some things around the house.

A few months ago I bought Shelby 5 new pairs of jeans.  She then had a growth spurt and shot up a few inches and those pants are now highwaters.  Ugh!  Since there are only a few more weeks of school left, I decided to shorten them all.  Two pairs are going to be altered to “capri” length and two others will become shorts.  That should get her thru the summer and then I will hunt for more jeans in the right size.

Dane is over at a friends house helping him repair his roof.  Actually they will be re-roofing after repairing the existing roof.  While this isn’t saving us any money, it is a reminder that when you need to get something done that might be out of your area of expertise, it is a good idea to check around and see if any of your friends might know how to do the task you need to accomplish.  Dane was a certified contractor for years and he knows what he is doing so his friend is getting years of experience, virtually free.

We have been busy painting the inside of the house.  By keeping an eye on the “oops” paint at the Home Depot we have been able to paint the rooms for very little money.  If you have the patience and are not too picky about color, this might work for you too.  We stay on the lookout for the Behr brand paint that has primer built in.  It retails for over $40 a gallon!  The reason we want to use that paint is that it really covers in one coat.  So far we have been able to manage to paint each room with just one gallon each.  The cost per each gallon of “oops” paint is only $5!  The kitchen is done and the living room is done.  We are working room by room and not rushing it.  We just got paint Friday for the kids room and also found a color for our room so this should be the end of searching for paint.  In the end we will have painted the whole interior of the house for $15 ($5 per room and the gallon for the kids room was free because it had “expired”…..).  We did not worry about painting the bathrooms because we liked those colors.

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Today is my coupon shopping day for the grocery stores. I usually shop a few days a week. Nothing extreme but I do save quite a bit and I have a small stockpile that is growing. I don’t do “extreme couponing” like clearing shelves of all the deodorant or toothpaste in a store but I do pretty good considering that Florida does not double coupons (and I still do not understand WHY WHY WHY???). So, due to popular demand, I am posting the deals I got today!
I ended up with:
4 pounds of Oscar Meyer deli-style lunchmeat
3 tubes of Colgate toothpaste
4 boxes of Ronzoni pasta
2 jars of Prego sauce
2 bottles of K C Masterpiece bbq sauce
2 packages of Chinet napkins
4 (3 lb) bags of Whiskas cat food
2 boxes of Capri Sun
2 (2 liter) bottles of Dr Pepper
4 six packs (24 bottles) of Propel flavored water
3 boxes of Kellogs cereal
The total before coupons was $81.67
I paid, after coupons, $26.88
Not too bad! All it comes down to is watching the sales (I watch Publix, Winn Dixie, CVS and Walgreens) and matching up coupons to the sales. When items are buy one get one free because you are buying two items, you can use two coupons! This makes lots of items free (or moneymakers!)! I typically do NOT buy items I don’t use and I do NOT buy tons of any one thing (like 40 bottles of hot sauce – really? WHAT would I do with 40 bottles of hot sauce???) I also do a lot of couponing for friends and family and have a sort of “on the lookout for” mental list of items they regularly use that I buy for them when there is a great sale!
While the people on the tv show about couponing spend something like 40 hours a week on their deals, I spend a total of 3 hours or so. That is including shopping and clipping and sorting. I tend to clip all my coupons and keep them in a binder so I can see all of them and use the best ones to get the best deals. It also works better for times I am in the store searching for a certain coupon. Having them ALL preclipped works best for me. I just make sure I clip them while I am watching tv or something so I am multi-tasking 😉
I plan on posting more coupon info as I go along so be sure to subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a thing!

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Last year I tured 40. I dreaded it for quite some time. I feel like life is passing me by. I feel like I am at a standstill and I have made no progress, done nothing substantial. Day after day it is the same thing only different. Dare I say that I feel “unfulfilled”? That maybe I have no purpose in life, no passion to pursue, no interests that I can devote enough of my time to.
I had my first child at the age of 18. Pregnant just out of high school. I went from being someones child to having a child. I had no time for self discovery or to find out who I am or what I wanted from life. Two more children followed. Then my last child. My only son. He was diagnosed with Autism 4 years ago and life will never be the same. I have moved from being “Louise’s mom” to “Coral’s mom” to “Shelby’s mom” to “Ben’s mom. Mother of a child with Autism”. It is my current title. Everywhere we go, everything we do it comes up no matter what. I can’t escape it for a day, an hour or a minute.
So, I have been pondering my “purpose in life”. Is this really it? All that is planned for me?
Today I had Ben at therapy and the center we go to has a program for older, challenged children/young adults. There is one boy there in particular (almost a Man) who is just happy all the time. Talks to everyone. Puts his hand up so you can give him “knuckle bumps” and then he will ask a question to start a conversation with just about anyone. Today, after the pre-requisite knuckle bumps, he asked “How was your Mother’s Day?” I responded and he conversed with me for a few minutes, then moved on continuing his duties at the center.
Once I got home I was relaying the encounter to Dane. I was explaining to him that the young man at the center was just so happy to talk to people and would be happy with any job he got to have, even if it was at a fast food restaurant just emptying trash or whatever. He was just happy to be doing something. Anything. Just to be part of the human experience.
That’s when it occurred to me. Maybe that’s it. Maybe my purpose, everyone’s purpose, is just to BE. Be happy. Be productive. Be part of the human race. Stop searching and just BE.

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This is not your typical rant about going shopping and how there are never enough parking spaces and the lines are miles long and their prices seem to be going up and they are carrying less varieites of numerous items. Nope. It is the opposite.
Let me start by saying that I know that there are millions of shopping devotees. I am not one of them. I hate shopping  but I realize that it is a necessary evil.
The reason I hate shopping is that it is emotionally difficult to shop . I have four children (ages 22, 18, 11 and 7). Even when I am shopping by myself, temptation is around every bend. Oh! Ben would LOVE that superhero beach towel! Shelby would look SO cute in that shirt! I think Coral NEEDS new shoes! Didn’t Louise mention WANTING new sunglasses? Argh! It drives me crazy and breaks my heart at the same time.
It is hard to walk thru a store and want the things you see, and that your family could really use, but that you cannot afford. Especially now, with jobs and money the way it is, more and more people cannot afford to just buy things that catch their eye because they need more money for gas, more money for food, more money for everything. Prices are going up but income is not. It actually hurts to shop. I admit it. I am envious of those who can go in and buy whatever they want and not look at the price tags or keep track of what their total is going to be. How nice that is for them! I am not in that category. I just keep telling myself it will all be okay once my lottery numbers hit ……………

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