Is it on Sale?

There is a closet in our basement that I believe was intended for linens or something, but has been repurposed into what I call “The Food Bunker”.

We have four growing boys to feed and that adds up. Our commitment to keeping our spending down involves savvy shopping. Bearded Husband is quite adept at keeping the costs down. He seems to have memorized the standard price of everything.

Me: Hey! Chicken is on sale. I can stop on my way home.

BH: If it’s not less than $3.00 per pound, don’t bother.

I can’t keep those numbers in my head. In fact, I had to check that price with him before I wrote this.

Me: I picked up Oreos, they were on sale.

BH: Less than $1.99? No? Hope you kept the receipt.

Living on a budget means you have to be patient.

Me: We’re out of apples.

BH: I know. I’m waiting for the fall when they go on sale.

I’ll just start taking some Vitamin C supplements for a while.

When there are sales, we stock up. And I mean stock up. That’s when the Food Bunker really comes in handy.

We'll be eating vegetarian for the next while, boys.
We’ll be eating vegetarian for the next while, boys.
No one is allowed to be lactose intolerant for the next few weeks.
No one is allowed to be lactose intolerant for the next few weeks.
You may have sliced black olives or French sliced black olives, but no kalamata - they weren't on sale.
You may have sliced black olives or French sliced black olives, but no kalamata – they weren’t on sale.
You are in luck, natural AND processed peanut butter were on sale.
You are in luck, natural AND processed peanut butter were on sale.

The boys have grown up with the understanding that very little is bought that is not on sale, or at the very least on for a reasonable price. But they use this knowledge to try to get non-essentials into the grocery cart.

Son: Oh! Can we get these? Look, they are on sale. I love those chips.

Me: That’s a featured item, it’s not on sale.

_______

Son: Can we get some Fruit to Gos?

Me: Not on sale.

Son: But that is a good price…

________

Son: Cheesestrings are ON SALE. Can we get some? You never buy us those.

Me: Nope, still a rip-off.*

_______

Living within our means and keeping to a budget doesn’t mean we don’t treat ourselves, though. In fact, look what we are enjoying today (please ignore the pink sticker).

photo-9
I haven’t indulged in these because raisins are involved.
photo-8
They might be 50% off, but they are 100% delicious.

What do you do to save a buck or two? Seriously, I’d really like to know.

_____________

*More of my thoughts on Cheesestrings coming soon.

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Me, The Maze, and My Boys

The boys begged me to take them to a local farm that has some fun attractions, including a corn maze. So one morning we hopped in the van and took off in hopes of high adventure in a corn field. We were not disappointed.

Come see our fortress!
Come see our fortress!

“The maze is ready!”

“This way, Mommy!”

“Come on, Number 3, let’s go see! We’ll show you around!”

“I wonder if they made it trickier this year!”

The Bigs could not wait to get going and rushed ahead, encouraging their younger brother.

“Don’t worry, Mommy, he’ll be with us,” they reassured me.

I was in charge of the littlest Little who was not going to let those big boys out of his sight.

The first time I took them in the maze I had Number 3 in the baby carseat and was hesitant to let them explore. The owner knows me and could see the slight worry on my face as I contemplated how I would schlep the baby and the boys through the mucky field.  She asked her kids to take the boys through and they were thrilled. And I released my hold on my boys a little.

The next year the four of us went in together. Number 3 was toddling after his brothers while I stuck close behind him, catching him before he tripped on a rogue cornstalk or tumbled a little on some uneven ground.  I could here the older boys giggling with delight as they tricked me, hiding between the rows. And I released my hold a bit more.

Wait for me, guys!
Wait for me, guys!

The third year, I had a newborn again, but had grown wiser and put him in the Baby Bjorn so I could venture into the maze with the three boys. Now the games included Tag, Hide-and-Seek, and racing back to the top. I lagged behind, but was able to keep them mostly in my sights. And my tether to them lengthened and loosened again.

Last year, our baby boy was a spunky one-year-old up on Daddy’s shoulders, then Mommy’s shoulders, then back to Daddy. He loved spying his big brothers from his perch way up high. There was no point in trying to hide with him on your team since his excited yelps gave us away every time. My baby was becoming a Boy. And I released my hold on them a little bit more.

This year, we had incredible fun together, me and my boys. The only rule I had was that if I called their name really loud, they had to reply so I knew they were okay. And I promised them that if they needed me or just wanted to know where I was that if they called, I’d stand in one spot yelling, “Right here!” until they found me.

You can learn a lot from a corn maze.

There are many different paths, some short, some long, some smooth, some a tad treacherous, and it’s up to you to choose which one you want to try. It’s okay to double-back and try another path because eventually you’ll get to where you need to be.

You can choose to run, walk, or saunter. Maybe do a little bit of each.

You never know when you might discover a hidden fortress, a secret lair, or an amazing spot for a fort. It’s okay to go off the well-trod path, but not forever. Someone made the paths for you because they knew the best way to travel through.

A corn maze can be fun on your own, but it is better with a friend, and even better with a group. Sometimes it is good to hold hands, but it’s okay to let go, too.

There are dips and bumps and mud and itchy things along the way, but the adventure is worth it.

And if you ever feel alone or afraid or unsure, stop and call your mom.

“I’m right here. Right here.”

I Can Be Your Hero, Baby

I’m currently sporting bruises and scrapes in numerous places all over my body: arms, shins, wrists, bum. You will not believe how I got them.

I'll spare you the picture of the bruise on my behind.
I’ll spare you the picture of the bruise on my behind.

The boys and I were playing at the park the other day. It was gorgeous weather,  just the perfect temperature to be outside. We’d brought snacks along and intended to make the most of the morning. Suddenly, out of nowhere comes this little boy we’ve never seen before on one of those battery-operated Jeeps for lazy kids.

“It won’t stop! Make it stop” he screamed.

A good deal farther back was his very pregnant mom who was doing her best to catch him, but the odds were not in her favour.

My instincts kicked in immediately and I swiftly dismounted from the monkey bars, quite smoothly except for grazing my left forearm against the support railing. I didn’t feel a thing because when you’re being a hero, you ignore all pain. I hurdled over the springy airplane riding feature, banging my shin in the process. I dashed to the pathway and the run-away motorist.

Have you ever tried to stop one of those mini-Jeeps? Neither had I. He was moving at a good clip, but I caught up and was running alongside him.

“Press the brake! The brake!” I shouted.

“I AM, it’s not working!”

I grabbed the back to make it slow down, but that kid clearly had cruise control locked on “fast”. He was heading towards a hill which could have been advantageous except it was on a decline. With little time to think, I did what any hero would do: I jumped in front and stopped that Jeep with my own body.

Everyone at the park dashed over, clapping and cheering. Eventually his mom caught up to us and through tears of relief thanked me for intervening.

It was unbelievable. And I have the bruises to prove it. Unbelievable I tell you.

Unreal.

Like out of a made-for -TV movie.

Alright, alright. I wish I had an amazing story to explain all my recent injuries, but sadly, I do not.

Are you ready for the real story?

We were biking down the street and out of nowhere a baby stroller came careening down a driveway. I jumped off my bike, remembering to put the kickstand down first, and bolted —-

Alright, that’s not what happened, either.

Fine, the truth. I was washing the front windows and heard a cat meowing plaintively across the street on the neighbour’s roof. A vicious, probably rabid, racoon had it cornered. I threw down my washcloths and sprinted over, dodging several cars on my way —

Ok, Ok.

We were playing Smurf Tag at the park and I slipped on the mulch, scraping my shin in the process (couldn’t shave for three days while it healed).

The bruise on my bum and the scrape on my right arm were due to falling off a stationary scooter. I wasn’t even moving.

Finally, we were playing Canadian Ninja Warrior Tag at a different park and as I tried to elude Bearded Husband (the boys were playing, too, settle down) I slipped on the wooden railing, banging my left forearm, right shin (again) and the back of my right knee.

Nothing glamourous about those injuries, but I did live to tell the tale.

————–

Best injury story you’ve got – let’s hear it.

*If you’d like to read a true and entertaining injury story, check this post “Told You So” by Amanda over at http://www.mandiemarie.com – I like to call it “Line Drive of Doom”.

Insideous

Generally speaking, I’m a pretty cautious boy. Sure, I’ve ridden in a laundry basket a tad too close to the stairs, but who hasn’t? I have fallen out of the tub, but I was young and didn’t know better. Doesn’t everyone run around a pool? It’s far too tempting.

I have done my share of jumping on the bed and to her credit, my mom has told me repeatedly to stop it. Usually she references the kid across the street who broke his arm jumping on his bed (dummy). But it is so springy. And I have some pretty great dance moves that just cry out for a mattress to showcase them.

Ok, I’ll admit that naked wrestling with my brothers showed a lack of good judgement. Ditto on naked couch hopping. But I stand behind my invention of underwear bedroom hurdles. It’s amazing.

In hindsight, I’m relieved that Mom shut down some of my riskier activities. She was probably right that box-tobogganing down the stairs was dangerous. Putting a lanyard around my brother’s neck as a dog leash did restrict his breathing so, good call, Mom.

For all her warnings and worrying, you’d think she would have foreseen the real safety hazard in our house. It’s been sitting in our cupboard for years – and she’s the one who brought that menace into our home.

I’m not talking about matches, sharp knives, or scissors. I’ve never done anything questionable with those. No, the real instrument of pain was lurking in the sewing basket all along. It beckoned me with it’s tempting blue switch and curved exterior. I admit that part of my motivation was to make the brothers laugh, but you never know the purpose of a new tool unless you test it out, right? Who WOULDN’T think it was meant for your underarm?

There was pain, skin was broken, blood appeared. And then I heard Mom say, “Next time, check with me before you use the clothes shaver on your armpit.” Too little, too late, Mom.

I blame myself. I blame the manufacturer. Mostly I blame my mom.

Do not be duped by it's size. It's gonna get you.
Do not be duped by it’s size. It’s gonna get you.

My Polyester Dad

My dad and I have a special relationship. It might be because we are both the baby in the family or just the way the genetics worked out. Nature versus nurture – who knows? I do know that it’s been a good thing, mostly.

I was born in the seventies, so our photo albums are rife with interesting clothing choices. He had a lot of polyester. A LOT. Our family photo from 1976 shows him sporting a sweet red suit. And he had the fashion sense to match it with something like this (and yes, he had tinted glasses – better to go all-in, right?):

Courtesy of dressthatman.com (really wishing I'd saved some of Dad's stuff right now).
Courtesy of dressthatman.com (really wishing I’d saved some of Dad’s stuff right now).

Then there was the infamous animal shirt. I think my brother at one point refused to be seen in public if Dad wore it.

It was just like this, but with more ducks.
It was just like this, but with more ducks.

Guys, these examples pale in comparison to The John Deere Snowmobile Suit.

One piece.

Bright green.

And, according to Dad, it wasn’t limited to snowmobiling.

He wasn't being ironic
He wasn’t being ironic and yes, it was that green.

It was the early eighties. I was about 9 or 10, tagging along on some errands with my dad. I guess it was winter because he was wearing the JDSS. We must have gone to the usual spots – gas station, possibly Canadian Tire, with a final stop at Big V Drugstore (raise your hand if you remember those).

I was in the cosmetics aisle checking out the various choices of nail polish and lip glosses when from at least two rows over I heard, “Jan! JAN! JANICE!!  Something in his voice told me to duck and cover but it was too late. He rounded the corner and spotted me, held up a big blue box and asked, “ARE THESE THE TAMPONS YOUR MOM USUALLY BUYS?”

Dad, I am grateful that I inherited many of your excellent qualities, one of which is the ability to laugh at yourself. I am equally grateful that I inherited Mom’s “indoor voice”. Happy Father’s Day.

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Dad was always game for the photo booth at the mall.