Operation Canadian Tuxedo, Day Two

As I predicted, I didn't have the best night's sleep last night. It wasn't the kids. The knowledge I am here alone with these two precious little lives always gets me as I try to close my eyes, even if I know Steve will be home later that night. I think we were all a little off and more than a little sleepy without Daddy.

Tonight the plan was the British Beer Company for dinner. Kids eat free Monday nights. Kiki and Papa graciously offered to accompany us. I haven't attempted a dinner out with the kids solo EVER because I am not that insane and completely aware of just how difficult they can be with TWO adults. Surely with THREE we had this in the bag right?

Wrong.

Connor at age two was far better behaved than his sister who yelled, lay down on the booth, hit me (!?), and in general did everything she possibly could to be distracting, disgusting (burping!). No serious eye contact, threat, or even the brief bathroom talking to made a dent in her atrocious and embarassing behavior. If I had been alone we would not have gotten past the chocolate milk, but with Kiki and Papa's assistance we made it work. They were increibly patient and understanding, but Caroline had been so terrible throughout that I offered to send along "proof of life" in the morning.

I was quick to point out on the ride home how proud Papa had been of Connor for being such a good boy, eating  his whole meal, and behaving so well. He chirped the whole way back, "Connor good boy." I always find that this is the best strategy for dealing with this kind of bad behavior. If we talk about it all the way home, she cries and whines. If we instead focus on how well Connor did, she loses her mind because of good ol' sibling rivalry. Miss Claire from school gave me a good strategy too; wait a minute, let it sink in, let them reflect, and THEN talk about it. Sure enough, when I plopped her pajama'd body up on the counter at 7:15 for teeth brushing, she was apologetic and tearful and feeling so bad about how things had gone. When I asked her what was happening lately with this behaviour, she said her body had changed. What does that mean? Her ultimate punishment was listening to Connor in our bedroom snuggling and watching Handy Manny.

So Operation Canadian Tuxedo hit a bump on Day Two, but we are one day closer to Steve coming home. He's doing well and shared with me tonight that "it's like college." They spent the whole day in class, went to dinner, had a few drinks and are hunkering down to study for the night because there is a test in the morning. He is waking up at 5:30 to study. I repeat. He is waking up at 5:30 to study. Something tells me that this wasn't exactly the college experience he had at BC.

We're looking forward to some FaceTime in the morning with Daddy.

Operation Canadian Tuxedo - 1/2 Day One

The week we have been dreading since Steve took his new position is upon us. He left this afternoon for a week of training in Canada. It was probably best that the kids and I weren't there when his car service came to collect him. The tears in the car as we drove off to Caroline's final hockey session were enough. The moment my feet released the brake on the car and we rolled back, Caro was in near hysterics. To his credit, Steve had handled it well; pulling them each aside to talk individually, reassuring them, and requesting that they both be good helpers.

As I said, we have been anticipating this week for over a month now. I've had time to plan and prepare a strategy. Enter "Operation Canadian Tuxedo." It's a plan of distraction and I'm okay with it. I think I'm actually one of the distractees as well.

Today was 1/2 Day One of the Operation which neither of the children can pronounce, yet. Not only did we leave the house on time for hockey, but I also managed to keep Connor safe while simultaneously getting Caroline's skates appropriately tight and tied. She had fallen asleep in the car on the ride over and when she grumpily hmmpphh'd me as I snapped her helmet straps, I questioned her about if she was just too tired. "No, I want to go on the ice!" Oh, ok then. Snap. Snap. Snap. She skated out there with such confidence, stick in hand (seriously, amazing), and had the best session of her entire three session season. She hopped on command, spun on whistle, skated fast, caught her coach during "catch the coach," and I swear to you when they tossed the pucks on the ice and she started kicking it with her skate blade, I nearly fell over. I thought this was the pinnacle of the lesson until I watch slack jawed as she passed a puck back and forth with her favorite High School Helper friend, good ol' #20. Connor cheered for her, yelling to her on the ice, not realizing the glass was in the way. His sister had a puck, what could ever be more cool, and she was his hero. And Steve missed it. It wasn't fair. When it was all over, I collected her from the ice and gave her the biggest high five and set out with the next challenge; removal of hockey equipment and exit strategy.

While I wrestled with tape on her socks, her coach came over and tapped her shoulder, "You did such a great job today, I'm so proud of you." I thanked him for all his efforts and commended him on the strides the kids have taken this session, "She is a joy, truly." And Steve missed it. And it still wasn't fair, but it doesn't change the amazing transformation we have seen since October. She could barely skate in the fall and she was out there today with a stick and a puck. Unreal. We'll see how she feels about going back when fall rolls around again.

My plan for the rest of the afternoon depended on the mood in the car on the way home and when she was energized and feeling good, we took option A and headed to the playground at the school she will attend next fall. We haven't been yet because it is across town (I know, all the way across town, ha!) and that made it all the more special. They raced around, held hands on the slide, and twirled together on the tire swing. If it had not been for a bathroom emergency, we would have been there until right before dinner, but we made a swift departure when "I don't have to go" turned into "I have to go right now!" She was so impressed that it only took a few minutes to get home, which I hope will only add to the allure of kindergarten.



I have some fun things planned for the time Steve is in Canada. I know that many people (hi Auntie) do this all the time and I reminded myself of that in all my panicked preparations. I don't think any of us are looking forward to this week, no matter how many fun little things I plan, but we are making the best of it to get us through. The week has to be about more than just surviving. We all deserve more than just getting by, Steve included.

(this is from tonight's goodnight facetime session)



I'll be detailing the results of Operation Canadian Tuxedo as we go. I hope you will join us, actual Canadian tux optional.

Magical fiblet

I've been hastily marking off "morning stars" for the kids on a piece of scrap paper in the car. I open the garage, put the car in gear and scribble them off before we hightail it down the driveway and head to school to begin our days and more importantly, close the door firmly on the morning rush. They have been doing well, but the morning routine wears on me some days when they won't leave each other alone, or one of them refuses to stop whining, and I inevitably lose my temper. They can each max out with five stars, but the number is pretty arbitrary really. Did she get dressed without screaming? Did Connor put his shoes on? Did they treat each other nicely? Were they good listeners? Did they hop into the car without the entire neighborhood hearing we are GETTING IN THE CAR NOW?! Earlier this week, I added myself to the star list. If Mommy doesn't lose it, if there is not one single voice raise, or exasperated sigh, I get my star too. I don't think I will help myself to anything from the dollar bin target treat bag, but I'll feel better if I can get that star most days. The rides to and from school present other challenges. Like for instance Patriot's Day,when I looked back at my cherubs and tried to call a landscaper to mulch for us and he was treated to a free for all in the back seat that no evil eye via the rear view was going to fix. Seriously, did it ever work? For anyone? Some nights I happen to have the kids in the car when steve calls to say he is on his way home and on those days our calls are very short because one of them is touching the other one, or Connor is kicking his window, or Caroline is correcting something Connor said and he is screaming "no!" Caroline hates the ride home because it takes too long/15 minutes. Tonight we were talking about how it might rain tomorrow and "awww! I don't want it to rain!" Actual tears. I opted for silly and made several failed attempts to change the weather with "magic words and a pretend magic wand." Meltdown avoided. Then it was a red traffic light. "Awwww, why does it have to be red?!" Seriously? I took a deep breath and thought of the first thing that came to mind. "let's see if you can change the light from red to green. Focus as hard as you can on something green." I saw her skeptical eyebrow scrunch and then suddenly, "trees!" and I swear to you, that light turned green, and you would have thought she was capable of moving mountains with her brain she was so excited about her magic. She was all warmed up to try it again at the next one, but it was green when we got there. Sensing rising disappointment, I asked her, "have youu been thinking about green things this whole time? You must have been?" "I was! I really was." Those exasperated moments used to make me batty, setting up lectures about patience, and practicality and the rules of the road. Those little lectures go nowhere and this little magic fiblet was may more fun. Plus, I go tmy star, there was an executive decision from the backseat to use e star system for the ride home too. Stars, green things and magic powers, ah to be five.

babyproofing danger

It was a forgotten glass. A glass of orange juice, reading books and watching Wallace and Grommit on Netflix, a regular Saturday morning at McCasa. Steve's call from the family room was different. It wasn't a "bring a towel, someone spilled" kind of call. Like all things like this, the slow motion set in and I turned the corner to find her tear filled face, foot in her father's hand. My instincts kicked in and we got her to the kitchen counter to get a better look. Top of her right foot and then suddenly, oh god, her left great toe. Neither one would stop bleeding long enough to assess. I got her into a chair, propped her feet onto the table, put a pillow behind her back. Elevate the feet above the heart. It sounded right. Pressure. Lots of pressure with stark white dampened Bounty towels.

(Insert non-helpful parenting failure dialogue here.)

Instead of all that self loathing and disappointment in myself, instead I'll tell you about all the googling I have done on wound care. How I am focused on keeping this wound clean and moist and headed in the direction of healing. I am surpremely disappointed in myself, but as everyone keeps pointing out, it was an accident. I still cannot figure how the glass got broken in the first place. Did it get broken and then she grazed by it with her feet? Scary pointy edges screaming at me from the kitchen counter. Your mind goes right to the what ifs and it isn't hard to imagine way worse scenarios. I thank god that it was her foot and not... well, let's just leave it at that. Stitches could have been a welcome alternative if she had been facing the other way.

(Gulp)

Lesson learned, we need a coffee table. We have been living without one intending to make the kid's play environment less dangerous. They are old enough to deal with a coffee table now and though I shiver at the thought of the addition of yet another clutter prone surface in the house, I know that ironically the coffee table that once threatened their lives (or at least their soft spots), could now save them (or at least prevent injury). I'd rather have them bump their heads on a table than lay them out on one to adminster first aid.

I hold Caro's precious little feet in my hands, carefully, gently removing band aids, cleaning, applying neosporin, fresh dressings. Little feet that could have been damaged severely. Little feet that still have so much to do, so much dancing, running, journeying. It's more than the feet. Things like this make you take inventory of lots of things and you become thankful for even the things in your life that madden you. Yeah, I'm open to some head bumps. Time to get my Pinterest on for the all important life saving table.

Monadnock

Steve surprised me with a night away for my birthday this past weekend. He knew better to spring it on me the day of or even the night.  He knew I would want/need to stock up on snacks and change out the towels for my parents and tidy up and wrap my head around being away for the night.

It started out on an unfortunate low note when a stray juice glass (MINE!) got broken and a certain five-year-old girl cut her left great toe and took a rather large chunk out of the top of her right foot. I was just about to hop into the shower when I heard the unmistakable fear call of "Kerri!" from the family room. We acted quickly, elevating legs above the heart, applying pressure, calling Kiki. No stitches, this time. Again, we creep closer and closer to the exciting "baby's first stitches." It was hard to pull ourselves away from her, but we did and she was fine, scratched up and not up to wearing shoes, but fine.

Here is some of what we saw while we enjoyed a little B&B near Keene, a gorgeous sunny day, some brewery pints, and an amazing dinner. A birthday to remember.










crow sandwich

I had a bit of a temper tantrum at school last week when Connor was sent home for the second time in three days due to fever. The first call came Tuesday afternoon. I was sitting with a patient considering hospice services when the phone rang and my stomach went into my throat. I really should edit the name of school to "PANIC" or "Deep beaths" because either of those would be more appropriate considering the undeniable reactions that take place in my brain when school's name flashes on my screen.

The report from school was a 102 temp. I wrote in on my notebook. Circled it. Try to be calm and supportive while that number screams at you off your notepad, mocking you. We were almost done with our visit, just setting up things like equipment and admission time. When I got to school, he was asleep on his mat. He had fallen asleep on his teacher's shoulder during outside recess, unprecedented. Children had walked over him while he lay sleeping, seriously? He looked like a sad puppy.

Connor spent the next day with Kiki, where he talked non-stop, turned a drinking straw into a hockey stick and in general was the complete opposite of feverish sick toddler. So off to school he went on Thursday, and back I went early in the afternoon to collect him again, fever of 102.6.

He greeted me with, "mommy, I laying down." We scooped up the big sister and had a nice little quiet afternoon together. Seeing as how he had a temp again, he spent Friday with Kiki as well. Again, a perfectly healthy boy.

I went off a bit. I found an article about temperatures and shared it with the Director. I took issue with school using an under arm axillary temp and adding a degree, particularly when I took the temps at home the moment we walked in the door and found them to be 99 using a temporal (fever threshold for this type of thermometer is 100.4). Nowhere near close to the 102.6 reported and mysteriously lowered without intervention of any kind. I especially took issue when they took the temp immediately following nap time, hello sweaty warm from sleep and blanket heat arm pit temp. I voiced my displeasure, acknowledging their policies, but disagreeing. Conspriacy theories are a must in McCasa when these things happen. Playing the day care sick day game can be dangerous and you must be sure of your move or you will lose not just a day and half, but much much more. School after just a one day sick window is always marking them for thermometer selection.

While training for the arena, the Gamemakers watch the children, surverying them for any small sign of weakness. In these moments, I wish I could drop a silver parachute out of their sight with an amazing something to rescue him from persecution.

(I just finished the Hunger Games trilogy and briefly considered a whole big Hunger Games metaphor, but thought it would take away from the very real frustration I am feeling.)

Frustration over how just one groggy moment, any sign of lethargy, an indication of not being completely well and poof, they are on the phone. This also infuriates me because yes, he was "sick" yesterday, he cannot possibly just one day later be completely 110% better. It is just unrealistic and while I would love to keep him home with me until he is, let's be serious and honest, it isn't at all realistic.  Thank goodness we have a Kiki around the corner.

I stewed, I considered (and am still considering) getting a temporal to "donate" because, enough. It just feels a bit too convenient to me and it's clear from a historical perspective that these fevers (while present) are grossly embellished. How does a child with a 102.6 temp, 101.6 minus that ridiculous degree somehow miraculously barely meet the fever threshold when we get home? It just doesnt sit well.

Then Saturday happened. We split up in the morning. Steve took Connor to get his haircut. Caroline and I hit the market and clinched an amazing tag sale find of at least one hundred tiny little people pieces from MY era of little people. You know the ones I am referring to don't you? As I was checking out at Stop and Shop, I got a frenzied call from Steve, Connor was shaking. He was warm. Medicine had been given, but he was getting warmer. Racing in the door and upstairs I found him snuggled with Steve in a blanket, with goop coming out of his left ear in copious, frightening amounts. A ruptured eardrum? Worse? We got the last appointment at the pedi for the afternoon and his color was gone, sickly eyes turned down. clinging to me, quiet, not running away. This was bad.

Diagnosis, double ear infection, and a pretty bad one she thinks. Goop likely leaking from his one working tube. Phew. Antibiotics. Bummer. Home. Rest. He slept until about 4 and then asked to go back to bed after eating practically nothing for dinner at 5:30. Limp in my arms, snuggling, quiet. His fever raged despite meds, reaching 103 and then some sending me into a near panic, but he was resting, not crying. I readied my evacuation plan to the closest hospital or urgent care, monitored, wringing my hands, googling. I let him be and the fever broke and he has been fine ever since.

Not a single ear pull. Not a wince, not an ow, not a "my ear hurts." Not a single hint this was happening. Poor Con. I'm feeling slightly guilty about my little temperature tirade with school, but I'm eating this crow sandwich in silence. Yes, he was actually sick after all, but their policy is still for the birds.

#

At least once a week I accidentally pull up our old address in CT on my GPS. Our house number is the same as one of my office locations. I repeatedly push "cancel," but I'm usually too late and the route sits there for a moment, three hours away.

I am caught off guard every time it happens. I feel a pang. It isn't regret. It isn't sadness. It is more like an acknowledgement of how far we used to be from the streets I drive each day, how foreign all of this was just a short time ago. I stare at the route for a moment and then re-navigate to my office. Just like that, Connecticut is behind me again, and I'm cruising once again through the Pru tunnel. In 2001, we drove that tunnel every weekend to go from Brighton to the beach. I was always taken back by the startling view, the city right there above, beside, all around me. It was a different vantage point then my pedestrian view. I still get that home feeling when I drive the Pike through the city, or head north on 93 and pass the gas tank, or even down the street on Route 1 when I crest that hill and the city is silhouetted there in the distance against the clouds. That GPS makes me realize the journey we have taken, all that has happened, changed, and remains the same. It makes me nostalgic for what was, in some ways, an easier time.  I set my course to a place most days I avoid going to if at all possible. It will happen again, in a week's time or less and I cannot help but think there must be some cosmic reason this address remains in "recent destinations" over two years later.

E.B.

Peter Cottontail only half came to McCasa this year. As many of you might have seen on facebook, Caroline's behavior has been bordering on justifiable homicide.  It leaves me wanting to tear the hair (she so thoughfully turned grey) out of my head. I hate screaming and if I am being honest, there has been a lot of screaming. The sass. The back talk. The sharp  "No!" that seems to be her reply to every request. The whining.The crying on a dime. The bargaining. After behavior so bad on Saturday night, despite reminders that the Bunny was coming to her house, we did the unthinkable and placed her basket out of reach on top of the toaster with a note thanking her for the carrots and explaining that E.B. was very aware of the naughty behavior and that this basket was here, but she could only have it if Mommy and Daddy felt she had earned it. I know. It's the Easter Bunny. How can I use it against her? Well, I did and it was awful and hard and there were so many tears and I didn't cave. Connor, as I predicted, held out treasured basketball eggs filled with mini peanut butter cups. Also as predicted, Caroline refused, slumping on the couch a pile of sad Easter tears. Steve said the message would be completely lost on her, but it wasn't. She sat at the table for dinner. She behaved. She listened better than she had been, not that this is saying much. We deemed her behavior "basket appropriate" and she happily changed her clothes and ripped open the Color Wonder fingerpaint E.B. had brought them. The message had not been lost, but wow, we need to get this behavior under control.

We don't have photos of the tear-filled morning, but we do have these sweet moments.












permanent

One morning this week Caroline pulled a piece of sidewalk chalk from the bin in the garage while I hustled them out to the car. Before I could stop her she drew a line on the garage floor. "NO!" Tears. We have reached the place I have been dreading when she fears the consequences of her mistakes and "making Mommy mad." I've been trying to be more invested in how I handle these things, to be sure to point out to her why Mommy is upset and not just focus on what she did. She really values my approval right now. I know it is important to show her there is more than just lectures.

As we rolled down the driveway, I took a deep breath and I knew exactly what to tell her. My mind drifted back to days spent playing with Play Doh in the basement, watching my brother occasionally sample its saltiness, and jumping each time the sump pump kicked on. I relayed the story of her Granda, the painter. His chosen medium was oil paint on canvas. He had plentiful tubes of green and blue for seascapes and he occasionally (and generously) would set me up with a canvas and his paints in the basement. When the canvases were gone, I used paper. When the paper was gone, I used the floor. I know. I told her how I hadn't considered the permanent nature of oil paint and what a mess it was for my parents. I emphasized how sad it made me to have made the wrong choice. There will forever be a stain marking this terrible mistep of my childhood on their basement floor. I reminded her that chalk can be swept away and not at all like that paint. I reminded her that all kids make mistakes and Mommy certainly made her fair share (ie cutting gum from her hair).

I am planning to show her the stain this weekend when we are at Nana and Granda's for Easter. It's a lesson in the permanence some mistakes have and a reminder to think before we do.

Greetings

We know Caroline is awake when he hear someone crying softly in the morning. She is not a fan of the dark and the early morning winter darkness was a real challenge for her this year. Since we got the "Okay to Wake Clock" it has been a bit better, she knows when it is ok to leap out of bed and race into ours. Daylight savings has helped too. Still, some mornings I have to call out to her, "it's okay, come in." Since Steve took this new job, she is often retrieved from her bed still sleeping to help her wake up. She is not a morning person, but neither am I, especially without my customary "two snoozes." She loves to snuggle and the initial sadness of her day gives way to smiles and "love mommy. You make me so happy Mama." With her warm little body beside me, it is doubly hard to heft myself out of bed. By the time I emerge from the shower, towel wrapped on top of my head, Oil of Olay applied, she is the virtual opposite of that initial wake up.

Most mornings Connor is still asleep when I pull the cords on his shades. Do you recall this kid's non-sleeping early life that had me on the brink of a nervous breakdown? When I do gently rouse him, he is ready to jump out of his crib before his eyes are completely open. He lumbers to standing while squinting at me through half sleep. He gathers all four of his little loveys and holds his arms out to me and we start this day the way we ended the last; his head on my shoulder, the weight of his growing body in my arms. One recent morning, he woke before I could get to him and greeted me warmly. "I had good dreams." I'm pretty sure he doesn't really know what a good dream is, but he knows I ask him every morning, "did you have good dreams?"

They are challenging and I cheer for them when we FINALLY make it into the car and open the garage door. I'm proud of them, how they have adjusted, how they go with the flow and understand that "breakfast on the go" needs to happen sometimes. This is by far the hardest part of my entire day, but my mornings with these two are the things good dreams are made of.

arm clutching

Bedtime. That window of blurry, frenzied time between endless games of hockey and an adults only episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix. From the moment we declare the play portion of the evening over and give the command to go upstairs, there is much grousing and belly aching. The tubs themselves go swimmingly (har!), happy giggles abound, squirty toys emptied into each other's faces. We divide and conquer and somehow the littlest one always wants Mommy. He kicks. I threaten to take away his story. He kicks again. I hold him down. The two of them race down the hall and pile onto the living room sofa where they argue about which books we will read. Requests for "Take Garbage Out" from Con can always be counted on. (That's Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out.") Caroline wants George because she knows she can bamboozle me into reading more than one in the anthology. Protests come when the stories end and Connor is collected into my arms for the walk back down the hall to his bedroom. Caroline sneaks off downstairs with Steve for some quiet time making Cake Doodles on the iPad or catching American Idol. (She wants to be the next American Idol SO.BAD.)

There in his room, I wrap him in the blanket that has been his special one since as long as I can remember and he lays his head on my shoulder. I hold my breath in hopes that he is tired enough to accept his fate. This never lasts long and undoubtedly his head springs up and he is again studying my shirt or my necklace. I find he does better when I talk to him about his day and what he will do the next day. ("Tomorrow when you wake up Nana will be here!" "Granda?")Sometimes I sing him "you are my sunshine"/""in arms, mommy?" as he lays there on his back staring into my soul.

This time is a rarity. Our whirling, non-stop, hockey playing, energy machine sits quietly. He clings to my hand and holds it close to his body. His eyes wide, his calmness ovewhelming. When I start to close it down, he relents, pulling my arm closer, asking to touch my face, saying my name over and over. I used to do this to my father. I would convince him to come in to say goodnight to me and I would try to keep him there with me. I remember him laughing about, saying "okay, okay, okay" and pulling himself away. I know how he felt. The freedom of his night ahead, but the sweet kid in the bed who wants just one more moment with him. lt feels pretty good to be that person to my Con.

daycare pause

I'm sure that most Moms with kids in preschool or daycare do this. I race to pick them up and thanks to the big windows into the classrooms, I can hang back and pause at the windows. I love to peek into their solo worlds. Who are they playing with? What are they playing with? Are they listening to the teacher? Most importantly, are they smiling?

I occasionally catch Connor gathering with the rest of the 2's around his teacher, all listening INTENTLY to a story. (How they get them ALL to sit down ALL at once?) I breeze by Caroline's room and watch her snuggling a baby or sharing the mouse to 1,2,3 Spanish with a friend. These tiny moments sustain me during the day when I wonder how they are doing.

When I got to school today, both of the kid's classrooms were outside on the playgrounds, or as Caroline says, "the play structures." I peeked out at the older kids and caught sight of Caroline's purple jacket racing along with a friend. I walked into Con's room, gathered up his belongings, reviewed his daily, and walked outside. I caught sight of his red jacket and followed it to the fence that seperates his play area from the preschool area. There at the fence line, I watched a red jacket and purple jacket meet face to face at the fence. I watched in slow motion as they clasped hands through the fence, completely unaware I was watching.

"It's ok buddy, I'm sure Mommy will be here soon."

and I was upon them and they looked up and smiled.

"See, I told you!"

That little moment at the fence is going to sustain my working hours for weeks.

clipped cash

Have I turned into the crazy coupon lady?

It all started back in February when I was debating various Valentine's Day gifts for Steve. The holiday falls in a hard place for me; not long after the holidays, just after the kids' birthdays, and just two weeks before his own. I usually have something in mind for his birthday and this year was no different.

Boconi 'Leon Slim Mailbag' Messenger Bag

I knew I had a slam dunk birthday gift, but what of Valentine's Day? It is a bit of a challenge to come up with that in between holiday; something not too big, but still meaningful. After much debate, I opted for a Sunday subscription to the Boston Globe. Steve loves his Sunday Sports page. If we happen to be somewhere with access to the real live newspaper, he reads it cover to cover. Don't bother talking to him, he is reading the box score. His first edition arrived that weekend, right on schedule, tossed to the edge of the driveway. I have to admit that as much as that sports page is for him, I pour through the rest. That first Sunday, I breezed through the Arts and Real Estate and there, cradled in the middle, were the circulars, wrapped in the funnies. I couldn't just throw them away, I thought, "let's just take a look."

I was skeptical. I've clipped some before only to have them sit somewhere ignored and forgetten until they expire and I trash them. I even forget to bring my extra bucks to CVS and that little machine in the store to check your card? I never remember until I am walking out after spending way more than I thought I would. I try to be as spendthrift as I can. I make out like a bandit on the consignment sales for the kids. I scroll through the Zulilly and Mini Social emails. I'm always on the hunt for a way to save us more dough and put more money into the fun pile. I do most of the shopping and I like it that way. I keep track of what we need, how much we have tucked into the closet, waiting to pounce on the Bounty Big Buy when it comes up again because I know we are frightfully low on paper towels. My job allows me some flexibility with where and when I shop and I know this gives me a tremendous edge. I am typically not flying through the market tossing things in just to get the hell out of there before this entire store plays witness to one of my children's untimely demise, because the sassing. Last weekend, I announced to Caroline that while she had a beautiful name, I was quite sure all of Stop and Shop was quite sick of hearing it being called out again and again and if I had to say her name again I was changing it to Brunhilda. It worked. I suppose even a five-year-old does not want to be called Brunhilda.

I've seen Extreme Couponing on TLC. I am decidely equaly parts impressed and disgusted to be honest. The savings, Wow! The shelf clearing greediness? Not so much. I clipped a few that first week and tucked them into an envelope, forcing myself to remember where I hid it the following Sunday when it was time to shop again. I outgrew my little envelope, more out of necessity of organization, than quantity. I'm sure I spent the first few weeks savings on my little Martha for Avery at Staples Binder. It's adorable and it has little pockets for everything. I think I might like couponing JUST to flex my organization skills.

I'd say I'm saving around $10-$15 dollars a week using my clipped coupons. I don't look online for additional ones and I haven't even looked up the match ups. I do it myself, comparing my circular to my binder and skipping a little bit when I find a particularly good thing. Since I only clip what I know we use regularly, I'm not worried that I am buying a ton of extra stuff that will just sit. I still tackle my circular the same way; first taking stock of what we have and buying as much of our weekly shopping from the sale items as possible. I haven't created a stock in the garage of a year's worth of Angel Soft, and I don't intend to.

What I have done is teach Caroline that the paper gives you free money each week, all you have to do it clip what you need and remember to bring it with you to the store. I took on the store with both kids solo last weekend and assigned her the task of "holding the coupons." She took her role very seriously and actually matched some of the coupons to the things we were buying. "Look Mommy, I have that one right here!" Yes, now just don't lose it. Sometimes I'll end up with extras that I am teaching her we share with the world. I bought Tide last week on sale at the store for a great deal with an extra 1.00 off. I somehow had a similar coupon in my pile and we left it for someone else to use. I don't need four bottles of 100oz Tide Detergent, but someone else might want to save an extra buck on theirs. As we made our way to the dairy section, also known to the kids as the "almost done" section, she caught sight of a girl pushing cups of Pirate's Booty on customers. She retrieved two cups for herself and Connor while I perused the milk. "Look Mom, a coupon!" She held it out for me, $1.00 of any size bag or multipack. "That is what Connor brings to school!" Far from being a crazy coupon lady, I think the message has been received.