Does this Coupon App-ly?

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As I stood in my local grocery store this week it hit me how utterly ridiculous it is that I need to consult a COMPUTER (a.k.a. my smart phone) to access the best prices.  When did shopping become an exercise in how tech savvy you can be and how many apps you can use to clog your phone?

It is complicated enough for me to push a cart, keep Little Bee pumped with Goldfish crackers, watch for stray items being grabbed off the shelves by her or hurled from the cart, navigate each store’s aisles for what I want (because you can never shop at just ONE place for everything you need) AND be expected to walk a straight line without crashing my cart into some unsuspecting senior citizen (because I am looking at my phone for that store’s “Deal ‘o the Day”).

Why is it such a game? Why can’t you just offer me your best price?  Am I in a real-live domestic goddess game of Survivor? Will there be a year’s supply of Pop Tarts at the end if I can balance all of this nonsense without losing my mind?

They want your dollars. They want your loyalty.

Every store has an app you should download. E-Clip coupons. Downloadable deals. Save 5% if you do this. Save an extra 10% if you do that. Take $2 off your next order if you throw away 10 minutes of your life every time you shop here and fill out our survey to “tell us how we’re doing”.

What if I do a cartwheel round-off down your aisles while singing your commercial’s jingle… then what does that get me?

I will tell you. A one-way trip to a rubber room.

Stop the ride, I want to get off.

Speaking of rides, remember when you were a kid and for a penny or a nickel you could take a ride on an electric pony? That was some fun technology at the grocery store. I can get behind that.

Ode to Coffee

I met you late in life.

I didn’t even know I was looking for you.

What started out as a chance meeting and then a few visits here and there, turned into a regular thing.

It was a little shaky and jittery at first. I’ll admit it, I was shy.

You were aggressive. Bold and bitter.

I wasn’t sure I could stomach your bite.

But over time, you grew on me.

The things I accomplished with you by my side kept me wanting more.

Those sleepless nights with Little Bee, my party girl.  Come morning you were there to help me jump-start my day.

The “taxi service” I now run is so much more enjoyable with you as my co-pilot.

The intolerable cold of winter seems less intolerable.

Even the 5:30 wake-up call to pound the pavement or jump in the pool is easier to stomach if I know you are waiting for me when my eyes open.

I don’t want to know what life would be like without you.

I have grown accustomed to your presence.

Promise me you will never be too far.

I know, gag, right?

Couldn’t help it…Long live COFFEE! IMG_20140428_164235338

The 13th Boy at the Party – Our First Foster Placement

Friday May 30th 

Twelve very rambunctious and excitable 12-year old boys run around my backyard with Nerf guns, footballs and frisbees. Water fights are breaking out at both hoses on either side of the house in celebration of Techno’s upcoming birthday. My A-1 babysitter, Twinkle Toes, left for a sleepover at one of her besties’ house. And my little wrecking ball on the verge of age two is wreaking havoc wherever she goes.

The phone rings around six o’clock. And by 8:15 we have our 13th party guest. An eight-month old little dreamboat who needs a place to stay for the weekend is being handed to us in the driveway with my son’s friends looking on in amazement and wonder.

Just the day before I had lamented to friends.

Why haven’t they called us yet?

We were licensed to be foster parents the second week in May. And I knew the demand was high.

Ask and you shall receive.

We knew it was probably temporary. We probably couldn’t keep him for long.

After the festivities were over and the last child was picked up from the party, I found myself on the way to the store to buy formula, diapers and baby food at 10 o’clock at night.

We had him for one week. He crawled in our hearts and under our skin right away. The smell of my entire house changed instantly. His baby smell was in almost every room. In that one week I was amazed at how much we learned about him – his quirks and delights. His learning and our growing.

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Friday June 6th 

The case worker came to take him to his more long-term foster home. He was so kind to do everything slowly. He knew it was hard.

We sent him with clothes he wore of my son’s that I had saved.  I especially loved how he looked in the Cookie Monster overalls.

I wanted to buckle him into his car seat myself and make sure I was able to see his beautiful dark brown eyes and say goodbye. Strange as it may sound, I didn’t want any remnants of his clothes or food or baby supplies here. Just thinking about it made me know it would be even harder for me later.

But the bear my son wanted to give him was left behind. I had made sure to place it among his things that morning. I knew Techno really wanted him to have it. But they played with it that morning and it never made it back into the pile.  So I called the case worker to ask how I could get it to him. He assured me he could get it that day and make sure it traveled with him to his new home.

I found something else before he came to retrieve the bear. But I never gave it back. That little guy outgrew it long before he got here. It smelled like him. And Techno has a nose like a wolf. I knew he would love it.

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Just last week he came and asked me to smell it.

Heaven. Truly.

 

7 Steps to DIY Landscaping (A Guide for the “Black, not Green Thumb”)

If you’re from parts of the country that learned what a Polar Vortex was this past winter then your landscaping might have taken a beating this year.

For the last 5+ years I have had the desire to re-do our original landscaping. So when my husband and I discussed greenlighting the project this year it got me pumped to channel my inner gardener. (Did I even have such a thing?)

The concept of curb appeal has always been important to me. And let’s just say some failed attempts with my black thumb have left some of the best-laid plans we had for our landscaping in the dirt.

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Help!

Why on earth am I geeked about landscaping you ask?  And how does it even remotely fit in with the content I usually post on this blog? Because it’s a project almost completed that taught me a thing or two about doing my homework before I jumped in (like the last time we landscaped), pushing through the desire to throw my hands up and say “forget it” when I was intimidated or throwing money at it that we could easily spend on many other important things this year.

I am no expert nor do I claim to be.  But the following steps may provide a jumping off point for anyone else who may be as skeptical of their skills as I was at first.  You might even find a way to save some money, utilize existing plants you already have and even experience some amazing stress-reducing benefits.

1. Do some homework: Drive around your favorite neighborhoods and take notice of what you like. Do you like the look of annuals and lots of flowers? Do you favor low-maintenance shrubs and bushes? Do you value symmetry and a more organized design or do you like a more natural look? Taking in to account some of these factors gives you a good place to start.

2. Locate your Gardening Zone: The plant hardiness zone map is a standard used by most growers and gardeners to indicate which plants will thrive best in different regions of the country.  Click here to find out your zone: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.

Also researching online can provide some great inspiration and useful information about the types of plants that may work in your yard.  One of the sites I especially liked was Bloom IQ.com. This site offers care tips, gorgeous photos for design inspiration and my favorite tool under the heading Plant Information. Here you can select the plant type, zone type, lighting, bloom time and bloom color and it will search the database and provide you with the results that fit this specific profile.

3. Divide and Conquer: Start with a Google Earth map of your house. Google Earth uses satellite imagery and aerial photography to map the earth.  I loved this idea to assist in mapping out a plan.  My husband suggested this and it proved to be very useful in helping make this overwhelming task for me into a more manageable project.

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After downloading the program I found our house, zoomed in and printed a snapshot. We divided the landscaping into different areas of focus. Based on the Zone we live in and the lighting each landscaped area gets at different times of the day it helped me focus on what types of plants may work based on my preferences.  It also highlighted what had been hastily planted the last time we landscaped just because I liked it but didn’t really take into account what type of sunlight would be required or whether certain fertilizer was needed etc.  Click here to visit Google Earth and access a free download.

4.Visit some local greenhouses, garden stores and growers: Hopefully there are some real experts on-hand that would be happy to share their vast knowledge with you. I visited a couple of local places and talked to the person referred to me as their in-house expert. I showed them my Google Earth plan and gave them an idea of some of the plants I liked.  With input on what would grow well in our Zone as well as the lighting requirements of each plant, a plan started to materialize.  It was further refined by getting input from another well-respected grower and adding some of those suggestions to the plan.

5. With plan in hand GO SHOPPING! (My favorite part!) Have a budget in mind before you go and try to stick to it. Be prepared that once you get to your destination all the colors, smells and sights can easily get you off track. Most everything is looking its best and it can be hard to say no to every gorgeous hanging basket or tropical plant that may require a lot of attention. If you have a plan and know specifically what you are looking for it will be much easier to stick to it and your budget.

While we’re on the topic of budgets, before I went shopping, we looked around the yard to see what plants were thriving but just needed to be relocated to another area to make room for something else.  We also took into account what plants could be split and planted elsewhere in the yard to fill in spots that needed it.  This saved a lot on expenses too.

6. Do a Mock-Up before you Start: Once you return home with your new plants, invest the time in a mock-up before you start planting.  Placement is key!  Some plants may grow five feet wide and eight feet tall.  If you don’t take note of that on the information card that comes with the plant you may end up losing a plant you love if it can’t later be transplanted.  This happened to us.  Years ago we had placed two beautiful purple leaf sand cherry shrubs near our children’s bedroom windows.  When they got about 8 feet tall it was kind of overbearing.  We wanted to move them but by this time it was too late.  So we lost one in the process and decided to leave the other one as it was but prune it down considerably.

7. Enjoy the benefits!  Did you know that plants improve air quality, reduce soil erosion and reduce noise pollution?  According to Green Leaf Nursery, one of America’s largest nursery growers, landscaping can add as much as 15-20 percent to the value of a home or building. By spending as little as five percent on landscaping, the value of a home can jump as much as 15 percent!  And research shows that children who interact with plants and nature are less apt to be hyperactive, more creative and focused and cooperative at play.

Studies also show when adults interact with plants and nature they have less stress and depression in their lives as well.  I am finding this out now.  Ten years ago I was not really interested in taking these necessary steps and doing the work.  But I am so glad I made the investment to see this project through.  I am thoroughly enjoying watering my new pIants and just zoning out and relaxing each day for twenty minutes or so.  I know I will reap the benefits for years to come and our home is better for it as well.

Lastly, I kept all of the information cards on each plant and made notes about what kind of care it will require each season.  These notes are now housed with all my gardening supplies.  If it took us almost a decade to re-do the original landscaping, I want to be sure what we do now flourishes and works well for years to come.

Keep in mind many of these plants need to mature!

Keep in mind many of these plants need to mature!

Happy Landscaping!

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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We are licensed!

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5.14.14: We are licensed!

Hunting? Fishing? Driving? Nope. A dual license for Ice and I to be foster parents with the intent to adopt.

This brand new bunk bed is now ready for a boy who needs a forever family. Now we wait for the call…

On Wednesday there were three voice mails I didn’t know we had even received until Thursday. Sandwiched in between an insurance and a telemarketer call was a message from our social worker letting us know our license had been issued.

Thank God for voicemail!

 

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

Double Post Day! Guest Post: Come Visit Me!

I am over at Bonnie Dewkett’s blog at The Joyful Organizer today sharing information about women and their finances. After attending a fabulous (and eye-opening!) event with a financial planner it really got me thinking about the lack of confidence a lot of women feel in this area of their lives.

We all know family and friends that have found themselves on the other side of divorce or an unexpected loss and then it is very stressful to try and figure out next steps.

This piece is meant to start the conversation, get all of us thinking a little bit more about steps to take to ensure there aren’t stressful surprises later and offer a few tips on some helpful tools.

Visit The Joyful Organizer to learn more!

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Sequins, the Beatles and Mother’s Day

For some, as seasons change it is a reminder of the quick passage of time.  It might be a glimpse of the first robin of Spring or the moment you slip on those flip-flops after a brutal winter just itching to show off your new pedi.

One of my markers of the passage of time involves sequins, fake hair, oodles of bobby pins and gaudy makeup.  No, I am not a stay-at-home Mom by day and a street-walker by night…It’s recital season. Ugh and Yay! all at the same time.

Twinkle Toes (what creative genius came up with that pseudonym?) has been dancing since she was three. She’s ready to hit double-digits in a couple weeks…so, a long time.

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There is always a little dread when coordinating the weekend. Rehearsal on Thursday night. Be there at 6 o’clock sharp.  Somewhere north of 50 people milling around all looking at their watches looking forward to being done with this necessary evil. Wishing for some couch time with an episode of Modern Family, just one more errand completed or a last-minute dinner that didn’t include nuggets or noodles.

Looking ahead to the weekend it’s always “cram stuff in, hurry home to get ready and fly out the door”. Make sure there is enough time to fight with Twinkle and her “bun”, apply just enough toxic hairspray to hold up a bridge and be sure to pick up all lost bobby pins lest they end up in Little Bee’s stomach . Apply said gaudy makeup and stand back and admire the horror of my sweet almost-ten-year-old looking just-enough garish so the back row can see her red-lipped smile.

But THIS year I was so looking forward to leaving Bee with my husband, parking my tush in that seat, taking a breath, relaxing and watching my daughter and all the young girls at the studio (and one very brave boy!) dance their hearts out and showcase their sizable talent.

After all was said and done it was hands down the best performance I have ever seen them produce. Literally blown away.  And it turned out to be an early Mother’s Day gift.

Sappy princess song after saccharin-sweet love song played on. But most of these performers were not the little ones looking backstage for every movement cue.  These girls/young women were pouring their hearts into some beautiful artistry. And quite honestly some very grown-up expression. So You Think You Can Dance had a few contenders here with this bunch, no joke.

As I sat there (in between my mother and Bee’s Godmother) a myriad of things was going through my mind:

Was it not just yesterday that Twinkle was dancing on her Dad’s toes in a costume made for a pre-schooler?  And here she was graceful and confident with a plié here and a relevé there.

Many of the older girls on stage are just on the cusp of what life will offer them. Will all the years spent honing their craft make an impact in their adult lives somehow?

As the strains of the Beatles’ Yesterday and Train’s When I look to the Sky played on (I’ll admit these two always kinda get me) I thought back to the last five years.  When did the engagement parties and baby showers I attended segue over to funerals and battles with disease? Passage of time.

Time is marching on and it is going so very fast. There have been great losses and uphill battles in the lives of many of my family and friends. People have come together. Communities have come together.

As Mother’ Day approaches a beautiful little ballet recital made me pause and think of the very best that the women in my life have to offer one another.

Countless meals, hugs and smiles. A phone call here. Several fundraisers there. A letter sharing empathy because someone else experienced it too.  The space to grieve. An angel pin. The t-shirt worn to support an effort. The poem read even when the tears were still blinding. A locket to house the most precious of photos. The book dropped on a doorstep because it had to be shared. The party thrown to offer support and say goodbye to something that no longer served its purpose. A good cry. A flower. A prayer.

I don’t know what impact these experiences my daughter has had dancing will have on her.  But they have surely left an imprint on her Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

© Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Scheidt and Titanimom with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.