Guest Blogging Today!

Today I am the featured guest blogger over at Typical Suburban Family.  Check it out by clicking the button below:

I began following this blog a few months ago and have enjoyed reading the reviews and following her cute boys and their adventures.  Be sure to check out my post, but also scroll through and see all the great things on her blog!  She is really plugged into the Atlanta blogging community...especially for those of us with little ones!

Thanks Typical Suburban Family for the chance to guest post!

Early Warning is Key, or It Just Ruins Your Day

In a small town in Mississippi, meteorologists are following a super cell storm on radar with a classic tornado-indicating hook.  They issue warnings to the people of that small town, begging citizens not to drive and to get into a safe place immediately and wait out the storm. 

The meteorologists know that early warning is the key. They set out to warn other people in the path of the storm.  

One girl heeds their warnings and prepares for the worst...

Two states over in the metro Atlanta area, a man comes home from a late night working at his job at a restaurant.  He pulls his car into the garage and enters his home.  He gets concerned as he sees blankets and pillows strewn through the downstairs hallway.  Immediately he thinks of his family.   Are they okay?  Did someone break in?

He then sees his son asleep on the couch and walks over to find his wife on the adjacent chair also sleeping.  He breathes a sigh of relief.  Then he notices that the television is on Weatherscan.  On a hunch he follows the path of blankets and pillows over to the hall closet where he finds more pillows and blankets in the closet along with a flashlight, three juice boxes, two packets of oatmeal and a phone charger.

“There was a tornado.” His wife is now awake and filling him in from her chair.

“Where?” He asks knowing that he just drove 45 minutes home and didn’t so much as see a raindrop in that time period.

“Mississippi.  But I didn’t know how fast it was moving and we needed to go to sleep but I wanted us to be downstairs in case we had to move to the closet in a hurry.”

“And the juice boxes and oatmeal?” 

“In case we were buried under debris for a few days.  I didn’t want to live through a tornado only to dehydrate or starve. Honey, you have to be ready for emergencies in life”

“With packets of oatmeal?”

His wife stares at him. "Well, we were out of granola bars."

The husband stares in silence for a few seconds.

"I’m going upstairs to take a shower and go to bed.  Remind me to never follow you into battle."

With my incredible fear of storms, you would have thought I'd had a Helen Hunt, Twister-type trauma in my childhood, but no...that would make sense and, even if it were true, it still doesn't explain the packets of oatmeal.

Friday night when all the weather went through Georgia, I sent my friend, Courtney a text.

Rachel: How many severe weather apps are too many?
Courtney: 7.
Rachel: I have 5. Okay thanks.

I had all necessary weather channels programmed for easy television surfing, all alerts on my phone activated and I was actively tuning out my son who was begging and pleading with me to put on Scooby Doo.  At that point, there were tornadoes in Tuscaloosa and he had no idea how much more dangerous our situation was getting as the minutes ticked by.  That's why God made parents after all.  We are there to destroy our children's carefree life with minute-by-minute prediction technology and our silly will to live.  

"Mommy, can we go outside."

"No Samuel, there are storms outside."

He glanced out the window, "It's sunshine." He seemed confused.

Children.  They have such a simple way of looking at the world.  They see sunshine. They think you can go outside.  What they don't know is that only four states over, storms are racing through towns, wreaking havoc on anyone standing in its path.  Nope, its best to stay put and see how the next 8 hours unfold. 

"We need to be ready, sweetie." 

I can't be certain, but I think Sam made one of those kid 'mental notes'.  The ones where they narrow their eyes when you are not being fair and decide to return the favor when you're dependent on them in a nursing home.  

He will grow to learn that his mommy hates storms.  He will grow up and learn to go to bed when his dad does while mommy stays downstairs with her bloodshot eyes glued to HD Storm Tracker 2 in the off chance that circulation is detected in the general vicinity of where they live.  Mostly, he will learn to roll his eyes at his mommy like the rest of the family when it comes to severe weather outbreaks. 

A few years ago, I forced my mom and a then newborn Sam down into the basement when a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado was just entering Villa Rica (I do not live in or near Villa Rica).  We had just settled in for the long haul when we heard the mower start up next door. 


“Yes Mom”

“Why are we in the basement while the landscapers are still working on the neighbor’s yard?”

I shook my head, “I wish people would respect nature.”

Mom patted me on the shoulder, “I’m going back upstairs.”

Extreme Couponing: My Three Problems With It

Like so many Americans sitting at home wondering what a government shutdown actually means and fretting about whether or not it will hold up the delivery of my Wonder File, I could not wait to watch the show about people who coupon in an extreme way.  Could not wait.  I have a love hate relationship with the world of couponing.  Each week I dutifully clip.  I pay attention to weekly publications that indicate the sales.  I even make a detailed grocery list that utilizes every coupon to its fullest capacity.  But something always goes wrong.  Somewhere between this manic preparation and driving home on a Thursday night realizing we have nothing in the house to eat or wipe with, I lose it.  I run into the grocery store for chicken and toilet paper and spend $65 dollars on ten items.  Where are my list and coupons, you ask?  Sitting at home next to my Good Housekeeping magazine that Andy wishes I would read. 

So now, I turn to the blog with my frustration.  Here are my main problems with what is now referred to as Extreme Couponing. 

1.    Problem #1I can’t do it.  I’m sorry.  I go to the store to buy things I need.  Do you know what my husband would do if he rifled through the pantry to see what I bought at the grocery store and could only find paper towels and Maalox?  I do.  The conversation would go something like this:

“Where’s the food?” he would ask. 

“Honey, its just temporary.  I’m couponing and I have to wait until meat goes on sale before I buy it for our meals.”

“What am I supposed to eat?” 

“How about a case of yogurt? “

“I’m ordering a pizza.”

In order to feasibly be an extreme couponing queen, let’s face it, Samuel and Andy would have to move in with his mom and dad for 6 months to a year.  That’s what it would take for me to get on the couponing cycle and to build the extra room onto our house for all that inventory. 

It’s like the modern day trek to the New World.  I would go first and send for them later once our house was fully stocked with six months worth of groceries.

But once it is, oh it would be glorious.  Instead of “leftover night”, we would be forced to have “about to expire night”.  Everyone would go to the underground bunker I built (since the HOA said I couldn’t build "up") and pick out one item that is about to expire.  Wouldn’t that make for some humorous meals?  Andy said it wouldn’t.

2.    Problem #2Okay, so you have 85 bottles of ketchup that you paid $.40 to lug home. Now what?  Do you give them as end of the year teacher gifts?  Put Venus razors in your kids party favor bags?  Or better yet:

“Trick or Treat!” 

“Hi kids.  Here’s a box of Tic Tacs and don’t forget, (shake bottle) I have calcium supplements for everyone!  It’s never too early to fight the signs of osteoporosis. Happy Halloween!” 

See, I happen to think my time is worth money.  So when I spend four hours, planning for a shopping trip, five actually shopping and 2 more hours carefully putting everything away with labels facing forward Sleeping with the Enemy style, my shopping trip didn’t cost $5.97.  It cost several hundred dollars plus $5.97.

And let me just add that it would be a fantastic day when my child tells his teacher that he can’t have a seasonal wardrobe because his mother insists on storing 30 boxes of Kix under his bed. 

“Move along, Child Protective Services…nothing to see here.”

3.    Problem #3And finally, here is perhaps my biggest problem.  Quite simply, it’s the name.  Can you really call yourself an Extreme Coupon-er?  Let’s be honest, there’s no real element of danger in couponing unless it comes in the form of a catfight because your supposed bff wouldn’t haul her butt down to the grocery store at 5AM so you could qualify for four extra transactions. UNFRIEND. 

But seriously, you’re not couponing at gunpoint.  There aren’t wild dogs chasing you.  You are not couponing suspended several feet in the air, balancing on a tight rope over a pit of deadly vipers.  I get that its very serious couponing, even obsessive couponing, but is it really extreme?  I say it is not.

So I guess I'm okay with the fact that I'm going to continue to spend hard earned money on overpriced groceries ten minutes before I’m supposed to have dinner on the table.  

But that’s just me.

Our First Christmas

Anticipating my first Christmas as a married woman was really exciting to me, as it must be for all new brides. Why? Calling the shots and decorating your own tree is pretty much your first official ‘woman of the house’ act after marriage and I, for one, couldn’t wait.

My grandmothers had given me beautiful Hallmark Limited Edition ornaments every year from the time I was born.  In addition to that, I collected ornaments from the many trips I had taken with my family and I was so excited to finally decorate my own Christmas tree.  It was going to be wonderful.

I envisioned putting on a roast and a cute, frilly apron and playing Christmas music while we decorated our very first tree together.  We would hang ornaments, string lights, laugh heartily at one another and sip cider with a fire crackling in the fireplace. There would be moments where we would embrace and gaze up at our tree with the full appreciation of the day when we would look back on this very moment fondly and with warm fuzzy nostalgia.  I know what you are thinking.  When does the “Every Kiss Begins With ‘K’…” jingle start to play? 

It doesn’t, and here’s why.

As the newly anointed matriarch of my small family of two, it did not occur to me that my husband would have ANY Christmas decorating opinions.  Why should he?  He didn’t have any wedding opinions. He told me all the different wedding cake flavors were, "fine" at the tasting. So I figured that making executive decorating decisions was my job.

For the two weeks prior to the night that Andy and I would get into a fight over which size Christmas tree to buy at Home Depot and subsequently ride home in angry silence with a tree on top of our car, I laid out my ornaments very carefully on the dining room table.  I painstakingly unwrapped each one, made sure it had a hook and arranged it on the table in the order that I wanted it to go on the tree. 

Before decorating began and still resenting the other one from the Christmas tree height argument, we both stood back to admire “our first tree” together.  It was very Little House on the Prairie but with obvious tension.  My husband looked from the tree to the table of ornaments spread across the table as if this was the first time he had seen them. 

“I have a great idea, honey.” He said with authority.  I melted in spite of myself as I anticipated him suggesting we put aside our argument and put on an old Christmas movie or leave a funny Christmas message on our voicemail.  

“What’s that sweetie?” I replied gazing up at the love of my life.

He took my hands in his.

“Why don’t we decorate the entire tree…in silver?”

It was like I had been slapped. “What?”

“Yea, we could go to the store right now and get all silver ornaments and decorate the entire tree in them? That would look so cool. An all silver tree.” You could see him 'picturing it' in his mind's eye.

I pulled my hands away and glared. “Honey, we are going to put up these ornaments that I’ve been collecting for my entire life.  I’ve been unwrapping them for two weeks”

He looked at the ornaments. “I know, but why do we need to put up old ornaments.  Let’s go get new ornaments.”

So the first 'decorating o' the tree' did not quite happen as I had pictured it. There we were, in our pajamas with no crackling fire, no cider, no Christmas movie, no cute frilly apron and no conversation...flinging ornaments on the tree and trying to avoid eye contact.

It was memorable, alright.

The next week, I asked him what happen to our holiday-inspired cinnamon broomstick that I bought because I had always wanted one at Christmas to make our house smell good.   

“Ugh, I put that on the porch.” He replied.

“You put my holiday cinnamon broomstick on the porch?"

“Yea. I was tired of the house smelling like a pack of Big Red.”