Friday, November 30, 2007

Dave for President!

Most who know me also know that I am a Dave Ramsey follower and/or junkie and/or devotee and/or aficionada and/or disciple and/or pupil and/or what have you (see for further details). I earned my doctorate and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Financial Peace University where Dave is the prez. Ok, maybe not, but I did "graduate" from FPU (a 13-week course) and if there had been a doctorate program or Summa Cum Laude grads...I would so be there.

In FPU, I learned some very common-sense strategies for bargaining. I have always considered myself pretty street smart with a healthy dose of common sense, but I really never believed that bargaining was 1) allowed in this country (all I knew was that Jamaica was good at it) or 2) that it could actually work. I'm a buckler. I buckle under pressure...or I should say I used to. Now I bring the pressure on and force the bucklage from the other player. Oh, it's beautiful. And all those thoughts I had of "Well if I ask for less, then their company or their commission (thus their dinner on the table that night) will suffer, etc etc." are NO MORE! America is overpriced and I'm going to do all I can to reduce the cost when at all possible (obviously I don't do this at the grocery store or the gas station).

The number one strategy emphasized is the "Walk away" strategy. If seller doesn't reduce to your asking price, walk away. Don't "buy" the item in your heart or mind because it will be written all over your face and you will lose the bargain battle. Remain neutral. Never buckle.

Our first opportunity to try this out was with our car. We spotted one that met our needs, kept an eye on it for a few weeks, noticed it wasn't selling, and walked in. Johnny CarSalesman showed us the price, we drove it around, never showed attachment and when he went for the Lets Make a Deal handshake, we said "That price there, sir. Yeah, not good enough." He says ok, let's talk, what can you afford? No sir. Not allowed to ask that. We simply stuck with, "See that price on the sticker? Not good enough." He got nervous, said a new price. "Not good enough". I believe he was dumbfounded. Came down again. Nope, not good enough. Says he can't come down anymore and we walk away. He chases us, begs. Nope, not good enough. We then show the cash (green bills make Johnny CarSalesman swoon) of about $3k less than lowest price he'd said. SOLD!! A beautiful transition.

Today's case in point: Bought a Christmas gift for $30 at "Store" where there is a strict no-return policy. Found a better gift at Target for nearly same price. Purchased. Went back to "Store" to attempt a return. She says "Sorry, it's store policy." (Note: I have both kids with me, currently well behaved and dressed identically: thus, much cuteness). Let the bargaining begin (and with much respect I must say). Without too much detail of what I said, $30 came right back over the counter to me. A beautiful transition. She was good folk. Maybe it's the Christmas season, or maybe it's the FPU education. Either way, I'm a happy camper who's $30 richer.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It happened again. I thought I could put this childhood nightmare behind me, but it came right back and bit me in the butt.

Today was a gorgeous morning, so Sister and I headed out to the backyard to play (and by the way, we were both in shorts and yes, it's November...ahhh, South Georgia). She opted for a game of hide-n-seek which has become quite competitive between the two of us. A couple of rounds of hiding and seeking and it once again became my turn to hide. I needed a good spot. It's hard to find in our near-barren backyard. I'd done the usuals - under the slide, behind the adirondack chair, beside the trash can. This one needed to be unique - a never before trodded upon hiding spot (and no, I do not find the 27 year age difference to be a concern in my need to compete, although the Husb begs to differ).

As I heard the counting approach number 10, I made a mad dash for the side of the house and found a perfect little alcove that I scrunched down into. I wiggled into the fetal position as I anxiously awaited the "Ready or not, here I come!" charge. And of course, as soon as I heard the charge, I realized my bladder was near explosion. Ugh. That ALWAYS happens at the most inopportune times. I was NOT giving up that easily. I'd found the perfect spot and by golly, I was staying until the mad dash for "base" became available. Since I couldn't see around the corner, I could only rely on hearing the crunch of sticks and hard breathing to know that Sister was nearby. I waited. Then I waited some more. I decided against the mad dash for base because any quick movements would not have been good for the bladder at that moment. I got a little more comfortable leaning against the house to take some pressure off and waited some more. Then I thought I'd throw out some hints. "Pssssst!" Nothing. PSSSSSST!" Nothing. I managed to get up into a standing position (very carefully) and peeked around the corner. That's when I saw it. My childhood nightmare had come back to haunt me again. Sister the Seeker was not on a mad search for me. She had filled a bucket with water and was "painting" (with a stick) Mr. Biggles, our beloved cat-dog. She had given up. I was hiding and there was no seeking. When I showed myself, I did not get so much as a nod or any type of acknowlegement for that matter. The "painting" was too exciting. I hung my head in shame, then made a mad dash for the bathroom.

Hiding with no seeking will just flat ruin your day. It always did when I was a kid. I'd have the greatest hiding spot in the world. I'd have a full bladder. And I would sit and wait...and wait...and wait...until finally I'd come out with the white flag only to realize the Seeker(s) had QUIT! Who invented that sorry game anyway? Blasted hide-n-seek.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Time Warp

At times, life halts for people. Almost as if it stops, but that would mean death and I don't mean it like that...maybe just a short (or sometimes long) hiatus...especially of the day to day normalcies. I learned this best when Little Man was in the hospital - first when he was born and felt the need to stay a week to strengthen those weak white-boy lungs and get rid of the pneumonia. Then life halted 2 months later when we did it all over again with RSV. The hospital was one of the loneliest places I've been in a long time. Especially because I couldn't leave - not even to get a Coke down the hall. I guess I could have, but taking the time to get a nurse to babysit while I left (and then feeling comfortable about it) seemed too much trouble. So I sat. I listened to ceaseless beeping of monitors. I looked at words on pages and tried to read books. I crawled up in Little Man's man-sized crib. I prayed. I brushed my teeth about 12 times a day because somehow that hospital air (or scrumptious hospital food) made my teeth feel like they had sweaters on. I stared at the door and tried to will visitors in. It wasn't necessarily that this was an overly traumatic circumstance (scary, yes. worrisome, yes. traumatic, nah...not in the grand scheme of things). It's just that life halted. But only for me (and my Little Man). Everything and everyone else continued along, just as they had the day before. It was such a weird feeling to know the world was going along just as before, while Little Man and I were holed up in a hospital room in the pursuit of clean lungs. Going nowhere.

These times were a great learning experience for me. I'm thankful that I can relate to others who are holed up in hospital rooms with their sick babies. I know how to pray for them. I understand how meaningful a visit can be. And I will never throw out the proverbial "Yeah we'll be praying for you" without actually doing it (yes I'm guilty of throwing that lingo around and not doing a darn thing about it...stinks...but true).

I use this as just one example of a life-halting situation. And I guess it's so fresh for me because I have some close friends who are halted right now. Death of a loved one, hospital stays, and even a positive life-halting situation (congrats on your engagement, Alicia!). All of which make you stop, look around, and wonder how everyone's life around you can be going along as always while yours is taking a break. Especially when noticing the petty stuff that people complain of day-to-day (traffic, attitudes, busyness, children, etc etc etc), when you're able to look at what really matters. When life halts, you can't help but re-prioritize EVERYTHING. And ultimately, you're changed by whatever situation that is, whether it was a negative or positive one.

I guess this is just a glimpse of those I've been praying for a lot lately: my friends who are halted. Their halts remind me to look at life differently than I did yesterday.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ode to Being Old

In honor of Kara's 29th Birthday.

I've always heard other (older) people talk about the time(s) when they really started noticing they were aging. I have never been able to relate as I have been ageless. Until now. Well, really it's been inching up in the last few years. Around age 26 I noticed I was unable to eat everything under the sun without it showing up somewhere in my hips. I finally had to stop eating Grands biscuits for breakfast and dinner daily (yes, daily) so I wouldn't gain 200 lbs. Up until that point I had enjoyed food with no worries as I had a metabolism that could challenge an elephant. I held the record of the most amount of garlic rolls eaten at Provino's while still finishing my meal (13. Yes, 13. And I still weighed 120 lbs when I left. Amazing.). Yeah, not so much anymore. And to top off the slowing metabolism, the aches and pains of oldness are creeping in. I had major back "issues" the other night and in commiserating with Alicia over email, realized she was dealing with back "issues" as well. Who has back pain? OLD PEOPLE. We would have never spoken of our ailing joints while in college. But now, 10 years later, that's our conversation: "How's your back?" "Well, not so good. I'm thinking about taking some Metamucil, watching Golden Girls, and doing some cross-stitching. Maybe that will help."

Really. If this is 30, what in the world is 50 going to look like?

Maybe I'll start the Botox now so I can look as good as Joan Rivers or Bruce Jenner at their respective ages. Would be an honor to look ageless.