Of Boys and Stench

April 26, 2015

I spent 4 hours today cleaning my 12 year old son’s room.  (YES, I made him help).  4 HOURS!  I’ve seen things that can’t be unseen.  I’ve smelled things that can’t be unsmelled.  Febreeze didn’t even help, which leads me to believe the commercials where people are in blindfolded and put in the middle of stinky rooms and say they smell tropical breezes and whatnot are complete BS.  It was smell, which I can only describe as eau de boys locker room, that was drove me to issuing the cleanliness ultimatum.

Yeah, I used to be OCD and my house was clean.  All the time, hell or high water, it was clean.  Then, when my kids were very young, I entered a physically demanding profession where I worked 6 days a week, and often 60 hours a week.  Suddenly making sure my home was spotless was no longer important.  It was more important to spend my minimal time at home with my kiddos.  When I changed professions and cut back to a 40 hour low stress position I dreamed of what I would do with my new found free time.  I would have an extra 20 hours a week and an extra full day at home.  However, the reality was my kids had taken up sports, and they are darn good at most of them.  They have been asked to be on various all star teams which require lots of time.  Also, the declining health of my grandparents meant I needed to help out with them more.  Since I was already accustomed to living in a messy home, I continue to do so.

Here are a few things I “learned” today while “helping” (AKA doing 90% of the work) in the lair of a preteen boy.

  1. It is possible to work side by side for FOUR HOURS with my son without using lots of profanity.  Even when I really wanted to.  Even when I realize that under his bed is hiding a gazillion candy wrappers.  Even when I realize that under his bed lies many, many pounds of unworn folded clothes that will now have to be re-washed and folded by yours truly unnecessarily.  My other son (age 9) says he has been praying for me to quit cussing, so maybe it’s working.
  2. A lot of crap can hide under a bed…..and behind a dresser.
  3. The phrase, “So that’s where that went” is uttered by said preteen A LOT when you move a bed, or dresser.
  4. I will get my money’s worth from the garbage pick up service this week.  3 bags full came from that room!
  5. The boy kept complaining of having no shorts.  We found them all.  Now we just have to launder them all.
  6. Speaking of money, we found around $30 worth.
  7. If I am finished with the laundry that came from that room while Obama is still in office I will be pleasantly surprised.
  8. The boy has been suffering with allergies.  I think I know why.  Dear God the dust!
  9. The indoor/outdoor cat we assumed was peeing outside exclusively was also most likely using a throw rug in my sons room.  (I know, gross!!)
  10. I’m scared of what we will find when I muster the courage to clean his closet.  (Which will be soon).

I have been a mom for a little over a decade now.  Many of the sacrifices I have had to make, I was aware of.  I knew going in that I would have to give up some of my social life (but I seriously didn’t realize I would give up nearly all of it).  I knew kids were expensive.  I knew they would change my life, for the better.  However, there are two things I did not know would happen once I had children.

1. I did not know that I would be required to set my alarm to go off in the middle of the night so I could do their laundry.  That’s right, I once got out of my warm cozy bed in the wee hours of a winter morning to move clothes from the washer to the dryer.  And it wasn’t because they didn’t have other clothes.  The local college basketball team was coming to the school, as well as a local news crew, and everyone was supposed to wear their team gear.  Unfortunately both of my kiddos had worn theirs the day before, not knowing they would be asked to the next day.  This event happened two years ago, and as I reflect I think that either my standards for cleanliness were higher then, and I couldn’t stand the thought of them wearing the same clothes for 2 days without a washing, or they had gotten the clothes very dirty, because if the same thing happened today I might just tell them to wear them again. 

2.  I did not know that I would sometimes lose control of my bladder.  I have had some kind of sickness which is causing me to cough a lot.  I have had 3 other such illnesses in the last 2 years.  Sometimes it’s bronchitis, sometimes it’s sinus infections and this one is probably the flu since most of my office has it.  My body has been through 2 pregnancies and, I can no longer cough, laugh or sneese–at least not a lot–without peeing.  Since I have been doing two of those things in excess the last 2 days, I have resorted to wearing a maxi pad.  I think I’ll call this condition Influenza Incontinence. 

But guess what, my kiddos have been WONDERFUL the last couple of days, and have done a great job taking care of their mama, so it’s all worth it!


Basketball Madness

January 19, 2014

My boys eat, sleep and breathe basketball, and I must say, from an observational standpoint, basketball is my favorite as well.  They both play on their school’s little league teams, and they are both quite talented, if I do say so myself.  This year has been bittersweet, as the youngest is on a fantastic team that has great chemistry together, and a fantastic coach.  They have defeated their opponents by margins in the double digits on most occasions and only suffered one loss.  That’s the sweet part.  The bitter part is the oldest has been on a team that is the polar opposite.  His team consists of one kid who never gives up the ball, my son, and 4 others that could care less if they are on the court or not.  They fight and argue constantly, their coach doesn’t want to coach, and their season ended yesterday with a record of 1-9, Sadly, their losses were never even close and yesterday’s final score was 52-12. 

Last week my youngest played a scrimmage game at a neighboring school in another district.  Upon entering their facility and paying $10 admission charges for the other 3 of us (Seriously, who changes admission for a 3rd grade scrimmage???) we found there was no seating.  Upon the request of several parents a set of disgusting bleachers was let out of a wall.  Obviously they weren’t cleaned after the previous use and there was clothing, water bottles, toys, and assorted trash consistent with an elementary school gym. (I realize that the last couple of sentences were very unnecessary, but I’m just setting the scene.  LOL)  We emerged victorious and once we were in the confines of our car my son said, “Mama, those boys were using the f-word, they were saying all the other bad words, and they called us the n-word”.  The last part strikes me as particularly ironic because our team is 8/9 causcasian-and although we do have one African-American player, he wasn’t there that night.  Their team on the other hand was 7/8 African-American.  Part of me is shocked and angered me that 3rd and 4th graders are allowed to use this language and no parent, coach, or referee bothers to correct their behavior.  The other part of me hopes that one day, one of them gets their own cooking show, and I can make some spending money by selling a tell all interview to People where I recount their use of racial slurs directed a team of innocent white boys decades before.  

My next basketball story is more sweet than disturbing/funny.  Yesterday my youngest’s team won the first game in our local tournament by a rather hefty margin, and played the second game later in the day.  The latter game was a better matchup, and was very physical with the score staying within a point or 2 for the majority of the time.  The crowd was full of nervous parents on the edge of their seats (as I mentioned before, our team is not accustomed to losing) and I daresay it was the most intense 3rd and 4th grade basketball game ever.   In the final 6 seconds our team was up by 1, with the other team having possession of the ball.  There was a scuffle, boys were on the floor, the opponent was calling for a time out and the referee closest was not hearing (or choosing not to hear).  The buzzer sounded and then one referee’s whistle blew.  The referees and coaches met in front of the scorers table.  The players on the court gathered near the coaches and officials, followed by the players on the bench.  Were they going to call a foul on one of our boys-which would allow the other team 2 shots and potentially victory or overtime?  Were they going to allow the time out our opponent was calling and put time back on the clock?  If so could the opponent set up and execute a play in which they score in less than 6 seconds and our tournament dreams are dashed?  All eyes were on the congregation at mid court, and we were all waiting anxiously for the outcome of the conversation.  Time stood still.  Eventually, my mothers eyes shifted elsewhere on the court, where an injured player for the opposing team lay hurt (remember when I said it was physical and there was scuffling in the last 6 seconds?).  He was out there all alone.  His injury unknown to his coach, team, and seemingly even to his parents, as they were all focused on what the officials determination would be.  My mom got my attention, and I was able to witness my son walk over to this young man, his “enemy” on the court, and talk to him and console him.  Eventually one of my son’s teammates noticed too, and together they helped the young man on to his feet, talking to him and patting him on the back.  Ignoring the discussion regarding the fate of the game, and their season, they went to the aid of another child in need while the rest of his own team and coaching staff was oblivious to the fact that he was laying on the court. Eventually the referees announced that no fouls occurred, there would be no time out, and the game was over with our team victorious by one point.  Hands were shook at mid court between both teams and coaches, and as we were walking out my son sought out the kids on the opposing team to tell them that they played a good game and try to lift their spirits.  At the end of the day, I was proud of my sons 6 points in that game, after all, without those points our season would be over, but I was even more proud of his sportsmanship.  In a world where trash talking permeates and profanities and racial slurs on the court are commonplace for 3rd graders, I am proud of my son for being a amazing example of how boys should act.  

I’m on a Roll

January 13, 2014

2 weeks in to this year and I have read 2 books!  Go me!  Latest selection:  “This Time Together” by Carol Burnett.  It is a collection of short, mostly humerous, anecdotes from Ms. Burnett’s career.  I greatly prefer light, fluffy reading and this really fit the bill.  I had half the book finished by the time we reached our destination on a short road trip. 

Much like John Green’s “An Abundance of Katherine’s“, I found my favorite quote in this selection near the end of the book.  Ms. Burnett’s daughter Carrie passed away in 2002, and this is Carrie’s description of what she left behind. 

Our legacy is really the lives we touch, the inspiration we give, altering someone’s plan–if even for a moment–and getting them ot think, cry, laugh, argue.  More than anything, we are remembered for our smiles; the ones we share with our closest and dearest, and the ones we bestow on a total stranger, who needed it RIGHT THEN, and God put you there to deliver. 

Required Reading

January 5, 2014

Some of you on my blogroll are such good readers.  Always posting at the end of the year a list of all the books you read in the previous 365 days, and making me feel all guilty because I’m a total slacker.  I can only think of 3 (non-children’s)books that I read last year:  Tina Fey’s, “Bossypants”, an Amish fiction book I borrowed from a friend, and Willie Robertson’s book (Don’t judge me).  So I decided that I am going to do better in 2014.  

On a recent trip to the library with my children I checked out 3 of the most un-similar books imaginable, proving that I am incredibly well rounded.  I finished one of the books in a matter of days, and since I read over half of it in 2014, I’m counting it on this year’s tally. The book was, “An Abundance of Katherine’s” by John Green, and I LOVED IT.  Although at 36 years of age I’m much older than Mr. Green’s target audience, some of my younger friends and relatives are always talking about how wonderful his works are, and I had to see for myself, and guess what?  You should too, no matter how old you are.  Being as I was feeling particularly blue as I was finishing the book, this particular quote near the end really resonated with me:  

“And so we all matter-maybe less than a lot, but always more than none.”



Thank You For Commenting

December 29, 2013

My one avid reader knows that I’m not the worlds best blog-updater, or blog administrator.  When I get an email notification that a comment has been made on a post it’s usually this one from 6 years ago.  I’m over that post, and the comments that go with it, and quite frankly, most times I don’t even bother checking the comments when I am notified of them. 

Yesterday, when I finally made a proper post, I happened upon the most recent comment on my most popular post.  Below are the comments from someone going by the name of Claire: 

Wow, I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog, and have been extremely entertained, I have learned that you eat crap food regularly, and seemed oddly surprised that you are obese, You feel extremely superior to others because you leave coupon purchased items on their door steps, and are shocked to discover that there are many single parents around. Not to mention every single blog is a whingy, whiney complaint that not everyone reaches your glorious existence. My golly gosh I can only pray to one day be as self absorbed,complaining and self glorified as you. Yes find another way to pat yourself on the back I’m sure you will.

My first instinct was to delete this comment and pretend it never happened, however, the words were out there, I had seen them, and perhaps many visitors had too, as they had been up for 25 days before I got around to reading them.  I allowed these words to bother me for all of 30 seconds, before realizing that that I was allowing someone that I didn’t even know to bother me based on a few snap judgements that, quite frankly, couldn’t be further from the truth.  I would like to opportunity to respond to “Claire” or anyone else that may have perhaps formed a similar opinion of me based on a handfull of posts. 

  1. I’m glad you were amused and entertained.  That’s the percise feeling I want my readers to come away with.
  2. I am not surprised that I am obese.  Neither is anyone else that is obese.  We know why.  It’s something that I’ve struggled with all my life.  I rarely post about crap food, and I haven’t posted regularly in several years, so I have no idea how you know that I, “eat crap food regularly”, but I will be checking my home for hidden cameras later just to be safe.
  3. I have the lowest self-esteem of anyone this side of the Mississippi and feel superior to NO ONE.  I coupon as a way to give back to the community.  I teach people to coupon via free classes in the hopes that they too will use coupons as a way to give back to the community.  I’m not bragging about what I do, I’m telling people what is possible with coupons in the hopes that they will do it too.  I recently sent a box of couponed items to friend of a friend who was alone struggling. When she was given the items she broke down in tears and told my friend that she didn’t think anyone cared about her and she had been contemplating suicide.  My couponing may have saved a life, and I will not let you, or anyone else make me feel bad for doing what I do.   Furthermore, just because I like seeing nuclear families represented on the television my children watch does not mean that  I am “shocked to discover there are single parents”.  Many of my friends are single parents and I admire them.  Your logic is flawed. 
  4. I had to look up the meaning of whingy.  Thanks for teaching me a new word.  I probably won’t use it much since it’s a British term, and being from the south that would make me seem a bit pompus.  I do however feel that saying I was “whingy, whiney” was a bit redundant, but that’s just my opinion.  I looked through some old posts and yeah, I can be a complainer, but can’t we all?  Life’s not always sunshine and roses, at least mine’s not.  I’m not perfect, by any means, but I work hard and raise my kids the best I can.  I get compliments on them EVERYDAY.  So yeah, I wish there were more people like me in the world.  Furthermore, be glad you aren’t reading my twitter feed, that’s where the real bitching and complaining gets posted. 
  5. I don’t know if you can ever be as good a person as me, but keep working towards it.  Everyone needs goals. 
  6. I am apparently a better writer than I give myself credit for, as I was able to keep you reading long enough to figure me out and tell me how to solve all my problems.  *Pats self on back.

Although my rebuttal list is full of sarcasm, I would like to remind anyone reading this that WORDS HURT.  Keyboards give people the anonymity to say things they wouldn’t necessarily say via any other means.  In cases like mine, that’s a good thing, as I tend to be shy and socially awkward and via keystrokes and mouse clicks I can express myself.  In other cases it’s not such a good thing, as it allows people to tear others apart while hiding behind a screen and not seeing the rammifications of their actions.   

Lastly, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Claire.  While scrolling my blog for instances of being whingy or posts about crap food I discovered some gemssome turds, and other things that I had long ago forgotten about.  I’m going to start blogging more about the awesomeness of my kiddos and the funny things they say, so that I can look back and laugh one day.  Thank you Claire, for reminding what this blog used to be about! 

The Officer and the Gentleman

December 28, 2013

While at work yesterday I got a call from a former co-worker from my last job.  We are really good friends, and we have kept in touch over the last year and a half.  It’s not unusual for her to call, but it is unusual for her to call during work hours.  She wanted me to know about the death of a retired co-worker.  A gentleman in his 60’s, “Gary” who didn’t wake up from his Christmas day nap. 

Gary was a union man through and through.  He was a husband, father, and grandpa to one little girl who would talk about incessantly, but not in an obnoxious way.  He spoke of his family in a way that made you wish you were a part of them. He once told me that he liked me so much because I was almost the same age as his daughter and reminded him of her. He was a Vietnam Veteran and a former Air Force officer.  He entertained us with his heavy baritone singing of religious songs, stories about his family and tales from his military days including one about a time he spent the night in a Mexican jail. 
He thought a woman’s place was at home, “making biscits and gravy” and told all us girls that we should have married better so we wouldn’t have to be there, and none of us got offended by his words, because that’s just Gary.  He was full of shit and he would tell you so. 

He was a self-professed alcoholic and a connesieur of fine cigars, habits that landed him near death on several occasions and resulted in heart problems that ultimately lead to his retirement a year and a half ago. The majority of his sick days were spent in various rehab facilities. Many times I would have to go help him on the job and he would apoligize for the state of things saying, “Now watch this carefully, I was still hungover when I sorted this”. He was the scribe for our union branch and his articles were published nationally in our union magazine. Undoubetly, he was often hungover, or perhaps drunk, when penning these articles because they seldom made sense, even to those of us who knew him, but there was always a gem or two in them that would put a smile on your face and set his article apart from the hundreds of others. Often when I met someone from another office they would tell me to tell Gary that they loved his articles.
A devout Catholic with a old school upbringing, he was also a gentleman. Under threat of impending winter weather, he once took a female co-worker home to spend the night with his family so she wouldn’t have to drive in on icy roads the next morning. His wife provided her with a change of clothes, laundered the ones she arrived in, and made her breakfast the next morning. If your kids were taking up for a charity through their school he would give. If a co worker was in trouble he would give more than anyone in the office. If a co-worker from another office was in trouble, or had an emergency, he would give more than anyone in their office, even though he didn’t know them. He didn’t do it to be boastful, and he probably didn’t even know he was giving more than anyone else, that was just him.
He knew the names of everyone on his route, and all the retired folks on his route knew him. On his days off he would often drive from one town over to attend the funeral of someone from his route, or help an elderly patron from his route with household chores they could no longer complete. When you filled in for him, expecially if he was sick, you spent much of your time answering questions about his health and whereabouts. Even though he has been retired for some time now, I’m certain there is a sadness among the people of his route today.
Shortly after my leaving the organization where I had the pleasure to make so many friends, I told J that I really missed Gary. I missed his stories and his singing, and the way he would say things to management that I would never have the balls to say. Even though we hadn’t spoke in the last year or so I asked about him often and thought of him more often. Just last week I had asked about him, and the friend that later called me with the terrible news had said she didn’t think he would live much longer, despite the fact that he was at home and doing relatively well. The years of smoking, drinking and working in coal mines had taken their toll and each setback had been more severe. I don’t think either of us thought he only had a matter of days left, and I had no idea how hard his death would hit me.

Rest in peace Gary. You have left a void, and the world is a little sadder because you are no longer in it.
The day I found out the news I got in my car to go home and this song was just beginning. I can’t think of a more appropriate song to honor you. See you in heaven.

Instant Classic

November 9, 2013

I watched bits and pieces of the CMA Awards this week, but I somehow missed Casey Musgraves performance.  After reading about it on yahoo I thought I would check it out.  I’m so glad I did.  Who would have thought, a homosexual-tolerant country song.

“Follow Your Arrow”

If you save yourself for marriage
You’re a bore
If you don’t save yourself for marriage
You’re a whore-able person
If you won’t have a drink
Then you’re a prude
But they’ll call you a drunk
As soon as you down the first one

If you can’t lose the weight
Then you’re just fat
But if you lose too much
Then you’re on crack
You’re damned if you do
And you’re damned if you don’t
So you might as well just do
Whatever you want

Make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

If you don’t go to church
You’ll go to hell
If you’re the first one
On the front row
You’re self-righteous
Son of a-
Can’t win for losing
You’ll just disappoint ’em
Just ’cause you can’t beat ’em
Don’t mean you should join ’em

So make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s something you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points

Say what you think
Love who you love
‘Cause you just get
So many trips ’round the sun
Yeah, you only
Only live once

So make lots of noise
Kiss lots of boys
Or kiss lots of girls
If that’s what you’re into
When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, I would
And follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points


I am a big girl who has recently re-discovered my Wii Fit that my husband got me several years ago.   I was quickly reminded of reasons I used to get annoyed at the product.  When you step on the balance board to perform your exercises it says, “Ow”, in a tone that makes it sound like it is saying, “ouch”.  I have a massive inferiority complex and to me it is saying, “ow, even though I am an inanimate object your fat ass is hurting me”. The software also weighs you and measures your BMI.  When it calculates mine, it plays it’s little ditty then says, “That’s obese”.  Thanks Wii.  I had no idea I was fat!  Whatever would I do without you?

While I remembered those quirks from previous usage, it didn’t take me very long to find new reasons to become annoyed at the wii fit.  Last Tuesday was my first day, and because our original Wii had been struck by lightning and we had replaced it I had to re-install the software and set up my cgi persona and preferences.  There is a place in the setup where you must choose a trainer, male or female, and I chose the female trainer and worked out for 1/2 an hour or so.  Wednesday I did the same, and Thursday I got busy and didn’t do it.  Friday evening I stepped up on my balance board and a message popped up.  “Too busy to work out yesterday Alyson? You must work out every day if you want to achieve you fitness goals.  I hope you were active in  other areas.”   That part I was fine with.  I knew I deserved to be chastised for my lack of commitment.  However, when I went to do my exercises the male trainer popped up and said, “I am filling in today, I hope that’s okay?”

It wasn’t okay, and it caused a lot of questions to enter my head.  Why does SHE get a day off and I don’t?  Because she’s skinny?  And just what is she doing that is so important?  She’s animated for crying out loud.  Did she have a date Wreck It Ralph or something?  Did she check a computer virus?  Did she have to pixelate her hair? Perhaps she was having plastic surgery…….

I skipped again yesterday because we had all-day plans.  Maybe later this evening I will step on, be chastized, get called a fatty, and get to catch up with my trainer.  If her body and hair look the same and she looks healthy, I’ll ask her how Ralph is.  That is if I’m not in too much trouble for missing my workout yesterday.


Help Is In The Closet

September 30, 2012

A year and a half ago my husband and I had a very amazing experience.  We found ourselves in a situation where he had just had back surgery, we had no health insurance, and he had no job.  We struggled, especially me, trying to figure out how we would make ends meet.  Family and friends offered to ease the financial burden, but I didn’t feel right accepting it.  It’s not that I wouldn’t ask them for help if I HAD to, but I certainly wouldn’t ask them for help without first cancelling non-essential luxuries, like basic cable and internet, and selling any material possession that I could.  Asking for help would be a last resort.  That’s just how God made me, and judging by the amount of people I witness paying with groceries with food stamps whilst dressed in name brand clothing and talking on their iPhones, he doesn’t make many of us that way!

I prayed for God to provide, and he did.  We had been attending our church for less than a year.  When J had his surgery we received an enormous amount of support and blessings, both monetary and non.  A week after the surgery when we went to church, a gentleman walked up and gave J a check for $100.  We were touched and taken aback.  Of course, I sent him a thank you card.  The next week he thanked me for the card and said that, “it really wasn’t necessary for me to do that”, and kind of acted put off by the fact that I sent it.  Then he handed J another $100 check.

This went on for weeks.  Each time we tried to refuse it, and he told us that God gave him and his wife the idea at the same time, with each of them pondering on it for a few days before telling the other one.  He explained that God told them to help us, and they didn’t want any recognition for it.  They were doing what he told them to and we had to accept it.

During this time our friend had to have surgery himself and miss a lot of work.  We told him that we were okay, and would be fine without his financial assistance.  He didn’t listen, and whenever he had to decrease the amounts on the checks, he apologized profusely, as if HE had something to be ashamed of.   J and I were inspired, and our faith renewed by his act, and I honestly don’t know what we would have done without his assistance.  We vowed that when God blessed J with a job, we would find some way to pay it forward.

We pondered different ideas.  Giving individuals and families a check, as our friends did us, seemed like a good option, although we weren’t in a situation to be near as generous as our friends were.  Also, I had just really started to delve into the art of couponing, and I have a friend that uses couponing to help others, which seemed like a good option too.  However, when I thought about using couponing to help others, I often felt weird about it.  In my mind, it was like I was trying to be a control freak (which I am), and saying, “I can use this money way more wisely than the people God has asked me to help can, they will just blow it on non-essentials and I can do so much better than them.”.   We eventually settled on giving someone a financial contribution, rather it be cash, check or gift card, in the amount of $50 to $100 a month.  The recipient would be whomever God put on our hearts.  I was happy with our decision to give back, but something didn’t feel right about it.  I would soon know why.

One week I started the week with $5 cash and less than $1 in change in my wallet.  There was more in my checking account I had access to, but I challenged myself to see how long I could go without dipping into it.  At this time I had started taking my lunch to work to save money.  However, I worked an outside job, so it wasn’t like I could zap the leftovers from the night before and have a delicious lunch.  My lunches consisted of sandwiches, wraps, and salads, day after day.  Therefore on Tuesday of that week I decided to treat myself to a McDonalds happy meal and a sundae.  This was over a year ago and happy meals were $1.99 on Tuesdays and sundaes were $1.  I paid using the cash I had.  Sometime later in the week I went to CVS and Walgreens for some couponing.  I don’t remember exactly what I got, but I know there was body wash, dish detergent and band aids involved, and it was over 2 bags full of essential items, and I was able to pay with the cash I had without having to break out my debit card at either store!  I had turned a $5 bill into lunch for myself, and other needed items for my family.  I was quite proud.  It was then that I felt God telling me that I was right, and I could do SOOO much more with the money we were planning to give to people than they could, and help more people in the process.  My couponing was a gift I had been blessed with, and I knew, without a doubt, that it had to be used.

I struggled with exactly how I would go about doing it.  I’m very much a Type A person about some things, and I wanted to do it all very meticulously.  In the crazy mind of Alyson, I would have to spend $15-$25 on the stockpile each week, and keep stockpile items separate from the items my family uses so as not to take away from the people I am going to help, and this all just seemed too overwhelming.  Finally, the thought occurred to me that God didn’t care how much I spent, or if I used my own stuff, he just wanted me to help others by using my abilities!

I told J that evening, while showing him my loot, and he agreed that we had found our mission.  We started that night.  We were already taking a home cooked meal to a family that had recently started attending our church.  They were going through a similar job loss/surgery scenario and I decided to add a couple of bags of essentials to our offering.  I was a bit apprehensive, because I barely knew the family, and I didn’t want them to think, that by me bringing over laundry detergent, shampoo, soap and deodorant, I was trying to send them a message about a body odor problem, or that I thought they were destitute.  Fortunately, our gift was met with sincere appreciation, and a year later, the wife is one of my many coupon students!

Now that our mission was clear, the only question remaining was where we would store our stockpile.  The answer was revealed to us on the way home that night when I suddenly yelled, “closet of ill repute”, which was the name we had christened out closet in our den with, as it seemed to breed tons of useless junk hourly, and could not be opened unless you were wearing the proper protective equipment complete with crash helmet.

That weekend J began cleaning out said closet while I was at work.  You would have to know J to appreciate the magnitude of that statement, but trust me, it’s BIG!  By that Sunday afternoon we were in business.   A few weeks later when J received his first paycheck from a temporary job he had found, we put it to use, using about $20 from it to buy items for our stockpile to help others.  Trust me, we were very tempted to postpone beginning our mission.  After all, it was just a temporary job, and could end at any time, and we still had a ton of medical bills to pay.  We stayed strong in our faith, knowing that we had made a pact with God and it was our turn to uphold our end of the pact.

J’s temporary job, which started out as only a 1 week position, ended up lasting for 6 weeks.  With the 10 hours of overtime it paid every week he was bringing home more than before, and although we were still without health insurance, things were improving for us.  Meanwhile, our church angel insisted on continuing his mission to us, because God had specifically told him to help us until J found a permanent job, and this wasn’t permanent.  We tried to argue with him, but he insisted it was something he had to do.   It wasn’t until J left the temporary job for a permanent one, just over a year ago, that our friend stopped assisting us financially.

Since that time we have provided necessities to individuals, families, disaster relief efforts, and various non-profit organizations.  We have had to tweak our system for supplying the stockpile.  Due to coupon restrictions, offer limits, and the quality of weekly sales, it isn’t always possible to spend the same amount on the stockpile. Still, we have developed a good amount of stuff in the stockpile, and we now operate on more of a price-point based system.   What this means is I have set prices that I will pay for items, such as 25 cents for toothpaste, and whenever I find that item for that price or lower, I buy as many as I can while following the rules of the coupon and the store I am at.  We may not always help one family a week, or even one every month.  Some weeks or months we aren’t lead to anyone specifically that needs our help.  However, we never say no to whomever God puts on our hearts or in our paths.  I have left bags of blessings on the steps of homes that I felt led to.  I have put bags in the cars of people whom I know are struggling.  In the last year more than a dozen families, organizations and individuals have found help in our closet, and I have been more blessed in providing it than they have been for receiving it.