Hello There...

Welcome to my blog. I'm a full-time mommy of a 4-year-old & a 0-year-old, part-time waitress and a rookie blogger. Living on a farm with my son, daughter and husband among dogs, chickens, ducks and other various wildlife keeps life interesting and anything but normal!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grace and [Lots of] Starbucks

Edit: This was written back in September, but I finally got around to publishing it on 11/6. Jack has now been in school for 3 months!

To say these past 4 weeks have been overwhelming would be a severe understatement. If I'm being honest I'm really not completely sure how I'm even still alive. I've had newborns and done the whole sleep-walk-through-the-day thing. I have, it's horrible. But this. This is something entirely different. This is like a new lifestyle.

Allow me to elaborate.

4 weeks ago, Jack started Kindergarten. I've had mixed emotions about this momentous occasion for the past year. A year. I've been fretting this day for a full calendar YEAR. For real, though.
So we spent the two weeks leading up to Kindergarten picking out the coolest school supplies, shopping with Grandma's for backpacks and lunch boxes and shoes and everything in between. I took  him out for lunch and to the zoo and to Chuck E Cheese and for ice cream (like every day). He got to stay up late and bake cookies with me. We savored every last second of summer.

Then it was labor day weekend. We had plans with the family to go to Bay Beach and continue savoring summer's last moments. We had a blast! Rides and games and swimming and pizza  and more swimming and more rides. It was awesome. Until I discovered a little "bug bite" on Princess' leg. It seemed too reminiscent of the one I had found weeks earlier that led to a MRSA staph infection. By Monday (Labor Day) she had spiked a fever and the infected area continued to grow.

As you can imagine, Urgent Care is not the most ideal spot to spend your holiday weekend. We waited for close to 3 hours before we saw the doctor and it took us another hour to get things all squared away. They sent us home with an antibiotic under the assumption that the MRSA was back and scheduled an appointment for follow up in the morning. This is the moment that began my perpetual state of exhaustion. It hasn't ended since.

So at our follow up appointment on Tuesday (mind you Jack starts Kindergarten on Wednesday)  where the baby was running another (higher) fever, they told me that the abscess in her leg would have to be drained surgically. "Surgically" is not a word any mother wants to hear - no matter what the circumstance. They tried to get her in right away that afternoon, but couldn't. They scheduled her first thing in the morning (aka 1st day of Kindergarten, that I've been freaking out about for A YEAR.) I kind of laughed and said - "so, it has to be tomorrow?" And the nurse looked at me like I had lost my freaking mind. And I started to explain the first day of school thing, and she kept looking at me like I was completely insane. So I just said, "ok, what time should we be there, and where do I go?"

8:45 am. Children's Hospital Main Campus. Clinics Building.

Fast forward to Wednesday.

We got up early, made breakfast and I insisted on driving separately than the farmer so that Princess and I can head straight to the hospital. But the farmer insisted we had plenty of time and we'd all go together. So I oblige. We have to travel down 2 roads to get to school. It's a total distance of about 7 miles. I'm not kidding you - it took us 45 minutes to get to school. We left so that we'd get there early and be able to walk him in and say good bye, maybe casually chat with other parents. NO. FORTY-FIVE Mother Loving minutes later, we had to rush in the door, quickly greet the principal, hang up his backpack and wave bye. All the other parents stood around the room as the teacher read a cute little book about the first day of school. And I had to wave and run. I mean literally run.

This day that I had fretted about and worried and agonized over for a year. 365 days spent worried, it was here and then gone. Today was the day and I didn't even have 30 seconds to think about it. My brain was already on to my next fear. A sick child. And MRSA is not exactly "no big deal", you know? I really didn't even let my brain go there. I didn't read anything online about it because I didn't want to gain more irrational fears than I already have. I mean, let's be honest I've got more than enough of those to go around.

So now that we were running late, I had to worry not only about the impending "surgery", but getting bumped because we were late. You know how hospitals are...I mean I don't blame them. They've got lives to save, they don't have time to wait for me. So I parked my car in the first spot I saw, took no notes as to where that spot was and just rushed myself, my feverish, infected baby and my 2 bags that had to weigh a combined 300 lbs. I mean I should have just packed a suit case for crying out loud.

I can spare you some details here....we sat in the clinic where they hoped to drain the abscess right in the office. After realizing she's not even quite a toddler and that it would be darn near impossible to make her sit still, they decided they'd have to administer anesthesia and do it in the OR. So over to day surgery in the big hospital we went, and there we sat. And waited. And she got sicker and sicker. She was burning up. (Ok sorry, I said I'd spare the details) Quick version - they took her back to surgery. The whole procedure was only like 30 minutes from start to finish and she came out of recovery another hour later or so. She was so sick and so sad looking. It broke my heart.

To think I worried about this day because my little guy was growing up. Who knew that I'd have something entirely different to struggle with. I did, however, have an overwhelming peace the whole time. I saw God's grace and mercy in a whole new way. I had a few sad, quiet moments to myself. I couldn't even pick Jack up from school. That broke my heart more than having to drop him off in a hurry. I wanted to talk to him about his day, and see him in the car line and hear about all the fun things he did at his first day of school. But I couldn't - and that was really the only thing that made me cry all day.

He called me from his grandma's cell phone when she picked him up. He was SO excited. He didn't even think twice about me not picking him up. He thought it was AWESOME that his Grandma got to pick him up. (Praise God!) But I had to rush him off the phone because I started to get choked up. I felt guilty that I couldn't be part of that moment for him. I wanted to make this day a big deal, and I couldn't. And I know that it didn't matter to him - he thought nothing of it. But for me it was really a sad moment. I mean, I just cried again from writing about it. It broke my heart all over again.

....getting on to the Grace and Starbucks part. The past 4 weeks have been non-stop. But I'm so humbled by God's gentle way of showing His grace. He's equipped me with a perspective that only God can give. As we left the hospital on Wednesday, I was exhausted. We got there just before 9 am and we were walking out at about 6pm. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep. God had a little reminder for me. As I walked out - I saw a family taking a walk. A dad who looked about the same age as the farmer, a mom, who looked like she needed sleep much worse than I, and a precious toddler - not much older than my little Princess. The mom rolled the IV that was attached to the small boy's bald head as he pushed a little walker through the hall. This boy clearly suffered from some type of cancer and my heart was shattered. Suddenly I had a very clear perspective.  This was just a short season. A day....maybe a couple weeks if you count our whole MRSA experience. But it is not cancer, it's not a life-threatening (well, not in our case) illness, it's not a terminal illness. Our time spent in the hospital was just one day. And now we can carry on with our regular lives. No more medicine, no more check ups,

I got to drive Jack to school the next day, and pick him up after school. I get to listen to his stories and buy him ice cream and make random Tuesday's seem like the most awesome day ever. And in a 5-year-old's world that's just as awesome as making the first day of school a big deal. So once again, I'm reminded that God's got me in the palm of His hand. His plans are so much grander than my brain can even begin to fathom. And for that I'm so grateful. I think one day I might remember this truth before I start to freak out....maybe. Just maybe.

Sweet dreams,
The Farmer's Wife

Revived & Repurposed: Couponing for a Cause

Over the summer I really began my conversion to self-proclaimed "crazy coupon lady". Extreme couponing became a sort of "way of life" for me. The thrill of a good deal, the rush of getting a whole cart full of personal care items for FREE. And even better, leaving the store with more value in gift cards than you actually paid in cash. Yes, sometimes they pay me to shop. It's in these past two weeks since I've taken a short hiatus that I really began to reflect on "couponing" and what it means to me and what some people interpret it as.

In my opinion, couponers tend to get a bad rap. We're just cheap, or what's the point in just saving a buck, we're trying to cheat the system, we're thieves, it's wrong. I've heard it all. Trust me.

If you know a couponer, or think you understand why couponers do what they do, I'm asking you to set that aside for a minute and hear me out. Let me tell you why I coupon. I'll be honest, some of us are just cheap, trying to save a buck. Some do "cheat" the system and commit coupon fraud, it happens. But the vast majority of us are in it for something much greater. We're not only in it for ourselves and our family's benefit, but to offer help to others.

Truth: I don't coupon to save money. I am blessed with a hard working farmer-husband that provides more than enough for us and I can certainly afford to go out and buy the basic necessities, groceries, toiletries that my family needs to survive. We are abundantly blessed, beyond measure. Some couponers are just considered poor right off the bat because we're trying to save money. Let me assure you, I am not poor.

Truth: we have struggled financially, I have gone to the grocery store without enough money in my wallet to buy the things I need. My credit card has been denied in the check out lane and I've had to put everything back. We've gone without. I wish I knew then what I know now about coupons, because it was then that I needed the "saving" part of couponing. During this time, I was at the home of one of the families at our church and my friend's mom (who knew we were going through a hard time) took me up to her stock pile room and let me pick out and take whatever we needed. Shampoo, conditioner, soap, shave gel. I remember leaving her house with a bag bursting at the seams with personal care products. I was practically in tears. To me and my family (just the farmer and I - at the time) this meant money that we didn't have to spend on these items could either go toward food or just straight to savings. To her it was nothing, I bet she doesn't even remember and I bet she didn't ever think twice about it. But to me it meant the world.

And that is why I coupon. It started as a way to get stocked up on diapers for princess. But it has transformed into so much more than that. I want to give away all that kind of stuff to others that struggle or have fallen on hard times just the way Natalie helped us out when we were in a tough spot. And I have, and I know how much it helps. Even if my friends are not struggling and they're over and they are like "oh, I have to get going...gotta stop and pick up some deodorant before work tomorrow" I'll be all like "oh heck no you don't! what kind do you use and do you want regular or clinical strength?" Because if I can clear some space in my stock pile that means I have room for more! Which means more deals and more thrills!!

So to all the nay sayers, next time you see me at Target with my cart full of more Pantene Pro-V and Crest Mouthwash than you'll ever use in your life time, don't roll your eyes. And if I have the lane blocked off with 4 separate transactions and a mountain of coupons to accompany each one, please save the under-your-breath comments and sighs of annoyance. I promise you what I'm doing is benefiting many other people than me. In fact, the farmer would probably agree that it really doesn't benefit me at all. Other than just really loving the art and science of couponing - and always having a plethora of shiny new personal care products to choose from - all I do is pay for this stuff and spend hours of my time planning the deals and doing the shopping to, in the end, give it all away. And I wouldn't change that for anything. If I can bring tears to someone's eyes because I just saved them $30 or $40 this month on personal care products than my work was not in vain. In fact, all my time and energy and money spent was quite worth it.

Give coupon ladies and gents the benefit of the doubt. Assume that if they have a cart full of product that either 1.) they have a home full of small or grown children, orphans or missionaries or 2.) they plan to donate most of or all of what they are buying. Don't roll your eyes, just pick another lane. And if you feel up to it, commend them for working hard to save money so they can help others. I've had a few guests and cashiers cheer me on in recent trips and there's nothing more exciting - than to see other shoppers get excited with you. It gives me a platform to talk about the new ministry I've started at church and to talk about the way God has abundantly blessed me and my family. Couponing has opened doors and has created new relationships for me. It's been a fun journey so far. I've taken a little break, but I'll be back in full force as soon as the farmer and I return from our little getaway this next week.

This was just an introduction to a couponing series I'd like to put together. I'll dig more into the methods to my madness and give more in depth couponing tips. I do not have a time line for this series, so just be patient. My new focus has shifted slightly from actual couponing and shopping myself to helping equip others to save money with coupons. So until my next post - happy couponing from the Farm.

The Farmer's Wife