On this day, I went to do my favorite kind of shopping….school supplies!  Some may find this surprising, given that I’m pretty nonchalant about school, or “doing school”, for the kids. However, I LOVE school supplies!  Forget whether the kids actually use them, I can’t get enough.  Highlighters, notebooks, pens (only Pentel RSVP for me, thanks), crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencil boxes, sharpeners.  You name it, I love it.  August is my favorite time of year only because of these items.

So, I had a multiple stop list to get through and two somewhat tired children I wanted to stay awake for the duration.  Oh, and a teenager who wanted to go to Wal-Mart (or, as it is known in my house: the place that sucks away our money while turning our kids into maniacal terrors who want, want, want).  Here’s my gratitude list for the day:

1.  Friends who are more organized than me.  Thanks to my friend, R, I knew what stores had the best prices and whether or not I needed a coupon to get said best price.  Could it get any better?  I truly, deeply appreciate that she took the time to share her detailed list with our little group so I could save so much.

2.  Coupons.  Oh yes, my friends, I have the coupon fever.  I have visions of carts full with yummy, healthy foods, toiletries and probably some junk (if I’m being honest) that cost me nothing.  I have yet to achieve that, of course, but I do regularly get *free* paper from Staples, among other things.  I’ll take that!

3.  Tax-Free weekend.  Save even more?  Heck yes!  P.S. In Missouri 2013, it is August 2nd through the 4th.  Go. Now.  P.P.S. I am pretty sure many places jack up their prices during this weekend, so be careful!

4.  Pay-day!  Pay-day is always a great day.  For a few glorious minutes or hours (occasionally even days), we have money in our bank account and look like respectable grown ups.  It feels good to pay bills and get that off my plate.  Double bonus for pay-day on a tax-free weekend with a detailed list from friend and coupons that give me free or really cheap stuff.

5.  Young person with enough street smarts not to freak out when I’m late picking up.  We agreed that I would go to a few places while L went to Wal-Mart to get a CD, but when I drove by the doors, no L was found.  I still had one more place to go, so I did that and then came back.  L was patiently waiting on a bench for me.  While L may have been annoyed, it wasn’t apparent and I appreciate knowing that L could handle things while I finished my errand.  I’d like to take credit for that, but it’s really L and not me.  😉

6.  Friendly customer service people.  It makes such a difference in shopping, especially with kids, when the staff are friendly and helpful.  HUGE!  I feel pretty grateful most of the time about this, because most of the time it’s what my experience is…perhaps it is my winning smile or infectious sunny attitude?  Whatever the reason, I still appreciate it.  I know working with the public can be trying and difficult, so I try to make an effort to smile at every staff person I see, use good manners, etc.  Basically, I treat them like they’re *gasp* human.  I went to Aldi, Staples and Walgreens, all three of which had friendly staff.  I especially appreciated the conversation I had with a person at Walgreens about my love of all things school supplies.  This led to a new bin of mini-highlighters (!!) being brought out in case I didn’t see the color I wanted.  Score!  I seriously squealed when I saw the pink one.

7.  Spending time with one of “my” doula babies, B.  A friend and I are trading babysitting a few times a week so we can each pursue our passions sans kids.  It’s extra special now that B is starting to really interact with me and we can be friends (sort of, except when it’s mama time).  There’s something really cool about hanging out with someone you’ve known before they came earthside.

Beading with the toddlers.

Beading with the toddlers.

8.  Staples.  Is. The. Shiznit.  Oh my goodness, do I love Staples.  I joined their newsletter and rewards club last year thinking maybe I would occasionally save a few bucks.  Instead, I haven’t paid more than $1 for a ream of paper once.  Now that is a deal!  In addition, they regularly have specials for certain items:  eraser caps for a penny, white-out for fifty cents.  I’m pretty sure they think I’m a nutter because every time I go in I remark how much I love getting free paper and how awesome their deals are.

9.  Foresight.  By the end of the day, I was done.  I know parenting is a 24-hour job, but by 5pm I’m often ready to be off the clock.  This day was one of those.  And M wouldn’t be home until 9 or later, so I knew I had hours to go.  Throw in non-napping kids and it’s a recipe for disaster!  Oh yeah, this is gratitude not complaining… the kids wanted to go for a walk.  Well, they thought they wanted to go for a walk but no one wanted to put on shoes or shirts (if I have to wear a shirt so do they).  Once that was finally accomplished, after a few choice words and some griping, the neighbor’s kitten decided he or she wanted to join us.  Fine, great, whatever.  This involved stopping every five seconds to decide whether to pick up kitty or not, then picking up and five seconds after that putting kitty down because of scratching.  I quickly realized that I was not in a position to have a “leisurely” stroll with the kiddos and that a better parenting move, at that point, was to herd them inside for baths.  Sometimes it is difficult to put aside the “ideal” for the reality.  But I did it.  And I’m thankful I did!

10.  My Ergo baby carrier.  M has just started allowing me to carry again, which I greatly appreciate.  I also really, really, REALLY appreciate and am grateful for my Ergo. If you’ve seen any pictures of me on Facebook, you’ve most likely seen my Ergo as well.  It is probably the best thing I bought for these last two kids and also probably the only thing I couldn’t survive without.

This isn't actually M, it's C way back in 2009!  It's also not the same carrier, because I had an issue with it and the fabulous customer service at Ergo replaced it for FREE.

This isn’t actually M, it’s C way back in 2009! It’s also not the same carrier, because I had an issue with it and the fabulous customer service at Ergo replaced it for FREE.

11.  Some of the kids have and use logic regularly.  This so incredibly helpful!  I love being able to say what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, etc. as well as having a back-and-forth conversation.  Logic rules.

12.  Awesome board members.  I serve on a board of an organization with three other women.  They all rock.  They work hard to serve the other members of the organization, to represent and uphold the ideals, to further the reach and education for communities and more.  Each one is a tremendous blessing, not only to me but to all the families who make up our membership.  I feel so honored to work with and serve with these ladies.

13.  Sleep.  Ah, glorious sleep.  Almost every night I am so very thankful for sleep.  I’m also thankful for kids going to sleep.

14.  Starting fresh.  When we have a crummy day, or a crummy ending to the day, I am thankful that tomorrow is a new day.  I’m thankful that the kids don’t wake up still annoyed with me or me with them.  We wipe the slate clean and that’s a good thing.

15.  Tea Tree Oil.  I enjoy having a natural way to clean.  One of my fruit drawers got spilled milk in it (no I didn’t cry over it), which was stinky!  A few drops of tea tree oil, a dollop of dish soap, lots of hot water and all is restored.  Yeah!

I even had an extra one:

16.  Good memories.  I listened to Peter, Paul and Mary for quite some time, enjoying the memories it brought up.  I have struggled with my parental relationships, so having these good feelings/memories is nice.  I also appreciate the newer good memory of fixing dinner in my grandmother’s kitchen with my cousins a few weeks ago.  It was a simple, sweet moment that I tucked away.


This day’s thank you note goes to #1, my friend R.

Dear R,

Thank you for taking the time to share the various ways you save on a regular basis.  I really appreciate being able to save money where I can so I have more for other things. My family and I have benefitted greatly from your tips, links and lists.

Blessings and Peace,