Sunday, April 20, 2014


To my sweet medium person on her 11th birthday.

Dear Brayden:

People told me that time would fly and I ignored them.  I vowed to savor every moment of your childhood, even the disgusting ones.  I'm hard on you and I rarely waiver.  I take my title of "Fun Police" seriously, you know.

Today, I'd like to tell you about a few of the things that I love about you.

You're stunningly beautiful but aren't a jerk about it.

When you were born, we could already tell that you'd be a very pretty girl.  I mean, everyone thinks their kid is good looking, but we REALLY knew.  The hospital staff could not take their eyes off of you.  You were that beautiful.  You still are.

You aren't annoyingly beautiful.  You are humble and compliment others often.  I admire that about you.  I don't worry about you using your beauty to your advantage.  It's a part of you but not the sum of the whole.  :)

You're brave.

I think this is probably one of the traits that I love and hate.  I love that you face adventures and don't run away.  You've convinced me to face a few of my own fears and for that, I'm forever grateful to you.

You run from NOTHING.  I watched you learn how to ride your bike with a tenacity that would rival any Olympic athlete.

You're kind.

There are times when I come home from work complaining about how unkind people can be.  You listen intently and tell me to be nice to them.  When I wish paper cuts would rain down on my adversaries, you're there to remind me that they may be hurting others because they're hurt.

You don't let me call anyone names, even when they deserve it.  So, I've put away my arsenal of words because of your kindness.

I worry that your kindness will put you in harm's way, sometimes.  You want me to stop for every person that has a sign.  You think all causes are worth looking into.  You never complain when we volunteer.

You're kind of a hipster.

Sighhh, this one's tough for me.  You refuse to like things that everyone else likes.  If something catches on, you'll abandon it.  I find that hilarious and admirable.  You aren't a fad type of kid.  You're a trendsetter.

You fought me tooth and nail about your birthday party theme this year.  You wanted Mine Craft and I wanted My Little Pony.  I HATE Mine Craft.  You love it.  Your wishes won out, of course.

You're hilarious.

The day you told me politicians were like super villains with minions doing their bidding, I knew that I'd be your friend when you became an adult.  Your comedic timing is impeccable.  I don't allow you to tell jokes during dinner because I fear that I'll choke.

You get me.

I struggle with humans.  I have a handful of people who understand me and you are one of them.  I love that I can give you a glance across the room when I'm talking to a dreadful person and you freaking get it.

You get that my wit isn't mean spirited.  Do you know how many times I've had to explain an innocent Facebook status to imbeciles?  (OK, I know you don't like me calling people names.)

You love God.

Your faith is new.  It's amazing to watch.  You aren't a bible thumping troll.  You REALLY love God. Your love of God is evident in your actions.  You refuse to tell people they're going to burn if they don't believe like you.  You really believe in humanity.  You truly believe that no one is alone in this world.

You're smart.

I don't just mean that you know things or that you make good grades.  No, you're a smart girl.  You don't dumb yourself down for anyone.  You love reading and it shows.  Your vocabulary is amazing!  You love learning new things.

You're just, well, you.

With each passing day, you become more of your own person.  Everyone thinks their kid is amazing.  Often, it's not true.  (I'm sorry, but it's true.)  You truly are an amazing medium person who I know will change the world.  People are lucky to call you a friend.  I'm beyond lucky to have you as a daughter.

I don't know how the stars aligned to give me such a wonderful daughter but I'm grateful more and more each day.

And yes, I'm still a runner, sweetie.




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I'm no wuss! Dangit!

Tonight, I'm breaking all of my rules.  I let things from work keep me awake.  Recently, I've been feeling more overwhelmed than usual.  Today, a small typo, (MY TYPO) caused ALOT of extra work for me and rather than starting fresh tomorrow, I stayed and worked on it for an insanely long amount of time because I felt it needed to be "right."  Honestly, my feelings were hurt by the person who brought it to my attention and I let my ego get in the way of me going home to my amazing family.  I got home late and was distracted when my medium person told me all about her day.  I didn't even spend 5 minutes talking to Ike.

I'm constantly trying to get caught up and it just never seems to happen.  I'm a flawed human.
 
1.  I'm impatient and take it personally when people don't respond to my emails in a timely manner.  This usually results in me calling them constantly until I get the answer that I seek.  This can be especially challenging with me because I work with volunteers who graciously donate their time to support their organization.
2.  I get distracted by who's in front of me and don't finish projects.  If my office phone rings for me, I feel compelled to help them right then.
3.  I feel guilty for not being the person who I replaced.  She was amazing and left me with such huge shoes to fill.
4.  I'm afraid of disappointing people so I spread myself thin to get things done.
5.  I have a hard time keeping organized because I  have a hard time saying no.  By not limiting the amount of time I work, I've ensured that I will crash and burn from exhaustion.
6.  I'm not respectful of other people's time.  I often make the assumption that MY projects are the most important.  (This is probably the one that I'm most embarrassed about.)
7.  I take things personally and cry in my car.

Whew!  There's a crap ton wrong with me.  I listed these things because I'm not going to wallow in them anymore.  I listed things that are wrong with me that contribute to me not being the very best employee that I can possibly be.  What does writing them down even prove?  Probably nothing.  I just wanted to say them out loud.  (Or write them)

Problems are silly without solutions, right?
1.  I am not going to watch my email and/or cell phone awaiting responses to emails.  I will let anyone that I'm emailing know that I'm expecting a response while politely reminding them of any urgency.
2.  I have headphones and beautiful jazz to listen to.
3.  When the "good old days" with ***** are mentioned, I'll start saying, "I miss her, too."
4.  Being upfront with someone will far less disappoint them than me providing mediocre work.
5.  I'm developing a work calendar.
6.  This is the easiest to fix.  I just need to stop being rude and forcing my project talk on other people.  I know better.
7.  I've been trying to win over someone at work for 3 years.(Not to date, just to tolerate me and not openly despise me.)  It's not going to happen. I have to accept the fact that some people are going to hate me.  Can't buy their love and I'm tired of trying. It's exhausting and degrading.


There you have it.  I'm done with those things.  I'm tired of whining about them and not fixing anything.  It's up to me now.  I'm the agent of change in my very own life.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How do Pick 5 Meat deals really add up?



You've seen the ads.  Pick any 5 packages of meat for $19.99!  Most discount grocery stores and many local small grocers have some sort of pick 5 deal.  When I was a new wife and mom, I LOVED these sorts of "deals."  20 dollars for 5 different packages of meat!  Sign me up.  I'd get chicken, ground beef, pork chops, bacon, and usually a seafood item for 4 dollars each!  This has to be a bargain right!?

One day I started comparing prices to "regular" packaged family packs of meat.  The price per pound was significantly lower.  Wait a minute.

The total price for the "Pick 5" deals are the gimmick.  Twenty dollars doesn't SEEM like very much money.  To many families, these deals appear to be a way for them to stretch their dollar a little further. I noticed that Kroger has recently gotten in on the "Pick 5" game.

To test my theory, I went to a discount grocer and wrote down the weight of 5 packages of the "Pick 5" items.  I searched through many packages to find the highest weight to get the most bang for my "Pick 5" buck.  I also asked the butcher if he had any other packages in the back.  I'm not above asking anything.  I'm trying to save my family money.  I'll just add that you can also buy french fries and other convenience foods but I REFUSE to buy pre cut fries or most convenience foods.  The mark up is astronomical and the amount of sodium in them is enough to make me scream.  (Sorry, I get sidetracked easily.)  Here's the math:


  • 1 Package of Chicken Legs 2.24 lbs (Price marked on the package was $1.85/lb or $4.15)
  • 1 Package of Ground Beef  1.42 lbs  (Price marked on the package was $2.99/lb or $4.24)
  • 1 Package of Breakfast Pork Chops  1.06 lbs (Price marked on the package was $3.97/lb or $4.21)
  • 1 Package of Boneless Skinless Chicken Strips 1.04 lbs (Price marked on the page was $3.99/lb or $4.14)
  • 1 Package of Pork Steaks 1.84 (Price marked on the package was $2.46/lb or $4.54)

Now, if I were just a casual shopper walking through the store, I'd add the prices and get $21.28.  BUT, if I purchase all 5, I get them for $19.99.  This is a 7% discount!  Again, it looks like an awesome deal.  

The problem, friends, is in the weight of the packages.  The packages of meat that I selected total 7.6 pounds.  $19.99/7.6 LBS= $2.63 per pound.  $2.63 doesn't sound horrible per pound.  The biggest issue I have with this sale program is that it depends on people not using math.  Convenience and  pricey.  

I do not base my buying decisions on package deals or gimmicks.  I have a list of maximum prices that I'm willing to pay for every item that we eat.  For example, the price I'm willing to pay for boneless skinless chicken breasts is $2.29 per pound.  If I can't find it for that price or lower, we do not have chicken breasts in that week.  I plan my meals around loss leaders from various grocers.  Let's take a look at what MY 20 dollars will buy by shopping loss leaders this week.

3 LBS Boneless skinless Tyson Chicken Breasts  @$1.87/lb = $5.61

2.00 LBS GROUND TURKEY OR GROUND BEEF @$1.99 lb = $3.98
3.5 LBS CHICKEN LEGS @$1.27 LB = $4.44
3 LBS PORK LOIN@1.99 LB =$5.97

$19.99 for 11.5 LBS of meat.  This averages about $1.74 per pound for the same meat!  (More than likely not the same.  Higher quality outside of the Pick 5 deals.)  You are able to take the same $19.99 and purchase 50% MORE meat.

It's crazy!  Now, I'm not saying that ALL grocery stores mislead.  I just think as a consumer, especially one who is on a budget, that we owe it to ourselves to do the math.  It doesn't hurt.  It adds a few extra minutes to your shopping trip.

I guess you may be wondering what this has to do with my Food Stamp Challenge.  Wellll, I found a meat cutter's forum that spoke about the "Pick 5" deals.  They specifically mentioned food stamp customers were their target markets.  One meat cutter even mentions customers just grabbing 5 packages of meat without looking at them.  I can't make this stuff up, folks.  For the record, the cutters were not speaking negatively of customers that use food stamps.  The forum was just a place for butchers to discuss ways to cut costs and increase profit margins.  They use sales trends to make decisions about what to offer and when.  Cold, hard numbers.

I don't have an opinion one way or the other on if it's ethical.  It doesn't bother me much because I can just walk past the "deals" and purchase the items that I know will save us the most money.  I just find it odd that the group of people that would be considered by many to be in the most need of saving and stretching dollars are the very group of people that grocers expect to spend indiscriminately.

I'll post later in the week on our progress.  I hate football, ya'll.  ;)



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Food Stamp Challenge Week 2

Well, we made it!  We finished week 1 and I'm pretty impressed with the results.  Full disclosure, we did get to eat FREE burgers from a Mississippi Braves game on Saturday.  (I'm not turning down free meals for anyone!)  Even with the free meal, we had 1 pound of the ground turkey left over that I put in the freezer for next week.  We also had turkey bacon, yogurt, milk, cereal, brown rice, beans, spinach and broccolli left over to start week 2.

I'm not going to bore you with endless pictures of my meals.  I will share one picture each week and just give you our general meal plans.

We LOVE brown rice.  We eat a lot of it and I can eat it almost every night with dinner.  We ate a few sandwiches for lunch but mostly ate leftovers.  Ike refuses to eat sandwiches for dinner, so rest assured, any meal prepared for dinner usually has meat, two veggies, and a grain.

Sampling of our Meals:

Breakfasts: Cereal, Fruit, Yogurt, Veggie Omelets or Turkey Bacon with Eggs, Toast, and Hash Browns
Lunches:  Leftovers from Dinners or Chicken Sandwich on Wheat Bread; 
Dinners: Baked Chicken Breasts; Fresh Veggies; Brown Rice; Turkey Kielbasa (Yummo); Ground Turkey Burgers with Baked Home Cut Fries (We left the skin on.)
Desserts/Snacks:  Carrots; Grapes; Cookies!  

The end of the week was pleasant.  Our meals were simple because I was tired.  I usually stick to things I know unless it's a weekend.  Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are something our family eats at least twice a week.  It's easy, relatively healthy, and unexpensive.

Our meals will probably be a little more adventurous this week because I like to shake things up a bit and introduce things that aren't necessarily our dinner regulars.  We'll definitely be fitting a little seafood into the budget this week.  I also see a two day casserole in the near future because our laundry monster is starting to grow again.  I fear Ike will lose it if I don't slay that thing soon.  He hasn't said anything about it yet but I know my man.  ;)

Just want to add that I'm SO honored to have first time visitors to my blog because of this series.  I've had a record number of views, recently, and I'm hoping the response will be positive.   (Fingers crossed)  We're all entitled to opinions and I'm very blessed to have parents that taught me to respect others, even if their views differ.  If you think differently from me, understand that I probably still think you're awesome.  I do NOT consider myself a genius(or even remotely smart) and hope we'll all be able to learn from each other.

I feel like a medium, sized deal!  It's been so much fun having people walk up to me and say they're following our journey.  I'll post my week two shopping list in a bit!

Hope this post finds you all happy, healthy, and inspired. ;)  In case anyone forgot, I HATE FOOTBALL, ya'll!  


Sunday, August 4, 2013

My First Food Stamp/SNAP Challenge Shopping Trip

I planned my list, wrote down budgeted prices, and went shopping.  Having a list is essential to staying on budget.  I rarely make impulse purchases because I shop alone.  I do not bring the man or the medium person with me on trips.  They would destroy our budget.

I mentioned in my first post that I would only be shopping at Kroger and Walmart because they are both within 10 miles of my home.    I purchased very few store brand items because I didn't want to potentially hate them and waste money.  It took about 20 minutes to make out the list and about an hour to finish all the shopping.

Here's how I did:

I spent $82.90 of my allowed $85.68.  Part of the reason that I spent a little more than I normally will is because I bought a few items that will last for several weeks and/or months.  (Milk, cooking spray, flour, sea salt, and Parkay butter)  I also purchased chocolate chip cookie dough as a treat but it will probably last about two weeks as well.

So, that's about $2.78 under budget for the weekly trip.  Here's pics:


Pic of the Actual Food (I couldn't get ALL of the food because I couldn't balance myself on top of my freezer to get the whole table.

Used LOTS of price matching for this trip.  I put them on the conveyor belt first to get them out of the way to make checkout go a lot faster. 
The Clif protein bar coupon printed after I finished my first transaction.  It was free, so I picked it up for the man.

Notice the FREE eggs.  Kroger starting sending these to me when I signed up for a Kroger card many years ago.


Week 1 Shopping List
Qty. Price Each Total
Honeysuckle White Ground Turkey 2  $1.99  $3.98
Turkey Bacon 1  $2.28  $2.28
Hillshire Farm Turkey Kielbasa Sausage 1  $1.99  $1.99
Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (LBS) 4.93  $1.97  $9.71
Tyson Cajun Turkey Sliced 1  $2.50  $2.50
Whole Wheat Bread 1  $0.99  $0.99
Tomato 1  $0.53  $0.53
Bell Pepper 2  $0.50  $1.00
Cabbage 2.62  $0.47  $1.23
Red Grapes 2.33  $1.29  $3.01
Spinach 1  $2.88  $2.88
Broccolli 1  $1.22  $1.22
Mushrooms 1  $1.78  $1.78
Green Beans 0.58  $1.58  $0.92
Apples 3 Lb. Bag 1  $3.77  $3.77
Green Grapes 2.05  $1.29  $2.64
Carrots 1  $1.78  $1.78
Pears - Danjou 1.36  $1.57  $2.14
Bananas LBS 0.52  $0.47  $0.24
Potatoes 5 LB Bag 1  $4.77  $4.77
Plums 1.75  $0.99  $1.73
1 Gallon 2% Milk 1  $2.99  $2.99
Parkay Butter Spray 1  $1.19  $1.19
Eggs 1  $-    $-  
Brown Rice 1  $1.44  $1.44
Sea Salt 1  $1.98  $1.98
Red Beans 1  $1.08  $1.08
Pinto Beans 1  $1.34  $1.34
Navy Beans 1  $1.16  $1.16
Crisco Spray 1  $2.12  $2.12
Flour 1  $2.48  $2.48
Yogurt Cups 6  $0.50  $3.00
Sugar Cookies 1  $1.78  $1.78
Honey Nut Cheerios 1  $2.19  $2.19
Cheerios 1  $2.19  $2.19
Kraft Cheese 2  $2.49  $4.98
Florida Natural Orange Juice 1  $2.49  $2.49
Protein Bar 1  $-    $-  
Sour Dough Boule 1  $1.38  $1.38
Kroger Slider Buns 1  $1.00  $1.00
SNAP Total (Pretax Total)  $85.88
Coupons  $2.90
Total:  $82.90


Friday, August 2, 2013

The Food Stamp Challenge or the SNAP Challenge



Most of my real life friends and every Facebook friend of mine knows that I do not identify with either of the “big two” political parties.  There are more reasons than I have time to list but the main reason is because I often feel misled by politicians.  The perfect example of misleading would be the recent argument over cutting Food Stamp benefits or SNAP.  (The new name)


“The June bill included $20.5 billion in proposed cuts to the food stamp program, plus amendments calling for mandatory drugs tests for recipients and employment requirements. Democrats protested the food stamp cuts, while many Republicans said the cuts did not go deep enough.”  --NY Times Ron Nixon

So, during these arguments over the Farm bill, a dozen or so Democratic congressional members decided to go on “Food Stamp Challenges.”  During this time, they would only allow themselves $4.50 per day for food.  They came up with this figure by dividing the national average food stamp benefit per person.  You may remember that the mayor of Newark Corey Booker completed the same challenge in December of 2012.

I was immediately captivated.  I LOVE budget work.  I love it.  I love it so much that I do it for a living.  I’m an avid couponer and work hard to save money for my family.  I work part time and to continue to live comfortably, my family and I make frugal choices daily.  We rarely eat out and when we do, we have a coupon.  I use coupons for almost everything. 
I googled a few blogs in an attempt to find results of the congressional Challenges.  I found lots of Democratic congress members  that participated that lamented the fact that they would potentially starve from the 7 day challenge.  Their shopping carts were almost empty and they “felt” the pain that many families go through that they were attempting to help by not cutting Food Stamp benefits.  I almost felt like they were failing on purpose.

I found one Republican staffer that completed the challenge, and of course, his results were the polar opposite.  He finished WELL under budget.  The problem I had with his results was that he had no fresh fruit or vegetables.  He also had 2 two liters of Root Beer for the week!  Don’t even get me started on that one!  His shopping list looked like constipation waiting to happen.
I did some figuring and realized that I wanted to try to the Food Stamp Challenge.  I wanted to try it because I’m not buying either of those stories.  I wanted to make the shopping list myself, plan our dinners, and execute the plan. 

Here’s the math.  I’m not taking the national figures.  National doesn’t apply to me.  I live in Mississippi so the Mississippi allotment is what I shall use.  It’s less.  It works out to about $4.07 per person, per day.  Mississippi food prices, from what I’ve seen, are astronomical compared to ads I’ve seen in other states.  It’s weird that we get less but pay more.  Alas, it doesn’t matter.  I’m using what I’m given.  I’m not using the national average.  It just doesn’t make sense.
The Math
$123.76 (2012 Mississippi average monthly allotment for 1 person.)
$123.76 *12 months = $1,485.12 (Annual Benefit for 1 person)
3 Awesome Family Members (2 Adults + 1 10 year old)
$1,485.12 * 3 People = $4,455.36/52 Weeks
$85.68 per week allotment ($371.28 month)

I broke the numbers down per week because families that receive Snap benefits receive a monthly allotment.  I wanted to make sure the numbers were sound.  This allows for the 5 week months.
Here are my rules:


1.    We're doing 30 days of the Challenge.  I think 7 days isn't really enough to gauge anything because benefits are given monthly.  Family packs save us a ton of money.

2.   No eating out or outside food.  I understand that some families who receive Food Stamps have income to dine out occasionally.  I’m not judging.  I’m just stating the facts.  We’re choosing not to do it that way.

3.    I will only be shopping at Kroger and Walmart.  I’ll shop at Kroger to get free items when they send me coupons through the mail.  The rest of the time, I’ll shop at Wal-Mart because I can comp the ads from local stores.  (It’s crappy but I can’t waste gas driving around town.)  Both of these stores are within 10 miles of my home.

4.    I’ll be using minimal coupons.  I’ll still be using them but not like I usually do.  I was reminded today by a colleague that many people would not be willing or don’t have the time to invest in couponing.  (I don’t get it.  Especially if it means feeding your family.)

5.   I’ll be buying minimal processed foods.  We don’t eat a lot of processed stuff so I’m going to eat what I want to eat. 

6.   I’ll be shopping once a week.  Although the allotment is monthly, I’ll be shopping weekly to decrease the chance of spoilage/waste.

7.   When my medium person starts school, I will NOT be including her food for lunch.  Families who receive food stamps benefits are eligible to receive free lunch.  (I called to verify.) So, I’ll be paying for her food that she takes to school separately.

8.  I'm not buying a ton of generic stuff.  It's not what we normally eat so I'm just not going to do it.  It may be our downfall but I'm just going to plan like we normally plan with name brand foods and a few off brand items that I know taste good.


I just want to preface this challenge by saying I have no dog in this fight.  I just want an unbiased challenge that isn’t misleading.  One of the biggest issues that I have with this challenge is the fact that the new name of the Food Stamp program is SNAP.  The ‘S’ stands for supplemental.  That means that the program was not designed to be your sole source of income for food for your family.  But I’ve been informed that for some families, this is reality.  So, I want to live it, as much as I can.  My challenge isn’t judgemental or preachy.  Well, it’ll probably be a little bit preachy but only to those trolls in Washington.  If I fail, you’ll know.  The proof will be in the proverbial pudding.  (I won’t be buying any though!)  I’ll admit defeat and concede that SNAP isn’t enough to feed families.  I’ll email my Republican representatives and advise them of my findings.  I’ll let you know if I feel hungry and will also let you know if we don’t have enough to finish the week.  If I succeed, however, I’ll be sharing my weekly plans with my local food stamp office, as well as my local Democratic representatives.  I’ll post receipts as well as our meals a few times a week. 

It’d probably be wise for me to advise my dearest, wonderful friends that this is a political rhetoric free zone.   Let’s just have a fair fight and see where this goes. 


Here’s a few links for fact checking! 

The Argument that started it all:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/02/us/politics/gop-push-to-slash-food-stamps-puts-farm-bill-in-jeopardy.html
My figures:

Various Articles That Made me Want to Start a Challenge of my Own:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's that smell? Your politics could sure use a bath!



My sweet, handsome father taught me many things as a young lady.  Never leave your drink unattended.  Always keep a twenty dollar bill hidden in your wallet.  Check your oil and tire pressure before driving long distances.  I could go on for ages about how smart my father is.  (Seriously, he's amazing.  My mom's even more amazing but that's another post in itself.)  The most valuable advice that he ever gave me was proper etiquette regarding the discussion of explosive topics.

What could possibly be considered explosive?  We live in America!  We can say whatever we want!  The Constitution says so.  Blah blah blah.  I'll just tackle one topic.  Politics.  (Shudders.)  Typing the word makes me feel a little sick.  I rarely discuss politics.  I rarely get the opportunity to discuss anything.  I don't get out much.  Like many moms, I use Facebook to keep up with friends and family.  In the past two years, I've seen the good, bad, and ugly of elections on my news feed.  I've seen people who can barely form a sentence teach lessons about the political process.  I've seen otherwise, reasonable human beings turn into stark, raving lunatics in support of candidates that they will NEVER meet.  I've also seen my closest friends argue with each other about issues that don't directly affect them.

I pride myself in being able to fraternize with princes and paupers alike.  Your educational/financial background mean little to me.  For that reason, my friends in real life and on Facebook are diverse.  We come from very different backgrounds.  We are all over the place.  I do not identify with a particular party because honestly, they probably wouldn't want me.  Here's the truth:  I have complicated views that sometimes place me very squarely to the right but just as many that place me in the other direction.  I am a complete and utter political disaster.  I choose to not identify because no one party's ideals truly reflect my core beliefs.  (Not in the big two anyway) I often feel that I'm left to vote to for the lesser of two evils when I'm faced with a red or blue candidate.  I consider myself a political outcast.  I'm not sad about it.  I don't feel ashamed.  I'm still a patriot who loves the wonderful freedoms that come with being an American.

Choosing not to discuss politics in a social setting does not mean that I don't have views.  I care a great deal about many things.  (Don't get me started on the IRS tax code.)  It just seems to me that we've (society) lost the ability to discuss our different views in a manner that doesn't turn hurtful and downright nasty.

I was at a relative's house last summer when a visitor declared that "Mitt Romney is going to put us back in the fields."  This is a direct quote.  I'm not paraphrasing to make my point.  He seriously said that out loud.  My husband, who knows me well, looked in my direction and gave me "the look."  It's a look he often gives me when he's warning me to behave myself or when he wants to give me long passionate kisses.  (Haha.  Just kidding about the last part.)  I was floored.  I just couldn't wrap my mind around why someone would say something so absurd.  It's fine to support a candidate but why is mudslinging necessary?  How did he even know we were all Democrats?  I mean, the room was full of black people.  Is that why he made that assumption?  Not only could we have been in mixed company (not racially but politically) but my 10 year old daughter was present!

Now to show how fair and balanced I am, I'll share another story from the opposite side.  A friend of mine who is a self professed "non reader" (her words) asked me if the President was attempting to figure out a way to serve an additional term.  In other words, Congress was going to allow him to magically ignore the 22nd Amendment!  There's a couple of things wrong with this story.  The first thing is my friend doesn't read.  The second thing is her news source.  She heard it from her non reading husband who heard it on a radio station.  Not only do people not read but they share information with other non readers about politics.   I don't mind people sharing information amongst each other.  It's their business.  The biggest problem I have with that story is the fact that someone (not my sweet friend, of course) will say this in front of their impressionable child, who will then come to school and tell my daughter.  I'll then be forced to explain things that have nothing to do with her spelling words.

You'll notice that I mentioned my daughter in both stories.  We've decided to let her enjoy childhood and leave the yucky political stuff to the grown ups.  She'll need to worry about the ills of society soon enough.  She had no idea who we were voting for the entire duration of the Presidential election.  I'm not exaggerating.  No idea.  See, we were busy playing games, kissing her, giggling, and doing homework.  In other words, we were being the very best parents that we could be.  We had no time to tell her how awful we think the tax code is.  She understands that people died for her right to vote.  She also knows that voting is important.  She's just not going to get my tarnished grown up views.  I want her to make her political decisions based on her own moral compass.  Not what talk radio or heaven forbid, a FACEBOOK wall tells her.  Sheesh.

So in the spirit of one of the best lessons ever taught by my father, I vote NO.  NO, I'll not be sharing my views.  NO, I refuse to fight for freedom and choices but criticize those who exercise the freedom and choice to disagree with me.  People who disagree with me aren't stupid!  People who disagree with me aren't unAmerican!  I refuse to fault anyone for fighting for what they believe in.  I can disagree with a cause while remaining a kind human being.  In the end, I think the vast majority of us love our country and want what we think is best for our children.

Until there's a candidate that openly supports shortening the NFL season (Remember?  I really hate football), I will NOT openly endorse any political party for the sake of endorsing a political party.