Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sticks and Stones ... and a Little Something for the Party

On Friday night, I crawled into my tent in the woods and tried to sleep it off.

By Saturday night, I suspected something might be WRONG. "Wrong" meaning "enduring blinding pain" and "we never finished those wills, did we?" I stumbled onto (not into) my sleeping bag and kept a towel nearby in the event that nausea got the best of me. I cried myself to sleep. By Sunday at 3 a.m., I woke up and announced that we were, indeed, expecting our fifth (or sixth) kidney stone. And this one was going to be bigger and stronger and uglier than those that preceded it.

Illustration by Jason Smith; isn't it great? It reminds me of old Batman comic books.

"Let's go to the hospital."
"But it's not time. I have it under control for now. I have everything with me that a doctor would give me. Except the Demerol. And a laser. And the sterile field. So let's just save the co-pay."
"Seriously, we can leave the kids here and be back before dawn."
"I am not leaving four kids unattended in the woods. And since when does an ER visit take only three hours? My threshold is high. We're not there yet."

Eleven hours later, by 4 p.m. Sunday, after unloading the car and unpacking tents, we were there. And there I have been for the past 60-some odd hours, even after seeing a physician -- a pleasant physician who administered a shot in my hip, gave me an antibiotic and prescribed a very nice controlled substance. And I tell you all this as an explanation for Monday's post, which, as I read it now, makes very little sense. Even though it is 100 percent true. Just as e-mail and wine don't mix, neither do blogging and Lortab. Still, you will notice that my spelling was remarkably flawless.

I remain medicated and am still waiting for the blessed event, but it's high time (no pun intended) I throw something into the Poverty Party pot. If memory serves -- last week was a long time ago -- my plan was to contribute an occasional true and personal account that will inspire you to make wise choices that will keep you out of the poor house and make you feel like a responsible American. I'm doing my best here to stay true to my word. And not to fall off the couch while I'm typing. The really neat part is, I probably wouldn't feel a thing.

Today, we turn our attention to grocery shopping, the bane of our existence. One of those necessities of life -- daily life, it seems -- that leaves us with empty pockets and only moderately filled cabinets these days. I will not get into the minutiae of my shopping list, menu planning (ha) and coupon usage, except to guide you toward two very useful sites that will spark your coupon-clipping and inspire you to say, "Full price for Hamburger Helper? I don't think so!"

• (no www in the address, please) — If you shop at Publix or have a Publix within a 25-mile radius of your home, this is worth the effort. This fiddledeedee woman combines sales, coupons and shopper savvy to teach you how to really rip off, I mean, navigate Publix and not break the bank. Done right, the cashier will be handing you money.

• — The tagline "helping you be a better home economist" smacks of 1956 and makes me smile. Because I'm a lot of things, but I'm probably not the quintessential "home economist." I'm just here for the printable coupons. So, if you're like me, just click on "coupons" on the index at the top of the page. You can read other tidbits and guest posts, like "We each want a lovely and inviting home." Or not.

Those are but two tips I'm throwing in the pot, and maybe I'll get a little more personal in the coming weeks, as Bossy has done. I'll try to make you feel bad about spending and good about saving. I'll try to make you feel guilty about making stupid financial decisions and feel better about being a cheapskate.

"But, Amy," you might be whining. "This sounds painful."

And I would say, "Look, whiner, you don't KNOW pain."