Coupon clipping and plot outlining

I’ve become obsessed with coupons lately. I started getting a Sunday paper and am really enjoying the cutting coupons process. I also ordered a few off http://www.thecouponclippers.com , where you order clipped coupons through the mail. I couldn’t get very many, because most of them you have to buy at least 5 of, and we’re just not in a position to stock up at the moment since we’re only here for 3 more months. But I’m sure I’ll be using them much more in our new place. I also bought a coupon organizer off Ebay today, to use instead of an envelope. It’s cool, it even attaches to the cart! I’m hoping it will work on the double-child carts they have at the commissary. But regardless it looks like the best organizer for what I want, so that’ll be nice. So far my technique, when I’m at the store, is that I keep having to flip through every coupon in my envelope when I’m looking for a particular one. Then every time I put a product in my cart, I move its coupon into my reusable grocery bags so that I keep all the coupons I’m definitely using together. This way, I can keep the coupons sorted even at the store, so less standing in the aisle and searching for the one I want. Also, I’ll save the front pocket for the coupons I’m actively using, instead of having to dig through my bags for them. I hope it works well.

One effect the coupons have had is making me think twice about other purchases sometimes. Like, I wanted one coupon organizer that was exactly the same, just in cuter colors. But it cost $5 more. It seemed to belie the whole point of saving money in coupons… $5 more for the exact thing, just prettier? So I got the cheaper one.

Also, when I was driving home around lunchtime today, I was tempted to get fast food. But even though fast food isn’t all that expensive, it costs a lot more than a sandwich at home. And I don’t even want to think about what the milkshakes Beth always wants (and rarely gets) cost, in terms of coupons. I saved $26 last grocery trip, and I don’t want to undermine it by spending $5 in fast food. 🙂 I guess it’s a good thing! I’m also feeling really good about cutting my own hair… that’s $15 saved.

I really want to get a chest freezer or deep freezer when we get back to New England. I’m also considering looking at joining a wholesale club, like BJ’s. The freezer would be for buying things like meat and frozen vegetables in large quantities when they’re on sale. I’ve heard that the wholesale clubs are particularly good for meats, although I’d have to look and see what kind of deals they actually have, whether it’s worth the yearly fee.

Only 8 weeks until little Cecy joins us!

I should really have my rough draft done before then. Only it’s not going to happen. I maybe have a quarter written, if that. And I’m still revising some of the plot coming ahead in the story. I wish I could figure out a better way to organize my plot outline, though. I don’t know how people usually do it. I wish there were a plot outline tutorial!

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Back to the drawing board

Well, my parents left this morning, so things should gradually get back to normal. While they’re here, the kids are of course a bit hyped up, plus overtired because they’re waking up too early. I’m hoping they’ll go back to their normal sleep habits, but if it’s that silly morning sunlight, I may have to look into blackout shades or at least tacking up a curtain over the window. It’s not just that they’re waking me up too early, it’s that it’s too early for them. Josie has been needing a morning nap again because she’s just so wiped out, and Beth, who won’t nap at all, is a terror by noontime because she’s overtired and whiny. Must fix this.

I had a nice birthday, and now I’m in my 30s! Eek! It’s odd, but I’ve spent very little time really thinking that far ahead specifically. I mean, we’ve considered things like when to start having kids and how to space them based on wanting to be done before I’m much into my thirties, and of course I’ve imagined growing old in rather abstract terms, but I think I’ve always mostly imagined life up until age 30. I guess that will be changing quickly now! To think that my next “big” birthday will be 40! Goodness.

My mom got me the newest Jessica Day George book, “Princess of Glass.” I wanted to save it, but I started to read a little bit, and it’s such a wonderful and compelling book that of course I got hooked and am now 3/4 of the way through it. It’s wonderful, but I wish I could have made it last longer.

Seth and I went out to see “Letters to Juliet.” I was surprised that he wanted to see it, as I thought it looked like mostly a chick flick. But we both really loved it! It’s a wonderful movie, very sweet and funny and romantic. I liked how they managed to make a romance movie that wasn’t slapstick and full of sex like most of the romantic comedies that are out there lately. And it was really very witty. We had the movie theatre to ourselves, as we went late at night on a Sunday, so we could make comments occasionally, that sort of thing. I’d highly recommend it to just about anyone.

I’ve been rather stalled in my own writing. I’ve realized that I need to do a lot more brainstorming and plotting before I can move forward. I’ve changed the pacing of my story somewhat, and now the structure means that I’ve essentially got a beginning and an end, with some but insufficient middle. It moves a little bit too quickly from the beginning of the story with the setup to the climax. So I’m trying to figure out how I want to work it. I don’t just want to throw unrelated complications at the main characters, I want to figure out what their challenges should be, who is working against them and why, and incorporate that into the story. So I won’t be writing any more actual story until some of that is solved. It’s slow going, but I think it will ultimately make for a better story. I need a brainstorm partner, though! Sometimes I wish I had another me, just to throw ideas at and see what comes about. Talking aloud helps, but it’s hard to do when Seth or the kids are around. Well, Josie doesn’t mind much, but Beth would ask too many questions and suggest that I add more princesses and dragons.

Cleanliness, dragons, kisses, Velcro, and Nineveh

Kitchen is clean. Dining room table is clean. Floor is swept (okay, it could use a washing, but honestly it could always use a washing, I just can’t keep up). Bathrooms are cleaned. Living room is tidy and vacuumed. Stairs, hallway, all vacuumed. Girls’ room is a mess, but they’re sleeping in there, so I’ll have to tackle that tomorrow. I’m not even behind on laundry. It feels good to sit down after getting the girls to bed and know that there isn’t anything really pressing that I neglected in terms of housework. I just wish it didn’t get so messy again quite so fast! By the end of tomorrow, if I don’t repeat a lot of the cleaning I did today, it’ll be a disaster again. But for now, I can revel in it.

It rained all morning, so the girls watched Dora *and* Sesame Street. Beth has been playing Dora all day. It’s a huge relief, it definitely cut into princess-reenacting time. It’s more fun to pretend to steal things as Swiper, or try to come up with obstacles for her to overcome, then to just playact the princess stories over and over.

Oh, we did have a funny princess story yesterday, though! We were playing Ariel-and-Eric lost in the woods (not based on any specific Little Mermaid movie, just the characters). I was supposed to be Prince Eric, and I had been traveling the woods with my dog, Max (Josie) when I was put to sleep by a spell. Ariel was on her way to kiss me, so I lay on the floor, sleeping, lips slightly puckered. All of a sudden I feel something press to my lips. Was that… a nose? I open my eyes to see Josie grinning broadly. Beth started laughing hysterically. “Your doggie Max woke you up! Your doggie Max is your true love!” Poor Ariel. 🙂 And “Max” was so proud of herself for playing princesses with us.

I had my blood glucose test this morning. It’s a bit late (was supposed to be in week 28), but hopefully it won’t be a problem. It’s a little difficult, as they told me to wait until I was 28 weeks to do the test, and that started last Tuesday. I was hoping there would be a day when Seth got home from work early and I could pop over there, but it didn’t happen Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Finally, I checked the lab hours and realized they opened at 7am, so on Friday I woke up extra early and dragged myself over there for the test… only to find out they were closed Friday *and* Monday for Memorial Day. I meant to do Tuesday but forgot, and then Seth had to be at work early on Wednesday, so now, finally, Thursday, I managed it. Hopefully being a few days into week 29 won’t matter too much.

I found myself looking up pictures of 29-week preemies today. Not because I want or expect Cecy to be born soon! Just because I was curious what she looks like now, and while there are plenty of artistic renditions online, I wanted to see what a *real* 29-week baby looked like. Of course, it’s hard to see, because most 29-week preemies are in the NICU and hooked up to breathing equipment and stuff. I definitely don’t want her to be born for a good many weeks yet! Besides, my swaddles haven’t arrived yet. 🙂

I won two Ebay auctions (from the same seller, so I save on shipping, yay!) for Miracle Blankets, used. I’ve never tried the Miracle Blanket before, but Wallydraigle has talked about how awesome they are, and a lot of other people praise them to the skies, so I really wanted to try them. My Kiddopotamus Swaddlemes are great, but I’d need new ones anyway because my current small ones are microfleece (since my other babies were winter babies). And besides, in order to get those really tight, you have to pull hard on the Velcro, and between that and the frequent use and washings over two babies, the Velcro has really worn down on those to the point of being almost non-working. I still wouldn’t have gone with the Miracle Blanket if I hadn’t thought to check Ebay for used ones, though, as they’re just too expensive new.

I just ran across the most fantastic new (to me) author! Her name is Jessica Day George. She’s written a trilogy about dragons and a girl, starting with “Dragon Slippers,” along with two fairytale rewrites. They are *so* good! When I was reading the dragon series, I loved it so much that I found myself wanting to really pay attention to figure out how she makes the story so compelling and the reading so smooth. Of course, I got so into the story that I didn’t do that at all. So I’m actually going to start back at the beginning of the first book and reread the trilogy, even though I *just* finished them, and pay attention to how she develops the story, characters, plot, etc. Because, wow! I think I’ve just found the author who I most want to write like.

This evening, Beth and I were busily playing Nineveh with blocks and dolls. Jonah had just arrived and the citizens of Nineveh had repented of slapping each other with fish when–oh no!–Nineveh was destroyed anyway by a giant baby! Fortunately, the citizens of Nineveh were welcomed to Tarshish, where they lived happily ever after, repeatedly reenacting the story of Cinderella. Playing with Beth is almost like Biblical fanfic sometimes.