Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year!

Of course I had to post on Leap Year Day.  How often do we get the chance?  Well..once every 4 years, but that is completely beside the point.

I've always thought those folks born on a Leap Year Day were lucky.  I mean it's pretty cool to be born on a day that doesn't even exist most other years.

I wish it wasn't so raining and gross today.  I've got nothing interesting planned to do- just trips to the bank, the grocery store and Target.  I really lose my motivation when it's storming outside though. 

I promised Tim we could go out to dinner tonight.  He had to do a funeral yesterday and the family gave him a token of appreciation. So I'm going to let him splurge a little before I snatch the rest away and put it towards our San Diego trip.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012


The radio station I listen to in the mornings (and pretty much always, but this involves the morning show) was on the subject of regrets this morning.  Did you know that the average person spends almost an hour a week thinking about their regrets?  That's 52 hours a year- over two full days out of every single year.

We all have things we wish we hadn't done.  Or that we wish we had done- or handled differently.  The more time we waste on our regrets, the more time we lose of our lives. 

Can you do anything about it now?  If yes- then do it.  If not, move on!  I realize it doesn't seem that easy, but what is the other option? Spending two days a year for the rest of your life worrying over things you can't or won't change now?

Everything you have experienced, both good and bad, make you who you are and have brought you to this point in your life.  If you are having a rough time, you are learning, you are toughening up, you are forging a new part of yourself.

Don't waste so much of your life thinking about what could have been, should have been.  Appreciate the lessons you've learned the hard way and pick up, move on! There are bigger and better things always around the corner, if we can just see them.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Talking to Cats

This is a conversation I had with my needy cats this morning:

"Boo.  Stop."
*twine around my legs, twine around my legs, try to do a handstand on my foot to simulate being petted.*
"Boo- STOP."
*run three steps away, look offended, come back immediately and start doing it again.*
I look down at him, disappointed that he is still trying to kill me while I get ready for work.
I sit down on the couch to put on shoes, he immediately takes this as a sign of weakness and brushes his black body back and forth across my legs.  Toby jiggles his way across the room and starts attacking my shoelaces as they flop around, clearly simulating some kind of flat, wormlike prey he would kill in the great outdoors...if he had ever been outside.

"Boys.  STOP."
I stand up.  Boo immediately runs over, flops on his belly and gives me his most come-hither stare."Boo, I love you, you needy bastard."
"Toby, ok, you're a needy bastard too!"
*Toby jiggles away, satisfied*.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Garlic Cheese Biscuits

    You'll Need:
      2 cups of Bisquick
      2/3 cup of milk  
     1/2 cup of cheese 
     1 TBSP of margarine 
     1/4 tsp. Garlic Salt

Heat your oven to 450.

Stir Bisquick mix, milk and cheese until soft dough forms. Drop your dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (I use a regular spoonful per biscuit, which made me 13 this last time).

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Stir together butter and garlic powder; brush over warm biscuits. I like to let the butter sit on the oven while the biscuits are baking- it makes the butter nice and soft!


Thursday, February 23, 2012


I just found a fun website:  Sprout Robot! You go on to the website and type in your zip code and it will tell you when to plant and what to plant!

This is a fantastic resource for planting!  You can purchase a package of seeds more cheaply than starter plants at the nursery.  However, if you have a "black thumb" or you don't think you can keep up with seedlings, then just use the website to learn when to transfer your plants outside. 

You don't have to start your seeds in special, expensive containers.  Anything will do- last year I cut down "Simply Orange" orange juice containers and started corn in those! It worked out perfectly well and was no extra cost for me, since I wanted the orange juice anyway.

By the way- Sprout Robot will also give you information on HOW to plant your seeds and the best way to get your garden going! Exciting!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

$1000 Challenge Update

Here is an update on my $1000 in "found money" Challenge!

- $15 check from a Kellogg Class Action Lawsuit Settlement, revolving around having purchased Rice Krispies.

- $9.99 rebate check from Hill's Science Diet Ideal Balance Dog Food purchase.

- $8.00 from Beezag.

2/08- $3.00 Survey Payment

2/09- $3.00 Survey Payment

02/15- $3.00 Survey Payment

02/21- $10.00 Survey Payment

02/21- $3.00 Survey Payment

My total comes to: $589.94/$1000

It's going to be so exciting to see it flip to $600! I am still waiting on a few payments/checks that should be arriving in the next few weeks.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Can you really? Part IV

Can you believe we're to Part IV of the how to save money on your grocery bill series?  I can't!

See Can you really Part I here , Part II , and Part III here!

Dilute your juice:  Plenty of folks I know water down their juice (or even their milk).  Most say the kids can't tell the difference and it stretches it out even farther.  With this one, I suggest doing it a little at a time until you find a happy medium.  It might only stretch out an extra cup for some or it might double the amount others get out of the jug, but every little bit helps!  As far as diluting your milk, I've been told that buying a gallon of whole milk, splitting it in half and filling both containers up with water 2/3 of the way full makes your own skim milk.  Tim refuses to try this. I kind of don't blame him.

Make Your Own:  This goes for a ton of things.  Rather than buying a $10 cake at Walmart, buy a box of cake mix and icing and just make your own. It's much cheaper and frankly, it's going to taste way better.  You can also make your own yogurt, bread, etc.   It all depends on how much time you have and how much effort you want to put in to it. Some people just do not have time to go out and make their own cheese.  Some people (like me) don't want to make our own cheese.

Needs before Wants: There is a fun southern saying- "Put your wants in one hand and poop in the other- see which one fills up faster."  Gross, but it makes sense.  Wants aren't Needs and the sooner everyone figures that out, the more you save money.  Just because I want to buy a $8 package of beef jerky does not mean that goes on the grocery list every single trip.  What do you actually need to buy?  How much money can you save by practicing just a little self control?  It's probably more than you think.

Learn about Expiration Dates and Use by Dates: Don't forget- there is a difference in "Best By" dates and "Expiration" dates. Properly stored, food can last beyond the expiration date even. I love the website  It helps me judge how long things can be safely used.  I have some salad dressing in my stockpile that's best by date was in November 2011. However, it's been unopened and stored in a dark, cool, dry place. It can be safely used pretty much until November 2012. Once I open it, I plan on using it very quickly (as a marinade for chicken I'll toss in the freezer, etc).  If there is any doubt, throw it out! You don't want a hospital bill trying to save a $2.00 bottle of dressing. However, if an open bottle of dressing is three days past the expiration date, you're pretty safe as long as you've kept it in the fridge, closed.

Frugal Menus: We'd all love to eat expensive, fancy meals every night.  I know I would! However, being frugal with your menus can allow you to stretch your budget farther than you'd think.  Hot Dogs are a cheap meal.  Grilled cheese sandwiches and a bowl of soup can really hit the spot, even if it isn't fancy.  Homemade waffles with eggs and bacon- it's an IHOP worthy meal for a fraction of the price.   Check out the thousands of cheap meal websites out there to get great ideas on eating inexpensively. Even if you replace one meal a week with a good old fasioned "el cheapo" meal, you're saving money.

Invest in Gadgets:  Do you love popcorn? I do.  For Christmas Tim bought me an air-popper. It was inexpensive, $20 or so, but it allows me to purchase bags of popcorn kernels.  I am able to eat healthier popcorn much more cheaply.   You can invest in a quality dehydrator to make your own jerky, fruit chips, veggie chips, etc. Just make sure you will get enough use out of the product to justify the start up cost!  I've already made my money back on my air popper and then some!

Bulk Stores: If you can, borrow a friend's card or go shopping with friends or family.  Don't buy a membership unless you don't know anyone that has one.  Before you join, look around and check out the prices.  Will you be able to save enough that you save over the membership fee? If not, pass!  We bought a membership to BJs for several reasons.  1.) You can use coupons.  2.) Their gas is the cheapest around. 3.) It was for 14 months, not 12 as a special promotion.  4.) 100% satisfaction guaranteed.   If on the very last day before my membership expires, I go in and tell them I didn't get enough use out of the membership, I get 100% of my membership fee back.  I will only do this if I truly feel like it wasn't worth it.  I offer my card to all friends and family who want to shop there without a membership.   It may have to be when I am able to go, not necessarily when they get to go, but it's a little inconvenience for them to get greater savings.

So there you have it!  So what do you think- can you save a few bucks every week on your grocery bill?


Monday, February 20, 2012

Snowpocalypse 2012

On Saturday, I was outside in a t-shirt and shorts.

On Sunday, we were accumulating snow.  Fairly decent amounts of snow, considering how unseasonably warm it has been this winter. Beautifully, wonderfully warm.

It makes the low temperatures even more painful.

River is enjoying her first ever snow. I would have loved to have been able to share a few pictures, but since she is incapable of not running around like she has lost her mind- they were all super blurry and awful.

Picture of me? No... no I don't think so.
Today, all the snow is gone.  Well not all of it- there is a little still on the deck and in the shadow of the garage.  Other than that, the yard is just one big squelchy mess.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Can you really? Part III

See Can you really Part I here and Part II here!

Do you have a friend or family member that hunts or likes to fish? If so, see if they will be willing to hunt for you.  I offered to pay the processing on a deer if my Dad would shoot one for me while he was out hunting.  Since he loves to hunt and doesn't need a ridiculous amount of meat, this works out well for him.  He can continue to look for a trophy buck, meanwhile I get a freezer full of meat for under $3/lb.   On a side note, this is yet another thing I love about my Dad- he won't shoot it if he won't eat it, or doesn't have an outlet for the meat.  We both win!  

Barter:  If you have a ton of garden produce (because, you know, you're growing your own to save money), look in to barter opportunities! How great would it be to trade a basket of your excess tomatoes for a basket of peppers or some farm fresh eggs?  Folks are always looking to trade.

Skimp on the Meat: Maybe Meatless Meals aren't your cup of tea.  Rather than using a pound of meat in your spaghetti sauce, use three quarters of a pound or even a half pound.  I have also found making smaller meatballs, meat patties, etc encourages you to eat less, meaning either you can have leftovers or stretch less meat farther.

Creative Cutting: When you get large chicken breasts, try butterflying them.  We recently got three very good sized pieces of chicken out of one single large chicken breast!  It was enough for both of us to have more than enough for chicken parmesan for lunch, with one leftover to take to work the next day for lunch.  Since we also bought the package of chicken on markdown, it stretched our dollars even farther.

Eat your leftovers: Honestly, this one is so simple I almost didn't put it on the list.  Riddle me this- which is cheaper, buying a $3 Lean Cuisine for Lunch or taking your leftover spaghetti from the night before?  Right- the leftovers!

Limit Soft Drinks:  Tim was drinking a 2-liter of Coke daily. Well, he wasn't drinking it all. Quite a bit got tossed out when the ice melted and it became watery and "gross".  At $1.25 a 2-liter on sale, that got to be quite an expensive habit- to the tune of almost $40 a month.  Remember, that's when I could find it on sale!  Rather than drinking soft drinks all the time, try to limit it to only one meal a day.  It's just healthier for you.  Otherwise try to really stock up on it during sales and drink out of smaller glasses to minimize how much is wasted.

Check the price per ounce:  Generic doesn't always mean it's cheaper!  Be sure to utilize the price per ounce/pound/etc tags on shelves to make sure you are really getting the best deal.  This one saves pennies, not dollars- but pennies become dollars!

Eat cheaper cuts of meat:  This one I generally can not do.  I only eat chicken breasts, even though often chicken thighs are much cheaper.  I do prefer sirloins though, which thankfully tend to be the cheaper steak.  If your family doesn't care one way or the other, why not purchase the cheaper meat?

Keep an eye out for Part IV! 


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guess what I'm getting?


I had planned on getting some last summer, but unfortunately things didn't work out.  However, I have recently decided to get bantams instead.  I will be keeping 4-6 bantam hens.  My plan is to convert one of the 3-hole rabbit stackers to make chicken stackers instead.  The girls will be paired up and stay in the cages when we're not home or at night.

During the day when we are home, they will have the use of roomy "chicken tractors" to play in the sunshine and in the grass.  I also want to turn them loose in the garden plot and let them go to town there!

I am looking forward to getting eggs from the girls.  While bantam chickens don't lay as well as larger chickens, they are going to be easier to keep and tend.  I think the smaller eggs will be beneficial for us as well, as I don't run through dozens of eggs each week- so using 2 eggs to make up one large is not going to be a hardship.

I had to order 25 chicks, so I am going to be selling off excess.  Luckily, I don't think that will be a problem at all.

They are going to ship out on February 22nd! I expect them on the 23rd, which gives me time to get everything set up, thankfully!

Be prepared to be bombarded with pictures! My Homesteading dream is slowly coming true, hehe.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Can you really? Part II

See Part I of "Can you really?" here.

Stock up on dry essentials when they go on sale.  Does your household eat rice twice a week without fail?  When you see a really good sale price on rice, don't be afraid to grab enough for a month or two (or longer), rather than just enough for dinner that week. Yes, you may spend a little extra on that week's food budget (or you may not, depending on how great the sale is), but you'll save money in the long run.  Every time you are able to grab a box of rice out of the pantry, rather than paying full price for it, you save!  I do this with: mustard, spaghetti sauce, spaghetti noodles, macaroni and cheese, boxed mashed potatoes, ketchup, salad dressing, shredded cheese (in the freezer), etc.  Not to mention the health and beauty care items I stock up on for free- that doesn't really come in to this discussion.

Buy in Season: I love love love strawberries.  However, I only eat them in season. Part of that is because I find out of season strawberries disgusting.  They are either green and hard or mushy and half rotten.  Gross.  However, strawberries out of season are expensive! I prefer to buy them in season and freeze the extras.  Frozen fruit (in the case of berries especially) are just as good when unfrozen as they were fresh. I actually don't mind partially frozen strawberries as a snack.  Yum.

Pick Your Own: Since we're buying in season, check out the prices of Pick Your Own places.  It's fun, especially for kids, to pick their own food and you can save per pound on favorite treats.  Just be careful, it is so easy to go way overboard! That's where freezing your excess comes in handy.

Gleaning: Does your aunt have a pecan tree she never pays attention to?  Ask her if you can gather from the tree.  Some farmers will let you come in and glean after their crops have been commercially harvested.  Gleaning an apple orchard can produce excellent apple pies, homemade apple sauce or just snacking apples. It never hurts to ask around or even post on websites like craigslist to see if there is a benevolent farmer or family friend that would rather see you make use of the leftovers than leave them to the wild animals.  Again, this can be very fun for kids.  I remember joyfully gleaning persimmons and pecans from the yard of a family friend when I was little.  It didn't matter that I do not like persimmons.  I just enjoyed the experience.

I may have been an odd child.

Make a fruit salad:  Mix more expensive fruits in with less expensive fruits (think bananas) to great a fruit salad. That way you get your absolute favorites, but you also don't break the bank and you have a filling snack.

Portion control:  Remember that I love strawberries?  I can easily sit around and eat an entire package of strawberries.  Do I need an entire package? NO!  In fact, it's mostly mindless snacking.  Yes it's healthy, but it's still mindless. If I do that in the dead of winter, it's very expensive mindless snacking.  Setting up reasonable portion sizes can help stretch everything from fruit to cheese doodles.  It also helps you not stretch your pants size.

Keep an eye out for Part III!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Couponing Brag!

Here is a couponing brag!

I bought everything in the picture for $1.33.  Got back $7.00 in ECBs from CVS and will be submitting the receipt for a $5 Mail in Rebate!

I used 4- BOGO coupons for the Speedstick, which was on sale for $1.99.  For whatever reason, the coupon automatically took $3.99 (the max value) off.  CVS is aware of this oddity and doesn't fix it- I was very surprised! I bought over $15 worth of Speedstick/Mennen products, so I got $5.00 ECBs

The toothpaste was on clearance for $1.94.  I used a $0.75/1 coupon.

We use 1 ECB from a previous week.

So there we have it! Subtotal was $0.19, I paid $1.14 in tax and voila!  A VERY good deal!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Can you really? Part I

On a forum I am a part of, someone recently asked "Can you really feed a family of 4 on $100 or less a week?"

She has an athletic family- two teens who both participate in sports and eat a lot.  She cooks nightly and in fact, her son prefers to eat fruit over junk food.  As we all know though, the healthier you eat, the more expensive your food bill runs.

There are a lot of ways to trim the fat on your food budget.  Even though there is only Tim and &, we often spend only $30 a week or so on groceries.  That's not eating hot pockets or frozen pizza every night either.  I'm going to do a series on trimming your food budget with tips that may or may not be helpful to you.  You don't have to do all of these- there are tips I've shared that I certainly don't do myself.  Hopefully everyone can find a few little things they can do that will help. 

Make a Shopping List: Making a shopping list before you go will help minimize impulse purchases.  Plus, you won't buy something for full price, then get home and realize you already have it!

Use Coupons:  This one is self-explanatory.  If you made your shopping list, look to see if there are any coupons on your favorite brands.  There are tons of coupon databases out there that can help.

Price matching and shopping around for the best prices are a great way to shave dollars off your bill.  If Aldi has grapes on sale for $0.50 a pound, why pay $1.50 a pound at Walmart?  Take in the ad to price match, or else just purchase them at Aldi.

Meatless Meals are a great way to save money, since often meat is the most expensive thing you will buy at the grocery store.  I love making spaghetti and just topping it with a little cheese and regular spaghetti sauce.  No meatballs, no chicken parmesan, etc. Even if you do this just every other time, you're saving around $4 on beef alone (considering a high quality ground beef is around $4/lb now)!

Buy meat on markdown: There is nothing wrong with the chicken marked with a sell-by date that is close.  In fact, the chicken can sit in your fridge a couple days past expiration without problem.  Simply buy the meat (as long as it looks fine.  I have seen some nasty looking beef at a local Grocery store before- avoid that) and use it quickly, or repackage it and pop it in the freezer.

Shop the Farmer's Market:  The local Farmer's market has ridiculously good prices when fruits and vegetables are in season.  If you don't want to grow your own, consider purchasing them here.

Grow and Preserve your own vegetables.  A garden is a very simple way to save a lot of money.  Does your family member love cucumbers? Plant a few plants, then sit back and reap the benefits all summer!  I flash freeze peppers and can my own salsa and tomatoes every year.  Yes, it takes a little bit of work, but when Tim wants chili in the dead of winter, I have on hand ingredients that cost less than pennies to make it for him.  Compare that to paying $3.00 for a single green pepper out of season and you'll be amazed at how fast your savings build.

Keep an eye out for Part II of this series soon!


Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Dog is Smarter Than I Am.

River was being particularly obnoxious, chewing on Bear's head while he sat beside of me on the couch.

"Go get your"

While I was desperately trying to figure out the word for that new pink, birdlike toy that she is currently in love with, I noticed Dixie tearing through the house.

Before I could finally figure out what in the hell that bird's name is, Dixie appears, holding this:

No worries! I got it!

Yeah.  It's the penguin toy. She picked it out of the 15 stuffed toys scattered through out the house.  It's not even her favorite toy.  It's River's.
Totally disgusting.
Before today, Dixie was kind of what I'd call... well... a doofus.  When I saw her go running off, I figured she was simply headed off to grab any toy she could find so I'd toss it for her.  In fact- right now she just got caught licking River's butt.  Is that an act of an intelligent dog? No.

And yet... she got the penguin.

This is the pink whatchamacallit that showcased Dixie's hidden genius.
Could she do it again? I don't know.  Probably not, but then again, I didn't think she could have done it the first time.  Regardless, she managed to pick the exact toy I told River to get by, listening to a word I've never taught her.

Meanwhile, I couldn't remember... Oh! Flamingo.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Positive Reflections

I was reading an article in a magazine recently- it was five tips to making your mood more positive.

The number one idea in this article was this:  Every night before bed, take ten minutes or so and think of three positive outcomes from the day.

I thought to myself "Ok, I am going to give this a shot."
Some days it is very easy.  For instance, this past Sunday was "Duke lost, I won a free Papa John's Pizza and drink, the Giants won the Super Bowl."  They aren't anything earth shattering and in fact, they are pretty superficial.  However, these were three things that made me happy, even if it was just a little bit. Three positive things in a day where I mostly just lounged around lazily.  Where the alarm didn't wake me up when it was supposed to, where the coupons weren't great, where it was cold outside- these were the three things I chose to focus on.

Some days they are much more personal- Tim's Granny Irene is no longer on Death's doorstep.  Some days it's much more about money- receiving an unexpected check in the mail or getting a free Chicken Sandwich from Chick-fil-a.  It doesn't matter what it is.

The point is just to focus on three things that made you happy or just plain made you feel good.  A recipe being a success is just as positive as teaching your dog a new trick or getting a phone call from a friend you haven't heard from in a while.

It helps me focus on the good things before bed and if I have more than three positive outcomes, I revel in reminding myself of all five positive things. Or all ten.  Or all twenty.

However, it seems that every day has at least three good things that happen, no matter how small or insignificant they seem at the time.  So give it a try.  Take some time right before bed to think of what good has happened to you in a day, when it's too easy to focus on what went wrong otherwise.

The best positive outcome? I've been worrying less and sleeping better.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Or if you're in the South- Coke Cake.  Soft Drink Cake?  Never Pop Cake down here though- never.

This one is super easy.  It's a good way to cut some of the calories and fat out of your cake recipes.

You'll Need:
1 can of Sprite (or Sprite Zero)
1 box of White/Yellow/Light Colored cake mix.

That's it.  Mix the Sprite and the Cake Mix together, bake like your normally would.  Be warned these cakes/cupcakes don't get that beautiful browning that regular cakes do, but that's ok.  Just insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, you're fine!

If you want to make a dark cake, like Chocolate, use a dark soft drink, like Coke.

It's really super easy.

Here are some fun suggestions for "mixing it up" a little and playing with your flavorings:

Cream Soda and White Cake
Cherry Coke and Chocolate Cake
Ginger Ale and White Cake
Coke Vanilla and Chocolate Cake
Orange Soda and White Cake
Sprite and Yellow Cake
Root Beer and Chocolate Cake

Really- the sky is the limit! You can do anything you want to do.

I love to make cupcakes because you can use 1 tbsp of regular frosting (serving size is two tbsps).  That also helps keep your fat and calories down!

These definitely taste better on Day 2, isn't it odd how some cakes need to "age" a little?


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super Bowl Saturday Shopping

Well, I made a mistake.  I tried to go out shopping for non-essential items on the Saturday before the Super Bowl.

Good Lord...people are crazy!

Everywhere we went, people were stocking up on party items.  People who have never made shopping lists in their lives were walking around with a pad of paper two inches from their noses, bowling over other shoppers who were doing the same thing.

I saw three people purchasing big new TVs.

Luckily, we were able to get everything we needed with only a general amount of irritation.  I only had to cuss two people.  Oddly enough it was because both were trying to run us over in the parking lot. *sigh*.

At Target, one of my coupons for $1.00 off was scanned twice, which I didn't notice until we got to the car and I was reviewing the receipt. No, I didn't go back in and correct the mistake.  I figure it evens out from the last shopping trip, when they cheated me out of $0.75 and the various trips where I don't get my 5 cents off the total for bringing my own bag.

I took advantage of the Michael's $5/$5 coupon (good only Friday and Saturday) to stock up on yarn and to also buy a small cake pan.  It is one coupon per customer, per day, so I went both Friday and Saturday and dragged Tim along too.  Not bad, to get $25 worth of stuff for $5, including tax.

I got a lot of good deals today thanks to my coupons.  I think when Tim and I are ready to upgrade to a better TV, I'll try to get one around the Super Bowl- there were some pretty good deals out and about!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"You're not as smart as you think you are."

The year was 1993. I was in third grade and it was winter time- January or February.

I'd spent the early part of the year getting in trouble.  I talked- a lot.  My teacher, Mrs. F, despised me.  It's not good when as a small child you can tell that an adult really doesn't like you.  All the signs were there though- she took the side of every other child against me.  I was sent to the round table for telling a girl to "Shut up", when she said it to me three times first.

I hold grudges.
Anyway, I remember about half the class was told to come up to the front of the room.  Of course I was one of the ones sent to the front- I volunteered a lot.  We were each handed a large card with a word on it.  Mine was "Whip".  We were to match ourselves up in pairs, creating larger words.

"All right" I thought, "This is going to be easy! Whip Cream!"  Yes, I know it's Whipped Cream. Seven year old me had no idea.  Don't even get me started on "Napoleon Ice Cream".

A quick search of the words and I realized this wasn't going to be quite so easy.  There were no other words that fit with "Whip".  Slowly the other children paired up and returned to their seats.  Soon it was just myself and a kid named Will.  Will had a card with two other words on it.  "Poor Will."  I thought that was interesting, since his name was Will and all.  He was hardly the brightest crayon in the box, but a nice kid in general.

I came to the brilliant conclusion that "Whip" must have been a last name.  So we lined up.  "Poor Will Whip."

"No!" Mrs. F. triumphantly thundered.  Her glee was honestly palpable.  We rearranged and our cards spelled out "Whip Poor Will".  I thought it was kind of unfair.  First we call Will poor, then we whip him? 

Mrs. F. finally confirmed our word was correct.

I don't remember saying anything, but I clearly must have said "oh, that one was hard!" or something similar.

Mrs. F's eyes lit up and she informed me "I gave you a harder one.  I wanted to prove to you that you're not as smart as you think you are."

Wow.  How pathetic is it when a 60+ year old woman engages in a battle of wits with a 7 year old? The rest of the class laughed of course and we were sent back to our seats.

I got the last laugh though.  Mrs. F. eventually decided on a parent-teacher conference. Why? I honestly do not know.  My parents pumped me relentlessly for information- what had I done? Was there anything else I wanted to tell them before we all went in to sit down?  I shook my head- no, I really didn't know what I had done.  Other than telling Candice to shut up and being sent to the round table.  Oh, and I talked a lot.  They were used to seeing that little tidbit on every report card from Kindergarten on up, so that was no great shock to them.

I let my mind wander a lot during the conference, but I do remember my Dad's face at one point becoming as dark as a thunder cloud.

"You mean you're punishing her because she answers too often, too quickly?  Because the answers she gives you are right?  Why didn't you just ask her to slow down?"  They talked a little more and then he turned to me and said "You answer the questions in class too fast.  Can you let some of the other kids answer sometimes?"  I nodded and they moved on.

It was a glorious day. Mrs. F. definitely got an earful on the way I was being treated in class (that the stupid woman admitted to herself).   She had to keep her dislike of me a little more under wraps after this meeting as well.  I had learned that good teachers do not tell 7 year olds how they want to bring them down a notch.  I had also learned that more behavior like that was to be reported to my parents.

So... to Mrs. F.- the woman who taught me I would never be a teacher unless I loved teaching, because otherwise you became a miserable old piece of baggage that picked on small children...

I'm still probably not as smart as I think I am- but you also didn't succeed in destroying any self-esteem I had, nor did you kill my love of learning.  I win.