What, Sissy, No Wally?

So, last year I made some sort of “Goals.”

Two to be exact.

Goal 1: More self reliant children

Goal 2: Save money with M’ah coupons!

I bet you’ve just been DYING to know what happened! 


Well, Goal 1 with the kids was something that was a forced action.

The Ranger injured his back in May, and spent the entire summer in bed.

Isn’t this the sweetest photo! (Dear, Ranger,I hope you don’t divorce me for sharing it!)


We are still traveling the road to recovery. It has been bumpy, but we are persevering!

However, over the summer, the girls took on a lot of responsibility.

They fetched and carried for their Daddy. 

They fixed their own breakfast and lunch while I was at work.

They tried NOT to kill each other.

Baby is now the gourmet toast maker in the family.


She cooks it gangsta style!

Her specialty is cinnamon and sugar toast, macaroni and cheese and Spaghettio’s.

Big is a hot dog, microwave pancake, and frozen pretzel connoisseur. 

They both have shown the ability to clean and tidy.

Although, I’ve noticed that them knowing how to do it and doing it are two different things!

Baby is rarely tidy, she takes after me. 

Big is a bit more tidy, however, she HAS to leave a book on the dining room table at all times! Apparently one cannot eat without reading at the same time!

Goal 2 took on a life of it’s own.

My three ring binder and I probably have wanted signs in the stores all over town!

I don’t have an exact figure for my savings for the year, but I saved around $600 at Kroger’s alone. I also have a habit of price matching between WalMart and Kroger’s and then adding my coupons. However, WalMart is not helpful enough to show me my savings and pulling out the calculator got pretty boring. BUT, I estimate that I saved pretty close to $1,000 this year in sales, coupons and bonus points.

My personal Goals for this year are a bit different than last year:

Goal 1: No WalMart.

As most of you know, this is easier said than done! Especially in Middle-of-Nowhere, TN! But the challenge was made by the Ranger.

“I bet you can’t go without shopping at WalMart,” He said.

Game. On.

We had been talking about how we didn’t know where all our salaries had gone. We make decent money, especially since I’m working now. We’re not vacationing in Hawaii (Sorry, Bitty), but we have a house, groceries, food, vehicles, etc. which is more than most. I’m not complaining about what we have. I’m complaining about the fact that I KNOW we make enough to put more into savings than we are. 

His response was that it went to WalMart. Their marketers are great! I mean really, how many of us run in for just one or two things and leave an hour later after spending a hundred bucks?

Just me?


I’m on a mission to A.) prove my dear, sweet husband wrong, and B.) save money while doing it!

So, we’re halfway through January and I haven’t been to WalMart. It calls for more planning on my part, but I’ve stopped thinking, “I’m just going to run into WalMart for this one thing!”

Now Goal 2 is purely selfish. 

I admit it.

Goal 2 involves something I rarely get to do in person.

NO! It is NOT exercise! I exercise plenty! 

It is to spend time in the same physical location as my Sissy.

I miss my Sissy.

Darn, I’m crying.

My Sissy came for a week last Summer.

We went to WalMart. 

We went to lunch.

We went to the Container Store. (we LOVE the Container Store!)

She explained to Big about bratty Baby Sissy’s.

We giggled, we guffawed, we gabbed.

It was all good.

Then she went home, and I miss her.

So, my goals are for me this year and not necessarily for the whole family – 1. prove the Ranger wrong and 2. go see my Sissy. Pretty simple-ish. Maybe.






Big is a trumpet player – she blows horn.

She listens to music and you can watch her fingers hit invisible trumpet keys on her other hand.

The channel she begs for on the car radio is 1940’s music.

She falls asleep to Dizzy Gillespie, Satchmo, and sometimes Doc.

She has seen Doc Severinsen in person.

The highlight of year was getting to speak to Doc after his concert.

The Ranger took her.

He didn’t get a picture.

The Ranger ordered her first trumpet when she was six months old.

He had high hopes.

When Big started band last year (6th grade) we held our breath.

We’ve tried to be open about instrument choices.

She thought about the oboe, clarinet, flute and trombone before she settled on the trumpet.

She could probably have played any of them, but she has a passion for the trumpet.

Big has to work at it, but she is getting better. She no longer sounds like a sick caribou!

This year she is stretching her blowing skills.  This year she tried out for All West Jr. Band.

Her band teacher told us that she would probably put in hours and hours of practice, but would be unlikely to make it.

Her teacher wasn’t being mean. She’s very nice!

Her teacher wasn’t telling us that Big lacked the ability. She is very supportive!

Her teacher was being realistic. The reality is that All West Jr. Band is made up of middle school students from the Western half of Tennessee. There are hundreds of students auditioning for a limited number of seats. Most students who pass the audition are in the 8th and 9th grade. They have more years of practice behind them. They have the experience of auditioning and not making it behind them.

The decision to try out for All West was Big’s.

She has band class five days a week. She went to more after school practices than I can count!

She walked around breathing through a plastic tube (kind of like a scuba diver) for the last week!

But it hasn’t been all unicorns and rainbows.

Big is at the age of drama! Very little comes without some drama of some sort. This was no exception!

The girl growled! She sobbed! She screamed and threw tantrums!

Over an A-flat. Over an E-scale. Over the unfairness of the chromatic scale! Over a trumpet that just doesn’t play right!

It got to a point that we considered withdrawing her. (Sometimes things just aren’t worth the drama and we like to choose our battles)

Big is all about being the best, perfect, WINNING! (Surprisingly, she’s not an athlete). And, All West was not something she was going to be the best at.

“What is the point of doing this if I’m not going to get in?!” she growled at me one night.

My explanation, “Sometimes it isn’t about winning or being the best. Sometimes it’s about just doing, the experience of it.”

She looked doubtful.

She went through with it.

I’m so proud of her!

I thought she was going to puke! (Everybody should experience being so nervous they think they’re going to hurl at least once in their life)

We drove the two hours to the audition site. We were early.

She warmed up and practiced for over an hour before it was her turn.

All West

At one point I thought she was going to make a run for the door! I could see her chin wobble, she was close to tears, and she looked ready to bolt!

I took her hands in mine, made her look me in the eye and told her, “Nothing that happens in that room will determine how your life turns out. It is a room, with people behind a screen, who are going to listen to you play your music.”

It must have inspired her, because she nodded, grabbed her music and said, “Let’s go.”

We checked in, and I watched her turn the corner toward the rooms where the auditions were being held. I could finally let MY nerves go!

Would she hit those high notes that give her grief? Would she remember her scales?

Would her trumpet “stop playing?”

Ten minutes later she was back, visibly relaxed.

“How did it go?” I asked.

“I did AWESOME, Mom! I played everything they asked, I hit all my tones and notes, I’m really happy with how I did even though I really don’t think I made the band.” she answered with a huge grin on her face.

Earlier in the day I had asked her what her greatest fear was, her answer, “Not playing as well as I know I can and them kicking me out before I’m done.” I then asked her if she was going to be upset if she didn’t make it into the band (I wanted to be prepared) and her reply surprised me, “No way! Do you know how many extra practices you have to do for that!” So, it was the best of both worlds for her – on one hand she wanted to play well, on the other hand she really didn’t want to be in the All West Jr. Band. (Sorry Ms. Presson!)

She may not realize the benefit of this experience yet, but someday I hope she looks back and thinks about how she undertook an “impossible” task and saw it through knowing that her best may not be good enough – strength & bravery, that she saw it through – integrity, and that she practiced and practiced and practiced until it stuck- perseverence.

Did I mention how proud I am of her?



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