Working Hard for the iPod


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The Goal

Following the Newt Gingrich child labor plan, we have put Sissy to work as a janitor.  Being fairly poor, we felt that it was time for her to abandon her studies and actually start contributing something to the family that would be of use.  COLD HARD CASH.

Shit…I mean…Sissy has started earning an allowance. (NOT child labor.  Really.  Just forget what I said before…*Blink*…*Blink*)

Wifey has picked up a small job cleaning my parent’s office building once a week and Sissy helps her.  For her efforts she receives cash money in the amount of $5 per week.  And by receives I mean that we earmark her money in our bank account so that she doesn’t blow it on useless garbage like candy or cheap toys.  Or annoying dolls/stuffed animals (I’m still pissed at that damn bear.)  So for the last several weeks Sissy has been racking her brain trying to come up with the big-ticket item that she can spend her hard-earned dough on.

Her choice?  An iPhone.

Riiiight.  Like she has people to call.  I think my former students and my children’s grandparents would quickly tire of getting daily calls from a 7-year-old.  That idea received a definitive “NO!”

So we compromised (teaching life lessons, see?  Rock star parenting.) She could purchase an iPod touch with her money if she saved up enough of her earnings.  Sissy got online and researched the costs.  She might be able to find one for as low as $189, depending on sales, and with tax she needs to save around $210.  With the amount she’s already earned she figured that she has to save for about 8 months in order to make her purchase.

Earned so far: $35.  Left to earn: $175.  Weeks until iPod touch purchase: 35.

The countdown has begun.

This Date Sucks…And Rules.

Checking my Twitter feed on our date.

Wifey and I love food. Or to be more accurate, we love good food. We consider ourselves to be “foodies” and so our nicest dates take us to restaurants with Michelin stars and James Beard Award winning chefs. Unfortunately, budget constraints don’t allow Wifey and I to go out very often, certainly not to such high-priced locales. And with four kids under 8, the cost of a babysitter who is brave enough to take the job pretty much zaps our entire date budget. So, despite our yearning for fancy food, most of our dates end up taking us to places that totally suck.

Take last night for example. My parents graciously agreed to keep our offspring for us and we decided to go out for something slightly fancy. We received our tax return this week and decided to use a small portion of it to treat ourselves before spending the rest on things we actually need. We tried to get reservations at two of our favorite restaurants but both were completely booked up. I did manage to score us a reservation at a well-reviewed restaurant but could only get in at 9:00 and we were both too hungry to wait that long and needed to get back by 11 to relieve my parents anyway, so we cancelled and decided on a popular, if slightly less fancy, dinner option.

It was awful. Absolutely disgusting. And expensive to boot. I kept looking around at the other patrons who all seemed to be having the dining experience of their lives and judging them for their lack of sophistication and taste (rude, I know, but it’s true). The restaurant was one of those Brazilian meat-on-a-spear places where they have a salad bar of sides and then constantly bring around a variety of proteins in unholy amounts for you to enjoy. What were we thinking? As people who eat very limited amounts of meat as it is, and as complete and total food snobs, we should have known better. Not only were we disgusted by the clearly canned and ill-prepared veggies, but all of the meats were tough, flavorless, and unevenly prepared. There was hardly anything that I enjoyed about it. And to add insult to injury, both Wifey and I got sick afterward from bad-meat overload. By all accounts, this should have been one of the worst dates ever.

Except that it was awesome. Instead of having our evening ruined by a series of unfortunate events, we relished the opportunity to laugh about it. As we sampled each revolting new addition to our plates, we talked about all of the really GOOD food that we have had, and about how and why this fell short. We discussed, and in some cases mocked (I never claimed to be nice), the people who surrounded us: the manager who clearly loathed her job and was on a mission to make everyone hate their lives just as much as she did; the family sitting next to us who ate without stopping from before we came in until after we left; the man who kept falling asleep at his table, only to wake when a new meat-on-a-stick appeared before him. We took pictures of ourselves eating the disgusting fare, flirted both in person and via Twitter (nauseating our followers, I’m sure), talked about the ways that we are awesome, talked about the ways we want to change and improve, laughed, laughed, and laughed some more.

Maybe our date wasn’t the most romantic one that we’ve ever shared; maybe it didn’t go exactly according to plan; but we managed to make it into just what we needed: some time alone that allowed us to reconnect and remember all of the reasons that we fell in love to begin with (cue the violins). If we had managed to get in to one of the fancy restaurants, we would have spent the evening oohing and aahing over the food and the dining experience itself would have dominated our evening. Instead, we were able to focus on each other.

So the next time your romantic evening doesn’t go exactly as planned, shake it off and relish spending time with your wonderful partner. Because that’s really the point anyway, isn’t it?

Do you have a great “bad date” story? Feel free to tell us about it in the comments section. Praise (and criticism) is also welcome. Have a great week!