Printer Purgatory

This may very well be taking place in my front yard very soon.

This may very well be taking place in my front yard very soon.

I don’t use consonance for just any reason.  I am really at my wits end these days.  My kingdom for a printer that works right!

I had to get rid of the old Kodak that had a few issues but was fed stuff that it shouldn’t have been fed.  The brilliant work of a toddler.  I don’t remember what exactly was shoved in there but it was certainly akin to putting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a VCR (which is a terrible waste of pb&j if you ask me).  This was the same week that she got a hold of a pen and proceeded to write all over everything in my scrapbooking area.

As it turned out, it was ok timing.  Best Buy had a deal where you could turn in your old printer for credit towards a new one.  So I did, and after hours of painstaking research came home with what I thought was a pretty nifty Kodak ESP 7250.  Wireless, baby.  I could order it to print and have it happen all while laying in my bed.  I’ve never actually done this, by the way.

We coexisted in bliss for awhile before it started having some major problems, and I started going crazy.

Why all the fuss?  Well, for starters, I used to scrapbook like a boss.  I’d churn out pages nightly, all while watching episodes of Bones.  Who knew that David Boreanaz could be so creatively inspiring?  I’m one of those who prints most stuff on my printer, including the pictures.  Partly because of the instant gratification factor, partly because you can’t get all of those different sizes for layouts when you go to Walgreens, and partly because I live nowhere near a place where I can get pictures developed quickly without expending tons of gas.  When my daughter was a wee thing, my husband ordered me to get a Cricut for myself for Christmas, wrap it, and put it under the tree.  My Mom got me the SCAL software the following year, and I was a scrapbooker on crack.

In addition to this, I coupon so we can buy groceries.  You know, stuff to eat besides ketchup sandwiches.  What I can’t find in the newspaper I sometimes am able to find online.  And did I mention that I’m unemployed?  They kind of expect you to have this thing called a resume and cover letter.  Fortunately a lot of this can be done by email, but not everything.  Some places even ask for this on stuff called PAPER!

printer portal

So back to the printer from hell.  If you have a few thousand hours of your life to spare, please buy a Kodak Printer so you can be on the phone with someone whom you can barely understand.  I estimate I’ve spent close to that between the two printers that I have owned.  There’s the online Support as well-a site that rarely has answers that you actually want to hear.  Usually if your printer is having trouble, you’ll spend hours trying to find solutions, only to always come to the same conclusion:

You need a new printhead.

Kodak used to send these out for free.  At least that was worth the thousands of hours trying to print a picture without success.  But now they are going in the toilet, and I just don’t think they care anymore.  So in order to start scrapbooking again without shelling out a ton of dough for ink, I had to pony up the $50 or so for a new printhead.

I pretty much quit scrapbooking about that point.  And this went on for quite some time.   My Mom finally helped me get a new one, but I found the exact printhead I needed on Ebay, about $20 less.  I was excited.  I bought new ink cartridges, I prepared for the arrival of this printhead like some people prepare for the arrival of a new baby.

The day it arrived, it took ten minutes to get it unwrapped, installed, and ready with brand new ink cartridges.  It then took another two hours online lo0king for solutions as to why it didn’t work properly.  It WAS the correct printhead, it just didn’t work any better than the old one.  Then I did an online chat with a support rep.  The end result?  They offered me a new printer.  Oh no, they weren’t going to give it to me.  If I took advantage of this special offer, I could get a brand new one at 30% off.

HOLY COW!  Are you serious????  My old printer isn’t even two years old.  Do they really think I am going to pay over $100 for another one of their printers?  I only paid $50 for the last one, because I am a bargain shopper.  No thank you, I’d rather dropkick the one I have.

Sadly, after trying a few more tricks that I thought I had up my sleeve, I unhooked the printer and laid it to rest.  I saved the ink cartridges, because gosh golly I can at least get Staples rewards points for them.  I felt like I was paying my last respects to an old friend.  One that didn’t treat me all so well.

Then I tried to go on with my life.  I brought in the other printer and hooked it up, my husband’s HP Photosmart that we bought on special when he went back to school.  We did this so I could still scrapbook and he could print papers for school without running me out of ink.  It’s a good printer, but it has an identity crisis.  One of two things typically happens-it either forgets who it is or my computer forgets who it is.

someday my prints will come

Got that?  So now the thousand extra hours that I would be spending dealing with Kodak support is dealing with HP.  I’m either online trying to get the correct software, AGAIN, because you know you have to uninstall and reinstall everything each time it forgets who it is, or I’m standing on a chair putting the wireless password into the printer itself for the zillionth time.  I never thought I’d ever memorize one of those weird passwords, but I know this one by heart.  And it doesn’t take long to run the ink out.  Every year I make calendars for my parents.  This year I was unable to find the blank picture calendars anywhere, so I tried to print the whole calendar pages on the HP.  I ran out of ink halfway through.  Their Christmas present was given to them with this note:  “Get half a year now, get the rest later!”

And of course there was the whole bat cake incident.  Since my computer had forgotten the software, I couldn’t print or copy or do much of anything, including the batman symbol I so desperately needed for my son’s birthday cake.

Enough was enough, I was going to get this all together so I could get my creative life back.  I was going to get that software, make some calendars, and seriously start learning how to use my Adobe Photoshop Elements so I could make some wicked scrapbook pages.  I spent half the day Sunday finding all of the software (again), getting it all ready, even downloading a patch that was supposed to fix all of this nonsense.

Yesterday I tried to print out a recipe.  When I went to print, guess what the program said?  “PRINTER IS OFFLINE”.  The computer knew there was a printer, but the printer did not where it was.

And this, my friends, was when my head exploded.   And it was a mess…

I believe it.

I believe it.

Culinary Adventures With the ADD Mom (I Am NOT Cat Cora)

I’m not that bad of a cook…

I’m a fabulous cook.  Every night my family gathers around the table, anxiously awaiting what culinary delight I’ve prepared.  They gobble it up every night, raving about how delicious it is.

What a load of crap!  You didn’t believe that, did you?

It goes something a little more like this… at 5:35 I realize that it’s suppertime.  If Evil Genius has arrived home, I ask him what sounds good for supper.  He never knows.  I ask him what sounds offensive for supper-sometimes he can actually answer that.  So once I decide on my own what we are having, I spend more time looking to make sure we have the ingredients.  Or even more common, I start making the supper and realize that I’m one or two ingredients short.  THAT always makes the meal all the more awesome.  NOT.

While I’m cooking, I tend to be distracted because this is when the children decide to start to act up.  They jump on furniture, they wrestle on the living room floor, they do everything they are not supposed to do because I am too distracted to notice.  When I do and tell them to stop, they resume.  This pattern of me yelling and them resuming happens about three times until my husband yells and send them both to their rooms.  Because we are really good parents, can you tell?

Once the meal is ready, I put it on the table and the Professor proceeds to make some sort of weird face, if it’s not pizza or something fried.  Princess Ranch Dressing either a) takes three bites and says she’s full or b) eats her food, her brothers food, and is begging for fruit.  My husband eats it regardless, which is good, because someone has to besides me.

“It tastes like FEET!” This could be an actual reaction from my son in my house…

The Professor looks like he has never eaten anything in his life.   We have threatened several times to send him to “Skinny Camp” to put some meat on his bones.  The dog weighs more than he does.  We do not keep him locked in a closet under the stairs and feed him crumbs.  People tell me, “Oh, he’ll eat when he’s hungry.”  This is not true.  He would rather starve than consume such dietary staples such as pasta, rice, most fruits, most vegetables, anything that ends in y, you get the picture…  I’ve seen him go for days hardly consuming a thing.  We leave the house and he’ll make sure he’ll say within earshot of people “Wow, my stomach is rumbling, I’m REALLY hungry.”  I get lots of dirty looks from strangers.  He’s only saying that because we had pasta that day, and he didn’t eat it.  He also consumes food one atom at a time.  He takes teeny weeny itty bitty bites.  He puts microscopic particles of the food on his fork and would take three hours to eat if we didn’t set a time limit.  This is unless it is a breaded meat, some form of fried food, or pizza.  Then it is gone in six seconds.  We have done the “try one bite” route with him when it comes to the 75% of food he doesn’t like.  His reaction is a)  I like it, then doesn’t touch it b)  gags and makes himself throw up or c)  see the picture above.

Back to the actual meal itself.  I actually attempt to spend time planning meals.  I have made a binder with a list of meals that at least 50% of us will eat on any given night.  I took an old picture frame and made a dry-erase dinner menu calendar.  I cut recipes out of magazines.  I print recipes out from the internet.  Did you know that when you do this that it will self destruct when it’s time to find it?  Or get up and run away, only to reappear a month later.  I’ve done the trying to plan meals around sales that are happening that week so I can save money on grocery shopping.  HA HA HA.  That requires thinking that is on levels that I cannot comprehend.  It involves a) hoping the paper with the grocery flyers actually gets to our mailbox on time b)  me actually LOOKING at the grocery store flyers and c)  me actually thinking about what ingredients we need for dishes.  I employ the method of making a list and making sure we just have lots of stuff on hand.  Until we need it.  Somehow it seems to disappear if I’m counting on it for a meal that week.

Princess Ranch Dressing is much more of a healthy eater than her brother.  At times she would be what would be called an “Adventurous Eater”.  She has actually eaten raw potatoes as well as taken bites of things such as raw onions and hot peppers.  I prefer to call her a “Moody Eater”.  It all depends on what mood she is in.  When her brother is requesting chicken nuggets and potato chips, she prefers carrots and ranch, sliced apples, celery, etc.  Now the vegetables must be accompanied by ranch.  Lots of ranch.  The kid is obsessed with ranch dressing.  However, as I’ve mentioned, she cannot always be counted on to finish anything she’s given.  There have been many days where she has taken one bite of each thing on her plate and announced she’s done.

My husband has been referred to as “The Cast Iron Stomach” in the past, though I think getting older has caught up with him somewhat.  He has been known to eat pretty much anything.  He says I’m a pretty good cook.  He is an amazing cook, because unlike me he’s not afraid to throw stuff together.  I follow recipes, he follows his taste buds.  Must have something to do with being an Evil Genius.  He has actually mocked me for requesting that he follow a recipe from time to time.  Or measure stuff out.  I also call him “Aluminum Chef”-we’ve watched a lot of “Iron Chef America” in our day.  He could easily be a chef.  It’s sickening.  It’s also not too often that he cooks-often on the weekend I just tell him he’s in charge of dinner.  And sometimes it even materializes if there’s not something interesting going on, like a “Double Experience Weekend” on City of Heroes or “Iron Man” on TV.  I can’t talk, because I’m likely to be distracted from making supper until I’m too hungry to cook.

This hasn’t happened because he doesn’t like pancakes. But he could do it…

After dinner, I am responsible for cleaning up and washing dishes.  This sometimes happens.  If we happen to be watching something like NASCAR, it might get put off.  You know only skipping dishes one night makes the number of dishes in the sink triple?  And being ADD, I tend to miss really important stuff, like leaving the bag of shredded cheese on the counter until the next day.  Or forgetting to put the leftovers in the pan on the stove away.  Or forgetting to check to make sure my son actually closed the lid of the freezer downstairs.  Sometimes I try to make cleanup easier by serving stuff on paper plates.  This works with the kids, but my husband has some sort of aversion to paper plates.  He just won’t use them.  Silly, silly man.

My culinary skills have improved significantly since I married my husband.  I’ve never been one who loves to cook.  Despite efforts by my Mom to help me become interested in cooking, I just never really tried all that hard.  The microwave is my friend.  I am a Microwave Master.  I could just cook in the microwave every night and be perfectly happy.  However, when money is an issue, you can’t just pop in a microwave dinner for everyone every night. I’ve tried to serve more healthy fare, and I’ve cut down significantly on the processed stuff that we buy and cook.  There are a few exceptions to this-Jack’s Pizzas, bags of chicken patties and nuggets, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  You just can’t recreate that stuff and make it taste the same.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I must be doing ok.  Despite my son’s malnourished appearance, everyone seems to be healthy.  No one has contracted food poisoning from anything I’ve made.  From time to time I actually DO find a recipe that doesn’t vanish when I need it, and it’s liked well enough to be put into the monthly rotation.  We don’t eat the same thing every week.  I only force leftovers upon them once in awhile.  Enjoy it people.  If I had my way about it, I’d eat Lean Cuisines every night and make you guys fend for yourself…

See it could be worse…

All Hail the Used Bread Store

This is not what bread from the outlet actually looks like.

I bought ten loaves of Sara Lee whole wheat bread for six dollars.  SIX DOLLARS.  That’s sixty cents a loaf baby.  Take that, extreme couponers!

But I didn’t use a single coupon… I went to the “Used Bread Store”.

It’s not really used.  We’ve just always called it that.  The bread outlet has long been the little money saving secret of my family.  We’ve always shopped there.  You could say we think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Groan… the best thing about this post is all the awesome pictures that are bread related that I can use!  Not to mention all the bad puns.

We have an outlet in “town” near where we live, and once a month I trek over there and fill a cart full of bread.  Not just regular old sandwich bread.  I buy dinner rolls, hot dog buns, hamburger buns, english muffins, regular bagels, mini bagels, cinnamon raisin bread, and if I’m really lucky the occasional loaf of french bread.  Some months are better than others as far as selection goes, but I always come away with bags full of really healthy stuff for a very reasonable price.  I’ve never spent more than $15 there.  Why is it so cheap?  Because it’s a day or two old.  Oh noooooooooooooo….  trust me, it’s just fine.

Uses for extra bread…

What the heck do you use all that bread for?  Are you making a big batch of stuffing?  No… I put it in my freezer.  Almost all of it, except for one loaf of bread and a package of dinner rolls.  It will last us at least a month.  When you don’t live in town you try to make those trips count.  And for some reason my children can’t behave in that store.  It’s very small, there are just a few aisles, but the minute my daughter gets in there she has to run and run and run.  Occasionally I might get in there a second time in a month.  After all it is right next to Lowes.  What’s not to like about that?  “Honey I need to grab some buns real quick.”  That always gets an odd look for a moment before he realizes I’m talking about his buns.

Nice buns. Bonus points for anyone who knows what movie this is from… my mother and sister are not allowed to comment.

I don’t think I have ever seen a bread outlet mentioned in those articles in magazines that state “Save $1000 on groceries this year.”  “Meals on a Budget.”  “You spend way too much money on groceries.”  Probably because the bread is old, a whole day old.  I’m sorry, I’m not too good to eat day old bread.  I remember when I had to leave my job-I went to meet with one of those free financial counselors.  It was right down the street from the bread store.  He had never heard of it.  Weird.

And I don’t even own a toaster… just a toaster oven. Not as much fun.

I keep toying with the idea of making my own bread.  Some people do it all the time.  There are books dedicated to it.  They say it saves you money.  But SIXTY CENTS A LOAF?  I think it would cost more than that to make it.  I’ll stick to making something bread-like occasionally, like muffins.

So if you want to save some dough-HA HA HA-find out where a bread outlet is in your area and fire up your freezer.  It’s loaves of fun (boooooo…hisssss).

Don’t believe I saw this Harry Potter movie.

The ADD Mom Goes Out… With Children

Yeah, I don't get all dolled up for shoppin at the Walmarts either...

Yeah, I don’t get all dolled up for shoppin at the Walmarts either…

This is second in a series about me when I actually am able to leave my house.  The first one is The ADD Mom Goes Out…Alone.

If I want to do something 99.9% of the time I have to take my children with me.  FYI-they don’t like to leave the house, so most of the time we just stay home.  Sometimes, however, we need things.  Like food.  And when my husband works from early to late and sometimes on the weekends then there is just cause to drag them out of the house.  It goes a little something like this:

Keep in mind there is no such thing as a quick trip out of the house when you have younger children.  There just isn’t.  You must start planning and organizing long before you actually leave the house with the kids.  There is a list to make, there are coupons to find.  Then you must put them in an order that doesn’t have you sorting through them at the checkout.  This usually occurs the night before.

*DISCLAIMER!-I am NOT an extreme couponer.  I have a binder with the little pockets that are even labeled.  It’s empty.  Instead I cram all of the coupons in something that I stick inside the binder.  Then I waste a large amount of time sorting through them, only to find half of them are expired.  When I do actually use a coupon on a deal before the expiration date, I don’t clear off shelves.  This is because a) I’m lucky if there’s more than one thing left, b) my children don’t eat food that is cheap or that  there is usually a coupon for, or c) my cart is already too full of other crap.  Why do I clip coupons???

Once I have the couple of coupons I actually found then there are other things to take into consideration.  You have to take things with you.  You must have:

1)  Something for them to do in the car.  It’s only a 15 minute drive.  But if they have nothing to do they will drive each other crazy.  And me crazy.  With my older child it’s usually his DS.  That drives me crazy in a different way.

2) Something to eat.  Taking them shopping takes a long time.  There must be snacks.  Or I will end up spending a lot of money I don’t want to spend.

3) Something to drink.  You’d think that would go along with something to eat.  But the drinks are consumed pretty much before I pull out of the driveway.

4) Reusable grocery bags.  Did you know you are an evil, terrible person if you use paper or plastic?

So I have my list ready, coupons in the purse, snacks, and drinks.  Now I will go spend a half an hour finding my keys.  Then everyone has to make sure they go to the bathroom.  EVERYONE.  Even if they say they don’t.

Then we leave.  There are usually two to three places involved and it takes 6 hours.  We usually start at Target.

Nothin.  Sup with you?

Nothin. Sup with you?

We get to the stoplight by Target.  I give the warning to stop playing the electronic devices.  We pull in to Target.  I tell my son it’s time to shut off the DS.  My daughter and I get out of the car.  He’s still in there.  Finally he shuts it off and we get almost to the door.  This is where a tantrum will occur.  My son starts telling me that he never wanted to go to Target and he should have just stayed home by himself, or that he hates shopping, or that I am a horrible mother for making him leave the house.  All because he’s really too big to ride in the cart.

Then I have to go back to the car because I left something in it.  Usually the coupons.

Once inside both kids will have to go to the bathroom.  Then we fight over carts.  My son wants the cart two kids can ride in because he doesn’t like to walk, they refer to it as a “kid cart”.  These are the carts that are roughly the size of a school bus.  Extremely hard to steer.  I’m always knocking something over with it.  Once I knocked over a pack of Snapple.  That was quite messy.  Often I give in because I don’t want to listen to my son complain about how I am the worst mother ever.  My daughter will like this arrangement for a couple of minutes, and then wants to get in the “big” part of the cart because why would I want to put groceries in there?  And then when I say no she wants to get into the basket part so she can kick her brother.  And when I say no to that she proceeds to “touch” her brother with various things.

Target carts are so big and cumbersome.  I prefer the ones at HyVee!  So does she because they have PINK racecar carts!

Target carts are so big and cumbersome. I prefer the ones at HyVee! So does she because they have PINK racecar carts!

This is where the bribery portion comes into play.  I tell them if they are good they can pick out something for lunch.  They always want a lunchable.  What is it about kids and lunchables?  I don’t buy them often-so that might have something to do with it.  In the course of the trip I threaten to have them put them back about 15 times.

My daughter always wants to hold things.  If I don’t give her something to hold she’ll grab stuff out of the cart when I’m not looking.  At some point something will fall out of the cart that she is holding and we won’t notice.  Something really important like toothpaste.  She’ll also drop the lunchable about 54 times until I bury it under everything so she can’t get to it.  And I wonder why I’m distracted?

Target has something in the store that disrupts your brainwaves and makes you wander aimlessly for hours.  They remodel those stores frequently so you can’t actually remember where everything is.  And those end aisles:  there’s stuff 15% off!!  It’s very distracting.  Now that they have groceries it’s even worse.  There are always a couple of things they’re out of that makes me have to make an extra stop at some evil place that I loathe like Wal-Mart.  Or I just don’t because I don’t want to take them anywhere else.  Meanwhile, although I have my list I have probably skipped over something REALLY important on it.  Like toilet paper. Did you know it’s possible to lose a giant package of toilet paper out of your cart without even noticing?  It happened to me.  It fell off somewhere in the store and I had to leave the checkout to go find it.

Which brings me to getting to the checkout.  Remember the coupons?  Remember I supposedly put them in order BEFORE going to the store?  They’re still not quite in order, which means that I still miss one or two or can’t find some.  And there is just no good place to sort through them.  Did you know that it’s not possible to go into Target without spending at least $50?  That’s the rule.  Even with coupons.  With two kids you can’t get out of there without spending at least $100.

Oh, and those reusable bags?  It’s almost guaranteed I left them in the trunk of the car.

One of them will have to go to the bathroom at this point.  I’m preaching self control because I really don’t want to go back into the Target bathroom.

Once in the car I dole out the snacks.  Only I’ve forgotten to pack a snack for myself.

Then it’s off to the next store.  Usually Fareway.  By this time it’s been forever and I’m breaking one of the two rules of the grocery store.  Don’t EVER go in there hungry.  The other one?  Don’t ever go when you are PMSing.  Breaking either of these rules yields similar results:  a cart full of stuff that is bad for me that I really don’t need.  Where are the coupons?  But first we have to visit the bathroom because I wouldn’t let them go at Target.  By this time my daughter has asked for 357 things between two stores.  Since I can’t put my son in the cart he keeps wandering off…

She prefers Hy-Vee for the cart selection.  Like this one...

She also prefers Hy-Vee for the little cart selection. Like this one…

Fast forward to the checkout.  It’s an hour past lunchtime-we’ve been in two stores, the kids have thrown at least two tantrums apiece, and it’s taken four hours.

By the time we get home it takes me another hour to get everything put away.  As I do this I see some of the wrong items I’ve picked up-why does Fareway make ALL their store brand cans look the same?? I may or may not realize how many items I’ve forgotten, but I do see all of the extra stuff I bought because I was hungry.  Lunch is (of course) the lunchables for the kids and whatever I can find that’s quick. Crackers for lunch?  Don’t mind if I do!  They’re whole grain so that’s healthy!  Add a fruit cup so I can say I’ve eaten a fruit for the day.  (And that’s the last one because I forgot to put fruit cups on the list…)

Stay tuned for the next part of my series, The ADD Mom Goes Out… With Her Husband.