Sunday, February 17, 2013

Nose to nose

My child is the cutest child on the face of God's green earth.

I know pretty much everyone thinks this about their own child and has no hesitation saying it to others. I know this can get annoying for others to listen to or see countless pictures of said baby on Facebook. But the reality is, someone's child has to be the cutest. It just so happens that my child is that child (with the possible exception of my mother's youngest child).

It's like when you're a celebrity and people are always telling you that they are your biggest fan (this drives me nuts. I can't go anywhere anymore). Well, it probably feels like that to those fans, but even though most of them are wrong, one of them is right! One of them is the biggest fan. Just like my child is the cutest child.

Out of all the cute things he does though, there is one that just melts my heart far and above the others. Sometimes, when I have him on my hip and I am focused on something else, he will lean over gently and put his face right in front of my face, real close, and smile his sweet, pure smile. "Look at me, Dada! Pay attention to me, love me!" ( He can't speak yet, but this is what he is saying).

It really is something remarkable, to know that my attention, my love means so much to another. To be able to make my son happy from my mere presence and attention.

As I thought about this more, it brought to mind a few different and conflicting metaphors for my relationship with God.

In one metaphor, I am the baby and God is the father. Sometimes I feel like God's attention is far from me. I trust in his near presence but it doesn't feel like his loving eye is on me. It's like he is holding me but looking at something else. I know he is there in my head, but my heart isn't connected to that presence. I suppose I should be satisfied with knowing God is near but my heart longs for more. I want to be desired by God, to feel God's eyes looking on me with love and delight. I want to make God smile.

In the other metaphor, God is the baby and I am the father. I have the most precious thing in the world right in front of me, ready to deliver joy and delight into my life, and yet, I am looking at something else, focused on something else. It's not that I am completely neglecting God; I am keeping him right there next to me, but I am not engaging with God. I am not focused on God's desires. And yet, God is leaning over, trying to get my attention. Not even in an angry or whiny way, but in a loving, sweet way, God is putting his face in front of me and saying, "What could be more important? What could bring you more joy?"

I wonder which metaphor describes my relationship with God more. I wonder why it is so difficult to feel God's loving gaze sometimes. I wonder why I allow myself to become distracted with trivialities when the greatest joy I've ever known is unceasingly, gently, lovingly, placing himself nose to nose with me everyday.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Extreme Couponing

I have never seen any of the extreme couponing shows on television because I don't have time in my busy and super important life to waste on cable television. However, I do, apparently, have the time to waste on extreme couponing itself.

Unlike the outrageous cost of cable television, extreme couponing actually saves you money. Perhaps someday I will save enough money through extreme couponing that I will actually be able to afford cable television (okay, you got me: it's not that I'm too important or too busy for cable; it's that I'm too poor). For now though, it is mostly curiosity and frugality that drew me to this alternative lifestyle.

If you aren't familiar with the concept, extreme couponing involves matching store sales up with a store's coupon and a manufacturer's coupon in order to purchase items for little to no cost. There are plenty of websites out there explaining what coupons to use at what stores in order to get the best deals. It takes a few hours of reading through the websites to really get a sense for how it works, but after this initial research, I was armed with a handful of coupons and an optimistic wallet.

My first trip was to good old Walmart. I had four items on the list and based on the research I had done, I was supposed to get them all for free. Unfortunately, I could not find two of the items on the shelves. I picked up the other two items and headed to the checkout. For some reason, the checkout scanner would not accept one of my coupons, but it did accept the other and the coupon actually exceeded the price of the item. It was a weird feeling to have the cashier hand me twenty cents and give me a grocery item. It was only a "savings" of ninety cents and it was matched with some disappointment about the other items, but I must admit, to see the confounded look on the cashier's face as she handed me money, it was pretty worth it.

My big "success" story was at CVS. They also had a "moneymaker" item: A multi-vitamin that I would never purchase if I wasn't getting paid to do it. I also got some sweet coupons for some cosmetics that my wife needed. I got two bottles of the vitamins and one stick of concealer. The price before any sales or coupons: $44.23. The price I paid: $2.34. A total savings of $41.89. Granted, the most expensive items I would have never bought otherwise, but I do actually use the vitamins now and if you take out the price of those vitamins I'm still paying $2.34 for about $13 worth of a product we did actually need.

I feel quite lame admitting this, but it was a bit of a rush doing this. I felt like I was cheating the system or stealing a little bit, even though it was totally legal. So I am going to keep going on this couponing adventure and see where it takes me. Maybe someday they will print a sweet coupon for cable television.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Previously on sethbehindtheseth:

(Fade in on Seth rifling through his clothes closet looking for something to wear. Cue eerie music. Clothes begin attacking Seth. Dramatic fade out and fade into blog title)

In case you don't want to read about it here, I recently created a list of items for my wardrobe based solely on needs. Not in an extreme way, but based on my current lifestyle, what are my legitimate needs if I don't want to smell or be a cartoon character who wears the same thing every day (though, to be fair, cartoon characters typically have a closet full of the same outfit, not just one outfit they wear every day. My apologies Doug Funny).

So instead of writing out my entire wardrobe, I will begin this post with a list of all the items I own that go above and beyond the list I made last post. Ever wonder how I always look so good? Well, me neither, but here goes anyway:

Extra Clothes
-2 suits (3 suits total! Who am I, Donald Trump?)
-2 sports coats
-3 pair dress slacks ("slacks" sound like a women's clothing item so these have to go for sure. but I'm keeping my pants that are actually made for women)
-1 pair dress shoes
-12 pairs dress socks (I swear these things multiply themselves in my top drawer)
-9 ties (I could tie them together and rappel down the front of my house from my bedroom)
-1 pair cord. pants
-1 pair khaki pants
-9 dress shirts (what in the world am I doing with all these dress clothes?)
-1 polo
-7 sweaters (a weakness of mine. who doesn't love a good sweater?)
-3 undershirts
-4 pairs of jeans (including two that would only fit if I were visiting a skate park or 7th grade)
-26 extra t-shirts (the only part of my wardrobe where hard decisions about sentimental items must be made)
- 4 long-sleeve t-shirts
-2 pairs shorts
-1 pair sweatpants
-1 hoodie
-2 pairs athletic shorts
-2.5 pairs athletic socks (darn you mysterious clothes dryer single sock-eating monster!)
-1 toboggan hat (is this the proper use of "toboggan?")
-1 pair gloves

So that's it. Just the "extra" clothes in my wardrobe. The question: Why in the world would I spend the time and trouble of doing this?

Too many clothes is an efficiency problem. Not only am I wasting space in my closet and dresser on clothes I never wear, but I am also complicating the daily decision of what to wear. I read recently that each decision we make in a day causes stress and uses mental energy. It's better to pre-decide as many things as possible in order to free up mental space for the decisions that really matter. The simple reality in terms of clothes is, the less choices I have, the easier it will be to choose. In fact, my plan is to be nerdy enough to have an actual outfit for each day of the workweek. I never have to plan or think about what to wear. I wonder how long it will co-workers to figure out I wear the same thing each Monday, Tuesday, etc?

The real dilemma is, what do I do with all the extra clothes listed above? Give them away? Try to sell them? The frugalite in me wants to keep them in a box in case another article of clothing wears or tears. Hmmm. Anybody want some clothes?