Friday, July 26, 2013

Almost "famous"

So this past week I was able to participate in the "Walmart Shopping Cart Challenge".

Through an unlikely chain of events, I heard about this opportunity at work.
A casting agent contacted our marketing director. I don't know if they are friends or what. But my boss's office is across the hall from the marketing director's office, so they are chummy.

Said marketer asked my boss if she had any employees that would be a good fit for this opportunity (Mothers 28-45 years old, not actors or models). "Real Moms" they call it. Apparently there has been a string of commercials like this, but since we don't watch TV, I hadn't seen them!

Anyway, my boss suggested me. I sent in my (very basic) application. The first available date I was the backup mom and was not called in. But this past Tuesday I was the lead mom (but there are 2 lead moms each time they shoot). I was pretty excited. As the date approached and I slowly got more information, I learned that both moms shop, but only one mom is chosen for the commercial.

The premise is- the mom shops at a local grocer competitor, then her items are compared to Walmart prices and the savings are advertised. I was told I could spend up to $250 in groceries and that I would receive a $250 Walmart giftcard for my participation.

So I "pre-shopped" at the competitor store to make my list of items I wanted to purchase while staying in budget. I planned to buy several items I would not usually buy at a grocery only store (like diapers and wipes) and was hoping that would help me be the mom who saved the most and did the commercial.

Then I learned 2 days prior that I could only purchase 40 items. So I re-evaluated my list. Then I learned you can't buy alcohol, cigarettes, prescription drugs or lottery items. No problems there. 

When I met the two producers (one local and one corporate rep from Bentonville) Tuesday morning at Starbucks, I found out that we could not buy store brand items or sold-by-weight items. To be fair, we could buy those items, since we get to keep the groceries. BUT- they would not be countable towards the challenge, because for legal reasons, it must be compared against the EXACT same item at Walmart. So it would still be lovely free groceries, but would not help you "win" against the other mom (of course they did not say that, but I knew).

That threw a wrench in the plans. I had not checked to make sure my selected items were sold at Walmart. I had planned to buy 3 family packs (about $20 each) of meat. Especially since I was trying to get as close to $250 as possible but with 40 items or less. Unfortunately they could not go by price per pound. Even if it was the same grade meat. They suggested sticking to things with barcodes if we wanted to make sure the item "counted".

My co-mom (AKA opponent, in my mind) was a little bit older. She told me I would win for sure, because she does not have any babies at home. I thought so too. Surely a case of diapers would better my odds considerably. Formula would have really helped too, but we already use Walmart store brand formula and I wasn't willing to switch Sophia just for the sake of a TV commercial. I think that's a bit beneath me.

So, she went off to shop with one producer and I with another. The competitor shopping is covert. No cameras, just normal shopping. Don't talk about what you're doing, Walmart, Arkansas etc. They give you cash. My producer was a married man, close enough to my age. I imagine we could have appeared to be a couple. He kept track of how many items I was putting in the cart. He put my groceries on the belt in a certain order. I got an extra receipt for them. It was all pretty low-key.

Then we took my purchases to Walmart. I waited in the front a few minutes before the production assistant came to take me to the break room. An associate started scanning my items to see if they were in the Walmart system. I was really disheartened when about half of the first 10 items weren't in the system. My diapers didn't count because Walmart carries them in a 90 count box but the competitor in an 112 count box (for $13 more!). Several of the national brand pre-packaged meats were not in the system. Things were looking dim.

I was then taken to the employee break room where the TV crew and host were. The stylist touched up my makeup and hair just a tiny bit. All the people were very down to earth and I did not feel at all glamorous :) They took headshots of both moms in the produce section. I signed my rights away for them to use my likeness. I made a lunch selection just in case.

I learned this commercial would run for 10 days locally, and would include item prices. Apparently ones without pricing run longer, and sometimes they have you do a radio ad too.

After about an hour, I was dealt my death blow. The other mom had beaten me on savings. I collected my groceries up front, was given my gift card, and went home. I was all done in less than 3 hours.

I must admit my prideful self was a bit deflated. But I think the Lord knew how much I would take pride in that commercial. I've always always dreamed of being "famous". The cool kid. The popular one. Perhaps He knows in his infinite wisdom that I would not do well in that type of life. Or that once in it, I wouldn't be happy. I think of all the young "stars" gone wrong. Hollywood and "the biz" is a corrupt place/life (although there are a few who remain pure).

It's pretty sad to admit that as I was putting away my $230 of free groceries I was not nearly as happy as I should have been. The mom that was chosen actually happens to be a blogger too. And a fairly "big" one by her report. She gets free stuff, free trips and has been in two other commercials for companies she's an affiliate/ambassador for. So I was a bit miffed that she was adding to her fame. Although I put on a happy nonchalant face when they announced I hadn't won and I congratulated the winner, I was really having to tell myself to have those feelings.

Thankfully I did not wallow in self pity too long. By the next day I was over it. After a lot of self talk about it just not being the Lord's plan. And what a blessing the free groceries and gift card were. I have so much to be grateful for, it shouldn't leave room for complaint.

But, I will post a link when the other mom gets the commercial up on her blog, and you can see what might have been! :)

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Oh poo

So yesterday my husband was an E. coli nightmare for the better part of the day.

Two days ago I used the bathroom and then immediately got in the shower. When I got out, I noticed water leaking from the base of the toilet. The bowl was not overflowing, it was leaking from one small spot where the base meets the floor.

I quickly turned off the water, dried the standing water and then left it for like 30 minutes. Turned it back on, flushed with no problem, chalked it up to a clog in the line that dissolved given a little time.

Well the next day, the same thing happened to John. Only the bowl overflowed also. The dirty bowl. Eww.
He also was not as quick in turning off the water. So it took a couple towels to dry it up, and about a foot of carpet outside the door got wet. Then I thought my incident was worth mention. "What? Why didn't you tell me? I think we need a new toilet. It's leaking at the base." (Secret glee on my part.) I detest our current toilet. It's soooo low flow it's crazy. The bowl is constantly dirty. Paper gets stuck to the side requiring multiple flushes. The handle is over on the side. I have lots of reasons I dislike our toilet.

So after a call to his dad he decided that actually it was likely just a bad wax ring seal. Cheap to replace. But you do have to remove the toilet. Welllll, if you're going to have to take the toilet off anyway, maybe we could just replace it.

Que 2 hours later when I'm back from running an errand, and we're off to Lowes to get a new throne. After debate and research, we get the commode. I picked the model with the "Everclean" technology and the "Powerflush".

Two hours after that old john is out and new john is in. Lovely.

Until I took a shower in a our guest bathroom (our bathroom hadn't been decontaminated yet). A few minutes in my husband says- "You have to hurry- your shower is making our toilet back up." Oh I was done in less than a minute.

So we waited for the water to go down, then flushed. It seemed ok, but John knew something had to be wrong, so he called his dad. But first he took a shower in our bathroom to scrub off the excrement water he's built up a thin layer of. Well, that made our toilet bubble. Weird.

So he calls his dad, who tells him there has to be a clog somewhere, and that he can call a plumber for $200 or rent an "electric snake" from Home Depot and DIY it.

By this point it's like 4pm. Did I mention I was hosting the monthly church ladies get-together at my house tonight? My house that until this point was clean and running smoothly... Oh yeah, there's that too.

And then Sophia would not go down for her last nap. She's teething and congested and would scream every time I tried to lay her down, even though she would sleep fine when I held her. And my food need to be put on to warm. And she also probably couldn't sleep with the loud pneumatic sounds of a coil banging around in our plumbing pipes. Disaster was setting in.

I finally put Sophia down and had to just let her scream. It was nearly 6pm. I called Roto-Rooter. I walk in to the bathroom to tell John this and he's sweating and I see literally small waves of sewage flowing out of the hole in our bathroom floor where a commode belongs. "We need a plumber, this is sewage," he says. Grrrreat. Oh, and no one can use the bathrooms.

I call my good friend 4 doors down, panicking. Can I use your toilet, can my guests use your toilet, can my husband take a decon shower in your bathroom????

6:15 arrives and my first guest is here. I go and scoop up my screaming child and hand her off to be adored and entertained. I greet everyone with "If you need to use the restroom give me 5 minutes notice, my friend 4 doors down will let us use her bathroom." The Roto-Rooter truck prepared everyone for problems before they even knocked.

The gracious ladies took it all in stride. No one had to take a long trip to the potty. We visited, I heated my food in the microwave, and we had a good time. All the while John and a plumber are at work. Turns out we had a lot of roots in our pipes. He was surprised it was even flushing. Also we have some low spots in our plumbing. He recommended pouring a 5-gallon bucket of water in our toilet once a week to keep the system flowing. Apparently some of our pipes run straight when they should be angled downward.

So about an hour before everyone left, our plumbing was restored. To the tune of almost 200 bucks. Plus the new toilet. I gladly paid the bill. And at 9pm John finally ate dinner and showered. Apparently while he was trying to be the DIY roto-rooter he was sprayed in the face and just about everywhere else with poop water. Gross.

Today while I was at work John reinstalled the new toilet and coated the bathroom and carpet in a 10% bleach solution. I've actually yet to use the new porcelain god. But if TP sticks in the bowl, I'm gonna cry.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Front porch Facelift

So I gave the front of our house a little more personality. It was sorely needed.



Since we purchased it a little over a year ago, we've:
Removed the antenna, removed and replaced the mailbox, removed the flag pole, painted the front door, painted the shutters and porch (the most recent change), painted and re-hung the house numbers, and ripped out all of the juniper. Since this photo was taken John has also pressure washed the sidewalks and I'm trying to train Morning Glory vines up the porch railings.

The accent color doesn't quite show up in the photos. It's a muddy grey-ish brown. Sounds ugly, I know. But I wanted something neutral-ish that would still give some personality. The creme is kinda hard to coordinate with. I didn't want to choose something ultra-modern that would clash with the feel of the house in general. An 80's house with brick and cream vinyl siding would probably not look great with school bus yellow.

Plus I've always been a fan of craftsman style architecture and it's not known for super bold colors. In hindsight, I probably could have selected a teal maybe a shade or two darker than the house numbers and that probably would have been cute too, but I was hesitant to do something too trendy that I would hate in a few years. It's tedious to repaint shutters and porches. Trim work is so time consuming. Especially when you dislike painting like I do. That's why I put it off so long.

So, I think it turned out pretty cute, especially in combination with the mailbox I did.
Oh, that post is painted the color of the house trim now :)

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

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