Category Archives: 2013


May, 2013, with Milo (1 1/2), Duncan (4) and Wyatt (7).

Last Thursday, I went through the house and located all the loose change that had accumulated in bowls, drawers, and on surfaces since moving to California two years ago.  Duncan said he had a tummy ache, so I thought sorting the coins with Wyatt’s digital bank would be a good quiet activity to keep him occupied until his pain resolved.

He was listlessly putting one coin after the other into the bank and moaning about his stomach when Milo charged in, grabbed two handfuls of coins and flung them across the living room.  I did a broad sweep, but before I could locate every last coin, Duncan got violently sick all over the kitchen and bathroom, and then while I was tending to him, Milo carried a glass bowl of strawberries out the backdoor and smashed it to smithereens, cutting himself and spreading shards of glass over the area where he and his perpetually barefoot brothers play day in and out.  Between tending to Duncan, cleaning up puddles of puke, and vacuuming the driveway (literally) and also using a lint roller to try to pick up every microscopic shard of glass, the coins had to just lay where they fell until the following afternoon.

When Wyatt got home from school that day, he pulled a little yellow cardboard coin box out of his backpack and asked if he could do some chores around the house to earn spare change to donate to the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society– “Chores for Change” they are calling it.  According to Wyatt, if the kids in his elementary school can earn $5,000 by the end of the week, the principal and several teachers will take turns kissing a real live pig in front of the whole school at assembly– I find this both bizarre and hilarious.  I’m also glad I haven’t been drafted (yet) to count those thousands of dollars worth of coins the students will be bringing in.

So, of course I told the kids that if they helped me pick up the house, they could pocket any coins they found to put into Wyatt’s “Chores for Change” box.  Perfect!  Housecleaning, afternoon activity, and philanthropy all in one go.

“Chores!  For!  Change!  Chores!  For!  Change!” Wyatt and Duncan chanted as they rooted out pennies from the toy bin and under the sofa.

Milo watched the proceedings with great interest, but as his pants had no pockets, he had trouble participating– he ended up putting the same three nickels down his elastic waistband  over and over again and then looking perplexed as they reappeared like magic on the floor at his feet.

“Change?” he would say, cocking his head.  And then he would grunt as he squatted down to concentrate on coordinating his pudgy fingers to pick the coins back up off the floor.

Even after picking up the living room and adding a number of coins to Wyatt’s box, we still had an impressive $70 worth of coins to use up.  We could roll it up and take it to the bank, but last time I did that, the teller made no secret of her disapproval as she had to unroll and count out each and every coin.  The Coinstar machines at Safeway let you keep the full value of your coins if you put them on gift cards, so I might do that if any of the available cards appeal to me, but in the meantime, I decided just to throw a handful of coins into the diaper bag to use as the opportunity arises… which was a really good thing because on Saturday when we discovered ourselves to be cashless at a tollbooth we were able to pay the $5 toll in twelve quarters, a couple dollar coins, and Aaron’s apologies to the toll booth attendant.

Yesterday, I forgot to get my wallet out of the car before Aaron went to work, however with my trusty Jar o’ Change, I didn’t let that stop us from having a fantastic Sunday: The ice cream man didn’t bat an eyelash when I pulled out $4  worth of nickels and dimes to pay for the kids’ treats.  The young guy at the desk at the public swimming pool was good humored about the $15 worth of coins I gave him for our four wristbands.

“I love change!” he said with a grin. “When I go to In ‘N’ Out, I always pay in change.”

“And we’re always running out of quarters anyway,” another employee chimed in.

Today I put the jar with the remaining $46 by the backdoor so I’d remember to bring it with me whenever I left the house today.

I was just sipping a cup of tea and coming up with the week’s grocery list, wondering which of the nearby markets would be the most understanding about accepting a bucket of change in exchange for goods, when Milo waddled in wearing nothing but a diaper.  He pointed at his droopy blue diaper and raised his eyebrows at me.

“You need a diapy change, buddy?” I asked.

“Jes!” he agreed, nodding vigorously, “Change!”

And then, “Pocket!” he added.

“Pocket?” I asked, not understanding.

“Jes!  Pocket,” he confirmed.

“Oh, you can say ‘pocket’ now, that’s good!  You are a good talker!  You can say lots of stuff,” I prattled senselessly, leading him to the changing table.  I picked him up delicately.  His diaper looked pretty loaded.  We are just getting back into cloth diapering after a long hiatus and I wasn’t looking forward to opening this one.  There was also a muffled clinking noise that I couldn’t quite place as I laid him down on the changing pad.

“Change!” he said again as I unsnapped his diaper. “Pocket!”

Well, you can probably see where this is going, so all I am going to say is that that was the most expensive diaper I have ever changed.