Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shopping, Cleaning, and Fixing

 One of the must do's this week was to get my closet cleaned out. Done! Winter and Summer clothes have been switched out, a nice big bag of no longer need, don't like, why did I buy that, things have been delivered to Goodwill.
 On my list of 101 errands yesterday was to pick up a few things at the grocery store. The 75% off sale buggy caught my eye, humm whats this. Wohoo stuffed animals that will be perfect for Project Night Night bags were marked down to $3.79. I bought all that they had!!
 Another must do was to mow the lawn as my staff (lawn mowing service) didn't show up Monday or Tuesday :( grrrr. With heavy rain coming in today the yard would have been a real mess if I waited until next week.
An unplanned but couldn't put off any longer must do was to back up my photo's and files on the laptop. The laptop has been having lots of problems lately, running slow, shutting down for no known reason, locking up, and such. I am ready to throw it out the window but in the meantime I don't want to lose everything on it. At least it was work I could sit down to do, no shovels or lawn equipment needed.

I feel like I am chasing my tail this week in the get it done department :( Hours and hours spent on the phone with insurance and Dr's offices trying to get and handle on and understand why our insurance discount is so low before I pay the bills. A $942.00 Neurologist bill was only discounted by $30.00, WHAT, yep that's all that was allowed. So much for the new affordable health care, in the past that bill was discounted to around $300.00. Those days look to be long gone.

My staff (lawn service) too put a monkey wrench in my schedule. They are due to come out each Monday. Knowing I didn't have to do the regular lawn chore freed me up to do some extras in the yard Saturday and Sunday. Taking down the old raised garden beds was a real bugger of a job but its done. The front bushes and trees also needed to be trimmed, completed. Monday morning I hit one of the front beds that ivy has gotten out of control in. Some of the vines have bark on them! Some progress was made but it might take all summer to get rid of the stuff. By 7:00 Monday night the staff had not shown up...what the heck I will jump on the tractor and get the front yard  done. Tuesday...same deal, they were a no show. Before the predicted rain came in I once again got on the tractor to do the back yard. So much for my staff, however I did eventually hear from them.

Late in the day after running yet more errands I found a note in the door from the lawn service "Call us ASAP", Oh No I thought.....they must have had a family emergency. Nope. Seems they had taken on a few side jobs and gotten behind. When they came by the house he saw that our lawn had already been mowed, he was NOT happy!! I explained to him since they never showed up or called I did it on my own, we are expecting 3-5 inches of rain this week, the lawn had to be cut. He had the nerve to still be angry and told me I would still have to pay the $75.00 contracted amount.
A) We DO NOT have a contract
B) If we did have a contract you would have been in breach of that contract
C) You have one of those phones that hangs from your ear on at all times, you could have called!!

I won't be paying for service that wasn't rendered. Hopefully he now has a clear understanding of our expectations, no work, no pay.

Last but not least aggravating To Do was to make contact with the homeless shelter. I sent an e-mail to one of the higher ups after I couldn't make contact with the department that accepts donations. His response was to give me another name and number. OK..I had left at least 6 messages to this staff person who is a paid employee BTW over the past two weeks. Her voice mail says "I am out of the office until Monday March 31" please leave a message WHAT!! Time to quit dilly dallying about. I called a friend who I knew had some connections. Amazingly I got not one but two calls later in the day expressing how excited they would be to receive such a generous donation and to be included in the Night Night Project,grrrr You shouldn't have to call in favors to elected officials for people to do their durn job!!!

That's my rant for the day. On to the next spring cleaning To Do. I figure at the rate I am going I will have my spring cleaning completed no later than Halloween! ha

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Back to Work

 Kara and I hit the home improvement store first thing in the morning to get our yard supplies for the weekend. Can you tell how excited she was to hang her new birdie house. She kept running out in the yard to yell at the birds "You gots a new house, come home now" So stinkin cute
 She also needed some flowers of her own!! Little stinker kept taking my pots and moving them over the the grands house. Purple for Kara, pink for Karsyn, yellow for Mason, but couldn't find any blue for Tyler yet :( She worked so hard filling her planter.
 After she got everything planted she patted and kissed each one, Awww
 I wasn't done working her yet, she had to clean up her mess. What is it about little kids that they love to clean? Maybe I need to go back to my childhood to be inspired to do some cleaning of my own.
  Floors are clean, plants are looking good, birdie house waiting for a family and a new door mat is in place!!
While Kara was hard at work I disassembled 4 of the old raised bed gardens. Holy cow it was a whole heck of a lot of shovel fulls!! All of this wonderful dirt should give us a lush yard full of clover.

I just realized I had not published this post from Sunday or was it Saturday? Who knows! Busy, busy, busy is the name of the spring game. I will catch up soon (I think)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Grand End to Spring Break

  The last of our spring break outings was a secret super surprise trip to the Great Wolf Lodge. The toddlers had no idea what they were about to experience however Tyler had been a few times in the past he was sooo excited. Talk about going crazy when we pulled into the parking lot!! The kiddo's were blown away by their very own Cub Den to sleep in tucked away in the corner of our room.
 Tyler showed his little brother and sister how to ride and shoot the water guns
 Kara and Mason loved having water gun fights
 Here is another of the many water features at the indoor water park. Once the Daddy's were off from work to join us the little girls were hooked on this tree house water slide. Thank goodness they are old enough to understand that some things can only be done with the daddy's
 In the evening after baths and PJ's we spent time in the main lodge for story time and an animated show
 The little guys could have sat all night enjoying the show's while Tyler was off with DD#2 doing some of the big kid activities
What super surprise sleepover would it be if they didn't have at least one pillow fight!
 Spring break activities are done, Whee its over!! Its was so funny to hear the DD's talk about how tired they were when we finished up the last of our outings yesterday. DD#1 and # 2 are both teachers,  they agreed they would be glad to get back in the classrooms Monday morning where they could get some rest! Ha Now that DD#3 is large with baby she got out of participating in the water park/sleepover trip. I can tell you she didn't mind at all! I slipped out at 10:00PM myself to head home for a short good nights sleep.
This by no means was a frugal outing wasn't too bad. A spring break special combined with a 20% off coupon brought the cost way down. Bringing in our own food, drinks and snacks saved us a ton!! Passing on the extra add on activities would have doubled the price for sure. I haven't taken our girls to a water park in years, they preferred just hanging out on a beach when they hit the preteen years. When we returned to our homes yesterday I started checking the prices on a stand alone water parks, holy cow $48.00 each for a day pass, and you can not bring in your own food or drinks!
Turns out we got a SUPER deal once I checked around on line at the other parks. For less than we would have paid to spend the day at a regular park we had a REALLY cool room which included the park pass from 1:00 the day of check in until 9:00 pm the day of check out.
So many lessons learned. Make sure to check on line for coupons. Don't be afraid to ask if coupons can be used on the special package deals. Ask for an activities schedule to be sent to you by e-mail so you can plan your trip even if it is only a day trip!! Park you own food and drinks then add extra, swimming makes everyone hungry. If your at a more mature age be sure to play that card!!! Gosh Nanny is too old to play honey, I will just take photo's OK???  After all you footing the bill you have every right to make up the rules right?? Ha

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Zoo on a shoe string budget

 Wouldn't you know the first thing the little girls would find interesting at the Zoo yesterday was a puddle to play in :)
 Mason man too had to get in on the fun.
 They even LOVED the snakes and lizards, ewww
Our four monkey's and the pink baby bump holding grand number 5
What a beautiful day we had at the zoo!! The weather was perfect, the kiddo's were doll babies, and the price was right!! After a huge breakfast out in the morning we were on our way to what turned out to be the best Zoo trip ever. Who would have thought taking this many toddlers out and about could be so much fun. Of course we all were ready for an early bedtime once we returned home :)
Cost of this outing was $60.00, not too bad IMO. Seeing the look on their faces when they got to see each of their favorite animal was worth every penny. Elephants for Tyler, Giraffe for Karsyn, Zebra for Manson, and Monkey's for Kara. To keep the cost down we packed lunches for all, that was a BIG hit for the kiddo's. Nothing better than sharing lunch from their lunch boxes after a fun filled 3 1/2 hours of exploring.
The drive home....I'm just thankful I didn't fall asleep at the wheel!! You can bet I was down and out for the count last night.
Today we have a BIG super surprise outing planed for them. A spring break special in addition to coupons guaranties 21 hours of wet and wild fun. DD#2 will be joining in for the action today as DD#3 is limited on how fast she can move with her growing baby bump.
Today's outing will be a great finish for a weeks long staycation, I soooo need to get back to the normal routine!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring Break

 DD#1 and I decided to treat the kiddo's to a morning at the Extreme Fun Zone while DD#3 went to her Dr's appointment to check on our soon to arrive addition. The toddlers have NO FEAR!! :(
 The supper slides are for Tyler's age and size group
 However the no fear toddlers think they are too big for the baby slides. They just about gave me heart failure.
 Even little Mason man got into the dare devil mood
 As is always the case Kara is our nut case, she loves to get us going with her extreme drama acts
DD#3 informed me today that grand #5 is due in just 5 short weeks, Yikes I thought it was 7 weeks. I need to put it in full gear to be ready for his arrival

With school out this week for spring break DD#1 has planned little inexpensive outings for the grands all week. Yesterday was the drive Nanny crazy at the fun house day. I am too old for all this dangerous (to me) play!! After a few hours in the crazy place the DD's treated the kiddo's to lunch out. Me? I went home as fast as I could go for some aspirin, the place made me crazy!!! Cost per kiddo $5.00, pretty good deal for a full day of play if you could stand to watch them that long.

Today is the Colombia, SC Zoo. I am not looking forward to the 2 hour drive in rush hour traffic that I am sure will turn the drive into 3 hours or more. We hope the toddlers will wear out early so we can head home before we get stuck in the evening rush hour mess!! For now the toddlers are more excited about the "Pickanika" lunch we will be having with their new lunch boxes. The DD's and I are all in with the "Pickanika" lunch, no nasty $5.00 hot dogs or slices of pizza!!

We had originally planned to make the zoo an overnight trip but realized we would need at least two rooms to fit us all in. The idea of sleeping with all of the grands at the end of a long day at the zoo along with the cost seemed a bit EXTREME to me!! I love them to death but at the end of the day they gotta GO.

Oh for the good old days of spring break where a new jump rope, box of sidewalk chalk, and a big bottle of bubbles was all they needed for a fun filled week :)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Signs of Spring

 One of life's great pleasures is watching the grands enjoy traditions. Early church service followed by lunch and an Easter egg hunt.
 Karsyn is looking a bit frumpy after a very long morning of Easter going on's
 Once I returned home from DD #1's Easter celebration it was back to work for me. One of the many things on my list was to get the deck back in shape after that long hard winter we have had.
 Upper and lower decks have been planted on a budget, the grands playhouse has been scrubbed and moved onto the lower deck where it will stay!! No more moving of the playhouse for me.
We are doing a huge makeover in the garden this year. One of the many things that are being changed is to downsize the herb bed. I'm not sure if this hanging pot thing will work but its worth a shot. Our herb bed had gotten so large and out of control something needed to be done.

I can hardly lift my arms today after lugging so much potting soil needed to revamp all of the planters. Eight hours of non stop moving, lifting, dividing, planting, and watering....ouch!!! Mark one more thing off the list, go me! Ha I was so worn out last night and dirty I might add that I didn't even go back out to enjoy some time on the deck after getting a badly needed shower.

Since we are way over budget on the outdoor spending I cut way back on spending for annuals this year. I figure a few weeks of miracle grow and you will never be able to tell the difference. We have a very long growing season these little plants will be lush and beautiful in no time at all.

Slowly this week I will try to divide and transplant the herbs from the raised bed they have outgrown into these small planting pots. Seem odd to you to be downsizing the herbs? It felt a little odd to me as well but we are doing away with all of the raised beds this year, the herb bed included. I have dehydrated so many herbs the past few years that the pantry is full to overflowing. I needed to cut back. Mint.......Oh Lord it was taking over. Mint is an amazing plant just one small sprig can go crazy in just one growing season. I will be moving a patch of it way back near our woodsy area to keep it away from everything else. Hubby and my "staff" can keep it contained with the weed eater (I hope).

Speaking of "staff" today is the first day of having them take over the lawn. I am pretty excited too have that weekly job off my hands. I have high hopes that the time it will free up can be used to do all of the rest of the stuff I can never get to. Tree's and busch's need to be dealt with, a battle with ivy must be won this year or it will overtake the house. Last but not least is the garden....

Our garden this year will be half the size it use to be :( It makes me a little sad to have to give it all up but the reality is that the raised beds were shot. Between the Bermuda grass invasion and wood rot I had a sorry mess on my hands, the battle was just not worth it. Getting everything torn down has been and will continue to be a heck of a big job. For now we won't be putting in the back garden. With grand #5 due to arrive at the end of May I don't think I will be able to keep it all up on my own. Maybe just maybe there will be a change of heart later this spring but for now it seems like the right thing to do. I need to pace myself.

Is anyone else feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the spring clean up? To heck with the house for now, we should have plenty of rainy days I can devote to spring cleaning indoors. Off to find that bottle of pain relievers!!!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy Easter!!

 We worked very hard getting our Easter eggs ready for the bunny
 The weather didn't cooperate :( Talk about a mess but that's what memories are all about. Ha
 Mason was so proud of his "Lellow" egg. "Lellow is his very favorite color
 Karsyn had to make do with blue as the pink bucket was spilled early in the process
 OH MY, look at those hands
 The bunny will be busy Sunday morning hiding all of these eggs
 After our early mini Easter dinner with Papaw we all enjoyed Kara's special cupcakes
Mason man couldn't shove his cupcake in fast enough
Our Easter weekend is off to a good start even with our Papaw having to be back on the road again :(.
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend enjoying what this special day is really all about. Check out this beautiful small video a friend shared with me today.
Once you click on the video you will have to go to the top of the page to hit the link. I have no idea why it won't load correctly :(

Friday, April 18, 2014

Busy Times

 Kara and I got right on our baking for Easter yesterday morning. She was in charge of cupcakes for the grands.
 She was mighty pleased with her creation
 I was in charge of this Peeps sunflower cake for hubby, He LOVES Peeps, I can't get even one down for the life of me, yuck. I am thinking Peeps are in a love it or hate it category. The chocolate cake I will have no problem eating!
 Our evening was spent at Tyler's baseball game. Since there were no trash cans close by Karsyn and Mason entertain themselves by digging in the dirt
 As well as getting belly bubbles from Papaw
 Ty was so happy to get a hit for his Papaw to see
As Mason man was cheering him on.

Busy days and busy nights has been the name of the game this week. We are doing our best to cram it all in. We both fall in bed each night knowing the next day will be just as action packed as the last!!
Today will be no different.

Kara and Papaw will work in the yard while I get a mini early Easter dinner prepared for this afternoon. Tyler will have some alone time with Papaw at a movie while I try to get Kara to nap before we color Easter eggs with all of the grands followed by our early mini Easter dinner. Hubby has to head back to TX in the morning :( but we are both very thankful he has had almost a week at home. I have teased him the past two days that he needs to get back to work so he can rest. There is never down time around here it seems.

Lots of talk about early retirement if and when we had time to just sit and visit this past week. Hubby loves his work, the pay is very, very good but nothing can make up for the time he has been having to spend away from our family.  Early retirement is a scary thing in this economy, at least to us it is!! We have a plan......

There might be a chance hubby will be in the office over the summer this year. If that should pan out we will be doing a few trial run retirement months. The first month will be to spend as we always do to see how short we are by the end of the month. Month two will be regroup to try being more aware of our spending  living within our fixed retirement budget. Month three will be a reflection of the previous months. Do we hold off on his retirement until 65 or is it OK to pull the trigger at 62. What can we do to try a semi retirement lifestyle as he continues to work but at a part time bases. Is a consulting business a better bet?

One thing I do know is this man of mine needs to get the heck off the roads, motels, apartments, condos, fast food and all that goes along with his travels. Another thing I know is he will be bored to death being home 24/7. I also know the majority of our wastefull spending is on the grands and our big kids. Not that they need us to spend we just can't seem to help ourselves!!!

Here is a good example of spending we don't need to do. I try to post photo's of the grands on FB for hubby to see during his time away from home. He goes crazy seeing the kiddo's running around in any shoe other than tennis shoes.  First thing on his To Do's this week was to get tennis shoes for all of the little ones. Did we stop there? Of course not, we also bought them each a pair of casual/church shoes. Eight pairs of shoes even on the buy one get one 1/2 price sale ain't cheap. See what I mean? We are hopeless!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Resting our Bones

 All this tilling, racking, mowing, digging, and such was put on hold yesterday. It was nice to just sit at the embroidery machine for a few hours. Lots and lots of monogramming on ribbons for some sweet Mommy's
I did the embroidery, well at least I watched the machine do the embroidery while I day dreamed of a garden fairy that would come along to finish all of the work. The mommy's can create hair bows like this one with the piles of monogrammed ribbons that are completed. I hate making bows!! You can never have enough hair bows for little girls here in the south.

Hubby had to spend all day in a meeting yesterday. The work we still have to do around the yard requires a team of at least two so I was able to get some down time in. Thank goodness!! We have been at it from dawn till dusk since Sunday with miles more to go before we can call it done.

While we won't be able to finish everything on our To Do before my main man has to head back to TX we have come a LONG way!! We have two more days of hard labor with various grands by our side and Mother Nature playing her mean tricks. I think hubby is ready to go back to work so he can get some rest!!!!!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

We now have a Staff!!!

 Hubby and I compiled our must do lists yesterday morning over's a long hard to implement in a short period of time list. One of the many things on that list was to till the garden that we never had time to do last fall. Should we continue to rent or is it time to purchase a tiller of our own?  We went with ownership. This man of mine works long hours. He sacrifices so much for our family. A tiller to call his own just seemed like the right thing to do, so we did!!
In less than an hours time he had the lower garden tilled and ready to plant. Yippee Skippy, mark one To Do off for the home team.

We are making a whole lot of changes to our garden/gardens this year. With a new baby too arrive in just 6 short weeks, hubby still working out of state, taking care of a home alone that is bigger than we need something has gotta give. Bermuda grass had invaded our raised beds a couple of years ago. I have fought a good battle with it for the past two summers but it's just a lost cause. You can't kill the stuff, the roots run to China I do believe. While my man was doing his thing with his new toy I began to disassemble 6 raised beds. Holy cow, talk about hard work. I had planned to start over with just 2 new beds this year but the wood from the old beds was suffering from wood rot already. Gotta start from scratch. :(

After breakfast yesterday hubby took his Jeep in for inspection while I headed home. I have been racking my brain for weeks trying to figure out how in the heck am I going to continue to keep all the irons in the fire as  "The Lone Ranger" again this summer. As I turned the corner onto our street a lawn service was working on a neighbors yard, it's now or never. I chased the fella down on the mower to inquire about contracting with them. A short time later hubby arrived home to inform me he too had stopped the same company about taking some work off my back! Ha Great minds think alike.

As is the way here in the South we got talking with the owner when he came by to give us and estimate. He too is looking to retire soon planning to hand over the company to his Son who has worked for him since he was 14 years old. Their estimate for a weekly cut and trim was just too LOW!! We negotiated a little explaining our position that his prices were well under the market value, as in less than 1/2 the price of other companies. We didn't want to take advantage of them. His Son didn't say a word but you could tell by his body language he and his Father may have disagreed over price increases recently! Ha Having someone else doing the weekly lawn service will free up time for me to do all the extras I never have time to do. There are some big projects that we have had to put off for so long due to the time crunch.

Another biggy to me anyway was to load up the tractor that had blown and engine last summer. Habitat for Humanity agreed to take it off our hands but they don't do pick ups. I so dreaded helping my main man load and unload that monster onto our pick up truck for delivery. Don't you know last night after all the kiddo's had left the Kidney Foundation just happened to call for donations. I told the lady the only thing we had right now was a broken down tractor, BINGO. They will be picking it up Thursday from 9:00-5:00 all we have to do is get it too the street!!!

Having Staff is quite nice I must say!!

On for today is lots of running around (spending money) a few errands, regrouping, and revising our list as it will be raining all day. Tomorrow we will be back in the yard with coats on as the temperature of 82 for the past week will drop below freezing tonight. Gotta love spring!