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Archive for April, 2007

A day to keep us out of trouble...

April 28th, 2007 at 06:14 pm

Two loads of laundry on the line today. More raking out garden areas (I think I'm done!) Oldest daughter is in her last weekend of lifeguarding training. Picked up second daughter from a birthday sleepover. Then grandpa and grandma picked up the youngest three to have them help pull out and wash their deck furniture.

And what did husband and I do with NO kids? Well, we took the electronics and used motor oil to the county recycling center - oh yeah! We did have abundant time to talk, as it seemed everyone else in the county had cleaned out their garages too. The lines were very long, but the staff were pleasant, and some were even funny. My husband was extremely thrilled to be asked if he wanted to keep his five gallon motor oil tanks - he had been trying to gather enough one gallon plastic containers to transfer the oil. The guys working there were kindred spirits to what my husband holds dear, and said they'd dump the oil and give back the containers. We offered to pull ahead, but they said no. I slunked down in the seat, avoiding all eye contact with those in the many cars behind us. My husband was enjoying a great conversation with the other workers. Maybe the guys needed a break... Oh well, the deed is done!

I pulled out the pots and other garden decor, though still too early for anything but pansies. It was in the 70s, and tomorrow is supposed to get into the 80s, but as it is only April, and I can't go crazy yet. Dinner was on the grill tonight - hot dogs and brats. Everyone was hungry from all the work earlier in the day.

We also got the minivan back. We had a boot replaced (he showed us the axle he took out) and a new exhaust system installed. Only $200 - much better than what I imagined.

Because it's supposed to be so warm tomorrow, I'm baking some cookies tonight for my youngest's year-end church choir concert tomorrow night. I'm kind of tired, but it will be best to get it done. Then a nice long bath...aah!

Better get to it...take care!

The Good, the Bad and the Dull

April 25th, 2007 at 04:54 pm

Not much happening here. Still going strong with the laundry out on the line. All meals are at or from home - even though after working the whole day yesterday, with an hour at home for homework and dinner, and before heading out to work again...I WAS sorely tempted to do a fast food run. We opted to eat what you want, as long as you can fix it yourself. By no means a stellar meal, but it worked in keeping us away from the fast food, and it definitely worked for tired me. Tonight I made pizza, before evening church activities.

Only one more week of the evening Kindergarten classes. I know many of the kids and families, so it's been a lot of fun to see them so excited for Kindergarten. But the long days get to be VERY long! The checks will be welcome too.

Tomorrow the minivan finally gets repaired. I'm anxious to get it done, and find out how much it will be. Fingers and toes crossed that it will be less than more.

Need to still call for a vet appointment and some grooming for the dog. Along with the tulips, lilacs and rhubarb, spring blooms abundant bills!

Have a nice evening...take care!

Whittling at the to-do list

April 23rd, 2007 at 02:21 pm

Much was accomplished over the weekend, as many of the seemingly perpetual tasks were crossed off the to-do list. A decaying couch was removed from the garage (see previous entry) - finally! That acted as catalyst to the general cleaning up of the space. This is truly a wonderful thing!

Trusting, and really, really hoping, that spring is indeed here, we pulled out the patio furniture. We lucked out in that my parents were ready to get rid of these things when we were first married. I have my grandmother's wrought iron set (couch, chair and coffee table) and my parent's old metal lawn chair. On the actual patio, we have a metal mesh table and chairs set. Last year I painted them a sage green. As there are leaves in the wrought iron design, I stenciled ivy leaves onto the back of the lawn chair. The paint held up well, and I'll just touchup with a small brush. I set the couch and chairs in an area under a huge maple tree. I then will plant up pots of begonias and impatiens. On the patio, I get to have some sunny flowers. Can you tell I'm anxious to get planting? May 15 is when it's considered safe to plant here. My youngest two girls and I did plant frost-tolerant pansies in the playhouse window boxes on Saturday. And the rhubarb is shooting up. Signs of spring...

Except for yesterday ( it rained,)the laundry has been out on the line for the past week. I grocery shopped on Saturday, using store coupons that saved me almost $10, bringing my total a good amount under what I budget for the two weeks. I bought tons of fruits and vegies - we're starting out with the most perishable, and working toward the less.

Visited my mom on Saturday - she doesn't seem to be doing as well right now. Her potassium levels are up, and the dr is using meds and tests to stay on top of this. She seemed so incoherent - time will tell if this is the current medical condition or just the Alzheimer's progressing.

Have a great Monday...take care!

How to Dismantle an Atomic Couch

April 22nd, 2007 at 08:58 am

(tongue in cheek!)

1 - Keep the first couch you bought as a married couple long enough to REALLY get your money's worth. (Ok, 22 years may be the extreme boundary of 'long enough'...)

2 - Haul the sad thing out to your garage to allow some time to think through your options of disposal, and oh yeah...become a secret low-rent mouse housing complex. (There are few options, but this step only takes a year...)

3 - Upon last week's discovery of the rampant use of said mouse housing, an order is decreed stating emphatically that the couch MUST be removed from the premises. Teeny, tiny fire lights under husband. (I am fanning frantically from the sidelines, wishing my fan was bigger, as the couch has come into being fully ATOMIC...)

4 - In order to SAVE MONEY, a decision is made to dismantle the atomic couch. (What happened to just calling the garbage hauler??!)

5 - With a mat knife, cut shred by shred, what's left of the cover and padding into small pieces. Watch out for the flinging dried up, dead mice and the belching dust of 23 years. Bag up the pieces and throw away. (Don't cough up a lung...)

6 - Move on to the power tool portion of this project! Husband is now really getting into this project. (This is a great time to question the sanity of what husband is doing, pointing out that emergency room visits are quite costly!) The revving up of the power tool makes hearing extremely difficult. The Sawzall carves away at the wood and cardboard(!) frame, which is carried away to the backyard campfire ring. The dozen metal springs head to the recycling center.

7 - Whew! No more atomic couch, all fingers intact, no bloody gashes, no money out. Slightly amazed at the dismantling feat, and that such a flimsy couch lasted so darn long!

8 - Do NOT attempt this at home, unless the seduction of saving money, plus the use of power tools, really grabs hold of you. Then you may proceed at your own risk, hopefully with someone nearby who will question the SANITY of it all!!

Heading into the weekend...

April 20th, 2007 at 01:10 pm

Laundry on the line - again (loving our spring weather!) Husband is in MN, on his way home. Oldest daughter didn't pass her driver's test. Hmm, two out of three ain't bad...

The weekend is shaping up busy, but self-induced busy, rather than out of my control busy. We're clearing out the things from the garage that can go to the county recycling center - mostly beyond repair electronics and used motor oil. The facility is open weekdays and Saturdays, so tomorrow's the day. (I just talked to my husband - he is SO excited. At least, he's still heading home!) There's still a bit of raking to do, but the wind is supposed to be strong, so we'll see.

My husband found out he got a 4% pay increase. Will need to look at the budget in light of that. I know some, if not all, will go toward retirement.

Enjoy the weekend...take care!

Wrangling Wednesday

April 18th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

The minivan's windshield looks great, as it should for the cost. Laundry is on the line again. Dinner will be homemade pizza.

Today, third daughter has Girl Scouts after school, during which I'll pick up oldest to do some practicing on her parallel parking (test is on Friday.) Second daughter will head home on the bus, and be there for youngest after she gets done with school. Then we eat a quick dinner, before the girls head over to the church at their various times for choir and confirmation. In between, all need to do homework. Wednesdays are tiring!

Mentally tabulating the upcoming, not usual, expenses - ugh! The dog needs to go in for her annual vet visit and grooming - I'll check to see if there are any heartworm pills leftover from last season, as they aren't cheap. The lifeguarding class my oldest is signed up for this weekend and next is paid for already, but there will be a class fee for the book and resusitation mask - off the top of my head, I think it's $60. The driver's licenses if oldest passes - maybe $35(I know it should be when, but remember I mentioned above her parallel parking!) The van's repair - I'm thinking $600, but it may be less (hope so!) Well, this should get us through April...we have the money, but it's just not the most fun way to spend, though very typical. Enough whining!

Enjoy your day...take care!

Dollars out and dollars saved

April 17th, 2007 at 06:34 am

Today, we'll have the windshield replaced on our minivan. There was a crack across the bottom, and my oldest takes her driver's exam on Friday. We called around to six places, and the first five were near $300. Having only liability insurance in place for this vehicle, I was amazed at how much this was going to cost us. I'm glad I kept on calling, because the last estimate came in at $235, with a guarantee. Still a lot, but better at least.

I also hung out another load of laundry this morning. It's a bit breezy, though cloudy. I haven't heard any mention of rain...but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can take it down when I stop at home for lunch.

Better head off to work...take care!

A Monday in Spring...

April 16th, 2007 at 12:07 pm

Laundry on the line again! Maybe, just maybe, spring is here.

My husband headed out of town to Rapid City - that area used to be installed from Denver, but now it's out of the Twin Cities. I don't enjoy when he has to work out of town, but he'll put in a lot of overtime, which we can use. Such a baby I am, I know - and he's due back on Friday.

Yesterday's shopping turned out well - while second daughter and friend were at the mall, I got my returns taken care of at Target, and stuck to my list of purchases, even with three daughters in tow. Third daughter needed to go to Blick Art store for a drawing pad and three watercolour pencils, all of which happened to be on sale (or maybe perpetually on sale, with that store.) Then first, third and youngest daughters and I headed to Barnes and Noble, the most dangerous of stores to go. But it turned out fine, with only oldest and youngest making purchases. With the third's birthday dollars for the art store purchase and oldest's wages and youngest's Christmas(!) money for the bookstore, my only layout was at Target, which was planned for. Whew!

I see the girls making their dollars count. My oldest wanted a book on drawing the human body. The selection at the art store was fairly expensive, and even more so at B&N, until she found a nice one in their reduced area. I also see them think ahead about purchases, decidng if they really want something, and whether it's worth the money. This is good!

Tonight's dinner is my youngest's requested mac and cheese (the 25 cent generic box kind) and leftover hot dogs we grilled outside yesterday. Arg! A nice salad with beans and cheese and lots and lots of vegies will hopefully nudge the nutritional value of this meal upward a little. (See, this is what happens when my husband leaves!)

Enjoy the day...take care!

Sunny Sunday

April 15th, 2007 at 09:18 am

Another day for hanging out the laundry!

Yesterday, I puttered, but it was productive puttering. The garage is cleaned out...well, "my" side is, anyway. We got rid of a lot of the accumulated junk. My husband still has his side to do, in which I will help, as he is organizing challenged (or maybe he appears so as to spur me into action - hmm.)

I raked leaves around the garage area, and uncovered the hosta, which had tips poking through the dirt. Today the rhubarb patch and lily and iris garden get their turn, as the tips are up through the leaves. I think my spring bulb flowers may have not made it through the last bout of snow - the leaves were up when it snowed, but they remain flopped over, though still green. Will have to watch... My husband even offered to unearth the patio furniture from the garage. I need to check whether they'll need any paint touched up.

I reconciled the checkbook to the statement. I filed papers!! I recently revamped the files, so I may stay caught up with that task. (that's a definite maybe...)

I also went through my mom's papers. When she went into the assisted living in 2004, I kept many papers that were (or seemed) pertinent then, that are not, now. So I have a basket full to shred. It's been slow going through all the stuff that I brought from her house to my house. But I've found that I'm more able recently to get rid of what needs to go. Fun things I rediscovered that I had among yesterday's papers - My dad's discharge papers from his service in the Marines in WWII, his college transcript from the U of M, his inoculation card from the WHO that allowed him to work in Greenland for the Army Corp of Engineers in the 50s, a copy of my grandmother's family's naturalization papers when they came here from Russia in 1911, and a copy of a picture of the family around that time (my grandma was about 16.) Ok, ok enough nostalgia...

My older girls and friends want to head out for a little shopping. ("On a beautiful day like this?!" says silly mom.) So... in a bit, I'm heading to Target, with some returns, after dropping them off at the mall. I get done what I need to, and the girls are a road and a parking lot away from my wallet (they have their own money!)

Better get on with the day...take care!

The first time this year ...

April 14th, 2007 at 03:52 pm

...for hanging the laundry outside! It warmed to the 50s, and there was a gentle breeze, so I thought I'd give it a try. My fingers were a bit cold by the end of hanging, but it was a beautiful day to be outside. Oh, and the clothes did dry, eventually. Spring is here!

I also worked on the garage. All I can say is that we manage to be packrats over the winter. The garage is much neater, plus, as I alluded to above, it was a great day to be outside.

Enjoy the weekend...take care!

This and that...

April 13th, 2007 at 03:20 pm

Busy week - the extra hours for work, an IEP planning meeting for my third daughter. Glad the weekend is here!

A bit of money going out lately. I renewed the licence tabs for our conversion van. It's a '93, so the fee is at the cheapest rate. I also paid for my oldest to take a Lifeguarding course. Those Red Cross lessons aren't cheap, but she'll have more options at the pool (with an increased hourly pay.) She wants to take the instructor course coming up in June too. (Hmm - how easily and freely my girls spend my dollars - ha!)

This weekend, I want to go over what's ahead expense-wise for the summer and early fall. I know it's early, but I may or may not work over the summer (and it's a reduced amount anyway) and we never know if my husband will have ot or not. Plus the signup for high school sports is in the summer, and my second daughter wants to try out for the tennis team. (Hey, what can I say, I like to plan things out...though key to this is flexibility. Stuff always happens!)

As spring seems to be making an appearance again here in MN, some work in the yard and garage will be happening. Any excuse to be outside!

Enjoy the weekend...take care!

Work, bills and snow - oh my!

April 10th, 2007 at 05:11 pm

Got stopped in the hall at school this afternoon, and was asked if I wanted to to sub in special ed tomorrow. Of course! The end-of-year rush to use up personal days is starting, and I'm happy to help out. This week also starts our kindergarten connection classes for next fall's incoming kindergarten class. Many extra hours for my next few paychecks - yay!

I'm also considering doing the extended school year again over the summer (June into July.) I really enjoyed working with the middle and high schoolers last summer. This summer I would have to choose between preschool/elementary or the ms/hs again - I know I would enjoy either. I've already decided to not do the kindergarten prep classes in August. It's the only month we can do some longer camping trips, and I really just want some time off with the girls before we all head back to school (spoilt, I know, and lucky too.)

Otherwise, I received three medical/dental bills in the mail today. Only one was correct! How much time I spend on the phone with billing departments - arg! Of course I do, because it's my dollars they want. I do keep good records and notes, but it's a hassle nonetheless.

It's just begun snowing...again. Where is spring this year??

Oh well, going out for a walk anyway, then a bath, some sleepytime tea and more time with a book by Chris Bohjalian (called Idyll Banter) that I picked up at the library. Did I mention that the girls are done with their homework? The day will end pleasantly...take care!

We're ready...

April 7th, 2007 at 02:51 pm

...for Easter. My family and I cleaned the house, the groceries are bought and ready, and the Easter Bunny is ready to deliver treats for tomorrow morning.

On the money front - we received our federal refund, direct deposited and 24 days earlier. All of the funds are being transferred to savings. I bought groceries yesterday, and even with hosting the Easter dinner, the amount was within the normal amount for two weeks. With the windchills of late at zero, the heat is on, but with more hours of daylight and the sun shining, the heat only goes on at night. (With a teaser day last week with temps in the 80s, and then this week's barely to 30 with windchills nonetheless - well, spring is being way too fickle!)

Still to come...we're still awaiting for our repair guy to get all the parts he needs for our minivan. Repairs includes replacing a 'boot' and the exhaust system, and a general checkover. I'm hoping for under $500.

My oldest is scheduled to take her driver's exam in a couple of weeks. She's relentlessly looking for her own car. There's quite the spectrum of vehicles in her price range, so we'll see what comes of this search. She's filling out paperwork for post secondary enrollment options for next fall, and is applying for coursework at a community college. She'll need a dependable car for that commute, but we have a few months to look. The above mentioned repair guy works as parts manager at a car dealership, and can keep an eye out for us too. Patience is a hard thing, though much easier as you get older!

Of course, my patience is being highly tested...my second daughter turns 15 next month. "Mom! Did you sign me up yet for driver's classroom training?!!" Sighing heavily, "Yes, yes." Here we go again!!

Happy Easter & take care!!