Monday, June 29, 2009

Money Saving Monday #16

Our hot tub has been broken for about 6 months. We had it installed around the same time we had our pool dug a couple summers ago, and it is my favorite part of our yard. We use it year-round and I love the heat of the water.

Unfortunately, the economy here in Arizona continues to plummet and both the swimming pool and hot tub company are bankrupt. While we had a 5 year warranty, once the company went bankrupt, the warranty no longer existed. (As a side note -- both these companies had been in business over 15 years and were well established in the community. The hot tub company even manufactured all their own tubs locally. Such a loss!)

My money saving tip for today is to marry someone handy. LOL! If my husband wasn't so handy with tools and mechanical things, our hot tub would still be broken! Instead, thanks to his skills, information on the internet, and parts from ebay -- my hot tub is working once again!

So, while it definitely helps to marry a handy person, my real tip is to do the research and try to make repairs yourself. Bo performed research on the internet and had a pretty good idea of what was wrong. He then searched ebay and found the part he believed we needed. When it arrived, he took apart the heater, replaced the bad part, and re-filled our hot tub.

Obviously, if you have no mechanical or technical skills, then a professional should be consulted. I'm grateful that my husband has auto mechanic skills from his time in the Air Force, and has hvac and electrical skills from his years in the industry. Having those skills has saved us thousands of dollars over the years.

The hot tub feels glorious! I know that it's 110 around here right now. I still like sitting in the hot tub in the evenings! And our pool is only a few steps away if it does get too hot.

(This picture is of our backyard. The hot tub is to the right. I do feel a bit spoiled when I look at how nice it is!)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Frigidaire Refrigerator in the House!

Thanks to Mom Central and Frigidaire, my new Frigidaire refrigerator was delivered to my house this afternoon. I'm thrilled to be part of the Test Drive program so I can try out one of their new appliances and share my thoughts and experiences with my readers. I am still amazed and thrilled that I was chosen to participate in this program and can't quite believe I received a brand new refrigerator.

It's here now, and I am waiting for it to cool down so I can fill it with groceries. I picked up a last minute training session last night, about 20 minutes before I got the call that the refrigerator would come today. I have a great husband, so while I was gone he moved our old refrigerator into the garage with the help of a couple neighbors. By the time I came home, he had scrubbed the floor beneath the refrigerator, and left a nice clean spot for our new refrigerator.

This afternoon, the delivery truck arrived right on time, and the sweet man brought this beauty in and installed it in my kitchen. Coming off the truck, it was hot -- and I thought it was neat that we could see how hot the inside of the refrigerator and freezer were on the door! When he first plugged it in, the refrigerator was at 99 and the freezer at 98. When he left about 40 minutes later -- the temperatures had already dropped to 79 and 91.

I was impressed with how quickly it cooled down, and I can't wait for the ice! It was recommended that I let it make ice overnight, and then throw out that first batch.

So far, so good! Although I think my stove is a little jealous of the shiny stainless steel.

I know I'm lucky receiving a new refrigerator -- but you could be lucky, too! Head over to My Mother Load and enter to win a suite of appliances to be delivered to YOUR kitchen. You can enter the Daily Dare to win a new washer/dryer -- or you can let Frigidaire know what you would do with an extra hour and win a whole suite of appliances.

Check back throughout the summer as I write about our experience with the new refrigerator! If you're nearby, head on over for a crushed ice drink!


Just some random thoughts for a Friday . . .

  • I thoroughly enjoy teaching and am struggling with figuring out childcare again. The homeschooling mom who has done it, won't be available nearly as much in the fall - and at the same time I have more opportunities to teach. I don't want to stop! (and financially I can't anyway) Finding care for L is fairly easy -- it's the 3 of them that is a challenge. I am not sure what the answer is, but realize it might be giving up homeschooling. This could be a post in itself.
  • Just because I own a cell phone doesn't mean I will answer it immediately (or even at all) when it rings. I won't. That's what voicemail is for. Sometimes I'm busy, sometimes I'm sleeping, sometimes I don't hear it ring, sometimes I just don't feel like talking on the phone. Oftentimes, I have the ringer set to silent. If you need me, leave a message or send me an email. Don't harangue me because I don't pick up every time the freaking phone rings. It doesn't own me. (Can you tell this is a sensitive issue this week? Sometimes I think about going back to snail mail letters only . . . )
  • My eyes have changed again and I need a new prescription. Our insurance covers 1 eye exam every 2 years, and it's only been 18 months since my last one. Unfortunately, my eyes appear to have changed enough that I really can't wait. Um, and I'm a dork bc we don't have the same insurance anymore and I don't think we actually have any vision insurance anymore. So, I guess I better just make that appointment and teach another class.
Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Small Successes (Vol 23)


Danielle Bean over at Faith and Family is hosting small successes--an opportunity for Moms to identify the little things they have accomplished in the craziness of daily life. Here are mine:

  1. I received awesome reviews for the classes I taught this week. It especially makes me feel great when I'm told my patience is appreciated, and that I'm an excellent instructor.
  2. I was able to take my family to the circus, thanks to my blogging efforts!
  3. I created the time to hang out with a friend, in real life, at Starbucks with our 2 year olds, while our boys attended VBS. It felt great to just sit and talk -- with only one child each to watch over and not worry about cleaning house in order to visit. There's something wonderful about being able to look someone in the face while talking -- and not having a phone or computer screen between us.
Head on over & share your small successes!

Review: Ringling Circus

We had the absolute pleasure of attending the Ringling Circus last night as it passes through Phoenix this week. Our kids have never been to the circus, and both my husband and I hadn't been since we were young kids, so everyone was looking forward to it.

We had a fantastic time! There wasn't one moment of boredom during the entire performance. In fact, when they announced intermission, my oldest said "You mean there's even MORE??" and was thrilled when I told him there was.

The performers showed amazing physical skills, and the magic tricks that were throughout the "Zing Zang Zoom!" show were great. C likes to practice magic, and was thoroughly impressed with a number of the tricks -- including one where a person in a suspended box became a tiger. He told me that he knows there is distraction involved in magic tricks, so he tried hard to concentrate but still was stumped by a number of the tricks.

I think I was most amazed by the athleticism of the performers! From the dancing clowns, to the tight rope, to the flipping through the air -- it was all exciting and fun to watch. N got this great photo of the people directly across from us in the arena. You can see the amazement and awe on everyone's face!

L was thrilled with the elephants and tigers, and couldn't believe there were so many elephants parading across the stage.

I can't recommend the circus enough, and know that I will definitely go again when they return in the future. If you're in Phoenix -- they're in town all weekend! Head over to Ticketmaster and use the code "MOM" in the MC Promotion box to purchase 4 tickets for $44. (You can purchase additional tickets for only $11 as well - but you have to purchase at least 4.)

Many thanks to Mom Central and Feld Entertainment for sending my family to the circus this year. We had a wonderful time, and it was a great treat for us all!! It was also fun to see another local mom blogger -- Geri! She was looking lovely, as always!

I also got to see the winner of my 4 pack of tickets! She had seats just a few rows in front of ours. Here she is with her daughter at the circus last night --

Tell Me Thursday - Home

This picture was taken in our new office. The french doors let in plenty of light, and L's play housefits perfectly in that corner (until we finish her room.) The bookcase is the one I wrote about buying from Ikea and it perfectly covers up a door that used to lead from our bedroom onto the patio.

L absolutely loves playing in her house, and will often go in there, play with the knobs on her stove and yell "DINNERTIME BOYS!!" and expect them to come running. LOL!

Tell Me Thursday is for all the folks who play Wordless Wednesday -- but want to share the story behind their picture/s!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Home

Play along at Wordless Wednesday!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Money Saving Monday #15

No room addition stories today! (We're not finished yet, but that had a lot to do with the fact I worked out of the house all week, and I was feeling a bit complacent since my computer is in the new space. I haven't really looked at the mess our old office is in!)

Today my "Money Saving Monday" tip is to know your target price when shopping! I used to keep a price list, and while I still think they are a fantastic tool, I confess that when I lost mine in a computer crash I haven't recreated one again.

I do, however, keep some target prices in my head so I know a good deal when I see one. Everyone's target prices will be different -- based on your budget and the area you live in -- but it's a good idea to know what yours are.

I won't spend more than $2.50/box for cereal. That is my target price, and my kids know that as well. Of course, I prefer buying cereal for less than that (coupons help!) but I won't go over.

For packaged cookies, my target price is $2/package. For canned soda, it's $2.50 a 12 pack. For 5 lb bags of sugar, it's $1.50.

When I notice something below my target price, I try to stock up (if I have the room in my budget and my pantry.) Around the holidays, sugar and flour are always discounted, so I try to stock up. I keep the extra flour in the freezer, and the sugar in Tupperware to keep it bug-free.

Target prices don't work for everything. We drink 2 - 3 gallons of milk a week, so while I would love to set a target price for milk, since I buy it every week it can be difficult.

In order to set a target price, you need to know what sale prices and normal prices are in your area, as well as what coupons are usually available for different products. My husband may think he wants to set a target price of $1/box for cereal - but then he would never eat cereal because I have only got it that low once for his favorite cereal in the last few years.

Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! Cereal is my favorite cereal. I was excited last week to find that if I used the code "KASHNTRL" and signed up for Subscribe & Save at Amazon, the per box price was $2.50. I stocked up last time Target had it at that price - but was literally on my last bowl when I found this deal!

Which is another tip - don't limit yourself to grocery stores for food shopping. Target & Amazon sometimes have the best deals for certain items. I find that I can often meet or beat my target price for packaged snack items at Target.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Look Good . . . Feel Better

My mother-in-law died of bone cancer just over a year ago, after beating breast cancer a few years prior. When I heard about the Look Good . . . Feel Better site from Mom Central, I was intrigued enough to check it out.

They are a public service, non-brand affiliated service that helps women (as well as teens and men!) dealing with cancer to feel better about themselves during and after their treatment. They provide free cosmetic and hair counseling, as well as skin care and makeup tips, to help them deal with the changes in their appearance brought about by cancer treatment.

Look Good . . . Feel Better is celebrating their 20th year of service this year, and are hosting an essay contest on their website. They are reaching out to cancer survivors to share their stories of hope, determination and courage in order to help others going through similar situations. Five women will be chosen for the "Women of Hope is Beautiful" campaign and be featured on the website as well as winning a trip to New York City, where they will have a fabulous makeover.

I think this is an amazing organization, and I am happy to help spread the word about their mission and their contest through my blog. Thanks to Mom Central for letting me know about them! I don't think my mother-in-law was aware of them, but I do hope that this organization can continue to help boost the self-esteem of individuals fighting cancer.

Happy Father's Day 2009

If I was a little more organized, I'd have a photo of my dear hubby with each of our children, but here he is the day our youngest was born.

He is a wonderful father who is hands-on, involved and ever-loving. I couldn't have made a better choice in the man to father my babies.

He works tirelessly to care for his family, and strives to be gentle and kind in all his actions.

He is a wonderful example of caring for others, and always taking the time to say hello or helping out another person.

His idea of a perfect Father's Day was to spend the morning building an awning for our back door, and then taking the family to see a family movie and then out to dinner. Back at home, he read to the boys before bed, comforted our daughter when she woke up, and then even went out to pick up Coldstone for the 2 of us after the kids were all in bed.

I knew when I met him he would be a great father. Every day, he shows me again and again just what a fantastic dad he is. Happy Father's Day, honey!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Review: The Lace Makers of Glenmara

I was delighted to receive an advance copy of The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri. Mother Talk asked if I was interested in reviewing the book, and I quickly said yes when I read that the main character heads off for Ireland. Part of my heritage is Irish, and I've always wanted to visit Ireland.

This is a great summer read! The main character, Kate, heads off to Ireland after a broken engagement. She pretty much wanders into a town where she proceeds to stay and begins to build a new life for herself - while bringing some sparkle and excitement to the town.

While there is talk of the scenery, the book focuses on the characters. I liked getting to know about the personalities of this small town, and found myself cheering some of them, while shaking my head at others.

I wasn't sure what I was going to learn about lace, and I won't spoil the book by telling you. Be assured, though, that you'll gain more respect for women who toil over bits of handmade lace!

I started reading this before bed one night, and found myself carrying it with me over the next few days so I could find out where the story took her. It's a light story - nothing dramatic or crude or questionable - and thoroughly enjoyable.

When I told my sister about it, her only complaint was that the character decided to travel after being jilted. She thinks that women should go off on travel adventures just because (hmmm, I wonder if that's why she's currently booking that cruise to the Amazon?)

I've already passed my copy on to a friend looking for a good summer read, and she is enjoying it as well.

*I received a copy of the book from Mother Talk, and will also receive a gift certificate in exchange for my honest review.*

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Small Successes (Vol 22)

I really like Danielle's "Small Successes" idea, and have meant to keep up with posting on Thursdays, but realize I haven't done so in a while. So . . . here are my small successes for this week!

  1. Everyone ate regular meals. This meant going out a couple times, but nobody went hungry this week!
  2. I met every deadline I had this week, prior to the one I missed this morning.
  3. We moved our computers into our new office space. (Let's not talk about the mess still remaining in our old office space . . . )
Hmmmm, I think I need to work more on focusing only on the successes! Off to read about others' small successes!

Tell Me Thursday - Toes

This picture is of my middle child, about 3 years ago. We decided to take a summer break, and checked into a local hotel with a water park. This shot was taken while we were tubing around their lazy river.

It was a wonderful weekend, and one we've talked about repeating, but haven't. I love how his toes are sticking up, and he looks completely relaxed and at peace. I came across this picture this week, and have been thinking about making a reservation ever since.

Tell Me Thursday is for all the folks who play Wordless Wednesday -- but want to share the story behind their picture/s!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Circus Ticket Winner!!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-06-17 06:26:03 UTC

Thanks to . . . the winner for a 4-pack of circus tickets . . . is . . .

COMMENT #8 - Wendy!!

Wendy, I'll be in touch soon & I hope you all enjoy the circus!

Thanks to all who entered! If you didn't win, but still want to go to the circus in Phoenix, I can offer you a great discount code! Use the code "MOM" at in the MC Promotion box to purchase 4 tickets for $44. Additional tickets can be purchased for only $11 each! (ticketing and venue fees still apply)

And a big thanks to Mom Central and the circus folks for making this giveaway possible!

Wordless Wednesday - Toes

Play along at Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 15, 2009

Money Saving Monday #14

Since creating our addition has pretty much consumed all our free time lately, here's another money saving remodeling / redecorating tip!

Last week, we went to Ikea to see what was available. We decided that creating tables with countertops would be the best way to use the room we have available to the best advantage. We found 2 countertops that we liked, but decided to check the prices at Home Depot and Lowe's before purchasing from Ikea.

After checking the home improvement stores, we realized the best deal was at Ikea. We could get 8 foot lengths of countertop for $59/each, and the legs would be $5/each.

Saturday, we headed over to Ikea with the intention of purchasing the countertops, legs, and a few other things for the office. We wound our way through the store, reserved our countertops, picked up a new bookshelf (which fits perfectly in the space where a door used to be!), found the legs, and a couple other things. (Oh, and we ate swedish meatballs. yum!)

Our last stop at Ikea is always the "As-Is" section. You never know what amazing deals you might find -- we have purchased bookshelves, beds, and other items at 50 - 80% off in the past. On Saturday, we saw 4 eight-foot lengths of countertop! It wasn't the countertop we had decided upon, but it was the other one we liked.

They were marked 51% off, which meant that the money we saved by choosing these countertops paid for the bookshelf.

My tip for today is to always search for the deals, and have an open mind to change! We had to go back and change the color of the bookshelf and the legs after changing the countertop color, but it was well worth it to us.

DH installed the countertops Sunday morning, and they look great. I'm typing this post from my new work area! And, I've filled half of our new bookshelf already :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Review: The Rosary - Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary

I am very happy to begin sharing reviews for The Catholic Company. They recently sent me The Rosary - Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary by Karen Edmisten to read and review.

The rosary is a special, devotional prayer that I have turned to again and again during my life. I have many memories of a great-grandmother, a grandfather, and another set of grandparents who often prayed the rosary and were open about their rosary beads. As a child and young adult, I knew it as a comforting prayer - and an ordinary one. Ordinary meaning that there was no special reason to pray the rosary, it was just something that was part of a daily routine.

As an adult, I finally learned the "proper" way to say the rosary -- complete with mysteries. I had only known the prayers and wasn't aware (until I read it in a pamphlet) that the mysteries were to be announced before each decade. I have rosaries tucked in places around my house, and often found myself praying a few decades while nursing or holding my children as babies.

I thoroughly enjoyed Karen Edmisten's book about the rosary. I found it almost funny that she only glanced over the mysteries, as that was something that took me many years to fully incorporate into my rosaries. That's not to say that she didn't share the importance of them, and that they are an integral part of the prayer -- it's just that she didn't delve deeply into any of the mysteries.

It wasn't a problem, because her book gave an excellent history and explanation of this most wonderful prayer. She also dispelled some very common myths. And, I especially appreciated her discussion of the repetition of prayers within the rosary, and how that repetition can help deepen the prayer.

What I enjoyed most was her gentle, non-judgmental approach. After reading this book, I want to say the rosary more often. While there are many different variations and prayers that some include in their rosary, the rosary can also be a very simple prayer made up of just a few prayers. If your heart is in the right place, you can't mess up a rosary!

I highly recommend this book to any Catholic who wants to understand more about the rosary. Even as a cradle Catholic, I learned a few things!

This review was written as part of the Catholic book Reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on The Rosary - Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary.

Giveaways Still Open!

I have two fun giveaways still open on my blog right now.

Are you in the Phoenix area? Then you MUST try to win circus tickets! Click here to head on to my post and leave a comment for a chance to win four circus tickets.

Are you just a tiny bit crafty? Click here and read about the double dare I threw down! Accept the dare, let me see your results, and you might win an Amazon gift certificate! I extended the deadline for this one, as some let me know that they wanted to play along, but needed some more time.

Good Luck!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

ups & downs

Yesterday, a friend and her kids came over to swim. At one point we were joking that if her 2yo went under water, I would have to jump in and save him. And then about 10 minutes later, her 2yo DID step off the baja step and go under. And, I DID jump in to pull him up. That'll teach me to go pool-side in my clothes with my phone in my pocket!

Thankfully, he's just fine and was only under for a few seconds.

A few weeks ago, I noticed my laptop was acting wonky. I had let my online backup service lapse, so I renewed it and tried to back up my laptop & 2 external drives. One external drive kept hanging the backup process, and failed before it backed up anything. I was sure it was toast, and that I lost the pictures and old documents I had stored on there.

DH finally had a free moment to look at it and discovered the power supply was bad. All my data is safe!

I was scheduled to teach a 2 day class that pays a bit higher than usual and was psyched about the opportunity. Then, I agreed to teach another class, and as a result, was pulled off the 2 day class in exchange for a 1/2 day class. I was pretty disappointed about losing the potential fee.

Then, my sitter called to let me know she wasn't available those 2 days after all. It'll be easier to find someone to watch the kids for a 1/2 day vs. 2 full days, so it actually works out!

Most times, it takes longer for things to cycle from bad to good, but that cycle seemed to speed up this week!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pets Without Poop! LOL!

Mom Select and the company that makes Go Go Pets asked if we'd throw a party to introduce Go Go Pets to the Phoenix area. We're not the type of family to turn down a party, so we invited 9 friends over on May 28 to share these fun toys.

The tagline of "Pets without Poop!" cracks me up! But, it's the perfect tagline for these small, mechanical hamsters. They make sounds, move around, and seem to explore their environment -- just like a real hamster might do. The beauty of these pets, however, is that there is no cage to clean, no food to buy, and no rattling noises in the middle of the night!

We were sent 11 hamsters to pass around to our friends, and a set of habitats for the creatures to play in.

It took about an hour to remove everything from the packaging and set up all the habitats, but the kids that came over had a great time playing! They were very interested in how the hamsters were able to crawl through the tunnels, drive the little car, and zoom around on our floors. The habitats all connected to one another, so it made for a rather large toy.

The hamsters are currently available in the Phoenix, AZ area, but will be available nationwide in the coming months. The hamsters retail for about $7 each, while the habitats vary in price from $10 - $20.

I think the pets themselves were a hoot to play with, and I can definitely see the fun of having one or two of the playsets. My favorite was a small car that the hamster zooms into, and then appears to drive around the floor. To buy all the sets would take up quite a bit of room, since they don't easily break down again, so you'd have to have a large playroom in order to enjoy multiple habitats.

My video camera battery was dead the day of the party, but I did take a video of my boys playing and recorded some of their thoughts. We had a fun party, my kids enjoyed the creatures, and they have continued to play with the pets since the party.

Thanks to Mom Select and Cepia for letting us be part of this tour! We had a blast.

Tell Me Thursday - Tide Baby

I took this picture of my youngest last week. She is a grimy, messy, dirty child. LOL! A day doesn't go by when she doesn't need at least 2 baths and 2 changes of clothing. I'm not sure what she spilled down her pajama top, but her face (and hands and legs and feet) were covered in dirt from digging outdoors.

She's always happy, and doesn't care at all about the mess. I call her my "Tide Baby" from those old Tide laundry detergent commercials. I use more Borax and OxyClean and Spray and Wash on her clothes than I have EVER used on both the boys.

So, once again -- here's my Tide Baby!

Tell Me Thursday is for all the folks who play Wordless Wednesday -- but want to share the story behind their picture/s! Head on over and read about the contest they're running for a new Flip HD video camera!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Tide Baby

Play along at Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Circus is Coming!

The wonderful ladies at Mom Central and the great folks at Feld Entertainment are sending my family to the circus!

We are thrilled for the opportunity to check out the Ringling Bros. & Barnum Bailey circus when it tours Phoenix in a few weeks. Both B & I have fond memories of going to the circus when we were kids, and haven't yet had the opportunity to take our children.

That will change on June 24, though! We recently went to a circus-themed birthday party, and a dvd of the circus was playing during the festivities. N was entranced by the acrobats, and when I told him we'd see them live in a few weeks, he was thrilled!

If you're in the Phoenix area, you can purchase 4 tickets for the low price of $44! Enter the code "MOM" in the MC Promotion box at You can purchase additional tickets for just $11/each. (Special pricing not valid on VIP or ringside seats, cannot be combined with other discount offers. Service charges, facility fees, and ticketing charges all apply.)

Opening night is Wednesday, June 24 at 7PM. The circus also performs:

Thursday June 25: 11:00am, 7:00pm
Friday June 26: 11:00am, 7:00pm
Saturday June 27: 11:00am, 3:00pm, 7:00pm
Sunday June 28: 1:00pm, 5:00pm

And now, for the best part! I have 4 tickets to give away to one lucky family in the Phoenix area for opening night (June 24!) Leave a comment below and let me know a favorite memory of yours from a circus. You can earn extra entries by linking to this post, or tweeting a link to this post.

Comments will be open until Tuesday, June 16, 2009. I will draw a winner and contact them first thing on the 17th.

This giveaway is only valid for families in the Phoenix metro area, who are able to attend the show on June 24, 2009.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Money Saving Monday #13

In the post below, I showed you how we're coming along on our addition. On Sunday, the tile floor was laid and will be grouted on Tuesday! Yea :)

But, this is "Money Saving Monday" and not "More Space Monday", so I'll get to my tip!

Make the most of everything, and don't assume something needs to be thrown out. In the pictures below, you saw a large opening where our 6 foot sliding glass patio door used to reside. The glass was scratched from our previous dog, but it was not cracked.

Instead of taking it to the dump (or leaving it in the side yard for the next 5 years), I put an ad up on Craigslist and offered the door for sale for $50. Within a few hours, I had at least five emails from people interested in the door. By the next morning, the door was picked up and I had $50 cash in my pocket! The people who bought the door had just cracked one of the glass doors in their own patio door last week, and had been quoted over $400 to replace the glass.

Everyone won! I love the fact that the door will be used and is not sitting in the landfill (or my backyard) and I was able to use the money from the door on decorative tile in our doorway.

If you're remodeling, or just re-arranging, and have things you no longer need - before you put them on the curb or drag them to the dump - consider offering them up on a site like Craigslist!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Addition Update

2 1/2 years ago, when we realized that we wouldn't be moving to a new house, we started to consider our options for increasing our livable space. We considered a full-blown addition -- but the equity we could have used went into the backyard and the pool we decided upon before we knew L was joining our family.

We considered converting our garage into a room, but with no basements, that would mean our limited storage space would become pretty much non-existent.

We considered closing in our back patio. For a variety of reasons, this is what we decided to do. Last summer, DH framed in the room and we contracted with someone to mud and stucco the outside. Then . . . things happened and funds got tight and the room sat.

Thanks to a few different blessings, we were able to get started again and our room is almost complete. We decided to cut a few cosmetic corners, but the room will make a great office for us and L will have her own room.

Thanks to DH's amazing handyman skills (he ran the ductwork for hvac system, ran the electrical, framed the entire room, insulated & installed drywall, painted, etc.), careful shopping, bartering and some pure luck - closing in the patio was an extremely affordable solution to tight spaces.

Here are some pictures to show our current status. We still need to lay the tile, but once that is completed, we can begin moving our office into our new room.

One of the 3 new light fixtures in the addition. We have 2 of these track lights, and a new sconce by the doorway. You can still see the orginal window on the left that is over our kitchen sink. Our original plan had been to cover that window and drywall that wall -- but we decided to leave it for now.

Shot of the room, painted. This is some of the "oops!" paint I wrote about last week.

That big opening used to be a 6 foot sliding glass patio door. Bo will finish it, but it will stay open between the office and kitchen. You can also see the exterior door that went from our patio to our bedroom. Another cosmetic thing that we were going to cover, but decided wasn't in the budget for now.

Painting the exterior to match the rest of the house. You really can't tell from the outside that it used to be a patio!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Listen to Me!!

I've been posting over at Moms Love Shopping since late 2008, and have had a wonderful time working with Chele, who is the main mom over there! She's an absolute sweetie, and a dream to work with.

She has started her weekly podcasts again, and I was lucky enough to be her guest this week!! Head on over to this post to listen to me talk about my new Frigidaire refrigerator!

It was so much fun talking with her! I had offered to pay the boys $1 each to watch Lydia while we chatted, but she ended up in the office with me for 90% of the interview. You can hear her in a few spots, and you can hear me huff a bit -- which was because I was trying to keep her quiet and was shifting her from hip to hip.

Oh, well, it was still a blast and I loved having the chance to talk with Chele. Usually everything we do is via email or twitter -- so it was nice to hear her voice.

I'll be posting more details about my refrigerator in the next couple weeks -- it should be delivered soon!

Thursday, June 04, 2009


A month or so ago, we were working on table manners and I mentioned that the boys should keep their elbows off the table. N asked "Why?" and I had to admit that I didn't have a good explanation! It was just considered good manners to keep your elbows off the table.

He then said "Well, I think you should google it."

Instead, I asked my Facebook friends and received a variety of answers -- and then I did google it myself :)

Some people think it's a silly rule and don't enforce it in their family. Others enforce it "because."

I did find some possible reasoning behind the original rule, and shared all the responses / reasons with my boys. One of the thoughts was that in medieval times, people sat on long benches to eat, so they often sat very close together. If you ate with your elbows on the table, chances are your elbow would be in your neighbor's meal! N and C both thought that was hilarious. Tables in medieval times also had a long trestle underneath, and if a person leaned their elbows on the table, could tip the table and all the food would crash to the floor. Another amusing picture!

Even though we sit on chairs, and our table is a sturdy, 4-legged one, we've also decided to follow the old tradition just "because." There are some rules in society that are expected, and it's really not a difficult one to follow.

As a reminder, I sing a little ditty I found somewhere on the web -- "N & C, strong & able, take your elbows off the table!" It's light-hearted and fun, and makes both boys smile and laugh as they remove their elbows.

What about your family? Elbows off? Elbows on? No worries either way?

Wendy's Frosty Father's Day

Mmmmmm, I love to treat myself to a Wendy's Frosty! Did you know that for every Frosty sold during Father's Day weekend, Wendy's donates 50 cents to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption? The money raised helps fund full-time adoption recruiters through Wendy's Wonderful Kids program. They help connect parents with foster care children needing homes.

If you and your children head over to Frosty's Card and make a free e-card for dad, 25 cents will be donated to the program. I showed the site to my boys, and they each designed a card and included a certificate for their dad, which will be emailed to him a couple days before Father's Day.

Did you know that there are over 500,000 children in the foster care system, and 150,000 of them are available for adoption in North America? The Dave Thomas Foundation's vision statement is that every child will have a permanent home and loving family. Their mission is to dramatically increase the number of adoptions of waiting children from North American's foster system.

Won't you help? Take everyone you know out for a Frosty the weekend of June 20 - 21 and help raise more money for this amazing organization. Kids all over North America will thank you!

Many thanks to Mom Central for letting me know about this program, and asking me to blog about it. This is a sponsored post, and I will receive a gift card to Wendy's in exchange for posting.

Tell Me Thursday - Eyes Squeezed Shut

And, now for the story behind my "Wordless Wednesday" shot -- brought to you by the fun gals who run "Tell Me Thursday!"

This is a shot of my 2 boys on a ride at Las Vegas' Circus Circus Adventuredome. They didn't see the ride run before they ran up the steps to climb on and I'm pretty sure they had NO idea that it spun around while sliding up and down a large ramp.

They were holding on for dear life!! And, surprisingly enough, they didn't want to ride it again! LOL!

If you had a Wordless Wednesday photo up, explain your picture today and link back to Tell Me Thursday! While you're there, check out their awesome contest for a new Flip HD video camera!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Eyes Squeezed Shut

Play along at Wordless Wednesday

Monday, June 01, 2009

Money Saving Monday #12

I'm headed into another busy week (still searching for balance), but I didn't want to lose my Monday momentum :)

Thankfully, you got all the back story about our addition last week, so I can quickly tell you another money saving tip for remodeling!

Watch your local home improvement store's paint aisles for "oops!" paint. Every wall in our home that we've repainted since moving in (and even the exterior trim) has been "oops!" paint.

This is paint that someone returned, or didn't pick up, so the store marks it down (usually 50%) since it's a pre-mixed, custom color.

It can take months to find paint that works -- but if you're patient -- it'll show up. We check out both Home Depot and Lowe's regularly for paint that may work for us. We've painted both boys' rooms, our bedroom & bath, the living room, the kitchen and the exterior trim.

And, we picked up 2 gallons for our new addition. B did mix in a gallon of white to lighten up the color, but it's on the walls and looks great. It's similar enough to the kitchen walls that it flows nicely.

If they only have one gallon, you can buy another (if needed) and have them match the color. I think we did that for the kitchen. We still saved on the initial gallon, so it was worth it.

And, no, our house isn't all white! The boys have blue, we have 2 shades of blue, our bath is yellow, our living room is 2 shades of tan, as is our kitchen.

Have fun saving money this week! (And, Kraig, I promise to try & get some pictures up later this week!)
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