Sunday, November 28, 2010

Only one more month left in 2010. What a year, we have renovated and rented a home, and started another. We have faced unemployment and happy to report got our employment back.
As for this month its been packed like all months. Indoor soccer started. Courtney took a round of swimming lessons. I have been de-cluttering like crazy. Jack has been busy at our old home getting it plumped and wired as well as adjusting back to working.
Read on and enjoy! and I hope you enjoy the holiday season ahead!
Craigs list update

You might remember this photo from last month. It was our first craigs list sale. Since then I am happy to report I have sold over $500 worth of stuff on craigslist and my home is feeling a sigh of relief because of it. I have also sold close to $50 on my facebook page photo album that is designated for my first dibs loving friends.
I still have roughly half a dozen or so items that I could currently sell on craigslist and probably will list them again next Saturday, and then I have some seasonal stuff that will have to wait to spring, biking accessories and such don't sell well in winter.
I read in one of my FREE magazines (remember coke point article from earlier month) that the average home has roughly $700 in unused stuff lying around.
Well apparently my home is not average cause to date I have made almost $2000 selling unused stuff in our home. Its a mixture of pride and embarrassment to me, pride cause it feels so good to get rid of it and make a bit back for my efforts (heck sometimes I sell the items for more than I paid) but embarrassment cause that tells me I really have not done a good job of keeping up with the flow of stuff in and out of our home!
But I am going to push on, its a part of my weekly routine now, and hopefully it stays that way, even when I get reno-ing with Jack again, I am hoping to spend a few hours a week dealing with selling excess.
And the stockings were hung on the Stairs!

Jack wrapping the tree in red lights. We finally replaced the "Walgreen's purchased in dire emergency cause mommy accidental threw the tree out the window tree" with a target $7 January clearance find! That is much less charlie brown looking! the other still sits in my basement for next years yard sale season.
Jack trimming the staircase in trimmings, I love it always dreamed of doing up a open stair case this way, so when Jack and I saw them on sale 75% off last year we grabbed them. I don't think they will last more than a season or perhaps two if we are really lucky they are a bit to delicate for our crew.

Courtney and Aiden decorating the tree. Besides the lights and the red beaded garland I let them decorate the tree this year, and I have not even moved a decoration yet, they choose a mix of my homemade balls, red apples and silver bells. Looks great!

I also let the kids put out the Christmas village 100% by themselves this year as well. They purchased it for me from the dollar store when we first moved here. All three of them took great care deciding what pieces should go to make it a believable village. I promised them some fake snow, got to pick it up my next trip to Walmart.

Our stairwell. It shocked me that my husband suggested putting white cup hooks in the wood work on the stairs to hold the stockings. Normally we argue over placing anything on the walls cause he hates repairing holes. I seriously have very little art on the wall due to this. But he brought it up and after I got up from fainting over his unlike him suggestion, I said go for it. I love how it looks. We tried the fire place last year with those stocking holders that you place on the mantel but my kids kept knocking them off and one of them dented the floor, so they got sold in this summers round of yard sales.

It is tradition in our house the last few years since Courtney was old enough to voice her very strong opinion (so much like her mother, I can admit it) to decorate either Thanksgiving day or the day after thanksgiving. Ever since the tree out the window incident, I don't have any problems getting my husband to help, its less effort to help than to replace a window I suppose. (I promise you I in no way dropped the tree down those stairs and out the window as a strategy to insure my husbands decorating help, cause who wants to spend 45 mins in the freezing cold cleaning up glass while their then pre-schooler shouts at them, "when is the tree getting up mommy, when when")
But it seems to me that every year Jack and I do less and less of the decorating and the kids do more and more. I love it that way! they get so excited! it really puts them in the Christmas mood.
There are certain items I still won't let them un-box like my willow tree nativity and the stain glass nativity Jack's mom made. But the rest if fair game for their placement, and once it is all out we all enjoy it greatly.
Now it has me so looking forward to the month ahead. With Christmas plays, cookie decorating parties, staff parties, family shopping day, and then the big day itself!

My new toy that inspired my new craft

Courtney's is the pink one mine is in the bag!
So last winter Jack bought himself the i-pod touch (32GB) with his Christmas money. Then this summer Courtney, my super saver child, bought herself one with her Christmas money, chore money and birthday money (8GB).
I drooled and , I itched over their i-pods BUT I WAITED. Why, you ask? No it wasn't cause I didn't have the money, it was because I heard a rumor. I heard that mac was making an i-pod with a camera and a HD video recorder and I wanted that for my blogging (ya still got to figure it out maybe next month I can bless you with a video of the kids) .
They came out just as Jack lost his job, so I waited some more knowing I could use the saved money for bills if need be. But, then he got his job back and my money was still there.
I grabbed my red head runner, and we headed to town that very next week, and I got it! and I love it! and it is so much fun! and now my hubby feels undone! cause his i-pod ain't as cool as mine! but that's fine!
(sorry felt the need to do some rhyming, but oh I do love it!)
I of course got the screen protector on it, but still I didn't like it rattling in my purse, and I was too broke from purchasing it to get it a cover, so I used my crocheting skills and made it one, then I made Courtney one, and now I am going to make a few more!
A night to ring in the Christmas season Just the little chick and me!

where did we get such a haul of candy you ask?
Well here is a hint!

Here is another! A float done Mid-west style

And here is my little chick done up all warm for an evening of fun!
As you probably guessed by the pictures above, Courtney got all that candy from our town's annual Christmas parade, held the weekend before Thanksgiving.
The boys this year opted to go to a friends house for the afternoon and evening. But Courtney loves parades, not for the floats, she barely looks at those, nope I got a gal with a serious sweet tooth on my hands, she goes for the free candy!
She runs after it, she scoops it up, she searches out who will be the next to throw it off the side of passing floats, and she even takes what bag to collect it in very seriously, it has to have a sturdy handle and open easily so she can stuff all that sweet goodness in fast!
Now I didn't let her keep all this for herself, it went in the candy bucket, that the kids are allowed to choose from when they get 100% on their spelling test, or math assignment. But, I did let her keep her few favorites in a separate spot just for her, since she did do all the work!
I on the other hand love watching the floats, there is just something about seeing Santa on the fire truck to kick you in the Christmas mood.

What I have been doing while waiting for walls
I am happy to report that this coming week a wall or two should be put back up in our old house. Jack got the plumbing and electrical done. This reno. project doesn't have much for me to do, until painting that is, and what Jack has been doing has been kicking up too much dust for me to get started with painting.
So as I have been waiting, I have had afternoons free, that use to be spent renoing, or catching up on what needs to be done at home, cause I have been renovating the previous day.
When we renovate, I tend to live by a priority system, kids educated, food bought and served, money matters taken care off and clean clothes and a clean bathroom. Those are my priorities, but as most of you know there is more than that to keeping up a home.
The kids are great about pitching in doing dishes and sweeping vacuuming and wet mopping floors, and such for their allowance, but they are not so great at sorting stuff! and stuff seems to come out of the woodwork in modern day life.
Our attic had become a sea of piles of outgrown, no longer using, or no longer usable STUFF!!!
So I have spent the last few months between reno's sorting stuff, selling stuff, and re-boxing stuff.
Now I can proudly say, you can walk down all three wings of our attic. Well at least you could till Thursday when we got all the Christmas stuff out!
Man stuff work, is just as bad as housework! Its never done!!!
Our New Golden Egg

Jack works with this man, who loves to garden, and thinks it is fun to keep chickens. Now this man is single, and he can't possibly eat all he grows nor can he use all the eggs his chickens produce, so we are blessed to enjoy the benifits of his labor. Courtney was thrilled to find out that daddy was going to be bringing home farm fresh eggs and wanted to experience collecting eggs right that very minute. We waited till the next morning, and then she and daddy headed out to get a dozen.

She came home with a smile that was almost bigger than her face, and a dozen eggs, of which dad proceded to fry up 3 for his breakfast!

Meet Golden Survivor

At our church's "trunk or treat" Courtney was given this fish by one of the participating "trunks". I was not very amused as we have not had very much luck with these penny fishes lasting very long, and when they expire there are many tears.
In the past, right after the fish is given there is the trip to get a bowl and some rocks, a plastic tree and food and the penny fish becomes a rather expensive free gift. Then within a week the fish dies and the accessories end up getting tossed.
This time I appear to have hit either a good fish or a good system for fish survival. (just you wait however, the thing will expire tommorow and I will have to retract this article).
It has been 5 weeks since we were given this fish, and it is surviving in a canning jar with decorator rocks in the bottom. I use a plastic spoon to fish it out come jar changing time. where it is moved to canning jar number 2 with the another few decorator stones placed in the bottom.
It surivives of a diet of "brewer's yeast". Now many of you my not be familar with the stuff, and no I am not brewing anything in my home. Brewers yeast is a salty flake type substance that is a very high natural source of iron, and iron is something this pale white gal is consistantly low in.
So I figured if I throw this stuff on salad cause of its high vitamin and mineral content, and it is making my coat shiny! perhaps it will make the fish shine too. And it is, it loves the stuff. So much so that I never have gotten around to getting it the "fish food" he is suppose to eat.
So what started out as a mom being cheap, and pesimistic, is turning out to be a great way to make a free fish thrive!!!
A Work Visa and a Trip all in One Week

Jack got his work visa, the beginning of November, just as we were about to receive our last vacation pay check. Now if this wasn't a God thing, I don't know what is. The government managed to get our work visa paper work done a whole 30 plus days early! True miracle!
Because of the perfect timing, we never did go without a pay check. And Jack got just over a month off to de-stress and enjoy.
He was of course still upset that the whole overlooking of dates meant, he was unable to go to his folks party, so when he found out his dad was going to be just over a half days drive for a week, he was praying his work schedule would allow for a few days to go up and see him. And it did! he got a 4 day weekend, something that well NEVER HAPPENS. He didn't ask his boss at all for the time off since he had just had so much time off, and yet as I believe, God took care of it.
Since his aunt and uncle were hosting a wedding that weekend we both felt it would not be right to intrude with the whole zoo of 5. So he choose Thomas to go with him.
I invited a friend over for a sleepover for both of the other kids, and spent the whole weekend coughing my head off with what I think has been the worst chest cough I have ever had three weeks later and its still there.
The two of them enjoyed themselves though, and went to Niagara falls one day ( I still have not gotten there). Jack enjoyed catching up with his dad, and his aunt and uncle and cousins, and I am still hearing stories of the wedding he and Thomas crashed.
They brought me home smarties and tim-bits, which of course melted my chocolate loving, sour creme donut loving, heart!

Crafting Christmas

These are my second biggest seller's after wash clothes I make 3 variation's including the shown hipster, a toddler purse with no flap, and a teddy bear purse all inspired by Courtney, as she has grown. Funny story behind these purses (and my first potholders) is that they are not really crocheted at all, but a made up very sturdy and tight stitch, that I thought was single crochet, it wasn't until two years later that I meet someone who could crochet and she looked at what I was doing and said it was simply slip stitching. OH WELL the goof makes a very nice sturdy purse for little girls!
My number one seller, I must sell over 100 of these every year with the majority of them sold at Christmas time. I can make these in the dark now, (seriously I have when Jack and I are driving somewhere at night, that is how little I look at the needles) .

My Favorite part of Crafting, making gifts. I love piling my homemade items into an arrangement of sorts and tying the in ribbon, or placing them in a basket with home baked items, or in a baking pan and putting a trivet underneath.
I love to craft. It is a talent that helps me to sit still and listen to others. Its a talent that helps me to relax. Its a talent that makes me feel productive. Its a talent that gives me something to do when I am nothing but a ball of nerves. I remember visiting mom when she was ill and coming home with dozens of dish clothes just cause I needed something to do to help me be strong in front of her, so many dish clothes in fact that security laughed at it all as they were searching my bags for my voyage home (oh and word of wisdom, don't try to take home Christmas crackers cause the thing that makes them boom is detected as explosives and your bags will be thoroughly searched by security, very embarrassing!!!)
Crafting however can be expensive, and I have meet many a man, or woman for that matter who complains about the cost of their mates hobby. I didn't want my hobby to be a drain, so when others would tell me that they loved my handiwork and wished they could have some for their ............ I told them I would sell them some for their...................... and soon, little by little my stress relieving habit became fully funded.
And that to me is such a blessing, cause as my little crafting business is blessed, I am able to bless more of my loved ones with, wedding gifts, shower gifts, baby gifts, thank you gifts, I love you gifts, I am think of you gifts, thanks for visiting gifts, birthday gifts and hostess gifts, and giving these gifts is a gift that blesses my heart.

Doesn't everyone shop for Halloween Costumes a week after Halloween.

Here in the Huizinga household, we don't believe in spending a lot of time or money on Halloween, but this year I noticed that our choices for costumes were looking very sad. So I waited till a week after Halloween to hit Walmart's 75% off leftover halloween stock, and there was a lot left this year (turns out the next morning they dropped them even further to 90% off but that is usually unheard of!)

So for $15 I outfitted three children for next Halloween, (Thomas got a vampire cape, but he didn't want to dress for the camera, and I respect his teenagehood).

These outfits now sit in my master bedroom closet awaiting next Halloween, so we can hit the trunk or treats and the pumpkin walks a little better dressed in 2011.

Monday, November 1, 2010

October 2010
Wow it has been a busy month. You have 2 pages of reading to do to catch up on all that our family has done, and I even left some things out that I could of talked about.
Jack has been off this entire month, and we have adjusted well to the new normal. Most days it is exactly like he is working cause at first he did a years over due cleaning of his workshop. When he was done that he took a week of to be sick (I don't think he intended this but he just did). Then he got to work on doing demo. on our once home now soon to be rental. He finished that in record time and is now putting the place back together.
Oh and don't forget to come back next month for November's happenings!! and a few things from this month that I left out!!
The kids and I have of course been working through the school year. They enjoyed a few sick days when their sister caught what dad had, but other than that it has been a month of school.
Anyways read all about it below!!!
The Shirt says it All

Please excuse the bad hair day. It is the result of getting up early to hit the meat department at our local Walmart and Meijer so as to get the discounted meat which the butchers mark down early each day.
I saw this shirt in Walmart and had to have it, I know it really means those fighters in black, but I am a "Budget NINJA" I get up early to save over 20% on my families meat. I carry a cosmetic bag full of coupons so that we get 90% of our personal hygiene products for free, as well as save money on many other items.
I sit down every Friday to calculate our weekly earnings, and to pay our bills, and write out the weekly tithe check, and see if we have been overspending or doing a good job of staying in budget.
This is a job I take seriously, my hubby works hard for his pay, and I work hard to make sure its managed well. Sure I add on occasion to my families finances through yard sales, or craft sales or such, but I know that the way I can add the most to it is by saving and being good steward of all that God has blessed us with.
We have Started to Renovate! Again!

This would be the boys old room at our once home now soon to be rental. I know nice window patch. That would be from the boys. My kids and well to be honest jack and I too were very hard on this old fragile home, all the plaster was in delicate shape when we moved in, and that lead to big holes in several walls. Jack tried to patch then but the plaster just kept on falling off in chunks, so we have decided to take the plaster down on the worst walls and replace it with renter friendly wall board.
With Jack not working right now we are making fast process, we are pretty much done with demo. , and Jack got the plumbing done last week and has now started the electrical. We had a lot of the supplies pre-purchased when the home depot in our town was going out of business and selling all sorts of supplies at 50 percent off or more, so it is turning out to be a very cheap way of keeping Jack busy while he is without work.
I will step in on this one once painting needs to be done. Plumbers glue gives me a migraine, and electrical just scares me, and I didn't want to knock down the walls, even though I love doing it, because we lived here once and I set out a lot of mouse poison in this praticular home and never did find one dead mouse, and I don't want to know if those things were in my walls the whole time I lived there. Jack started telling me his findings................but I made him stop!! EWWWWWWWWWWWE!!!

Thomas' last fall soccer season

His team after their last game
Thomas accepting his trophy for runner-up in the play offs

I must say Thomas got really wonderful weather for his last fall soccer season. Around here community leagues stop at grade 8 meaning next year his options for sports are going to be limited. I am trying to sway him towards perhaps trying running with me in a few 5K's (I am not going to start him of with 13.1 mile half marathon's I am not that insane). He runs really well when we do track with the homeschooling group we belong too, and think he might enjoy it. But that will have to wait till spring, I can't see getting my 14 yr old son out in the freezing temperatures that will be arriving in our area soon, plus he still gets to enjoy an indoor soccer season that will start very soon.

His last season was warm weather for every game, with no rain outs. His team won more games than they lost, and even had one game end shortly after half time when his team had 10 goals and the other had zero (around here they stop playing after that). He didn't score any goals but he sure did prevent a few.

Aiden's team did well too, but they lost their first championship game, so no trophy for him this year. He too is playing indoor soccer and has one of his best palls on his team so he is very excited!

What I do most Thursday Afternoons

While my children enjoy close to 2 hours of physical activity under the instruction of future P.E. teachers.....
I grab one of these

And work on these (locker hooked trivets) while chatting with other homeschooling mom's about everything under the sun!

An Afternoon of Pumpkin Carving with Daddy and Friends
Jack and Aiden working on his haunted house pumpkin that earned him a prize!
Courtney and her fall leaf pumpkin

First of all I know you are all saying wow, what great photo's, ya that is because they were taken by my redhead! not me! I was off doing running my fall half marathon with another homeschooling mom, and Jack forgot our camera. My redhead friend was nice enough to e-mail some photo's with me to share on my blog. (oh and if you live in my area I will gladly share her number with you cause she takes great family photo's and her prices are reasonable).
I got so excited when I saw my redhead was hosting a pumpkin carving event, then I saw it was on my fall marathon day,(I book only 2 big races a year one in spring and one in fall to keep me motivated to keep in shape all year). Jack agreed to take the kids however, and turns out there were a few more dad's there as well so he wasn't the only guy!
Thomas stayed home, he thought he was too old for pumpkin carving, I think he just wanted the house to himself for a few hours, which is fine, I totally understand that. Aiden and Courtney came home with big smiles on their faces, I say the party was a hit.

October weather really was nice Honest!
This is how much hail fell in a matter of minutes

This is how big the hail was

October was a beautiful weather month, with the exception of two really bad storms that came and went in a matter of an hour. The wind was horrible, blowing off siding, the hail was so bad it ruined many homes roof's in the area and put holes in a lot of homes (major blessing that all 3 of our homes were spared any damage). The lightening was so loud that it made me jump in fright and normally I like lightening storms. One strike actually hit the power pole just a half block from our home leaving us without power for several hours. But we didn't suffer much, Jack and I cuddled on the couch and watched a movie he had saved on his i-pod touch and the boys played their Nintendo-Ds' and Courtney played games on her very own i-pod touch (she saved from Christmas to her birthday to get it such a saver that child). We took part of dinner over to the home we are currently doing renovations on to rent and cooked it there, then brought it the 5 minute drive back to our home and ate by candle light.
Once the storm had passed Courtney and Aiden ventured outside to play hail baseball, kept them busy for hours.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The loving sacrifices of a Father

This is the TV the father bought
And this is one of the three children watching the TV their father bought

And this is the Father watching his live steaming Netflixs on his 3 by 5 inch ipod screen, while his son watches it on his big flat screen TV he bought. Oh the sacrifices of love a parent makes!
This month we added netflixs to our monthly bills. We were paying around $4 a month for 4 movies out of the redbox each month, and found out that netflix is only $9 a month, and includes not just movies brought to your door in record time (like a day after you order them) but also a huge selection of live streaming movies and TV shows that the whole family can watch using our wireless Internet connection (with no commercials) whenever they wish (well Jack and I that is, the kids have an hour a day till their weekly reading is done, then 2 hrs after that).
Right now we are enjoying the first month FREE. And I of course registered through our mypoints account so I will get 1000 points towards a CVS card, that I will in turn use to buy items for close to free by combining sales and store coupons stacked with manufacturing coupons, OH HOW I LOVE THE BARGAIN WORLD!
So far I give Netflix a thumbs up, their selection of live streaming is awesome their delivery of new releases is lightening speed. Jack is loving that he can watch it in on his ipod while on "the john" shall we say! You should have seen his face when he realized that!! it was priceless!!!

Our church's Trunk or Treat

My little butterfly
Aiden the most powerful wizard makes a hot dog disappear in 3 bites!
My princess daintily sliding!


My princess, my wizard, and my child who stated "he was too old for dress-up" but as you can see from the photo above his own dad wasn't!!
I don't remember churches in Canada doing these but around here Halloween is the perfect time for a church's free trunk or treat, and our church does a great one. With free hot dogs and apple cider, free horse rides, and free slides, free face painting, free petting zoo, and of course lots and lost of FREE CANDY. Yep, the whole evening is free, and it is fun for the whole family.

How I made $10 an hour yesterday

One of my 2010 resolutions was to unload more stuff out of our home than I brought in this year. That is why I have set goals such as those you have read about this year like the couples getaway in early June and the family camping trip in July, all were goals to help me put my energy into de-cluttering our home.
Now with just 2 more months of 2010 left I am stepping things up a notch. My goal, to keep Jack busy on once family home, now soon to be rental, while he is waiting for his work visa to come in.
We have several big items kicking around the old home that needed to be dealt with. Yard sale season is over, and they were to big to eBay so I ventured into the land of Craigslist. I had great success renting our last rental on this website but I have never listed anything else.
We have tried to buy things off it, but it has always been a wild goose chase, as the item has either already been sold when we got there, or its not like it was pictured. Still those goose chases have turned into great date time.
So last Saturday I spent the day dusting off all the big items we no longer use, then I took pictures of them all then I took measurements. That afternoon I posted them all on facebook for one week, so as to give my friends first dibs. Often I have sold things before only to have my friends say "hey, I wanted one of those I would have bought it off you!" so now I try to give them first dibs..
That week I sold a propane heater, which netted me about $5 an hr return for my time. Then this Saturday I sat down to about a 7 hr day of searching craigslist , then listing. So far just 24 hrs later I have sold our old washer for $80 or about $10 an hr when you add in jacks time to rewash it off (he was renovating yesterday so it got dusty) and meet the guy who bought it.
So far I would say I give Craigslist about a 7 out of 10. One great benefit, is it is free to list, and very simple to do. One major downfall, you get no shows (one lady said she would call me back this afternoon to pick up an item she looked at yesterday and she is now 3 hours past when she said she would call for pick up). I have also gotten a really weird e-mail that seemed like a scam to me, so I declined that offer.
For safety reasons, Jack and I choose to post our cell numbers and not our land lines so the kids don't answer potential weird callers. We also took all the items to our renovation home, so that we don't have to give out our home address. We also agreed that I would meet with lady buyers and he will meet with male buyers.
Still my opinion of Craigslist selling over the last 24 hrs is that it is worth it for larger items only.
A beautiful Autumn Night For a Pumpkin Walk
this picture does not do justice to the beautiful sky we saw
How come when I look at all the pumpkins at the bin in Walmart, I don't see this!! sigh...guess I just don't have a creative pumpkin mind.

Courtney and her buddy Landon checking out some of the pumpkins along the lighted path (oh and by the way this is the community path that I bike on and run on alot during the warm weather)

The candy throwing golf cart at the start of the costume parade.

My candy loving little lady who ran to keep up to the candy throwing golf cart above!

The Sweester pumpkin walk has been a tradition in our family for years, often enjoyed with the company of our favorite once neighbors the White's (also the owners of the White's resort, form a summer post, well at least I call it a resort, they call it the backyard).
Sometimes we do the walk in costume, sometimes without. Sometimes the weather is warm, sometimes its freezing. But whatever the weather there is just something about pumpkins all lit up and lined in a row that puts you in a great fall mood.