Sunday, June 5, 2011

April and May 2011

WOW I had so much to write about from the past 2 months that it took 3 pages! you are going to have to click older posts a lot just to get down to the green heading MARCH.

So Go ahead and grab yourself a cuppa, be it whatever you prefer. Cause you are going to need to be sipping on something while doing all that reading.

My only excuse for skipping a month and letting it build up so! Is my to do list has been out of control lately (see how much is written on that one piece of paper above!).

I have been spending every minute that I can painting our renovation home that hopefully by summers end will be our second rental home. When I am not painting, I am catching up laundry (which I also did today as I wrote this all), baking, educating the kids, driving kids to their activities, making meals ahead to be heated on renovating days, and catching up our books.

Oh and the past 2 months I have also been doing a lot of selling excess out of our home. April and May are big months for sales, and I wanted to take full advantage of that.

So read up and catch up!

Track and Field Day Ribbons

Below you will see pictures of my kids in action on homeschooling track and field day.

One of their favorite things about the day is the ribbons afterwards of course.

And cause the numbers in your age group are bound to be smaller in home school co-ops over classes in public schools that means more ribbons for my kids!

Courtney has hers hanging from her chandelier in her room right now!

Highlights of this years Homeschooling Track and Field Day

Diane and I at the finish line, keeping track of who comes first, second, third and fourth. And yes it was a cool day, yet strangely sunny, hence the shades and coats.
Courtney stopping to rehydrate after her race

Thomas flying in the long jump pit, to an age group blue ribbon!

Aiden leaping to a Third

Courtney falling! thankfully the right way!

Thomas with his hair blowing in the wind! MY BOY CAN RUN!

Diane's boy Seth and My Thomas ran neck and neck till Seth thought at the finish line to stick out his arm and win by a finger!

Aiden running his best!

Homeschooling track and field day is always a favorite with my children. Jack usually has the day off so he too gets to take in the event. He held the camera and took the pictures this time. We usually end the day with a trip to the Pizza Hut buffet all you can eat pizza and salad (with coupons of course)

My kids really do have some running and jumping talent! I love watching them compete.

Our Last day of School for the 2010/2011 school year

Around here school gets out the end of May and goes back the beginning of August. This year we finished our year by the middle of May. We are now on half days for the summer break. Which means just 2 hrs a day, and if we get busy having summer fun and the 2 hrs don't get done, I don't stress about it. Usually by the time summer is through we half 20 half days done, which allows me to take 10 bonus days off throughout the year. This system works really well, when you are married to a man that works every other weekend, and prefers to travel during non peak season. We can take off time with Dad in the middle of the school week and not worry about getting behind in our lessons. AND THAT IS JUST ONE OF THE MANY BENEFITS OF HOMESCHOOLING.

This year we ended our year with a field trip to a local Air force museum. All three children found it really interesting. We loved ending school so much this way that I think next year I will plan a never done yet field trip for the end of our next school year.

We may be Frugal but we do use a lawn mowing service

He is called "OUR TEENAGE SON"

Kids Don't Just say the Darnedest things...


Courtney's Easter Egg Hunt

Just a few weeks before Easter, Courtney started asking, "Mom can we have an Easter egg hunt with our friends this year". I at first had this big Easter egg hunt all planned out in my head, but then as it usually does, life took over, walls needed to be painted at the renovation-rental, sales needed to be organized, food needed to be cooked, children needed to be educated, and before I knew it, it was just a few days before Easter.

So I folded my hands and prayed "Lord, I got a little girl, I don't want to let down! Help, is it too late to get an Easter Egg hunt off the ground". And with in seconds, I remembered, I had invited a friend who lives an hour away over to our home that Friday, with her 5 children. I had also invited several of her friends from the area to drop by and share in her company, and between us all we had 12 children of Easter egg hunting age!!!

So after Homeschooling PE, we headed to Walmart where I let Courtney pick out some plastic eggs and some candy to stuff them with. She spent the afternoon, happy as a clown, stuffing eggs in anticipation of her Easter egg hunt the next day with friends.

Once again, to achieve success you don't have to reach the moon, you just have to get up and try.

Thrifty Tip!

I saw this on Good Morning America one morning while running on the treadmill.

If you are like me you like to use products you pay for right to the last drop. I know everyone knows the swish the water in the bottom of the shampoo bottle and then dump it on your head trick, allowing one more shampoo out of the bottle.

But if you are like me you get frustrated with containers like that shown above. You fold, you squeeze, and that gets some of the last of it out, but you are left wondering what is sticking to the walls of the container. Well use some scissors along the top of the bottle and then cut it down the middle and find out like I did. AND BELIEVE ME IT WAS SURPRISING. I had 3 more days of moisturizer out of this container! (which of course was a FREE with coupon sample to begin with)

So you can cut more than coupons to save!
What I love to do at Mornings light!

Below I talk about Jack's new found recreational passion! And I am so glad that after so many years he finally found one that I think is going to stick a while! Cause it makes me feel even more great about mine. Here are a few glimpses of my early morning life.

This is the bike I ride twice a week. while wearing my GPS watch so I can see just how fast I can glide down a hill (22 miles an hr is my personal record). I can't stand to drag it out of the basement each time, so it has a place of honor in our family room all season long.
These are the digs I wear two mornings a week, so that I can build up endurance to swim the first portion of a Triathlon this September! MY FIRST ONE!!!

This is what I look like after going out for a morning run in the rain! Cellphone gets wrapped in a Ziploc baggy so I can call and be rescued if thunder rolls in, but otherwise I love running in the rain!

This is my favorite Bondi band. Worn to keep the sweat from dripping in my eyes. This one says it all, and all in the right order. FIRST I am a wife, THEN I am a mom, AND LAST I am a marathoner cause it makes me better at steps one and two.

These are the books I read for inspiration to dig deeper and to not loose heart when I don't reach that PR (personal record) at my last race.

This is the pony tail that I grew specifically to keep my hair out of the way during all my races. Bonus my hubby loves it, the first day I wore it he couldn't keep his eyes off me, and he was smiling the whole day!

These are the buddies that I have created stronger bonds with along the way, and they are an important reason for why I continue to run! Time with them is precious, they push me to be better not just as a runner but as a wife and a mom and a friend and a neighbor and as a christian. The money I pay for each race is worth it for the friend time I gain with them all.

My Favorite Spot of Summer

This is why I love my front porch.

This is the spot for a summer nap.

This is the spot for board games with my daughter.

This is the spot to read aloud to my children classics they would never choose to read themselves and they end up loving every word of them.

This is the spot for friends to gather and sip sweet tea, and pop on a hot afternoon.

This is the spot to cuddle up with my hubby before the day starts or as it ends, or anytime in between.

This is the spot to watch the sunrise and the sunset.

This is the spot where dreams are dreamt and plans are made to see them come true.

My Great Idea!

Very rarely do I have a idea of my complete own! Usually they are stolen off some other blog. But this idea has worked so well, and I came up with it all on my own.

I got tired of cleaning off the kitchen counter of 6 to 8 various drinking glasses at a time and no one claiming to know whose was whose.

Trying to cut down on germ spreading and dishes, I reached for the dry erase marker and put a spot on a glass and then discovered it rubbed off with a damp cloth just like it does on a dry erase board.

And so the above idea was born, every morning I rid the counter of yesterdays cups and everyone gets a new one with their name on it!

(oh and yes that is the fish from the trunk or treat, still living, still in a canning jar and still surviving off of brewers yeast)

Aiden and His Egg Sandwiches
A while ago Starbucks sent me a coupon to try out their new breakfast sandwiches for FREE. Well this is going to sound like a repeat of the post I just wrote below but....... I was grocery shopping early one morning, and decided to pick up the FREE sandwich on my way home.

I hurried in to get the needed groceries in the fridge and freezer before sitting down to enjoy my egg sandwich. In the mean time, Aiden spotted it. Now Aiden is right now the pickiest eater of my family (and that says a lot cause we are all picky). But he was brave when I told him he could help himself to a bite.

Well he certainly liked it, cause that bite turned into another and then another, all while my back was turned toward stuffing that last bag of frozen vegetables into the last bit of space in my side by side. When I shut the door in triumph, I let out a cry of "STOP" I was looking forward to that sandwich!

His eyes then got big, and he said "sorry mommy but it tastes so good, what is this?" . And how can I resist that kissable cheek kid.

So the following week when I had to repeat the whole grocery shopping thing over (seems like it happens every week! ). I bought all the makings for egg sandwiches. Aiden watched with his tongue hanging out as I made him his new found delight.

A few days later when I was getting tired of demands for MORE. I decided to teach him how to make them himself (oh and now his sister can too). He was so proud the first time, making 3 sandwiches one for me one for him and one for his sister he was literally glowing!

And now he makes his own several times a week.
Yes Sadly She is addicted at the ripe old Age of 8!

Its a good thing I collect swagbucks and cash them in for Starbucks cards

Cause I have created a Starbucks junkie!!!

It all started very innocently many many years ago. Courtney was only 2 then. It was a sunny morning. I headed out early to get some grocery shopping in before the hubby left for work. Having a mypoints, Starbucks card in my purse I picked myself up a mocha frappachino on the way home, rewarding myself for stocking up so quickly.

I came home put my 1/3 gone frappachino on the dinning table and carried all the groceries in and got them all put away in a hurry anticipating relaxing on the porch swing while reading a magazine (free from cokepoints of course) and sipping my reward for a mornings work.

But when I returned to get my frappochinoit was gone!!! But under the table I found the cutest little Ash blonde two year old slurping up the very last morsels for her stolen find! and a whip creme mustache to boot! And the strange thing was she was calmer than normal all day (which makes me wonder if she doesn't have her daddy's ADHD)

From then on a yearning grew in her heart. She knew what those white and green cups were, and she soon matched the symbol of the cup to the symbol on the sign outside the store and knew that's where that wonderful yummy stuff came from.

Oh I do get her decaf, but I also allow Santa to stuff her stocking with a gift card to the coffee addiction creating store.

Cause we spend valuable, mommy and daughter time there. Discussing important stuff. Like friendships, and clothing choices, and why exactly we don't say, such and such a word.

Yep, Starbucks, it may be addicting, but its also great for bonding!

Some men love to Golf or Fish or Hunt or ....But my man likes to.....

For years I have felt guilty from time to time, since I seem to be the only adult in the household that enjoys a recreational sport. That would be running, and biking, and sometimes swimming. Now I do use my own personal money for my hobby and Jack has the same amount, but it just seems like none of his hobby's stuck for long and I end up feeling like he gets cut short on personal refreshment time.

He tried roller blading, but those are now in the attic. Then there was, racket ball, that was one game and then it got put up in the attic. Then there was a season of biking, but that was two summers ago, and hasn't touched it since. Then there is golf, which he likes, but only 9 holes at a time, and only with friends to pass the time with, and only if its not too hot, or not too cold, and only ...., well you get the idea those clubs sit in the attic taken out once or twice a year, enjoyed but not a passion.

But then he was talking to a pastor friend of ours, and he heard the words air soft wars. And his eyes light up like never before, and soon his long padded personal account was empty! and he was begging for more!!!

Of course the photo above shows Thomas in full gear and not Jack, but that is because he soon had Thomas and Aiden sucked in to this father and son air soft war thing. And really I don't mind they have such a blast, it truly is bonding time for Jack and the boys. And I have never seen my husband so passionate about a recreational sport, which makes me happy and my guilt over my running and biking passion can rest in peace.

So every third weekend my boys head out to war, and me and my gal we head out to Starbucks!

Still Selling!

A few posts below you will read that Yard Saling is in full swing again.

I of course aim not to just buy during this season but to also sell our no longer needed items in an attempt to declutter our lives, and make a bit of cash for those little extras while I am at it.

So far here is how I have done

Ladysignment sale: This was a new one for me this year. The idea is that you take all your no longer used clothes hang them on hanger and price and tag them with a consigners number. Then you drop them off at this ladies home and she sells them for you and takes 30% of your earnings for her effort.

I really did like this, as at my own yard sales I find there is a slim market for my own personal clothes. You have to have just the right size lady show up to buy that day. Whereas at a huge sale like this, it has been advertised all over the community, so you get 100's perhaps even 1000's of woman showing up looking exclusively for woman's wear.


Marion Homeschooling sale: For just $2 I got a table in the basement of our local library for several hours one Saturday and sold exclusively educational items with about 20 other homeschoolers.


(but the best part of this sale was the buying, Thomas starts high school this year (4yrs where we are) and High School curriculum is much higher, and I got over $450 worth for $90!!!! Such a blessing!

My annual Spring Sale: I like inviting friends to do a sale with me every spring just before the big area sales get started for the season (don't want to miss them) and then another in the fall just as the season is drawing to the end. It is such a fun day, chit chatting with my buddies and making cash for the family. Plus all it costs me is a bit of time making up signs and posting the event on Craigslist (oh and the cost of the poster board which is about $2)


Fort Wayne Area Homeschooling Sale: I have always wanted to go to this sale to buy, but it has always been on a day where I had more pressing events going on. This time I was free, oh and the table was free of cost too!! I took Thomas with me to this one, cause it is very large and would be hard to shop and keep watch on a table at the same time and I was hoping to find a few more items on my need for next years schooling list (which I did). He did very well helping me, and so we had lunch out in the City and did a few money saving errands afterwards.

I SOLD: $74.50 WORTH

Craigslist: Since we no longer needed our broken down pop up. I put it on Craigslist and sold it to a RV restore and resell center.


I still have a few homeschooling items to get on eBay and a few items for Craig'slist but so far in the last two months I have made:


Which goes to show you, that if you ever find yourself short on cash, you really don't have to look any further than the shelves, drawers, closets, attics, garages, storage sheds and basements of your own living space to come up with it, for very little effort. Especially if you have young children in your house cause they tend to cycle through stuff fast, and that stuff is in high demand on the second hand market.

This years Garden Attempt

My Herb garden. Taken the day I planted it. The herbs are three times this size now, and I have enjoyed cooking with them already.
What our current gardening area looks like, again day I planted it. The tomatoes are huge now and sadly the terracotta planters never did get strawberry plants in them as I hoped (life just got too busy). But I got more done in the gardening area this year than last, and to me improvement wether it be small or large is success to me!

I am also fully aware that the Rubbermaid tote looks awful compared to the metal bins, but I got a little crazy at the green house and realized I had too many plants and not enough bins. So I improvised for this year, till I find a metal bin at a yard sale. And the fire pit is moving. It is of course too close to the plants, but we will wait till we want to use it to move it.

Jack would like to cover the area around the pots with mulch, but every bit of money, (and man power and time) we have beyond normal bills (and his work, and my housework,), is being directed towards getting our last renovation-rental done and rented, so it starts making us money instead of costing us holding costs. So extras like mulch (and the time and manpower to get and use mulch) are being put off for a while longer.

I do love my little vegetable garden though, with its pots of tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers and herbs.I am hoping each year to expand on it. I saw a picture of what would be my dream in town vegetable garden on a blog, she had used all the space around the perimeter of her fence, to 2 to 3 feet in depth, using pots and raised beds, to grow every vegetable imaginable and in such a way that it looked as pretty and as colorful as a flower garden.

Now I like flowers, but if I can have pretty and useful, well that gals vegetable garden wins me hands down!

Yard Sale Season Is In full Swing Again!!

One sunny afternoon in April when we were suppose to be working on our last (for a while anyways) renovation-rental home, I spied on the way home from a supply trip a sign for a yard sale at a home I love to hit every year. Usually I get a tonne for Courtney at this ladies sale, this year however the boys lucked out! Now Jack loves what I save at yard sales but he doesn't like going with me, but at this sale, he actually added clothes for the boys to the pile to the point that I had to stop him!

A lot of the clothes we got, still had tags attached, and all the rest were in like new condition. The seller confessed that her family had bought her son a tonne of clothes for Christmas, but shortly after he had taken a several inch growth spurt over the course of just a few short weeks.

Her loss was totally my boys gain, Thomas got a tonne of new t-shirts out of the deal, and Aiden got a huge amount of like new ho0dies, and in the end it cost me the same amount as the price tag attached to two of the t-shirts! Such a blessing!

Now these socks were to beat my redhead running friend's pink and white fuzzy Christmas knee highs with their slid resistant bottoms! Which she refused to let me photograph her in! I cannot wait to sport these at our next friend get together once the cold weather returns! Cause anyone who knows me knows I love a good competition and I think I will win hands down for tackiest slipper socks with these!

My absolute favorite yard sale find this year! I got it just this weekend at the very last house I stopped at and spent pretty much every last penny! She sold them to me for $1 a piece. I love Strattfordshire Ware (made in England) now these are a newer print 1982, and the first time I have ever seen them with splashes of color. The side plates and dessert bowls are actually done by Johnson Bros (also England) but are also stoneware and of similar print. You can also get this transfer ware in blue and red prints, and I do have some in those colors but brown is my favorite!

Other finds so far this year, include clothes for Courtney, and supplies to stock our new to us paid with cash pop up!

Can I just say that living here is like a yard sale lovers dream. Whole towns have weekends where dozen upon dozens upon dozens of homes will host a yard sale for 2 to 3 days in a row. Things that you would never imagine would show up at a sale, will, and some that you just didn't want to see also will, like the adjustable strip pole with matching spike heels that light up at you walk that I saw at one sale! (AND NO I DID NOT PURCHASE THAT)

Some sales, are just junk, and some are overpriced, but most contain a least a treasure or two. I save a tonne of money for my family on clothes, home accessories, small furniture, homeschooling supplies, and much much more.

I also sometimes grab great deals to re-sell which usually pays for my gas, and some of my purchases cause as I have said before I like my hobbies to pay for themselves, not drain the family budget. And yard saling is definitely a hobby of mine that pays for it self and more.

Homemade Ice cream Gone Simple!

I bought a small ice-cream maker on clearance last year, but truth be known (and I like being completely truthful about how we REALLY live on this blog) I have yet to use it.

Mostly cause all the recipes the machine came with call for fancy ingredients and I am all about THE KISS METHOD. Yep KEEP IT SIMPLE SISTER!!! that is me. I love to make homemade, but if I can find a way to make it easier and yet still as nutritious and yummy I am all for it.

So when I read this ladies blog (so wish I could remember it to quote for you but shortly after my favorites tab crashed and i can't remember it) and saw her recipe with its few ingredients, I had to try it.

And it was a success. So simple that Courtney makes it all by herself! and it is cheaper than the premium ice-cream I love (SO NOT a fan of the cheap ice-cream in the huge tub, really read the ingredients list, or better yet put some out on the counter and notice how long it takes to melt even on a hot day! SCARY)

so here is the KISS approved chocolate ice-cream recipe

2 cups heavy whipping creme (unwhipped) (1pint)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup chocolate syrup (I have a recipe I love for this)

2 tbsp cocoa

a splash of vanilla

1.Beat whip creme in a bowl, add splash of vanilla

2. In another bowl

(preferably one that has a lid so you can freeze it, make sure it is glass or metal)

Beat together sweetened condensed milk, chocolate sauce, and cocoa

3. Fold whipping creme into the other ingredients, beat lightly till mixed.

4. Put on lid and allow to freeze several hours (over night preferred)

Now so far we have only made chocolate cause it is the only flavor everyone in our house agrees on, but we have a tonne of ideas to try once I find another glass bowl with lid at a yard sale or inexpensively some other way.

Jack and I want to put cherries in it, the kids want me to save some cookie dough and make small balls out of it to pre-freeze and then whip in at last moment. Courtney and I think we would like to add some coffee too it. Oh the ideas are endless!!!

We Got it!!!

Here is a picture of our "new" to us paid with cash, pop up (tent trailer). This baby when fully open has a king size bed on either end and a dinette that you tip out of the side of the base, so that you have more floor space, and that makes into a double bed. It also has a couch that makes into a single bed. It has an outdoor shower, perfect for getting the sand off your feet before bed. An indoor and an outdoor propane stove. A small fridge. Plenty of storage space under the couch and dinette. AND MOST IMPORTANTLY BOTH HEATING AND AIR CONDITIONING!!!

Two nights in our old pop up and our middle child looked like he had been stranded in the dessert for a month! That boy came out of the womb sweating! He does not take heat well at all. So he was grinning ear to ear when he heard that this year he would have a place to escape the heat while camping.

Now if I had been thoughtful, I would have taken pictures of the inside of it before we closed it up to take home. But, I was so excited by the find that I forgot, so you are going to have to hold on another month, and when we go camping I will take picture for you.

We got it off Craigslist, after weeks of looking, the previous night Jack found 2 good finds before coming to bed late, I called on this one as soon as 9 am hit, cause it was my favorite of the 2. When the seller called back, he said he had someone coming to look at it at 4 pm, but he wasn't holding it till then. So I yelled to the kids "we are skipping school today get in the trailblazer now!" and drove the hour to go and look at it. It is in amazing shape and the seller could have easily asked more, so I didn't bargain him down any and paid a deposit. Jack and I went later that day when he was off to pick it up (I have never towed anything and thought an hours drive on a busy road probably wouldn't be my best trial run).

So it made for close to 4 hrs in the car for me that day, but it was worth it. We have tried a few times to get it out already, but it has been such a rain filled spring. However very soon we have 8 nights booked at a state park, (which cost us about what one night in a hotel room costs). We are all looking forward to the getaway time.

Monday, March 28, 2011


There is so much more I would like to blog about this month but I am out of time for today! I am trying my hardest to get into bed earlier each night in order to keep up with my book a week resolution. Seems only fair since I am assigning the kids two books a week.

So perhaps next month I will fill you in on our progress of our current renovation home that hopefully will be rentable come early summer.

You know the drill keep reading and scrolling down till you see the January/February headline then stop!

My Birthday!!!

As usual I had more of a birthday Long weekend than just a birthday day! Here are some pics. of some gifts and events I enjoyed.

I belong to a tonne of Birthday clubs so for the week before my birthday and the week after I enjoyed...... A free stir-fry on my birthday date with jack! A free bowl of noodles on a outing with Thomas. Free blizzard which I got through drive thru and brought home and shared . Free starbucks on an outing with Courtney. Free pasta on another outing with Jack, followed by a free strawberry ice drink. On my night out with the gals I enjoyed a FREE burritto, and on the birthday date with Jack we enjoyed dinner using my FREE burrito coupon at another burrito joint. Oh and also one afternoon a free birthday scone from one of my favorite bakeries!

But sigh I could not enjoy all my birthday free, a sundae, and a pancake meal went to waste, but one can only eat out so much in a two week span! Maybe next year with a bit of better planning I will squeeze them in along with the new FREE BIRTHDAY treat sites I have discovered already in the weeks since my birthday!!! OH HOW I LOVE BIRTHDAY FREE!!! At my gal's birthday night I was spoiled! with Starbucks cards, and chocolate, ginger delights and i-tune cards and knitting supplies!!! I love my girlfriends! We hung out at the restuarant till we were the only ones left. Laughing and sharing the whole time.
Me teasing the gals with Ginger! recieved as a gift from a friend. LOVE this stuff. I made a great chocolate bark out of it, 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons shortening, put in microwave and melt (stiring every 30 seconds) then add in ginger and almonds, and smooth out on a waxed lined cookie sheet and allow to harden. If you don't like ginger try a cup of whatever you do like, I often do half cup crushed pretzel sticks, and half cup dried cranberries, or I do a whole cup crushed oreo's! The variations are endless!
My Birthday treats to myself. I saved some of my birthday cash to start a new bussiness venture of sorts once the current renovation home becomes a rental. The rest of my cash I used to buy this sign for the dinning room popout window and the plants beside it. Oh and I also bought a new strength workout dvd "kettle bells" by Bob Harper! Love it!
One of my favorite gifts to open was the box full of art by Courtney, and she made me a necklace too! She may have meant "Best" but I will take "Beast" makes me feel more alive!! and sort of Hot Mama like!
Yes I know you saw this photo last month, but while I was buying my Bob Harper DVD at target on my birthday date with Jack, he whipped over to the instore starbucks and bought us another set! So now we have 2 each! and we sit and drink our hot tea together in the morning and catch up!
My Birthday Day food! I wanted to make an easy day for myself on my actual day. Jack had to work and Courtney was at a birthday party of her best friend who has a birthday on my day! So after I swung by to pick courtney up (and enjoyed cake and ice-cream with my birthday twin) , I picked up pizza's (with a coupon of course but it wasn't a birthday coupon) the deal came with pop and bread sticks. Then I spent the day reading and lounging. Oh and the Birthday cupcakes Jack bought for me before he left for work.

So as you can see I had a very yummy! 3 day celebration. Friday was date day with Jack. Saturday was hanging with the kids and eating pizza and taking in some birthday time with my birthday twin (courtney's best friend). Sunday evening I concluded the 3 days with a dinner out with the girl friends and in conclusion I will say I am blessed by all those who love me.