~my thoughts about life~

Thursday, October 22, 2015

My Instagram

My artistic photography is, I guess, a thing of the past. I rarely pull out the old Canon anymore. It's partly because I'm lazy. It takes effort to assemble it. Another reason I've slowed down taking pictures is because I have absolutely nowhere to store them. I'm completely out of space on my computers and I don't want to delete anything. I need to do something differently.

So, my phone camera usage has increased. The only plus is that it makes Instagramming easier.   Here's what's been going on lately:

I'm not much for selfies, but I've been taking a lot of them lately.  With Hubby away so much, I want to remind him of what he has at home.  It doesn't hurt him to miss the kids and me once in a while!

Something else Hubby has waiting at home.  She's so adorable, I couldn't resist!

A not-so-pretty picture of Baby Girl.  At choir practice one evening she got into an altercation with a church pew.  The pew won.  She got a huge shiner and swollen nose.  It's been over two weeks now and I can still see traces of black & blue.

My cousin got married in August.  Her nephew sat on the top step and entertained us the entire wedding.  He went from making faces, to waving at friends, to rolling around.  It truly enhanced the entire ceremony!

On Labor Day, I insisted on riding our bikes downtown to our favorite pizza place.  I must mention that it was over 90 degrees and downtown is 10 miles away!  This photo was taken after we had eaten but before we realized we were too hot and tired to bike all the way home!  We made it though.  My legs were jelly afterward.

Homemade cinnamon rolls.  Enough said.

Our kids got the opportunity to play instruments and sing in front of the church congregation.  They practiced all summer.  Big Sis got to play her keyboard and she rocked it out!  I was so proud!

Son #1 is playing bass at youth service now!  Since adults aren't welcome at youth service, I had to sneak in.  I took this photo from the church foyer, through a window. I was so glad I got to hear part of the service.  He did a great job!

I just don't even know what this is about.  Son #2.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

OCT 21 2015

I am a HUGE fan of the Back To The Future trilogy and I've been awaiting THIS DAY for 25 years now!!  I wish they would have picked a date that fell on a weekend...I would have had a huge 80s party!  But come on, it's Wednesday and I've got stuff to do!!  So, instead of doing what I should be doing, I'm going to give a lot of meaningless thought and study to this date, OCT 21 2015.

In case you don't know, this is the date that Marty McFly traveled to in the future in the second BTTF movie.  And if you don't know that, stop reading right now and go watch the trilogy in order!  In the future, cars were flying.  People dressed in crazy clothing and they rode Hover Boards.  Back in 1985, most people seemed to think we'd be living on Mars or the moon by now.  

Here are some things that happened in the movie:
  • Cars were hover converted to fly.  Fail.  If that were true, can you imagine the amount of texting and flying accidents we would have???
  • Marty's boss called him on a video screen in his den.  Check!  Can you say Skype?  Fortunately, we don't have a have an ancient, retractable screen hanging on our walls.  We can Facetime someone right from our phone!
  • USA Today photographed an event happening and it was immediately in the newspaper.  Well, that one is pretty much true.  With the invention of the cell phone camera, things like robberies, muggings, and arrests can be recorded and instantly uploaded to countless websites.
  • The Cubs won the World Series.  Well, we'll see!
  • Teenagers' clothes were worn inside out and shoes automatically laced themselves.  Plus, Marty's jacket dried itself when it got wet.  I can see the inside out clothes catching on, but auto lacing shoes might be a little costly.  Maybe LeBron will invent some and they can cost even more than his regular shoes.
  • 80s Cafes with digital ordering.  The 80s decade is super trendy right now and, because of nostalgia, things from this era are totally rad!  Digital ordering?  Well, I just ordered Chipotle from an app the other day and picked it up a half hour later.  Pretty darn close!
  • Hover Boards.  Did you know they truly have a product out right now called a Hover Board?  My boys were talking about it.  It doesn't actually fly, so I think it's junk.  But they were pretty hyped about it.
  • Remember when Jennifer had to touch an electronic pad to be allowed access to her house?  How many of you scan your thumbprint to get onto your phone?  I'd say that one has pretty much happened.  And why hasn't someone linked this with a way to get into your house or car???
If you watch the part of the movie where people are walking around town, one thing you'll notice is that people are actually walking while looking straight ahead.  That's totally something not true about today's age.  It's almost rare today to see someone walking without a smart phone in their hands.  People can't walk, drive, or eat dinner without looking down at their devices.  Marty's kids did wear glasses that could answer the phone though.  Pretty close.  But, they didn't each have their own line.  That's sounds weird now.  The days of asking, "Is Marty home?" are long gone!  If you want to talk to Marty, you'll call him, not his land line!  

So, I'm excited to experience this day.  I just wish I could drive to the kids school in a Delorean and listen to Beat It while dehydrating a pizza.  Since I can't, I'll just have to be satisfied with blogging about it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

You're Not Invited to This Party

Don't ya just love it when someone or something puts you in your place?  I needed that recently.  I've been a little down recently, and I know most of it stems from Hubby's absence.  I miss him.  He's gone from the house 15 hours a day and it's getting to me.  They've also buckled down on using cell phones while driving commercial vehicles, so I barely get to even talk to him through the day.  Wah, wah...that's my sob story.

Because of my funk, I've kind of hosted myself a little pity party.  As you know, money has been really tight around here.  Hubby's pay cut combined with all the plumbing bills I recently mentioned, add in the increased cost for car insurance for a 16 year old boy, school fees, etc., etc., etc....  But it seems like all my friends are climbing those giant ladders of success.  They're buying new houses, new cars, new clothes, and going on exotic vacations.  We haven't been on vacation since June 2014.  School shopping was tough this year.  No one got new backpacks, lunch boxes, or coats.  The money just wasn't there.  They did get new clothes and shoes, but that had to be done.  They just keep growing!  I hate my car, but it's paid off.  I'm actually scared to try to make it through another winter with it.  My brother drives 3 of the nicest cars you've ever seen.  He lives in a small mansion.  They go to Disney and sail on cruise ships a couple times a year.  I'm jealous.

We've cancelled our security system, our home phone, our television service, and only eat out on Fridays.  I feel like I've cut out everything short of my cell phone and internet and we're still barely scraping by.  I take my daily three mile walk in the nice neighborhood and I feel sad.  I can't live there.

And then I see a photo like this:

What in the world is wrong with me???  I live in a beautiful 4-bedroom house with a half acre of land!  I have four healthy kids who are all doing great in school!  I sleep next to the love of my life every night, who has never been unfaithful to me, never hit me, and would lay down his life for me.  I'm healthy, not too bad looking, not overweight, not handicapped, and I have a dream job.  Not to mention that I have food to eat every day (a stockpile, nonetheless), clean water, one working toilet (ha!), heat, furniture, and a God who surprises me every day with countless blessings!  Again I ask, what in the world is wrong with me???  I am ashamed and embarrassed that I allowed my little pity party to go on as long as it has.  It's inexcusable.  

So, every time I feel that pity party starting to creep up on me, I shoot it down as quickly as possible.  I tell myself NO!  I'm not going to allow myself to think that way any more.

How about you?  Do you ever get down about things that truly aren't that bad in the first place??

Monday, October 19, 2015

This is PLUMB crazy!

OMG- you won't believe what's been going on around here!  A long time ago, I wrote a couple posts about the plumbing issues we've had around our house.  Well, folks, it turns out that this problem is far from over!

Last I left you, we had decided to close down our half bath because we didn't have the $5500 necessary to fix the additional problems.  All six of us have been living with one bathroom since February.  It's been torture!  We still have not finished paying back the $9,000 we borrowed from my grandfather for the first set of plumbing issues.  We were talking to him the other day about it and he said not to worry about paying the rest of the bill right now.  He wanted us to take a break from paying and get our half bath fixed instead.  We agreed.  We're desperate for another potty around here, people!

SO- we called out a new plumber.  We didn't like the original plumber, Mr. Rooter.  They were cocky, condescending, and far too expensive.  It was like getting your house plumbed by a used car salesman.  After they left, we felt like we had been taken, but there was nothing we could do about it.  The new plumber came out and we explained our situation.  He gave us a much cheaper estimate than Mr. Rooter so we gave him the green light.  The floor was torn out of my bathroom and my back yard was dug up AGAIN.

I'll skip ahead a bit.  In the midst of the work down in the backyard hole, the plumber called out to me.  He figured out why my half bath was not working.  It was not plumbed!!!  Stop and think about that for a moment.  We paid $9,000, plus $700, plus $400 to fix the plumbing problems in our bathroom and the BATHROOM WAS NOT EVEN HOOKED UP!  The sewage came out the pipe and just flowed freely into the ground.  I'm dead serious.  This is why the bathroom was not working.  Mr. Rooter dug a huge hole in my backyard, around my patio, down the side of the house, and all the way to the street and did not tie it in to the bathroom plumbing!  Both of the new plumbers and my father believe that this act was done maliciously.  They knew my plumbing would not work and that I'd have to call them back.  They knew they would get another job out of it.  My plumbing did not work.  I did call them back.  They came back out, charged me $400 and quoted me another $5500 to fix their own mistake.  What they didn't count on was that I would hire another plumber who would catch what they did.

We left the huge hole open and called Mr. Rooter back to see what they did (or neglected to do).  They, of course, denied that it was done intentionally.  They said that they must have missed that line coming out of the bathroom.  OK, stop and think about this again.  These are licensed plumbers and they're not able to find the line coming out of the bathroom???  Yeah right.  In fact, we know that they saw the line because they CUT THE END OF THE PIPE OFF!  It was in the way of the new line they laid, so they just cut it off!  So, long story short- they are crooks.

They finally admitted that they botched up the job and asked what we wanted.  We told them we wanted the new repairs covered, including both the plumbing and renovation work to put the bathroom back together.  We also felt we should be compensated for a year and a half without the use of our bathroom.  I also asked for the $400 back that they charged us to snake our toilet the last time, when they told us it was going to be $5500 more.  He scoffed.  He said he'd give us $3200 back, which does not even cover the plumbing repairs to fix their mistake!

So, here are the facts:  they did the work incorrectly and charged me $9000.  When it didn't work, I called them back.  Instead of fixing their mistake then, they charged me $400 more and quoted me $5500 to fix what they did wrong.  Because of that, I had no bathroom for 18 months, ripped out my bathroom, and dug up my back yard.  All because they screwed me.  And they don't want to pay.

I didn't even respond.  I hired an attorney.  She is quite confident that we will get back more than I originally requested from Mr. Rooter.  They should have settled.  Now, I hope that they end up paying out way more in court.  Our attorney even suggested going after them for grossly overcharging us for the first job.  Our new plumber said he could have done it for maybe $3000.  Yikes!

Call it karma, say what goes around comes around, call it what you will, but I want Mr. Rooter to get what they deserve.  If you google their company name, websites come up of the top complaints about them.  I've talked with the inspector from our city who inspected both jobs.  He has the power to keep them from doing business in our town.  I hope he moves forward on that because I want to protect my community from being robbed like I was.

This is a national company, so please do not use them for any plumbing issues you might have.  I'm not normally one for bashing a company on social media, but I want to protect innocent, hard-working people from being scammed.

And finally, enjoy your potty today.  You don't realize how important it is until it's taken away from you!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Falling Into the Groove of Life

It's crazy that Fall is already here!  Leaves are starting to change color and I'm donning a cardigan most days.  I'm a stickler about two things once cooler temperatures start arriving:  1.  Turning on the furnace, and 2.  Covering up my legs.  Once the furnace goes on, it stays on.  I'm not one to switch back and forth from heat to A/C.  So, if you're cold, put on a sweater.  Also, once I start wearing tights or leggings, it means that I've acknowledged that summer is officially over.  My legs are still tan at this point, so I'm holding off on the leg covering for now.  Sure, I'm getting a bit chilly, but I'll live.

Someone told me yesterday that there are 10 Fridays until Christmas.  That thought scared me a little, I must admit.  I'm knee deep in planning the school Halloween party and hanging the autumn wreath on the front door.  I haven't even bought my Halloween candy yet (well, that's mostly because I'll eat it before the holiday actually arrives).

I've taken on a new job since I've last posted.  I actually applied for a full time job as a school secretary.  Then I thought, "What was I THINKING???"  I'm glad I didn't get the job...I'm barely staying afloat as it is.  Anyhow, I'm watching two little girls before and after school.  They arrive around 7:15 and I take them to school with Baby Girl.  Then I pick all three of them up and the girls stay until 4:30 or so.  It's perfect for me.  The money I make pays for my groceries each week, so that's a huge blessing.  The Kindergartener has had some issues since she started, but I think we're making headway.  I'm a tough cookie when it comes to caring for children.

Speaking of groceries, I'm couponing like never before!  I consider it a part-time job.  It takes quite a bit of time, but I'm very thankful for a great website that helps me out.  The blogger is a very ethical couponer, which I greatly appreciate.  I'm spending between $60 and $80 each week to feed my family of six!  I never thought we could live on so little.  My budget was double that a few years ago!  And we're not suffering either!  I have a huge stockpile of health & beauty items, canned goods, and cereal in the basement.  When the toilet paper stash gets down to two packages, I get nervous.  I'm so thankful this is something I can do to help my family.

Money has been really tight around here.  Hubby had to take a bit of a pay cut to allow time for his full-time schooling.  Yesterday, he left the house at 6:00 AM.  He got home at 3:45, showered, and left by 4:00.   He ate PB&J in the car.  He got home from school at 10:00, which is usually when he eats dinner, but he was sick.  He took another shower and crashed into bed with a ginger ale.  I think he's just run down.  He's feeling better today, he said.

Evenings without him are really starting to get to me.  I miss him terribly.  Fortunately, we get to spend Friday evenings together (if nothing else is going on)!  On Fridays, we clean the laundry rooms at my brother's apartment buildings.  It's not much money, but every bit helps.  Son #1 has taken over most of Hubby's mowing, since he's in school for nine hours on Saturdays.

We're still managing our three duplexes, which is getting on my nerves.  Most tenants are so lazy, want everything handed over to them, but cannot pay their rent on time.  It's hard to find good renters.  It's something I wish we hadn't ventured into.

So, we're making it.  We're scraping by, but I know it's temporary.  Hubby's original goal was to keep his full-time job and be a reserve police officer on weekends and evenings.  Now, things have changed so much at work...they're wanting to pay him less while working him harder (isn't that everyone right now?).  So he's considering policing full-time, if he can find the right position.  He's too old to be hired full-time by our local department.  He can be a deputy sheriff, but that's not what he wants to do.  He's got his eye on the college police department, which would give our kids free schooling!

Son #1 is taking two college classes this year, which I'm so thankful is happening!  I blogged about many of the issues we had getting him here, but God saw us through it.  He seems to be doing as well or better in his college courses....he's getting mostly As with a couple Bs.  I made him quit his job.  I felt that the man he worked for was mentally unbalanced.  Severely.  He would tell #1 that he was the best worker he's ever had, then he'd say that he's worthless and does a horrible job.  The straw that broke the camel's back is when he cussed at him and told him to get out.  I made him send a text saying he wasn't comfortable working for someone who would cuss at him and treat him that way.  The man's reply was, "Good!!"  It seriously seemed like he was working for a 12 year old.  If he can bring up those two Bs, he's allowed to find another job.  I just don't want a menial job taking priority over school.  He didn't even make minimum wage at that job.

I've hired Son #1 to run my photo booth a couple times.  He can make as much in one evening as a week at his other job.  Thankfully, I've been getting more jobs lately, so that extra income has really helped.

Son #2 is still lazy and laid back, while getting all As in school.  He never studies.  He worries me.  He gets more handsome every day and I have to look up to him now.  All the girls are after him at church.  He progressed from the #4 golfer on JV to the #3 golfer on Varsity!  I was proud to see his accomplishments.  These little boys just grew up too fast!

Big Sis is....there are too many adjectives that would be required to describe her.  She's maintaining all As and one B and her year is much easier than last year.  She's in the school musical, yearbook club, garden club, band, and choir.  She could not be more opposite of her brothers.  If there's something to sign up for, she's doing it!  She's playing Molly in the Broadway version of Annie.  It's a perfect part for her because she's so tiny.  She's not the strongest of singers, but she has more confidence than anyone I've ever known.  She loves it so much!

Baby Girl is no longer a baby, but a very independent first grader.  Her reading level has increased greatly and she seems to do very well in school.  We haven't had our conference yet, so I guess we'll find out where she is soon.  They have these math and reading apps that the kids can do at home.  She loves doing homework on Dad's iPad.  I actually think those programs are what's helping her.  She's still "dating" her brother's best friend...that's going on three or four years now.  She's very athletic and imaginative.  Both girls are still willing to hug and kiss their Mama, and I hope they never lose that.

Wherever you might be, I hope you find something special to enjoy on this day.  Whether it be changing leaves, a good cup of tea, or a nice phone call with a friend...enjoy something today.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

First Day of School

I'm only eight weeks behind...

Son #1 started his Junior year, Son #2 is a Freshman, and Big Sis is in sixth grade.  Their schools are across the street from one another, so #1 drives them every day in his little, beat up, rusty car.  Where has the time gone???

Baby Girl is in first grade and still a little hesitant about going to school.  Her teacher seems lovely and I think this is going to be a good year.  We kept up with her reading over the summer, so hopefully it will be up to par this year.

And I'm home alone all day.  (No complaints here!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Good Old Summertime

There have been good parts of the summer too. I will share them with you in pictures. 

Big Sis turned 11!  We celebrated by taking a couple friends to play laser tag and eat pizza. 

Son #2 announced one day that he would be making pizza from scratch. And that he did. 

We were able to visit an Amish farm where the kids fed exotic animals. They had a great time, in spite of the rain!

Hiking is always a family favorite. This time, we took a wrong turn and ended up two miles from our car. Daddy had to trek back alone because the girls were too tired to make the hike again.

A very special kid made me my own birthday cake!  It had been many years since I'd had a cake on my birthday!  

Some great friends had us over for a ride on their boat and fishing from the dock. It was one of the most enjoyable nights of my summer!

It's a Cruel, Cruel Summer

I've done it again.  This post was originally written at the end of July and I'm just now getting around to posting it.  I've failed once more...

I laugh when I look back a couple months ago to when I said that I wanted this to be a nice, relaxing summer.  I planned to read, sit in the sun, play with the kids, and rest.  Yeah right.  I hate to complain because I try to be a glass-half-full kind of person.  But this has literally been one of the worst summers ever.

I blogged about how Hubby was enrolling in the police academy.  "It's only for six months," I said.  "We can handle anything for six months."  Really?  Hmmm...this has been harder than I thought.  Not only do I have no help with the kids and house, I'm having to do extra things for him because he doesn't have the time.  The poor guy gets up at 5:30, works til about 2:00, and comes home to rest for a couple hours.  He surely doesn't feel like putting away his laundry or rinsing off his dishes during those precious few moments.  He leaves for school around 3:30 or 4:00 and gets home around 10:00.  Most weekends are 7:00 or 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Saturday AND Sunday.  He's missing church, which I hate, and appointments and meetings are impossible to make.  Six months.  That's all.  We can do it.

Son #1 has gotten in some trouble this summer.  Not trouble with the law, thankfully, but trouble with me.  The worst part is that he lied to me.  He's never been a liar.  He's always been honest to me and has confessed when confronted.  I can't say that any more.  And sadly, I have no trust in him.  I don't feel like I can ever believe him again.  It's been such a hard thing to deal with.  I can't share any of the details, but it's been the most difficult thing I think I've ever been through.   And I've done most of it alone.  Hubby has been there for me when he can...he's doing his best.  Fortunately, with the worst behind us, # 1's attitude has improved and changed and he's becoming the sweet boy he used to be.  I haven't seen that kid in a long time.  He's more helpful around the house and is caring for his younger siblings.  He's actually helping fill Hubby's shoes when it comes to mowing, errands, and regular manly duties like reaching things on high shelves and spider killing.

Sadly, I lost a friend over the whole Son #1 incident.  She couldn't keep her mouth shut and spread all kinds of stuff about him.  I defended him and confronted her, but she lied to me.  She's now posting crap about me on Facebook, which I despise.  I HATE DRAMA!!!  I've been the bigger person, I've not retaliated, haven't commented on her FB posts, and I just pretend that she's invisible when I see her.  It may be the right thing to do, but it sure is hard!  I would prefer to punch her right in her gossiping mouth!

Son #2 is just lazy and grouchy.  It seems quite normal, for this age, but I'm fighting it as hard as I can.

Big Sis picked up lice from her circle of friends.  They all got it.  Even three of their moms got it.  We've never dealt with lice before and it's excruciating!  Fortunately, we caught it early.  My SIL realized my niece had it when she was combing her hair for church one night.  My niece caught it from her cousin.  We have a very nice facility locally that you can go to.  You pay them money and they treat your head.  It turned out that my niece, nephew, and SIL all had it.  They instantly got into the car and drove to that place.  After that church service, we decided we probably should go get checked out.  Yep.  Big Sis had it but Baby Girl did not.  That's a miracle in itself since they're so close.  I even used the same brush to comb their hair that night!  The guy said none of her lice were old enough to leave the head yet.  She had 8 baby bugs and 2 "teenagers."  Gross, I know.  Baby Girl and I were clean.

That's not the worst of it though.  It's the house prep that has to be done.  Laundry, carpets, bedding, furniture, toys...you name it, I cleaned it.  I'm STILL behind on my laundry because of all this.  We got our follow-up check last Friday and we checked out lice free.  My SIL's family are all good now but her sister still has it.  (This is their second round.)  Big Sis' friends were supposed to have their follow-ups today and I haven't heard their results yet.  I'm so scared we're going to get it again.  After paying $200 for her treatment and the home supplies, we can't afford for her to get it again!  (OK, whose head is itching right now?  Mine is!!!)

Hubby had some drama at work, which is so rare for him.  He always keeps his nose clean and never gets involved in workplace drama.  His boss believed a disgruntled ex-employee who said Hubby was bashing the company.  Fortunately, they got it all sorted out but Hubby had a really hard time getting over it.  It turns out, they're not OK with him being in the police academy.  They want him there 100% for them.  It's made us realize that the plan of him staying there and taking side police jobs may not be for the best any more.  He's going to keep his eyes and ears out for a full-time police position.

I'm stressed, the kids are stressed, Hubby is stressed, and it's rained SO much this summer.  Finally, we've gotten a break in the rain but are now enduring tremendous heat.  At least it finally feels like summer.

So, even though it's been a cruel, cruel summer, I'm trying to make lemonade from lemons.  I'm still working to see that glass as half-full and keeping a smile on my face.

Yes, school starts in 3 weeks, but maybe they'll be three glorious, peaceful weeks.  One can hope!