Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Grocery Store Pick Up Rated

Walmart - 4 stars out of 5

I've been using it for almost a year, here's the pros and cons:

Pros:

* The minimum buy is $35 and I can usually hit that twice a month.  Our primary grocery shopping is at Aldi and I use the Walmart pick up for anything I can't buy at Aldi or want name brands such as Old El Paso Enchilada sauce, Starbucks espresso beans, brand name cereals, Great Value Garlic Bread, Jalapeno Cheddar sausages, brand name chips and the occasional soda, and Walmart has a much better ice cream selection.

* You can also ask for things like school supplies, toys, bedding and containers.  I think you can order anything in the store but I mostly stick with groceries with a few others thrown in.  I've even ordered deli meat but it has to be one pound increment to start.  That's fine, we can go through a pound of deli meat in one week.  

* They are super professional and hard workers at our local Walmart.  The first couple of times I wanted to give them a hug because they were so warm and friendly.  If I only had this when my babies were in car seats!  

Cons:

* Sometimes an item is available on the app but when you get to pick up they either don't have it or will offer a substitute.  Usually they will send an email so you can be aware before going.  At the beginning of Covid-19 it was so prevalent that I stopped using pick up for awhile.

* If an item isn't available like a toy, and you were shopping in the store you could get something else.  The one time I tried this it was for a birthday party and it was really inconvenient to have to then go into the store when I wasn't planning on it so I've ultimately avoided items that can cause greater stress by just getting food that is not urgently needed that day.  

* The app doesn't track our vehicle correctly so when we get there the system shows we are still in transit, that can cause delays.  I hope they get this fixed soon.

Target - 4 out of 5

Pros:

* There doesn't appear to be a minimum requirement for pick up order.  I've ordered just under $20, then I placed an order that was half pick up and half delivery for items not in store.  

* You can go any time in 3 days from order placement and just let them know you are coming through the app. This super beats Walmart because they require you to schedule almost a day in advance, during the early days of Covid-19 it might be a three day wait.  I really love scheduling it whenever I happen to be in the area within the time frame.

* They are really strict about no touch.  My first visit I didn't know and the girl was new so she handed me the bag, the next time I was told they must put it in the car.  Then I have to reach around to grab the bag and make sure everything is there but safety is important.

Cons:

* In my last order, I purchased 8 bags of masks for the kids.  Out of the 8, six items had a message that masks were resized for better fit.  The two that did not have the message did not fit well.  Those are the two going back!  I kinda wish the person picking them out had thought to only give me the ones with the message to be consistent but that's the kind of detail I might bring to a shopping trip and that's one small thing you give up when asking a total stranger to do your shopping for you.  

Lowes - 5 out of 5

There doesn't appear to be a limit for pick up.  I ordered a $10 chair and it was fine.

They have the same policy as Target, order and tell them you are coming through the app.  I've been there twice now and each time it went smoothly.  The first time a guy was stationed outside and as soon as we pulled up he came right over and then went to get my item.  The second time I waited 15 minutes for a guy to show up but he did come out with my items.  It was a longer wait than normal but it was Labor Day so I won't ding them a star for that.

Aldi - 1 out of 5

Aldi, uses Instacart for pick up and they charge a hefty mark up for their efforts.  I realized this because I memorize prices and while putting items into the online cart I noticed ground meat was $3.85 and I last paid $3.39.  That's a 20% mark up!  I quickly discarded the cart and went there in person.  Aldi's in store prices are great, and this might be helpful to someone who cannot do their own shopping but I'm not willing to pay a mark up.  The sad thing is on their website they advertise free pick up and I think that's hugely misleading.  

Revised back to school plan

The first day went well enough, I kept Violette home and she did two hours of work where I would initiate a subject and then give her a page to work on while I worked my job.  Then I had an unexpected conference call in the morning and had to send her off to play her phone for an hour and a half.  Later that day when I picked up the others, I talked to the principal and learned she was less concerned about student spacing than I originally assumed.  Later in the afternoon my cousin came over to finish the lessons and we both realized if she could be squeezed into the classroom it would be better.  So today all four kids went to school!  The only problems we are having is school runs from 8:30 - 1pm and the kids are starving when I pick them up.  I've sent snacks but it's not enough so I might just prepare lunch right before I pick them up so they can eat when they get home.  It's either that or I pack lunches and let them stay with their dad until he's ready to leave at 3pm.  

I have to say today was unbelievably peaceful from 8 - 1pm.  I think it's the longest span I've been alone since they were sent home mid-March!  

Friday, September 04, 2020

Our Back to School Plan for 2020/21

The kids were sent home from spring break through the end of their 2019/2020 school year.  We did well, but in hindsight it's because the teachers gave less work, cut out entire subjects and the kids had the benefit of being in school for three quarters of the school year so they were used to the curriculum.  We were told our kids were outstanding students.  They did their school work while I worked full time.  Mike was home more often and could help with questions.  

For the fall semester, Mike will be working at the school from 8:30 - 3 or 4pm.  The school has two plans - distance learners and in-school learners.  The classrooms are small for some grades so there is a limit to how many students can squeeze into a classroom and be positioned six feet apart.  We decided early on to keep ours home, after all they did so well in the spring, and many parents were desperate to get their kids back in school.

This week I met with the teachers to pick up books and go through all the subjects they would be learning.  After reviewing the 7th grade workload I panicked and asked the teacher if there was space for mine to switch to in-school, thankfully she said yes.  My oldest freaks out when she can't hear instructions clearly, or can't figure out what to do next and I can just see myself having to sit next to her and teach along with the teacher, while at home on a lap-top, and the laptops haven't even been delivered yet, so she'd be home on our terribly old laptop that everyone hates.  So the new plan is for her to go for a few weeks until the computers come in, and if she feels comfortable enough to work from home she can switch.  I have a very strong feeling she will continue going to school.

My 2nd child is in 6th grade and I'm more familiar with his work load, but I'd rather put him in school for at least two weeks so he can get used to the curriculum and then he can come home.

My 3rd child is in 3rd grade and her class is too full for her to attend so I'm trying to make it seem really cool and awesome that she gets to stay home with me.  My cousin is the teacher and I have a huge comfort level with her so I'm very confident this will work out fine.

My youngest is in Kindergarten this year and her teacher said if we can teach her to read she can stay home, I can't do that and work full time.  She also is very determined to go back to school so she's going!

If my 2nd decides to stay home in two weeks, then I'll have two home and two in school.  I'll be driving in to get them every day at 12:45pm but we live 10 minutes from the school so it's fine.

One school mom is bringing her two kids over on Thursday's to watch so she can maintain her full time job.  

It's going to be an interesting year!

I plan to get up at 5am to work for 1.5 hours, then help get half the family off to school, get the remaining kids started on their school work, then back to work.  It's a good thing I thrive with a busy schedule, also a very good thing that I don't have any trips for the foreseeable future.  

I also plan to work on meals this weekend so there is less meal time prep on school days.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Rebuilding the Camper

 Last year we noticed water damage at the front of the camper.  Mike ripped out part of the floor and rebuilt it but he knew there was more damage to the front panel and so we made plans to rebuild after school let out.  School finished the 2nd week of June, and I think we started working on the camper the weekend of the 20th.  It took a month to remove the front cover, strip it down to the metal frame, and rebuild the front end.  We finished on July 19th.  Here are the progression photos:

The first image is after we rebuilt the inside panel.


In this image you can see the partial ceiling rebuilt.

This shows some of the insulation added to sandwich between inside layer and outside layer.


In this image, the girls are helping clean the front panel.  We wanted to remove the glue along the edges.


I loved the finished wooden look, but we had to put the cover back on to keep it water proof.

We didn't put in the cabinets so there is a gap at the roof line, we can fix this later when we have time to install the cabinets.


And here she is, put back together!

I didn't show the roof, but it was black with dirt.  While Mike did the rebuild, I got on the roof and cleaned it with a scrub brush.  Then put a special tape over the holes and painted white RubberFlexx over the entire roof.  Our goal is to waterproof the camper as much as possible.  I think I'll put another coat on in the fall before we cover it for winter.  

At this point we've put more time and money into this then what we'd ever get from re-selling it.  This is our first camper and we didn't catch the water damage before we bought it.  That's okay, we like it and we've made it our own.  Next thing I want to work on is the interior curtains and textiles throughout.  We also really want to re-paint the exterior panels and get rid of all the branding.  I'm really looking forward to continued customization!!  It's hard work, but we enjoy the end result.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Burn the Buggers!

My precious butternut squash has an infestation of bugs.  I learned from a You Tube video that these bugs must be removed by cutting off the infected leaves and killing the bugs.  The first thing I thought of was a fire!  The eggs are tiny bronze dots and the bugs look like tiny green ticks!  I think they were baby bugs because when I look them up online, the adults look like stink bugs.  I never saw an adult bug.  






Friday, July 10, 2020

Update from my June 26th Post on the Coronavirus

I feel history deserves a footnote saying although we came in contact with those who had it, we did not get the virus. We quarantined for two weeks.  We missed my family reunion which was devastating, but I still think it was the right decision.  If we had contracted the virus we'd have felt terrible about passing it along.   

Friday, June 26, 2020

Squirrels did this



We almost had a crushed flamingo!  I had a mint plant on top of the stump and the squirrels had been digging in there.  I put a rock in the place where they were digging but I guess they came back and got a little too aggressive!  I've since moved the plant to the ground.  I thought about nailing the planter to the stump but they could still rock the entire thing over.


After the accident, with more rocks added to prevent digging.

Mint spreads fast so we've put it in a pot to keep it stationary and it helps prevent mosquitoes.

The stump in the back is there to give the squirrels and occasional cat something to jump down on instead of the birdbath which can also fall over.  Now I guess we have two stumps for that purpose.



Quarantining Just Got Real

Wednesday I attended a funeral with my cousin and aunt.  Yesterday we got the news that a family we sat beside had spent time over Father's Day weekend with family members that tested positive for the Coronavirus.

Their 25 year old relative from Florida, flew up to visit for Father's Day weekend.  She felt sick enough to get tested and while waiting for test results, visited with family on the 17th and 20th but neglected to tell them she was waiting for test results.  The 20th gathering was outside, and that's the one that the family we sat beside attended for three hours.  The 25 year old attended church the next day and hugged everyone in sight, then got her results the next day that she was positive.  The church has been forced to close for two weeks.  The family that sat beside us, has not been tested but say they feel fine, their grandparents who attend my home church have tested negative.  

We have my family reunion this weekend of which only half the family were attending, but it was still considered a precious time to spend with family we only see once a year.  Now due to caution and concern that could have contracted the virus, we are forced to stay home.  My aunt will be devastated, she has dementia and was really looking forward to this reunion, so much that it was all she talked about and it's going to be really hard to explain to her why we can't go.  We don't know how many lucid years she may have left so it's extremely hard to stay home.

Our logic in staying home is this:
  • My brothers both work for companies where they have to report if they've come in contact with anyone who is known to have the virus or even suspects they might have it.  This could result in them being sent home for two weeks.  One brother can work from home, the other would be sent home with no pay for two weeks.  One has to fill out paperwork every day that states he hasn't to his knowledge come in contact with a sick person. 
  • I reflect on how upset I got on hearing the news that someone thought they might have it and got tested but meanwhile went about their activities like nothing was wrong and I said to myself, I just can't do that to my family.  How could I put my family through that frustration?  
  • While the event this family attend was outside, they have 3 young girls, given the nature of 25 year old hugging everyone in sight, it's best to assume she probably cuddled with her nieces and thus they could be carriers.  
  • The family that sat next to us had a daughter that coughed throughout the service, a deep cough that sounded like bronchitis to me but enough of a cough to wonder why did they bring her to an indoor service?!?  I don't know the time line of how fast a child or person could get infected, we sat with them on the 24th and the event they attended was on the 20th, could she get sick in 4 days?  Seems like it could be a cough from another illness but the doubt is still there.
I'm told that it takes at least 48 hours to become symptomatic, which means today at 10am we've reached 48 hours. We are now going into strict quarantine until I can get tested next week, Tuesday or Wednesday and hopefully we can get a test result by next Friday.  I'm trying really hard to not be super bummed out and discouraged.  

Saturday, June 20, 2020

2019 Garden VS 2020 Garden


2019 June Garden - covered in lettuce towers


2020 June Garden - one lettuce tower on the outside of the fence

I liked the wooden rows last year, but it didn't stop lettuce from invading and we didn't do a very good job of keeping it weeded out so it kinda took over.  This year, it never showed up in the main garden so I guess we got it out last year.  

Our garden fence needs rebuilt, we've decided to do it in the fall when things cool down.