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Monday, December 28, 2015

Multitude Monday

Here it is, the last Monday of the year.  I spent the past hour consolidating an old blog that I had written from 2008 - 20013.  It was more private than this blog, not advertised, a place to write quietly about faith.  I found a long series about Multitude Monday with lists of things I was thankful for and it seems that I stopped in 2012 at 285 gifts so I thought today might be a good time to resume a list of things I'm thankful for:

286.  Evie, who has been sleeping for the past hour in such a way that has allowed me the time and space to update my blog!
287.  Evie's first birthday is tomorrow, that means we made it through the difficult nights and all the feeding challenges!  She's almost a year old and so spunky!!
288.  This blog, a history of my toughest challenges from the past 8 years, a space to learn from my mistakes and smile at the good times we've had as a family
289.  My children, each and everyone is a blessing.  I could never say I love you enough to my lovely children.
290.  My younger brother, who came over on Christmas day and played games with the kids ALL DAY LONG even though he only had 3 hours of sleep the night before AND made us homemade Apple Cider Donuts before coming!!!

Christmas and Staying on a Budget

This is the first year I've actually tried to stick to a budget with Christmas.  It's not that I ever went crazy or anything but I just didn't keep track of expenses in prior years.  This year I set an arbitrary budget of $500 for all family and that was meant to include shipping expenses.  We went over budget by $55.61 and quite frankly I could have stayed on budget because I was tracking all the way through Christmas Eve but for some reason I panicked that we didn't have enough presents for the kids and so I overspent at Target AND went to Big Lots and bought 3 more 10 dollar toys.  It was unnecessary because they were more than happy with their other presents. 

Advice to myself for next year:
  • Start earlier with a plan and stick to it!
  • Husband and I have agreed to one big present for each child, it might be something we suggest family go in on but it will be one toy item that they can get excited about.
  • All other items should be stocking stuffers or family presents.  I had the idea to pack one box with family style gifts that could include board games, movies, family calendar from Shutterfly, etc. 
Gifts for extended family:
This year we did plan early and made Peppermint bark and Apple Cinnamon Jelly for our extended family.  It was an awesome way to quickly pack a box and ship to family who are not local.  The part that put me way behind was photos.  I love to pack and send out photos to my Texas family but it takes some serious planning to make sure every family gets the right photos, one of each child, etc.  I spent extra time scanning photos and ordering them from Shutterfly.  It was disappointing when the wallets never even showed up - still need to call Shuttefly about that.  If I can plan this part earlier then I can ship earlier and avoid the more expensive fees that happened this year from shipping right on the deadline!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Stupid Black Friday Sales

There is really nothing more frustrating than thinking you got a good deal and seeing the price has dropped $15.00 in the week before Christmas!  Boo you Walmart!!!

My husband theorized there are two ways to look at this:
1.  If it appears to be a toy that's going to sell out, then buy it early.
2.  If it's a toy that's pretty common, such as the remote control car we bought, then wait until the week before Christmas and get the reduced rate.

Lesson learned. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Managing Kindle Content for kids ages 7-3

The kids have been using my Kindle for the past year, with permission, and finding new inventive ways to see content that we don't exactly want them viewing.  Just as I was about to say NO MORE KINDLE I discovered Amazon FreeTime.  There were only two minor hurdles in setting this up:

1.  It doesn't seem to work on iPhones, which our kids have two old ones that I could not get to sync properly with their new profiles that I set up through Amazon.

2.  I had to set my husband up as a user which we thought was a little odd since he always uses mine but because it's a "family" account, Amazon links both adults so we can both go in and share content with the kids.

There are several brilliant options such as:

1.  We can set time limits on how long they can use the Kindle.
2.  We can set reading goals.
3.  They can only see the content we set up for them which is books, apps and videos.
4.  We have up to 4 profiles to use for kids and that's great since we have 4 kids (although one's a baby and won't need this for quite some time)

I'm tentatively excited even though the set up time was almost an hour - it just took me that long to figure everything out, maybe a more adept person with technology can navigate faster or maybe it was persistence in trying to set it up on the iPhone that wasted so much time!  At least I can save you that step!

Now I'm thinking I should get my own Kindle next year and designate this the "Kid Kindle" but after buying the house recently we're getting tough on expenses so I might just have to deal with reading kindle books on my iPhone. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The children now know I write about them

My kids have heard about my blog.  It happened when Charlotte wanted to hear about all the naughty things she had done as a child and I said I had written them all down somewhere safely.  She interrogated me further and learned I'd written something called a blog with over 200 posts about her.  Then Sam chimed in and asked how many I'd written about him - only 50!?!  What?!!!!!!

Soooo, I'm on a mission to write more about Sam.  I don't see how I can possible back date 150 posts so I'll just fill in the blanks with important milestones like birthday's, first day of school, etc. and I'll try to write about him more often.

The only reason Charlotte has so many posts is because she was an ONLY CHILD when I wrote the bulk of those and I was desperate for other parents advise on parenting issues so I blogged regularly and visited over 50 blogs while commenting regularly.  It was my heyday in blogging and since having more kids I'm down to sporadic reading of other blogs, never commenting and rarely even blogging any more!  Such is life when you are mom to 4 kids! 

MD House Update

We called State Farm to discuss home insurance for our new house but first we had to figure out how to get the keys from the lock box.  We bought this through an internet website called Hubzu so they gave us the key code.  After dropping the two older kids at school, husband and I made our way to the house with two little ones in tow. 

We happily removed the sell sign and entered the house to find it cold, drafty and very very damp.  It's been raining quite a bit since we put a contract on the home on 10/22 with every rain storm making husband grit his teeth at the added water damage coming through the leaky roof.  The 2nd floor looked worse then when we had last seen the house, more ceiling tiles have falling down in rooms that before didn't seem to have any damage so our guess is the house is very damp inside. 

I desperately want to turn on electric and get some air movement in there.  Maybe put a dehumidifier on every floor.  Mold freaks me out, I have visions of the houses in New Orleans condemned because they were covered in black mold.

Husband says the first step is getting the roof fixed but I'm freaking out about the mold growing.  He even found a mushroom growing on the floor!  I think we're both freaking out about different things so I hope it doesn't lead to too many arguments. 

Oh, and State Farm can't insure the house because the walls are plaster and there is no one in the area who is skilled to fix plaster walls and I guess the other damage was an issue as well.  They gave us another number of someone who might be able to help with insurance.  I'm not sure I care at this point.  I'd rather get the house in more stable condition before spending money on insurance.

I did however manage to send in the "turn on mail" card and called trash service to get that set up but we need to turn on water before the trash service will start.  So many things to do! 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

We Bought a House!

It's an American Foursquare house built in 1922 that needs a roof repaired and possibly the entire back wall rebuilt from water damage.  It's going to take some time to fix it up before we can live in it. 

We bought it really cheap for 40,000 after closing costs with the idea that we could take out a home improvement loan for another 20K and still have a house for considerably less than the going rate of 100K in our area.  So far it seems like a great idea, except for the leaky roof and water damage. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

When I want to clean the basement so much I can hardly stand it

but I'm holding  a sleeping baby who shrieked for at least 30 minutes before falling asleep so I don't dare put her down or risk starting that cycle over again!  So I sit here holding my 11 month old and I tell myself, she's the last baby, enjoy it while you can because the oldest are busy and full of projects involving play and intense arguments that seem to require constant arbitration - except when I lock myself in a room with baby, then they can't reach me.  Notice how it becomes us and them as they get older but as they are babies they cling to us like little baboons - both in sleep and awake.  Yes there are more down moments, she's in full crawling/house surfing mode but even that requires a certain amount of oversight.  My husband tried to do the laundry earlier but kept hearing non-existent screaming.  It gets in your head and you feel almost certain someone is in constant peril when you can't get to them in 30 seconds.

So we sit, either husband or I, with our tiny one, day in and day out, until she's old enough to join the fray.  Then my friends, we'll be in that basement cleaning and organizing it like it's our job!