Monday, November 23, 2015

Declutter Update 6

*I added all the 700s, 800s, and 900s to our library list and reshelved them in order. Ram and I both chose some to give away. The 900s are our largest section in our home library (a history major married a history minor). It is so good to have that all done and organized.
*I tried cleaning the shower door again using some ideas friends suggested. It still didn't remove all the soap scum. This is so frustrating to me, our house was brand new 4 years ago and this shouldn't be this difficult. I give up on that project.
*I reorganized the chest freezer. I had plans to clean out the fridge freezer and fridge on National Clean Out the Fridge Day, but that didn't happen. I restocked the freezer with several good deals recently and everything fit so cleaning it out can wait.
*I began new bags to organize the give away stuff. Ram needed to go get more liquor store boxes so organizing the give away books had to wait. We now have more boxes so I need to finish that project.
*The Lambs chose a few blankets to get rid of that they thought were babyish. I washed them and put them in the give away pile.
*I pulled all the Christmas stuff out because a lady at church asked to borrow my Advent wreath for an event. I pulled out what she would need for that and my Christmas china for setting my table for that event. I took all that to church. I organized our outside decorations so Ram can put them up after Thanksgiving. Then I put everything else back in the garage because it is way too early for me to decorate. It was good to be reminded again of what I have before the Christmas season. I hope to really downsize our Christmas bins after Christmas this year.
*I organized all my scarves. I didn't choose any to give away, but hopefully I will wear them a little more often now that I can easily see what I own.
*We went to an event where we needed to dress warmly so I pulled out all the Lambs hats and gloves. We were able to find what we needed for the event. We still need to declutter those, but they are all together waiting for that project.

We did school today but I am giving the Lambs the rest of the week off. It is just too difficult when the public school neighbors have Thanksgiving break. I plan to use the next couple of days to do some school planning and get a little more organized. It seems like I start off the year well and then after a couple of months the school room is a mess and my brain is also a disorganized mess of what goals I have for them. Hopefully next week I will feel more prepared to finish off this calendar year of homeschool.

The December calendar is looking very calm for us. Many events on our regular schedule are canceled in December. This year others have volunteered for church events so all I need to do is lead crafts for Sunday School for a couple of Sundays. Other than that I am not in charge of anything at church! I am hoping to get to some deep cleaning in my home after working on decluttering so much this fall. I would like to have the downstairs clean before we put up our tree. So that is my main goal for the next couple of weeks.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

When I was a sophomore in college...

I never imagined that I would have a conversation with my husband 20 years later about which version of Epic of Gilgamesh was worth keeping in our library. I also didn't imagine that having too many copies of Epic of Gilgamesh would be a problem.

BTW: My version stayed in our library! Thank you, Dr. Ferry!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Love Songs of Childhood

The Dead Babe

Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In agony I knelt and said:
"O God! what have I done,
Or in what wise offended Thee,
That Thou should'st take away from me
My little son?

Upon the thousand useless lives,
Upon the guilt that vaunting thrives,
Thy wrath were better spent!
Why should'st Thou take my little son-
Why should'st Thou vent Thy wrath upon
This innocent?

Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
Before mine eyes the vision spread
Of things that might have been: 
Licentious riot, cruel strife,
Forgotten prayers, a wasted life
Dark red with sin!

Then, with sweet music in the air,
I saw another vision there:
A Shepherd in whose keep 
A little lamb-my little child!
Of worldly wisdom undefiled,
Lay fast asleep!

Last night, as my dear babe lay dead,
In those two messages I read
A wisdom manifest;
And though my arms be childless now,
I am content-to Him I bow
Who knoweth best.

by Eugene Field

*I recently stumbled upon this poem in a book that my sister gave me 10 years ago. I am not posting it because of anything recent. It has been several months since my last miscarriage. It perfectly sums up the feelings I have had 11 times for my Lambs that are now with the Good Shepherd.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Today's Surprise

One of the reasons that we chose for Lamb 2 and 3 to not do Cub Scouts is because it is so expensive.* Dues are $225 per year. They can do fundraising to lower that amount or they can just pay the dues and not fundraise. Last year dues for those that fundraised were $100. That really was a bargain considering everything they do during the year.

This year they sold meat sticks and popcorn. Each boy sold to their own family and friends. They also got together several Friday nights and Saturdays this fall and sold outside of stores. Sometimes people gave them donations at the stores too.

We received a couple of e-mails this fall that fundraising was not going very well-pleading for Scouts to sell more before the fundraising ended. I was trying to figure out what we were going to do if the dues were $100 like last year or even higher. I was trying to figure out if we could afford it in our budget or if I needed to ask them for some financial help. I did have Lamb 1 attend every single fundraising opportunity there was this fall and he also sold a lot of meat sticks and a little popcorn to our family and friends. I figured if he had done all that then they would be more likely to help us if we couldn't afford the dues.

Today we were notified that the Pack had one of their best fundraising years ever! Each boy that participated in fundraising will only need to pay $40 dues. All those weekends selling were worth it. They sold A LOT of $1 meat sticks!

We can afford $40 dues. We told Lamb 1 how proud we are of him. We plan to buy a treat/prize to reward him since we saved paying Scouts so much money this year. I'm not sure what that is going to be yet, but he has all kinds of suggestions. He may also be rewarded by his Pack, but we'll have to wait until Wednesday for that.

The last two years during the fall we have been extremely busy. Most of that was Cub Scouts-both fundraising and other Scout activities. We are going to be so happy to have that family time on weekends back. Even the neighbor kids will be glad when Lamb 1 is done with Cub Scouts and available to play on weekends.

Lamb 2 will have a turn to pick an activity in February when Lamb 1 is done with Cub Scouts. I'm not sure what activity he will chose, but he has talked about gymnastics. I really don't think Lamb 2 or 3 would have wanted to put this much time into Cub Scouts. I think we will all be happier with a once a week activity or class.

*There are many other reasons why we chose to not allow Lamb 2 and 3 to do Cub Scouts. I won't go into all of them on my blog, but the main reason was the time involved. It split our family up for Lamb 1 to go with Ram every weekend fundraising and the other Lambs and I stayed home. Having the other Lambs join Cub Scouts too would have meant 3 different nights a week at den meetings and we were not willing to commit to being away from home that much. Plus it would have added more dues if all three would have been in Scouts. It was a great experience for Lamb 1 to be in Cub Scouts and I loved the activities like a hike that all the Lambs could do together. I'm glad that Lamb 1 was a Cub Scout but we learned from his experience that we don't want Lamb 2 and 3 to be Cub Scouts. Lamb 1 is also not going on to Boy Scouts, but that is for completely different reasons.

If you have a son that is in Cub Scouts and your Pack dues are not as expensive as ours, count it as a blessing. But it just didn't work for our family for where we live. I think what the boys learn at Cub Scouts is priceless, but we were not willing to invest that much time in Cub Scouts-especially in fundraising. We noticed that many of the boys involved were either only children, only boy in their family, or big age difference in their siblings. That would make a big difference if there were no other male siblings close in age like we have.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Declutter Update 5

I haven't posted about my decluttering projects for awhile. I did break for getting ready for the bazaar, but here is what is completed since the last update.
*We cleaned out the minivan and vacuumed it on the one year anniversary. It was really bad after being in the car so much during cross country season.
*I went through all my empty canning jars and organized them. I kept all the jam size and a few quart and pint size, but got rid of all the rest. I may regret that when I want to do canning and crafts, but for now I love all the extra space in my pantry! I really only use the jam size so it was ridiculous to have so many. I took them to our bazaar and they didn't even make it out to the sale, the lady that priced everything bought them for her daughter.
*I've been working on making recipes that use ingredients in my pantry. I made cranberry lemonade, chamomile lemonade, and Chex Mix. The Lambs loved all the "fresh" lemonade. It used cranberries from my freezer, chamomile tea, and fresh lemons that were on sale.
*I brought home some cookie cutters from my mom so I organized all that and got rid of the duplicates.
*The Lambs went through some of their dress up clothes/costumes and organized that.
*The Lambs went through their backpacks and bags and organized that.
*I organized the top shelf in the coat closet. This was mainly rewards for the Lambs. I organized their rewards and took out the prizes that were too babyish and I knew they would never pick them. I added all those to our Trunk or Treat. Our car was very popular with those prizes. I got rid of all those small prizes at Trunk or Treat. The kids loving picking a small toy instead of just more candy.
*I spent a day organizing our guest room. I still have some boxes to go through that I brought home from my parents, but the room isn't a complete disaster any more. Now I am ready to go through that one box at a time.
*I can't even tell you how much stuff I took to the bazaar, but it was a lot. I took a pair of lamps, a serving tray set, about 6 dozen canning jars, and bags and bags of misc. items and a few boxes of books. I was so happy that almost everything sold and helped the church make some money off of my junk treasures.
*All of the crafts that I took to the bazaar sold so I didn't have any to bring home and store here.
*Ram's parents came to celebrate my birthday and we gave some scrap wood to his dad and got it out of our garage.
*Ram had a set of two very large suitcases from when he studied in England. Since we have been married I don't know if we ever used them. We found the keys and donated them. They are too large to fly with today and too large to take in and out of hotels if you go anywhere by car. They took up a lot of space in the garage and I'm so glad they are gone.
*We took a few other items to donate when we took the suitcases. One was steps from when I did step aerobics at home. I only had a VHS for step aerobics so it was time for that to go.
*Ram took 3 1/2 boxes of books to the used bookstore and they wanted almost everything. We got $80 credit there.
*Lamb 3 decided to sell his Mickey Mouse scooter and buy a regular scooter. I took along a few other items to try to sell at the used kids store. Altogether we got almost $20 and I gave that to Lamb 3 towards his next scooter. He hasn't gone shopping for a new scooter yet. I was glad to get another large toy out of the garage-until it gets replaced with a new scooter.
*I began typing up the 700s in our library. I didn't realize how large this section is until I started typing them! When I am done typing up the list, I will reshelve them. I think I will find duplicates or books we no longer want while I am reshelving. This section contains books on art, music, games, and comic books.

A week after the bazaar I am very pleased with how much stuff we got out of our house and garage in the last month. It went to various places (thrift shop, used kids store for credit, used bookstore for credit, church bazaar, Ram's parents, and some was just trash or recycling). The important thing is that we got it out of our house and currently everything has been delivered where it was supposed to go. It doesn't seem like much progress until all that has been delivered and is no longer in the spot we set aside for give away stuff. It is not enough for me to decide to donate it, when it is finally out of the house is when I realize our progress.

My projects for the next week include:
*Finish organizing the 700 books.
*Try some of the ideas I was given for cleaning my glass shower doors and hopefully be successful this time.
*My freezer was cleaned out when the garage fridge died, but now I need to organize all the freezer stuff. I don't even know which freezer (inside house or garage) everything is in, much less Ram or the Lambs know. Everything fits, but it needs to be organized.
*Begin new bags/boxes to donate stuff as we go through it. We have a complete new start on this as everything is donated now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Whirlwind Weekend

Thursday our PE class went rollerskating. I will post about that in another post.

Thursday evening Ram and I went out on a date. Lamb 3 won tickets for a pre-showing of the Peanuts movie, but it was in the 21+ section so Ram and I used those tickets. We did not like the Peanuts movie. Afterwards we went out to dinner at a restaurant where we had a coupon. I will post more about the movie and dinner in another post.

Friday we got the Lambs out of bed to go to the library book sale. The fall sale is not my favorite as they sell by the book instead of by the bag. I was impressed that we got out of there by spending less than $10. We did find a couple of good treasures.

Friday afternoon Ram had his annual checkup and met our new doctor. She is from Fort Wayne, IN and she has three boys. Everyone in our family has completed all their annual doctor visits this year. Ram and Ewe just have a little to report for the Be Well program this year. It is good to have all that completed.

Friday afternoon we set up for the church bazaar. Saturday was our church bazaar. One lady made chocolate cupcakes and they sang happy birthday to me. She gave the Lambs  and me a cupcake and put the rest of her cupcakes for sale.

The bazaar was a success and we did better than previous years. We were at a point of wondering if it was worth all the work so it was good it was a success. The financial success is good too.

What did I contribute this year? The youth sold fancy coffee and homemade bread. Lamb 1 is now in youth group so that meant I needed to make some bread. All 4 mini cranberry bread sold, 2 big loaves of paleo banana bread sold, 1 out of 2 bread maker whole wheat bread sold, and none of my paleo pumpkin chocolate chip muffins sold. I didn't mind that the muffins didn't sell and brought them home for us. There were several youth involved and each made $22 (they divide the profits with whomever works a fundraising event).

The LWML makes and sells crafts. Last year I made tooth fairy pillows and Christmas ornaments with a Peanuts characters on them and none of my crafts sold. I took the same items that didn't sell last year and all of them sold this year! I also took a dozen jars of jam and 9 of those sold.

The LWML also runs a chocolate corner that sells homemade chocolate. All of my buckeyes sold. I also made a couple of items for this section that did not sell well and the ladies ended up giving them away to whomever bought something. I'll blog more about those items in another post.

I was the most pleased with the garage sale section also run by the LWML. I brought so much stuff over there. In the last month it seemed like every day I gave Ram a box or bag to take to church when he went to work. Those items were from all over my house-wherever I have worked on decluttering. My silver serving tray sold and also my lamps. The canning jars didn't even make it out to the sale, the lady that priced everything bought them. I had so many items marked 50 cents or a dollar and almost all of that sold. I estimate they made $70 on my garage sale stuff-all those little items added up. I love that some clutter is out of my house and it helped our LWML too. We were surprised that so much stuff sold. There were tons of books for sale and there were many left over, but many did sell. There wasn't a whole lot left over besides books. Someone from church will deliver the rest to donate this week.

We had several people to help clean up and we left church an hour after the bazaar sale ended.  We have never cleaned up that fast. I bought the leftover chicken noodle soup which my Lambs love so I didn't need to cook that night.

Sunday my Lambs were about the only kids there for Sunday School. I told the teachers to cancel class and not just teach my boys. I was in a hurry to get home and feed the Lambs before Ram's parents arrived. They ended up not arriving until late afternoon and we would have had plenty of time. I received nice birthday presents. We went out to dinner at a restaurant that gives free kids meals on Sundays. This is probably the last time for that because Lamb 1 will be 12 in March.

Monday I canceled school to try to get caught up after the bazaar. Ram's parents brought  dinner from Costco. I was scheduled to pick up chicken that evening. Ram did the pick up, we ate dinner, I delivered my friend Joelle's portion, and then Ram went to a church meeting. Our time with Ram's parents was short this time, but we were able to celebrate my birthday with them. I finished preparing 40 lbs of chicken last night. I still have 20 lbs left to do today. I cut it in small pieces so it is ready for recipes. That takes a long time but it worth it to be ready for recipes.

Today we were back to a regular schedule of practice piano, homeschool, and piano lessons. I am so glad the bazaar is done this year and was a success. After the chicken is finished I will take it easy this week before resuming my cleaning and decluttering next week.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Living frugally in our house

We decided that after 4 years living here we would have the furnace checked and any maintenance done before winter instead of during winter. When we first moved in we had the furnace checked and we haven't done anything since then except change the filters.

A couple of interesting examples of living frugally happened at this furnace checkup. We asked if he could look at the A/C while he was already out here and prevent a spring checkup bill. I knew that it was too cold to run the A/C but figured since we didn't have any problems this summer he could at least look at it and see if there was anything major that he would notice. Since we have never had a spring or fall checkup, the A/C unit was really dirty and there was really no way to avoid a spring checkup if we want our system to run efficiently. At least he tried to take a look at it. I will admit that we run our A/C a lot more days than we run our furnace so it should have a spring checkup too.

Second, I mentioned that the day he came to check out the furnace was the first day we turned on our heat. He said his house is much older so not insulated as well as ours so he has needed to have his furnace on for the past few weeks. The day that I turned the heat on was honestly the first day that our house temperature was lower than I would have set the thermostat. We were fine with sweaters and blankets until then. I will also admit that it is never hot in our house during the winter, we set our thermostat much lower than the average family.

Third, while he was out he took a quick look at our water heater. He mentioned that our water heater was set low and we could easily turn it up from where we have it without being worried of burning the children with hot water. He said most people have theirs set higher than we do. If the temperature ranges were very low, low, high, and very high- he was suggesting that we move from low to high. But we have experimented with the temperature from where it was set when we moved in and where it is set seems to be perfect for us. If we lived where it was colder we would set it higher. But being set to low seems to be perfect for us and saves us money too.

Fourth, he told us that our furnace is the EXACT right size for our house and the builder planned that well. If we had any more square footage the furnace would not be big enough. If we had any less square footage the furnace would waste energy.

All this added up to tell me that even though we get disgusted with how easily things break here and we have done more repairs than we expected, it was a good financial decision to buy a brand new house. The furnace man confirmed all that for me. I'll continue to wait to turn on the heat until we really need to, set my thermostat low, and keep the water heater set low to save even more. Every little bit saved helps the budget!