Monday, August 31, 2015

The tale of toilets

On Friday Ram's dad determined that the Lamb bathroom needed a new toilet. (I will explain that in another post.) On Friday they pulled the old toilet (#1) up and went and got some advice of how to install and what kind of toilet to buy. They bought a toilet on Friday.

On Saturday they put the new toilet (#2) in and after tinkering with it all day discovered that the bottom of the tank was porous and leaked too much to just be condensation.

On Sunday they took a break from toilet repair.

Today they pulled up toilet #2 and exchanged it for toilet #3. Toilet #3 had a crack in the tank near where you flush so they took it back and exchanged it for toilet #4. When they went to put the toilet seat on toilet #4 after installing it, the seat was cracked. They did not pull up the toilet this time. They exchanged the seat and installed seat #5.

On the way to the hardware store to exchange seat #4 they couldn't close the garage door with the garage door opener. They had to go to a different store to buy parts to replace the sensors on the garage door.

After 3 full days of toilet repair and 4 full days of not being able to use that bathroom, the Lambs will be able to use their toilet tonight. I will be able to park in the garage after a few days of tools and supplies all over it.

My MIL loves lots of ice in her iced tea. Right before this toilet situation a part on our ice maker broke off. We need to call the repairman about that because we have no idea where the part even goes much less how to repair it.

(This paragraph is full of sarcasm!) I am so glad that we bought a brand new house that is less than 4 years old! So far we have replaced a toilet, microwave, several door knobs, repaired the garage door opener, and had the dishwasher repaired.

The Lambs were unable to use their bathroom for the past 4 days so middle of the night bathroom trips were a little tricky. None of us have slept well during all this toilet repair. I expect us all to sleep really well tonight. We did not have any homeschool during the toilet repair. I am hoping it is cleaned up around here enough to have a regular day of homeschooling tomorrow.

When he left tonight, the last thing Ram's dad said was, "If you have the same problem with another one of your toilets, CALL A PLUMBER!"

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Homeschool Week 1

We began school on Monday like most of the public schools around us. I have friends that cloth diaper but they use disposables for the first several newborn weeks. I used this strategy and bought the Lambs frozen waffles for this first week of school. I have never bought waffles for them so this was an extra special treat. They get dressed and make themselves a simple breakfast while I get ready. They quickly learned that waffles are a treat, not the main breakfast, so they have to have something else. This is usually oatmeal or peanut butter on crackers or toast. Then I toast the waffles for them. While they eat their treat we read our Bible story together. Then the school day begins. I will be sad when the waffles are gone, I will be back to baking muffins or something like that for breakfast.

We are having 4 days of school this week. We have a field trip planned to a planetarium and Ram's parents are coming to visit. Lamb 1 and 2 are going to cross country just once this week. We also have a Cub Scout picnic. Piano lessons, confirmation class for Lamb 1, and PE Co-op will begin in September.

I am glad we began this week and I learned that they retained most of what they learned last year. We also made some progress in some subjects this week. It was nice to fit a couple of days of school in, then we'll have a long weekend. It was nice to begin school before we began ALL our extra activities. We still have a few subjects to add in, but we did the main subjects this week.

I am pleased with how the new schedule I made up is working. I will blog about what we are studying this year and our daily schedule in a future post.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Back to School

We began school yesterday. I have been very pleased with the progress made. Yesterday was a little crazy for a first day of school because my sister called and talked to me for awhile and my friend Joelle stopped by to pick up something and we talked for a little while. We fit a little school in-between those.

Lamb 1 complains about math but retained it over the summer. We jumped right in to finish a couple more lessons in his math book and will begin a new math book next week. I think this was more difficult than just beginning a new book. The standardized test he took last spring showed us he has some work to do in grammar. He began grammar today. I backed up and gave him a spelling test to try to figure out where he is at. He scored 100% on that test. He struggles with spelling so this was great!

Lamb 2 is also doing well in math, we are finishing the second half of the math book he did last year. I am hoping he can finish this book and start the next one before Christmas. I had him read BOB books just to see where he is at. He complains they are too easy, which is great news! His handwriting looks beautiful as compared to the beginning of last year. I want him to review printing and we will begin cursive in a few months.  We haven't begun piano lessons yet, but I am still requiring daily practice of whatever they want to play from their books. I was a little worried with no lessons over the summer. He has done great on this.

Lamb 3 is still my challenge to motivate. Yesterday with all the interruptions he did not do well and I was afraid of this year. Today was the opposite and he did everything he was asked to do. He is doing well in math. I am hoping he finishes his math book and begins the next one after Christmas. So much focus last year was on Lamb 2 learning how to read that Lamb 3 has been neglected in this area. I am going to attempt to work with Lamb 3 more this year. Yesterday showed me that he needs more fine motor skills before I can expect better handwriting from him. So he is going to have more time to do play doh and fine motor activities. We learned good fine motor activities when Lamb 2 went to OT. I taught first and second grade in the classroom. It makes me a little sad that this year Lamb 3 is my last second grader to teach in homeschool.

I will blog about our schedule and what we plan to study this year in a future post. Even after 6 years of homeschooling, it still amazes me that we just jump right in and begin school on the first day. Even with the tweaks in our schedule that I made this year (adding in grammar for Lamb 1, etc.) we just began where we left off last spring for each Lamb. There will be no review unless they need it. That is one reason why I love homeschooling-each Lamb is able to use their time wisely.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


When I was doing all the mending this week I remembered to put my thimble in my purse for quilt tying at church today. They have all the other supplies but I like to bring my own thimble. My thumb hurts right now. Why didn't I remember to use the thimble I had in my purse? Maybe I won't forget next time after pain tonight.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Ironing and Mending

When I was a girl my mom always had a pile of ironing on her ironing board. She would get motivated and iron the whole pile every couple of months. There were many dresses that I only wore when she ironed them. Sometimes I would outgrow those dresses before she completed ironing. I think most of those were hand me downs and she would have bought no-iron dresses if it was possible. Fast forward to when I have my own children and I rarely iron clothes. My iron is rarely used besides ironing tablecloths for special occasions and for sewing.

When my Lambs grow up they are going to remember that I always had a huge pile of mending. I sit down about once a year and mend everything in a couple of days. I decided this would be my mending week. I did surgery on two stuffed animals. Most of the t-shirts were from Lamb 2-even at age 9 he still manages to cut his shirt some times while he's cutting paper. I had various other small mending projects. Some of those were to try to sell at the used kids store with very minor holes that were easy to fix. Some of the mending pile was evaluation if it was worth fixing or keeping. Anything that Lamb 3 has outgrown or would outgrow soon is not worth the mending time. I removed the buttons (for crafts) from some of those and put them in the trash. When it is my mending week I understand why I only do this once a year. Each item needs to be evaluated separately of how and what to fix. I make piles by color so I have to change the thread and bobbin as little as possible. Some items take more thought than others.

Lamb 2 and 3 are thrilled to have two of their forgotten stuffed animals back. When it is time to put the clean clothes away next time all the Lambs are going to be glad to see a few more of their clothes. I am hoping to complete the pile this week and not have a huge pile in my bedroom.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Belated Happy Anniversary!

Due to technical problems I was not able to blog these pictures until today. My parents just celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. These are a few of the slides I brought home from their house. I still have over 700 slides to make digital, but I did complete most of their wedding photos. I am working on their honeymoon photos now. I hope to edit some of these photos more.
Their reception was held in the gym at the church. I don't think anyone had done that before. My parents just wanted some sandwiches and cake served before they left for their honeymoon. I would have done the same thing except our church school had too many steps without an elevator. 

Grandma Frieda and Mom

Outside of the church, time for the honeymoon!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Back to School Shopping

1. Why is it so difficult to find laminated maps made in the USA? I refuse to pay for a USA map made in China. I was thrilled to find a world map made by GeoNova on sale that was made in the USA.
2. I cleaned out our markers and glue etc. at both home and at church for Sunday School. I've taken advantage of too many 1 cent sales on glue the past few years. All that is organized now.
3. My neighbor said she spent $100 on school supplies when her oldest went to first grade at the public school. I really couldn't believe that when I do the deals at Office Depot and Staples etc. Then I started listening to moms talking to their children while in the school supply section recently and I think I'm starting to get it. When I taught in the classroom our list had tissues for the whole class to share and then normal items like pencils, glue, plain folders for each student. The lists are much more detailed and extensive now.
4. I went to Target today and I walked out without spending one cent. 10 years ago I loved shopping at Target. They just don't offer what I want at a price I want any more.
5. Even though we homeschool I do spend money this time of year on school and office supplies. This is the time of year that I buy things like sheet protectors to organize recipes, pencil boxes for organizing small toys, notebooks for piano lessons, etc. I buy what the stores have on sale and use my teacher discount when possible. I do the Staples rebates to get paper for 1 cent and donate it to our church for copies.
6. I have been shocked how much binders cost recently. When I was in grade school we all wanted Trapper Keepers and I did get one eventually. But for high school and college plain binders were fine. Even the plain binders are expensive now. Even at back to school time there aren't really deals on binders. Why are they so expensive?
7. I helped the Lambs get their personal money organized recently. We put their money in a pencil pouch in the front of a binder. I made them up their own lists in the back of the binder so they can record when they earn or receive money and when they spend money.
8. If I had more than one child in school I would make one list of what was required for all my children. I would take that list shopping instead of looking at multiple lists in the store. It drives me crazy in the store to see parents with several children shouting out to each child what they need while looking at multiple lists.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Health Insurance

I began being covered by Concordia Health Plan in 1996 when I began teaching. When we moved to MN we continued on CHP as Ram was a pastor then. We have been on a couple of different health care plans as part of CHP as we lived in different places and different churches gave different benefits. Recently there have been some changes to health plans (thanks to ACA) and our church was asked to make a decision of which health plan from CHP they would like their pastor to be on next year.

Our church leaders think CHP is really expensive but I'm not sure they are comparing and remembering what all CHP does. I have been doing lots of research on this because our church leaders do not have as much interest in this as I do since it concerns health care for MY family.

I recently came across this chart. I did not know some of these facts about CHP.
*CHP also covers dental, vision, mental health, substance abuse treatment. (I did know this, but it is a good reminder that many plans do not cover all this.)
*There is a three year waiting period to opt back into the CHP. (That makes the decision to opt out a BIG decision.)
*If a worker is disabled while on the CHP after 6 months of disability, the health premiums are waived for both the employer and employee. (We actually have friends that are church workers that have taken advantage of this. You hope to never need this, but if you do it is available.)
*If an employee is in the CHP for 5 years-If the employee retires early, they can purchase health insurance from CHP at the same rate as Lutheran employers, they get the group rate until they reach 65 and are eligible for medicare. (I knew this because my dad would have loved to have this benefit but he wasn't eligible because he hadn't been part of CHP at his early retirement.)
*If an employee is in the CHP for 5 years-If the employee dies while employed, the surviving spouse can stay on CHP at the Lutheran employer rate until they reach 65 and are eligible for medicare. (This has been in the back of my mind as we plan for life insurance and financial details. I always thought I would not be able to continue being a SAHM if something happened to Ram because I would need health insurance. Our Thrivent representative was shocked to see how good Ram's survivor benefits would be if something happened to him. Add in this benefit and it's even better than we thought.)

I would like to add a couple of more comments from my own personal experience.
*The Lambs go to a pediatric dentist and the receptionist there was shocked at how good of dental benefits we have. He said that very few of their other patients have dental benefits like we do. I had no idea our benefits were that good until he said that.
*We took full advantage of our high deductible plan last year when we met our deductible early in the year. Ram and Lamb 2 had surgery, Lamb 2 and Lamb 3 had speech therapy, Lamb 2 had occupational therapy, and we all had various other doctor appointments. All that was covered 100% after we met our deductible. I know that it is rare to meet your deductible, but our chiropractor receptionist was shocked that they would pay 100%, not even need to pay a copay then.
*When I was teaching it was not this way, but the last several years the vision benefits have been really good. An eye exam is $10 for Ram and for Ewe, free for the Lambs. We are allowed to get a complete pair of glasses every other year and my cost for my glasses last year was just $25. Ram's were more because he needed a stronger prescription, but still very affordable for what he needed. I have friends that only go to the eye doctor every other year because of the cost. I insist on every year for all 5 of us especially because the Lambs are homeschooled and we might not notice that they have vision problems since they aren't trying to see the whiteboard in the front of the classroom.

When I began doing my research on this, the lifelong Lutheran and the LCMS church worker in me kept hearing a voice in the back of my head saying, "It's really really bad to get off of Concordia Plans". Ram, who is not a lifelong Lutheran, told me that times have changed in the health insurance and medical world so much in the past few years that perhaps that voice in the back of my head wasn't so true any more. But when I read this chart, that voice is saying that it is even more important to stay part of CHP than I thought it was.

I still don't know which plan our church leaders are going to choose for us, but they have until September 8 to make a decision. In the meantime I continue to pray about this and will continue my research. I do want the best decision made for both Ram and for our small church. Right now I'm still unsure what the best decision is, but I do know from this chart that it is more complicated than just paying less of a premium each month. I also know that no matter what decision is made the Lord will take care of us.