Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Family Visit Review

Rather than try to attempt to make this into a few posts I decided to make a summary post.  A couple weeks ago I mentioned that my in-laws were going to visit for Christmas and that I would most likely be otherwise occupied during that time.  Well, I was.  So here is a summary of what's happened with my family over the last couple weeks:

My in-laws visited for 10 days.  During that time:
  • The kids went to the beach multiple times with Oma and Opa. Daughter got wet and sandy and son played with his trick kite.  They both had a blast and Mommy got some work done.
  • My son went to his first sleep over (I think Mommy had a harder time with that than my son).
  • I did lots of baking mostly as gifts but for us also.
  • I had a few showings, inspections, etc.
  • My in-laws were able to find a renter for the house they bought the last time they were down here (they bought it before prices went up even more, planning to retire in a few more years).
  • Hubby started his night shift schedule.  It's really worked out well so far (even with family visiting).
Around 2AM the night / morning before my in-laws left town, my little brother got to our house for a 5 day visit.  So that meant we had 9 people, 5 cats, and 1 dog at my house for that night.  Hubby and I were in the camper along with my brother and everyone else (and all the animals) was in the house.  The more the merrier right?  While my brother was in town:
  • My son played extensively with the small parachute my brother gave him.  My brother is a parachute rigger which means he packs and fixes parachutes so to make one wasn't too hard.
  • One of my first cousins and his family came and visited for a few hours.  It was a great way for them to see all my family at once since they hadn't seen my brother in over 15 years.  In fact my cousin's wife had never met my brother.
  • My parents, brother, and my family of 4 went to Busch Gardens 2 days before the New Year.  Yes, it was crowded but it was still fun.  My dad and brother hadn't been in close to 20 years so they were able to enjoy a couple of the new rides as well as our favorite from the last time they'd been there. My mom and daughter were able to see a couple of the shows too.  I must admit, I'd never been when it was that crowded before.  We got one of the last parking spaces in the farthest parking lot  (it was about 1.5 miles from the entrance of the park).  The good news though... it was so crowded they didn't charge parking because they didn't want to hold up the line taking money from people.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Very Family Christmas

This year we are going to experience a first.  We are going to have my parents and hubby's parents staying at our house for Christmas this year.  Hubby's parents arrive tomorrow after dinner so I just wanted to warn you all that as sporadic as my posts have been lately, they may get worse.  Then again, I may have fun things we've done with ALL the grandparents to share, so we shall see.

For now, I must get some cleaning done and dinner cooked.  I just wanted to let you know before I got busy again.  If I don't get a chance to post before then, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

When It Rains, It Pours. But then Comes the Rainbow

As my regular readers are aware, we recently had to replace our dryer.  Others may know that one of the elements in our oven died a couple months before that.  Rather than bore you with the details, let's just say that since then, it seems like every large piece of equipment in our house is dying or has died.  Needless to say, dealing with these issues during the slow time in real estate around here is hard on our already-tight budget to say the least.

All of that changed this week though.  How's that?  Well, today hubby finished a week of paid training for a new job.  A regular paying job.  A job where he is eligible for benefits in a few months.  As a family that has been self-insured for 9+ years this is a big thing.  As a family that has been dependent upon contractor pay (can you say irregular) for those same 9+ years, it's an even bigger deal.  To know that we will have money each month is an answer to prayer.  And what's even better, next week he's set to switch to a "night shift" that will still allow for me to homeschool and work in real estate.

Not only will his work schedule not impede on our current lives (much) it will mean I don't have to work quite as hard and will mean we have the ability to fix those things that are broken or breaking around the house.  God it good!

Oh, and a big shout out to hubby's new boss.  He's the friend that recommended hubby for the job.

Hubby gets to work on this beast (plus many other large pieces of mechanical equipment).  Anyone who knows my hubby knows he loves to tinker.  I think he's going to like his new job.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

An Inspiration

Everyone has someone they look up to.  Someone who they respect for their skill (athletes), their knowledge (a teacher growing up), or their ability and willingness to help people in need. 

Well, today I want to take time to honor someone (two someones actually) who inspire me.  I've known them for about 15 years now, but each year that passes, I get to know a little more about their heart and passions.

Gan taking pics of my kids
 They have a love for their family that is wonderful to behold.  I know for a fact that they pray for everyone in their family each day.  They pray for missionaries (who they've never met) on a regular basis (probably daily as well).  They participate in functions at their church as much as their health and time allows.  They are a bundle of love and affection and are always on the go.  In fact, I don't think I have a single picture of the two of them together.  Because they are always doing something.  And considering they are in their 90's that's pretty amazing if you ask me.
Gramps watching the festivities

That love extends to each other too.

Today is the 70th anniversary of my husband's grandparents.  Not only are they a wonderful example of Godly people, they are a wonderful example of a Godly marriage.

We love you Gan and Gramps!  Wish we could be there to help you celebrate.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Back In My Element

Before my son was born, I had various office jobs (think administrative assistant type work).  For each job, I was responsible for managing at least one project and the way I did that was through a database.  It was simple enough for me to create the database (wizzards make it particularly simple these days), but what I really enjoyed was creating reports and queries.  It was fun being able to figure out what information I (or my boss) wanted to see on a regular basis and then to create the documentation.  When I had to create a formula to do some math it was even more fun. 

Over the last couple months I've been thinking about how I could better manage my time.  I want to spend less time working and make the same if not more money (who doesn't want that, right?).  There are numerous ways I think I can accomplish that.  The one I am focused on the most right now is to make it so I have access to my notes no matter where I am.  And guess how I've decided to do that?  Yep, a database.

Right now I write everything down in a large notebook.  That means when I'm away from my desk (meeting with clients, taking my kids to the dentist, or even grocery shopping) I don't have access to my notes.  I can't begin to tell you how many times I've been in the car and gotten a phone call.  I always intend to write it down when I get back to my desk but more often than not, I forget till days later.  Now I will be able to make those notes even when I'm out (don't worry, I will not text and drive).

After spending a couple weeks researching which database will work best for me, I'm about to start the fun part... setting up the database, queries, and reports.

Pray for my family.  There's a really good chance I'm about to become very distracted. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Where'd That Come From?!?!

Did you ever have one of those days where you had everything planned out and then things didn't go as you planned?  Today was one of those for me. 

This morning I took the kids on a trip to see a play with their homeschool group (awesome by the way).  Then after the play, was a preview of a house followed by an inspection.  If all things went well, I would take the kids to their play, have time to eat lunch at home when dropping them off before heading back out.  Then I should have been back by 4:30.

I didn't get home till 5:15, but I did get all those other things done.  In addition:
  • I had computer issues (multiple times).  
  • Those issues caused me to almost miss a deadline.  I made it by 7 minutes only to find out 4 hours later that the deadline wasn't quite as written in stone as I was lead to believe.  
  • And I also dealt with numerous out-of-the-blue phone calls.
All I know is that I'm chalking it up to being a Monday.  A Monday where lots of people had off work so they were available to bother contact me.

The good thing that came out of this?  Hubby saw how frazzled I was and got Chinese for dinner so I didn't have to make anything.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

You Never Know What You'll Learn on a Field Trip

Anyone who knows my daughter well, knows that she loves animals.  She's never been into dolls.  She's always been into stuffed animals and even rubber or plastic animals. 

And her all time favorites for the last few years have been birds (exotics) and dolphins.  Considering how smart these animals are, she knows they can be trained so that is now what she wants to pursue.  So when one of the homeschool groups we are a part of set up a field trip yesterday to a local "zoo" that is known for it's birds, I jumped at the chance.  I guarded that day from work like you wouldn't believe, because I knew she would LOVE this trip.

And I was right!  Not only did we get to see lots of birds,

I'm guessing there were at least 20 - 30 macaws.

We got to see a reptile show,

Seriously not willing to get close to that.
A wildlife show,

This owl had some character.  I loved watching his "horns"

And a bird show. 

One of the more famous birds: Frosty was on the Ed Sullivan show in the 60's riding his unicycle.

And after the bird show she got to hold one of the birds from the show (not Frosty).  Can you say happy?!?

Their claws apparently tickle.  The marks left behind make me think otherwise.

We also got to ask the trainer what she studied in college so we now know what my daughter needs to focus on (biology of course, but psychology too - who knew?). 

Overall, a great day:  The kids had lots of fun, we made some new friends, learned lots, and it was a beautiful day to top it off.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The New, "Old School"

I admit it, I'm getting older.  We all are.  Each day we are one day older than the day before, and I'm okay with that.  But there are some things that help you realize just how old you are.

An example that easily comes to mind... when one of my kids asks me, "Did they have X (color TV or Legos for example) when you were a kid?"  Then there's the, "What's that Mommy?" while pointing to a telephone book that was delivered to our house the other day.  Another was realizing that my son will be 10 (double digits folks) in 3 months.  CRA! ZY!

And a couple days ago a good friend of mine sent me an email.  Why does that make me feel old?  Because she sent an email because sending an actual letter was just too old school.  Sending a letter... old school?  I suppose so, but it seems so odd that's it's gone out of fashion so quickly.

That got me thinking.  My son is familiar with email;  how it works and what it's for.  My daughter has a general knowledge of it, but has never sent or received one.  They are not old enough to have an account, but I'm sure Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or something very similar will be their version of email in the future.  Will their kids be asking them one day what Facebook was? 

I'm not sure.  But I sure hope when it happens, they feel as old as I do when they ask me their questions.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


For my cat is finally happening. 

She's been able to reclaim the couch, the window sill, and our laps.

Only a week without the other 2 cats and she has reclaimed the house and her joy.  Doesn't this just scream happy cat to you?

Not a care in the world... Slept like this for quite a while.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I Need Your Help

OK folks.  I'd really like some responses here.  You can make them here or if you know me in real life you can let me know somehow.  I'm planning on creating a blog in the not so distant future designed to help people not familiar with my part of Florida discover what is so great about my part of Florida.

Here is where you come in.  What kinds of things would encourage you to choose one area over another? Are you more likely to look at a specific location (neighborhood you've heard about) or to enjoy a certain lifestyle, such as beach, waterfront, golf course, or an arts community. 

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Good Riddance

Back on April 7, I posted this as part of an update on what we were up to:

"Today we took in 2 cats for an undetermined period of time.  Their owner is being evicted and needs a place for them to stay while he gets back on his feet and finds a place that will allow cats.  His story is so sad that we just felt we had to help him and his cats (he tried 30+ other shelters / rescue organizations before finding the one we help with)."

Today, their owner picked them up.  Needless to say, we were not expecting to keep them for almost 7 months.  Their return was long-overdue to be honest.  You see, one of the cats liked to pick on our cat (fighting with her and taking her food).  She even picked fights with her sister.  And it's been escalating as each month went by.  One of the cats is so fat that she can't clean herself.  She's a friendly cat, so she would rub her stinky self against you trying to get petted.  If she were able to clean herself she would have been the perfect cat, but needing to clean her every couple days was getting to be too much.

It's safe to say my family is happy the sister cat's have left our house.  Our cat of course now has freedom to roam the house.   The rest of us are looking forward to being able to take in kittens again soon.  I think I'm going to let our cat have a little cat "alone time" for a bit first.  Poor thing has been through a lot over the last few months.

The big one from behind

Big one from the front

Our cat is on the seat.  The sisters are guarding watching from above.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Big Girl

This year my kids are taking karate together and my son gets to take robotics class from his father.  So in an attempt to keep things a little bit equal we decided our daughter could sign up for something on her own.  She decided to join a Girl Scout troop.  She already knew the leader and one of the girls pretty well, so that made it a little easier (for those that don't know, she's shy).  But there were some other things that drew her to the idea as well.

There's the uniform.

Doesn't she look proud?
The fun activities.

We got to make potato stamps = fun and easy

Making new friends.
Story / coloring time = only time they are quiet  ;-)

And earlier this week, my daughter had her first Girl Scout ceremony where she received her first badge.

1st badge earned = so excited she didn't stay still long enough for me to get a good picture.
It's a bit surreal, because it brings me back to my time in Girl Scouts.  And can I just say, remembering the pledge and songs... just like riding a bike  :-)
Oh, and consider this your notice.... my daughter will be taking cookie orders in January.  If you'd like some, she'd be happy to help you out.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Triple Blessing In Disguise

Saturday morning was a pretty typical morning.  I had a few showings in the afternoon but my morning was free, so I was doing stuff around the house (cleaning, organizing, etc).  So was my mom.  And one of the things she was doing was laundry.  That's when she discovered that our dryer was dying (it was making a grinding noise and smelled like something was burning).

So what did I do?  I called my hubby who was out yard saling and let him know that he may need to plan on repairing the dryer, but if he finds another good deal buy one.  Another good deal?  Yep.  You see, our washer has been irritating me for a couple months now because nothing I do can get it balanced.  We've realized it wasn't leveled so we fixed that (which made it worse so we unleveled it again).  I've even tried shifting clothes around numerous times each load but every time it hits the spin cycle it tries to dance out the door of the laundry room.  So a couple weekends ago, he called me while he was out yard saling because he had found a washer and dryer set (that had never been used) for $200.  Unfortunately, while he was calling me to find out if I wanted them, someone else bought the set.

So on Saturday, shortly after I had sent him my text message about the dryer dying, hubby sent me a text that he'd found a washer and dryer set for $150.  $50 less than the set the weekend before... yay!  Granted they were 4 or 5 years old, but they are a really expensive brand.  The only issue was that he was told the washer has some strange thing where it has to sit for 5 minutes between each wash.  Being an electrical engineer, he figured he would look at it and see if he could figure it out.  Worst case, he figured it might be the circuit board which would cost $100.

The boys trying to diagnose our issue
A couple days ago he hooked it up to see if he could duplicate the problem.  He wasn't able to duplicate that problem, but he discovered a more serious issue.  Perhaps it was a result of moving it, or perhaps the symptoms the previous owner experienced were the beginnings of our problem.  Whatever the case, a part was broken in a such a way that the washer was filling and draining at the same time.  Kinda hard to wash clothes that way, right?

Being the handy kind of guy he is (as well as having access to some really cool tools), hubby made the part he needed, and now I have a functioning washer and dryer again.  I hate folding laundry but the washing and drying will be much more fun now.

Oh, and another bonus that came out of all this... when we moved into the house, there was carpet in the laundry room.  Crazy, right?!  And I've been wanting to remove it and put down tile ever since we moved in.  I knew I didn't want to mess with it till we were replacing the washer and dryer.  The other day I told hubby to keep his eyes out for some cheap tile as he was out and about (since it looked like we would be needing a washer and dryer soon).

When hubby brought home the washer and dryer, we hadn't found any tile yet.  I decided I would rather have concrete floor than that carpet anymore so I decided it was time to rip out the carpet.  How surprised was I when I found this under the carpet...

Tile!  And we didn't have to buy any.   And we didn't have to lay it either.  God is good!

Old set: currently waiting in our carport for a new home

New set with "new" floor

Update:  Shortly after posting, I was working on my computer which is near the laundry room and heard a pop.  I run into the laundry room and find water pouring out from the back of the washer.  Oh no!  I run to get the shop vac and yell for my dad (who was closer than hubby).  We proceed to clean up the water and as we are discussing whether we will be buying a part for the washer after all, my son walks in, looks at the valve area behind the washer and dryer and say "I know what's wrong."  I look at what he was looking at and then I noticed it too... the drain pipe had come out of it's hole and was on the floor.  So thankful for easy fixes (and a practical and smart son too).

Sunday, September 29, 2013

How Time Flies

It's hard to believe that 27 years ago I became a big sister!  It was something I had wanted for numerous years. 

Those that know me, you are probably doing the math.  Yes, I have a brother that is quite a few years younger than me (and I'm not sharing how many).  In fact, I tell most people who ask, that we were pretty much 2 only children that happened to live in the same house briefly.

Not only has time flown by, but my brother is now flying in his own way.  A couple years ago he found his passion.  I'm so proud of him for following it (a bit scared if I think about it too hard), and doing it so well.

What is his passion?  Jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (and helping others do it too).  He is currently a parachute rigger (gotta pay the bills right).  This has allowed him easy access to be able to parachute himself.  In fact he did his 150th solo jump yesterday.  His ultimate goal is to do tandem jumps (where someone is attached to you) and also be an aerial videographer / photographer.  He has a few more solo jumps before he can do either of those, but he's well on his way.

So proud of you little bro!  Love you to the sky and back (safely I pray)!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Branching Out

This evening, my daughter tried a new group activity.  Anyone who knows my daughter, knows she's very shy (at least for a while), so I was curious to know how she would do.

So what was this new thing?  Girl Scouts (Brownies specifically).  She had a great time.  And can I say, it brought back memories for me as they spent some time learning the girl scout pledge and one of the songs.

Did she open up completely?  No.  But I think her troop is going to do just that, given a little more time.  And we are both looking forward to the next meeting.

Painting with different media (her favorite was bubble wrap).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Beauty is a Beast

As my regular readers know, in March of 2012, we bought a short sale that needed quite a bit of work.  In addition to the typical things (like paint), we've had to replace a pool pump, do lots of tree trimming and yard work, and clearing out junk that the previous owner left behind.

Wow!  Looking at these pictures, I forgot how much she left behind in just the front hall.

Another thing we had to do was to remove all the carpet in the house.  The previous owner had cats and she let them do whatever they wanted all over the house.  Needless to say, that left some nasty carpet.  Add to that the fact that the cats had flees and the carpet had to go.  Immediately.

So before we actually moved in, we spent 2 months (on the weekends) ripping out all the carpet and installing laminate flooring in all the bedrooms.  We decided that we wanted to tile the hallway that had been carpeted, but that wasn't as urgent since we wouldn't have furniture in those areas to move around.

We took a few months to find tile that would work on Craig's List and at the local Habitat for Humanity store, and then hubby got to work.  Slowly.  He's done tile before, but this time was different.  He wanted to make a statement.  And he was doing it on the diagonal which meant more cuts.

But I think you'll have to agree, it turned out very well.

Coming in from the front door (that we don't use)

Such detail

Grouting = almost done = big smile

You know what I just realized?  These pictures were taken before the trim was put back, so it looks even better!

And how long did it take from the time we ripped out the carpet till he was done?  About 16 months.  But beauty like this is worth the wait.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Problem of My Own Creation

You know how yesterday I said I was really busy.  Well, today I realized that while I was so busy, I screwed something up.  I have a deal I'm working on right now that is VERY time sensitive.  As in, I had papers that were shipping to me for receipt today.   I have to sign them and send them out tonight for delivery tomorrow.

This morning when I tracked the package, it said it was undeliverable.  I did a little digging and I'd given the wrong zip code.  And guess what?  Rather than call the phone number listed on the express mail overnight package (um, that means urgent right?), the post office decided it was undeliverable and they were going to send it back to the sender.  ACK!

I tried calling the local post office multiple times and no one answered.  I called their toll free number and got stuck in their phone tree for 10 minutes.  Then I finally got in the customer service phone cue and decided to drive to the post office for the zip code it was mailed to, hoping that maybe it would still be there.

Moments before I got to the post office, a man picked up the phone and told me there was nothing he could do, and I should try to call the local post office.  Well, I'd tried that already and they never picked up, so I told him I was on my way there.  When I got to the post office, I told the gentleman at the counter what had happened.  He went into the back and about 3 minutes later came out front with my package.  Praise God!  He told me it was in a stack that was set to be picked up only 30 minutes after I got there.  Again, praise God!

So what did I learn?  I'm going to double and triple check addresses from now on.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Blessing and a Curse

Well, today it was made official.  My mentor has decided to leave the team I joined, in order to venture out on her own.  I have no doubt she will do great on her own.  I do however wonder how well I will be able to handle things with her gone.

I don't doubt my skills in general.  But besides being the first person I go to with questions or to commiserate, she's been handling 1/2 of all the new buyer leads that the team gets.  Now I'm going to get them all.  That's a good thing and a bad thing all rolled into one.  Good because it gives me the potential for more money, but bad because it means I will most likely be busier.  Possibly much busier, especially since we are coming up on our busy time of year. 

If you think about it, pray for me.  I've had a busy day that's given me an example of what my future could be on a regular basis, and I'm not sure I like it.  Fits and spurts of busy I can deal with, but I want need down time on occasion too, and I want to be able to participate in some of my kids school / fun activities.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


One of the questions homeschoolers hear the most is, "How do they make friends?"

Well, for starters, our family goes to church.  That means they make friends at church.  In fact, we get together will a small group of friends from church on a regular basis and the kids have a great time together.

Bowling with friends from church = fun times
Another thing our family does is participate in co-ops in the area.  We have joined 4 groups.  One we joined for the science, history, and Bible classes taught once a week.  These classes are made up of about 20 other kids.

History class
Another group meets once a month and learns about marine biology.  I would say about 20 showed up to the class this month.  Yes, it's a second science class but it's hands on learning at the beach.  We just HAD to take advantage of that, especially since my daughter loves sea animals.

Investigating animals caught near mangroves.

The other 2 groups are all about field trips and fun get togethers.  So far we've gone roller skating, swimming at a local pool, and gone on a tour of the local food bank.  And we're signed up for numerous field trips already with them scheduling more each day it seems (I have to be picky just because of the cost and time - I do have to leave time for teaching too).

Only second time roller skating for the kids.

My kids went off the high diving board.

Learning about how the food bank works.

And after how much our kids enjoyed martial arts camp this summer, we decided to sign them up for this school year.  So far they are having a great time.

Daughter getting recognized for doing a good job during class.

My husband taught a group of homeschoolers about robotics last spring and he intends to do it again this coming spring.  That is something he and our son do together.  And I'm thinking of signing my daughter up for Girl Scouts so that she has something that's her own too.

One thing I really love about homeschooling is that our kids have learned that they don't have to socialize with kids who are their age.  They have friends who are older and younger than they are.  I think it makes for more well rounded kids.  Not only do my kids have the opportunity to interact with and emulate older children, they are given the opportunity to inspire younger children.

I must say, when we first began our homeschooling journey in the Washington, DC area we didn't have all these options.  I had another friend I knew that was homeschooling children of the same age, but that was it.  There were no co-ops, group field trips (those discounts are amazing), and large play dates.  Besides moving to somewhere warmer where our family can (and does) spend more time outside, it has made homeschooling and socializing so much easier for my family.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Not Crying Over Spilled Milk

Well, to say August has been a rough month for me (as far as work is concerned) would be a true statement.  I closed one deal (a small one).   In the last week I had 3 deals fall apart (two of them today).  This morning I met a client at a house that was recently listed and moments before we got there (for a scheduled appointment mind you) the seller signed an offer.

So what's a girl to do?  Hop in the pool with my daughter and relax.  After all, it wasn't anything I did.  And what can I change about the situation at this point?  All I can do now is try to help them find a new house to try to buy. But first, a little down time with the family before my life gets hectic again.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Budgeting while paid by 100% commission can be very hard.  Not knowing how much you will bring in each months is difficult, but there are ways that I've found to help.  First is to make a point to save money during those months when the income is high.  Second is to break down expenses into those that are optional (movies, eating out, etc) and those that are required (mortgage, gas - in my line of business, car insurance, cell phone - again because of my line of business, groceries etc).

Then when the money is tight I reduce the optional items as low as possible.  Does that mean we don't eat out at all?  No.  Do we not allow our kids to participate in field trips?  Yes.  We are firm believers that God will provide, but we are also supposed to be good stewards so we try to be responsible and picky in where we spend our money.

I also try to look at the required expenses.  I try to make sure I'm doing my best to save money on things like groceries (I coupon), gas (I use gas buddy and know certain areas that have lower gas prices) and restaurants (I use coupons when I can).

Then there are the expenses that are less flexible: mortgage, health and or life insurance if you are lucky enough to have them, and utilities, which of course can vary from month to month but are usually pretty consistent.

One of the things I like to do every once in a while is to look at everything to see if I can lower any of those recurring bills.  Considering I just bought my house a little over a year ago (at a lower interest rate than is now available, there's not much I can do for my mortgage except for my homeowner's insurance.  I live in Florida in an area near the Gulf of Mexico so there aren't many companies that insure in my area.  That means there isn't much competition so I don't really have options with that one.

A few months ago I found out that I could save money by letting my cell phone provider know my employer.  Unfortunately, it would have required a new 2-year contract and I'm just not willing to stick with my carrier beyond my current contract which is up in November (not that I'm counting down or anything).  Can't wait till November to change carriers and get my discount with the new provider  :-)

As a Realtor, I get notices in the mail frequently letting me know that as a Realtor I am eligible for discounts through various providers.  In fact, I called around two or three months ago looking into my health insurance options based on one of those mailings and I didn't find anything better than what I have already.

So when I got something in the mail a month about saving money on my car insurance, I didn't think it would do any good, but I set it aside anyway.  I found the paper again this weekend and made the call.  I was able to save over $300 and my coverages are better!  Whoop, whoop!

So what's the lesson for you?  Once a year do your due diligence and make a few phone calls.  Call around and price out your homeowners or renters policy, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone plan, etc.  You never know how much you could save.

Monday, August 19, 2013


Almost 3 months ago my daughter turned 7.  I didn't post a blog article about it because we decided to postpone her party and I wanted to blog about that.

You see, she wanted a pool party and I could not in good conscious have other kids come over and turn to little icicle in our pool.  So we decided to have her party shortly after we returned from Virginia in late June.  Not only would that mean the pool would be warmer, but her Grandma and Grandpa would be here for the party as well.

Ever since she watched the movie Rio she has been obsessed with parrots.  In fact, she would love to have one as a pet.  Her Dad and I however are less than thrilled to bring a loud bird that could outlive us into our house.  So, instead we settled on exotic birds as the the theme of her birthday party.

I was able to find some decorations and plates that had various exotic birds on them (at the dollar store - yay!). 

And in addition to lots of swimming the kids got to play pin the tail feather on the bird (which I didn't seem to get a picture of).

Of course there was a cake that was decorated with a parrot on it.  Can I just say how thankful I am that Grandma brought her cake decorating supplies with her from Virginia.  Made it so much easier to do.

My inspiration

End product (almost) - doesn't include edging and her name
And as a party favor we gave away small bird houses and paint for the kids to take home to paint.  They were also my back up plan in case it rained  ;-)

You can see the birdhouses on the table.

Needless to say, she was a very happy girl who thoroughly enjoyed playing with her friends.  I wonder what animal will be the focus of the theme next year.  Any guesses?

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I am not a big follower of blogs.  They can take so much time and I have so many other things to do.  But there are a few that I follow regularly.  One of them recently decided to completely disconnect from all things Internet for 40 days.

Another one I watch is in grad school so her posts aren't as frequent as they once were.  And I get it.  Especially when I look at my blog and realize that it's been 12 days since I posted something.

Wow!  I'm sorry folks.  I'd say I've been slacking but not really.  I have just been busy doing things other than blogging.

For example, I've been doing things for work of course (showing houses, inspections, and trying to help hold deals together so they will close in the near future).  I've been prepping and planning for the next school year (and yes, I'm probably more excited than my kids).  I've been shuttling my kids to and from VBS and martial arts camp.

And I've been getting ready for my in-laws to visit for a week.  Yep.  We are going to have 8 people in our house.  Technically 6 will be sleeping in the house.  Hubby and I will be sleeping in our camper in the yard.

And I've also gotten hit by the knitting bug again.  Just about every evening I've been knitting baby hats.  I've been using different size needles just to see the differences in sizes they create.  I may sell one (with a baby blanket I made a while ago), but the rest will for the local hospital.

So, why the title of my blog post today?  Because I'm giving you a heads up to let you know that for the next week or so I will most likely not be posting anything.  Instead, I will be focusing my efforts on spending time with all the family that will be at our house.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Shift in the Wind = Trouble

This morning my kids went to VBS at our church.  After lunch, they asked if they could go swimming.  Being that I want them to sleep well tonight, I said yes.  I knew they wouldn't have too long becuase I could see on the radar that rain was coming.

And boy was I right.  I saw dark clouds rolling in but when the wind picked up suddenly, it was time to hop out.  Just after they got out I heard what sounded like a tarp flapping in the wind.  It was coming from the pole barn in our back yard.  Hubby has kept some things tarpped in the area so I figured it was just that flapping in the wind, till I noticed this....

Apparently a tree next to the pole barn fell over in the wind.  That caused the roots to crack the slab the barn was built on.  That in turn caused the cement blocks that were stacked just inside the pole barn to fall in.

When I made it inside to see what was damaged (a few broken cinder blocks is all I could find) I noticed that the slider door panel had almost been blown off the slide.

The Tyvek to the left of the door is the flapping noise I heard.

This was certainly not something we expected to deal with today.  Our concern now (aside from the fact that we're not sure we can finish the pole barn like we wanted), is that it would appear from how easily the tree was knocked over that our ground is saturated.

If we get more rain and wind, we are afraid we will loose an even bigger tree and we have 2 of them that are next to our house.

Change is Good

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a planner.  I like to know what I'm going to do today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week.  As such, I am not a big fan of change.  I like routine.

One year ago today, change hit me with little notice.  One year ago today, I officially started my new career as a Realtor.  For those who don't know the story of why and how I became a Realtor click here.  Needless to say, it came out of necessity, but looking back on it, I've seen God through everything.

The work itself has provided us the ability to pay our bills which of course was the goal, but it's also given my hubby some time with our kids.  It's given me some time away from the kids, which makes me appreciate the time with them more.  And it's helped my husband realize he likes to cook and teach (and I will add, he's good at them too).

Honestly, I can't believe it's been a year already.  How could I possibly be in the position I am after only one year as a Realtor?  You see, I recently sold my 12th house.  That's an average of 1 per month!  That's pretty much unheard of for a new Realtor.  To say God has blessed me in my new career is an understatement.

Has the last year been easy?  Certainly not.  Juggling work, family, church, and homeschooling isn't remotely easy and I'll be honest there are times when feel like I'm failing, but I haven't encountered anything we as a family haven't been able to handle.  Are there times when I've cried out to God and asked for His help?  Regularly.  Are there days when I hid in my bathroom and cried because I wanted to quite because of a really nasty client?  Yep, that too.  But God put this in my path.  He made it evident that it was where I need to be right now, and I have no intention of giving up. 

Have all the trials been worth it?  Definitely!  My family would not be who we are today.  And I kinda like who we've all become as a result of the last year.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Important Things in Life

The purpose of our trip to Virginia a few weeks ago was to help my parents pack up and move.  However, we made a point to see all our other family that lives in the area too.

We made a trip to see my brother-in-law and his family.  After all, my nephew is growing up so fast we had to make a point to stop by. 

The last time we saw him he was about a month old.
It was great seeing my kids playing with their cousin. 

My nephew attached himself to my daughter, probably because they are closer in age and size. 

It reminded me how how I attached myself to my slightly older cousin while I was growing up.  My cousin happens to live in Florida and his kids are the same ages as mine so we've gotten together a few times since we moved here.  I hope my kids have that with their cousin some day.

And one more visit we HAD to fit in was a trip to see my husband's grandparents.  For the most part, they are both doing great.  They are both in their 90's and are still living in their own home.   However his grandfather had recently had pneumonia and has been on dialysis close to 3 years now.  We haven't seen them in almost 2 so we decided it was long overdue.

We had a great time.  We got to talk to both of them for a while and also help them around the house a little. 

Gan was showing my daughter her Great-Uncle's artwork.

LOVE this picture!

Stupid auto flash.

Auto flash for the win again.