Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hard Work and Perseverance


My regular readers know that my son is a bit of an engineer.  He's particularly interested in robotics.  Considering his father is a programmer and made a robot when my son was only a few years old, it's not really a surprise.

What may surprise some, is that although we homeschool our son, he, at the ripe old age of 10 has been able to participate on a robotics team this year.  We have some homeschooling friends who knew that my son loves robots and programming, and put us in touch with a couple of other homeschool moms who wanted to start up a robotics team.  They needed a mentor (an engineer) so it worked out quite well that my husband is a computer engineer.

A few weeks ago, the team participated in a pre-qualification competition.  The goal was to let the teams participate in all the functions of a full competition without all the stress.  It was great, they were scored and were given pointers on how to improve for the actual qualification tournament.  Being that this was the team's first "competition" they went in with the goal being to learn the process so they didn't feel overwhelmed when it came time for the real competition.  How surprised were we when they won an award for the best research project (out of 11 teams present).  To say the team was happy was an understatement.
The team after winning the award for their presentation at the pre-qualification competition
There are 4 pieces the team is graded on.  The robot design (explain why you made the robot do X, why did you use that attachment to do it, why did you program it the way you did, etc), the research project (and an associated presentation of what you found out with your research), the robot performance (actually using the robot they designed and programmed to accomplish certain tasks), and what they call core values (team work and good sportsmanship).

Today was the qualification competition.  You go through each stage without really knowing how you were scored.  You can figure out the robot performance on your own because they assign in advance the points for each task, however you don't necessarily know how all the other teams did (unless you have someone watch all the matches - which we didn't).  So you have to go based on your gut, as well as compare how you did this time to last time.
  • They came out of robot design feeling pretty good.  They were asked some detailed questions, but they were able to answer them, so they felt pretty good about that one.  
  • They performed a skit which they wrote as their method of presenting their research project.  They'd made some improvements based on the recommendations from the judges at the pre-qualification and felt those changes reflected in their presentation so figured they'd score high on that one (especially since they won that category at the pre-qualification).  
  • The core values is actually one of harder pieces for the team because there are 8 of them and it's often hard to get them to agree on a plan of action (they are give a task to perform and they have to work well as a team and not bicker).  Apparently this went well too, so again, they felt pretty confident.  
  • The robot competition was the last thing they did for the day.  In the pre-qualification their highest score was 110.  Today they scored 185!  Not only did that end up being the highest score for the day, earning them the award in that category, it's also the highest score on the west coast of Florida so far.  There are multiple weekends of competitions just because of how many teams there are so that could get broken.
The team with today's award for the best robot performance
So what happens next since they won the robot performance portion today?  That depends on an appeal that has been lodged by the team's coach.  Although we won the robot competition, our overall score (adding up the scores for all 4 categories) was not high enough to advance the team to regionals.  We knew going in that could happen.  In fact, there are many stories of the winning robot performance team not advancing.

The issue is why we didn't score well.  What area did we score lowest?  The research project.  The same research project that won them the award at the pre-qualification (keeping in mind they won without the improvements made for this competition).  After looking at the scoring sheet from pre-qualification and the scoring sheet from the competition today, our coach feels we should have gotten a higher score than we did.  If we'd have gotten that higher score, we may have scored high enough to advance (the top 3 scoring teams out of 13 advanced).  Our scores in the other 3 categories were pretty high, so that category is definitely the culprit.

So now we wait to see what comes of the appeal.

In the mean time... our team has so much to be proud of.  They won the robotics performance piece today, and they also won the research project award at the pre-qualification.   They also handled themselves very well today.  They were very supportive of the other teams throughout the day, and after winning the robotics performance award, they handled not moving on to regionals pretty well.  They were certainly shocked (as was the coach and many of the parents) and they questioned why they didn't advance (as in wanting to know if they did something wrong), but they didn't have a bad attitude about it.  

If this is the end of the road for the team this year, they should be proud of themselves.  I think it's safe to say they had a great time learning all kinds of things about robots, teamwork, and even the medicinal benefits of herbs (what they chose as their research project).  And to see all their hard work pay off by winning two awards whether they advance or not = awesome!  Way to go team!

My son holding the award and the team robot.  I think he's happy  :-)
Late night yesterday, followed by an early and full day today = crashing HARD on the way home.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Good Riddance

My regular readers know that we've been fostering cats for about 2 years now.  Of those 2 years, we've had 2 cats for a year, and six more for 8 of those months as well.  When we signed up, we were under the impression we were going to have the cats for a couple months at the most.  And initially that was true.  For the first year, we'd had 3 litters of kittens that all got adopted out pretty quickly.

I'm not sure what changed (I have theories I'm not going into today), but needless to say, adoptions through the rescue we were helping went to pretty much none. 

My family LOVES furry animals of any kind.  In fact, my hubby took in a rabbit because he was convinced if he didn't, it would be dead by the end of the day (for the record, he was probably right). That said, we officially hit our limit.  Within a week of replacing our roof, our A/C died.  After looking at those expenses and how much we were spending per month on food, litter, and gas and time getting the cats to adoption events, we decided it was time the cats had to go.

I am proud to say we are done.  Today, I took 8 cats to be fostered somewhere else.

My daughter is sad to see a few of them go.  I on the other hand am not.  Although most of the cats were friendly, they were getting to be too much.  In addition to feeding and scooping them, we essentially had to baby-proof the house.  On those occasions when I didn't get that done, things were destroyed.

I am happy to say, that we are now a 1 cat family.  We may get another cat down the road, but as far as I'm concerned it won't be for about a year (I need a break).  Will we foster cats again?  Perhaps, but I've learned a lot about the process, and I've learned that who you foster through is VERY important so we won't be fostering for the person we just finished with.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Perspective = Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving.  What's it all about?  It's a day originally designed to remember how the original settlers were able to survive.  Over the years, it's become a day to remember what you are thankful for.  The typical things to be thankful for are: family, a home, health, friends, and employment.

I'll admit it, today I'm struggling because not all of these things are going as I was hoping they would.

Thanksgiving was always a big holiday growing up.  My parents would invite families from our church who didn't have family locally for a big Thanksgiving meal.  We sort of became a new family of sorts each year.  Although my parents live 10 minutes away, they are not in the area this Thanksgiving.  That's because today they are out of town celebrating their 40th anniversary. 

I've been fighting a cold, but the last couple days I've been feeling much better.  However, last night around dinner my daughter came down with a stomach bug and still isn't back to normal.  My kids and I were going to go to Busch Gardens with some friends today, but that obviously didn't happen.   And why wasn't my husband invited to Busch Gardens?  Technically he was, but he had to work last night as well as tonight, so a day awake in the middle would not be a good idea.

This post is not designed to make you feel sorry for me.  On the contrary, it's about how I've decided to be thankful because of these issues.  How's that?!?  Because I've gotten some perspective.  People I know and love are struggling with some of these things in a much bigger way.

I have a friend who recently lost a family member to cancer.  Aside from said family member's birthday a week or two ago, this is the first holiday without her.  That can't possible be easy.  I have another friend who gave birth to a stillborn child on Thanksgiving, 13 years ago.  Although she knows she will see her son again in heaven, this can't be the easiest holiday for her because of that.

I work with people trying to purchase their own home, and I've seen a few recently who have not been able to realize their dream and are relegated to renting for the time being.  I also know people who are living on a fixed income who recently found out that their community fees are going up.  I know someone else who's job moved them so they had to sell their house at a substantial loss (as in they are paying back a loan in order to sell their home).  I also know someone who was told they will only be employed through the end of the calendar year.

So today, I'm going to be thankful.  Because:

1. I have parents that showed me how to love on friends and how to make it through 40 years of marriage.  I also have a new niece that I'm going to see next month.
2. Although the last couple months have been tough with our house, we have a house with equity that's allowed us to make the repairs we've needed.
3.  A cold and a stomach bug are nothing considering what other people are enduring.
4.  Although we are not spending time with friends today, we have friends that cared enough to invite us to join them today.
5.  And yes, my husband had to go in to work, but he has a job.  That's more than some people can say.  In fact, this time last year he didn't have a job.

I pray you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you were able to keep perspective today as you celebrate those things you are thankful for.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Missing Virginia

I admit it.  Today I miss living in Virginia.  It's NOT because they are getting snow where I used to live (the mountain I used to live on might get 6" or so).  In fact, I really don't miss that one little bit.

I miss Virginia today, because my sister-in-law had her second child today.  My first niece.  And I can't go visit in the hospital.  We are hoping to see them in the next month or so, but it's not quite the same.

I guess I will just have to be content with the fact that I have a care package consisting of things I've been knitting for a few months that will be going out in the mail today.  That will have to cuddle with my niece while I can't.   Counting down the days till I get to see her (and the rest of the family in Virginia too).

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Insurance Saga Continues - Sort of

As my regular readers know, we recently had some issues with our insurance company.  They threatened to drop us if we didn't get our roof replaced.  When we couldn't get it done by their deadline (which was unreasonable mind you), they did in fact drop us.  I submitted proof of the replacement on the same day they sent us a refund check which meant I then had to send them payment for the rest of our policy year in order to get reinstated.  I'd even gotten a notice saying that our policy was reinstated a couple weeks ago. 

To my horror, when I got the mail today there was a refund check from the insurance company.  My first thought, "Oh no!  They dropped us for good this time."  As soon as I got inside, I called the insurance company and found out that not only had I paid for my insurance policy, so had my mortgage company so the refund was valid.

But.... that meant that my escrow is probably low, so rather than wait for the bank to call me, I gave them a quick call to see how quickly I needed to deposit the check and then send them their payment.  Much to my surprise, I was informed that only a portion of the amount of the refund check needs to be sent to the mortgage company to cover the shortage. It turned out to be only 16.5% of the check in fact.

This particular snafu, meant that rather than my insurance company refunding me the overage in my escrow come March, I got it today.  Wahoo!  Oh, and I also found out my mortgage payment will be going down soon (although only slightly), because our new insurance premium is going down as a result of the new roof.

Sometimes the thing in the mail that you think is scary isn't.  Sometimes it's God helping you out when you need it. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Overdue Updates

A Thing of Beauty
I've been asked about our roof a few times, so let me start off by saying that our homeowners insurance company is no longer breathing down our neck.    Yay!  The metal was installed over a 2 week period (only half of the metal was ordered at first - oops!) and installation was completed about 2 weeks ago.  The same day I submitted the paperwork letting them know it had been completed, they mailed us a refund check - ugh.  Rather than pay them the exact amount of the refund, I was told to wait till we knew what the new rate would be (new roof = discount).  I got that figure earlier this week and paid the insurance company yesterday so we are now good to go.


Front of business card
Back of business card
I also mentioned in an earlier post that I was changing real estate companies.  It's now official (I got my business cards and name tag yesterday), so I am happy to share that I am now working for Sarasota Bay Real Estate!  I also have my own website (KarrieMeHome.com) where you can search for homes in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties of Florida.  One of the really awesome things about this site is that you can set up your own search so that it emails you every time a new home becomes available (and I can see what you've been looking at in case you want to give me a call about a specific house you've seen).  If you want to make an adjustment for some reason, you can do that as well.  This is a wonderful feature I didn't have with my last employer.  Oh, and I can now list homes for sale too!  It's so nice not being restricted by the team I was on before.  And if you are curious... I love my new company!  The people there are wonderful.

Hubby's had some interesting goings-on at work lately too.  A few weeks back he was asked to come in to the weekly management meeting (he's not management).  We thought he was going to get in trouble, but he didn't.  The issue really stemmed from the day guy complaining about hubby fixing things (uh, that's his job) without talking to the day guy first (you want a phone call at 2AM or don't you want the paper to print before you get in at 6AM?).  Upper management gave hubby the okay to keep doing what he's been doing, so we were able to breath a sigh of relief.  In fact the only way the meeting could have gone any better for my hubby was for them to have offered him a raise (from what we understand no one has gotten a raise in 3+ years).  So how surprised were we when last week hubby was called in to work during the day to help the day guy try to fix something he couldn't figure out.  Day guy is almost eligible to retire and claims he knows how to fix everything there.  Guess not.  And how proud was I when they called hubby in because they trusted that he could do it?

As for the kiddos, my son has officially started with his FLL (First Lego League) robotics team.  They have their pre-qualifiying tournament on Nov 22 so they are meeting twice a week for at least 2 hours each day trying to get ready.  Fun times for Mommy and Daddy.


This year my daughter is signed up to participate in a mini-horse class.  She meets every other week for 3 hours each time and is learning how to care for a horse as well as how to train it to jump (and maybe pull a small cart later in the year).  She's having a blast.

My daughter walking "her" mini-horse Headliner


Brushing Headliner
We've also gone on a few field trips already this year to a science museum, aquarium, and zoo.

Making a stop animation film

"They are really soft."
So cute
Needless to say, my family is very busy these days.  Especially considering in a couple days we have grandparents coming into town for a week.  We have some fun stuff planned with them, so I'm sure I will have more pictures to share after that.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Time Keeps on Slippin' By

Can you believe how quickly time flies?!?  I can't. 

Today is a very special day in my family, and I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that three years ago today, I became an Aunt.  Unfortunately, with our move right before he was born, I have not been able to see my nephew as much as I would like.  I am very thankful for technology (FaceTime, Facebook, and cell phones in particular) which have allowed me to keep up with him just a little.

It looks like I will be an Aunt again in November, so I'm hoping we can plan a trip to visit not only my new niece by my nephew as well.  It's long-overdue for this Aunt to spoil her nephew (and the bonus... his mom and dad will get a little break to spend with their newest addition).

Happy birthday (not-so) little man!  Your Aunt, Uncle, and Cousins wish you a very happy birthday!  Lots of hugs and love being sent your way from Florida.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Time to Celebrate




Yes, sir.  It's time to celebrate!  No, our roof isn't done  :-(   And no, it's not because I've changed jobs.  It's because today, my husband's grandfather is turning....

97!!!

 

Happy birthday Gramps!  We love you and wish we were there to celebrate with you (and for those of you who don't know... he will be reading this on his iPad so feel free to leave some love of your own).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget

For people like myself, who were impacted by September 11, it's hard to think there are people (American's) out there who don't know what happened that day.  I've seen clips of college-age students who don't know what happened that day, and it's appalling.  I get that they weren't old enough to remember what happened that day (many of them were toddlers), but I wasn't old enough to remember Reagan being shot.  I'm not old enough to have been alive during Vietnam, but I at least have a basic idea of what happened.

Why is September 11th not important enough for EVERYONE in the United States to learn about?  Respect those people who died that day!  Respect the families who lost a loved one that day!  Respect the first responders!  And respect the men and women who decided to join the military to defend our freedoms and help prevent such things from happening again!

Don't forget what happened 13 years ago today!  Remember, so that we can give the proper honor and respect to those who deserve it not just today, but every day.





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Realtors Move Too?

You're thinking, "Everyone moves.  Of course Realtors move too."  Yes, but I'm not talking about my personal house.  I'm talking about the real estate company I work for.

Today I started the process of changing real estate companies.  I have decided to leave RE/MAX and join a smaller, local real estate company.  Why?  For numerous reason, all of which I won't go into here.  Let just say it was time for a change, and I like the idea of working at a smaller company.  Aside from the company change, there is one big(ish) thing that's changing.  I am now going to be able to sell houses as well.  You see, the team I was on before only allowed me to work with buyers.  Now I will be working on my own and will be able to help people buy AND sell homes.  I am SO excited about this change.

Will I miss RE/MAX?  Yes, a part of me will.  There are some people there I will miss interacting with on a regular basis.  But you know what?  The people I've meet at my new office so far... I think I'm going to like working with them too.

Once my website is up at the new office, I'll do a new post so you can see just how cool my new real estate company is.  And if you know anyone looking to buy OR SELL in the Manatee, Sarasota, or Charlotte County areas of Florida, send them my way!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Bring on the Wind and Rain

A couple days ago I posted how we were hoping to finish laying down the water barrier on our roof on Sunday afternoon.  Well, the roof dried nicely and we started working on the last half of the roof a little after lunch.  My dad came over too, and with his help we were making really good time.  We were watching the clouds and the radar and knew that we were in for some rain, so although it was a bit hot we tried pushing through to get done before the rain came. 

As we were unrolling the second to last row to get it placed to stick down and nail, I heard a strange noise coming from the same side of our house as our A/C.  I went to check to make sure the A/C didn't have something land on it while we were working and discovered it was off.  So where was the noise coming from?  The road about 50 yds from the edge of our house.  It was pouring down rain on the road!  Ahhh!!

We tarped the portions of the roof that weren't done, as quickly as we could.  We stayed up there for a couple minutes to make sure that the tarps wouldn't get blown off (it was pretty windy).  Needless to say, when we got down from the roof we were soaked!  So what did we do?  Took off shoes and socks and hopped into the pool of course.

We were not able to finish the roof on Sunday as we'd hoped because we had so much rain we knew it wouldn't dry fast enough to get done before it got dark.  See why in the video.

Can you say toad-choker?

So I got up early Monday morning and untarped the roof so it could dry (again). 

Sunrise from the roof of our house.

We were SO close to being done before the rain came.

A couple hours later we were up on the roof finishing the last two rows. 

So nice having it D.O.N.E.
In celebration, we went out for dinner last night.  As a band of strong wind and heavy rain came through, we just sat there and took our time, because we didn't have to worry about tarps flying off our roof.  So nice.

View we saw in parking lot looking in direction of our house after dinner.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Saga Continues

Yesterday was a good day for our roof.  With the help of a friend of ours, we were able to put the water-proof barrier down over half of our roof.  We even got a little rain part of the way through putting it on, and were able to glory in how well the rain just rolled down the barrier.

That barrier stuff is AWESOME!

Because of hubby's work / sleep schedule today, we opted to finish the second half of the roof tomorrow afternoon so we left the tarps only on the half that was not complete.

This evening we were sitting in church and we heard thunder in the distance.  Hubby whipped out his phone and looked at his radar app.  After seeing all the red coming at us and our house, he went out to the lobby to see if there was a lot of wind with the storm.  He came back a couple minutes later and said there didn't appear to be much wind, so he didn't think we needed to worry that the tarps would blow off the roof.

Three and a half hours later (after church, small group, and dinner with our small group) we got home.  When we noticed small branches down on our driveway we were a little worried.  When we got out of the car hubby said he smelled wet wood.  After quickly changing, he went up on the roof.  I had something to do real quick inside, and when I went outside to see how things were, he yelled down that the tarps had come off.  Ugh!

Unfortunately, the tarps had slid down the roof about 1/3 of the way.  The roof has been re-tarped for the night just in case more rain comes.  The current plan is to take the tarps off as soon as I wake up tomorrow (provided no rain is coming) so that the wood can dry out before we are hopefully able to finish putting down the barrier before we get more rain.

I can't wait for this part to be done.  Aside from the barrier and some paperwork, the rest is being done by someone else. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It's Raining Pavers

That was fun...

As we're wrapping up dinner before hubby leaves for work tonight we notice the wind picking up (obvious precursor to heavy rain).  Hubby decides to go onto the roof to make sure our tarps are holding up.  A couple minutes later Son and I go outside to check on him and watch a paving stone fall off our roof.  Son and I run into the house to get our tennis shoes on (we had on flip flops) so we can go and help him.  As I'm running back outside I get a text from hubby that he probably sent at the same time I was running into the house.  It said "Help watch falling stone."  That was an understatement.  I think we had 7 pavers fall off the roof and the tarps moved and uncovered close to 1/4 of our total roof.

It took us over 30 minutes to get the tarps back on in a semi-useful way.  Unfortunately, the pavers falling may have ripped some holes in the tarps so we're praying that we don't end up with a lot of wet wood from that (hubby finished replacing the bad wood yesterday).

In additional to putting the 7 fallen pavers back on the roof we added 18 other pavers that we had sitting next to the garage.  All those trips up and down the ladder with pavers... I had my leg workout for the day.

The good news... we talked to a roofer this morning and we've decided that we're going to do a little more prep work but we're going to have the roofer put on a metal roof.  By doing a bunch of the work ourselves we're going to get a metal roof for pretty much the same cost as having someone do all the work involved in installing a metal roof.

The bad news... we have at least 1 days work before we can have the inspector come to look at the roof.  After we pass that inspection we can put the stuff down that waterproofs the roof again.  The weather today called for a 20% chance of rain.  Friday and Saturday it's 40%, and Sunday it's 80%.  Did I mention hubby has off Sundays and Mondays so we were hoping he could work on the roof Sunday and get the inspection on Monday? 

Please pray for us... That no one will get hit by falling pavers, that the tarps won't leak, and that we can get this done soon.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Clock is Ticking

A little over a month ago we were told by our homeowners insurance company that we needed to replace our roof or they were going to drop our insurance.  Finding insurance in Florida is hard enough as it is.  Add to that that our house was built in 1970 and it's even harder.

A week ago, we received the money from the home equity line we applied for.  We also got the permit to do the roof work ourself.  With the help of some wonderful friends and family we were able to get the old shingles and tar paper off in 2 days.  It was tough work, but from what I've been told it'll be the hardest part of the process.

Unfortunately, since then it's been raining every day so we haven't even been able to get our first inspection completed (there are 3 different inspections we need to pass).  Not only am I watching our deadline quickly approach, but we are constantly checking and adjusting the tarps to make sure they are covering the roof so we don't get any leaks.

With just over 3 weeks left till our deadline, I pray the rain stops long enough for us to get the roof done soon.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Ignore the Naysayers

I have a friend that I have known for many years.   I met her while working with my dad right after high school.  The business was expanding rapidly and she was hired to take over some of the work that I had been doing.  Being the only ladies there at the time, we tended to gravitate toward each other.  Even better, we got along quite well.  In fact, J was in my wedding.

Well, she did something she was told for years she would not be able to do.  She just completed her graduate degree (she still hasn't gotten her final grades, but knowing her it was just a matter of submitting her final paper on time - which she did)!  Unfortunately, years ago she had someone in her life who convinced her that she wasn't capable of getting her associates degree much less anything more complicated than that so for a time she had actually given up on college.

Luckily, she now has someone in her life (her husband) that has supported her through this process.  I am so proud of her for following her dream and for not giving up even though to so do would have made her life so much easier.

And for those of you out there who are listening to those voices (people) telling you that you aren't strong enough, smart enough, rich enough, or X enough to follow your dream... Go find a new voice!



Sunday, July 27, 2014

That's Just NUTS!

I've been virtually stalking someone today.  I even got his wife's permission.  In fact, she asked me several times for updates.  You see, today my brother-in-law was competing in his first Iron Man competition.  He's done a few marathons and I even think a triathlon or two but an Iron Man... that's HUGE.  She's been waiting for him to finish, but the cell service where the race is hasn't been that great so I've been texting her updates.

This morning as I was struggling to get in my 4 miles on the treadmill (training for my first half marathon) I kept thinking of him and how grueling it must be to train for and complete an Iron Man.  For those that aren't aware, it involves 2.4 miles of swimming in open water (in this case a lake), followed by 112 miles on a bicycle, and finishing up with 26.2 miles of running.  I'm tired just typing that.

As I was interrupted by one of my children, I thought about how hard it's been for me to find the time to train consistently.  Then I thought about how hard it must be to train for an Iron Man.  So not only am I going to give props to my BIL, I'm also going to give props to my sister-in-law too.  I know there have been MANY days when she handled everything alone so he could train.  But today it all came together when he finished in 11:00:12 hours!  And he finished 59th out of 305 in his age category.  Way to go! 

An inspiration to me for sure.  Is there an Iron Man in my future?  Certainly not.  But a couple days ago I was thinking of giving up on trying to even do the half marathon, so he's at least inspired me to keep training for that. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Becoming a Dog Person

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a cat person.  Don't get me wrong, I like all furry animals (with a few exceptions), but give me a cat any day.

The last couple days I've been rethinking that.  A few days ago my daughter realized that one of the kittens had worms.  Yuck!  That meant we had to treat them all.  So I gave 12 doses of medicine to 10 cats (a couple of the cats in the house are so heavy they needed an extra 1/2 tablet).  Let me say, giving cats pills is NOT easy.

We are also having to do a serious flea treatment of all the cats (they keep bringing them back from the pet store every time we take them to be adopted).  For some that means meds but for the 6 little ones that means using a flea comb on each of them as often as I have the time.

And this morning I spent almost an hour dumping, scrubbing, and refilling litter boxes (had to get rid of the litter left from the de-worming pills).  I hate cleaning my own bathroom so cleaning the bathroom of 10 cats is just way gross to me.

I realize that dogs can get worms and fleas and may need to go through some of these same things, but at least they don't have a litter box.  So that is the one positive thing about cats.

If nothing else, I think it's safe to say, I am SO over fostering cats right now.  Once these leave I will dance and rejoice and will NOT be suckered into doing it again anytime soon.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Joy of Homeownership

Have you ever heard a story of something that happened to someone and say to yourself, "What?  I've never heard of such a thing."?  I have, but I didn't think it would ever happen to ME.

A couple weeks ago we were contacted by our homeowners insurance company.  They stated that they needed to send someone out to do a 4.1 inspection on our house.  This inspection is pretty common in Florida and is required for all homes over a certain age when you first get your policy.  For those not aware, this inspection looks at the main (aka. expensive) components of the house: the air conditioner / heater, plumbing, electrical, and the roof. 

Although our house was originally built in 1970, there were many updates to the house before we moved in.  We knew the electrical and plumbing had been updated in the 90's and the roof was updated around the same time.  We knew the roof was getting old but were told when we bought the house a couple years ago that we had maybe 5 years left.  So our big concern was the air conditioner.  Hubby has fixed it to help limp it along for a while and we were worried the inspector would say it's too old.  When he didn't even look at the air handler (the thing hubby fixed), I thought we were in the clear. 

Unfortunately, that was not the case.  The middle of last week we were informed that if we don't repair 3 things, our insurance will be dropped.  The first thing mentioned was that we needed to power wash the outside of the house.  Say WHAT?!?!?  Yep, they will cancel our policy if we don't power wash our house.  And yes, every time I think about that my mouth drops. 

The second thing is that we have 2 very large trees in front of our house and some of the larger branches reach over the house.  That one's legit.  In fact, we started work on it last fall but haven't finished.  So now we have the incentive to finish sooner rather than later I suppose. 

The third and final thing is that we have to replace the shingles on our roof.  Like I said before, we knew it was coming.  We just thought we had a few more years.  So when I was informed last week that we had till Aug 2 to get everything done, my heart skipped a beat (or three).  You see, with hubby being without work for a while, we had to dig into our savings and we haven't been able to replenish it back to the point where we could redo the roof and still have money left in savings.  That means we have to get a home equity loan of some sort.  Those take time.  I've been told it could take up to a month to get approval.  Umm... that takes us beyond Aug 2 right there!  So I explained to the lovely people at the insurance company that there is no way we can get it done that quickly.  They were SO generous (insert sarcasm here) and extended the repair date to Sept 9.

Needless to say, I've been on the phone a lot the last few days.  Scheduling contractors for bids.  Contacting the county to see about whether we want to do it ourselves.  Contacting the bank to get the home equity stuff rolling. 

Contractors start coming today, so hopefully we will know how much it will cost soon.  First thing on the list is working on the branches (that way if they damage the roof, at least it wasn't the NEW roof).  We can do this ourselves while we wait for the home equity approval too.  Then we deal with the roof.  And after all the roof work is done, we can power wash the house (I'm sure the roofing will add some dirt and grime so might as well clean that off at the end).

Now I'm off to have a little lunch before the first contractor of the day shows up.  Wish us luck!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Calgon Take Me Away

Today was one of those days where I which I could have skipped to the end, because I'm not sure a redo would have helped.  I think the issues that made the day so tough have at least been worked out to such a degree that we don't have similar issues in the future.  At least I hope so, because I don't even have a bathtub I can use to relax at the end of a day like this.

Here's to bigger, brighter, and better things tomorrow.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Takin' One for the Team

At my son's cleaning visit, the dentist recommended I take my son to see an orthodontist.  I wasn't surprised really.  Unfortunately for him (and our bank account), he has a curse courtesy of hubby and me.  You see, we both have small mouths.  I also cursed my son with rather large teeth.  Large teeth in a small mouth is not a good mix. 
In fact, I was expecting the orthodontist to recommend that we needed to start appliances immediately.  What he recommended was that we have 2 teeth removed sooner rather than later so that his teeth could shift around before they started to permanently attach in their current locations.  One of those teeth was already loose but was behind the adult tooth.  This made it hard to wiggle and get the tooth out.  So the orthodontist recommended he chew on something like taffy or Starburst. 

Say what?!?  Yep.  The orthodontist recommended that he eat candy to get his loose tooth out.  We scheduled the tooth removal for a couple weeks after the orthodontist visit (the dentist was busy and it would give us more time to get the loose tooth out).  The first three nights after the orthodontist appointment my son diligently age his Starbursts.  They loosened the tooth some but it just didn't seem like it was going to come out.  Life got in the way for a while and we didn't really focus on the tooth until the night before the appointment to have them removed.

We got home late from a friends house (as in 10:30).  My son asked if he could try the Starburst one more time.  At first I told him no because I didn't want him to get sugared up before bed.  He reminded me that if he didn't get it out on his own it would cost me more money.  And you know what, he was earnest in wanting to save me money. 

As my regular readers are aware, my family has been spending lots of money on dental work as of late.  My daughter had 10 fillings, Hubby had 2, and I had 2 as well.  All within the last 7 months or so.  Luckily my son has been cavity free.  But he knows how expensive all this has been.

So I gave in and let him try one last time.  We had one last 2 pack of Starburst left, and although he winced a few times with the first one, it didn't do much other than loosen it up a little.

But that second one... well, the tooth came out!  Not without some pain.  Oh, and the tooth got stuck in the Starburst and he accidentally bit into it and then swallowed it.  Oops!  Guess we found the down side  :-)

Who knew that Starbust could save money on dental work?  How much money you ask?  According to the dentist's office $140.  So what did I do... I took him to Wendy's to get a Frosty on the way home as a thank you for saving me money and for being such a good patient with the one tooth that was removed.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Scheduled Relaxation

The life of a Realtor is an interesting one.  It definitely offers a level of flexibility that many other jobs don't.  At the same time, you are also at the mercy of others to a degree.  For example, when someone you've been working with for a while contacts you letting you know they have a house (or houses) they want to see on a particular day, you do what you can to make that happen.

I've often been asked if I take off Saturday or Sunday and to a degree I do.  I don't schedule anything for Saturday evening so I can go to church with the rest of my family.  I also try not to do anything on Sunday, but sometimes I will have someone who is only available to see homes on Sundays because of their work or travel schedule.  So, I'm kind of on call (with a little notice to schedule seeing the houses).

So when I heard about a surf camp for kids at a nearby beach that's being offered on Sunday afternoons I jumped at it.  I figured it would be a great family trip but also just a way to force me to take a break from technology.  And with the exception of taking some pictures and videos of my kids surfing, it was just that.

Sunday the kids and I spent about 2 hours at the beach and we had a great time.  I admit it, the kids probably had more fun than I did.  After all, how can you not have fun learning how to surf (and doing it too)!


One of son's first attempts


One of daughter's last attempts for the day

Monday, June 16, 2014

Ignorance is Bliss

Do you remember how a couple weeks ago I mentioned that I went to see a new dentist.  Well, that visit was a new patient consultation so they did x-rays and looked around.  Today I went in to have my teeth cleaned and get a couple fillings that they found I needed during the new patient visit.

My least favorite part of seeing the dentist is the scraping the hygenist does.  So when the hygenist looked in my mouth and said, "Looks good.  I don't see a lot of plaque." I thought, I've got this in the bag!  NOT!

She scraped on my teeth for close to 30 minutes.  Perhaps what she meant was, "Looks good.  I don't see a lot of plaque for someone who hasn't had a cleaning in 3 years."  All I know is that I was glad when that was over.

As I'm moving to the other room to get my filling, I'm joking with the assistant / office manager about how it's hard for me to decide if I would like the cleaning or the filling less.  She said the filling and I disagreed with her because of just how much I hate the scraping.

Going into today, I was told there were 2 little cavities that would be really easy to deal with.  As the dentist was cleaning the area for the second cavity she found out that a filling in the same area had a bunch of issues so she took that out and had to put in a new one.  That meant a lot of extra grinding (and keeping my mouth open).  Add to the fact that it went from the top of my farthest back tooth to the back side of it and it made for some serious contortions for the dentist and my mouth.

Although my mouth is still numb, I can tell my jaw is going to be sore and I'll probably get a headache too (tension in my neck). 

Do me a favor.  If you see me in the next couple days, please don't yawn.  I'm not sure my mouth can take it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Accountability

Back on the treadmill today for the first time in a while.  Yay!  Feels so good.  I initially stopped after my 5K because I needed to make sure my shoes dried out :-).  I also had some muscle aches and pains that took a while to go away, so I took it easy for a while.

THEN I got to thinking about the next thing I need to train for... a half marathon in November.  I'm not having trouble with the thought of actually completing the half.  I am a bit concerned with how early it starts though.  Although the thought of running in Florida in the middle of the day (even in November) makes me sweat, I'm NOT a morning person so starting a run at 6AM is not appealing.  I get why it's set to start so early, so I will get over it  because it's only for one day.

The real issue I'm facing is finding the desire to keep training knowing that at some point in the not so distant future, training sessions could take 3 hours or more.  Like I have time for that!  I'm a homeschool mom, a wife, and a Realtor.  Did I mention that I'm not a morning person?  That means I don't like to get up early to do anything much less train.  Oh, and even when I get up early my kids seem to know and they have to seek me out and ask me TONS of questions while I'm trying to run.  Have you tried answering numerous annoying important questions while on a treadmill?  Not easy I'll tell you.

I am definitely a night person, but I've found that exercising late in the day doesn't work for me for a few reasons:  I've eaten dinner (my biggest meal of the day) and running on a full stomach is a BAD idea.  Dealing with kids and work all day makes for a mentally and occasionally physically tired me.  Because of the adrenalin rush, I can't seem to fall asleep for a couple hours after running no matter how physically and mentally tired I was before the run.  And as much as I'd like to stay up really late, my children and or appointments dictate that I get up in the morning so I can't stay up too late.

So if you have ideas on when and how best to train for something like this, I'm all ears.  Do me a favor and check in on me every once in a while and make sure I'm sticking with it too.  Nothing quite like accountability.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Expiration

Last March my family bought an annual membership to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  For those not familiar, that is where Winter the dolphin lives.  Late in 2013 and early 2014, they were filming Dolphin Tale 2 at the Aquarium and had it closed for filming off-and-on for two months.  Because of that, they extended our membership through the end of this May. 

Last month I also purchased discount tickets to go to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa and they expire May 30.  So what's a girl to do when you are in the last week of the month and have passes to two places about to expire?  You go to both of them in the same day, of course!

We had been to Lowry only once and that was 3 years ago.  I remember there being animals as well as a few rides for the kids.  We've been to the Aquarium a couple times in the last year so I figured we'd spend less time there so we started at the zoo.

We spent about 3.5 hours at the zoo where we walked just about every path we could.  Being that it was 90 out we also stopped for snow cones.  Aside from the fact that they helped cool us down, we were able to dispense our own flavors.  I had a wonderful tropical fruity concoction while my kids had I have no idea what to call it... a fruity cacophony of flavors.


Unfortunately, the two rides my kids were most interested in were either closed or they were to big to ride  :-(  Did I mention they were water rides which meant our initial plan for cooling off didn't work.  Yay for snow cones!

We were able to see a couples shows, as well as see some animals up close.  So all in all it was a good time and I'm glad we did it.

Lorwy is one of 5 locations in FL that takes in hurt manatees

National bird.  Got to see one fly and heard their call (very different than what you think).

Baby is almost 2 years old.

One of my daughters favorite animals.  Flock flew by us and one right over us too.

After the zoo we drove over to the Aquarium and spent about 45 minutes there.  We got there just in time to see most of a Winter show / training session and got to see some of the changes that were made for the filming of the new movie.  Although this was a really short stop, I know Winter is a favorite of my daughter, so I'm glad we went since I don't think we'll be going back for a while.

Winter is way down there in the middle of the picture.  Down side of getting there late = bad view.



Only thing about the trip I disliked... the drive.  It's a long drive to begin with, but on the way home we encountered 2 separate accidents with overturned SUVs which had traffic backed up big time.  In fact, it delayed us so much that we didn't get to see my hubby before he had to go to work.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

As Memorial Day wraps up, I'm cutting expired coupons.  Lots of them.  To the point that I'm taking a break by typing this quick blog entry.  Expired you ask?  Yes, expired.  That's because, military personnel stationed overseas can use coupons up to 6 months after they expire.  Considering the cost of living in some of these locations as well as the miniscule pay they receive, I can only imagine that coupons truly help them meet their budgets.

This is not something I do just on Memorial Day.  I try to make it a monthly thing and I admit, sometimes I get behind (like I am now).  I will say, it is a bit more poignant today, because as I clip, I have opportunity to ponder all that our military personnel have done, are doing, and will do for me and my family.  I know it's not much, but it's just one simple way I can show my appreciation and support.

If you are so inclined to send your expired coupons to the military too, I'd recommend the following sites to help you figure out what, when, and where to send:

http://www.supportourtroops.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1615

http://www.grocerysavingtips.com/p/military-family.html




God bless and protect our troops!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Kids have a Sixth Sense Too

Mom's have a sixth sense.  An eye-in-the-back-of-their-heads if you will.  Everyone knows it's true.  After all, how many times did you get caught doing things you KNEW your mom couldn't see when you were growing up?  I admit, I've honed this same "sense," and my kids are amazed when I catch them doing things.

But you know what I've discovered?  Kids have it too.  But their sixth sense helps them get up early on those days Mom gets up early to get things done while the kids are in bed.  I've been getting up at 7AM the last week and a half or so.  That's a big thing for me... I'm not a morning person.  Getting up at 9 is more my speed.  And 9 or 10 USED to be my kids speed, till I started getting up early.  Now they are up at 7:30 or 8.  How.do.they.know?  And why can't I have some uninterrupted, productive time? 

My goal with getting up early was so I could get work done and give my kids more undivided attention later in the day.  Now all three of us are sleep deprived and cranky by the end of the day and the house is still a mess and I still have hours of work to do after the kids are in bed, but I'm to sleepy to do it.  Sigh.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Here Comes the Drill

It's official... I have a new dentist.  She happens to be the same dentist my daughter saw for all her fillings and her tooth being pulled, but it's the first time she's inspected MY teeth.   Now that we have dental insurance, I could actually go in and have my initial visit.

And what do I think of her?  So far I like her too (my kids already do).  She and her staff are very nice and thorough.  I admit, I went into this appointment with some trepidation.  You see, every time I went to my previous dentist I was told that I needed to floss better.  I wasn't the most regular flosser back then, but I wasn't horrible either.  Now I floss every night no matter how tired I am.  The only times I missed brushing and flossing was when I was so sick I couldn't handle the thought of putting something in my mouth.

So how did today go?  She applauded me on being a regular flosser.  Then she told me that I don't need to... SAY WHAT?!?  Apparently, rather than using floss I need to use something a little different because the gaps at the base on my teeth are so big that floss doesn't do the job.  She also helped explain why I tend to have issues with cavities between my teeth (just like my daughter, I might add). 

Although I DO need a couple fillings because of the gap / floss issue, I'm hopeful that the new method of cleaning between my teeth will prevent any future cavities.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Living on a Funny Farm

Well, we've done it again.  We took in another stray.  This time a rabbit.


As you can see it's really cute.  And the story of how we got it is rather sad (after all, we're suckers for a sad story).

We had an old fridge we were selling on Craig's List and someone came for it.  Apparently they'd been kicked out of their former home and had a new place lined up but there were NO appliances.  Thus they were looking for the cheapest running fridge they could find (which happened to be ours). 

So how did we end up with the rabbit?  Side note, I was not home at all during this time.  As they were getting ready to leave, they asked if we were interested in their rabbit or dog (We are not big dog people so that was out of the question).  I guess they either couldn't have pets or they didn't feel they could afford them.  Whatever, the case hubby said yes to the rabbit.  So, back to the side note... I get home and AS I'm getting out of the car the kids come running out of the house and say, "Mommy guess what?  Daddy got us a rabbit!"  My first thought - they MUST be kidding.  He wouldn't do that with all the animals we already have.  I was wrong.

We now have a rabbit, 10 cats (only one of which we consider ours), and 6 fish.  And we're thinking of getting some chickens soon.  Yep, we're crazy.

I will say this though... I have never seen my son more willing and interested in reading and looking up things than since we started getting all these pets.  We've come home with library books on fish.  He's done online research about them too.  And the rabbit research has pretty extensive as well.