Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two Weeks

Wow, it has been two weeks since I last posted and that doesn't feel good to me. So much has happened, so here we go with yet ANOTHER catch-up post.

Okay, this is sad, but honestly, I can't remember exactly what was happening prior to the weekend before last (so roughly the 15/16 or so. I had that weekend off from work and we had been working on projects around the house. JoNo was starting to have symptoms of a cold, which wasn't good. He has mild intermittent asthma which generally does not bother him AT ALL but when he gets a cold, it flares up in a severe case which often leaves us in an urgent/emergency situation. Not fun at all!

I don't recall for sure but I believe we sent him to school on Monday. He is in a special reading class that requires great attendance and after his fall sickness, I think he had only three days available to miss before he would be dropped from the program. (They can have a total of 8 missed days and then the next time, they get dropped)  His teacher is aware of this, but she isn't the one who sets the guidelines for the program - some university in another state sets them. But she has tried to work with us, by having him often be the first child she meets with that day so that if he does get sent home, he won't get dropped from the program. We also had some other arrangements made with her, but her supervising teacher said no, that it would not work out, so she just has him scheduled as the first kid as much as she can.

Anyhow, JoNo was doing okay when I left for work on Monday night. Hubby was also not feeling well, but sometimes, as a parent, you just have to push through and try to make it work. I wanted to stay home, but I knew that really was not a possibility as I had just gotten a poor review from my boss at work the previous Friday (okay, so I guess I do remember parts of that previous week as well - oh well, I will just fill in with other things as needed). So, anyhow, I got to work and I was going to be working on the floor and going into our secured Alzheimer's unit for last rounds until the end of the shift (so roughly 4a-6a). But then one of my co-workers and one of the residents on our Alzheimer's unit started having issues with each other. It has been happening frequently and I often end up going back there and the co-worker coming out to the floor because I have the easiest time settling this resident down. Anyhow, I was back there and the decision was made to just have me stay back there the whole night. No biggie.

Around 2:30 or so, Hubby texts me to tell me that JoNo is doing very poorly and needs to go into the emergency room. I tell him to call and talk to my charge nurse because I think the chances of me being able to go home are greater if he calls and talks to her. (Which is the case I am sure.) So he calls and talks to my charge nurse and she eventually comes back and talks to me. Apparently, our boss had said that I could not go home to help with it and that Hubby needed to figure it out on his own. I was not pleased with this AT ALL. I let Hubby know what the boss said and he started getting all of the kids up and ready to go so that he could get JoNo to the hospital. Meanwhile, my charge nurse decides that the boss is being unreasonable and has me call around to see if I can find someone to come in early to cover the rest of my shift. (Nothing I like better than calling people around 3am to see if they want to come in to work early!) Ugh!

Eventually, even though I didn't find anyone who was able to come in, the nurse told me to go ahead and go on home. It's an hour and fifteen minute drive. I made it in just under an hour (maybe 50 minutes?) I didn't intend to go faster, but I was worried about my sweet JoNo.

So, I get to the hospital where he is being seen and after a bit we find out that he has bronchitis and a double ear infection. They put him on an antibiotic for both and send us home. Later that day, I call his pediatrician to see what he wants to do and when we should bring JoNo in to see him. He says that he wants to see JoNo the next day (Wednesday). I ask him about work for me (for various reasons which I didn't have to explain to our pedi because he knows us well enough) and he tells me that I need to stay home from work for that night because of JoNo being sick and that Hubby needed me to be home as well, since he'd be up all day with the well kids and then have to try and be up all night with JoNo for his round-the-clock breathing treatments and the fact that breathing issues tend to flare up more severely at night, etc. etc. Plus, Hubby was starting to feel ill as well and he was likely to get really run-down and get very ill as well if he didn't have a chance to take it easier. He offered a note to substantiate it as well, if needed. I took him up on the offer.

So I called work and let them know. They said that I needed to try to find my own replacement. So I called everyone on the list. No one could work for me. We have three aides at night, but fairly often we are scheduled short with only two aides, so the fact that I wouldn't be able to be there wasn't a huge issue (in my opinion).

The older boys had a school function that evening. It was a free all-school skate for the students and their families. We generally cannot afford activities like that and the next day was Natty's 10th birthday and he really wanted to go to the skating party but wasn't hopeful about it at all because he knew that JoNo's health often preempts all else when he is sick. But JoNo was resting peacefully, Hubby was doing okay at that point and Boo was just watching cartoons so I decided to take Natty and Punky to the skating party.

They had a blast! Natty is not a skilled skater by any means and neither is Punky, but they both did okay and most importantly, had a lot of fun! Plus, it was totally free, which I liked a lot. At one point, my boss calls me and he hears the background din and gets mad that I wasn't home with JoNo. Well, the whole skating party was a grand total of two hours, we didn't get there right when it started, as I didn't want to be away from JoNo and Hubby for three hours (the amount of time we would have been away had we been there for the whole thing) but I also didn't feel that Natty and Punky should have to miss out on the party either, so I took them.

My boss was asking me about why I had to leave work the previous night/morning and why Hubby couldn't handle it himself, etc. etc. and why I had to miss work that night as well, and I did my best to explain that Hubby was sick as well the night before and we have three other kids that also need to be cared for and that JoNo's lung disease makes any sickness a real health issue. He tells me to call everyone on the list a second time. We leave the rink about 30 minutes later (had to round up my kiddos) and as soon as I get home, I call everyone a second time, which seems pointless to me. Not to mention the fact that according to policy at work, we only need to call and find our own replacement for weekend shifts UNLESS we have a doctor's note. I had a doctor's note AND it wasn't a weekend, which meant that, according to policy, I wasn't required to call anyone to find a replacement, much less, call everyone TWICE. But, whatever, I tried anyhow, and texted him to let him know that I still was not able to find anyone to cover.

So, Tuesday night, Mike ends up going into the emergency room because he is having breathing issues and chest pressure, etc. They tested him and as it turns out, he has influenza. So, I had been up all night Monday night/ Tuesday morning, all day on Tuesday, most of Tuesday night, so when I was finally able to get some sleep on Wednesday morning (after kids left for school and just before JoNo's doctor's appointment) I crashed. Hubby, even though he was sick, took JoNo to the appointment and ended up writing another note for my work stating that due to Hubby's illness I needed to be home to care for JoNo. My inlaws didn't want the kids or Hubby over at their house because my father-in-law was about to go on a business trip and didn't want to get sick from the kids or Hubby. My mom, well, she isn't real attentive to the kiddos, so we try not to have her watch the kids much. So we really didn't have any outside resources. Plus, considering the fact that I am gone for work 11 hours per day in good weather and would need another 8 hours or so to sleep, I would end up needing 19 hours of childcare if I were able to find someone to watch the kids. 19 hours, most of it during the night. Not likely to happen.

So, I get the note from Hubby and I take it to the inlaw's house to fax it in to work. The note says that I am not to return to work until JoNo's illness had improved. Which I thought was pretty plain to mean that I would let them know when he was better and when I would be able to return to work.

Wednesday night was my scheduled night off. I was up with kids and taking care of JoNo and Hubby and trying to catch up on housework that Hubby had fallen behind on. Thursday, kids went to school, JoNo and I slept much of the day as we were able to and then Thursday night, I was home with the family. Friday afternoon, I get an inbox message on Facebook from my boss telling me that I was a no call/no show for the previous night. We discuss this off and on throughout the afternoon via Facebook's email system. I disagree that it was a no call/no show, but it's not really up to me to say what it was, so I leave it alone. I let him know that due to JoNo's illness, I will not likely be back to work until Monday night (which actually is my next scheduled night off - so really Tuesday night).

On Monday, JoNo is back to school. On Tuesday, everyone else's sickness catches up to me, so I miss work for my own illness. On Monday night, Hubby goes back into the emergency room for tooth pain caused by a broken tooth and what likely is an infection caused by it. They give him an antibiotic. Tuesday evening, the nurse line tells him to go back in because he has severe swelling and pain that isn't being helped by the current medications. So he goes back in. They change his antibiotic and his pain medicine. He goes home. Then he gets even worse. His face is so swollen on one side that he can't even see out of his eye. The nurse line says that he needs to go back in again. So back in he went. They ended up admitting him.

On Wednesday, he has emergency oral surgery. They remove 3 teeth and insert a drain. The tooth that was causing him pain was broken and had started an infection in his face. Then it became necrotic and the infection worsened and in the end, he had the three teeth removed, the drain inserted through his gumline,up into the cheek area, approaching his cheekbone, to drain any excess fluid/pus/infection. The gross part for me is that it drains into his mouth. Yuck! That has to be nasty for him. Thankfully, they have also kept him pretty well drugged up.

I got 3 (maybe) hours of sleep on Wednesday morning, from around 9am to 12p when Hubby called to let me know that they were going to be taking him in for the surgery. He asked that I come back to the hospital. Oh, and MIL had decided that she was going to take the kids overnight on Tuesday night since they were all well b/c of how much pain Hubby was in. Forgot to mention that part.

So I come back in on Wednesday afternoon, and it all happens so fast that I actually meet him on his way down to surgery. Thank goodness that I didn't catch an extra red light or anything! And then I spend the next three hours in the waiting room. Two of those hours with MIL, who also came to be here with Hubby. I wait to talk to the surgeon and then realize after he was gone that I had neglected to find out the post-op plans. So I didn't know if Hubby was going to go home afterwards, if he was going to stay in the hospital for a bit, or whatever.

So, then I wait for him to come out of recovery. I decide to call up to the nurse's station for his room and they tell me that he isn't up there yet and that I can wait in his room for him to come back. So up to the room MIL and I go. It wasn't long before Hubby was brought back up from recovery. He was still mostly sedated but I stayed for about another hour or so then headed on home to make dinner and try to get some sleep before work.

By the time I got home though, I knew that work would not be a good idea. I was so tired and so sleep-deprived that I felt it would be really risky to try to commute. I called work and let the charge nurse know, then I made a few phone calls to see if I could find anyone to cover and I couldn't so I called her back to let her know who I had tried to call so that she could pick up where I left off. I made spaghetti for supper and then Hubby texted me to let me know that his mom had just left. And then I slept for the next three hours until Hubby texted me again, asking me to bring up his pillows and blanket.

My mom had been staying at our house since Tuesday night and she came up to the hospital with me as well, so we stayed for a little bit but he was mostly sleeping and groggy so we left to go back home and try to get some more work done around the house. Not too long after arriving home, Hubby texts me again and asks me to bring up his toiletries. I gather them up and try to get a few things done, but I can tell from the tone of his messages that he is really anxious about being in the hospital, so I head back in, leaving my mom to finish up the kids' bedroom level of the house. I am not making much headway on the chores I had been trying to accomplish, but one can only do so much while also trying to manage everything else.

I am grateful that my mom is over to help out with the cleaning and getting the house back into shape. I am also grateful that the kids are better and that my mother-in-law is willing to keep them (probably until this weekend from the sound of it), I am grateful that Hubby has the care he needs and everything right now. But I feel like I am being stretched so thin at the same time.

There are a few things that I didn't mention yet in here. Last Friday (in addition to everything else) I had a meeting at Boo's school. They have four regular meetings per year in addition to this IEP/IFSP meetings. But we decided to cut his schooling back to three days a week from the five that he had been going, because it is throwing his sleep schedule off so much. He has days where he is rested and alert and ready to learn and cooperate and then he has days where he's tired and cranky and has a "ain't no one gonna get me to do nothin'" kind of attitude. And I knew it was likely to happen, because he is a child who still very much needs his naps. Often times, he falls asleep on the bus ride home and then he sleeps until about 5pm and then goes to bed last among the kids. Yes, my 3 year old has a later bedtime than my 10 year old. It's just the way life works at our house. But then there are other days where he doesn't fall asleep on the bus and he gets off and comes inside and will lay down and look at books quietly for awhile and then he will get up and be active again. These are the nights that he crashes around 7:30 but he doesn't sleep through the night. He will sleep until about 10 or 11 and then he's awake and wired for the next three or four hours. Then he will go back to sleep.

So we hope that by changing his schooling to three days a week, it will allow him to be alert and ready to participate in school on the days that he is there, since he will (hopefully) be getting adequate naps on his days off from school. We will be meeting again in another month to see how it is working and if we can bump him back up to five days. They also are going to recommend that he be in morning classes next year.

But apart from the scheduling dilemma and changes, they had lots of good praise about his accomplishments at school and how well he is doing. They reported to me that he is a very pleasant, friendly child who is eager to learn and to please people (when he is rested) and that he is very social and doing well in that aspect as well. He knows all of his letters by sight as well as numbers up to 20 and can rote count up to 20 (at home, it's 29 but still...) It was a very good meeting and I was pleased with his progress.

Let's see...what else... Oh, on Monday, I had a job interview at another facility. It is also out of town but it's closer and they are in the process of building a location in the city where we live, and just a few miles away too. It is scheduled to open in November and if I were to be hired on to this facility out of town, I would be able to transfer to the facility here in town once it opens. I have my fingers crossed for his job because it would solve a lot of issues. Plus, it's on a stretch of highway that doesn't get hit nearly as hard with our winter weather and overall, I think it just would be a better situation.

Hubby also wanted me to call another facility that I have worked in as a home health aide that is literally five minutes from home with both stoplights between here and there being red. That would have some serious time advantages to it and that particular facility is an Alzheimer's one so it is right up my alley too. Plus I know the staff there and have known many of them for years. My first assignment as a home health aide there was back in 2008. So the staff and I - we have history together. A good one too. Unfortunately, the only thing that they have available there right now is part-time evenings. Part-time would not work and evenings are my last choice for a shift. Preference would be days and then nights and then evenings. I will keep tabs on what is available over there though.

We also have a house inspection coming up next Monday. We had applied for government housing assistance and our name came to the top of the list last June. In September, we got our voucher. In December, we got an extension on our voucher, and now we are finally getting the house inspected to make sure it passes their guidelines. (It should.) But I have been trying to get it ultra-cleaned in the meantime because it also makes me nervous. I feel like they are going to be coming in and judging me personally, even though I am not the one home to maintain the house on a regular basis. In actuality, they are coming in to make sure that the house is safe and meets their safety criteria and so on and so forth. But this program will reduce our monthly rent expense by nearly half, which will go a long way towards us being able to take care of debt and such.

And in other news, I finally got my last W-2 today in the mail. Well, one W-2 and one 1099 really. But I got them and so as soon as I find the one that Hubby had "put up" so it wouldn't "get lost" we can call up our tax preparer and get everything filed. We are going to be getting a decent return this year as well, which is awesome because we really need it to help us catch up on our month-to-month expenses as well as to make some repairs to the house that our darling little children have caused and to catch up on past debt too. I have this goal that by this time next year, we will be debt-free with the exception of my student loans. And with any luck, those will be in deferment (because I will hopefully be back in school) and therefore will be able to pay them down quickly while making payments on them when they aren't due for payments to be made.

Wow. This was a long post. And I think it will hit every tag that I have - or nearly every tag anyhow. If you made it the end of this post, kudos to you! You are a brave, brave soul! Also, instead of trying to catch up on all of the activities and old postings that I had missed during my unscheduled bloggy break, I will just be jumping back in. But with a little less pressure this time. I am going to do what I can as I can. Because when life happens, it won't feel like yet another way that I'm falling behind in my obligations. Does that make sense?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where the Time Is Spent...

Today's Small Thing was a HUGE project for me. We were to sit down and fill in a horizontal schedule with how we use our time each week, to be able to see where we have blocks of time that we can use. My weekly schedule is such a huge issue for me because of my sleep schedule. I am never quite sure how to arrange my time, especially since I work part of every single day (either the morning of that day - or the night of that day) with the exception of two days each month.

But I did it. I have my schedule in an Excel document. It isn't pretty and I realized that although I start work five nights a week, I actually work six mornings one week and four mornings the next week. I'm not sure that is actually something that I am all that thankful for figuring out. Oh well.

It's done and I think that I need to really evaluate my schedule with my Hubby's assistance as well to really figure out how to best accommodate my need for sleep with our family's need for me to be awake. Most of my fun activities like watching DVR'ed shows and such, is done in the middle of the night on one of my nights off or on an evening that I don't work after the kids go to bed. It's really hit and miss with my fun activities. The kids aren't really involved in any weekly activities apart from Wednesday night church group and Hubby takes them to that and drops them off.

After much tweaking to the schedule, I think I have it all figured out now. Phew!  And it only took me half an hour to figure out the whole sleep portion of my schedule. At least it's figured out though!

This is what it looks like:

If you want to, you can click on each "picture" to enlarge it, but only if you REALLY REALLY want to, it isn't all that entertaining but it's there. And it was worth quite a few points as well.

Total for today: 70 points
Total for January: 480 points

Tossed It Tuesday

If you read my Tackle It Tuesday post, you would have read some of the things that I tossed today. But here it is again, with some of the other items I have tossed this past week (either donated, thrown away or given away):

  • trash that was stashed in a dead zone in our bedroom (now usable - and utilized - storage space)
  • outgrown clothing from our children (found in former bedroom dead zone)
  • outgrown shoes from our children (found in former bedroom dead zone)
  • boxes, boxes, boxes (some were from my work that I had brought home for my mom to use as she was moving and had either not made it to her yet or had been utilized by Hubby)
  • fridge items (I will spare you the exact details, but yeah, some of it wasn't pretty)
I think that is pretty much it. That dead zone today was quite the job, but it's much nicer now. In the end, I think there was one small tote of toys that was kept from the area. And the space is about five feet long, two and a half feet tall and three feet deep? Something like that anyhow. And mostly filled with junk and trash. So nice knowing that all of that is gone! Woo! Thanks again to Violet for the inspiration! (You can click on the picture to visit her and join in on the purge!)

Tackle It Tuesday

This week my tackle was going to be the area under the stairs where we store our Christmas tree and related items so that I could get it all put away, but then life happened, it snowed, my commute was twice then three times the amount that it usually is, I got snowed in at work for a bit until the highways were somewhat passable... So the project under the stairs still has not gotten done. However, I did clear out an area in our bedroom that had given way to chaos. It's an odd-shaped. There is a wall that houses pipes and vents and such, I believe. Not really sure because it's blocked from the bottom. But there is an area underneath it where there is some storage space available. So, I pulled everything out from that area, put our Christmas totes in there (4 of them to be exact - still need to locate the lid for one of them though), put our desktop computer back in that area in the front of it, until it goes out to it's new home, on a desk that will be in the den once the desk gets moved back into the house from our garage. Ahem. One step at a time, please. Same thing with our television that we did have in our room. It is stored in the front of a tote as well - one of our file totes, where we store important papers. The television will go out to the den as well, once we get another piece of furniture in there to put it on. I also found some of the kids' smaller toys that all fit into a small tote, which I sent up with the kids to be put into their rooms. I also threw out some toys that I didn't want around anymore. Ones that were broken, had missing pieces, or just hadn't been played with. I also came across some storage shelves and put them next to the chair that Hubby put back into our room. I cleared off the shelves and have them ready to go for storage items. Not sure what I want to store on them, but they are ready to go. Our room is now probably about 20% neat and organized. It will be more, but I'm taking it a bit at a time, as I am able to get it done. Hope to continue working on it this week as well.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Household Organization System

I have tried a number of different systems to get the house neat and organized and they all work for a while, then they stop working because our life changes and our system needs to change with our life as well. Today, Rachel Anne is talking about household organization systems and I'm game. It's time we came up with a new system to follow around here, because the last one just isn't cutting it at the moment. And since Hubby is now the one home full-time with the kids, this system seems like one that will work for him as well, which also works for me.

We are supposed to write down the basic household tasks that are important to the health and well-being of our family. So here goes:
  • Grocery shopping - 2
  • Kitchen floor: sweep - 1
  • Kitchen floor: mop - 1
  • Dishes - 1
  • Counters - 1
  • Oven - 4
  • Fridge -3
  • Pantry - 4
  • Trash - 1
  • Living room general clean - 1
  • Den general clean - 1
  • Vacuum living room - 2
  • Vacuum den - 2
  • Vacuum bedrooms - 3
  • Cleaning bedrooms - 2
  • Dusting - 4
  • Entry way - 2
  • Laundry: sheets and towels - 2
  • Laundry: family clothes - 1
  • Personal time - 2
  • Bathrooms - 2
  • Paper work (filing, bills, etc.) - 4
  • Yard work - 4 (for now, with the exception of shoveling which is just as needed based on snowfall)
  • Errands - 2
  • Feeding pets - 1
  • Cleaning up after pets - 1
  • Volunteering - 3
(I borrowed her list and added, omitted or changed a few items.) As you can see, there are numbers next to each item. That is how I rated them, using the following rating system. I took a long, hard look at each item and rated it based on how often it REALLY needs to be done. The rating system is as follows:

1 - This should be done every day
2 - This could be done once a week
3 - This could be done once, every other week
4 - This could be done once a month
5 - This ain't gonna happen

Making up this list today was worth 50 points! And I didn't even have to do any actual work! However, there was a bonus of 30 points for doing minimum maintenance, which I did do. So yay!

Total for today: 80 points
Total for January: 410 points!.

Menu Plan Monday

I'm not planning a menu for this week. My reason for this being that I most likely will not be home and Hubby will be the one in charge of creating meals. And he is an awesome cook. So rather than planning a menu and buying the ingredients for the menu, I am choosing to turn it over to him completely. And, we have had heavy snowfall in our region this past weekend and there is a very real possibility that I will not be coming home from work once I go back there tomorrow night. I may stay in the other town at my boss's house. An interesting, seemingly unusual, arrangement, but one that should work well nonetheless. We will see if that is necessary. If I stay there in town, most of my meals will be provided for me, due to the fact that I had to stay. That's just one of the nice benefits of staying in town. So there you have it, I'm skipping MPM this week and turning it all over to Hubby.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

21-day Challenge Intro

I found this site and the challenges through one of my fabulous readers, Violet. Thanks Violet for linking to this challenge! I want to make sure not to overwhelm myself with too many organizing prompts and projects but I really like this one and I don't think it would be too much to add it to what I am already doing, so it's added. I plan to go back as I am able and do the previous prompts as well. Even though they will be done on later dates, I will publish them with the date that they were assigned and link them up to the original dates, but will include a disclaimer somewhere on the date that it was actually done. That should work nicely. Now to just find that blasted camera charger. At this rate, I will be taking pictures with my cell phone and texting them to my email just to be able to show them. Actually, that isn't such a bad idea. LOL! Apart from the fact that the cell phone doesn't take awesome quality pictures, but that's the price I pay for not having had the house organized well enough to keep track of the charger, right?

So, these are the posts that I need to catch up on (and will be linked to the post after they are done):

Challenge 1 (1/1): The Junk Drawer
Challenge 2 (1/3): The Computer Desk
Challenge 3 (1/4): Tupperware Cabinets
Challenge 4 (1/5): The Linen Closet
Challenge 5 (1/6): Under the Kitchen Sink
Challenge 6 (1/7): Dresser Drawers
Challenge 7 (1/8): The Pantry

It may take a little bit to get it done, but it will happen. My goal is to have them completed by next weekend. I plan to double up the challenges and do two per day until then. I might do more as my schedule allows. I am seriously motivated to get my home organized and decluttered. We are looking at a possible move soon to a house that we would actually own, instead of just renting. If that doesn't motivate me to get things in order for an easy move, I don't know what would. So, with all that being said, I hereby announce my plan to join this 21 day challenge.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Finish It Friday

Okay, so I'll admit that today's finish it project is a little bit different. Today's project was finishing up my Christmas clearance purchases.

This morning I had to run to NattyNu's school to take him his violin bow. Somehow, his violin made it to school, but his bow did not and he needed it for his 8:30 a.m. class time. I got home from work, got his bow and headed back out to drop it off for him. Afterward, I decided I would stop by the Super Target that is near his school so I could see what they had available. I found some more ornaments to add to our collection, thus finishing my post-Christmas purchases.

I also picked up some clear totes for our animal supplies storage. I got a big one for Natty's guinea pig bedding. We buy a big bag of bedding for his guinea because it's the best price, but then once it's opened, there isn't a good way to close it to keep it from spilling all over the place, so I got a tote to put it in. I actually have plans to stop buying it that way and to get it instead from a semi-local person who planes wood from their property and sells it by the paper lawn bag full. I can buy twice as much that way as I can from the store. I also picked up three smaller (shoebox size) totes to use to store our guinea pig food, mouse food and mouse bedding. We cannot use the same bedding for our mouse as we can for guinea pig. It kills mice. We found this out the hard way with three previous mice.

The last items I picked up were some bath towels, hand towels, and bath mats that were on clearance. I wanted to get towels to just hang in the bathrooms, not to use them. They look nice but they aren't a real sturdy, quality fabric. A lot of people have their nicer thicker more plush towels hung out for company to use, but I prefer to use those myself for our family. Therefore, the company towels are ones that look nice but are not top of the line. Does that make me a bad hostess? Maybe. Does it show my family that I hold our own comfort in high regard? Yes. And I'm okay with that too.

(Small disclaimer: If we had overnight guests, they would also have use of nice plush towels. The lesser towels are for daytime company for drying their hands after washing them.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pens Pens Everywhere

Today's assignment has to do with pens. In many households, there are an abundance of pens that are dried up, don't work or just are not accessible in the place where they are most frequently used. So today, we are supposed to go through and get rid of the dud pens and keep out the stud ones. Slight paraphrase of the assignment, but you all understand exactly what I'm saying anyhow.

Now, a little confession, or actually, maybe a few of them. First off, I am a CNA and as such, I have pens galore. I also have a Tupperware business, as well as a knitting business. Plus, I have an addiction affection for great writing tools AND great writing surfaces. My issue is not so much that I can't find a pen when I need one or that I have old ones that don't work. It's more of the issue that I have pens for different purposes. I prefer a medium gel roller ball pen for writing resident's names on their supplies at work, but a sharpie would work just as well and I have recently taken to carrying one with me at work, following the example of another aide. For documenting, I prefer a fine tip ball point pen (in black ink so that it's legal). For my Tupperware business, I prefer to hand out cheap ball point pens that I get 20 to a package at the dollar store. Hubby prefers a hearty (and by hearty, I mean pricey) gel roller pen.

Then there are the pencils. I prefer mechanical pencils most of the time, although I must confess that sometimes there is just something about the feel and smell of a regular graphite pencil that I find gratifying and inspiring. Hubby prefers the new Sharpie liquid pencils. Once again, a "hearty" product. On the other hand, I have to admit - they are nice and I do keep one on hand to use myself. Natty prefers mechanical pencils over graphite ones and thankfully at this point, he hasn't developed more specific preferences yet. JoNo prefers the graphite pencils and Miss Punky Pie and Boo are willing to use whatever they can get their hands on. Now, if only we could get Boo to realize that toys and walls are NOT the best medium to use for his, ahem, artwork, we'd be set.

Wow. That was a major tangent. All of that to say that what I needed to do was round up our writing utensils and sort them out based on who uses them, where they are used and which item is the preferred instrument. So now that I have done that, I shouldn't have any reason to not have the right instrument at the right time to write with. Okay, the last part of that sentence was totally cheesy, but meh, it's my blog and I'll be cheesy if I wanna. :)

Today's assignment for throwing out old pens, pencils, crayons, etc. was worth 40 points with bonus points for adding the purchase of new ones to the shopping list adding on the potential of an additional 10 points.

Total for today: 50 points
Total for January: 260 points!

Time For Me Thursday

Hmm, trying to figure out what I want to write about. I did a few things for me today. The first was going shopping first thing this morning. I was actually waiting in Hubby's van outside the Target store near my house for about 10 minutes before they even opened their doors for the day. I was super stressed out by 8:30 in the morning, if that says anything. Hence the text to my best friend, Chris, "Arrrrggggghhhhh, so frustrated I just want to scream" at like 8am. So Hubby sent me out for some "me" time. I checked out the Christmas clearance at Target and spend a whopping $9.63 on TWO bags of ornaments. Some were big and some were small, and I don't know exactly how many I bought. They are the ones that you buy individually though. And I saved $81.00 on them too. Gotta love 90% off clearance sales. And I only got ornaments that I truly loved.

Hubby, Punky and I went out for lunch today. They let me join them on their usual Daddy/Daughter Thursday lunch date. Punky wanted McDonalds but we gave her a myriad of other options and she finally chose Red Robin. Though to be honest, even Red Robin is getting to be on the "oh no, please not that again!" list. But we went and got to sit in the section of one of our preferred servers, Casey.

She is really nice and fun and knows our kids. She and I have even hung out together away from her work. (As I said, it's starting to become a "please not there again" place - it shows when the people who serve you know you so well that you hang out with them too.) Anyhow, Casey even made Punky a strawberry shake that we didn't order - just to be nice. And we were invited to her son's 6th birthday party on Sunday at a laser tag place. It'd be something that Hubby, Natty and JoNo would enjoy - not so much Punky, Boo and I - although we'd likely go along, we just wouldn't play. Casey and her son, BayBay, share a birthday, which is actually on Monday. I think it'd be fun to go to the party. My kids have never met BayBay although I have. I think Punky and JoNo would get along well with him.

After lunch, we went out and did something that I've been wanting to do for almost a week now. But before I get to that part, I have to tell you a story first.

At the beginning of 2010, we had two vehicles, a 2000 Hyundai Elantra (mini) wagon and a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan. We got the Elantra back in 2005, back when we were a family of four and I got pregnant with Punky just months after that. The Elantra seats five so all was good and well with that. Hubby also had a Honda which seated five. Then we got pregnant with and had Boo - and we needed to take both cars everywhere we went as a family. But thankfully, the Honda died in 2008 and we got the Grand Caravan, which seated seven and was just perfect.

Okay, fast forward to October of 2010 and just after I started the new job. I was driving the Grand Caravan and another driver rand a red light and hit my van, totaling it and turning Punky into an intense backseat driver. We got a new van the first part of November, just before Hubby and I took our 10th anniversary vacation. So then we had the 2000 Hyundai Elantra wagon and the 2003 Dodge Caravan.

Then in December, I was hit again by another driver who failed to yield. This time it was in the Elantra wagon. The car that hit me? A Cadillac. My door has been crunched in since then, and I can't open it from the outside and actually, I often have to open the back door before I can open the driver's door. This has been done by reaching across the seat from the passenger side to be able to reach both. So, the process looked something like this:

  1. Unlock passenger door
  2. Crawl in
  3. Reach across to unlock the driver's door (thereby unlocking all the doors)
  4. Reach into the back seat and open the back door
  5. Open the driver's door
  6. Crawl out
  7. Close passenger door
  8. Go around car and close back door
  9. Get in driver's door
  10. Close door
All of that just to get INTO my car.Okay, it was inconvenient, And on some of the -0* mornings, it was downright uncomfortable. And yes, I complained about it sometimes to Hubby. But for the most part, I was still grateful. The car still ran and I loved it. It got incredible gas mileage that I had never realized nor appreciated until I was commuting 120 miles each day.

So I was commuting my 120 miles each day with my crunched in door until late December. One morning as I was on my way home after having to stay half an hour late for work, I noticed that my battery seemed to be having a trouble keeping a charge. My head and dash lights would dim then come back to regular power. This happened a few times, then about 22 miles from work and 38 miles from home on a stretch of highway that isn't heavily traveled, I heard a pop followed by a hissing sound under the hood and then noticed steam starting to billow out from under the hood. It had happened once before last summer and back then something had casued my coolant to shoot out of the overflow hose onto the warm engine and so I had put more coolant in it to be able to drive it home until the thermostat could be looked at. It was looked at and fixed and running well. So when it happened again, i knew what it probably was. I pulled over, go out, checked the coolant reservoir and sure enough, it was empty but there was coolant on everything else under then sun hood. So I called Hubby, left him a message so he would know I was going to be late getting home, then called my father-in-law (from here on out referred to as FIL). Mind you, it was 6:55 a.m. at this point. I woke him up and told him what had happened. He offered to call a tow truck and to come get me. I told him that I didn't need a tow truck, I just needed some 50/50, explaining what it was and where to buy it. So, he got up, got ready to go, stopped at a gas station, bought the coolant and drove out to where I was. I had my knitting with me so I sat and knitted until he got there.

When he arrived, I refilled the reservoir and headed into the next town, eight miles away. By the time I got there, my car was overheating again, but the reservoir was full. We decided that since the car had made it those eight miles before overheating, that I would drive into the next town (another eight miles away) and then stop to let it cool down before going another six miles to get to the edge of the city we live in. Then to take periodic breaks driving it the remaining 14 miles to the service station that we use.

So off we went, with FIL following behind me. I made it almost a full mile before the car overheated again. I pulled into a stranger's rural driveway and via cell phone, FIL and I decided to go back to the town we had just left and to call the tow truck after all. So we did. It took AAA thirty minutes to find a tow truck and then another hour for it to get to us (by then it was 9:40 a.m.) The guy loaded up the Elantra wagon and took it to the service station we use.

The next day, I found out that it was going to cost nearly $7,000 to fix the wagon. Antifreeze and oil were mixing due to a broken gasket, the thermostat wasn't working properly and I had some sort of electrical issue as well, which is what had caused my dome light/horn/radio/cigarette lighter, etc. to not work either. We only paid $6,000 for it back in 2005 when it had 26,000 miles on it, so there was no way we were going to spend $7,000 to fix it now. The decision was made to start looking for a new car.

I looked at a number of sites, checked dealerships, etc. then found a car that I really wanted. It was a 2001 Hyundai Elantra sedan with similar mileage to my Elantra wagon and it was just as fuel efficient as my wagon too.

After lunch today, we went to the dealership and took it for a test drive. We did notice a few things that I wanted them to fix as part of the purchase agreement, and let them know about them. We then called Hubby's parents and they came down and took it for a test drive. We all discussed it and then put in an offer on the car that was $750 under the asking price, and the dealership accepted it! So now I have a new (to me) Hyundai Elantra sedan. And it's purty too!  See?


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cookbook Straightening

Today's assignment is to simply straighten up the cookbooks and make them look neat and orderly. This is easy enough to do. It took me all of maybe a minute (TOPS!) to do it. Yay for easy points! :) The second part was to talk like Julia Child while doing so. My husband looked at me strangely, as I do an absolutely horrid job of an English accent, but I did that part too.

Straightening the cookbooks is worth 40 points. Talking like Julia Child is worth a bonus 20 points.

Total for today: 60 points
Total for January: 210 points!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Minimum Maintenance

Today's assignment is to learn about Minimum Maintenance. Just simply learning about it is the first part of the assignment. The second part of the assignment is to, um, DO it. :) So, here goes. I did it. I wasn't happy that all I was able to get done was the minimum, but what can I say? Oh wait - it was what I did say, "I guess some is better than none, right?" The second part, the actual DOing part, was also worth 50 points. It didn't feel like it was worth 50 points to me, but I'll take it. :)

Also, she recommends doing three things to make it easier:

1. A daily pick-up routine
  • Spend 5 minutes in each room, 15 in the kitchen.  Just pick up what has been gotten out today.
2. An easy housekeeping schedule
  • Mondays - focus extra time on bedrooms
  • Tuesdays - focus extra time on the kitchen
  • Wednesdays - focus extra time on the den
  • Thursdays - focus extra time on the bathrooms
  • Fridays - focus extra time on the living room
  • Weekends - focus extra time on the laundry
3. A menu plan
  • See my Menu Plan Monday posts for this.

Learning about Minimum Maintenance is worth 50 points. DOing Minimum Maintenance is worth a bonus 50 points.

Total for today: 100 points
Total for January: 150 points!

Tossed It Tuesday

Violet stopped by and mentioned the theme she is planning to do on Tuesdays, that is right in line with decluttering and tackling and so on, and since Tuesday also happens to be our trash day, it's quite convenient!  :)

What we have tossed out this past week:

Well, I wanted to empty out our storage unit as I am tired of paying $115 a month on a unit when I have ample storage available in my own garage as well as lots of storage in my house.  So, we spent much of Monday emptying out the unit.  Most of the items in it were furniture pieces that actually belonged to my mother, but I had her permission to do with them as I saw fit and so rather than have them in my garage cluttering up my own space (so therefore it kinda sorta counts as MY declutter) we tossed out four dressers in various stages of disrepair, as well as an old computer monitor.  We were able to unload the storage unit completely (bye bye monthly payment!) and now our garage is yet again full but it won't be for long - especially with the aid of this blogging theme!  Next week's list is going to be astounding!

Tackle It Tuesday

Today is now Tuesday, so it's time to tackle something, right? Well, I did manage to tackle our Christmas decorations. I have all of the tree decorations in one tote (see-through so that I can easily recognize it for what it is when I go to store it under the stairs later today). I have all of our tabletop and wall hanging decorations in another tote (solid white but clearly labeled) and all of my Christmas wrapping supplies in yet another tote. The tote is a clear underbed storage tote, which is exactly the same length as the shorter rolls of wrapping paper, which is what I buy anyhow. I even bought some extra rolls for 1/2 off a few days ago to supplement next year's Christmas wrapping. I still need to clear out the area under the stairs where I keep our Christmas trees (yes, plural) and our Christmas totes so that they can all be put away neatly.

So, that will be my tackle for next week. Clear out the area under the stairs so that I can more neatly store our seasonal decorations. I know that I have some stray items floating around the house yet, so I plan to keep these totes accessible so that I can put the stray items away as I come across them. Item example: Boo's Christmas stocking. He loved it and took it off his coat hook (re-purposed Christmas Eve for the kids' stockings) and was carrying it around. I thought I put it back on his hook, but either I was wrong or he got to it again because when I took the other kids' stockings down, his was AWOL again.

I'll check back in next week (possibly with pictures if my camera has enough battery power or if I also happen to find the cable to charge my camera's battery between now and then - so organized I tell ya!)

My tackle for today is some errands that need to be done. Boo has a specialty clinic appointment and we have a present that needs to be returned in the same city that our appointment is in.

UPDATE at 9:00am:
You know how just before the struck-out paragraph I said (sarcastically) that I was so organized? Well, yeah, um, not so much. Apparently Boo's specialty clinic appointment was actually yesterday at 9am, not today at 1pm, as I had written down on my calendar. So, organizing fail. Whoops! Glad that I called today to confirm the appointment time before driving an hour and some to Childrens' Hospital for the appointment.

So, new plan for today's tackle: deep clean the kids' bedrooms and the guest bedroom. The Christmas toys and clutter have taken over their bedrooms and their rooms were messy before the Christmas clutter. Their rooms were supposed to be cleaned out before they brought in any of their Christmas items, but it apparently didn't happen, so today I am going to tackle their rooms and make them neat and presentable.

I also need to make sure that I get enough sleep before my work shift tonight.

UPDATE at 5:00pm:
I didn't get their rooms done. We had errands to do and such, so instead, I just got the minimum done around the house today. Just basic picking up in most of the rooms. :/ But I guess some is better than none, right?

This post is linked up over at 5 minutes for mom.  Go check out what other people are tackling this week too!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Housekeeping Mission Statement

Today's assignment was to create a mission statement for my housekeeping goals and I have kind of done that already in another blog post, but I want to keep my Home Sanctuary posts together (so that I can also label them as well) so that I can track my points easier.  Don't understand what I'm talking about?  Click the Company Girl button right here <------- or on my sidebar to link to the blog and check it out!

But for now, on to the mission statement:

"I want to have the house organized and decluttered to make it easier for Hubby to keep up with the housework. I have been the one home full-time and I know how hard it can be to maintain the house when it's so full of stuff. What I would like to do is spend time on each of my days off from work and get rid of excess clutter around the house."  (quoted from my New Year's post) I want to be able to invite people in regardless of when they drop by.  I want my house to look lived in, I don't desire a model show home.  I want it to be comfortable.

Writing out the mission statement is worth 50 points.

Total for January:  50 points!

Menu Plan Monday

I haven't had a chance yet to really take stock of our panty, so here goes.  I have a feeling that this week will have a number of changes to the menu, so here goes...

Monday - dinner out with friends (we all have gift cards from Christmas to the same place)
Tuesday - dinner out with Boo (we have an appointment in another city and will be traveling and I am not sure about what time we will be able to eat.
Wednesday - leftovers (from Sunday's big meal with my family - we have leftover turkey and Hubby will make green bean casserole and mashed potatoes and homemade gravy to go with it)
Thursday - enchiladas, rice and beans
Friday - lasagna, broccoli, garlic bread
Saturday - pizza
Sunday - chicken, roasted potatoes and asparagus

Hopefully, we will stick to most of it. It all sounds really good to me!

I only planned dinner menus because the boys eat breakfast at school, the little kids usually have cold cereal, and Hubby and I aren't really much for eating first thing in the morning.

For lunch, all three boys eat at school, only Punky and Hubby eat lunch at home and that's all Hubby. And on Thursdays, they have their Daddy/daughter lunch date. I don't know why they do it on Thursdays, but they started it and now that's what they do. Sometimes, they will even bring me home something to eat too. Yummy!

I should eat more, especially if I want to be successful with my weight loss goals, but I really have a hard time eating enough, so I may just go ahead and start doing diet shakes just to make sure that I get adequate nutrition. Especially since I am on a completely different schedule from most people.

This will be linked up over at Org Junkie. Check it out!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions 2011

Okay, so I have been thinking quite a bit about this. I have decided that I want to make some resolutions for this year. So here comes my list...

  • Lose weight. I want to lose about 60 pounds. I weighed myself just after Christmas 2010, and at this exact moment, I am already down 9 pounds. But this goal is from what I weigh right now. So, the 9 pounds I have already lost is not included in this amount. Darn! :) We also plan to either purchase a gym membership or a stationary bike to use at home for when the weather is non-compliant for outdoor exercise (and for me to be able to work out on my night's off as well).
  • Eat meals at home at least six nights a week. I will keep an updated list of what we have on hand and create a menu each week.
  • Start creating a savings pool. With income tax return next month, we will be all caught up on all of our bills. I actually have created a bit of a savings pool already. Two paychecks ago, I had $100 left when I got my next check. Now, I am coming up on my next check and I have my initial $100 left over plus an extra $100. If I could continue to put away $200 a month, that would equate to $2600 every year. And when you take into account interest paid on that as well, it's a nice sum, and a good place to start.
  • Organize the house. I want to have the house organized and decluttered to make it easier for Hubby to keep up with the housework. I have been the one home full-time and I know how hard it can be to maintain the house when it's so full of stuff. What I would like to do is spend time on each of my days off from work and get rid of excess clutter around the house.
  • I want to start attending church every week, or at a minimum, the weeks that I don't have to work on Saturday night. The kids have Wednesday night church group every week during the school year, so they also have that. Our biggest challenges to regular church attendance has been Boo's inability to stay engaged in the classroom. It's not so bad during church because there are two teachers available. But for me to be able to attend Sunday school, Natty has to stay in Boo's classroom with him. However, since Boo has started school, maybe Sunday school would be easier. We'll just have to try it out and see if it will work.
  • I also want to start up my knitting business again. More as a hobby-type business. I don't want to get it to the point where it stresses me out or to the point where I can't make things for my own kids because I am so busy making things for customers, but I'd like to have enough business to keep it interesting and to offset the cost of the yarn for my own personal projects.
  • I have a Tupperware business and I'd like to hold an open house or a party about once every other month. Once again, nothing to overwhelm me, but enough to have fun with it and generate some extra income.

I think that sounds like a good amount of resolutions. Wish me luck!