Saturday, December 8, 2018

November 2018 Earthquake Update


First and foremost I want to thank everyone.  Your kindness and support during this time has been one of the few real bright points this entire week, so thank you SO much for that.  I needed every bit of it.

This has been a real ride this last week and just crazy and stressful.  First there was the aftershocks.  So.  Many.  Aftershocks!  We topped up over 3,000 yesterday, I think.  Up until a couple of days ago the aftershocks were just constant, which kept me in a constant state of shot nerves.  I finally slept downstairs last night instead of bedding down on the son's floor on a pile of blankets and I still felt unease about it.  Nerve wracking doesn't even BEGIN to cover it.

Then there was the son's stomach bug, which turned out to be a nearly week long affair (I called his pediatrician and I guess it's a nasty bug going around), so that was fun with a broken toilet.

I got so dehydrated on Friday just from not thinking to drink much and then not having water available TO drink (my emergency water somehow surfed from my pantry, across the hallway and was jammed over by the hot water heater in the laundry room) that by the time I went to the doctor on Monday I had a pretty significant urinary tract infection and kidney infection.  I didn't realize how badly it was effecting my ability to think until the nurse asked me if I was on the keto diet (as I had worrisome amounts of protein in my urine) and I couldn't remember what that was and other things that I should have known, but for the life of me couldn't remember.  Just as an aside I want to thank you all for your donations to my paypal as due to that generosity I was able to pay for that doctor's visit and BOY did I need it!  

Then there was the home owner's insurance.  Which turned out to be as useful as a screen door on a submarine.  I went from calling them Friday and them telling me to put things on credit card and take plenty of pictures and they'd get an adjuster out to confirm damages to calling them on Monday and them acting like I was insane for even thinking that I might be covered for earthquakes in an earthquake zone.  The insurance is going to cover 100% nothing.  I broke down for a while after getting off the phone with them and then tried to think of what else to do.

At least my husband's classic car insurance through Hagherty was worth something.  It sounds like they are going to fix my husband's car, which at least we have that going for us.  We had a guy show up and take pictures day before yesterday and they are getting quotes from body shops and things.
Cracks, cracks everywhere.
After finding out that the home owner's insurance was going to cover 100% nothing, I called FEMA, but our Federal government hasn't, in all of their infinite wisdom, declared Alaska a national problem, so I'm worried that's not going to happen either especially how quickly Alaska got on the ball and started to repair roadways and things to get the state back up and working again (nothing shuts this state down and after this quake it really showed how much Alaska could get done when the brakes were taken off).  Governor Walker, on his way out the door (literally, we were right in the middle of transitions for our state government this week), declared a state of emergency for the state and the old and new guys in office came up with a disaster relief grant program you can apply for.  It went live at 8 am on Wednesday, I believe, and I was awake at 6 am and called when the thing went live at eight (and then called, and called and called again that day until I got a person instead of an answering machine) and applied for the disaster relief.  The grant you can get is limited in what they cover, but I'm praying they might pay to at least replace the chimney and maybe the man door to our garage (which we use as the main door in and out of the house) as you have to basically kick the door in to get it to open now and there are gaps in the door frame and a few other necessary repairs that we're not sure how in the Heck we are going to pay for.

We told them about the hot water heater as it kept going out for no reason after the earthquake and wasn't cycling right.  You had to actually drain the tank to get it to refill and fire.  It finally just out and out quit night before last.  So we went and bought a new hot water heater on the house account and my husband installed it yesterday.  I have to say it was nice being able to take a shower for the first time since the earthquake (I had been running lukewarm baths for the kids instead of worrying about showers and using up what little hot water we'd have for the day doing that).

My mom called and told us she'd bought us a toilet and we could pick it up at Home Depot.  I cried when she told me that.  As gifts go that was one of the most heartfelt gifts I'd ever received.  My best friend bought me a new canner.  That also brought tears.  Blog readers paypal donations came in with different messages of encouragement...more tears.  Thank you, everyone.  I can't say that enough.

I finally got courageous enough to go and check the outbuildings yesterday.  I found a miracle while there.  We had foam insulation left over from building the chicken coop and my husband had put it in the shed so it was protected from the wind.  I don't know how that foam insulation fell in such a way to protect the lawn mower, but it did.  I was so grateful when I found that as there was NO way we could have afforded to replace the lawn mower (seen up top).

The 40 ft van was bad, but not as bad as I'd fear it would be.  Some of my family heirlooms might have survived from the look of it, but it's going to be a while before I can get back into the van to fully check the damage as it's going to take a lot of work to get through all of that.

The other two outbuildings, though, are gone.  The shed actually sank/shifted and bulged it's sides out and the barn cracked the main roof supports in the quake.  We're just going to worry about demolishing them later.  That's all we can really do at this point.  

On top of everything else, Mother Nature decided to have a version of, "Hold my beer" when it came to Alaska.  Friday we had the quake.  Saturday we got 60 mph gusts of wind.  Temperature went up to unseasonably warm weather which melted snow, quickly tanked the temperatures to create wonderful amounts of ice and then dumped about 8 inches of snow on us.  All in a couple of days.  So, I'd like to apologize to any neighbors who might read this and ended up in possession of pieces of our gutters as I didn't have the opportunity to clean them up before they blew away.

Cleaning has been slow and hard.  Having a sick son and me being sick on top of it just didn't help me out much, never mind the aftershocks and things.  But, I'm getting there.  

The mice in the pantry ended up being a blessing in disguise as I didn't have much food to lose compared to how it would have been.  I did end up losing a bunch more jars and food, but due to the shelves being away from the walls and all of the jars being stored with their rings on and in boxes with high sides...I didn't lose too much there, which was a miracle.  

It took me days to get the kitchen in enough order to actually cook in it again and I'm still cleaning and working on it.  We ate out a LOT this last week, which we just put on credit card and will deal with later as we really didn't have much of a choice.  Poor Alvah has been freaking out in his own way since the quake and one of the main things he desperately wanted was to do was get McDonald's french fries for every meal once his stomach let him keep them down.  I think it's because McDonald's is familiar and comforting to him.  

Both of the kid's schools are still closed and will hopefully open at the end of this coming week.  The head of education for the state came out and said that the kids will not have to make up the school that was lost due to the quake, so we'll see how it effects second quarter grades once the kids get back to school.  In a way I am dreading the kids going back to school as I don't know if I'm ever going to be okay with letting them out of my sight for the rest of my natural life, but I also realize how important it is for the kids to get their lives back to normal as much as possible during this entire mess.  

I've had a couple of people e-mail me and ask me if I had a wish list on Amazon yet on items we still needed so they could help out in small ways.  I just wanted to say I'm working on it.  I'm compiling lists as I go along and will put one on Amazon when I can.  Honestly I think that's going to be the best way for ME to keep track of everything that I need to replace.  I lost a lot of spices and herbs and such. Bright side is that my everyday plates and bowls (well some of them anyway) were in the dishwasher when the quake hit, so I have plates that are a bit chipped and things, but usable.  

As things go that life can throw at you, this one is financially devastating on a level I hoped to never have to deal with.  So much for paying off bills and getting ahead *deep sigh*.  I'm just grateful as it could have been so much worse as there are others up here who are.  We have a bunch of homes in Jewel Lake that are being condemned due to earthquake damage, people lost their homes to fire and aren't covered because the fire was due to the earthquake, etc.  

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Earthquake November 2018


Note:  This post was started to be written yesterday (Saturday), but I didn't finish it until today (Sunday) due to me wrenching something in my back during the earthquake which resulted in a TERRIBLE headache all day yesterday and then my son was vomiting all day, so yeah...I was pretty busy and miserable.  The fun never ends.

Yesterday (November 30, 2018) started out not a whole lot of fun.  I got Armina to school like normal but the son woke up with lower stomach issues, so I called him in sick to school.  He seemed like he was starting to feel better and my husband and I started talking about maybe taking him shopping later in the day with us as it was our normal shopping day.

And then, in a heartbeat, everything changed.

The earthquake didn't come in like a normal earthquake tremor.  It didn't start out as a gentle shake.  No, it hit the house like a jackhammer and it just got worse.  Honestly, I can only equate the whole experience to what it must be like to be inside a jack hammer while it is running.  The husband got to the son's room before I did, grabbed Alvah and held him in a death grip in the doorway.  I was able to see that much as I rushed down toward them before all the lights went out.  I got the crap beat out of me as things flew off the walls, doors popped open and things fell out at me, but after a few whollops I got to the doorway and we just held onto each other and held onto that doorway for all we were worth.  

I have never been that scared in my entire life.  The force of the hammering the house took was awful.  My husband and I didn't say it out loud but we were worried the house was going to go if it kept up much longer as the force of the quake was just that severe, but we also knew there was no where you could run to get away from it.  I mean all of the land in every direction was moving.  All you could do was ride it out.  And pray.  Boy did I do that.

That was the longest moments of my life.  We waited out the initial quake and then were trying to figure out how to get down the hallway and find some type of light source when the aftershock hit which was nearly as bad as the initial quake.  Once it was over we quickly formulated a plan on getting some clothes for Alvah (since he'd just about gotten up when everything happened) finding coats and things and trying to get to the school to see if Armina was alright after my husband ran outside fast and made sure the gas line was still secure and not leaking.  I called the school about 18 times as I rushed to find clothes for Alvah, but all you got was a busy signal.  Everything was just chaos.  All I can say through this entire event was thank GOD for the invention of the cell phone and also for the fact that we never got rid of a real land line with a corded phone, because those things were so important yesterday.  

I was frantic to get to the school and see if it was still standing and if my baby was alright as tsunami warnings for anyone near rivers or water to get to high ground lit up our cell phones and we fielded calls from family.  It just seemed like it was impossible to get out of the house quickly, which was driving my husband's and my anxiety up to new levels.   Things were just everywhere.  Anything that used to be off the floor was now on it, or so it appeared and there was broken glass pretty much everywhere.

Sorry for the crappy quality of the photos.  My phone didn't like the dim light and then the new "app" version of Photoscape is vexing me on trying to figure out how to convert things properly.  I managed to, in the dim light, fight the laundry room door open, hoping to get clothes from the dryer for Alvah as my bedroom was a huge pile of...everything...and just saw stuff.  It was awful.  We had standing water all over the floor about an inch deep (the hot water heater had sprung a leak in the earthquake and shot water everywhere) and the freezer had flown open and dumped food everywhere.  Luckily, it seemed, all of the meat that hit the water was still sealed so I was able to shove it all back into the freezer and shut the door somehow.

I then realized that water was leaking from somewhere upstairs and later found a bunch of standing water in the kid's bathroom and realized that their toilet tank was gone.  We drained the toilet tank as best we could and will have to get a new one on Monday somewhere if we can.  For now we're using a five gallon bucket of water from the tub to flush the toilet.

Then my daughter's boyfriend's father called and said he was at the school, Armina was safe and would I like me to have him take her home.  That man is getting one Heck of a Christmas gift somehow, that much I can tell you, as that moment of pure relief was only compared when Armina launched herself out of the truck and into my arms.  Her winter coat and all of her school stuff is still at school as they quickly evacuated the school and just handed out blankets and sweatshirts and things to the kids to keep them warm until they could be picked up.  We've since gotten an e-mail stating the school is out till at least Wednesday and an e-mail from her orchestra teacher saying all the instruments are okay, so that was a relief for her to hear.  All the schools in the borough, the superintendent said in an e-mail, put their earthquake protocols into effect efficiently and with great speed, all of the kids did stellar and only minor injuries were reported.  That was a good thing to read.

Once Armina was home we all piled into the truck and got warm while we waited for daylight so we could go in and survey the damage better. It is so dark so late here right now, that we realized that there was really not a whole lot we could do in the house for a little bit, so we came up with a game plan of sorts.

We piled into the truck to see if the highway was open so my husband could go into work as he learned the airport was shut down and they were asking anyone who could make it in to do so as they needed everyone they could get.  We drove down to the round about down our road only to see flashing lights all over the intersection to get onto the way to the highway, so my husband turned around and headed back to the house to see if he could get some info on how everything was shaking out on his emergency radio.  While he drove my husband started by calling his brother to see how they were as I'd already exchanged texts and things from my mother-in-law and found out they were safe.  While talking to his brother my husband found out that there was collapses on the highway, bridges were out and other stuff that was going on.  When my husband realized that they had the highway shut down going into Anchorage, he gave up on going into work (since the only way into Anchorage is the highway) and we went back to the house.  It was then we finally started to really LOOK at the damage.
The chimney, my husband quickly saw when we were pulling into the driveway and had some light to see, was missing brick and was possibly separated from the house.  On closer inspection it definitely was, so he went and shut off the gas to the furnace.

The power came on for a little bit and we felt a lot of relief as it is a lot easier to see what you are doing with lights on and we could run the electric heat since the furnace is out of commission until a big question mark.  And then the power went out again.
We were without power most of the day after that.. Thank God it was decently warm out for this time of year.  I cleaned up the remains of our life in objects as best I could, trying to dig out our supply of emergency water (everything on the shelves by the door in the pantry was on the floor, we had a bottle of teriyaki sauce break all over the hallway, I just found our emergency supplies by the hot water heater at nearly the end of the day yesterday as cleaning up the laundry room and pantry took hours.

With the sunlight we could get coming in the windows we did the best we could with a broom, a dust pan and our bare hands (goodness knows where work gloves were in the garage...everything fell, lighter fluid broke open and other things) while my husband scrambled to get out and find parts to hook up our generator to the house, in case we didn't get power on for a few days (as our electric company was scrambling to get 20 substations back online and repair as much damage as they could) and get some groceries.  He found a store open and got what milk he could, got some eggs and got the things on our shopping list the store had since we knew we could at least run a generator to keep the fridge going.  We didn't realize at the time that a lot of local stores got hit hard and are going to be shut down for quite a while possibly.  Target is closed due to water pipes that broke and possible other damage, Wal-Mart was closed for gas leaks (not sure if they are open now or not, honestly), a part of Carrs roof in Wasilla completely caved in...it was a whole lot of not good.  A section of Vine road in Wasilla just fell in, some roads have parts that just kind of disappeared.  

We even have a small fissure along the side of our road, but I'm hoping it's just the snow pack that broke.

I sent the family on a mission to find the cats.  My husband quickly found Prince when he shut off the gas to the furnace as Prince jammed himself behind the furnace and wasn't moving for anything, but I was worried about Belkar as well...she's kind of stupid and I was worried she got under one of the 18 bazillion piles of things that fell and had gotten killed as I was expecting her to be meowing up a storm and all was deathly silent.  My husband found her jammed into a small ball under our bed, safe and sound, thank goodness, so after that I just concentrated on one pile of broken things at a time.

Most of the photos shown were taken after I'd actually cleaned up a lot and the husband reminded me to take pictures for the insurance company (oops on not taking them ahead of time).  We lost a lot of stuff.  My husband has tools that flew out of drawers, off of shelves and anywhere they could and hit the classic car he's had since he was 16.  It's got some pretty substantial damage to it.  A lot of the tools that hit said car, broke in the process.

My kitchen was one big pile of broken glass.  I lost vintage Corelle, Pyrex and milk glass pieces I'd been collecting forever, regular dishes, every single serving platter I have, you name it.  The microwave and everything on, or in, the sideboard flew and landed on the floor.  The microwave is KIND of working, but I'm not sure why it's under-powered like it is (or so it seems to me).  All I use it for anymore is really defrosting meat and popping popcorn for the son, so if it dies I'll figure out an alternative. 

In all of this, one thing kept coming out of my mouth, "Thank GOD I collect Tupperware!"  That stuff saved my flour and sugar containers from being lost and even kept their lids on, those dishes flew out of the cabinets and bounced.  The only thing that even popped it's lid was the container of popcorn on the sidebar and that's because (I'm relatively certain) it had the silverware and microwave bouncing off of it.  Something hit my brand new Misto bottle I had just gotten in from Amazon and actually darn near punched a hole through it, but the old Misto bottle was still on the counter and so I just switched out the parts.  My new laptop somehow managed to stay on my desk and nothing heavy flew on top of it, so I'm typing on that right now.  I'd just gotten it in the mail Thursday night, so I'm glad that it survived long enough for me to at least fire it up and start to figure out how it works.

NOTE:  The following is written on Sunday, after getting some sleep, a couple cups of coffee, having a son that's not throwing up and feeling less like my head is going to explode.

The biggest worry for me when we were without power and we were being warned that MEA (our electric company) might not have power restored for a couple of days (thank GOD for smart phones and being able to pull up their Facebook page to get updates on my phone), was food spoiling.  Our generator is a nice big one, but electric heat takes a lot of power to run, so we knew we could at least heat necessary spaces to keep the pipes from freezing, get the well running so we'd have water and stuff, but my husband was worried he wasn't going to be able to run the freezers while doing that.  We figured we could try and stagger what we were running, but weren't sure how well it would work.  Normally I would have considered canning as much as I could, and thank goodness a lot of my empty mason jars survived (I hope...I haven't opened the box yet, but it seemed the box itself made it through the earthquake without getting crushed by anything).  But I am not going to be canning much anytime soon.  Dang, I'm tearing up as I type this.  My wonderful Presto pressure canner...old reliable, that I have had for about as many years as I've had children, didn't make it.  I'm not sure what fell on it, or how far it flew and whacked off of something, but it's now more egg shaped than circular, the top was broken...it's just gone.  Armina's TV is broken beyond repair and we're not sure about how well her DVD and VCR work because...well...her TV is broken and transferring things to another room to check on the status of those items has to wait until we can get to and from those places easily again.  The new TV in my bedroom fell over, but not off the shelf it was on, so it survived and the other two TV's...the wall mounts did their job and did them well and they rode things out okay.

I'm not sure about the state of Christmas gifts at this point.  My closet is one big cube of stuff when you manage to get the door open enough to see, so I'm not sure what might have fallen and broken stuff in the process.  The gifts under the tree...some heavier things fell into them from the wooden ledge above, so I have to check those out, but tying up the tree because it leaned all the time actually saved the tree from going over.  The star fell over, but the tree seems to have survived the onslaught and somehow came out straighter after the fact we think.  I've still got to try and see if the son's closet will work on it's track still as it's kind of sitting not right and his door is definitely not closing and out of whack.  The man doors on the garage are nearly impossible to open now and we have a hole in the door frame where wood cracked and popped, but at least it's a small one.  What was left of the gutters popped so many nails that I'm worried about solid chunks of ice filled gutter are going to come down on us at any moment so I'm rushing the kids out of danger every time we go outside.  We might have to tear down the barn.  There's cracks where there aren't supposed to be and the roof is dipping in the middle where it shouldn't, but the husband hasn't had a chance to go down and really do a complete survey of the damage to see how bad it truly is.  We haven't even cracked open the shed or the 40' storage van to see about the damage, but I'm honestly figuring all the stuff in the 40' van is probably gone at this point.  There is NO way the shelves didn't collapse in that type of a quake.  I have family heirlooms in there we didn't have room for in the house and I'm already bracing myself to accept that things like the dollhouse my grandfather made for me when I was a little girl, and was hoping to pass onto my kids, is probably gone.

The retaining wall along our driveway is just gone and needs to be completely redone.  I'm hoping our well casing came through okay because our wishing well protector thing really jammed into the well when everything hit.

This is rough guys.  Really rough.  I'm so overwhelmed I went past "I can't even" about two days ago.  I'm like a lot of other people up here right now.  I just tackle one pile of stuff at a time and am trying to remember to document things as I find them.  I had gotten organized, thank God, and had put all of my home owners insurance information into a binder in the den and was able to get to that.  The big sewing cabinet with all of my material in it actually popped the doors open on it, but rode the earthquake okay, somehow.  All of the material kind of packed around the glass jars I had in it so they didn't fly out and break....which is a relief as I have a big jar of buttons in there that would have resulted in a much bigger mess in the den and I was able to get to the binders for insurance since they were in that.  I've been carrying around a piece of paper with our insurance companies number on it from that binder ever since.  We have a claim filed with them and will hopefully see an adjuster on Monday (they are closed on the weekend) and my husband filed a claim with his classic car insurance online (they are closed for the weekend for an event...sigh), but at this point I have no idea what they are going to cover and how much we'll be able to fix with what we get.  FEMA money might cover what they don't...I don't know.  I know that right now we're putting everything we need on the one credit card we have (Care Credit switched one of our cards to a Mastercard a few months back) and we'll just deal with it all later.  It's all we can do at this point.

I haven't eaten much of anything in two days and didn't drink enough on Friday in the way of non-sugared beverages, so I'm probably going to have to go to the doctor's on Monday to check for a UTI and make sure my back is okay.  Goodness knows if I can get in with everything that has happened, but I'm probably going to have to try.

We didn't sleep the night before last.  We got so many aftershocks, a lot of them bad enough to wake us from a sound sleep and preparing to launch into the nearest doorway, that sleep just wasn't happening very well.  My husband and I slept on the floor of our bedroom in the one corridor of floor we could find, piled the kids in our bed and luckily with the help of his Clonodine at least Alvah was able to get some sleep before he woke up vomiting yesterday morning (with a broken toilet that was even more not fun than it would have normally been).  Last night was at least better on the aftershock front.  We had a couple of good ones that had me bracing to launch myself to get Alvah and Armina into doorways if needed (I slept on Alvah's floor last night while my husband went to work to try and help get the airport up and running) and Alvah woke up a lot which had me waking up ready with a bowl if necessary, but we got through it a lot better than the previous night.  We're still getting aftershocks and every one that hits just makes your spine stiffen, adrenaline spike and your stomach bottom out as you wait to see what will happen.  It's this part of Alaska's new normal for the time being, I think.

I have gotten e-mails and messages on Facebook asking if there is anything people can do to help.  At this point, guys, the year has officially broken me when it comes to stuff happening.  I'm done.  If you want to help and can, please do (just please do me a favor and don't do the GoFundMe route as I guess that can really screw up your taxes and things and I just plain don't need more to deal with at the moment).  At this point, I am not turning down help if it is offered.  Period.  If you want to ship me something, e-mail me and we'll figure it out.  If you want to donate, I have paypal. The e-mail is

alaskanbargainhunter@gmail.com

Sorry I didn't reply to all of the e-mails and things that have poured in.  It's been insane here.  I'll try to provide more of an update later.  For now, though, I'm out and off to try and get my living room somewhat livable so I can get the kid's lives back to a bit more of a normal status.

Thanks for the e-mails, the concern and the prayers.  Please, keep the prayers coming.  Alaska, and my family, needs them.

Erika

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


I need to come up with like a "Money Saving Monday" (in this case Tuesday) tagline for this post, as it seems since my husband started having Fridays off that I never get to do the Frugal Friday post on Friday *laugh*.

No matter what, though, this post would have been late this last week.  It was so busy and so much stuff was going on with the holiday and everything that I'm just plain exhausted and really don't want to do anything.  Unfortunately, with the kids being home for four days straight, the house is a wreck and there are loads of dishes and laundry to do, so no rest for me.

And no, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you with the above photo.  The tree leans, probably due to the home made tree stand that my husband had to make for said tree and the fact that it was a 5.00 Target clearance tree to begin with  when we bought it years ago *laugh*.  Don't worry...it's secured to the wall behind the tree so it's not too leany...yes in reality it leans a lot worse.  So, I celebrate that it's PRETTY straight overall and won't fall over easy with it being tied to the wall and it being in a pretty hefty tree stand now (Alvah broke the old plastic crappy tree stand thingie years ago).

So, what went on this last week?  Well, the usual holiday stuff, of course.  Since it was Thanksgiving Thursday (for those outside of the US) I had a lot of work to do.  Wednesday I made pies so that I didn't have to worry about them Thursday.  I tried a new recipe for an apple pie cheesecake this year and then made a regular apple pie as well.  I was really disappointed in the apple pie cheesecake, so I am glad I made the regular apple pie as a back up plan. 

Thursday was the holiday, which we had a good dinner and a relaxing evening even with the daughter being a pill Wednesday and Thursday (for no reason that she could even pin down...always nice) and then Friday rolled around and the son woke up choking from all the stuff draining out of his head (stupid cold bug) and got sick to his stomach and that started the weekend of Heck when it came to his mood.  He wouldn't eat or drink much of anything all day long and he'd whine...constantly...from sun up to sun down.  About an hour before bedtime he'd realize he was hungry and thirsty, eat and drink a bunch, get into a happy mood and then crash for the night.  Repeat.  I was never so happy to bring both of the kids back to school yesterday, honestly, just to get them back on a regular schedule and give myself some much needed peace and quiet.

And then there was the nerve wracking and "not cool" addition onto our week.  We had moose move into our yard and not leave.  Five of them.  They were not afraid of humans, not afraid of loud noises and were completely scaring the crud out of us as getting out to the vehicles to get anywhere (or from the vehicles inside) was really, REALLY nerve wracking.  Our yard has become one solid chunk of moose poop the last week and we were pretty much under house arrest unless it was important or really light out (so we could see where the moose were) and even then it was a mad dash into the vehicles and away we went.  The son was NOT happy about not being able to go out and play, and I can't blame him, but safety was definitely the main concern.

The moose were still around last night, but the husband took the Animal Control officer's advice and put off some really loud noise makers at them and they ran off.  So far, hopefully *fingers, toes and eyes crossed* today the moose got the hint and maybe moved on.

Enjoy the really out of focus shot of one of the moose that was eating right outside of my den window.  Turns out the lens on my camera was dirty and I didn't realize it until I went to edit the shot of the moose.  And I haven't been able to get another good shot of the moose since I found that out because they mostly come out at night.  Mostly (yeahhh "Aliens" reference!  I knew I could fit one in at some point ;).

Despite all of that, though, stuff did get done (amazing as it sounds), so let's get to that.

1.  We went to my daughter's big combined holiday concert (which was kind of disappointing  as there was not much Christmas themed music at all) and got to enjoy the music put on by the middle school band, orchestra and choir.  I am impressed with how well the sixth graders are doing in the music program and was really proud of how well the daughter did, even though she wasn't happy about it (yeah, the bad mood started early in the week with her and just got worse until Thanksgiving was over).  It was free (of course :) and the people sitting next to us even abandoned their program so we were able to score a copy (they didn't print enough for everyone to have one).

2.  My sisters were really generous and sent us a really nice gift card for Amazon this year for Christmas.  I still feel kind of guilty about it, but I used a LOT of the gift card they sent to buy myself a new laptop.  I had added the laptop I wanted to get to my cart and "saved it for later" because we were going to put some small things the husband said he wanted onto the order.  Then checking my cart on my twice daily habit (I always check my cart on Amazon twice a day to see if anything bottoms out in price that I'm saving for later) I found that the laptop had fallen nearly 70.00 in price a few days later (turns out it was a part of Amazon's "Black Friday Week" deals).  I quickly got the items my husband wanted to get added to the order and placed the order for the computer.  By waiting I was not only able to save myself 70.00 on the computer, but the 70.00 more than covered what my husband had wanted to order with the computer, so double score!  I was even able to replace some of the movies the son had managed to damage in DVD format and buy them in digital format instead with some of the money saved as well.  It was definitely a welcome savings to be sure and now I don't have to worry about the son chewing on those DVD's anymore because he can just stream the movies on a tablet.

I have to say I'm overly excited about getting a new computer.  I hope it works well.  My laptop is over ten years old now and well...no matter what I do on it, it isn't happy about it.  I can't even load a wallpaper onto my desktop without the computer throwing a fit about it, so yeah...I pray the new computer isn't a lemon and works well for as many years as this one did.

3.  Other than getting some milk, eggs and a few small things that I sent my husband to the store to get on Wednesday morning on his way home from work, we didn't get anything in the way of groceries last week.  I'm definitely a "stay away from the stores around a major holiday if at all possible" type of person.

4.  My daughter and I sat down and talked about Christmas gifts and budgeting out money for them.  We are trying to help my daughter get caught up with math a bit and she's having problems grasping decimals, so I figured money was a great motivator when it came to learning these things.  So far, I can't say she's doing great at figuring out decimals, but she's definitely grasping the concepts of budgeting, figuring out gifts people can use and want, and managing to get nice gifts on the cheap.  With her permission I'll be sharing some of her gift giving on the blog as part of the "Frugal Christmas" series I'm planning this year (since I'm not REALLY making all of the gifts this year, I'm going to change up the series a bit and show, not only the gifts that I make and such, but also the gifts that will be being put under the tree that might not cost much, but will still be nice gifts...hard to explain, but stay tuned...it'll make sense in a few days when the series starts, promise :).

5.  We pulled out the wrapping paper we've had for years and the daughter wrapped her presents that she has done and put them under the tree (she's really going gang busters and totally beating us all *laugh*).  I bought the wrapping paper on Target clearance YEARS ago for 90% off and it has served us well for many years since.

6.  Which of course leads us to the fact that we put up our Christmas tree last week.  I haven't put up all of the kid's artwork that I've collected throughout the years yet (the son's mood was so bad I didn't want to overwhelm him) and am hoping to do that today, but at least the tree got put up. 

This year I was smart for a change.  I went into the storage van a few weeks ago when the weather was cold, but clear and manageable and we had a lot more light during the day then we do now (the light really starts to drop off bad about this time and get worse through December) and pulled out all of the Christmas decorations and put them in the house.  I was doubly proud of myself when the moose showed up as I can't IMAGINE how in the Heck I would have managed to get the decorations with them in the yard.  So, yay for thinking in advance!

7.  I rearranged the den and the living room to accommodate both the Christmas tree and to give me a place to set up my sewing table so I can get some Christmas gifts made.  I managed (with help from my husband) to get the boxes of videos that were stacked up in the living room downstairs into a corner of my den, so the living room looks a lot better now.

8.  After we were done eating Thanksgiving dinner I took the meat off the turkey and immediately threw the carcass into the crock pot with the drippings that were left over and some water.  I let it cook on low all night long (I did get up at 2 am with the son and added more water to the crock pot t keep it topped off).  I then turned it off in the morning, let it cool down so it would be cool enough to handle the meat, stripped what meat I could off the carcass and froze the stock in some freezer bags.  It turned out really well and it saved me from trying to find room in my freezer for a turkey carcass :).

9.  I helped to repair the handle on my husband's work bag (yay for leather needles!).  He's kind of hard on the work bags as he hauls tools back and forth to work and he's torn out a good number of bags doing it (he buys what he can find at the used store in the way of a duffle bag and just uses them till he destroys them) and the handle had separated around the "d ring" at the base.  The husband had tried to repair it as well as he could (I was busy trying to handle the son at the time) and then I took over and really reinforced what he'd done with more (hopefully anyway) sewing know how.  Hopefully the repairs will last a while as other than the handles kind of falling apart the way they did (for some reason they were barely sewn onto the bag, but had a ton of adhesive put onto them to hold them together...sewing them was sticky work and I had to clean my needle afterwards) the bag seems to be decently hefty.  Here's hoping!

10.  I used our "Shop Your Way" points as soon as they came in this month since Sears is doing so poorly we don't know how long it will be before our Sears shuts down.  I ended up stealing the point this month to get myself some socks as the son has discovered he and I are in the same size of socks right now and he constantly steals my socks...well then his eczema on the bottom of his feet itch and he runs the socks all over the carpet to itch his feet.  Result?  I have holes in pretty much all of my socks now.  So, I got myself 12 pairs of socks and a pair of ankle boots that were on super sale (which I felt guilty for buying them until my husband gave me a lecture about how I never buy myself things and if I was planning on wearing them to buy them).  I love the new socks and the boots, I have to say and we only ended up spending about 10.00 out of pocket after the points were applied.  It's nice being able to wear a bit dressier shoes than sneakers and having socks that are warm and not holey :).  I've been hiding the new socks from the son (sorry Alvah) and letting him have some of my socks that are still in one piece, but I don't worry if he wrecks them to do with as he will in my sock drawer.

And yeah, I have a ton to do yet today, so I'm going to call it good there and get to work.  How about you?  Have a good week?

Friday, November 16, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


Whoever said, "Time flies when you are having fun" had no idea, I think how time flies when you are just busy and trying to do ten different things at one time.  Ugh!

Bright side, despite having sick kids all the while my husband and myself have been fighting this evil bug as well, I still managed to get some stuff done, thank goodness.  Thanksgiving shopping got done, a free turkey was had (with two weeks worth of shopping getting done at one time with the husband's pay schedule on top of Thanksgiving needs...we definitely qualified for the free turkey when it was all said and done), a freezer got reorganized, TEFRA paperwork got done and submitted (and now we wait for interviews and just generally wait for everything to go through) and plans were made for the weekly menu and tentative gifts were written down for me to make for the family.  I'm definitely tired, but feeling like something got accomplished anyway.

As for the money saving things that happened this week, let's get to that shall we?

1.  My husband and I stopped by Fred Meyer when shopping to check out beef roast sales (we have like no beef, other than hamburger, in the freezer at the moment) and while there we got the free thing of potatoes I had loaded onto my card from Freebie Friday.  In other news, since we went on Friday, I completely SPACED loading the McCormick's Grill Mates freebie onto my card and am still a bit upset with myself about that.  Blah!  At least I got the preferred mashed potatoes for the daughter for Thanksgiving anyway.  And for free.  Always a nice price point :).

2.  I think I skipped through Carrs this week when I discovered their sales as it was great stocking up prices for things.  I got Stove Top stuffing for 1.66 a box, Libby's green beans for .69 per can (max of 4 on the coupon, but still...woohoo!), cheap Coke (stocked up for the son for the next little bit) and I even bought some frozen pies (both pumpkin and apple) for 2.50 each as part of 5.00 Friday.  I couldn't pass pies up at that price...I mean I can't even GET pie filling that cheap, let alone an entire pie =D.  These won't be used for Thanksgiving, but instead put aside to eat as a quick dessert throughout the coming months when we want something easy.  I even got a value pack of chicken for .79 lb as they were having a manager special on it and I couldn't say no at that price.  The way the freezer sits at the moment we have pork and chicken with a FEW things of beef and fish to scatter throughout the masses of pork and chicken.  I'd like to be better stocked up on other meats than chicken and pork, but you can't complain when you can get cheap meat, no matter what it is.

3.  My husband and I went to Michaels for the first time this week to get some t-shirt transfers as my husband wants to help me make him some t-shirts for Christmas that he'll make the designs for.  I also bought some cheap t-shirts while there as they were on sale for 3.00 each to use the transfers on.  I used a couple of coupons that Michaels had given me, loaded onto my phone, and was able to get things for much cheaper.  As soon as I realized Michaels was going to be coming to the Valley, I immediately went and signed up online for their rewards program and things so I could get the coupons *laugh*.

4.  While at Michaels I saw three packs of Scotch Tape, but nowhere the scotch tape was could you find any type of shelf tag or price point.  So we took one of the three packs to the register and got a price check on it.  The stuff rang up at 6.00 and some change!!!  I said, "no" to that one and told the husband I'd get the tape elsewhere.  And loe and behold while shopping I was able to get 3 packs of store generic tape for 2.50 each...a LOT cheaper than the brand name stuff at Michaels!

5.  I went through what food I had left after the mice got through with everything (that's still so depressing) and managed to find a few things to donate to the food bank this year.  It won't be much, some Jello and a few freebie items I got from Fred Meyer and Carrs throughout the year, but I figure something is better than nothing.

6.  I started my list of gifts for the family.  I AM planning on doing the "Gift a Day" series again this year...it's just going to be later than I was hoping it would be.  So, yeah, watch out for that coming to the blog in the near (HOPEFULLY) future :).

7.  The husband has been helping me to clean out the garage and while he was cleaning he started pouring the tiny bits of oil that were left in different containers of oil into one container.  When I asked him about it (since it's not all the same type of automotive oil that he's saving) and what he would use it for he said the oil could easily be used to lubricate things that needed it, so he didn't want to waste it.  He's managed to recover about a quart of oil to use for that purpose out of all of the containers he had little amounts of oil left in.

8.  Confession time.  I raided the kid's Halloween candy we bought and grabbed some things of like mini-Sweet Tarts and things to use as decorations for gingerbread houses for Christmas.  It'll save me money and will work just fine and really I don't think the kids even miss the candy.

9.  Spent time this week working on getting the rest of the things that were stacked in the corner of my den that USED to be in the pantry and put those things back in the pantry as much as I could and still afford the cats an unobstructed access to the pantry.  I had to stack a few things in the laundry room, but I'm pretty much there, so I was happy with that.  Especially since I have to find room to set up the Christmas tree this week in the den, somewhere.

10.  I'd like to have a moment of silence for the loss of an old reliable friend this week.  My Columbia winter coat, that has served me loyally and well for many, many years (I got the coat as a Christmas gift from my mom in 6th grade) finally died this week.  The zipper completely split on me and there was no saving it.  My daughter tried to convince me to replace the zipper, but I showed her where the material on the actual coat was starting to disintegrate and I decided it was time to say goodbye. 

We went around to the used stores and I finally found a winter coat that I liked.  It was nice and heavy.  Not the material I would have chosen (it's got that faux suede feel to it that I know will get dirty and stay dirty), but it was nice and heavy and seemed like it would be suitably warm.  I paid 12.00 for it and got out to the car with it.  It was then my husband asked if I could wash it and I was kind of flippant saying, "I'm sure it'll be fine...".  Yeah, and then I found the care instructions and realized the coat is a 100% down coat.  So, no washing for the new coat. 

Anyone got advice on how to care for a down coat?  I've never had one before as those suckers are normally REALLY expensive and I honestly never thought I'd own one.  I'm figuring loads of Scotch Guard and waterproofing spray and yeah..past that I'm thinking I could get a dry cleaning kit and just refresh it in the dryer?  Anyone got any guidance on this one? 

And there you are folks.  My week in a nutshell.  How about you?  How did your week go?

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Shopping Goals: November 2018


Okay, so the month is nearly half over before I could get around to this.  With the family being so sick since before November started and such, I'm definitely cutting myself a break for the reduced blogging schedule of late.  HOPEFULLY things start to get better, quiet down and improve around here.  It'd be wonderful.

When it comes to shopping goals, my shopping list has gotten longer and longer as the month as gone on.  Not ideal as the next paycheck the mortgage comes out of and I also am going to have to pick up the rest of the needs for Thanksgiving out of that paycheck as well (we get paid this week).  Unforeseen expenses have popped up (per usual, it seems) so money is going to be tight until further notice, so I'm going to be working on getting things checked off the list for as cheap as I can get it.

So far I already have a turkey in the freezer for Thanksgiving, cranberries and a couple of other small items, but still need to get a decent amount of stuff.  Thankful I have the turkey done already, though :).

So, here we go.  This month's shopping goals.

Regular Stores:

  • Seedless navel oranges (2)
  • Potatoes
  • Herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme)
  • Frozen green beans
  • Dried cranberries
  • Instant mashed potatoes (I have a free Idohoan pouch waiting at Fred Meyer from Freebie Friday, so I wan to go and get that...the daughter doesn't like home made mashed potatoes).
  • Cream Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • American Cheese
  • Ketchup
  • Garlic
  • Onion Powder (used up the rest of mine)
  • Cheyenne pepper (once again, completely out)
  • Ice melt (we got like 1/2 an inch of freezing rain Sunday, so I used up the rest of our rock salt on the driveway)
  • Scotch Tape (for wrapping presents and putting them under the tree when I set it up later in the month...the tape has "mysteriously" disappeared and I'm pretty certain my daughter was involved with all of the craft things and such that suddenly popped up around her room)
  • Christmas sprinkles (I'm going to need to make a double batch of sugar cookies this year as both kids have decided they like sugar cookies now on top of my husband)


Wanted, but not needed items:

  • Additional turkey for freezer (turkeys are just so cheap this time of year that I would like to get another turkey to cut up and put into the freezer for use later or something)
  • Additional cranberries for freezer (I like to keep them around for canning cranberry sauce, to make cranberry orange bread and other uses...I'm a cranberry fan :)
  • Beef Roast (for Christmas dinner...waiting for a super sale on that.  If we don't get a really good sale on them I'll just try to figure out what the family might like instead)


And there you go folks.  My shopping goals for the month.  How about you?  What do you need to get this month?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap


Well, this is really, really late following the other post that was really, really late.  Good reasons for it though, so read on!

First up, be prepared as the recap of the past couple of weeks is probably going to be a lot longer than the actual frugal recap part of this post.  Why?  Well, reason number one is we've been sick for the last two weeks, nearly straight, so I don't have a ton to report.  It's like we couldn't kick the cold we've all been suffering from.  We'd feel good for a few days and then wham the cold symptoms would come back.  Alvah woke up Wednesday this week with a TERRIBLE cough and suffering so badly that I took him to the doctor just to make sure his lungs were clear.  Honestly I was half expecting antibiotics would be needed.  No, we learned something that was actually a bit more depressing than finding out your kid needs to be on antibiotics. 

Turns out that there's a new virus running around.  Our pediatrician, when the first wave of sick kids came in with cold symptoms that had lasted more than three weeks, got worried and ran a bunch of kids in for a barrage of tests to try and figure out what was going on.  The test results came back the same on all of the kids.  They had an adrenal based virus and everything else came back clear.  So, what is the fun that comes with this lovely virus?  Well, how about cold symptoms that don't go away.  For two to three MONTHS! 

So, we're thrilled as can be with the news.  Really.  Sigh.

I just wanted to pass the news along to everyone, though, because if this is running around up here that means that if it's not in your area it's heading your way. 

So, yeah, we've spent a lot of time the last couple of weeks with the son home sick from school feeling miserable on the bad days and then when he was in school (or even when he was home) I have been super duper busy with tons of stuff to do (all the while TRYING to fight off this thing).  I've had tons of paperwork to do for the school and for TEFRA renewals (tis the season) and stuff, so trying to do that while feeling kind of yucky has been a challenge.

Whenever I've had a second I've spent it in the garage trying to get it cleaned out so we can put vehicles in it instead of it just being full of stuff.  I've made decent progress and was hoping the husband could help me with some of the stuff I'm not sure what to do with, but he's been fighting the cold/virus the last couple of days so not a whole lot has gotten done on that front (he's trying though).  It's frustrating as it seems like we just can't get things done without something getting in the way anymore.  I still need to get winter tires put on my truck and haven't had a chance to do that either.  Ugh.

Oh and by the way we DID finally see a snow plow.  The day after election results were final and we got a new governor in office suddenly a plow went down the highway in front of my house plowing mainly bare pavement by that point and today, after the warmer weather today had finally started putting some holes in the ice skating rink that my road had quickly become we had more plows go down our road than I saw on our road all last winter.  It was ridiculous.  They not only tried to plow us in with a ice wall (I swore they were trying to build the Great Wall of China out of ice they went up and down the road so many times) at the end of our driveway but then they'd go down the road, spread salt and sand, and then go down 20 minutes later and PLOW THE SALT AND SAND UP!  I've spent a good portion of my day staring flabbergasted out my living room window.

Which leads us into our list for frugal things that happened the last couple of weeks!

1.  We did the ultimate free thing that makes a difference in your life and the life of others.  We voted.  I stayed up way too late that night waiting for our polls to close and votes to be tallied to make sure the state wasn't going to continue down it's current path or worse.  Hopefully things will improve up here now under the new leadership.  I can pray.

2.  When cleaning the garage I realized that the small window we had was going to be uncovered when I got everything out from in front of it.  I didn't want to leave the window uncovered (crime up here is really bad due to a really BAD law called SB91..see above about new leadership being desperately needed) so I went into my fabric stores, found some thicker fabric and took some thumb tacks to make a make shift curtain for the time being.  I'm hoping to make a small curtain rod out of something and put up a bit better curtain in the future, but for now the curtain looks pretty good (I'll try to take a picture for next week's post :).

3.  I made sure to purchase things on sale when we went shopping last week and was happy with how little was spent when it was all said and done.  The guy who was in line behind my husband and I even congratulated me on how much money I saved.  I actually found it kind of funny as that hadn't happened to me since my super couponing days *laugh*.

4.  We made a big batch of Halloween sugar cookies, which the kids had a lot of fun decorating the cookies (and also eating the cookies *laugh*).  The kids are finally old enough and the son loves the cookies so much I'm thinking that I'm going to have to make a double batch of Christmas cookies this year :).  I can't believe how thrilled I am that my son will actually EAT home made cookies...sure only sugar cookies at this point, but I'll take it!!!!

5.  Instead of buying chocolates for Halloween (which is REALLY expensive if you go for peanut safe chocolates), I instead melted some chocolate chips (I buy some at the store that are safe for the peanut allergy) in a make shift double boiler (I use my 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup as it fits over one of my pans perfectly and just melt the chocolate in that while it sits over the simmering water in the pan) and poured the melted chocolate into Halloween chocolate molds I already had.  The kids have enjoyed them and it saved me a TON of money making the chocolates myself.

6.  I took down the Halloween decorations and while I was at it I went and kept up the ones that would work for Thanksgiving.

7.  I, while cleaning the garage, had to put stuff out in storage, so I cleaned up the massive collapse we had in the storage van.  All it took was my time to get it done and I felt good about it as the Christmas decorations and tree were stuck behind the cave in, so it will definitely save me time later getting it done when I did (and while it was actually somewhat light out, so I could see better too).

8.  I added water to a bottle of shampoo and a bottle of hand soap to make the bottles last a little bit longer.

9.  I took a small amount of credit (it was less than 2.00) I had with Amazon and bought my daughter a Christmas gift with it, as I found a seller that sold a piece of jewelry I had been wanting to buy for her with free shipping (even to Alaska) for super duper cheap compared to other sellers AND they had a good reputation on Amazon with thousands of reviews so I figured they were safe to order from.  I quickly found out why the gift was so cheap through them.  Turns out that the gift got shipped out from China (wasn't overly thrilled at that, but by the time I realized that it was shipping from China it was too late to cancel the order or anything).  The item was so cheap to purchase and was taking so long to get here that I figured that it might not come at all.  The item took over two months to get here, but it did INDEED get here last week.  Took me by surprise when it came.  I'd actually forgotten I ordered it by the time it came in (oops).  So, yay for one Christmas gift being out of the way for super cheap (I'd say what I got her, but she reads over my shoulder from time to time so I don't want to wreck the surprise *laugh*).

And yeah, I'm calling it good there as I am really running down here, the son crashed early (best possible thing to help him build up some type of resistance to this thing) and before the sinus headache comes back I'm going to bed.  How did your last couple of weeks go?  Well, I hope?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Frugal Friday (Times 2): Money Saving Weekly Recap


Wow!  It's been a roller coaster of stuff going on around here!  I keep praying that the Good Lord will be nice enough to bless us with just some nice smooth sailing for a bit where we can all just catch our breath, get things done, and be healthy, but so far it's not come to pass.

First there was the daughter and school.  Ugh.  It's been insane the last two weeks.  First, I pick up Armina from school Friday before last super upset as the counselor had asked her to come down to her office and she found out that she had to go into a more basic math class than the one she's in now.  As a result of this her entire schedule was going to be changed pretty much and Armina freaked.  With an autistic brother who is his own version of walking chaos, my daughter is one who craves structure and stability.  When things happen to mess up her little universe bubble...she doesn't take it well.  She doesn't even like her dad or I to play with her as it messes up her playing scenario she had going on.  So, I dealt with a freaking out daughter all weekend long and I kept assuring her that we'd figure it out and to not panic.  It didn't work and I dealt with a lot of scared and upset tears that weekend, but I tried.

So, that Monday rolls around and the husband came home from work early so I could run into school and have a sit down with the counselor about the daughter's schedule.  Luckily, the counselor had seen how upset Armina was at the prospect of her schedule getting messed with and hadn't changed anything, so we were able to figure out a way that while the daughter would lose her elective classes (which depressed the daughter as she was looking forward to taking art this year) she wouldn't lose any of her current teachers and only the one period would be changed to accommodate the new math class.  It's a supplemental class she and others in the school have to take due to their under average standardized test scores...kind of a tutoring class on top of their regular class.  Since the daughter's shown a LOT of improvement in her reading with her having her English teacher for not only English but Advisory (kind of a more busy version of study hall where different teachers trade off the class to teach kids different things instead of the kids having actual study hall) as well...I really do feel she could benefit from this, so I didn't fight it and I hope she can get caught up math-wise and not feel so lost in her regular math class because of the extra help.

And then report cards came home as soon as we got that mess worked out and I found a less than stellar grade in Social Studies of all things.  Since she'd been making an "A" at halfway point in the quarter I was baffled.  My husband and I stopped by one afternoon to try and talk to the counselor about it, but she was busy, so she ended up calling me back.  She went through the daughter's test scores and things in the class and couldn't find anything really amiss there, but DID find the reason for the not stellar grade.  Turns out the daughter had just not been turning in assignments.  I was mad at her for DAYS after finding that out.

Since than the counselor has helped me sign up for the online parent program through the school that allows me to literally pull up all of the assignments for the daughter's different classes and figure out what she's missing and what she might need help with.  I've tried to sign up for this program since the daughter was in Kindergarten with NO luck (it would just NOT work for me no matter how much I tried), so I was thrilled when the counselor helped set me up properly and I got it all working. 

Since then my husband and I have been working our butts off with the daughter to get a few assignments done that she hadn't turned in yet THIS quarter and to help her do a country project for her Social Studies class.  She had chosen China, which turned out was a lot more involved than the daughter had thought it would be since China has been influenced by so much through it's existence and then we had to send in some traditional food for the assignment.  Being frugal, I decided to forgo Peking Duck (go figure) and went with rice (to represent Southern China) as an example of a staple (and traditional) food and went with the traditional birthday meal of noodles and peaches (which seemed to be a universal birthday dish for China as a whole) for a bit of variety.  I THINK she got a decent grade on the project (I hate it when teachers just put notes like, "Give extra credit for..." but don't give you any details on whether they included said extra credit in the grade they posted *sigh*), so we'll see if it helps to bring up her grade.

Now that the daughter knows I can stalk her academically she seems to be taking things a bit more seriously, so I'll take that improvement in attitude for sure.  MAN, I hate Junior High.  The lack of energy, the lack of focus, the "meh" attitude about everything...I remember it well and now I get to fight it all over again in my children.  All we have to do now is do charts on questions she got wrong on a science quiz to bring up that grade and I THINK we'll be back on track.  I hope.  I pray.

Between that and just fighting ill health, it's been a challenge.  With two kids in two different schools there is just SO many more germs going around that it's like we can't stay well this year.  I've been popping vitamins like mad, making sure I keep balanced meals going as much as possible and trying to make sure I get enough rest, but it's still rough.  The son is home today with cold-like symptoms where he goes into coughing fits and is just generally not well.  I woke up with a terrible sore throat and congested myself.  It might be a kind of cruddy Halloween on the health front.  I'm praying it all works out and we'll be able to go and do some Trick-or-Treating for the daughter's sake, but we'll see. 

Because, of course...we not only have the whole health issues to deal with at the moment.  Nope.  We went from this....


To this...


All at once.  We got dumped on, hard, with snow starting Sunday night.  The roads have been an absolute MESS since then.  We haven't seen a plow, or a sand truck in two days and when I went to drop the daughter off at school this morning they were still plowing out the school (the school is the responsibility of the Borough while the roads are the responsibility of the state, so it's double dropping the ball here).  I have about 18" of snow sitting on my grill and deck at the moment.  Winter came in hard and the road crews just seem to be ignoring that winter is here at all.  My poor husband has been driving to work on a glorified ice skating rink (he actually wondered if the state had sent a Zamboni out to polish the roads to a nice polished ice surface last night as he worked his way SLOWLY to work) and taking the daughter to school this morning was definitely an experience.  Thank goodness for four wheel drive on the truck.  I was definitely grateful for it today.

I kept the kids home yesterday as when I saw trucks trying to drive up my road and nearly going sideways and they had heavier vehicles than mine I said, "Um, no" and just called the kids in sick.  So, yeah, we'll see how the roads are tomorrow or we might be making loads of Halloween treats tomorrow night and just staying home.  The daughter will be disappointed as she's super thrilled with her Halloween costume (we ended up buying her one due to lack of time.  She picked it out herself and I have to say I'm glad she was able to do that as I was WAY off what I thought she wanted an enchantress costume to look like), but we'll see how it goes.

And now that you've got a basic (abridged as I know there was a bunch of other chaos going on that I just don't want to reprocess right now *laugh*) timeline of events the last two weeks, let's get to the money saving things that happened the last two weeks as well.

1.  Let's start with shopping since I posted the pic of some of my finds up top there.  Shopping went well last week.  Carrs gave me a ton of personalized price deals that were a combo of regular personalized prices and some of them were just a percentage off of a certain type of product (like 10% off frozen foods or 15% off health and beauty products).  They then gave me a 5.00 off my next shopping trip coupon (no minimum purchase required) a coupon for 5.00 off my next shopping trip of 50.00 or more and another one for 11.00 off my shopping trip of 100.00 or more (I didn't get the 11.00 thing as I figured it would have been 10.00, but whatever).  They also had a coupon for 5.00 your next shopping trip of 50.00 or more in the actual weekly ad you could use as well.  So, I stacked all of my personalized prices.  I stocked up on toothbrushes (which we were in desperate need of), got the husband some frozen dinners (I was able to stack a monthly personalized price of 1.54 per meal with my coupon code to get the meals for a little over 1.00 a piece) and other things.  The coolest find, for me, was actually the chicken (seen above).

I had a personalized price of .94 lb for the value packs of chicken and a personalized price of 1.11 lb on skinless chicken breasts.  I was kind of "meh" about it as while it was a good deal I didn't really NEED chicken that badly, but when I ran across a bunch of chicken on reduced I did the math and picked it up.  I was able to get thin cut chicken breasts for about .80 per package (score!) and I got big value packs of chicken drumsticks for 2.00 and some change after personalized price and discount.  I can ALWAYS use chicken at that price!

The pork chops after discount and a personalized price on pork I had ended up being around 2.00 and some change, which was totally worth it for a quick and easy dinner (the husband even brought the last pork chop with him to work that night for lunch, so it worked out doubly well).

I was able to get toothbrushes for about 1.00 a piece for decent ones, got the kids new battery operated toothbrushes (I ended up getting them adult toothbrushes versus the throw away kid ones as the interchangeable heads moved in two directions versus just spinning on the one part, was only 1.00 more than the kids toothbrushes and I can change the heads and the batteries in the new toothbrushes and keep some battery powered toothbrushes out of the landfill...works for me :) and got other groceries we needed and walked away feeling good about what I paid.  After all of the discounts were taken, various money coupons were taken off and everything I ended up spending about 90.00 for everything I bought and I got meat, produce, dairy...you name it (and we needed a lot of boy food, so the fact that I was able to get off that cheap made me feel good :).

2.  Speaking of shopping we have been working hard to get our Shop Your Way points redeemed at Sears as quickly as we can when they come in.  We went and spent about 30.00 in points a few weeks ago and got my son new shoes in the next size up (they were on clearance, which was cool), an 8' extension cord that was marked down to 1.00, some shoe insoles for my husband and we felt pretty good about what we were able to get.  This weekend we had to go and run and use up another 27.00 (around) worth of points before they expired (we get them and they expire FAST it seems) so on Saturday we went and saw what we could find.  They didn't have jeans in my husband's size in, so instead we looked around.  I, being me, immediately headed to the clearance racks.  I was able to get my daughter a nice cross body leather purse that was small enough to be practical but large enough to hold her cell phone (we got her a prepaid cell when dividends came in so she'll be able to get a hold of us during concerts and things if she needs to, so we don't get separated from one another and wander around aimlessly) for super cheap and I went and hit the men's clearance racks and was able to find my husband four shirts on clearance for a little less than 5.00 a piece to wear to work (which was good as the ones he has at home are getting holey).  With the Shop Your Way points to redeem we left spending about 5.00 for everything.

3.  I also stopped by the used store this week as we got the dress code for the daughter's school in and if kids wear leggings they were supposed to wear shirts that went down to cover their behinds.  The daughter LOVES to wear leggings and I was worried some of her shirts weren't going to be quite long enough (as she's growing again), so I went and got some shirts that I knew would work with the dress code and the daughter can continue to wear her beloved leggings to school.  While there I also picked up four pillow cases, two pairs of matching colors, to embroider some pillow cases for the kids for Christmas.  The daughter has already made her embroidery request known (purple foxes...go figure) and I'll figure out something cool to embroider for the son's cases.  I was happy though as the pillow cases were only .50 each.

4.  My daughter and I are continuing to watch Bob Ross at night before she goes to bed.  I've found this is actually working really well to keep her nightly stomach aches at bay, so it's been totally worth it to go to bed a bit later than I had planned us to to stop her from having to take medication.

5.  I ended up using the 10.00 Amazon credit from the whole lemon bar debacle to buy the husband another pair of shoe inserts (he goes through a LOT of them with the amount of walking around he does at his job).  Glad I used it up as it started out as 10.00 when I got it but when we actually got a chance to use it, it was already down to around 8.00 and some change.  I wasn't impressed that there was a time limit to use the credit before it went away after everything that happened.  I've not been impressed with Amazon this last year for sure.  It's like I finally invest in a year of Prime and that's when my customer service experiences with Amazon went through the floor.  I'm actually PAYING to be treated poorly.  Makes me feel great.  Grumble.

6.  I signed up for a new product testing mission with "My Magazine Sharing Network" to try out cold and flu medicines.  Considering how this year is shaping up health-wise, I was super thrilled to get that mission!

7.  I took advantage of a free mug code from Shutterfly to order my husband a new tank mug.  I had gotten him a white mug with the design on it earlier in the year to replace the one he really loved that was black because it had come in at a good time to get it (right after the other one broke), but this one I was able to get in black again so I'll be able to replace his favorite mug with a direct replacement.  I'm going to put it under the tree for him, so it also takes care of a Christmas gift at the same time.

8.  I had ordered school pictures for the kids but only the daughter's had come in.  I waited a few days and then, figuring something was wrong, I called Life Touch.  It turns out the order hadn't been shipped for some reason so the gal re-ordered the item to be sent out.  Hopefully this time it comes.

9.  Scheduled a lifetime oil change on my husband's car, so he'll be able to go in and get his oil changed for free.

10.  When the daughter needed a notebook for her new math class and needed some new glue sticks I went into the small school supply stockpile I have and got her the things she needed.  She was happy to get the stuff right away and I was happy that I didn't need to go and spend money to get the supplies.

11.  I used Brandy's (The Prudent Homemaker) recipe for carrot cake as the daughter had been BEGGING me to make one.  Despite a fiasco with dumping twice as much pineapple into the cake as it was supposed to have as the daughter was not wanting to help and in a panicked rush to get the cake in the oven after she didn't do what she was supposed to I just dumped the entire can of pineapple into the batter instead of reading the directions.  I ended up baking the cake for about an hour longer than the recipe called for (reduced the heat to 325 for 45 minutes and then back to 350 for the last 15 minutes) to bake off all of the extra moisture the cake turned out pretty good.  It was an interesting combo of a good carrot cake until you hit the pockets of pineapple in the cake and then it tasted like a pineapple upside down cake.  It got eaten at any rate :).

12.  I made rice and noodles for the daughter's school project instead of going for more expensive traditional fair.

13.  My daughter's boyfriend made her a pretty necklace, but he didn't wind the wire around the crystal well enough and the crystal fell out of the cage he'd made.  I took some jewelry wire I had around the house and fixed the necklace for her as she was upset at the idea of it being broken.  I didn't have the right color wire so she ended up with a combo of gold and silver wire holding the crystal cage closed, but she really liked how the necklace turned out, so I was happy with that.

14.  We watched Halloween themed cartoons and shows that we had put aside to watch at Halloween while the husband was home on his nights off.  The husband and I would then go down in our bedroom and watch the horror movies we wanted to watch for Halloween fare after the kids were in bed for the night.  This way the daughter doesn't have nightmares and we can still enjoy the more scary parts of Halloween that we enjoy :).

15.  Speaking of Halloween I was able to find the son a used Halloween costume that the package had just been opened on it.  I was able to get it for 5.00 versus nearly 30.00 and all the parts were included with it!  I washed it carefully to make sure nothing weird might be on it, but I was happy :).

16.  One of the mom's whose kids are in the same swim class as my kids was nice enough to gift everyone in the class some Christmas ornaments she and her daughter's made to congratulate the kids on a great job in swimming.  The daughter got a pink butterfly ornament so she wants to hang it up in her bedroom as part of her decor instead of hanging it up on the tree.  The mom was thrilled and I thought it was really cute and nice of her to do that.

17.  I signed up for some free samples the last couple of weeks.  I am still on some of the old coupon newsletters from my coupon blogging days and found a couple that were actually really up my alley, so I was thrilled to request them.  Now to hope they come *laugh*.

18.  I went and looked up online resources to help me help my daughter with her homework.  It's amazing to me how much great information is available online. 

19.  I asked my mother-in-law, who home schooled a bunch of her kids if she had any old text books I could borrow to help with social studies and math and she said she did!  So, hopefully I'll be able to borrow some books that might give a new, and better, perspective on things for the daughter to grasp.  Here's hoping!

20.  One of my husband's co-workers is retiring and had a going away party last night.  My husband looked at the sign up list for the pot luck dinner and figured out they were lacking in the desserts, so I asked him to sign us up to bring in brownies.  I used a free brownie mix I'd gotten from Fred Meyer earlier to make the brownies.  They were a big hit, nothing came back home, and they were nearly free for me to make (since they required cooking oil and eggs they weren't completely free, but close enough :).

And, yeah, I am going to call it good there as the son is getting cranky, I'm getting hungry and my back is starting to ache after sitting in one spot typing for so long *laugh*.

How about you all?  How did you do these past two weeks?  Well, I hope?