Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Totally Saving Tuesday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (x2)

Okay, since it's Tuesday it would TECHNICALLY be times 3, but I'm calling it two as I'm hoping to get another Frugal Friday post up this Friday, so it'll all work out in the end.  *Messes around with beads on abdictus* yeahhhh...we'll go with that *laugh*.

Anyway, what have we been up to the last few weeks.  TONS would be the short answer.  Some good, some bad.  So, let's break it down.

First there has been my husband's health, which has been crazy of late.  First he went to the free clinic that his union provides to get his ankle checked out.  He'd folded his other ankle when he was climbing off of a ladder, so he was worried he'd hurt the other leg somehow, but found out that basically he's getting older and just needs better inserts in his shoes.  While he was there, however, they took his blood pressure and it was pretty darned high.  He felt fine, though, so the doctor on duty told him to go home, wait a day, take his blood pressure and if it was still high to go and see our family doctor.

Well, in short he checked his blood pressure as directed and it was still really high, so he went into our family doctor.  He then told the doctor all of the things I'd implemented to keep our diet decently low in sodium and the doctor pretty much told him "congratulations, you're a victim of genetics" and put him on blood pressure medication.  Which, after messing with the dosage the last couple of weeks, I think we are on the right track and his blood pressure is doing a lot better.  Bright side as well is that they did a bunch of blood work on the husband and found that his cholesterol and sugar levels were good, so all of the effort I've put into keeping our diet decently healthy seems to be working :).

Then last week rolled around and the husband woke up on Wednesday to find one of his eyes all swollen up.  He tried Benadryl and that didn't seem to do much, so he went back to the doctor to find out what was going on with it.  The doctor was pretty sure it was allergies, but put him on antibiotic drops just in case there was an infection.  It seems like his eye is finally doing better *knock on wood*, so hopefully we're on the mend with that.

Then there was the home front stuff on top of that.  I went downstairs one night to see the cats doing their best to dig through the walls at the bottom of the stairs.  I was kind of confused at first, but when I went into the laundry room I found the distinctive pile of mouse droppings.  I looked and sure enough there was a hole around where the stairs met the floor at the bottom of the staircase.  I immediately went and shoved aluminum foil into every gap and hole I could find, much to the vexation of my cats.  The next day I went outside to try and figure out how the buggers were getting in this time.  Well, I definitely found it.  The earthquake really moved the front of our house, I guess, and the front porch acted as added weight to move the house back and forth.  As a result under the front porch, where the mice got in last year, was woefully unprotected.  The brick I had put over the hole had moved a good foot off of the hole, the aluminum foil, though, was in place.  The biggest problem, though, was that the foil was now useless as there is a good sized gap between the dirt and the foundation where the earth had gotten compacted forward during the earthquake.  I went and grabbed gravel and filled up the hole down as far as I could around the ground wire hole (where they had gotten in last year) and planted the brick over it, but otherwise there isn't a whole lot I can do at the moment as we have fencing around the bottom of the porch with gaps just large enough for me to fit my arm through, but I can't reach as far as I need to to fill in the gap that developed.  So, I did the best I could and will make sure to be vigilant looking for any telltale signs of mice.

Bright side is that I DID go in and look around the pantry and didn't find any evidence that the evil disease ridden creatures were getting into the pantry at all, so at least the steel wool and aluminum foil are doing their job so far.  For the time being, however, the door to the pantry is wide open so the cats have full access to ANYTHING that they might need to deal with.  I'm taking no chances.

There was also my truck.  The service engine soon light has been on in the truck pretty much since the moment we bought it as we have a fuel vapor leak in the truck somewhere.  It hasn't been a problem in the truck running, but it does make the service engine soon light come on and stay on.  Then we went to go out last week and the truck just ran awful and now the service engine soon light was blinking.  Not good.  The husband went and plugged in his code reader and found that the 8th cylinder was misfiring.  He then started trouble shooting the problem, found it was the coil, went and got parts and fixed the truck.  We spent about 65.00 between the part and buying a testing device for the coil, but if we had brought the truck to a garage we would have paid at least 100.00 just to diagnose the problem.  Once again I'm so thankful to have a husband who knows how to do things :).

So, yeah, this is definitely going to be a year where I'm going to be trying to figure out how to access our health reimbursement account through our health insurance as I'm going to need it to pay for all of the medical bills that will be coming down the pike.

1.  And then there was my big project over the last couple of weeks.  I've been really kind of frustrated and helpless feeling that I can't help the husband with the chimney and I kept trying to figure out how to help him get things done as we have so much to do.  So, I figured I could take a nail set around the house, start nailing nails back into the ceilings and walls, patching the holes and then start painting one room at a time.  So, this week it was the bathroom.  Since I'm the one painting, I'm picking the colors.  Bwahahahaha!  When we bought the house the entire house was white inside and textured.  I hate textured walls by the way.  Anyway, I made sure that the rooms for both kids were painted before we moved in as I wanted to them to feel like the rooms belonged to them, but when it came to the rest of the house everything remained white.  I'm still going to be stuck with the main part of the house being white as it's such a wide open area I really don't have much of a choice, but I figured I could at least paint the other rooms.

So, I went and nailed all of the nails back into the walls and ceiling, sealed up the cracks in the drywall (let's hear it for DAP, or bathroom rated caulk for those who don't recognize the brand) and then applied a good coat of oil based primer (basically Kilz, but the store version of it).

And might I just say that this process took FOREVER with the texture on the walls.  I ended up with two days just into putting primer on the walls.  The texture and old paint on the walls just absorbs paint, so it took a lot longer than I had hoped.

Bright side once the primer was on the paint went on great.  I had picked a light silver color.  I ended up with a blue grey color instead (why doesn't the paint ever match the color on those little sample cards?).  Bright side is that it still matched at least one shade of grey in the shower tiles and on the floor, so it worked out.

Ways I saved money while doing this project?

  • I did the work myself instead of hiring a contractor to do it.
  • We got a discount on our painting supplies by getting things on sale.
  • The only brush we bought was a four inch brush and we bought some inserts for our paint roller.  Otherwise we used tools we already had around the house for everything else. 

The final color on...

And how the bathroom looks now after a good thorough deep cleaning (and scraping off of the tiny little dribbles of paint that always seem to find their way onto objects no matter how well you put down drop cloths...

We also ended up getting a new towel rack and things for the bathroom as the old ones were cheap  wood ones and were REALLY falling apart after the masses of pounding they took in the earthquake.  The vanity is also going to need to be replaced as the bottom is falling in bad since the quake (not sure why, but it was cheap to begin with as well).  I screwed the vanity back tight to the wall again and then took an oak board I had and put it across the bottom of the vanity so I could at least put things under the sink again without them trying to fall down into the middle.

2.  I went out and foraged in the yard and did find we had a few raspberry bushes actually produce some raspberries (more is the miracle with how low they got chopped down by the moose last year).

I picked enough for the daughter to have a small snack and while I was out I picked some rhubarb and some wildflowers.

3.  I attempted to make Old Fashioned Rhubarb Pudding Cake with the rhubarb I picked.  Attempted should be the word of the day there.  I was distracted by my kids.  My daughter forgot how to do everything on her own but breathe, so it seemed and the son was running around like a maniac, dumped a DVD into my cake batter...it was nuts.  So, I read the recipe completely wrong and put the cornstarch and sugar concoction on the fruit instead of over the batter (I'm sure my mind went to pie making and was like, "Right, rhubarb pie filling on the bottom...").  Turns out if you do that you end up with an odd tasting rhubarb cobbler instead of a cake.  So, now you know.  Anyway, I ate a bunch of it myself as my family wasn't keen on eating it, but I did find the almond extract to be overpowering in the recipe.  So, I'm going to try the recipe again, but I think I'm just going to double the vanilla extract and call it good.

3.  So, Prime Day came and went last week.  I actually, for a change, found things that I needed.  I made out a list beforehand to see if any of those items went on sale decently cheap on Amazon, and was actually able to check a few things off of my list.  I got a two pack of gel pillows (which I have one that my husband and I end up trading off, along with the down pillows and then we end up compromising on who gets what when he has his nights off) for less than 20.00, got a six pack of battery powered, motion detecting LED lights (for the pantry as one of my battery powered lights got crushed in the quake and the other one doesn't really light up the entire pantry all that great), an art kit for the daughter for Christmas and some toys for the son for Christmas as well.  I was even able to find the husband a watch that they had on special for 28.00.  I know it's not a GREAT watch by any stretch, but he hasn't had a working watch in a while, so I figured it'll do :).

I also took advantage of Prime Day sales on Seventh Generation products to get some super concentrated laundry detergent for less than 10.00 for a bottle.  It's scented, which I normally don't get, but I'm looking forward to trying it as I haven't bought scented anything in YEARS.

4.  Used shopping went well a couple of weeks ago (I am still searching for a new shower curtain for the kid's bathroom as the one we have in there right now keeps shrinking every time I wash it and it is developing holes...it's really old and I got it for free years and years ago, so I can't complain, but now I need a new shower curtain.

I did, finally, find some prints to replace the prints I had made for Alvah for his room as they got wrecked in the earthquake.  I found these really pretty sailing boat prints, so I got them and hung them up where the old prints used to be.  Since I'm thinking of going for a "things that go" type of theme for his room, I think the prints will work well in there when all is said and done.  With the race car banner I made it looks like there's a regatta going on instead of a car race, but it'll do ;).

5.  While at the used store I also ran into a nice fake plant that would fit on top of the towel cabinet in the hallway.  I was thrilled as I really wanted something like that to finish up the look of the cabinet and I could put my stereo away unless I was using it (thus saving it from getting dusty).

6.  Shopping went well this week.  I had a personalized price on Rotisserie chickens, so I took advantage of it as they were giving them to me for 5.00 a piece.  I went in and got four of them, two of which were on reduced for 50% off (who can beat 2.49 for a whole chicken????).  I put them into the freezer whole in freezer bags and will take them out when I want a quick and flavorful dinner.

There was also a coupon online that you could load to get a container of ice cream for 1.49, limit of one and while at the store getting milk I got a coupon that printed off at the register for 1.25 off of the new style of ice cream for Carrs (the not-quite-half-gallon size).  I combined the coupons together at check out to get a thing of ice cream for .24!  Yeah!!!

Just4U also offered me a free box of blueberry Cheerios this week, so I picked those up yesterday as well when I went to get groceries.  My husband refuses to try them as he doesn't like fruity cereals, but I'm kind of hoping that the daughter might like them.  I'm curious to see what they taste like myself.

7.   We got our refund check in from our home owners insurance this week.  I get mad at them for doing invoicing our bank for the full amount and then proceeding to send me a refund check, but they have been doing it so long it ceases to surprise me when it happens.  I talked to my mortgage company on online chat and asked if I put the money back into escrow would it make a difference when they went to calculate the mortgage payments at the end of the year and he said it wouldn't make any difference as they go off of the invoice that was given, how it compared to last year and then they figure out the difference between the home owners insurance and the property taxes, add a cushion in on top of it, recalculate the escrow and then the mortgage payment comes out of that.  So, I decided to just bank the refund monies and use them to go toward school supplies and back to school clothes for the kids instead.

I went online one day and found that Land's end was having a sale of 40% off of regular priced items and they also had some really good clearance sales on t-shirts and things.  Both kids needed clothes and rain jackets.  Between the discount code for 40% off I was able to get rain jackets for less than 25.00 a piece, got t-shirts for about 5.00 a piece in different colors for each child and other things (like another bathing suit for Alvah and another in the next size up for him).  I spent more than 75.00 so I got free shipping on the clothes as well.

The daughter needed a new lunchbox and desperately wanted another back pack as hers was falling apart even after light use last year.  Her aunt had gotten one for her for Christmas, but it is still a bit big for her (the daughter inherited my short gene), so I went on Land's End when they were having a 50% off sale on backpacks and lunch boxes a few days ago.  I was able to get a back pack that I THINK will fit the daughter well (I hope it's not too small for her...she's at an odd height at the moment), got an embroidered unicorn on the pocket for her as well (she saw one in the catalog and fell utterly in love with the idea of having a unicorn on her back pack) and got her a new lunch box and I still, even after shipping, paid the same amount as the back pack would have been normal price WITHOUT embroidery or anything with it.

8.  I mended three t-shirts that had holes in them this week.

9.  We were invited to dinner by my in-laws and I got to see one of my sister-in-laws and her children as she was invited too.  It was a lot of fun, the kids had a blast and I didn't have to cook.  Always a nice change of pace :).

10.  I darned one of my socks.

11.  I cleaned out the drains in the bathrooms to make sure they continue to flow well.

And there you go folks.  A quick recap of what has been going on around here.  How about you?  How has the past couple of weeks treated you all?

Monday, July 8, 2019

What's for Dinner: This Week's Menu

Yay!  I got the menu plan done for this week!  I'm feeling all accomplished!

The pressure cooker is definitely doing it's duty the last bit with the severe heat wave we have going on around here.  I love that it doesn't heat up the house, which is a Godsend at the moment.  We are actually breaking temperature records up here right now and we finally broke record summer heat records that were set in 1964 (I believe it was '64, but don't hold me to that as I didn't double check it).  Note:  I could have lived without us having to do that *laugh*.

Bright side is that the heat wave is supposed to start breaking toward the end of the week and we go from a 0% chance of rain to about a 60% chance, so I'm hopeful that we'll get rain up here sometime soon and the thousands of acres that are currently on fire in every direction can finally start to get under control and eventually go out.  Here's hoping.  Anyway, with the weather predicting a lowering of temperatures back down into the 70's by the end of the week I'm going to have some faith that it is actually going to happen and plan for some more oven friendly meals.  Let us hope that the weather is going to go the way the weathermen think it will.

As a side note I am still working on Monthly Goals and things, so I haven't posted those yet and I haven't forgotten about the recipe I wanted to post, so here's hoping I can get those done here soon.

Right, onto the menu!
Monday:  Pressure Cooker Meatloaf (I'm just going to pressure cook the recipe I normally use via instructions I found online).  Once done, pull meatloaf out and drain liner and then get potatoes on for pressure cooker mashed potatoes (I would do the two together, but all I have are russet potatoes, which take a lot less cooking time than Yukon Gold or other boiling potatoes).  Serve with gravy (I have some really nice gravy I made with beef roast the other night that I'll use) and green beans.  Dessert:  S'More pudding cups (I have a bunch of graham crackers that came kind of crushed so I'm going to smash those into crumbs and then layer them in some sundae cups with chocolate pudding and then put mini marshmallows on top). 
Tuesday:  Spaghetti.  Salad.   Dessert:  Watermelon
Wednesday:  Tomato Soup with grilled cheese sandwiches (if I can bake and/or pick up some bread at the store as we are currently out). 
Thursday:  Ham.  Salad, Home made bread.   Dessert:   Lemon tart (canned lemon pie filling, make shortbread crust). 
Friday:  Home made pizza and breadsticks. 
Saturday:  Roast chicken.  Stuffing.  Scalloped potatoes.  Corn. 
Sunday:  Leftovers (maybe chicken salad sandwiches if we have enough chicken left).
And there you are folks.  Our dinner menu for the week.  When it comes to breakfast we've just been eating cereal (due to the heat) and for lunch we've been having whatever will bake or cook quickly or we are eating things like tuna salad.

How about you?  Got anything good planned for your menu this week?

Friday, July 5, 2019

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Weekly Recap (x2)

Delayed again on the posting front, but I do have things to report. 

Oh and warning.  The following post contains affiliate links.  If you order through these links I get a small commission from Amazon for pointing the sale their way.  Ordering through these links will not cost you any extra money and I thank you if you choose to use them.  If you don't want to use them just be sure to close out the window you launch Amazon in and then look up Amazon through your regular method and go about your day.  Thanks!

First, I want to thank everyone for their advice and things of late that I haven't gotten around to thanking people for.  Your advice on how to use up sour cream was a great help and worked great in using up the considerable amounts I ended up with after the Monopoly game. There were other recommendations that seemed to go unnoticed by me, but they did not and I really do appreciate them.  It's been crazy around here and I just plain forget to take the time to thank people from time to time.  So, thank you :).

The first thing to report is I did, indeed, go to the doctor's for my back and I actually went to my husband's chiropractor who I have been really impressed with as he's done my husband a lot of good with his back, so I figured I'd take the chance on him.

I'm very glad I did.

First, the good news.  My hips are actually in really good shape and when I explained to him about what I'd done carrying my son around, the masses of laundry I have to do each day with him and other things over the years he actually told me he was impressed with how good of shape my hips were in and that I'd actually done a good job of taking care of them.

The bad news is that it isn't my hips causing all of my problems.  It's my back.  Specifically an overly compressed disc in my back that is compressed down to the point that it has spread out and is hitting the nerves on either side of my spine causing a "hot nerve" situation and it has been causing a myriad of problems for longer than I had imagined, including the "I feel like someone took a crowbar to the sides of my legs" situation I found myself in every evening.  He stretched out my back, gave me a bunch of exercises to do and after a purchase of a 23.00 exercise ball I have been making sure to do those exercises every day.  The exercises basically stretch my back out, a lot, and it allows my disc to go back into a more natural position instead of being squished down where it shouldn't be.

And I have to say that the 150.00 I spent on that appointment was the best money I've spent in years.

I have been really surprised at how many problems began and ended with my back and I honestly think I've had a disc problem since my children were born as I haven't felt this good, in a lot of ways, in a lot of years.  Problems that I had equated to other things have lessened or gone away completely as I've stretched my back out.  The constant fatigue I seemed to fight has gotten a LOT better, my legs don't hurt constantly, my walk (I always seemed to drag my right foot when I walked) seems to be doing a lot better and my back always going out and giving me headaches has gotten so much better that I can't tell you how much better I feel.  I crave doing the exercises he gave me to do at night as my back now, not my legs, starts to really hurt by the end of the day, and after the exercises I'm actually able to sleep at night and I'm getting a WAY better quality of sleep than I was.  So, yeah, even though I have to now baby my back, I'm not going to need hip replacement surgery anytime soon (God willing) and I have ways that I can help my back that aren't going to cost me a fortune to do.  So, yay for being able to share some good news :).

Next up on the list of things to share is that it is ridiculously hot here.  We are looking at the 90's up into next week (yuck, yuck, YUCK!!!).  Everywhere you go, air conditioners are sold out and we are praying for rain (next week we might see some, hopefully).  Luckily, my husband put in the air conditioner when the temps started hitting the upper 70's and we knew it was going to get worse, so we have managed to mess around with fans and things to the point where it still gets hot upstairs at about 7:00 in the evening or so, but we can get it cooled back down by about 11:00, so the kids can actually sleep at night.  I even put up the extra black out curtain, like the one I have hanging up in the den, over our front door to block out as much sunlight as possible to try and avoid as much of the "baking effect" as we can to help keep the house cool.  It's been working relatively well all things considered, although the son has taken over the kitchen and is literally camping out in front of the air conditioner during the day.

With the heat up here also comes wild fires and right now we have just tons of things burning.  You walk outside and all you smell is smoke and the air quality is terrible.  My poor husband has been living off of his inhaler for weeks, same with my mother-in-law, and I'm doubly grateful for the air conditioner as it at least stops us from having to blow masses of smoke around the house to try and stay cool.

With the heat also comes the want to not turn on the oven unless I absolutely have to, so the electric pressure cooker has been getting constant use around here.  It's been kind of neat having the opportunity to mess around with it more and I even found that the Gourmia electric pressure cooker (the one I have) actually has a manual time function like the Instant Pot, so being able to convert Instant Pot recipes is just a matter of upping the liquid involved (my cooker calls for at least 2 cups of liquid) and I'm ready to roll.  I even pressure cooked hamburgers last week and I have to say they came out really well.  

Just as a side note, I found the secret to finding good recipes for the pressure cooker.  I don't use Pinterest.  I haven't found more than one good recipe for the pressure cooker on Pinterest, so I went to just Googling anything I might want to try in the pressure cooker and I look for a recipe to make.  So far I haven't found one recipe I was disappointed in by doing it that way, so I'm going to stick with that method in the future.

Some of the recipes I've made the last bit (other than the link to the hamburger recipe above)?

  • Instant Pot Pot Roast (I used a sweet onion versus a yellow onion and didn't make the potatoes with it, but man this made the BEST gravy!  I even froze what was left even though I knew it would separate on defrosting just so I wouldn't waste the stock/gravy!)
  • Instant Pot BBQ Chicken (this was really good!)
  • Instant Pot Korean Pork Chops (This was good but BOY did it take a lot of soy sauce!)
  • I also made beef Stroganoff in the instant pot (I just looked up a recipe on All Recipes for that one), Burgundy Beef tips (which was good, also from Allrecipes.com) and just cooked some marinated chicken breasts in the pressure cooker yesterday (more on that in a minute), which turned out well.  Overall, I am super happy with the pressure cooker and it has certainly more than paid for itself not heating up my kitchen the last couple of weeks :).
The state shut down fireworks yesterday due to the super dry conditions and wanting to avoid setting yet more of the state on fire.  For the first time I can remember even people down on the lake down the road from us didn't set of fireworks and it was nice and quiet last night.  The state makes up for the lack of fireworks in July (it's light up here still at night, so a lot of people don't even bother on not dry years to set off fireworks) on New Years Eve, so I'm sure they'll save the fireworks for later in the year :).

We invited my father and mother-in-law over yesterday for dinner.  Since my father-in-law is diabetic and has been having problems with his sugar, we didn't have the usual Fourth of July fare.  Instead I made salad with marinated and pressure cooked chicken breasts with home made balsamic vinaigrette (which actually ended up being a balsamic and red wine vinegar concoction as I ran out of vinegar...oops) .  It was really tasty and healthy and everyone seemed happy with it, so I call it a success :).  I bought the chicken breasts on reduced when they were also on sale and froze them ahead so we didn't spend much money, at all, on the occasion.  My in-laws even brought over pre-sliced up watermelon for dessert :).

I hope everyone in the U.S. enjoyed the holiday yesterday, by the way :).

So, yeah, let's get to everything else that has been going on around here!

1.  My neighbors down by our bank of mail boxes used to own a flower store in the area and they always have beautiful flowers in bloom and everything smells heavenly coming from their yard.  I really wanted some fresh flowers in the house, but also knew buying a bouquet for ten dollars or more wasn't really in the budget, so instead I went out one morning this week and just picked some wild flowers.  I am hoping to pick some more soon as it really did help to brighten the place up a bit.  

2.  The cushions in the love seat have been getting old and breaking down to the point that they were getting pretty flat.  I went through my materials and grabbed the old cushions from my son's glider rocker that finally fell apart and used the foam to help to plump up the cushions on the love seat.  The cushions were still worn down a bit, so I took the mattress pad from my bed that was getting old and kind of worn out.  I folded the pad up and just stuck it under the cushions.  It makes the cushions go up higher than they should when the pad "inflates" overnight, but at least the love seat is a lot more comfortable to sit on now.

3.  We had more earthquake damage make itself known the last couple of weeks.  The first was my electric kettle.  It had been leaking from the plastic window since the earthquake, but I had been trying to hold it at bay with some clear silicone on the outside of the pot.  Well, it finally started leaking too much around all parts of the window, so I had to order a new kettle.  I ordered one this time without a "window" in it to try and stop that problem from happening again.

Another bit of earthquake damage that showed itself in a big way was the son's dresser.  I knew that some plastic brackets had broken in the earthquake, but I thought they were just small trim pieces and that the dresser itself was still sound.  Well, I was wrong.  It decided to show me how wrong, by the side of the dresser falling off.  I managed to hammer it back together enough to get it downstairs and the husband thinks he can fix it.  

I decided to put my old dresser that was in the den into Alvah's room instead.  I think it will work better.  It is solid wood, well built and it is up on legs so I can actually recover DVD's from behind it without having to move it AND I can vacuum under it without worries.  In the case of the son, these are all big benefits.

4.  We pulled out the 4th of July decorations and hung them up earlier this week.  I felt bad that I kind of waited till the last minute to do it, but it's been crazy, so the kids were happy that we got it done at all.  I reused decorations from previous years (which the decorations survived the earthquake just fine, which was a happy find) to decorate with.

5.  The son's eczema has gone completely bonkers this summer.  To the point his hands and feet were huge open sores from him itching them so much.  

I called the doctor and she started him on Singulair chewable pills, which he is actually taking with some gagging and things, but he is taking it (more's the miracle as he's so hard to get medicine down) and she prescribed him a steroid cream for his hands and feet, which really seems to be helping to get his eczema to stop flaring so badly.  

In the meantime I also decided to see what I could find to help him.  I bought some more cotton gloves to try and get him to hold moisturizer on his hands, some spa booties to help moisturize his feet and a new type of soap that I found on Amazon that is a goat's milk soap with dead sea mud and activated charcoal in it.  The soap is really good quality and doesn't hurt his eczema when I use it, so I'm going to continue to use it and see what happens.  I also ordered him some oatmeal bath packets that have some herbs and things in them that is supposed to really help eczema and we'll see how he does with those.  He used to be allergic to oats, but in recent years has actually grabbed and eaten raw rolled oats without any reactions, so I'm going to see if he can take the oatmeal bath topically without breaking out.  I hope so as it would definitely not hurt his eczema if it works for him.

6.  I found out from an e-mail the company sent me that my husband's credit card had a ton of rewards points on it from all of the dental bills we had on it.  I went and checked out the rewards and wasn't impressed until I found the digital gift certificate section.  I managed to get a 50.00 gift card to Red Robin (which will be a definite nice treat for us for a couple of meals as it is one of the son's favorite restaurants of all time) and another 50.00 gift card to Amazon.

I used the Amazon card to help pay toward a Spine decompression/Inversion Machine.  The chiropractor and my massage therapist sister-in-law both highly recommended getting one to both my husband and to myself, so I figure an investment now might very well stop us from costly doctor bills later.

7.  The one other purchase I made I bought in memory of Shani.  I had been texting her, but since April I hadn't gotten a reply from her.  I had to clean text messages off of my phone and I have kept every single text she's sent me the last few years, so once I was done I started to read back through the hundreds of  texts we'd exchanged.  As I read, I ran across a bunch of texts we had exchanged a while back about a feeding therapy tool that might work with Alvah.  When I ran across the conversation I actually got kind of excited and  I texted her about it as Alvah has been having fun with an app called "Talking Carl" on the I-Pad.  He doesn't talk to Carl (which is what I was HOPING he'd do), but he does love to feed Carl.  Shani had found and fallen in love with this feeding therapy tool called Milton the Mealtime Feeding Companion as a means to get kids to play with their food and take the stress out of trying new foods.  She had been really wanting to try it out and had thought Alvah would be a great guy to try it out on.  She had been big on getting one for Alvah and we had been working out the best way to work it into his therapy.  And then she had gotten sick.  I had forgotten about it until I went back through our old text messages and thought about him loving to feed Carl and how much it would be great if he'd feed Milton to at least maybe start to play with new textures and things.  

When I texted Shani about it, her daughter texted me back and tearfully told me Shani had passed away a few weeks ago.   

The news didn't devastate me, but it was still rough.  The world is a darker place without her in it, but I am glad she's out of pain and suffering.  Her cancer put her in constant nausea and agony and she died by basically slowly starving to death.  They gave her six months.  She fought for a long time past that.  So, I am glad she's where pain and misery can't reach her anymore and I admire her to no end for not giving up despite all the pain and suffering. I will definitely miss her.  She was a rare person.

In her memory I ordered Milton and I pray that he works to help Alvah eat more real foods.  Shani always loved Alvah and wanted the best for him and worked so hard to get him to eat that I decided to try her newest method on him myself.  May she watch over us and inspire the guy so that this method of feeding therapy works.  

So, yeah, my life in the "spending money" department hasn't been exactly frugal the last little bit, but hopefully something in the money spent will help keep my husband and I out of the doctor's office and the rest will help Alvah with some of his problems in this world.

8.  We have been having a good time watching programs that are included with Amazon Prime.  I became addicted watching "Poldark" in the evenings when the kids were SLOWLY going to sleep  and we also found out that "The Dark Crystal" and a few other movies we really love were included with Prime.  The son has even discovered "Popular Mechanics for Kids" and has been having a blast watching the series.  So, at least I feel like paying for Amazon Prime isn't a complete waste even when I'm not ordering things.  We're at least using it and making the most of it.

9.  We didn't do anything for our anniversary last week except have a nice evening at home with the kids.  I was happy with that as it was a nice night to be sure :).

10.  The owners of the pool where the kids take their swimming lessons called up my husband a few weeks ago and offered to let us use the pool as they were redoing the pool, were going to drain it in a couple of days, repaint it and they wanted to know if we'd like to go swimming before then.  My husband actually ended up helping one of the owners with a problem they were having with some of their lighting, but the kids and I went swimming and had a great time (he even sent us off with some smoked pork sandwiches he made and the husband took them to work for his lunch.  They were really good!).  I felt bad that my husband had to sit out on the swimming, but the kids were majorly thrilled that they were able to go swimming again as they have missed it this summer.  It had been quite a while since I had been swimming and I have to say I was happy that I was able to swim so long and so well without being completely knackered.  It's always good to know you haven't lost skills over the years and still have a decent amount of lung capacity left.

I grew up by a lake in Maine.  We were right around the block from the lake and I spent my entire childhood swimming my summers away.  It was nice getting back into the water again especially with the kids being able to swim with me for a change and enjoying themselves.  I am thrilled they have come so far in learning to swim :).

And I'm going to call it good there as I have got to get the leftover salad on the table so we can eat dinner.  How did you all do the last couple of weeks?  Well I hope?