Thursday Thoughts

  • Today is a remote learning day for both myself, Zach and Kendall. We are expecting serve weather from tropical storm Zeta to move through this afternoon. Zach is already enjoying watching the wind and rain bands move through. It is very different based on the fact that we are all working on school related task but at home. I will admit it takes the fun out of missing school but should make the schedule much easier to manage.
  • Following the storm today, it is suppose to turn much cooler.  With freezing temperatures on Sunday night and Monday night. We still have not turned on heat or air so I am hopefully to make it to at least Monday or Tuesday before needing to turn the heat on.  We are also going to have to harvest the remaining peppers and tomato from the garden. This is actually the longest that I can remember having items still growing.
  • November is a very expensive month for us. We have car insurance ($408.27), Microsoft renewal ($100), my web site renewal ($30) and the rest of Christmas presents.   Thankfully I have a ton of hours in Guam this month. I am hoping to cover most of our December Disney trip. A sad realization is that I receive a paycheck this Friday but will not receive another check until after Thanksgiving.
  • We survived our busiest week so far this year!!  I even have a list on the board of task to complete on Saturday.
  • Budget wise October has been a great month. We are at $250 for gas and $550 for groceries.  I am planning to hit my goal of paying of one credit card by the end of December.  We also should not use most of the grocery budget for November and December as our freezers are full. I am now looking a small holes such as soups for lunch and other convenient items. I have also restocked the paper supplies as well.

5 Things Friday

  1. My COVID test came back negative. This has been so stressful.  One thing that has really bothered me is the fact that we have mandated mask yet when completing contact tracing and talking about exposure, Mask DONT matter. Yeap the question is “Who have you been in closer than 6 feet contact with, with or without a mask?”
  2. Lily made another new recipe today #53 Chicken Florentine Mac and Cheese. We had to make several changes to it because we could not find the specific cheese she used but it was good!  Even Matt who does not like mac and cheese cleaned his plate.
  3. The weather has continued to be fall like which means a HUGE saving on our electric bill. If we can last a month without heat or air, it will reduce our electric bill by $100!  That is the current goal.
  4. I have focused this month on sticking to a budget and moving all excess money to our Disney Ticket fund. We need approximately  $600 to finish purchasing tickets.  My goal is to use all found money for this. Which means that if I forget to budget something like say the Amazon Prime membership. I either have to take money out of it or find it in other places.  Currently I am also trying to cover our second windshield of the year. As of today, we have $200 or 1/3 of what we need for ticket in the fund.  Which means if I can do the same we will be able to purchase these without using my Guam money! Even better both of these expenses have been covered. We are eating out less and purchasing less groceries. The fact that I am not driving to work for two weeks is also helping lower expenses.
  5. The square foot garden is hanging on. This week I have harvested green peppers, a orange pepper, pimentos and tomatoes.  I  can tell we are close to the end of the season as the tomatoes are small but still every little bit helps. I am also noticing that my sweet potato plants are starting to die out. My plan is to wait at least another week before digging them up!

5 Things Friday

  1. The weather has finally turned cooler this week. I turned off the air on Monday. The temperatures are going to take another cooler turn with highs on Sunday expected to be 63.
  2. Square foot garden- I pulled up 8 basil plants and hung in the building to start drying. I also bagged the ones that had been hanging since last fall.  I am not sure if we will use but for right now I want to save as much as possible. I am still getting a few tomato a week from the garden which is highly unusual for this late in September. Pimentos and peppers of several varieties are still growing. But by far the most exciting news of all is that we have sweet potato flowers!  I am going to leave these in the ground at least another couple of weeks before pulling up in hopes of even more flowers.
  3. Honesty disclaimer- I really debated sharing this so that is my reason for trying to hide it in number 3.  A coworker who I work in the same room with on a daily basis has tested positive for Covid-19. She texted me early this morning to let me know. I have been tested and will likely have results between Sunday and Tuesday. In the mean time, I have been advised to quarantine. The fear and stigma associated with this along with unreliable information is 100 times worse than even waiting to get my results. An example, when I spoke to my supervisor this morning, she stated that I did not need to get tested and did not need to quarantine. I chose to go ahead and get tested because of my Humira dose is due. By this afternoon, the story had changed to my co-worker could chose to get tested or just quarantine for 10 days while continuing to work remotely. But on the bright side, I will not be spending any money this weekend as I am stuck at home.
  4. My second job in Guam is starting to pick up. My goal is to work around 35 hours a week. So far I have been successful on scheduling around Zach’s baseball games.
  5. Lily will start Driver’s Education in 2 weeks!

5 Things Friday

  1. Zach starts his fall baseball season tomorrow with a pre-season tournament. This is a new team for him and lots of opportunity for growth.
  2. My personal saving challenge for the month is to save/find $369 to add one day to each of the kids tickets for December. So far I have $146 toward this goal.
  3. I am exhausted. I managed to work both of my jobs this week and I am starting to feel it. I am trying to keep my schedule a little bit flexible for Guam until getting a baseball schedule which means that I have schedule only 2 kids most night starting at 9pm.
  4. Zach and Kendall will start in person school next week on Monday and Tuesday. This will be an adventure for all. I am hopefully it will be easier to adjust than anticipated.
  5. The garden is continuing to produce just enough. We are harvesting basil, tomatoes, pimentos and peppers. I am excited to see more pepper flowers so maybe we can actually freeze some this year!

Saving on Saturday

    • We spent around 3 hours outside today working in both our flower beds and our garden!  The saving part comes in that we did not pay someone to come and do this. A second way we are saving is that by cleaning up the garden we are able to extend the growing season and continue to save on our grocery bill.  I had to take pictures just so that I could remember the differences.

Before

  • Mom and I made a trip to the Dollar Tree today. I was able to purchase new items for my sign for a total of $5.  I am so happy with the way they turned out!
  • Zach wanted Taco Bell for his birthday.  I decide to download the app in order to save time and headache for me placing such a large order. It actually worked the way it was suppose to and we have already earned two extra tacos for Free!
  • We had decided several month ago to have a much less than usual Christmas this year in order to be able to afford our trips to Disney.  I have started working on purchasing gift for the kids and I have decided that I am going to limit it to 3 gifts from Matt and I. The little ones at home will also get a Santa Claus gift but that is all!   Now to stick to this!

Five Things Friday

1. Disney was awesome!  We really enjoyed the family time together and it was a nice escape from the reality right now. It did confirm that we will be going again in both December and April regardless of the mask requirements or what is open or not.  We did miss some of the food but I think that knowing what we know now it will be better in December without any changes.

2. A  rock flew up and hit our new windshield in the van! This is the 4th different windshield in the van and the third that I have specifically paid for.  I am a lot frustrated but at least it is a relatively easy fix. The new windshield is installed in the driveway so it does not mean a trip anywhere.

3. The goal for the weekend is to tame and reclaim the garden. Between the heat and trips to Disney and the beach, the weeds are winning. I am planning to break the work in separate sessions one or two a day and hopefully by Monday it will resemble a garden again. 

4. Remote or online learning continues to be a huge challenge and struggle for us.  Matt is able to work from home a couple of days a week but it is super stressful. I am hopefully that at least soon the kids can return to school a couple of days a week for now., ANYTHING has got to be better than what we are doing now! 5. I am looking forward to the long weekend and a more normal schedule starting next week.   I don’t have another break until November so we need to get the garden and house under control.  I think I am more excited about starting a more normal routine next week with my job. It is something that has not happened since March and will provide stability!  The kids will be going to school starting in two weeks at least on Monday and Tuesday so again this will provide stability. 

5. I am looking forward to the long weekend and a more normal schedule starting next week.   I don’t have another break until November so we need to get the garden and house under control.  I think I am more excited about starting a more normal routine next week with my job. It is something that has not happened since March and will provide stability!  The kids will be going to school starting in two weeks at least on Monday and Tuesday so again this will provide stability. 

Five things Friday

  1. I survived my first full week back at work full-time (in office) and working my second job (GUAM). Guam is slowly starting to pick up and I am beginning to realize that it may be Christmas before I return to a full schedule there. I am exhausted as expected but no worse for the wear. All three kids begin some form of school next week as well. This Sunday will look alot different as we get things prepared for the week. I am so glad to have a sense of normal returning if only for 1-2 days a week.
  2. The garden is continuing to surprise me with a few tomatoes, cucumbers, and even green peppers. I honestly expected it to stop all together so this is a nice surprise and treat.
  3. In less than two weeks we will be at DISNEY!!!!! After many emails and phone calls, we were given back all the money that was stolen from our gift cards. I am super excited!!! But fully anticipate that the next two weeks will be the slowest two weeks of my life.
  4. I had anticipated spending most of tomorrow and Sunday at the pool however the weather appears to be rain rain and more rain so it may be a quiet weekend at home instead.
  5. We enjoyed a meal at home every night this week and I am enjoying the fruits of my labor from the past couple of months!

5 Things Friday

  1. Today is a happy and sad day. I return to work full time onsite starting Monday. I worked from home from March 13th until June 15th. Since June 15th, I have been on summer break. I am definitely ready for a normal routine to began but I really like my 5 minute commute from the dinning room to the office. I also have enjoyed not being dressed prior to work each day! The kids and I have stay busy this summer but all good things must come to an end.
  2. I have debated how much information to share during our COVID-19 but decided that hopefully ten years from now I will want to remember what we decided and how we coupe.
  3. School is going to look alot different this year especially to start with. Lily officially starts on August 17th with her online charter school NCVA. This will be her last year in high school as the plan is for dual enrollment starting next fall. Kendall and Zach both will attend an orientation day on August 17th. The rest of the week they will not have much work. Starting August 24th, they will complete 3 weeks of total remote learning. Then September 14th, they will begin attending school Monday and Tuesdays each week. This may or may not change depending on any decisions made by our state governor. Because I will be working onsite 5 days a week in my school system, the current plan is for Matt work from home 2.5 days a week until the kid return full-time to school.
  4. Our garden is dying. We are still getting a few tomato each day but otherwise I need to spend a good couple of hours out getting rid of anything dead. We had a garden of just enough this year. I am pleased with the extra tomatoes but everything else has just been enough to eat.
  5. I was saving money for our August Disney trip via gift cards. I had been storing the gift card numbers and combining so I would only need to carry one card. Unfortunately, the day after vacation July 27th, someone access my account, changed by password and moved $1140 to another gift card they have. I have spent several hours on the phone and multiple email later, it does not appear we will be able to recover that money. We are blessed that with some budget changes and cut backs we should still enjoy our trip but it just sucks!

Saving on Saturday

I really had not planned to take the entire week off while I was at the beach but it just so happened that way. We enjoyed lots of beach time, shopping time and pool time. I am glad to be home.

My square foot garden is producing but at a significantly slower rate than I anticipated. Our Tomatoes are starting to come in and we have lots! I used 12 pounds of tomatoes the last week we were home to make homemade pasta sauce. The kids LOVE this and request it! I have been using restaurant to go containers that we have been collect to place the sauce in and store. This makes it super easy to find and one container equals one jar of sauce. Today, we head to the garden and harvest around another 12 pounds of tomatoes. I used 8lbs along with a couple of green peppers I found to make another crockpot full of pasta sauce. We also went ahead and stewed the remaining 4 pounds. I packaged these in 1/2 cup containers. I used these for Mexican rice. Other plans this week include tomato basil biscuits, stuffed green peppers, tomato pie and tomato sandwiches. My goal will be to use as many fresh tomatoes as possible and attempted to hold off on another container of pasta sauce until next weekend.

I purchased Disney Gift cards from Target and combined to one card that we will be using on our first Disney Trip in August. I am able to save $5 for each hundred using my Target card so is an easy extra $50 just during this trip.

While reading several other blogs and in order to have a complete stockpile. I have begun to look at items other than food that we can store easily. I was able to find air filters for our heating and air system at $0.96 each at Home Depot. In order to get free shipping, I purchased 12 packs of 4.

In the area of food, I will be making a Costco trip this week and hope to be able to grab both paper towel and toilet paper at some point during the week. Zach is attending a baseball camp in Winston so I am not opposed to stopping at Costco several times this week. I also need to make a list and head to Aldi to grab so canned biscuits, pie crust and cream cheese that is significantly cheaper to purchase here.

My final area of saving my not appear to be one at first. One of the things we like to do is shop the outlets while we are at the beach. This year, Matt and I specifically talked about items we needed. We purchased new shoes for everyone and even an additional pair for both Matt and myself. We ended up spending around $30 for each pair of shoes so this is truly a huge savings. I also purchased Zach so shorts and Braxton several outfits to use my Old navy cash. The best find was probably 40oz metal water bottles for $10 each. We will definitely be using these at Disney!

  1. The garden is not producing as much as I had anticipated but it is producing just enough for us to eat! For example on Wednesday, I picked 2 cucumbers, a squash, a zucchini and couple of tomatoes. For dinner on Thursday, I combined the zucchini, squash and grilled chicken packs from the school for dinner. For lunch on Friday, four of us ate tomato sandwich! I think this is the right size garden for the future as well!
  2. We are heading to the beach in one week! I am so excited to have some really downtime with minimal expectation of effort from me! The ocean is my favorite place so there is no bad time there.
  3. We have washed 10 loads of clothes today. This includes everyone sheets and comforters! I am most excited because everything but Lily’s was hung out to dry so that we did not waste money! Bonus the sunshine smell should last a few days.
  4. Zach has had 4 baseball games this week and three are scheduled for next week. This makes for some very busy evenings! So far we have tolerated the heat ok!
  5. Sad news- I have exactly 4 weeks or one month left of my summer break! I am really enjoying sleeping late, reading books and keeping ahead of my task! I do look forward to going back to work and getting a normal routine in place if this is even possible.