Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Lessons Learned and People Appreciated in 2015

   The year 2015 is quickly coming to a close and I am wondering where it all went.  It seems like someone just pressed the fast forward button on a remote control on our lives and everything just sped on by.  

    One of the things I like to do at the close of each year is look back on how things went, both the good and the bad, and what lessons I learned.  I think it is good to look back, learn from our mistakes but most of all, focus on all our blessings.  So here it goes...

   Our grandsons have grown by leaps and bounds.  Bradley has developed a very keen sense of humor and sometimes it takes the adults a few minutes to figure it out. ;)  Bradley started preschool at home with Heather and is doing amazing.  The kid blows me away with all he knows. Isaiah has gone from speaking a few words to full sentences and asking some very interesting questions.  He is a sponge that soaks everything around him in.  He has also proven to be quit the imp and can hold his own with his older brother Bradley.  They have both found exactly which "buttons" to push to irritate one another. While they seen to enjoy bugging each other, they are also fiercely protective of one another if anyone else dares to do anything to hurt one of them.  They are sure keeping their parents (and us) on our toes.

   Our adult children have gone through challenges of their own and have come out stronger for it.  Chris and Josh are now both on the SWAT teams for their law enforcement agencies and have gone through lots of training this year.  Chris continues to try to figure out how the minds of his 2 young sons work while Heather for the most part holds down the fort at home with Chris being gone so much.  Heather is homeschooling Bradley and also teaching Preschool to one of her friend's daughters at the same time.  She has also taken up sewing and has made some truly beautiful things.  Josh and his girlfriend broke up, but remain friends and for that we are thankful.  They are both strong and amazing people going down different paths in life and I love that they continue to support one another.  Jaysn loves the company he and Rachel work for and is looking at different job options within the company.  Rachel has been working on a big project at work that could lead to new opportunities for her also.  Their big accomplishment this year was saving up for and buying their first home!  We are so happy for them. :)

   This year proved to be one of reconnecting or even connecting and meeting for the first time with our cousins.  My cousin Jeremy came up for a visit in late June to check the area out and stayed with us.  We all got along so well and he quickly took his place within our family.  He has now moved up to our area and we are thoroughly enjoying all our time together.  We were even able to bring the joy of Christmas back to him again. :)  I also met my cousins Marisa and Mike and their spouses at the end of the Summer and it was a dream come true for me.  I had always wanted a close relationship with more of my cousins since we all did not grow up together and this Summer, I got that chance to start the process of doing just that.  Jeff's cousin Steve, whom we had not seen for years, surprised us with a visit and it was wonderful to get caught up with him and share some memories, laugh and to just be there for one another.  My husband and I both feel so blessed to have all these cousins in our lives.

   I have had multiple health struggles over the years and this year it all seemed to come to a head.  Between what was already going on in my body and then the stress in our lives that caused further problems for me, it has been a rough one.  I stopped subbing in April hoping to give myself time to heal from it all but it seemed to just get worse.  I hit my breaking point mentally due to an ongoing extended family situation and went to a very dark place in my mind and it scared me to death.  I decided there and then that I would never allow anyone to ever "rent space in my head" like that again.  My body reacted very badly physically to all the stress and I struggled health wise for months.  I then had more female health issues come to light once again and underwent yet another ultrasound and painful biopsy before finally having a total hysterectomy, which was one of the best decisions I have ever made to have done in my entire life!  What a difference it has made.  I feel so much better now and based on all that was going on in there, I can see why I have been having all those ongoing issues since my early teens. It has also helped lessen my horrible year round allergies and my asthma is no where near as bad now.  Oh and the stressful situation in our extended family...well let's just say that the truth always has a way of coming out, even if it does take years and years to do so.  One of the best thing to come out of that is that I got to hug and talk to one of my nieces for the first time in about 4 years and tell her I love her.  Even though she lives about 25 miles away, we have been unable to see her due to the ugly family situation.  I have been praying for that moment for years now...I love that girl so much and it broke my heart not being able to be part of her life.

   I have also learned about the power of forgiveness, and of not giving up on someone when you can still see a glimmer of hope there.  Relationships that I thought might be lost for good have been restored.  I have learned the depth of the love that our family shares and once again, how awesome my parents are in coming to visit multiple times this year, including after my surgery and helping to take care of me and again, being so wonderful and generous to us when we came to visit them in Montana.  My girls, Heather and Rachel, have gone above and beyond in pitching in and helping me after my surgery and my boys were there supporting me and checking on me and reminding me to behave myself while I healed.  My hanai sister Shannon and her hubby Harold blessed our socks off time and time again with their love and support and with Shannon even coming to the hospital with Jeff and I the day of my surgery and taking such good care of us.  Heather's family, who has become our family now also, are always there to support us and we love being able to do so many things with them...they are all very caring and kind people and we love them dearly.

   Every year, when I look back, my husband is right there at the top of the list of my blessings.  When life and my health took a turn for the worse, he was the one who was constantly there, holding me up, supporting me and praying for me.  He encouraged me to step away from several situations and take the time that I needed to heal and then again encouraged me to have my surgery and take additional time to heal from that.  He held my hand while I had my biopsy, was right there with me during my ultrasound and the day of my surgery and took such good care of me.  He did all the things that I normally do around the house so I could heal, all the while still working his full time job and continuing to work on projects around our home to make it nicer for us all.  He took me to get a new fur baby to love after our Daisy cat passed away and he puts up with the antics of our new kitty Rufus who has multiple health issues and is still learning to play nice with our dog Caesar. ;)
My Jeff amazes me with the depth of his love for me and for our family and friends.  He willingly and selflessly sacrifices, without a complaint, for all of us.  I love him with everything within me and I do realize just how blessed I am to be his wife.

   So here is to saying goodbye and thank you to 2015 for lessons learned, the start to being healthier both mentally and physically and for wrapping up the year on a positive note.  I'm looking forward to what 2016 has in store for us, starting with a visit from our son Josh!  I can't wait to have all my kids together again and for Josh and my cousin Jeremy to finally get to meet.  Onward and upwards!



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Frugal Doings In December

In an effort to really see how much I can save by living frugally, I have once again started to track my savings by making things myself, shopping deals and shopping at the thrift stores.  I have to say that it really has been eye opening for me.  Here is a list of some of the ways I have saved:

~my hubby and I cut each others hair, savings of at least $35
~we went out to lunch at Olive Garden using gift cards I earned through Swagbucks and MyPoints...cost to us $4 to help cover part of the tip that was not covered by the gift card
~found a pair of new Carhartt heavy duty jeans for $15 at the thrift store for my hubby
~bought some dvd sets, That Girl Season 1 and Mary Tyler Moore Season 1 for $3 each, some crystal glassware for .25 each, and some more nice clothing at the thrift stores
~pineapples were on sale for .99 each (that is a steal) and I got 4 of them, I cut up and froze 2, ate 1 fresh and gave the other one to our Heather who loves pineapple and so do the munchkins
~found some great deals on fabric
~used a B1G1F coupon to get Blizzards at Dairy Queen as a treat for Jeff and I
~made many loaves of sourdough bread in our breadmaker
~made 12 loaves of banana bread, 8 loaves of cranberry orange bread and 3 batches of Peppermint Bark candy to give as Christmas gifts
~I bought 2 books and 3 dvds from the library books sale, 2 of the dvds were brand new double feature Harry Potter movies...all of this for a grand total of $3.50
~we got some free groceries while doing our volunteer work
~I found mushrooms on sale and sauteed them and then froze them for future meals
~made a huge batch of homemade pancake mix
~free magazines came in the mail
~bought a bunch of marked down meats (1/2 price) and froze them
~watching movies and reading books we borrowed from the library
~found a brand new Rick Steves DVD boxed set for $5.50 that I will be giving to my hubby as a Christmas gift
~made some homemade maple pancake syrup
~used up the odds and ends of bread to make more croutons
~bought Prosecco on sale for $5.99 a bottle (regular price $18.99 each)
~organizing our chest freezer with milk crates I bought for $1.99 each at Goodwill and small bins I bought for $1 each at the Dollar Tree store
~trying my best to plan our meals around what we have on hand and using things up before they go bad
~doing my different points programs and cashing in for gift cards (so far I have cashed in for about $180 this month alone)
~we went out to eat with the kids the other night and each family bought one of their "box" meals for $10...it included a pizza, breadsticks and cinnamon dessert breadsticks, one of the cheapest meals we have had in a long time eating out
~sending out Christmas cards that I bought on clearance in bulk years ago at .25 a box
~using out hot tub more now that I am healed up from surgery...it is like taking a mini vacation
~using SKYPE to chat with our son Josh
~watching shows online that we do not get with our current DISH package or ones we have missed
~learning new skills by watching tutorial videos on YouTube

I'm currently looking forward to the after Christmas clearance sales where I will be using some of my gift cards to purchase things we need or gift worthy items to add to our gift closet.  Another thing I look forward to is shopping the thrift stores in late December and early January as people clean out their closets and homes and donate things so they can get the tax write off.  I am always amazed at how many new with tag things I find during that time and I suspect some were Christmas gifts that did not fit or that someone did not care for.

Happy Frugal Days!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Baby it's Blizzard like and Blustery Outside

  The weather outside is frightful...and no, I am not singing "let it snow, let it snow, let is snow", although I am dreaming of a White Christmas. 

   Right now the winds are howling and the snow is coming down sideways.  We had quite a bit of snow earlier and then it rained and a lot of it melted off.  The everything froze again and now we are getting more snow on top of that making for very treacherous roads.  Since my husband is a freight delivery driver and has to be out on these roads at night, I am worried.  Oh, and did I mention our son Chris is a police officer in the next county over and is out working on these roads tonight as well.  Double the worry. 

   I really enjoy the snow as long as I know that my loved ones are safe, and home, an have power so we don't all freeze.  Is this to much to ask?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Bowling with the Grandbabies!

   Jeff was on vacation last week so we decided at the last minute to call Chris and Heather and see if they wanted to go bowling on Friday afternoon.  Everyone, including the grandsons, loves to bowl and Grammie, well I enjoy watching! ;)  We were so happy they said yes and we all got ready quickly and met at the bowling alley for some fun!

Isaiah using the ramp and getting some encouragement from his daddy.

Heather, Isaiah and G-pa watching Bradley bowl.

Isaiah sitting on his daddy's lap and checking out the scores...hmmm, looks like Isaiah is beating Daddy. :)

Don't worry, despite the drunken look on his face, it was only water.  LOL!

Bradley was thrilled that he was beating Daddy at bowling!

This talented kid can turn anything into a jungle gym, including the swivel chairs.

Please forgive the red eyes in this. Grammie forgot to edit the pictures before sharing.

The final score...the grandsons beat their Daddy and I will bet they are not going to let him forget it for a very long time. ;)

Monday, December 7, 2015

My Christmas Gift from My Hubby

My kitchen floor had endured some really rough usage.  Things had been dropped on it and it had gouges and scrapes.  It was even chipping up in some areas.

Hubby asked what I wanted for Christmas and I told him I wanted a new kitchen floor.  He got busy taking all the old flooring up.

Rufus decided to supervise to make sure that Daddy did it correctly.

It was quite the mess.  He got it cleaned up and then he primed the floor so that the new tiles would stick better.

He measured everything, drew out a grid pattern and made a spacer jig so that all the tiles would be evenly spaced out.  The pillow is there to make it easier on his knees when he laid down the tiles.

And here it is all grouted and only needing the wood trim pieces put on the edges now.  He just finished making all those pieces and they are now painted and drying in the garage.  He'll get them put on later this week.  Thank you Jeff for my beautiful new kitchen floor...I love it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When Holidays Bring Sadness and Pain

   Be warned, this is not going to be a "feel good" post so if you are expecting that or don't want to read about this topic, please feel free to click out of this window now.  I won't be hurt or offended in the least. ;)

   Several of my friends have been sharing how the holidays bring on great sadness or pain for them.  Whether it be due to a loved one's passing that has left a huge hole in their heart and knowing they will not be there to celebrate with you, a "lost" child, family members who cannot get along, financial hardships or the loneliness of spending the holidays alone with families being so spread out and busy these days.  I understand that pain and can fully relate to it.  I've been there.

    The first time was when I was a sophomore in college.  I and my parents were not able to afford for me to come home from Idaho to Hawaii for Christmas that year.  It was the first Christmas that I had ever not spent with my family and I knew that it would be my grandmother's last Christmas here in earth.  My roommate and I had bought a "Charlie Brown special" tree before she left to go home and spend Christmas with her family.  My mother, trying to bring some comfort and a bit of "home" to me, sent me all the ornaments that she had given me over the years so that I could decorate that tree with something familiar.  I had upcoming Spring semester tuition bills to pay so I worked the entire Christmas break that year.  I did have a friend who was also "stuck" in town over Christmas and he and I tried to make the best of it, but both of us ended up cuddled up together on Christmas eve and day with tears streaming down our faces.  He and I were both missing our loved ones terribly but I am thankful that at least we had each other.  Thank you Larry, wherever you are.

   One of my sons is in the military.  Josh is really good about trying to make it home for the holidays when he can, but that does not always happen.  I remember the first Christmas he spent away from home and I was miserable without him.  Up until then, our family had always been together for Christmas and it just was not the same without my Josh.  I honestly tried to find joy that year but would break into tears when I thought about my son so far away.  He was all I wanted for Christmas...not pretty wrapped up packages, parties, or anything else, just my son.  My husband and I both cried that Christmas...a lot.  We have since learned to deal with those feelings but this mom, as much as I understand that he can't make it home and that it is not his choice, still misses him terribly.  This year we are hoping to see him sometime after the new year starts...we will celebrate a late Christmas with him then.  That will be my favorite gift this year!

   That brings us to families that cannot seem to get along.  I know that some families will get together, hurtful things will be said and done and Christmas will be ruined.  Be there too and have the emotional scars to prove it.  Even worse though is when family members choose to exclude others and force the remaining family and friends to "choose sides".  This has been the most hurtful of all for us because it is the calculated deliberate, mean spirited way in which it is done.  Those people doing this know it will cause great pain and that is their goal.  This can go on all year long, but they seem to ramp it up during the holidays.  We have been dealing with this for years with certain extended family members and as a dear friend, who is also dealing with something similar, just said to me yesterday, families are not supposed to be like that, they are supposed to love you, not shut you out and turn their backs on you.  She is right.  Unfortunately though, some people do not think or act in a kind, thoughtful manner because they are too wrapped up in their own little world and agendas.  Last year was the absolute worst of all and it nearly destroyed our relationship with someone who was manipulated by those that are hell bent on severing everyone else in the family's ties to us. It has taken us an entire year to try to undo the damage that was done and to be completely honest, there were times when we almost gave up.  The toll it took on us physically and emotionally was huge.  I am so thankful for the close and loving relationship that we had with our immediate family, my parents and siblings and close friends that got us through.

   So yes, I do understand.  My son Josh will not be home for Christmas this year but we will celebrate later with him, and the extended family drama continues to this day, but we refuse to play into it.  Who knows if we will be spending any time with that part of the family this year...that is up to them and is still up in the air at the moment.  However, I am going to focus on my grandchildren, grown children and other family and friends and try to not stress about the rest.  I refuse to let anyone steal my joy this season. 



Very Content Fur Babies

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Very Productive Day

   It has been a very productive day around here.  I probably have gotten more done today alone than I have in the last 6 weeks combined.  I have my 6 week post op follow up on Wednesday and I am hoping and praying I can be cleared to us our hot tub again...after a day like today I need it!

This is a list of what I accomplished today:

~made a double batch of turkey shepherds pie filling, and yes, I realize I spelled it wrong on my container...I blame the lack of coffee and being very tired at this point on that mistake
~made some sourdough bread
~washed 5 delicate items by hand and got those hung up to dry on the drying rack that I set up in our guest bathroom bathtub
~cleaned out the drain in the guest bathroom sink

~got our new small fiber optic Christmas tree set up on the pellet stove, I still need to decorate it.  So far all it seems to do is make the cat sleepy when he looks at it. Yay!
~made some yaki soba for lunch with some of the leftover turkey and lots of veggies
~cleaned the kitty litter box

~started to decorate the garland above the old china cabinet 
~took down and put away the Fall decorations
~got a garlic and herb pork roast going in the crockpot
~did 3 loads of laundry
~worked on my points programs

   While I did all that, my amazing hubby was caulking the tiles on the kitchen floor.  Please excuse the mess on the kitchen counters.  We had to unload things off the top of the refrigerator and put them on the counters.  Didn't he do a great job?  I'm loving it!  Tomorrow we will get the refrigerator moved back into the kitchen and the counters cleaned back off.

   I still have a few things on my "to do" list but I am really tired out now and my shoulder muscles are aching.  I think I will just fold the last 2 loads of laundry and read for awhile.

Be blessed!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Frugal Doings for the Second Half of November

   Thanksgiving is now behind us and now we have the lead up to Christmas.  Jeff and I had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  My cousin Jeremy invited us over and prepared a wonderful meal that was just delicious.  We contributed garlic green beans and a nice pie, but he did the majority of the work.  Our son Chris stopped by for a few minutes and it was nice to visit with him also.  
   Now, onto the frugal doings around here over the past few weeks:

~Jeremy sent us home with lots of delicious leftovers
~I have been using the leftovers to create new meals like a green bean and turkey casserole

~Jeff is redoing our kitchen floor and it is looking great
~working at my Swagbucks points programs and cashing in for more gift cards
~used the Walmart gift cards to buy groceries
~cleaned out my closets and had the girls go through and take what they wanted
~bought a brown full sized flat sheet and wrapped the foam pad that is under the cushions on the couch 

~bought some birthday cards at the Dollar Tree
~found Isaiah a second pair of snow bibs (brand new) and some nice warm gloves for Bradley at the thrift store
~got some free magazines in the mail
~made a big pot of chili and served it over rice

~putting leftover coffee in a nice insulated carafe to keep it hot
~borrowing more books and movies from the library
~moved the cars so they would not be hit with falling branches during our wind storm
~baked some treats
~made a tray full of hamburgers in the oven

~got some free groceries while doing our volunteer work
~won several free packages of candy
~SKYPEd with Josh
~got in on a deal to get the Minions movie for free
~making some homemade citrus cleaner with citrus peals and vinegar

   ~printing out coupons and using them at the grocery store to get free products and discounts
~taking the dog for a walk so we get some exercise and so does he
~making bread in the breadmaker
~freezing leftovers for future meals

~getting a free 8x10 photo from Walgreens
~trying to combine errands and not use my car too much
~doing the paperwork to get me on the same health insurance that Jeff is on through his work...this will save us so much money in the long run and is a much better policy than what I have now and what my current health insurance company wants me to switch to since they are dropping my plan
~doing lots of hand washing of my sweaters and using a very concentrated cleaner that only takes a little to clean your clothing

~skipped the Black Friday sales since I shopped ahead of time and got better deals that way
~watching some of our favorite Christmas shows on TV
~learning new skills by watching YouTube videos
~using some of our garden produce that we harvested and froze earlier this year in our meals now

  So many of the things that I listed I do on a regular basis and I am always trying to find new ways to save.  Any suggestions?