Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Elementary School Fundraiser

Gosh, I can't believe it's been that long since I've posted! So sorry! I have NOT forgotten about you all, but time has a way of getting away from me, it seems.

I've been busy with the auction basket fundraiser at Son #3's elementary school. I mentioned it in last week's post. Thanks to some generous cash donations, we ended up with so many items for our auction basket that we actually split it into two. First, I have to say that I love shopping with other people's money. ;-)

We put together a traditional gardening basket, which was raffled off. In addition, we had a garden cart loaded with gardening goodies, gift certificates, etc., that was used in the silent auction. I noticed that Son #3's kindergarten teacher bid on the basket (it was her class basket). I didn't have the heart to bid against her. However, once someone else did, I figured all bets were off. The teacher did not bid again.

To make a long story short, I was the winning bidder. On one hand, I wish our item would've fetched more money. On the other hand, yay me! Since I did most of the shopping I knew what the various items cost. I figured out which items I really wanted to have and set my price. After all, I could easily purchase the items separately myself, if I didn't win.

So here's my loot:
  • garden cart (I have one, but it's pretty beat up so my sis-in-law will take my old one)
  • walking lily plant (not sure why it's named that)
  • fresh pansies
  • gardening book - specific to my state (should've bought one years ago!)
  • mosaic stepping stone kit
  • gardening hand tools for me
  • gloves for me
  • child's gardening hand tools (for Son #3)
  • child's gloves - 2 pairs
  • child's long handled rake (Son #3 and I will share)
  • child's long handled shovel
  • herb seeds
  • watering can
  • gift certificate to a restaurant
  • gift certificate for a load of soil or mulch from a local nursery
  • orange tree (which I gave to the teacher)
  • angel statue (my 3rd so my garden is looking a little cemetary-ish)

Son #3 and I are looking forward to getting started in our garden. We live in southeast Louisiana so our last hard freeze usually occurs early to mid- Feb.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It's Nice How People Come Together

Sorry I haven't posted lately. Time just got away from me. I'm the room mom for Son #3's kindergarten class. Those of you that know me well can stop laughing now. I mean it. I respect the dickens out of them, but I never considered myself one of "those" moms.

I have a friend who is one of *those* moms. In fact I call her UberMom. We're like a crimefighing superhero duo: The Adventures of UberMom and SlackerMom. I'm the SlackerMom. It's not that I'm so much a slacker but rather distracted easily.

I'm a master planner, organizer and shopper. I, unfortunately, am not the one to make creative cookies to send to school (I can do basic cupcakes, though), nor can I seem to come up with a single creative idea. Fortunately there are some semi-UberMoms that I can rely on.

Case in point. The elementary school is hosting a spaghetti dinner and basket auction on Tuesday. Each class is supposed to create a theme basket that will be auctioned off that evening to raise funds to benefit the school. I suggested the gardening theme since there are all sorts of price points (even the most economically challenged families can donate something).

I prepared a letter for the parents in the class, suggesting items that might be included, inviting them to come with their own gardening-related items (they didn't have to stick to my list), or making a monetary donation if they didn't have the time or desire to pick out an item. My letter went home two weeks ago. The donated items were to be turned in to the teacher because she had the place to store them (sending a shovel home on the bus with Son #3 would be a very bad idea).

As of Friday, we collected one $15 donation and not one single item. Yikes! One out of 20 families responded. I sent a followup reminder email to the usual group of parents - you know the ones: the very small handful who are willing to help with everything? I love them!

The reminder worked because as of today we have $206 worth of merchandise and the list continues to grow (one mom is a master fundraiser and has been able to secure donations from companies - a task I'm not comfortable with). In fact, if our total value hits $300, we'll have to split it into two baskets. That's a very nice problem to have.

Anyway, this whole project has really kept me busy. Son #3's class is really blessed to have such wonderful parents (and a really great teacher).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Looking Forward to Doing Laundry????!!!

What's happening to me? I'm actually looking forward to doing laundry! This is ironic when you consider that I didn't actually learn to do laundry until I was in my 30's. I kid you not. Oh sure, I could figure out the controls on the machine, how to sort, and how to read the detergent bottle, but I never actually did laundry.

Prior to marrying Dear Hubby, I lived with my parents so I just slid my dirty laundry into their Magic Hamper and lo and behold the Laundry Fairy would return them in a neatly folded (and ironed!) stack. If the Laundry Fairy was in a particularly good mood, she'd wave her magic wand that the garments would miraculously appear on hangers in my closet! You rock, Laundry Fairy! (Seriously. Thanks, Mom.)

Then I got married and came to the gradual realization that the Laundry Fairy -- SPOILER ALERT!! -- does not exist. While the Laundry Fairy never achieved the fame of the iconic Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy, I was nevertheless crushed.

Until I discovered that #1) Dear Hubby knows how to laundry, and #2) my new career clothes were dry clean only. So Dear Hubby fell into the role of chief laundry-doer and that continued throughout most of our professional lives. He even irons! Seriously, I love this man.

My method of dewrinkling is to spritz the garment with water and bounce it around in the dryer for a few minutes. If you pull it out at the right moment, it usually looks very good. Suitable for a stay-home mom, and the kids. If the collar of one of my kids' shirts isn't lying flat, I might use my flat iron on it but only if I happen to be doing my hair at the time.

Let's face it. I'm not going to iron pretty little creases in the boys' khaki school uniform pants knowing that they'll get wrinkled and probably dirty before they even make it to the bus stop half a block away. Dear Hubby has a different laundry work ethic (my mother would be so proud). He was in law enforcement for several years and got used to the perfect military creases in first his police uniform and now his polo shirts and khakis.

When we first moved back to our home state, we lived in a town house that had washer/dryer hookups but no washer/dryer. We used to go every Sunday to his dad's house to do laundry. (I'd help fold.) It's an etiquette thing: you don't snoop in other people's medicine cabinets and you don't open their washer and dryer. Okay, I'm grasping at straws. I admit it. For two years we did laundry at my father-in-law's house.

In 2001 we bought our current home and a washing machine and dryer. We got a pretty good deal because we went through our builder's appliance guy (no, they didn't just fall off the truck - these are the ones that the contractors get). We probably paid $270 for a super capacity GE washer. Dear Hubby and I - yes, you read that correctly - use it a lot.

It served us well until two years ago when the motor went out. Four months after the 5-year warranty expired. Go figure. The service technician came out (charged $70 just to walk in my front door), assessed the situation, and charged me for parts and labor. The replacement motor now has a warranty.

However, on Sunday, the washer began behaving peculiarly. I'm pretty sure it's not the motor. That would be too easy. Not to mention covered under the warranty. I called Monday to set up a service call and was told the earliest they could come would be Wednesday afternoon. When I thought about it, I realized that the moment the repairman steps foot into my door ($70), I will have officially paid more in service/repairs than I did for the machine itself.

Which got me to thinking. How much more money would I want to put into a very heavily used washing machine? My washer is probably the equivalent of a 2001 car with 350,000 miles on it. Or should I cut my losses and start shopping around? I did some browsing at the local appliance store.

My criteria: super-capacity, same dimensions as my current machine (I have a laundry closet in the hall so space is a concern), not belt-driven (a frequent cause of problems), a porcelain coated interior (our water is from a well and mineral deposits can discolor plastic), a decent price, decent delivery charge and haul away my old machine. I actually found a Whirlpool on sale that fit all those criteria. Decisions, decisions....

The salesguy said, "It can be delivered tomorrow." (meaning today) SOLD! Okay, I've been guilty of the occasional impulse buy. A pack of gum at the grocery, a lipgloss at Bath & Body Works... but a washing machine?? Yikes. That is sooooo not me. But neither is schlepping now 5 loads (and counting!) of dirty laundry to my sister-in-law's house.

My delivery window is between 11 am and 3 pm. It's noon now. I never thought I'd see the day where I'm looking forward to doing laundry. Oh sure, I'll moan and complain when I'm finished drying them and have to fold-but-not-iron them, but washing? Oh yeah.

On a final note, I'm knocking wood as I say this, but I'm just appalled/amazed/flabbergasted that while the washer broke twice, the dryer has never given me an iota of trouble. Not when the blue crayon melted in it. Not with all the rocks, broken buttons, sequins, bits of yarn, Legos, coins and whatever else the kids put in their pockets but I don't find when I'm sorting the laundry. Perhaps their pockets are an invisible portal to another dimension that Mommy just can't find. Payback for all the Magic Hamper years?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Resolutions, Schmesolutions!

No, I haven't given up on my resolutions. Clearly, I'm struggling with #3 (journaling/blogging more regularly). And I'm not exactly on track with #1 (continue to lose weight) - thank you, Mother! She doesn't eat sweets as a rule so she decided to share - via shipping a large box UPS - of the cookies, candies, etc., she may have received during the holiday. Everything dark chocolate has been consumed (by me) and Dear Hubby, the kids and I (mostly I) are working our way through the milk chocolate. (sigh)

Tomorrow Dear Hubby and I are going to spend the day in the Big City, playing tourist. Afterwards, we'll attend his office's post-holiday cocktail party. Definitely not a day to count Weight Watchers points. We'll stay overnight Saturday. The kids will spend the night at my father-in-law's house. It's become an anniversary tradition of sorts.

Our 18th wedding anniversary was on Sunday, January 6th. Yesterday was the 21st anniversary of when we started dating. And our best man* said it wouldn't last. ha ha.


* He actually said that to Dear Hubby's sister at our wedding. He had room to talk! His own 2 and a half year first marriage was breaking up at the time and he was chasing all of my bridesmaids. He eventually remarried, had children, divorced a second time and last we heard - back in 1999 - was engaged again. He asked Dear Hubby to be his best man at wedding #3 and then we never heard from him again. Would it be awful if I said I was somewhat relieved?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Year's Resolutions: Looking Forward

I love lists and action plans, so it's only natural that I like New Year's Resolutions. (Note: "liking" and "following" them are not the same thing.)

Here are my resolutions for 2008:

1) Continue on my weight loss quest. I'd like to lose the final 10-15 pounds. I'm going to establish mini-benchmarks along the way. For example, I'd like to lose 5 by my birthday at the end of February, another 5 by end of June and then evaluate whether or not I want to lose more.

2) Exercise at least 3 times a week. I'd like to work up to this by April 1st and maintain it as a minimum for the remainder of the year.

3) Journal or blog more regularly.

4) Read the Bible. A couple of years ago, I bought Dear Hubby a one-year Bible for a birthday gift. It gives you a daily reading comprising an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, a reading from Proverbs or Psalms, and finally a reading from one of the 7 books included in the Catholic Bible but not in the Bibles of other Christian denominations. The theory is if you spend 20-30 minutes reading the daily passage, by Dec. 31st you'll have read the entire Bible. I started it once but only made it 7 months into it. This year, I'm starting fresh and hope to finish.

5) Take 2 creative arts related classes this year. Tap into my inner artist.

I feel like I'm missing one. If it comes to mind, I'll update my post. Wish me luck!

I hope you and yours have a blessing-filled 2008!