Living A Simplified Life!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Great Website to Share

I came across a really neat website that I want to share with you.
It is called Alice and it has all kinds of grocery items and they deliver to your doorstep! Do you hate to clip coupons?  Alice even does that for you too!

Check it out I was amazed at the variety of items they have and the fact that you only have to order 6 things at a time and your shipping is free!There are items there for every room in your home, including the garage and your office. Even pet food for your cat or dog. What a great idea especially for the elderly who may not have a car to get too and from the store and have to depend on others to get them there, or as in our case here the past few days in Oklahoma, with the heavy snow storms and the roads iced over and extremely slippery.

I can see this site as a great money saver and time saver for many, because there is even a section there where you can list how often you run out of things and they will remind you!

I have browsed through the different sections and have been comparing prices and there some terrific savings to be had!

Or as in our case here the past few days in Oklahoma, with the heavy snow storms and the roads iced over and extremely slippery.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

We Got Snow!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Here is a picture of what our little city looked like as the storm blew into Oklahoma! Whiteout conditions, 50 mph winds which started with rain and sleet and then turned into snow.  By the time Christmas morning came, this is what we woke up to

 Some brave souls actually attempted to drive in this
Depending on where you live you woke up to between 12 and 14 inches of this white fluffy stuff!

Looks pretty doesn't it?

Thank you Annie for some great photos
I just had to share them with others so they can see how pretty all this looks!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's Grand to be Great!

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would live long enough to be a Great Grandma! I would have settled for just being able to live long enough to see each of my grandchildren grow to maturity and have the opportunity to see what they do with their lives.

December 18th, one of my granddaughter's made me a Great Grandma! Her little boy weighed in at 6lbs 12 ozs. He was a little early, they said he would be born at the end of the month rather than in the middle, but you know babies, they make their entrances when they think they should!  He did have some complications. They had to put him on oxygen for awhile and then transport him to a larger hospital to their NICU unit because of some additional medical problems.  So if you would please keep this little guy in your prayers I would surely appreciate it.  They named him Rhett, which is his daddy's middle name. I have a feeling it is a family name that has been carried down from generation to generation.

I made cookies last night and then marshmallow fudge today and did it ever turn out yummy!  All I know is I'd best get it wrapped up fast before I end up eating it all. Otherwise I see a holiday weight gain of at least 10 lbs that will take me forever to get rid of!

I also made 8 mini-loaves of banana bread to be given as gifts. They all turned out really nice and have been wrapped and all I need now are some pretty bows to go on top.

Tomorrow I will line the wicker sleighs with wax paper and saran wrap and fill them to the brim with spice cookies and chocolate cookies filled with chocolate chips. My daughters are really going to love me, I am going to have my grandchildren on such sugar highs they are going to be bouncing off the walls for weeks!

Tomorrow I have to also make some regular fudge, the recipe is posted over to the side of the blog. I was in a panic earlier today because I had picked up several cans of evaporated milk, thinking all my recipes I was making called for it, where as the regular fudge calls for condensed milk. So I got on the internet and checked to see if I could substitute one for the other.  I know that evaporated milk is not as thick and creamy as condensed, but I was figuring maybe there would be just a reduced amount that you should use in order to substitute. I learned that you can actually make evaporated milk into condensed milk by adding sugar and heating the mixture to reduce the water content. I have added this handy tip over on the side of the blog.Otherwise the advice was NOT to just substitute one for the other since they vary in sweetness and density of liquid.

It looks like at least parts of Oklahoma are going to get a slightly white Christmas! We are expecting some snow here in Oklahoma in the next 24-48 hours, with the upper part of the state receiving more than the central and southern sections. There is still a very good chance that we could get 1-2 inches of accumulated snow down into the central section of the state, with blustering winds and cold temperatures for at least several days.I will need to remember to "drip the faucets" if the temperatures stay below freezing for at least a 24 hour period. Nothing worse than busted water pipes on a holiday!

But before the snow arrives, we are expecting some thunderstorms and rain which will then turn into snow flurries, so driving could be quite hazardous. If you are traveling into Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado or the Texas panhandle, please be sure to check your local weather reports for those areas ahead of your trip. We want everyone to have a safe and happy Christmas.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Getting Ready For The Holidays

Like most everyone else, my house has been a flurry of activity, getting ready for the holidays. At least I finally have some decorations up around the house and the wreath on the front door and the porch post trimmed with a pine garland and some ornaments!

Do I have gifts wrapped yet? Nope not a one!  I am in the process of still making many of my handmade gifts for this year. Luckily most of it will be done in the kitchen, in the form of cookies and candy which will hopefully go quickly.

I do have one tradition, where each year I give my grandchildren their own ornament to go on the tree. Some years they are purchased ornaments and other times they are handmade ones. Hopefully they will be taken care of and when they are grown up and ready to leave home and do a tree of their own, their parents will give them the ornaments that their Grandma has given them over the years. I am hoping that this will be a way for them to remember me long after I am gone.

This year, I am taking purchased ornaments and I am going to personalize them by doing their names on them in a monogram design with the year beneath it.

Besides a new granddaughter added this past month, I also now have a great grandson born just yesterday. Guess Grandma better hurry up and get busy, only a few more days and it will be Christmas Eve!

Wishing each and every one of you a blessed and safe holiday.
Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What's In Your Stocking?

In our family it was always a tradition to have stockings hung to be filled by "Santa" and these were the first thing that one could open on Christmas morning. The stocking would contain an assortmant of wonderous little gifts, all depending on their ages, from little cars and crayons to hard candies and gum. As they got older the contents changed. Little did I know how much my oldest son recalled what was in there!

One year, after he had grown up and moved out on his own, I sent him a Christmas stocking in the mail. I get this phone call "Where's my Whitman's sampler? My mini flashlight?  My toothbrush and little tube of toothpaste? "  Ok, so I substituted Russell Stover, no big deal. As for the flashlight and the toothbrush and toothpaste, well, I figured he would much more appreciate some shaving cream, a razor and a nice bottle of men's cologne. At least I left in the packages of gum and the orange! I learned not to mess with tradtions.

My tree was always adorned with handcrafted decorations that my children made at school. Even though I don't put up a big tree any more, I still have many of those ornaments that I have wrapped lovingly in tissue paper, stored in a box. I probably should give them to my children to put on their own trees.

When my children were little, the Christmas tree always went up on December 1st so that we could enjoy it a long time and then came down on January 2nd. There were challenges when they were toddlers as to how to keep them from "undecorating" the tree, as they were fascinated by all the ornaments and lights. Back then all I could do was put chairs around the tree, with the seats facing the tree, or plunk them into a playpen if they were still of that age to do so.  Nowadays, they have those plastic paneled play yards that you can open up and that is what my daughters use to keep their little ones away from the tree.

Now that I have grandchildren and I have started a new tradition with them. Every Christmas, I give them an ornament to go on the Christmas tree. Some have been purchased and others have been handmade ornaments.

What traditions have you started with you family? Do you go to church on Christmas Eve? Get together to sing Christmas Carols or go caroling through your neighborhood? Have certain decorations that you always put up no matter what?  Do you make cookies and candies special for the holidays?

If you don't have a tradition, start one, you will be surprised on the impact that it has on your family.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Misdiagnosing Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia

I know that as a senior citizen, I used to worry about heart disease as being my cause of death since it is what killed many in my family, but I have since worried more about Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia because I would not remember my children, grandchildren or friends. To become so isolated within one’s own body, to where you would not be aware of your loved ones or your surroundings or the present time in your own life terrifies me!

Now that being said, there seems to be a great rush to conclusions today about the state of mind of our seniors. We are quick to put a label of these two diseases upon someone because they are starting to forget things such as eating, to pay bills, where they placed their car keys or where they were going. If you actually take time to look at some of the younger generation, say those in their 30‘s to 50’s you will see that they are actually doing the same forgetful things, but it ends up being shrugged off as happening because they are “pre-occupied, too much multi-tasking and too hectic or stressful life.” So do others think that just because we have turned 60ish that we are all at once removed from this hectic life style because we are now of retirement age? I think not, in fact we are probably a lot more stressed now that we are retired than we were when we were working!

Now that one is about to retire, or has retired, the very first thing that comes into consideration is “what am I now going to do with all this time I have to enjoy my golden years?” I know when I was younger, I really looked forward to the day when I would be able to retire, to sit back, relax, go on trips, go visit my kids and play with my grandchildren whenever I wanted to! I could take my time doing things, no more wearing a wrist watch and having to worry about schedules. By the way, that was the first thing I ditched when I retired….. Got rid of the blasted watch! I soon learned that the golden years aren’t what they were cracked up to be! You thought you were going to be able to retire but instead you are continuing to have to work, even if it is just on a part time basis and it isn’t easy to find work when you are of retirement age.

We also worry a lot about finances. I know that in my particular case, I was so busy supporting and raising four children almost all of their lives by myself and with no child support from their father’s (back then there wasn’t the court enforcement the way there is today) that I didn’t have enough money to set aside for my retirement. I worked quite a few different jobs over the years, never staying with a company long enough to have a 401K or retirement program set up through the company that I worked for. Consequently, now that I am retired, I have only my Social Security and what little else I can earn on the side by continuing to work, as my only source of income. This does make for a very stressful situation, since it seems there is no end to the continual rise in prices for every day necessities such as food, electricity, gas, insurance for both house and car, car tags etc. I can say that I am fortunate enough to have my car paid for but not my house, so there is that expense also, but it is still cheaper than trying to live in an apartment. I also pay my portion of the Part D Medicare, not asking for that to be paid for me.

Like many seniors, I enjoy being independent and not having to avail myself of the social welfare services of asking for assistance with my every day living expenses, although if things continue as they are, I may end up having to humble myself and apply for some assistance. Our generation is a proud generation, having been raised that you take care of yourself, you don’t ask the government for help. For some reason, the younger generation seems to think that they are entitled to all kinds of government assistance and I have to wonder where that mindset came from. Surely all of us as parents didn’t impart that to our children, that they are owed assistance from the government or from other people for that matter. You do for yourself or you do without is what I always learned.

Children, if you happen to notice that your elders seem to be exhibiting the signs of Alzheimer’s or Dementia, please start looking at their situation more closely before you put that diagnosis on them. Maybe what you are seeing is nothing more than financial and emotional stress rather than those dreaded diseases. Remember your parents are proud and they don’t want to ask you for assistance after all, a parent is supposed to help their children, not the other way around!

Here are some signs you need to look for that could be the signs of financial and then consequently emotional distress rather than actually being sick with Alzheimer’s or Dementia or it could actually be signs of those diseases as well. Look beyond the possibility of being sick!

Your parent is more reclusive than they once were. This can be a sign of not having enough money for gas to put into the car to come visit you, or enough money to pay for the insurance or the current car tags. It can also be a sign of depression which comes with not getting out in the sunshine or being with other people. This is one reason a circle of friends, family and church are very important especially at this age. Keeping active, sharing thoughts and times with others helps keep seniors young.

Sudden changes in their eating habits. They no longer eat meat, a variety of fruits and vegetables, or large meals any more. Look beyond the statement of “I am dieting, or I have become a vegetarian.“ Perhaps they just can’t afford to purchase the groceries needed to provide them with a good variety of food items.

They have upped their use of vitamins, holistic medicine alternatives, natural cures for illnesses. Truly they may be serious about wanting to take better care of their bodies but maybe they can’t afford to go to the doctor or pay for their medications

They tell you they don’t watch much TV any more. Could it be that they no longer have electricity?

They are giving up their telephone? They can’t afford the monthly bill.

They are keeping the house warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter than they have in the past? They are trying to conserve on cooling and heating costs.

Are their personal hygiene habits faltering? Dishes piled up in the sink or lots of dirty laundry around? It could be they are without water, trying to conserve on water, or the washer or dishwasher is broken!

How often do you go and actually check on your parents? Do you talk to them more by phone rather than visiting them in their homes? Have you looked inside their refrigerator or cupboards to see how well their cupboards are stocked? Have you checked to see that they have electricity or heat if they use gas furnaces? Have you flipped a light switch or changed the thermostat setting? What about the water, have you run the tap?

Now if you go into their home and see it in total disarray, filthy dirty, unopened mail, stacks of papers everywhere and not filed away, having to make pathways through the house to get from one end to another, then you need to be worrying. I have a friend who has been telling me for over 20 years now that she is getting organized and according to her caretaker she still has tons of cardboard boxes full of papers! Now granted, she is a writer, but I know for a fact that she has umpteen copies of the same manuscript because she keeps revising and revising and never throws out the old copies. It is the same way on her computer!

Overstocked cupboards with items that they would not normally stock up on (like 10 cans of baking soda or 20 bottles of wine) you need to be concerned. Purchases of items that they normally wouldn’t buy or making investments that they normally wouldn’t make, it is time to worry.

I can tell you that you will need to be subtle about doing this, otherwise your parent will become paranoid and you may be in for a tongue lashing….. “What are you doing checking up on me? Don’t you think I can take care of myself?” Where in reality maybe they can’t or they are too proud to tell you that they are in need of financial assistance.

If you notice they are struggling, perhaps you can offer assistance to them without them even realizing you are doing so. Drop by one day with a bag of groceries and fresh fruits and lots of canned goods and staple items. “ Oh I went shopping and found some great bargains and overbought! I thought you could use these I’d hate to have them go to waste and I don’t have room to store it all.”

“I thought I’d just come on by and mow your yard for you…. It’s been too hot for you to get out and do it, or it’s been too wet and hard to push the mower” are good excuses to help them with yard work. Perhaps bring over some pretty flowers to plant or weed killer to get rid of the weeds in the yard.

“You are always helping me, so I thought today I would come over and repay the kindness and love you have shown me” as a way to help with the housework. What parent could say no to you when you say something like this?

If you have really evaluated the situation and are sure that it isn’t just circumstances that have caused your parent to be in the position that they are in, then it is time to get a medical evaluation and face the situation together. Remember that parent who is losing control of their life and their memory is very frightened inside and will do the very best they can to not only hide the fact that they are getting confused and forgetful, but will do everything in their power to cover it up and hide the truth from you. They realize that eventually they will be all alone, trapped inside their body with no connections to the ones they love and who love them. Reassure them now while you can, that you are going to always be there for them and will always love them no matter what.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all had time to spend the day with family and friends and gave thanks for all the blessings that you have. This year, some of us may be experiencing what we consider to be "hard times" but even in the midst of it we still have so much to be grateful for.

We had a great time, since my son was able to come up from Texas and spend the day with us and didn't have to return to "Hookem Horns" land until today, Black Friday!
He had a great time with his nieces and nephews, teaching them how to use a metal detector. Kept them occupied for at least a couple of hours, which is saying a lot since they all ranged in age from 5 to 11 and the attention spans vary so much at those ages!

He also got a chance to see the newest addition to the family, little Allison!

My daughter truly amazes me! I can't believe that she felt up to entertaining about 12-14 people at her home just 21 days after giving birth to a baby! I did a lot of the grocery shopping for the get-together but she did most of the preparation and cooking! I did go out to the house on Wednesday and helped her get the house ready and prepared a few dishes but the majority of it she did herself.

From a great grandmother (who still drives by the way) who came down from Oklahoma City, two grandmothers and a grandfather, a brother, a sister and two brothers in law, two rambunctious two year olds, a five year old, two 9 year olds and an eleven year old and a three week old baby who was in the midst of all this, who either slept, ate, or was quiet the entire time! What a crew!

We gathered together to say a blessing before we sat down to eat. As I listened to my son-in-law, his words really touched my heart as he gave thanks not only for the food that was there to nourish our bodies, but thanks for being able to join together in love and fellowship with our families.

I looked at the faces of those of us who have many years of living behind us now, our wrinkled faces that have seen so much history in the making over the years of our lives. Then I looked at my children who are now in the midst of raising their own families, going through similar experiences that we, the older generation, went through, even though they are different to some degree. Then I looked at the faces of my grand children, full of carefree expectations of what lies ahead for them, basically not worrying about tomorrow, only today.

I looked over at Great Grandma, knowing that she had lived during the Great Depression of the 1930's. I so wanted to go over and visit with her, to learn more about what that generation had to go through, but I couldn't disturb her; watching her holding her great granddaughter in her lap, just gazing at this child as if in total wonderment and awe of this blessed child. Little Allison who we are so fortunate to have with us after three months of Heather being on bed rest to keep her from being born too soon. She truly is a miracle child! When you see a moment like that, you realize that whatever you have to struggle to go through, it is all worth it!

So no matter what your situation is at the present time, don't look at what you don't have, look at what you do have. You have your health, your family and friends, the wonderment of a new life and the next generations to follow. Let their excitement and adventure of each new day bring you a sense of encouragement, hope and faith that we can and will overcome all obstacles. That we will see the light at the end of the tunnel before too long and then there will be a rainbow!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Granddaughter Has Arrived

Sorry to be so late on bringing everyone up to date, been a might busy around here lately!

Little Allison Grace has arrived.... all 8 lbs 1 oz of her! She's healthy, got a great set of lungs on her when she is hungry or wet and a very good baby per her mom!

There were many prayers said over this little gal, since she was 23 weeks in the making! My daughter was required to go on bed rest just before all this project started on the house. The Doctor was actually very surprised that she made it to her projected induction date. Delivery went quick and easy and for that we are all thankful and blessed.

I am working now on getting all the little odds and ends done around here that were not in the contracted work. The laundry room has been painted and I am working on the baseboards in the living room. I should have those done this weekend.

The other day when it was so nice out, I went out and scraped down the paint on the patio beams that need to be painted. If weather continues to be nice this next week, I will get that done before winter sets in.

The old utility room out on the patio, where the dryer used to be, has now all been reorganized and is neat and tidy. A good place to put the lawnmower and a bunch of things that can be stored outside.

I am going to take one of the pieces of plywood that is left over and put it up across the rafters in the new laundry room attic access and store some things up there! I am not going to know what to do with all this new found space.

Would you believe I actually hung pictures on the wall in my laundry room? It really makes it feel very cozy in there! I also moved a bunch of my craft supplies out there on shelving, which is great. There are also other shelves out there now too for canned goods for a pantry area and I won't have to use my kitchen cupboards for that any more. There is also room to store big things like the soup pot, crock pot and the electric skillet. What seemed like a really large room has shrunk in size once all the shelves have been put in place and I still have more to go, to be hung on the wall over the washer to store detergent and laundry supplies on.

I also need to work on sanding down the top edge of the bedroom closet door, it is still sticking because of the house settling. It will be nice to be able to shut it and know that I can also get it back open. Gotta love the Oklahoma clay soil, it causes all kinds of settling problems with your house.

The front flower beds are still naked as a jay bird since we pulled out all the ivy that was once again attempting to climb up the front of the house. If I don't hurry up and get some perennial bulbs planted in there before winter sets in, I will have to wait till spring and go from there. I am having a horrible time trying to decide what flowers I want in there. Since I am partial to pink, lavender and purple, I am sure that will be the colors I will pick to go in there against the red brick.

If anyone has some good suggestions of what to plant I would love to hear from you. Central Oklahoma is zone 7A and I love flowers and bushes of all kinds. The front of the house faces North so the flowerbeds get only partial sun in the afternoons. I am looking for plants that I can plant once and forget! I am not one to do annuals.

It's A Wrap!

All the work is done and I have signed the final papers to release the rest of the construction costs of the repairs.

Now I have to finish up my part, which is the painting of the baseboards in the family room area and the patch on the wall in the bathroom where they had to readjust the light switch after installing the GFI outlet.

This may all have to take a backseat for at least a couple of days because my granddaughterr is scheduled to be born tomorrow, November 4th!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Construction Has Been Completed!

It's A Wrap!

All the work is done and I have signed the final papers to release the rest of the construction costs of the repairs.

Now I have to finish up my part, which is the painting of the baseboards in the family room area and the patch on the wall in the bathroom where they had to readjust the light switch after installing the GFI outlet.

This may all have to take a backseat for at least a couple of days because my granddaughter is scheduled to be born tomorrow, November 4th!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Blog

I just want you all to know that I have started another blog.
This one is called Working in Your Jammies! It is for all you people who may be wanting to learn about working from the comfort of your home.

With this downturn in our economy, which doesn't look like it is going to be any better for quite awhile, many people are looking for part time work or for the chance to work from home. This could be either on a temporary basis while they are trying to get back into the regular workforce or something that they have desired to do for a long time.

There is nothing like being your own boss!

So check out the other blog and let me know what you think of it.

The Final Week

We have wrapped up the final week of work on the house. Not to bad, only 14 days past the projected finish date! With all the rain that we have had, it is a wonder we finally finished.

This was the week of where all the odds and ends, the final "punch list" items were completed.

The gutter company did come out on Friday and installed the gutters, but forgot that there were to be leaf screens put on them, so they do have to come back and do that.

I also noticed that the fellas forgot to put my house numbers back up on the porch post, but hey, I can still sling a hammer with the best of them so I can put those back up!

I started moving some of the shelf units back into the laundry room yesterday. I need to wash them down good and organize them.

Now I need to get myself in gear and finish up the very last of the painting in the laundry room and hope that I don't run out of paint!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Men really are from Mars and Women from Venus

I swear, as long as I have lived and have had men in and out of my life, I am beginning to think that most of them are made from the very same mold! At least when it comes to communication skills that is.

"We'll be there to work tomorrow" .... well does that mean at 8AM or 10AM or more like 1PM?

When they show up, most of the time they don't ring the door bell to let me know that they are here. All of a sudden I hear noises out on my patio and look out the window to catch a glimpse of one of them laying down their utility bag! It's just a good thing that I'm not a gun-toten' granny or they would end up with buckshot in their behinds! A shoot first, ask questions later type of gal!

Then of course when they leave, do I ever hear "good bye" or a word as to if I am gonna see them tomorrow or several days from now? They just quietly pack up their things and steal away. At least the do lock the back door!

If I sound angry, I really am not, I just have to laugh because I keep telling my daughters that they have to TELL their husbands what they want done around the house, or the help that they need with the children. Don't expect them to be mind readers because they aren't, they are totally clueless unless you explicitly tell them!

When we started this project, I did make it clear to the General Contractor that communication with me was of paramount importance because I have a daughter who is having a difficult pregnancy and I will need to go out and help her and may need to be called away at a moment's notice. Evidently that communication went by the wayside as it went down the chain of command! I guess tomorrow me and the crew are gonna have a little talk here as to what is expected in the way of communication!

As you can tell, we are running over schedule, they were supposed to be done with this project yesterday. I continue to try to be patient realizing that you have to work around other projects and the rains.

Quite a bit was accomplished today with extra workers here to assist with the painting of the primer coat on the outside of the house. Part of the new utility closet for the water heater was constructed and they did get the washing machine moved so that I can finish up laying the vinyl floor squares and then they can return the washer to where it belongs tomorrow.

I have put together my "punch list" of the things that still need to be finished and I hope I haven't missed anything. I do know that Keith from the City will be coming by shortly with his list and checking off things also so at least we will have two of us comparing items.

Okay, I am off to go finish laying the flooring, check back in with you tomorrow.... maybe at 8ish or 10ish but who knows, it could be more like after noon!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blue Blue Monday!

Ok, so it is actually more than just a blue blue Monday! It is all week long and the week isn't over yet.

I was told by one of the workmen that they would be here on Monday to start the painting on the outside of the house. Monday came and went, no workers showed and no phone call. Tuesday same thing. On Wednesday one of the workers showed up about 10ish to retrieve some tools that he had left in the laundry room in anticipation of returning this week and since it was the same person who told me they were going to start painting, I asked what had happened. I was told that they were running way behind on the other job and that it would be 3-4 days before they were able to get over here to work. Well, that is all well and good, I can be patient but a phone call would sure have been nice to tell me of the change in plans! I have a hard time being patient but under my present circumstances (with a daughter having problems with preterm labor and a baby that doesn't want to wait till her due date) I am on pins and needles and would like to be able to make plans to help her when possible. I kept my cool, waited till later that afternoon and called the general contractor. We had a friendly discussion and told him once again how important it is that they notify me of their plans to either show up or not show up as scheduled.

On Thursday, the general contractor came over to the house and we talked about the reconstruction of the cabinet for the water heater closet. He also took time to hook up the connection from the back of the dryer to the outside wall vent (which the electrician forgot to do) so that I can at least once again start using my dryer.

I explained to Monte that there were some major changes with my daughter at her appointment on Wednesday and that the doctor feels that the new baby granddaughter may not wait much longer to be born. She will be 34 weeks along if she makes it to next Wednesday and the doctor feels that will be doubtful. I told my neighbor across the street today that I have a feeling that the baby will be born this weekend......... little did I know until I came home and looked at the calendar that Sunday, October 4th is a full moon and I don't care what anyone tells you about it being an old wives' tale, but it is true, more babies are born during the full moon than any other time. So I will keep you posted to see if this old grandma is right or not.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Disappointing Week

Well I am feeling kind of bummed out right now and hoping that with the sunrise and a new week ahead that things will progress along more this week than last.

Once again we had lots of rain, which of course delayed much of the work that is necessary to be completed outside. What does upset me is that there are things inside that still could have been completed but have been done as yet. I doing my best to be patient and understanding but at times I find it difficult because patience is not one of my better personality traits. I have to remember that my house is not the only construction job that they have going at this time. There is another little house they are working on which once they got into it turned out to have some major problems that no one had counted on. Consequently, more time and repairs are needed there than originally anticipated. The owner of the home moved out while they are working on the house and it is important to get him back in as soon as possible so of course the house has to take priority.

There were a few disappointments this past week. The electrician came back and changed out the 220 cord and outlet. The cord he originally used did not meet our city's code requirements. They also added the two electrical outlet switches to the lights out in the garage and storage area rather than leave them on pull chains. The City Electrical Inspector arrived on Friday and they still didn't pass final inspection because they forgot to change out the plug on the patio outside wall which was to be a GFI outlet! So once again they will have to return and change that out and call for an inspection again.

The plumbing inspector still hasn't come out to check the changes that he requested to be made on the installation of the water heater. In fact I don't even know if that has been requested to be done yet. I need to call Monte!

One of the men brought over the paint for doing the outside. I was kidding around with him and stated that maybe I needed to check it out just to make sure that they brought the right colors and it is a good thing I did because the gray paint was not the right shade. I had given them a very dark shade of gray, like deep charcoal gray and the color on the top of the can was very light gray! At least the light green shade for the shutters and trim was the right color.

Today I am going to take time to rearrange my bedroom back to where it belongs. I had pushed my bed over to the outside corner of the room so that they would have unobstructed access to both the windows in that room. I will need to once again unload the 2 bookcases before attempting to move them but that is not that big of a chore. It will seem good to once again put the room back in order. I notice that I am going to have some touch up painting to do...... now where is that can of raspberry color paint????

Friday, September 18, 2009

More Progress Made

The rest of the windows were installed yesterday! Of course I've already had one cat put little nose smudge prints all over the nice clean glass because she thought she could just jump on outside! The screens are so fine, you have to look super close to even realize that they are there! Little Bit saw a squirrel out on the lawn and I guess she figured she was going to have it for lunch. Boy did she get a surprise when her nose hit that glass. She ended up shaking her head as if in disbelief.

Friday, oh gosh it is Friday 4:33AM and I'm still up, the electrician is to return today to redo the part of the wiring that didn't pass inspection. Hopefully we will be able to get it all completed and then get the inspector back out here so that the dryer can be hooked up.

I have almost finished putting down the vinyl flooring in the laundry room. I am going to have to ask some of the fellas to help me move the washer over so I can complete the flooring under where it sits. I thought I was going to be able to move it by myself, but found out I am not quite as strong as I once was. The reality of old age is sitting in on me I am afraid.

I guess I better shut this down and get to bed if I am going to make it up in the next 3 hours to greet the day and the repair men!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Can See Clearly Now!

Friday they started installing the new windows! YEAH!!!!
It was amazing to watch as they taped all the glass, went around the edges where they were placed into the metal window edges and then they were taken out! I totally expected they would have to break the glass but so far, not a single piece of glass has been broken. Now they have collapsed the metal frame that goes into the brick around the window frame opening, after the glass has been removed.

The new windows are so nice! The screen part is so fine, you can hardly tell there is a screen there at all. Also the windows will tip in so that I can clean the outside without having to remove the screen. That is such a nice feature. They are also double pane glass and have a high energy rating which will help keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

Monday they plan to come out and finish the last five windows but if it rains as predicted, I am sure they will have to wait until probably Tuesday or Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We Were Changed Forever

September 11,2001

You didn't have to live back East to feel the impact of this day because the entire country trembled from coast to coast as we watched on television, listened on radio or by internet to the events unfold live before our very eyes.

Frantic phone calls were made to loved ones to be sure that they were safe and sound. Mothers scurried like hens to gather up their chicks and place them securely under their loving wings. There were more "I love yous" spoken and kisses given as children were tucked safely in their beds that night and longer times spent on bended knees or with heads bowed in prayer asking for God's protection and love in our country's hour of need and in the days to come.

The full range of emotions flooded through my being as I watched in horror. The planes hit the towers and the destruction that followed. Images of people covered with ash and soot running away from burning buildings, as firemen went past them the other way headed into the infernos that they were so desperately trying to escape from. My eyes filled with tears as I watched the destruction, the expressions on the faces of those who were escaping, thankful to be alive, but concerned about those left behind who did not make it out of those buildings. The firemen who knew this was bad, really really bad and inwardly praying they to would make it out alive as they pressed forward to look for survivors.

Anger followed when I learned of two more planes, one crashing into the Pentagon and another into a farmer's field because of the bravery of passengers who stood up and attempted to overtake their hijackers and if not to gain control of the aircraft from them, to divert them from their intended target, which by later reports appeared to be the White House itself.

I felt complete helplessness as I watched, glued to the television day after day. It was paralyzing, wondering what was going to happen next. Would there be more attacks in other parts of the county? Flashbacks of the Oklahoma City bombing began to race through my mind and then the calm came sweeping over me. I watched as people banned together in unity, like they did when we went through our tragedy. People from all over the country headed to New York to help at Ground Zero. After all we aren't called The United States for nothing!

I felt compassion and grief for families and friends as they gathered in areas near where the twin towers once stood, holding pictures of loved ones, shouting out to anyone who would listen " Have you seen this person" as they held their loved ones photos higher to be seen. Impromptu memorials sprung up on street corners and night time candle vigils were held.

Pride swelled within me as I watched sweat soaked firemen coming off their shifts through a street lined with people clapping and cheering for them, letting them know they appreciated all the work that they were doing attempting to find anyone alive or to retrieve the bodies of a loved one.

One image I will never forget is that of the priest who went in with the firefighters to give comfort and last rites to the victims and became a victim himself. The photograph of the firemen carrying this man of God, who sacrificed all, to give comfort to those in need, will forever be etched in my memory.

The other image I will remember will be the picture of the firemen raising the American Flag above the ruble. It reminded me of the flag being raised on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Let us not become complacent or arrogant thinking that this can never happen to us again. There have been other incidents in history that should never have been forgotten, or the "rough edges" taken off with the passage of time, but as years pass and people settle into "the new normal," acceptance and complacency begins to follow instead of vigilance.

MckLinky Blog Hop

Monday, September 7, 2009

Getting Ready For Another Blog

Well folks, I am in the process of setting up another blog which will be to help those who are wanting to trace their family roots!
I will teach you how to develop your family tree, good places to do research on the web and how to interview your living relatives to gather information but I want to actually encourage you to do more than just list important data on a piece of paper or into a GEDCOM file on your computer.

My goal is to help bring your past history alive for you and for all the generations of your family who are yet to come! Your ancestors may be dead, buried in the ground, but they will become alive through you and the living history that you create! Genealogy and history go hand in hand and opens up an entire new appreciation for what your ancestors did to be brave enough to leave their homeland to venture forth to a new country.  In some cases, they were forced to leave and come here, many were forced into servitude. 

So get ready, get a notebook and a pen or pencil handy because we are about to start soon!  If you would like to be notified when this new blog is ready, please leave me a message at the end of this post and be sure to include your name and your email address so I may contact you.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Flooring Going Down

Wednesday evening I started to lay the new flooring in the laundry room. You always start out by finding the center of your room, by taking measurements of the width and length of your room. Divide your measurements in half and that becomes your starting point. Lay out plumb lines in both directions and begin laying the first tile at the junction of these lines. All of your "self-stick" tile boxes will have instructions on the box, including how to cut your tiles when you get to the edges of you room.

By Thursday I had almost all of the room completed except for the tiles at the edge where I have to start the tedious part of cutting and fitting the final tiles that meet the walls. I do have to move the washing machine out so that I can tile underneath where it is sitting.  I will need to put the leveling feet onto pieces of cardboard so that when I move it I won't damage the surface of the new flooring. My goal is to get that done on Friday and then move it back into place.  I also want to get the edge tiles completed on the wall where the dryer will be placed so that will be done when the workers bring the dryer inside.

I would love it if I could begin painting out there this weekend but since the new sheetrocked wall is not textured yet and we won't be able to sheetrock the wall where the dryer is to go because of a problem there that didn't pass inspection, I think painting is going to have to be put off for a little bit. But who knows what might happen....... I am impulsive!

Shall We Dance?

Two Steps Forward and One Step Back!
We had both the electrical and plumbing inspectors scheduled to come out on Wednesday. Both showed up but I had run to the store quickly at about 3:30 posted a note I would be back in 5 and wouldn't you know it, the electrical inspector shows up while I am gone and we had to reschedule!

The plumbing inspector passed almost everything, but there were a few minor things that he needed to go over with Keith at the city about.

We rescheduled the electrical inspection for Thursday and then they called and asked to reschedule for Friday.

The electrical inspector just left and will be getting with Keith also regarding a couple of things that he wishes to discuss, so no approval there as yet.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Trolls On The Roof !

Ok, they aren’t really trolls, but an entire army of roofers!  When they said they’d bring a “crew” I figured maybe 4 men at most.  Well there are at least 8 of them up there, but they are moving along so fast I’m having a hard time trying to count heads! Turns out I was pretty close; there are actually 9 of them.

They promptly arrived at 8AM and after moving my car out of the driveway so they could place their collection bin there, they had a group laying out tarps on the ground to catch the old shingles and nails beginning the process of removing shingles at the ridgeline.  For those of you who don’t know what the ridgeline is, it is the upper most top of your roof and then they work down to the edges.  They use tools that actually look like a farmer’s pitchfork and then a shorter hand version as well. With the pitchforks they are able to remove reasonably large patches of shingles all at once.  They work in teams, one loosens up the shingles with the pitchfork and the other gathers up these loosened shingles and takes them and dumps them into the collection bin.

While outside visiting with the roofing contractor and the general contractor, we learned that the decking on the house was 3/8ths of an inch whereas current standards are 7/16ths of inch plywood.  They have totally removed all old shingles from the house and are now working on the patio and garage roof. A true testimony to how well the old roof was installed is that the  house decking looks good, there is no water damage at all.  They were quite surprised to say the least. Now the patio roof might be another story.

By 9:30 the scraping sounds of the pitchforks had stopped and I begin to hear pounding. There’s no way I think that they can already be laying shingles, so I walk out onto the covered patio and gaze up to the roof top to see what is going on.  They are now in the process of either pounding in loosened nails or using tools to pop off nails that were holding on the old shingles in preparation for the new roofing felt paper and shingles. I learned that the name for these tools is called a roofing hatchet. One end of the blade has a chiseled hatchet end and the other looks like the business end of a hammer.

Next came the installation of a metal flashing strip on the small piece of wood that forms the edging of the roof decking. The proper name for this piece of wood is the drip edge and the metal strip is called the drip cap.  It is here that you often see rot and mold damage where water runs off the roof into your gutters and if gutters are not kept free of debri and water doesn’t run off properly, you will find this type of damage and in turn causes damage to your fascia board.

At 10:20 AM some of the workers were already laying the roofing felt paper on the front of the house. The paper is put on starting at the bottom edge of the roof and working up to the ridgeline or the peak of your roof.  .This paper is secured in place with staples and I am listening to the rhythmic sound of their staplers as they move across the roof. After the paper is laid, they mark plumb lines for the shingles.  Now the house is completely covered wit the roofing felt paper, as well as the patio and the garage roof. 

Time is now 10:57AM and I am hearing the thud thud thud of bundles of shingles being laid up on the roof.  They are strategically placing them in different areas of the roof to enable the roofers to easily open the bundles as they progress along.   I should start hearing nail guns going shortly.

Break Time 11:11 AM and for my cats this is an opportunity to come out from their hiding places under my bed to get up on the window ledges to see if they can figure out what all the noise was about!  Bradley, my parrot is actually handling this pretty well (he is the one I worried about the most) only letting out a few high pitched squawks when he heard them using the staplers directly above his head!

12:20 PM Lunch break is over and once again the sound of staplers is echoing above my head.  I also hear the sound of the air compressor being started up.  

One of the things that have to be watched carefully when using a pressurized nail gun to install roofing is that you need pressure gauges on both the compressor unit as well as on the nail gun unit. If too much pressure is used, then when the nails are shot into the shingle, it will go right through the shingle and you will get leakage at some point in time.

Shingles are now being laid!  There are certain areas that require being worked on first before all the straight run pieces are laid in place.  The “valleys” of your roof as well as around vent pipes and wind turbines.  Valleys should be covered with a special mineral-surfaced, roll roofing material .First, a wide strip of metal flashing is placed down the center of the valley, from the eaves to the top of the ridge and then this special roofing material is placed on top of it.

I watched as several of the men were putting the shingles up on the front of the house.  You start at the very lower edge of the house with your first row of shingles with what is referred to as a starter strip. Once the starter strips are in place and shingles are run up the exterior edges of the house they begin filling in the rest of the shingles. It is too difficult to try and explain all of this to you but I found this fantastic article which you can use as reference.

Expect The Unexpected

As in all projects, you have to always expect the unexpected.  In this case, they had already been forewarned about what we considered a “soft spot” in the patio roof.  I let them know the approximate location and advised them to be careful; I didn’t want anyone falling through! Sure enough, they found it and luckily no one fell through or was injured.  The decking was rotted and upon pulling it out, they found that an entire rafter was basically gone!  I truly had expected that they would find more roof damage than what they have found. Upon inspection of a piece of the wood that “was” the rafter, it appears to be water damage that caused the problem.  I was fearful it might have been termites but upon inspection of the wood, there were none in there. They did find some wasp nests though!

Off to the lumber yard to secure an 18 ft rafter board before they can continue roofing that section of the patio and garage.  In the meantime, the men are picking up debris from the yard and throwing it into the dumpster bin, while the other team continues roofing the backside of the house.  The front is entirely done and as I stand back and look at it from a distance across the street, I am so glad I chose the slate color that I did.  There is just a hint of green in with the gray and it is really pretty.  I have chosen a very dark charcoal gray paint for the eaves, soffit and fascia boards and will continue to have the light mint green as my accent color on my shutters, front door, the louvered panels on my patio, garage door and fencing. There is just enough of a hint of green in the shingles that this should be a very striking combination of colors.

New rafter is now in place along with the decking and they are finishing up that side of the roofing.

I went outside to check on the progress and they are pretty much done with things at least for today. It looks all that is left is to return my TV antenna to the roof and that is about it. Most of the yard has been picked up with just a few plastic wrappers that shingles came in and their personal tools that need to be gathered together.

It is now 5:30 PM and I am very impressed by the speed and professionalism at which they completed their work.  All tools have been picked up, trash removed, the yard checked thoroughly for fallen nails with a magnetic device and a courtesy knock on the door to say we are done and thank you for using our company. If you live in Oklahoma and need a good roofer, I would highly recommend them. They offer you state wide service on roofing, siding and windows.

Precision Exteriors
Robert Maurer, Owner
405-703-2955 or  405-877-703-2955

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hot Hot Water!

The Hawk Mechanical team arrived this morning with tools in hand to install the new water heater.
This will be a 40 gallon, gas unit and sits inside in my laundry room.
They first had to rip out part of the top part of the closet that it sits in so that we could have access to the top of the tank if necessary for maintenance. Luckily, it came apart easily and with ease so that the carpenters will have no problems making a cover access door.

There was a bunch of replumbing needed to hook up the new unit. New connection pipes and overflow valves to be installed to the outside of the house.

Once they finished up, he had me come out there and gave me instructions on the new unit. If you ever have to have new appliances or wiring etc done in your home, be sure to talk with your repair people to know exactly what they did so if you ever have to have future work done, you can be knowledgeable when you speak to whoever does your work.

This unit has a little glass pilot light window that you can look through and check to see if the pilot is lit. No more having to lay on the floor, remove a tiny access panel and peer in there and have to take a match to light the pilot. Now all I have to do is turn some levers, and hit a button and it will relight automatically.

Since this unit is now up on a stand, 18 inches off the floor, there is also a drip pan and relief valve so that if necessary water will not only drip into the pan but also be directed outside with the new overflow valve.

He also showed me where the valve was if the water gets too hot and instead of blowing the unit sky high through the roof, it will trip this emergency valve and water will go out the overflow valve. He also showed me the valve at the top of the tank where if necessary, we can turn off the water coming into the tank and where the gas valve shutoff valve was if we need to shut off the gas. Living in Oklahoma, where natural disasters do occur, you should know how to shut off all your utilities if necessary.

Thank you Hawk Mechanical for doing another awesome job!

Another Step Towards Completion!

Well today marked the final day for the Red Hot men to be here!
What a great couple of guys and they do terrific work.
They popped in here about 10 AM or so this morning and were finished about 3 PM
Today they had to get back up into the hot, insulation itchy attic and run the wiring for the patio area and the garage work. Outlets needed to be installed and light fixtures as well as a new plug for the garage door opener unit. The sad part is, I was told that the electric opener unit itself is broken and needs to be either repaired or totally replaced and the door itself is hanging up on the track because of the center arm to the opener and the side hinges don’t want to turn the right way to make the bend to go up!

If we end up having thunderstorms tomorrow, which it looks like we may well have, I probably will have a crew of carpenters here doing some work. They would be able to work out on the patio, because it has a roof over it and install the outside siding that needs to go on the new wall they put in. They could come inside and cut the dryer vent hole and also the access panel area that has been decided upon for the closet where the water heater will go so that we can have proper access to the top of the tank if it needs repairing.

There is also a small area of sheetrock work that needs to still be done on the living room wall and then a repair area in the bathroom which got damaged during this remodeling.

As things stand now, it will probably be Saturday before the roofers can get here because of rain predictions; otherwise it will be Monday or Tuesday.

The new double pane windows should be here sometime early next week and we should be able to get them installed in a day if the weather holds out for us later on midweek.

Then there will be a small amount of gutter work to be done and painting and we will be finished!

I truly feel we will finish up long before our deadline date. These workers have been absolutely fantastic!

The General Contractor has several other jobs going at the same time, another here in Norman and at least one or two others up in Woodward. He is juggling crews around so that all of the subcontractors follow each other in logical order and there are no delays in work schedules. The unpredictable weather we have had this month is the only real hindrance. Much to everyone’s surprise we have had an abundance of thunderstorms this August and normally this is Oklahoma’s driest month!

I know most people don’t like remodeling jobs but I have to tell you, I have gone through several as well as build my own home in Texas and this has by far been the easiest one so far.

Some things that you will need to look at when choosing a contractor:
1. be sure that they are licensed and bonded in your state.
2. Ask for references of past work they have completed and contact the people about their workmanship and promptness in completing the job.
3. Find out if your contractor will be doing all the work themselves or if there will be subcontractors that you will also be working with. Make sure that all are licensed and bonded.
4. Find out if any special permits are needed in your city and if they will obtain them or if you will be required to obtain them.
5. Have a contract which you both will sign and have copies off, showing the work in detail as to what is to be done for the amount of money you will be spending. Have a starting date (work must start within X amount of days of signing this contract) and work must be completed within a given period of days. You may want to add a couple of extra “bad weather days” into the contract depending on the time of year the work is to be performed.

If you have a General Contractor with Sub-Contractors
1. be sure that any changes in the contract be they wanted by you or by the subcontractor, need to be approved and cleared through the General Contractor.

2. If for any reason you are not satisfied with the work of any of your sub-contractors, you need to contact the General Contractor to settle the problem.

I have made it a point to ask each of the subcontractors for one of their business cards which I will be keeping on file. I will also be writing a note, to Monte my General Contractor at the completion of this job discussing with him about each of his subcontractors and their work. At this point in time, I have already talked to him about Hawk Mechanical and Red Hot Electrical as being top notch in professionalism of personal manor and quality of work. I also told Monte that I have already written them up on my blog and his carpenters, roofers, gutter company and painters will also have promotion here also. I am looking forward to working with each and every crew because if what I have already seen is any indication of the types of people Monte has working for him, they will also be top notch!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Red Hot Men and Hawks

I know I am terrible, I knew that would get your attention!

Today there was a flurry of activity around here! The plumbing men from Hawk Mechanical were here to install the air conditioner compressor unit and the men from Red Hot Electrical were here to work on all of the extensive rewiring that the house needs.

I think the men from Hawk were totally amazed that the compressor that they were removing was actually still in working order! It appears that unit has been here since the house was built back in 1963. The outside cover was so sun beaten and faded the side air fins were bent as well as it was a small unit. That is probably why my electric bill has always been so high in the summer time even when I would try to be conservative and not turn the cooling down as low as I would have liked in order to feel more comfortable.

They went right to work, setting up a new type of pad to set the unit on and get it installed so the electrician could hook up the unit. The new pad amazed me. It looks like it is made out of stone, with a pebbled surface but it is like a box cover, rather than a solid piece of stone. I didn’t ask but I am pretty sure it was made out of some type of precast lightweight material. They didn’t seem to have much trouble lifting it and putting it into place.

They will have to return to install the new water heater but I think the carpenters need to return first to do some cutting on the closet area where that will be sitting. Because of the new code standards, they will need to bring the water heater up off the floor, probably at least 12 inches to 18 inches. There was some discussion as to whether they would be able to get to the top of the tank to service it if the closet remains as it is.

The electricians were here all day and will need to return probably tomorrow to complete the rest of the outside work on the patio. They had to run new 220 wiring for the dryer which will be brought into the laundry room from the little outside patio storage room where it now sits. That is going to be such a blessing not to have to walk outside in the winter to put clothes into the dryer! It is going to be so convenient now!

They also had to run new wiring for all the smoke detectors that are now in each bedroom and in the hallway. The new building code requires that each bedroom and the hall leading into those bedrooms have a hardwired smoke detector. Hardwiring means that they have to be wired into your electrical circuitry rather than the battery operated units that you buy at the store.

I felt so sorry for Mike because he was the one who had to go up into the attic, crawl around in all the insulation material, being careful to find the joists so that he didn’t fall through the ceiling and run all the wiring through the holes. Of course it wouldn’t have been quite as bad if he hadn’t forgotten his cover-up jumpsuit! But there he was, in his short sleeved red tee shirt, emblazoned with their yellow logo and a pair of gray knee length shorts and tennis shoes crawling around in that itchy fiberglass blown in insulation which he said was about three feet deep! At lease one of our worries was solved we weren’t sure if we were going to have to add additional insulation to bring that up to code!

They had to also do some major rewiring and reposition a breaker box for the air conditioner unit. The existing connection had a break in the line, where the metal conduit has worked its way loose at a joint and had left the electrical wiring exposed and it had frayed. The decision was made to move the breaker box over closer to the compressor unit and thus eliminate the need to run another new long piece of conduit piping and to attach it to the exterior wall of the house.

Once the compressor unit was hooked up and charged with Freon, I couldn’t believe how quickly the air inside the house cooled down. There was an immediate difference in not only how cool the air was but the volume of air that is now coming through the ceiling duct work.

There was lots of ribbing going on when Doug started to take out the old sensor light unit at the back door. It hadn’t worked in so long, I wasn’t sure if there was a short in the electric switch, the lights were burned out or if I didn’t know how to operate the settings on the unit. After some testing, it was determined that the light unit it self was kaput! He asked me if I had another light fixture of if they would need to go get one, since I wanted another sensor unit installed. I told him nope I didn’t have another fixture but I had plenty of flood lights, and I went to grab the bag out of the shed and low and behold there is not one but two sensor fixtures and one box of two flood lights and all along I thought it was three boxes of light bulbs. As I rummaged around in the sack and pulled out my treasured find, I came across the receipt. They were purchased back in July of 2005! Doug and Mike both began teasing me about my “good intentions” and I told them, I don’t mess with electricity! I had purchased them on sale with the hopes that my son could get up here from Texas and install them for me.

Red Hot Electrical is out of Mc Loud, Oklahoma and also works all over the state of Oklahoma. They not only do residential work but commercial work as well. If you want good dependable workers that know their trade, give them a call

Red Hot Electrical
Mc Loud Oklahoma

I must say I have been very impressed with each and every crew that has worked on my house thus far. Not only have they been professional and courteous but they have cleaned up after themselves, not leaving a mess for me to have to follow behind and pick up after.

Depending on the weather and how much still needs to be done up in Weatherford, Oklahoma on a project, the roofers should be here either Thursday or Friday but if we get rain as predicted, it may be Saturday before they can begin.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quick Tips from the Air Conditioning Man

Quick Tip on Saving Money from the Air Conditioning Man

Well, I sure learned a thing or two today when the A/C man came to look at the furnace unit and the outside compressor unit . We will be replacing the compressor unit outside with the remodeling we are doing and the furnace stays because it is a York and only a couple years old and has a good SEER rating.

I told him that I have been keeping it a lot warmer in here lately than I normally do after I had an extremely high utility bill last month. I had made a conscious effort this year to attempt to lowering my bill. My rule of thumb has been, if it isn’t being used, unplug it! Be sure to do laundry in cold water and take cooler showers. Still I had a $113 electric bill.

He said to me “Ma’am do you always keep your fan set in the ON setting rather than in the Auto setting?” I said yes because I had heard that by keeping the air moving it will help lower your utility bill. Boy oh boy what a false assumption that was!

He told me that by having the fan set in the On position, you are first of all keeping that fan running on low. The attic temperature can reach 140 degrees in the summer and since my air ducts run through the attic, those ducts are gathering heat. With the unit set at ON, what is happening is that hot attic air is now accumulated into the duct work and coming back into the house raising the inside air temperature even a couple of degrees. When the A/C unit now kicks in, the fan is still running on low and using more energy now to try and cool the inside air.

By setting your thermostat at a comfortable level and putting the fan in the AUTO setting, you’re A/C unit will kick in when it reaches that preset temperature and start cooling your house. Not only is the air in your home being cooled down but also all your furniture and flooring (carpets) also. By maintaining an even temperature you will require less energy to heat or cool your air and the unit will not run as frequently.

I asked it I might share this information with all of you on my blog and he said please do. People nowadays need to save as much money as they can.

Hawk Mechanical
405- 275-5330
Shawnee, Oklahoma
P.S. they travel all over the state of offering service so don’t let the fact that they are out of Shawnee keep you from calling them for service. They have gone to Cushing, Eufaula, Tishomingo, Yukon and others cities too numerous to mention, as well as in the Oklahoma City metro area.

I would love to hear your energy saving tips, so please feel free to share with us.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pardon My Dust!

Please excuse the mess we’ve got some major reconstruction going on here!
No not on the blog, at least not yet, here at my house!
Let me tell you about all the wonderful things that have been happening to me lately which is certainly a welcome change after all the worries of this last month with my children and their health issues.

I applied for a special program about two years ago through our City where they had federal money to assist people who are considered low income to assist them in bringing their homes up to building code. As you can imagine, there were many people who applied for this money and I finally made it to the top of the list.

The way that this money works, is you are allowed up to $25,000 for home repairs that will bring your home up to present building code. It is actually a lien note that is attached to your mortgage. You must be a homeowner and live in your home. It is actually a reducing lien so if you live in your home one year after work is completed and then sell (or die) 75% of the note needs to be paid out of the proceeds of the sale of your home. If you live in your home two years and sell (or die) then 50% of the note is to be repaid and at three years 25%. At the end of the fourth year, 0% is to be repaid.

The people from the City, who are responsible for overseeing this money, have you complete paperwork and then schedule a walkthrough on your home to see what all needs to be done. They take pictures of the interior and exterior of your home and measurements of the entire house and every room, even draw up a diagram of your house.
They access everything that is needed to repair your home. Then back to the office, put a pencil to the costs and decide exactly what can and can’t be done with the money allocated.

You then have another meeting with the City people to determine exactly what is to be done. They will also give you a list of alternative repairs that can be included in case there is enough money left.

Then everything goes to a bidding process with general contractors with a close date for the bids and once all are in, a contractor is selected. Once this happens you return to sign a contract with that General Contractor and the City and work must commence within 5 days of signing and the entire work has to be completed within 42 days. That means your General Contractor must be very diligent in scheduling his crews so they will coordinate together to get the work done in a timely fashion.

Work has begun here and I will take you on our journey as we complete this process.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life Is So Precious-Reality Sets In

I have to say this last month has been one that has been extremely trying for me personally and for all of us as a family. The reality of how quickly things can go from being good to awful can happen in the matter of a heartbeat! The feeling that one life was to be cut short and another not even able to begin.

First my son Brian, a grown man with a wonderful future still ahead of him, went from having stomach pains, which he had been to the doctor about, to being rushed to the hospital with what he thought was a heart attack. Testing followed and even though other tests had already been done about a week before where it was determined his gallbladder was operating at approximately 81% efficiency, after making sure it wasn't his heart they did additional tests on his gallbladder. They went ahead and decided that surgery was in order and when they got in there they found a blocked bile duct.

This scare for him was enough to make him realize that you never know when your time is up and even though you think you might have many years still to live, you need to put your personal house in order. He realized he hadn't made out a will and if it was his time to leave this earth, the government would be the one who benefits and not his family.

Then there was another life and death situation with my daughter's unborn baby girl. She had been having preterm labor pains and they started way too early in this pregnancy. At 23 weeks her doctor ordered her to home bed rest. Now granted, she was given permission to sit in a chair or on the sofa as well as to lay in bed, but she was totally forbidden to stand on her feet longer than to walk from one room to the other. No housework whatsoever! So it was time to step in and give her as much assistance as she needed. I really don't mind at all because it gives me an opportunity to enjoy her company as well as time to play with my grandchildren.

So now we are down to just an additional 8 weeks of bed rest and then she can get up and resume normal activities because she will be very close to her due date. The fun part is going to be to find enough activities to keep her occupied between now and then.

So first on the agenda was to work on baby books for the 3 children she has already. With JT she had to bring his up to date from the time that Taylor was born and then bring Taylor's up to date from the time Abby was born and with Abby it was get everything out of the shoebox and start her baby book! Abby will be 2 the middle of December and the new baby sister is due in November! So Christy brought over a bunch of scrap booking supplies and Heather went to work! Within 2 days she had all the books up to date and done. I was hoping it would take her at least a week or two!

Next was a baby quilt that she was wanting to make for a friend at church who is expecting soon. I figured this ought to keep her busy for awhile but boy was I wrong! She sat at her sewing table cutting out blocks and stitching them together and by that evening she had the entire front of the quilt done. To put in the quilt stuffing and the backing will take her no time at all.

Heather has asked me to teach her to you think that will take her some time to master? I doubt it! She'll probably be whipping out booties, bonnets and blankets in no time flat! All I can say is I hope it takes her the next eight weeks!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Too Hot to Cook!

With it now at least 4 days in a row with temperatures over 100 degrees and the last three have been 103 degrees, there is no way I am adding any more heat to this house than I have to by cooking!

So I am whipping up this dump cake in the crock pot and it will be dinner..... not desert... with a few large glasses of ice tea!

Fabulous Peach Dump Cake

1 bag frozen peaches (2 cups sliced fresh peaches)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Jiffy white cake mix (or 1/2 package of a 2-layer size cake mix)
4 tablespoons melted butter

Lightly grease the crockpot; place peaches in the bottom. Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss.

Drizzle with vanilla and sprinkle brown sugar over all.

Sprinkle with cinnamon then cake mix. Drizzle melted butter evenly over cake mix.

Cover and cook on high for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July Desert

Nothing is as good as a refreshing desert after a day of festive celebration but these are so good you could make an entire meal out of them all by itself! Add a tall glass of iced sweet tea and enjoy!

Red White and Blue Shortcake

Whipping Cream or Cool Whip
Homemade biscuits

Wash a basket full of fresh strawberries and pull off the green tops and slice the berries in half.
Place in a bowl and add about 3/4 of a cup of white sugar and stir. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

Take a basket of blueberries, wash them and place in another bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of white sugar and stir. Put in the refrigerator to chill.

Make large over-sized biscuits from scratch.

Slice open the warm biscuits, place the bottom of the biscuit in a bowl. Top with cool whip or whipped cream, a scoop of strawberries, put the top on, add another scoop of cool whip or whipped cream, a scoop of blueberries and more strawberries.


Friday, July 3, 2009

The 4th of July Birth of a Nation

Happy Birthday America!

Tomorrow everyone will be pulling out all the stops to have a big holiday celebration!

Many will load the family into the car for a day at the beach or perhaps a state park while others of us will stay at home and just have a family get-together with a bar-b-q in the back yard. Many cities will celebrate with parades during the day and at night the skies will be filled with the booms and flashes of fireworks displays.

I hope each and every one of us will also take time to really reflect back to the year of 1776 when this nation was officially born and our forefathers officially signed the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America. Can you believe that this country has stood for 223 years as a symbol of freedom, democracy and equality for all of our citizens?

I can remember in school that we had to learn the Preamble of the Constitution and be able to recite it verbatim in front of the class in our American History Class. One of the students asked the teacher why it was so important that we know this and why was American history so important anyway, it was all about things in the past and all the people were dead! I will never forget her response to that student. She told him that it was important that you know your roots not only of your family but of your country. You need to know what trials and tribulations your forefathers went through in order for you to appreciate the freedoms that you now have in your life. You need to know the mistakes as well as the accomplishments of your nation so that you can learn from the mistakes and hopefully not repeat them in the future. Someday you will be the leaders of this country and it is my responsibility to teach you as much as possible to be good stewards of this land and your parents have the responsibility to teach you to be good stewards of your family name.

I guess that is one of the reasons why genealogy has taken on such a significant influence in my life. By learning about my ancestors, I also learn about their roles in the development of this country, their place in history so to speak. One day you too will become ancestors and your children hopefully will look back upon your lives and be able to say that we have been good stewards of our family and our country.

God bless each and every one of you…… may you have a safe holiday

Take time to reflect upon the past and march forward bravely into the future.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Honor Thy Father

This coming Sunday, June 21st, is Father's Day

Let us take time to honor all the father's in our lives and show them how much we appreciate and love them.

I have to say that there are several men that I wish to honor this Father's Day, my Dad, my Grandfathers and my Heavenly Father. I am sorry to say that I don't have any of three here on earth with me, they are all living with my Heavenly Father.

My Dad died in his 50's, when he was struck by lightening while out in a boat, trying to rush to shore and safety with my brother and niece on board. It was the first vacation he had taken in years and he had really looked forward to his time away from work with his family.

My parents divorced when I was but thirteen. I had very little contact with my Dad until I was about sixteen and only now and then at that time. I ended up living with my grandparents and Dad would come for occasional visits but he lived in a different city with his new family so our times together were few and far between. What I do remember about him was his very calm demeanor. I don't ever remember him raising his voice in anger. He had pale blue eyes that sparkled and a mischievous grin when he would be telling you funny stories and jokes. From Dad I learned to have a sense of humor, to roll with the ups and downs in the road of life and to be thankful for whatever time we have here on earth and to try to do well with the blessings that have been given to us.

My Grandpa B, his father, always gave you the impression that he was a very stern man, looking over the top of his glasses, his deep brown eyes would penetrate right through you and he always knew if you were telling him the truth or not. Of course the fact that he was a municipal court judge didn't help to soften that facade any either. But underneath, he really was a soft hearted teddy bear! He loved to debate and would take any side of an argument, just for the sake of arguing. He would test you, to see if you would truly stand up for your beliefs or if you would cave in under the pressure of his constant debating the issues with you. So from Grandpa B. I learned that you never judge a book by its cover, to always dig deeper to get to know the real person beneath the outer shell. To stand by your convictions and not be swayed just because someone else bullies you and taunts you, trying to get you to change your mind. To always be fair and look at every situation and person according to their merits.

My Grandpa D, my mom's dad, was also very soft spoken and gentle by nature. One of the things I will always remember about him is watching him shave. I had to have been just a little tot at the time, but it still sticks in my memory. He used a straight edged razor and would mix the lather up in an old mug with one of those special old fashioned brushes. He'd get his face all lathered and then he would take his shaving strap and sharpen his razor on it. Mother used to tell me that as a child she would get a "lickin" with that razor strap! Maybe that is why this memory has always stuck with me.

Grandpa D. was a pretty strong disciplinarian. I used to love to play with the double sliding pocket doors that closed off the living room from the front hallway. Grandpa would take about all he could handle of the open, slam, bang, open slam, bang before I would feel a hand on my shoulder. He'd turn me around, lead me over to his big old chair and place me on his lap and say "let’s talk about this shall we?" Just the tone of his voice let me know that what I had been doing didn't meet with his approval. But he never did spank me! We would have our little talk about the doors and then he would either kiss me on the forehead and send me on my way or he would suggest we go get one of Grandma's good home baked cookies. From Grandpa D. I learned that what I had been doing didn't meet with his approval but he still forgave me and loved me.

As I sit here, putting all these thoughts down for myself and others to read, I am struck by how all of the characteristics of these three men, the life lessons that they taught me growing up , even though I am sure they had no idea that they did, all of these things are qualities that our Heavenly Father has........ unconditional love!

To roll with the ups and downs in the road of life we have never been promised that there would not be times in our lives where we would have hard times, physically, financially, emotionally or spiritually. But we have always had God's promise that he would be there with us every step of the way. He will carry us along that road as long as we believe in Him.

To be thankful for whatever time we have here on earth. It is written that He knows every hair on our heads and the numbers of our days. We never know what day will be our last so always remember to pray and thank God for every day that you do have.

To do well with the blessings that have been given to us. Through prayer to God for ourselves and for others, He multiplies our blessings. He teaches us to have both empathy and compassion for those who come into our lives. He teaches us to give freely to others. He teaches us unconditional Love.

Never judge a book by its cover. Never look down on those who have less than you have or up to those who have more than you have, least you be judged also. Just remember to be happy with what you have and strive to always do your best.

Get to know the real person beneath the outer shell this goes along with never judging a book by its cover. Would we have been likely to have willingly followed Jesus if we had been born back in that time in history? This man who went from place to place, not always dressed in the best of fashion, either barefooted or with sandals, preaching to us about God? By reading the Bible and strengthening our beliefs we go beneath the outer shell and get to really know our Lord .

To stand by your convictions and not be swayed, this is not only true of standing behind our beliefs as Christians and in our faith, but it also means to stand by our convictions for our country as our forefathers did who fought for our freedoms. Our country is in deep need of prayer and our convictions to stand behind the things that we believe our country has been, is and we hope it will be in the future.
To always be fair and look at every situation and person according to their merits.
Always search for the truth about all that you see and all that you hear.

A strong disciplinarian. Our Heavenly Father is a strong disciplinarian. He chastised those in biblical times who fell by the wayside and did not do as they were commanded to do. Do you think He would do less today with us?

What I had been doing didn't meet with his approval. When I do not remember to give thanks, to go in prayer on a daily basis I know in my heart of hearts that I am not meeting with His approval. If I do not share my testimony of faith with others, even though I am still growing daily in my walk, then I know I am not meeting with His approval.

Tolerance and patience. He tolerates our mistakes, for He knows that we will make them, after all we were given the freedom of choice. There will be times when our choices are not good as well as times when our choices will be excellent. Aren't we glad that He has patience with us?

He still forgives me and loves me. How blessed are we that He always forgives us and will always love us. The ultimate definition of love!

He has a sense of humor. I don't know if you feel that way or not but I am sure He does have a sense of humor! I will pray to give me patience and so He gives me challenges to make me learn to be patient. I ask for understanding and he gives me situations where I have to do research and find answers. I can just picture Him watching over me and at times just getting that "twinkle in His eye" and a "mischievous grin" as He watches me work through some of the things that have been put in front of me as obstacles and challenges.

Thank you all, the fathers, for being a part of my life, I have learned and continue to learn so much every day because you.

Now it is your turn. Tell me about your father or the fathers in your life. Whether they are a dad, step dad, or even an uncle or a friend of the family who was the father figure in your life and how they influenced you.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Expenses Replace Old Ones

New Expenses Replace Old Ones

With retirement, there are going to be some new expenses to replace some that you had before. If you have paid off your house, then you are going to be needing to set aside 1/12th of the amount needed to pay for the taxes and homeowners insurance each month to cover those bills when they become due. No longer do you have an escrow fund in your house note which covers those items. Now is the time to think about living very frugal and thrifty. Learn to cut costs now so you are ready when the time comes! There is a really easy way to pay your house note off early, if you will do it every single month. First get an amortization schedule from your mortgage company so you know exactly how much goes to the principal and to the interest on your payment. Every month, make your normal mortgage payment. Then make out a second check for the principal amount of the upcoming month's payment only. Make sure that you mark the check and send them a note to apply this payment to principal only. Do this each and every month until you have your note paid off. What you are doing is "paying it forward" when you are applying that little bit of extra each month to the principal amount of the note. Your interest is calculated on the amount of the outstanding principal of your note. So if the principal is being reduced, you will be paying less interest each month. Many people do not realize that the interest on your home mortgage is not calculated the same way that it is on your automobile loan. Also, don't make the mistake of thinking you can make several full payments each month and then be able to skip a month if need be because you are paid ahead. They don't figure it that way! So always always whatever amount you pay ahead be sure to mark it as "apply to principal only" and remember you can't skip a payment. By doing this, just the extra upcoming principal amount each month, you will shorten your note by roughly three years, if you began with the very first payment on your note.

Perhaps instead of paying your car insurance quarterly, you will now find you have to pay it monthly so be sure to make allowance for that also, along with the car renewal tags and your driver’s license renewal cost.

Since you are no longer employed, you will need to be setting aside money to cover any additional health insurance payments if you wish a supplemental policy besides your Medicare coverage. You may also want to have long term care insurance, burial insurance or life insurance so be sure to make allowances for those expenses also.

Get Good Financial Advice!

You may want to get with your financial advisor to restructure your retirement funds in such a way as to be able to withdraw a certain amount each month or switch funds into a money market account.

I plan to have a couple of guest bloggers on here who can help you with some ideas about how to handle your retirement money and lower your car insurance and homeowner’s insurance. I wish I had had someone to advise me before I retired.

If I had it to do over again! Boy would I do it differently!

Hindsight is so wonderful. We can look back and say, I wish I had done things differently! I would have definitely planned to have my house paid off. If I had, I actually could get by, even though it would be a tight struggle, on just my Social Security funds.
Now that means living on less than $800 (with the $98 out for Part B Medicare)

Cutting Back on Unnecessary Expenses

*Get rid of Extras on your Phone Service
Many people do not realize that once they retire, they can qualify or what is known as life support phone service. This is offered to Seniors on very low incomes for $1.00 a month. Contact your phone company to see if you qualify.
Otherwise get rid of all the fancy features on your phone, the call waiting, call forwarding, caller id and call waiting id. These all add up to expenses you really don’t need. I was able to drop my phone bill down to under $18 a month by doing that. It's just too bad that all the taxes that are added on actually comprise about half of our bill!

* Cable TV or Dish TV
Reduce your service down to the Basic service you don’t need all those extra channels. My guess is you have never even watched half of what you presently have available and are paying for.

Better yet, get a converter box and use it for your new digital service. Invest in a new UHF/VHF antenna to improve your reception if necessary. I am amazed at the beautiful picture I am now getting on my TV using the converter box!

* Fill up your car with gas two weeks before major holidays or after the holidays. Gas always goes up just before holidays and comes down afterwards. Play the gas game, fill up two weeks before to same some money. Try to fill up in the cool of the morning or in the evenings and not during the heat of the day, you will actually get more gas!

* Use coupons when you grocery shop, but use them for items that you normally purchase or items you wish to stock up on for holiday or special meals. Don’t just buy items because they are on sale or use coupons for items that you won’t ever use.

If you begin to live well within your reduced budget now, when the time comes, you will have already made the adjustment to living on less and you won't feel so deprived and like you have lowered your standard of living. You will be very thankful that you have taken the time to get back to the basics of life where you realize that "having things" aren't the measure of a person's true wealth!

Wills, Living Trusts and Medical Directives

I know, this isn't a subject that is easy to discuss, no one wants to talk about death and dying. But hey, we aren't going to leave this world alive. Two things are inevitable.... death and taxes. The only one you really have any control over is the tax part.

You need to make out a will, be it with the assistance of an attorney, one that you pick up at the stationery store and fill in the blanks or a handwritten one. You also need to keep it updated. Now some states do not accept handwritten wills, so be sure to check what the laws are in your state. I do not know if you can avoid your estate going into Probate or not if you have a will in place. That may also vary by state so be sure to check. You will want to stipulate whether you wish to be buried or cremated as well as who gets what from your estate.
Living Wills:
There are both revocable and non-revocable trusts.
I do not feel comfortable even trying to explain this to anyone other than to say that you do set this up and it is in effect while you are alive whereas a will only goes into effect upon your death.
I am going to attempt to get a guest blogger to come do a special post here to enlighten everyone, including me.

Medical Directives:
The Medical Directive records the medical treatments you wish to have or not have if you become unable to express your wishes. ... Only if you become mentally incompetent and unable to make medical decisions on your own. You may stipulate to what degree you wish to have life saving measures performed and at what point you only wish to have comfort only measures.
Some people may wish to put provisions in for donation of organs or their bodies donated to science upon their demise.

Your retirement years are supposed to be your "golden years" where you can relax and enjoy life and the fruits of your labors. When Social Security was first set up, all monies collected were to be placed in a special fund and used only for those who paid into it. Somewhere along the way, one of our President's decided that there was "too much surplus" in the Social Security/Medicare fund and transferred those funds to the General Fund of the government, where it still stays today. IF that money had not been moved to the General Fund, Social Security and Medicare would not be in the current state that it is in....... going broke. Also when that fund was established, the life expectancy of the person receiving those funds was not projected into being alive at 75, 85 or 100 years of age either. If I remember correctly, they thought if you retired at 65 you would only live and receive the benefits for about 4-5 years at the most. With our great advances in medicine and people living longer, the average age is now much higher and funds are being paid much longer.

At the present time, anyone born in1960 or later, the full retirement age is now 67 years of age. You can go to to look at the current regulations and percentage of money that you will receive under Social Security under full retirement age and early retirement age.