<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: House Stuff
 

Viewing the 'House Stuff' Category

January 6, Smart Thermostat

January 7th, 2018 at 09:03 am

January 6:
$100 Smart Thermostat
$44 Groceries
$35 Fuel
$30 MH allowance (movies)
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, Asian Salad

In addition, $10 was spent at Target (cat food) but MH did a return for me ($17.50?).

MM(14) volunteered at the animal shelter. I have been 100% taking him (since summer) but knew I would pass the baton to MH during tax season. I know MH ran to Target (while waiting) and the used book/music store (where he has credit to spend if he bought anything).

That reminds me, MH picked up some board game at the library. He is a bit of a game hoarder so I am ecstatic about that!

I decided to fill up the van (used coupon, saving $8). I *may* squeak by with this gas tank for the rest of the month. (Or at least for this credit card cycle. Probably not for the calendar month). Since the kids had devoured the sourdough bread in mere minutes, I decided to go pick up some more bread and get some gas. In the end I decided to make lunch and picked up a few other things (needed more butter and some bleached flour for baking). I did pick up pistachios because they were on sale. They only seem to sell ground hamburger in 2-3 pound packages these days, so I bought more than I needed.

Comment I made on January 1:
I don't see why we would spend much this month.

Reality:
I forgot that this is a chore month for MH. So I guess there will be lots of spending on that front.
Dental appointments, Doctor appointments, oil changes, etc.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Did you notice the $100 thermostat purchase?

What a day!!

Upstairs thermostat has been on the fritz for a while. It DIED when I touched it the other night. Because we have two zones for out HVAC system, it's not particularly critical. (Which is probably why we haven't fixed it before). Honestly, the downstairs zone heats most the house and all the heat wafts up to our bedroom. & the kids don't particularly even like it when I turn on the heat upstairs (they prefer the cold). So, it's not critical, but we had a very short window that my dad could maybe help us (before he went out of town for a while). So we decided to attempt to fix it and arranged for him to come up today if we needed help. (It is probably the coldest month of the year and could get uncomfortable if we couldn't turn on the upstairs heat. Not critical, but not ideal either).

In the end it was a very frustrating all-day endeavor, but we figured it out.

MH took the opportunity to price out a Smart Thermostat. It had to be something he could just pick up in person. We settled on a $100 model at Target that is not sold in stores. MH went over to a regional electronic store that price matches. That way he could just pick it up that day at the best price he found.

{While there, he bought some movies on deep discount; the first allowance spending of the year}.

In the end, the new thermostat was just as dead. We were really darn close (more than once) to just calling our HVAC repair guy and not even bothering my dad with this. It seemed we had a much bigger problem.

I said to MH at some point, "It seems to me the problem must be on the other end of the wires." He is the smart engineering one and I am the polar opposite, but I guess I have lived with engineer types my whole life and they are rubbing off on me. He didn't seem to comprehend, but "the other end" meant climbing up into the attic (which is little more than a crawl space) and messing with the heater. I think he was just in denial.

Eventually he got out of denial (the more obvious it became that this is the only other obvious solution and might save us $100 if he just checked). There was some 5th wire needed for this thermostat that we checked and knew we had coming out of the wall, but I guess in the end it had never been connected on the other side. Yeah, it seemed kind of obvious to me that was the problem. Something wasn't connected right. I expected maybe some other wire was loose (why we had problems at all) but in the end, all the rest of the wiring was completely fine; the old thermostat is just dead. So we feel better about just replacing it. We just happened to make life more complicated by transitioning to a thermostat that needs more wires. Up to that point, all we knew was we had two thermostats that wouldn't work at all.

Much to my chagrin, at that time MH connected the 5th wire to the heater, it still wouldn't work. Which is about the time we 99.99% gave up.

MH fiddled with it one more time, and it worked!! PHEW!!

In the end, we weren't interested in the super smart thermostats, which are more expensive anyway. Our house is very well insulated and we live in a mild climate. Is significantly more comfortable and frugal for us just to use the heat/air as needed. For example, the thermostat may say 62 in the fall but may feel really comfortable (because is not that cold outside). But on a winter day the thermostat may say 70 and I might be *freezing* because I am sitting near a window. As such, I don't know that we have any predictable patterns. & turning on the heat/air while we are on the way home (geofencing?) would just be excessive and would be a huge energy waste.

That said, we do have excessive heat in the summers and we do have a pet. I feel the $100 is a bargain as to the luxury of being able to see remotely how hot the house is and being able to turn on and off the A/C to keep the house reasonable and comfortable. Would probably only use if we were out of town any length of time, but you don't know how much energy I've spent in the past worried about pets when we've vacationed during summer months.

It will also be nice to be able to control the thermostat from bed.

Will give it some time to see how much we use and like. If we love it, I am sure we will upgrade the downstairs one (this year?) but want to give it some time. While the remote app stuff is really nice, and I know I could cool some of the house off in a pinch, it would be far more useful to have this feature for the downstairs zone that provides 90% of our heating/cooling.

January 4, Fence Work

January 5th, 2018 at 01:35 pm

January 4:
$1.50 fresh baked bread
$46 can of paint
Dinner: Chicken enchilada skillet

I guess it worked out that they were out of bread the day before; sourdough was on sale for $1.50 yesterday.

We are having some of our fence replaced (more details below) and the quote did not include paint on the street side. That said, the contractor asked MH if we had any paint ~ said he'd just take care of it (in about an hour). So MH ran to Sherwin-Williams to get some HOA approved paint. MH called me after he left the house to see if I could find a color match or something. I perused Nextdoor (neighborhood social media) and told him someone had taken a piece of fence down to Home Depot to color match. Others have just asked around for extra paint, which I could do. He told me was already out of the house so whatever, but that yes these were all much smarter ways to go about it. But we were both in the "get it done" headspace, and happy to have one less chore to do.

As to the fence, I would have replaced eons ago but neighbors have been too broke and/or cheap. *sigh* In the end, we have a new neighbor on one side and we had discussed in the summer when their neighbor on the other side replaced their shared fence. They were open to it, but they have a big dog and were really put out by the whole thing, so we figured we'd revisit this month when MH has time off work. In the end, the fence blew down a couple of weeks ago. (I presume that is the opposite of Murphy? When you've already penciled in the repair?). Neighbors were happy with their contractor and took the lead. Probably more expensive than we'd go because we are in the head space of, "We've lived with a falling down fence forever at this point, and we won't even be here another 10 years." But felt it best to just "go with the flow". Just happy they agreed at all. But I am pleased with the cost/quality. It's the longest side of our fence and so was $1,100 for our half, plus $400 to replace the gate.

We have a reasonable quote to replace the back fence (by far the worst section; is currently propped up by a pole ~ I think that section blew over about a year ago). Is a smaller length of fence, so cheaper. I'd love to have a uniform fence. But no idea how that will go with neighbors. It will depend how they react. I'd probably just pay for it, but MH doesn't want to. So he has to negotiate with them, and if that doesn't work, he will have to negotiate with me. No idea how that will resolve (but probably most likely with a cheaper contractor, if at all).

We decided to leave side #3 for now. It's mostly obscured by house and bushes. Just, too many neighbors to deal with it, and more expensive than I was guessing. Will get to it eventually. I'm more open to using cheaper wood on that side since we don't "see" that side so much. & it may be that we revisit this year, but just don't have to be this month.

This & That

October 15th, 2017 at 03:30 pm

**The tax season from hell is officially over. (10/15 is the last of the income tax deadlines.) I am EXHAUSTED. I think I may have enough down time to take a week off in December (the week I couldn't take off last year, so I have an extra week this year). Will see. Still in the middle of another monster project, though the end is in sight.

(I am usually not so busy in September/October, and probably would generally consider May through November to be pretty relaxed at work, but it's just been one of those years!)

**On the home front, hell froze over and MH finally discarded his professional wardrobe. It was mostly bought used and hasn't been worn in 15 years. We had last left it that he could keep it but I was NOT moving with that stuff that he was obviously never going to wear. This was our compromise.

In the end, he asked me to take him shopping for more casual clothes (he wanted help) and he was open to purging his closet after we went shopping. I thought he mean some of his more casual clothing, but he went through it *all* and admitted most of it was not in great condition after sitting in a closet for 15 years.

In the process, I took some time to purge my side of the closet too. My problem was not with his quantity of clothing, but with the fact he was NEVER going to wear it. So when he purged like 90% of his barely existent wardrobe, I felt like I should make an effort on my side of the closet. I was surprised how much stuff I had to purge and the shirts I forgotten I had, etc. Ugh. I can use improvement on my 1-in/1-out rule.

**I also *finally* got through our photos. The problem is my (4-year-old) phone has a burst mode for taking photos. I LOVE this feature, but the downside is I end up with massive amounts of photos.

It was my goal to download and backup photos before our London trip. There were two big vacations in particular that I never backed up. (They were automatically backed up in google, but we have a more extensive backup system in place, and I had never added those photos to MH's more secure backup). I was trying to use London as a motivational deadline, but I had too much to do and was having technological difficulties. Anyway, on one day a couple of weekends ago I made some strides on this. I seemed to stumble upon a more efficient way to get everything downloaded. So I spent all day and just got it done. Finally! Backed up London, and probably all the big vacations we took in the past 4 years. I think the hard part was deleting the endless duplicates.

**Other than being busy on the chore side of things, it's been a very spendy month.

We finally replaced our hot water heater. It was making some strange noises, and was definitely time. We were planning to be more proactive in 2015 but the labor costs to install were more than we expected. I got a lower quote this time around, and am happy to cross this off my list.

For a while now, I've also had it in my craw to pick up some glasses in person. The last pair of glasses I purchased were $10 on Zenni. They are absolutely *awesome*. Is my second pair I've ordered online? But I never got proper measurements for my pupils and I thought I saved enough on glasses the last several years that I could probably splurge on a new pair and try on in person. Sounded like a nice luxury.

Was it worth it? Not sure. I wasn't enthralled with the selection and ended up getting glasses more very functional but nothing as cute as I have been getting on Zenni. I could let it go as there is nothing wrong with practical glasses. The only complaint about the $10 pair was that they were a little heavy. Which I guess I will make note of for the future (Zenni certainly sells very light glasses. I had just never bought such heavy glasses before, so hadn't thought to check the weight).

Whereas Zenni charged me a whole whopping $5 for their anti-glare coating, my HMO charged me $90. So that's going to be the deciding factor. I have had problems with night driving. If the $90 clears that up for me, then it's a no-brainer and definitely worth it. But if I don't notice any difference on the glare, then I am probably just going to stick to Zenni in the future. (I am guessing I won't notice any difference).

Today I ordered some prescription sunglasses online, $30.

My timing is probably pretty terrible on this front. I have been thinking about doing this for a while, but what motivated me to make an eye appointment last week is that MH (who has been talking about this quite a while) decided to go ahead and make an eye appointment for himself. Never wore glasses, but can feel his eye sight worsening. He wanted me to go with him to help him pick out glasses, and I told him was fine since I need to have a check up myself.

In the end he feels his near-sight is worsening but they told him he needs everyday/distance eyewear. Strange as it sounds, it seems to be helping.

They actually upsold him to a $350 pair of glasses, but they were a pair like I had before which I really liked and were very high quality. (I wore for maybe 6+ years). So I told him to just go for it.

I went for titanium (wanting to go much lighter) and paid $250 for mine.

So yeah, though I planned for a while to do a splurge for myself, wasn't planning to make it a double splurge. Makes it a little harder to digest.

So that sums up some big spending.

**In other news, the kids have been really clicking with their cousins and I have been making an effort to get them together. My impression is that SIL is far too busy for us, so I was really surprised when I requested a more last minute get together and she obliged. (I figured I'd try, but wasn't expecting much). So I have to give her credit. She wanted to go do something ridiculously expensive, next time, and told me they had no free weekends for the rest of the year. So that is the flip side of it. They do over-book and tend to flake on our standing annual traditions. But I mentioned we'd be in town one weekend and she is making that work too. Which is nice because though I am doing *all* the driving (I guess it comes with the territory of being the ones who moved), I appreciate not having to take any extra trips. We had a 3-day weekend last weekend, and then if we can kill two birds with one stone next time... That works.

For last weekend, MH had some movie plans and some volunteer commitments, so I just took the kids on my own. It was a nice little day trip.

**UGH! I accidentally cut and paste over my last post. It was about the wild fires in our state. They suck and it's horrible. We are far away and unaffected. I think that sums it up. I mentioned the wind was crazy yesterday and not helping, but it seems to have died down, so maybe they can get these fires under control.

August Savings

September 1st, 2017 at 05:12 am

Received $55 bank interest for the month of August.

Snowflakes to Investments:

Redeemed $50 credit card rewards (cash back) from our grocery card.

Redeemed $45 cash back on Citi card.

Other snowflakes:
--$15 (sold old sleeping bag on Craigslist; kids outgrew) ~ I set this money aside to pay for gymnastics (it's cash only)

--Redeemed $11 cash back on Visa dining/fuel card. Since this was mostly trip expenses I just applied this snowflake to our trip.

Savings (From my paycheck):

+$ 200 to investments
+$ 300 to cash (mid-term savings)
+$ 900 to IRAs

Short-Term Savings (for non-monthly expenses within the year):

+$1,300 to cash
- 600 auto insurance
- 400 kids' birthdays ($200 x 2)
- 305 dentist (cleanings x2 + chipped tooth)
- 120 van repairs

In addition, we pulled the following from mid-term savings:

- 215 Plumbing repairs
- 200 new pots and pans (couldn't cover after all this murphy)
- 150 fix car stereo**

{Note: MH has no wages during summer months}.

---------------------------------------------------

**I'd generally pull this from short-term savings (car repairs) but we've maxed out our repair fund already this year. Which is unusual, but we do have an older vehicle that didn't need *any* work last year. It makes sense from a multi-year view, but is exceeding our annual allotment. This is why we have other savings.

I'd probably cover something like pots and pans from short-term savings, but it's also fairly maxed out at this point. I still have some space remaining for insurance, dentist and property taxes, but the misc. and the car repair portions have been spent. I need to leave enough cash for the more fixed expenses I know of.

As far as Murphy goes around here, this was somewhat muted, but just a lot of little annoying things.

As an aside, I am always bemused when someone talks about keeping their old cars and doing without modern conveniences like blue tooth. Like it's either/or. Seriously?? You can keep OLD cars and update them with modern technology. Wink In another situation I might have replaced the car stereo, but the stereo is not very old and the vehicle is 12 years old. We figured it made the most sense just to replace the face plate on the stereo, which solved all of our problems. If I thought I'd keep this vehicle another 10 years, it might have been worth investing in a new stereo system.

I don't know where we stand on the Murphy front. I've already had more problems with the van upon our return from our trip. *sigh* We've not been home long, but hopefully things settle down a bit.

Technically trip expenses will sort out in October, but I think I will start transferring money and paying off expenses today. Travel rewards card is not due until October, but I have the cash and I just want to get everything paid off and accounted for.

See last post for Europe trip details. (I just realized this post covered that one up).

Doings

October 16th, 2016 at 05:51 am

**MH won $75 at work. More on that below.

**MM got accepted into a study that will probably pay him $300 next month. (It's $100 per visit, and depends if he passes the first one or two screenings. If accepted, it's a 4-year study and they may randomly choose MM for follow ups later). This is an autism study.

I've said in the past that the kids don't really have anything to save up for, so am just thinking longer term. (Just different times, different circumstances. Seems I had more ways to spend money as a kid). BUT... When discussing the possibility of a study (another one that paid $200 up front) MM mentioned that he wanted a new desktop computer. We agreed to buy him a monitor and a OS (probably can get a student-priced OS) and would cover 50% of the rest. He was probably going to have to come up with $300, and then this study just fell into his lap. If the study doesn't pan out for any reason, he has the money saved already.

I am glad he is going through the ropes of a more medium purchase before he buys something like a car. He's going to build his own computer. Right now all he has is a keyboard and a mouse (that he uses with his laptop).

That's the income side of things.

On the spending side of things...

**MH had pre-ordered the PlayStation Virtual Reality system (for about $500).

It is pretty freaking AMAZING. (Seriously, it's hard to imagine this is just the bottom/intro. They are going to do amazing things with VR).

It's the kind of thing we've been paying with credit card rewards (for the past several years). So I was thinking I should probably look for a $500 reward. I know there was one I was eligible for again this month, but it looks like that particular reward has dried up, as many of the others have.

I told MH that we had a good run, but we might not be able to find big bonuses any more. (& not that they don't exist, but if we've done them 3 times already they aren't going to let us do the same bonus again).

I will of course keep an eye out, but I am not expecting much on this front. The cc rewards were a nice income stream while MH was out of work. Plan A was that we were just paying from his income anyway.

We decided that MH should use his found $75 for some games. He already spent $25 (bought the VR game that everyone is raving about the most) and is keeping the other $50 for whatever strikes his fancy between now and Christmas. Otherwise the VR system came with some demos/games and he had bought some play station credits on sale a while ago (25% off?) that he has been using.

In general, MH and the kids aren't big game spenders. But it helps when $75 falls out of the sky like the day you get your new VR system. Big Grin (Otherwise, they are filling up their Christmas wish list and will keep an eye on the used market).

Other spending has been far more boring and mundane...

I hired out someone to get our trees trimmed and to pull out dead shrubs. A LOT of work. We had never trimmed the trees (just one monster tree in the back that *really* needed to be tamed). I mean, we did minor pruning that we could do on our own, but the trees are 15 years old at this point and need more work. In the end, monster tree is still enough of a baby that they said we wouldn't need to do a big pruning for another 5 years. The shrubs that the builder had put in all died in the drought (because we couldn't water enough in summer). I think except for two trees in the front, everything else we had put in. It's a hot/dry climate in general so we always need plants that need very little water. I am pleased that everything else seems to have done well with very little water.

**Yesterday I took MM out shopping. He needed a new backpack and a new jacket.

We stopped by Ross, who had TONS of backpacks a couple of weeks ago, but had since cleared out the inventory. But we found a $20 jacket that was just about perfect. My only concern was that it was a bit bulky, as to something to just keep in a backpack (since my kids mostly refuse to wear jackets. It mostly sits in the backpack to appease the teachers who freak out about their lack of warm weather wear).

So... We went over to Target. We found a $30 backpack that he liked. (I told him not to take off the tags until he is sure everything fits).

And... We found his dream jacket. Super light and thin, just for the rain. It was something like $32. I said "whatever" because he was so pleased with it and I knew it would fit way better in his backpack. It wasn't until I got home that I even realized that jacket was on clearance. Yeesh! (Full price $45?) Since they mostly never wear their jackets I am used to just buying whatever on clearance (more in the $10 range). But with MH working and MM being a teenager, I am trying to let his taste come more into play. Thank goodness for places like Ross. & we could probably hit the thrift stores too, but it's just something I haven't done in so long (almost a decade?) with access to such cheap clearance items. I stopped shopping thrift when Target opened a store near our home. The kids' clothes is most often in the $5 range. Plus I can just order online and have it shipped free to my house. & Ross isn't too far off from that for adult clothing. But... Given our finds yesterday, I suppose we need to re-visit thrift options too.

MH has lots of time to kill (in the vicinity of Ross) while he waits for MM to finish his math class, so I will just have him return the other jacket during the week.

I didn't pick anything else up at Target. It's how I have been since we got a Target credit card. I generally would never do a store credit card and feel uncomfortable with it, but we got the cc because we do primarily grocery shopping there and the 5% off is pretty sweet. I think my reaction to that was to just avoid Target like the plague. I just didn't need any additional temptation. & so is the irony that I have probably never spent less money at Target. I mean, how many years have we had this credit card? At least a few years at this point. I no longer equate Target with hobby shopping or perusing. Just in and out with a list. & I don't think it's an overly conscious thing but it's just how my mindset shifted with the credit card.

Ross is another story. I didn't have my internal alarms turned up, and so my attitude was completely different in Ross. I fell in love with a $10 blanket that I happened to walk by. I actually resisted it the first pass, but then decided I couldn't remember the last time I bought myself something. Just $10! So I am glad I decided to splurge. (The blanket is very soft and just gorgeous).

I also found a drawstring bag (but more sturdier/higher quality) for $3 and so I just grabbed it for our re-usable bag stash. Reminds me that MH also got a free bag from work.

May Doings, High School Stuff

May 7th, 2016 at 08:22 am

I guess this month is shaping up to be a bit of a chore month on the home front.

3 of us do have dental appointments and will have to get our cat his shots so that we can board him while we vacation. Just stuff like that.

We did have someone come out and clean out the gutters and power wash the house.

On the flip side, things have been pretty quiet. We are so ahead financially on everything that all through tax season I felt like I was forgetting something. But I think we've just gotten so efficient. I don't have anything in particular to tend to or clean up on the paperwork side of things and don't feel like I have done much this year. Since we are always pretty organized, it could just be that life has been *really* quiet. I do think that is some of it. But I am also really appreciating things like pre-paying the property taxes so that I have one less thing to worry about during tax season.

----------------------------------------------------

In other news, we had a meeting with the high school that went really well. They seem infinitely more interested in "proper math placement" than BM's current school. I think they just have different red tape and motivations.

Will see, but so far both schools and the district seem to have no problem with things. If you missed my prior post on this topic, BM's current (middle) school doesn't offer higher math than algebra. He's already been held back more than he should have. We were never promised anything, but our first choice would be that he take math at the high school next year. It's our preference that he take an actual math class with peers. We have the resources to get him a (free) private math tutor if need be, but we kind of figure that is our last resort. We also have some other options that are not very ideal. So this is Plan A. (Plan A seems to be everyone's preference).

I wasn't sure what to expect from the meeting. But I think the bottom line is that they want our kid to attend their low performing school. I do also think our principal framed it with this expectation so that they would work with us. Honestly, this high school is very strongly in the running (they have some great programs for the higher achieving kids). But we haven't made any decisions yet. While there to discuss math (which we did all of a couple of minutes), we did tour the school and talked about the engineering program. Up to this point we've just been thinking of this as a means to get BM the proper math class. We chose this high school 99% because of the close proximity to the middle school, but also because our principal has a very close relationship with the school. But I now realize it is a really nice edge to attend the school for one year and get a feel for the campus. I will say I already have a far more favorable impression of this school administration versus the other high school. But I also think attending the school for an hour per day will give us more information to decide than any first (or second or third) impressions ever will.

I still will believe when I see it. I am sure there is red tape to sort out, even if we haven't been presented with any red tape yet. Schedules have to mesh, etc., etc.

Celery Cat Nip

January 20th, 2015 at 06:10 am

**BM is doing a science experiment with celery plants.

So I come home the other day and our cat is completely and totally BONKERS. He can be a hyper and troublesome cat anyway but he has substantially mellowed after a couple of years with us.

All I could think was... EARTHQUAKE. My dh thinks I am totally insane but there is science to back that up. I will never forget in the Loma Prieta quake when all the birds outside started squawking right before the big quake. (We don't particularly live in earthquake territory though so this pre-earthquake like behavior was a little perplexing. Like holy crap WHAT is coming?? We can feel quakes far away if they are large enough).

Dh is always the smart one that figures these things out. He had noticed that the cat had been particularly enamored with the celery plants. I jumped on the computer hoping we didn't carelessly leave out poisonous plants! Thankfully, that was not it. But what I saw immediately was that some cats react to celery leaves like they are catnip. HA! Dh called it.

The cat has kept out of the plants since and has mellowed out again. I keep expecting to come home to find plants everywhere and the science experiment ruined. Will see... He seems to be staying away from them - maybe that celery high was a bit too much for him.

----------------------------------------------------

One of my recent posts I mentioned a lack of things to buy or a lack of a material wish list at this point.

Of course, I Am well aware we have stuff to maintain and to eventually replace and yadda yadda. It just seems to me that maintaining seems to be a generally much cheaper phase of life than the "accumulation" phase.

So I am sitting back and seeing what has been very low on our priority list and what is floating up to the top now that we really have no purchase priorities?

I have a GAP sweatshirt that I bought in like high school (20 years ago?) that I wear at night. It doesn't need replacing in the slightest but I thought "more than one night sweatshirt" might be nice. It's been kind of "meh" since we have done so much laundry with the kids. Especially when they were in diapers. But you know, I can probably afford a second warm night shirt now and we aren't doing as much laundry as we had been. Going longer between washes... So, I bought a couple from Gap online. Didn't see the exact same thing but thought I'd gamble that they are still making half the quality they did in the 1990s. Who knows. Their stuff was on sale. I actually gambled on a large boys' sweatshirt (it actually fit and I really like it) and then just got a large mens' sweatshirt. I figured if the boys' one was too small I could just give it to the kids. It's what looked closest to what I Wanted and both were on clearance. Of course they had nothing like my incredible sweatshirt!

That's my January improvement, I suppose.

February? I am thinking toilet seat. Our toilet seat has gotten scratched up for whatever reason. I think we should buy one and see how we like it. If we find a nice seat then probably should just replace the other two. I don't know that the other two are messed up but they do have some stains. At the least, would be nice to have a new toilet seat in the guest bath. This will be a very nice but inexpensive improvement. I see all the toilet seats these days are "slow closing". That will be nice actually. Our weather is too mild to care about warm seats and stuff like that (though I saw a lot of those too).

Paid $3.04 for gas

October 15th, 2014 at 08:14 am

What a nice surprise at the pump!

**Filled up the van today, should be the only time this month. Timing worked out well.

I had filled up 3 times last month because MIL requested we bring van down once when her sister was in town. This month, no one drove the van the 6 weekdays I had off from work. So I guess it all evens out.

I usually fill up the van twice a month. I've just been commuting with the van because we have been doing so many longer trips in the gas sipper.

I like the gas prices today considering we are driving to Napa and San Francisco next week.

**Current carpool arrangements (knock on wood)... Neighbor is picking up kids all week and then dh next week, alternating. I still just take BM on my way to work. I offered to take neighbor child as long as he is at our house in time but they have not taken us up on that offer.

This is new for this year since their child is a year younger and was at the other (Walking distance) campus last year. Neighbor keeps telling us he will be working and unavailable but then he is not. Is good for us I guess, but bad to see how unemployed he is at the moment. (They are *awesome* neighbors but their home has shown to be in foreclosure for over a year. Public records. No idea what is up with that. Is the curse of our carpool).

**Reminds me, dh has been helping out divorced (last year carpool) friends with a lot of babysitting. He was assertive that things were not working out so well and it seems they are kind of pissy with us. Whatever! We are not your personal free babysitter. Never minded helping them because they always returned the favor best they could and were very gracious.

Anyway, I hope newly divorced mom was just surprised or feelings briefly hurt and she gets over it. It's nothing personal. Her child is WAY younger which is most of the problem. In a couple of years I don't know that it would matter. Dh is always way too nice about this stuff but always draws the line once it affects the kids. My kids were getting really cranky about it. (I would have been cranky too. I can't say I would have ever agreed to watch a 7yo. But dh has way more patience for kids. It's not just that dh changed his mind. She kept bringing him over 2-3 times more often than she had asked. So, she can't be surprised that dh was getting annoyed).

**Dh got a 3rd and 4th opinion and repaired the crack in our stucco. Final cost? About $4 in supplies, plus borrowed a ladder from a neighbor. Woohoo! I always love it when nasty looking home repairs turn out to be like $10 or less to fix. It happens sometimes.

**Oh, and I almost forgot the best news of all! Did not run the AC yesterday and the weather looks favorable for turning it off for the season. Phew! We have been running the AC every day this month, which is ridiculous.

We usually don't turn on the heat until Thanksgiving. With this crazy weather, who knows...