Friday, March 27, 2015

The Week In Review - Birthday Week

It's a special day today.  My oldest son R turns twenty-something.  I don't want to think of the number too much.  It reminds me of my own age, something I've been trying to ignore lately.

It's been a pretty good week, as weeks go.  Public schools were off, so traffic was a bit lighter.  So was work.  There were lots of kids that didn't come for tutoring because they've gone out of town for spring break.  It was a bit unnerving, trying to figure out things to do when there was nothing to do.  My boss gave me a list of parents he wants to meet with in the next month, so I called a bunch of them to make appointments.  I couldn't call all of them; making appointments too far in advance means parents forget and reschedule, and I didn't want that to happen, so I made appointments for next week.  That means I had to stretch out the list to make it last as long as possible.

My boss's wife, MM, has again made comments leading me to believe that she wants to spend less time at the office.  It bothers me, not because of the work, but because she won't just come out and say it.  I was hired, supposedly, to assist her with her work because the workload was overwhelming.  What I'm seeing, is that she wants to walk away and leave me in charge.

Honestly, as I observe and learn more, I find that a lot of the workload could easily be lightened by changing some procedures.  MM is very set in her ways; she's been doing things a certain way for the past 11 years, and she isn't about to change them, no matter how much better another method might be.  I've tried showing her different things she can do to reduce her workload, but she looks at it with total disbelief and shrugs it off.  It became a bit frustrating for me this week, especially.  We bill our customers once a month for the next month's tutoring sessions.  It takes a long time to do, because MM wants all the invoices done by hand, then entered into the computer.  The system could easily print off the invoices - I even showed her how simple it is - but she refuses.  The part-printed/part-handwritten invoices are so sloppy looking and unprofessional, yet she won't look at any other option.  I worked the entire time on that yesterday, and I'm still not finished writing out the invoices.  I tried entering the invoices into the computer as I wrote them to show her how much more effective that would be, but she wouldn't accept that either.  I wrote them by hand, she checked what I wrote and entered the information into the computer.  I just shook my head; she creates more work for herself, but as my daughter wisely pointed out, it's her business.  She's the boss.  She decides how she wants things done, and I have to do them.  But it's no wonder she's burned out, with the amount of extra work she makes for herself.

We had no Awana this Wednesday because of Spring Break, but my son told me there would be youth group.  I got out of work, rushed to the house and went to church.  Turned out youth group had been cancelled, but my son never got the text message from his youth pastor.  Poor Pastor D, he was so apologetic.  It was for the best, though.  E got some schoolwork caught up.  It's been a busy school week but E's done really well.  He took his science exam this morning and got a 94%.  I was pleasantly surprised; it was a tricky test, and though he studied for it for two days I didn't know if he'd do well.  Praise God, he aced the test and we breathed a sigh of relief that it's over!

We had a mini celebration for R's birthday.  We gave him his gifts this morning: his sister A got him volume 3 of the cartoon Animaniacs, E got him the game Vanquish for the X-Box, and I got him the complete set of Megaman cartoons on DVD along with the new Kirby game for the WiiU.  He was all smiles.  Then we went out for lunch to a nice restaurant in town.  For dessert, my daughter made these incredible cupcakes.  They're dark chocolate with a Nutella frosting.  The best part was inside the cupcake - she filled them with an Oreo creme filling she made from a recipe she found on Pinterest.  It was like eating an Oreo cookie, but in cupcake form.  Oh my word, they are beyond delicious!!  She stayed up till late last night after work baking and decorating them, and her brother appreciated it.  He even took some to his friends for them to try.  I think he was proud of his little sister for the yummy treat she baked, and she was beaming because we couldn't stop raving about them!

It's a gorgeous day out - hot but not humid, sunny and breezy.  That may change, as the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms this afternoon, but we're really hoping that won't happen.  My daughter is going to an outdoor wedding this afternoon, and no one wants to go to an outdoor wedding under the rain.

That's it for this week - so far anyway.  Here's to wishing everyone a wonderful weekend.  God bless!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday, Monday

How quickly our time off ends, how slowly our work week progresses...

It's back to school today, and no, my son isn't looking forward to it.  While he much prefers homeschooling, he hates the fact that his friends are off from school this week for spring break.  I'm sure it won't be as bad as he thinks; thanks to technology, he's able to play games and chat with his buddies without having to leave the house.  Boy, it sure was different when I was growing up!  The most I could do was talk on the phone, and since there was only one line (no call waiting back then) my dad would get mad if we were on the phone more than 10 minutes.  His logic was, phones should only be used in emergencies.  If you want to talk to people, go see them in person.  I don't think my dad would approve of the texting generation.

My face was still broken out on Saturday despite taking Benadryl the night before, which was weird, but it wasn't spreading or getting worse, so I did my normal morning routine.  The only thing I left out was the Mineralixer oil from Bare Minerals I've been trying out; I figured it was the newest thing I'd added to my skincare regimen so I should leave it out.

I woke up with a ton of energy.  I started cleaning the hallway bathroom and looked at the walls.  When we remodeled the bathrooms back in 2009, I'd painted the hall bathroom in an olive-y kind of green.  I love color, and I'm not afraid to use darker tones on the walls.  It looked pretty when I first did it, but after 6 years the paint was looking dull and dirty.  Add to that the fact that this is the room where my daughter does her makeup, and she complains that there isn't enough light in the bathroom.  I tried doing my makeup in there, and I had to agree.  So I looked through the paints I had in the garage, and found some leftover tan color paint from my bedroom.  It's a color I like to call "cafe con leche" (coffee with milk).  While it isn't necessarily a light color, it is lighter than the green, and any amount of lightness would help.  It's a tiny bathroom, so it neither needed much paint nor time, but it's hard to paint because it is so small a space.  Getting the ladder around was tricky, and the paint tray had to stay in the hallway because it wouldn't fit in the bathroom.  Still, it got done in about an hour, and it looks nice and clean.  The color isn't bold like the green was, but I think my daughter will appreciate the brightness a lighter color brings.

I got both bathrooms cleaned, then went back to Pep Boys to get my tires balanced.  I'd gotten new tires last Sunday, and when I got on the expressway Thursday for my hair appointment, the car was shaking like there was an earthquake.  Scared me a bit, I've got to say.  So I had that taken care of, then headed over to Payless Shoe Source.  I had a 15% off coupon so I figured it wouldn't hurt to see what they had.  Lately I'd been disappointed with the selection at Payless; the shoes were overpriced knock-offs that weren't comfortable or even pretty.  This time I had a much better experience.  They've got their summer sandals and shoes, and I found two pairs of wedges that are not only cute but very comfy to walk around in!  The selection at this particular Payless was slim - I don't know if they haven't received the newer stock or if they sold out - but I got a pair in black with brown straps and a pair in a nice cream color with espadrille heels.

I especially love the black ones!  I wore them to church yesterday and they are super comfortable to walk in!

Sunday morning, very first thing in the morning, I got a visit from my monthly friend.  There went my energy level, down the drain.  I was dragging my feet all day yesterday.  My stomach felt like it had rocks in it, my back was achy and I sat around doing nothing - well no, not exactly nothing; I did a bunch of laundry.  I still have to fold it, though.  But at least the day wasn't a total waste.

One thing I did notice this morning - the breakout on my face has almost completely disappeared, which means it wasn't an allergy like I'd thought.  It was purely hormonal.  It's rough being a girl, let me tell you.

It's just about time to start school, so I say farewell for now, and to all, have a blessed week.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Week In Review

It was my intention to post more frequently this week, since it was spring break for my son.  So much for good intentions...

For some reason (that no one seems to understand), schools in South Florida all have different weeks for their Spring Break.  Homeschool students were off this past week, while public school students are off next week.  Since many students have dual enrollment, taking certain honors classes online while still attending traditional school, I have to wonder why they couldn't come together and agree on having Spring Break at the same time?  While it's true that homeschooling is flexible, Florida Virtual School has changes to the curriculum that often don't happen till the day before an assignment is due, or at the beginning of the school week.  Trying to get ahead can be tricky; an assignment might be cancelled or an alternate given, in which case the student would have worked for nothing.  I just think it would have made more sense to have both take their breaks at the same time.

Now add to that the fact that private schools don't have the same Spring Break as public schools.  Some private schools will be closed next week, same as public schools, but Catholic schools are off the week after Holy Week.  That's another change I don't understand; traditionally, Catholic schools were closed during Holy Week.  Anyway, our tutoring center decided to close during the time the Catholic schools close since we have so many students from Catholic schools, and because some of the Protestant private schools will be open but the kids will be taking their SAT's so they won't be coming to tutoring.  That would have meant way too many absences, so it's better to close.

This week I spent a good amount of time adjusting next week's schedule.  With public schools being closed next week, we've had dozens of parents calling in to let us know their kids won't be coming to tutoring because they're going out of town for Spring Break.  Unfortunately it's not possible for the center to be closed for two separate weeks, so we'll be open next week even though it might resemble a bit of a ghost town.

I've also been doing a lot of work on my own.  Tuesday marked my one month anniversary working at the center, but I've already been left to take care of the front desk by myself twice.  I've come to the realization that my boss, MM, is burned out.  She and her husband have owned the tutoring center for over 11 years, and in that time she's take one break.  She's run the front desk on her own for a long time; she's had people working there with her, but they've been tutors, who have to leave as soon as their students arrive.  I think she wants to be able to take some time off once in awhile, without worrying about whether everything is being taken care of.  She wants to walk away and spend time with her kids, with her mom who is getting up in years, with friends she doesn't see too often.  I totally get it, and I'm honored that she trusts me enough to leave me in charge, though I know she's a bit of a control freak and won't let go completely.  She still looks over my shoulders a lot, which I have to get used to.

One thing that unnerved me this week, though, was having to tutor a couple of kids.  There's a stomach flu going around, and one of our teachers had to go to the hospital because she became so sick.  She had some students that needed homework help, and there was no one else available to tutor them.  I was "volunteered", which I didn't mind since they were both elementary school students.  What upset me was that I was pretty much thrown to the lions, so to speak: I received no training on any of the programs, no instruction on what to do, and I had no clue what I was supposed to be doing.  Thankfully the first student was eager to explain everything his teacher does with him, and another teacher (who is an absolute doll) showed me where the material was, and I was able to work with the two boys.  They assigned another teacher (she's a wonderful young lady as well) to train me, but that wasn't until the next day.  I think in their minds tutoring would be a no-brainer for a homeschooling mom.  I had to explain what the big difference is: when I homeschool, it's my kid.  If I mess up I don't have to answer to anyone, I just have to fix it.  The kids that come to the tutoring center are paying customers.  Their parents expect a certain level of instruction that I am not qualified to give.  I'm all about being a team player and helping out whenever I'm needed, so long as I'm properly prepared to do the task.  I didn't feel that I was at that time, and it made me feel uncomfortable, which I let them know.

The rest of the week went smoother.  Since I didn't have to homeschool, I polished some of the floors that had gotten dulled from moving furniture boxes around.  Thursday I got a haircut - I went back to the short bob I'd gotten back in October.  My hair had been chin length at that time, and it had grown past my shoulders.  I debated whether to cut it short or not, but since my hair grows so much as so quickly, I decided to go for it and had it cut chin length again.  This way all the dull and damaged ends are gone, and I'm left with healthier hair to grow out.        

I've been having some breakouts this week.  I hadn't had pimples like this in ages, but Wednesday I had three - THREE! - on my face, two of them plainly on my chin.  I scrubbed them good, and two of them actually popped.  Then yesterday after lunch I started noticing a different kind of breakout.  I have several spots on my face that are not zits.  These look like hives, like when I have allergies.  My allergies have been running rampant lately thanks to the warmer weather, but I suspect this may have been from the fish I had for lunch yesterday.  I made it myself, and I've had tilapia before, but reactions can happen at any time.  I took a Benadryl last night but this morning they're still there.  At least there aren't more, nor has it spread to any other part of my body.  Not that I like having them on my face :P.  Yesterday they were a bit itchy; that isn't the case today.

That was my week, in a nutshell.  I'm off to clean bathrooms now - thrilling, huh?  Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Product Review: Complexion Rescue

Back in February I got Bare Mineral's new product, Complexion Rescue.  It's a combination of a BB cream, a CC cream, and a tinted moisturizer.  I had tried the sample that was sent to me and I liked the feel of it, so I decided it was worth purchasing.  I've been using it for over a month now, and while it took me awhile to figure out the best way to use it, I have to say it has quickly become a favorite in my makeup collection.

The first couple of times I tried using Complexion Rescue as a tinted moisturizer on its own, I wasn't thrilled with it.  It is very hydrating, which my dry skin loves, but it left my face looking very shiny.  It also felt tacky, which isn't a good thing when you're trying to put other stuff on, like bronzer or blush.  I began using it as a primer for the Bareskin foundation instead, and I really liked it for that.  It made my liquid foundation last longer, and I could use less of it because Complexion Rescue is tinted.  But it bothered me that I couldn't use it the way I'd originally intended.  I had bought Complexion Rescue so that I could use it on days when I didn't want to wear a face full of makeup, but I also didn't want to look like I'd just rolled out of bed.  Days like when I'm running errands or going to the grocery store.  I was upset that it didn't want to work that way.

What I didn't realize, was that I was treating the product like a foundation, which it isn't.  Complexion Rescue is marketed as "a tinted hydrating gel cream."  In other words, it's a tinted moisturizer with some added bonuses, but it's still a moisturizer.  I had to treat it like a moisturizer.  When I apply moisturizer after washing my face, I always wait 20-30 minutes before applying makeup.  This is because the moisturizer needs time to absorb into the skin.  If I tried to put makeup on immediately after putting on moisturizer, I'd have a sloppy, cakey mess.  For Complexion Rescue to work, I had to do the same thing.  Once I modified my routine, I began to see the results I'd been hoping for.

This is my makeup routine when I use Complexion Rescue:  Step one, I always cleanse and moisturize my face.  No artist would think to paint a beautiful painting on a dirty canvas!  Step two, moisturize.  If I'm going to be out and about, I use a moisturizer with SPF, like Olay Complete.  Step three, let the moisturizer set for at least 20 minutes.  A moisturizer with SPF could take even longer, but since my skin is normal to dry it tends to soak up the moisturizer pretty quick.  Step four, apply Complexion Rescue.  I've tried doing it with my fingers (ended up using too much), my perfecting face brush (okay but not the best), and ultimately with my Real Techniques buffing brush (winner!).  Step five (and this one is important), wait again for at least 20 minutes so the product can be absorbed.  This step made all the difference!  After 20 minutes, my skin didn't look shiny nor did it feel tacky.  I was able to finish up my makeup in just a few minutes.

The rest of my makeup routine is simple: I put on some powder concealer (I use Bare Minerals Summer Bisque), and finish it off with mineral veil, which is Bare Minerals' finishing powder.  I feel like this is key in helping Complexion Rescue last longer.  After that I can add bronzer, blush, eye makeup, whatever I feel like wearing that day.  Or I can add nothing at all.  It leaves my skin looking and feeling so fresh and youthful, that it can stand alone.

My thoughts on Complexion Rescue:

Pros:  If you have dry skin, this product will be your best friend.  It is so hydrating!  My skin is in love with Complexion Rescue.  It goes on very smoothly, and while it isn't anywhere near full coverage (I would say light to medium at most), it does a great job of hiding my pores, which is a definite plus!  It also lasts - I used it in the morning to go to a bible study class, then came home and cleaned the yard, mowed the grass, and scrubbed the patio floor and furniture.  When I went in to take my shower, I was shocked to see how well my makeup had held up!  I've never looked so pretty while doing yardwork!  It also kept my skin protected, thanks to the SPF of 30 that it contains.

Cons:  If you have oily skin, this product may not be for you.  If you have lots of blemishes or scarring, this product might not be for you.  And, it's pricey - $29 for 1.18 fl. oz.  I waited till I had some points from Ulta so I could get it at a cheaper price, which I'd recommend.

Would I buy Complexion Rescue again?  In a heartbeat!  It's a perfect addition to my makeup routine, one that is good for my skin and makes me feel oh so pretty.  What's not to love?

My Not-So-Restful Saturday

Saturdays are typically busy days.  Finding time to rest on a Saturday is like finding a needle in a haystack - you might find it, but it'll probably hurt.

My boss MM decided to have a women's bible study class at work.  Her husband has been doing a men's bible study group on Thursday night for years, and he's been encouraging her to do the same.  I wasn't sure what to expect, especially since it was supposed to start Saturday morning at 9:30 and end at 11:30.  A two hour bible study?!  Sounded a bit lengthy, but I told her I would go so long as my son's eye was better.

I got up early and E's eye looked almost completely normal, praise the Lord.  There's still some irritation around the inner part of the eye but it's minimal.  I started getting ready but told my daughter I didn't think I'd go very early.  After all, Saturdays are cleaning day, and my yard needed a ton of cleaning!  As I was finishing my breakfast, I was telling my daughter something when we heard the sound of her dad coming.  I can't begin to explain how uncomfortable it becomes in my house when he comes over.  His attitude is one of negativity and complaining; he complains about his health, he complains about his job, he complains about his car, he complains about the kids, yada yada yada.  It's like he sucks the peacefulness out of my home.  He was here for about a half hour, which meant I was late to the bible study class, and quite honestly I wasn't in the best mood.  It's very difficult not to be affected by the atmosphere of negativity.  I could see, though, why God scheduled this bible study when He did.  It wasn't anything new, nothing I hadn't learned from studying God's word on my own, but just being in a room full of ladies who were encouraging, loving, and welcoming, lifted my spirits.  I was annoyed when I got there, but my heart filled up with peace as we prayed for the needs of others and I stopped focusing on myself.  I'll tell you what, when you're praying for the healing of a 12 year old girl with leukemia, all other problems become insignificant.

I left as soon as we finished so that I could attack my backyard.  With homeschooling, work, and everything in between, I hadn't had a chance to tackle the grass.  Add to that several days of on and off rain showers, and my yard was starting to look a bit Amazonian.  I started by clearing some boxes out of the garage - my son had taken a bunch of stuff to the dump, but he worked all day today so I just threw a bunch of stuff in the trash can.  I then had to go to the backyard and pick up several palm fronds and coconuts that had fallen yesterday thanks to the rain and strong winds.  I finally got to actually mowing the lawn, which took about an hour.  I did one side of the front yard, but not the other.  My neighbor on the left was having an open house and I didn't want to get her yard full of grass clippings after she'd cleaned it up.  My neighbor has had her house up for sale for a couple months now, on her own.  The neighbor on her left wanted to buy the house, and it looked like they would get it, but the deal fell through just a few days before closing.  All parties concerned were terribly disappointed, but as I told my neighbor, God must have something better planned.  As I was trimming some plants in the front yard she gave me the news: the house was sold.  I couldn't believe it - she'd only just given the house to her realtor a week ago!  What we found out was, homes in our area sell quickly.  It's a lovely neighborhood, right across the street from a park, the schools are excellent, and there is very little inventory.  Whenever a house goes on the market, it flies.  It'll be sad to say goodbye to them; we moved in at about the same time almost 15 years ago.  But I do understand her position: her marriage crumbled, she works far from the house, and taking care of her kids has become difficult when she spends so much time in traffic (and money on gas).  This is what is best for her family right now, so I know she's making the right choice.

Once I was done with the mowing and trimming, I came inside and ate some fish and chips with sauteed veggies that my daughter prepared before going back outside to clean the patio.  It had gotten so grimy thanks to the branches that had fallen on it last night and all the dirt from the wind and rain, it looked like the house had been abandoned.  I was out there for two hours cleaning, but I can say it looks a whole lot better.

I came inside and decided to heat up some frozen pizzas, which got devoured by my son E and my daughter.  It wasn't until my son R got home from work that I realized the significance of that:  today is 3/14/15, or 3.1415.  That's right, it's Pi Day, and my kids had pizza pie.  I had forgotten about it, so it was completely by chance that it happened the way it did.

Since it's the day before Sunday (and I was a filthy mess) I showered and did my hair.  I told my friend that I liked the Smoothing Therapy shampoo and conditioner except for the fact that they aren't very moisturizing like my OGX shampoo, and she recommended I use my regular shampoo first, then wash it a second time with the Smoothing Therapy.  I must say, it does make a big difference.  My hair feels softer and smoother doing it this way.  There is one thing though: I have to cut my hair.  I haven't cut it since October, and the ends are badly in need of a cut.  I'm gonna see about getting an appointment for this week, since my son is on spring break (Hallelujah!).

It was mani/pedi day as well.  I don't know why, but I find that giving myself a manicure and pedicure is relaxing.  Plus I like the way it looks when I'm done.

That was my day.  I had hoped for a slower paced day, but who was I kidding?  My to-do list was out of control, and needed to be tamed.  There's still plenty to do, but God willing I will make a dent in it this week.  As for now, I say, goodnight.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Week In Review

It's Friday, and this is the first chance I have to sit down at my computer to do something other than schoolwork.  Yes, it's been a crazy busy week.  Let me tell you all about it.

This week was my son E's last week of school before spring break, so I knew we'd have a lot of work to do before he could sit back and relax.  His allergies have been acting up lately, what with the weather being wacky, and he'd been scratching his eyes quite a bit, especially at church on Sunday.  His left eye looked irritated, so I did most of the reading to him so he could rest his eyes.  He had portfolios due this week for science, hope, music, and English, plus he had his unit test in algebra.  I worked with him and he got quite a bit done, but not everything.  I came home from work and we did some more school, but he wasn't feeling well due to his eye bothering him, so he went to bed.

Tuesday morning we got up early to work some more, but his eye was looking pretty bad.  It wasn't red but it was crusty.  He said it hurt, only not his eye.  What hurt was his eyelid, the outer part of the eye.  I found some eye ointment and put it on him, and we continued doing school.  I have to admit, I was starting to get stressed.  My son was falling behind in his schoolwork, his eye was getting more swollen, and my boss told me she'd be taking the day off on Thursday.  I was praying the ointment would alleviate the irritation in my son's eye; if it didn't I'd have to seek medical attention, and quick.

Wednesday morning, it became clear that my son needed a doctor.  His eye looked positively awful, and he wasn't able to sleep because his eye kept crusting over all night.  Thankfully I was able to get him an appointment for 10:30 am.  We did an hour and a half of school before we left.  Wednesday is his busiest school day, because he has 3 live lessons to attend.  I knew he'd miss his science class, but at least he could attend music.  I was so glad the doctor was able to see him.  The office was so packed, but there are several doctors at this practice, and I wasn't going to be picky.  His regular doctor didn't see him, but the one that did is great.  She examined him thoroughly, then said he had an eye infection, most probably due to all the scratching he'd been doing.  The eye is so delicate, and scratching it (especially with dirty hands) can easily bring on an infection.  She was concerned, however, that he might possibly have eczema on that eyelid as well.  E had eczema as a small child but never on his face; it was always in the back of his elbows and knees.  She gave me an appointment to come back today (Friday) to have it looked at again.  Meanwhile she sent him some eye drops, an ointment, and Zyrtec for the allergies in addition to Allegra.  I about passed out when I saw the pharmacy bill for the meds:  $130!  And I have insurance!!  So much for affordable healthcare :P.  It took an hour waiting at the pharmacy for the medicines, which got me to work late.  Talk about really stressing out!  Good thing I only work 3 hours on Wednesdays, because I go to church and serve in Awana.  This Wednesday, however, we didn't go to church.  E didn't have youth group anyway (they'd gone on a trip the day before) and I wasn't going to take him with me to be around the little kids with his eye all swollen.  Besides, there was lots of schoolwork to catch up on, so that's what we did.  I missed my girls, but I'm glad I stayed and took care of my son who needed me more.

Already Thursday he was feeling better, even though the Zyrtec made him sleepy.  We got lots of schoolwork done in the morning, then I went off to work.  I wasn't sure if my boss would be there or not; she wanted the day off, but I don't think her husband knows what to do without her there.  He really depends on her a lot!  I walked into the office, and MM was nowhere to be found.  I said a short prayer, then got to work.  It actually went pretty well!  My daughter said I looked like I had it all together and was more relaxed than I'd been all week.  The other teachers were so helpful, too.  They pitched in if I asked them for help or if I had any questions.  MM did finally show up about an hour before closing; I think when you've been at the helm for so many years it's hard to let go, or believe someone else can do the work.  I hope that, as she sees the work I do and that things are running smoothly, she can trust me to work on my own without having to check on me constantly.  I have always worked independently, so it's weird for me to have someone looking over my shoulder, but I also recognize I've been there for less than a month.  Obviously there's still much I don't know, and much I need to learn.  With God's help I'll manage, I'm sure.  After work I sat down with E and told him we would finish school.  Spring break would begin on Friday, and he needed to have all his work turned in by Thursday night.  I'm pleased to say, he did it!  The only thing left was a report on Beethoven's symphony Eroica, and he sent it in at 10:30 at night.  We won't have to think about school till March 23rd.  Hallelujah!

This morning (my "day off") found me back at the doctor's office with my son.  He had to be there at 8:00 for his recheck.  When I woke him up in the morning, he let out a yell and said, "My eye isn't stuck together!"  Poor kid, he'd been waking up to an eye that was sealed shut every morning, and now the medicine was doing its work and he was looking considerably better.  There's flaking around the eye where the rash is drying up, but the swelling is almost completely gone.  Praise the Lord!  The doctor was pleased to see how much his eye had improved in such a short amount of time.  It was a huge relief for me as well.  I trust God, and I know He will always do what is right and best for me and my family, but I won't deny, when one of my children is sick it's like the life is drained out of me.  All I want is for them to get better.  I guess I'm no different from every other mom in the world.

After we'd finished at the doctor's office, I dropped him off at the house and began my journey into grocery shopping.  I started off at Winn-Dixie, hoping to find some good deals on meats.  I got a package of steak and a London broil that were on sale, but the ground beef was ridiculous.  $4.53 a pound?!  Gimme a break people!  I skipped on that, but did get my canned goods, pastas, breads, those sorts of things, spending a total of $93.18.  Not bad, considering my total budget is $300.  I dropped that food off at the house, then headed out to Walmart.  I picked up whatever I hadn't gotten at Winn-Dixie, like dog food and breakfast foods, plus I got some ham steaks and frozen foods, and spent $97.70.  I left there and stopped off at Pep Boys.  I was in need of tires - bad - but I'd had to wait till I had my income tax return.  Now that I had the money (and the time) I went and scheduled my tire replacement appointment for 4:00.  From there I went to Costco to get my bulk items, including ground beef.  I don't particularly care for the ground beef at Costco (it's very fatty IMO) but it's $3.79 a pound, a large cry from the $4.53/lb at Winn-Dixie.  My total at Costco was $70.87, bringing my total to $261.75, $38.25 under budget.  That's great, because this week I bought pizza from Little Caesars and KFC on Wednesday when I was running around with my son, so I'm still within my budget.

I got all the groceries home and put away with my daughter's help.  After lunch we made a trip to the bank so I could finish opening a checking account.  I wanted a separate account for myself now that I'm working, and I'd tried doing it online so I wouldn't have to visit the branch.  It worked - but when I tried using online banking, I found out I'd have to go to the bank to get a special pin number.  So much for not having to make the trip :P.  To give you an idea how crazy our weather is in Florida, we got to the bank as it was starting to look like rain.  We were there for about 20 minutes, in which time it rained pretty heavy and steady, but by the time we were done the sun was out and it didn't look like it had rained at all.  That is so typical in Florida, it surprises none of the locals.

I came back home to drop my daughter off (she'd gone with me to the bank), then went to get my new tires.  While I was there my daughter made one of my all-time favorites, spaghetti carbonara.  Boy was I thankful for that!  After a non-stop day it's really nice to come home to a delicious meal.  I'm so blessed.

Bare Escentuals had another Beauty Rush on Wednesday (my very insane day), and I was gonna skip it because I didn't think I'd have time to even look at what they had.  But while we were having lunch I took a peek to see if they had any skincare on sale, and they did.  I went ahead and placed an order for a kit containing neck cream, toner pads and body lotion; then I found an eyeshadow duo for $7 and another kit for $21 and I snatched them both up.  That was before I found out that my son's medicines were $130.  Part of me wishes I'd waited and not placed the order; part of me can't wait till it gets here!

There's more to add to my "fun" week, but I'll leave it for the weekend.  Right now I think I'll take a shower, then relax a bit before bed.  I think I've earned it.  Good night ya'll.  Pleasant dreams.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Product Review: Smoothing Therapy by Keratin Complex

A couple of weeks ago I got to my Sunday school class late - again.  Thankfully I wasn't the only one late that day.  There was only one other person in class, and she'd gotten there moments before.  We started talking about how we'd gotten up late and were rushed out the door, and she said she hadn't had a chance to wash her hair, which she does daily because her hair is so oily.  I told her I had the opposite problem: my hair is dry, and if I wash it more than twice a week it turns into a dried out,  frizzy mess.  I also mentioned that I have to use shampoos without sulfates, since these dull my hair color.  She also colors her hair, and told me the only product that works for her is one her mom, who is a hairdresser, sells at her salon.  She said she'd bring me some samples to try.  I left it at that; honestly, I didn't think about it again the rest of the week.

This past Sunday we come to class, and my friend had the samples for me.  I was so touched by her kindness in remembering, and I thanked her profusely, promising to try the products.  I'd just colored my hair on Friday, so I didn't wash it again until Tuesday.  As promised, I put Keratin Complex's Smoothing Therapy to the test.

As I poured the shampoo into my hand, the first thought that came to my mind was, "This is for oily hair."  It was very liquidy and didn't feel moisturizing at all.  I gave my hair its first wash; there was barely any lather.  That didn't bother me; shampoos with too much lather tend to have lots of sulfates.  This didn't seem to be leaving my hair very clean, though, and that did trouble me.  On my second wash it did seem to be doing the job, but it still felt kind of drying.  Then I used the conditioner, and again it didn't feel moisturizing in the least.  I looked over both bottles but neither one specified if it was for oily, normal, or dry hair.  It just says its for color care.  I was tempted to grab my OGX shampoo and wash my hair again, but I didn't feel I'd be doing the shampoo justice if I did that.  Besides, my friend had been so sweet to bring me these samples, how could I not give her the benefit of the doubt?  If I didn't like them I could be honest about it, but only if I really gave them a chance.  So, I finished washing my hair and prepared to dry it.  I did use my Kerastase Reflection Chroma Thermique heat protectant to protect my hair from the blow dryer and straightening iron, and a tiny drop of BioSilk because of the humidity - I use these regularly when I style my hair.  I dried and straightened my hair, and it looked...


I could not believe how shiny my hair looked!  I was so surprised, because the shampoo does not feel moisturizing in the least, but it gave my hair incredible sheen.  Admittedly, it isn't as soft as when I use my OGX products, but it did look fabulous!  Even more surprising was the next day - it looked like I'd just washed and styled it!  When I told my daughter that I'd used the products my friend gave me, she said, "I was wondering about that, and I was going to ask what you'd done to your hair because it looks really nice."  Yep, that good!

My hair looked great for 3 days.  This morning it looked droopy and in need of some TLC.  I wondered if the shampoo and conditioner had actually done so terrific a job, or if it was because I'd just colored my hair a few days before.  Was my hair still going to look as beautiful as the first time I'd used it?  The answer:  Yes!  I washed and styled my hair, and I can say that the color is vivid and my hair looks shiny and clean.

My final thoughts on Smoothing Therapy by Keratin Complex:

Pros - My hair looks like I just walked out of a salon, and the look lasts for a good 3 days.  It does a good job of cleaning my hair.  It keeps the frizziness at bay so I don't have to worry about my hair looking like I've stuck my finger in an electric socket.

Cons - This is not a moisturizing shampoo.  If you have oily hair, this will make you very happy.  If you have normal to dry or very dry hair, it's not going to feel as soft as a moisturizing shampoo will make it feel.  

Ultimately, it comes down to what's more important: hair that looks great or hair that feels soft and silky.  Mind you, my hair looks soft and silky, it just doesn't feel that way, at least not to me.  

Will I buy this product?  I have to say, I'm still kind of on the fence.  I like my hair to feel soft, and this product isn't meant for that.  But I can't help seeing how beautiful my hair looks and wanting that for keeps!  I'm gonna have to use this some more and see how it works over time.  Thankfully the samples are deluxe sized, so I'll be able to test it for longer than two washes.  My main concern of course is having my hair get drier.  We'll have to see.  I'll keep ya'll updated. 

My "Day Off"

I wanted to post about my crazy "day off" yesterday, but by the end of the day I was beyond exhausted.  I couldn't even think straight anymore.  So here I am, giving a recap of Friday on Saturday, though I can't say I'm fully recovered.

Let me just mention, for starters, that I love to decorate.  I love fixing up my house, whether for holidays and special occasions or just everyday.  I love changing things up.  I love moving furniture around and into different rooms to get a new look.  Even when I was young and living with my parents, I would change things up and move them around.  I love to paint, I love to clean and polish and dust and shop for beautiful get the picture.

When my two older kids came home from living in Central Florida, they brought a bunch of furniture with them, including a sofa and love seat we'd bought them at a furniture outlet store.  At first I put them in the garage, since my son's desire was to look for a place and take the furniture with him.  Things didn't work out for him financially, and it made no sense to me to have brand new furniture in the garage while I was sitting on faded furniture that was 13 years old.  So I sold the old sofa and love seat and put the new items in the family room.  It worked quite nicely.

Last year I decided to get an electric fireplace/media center for the living room, and I got rid of the enormous wall unit that was in the family room.

The wall unit worked while we had the oversized television set, but once that broke (and there was no way to get it repaired) I was left with a gaping hole in the wall unit.  I tried fitting other things in there but it didn't work.  Out it went, and a television table the kids brought back with them took its place.

I'd originally put it in the living room, but I moved it to the family room and put the fireplace/media console in there instead.  I flanked it with bookshelves, a look I documented here.  And that worked as well.  I was super happy with the way the house looked.

Unfortunately, the furniture we'd bought for the kids was not the greatest quality.  It was 3 1/2 years old but looked like we'd been sitting on it for 20 years.  The cushions were attached to the furniture, and they were sagging horribly.  The frame under the cushions also appeared to be sagging.  The fabric itself looked the worse for wear.  It's microfiber, which usually stands up to all kinds of abuse, but this fabric was stained and the stain wasn't coming off.  I tried covering the sofa with a fluffy blanket so the sagging wouldn't show too much, but it wasn't fooling anyone.  I had moved this furniture into the living room at Christmastime because the tree wouldn't fit in there with the recliners and sofa, and after Christmas everyone wanted the ugly furniture to stay in the living room because "they made the room look bigger."  I thought it made the room look dingy.  I wanted so badly to get rid of it, but I didn't want the huge expense.  I thought about going out looking at garage sales or second hand furniture, though there's always a chance I'll end up with something as bad or worse than what I already had.  

After Christmas Costco always puts their home furnishings out.  I was walking by the seasonal aisle on my way to the meat section, when I saw a gorgeous, huge sectional.  It was a lovely beige fabric, light but durable, with the nailhead design that I love so much.  It was $999, a great price for this large piece of furniture but more than I wanted to spend.  I sat on it for a minute and loved how comfortable it felt.  Ah, if I could only find something similar but at a lower price!  A couple of  months later I saw that the price had been reduced - a common occurrence when Costco is ready to bring in the next seasonal item, in this case patio furnishings.  Now the price was $699 - a whole $300 off!  I was tempted, but at the same time, how would I get this home?  I don't have a truck or SUV anymore.  Besides, I was wanting to get some cabinets to organize the garage, and my car needs new tires.  Spending $700 on a sectional wasn't an option right now.

Because I have executive membership at Costco, I get a yearly rebate from them.  I wasn't expecting much; I buy from Costco regularly but I hadn't bought anything major, so there was no reason for me to get much money back.  I was totally surprised when the rebate check came in: $116.  The wheels in my head started turning really fast.  With this rebate check I'd be able to get the sectional for under $600.  No way was I going to find a deal like that anywhere else anytime.  I'd have to act, and fast.  Time (and inventory) was running out.

When I told my daughter what I wanted to do, she suggested renting a truck from Home Depot.  Home Depot rents vans and large pick-up trucks for $19.95 for the first 75 minutes, then $5 each additional 15 minutes after that.  The idea was, rent the truck, get the furniture from Costco (which is a few blocks away), get it to the house, and get the truck back in an hour.  That sounded doable!  Then I remembered the garage storage cabinets.  What if I could get those from Home Depot, and the furniture from Costco at the same time?!  I would save on delivery costs!  I checked out the Home Depot webpage, but there was nothing at all like what I wanted.  Everything was either plastic or resin, and I wanted something stronger.  I looked on the Lowe's website next.  Bingo!  A large steel cabinet for $249, and a smaller cabinet for $157.  Lowe's is less than a mile away from Home Depot; I could still get everything done and pay less than what it would cost to have the cabinets delivered, which was $79.  The picture looked brighter and better each moment.  I prayed and asked God to work this out for me as He saw fit, then I got to work.

Thursday morning I called Home Depot to reserve the truck.  Turns out they don't do reservations - it's on a first come, first served basis.  I told the woman at Home Depot that I'd need the truck Friday morning, around 10 am.  See, with homeschooling and work, Fridays and Saturdays are the only days I can run all my errands, and I needed to do this on Friday because that's also my son R's day off and I was going to need his help.  She told me to call a half hour before and she'd hold the truck for me, but no more than 30 minutes.  At that point I decided, on faith, to go ahead and order the garage storage cabinets from Lowe's so they would be ready for me to pick up the next day.  I was really taking a chance, and I considered skipping my bible study group to get there early, but that didn't feel right at all.  How could I put God in second place to garage storage and furniture?  No, I was going to my bible study class, and trust that God would provide.

I was up early Friday morning.  I'm so glad I have a quick and easy makeup routine for days like these, because I didn't have the time to spend in front of the mirror.  I went to bible study and boy am I glad I did - Daniel chapter 9 is totally awe inspiring!  I left just as the video ended, ran home and called Home Depot.  To my chagrin, the truck had just been rented out, and the woman didn't know when it would be back.  She kindly took my number and said she'd call as soon as it was returned.  In the meantime I was left to wonder, now what?  My daughter suggested I check with another Home Depot, but did I really want to go to the next city north or south of us to get this truck?  I thought about heading to Costco so I could be close by when the truck showed up; then a thought occurred to me: what if they didn't have the furniture anymore?!  I grabbed the phone and called.  Good thing I did, too - they were sold out.  NO!!!!!  I asked if she could check stock in other stores.  She found 5 of them at a store two cities north of us, about a 20 minute drive.  I called that Costco to verify and they confirmed that they still had it in stock.  If I was going to do this, I'd have to act fast, but not before lifting my petition up to the Lord.  I called the Home Depot in the city north of us.  Yes, they had a truck and it was available to rent.  The clock was ticking.

I grabbed my son and we headed north to Home Depot.  Renting the truck was easy-peasy.  All I needed was my driver's license, insurance card and a credit card.  I left there and headed north on the expressway.  I took a bit longer at Costco than I thought because the boxes were so large and bulky; so large that I wondered if we'd be able to get them all in the truck.  I didn't want to have to make two trips!  I was praying that it wouldn't be necessary, and praise God it wasn't.  The young man at Costco was able to get everything on and even tied the boxes onto the truck for us - now that's great service!  R and I went straight home, unloaded the boxes into the living room, and headed out to Lowe's.  My daughter A is still nursing her leg per her doctor's orders, so she wasn't able to do any physical work, so instead she was in the kitchen making stir-fry for our lunch.  No time to stop though - we ran to Lowe's to get the storage cabinets, which by the way, weigh a ton!  Oh my gosh, it took so long for them to bring the stuff out because the girl couldn't find anyone to put them on the dolly.  R and I were trying to load them into the truck and another customer kindly helped us.  It was definitely a three person job.  I stopped off at our local Costco to fill the truck with gas - that's something to keep in mind.  If you bring the truck back to Home Depot and the tank isn't filled, they charge $6.50 per gallon to fill it up.  No thanks!  I put $20 in and made sure that was enough.

Back home we ran, left the boxes in the garage, then hauled ourselves back to Home Depot to return the truck.  By now we were both tired and hungry, and R was getting a headache.  Because of unforeseen delays we had the truck for 3 hours, so I ended up paying $62 for the rental.  With gas the total came to $82, more than I'd wanted to spend, but considering that I was able to get so much done that I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise, it wasn't a bad investment.  Besides, now I'm able to enjoy this:

It looks so pretty, and is extremely comfortable!  The pillows were Christmas gifts from my son R.  He got each of us a pillow that he felt best described our interests:  A got Alice In Wonderland because of her love of Disney, E got Treasure Island, filled with adventure, and I got Sherlock Holmes.  My son knows me only too well!  Classic English literature, crime and mystery, all rolled into one.  Sherlock Holmes has been my favorite since I was a teen.  It never gets old!  Anyway, there is enough seating here for our family and then some.  I'm so in love with the look!  I would like to eventually get an area rug, but with Molly I don't know if that's the best idea.  The area rug I had in the living room had to be thrown out because Molly's nails kept getting caught in the rug and it was looking pretty shredded.  I don't think I want to do that again.

By the way, the stir-fry turned out exceptionally delicious!  It was a chicken stir-fry with lots of veggies and a spicy sauce.  It disappeared off my plate very quickly!  I'm so thankful to my son R who ran all around town with me, my son E for helping me get the furniture moved and everything put together, and my baby girl for cooking and cleaning.  I'm especially thankful to God for making it all possible - I couldn't have done it without Him!

We haven't put the garage storage cabinets together yet - that's our next project.  Can't wait to get that done as well!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mid Week Recap

Is the week over yet?  No?  Ugh.  I was kinda hoping it would be.

Ever have one of those weeks?  Yeah, me too.

I've been battling this cold and congestion for several days now.  Tuesday I went in to work with absolutely no voice.  At all.  I didn't feel so poorly that I couldn't work, I just couldn't help answer the phones, which is a primary reason I'm there.  That made me feel a bit useless, but I made sure I got the filing cabinet in order (MM is so grateful for that) and made up some of the reading books for students.  Whatever I could do, I would do, and I felt appreciated for the effort.

My voice is slowly coming back, but not without this annoying cough, and now my nose is drippy.  What I want is a good night's sleep.  I took Benadryl last night and it did help, but of course my days are packed with activities and I don't get to slow down much.  Just yesterday we had school, then I went off to work for 3 hours, only to run home, change, eat something quick, and run off to Awana.  I love being busy - it beats being bored - but when you aren't feeling 100% (or even 80%) it's rough on the body.  I'm looking forward to (hopefully) getting some extra sleep this weekend.

Wait, what am I saying?!  I've got the garage to organize, meaning I'm planning on getting the storage cabinets and finishing that job up.  And to top it off, our clocks have to spring forward this weekend!  Yikes!  That means getting up a whole hour earlier for church!!  I hate Daylight Savings Time with a passion!

In other news, I placed an order with New York and Company for another couple pairs of pants and a pretty top I'd seen at the store.  I had some City Cash to spend ($30 worth) but no time to get to the store.  Thankfully I've tried on the clothes and I pretty much know my size.  Besides, if the clothes don't fit I can go to the store and exchange them.  If they do fit, I've avoided a trip to the mall.  Here's to hoping!

That's it so far.  My week has been a cycle of homeschooling and work, with a side order of I-feel-yucky.  Here's to praying for a better rest of the week, and God's provision which is always much needed.  Have a blessed day!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Monday, Monday

I'm sitting here enjoying a piping hot bowl of chicken and dumplings in hopes that it will counteract the cold that wants to take over my chest.  How it invaded my body I don't know, but I will do whatever it takes to defeat it.

A quick recap of my goings-on:  Saturday's wedding was absolutely gorgeous (as weddings typically are).  The theme of the wedding was taken from the Disney Pixar movie Up.  The bridesmaids were dressed in '40's style dresses and hairdo's, and the groomsmen wore tan pants and suspenders.  They used the music from the movie to walk down the aisle which was precious.  The table centerpieces were hot air balloons with flowers in the baskets.  I really should have taken pictures, but as usual I didn't think of it.  My daughter took some, though.  She was enthralled with the decor and the theme.  The only drawback was the weather.  It was supposed to be an outdoor wedding, but we had the worst rainstorm I've seen all winter.  It wasn't raining, it was monsooning.  The Lord protected us, because the rain didn't start till about 15 minutes after we arrived.  You couldn't see outside it was coming down so hard.  The poor bride was in tears; it was her dream to have an outdoor wedding, and it was just impossible to do.  What's surprising is that we hadn't gotten much rain the entire month of February, yet it rained on and off all day long with such a vengeance.  Still, the wedding went off beautifully despite the little setback, and now the bride and groom are in Tokyo for their honeymoon.  I don't think I've ever seen the groom so happy, and I've known him for years.  What a joy to be able to share such an important day with the family.

I was already starting to feel the effects of a cold coming on, but it wasn't until yesterday afternoon that I was uncomfortable enough to take some Mucinex.  I've started the next big project here at the house: organizing the garage.  I threw out a bunch of stuff already, and my son R took 2/3 of the rotted wall unit to the dump.  I spent several hours cleaning, moving, trashing and taking the wall unit apart.  I left only the section with the food.  Although I have a little pantry in the kitchen, it's just that: a little pantry.  Some of the food has been moved out to the garage, and the storage is not right for what we need.  My plan, Lord willing, is to rent a pick-up truck from Lowe's and get the storage units from there as well.  That will have to be done Friday, since we have school and work all week.  The garage looks neater already, and it's still a mess!  I'm really looking forward to having everything in its proper place.  The other thing I'm planning on getting is a small freezer, so that I can buy meats on sale and have a place to put them.  Back in 2000 when we moved to this house, it seemed so enormous.  Now we're busting at the seams.  Even with all the junk I threw out there's still a ton of stuff in the garage.  Time to purge, purge, purge!

That's it for this edition of My Life.  I'll try to get a more detailed post in later.  For now, God bless and have a lovely day :-).