Friday, July 30, 2021

The Week (And a Half) In Review

I was gonna post a week in review earlier this week but events took a turn and my mind was on anything but my blog. You'll soon understand why.

Last week I kicked my job search into overdrive, knowing that J was no longer employed at the company he'd been working at for over 25 years. I knew that, even if he had another job getting paid more, he would want to do everything possible to cut my alimony payments. I prayed and asked others to pray with me and for me. I was especially moved by the pastor of the church we're now attending, who reached out and asked for my resume in case he knew of any openings anywhere. Tuesday I had a virtual interview with a local company. It was unlike anything I'd done in the past; there were assessment tests, but also recording myself on video answering questions on different customer service scenarios. I recorded myself as best I could and sent it in. I also applied to several other companies over the next couple of days, though I didn't hear from any of them.  

My daughter started feeling sick around the weekend. She's been working at a preschool over the summer and is scheduled to start teaching elementary art and Spanish this school year. One of the children in the preschool was clearly sick. The mom said he'd tested positive for Covid but was asymptomatic. Within days half the faculty was sick as well as several children, and my daughter tested positive. A couple of days later her husband began feeling the symptoms and also tested positive. It was breaking my heart because they both felt terrible, but she was especially affected with coughing fits and was starting to have trouble breathing.

My son-in-law works for a doctor who advised them both to get the antibody infusion. Saturday they went to the local hospital for it, and by Sunday my son-in-law was a bit better, but my daughter was not. Her oxygen levels were low. Monday morning he took her to the hospital where she was quickly admitted. My poor son-in-law called me in tears. She hadn't slept because of all the coughing, and now because he tested positive he wasn't allowed inside the hospital. I was heartbroken as well; driving down was futile because they put her in isolation so no one can be with her, and I couldn't stay with him because he's Covid positive. I waited a couple of hours while they ran tests and x-rays. The dreaded news came later that morning: she had pneumonia. 

I began texting and emailing everyone I could think of that would pray for her. Churches, bible study groups, friends, family, all my prayer warriors were put on high alert. The hospital immediately started her on antibiotics and oxygen; thankfully she didn't have to be intubated. By God's grace her fever was gone by the next day, and while she is still in the hospital receiving treatment she seems to be getting better by the day. The infectious disease doctor gave her a good prognosis. She doesn't have anymore Covid symptoms; if it weren't for the pneumonia she'd be cleared to go home. I know it'll be a long road to recovery but I'm trusting God to bring complete healing.

In the meantime, E and I went and got our first vaccine on Sunday. I know it's controversial, and I believe each person needs to individually decide if the vaccine is right for them. We got it because my daughter begged us to, and I didn't want her stressing over it. I'll say this, my arm was in pain for days. Man I hate getting shots :-(.

With all that was going on I had trouble focusing on anything else, but I got a call from the company that had done the virtual interview. They wanted to interview me in person. I went in on Wednesday and again had several assessments along with the interview. I was glad that the company is only 15 minutes from my house. The interview seemed to go well, and the interviewer told me he'd give me an answer by next Friday since there were several others he needed to interview. The very next morning I received a call with a job offer.

To say I was surprised would be an understatement. I'd been applying for jobs for months whenever we were living in the townhouse and I only got one interview. I knew right away they weren't interested. It was like God didn't want me to get settled there because He had other plans for me. I've now been in Central Florida for 3 months and I've landed a full-time job that's not only close to home, it's currently remote, so I won't even have to leave my house. The company will provide whatever equipment I need to do the work from home until they're ready to come back to the office. 

Even in the difficult, trying circumstances of life, God shows me that He is good. When I'm in need, He provides. When I'm hurting, He comforts and reassures. He puts people in my life that stand in the gap for me. I say as King David said, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4). I can be secure in His love because He is always faithful. If you're reading this, I hope you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don't, I hope you will reach out to Him now. He is waiting, and He is good.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The Week In Review

What day is it? Thursday? It's taken a while to recover from last week, LOL! VBS was A-mazing! I didn't realize how much I'd missed working with the kids and doing Vacation Bible School till I was back in the game. 

I'd done VBS in the past, whenever my son E was young and later with my niece and nephews. I had been an assistant leader, worked registration, and did snacks for two years. I hadn't done VBS since 2014, though. My last church had VBS in the evenings, from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. I was working from 2:15 - 8:15 pm, so I wasn't able to be a part of it. So whenever this new church we've been attending asked if I would consider volunteering, I immediately said Yes! And it was meant to be: they assigned me to the snack room, so I had experience! There were three of us in the snack room teaching on missions. I met some of the loveliest and most encouraging people. We got the 1st and 2nd graders, a wonderful and well-behaved group of children that were eager to learn (and eat!). It was a joy-filled, rewarding experience that I would do again in a heartbeat.

VBS ran from 8:00 am till noon. Once I got out I took care of everything I needed to do around the house: grocery shopping, yardwork, laundry, the usual. I also applied to jobs whenever I found anything. Which is a good thing too, since I got some shocking news this weekend. My ex-husband J quit his job of 25 years. 

J has been telling me for years that they are going to fire him "any day now". Even when he told me the company had been sold a little over a year ago, I didn't believe him because I'd been hearing the same story for such a long time. So when I got the text message on Sunday saying Friday was his last day working for the company, I couldn't believe it. Then I looked at the message again. He didn't say they'd fired him; he said that Friday was his last day. That was suspicious. So I texted back asking what had happened, but I got no answer. I was left to ponder the meaning of his text.

Monday he finally called. I asked him point blank if he'd been fired or if he'd quit. He started yelling and cussing up a storm, till I calmly told him there was no need for him to fly off the handle like that. I'd only asked a simple question; there was no accusation or judgment. He finally did calm down and told me the new administration had been firing all the employees that were there from the old owners and bringing in new people. They called him in saying they would no longer need him in his position and offered to demote him, cutting his salary. So he walked out.

What does this mean for me? It means my job search had been moved into high gear. J still has to pay alimony but he's going to try and give me as little as possible. I'm thankful that my expenses aren't as high as they were whenever I was living in South Florida, but that doesn't mean I have no expenses at all. I'm applying and interviewing as much as possible, but so far there haven't been any offers. Still, I put my trust in the Lord. He who has provided in the past will continue to provide. I put in a prayer request at church and the pastor kindly emailed me requesting my resume so he can forward it to anyone that might be looking. I am beyond thankful for that gesture.  

If you have a moment, say a prayer for me. Ask that God would guide me to the right job. That I wouldn't be anxious for anything, but that in all things, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I make my desires known to God (Philippians 4:6). I am filled with His peace now, and I don't want anything to take my focus off of Him. 

That's it for this now. Have a blessed rest of your week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Week In Review

I know, I know, I'm behind on my posting. VBS is in full swing and I get home pretty tired, and then I have things to get done here so it's hard to find a moment to sit down without quickly dozing off.

We had Kuzco for the whole week. He was one spoiled puppy! I told my daughter that while he missed them, he would miss my yard a lot more. He was outside several times a day running, playing fetch, and having a good ole time. I enjoyed having him around but was also glad once he left because all those trips outside meant lots of dirt being brought inside. He got picked up late Friday afternoon and I spent Saturday vacuuming and steam cleaning everything. 

My son E has had a cold all week and dog dander didn't help. He's still not feeling his best but thankfully he's doing better.  I took him to the Minute Clinic last Friday because I was concerned he might have asthma but his oxygen levels were normal. He just needs lots of rest; not the easiest thing when he's also got schoolwork (he's doing summer classes this semester).

We got the first tropical storm scare last week. TS Elsa looked like she was gonna come barreling through Central Florida as a category 1 hurricane, but ultimately she lost steam and headed just north of us. We got plenty of rain, though, which meant I had to mow the yard again. I'd only just mowed the week before, but the mix of rain and sunshine energizes the grass. Thankfully I was able to finish it in less time with the help of a second battery for the mower.

This year's VBS theme is Destination Dig. I got an idea from one of the girls from my old church: a photo-op frame in the shape of a jeep. Whenever I saw the picture on Facebook I said, I have got to make one! So I did.

It turned out super cute! It's up as decor in the room for now but we'll use it for pictures later in the week. It was a mission trying to get this made with a puppy underfoot! He followed me around everywhere like my shadow. But I'm so pleased with how it turned out and glad I was able to contribute some decor to the room.

That was it for last week. Like I said, this week has been very busy and we're only halfway done. Next week rest? Hmm, we'll have to see. Have a blessed week y'all.

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Week In Review

Happy Monday after Independence Day! It was nice to see everyone out setting off fireworks in celebration of the 4th of July, though not quite as happy about the noise - more on that later.

I spent the week mowing the lawn. That's not an exaggeration. I was out doing some part of the yard every. single. day. Whenever we first moved into this house, the lawn was in really bad shape. There were lots of dry patches and areas where the dogs had dug up the lawn and it looked rough.

This was just off the patio. It looked like this in several areas throughout the front and back yard. I didn't know if I was gonna have to buy sod to take care of these spots, but I decided to wait till the rainy season started. Good thing I did.

This is the same spot as above. With all the rain and no dogs, it's like the grass got energized and has started growing with a vengeance. There are still dry spots but in just two months it has improved dramatically. 

All the rain has also meant the grass grows very quickly. Whenever I started cutting the grass, I didn't cut it too low because it was hot, sunny, and dry. I didn't want the roots to dry out so set the mower pretty high. Once the rains started I began cutting the grass lower and lower but it was a mission! I finally caved and bought a second battery so that I could get more done and not have to mow the lawn daily. Friday I was done, just in time for a visit from my grand-dog Kuzco. My daughter and son-in-law are on vacation so they dropped him off Friday evening for a week with grandma. He's been enjoying the backyard, running and playing and getting plenty of exercise whenever it isn't raining.

Speaking of raining, there's a tropical storm headed our way. TS Elsa has moved over slightly to the west, which means we're technically out of the cone, but storms have a way of doing their own thing and not always following the meteorologist's predictions, so we're keeping an eye on it. I'm especially bummed because of what came this past week:

I bought patio furniture! I've been saving to get a set of patio furniture but oh my word is it expensive! Not gonna lie, I didn't expect to find anything 1- in rattan, 2 - under $500, and 3 - before Labor Day weekend. 

Rattan is my favorite material for outdoor furniture; it just feels like the South. I know, that probably doesn't make sense, but whenever I picture a front porch or back patio in the South, it's always got rattan furniture and soft, puffy cushions. I looked at multiple websites, higher end, discount stores, heck even Big Lots prices were through the roof (based on my budget, anyway). So I kept saving and kept checking. I found a nice enough set of wrought iron furniture on Amazon, with seating for 6, that was $495. I'm not the biggest fan of wrought iron because our weather here is so humid, but figuring if I couldn't get rattan like I wanted, I'd settle for what I could afford. I sent a picture to my daughter who was not impressed. She said I should wait till the holiday sales, which I thought was a good idea. I wanted to show my son E the type of furniture I liked and how expensive the sets were, so I pulled up patio furniture on Amazon and this came up. 

(I took out the folding chairs out - they were my patriotic chairs for the 4th)

I had to do a double take. A rattan set - a sectional no less! - 5 pieces, for $379.99?!?! How was it I hadn't seen this before?! And why was it so affordable? I looked at the reviews and they were very good. Then I saw that there was a newer model being offered - that explained why this one was so much cheaper than anything I'd seen before. My daughter agreed that it was a way better deal and much nicer looking, so I went ahead and placed the order. It came in two separate boxes on two separate days, 4 days before it was scheduled which was fine with me! Assembly was not complicated once I figured out the instructions, and I was able to do it by myself. It's beautiful, comfortable, and I can't wait to decorate it - but now that'll have to wait, since I don't know whether this storm will stay away or shift closer to us, in which case I'll be bringing all my furniture back inside. Ah, hurricane season. Can't wait till you're over.

Regardless if we get a direct hit from TS Elsa or not, we're pretty much guaranteed a ton of rain this week. Right now, though, the sky is blue and it's hot and muggy outside. That was my week. Hope this week is uneventful, weather-wise anyway.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Week In Review

Can I just take a minute to reflect how fast the first half of the year went by?! Maybe because I had so much going on these past 6 months. I put my townhouse on the market, sold it in two days, traveled to Central Florida, put offers on two houses, purchased a house, packed, waited, much done in so little time. I'm kinda hoping the rest of the year will be calmer. Not counting on it, though.

Last week was a very wet week in Central Florida. We had thunderstorms daily. Last Thursday the storms began at 12:30 pm and continued till after 3:30 pm. I mean non-stop heavy rain for hours. It took me three days to get the grass cut because the ground was soaking wet and the lawn mower would get clogged and shut off. (Spoiler alert: I've been cutting the grass this week since Monday and I'm still not done. It hasn't rained since Sunday but the ground is still saturated. And it looks like it's gonna rain today). I'm considering buying a second battery for the lawn mower. While I love the fact that it shuts off, forcing me to stop and not get over-exerted, I find myself cutting some area of the grass everyday. Each time the lawn mower gets clogged it shuts off; each time I have to restart it the battery loses more charge, so that I'm only able to get about 20-25 minutes of battery life. Whenever the grass was dry I was able to get 40 minutes of mowing, so I was able to finish the entire yard in two days. It's the rainy season in Florida and it'll continue this way till September. I don't want to be out in the intense heat mowing grass every single day.

I applied for a couple more jobs, but haven't heard anything from anywhere. I'm slowing down my job hunt for the time being, though. I'd wanted to meet the Pastor of the church we've been attending, but whenever we came out he was always surrounded. I hate standing behind people; it seems rude, like I'm rushing them because it's my turn. So instead I sent an email to the church's website. Within half an hour he'd called me, and we talked for about 30 minutes. I asked about what the church teaches, what kind of outreach they're doing, and told him what we're looking for in a new church home. He asked about the church we came from and even looked them up and listened to one of their sermons. I mentioned that I'd served in children's ministry in the past, and a couple of hours later the children's pastor emailed and asked if I'd consider helping out with VBS. Yes please! I got excited, because I haven't served in VBS for years. I was very much involved in VBS whenever my son E was little and even afterwards, but whenever we moved to our last church VBS was in the evenings while I was at work and I couldn't participate. This church does VBS in the mornings, meaning if I start a new job I won't be able to serve. So I'm gonna pause my job hunt till after VBS, which is the second week in July. We had our first volunteer meeting and I got to meet some lovely people. It helps me feel like I belong, which makes me so happy.

I started working on the July meal plan but I haven't finished it yet. I have to take VBS into account; they'll be serving lunch at the church so I only have to worry about supper. I'm not sure if I want to batch cook the week before and have everything ready, or just have simple meals that whole week. I need to get on that. 

That was my week. Hope everyone's was as blessed. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Central Florida House Tour - The Kitchen

If there is one aspect of a floor plan that I do not like, it's a kitchen at the front of the house. I never liked it when the kitchen was the first room you'd see whenever you walked into a house. After all, the kitchen is the most used and abused room in any home, and it's always a mess; either you're cooking or you're cleaning up after a meal. Whether it's dishes in the sink, pots and pans on the stove, or clutter on the countertops, the kitchen is never neat and tidy and put together. It should be somewhere hidden away so it won't cause any embarrassment. 

That's how it was in the big house. You'd walk into the formal living room, with the formal dining room just beyond. The kitchen was around the corner, far from peering eyes. It was also that way in the townhouse. Up the stairs, you would see the office, living room, and dining room, but the kitchen was behind a wall. An untidy kitchen could be inconspicuous. 

Now, whenever you come into my home, just to the left of the front door, this is what you see:

 Yep, it's my full-on kitchen in all its glory. Whenever I first walked into the house, I shuddered at the fact that we walked right into the kitchen first. It didn't help that the homeowner had a lot of clutter all over the counters. She also had the curtains in the dining room (which is to the left of the kitchen) closed, so the kitchen looked dark, making it appear even messier. It took some imagination to see the potential of what this kitchen could be.

The kitchen is also the first thing you see whenever you come in through the garage.

That doesn't bother me, though. I like being able to bring the groceries from the car right into the kitchen. 

One selling point for this kitchen was definitely the size. Despite the fact that this house is smaller than either of my previous homes, the kitchen is pretty big - big enough to fit my kitchen island in the center without disrupting the flow. I can walk around, open the fridge, oven, and dishwasher, and still have plenty of space to move. I was very happy about that, because I didn't want to get rid of the island that my daughter and son-in-law had only just gifted me last Christmas. The cabinets are also very spacious. I had to purchase a step ladder because the 42" cabinets are too high for me to reach the top two shelves. It gives me loads of space so that my pantry doesn't get cluttered.

This was important to me because this pantry is about the size of the one I had in the big house, or less than half the size of the one in the townhouse. That pantry was huge, but seeing as I had smaller cabinets it was necessary. Here I can put my packaged food without it getting crowded because of all the space in the cabinets.

I wanted to keep the countertops clear but still pleasant to look at. Thanks to its placement in the house, it had to be inviting and cozy, not cold and stark but not cluttered or messy either.

I started with the counters that are in full view of the front door. I put my Kitchenaid here because it doesn't fit properly anywhere else. It's heavy and cumbersome, and best left on the counter. Besides, I use it weekly, and it is a nice piece. I also put my glass containers here; rice, sugar, and flour, staples in my kitchen. They're esthetically pleasing, and since they're glass they don't appear to take up much space on the counters. To give it color I used this vase I picked up on clearance for $6.99 from Hobby Lobby before we moved, and added some greenery from the Dollar Tree. 

On the other side of the stove I kept it clear because this is where I do most of my food prep. I have my cooking utensils in a jar I picked up years ago from Kirkland's (it's actually a cookie jar but no one needs to know that). Behind it I have a wooden tray because I like this tray but I haven't figured out where I want it. The only other thing here is my toaster oven which, again, we use regularly so it doesn't make sense to put it away.

Beside the sink I have a small ceramic loaf pan that was a gift from a friend, and I have some fake succulents in it that have seen better days (moving casualties). I keep this area clear as well; this is where I put my Instant Pot, slow cooker, rice cooker, all my small appliances whenever they're in use. Above that is the taller counter, something I've never had in any house before. It keeps the view of the messy kitchen from the living area (but not from the front door; clearly the architect didn't cook). 

I put one of my flower pitchers here on a tray, and added blue and green flowers from the Dollar Tree to tie in with the pillows and decor in the living room. I also added a small flag; it's been there since Memorial Day and will stay until after the 4th of July.

Here's the view of the kitchen coming from the living room. It's a bright, open kitchen, and surprisingly, it hasn't been hard to keep neat and tidy. I guess I forgot that I don't have three little kids running around leaving cups and plates in the sink or on the counter. No one forgets to put away the cereal or snack boxes anymore. My son and I put things away where they belong and clean up after ourselves. Having the kitchen here isn't such a hassle after all.

Just beyond the kitchen is a sneak peek at the dining area where my baker's rack is. But that'll be another post. Come back soon!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The Week In Review

 I have to admit, this past week wasn't all too exciting. I did my weekly grocery shopping, cut the grass (which is already growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the rain we got yesterday), went to church...oh, and I got my first haircut in 7 months. 

I know, yikes! It's one of those things I constantly put off, partly because of time and partly because y'all, it's expensive to get a haircut in South Florida. I had my favorite hairdresser that I've gone to for 15 years, but clearly I'm not driving four hours one way to get a $70+ haircut. Instead, I took advantage of the NextDoor app and looked at who was popular and being recommended. I found a place that's very close to home and was able to make an appointment online.

Now, I'm not gonna lie, it's a very simple cut. Nothing fancy or elaborate. But in South Florida, the cheapest I ever paid for a haircut just like this was $54. Plus tip. Here in Central Florida, I paid $27. That includes tax and tip. At that price, it doesn't hurt my pocketbook if I want to go to the hairdresser more often.

I never heard back from the company I interviewed at, so the job search continues. It's disappointing whenever you're sitting around waiting and all you get is crickets. But I prefer not to dwell on it and trust that God has it all planned out. 

The temperatures have taken a drastic turn. We moved to Central Florida in April, and the weather was absolute perfection. Lows in the 50's, highs in the 70's. Humidity was low; we could go for walks in the park and come home not dripping in sweat. Then June came, and not only have our temps climbed into the low to mid 90's, the humidity (especially the dew points) has risen, to where it becomes oppressive to be outside for too long. I'll be glad whenever this summer weather is over. That, and hurricane season. Ugh.

That's about it for this week in review. Hope everyone has a blessed week.