Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Different Life--Good or Bad?

When I think about my childhood I have fond memories of playing outside all day long with all the neighborhood kids playing kick the can, no bears out tonight, steal the flag and all sorts of games until mom came out on the deck and yelled for us to come home.  Memories of tubing down the canal and getting out at the last second before we went into the Syphon! Rope swinging into the river and playing in the field where we were sure the "devil worshippers" lived. (Not really, we just had big imaginations)
Last Saturday Dayton was at a friends house "hanging out".  They swam, they played video games, they ate, tortured his friends sisters but then he told me about something else they did that made me look at Travis and think? WTH?  I started laughing out loud at the thought of it.

Remember when you were little and you would "prank" call the boy or girl from school that you thought was cute.  Or when you had sleepovers with your friends you would go TP a house and doorbell ditch all the neighbors.

Well Dayton was so excited to tell me all about his little rebellious act of gate calling?! --Seriously--

We live in what I consider a nice home in a gated community.  Outside of the gated community there are some REALLY Nice big homes that each have their own gate around their own home.  Dayton's friend lives in one of these homes.  So instead of the traditional doorbell ditch routine, what they do instead is go push the gate button and run away?!  OMGoshers? They are so rebellious.

My kids have a very different life than me or my husband had growing up.  No we aren't the Trump's or anything but I worry about their perception of the world.

For example:
According to Landon and Dayton we are the only parents that make their kids do chores! THE HORROR!
They also have to help earn money for the activities they choose to do.  Football for example costs around $400 per kid (ridiculous-but that's another story) so they get to help with all the fundraising and after selling, cookies, jewelry, asking for sponsors, selling sport cups, and doing extra jobs guess what? They have earned what we asked them to help with.  According to them most the other player's parents chose the "buy out" option.  Is it easy to go around with your kids selling all this crap? NO! Would it have been easier to maybe just write a check? Would that have been the best thing? Well, you know my answer to that by what we chose for them to do.

Reece, age 4,  is saving his money for a Wii (gasp!, No we don't have one) a unicorn, and a horse.  In that order.
 Dayton is also saving for the Wii.  So far they have around $140.  I don't remember when they started saving.
Landon recently got an I-Touch (I won't let him have a phone) that he saved for and bought with his own money.  After he got his, his friends mom went and bought one for his friend the next day (nice).  I told him he must have chose the wrong parents-he has a rough life.

As parents we work so hard to give our kids the things "we didn't have" when we were kids and yet I often find myself asking if I'm giving them anything at all by doing that.
I wonder if we would all be better off breaking out of these "gated" places, prisons, that we create and choose to live in and go back home by the "devil worshippers" where things were perfectly normal.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Landon and Dayton's new piano teacher!

Today Landon and Dayton had their first piano lesson with none other than William-Joseph.  Seriously?!  How cool is that.  Of course I made a grand impression seeing as I was only 20 minutes late since I COULD NOT find his house even though I allotted plenty of time.  True to form, what can I say, I'm a loser.   Hopefully the boys will be back on the piano playing bandwagon in no time.  Someday I will treat myself to my own piano lessons but for now I must live vicariously through my children.

Check out William's skills-- I never get tired of hearing him play.  So fortunate to have him in our area and to teach the boys.  Super talented.

"Asturias" by William Joseph on Dr. Phil

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Drive In Movie!

I thought it would either be a total nightmare or fun to take the kids to a drive in movie and we lucked out by having it be the latter.  You never know how things like this will go.  They kept asking what was going on and why are we in the car.  Last time I went to a drive in was when I was in high school so it had been a while for me too.
Reece suckered me into buying a glowstick necklace thing they were selling during the movie.  They drove around in a golf cart yelling what they were saying.....uh tryin to watch a movie here.  It was very high class.
We say Nanny McPhee which I wasn't too excited about but actually turned out to be cute followed by Toy Story 3 which was cute too.  The kids were wasted as we headed home at midnight.  I'm not sure why Dayton fell asleep upside on the chair like this but I stopped asking myself why Dayton does a lot of things a long time ago.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Look what Landon brought home from school today........

It sounded like a good idea three months ago when he asked if he could sign up.....

and boy was he excited to show me what he already learned.......

Wowee. I guess it's okay because it's always so quiet and calm around here we needed more noise music?!  Fun times ahead with Fifth Grade Band!

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's Back to School Time!!

Hee hee hee.  I love this video!

What it takes to send a preschool, 3rd grader and 5th grader off to another year!

Reece was excited his supply list included feathers and pom poms.

Landon not so much since his list had 8 spiral notebooks and 2 reams of "wide ruled" lined paper.

Look what I made last week .....

I framed these cute photos of my babes and placed a little hook under each one so that they will have a place for their backpacks and school stuff.

For today it is holding all their supplies.  Tomorrow-homework, art projects and library books. It's an attempt to stay "on top" of all their stuff.

Reece was really excited to show his luggage tag? in his Preschool Back to School Photo.  Okay buddy, whatever makes you happy!
Here Reecer man is showing his back to school supplies!
His bags were so heavy he could barely lift them.
Dayton chose the sporty look for his 1st day of 3rd Grade
Strong arming his school supplies!

Posing for back to school pictures is old news for Landon since he will be a "upper classmen" going into the 5th grade today!
Not even breaking a sweat with all those notebooks.
One final "group" shot before we pile in the car.
Mom was informed by 3rd grader and 5th grader that NO PICTURE taking would be allowed at their school so I'll move on to the preschooler who doesn't know better yet.  
I'm excited for Reece and he is excited to be "big enough" for school.  He had a great 1st day of Pre-K! Look there is his name on the door!  Welcome Reece!
Who wouldn't want to go to preschool again?  Look how fun!
Well mom and dad were sad to see them all go back to school but we know we have to cut the cord sometime :)
Sadie is thinking "I can't believe my brother's left me with these crazies"
It wasn't long before dad was back to doing this...
And mom and Sadie went and did this with the other mom's that were sad to see their kids head back to school.

Sadie and her girlfriends still a bit in shock of what all this means.  Hopefully everyone had a great back to school day AND has a Fabulous year!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Are you Ready for some Football!!!

I'm super excited about the boys football this season!  We are participating in the Pop Warner league and they are so put together it is such a breath of fresh air from our experience last year in Erie and both Landon and Dayton have awesome coaches.  Actually there are about 9 coaches per team plus a team manager and a team mom.  It's pretty intense.  One of the things that is intense is the price tag!  The initial cost is around $175 ish per player.  This is pretty typical but then you have about a million things you do fundraising for.  At the end of the day the total per player amount is around $400 and goes up if you make it to playoffs and other levels.  I think it's a bit over the top.  Football is not suppose to be a rich kid sport but that's where all the fundraising comes in.  Right now between Landon and Dayton's teams we are selling.....cookie dough, pizza, jewelry, cinnamon rolls, BBQ nights, sports cups, suckers and other food at practices and games, having a team garage sale, poker night?, and asking everyone, every business and their dog if they would like to be a sponsor.  It's sort of insane.  Fundraising sucks but it pays for the equipment-including uniforms, field usage for practices and games, referee's, etc. etc. Dayton was hitting the fundraising road tonight in our neighborhood and brought in about $60 buckaroos.  Parents can do a "buy out" but seriously? I think it sends kids the right message to make them earn the money themselves and that money doesn't grow on trees and gives them good sales skills.  If dad can sell a $80K drug to earn his money they can sell some overpriced cookie dough.  Dayton's team even has their own website www.deervalleybullwhips.com Ummm ya, they are 8 years old.  Anyway. Here are some fun pics.
Landon is a receiver, he is in front looking for the ball.
Oh crap it looks like he is going to miss it?!

Nope, somehow he managed to hold on to it.
Landon has actually been doing really well so far with catching I'm just not that great of a action photographer to get his good catches.  Hopefully the team has some decent passing plays.  The QB seems to have a good arm so if they can connect that will be fun to watch.

In case you haven't heard me say or you don't know but it is hot in AZ.  Like 110 degree hot during practice.  Landon is grabbing a ice cold wet towel from the "towel" cooler.  The kids drape these over their heads and around their necks to cool off during water breaks.  This is "my job".  Everyday I fill up the cooler with ice and water and 20 washcloths, bring them to practice, take them home, wash, dry, repeat the next day. A little different than the Colorado snow we froze in last year during football.
Pop Warner does this magical thing with siblings.  If there are siblings on different teams they work it so the kids will be on teams that practice on fields next to each other at the same time!  Seriously a mother's dream.  So while I'm watching Landon's practice I'm also watching Dayton's practice.
Dayton is #78, Here he is conversing with his peeps.
Dayton is on the line.  Am I surpised? No way, he is solid.  I pity the fool that tries to go through him.  He is third one in on the right.
What I don't like about football is having to "ice" the hurt body parts of my 8 and 10 year olds?  I get it when I have to ice because I'm old and my body has been through the war but little kids?  Every time I ask "Are you sure you want to play football?" The answer is always the same.
Eye roll, followed by a "Yes Mom"

Okay then.  Love you boys.  You're the toughest/coolest football kids out there.

Saturday's Super Savings-Electricity

Today I opened our electric bill from Arizona Public Services and I about killed over.
$789.00 Big Ones!  Holy Helen Keller!
Yes, it is summer, yes it is hot, yes we run the AC but seriously this is ridiculous.
Well, rather than whining about things I can't control I'm taking charge of what I can control.
I've decided I need to start being more frugal.  I know how to save money, cut corners and get good deals but I've been lazy about this because if there isn't a huge need to do something than a lot of times we just won't do it.  I'm going to start having regular posts on my blog on how to save money and I'm calling them Saturday's Super Savings so check back on Saturdays for ideas on how to save.  If this is something you need or would like to learn GREAT!  Follow along.  At any rate I'm going to do this and save money and keep track of what I actually save.
First on the agenda is Electricity!  What a shock since this is what sent me over the edge.  Have you ever looked closely at your electrical bill.  There is a lot of crap in there.  Taxes and fees you can't do anything about but there are things you can do stuff about.
 Peak and off Peak consumption.  Here in Arizona the peak hours are from noon-7pm and off peak are all the other hours.
For my current bill:
Off peak costs $88.68 for 3416 kWh
On peak costs $402.20 for 1923 kWh
$206 in Fees
$91.76 in taxes.
 It's an Obamanation!
 Do you think how you vote doesn't affect you directly? Think again. I'm already paying over $300 and I haven't even flipped a switch. But that's a topic for another day.
So back to the topic... even though I'm using more electricity during the off peak hours the on peak usage is killing me!
What to do about things you can do something about.
#1 Vote--If your not sure who to vote for, ask me I'll tell you.
#2 See where you are using electricity on peak that you can switch to off peak.
For us we didn't have to look too far and I'm embarrassed to even show some of this.  The environmentalists would have my head.
Can we say Refrigeration?
Energy efficient fridge we moved from the garage to kitchen
Consolidating all fridge contents into 1 fridge, plenty of room

Our "wine" cooler we use to use to chill our beverages, Now we use it to "store" them until they can be moved into the "main" kitchen fridge.  This one has been unplugged.

When we moved into this house it came with 3 Refrigerators AND we brought one with us!  Crazy I know.  One full size in the kitchen.  One full size in the garage.  A wine cooler (and we don't drink wine) that we use to chill our Gatorade and a smaller fridge outside by the pool.  Running two refrigerators that are outside in 115 degree Arizona summer weather is nuts!  Of course this didn't dawn on me until today.  Talk about a DUH moment.

The fridge by the pool was super convenient and nice but a electricity sucker for sure.  Being outside in over 100 degree weather?! Crazy waste of electricity.  It's been unplugged and look-all my lovely chilled beverages are gone.  Good news is if we have people over or decide to have a party we can easily plug it back in and not pay for all the days when we don't even look inside.

Well the last fridge we are saying so long too.  As of tonight it will be up on Craig's list.  The truth is we can manage just fine with one refrigerator and while I will miss the convenience of having two I won't miss the cost.  Keeping a refrigerator in the garage when you live in Arizona is just not practical.  In Colorado or other cooler places it worked out fine and wasn't that much more of an expense but it won't work here!  So long sucker!

The other big killer for us is likely the pool and water features. This is an easy fix.
You have to run the pool cleaner and the water features or your pool and water fountains will end up looking like a big brown swamp but you can set the timer to do this during off peak hours rather than during the middle of on peak hours.

Having this pool cleaner run at night during off peak is just as effective as having it run in the day it will just cost you less.

Same with running the pump for water features.

So I have 4 refrigerators and a pool.
Your thinking "I don't have those problems" so this post doesn't help me at all but I'm guessing if you take a look around your home sweet home you'll find your own electricity suckers.  How many TV's do you have? Is there a VCR hooked up to each one?  How about a DVR? Do you change your filters?  What kind of lightbulbs do you use? Do you turn your computer off when your finished or let it idle all day? Etc. Etc.  The list goes on and on.

So let's see if all these little changes make any difference in my bill next month? If not we might need to move in with some of you during the summer months....any takers?  :) Kidding, kidding.
Let's start being more green shall we?  That way when we have unexpected expenses we will be covered.  See you next week!

Happy Savings :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010


It doesn't rain much here in AZ but when it does watch out!  We had a down pour about a week ago and we were loving it!

Dayton thought we needed more water so he grabbed the hose and was heading my way but I found a use for our snow sled and blocked!

Landon found a use for the snow shovel we brought from Colorado.  His target--Dad.
Check out the pooling water on the grass.  Crazy.