Monday, October 5, 2015

A Soggy Mess - What to do When it Floods.

This weekend turned out to be a soggy mess.  The hurricane never made it to us.  It turned out to sea before reaching the coast.  The nor'easter we got though dumped a bunch of rain on us but not near as much as South Carolina got.  South Carolina has received 10-15 inches of rain and it is still raining.  They are getting a ton of flooding and this morning all of the highways are closed around Columbia, SC and parts of I-95 are also closed.  This will cause all sorts of issues.  Large trucks with supplies will have a difficult time getting in.  Emergency vehicles can't get around quickly.

We tend to take transportation for granted.  We expect to be able to get in our car and go.  But sometimes we can't.  It drives my husband crazy when he doesn't have the luxury of being able to go where he wants to go.  Even this weekend with the soggy rain he still found a reason to get out and go somewhere at least once each day, even though we had already decided to stay home.

We go to the grocery store or the drug store and expect products to be there.  We expect the shelves to be stocked and if they are empty we just wait a few days and they will be stocked again.  We expect hospitals to have the supplies they need.  When highways are closed supplies can't get to where they need to be.  Food doesn't get restocked at the grocery. Hospitals don't get their regular deliveries.

In an emergency situation, it is so important that we stay put.  Even if we can get out on the roads around our town we shouldn't.  If we were to be injured by rushing floodwaters, an accident, or by a falling tree, it would be difficult for emergency workers to get to us.  This is why it is so important that we do stay put.

It also proves the point that we need to prepare prior to the weather event.

Back to Columbia.  Did they prepare?  Did those who aren't in the flooding zone get enough food and supplies?  Did they think to pack an emergency bag just in case they needed to leave their home?  When the floods began, did they think to go ahead and leave the area for higher ground?

When we thought we might get the hurricane, my husband came to me and asked if we should discuss leaving the area.  We discussed it and decided to wait until the next morning to make a final decision.  At that point forecasters were saying that if the hurricane came on land pretty much all of our state would be affected.  Most of the states above and below us would be affected as well.  It would be difficult for us to go somewhere where the storm wouldn't affect the area.  That still didn't mean we wouldn't make the decision to go somewhere else.  Our current home is pretty much all glass on the back side.  We back up to a thickly wooded area.  It is plausible that trees could fall and hit our home causing much damage. Thankfully we did have the luxury of time to make a final decision.  The next morning forecasters announced that the path the hurricane would most likely take would be out to sea.  So we decided to stay put.

Flooding can be one of the most devastating things that can happen to a home (along with fires).  The damage is so extensive and even though things dry out they still might be damaged.  Their integrity and strength might be compromised.  Flood insurance is difficult to get and can be so expensive.  It is often not recommended for those homes where they are not prone to flooding.  I wonder how many homes in Columbia were flooded and didn't have flood insurance.  Probably most of them.

So what can we do to prepare for a flooding emergency?

1. Protect your belongings.  Check to see if you can get flood insurance.  If not, your savings will be important.  Save a little each month or each paycheck for these type of emergencies.  It may take a long time to get back to where you were but having at least a little something to get you by at first will help.

2. Protect your memories.  Regularly back up your electronics. Your pictures, your videos.  If flooding seems eminent, put the albums and important memories in the highest part of your house.  Keep a copy of your back up files off site and a copy with you in  your "bug out" bag.

3.  Pack a bug out bag with a change or two of clothes, basic toiletries, and important papers. Speaking of important papers, take a picture or scan them to create a digital file.  Then keep them in a safe place and keep a copy with you.  This would include birth certificates, social security cards, insurance documents, medical records, deeds, and other documents.

4.  Have a backup plan.  Don't wait until it is too late.  Get out while you can.  Flooding is no joke.  It can sweep away cars, houses, and people.  Flooding can make the ground unstable can cause sinkholes.  Decide before the storm where you will go and prepare for possible travel to that place. Go when you can.  Don't wait until it is too late.

5. Stock up on the basics.  Food, water, lots of water.  Water may be contaminated for weeks on end after a flooding event.  Cleaning supplies, bleach, basic yard tools, batteries, lighting devices, pet needs, etc.  You may be stuck for a while and even when you can get out of your house stores may not be stocked of the things you need.

6.  Get some cash.  Not a lot but some.  ATMs don't work unless you have power.  Credit and debit card machines use electricity.  After the flooding starts to go down and you can get out again.  Stores may still not have power.  They won't be able to accept your credit cards or debit cards.  Cash will be your main way to purchase the things you need.

7.  Remember it is just stuff.  Yes, it is your stuff.  Yes, you liked it a LOT!  Yes, you will miss it and it will be emotional.  But in the end it is just stuff.  Let it go.  Save yourself, save your family.  Leave the stuff.

Back to Columbia.  Newscasters and weather people are saying that this catastrophic flooding that is happening is a "once in a THOUSAND years flood".  It is not normal.  Therefore the aftermath is unpredictable.  Those who live there will need lots of help rebuilding and getting their lives back to something that resembles "normal".

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Possible Tropical Storm .....

Image from
I heard on the news today that we have a possible tropical storm coming to our area this weekend.  While I had just gone to the grocery store on Sunday, there are a few things that I still need off our weekly grocery list.  I had hoped to wait until later in the week but I think I will go today or tomorrow and get the rest of the groceries on our list.

Where we live now I don't worry so much about flooding or having to leave our home in case of emergency, but I do worry about power outages.  We just got a stand alone freezer set up in our basement and I have started to fill it.  I also worry about having batteries and candles ready.  We have a wood burning fireplace and firewood so we don't have to worry about warmth if needed.  Right now, though it is still warm enough outside even at night that we won't have to do much more than throw another blanket on the beds if we need it.

So here is my checklist for this possible emergency:
____ Check lanterns and batteries.
____ Charge all electronics and spare battery chargers.
____ Back up computer files (just in case.... and is good to do it periodically anyway)
____ Restack firewood on the porch so it is further out of the rain and possibly tarp it to keep it dry.
____ Check deck furniture and put away any outside toys, furniture, equipment.
____ Pull out and check candles, globes, and candle holders.
____ Straighten and clean the house.  Pick up things off the floor, clear the steps of items. (No one wants to trip over something left on the ground at night with the power out.)
____ Check pantry for needed items and add to the grocery list.
____ Make last trip to the grocery store.

While it may seem counterintuitive to add more groceries (particularly refrigerated items) but I truly don't think we will lose electricity. If we do, it won't be for long.  I do know that I will have three teens home all day long and they like to eat.
We are currently out of bread, only have a half gallon of milk, and I like to keep stocked up on eggs.  All three of those will be on the list.  I also will pick up a case of water. One can never have too much water.

We have only one dog and I just bought her dog food recently so she has enough for several weeks at this point.  The only other thing she needs is water and to be taken out from time to time, even in a storm.  The only things I need to prep for her is to make sure my rain coat or poncho is ready for rainy/windy walks.  But I still like to remember pets when prepping for an emergency.  Her leash is hanging by the door and her shots are up to date.

Even though this might turn out to be nothing more than rain, I do still want to be prepared.  It also gives me an excuse to clean the house, straighten things up and begin to think about winter storms and supplies.

It began raining today.  Not thunderstorms but just episodes of torrential downpours!  The lights began to flicker so the kids and I pulled out the camping lanterns and a few candles and a flashlight.  Boy do we need to replace some of our stuff.  Both camping lanterns are so weak in light.  Not even enough to read with.  I will be replacing these both tomorrow.  We also need size D batteries as well as AA and AAA.

So check out your equipment prior to the emergency.  Don't just wait until you need to use them.  Test them out and make sure everything is in working order.  Replace them periodically.  Our lanterns still work but the lightbulbs are low which means that it is probably on its last legs.  Mind you, we will still use these until they completely die but I do want to get some more lanterns that will give us enough light to work by.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Shamelessly eating out. Budget style!

We LOVE to eat out.  I mean L.O.V.E. it!  So last night we went to Olive Garden.  We love their salads. We love their breadsticks. We love their soups. We love their pastas.

Right now they are having my favorite sale.  It is the buy a pasta get a pasta to take home deal.  So we went.

Each of the 5 of us got pasta.  One of us doesn't like salad so she gets the soup.  The rest of us get the salad.

At the end of the meal the waitress brings out the big bag with our pastas that we get to take home.  We box up our leftovers.  This includes a few leftovers from our meals and leftover salad and leftover soup. Did you know that the salads are unlimited?  If you want to bring some home for leftovers just ask for another salad and ask that they put the dressing on the side for this one.  Each what you want and then bring home the rest.  Also the soup is unlimited too. Again just ask for another bowl and bring home the leftovers.

Tonight we had our pasta meals we brought home and salad.
Tomorrow we will have leftovers for lunch.  These are leftovers from last night in the restaurant and leftovers from tonight.

That makes three meals for us from one.  We virtually "ate out" three times!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

What a difference a year makes...

Last year in August we moved back to our hometown, feeling beaten.  We had just a little money to live on.  My husband began working immediately for a friend of his working in his mulch yard. He was selling mulch, loading it for customers, etc.  It was a little money.  He also started his own lawn care business.  He got a little business throughout the fall, aerations, leaf work, etc.  I was working at Michaels as much as I could.

Money dwindled fast.  We were rubbing pennies together.

In December, a friend of my husband asked if he could help him out for a bit of time. His father was ill and he needed to go tend to him out of state.  He asked if my husband would run his lawn care business while he was away. He didn't know when he would return.  Of course, my husband said yes.  He worked hard all through December which helped us get through Christmas.  The winter was tough but my husband continued to help out his friend when he needed help. We scraped together pennies from here and there.

In February we instituted a "no spend month".  While it was consciously hard to not spend money at all, it wasn't as hard as we thought because we really didn't have much money to spend anyway.  It also snowed in February, twice!  That meant that my husband was able to shovel snow and make some money.

March came and we were given the news that my husband's friend's father had passed away. My husband again came to the aide of his friend and helped out with his business, all the while working his jobs on the side.

In April, my husband's friend announced that he was going to move out of state and asked my husband if he wanted to buy his lawn care business.  They drew up papers and by the end of the month we were running a fully operating lawn care service again.  We merged his business into my husband's existing small business.

From there we have been cruising.  This summer we have been able to go out to eat more, pay off a ton of bills (more money than I want to think about) and over Labor Day weekend we actually went on VACATION!

Now instead of wondering where the money will come from (well we still worry), we have employee issues.  It is pretty sad that our best employee is our 16 year old son.  We have one other guy who works for us now, since my son is focusing on his schoolwork now. He is a great employee and had worked for my husband on a very part time basis for years.  Now he is fulltime and filling in the gap that our son left.

Each September seems to be the start of a new year in my eyes.   I am excited about this year and the possibilities it holds.  The bills are getting paid and slowly we are starting get the kids back into the activities they enjoyed years ago.  It is comforting to know that we can pay the bills!

Looking back on this past year I am reconfirmed in my marriage.  I have chosen my best partner. He is such a hard worker.  He is positive, loving, and supportive.  He will do anything for us!  He is adventurous and willing to consider pretty much anything, crazy or not.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

How I do laundry.

I know you have been wondering....... so today I will tell you how I do laundry.  Ha ha ha.

I have learned a lot over the past 20 years on what works and what doesn't work for us as a family.  We are a family of 5, with 3 teenagers.  We have big clothes.  Oh to have the days of tiny clothes again when you can do all your kids clothes in one or two loads.  Now we average about 10 loads a week and that doesn't include sheets or towels.  Towels will often take 3 loads a week.  So if we are doing sheets and towels (we do towels every week) it is a total of 15-17 loads a week!  That is a lot of laundry.

I am a bit of the busy type of mom. I work, I teach the kids, and I do housework.  I do get help from the kids.  That is a bonus.  My son actually likes doing laundry!  I tend to save laundry and do it all in one or two days.

In the past, I would wash and dry the clothes and then dump them on the couch to fold.  The folding never got done and the kids would push the clothes off the couch so they could sit.  The clean clothes would end up on the floor.  That method didn't work for us.

I eventually moved to putting the clean clothes back in the laundry baskets straight from the dryer.  The baskets never got folded and we would just root through the baskets to find the clothes we wanted to wear.  The clothes were wrinkled and not very attractive.  This method didn't work for us.

Then I would fold the clothes straight from the dryer and put the folded clothes back in the baskets to take up to the bedrooms to put away.  Inevitably the clothes never got put away.  They just stayed in the baskets and we rooted through the basket to find the clothes we wanted to wear, wrinkling all the others in the process. {sigh} This method didn't work for us.

Finally, I figured I would fold the laundry right out of the dryer and by this time the kids were old enough to put their own clothes away (5-8 years old in my house).  I would sort the clothes in piles of whose items it was along with sorting for the type of clothing it was.  All the pants went together, all the shirts together, all the underwear together, etc.  I would stack the piles in order of their drawers too.  Then the kids would get their piles (the 5 year old would get two types of items at a time) and take them up to put them away.  I would hang any hanging items and take them up myself. (we don't hang much of the kids items).  Finally a method that works!

This method allows us to have folded clothes that are put away.  If we don't get to the "put away" part, the pile sits neatly folded on top of the dryer.  All our socks go in a "sock bin" and I sort and match the socks while doing laundry but the singles go in the bin until a match can be found.  With socks I try to make it as easy as possible.  Most all socks are white and all the girls including me share socks.  All the boys also share socks.  Since we are all in "adult" sized shoes we all use the same sized socks.  There are a few fashion socks for the girls but not many.

Currently, we are living in a rental.  It is a "townhouse" style home and the laundry is in the basement.  We collect dirty clothes in laundry baskets in the bathrooms and in the bedrooms.  On laundry day we gather all the baskets and take them down to the laundry room to wash.  We have only one washer and one dryer.  Laundry never gets completely done.  When we were living in our own home with a large laundry room we had one washer and two dryers.  This was ideal on laundry day.  I could plow through the laundry quickly.  It takes twice as long to dry as it does to wash so the two dryers were so helpful!  I long for a second dryer now.  When the baskets are emptied they go back to the bedrooms and bathrooms empty. We have a hanging rack down in the laundry room too where we hang the hang up items immediately after drying to eliminate as much ironing as possible.

I would love to hang my laundry outside to air dry and get that fresh smells but we have allergies in the family and particularly during the spring and fall this would "kill" some of the members of our family if pollens and other allergens got into our clothes. So we don't hang outside.

When we traveled I loved using the laundromat when the clothes piled up.  While it was expensive, I could get 10 loads of laundry done in just a few hours!   So efficient having so many washers and dryers at once!  We did have a small washer/dryer unit in our travel trailer but it only took small loads and took 2 1/2 hours to wash and dry small loads.  It was great for underwear and socks and light weight items but not for jeans and towels.

I don't love laundry.  I save mine up for a marathon day or two.  I had a friend who did laundry every day of the week for her family.  She had three children as I do and she assigned each child a day.  On their assigned day she did their laundry and sheets.  At the end of 5 days she have everyone's laundry done and on Saturdays she did the towels and extras.  This method worked for her.  When she pulled the laundry out of the dryer she folded it and it went back in the baskets and back up to that person's room.  Done.  I can't get into that method because I don't want to be doing laundry everyday.  But this worked for her.

Everyone has a different method of tackling the neverending piles.  Each person will find their own way that works for them.  When tackling your piles look at what you have been doing and identify what works and what doesn't.  Then change the parts that don't work for you.  Keep the parts that do.

Friday, April 10, 2015

This teacher teaches fundraising to her kids.

This is an awesome blog by an awesome teacher.  She taught her students how to fundraise.  One of the ways she taught was through  I was so impressed by her students' projects.

Please take a look at the videos that the kids made and consider making a donation!  I was really impressed!

On her blog, you will find the links to her students' fundraising projects.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A New Job!

I am still working at Michaels.  Don't worry.  I am still getting my "employee discount".  That is the important part, right???  {giggles}

Yesterday I was offered a job with a merchandising company.  It places magazines and books in local storefronts.  I go in and set up the books, move books around, and straighten the shelves.  I am really excited about this position because it allows me a bit more flexibility, and for right now I work for both Michaels and this merchandising company too!  Double bonus!

I don't know when I start right now but I will post how it is going once I start! ~~~~ excited!