How I’ve been keeping busy…

I’m busier now than I have been in ages! Most everyone has started distance learning, including our family.

Thankfully, Big Kids’ teacher is in communication and sent us an email with tons of great resources and links. I am trying to keep the kids entertained without relying on screens all day (even educational screen time). My kids are not motivated by worksheets either, so we need to do hands-on stuff.

Besides schoolwork, we’ve started our annual spring garden. Big Kid and I donned masks and hit up the local nursery. We picked out Catnip, Rosemary, Basil, and a hanging strawberry plant in addition to a few kinds of seeds. Our patio looks great, and the kids are outside daily tending to their plants and harvesting ripe strawberries. I kept the pots from last year’s garden.

The other night after the kids were settled, I decided to clean out the junk drawer (ok, 1 junk drawer, we have a couple), the utensil drawer, and the silverware drawer.

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I threw out old condiment packets, broken serving spoons, knives with broken/chipped handles, lids that had no corresponding cups, and I vacuumed out each drawer.

After I had completed that herculean feat, I dove headfirst (metaphorically) into the pantry.

I pulled everything out pantry and set it on the counter.

I checked all the expiration dates. Anything expired got the boot.

92843855_2893563990733604_4081992026843774976_o92828483_2893564054066931_3193846550136619008_oWhen all of this madness started a few weeks ago, I had gone to the store to do my weekly shop, and so many of the things that I’m used to buying were not available. I decided to purchase some alternate products from what we usually have in the house. Some were met with success, some were not so good- I’m looking at you Fideo Noodles.

As a result, I filled a reusable shopping bag with some food that did not cut the mustard. I took most of those items over to our local blessing box to help some of our neighbors in need. The rest I shared with some of the neighbors on our local free food group.

Our pantry is horribly laid out. It is very narrow and deep.  The dangerous part of our cupboard is you cannot reach all the way in the back without help. Last night I used a very long spatula to assist me. One of the things that I found was baby food. Little Bit is 4 1/2. I managed to clear out the pantry 100% and then refill it and move items around so it is easier to gain access

I get food in the mail or events from brands to cook with and post about on social media. Most of the time they give me a couple of each item, rarely they send cases. There were a lot of odds and ends of food from PR campaigns.

I’m also working my way through our closets to get rid of broken toys, clothing we’ve outgrown or don’t wear, or junk. I’ve come to realize that after all of this is over we’ll need to replace our towels (Our current set is from our wedding 12+ years ago), the kids need new sheets, and Big Kid is getting a new bed (which was in the works before Covid struck). And I’ll probably have enough clothing for a clothing swap- Both kids are mid-growth spurt.

It may seem like a lot of busywork, but we haven’t had a deep clean/in-depth declutter since we moved in- 5 years ago. I go through the kids toys several times a year, as well as their clothing and books. But, I’m bad about doing it with household goods and my personal items.

Today was more of a lazy day for us: We played some games, did some sight word writing, played Bingo, and made this stuff called Ooze Baff, which was 100% gross, do not recommend. If you want to try it, I bought it at Dollar Tree. For a Dollar.  In a little while, we’ll have bath time, and I’ll read to them. We may pull out the couch into a bed and all cuddle on the couch for a bit.

I would love to hear about how you and yours have been keeping busy! Leave me a comment!

Easy Home Maintenance: Cleaning Your Box Fans!

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.35.48 PM.pngRecently, we noticed that our box fans weren’t providing much cool air. Before dropping over $150 to replace them all, I decided to see if cleaning them would improve their airflow capabilities. After all, they were still functioning mechanically, they weren’t putting out the air flow they used to.

With temperatures in excess of 80 degrees almost all year round here, box fans are a needed appliance in our home. We can’t go without them, as running the AC is cost-prohibitive.

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Oh dear.

These fans are all about a year old, and while I have vacuumed the front and back of them previously (I do it once a week), they had never been taken apart and cleaned.

Gather all the tools needed before you start. For this job you will need:

  • A sheet to cover your work area.
  • A screwdriver (our fans all have Philips head screws)
  • A dish to hold the screws while the fan is disassembled
  • All-purpose cleaner. I used Comet Lilac Bliss- it’s what we had in the house, and it worked really well.
  • A stiff-bristled brush. I used the brush I use to scrub the soap scum/hard water deposits out of the bathtubs (like this)
  • Rags or really scratchy paper towels. You need something that will trap the dirt.
  • Vacuum Cleaner with a brush attachment.
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Before: This stuff was tough to scrub off!
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Once again, my Dyson Vacuum saves the day!
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After: So fresh and so clean!

Here are my tips for deep cleaning your fans-

    1. UNPLUG THEM! It seems like a no-brainer, but I’m going to remind you to not clean appliances that are still plugged in.
    2. Remove the front and back plastic pieces of the fan. Ours were held together with 6 screws.
    3. To remove the dirt/fuzz/cat/hair/whatever grossness that was on the fan front and back, I placed them in the bathtub and sprayed them down with all-purpose cleaner. I allowed them to sit for about 20 minutes while I cleaned the fan blade and fan case.
    4. Using all-purpose cleaner and a rag, carefully spray and wipe the fan blades, both front and back sides.
    5. Using the vacuum hand tool with the brush attachment, clean the interior of the fan case, as well as the backside of the fan motor. I was amazed at the amount of fuzz, dirt, and hair was around the intakes for the fans.
    6. Once the fan blades and fan case are clean, return to the bathroom and scrub the fan front and back. Rinse and dry completely.
    7. Reattach the front and back to the fan case, plug in and test out. All 6 fans worked 100% better after being cleaned. This is now a chore that has been added to the end of season home cleaning list.
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Re-assembled and working like new!

Cleaning all of the fans took about 2 hours, and that included time to make snacks for two very starving kids, let the cat in and out a few times and help with math homework. Without distractions, I could have gotten done in about an hour.

In the future, I may invest in some of these Box Fan Filters, which until today I had no idea existed.

Taking care of appliances, like these box fans is just another way that we are able to extend the useful life of often-used items in our homes, and that saves us money in the long run.

Talk Back: What types of small things do you do to extend the life of your small appliances?

Super Busy Summer!

I haven’t had much time to sit at the computer and write lately, but we’ve been busy! There are so many free and frugal things to do in the summer, and we haven’t even done a 1/3 of what we have planned!

Here are just a few of the adventures we’ve been having (and you can try them too)!

 

 

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Henry’s Handiwork!

Rock Painting!  Some of you have seen pictures of the painted rocks we’ve been making, hiding, and finding all over town on my Instagram feed.  Santee Rocks was started by a local teacher to spread kindness.  There are lot of other “rocks” groups all over San Diego, and the US! We even hosting a Rock Painting party at a local park! Over 30 people showed up, painted, and played. We hope to host another one in July.

We’ve also been hitting up our local libraries for all sorts of fun events and activities. Our favorite is the El Cajon Library. They serve lunch M-F, 11:30-12:30.  Afterwards there are a variety of events and activities from special speakers, concerts, and even crafts! And they even serve an afternoon snack!

There is a small play area for kids with an interactive discovery structure, and a Duplo Wall! There is a shaded playground out front as well. It’s a great way to spend a few hours in a climate controlled place without visiting the mall or any place where you might spend money. We usually end up bringing home a few library books too.

We’ve been on adventures with friends! Playing T-ball at the park and going on the hunt for decorated rocks was the biggest hit so far.

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Playing dress up is a frequent stay at home activity. Here we have the Pirate T-Rex, trick or treating for meat.

And of course, We spend time at home, doing crafts, swimming in the community pool, playing Legos, and just hanging out!

I’m of the mind that summer doesn’t need to be packed with activities sun up to sun down. Frequently, we spend our time at home spending time together. We have friends over to play, but it’s super low-key.

I’ve taking a break from trying to pound out an article or post each day. I want to spend time with the kids and family.

What kinds of activities and adventures has you family been having this summer?

 

Update: where have I been?

I'm looking stylish in my mask and hospital gown, right?
I’m looking stylish in my mask and hospital gown, right?

You may have been wondering where I’ve been. I haven’t been updating the blog a lot and I definitely haven’t been doing a lot of Facebook posts lately.

I’ve been sick. It all started back in the middle of December when I started not feeling well I had a cough and a slight fever and I was just feeling very run down. I just chalked it  up to being the holidays and getting the same ick and everybody else had.

When I called the doctors office to talk to the nurse practitioner she said that it was probably either just the virus that was going around or had a cold and not to bother wasting my $40 co-pay to come in to be told I have a cold. I appreciated that and took the list of OTC meds she suggested I take to Target and shopped.

Fast forward to the end of February and I can’t go five or ten minutes without coughing or hacking. I continued the take the OTC meds the NP suggested and just resigned myself to the fact that it was going to take 12+ weeks to recover like she said. After getting little over 3 hours of sleep Saturday night, I called the 24 hour nurses line on Sunday. I had reached my breaking point. I needed help. I went over my symptoms and confessed to the nurse on duty that I thought I might have a slight case of pertussis since I do have children and we go to the park a lot where there are all kinds of germy kiddos!

I have had the pertussis vaccination as a child and all the boosters that are supposed to be administered while you’re pregnant also. She said that she didn’t think I had pertussis because I wasn’t having the “whoop” in my cough (hence the name whooping cough), but she would have someone from my PCPs office call me on Monday. I asked her if she thought I should go to urgent care and she said no because urgent care is only for people who are sick. This made me a little upset as you probably can guess. Because I haven’t had more than three hours (tops) of sleep since Christmas and my voice is so hoarse from coughing but I can’t talk above a whisper most of the time.

After talking it over with my husband I went to urgent care where after having a doctor poke and prod at my glands, look down my throat, listen to me breathe, cough, and have a set of  chest x-rays he said I’m going to give you a pertussis swab (If you’ve never had one it’s where they take a swab flexible wire and stick it up your nose really far. It does not feel good).

So here I am two days later waiting for the results of my pertussis test. I should get a phone call one where the other tomorrow or perhaps Thursday. In the meantime I’ve been given a prescription for an inhaler, oral steroids, and lovely little tussin pearls. I feel 1000% better than I did before. It could be that I’ve actually slept and I can take a deep breath without coughing incessantly for five minutes.

And I did a lot of research myself before coming to the conclusion that I should probably be tested for pertussis or even say those words to the nurse at the after hours line or the doctor at the urgent care. I looked at the CDC website and some medical journals online, I talked to adults actually had pertussis.  They too had received the initial vaccination and appropriate boosters as indicated by medical professionals.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because you are your only medical advocate. If you don’t feel good and the doctors, nurses, and medical practitioners that you were speaking to you don’t take your concerns seriously or they brush you off as a hypochondriac or just someone who has a school-age child and you’re going through the back to school yucky that everybody gets, keep talking to to medical professionals until you find someone that will listen to you.

If I have pressed forward and demanded for an appointment when I called the nurse the first time I told her of the symptoms I was having, I probably would’ve been seen.  They would’ve tested me for everything I requested it, and I would’ve taken medication and been much better right now.

You are your child’s primary advocate also! If your kiddo ins’t feeling well and their ped gives you a brush off, get a second opinion!  I feel fortunate that my children have a wonderful pediatrician who listens to my concerns and answers all of my seemingly odd questions. She spent more time with me yesterday than any doctor have the entire time I have been seeing a doctor.  She answered all of my questions about my children’s health and my health too.  She even checked my medical record to see if the test results back for my pertussis test, which they had not. She seemed genuinely concerned that the petitioner and my PCPs office did not want to see me when I voiced a concern but I might have bronchitis or whooping cough because I have an infant in the house.

So now that I’m feeling better, you’ll be seeing your posts for me. I have a lot of awesome stuff to share with you guys about programs coming up that I’m being a part of, hopefully I’ll have some to give away supposed to say, I’m back at it.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 5.02.02 PMIn fact the rough draft of this post was dictated to my iPhone warded six loads of laundry this afternoon. All the while wearing Margaret in the Tula. I have a lot of awesome stuff to share with you guys about programs coming up that I’m being a part of, hopefully I’ll have a giveaway coming uptoo!

I’m hopeful that I’ll continue to be on the mend and help more awesome content for you guys coming up for fun crafts you can do with the kids! Thank you for all the emails Private messages on Facebook. It means a lot to me that you guys reach out to me to find out how I’m doing. I really appreciate it.