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Crazy trip to the store

On Tuesday night, I was driving home when I get a call from Liz. She sounds irritated and explains that in an act of clumbsiness while in the kids in the kitchen, she accidently knocked over the box of shells (pasta) that she was prepairing for dinner, and they spilled all over the floor. She asked me if I could run to the store and pickup a box of shells. At this point it was 6pm, and the meal she was wanting to make takes an hour to complete. I tried to talk her into doing something else, but she refused and insisted she needed a box of shells. I reluctantly agreed and stopped by a local store on the way home. I went in and grabbed some banannas too since we needed those, this was in an attempt to increase the amount of money I’d spend at checkout, since I hate coming up to a register and the amount being like a dollor or so, and having to use my debit card since I don’t carry cash.

I should explain at this point that the other day I got tired of my wallett staining my pants and being uncomfortable in general (since I sit at a desk most of the day). So I took my wallett out of my back pocket and put it in my laptop case. Those of you who know me, also know that my memory isn’t so good.

I go into the store and grab the items I need, also grabbed a little something for the kids (ok and me too), and headed to the checkout. I put my items on the belt and reached for my wallett and was horrified to find it missing. I frantically put back the items I had picked out and went out to my car empty handed. I did however spent about 15 minutes in the store looking around and arguing with Liz on the phone about what kind of shells to get. But left with nothing.

I get home and fully expect to have an arguement about what had happened and Liz would rush out to the store to get what she needs on her own, etc, etc. It was not a pretty picture I had predicted would take place. I get home and she meets me at the door with a kiss and is perfectly calm. She had talked to my mom and had decided to do this meal another day. We had something else and it was no big deal. I was totally surprised that she was not going to push it and it actually turned out really nicely, except that I had to put back my cocoa rice crispies I was drueling over at the checkout lane… 🙂

Really cool parenting tool and chore tracker

I stumbled across this really cool website today while looking for home management software. Its called Handipoints, and you can find them at HandiPoints. This is a web based parenting tool where the parents can create chores and tasks and keep track of them, print them out and teach their children responsibility. There is also a section to setup rewards and bonuses, as you acknowledge your child’s achievements and reward them for good behavior. Its totally customizable as to what the rewards can be, and as a parent you can even assign your child demerits if needed. Its an amazing system and I highly recommend it to anyone with children regardless of age, as long as they are of age to have chores. Older kids can even logon to their own custom part of the site and see what they are expected to do and redeem their points for cool stuff on the website. Or you can use your own rewards like a trip to the park, or ice cream! Check it out, its a great service and totally free!

Surprise Weekend

This is going to be a rather long story. Its a tale of surprise and fun.

It all started on Thursday evening while I was at work. I was working on a server migration project involving Goodlink, when things took a turn for the worse. I was on the phone with Goodlink support almost all day. I was having a terrible time getting things to work properly, and ended up having to stay super late on Thursday, I didn’t leave the office until 11pm. I get in to work around 7:45am or so every weekday, so I was at work from 7:45am until 11m, which makes for a very long day! I finally got things stabalized with the help of Goodlink support and started on my way home. Once I got home, around 11:30pm, I walked in the door, hungry (since I hadn’t eaten anything) and tired (obviously), and so I sat down next to Liz who was sitting on the couch. I leaned over to give her a hello kiss, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye that startled me. It was my borhter Jeremy who’s hand was reaching up towards me in an attempt to surprise me! I jumped up off the couch in surprise and realized it was him. They were totally playing me and had even more surprised in store for me.

We talked for a bit and got a snack and a drink and finally went to bed around 12:30am. The next morning we got up around 8 or so, and I was still in bed when there was a ring at the doorbell. I had a suspicion as to who it might be, but Liz asked me to get the door, so I did and found my mom standing out on the porch. Turned out they had both flown in that Thursday morning and spent the day with Liz and the kids. I had to work late so it totally screwed up their surprise plans and they had to completely change around what they were going to do. So we got to spend the whole weekend (I took Friday off too) with my mom and Jeremy. Click more or the post title to read more about the weekend…
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Field trip day

Today Sarah’s school took a field trip to MOSI and will be seeing (among other things) the butterfly farm. I can’t wait to hear all about it tonight.

Two Amazing things

Yesterday when I got the mail from the mailbox, I discovered two amazing things. First, I received a check from our title company that did the closing on both the sale of our old home and the purchase of the new one. It was a check for an overage they charged us on property taxes. They made a big deal about it at closing, that we may get charged more when the taxes came due if they didn’t collect enough. Then yesterday we received a check for the overage which was surprising. This came in the mail right after we had just decided to purchase something for someone else out of funds we didn’t really have. So this check was triple what we spent on this other person which was amazing. Then I got a letter from Lowes, which was in regards to my Lowes card account. Turns out I have a $70+ dollar credit on my Lowes card account. This is also amazing, because I really need a hedge trimmer, which this overage will allow me to get, along with a few other small items we need for the house.


Our old house sold rather quickly, it was listed, sold and closed within 30 days. Our buyer was a little wacky and we had to jump through all kinds of hoops to make him happy. The closing date snuck up on us big time and we had only a few days to make moving arrangements. Liz and I packed up as much as we could and we had some friends that were nice enough to come over and help us. We had some help loading large items onto a moving truck which we were fortunately able to get for free from our real estate agent’s company. It was a 15′ truck and took 2 full loads to get all of our things to the garage of the new house. Liz and I loaded the first truck load along with some help from friends with the large items on Saturday morning. We then took the load to the new garage and unloaded it with just Liz and myself. It took us about 1 hour or so to unload the first trip. Then we took the truck back to our house and started to load more. It was getting late and Liz’s dad had come down to help from Ocala, so we took a dinner break and ended up with Liz’s dad and myself stopping by Dairy Queen on the way back. We got all the rest of the stuff from our old house loaded onto the truck in a few hours. Leaving only some trash to put out for collection and some small items like mirrors and things we could get with the van. It was almost 10pm by this time so we decided to leave it at that for the night and I drove the full truck back to a baseball field parking lot next to some friend’s house whom we were staying with. The next afternoon, Liz went somewhere with the kids and I took the truck to the new house and unloaded it by myself. It only took me a little over an hour and a half to get the extremely packed truck unloaded. What can I say, I’m nothing if not efficient. Ha ha. That evening I took the truck back to the real estate agent’s office and got my precious Miata back. I enjoyed a nice pleasant ride back to where we were staying.

First our home sale was supposed to happen on a Friday and the closing on our new house on a Monday. However, there was some kind of delay last minute and we could not close on either until Wednesday. So Wednesday finally came, I took some vacation days off work for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday but also had Monday off for Columbus day. So I had 6 days to move and get settled in. We met at the title company at 3pm on Wednesday to close on both houses. The buyer of our house could not be there so he came earlier and signed paperwork. Which we were very happy about so we didn’t have to deal with him in person since he gave us such a time dealing through his real estate agent. Not to mention his agent had a horrible accent and was very hard to understand. They got to us in a short amount of time and we signed all the sale papers for our old house. We finished only after about 15 minutes or so, and then decided to move on and finish the signing of the papers on our new house. This way, when the seller got there all he had to do was sign a few papers and we’d be all set.

Bad thing was that the amount we got back at closing was not as much as we had thought due to higher taxes and expenses in closing. So we got back just short of the amount we wanted. We had planned to pay off two big debts but didn’t receive enough to pay off just one of them. We will be getting an escrow refund from our first mortgage which will help and we don’t have a mortgage payment until Dec 1st, so I’m hoping the extra bill I hadn’t counted on will not be too high of a payment. We should be able to pay a little on the second debt which will hopefully make it more managable. We still have some things we need to buy though, like a dishwasher, since it died just after we got the keys. I’d like to get a new refridgerator, but that will have to wait. We did get a new TV (woo hoo), couch set, and some other things, but the budget is going to be interesting now. We are going to have to take Sarah out of private school and send her to a very highly rated public school nearby. We just can’t afford her tuition anymore with the higher living expenses. This has been hard for Liz and I’m not happy about it either, but unless I get a major career boost (and I already do good) or Liz gets a good job, we just can’t afford to send our kids to private school. Its bad enough just paying tuition for one, I can’t immaging how we could send all our kids to private school. Sarah will likely start public school in early November.

Activating utilities at the new house was a little strange, we are just outside the city limits of Temple Terrace, but still are on their water/sewer system. Tampa Electric still services us which is good, but water and trash pickup were tricky. The county told me they didn’t service my address, the city said they didn’t service the address, Temple Terrace told us they did. So it was a bit confusing getting it all setup. But on the day we moved in we had power, water/sewer and trash pickup is covered in our property taxes. I missed trash pickup this morning, I guess they come way earlier than I am used to, so I’ll have to remember to put it out the night before the pickup day. I ordered Verizon FIOS for internet access to try it out and see how it works for me. Its cheaper than Road Runner and has faster upload speeds which is more important to me than a few MB faster download speeds. I am downloading any TV shows I want to watch now so we didn’t get cable again and I don’t want to pay for Satellite, which stinks in Florida anyway with all the rain in the summer. I connected my PC via DVI to the new TV – a Hitachi 57″ HDTV. I watched some things on it in HD and its amazing. I just need to get a good surround sound system and I’ll be set. But thats one more thing I can’t afford right now. I might be able to get a PCI video card with a DVI port on it, and just use my e-mail server as my multimedia machine. I’d also need to get a wireless keyboard and mouse, but thats not too expensive. I have yet to decide what I want to do about that yet.

We love our new house, its not brand new and it has some maintenance things that will need to be done, but its been cared for and is in good shape overall. Its in a very quiet neighborhood, peaceful and pleasant. Liz has already been rollerblading a few times and I took the kids in the back yard last night to assemble their swing set and it was so quiet and there was a nice cool breeze blowing with no one else around. I have some installation inadequicies so it took a little longer than I had wanted to get the swing set assembled 🙂 We still have lots of stuff in the new garage so only my Miata can fit in there at night right now. I would like to have both vehicles in the garage by next weekend. Its not that much left to move, but its a matter of time and energy to go through it all. We made good progress in the few days we have been there, the kitchen and living room look great, but the other rooms are a little bare right now.

So I’m back at work today after a long break and am right back into the mix of things again. I think I am becomming a supporter of capitol punnishment for spammers. :-)]]>

Bad Neighborhood??

It didn’t take us long to realize that even though our house was the nicest one (as far as condition and age) that we had ever had, but our neighborhood left much to be desired. We discovered lewd music being played very loud at all hours of the day and night, we found beak-in attempts on my truck parked in my driveway just off the street!!! Drug dealers and gang bangers and barred stores all over. Suddenly things didn’t seem so nice as they had after just coming from a much worse place.

Its been a year this March (almost there). We still don’t like the neighborhood, and desperately want to move. We are embarrassed to have people over for fear that they might be afraid of the area. We have one year left to live in this house before we are going to try to sell it and move to a nicer area. I’m sincerely hoping that home values will rise enough by the time I’m ready to sell that we could take the equity in the home sale and use it to pay off all our debt. This is not so far fetched and we’ve done it once before. We bought the house for $131,000 and they are already selling now for upwards of $160 in some areas. Our neighborhood definately has something to do with the value, but hopefully by next March I’ll be able to get about $169K from the sale of our home. If that happens, we will be able to pay off all our bills, and have a few K left over to put down on a new home and pay all closing costs in cash. This would also allow me to finally trade my truck in for a car with a working heater! I know that sounds funny coming from someone who lives in FL, but lately in the mornings it can get pretty chilly! I’ve had ice on my windshield for the past two mornings now. And the heater in my truck is broken.

Should this plan work out, and we can pay off all our debt, and do the things I just mentioned; then we are aced with a new challenge. First, we have to find a new home, but not just any home, it again will need certain features. It will need to be in a nicer neighborhood, in a good location close enough to my work and Sarah’s school. And of course we can’t wander too far from Temple Terrace!

The reason I want to wait until two years has passed is that I don’t want to pay capitol gains tax, which would cut into my available funds to get out of debt. I’ve managed to acquire a bit of debt over the years. I’ve got three credit cards, a few store cards (all with $0 balances), a student loan, a truck (auto) loan, and a few minor medical bills. Not to mention my mortgages, but they don’t really count. Once all this is paid off with the sale of our home, we will much more available monthly spendable income to use towards the mortgage of a more expensive house in a better area. This will also provide the funds for sending Sarah and Abby both to private school. It will also enable us to do the things I want so badly to do, such as take a family vacation somewhere nice. Perhaps take a few trips a year somewhere with the kids and do something fun.

Individually, I do fairly well in my profession. I’ve been in IT for over 8 years now, I make good enough money (though in my area there are higher paying jobs for which I qualify). The thing that sets us apart, is that Liz doesn’t work, not at all outside the home. This presents a challenge for me to maximize my income to provide for my family on my own without the income of a spousourselvese. Most families these days must have both parents working just to make it. I’ve been blessed that I have been able to make enough money to support my family on a single income. This is very difficult and we often find ourselves down to just a few dollars in the bank more than a few times each year. (in between pay periods). This presents its own challenges, for example, at work some of the guys like to go out and eat lunch sometimes several times a week. This is something I just cannot afford to do. Also we are limited in the activities we can provide for our kids, we haven’t been to Disney or Sea World or been on any weekend trips or done much of anything that requires more than $100 (and thats high). I really want to provide more experiences for my kids, I want to travel with them on family vacations, take them to interesting places and expose them to the world around them. There is a lot of beauty in the creation we are surrounded by, most of which I haven’t seen either. Hopefully one day, money won’t be so tight that we keep telling ourselves “we can’t afford to do that or go there”.

So lookout, come next March the Church Family might be moving to a neighborhood near you!


Last minute trip to New York

On Friday morning, I checked out of my hotel, went to the office and got ready to go. On the way into the building I lost my ID badge and was afraid to leave because they might not let me back in. I was however able to get a guest pass and enter that way. I finally got breakfast at about 11am. This got me out of having to go somewhere I don’t like for lunch (long story). About 12:30 I have a meeting with my boss to review my project and get info on the next steps I need to take. We ended up doing some testing on the systems I setup, and that ran me over until 2:10pm. My car was waiting to take me to the airport at 2 sharp. I didn’t finish my testing, and there was a few problems. Fortunately, the trip to the airport was much faster than I thought it would be, based on past trips. Usually on a Friday afternoon, getting out of Manhattan is a nightmare. But headed for the Lincoln tunnel was no problem. I made it to the airport at about 3pm. I was able to setup my laptop wireless and was able to remote into my company network through VPN and continue working on the problems. I got everything all fixed up and had them do more tests. My flight was scheduled to leave at 6:25 so I started the check-in process around 4:30. I got dinner at Sbarros in the C Concourse. I then read a book and talked to Liz on the phone while I waited.

See my next blog for the next part of this story.

Crazy bathroom stories

1. The urinals are directly across the room from the stalls.
2. The stalls have slats in the door, strategically positioned so that you can see the people at the urinals from about from their posterrior down. Which of course offers a great view of spontanious human waterfalls :-0
3. The stalls are usually small with a single toilet (duh)

Now one thing is fairly common with all public bathrooms, there is usually one stall that is the “king” suite stall. You know the one, its everyone’s favorite or choice stall to use. Its the handicapped stall. Do handicapped people ever use the handicapped stall on the 6th floor of a building, nah probably not. But all of us other people do! Come on, its huge, its got its own sink, more legroom, rails to hold on to (God forbid I ever need them when I go in there). Its triple the size of the other stalls and the furthest away from the other toilets in those stalls. (who wants to be sitting six inches away from another guy taking care of business)? Which brings me to the humorous part of this series of stories…

I’m human, I go to the bathroom like anyone else, come on people, we all do it. So one day I get to work and feel the need to head for the restroom. I always dread entering a public restroom because something goofy and most of the time gross ends up happening with me in there. Something you should know about me before I go any further is that I’m a quiet guy, I don’t make a lot of noise with much of anything, I breathe quietly, I move quietly, its jut the way I am. So when I’m in a stall in a public restroom, the other people that come in after me, may not necessarily be aware that I’m in there. 🙂 How fortunate for me. I firmly believe its due to this fact that other Men that enter the restroom after me feel so relaxed. There is nothing I love more than having to be in a public restroom in the first place, but then to have a guy walk in, head for a urinal, which is right in front of my stall, where I have a clear view of the guy from the hips down (hurray). When all of a sudden, it starts. You know what it is, it happens all the time. The guy walks in, starts taking care of business and yup you guessed it, starts to pass gas. Not just a quiet (because he is not trying to be quiet) little one, loud forceful, echoing gas! While this is going on, I’m quietly sitting in my stall making no noise at all. While I have a four part harmony of the alphabet going on right in front of me. I’m holding my breath trying not to break out in laughter. The poor unsuspecting guy has no idea that right behind him is a guy secretly making fun of him, gagging over my own laughter that I’m trying to quietly contain. Finally the circus is over and he leaves. Ahh, now I can laugh, or can I. I think to myself, what if someone walks by the bathroom and hears hearty laughter coming from the men’s room. Hmmm, maybe now isn’t the best time to laugh.

Like I said, everytime I enter a public restroom the comical happens to me. This is just one more many more stories. All of which I can’t put on this blog. So check out my other entries as I will be posting more….