Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Healy Spirit Project

This year my bosses gave each of us employees $100 to do "something good" with. 
It took a little thought and discussion to decide how to spend this money; what would actually do some good?  So I went though a few ideas with the kids and we settled on this idea:  Homeless Care Packages
 So we had $100 and some items already in our house: snacks, protein drinks, Ziploc bags, vitamins, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, cough drops...  Next we went to HyVee to return the cans, adding those funds (a little over $5) to our total. 

Then we went to the Dollar Store to see how far we could stretch $100.  The idea was to make 10 bags. 
At the Dollar Store we found hats, gloves, socks, lip balm, toothpaste, bottles of water, tissues, hand wipes.
After the Dollar Store we had $57 left.  So we went to Subway to purchase 10 $6 gift cards, figuring that would at least buy one meal for an individual. 
Finally we wrote a card/note that says "We are sorry you are down on your luck.  We hope this bag will bring you a little comfort and a meal.  Happy Holidays.  The Stewarts"

So now we have them in our car ready to give to anyone we see panhandling as we drive around town. 
Thank You Healy Group for your generosity and your encouragement to your employees to also be generous. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012


It's been quite the month!  I had a quick turn around trip to South Bend, my mom came to town for a week, I had jury duty and numerous Scout/kid events. 

My mom was here about 9 months ago and made real headway on unpacking our house and getting it...livable.  She probably did about 80%.  I did NOTHING on the other 20% after she left.  So when she came back there was probably back to 60% to do.  I think Aron's room actually scared her.  But she's a trooper.

She got nearly every single toy out of each of the kids' rooms.  And moved them downstairs.  And organized them, and yes, got rid of some.  There is now a neat stack of see-through bins in the basement that are stacked against the wall - next to an entire floor area for playing.  There is also a craft table, beside which are all the necessary craft tools that any young artist would need.  There is also room to play the Wii. 

I had started cleaning and organizing my office before she arrived, partially because it is the room in which I spend the most time and partly because I needed to be sure I wasn't missing anything related to my PTA Treasurer or Dad's Club School Coordinator roles (both of which involve money). 

She also (as she usually does) changed the layout of our living room.  It's finally at a place where the family can sit together and watch TV and not feel so disconnected.  She also found a place in each of the kids' rooms to store ALL of their clothes (the ones that fit, anyway), so there is no reason for clean laundry to take up couch space. 

Here's where my OCD kicks in.  On the one hand it's WONDERFUL to have the house at a place where I feel like I can handle the daily maintenance.  On the other hand, I'm getting down right dictator about the kids picking up after themselves, not wanting it to slide back to where it was. 

And now I notice the cobwebs (something I was very much ignoring when the mess of the house was so overwhelming I couldn't think where to begin). 

Did I mention Jury Duty?  I was picked to sit on a jury - and we found her not guilty.  I've completed that civil duty and now I am exempt for at least the next two years. 

Monday night we had our last Soccer Academy practice.  Tuesday we went with the Cub Scouts to see Hotel Transylvania.  Wednesday we joined choir (after having been out for soccer since school started).  Tonight we went to the school to help prepare for tomorrow's PTA Fall Festival at the kids' school.  Saturday we will help build the float for the Cub Scouts Halloween Parade entry.  Tuesday is trick-or-treat, Wednesday is the parade.... Then I think I'll be ready for a little down time!

BUT... I finally feel like I could invite people over and not cringe over the state of the house - or feel it would be so overwhelming to get it ready for invited guests. 

All-in-all, it's been a good month. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Summer Time

I'm sitting on the front porch of my parents house watching my mom and my children gradually turn it into a lovely English garden, suitable for attracting various birds.

It got up over 90 today. My parent's teeny, tiny house does not have central air. I worked on my laptop for 8 hours straight, which got incredibly hot on my lap.

Now, close to 8 pm, the temperature is perfect and the wonderful thing about Washington is that there is relatively low humidity and no bugs. So it is very pleasant sitting on the front porch of my parent's teeny tiny house.

The negative in this whole serene situation is that I'm absolutely DYING from allergies.

At about 10:00 a.m. this morning I took a Zyrtec, which did help some, but now it seems to have lost its effect and every time I stand up I sneeze like 8 times in a row.

The bottle tells me I cannot take two pills in a 24 hour period. So I'm sitting as still as possible feeling the guilt of a first-born daughter who "should" be helping with SOMETHING.

But, regardless, sitting on the front porch is a very pleasant experience.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Mom's Front Porch

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Rikka's Lost Identity

This story starts yesterday, July 2nd, in the morning. Saturday was planned to be spent getting the house ready to be gone for the month and packing for two weeks in Washington. Because I was to be gone the whole month we had an impromptu PTA meeting at Los Agaves on Friday night. While at this meeting we realized that I am the only person left on the PTA who has access to the checking account. We decided Kimberly should also have access, so we agreed to meet at the bank on Saturday at 9:30 to add her as a signer to our account and also to remove the other two who are currently on the account but no longer in PTA.

Oh, also at this meeting I found out that we do, in fact, have a Dunkin' Donuts. So at 8:30 the next morning I went to get donuts for Aron, Jordan and Eric who were going to be helping me clean and pack all day. Bribery will get you EVERYWHERE!!!

So I went to get the donuts for them and an egg-white flatbread breakfast sandwich for me (not bad, but still 7 points). Then while they started the whole cleaning/sorting/packing process I went to the bank with Kim.

We had to wait at the bank for about 20 minutes or so before we were seen. Then we were told that it would take a few days for the paperwork to be processed and sent to us for our signatures and THEN she can sign the checkbook. We also asked for debit cards, which will be mailed to the school.

So while we are getting this all ready I realize that I don't have my ID in my purse. It's just not there. I'm on a plane the next morning and I cannot find my ID. This is not good. I think for a second and realize that I do have a passport so I'll be able to fly, but still... driver's license... and I'm driving.

We remember that the DMV or whatever it's called in IOWA is open on Saturday mornings... she needs tags for her car anyway, so we head there next. It's closed because they close on Mondays anyway and Monday is a holiday.

I'm still not totally freaked out because I do have my Passport.

I go home and start packing/sorting/cleaning. I go about doing it while listening to my husband do a WONDERFUL job motivating our children to clean and sort.

I remembered that my cards sometimes fall out of my purse so I went to look under all the seats in all the cars and I found it in the Prius (the car we were in at the bank).

So yay, I now have my DL AND my passport. We go through making sure the three passports in my possession are Aron, Jordan's and mine. Eric wants his too for his trip. All four of them are together (mistake number one).

So fast forward to this morning. I'm doing the last minute things and realize that i should have done more the night before or gotten up earlier, cuz we are cutting it CLOSE!

I take my ID and my credit card out of my purse to put in my bag to have ready. I lay them on the dining room table and... I get sidetracked.

In the car Eric says "do you have the passports?" I say yes. I look at them and they are: Aron's, Jordan's and.... ERIC'S. Damn.

But, it's okay, I think, cuz I found my driver's license. Eric says, "but you have your ID, right?" Yes, I say.

I look through my bag and it's not there... I think maybe it's still in my purse, I'll check at the airport.

Eric drops us at the airport and we get in and sure enough, I do not have any form of ID.

I call Eric to turn around and get us and get in line to change my flight. I talk with the lady who says "It'll be $50/person to change your flight." I say, "Do I have a choice? I do not have ID." She says, "let me call security." Which she does.

The tell her that I'll need to go through "extra screening" but yes, I can go. I call Eric back and tell him to mail my ID (and credit card) to my parents.

We go to Security and they ask for a piece of mail with my address. fortunately I have one of these, a bill I intend to pay once I get paid on Thursday.

They let us through, and we make it on the flight (they paged us, but we made it).

Now we are sitting at Minneapolis while I try to type this and the kids each say of their DS games "Mom, I need help!"

Fun times!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Spring/Summer Cleaning

There was a time, many years ago, where I was kind of a total neat freak. You would not know this about me if you've seen my house, especially in the last two years... since moving to Davenport... since leaving South Bend.

One of my biggest problems is really the overwhelming nature of *all that domestic stuff* (I'm not always polite enough to use the word "stuff" there).

Laundry never ends, there aren't enough drawers in the kids room to put away the clothes, what do you do with the single socks waiting for a cycle of laundry to "finish" to see if they match up with something?, I should change out the winter clothes with the summer clothes, these don't fit, these are ragged, these are just old...

Each task is like that for me, thinking about it leads to another thought and another action and another "I really should..." which totally incapacitates me into sitting on the couch watching TV or (more lately) reading a good (or even not so good) novel.

A week and a half ago we made an effort to all work on something domestic. Jordan wanted to help me clean my bathroom. She likes the actual CLEANING part: spray, scrub, rinse, shine... She doesn't understand that the hard part (picking up, sorting, putting/throwing away) comes first.

Anyway, i told her she could help me, but first I needed to go through all the drawers in there and get rid of anything we didn't need or use (who needs two hair-dryers when no one in the house actually USES a hair-dryer except on the rare hair-flattening experiment)? But, also, I'm reading the Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget and want to be careful to reduce, reuse, recycle and do so responsibly. (You shouldn't throw out old batteries or prescriptions, for example).

It took a little bit but I emptied everything out of every drawer in the tiny little bathroom and got rid of what I could, organized and put away what was left and then Jordan cleaned.

This week I started in the kitchen, not making a big deal out of each area, and just taking one area at a time.

First it was the freezer (this was prompted by an ice-cream sandwich I ate that tasted like freezer burn). I got rid of a bunch of old old old stuff and organized everything that was left (and also took inventory for what needs to be used up!)

Then last night it was the pantry and the two other cabinets that hold food. This project took a little longer than I expected and dinner was later than any of us wanted it to be...but all my dry-food/non-perishables are organized and easily "findable".

Today it was the fridge, which ended up taking WAY longer than my lunch break and I still need to actually empty and CLEAN the drawers that hold the veggies and fruit, but everything else looks awesome and is easily found.

We (Aron, Jordan and I) will leave this Sunday and except for one day on the 16th when we collect Eric, will be gone the entire monthly of July. It would be so nice to have the house all organized and clean before we leave so that coming back won't be such a chore.

The next big project to tackle is clothes - I think it'll take a few hours at best. But I can put on Netflix and just slowly make my way through, not thinking too far ahead, one step at a time and MAYBE it'll be done by Sunday morning when we leave.

It does feel good to know I've done what I have already done.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Bad Parent Post

Mostly I'm posting this because it must be recorded. I had a bad parent moment today. Because everyone and everything ended up unharmed, I feel there is a slight comic element to this story, so I will share.

This week Aron is at Scout Camp from 8-4. Jordan has VBS from 9-noon. Eric drops off Jordan at church on his way to school and I go pick her up during my lunch break. Except for tomorrow when Jordan has a play date in the afternoon, she spends her afternoons entertaining herself either upstairs in the house or outside with the neighbors.

Today I picked up Jordan and brought her home. She is watching Toy Story 3 in the car. And it's on this weird setting where all the visual parts are narrated.. for the blind, maybe? It does mean that while I drive I can actually kind of picture what's going on. But the setting is still weird.

Anyway, she was at a point in the movie where she wanted to stay in the car and keep watching. I was very hungry and needed to get back downstairs to work, so I parked the car in the garage, turned off the ignition to "accessories" and let her watch. She asked what to do when she was done and I said turn the key toward you and pull it out. In hindsight, this was really really NOT a good move on my part.

I heated up my leftovers and took them downstairs and got to work. About 10 minutes later Jordan comes in crying so hard, I run up to see what's wrong and she sobs: The car went backwards into Roselynn's yard and I almost died.

I ran out and found the car in the middle of the street (pointing toward our driveway).

In thinking about it after my heart started beating regularly again there is really on one explanation for how this happened:

There is the SLIGHT possibility that I didn't turn the key to accessories and left it running. If that's the case then Jordan had to put the car in reverse to get it out of the garage and across to the neighbor's yard and the in either neutral or drive to get it back out to the street.

If I DID put the car in accessories mode, then she had to turn the key first before she put it into reverse.

Either way, she is a curious little girl who believes she is capable of anything, so I really should not have left her in the position to... explore.

The only evidence of the entire event is a slight tire sized line of decreased grass across the street.

What's weird is that when I was a child, I used to have nightmares where I was in a car by myself going backwards down a hill and I didn't know how to stop the car.

Anyway, I should know better.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Day Two

I think it probably goes without saying that day two of any new habit is harder than day one. Day one you are energized and geared up to start. Day two you are thinking "WHY am I doing this again?"

So today I hit the snooze once, but then got up. The kids were both still asleep and it took a good 20 minutes to get them to get out of bed.

We meditated for 6 minutes this morning and, surprisingly, they both pretty much stuck with it for the whole time.

And the rest of the morning was kind of... not fun.

But that's two days down, right? And what do they say about establishing new habits? 21 days, I think. So we've got 19 more to go.