Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cost Cutting, Grass Cutting Measures

Since the last post was about saving money and cutting costs, it should be documented that Daddy is now in charge of cutting the grass at home. He fired the lawn service and is now taking the matter into his own hands. Literally.

This is blog worthy because we are Jewish and this is unheard of- it is shocking that a Jewish husband is mowing his own lawn. Someone call the Guinness Book of Worlds Records.

It should also help that anonymous asshole commenter realize that we are taking our financial obligations to heart. Yes, we bought a groupon for family photos of our kids wearing matching outfits from Goodwill, and Yes, our son needed a scholarship to attend an overpriced school field trip. We cut our own grass, so we reap what we sow, or reap what we mow.

To make all of this happen we had to purchase a mower. So we stopped at Giant Eagle, bought some Home Depot gift cards, and used them to purchase a new Toro mower and earn fuel perks towards more $4 a gallon gasoline. Jeff researched the mower models and selected a shiny red mower with very few bells and whistles.Consumer Reports and several on line forums rated the Toro with highest marks.

We chose the bare bones version, front wheel drive, gas powered, with a 21" radius. It was the least fancy mower on display but I am sure it will get the job done. The landscape company was charging us $50 a cut, so Jeff figured if he cut our lawn himself, he would break even in less than 7 weeks.

With all the rain we have had, the dandelions are growing faster than the grass. This means that in order to have that neighborhood friendly, Home Owner Association worthy, green carpet like lawn, you have to mow twice a week, just to keep the heads off the dandelions. Jeff might just break even in less than a month!

Our plush lawn looks really great.
Unless I told the neighbors, or unless they actually saw him mowing, no one could tell it was not cut professionally. Jeff is in cost cutting, grass cutting mode over here.

I never, in a million years thought I would be married to a nice Jewish boy, that cut our lawn. Oy, Serenity Now.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Gas Prices at an all time HIGH

When my children look back to April 29, 2011 they will know that gas prices were at the all time high of my lifetime- and hopefully theirs. Who knows if these kids will even drive cars that use gasoline, but it should be noted that it cost and arm and a leg to fill up our safe, grocery getting, kid toting, sexy, Toyota Sienna minivan.

When I was the age of my kids, gas was $.39 a gallon, we rode in the backseat secured with only a weird contraption of a baby seat,

or were facing out from the cargo space of the family truckster, and there was am/fm radio and air conditioning up front, only if your parents were rich. Although Nana and Papa never smoked cigarettes, it was common practice to drive your kids around town in the family station wagon while smoking, with the windows rolled up. Nice. It was a different time, for sure!

So much has changed in the last 30 some odd years. Gone are the station wagons, baby car beds, and second hand smoke (for most kids) and here are the perks- Air bags, Dvd players, dual climate control, sliding doors, and cup holders. Kids of today are spoiled. All this advancement comes at a price.

This was the sign in front of the Giant Eagle station. When empty, our van can take up to about 20 gallons, or at these prices, $83 worth. It is crucial to our family budget that I redeem our fuel perks wisely. I earn the extra discounts through gift card purchases, pharmacy, and groceries- all things we buy there to capture the fuel perks. If you recall I have been playing this game for years, only now the dividends are serious. This week I cashed in my perks and did not even have enough for a free tank, instead I redeemed the maximum in my loyalty card, and ended up $.23 short-

so I paid a whopping $7.17 to fill up the van plus two gasoline cans in order to get all 30 gallons of gas. Such a deal.

Perhaps in the future, this post will serve as a reminder to my kids. They will reflect back to their childhood and mock me for being frugal, driving a minivan, and not using an alternative fuel vehicle-- the way I look back at the station wagons and backward facing death traps.

Trust me guys, if there was a hybrid minivan, Daddy would have bought it. Yes, you guys rode in a gasoline powered Japanese van, protected only by seat belts, boosters, air bags and the grace of G-d. It is a wonder you survived.

At $4 a gallon, you were lucky I took you anywhere!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago today, I took the biggest gamble of my life in Las Vegas. I did not split face cards, double down on 16, or even let it ride- I just showed up. On April 28, 2002 I went to Las Vegas for a blind date with Jeff Slutsky.

I have told the story before, but looking back over the details of our first date, I can't believe it was nine years ago. Six kids, two Jack Russells, a Panamanian Au Pair and a house in New Albany, ago? Holy Crap.

To celebrate this milestone anniversary, I asked Jeff to meet me at the bar at Cap City Diner at 5:30 tonight. There was no gamble on the geography this time, and since we went so freaking early, we scored happy hour pricing on our meal of appetizers. I was never a cheap date in the past, but now, as a married old woman, a $5 Bartlett Pear Long Island Iced Tea and a few half-priced appetizers later, I realized I am a cheap date NOW.

It only took Nine Years!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Good Old Fashioned Fun

Charlotte and I went on a field trip with her school. Despite the gloomy skies and horrid forecast, we went to Slate Run Historical Farm. This is a real working farm that showcases life in the late 1800's complete with all the authentic, pre-electricity ways.

It was a good old fashioned time.

We had been to Slate Run before, but I am sure Charlotte enjoyed it more with her classmates and now that she is older.

The place does not change, it is a time warp of farm life in Ohio.

The entire time I was singing in my head, "New York is where I'd rather stay. I get allergic smelling hay. I just adore a penthouse view. Dah-ling I love you but give me Park Avenue." Basic farm life is not my thing, but this was Charlotte's trip and I was just there to provide the ride. Being a parent means sucking it up and going with the flow, even if it is not your style. But, oh my gawd, the hideous calico printed dresses on the ladies made me wonder what would I have worn back then. Never one to go with a plain jane style, how would I have fancied it up? For crying out loud, Coco Chanel was not even born yet. It was freaking me out. I know I am shallow, but seriously, those frocks were beyong schmatahs.

We left the kitchen and headed to the big red barn just as the storm moved in.

We lingered with the farmers and barn animals as it poured down sheets of rain. This gave the kids a longer opportunity to enjoy the place.

I thought the dresses were hideous. It was nothing compared to the stench of the pig pen. All the rain this week just soaked the pigs, piglets, mud, urine, feces and slop and kept it all gooey and "ripe." The wind kept wafting the odor into my sinuses and at one point I had dry heaves.

Yes, I like bacon- but after being around those creatures for ten seconds, I was ready to go vegan. Charlotte said it best- "Momma, those piggies are DEEEE-SKUT-STING!"

As you can imagine, after yet more rain, the walk back toward the farmhouse was a muddy mess, but none of the children seemed to mind. We all dressed for the element knowing it was a farm field trip during a wet week in Ohio. All of the kids had the cutest rain boots. You will not see any photos of me in my garden clogs and mud crusted track suit. I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say, the calico dresses were a close second place to my ensemble. When in Rome people. No glass houses here, just keeping it real.

I embraced the good old fashioned fun, and I encouraged Charlotte to enjoy the giant puddles. It is not often that you are allowed to splash and play in muddy rain water, so this girly girl got her groove on.

In the spirit of being educational, Charlotte learned how the children of the 1890's played before televisions, video games and computers while I learned how women dressed before couture and imported fabrics.

Sometimes, the simple things are best. Some times.

It was a day full of good old fashioned fun all right.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Passover is OVER!

It is officially over. I survived another Passover. We are already gluten free, so adding more dietary restrictions is not fun. In fact, it is awful. In the spirit of enough is enough, we actually called it quits a day early.

Super Jew I am not.

Like all Jewish American families, we broke Passover by going out for pizza. I took the triplets to Z Pizza for lunch while Argenida and Charlotte were at school. They entertained themselves with the dominoes and games until our meal was ready.

If they behaved this nicely everyday I would totally home-school them. Sadly, this is a rare occasion when the moon and stars align, pigs fly, and sunshine, rainbows & leprechauns shoot out of my ass. I documented this day by taking photos of them co-existing in public

without drama, fighting, arguing and chaos. It was a Passover miracle.

CJ and Eli spent a good thirty minutes setting up and knocking down the dominoes.

This is a great activity to do in the living room of the Short North Z Pizza. In addition to gluten free pizza, this restaurant offers something stimulating and engaging for the kids- besides annoying and expensive video games. I do like going there for both of these options.

This bonding with them over their Spring Break is foreshadowing for summer, and I am actually considering getting a full time job. We need the money and letting them go to day camp would be fun for them. After this two week 24/7 love fest with my kids, I am thinking it would be a win win for all of us.

Passover and Spring Break have come to a glorious end. The customary pizza has been consumed and we are headed back to school. AMEN! Passover is officially OVER!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Five Years Ago Today

There are certain things I look forward to every year. Passover-Spring Break is not one of them, but seeing my purple tulips bloom is always a highlight of April. I planted these when we moved in, and every spring I wait patiently for them to greet me.

Five years ago today, I took pride in my photography skills. I captured my beautiful babies posed with my purple tulips.

These images were taken to document the triplets size compared to the tree and tulips. I knew that as the years went by, I could capture this moment in time and watch how the tulips stayed the same, but the kids sprouted up like the weeds surrounding my flower beds.

What a huge difference five years makes. Here are the same babies,

the same plants and a whole new attitude, tattoos and all.

The photos still showcase the beauty of it all. Here's to another five years of growing with the weeds.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Photo Umbrella

All of this rainy weather is typical of Spring in Ohio. The grey, gloomy days out number the sunny ones, and the only light at the end of the tunnel is the green grass, and enormous puddles for jumping. My children appreciate both, me.... not so much, until recently.

I created a little rainy day, on-line project that has changed my attitude about rainy days. This photo umbrella is the cure to the blah blah days with wet skies.

I have been looking forward to the down pours so I can showcase this new accessory.

I made this with the images from the groupon photo shoot with Laura Young from 2Q Studios. With the photos of my family on the fabric of the umbrella, I can now look at the smiling faces I love, while protecting myself from the elements. Stylish and Practical- the ideal kind of accessory. Win-Win!

If you need a personalized gift for mother's day, a birthday, or a new daddy/mommie/grandparent, this is your chance to WOW! You can use one photograph over and over, or if you have your own classroom of kids, you can give everyone a panel. I made this on the website ARTSCOW, and when you like them on facebook, they offer daily deals on various products. Two weeks ago these fancy photo umbrellas were special of the day. SCORE!

The pricing on Artscow includes shipping from Hong Kong, so what you see is what you get without the shock of high priced shipping charges at the end of the transaction. Also, they provide international shipping at no extra charge, so sending a precious photo gift overseas won't cost and arm and a leg. The items are shipped from Hong Kong, but still arrive quickly. You can't beat the price for such a cute product.

I have to say, this might just be the only bright shining moment in an otherwise rainy week. I'm singing in the rain, as I smile back at the faces on my umbrella.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Run Like The Wind

Just when I posted about the gloom and doom of rainy weather, the clouds parted and the sun came out for about thirty minutes. Yesterday, I mis-quoted Pharaoh and Moses so today, I am talking about the parting of the clouds during Passover. Ironic with the parting of the red sea, dontcha think?

I tuned out during Sunday School. I filed my nails and gossiped with my friends. Super Jew I am not.

However, I did have four kids and a brief window to let them soak up some sunshine and burn off the stored up energy from being indoors. I immediately packed them all up and moved them on over to the Franklin Park Conservatory.

It was time to let them run like the wind. And they did just that. I suggested they run some laps around the circle using the brick path as a track.

Nothing motivates multiples like a challenge and a little competition.

My sole goal was to exhaust these kids during Passover-Spring Break. I was seeking ways to let them have fun, get some exercise and breathe the spring air. I needed a break too, so getting them all into the great outdoors was a solution to my problem.

I suggested we run over to the other side of the park where there is a tall, grassy hill. All I had to do was mention conducting races. This was my opportunity to get them good and tired.

Up and down the hill, each time with a different twist on the contest. Up and down that hill, baby!

I can now add Physical Education Instructor to my Mommie resume.

As the kids ran to the next adventure, I took my time enjoying the peaceful park atmosphere. We managed to spend time

climbing the rocks that surround the bridge. The kids built an imaginary fort underneath and they formed some exclusive club. I sat within ear shot and enjoyed the creative play. This is a great age- I can just take them to the park and they will entertain themselves.

Of course we took time to smell the flowers
on the way back to the parking lot. All four triplets were dragging ass back to the van. Mission accomplished.

Run like the wind- is music to my ears!

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