Saturday, July 31, 2010

Best Day

This summer, I've been babysitting for some awesome kids.  The two boys are twins (I taught one of them in Kindergarten and 1st grade) and their older sister is going into 8th grade.  I'm usually at their house 3 days a week from 9-5.  It's easy money and is paying for our insane car repair bills.

[You may remember that my car cost us about $260--not terrible.  Matt put his car in the garage for several things and his was $650.'s a good thing I had this babysitting job!!  We should have a little left over by the end of the summer.]

Anyway, our normal day includes swim practice in the morning; lunch; then off to another teacher's house so the boys can continue a reading program they're in.  After all that the day is pretty much over--we only have a little bit of time to play or just relax.  It's fun, but there's not much time to go somewhere and do something different.

 Yesterday, however, was an awesome day.  Swim team is over for the year and we had already been to the reading teacher twice that week.  We had the whole day to do whatever we wanted!  They've asked several times what my apartment looks like, so we headed over to my place so they could see it.  They were very impressed--we had a lighthouse in the living room, ship models, Lego cars, guitars, plants, and even a shoe rack!!  Wow!!

They were also interested in meeting my husband, Matt.  Unfortunately, he had already left for work.  Luckily for them, though, he works at...the Lego store!  After getting them to understand we weren't buying anything, we drove over to the store to say "hi" and look at Legos.  I parked next to Matt's car.  One of them commented, "Wow!!  He has a race car!"  Why did they think his Mazda 6 was a race car?  "It has one of those things [spoiler] on the back!"

When entering the mall, they have a large collection of those candy dispensers in the center of the hallway.  "Look at this candy!!  [dancing around it]  They have everything here!!"

We spent about half an hour looking at everything.  There was a 30 second Lego video that repeated over and over again that they watched about 12 times.  ["Just one more time..."]  I finally managed to get them out of the store by telling them we wouldn't have time for the park otherwise.

We drove down to the park and spent some time walking along the river and looking at the old prison/workhouse on the grounds.  Have you tried explaining women's suffrage to a 7 year old?  I did.

Lunch was next on the agenda, so we drove back to their house.  We ate a quick PB&J lunch, then piled back in the car to head to the library.  We checked out a bunch of books (including "Walter the Farting Dog"), then drove to another park.

This was an awesome park.  They had a playground, lake, kiddie train ride, ice cream parlor, and a merry-go-round!  We rode the train and got ice cream.  The day was perfect--no rain, no 100 degree temperatures--so it was nice being outside.

While we were driving back home from the park, one of the boys told me that when their daddy first saw their mommy, "He wuved her so much!"

Once we were home, we read some of the library books and they played Monopoly until their mom got home.  We also saw THREE bucks in their backyard!  What a great day!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Grocery Store

After reading several blogs about it, I decided to try out Aldi, a low cost grocery store.  They cut prices in various ways so you get good deals; like not bagging your groceries, having you return your own cart, stocking off-brand items, etc.  They claim you can do 50-90% of your regular shopping there and cut your grocery bills down. 

I went this morning and bought the following items:

4 plums
2 green peppers
3 tomatoes
shredded cheese
milk ($2.29 for a gallon!!)
sour cream
4 yogurts
ground turkey
2 packs of chicken breasts
ice cream
hamburger buns
sandwich bread
deli meat
tomato sauce
tomato paste
green beans

My total was....$39.45!  I didn't get everything on my grocery list, but compared to what I would have spent at Safeway for the same items, that's a pretty good deal.  And, if I don't like something I bought, I can take it back and return it, get my money back and get a free replacement.

I like good deals.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


We have had so much fun in sunny Florida the past five days!  Our time here is coming to an end, so I thought I would update you as to all we've done.

We drove down on Thursday, June 8th--Woodbridge, Virginia to Sarasota, Florida.  We got up at 5:30 a.m. and left the parking lot at 6:00.  We drove in 4 hour shifts, with a couple stops for food, gas, and bathroom breaks.  We managed to drive all 935.44 miles in 14 hours and 45 minutes!  We hit NO traffic, NO delays, and surprisingly, we DID NOT get lost!!!  Despite our amazing drive, I was exhausted by the time we got to the apartment we're staying in.  We dragged our stuff in and went to bed around 10:00 p.m.

Part of what is making this trip possible, is the FREE accommodations!  My grandmother owns an apartment in Sarasota that she rents out during the winter months.  Most people aren't coming to Florida in the summer to stay long-term, so she's letting us stay in the apartment free of charge for the 5 days we're here.  It has a large bedroom, two nice bathrooms, a cute kitchen, and a good-sized living room.  It's been so comfortable and a real treat to get to stay here instead of paying $500+ for a hotel!

The next morning we were able to get up, have a leisurely breakfast, and take our time getting ready.  We made a quick stop at a nearby Publix to pick up some food stuffs, then went home to eat lunch and take a nap!  I love vacations.

My grandmother lives in a retirement home just north of Sarasota, so we went over to visit her mid-afternoon.  She showed us around the complex (which is amazingly nice!) and we had dinner in one of their dinning rooms.  I haven't seen Gram since 2006 (4 years ago), so it was wonderful getting to spend time with her again.  She's also never met Matt and I was glad to introduce him!

The next day, Saturday, we went to one of my favorite Florida places:  the flea market!!  I didn't buy anything besides lunch, but it's fun walking through the long halls and seeing what the vendors have out.  We almost bought two cute puppies that were for sale...but then thought that a 12 hour car ride probably wouldn't be best for them.

We returned to the apartment and looked up a place to eat for dinner.  The Lobster Pot was down near the beach, so we decided to eat before heading to the beach for an evening walk.  It had been a hot day, but by the time we got to the beach, the weather was perfect.  We walked about a mile down the beach before turning around, enjoying the surf washing over our feet.  There were some fun shells, a snail, and a sand dollar!  It still looked like this when we found it:

But we put it in a bowl with water and bleach once we got home and now it looks like this:

Hopefully we can frame it or put it up in our bedroom somewhere :-)

Sunday we got up and drove up to Tampa (about an hour north) to visit Matt's parents and his aunt and uncle.  His parents were in town for part of his mom's class requirements (she's getting her PhD) and his aunt and uncle live in St. Pete.  We had lunch and caught up a bit.  I was tired by mid-afternoon--my allergies were acting up and just wore me out.  We relaxed awhile when we got back to Sarasota and then ate at a Mexican restaurant for dinner.  We swam in the apartment pool that evening and began considering moving to Florida.

On Monday we drove down to the Mote Marina on the Sarasota Bay.  We signed up for a Bay excursion, which took you out on a boat with a marine biologist.  They told us about some of the fancy houses on the Bay (there's one on sale for $7 mil....) and about the wildlife in the area.  We saw several dolphins and lots of birds.  There was a spoonbill bird on one of the islands which is apparently rare to see in Florida.  The biologist said only about 900 nesting pairs are in the area.

Lots of pelicans!

They took us to a man made island in the Bay and we were able to get off the boat to look around.

At the end of the boat tour, they threw a net overboard to collect some marine specimens for us to see.  They caught several types of fish, a baby crab, some sponges, and a sea star.

The Mote Marina also has an aquarium with fish, sharks, and a giant squid specimen!  It was a fun place to look around.

After we finished looking around the aquarium, we drove down to the beach.  It was fun playing in the surf, splashing in the waves, and sitting in the sun.  I'm not much of a beach person, but it was a nice afternoon.  For dinner we used our Ruth's Chris anniversary present from my mom and dad!  So delicious.  My steak melted in my mouth, which is exactly what it should have done ;-)

Our last day in Florida was Tuesday.  We spent a few more hours over lunch with my Grandma, then spent the afternoon packing and cleaning up the apartment.  We were sad to go--the time went by fast!

Wednesday morning we were up bright and early to jump in the car again and drive to Dublin, Virginia--"only" 12.5 hours (instead of 15!).  We had a pretty good drive, only hitting some traffic near Charlotte, North Carolina.

We're pretty tired, so we're taking it easy today.  I'll update more later.  Have a good one :)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Packing and folding and cleaning and prepping....

Matt and I are driving down to Florida on Thursday. 

We are excited.



Before we can enjoy Florida sand and sun (and Grandmas) I have to get us ready for it.  We'll need clothes and a cooler full of food.  I have to get my car serviced.  I have to run to the grocery store, probably a CVS, and a couple other places.  I have to clean the apartment so it's not stinky when we return. 

Yesterday I started this whole process.  I went to BJs to grab a couple items (it was pretty close to being 100 degrees outside).  I did three loads of laundry and folded/ironed probably about half (or more) of our total clothes collection.  When Matt got home from work, we took my car up to the garage to get the oil changed and to have a couple things looked at.  [The guy called me about 20 minutes ago to give me an estimate....$260.  They have to replace some belt that was "crapped out" (as he put it) and probably some other stuff like a Johnson rod or something...].

Anyway,  I've got my whole list printed out and I'm loving the part where I get to cross things off that have been completed.  Lots more to do...