Freecycle Finds

Yesterday I got a food dehydrator still in the box, in great shape, with the manuals and today we’re picking up a gas BBQ grill.  Have I convinced you yet that Freecycle is completely awesome and worth joining?  Think Craigslist, but everything is FREE!

Previous freecycle finds: 3 bookshelves for the garage, tons and tons and tons of kids’ clothes, a train table with rolling storage drawers underneath, pots and pans, moving boxes, and a ton of other stuff we’ve been able to get rid of by passing it on to someone else. 

I’ve been Freecycling for a few years now and love it!  And it helps that hubby has a truck so we can pick up the bigger stuff, but a truck isn’t necessary.

We’re Moving!

There, I said it. 

Yes, we’re moving out of the ward (I know, that’s like an unpardonable sin, please forgive us and bring us boxes to help in our adventure after you recover from the shock).

No, we are not walking away from our house (Mike would find that to be unethical and unpardonable).  We will rent out our current house so if you know any families who are looking, send them our way!

Yes, we’re staying in Vegas.  We are moving closer to family back over to the west side of town.  Hey, this is free for all to see so talk to me in person if you want to know where.  And if you have a boat, then you’ll want to come visit us =o)

Um, we are, well, really pregnant ME, is hoping and praying we can move before the baby comes (June 15), because it would be so much more enjoyable to move before a C-section than after.  So here’s to hoping the new stuff in the new house can get done before Memorial Day so we can move at the end of May. 

And seriously, feel free to drop by with boxes!  I’ve already gotten 2 loads from Freecycle, but I can tell already that we will be through those in no time!  And I just don’t have the energy or motivation to get to the store as much as I used to, but I know from helping previous people move that grocery store boxes make great moving boxes! 

In other news, I’ve added some posts to my blog.  We’ve got Christmas through February now taken care of =o)

The Ant and the Grasshopper (2010 version)

OLD  VERSION:

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away…

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

   The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

 MORAL OF THE STORY: 

Be responsible for yourself!

MODERN VERSION

The  ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast…

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green .’

Acorn stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, ‘We shall overcome.’

Rev. Jeremiah Wright then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper’s sake.

President Obama condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper’s plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.

The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and once peaceful, neighborhood…

The entire Nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.
           

MORAL  OF THE STORY:

            Be careful how you vote.

Giddy Giddy Giddy

Smith’s is having case lot sales!  Get out of my way!  I’m on a mission to stock up my pantry and my new Shelf Reliance food rotation shelf.  So happy!

Harmon’s up in St. George is also having case lot sales through the entire month.  They have food buckets, bucket openers, bread making supplies, and food in #10 cans, in addition to the regular case lots.

Usually these sales are closer to March and September, but I’m excited to get stocked up in January and then see how long it all lasts. 

PS- That kiddie sized grocery cart was found in the Smith’s grocery store in Price, UT.  Mikey was just as much a part of shopping the case lots as I was =o)

Happy shopping!

June Events

Solar Oven Cooking- So Mike is getting pretty savvy with cooking in his solar oven.  I finally took pictures of the whole process to show how easy it is to use.  Basically you set it outside on a flat surface (or desert landscaping as in our case) facing the sun and set up the silver reflector thingies.  Those flaps are similar to flaps on a cardboard box so if you can open a box, you can set up a solar oven.  Wait a while and then go and check the temp on the thermostat that’s inside the solar oven.  When it’s hot (and it doesn’t take long) then use oven mitts to open the glass top lid and put your pot of food on the little swing inside the oven.  Go and check like every 1/2 hour to poke food and see if it’s done and also to rotate your oven since the sun moves and your box may be in the shade. 

We’ve done things backwards in that we’ve only cooked meats in our oven.  It’s sooooo juicy and delicious.  Even something as common as  a hotdog takes on a whole new flavor when cooked in the sun oven.  We think meat is much better tasting after cooking in our solar oven.  Most people start with bread or water to try out the oven.  Here’s some great recipesfor cooking with a solar oven.  Maybe we should have a BBQ without the grill and make hot dogs in our solar oven.

Joshy Milestones- We’re growing by leaps and bounds and walking!  Josh took his first steps at 15 months while Mike and Mikey were in St. George visiting Grandma. What was interesting is that he didn’t take 2 steps and fall down.  He walked across the family room from the tv to the couch and then preceded to walk from 1 piece of furniture to the next.  My sis-in-law the kid expert (or so we all believe) said that kids who hit milestones “later” tend to do better at them.  In this case, taking lots of steps before falling down and having hardly any time between learning to walk and then taking off and running.  Another biggy is that he is weaned. Freedom!!  Not too bad when all was said and done, but getting to that point sure seemed like forever.  He’s still pretty small (3rd percentile) and hasn’t hit the magic 20 lb mark yet so we’ll wait until his 18 month appt. to turn his carseat forward facing.  He doesn’t seem to mind facing backward since he can see and play with Mikey pretty well while we’re driving.

Staycation- One of the vendors Mike’s company uses had a customer appreciation event way in the middle of no where, seriously!  We packed up the car and headed north to Apex then west past Coyote Springs.  Discount Dumpsters is a family owned and operated business which has a ranch, landfill, man made lake, airplane runway, and animals all out there for family and friends to enjoy.  They had a BBQ, landfill tours, and lots of excitement in such an unusual setting.  We had a blast and would love to get to know these people better.

Being the house hunters we are, we couldn’t help ourselves being that close to Coyote Springs to go exploring. There’s just a golf course so far.

Deals for Dummies

So I ventured to Target this evening in hopes of finding another Leap Frog Tag Reading System for Josh and some other stuff and only got half of what was on my list.  I ended up buying 50 items and getting my $112 total down to $22.93!  I used 63 coupons!!  I think that’s a record!  I’d post a picture, but remember, the old laptop is out of service, the new laptop was returned for having a bad CD rom, and now my pc hard drive upstairs is going out too!

Here’s a little of how I work my coupon magic:

Tag Reading System on clearance for $29.99, but rang up $19.98 at check out.  I used a $10 off manufacturer coupon I printed off from their website AND a $5 off Target coupon for a Tag product.  This is called STACKING - when you use a manufacturer coupon + a store coupon for the same item. You can do this at grocery stores too!

Nextcare Bandaids (8 count) were on clearance for 68 cents.  I printed off  a bunch of $1.00 off coupons from their website that didn’t specify a size, so buy the smallest size to save the most amount of money (usually found in the travel/ trial sized section).  But Amanda, your coupon is more than the value of the product. This is called OVERAGE. That extra 22 cents went to pay down something else and make my overall bill lower.  Always make sure you have a FILLER- an item to make up the price difference.  I bought way more stuff than 22 cents worth so my overall total went down so I didn’t worry too much. Note: some stores will adjust down the price of the coupon to match the value of the item if the item is cheaper than the amount on the coupon. 

My total purchase was over $50 so the first coupon I used was a store coupon for $5 off a $50 dollar purchase.  Use these kinds of money off coupons first since your total is at its highest, then use your other coupons.  If you do it in reverse, then your total will be too low and you won’t get that free extra $5.00 off your purchase.  Make the free money work for you!

Here’s a list of what I bought:

Tag Reading System, 2 Aveeno baby washes, 2 Johnson and Johnson Buddy Wash Soap Bars, 3 Johnson and Johnson lotions/ baby washes, 6 paper towel rolls, 3 single toilet papers, 3 deodorants, 8 boxes of Kudos granola bars, 8 boxes of Pop tarts, 2 boxes of Kelloggs Yogos fruit snacks, 8 Nextcare bandaids, 4 packs of Bic pens, 1 box of Kotex pantyliners.

The free stuff I get (usually health and beauty items in the travel sizes) are great for overnight trips and also for storing in my backpack  that’s a 72 hour kit.  If there was ever an emergency I want to grab and go with my shampoo and stuff.  That’s a post for another time. Just think Hurricane Katrina!  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bag to grab that already has your necessities in case you have to flee immediately?

Also, I’m always donating food to people and food drives and things like that.  Buying 8 boxes of Pop Tarts may seem excessive, but when 1 box cost me way less than $1.00 then I don’t feel so bad giving them away.  I also am a proponent of food storage.  There’s nothing more irritating to me than going to my cupboard and being out of an item.  (I did have to run to Smith’s twice last night for this very reason).  So, when things go on sale, I use coupons on top of these sales and stock up!  Think Hurricane Katrina again.  Stranded in your house with help no where close.  If you’ve got some comfort foods and regular everyday foods stocked up, you could easily survive a disaster.  Oh yeah, and non food items are important too!  Let’s not get stuck without toilet paper, diapers, wipes, or trashbags! 

Well there’s some info to let you think about. Any questions?  And just a heads up that Smith’s is having their caselot sales the 2nd week in September, yay!

Wish Me Luck

Tomorrow I go and take my technician’s test to get a ham radio license!  Hubby’s been taking the free 3 hour classes that ran for 6 weeks and thought it would be a grand idea to have me take the test too!  Do you hear the excitement in my blogging voice? NO? Well there is none, but sometimes you just have to do something nice for someone else, because it will make their day. So I’m doing it all for my dear hubby, because I love him.  And hey, we’ll both have some experience when it comes to emergency communication in times of disaster.  Feel free to call us emergency preparedness geeks =o)

 I’ve had a week to study 300 questions and I’ve honestly only studied 1/2 of what I’m supposed to.  I’ve been taking online practice exams and I have been passing them the past few nights so I’m not too worried.  I will admit 1 thing that’s cool: once I pass the test and become an official “ham” then I have permission to transmit and talk to astronauts at the space station!  I don’t even know if there are astronauts on the space station right now, but the idea sure sounds cool to talk to them! 

I guess before I get all my hopes up, and those of dear hubby, I should get back to studying and pray for miracles tomorrow.  I’m relying on my great memorization skills like associations, linking, pneumonic devices, and acronyms.  I’ve got some pretty creative ways of keeping my test questions and their correct multiple choice answer selections all organized.  It makes sense to me and that’s all that matters.  Come 1 pm tomorrow I can throw it all out and erase it from my memory.  So here’s to becoming an amateur radio operator!

Update: I passed and only missed 3 questions, yay!  I think I’ll apply to get a vanity call sign with x’s and o’s to celebrate.

April in Review

I kind of think I should just unload my camera’s pics at the end of the month and then blog a recap of important events to go along with the select few pictures.  Sounds easy and organized in my mind at least!

Well, let’s start where we still remember what was happening:

Anniversary- Mike and I have been married for a mere 5 years.  All is well in the Cox House of Fun.  We spend more time apart than together, but nightschool ends soon and I definitely have more time with my new calling.  Do we argue and disagree?  Of course, but when it comes down to it, we love eachother and have only knocked out 5 years of an eternity.  We are so in this for the long run.  Love you babe!  And since the “traditional” gift for a 5 year anniversary is wood, Mike was creative and got me a gift card to Home Depot knowing I would buy my materials to make my square foot garden boxes.  He also got me a gift card to Michael’s craft store to maybe buy some wood craft project and a gift card to Old Navy to buy something to wear that’s not wood!?!  Combine that with my $45 dollar off coupon and you’ve got a great deal to go shopping!  I love creative thinking for presents outside of the box- ha ha, no pun intended

Daddy's Little Helper
Daddy’s Little Helper

 

Boys Hard at Work
Boys Hard at Work

 

Square Foot Garden Box #1
Square Foot Garden Box #1

Easter: We have a tradition to invite Mike’s ATech HS friends and their kids over for an potluck picnic and Easter egg hunt at the park behind our house.  This was our 3rd annual Easter Eggstravaganza and we opened it up to our neighborhood group and church friends and had a record 45 people!  I didn’t even say hi to everyone, because I was making sure the food table was well stocked, but everyone ate, kids got to hunt for eggs, and then they all left!  Worked out great in my opinion =o)

Lightning McQueen Easter Basket
Lightning McQueen Easter Basket Josh and the Fox Family
Walking on the Wall

Walking on the Wall

The next day (real Easter Sunday) we went to the Lee’s who are in our ward and our kids and us adults have become really great friends.  We made homemade pizza and had a great Easter egg hunt.  Nice laid back time for all to enjoy.
My 3 Boys

My 3 Boys

 

Sharing the Loot

Sharing the Loot

Maddy, Joshy, Mikey, Rachel

Maddy, Joshy, Mikey, Rachel

 

My 1st Homemade Pizza

My 1st Homemade Pizza

Ta Da

Ta Da

 

Hidden Eggs in the Playhouse

Hidden Eggs in the Playhouse

New Calling: On Easter Eve I had a thought pop in my mind before I went to bed that the new RS presidency would be called the next day.  I bawled like a baby.  I have never had such an intense calling that pushed me to my limits, out of my comfort zone, and really made me question my beliefs and testimony.  Nothing can prepare you for a calling like that (in the RS presidency) more than going to the temple and being assured that you are doing this all for Heavenly Father and that He will provide a way and means for you to handle your calling, family, and other obligations.  I have never experienced such excruciating headaches than those on a Sunday afternoon, but I have never been able to say that I know a name and face of more than 75% of the sisters in my ward personally either.  I loved my calling, especially getting out and really getting to know the sisters.  There were struggles- food orders, a never ending revolving door of move ins and move outs like no other, and the occassional overscheduling of meetings on a school night, but I loved it.  I made up the rest of the diaper cakes (Mikey attempted to help) and was so excited to clear out my binders, manuals, and other RS things getting passed on to the new couselor which made some space in my house for food storage- yay!

My new calling is a Primary worker specifically in the nursery.  I’ll admit that I was a bit resentful at first since I would go from knowing everything about events and happenings in RS to knowing nothing since my 2 hours of the block would now be spent with 18-36month olds. But thanks to a wonderful Bishop who gave me a blessing, I can now rest assured that this is where I am supposed to be. All my worries and doubts have faded away and I honestly look forward to my huge classroom with 12 little kiddos ready and eager to learn of Jesus. The Lord needs me at this time to help foster the bity testimonies of His little ones.  I love a challenge and this is for sure a challenge!  So far I’ve relied on my college degree to help me in this area, but more importantly I’ve relied on the Lord.  That’s an important lesson right there!  I’m ready and anxious and seriously want to teach these kids to read!  I’ve got the 1st hour down as far as books and singing songs and now we just need some fine tuning to the second hour to make this little ship run smooth.  I am 1 of 3 teachers in this class actually so the extra help with crowd control really works wonders, thankgoodness for that!  This coming Sunday will be my 3rd time in there and it gets better (less behavior problems) each and every time!  Another important lesson is to take the initiative to still do the things you did before as far as reaching out to other sisters to make them feel welcomed to the ward.  And knowing about the RS activities might be a bit more difficult, but I still do what I can to find out and attend and do my part.  I am enjoying my Sunday calling and while I do miss my RS calling at times, I do know that it’s someone else’s turn to shine and serve the Lord to improve the education in RS at this time.  It’s someone else’s turn for serving and dealing with everyone else’s issues!

Mikey's Creative Touch
Mikey’s Creative Touch

 

Diaper Cakes Galore

Diaper Cakes GaloreYum Strawberry Group Order

 

Murder Mystery Dinner: Did you know that the Hotel at Mt. Charleston is super cheap and is starting to offer discounts and fun events to Las Vegas locals?  Well Mike is director of IT (fancy name for being their computer fix it guy) for the company who owns and runs the place and he came across their deal to attend a Murder Mystery Dinner up there.  Add on the employee discount, invite the Lee’s to come along for the fun, get a room for the Stevensons so they could babysit the kiddos for 2 hours, get all fancied up for a real date without kiddos in tow and you’ve got yourself a really nice grown up party! 

We were told shirt and tie, but apparently our idea of formal dress and the rest of the guests ideas were way off!  Oh well!  We were the best dressed couples that evening and had fun socializing with strangers and figuring out if Cougar the golf star, London the rich movie star, the cupcake baker, or the recently unemployeed lawyer did it in the ballroom with the snow globe!  None of us won, but we had fun trying!  Oh, and Mikey got sick on the way up and puked all over my car!   And then it happened in the middle of the night on the comforter, but at least he was in his own bed at the hotel and not sleeping between us.  I don’t handle vomit very well, but this poor sick kid I think has gotten me over being afraid of puke- I didn’t have a choice really!

The Sitters-Working for Food (and a Free Room)

The Sitters-Working for Food (and a Free Room)

My Hot Date!

My Hot Date!

 

The Bar- 21 and Older

The Bar- 21 and Older

The Morning After

The Morning After

Little Cheifs

Little Cheifs

Rum Tum Tum Banging on Our Drums

Rum Tum Tum Banging on Our Drums

 

Whew!  That’s a bunch in April, but I think I’m on to something doing this unload pics and blog all at once!  Stay tuned for more!

Some Unfinished Projects, Finally Finsihed!

So my mom was in town last week so I recruited her to help me finish some unfinished projects so I could check them off my list. 

We spray painted a little entry table black and converted it into a work station downstairs.  The laptop sits on it now and the idea is to work at this little desk and file receipts into the file bin.

Thanks Lees for a real picture that isn’t churchy or of our family.  Such a nice peice of art work.  It matches our front room AKA the home teaching room since it’s all formal and as far in as the home teachers get!

We found some curtains in the clearance aisle in WalMart which saved us having to sew a curtain to go under the baker’s rack to hide the food storage buckets.  The spring tension rod was purchased the day before at Big Lots just for this project.

I finally sewed around the edges of the little characters on my dish towels so they wouldn’t peel off in the washer.

And I got a pair of jeans patched up and back into wearable condition. 

Oh yeah, it’s March so my mom and I marched right in to Mike’s office and took everything out.  We rotated his desk and he really likes it.  Now to go through all the stuff and put it back in or trash it or file it or…..

Oh it’s good to have some outside help to give fresh ideas and be excited to help with projects.