An Escaped Cat and Other Moving Adventures

By on June 8, 2017

I’m writing this in our new town in Kentucky! We moved last Friday and are settling in little by little. No Internet is set up at the new casa yet, so I had to come to a coffee shop to use their WiFi. (I’m not complaining…Mr. COD took Jr and Mini to a park and I’m soaking up the tranquility!) 

Bonus points if you can identify this coffee shop!

MOVING HELPERS

I still need to be rather quick with this, but wanted to update y’all on our progress. We left our home in Illinois on June 1st and closed on the new house in Kentucky on the 2nd. We utilized tons of help from friends, family, and neighbors throughout the process. My mom made the trip to our place three times in the final month in IL, and having her there for a couple of days at a time allowed me some precious packing, painting, and errand time. The last day in Illinois, I had three different local friends come over to entertain the boys at staggered times throughout the day. They were awesome, allowing me to continue packing, cleaning, going out for more storage bins, and all that fun stuff that accompanies a move. 

My amazing sister-in-law and her family showed up the night before the move. They had to drive four-plus hours from their home in Iowa to help us pack the truck, then do the entire long 7-8 hour trip to Kentucky the next day. They and their two kids were SUCH a huge blessing during the move! Ty, my nephew, mowed the lawn at the old house so it would look nicer for prospective buyers. Trista, my niece, kept an eye on the little guys for much of the time. Everyone pitched in to carry boxes, load up the monster moving truck, and finish up all those last-minute tasks we forget about until it’s time to go. 

We had (naively) hoped to be on the road by 10 AM, and of course we weren’t ready until 1:30 in the afternoon. Mr. COD and my brother-in-law, Jimmy, were especially beat from doing the bulk of the physical lifting and loading for hours on end. Then, we began getting the three felines into their carriers for the long trip. Sadie and Sasha went with minimal complaint, but then Kimchi was another story. 

AN ESCAPED CAT

Kimchi, cat number three, decided to pull a Houdini on us at the final loading time. We COULD NOT FIND HER. Keep in mind, our house was nearly completely empty by this point (except three or four furniture items we just couldn’t quite fit in the vehicles and can do without until the house sells). So you would think that finding one cat in a virtually empty house would be a pretty simple task. NOPE. She had just disappeared. 

Long story short, we had to leave without her. I know, I know! It sounds absolutely terrible. But we were already way behind schedule, were going to lose an hour on the drive, and had to close on our new house at 10 the following morning. So, we told ourselves that she must have gotten out during the moving hullaballoo, she still had all her claws, and she’d survive on her own. I texted our pet-loving neighbor two doors down to alert her to keep an eye out for our cat, and we set out on our way. Along the way, she called Mr. COD and I to let us know that escaped cat Kimchi was fine, but still IN the house! Fortunately, they got in using our old backup key hidden outdoors and brought her to live in their basement temporarily. (We’ll have to go back and retrieve the little escape artist in the next few weeks.) 

VARIOUS CRITTERS

Several large bugs and creatures showed up in the moving process. During our final walk-through of the house before closing, we found two dead birds. A third one appeared later on, when we moved the piano that came with the house. (Yay! Free piano!)

I encountered a nice wolf spider in the downstairs shower. Then, while fixing the A/C, my brother-in-law and Mr. COD met a spider they claim was four times that size! Ewwww. SOOO GLAD that I did not have to witness the thing! Jimmy had nightmares and trouble sleeping that night because of it. Teresa, my SIL, refused to go downstairs after she heard about it. 

Since then, no enormous insects have made their appearance. We do have a lot of dead bugs in the windows and corners, since the house was sitting empty for three months before we moved in. Now, the only bugs we’re really hanging out with are the variety that Junior and Mini COD are collecting on the porch and in the yard. They’re having a blast. 

inspecting lightning bugs with cousin Trista

Space to roam!

BIG PURCHASES

Unfortunately, a new house tends to require a few purchases. This one did not come equipped with a washer and dryer, so that was high on our list to get in there as soon as possible. We’d hoped to find a used one in the area, but nothing showed up, so to Lowe’s we went. In addition to the washer/dryer set, we pretty much had to get a big ol’ tractor-like mower for our ginormous yard. It’s about 1.25 acres and quite sloped, so a bigger mower is paramount. We found a marked-down one that Mr. COD approved of at Lowe’s. All three big items will be delivered next week! 

shopping helpers

Internet will cost quite a bit more as we’re somewhat rural now. We’ve definitely been missing our unlimited internet since getting into the house. We do have quite a few movies downloaded on Mr. COD’s laptop, so we’ve watched a movie a day during downtime. However, the plus side is that the boys have adjusted to less screen time. They have so much more space to run around now, both in the house and outdoors, so they’re not getting nearly as bored as they used to. 

Enjoying the playground in town!

I hope to update more on the blog once we have Internet again! What are you all up to this summer?

 


Frugality Report: October

By on November 3, 2017

Here’s our monthly Frugality Report! Yeah, I haven’t done one of these since last winter… oops! Let’s get back into the swing of things and talk about ways the COD crew saved money and spent money in October. 

Frugality Flops


Car
. Well, we bought a new-to-us car this month. I’ll get into why we deemed it more of a frugal win later, but for now, it’s still more expensive than not buying one! 

Credit Card. We paid for the car with plastic. Ugh. It was stupid and lazy, to pay via credit card when the bank was just across town. We could have gotten the cash on the spot, but chose to go the other route. Oh well, at least it’s paid in full, so there’s no car payment and no interest!

Fees. Our old credit card, which neither of us use anymore, comes with a lovely fee that was due this month. I forgot all about that card (it’s a travel rewards card), and when I saw the monthly statement, it was a “D’oh!” moment for sure. Wish we’d closed that account, since we never even use it. 

FRUGAL HIGHFIVES

Food. We made some terrific meals at home this month! We only went out for one fast-food dinner and a few donuts here and there. I’m personally super happy that ’tis the season for casseroles and toasty warm soups, so I’ve been pulling out my old stand-bys. I’m also getting pretty good at my fave artisan bread recipe! So easy and can’t even compare with store-bought bread! 

Furniture. After our move to Kentucky, we debated about purchasing a new bedroom furniture set. You know, just to feel a bit more grown-up and settled. Sometimes when your home is furnished with all hand-me-downs, it can feel a little weird. We didn’t necessarily have what we would’ve picked, but what our relatives and friends were getting rid of. So we eyed and admired some matching sets online and in stores for a brief time.

However, we ended up eschewing a new bedroom set because my parents are working on downsizing. Their house contains a good deal of furniture which they had kindly offered us. Hence, we finally accepted the furniture offer since my old bedroom has a perfectly good set of items. 

When in-laws COD visited earlier in October, they brought the first of two dressers for us. I can at last put away my clothes properly, rather than in a cheapo storage cubby on the closet floor. (Big ol’ spiders gravitate towards those piles of exposed clothing, so that wasn’t an ideal situation!)

So now, we’ll keep bringing those pieces from Mrs. COD’s old room as we visit. They all match, and they belonged to my grandma, who took meticulous care of her things. Eventually, I’d love to paint and refinish the entire set, but for now, we’re happy to have saved at least a few hundred dollars by not buying new! My clothes are much happier, too. 

Car. The new vehicle was a good deal (under $7K) for us, and our previous van had been pretty close to its last legs. We’re enjoying a little bit nicer drive and the mileage is comparable to what we got in the van. We also traded in the old vehicle and used a recent gift to help cover the difference, so we still have no car payment! Getting rid of monthly payments for stuff such as vehicles and student loans has been HUGE in changing our financial trajectory. There is no way I would be able to take a three-year sabbatical from teaching to raise the kids if we were still tied to so many monthly payment obligations. 

Halloween fun for the munchkins! I will put this in the win column. I bought new costumes from Wal-Mart because I am NOT crafty. Not one bit. I know there are plenty of DIY Halloween costume ideas on Pinterest, but I just decided to know and accept myself and not even bother. 

Each costume was $15 and the boys wore them almost non-stop for the week prior to Halloween. (They are still sporting them at this very moment, in fact.) Masks were included along with the suits. I doubt I could have made costumes for less than $30 anyway, and thrift stores are so hit-or-miss, I doubted I’d find anything the boys would like in the right sizes. Going store-bought saved me a ton of headaches and lost sleep! Hats off to my friends who make their kids’ costumes year after year (looking at you, April with the Trolls outfits), but that’s just not me! Sometimes DIY isn’t worth the hassle! 

Superheroes!

*Bonus: now that we live rurally, we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters ringing our doorbell. That means no need to buy bags of candy to pass out! I figured that comes close to balancing out the cost of costumes!

How about you all? What are some of your frugal wins this past month? 

Eliminate Choice, Change The Habit

By on October 11, 2017

Oftentimes we find ourselves able to make real and lasting change if we eliminate choice. Stop considering it optional to work out every morning, for example. Take away the choice of getting takeout food if aiming to eat healthier and more frugally. Don’t go shopping for anything but necessities. Eliminating choice is a powerful tool in our arsenal for positive change.

I’m one of those people who can’t do things in moderation (except for alcohol; half a glass of wine is plenty). I can’t eat just one cookie or watch only one episode of Fixer Upper. Nope, gimme eight cookies and marathon sessions on Netflix. Hence, for me, it’s best to take choice out or the picture when it comes to habits I desire to change. Otherwise, I take a mile when I intended to stop at an inch.  (more…)


New Home Cons

By on September 6, 2017

A couple of months ago, I blogged about some of the fantastic things we LOVE about our new house and town. Mr. COD and I feel so fortunate to be in the place we are right now in career, location, and life in general. He’s begun his new assistant professor duties and is feeling very positive about it all, and Junior COD just started preschool today! Lots of good stuff all around! 

Junior COD meets the class fish, Mr. Blue

exploring the nature preserve in Frankfort

HOWEVER.

Naturally, no situation is perfect! We certainly have found a few negatives in our new house and region, so to honestly document our journey of changing our default, we must admit the bad along with the good. Without further ado, I present:

NEW HOME CONS 

  • Our rural road is slightly dangerous. We’re just about one mile off a main highway into town, but that one mile is fraught with several risky corners where it’s BARELY wide enough to fit two vehicles passing one another. We’ve also noticed that other drivers on this road seem to drive recklessly. Hence, we do have to be on alert when traversing the area. 
  • Along those same lines, it’s not a great location for me as a runner. While I like that traffic is light, I don’t love the blind corners or the crazy, STEEP hills! I run on my own once in awhile, but it’s tough. Dangerous and hard on my wimpy Illinois muscles!  

    This hill is 0.8 miles from our house. It’s INSANE.

  • The rural area, of course, means limited options for Internet hookup. Our neighbor across the street informed us on our moving day that no matter who you go with around here, service can be slow. Plus, she uses AT&T, but when Mr. COD contacted them, we found that our home (just across the road) was out of their service area. Hence, we have HughesNet and it’s costing us a bit more than before. 
  • You’ve already heard about us meeting a plethora of creepy, crawly critters in our new abode. A large majority of these were prior inhabitants of the house and land who had enjoyed free reign for several months while our house lay empty of human occupants. Thankfully, having us and our feline family members patrolling the premises (and Mr. COD having cut back a ton of the overgrown brush and trees) seems to have largely eradicated the presence of giant spiders in the house. We still are constantly finding new creatures to examine, though. At least one black widow has been spotted (in the garage), several enormous fishing spiders (freakishly huge, but harmless), and just last week, a “cow-killer” (a red-and-black striped wasp that races on foot like a steroid-enhanced ant). Plus side: Junior and Mini COD are getting an early education in the art of not touching any unfamiliar critters without prompt notification of Mom and Dad and a quick Google search! 
  • Poison ivy. Umm…yeah. Mr. COD had a vicious encounter with this stuff a few weeks ago and is finally starting to get relief from the itching! He admits to not being cautious and wearing appropriate clothing to protect himself while mowing and trimming, but still, it’s caused some degree of misery for his first few weeks of work. Again, the kids are learning what NOT to do! They are sufficiently scared of poison ivy now thanks to Dad’s live demonstration of its evils.
  • Coyotes. Guys, these things are SOOO FREAKY to hear late at night! We first heard a pack of them shrieking a couple of weeks ago while our friends from Milwaukee were visiting. Let’s just say, we could definitely tell they were celebratin’ something sinister. Just last night, we heard them getting all riled up again. It doesn’t make me keen on camping in our backyard anytime soon! 
  • The steep hill of a driveway and yard are a pain at times. Hauling garbage cans up to the road is a bit of work, and there are very few flat spaces in the yard for playing or gardening. We feel a bit better about this when we drive around town and see that flat areas are few and far between, so we’re not alone!
  • As far as the house itself goes, nearly everything in it is kind of worn-out or near broken. The house is perfectly livable; it just needs a lot of TLC to get to the way we’d like it. A few examples: paint needs freshening everywhere, the patio door doesn’t function very well, the roof isn’t in great shape, and the main bathroom decor is pretty hideous. However, all can be done gradually as we have the funds and time! 
  • There’s no Aldi. Shopping at Wal-Mart is far from my favorite thing to do. Boo! It’s okay, though–there’s a new Aldi under construction in our town right now! We’re so looking forward to getting our fave grocery chain back soon. 
  • Driving everywhere is a necessity, because, again, RURAL. It’s no longer a five-minute walk to the nearest supermarket, so I do miss popping the boys into the stroller to go pick up just a few things. Planning ahead is a bit more important when running errands. Still, Mr. COD is now only a ten-minute drive from work (instead of 30), which is an awesome change for him and us. 
  • While we love having a bigger house in which to entertain guests (we’ve had a lot of people visiting this summer), more space means more to clean. This is no surprise; everyone mentions this con when talking square footage of homes. It’s still preferable for us to have the room and spend a tad longer cleaning. Totally worth the trade-off!
  • Not a good space for kitty litter. One of our cats is on the geriatric end of the age spectrum and has some trouble staying in the box. Unfortunately, the best space for them is in a downstairs open closet, which is carpeted. Hence, we have some gross odor to deal with as long as she’s with us. 
  • You’ve all heard this one before: we’re farther from our family and friends. It sucks big-time, but we feel the career opportunity for Mr. COD and the other opportunities for us as a family are worth the sacrifice. 
  • We are very isolated from other people here. At our old house, we even shared a driveway with one neighbor, and it became somewhat comforting to always see them leaving in the morning for their jobs and run into them during the warmer months. Here in this rural area, we can go days without seeing another human being. It’ll require some more effort to get to know people. *One caveat to this: our closest neighbors here have dogs who occasionally wander off into our yard. We love this, as their dogs are incredibly sweet and friendly and our kids adore dogs. Our day is always brightened when Roscoe or Piper amble through our grass for a pat or two. That opens up conversation with the neighbors as well, when they come looking for the pups!
  • The amount of space we have is amazing…BUT…the view from our house is actually very closed-off. We’re totally hemmed in by trees on all sides, and it would be nice to see more of the countryside around us. Our plan is to work on clearing out more of the trees and brush that separate us from the cow pasture, so that by next summer, we could enjoy some glorious pastoral sunset views!   

    Lovely, just not as open as we’d like!

That’s about it for the negatives in this new home in Kentucky. We don’t regret the house or the location we chose, but it does have its drawbacks. So far, the pros far outweigh the cons for us! I mean, look at this peaceful little slice of heaven!

Obstructed, but still pretty gorgeous!

My office view?

Have you ever regretted a move or a house purchase? How did you fix things? 


Missing Old Friends, Making New Friends

By on August 9, 2017

If I had to choose one aspect of our out-of-state move that is the hardest, it would definitely be missing old friends and family. We have NONE close by. Of course, close is a relative term, but for us, we are now between 5-12 hours’ drive from any of our family and friends. I’m enjoying the summer with my kids and Mr. COD, but at times it’s been hard being so far from our loved ones.  (more…)


Career Identity and Uncertain Next Steps

By on July 10, 2017

This whole past year of being primarily a stay-at-home mom has provoked a great deal of introspection regarding my career identity. Who am I, apart from my identity as a teacher? It was such an integral part of my being for so long, I almost don’t know how to view myself apart from that identity. 

Surprising, how much of what I think about myself revolves around what I do. It’s a development I hadn’t anticipated when I walked away from teaching. Blinded by the thrill of quitting, of leaving a career I only halfheartedly cared about, I hadn’t realized how much of my identity I derived from that label: teacher.  (more…)