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…)

Quick post – Get Outdoors

By on July 28, 2017

Mrs. COD and I enjoyed the outdoors before we had children….and we still do, but it’s not as easy as it once was. At times, I have longed for the days when we could go kayaking on the spur of the moment. WELL LONG NO LONGER! We’ve gone kayaking with our little guys 4 times in the last few weeks and once even by ourselves (thank you Gma COD in-law).

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New Home Love

By on June 14, 2017

We’re feeling a ton of New Home Love around the COD place lately. There are so many things about the new house that are vast improvements over our previous house, and we’re enjoying it! To be sure, there are also negatives, but I’m not even going to address those here today. Mr. COD’s and my seventh wedding anniversary was this week, and it was lovely to be celebrating it in our new home. Nearly two weeks in, I wanted to record a collection of things we LOVE about our new Kentucky home!  (more…)


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?

 


Frugal Friday: Free Summer Fun 

By on May 5, 2017

Hey, guys! Happy Cinco de Mayo! I almost forgot to share my post “6 Free or Cheap Summer Fun Ideas” from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff! I’m here to share some ideas for your frugal summering. Fun does NOT have to cost a lot of dough, but we sometimes need to plan ahead for free summer fun. Lots of you already do many of these, such as hiking and biking!

Young explorers!

I can hardly believe it is May already. I know time moves at the same pace no matter what, but it sure feels fast to me lately. Perhaps it’s something to do with the fact that we BOUGHT A HOUSE a few weeks ago and we’re moving in ONE MONTH! So there is a ton to do around here to get ready for the move. 

JUST KIDDING! Not our new house 😉

We still intend to enjoy plenty of frugal fun this upcoming summer as we settle into our new home and new town. Head on over to Budgeting in the Fun Stuff to read the article! 

Our actual new house! It has tons of trees and space; we can’t wait!

Tell us, friends, what are your must-do summer fun activities? Is there something you’re willing to spend a bit more money to do, or are you strictly frugal?


Water Parks, The ER, and An Interview

By on March 9, 2017

Whew! We just arrived home from nearly a week away, and it was lovely to sleep in our own beds again. The above title sums up the past few days pretty well, but I know you’ll want the full story! As you can guess, the COD family went to a water park on our recent trip. I also got to experience the joys of the emergency room at the local hospital (always fun to be sick when on vacation, right?). Mr. COD finished off the list with his on-campus interview for a university teaching position. 

Last weekend was the women’s Christian conference I attended with a friend. Our whole family stayed with their family, so Mr. COD and his buddy hung out with all four kids for the day while my friend and I relaxed and refreshed our spirits at the conference with 2,500 other women. Great speakers and music, plus it was my first full day away from my boys since July. Yeah. My friend asked me if I was having a hard time being away, but I had to admit, NO! It was so freeing to be myself for like nine hours, without anyone needing anything from me. 

Our kids had a ton of fun with our friends’ kids and their new puppy. Hanging out in the evenings was great, and it was overall a terrific weekend with old friends (Mr. COD has known the two of them since college, and they are awesome people.) 

En route back home on Sunday morning, I knew Mr. COD was getting anxious about his upcoming interview. He’d planned to drive on his own on Monday, interview Tuesday, and drive back late Tuesday night. But we got the idea that having me and the boys along could help him decide whether to accept the job, should he receive an offer. He’d been concerned that the kids would distract him too much, and he needed to focus, quietly, to nail the interview. 

Thankfully, he changed his mind and decided we should all come along. We made it a little adventure and decided to stay in a cool hotel Sunday night on our way north. So we got home, hurriedly ate lunch, packed again, and took off that afternoon. 

Mr. COD found us the perfect hotel! We got a great deal, $100 for a jacuzzi suite. Not necessary, but with small children it is nice to have separate rooms to help all sleep better. Plus, there was a small water park area for little kids. My kids are still too young for the huge water slides at most water parks, but this was just right. We didn’t have to hold them every second, as we would have had to in a regular pool. Shallow water and small slides and fountains thrilled them to no end!  

Swimwear is a bit big on mini COD😀

So, after an hour of water-tastic fun, we returned to the suite to cram the four of us into a jacuzzi tub! My stomach was starting to bother me a little, but I didn’t think much of it. 

It wasn’t until after we’d all pulled on our jammies and settled down for TV and a snack that my stomach started hurting in earnest. Mini COD climbed onto my lap and squished my belly and it hurt like hell, so much that I cried out and pushed him off me. Mr. COD shot me a look of concern and said, “Are you sure you don’t have appendicitis?” 

NOOOOO! I panicked and wished for the pain to instantly evaporate so I could laugh off his question. Alas, the sharp pain continued as waves of nausea swept over me. Mr. COD was googling symptoms and broke it to me that it sounded like I really might have an appendix issue. 

I did not actually throw up (don’t you love all the gory details?), but my rosy-pink complexion after swimming and jacuzzi time had given way to a colorless face. I was now experiencing chills as well, and the abdominal pain hadn’t gone away. 

So at about 9:30 pm, I managed to pull on shoes and a jacket while we loaded the boys (still pajama-clad) into the van yet again. Thank goodness for Google maps, which guided us to the hospital emergency room in an unfamiliar town. One kid was asleep before we arrived, so I went inside alone and Mr. COD drove them back to the hotel. 

Let me tell you, I turn into a great big baby anytime I’m sick. Throw in the possibility of surgery, and I’m a basket case. All I can imagine are worst-case scenarios, and I imagine us on the news the next day. “Vacation in the Dells turns into nightmare as wife clings to life.” So were the thoughts in my head as I kissed Mr. COD goodbye in the car and glanced back at my precious children. 

I had some time to pray and think and watch Golden Girls reruns while I waited for various tests and results. (Why is it that Golden Girls is always on in hospitals? Betty White is rather comforting, I suppose.) No cell service within the hospital contributed to my sense of isolation. I answered the same questions four or five times, had my first ever CT scan (scary but cool), and they eventually found that my appendix was fine. Yay! It turned out I only had “periumbilical abdominal pain”, a souvenir from childbirth. Right by my navel, it simply flared up into massive pain for a brief time that night. Doc said it wasn’t cause for concern and I was free to go.

Statistically, I realize that an appendectomy is a very common surgery, and rarely a huge deal, but with any surgery there’s always risk. So my fears definitely took over as I worried over my diagnosis, whether I’d be okay, who would watch the boys so Mr. COD could be with me as I recovered, and whether he would have to miss his big interview. A bit of guilt entered my mind as I recalled my relief in being away from the kids on Saturday. Now all I longed for was to hold my little guys again.

Of course, I know that Mr. COD would never place a job interview over me or my health, but I still didn’t want to mess up his plans. And the friend who went to the conference with me on Saturday would have watched the kids for us (we asked her right away when we thought my condition was serious). 

I was so looking forward to snuggling with my babies once I got back! I hated having to call my husband at 2 am, especially since he had only returned to our hotel around midnight and the boys would be asleep. But he got them back in the car and drove back to pick me up. I waited in the lobby, half-asleep on a couch, half-listening to a Mike and Molly episode. 

How ironic that the one time we spring for a suite and have such comfortable beds, we end up only sleeping in them for about four hours! Oh well. No surgery and no more abdominal pain? Nothing but thankful! 

The remainder of our trip was positive. The kids handled the car ride fairly well (God bless the in-vehicle DVD player). The scenery was pretty and the university put us up in a comfortable waterfront hotel for two nights. While Mr COD was in his daylong interview on campus, I took the boys out to play in the dusting of snow by our hotel. After the mild winter we’ve had, the bracingly cold wind was especially hard to endure!

We watched a bunch of PBS Kids and then I drove around a bit. I took the kids to Aldi for a few picnic supplies for the return trip, then meandered through neighborhoods to get a sense of the place. The main reason we went along was so I could see the city and area in person, to determine whether I could visualize us living there. Otherwise, if he got the job offer, we’d have to go back in a few weeks so I could see the town before he would accept the job. 

My verdict so far: yes. I can see us living there. It’s definitely colder than the southern states I’d started to dream of, but the lake is gorgeous. The area has an aquarium, zoo, and children’s museum; those all are pluses for us these days! Plus, there’s an Aldi, haha😉. It has a couple of Acts 29 network churches, which is sort of like a denomination. Our current church is part of that network and we absolutely love it. 

It’ll be a few weeks before Mr. COD gets an answer, and he still has interviews lined up at other schools this spring. However, I can say that he really liked what he learned in his meetings with various faculty and the dean. He can see saying yes easily if they offer him the job. 

Now…we just wait. I’m trying not to think too much about the monumental task of packing and moving. The idea of leaving the area where I’ve lived for nearly fifteen years makes my heart sad, for sure. We’ll see what happens. Lots of things are up in the air right now, but we’re okay with whatever happens. A medical scare has a way of improving one’s perspective, right? We’re so grateful for our health and our family. Stay tuned for updates!

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Frugality Report: February

By on February 28, 2017

Awesome frugality or not, February has been a good time for us. I’m doing more freelance writing, Mr. COD is busy interviewing, we enjoyed a frugal birthday for our two-year-old, and our weather here in IL has been freaking INCREDIBLE. 

Here are some of our frugal highlights for this month!

  • No Valentine’s Day gifts or dinner out. In typical COD fashion, we kept it low-key. I baked my heart cookies the weekend beforehand, which we enjoyed for several days (and had plenty extra to take to church). I did get a kick out of seeing the multitude of guys purchasing flowers, balloons, and candy the night before!
  • I finally went to a children’s resale shop that is literally two blocks from our house. I happened to end up there on a sale day when all clothing was $1! Wahoo! That sale scored us a bunch of stuff for Junior COD, which was great since we’re starting to run out of hand-me-downs as he grows bigger. I found two sets of swim trunks and rash guards, several shirts, a pair of pants, and some really nice sneakers for him, all for $13.50. Only the shoes were “full” price, which was $4. Much better than $15-20 or more, which is not uncommon for kids’ shoes. 
  • I refreshed my pasta-making skills a couple of times, and my technique is improving!
  •     
  • Last week I also took on (for the first time) Mrs. Picky Pincher’s homemade tortilla recipe, which was a big win! It’s a super-duper easy recipe to follow. If you want to check out her new e-book, that’s where I found this recipe (plus a ton more recipes and a detailed four-week meal plan): 
  • Slash Your Grocery Bills In 28 Days: Eat like royalty on a shoestring budget

    Tasty tortillas!

  • Mini COD’s birthday festivities were fun, but also mellow, as we’d hoped! On the actual birthday, we grilled out for lunch on our deck (never thought we’d do that for a February birthday in the Midwest). I made his cake from a boxed mix because I had one in the pantry and just wasn’t in the mood to make it from scratch. His PJ Masks figures became the cake toppers instead of getting wrapped up, and they’re perfect little toys for him. We didn’t have a party, just the four of us at home, a few presents, and cake, and it was just right. Since we’re both homebodies and slightly lazy when it comes to celebrating, and he’s too little to care, it was perfect for us! 

    that’s about as fancy as my decorating gets!

  • A trip to the children’s museum was a big hit one Saturday. It does have an admission fee, but since we squeaked in there before Mini’s second birthday, he got in for free! Woohoo!
  • The nicest weekend weather led us to Madison and the Henry Vilas Zoo, which is totally free! We met Mr. COD’s sister and her family for the day and the boys were ecstatic to hang with their cousins and aunt and uncle. It was so gorgeous out that we ate a lovely picnic by the lake as well. Super frugal fun!  

    not sure what exhibit this was…

  • Our Madison picnic view…an icy lake on a 65° day!


    the view of the zoo from the adjacent park

 

Frugality Fails:

  • Groceries got waaaay out of hand this month, which is a bummer after we kicked some grocery budget butt during Uber Frugal January. We got lazy and got back into old habits like going to the market four days in a row. That’s what happens when we don’t plan meals and shopping! Over $500 in the shortest month of the year = dang it!
  • Along the same lines, we ate out quite a bit. Honestly, though, we’re not sorry. We found an awesome new sitter the boys love, and dating your spouse is important! Once those kiddos are grown up, it’ll be just Mr. COD and me again, so we gotta stay connected. 
  • Too many gifts for Mini COD! We gave him two resale shop board games, which were cheap, but he’s still not ready to play them. He liked the other toys we ended up buying, but a week later, they’re already largely forgotten. Plus (and this is the worst part), Junior COD was definitely watching, so he’s been sharing his birthday wish list for the past week. Whoops. We may have set too high a precedent for him that will make it harder to stay frugal and limited when he turns 4. Plus, that’s not for another three months…sigh…

How about you guys? Any big frugal wins or flops this month? Hey, at least if we failed, it can’t be as big a gaffe as that one on Oscar night…


Valentine’s Day and Risks

By on February 14, 2017

The COD team hopes that you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know we subscribe to the goal of simple and meaningful for all of our holidays, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. You’re probably wondering why the word “risks” is in the title. Read on to find out!

A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY 

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Grief and resolution: on the loss of a neighbor

By on December 11, 2016

One week ago, we learned of the loss. While plowing snow off the neighbors’ sidewalk that day, Char came to inform Mr. COD of his passing. Jim was the first neighbor we ever met when purchasing our house seven years ago. It seems so sudden, so hard to believe he’s really gone.  (more…)