Sunday, November 30, 2008

Black Friday....

I know it is Sunday but I wanted to talk about Black Friday. In the past I have gotten up at the crack of dawn and went shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Before I was married I would always go to Tennessee to spend the holiday with my parents. My mom, my sister and I would get up in the middle of the night and go shopping. Unfortunately, my parents live over an hour away from the mall or most shopping centers. So, we had to get up REALLY early. Sometimes I wouldn't even buy anything, I'd just go for the fun of it. Then I had children. I'd guess I have went out about half of the Black Friday's since having kids. I did send Jake to Walmart one year to get some super duper deal. Another year I went with Jake's Stephanie, Linda and Gail (Tim's mom). It was fun but I didn't feel so well. At the time I didn't know what was going on but later I found out I was pregnant with Avery. Again, I don't think I really bought anything. For the most part, when you are traveling with a bunch of kids it requires a lot of packing. When you are visiting and have to drive home with all your stuff there isn't really any room for "loot" you get on Black Friday. This year on Thanksgiving I decided I HAD to go shopping on Black Friday out of necessity. Money is tight and I need a deal - even if it means getting up at the crack of dawn and fighting the crowds. I poured over the ads and made a plan. I have a pretty small budget to work with and this year I MUST stick to it. So, I wrote out a list of who is on my Christmas list. I assigned an amount of money I can spend on each person. The tricky thing is trying to get the same "value" gift for each person. So, if I get some super deal at CVS for 15 cents but the item is valued at $30 (it happens) then I don't have to spent the rest of my budget. Does the make sense? Also, with the kids. I don't feel like I have to spend the exact same amount on each kid. I will try to make it fair but I am not counting each penny. After I had the budget set I looked through the ads. Walmart (as I cringe) had the best deals - as far as the items I needed. Plus, they price match. There was one item at Target that was almost $10 cheaper than at Walmart so I just brought the ad and they matched the price without any question. I did go to Target later but I'll get to that in a minute. I got up so early. I put on a hat, pushed last nights makeup back into place and brushed my teeth. There are a couple of Walmarts in our area so I decided to go to the Super Walmart - afterall Super must mean better, right? I got there at 4:55 A.M. I had to park a good city block way from the entance. It was PACKED. When I entered the store there weren't any carts left! I just started laughing. I thought I must be nuts. I finally got a cart. I headed to the DVD's because they advertised Spiderman 1 & 2 for $2 each. Can't beat that, right? Well, they didn't have even one of them there. There were three or four displays of DVD's and not one of them had a price marked on it. Some were $2, some were $6 and others were $9. No price anywhere. That is annoying. Then I was looking for these crayola things - they were a steal and my kids love that kind of stuff. They didn't even have them out. The sale's lady went to the back and brought me the one I didn't want but I took it so I didn't seem ungrateful. Later some lady asked me where I got it and I gave it to her (good deed for the day). I did see a woman with one that I wanted in her cart and she said she found it on some random shelf by itself. Bummer. Pretty much that was my experience. I found a lot of what I was looking for but none of it was marked. If I had not made my list I would have been lost and frustrated. It was packed but people were really nice and polite. They did have a police officer in the electronic department. That was funny to me. I did buy one item that was not on my list. Not too bad, I'd say. I did have to wait in line for 45 minutes to pay but while I was waiting the lady I had asked about the crayola thing in her cart came and found me because she found another one. Wasn't that so nice???? (her good deed for the day). Overall not a bad experience but I do feel like Walmart set up a scene for a serious mess. I hope they weren't all like that. When I went to Target everything was well marked and displayed. They had a great check out system and I got through the line in about 10 minutes. Also, they still had items that were advertised and were fantastic deals at 8 A.M. unlike, Walmart that ran out of those TV's in less than 5 minutes. Most of my Christmas shopping is done. Yippy. Oh, and so far I am under budget!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Recap (and plans for the rest of the weekend)

Wow, can you believe the Christmas Season is already here? Honestly, I am back in September somewhere - in fact I still have bulbs to plant!!!! I better get on that today! Regardless, this year Thanksgiving was a little different for us. Usually we go to either Tennessee or West Virginia for the holiday weekend. This year we didn't because we thought we should just stay put and save a few bucks. Gas is down but no matter how much we plan ahead we always spend money during the trip and gas isn't free so we just stayed home. Plus, Jude had school on Wednesday and I worked. Oh, and we thought it might snow and that means a little extra cash for us since Jake is going to be doing some snow plowing now. Either way we stayed home. Last week Jake and I were talking and we decided we would go to this homeless shelter and make Thanksgiving dinner with the two families that are staying there. It is a cool shelter (as far as shelters go) -it is a network of churches (Interfaith Network) that provide housing for homeless families. Each week the families go to a different church to sleep and then during the day they have a house that is called the family center where they shower and hang out. There are staff there and it is just a great place. I've had a couple of families stay there. So, I have a girl there now and she wasn't going anything on Thanksgiving we were planning to go and celebrate Thanksgiving there but in the end it didn't work out. It was okay. I did give her a ride on Thanksgiving though, because the buses don't run on holidays. As for our meal....I did most of the work on Wednesday night. I made dressing, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole, mashed sweet potatoes and turkey (with gravy). Everything went so smooth. I roasted the turkey in one of those roasting bags mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm............ It was so good. I will always use those. I made pumpkin pies. In fact we ate pumpkin pie for breakfast. Why not? It probably was more healthy than pancakes! The kids LOVED it. I think we will do that every year...a new tradition. Even Avery chowed down. Later that afternoon we went to this Christmas Tree Festival in downtown Akron. People deocorate trees and donate them and they are sold as a fundraiser. The event is free (perfect for us LOL). It was nice. I think everyone had a good time. I did manage to go to CVS twice. I got some fantastic deals. Seriously- I spent $30 and ended up with $34 in extra bucks. Then I went back yesterday and bought a crock pot, tampons and makeup for 15 cents! I still have $30 in extra bucks. I love when I can do deals like that. I did get up in the middle of the night yesterday and went shopping. It is a lot more fun when you are with other people. I had a pretty good experience but I think I will make that a completely different post. Today we are going to the movies (finally). I have had a GC for some time and haven't used it - Jude has been bugging me to death! We are also going to get our tree and tommorow we will go to church and if the weather is decent I told Jude we could go ice skating - although we may hold off on that until next weekend. We have a lot going on so I will see you later!!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Santa Pics

Our Church did this cool thing this past weekend. In the Falls we have an ice skating rink. On the first day it is open each year they do this little festival type thing. They have Santa and give free pictures. You know free is right up my alley. Well, our Church gives out a free "treat" bag to each kid that gets their picture taken. This year it had a little stuffed animal, a candy cane with the little candy cane legend poem and a Christmas card the kids can color and give away (with an envelope). I was there all day, as were a few other people. I think it was fun. I will post the candids later (maybe today) but for now here are the free pics. The bottom one is of me and Sherry. She will probably kill me for posting the picture LOL and now I have to worry about her retaliating since she has her own blog!!!!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

This Morning...

This morning Jude says to me, "Why aren't you wearing BLACK?". I just had to laugh. I am wearing a white shirt today and he thought that was weird. Funny.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I got my hair cut last week. I couldn't get that great of a photo by myself but here are the results....



Please tell me again why I keep thinking I should grow my hair out?

Mr. Runkle....

A few months ago I opened my MySpace and found a message in my inbox from a man I didn't know. His name is James Renner. Sometimes this happens on MySpace...once I got a message from a man that said he thought I had "amazing" eyes. I checked out his page and he was married. I sent him a message back giving him a lecture about staying faithful to his wife...yada, yada, yada. He probably thought I was some kind of lunatic. LOL. Anyhoo....I've gotten sidetracked. So, the message from Mr. Renner was titled "Mr. Runkle". I was intrigued. He asked if I had a science teacher with that name and if I had any information about him. I checked out the guy and he is a writer for the Cleveland Scene Magazine. I was very careful about what I said being the skeptic that I am. I did have Mr. Runkle as a 7th grade science teacher back in 85-86. He was an odd bird. His classroom was filled with animals...snakes, mice, hamsters....I don't even remember everything. He was a very good teacher. His techniques were unconventional. I was scared to death of him. You weren't allowed to chew gum in his class and GOD forbid if you ever yawned. He had a way of making a student feel an inch high. He had his favorites in the classes. I do remember that and I was NOT one of them. Okay, I am off track again. Mr. Renner said he was doing research and Mr. Runkle's name came up in connection to an old crime. Ooooohhhhh. I love this kind of stuff. I've become quite the little investigator myself. I didn't really have anything much to say to him - just rumors that went around about Runkle. I asked my Mom and she remembered a few things I had repressed (LOL). He used to walk all over town in his little running shorts. He quite teaching a couple of years after I had him. My sister was three years behind me and she did not have him. Rumor had it back then that he quite teaching because he had health Mom remembered he said he had some weird blood thing from eating food in another country. Several years later he started teaching in Amherst. When I was in college I had a snake I wanted to get rid of. My sister took it over to the middle school and gave it to him. A couple of years later he wasn't the teacher anymore. My sister heard he had died. How sad...right? Well, turns out he didn't die. He moved to Florida to live in a homeless shelter. CRAZY. Oh, and before he disappeared he told my sister the snake died.....hmmmmmm....maybe it didn't die afterall. (That is a little conspiracy humor - bad attempt, I know). Well, last week Heather called me all excited and told me about an article in the Morning Journal. WOW. It was an article about Mr. Renners current article in Cleveland Scene magazine. He has connected Mr. Runkle in the murder of Amy Mihaljevic. Remember her? Back in 1989 she was the little girl that was abducted in Bay Village and found months later in a field in New London. It was so sad. You can read the article. It is good. I have spend an extrodinary amount of time (that I don't really have) reading the comments people are leaving. It has brought back a lot of memories. Mr. Runkle making jokes about curvy women, the late bloomers in the class, his blow up dolls, how he ate at Rax all the time.... I can see him sitting in Rax - if you are from Vermilion you will see it too - he always sat in the part of the restraunt where you had to walk down a few steps and it was all windows like a greenhouse. We cut up EVERYTHING in his class. We disected SEVEN animals that year. I can't even remember what all we did but I do remember the frog, starfish, worm.... And once we got to stay after school and disect a freshly killed mouse, with blood. Mine was pregnant. I still remember that smell. We did it in the cafeteria because there were so many people participating. Kinda gross isn't it? Some people are outraged because of the article. They say he was the best teacher EVER. He was good. And I do remember a lot about that class. But come on people....that does not make him innocent. I particularly liked how one guy commented that he spent a lot of time with Runkle as a student. He said he rode in his car, went to Rax with him and that Runkle paid him for his time (I remember him saying that in class - that he would pay his assistants for their time) and then the guy said "and I never saw any inappropriate behavior from him". Are you kidding me? A teacher was paying you for your "time" and that isn't inappropriate? I never saw Runkle with another adult outside of school.

So, here is the thing. Do I think he is guilty? That doesn't really matter, now does it? I just can't believe how people who don't really know him are justifying his peculiar and sometimes inappropriate behaviors. People are saying Mr. Renner needs to let the FBI and police do their jobs but I know from working in "the system" often times things get overlooked. And many times it takes one person having a hunch that they follow on their own to get the authorities to crack a case. If Runkle didn't kill Amy then maybe this new interest in the case can bring up new evidence. I think it is downright fasinating.

I'll keep up updated, of course.

And here is Renner's blog about his search for Amy's killer. So interesting.....

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What a Day.....

I have had such an exciting day. Here is my to-do list from the day....
  • Go to The Job Center (welfare)
  • Go to the Downtown Akron Police Department Adult Probation & meet w. a probation officer.
  • Visit the homeless shelter.
  • Make tons of phone calls.
  • Go to the GAL/Casa office (lawyers/caseworkers that represent kids).
  • Go to Juvenile Court and attend hearing.
  • Go out to lunch with my Stampin' Up/ Attorney friend.
  • Solve a SVU type case and get the guy to turn himself in....and he did (wow that was a big one).
  • Write up all my notes.... I have to go make dinner.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Get Ready....

Remember those tours I gave you, the last two years, of the pink house during the Christmas season???? Well, we are going to do it again this year (December 15)- except we don't live in the pink house anymore. I am starting early so I am going to add before we moved in photos and then my Christmas tour. How lovely???!!!! If you want to join in the fun stop over and see Boo Mama and get the details. Seriously, if you have a blog I will tell you it brings the traffic. I still get hits every week from my previous contributions.


So, be here on December 15th, I'll give ya the grand tour...

Friday, November 07, 2008

As it turns out....

....I might be a football fan, afterall!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I got out of bed early today to get a few things done but now I am sitting in front of the computer blogging....Isn't that funny!?

Yesterday I helped a client pack up a bunch of stuff she has stored in a friends garage. She had a situation where she had to move out of a place real quick and everything has been just shoved in bags. I took over some boxes and we started sorting. I really like to sort...not sure why. But anyhoo....we worked for hours and barely made a dent. I think we will have to try to go again today or tomorrow because the weather is so nice but is going to get nasty. So, while we were packing it reminded me of a time I helped someone pack "quickly". I was 19 years old and I decided I was going to move out of my parents house. I found this apartment in Lorain in a not so great area - I guess it wasn't horrible but not great either. I was way too independent to ask my parent's opinion and by the time they knew about it I had already signed the lease. The day I picked up the keys to my new apartment I witnessed a pregnant woman, who lived downstairs, getting her daughter removed by Child Protective Services & the police. I still remember hearing her scream "Noooooooo" and crying horribly. Looking back that is probably the first time I really knew that could happen. I am sure I had heard about it but I NEVER knew anyone who had been involved with Child Protective Services. After I moved in I got to know her. She was a mess. She was in her early 30's and had been married but got divorced and lived alone with her daughter. Her little girl was probably 6 or 7. After being removed from her mother's custody she went to live with her Dad and his new wife. She would come and visit on the weekend and honestly the little girl spent most of her time at my apartment. Her mom was pregnant by some very young guy (21 year old) that she met at a bar. I used to take her to the store (she did not have a car) to get groceries with her food stamps or to do her other shopping. On Christmas day I went to my parent's home and when I came back to my apartment the woman was so drunk she could barely stand up. She was almost 9 months pregnant. I was so mad at her. I vividly remember her coming out of her apartment and falling into me. What was she thinking??? She said she was depressed because she didn't have her daughter on Christmas. I don't even remember the time line but sometime shortly after that she was getting evicted. I went to court with her. She had 3 days to get out. That night she went into labor. She called me and her exact words were "Rut Row". I drove her to the hospital and stayed in for the c-section deliverly. I so remember her asking if he was okay after he was born. She was worried. Looking back she probably had some drug issues that I was way to niave to notice. The baby was fine. She didn't have a name for him so I suggested Tyler. Funny, I never told Sherry this story and she has a son with the same name that was born the same month (different year though '92)....isn't that weird. I think I suggested Collin for his middle name. Since she was in the hospital during for a few days I had to go to her apartment and pack up her stuff. I don't even remember where I put the stuff. I think her friend had a truck and came to get it. I shoved anything that would fit into trash bags. The place was a mess - ya know, I think that was the first time I was in her apartment. She came home (to her friends house) with the baby. I think it was the second or third day she was home she brought that baby to me and had me keep him overnight while she went out partying. Again, What was she thinking???? Better yet, What was I thinking? What did I know about newborns? NOTHING. It may have been New Years....can't remember. I do know I was smart enough not to get too attached. So, I moved to Georgia. Really that is one of the smartest decisions I have made. I packed up and moved in with my Aunt Debbie, who let me stay with her for several months. The woman with the baby would call me from time to time. She begged me to come back to Ohio. She asked me to take her son. Can you believe I said no? She always told me he thought I was his mother....I held him first. I fed him first. I named him. He ended up being removed from her custody and I think he went to live with her daughter & her family. The woman moved to Florida, the last I heard.

As I was thinking about that yesterday - a story I hadn't really thought about for years. I realized I was doing the exact thing then that I am doing now....except I am a lot more mature and now I get paid for it. So, when I tell you this job was meant to be now you can see a little bit of why I think so.....

Sunday, November 02, 2008

You'd Think I'd Be Sleeping....

....with the time change and all BUT I have a lot of crazy stuff on my mind. We had another fun filled weekend. We got to relax a little so that is good. I am working on a big outreach project for Church. We are putting together gift bags to give away to all the kids that have their photos taken with Santa. Our Church does it every year but this is the first time I am heading it up. Not a big deal just kinda crazy. We are also going to do a "giving tree" to help a family. That is nice to do at Christmas. We have a new family at our Church & today they started talking to us about some of the outreach they did at their old church in Florida. It was very cool. They would make food and just go pass it out on the streets. I'd love to do something like that. I have a lot to think about with my outreach planning. So, that has been on my mind. Also, I have been subpoenaed to testify in a custody hearing. I often go to court with my clients and being in the court or even in front of the Magistrate is no big deal. Under normal circumstances I get to say that I am working with the client and what we are working on. This time I will be under oath and questioned AND cross examined. Also, the hearing is for a case I closed. A case I worked REAL hard for but didn't have very good results. It is sad and very stressful for me. I don't like it. The last two weeks haven't been that great for me anyhow when it comes to work. I had another "she is bossy" complaint. That really didn't bother me & the case worker didn't even tell me my client had said those things (I thought that was sweet of her) but my clients family member told me when she was letting me know "how things are going". Also, in the last week I have had several clients cancel or no show - that always worries me a bit and to be honest I am pretty annoyed when that happens as well. It also messes up my entire schedule. Grrrrrr.... On a positive note, the CSB (child protective services) higher ups LOVE us and so do the courts so our contract was renewed. That is good. On top of all that worrying - I am stressed about Jake's job situation. He starts a new job on December 1 but I am very nervous about it - I guess I will feel better when he actually starts. for some happy stuff. PICTURES. Here are some pictures from Halloween with my sister and her family. October 31st is Indy's birthday so she has a party and then everyone goes Trick or Treating. It was fun. We didn't go far. Elise went down one street and wanted to go back and pass out candy with Nana (translation: she wanted to eat the loot she had!). Avery was so darn cute - she wanted to walk and hold a bag...such a big girl but I am a little practical. Why would she need candy? So, she really didn't do any begging... just walking and riding in the stroller.
Ivan always dresses up and hides in the flower bed while someone else passes out the candy. He actually made several kids funny....I mean that is so MEAN.
My cutie....Elise.

Since I was the "coordinator" for Jude's school party I dressed up on Friday. I went as a Browns fan...which is a strech for me because I can't stand football.

This is Avery carrying her bag...

Spooky Jude in the fog....He originally wanted to be a ghost. That costume was too cumbersome. Then he wanted to be a bat. I couldn't find cheap bat wings and did not have time to make them. SO, we ended up with this very frugal get up.....

Sisters holding hands....

Stand still kids...I want to take your picture together. Is this any indication of what our Christmas photo will look like this year?

And another....Jude does look scary.

Jen F's new baby girl - just born on Tuesday- Alexandra! Can you believe she let Elise hold her after that eye poking death grip thing she did to Lizzy just 19 months ago???

Jude & Indy acting silly.