Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Okay, so the plans changed again...and again...and again. We finally got down here to Georgia in March and quickly found out that the current housing market would allow us to BUY a dream-like property for much less than it would cost us to build the house we designed. So Mike signed the paperwork this afternoon for what we HOPE to be our LAST home (for at least a decade or two!!!) This is the seventh home we've purchased since we were married 15 years ago. Mike's travels all over the world for work so as long as we are close to a major airport we can live anywhere. And now we will be just 25 miles directly south of the Atlanta airport. Why go through the hassle and heartache of building when we can buy this for HALF of what it assessed for when it was built in 2006??? We weren't even "house shopping" when we mentioned to a Realtor we met that we would love for her to keep her eyes open for a country property with two houses on it so we could maybe live near Mike's brother and his wife. Just a week later she sent us the listing info on this property. We went to see it right away thinking we could grab it for a steal since it was a foreclosure that had been on the market for almost two years. We couldn't believe how perfect it was...like it was built just for us! So...in our day of modern technology...we sent a text to Mike's brother and his wife. It was something like, "Hey, do you guys want to buy 7.5 acres with two houses on it with us?" Amazingly, they said they just might! Of course, after being on the market for so long, the week we made our offer, two other people did as well. It was a stressful waiting game for a few weeks but here we are, almost 3 months later, joint owners of this beautiful property on Lake Horton in Fayetteville, Georgia. It's about 18 miles north of where we currently are. We rented our Williamson home to a nice family from here in Pike County and are packing up AGAIN. But just thinking about the beautiful view of our backyard will help make it easier: The property is very deep and narrow but is right on the lake. There's no swimming allowed but electric motor boats or canoes & kayaks will be tons of fun! The family who built the house must not have cooked much because the only thing missing from this amazing kitchen is a double oven...the small appliance under the counter on the right side looks like it may be a trash compactor but actually it's an ice maker! It will be well-used in our southern summers! It's set-up much like our Illinois kitchen with more space all around the island. There is a craft room/office for me AND a separate laundry room off of the kitchen. Mike's office is in the front corner of the house with a window that looks out to the driveway. What a treat! A full-size fridge and freezer IN the kitchen. And space for our extra freezer in the craft room/office just off the kitchen. No more treks to the garage for frozen peas! We bought our very first flat screen TV this morning that will be perfect for the spot reserved for it above the fireplace. Behind the fireplace wall is a game room. Our good friends here in GA are giving us the ping pong table they don't have room for any more. We will put our round oak table under the windows for games or puzzles the kids can leave out when they aren't done playing. Front door. Not too exciting but the view to guests when we open it will go straight through the sliding door across the family room and right out to the lake. Nice! This is a view of the back of Pete & Lisa's house. My kids' favorite part is the basketball court although the previous owners took the hoop with them, we'll get one soon. A view of the back of both houses. They are connected by a 30 ft enclosed breezeway. Another section of breezeway connects both houses to the garage. This is the view from the balcony off the master bedroom. The play set also left with the previous owners but our kids are almost too big for one anyways and there is a huge park across the lake we can go to. There are a total of 6 1/2 bathrooms in both houses and this is the ONLY bathtub (in the master bath.) Maggie's room has it's own bathroom. The green walls are cute but don't go with the decor I've already been collecting for Maggie so it will have to go. Her bedroom has a "chocolate" theme with all pink & brown stuff. Maybe we'll post new photos when we get to that project. The "project" list is quite long but we'll get to it eventually.... We've got plenty of space for guests so you're welcome to visit any time. We're about half an hour south of the Atlanta airport about in the middle between I-85 & I-75. Georgia is so beautiful and we are enjoying being here. Having a little more space will be a treat and so much fun to entertain in and to decorate and shop for furniture bargains for...when I find the time! Thank you to Pete & Lisa for sharing in this adventure with us. We look are sooooo excited to have such awesome neighbors!!! Love you guys!
Friday, February 19, 2010
I just have to post this because it made me laugh and love her even more....this is the letter we had waiting for us from Janice (Mike's Mom) when we returned from a 10-day vacation last weekend: Dear Mike and Mercy, Welcome home! Sorry Maggie got a pair of scissors. She didn't cut too much, just a little. I'm not responsible for M&M's in your bed, Mercy's socks in Mike's drawer, unclaimed laundry in your office, Mr. Potato Head parts on the floor, Muffin (the cat) taking a bath in the bathroom sink, nerf bullets in hidden places, or missing candy as Maggie periodically was chewing chocolate Almond Roca or some such candy, but she could never tell me where she got it because I wanted some, too; frozen soda cans in the snow from time to time, any missing food from freezers that you were hoping to save for yourself. Yes, we have had a party while you were gone. I plead the fifth amendment to anything and everything your neighbors might say. P.S. The hair was Maggie's dolly hair--ha ha--this time. Happy Valentines Day! Mom
Saturday, November 7, 2009
I got all this food for a total of $49.32 out of pocket. THAT'S OVER $671 RETAIL VALUE OF NAME BRAND STUFF! It's quite an adrenaline rush but completely legal and what a gift to a family of 7 with holidays coming! A view from the front: There are 26 boxes of cereal, 24 rolls of paper towels, 12 containers of frosting, 4 bags of flour, 6 jars of spaghetti sauce, 8 bottles of salad dressing, 8 brownie mixes, 4 cake mixes, 9 cookie mixes, 12 cartons of chicken broth, 24+ Knorr pasta and rice sides (probably will give most of these away), four bottles of light mayo, 16 cans of Progresso soup, 6 packets of tuna, 3 boxes of Fiber One bars, 18 Yoplait yogurt 4-packs, 6 boxes of Kleenex, 11 packages of Cottonelle flushable wipes, 10 boxes of Betty Crocker potatoes & 4 boxes of Chicken Helper (again, will give these to a food bank), 2 boxes of Klondike bars (will NOT give these away!!!), 6 boxes of Toaster Strudel treats, 2 pkgs of peanut butter crackers that my boys take for snack at school. The view from above: So thanks to help and tips from our great friends the Smith's and a class my friend Jill taught at church all about super couponing, I have a new addiction! A good one this time since it means we get tons of food and stuff for free or almost free. I just had to post this photo of all the stuff I bought this week at Jewel. I started this with $15 in Catalinas we earned from "buying" ice cream last weekend although along with the Smith's we invested about $4 each and got about 180 containers of Breyers ice cream. It was fun to give a lot of it away to friends and neighbors and supply dessert for the Primary Activity on Friday night--and it cost practically NOTHING!!! I have $30 in Catalinas (the things that print out next to the receipt when you check out) still left to use on other things we may need in the next two weeks (before they expire) or I can keep rolling them to get more food for super super cheap. Here are my favorite websites for finding the deals out there: dealseekingmom.com, mashupmom.com, hip2save.com, hotcouponworld.com. It IS very time consuming and I've not been getting much sleep lately because there are always deals to research and prepare for but I've filled every shelf, cabinet and crevice I can put food in my kitchen and basement so it's time to slow down. Now that we're pretty well stocked I can pick and choose which deals to go after. Happy couponing everyone!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
In early May Mike tells me he has to go to Honolulu on business and had been trying to work it out for me to go along but he just wasn't able to do it alone. Thanks to our wonderful friends, the Smiths and another awesome couple in our ward, the Larsons, who took over with the kids when the Smith's left town for their own vacation--I was able to go along. Our hotel, car and Mike's food were all paid for by his company and Mike had a $400 voucher with Delta Airlines after being bumped from a flight a few months prior so all I had to pay was $209 for my plane ticket for a week in beautiful Waikiki!!! Although we miss him when he's gone, there are definitely advantages to having a husband who travels frequently for work. With our kids in competent and loving hands, we flew off for another week away (we had only returned from our cruise a few weeks before). My favorite part of the entire week was the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie but of course right when we got there our camera battery died! Seems like that's the story of every vacation we go on. I even went back a different day during the week to take more photos (and enjoy my favorite shows again while Mike was working) but for some reason those photos and video clips didn't save properly because when I downloaded the camera, they didn't appear....I really wish I was more electronic savvy! We flew to Honolulu on a Sunday and spent most of Monday at the Polynesian Cultural Center. So here we are after the show and back in our hotel room. Tuesday through Friday morning Mike really did have to work all day but Friday we went to Pearl Harbor. We toured a submarine, the USS Bowfin as well as the USS Missouri battleship and the USS Arizona Memorial. There were lots of old pieces of ships to see while we waited for our tour to begin. USS Arizona Memorial. USS Missouri in the background. Thanks to recommendations from the Clement family, we had an awesome dinner at a great place called "Dukes" -- it was well worth the hour long wait! We went someplace else for dessert but had an amazing mud pie (to share, of course). Waiting for dinner we wandered around outside and found dozens of surf boards all stored for the night...someday I might take a surfing lesson on vacation but there wasn't time during this trip. The last day we were there we went on a lengthy horseback ride. It's kind of a tradition we've been able to do on most of our vacations. It was beautiful country and we were with a small group so it was quiet and peaceful...a great way to see the north side of the island.We had an awful hotel the first 5 nights but the last night we moved to the beautiful Hawaii Prince and this was the view out our window. We should have stayed there the entire week. It was down by the marina instead of right in downtown Waikiki but the hotel was clean and spacious and just simply gorgeous. I highly recommend it to anyone heading out there...best of all, we got it on Hotwire.com for only $89 for the night. (Since we extended our stay past Mike's work obligations, we paid for the last night ourselves.) A beautiful floral arrangement greeted us by the elevators. Oh, how I wish we would have stayed here the entire week. One piece of advice: listen to tripadvisor.com -- they know what they are talking about! It's a great resource for actual guest reviews of just about anyplace you would go on vacation. Thanks again to the Smiths, Larsons and my darling spouse for allowing me the gift of time away from kiddos and although the days were long with Mike working, I found great places to go shopping and even worked out at the YMCA every day. I know I am especially blessed to enjoy traveling like we do but it's my absolute most favorite thing to do whenever I have the chance. Our next trip was our West Coast road trip. I'll post all about our month away when I have a chance. Stay tuned....
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Okay Mom -- this is for you! My mom keeps telling me she checks my blog often only to find I haven't posted anything new. Well this news is not new to her but a post of news of our family anyway.... So in May and early June we were preparing for a 6,000 mile road trip out West and contemplating whether or not to rent a car for the trip or take our own van. The rental would cost almost $1,000 and without upgrading to a full-size SUV (for $2,200 for a month) the rental company wouldn't guarantee us a vehicle that would seat our family of 7. The didn't have any mini-vans available at the time. This all goes back to the summer of 2003 when we drove our old van from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, CA for our summer trip only to have our transmission die right when we got off the freeway at our home exit, Bond Road. I didn't want to spent the $3,000+ to fix the older van we'd had continuous problems with. Mike wasn't ready to stray from our plan to wait 6-9 more months to buy a new van. The dealership where the van had been towed offered us $3,000 toward a trade-in which I wanted to do but Mike wasn't willing to change our time line for a new vehicle. We really don't fight -- we disagree sometimes -- but this was by far the biggest "disagreement" of our 7 years of marriage at that time. To top it off we were leaving in a few days for a trip to Hawaii, leaving our kids with Mike's mom for a week to have a romantic vacation alone. So we paid the $3,000 to have the old van fixed then only kept it for 6 more months before we gave up trying to continue repairing the old van and traded it in for Mike's Altima where we got how much for a trade-in???? Just $3,000!!! It had been a lemon of a van in my opinion which is another reason our next vehicles have all been brand new. Mike promised me back then that we would never drive an old van on a long trip. It wasn't worth the stress of wondering if it would die -- of course at that time we didn't have to rent a large vehicle as we only had 3 kids are weren't planning to have any more. Mason was 8 months old at the time. So in preparation for an even longer trip with our family of 7 we decided what are cars for -- we pay for them to drive them where we want to go. So we agreed to take our van in to a repair shop to have it checked out and made ready for such a long trip. We agreed we wouldn't spend any more than $500 on repairs for a vehicle with 101,000 miles that we were only planning to keep till the end of the year. The owner of the shop called us himself and said he definitely would NOT take this van on a long trip. The rack & pinion on the front right side was worn and could fail at any time causing us to lose steering in the right front wheel. That was the only major repair but others were needed soon. This NEEDED repair would cost us over $1200 and we were planning to leave town the next afternoon. After talking with Mike we decided we would move up our plans to buy a new van. I spent that afternoon looking on the internet for dealerships in the area who had the model and color I wanted and also talked with a neighbor who had bought the same exact van just 10 days before. So what did we do? We drove the silver van three of my kids had ever only known from the repair shop straight to a Honda dealership and bought the white Honda Odyssey I had wanted when we bought this Chrysler van almost 7 years ago. We didn't even see it or drive it before we filled out all the paperwork. The research our neighbor had done before buying their Odyssey was invaluable as we had just one evening to buy this new van and pack it up to drive out to the west coast and back with stops in Colorado, Utah, California & Nebraska. It's a bit crazy to be so excited about a new MINIVAN but I've recommended the van to numerous friends over the years who have known of my obsession with cars and asked for my opinion about which van to buy. I finally got my own!!! Thank you to Mike for giving me this luxury. It's an EX-L model with leather, sunroof, DVD player with wireless headsets, 8 seats and a power liftgate. The middle windows roll down (my kids were constantly asking me to do this in our old van that didn't have the ability to do so) and I even have XM radio for a few months. We've had it for 8 weeks today and have over 7200 miles already but they've been fun to drive, even when I had to drive all the way home from Sacramento by myself with all five kids! Mike had flown home from there to return to work. We have a few friends and family members who name their cars so we thought it would be fun to do as well. After unsuccessfully trying a few other names we agreed to name her "Taffy". The official name of the van color is "taffeta white" which is where the name came from. Okay, Mom -- there's your post. When I have a bit more time I'll share all about Hawaii, summer fun with cousins and our road trip of 2009. Stay tuned....
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The beautiful Ruby Princess was our floating hotel for a week--oh how I love cruises! The ship was brand new in November of 2008. It was our 4th cruise, but first on Princess Cruise Lines. The food wasn't as good as we remembered it being on previous trips but the ship was gorgeous and really--who cares where you are when you're away from kids and home and have 7 days with your sweet hubby??? We splurged for a balcony cabin and were upgraded 6 categories so we had a huge balcony with four chairs and a table. I don't think I'll ever be able to cruise again without our own balcony....That is where you could find us more often than not. I finished a 600+ page book by day 5--we tried to play cards out there one night but a gust of wind took them flying to neighboring balconies so we stuck to reading and enjoying the fresh ocean air and loved sleeping with the sliding door open at night! The day we stopped in Grand Cayman we woke up to this sight from our balcony...it was like a cruise ship parking lot in the water just off the shore. Some stops don't actually have a real dock--the ships anchor out a ways and use "tender" boats to take passengers ashore. On this ship they used our own lifeboats as the tender boats--it was nice to know everything worked as it should in case we needed them! This was a tender behind us loading passengers to take ashore.In Ocho Rios, Jamaica we went horseback riding and actually got to ride in the ocean. About halfway through the ride they unsaddled the horses and put bare-back pads on 10 at a time and we all changed into swimsuits and rode out in this bay in the background. We were so deep at times that the water was up to our waists on horseback--tons of fun!!! Formal night on the Ruby Princess.... Thanks to My Michael for another awesome vacation! I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Of course many, many thanks to Mike's mom who came to stay with all our kids for the week. We even left on the twins 3rd birthday with a 24-hour stomach flu going through all 5 of the kids, one at a time. Fortunately, Janice didn't get sick. See you in a few weeks, Mom.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Since I've heard from a few of you that you really would like to see an update here, I guess I'll spend the time knowing that someone will actually read this! I'll start before Christmas when we were surprised and saddened to hear of the passing of Mike's dad, Stephen Ross Forsyth. After realizing that what he initially thought was like a stomach flu, he learned he had cancer in late November and was only sick for a few weeks before he died on December 20th at his home with his wife of over 40 years, Mike's mom, Janice. He had spoken with her earlier that day of arranging for all their 6 kids and 16 grandkids to come for a visit soon, knowing his days were short. She didn't really think we'd be coming for his funeral instead. Being Christmas week, it was a challenge to get flights for those of us outside of California but we flew out on Christmas Day (having arranged with Santa to visit our home a day early.) The photo below is Steve & Janice at our last family vacation together in Lake Tahoe, CA last June. We had a nice dinner shortly after arriving in CA. Pete & Lisa came in late Christmas night then the following night we had a bonfire in the "back 5" -- Mike's parents have 10 acres outside of Sacramento where we all stayed. Here's Mike with Maggie. Don't you just love pigtails on little girls??? Mitchell with the cousin closest to him in age, Perry. Maguire was fascinated with the fire -- we had to keep a close eye on him to stay out of the flames! This is my sister Wendy and her kids Danielle & Caleb. Mike's brothers John & Ray. Matthew & Mason loved their time at the farm. This is Mike's youngest brother, Pete, and his wife Lisa. They live in Georgia where we will get to someday....our land is just sitting around waiting for us to build on it! Since our home in Illinois is now valued at $40k less than we paid for it, it looks like we could be here a few more years. Anyone want a 5 bedroom, 3 bath house near Chicago for a great deal??? Mike's sister Mary. This is John's wife, Gaylynn. They live in Oceanside with their kids, Taylor & Addie. John & Mike at the viewing for Steve. Mike's brother James and his mom had been building a barn before Steve got sick and work stopped on the barn until the brothers were all together and worked on it some while we were there. This is Pete, Mitchell, Mike & James. Matthew climbing trees on the farm with his cousin, Meghan. Maguire was eager to help Mike while they were working on the barn. Ray, Janice (mom), James, Mike & Pete. After the funeral in Elk Grove, CA on the 29th of December, we all caravaned to southern Utah where Steve was buried in the small town he grew up in, Teasdale, Utah. It's VERY rural but absolutely beautiful! After the burial, most of the extended family caravaned back to CA (a few with the stomach flu) but our family drove north and spent a few days in Salt Lake City then flew home from there. We're grateful to Mike's aunt and cousin for welcoming our chaotic family into their homes. We were able to visit with Steve Mackie while we were in town. He and Mike were buds when they were young, before Steve and his mom moved away but they have all kept in touch. Mason outside the conference center in SLC, across the street from the temple. Maggie loved the steps.... Mike with Maguire -- we were married in the Salt Lake temple (in the background) almost 14 years ago...how time flies!!! We were so grateful to be able to spend a day with our great friends, the Knudsens, who currently life in Corpus Christi, TX. Our kids hadn't seen each other in 3 years but it seemed like not a day had passed since we were neighbors in Omaha and playing together almost daily. We met when Mason & Whitney were tiny babies and now they are 6! L-R: Whitney, Spencer, Mason, Matthew, Mitchell & Parker. Of course there were no photos taken of the adults but we took lots together when we went on a cruise with them last June...see earlier posts. We returned to a frigid January, quickly reminding us of many of our reasons for wanting out of the midwest! It was less than negative 15 degrees for a few days in a row, so cold that they canceled school two days in a row. The wind chill made is around 30-40 below zero during the day! Of course during that time is was over 70 in Corpus Christi when I caught up with Koryn, pointing out that her temperature was 85 degrees higher than ours! YUCK!!! I so look forward to the day when shoveling icy snow is just a faint memory. Here's what our house looked like for several weeks straight. The computer in our van read like this :Matthew and Mason didn't seem to mind the cold and helped me shovel the driveway a few times. Thanks, boys! We literally didn't leave the house for a week. I left a cup in the van with ice left over from a fountain drink and after 5 days it was still full ice cubes like it was a new drink. They melted inside before I thought of taking a photo but the kids thought it was quite funny. I let Maggie & Maguire play in the tub every morning just for something to do.... Matthew turned 9 on January 6th but we flew home from Utah that day...the day that I spent having the worst stomach flu of my life -- worse than any day pregnant with any of our 5 kids!!! Mike was great with the kids (except for feeding Maggie red licorice for the last hour of the flight) and I am thankful to the amazing flight attendant who helped me so much and also grateful that our flight was not full. Maggie didn't get sick till we got to the baggage claim area (losing all the red licorice all over the floor) and the other boys were sick in the days after we got home. Mike never got sick of course, he rarely does but even after being gone for so long, he called his boss to say that he couldn't come back yet, he had to stay home to take care of his wife and kids. What a sweetie! We finally celebrated Matthew's birthday on the 12th. Our house had been on the market over a year when Kodiak & Elise moved into our ward at church. We've quickly become close and are grateful for their friendship. We've hung out for no reason, traded kids and had a few Friday Night game nights, staying up till ridiculous hours of the early morning just laughing and playing cards -- thanks guys -- you will make it much harder to leave here someday! Elise has become Mitchell's math tutor, employer (for babysitting) and my gym partner. It's always more fun when you go with someone and she's such a trooper to still be going when she's expecting her 2nd baby in September. We keep wondering what's wrong with them that they would actually enjoy hanging out with the chaos that is our house and family right now....we are grateful for your friendship and look forward to many more game nights!This is their daughter, Alexa. She turned 2 in November. She's mature for her age and gets along great with Maggie & Maguire. In January the twins decided they were ready to be potty trained. Alexa spends enough time with us that she went along with it and now they are all completely potty trained. After changing diapers for over 12 1/2 years it is such a relief to see those days GONE FOREVER. (Okay, maybe we'll help with grandkids someday but that is so much different than all day, every day, for 12+ years!!!) Maggie and Maguire fell asleep on their couch recently when Elise watched them during the boys basketball games when Mike was out of town. We both agree that we NEVER want triplets! It can be a handful to have them all together but it's so much fun to have friends over to play. We enjoy our time with Alexa very much--we really truly do! When we got home from California, after not using high chairs for almost 2 weeks, we realized we just didn't need them any more. I never had full-sized high chairs for any of the other kids but they were awesome high chairs and I recommend them to anyone in the market. (They were the Chicco Polly model.) After being a part of our kitchen for almost 3 years, it was bittersweet to see them go but I sold them on craigslist to a new mom of twins. Oh what fun she is in for! So that's a recap of the last few months. We're looking forward to seeing Grandma Forsyth during her visit at the end of the month. She agreed to watch the kids so Mike can take me on another cruise -- this time on the Ruby Princess with a balcony cabin...I can hardly wait! We leave on the twins 3rd birthday but we'll celebrate early!