Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting paid to throw things out

With the renovation of our backyard completed earlier this summer, there was one major thing left to do -- removing the old patio stones.

Since the May long weekend, these two foot by two foot stones have been leaning against the side of my house collecting dirt, becoming a home for bug colonies and generally taking up space. But forgetfulness, laziness and a little bit of miscommunication made the stay all summer long.

You see, I thought Ryan said he was going to dump them. And he thought I was going to put them on Craigslist because I once made a quick comment to that regard. Whichever we were going to do, neither of us did anything, and they sat there.

Until last week when I got tired of them and posted them on Craigslist. I didn't have much hope of selling them -- it is afterall almost October -- but I figured what the heck. The worst that could happen is that no one showed interest and the stones continue to sit there all fall and winter.

In my posting, I did not quote a price. Instead, I told interested buyers to 'make an offer'. The only catch was, whoever wanted them, had to come pick them up.

And, within three hours I had five offers and by the next morning I had 10 more! After quickly mulling through them, I e-mailed back the guy who offered me $60 for all 40 stones. And the morning after that, he pulled up into my driveway and hauled them all away.

In other words, I had these heavy stones removed from the side of my house and I was given $60 for this effort. Whereas, to throw them out, Ryan was going to have to haul them to the dump himself and then pay the City for the right to dump them.

Let me tell you...I'm now looking around my house for any other so-called garbage I can have someone pick up and pay me for.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Losing weight on the 'I have two young kids' diet

My mother once told me that the thinest she ever was in her adult life was in the months following the birth of my sister. My sister is 29 months younger than me, so in those sleep-deprived months of caring for an infant, she was also chasing after the two and a half year old me.

I now understand the secret to her success.

Since Alex was born, I've shed all my pregnancy weight plus six extra pounds (which is nice because I was holding on to some weight from my first pregnacy). And, I can pretty much say that I've done it without trying.

I eat when I'm hungry and I eat whatever we have (although I should note that we don't tend to stock much junk food or desserts in our house). Although eating well has something to do it -- I'm pretty sure I'm burning more calories per day than I consume. In other words, I'm getting enough exercise.

Without working out.

At least three days a week, I push two kids in a stroller. That's about 50 pounds worth of kids. Some days are short walks to the park or to the store, but other days are long adventures -- such as a trip to the zoo. Pushing 50 pounds of kids is a good workout on a flat road and a REALLY good workout when you have to go uphill.

But it's not just when I'm out that I'm getting exercise because when I'm at home, I rarely have time to sit down during the day. Because when I'm playing with Austin we're pushing cars around the basement, dancing to one of his CDs or playing chase around the living room. Sometimes I even end up doing these things while carrying a fussy Alex around.

Regardless of what I'm doing at home during the day, it's certainly not like my first maternity leave where I could sit on the floor with Austin and watch him play with a toy.

So now that I've managed to lose this much weight without trying, I'm going to actually put a little effort into and see if I can lose nine or 10 more pounds. Because I'll admit, in the last few years I've been holding on to a few more pounds than I'd like. I'm not going to join a gym or start dieting -- but I figure if I just pay attention to the little things I've been doing these last few months, the pounds will continue to slowly drop away.

It's a shame this weight loss strategy can't work for the stretch marks my pregnancies left behind.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

As (bad) luck would have it

On Monday morning, as I got in my SUV to take the kids to the zoo, I remembered that the gas light had been on all weekend. So my first stop was the nearest gas station where I paid $1.34 a litre -- or a total of $89 to fill my tank.

On Tuesday, the price of gas went down to $1.26.

On Wednesday evening, I took the Civic out to meet my sister for a drink. As I was driving home, the gas light made an appearance so, I decided to fill the car up, rather than leaving Ryan with an empty tank to drive to Mississauga in the morning. I paid $1.26 a litre for a total of almost $50.

This morning, as I drove Austin to the sitter's, I passed a gas station. The price was $1.19.

This afternoon, I heard that gas prices will be another six cents or so lower on Friday. So fill up, goodness knows I don't have to -- I have two full tanks of gas.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

You'll do anything for your kids...

Do you know the commercial where a man is hopping like a bunny down a flight of stairs in what looks to be a public park? Then in the next shot a little girl comes into the picture, also hopping like a bunny -- while the voiceover says 'you'd do anything for your kids'.

That's how I feel everytime Austin asks me to put the Chicken Dance song and then insists that I dance with him.

Last month, at Ryan's mom's wedding, my sister-in-laws taught Austin how to do the chicken dance. It was cute, I'll admit it. But the chicken dance is one of those annoying wedding songs that many people -- myself included -- try to avoid. YMCA is ok in my books -- as is Time Warp -- but the Chicken Dance is a must-avoid on the dance floor.

But watching Austin dance to it was harmless fun. Until we got home and he discovered that his Dance, Baby Dance CD had the Chicken Dance song on it. So, the Chicken Dance is now his favourite song to listen to -- replacing Raffi's Baby Beluga and Joshua Giraffe. And that means, at least twice day he asks me to put the song on.

And at least twice a day, I get to pretend I'm two years old again and dance with him around his room.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Now I have 'a guy'

I always wondered how you found 'a guy'.

You know, 'the guy' so-and-so goes to whenever something is wrong with their car. This 'guy' will do anything from oil changes to new tires to fixing that noisy rattle your car makes every time you hit the brakes. This 'guy' works at a little neighbourhood car shop in a place that's like a hole-in-the-wall restaurant -- a place you wouldn't go to unless someone tells you to. Some people have 'a guy' and other people, like me, simply take the car back to the dealer time after time because they don't know where else to go.

For years I took my now-almost nine year old Civic back to the Honda dealer everytime it needed service. And I've always been very diligent about sticking to the service schedule -- especially when the car was still under warranty.

But the warranty has long since run out and the car is creeping into middle age -- that magical car age when, if a car has been well-maintained in the early years it's now needing regular wear-and-tear replacements.

I spent years not having a clue what a Honda service representative was saying when insisting that the whatchamacallit part was in desperate need of replacement all the while I waited in a fancy showroom and my car was nowhere to be seen. I never knew if the so-called service representative was telling me the truth or trying to make a sale.

So, last fall, when I needed a new muffler, I took it to a Midas shop.

It was obvious that I needed a new muffler, because my car sounded like one of those souped-up Civics, and even a service representative couldn't have pulled a fast-0ne on me on this one.

But the guy at Midas almost went out of his way to explain the problem and give me the lay of the land -- walking me around and under my car when it was up on the hoist. Then he claimed to knock 25 per cent off the posted price of the new parts I needed.

Whether he knocked the price down or not wasn't the issue, I liked not being treated like an idiot and not being told I had to fix problems on my car that I couldn't see and didn't know existed.

So, the next time I needed a oil change, I went back to Midas. And then I needed a new timing belt. And then I needed a new driver's side mirror. Each time, no one talked down to me and, to tell it like it is, no one treated me like a girl in a car shop.

Then last month, I get a call from a guy at a shop in Scarborough. The owner of the Midas shop I had gone to sold the business and had set up his own private business. So, last week I took the car there for an oil change and maintenance checkup.

He remembered me from the Midas shop, fixed my car up in a hurry -- even taking the time to show me small areas of concern but telling me I could hold off several more months before repairs were needed -- and sent me on my way with a discount from the prices posted over his register.

I guarantee that when those repairs are needed he'll be the 'guy' that'll make them. So, after nine years and 185,000 kilometres, my car has finally found its 'guy'.

Friday, September 05, 2008

It wasn't as bad as we thought it would be

It turns out the leak in the bathroom was from the shower behind the wall.

But thankfully it was right on the inside of the knob. This means the plumber was able to remove the knob and face plate, tinker around in there and put everything back where it was. Although, we did need a new part or two -- which, of course, didn't come free. But think of all the money we saved by not having to put in a new wall!

So, the walls are intact and there's no drip-drip-drip anymore. Hopefully everything will remain that way.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The joys of home ownership

Last night, after the kids were finally in bed, I went down to the furnace room to clean the cat litter for garbage night. And from the other side of the room, I heard a not-so-subtle drip, drip, drip -- a noise you shouldn't be hearing in a room without a sink.

Sure enough, water was dripping from the ceiling. I called Ryan to investigate and after some poking around he figured out where it was coming from, and the news isn't good.

Directly above our furnace room is our bathroom. And the part of our bathroom that's dripping appears to be from behind the shower wall.

I promptly called a plumber.

And by this time tomorrow some guy will likely be hammering a hole through my bathroom tiles to get to the pipes. At least I've always wanted a new bathroom in the house. And by default, I may soon get one.