Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays: The Debt Story Pt 3


Thank you Melissa for making a button for Remember When Wednesdays! Isn't it cute??? I'm embarrassed to admit I still have no idea how to put the code on here so you can put it on your site but Melissa is patient and loving and will help me along. Right? Please?!
And thank you for your interest in our adventure to debt freedom! I honestly thought no one really wanted to hear it and all the comments I received asking me to finish it have been really encouraging. As requested, here is the next chapter in the saga. Oh, and you can click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.)

I stared at the paystub in disbelief. $200 over our budgeted amount. I burst into tears; I was so relieved I didn't know how else to respond. Mike wrapped me up in a hug. "Honey, God is taking care of us!"
We were going to be able to pay all the bills. We were going to more than be able to pay the bills. We were going to have a little extra. Anything over one hour of overtime would give us more than we needed; not only would we be able to pay all our bills but we would have money to be able to put into our savings account. The weight that had been holding me down seemed to be loosening; I was afraid to be too hopeful and optimistic, but so far, Mike was right. We were being taken care of.
"I'll be working Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving, which is double time and a half, then I get paid for the day after. We'll have more than enough money for Christmas." He smiled down at me. I love that smile.
Thanksgiving came and went and just like he had said, Mike made enough money to pay for our Christmas. I was thankful, beyond thankful, that we were able to give our children any sort of Christmas. I looked back over the last year, remembering the stress Mike had endured with the small City and how the opportunity to transfer departments seemed to drop into his lap. I remembered how quickly he had been hired; it had only taken weeks instead of months. I remembered how he had received a pay raise that finally gave us some breathing room and how instead of using the raise to dig us out of our  hole we had used it to dig the hole deeper. And I remembered how clearly God had spoken to both of us; how He had grabbed our attention and finally we had listened and how every pay period since He had given Mike opportunity for overtime. I remembered how good it felt to see the minmum payment on our credit card go down every month, even if only by two or three dollars. Despite our stubborness and stupidity God was blessing us and providing for us in ways I hadn't expected. I still struggled with my "wants" though. I missed having cable and since cancelling our gym membership I had gained some weight. I knew I could blame a few pounds on the holidays but my pants were getting tight and that frustrated me. I sometimes felt frustrated that I had to make dinner at home every night; that we weren't going on many dates. I tried to focus on the good that had happened regardless. My heart was very full and I found myself growing emotional every time I thought of where we had been and where we were heading. It seemed my emotions were getting the best of me quite a bit.
On Januray first I woke up and looked at Mike sleeping next to me. I gently shook him. "Honey," I whispered. "Honey!"
He opened one eye and smiled at me.
"You get the cost of living raise today!"
"I had hoped you had something else on your mind," he teased.
"I'm all about the money," I teased back.
We giggled together, happy to start our year off on such a sweet note.

***

As the weeks to the first full paycheck in January approached I could feel the tension easing out of my shoulders. Thinking about money still made me emotional (come to think of it just about everything was making me emotional) but I knew the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was getting closer every day.
I needed to go grocery shopping and called my mom to see if she wanted to go with me. The kids and I picked her up and we headed out to WinCo, the cheapest grocery store around. I only had $40 to buy groceries for the week and I was feeling stressed, the responsibilty of feeding my family of five staring me down. My mom always made me feel better. She empathized appropriately agreeing that my budget didn't afford for much but reminded me of our end goal and how mac 'n cheese had been good enough for me; it would be good enough for my kids. She took the older boys around the store with her while I took B with me and browsed the aisles looking for the cheapest cereals, meats and soy milk I could find. At the end when I was ready to check out I stared at my calculator. I was over budget by $3. I looked at my cart comparing what I saw to what was on my list; there was nothing I could put back. I had an extra $5 in my wallet that I had planned on using for a Starbucks later. I exhaled as the frustration once again welled up inside me and I moved the $5 out of my wallet. I choked down tears of disappointment as I began loading groceries onto the conveyor belt. My mom rubbed my back. "Honey, I can give you five bucks," she tried to reassure me. I didn't want her to. I wanted to do this on my own regardless of how painful it was. I felt like I had to pay pennance for our financial mistakes. But I really wanted Starbucks. I felt like a toddler, ready to throw a tantrum because I didn't get my way. I felt foolish, being upset over something so trivial. I tried reminding myself of all the starving children, of the homeless people, of all those in need and all I wanted was a stinking Starbucks. I could part with $5 to feed my own family, couldn't I? I hoped I could guilt myself into feeling better about my "sacrifice" but I had become bitter that I couldn't get what I wanted.
"$38," the cashier said from behind her register. I stared at her, dumbfounded. I didn't think I heard her correctly. Only $38? How had I mis-calculated so much? I checked my cart and then the belt to make sure I hadn't missed something. Everything was there. I slowly handed her my two 20's and my cheeks burned with embarrassment as I put the $5 back in my wallet, thankful no one could read my thoughts. As she handed me my change I began to sob. I couldn't stop crying. It was the dirty kind of crying, the blubbering, can't talk, can't breathe kind. The cashier looked at me, a little alarmed, and then at my mom.
My mom stared at me briefly before exclaiming a loud and awkward "Thank you!" to the cashier as she pushed me forward, grabbed the boys hands and moved us toward the exit. I could barely walk I was crying so hard. It was a mixture of relief and disbelief, and disappointment that for a moment I genuinly believed I was making a huge sacrifice; that I was giving up so much because God hadn't given us enough. Why was I so fickle? Wasn't it just this morning that I was excited about what God had been providing? Why couldn't I just trust Him all the time? Why couldn't I even trust Him to get me a stupid Starbucks?
When the groceries were unloaded and the kids were buckled in my mom and I sat silently in the front of the car. I had finally settled down a bit. My mom put her hand on my knee and looked at me with love.
"Honey," she said, "I think you and Mike should talk about taking a pregnancy test."

To be continued...

Monday, June 28, 2010

Confession

I gained some weight in Canada. What gives? I mean, really. I know better.
Stupid Dairy Queen with it's stupid ice cream cake.
Stupid chocolate with it's stupid caramelly insides.
Stupid pizza with it's stupid cheesy awesome-ness.

Today I went back to My Fitness Pal and started all over. Well, not all over. I'm not that obsessed.

Except, IboughtabikiniatTargetlastweekforouranniversaryinFebruary.

What, exactly, was I thinking? Why am I putting this much pressure on myself?

The thing is, I'm not fat. I don't need to lose any more weight. But what I do need to do is ... well, look. I've had four kids. I could pass for a zebra with the amount of strech marks on my stomach. And also my stomach has been blown up (and deflated) like a balloon about ... four ... times. And these hips. These are baby-birthing machines. I just noticed that my little behind kind of just hangs there now. And I did breastfeed four children so any, uh, perkiness? What's that?

And yet, my husband picks up an itty bitty teeny bikini and says, "Now THIS is what I'm talking about!" and does the whole eye brow thing and grabs my butt and kisses my neck and I think, "Oh, perhaps I could pull that off."

Except when I get home and put it on and look in the mirror I notice that I can't. Don't even try. Just leave it alone Momma.

But then Mike locks our bedroom door and assures me that he seems to think I can.

Anyway, we'll be in Hawaii or Mexico or at least at a hotel with a heated pool and won't know anyone so maybe I'll just trust him.

Maybe.

Either way, this post isn't getting a picture.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Highlights



Heh heh. Best sign ever.

Did you know that if you keep a 22 month old in a car seat for 5 hours straight (ok...with one little 5 minute break to let him run) that he will scream "Hold you!" for 40 of the last 90 minutes of your journey?

Did you know that you can't use your debit card with a MasterCard logo on it as a debit card in Canada?
Did you that you will gain six pounds if you eat Canadian candy for snacks and DQ ice cream cake for dessert every day for five days in a row?
Did you know that if a Grizzley bear attacks you and you play dead it will leave you alone? But if a black bear attacks you and you play dead it will eat you anyway?
Did you know hot springs smell like a perm?
Did you know that Canadians really truly say "eh?" and it is really cute?
Did you know that moose babies are called "calves" and deer babies are called "fawns" and bear babies are called "cubs"?
I didn't. I now consider myself educated.

Seriously though, what a fantastic trip. I was so nervous about how the kids would handle the 10 hour car ride. We broke it up with an overnight stay in Kamloops, BC on the way there and back. Thank God. We all were on edge by the time we stopped so it was good fore-sight on Mike's end. I was also nervous about how we would handle spending five days with Mike's sister and her family. We have always got along just fine but invading with our family of six can be overwhelming; it went splendidly.
There was so many great things we did, so many awesome things we saw but for me the highlight was simply spending time with Rebekah, Mike's sister.
When Mike and I got married she was in her senior year of High School. She was self-absorbed (being a teenager and all) and so was I (planning a wedding and all). She went to school in Canada the next year, then spent some time in Hawaii with YWAM, then back to Canada, then she married Adam, graduated from college, and then he was hired by Alberta fish and wildlife and now they live in Hinton. In the meantime, Mike and I were busy making babies, raising babies, trying to figure out how to survive on minimal sleep and getting into (and out of) debt so although Rebekah and I have always got along well and had good conversation we never really had taken the time to get to know each other. After spending a week with her, in her home, and watching her be a mother and a wife, and being able to actually talk with her and get to know her on a more intimate level...well, I'm blessed. So my highlight was getting to know my sister-in-law. Maybe that sounds silly but for me it was huge.
If you have the patience here is a sampling of the bajillion pictures I took. I cannot wait to go back again next year.



Self-explanatory.


Babies make everyone happy.

The smoking gun. Oh ya.

My three boys.

B loves butterflies. She patiently waited for me to take the picture then started hopping up and down, kicking her foot around and screaming "EW! Get off bug!"

Big horn sheep. This one is a female (small horns) but she should be having a baby right now. She wasn't so instead she was chilling by the hot springs.

B and cousin Em.

Here are the very scary black bears. They were on the side of the raod just munching away.

I love this. They are all so happy!

Across the street from my sister-in-laws is a boardwalk that goes around a beaver dam. It was so cool! We actually saw a beaver.

My boys picked these tiger lily's and blue belles for me during their fishing trip.

My baby and my Baby. My heart is pitter-pattering.

You'd be screaming to!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh Canada!

I have found a quick moment while Mike and the older boys have gone out with Uncle Adam to fish and my other two are sleeping to do a quick post on our vacation.

Canada. Oh. My. Lordy.
Or more specifically, the Canadian Rockies. Really really oh my Lordy.

I have been surprised by how much I have been enjoying our stay here. I'm not really an out-doorsy type of gal and I was nervous about all the outdoor things we were going to be doing. However, this trip is changing that for me. Really truly changing that. Not only are we getting to spend time with Mike's sister and her family but her husband just happens to be a fish and wildlife officer so we are getting to experience the outdoors with an expert guide! We are having so much fun and Nature ... just. Wow.

So far the big highlights for the kids have been the baby deer that Uncle Adam rescued and they were able to feed. So sweet. They also got a huge kick out of the black bear and her two cubs that were mere feet from our car, the hordes of mountain goats and big horn sheep, elk and white-tail deer. And jumping on the hotel bed on our stay-over in Kamlooops...of course.

I'll have much more to post once we get home but I just wanted to share a quick little picture and give a shout out to Hinton. Small town Canada ... I am fond of you. In the summer. You still ain't gonna get me in the winter.

Near the source of the Miette Hot Springs in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada

Friday, June 18, 2010

What I'm doing instead


We are leaving soon for a vacation to visit Mike's sister. We've never been to where she and her husband and their two girls live and we're super excited to finally see everything that they call home.

I have made a list of my "to-do's". This list includes (but is not limited to) :
* Sweeping and mopping our floor. The moppoing is long overdue. Long as in, I'll probably have to get down on my hands and knees in order to get some of the gunk off. This is disgusting. I know. Please don't judge me.
* Dusting the house. A-choo!
* Changing the sheets on all the kids' beds.
* Vacuuming. If I find one more random piece of oatmeal stuck to my foot I may have to scream.
* Cleaning, sweeping and mopping the master bedroom. It really should be our sanctuary but it's become the storage closet. Bleh.
* Cleaning both bathrooms.
* Doing laundry.
* Taking said done laundry and packing into suitcases.

This list does not include laying in bed with my husband for an hour, eating dark chocolate or painting my toenails. Yet ...







I guess some things are a little more important than house work and packing.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

And THAT my friends, is the million dollar question.

A few months ago my cousin Tonya was over (hey Ton!) and we were talking about my teensy weensy house and I blurted out something that I thought I'd never say. Well, I blurted out two things I thought I'd never say.

1) People have had larger families in smaller homes than mine.
(Ok, it actually sounded something like (in a high pitched ferver) 'I mean serioulsy Tonya! People have had BIGGER families in SMALLER spaces? Right?!')
2) (Again with ferver, but this time less high pitched as I was wondering where on Earth these words coming out of my mouth were coming from) 'The thing is, God has given us so much. Maybe I should just be content with what He's given me and quit whining about the rest.'

I took the hint (from myself? God?) and told Mike that God was changing me; that I was learning how to be content with what we currently had and that my eyes were starting to focus more on the now and less on the future.

So, instead of saving $40,000 for an additon and having to scrimp for ten years and never go on vacation, we spent $2,000 and redid our kitchen. It looks brand new. And with this minor remodel, we completely changed the look and feel of our entire home. And even though our kids are still sharing bedrooms, for some reason, the house feels, and looks, much bigger. I realized that with my change of heart, that with simply being content and working with what we have I actually got what I wanted. Sweet, right?



Trust me, it didn't look nearly as nice two months ago.

Then, a month or so ago while at my friend Emily's house, while eating her homemade scones and drinking her French pressed coffee, she said something that rocked my world. She simply stated that she had started looking at being a home-maker as her career choice, and once she did that, things started to change for her. Not in a real drastic way, but in subtle ways; making more homemade foods for example.

That really got me thinking. That night while taking a shower I told Mike what she had said and I told him that it really resonated with me and I wondered what that meant for me? If home-making was my "career" what kind of career choices should I be making? What kind of things should I be doing to better my career? How could I make myself more marketable? And Mike, in typical male fashion, asked me, "So, what are you going to do about it?"

That was it - the million dollar question.

I realized I'd slowly been making small changes up to that point already - such as baking and being content with what I had instead of always wanting for more (that's a work in progress by the way) - but I really wondered what the big changes were going to be.

Through a small series of events I realized a major change would be cancelling my Facebook page. I know that sounds silly. Really silly. But Facebook...that danged Facebook...ate up a lot of my time. So, it had to go. For two days I had withdrawls. How sad is that? No one knew what I was doing; I didn't know anything that was going on! Somehow, some way, I managed to survive, although it was weird going to bed without looking at my phone for status updates and for awhile I would stare blankly at our computer screen wondering "What should I even do with this thing?"

Then I made homemade granola for the first time. What a simple thing to do...simple, yet totally major. Making my own cereal?

So, besides canceling Facebook and making my own cereal (and bread, and donuts and brownies...wow. Carbs much?) I'm still wondering...What am I going to do? What can I do to make myself a better home maker?

I'm not exactly sure ... but I'll let you know as I begin to figure it out.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm putty ... and he knows it.

Last night Mike said I was beautiful. (kiss kiss)
Then he said I was more than beautiful. (kiss ... kiss kiss)
That I was also intelligent. (kiss kiiiiiiss)
Brilliant even. (kiss kiss)

It worked.

I am putty in that man's hands.

Back to the beginning

So, here we are.

One year later. Yikes.

I have enjoyed being a "police wife" blogger, but recently have felt a little out of place. Being a police wife doesn't really define me. I figure this is because being a police officer doesn't really define Mike. He loves what he does; it gives him purpose and a sense of 'doing something' about the troubles in the world. It really isn't who he is though. I'm thankful for that.

What does define me? I've spent a bit trying to figure this out. As '50's as it sounds, being a wife and mom does. Everything I do stems from those two things. I really love everything about those two things.

So, I'm back. Ready to blog, ready to write, ready to just be me.

We'll see how this goes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Before ... and ... After!

My apologies to anyone reading this who doesn't know me and has never been to my house. Since you never knew/saw the "Before" you probably won't care much about the "After". I, however, am over the moon excited about the "After" and so ... I share.




Say, does this butt make me look fat?
(*Side note...this was taken at my surprise 30th birthday party...hence the pink wings. Although I would love to wear pink wings from the Dollar Tree every day of my life. Not.)

To all my friends and family who said I looked just fine - liars - thank you for being nice to me and sparing my feelings. Don't ever, never let me get that fat again.

I honestly don't feel like sharing an "after" picture of my butt. I will say that those jeans I'm wearing in the above picture, I gave to my friend who just had a baby. Either I was really fat or my friend is losing her baby weight at an incredible rate. Perhaps both? Regardless, 23 pounds later, two pants sizes smaller, and I'm feeling much healthier and less ... plumpish. Thank you Jillian Michaels and My Fitness Pal. You saved me from a lifetime of pictures that I am embarrassed to be a part of.

Now onto the really truly very exciting Before and After's. The kitchen!! Although we aren't quite finished, it's basically done. All that is left is some finish work (trim, cabinet knobs, etc.) and I am thrilled to have construction finally coming to a halt.
Again, more apologies as I over-share our journey.


S and B, helping Dad clean out the shed to make room for all our other junk...er, treasures.


The "Before" in the hallway.


The "Before" for the play room.


"Before" the demo, but "After" we cleaned up a bit!


My laundry room "Before". In the kitchen. And overcrowded. I am organizationally challenged.


This is my dear sweet Father in Law. I love this picture because it captures completely the confusion he and Officer Hottie felt every time they opened a wall. I believe a good caption would be ... "Wha....???"


Sadly, this is my refridgerator "Before". Ugh. Double ugg. UGG!
 

The wall. "Before" Have I mentioned that I am organizationally challenged?


With a little bit of help...



My hallway now looks like this.
 


Still a messy fridge but at least it's out of the way and I now have a pantry right next to it! (Sorry for the lighting issues...I was too excited to post these to take the time to edit.)


The view from the dining room.


The view from the hallway.


The view from the sink. Haha! My poor kids can't get away with anything now! I can see it ALL!! Mua-haha!

Some of my new favorite features are...


This prep table that OH put together for me. I love that handy man of mine.


This little spice rack. There are a few "S" hooks that we have and I am hanging my measuring cups and spoons from them. How handy!


Under cabinet lighting. Right above the prep table. LOVE IT.

So, that's it. My "Before" and "After" post. If you are still reading you should eat a bowl of ice cream. You've earned it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays : Or ... not.

I wanted to sit down and write an entire post about the next chapter in our getting out of debt saga ... because I'm sure you've been waiting on pins and needles. Right? Right? Hello?

However ...

We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel. I am so proud of the work Officer Hottie is doing - he has made me a new laundry room (er...closet), a pantry, installed new countertops and removed a wall to name a few things. In six weeks. He's amazing. And completely stressed. 

Considering his truck literally caught on fire when he left work on Sunday ...
"Honey, I'm stopping by Lowe's on my way home to pick up the rest of the stuff we need!"
(Five minutes later)
"Honey, I need you to come pick me up because my truck is on fire. The FD is putting it out right now."
... I'm cutting him some slack. The man is allowed to be stressed.

In my attempt to help with his stress level I told him I would paint the ceilings (which still have the paint splotches from when I painted the living room walls last year ) and finish the tile backsplash. I know as much about this kind of work as...well, most women, I guess. I am having fun though and it feels good to actually help my husband with a project instead of folding laundry and offering him another cookie every three minutes.

So, between the car and the kitchen I haven't found time to sit down and write about our debt story. But I will. Because even if no one reads it, it is good for me to remember where we've come from, especially now that we are back down to one car and the prospect of spending another summer without a way to get the kids to the park and play dates is a little discouraging. It's time to buck up and practice what we preach...save save save!!

For those of you wanting to "see what happens next" I promise to get it out there soon. As soon as the ceilings are painted, the backsplash is tiled, the counter tops are sealed, the cabinets are painted and the last load of laundry has been folded and put away. Or something like that.


See how stressed these poor children are? See?
Seriously though, thank God for carboard boxes. Can I get an amen?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tidbits from a Day in the Life in the Hottie Household

Because I canceled my Facebook and blogging is my last public outlet ...

1. B: I'm not a tattle tale. I don't even have a tail.
    Me: Being a tattle tale means telling stories, or tales, about people. Yes, you are a tattle tale.
    B: But I don't have a tail.

2. J: I just farted two times. (pauses) I mean three.
    Me: (Febreeze)

3. Me to S: Do you want to go potty in the toilet?
    S: No.
    Me: You don't want to be a big boy?
    S: No.
    Me: So, all those underwear I just bought? Nothing?
    S: (farts. poops in pants.)

4. Officer Hottie: I still can't believe my truck caught on fire.
    Me: (nervous laughter) (crying)

5. L: Mom, I know a way you and Dad can never pay for a baby sitter again.
    Me: Really? How?
    L: You. You and Dad. (runs away, proud of himself.)

6: Me: (glass of wine)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays: The Debt Story Pt 2

(To read Part One of the Debt Story go HERE.)

"I don't get it!" I exclaimed with frustration.
"What's wrong?" Officer Hottie asked as he sat down next to me on the bed.
"I can't seem to get this budget form to work for us. When I fill in all the blanks we come up short. Really short. It's just that we can't be that far off - there has to be something wrong with my math. There is just no way that we are coming up so negative every month."
"You're probably just missing something."
I sighed. "I don't think so. After our mortgage, car payment, credit card payment, car insurance, phone bill and utilities we hardly have anything left for groceries or gas, let alone tithing, gifts, oil changes or anything else."
"Don't worry so much," he tried to reassure me. "I'm sure Dawn will have some insight."
I sincerely hoped he was right. We were almost at the 30 day mark, and Dawn, the financial class instructor, had promised if we kept track of our expenses for 30 days she would sit down with us and come up with a working spending plan. The class had been good for me, although most of the information I already knew, I'd just never put it into practice.
Dawn had said to get $1000 put into an emergency savings account. I wondered where we'd come up with $1000 when we could barely come up with the $245 to make our credit card payment. She said never refinance your mortgage and tie up your credit cards and car payments into the mortgage payment; that within one year the credit card bill would be back up to where it had been. I wondered if she'd looked at our last refi. We'd rolled a $15,000 car loan and an $11,000 credit card into our mortgage...and 10 months later we had a new car with a new payment and our credit card balance was at the $11,000 mark again.  Yikes. She said to pay cash for everything. I wondered how in the world it was possible. Never use a credit card?

The next week Officer Hottie and I headed over to our church to meet with Dawn. We were excited to finally get a plan for our money. I was hopeful that she would be able to find a way for us to not only make our payments, but maybe even have a little extra.
I handed over all our bills, our list of expenses we'd kept track of and our pile of one-time expenses (like our dentist bill we hadn't paid yet), smiled and asked her to work her magic. Dawn was so gracious; I'd liked her the minute I met her. She had worked her way out of a mountain of debt so I felt comfortable letting her look at our situation. She seemed to have it all together and I admired that about her. Her husband had been injured and unable to work so she bore the burden of getting the debt worked out on her own. She had inspired and encouraged me and I felt that having her on our side was going to be a huge help.
Quietly Dawn looked over our transactions. She paused when she got to the last one, a charge to the credit card at Claim Jumper the night before. She looked up at us. "This," she said, circling the charge with her finger, "can't happen anymore. You guys are in no position to be going out for dinner right now. You have a very tough road ahead of you."
There it was, plain as day. We were in trouble and she had called us out on it.
I laughed nervously as she looked back at our paperwork and began making columns. At the top of each column she had OH's take home pay. Underneath she began making lists; mortgage payment, food, auto, insurance, etc. She used a pencil and would write numbers under each column, often erasing and rearranging. She paused every so often to ask us questions: "Is this a recurring bill or a one time bill?" "Is it possible to spend less money on gasoline?" "Have you ever considered clipping coupons?" "Is this cable AND internet?" Each question, each erase, left me more and more worried. I wondered if I had been right, if we really were that far behind every month.
Finally, after lots of math, Dawn looked up at us.
"I think this budget can work. But it'll be tough and you have to be committed. You can do it though." She handed us the paper she had put together. Officer Hottie and I leaned in to read it.
The first thing that stuck out to me was tithing. She had left it blank.
"Wait, what about tithing?" I asked. "Where's the money for tithing?"
Dawn looked at me kindly, but somewhat sadly. "If you tithe, which you can do, you won't have money to pay your mortgage, or make your car payment, or feed your children. It's up to you, because you have to follow your convictions, but I'm telling you, if you tithe, you will not be able to make it."
"Can't the money come from anywhere else?" Officer Hottie asked. "I mean, I'm sure we can cut money somewhere."
Line by line Dawn showed us what we were up against.
A mortgage payment that was 51% of OH's take home pay. A car payment. A credit card payment that was almost as much as the car payment. Utilities. $321 a month to spend on groceries, diapers, toilet paper and shampoo. For our family of five. I kept trying to smile but reality was quickly sinking in. We had spent so long over-spending and it had finally caught up and over taken us. When everything was said and done, simply to pay our bills OH was going to have to work a minimum of one hour of overtime every pay period.
"Ok. Ok. Ok." I think I felt that if I kept saying 'ok' than everything really would be ok.
"You have to cancel your gym membership, reduce your cell phone plan, cancel cable, not drive around so much and get that overtime if you guys want to stay afloat. If you want to keep your home and your car," Dawn said matter-of-factly.
"Ok."
She sighed. "Here's what I want  you to do. If OH gets more than one hour of overtime, you need to think of something you want to do with that money. What do you guys like to do?"
"Eat," we said at the same time.
She laughed. "Ok. So, if you get more than one hour of OT, you get to go out to dinner. Then anything extra you put towards your savings until you get $1000."
"What about Christmas?" I asked, fearful of the answer.
Before she could respond Officer Hottie spoke. "I work Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving," he reminded me. "We'll use that money for Christmas." I was relieved. I really didn't want our children to pay for our mistakes. "Plus," he added, "I get a CPI raise the first of the year, and my step raise soon after that."
"Excellent!" Dawn replied. "Use your tax refund to finish putting the $1000 you need in savings, put about $500 aside for clothes, because your kids will need new clothing, and then put the rest toward your debt. It will only be tough for a short time."
I felt slightly better, but it was only October and we wouldn't be seeing any raises for three months. On top of that, overtime was never guaranteed.
We packed up our things, left the church and got into our car. The car I had been so proud of, so excited to start driving. I now looked at it as a weight that was sinking our family. I plopped into the passenger seat and began crying. Sobbing. How did we let this happen?
Before we left the church's parking lot, Officer Hottie was on the phone. He canceled our cable, took text messaging, internet and the extra minutes off our phone plan. He canceled the gym membership.
"We can't do this," I said.
Officer Hottie grabbed my hand and gave it a firm squeeze.
"We can do this," he stated. "We can and we will."
"We can and we will," I repeated.
I was so thankful one of us had confidence and I tried to remember that three months really isn't a very long time.


To be continued...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Obsessed.

I have had an epiphany. Actually, I had this particular epiphany awhile ago, but recently it has taken more of a front seat in my life.

I love baking. Love.

My recent baking obsession began during our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in April. J asked if we would buy him a giant pretzel. I saw the $4 price tag and promptly stated that I could make better ones at home and he'd have to wait. He whined and begged and pleaded but I was not persuaded and when we arrived home I began my quest for making the perfect giant soft pretzel. I tried two recipes that came up lacking. The kids didn't complain, in fact, they really enjoyed them, but I knew deep in my heart of hearts, there had to be something better.

Then Melissa told me about these. And I was done. I have used every excuse to make them.

"Oh, you're pregnant! You probably want a pretzel."


"Oh, you're nursing? You probably need a pretzel."


"Oh, you're on a diet? You should try a pretzel."


"Oh my gosh! You blinked. Here's a pretzel."


Yes, it really is that bad. I tell myself they are healthy, you know, because I use a few cups of whole wheat. It's basically a health food. Basically.

My husband has only aided in my obession by turning these fabulously disgusting counter tops ...




Into these most gorgeous, flat, perfectly perfect counter tops.  


Oh things I will use you to bake for me!! And my children. And husband. Of course.

Come to think of it, Officer Hottie hasn't done much complaining about my baking. It is possible that he is using the perfect counter tops to manipulate me into making more baked good.

Nah.

Since I like to share you can find the most fabulous recipe for the perfect pretzel HERE. The Pioneer Woman. Of course. And I realize this post should be on my very neglected food blog. Pshhh. Poor neglected food blog.