Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Wedding

Yesterday two of my children were in a wedding. B was one of five flower girls. Did I type that correctly? Did I say five? I did?

L was the only Bible bearer.

Weddings stress me out, even when they aren't mine and when I'm not in them. I can't help but help (which is basically me telling people what to do) and when people don't listen to me my jaw starts to clench. As if grinding my teeth will make people listen. For some strange reason the bride ignored me, the mother of the bride rolled her eyes at me and the groomsmen just waved me away. The nerve. So I stuck to bossing the kids; generally they listen to me. Especially if I threaten to take cookies away. Then they do what I say.

After rereading that last paragraph I can admit I have control issues. It is what it is.

I decided it is better for me to attend a wedding and not know any details. Just show up, watch, clap, eat cake.

Speaking of cake ... I ate two pieces.

My stomach hurts today.

I'm done with weddings for awhile. Until my brother gets married in October. But then I'm really done with weddings. Until my other brother gets married. The problem with large families...someone is always getting married. As long as they just let me show up and eat cake, and mabye boss just a little, I should be fine.


I may be a little biased, but I'm pretty sure she was the prettiest flower girl.

He's so cute he can even make a bolo tie look god.

My niece, Kaitlyn, was a Junior Bridesmaid. She is the love of L's life. Not in a weird way. Just in a Next to my mom you are the love of my life kind of way. And I just threw in the next to my mom because he's seven now and I can't handle it when he says, "When I grow up I'll marry Jillian and move to Texas." Oh...Jillian, the other love of his life. Next to me. And Kait.

B and her BFF (also my niece), La-lee. Or Natalie for those of us who don't have speech issues. My sister-in-law and I used to worry that these two would never be friends. They would fight all the time over everything.

They seem to have grown out of it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Debt Story: Part 9

We were going on vacation. I didn't know exactly how it had worked out, but between Mike's overtime and the Memorial Day holiday pay we had enough to make it work. I carefully counted out all of our cash, placing each bill into it's special envelope. It wasn't until I'd read Dave Ramsey's book that I started pulling cash out and using an envelope system. The system had seemed archaic to me before, when in actuality, once I started, I found myself much less stressed out over what we were spending. It was much easier to peek into my envelope and say, "We have $20.22 for gas" then it was to say, "We have...uh...about...$20ish?"
So I placed our grocery money, vacation 'fun' money, and gasoline money into their envelopes and wondered if we'd finally have a vacation where we came home with money in our pockets. My aunt and uncle had graciously offered to let us use their vacation home about three hours away and I couldn't have been more thankful. It was gorgeous, in a community right on the Colombia River in the Okanogan Valley in Eastern Washington. With a swimming pool and playground at our fingertips, not to mention the theatre in my uncle's home's basement, I knew we would have a great time. While I was putting everything into my wallet Mike walked up behind me.
"Someone emailed about the car."
"Really?" Hearing him say that made me nervous. I had felt that I would be ok with only one car, but in the back of my mind I had honestly hoped it wouldn't sell. I just didn't know if being a real life stay at home mom was going to fly with me.
"Yeah, he'd like to test drive it in a couple of days."
"Oh...wow. Do you think he'll buy it before we leave for our trip?"
"I dunno. Maybe? Possibly?"
My mind mulled over what it meant. No one had come to look at the car yet; I felt like I was going to be disappointed if it was purchased or if it wasn't. There was no winning with my emotions.

***
"So," Laura started as we sat in the sun on my aunt's sun-deck, enjoying the view of the river and listening to wind rustle the trees. "What made you guys decide to get out of debt?"
I laughed loudly. "YOU!" I exclaimed.
She looked at me in surprise. "Really?"
I told her briefly about how her statement about living debt free had really impacted us. I gave her a run down of our entire journey up to that point ending with ..."and now we're trying to sell our car. There's a guy who test drove it and is waiting for a loan to go through? We don't know if he's legit or not. I guess we'll see when we get home."
Laura seemed proud of our progress so far. We moved onto deeper conversation, as is our custom, but it had felt good to let Laura know, at least a little, how much she and her husband had affected our lives.
In talking with Laura, I realized that for the first time on vacation I didn't worry once about how much we were spending. Every dollar I pulled out of our envelopes was meant to be spent; I wasn't worrying about how we were going to catch up after we got home. The freedom and control I felt over our finances was a completely new sensation to me; for so long our finances had controlled us. It felt good to be one calling the shots.

Enjoying what I knew was going to be our last vacation for a long while ...

***
"Guess what?" I asked Mike excitedly.
"What?"
"We've got money leftover! Can you even believe it? We went on a vacation paying all cash and we actually have money in our pocket! Let's go out for dinner!!" I was only kind of kidding but the house was a mess with our post-vacation mess and I really didn't feel like cooking.
"Yeah," he smiled at me. "Let's go out for dinner!"
I grabbed my purse and yelled for the kids to get into the car. Mike was on my heels; going out had become such a rare treat we both could hardly handle the excitement. Mike's phone rang as he was getting into the car.
"It's that guy," he said me to. "The guy who test drove the car."
"Oh? Answer it I guess." I'd given up that the guy was actually going to buy our car. It seemed he'd spent so long trying to get his specific car loan to go through, and he'd never haggled with us...it just didn't seem possible.
"His loan came through. He wants to come tonight, when we're home from dinner. He's got the cash."
I stared at Mike in disbelief. "Really? Do we really want to do this? Are we really going to sell our car?"
"Yes...I think...I think we are. Wow. I think we are going to do this."
***
Mike came into the house, wringing his hands, his eyes wide.
I watched anxiously as our little white car drove down the road and out of sight.
"Where did you put the money?" Mike asked.
"In the cupboard," I replied softly.
"Oh my gosh ... did we really just do that? Did we really just sell our car? Oh my gosh ... "
"We have $3700 cash in our cupboard," I said. "With that, and your overtime...honey, we're paying over $5000 on our credit card this month. And we went on vacation."
We stared at each other.
Finally Mike said, "Thank you Lord. We're doing the right thing, honey."

Indeed, it seemed we were.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Card

I was clearing out space in a cupboard today and came across a card from Mike from years ago.
It had a quote by Percy Grainger:

There shouldn't
be so many
lonely places
on your body.



Everything
should be
visited and
hotly greeted.


Mike added:

By me.

Yes. Yes please.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Remember When Wednesday: The Eviction Notice

Two years ago today I was due with our fourth child. I had never before gone that far into a pregnancy; two of my children came a week early and one was three days early so going until my due date was frustrating and exhausting, to say the least. Much to my angst and surprise, baby #4 didn't arrive until eleven days after his scheduled due date. I wrote him this eviction notice five days after his due date; six days before he actually arrived. I thought I would share it here since the 18th of August will never pass without me remembering the feelings I had on that day! (oh...and happy birthday Jessica!)

Dear Simeon,

The time has come for you to move out. You have overstayed your welcome and you must leave by tomorrow. I'm sorry to give you such short notice but I had hoped that you would be able to figure things out on your own. Since you've stayed five days longer than originally agreed to, the time has come for me to remind you that you must vacate.
I understand that you are comfortable. I know you are warm and well fed. However, when you leave you will find my arms much more comforting and the food here is good - much better than what you are getting in there. I have purchased some wonderful blankets to wrap you up nice and snuggly so you feel secure, and some wonderful friends have made larger blankets to ensure you are just as warm out here as you are in there.
I know change can be scary. I don't like it either...but this will be your first life lesson. Change is inevitable. Things will change whether you want them to or not. I wanted Lincoln to stay a baby forever, and now he is starting school. That is a scary change for me, but I cannot avoid it. Moving out will be tough for you too, but you will find that moving forward will be a much more rewarding experience than staying put.
I don't like moving. In fact, when your father and I bought this house I told him that I never wanted to move again. I hate packing and unpacking and big messes. The beautiful thing about you moving is that you have nothing to pack and any messes your move brings will be promptly cleaned up by the midwives and your dad. They have promised you won't have to do a thing. I won't either...isn't that wonderful?
Your brothers think you don't want to move because you don't like your name. Simeon means he who hears and obeys. That's a lot to live up to - I understand why you may be nervous. We have little expectation that you will always obey, although that would be nice. Our Heavenly Father has forgiven us countless times for our disobedience, and we have learned from Him that forgiveness is essential. That will be your second life lesson - God (and Mom and Dad) will always forgive you and never stop loving you. So don't worry about us having unreal expectations about your level of obedience...we know you have to learn, just like the rest of us.
Are you nervous about how Brooklyn will treat you? You shouldn't be. At first I was worried how she would react to not being the baby anymore, but last night at the Pennington's wedding, Vivienne Hamblen was there, and she loved on her like you wouldn't believe. She rubbed her back and touched her cheeks - she didn't poke her eyes or hit her face. She even tried to kiss her. When you move out, she will love you so very much. The other day she sat in her rocking chair next to me while I was in mine and we rocked together. She held her baby and I wished I was holding you.
Are you nervous about being born at home? Your dad was nervous at first too. But Darlene and Molly have really reassured him. They are prepared for nearly any emergency. They have both delivered many babies and know exactly what to do. They promise not to rush you and let you take your time, as long as you are actually moving out. They had me order a special kit so we have all the tools at home that you will need to make a safe transition into our home. They aren't even worried if you poo. Lincoln, Judah and Brooklyn all did before they were born - I know it can be embarrassing, but I don't really care about baby poo and Darlene and Molly said they are ready to clean it all up and have special equipment if you really feel like you need it. Our home is very nice. Great Grandma Bergman made you a beautiful bassinet to sleep in, but for the first little bit I'll probably let you sleep in bed with me and Dad. I really like snuggling and I know that will be very important to you for the first few nights. I know it will be hard for me to have you at home, but I am excited for the challenge. If you are worried about hurting me, don't be! I have done this three times before and feel ready for anything you can dish out. Although I won't be able to take medicine if something hurts, I'm not concerned. I wasn't able to have medication when Judah was born and so far his birth has been one of the best experiences I've had.
I am becoming more and more uncomfortable. I cannot sleep through the night, I cannot roll over in bed, I cannot hug your father all the way anymore, I cannot lift up your brothers and sister, I do not have a lap, I have constant heartburn, my hips are sore and it hurts to go from sitting to standing. When you move it feels like my skin is breaking open, when you turn your head I think my pelvis may explode. I pee my pants without even knowing and I have to use a brillo pad to get rid of the itch on my tummy. If your Grandma with Brown Hair calls one more time to ask if you've moved I may climb a wall - and you know how uncomfortable that would be for me. You must move out. Your deadline is tomorrow. If you are not out by tomorrow I will be forced to take drastic measures - I may use castor oil but I am not opposed to something more drastic, like cutting myself open or reaching in and grabbing you by the foot.
Please consider this your official eviction notice. I trust we will see you by tomorrow.
Love,
Mom
 

Monday, August 16, 2010

(A sampling of) My Friends

I have some of the best friend's a woman could ask for.

Some of them I've only been close with for a few months, others have been friends from the womb. (Or "Sisters from another Mister" as Mike calls them). I have a really tough time calling any of them my "best" friend though. I've learned (however slowly and after many tears and much heartache, oftentimes caused by something I said or did) that terms like that can alienate people, or put too much pressure on someone to perform to a level they are not capable of, and often left me with unmet expectations. Years ago my mom told me she didn't have a best friend. "I have many friends, all them close to me for different reasons. To call one person the 'best' is impossible." I really liked that. It sits well with me. I definitely have friends that are closer than others, and a tight circle of friends I share just about everything with, but to call one person my 'best' ... well, it's just too difficult. I guess I've just been blessed with too many options! (Please know that I do not have a problem with people having best friends. Many of my very dear close friends have someone they refer to as their 'best' friend and I find those relationships to be quite beautiful.)

That being said, I have some of the best friends a woman could ask for. I am proud of that. I love to think of my many friends and all they've given to me over the years and my heart, each and every time, is full with the blessings each of them have been and are.

This weekend I was able to visit and see many of my friends, two of them experiencing major milestones in their lives.
This is Melissa and her fourth child, born last Thursday evening. What a great way to start my weekend!
I love love love this picture that Melissa's husband captured right after Emme was born. Isn't this what total love looks like?!
Melissa and I have known each other for about ... 26ish years. Maybe more. We have been close and we have been not so close. There's something about those close years that has kept our friendship strong, even during the not so close years. During one of my largest most heartbreaking difficulties as a teen she was my biggest fan, my biggest support. She is the reason I was able to come out of that time intact. I don't know if I've ever been able to return that support or love on the same level; although, I hope she knows how dear she is to me.

Heh heh. This is Jessica. Another friend for just about my whole life. She had just shot one of those candy necklace things up her nose. Heh heh. This coming Wednesday she turns 30. Her husband and parent's threw a huge Hawaiian themed birthday party for her on Saturday. It was so great to see her in all her center-of-attention glory. Jessica was one of my confidante's (wow...how do you spell that?!) while Mike and I were dating and during our first few years of marriage. Her baby is just a few weeks older than my oldest so these past few years we've found ourselves at very different points in life; she's working full time again, I'm still changing poopy diapers. Regardless, every time I visit with her it's like a breath of fresh air. At Halloween her mom bought me a box of Lik-M-Aids because we used to eat those all. the. time. For my 30th birthday Jessica got me a 7-11 gift card so I could buy slurpees because we used to eat those all. the. time. I just really love her; the youngest of my oldest friends.

Jessica used to have the best Barbie collection ever. My favorite doll was Jem (from Jem and the Holograms...oh yeah, you're singing the song, aren't you?!). She even had blinking earrings. One day, Jessica cut Jem's hair off. It almost ruined our friendship. When I would spend the night at her house, Jessica would make me scratch her back. Then when I would say, "Ok, I'm done. Now scratch mine."  she'd pretend to be asleep.  

Would you believe we've all been friends since elementary school? There's a few people missing from this picture who couldn't make it to the party but I love that I still get to see these women.
Oh...and Twyla, if you're reading this Brooklyn told me today that she was very sad when you didn't come to her birthday party and that you told her you were sad that she wasn't at yours. Apparently you had this conversation "yester night" at your house.

Here's one of the cool things about friends ... they have children. And our children can be friends and grow up together and in 30 years they can be attending each other's birthday parties and sharing stories about the old days. This is a picture of Levi and Simeon. Levi is my friend Andrea's son. He is about 4 months older than Simeon. Andrea and I have been friends for a really long time. We have been really good friends for just a few years. I am so glad our son's seem to be starting their really good friendship early on. And apart from the fact that Levi has two gauges in his face (courtesy of Simeon) and the fact that Simeon appears to have had one too many ... I think the friendship is pretty sweet.

Another really great thing about friends is that they like your children. This is Andrea. And Simeon refusing, again, to smile. There is something about seeing my friend snuggle my child that is so emotional for me. I just love it. And her. I love this.

I had to share this picture of Twyla because
1) My daughter blames her for every naughty thing she does, even though she's only met her once.
2) She loves my blog. She was reading it before I even made it public. She's a huge encouragement to me.
3) She's shameless. I love that about her. John Mayer anyone? Heh heh.
4) I love her.
5) Oh, and she also says things that get her into trouble. I won't embarrass her here, but I'll just say that when Twyla is around, I don't worry so much about what I say. Heh heh.

I'm overusing the heh's, aren't I? It's just that ... this weekend was fun. And I really love my friend's. And if I did a blog posting for each friend and why I love them I wouldn't have enough time.

So, for Jessica and Melissa...my two friends experiencing major milestones and life changes...
I love you both. So very very much.
Thank you for all you've given me over the years; your love, your advice, your patience, sometimes your money (!!) and most of all your friendship. You have helped to shape me into the woman I am today and I am honored to be your friend.

xo

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thanks!

Thank you to Yellow over at Ammo in the Dryer for the Beautiful Blogger Award. I'm supposed to list ten things about myself and pass it on. So...it's basically a blogging chain-letter! Ha! But, because I like to talk about myself, I shall follow the rules. Heh heh.

1. I say stupid stuff all the time. By stupid I mean offensive, off color, innapropriate. Sometimes I'm just trying to ask a question, because I'm genuinly curious, and it comes across as challenging or antagonizing. I don't intend for my words to come across that way but they just do.  For example, at the last Cop's Wives Club meeting, in front of about 12 young children I said, rather loudly, "The only good thing about condoms is no clean-up." Or last night while putting my camera away at the hospital, after holding my friend's minutes old baby, I found the strap for my bathing suit randomly sitting in my camera case and I said, "Wow! That's the best thing that's happened all day!" I was totally kidding, and my friend knew it, but you can see how I get myself into trouble. (And yeah...that's just a very mild sampling. I really prefer to not totally humiliate myself.)

2. Right now I'm reading Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert, that gal who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. I'm having a difficult time with it because I disagree with about 87% of what she's saying. I find it to be highly offensive in fact. But, I get the feeling that she's not trying to be offensive, it's just coming across that way. And as someone who is often on the wrong side of a misunderstanding (see #1), I keep reading and trying to understand her heart. Also, I never read Eat, Pray, Love so I'm pretty sure I'm  missing a huge hunk of history there. Anyway, so far the book has made me feel more defensive of my marriage, more sure about the choices I've made as a wife and mother and more determined to protect the life that my husband and I have created together. Perhaps reading it is good for me then?

3. I hate eating apples unless they are cut up into slices. I'll eat one in a pinch, if I'm starving and we're running out the door for instance, but any other time it's got to be cut up into slices or chunks. There's just something about having to figure out how to take a bit without squirting juice all over or looking like an idiot that doesn't sit well with me.

4. I have this weird habit of counting syllables with my toes. When someone is talking and I find them to be exceptionally boring, or that I am nervous, I begin to count the syllables of what they've said with my pinky and big toes. And I always have to end the sentence on my left pinky toe; if it doesn't work I add or subtract words.

5. Are you freaked out yet? Still reading? Have I lost you?
I hate traffic. It's a weird phobia...I will rearrange my schedule a ridiculous amount in order to avoid it. My friend Jen used to tease me about it mercilessly. Once I'm stuck in traffic, I'm fine - it's just the anxiety I feel when I anticipate traffic that is bizarre.

6. I have the same hatred/fear of long lines.

7. I love the idea of buying local and being green and supporting the local farmer ... it's just that Costco has better prices and really...I love the idea of not spending as much money more than I love the local farmer. Sorry guys.

8. We've been out of debt for just over a year and I still struggle with wanting to use my credit card. We had to cancel every credit account we owned because I knew I would have NO self-control. If it's there, I'll use it. I still go to Target and find myself wishing that I could just buy whatever I saw.

9. I live less than one mile from my parent's. I always think we should move and then one of my kids throws up, or I get a migraine, or I'm tired, or I don't want to make dinner and my mom comes over right away (or I go over to their house) and I realize I've got it made and moving would be really really stupid.

10. I used to be one of the only people I knew with four children. Now...not so much. Sometimes I feel like we should have had one more just so we could be all like, "Yup...we've got five kids. It's no big deal...we're just awesome". Don't worry though...we won't.

I'd love to pass this award along to

Melissa at Ramblings of the Overwhelmed. As one of my oldest friends I find it still amazes me that there are things I don't know about her. Although she did just have her fourth baby last night...so I don't expect much!

and to

Momma K9 over at Tied by His Love. As one of my newest friends I think it is fun to continue learning new things about her.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Remember When Wednesday: The Debt Story Pt 8

To catch up on our Debt Story go HERE



The house was in chaos as I worked on making dinner. Mike was making an attempt at conversation despite the children wreaking havoc around us.
"I think we should sell the car."
"What?" I questioned.
"I said, I think we should sell the car. Or cars."
"Ahaha....haha!" I laughed out loud at the suggestion. "Right."
Mike stared at me, unflinching. "No, I'm serious. Why not?"
I stared back at him, silent now, hoping that my swelling abdomen and the three children screaming while they ran in circles around us would clue him in to the 'why not's'.
"I mean, I was thinking, we could sell the Saturn, use some of the money to buy me another car, then maybe we could sell the Freestyle and get something less expensive."
I continued to stare.
"It's just, we own the Saturn outright, so if we sold it for ... I don't know, $3000, we could put $2500 towards our credit card. Then I could get a cheap old pick-up for getting to and from work and for doing stuff around the house. And if we sold the Freestyle private party we could pay off our loan and probably get something with the money leftover. Even if we couldn't sell it and make money, we could at least get into a car that has a smaller loan. It makes good sense."
"It makes no sense." I picked up our daughter who had just been run over by her older brothers. "Your Saturn gets perfectly amazing gas mileage. I don't want an old truck - we are not in a position to be putting money into a piece of crap car. And the Freestyle is amazing. I'm not giving it up. Did you forget...it has a DVD player. I'm not giving that up."
"Honey, think ab-"
"Also, there's a six disc cd-changer and a freaking DVD player."
He sighed loudly and pulled the boys off of each other.
"CD players are old school. They'll be obsolete in a few years."
"Don't lecture me on technology."
"Honey, just think about it. Or, at least, send Dave an email. See what he thinks."
I raised my eyebrows. "Oh, I'm pretty sure I know what Dave will say. 'You want your wife, who stays at home with three children and is pregnant with the fourth, to give up her car so you can fulfill your lifelong dream of having a beater pick-up truck? And you want her to drive a what? A mini-van from the '80's? Ah...' I'm pretty sure Dave will tell you to suck it."
"I'm pretty sure Dave Ramsey has never said suck it in his life."
"I'm pretty sure he'd say it to you."
We stared at each other, each of us holding a screaming child - while the other jumped up and down begging for someone to pick him up too.
Mike bent down and picked up the other boy, one in each arm now.
"Perhaps we should talk later. You know...when we're less crazy," he suggested calmly.
I gestured violently toward my stomach. "In case you haven't noticed," my voice was escalating, "we have a lot more crazy left!"
"Isn't pregnancy fun?!" his voice escalated back.
As maturely as I could muster I yelled out, "YOU CAN FINISH MAKING DINNER!"
I spun around, marched into our bedroom, screaming daughter on my hip, and slammed the door behind me.

***

I felt bad about the exchange the night before. I knew Mike was trying to think of ways to get us out of debt sooner so we could get back to living a normal life. I knew I couldn't give up the car and I knew getting a beater was out of the question. I knew Mike was being stupid. So I sat down and typed out an email to Dave.

Hi Dave,

We are on Baby Step #2 and have a question about our car. We have one car paid off that my husband uses to commute. It gets great gas mileage, but we can sell it and use a good chunk of the profits towards our debt and have enough left over to get him something else to commute in. He would like to buy an old beater truck and I'd like him to buy another commuter type car that gets decent gas mileage so we don't have to worry about rearranging the gasoline portion of our budget. Should we sell the car to obtain our goals more quickly, and if so, what should we replace it with?
Thank you for your time,
Genesis

I knew how this was going to go. It was going to go my way. Because I was pregnant and I was right. I was sure of it.

***

I sat down with the Total Money Makeover and began reading where I had left off. Dave was talking about being so intense in getting out of debt that everything else (almost) takes a back seat. He said to start selling things, sell so much that the kids think they are next. Heh heh. I liked that idea. And then he said ...

"I do recommend that most people sell the car with the most debt on it...If you have a car or a boat that you can't pay off in eighteen to twenty months, sell it. It is just a car. I used to love my car, too, but I found keeping that huge debt while trying to get out of debt was like running a race wearing ankle weights. Get a Total Money makeover, so later you can drive anything you want and pay cash for it. ... 'I love my stupid car more than the idea of becoming wealthy...' Don't make that mistake."

I let out a low groan. I hate it, loathe it, when I am wrong.
I sheepishly approached Mike.
"So, um...Dave says that um...well, I guess maybe we could think about possibly selling the car. Or cars."
"Oh, wow...um. Are you sure he didn't say to suck it?" He smiled at me sideways.
"I'm sorry."
"I know."
"So, what do we do now. Do we sell both cars? Or just one?"
Mike smiled at me full on now, happy that I was on his side.
"I was thinking we could sell the Saturn. I've been looking at cars that will be big enough for our family and it seems that if we sell the Freestyle we'll still have to get a loan for another car - about $10-12,000. It doesn't really make a huge difference since we only owe just over $14,000 on the Freestyle. So, I think we should sell the Saturn and keep the Freestyle."
I was so relieved. So very relieved.
"What," I asked, "do you think we should buy to replace the Saturn?"
"Well...I've been wanting to start getting in shape. What if we bought a bicycle for me to ride to work?"
I tried not to laugh. "Honey, you work almost 20 miles away. Also, what happens in the fall or winter when you can't ride the bike?"
"Well ... you just ... stay at home." He tensed up as he said this. I knew he was nervous about my reaction.
I exhaled slowly while I thought about what he was suggesting.
"This is a good year for it, " I said. "With Lincoln starting school and the baby coming I won't really be going anywhere anyhow."
Mike stared at me, pensive.
"I mean it, " I assured him. "I think me staying at home could work. I don't know about the bike thing ... but I think I could stay home for a bit. It just...it'll be an adventure."

So we listed the Saturn on Craigslist for $3700 and waited to see if someone would bite.

I took a little creative license with this post. Although the events are totally true, I may have exaggerated the drama a teeny bit. It just makes things more interesting, you know? Mike says I should have made him look like the jerk...of course, him saying that is the exact reason I couldn't. That man is too nice to me.

To be continued...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Series of Haiku's for my Children

The bathroom should be
A holy and sacred place
Uninterrupted.

I like to shower
And shave my legs by myself
Alone, without you.

Unless there is blood
Or dismemberment or pain
Let me poop alone.

I would like to wipe
My bottom without those eyes
Staring at my butt.

When I am naked
You need leave my bedroom
And hope you forget.

Although I love you
And would give my life for you
Seriously. Leave. Now.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How we Roll ... or something like that

Last night we went over to my cousin's house.
She and her husband have three boys.
Mike and I have three boys. And a girl. My girl just so happens to be named after this particular cousin. She is very dear to me. She was my maid-of-honor and I was her matron-of-honor and she and her husband used to come over and watch Heroes at our house every Monday night. When Heroes was actually cool before it got lame. And when our children would actually fall asleep in a play pen and/or nurse to sleep.

I digress.

With six boys (and a girl) between the two of us, play dates and can be a little ... loud.

With six boys (and a girl) and two husbands between the two of us, dinner at each other's house can be a little ...

well ...

a lot ...

like

this.


I do wonder if it's weird that 

a) I stood on a table to get this picture.
b) I smiled and laughed a lot.
c) I didn't worry that my only daughter was being pummeled by a pacifier wielding diaper wearing child.
d) I ate a lot of cake.
e) My children ate all of their dinner.
f) My daughter only cried when she couldn't make it to the top of the pig pile.

Actually, I know it's not weird that I ate a lot of cake. That is, most certainly, how I roll.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Totally Random Hoodie

1. We got an envelope in the mail today. My first thought was, "Oh Lord...not another bill." Turns out it was the recap from my family reunion last month. Phew. Reading the letter made me tear up; it wasn't mushy or anything but it just had family and love oozing from it. This is family that I don't even know but I really desperately want to know them. So I always want to go to the reunion but it's in Pennsylvania which is just a mere 2600 miles from where I am currently located. ( Google maps informs me if I want to walk it would take me 33 days 18 hours and to be careful because there may not be sidewalks. ) Anyway, Linda, if you're reading this...I really want to be there!

2. I found a really cute top at Target on the clearance rack. I was very excited about it. I put it in my cart...and then noticed the Liz Lange Maternity tag. Heavy sigh. I cannot win.

3. Speaking of clothing, I'd really like to begin dressing like I know what I'm doing. Growing up from jeans and t-shirts, that sort of thing. I asked Amelia to take me shopping but then she got pregnant and I never have an extra $500 lying around so it hasn't happened. (I realize I probably don't need $500...it's just that I want to have $500 to spend...if I wish. And I do. Wish. Not have.) Amelia always looks great. And she can accessorize. She has a great scarf or earrings or necklace or bracelet to go with every outfit. And her shoes ... I can't even go there. I don't know how she does it. I just want to dress like that and look that put together all the time. But more than that...
I want to wear my sweats, baggy t-shirt and no bra.

4. I cannot win.

5. As I was making dinner tonight and adding chili seasoning to my pot of chili (yes...I know that's cheating) I remembered that a few years ago Mike's sister in law made chili and said, "Oh, be careful. I added chili powder...it's spicy." And then we all laughed and laughed because ... chili powder? Spicy? It still makes me laugh. She was on fire and the rest of us were all like, "Where's the salsa?"

6. We've decided to homeschool.

7. When do I need to get rid of this hoodie? Or at least, stop wearing it in public?


I can't seem to bring myself to get rid of it. I stole borrowed it from my sister before I had children. Then I wore it while I was pregnant. Then I wore it while I was pregnant. Then I wore it while I was pregnant. Then I wore it while I was pregnant. Is there an echo in here? Then I wore it when I wasn't pregnant. So not only is it riddled with holes, it looks like a pregnant woman should be wearing it. Or, more accurately, the woman who is wearing it must be pregnant.

8. My friend Melissa is going to have her fourth baby any day now. She just moved home from Colorado Springs. I missed her and I'm glad she's back. And that she's bringing a new baby with her. And her 11 month old. And her 6 and 7 year old. And her husband. But mostly the new baby.

9. My children went to VBS (vacation Bible school) two weeks in a row. Lincoln came home and started reading the Bible on his own and asking all sorts of questions. It made me happy. We got a CD of music of the songs they sang from Momma K9's neighbor and one in particular made me cry.
From the page to your heart
God's Word is where you are
Read it now and your life will change
It's exciting, surprising, each and every day
Read it now and your life will change
God's Word will surprise you
God's Word will amaze you
God's Word will surprise you
Read it now and your life will change
Oh how your life will change.
The song seems kind of bossy now that I've typed it out. Bossy in a Dora the Explorer kind of way ... you know, 'Say it with me. Say it! SAY IT!'
Regardless, I cried because it's really true. God's Word does meet me right where I'm at and reading it changed my life. It continues to change my life. It does amaze and surprise me. I won't force anyone else to read it ... but pretty much, it will change your life. More than Dave Ramsey.

10. I was asked to consider doing a photo shoot for a band. I've been obsessing over it more than I should be. And worrying about if I can do it well enough. And having a hard time believing someone may actually pay me to take pictures.

11. I have four photo shoots scheduled that are NOT of bands. I have not been obsessing over them because they are within my comfort zone. I plan on doing a great job. I wonder if I would actually work out for me to take pictures and make money.

12. I like country music. I cry every time Brad Paisley comes on. I think that's pathetic.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays: The Debt Story Pt 7...and the Winner!

Thank you to all who entered my first little giveaway. All of your comments really touched me. I could hear a little of myself in all of them and it was really difficult for me to only have one winner. In fact, I stared at the little bowl with all the numbers in it for awhile thankful that my son was going to be choosing the winner because it was just too hard for me!
The winner is Sister Copinherhair. Her comment was : Right now, I would have to say it is my credit cards followed by my car payment. I dream of not having those. But it is hard trying to pay for a house and kid by myself. Send an email with your mailing info to iheartacop@gmail.com and your book will be on it's way!
To everyone else who would like a copy of this book, Amazon has some used editions for less than $8 a copy, plus shipping. I've also seen his book at Half Price Books, so if you have one in your area check there. Also, he is very popular right now and chances that someone you know has a copy of his book that you can borrow are very high. If you go to Dave Ramsey's website you can choose to find a station in your area that plays his show or you can listen to the podcast, or listen live if the show is taping. I would encourage you to listen to the show, especially on "Debt Free Fridays" when callers call in with their story of how much debt they had and how they got out of it. You will truly be inspired.
Thank you again for reading our story. There IS hope out there!

According to Dave Ramseys' Total Money Makeover there were seven baby steps to follow.
#1 - Start a $1000 emergency fund.
Thankfully, we already had that out of the way.
#2 - Pay off all debt using the debt snowball.
We were to list all our debts, beginning with the smallest, and pay that one off first. We had rolled all our credit cards onto one card since it had a great promotional rate so the only debts, apart from our mortgage, we were dealing with was the one credit card and our car.
#3 - Build 3-6 months in an emergency savings account.
Before we had sat down with Dawn we'd never had more than $100 in savings at one time; $1000 had seemed impossible. Looking at 3-6 months expenses meant we'd need about $9000-$18,000. That really seemed impossible...but if we could pay off all our debt, maybe it wouldn't be such a difficulty.
The other baby steps were great to learn about, but I knew it would be awhile before we had to apply them so I read the basics but saved the details for a later date.
I got to work on our new budget - hope and determination fueling me.
When I finished, I looked at our new budget with a little bit of disbelief. Were we really going to be able to put over $650 a month toward our credit card? How was that even possible? I carefully looked at every line of the budget, I scrutinized every bill. Yes...there was still money for groceries. Granted, it was only $200 per pay period, but that was more than I had been using when we first sat down with Dawn. Yes...there was gas money. The cell phone bill was getting paid, the internet would stay connected...everything was in order. With Mike's recent raise, our recent drop in the mortgage payment and our willingness to give up some of our spending money we were going to be adding an additional $200 to our credit card. I was dumbfounded...I hadn't known we would have that much extra. I called Mike over ot the computer and he looked over my shoulder.
"Wow," he uttered with the same amazement that I felt. "That ... is ... awesome."
"I also made this," I said and showed him a goal sheet. "Dave says in his book that one lady listed her goals and put them on her fridge. Then every time she walked by it she would do a little dance and say, 'oh yeah!'. It sounds dumb but look...I think if we have goals for when we want everything paid off it will keep us motivated. So, I picked some dates..." I handed him the sheet.


His eyebrows shot up. "You think we can pay off our credit card by next April? And our car by the following November? Do you even know how much we owe? I don't know if that is possible honey."
"No. I don't know how much we owe. But look...we can reward ourselves with a vacation!"
He smirked at me. "Let's figure out what's possible first."
So we got out our credit card statement and our car statement and quickly added the balances together. It was just under $27,000.
"Still think we can pay it off in 18 months? That's roughly $1500 each month...and we've got $650 available. Where's the other $850 going to come from?" he challenged.
"I don't know!" I paused for a minute, drew in a deep breath, then said "Look, I know these are impossible goals. We can readjust them, but I just think we should try - we've got stuff to sell, I'm sure there will be overtime...I really think we should at least try."
"Ok," he said. "Then we'll get it done." I loved having his support; although he challenged me I knew he was trying to make me think. I knew I wouldn't be able to do this without having him board 100%.
"You know what I've been wondering?" I asked him. "How much total debt we have...I mean with our mortgage and what we have rolled into it. We bought our house for $165,000 right? But now we owe more than that because we refinanced and used that money to buy a car, pay off credit cards...how much of our mortgage is debt we should be paying off the old fashioned way?"
Mike exhaled a deep breath while doing the math in his head.
"We'd need to add another $67,000."
I stared at him in disbelief. "What did we do with $67,000?!" I exclaimed. "That's like...$94,000 all together! Are you kidding me?!"
"Well, we paid off our Expedition...that was about 15 grand...and we've paid off two credit cards...each had about 10-12 grand on them ... and the rest we put into the house. I think."
"So, do we add that $67,000 into what we're paying off? I will definitely have to change the goals."
"What does the book say about the mortgage?" he asked.
"It says that you pay the mortgage off at the end. It shouldn't be part of the debt snowball. It's baby step six or something."
"Well, what's done is done. We'll stick to the plan and go with the $27,000. Thankfully we're in a fixed rate mortgage so we can pay it all off when we get to baby step six."
I was relieved. As on board with paying off the debt as I was, and even if we could come up with the extra $850 each month, if we had to pay off $94,000 it was going to take us at least five years. If we couldn't come up with that money ... it was going to take much longer. The $27,000 seemed within reason, attainable...and I really felt that we'd be able to find that extra money each month. I just wasn't sure how.

***
I knew we needed a few things for the baby. After Brooklyn had been born I was pretty sure we were done having children and had given away most of our things; plus, most of our things were used when we got them and they had been used by three of our children. I was hoping to get some new stuff. I looked at our church's classifieds and saw that one of my friend's was selling a bouncy seat for $15. I emailed her and asked her if she'd take $10. She said she'd have it at church on Sunday.
It wasn't the exact bouncer I wanted, but it would work. I was thankful to have found something for $10. I was using my precious spending money and it was difficult to part with it, even if it was for something I knew we would need. I tossed the seat in the back of the car, finished buckling the kids in and headed for home.
It was getting to be difficult to get the kids to and from church by myself. Mike was with me every other weekend but with my middle was more and more obvious and my children were only getting heavier; I wondered how I would be able to keep it up ... and I still had three months left.
I was exhausted as I pulled into the driveway; the kids were hungry and I was ready for a nap. The kids ran for the front door while I walked around to the back of the car to retrieve the bouncer seat. I reached up to close the lift-gate and something in the driveway next to the house caught my eye. I closed the lift gate and walked over to the house. There, in the gravel, half buried in the muck, was a ring. My ring. The ring Mike had bought me for our 5th anniversary; the ring I had somehow misplaced and been looking for for three years.
It wasn't possible.
I bent down closer and picked it up. It was my ring. I burst into tears. Three years I'd spent combing through vehicles and our home. I'd scoured my parent's house and yelled at my children and begged God to show me where it was. When we'd sold our car and my parent's had torn their house down to the studs for their remodel, I knew it was gone for good. Mike had been disappointed; it had hurt his feelings.
I fumbled to pull my phone out of my purse.
"Honey..." I was crying too hard to talk well.
"What's wrong? Are you ok? Is the baby ok?" He was worried.
"Honey, I found the ring," I managed to say.
"What? What are you talking about?"
"My ring! MY RING! I found it...it was HERE in the driveway!"
"No. Way." I could tell he was choking up. "Are you serious?!"
I told him how it had just caught my eye; that we'd been walking past it all this time.
"Three years!" he exclaimed. "Are there any diamonds missing? Any sapphires?"
"It's dirty but it's all still in one piece!"
We both laughed excitedly as I placed the ring back on my finger. I was in total disbelief.

When I told to story to Mike's dad he looked at my sweetly and gently said,
"You know...isn't it interesting that you guys have started to get your finances in order just now? I really feel like this is God's way of telling you that you are on the right track. He wants to bless your obedience."

And I did feel blessed. Very, very blessed. In the coming years, when it was difficult to follow the plan, when I wanted to spend money I didn't have, when I wanted to quit, I knew I'd be able to look at my ring and remember where we'd been ... and where we were going.

To be continued...