February 29, 2012

February 2012 In Photos

Don't forget to check out our January 2012 Family Update.
Tara's Birthday Dinner
Skylar & Sydney re-enacting the Tangled movie. :)
Happy Valentine's Day
1st Lost Tooth
Perk of having a Dad who works at Bass Pro
My name in print for my 1st magazine article
Ladybug hat. So cute! :)
Being a good mommy to Easton
Skylar as a Goose for her play at school.
Holding my 1st doula baby!!!!!

February 2012 Update

Let's see here. February has been a lot more calm than last month. We needed it. Now, don't think we weren't without excitement, we just haven't been on the go-go-go that has somehow become our norm.

For starters, tLG lost her first tooth! It had been pretty loose for a while and she had asked me to pull it. I gave that little tooth a gentle tug every night for a week before it finally decided to give it up. She was thrilled! The hubs and I had a little miscommunication regarding the fact that the Tooth Fairy was supposed to leave a note but I think the five bucks under her pillow made up for it. Since money burns a hole in her pocket, we shopped the very next day and found a lovely bead set that she had been wanting.

As many of you know, Skylar is very smart. Almost too smart for her own good sometimes but intelligent nonetheless. However, we were having some continued problems with her behavior at school, at home, and in her extracurricular activities. I was really torn between "do we just have too high of expectations for a 5-year-old" vs. "I have somehow managed to raise a terrible kid." Now, let me tell you, our little dear is very opinionated and that trait will serve her well much later in life but it was the impulsive behavior that I couldn't quite deal with. There was no rationalizing with her. She simply could not control herself. Now, when it comes to other people, I can "diagnose" them in a heartbeat and give them a laundry list of natural remedies to try. When it comes to my own kid, I sometimes kinda go stupid... or something. It's really frustrating when that happens.

Anyway, through a random conversation, I had an "a-ha!" moment regarding food. At this point, we have cut out all dyes and unnatural preservatives. I have noticed a HUGE difference. For the better. However, I wasn't completely sold on the new diet until we had an unfortunate event at someone else's house and she ate some unapproved items. There was an immediate night and day difference from the kid I had been pleasantly experiencing the week before. From that moment, I was 100% convinced. Don't get me wrong, she's still a 5-year-old kid but the impulsive behavior is much more tame. I've noticed that she focuses better and responds quicker. It really is amazing! Unfortunately, this little diet experiment has also kind of hacked me off at the amounts of junk I keep finding in foods that are supposedly healthy and organic. I'm now a label reader more than ever before. At this point, I could care less about the calories and fat content. I'm more worried about ingredients that I can't pronounce and dye #s and abbreviations like BHT, BHA & TBHQ. Ugh!

I've also spent the last two Saturdays doing a little baking extravaganza prepping breakfast and snack foods for the week ahead. Yeah, it takes some extra time to hunt down the recipes and, of course, to whip them up but I have really enjoyed it. So far, everything has been scrumptious! It gives me peace of mind knowing exactly what goes in plus I'm able to hide really healthy ingredients without her knowledge. :)

Leap day was a very special day indeed. It started with us attending a little play that Skylar's class was doing at school. She was the goose in a play called The Hat. We worked over the weekend to make her costume and she was so excited. She did great reciting her line. Tonight was really special because I helped my 1st ever doula client as she delivered her sweet baby girl. It was an absolutely amazing experience and one that I will never forget. It's so awesome to be an active part of something I'm so passionate about. I plan to write about the experience (with mom's permission, of course) over on nurturing YOU naturally. Right now my goal is to have everything completed to submit for my doula certification at the end of May.

That's our update for this month. Stay tuned for the February photo dump! :)

February 23, 2012

Easy Way to Fold Sheets (even a fitted one)

If you ask me, folding a fitted sheet is nearly impossible. I literally have no idea how the factory gets it into a nice little square to match the top sheet. I've tried various techniques but mine usually only look slightly better than if I had rolled it into a ball to start with. However, I have indeed found a trick that now makes my sheets stack all nice and neat and tidy in the linen closet.

First, fold sheets according to your normal methods. Leave one pillow case unfolded. See my lump of fitted sheet there?
Second, stack the folded items on top of each other.
Third, stuff folded items into the remaining pillow case. There will be a remaining flap. Simply tuck it underneath.
Finally, stack all of your sheets nicely on top of each other and place them in the linen closet. Ta-Dah!
It's not rocket science but it took me 6+ years of marriage and a few You Tube videos to figure it out. It also helps to keep all the pieces together if you send a little one to fetch a fresh set. My fitted sheet frustration remains no more.

You're welcome! :)

February 20, 2012

Resolution #5: Live Beneath Our Means

This post is a continuation of the details regarding my 2012 resolutions.
My final resolution is, by far, going to be the hardest one despite the fact that it is a no brainer.

See, what had happened wuz...

For this one, we are going to need some background info. This is where I air our deep, dark, money secrets. I'm not sure why people are so afraid to talk about money but I find it refreshing when I see that other people aren't perfect. So, here we go. This is me, not being perfect with money. P.S. I'm not a perfect parent either. I'm not perfect, period.

Hubby and I met in 2003. Bought a house in 2004. We both were working full time, but had new "careers" that paid pretty crappy. We both had some debt that we brought to the marriage. We weren't overly frivolous but we didn't hesitate to eat out and put it on the credit card.

Fast forward to 2007. Hubby got a little promotion. tLG arrived. I quit working to stay home with tLG. I do not regret this decision at all. All the debt in the world would have been worth the quality of life that I felt by being available for her. I cashed out my 401K and we lived off that for a while. We stopped using credit cards. I started couponing.

In 2008, I started working part-time from home. Both of our jobs paid on commission and were never consistent. Hubby was moved to 2 different locations over the next few years, with the understanding that it was a "promotion." Turns out the promotion in title didn't quite add up on the commission scale.

For years, the bills were never less than the income. Many times, we used our tax return and rationed it out over the next 12 months to get by (Looking back, I'm still amazed that we made it but God is good. SO good!)

As of 2011, things were starting to settle down into a more predictable money routine. We were no longer having to use the tax return to help us along each month. We used it to pay for Skylar's school instead (An amazingly wonderful school that I am so thankful to have). In the summer of 2011, hubby lost his job. Hubby was unemployed for several months. Because we had already used the tax return to pay for school, there was no emergency fund. We were on food stamps for 6 months. We cashed out part of hubby's 401K (I know, I know - You Dave Ramsey people are having a heart attack about now). I picked up another part-time job. Hubby found an entry-level job.

Present day 2012 - At this moment, our monthly expenses are still not less than our income. We still have some 401K money in reserve and we are eagerly anticipating our tax return. I feel like we are back to square one. I was hoping to have "arrived" at some point. But, let's be honest, the loss of a job is an unfortunate and unexpected event. The economy is terrible so job hunting is less than ideal. Combine that with the fact that we were unprepared for such a career disaster, and that sets us back a bit. Oh, and let me not forget medical bills. *sigh* It is what it is.

Okay, so back to that resolution I was referring to. This time, I don't want it to take us eight years to get things under control again. The problem is that I already feel like we are at the bare minimum as far as expenses go. At this point in our lives, we are not frivolous. Life is just, well, it's expensive. Plain and simple. Mike's truck will be for sale very soon and I'm looking at other creative ways to cut some costs. By the end of 2012 (more like July), my goal is for us to be living beneath our means. For real this time! Even if we are just a single penny under budget, I will be thrilled.

Side note: On paper, all of this looks kinda gloomy. However, I can see that God was at work through all of it. There are lots of little between-the-lines details that I left out but I firmly believe that every incidence had purpose. However, if I could go back to 2004, I would do a lot of things different, money wise. Wouldn't we all? And I'm sure it doesn't surprise you that we are still trying to pay down that blasted credit card from 2004. Ouch! Seriously, young married people - come talk to me. I got plenty of advice for ya! :)