Saturday, April 5, 2014

Little Craftspeople

I'm excited that E & O are at the age where they can do activities that require some fine motor skills.  This morning, we braved Hardee's for biscuits (along with all the gray-haired people in Opelika) and then headed over to the Home Depot for our first Saturday morning Kids' Workshop.

A couple of weeks ago, the Home Depot people came to Elsie's preschool class and they created bug catchers--I just remember the look in her eye when she talked about how she had to hammer the pieces together--it was sheer joy.  She got a little badge for her project, but we didn't have any place to put it.  Then, this week, we got an invitation to a little friend's birthday party--at the Home Depot.  It's the second weekend in May, and the kids will be completing a project.  Granted, 3.0 should be here by then (fingers crossed) so Eli will probably have to take the kids.  And if we're in labor at the hospital that day, then, well, we'll have to find someone who will take them.

But, back to today:

It was crowded, and I'm awkwardly shaped, so that made sitting on buckets and bending over two-by-twelves-cum-workbenches very uncomfortable, but it was a great experience.

The painting was a success, but then we had very wet projects, so we  brought them home and finished them once they dried.  Of course the one shot where they both were semi-normal looking, my cell phone camera wouldn't pick up the light.

Who am I kidding?  This is more like normal:

I mean, look at these precious faces.  Am I blessed or what?

Cheers.  :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April 2014 Debt Update

Wowza, what a month!

March was very busy.  Eli was gone with the Army (which means more $$ to pay on debt) a bit, and there were some other financial decisions that helped us to make some headway with our debt.  So much so that we're almost done with our FOURTH DEBT THERMOMETER!!
Fourth 10K Chunk, started 9/24/13
  fundraising ideas
Fundraising Thermometer

So, this month, we were able to pay $3162.52 on our debt.  Yes, that's right.  Over $3,000.  A huge chunk of that was an insurance policy that we cashed in after reviewing our coverage.  And then the rest of it was the aforementioned $$ from the Army.  We probably won't have another cash windfall like this before we pay off all the debt, but it sure does feel good to get some momentum early in the year!  If we keep the focus, we are on track to be debt-free before 2015!

It has been fun to talk about what we are going to do when we get out of debt.  It comes up more and more frequently.  Obviously, we are going to be following Dave Ramsey's baby steps (next step is the fully funded emergency fund)--but what kinds of things have we put on hold for the last several years?  That's where our conversations are leaning.  I know this sounds strange, but I'm really excited about funding an IRA.  Just sayin'.

This week also marks the last week of our FPU refresher course.  We were supposed to be done at the beginning of March, but we had two snow days and one spring break day, so we had to spread the calendar out.  It has been good to sit and listen to the messages again.  Some little things I have forgotten, and some I liked better the first time around (things Dave went into more detail in the 2008 FPU course).  All in all, I'm glad that we decided to attend again.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Feeling It

Okay, I'm going to be honest, even at the risk of sounding like a complaining pregnant woman...

I'm feeling it.  For the first time in three pregnancies, I am feeling it.  Me versus the stairs?  The stairs win every time, even when there's just four of them.  Me versus loading/unloading the washer and dryer.  I lose.  Standing for too long?  I'm aching and needing to sit down.  Sitting for too long?  My legs fall asleep and I need to stand up.

This never happened before.  At least, I don't remember it.  It has been almost four years.

With Elsie, I left work on maternity leave five weeks before my due date (one of those weeks was spring break), and she came a week early.  So, things got less stressful (and believe me, work was very stressful, which is why I left so early) at 35 weeks, and I cruised into her difficult 27-hour delivery at 39 weeks with little stress and lots of heartburn--my only pregnancy complaint.

With Oscar, I had the whole summer, went back to work for a week, and then he came on his due date (40 weeks) in just a couple of hours.  I wasn't on my feet all day, as a general rule; it wasn't the height of allergy season.  I mean, I did have to chase around a 12-15-month-old during the summer, and we moved to a new house, etc., etc., but all in all it was a pretty laid back summer. From what I remember, I felt good--so good, I was pretty sure I was going to go to work about four hours before Oscar was born.  My only complaint during that pregnancy?  The heartburn.

So, for whatever reason, I hit the 33-week mark this time (now I'm at 34 weeks), and it's not the same.  I don't feel great, but I don't feel terrible.  Mostly I'm just feeling blah.  Easily winded.  Very little stamina.  With lots of heartburn (go figure).  I'm still at work.  It's not even April yet.  But it is allergy season.  And I have two preschoolers to keep up with when I'm not keeping up with my 100+ teenagers.  I have six weeks or so left to go.  Six. Long. Weeks.

Believe me when I say that it doesn't help when people say, "You're not going to make it to your due date." Am I huge?  Not really.  I've seen the picture where we took right before we left for the hospital with Oscar, and it appears I have quite a bit of room to grow yet.  Do I look beat down?  Because I'm seriously trying to put on a happy face.  People at work have even commented on the spring in my step (at least until I get to the top of the stairs).  I'm actually afraid that this baby will take this assertion that I'm not going to make it as a challenge to cook a little longer.  Please baby, do not go past 40 weeks.  Please.

All this to say that I need your prayers.  I covet your prayers--for whatever you think I need during this time.  Patience?  Endurance? Stamina?  Reassurance?  Easy access to antacids?  Any of that and much, much more.

Thank you, friends.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sibling Moments

They drive me insane and up the wall, but then they do crazy stuff like this, and it makes my heart smile.  Figuratively.

In the new van, last Friday, on our way to the Auburn gymnastics meet.  


Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 2014 Debt Update

As we begin March, we've made a little progress:

Fourth 10K Chunk, started 9/24/13
  fundraising ideas 
Fundraising Thermometer

February was a weird month, but it wasn't bad. Mostly, it just highlighted the fact that we eat out too much. I mean, within the first week of the month we had used all our entertainment budget on restaurants with the kids--so, no date nights or anything. All of our cash envelopes were empty with a week left in the month. We have some bad habits to break.

 On the bright side, we did make a big purchase with cash: a minivan. As owners of two compact cars for 10+ years, we knew that we would eventually need to replace one of the cars, and would need a larger vehicle when we had a third child, so we've been putting money into a car replacements fund for several years. In the last three years (since O was born) we have beefed up our contributions a little bit, just so that we would have some money to use when the time came. We have known since we graduated from FPU in 2008 that we never wanted a car payment again, so it was important to us to save up and pay for the whole shabang in cash.

 Let's just say that it was disappointing to shop for used minivans with the money we had, though I thought it was a pretty large chunk. Most of the vans within our price range were ten years old with moderate mileage. But, we kept looking. One day, I found a van on Craigslist that was four years newer (with low-to-moderate mileage) than my other searches, was at the max of our savings, and was in Atlanta. That's a ways to drive (1.75 hours) to look at a van that we may not buy, but if I were to put it all in perspective, we drove from Waco to Houston to buy the Subaru (new) in 2004, and that's about three hours. So, one Saturday, we packed up the kids and drove up to NE ATL and spent the whole afternoon appraising this car, test driving, running through our checklist, keeping the kids from going bonkers being cooped up in the Saturn, negotiating a deal. And we drove home with a 2008 red Town & Country Touring with 118,000 miles and some change. That's low mileage for us, considering the Saturn is about to turn over 250,000 miles and is still going strong (Saturns are such good cars--wish they still made them!) and the truck we have has over 300,000 miles. I was a bit leery of buying a used car, and this was from a wholesale dealer, so I prayed over this van on the way up there and while we were there, asking God to show us if there were any major problems with this van. There was nothing obvious so we bought it. But, there are some (minor?) electrical issues, and as we build up our maintenance and repair fund again, we will take care of that. In the meantime, it is eagerly trying to serve its purpose, but is awaiting its third pint-sized passenger.

 Anyway, this van is the fanciest vehicle I've ever driven and could even dream of owning--and the things that impressed me are things I didn't even know about when I test drove it. For instance, there's a back-up camera (somehow, I didn't notice this when I was test-driving). Say what? And the headlights come on automatically when the wipers are on--so cool! I'm rather a fan of the integrated garage door opener, the optional lumbar support, the power lift gate--open AND close!!--and the kids love the automatic doors. I realize that some of you think this technology is so old school, but seriously, the Saturn is the base model from 2000--no power anything--not even power steering--and a standard transmission (which, I confess, I like better than automatic, but, alas, minivans do not come with standard transmissions), so I feel like I'm driving a vehicle from the future, even though the technology has been around for at least seven years. Humor me. :)

So, this means that the March budget has to be adjusted for gasoline, insurance, repair fund, and vehicular taxes for next year. But, it will be worth it. :)