Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

Honestly, I had already decided not to do Halloween costumes this year. There's been so much going on that I just didn't want to stress myself out about it. But, the daycare provider wanted the kids to come in costume for a little party, so I looked around. In a box of boy clothes that Aunt Bev had sent, I found a Spider-Man costume. Score! Free costume. Then a friend at church mentioned that her son was going as a cowboy since he still had his hat from Elsie's party, and I thought, hey, that's not a bad idea. So this year, no family theme, just Spider-Man and the cowgirl, and Daddy Sheriff. We went trick-or-treating to a couple of the neighboring houses. Elsie loved it. People gave out SO MUCH candy to a 2-year-old. I wanted to scream, "Are you CRAZY??" But then, I knew that the adults would eat most of it, so it was okay. Haha.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Jack-o-Lantern Lane

Last year we went to the Farmer in the Dell pumpkin patch out highway 14 toward Loachapoka. It was nice, but it was dusty and there wasn't a whole lot that was friendly for the little little ones. This year we tried a new place. We went out to Jack-o-Lantern Lane in LaFayette, AL. It was a hit. They had an inflatable park ("I wan play!" -- Elsie), train ride, tractor ride, petting zoo, and pumkin patch. We might go back there again next year. It was definitely worth the drive.

I'm sorry, but...

No one held a gun to my head and made me take out student loans. In fact, going to a private college was my choice when public universities wanted me to go for considerably cheaper. I understood that I was going to be paying on those loans for a long time after I graduated--and I chose to sign my name anyway. I could have gone to a public school, 2-year, or 4-year. I would have had less debt. But I didn't. This decision had many consequences:

1. I didn't drop out of school when it got hard. I knew I needed to see a return on my investment.

2. I worked at least two jobs all through college, until my senior year when I could only contractually work the one.

3. I valued all aspects of my schooling more, because I was paying for it. I didn't waste meals on my meal plan, and I didn't blow money on stupid stuff. I didn't party, and I didn't join a cost-prohibitive sorority.

4. I spent two years working for AmeriCorps, away from the man I was going to marry, getting my feet wet in the field of education, with the bonus of an education credit to use toward my loans or toward graduate school (I used it for both). I worked extra jobs on top of my 50 hours a week of volunteer-work, not because I *had* to, but because I wanted to. I knew that I had to make a dent in my debt-load at age 21. And I did.

5. I paid double payments on my loans from the very beginning of repayment, even when I only made $700/month. When we got married and joined our finances, this was a non-negotiable. Double payments. And so, within seven years of finishing my master's degree, I was rid of those dang loans. Thirteen years early. Because that is what I CHOSE to do. I could have spent that extra payment-worth of money buying lots of stuff that the Jones' have, but I DIDN'T.

This whole Occupy Whatever seems to be a lot of blame-shifting. Yes, there's corruption in government, but I'm going to share a secret with you. Shhh.. Don't tell anyone: The government is PEOPLE!! It's PEOPLE!! (Think: Soylent Green). People are sinful, corrupt. So, therefore a government of the people, by the people, and for the people cannot be and should not be expected to be perfect.

I am NOT a victim. I am the product of my choices through God's will and grace in my life. I will not blame anyone else for my situation, because there is no one else to blame. I will not judge others in their choices, but I will not listen to their false cries of victimization. I will continue to pay my taxes and let Caesar use those taxes to do what he will. I will continue to vote to convey my preferences for how my taxes are used. And I will continue to give to God what is God's. (Ref. Matthew 22:21).

And there is no such thing as lucky or unlucky.

That is all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

In over my head

So, I've failed at blogging for the last...2 months? I'm still not going to succeed too much tonight, except to tell you all that we are busy. Too busy. Whenever we drop an activity to salvage some sanity (goodbye Kaplan, being greeters at church, working the nursery), another one creeps into its place (hello kickball, Coast Guard, eLearning classes, church dinners, small group, church committees, worship team). No, really--did anyone else notice that we dropped three activities and replaced them with..SEVEN? It's a sickness.

Eli's work schedule has been hectic with trials and dockets, etc. My schedule has been exhausting, and I'm still not getting everything done that I need and want to get done, including updating the blog. Unfortunately, this season of life is not soon to pass, and our internet is not soon to get faster, thus uploading photos takes forever.

I do have a phone again (thanks, Mom). But I'm having to rebuild everything from my SIM card that was stolen. So, I probably don't have your number anymore. :( Five years on that SIM card. Five years. If you're reading this and you have my e-mail address, I probably had your number in my phone. Can't hurt to send me an e-mail and give me your digits again, right?

So, what's been happening in my otherwise-charmed life?

I went to the dentist. I have three cavities that need to be filled early December. The dentist and hygienist made a joke of me (not about the cavities, about my response to if I floss--yes, but I ran out and haven't replaced it because it's not in the budget this month) and wouldn't let it go. But I did get an extra free sample spool of dental floss and was told that when I run out I can come back and they'll give me more. Thanks. I'm never eating sugar anything again. And I might switch dentists.

A friend from church came up to me while I was holding Oscar and touched my belly and asked, "Another one in the oven?" No, just fat. And then she started talking to me about belly fat and recommending some books. I'm never eating carbs again. (She's a nurse, so I'm not that offended. To her credit, I do stand with my hips pushed forward as my natural posture, and for some reason, it's exaggerated when I'm holding a baby on my hip. Oh, and I have belly fat.)

Oscar ran into the table at daycare and has a shiner. It's an O around his eye. Just like in the movies. Who knew?

Elsie has been a two-year-old, but believe it or not, it has improved as she's made it further into her third year on the planet. More words and communication mean fewer tantrums. More sass, but fewer tantrums. I'll take what I can get.

On the flip side, O is all about the instant gratification. And when he isn't instantly gratified, our eardrums border on rupturing from his pathetic screams of injustice. It's a put-on, because once he gets what he wants, he gives this little half laugh ("heh heh"). But I sure hope this phase passes soon, because it's just not cute. I also noticed tonight that he looked at me when Elsie pushed him, waiting to see if I noticed (I did), and then he started his crying, looking right at me and conjuring enormous crocodile tears. Ugh. Toughen up, kid. Welcome to your life as a little brother to Hurricane E.

So, yeah. We're here. Keep us in your prayers. :)


Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Day at the Park and the Playground

Town Creek Park

Dean Road Recreation Center Playground


Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Many Faces of Dr. No (also known as Elsie)

We went to Guthrie's before Oscar got his hair cut. Ignore Elsie's hair. It had been wet, and then it dried. Mostly, she was just hamming it up while we ate. She cracks us up.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Curls are for girls (O's first haircut)

Broke my hear to take my sweet baby boy to have all his curls chopped off, but it was time. (So said Eli.)


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Debt Transparency

Conversations with friends, family, and acquaintances about money have been coming up over and over again in the last six months or so. Through these conversations, I have been very transparent with our debt, where we've come from and where we're headed. A big shout-out first to God for his grace, and a secondary shout-out to Dave Ramsey for teaching Biblical principles for handling money.

If you're reading this and you are lost financially, or you feel like you could be doing more, I'm going to direct you to Dave Ramsey, to his book The Total Money Makeover, to his baby steps, to his fantastic class, Financial Peace University, and to his movement, The Great Recovery.

Now, on to where we are. We took FPU in February of 2008 at our church in T-town. Then we moved,had two children, and bought a house in the middle there. And we just kept trucking along, adjusting our monthly cash-flow plan and debt snowball (Baby Step 2) to roll with the punches. Almost a year ago, we paid off my student loans. Earlier this year we paid off our both our credit cards. Aside from the mortgage (which is Dave's Baby Step 6), the only debt we have left is student loan debt--$52k of student loan debt. Feeling disheartened, thinking that we haven't made a very big dent in the overall debt, I decided to go back and get all the records I could from February 2008 to present and find out how far we've come, and I'm equally excited and pained to say that we have paid off more than $53,000 in debt in 44 months (thank you, homeowner's tax credit, for the boost)! We are halfway there!

I went onto the forums on (subscription membership is so worth it for the entirety of Dave's daily 3-hour radio program) looking for motivation while staring at defeating our remaining debt, and someone suggested breaking that debt into small chunks and working it from there, using a debt thermometer to track progress. Excellent idea!

I hereby declare war on our chunks, $10k at a time. So, I'm going to post our progress on each of 5 chunks of $10k in the form of a debt thermometer, updated monthly (or more often if I'm particularly inspired). And yeah, it still might take us 5 years to pay it all off, but I'm hoping it doesn't! And yes, there will be more than 5 chunks of 10 once interest is said and done, but we have to start someplace, right? So, in October of the year 2011, we start with our empty, new chunk:

First 10K Chunk, started 10/1/11
fundraising ideas
Fundraising Thermometer