Monday, December 16, 2013

3.0

If you've seen us in person recently, you may have heard our news.  Most everyone who knows heard it from Elsie, who has been telling even strangers.  Few have heard from me, because I'm an odd duck like that.  I'm not sure why, but I've never really liked to talk about it, not for the first two, not for this one. It's a need-to-know kind of thing with me.  So, I told my family, my close friends, my immediate coworkers and my boss.  There are still people I know that I *should* tell but I haven't yet for various and sundry reasons.  Can't I just send a Christmas card next year with an extra person in it and they can draw their own conclusions?  No?

People who know keep asking me how I'm feeling, and I start talking about school--being exhausted by the calendar and ready for a break--and they look at me like I'm crazy because they were obviously asking about the pregnancy and I started talking about something else.  Because that's what I do.

We did make it to the ultrasound appointment this last week and it was confirmed that there is only one healthy baby in there who will make an appearance sometime around the beginning of May.


This particular child holds a special place in my heart because I was the third child.  Just like with the last one (Oscar), we will meet this baby before we find out his/her sex and before giving him/her a name.  We are excited to meet this one, though I think we have conveniently forgotten what it's like to have a baby in the house.

Also, I am not mentioning this on FB and would appreciate if you would be so kind as to respect this, too.  I'm still on the fence about whether or not I'm going to shut down FB for good soon.  To much of a time waster with too much to do.

So, anyway, that's our news!

Cheers!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Camouflage Christmas

Eli has been in the National Guard for a little over three years now, and this fall has been the first time that we have made it up to see what it is that he's doing when he's dressed up in camouflage on the weekends.  In August, I had a professional development session in Guntersville and stopped in to Fort M to visit.  When we went to a wedding in Mississippi in November, we drove through so that Eli could do one day of drill.  That's the weekend we were having so much car trouble.

Then, this past weekend, the kids and I went up to participate in the family activities, which included a Santa Claus in combat boots.  :)









Sunday, December 1, 2013

December 2013 Debt Update

I feel like I've fallen off the wagon, but at the same time we are making great strides. I'll let you hear it from Eli, something he wrote to me in an e-mail this week after making a chunky payment:

I feel like we're fighting the mini-boss at the midway point in the last dungeon, and every month his health meter goes down just a tiny--but noticeable--bit. Once we kill the mini-boss, we can corral our resources to destroy the Beast Mortgage...

 I guess this makes us like the Super Mario Brothers!
Fourth 10K Chunk, started 9/24/13
  fundraising ideas 
Fundraising Thermometer
Oh, and did I mention that this last little bit of student loans is under $20,000???  Now that's something to get excited about.
Cheers!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Children, a long-awaited update

I know, I know. I haven't blogged about the kiddos for a while, and I know that most of you care more about the kids than you do about us getting to the point of being debt-free, so I'm posting this now and will go back and backdate our November debt update so this post stays on top for a while. :)

So, the little Beavers.

Let's start with the oldest:



Elsie is loving preschool. I knew she would. The entire staff at the elementary school loves her and have already told me that they are sad that we are not going to be at this school next year (where we live, we are zoned for a different K-2 school). I drive her to school in the mornings, and when I drop her off in front of the school like a big girl, she walks off and keeps turning around to tell me goodbye, and that she'll see me after school, waving the whole way.  She tolerates the weekends so that she can return to school on Mondays.



She has already been the PE Star for the week, and was the Student of the Month for her class for September--she got to have breakfast with the principal, and she brought home a bag full of goodies. We're glad that she's doing what she should be doing at school, because she certainly is trying our patience at home, behaving like a typical four-year-old (I think?).

But really, I am still constantly amazed at her stubbornness, her determination, and her imagination.  She won't let me touch her hair unless she has a specific hairstyle in mind.  Brushing it is usually out of the question, so she wears it wild.  If it weren't for her clean clothes and sparkly teeth, people at school might suspect that we neglect her, when the reality is that we just neglect her hair--at her insistence.  Occasionally I can talk her into a ponytail or pigtails, but then the hair accoutrements come home in her lunch box, having not made it all day in her hair.

She makes up fantastic games to play and solicits little brother to participate, which he usually does willingly. Her face lights up and her eyes sparkle when she has a great idea (she thinks), and she is eager for someone to be her accomplice.  She loves doing "homework" and wants to color and use markers and crayons and pencils.  She loves to play dress-up and make messes, but is not fond of cleaning any of that up and putting stuff away (it might be genetic, I admit).

Now, this little guy, is a lady killer:


So, he turned three in August, and at some point he just grew up.  He has started saying "please" instead of "mease" (which I think was a contraction for "more please"), and now says his name is "Oscar" instead of "Ah-kur".  Sigh.  I knew it was bound to happen, but I still wasn't ready.  He also has these very polite phrases that he uses.  When he says something and you correct him, he says, "I'm sorry.  I didn't know."  If you are talking and he wants your attention, he'll say, "Excuse me, Mommy."

He's taught himself how to do cartwheels (big sister is jealous) and loves to have us look at him while he's doing something craaaaazzzyy like sticking out his tongue and shaking his head.  He is constantly talking, particularly in the car, and I'll admit that half the time I'm not paying attention when he says, "Right, mama?" and if I don't say, "Right," then he gets frustrated with me.  He does not like to repeat what he says, and if I give him answer he wasn't expecting, there will always be a string of follow-up "Why?" questions.

Also, he's constantly looking out the window in the car, and wants to know why people are running or standing or walking, or why a car turned a certain direction, or why a gate is opened or closed.  It's pretty maddening that he won't take "I don't know" for an answer.  But, he loves to spot fire trucks and school buses and trains, and will get so excited about seeing another one.

He's still at the home daycare he has been at for three years.  When he started, he was one of the only boys. Since Elsie left for preschool, there are ONLY boys there, so they have a good time.  Oscar is the oldest, the leader now, so he gets to fill a role he isn't allowed when sister is around.

Here are some pictures of these hooligans together:

Halloween 2013











At cousin Elizabeth's wedding:


Flower Girl


And our first family picture in a while:


Check out the faces on the kids:



And, finally, in Oxford, AL at Freedom Park last weekend:
 





Hope this satisfies your need for blondies!

Cheers!

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 2013 Debt Update

Well, we started the new debt thermometer this month:

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


And we've been making big progress. Army money really helped this month, and our BIG NEWS is that we PAID OFF ELI'S LAW SCHOOL LOANS!!!  We feel like we're on the downhill slope with only undergrad loans to go! Having the end in sight is exciting, indeed! Cheers.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another One Bites the Dust: Debt Update, October 2013

Well, folks, it doesn't seem like such a big feat, but at the same time it does. We just finished our THIRD debt thermometer!! That means we have paid $30,000 toward our debt since October 2011 (including interest and principal). It has been two years since we started this insanity to get the rest of our debt paid off. Now, we are 60% of the way through our second half of debt, and 80% through our overall goal! Now, that's something to get excited about! Our original total was around $105,000 in February 2008, and now our debt load is down to just over $23,000. In one year, since October 2012, we have paid off $12,362--less than the year before, but still steadily forward.
Third 10K Chunk, started 1/1/13, FINISHED 9/23/2013!
fundraising ideas Fundraising Thermometer
I still would LOVE to be out of this debt before Elsie starts kindergarten next year, but I might have to settle for first grade. There's a lot of things that coming with a growing family -- a bigger car (just sold Eli's Subaru and are looking to get a truck for hunting/gardening season and a minivan by summer) since compact cars just aren't going to cut it anymore. The kids are going to have to vacate the toddler beds in the "nursery" (Elsie is getting TALL) and will make a move to bunk beds in the spare room at Christmas--we're using Christmas savings to do this, but are shopping around now to find the best deal on low bunkbeds and bunkie boards. We also are in dire need of a new bed for us, so some funds will be diverted to that. Anywho, that's where we stand right now! Just wanted to share! And I promise that I will post a few kiddo updates soon!

Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2013 Debt Update

With the onset of September, we are thisclose to finishing off our third debt thermometer, which means that we are 60% of the way through our second half of the debt load. I don't have exact numbers right now, but we are definitely under $25,000, probably even closer to $23,000. This is exciting!
Third 10K Chunk, started 1/1/13 fundraising ideas
Fundraising Thermometer
Also, in financial news, Elsie started preschool this year, so we will be able to use the money saved on daycare to continue to pay down loans (after we pay the mere fraction of a cost that is after-school care).

What I am realizing, however, is that when Elsie starts Kindergarten with Oscar on her heels, there will always be something to pay for, so we probably will need to have a sinking fund for school expenses. I admit I've had the thought about whether pursuing preschool will be worth it in the end (from a strictly financial standpoint), or if Oscar will be going to preschool next year given the chance. We'll see.

Next month I will do a summary of what we have paid off in two years!! So exciting!!

Cheers!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 2013 Debt Update

Well, I did it again.  Yes, that's right.  Two years in a row in the month of July, I single-handedly lost our money for the month.  Last year I thought it was because I hadn't put it in the envelope system yet, and I've been putting money in religiously.  This month...well...I lost the whole envelope system.

So...yeah.

The parallels in the two situations are pretty hilarious (in a very pathetic way).  It was raining.  And I ran to Kroger...twice.

Anyway, the month was a wash...again.  Blurgh.

Third 10K Chunk, started 1/1/13 fundraising ideas

Fundraising Thermometer

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Discipline around the house

First of all, I just want to thank my mother for teaching me HOW to clean a house.  I admit, when I do clean the house, deep down nitty gritty kind of clean, I can do it right.

Growing up, there was a joke about cleaning for mom (might have been my own mom's joke about cleaning for her mom?  or her mother-in-law?  I don't remember), and I'll tell you that it's kind of true.  I know that she raised me right, so when I know she's coming, I like for my house to reflect that.  On the other hand, when it's someone else coming over, they might not get the full sparkle effect.  AND when my sister shows up for a planned visit and brings my mother as a surprise (yes, that was four years ago now, and I still haven't  forgotten that sheer terror at the realization), well, you can imagine.

So, I'm here, and I've been tasked to raise the two children I have now.  And it's getting to the point where these two sweet-faced, sometimes-sassy tots need to know how to keep a house.  I'm realizing that this has to start young, otherwise it's an uphill battle.  I know that I have slacked off, both in my own housekeeping and in teaching my children standards, but now I know that now is the time, and it's about to be too late.

Heretofore, we have only made a big event of cleaning/straightening/tidying our house when people are coming over.  This usually occurred on Wednesday nights before small group at our house.  This has led to confusion by the 4-year-old when we try to make it happen at other times.

Elsie:  "Why are we cleaning up?  Are our friends coming over?"

I knew there was a problem brewing when my friend Meredith had the kids stay over at her house one Friday night while I was at cheer camp and Eli was at drill.  The report was that when Elsie was asked to help pick up toys before bedtime so that they could make room on the floor of W's room for E & O's sleeping bags, Elsie's reply was, "My mother doesn't make us clean up our toys before we go to bed."  And that got me to thinking that she was right, but she should have been wrong,

I had a Pampered Chef party at my house a week and a half ago.  It made me have to clean up the kitchen, dining and living areas.  Essentially all of downstairs.  I have been very good in the last week and a half about returning things to that level of clean.  And I've even mopped twice.  You have no idea what a feat that is, since I HATE sweeping and mopping with a passion.  Just to give you an idea, it took me almost ten years of marriage to use up one medium-sized container of PineSol.  Yeah.  I know.  Just seems like every time I mop, someone seems to spill something, have a potty accident, throw up, etc.  The rest of the time that doesn't happen (or at least I've convinced myself of this).

So, one night this week, I tell Elsie and Oscar that they need to pick up their toys downstairs before they go to bed.

Elsie (screaming at me):  "WE DON'T PICK UP OUR TOYS HERE!  WE ONLY PICK THEM UP AT MISS KAY'S HOUSE!  WE DON'T DO THAT HERE!!!!"

And I tell her that we are going to start doing that, and she starts to bargain.  "Just downstairs.  Not upstairs. Right?"  For now, I told her.  Then, on Monday of this week, they cleaned up their room and put their toys away in the correct places, and now they have to clean up upstairs, too.  This morning, I taught Elsie how to make her bed.  Tomorrow, who knows?

I have been itching to start a commission program with them (a la Financial Peace Jr. or Fisher-Kids), where they work for money to spend/save/give, but the big realization for me is that I have to set the example before I can expect them to do what I want them to do to the level I want them to do it (age appropriate, of course).  So...

I spent the afternoon deep-cleaning my bathroom for the first time since the summer of 2011, when Eli came home from Virginia (to be clear, it has been cleaned, but not DEEP cleaned).  Again, this particular project was spurned on by Elsie's commentary.  She wanted to use our toilet.  No, I told her.  Our toilet is dirty--use your toilet.  "Only adults use dirty toilets?"  Sigh.  That moved to the top of my list.

Anyway, I'll let you know how the rest goes.  The upstairs is a year-long project of its own...

Cheers.

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 2013 Debt Update

Well, it's July. We didn't have any "extra" money from the end of June paychecks, so we're just trucking along little by little.
Third 10K Chunk, started 1/1/13 fundraising ideas

Fundraising Thermometer

We have three thousand, eight-hundred something dollars and some change left to kill this debt thermometer. I think it will happen soon enough, though this will have been the longest it took us to pay off 10,000 (losing focus here and there is the culprit). We have scheduled extra money coming from the various and sundry activities of the summer time in July and August and maybe September paychecks: cheer camp, week of boring teacher training, writing and strategy games camps, NEH Landmarks seminar, and math booster class for me; Army National Guard Drug Taskforce and Annual Training for Eli. We are sooooooooooo close to paying off the high-interest loan that Eli has. I just want to see it DIE. Just sayin'. Cheers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Follow-up on Potty Training with the O-Man

I thought it might be helpful to follow-up on the potty-training trials with the little man.

Yes, he was pee trained in 3 days.  The poop thing took a little longer.

In the meantime, we decided it would be a great idea to take a quick trip to Texas for my nephew's graduation.  So, I took both kids by myself, and drove to Texas.  15 hours.  I put pull-ups on them in the car because I know there are stretches of Hwy 80 and I-20 that do not have exits or have exits lacking clean restrooms.  And you know, when you travel with two small children, every bathroom stop is an ordeal:  a parade into the restroom and a party in the handicap stall.  As mothers will find out, it is wise to let the children go potty first so that the sound of someone else peeing doesn't cause them to pee themselves.  And by the time it was my turn to go, the children were ready to go and would try to open the stall door.  Depending on the size of the stall, sometimes I could stop them, and sometimes I could not.  Yikes!

Anyway, 15 hours later we made it to Texas (no potty accidents!), and O-man had to use the potty before bed.  For the first time, he just climbed up on the potty before we had time to get out the potty seat, and he went.  And then he pooped.  That was the end of it.  We didn't even get the potty seat out for the rest of the week.  It clicked for him, and now the boy is a pooping machine. We'll be on to standing while peeing in no time.

On the night-training front, Oscar is batting .500.  Some nights dry, some nights wet.  Still trying to narrow down the causes.  Unlike Elsie, who would wake up screaming in the night when she peed, Oscar is content to roll over to a dry spot and continue sleeping.  This possibly has to do with the fact that Elsie was trained in December, and Oscar in May, and the fact that being cold in the winter is less desirable.  Or maybe Oscar is more of an easy-going problem solver.  Wet spot over here?  No problem.  Cover with pillow and move over to dry spot.

I'm sure that by the end of the summer, the boy will be standing and peeing, and staying dry all night.  We'll see, though.

Cheers.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Traveling with the Little Beavers

So, we just returned from a week-long trip to Texas.  By "we", I mean the kids and I.  Ordinarily, we work out our summer travels so that Eli can come with us, but this time we worked around a certain date:  my nephew's graduation.  Eli really couldn't get away for the week, so we packed up the car and headed to Texas.

I've traveled solo with two kids before.  It has been a while, though--not since we took a "short" 8-hour drive to see Eli when he was up in Virginia for six months at the JAG school.  I've learned a few things about traveling with little people.

1.  I have two amazing little people to travel with.  They entertain each other and themselves in the car--no problems.  See, we have a compact car.  No fancy technology.  We make long drives without the aid of DVDs.  Just the company of each other.

2.  Plan ahead for food (my kids love to eat), and all will go well.  I stock the front seat with a cooler of kid-friendly drinks (sport top bottles, etc.) and water; I also have a basket of snacks, equal part salty and sweet. I also bring empty cups:  cups with lids to give water, and cups without lids to hold loose snacks.  When necessary, stop for meals.


3.  Plan for in-car diversions, and but don't give it to them all at once.  I made that mistake last summer, haha.  They each have a backpack, and I go to the dollar store and spend about $20 on junk for them (stickers, toys, coloring books, etc) and put part of it in the backpack, the other part in the trunk for the return trip.  Last summer, I learned that crayons were a no-go after having to remove melted crayon from O's car seat.  This summer, I learned that if you give markers, you have to be willing to deal with the consequences, which I'm okay with, so we went into Chick-Fil-A with one green kid and one red kid because the best canvas is a blank one, you know?  They also each had a good time with a Slinky.  Oscar more than most.

Look, mama!  My Slinky!

I do also plan ahead and get audio books from the library.  This time I hit the gold mine in a CD that had six Arthur books on it, plus songs to go along with it.  I also brought my least-annoying toddler tunes.  And an audio book or two for me.  When one of my discs would end, we would listen to one Arthur story.  And on the return trip, I managed to get the kids to listen to the Wicked soundtrack.

If we had been plugged into electronics, we would have missed Oscar raising his markers to the sky, saying, "By the Power of Gray Skull!  I am He-Man!"  or every time he saw some, yelling excitedly in the way only an almost-three-year-old can, "More cows!!!"  We would not have had the back seat sing-along, or the random questions from Elsie because she was actually thinking:  "Mama, do Chick-Fil-A have beer?"



4.  You have to take time for little people to get out of the car to run around, so go ahead and plan for it.  But, make it a productive stop.  Combine restroom, stretching, food, and gas wherever possible.  Rest stops and welcome centers are better for running around than other places, but do what you can.

Mississippi River overlook in Vicksburg
That's a mighty big river!
Welcome to Texas.  Almost there.  But not quite
5.  It's okay to let kids be kids.  Like, when they decided to serenade the ladies' room at the Texas welcome center because there was already a stage and great acoustics.

video

Yeah, like that. Times twenty.

6.  There's no great way to do potty stops.  We all go in.  We all go.  We all come back out.  Somewhere in there someone opens a stall door before it's time and we flash the other ladies that may be in the restroom. People I'll never see again, thankfully.  But sometimes, just sometimes, you may get a free concert.

Cheers.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 2013 Debt Update

One of the best things that has happened to us since finding Dave Ramsey and his financial advice is that now we can handle financial hits without freaking out.  First, do you know about Dave's Baby Steps?  If not, here's the basic steps.  You can go to his website, www.daveramsey.com, for further information.

We have completed Baby Step 1 ($1000 emergency fund), we are working on Baby Step 2 (paying off all debt using debt snowball), and we are less than two years away from moving on to Step 3 (3-6 months living expenses in an emergency fund).  We have been budgeting and setting funds aside for recurring expenses in sinking funds.  We have more saved up now than we have in our entire marriage (all earmarked funds, of course), we have less debt than we've ever had, not including the house.  Because of this peace, financial setbacks are small problems instead of terrible tragedies.

Take for instance the day sometime in late March that we deemed it was too warm to live without turning on the A/C.  So, we turned it on.  Air was blowing.  It was warm.  Something was not right.  Well, we knew that repair would be expensive, so we stuck it out, waiting for tax refunds and another paycheck.  We ran ceiling fans and slept with the windows open.  It was not really a problem because we are really only home in the coolest part of the day--we got our air conditioning fix elsewhere.  However, when school ended and the kids and I were here during the day, it was unbearable.  So, we got it fixed.  When the man quoted the price, we didn't even bat an eye.  We were able to write a check for it right then.  Because we have an emergency fund for times such as this.  And now we have A/C.

On top of that, we were still able to make a major loan payment this month with all the extra hauling butt we have been doing.  So, here's the debt thermometer for the end of May/beginning of June:

Third 10K Chunk, started 1/1/13 fundraising ideas

Fundraising Thermometer


We are halfway through this thermometer!  Maybe we can knock this one out by the end of the summer (August!).  We have just less than $28k to pay off (remember we started with $105k, and started the debt thermometers when we had it down to $55k)!!  This is exciting, indeed!

Cheers.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Potty Training the O-Man, Day 3

Well, it was day three of the 3-day method.  Improvement was seen all around.

Oscar woke up this morning and everything was damp and smelled faintly (to me, since I don't really have a keep sense of smell), so I'm assuming that he peed the bed and kept sleeping...again.  I wonder if this will become a problem?

Overall, the day went well.  He put on fresh (Elmo) underwear at 6:45 a.m. and had those bad boys on until he was playing in the sprinkler and had to change them early evening.  One funny during the day is that Elsie was on the potty when Oscar had to go, and he stripped off his underwear to wait in line.  Evidently he couldn't hold it.  Elsie, sitting up on the toilet, swinging her legs like she had all the time in the world, yelled to me, "MOOOMMMYYY!  OSCAR JUST POOPED ON THE FLOOR!"  And so he did.  Because there was a line, and he had to go.  Oh, the turmoil of being the second or later potty-using child in your family.  Seriously, I can remember a specific time when I was little and we lived in the house on Zur Weide (Zwei) in Dansenberg, West Germany--so first, second, or third grade--where I really had to go, but one of my sisters was on the potty and I ended up peeing my pants while waiting in line in the bathroom.  But, I digress.

Sometime in the evening, Oscar told me he had to use the potty, and it turns out that his underpants were wet.

So, if we count underwear for today:
1.  Elmo -- in use until after sprinkler
2.  Mickey #1 -- put on after bath, in use until early evening
3.  Mickey #2 -- still on him as he sleeps.

One accident.  Three pairs of underwear, but only two out of necessity.

I call that success.  Don't you?

I'm a little bit nervous about taking him to daycare tomorrow.  I know he'll do fine, but still--I'm nervous. There won't be chocolate.  I'll have to take several changes of clothes.  Elsie didn't have any accidents on day three, so maybe that's why I'm not as confident.

Also, just for anyone else who is wondering about potty-training boys, we've decided to start Oscar with sitting to pee until he can recognize what the difference between his urge to pee or poo is.  Then we'll work on the standing up.  He's so short, and to precariously perch on the edge of the potty is petrifying to this proud parent.  :)

Cheers.

(I mean seriously.  I crack myself up.  A post about potty-training the ends with a [pee] alliteration?!?)

Go here for follow-up post.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Potty Training the O-Man, Day 2

Day two was much better than day one.

I believe that we only went through four pairs of underwear, unlike the 15 or so that we used on day one.  So, progress?

It's vacation, so of course Oscar woke up before me.  Since he had peed in the middle of the night and I had already changed him, he woke up dry.  But, about fifteen minutes later, 7:00, I came downstairs to him sitting around in poopy underwear.  And yes, there was squishy poop in places in my house that I would rather not have it. (We cleaned it up.)  So, we disposed of the poop in the potty (washed that underwear in a load by itself in a not-so-earth-friendly manner), and Oscar got into the bathtub.  It was the only way to get it all.  Toddler wipes be darned.

9:00 a.m. -- Pee in his underwear.
10:30 a.m. -- Pee in the potty!
12:00 p.m. -- Pee in the potty!
1:45 p.m. -- Pee in the potty!

After that, Oscar took a nap and woke up before me.  So we had to change his underwear when I woke up.    Shortly after, we had to change his underwear again, but I'm pretty sure it was because he dumped a whole ton of water on it while playing outside since it was wet all over.  Then, at one point, the boy was running stark naked in the backyard.  Upon closer inspection, so was his sister.  But, he stopped to use the potty.

He was good about using the potty.  He is definitely motivated by chocolate.  He used the potty twice before bedtime.

I checked on him around 11 p.m. and he was dry.

A good day, indeed.

Cheers.


Continue to Day 3 here.



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Potty Training the O-Man, Day 1

So, I have a 3-day weekend, and we decided that it would be a good time to do the 3-day potty training boot camp with Oscar.  First, let me just tell you that boys are different.  And O is different than E was.

First of all, E had to pee every 2 hours or so.  With O, it's been every 45-minutes.  That caught me off-guard.  One, because I'm not as focused as I should be on him, and two because I had no idea.  I probably should have been changing his diaper more often.   So, Day 1 looked like this:

7:30 a.m. -- Took off final diaper and put on BIG BOY UNDERWEAR!!  Went pee on the potty (he's been doing this in the mornings when he wakes up and at night before we go to bed).

9:00 a.m. -- Pee in underpants, but when it was discovered, he was able to pee some more on the potty.

9:45 a.m. -- Started to pee in underpants, but was whisked away to the potty, where he finished.

10:30 a.m. -- Pee in underpants.

12:10 p.m. -- Pee in underpants, but was able to finish on the potty.

1:00 p.m. -- Pee in underwear.

1:15 p.m - NAP

3:00 p.m. -- Woke up dry from nap; a little pee on the potty.

3:45 p.m. -- Pee in underwear while playing with the hose outside, found out what happens when exposed to the sound of running water.

4:40 p.m. -- Pee in the potty!  Not a lot, but some.

4:45 p.m. -- Pee in underwear while washing hands. Again found out the consequences of running water.

5:30 p.m. -- Pee on the floor in bathroom on his way to the potty.

6:00 p.m. -- He announced that he had both pee and poop in his underwear.  Flushed the poop and finished peeing on he potty.

8:00 p.m. -- Bedtime -- Pee on the potty.

Midnight -- Went in to check on him and he had wet the bed, but didn't wake up crying.  He just rolled over to a dry spot.  When I woke him up just enough to put on dry clothes and sheets, he asked me if he could put on a diaper.

So, lots of pee.  Day 1 down.  Lots of work to go.

Cheers.

Go here for Day 2.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Four fast years

She's four.  I'm certain now that I'm joining the ranks of parents everywhere in my disbelief of how fast time flies.  Here's a picture history of our girl.

On May 7, 2009, Elsie made her debut.  She was adored by all.

Our new little family on Elsie's birthday

At a year old, we made a transition to a new house, and Elsie was about to be a big sister!  She had no idea what she was in for.

Housewarming and 1st birthday party--Wizard of Oz

At two, she started her year with a full-on tantrum, upstairs in her crib screaming while all the party guests arrived.  That was the precedent for the whole year.

Family of four on Elsie's 2nd birthday--Cowgirl

At three, we began to see sparks of reason, but this little one started to develop passion and perseverance in everything she did, particularly when it came to being upset about, well..anything.

Elsie's 3rd birthday--Charlie Brown

And, at four, she's come to the other side of reason.  Every now and again she'll have a really good tantrum, but she mostly is able to be reasoned with.  She can stop, back up, and try again.  Usually asking nicely.  On the second try.  She's smart and imaginative, and she still has that perseverance that will hopefully turn into a work ethic.  We're still working on that.  She's fiercely independent and extremely friendly--she doesn't know a stranger, and wants to know everyone's names--shoppers at the grocery store, children at the park, people walking in the neighborhood, people sitting at the next table in the restaurant--and she's not afraid to ask.  She loves to change her clothes and would do it a million times if it were humanly possible, and she loves all things girly.  She's also very imaginative.  She loves stories--she loves to tell them and loves to hear them.  She eats everything and is always hungry.  She's growing like a weed.  At the beginning of the year she had to jump to flip the light switch, now she just stands on her tiptoes.  She and Oscar do much more laughing together than fighting, and they race to buckle themselves into their car seats.  Elsie loves to  be outside, and she'll tell you that she loves to play in the rain.

Elsie's 4th birthday--Strawberry Shortcake

Party at Miss Kay's house

Strawberry Girl

She's our girl.  Pride and joy.  Happy 4th birthday, Elsie. 

Cheers.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May 2013 Debt Update

May 2013
Third 10K Chunk, started 1/1/13 fundraising ideas Fundraising Thermometer

Slowly but surely, we are making progress.  Not as quickly as we would like, but the longer it goes, the harder it gets.  I have quite a few gigs lined up this summer that are for pay, so this "extra" income will help a little bit.  We'll see.

Opelika's public preschool is by lottery, and since the K-2 school for which we are zoned does not house a program, we are eligible for the lottery in both the other K-2 schools.  Unfortunately, E did not win either lottery.  Doubly unlucky, I guess.  But also a blessing.  So, yes, we are out the money for daycare for another year (which would have been a huge chunk toward loans), but, on the flip side, E & O will get to be together for another year to strengthen their sibling bond, and in putting off the formalized school experience, E & O will maximize their learning by play and development of their imaginations.  All is well.

Cheers.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What I Learned, Puzzle Party 2013

This last weekend was one with most nerdy fun that I've had in a long time.  Well since last year, anyway.

Sometime last spring, a friend from church sent an e-mail to both Eli and me, asking if we would be interested in joining her team for this puzzle competition.  She thought and thought about everyone she knew who would be geeky enough to want to do it, and well, she thought of us.  The crux:  she only needed one of us.  I thought for sure that Eli would make me arm wrestle for him for it, but he let me be the one to go. 

So, one Saturday morning, we met at the student center on Auburn campus, and our team was given a packet of puzzles to solve during the course of the day.  We stayed at the student center and barely remembered to eat and go to the bathroom, we were so wrapped up in the puzzles.  At the end of the day, the scores were added up, and we came in second to last--but we had such a ton of fun.

Fast forward to October -- the organizer of the puzzle parties sent out an e-mail announcing his party for spring 2013.  I immediately e-mailed him to sign up a team.  Then, I silently recruited other middle school teachers to participate with us as the pink team. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013.  Eric's 13th Puzzle Party (EPP13) -- Your Lucky Day -- started at the thirteenth hour, lasted for thirteen hours, and teams were given 13 puzzles to solve.  I, along with four of my colleagues and one's boyfriend's little brother, travelled to the Auburn campus to participate.  On the way there, MM confided that she was nervous we wouldn't even be able to solve the first puzzle.

After rules were explained and directions given, we left were told to begin.  We were given the grid to a logic problem, but the clues were hidden all over the Haley Center.  We were in luck.  A bunch of teachers (most of whom graduated from Auburn) running around the School of Education.  We even had an inside scoop to some quiet seating areas where we could work through our puzzle.  It took an hour, but we finally solved the puzzle.  When we went to submit our answer, we saw that we were ahead of about half of the teams.  Sweet!

We retreated to MM's house where we looked as some of the puzzles.  At the end of the long night, we were able to solve six puzzles.  At the wrap-up party on Sunday, we found that we came in seventh out of thirteen teams.  We were thrilled.  And we even got the highest score on a maximization puzzle.  Heck, we'll take it.  And now I'm so ready for next year.

Some things I learned:

1.  There are code cheat sheets available, like this one.  (This one was provided by the party coordinator.  I thought it was inclusive, but that's because I didn't know.)
2.  There are codes that are not on code cheat sheets (at least, not ones I could find).  Say, for instance, pigpen cipher.  And if you have no idea what they are or where to start looking, well, it's going to take you a lot longer to solve puzzles than a team of math graduate students.
3.  In coding, a letter followed by a number usually indicates a Caesar shift. This information would have been VERRRRRY helpful for the Angel's Antiques puzzle.  Next time.  Next time.
4.  Braille dots are numbered 1-3 down the first column, and 4-6 down the second column.  I was on the right track, but had them numbered incorrectly.
5.  I learned what a Polybius Square is and how to use it. Watch out.
6.  A substitution cipher is not necessarily the same as a ROT cipher.  This was unexpected, though I'm not sure why.
7.  There are pentomino puzzle solvers that people, like math grad students, use, like this one.  Cheaters.  Okay, so I'm a sore loser about that one.  So what?  Now I know.
8.  A tare is a noxious weed.
9.  There is so much that I don't know, but I'm still pretty dang smart (even with the brain cell degeneration that has resulted from having children).
10.  Solving puzzles is much more fun when fellowship and friends are involved.

So, that was my weekend.  If this at all strikes your fancy, you should visit the website of the creator.  Eric Harshbarger is a Lego sculptor and a puzzle maniac.

Cheers.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April 2013 Debt Update

Well, I've been behind for a couple of months on the debt updates, so I figure I should just pick up where we are starting with this month.


 Third 10K Chunk, started 1/1/13

  fundraising ideas
 



I'm not gonna' lie.  For me, it feels like things are slowly unraveling as we get down to the nitty gritty.  I'm going to go ahead and complain--it's SO hard to stop spending money.  We are this close || to having our loan totals drop below $30k.  Everything will be easier once that first number becomes a 2, right?

I've also thought back to the plan to have everything paid off by the time Elsie starts kindergarten.  That's 17-ish months from now.  We have slowed down from our original momentum, so we'll need to step it up a notch.  We'll see how that goes.  Until next month..

Cheers.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Zoo & Easter (Picture Heavy)

First of all, I just want to say how much I love that we upgraded our high speed internet.  I just uploaded 25 pictures in no time (under 1 min.).  Used to be that I had to be very selective so that I didn't have to wait so long--it would take an hour to upload 10 photos.  Oi!

So, anyway, on Thursday before Easter, we went with some church friends to the Montgomery City Zoo.  And when we were there, we ran into my neighbor that I've never met.  She parked next to us, and when we got to talking as we got the kids out of the car, she had noticed one of the license plates numbers of another mom in our group (they start with county number in AL) and knew we were from Lee County.  Turns out we live one street away.  Small world.  :)  We left from the zoo and drove to Mobile to see the grandparents.  We were there all day Friday, and left squirrely in the morning on Saturday to return home for a birthday party.  

Flamingos

Hanging on the rail

Mama!  The ducks have one leg! 


Zebras!  (in the background)

What's that?

Far!

Tiger!

Group picture of friends!
Tuckered out on the way from zoo to Mobile.


Long day.

Swinging at the Spanish Fort playground.

Balance beam

Don't push me, Oscar!

Across the bridge!

On the rope bridge--what balance!

Easter Sunday
Don't touch my eggs, Daddy!





Did somebody say chicken dance?

Do something silly.

Smile!  Okay, make a silly face, then!

Egg Hunt

Do you see it?

Here it is!
And there you have it, the end of spring break.  :)

Cheers.