Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tales of O & E

Overheard after naptime this afternoon:


O:  I'm following you because you're my best. sister. ever.

E:  Leave me alone!

And then, surprisingly, they proceeded to play nicely together.

It's times such as these that I feel blessed to have had them close enough to be real playmates.  I think O-man has benefited the most from this.  We played with a little friend yesterday that is four months younger than O (and while not the only child, his two siblings are teenagers) and the speech difference was strikingly noticeable.  "Oscar come play?" he asked when he wanted to know if we could come back over one day soon.  Oscar would have said something like, "Can he come over to our house to play tomorrow, too?"  In fact, he kept asking afterward if we could go back the same afternoon and play at his house again.  (We've been working on the concept of invitations--we can't go unless we are invited.)

I think Elsie likes to have a partner in crime most of the time, but I think that's because she can blame anything/everything on him.  Also, they get to practice their manners on each other before we send them out into the world.  They're fighting over something, and we get to remind them that we haven't heard either of them ask nicely.  Usually, they stop, change their tone, and ask in a nice way.  Oscar will almost always relent once Elsie uses a nice tone.  Elsie, on the other hand, loves to frustrate Oscar and tell him no, which causes more tears.  She will, usually, eventually, give in, but not always.  We definitely have a stubborn girl on our hands, a real drama mama.  :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"When I asked Santa for a baby doll, he thought I said Barbie doll." -- Elsie, 4.5

Elsie said this to me today, out of the blue, as we pulled into the church parking lot for a women's brunch.  She is still clearly disappointed, even a month later.  And she will be in therapy one day, I'm sure....

Friday, January 24, 2014

Times such as these

It is with great relief that the end of January comes for me.  It signals the end of the craziness that is the autumn/early-to-mid winter:  college football, back-to-back holidays, hunting season.

This last weekend, we had a rare three-day weekend.  We made plans to spend most of it with my sister and my niece and nephew whom we haven't seen since early June, so when they cancelled their trip unexpectedly, we had two days wide open.  (You know, because of course one of the three was reserved for hunting...).

Sunday, after church, Eli and I took the kids to an Auburn women's basketball game--because we had free ticket vouchers that included free popcorn.  General admission to women's games includes floor seating (woot!), and the sparse spectatorship allows greater access to the 2014 UCA National Mascot Champion mascot (I don't care if you're not an Auburn fan--you can't deny the awesomeness of that tiger) and the Chick-Fil-A cow.  Also, fewer kids there means the adults that catch the parachuting plush cows feel more compelled to give them away to little kids (hello, free waffle fries!).  Women's basketball, outside of Baylor and a partial handful other elite programs, is, well, not so great.  We were watching the #10 team in the nation play Auburn (and eventually win by a point, coming from behind at the half), but it really felt like we were watching high school basketball. And that's pretty much just...meh.  However, I'm starting to hatch plans for Elsie to be a basketball player so that she can get a scholarship to play somewhere, because it apparently can't be that hard.  But, seriously, the experience reinforces for me that I LOVE living in a college town, even if it's not a college that my in-laws particularly like.  Just having an event like that to attend as a Sunday afternoon excursion is awesome--and we hardly spent any money to do it--just gasoline to get there and two drinks for the four of us to share.

Sunday afternoon, I was able to go (kid-free!) and meet with a friend and her husband about budgeting.  You know I love to talk about Dave Ramsey!  I had loaned them the DVDs from the old 13-week FPU so that they could start a conversation with each other about their finances, and I loved that they asked me to come over and peek at their preliminary cash-flow plan and talk about how to get that Baby Step 1, a $1000 beginner emergency fund in the bank, completed.

And finally, Sunday afternoon, I was able to finish catching up on all the back episodes of a series I found that I really like:  Elementary.  It's a different Sherlock Holmes show than the BBC's, and it is pretty fantastic.

So, this is a sneak peak into the mundanity (yes, I just made that up) that is my bliss.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Cold Turkey

This month I quit (deactivated, not deleted) Facebook (FB) cold turkey.  I thought about all the pros and cons of keeping it, and really, as far as Facebook itself there are more pros than anything.  But that does not take into consideration my personality, my easily-addicted-to-technology personality, which is the biggest CON of all.  When I would get home from work, I would zone out with FB on my phone when I should have been paying attention to the little people--or feeding them, at the least.  Same with when Eli and I would be sitting in the same room, instead of engaging with each other, I would be passing time on FB.  This last fall, I developed the worst habit:  I would wake up at 2 a.m. (for whatever reason), and cruise FB on my phone for somewhere around an hour before I fell back to sleep.  I'm not going to use the clinical term "addicted", but I will tell you that we were approaching a certain level of manic FB-checking that may have eventually become something extremely serious.

Coming into the new year, I considered just cutting back to weekends only, or only after the kids were in bed, or something.  But I know myself better than that and knew that if I didn't just stop all together, it would slowly creep back up to the levels of insanity.  So, for now, we take a hiatus.

I've only been off for 11 days now, and I can't tell you how difficult it has been as I craft clever status updates in my head that have nowhere to go, no one to sympathize, no one to "like" them.  I hadn't thought about Candy Crush Saga until now, and now I'm sure I will dream about it.  I'm out of the loop as far as the hottest articles to be read and the latest deals to be found, but honestly I don't really miss it--it was just such an ingrained part of my daily routines that I'm noticing its absence.

Again, I know myself, so I know that I will be back, but only after I feel like I have some sort of control over it.  In the meantime, you know what I'm going to do?  Read a book. Or ten.  And get my life and environment ready for the arrival of 3.0.  And yes, I'll be blogging and reading blogs and watching hulu, etc., but my bedtime routine will not consist of staying up after bedtime or getting up in the middle of the night to check FB.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

January 2014 Debt Update

Happy 2014!
Fourth 10K Chunk, started 9/24/13
  fundraising ideasFundraising Thermometer

As we ended 2013, we had just under $19,000 in student loan debt left--Eli's undergrad loans from Baylor. Actually, for morale-boosting purposes, I need to write that as $18,000 and some major change. I'm just so humbled at how we have worked together to get to this point.

So, here's what 2014 has in store for us:

1. Ideally, we will buckle down and pay off this debt THIS YEAR. If not, that's okay, but that's the goal; even if we fall short, we will at least make MAJOR strides and get this knocked out in early 2015.

2. We are going to re-take Financial Peace University this year, starting in two weeks. We need all the momentum we can get to reach our goals, so I think that another go-round through FPU will be a good starting point for the year. We took the class in 2008, and since then Dave Ramsey has updated his class from 13-weeks to 9-weeks. Obviously, the main stuff will be the same, but we've been through a recession since then and I kinda' want to hear the updated stuff in those regards. Plus, sitting and talking with other people weekly will keep us on the right track. And honestly, the competitive side of me will feel better hearing how terribly other people are doing--but I'll quash that as much as possible, remembering where we were sitting six years ago. I'll try, anyway. ;)

3. We are open to possibilities and adventure. Obviously, the addition of another rugrat will be an adventure in and of itself, plus it will require the reworking of the budget, putting double daycare as well as diapers and wipes back into the equation for the first time since...well, May, when O was potty-trained. But also, in the possibilities and adventure category comes job stuff. I'm going to be working for the Alabama Learning Exchange training some teachers in technological mumbo-jumbo--and will clear a small chunk of money to go toward debt, but will also hopefully be paving the way for future gigs with them. So far, my school district has been VERY supportive in my interest in these areas. Eli will be waiting to see how the NFL draft pans out, as well as the Army's plan for his career, while continuing with his third (first?) job of NOT doing criminal defense. We will walk in faith and know that whatever will be will be, and we will meet it head on, ready to ride the wave. I actually am giddy at the possibilities and have to talk myself down from my super-over-planning high that I get from playing with this choose-your-own-adventure thing we call LIFE. (And seriously, when I start playing that game while knowing that we will be DEBT FREE--it's really hard to reign in my imagination!).

On a separate note, my family thought we were crazy for the longest time, but slowly we turned them to the Dave side, and hopefully they understand what it is that we are doing and WHY we are doing it this way right now while the children are small.

I recently had a friend make a comment to me about how we have made money (or lack of it) our idol, and the evidence of that is that we don't ever do anything fun.  Ouch.  I know this friend meant well, though. Dave says that if your friends think you're crazy, you're doing something right.  ;)

Money (or lack of it) is not our idol--it's an obstacle to "giving like no one else," our ultimate goal.  This time in our life is about choices and sacrifices.  Yes, I see pictures of my friends' children who are the same age as E and O participating in soccer and dance and what have you.  Does that necessarily mean that we're terrible parents because our children (who are too young to even remember these things later, except through pictures) are not doing these things?  Absolutely not.  The choice we are making to not do those things right now is ours to make.  The ultimate goal is that we will be out of debt by the time it will matter to our children. Yes, I want them to play sports and learn to dance and play musical instruments, but not right now.  They will be okay.  I promise.

And, for the record, I do fun things.  WE do fun things.  Usually they are cheap or free.  I don't feel deprived.  But the perception that we don't do fun things is, I feel, just a reflection on this stage of our lives, and not necessarily a reflection on our view of money.  We have two small children that need attention.  As much as I would love to be able to balance my different selves--Erin the wife/mother, Erin the teacher, Erin the friend, Erin the fun girl I knew in college, Erin the crafty girl--I'm only able to marginally balance the first two right now, and that's with much prayer!  This too shall pass, but right now I'm right where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing.

Happy New Year!