Friday, April 30, 2010

A letter to myself...

Dear Self,

You use to come here often. You use to write and you'd leave feeling like you could move forward, move on, move up, but we haven't talked in awhile. I'm not sure where you've been, but I've missed you. I know the road through life has ups and downs. I know you've been walking an up and down road for the last few months, but I want to tell you a few truths amidst the lies that try to defeat you:
You are loved.
You are worthy.
You are worth loving.
I think you forget these things. I watch you get caught up in looking out and seeing those greener pastures and they bring you down. I watch you trip but it's time to pick yourself back up. Stop looking at all the books you've bought and letting them collect dust. Pick them up, read them like you planned. Start living again because you and I both know there is SO much to live FOR.
Take a minute- count your blessings. Recognize your truths:
-You have an INCREDIBLE husband who's gifts of patience and endurance fill in where you are weak.
-You have a beautiful son who's perfectly healthy. Nickname him Evil Spawn if it makes you laugh, but realize, he LOVES you and he just wants to be understood.
-Remember, you act a lot like your son when you feel misunderstood or when you are misunderstanding the "Not Yet's" in life as "No's"
-You are creative. It will never match the talents of others, it will only be yours and what you can do.
-People are just people. Stop fighting the reality of who people are and start accepting them how they are. In the wake of those realities, do what you need to do to take care of you because no one else is going to do it for you.
-You have some amazing friends and some amazing family members. Get back in touch with them. Give what you don't have: energy, and you will find it again.
-Forgive & move forward.

You started this year with a mantra, this year would be THE YEAR OF INTENTION. Resurface your heart and keep fighting. This life's a good one and your God is a GREAT God. Stand up-Worship-FIGHT every day for truth!

Welcome back, self. I've missed you!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Big Top Birthday

The Midge is 2!
...and there's just something about it that's oh so
it's a wee bit like a carnival ride.
Sometimes I wonder, "Did the carnies include ALL the pieces for this seemingly unsafe ride?"
and others I think, "This is more amazing than cotton candy.I seemingly had no idea how much of a metaphor his party theme would actually be,
but while totally exhausting--it was totally worth it.
I had so much fun giving my brain 2 months to come up with the little details that made this day fun for me
(and hopefully others).
So the company is gone.
The family has left.
And the amazing red velvet cake has been eaten.
We are tired but alive and have so much to be thankful for!
{like a healthy, totally normal, testing boundaries midget monster!}

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Ca$h kind'a life

Living on Cash is something that I feel I am hearing a lot more of these days and yet it is something my hus and I have literally always done. We have an emergency credit card but we learned early on to live only with what we could afford. Today there are courses by people like Dave Ramsey who are teaching people to live the way we have for over three years.

During the course of our marriage, we have felt financial discouragement as we've felt like we've watched the material world surpass us but all along the way we've said, "We're doing this the right way for us." Now we are encouraged as we listen to people like Dave give financial tips that we already have in place because we had to. They are things that we have just done on our own and they have set us up for a stronger future (which has been what our temporary sacrifices have been ALL about!)

So I wanted to take a minute to share some of the ways that we live within our means...

No Cable. $100 a month is a lot to watch TV. During our first year of marriage we decided that we would not have cable so we would invest our time more wisely in each other. This has been an awesome choice for us. We utilize Netflix instead for $15 a month

Virtual Cash Envelopes. We use for our monthly budget for Groceries, Baby, & Date Nights. Each time we spend money, we reclassify the expense by logging into mint that's connected with our banka ccount so it deducts from our monthly allotments. It keeps us very focused on spending wisely, using coupons, and within our budget. Many people use actual cash envelopes but to us, taking out our full monthly allotments at once isn't an option and it's less convenient to go to the bank. If you can be organized enough to go virtual it works.

Entertainment. This falls under the date night category but we've found great tricks to saving money on our date nights, too. One is to buy your movie tickets from Costco where they sell two movie tickets for $15 vs. spending $10 each at the theater. $5 is a lot of savings! Another fun thing is that our families know we enjoy our date nights so birthdays and holidays often yield restaurant gift cards.

Lists. We love lists in this house (Okay, I love lists). We have a Home Project List, a Dream List, and an Activity List. Whenever we feel the "I'm bored itch" coming on we check our list and automatically have something to do and it's often free. Walking downtown, going to Farmer's market, Local community events, Beach Walks, Free Museums. Theme parks, unless it's Disneyland, all have coupons so you can even put a little savings aside and make that an all day date. Lists keep us accountable to spending our most valuable asset, time, wisely.

Grocery Games. Spending the time to peruse the weekly grocery store ads can be consuming as can coupon hunting, but turning it into a game makes it fun. Each week I scour the ads for what's on sale and keep my meal list to what will save me the most money. Between my Club Cards, Coupons, and Ad scouring I end up saving a lot and I'm always proud to come home and say, "Guess how much I saved today?!" Planning in advance is like putting money right back in our pockets.

Online Banking. Save on stamps, envelopes, and time! Set up automatic bill pay online and eliminate the stress and wasted time of bill paying!

Online Shopping. Using has been a huge money saver for us with my son's supplies like diapers and wipes, especially when he was a newborn. The free shipping alone is saving gas money and the ordering eliminates the hassle of loading the midge in and out of the car as well as lets me use my time wisely--I can shop while he naps. Sites like are great places to find freebies like coffee at Starbucks or smoothies at Jamba Juice.

Eliminate your Land Line. If you have cell phones, you're already paying for your minutes and if you're like me, the one person you really talk to is your spouse so free mobile to mobile is better than the extra $50 for a house phone.

Fun Fund. Our fun fund is our house fund. We keep our home money in cash and as we find something we love it's not a burden to buy it. A) We don't see the money leave our bank account and have to sacrifice a weeks' worth of groceries and B) The money we're saving goes exactly to what we intended to use it for vs. being wasted on something else because we see an extra increase in our account. (*Our home fund is built as we sell things off of craigslist or put cash gifts into it)

Build the Savings Account. Our bank accounts are automatically set up to deduct a specified amount from each of our paychecks into our savings account. It's money that is a part of our budget. Yes, we budget for our savings account. We also budget for our son's savings account as well as his Education Savings Account.

So that's how we do some of it. Don't get me wrong, we continually have to work at squashing the immediate gratification bug but we are always proud when we resist! Yes, having good credit is important, thankfully we have that. But living on credit is not the way we can protect us and keep our monetary life in perspective. We love saving. It's actually really fun for us but it also takes a lot of work and adjustment if you aren't use to it. I believe you can do it though if you aren't already! Start with one thing and become great at it and then take on something new! Baby steps. One thing at a time!

How do you save?!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Son Missing. Replaced with He-Devil.

It would happen that we experienced "The exorcist of the Midge" last night.
It was just par for the course of my heart's emotions in the last week.
Already on the brink of giving in to my desire to crawl in bed and stare at the wall for hours,
this was the last straw.

He's two weeks shy of being two and it's like someone flipped a switch.
I was close to putting up a missing persons ad:
Loving nearly-two year old missing. Replaced with Chucky-esque monstrosity. If cute blonde baby is found, please return him to his parents. Mother on verge jumping in car and driving off the coast.
I wanted to make myself laugh at the very thing that was catapulting me into the thought-pit of failure.
I know "terrible-two's" is a phrase for a reason but I had NO idea that it could be like this.

We went to put Midge in bed last night that and that was all it took...
Out came a convulsing, screaming, body throwing maniac and I went right into:
He learned this at school! He's not going back!
If I were a stay at home mom, this wouldn't happen.
If I played with him more, he'd still be OK.
This is about ME!

There was no talking me off the ledge, I was broken.
My heart was on the floor and I was in a puddle of "I can't do this. I am not made for this."
Along with all the other inadequacies I have been feeling lately, I just couldn't stomach this.
It made me feel like my mom was right--I shouldn't have more kids.
It made me feel like maybe we should just move to Oregon and my dad can help us.
It made me want to give in to all of my bad thoughts and just surrender.
And still--I want to cry.
Even though I've now been told I'm not alone.
I still, very deeply, feel the weight of the thoughts of others who are on the outside looking in and feeling like
"They're all right. I am failing by working. I would be failing to add another child to our family. I have just FAILED."
And it's dark inside my heart right now.
It's dark and lonely and while I fight the anxiety, the panic, the depression
I fight it alone and with the desperate desire to be OK.
I fight it with prayer, even though my heart feels like it's shut off and unable to feel it and the words feel forced and the love feels absent.
God, I'm trying!

Missing: mother's sanity.
If found, please return!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've been more than a little distant lately but my heart is going through some stuff.
I have been doing a lot of reflecting on this:
The Armor of God ~ Ephesians 6:10-18
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
It's amazing how hard it is to get my head and heart to retain truth- that ultimate truth being it is not this world or how it thinks of me that matters, but it is how my Father loves me.
I'm trying to fight and it's a minute to minute thing.
I'm reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer, praying with friends, & surrounding myself with worship- for what I put into my heart will come out (or that's the hope).
In a very real (and USC sense), Fight On!

Monday, April 5, 2010

The "US" in Uterus is Deceiving

Recently there has been some interest my uterus.
More specifically than interest in my uterus is the interest in it's intention for future reproduction.
I hesitate to use such strong words however when someone looks at my nearly two son and says
"So when's the next!"
I feel it's equally as "shocking" to ask such a thing as it is to use words such as "uterus" and "reproduction."I recently had to make a tough work decision.
I was given the opportunity to expand my job knowledge by working for two weeks in Hawaii--with my family none the less.
However, the two weeks just so happen to fall over my son's birthday.
In the interest of family, a party I've already planned, and well--perhaps a little bit of my sanity--I passed on the opportunity to spend two weeks in a tropical office.

When recently questioned to explain why I chose to bypass the opportunity-beyond the fact that it's my son's 2nd birthday I was struggling to find an answer that appeased, it was suggested to me that perhaps I should use the cousin line to "I'm on my period" that would close the door on the questioning--something like, "I'm scheduled to spend time with my husband that week if you know what I mean!"
While I laughed at the thought of how sitcom funny, not real life funny that would be, it reminded me of the twenty questions I received over Easter...

"Wouldn't Midge look great with a sibling? So, it's about that time for another one, right? Or my favorite, you did so well the first time, why not another!"

To answer all: 1. I think he looks great without a crying baby next to him. 2. Not sure what YOU mean by time for another but are you offering to provide live in assistance or at least a weekly babysitter? and 3. Ew. Lets just not talk about that.

So, in an effort to really answer the looming question that seems to be lingering on the palette of family onlookers:

"The application process for opinions on the future of my uterus is now closed. please keep all further applications to yourself and file under 'none of your business'"

PS- I say this with 96.7% laughter and humor.
While I'm open about a TON of personal issues, my reproduction timeline isn't one of them.