Friday, October 29, 2010

Bloggity Blog

Hello Friends.
I do apologize for not blogging frequently anymore. I am not making any promises to start blogging more often. The truth is that I just have other things on my mind right now.

I have SO many wonderful things that I'd love to share with you. I have pictures of the kids at pumpkin patches, stories of going to the zoo and touring Washington DC. Of course, my kids continue to do and say funny things daily. I could probably keep a blog of just the funny things they say and do!

I have been so stressed lately - that is the honest to goodness problem. Even though I am usually comfortable talking candidly about my life and its ups and downs, I have had to draw a line at airing my "dirty laundry" here on the blog. I have been struggling lately with even the simplest of tasks because of my stress level. My poor mom has heard me break down on the phone almost daily because I can't seem to keep up with the laundry or because my son is throwing yet another fit. Its as if I just can't "get it together" right now.

Maybe it has something do to with this pregnancy.

Maybe it has something to do with my health.

I know it has everything to do with my stress level.

So, I am making no promises to blog more often. I'd love to write in the evening and post pictures of the kids, but right now, I pretty much collapse in the tub and then onto the couch every evening just trying to renew as much energy as possible to face another day.

I am trying to turn more and more things over to the Lord. I know He can bear my troubles better than I ever can handle them on my own. I am even doing a bible study entitled, "The Frazzled Female" with hopes that I will find some guidance and answers. I am making friends at my different women's groups, and that does seem to be helping. Being around my sisters in Christ seems to lift my spirit and leave me feeling more capable of tackling the world - or just the dishes and the dirty bathroom.

Bear with me as I go through this valley. I know my road will turn up soon. I can see my friends up there on the hill telling me that things get better. I can see them waving at me! For now, I will just put one foot in front of the other and try and to enjoy my children each day. And kiss my hubby each day when he walks in the door.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than the birds!
Luke 12:22-24

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Missing Piece

Do you like to do puzzles? My mother-in-law does. My husband does. Personally, I hate them. Sure I think the end result is always very cool, but the patience and diligence it requires to build them piece by piece is so agonizingly slow and boring.

With that being said, I feel like my adult life has been a puzzle. When I was younger, I always wondered what my own family would be like.

Who would I marry?
How many kids would I have?
Would they be boys or girls?
Where would we live?
What will we do?

I think that since the day I got married, I have been slowly (sometimes agonizingly slowly) putting together the puzzle of my life. The Lord has revealed to me who I would marry. Then 2 and a half years later, he showed me my first child, a girl. The sweetest most beautiful baby girl in the world.

I continued to put together the puzzle as we moved houses and cities and then eventually made room in our family for another child. This time it was a boy. He was the spitting image of my handsome husband. His dimples still melt my heart.

Knowing that our "puzzle" still wasn't complete, I often wondered who and what would come next. Each day that I spent with my family, I longed to know what it would look like when it was a "complete picture." I dream of the day that we take a family picture, blow it up big and hang it on the wall. But who is in that? What does "complete" look like? Who is in that picture?

Well, friends...we've found the missing piece (or rather, the Lord showed it to us last week) -

I realize that this entry may seem odd coming after the last blog entry describing our lack-of-success with Dave Ramsey. But you know what?

I trust the Lord.
I trust His timing.
I trust His perfect plan.

Plus, I have just about every baby product known to man. Sure there are a few "new" things I'd love to add, but nothing is essential. I know I will breast-feed and I will probably continue cloth diapering. I trust that the Lord will provide for us. I trust that He has a plan for our sweet little baby :-)

I can't WAIT to meet him or her at the end of April! Praise the Lord for our little "puzzle piece."

Its finally Fall!

Happy Fall Ya'll!
(Truthfully, this picture is being posted because my sister requested it...hope you enjoy it too!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Dave Journey

I thought I'd give you an update on our Dave Ramsey success in these last couple weeks. We joyfully set out to stop using our credit card, save $1000, and then begin aggressively paying off our debt. We decided to have a yard sale to finish up our savings and then use the rest to go towards debt. The excitement, however, dwindled there.

Here is what we realized...when we stopped using our credit card and began spending only what we had, we realized that we BARELY have enough to get us through month to month. It's been a huge wake up call to us to learn that we have been living so far beyond our means for so long. (Although I will praise the Lord that we DO make enough to cover our monthly expenses! Even if its just squeaking by.)

Well, let me step back and say that when B was deployed, we made more, so I guess we got used to spending more. But now that he has been home for 3 months, we are settling into "real life" with real E-4 pay - in one of the most expensive areas in the country. Truly I have thought very seriously about going back to work full-time. Its the thought of putting both my kids in full-time daycare that makes me stop every time. I just feel that there has GOT to be a way to make this work!

For us, Dave Ramsey is going to have to be put on hold. Paying off our debt and building our savings is going to have to take a backseat to paying our bills and putting food on the table for the next 4 months. We have a huge blessing come to us each February in the form of our tax rebate. We have already planned that this year, our rebate will go to paying of B's car and paying the next 6 months of our car insurance. Thankfully, that will free up about $300 a month that we can finally begin to put towards some debt.

In the meantime, I am cutting coupons and using them at every store. I no longer buy what I want as I walk up and down the grocery store isle. I buy what is on sale and what is cheaper. My beloved Chocolate Frosted Mini-wheats will have to stay on the shelf. At over $3 a box (and a SMALL box it is), the $1.99 Honey Nut Cheerios seem to be winning out every time. It just makes more sense.

I've come to learn that using coupons is actually pretty fun and that seeing how much I saved at the bottom of my receipt makes it all worth while. I am not one of the "super couponers" that saves more than she spends, but I am very happy with every dollar I can save in the meantime.

I was able to go to a large consignment sale last week and get the kids a few long sleeved shirts for the Fall/Winter. I can't wait to consign some of my own things in the Spring and make some money too!

Oh, and I even got my haircut at Cartoon Cuts with C because they offered a "mommy and me" haircut for $29 - and then gave us a military discount! Is it one of my best haircuts? No. But, she did cut my hair and now it's not driving me nuts :-) I hope to be able to find a grown-up salon that doesn't have outrageous prices for the next one though, haha.

I am finding it difficult to not just run to the store and buy what I want to like I used to be able to do when B was gone. But, as promised, the Lord is providing what I need. My mom graciously mailed me Halloween costumes for each child and just today put another package in the mail full of long sleeved items for them. (She is a super good shopper and saves things as she find them throughout the year....she always has a "stash" of things for Christmas and Birthdays - and I guess now, for clothing emergencies! I have learned that Jesus can use anyone to provide.)

On another note, I have begun feverishly praying for B's promotion in the Army. He has been "promotable" for over a year, but for whatever reason, the Army has chosen to promote no one of his job title in at least 12 months. I keep thinking, "maybe this will be the month!!!" but each month comes and goes and we see that they are promoting nobody. HOWEVER, I know that at some point, they will!! I am praying that day is sooner rather than later :-) They can't keep them all at E-4s forever!

I wanted to write this post to be honest. I feel that I have always been honest with the folks that read my blog, and our finances are no different. If I hide behind a false pretense, I do myself no good. I would still greatly appreciate any money savings tricks and any words of wisdom. I am fully aware that we are not the only American family struggling month to month. I am sure lots of you have advice and success stories to share. :-)

We are already eating as cheaply as possible and trying to sell anything that we can sell for a profit. My biggest concerns are how to deal with times of abnormal gas for going home at Christmas, the Thanksgiving dinner I am hosting here at my house, getting the dog her shots, and of course, Christmas in general. I try not to be stressed about these things since I am doing the best that I can. I have also done my best to turn these "worries" over to the Lord.

He is great and my finances are no surprise to Him. I know that He will show us the way - this month and each month from here on forward. Praise Him for His love and wisdom!

I will keep you updated as we make progress with our debt pay-off and minimal spending plan! Thanks for reading :-) Hope you don't mind the honesty.